Revelation

13:11-18

The Messianic Judgments, 6:1-16:21

3. The battle with the beasts, 11:19-15:4

v] The beast from the land

Synopsis

In his vision, John sees a second beast, this time emerging from the land. It may look like a lamb, but when it opens its mouth, out pours the vile of a dragon. Like the first beast, it has massive authority, able to perform great signs of power, all of which are exercised to support and energize the first beast. Those who refuse to worship the first beast are either killed, or excluded because they are not marked on their foreheads with its mark, either its name, or its number, 666. Without the mark, it's not possible to buy or sell.

 
Teaching

The kingdom of darkness reigns on earth. Let the Christian community know it for what it is.

 
Issues:

i] Context: See 12:18-13:10.

 

ii] Background: See 1:1-8.

 

iii] Structure: The beast from the land:

The second beast described, v11:

the horns of a lamb, but spoke like a dragon.

The works of the beast, v12-13:

powerful signs and wonders.

The achievements of the beast, v14-15:

the worship of deceived humanity.

The division of humanity by the mark of the beast, v16-17:

A word to the wise, v18:

mark the number 666.

 

iv] Interpretation:

The beast from the sea and the beast from the land come together to give us the antiChrist with the mark 666, cf., 15:2; let's call him the beast from the bog, the BEAST = 666, ultimately Babylon, the secular city. The first beast, 12:18-13:10, most likely representing political power, is supported by the second beast. John describes this beast as Satan in a christ-like garb - it looks like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon. Although we are dealing with apocalyptic imagery it does seem that John is describing a false prophet (16:13, 19:20) articulating "satanically-manipulated ideologies", Richardson, false ideologies which enliven and empower the first beast, the spawn of Satan, the Red Dragon. The secular city, Babylon, is energized by political power (the first beast), and false ideology (the second beast), and together they are God-like; who else can reign down fire from heaven (v13), or make an idol speak (v15)? In unison, their corrupted power is turned onto the offspring of the woman (the Christian community) in the form of violent persecution, v15, or more likely, economic persecution, v17 - without the mark of the beast, 666, a person is unable to trade.

We are only just beginning to see this scenario played out in Western societies with the teachings of Christ slowly replaced by a Marxian secular humanism, eg., when it comes to training, or being employed in the area of social work, conservative believers are now being vetted on their attitudes toward today's progressive ethics.

 

The sign of the beast - 666: In "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"", Douglas Adams poses a riddle, namely, the meaning of life, and he asks us to see if we agree with his reckoning, a reckoning which turns out to be 42 - although even that was wrong when you added it up! John concludes the vision of the second beast with an apocalyptic riddle, by which he asks the reader whether they agree with his reckoning that the beast aligns the number of a man, namely, 666. John encourages those with noun, "understanding" to apply "wisdom" in order to yhfisatw, "calculate, reckon, figure out" (cf., Lk.14:28), and conclude that the beast is identified by the human number 666 - "the number of a man, is the number of it, namely, 666."

Although "we must remain uncertain regarding the actual meaning of 666" (Osborne), there are four main approaches to the interpretation of this number.

Gematria: At the top of the list is the suggestion that John is resorting to the ancient Hebrew art of Gematria, the linking of names with numbers where the first nine letters of the alphabet align with the numbers 1 to 9, the next nine 10 to 90, and so on. In this methodology Jesus ends up with the number 888, a supreme number over the perfect number 777. When Nero Caesar is translated from Greek to Hebrew, his number works out to be 666. Interestingly, when it is translated from Latin to Hebrew it works out to be 616, and there is a variant reading for that number. At least this indicates a knowledge of Gematria in the early church. Most commentators think that John has a Nero type (a representative antiChrist) in mind, rather than Nero himself. This interpretation is accepted by a wide range of commentators, eg., Sweet, Bauckham, Aune, Osborne, Yarbro Collins, Koester, Reddish... It should be noted that none of the Church Fathers linked Nero with the number of the beast 666, so it was obviously 42 to them. Mounce actually thinks that John intended "only his intimate associates to be able to decipher the number." If this is the case, he was very successful. On the basis of Gematria, numerous historical figures have been identified as the antiChrist over the years, eg., the Kaiser, Hitler, ...... Bauckham is probably on the mark when he argues that John has indeed used Gematria, but only to identify that the word BEAST equals 666 (when translated from Greek to Hebrew); he/it is the BEAST and he/it is 666.

Apocalyptic Symbolism: The perfect number 7 with the superlative number 3, gives us 777, a number for God, a number for perfection. The human number is 666, created on the sixth day, the day before the seventh day, the day God finished his work of creation, which ultimately leads to the eighth day when God and the Lamb are all in all. The beast whose number is 666, is an entity striving to be at least 777, or better 888 (Christ's number), but is never able to make it. John uses quite a few numbers in his Revelation and they all serve a symbolic purpose, and so it is most likely that 666 serves this end rather than providing us with an esoteric mathematical puzzle. The number 666 "stands for those human and secular forces, including the Romes of any period, which are oppressive and unjust, and seek to dethrone the Creator and enthrone the creature", Smalley, "the beast is the supreme representative of unregenerate humanity, separated from God and unable to achieve divine likeness. ...... The triple six emphasizes that the beast and his followers fall short of God's creative purposes for humanity", Beale, so also Blount, Richardson, Wilcock, Strelan, (contra, A Collins, Numerical Symbolism, who argues that 6 is not an incomplete number, but conveys wholeness). So, the number 666 serves to remind us that the beast from the bog (the antiChrist) is a human construct "who falls as far short of being the true deliverer of mankind as the Christ of God exceeds all the hopes of man for a redeemer", Beasley-Murray.

BEAST is 666, the significance of which is not the number, but its human nature, something which the person with insight can easily reckon. The secular city / Babylon is an insidious mix of political power and ideology (the beast from sea + the beast from the land). It may look like a God-like construct, but it is a flawed human construct (infected by the Red Dragon), constantly emerging from the bog of history in the guise of a savior, but little more than a tyrant, an antiChrist. All too often it is personalized in a megalomanic like Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Mao, ..... It is ariqmoV anqrwpou, "'the number of humanity', the sum of human depravity", Beale.

Pythagorean arithmetic: This is a great approach for those who love mathematics, but it is very unlikely to be employed by a prophet who is writing to people whose math's is limited to addition and subtraction. See Bauckham for an explanation of the method and how it can be used to calculate that Nero is the beast with the number 666.

Chronology: Some commentators, usually dispensational, have identified 666 as a period of time during which the beast / antiChrist will reign, usually as an organizational entity, eg., Islam, the Papacy, ....

 

The intention of the Greek tense: In v1-8 the aorist tense dominates the narrative, but in v11-18 the present tense dominates. Why has John changed to a narrative / historical present? Osborne suggests that John wants to lock this vision into the present time-frame, but, as Mathewson argues, "the imperfective aspect describes and foregrounds the action as of particular significance for the readers", p.178 (Smalley argues that John's use of the present tense "switches the audience into action, and speeds up the immediacy and pace of the dramatic narrative"). We could argue that the first beast (political power, the secular state as an entity) is dangerous enough, but it is the second beast (corrupted pseudo-religious motivators, societal shibboleths, grounding political and societal philosophy) that is far more dangerous. For the sake of apocalyptic imagery, they are separate entities, but in the end they become a single corporate entity. In John's experience, the beasts are the Roman state, but the real danger was not so much persecution by the Roman state, but the subtle danger of secularization as the Christian community sought to maintain its place in society at large by adopting the values and ideals of their pagan community (eating meat offered to idols, etc.,). The second beast is extremely dangerous because "it speaks like a dragon." So together the beasts, at the direction of the Red Dragon, present as Babylon the secular city, the AntiChrist. Note that some commentators argue that the AntiChrist is an actual person serving as a functionary of Babylon; see Osborne.

 

v] Homoletics:

"And so they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name", Rev.13:17.

In 2020 there was an interesting example of a restriction of trade on a believer which played out in the courts between a rugby union player, Israel Folau, and Rugby Australia. Folau is a lay preacher and has a following on social media where he presents his take on the gospel. Early in 2019 he presented a list of sinners who, unless they repent, will go to Hell. Included in the list were homosexuals. I was on the list, as was the rest of humanity, a prompt which served to remind me that it is but by the grace of God in Christ that I am saved. At this point Folau came head on with the issue of inclusion and the contractual demands of Rugby Australia. Rugby Australia responded by canceling his contract.

It is certainly true that Folau needed to be a bit more sensitive in preaching the gospel; he should follow the example of Christ rather than John the Baptist - note how Jesus handles the woman taken in adultery, cf., Jn.8. When it comes to preaching the gospel, Jesus is gentle with sinners, but harsh on the self-righteous. Folau should have distinguished between homosexuals and homosexual sex - the act is sinful, not the state. Heterosexuals who busy themselves pulling the specks out of the eyes of homosexuals should always remember the logs floating in their own eyes: lust, premarital sex, affairs, divorce and remarriage, cf., Matt.5:27-30. None-the-less, Folau proudly bears the mark of Christ, not the mark of the Beast, and so he experienced the economic consequences of wearing the wrong mark in Babylon.

 
Text - 13:11

The beast from the land, 13:11-18: i] John describes the beast from the land as a being which presents as an innocent lamb, but is really a fork-tongued beast. Like Daniel 7:3, the first beast arose from the sea, and like Daniel 7:17, this beast arises from the land. John's apocalyptic imagery for the first beast probably serves to represent political power, the secular state. In John's experience, Rome was the Babylon / the secular city of his day. John uses similar apocalyptic imagery for the second beast to represent the cult / ideology of the state. In partnership, the two beasts represent the antiChrist, the beast from the bog, cf., 15:2. Of course, numerous interpretations are offered for the second beast, eg., it represents leaders of the imperial cult (Koester), provincial councils (Blount), the secular priesthood of Rome (Beasley-Murray, Barclay, Yarbro Collins), believers who have adopted pagan worship, ..... Yet, a more symbolic approach to the vision is safer. Michaels suggests a church and state arrangement, "the beast from the sea is a secular political power, while the beast from the earth is a religious institution fostering worship of the first beast." Yet, even that is probably too specific; the second beast is likely to represent the plethora of quasi-religious institutions that make up the secular state, from the media, its educational bodies, all the way through to societal shibboleths.

kai "then" - and. Transitional. Here serving instead of de to indicate a step in the narrative.

anabainon (anabainw) pres. part. "coming" - rising up. The participle serves as the complement of the direct object "beast", standing in a double accusative construction.

ek + gen. "out of" - from [the earth]. Expressing source / origin.

eicen (ecw) "it had" - it was having. The use of an imperfect here is unexpected. Mathewson makes the point that the imperfect tense is used to isolate the description of the beast from the narrative present tense description of the action. He makes this argument against Osborne's suggestion that the imperfect is used to emphasize durative aspect, namely, "the ongoing nature of the beast."

oJmoia adj. "like" - [horns] like. Comparative adjective. The description is rather illusive. John could be focusing on the horns such that he wants us to see the animal as dangerous. Given that a lamb would inevitably have two horns (even the Passover Lamb is sometimes described as having two horns), then John may be making the point that this beast is a sheep in wolfs clothing; on the outside as gentle as a lamb, but on the inside full of lies. "It looked like a lamb, but sounded like a dragon."

arniw (on) dat. "a lamb" - Dative complement of "like".

wJV "like [a dragon]" - Comparative.

 
v12

ii] The works of the beast, v12-13. Through blasphemous lies, the godless trinity of the Red Dragon and the two beasts exercise Satanic authority for the worship of the creature rather than the creator. To confirm its authority it performs signs that were performed by the great-ones of the past.

tou ... qhriou (on) gen. "of the [first] beast" - [it exercises all the authority] of the [first] beast. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "all the authority which is possessed by / is characteristic of the first beast", but possibly verbal, subjective, "all the authority exercised by the first beast." This authority is presumably delegated by the Red Dragon, an authority equal to that of the first beast, and exercised on its behalf. Consequently, the first beast is worshipped. Together they constitute a kind of godless trinity. "It worked for the beast whose fatal wound had been healed. And it used all its authority to force the earth and its people to worship that beast", CEV.

enwpion + gen. "on [its] behalf" - before it. Here with the particular representative sense "by the authority of, on behalf of", BAGD 5c.

touV ... katoikountaV (katoikew) pres. part. "[and its] inhabitants" - [and it makes the earth and] the ones dwelling [in it]. The participle serves as a substantive. The inclusive idea of "the earth and its inhabitants" caught up in doing obeisance to the beast, means "the totality of the human race, in opposition to God", Smalley. Those persevering in faith are obviously not included.

iJna + fut. "[worship the first beast]" - that [they will worship the first beast]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of cause, expressing what the beast poiei, "makes, causes", the people to do, namely "to worship" = "worship the first beast."

tou qanatou (oV) gen. "fatal [wound]" - [whose wound] of death [of him was healed]. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, as NIV. Note the redundant autou, "of him." As already noted, the healed fatal wound probably indicates that the beast has been in and out of trouble many times - put down, but up again. A more specific interpretation is unlikely, but some commentators do align it with Nero who, after his reported death, was believed by some to have survived his suicide. For the Nero legend see Koester p570.

 
v13

iJna + subj. "[it performed great signs]" - [and it does great signs] that [and it should cause fire out of heaven]. Here the hina clause is epexegetic, specifying the "great signs" in mind, namely, fire coming down out of heaven, so Osborne, Beale, .... Beale notes that the infinitive could be functioning like wJste, expressing result, "so that", but Mathewson argues that such is illogical. The NIV takes the conjunction kai as ascensive, "even", and the preposition ek, "from" as expressing source / origin. The beast's authority is confirmed by signs that were performed by the great-ones of the past, and with these it deceives humanity. Abraham, David, Solomon, and Elijah are recorded calling fire down from heaven.

katabainein (katabainw) pres. inf. "to come down" - to come down [to earth before mankind]. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of cause, expressing what the beast poih/, "does" = "makes", the fire do; "he causes fire to come down", Mathewson. And this enwpion, "before / in full view of / in front of", the people. Note that the accusative subject of the infinitive is pur, "fire" - being neuter the accusative form is the same as the nominative.

 
v14

iii] The achievements of the beast, v14-15. On behalf of the beast from the sea, and with the authority and power of the Red Dragon, the beast from the land leads humanity astray and into idolatry. It seduces by signs, enlivening the image of the beast from the land, empowering its dictates and persecuting those who will give their allegiance to it. Such is the power of the secular city. Beale notes that the seducing power of the beast is not just confined to the secular world, but also operates within the Christian community. The unholy trinity (the Red Dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the land) is embodied in secular authority set against God. It promotes "injustice and error, falsehood and compromise, inside the Church as well as throughout the society which surrounds it", Smalley.

dia + acc. "because of [the signs]" - [and it deceives the ones dwelling on the earth] because of [the signs]. The preposition is causal, "because of", but some interpreters argue that it is instrumental, expressing means, given that the accusative at this point in time is blending into the genitive, so Mounce; "by means of the wonders", Berkeley.

autw/ dat. pro. "it [was given]" - [which was = were given] to it. Dative of indirect object. Again the passive edoqh, "was given", is viewed as a divine passive, "God does the giving", but surely it is the Red Dragon who does the giving.

poihsai (poiew) aor, inf. "was allowed to perform" - to do = perform. The function of the infinitive is unclear. Many translations assume a main verb, so making the infinitive complementary; "it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast", ESV, as NIV. It may be epexegetic, specifying the sign, namely a sign that is performed before the beast. Mathewson suggests that it is adverbial, final, expressing purpose; the sign was given "in order to perform before the beast." It is possibly related to the participle legwn, "saying", so introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech; "it deceives those dwelling on the earth because of the signs which were given to it, saying to those who dwell on the earth, make an image to the beast who has the wound from a sword but lives, and perform before it / the beast."

enwpion + gen. "on behalf of [the first beast]" - before [the beast]. Spacial, "before, in the presence of", although the NIV assumes representation here, "on behalf of."

legwn (legw) pres. part. "it ordered" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to deceive", "and it deceives ........ and says", or adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the deception, "it deceives ......, saying ..." Note again John's practice of introducing a visionary statement with the participle "saying; see legwn 1:17.

toiV katoikousin (katoikew) dat. pres. part. "them" - the ones dwelling [upon the earth]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object.

poisai aor. inf. "to set up" - to do = make [an image]. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the beast instructed the people on earth to do, namely, to set up an idol.

tw/ qhriw/ (on) dat. "in honor of the beast" - to the beast. The NIV takes the dative as a dative of interest, advantage; "for the beast."

thV macairhV (a) gen. "[who was wounded] by the sword" - [who has the wound] of the sword [and lives]. The NIV opts for an ablative genitive, instrumental, expressing means, "by means of the sword", but possibly adjectival, attributive, "sword wound", even idiomatic, "the wound which was delivered by the sword." The presence of the article is probably anaphoric, referring back to 6:4, namely, the large sword wielded by the red horseman, the sword of war. Conflict is something the beast knows well, constantly put down by violence, but back again for another dose. Such is Babylon, the secular city - empires come and go in violence.

 
v15

autw/ dat. pro. "the second beast [was given power]" - [and to give breath / spirit to the image of the beast was given] to it. Dative of indirect object. Note again the passive edoqh, "it was given [to him]." Again John is reflecting the passive language found in Daniel. Such heightens the mystery of the vision, but doesn't give us the authority to claim that God is the agent of the giving.

dounai (didwmi) aor. inf. "to give [breath]" - The infinitive serves as the subject of the passive verb "was given" "The notion of breathing life into the ikon of the beast is a satanic parody of the gift of God's Spirit to believers", Smalley. John is reflecting the pagan belief of the time that idols could perform signs - sweat, move, speak. A hoax was the likely cause, but sorcery would not be far away. None-the-less, John is using apocalyptic imagery to reveal something of the nature of Babylon itself, not idols as such. The unholy trinity manifests itself in the secular city, Babylon (the beast from the sea), a god-like entity demanding allegiance, cf., Dan.3:4-6.

th/ eikoni (wn onoV) dat. "to the image" - Dative of indirect object.

tou qhriou (on) "of the first beast" - of the beast. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, serving to identify a characteristic quality (the beast is characterized by its image), or idiomatic; "the image which represents the beast."

iJna + subj. "so that [the image could speak]" - that [even the image of the beast might speak and might cause]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that ....", as NIV.

iJna + subj. "-" - that [as many as would not worship the image of the beast might be killed]. Variant reading, but if original it serves to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of cause expressing what the image is enabled to do, namely, "that those who would not worship the image of the beast might be slain." It is interesting to note that refusal to worship imperial statues was regarded as a criminal offense and this was used to identify Christians during times of persecution.

o{soi ean + subj. "all who" - as many as. The pronoun o{soi with an serves to introduce an indefinite relative clause standing as the subject of the verb "might be killed"; "whoever ........"

th/ eikoni (wn onoV) dat. "[refuse to worship] the image" - [would not worship] the image. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to fall down before / do obeisance / worship."

 
v16

iv] The division of humanity with the mark of the beast, v16-17. The beast from the bog (the AntiChrist, Babylon, the secular city) demands allegiance from its followers and stamps them accordingly with the mark of a fallen world. The ones who persevere in faith, those marked with the seal of God and the Lamb, those who resist the branding of the AntiChrist / Babylon, are deprived of full participation ("could not buy or sell") because they refuse to belong to the beast.

kai "[it] also [forced]" - and [it does = causes]. Adjunctive; "also".

pantaV adj. "all people" - all [the small and the great]. The adjective serves as a substantive, with "the small and the great ......" standing in apposition, specifying the "all".

kai .... kai .. "-" - and [the rich] and [the poor] and [the free] and [the slaves]. Correlative construction; "both .... and ...." John lists the various stratum of society and makes the point that no one is free from the beast's influence.

iJna + subj. "to receive" - that [they may give to them]. Here introducing an object clause / dependent statement of cause expressing what the beast poiei, "does = causes", namely, that all humanity be marked; "it forced all people .... to have a mark on the right hand or the forehead", Peterson.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - to them. Dative of indirect object.

epi + gen. "[a mark] on [their right hands]" - [a mark] on [the right hand of them or] on [the forehead of them]. John's favorite spacial preposition, "on, upon." The apocalyptic image of a mark, a tattoo, to indicate ownership, is probably drawn from the practice of tattooing, or branding, slaves. Doing so on the forehead was a mark of disgrace, indicating a previous indiscretion , eg., an attempted escape.

 
v17

kai "-" - and. Coordinative, linking the two hina clauses; the beast causes that people are to be marked (v16)and that they are not able to buy or sell unless they have the mark.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [no one should be able to buy or to sell]. As in v16, introducing a second dependent statement, although often translated as a purpose clause. "And there was another thing it poiei ("causes") , that no one should be allowed to buy or to sell except those bearing the mark of the beast", Cassirer.

agorasai (agorizw) aor. inf. "[could not] buy [or sell]" - As with "to sell", complementary infinitive completing the sense of the negated verb "to be able." It is unclear whether John is alluding to a boycott on trade with Christians. Trade guilds often had a religious element to them and there may be examples where traders refused to sell to the Christian community. Yet, we are best to view John's description as "an imaginary situation", Smalley - all part of John's apocalyptic imagery. In the days between Christ's ascension and his return, the secular world will harass the Christian community.

ei mh "unless" - except. Introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception.

oJ ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "they had [the mark]" - the one having [the mark]. The participle serves as a substantive.

to onoma (a atoV) acc. "which is the name" - the name. Here an accusative of apposition, serving to explain "the mark, stamp, tattoo", as NIV. The tattoo on those who worship the beast consists of the name of the beast, h], "or", the number of the name of the beast. Of course the number 666 is the name "Beast".

tou qhriou (oV) gen. "of the beast" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

tou onomatoV (a atoV) gen. "[the number] of [his] name" - [or the number] of the name [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, possibly epexegetic, explaining "the number" by specifying it, "the number, that is / namely, its name", although idiomatic may be closer to John's intentions, "the number which represents its name." The name is the name of the first beast, with the second beast, the beast from the land, serving as a subordinate enforcer, compelling everyone to be branded with the first beast's mark.

 
v18

v] A word to the wise, v18. As with the conclusion of the vision of the first beast, "whoever has ears, let them hear", v9, John again concludes with a call for wise discernment - obviously directed to the Christian community. Given the powerful ministry of the second beast on behalf of the first beast, seducing humanity to worship the first beast and identifying its servants with a tattoo, leading to the harassment and murder of those who are not tattooed with the beast's name or number, then let the Christian community come together and figure out the beast's mark, the number / name that identifies the beast and those who worship him. John tells us that the beast's actual number is 666, as calculated by using Gematria. Yet, how does the Christian community identify the beast and his followers. John gives us a clue to help us "calculate" / figure-out the meaning of the "number" / identifier, namely, it is a human one; it represents humanity in its fallen / corrupted state - corrupt human society. The beast, the AntiChrist, is easily recognized; he is all around us, in every work-place, university, TV show, newspaper, political party, ...... he is the corrupt secular city; see below.

w|de adv. "this [calls for wisdom]" - here [is wisdom]. This adverb serves as the subject of the verb to-be estin, referencing either back or forward - Osborne thinks it is backward referencing, while Mathewson thinks it is forward referencing. Wisdom is evident in the person who has noun, "understanding"; they will take the trouble of calculate the number of the beast, know him for who he is and so keep an eye on him, cf., Dan.12:10.

oJ exwn (ecw) pres. part. "[let] the person who has [insight]" - the one having [mind = understanding]. The participle serves as a substantive.

yhfisatw (yhfizw) aor. imp. "let .... calculate" - let him calculate [the number of the beast]. Literally the verb means to count up, or calculate something. This sense is supported by those who think that John wants his readers to use Gematria to align the historical person who is the antiChrist with the number 666. Yet it is probably used here with the sense "to come to understand the meaning of something by figuring it out"* "You need to get together and figure out the meaning behind the beast's identifier. And I'll give you a hint, it's a human one." The ariqmoV, "number", can just be a number, or the sum of something. As such, the beast's number 666 serves here as an identifier of the beast, in much the same way as we identify a product with a bar-code, or a generic symbol, or some other product identifier. It is interesting to note that on an early Bank Card there was a line of three lower case "b"s, "bbb", easily read as "666". It could be argued that credit cards have become a kind of antiChrist!

tou qhriou (on) gen. "of the beast" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

gar "for" - Here introducing an explanatory clause, rather than causal; "this is a human one / an identifier which is a human one."

anqrwpou (oV) gen. "of a man" - [it is] of a man. The genitive may be possessive, but it seems more likely to be attributive, limiting "number", so "a human number." For those commentators who hold that the beast / antiChrist is a person and can be identified by using Gematria to decode the number 666, then the genitive is possessive, "of a man" as NIV; see Osborne, Aune, Blount, "a wise person is able to calculate the number of the beast because it equals the number of a person's name." Those giving weight to apocalyptic imagery take anqrwpou in a generic sense, "human", and the genitive as attributive, "a human number / identifier"; "a number of (fallen) humanity", Beale. Smalley takes an interesting line, arguing that "the number is humanly calculable", cf., 21:17.

exakasioi exhkonta ex "666" - [and the number of it is] six hundred and sixty six. Those supporting the view that the number represents a person make much of the masculine person of the number, but it is likely to have been attracted to the masculine noun ariqmoV, "number", so Aune. At this point Gematria applies because as Bauckham argues, qhrion, "beast", when translated into Hebrew, trywn, has the numerical value of 666. The beast's number is indeed 666 = "BEAST". But more importantly, it is a "human" number in that it represents humanity in its fallen / corrupted state, and such is easily recognizable, easily ariqmon, "reckoned" by a person with insight. The beast is corrupted human society, the secular city. As noted above, the number for the emperor Nero also works out at 666 using the same methodology, although it is unclear whether John intends this link. Nero certainly was a BEAST, and many have followed him and will follow him. The Beast is Babylon, the secular city, godless human society.

 

Revelation Introduction

 

[Pumpkin Cottage]
lectionarystudies.com