Monday, July 11, 2011

Revelation 12:18-13:10, The Beast from the Sea - The Antichrist (The Study of the Apocalypse)


12:18-13:18 will describe why the woman of chapter 12 had to flee to the wilderness, but really is an expansion of the “rage” of the dragon and who he “makes war” with the woman’s offspring. Osborne*** (Pg. 487). I would also like to state that the actual term ἀντίχριστος (antichrist) only appear in the first two letters of John: 1st John 2:18, 2:22, 4:3, and 2 John 7. There, ἀντίχριστος is a false-teacher.

Ἰωάννουα2·18 Παιδία,ἐσχάτηὥραἐστίν,καὶκαθὼςἠκούσατεὅτι ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν, ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν.

2:18 Children, this is the last hour, and just as you have heard that an antichrist is coming, and many antichrists have come now. Therefore, you know that this is the last hour.

Beale* says that there has been debate since the earliest of church fathers as to who the Antichrist is and when he will come. There have been two interpretations: 1. The Antichrist is a real person who is opposite from Christ, 2. The Antichrist is an evil spirit that continually inspires false teaching throughout the church age as in John’s letters. He concludes that both views are in play. (Pg. 681).

     The antichrist first appeared in the Garden in the form of a serpent.

     18 And he was standing1 on the seashore2.

Chapter 13

     1 And I saw a wild beast coming up from the sea4, having ten horns5, seven heads, and ten royal headbands6 on his horns7. And on his heads were the name[s]8 of blasphemy9 . 2 And the wild beast which I saw was similar to a leopard and his feet were like bear’s feet and his mouth was like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave to him his10 power and his throne and great authority. 3 And one of11 his heads was as having been mortally slain12, but13 his fatal wound14 was healed.15 And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the wild beast16 4 and worshipped the dragon, because he gave authority to the wild beast, and they worshipped the wild beast saying, “Who is like the wild beast17 and who is able to make war with him?”
     5 And a mouth was given to him speaking great things and blasphemies. Authority to exercise18 was given to him forty-two months. 6 And his mouth opened for blasphemies toward God, to blaspheme his name and his dwelling place19, the ones who are dwelling20 in heaven21 . 7 And it is was given to him to make war with the saints and to conquer them22, and authority was given to him over every tribe, people, language, and nation.23  8 And all the ones dwelling on the earth will worship him, whose name has not been written24 in the book of like of the lamb who has been slain from the foundation of the world25.
     9 If anyone has ears, let him hear.26 
     10 if anyone is supposed to go into captivity, 
     he goes into captivity.27 If anyone is supposed to be killed with a sword, 
     he will be killed28 with a sword.29 
     Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.

1 ἐστάθη (he was standing)

The dragon was the one standing on the seashore. The TR/KJV replaces ἐστάθη (he was standing) with ἐστάθην (I was standing), thus putting John as the one who stood on the seashore. This makes little sense as it is the dragon who looks out to sea for his beast, the antichrist, to come forth.

     As others have pointed out, the assignment of verse and chapter sometimes breaks the flow of content and can cloud meaning.

2 τὴν ἄμμον τῆς θαλάσσης (the seashore) 

Greek: “the sand of the sea”.

3 The line is used to tell us two things: 1. This is what the dragon did after becoming enraged and 2. this introduces how the dragon is going to make war with the woman’s offspring. Osborne*** states that the dragon stands on the seashore to call his agent for the final battle. (Pg. 489).

     In the Garden Satan called out to that darker side within the human breast. Sadly, it came forth bringing the stain of disobedience into creation. Hear we see Him once again calling out to bring harm and warfare. He stands on the shore and summons a creature from the sea. Long ago, God separated the earth from the sea, and from the earth He created the first man. Satan seeks to flood creation once again, covering it with the darkness and chaos that resides in him.

4 We see in (9:11) where the “Angel of the abyss” is over the 200 million calvary. Also, in 11:7, we see the beast “who comes up from the abyss”. In the Apocalypse, the abyss and the sea represent the evil depths in which evil comes from. The passage is an allusion to Daniel 7:3 LXX where the phase ἀνέβαινον ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης (coming up from the sea) is the same. Osborne*** (Pg. 490) and Beale* (Pg. 684).

5 κέρατα δέκα (ten horns)

Horns show power or strength. By placing it at the beginning of the description, John places emphasis on the wild beast’s strength. Osborne*** states this is reverse from the vision of the dragon in 12:3. There the heads are first: ἔχων κεφαλὰς ἑπτὰ καὶ κέρατα δέκα (having seven heads and ten horns), but here the horns are first. The wild beast is in the “image” of the dragon. (Pg. 490). Beale* sees the seven heads and ten horns as sign of “completeness of oppressive power and its worldwide effect”. (Pg. 684). “Completeness” by way of the use of “sevens”, “tens”, and “twelves” are the theme throughout the Apocalypse.

     These numbers and their respective themes first appear in the Bible from the days of creation and continue on through this book. This points to and is a confirmation of the guiding hand present in Scripture. They display consistency and provide added meaning.

6 διαδήματα (royal headbands)

The same type of crown that the dragon had on in 12:3. A type of crown employed as a symbol of the highest ruling power in a particular area and therefore often associated with kingship — ‘diadem crown.’ Note the shift from 7 diadems in 12:3 with 10 here.

     Persian kings would wear blue bands marked with white to secure their turbans or crowns.
          Thayer’s Greek Definitions

7 Mounce** suggests that the reason that the diadems are on the wild beast’s horns rather than on its heads represents that his “claim to authority rest on brute force”. (Pg. 250).

8 ὀνόμα[τα] (name/names) 

The plural form of the word may not be original to the text.

     Each horn could have its own name, or they could each have the same name on each horn much like the mark of the beast.

9 βλασφημίας (of blasphemy)

Blasphemy is to to speak against someone in such a way that it causes harm to his/her reputation. This is an allusion to Daniel 7:25 where the “little horn”: καὶ ῥήματα εἰς τὸν ὕψιστον λαλήσει (and he will speak words against the Most High).

     When we speak of doing or asking something in the name of Jesus, we base those actions or requests on His authority and word. A follower of Jesus and the one who believes God takes on His name, becoming a son in house of God. We take Him at His word. Rejection of His word is the ultimate sin. Speaking against the Most High is one of the most overt and apparent expressions of a lost soul.

10 αὐτοῦ (his) 

The construction of the Greek and the context shows us the it was the 
dragon’s power, throne, and authority that was giving to the wild beast.

     In the wilderness, Satan offered the world to Jesus, for it had been given to him. Perhaps this was the world that existed outside the Garden gates. This is the world Cain found when he left Adam and Eve, after he killed his brother Able.

     Obedience to that which was written guided Jesus through His hour of temptation.

11 ἐκ (of) 

Greek: “from” as in “one from his heads”.

12 ἐσφαγμένην εἰς θάνατον (having been mortally slain) 

Greek: “having been slain unto death”.

     In so many ways, Satan imitates Christ as he attempts to deceive. Beware of false teachers who place in front of you anything other than the Gospel.

13 καὶ (but) 

Greek: “and”. The English language demands the conjunction “but” 

14 ἡ πληγὴ τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦ (his fatal wound) 

Greek: “his wound of death” or “his blow of death”.

15 Osborne*** calls this a parody on Christ’s death and resurrection. The wild beast is the “image” of the dragon as seen in verses 1 and 2. If we look forward (we normally don’t in this study, but we must here), we see in 17:9-11 that the seven heads of the wild beast are seven hills that symbolize seven kings. We are probably dealing with Roman emperors here, but which one? Most scholars see Nero here. Nero was censured by the Roman Senate in 68 A.D. and was declared “an enemy of Rome”. After this, Nero took his own life by stabbing himself in the neck with a dagger. Legions starts that Nero was still alive (or, as some of the stories state, he came back to life) and was planning on trying to retake his throne. Osborne*** sees the wild beast/antichrist as a Nero-like figure and a Nero-like figure would have certainly hit home with 1st century believers. (Pgs. 495-497). Beale* sees the mortal wound as Christ’s blow to the dragon in his death and resurrection. (Pg. 688).

16 ὀπίσω τοῦ θηρίου (followed after the wild beast)

Greek: “after the wild beast” or “behind the wild beast”. The Greek is crude, but the idea is that the unbelievers “followed after” the wild beast. The same word is used in Mark 1:20 where James and John ἀπῆλθον ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ (departed after him). In that case, James and John departed after Jesus, here, the unbelievers follow after the wild beast. Beale* (Pgs. 693-694) also adds 1 Timothy 5:15 as additional proof that ὀπίσω τοῦ θηρίου means “followed after the wild beast”.

     In those days, many will be deceived...

Τιμόθεον α 5·15 ἤδη γάρ τινες ἐξετράπησαν ὀπίσω τοῦ σατανᾶ

5:15 For now some turned away following after Satan.

17 A parody of the acclamation of Yahweh: Exodus 8:10; 15:11; Psalms 71:19; 89:8; Isaiah 44:7; 46:5; Micah 7:18. Osborne*** (Pgs. 497-498).

18 ποιῆσαι (to exercise)

Greek: “to do” or “to make”. The Greek is awkward, but the context stresses that the wild beast was given authority in order exercise that authoring over the earth for the three and a half years.

19 τὴν σκηνὴν αὐτοῦ (his dwelling place) 

Greek: “his tent” or “his tabernacle”. An allusion to the OT tabernacle.

     We have become His dwelling place, His tent of meeting in this wilderness; He tabernacles with us.

20 σκηνοῦντας (were dwelling) 

Greek: “were pitching their tent”.

21 God’s tabernacle is now seen as God’s people! As Osborne*** puts it, “to blaspheme his people is to blaspheme his place”. (Pg. 500).

22 Osborne*** quotes it best: “as the dragon and the beast conquer the saints, they are conquered by the saints.” (Pg. 501). Just as Jesus conquered in his death and resurrection, believers of God do also.

23 This praise here is referring to the ones who follow the wild beast. He will have no authority over believers that will make them follow him. All he can do to them is persecute and kill them. He will receive no glory from the saints.

     This expression is often used for earth dwellers, who are contrasted to the saints.

24 οὗ οὐ γέγραπται τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ (whose name has not been written)

The Greek grammar is crude, but effective. John switches from the plural πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες (all the ones who dwell) to the singular τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ (him name). The literal Greek here is “who has not had his name written”. The verb is in the perfect tense as is John’s style. Osborne*** states that the imagery is drawn from Daniel 7: 9-10.

25 ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (from the foundation of the world)

There is much debate among scholars as to what this prepositional phrase modifies. It either modifies τῷ βιβλίῳ τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἀρνίου (the book of life of the lamb) or τοῦ ἐσφαγμένου (who has been slain). If we look forward (and we don’t like to...), we see in 17:8 that it is the Book of Life that is in view. τὸ βιβλίον τῆς ζωῆς ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (the book of life from the foundation of the world). Nevertheless, Osborne*** (Pg. 503), Mounce** (Pg. 256), and Beale* (Pgs. 702-703) believes it modifies “who has been slain”.

     Just as Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world, He entered a particular time in creation and allowed the physical act of His death. In the same way, it was established that we could choose life individually rather than accept the death that resulted from Adam’s poor decision. Life is optional, but choosing is not.

26 This phrase parallels the messages to the seven churches in Chapters 2 and 3. Here, it introduces a direct message to believers during this future time of persecution. It is presented this way so that believers pay special attention to what is about be said. This would apply to the believers in John’s day as well as to us today.

27 The TR changes the text to εἴ τις αἰχμαλωσίαν συνάγει, εἰς αἰχμαλωσίαν ὑπάγει “if anyone is gathered into captivity, he goes into captivity”.

     It is easy for many to see this as some sort of confirmation that we have no choice in the matter. This interpretation would be counter to the whole counsel of the word. Genesis reveals early on the role of choice and the outcome of a bad choice. We have a choice of which path to take, but it is only after we make that choice that we have no choice. Then, what will be will be.

28 ἀποκτανθῆναι (will be killed)

This infinitive verb is actually “to be killed” and the is the same verb as the previous line. Zerwick states in “A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament” that the infinitive verb stands for the future active indicative. (Pg. 762).

The TR changes the line to δεῖ αὐτὸν ἐν μαχαίρᾳ ἀποκτανθῆναι “it is necessary for him to be killed with a sword”.

29 An allusion to Jeremiah 15:2. Here, the saints are warned that some of them will be imprisoned and some will be killed. Again, the Greek is rough. The literal rendering is:

If anyone into/for captivity, 
into captivity he goes; 
If anyone to be killed with a sword, 
he to be killed with a sword.

     The idea of judgment based on right or wrong is offensive to many. That is not the idea of justice we seek and why many seek or worship a different God than the one revealed is His word. Some can embrace a Savior that died for us, but refuse the notion of a God that would require it. Many view a choice between life and death to be a primitive idea that popped into the head of a primitive man in a primitive culture. There are those that see right and wrong as something only they determine. We face the same choice and deception as Adam. This time it is not something we inherit, but decide for ourselves.

     There is certainly more knowledge today than before, but little increase in wisdom, for wisdom comes from God and has always been present. The knowledge of good and evil means we have to make a choice. It is the wisdom of God that we have a choice. Choose life.

NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)

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