666: The Mark of the Beast in Revelation 13

by Hal Harless



I. Observations on Revelation 13

A. Setting and structure of the book of the Revelation

1. Setting

a. Author

     According to the book of Revelation, its author is named John.1 Ryrie notes that, "Traditionally this John has been identified as John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee. . . ."2 Irenaeus, a disciple of the martyr Polycarp who was a contemporary and disciple of John the apostle, in the second century mentions John as the author.3 Hippolytus, an elder of the Church of Rome in the third century exclaimed:

For he sees, when in the isle Patmos, a revelation of awful mysteries, which he recounts freely, and makes known to others. Tell me, blessed John, apostle and disciple of the Lord, what didst thou see and hear concerning Babylon?4

Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea in the fourth century, calls the author of the Revelation, "the apostle and evangelist John."5 The unbroken chain of early church witnesses should remove all doubt as to the Apostle John's authorship of Revelation.

     Johanine authorship has also been disputed on the basis of the stylistic differences between the Revelation and the Gospel and letters of John. Ryrie admits the differences but contends that they are not conclusive:

That the style of the Revelation is different from that of the Gospel and the three epistles of John does not prove that the Revelation was written by a different John. The nature of apocalyptic literature, the fact that this revelation was given in a vision, and the circumstances of John's being a prisoner could easily account for the differences in style.6

Robertson notes regarding stylistic differences:

. . . that in Acts 4:13 Peter and John are both termed by the Sanhedrin agrammatoi kai idiôtai (unlettered and unofficial men). We have seen the possibility that II Peter represents Peter's real style or at least that of a different amanuensis from Silvanus in I Pet. 5:12. It seems clear that the Fourth Gospel underwent careful scrutiny and possibly by the elders in Ephesus (John 21:24). If John wrote the Apocalypse while in Patmos, and so away from Ephesus, it seems quite possible that here we have John's own uncorrected style more than in the Gospel and Epistles. There is also the added consideration that the excitement of the visions played a part along with a certain element of intentional variations from normal grammatical sequence. An old man's excitement would bring back his early style. There are numerous coincidences in vocabulary and style between the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse.7

It is interesting to note that, of the twenty-five verbatim occurrences of meta tauta in the Greek New Testament, seven occur in John's Gospel (Jn. 3.22; 5.1, 14; 6.1; 7.1; 13.7; 21.1) and nine in Revelation (Rev. 1.19; 4.1, 7.9; 9.12; 15.5; 18.1; 19:1; 20:3). This is one of many stylistic details linking the author of John's Gospel with the Revelation. The solid testimony of Church history, stylistic similarities, and ready explanations for any stylistic differences present us with a clear picture of Johanine authorship.

b. Date

     The testimony of Irenaeus unequivocally places, "the apocalyptic vision. . . . that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign."8 Robertson comments:

Irenaeus is quoted by Eusebius as saying expressly that the Apocalypse of John was written at the close of the of the reign of Domitian. This testimony is concurred in by Clement of Alexandria, by Origen, by Eusebius, by Jerome. . . . Peake is willing to admit allusions to the Neronic period as Swete is also, but both consider the Domitianic date the best supported. Moffatt considers any earlier date than Domitian "almost impossible."9

Thus early Church history unequivocally points to the end of Domitian's reign (A.D. 81 - 96) as the date of the Revelation.

c. Place

     The book of Revelation asserts that John wrote it while, "on the island called Patmos,. . ."10 As we have seen above, the united testimony of Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Eusebius, and others is that John the apostle wrote Revelation while in exile on Patmos. Any skepticism as to this fact is baseless.

d. Textual Issues

     The only textual issue that we are concerned with is the correct reading of Revelation 13.18, kai ho arithmos autou exakosioi exekonta ex "and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." This is the reading of Sinaiticus (Aleph), Alexandrinus (A), Chester Beatty papyrus (p47), many Italic manuscripts (itc,dem,div,gig,haf), the Vulgate (vg), and most other manuscripts including the Syrian (syrph,h) and Coptic (copsa,bo). The Italic manuscript itar has tesserakonta, "forty" instead of exekonta, "sixty." This is probably due to a scribal error confusing Revelation 14.1 with 13.18. This reading doesn't appear until the ninth century. Of more concern is the deka, "ten" of Ephraemi Rescriptus (C, fifth century) and the Italic manuscript Harleianus Londiniensis (itz, eight century). Irenaeus was aware of this textual variant but roundly condemned it:

     Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it]; while reason also leads us to conclude that the number of the name of the beast, [if reckoned] according to the Greek mode of calculation by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six hundred and sixty and six; that is, the number of tens shall be equal to that of the hundreds, and the number of hundreds equal to that of the units (for that number which [expresses] the digit six being adhered to throughout, indicates the recapitulations of that apostasy, taken in its full extent, which occurred at the beginning, during the intermediate periods, and which shall take place at the end), - I do not know how it is that some have erred following the ordinary mode of speech, and have vitiated the middle number in the name, deducting the amount of fifty from it, so that instead of six decads they will have it that there is but one. [I am inclined to think that this occurred through the fault of the copyists, as is wont to happen, since numbers also are expressed by letters; so that the Greek letter which expresses the number sixty was easily expanded into the letter Iota of the Greeks.]
     Others then received this reading without examination; some in their simplicity, and upon their own responsibility, making use of this number expressing one decad; while some, in their inexperience, have ventured to seek out a name which should contain the erroneous and spurious number. Now, as regards those who have done this in simplicity, and without evil intent, we are at liberty to assume that pardon will be granted them by God. But as for those who, for the sake of vainglory, lay it down for certain that names containing the spurious number are to be accepted, and affirm that this name, hit upon by themselves, is that of him who is to come; such persons shall not come forth without loss, because they have led into error both themselves and those who confided in them. Now, in the first place, it is loss to wander from the truth, and to imagine that as being the case which is not; then again, as there shall be no light punishment [inflicted] upon him who either adds or subtracts anything from the Scripture, under that such a person must necessarily fall. Moreover, another danger, by no means trifling, shall overtake those who falsely presume that they know the name of Antichrist. For if these men assume one [number], when this [Antichrist] shall come having another, they will be easily led away by him, as supposing him not to be the expected one, who must be guarded against.11

This strong testimony from Irenaeus and the late nature of the variant reading lend confidence that 666, not 646 or 616, is the correct reading.

2. Genre

     The title of the book of Revelation directs our attention to its literary genre. Revelation refers to itself as Apokalupsis Iesou Christou, "a revelation of Jesus Christ." Hindson explains that:

     The Greek term apocalypsis means to "uncover," "disclose," or "reveal -- hence a "revelation." The verb form apocalupto is formed from kalupto (to cover up) and apo (from). In secular Greek it means to disclose things previously hidden. . . .
. . . . As the title of the book of Revelation, apocalupsis refers to the unveiling or revealing of the future. Its use in Revelation 1:1 with the genitive of means that Jesus Christ could be either objective, with Christ as the object, or subjective, referring to Jesus Christ as the one who originates the revelation. . . .12

Hindson identifies several characteristics of the apocalyptic genre:

     Scholars have attempted to isolate certain characteristics of apocalyptic literature: determinism, pessimism, imminent expectation of the end; visions of worldwide catastrophe; extensive symbolism; and messianism. While these are certainly characteristic of Daniel and Revelation, they are by no means limited to those books.13

While agreeing on the use of symbolic language, Varner sees not merely catastrophe but rather divine judgment:

     Apocalypse, from the Greek apokalupsis, is literally an "unveiling." As a literary term, it describes a genre that flourished in intertestamental Jewish writings from the third century B.C. through the first century A.D. The main characteristics of apocalyptic literature mark most of these writings. A disclosure of heavenly secrets is made to a biblical character through an angelic mediator by means of highly symbolic language. These visions usually describe a direct divine intervention in wicked human affairs whereby sinners are judged and the righteous are rewarded.14

He judges Revelation to be a prime example of the genre:

     The New Testament book of the Revelation was the first work to utilize the term "apocalypse" to describe itself. The book also exhibits nearly all of the principal characteristics of the genre. The first two verses identify the book as a revelation given by God through an otherworldly mediator to a human seer disclosing future events. The heavenly journey of John in chapter 4 as well as the visions throughout the book are also features of earlier apocalyptic writing.15

Ryrie points out that the Revelation is meant to be and indeed can be understood if attention is paid to grammar:

     The book is a revelation, or apocalypse (1:1), and as such is expected to be understood. Much of it is frighteningly clear. Some symbols are explained (1:20; 17:1, 15), others are not. It is always important to notice carefully the words "like," "as," and "as it were" (6:1; 9:7), for these words indicate a comparison, not an identification.16

From the genre we learn that we must be alert to the possibility of symbol, simile, and metaphor in the book of Revelation. However, symbols are intended to be understood and we should expect them to be explained either in the immediate context or the broader context of the rest of Scripture. To assert otherwise would be to make the claim that Revelation is unrevealing.

3. Structure

a. Revelation as a whole

     The Revelation gives us the clue to its own structure in 1.19 where the Lord Jesus commands John to, "Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things."17 The "things which you have seen" (ha eides) refer clearly to the vision which John had just had of Jesus in 1.8-20. The "things which are" (ha eisin) refer to the seven churches of Revelation 2-3, which were all a present reality in John's day. The next grouping on the outline is the events that will take place "after these things" (meta tauta). This section begins with Revelation 4.1 for the following reasons: (1) Revelation 4.1 begins with, "After these things I looked" (Meta tauta eidon) which is the same Greek construction used in 1.19. (2) The voice which called to John in 4.1 said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things" (meta tauta). (3) With 4.1 John's point of view changes from earth to heaven and present to future things. (4) The phrase "after these things" (meta tauta) is only used once in 1.19 until 4.1, thereafter eight times.

     The third section of Revelation gives every evidence of flowing in a linear fashion to its conclusion. The use of "after these things" (meta tauta) ties the subsections together chronologically, i.e. the events of 7.9 ff. must come "after these things" (meta tauta) that are in 4.1 - 7.8, etc. This argues against a cyclical or recapitulative view of Revelation's structure. An additional evidence of linear structure is the overlapping of the judgments. The seven seal judgments of 6.1 - 8.6 lead straight to the seven trumpets (8.7- 11.19) in that the seventh seal's judgment is to unleash the trumpets (8.1 - 6). In a similar way, the bowl judgments (15.1 - 16.21) follow the trumpets.18 McLean derives four principles that define the structure of Revelation:

     There are four major principles that define the structure of Revelation and show that its structure is both chronological and sequential. The Apocalypse unfolds according to a prophetic timetable as well as a literary sequence of events that reveals more precise definition and detail about the closing events of a period that is called the "Great Tribulation." . . .
     The first principle is the recognition of the epistolary nature of the book. . . .
     The second principle is stated in Revelation 1:19: "Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things that shall take place after these things. . . ."
     The third principle concerns the sequential nature of the three septet judgments (seals, trumpets, bowls) of Revelation. The structure of the Apocalypse is determined, in part, by one's understanding of whether the three septet judgments are sequential or simultaneous. The sequential view understands the seals, trumpets, and bowls as successive judgments that proceed out of each other. The simultaneous view sees a recapitulation of the septets in which the judgments are parallel to each other. Each recapitulation reviews previous events and adds further details.
     This article argues for the successive view of the septet judgments, that is, the trumpets sequentially follow the seals, and the bowls sequentially follow the trumpets. . . .
     The fourth principle for understanding the structure of Revelation is the correlation of the Seventieth Week of Daniel 9:27 with the synoptic eschatological discourses of Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and Revelation 4-19.19

Although I do disagree with McLeans' identification of Revelation 6.12-17 with the middle of the Tribulation, in general these principles match my observations.

b. The structure of Revelation 13

     Revelation chapter 13 is a clear example of a polysyndeton (a number of statements linked together by "and"). There are also clear parallels between the career of the first beast in Revelation 13.1-10 and the second beast in Revelation 13.11-18. Bullinger diagrams the structure in this manner:

     This chapter contains two visions relating to two Beasts: the first, the Antichrist; the second, the "False Prophet." The first is the false Christ, and the second is the false -- and satanic counterfeit of the Holy Ghost. The second is marked, like the first, by the figure of Polysyndeton.
     The structure of this chapter is very remarkable. In the Greek the first sentence forms the end of chap. xii. So we commence with the second "And I saw":--
     The Vision of the Two Beasts (Rev. xiii.).
     Here A to F and A to F relate to the Beasts, while G and G relate to the saints. The order of the two members of G and G is an introversion, to make them off from the rest.20

This structure leads us to see a comparison of the two beasts and the response the saints should have to them.

B. The context of Revelation 13

1. Revelation 13 in the context of the rest of Revelation

     Revelation chapter 13 falls in the future part of Revelation "after these things" and under the heading of the seventh trumpet. We have seen, following the sixth trumpet, the life, death, and resurrection of the two witnesses (Rev. 11.1-14.). Revelation11.3 gives the time that the witnesses have to minister as 1,260 days. Given a prophetic lunar year of 360 days, this is 3.5 years. Revelation 11.2 indicates that the length of the time of Gentile desecration of the temple will be 42 months. Again this is 3.5 years. This correlates well with Daniel's Seventieth Week or the Great Tribulation (Dan. 9.27).

     Therefore, the chronology appears to be: 1) The witnesses minister for 3.5 years to the middle of the Tribulation (Rev. 11.3-6), 2) they are martyred and put on display in Jerusalem for three and a half days (Rev. 11.7-11), 3) they are then resurrected and translated into heaven (Rev. 11.12-13), 4) a persecution of Israel and believers takes place for 3.5 years (Rev. 11.2; 15-13.18), 5) the Messiah prepares to return (Rev. 14.1-20), 6) the bowl judgments are released (Rev. 15.1-16.21), 7) Rome falls (Rev. 17.1-18.24), 8) Messiah returns to establish His Kingdom (Rev. 19.1-21) defeating His enemies at the battle of Armageddon, 9) the Kingdom will last for 1,000 years (Rev. 20.1-15) followed by a rebellion and the final judgment, and 10) eternity in a new heavens and earth (Rev. 21.1-22.5).

2. The context before the passage

     Immediately before our passage we are introduced to the figure of the Dragon in Revelation 12.3. This symbol is explained in Revelation 12.9 as, "the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, . . . ."21 The Dragon or Satan launches a flood of persecution (Rev. 12.15) on a woman who bears a male child, "who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne."22 By the description of the male child and the obvious reference to Psalms 2, a messianic psalm, the identity of the male child is plainly Jesus, the Messiah. The woman would have to represent the nation of Israel that gave birth to the Messiah. It cannot be the Church because the Church does not give birth to Jesus. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was likely no longer alive and no one person would fit the persecution descriptions in this passage. The flood is "like a river."23 This is a simile for an overwhelming persecution. In both Revelation 12.6, and 12.14 the time of the woman's or Israel's protection from the Dragon or Satan is given as 3.5 years, i.e., the second half of the Great Tribulation. The Dragon is seen in our passage as the motivating figure for the two beasts in chapter 13.

3. The context after the passage

     The pace seems to pick up for the second half of the Tribulation. Chapter 14 is given to visions of the preparation for the Messiah's return. Chapters 15 and 16 cover the final bowl judgments that are unleashed by the seventh trumpet. Chapters 17 and 18 detail the fall of Rome. Chapter 19 covers the Messiah's second coming. Chapter 20 describes the Kingdom of Messiah, and chapter 21-22 the eternal state.

C. Hermeneutics and the book of Revelation

1. Preterist view

     The preterist or past view holds that the prophecies of the book of Revelation have already been fulfilled. Ice explains:

These early forms of preterism were mild and undeveloped by today's standards. They saw Revelation as "descriptive of the victory of the early church, as fulfilled in the downfall of the Jewish nation and the overthrow of pagan Rome, and in this way limited their range to the first six centuries of the Christian Era, and making Nero the Antichrist." In contrast, current forms of preterism concentrate the whole fulfillment of the book of Revelation around the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem. Thus, preterist David Chilton writes, "The book of Revelation is not about the second coming of Christ. It is about the destruction of Israel and Christ's victory over His enemies in the establishment of the New Covenant Temple."24

Clement of Alexandria appears to have held to the preterist view:

     We have still to add to our chronology the following, - I mean the days which Daniel indicates from the desolation of Jerusalem, the seven years and seven months of the reign of Vespasian. For the two years are added to the seventeen months and eighteen days of Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius; and the result is three years and six months, which is "the half of the week," as Daniel the prophet said. For he said that there were two thousand three hundred days from the time that the abomination of Nero stood in the holy city, till its destruction. For thus the declaration, which is subjoined, shows: "How long shall be the vision, the sacrifice taken away, the abomination of desolation, which is given, and the power and the holy place shall be trodden under foot? And he said to him, Till the evening and morning, two thousand three hundred days, and the holy place shall be taken away."
     These two thousand three hundred days, then, make six years four months, during the half of which Nero held sway, and it was half a week; and for a half, Vespasian with Otho, Galba, and Vitellius reigned. And on this account Daniel says, "Blessed is he that cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days." For up to these days was war, and after them it ceased. And this number is demonstrated from a subsequent chapter, which is as follows: "And from the time of the change of continuation, and of the giving of the abomination of desolation, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days."25

     However, several flaws are visible in this line of reasoning: that future tenses are used extensively, that connecting phrases ("after these things") establish a sequence that is clearly in the future, the sequence of events leading to the kingdom on Earth which clearly hasn't happened yet, the fact that Jerusalem had already been destroyed by the date the Revelation was written, that Jerusalem is spoken of as intact again thus marking events as future, that the downfall of Israel is nowhere presented as a victory for the Church (This is surely an unworthy anti-Semitic idea!), and that the events of A.D. 70 do not meet the prophetic descriptions. Tan comments:

     There are interpreters who maintain that "the unparalleled tribulation spoken of in our Lord's prediction was visited upon the Jews when the Roman destruction took effect about 70 A.D." However it is debatable whether A.D. 70 in terms of suffering and judgment was more unparalleled than Hitler's Second World War. One thing is sure: according to Christ, there will be a period of tribulation on earth which will dwarf all others in the severity of its divine judgments and human suffering. This period is yet to come.26

These flaws in the preterist position demonstrate that it is beset by inconsistencies and contradictions. This view cannot survive if the text is taken literally in its normal sense.

2. Historicist view

     The historist view sees the Church Age as equivalent to the Tribulation. They would apply the prophecies of Revelation to the entire Church Age. Ice explains:

On the other hand, historicists usually view the whole of church history as fulfilling Revelation, leading up to the yet-future Second Advent. Thus, while most of Revelation has already been fulfilled, the historicist believes that a few passages and events are awaiting future fulfillment. They also believe, more than other viewpoints, that prophecy can be fulfilled in our own day since they think the church has been in the Tribulation for over fifteen hundred years.27

This view cannot be held consistently if one takes seriously the time references in the Revelation (e.g., Revelation 11.2, 3; 12.6; 13.5; and 20.4). These point to a seven year tribulation and 1,000 year kingdom. Daniel chapter 9 also clearly points to a seven year tribulation. Therefore the historicist view must also be rejected.

3. Idealist view

     The Idealist view ignores the time elements in Revelation and sees the book as a presentation of timeless conflicts. Ice defines Idealism as:

The idealist (timeless) believes that the Bible does not indicate the timing of events and that we cannot determine their timing in advance. Therefore, idealists think that prophetic passages mainly teach great ideas or truths about God to be applied regardless of timing.28

This view also fails when compared with the time references in Revelation and Daniel. Why would Daniel 9 and Revelation mention time periods of 3.5 and 7 years? Why would all of Daniel 9 be fulfilled literally except the final seventieth "week?" The inconsistency of this approach must doom this view to falsehood as would any other self-contradictory statement.

4. Futurist view

     This approach sees the book of Revelation as future history of a period called the Great Tribulation. The book of Revelation employs images similar to Daniel and refers to the same chronology. Futurism was the view of the early Church. Futurism interprets prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled in a manner consistent with the interpretation of fulfilled prophecy. Futurism employs a literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic. Futurism takes both verb tenses and time references literally. In short, Futurism is the only consistent approach to Revelation.

D. Key words in Revelation 13

1. Mark

     In the Greek "mark' is to charagma. Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich define charagma as:

a mark or stamp engraved, etched, branded, cut, imprinted. . . brands on horses,. . . brands on animals. . . . stamps on documents. . . . The impression on coins. . . in Rv of the mark of the Antichrist, which his adherents bear on hand or forehead. . . .29

Similarly, Thayer defines it as:

a stamp, an imprinted mark: of the mark stamped on the forehead or the right hand as the badge of the followers of Antichrist, Rev. xiii. 16 sq.; xiv. 9, 11; xv. 2 Rec.; xvi. 2; xix. 20; xx. 4, (puros, the mark branded upon horses, Anacr. 26 [55],2).30

Moulton and Milligan relate that charagma was used:

in the sense of the impress made by a stamp occurs seplies in Rev, ter with special reference to "the mark of the beast" (1317, 162, 1920). The exact meaning of the figure has been much discussed. Deissmann (BS, p. 240 ff.) suggests that an explanation may be found in the fact that, according to papyrus texts, it was customary to affix to bills of sale or official documents of the 1st and 2nd centuries of the Empire a seal giving the year and name of the reigning Emperor, and possibly his effigy. Thus on the back of CPR I.11 (A.D. 108), an agreement regarding a house, there can still be deciphered a red seal with the inscr. (etous) ib Autokratoros Kaisaros Neroua Traianou.31

Therefore, the primary meaning of charagma is "a stamp" or "a brand."

     Based on that primary meaning other uses had arisen. Some see the practice of emperor worship. Martin comments that:

     In Rev. 13:11-18 there is an apparent reference to the imperial priesthood under the figure of the second beast. It requires that universal recognition and homage be given to the "first beast" (the imperial line). The image of the emperor is made to speak (v. 15). The counterpart to this claim to divinity is that all trading is possible only as men have the "mark" (charagma) of the first beast on their right hand or forehead. That mark is identified with the beast's name or number (v. 18). . . . In 13:16 ff. it signifies the "protection" of Satan.
     This stigmatization was common in the ancient world. . ., denoting ownership and preservation. Repeatedly in the Apocalypse the charagma tou thêriou, mark of the beast, denotes subservience to anti-Christian powers (14:9; 20:4; cf. 13:17; 14:11; 16:2; 19:20).32

Wilckens explains:

That the religious totalitarianism of emperor worship is indicated here is evident. Probably the choice of the word charagma points to this if the reference is to the imperial stamp --> line 11 f. Materially, however, the required acceptance of the charagma means religious signing with the mark of the beast, which is branded on the right hand or the forehead --> IV, 635, 19 ff. This marking as stigmatisation was common in antiquity --> VII, 659, 25 ff. As slaves were shown to be their master's property by stigmata, so many people had the marks of deities branded on them in temples. . . .33

The Talmud knew of a custom of branding slaves:

Rab Judah laid down the following formula for the deed of sale of a slave: 'This slave is legally adjudicated to bondage, and is absolved and dissociated from all freedom and claims and demands of the King and the Queen,2 and there is no mark of any [other] man upon him,. . .34

Keener sees the mark as indicative of the Empire to which one belongs:

     A Greco-Egyptian king had similarly required Jews to be branded with the ivy leaf, the emblem of Dionysus (3 Maccabees 2:28-29); this is likewise a mark of ownership, a brand or tattoo indicating to which god or empire one belongs. The term for "mark" is, among other things, the regular term for the imperial stamp on documents and of the image of his head on coins.35

Moffat sees the customs of slave marking, loyalty marks for soldiers or as an act of religious worship:

This highly figurative allusion is to the habit of marking soldiers and slaves with a conspicuous tattoo or brand. . . or, better still, to the religious custom of wearing a god's name as a talisman (cf. Deissmann, 349 f.).36

Barclay summarizes the customs that use charagma:

     The word for the mark of the beast is charagma, and it comes from more than one ancient custom.
     (i) Sometimes domestic slaves were branded with the mark of their owner. But usually they were branded only if they had run away or had been guilty of some grave misdemeanor. Such a mark was called a stigma; we still use the word in English. If the mark is connected with this, it means that those who worshipped the beast are his property.
     (ii) Sometimes soldiers branded themselves with the name of their general, if they were very devoted to him. This, to some extent, corresponds to the modern custom of tattooing upon one's person the name of someone specially dear. If the mark is connected with this, it means that those who worship the beast are his devoted followers.
     (iii) On every contract of buying or selling there was a charagma, a seal, and on the seal the name of the emperor and the date. If the mark is connected with this, it means that those who worship the beast accept his authority.
     (iv) All coinage had the head and inscription of the emperor stamped upon it, to show that it was his property. If the mark is connected with this, it again means that those to bear it are the property of the beast.
     (v) When a man had burned his pinch of incense to Caesar, he was given a certificate to say that he had done so. The mark of the beast may be the certificate of worship, which a Christian could obtain only at the cost of denying his faith.37

In summary, the mark of the beast would signify to the reader of the time that the recipient: worshipped the beast as divine, acknowledged the beast's authority, is devoted to the beast, and considers himself to be the beast's property or slave to command.

2. Beast

     The Greek word used for "beast" in both Revelation 13.1 and 13.11 is therion. Thayer notes that therion is:

dimin. of ther; hence a little beast, little animal. . . Rev. vi. 8; in Rev. xi. 7 and chh. xiii-xx., under the fig. of a 'beast' is depicted Antichrist, both his person and his kingdom and power,. . . metaph. a brutal bestial man, savage, ferocious. . . apparently never with allusion to the stupidity of beasts. . . .38

Thus "beast" is used to symbolize the ferocity of the Antichrist. However, it does in no way diminish our view of his intelligence.

3. Number of a man

     The mark of the beast is said to be the number of a man:

Hode he sofia estin ho echon noun psephisato ton arithmon tou theriou arithmos gar anthropou estin kai ho arithmos autou exakosioi exekonta ex.
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.39

In Greek and Hebrew, before the use of Arabic numerals, letters were used for numbers. One can still find this usage today in some editions of the Hebrew Bible. Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich state that this and the instances of arithmos anthropou in Revelation:

refer to numerology, which was quite familiar to the people of ancient times; acc. to it, since each Greek letter has a numerical value, a name could be replaced by a number representing the total of the numerical values of the letters making up the name. . . .40

Kauder remarks concerning the number:

We must interpret the number of the beast (v. 18) in terms of contemporary history with the help of the numerical symbolism then prevalent (--> Number). It cannot be decided with certainty today to whom the number 666, or possibly 616, refers.41

This usage is clearly intended because the one with wisdom can "calculate", psephizo, "count (up), calculate, reckon (lit. 'w. pebbles')" the number.42

     The Jewish Rabbis developed a process called Gematria which in its basic form involved adding the numerical values of the letters in a word or verse. Several examples of Gematria are available in the Talmud and Midrashim. From the Midrashim:

Three hundred and eighteen (Gen. XIV, 14) alludes to Eliezer.3 Because ('ekeb) that Abraham hearked to My voice, and kept my charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws (ib. XXVI, 5). Abraham learned to know Him at the age of three.4 The numerical value of hassatan (Satan) is three hundred and sixty-four,5 corresponding to the number of days in the year during which he has the power of slandering Israel, the Day of Atonement being excepted.
________
(3) Abraham's servant. This is deduced by Gematria: 'ly'zr == 1 + 30 + 10 + 70 + 7 + 200 = 318.
(4) As inferred by deducting the numerical value of 'qb [172] from the age at which Abraham died [175].
(5) hshtn = 5 + 300 + 9 + 50 == 36443

and from the Talmud,

Whence is this rule derived? - R. Mattena said: The text reads He shall be [yihyeh] holy, and the numerical value of the word yihyeh is thirty.44

and again,

The period for unspecified neziruth is thirty days. Whence do we deduce this in the other passage?? - R. Mathna said: Scripture states, He shall be [yihyeh] holy; the gematria of yihyeh being thirty.45

also,

Rami b. Abba said: In all they were two hundred and eight, as it says, And the multitude [we-rob] of his sons. But we-rob in gematria is two hundred and fourteen? - R. Nahman b. Isaac said: The word is written defectively.46

and,

     But what can the phrase, they could not read the writing, mean [on the view of R. Simeon, who asserts that this writing was not changed]? - Rab said: The passage was written in Gematria: Y-T-T. Y-T-T. 'A-D-K. P-U-G-H-M-T. How did he interpret it to them? - As M-N-A. M-N-A. T-K-L. U-F-R-S-Y-N. - 'Mene', God has numbered thy kingdom and brought it to an end. 'Tekel', thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting. 'Peres', thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.47

We see from this that not only was the practice of Gematria in use but, it was also used as a means of interpretation. However, the Bible gives no justification at all for this use. Over time the practice of Gematria grew more complicated and the interpretations more fanciful.

     There are, however, several ways of calculating Gematria in Jewish tradition. The manual for the Bible Codes software explains seven:

     Gematria is the substitution of numbers of the Hebrew alphabet, according to a set system. This method of exegesis has been used since the time of the Second Temple to derive insights into the sacred writings, to obtain interpretations of the text, or to illustrate a secular matter.
     Rule #29 in the Baraita of 32 rules in the Talmud considers Gematria as one of the methods for interpreting the Torah. There the Talmud gives the following example of interpretation using Gematria:
     And when Abram heard that his kinsman was taken captive, he armed his disciples who had been born in his house - three hundred and eighteen - and he pursued them as far as Dan, (Genesis 14:14).
     The Talmud comes to the conclusion that the 318 men referred to in Genesis 14:14, are really only one: Eliezer, Abraham's servant! (The numerical value of the word 'ly'zr is 318, ('=1 + l=30 + y=10 + '=70 + z=7 + r=200).
     Another example: Genesis 28:12 relates that in a dream Jacob saw a ladder, slm, stretching from earth to heaven. The numerical value of 130 = slm, (s=60 + l=30 + m=40) is the same numerical value of syny (s=60 + y=10 + n=50 + y=10) therefore exegetes have concluded that the Law revealed to Moses in Mount Sinai is man's means of reaching heaven [sic].
     Gematria can also be used to illustrate secular matters. For example, it is said that when wine comes in, secret goes out. Both words, yayin and sod have the same numerical value, 70, and, therefore, they cancel each other.
     Another example: the difference between, rtzvy =306 (what we wish for), and mtzvy =146, (what we have), is ksf =160, (money). . . .
     Of the twenty two letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the first ten are numbered consecutively from 1 to 10, the next eight from 20 to 90 in intervals of ten, while the last four letters equal 100, 200, 300, and 400 respectively. The final form letters - if you do not choose the Great Numbers alternative, (which counts the final form of the letters of the alphabet as a continuation of the alphabet, giving them their own value: 500=n, 600=m, 700=n, 800=f and 900=tz), - have the same values as their normal form letters, for example k and k have the same value: 20.
     This is the basic calculation from which, during the course of the centuries, many systems of Gematria have been developed, seven of which can be calculated using Bible Codes. . . .
     Numerical values for letters, words, phrases or verses can be calculated by Bible Codes, according to any of the following seven Gematria methods: . . . .
a) Ragil This method is the basis for all other methods. Each letter of the alphabet has its own numerical value. The numerical value of a word or [phrase] is the sum of the numerical value of all its letters. . . .
b) Katan All the tens and hundreds are reduced to single numbers 1 to 9. . . .
c) Klali The value of a word is the square of the sum of the Ragil values of each letter in that word. . . .
d) Millui Each letter has the numerical value of the sum of the Ragil values of all the letters that make up the names of the letter. . . . (sh=shyn=360. . .). . . .
e) Kolel This is the sum of the Ragil values of the letters in a word plus the number of letters in that word. . . .
f) HaKadmi The value of the first letter is Ragil. The accumulated value of the second letter is its Ragil value plus the Ragil value of the first letter. The accumulated value of the third letter is its Ragil value plus the accumulated value of the second letter. And so on. . . .
g) HaPerati The value of each letter is the square of its Ragil value. The value of the word is the sum of all the squares of its component letters.48

It is apparent that the Klali, Millui, Kolel, HaKadmi, and HaPerati methods are unlikely to be meant in this passage in that they would tend to produce numerical values much in excess of 666. These methods also seem to be late additions not in use during the New Testament period. Only the Ragil and Katan methods are candidates for this calculation. Katan suffers from four shortcomings: 1) It would require a fairly long name to evaluate to 666 (at least 74 letters). 2) The Talmud only uses Ragil. 3) Katan is therefore a later development and not contemporary with the Revelation. 4) Only Ragil has an analogue in Greek and Roman culture, Katan does not.

     Deissmann points out several examples of a sort of Gematria in use in the Graeco-Roman world:

In the Revelation of St. John (xiii. 18) we read :--
     "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 three score and six." (Some ancient authorities read 616 instead of 666.)
     Scientific commentators are probably by this time agreed that the name to be "counted" must be found by "gematria," i.e. we must look for a name the letters of which, taken separately in their ordinary values as numerals and added together, will make up the sum of 666 or 616. Now it has been generally assumed by exegetists hitherto that gematria was a specifically Jewish form of the numerical riddle, and therefore attempts have often been made, especially in recent times, to solve the number 666 or 616 by means of the Hebrew alphabet. As a matter of fact, however, the interchange of numbers for words and words for numbers was not unknown to the ancient Greeks, as even Greek lexicons tell us. The patristic writers, in so far as they attempt to solve the riddle with the Greek alphabet, show that such numerical puzzles were not entirely foreign to the Greek world. From Pompeii, however, we learn that they were current among the people at the very time in which the New Testament was being written. A. Sogliano has published graffiti (wall-scribblings) from Pompeii, i.e. not latter in date than 79 A.D., one example of which is as follows :--
     Amerimnos emnesthe Harmonias tes idias kurias ep' agatho hes ho arithmos mu-epsilon' [or alpha-lamda-epsilon'] tou kalou onomatos [cf. James ii. 7].
     Amerimnus thought upon his lady Harmonia for good. The number of her honourable name is 45 (or 1035).
Another example reads :--
     philo hes arithmos phi-mu-epsilon'.
     I love her whose number is 545.
     These graffiti, in date not far removed from the Revelation of St. John, certainly suggest new riddles, but they also establish, besides those already pointed out, the following facts :--
     (1) They are concerned with names of persons, which names for some reason or other are to be concealed.
     (2) The name was concealed by resolving it into a number. In all probability single letters were given their usual values as numerals and then added together.
     (3) The similar numerical riddle in the Revelation would not necessarily seem Semitic, i.e. foreign, to the men of the Greek-speaking world. Examples of such playing with numbers have been found on inscribed stones of the Imperial period at Pergamum, which was one of the cities of the Apocalypse (Rev. ii. 12 ff.) Franz Bücheler has convincingly proven how widespread the habit was at that time, and a passage in Seutonius (Nero, 39), hitherto obscured by false conjectures, has been cleared up by his brilliant discovery that the name "Nero" is there resolved numerically into "matricide."
     (4) In solving the apocalyptic numbers 616 and 666, occurring in the Greek book, it is not only not unfeasible to start from the Greek alphabet, it is in fact the most obvious thing to do.49

It is apparent from Deissmann's comments that in the Greek world the method of calculation would be most like the Ragil method of Gematria in Hebrew.

     Deissmann argues persuasively that Greek, not Hebrew is to be preferred for the solution. Barnes agrees observing a similar Greek usage and presenting four reasons why Greek is to be preferred in the solution:

     It need not be said that much as been written on this mysterious "number", and that very different theories have been adopted in regard to its application. For the views which have been entertained on the subject, the reader may consult, with advantage, the article in Calmet's Dic., under the word Antichrist. It was natural for Calmet, being a Roman Catholic, to endeavor to show that the interpretations have been so various, that there could be no certainty in the application and especially in the common application to the Papacy. In endeavoring to ascertain the meeting of the passage, the following general remarks may be made, as containing the result of the investigation thus far: (a) there was some mystery in the matter --some designed concealment-- some reason why a more explicit statement was not adopted. The reason of this is not stated; but it may not be improper to suppose that it arose from something in the circumstances of the writer, and that the adoption of this enigmatical expression was designed to avoid some peril to which he or others might be exposed if there were a more explicit statement. (b) It is implied, nevertheless, that it could be understood; that is, that the meaning was not so obscure that, by proper study, the designed reference could not be ascertained without material danger of error. (c) It required skill to do this; either natural sagacity, or particular skill in interpreting hieroglyphics and symbols, or uncommon spiritual discernment. (d) Some man, or order of men, is referred to that could properly be designated in this manner. (e) The method of designating persons obscurely by a reference to the numerical signification of the letters in their names was not very uncommon, and was one that was not unlikely, in the circumstances of the case, to have been resorted to by John. "Thus, among the Pagans, the Egyptian mystics spoke of Mercury, or Thouth, under the name 1218, because the Greek letters composing the word Thouth, when estimated by their numerical value, together made up that number. By others, Jupiter was invoked under the mystical number 717; because the letters of HE ARCHE -- Beginning, or First origin, which was a characteristic of the supreme deity worshipped as Jupiter, made up that number. And Apollo under the number 608, as being that of eus or ues, words expressing certain solar attributes. Again, the pseudo-Christian or semi-Pagan Gnostics, from St. John's time and downwards, affixed to their gems and amulets, of which multitudes remain to the present day, the mystic word abrasax [abrasax] or abraxas [abraxas] under the idea of some magic virtue attaching to it's number 365, as being that of the days of the annual solar circle," etc. See other instances referred to in Elliot, iii. 205. These facts show that John would not be unlikely to adopt some such method of expressing a sentiment which it was designed should be obscure in form, but possible to be understood. It should be added here, that this was more common among the Jews then among any other people. (f) It seems clear that some Greek word is here referred to, and that the mystic number is to be found in some word of that language. The reasons for this opinion are these: (1) John was writing in Greek and it is most natural to suppose that this would be the reference; (2) he expected that his book would be read by those who understood the Greek language, and it would have been unnatural to have increased the perplexity in understanding what he referred to by introducing a word of a foreign language; (3) the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and not those of the Hebrew, are expressly selected by the savior, to denote his eternity -- "I am Alpha and Omega," chap. i.8, 11; and (4) the numerals by which the enigma is expressed -- chi-xi-sigma -- are Greek. It has indeed been supposed by many that the solution is to be found in the Hebrew language, but these reasons seem to me to show conclusively that we are to look for the solution in some Greek word.50

Biederwolf concurs with this view:

     It is well known that each letter of the alphabet in the Greek as well as the Hebrew had a value attached to it, as noted above. . . . However, by far the larger number of scholars agree that it is entirely out of place to use the Hebrew alphabet for this name in a book that is written entirely in Greek.51

F. F. Bruce sees at least a possibility of Hebrew being the intended language:

let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast: The beast is embodied in the emperor, and it is one of the emperors whose 'number' is to be reckoned. for it is a human number: Lit., 'the number of a man,' i.e. the total numerical value of the letters in some person's name, when spelt in the Greek, or possibly in the Hebrew, alphabet (emphasis mine). This reckoning of the numerical value of words and names was a riddle-game among the Greeks and Romans (as in the frequently quoted Greek graffito from Pompeii, 'I love the girl whose number is 545'); among the Jews (who called it 'gematria') and some early Christians it was treated as a matter of mystical significance -- as in the Sibylline Oracles (i. 328), where the appropriateness of 888 as the numerical value of the name of Jesus in Greek is pointed out. There is nothing mystical about the present passage; the seer's use of gematria could be a precaution against a charge of sedition if the name of the individual were spelt out in full.52

Granted that Revelation is written in Greek to a Greek audience. However, the call for "wisdom" in Revelation 13.18 might indicate that some complicating factor such as Hebrew might be included. With tongue in cheek, Bruce mentions:

George Salmon's 'three rules' for making any desired name yield the required total are still carried out in deadly seriousness by ernest Bible readers who imagine that John was really referring to the latest nine day's wonder in world politics of the 20th century. The three rules are: 'First, if the proper name by itself will not yield it, add a title; secondly, if the sum cannot be found in Greek, try Hebrew, or even Latin; thirdly, do not be too particular about the spelling' (Introduction to the NT, 1889, p. 253).53

In any case, the text does not exclude Hebrew letters from the calculation. Therefore, Greek, Hebrew, and perhaps Latin may be the letters used for the gematria. However, languages to whom such a numbering scheme is foreign such as English or German are excluded.

     Some see a mystical significance for the "number of a man," arithmos anthropou. These views always embody a hidden meaning of the number six. It is uncertain how these hidden meanings are arrived at. Wallace holds to this position in part:

 

If anthropou is generic, then the sense is, "It is [the] number of humankind." It is significant that this construction fits Apollonius' Canon (i.e., both the head noun and the genitive are anarthrous), suggesting that if one of these nouns is definite, then the other is too. Grammatically, those who contend that the sense is "it is [the] number of a man" have the burden of proof on them (for they treat the head noun, arithmos, as definite and the genitive, anthropou, as indefinite -- the rarest of all possibilities). In light of Johanine usage, we might also add Rev 16:18, where the Seer clearly uses the anarthrous anthropos in a generic sense, meaning "humankind." The implications of this grammatical possibility, exegetically speaking, are simply that the number "666" is the number that represents human kind. Of course, an individual is in view, but his number may be the number representing all of humankind. Thus the Seer might be suggesting here that the antichrist, who is the best representative of humanity without Christ (and the best counterfeit of a perfect man that his master, that old serpent, could muster), is still less than perfection (which would have been represented by the number seven).54

Wallace does admit, "Of course, an individual is in view. . ." which he would have to in view of the phrase kai ho arithmos autou, "and his number is"(emphasis mine)55 that follows immediately after. Moffat agrees that the number refers to a specific person:

 

He invites his readers to count the name or number of this Beast, i.e., to calculate a name whose letters, numerically valued on the fanciful principles of Gematria, would amount to 666. For John and his readers the Beast was primarily the foreign power which opposed the divine kingdom, i.e., in this case, the Roman empire. But the drift of the present oracle is the further identification of the empire with the emperor, or rather (ver. 3) with one emperor in particular. Hence the prophet throws out the hint which will solve his riddle: the number of tou theriou is arithmos anthropou, i.e., of a historic personality. Anthropou does not require tinos or henos before it to bring this out. The only intelligible sense of the words is "a human number," i.e., not a number which is intelligible (for no other kind of number would be worth mentioning) but one which answered to an individual.56

So we have seen that the number of the beast is the calculation based on a specific man's name. The method of the calculation is Gematria of the Ragil sort. The preferred language is Greek or possibly Hebrew. The total value of the beast's name is 666.

D. Literal vs. allegorical interpretation of Revelation 13

     Although symbolism is employed in the case of the two beasts, the use of "like" and "as if" clearly indicate that it is a symbol. There is no indication that we need to go on to create an allegorical layer of meaning over the symbol. The beast is a symbol of the Antichrist, but the Antichrist is a literal person not a symbol for something else. As shown above the number 666 is not a symbol but is the result of a calculation performed on a literal person's name. As Tan comments:

 

     Many interpreters err in seeing an inordinate amount of symbolism in Bible prophecy. For this reason, the interpreter should be conversant with the various situations under which symbols do not and cannot possibly exist. These situations are as follows:
1. When the 'symbol' involves things possible. . . .
2. When details superfluous to the 'symbol' are given. . . .
3. When the 'symbol' separates from itself.57

Since the mark of the beast is quite possible, is described in a details that would be useless if it were a mere symbol, and is received by some and not others, it is not a symbol. Therefore, even less is it part of an allegory. Tan remarks:

 

A classic example of date-setting and spiritualization is found in Seventh Day Adventism. The beginning of troubles for the Adventists in this respect is their belief in posttribulationism. Being posttribulational, it is easy for them to place the Roman papacy in the Great Tribulation, for they identify Sunday observance which allegedly started under the papacy as the "mark of the beast."58

Tan does see the 666 as a riddle, but not as an allegory :

 

The Scripture contains a very restrained use of riddles. When a riddle is used, it is often indicated as such (Rev. 13:8 "Here is wisdom . . . 666") or is immediately solved in the context (Samson's riddle).59

Pentecost remarks concerning the motivating force behind allegorical interpretation:

 

     The previous study should make it obvious that the allegorical method was not born out of the study of the Scriptures, but rather out of a desire to unite Greek philosophy and the Word of God. It did not come out of a desire to present the truths of the Word, but to pervert them. It was not the child of orthodoxy, but of heterodoxy.60

This text requires no spiritualization or allegory. Therefore, since the plain sense makes sense, I will seek no other sense.

II. Special prophetic elements in Revelation 13

A. Symbolic language

     As we have seen above, there is no compelling reason to take the mark and number of the beast as a symbol. However, the term "beast" is a symbol as mentioned above. Although the beast is first mentioned in Revelation 11.7, this term is used 37 times in 29 verses of Revelation. Of these verses, three are warnings against receiving the mark and worshipping the beast and/or his image (Rev. 14.9; 11; 20.4). Since receiving the mark is indicative of worshipping the beast, it must involve some profession of loyalty and acknowledgment of deity as we have seen above in the usage of charagma. Revelation 15.2 refers to the saints who are victorious over the beast. Revelation 16.2, 10 speaks of divine judgments on the beast's followers and kingdom. The remaining verses refer to the careers of two individuals: the first beast or Antichrist (Rev. 11.7; 13.1-4; 16.13; 17.3; 7; 8; 11-13; 16-17 (7 heads/10 horns); 19.19-20; 20.10) and the second beast or the False Prophet (Rev. 1 3.11-18; 19.20; 20.10).

     The first beast is first mentioned in Revelation 11.7 as the murderer of the two witnesses. This first beast obviously held a position of some power even before the murder of the two witnesses at the mid-point of the Tribulation. Wong argues that the beast in Revelation 11.7 is the Antichrist:

The "beast" most probably refers to the future Antichrist. Five facts support this view.
     First, the persecutor of the witnesses is not "a beast" but "the beast" (to therion). This use of a definite article to indicates that he is a figure well known to the writer. Since teaching on the Antichrist was so familiar to Jews and Christians through Old and New Testament prophecy (Dan. 7:2-25; 9:27; 11:35-45; Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 John 4:1-6), it is not impossible that John was thinking of him here. Second, since the word "beast" (therion) in the Apocalypse is always used with reference to the future Antichrist or his system, the beast in 11:7 should be seen in the same light. . . .
     Third, the beast will come up out of (ek) the abyss, that is, it will have a satanic, demonic source and character (cf. Rev. 9:1). This feature corresponds with that of the coming Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10.
     Fourth, the description of the beast as "coming up out of the abyss" (anabainon ek tes abussou, Rev. 11:7) corresponds with the beast "about to come from the abyss" (anabainein ek tes abussou) in 17:8 (cf. 13:1). This correspondence is illuminating, for since the beast in 17:8 probably refers to the future Antichrist with his kingdom, the same is probably the case in 11:7.
     Fifth, nikao ("to overcome") is used three times in the Apocalypse with reference to the enemy of God's people (6:2; 11:7; 13:7). Since other occurrences of the term are related directly to the coming Antichrist, the same may be true in 11:7.61

Ryrie agrees:

It seems to me that the label "Antichrist" is to be used with the more important personage, and that, of course, is the first Beast.
     First John 2:18 indicates that there is coming one great Antichrist. The Lord predicted that there would be many false prophets and many who claim to be Christ during the tribulation days. The title "Antichrist," therefore, ought to be applied to the outstanding person among all these false people, and that is the first Beast. Also, the first Beast is the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:3), the little horn (Dan. 7:8), the prince that shall come (Dan. 9:26), the king who does as he pleases (Dan. 11:36), and the Beast (Rev. 11:7; 13:1-2; 14:9, 11;16:2, 10, 13; 17:3, 17; 19:19-20; 20:4, 10).62

In this connection he is called, "the beast that comes up out of the abyss"63 thus showing that Hell is the true source of the beast. Revelation 17.8 also states that, "The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss."64 John wrote that, "the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority."65 The dragon has been previously identified as Satan (Revelation 12.9). John writes, "I saw a beast coming up out of the sea,. . . ."66 The sea is used as a figure for Rome as Keener explains:

Rome came "from the sea" from the vantage point of the eastern Empire, although the image itself is borrowed from Daniel 7:3. (* 4 Ezra 11:1 likewise has a symbol for Rome -- an eagle with twelve wings and three heads -- come from the sea, although in 13:1 a *messianic figure does the same.)67

As a Roman the beast is probably a Gentile. The 10 horns and seven heads mentioned in Revelation 13.1 are explained in Revelation 17.7-18 in terms that clearly refer to Rome: "the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits,"68 and, "the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth."69 Revelation 17.12 explains the 10 horns as, "ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour."70 Ryrie comments:

The seven heads are also explained in 17:9 as the seven hills of the city in which his power centers (Rome). They also stand for seven Roman rulers, of which he is the last.
     Therefore, the beast is not only a kingdom but also an individual ruler. He is a man. This is known from 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 and Matthew 24:15, where he as an individual -- not a kingdom --sets in the temple as God. . . .
     In total appearance the beast was "like a leopard," his feet "like those of a bear," and his mouth like a lion's. In the vision of Daniel 7 the first Beast that the prophet saw was like a lion, the second like a bear, and the third like a leopard. John's Beast combines these features; whatever the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Grecian empires had of strength, brutality, and swiftness will be present in this final form of Antichrist's world rule in the Western confederation of nations (or, as it is sometimes called, the revived Roman Empire).
     Great as this man and empire will be, he is actually only an agent or tool of someone else. It is the dragon, Satan, who gives the Beast his power, throne, and authority. He is sold out to Satan, and Satan uses him to the maximum.71

This clearly indicates that the first beast's kingdom will be a future revival of Rome in a 10 nation format and that the beast will be the ferocious Gentile emperor who persecutes the saints (Rev. 13.7). In the terms of 1 John this future emperor is called the Antichrist.

     In Revelation 13.3, 12, and 14 the first beast is described as having suffered a fatal wound and recovering. Walvoord explores this clue:

     What is the meaning of the fatal wound that is healed? Two possibilities seem to fit this description. Alford, for instance, sees the deadly wound as the destruction of "the Roman pagan Empire" by "the Christian Roman Empire," thus making it a matter of history rather than prophecy (The Greek Testament, 4:675). The revival of the Roman Empire would then be its miraculous healing. Another plausible explanation is that the final world ruler receives a wound which normally would be fatal but is miraculously healed by Satan. While the resurrection of a dead person seems to be beyond Satan's power, the healing of a wound would be possible for Satan, and this may be the explanation.72

Since this fatal wound is mentioned in connection with the beast himself and is, in fact, the reason for the worship that is given to the beast (Revelation 13.3-4), the interpretation that this refers to a wound given to the Antichrist, that would normally be fatal (hos esphagmenen eis thanaton, "as if it had been slain"), that he recovers from by the power of Satan. It is possible that "sword" could be taken as a figurative expression for "war" as in Matthew 10.34.73 If so, the Antichrist could be some sort of war hero as well. This "healing" is a deceptive attempt by Satan to mimic the resurrection.

     In Revelation 13.4-6,and 8 the beast is seen as a blasphemer and as being worshipped by the masses. Keener comments on the practice of Roman Emperor worship:

     Emperors bore titles such as "divine" ("god," on Asian coins) and "son of a god" (i.e., of the preceding ruler), and Domitian demanded the address "Lord and God," thus "blasphemous names here. . . .74

Moffatt explains:

The blasphemous title of divus, assumed by the emperors since Octavian (Augustus = sebastos) as a semi-sacred title, implied superhuman claims which shocked the pious feelings of Jews and Christians alike. So did theos and theou huios which, as the inscriptions prove, were freely applied to the emperors, from Augustus onwards. The imperial system, especially with its demand for imperial worship, appeared the embodiment of irreverence and profane infatuation (ver. 6). This calm usurpation of divine honours was inexplicable except on the supposition (ver. 2) that the empire was a tool or agent of the devil himself.75

In Revelation 13.7, 9, and 10 he is seen as a persecutor of the saints. Therefore, the beast will claim to be in some sense a god and as such will claim worship. He will persecute those who refuse to render that worship to him.

     The beast is described in Revelation 13.7, 8 in terms that seem at first to imply a world-wide rule, "authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him," edothe auto exousia epi pasan phulen kai laon kai glossan kai ethnos and "all who dwell on the earth will worship him," proskunesousin auton pantes hoi katoikountes epi tes ges. Since other spheres of power are mentioned in prophecy (the kings of the east, Gog and Magog, etc.) and the beast's realm has already been shown to be a revived Roman Empire, this poses a problem. Thayer notes that pas, "every" is used:

     I. adjectivally, and 1. with anarthrous nouns; a. any, every one (sc. of the class denoted by the noun annexed to pas); with the Singular. . . with the Plural, all or any that are of the class indicated by the noun. . . . b. any and every, of every kind, [A. V. often all manner of]. . . . c. the whole (all, Lat. totus): so before proper names of countries, cities, nations. . . .76

So, taking Thayer's second definition since these nouns are all without articles and are not proper names, Revelation 13.7 could be read, "authority over every kind of tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him." This would be indicating that the beast's kingdom will be multi-national and multi-ethnic, i.e. an empire but not coextensive with the entire globe. Keener explains that:

The Romans had likewise unified much of the ancient world, and the ruler-worshipping East now worshipped the emperor. "All the earth" was used in other texts of John's time to mean all the "civilized" earth, all that was under a mighty empire (e.g., Judith 2:7; 6:4; 11:1; although everyone was aware, from legend, mythology and trade connections, of peoples outside the sphere of Rome, Parthia and the northern barbarians).77

Thus, the beast's realm may consist only of the area of the revived Roman Empire.

     The next beast is mentioned in Revelation 13.11-18. He is called allo therion, "another beast."78 Robertson remarks, "Another beast (allo thêrion). Like the first beast (verse 1), not a heteron thêrion (a different beast)."79 He is said to come up ek tes ges, "out of the earth." Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich see a possible meaning of ge, "earth" as, "a region, country. . . . In a territorial sense. . . Israel. . . ."80 Thayer notes the same usage, "a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory, region; simply, when it is plain from the context what land is meant, as that of the Jews. . . ."81 This corresponds to Hebrew usage of haaretz, "the land" as equivalent to yisrael, "Israel." Therefore, the second beast is probably a Jew and an Israeli. He has two horns "like a lamb" thus imitating the Messiah (cf., Revelation 5). However, when he speaks he reveals his true nature in that, "he spoke as a dragon." This beast is an imitation Messiah or false prophet (cf. Revelation 16.13; 19.20; 20.10) to the Jews but his message is straight from Satan.

     The second beast uses his power to promote the worship of the first beast, as Revelation 13.12 indicates. Revelation 13.13-15 indicates that the second beast will perform two signs in this attempts to sway people to worship the first beast. First, he "makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth."82 This could be supernatural or a weapon system such as lasers, missiles, or even Napalm. Second, "there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak. . . ."83 Again, this could be supernatural or perhaps a device such as a robot, a hologram, or even a television could be intended. The penalty for not worshipping this image is death.

     As part of his program, the false prophet, "causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name."84 This is an economic boycott of believers. Much speculation has gone into this mark and its relationship to modern banking, the cashless society idea, smart cards, etc. As Lindsey comments:

     Do you believe it will be possible for people to be controlled economically? In our computerized society, where we are all "numbered" from birth to death, it seems completely plausible that some day in the near future the numbers racket will consolidate and we will have just one number for all business, money, and credit transactions. Leading members of the business community are now planning that all money matters will be handled electronically.85

Doubtless the invention of computers and the introduction of a "cashless society" would aid in the enforcement of an economic boycott against Christians. However, the mark is the "name of the beast or the number of his name" not the name or number that identifies each individual citizen. We have seen above how "mark" and "number of his name" are to be taken. So the remaining question is when can we calculate the number of the beast's name and so determine the Antichrist?

B. Timing and fulfillment

     In the overall structure of the book of Revelation we have seen that the events of chapter 13 are to be found in the great tribulation. Judging by the time references in Revelation 13.5 (cp. Revelation 11.2-3; Daniel 7.25; 9.27) the events of chapter 13 can be placed in the last half of the seven year tribulation. Contrary to the Preterist view, these events have not yet happened. As Keener notes:

     Although most of the details of 13:1-10 could apply to the emperor of John's day, and via him to totalitarian regimes throughout history, some of the details of 13:11-18 suggest that John consciously anticipates its ultimate fulfillment in a emperor yet to come (17:11).86

So we need not expect the Antichrist to arise on the world scene until the great tribulation and the mark of the beast may not be instituted until the middle of the tribulation.

     The apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2.3 indicates that the Day of the Lord will not come until after the Antichrist is revealed. In 2 Thessalonians 2.6, 7, Paul mentions a restraining influence that keeps the Antichrist from being revealed. It is beyond the scope of this paper to determine the identity of the restrainer. However, the point in verse 8 is that the restrainer prevents the Antichrist from being revealed in the present. Price explains:

The Revelation provides the most complete information about the career of the Antichrist, even offering an identification of his person in the cryptogram 666 (13:16-18). Since the text does not give an explanation for this number, other than that it is the number of a man (i.e., Antichrist), no one until the appropriate hour in the Tribulation will be able to discern this meaning.87

Ryrie comments:

Many characters in history have been identified with the number 666, but all are mistaken. When this man arises on the scene of world affairs, there will be no mistake as to who he is, and in some way, unknown now, the number 666 will play a principal part in the identification.88

Therefore, we should expect all attempts to fail or at least be uncertain until the great tribulation. The number of the Antichrist's name will serve along with other clues (his mortal wound, political position, persecution of the believers and Israel, etc.) to clearly point to his true identity.

III. Interpretation of Revelation 13

A. An outline of Revelation 13

     As we saw above, Revelation 13 is divided into two sections. Revelation 13.1-10 focuses on the career of the first beast or the Antichrist. Revelation 13.11-18 centers on the activities of the second beast or false prophet. Each section is introduced by a description of the beasts origin and power (13.1-2 and 13.11-12), followed by the deeds of each beast (13.3-8 and 13.12-17), and concludes with the believer's proper response (13.9-10 and 13.18). This could be outlined as follows:

B. Major and minor themes of Revelation 13

     The two major themes are given at the conclusion of each section: the perseverance of the saints (Revelation 13.9,10) and the identity of the Antichrist (Revelation 13.18). The minor themes of the careers of the two beasts serve the major themes by providing clues as to the identity of the Antichrist and preparing the tribulation saints for the trails that they will face.

C. Comparison with related prophetic passages

     The description of the first beast is a composite of the beasts of Daniel 7.1 - 8, 11, 12, which parallels Nebuchadnezar's dream of the statue in Daniel 2.29 - 36. The fourth beast (or the statue's legs and feet of iron and clay) are explained to be the fourth kingdom to come from the vantage point of Daniel (Daniel 2.39 - 44; 7.15 - 17). Daniel lived during the Babylonian Empire and the Medo-Persian Empire. Persia was followed by the Greek Empire. Therefore, the fourth empire was Rome. This fourth empire is spoken of in a ten nation form as in Revelation 13.1 (cp. Daniel 7.19 - 25). Note also that persecution of the saints is mentioned as in Revelation 13.7 (cp. Daniel 7.21, 25). The beast's blasphemy is mentioned as in Revelation 13.5, 6 (cp. Daniel 7.8, 11, 20, 25) as well as the 42 month or 3.5 year span of his persecution in Revelation 13. 5 (cp. Daniel 7.25). Immediately after the destruction of this kingdom the Kingdom of God is set up on Earth (cp. Revelation 19 - 20 and Daniel 2.45; 7.9, 10, 13, 14, 18, 22, 26, 27).

     Daniel 9.26 stated that the, "the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary."89 Since the city of Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans they would be the people of the coming prince that is mentioned in Daniel 9.27. He is said to make a seven year defense covenant with Israel. However, in the middle of that period he will stop the sacrifice and cause an abomination and desolation. Jesus mentioned this in the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24.15).

     Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 speaks of the Antichrist's actions calling him the "man of lawlessness."90 As we saw above, Paul teaches that he will not be revealed until the restrainer is removed. Paul teaches that the Antichrist will take, "his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."91 Paul states that the Antichrist's, "coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness. . . ."92

     So from parallel prophecies we have confirmation of several details. The Antichrist's kingdom will be a revival of the Roman Empire in a ten nation form. He will make a defense pact with Israel for seven years. In the middle of the seven years he will stop the Temple sacrifice and declare himself to be a god. He will be a persecutor of the tribulation saints. His source of power is Satan. The Kingdom of God is ushered in after the destruction of his kingdom.

D. Survey of some historical interpretations

1. Allegorical interpreters

     Not surprisingly the great allegorist John Bunyan sees the Antichrist as an allegorical figure:

     Antichrist therefore is a mystical man, so made, or begotten of the devil, and sent into the world, himself being the chief and highest of him. Three things therefore go to the making up of Antichrist, the head, body, and soul. The devil he is the head; the synagogue of Satan, that is the body; that wicked spirit of iniquity, that is the soul of Antichrist. Christ then is the head of his church; the devil is the head of Antichrist; the elect are the body of Christ; the reprobate professors are the body of Antichrist; the Holy Ghost is the spirit of life that actuateth Christ's body; that wicked spirit of iniquity, is that which actuateth the body of Antichrist. Thus therefore are the two great mighties set forth before us, who are the heads of those two bodies; and thus are these two bodies set before us, who are to be actuated by these two spirits.93

Augustine often employed an allegorical approach (see City of God 20.8) but, on the matter of the Antichrist's persecutions being derived allegorically from the ten plagues of Exodus, he refutes himself:

     I do not think, indeed, that what some have thought or may think is rashly said or believed, that until the time of Antichrist the Church of Christ is not to suffer any persecutions besides those she has already suffered, - that is, ten, - and that the eleventh and last shall be inflicted by Antichrist. They reckon as the first that made by Nero, the second by Domitian, the third by Trajan, the fourth by Antoninus, the fifth by Severus, the sixth by Maximin, the seventh by Decius, the eighth by Valerian, the ninth by Aurelian the tenth by Diocletian and Maximian. For as there were ten plagues in Egypt before the people of God could begin to go out, they think this is to be referred to as showing that the last persecution by Antichrist must be like the eleventh plague, in which the Egyptians, while following the Hebrews with hostility, perished in the Red Sea when the people of God passed through on dry land. Yet I do not think persecutions were prophetically signified by what was done in Egypt, however nicely and ingeniously those who think so may seem to have compared the two in detail, not by the prophetic Spirit, but by the conjecture of the human mind, which sometimes hits the truth, and sometimes is deceived.94

Following Augustine's lead the reformers took the Scriptures pertaining to the Antichrist and the mark of the beast as an allegory of either the Pope or Islam (Constantinople had fallen to the Turks in 1412) or both. The Waldenses held the Pope to be the Antichrist:

     Persecution of the Waldenses in France Popery having brought various innovations into the Church, and overspread the Christian world with darkness and superstition, some few, who plainly perceived the pernicious tendency of such errors, determined to show the light of the Gospel in its real purity, and to disperse those clouds which artful priests had raised about it, in order to blind the people, and obscure its real brightness.
     The principal among these was Berengarius, who, about the year 1000, boldly preached Gospel truths, according to their primitive purity. Many, from conviction, assented to his doctrine, and were, on that account, called Berengarians. To Berengarius succeeded Peter Bruis, who preached at Toulouse, under the protection of an earl, named Hildephonsus, and the whole tenets of the reformers, with the reasons of their separation from the Church of Rome, were published in a book written by Bruis, under the title of 'ANTICHRIST'.95

Wycliffe also was of this opinion:

Wickliffe's observant mind penetrated into the constitution and policy of Rome, and he returned more strongly than ever determined to expose its avarice and ambition. Having recovered his former situation, he inveighed, in his lectures, against the pope - his usurpation - his infallibility - his pride - his avarice - and his tyranny. He was the first who termed the pope Antichrist.96

as was Tyndale:

     There dwelt not far off a certain doctor, that he been chancellor to a bishop, who had been of old, familiar acquaintance with Master Tyndale, and favored him well; unto whom Master Tyndale went and opened his mind upon divers questions of the Scripture: for to him he durst be bold to disclose his heart. Unto whom the doctor said, "Do you not know that the pope is very Antichrist, whom the Scripture speaketh of? But beware what you say; for if you shall be perceived to be of that opinion, it will cost you your life." Not long after, Master Tyndale happened to be in the company of a certain divine, recounted for a learned man, and, in communing and disputing with him, he drove him to that issue, that the said great doctor burst out into these blasphemous words, "We were better to be without God's laws than the pope's." Master Tyndale, hearing this, full of godly zeal, and not bearing that blasphemous saying, replied, "I defy the pope, and all his laws;" and added, "If God spared him life, ere many years he would cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than he did."97

Luther considered the Pope and the Turks both to be Antichrist:

     Antichrist is the pope and the Turk together; a beast full of life must have a body and soul; the spirit or soul of Antichrist, is the pope, his flesh or body the Turk. The latter wastes and assails; and persecutes God's Church corporally; the former spiritually and corporally too, with hanging, burning, murdering, etc. But, as in the apostles' time, the Church had the victory over the Jews and Romans, so now will she keep the field firm and solid against the hypocrisy and idolatry of the pope, and the tyranny and devastations of the Turk and her other enemies.98

In fact, Luther considered the idea of a literal individual that would fulfill the Antichrist prophecies to be Papist. He said, "'Tis an idle dream the papists entertain of Antichrist; they suppose he should be a single person, that should govern, scatter money amongst them, do miracles, carry a fiery oven about him, and kill the saints."99 Calvin took the Antichrist's desecration of the Temple to be an allegory of the Church and the Pope to be the desecrator:

     Therefore, while we are unwilling simply to concede the name of Church to the Papists, we do not deny that there are churches among them. The question we raise only relates to the true and legitimate constitution of the Church, implying communion in sacred rites, which are the signs of profession, and especially in doctrine. Daniel and Paul foretold that Antichrist would sit in the temple of God (Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:4); we regard the Roman Pontiff as the leader and standard-bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom.100

Arminius also held the Pope to be the Antichrist:

This regal office is so peculiar to Christ, under God the Father, that he admits no man, even subordinately, into a participation of it, as if he would employ such an one for a ministerial head. For this reason, we say, that the Roman pontiff, who calls himself the head and spouse, though under Christ, is Antichrist.101

In critique of this sort of thinking Hobbes remarks concerning:

. . . the question whether the Pope be Antichrist. For my part, I see no argument that proves he is so, in that sense the Scripture useth the name: nor will I take any argument from the quality of Antichrist to contradict the authority he exerciseth, or hath heretofore exercised, in the dominions of any other prince or state. . . . False Christs are such as pretend to be the Christ, but are not, and are called properly Antichrists, in such sense as when there happeneth a schism in the Church by the election of two Popes, the one the one calleth the other Antipapa, or the false Pope. And therefore Antichrist in the proper signification hath two essential marks: one, that he denieth Jesus to be Christ; and another that he professeth himself to be Christ.102

So these see the institution of the Papacy or Islam instead of an individual to be the Antichrist.

     The numbers involved in Revelation 13 are also often taken in a mystical sense. This is done by some very surprising expositors that, on the whole, hold to a literal hermeneutic. Tan comments:

Non-literal interpreters often ascribe mystical significances or symbolical designations to numbers in prophecy. This is not justifiable. John J. Davis, after an extensive study of the symbolism of numbers in Scripture, states: "It is our conclusion that the mystical or symbolical interpretation of numbers has little place in a sound system of hermeneutics."103

However, the siren's call is hard to resist. Halley ignores the explanation given in Revelation 17.7 - 18 for the number of heads, horns, and crowns in favor of a numerological explanation:

     Seven as a symbol for Completeness, and Ten, as a symbol for World Power, the Seven Heads and Ten Horns seem to represent World Power as a Whole: or, the Concentration and Personification of World Power continuing as One Entity through the Whole Period of History, manifesting itself under various forms and to various degrees in various ages, with many and diverse modifications.104

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown have a involved explanation of the number 666:

The Hebrew letters of Balaam amount to 666 [BUNSEN]; a type of the false prophet, whose characteristic, like Balaam's, will be high spiritual knowledge perverted to Satanic ends. The number six is the world number; in 666 it occurs in units, tens, and hundreds. It is next neighbor to the sacred seven, but is severed from it by an impassable gulf. It is the number of the world given over to judgment; hence there is a pause between the sixth and seventh seals, and the sixth and seventh trumpets. The judgments of the world are complete in six; by the fulfillment of seven, the kingdoms of the world become Christ's. As twelve is the number of the Church, so six, its half, symbolizes the world kingdom broken. The raising of the six to tens and hundreds (higher powers) indicates that the beast, notwithstanding his progression to higher powers, can only rise to greater ripeness for judgment. Thus 666, the judged world power, contrasts with the 144,000 sealed and transfigured ones (the Church number, twelve, squared and multiplied by 1000, the number symbolizing the world prevaded by God; ten, the world number, raised to the power of three the number of God) [AUBERLEN]. The "mark" (Greek, charagma) and "name" are one and the same. The Ch and R, are the same as the first two radical letters of Christ (Greek, Christos), Ch and R, are the same as the first two of charagma, and were the imperial monogram of Christian Rome. Antichrist, personating Christ, adopts a symbol like, but not agreeing with, Christ's monogram, Ch, X, St; whereas the radicals in "Christ" are Ch, R, St. . . . The first two letters of "Christ," Ch, R, represent seven hundred, the perfect number. The Ch, X, St represent and imperfect number, a triple falling away (apostasy) from septenary perfection [WORDSWORTH].105

This contains several errors. Besides superimposing a mystical meaning on the text, many of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's assertions are contradictory. Six is said to be the number of the world, but so is ten. Twelve is the "Church" number. Why not the Israel number instead? I have no idea where the monogram Ch, X, St comes from. It certainly does not correspond to the Greek letters. The Gematria of Balaam (bl'm) is 142 not 666! This hermeneutic is closer to Qabbala than Scripture.106 Smith sees a symbol of fallen man and a Satanic "trinity":

I think that we need go no further than to recognize that six is the number of fallen man and thus of incompleteness, and that 666 is the trinity of six. Even in this passage there is a demonic trinity -- Satan, the beast out of the earth (Antichrist, v. 11), and the beast out of the sea (the false prophet, v. 1).107

It should be noted that Smith reverses the order of Revelation 13. The Antichrist is presented in verse 1 and the false prophet in verse 11. Granted man is fallen and Satan may be attempting to ape the Trinity but, is this the point of 666? Walvoord sees a hint of Satan and the beast's false claim to deity:

     Probably the best interpretation is that the number six is one less than the perfect number seven, and the threefold repetition of the six would indicate that for all their pretensions to deity, Satan and the two beasts were just creatures and not the Creator. That six is man's number is illustrated in many instances in the Bible, including the fact that man should work six days and rest the seventh. . . .108

Walvoord does appeal to Genesis for support of six being the number of man. However, the connection is tenuous at best in that God also worked six days and rested the seventh (Genesis 2.2). Numerology seems to be a great temptation even for the best of interpreters. As we see here, the method does not return uniform or reliable results. As such we cannot be sure of the validity of interpretations derived by means of numerology.

     The common thread in all of these allegorical interpretations is that they all see an institution rather than an individual as the Antichrist and they all spiritualize details that have been predicted of the Antichrist's career. To the extent that this is done, they depart from the clear meaning of the text. To do so is, as Augustine warned, to make truth a hit or miss affair.

2. Literal interpreters

     It is worthy of note that in many respects the Jewish expectation agrees with Revelation. Price notes:

     Jewish apocalypses also developed certain themes concerning the Antimessiah (see ESCHATOLOGY, JEWISH). One example is the Roman origin of the Antimessiah (based apparently on the interpretation in Daniel's prophecy of a Roman connection, (Dan. 9:26-27) in the Sibylline Oracles (4:119-39). Here the eschatological Antimessiah is cast in the mold of the worst of the deified Roman emperors, Nero, who was expected to reappear in the end time as Nero redivivus (Nero risen [from the dead]). In the Ascension of Isaiah Nero is the epitome of evil into whom Beliar entered to do wonders and much evil (4:3, 13). Early patristic writers were also influenced by the Jewish Nero redivivus tradition (e.g., Commodian, A.D. 250). Some, however, such as Hippolytus (Commentary on the Benedictions of Isaac and Jacob [Gen. 49:14], who began the Christian tradition that the Antichrist originates from the Israelite tribe of Dan, apparently made this connection from the Jewish Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (T. Dan 1:4-9; 5:6-7), which states that evil spirits would be active in the tribe (5:5), that Satan was their prince (5:6), and that they would be hostile in the future to the tribes of Levi and Judah (5:6-7).
     The doom of the Antimessiah was predicted following the pattern presented in Daniel (9, 11). The Psalms of Solomon describes the son of David delivering Israel by destroying the lawless one with the word of his mouth, purging Jerusalem, and restoring the Promised Land to the Jews (17:13, 23-27). This is similar to the New Testament, where the coming of the Messiah ends Jewish persecution and destroys the armies of the Antichrist (Matt. 24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27; Luke 21:27-28; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:14-21).
     In the Jerusalem Talmud (A), Targum pseudo-Jonathan, and the later Jewish apocalyptic Midrashim (commentaries), the legendary name given to the Antimessiah is Armilus. Works such as Sefer Zerubbavel and those by Saadiah Gaon reveal his characteristics in striking detail. According to these Jewish sources, Armilus will deceive the whole world into believing he is God and will reign over the whole world. He will come with ten kings and together they will fight over Jerusalem. Armilus is expected to persecute and banish Israel to the wilderness and it will be a time of unprecedented distress for Israel; there will be increasing famine, and the Gentiles will expel the Jews from their lands, and they will hide in caves and towers. God will war against the host of Armilus, and there will be a great deliverance for Israel, and the kingdom of heaven will spread over all the earth.
     Other references further describe Armilus as arising from the Roman Empire, having miraculous powers, and being born to a stone statue of a virgin, because of which he was called "the son of a stone." It is also interesting that he makes this statue the chief of all idolatry with the result that "all the Gentiles will bow down to her, burn incense and pour out libations to her." This resembles Daniel's wicked king and coming prince and his Abomination of Desolation (Dan. 18:1, 31 36-37), and especially the Apocalypse's statue of the Beast which is brought to life and made an object of worship (Rev. 13:4, 15).109

This popular Jewish eschatology has many similarities to the Revelation. Thus it shows a literal approach to the Old Testament was in effect among the Jews of John's day and would certainly have governed their approach to Revelation.

     The majority of the early Church fathers seem to have held to a literal interpretation. Irenaeus (fl. c. 175 A.D. - c. 195 A.D.) explained the number of the beast's name and suggested several possibilities concluding that we cannot be sure until the time comes of the identity of the Antichrist:

     Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it]; while reason also leads us to conclude that the number of the name of the beast, [if reckoned] according to the Greek mode of calculation by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six hundred and sixty and six. . . .
     It is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to be making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned; and the same question will, after all, remain unsolved. For if there are many names found possessing this number, it will be asked which among them shall the coming man bear. It is not through a want of names containing the number of that name that I say this, but on account of the fear of God, and zeal for the truth: for the name Euanthas contains the required number, but I make no allegation regarding it. Then also Lateinos has the number six hundred and sixty-six; and it is a very probable [solution], this being the name of the last kingdom [of the four seen by Daniel]. For the Latins are they who at present bear rule: I will not, however, make any boast over this [coincidence]. Teitan too, (the first syllable being written with the two Greek vowels e and i), among all the names which are found among us, is rather worthy of credit. For it has in itself the predicted number, and is composed of six letters, each syllable containing three letters; and [the word itself] is ancient, and removed from ordinary use; for among our kings we find none bearing this name Titan, nor have any of the idols which are worshipped in public among the Greeks and barbarians this appellation. Among many persons, too, this name is accounted divine, so that even the sun is termed "Titan" by those who do now possess [the rule]. This word, too, contains a certain outward appearance of vengeance, and of one inflicting merited punishment because he (Antichrist) pretends that he vindicates the oppressed. And besides this, it is an ancient name, one worthy of credit, of royal dignity, and still further, a name belonging to a tyrant. Inasmuch, then, as this name "Titan" has so much to recommend it, there is a strong degree of probability, that from among the many [names suggested], we infer, that perchance he who is to come shall be called "Titan." We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.
     But he indicates the number of the name now, that when this man comes we may avoid him, being aware who he is: the name, however, is suppressed, because it is not worthy of being proclaimed by the Holy Spirit.110

The conclusions that I have drawn are substantially in agreement with Irenaeus. Lacantius (c. 240 A.D. - c. 320 A.D.) also held to a literal Antichrist:

     Now this is he who is called Antichrist; but he shall falsely call himself Christ, and shall fight against the truth, and being overcome shall flee; and shall often renew the war, and often be conquered, until in the fourth battle, all the wicked being slain, subdued, and captured, he shall at length pay the penalty of his crimes.111

Victorinus (d. c. 303 A.D.) too interpreted Revelation literally and suggested several possibilities:

     "His number is the name of a man, and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."] As they have it reckoned from the Greek characters, they thus find it among many to be teitan, for teitan has this number, which the Gentiles call Sol and Phoebus; and it is reckoned in Greek thus: t three hundred, e five, i ten, t three hundred, a one, n fifty, - which taken together become six hundred and sixty-six. For as far as belongs to the Greek letters, they fill up this number and name; which name if you wish to turn into Latin, it is understood by the antiphrase DICLUX, which letters are reckoned in this manner: since D figures five hundred, I one, C a hundred, l fifty, V five, X ten, - which by the reckoning up of the letters makes similarly six hundred and sixty-six, that is, what in Greek gives teitan, to wit, what in Latin is called DICLUX; by which name, expressed by and-phrases, we understand Antichrist, who, although he be cut off from the supernal light, and deprived thereof, yet transforms himself into an angel of light, daring to call himself light. Moreover, we find in a certain Greek codex antemos, which letters being reckoned up, you will find to give the number as above: a one, n fifty, t three hundred, e five, m in forty, o seventy, s two hundred, - which together makes six hundred and sixty-six, according to the Greeks. Moreover, there is another name in Gothic of him, which will be evident of itself, that is, genserikos, which in the same way you will reckon in Greek letters: g three, e five, n fifty, s two hundred, e eight, r a hundred, i ten, k twenty, o seventy, s also two hundred, which, as has been said above, make six hundred and sixty-six.112

Victorinus is unique in that he considers Roman numerals also in the calculation. This is less likely in that not all of the Latin alphabet has numeric value. Therefore, through to the fourth century, the majority voice of the early Church was to interpret Revelation 13 literally.

     Barnes, although he sees the Pope as the Antichrist, takes the number of Antichrist's name literally and makes some suggestions:

     The question now is, whether there is any word which corresponds with these conditions, and which would naturally be referred to by John in this manner. The exposition thus far has led us to suppose that the Papacy in some form is referred to; and the inquiry now is, whether there is any word which is so certain and determinate as to make it probable that John meant to designate that. The word Lateinos -- Lateinos, the Latin [Man] -- actually has all the conditions supposed in the interpretation of this passage. From this word the number specified -- 666 --is made out as follows:--
L A T E I N O S
30 1 300 5 10 50 70 200 = 666. . . .
     The only objection to this solution that has been suggested is that the orthography of the Greek word is Latinos -- Latinos -- and not Lateinos -- Lateinos -- giving the number 616, and not 666; and Bellarmine asserts that this is the uniform method of spelling in Greek authors. All that is necessary in reply to this, is to copy the following remarks from Prof. Stuart, vol. ii. p. 456: " As to the form of the Greek word Lateinos, [Lateinos,] viz., that ei is employed for the Latin long i, it is a sufficient vindication of it to cite Sabeinos, Fausteinos, Pauleinos, Lntoneinos, Lteilios, Meteilios, Papeerios, Oueibios, etc. Or we may refer to the custom of the more ancient Latin, as in Plautus, of writing i by ei; e. g., solitei, Diveis, captivei, preimus, Lateina, etc." . . . .
     We have seen that, besides the name Lateinos, two other words had been referred to in the time of Irenaeus. Some of the words in which the mysterious number has been since supposed to be found are the following: --

Barnes follows Victorinus' lead in using Roman numerals. Barclay also takes the number of the beast's name literally. He suggests:

     The suggestions as to the meaning of 666 are endless. Since it is the number of the beast, everyone has twisted it to fit his own arch-enemy; and so 666 has been taken to mean the Pope, John Knox, Martin Luther, Napoleon and many another. Dr. Kepler provides us with an example of what ingenuity produced during the Second World War. Let A=100; B=101; C=102; D=103 and so on. Then we can make this addition:
H = 107
I = 108
T = 119
L = 111
E = 104
R = 117
and the sum is 666! . . . .
     A fourth suggestion was arnoume. A=1; R=100; N=50; O=70; U=400; M=40; E=5; and the sum is 666. It is just possible that arnoume could be a form of the Greek word arnoumai, "I deny." In this case the number would stand for the denial of the name of Christ.
     None of these suggestions is convincing. The chapter itself gives us by far the best clue. There recurs again and again the mention of the head that was wounded to death and then restored. We have already seen that that head symbolizes the Nero redivivus legend. We might well, therefore, act on the assumption that the number has something to do with Nero. Many ancient manuscripts give the number as 616. If we take Nero in Latin and give it its numerical equivalent, we get:
N = 50
E = 6
R = 500
O = 60
N = 50
The total is 666; and the name can equally well be spelled without the final N which would give the number 616. In Hebrew the letters of Nero Caesar also add up to 666.
     There is little doubt that the number of the beast stands for Nero; and that John is forecasting the coming of Antichrist in the form of Nero, the incarnation of all evil, returning to this world.114

Barclay considers Nero the intended solution.

     A popular position seems to consider Caesar Nero as the solution to the riddle and the legend of Nero redivivus as being the meaning of John's reference. Keener explains the background of this myth:

     Although Nero died, reportedly by his own hand, on June 9, A.D. 68, rumor circulated that he was still alive and ready to take vengeance on the Roman aristocracy for rejecting him. According to writers of the day, the majority of people in the eastern part of the Empire expected his return. Several impostors arose claiming to be Nero, hoping to gather followings in the eastern Empire, where he was most popular; one of them arose in Asia Minor during the reign of Titus (Domitian's older brother). During Domitian's reign, a Nero figure even persuaded the Parthians to follow him to invade the Roman Empire, but Domitian forced them to back down and execute the impostor instead.
     Jewish oracles predicted the return of Nero, and Christians feared it. Although John clearly does not believe in a literal return of Nero, he may use the image of this popular myth, as many scholars think, to say: "You thought Nero was bad; wait till you see this!" (the way we today would use the image of Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot). This image so shaped the views of early Christians -- thousands of whose numbers had been eradicated under Nero in Rome -- that "Nero" even became a term for "antichrist" in the Armenian language. Many later Christian writers, including Tertullian, Augustine, and Jerome, connected Nero with the antichrist. The view that John here uses this Nero redivivus myth has continued through history and is widely held by modern scholars, such as F.F. Bruce, William Barclay and most commentators on Revelation. Politically dangerous oracles were known forms of Greek and Jewish protest, and Rome would have taken serious offense at the implications of this exiled prophet John had the authorities read and grasped the symbolism of his book.115

Keener continues:

     But the most popular proposal among scholars today is "Nero Caesar." Although his name comes out to 1,005 in Greek (which would have been obvious, because a familiar wordplay on that number of his name had circulated throughout the Empire's graffiti), his name comes out to "666" if transliterated into Hebrew. If John intends an allusion to Nero here. . . , either he expects his readers to know to switch to Hebrew letters (probably with the help of more skilled members of the congregation), or he and they had already used "666" in this manner.116

Against this is Bruce's own statement that:

So successful was the seer's precaution that the solution of this riddle had been forgotten by the time of Ireneus (A.D. 180) and remains uncertain to this day. One must hope that the original readers of Rev. understood his allusion. . . .117

If Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp who studied under John, didn't know the answer, it is probably because the answer had not yet been revealed. Irenaeus and Paul both take this position, as we have seen. Also, as Keener notes above, 666 was not the Gematria used for Nero 1,005 was. Lactantius strongly took issue with this theory:

But we ought not to believe those who, affirming that the two prophets Enoch and Elias have been translated into some remote place that they might attend our Lord when He shall come to judgment, also fancy that Nero is to appear hereafter as the forerunner of the devil, when he shall come to lay waste the earth and overthrow mankind.118

There is no direct evidence that the Nero redivivus myth is intended. Certainly we should require such evidence before accepting such a fanciful interpretation. It is slightly possible that an allusion to Nero is intended as Keener asserts, but the myth is not endorsed.

IV. The application of Revelation 13

A. The application in the 1st Century

     Revelation 13, as we have seen, was not fulfilled in the 1st century. However, they could surely identify with the tribulation saints who will be persecuted by a Satanic Roman Emperor. John affirmed in 1 John 2.18 that even though the Antichrist was coming in the future, many antichrists existed at that time. The call to persevere in one's testimony even in the face of death is clear.

B. The Dispensational application

     The Dispensational application is the primary application. The first beast and the Antichrist are equivalent. He will be revealed at a future time and is currently unknown. He is a Gentile, has recovered from a mortal wound, and will rule over a ten nation confederacy that will constitute a revival of the Roman Empire. He will make a seven year defense pact with Israel, beginning the Great Tribulation. He will order the death of the two witnesses. At the mid-point of the Great Tribulation he will stop the sacrifice and take his seat in the Temple declaring himself God. He will persecute Israel from that point on as well as the tribulation saints. He will receive worship as God. The Jewish False Prophet will perform miracles that will sway many to worship the Antichrist. The False Prophet will institute a program where people are to receive a brand on their right hand or forehead containing the name of the Antichrist or the numerical value of his name in Greek or Hebrew. Said numeric value will be 666. This will be a test of loyalty similar to 1st century Emperor worship. An economic boycott is put in place that prevents those without the brand from buying or selling thus leaving them with the choice of death by starvation or death by persecution.

C. The application today

     As the 1st century saints, many of the world's Christians today suffer for their faith. The same message of perseverance under persecution must be a great encouragement to them also. For believers in the USA it should call us to a deeper level of commitment that we should rely on God's power to persevere in the face of threats that are generally much less that starvation and persecution.

     Since these events are yet future and pertain to the Great Tribulation, we should avoid any fads identifying a present individual as the Antichrist. The Antichrist has not yet been revealed. Therefore, our attempts are doomed to failure.


Appendix A: An Outline of the Book of Revelation


Appendix B: Some Suggested Solutions That Have Been Offered For 666
NameLanguage TransliterationNumber Comment
AntemosGreekANTEMOS 666Victorinus
ApostateGreekApostates 666Barnes
ArmilusHebrew?? ?Talmud, Targums, Midrashim, etc. per Price
ArnoumeGreekARNOUME 666Barclay suggests means, "I deny", i.e., Christ.
BalaamHebrewbl'm 142Brunson said 666 in error
Caesar Nero & NeroHebrew & Greek nron qsr or

NERON

666Nero redivivus
Diocles Augustus (Dioclesian)Roman numerals DCLXVI666Barnes
EuanthasGreekEUANTHAS 666Irenaeus
Fallen ManN/AN/A 666Mystical
GenserikosGreekGENSERIKOS 666Victorinus
Henry KissingerEnglish Henry Kissinger666Not Gematria!
HitlerEnglishHitler 666Barclay. Doesn't use Gematria.
Italian ChurchGreek italika ekklesia666 Barnes
Jacque Jean Lucien D'lorsHebrew ykqs yn lukyn dlors666 President of the EEC
John KnoxN/AN/A 666Mystical Catholic
Judged WorldN/AN/A 666Mystical
Juliannus Caesar Atheus (the Apostate) Roman numeralsDCLXVI666 Barnes
LampetisGreekLAMPETIS 666Barnes
Lateinos (Latin)Greek LATEINOS666Irenaeus
L'Empereur NapoleonFrench L'Empereur Napoleon666 Tolstoy
LutherHebrewlulthr 666Note the extra lamed thrown in to make it come out right!
Otto von HapsburgHebrew otto von hapshbrg666 EEC politician and descendant of last Holy Roman Emperor
Pierre PlantardHebrew py'r pl'nt'rd666 French occultist interviewed in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a work with little or no redeeming value.
PopeN/AN/A N/AMystical Protestant
Prince Charles of WalesGreek karllez archi-alee666 Tony Evans. Note the tortured spelling!
RomanHebrewromyyth 666Barnes
RomanusHebrewrm'nush 666Barnes
Ronald Wilson ReaganEnglish Ronald Wilson Reagan646 Least reliable text, not Gematria
Satanic "trinity"N/A N/A666Mystical
The Latin KingdomGreek he latine basileia666 Barnes
Titan or TitusGreek TEITAN666Irenaeus
TurksN/AN/A N/AMystical
William Jeferson ClintonHebrew vll'm yphrsn klntn 666Not a European.

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Walvoord, John F. "Revelation." The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty -- New Testament Edition. Ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. N.p.: SP Publications, 1983.

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Wong, Daniel K. K. "The Two Witnesses in Revelation 11." Bibliotheca Sacra 154.615 (1997): 353-4.


Footnotes

1 Rev. 1.1; 4; 9; 22.8 (New American Standard Bible, hereafter cited as NASB).

2 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), 1893.

3 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.30.1-4 in Fathers, Ante-Nicene, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, 10 vols., The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 1:1121-2.

4 Hippolytus, The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus in Fathers, Ante-Nicene, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, 10 vols., The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 5:438.

5 Eusebius Pamphilus, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Christian Frederick Cruse (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974), 3.18.

6 Ryrie, Study Bible, 1893.

7 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 vols. (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933), 6:274.

8 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.30.3.

9 Robertson, Word Pictures, 6:275.

10 Rev. 1.9 (NASB).

11 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.30.1.

12 Edward Hinson, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, gen. ed. Mal Couch (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), s.v. "Apocalypse."

13 Ibid.

14 William Varner, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, s.v. "Apocalyptic Literature."

15 Ibid.

16 Ryrie, Study Bible, 1893.

17 Rev. 1.19 (NASB).

18 See Apendix A, An Outline of the Book of Revelation.

19 John A. McLean, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, s.v. "Revelation, Structure of the Book of."

20 E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible: Explained and Illustrated (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968), 235-6.

21 Rev. 12.9 (NASB).

22 Rev. 12.5 (NASB).

23 Rev. 12.15 (NASB).

24 Thomas D. Ice, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, gen. ed. Mal Couch (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), s.v. "Revelation, Interpretive Views of."

25 Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata 1.21, in Fathers, Ante-Nicene, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, 10 vols., The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997).

26 Paul Lee Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy (Dallas: Bible Communications, Inc., 1974), 231-2.

27 Thomas D. Ice, op. cit.

28 Ibid.

29 Walter Bauer, William Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957), s.v. charagma.

30 Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973), s.v. charagma.

31 J.H. Moulton and G. Milligan, Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997), s.v. charagma.

32 R. P. Martin, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 4 vols., ed. Collin Brown (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), vol. 2, s.v. "mark."

33 Ulrich Wilckens, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 10 vols. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), 9:416-7, s.v. charagma.

34 Babylonian Talmud Mas. Gittin 86a, Judaic Classics Library, ver. 2b1 [CD-ROM] (Brooklyn: Davka Corp. & Judaica Press, Inc., 1991).

35 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 799.

36 James Moffatt, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, in The Expositor's Greek Testament, 5 vols., ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 5:433.

37 William Barclay, The Revelation of John, The Daily Study Bible Series, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: The Westminster, 1976), 2:99-100.

38 Thayer, s.v. therion.

39 Rev. 13.18 (NASB).

40 Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, s.v. arithmos.

41 E. Kauder, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1, s.v. "Antichrist."

42 Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, s.v. psephizo.

43 Midrash Numbers Rabbah 18.21, Judaic Classics Library, ver. 2b1, The Soncino Midrash Rabbah [CD-ROM] (Brooklyn: Davka Corp. & Judaica Press, Inc., 1991).

44 Talmud Nazir 5a.

45 Talmud Sanhedrin 22b.

46 Talmud Megilah 15b.

47 Talmud Sanhedrin 22a.

48 Bible Codes: Powerful research tool for students and scholars, [The manual for the Bible Codes software] (Tel Aviv: Computronic Corporation, 1997), 19-21.

49 Adolf Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East: The New Testament Illustrated by Recently Discovered Texts of the Graeco-Roman World, trans. Lionel R. M. Strachan (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1927), 276-8.

50 Albert Barnes, Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, ed. Ingram Cobbin (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1982), 1672.

51 William E. Biederwolf, The Second Coming Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 641-2.

52 F. F. Bruce, "Revelation," A New Testament Commentary, gen. ed. G. C. D. Howley, ed. F. F. Bruce and H. L. Ellison (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1974), 653.

53 Ibid.

54 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammer Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 254.

55 Rev. 13.18 (NASB).

56 Moffatt, 5:434.

57 Tan, 157-61.

58 Tan, 209.

59 Tan, 141.

60 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 23-4.

61 Daniel K. K. Wong, "The Two Witnesses in Revelation 11," Bibliotheca Sacra 154, no. 615 (1997): 353-4.

62 Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation: New Edition, Everyman's Bible Comentary (Chicago: Moody, 1996), 100.

63 Rev. 11.7 (NASB).

64 Rev. 17.8 (NASB).

65 Rev. 13.2 (NASB).

66 Rev. 13.1 (NASB).

67 Keener, 797.

68 Rev. 17.9 (NASB).

69 Rev. 17.18 (NASB).

70 Rev. 17.12 (NASB).

71 Ryrie, Revelation, 95-6.

72 John F. Walvoord, "Revelation," The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty -- New Testament Edition, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (n.p.: SP Publications, 1983), 960.

73 Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, s.v. machaira, see also the debate over the Principle of Equivalence in Tan, 220-1, vs. Mickelsen, Interpreting the Bible, 297.

74 Keener, ibid.

75 Moffatt, 5:429.

76 Thayer, s.v. pas.

77 Keener, 797-8.

78 Rev. 13.11 (NASB).

79 Robertson, Word Pictures, 6:402.

80 Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich, s.v. ge.

81 Thayer, s.v. ge.

82 Rev. 13.13 (NASB).

83 Rev. 13.15 (NASB).

84 Rev. 13.16, 17 (NASB).

85 Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970), 113.

86 Keener, 798.

87 J. Randall Price, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, s.v. "Antichrist," 45.

88 Ryrie, Revelation, 99.

89 Dan. 9.26 (NASB).

90 2 Thess. 2.3 (NASB).

91 2 Thess. 2.4 (NASB).

92 2 Thess. 2.9, 10 (NASB).

93 John Bunyan, Of Antichrist, The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 16.

94 Augustine, The City of God 18.52 in Fathers Nicene & Post-Nicene, 2 series, 12 vols., The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), s. 1, 2:835-6.

95 John Foxe, Book of Martyrs, The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 71.

96 Op. cit., 185.

97 Op. cit., 233-4.

98 Martin Luther, Table Talk no. 429, The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 207.

99 Op. cit., no. 463, 220.

100 John Calvin, Institues of the Christian Religion, 4.2.12, The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 1196.

101 James Arminius, Works Of James Arminius, 3 vol. , The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 2:102.

102 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan in Library of the Future, 3rd ed. [CDROM] (Garden Grove: World Library, 1994), Scr. 711: 919.

103 Tan, op. cit., 165. See Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation: A Textbook of Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970), 235 for the opposite view.

104 Henry H. Halley, Halley's Bible Handbook: An Abbreviated Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), 725.

105 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Practical And Explanatory On The Whole Bible, 1 vol. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), 1567.

106 Lest anyone think this criticism to be too harsh, I refer the reader to Tan, op. cit., 42-3 and point out that both the Qabbalistic methods of Gematria equivalents and Notarikon are employed by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown in the this passage.

107 Wilbur M. Smith, "Revelation," The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, ed. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), 1513.

108 Walvoord, op. cit., 963.

109 Price, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, s.v. "Antichrist, Jewish Views Of", 49.

110 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.30.1-4.

111 Lactantius, Divine Institutes in Fathers, Ante- Nicene, edd. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, 10 vols., The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 7: 442.

112 Victorinus, On the Creation of the World in Fathers, Ante-Nicene, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, 10 vols., The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 7:728-9.

113 Barnes, op. cit., 1673.

114 William Barclay, The Revelation of John, The Daily Study Bible Series, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: The Westminster, 1976), 2:100-102.

115 Keener, op. cit., 796-7.

116 Op. cit., 799.

117 Bruce, op. cit., 653.

118 Lactantius, Of the Manner In Which the Persecutors Died in Fathers, Ante-Nicene, edd. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, 10 vols., The Master Christian Library, v. 5.0 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1997), 7:630

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