Summary of passage: Beast #2 comes out of the earth. He has 2 horns but spoke like a dragon. He was under the authority of the first beast (Rev 13:1-10) and made earth’s inhabitants worship Beast #1. He performed miraculous signs and created a false idol in the shape of Beast #1 that earth’s inhabitants worshipped. This idol was given the power to breath and speak and killed those who refused to worship the image. Everyone was forced to receive a mark (the number 666) either on his forehead or right hand.
9) “He exercised all the authority of the first beast and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast…he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men…he was given power to breath to the image of the first beast so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed…he forced everyone…to receive a mark on his right hand or his forehead.”
10a) To deceive the elect (believers) and turn away from Christ to Satan.
b) Moses (Exodus 7:1-5): To save the Israelites and bring judgment upon Egypt and show them He is the Lord.
Elijah (1 Kings 18:30-39): So that God’s people will know He is Lord.
Jesus (John 11:41-44; 20:30-31; Acts 2:19-21): So the people will believe God sent Jesus, that he is the Son of God, which will give them eternal life. In Acts, so the people will know when the Lord shall come again.
11a) The number 666 will be marked either on their forehead or right hand. This enabled them to buy and sell (trade and live).
b) The Holy Spirit and eternal life.
c) Personal Question. My answer: I’m a natural skeptic, but having God’s skepticism has proven invaluable. I’ve learned to match up what the world says with what God says in His word and through prayer. If it doesn’t match, it’s false. I immediately dismiss it then. Knowing nothing is free (from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) has protected me from many a scam and knowing God’s word has protected me from many a falsehood.
Conclusions: Never knew where the number 666 came from and I can’t wait to read the commentary on this one! Good lesson. Love the contrast with Satan’s purpose and God’s purpose. God’s purpose is to save. Satan’s is to deceive and kill. With such evidence it’s a wonder to me how people don’t believe.
End Notes: The word for beast is the same as the beast in the first part of Chapter 13 but John makes it abundantly clear this one is under the first one. This beast only has 2 horns. Scholars are unsure what this means. It may mean this beast only has authority in 2 realms instead of all the realms. To me, it’s less than the first beast and is another indicator he is subordinate.
Even though this second beast appears like a lamb it speaks like a dragon who is the devil. It has the same evil purposes in mind.
This second beast is called the false prophet (Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10) and is different from the first beast (the Antichrist) and the dragon (Satan). This is the unholy trinity (which we are asked about in the next lesson). The dragon is the anti-Father, the beast rising from the sea is the anti-Christ, and the beast rising from the land is the anti-Holy Spirit.
This beast is a lackey of the first beast. His job is to lead people to worship the first beast. Some of us (especially those of us who have been believers for a while) say how can this be so? Are people that stupid? The answer: yes. Man’s nature is to rebel against God and worship himself. If someone comes along and says great things about how man will be greater under that person, then man will easily be persuaded.
The beast could perform many miracles but John highlights one in particular: fire coming from heaven. Why? Remember the 2 witnesses of God in Chapter 11? They are given the power of fire coming from their mouths to destroy those who oppose them in verse 5. BSF touched upon another example by having us read Elijah’s calling of fire from heaven. What’s the difference? One is by God and one is from Satan. How are we to know the difference? By knowing God and His word and God’s purpose and Satan’s purpose. That’s the only way to identify the deception.
We’ve seen false miracles and warnings all throughout the Bible. Aaron performed miracles and was matched by the Pharaoh’s magicians in Exodus 7-9.
In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 God says there will be false prophets announcing miraculous signs and He warns His people it is a test and they must judge a worker of miracles by their message (which is usually against God), not by their works.
Jesus warns some who worked miracles – even in His name – were false followers and would perish in hell (Matthew 7:22-23).
Jesus warns in the end times false prophets would emerge and show great signs and wonders to deceive (Matthew 24:24).
Paul warns the Antichrist will come with all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
These miracles the beast will use to persuade the earth’s inhabitants to worship the first beast. Emperor worship was rampant in the first century Roman Empire. John’s audience would have seen first-hand Satan at work.
Many scholar believe this idolatrous image is what Jesus, Daniel, and Paul spoke of as the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), which is an idolatrous image set up in the holy place of a rebuilt temple. Abominable idolatry. Desolate judgment.
Those who did not worship the graven image would be killed. This was just beginning to happen in the first century with the persecution of the Christians who would not bow down to Caesar. We are also reminded here of Daniel 3 when he refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar and was thrown in the lions’ den.
The number 666: Some believe the mark of 666 is not literal. The Greek word used here for mark (charisma) is generally not applied to people. The charisma was a seal stamped with the name and date of the emperor and attached to commercial documents. Apparently, it also stood for the emperor’s head stamped on coins. Thus, the charagma represented the likeness or name of the emperor.
It is also a type of brand. In Roman times, disobedient slaves were often branded with marks of ownership, much like cattle are today. Religious tattooing was also widespread. Soldiers had a custom of branding themselves with the name of a favorite general. Devotees of a god labeled themselves with tattoos to designate their loyal devotion.
So was this mark visible? Debatable but more likely it is a symbol. In Ezekiel 9:4, we see people marked for protection and in Exodus 12:21-23, the doorways are marked as a sign for the angel to pass over. We saw Christians marked with a seal in Revelation 7 for protection; here, those of the earth will be marked as well. Satan is protecting his people here as well. It is probably behavior that will be the mark: worshiping God or the beast.
Side Note: We have seen the Nazis mark concentration camp victims with numbers so literal is in the realm of possibilities.
The number of his name refers to the common ancient Greek practice of assigning numerical values to letters. Since letters had numerical value, is the number 666 trying to tell us a specific person? Maybe. Nero is a popular choice here. The problem is the system is so complicated, confusing, and endless as to mute the point. Scholars have for centuries tried to figure this out. No one knows.
I believe the simplest is the best: We’ve seen the number 7 mean completion or perfection. Here the number 6 is short of the number 7. Hence, it is incomplete or imperfect. We see the beast as the false prophet but coming up short of Jesus’ perfection. The triple 666 is used for emphasis just like we saw “holy, holy, holy” three times in Revelation 4.
John says to have wisdom to see through the deception of the unholy, false prophet who will be human under demonic control.