Revelation Chapter Thirteen Part III

The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea

Revelation 13:13 “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,”

The false Prophet, through the power of the Dragon, will be able to mimic God’s true prophets. We see fire coming down from heaven is several places in Scripture.

God brought fire down from heaven when the Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against Moses in the wilderness (Hum 16:35). Elijah called on Yahweh to rain fire down from heaven on the priests of Baal (1 Kin 18:38). Elijah also called on God to send down fire on 100 of King Ahaziah’s men sent to arrest him (2 Kin 1:10; 12).

Additionally the beast will mimic Jannes and Jambres, the magicians of Egypt (Exo 7:11; 2 Tim 3:8), who were able to duplicate Aaron’s staff becoming a serpent, and the plagues of water turning to blood, and of frogs. Notice that the wonders were done by the magicians, using their enchantments.

When reading the Scripture it may appear that these magicians in Egypt instantly performed their tricks. But that is not so. Notice that Aaron’s staff became a snake and then Pharaoh called them. These magicians had time to figure out how to work their “magic.” They were able to color the water red, catch frogs, and the probably kept snakes in their repertoire. But when lice or gnats came, that made it impossible for the magicians to collect enough gnats or lice to mimic such a miracle.

The word rendered enchantments in the KJV, simply mean “secret arts.” Arts are abilities, techniques, skills, etc. Arts can also describe cunning, trickery, schemes, plots, etc. These are the same secret arts magicians or illusionists use today. They use trickery, sleight of hand, mirrors, optical illusions, etc. and do not reveal their techniques outside of their fraternity—they keep them secret. That is how Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated the real miracles produced by God through Moses and Aaron.

Now we know that Satan, the dragon, is a powerful individual, and we understand he has the power to produce supernatural miracles like fire falling from the sky, etc. (Mat 24:24; Mar 13:22; 2 Thes 2:9; Job 1:16). Therefore, it is also possible that Satan or one of his demonic forces may very well have supernaturally helped Pharaoh’s magicians’ tricks to occur. (Be reminded that supernatural does not necessarily mean spooky, but simply means outside of nature.) All of the heavenly hosts, angels, cherubim, seraphim, the heavenly council (Jer 23:18; 22; Ps 111:1; Dan 7:10), demons, etc. are supernatural as is the Trinity.

Regardless of their origin, these “miracles”, whether they be really supernatural or simply illusion or sleight of hand or all of these methods, they will be impressive enough that the world will be fooled into believing that the dragon is truly deity, thus compelling them to worship the dragon and the first beast, which is the empire of the Antichrist.

Revelation 13:14 “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.”

Jesus spoke of this: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24) The beast is a false prophet who represents a false Christ. These signs and wonders, or counterfeit “miracles,” will have the appearance of supernatural events that only Almighty God could accomplish.

This tells us that the “miracles” produced will be so realistic that it will be difficult for even God’s elect, that is, saved Jews and saved Gentiles, to discern; they may even be misled by them. Those who are well versed in the Scriptures will be least likely to be deceived, but those that are new converts, and those that do not study the Scriptures diligently may be deceived.

However, our God is faithful, and He will not allow His people to be deceived. He will intercede by shortening the period (Mat 24:22) in which this False Prophet will be able to operate. Let us not speculate on the length of this shortening; let us depend upon the Scriptures. Refer to Daniel 7:25; 8:13,14; 12:11,12 cf. Dan 9:27.

A reprieve such as this happened in the past. During the siege of Jerusalem, Christians escaped to Pella in Perea (in modern Jordan) between the retreat of Cestius Gallus from Jerusalem and the advance of Vespasian and his armies circa 70 AD. Eusebius 1 and Adam Clarke2 record this history. According to Ecc 1:9 this has happened in the past and will again in the future, perhaps several times in both past and future.

The signs and wonders performed by the false prophet will convince the world that the Kingdom of God has come and that antichrist is the real Jesus Christ. That is what makes this time so dangerous. He will appear to be so Christ-like that even the very people of God will be almost convinced. There will be many who are not well grounded in scripture that will actually believe this is the Christ and worship him not knowing any better.

Those who have accepted the pre-tribulation rapture theory will be particularly susceptible to worshipping this beast and false prophet. Believing that Jesus will come before the tribulation and snatch them away, they may actually believe that this is Christ. However, as we saw above, true believers in Christ will be rescued from this evil. Nominal Christians will be extremely susceptible to the charisma of the False Prophet; those who succumb will be condemned forever.

An image is a representation of some person, place, or thing. The most common image we see in our society today is the photograph. A photograph is an accurate depiction of its subject. Images can be many things. Sculpture, statues, portraits, drawings, the relief on coins or other objects such as a cameo, etc. An image can also be in the mind of an artist, inventor, actor, architect, a daydreamer, or something imagined in the mind, etc.

Humans are made in the image of God and after His likeness (Gen 1:27). God commands us not to “make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:” (Exo 20:4). We are to be conformed to the image Christ (Rom 8:29; Col 3:10)

In our passage we see a beast that comes out of the sea. That beast is a combination of Daniel’s first three beasts that represent Babylon, Persia, and Greece (Dan 7:3,4,5,6). We also see a beast out of the earth, and it is a man identified in succeeding chapters as the False Prophet (Rev 19:20). The first beast in our passage is an empire in the likeness of Daniel’s three empires and with man who is its leader, which is the Antichrist. When writing about the Antichrist and the False Prophet, John simply calls both of them, along with their political kingdom and religious system, beasts.

Accordingly, when John writes about the image of the beast, he is referring to both the Empire and the Antichrist. In other words, like the Roman Emperors the image is representative of both the Empire and its leader at the same time. The image is not described by John other than to say it speaks and is man-made; probably because John’s contemporaries were very familiar with the worship of images.

The Revelation was written during the reign of Domitian, who had statues made of his likeness and placed them throughout the empire. He had temples built where his statues were worshipped. Worship of the Emperor was enforced upon penalty of torture and death. If was enforced outside of Rome by the Emperor’s governing officials.

All Romans were to worship those statues; no one was exempt. Christians were placed in a dilemma. They would either bow down to his statues or they would face execution and possible torture. In this passage we see a replica of that same dilemma.

We know that the image is built by men, them that dwell on the earth, but we are not told the exact makeup of the image. It is simply described as an image of the beast and that it was made by humans. Again, the beast is both the Antichrist and his kingdom. In history we have seen dictators make images of themselves and post then all over their territory.

We saw this with communist dictators Vladimir Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Un, etc. These images represented both the leaders and their regimes. They were placed strategically all over the land to make sure their populations knew who was in charge and to have them understand their loyalty was to their leaders only. Worship of the state and the leaders was the forced religion of the people.

The image of the beast could be a statue, a portrait, print, photograph, hologram, video, a coin, or something entirely out of the ordinary. We are only told of an image. The scriptures discuss several types of images.

In Genesis we see that when Adam and Eve produced a son, he was in Adam’s own likeness, and after his image (Gen 5:3). In the Ten Commandments, Exo 20:4 speaks of a graven image. That means an image that is carved, molded, painted, molten, sculped, manufactured, or engineered, or simply made by hand.

The children of Israel made a molten image in the likeness of a golden calf, like Apis, the bull god of Egypt, (Exo 32:4). In several places in the Scriptures we have read about teraphim, which are carved, sculpted, molded, etc. images of people, animals, things or images of pagan gods that are small enough the be carried and were typically used for household gods. Rachel stole her father’s teraphims and hid them in her camel’s saddlebag and sat on them so her father, Laban would not find them (Gen 31:34). Teraphim are found in several places in the Scriptures.

And there was the huge statue Nebuchadnezzar made of himself and caused all his subjects to fall down and worship when certain kinds of music were played. This is the Old Testament account of worshipping an image that is closest to our scripture. The similarities between the image made at the bidding of the False Prophet and Nebuchadnezzar’ statue are remarkable. Thus, this is the most likely scenario that will be seen in the image of the beast.

Again, The Dragon, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet form a diabolical parody of the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Dragon mimics the Father, the Antichrist mimics the Son, and the False Prophet mimics the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads people to faith in Christ as the False Prophet leads people to beleive in the Antichrist.

Revelation 13:15 “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”

The False Prophet will begin a religious system with the image of the beast—that beast which is the final kingdom of the world before the return of Christ and its leader the Antichrist (Dan 2:44). He has the authority to exercise the power of the Antichrist (Rev 13:12), which in turn, gets his power directly from the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan.

With that power he is able to cause the image to speak. There are different translations of the method used to give life to the image. In some translations, the False Prophet gives the image a spirit. Some examples are the HCSB, YLT, Wycliffe, Geneva, and today’s Modern Greek Bible.

Other translations say that the False Prophet gives breath to the image. Some examples are the NKJV, NRSV, NASB, and the ESV are a few.

Still others, like the KJV say that the False Prophet gives life to the image. Some examples are the DRB, NJB, and the GNB.

Out of 27 translations of this verse consulted, 17 say the False Prophet gives the image a spirit, and 10 say that he gives life or breath to the image. In all of those cases, the underlying word in the Greek texts is πνευμα, pneuma, which can mean the spirit, a spirit, the Holy Spirit, the wind, a breeze, breath, the breath of life, the soul, etc. depending on the context. Here the context is to breathe life into the image. That means all the examples above are acceptable translations, for they all indicate that the image of the beast is given life.

If the view is that the prophet gives the image a spirit, that is likely an evil spirit or a demonic one. A demon could give life to the mage and make it speak. If it is life or breath, then the power of Satan could make it speak. Illusion like modern magicians use in their performances could also be used to make it speak.

A small possibility is some sort of electronic device or humanoid technology like that currently being developed by several AI technology companies. These are devices that look like adult human beings. They can speak and make conversation with real humans while imitating human facial expressions and body movements. These devices are still a bit shaky, but their performance steadily improving.

However, with the supernatural power of Satan in action, an electronic humanoid would not be needed. Because the Scriptures allude so much to Satan’s power, the most likely scenario is the power of the dragon, and/or demonic influence will cause the image to speak. In any case, the image will be so realistic that many will be deceived.

Currently the world is looking for someone to worship. They have mostly rejected Christ because believing that He is the only way to salvation is unacceptable, because it leaves out the non-Christian. This is considered to be intolerant and unacceptable. Tolerance is becoming the new religion of the elites in the world. Those elites wish to convert the entire world to their views. The Antichrist and his false prophet will preach tolerance for all.

Those deemed to be intolerant will be the outcasts of society. Guess who these intolerant misfits are. Christians. According to Berit Kjos, author of Conforming the Church to the New Millennium3, “Few things offend the liberal church establishment more than an uncompromising faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to God.” The peoples of the world will be looking for something they can worship in perfect harmony with all religions and sects and they will find the dragon, and fall for him and his end time ecumenical church.

Revelation 13:16 “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:”

The Caesars told Christians to reject Christ and worship Caesar and they would be set free. The true Christians refused, sealing their fate. Many were killed and eaten by lions, some were drawn and quartered in stadiums, some killed by gladiators, some burned to death, some crucified and some subjected to even more horrible deaths that these. They readily accepted this fate rather that reject Christ.

With this mark Satan is saying “if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Mat 4:9), I will give you this mark. If not, you will not receive it. Only those who worship the beast will get this mark. It is not the mark that condemns them, but their belief. If they believe in Satan and the beast and worship its image, they are condemned. But if they worship God, then no mark is going to change that. So don’t worry about forcibly receiving this mark. Satan wants your worship. Unless you worship him, he will not give you his mark.

Without this mark, no one will be able to participate in normal commerce to buy or sell. You will be an outcast. The mark will be placed on the right hand or on the forehead. There is much speculation about what this mark is.

Some say it is a UPC code tattooed into the skin. Others say it is a tiny electronic device injected under the skin. Some say it is some sort of brand. However, speculation is useless. Whatever it is, the mark itself cannot condemn anyone. It is just a mark. It is the person’s belief in the one giving the mark that is the problem. So, in order to receive this mark, a person will first have to state his loyalty to, bow down, and worship the beast. Let us see what the Bible says about marks.

The Greek word is charagma, which means an etching (tattoo) or a stamp. The word can also mean a graven image like an idol or statue (Act 17:29). So this mark can be etched into the skin or stamped upon it. Cain had a mark. Let us take a look at it. Genesis 4:15: “And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” This mark was a signal. When anyone saw Cain, they would immediately know that he was Cain and should not be touched. How? Well it must have been some identifying mark such as hair color, skin color, skin texture, tatoo, or blemish upon the skin. Whatever it was it was readily identifiable.

Seals. Revelation 7:4 “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” These were sealed. This Greek word means a secret or private mark. This mark is not readily identifiable because it is hidden. This sealing takes place spiritually. Only God and the people know they are sealed. Christians are sealed by their faith. Only God and the faithful person know if he has been sealed. “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; {22} Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

It is because of what is in one’s heart that he worships God or Satan. If he worships God, then no external mark will be given to him. If he worships Satan the mark will be given to him. The mark may be a physical tattoo or stamp, or it might be just what is one’s heart. But since this mark allows one to buy or sell, it seems as though it must be a visible mark.

Revelation 13:17 “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

This is the same verse from the English Standard Version: Rev 13:17 “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.” (Emphasis added).

Here is how we should read this verse: “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, that is, the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

The second clause, “save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast,” does not mean that a person may have either the mark or the name of the beast. It means that both the mark and the name are the same—the mark will also be the name of the beast.

The Greek phrase from the Greek New Testament (NA26) is:

If we were expressing this in English something like this: “if not having the mark, that is, the name of the beast,” or this: “if not having the mark—the name of the beast” or this, “if not having the mark, which is the name of the beast.”

The Textus Receptus does have “or” (η) between ‘mark’ and ‘the’: χαραγμα η το, “mark or the.” However the intention is the same: “that is, the mark of the beast.”

Therefore, the verse goes further than just the mark. There are conditions one must meet to buy or sell: he must have the mark, he must have the name of the beast, which is its mark, or the number of his name. All three indicate worship of the beast.

Remember this mark is of the first beast who is the Antichrist. To have his mark, one must worship him. To know his true name one must worship him. To have the number of his name (and its meaning) one must worship him. Those with the mark will be citizens of the end time kingdom of the Antichrist and will be members of the end-time ecumenical and apostate church.

Revelation 13:18 “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

What does this 666 really mean? There have been many attempts to determine who the number refers to, but no agreement. There are enough answers to that question to fill an entire volume.

In ancient Greek, Hebrew, and other ancient languages, the numbers were the letters of the alphabet. For example, in Hebrew, Aleph = 1, Beit = 2, etc. If a person’s name in Hebrew is אנ, ab (Father) his number would be 3: Aleph, 1 + Beit, 2 = 3.

There are many possible words in both ancient Greek and Hebrew whose number for letter equivalents add up to 666 and speculation is not what we should do when exegeting Scripture. We must use Scripture to interpret Scripture. There are no specific Scriptures alluding to what John meant when he wrote Revelation, however there are some scriptures containing those numbers. We may find some help when we review those scriptures.

Goliath, Nebuchadnezzar, and Solomon all have three sixes associated with them.

In 1 Sam 17:4-7 we read about Goliath, the giant Philistine warrior that David, the young future king of Israel slew. Goliath was six cubits and a span tall. He was taller that all of the Israelites in King Saul’s army. He was a big man. He had six pieces of armor, a brass helmet, a coat of scale mail, brass leggings, a bronze javelin, a spear with a spearhead that weighed six hundred shekels, and a shield carried by his shield bearer. That is three sixes. Goliath blasphemed the name of God (1 Sam 17:36) and was an evil man.

In Daniel 3:1-5, king Nebuchadnezzar built a statue of gold as an image to himself. It was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. He then had all the people, rich, poor, mighty, and weak, in his kingdom bow down to the statute when six instruments were played. We have three repetitions of the number 6. This was an evil plot by Nebuchadnezzar to usurp the worship One True God, Yahweh, for himself. This was evil.

King Solomon, when he was young, began his reign as a God-fearing and worshipping man. God gave him much wisdom. However, Solomon married many wives from the neighboring nations to form alliances with them. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kin 11:3)

In 1Ki 11:2, we read, “Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.” Solomon rejected God’s command, married foreign women and worshipped their gods. He was apostate. Going “in to them” or them coming “in unto you” means having sexual relations with them, thus consummating the marriages. They did indeed turn his heart to other gods.

We find in 1 Ki 10:14, that Solomon’s income for one year was 666 talents of gold, which equals 53,531 troy pounds4 of gold. He used that gold to build himself a magnificent throne to sit on and to make hundreds of weapons of war. This was against God’s will and it was evil.

In Ezekiel 9:4, the prophet was in the spirit when, in a vision, he observed this scene: God sent a scribe, dressed in linen and with his writing kit, to seal all of those people loyal to Yahweh with a mark. The mark was placed on the heads of all the faithful people. He then sent six executioners out to kill all those who did not have His mark on their foreheads. They were to spare none except those with the mark. Satan, mimicking the things of God, also has a mark he will put on his followers’ foreheads or right hands. It is the mark of the beast, 666.

Some teach that threefold repetitions in Scripture are idiomatic expressions of the superlative degree. Others disagree, contending that threefold repetitions like “holy, holy, holy” are simply chants. However, if we understand what a superlative is, then the threefold repetitions “holy, holy, holy” when uttered by Seraphim around the Throne of Almighty God, most definitely indicate the superlative. Almighty God, Yahweh is the Highest of the high, the Mightiest of the mighty, the Strongest of the strong, the King of kings and Lord of lords, etc., all of which are superlatives.

According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, a superlative indicates “the Highest in degree; most eminent; surpassing all other; as a man of superlative wisdom or prudence, of superlative worth; a woman of superlative beauty, supreme; as the superlative glory of the divine character.”

In grammar, the superlative degree of an adjective is formed by the termination ‘est’ as meanest, highest, bravest; or by the use of most, as most high, most brave; or by least, as least amiable.

We find threefold repetitions in Scripture in Isa 6:3; Jer 7:4; Eze 21:14; Rev 4:8. Each of these represent the highest degree, which is the superlative degree. Some examples of threefold numbers would be 333, the number of the triune God, who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, the Most High God (El Elyon). In the Greek spelling for Jesus, Ιησους, or Iesous, the letter for number system yields the number 888. In Hebrew and Greek, the word Jesus means God’s salvation or savior. Jesus is the One and Only, and therefore superlative, Savior. 777 would represent complete and total perfection without the slightest imperfection. Accordingly, there is a possibility that the threefold 666 may be a superlative for the most extremely evil person ever.

In summary, many, many people have names that can add up to 666 in various ways. None of these will render satisfactory comprehension of this enigmatic number. Consequently, we must narrow our vision and try to understand this in the way John understood it and wrote it. The number 666, when calculated according to what John meant, is associated with the evil of Satan and the one world government of the beast. 666 is illustrative of evil and will be used by the evil one to move as many people as possible away from Yahweh God.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark Oaks, February 6, 2021

  1.  Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, tr. C. F. Crusè, 3d ed., in Greek Ecclesiastical Historians, 6 vols. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1842, p.110.
  2. Adam Clarke, Commentary: The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments With a Commentary and Critical Notes (6 Volume Set), Abingdon Cokesbury Press, Nashville, 1960, comments on Mat 24:16.
  4. 53531 troy pounds of gold is equal to $1,240,000,000.00 ($1.2 trillion) in U.S. dollars as of the writing of this commentary in February, 2021 A.D.
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