Characters and Themes – The Beast Revealed

24Apr11

In our last discussion we noted that the overwhelming Biblical evidence regarding the Beast is that it has a two-fold purpose. The first is that it represents a nation made up of king and resides on a city amongst seven hills. Though one of it’s heads (kings) receives a mortal wound, the nation continues to exist. This was easily understood to represent the Nation of Rome.

But we also noted that this beast represented an individual. This “individual” beast is seen as the head of the beast that receives the mortal wound to it’s head. This same individual representation of the beast had other characteristics and actions that would separate him out from all the other kings. Below are the clues or questions we must ask as given Revelation 13 and 17 regarding this individual beast.

  • Who are the Seven Kings?
  • Who are the five that have fallen?
  • Who is the one that “currently is” ?
  • Who will follow for a short time?
  • Who makes war against the Saints?
  • Who had authority over all nations and tribes?
  • Whose name adds up to 666…not 6-6-6

Answering these question will help us determine the identity of the Beast and how the book of revelation will also apply to us. But first I must note that for a full treatment, one much more thorough and complete than what can be done here, I would recommend Dr. Kenneth gentry’s “Beast of Revelation.” His book is short, yet thorough and understandable. I am indebted to his work for my own understanding of this passage and character.

THE CLUES

As mentioned above there are several clues John gave his readers to determine the identity of the Beast. Remember that the “postal service” for John as he is exiled on the island of Patmos would be the Roman government. It should be assumed that his correspondence would be read for any sign of illegal or treasonous activity. As a result, John must use coded language familiar enough to his readers but not so familiar as to set off alarms with the Roman censors. Remember, John is not only concerned about his own well being, but about the well being of those to whom this letter is being sent. Any hint of illegal activity (social or religious) would increase the persecution the Saints were already bearing.

So taking into consideration the need for secrecy John uses imagery and coded number systems to identify the characters in the vision. He uses Old Testament Biblical imagery like the sun, moon, stars, Babylon, Egypt, Sodom, lamp stands, animal-like beasts, olive trees and much more. He believes his reader would be familiar with these images as well. he also uses the far eastern designation ofr using numbers to represent a name. All of this we will get to, but first let us consider the obvious clues found in Revelation 17.

Remember, John is confused by what he sees and an angels of the Lord comes to interpret the more difficult parts for John, and of course for us.

Revelation 17:7 But the angel said to me, Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery … of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. … 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.

John here is outlining a quick history of the Roman Empire lineage. He states that as of his writing that five kings have come, one currently was reigning and that a seventh would come and reign for only a short time. This designation also helps in dating the writing of revelation, but we will save that for a later post. Also note how there seems to be a separation of sorts between the sixth and seventh king. One “is” while the other “has not yet come.” The seventh appears to be a little different than the first six and we will see how this plays out as well.

So below are listed the first seven kings or rulers of Rome.

  • Julius Caesar
  • Augustus (Octavian)
  • Tiberius
  • Gaius (Caligula)
  • Claudius
  • Nero
  • Galba

Counting down from the line of Julius Caesar we discover that Nero is the 6th king or ruler of Rome. He is also the last in the line of Julius as the blood line of Julius ends with the assisted suicide of Nero. It was important to understand that at that time it was believed that end of the Roman Empire was coming as the last of Julius’ line died with Nero. It was a ominous picture of the death of a nation. In fact there were a few rulers who followed, but it wasn’t until Vespasian comes into power a few years later that the nation appeared to have regained it’s footing and re-established itself as the world dominant force.

It was also under Nero that the rebellion of the Jews took place in Jerusalem. Though the siege was carried out soon after his death the mass of the destruction lays at Nero’s horrible mismanagement of that situation. You also have the famous fires of Rome that Nero blamed on the Christians which lead to immense persecution of the hands of the roman government. There is more to the Neronic biography that will be dealt with later. For our purpose here we want to deal with the Biblical clues as the the identity of the Beast of Revelation.

Another clue that matches up quite well is the statement that the seventh ruler would “remain a short while.” After Nero’s death there was a race to the throne by three generals of the Roman army. Galba end up winning the race and it installed as the seventh ruler of Rome. His reign, though, was cut short and lasted just about six months.

So, based on the Revelation 17 clues, it seem quite apparent that Nero more than qualifies as the beast oRf evelation. We will examine the other evidences as well in the next post, but I want to finish here with a discussion of the number of the man, his number being 666 – six hundred, sixty and six.

666

As stated previously, the number recorded in Chapter 13 of the book of revelation is six hundred and sixty-six. It is NOT three separate sixes. Any attempt to identify the beast using three separate sixes should be dismissed immediately as it is not what the text determined. So, we must limit ourselves to conjecture based on six hundred and sixty six.

What John is using here is called Gemmatria. This very common practice among ancient world civilizations was to use letters of their languages alphabet to represent numbers. It would be like using the number 1 to represent the latter A, b = 2, c = 3 and so on up to ten. Then multiples and ten and so on through the hundreds until the letters are used up.

This was a common practice especially when the secrecy of the identity of the author or the subject was desired. There have been found poems written describing a beautiful “married” woman whose name was 733. Under the circumstances the identity of the subject was kept secret to avoid potential hostility.

The same could be said for John. If John wanted to keep secret the identity of the beast to avoid increasing the persecution against himself or his readers he needed to find a way to identify the character without being too obvious. This would be especially true if John was referring to a contemporary figure.

So, what do we know about the numbers of six hundred and sixty-six in relation to Nero?

The Hebrew spelling of the name for Nero was NRWN QSR of Neron Kaiser (King Nero). Using this spelling of the name the gemmatria would appear as follows.

N – 50

R – 200

W – 6

N – 50

Q – 100

S – 60

R – 200

NRWN QSR = 666

Now, you may have a translation of the Bible that lists a note that many early and reliable copies of the book of Revelation actually has the number 616. Nero was also know know for the Latin spelling of his name which did not included the “n” at the end of his name – NRW QSR. This spelling, subtracting the value of 50 for the letter “N,” adds up to 616.

Gemmatria should not be used as the lynch pin argument for discovering the identity of the Beast of revelation since, as we have seen, it is possible that several names could add up to any particular number. This is made even more difficult since names included titles, different translation spelling and more difficulties. How the Gemmatria does help is in adding weight to a particular possible identification.

Since Nero’s name adds up to 666 and 616, we may conclude that he was a possible candidate. Then we add what we know about the seven rules of a city on seven hills that was alive at the time of John and the evidence begins to mount.

In the next post we will deal with the other evidences for Nero as the Beast.

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3 Responses to “Characters and Themes – The Beast Revealed”

  1. 1 Yehoshuamyking

    Hi D.L.

    I had a question about a previous lesson ” lightening ” and i wanted to double check something with you… Is 3952 correct for 24:27 or should it be 2064?

    • 2 low5point

      I do not have a Strongs nearby, but I do have my Greek Lexicon. What word are you asking about?

  2. 3 Yehoshuamyking

    Coming


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