The Two Beasts
1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads.
2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.
3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder.
4 Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months;
6 it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation,
8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.
9 If any one has an ear, let him hear:
10 If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if any one slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
The Second Beast
11 Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.
12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.
13 It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men;
14 and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived;
15 and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.
Commentary on Apocalypse 13:1-4
Apocalypse 12 began with a symbolic account of Satan’s attack against Christ (Ap 12:1-5). Having failed that, Satan pursued the Church (Ap 12:6-16). Having failed that, he pursues the individual members of the Church (Ap 12:17). Apocalypse 12, however, stops abruptly without any resolution to the conflict. Will the Dragon succeed in devouring the Christians or will they survive? In Apocalypse 13, the story is continued. It will do so by recapping what transpired in Apocalypse 12 and then add, in stark detail, the attack of the Dragon on the individuals within the Church. In short, Apocalypse 13 gives the details of Ap 12:17. Similar to Apocalypse 12, however, Apocalypse 13 will have no resolution, but will instead lead into Apocalypse 14, which will end the Fifth Drama with Judgment Day, and an end to the action which was set in motion in Ap 12:1.
The Appearance of the Beasts and the Dragon
John sees the Dragon standing on a beach but looking out toward the sea. John then sees a Beast with ten horns and seven heads (with blasphemous names on its heads) coming out of the sea. Later, in Ap 13:11, “another Beast” appears, this one coming out of the earth. In effect, the Dragon on the beach is situated directly between the two Beasts – one Beast coming out from the sea and the other coming out from the earth. This positioning symbolizes Satan’s effort to encompass every part of the world. There will be no place one can go to escape his influence. Scripture often uses “the earth and the sea” to connote this idea (Ps 64:6; Is 42:10; Ac 14:14).
The Beast that comes out of the sea has ten horns and seven heads. We already know from Ap 12:3 that the Dragon has ten horns and sevens heads, so there is an obvious relationship between the two. While the Dragon and the Beast share the same number of horns and heads, they have some significant differences. The Dragon has seven diadems on his heads, whereas the Beast’s diadems are on his ten horns. Also, the Beast has blasphemous names on his heads, whereas the Dragon does not. As such, the Beast has exchanged the seven diadems on the Dragon’s heads for blasphemous names on the Beast’s heads. Here is the outline:
These numbers are symbolic. Seven is the most common number in Scripture and usually connotes perfection, mostly in reference to God’s perfection. In this case, however, it is Satan who is appropriating the number 7 because he wishes to deceive the world into believing that he is God. To those in the Church, everything that God is, Satan will mimic. Satan will “transform himself into an angel of light,” as will his apostles (2Co 11:14-15). Eventually, when Satan is loosed, he will possess the Man of Sin to “sit in the temple of God making himself to be God” (2Th 2:3-4). To those in the world, Satan will present himself as an alternative to the Christian God.
Upon each of the Dragon’s seven heads there is a diadem. These diadems are on the heads because the Dragon’s authority and intelligence is being emphasized. It is from the head that decisions are made, and by these mental machinations the Dragon asserts his power over the world. Indeed, Satan’s rule is seen in the fact that he was the leader of the “third of the stars” (the angels) that he caused to fall from heaven (Ap 12:3). The Beast is the agent of the Dragon, as John says in Ap 13:2: “dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.” Being an underling, the Beast does not have diadems on his heads. Instead, the Beast’s diadems are on his horns, which symbolize the method of his attack (for horns are what an animal uses to attack an opponent). In addition, the Beast has “blasphemous names” on each of his heads. These blasphemies are directed against God, and we will see their significance when they are mentioned again in Ap 13:5-6.
Strangely, in the very next verse (Ap 13:2), this same Beast is now described as possessing a very different set of features. It seems as though the Beast changed shape and form in front of John. The Beast now appears as a leopard, with the feet of a bear, and a mouth like a lion (which is bigger than a leopard’s mouth). The leopard is mentioned because of its sleek body that enables it to run fast and pounce on prey in an instant. The bear’s feet are mentioned because, unlike leopard’s feet, its huge claws are made for tearing the flesh off its victims and then crushing them in a suffocating grip. The lion’s mouth is mentioned because it is one of the loudest and most resonating voices of the jungle, and the roar almost always signals that an aggressive action is about to take place.
The Deadly Wound That Was Healed
As noted in Apocalypse 12 and 20, the slaying of the Dragon sounded a clear note of defeat for Satan. At the Cross, it was as if Satan was mortally wounded (Hb 2:14; Jn 12:31). Michael the Archangel consigned the wounded Satan to the bottomless pit where he would be contained for a “thousand years” (Ap 12:7-10; 20:1-3), but at the end he would be loosed to have his final and most productive assault on the world. Considering these truths, one question that surfaces, is: if Satan was defeated at the Cross and he is presently locked in the bottomless pit, why does the world continue to experience so much evil? Did not the Cross accomplish its objective and should we not see substantial results? One of the answers to that question is supplied in Ap 13:3: “One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed.” We see initially that one of the heads of the Beast had a “mortal wound.” But with the rise of the Beast, to whom the Dragon has “given his power” (Ap 13:2), it now appears as if the “mortal wound” has been “healed.” The Dragon, having lost to the Child and to the Woman, is, indeed, cast out of heaven and bound in the pit, but the Beast has assumed his power. This is why the New Testament can, on the one hand, speak of Satan’s demise at the Cross (Hb 2:14; Jn 12:31; 16:11; Cl 2:15) and, on the other hand, speak of Satan’s continued activity (Ep 4:27; 1Pt 5:8; 2Co 11:14). The Dragon symbolizes Satan’s past power; the Beast symbolizes his present power.
The Extent of the Beast’s Power
In Ap 13:3-4 we see that the whole world follows after the Beast and they worship the Dragon through him. Implicitly the people of the earth follow Satan, whether they realize it or not (even if they don’t think Satan exists). St. Paul tells us that Satan is the “god of this world” (2Co 4:4; 2Tm 2:26). Jesus tells us that people are under the power of Satan (Jn 8:44), and John tells us that they are children of the devil (1Jn 3:10). There is no area of life in which the Beast’s influence is not manifest. As John says, “and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder.” The Beast controls the money, the power, the education, the science, the culture, and even most of the religions of the world. So complete is the Beast’s power that the people who follow him say: “Who is like the Beast and who can fight against it?” (Ap 13:4). When we think of all the power garnered by the godless men in our world we can see why people would ask such a question.
Since we cannot escape this world (except by death), we are forced to deal with the Beast to varying degrees. In turn, the Beast seeks to put pressure on all the earth’s inhabitants to conform to his godless ways, else he will cause them to suffer want and persecution. The Beast will try to conform us to its way of thinking, taunting us by making it appear that either there is no God or that he is far away and doesn’t care about us. Those who possess the will and power to resist the Beast are few. The pressure will be too great. But the true Christians will resist. In every area that the Beast tries to dominate their lives with his relentless pressures of conformity, they will foil him and propagate the Christian message. As we saw in Apocalypse 11, the Christian Gospel, as represented by the Two Witnesses, is very powerful. Symbolically speaking, it can “turn water into blood and smite the earth with plagues.” Whatever it binds will be bound, whatever it looses will be loosed (Mt 16:18-19). It has the power of life and death (2Co 2:16).
Except, perhaps, for a remote monastery or private institution somewhat removed from the world, each sector of life on earth has the Beast’s signature all over it. Many Christian institutions, although they start out separate from the Beast, often fall into his clutches because of financial pressures, social conformity, governmental regulations, etc., which can all take their toll, especially in light of the fact that the Beast has marked Christians as his primary target. Those who object to his pressures to conform are ostracized or ridiculed and are considered intolerant and bigoted.
But the Church possesses two areas of absolute control. They are faith and morals. These the Beast cannot touch, that is, if the “Woman given the wings of an eagle” continually flies away from the “flood” of the Dragon (Ap 12:13-17). Yet it is in precisely these areas of faith and morals that the Beast will make his greatest attack. Tempting Christians to give up (lose the faith) and succumb to sin (immorality) is the Beast’s greatest victory, and everything the Beast does is designed for that one goal. It is not control of the world, per se, that is the Beast’s primary goal. The world is only a tool to be used to pressure God’s people to fall from the faith and commit immorality, for it is souls that the Dragon wants. Only the eternal damnation of a lost soul will give him a significant battle victory, even though he knows he will lose the war.
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; 6 it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. 9 If any one has an ear, let him hear: 10 If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if any one slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
The Beast and His Blasphemies
As noted previously, the section from Ap 13:1 to Ap 14:20 gives the details of the events that ended with Ap 12:17. John is telling us, in symbolic language, what we can expect in the age of the Church until the return of Christ.
In Ap 13:2-7, John puts great stress on the fact that the Beast “was given” his power; and he wants to make it abundantly clear who gave the Beast his power. The Beast’s power is not his own. It comes from the Dragon. We see this stated three times in the text. Ap 13:2 says “And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority”; Ap 13:4 says: “the dragon…had given his authority to the beast”; and Ap 13:7 says “And authority was given it.” As noted, the reason for this transfer of power is that the Dragon was cast out of heaven and is now chained in the bottomless pit. By transferring power, the Beast is expected to continue where the Dragon left off. It is only when the “one thousand years” are over that the Dragon will be let loose to resume his former prerogatives. All of this is symbolic language to convey the idea that Satan’s power has been limited due to Christ’s death on the Cross.
Among the things “given” to the Beast is “given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words.” The Greek verb in the phrase “mouth uttering” denotes the idea that the blasphemies are continuous – they never stop for the entire 42 months, which refers to the whole period from the First to the Second Coming of Christ, the Church age. The previous mention of 42 months (Ap 11:2) signified the same time period, but it was described as: “the nations will tread underfoot the holy city.” The attack comes from the “nations” and “the Beast.” As Ap 13:3 states that “and the whole earth followed the Beast with wonder,” thus the whole earth refers to the “nations” of Ap 11:2. Hence, in both references to 42 months, the attack is against the Church, which is represented by the “holy city.” All over the world the “Beast” and the “nations” will fight and persecute the Church, speaking “haughty things” and uttering “blasphemous word” for the entire time until Christ’s return. The “holy city” is not Jerusalem in Israel. John’s language is symbolic. The Church is now the “holy city” and it is spread among all the regions of the world. It is the New Jerusalem of God, just as it is the new Israel of God (Gl 6:16).
The “blasphemous words” uttered by the Beast are those found upon his own seven heads. As a general rule, the “head” signifies authority or intelligence. By using the number 7, John is indicating that the Beast’s blasphemies will be uttered in every area of life over which he has control or authority. Ap 13:3 indicates that the Beast dazzles “all the earth.” Ap 13:7 states the Beast was given “authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” Obviously, he has been given power and authority to influence the whole world, with no exceptions. All of the major thoroughfares of the world: politics, government, finance, culture, religion, education, language, science, art, music, entertainment, human relations, employment, etc., will echo the “haughty things” and “blasphemies” of the Beast. These utterances are sometimes disseminated in very powerful yet subtle ways. They give rationalistic and materialistic explanations to all of life in order to convince the world that either there is no God or that he is not needed. As John notes in Ap 13:8: “and all who dwell on earth will worship” the Beast, since the people of the world, deceived as they are by these egotistical seductions, love to hear “blasphemous words” that make them independent of God and the Church. They have been trained since childhood to conform to the utterances of the Beast, and few wish to leave the psychological comfort he provides. As John writes in other places, there is a total antithesis between the Church and the world:
1Jn 2:15-16: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.
1Jn 4:5-6: They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
1Jn 5:19-21: We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Jn 15:18-19: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Jn 17:14-18: I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. 18 As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
Ap 13:6 tells us that the Beast first utters his blasphemies against God and “those who dwell in heaven.” By blaspheming heaven, the Beast is trying to convince the world that there is no afterlife, that there is no heaven or hell; that this present life is all there is. Modern philosophies permeate our world with such thoughts but this is nothing new. One of the chief heresies infecting the early Church was the notion that there was no resurrection of the body (1Co 15:1-56), yet the resurrection, of both Christ and Christians, is the central doctrine of the New Testament. If the Beast can dissuade the world from believing in life after death, then he has deceived them into thinking there will be no judgment for their sins, and thus they will have no motivation to repent and turn to God. Moreover, if the Beast can persuade those on earth from praying to those in heaven (by “blaspheming those who dwell in heaven”) then the Beast will have succeeded in stripping the human population of heavenly protection. Without the protection of the saints in heaven, the people of earth become extremely vulnerable to the wiles of the Beast. With this powerful influence over all the world, it comes as no surprise to learn that those who are deceived by the Beast’s blasphemies ask the rhetorical question: “Who is like the Beast, and who can fight against him?”
The Beast Makes War with the Saints
In Ap 13:7, we read that the Beast “makes war with the saints.” These “saints” are the Christians living on earth (not to be confused with the saints in heaven who the Beast blasphemes). These are the same Christians to whom John referred in Ap 12:17 as the Dragon that “went to make war with the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” While Jesus was alive, the Dragon was waging a war against them (Ap 12:5-6). But by the power of the Cross, they defeated the Dragon; the gates of hell did not prevail, and Michael the archangel chained the Dragon in the bottomless pit. The defeat of the Dragon gave back to mankind the spiritual blessings that were taken away when Adam and Eve sinned. By the power of the Cross, access to heaven is made available once again, symbolized by the Dragon being “cast out” of heaven. But the Beast, knowing that he no longer has power to shut the gates of heaven, will do everything in his power to persuade the world not to enter through those gates. To this end, he will attempt to control them and convince them with his “haughty things” and “blasphemous words” against heaven.
While the Beast seeks to stop all of mankind from reaching heaven, he focuses his attack on the “saints” of the “holy city,” for it is they who carry the Gospel that will turn the world away from the Beast and toward heaven. Hence, the Beast will: (a) try to deceive them away from Christ with his “haughty things” and “blasphemous words,” and (b) tempt them to renounce their faith by physical and mental persecution. As history tells us, the Beast began this attack in the early centuries of the Church, persecuting Christians with physical suffering and death. As we noted in Ap 12:16, the Woman has the “earth” to help her against the “flood” of the Dragon. In one sense, this was literally fulfilled as the persecuted Christians found sanctuary in the underground catacombs of the earth. In the figurative sense, the “earth” also helped the Woman in the early fourth century as Christianity became a legal religion under protection of the state. In brief, the Church is helped by the “earth” in many ways. She can depend on her heavenly-guided wisdom to use the “earth” to her advantage in order to protect herself from the Beast. As Jesus said in Lk 16:9: “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.”
Although the Beast will not always prevent the world’s people from achieving heaven, it will have great success. Ap 13:8 tells us that “and all who dwell on earth will worship it” (cf. Ap 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:14; 17:8). Thus, it will not be difficult for the Beast to deceive them by his “haughty things” and “blasphemous words.” The word “worship” is a future tense verb, which, in this context, shows that the “worship” will continue to the end. The world has only two choices of whom it will worship: God or the devil. There is no neutral place. Those who don’t worship Satan explicitly, still do so implicitly, that is, if they have not directed their worship to God. By themselves, the people of the world will have little power to resist the influence of the Beast. They will be completely overwhelmed by the Beast’s propaganda, which is felt in every area of life. Whether it’s television, newspapers, education, art, music, drugs, or whatever, there is no escape. The world is saturated with the “blasphemies” of the Beast. The only refuge is the Church, the Woman in the wilderness, but she is very small compared to the rest of the world.
God is in Control of the Dragon and the Beast
Ap 13:8 tells us that the names of all those who will worship the Beast “whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. What a marvel that truly is. Anyone who has doubts, John says: “Anyone who has an ear, let him hear!” (Ap 13:9). Through this unique connection between the past, present and future, John is reminding us of the sure and unshakable power-base from which the Church and her people can resist the Beast. Our power comes from the blood of the Lamb, as John specified in Apocalypse 4-5. We do not rely on self-generated will power, but upon a power that stems from before the world was even made, a power that nothing can shake. What joy this should give to the Christian. If he follows the directions that God gives him, nothing in this world can defeat him. Life can be very simple from that perspective.
We need to know one more very important fact: while the Christian relies on the sure and unshakable blood of the Lamb, the Beast also relies on God for its power. Although we say that the Dragon gives power to the Beast, ultimately it is God who gives the Dragon his power. While the drama of human history unfolds, God, and only God, remains in total control. The Dragon and the Beast receive their power from God but their doom is certain. God is simply using them as pawns to test the faith of the Woman’s offspring.
Scripture gives us a bird’s eye view of this truth in the book of Job. As God is shown to be the one who instigated the scene and subsequently gave authority to the devil to persecute Job, so God has been doing the same throughout human history. But in the Apocalypse, it is the Church who has taken the place of Job (cf. Jb 1:1-22). This is why the Apocalypse begins in chapters 1-3 with Christ testing the will and obedience of the seven churches of Asia Minor. Which church, and which individuals from those churches, will be faithful, and which will fall to the wiles of the Beast? THAT is the haunting question in the whole of the Apocalypse.
God is not only omnipotent; he is also omniscient. In his foreknowledge, he knows how the “saints” will react to the “blasphemies” of the Beast (blasphemies which God allows to be uttered). God never violates our free will, yet he knows what we will decide as we use our free will. Although God has everything planned out to the minutest detail, from the beginning to the end, still, man makes his own decisions, uncoerced by God in any manner. That God can make his determined plans yet still give man a free will, and at the same time utilize every ounce of good and evil man produces in the process is, indeed, a great mystery. In Ap 13:10 John alludes to this mystery saying, “If anyone is taken captive, it is to captivity he goes.” In other words, God will not force anyone to accept the truth. If an individual, by his own free will, wants to reject God and be taken captive by the Beast, God will allow it. God knows everything that will occur (cf. Mt 25:34; Jn 6:65; 10:28; 15:16; 17:12; 18:9; Gl 1:4; 1Th 1;4; 2Th 2:13-14; 2Tm 1:9-10), but he assures us that man decides his own fate (Jn 1:12-13; 5:40; 6:40; Ac 17:26-27; Rm 10:9-13; 2Pt 3:9). God is not the author of man’s sin, although there is an interplay between man’s free will decisions and God’s subsequent actions against man (cf. Ex 9:34-10:1; Lv 26:36; Dt 28:28, 65-67; 1Sm 16:14; 26:12; Pr 21:1; Jb 12:24; Is 6:9-10; 29:10, 14; 44:18; Jr 6:21; Ez 7:26; 14:9; 18:21-32; 33:11; Zc 12:4; Mt 11:25; Jn 12:40; Rm 1:28; 9:18-20; 11:8; 2Th 2:11).
Why is it important for Christians to know this truth? So that we are not deceived by the “blasphemies” of the Beast into thinking that God, if he does exist, would, because he knows all things, necessarily predestine people to go to hell; that they have no part in their destiny. This is the philosophy of Fatalism, but it is as anti-Christian as is the devil himself. Scripture is clear that man goes to hell only if he chooses to go there. John reminds us of that sublime truth in Ap 13:10 as he says: “here is the endurance and faith of the saints.”
Commentary on Apocalypse 13:11-18
11 Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men; 14 and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived; 15 and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.
The Second Beast
As we noted previously, whereas in Ap 12:1-12 the Dragon (Satan) was directly involved in the war, in Apocalypse 13, he uses the Beasts to do his fighting for him. The reason for this shift in figures is that, at the Cross, Satan was chained in the bottomless pit and sealed for a thousand years (See Ap 20:1-3).
The two “Beasts” represent all the anti-Catholic powers in the world. The number “two” is chosen because it mimics the Two Witnesses of Ap 11:3-6 who preach the gospel. In fact, John tells us in Ap 11:8 that it is “the Beast that comes out of the abyss” who overcomes the Two Witnesses. John is telling us, in symbolic language, that Satan’s attack will consist mainly of countering the gospel of Christ with his own gospel, which he brings to the world through his own “Two” witnesses. In order to destroy the Woman and “her offspring,” Satan, through the “Beasts,” attempts to marshal the whole world against her. The Beasts do not represent particular world rulers of a certain age (e.g., Caligula, Ghengis Kahn, Hitler or anyone else). Rather, the Beasts represent all the world’s rulers since the First Coming of Christ until the end of time. The attack brought on by the two Beasts adds details to the “flood” of Ap 12:15-17.
We have seen in Ap 13:1 how the Dragon situated itself on the beach between the two Beasts, the First Beast that rises from the sea and the Second Beast that rises from the earth. The sea and the earth are chosen to represent the whole world. The Dragon, positioned between the two Beasts, means that he is in control of the Beasts (and the whole world), directing their every action. As we have seen, the First Beast rose up out of the sea with a monstrous appearance, ferocious in every respect. The Second Beast is quite different. This Beast rises out of the earth and is pictured as a lamb with two little horns. Needless to say, however, this little lamb is no ordinary lamb. John tells us that he “spoke as a Dragon” (Ap 13:11). This is an enticing Beast, even as a puppy might be to a small child. He comes as a lamb because he wants to appear gentle and kind, but his gospel is directly from the Dragon. As John says in 1Jn 4:3: “This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already.” What the First Beast does boldly and openly, the Second Beast does secretly with a disguise. What the First does by force and pressure, the Second does by appearing innocent and friendly. This Beast is so intent on deceiving the world that it will stoop to mimicking Christ, the true Lamb of God.
The Objective of the Second Beast
The Second Beast is similar to a public relations man, full of pleasantries and salesmanship, while the First Beast is like the backroom boss making decisions from his smoke-filled room. His seven heads and ten horns symbolize that he is the intelligence making all the crucial decision. By contrast, the Second Beast apparently has only one head with two small horns. Yet because he doesn’t appear as a ferocious Beast with multiple heads but looks more like a lamb, he becomes the salesman of the dynamic duo, packaging the work of the First Beast in glittering foil and dazzling ornaments. Ap 13:12 tells us that, like a magician with the power of illusion, this Second Beast “exercises all the authority of the first Beast,” leading the people to “worship the First Beast.” In Ap 13:13, he accomplishes this task by his ability to do “great signs,” even making “fire come down from heaven unto the earth.” He also “deceives those who dwell on the earth,” and makes all “to be marked on their right hand or on their foreheads.” While the First Beast remains behind closed doors, the second Beast goes out and markets the product, making it appear divine and attractive. In reality, however, the product is absolute anti-Christianity. The tactics this pseudo-lamb uses on the world are the same that were used by the serpent on Adam and Eve. The serpent came to Eve speaking “godly” things. He told her that she could become just like God, if she would only eat of the fruit. He made it appear as if he had secret knowledge that God did not reveal to anyone else, and that God was withholding the treasures of life from them because he did not want to share with anyone. These ploys, of course, are all very old, but they are still effective for those predisposed to accept them. The pseudo-lamb will continue to use them for the entire 42 months, for from his perspective, there is, indeed, a sucker born every minute.
The Second Beast will not only rely on his saintly appearance to deceive the world, but he will also perform “great signs” to give the appearance that he is divine. An innocent-looking lamb that performs stupendous feats is extremely appealing and almost irresistible. The pseudo-lamb’s appeal is analogous to a ventriloquist talking through a teddy bear to a small child, telling the child that his mommy and daddy are bad. The teddy bear gives toys and candy to the child, telling him that his mommy and daddy are going to harm him and eventually kill him. This ploy would be very compelling to a child, and so it is with child-like people today who don’t know their Father (cf. 1Co 13:11). As Jesus said in Jn 14:17:
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
How can the child know that the teddy bear is a phony? Because his mommy and daddy have told him that they will never deceive him or harm him, and that if anyone says differently, it is a lie. The child will know mommy and daddy are right because they have built up a relationship of trust. Analogously, the closer we are to God (through prayer, sacraments, good works, Scripture reading, alms-giving, meditation) the easier it is to spot a charlatan. God, through his Spirit, gives us knowledge and wisdom on how to spot them. Only those who don’t know God will be deceived. As Jesus said: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign” (Mt 12:39).
The pseudo-lamb’s miracles are not true miracles. According to Catholic theology, only God can do true miracles. The devil cannot work in the supernatural realm but only in the preternatural. He cannot create anything, since that would require making something out of nothing. He can only use the materials available to him. Yet he has ingenious ways of turning those materials into spectacular effects that will dazzle the public. For example, the devil cannot raise someone from the dead, but he may be able to possess a dead body and animate it so that it appears alive. Scripture is clear that devils can possess a human body and force it to act in ways that it doesn’t normally (Mk 5:1-13).
Such preternatural acts are quite common and Satan has been using them since the beginning of time. In the Garden of Eden he indwelt a fierce-looking serpent and actually made it talk to Eve, portraying himself as her savior and confidant against her Creator. He gave preternatural power to the magicians of Egypt who were able to mimic some of the miracles of Aaron. When Aaron threw down his rod it become a snake, and the magicians mimicked him by throwing down their rods which then became snakes (Ex 7:11-12). Aaron’s act was indeed the creation of a snake out of a rod, but the magicians, using demonic power, acquired a snake that was stiffened by the demon (thus making it look like a rod) but which was loosened when it fell to the ground. Of course, in order to show Pharaoh that only God could perform true miracles, Aaron made his snake eat up all the magicians’ snakes. But Pharaoh, looking for anything to convince himself that Moses and Aaron were bluffing, decided to put his trust in his own magicians. In the same way, the people of the world will put their trust in the pseudo-lamb rather than in God, no matter what evidence is placed before them. In fact, this obstinate principle of human nature was the very context of the Unforgivable Sin. Jesus had performed an undeniable miracle in front of the Pharisees for the purpose of confirming his identity and authority, yet they stubbornly refused to submit to him (Mt 12:22-32). They had no intention of succumbing to him, no matter what proofs he showed them.
In Ap 13:13, John tells us that the pseudo-lamb is able to call fire down from heaven. Again, since the Apocalypse is written in symbolic language, we are not to straddle ourselves with interpreting these incidents literally. Perhaps a pyrotechnic display in the sky is not out of the realm of possibilities as one of the bag of tricks in the lamb’s arsenal of deception, and modern technology certainly offers many more options than were possible in John’s time to do such acts. Whatever the case, it would appear from all we read in Scripture that, toward the end of time, any type of pseudo-miracle will capture the hearts of the gullible public who don’t have the razor of Christian truth to cut through it. Along those lines, modern technology has attained god-like status in the minds of many people. Since man is literally able to make fire come out of heaven (e.g., atom bombs), this will be an additional way the Beast will convince people in all sectors of life that God is simply not a factor to be taken seriously in their lives. Instead, the lamb will convince the world that the real power resides in the Beast who appears to have the power of life and death.
In any case, John chooses the fire imagery because it mimics, symbolically, the Two Witnesses of Ap 11:5 who breath fire from their mouths. The Two Witnesses typify the prophet Elijah of the Old Testament who called fire down from heaven upon the prophets of Baal (1Kg 18:38), but whereas the historical type (Elijah) refers to literal fire, in the symbolic anti-type (the Two Witnesses) the fire-breathing is a symbol of the power of the Gospel. Accordingly, the intention of the lamb is to portray itself as god-like to deceive the world. To do so, he will also call down fire from heaven, but this is not a literal fire. It is his false gospel that will appear just as powerful as the Gospel of the Two Witnesses.
Worshiping the Image of the Beast
In Ap 13:14 John says that the pseudo-lamb will demand “bidding them make an image for the Beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived.” We might compare this to similar instances recorded in the Old Testament. One such example is Israel’s worshiping of the golden calf recorded in Exodus 32. Under Aaron’s leadership, the Israelites took off their jewelry and threw it into the fire; then they pounded out the image of a golden calf. The second is Nebuchadnezzar’s making of an image in Babylon that all the people were made to worship (Dn 3:1-7). John may purposely be trying to stir up these Old Testament scenes in our minds in order to indicate the goal of the Second Beast. After he has deceived the world with pleasantries and pseudo-miracles, his main goal is to have the people give their full allegiance to the First Beast, for he is the one with the seven heads, the brains and muscle behind the Dragon’s false gospel. We could say that each of its heads symbolizes some form of intellectual control over the world. One head could represent worldly philosophy. A second head could represent world politics. A third could represent world finance. A fourth might be atheistic science, etc. This is not to say that these disciplines are evil in themselves or detrimental to man, but only that any discipline that does not incorporate Christian principles at its foundation is essentially anti-Christian or atheistic, and thus will be used against Christianity. Whatever means the first Beast can use to draw people away from the Christian Gospel, he will use. He knows, of course, that the most productive means of swaying them is by intellectual persuasion, the same technique he used against Eve in the Garden of Eden.
In turn, the people of the world “worship” the Beast by sacrificing themselves to its cause. In practical terms, for example, they sacrifice their families to divorce and adultery; their babies to abortion; their bodies to drugs, alcohol and pornography; their homes and property to usury and unjust taxes; their souls to godless art and music; their minds to anti-Christian philosophies and sciences, etc. So successful is the campaign of the Second Beast to bring the people to worship the First Beast that, as John says: “and the whole earth followed the Beast with wonder” and “they worshiped the Beast, saying, ‘Who is like the Beast and able to wage war with him?’” (Ap 13:3-4).
Those Who Do Not Worship the Beast
The only institution that will be waging war against the Beast is the Church, and particularly her faithful members. But the Beast will do his best to silence them, either by persecution or death. As John writes in Ap 13:15: “to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.” In the history of the Christian church, persecution from the world has been the norm. The bloodthirsty emperors of Rome, many of whom deified themselves and required worship from the populace, dominated the first three centuries. After the fall of Rome, the Muslims came into power in the 600s, persecuting and killing Christians for the next 800 years. Afterward, numerous man-made movements sought to replace Christianity as the dominant authority of the world, including the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Communism, Capitalism, Deism, Nihilism, Nazism, Masonry, Militarism, Scientism, and Pan-Religionism. They all played their part in ridiculing and trying to stamp out Christianity wherever and whenever they could. In the last century, there has been more persecution of Christianity than at any time in history, thus, the onslaught of the Beast has not only remained, it has increased, preparing the way for the loosening of Satan for his “little time” (Ap 20:3). This is the reality of life, and John is telling it to us in the starkest of terms. If mankind, perchance, is in a time of peace and there is no persecution in our little corner of the world, this is highly unusual, for such havens do not last very long before they are overtaken by the Beast.
The Image “Speaks”
In Ap 13:15 John tells us that the Second Beast “gives breath” to the image being worshiped. The Second Beast even makes the first “speak.” Obviously, this is no ordinary image. Such bodily animations symbolize that the image of the Beast will be an active, functioning, multiplying and growing entity. The image of the Beast will articulate its ideas and have the power of persuasion. Practically speaking, we can see this power of persuasion in the world today as the “image” propagates its anti-Christian message through books, newspapers, magazines, computers, internet, music, art, architecture, movies, television, billboards, speeches, lectures, pamphlets, stamps, memorials, money, libraries, schools, colleges, universities, institutions, merchandise, etc. Almost all of these mediums are anti-Christian at the core and all “breathe” and “speak” as the “image of the Beast.”
The Mark of the Beast
In Ap 13:16, John says that the Second Beast “causes all…to be marked on the right hand or the forehead.” This “mark” is placed on each person so that no one can escape the lure of the first Beast. The “mark” is the Satanic counterpart to the “seal” that God puts on the foreheads of the saints (Ap 7:4; 9:4; 14:1). Each camp, whether divine and satanic, puts an emblem on its members. To use the military analogy, each institution places its own name, rank and serial number on its members. As St. Paul says in 2Tm 2:19: “But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” St. Peter puts it this way in 1Pt 1:4: “and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” In the same way, St. Paul writes that the devil knows his own. In 2Co 4:3-4 he writes: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.”
John chooses the symbolism of a “mark” on the right hand or forehead since his purpose is to point out the ostensible characteristics of those who are not Christian. A “mark” allows one to recognize immediately the identity of the individual. Here, however, there is an important word of caution. John is not saying that we should be looking for a literal mark on the forehead or right hand of the world’s people. Rather, the “mark” of the Beast is anything someone says, performs, writes, wears or frequents that gives a visible sign of their anti-Christian persuasion. Practically speaking, it requires only a short time in the presence of a non-Christian to access the allegiance of his heart and mind. Listening to the way an individual talks, how he conducts himself, how he spends his leisure time, the people he keeps as friends, what he reads, what he listens to, how he treats people, how he regards the Lord’s day, etc., all indicate whether he has the mark of God or the mark of the Beast. As John says in 1Jn 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” As Christians, we need to be aware of these “marks.” As Jesus said in Mt 7:16-20:
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. 18 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
We notice in Jesus’ remark “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves,” an emphasis on our need to recognize the “mark” of religious deception engineered by the Beast. As John indicated in Ap 13:13-14 that the Second Beast performs “great signs” and “by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth,” so Jesus warns in Mt 7:21-23:
21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’
In brief, we will know their “mark” by observing their fruits. In light of that, living in this world of deception we must, as Jesus says in Mt 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
No Buying or Selling
The Second Beast makes it extremely difficult for anyone to live on the earth without submitting to his world system. He does so by controlling, as much as possible, the necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter etc.), which one normally obtains through an exchange of goods or barter. As John notes, the Beast tries to control the world “so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name” (Ap 13:17). Once he controls the world’s systems, he controls the movement of goods and services, and can literally control life and death. We see this control demonstrated today in the inordinate amount of nations who suffer without sufficient commodities of food, water, medicine, housing, etc. Today, the nations must, more or less, sell their souls to the world system and accept abortion, contraception, homosexuality, divorce and many other hedonistic and godless practices in exchange for food and protection.
Although the Beast’s quest is to put everyone under his restrictions with his “mark,” and although he is quite successful in bringing most of the world’s people under his control, he cannot put everyone under his spell. The Church and her Christians find ways and means of circumventing the devil’s grip. We are “in the world, but not of the world.” Or as John says in 1Jn 4:4-6:
4 Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
As noted in Ap 12:15-16, although the Dragon spewed out a flood to drown the woman, the earth drank up the flood, and the woman escaped. The same is the case with “buying and selling,” which represents the world system. God has directed the world’s economic and governmental systems (symbolically represented by the “earth” in Ap 12:16) such that his people can live and function in them by using those very institutions. Although the Beast is often successful in harming the Woman’s children, he does not have absolute control. Indeed, the Church survives, and will survive until the end. As we will see, this truth is why in the next chapter, Apocalypse 14, John goes on to speak again about sealing the servants of God in their foreheads in this the Fifth Drama.
The Number 666
In Ap 13:18, John begins by saying: “This calls for wisdom.” He then tells the reader to count or add up the number of the Beast. Since in the book of the Apocalypse John has made it very obvious that he is centering the whole work around the number 7 (See Ap 1:4-20; 2:1; 3:1; 4:5; 5:1-6; 6:1; 8:1-6; 10:3-7; 11:13-15; 12:3; 13:1; 15:1-8; 16:1, 17; 17:1-11; 21:9, 20), in addition to the fact that the rest of Scripture uses the number 7 consistently in reference to God, it stands to reason that the Beast would have a symbolic number that applies to himself and his followers. In Scripture, that number is 6, and the specific number of the Beast, for reasons we will see shortly, is 666.
Earlier we cited the image that Nebuchadnezzer built and demanded that his citizens worship (Dn 3:1-6). It is probably not coincidental that his image was precisely 60 cubits high and 6 cubits wide.
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.
Nebuchadnezzer was the king of Babylon. Not coincidentally, a symbolic “Babylon” features prominently in Apocalypse 17-18 as the kingdom of the Beast. It is only fitting, then, that the symbolic Babylon headed by the Beast would have an even higher multiple of 6 as its identification. It is not 66 (60 + 6), but 666 (600 + 60 + 6). We can also say that the Beast chooses three numerals in order to make 666 so as to mimic of the Trinity, 777. As there is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is also the Dragon, the First Beast and the Second Beast.
One fact that needs to be emphasized is that John has made it clear that the number 666 is “the number of the Beast,” and hence, it is not the number of an individual man, since John nowhere states that the Beast is an individual man. Moreover, John has told us that the Beast is a monster resembling a leopard, bear and lion with seven heads and ten horns. In other words, it is symbolic of a worldwide entity, not an individual.
In the history of biblical exegesis, attempts at assigning 666 to an individual man by the use of Hebrew or Greek gematria have always met with much difficulty, since no single candidate had his name add up to 666. Because of his persecutions against the early Church, Nero was once a candidate, but in order to have his name add up to 666, an “n” had to be attached to Nero (i.e., “Neron Caesar”). Caligula was also a candidate, since if his name is rendered Cajus Caesar, it adds up to 616, and this is probably why a variant Greek manuscript contained 616. This was a tempting interpretation, since Caligula erected an image of himself in the temple at Jerusalem, and he reigned from March 37 A.D. to January 41 A.D., which is 3 years and 10 months (or approximately three and a half years, which some exegetes were anxious to equate with the 3½ years of Dn 9:24-27 or the “time, times and half time” of Ap 12:14). Gematria has also been used with reverence to other prominent figures (Kaiser Wilhelm, Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Richard Nixon, etc.). The attempt is to find one man of colossal political and religious power that dominates the world. These attempts are futile, however, not only because dozens of names can be so molded that they will produce 666, but mainly because the exegete has constrained himself to a literal interpretation in a book that is highly symbolic. It is not John’s purpose or intention to burden us with having to guess his meaning from a revolving door of possible identities. John’s message, according to Ap 1:1, is simple. It is an “unveiling,” a “revelation,” not a cryptogram. In Ap 13:18, John tells us that the number 666 is “wisdom,” but gematria obscures wisdom. John neither employs gematria in the Apocalypse, nor is there any place in all of Scripture that does so.
The above excerpt taken from
The Apocalypse of St. John
The Catholic Apologetics Study Bible
Robert A. Sungenis, Ph.D.
© Copyright 2007: Robert A. Sungenis, Sr. and assigns.
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 Some versions attach the sentence: “And he stood on the sand of the seashore” to Ap 12:17, while others attach it to the heading of Ap 13:1. Due to a textual variant, some versions refer to John standing (“and I stood on the sand of the sea”) while other versions refer either to John or the Dragon standing (“and he stood on the sand of the sea”). The versions which read “he stood on the sand of the sea” are supported by P47, and codices a and C, four major minuscules, the Vulgate and Syriac translations. “I stood” is supported by codex P, four minor uncials and at least nine minuscules. The evidence leans in the direction of “he stood” and would refer to the Dragon standing on the sea. Since it is not important where John stood, but is vitally important where the Dragon stood, the correct variant reading is confirmed.
 Dn 7:2-6 mentions the same type of animals, but in reverse order, and each animal represents one nation. Daniel sees the lion first, the bear second, and leopard third. These nations (Babylon, Medio-Persia, Greece) come against Israel. In reversing the order, John indicates to us that his is not the same vision as Daniel’s, especially since in John’s version the leopard, bear and lion are the same Beast, which means that it has the best of Daniel’s Beasts combined into one Beast.
 “mortal wound”: Gr: ejsfagmevnhn eijV qavnaton, literally “having been slain unto death.” The phrase only appears here, except for the single usage of ejsfagmevnhn in Ap 13:8 and 18:24 with the same meaning. The second phrase, “mortal wound,” is the Greek plhgn; touJ qanavtou. “Plege” is also the word for “stroke,” and thus it is a “stroke of death.” “Plege” is also the word used commonly for “plague” in the Apocalypse (Ap 15:1, 6, 8; 16:9, 21; 18:4, 8; 21:9). The phrase plhgn; touJ qanavtou is repeated in Ap 13:12, and a new phrase is added in Ap 13:14, plhghn thV macaivrhV, which is “stroke of the sword.” Also unique in Ap 13:14 is that the Beast is said to “live” rather than have his wound “healed.” Another mention of the Beast in a similar light is Ap 17:8.
 “blasphemous words”: Gr: blasfhmia. It appears over 50 times in noun and verbal forms in the NT. Although the general meaning refers to uttering denigrating words against things divine or holy (e.g., Jn 10:36; Rm 2:24), it also includes the idea of slander and lies concerning the same (cf. Rm 3:8; 2Pt 2:11). It is used frequently in the Apocalypse in reference to blaspheming God (Ap 13:6; 16:9, 11, 21), or the names or utterances of the Beast (Ap 13:1, 5, 6), or the woman with the Beast (Ap 17:3). The phrase “haughty things” is the Greek megavla, literally meaning “great.” The implication is that the Beast is giving the impression of speaking wise and noble statements, yet at the same time slandering God and the Christian Gospel.
 “was slain”: Gr: ejsfagmevnou, a perfect, passive, participle literally translated as “having been slain,” which points to the past with continuing effects in the future. The RSV, NAS, NAB, NJB, NRS follow the syntax: “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain,” whereas the Douay-Rheims, along with the KJV, NIV and NLT are closer to: “And all that dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb which was slain from the beginning of the world.” The Greek word order has “foundation of the world” following immediately after “the Lamb having been slain,” not “has not been written in the book of life” and thus agrees with the Douay-Rheims and Vulgate renderings. The RSV translators appeal to Ap 17:8 for precedence: “And the inhabitants on the earth (whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world) will wonder, seeing the Beast that was and is not.” but this verse is absent the phrase “of the Lamb having been slain.” Also, 1Pt 1:19-20 is just as explicit: “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled, foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but manifested in the last times for you.” See also John 17:24: “Father, I will that where I am, they also whom you have given me may be with me: that they may see my glory which you have given me, because you have loved me before the creation of the world.”
 “great signs”: Gr: shmei:a megavla. Scripture contains a dozen references to “great signs,” most of them refer to God’s great signs (e.g., Dt 4:34; 6:22; 7:19; 26:8; 29:3; Js 24:17; 32:21; Dn 4:3; Ac 6:8; 8:13), while the remaining ones refer to the demonic (e.g., Mt 24:24; Ap 16:14; 2Th 2:9). “Sign” comes from the Greek shmei:on, which appears over 50 times in the NT (e.g., Mt 12:38; Jn 2:11; Ac 2:19; Rm 4:11; 1Co 1:22; Ap 12:1).
 “image”: Gr: eijkona, from which we derive the English word “icon.” It appears 22 times in the NT, referring to a likeness, a picture or statue, or anything resembling or representing another thing (e.g., Mt 22:20; Rm 1:23; 8:29; 1Co 11:7; 15:49; 2Co 4:4; Cl 3:10). Almost half the NT references appear in the Apocalypse (e.g., Ap 13:14, 15; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4), all of which refer to the “image of the Beast.”
 “mark”: Gr: cavragma, appears nine times in the NT, but only once outside of the Apocalypse (Acts 17:29). The references in the Apocalypse include Ap 13:16, 17; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). In does not appear in the LXX, except for one reference in the non-canonical 3Mc 2:29 (“those who are registered are also to be branded on their bodies by fire with the ivy-leaf symbol of Dionysus, and they will also be reduced to their former limited status”). In classical Greek, cavragma was used for stamps on documents, brands on animals, impressions on coins, and sometimes in Greek baptismal terminology. In Koine Greek, it referred more to an image formed by art, as noted in Ac 17:29.
 “buy or sell”: Gr: ajgoravsai h] pwlh:sai. This is the only time the specific phrase “buy or sell” appears in Scripture. References to “buying and selling” appear in Mt 21:12; 25:9; Mk 11:15; Lk 17:28; 19:45; 22:36; Ac 4:34. The only reference to “buying” in the Apocalypse is Ap 18:11. Other references to “buying” are in reference to redeeming (e.g., Ap 5:9; 14:3, 4).
 “666 (six hundred sixty six)”: Gr: ejxakovsioi ejxhvkonta e”x. This number does not appear again in the NT. Three OT references contain the number (1Kg 10:14; 2Ch 9:13; Er 2:13). The number “six” does not appear very often in the Apocalypse, as it is cited only in Ap 4:8; 13:18; 14:20. The fraction “sixth” appears in Ap 6:12; 9:13, 14; 16:12; 21:20.
 “man”: Most translations of Ap 13:18 read: “the number is that of a man and his number is 666.” The actual Greek is: ajriqmo;V ga;r ajnqrwvpou ejstivn. Depending on the meaning of the noun ajnqrwvpou, it can be literally translated as “for it is a number of mankind” or “for it is a human number” or “it is the number of a man.” The Greek word ajnqrwvpoV is the normal word referring to “mankind” in general (e.g., Mk 1:17; 2:10) although in rare instances it is sometimes used for an individual man (Mk 14:71); while ajnhvr is the usual word for an individual man (e.g., Mk 6:20, 44). Prior to the phrase in question, Ap 13:18a says that the number is “the number of the Beast,” from the Greek to;v ajriqmo;n tou: qhrivou. Here an article appears before “Beast” whereas there is no article before ajnqrwvpou. Hence the designation of the Beast is specific, whereas man is generalized. We conclude from this distinction that John is referring to mankind, not an individual man. If John had intended to designate an individual man, the Greek language would insist upon using the nominative case noun, avjnqrwpoV, or a nominative predicate rather than the genitive ajnqrwvpou. The use of the genitive indicates that John intends an adjective to modify the number, that is, the number relates to man or mankind, thus a very human number. John uses the genitive for the same purpose in Ap 21:17 in the phrase: mevtron ajnqrwpou (“the measure of man”), which is then followed by “which is of an angel.” This means that the “measure” is neither of an individual man or individual angel, but one that both men and angels commonly use. John also uses the genitive ajnqrwvpou in both Ap 1:13 and 14:14 in the phrase “son of man,” which really means “son of mankind.” These are the only uses of the genitive ajnqrwvpou in the Apocalypse, and each usage is of “mankind,” not an individual man.
 Papyrus 47, Codices a, A, P, 046, 051, 1, 94, 1006 (and 13 other minuscules) with witnesses Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Origen, Victorinus-Pettau, Gregory-Elvira, Primasius, Andrew, Arethas follow the reading “666,” while Codex C, one manuscript from Irenaeus, and Tyconius have “616,” taken from the Greek ejxakovsioi devka e”x, that is 600 + 10 + 6.