Chapter thirteen begins our end-time section of Revelation. Chapters thirteen through sixteen will answer the question, How will God fight against evil forces in the end of time? Let us consider how this section fits into the overall structure of Revelation.
Structure of Revelation
How has God delivered His people from evil through the centuries?
How has God judged evil through the centuries?
How has God fought against evil forces through the centuries?
What is the origin of evil?
How will God war against evil forces in the end of time?
How will God judge evil in the end of time?
How will God deliver His people from evil in the end of time?
As you can see from the above diagram, the first half of Revelation answers three main questions from a historical viewpoint, namely, How has God delivered His people from evil through the centuries? (Chapters 1-3) How has God judged evil through the centuries? (Chapters 4-7) And, How has God fought against evil forces through the centuries? (Chapters 8-11)
Now these same three questions will be answered by the last half of Revelation from an end time perspective, namely, How will God war against evil forces in the end of time? (Chapters 13-16) How will God judge evil in the end of time? (Chapters 17-19) And, How will God deliver His people from evil in the end of time, and forever? (Chapters 20-22)
The words and phrases found in chapters 1-11 are repeated in chapters 13-22 because they are answering the same question, but from a different time perspective.
Consider from the diagram below how closely the two beasts in Revelation chapter thirteen are described like the two witnesses in chapter eleven. We know that chapter twelve is the center of the book of Revelation. On either side of chapter twelve is chapters eleven and thirteen. Chapter eleven is about the two witnesses and chapter thirteen is about the two beasts. As we had studied earlier, the two witnesses represented the Word of God, the Old and New Testament. As we will see in this study the two beasts represent the two super powers that will lead the world against the commandments of God.
Let us now consider the following diagram and see how closely the two witnesses and the two beasts are described:
God uses His two witnesses to fight against evil. (vs 3, 4)
God empowers the two witnesses. (vs 3, 6)
The two witnesses prophesy for 1260 years. (v 3)
Fire comes out of the mouth of the two witnesses. (v. 5)
Those who oppose the two witnesses will be killed. (v. 5)
The two witnesses can withhold rain. (v. 6)
The two witnesses can turn water into blood. (v. 6)
The two witnesses are killed. (v. 7)
The two witnesses come back to life. (v. 11)
Satan uses the two beasts to fight against God’s people. (vs 1-18)
The dragon, Satan, empowers the two beasts. (vs 2, 11-13)
The first beast rules for 42 months or 1260 years (v5)
The second beast makes fire come down out of heaven. (v. 13)
Those who oppose the beast are threatened with death. (v. 15)
The second beast can withhold economic trade. (v. 17)
The second does great wonders and miracles. (v. 13, 14)
The first beast receives a deadly wound. (v. 3)
The deadly wound of the first beast is healed. (v. 3)
From the above diagram we can see that Satan wants to counterfeit the power of the two witnesses, the Old and New Testament, by empowering the two beasts. The devil wants the world to believe in the power of the two beasts and to give their allegiance to them. By doing so, he can turn the world from the Word of God and lead them to trample upon the commandments of God.
As we will see, the first beast of Revelation 13 has the same identifying marks as the little horn power of Daniel 7. There is only one power that fits the entire description of the little horn power of Daniel 7 and this first beast of Revelation 13. That power is the Church of Rome.
The First Beast
Where did John see the first beast rise from?
John saw the first beast rise from the sea. See Revelation 13:1.
Waters represent vast multitudes: What do waters or seas represent in Bible prophecy? Seas represent a very populous part of the earth. For example: “… the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15.
Where did the four beasts of Daniel seven arise from?
“And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” Daniel 7:3. These four beasts represented the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. They occupied the populace part of the old world with its teeming multitudes. Therefore, this first beast would arise out of Euro-Asia.
A composite beast: What three beasts composed part of the characteristics of this first beast? “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion.” Revelation 13:2
Do we find these three beasts described elsewhere?
In Daniel 7 these three beasts represented Greece, Medo-Persia, and Babylon. Notice that these three beasts in Revelation 13 are given in the reverse order than is found in Daniel 7. Why? Because Daniel was looking forward in time (Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece), and John was looking back in time (Greece, Medo-Persia, and Babylon).
Even though these three kingdoms were defeated militarily, would they continue to live?
“As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” Daniel 7: 12. Their lives were prolonged by the first beast assimilating their pagan beliefs and customs. She would adopt these perverse practices to draw disciples after herself.
Seven heads: The first beast has seven heads. See Revelation 13:1. Heads represent kings or kingdoms in Bible prophecy. For example: “The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings.” Revelation 17:9–10. The first beast is not seven kingdoms, but he is among the seven kingdoms. These seven heads represent the seven consecutive mighty, political powers beginning with the kingdom of Babylon. These are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, the Papacy, the United States, and the United Nations.
However, which one of the seven heads is here described?
The Bible says, “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death.” Revelation 13:3. Notice that we are now only focusing on one head. This head is wounded and loses his political power. However, “his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” Revelation 13:3. Does this mean that the first beast is the same power as the horn that was wounded and then healed? In verse 12, we read that the world will worship the first beast, “whose deadly wound was healed.” So we find that the first beast represents one of the seven heads. It represents the head that was wounded in the past, but later comes back to political life. In other words, she will regain her lost ascendancy.
The name of blasphemy: The name of blasphemy is written upon the heads of the beast. See Revelation 13:1. The little horn power is said to have spoken blasphemy against God. See Daniel 7:25.
Ten horns: The first beast had ten horns and ten crowns. See Revelation 13:1. In Daniel 2 the image had ten toes, representing the ten divisions of Rome. In Daniel 7 the fourth beast had ten horns. These ten horns also represented the ten divisions of Rome. Therefore, we should expect the first beast to arise out of Rome.
“Long ages ago, when Rome through the neglect of the Western Emperors was left to the mercy of the barbarous hordes, the Romans turned to one figure for aid and protection, and asked him to rule them; and thus, ... commenced the temporal sovereignty of the popes. And meekly stepping to the throne of caesar, the vicar of Christ took up the scepter to which the emperors and kings of Europe were to bow reverence through so many ages.” American Catholic Quarterly Review, April 1911.
“The Church, with the shadow of the ancient authority behind it, was the only symbol left of imperial Rome; and its bishop, the Pope, was the city’s only recourse for leadership and protection .... The Roman Empire in Europe would be replaced by the spiritual empire— which came to be temporal as well—whose reigning seigneur was the bishop of Rome.” Scherman, The Birth of France, 164.
“Out of the ruins of political Rome, arose the great moral Empire in the ‘giant form’ of the Roman Church.” A.C. Flick, The Rise of the Medieval Church, 1909, page 150.
“Under the Roman Empire the popes had no temporal powers. But when the Roman Empire had disintegrated and its place had been taken by a number of rude, barbarous kingdoms, the Roman Catholic Church not only became independent of the states in religious affairs, but dominated secular affairs as well. … the well-organized, unified, and centralized church, with the pope at its head, was not only independent in ecclesiastical affairs but also controlled civil affairs.” Carl Conrad Eckhardt, The Papacy and World Affairs, The University of Chicago Press, 1937, 1.
Who gave the beast his power, and his seat, and great authority?
The dragon gave the beast his power. See Revelation 13:2. Who is the dragon? “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan.” Revelation 12:9.
What kind of words came out of the mouth of the beast?
He spoke great things and blasphemies against God. See Revelation 13:5–6. The little horn power of Daniel 7 also spoke great words and blasphemies against God. See Daniel 7:25. Consider the following blasphemous words spoken by the Papacy:
“All the names which in the Scriptures are applied to Christ, by virtue of which it is established that He is over the church, all the same names are applied to the Pope.” Robert Bellarmine, On the Authority of the Councils, 1628 edition, chap. 17, 1,266.
“We hold upon the earth the place of God Almighty.” Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter of June 20, 1894.
“For not man, but God separates those whom the Roman Pontiff (who exercises the functions, not of mere man, but of the true God), having weighed the necessity or benefit of the churches, dissolves, not by human but rather by divine authority.” Decretals of Gregory IX, book 1, title 7, chapter 3, in Corpus Juris Canonici, 1555 edition, vol. 2, col. 203.
“The pope is supreme judge of the law of the land .... He is vicegerent of Christ, and is not only a priest forever, but also King of kings and Lord of lords.” La Civilta Cattolica, March 1871.
Pope Boniface VIII in AD 1294 said in his celebrated bull Unam Sanctum,
“The pope is of so great dignity and excellence, that he is not merely man, but as if God, and the vicar of God. The pope alone is called most holy, ... Divine monarch, and supreme emperor, and king of kings .... The pope is of so great dignity and power, that he constitutes one and the same tribunal with Christ, so that whatsoever the pope does seems to proceed from the mouth of God .... The pope is as God on earth.”
“The pope is not a power among men to be venerated like another. But he is a power altogether Divine. He is the propounder and teacher of the law of the Lord in the whole universe; he is the supreme leader of the nations, to guide them in the way of eternal salvation; he is the common father and universal guardian of the whole human species in the name of God. The human species has been perfected in its natural qualities by Divine revelation and by the incarnation of the Word, and has been lifted up into a supernatural order, in which alone it can find its temporal and eternal felicity. The treasures of revelation, the treasures of supernatural graces upon earth, have been deposited by God in the hands of one man, who is the sole dispenser and keeper of them. The life-giving work of the Divine incarnation, work of wisdom, of love, of mercy, is ceaselessly continued in the ceaseless action of one man, thereto ordained by Providence. This man is the pope. This is evidently implied in his designation itself, the vicar of Christ. For if he holds the place of Christ upon earth, that means that he continues the work of Christ in the world, and is in respect of us what Christ would be if He were here below, Himself visibly governing the Church.” Reverend William Arthur, The Pope, the Kings, and the People, vol. 1, 211.
War against the saints: The first beast made war with the saints and persecuted them. See Revelation 13:7. The little horn of Daniel seven also persecuted the saints of God. See Daniel 7:21.
“That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a complete knowledge of history.” William E. H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, vol. 2, 35.
“‘Know that the interest of the Holy See, and those of your crown, make it a duty to exterminate the Hussites. Remember that these impious persons dare proclaim principles of equality; they maintain that all Christians are brethren, and that God has not given to privileged men the right of ruling the nations; they hold that Christ came on earth to abolish slavery; they call people to liberty, that is, to the annihilation of kings and priests! Whilst there is still time, then, turn your forces against Bohemia; burn, massacre, make deserts everywhere, for nothing could be more agreeable to God, or more useful to the cause of kings, then the extermination of the Hussites.’” L. M. de Cormenin, The Public and Private History of the Popes of Rome, vol. 2, 116–117. 87
How long did the first beast rule?
The first beast ruled for forty-two prophetic months. The little horn power of Daniel seven ruled for 1260 prophetic days. They both ruled for the exact same time, from 538 to 1798.
“The recognition of the Roman See as the highest ecclesiastical authority remained the cornerstone of his [Justinian’s] policy in relation to the west.” G. Kruger, “Justinian I, Emperor of the East,” in The New Shaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 6, 286.
“Down to the sixth century all popes are declared saints in the martyrologies. Vigilius (537–555) is the first of a series of popes who no longer bear this title, which is henceforth sparingly conferred. From this time on the popes, more and more involved in worldly affairs, no longer belong solely to the Church; they are men of the state, and then rulers of the state.” Charles Bemont and G. Monod, Medieval Europe from 395 to 1270, 120–121. [It is widely recognized that Vigilius’ reign began in AD 538, the year that so much power was given to the Papacy by Justinian. His predecessor, Pope Silverius, did not die until June, AD 538.]
The ten nations of Europe were formed by AD 476. The Papacy began her reign in AD 538, fulfilling the prophecy that she would arise after them. See Daniel 7:24. Therefore, if she arose in AD 538, then her temporal reign should have ended historically in AD 1798. Let us see what happened in that year:
“When in 1797, Pope Pius VI fell grievously ill, Napoleon gave orders that in the event of his death no successor should be elected to his office, and the Papacy should be discontinued. But the Pope recovered. The peace was soon broken: Berthier entered Rome on the tenth of February 1798, and proclaimed (Rome to be) a republic. The aged Pontiff refused to violate his oath by recognizing it, and was hurried from prison to prison in France. Broken with fatigue and sorrows, he died on the seventeenth of August, 1799, in the French fortress of Valence, aged 82 years. No wonder half of Europe thought Napoleon’s veto would be obeyed, and that with the Pope, the Papacy was dead.” Joseph Rickaby, The Modern Papacy, 1.
The Papacy is without question the first beast of Revelation thirteen. It is the same power as the little horn in Daniel 7, which was clearly the Papacy.
What would happen to the first beast?
It would receive a deadly wound. See Revelation 13:3. In AD 1798, Napoleon’s general, Berthier, captured the pope. Consequently, many in Europe thought the Papacy was dead.
However, what would happen to the deadly wound?
It would be healed. See Revelation 13:3. It should be remembered that beasts represent political powers. See Daniel 7:17. She started out as a church, not as a political power. She became a beast-political power in AD 538. She ceased to be a beast-political power in 1798, when she received the deadly wound. Since 1798, she was again only a church.
However, in 1929 she regained sovereignty over the little 108.7 acres of Vatican City by signing the Lateran Treaty. One might interpret this as the wound being healed, which again allowed her to become a beast-political power. However, what truly heals the wound so that the Papacy can regain her lost supremacy will be the second beast of Revelation thirteen.
The Second Beast
John saw another what?
John saw another beast; another political power.
From the earth: The second beast arose out of the earth. Since seas represent the old world with its teeming multitudes, then the earth represents the New WorId with its few inhabitants.
What are the identifying marks of the second beast?
It has two horns like a lamb, but it will speak like a dragon. See Revelation 13:11. Every other nation has been described as a ferocious beast, because of its intolerance both civilly and religiously. However, this lamb-like nation occupies the New World, offering freedom both civilly and religiously. This is why it has two lamb-like horns.
How would this beast eventually speak?
It would speak as a dragon. See Revelation 13: 11. In the end, this nation will repudiate her great principles of civil and religious liberty. She will trample upon liberty of conscience by legislating laws against the law of God.
Remember, this nation will still look like or profess to be a lamb, but it will speak as a dragon. A lamb in the Bible represents Christ as the Lamb of God. This is a professedly Christian nation, but it will speak like a “dragon.”
How much power will this second beast be able to exercise?
He will exercise as much power as the Papacy did during the Dark Ages. See Revelation 13:12. This second beast is obviously the United States. Consider the following: She was founded in the New World which was sparsely populated. She arose at the time the first beast was going into captivity in AD 1798. Her Constitution is based on civil and religious freedom. She is the most powerful nation ever to exist in human history. She is very close at this time to enacting religious legislation, thereby repudiating her former glory. And she is a professedly Christian nation.
What will she cause everyone to do?
She will cause the earth to worship the first beast and his image, or to receive his mark. These activities by the United States will cause the deadly wound of the Papacy to be fully healed. See Revelation 13:12, 14–17.
The worship of the beast: The Bible says, “And he [the United States] exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast [the Papacy], whose deadly wound was healed [when it comes back into political power].” Revelation 13:12.
The second beast power “causeth the earth ... to worship the first beast [the Papacy].” The lawmakers of the United States will be pressured to pass religious legislation. This legislation will have to do with the worship of the first beast, the Papacy. But who in America is clasping hands with the Church of Rome to pressure our lawmakers to pass religious legislation?
Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, said:
“The future of American politics lies in the growing strength of Evangelicals and their Roman Catholic allies. If these two core constituencies, Evangelicals comprising the swing vote in the South, Catholics holding sway in the North, can cooperate on issues and support like-minded candidates, they can determine the outcome of almost any election in the nation.” Ralph Reed, Politically Incorrect, 16.
Former ambassador to the Vatican, Melady, stated:
“And I believe that, just as the Evangelicals have become the base vote of the Republican party, Catholics are now today the swing vote in American politics. Any candidate who wins the Catholic vote will be able to govern America .... The Catholic vote holds the key to the future of America. And I believe that if they can unite, if Catholics can unite with the Evangelical Christians, the Protestants, who share their views on the sanctity of innocent human life, on the need of religious liberty and school choice and common sense values, I believe if Catholics and Evangelicals can unite there is no person who runs for office in any city or any state in America that can’t be elected and there is no bill that can’t be passed in either house of Congress or any state legislative chamber anywhere in America. It is the emerging force in the electorate today.” Quoted in G. Edward Reid, Sunday’s Coming!, 71.
The coalition between many Evangelical Protestants and the Church of Rome is gaining strength in American politics. In fact, dominionists, who believe that they are to rule the world for Christ, assumed great power and influence during the Trump administration.
But is the United States able to “cause” the world to worship the first beast, the Papacy? How strong are both the United States and the Papacy?
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Jim Hoagland wrote in the Washington Post that “America would now determine all major global events.” Quoted in Clifford Goldstein, Day of the Dragon, 25.
An article in Time magazine called the United States the “world’s sole remaining superpower, no prospect in the immediate future of any power to rival the United States.” Time, July 29, 1991, 13.
Former ambassador Melady stated,
“I believe that the U.S., as the world’s only superpower, and the Holy See, as the only worldwide moral-political sovereignty, have significant roles to play in the future. Their actions will impact the lives of people in all parts of the globe.” Melady, quoted in G. Edward Reid, Sunday’s Coming!, 31.
Malachi Martin wrote,
“Pope John Paul II ... insists that men have no reliable hope of creating a viable geopolitical system unless it is on the basis of Roman Catholic Christianity.” Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood, 492.
The two superpowers today are the United States and the Vatican. According to prophecy, these two superpowers would come to world dominance just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The United States is indeed the strongest nation in human history, with a strong and diverse economy and superior military force.
The Vatican is the world’s most multi-racial and multi-cultural institution, claiming one-fifth of the world’s population. The pope is the most popular international figure who controls a worldwide infrastructure of schools, universities, churches, hospitals, libraries, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, and radio and television stations. He has a working force of a half million priests overseeing more than 200,000 parishes.
The Vatican Bank, “with its team of international advisers who administered an extensive portfolio of the Holy See’s holdings and investments in virtually every sector of the world’s commercial and industrial activity,” makes the Papacy a major economic force in geopolitics today. Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood, 111.
The image of the beast: The prophecy predicts that the United States will cause the world to worship the Papacy through political muscle and deception. The Bible says,
“And he [the second beast] doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the [first] beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” Revelation 13:13–14.
Who in America has the power to deceive the world to worship the Papacy?
Notice that the second beast is also called the “false prophet.”
“And the beast [the first beast, the Papacy] was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image.” Revelation 19:20
The second beast and the false prophet have the exact same description because they represent the same power. A false prophet is professedly religious, but it is a false religious voice. The second beast has lamblike horns representative of Christianity. Therefore, we are talking about false prophets within the Christian faith. These false prophets are a major political force in America today, known as the dominionists. They believe that they are to control seven aspects of culture, namely, government, media, education, religion, media, business, and family. It is their goal to enforce their opinions and beliefs upon others.
It will be apostate Protestants in America, known Biblically as the false prophet, who will deceive the world into making “an image to the [first] beast,” the Papacy, by the means of miracles and legislation. The second beast will be able to make “fire come down from heaven.” In other words, Satan will be behind a nationwide apostate religious movement in America that will not only exert its influence on American politics, but also upon the whole world.
The apostle Paul had warned us, saying, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. Miracles will be performed to mislead people from the truth. See 2 Thessalonians 2:8–10. All these lying wonders will be performed to lead the world to worship the first beast and to make an image to the first beast.
The “image of the beast” is an image, or likeness, to the Papacy. It will be a mirror image of Papal supremacy in the Dark Ages when the church dominated in both civil and religious matters. During the Dark Ages, the Church of Rome became corrupted by departing from the simplicity and purity of the gospel, by accepting into her practices and teachings the beliefs and customs of pagan religions. In doing so, she lost the Spirit and the power of God.
In order to gain control over the conscience of the people, she sought the support of the secular power. The result was the Papacy, a church that controlled the power of the state, and employed it to further her own interests.
In these last days, when the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon certain points of doctrine, pressure the lawmakers to enforce their beliefs and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image or likeness to the Papacy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.
What is the penalty for those who do not worship the beast and his image?
“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak [legislatively], and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:15–17.
What a religious crisis! Those who do not worship the beast, his image, or receive his mark, cannot buy or sell, and eventually face a death decree. The “image of the beast,” the union of church and state, leads to religious laws and religious persecution.
What is meant by receiving the “mark of the beast”?
First, the “mark of the beast” is the mark of the first beast, the Papacy. It is therefore a mark of papal authority. Second, “the mark of the beast” has to do with the “worship of the beast.” Therefore, this mark of papal authority has to do with worship. Third, “the mark of the beast” has to do with the “image of the beast,” the union of church and state. Therefore, the receiving of the “mark of the beast” begins when the State passes religious legislation that forces people to worship a certain way.
What does the Papacy declare to be the mark of her ecclesiastical power?
“Sunday is our mark of authority .... The Church is above the Bible, and this transference is proof of that fact.” The Catholic Record, September 1, 1923.
“Of course, the Catholic church claims that the change [from Sabbath to Sunday] was her act. It could not have been otherwise, as none in those days would have dreamed of doing anything in matters spiritual and religious without her, and the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters.” The Catholic Mirror, September 23, 1893.
Does Sunday, the mark of papal authority, have to do with worship?
Yes, indeed! Does this mark have to do with the union of church and state? Definitely! A National Sunday Law in America strikes directly against freedom of religion. It also strikes directly against the Sabbath commandment found in God’s Law. See Exodus 20:8–11.
The Almost Forgotten Day: When our world sprang forth from the Creator’s hand it was exceedingly beautiful. There were hills and plains, and mountains and valleys. The landscape was adorned with flowers that filled the air with their sweet perfume; majestic trees rising high above the earth were many times larger and much more splendid than they are today; the plant kingdom was simply magnificent with its rich variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
Then there was the marvelous animal kingdom from the ant to the elephant, from the lion to the lamb, from the fish that swim the seas to the birds that fill the air with song. All these things that God had made were in their original perfection an expression of the very thoughts and purposes of God.
As a memorial of His creative works, God established the seventh-day Sabbath. The Bible says,
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all the work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1–3.
Even in the Garden of Eden, God foresaw the need for Adam and Eve to lay aside their own interests and pursuits on a certain day each week, that they might more fully contemplate His created works. So important is the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath that God made it a part of the Ten Commandments.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that in within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” Exodus 20:8–11.
From the time of Creation to the time of Christ, the people of God have joyfully kept the fourth commandment concerning Saturday, the seventh-day Sabbath. Christ Himself, by whom “all things were created,” (Colossians 1: 16), certainly did not forget the Sabbath.
The Bible says, “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read” Luke 4:16. The disciples continued the “custom” and example of Jesus in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath holy. See Acts 13:42–44.
For centuries, most of the Christian churches kept the seventh-day Sabbath. It wasn’t until the fourth century that we find the Church of Rome substituting Sunday worship for the seventh-day Sabbath. As one Catholic catechism records:
“We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church in the Council of Laodicea (AD 364) transferred the solemnity from Sabbath to Sunday.” Peter Geirmann, The Convert’s Catechism, 50.
The Church of Rome clearly teaches that the transference of the Sabbath to Sunday is not based on the Bible, stating:
“Sunday is a Catholic institution and its claim to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles ... From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.” Catholic Press, Sydney, Australia, August, 1900.
To facilitate the conversion of the pagans to Catholicism, the Church of Rome instituted pagan rites, such as, sun-worship, incense, images, holy days, and much more. As history records,
“The Church [of Rome] made a sacred day of Sunday ... largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun; for it was a definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and to give them a Christian significance.” Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, 145.
When the Church of Rome switched to Sunday observance, most of the other Christian bodies continued to keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Even in the eleventh century, the Sabbath issue continued to be “the subject of a bitter dispute between the Greeks and Latins.” Neale, A History of the Holy Eastern Church, vol. 1, 731.
But today, the seventh-day Sabbath is almost forgotten, even though in over 100 languages around the world, “Saturday” is rendered “Sabbath.” For example:
However, there is good news! All around the world, millions of Christians from the various denominations are restoring the “breach” made in the Law of God by keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. See Isaiah 58:12–14. They have come to realize that it is God’s will for us to keep all of His commandments including the fourth, the seventh-day Sabbath. See Hebrews 10:16; John 14:15; 1 John 5:2,3.
The last gospel call to the world, symbolically described by three angels flying in the midst of heaven, brings together the preaching of the everlasting gospel, the judgment hour message, the worship of God as our Creator (by keeping the Sabbath), and the warning to not worship the beast and his image. See Revelation 14:6–12.
This threefold message that will go to all the world just prior to the second coming of Christ, teaches us to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:7. It also describes God’s last day church as those who “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. The one commandment that teaches us to worship God as our Creator on the seventh-day Sabbath is the fourth commandment.
Tragically, the “worship of the beast” is in direct opposition to the “worship [of] Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Sunday sacredness, the mark of papal authority, is in direct opposition to God’s seventh-day Sabbath. The issue here is more than merely a different day of worship, it is in fact a question of authority. Whom shall we obey?
Obviously, this is a very important issue to God because the penalty for worshiping the beast is eternal condemnation. The Bible says, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” Revelation 14:9, 10.
Now note this very important point; no one as yet has received the mark of the beast. No one will suffer the wrath of God until he or she has received sufficient light to make an informed decision concerning the Sabbath of the Lord and the papal Sunday. Some have never heard of the binding claims of the fourth commandment. And as yet, most of God’s people are in the Sunday-keeping churches. But in these last days God is calling forth the final Reformation. The call to keep the almost-forgotten day will be the central issue in the reformation of both Catholic and Protestant churches, because it has been the one commandment most trampled upon in the Christian era.
A Terrible Crisis: A terrible religious crisis in the world is depicted in Revelation 13. While some will “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters,” others will “worship the beast and his image.”
The time will soon come “that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.… And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name… and his number is six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:15, 17–18.
What a crisis! Those who do not worship the beast will face economic sanctions and a death decree from earthly powers. Yet those who do worship the beast will face the wrath of God.
How many will worship the beast power?
The Bible predicts that all who “dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life.” Revelation 13:8. If you worship the beast, you forfeit eternal life. In fact, those who worship the beast will suffer from the seven last plagues. The Bible says the first plague is poured out “upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.” Revelation 16:2.
The Number of the Beast: The number indicates a man’s name, a certain man’s name, and his number is 666, “for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:18.
This man obviously stands at the head of the beast power whose official title is descriptive of his claims and character. The language indicates that the number of his name is calculable. It is a command to those who have accurately identified the beast. In fact, God intends that His people will calculate the number of the beast.
It was an ancient custom among Greeks and Romans to compute the number of their names by adding the numerical value of each letter. This also applied to their heathen gods.
The number of the beast is identified by the name of the beast, which is the name of a man, the numeral letters adding up to 666. Since the beast power under discussion is the Papacy, and it continued for 1260 years, it only stands to reason that the name cannot be applied to a singular personality. It must apply rather to the position this man occupies as leader. Therefore, it is the official title this man holds as the leader of this beast power. It must also be a title that is blasphemous, for it is the “name of blasphemy,” and the person described “opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name.” Revelation 13:5, 6.
The title for the pope is clearly “Vicar of the Son of God.”
“The Pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that he is not a mere man, but as it were God, and the vicar of God.” Ferraris, Ecclesiastical Dictionary.
“Christ entrusted His office to the chief Pontiff;… but all power in heaven and in earth had been given to Christ; … therefore the chief Pontiff, who is His vicar, will have this power.” Roman Canon Law, 1556 edition, Extravagantes Communes, col. 29, b. 1, ch. 1.
“The Pope is the vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, and the visible head of the church.…” John Joseph McVey, Manual of Christian Doctrine, 123.
“The title Pope, once used with far greater latitude, is at present employed solely to denote the Bishop of Rome, who, in virtue of his position as successor of St. Peter, is the chief pastor of the whole Church, the Vicar of Christ upon earth.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, article “Pope.”
Since we are dealing with a Roman power whose official language is Latin, the number would naturally be computed from the numeral letters of Latin.
The official title of the Pope is VICARIUS FILII DEI, meaning vicar or vicegerent of the Son of God. This title appeared as early as the eighth century in a document known as the Donation of Constantine. While it has been proved that this was a forgery by the Catholic Church, written seven centuries later, the Roman Church nonetheless used it to establish the Pope as the Vicar of the Son of God.
Later publications have also endorsed this title. Our Sunday Visitor, a popular Catholic paper, wrote on November 15, 1914, the following:
“What are the letters supposed to be in the Pope’s crown, and what do they signify, if anything? The letters inscribed in the Pope’s mitre are these: Vicarius Filii Dei, which is the Latin for the Vicar of the Son of God. Catholics hold that the church which is a visible society must have a visible head. Christ, before His ascension into heaven, appointed St. Peter to act as His representative. Upon the death of Peter the man who succeeded to the office of Peter as Bishop of Rome was recognized as the head of the Church. Hence, to the Bishop of Rome, as head of the Church, was given the title ‘Vicar of Christ.’”
Bible students know that Peter really had nothing to do with Rome. His two epistles are written “to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” 1 Peter 1:1. Peter’s ministry was in Asia Minor, not Rome. In addition, Peter never became a bishop, he continued the work as an apostle, planting churches in Asia Minor. Nevertheless, the Roman Church has given the Pope the official title of Vicar of the Son of God, Vicarius Filii Dei.
The letters in the alphabet of these ancient languages also had numerical value. The ones we are most familiar with are the Latin letters. For example: I= 1, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50, C = 100.
In Latin, the official name and office of the pope “Vicar of the Son of God,” adds up to 666:
VICARIUS = 5 + 1 + 100 + 0 + 0 + 1 + 5 + 0 = 112
FILII = 0 + 1 + 50 + 1 + 1 = 53
DEI = 500 + 0 + 1 = 501
TOTAL = 666
The number six is also the number for Babylon and spiritual Babylon. The Babylonian king, Belteshazzar, worshiped six gods. See Daniel 5:23. The golden image made by King Nebuchadnezzar was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. See Daniel 3:1. There were six instruments played to call the people to worship the golden image. See verse 5. The image was the result of and represents the union of church and state with persecution being the inevitable result. It was decreed that “whoso falleth not down and worshippeth [the golden image], that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” Daniel 3:11.
In Revelation 17:5, we are introduced to spiritual Babylon. Spiritual Babylon is called the “MOTHER OF HARLOTS.” A harlot in Bible prophecy represents a false and apostate church. See Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 3:1–9. She is the mother of apostate Christianity. This harlot “woman” is mentioned six times in Revelation 17. See Revelation 17:3–4, 6–7, 9, 18. There are six things associated with her dress. See Revelation 17:4. She is said not to be “any longer,” six times. See Revelation 18:21–23. It is mentioned that she makes the world drink of her fornicaton (false doctrines) six times. See Revelation 17:2,4; 18:3 (twice), 9; 19:2.
The primary and correct interpretation of the number 666 is that it is the official title of the Pope, Vicarius Filii Dei, who is the official leader to the beast power, the Papacy.
In a secondary sense, there are three sixes. The number three represents the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The number 666 represents man’s attempt to set himself up as God and to be worshiped. As Paul warned us, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the second coming of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4.
The “man of sin” is the Papacy. Is the Papacy also spiritual Babylon whose number is six?
Yes. Why is this so important to know? John warned us, “If any man worship the beast [the Papacy] and his image [the union of church and state], and receive his mark [enforced Sunday laws] in his forehead [through allegiance to Rome by knowingly obeying her false teachings], or in his hand [so that he can buy and sell], the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” Revelation 14:9–10.
In the end, we must choose between the worship of the beast and the worship of God as our Creator. There will be a lot of pressure to worship the beast and His image, but God’s people can and must prevail. You will need to be much in study and prayer. You will need to make up your mind that you will follow God no matter the trying circumstances. And you really need to know what is truth.
Do you prefer to be a Christian, or are you under the conviction of following Christ in all things? There is a difference. For many people, Christianity has been handed down to them. They do not have a personal relationship with Christ. But in facing life’s last great final conflict, all that we believe must be based upon a strong conviction that these are the truths of God’s Word.
Be sure that you have a solid foundation on the various subjects in the Bible: the inspiration of God’s Word; the sovereignty of God; the creation of our world; the fall of man; the plan of salvation; the second coming of Christ; the state of man at death; the law of God; and the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. There are many other Bible topics, but these are the foundations of the Christian faith.