Revelation 13

Satan in his war against the saint uses two chief instruments: (a) totalitarian world power, hostile to the true God, subservient to Satan, and claiming worship for itself (verses 1-10); and (b) established religion, supporting the claims of the world power, by false miracles and signs (verses 11-18). Such ‘beasts’ were found in John’s day in the Roman Empire and the cult of emperor worship. They have also appeared in later history, and may appear again.

  1. Note how true Christians are here distinguished from others (verse 8; cf. 17:8). What experience is inevitable for them in such a world situation as verses 1-10 depict? How is it appointed that they should show their faithfulness? Cf. Mark 13:13.
  2. In what respects does the second beast differ in outward appearance from the first? Cf. 1 Pet. 5:8 with 2 Cor. 11:14. How does its aims and methods bring Christians into direct conflict with it? Cf. Dan 3:4-6; John 15:18-21.

Notes

  1. Verse 2. Note a combination of the characteristics of the first three beasts in Daniel’s vision. Cf. Dan. 7:4-6.
  2. Verse 3. This suggests a counterfeit to Christ’s death and resurrection, intended to lead men to faith and worship.
  3. Verse 4. The reason for worship is not moral greatness but brute force.
  4. Verse 10 echoes words in Jer. 15:2. In the face of such treatment, Christians are not to try to resist or retaliate.
  5. Verse 12. This second beast completes the satanic trinity. It is called ‘the false prophet’ in 16:13; 19:20; 20:10. He is the Lie dressed up like the Truth. Cf. Matt. 7:15; Mark 13:22; 2 Thess. 2:9-12.
  6. Verse 18. Many take the number 666 to refer to ‘Nero Caesar’. Others, because every digit falls short of the perfect number 7, regard 666 as a symbol of the Antichrist.