The Beast Out of the Sea
1Then I saw a wild beast # 13:1 The word beast (therion) is used in the Bible for an evil person or in describing the sinful nature of man. See Eccl. 3:18; Pss. 22:12–13; 73:22; 1 Cor. 15:22. Therion is found extensively in classical Greek describing wicked or pathetic people. Plato (Phaedrus, 204b) applies it to people: “A flatterer is a horrid creature [therion] who does great harm.” See also Aristophanes, Clouds, 184. John was not just giving us a code word for the Emperor Nero, he was pointing us to the sin of man that turned Nebuchadnezzar into a beast (Dan. 4) and to the riotous human “beasts” who came against Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19; 1 Cor. 15:32). rising from the sea with ten horns and seven heads. On its horns were ten royal crowns, and on its heads were blasphemous names. 2It was like a leopard with feet like a bear’s, # 13:2 The Aramaic can be translated either a “wolf” or a “bear.” and its mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon shared his power, throne, and great authority with the wild beast.
3One of the heads of the wild beast seemed to have received a deathly wound, but the wound had been healed. After this, the whole world was filled with fascination and followed the wild beast. 4They worshiped the dragon because he had given the beast its ruling authority. They also worshiped the wild beast, saying, “Who is like the wild beast? And who is able to make war against him?”
5The wild beast was given a mouth to speak boastful and blasphemous words, and he was permitted to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6So the wild beast began to blaspheme against God, blaspheming his holy name and his dwelling place; # 13:6 Or “tabernacle.” that is, those who dwell in heaven. # 13:6 Or “those continually tabernacle in heaven.” 7The beast was given the authority to wage war against the holy believers. # 13:7 Some manuscripts add “and conquered them.” And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. 8Everyone on earth will worship the wild beast—those whose names have not been written from the foundation # 13:8 The Greek word for “foundation,” katabole, can also mean “overthrow” or “cast down,” which would be a reference to the “fall” of man. of the world in the Book of the Life of the Lamb who was slain. # 13:8 Or “those whose names were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, who was slain from the foundation of the world.”
9If anyone has been given ears to hear, he’d better listen! 10For the one who leads others into captivity, into captivity he goes. The one who kills others by the sword, by the sword he will be put to death. # 13:10 This is one of the more difficult verses in Revelation to translate and interpret, with many variations found in differing manuscripts. It could also be translated “If anyone is destined for captivity, into captivity he goes. If anyone is destined to be killed by the sword, by the sword he will be killed.” See also Jer. 15:2. This is a call for the endurance and faithfulness of the holy believers.
The Beast from the Earth
11Then I saw another wild beast coming up from the ground. It had two horns like a ram, # 13:11 Or “lamb.” but it spoke like the dragon. 12It operated in all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, causing the earth and its inhabitants to worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. 13It performed great miracle-signs, even publicly causing fire to fall out of heaven to the earth. 14And through these startling miracles that he performed on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the world, telling the people to erect a statue in the image of the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15The beast from the earth was empowered to breathe life # 13:15 Or “spirit.” into the image of the first beast so that it could speak and kill those who refused to worship its image. 16It also caused everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and bound, to be marked # 13:16 The Greek word used here for “marked” (or “engraved”) is same root word from which we get the word character. The character of the beast is now upon the people. on the right hand or on the forehead. 17This meant no one could buy or sell unless they had the mark; that is, the name of the beast or its number.
18This will require wisdom to understand: Let the one with insight interpret the number of the wild beast, for it is humanity’s number # 13:18 Or “man’s number.” The Aramaic can be translated “the son of Adam’s number.” There is no reference to the Antichrist in the book of Revelation. The beast is equated to the nature of humanity. The number 666 is the number of man; not an incarnation of the devil, but human nature. The number six is always equated with man, for man was created on the sixth day. The wild beast rising out of the ground (which man was made from) is the sin of man that wars against our souls and prevents the image of Christ from emerging in fullness within believers. The number 666 cannot be literal, for a literal number would need no wisdom to interpret. Both the mark of the beast and the mark on the foreheads of God’s faithful followers is a metaphor of the character of the beast revealed by thoughts (foreheads) and by actions (the hands). By associating “the wild beast” with 666, John is pointing us to the dimensions of Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (Dan. 3:1) and to Solomon’s fall into sin (1 Kings 10:14). —666.