What is the Mark of the Beast?

Bible Prophecy – The Mark of the Beast

11)Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12)It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13)It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14)and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15)And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16)Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17)so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18)This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

– Revelation 13:11-18
mark of the beast

The Great Beast Power

John sees a monster coming out of the sea, called forth by the dragon on the coast (12:17). The Hebrews viewed the sea as a chaotic, hazardous, and demonic place (cf. comment on 21:1). Daniel’s vision alludes to 7:3, where he saw “four great beasts . . . from the sea.” Daniel’s beasts represent enormous empires, and Rome – probably- is one of them in John’s mind. The kingdom emerging from the seas is not kind or considerate to its residents. It resembles a threatening and ravenous beast preying on its people instead.

The fourth animal seen by Daniel (Dan. 7:7, 19, 23) is most likely the beast described here (Dan. 7:6). Revelation depicts a beast with ten horns and ten crowns, symbolizing sovereign power (Rev. 17:12; cf. Dan. 7:20, 24), as having seven heads. Its authority and might are also signified by its seven heads. The dragon had seven heads while he still had 10 horns (Rev. 12:3), indicating that he has conferred his power to the beast This connects to what we saw earlier about how both the devil and the dragon have parallels in revelation when it says “dragon.” Obviously, this creature is parodying Christ (cf Attempted Use of the Number 666).

This beast is a composite of several Old Testament images for Gentile world powers that oppress God’s people. It has characteristics of the leopard (Dan. 7:6), bear (Dan. 7:5), and lion (Dan. 7:4). These animals are used in Scripture as metaphors for Babylon, Media-Persia, and Greece respectively – all empires that at some point dominated the Hebrew people. The beast also incorporates aspects of Pharaoh, who persecuted Moses and the Israelites mercilessly, as well as Antiochus Epiphanes, a Syrian ruler in the second century B.C. who tried to stamp out Judaism.

The seven heads bear blasphemous names that may be Roman claims to divinity, such as “Lord,” “son of God,” and “Savior” (cf. 17:3), demonstrating once more the beast’s heavenly pretensions. The beast is not limited to the Roman Empire; it also refers to Rome, but it also applies to every manifestation of evil in all governments throughout history, as well as the final battle ahead.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has released a four-volume series of commentaries on the New Testament. These volumes were written by 14 leading Bible teachers, in more than 12 languages, to aid readers to understand what they say about Christians’ expectations for the future.

The leopard-like creature that emerges from the sea is similar to a lion with eagle’s wings and a mouth like a lion’s. The first (Babylon) in Daniel’s four beast vision was comparable to a lion with eagles’ wings (Dan. 7:4), the second (Medio-Persia) was like a bear, and the third (Greece) was like a leopard (Dan. 7:6). John’s fourth beast is consummated in Daniel’s third beast, which he describes here (Rome; cf. Dan. 7:7, 19, 23). This dragon-ruled, tyrannical beast is not autonomous but derives its dictatorial rule from the dragon, thus it has a demonic governing authority (cf. 2 Thess. 2:8-9).

After being wounded by the sword of Jesus, one of the heads of the beast was healed (cf. 17:8). Many see this to be a reference to an individual; this is certainly feasible. After Nero’s death in AD 68, it became popular belief that he would return (perhaps from Parthia) and reign once again, which may have inspired John. However, if John wrote in the 90s, his most likely date, it is extremely unlikely that he would have had this notion in mind because Nero was no longer alive. It is more probable that the phrase refers to the empire as a whole.

The fatal injury represents the apparent downfall of tyrannical rule. Rome’s empire appears to have been deposed and banished for good. However, the realm is not destroyed; rather, when it looks like its tyranny has come to an end, its authority is restored. The so-called death blow proves ineffective. The world is surprised by the beast and submits to him, since a demonic empire revival is a form of resurrection, and as a result, the beast mocks Christ once more.

Worship of the Beast

The existence of the beast and his empire engenders worship of the dragon and the beast. The dragon is revered for giving power to the beast. Because of his alleged resurrection, he is venerated as incomparable and all-powerful, like God (cf. Ex 15:11; Ps 89:7). People reverence the beast, believing he is unstoppable and unassailable. People have always shown their loyalty to a winner, as has been noted throughout history

In the next verse, we learn that the beast was given a mouth and authority for forty-two months. The phrase “it was given” (edothē) is used four times more in this chapter (13:7 [2x], 14, 15). God reigns and governs over what the beast performs, allowing or permitting the beast to exercise his power.

Despite the fact that God orders what the beast accomplishes, he does not have the same goals or intent as Satan. God’s judgment is his “strange” work (Isa. 28:21), and he requests sinners to repent and live (Ezek. 18:23, 32), while Satan gloats when people are destroyed. The Lord owns the “mysteries” (Deut. 29:29). As a result, we cannot fully chart or explains the logical link between divine sovereignty and human responsibility in detail.

666 angel number

The Beast Opposes God

The beast is supremely egotistical, bellowing blasphemous taunts against God, just as Antiochus IV Epiphanes did in his time (Dan. 7:8; 11:36), representing the future beast (cf. Dan. 7:8; 11:36). Such behavior is consistent with the “man of lawlessness,” who promotes himself as a god (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). For forty-two months, the beast has the authority to do anything he wants.

Some interpret this to be a full three and one-half years before Jesus returns. John, on the other hand, is more likely referring to the entire time between Christ’s first and second comings (cf. comment on Rev. 11:2); John wasn’t talking about days that were far in the future for his readers but of how Roman Empire domination has impacted them. All totalitarian regimes claiming divine authority are analogous to the beast.

John’s special interest is in the beast’s resistance to God, with particular reference to Daniel. The beast’s self-exaltation is evident in his speech, which blasphemes God and his name, as it was in verse 5. He follows the Antiochus IV Epiphanes pattern, according to whom Daniel 7:25 says, “He shall blaspheme against the Most High.”

The beast’s statement that “We’ve come here to worship the one true God, and now you don’t want us to do anything” (2:15) is confirmed by the fulfillment of Daniel 11:36, in which it says he will exalt himself and magnify himself above every other god and bring accusations against the God of gods. The beast also reviles God’s dwelling-those who dwell in heaven (cf. Rev. 12:12). This may be a reference to God’s people (21:3), suggesting that their real home is in heaven. The actions of the beast here are consistent with those of Daniel 7:25, where the beast opposed God and his followers. The creature hates everything and anybody devoted to the one true God.

God Reigns Over the Beast

Twice more, we see what God has given (edothē) the beast. First, God has permitted him to wage war on the saints and conquer them. This does not imply that the saints abandon their faith (cf. comment on 11:7). It means God allows the beast to kill them (cf. 2:13; 6:9-11; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24; 19:2; 20:4); this follows in line with Daniel’s account of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, where he says that “this horn made war against the saints and prevailed over them” (Dan. 7 The horns are said in relation to Antiochos’ conflict with Israel at Dan 7 by several authors).

For a period of time, God allows the desires of the beast to rule over every tribe, language, people, and nation. The imperial cult’s reach is evident here, as well as the beast’s authoritarianism.

The Authority of the Beast

Those on the earth are terrified and inspired by the beast’s power and authority, and they worship him. The passage appears to imply that everyone on earth worships the beast, but “all who dwell on the earth” (pantes hoi katoikountes epi tēs gēs) is a technical term in Revelation for atheists (see comment on 3:10). Such a conclusion is buttressed by the following sentence, which refers to those who live on the ground.

Those who will not perish in the lake of fire are written in the book of life (Dan. 12:1; Phil 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27). Those who submit to the beast demonstrate that they do not belong to God.

The verse, “This is the testimony,” refers to someone who has been judged and found guilty. This person was shut in a cage and burned at the stake. Here’s what it would have looked like: There are differing views on this question, but most English translations interpret these words as those “written before the creation of the world in the book of life.” In Revelation 17:8, John uses similar terms when he says that “the dwellers on earth whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world” were imprisoned. The word order in 13:8 might imply, alternatively, that John is referring to “the Lamb slain from before time began” (cf. KJV NIV).

Despite the fact that word order is not significant, John’s words indicate that he’s referring to people who were inscribed in the book of life before history began. After all, Christ’s death was predetermined prior to history, but it is a significant difference to claim he was murdered before time began, for the Lamb was slain in time rather than before it began. God decided who would be inscribed in the book of life prior to history beginning.

Prepare Yourselves

John goes back to the pattern used in all seven letters (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). Those with ears should open their ears and pay attention to what is being said. People are informed about the beast’s authority and persecution of Christians as well as his execution of Christians. Unbelievers will submit to the beast by offering him worship and adulation. Believers must prepare themselves for this since some people will be taken captive. They will go into captivity.

Another group of people will be slain with the sword, as it will be (cf. Jer. 15:2; 43:11). Such occurrences do not imply that God has abandoned or forgotten about them; the beast’s power merely reflects God’s sovereignty over the world. As a result, believers are urged to endure and remain true to their Lord. Despite the adversity and challenges they face, they must stay loyal to their cause.

The next section (13:11-18) begins with John seeing yet another beast rising out of the ground. The “false prophet” is another name for this other monster, who claims to be a spokesperson for God (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The second beast, then, represents religious authority as opposed to God’s Word and behavior. If the first beast is the Roman Empire, the second could be an imperial priesthood.

The duplicity of the second beast is evident-he has two horns like a lamb, implying that he is in agreement with the Lamb, but he really speaks like the dragon and reveals his message to be Satanic. Jesus himself stated that false prophets would appear “in sheep’s clothing” while being “roving rapacious wolves.”

The second beast is the unholy trinity’s third member, who acts like a demonic Spirit. He has the power of the first beast under his command, compelling people all over the world (including nonbelievers) to worship the beast. Unbelievers are eager to comply since the beast appeared to have divine abilities, surviving from what seemed to be a fatal injury. The beast, in other words, had its own take on the resurrection-just when it looked like totalitarianism was dying for good, it resurrected from the ashes to rule once more.

The second beast’s supernatural power is bolstered by the credibility of its miraculous abilities (16:14). In other words, false religion appears to be empirically verified. Just as Elijah was able to cause fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:38), so here false religion is said to be proved by wonders and signs. Jesus (Matt. 24:24) and Paul (2 Thess. 2:9) taught that false Christs and prophets would perform miracles in order to test believers’ faith in God.

The inhabitants of the earth, however, are fooled by the signs, believing that the beast is deserving of homage and praise. As a result, people make an image of the beast in order to worship it. Images were made for religious purposes, and John emphasizes that the beast is revered since it appeared to be dead but resurrected. “Image” does not imply that a real image of the beast was created; rather, it refers to John’s apocalyptic and symbolic way of describing how people worshiped the beast.

“Lives” (ezēsen) is used in the New Testament of Christ’s resurrection (Rom. 14:9; Rev. 2:8) and “They came to life” (ezēsan) in another passage means believers’ spiritual or physical resurrection (20:4-5). Because the empire appears to be dead but keeps resurrecting, unbelievers venerate the beast for its resurrective power. The beast, then, is a mocking imitation of Christ.

The second beast fulfills the same function as the Holy Spirit, just as the Spirit came to glorify Jesus (John 16:14) and anoint him with power (Luke 4:18-21). The second beast honors and empowers the first in much the identical way that the first beast did. When John refers to it as giving life to the image of the beast, we should not think about a figure coming alive in reality. Instead, what he’s implying is that the false prophet gives authority and legitimacy to the empire.

Rev. 14:9-11; 16:2; 19:20, 20:4 Those who worship the beast demonstrate their loyalty to someone other than God (cf. Dan. 3:5-6). Nebuchadnezzar was also demanding absolute obedience (3:5-6). They reveal that they do not belong to the one true God when they bow before the beast (Rev. 14:9-11, 16:2, 19:20, 20:4)).

We must be willing to suffer, to give our all for Christ, to persevere until the end in order to obtain the final reward.

The Mark of the Beast

The second beast also serves as a vehicle for the first beast’s power, forcing people to comply through economic discrimination. No one will be able to purchase or sell unless he has a mark on his forehead or hand indicating devotion to the animal. The number represents the name of the beast (15:2). Some interpreters take this statement literally, assuming that foreheads and hands will be marked in some manner, but it is more likely figurative.

This seal, like the marks on the foreheads of the 144,000 (7:3), is not to be taken literally. In any case, believing Christians are driven out of the marketplace by the two beasts.

The last of John’s seven seals is a remark that has intrigued and perplexed interpreters throughout history. He invites the readers to be intelligent so that they may count the number of the beast. The number is 666, according to John.

Some manuscripts read 666, but the majority think it is better known as Nero Caesar. If you transliterate “Nero Caesar” from Greek into Hebrew letters, they add up to 666; nevertheless, it’s doubtful that the original audience would have understood this complex answer.

Throughout history, many wild speculations about the individual’s identity have been circulated, and every guess has thus far been incorrect. The benefit of viewing a reference to Nero is that he corresponds to the period during which John wrote when there was uncertainty and dread that Nero would return from Parthia after his death. Still, seeing a reference to Nero isn’t straightforward or evident; one must transliterate from Greek to Hebrew to arrive at the number 666, which seems like a stretch for the audience.

Also, as previously said, if Revelation was composed in the 1990s, Nero’s return would have been less of a concern. Perhaps it is time to take a different road.

Perfection is symbolized by the number 777, but John says that the number 666 represents a human being. 666, then, represents all that is antichrist and opposite to God. If perfection and absolute goodness are signified by 777, then 666 signifies the immensity and totality of evil. As a result, there’s no particular person in mind for John when he says this.

Instead, the kingdom of the beast is a human kingdom rather than a heavenly one. Human nature apart from God is diabolical in nature. The kingdom of the beast promises pleasure and success but delivers death, suffering, and devastation instead.

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