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Revelation of the Apostle John
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  • Sea Beast is the civil power of Rome (the emperors) who persecuted the church. Chapter 17 will say the beast "is" when a particular emperor persecutes the church and "is not" when a particular emperor does not.

  • Seven heads are the seven mountains upon which Rome was built and also seven kings (emperors). See Revelation 17. This beast was similar to three beasts, a leopard, a bear and a lion. This reminds us of Daniel 7 where those beasts represented the three world kingdoms that preceded the Roman Empire - Babylon, Media-Persia and Greece. The fourth beast of Daniel 7 does not appear here in Revelation because the fourth beast was the Roman Empire. As in Daniel, the beast that represents Rome has all the characteristics of the others but is worse (more cruel).

  • The wounded head was the death of Nero, the fifth emperor. He was the beast when he persecuted the church (he killed the apostle Paul). When he died the persecution stopped (the beast was not) but there appeared a legend in Rome that he would come back to life. When Domician assumed the throne, many said that it was Nero revived. In the sequence of this vision, the beast revived because he persecuted the church.

  • Those who dwell on the earth are the unbelievers since the followers of Jesus dwell in heaven (v6). We understand that the church is God's tabernacle, that is, God dwells in the midst of His people. See Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1ff and Philippians 3:20. Remember that in this book those who live in heaven are the faithful and those who live on earth are the unbelievers.

  • The beast of the earth is from the earth instead of heaven. Its origin is human and unbelieving. His appearance is like a lamb (imitating Jesus) identifying him as a religion. His voice like a dragon instead of a lamb proves him to be a false religion (emperor worship). It spread through the Empire and when Christians refused to bow down to the emperor, they were punished.

  • The mark on the head. The 144,000 servants of God were marked on their foreheads in chapter 7 for protection from God's wrath and the beasts' worshippers were also marked to be protected from the beast's persecution. He persecuted the unmarked ones. In history, Rome established guilds (like labor unions) to control the life of the people and those who refused to worship the emperor lost their civil rights and commercial rights.

  • The number 666 identifies the beast. Many have tried numerical schemes of attributing values to each letter of the alphabet (like in Roman numerals) and adding all the values of a particular name to come up with 666. Results have identified Nero, the Catholic pope, Napoleon, Ronald Reagan, etc. Read carefully: The text says that 666 is the number of man, the number that represents man. Just as seven represents perfection (divinity), six is less than perfect (human). Three sixes emphasizes he is just a man. The message is: The beast that will terrify the church is not to be feared. He is just a man.

  • Chapter 12 ends with Satan irate and frustrated because he failed to destroy Jesus. Now he wants to destroy the church and to do this he needed an instrument of persecution. He chose Rome - cruel, arrogant and evil. Satan gave authority to Rome to dominate the nations and make the dwellers on earth to worship Rome. Thus began the great persecution of the church by the Roman Emperor Domitian. He would be totally defeated, thank God.

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