On first reading of chapter 13 I said to myself. “What in the world is this all about?” After referring to a couple of commentaries, I have came to find out that this is what it is believed to mean.
- The Dragon is Satan who gives the beasts his own power and authority.
- The first Beast from the sea with the 7 heads and 10 horns with 10 crowns on the horns represents the Roman Empire. The heads and horns and crowns represent the Roman Emperors. Nero is represented by the head that was wounded then healed. (Nero was especially cruel and persecuted the Christians)
- The second Beast from the earth is a false prophet who seeks to deceive the earth so that its inhabitants worship the first beast.
- The 42 months represents the time from the beginning of Christ’s ascension and will conclude with His return. Thus Satan still rages and his evil will cease at the return of Christ.
- The first beast was allowed to persecute the Christians as they did not worship him.
- The Christians were the ones who’s names were written in the Book of Life that belongs to the lamb (Jesus).
- The mark on the hand or forehead represented the seal of the Roman Empire. Just as God sealed those who belonged to him, so did the beast (Roman Empire) seal those who indulged in emperor-worship.
- Down through medieval times it was common to use letters of the alphabet to signify numbers. The Jews, Greeks and Romans all did this. So words made up of letters would have a numerical value. The number 666 represented either Nero or Domitian who during their reigns were especially inhumane and their persecution of Christians was in high gear.
- The reason John referred to the number instead of the name of the ruler was for fear of being charged with treason and the punishment of execution. He cautiously identifies the man in such a way that knowledgable readers would know exactly who he meant and yet the law would not be able to touch him.
Hopefully this will allow us all a better understanding of what this chapter is telling us. I know for me it really helped.