John concluded this portrait of evil—where the false prophet led countless people to worship the antichrist in blatant defiance toward God—by urging Jesus’ followers to show wisdom and understanding in calculating the cost of compromise.
Here is wisdom. Let him who hasunderstandingcalculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is sixhundred and sixty-six.
~ Revelation 13:18
And he deceivesthose who dwell on the earthbecause of the signswhich it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, tellingthose who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beastwhohad the wound of the sword and has come to life. ~ Revelation 13:14
Satan is a deceiver, blurring the lines between righteousness and wickedness.
Here are several ways the evil one invites people to compromise:
· Focus on externals (v. 11, 13, 15)
· Mix the truth with lies (v. 12, 14)
· Get comfortable with evil (v. 12, 16, 18)
· Care only about our personal gain (v. 17)
· Convince ourselves that sin’s consequences are irrelevant (v. 15, 18)
Relentless rebellion against God is a tragically overpriced pursuit.
Is the sin we could choose worth the cost of dishonoring and disappointing God?
Three Costs of Compromise
1. Discredit the testimony of Jesus.
Then I sawanotherbeastcoming up out of the earth; and he hadtwohornslike a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. (v. 11)
See Mark 8:38; Luke 17:1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Galatians 1:6-10
Is the sin we could choose worth the cost of discrediting the testimony of Jesus?
2. Direct people’s hearts away from God.
And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the firstbeast, whosefatalwound was healed. (v. 12)
See Matthew 5:16; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; Galatians 3:1-14; Jude 1:3-23
Is the sin we could choose worth the cost of directing people away from God?
3. Destroy everyone (including myself) around me.
And he deceivesthose who dwell on the earth (v. 14)
and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed (v. 15)
And he causesall . . . to be given a mark on their righthandor on their forehead (v. 16)
and he provides that noone will be able to buyor to sell, except the one who has the mark (v. 17)
See Psalm 1:1-6; Psalm 34:1-22; Galatians 5:13; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 3 John 1:2-11
Is the sin we could choose worth damaging the lives of everyone we know?
Application: (1) Focus on the truth of God. (2) Avoid evil. (3) Serve others. (4) Remember that sin’s consequences are real and tragic. (5) Keep looking to Jesus.
Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb (Revelation 14:1)
My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20, HCS)
Commentary on Revelation Chapter Thirteen
As with their interpretation of the first Beast, scholars are divided about the beast from the earth. The different thoughts are that the second beast represents either (1) a movement or power, or (2) an individual who, at the end times, will arise along with the Antichrist to take control of the world. Those who believe that this beast represents a movement or power point to the first Beast as representing the worldwide anti-God system, with the second beast representing false teachers who cause people to stray. These false teachers will be the opposite of the two godly witnesses in Chapter 11.
~ Bruce B. Barton, et. al., Revelation: Life Application Bible Commentary, p. 158.
Perhaps this is a further example of the parodying of the good. The term [great signs] indicates that the miracles are not aimless wonders. They have deep significance and are part of Satan’s plan (cf. Mk. xiii, 22, 2 Thes. ii, 9). An example is the making of fire come down from heaven. This is not said to have destroyed the beast’s enemies or the like. It is apparently simply meant to arouse admiration.
~ Leon Morris, Revelation: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 171.
The second beast was also empowered to do astounding miracles, such as making fire flash down from the sky. Again, in copycat style, this was the same miracle that the two witnesses for God could perform (11:5), which is a reference to a miracle of Elijah recorded in 1 Kings 18:36-38. Ironically, Elijah had performed that miracle so that God could show who was a true prophet and who was not.
~ Bruce B. Barton, et. al., Revelation: Life Application Bible Commentary, p. 158-159.
By his miracles he deceives men and establishes his position. Them that dwell on the earth in this book seems to mean unregenerate mankind. The beast can deceive only unbelievers. There is an important spiritual truth here.
~ Leon Morris, Revelation: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 171-172.
The end result of this parody is that this second beast was given [a passive verb that implies Satan as the author] power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak. Again, this is most likely Johannine imagery pure and simple, as his way of indicating that the real power of the Empire was Satan himself. Thus the priests of the cult of the emperor, having power to do satanic “miracles,” also had the power to cause all who refused to worship the image of the beast (= the emperor) to be killed. And with this, one now has insight into John’s own considerable insight as to what would soon happen to followers of the Slain Lamb, who would in fact “refuse to worship the image” of the beast.
~ Gordon D. Fee, Revelation: New Covenant Commentary Series, p. 185-186.
He now caused a mark to be set on all men in their right hand, or in their foreheads. The listing of various classes, small and great, is a way of stressing totality. No one is exempt. The choice of the right hand or forehead is presumably for conspicuousness. It could not be hidden. It may also be meant as a travesty of the Jewish custom of wearing phylacteries (little boxes containing extracts from the Bible) on the left hand (or forearm) and on the head. The precise significance of the mark is uncertain.
~ Leon Morris, Revelation: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 172-173.
Commentary on Revelation Chapter Thirteen (continued)
Might (dunatai) is stronger than ‘hinder’ or the like. It points to total prohibition, which would make it impossible for people without the mark to get even necessities like food. It is thus impossible for those who oppose the beast to live.
~ Leon Morris, Revelation: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 173.
Speculating on what some antichrist figure may do, especially in light of this text, is not the same as interpreting the meaning of this text . . . In translating the principles of this text as lessons for our own situations, we need to remember how concretely the text would have spoken in John’s day. The demand that inhabitants of the empire worship the emperor’s image (and other statues of deities) was a dramatic insult to the honor due God alone. Today the world often offers more subtle opportunities for allegiance to God’s competitors or ways to deny God’s supremacy in our lives. The early Christians were not called to tear down physical idols and insult their neighbor’s beliefs (which would have proved an ineffective witness in any case), but they could not share in their idolatry. If Christ is Lord of our lives, we must graciously part company with much of what our contemporaries value, not only morally but recreationally and in other respects—misfits in our culture though we may appear.
~ Craig S. Keener, Revelation: The NIV Application Commentary, p. 358.
The possibilities [for the meaning of the number 666] are almost endless. In modern times the most favoured solution is ‘Nero Caesar’ (if the final letter be omitted to give the equivalent of the Latin spelling of the name the total is 616, the variant reading). But to get this result we must use the Greek form of the Latin name, transliterated into Hebrew characters, and with a variant spelling at that (the vowel letter y has to be omitted from qysr). This solution has its attractions, but no-one has shown why a Hebrew name with an unusual spelling should be employed in a Greek writing. It is also to be borne in mind that in the ancient world when Nero was a considerable figure (the Nero redivivus myth is thought by many critics to underlie parts of Revelation), this solution was apparently never thought of. Irenaeus mentions (and fails to adopt) the view that Lateinos, i.e. the Roman Empire, was meant. He mentions also euanthas and teitan (= the emperor Titus?) and favours the latter.
Other solutions are put forward, but none has won wide acceptance. It is possible that such solutions are on the wrong lines and that we should understand the expression purely in terms of the symbolism of numbers. If we take the sum of the values represented by the letters of the name Iēsous, the Greek name ‘Jesus’, it comes to 888. Each digit is one more than seven, the perfect number. But 666 yields the opposite phenomenon, for each digit falls short. The number may be meant to indicate not an individual, but a persistent falling short. All the more is this likely to be correct if we translate ‘it is the number of man’ rather than “a man’. John will then be saying that unregenerate man is persistently evil. He bears the mark of the beast in all he does. Civilization without Christ is necessarily under the dominion of the evil one.
~ Leon Morris, Revelation: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 174.
John did not say, ‘Work out the meaning of the number.’ He said, ‘Work out the number.
Puzzle: what sort of number do we think might be use to symbolize false religion?
Let us therefore paraphrase the verse, as it might have been read to those original hearers. ‘Let him who has understanding work out a number for the beast—a “human” number, a code such as we have already had symbolizing the church and the church age. What might we suggest?’ ‘How about something which tries to look like truth, but isn’t?’ ‘A number as close as may be to perfection, but not achieving it?’ ‘And if the symbol of basic truth is seven, how about six for false religion?’ ‘That would be very appropriate. Actually, perhaps, because the beast in all its activities is persistently missing the mark, the number John writes here is not just 6, but 666’ It may not have been exactly like that. But such an approach seems more consistent with Revelation’s general use of symbolism.
~ Michael Wilcock, The Message of Revelation, p. 131
1. the mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining
a. the intellectual faculty, the understanding
b. reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil
c. the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially
2. a particular mode of thinking and judging, i.e thoughts, feelings, purposes, desires
1. to count with pebbles, to compute, calculate, reckon
2. to give one's vote by casting a pebble into the urn
3. to decide by voting
Job 36:16-18, NLT
16 God has led you away from danger, giving you freedom. You have prospered in a wide and pleasant valley.
17 But you are too obsessed with judgment on the godless. Don't worry, justice will be upheld.
18 But watch out, or you may be seduced with wealth. Don't let yourself be bribed into sin.
Cain entertained anger.
Abraham hosted fear.
Esau fed hunger.
Saul housed pride.
David lured lust.
Elijah nourished pity.
Ahab pursued power.
Peter followed impulse.
Judas chased greed.
Saul whispered murder.