11 And I saw another wild beast coming up out of the earth1, and it had2 two horns3 similar to a lamb4, but5 was speaking6 like a dragon.7 12 He exercises8 all the authority of the first wild beast in his presence9, and he makes the earth and the ones who dwell in it so that they will worship the first wild beast, the one whose mortal wound10 was healed. 13 And he makes great signs, so that he may even make fire to come down from the sky11 onto the earth in plain view of the people12. 14 And he deceives13 the ones who dwell on the earth because of the signs that were given to him to perform14 in the presence of the wild beast15, commanding16 the ones who dwell on the earth to make an image of the wild beast17, who has the wound of the sword and lived. 15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the wild beast, so that the image of the wild beast could speak18 and could make all19 who refused to worship the image of the wild beast will be killed. 16 And he makes everyone, the small and the great, the wealthy and the poor, the free and the slaves, that they may give20 to them a mark21 on their right hand or on their forehead 17 and so that no one is able to buy or to sell unless the one has the mark of the name of the wild beast or the number of his name22.
18 Here is wisdom, the one who has understanding23, let him figure out24 the number of the wild beast25, for it is a number of a man26. His number is six hundred sixty six27 .
1 An allusion to Daniel 7:17. There, the four beasts are identified as four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.
The first beast rose from the sea. This one comes out of the earth. Remember the angel who comes to earth, placing one foot on the sea and one foot on the earth? God’s will and purpose will prevail.
2 εἶχεν (had)
Greek: “was having”. The verb is in the imperfect and carries a continual aspect. With that in mind, the false prophet was continually “having” his strong force in the false messages that he was preaching.
3 The two horns show that this 2nd wild beast had power/strength as well, but was not as powerful as the first wild beast (the antichrist). It was in an subordinate role. Osborne*** (Pg. 511). Beale* adds that the two horns mimic the two witnesses/two lambstands/two olive trees of 11:3-4 (Pg. 707).
The two horns are likened to a lamb. Though the beast had the appearance of one thing, it was another thing, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Jesus warned of false prophets and deceivers. We are told here that the words spoken come from the dragon.
Those that listen to the voice of Jesus know His voice, as sheep respond to their shepherd. No matter how well someone can mimic something else, sooner or later the fruit of their heart will reveal itself. Though we might be fooled, God is not, nor will He be mocked.
4 A possible allusion to Matthew 7:15.
5 καὶ (but)
6 ἐλάλει (was speaking)
The imperfect again. The false prophet continually spoke like a dragon.
7 Beale* believes that the false prophet rises up from the church! He cites Matthew 24:5 in stating that its possible for the false prophet to come from the community of believers itself. (Pgs. 707-708). This is plausible due to the compromising nature of some of the seven churches in which this letter was written to. See Chapters 2 and 3.
According to recent polls, more that half of “church” members would say there is more than one way to God and that truth is relative. This might give one pause to remember Jesus talking about tares and wheat. This points to difference of people gathering who say they are Christians or that they believe and follow Christ but do not, as contrasted to the body of Christ. Remember the “synagogues of Satan” referenced in the letters. It was in the midst of the chosen nation of God that His Son was slain. He was rejected by those those that claimed be His people. Those that can say Jesus Christ is Lord, that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and believe this in their hearts, can truly say they are in the community of believers. Anything less is just a community.
8 ποιεῖ (he exercises)
Greek: “he makes”. The verb occurs in the present tense which carries a continual aspect. The shift to the present tense was probably done to add vividness to the passage. This is one of nine occurrences of this verb in verses 12-16. Osborne*** (Pg. 512).
We see the present tense of evil in the world today, and can look back over time at the misery it has produced in creation.
9 ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ (in his presence)
or “before him”. It’s possible that the phrase means that the false prophet carries out the “authority” in behalf of the first wild beast. Some translation render the passage this way. (NIV) (NET) (NRSV) The (KJV) renders this “in his sight”.
God prepares His table for us, even in the presence of our enemies, in the land of the shadow of death. A great light has come into the world. Those who follow the light walk in His presence, of God our Father.
10 ἡ πληγὴ τοῦ θανάτου (mortal wound)
Greek: “the wound or death” or “the blow of death”.
11 ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (from the sky)
or “from heaven”. The word can mean both.
Again, deception is in view. This beast calls down fire from above like the two witnesses.
12 ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων (in plain view of the people)
Greek: “before the people” or “before men”. As Osborne*** puts it, it
was a public-relations performance. (Pg. 514).
Like any good circus, the show must go on.
13 πλανᾷ (he deceives)
Greek: “he leads astray”.
14 ποιῆσαι (to perform)
Greek: “to do” or “to make”.
15 See note of verse 12.
16 λέγων (commanding)
Greek: “saying”. BDAG states that λέγω can be used as a command.
The context certainly infers that idea here. (Pg. 589).
17 An allusion to Daniel 3:1-6 where Nebuchadnezzar makes an image and commands everyone to worship it. Osborne*** points out that this imagery is built upon the “number of idolatrous statues to the emperors in the imperial cult. (For greater detail, see the blogs on chapters 2 and 3) He goes on to state that there was at least one imperial statue in the seven cities of chapters 2 and 3 by the time of Christ. (Pgs. 514-515).
Once again, we will see a form of idolatry set up in the last day.
Jesus is the image of God. That is why His name invokes such hostility and ridicule. That is unacceptable to the dragon.
This is the spirit of the antichrist.
18 καὶ λαλήσῃ (could speak)
Greek: “even may speak” or “may even speak”.
19 ὅσοι (all)
Greek: “as any as”.
20 δῶσιν (they may give)
Note the shift to the plural. This possibly means a combination of the dragon and the two wild beast.
21 χάραγμα (a mark)
Possibly a tattoo or a brand. Mounce** states that religious tattooing was widespread in the ancient world. People would be tattooed to show their loyalty to a god. He goes on to say that χάραγμα was used for the likeness or name of the Roman Emperor on Roman coins. (Pg. 262).
In this same sense, believers are marked, that is sealed in the Holy Spirit. In this way we are marked for salvation. We put on Christ, we assume His righteousness before God, take His name, and begin to assume His likeness. We are separated to God, therefore holy because we have taken His name.
22 In ancient times, letters of the alphabet were assigned a numeric value and were used for counting. Osborne*** adds that it was very likely that John’s early reader knew the name in which he was referring to. (Pg. 519). Mounce** states: “The first nine letters stood for the number one through nine, the next nine for the numbers ten through ninth, and so on.” (Pg. 263).
23 νοῦν (understanding)
or “a mind”.
24 ψηφισάτω (let him figure out)
or “let him count” or “let him interpret”. A possible call to sort out
whose number this belongs to.
25 John draws the attention of his 1st century readers to this passage. They are to take care in understanding who this person (antichrist) is. John expects them to know.
26 ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν (for it is a number of a man)
ἀνθρώπου (of a man) can be taken as a “specific” man or a “generic” man. If “generic”, then the translation would be: “for it is the number of man”. Note there are no articles before ἀριθμὸς (number) or ἀνθρώπου (man).
27 So who does 666 stand for? Most scholars say that it stands for “Nero Caesar”, but one would have to transliterate the Greek form of a Latin name into Hebrew for the numbers to add up! Osborne*** (Pgs. 520-521). The reality is that we may not know until the time comes.
I should also point out that the number here should be the total of the letters (numbers) added together. 666 should not be separated into 6, 6, 6. This has led to many crazy thoughts such as "Ronald Wilson Reagan" (six letters in each name) being named the antichrist!
Perhaps Beale* has the best solution. In his view, 666 is to be considered as a figurative number (as all the others in the Apocalypse) that means “complete incompleteness”. The idea that believer need “wisdom” and “understanding” to figure this out is a symbol meaning that they should watch out so that they will not be deceived by the false teachings that it is fine to compromise with idolatry. (Pgs. 718-728).
The number of Christ might be reflected as 777. The fullness and the completeness of God as revealed in the Trinity. The seven spirits of God that were before His throne are displayed to us in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The number of antichrist is 666. The number of man falls short of the perfection of God. Man has always striven to replace God. to be like God. This is the spirit that is in the world and slithers in the dust of creation. It is one man and every man, all those who reject and deny Christ. Regardless who leads the charge on earth, it is the dragon that swings his tail causing many to fall.
Man appeared on the sixth day in the creation story. God rested on the seventh day. It is through His Son, Jesus Christ, we enter that rest.
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)