The Four Main Views of Revelation 13:5-10

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the cause and effect of Emperor Worship, which was prevalent with most of the Roman Emperors. If you did not worship the Emperor, you lost your land and often, your life too. The Jews and Christians were the only groups who refused this practice and that is shy they were singled out for persecution. Worship also meant allegiance and loyalty, which was not the problem; it was when they said they were god, or a god, that caused dissention (John 19:15; Rom. 12:1-2). Thus, the antichrist figure was also predominate through Roman history as opposing Christ, His people, and waging war—all things that took place then and continues to do so in various means today. Thus, this passage is about Nero and the other Roman persecutions against the Early Church. Given power is seen as God’s sovereignty, and make war as the devil’s ways and attacks on the believers as well as Nero’s attacks and persecutions to the faithful. Forty-two (42) months was seen as short time for God’s judgments and/or a literal time of attack on Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that Nero’s attack and siege on Jerusalem actually lasted 42 months—November 64AD to June 68AD. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as the second half of the Great Tribulation as expressed by this phrase, 42 months. Most see this as a Europe possessed by Satan, who leads a revived Roman Empire (This is exactly what Hitler and Mussolini did and why this view saw him as the antichrist at that time), who creates peace in the holy land, and becomes a world ruler until Christ returns and defeats him. (As thrilling and exciting, and could possibly be probable, as self fulfilling, it is not found either in this passage or from the rest of Scripture.) Blaspheme is seen as Daniel’s “pompous words” and self-exulting words of the antichrist (2 Thess 2:4). Let him hear is seen as a warning to the seven churches and/or to us today. Captivity is usually seen as Satan being defeated by Christ. Endurance is seen as a call to the Church to be patient; God is in control and will win. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as the command and control of evil governments who seek to subjugate and subvert their people, such as Nazi Germany and Communism. Governments have the right to expect loyalty, but not to seek what belongs to God alone (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-14). This is also about the influence of Satan as an ageless principle that evil’s influence and power are not absolute or unconditional like God’ love and grace are. Forty-two (42) months is seen as the siege of Nero against Jerusalem. Authority is seen as the persecutions to the faithful over the centuries, and captivity to some is being caught up in evil while others see this as the fate of the beast. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as symbols and procedures of evil. Blaspheme is seen as one making him or herself equal with God or deceitfully convincing others that he or she is God. Usually in this camp, the Catholic Church and its papacy are the targets of being evil, because of the tribulations and persecutions of the faithful over the centuries, with very specific charges for most medieval popes. Forty-two (42) months is the span of 1260 years seen in chapter 11, with the time period of conflict being between the faithful and the apostate, medieval Catholic Church.

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Exegetical look into Revelation 13:5-10

 

  • Was given: This calls attention to the best as being subordinate to Satan, and Satan is subordinate to God; God is still in control (Greek is passive)!  
  • Forty-two (42) months: A metaphor for a limited time of unrestrained impiety, evil, and/or oppressions. This is symbolic, referring to grace, that He is still there and sets His limits of what persecution will take place, by His grace. See Revelation 11:1-6 study for more info (Dan. 7:25; 9:27; 12:7-12; Rev. 11-13).
  • Proud words and blasphemies: This too is a contrast, as Satan is proud and Christ is the Servant leader; Satan blasphemes while Christ edifies and praises God (Heb. 2:12).
  • Exercise his authority” God allows, but establishes limits for His purpose that we do not fully know, pointing to Daniel 7:21-22 and the antichrist-like figure or representation, meaning opposing Christ. It is perhaps a reference to perhaps Nero and/or Domatian who greatly persecuted the early Christians, actually setting them on fire to light their gardens at night.
  • Blaspheme God: refers to pride and the proud mouth. Also an image of Antiochus Epiphanes, 215–163 BC, who was a Greek ruler and a madman who greatly oppressed the Jews, tried to wipe them out, partily destroyed Jeruslum, and mocked God while demanding that he be worshiped. Most Jewsih scholars belive this is who Daniel was warning about (Dan. 7:8-25; 11:36; 1 Macc. 1:24; 41-43). 
  • Make war against the saints: The contrasting images of war and peace; on one side, Satan as a warrior leader who brings war; on the other side, the great, divine warrior Christ, who brings peace, both battling it out. The war is the persecution of those who refuse to worship what is false or evil. The good news here is that despite the persecutions, Christians of faith have victory as the prayers of the faithful that reach heaven are used to finally defeat evil and the beast (Ex. 15:3-11; Is. 59:16-18; 63:1-6; Dan. 7:1-8; Hab. 3:3-15; Zech. 9:13-16; 14:1-5; Rev. 12:17; 19:11-21).
  • Every tribe… all inhabitants: The contrast is to pledge our allegiance to Christ by His sacrifice, or to Satan by his deception. (See Revelation 5: 8-14 study). When we are in Christ, we are part of a greater Kingdom than one Satan can mimic or link us to.
  • Will worship the beast: The emphasis is the intimidation and persuasion to worship what is false, and people responding out of ignorance or desire. Neither is an excuse.
  • The Book of Life: This is basically the heavenly roster of the saints who have been found by Christ as faithful, who received their election, and who persevered. All ancient cities had rosters of those who lived there, and those added and expelled, like a census. Like a city roster, the Book of Life contains the names of all the people who are currently living. When a person dies, if he or she has claimed Jesus as Lord, has received his or her election, has let it become rooted in him or her, and has been faithful and obedient remains in this book. All others are blotted out. This also refers to predestination. Once our names are in His book and we are saved by His grace, we are secure in our faith and have eternal security (Ex. 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; Dan. 12:1; Rom. 9:19-21; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:1-6; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:19, 27).
  • Was slain/Lamb slain: Satan’s attempt to mock the character and work of the Lamb who died to purchase the sins of those whom God has chosen. Satan can try to mimic but he can’t reproduce Christ’s work or take our salvation away (Is 53:7; John 1:29, 36; Rev. 1:18; 2:8; 17:8).
  • He who has an ear, let him hear: This is perhaps a warning to the seven churches that God means what He says (Ezek. 33:30-32; James 1: 21-27; 2 Pet. 1: 3-11)! This also means that God fulfills His promises. Do you take His Word seriously, learning and applying it? If not, why not?
  • Go into captivity: A warning to the barbarians, Romans, and other persecuting powers that invaded the Jews and threatened the Christians. This is also an image of judgment, and a warning against rebellion and the consequences for our own bad actions and decisions (Jer. 15:2; 43:11; Rev. 14:11-12).
  • If anyone is to be killed with the sword: Here, the beast forces worship, whereas a Christian worships God out of gratitude for who He is and what He has done. If the faithful do not comply, the beast kills them, as this has taken place countless times on countless occasions. The comfort we have is that our martyrdom does not mean the end; it means victory for us and Christ (Rev. 6:9-11; 19:11-21).
  • Patient endurance and faithfulness: This is the call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or the temptations of Satan. We are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress. This theme is prominent in Revelation (Matt. 26:51-54; 2 Cor. 10:4; 1 Pet. 2:19-24; Rev. 1:9; 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7, 11, 14).

Revelation 13:5-10: What are the Contexts?

 

This passage is about our allegiance; whom do we trust and on what hope do we place our life. Will it be good or evil? Will our faith be in Christ or will we allow ourselves to be misled, seeking the desires of the flesh rather than faith and our Lord Jesus Christ? 

The book of life, or Lamb’s Book of Life, is a powerful and important theme for what we trust and have hope for, especially for those under persecution and oppression. It is basically a divine ledger that is first mentioned in Exodus 32:32-33 (Psalm 69:28; Dan. 12:1; Mal. 3:16; Rev. 17:8). It is a register of all the citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven, the register of the elect who will escape God’s wrath (Rev. 21:27). Those whose names are not in the book of Life are cast into hell (Rev. 20:15). Our names were written in the book before the foundations of the world (Rev. 17:8), and when one comes to faith in Christ, he or she is among those who were purchased by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 3:5; 5:9). 

Remember, God is outside of time and space, so we have to stretch our minds a bit. It was written long before we were born, and it is “sealed” when our faith become real and impacting. Some say it is erased when we are called but never respond, while others say it was never written if one never comes to faith. The Armenians see it as God looking through the corridors of time and making His decision. The Reformed position is that God elects us for His purpose, but does not damn us (double predestination); we damn ourselves as “our choice becomes His preordained degree.” (St. Augustine). The Bible teaches both, but the emphasis is on God’s sovereignty as clearly spelled out in Romans—it is to His purpose. If it were just about what we would do, then the work of salvation would be based on what we have done and not on what Christ has done; the work of Christ would then be pointless (a pure Armenian position.) 

The Book of Life was also a symbol of comfort and security for the early Christians who were being persecuted; they could look to their promise and reward and remember that this life is temporary and only a training ground for what is to come. We need to understand that God has a guarantee for us and this life is only a shadow where we learn character and maturity; we are not made for this world, but for the one to come. We are to learn and grow through all that is given to us and make the most of our lives, but our true home and reward is still to come (Rev. 17:8; 20:12 –27). To have one’s name erased from this book would seem a loss of our citizenship in Heaven due to renouncing of faith or an unpardonable sin. We get this from our English readings of the passage (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; Phil. 4:3); however, it is more to the indication that the name was never present. “Erased” was a metaphor in the Hebrew language and culture meaning it never happened, whereas in our language, it means it was once there and now it is gone. It is a basic misunderstanding of Greek into English, but Greek scholars are still in debate over this trivial and minor area.

Revelation 13:5-10

Introduction 

The Beast is Worshiped! 

The beast demands worship from and declares war upon the faithful as people continue to worship this beast, uncaring and un-convicted of the Real, Holy God. As this beast blasphemes God, he is waging intense war on the believers, counterfeiting our Lord and deceiving multitudes of people. In this, he is persecuting them and turning what is good to be evil and what is evil to be as good, twisting, manipulating and misleading; however, those who follow are still responsible for the choices they make. Thus, their names are not on His Lamb’s Book of Life. We should all take heed of what God says; those who follow evil will have what is coming to them, but there is still opportunity for repentance, to know and Worship the One True God, and endure in faith for Him. 

For a limited time, it seems that God allows this beast to do as he pleases, slandering, causing havoc, and waging war against the faithful. People worship this beast, callous and uncaring of the Real, Holy God. We do not know why; all we can do is trust and be prepared, which is John’s message to us: stand firm in faith and do not be carried away with trivialities or by intense persecution. 

Why do you suppose Christians are attracted to charismatic leaders with little substance rather than leaders who disciple and convict? 

Would people in your church rather have a good, charismatic pastor who makes them feel happy and motivates but does not teach well, or a pastor who is a great teacher and convicts and challenges people but has a less than desirable personality? 

Who would Christ rather have leading your church? Why?

What does Revelation 11:1-6 mean to us now?

 

The “two witnessesare somewhat of a mystery. There are many theories, but the point that is often missed by the speculators is the call and example to be faithful in dire times. Some commentators say that a literal, new Moses and Elijah will come, but the word meanings and context clearly point to the Church. Again, this misses the greater point of faithfulness (Rev. 1:6; 5:10). 

The controversies that arise in Revelation are exemplified in this text. As many commentators and speculators focus on who these two witnesses can be, the conjectures abound. The good, prevailing theories are that these are two humans who are faithful and God empowers them as courageous examples to the Church. They can be ordinary Christians, perhaps prophets in the Old Testament sense. The next controversy is about when they do appear; will it have been had been at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or will it be just before Jesus comes back. It is more probable, because of the Lamp stands, that they  are symbolic representatives of the two good, faithful churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia seen or given as a model for us to follow and not necessarily literal. But the defining is not as important as the actuality of their mission, which is faithfulness, and which means more and applies further and deeper than any theories that could all possibly be wrong (Deut. 17:6; 19:15).  

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What does it mean to you to be a witness? What needs to happen for you and people in your church to be better witnesses?
  1. God is omniscient, which means He is all knowing; this also refers to His power and ability, in which all things are under His control and plan. In addition, He cares for and is active and involved in our lives personally and collectively as a Church. So, how does this fact affect your faith and plans in your life and church? (Because God is omniscient, I will….)
  1. The goal of pagans and people who hate God is to get rid of anything that convicts them and points to truth. How do you feel about this? How does knowing this give you confidence in faith?
  1. Have you ever considered your actions as ripples in a pond caused by throwing in a small stone? How so?
  1. What can you do to be sure you have no reason or need to fear our Lord for the future? How can this help your reverence and trust in His protection and provision?
  1. What does greatness in faith mean to you and your church? What would happen if your church took more seriously its call to model “greatness” or become people who exemplify true stature and character? In so doing, what would your church look like? How would it be impacting to its members and neighborhood?
  1. If God showed you two great witnesses of faith, perseverance, and courage, what would they look like? What could you do to be like them?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

 

The Four Main Views of Revelation 11:1-6

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as a reference to Ezekiel. To measure is seen from Ezekiel, chaps 40-47, to divide from what is holy from what is profane and corrupt as what defines a true Temple of God; the results from the examination mean judgment and destruction. The call to remain pure and reform was rejected by the Jews and thus the Temple was destroyed (Is. 1:12; Jer. 10:16; 51:19; Ezek. 22:26; 40-43; Zech. 2:1-5; Dan. 7:25; Luke 21:24; Rev. 21:15-16). (Forty-two) 42 months is seen as the length of Nero’s war with the Christians and/or the siege of Jerusalem. The two witnesses seem to have baffled many in this camp, as it seems to point to a hole in their theory. (All these views have holes because our reasoning is limited and we tend to look to our own education and agendas, not at the big picture, and do not do all of the inductive research to see what the text is really saying.) Many see them as symbolic of a testimony to corrupt Judaism, as two literal people or prophets who are lost to history, as the “lamp stands” and “olive trees” from Zechariah 4:11-14, or as representative of the witnesses of Christ. Some have said they were Peter and James. 

The Futurist view: They see to “measure” as representing God’s ownership of his faithful during the tribulation and/or His preservation and protection of them. The “Temple of God” is seen as a new one, yet to be rebuilt, which, citing examples from Ezekiel, people in this camp see as an even essential prior to Christ’s return. However, a major exegetical, textual problem occurs with this view as the Temple had already been destroyed, then rebut twice, once right after Ezekiel’s prophecy and again under Herod. It was destroyed in 70 AD. The Temple represents faithfulness and/or the Church: the people of God and the “outer court” are seen as representing apostasy and/or the distinction of people remaining faithful or not during the tribulation. The “two witnesses” are viewed as literal forerunners to Christ’s return, those faithful ones who preach and prophecy during the tribulation, or that Moses or Enoch and Elijah actually come back to do that. The “42 months” and “1260” days are seen as the first half of the great Tribulation, the last half, or a time after the tribulation. 

The Idealist view: They see to “measure” as God’s awareness of His worshipers—those who are true and those who are not as referenced by the “outer court.” Also, this refers to apostasy invading the Church such as liberality and worldliness. (It is ironic that most who hold this view are mainline liberals.) The “Temple of God” is seen as the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies where the high priest entered once a year to dust, which to this view refers to those who are true worshipers of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5). (Forty-two) “42 months” is seen as grace, limiting the time of persecution (Dan. 7:25). The “two witnesses” refer to the church as a witness to the world from mission movements. “Sackcloth” refers to bringing the message of repentance. The “olive trees” refer to Zerubbabel and Joshua who were agents of restoration. “Fire from mouths” means those who bring harm to the Church will be judged. 

The Historicist view: They see to “measure” as to look over and examine the church and see what is real, true, and devout, and what is distorted from God’s call and God’s authority given to those who are to reform the Church. The “Temple of God” is seen as the church of true, devout believers drawing from other N.T. passages (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Thess. 2:4). The “outer court” or Court of the Gentiles is seen as the visible Church that becomes a corrupt institution, devoid of real, heartfelt worshipers, such as the Roman Catholic Church or liberalism. These were the indicators that gave the Reformers the vision and reassessment to reform the Church back to God and away from corruption which led to the Reformation. (Forty-two) “42 months” is seen as 1260 years, the duration of the Catholic Church and its persecution of true believers up to the Reformation. The “two witnesses” are representative of the faithful Christians who tried to reform and stand against the Catholic Church such as Huss and Wycliffe. The miraculous power given is seen as an instrument and reason for God’s judgments and/or clothed in God’s power (Deut. 32:2; Is. 55:10). “Fire from mouths” means the power of preaching and the power of the Spirit and/or from Jeremiah 5:14. The plagues are seen as the evils resulting from the corruption of the Church, such as wars and the inquisitions. 

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 11:1-6

 

  • Measuring rod/Reed was a surveyors tool, made from cane plant, a type of bamboo that grew beside the Jordan river, and grew to a consistent 20 feet (Ezek. 40:3; Zech. 2:1-2).
  • Measure. The Jewish mindset then believed that saying how vast and magnificent was the Temple was a way of praising God (Psalm 48:12-13; Ezek. 40:3-42:20; Zech 2:1-5). This term also refers to God’s omniscience, (that He is all knowing) that He cares and is active and involved in our lives personally and collectively as a Church. This also refers to God’s power and ability, and that all things are under His control and plan (Ezek. 40:1-43:17; Rev. 21:15).
  • Go and measure. In ancient times to measure something meant you owned it or were claiming ownership of the item being measured, usually property. This meant that what was measured was claimed; it is mine and I have responsibility and direction over it. Here, it appears that John is claiming the Temple in the Lord’s Name, measuring and pointing to the rights to it for the Lord. 
  • Temple of God. This represents God’s presence on Earth. This is not where He lives, as He is omnipresent and thus cannot be confined; rather, it is His representative and a place where people can worship Him. For those who feel Revelation was written after the Temple’s destruction around 90 A.D., this may refer to those who are left, His “remnant,” God’s chosen people. (Rev. 4:1-5:14). 
  • Altar. The context is worship; this may imply that this is the “great altar.”
  • Count the worshipers indicates those who are faithful and who have not bowed to idolatry, committed adultery with God, or given up their faith in tough times, but who have persevered. These are the people He seals and protects (Rev. 7:1-17). 
  • Exclude. God is not the One who excludes; it is we who reject and fight against Him (Is. 56:3-7; 66:5).
  • Outer court refers to The Court of the Gentiles which is the large outer section of the Temple (26 acres in Jesus’ Time) where the Gentiles were allowed to gather, this also denotes a form of evangelism (Gen. 12).
  • Given to the Gentiles refers to the attacks on God’s people by those who hate God, who are “outsiders” who refuse His grace and call. God freely gives to the Temple’s oppressors what is theirs—the courtyard, the gathering point for those who are not His Chosen People. But they, the Romans, take it all and destroy it in 70 A.D.
  • Trample. The goal of pagans was to get rid of anything that convicted them or pointed to truth; the Temple represented both. Thus, it was an object of wrath and a prime objective of destruction to many. The Temple has been vandalized, broken down many times, and destroyed completely at least three times by its enemies (Psalm 79:1; Is. 63:1-18; 1 Macc. 3:45; 6:40; Luke 21:24).
  • Holy city. Most likely it is Jerusalem that is in view. Some say it is Rome, but that would be like telling people who live in New York, NY that Los Angeles or Paris was the great holy city, and that would be absurd. Nothing of Rome was considered great or holy to a first century Jew.
  • (Forty-two) 42 months was a metaphor for a limited time of unrestrained impiety, evil, and/or oppressions, possibly meaning the symbolic timeframe of the Temples destruction or the Syrian dictator, Antiochus Epiphanes (168-165 B.C.) who instigated great suffering to the Jews and defiled the Temple and shut it down for over three years. Not necessarily a literal number, “42 months” is symbolic, referring to grace, “a time, times and a half time” or 3 ½ years, which means half of seven years. This is pointing to grace as God cuts the suffering in half. The context denotes an intense time of conflict and stress as evil people fight against God’s people; yet, He is still there and sets His limits of what persecution will take place by His grace (Dan. 7:25; 9:27; 12:7-12; Rev. 11-13).
  • Give power refers to God’s control as He uses His servants as His instruments; their impact is like a ripple in a pond caused by throwing in a small stone. In addition, we have no reason or need to fear our Lord for the future; rather, we can reverence and trust in His protection and provision.
  • Two witnesses are two people (either angelic or human) who are God’s representatives. They possibly represent some sort of Moses and Elijah. Their call is to stand against the beast and testify to the believers to stand for the faith, possibly in the final days before Christ returns. 
  • Prophesy for 1,260 days. Not necessary literal, some view this as denoting the Great Tribulation (from Daniel,) which really means enduring great troubles. Three and a half years is the same meaning as 42 months—42 months of 30 days each x 30 days = 1,260 days. (Dan. 9:2-24; Rev. 12:6). 
  • Clothed in sackcloth meant being remorseful and repentant. It referred to a coarse burlap type of material woven from goat hair to signify one’s mourning or repentance. This also denotes, as Zechariah states, a promise for a full restoration and blessing for God’s people (Joel 1:13; Jonah 3:5-6; Matt. 11:21).
  • Two olive trees. Olive Trees in combination with Lamp stands usually refers to the two anointed ones, such as Moses and Elijah, or the ruling class of priests and kings. In Zechariah, this meant presenting two ruling houses—“the king” and “the priest,” possibly referring to Zerubbabel and Joshua (Zech. 4:2-14). Many Jewish thinkers see this as futuristic, pointing to a messianic figure, either a priest or a king. Both were fulfilled in Christ.
  • Two lampstands refers to reverence to God. Also, in Revelation, it refers to the Church as the body of believers whose duty it was to be a light as a witness for Christ. The objects possibly point to the two good of the seven churches. The description in this passage calls attention to the scope and power that God gives for us to remain faithful and give an effectual testimony (Rev. 1:12-20).
  • Stand before the Lord refers to those who are His representatives and/or His Church (Matt. 18:10; Rev. 4:4). It could also have referred to O.T figures that did not die, such as Enoch and Elijah, the power and impact of Moses, or to the Zechariah passage. Most probably, it was all of the above.
  • Fire comes from their mouths possibly refers to some supernatural spiritual gifting that God gives these beings (Lev. 9:24-10:02; 1 Kings 17:1; 18:41). In the Jewish culture then, it meant to stare back at someone spitefully who was being disrespectful. But, because of the mouth usage, this is also a metaphor for prophesying Judgments; these events could happen literally, be metaphorical, or both (1 Kings 1:10-12; Jer. 5:10-14).
  • Power to shut up the sky refers to drought that was used as punishment for disobedience (1 Kings 17:1; 18; Luke 4:25; James 5:17). Elijah was a miracle worker. He is not an esoteric figure but an inspiration and incentive for the power and prominence we have available to us. Elijah also represents the “everyman,” who, by his prayer life, was powerfully used by God (1 Kings 17:1; 18: 1, 41-46; 1 Sam. 12:17-18)! 
  • Turn the waters into blood. This is reminiscent of Moses and the miracles God used through him to convince Pharaoh and the Israelites of God’s purpose and power (Ex. 7:14-25). John may be using this part of the passage also as a slap in the face to the arrogant Jew who refused to see Christ—who still wanted for a messiah when one had already come (Deut. 18:15-18; Mal 4:5).