The Mark Of The Beast

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Calvin Cormier

Puritan Board Freshman

If it were possible even the very elect would be deceived.

Sir Isaac Newton wrote more on Bible prophecy than on his scientific findings. He said:

“If God was so angry with the Jews for not searching more diligently into the prophecies which He had given them to know Christ by, why should we think He will excuse us for not searching into the prophecies which He hath given us to know Antichrist by?”

Newton had no doubts as to the identity of Antichrist and the Whore of Babylon … that is, the Church of Rome and its pope.

In Newton’s mind, the task of the scholar was to show that biblical prophecies had been fulfilled in historical events. One could know, however, only AFTER the event, and it was not for the student of prophecy to become a prophet … until the event occurred, the prophecies pertaining to it could well remain obscure. This was an important point for Newton … all would become clear in due course.


And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (This was literally fulfilled during the papal Inquisition and the “dark ages”).

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. Rev 13:15-16.

The interpretation:

The “mark” is literal and it is visible. Christianity sees it but does not perceive it.

When was the last time you saw a Roman Catholic make the mark of the cross with his left hand? This sign, always made with the right hand, identifies the papal beast and his followers.

With his RIGHT hand the Roman Catholic priest places the mark upon the forehead of its infants at baptism, and when the wood fires are burnt on Ash Wednesday, he uses the ashes to place the mark on the forehead of the adult followers of the beast.


The Reformation saints and martyrs had warned us about the errors of Romanism … were Christians deaf … or were they deceived? If it were possible even the very elect would be deceived.

Let no man deceive you by any means; for (that day shall not come) except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.

Who opposeth and exaltheth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God shewing himself that he is God … and now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed IN HIS TIME …And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. 2 Thess 2.

It is a well documented fact that more than a few popes have claimed to be “God On Earth”. Just as each pope today claims to be the
Vicar Of Christ … “in place of Christ” … “instead of Christ”.

According to the Council of Trent, the Church of Rome states that this mark is alleged to be indelible, given through the sign of the cross on the subject’s forehead by the right hand of the priest or bishop.

Coincidence or prophecy fulfilled?

Current alternatives … a bar code? a computer chip? I think not.

Students of prophecy, consider what the saints and martyrs of the Reformation had to say about the papacy and the religion of Rome.

Rand Winburn Protestant Reformation Publisher, asked the following:

“My question to the sincere Roman Catholic readership of this message board is, What other religious organization on the face of planet earth utilizes, as a fundamental part of its religious rites and observances, a self-professed indelible MARK on the soul given in the forehead by the right hand of the priest?”

To God Be The Glory For Great Things He Hath Done.
Hello Calvin – welcome to PB!

With regard to the Roman Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox?) making “the sign of the cross” or the implanting of a micro-chip under the skin of the hand or forehead (as the thought of some is), and these being candidates for “the mark of the beast” of Revelation 13:

1) The historicist view you posit would make only Roman Catholics (and EO?) those who bear “the mark of the beast”. But this cannot be, for the beast was extant and active long before the Roman counterfeit “church”, and is extant and active now apart from Rome.

2) The view that the “beast” is only the papacy, and the antichrist is only the pope would invalidate much Biblical truth. For instance, there were “beast from the sea” manifestations in the apostle John’s day, namely the Caesars and the antichristian Roman Empire, and in the centuries following, whenever there were antichristian persecuting governments.

3) A good – and necessary – interpretive approach to understanding the Book of Revelation is that almost everything in it should be understandable to and applicable to the churches in the first century (and early second), for it was initially written to them (the seven letters of chapters 2 and 3, for example). The Lord gave the prophecy of Revelation to comfort the young churches, many of whom were under persecution of some sort by the Roman authorities or their proxies in the local governments of Asia Minor, or the local trade guilds. Back then slaves were often branded or tattooed on the forehead or hand as a sign of ownership, so it was understood back then that such a mark meant one was owned by someone. But it was also meant to be considered symbolically, even for those who were not literally branded or marked somehow: a “mark on the forehead” would signify one’s thoughts and mental allegiance were given to a certain person or entity; a “mark on the hand” would signify one’s actions were in behalf of that person or entity. So a person who gave their allegiance – both in their minds and by their actions – to the “beast” of the Roman Empire (a persecuting antichristian government) would be considered in the sight of God to have the mark of the beast, and to be its follower, even if they had no outward mark. God, on the other hand, did not “mark” His people, but set a seal upon them of protection and ownership; this seal is also invisible – but God sees it (although baptism as a seal of the covenant is visible)! There is a big difference between the mark of the beast and the seal of God!

My point is, what is written in the book of Revelation would have to make sense to the churches John wrote to, whether we are talking of the Roman Catholic’s “sign of the cross” or the dispensationalist’s micro-chips; neither would have been understood in the 1st and 2nd centuries. The relevance of the book to the early church cannot be ignored. Now is it possible that – accepting what I have already written about the early church – the sign of the cross could indeed signify a member of the antichristian harlot Babylon, and a government in our times could require the implanting of such chips in our day. It is possible, and the technology does exist. The RFID technology is being pushed by some. However, if one thinks that having a chip is the only way to have the mark of the beast, then one has been deceived into looking out for the wrong thing – for one may not have a chip and yet have the mark of the beast in their mental allegiance and their actions! There is a danger in thinking it is only the literal thing and not the often unseen realities of the heart and actions! And one may not make the sign of the cross and still in mental allegiance and actions belong to the beast, if we understand the beast to be persecuting governments hostile to Christ and His people.

It should also be said that there are born-again people in the “church” of Rome (yes, they should get out of her), but if these make the sign of the cross, does this automatically make them partakers of the mark of the beast? And what about the same in the Orthodox churches? There are converts from Greek and Russian orthodoxy to evangelical churches, and if these still make the sign of the cross, does this make them beast-followers? I don’t believe it.

With regard to the chips you mention, every Christian, having read Revelation, will be wary of ever receiving an implantable chip. However, if one does innocently receive one, and then comes to believe it an offense to God, he will very likely be able to just have it cut out and removed. I think it true that a chip does not cancel our salvation by Christ – nothing can separate us from Him, or snatch us out of His hand. Though His followers will be very careful about where our true allegiance lies, and what signs we may give that confirm or deny it. Back in the Roman days, the authorities would make one burn incense to Caesar and call him Lord – and this was understood by the church as in one’s heart having the mark of the beast. Some professing Christians – from fear of death or torture – would deny Christ and sacrifice to Caesar, but later repent. The churches had different views of this: some would forgive and receive such again, and some would not. We need to be on guard so as not to betray our Lord in a moment of weakness. While there is repentance, some Christians will be doubtful as to its sincerity. Especially when those who did not deny Christ paid with their lives. Some who did deny, and later repented, went back to the authorities and said they were Christians after all – and paid the price (but were glad they did).

There may be some things in Revelation that were not at all clear to the early churches, such as things pertaining to the end of the last days – which may be the times were in now (not stating that dogmatically, though). There was a manifestation of Babylon then (Rome, and also the God-opposing cultures), and there is a present-day manifestation. As the time draws nearer to the end, we may have insights into the symbols of Revelation that they did not have then. Newton was right on that score – that only after the events prophesied came to pass could we with certainty identify them – but let’s not end discernment of prophecies fulfilled with Rome, for there are other manifestations of wicked seducing Babylon, and the murderous saint-slaying beast in our own day, and if we limit fulfillment to Rome and popes we will be flying blind in the gathering storms of the 21st century.
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Steve, is it possible that part of Revelation is intended to an unrevealed mystery until the end of the age?

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Steve, I understand your point that the book of Revelation must have some kind of meaning to the original audience. Yet my question is along the lines of Bill's question: Doesn't prophecy also have a primary (or perhaps 'fuller') meaning for future generations than that which the original audience would have had? I am thinking specifically of the prophecies in Daniel. Those prophecies had a meaning to the original audience, but weren't those meanings much more fully understood and primarily intended for those who would come later? It is very likely that many within the original audience of Daniel tried to discern (or even guess) what the Four Beasts in Daniel's vision were. Perhaps some of the original audience simply tossed up their hands and said that they have no clue who exactly the four beasts are supposed to be (only that they represent four empires/kingdoms). So in that sense, the full meaning of Daniel could only be discerned by a later generation. So even though there was a meaning that the original audience could understand, they could only understand vaguely, never fully. It seems that God intended for the full meaning to be understood by a generation much later than that of Daniel's generation. Thoughts?
Hello Bill,

If I remember aright, you are Historic Premil. You asked, “Steve, is it possible that part of Revelation is intended to [remain] an unrevealed mystery until the end of the age?” I think the answer to that would be Yes, for there are many things yet unclear to us now in the 21[SUP]st[/SUP] century. Such things as pertain to the New Jerusalem and the new heaven and the new earth (in Rev 21 and 22) are still very mysterious. Also the relation between the harlot Babylon and the beast in Rev 17: why does the beast and its confederacy of nations turn against the harlot and destroy her (Rev 17:16-17), and what will this consist of / look like?

Nor can we yet discern just how the devil will influence and gather the nations to attack the world-wide church (Rev 20:7-9). And there are other things that remain shrouded in mystery.

I repeat the words of Geerhardus Vos,

[The prophecy of Antichrist] “belongs among the many prophecies, whose best and final exegete will be the eschatological fulfillment, and in regard to which it behooves the saints to exercise a peculiar kind of eschatological patience.” (The Pauline Eschatology, p. 133)​

Then again, Bill, is it possible we are very near the end of the age? Likely from a premil view you would answer No, but from my amil view it is quite possible.


Hi Eric,

You asked, “Doesn't prophecy also have a primary (or perhaps 'fuller') meaning for future generations than that which the original audience would have had?” Rather than use the term primary or fuller, I would say double or multiple fulfillments.

On this phenomenon of prophetic foreshortening, also referred to as double or multiple fulfillment of prophecy, William Hendriksen puts this clearly:

By the process of prophetic foreshortening, by means of which before one’s eyes the widely separated mountain peaks of historic events merge and are seen as one, as has been explained in connection with 10:23 and 16:28, two momentous events are here intertwined, namely, a. the judgment upon Jerusalem (its fall in the year A.D. 70), and b. the final judgment at the close of the world’s history. Our Lord predicts the city’s approaching catastrophe as a type of the tribulation at the end of the dispensation. Or, putting it differently, in describing the brief period of great tribulation at the close of history, ending with the final judgment, Jesus is painting in colors borrowed from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, pp. 846-7

From what immediately follows [Matt 24:21, 22] it is evident once again that for Jesus the transition from the second to the third application of Daniel’s prediction was as easy as that from the first (the tribulation experienced by God’s people during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes) to the second (the distress in connection with the fall of Jerusalem . . . [see vv. 21 and 22] . . . As to the “great tribulation” to which Jesus here refers, care should be exercised. Rev. 7:14 also speaks about a “great tribulation.” Are these two the same? The answer is: they are not. As the context in Revelation 7 indicates, the word is used there in a far more general sense. Because of his faith every genuine child of God experiences tribulation during his life on earth. See John 16:33; cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17; 2 Tim 3:12. But Jesus is here speaking about a tribulation that will characterize “those days,” a tribulation that has never been and never again shall be, a very brief period of dire distress that shall occur immediately before his return (see verses 29-31). It is the period mentioned also in Rev. 11:7-9; 20:3b, 7-9a. For the sake of God’s chosen ones... in order that not all might have to die a violent death, the days of the final tribulation shall be cut short. Herein, too, the love of God is made manifest. It should hardly be necessary to add that justice is not done to the concept of this tribulation, which immediately precedes “the end” of the world’s history and which surpasses any other distress in its intensity, if it is referred solely to the sorrows experienced during the fall of Jerusalem. (Hendriksen, ibid, pp. 859, 860)​

You are right about some things being unclear to Daniel’s contemporaries as they were not able comprehend them. And the four beasts that would later arise are a good case in point, although in Dan 8:20-21 the angel Gabriel interprets two of them: Media / Persia and Greece. Keep in mind also that Daniel was told to “shut up the vision, as it was not meant for his time (Dan 8:26). Likewise with the whole book, it was to remain sealed until “the time of the end” (Dan 12:4).

But in Revelation – the broad time of the end, the period between the first and second advents of Christ – which is the climax and fulfilling of all prophecy, we are given to see much.

On multiple fulfillments in Daniel, Kim Riddlebarger is quite edifying:

Prophetic Perspective and the Abomination of Desolation

Understanding the way in which several key prophecies regarding the Antichrist are framed in the New Testament is important to interpreting them correctly. It is my contention that several of the prophecies (especially in Daniel) regarding Antichrist and his predecessors involve double fulfillment, which simply refers to the fact that certain prophecies are fulfilled more than once. Such prophecies are usually connected to an immediate or imminent fulfillment in the lifetime of the prophet and again to a more distant fulfillment in the messianic age (at our Lord’s first or second advent). This phenomenon is also known as “prophetic perspective.” The prophet foretells what appears to be a single event in his immediate future, but as redemptive history unfolds, it becomes clear that there are multiple fulfillments of the original prophecy. This is true with the biblical data predicting the coming of an end-times foe of God’s people—the Antichrist.

Before we discuss what Jesus meant when he predicted an act of sacrilege that would bring about the desolation of the Jerusalem temple—the so-called “abomination of desolation”—we need to understand that a number of Old Testament prophecies, along with certain aspects of the prophecy Jesus uttered in the Olivet Discourse, have more than one fulfillment.

According to Herman Ridderbos, many biblical prophecies refer to “things that appear to be centuries apart in the fulfillment [and] are sometimes comprehended by Jesus’ prophecy in the same temporal frame and within the same local framework.” According to Ridderbos, such prophecy is “something different than a diary of future events. . . . The function of prophecy is consequently not that of a detailed projection of the future, but is the urgent insistence on the certainty of the things to come. This explains why, at the end of the vista, the perspective is lacking. The prophet sees all kinds of events that will come and he sees in all of them the coming of God. But he cannot fix a date for the events, he cannot distinguish all phases in God’s coming. To him it is one great reality.” (Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, 523-25)

This is an important point. The prophet is not concerned with when certain things will come to pass but with the fact that they will come to pass. Keeping this in mind as we look at the biblical datad regarding Antichrist will explain how Daniel can predict more than one event in a single prophecy—for example, the prophecy of a great blasphemer in Daniel 11, which refers to to both Antiochus IV (Dan. 11:21-35) and the Antichrist at the time of the end (Dan. 11:36-45).

A number of commentators believe that this telescoping of imminent and future fulfillment (prophetic perspective or double fulfillment) is found in several of the prophetic books of the Old Testament. It is also found in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), in which our Lord sets forth his most comprehensive teaching regarding future events. Some of these are fulfilled by the events of AD 70, while others remain to be fulfilled at the end of the age. The events associated with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple may also serve as a type (a foreshadowing) of a universal and final cataclysm (antitype) at the end of the age. The imminent desolation of the holy place (the Jerusalem temple) by the armies of Titus in AD 70, predicted by our Lord in Matthew 24:15, fulfills Daniel’s prophecy of such an event (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). But the actions of Titus’s armies actually fulfill Daniel’s prophecy a second time—Antiochus IV was the first to make the holy place desolate in 167 BC. Antiochus erected an altar to Zeus on the altar of Yahweh, and then some two hundred years later the armies of Titus started a fire in the temple before looting its sacred objects, profaning the temple and leaving it desolate a second time. This is what Daniel predicted and what Jesus restates. As Vos says, it is plain “that Jesus shaped the matter in his mind after the same fashion” as the desecration of the Jerusalem temple by Antiochus, “only he projects the horrible event from the past in which it had once taken place into a future beyond his own point of speaking.” (Vos, Pauline Eschatology, 95) But Jesus’ mention of the “abomination of desolation” may also function as a prophetic picture of what will happen at the end of the age on a universal scale in Christ’s church. If this is the case, Daniel’s prophecy is not only fulfilled by Antiochus IV’s desecration of the temple in 167 BC but again by Titus and his Roman legions in AD 70, and them possibly again on a universal scale by an end-times Antichrist.

Prophetic perspective is clearly found through the Olivet Discourse. Take, for example, our Lord’s warning to his disciples in Matthew 24:4-13, where Jesus speaks of false christs, wars and rumors of wars, famines, and earthquakes before stating in verse 14 that the gospel must be preached to the whole world as a testimony. In verses 4-13, Jesus is speaking of events that will happen in the lifetime of the disciples; then he immediately jumps ahead to the time of the end in verse 14, seen in the reference to the universal preaching of the gospel to the ends of the earth, affirming the missionary calling of Christ’s church (Matt. 28:16-20).

The same thing can be seen when Jesus speaks of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army. When Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he warns the disciples, “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone standing on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:43-44). In Luke 21:20, Jesus is even more specific about what will happen to Jerusalem: “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.” This is clearly a prophetic prediction of an imminent event within the lifetime of the disciples, namely, the Jewish War so graphically detailed by Josephus. Says Jesus, “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). That Jesus is predicting the imminent events of AD 70 and the Jewish diaspora is indisputable.

In Matthew’s account Jesus is also speaking of an imminent fulfillment when he warns his disciples about a particular aspect of the desolation coming upon Israel’s temple:

So when you see standing in the holy place “the abomination that causes desolation,” spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:15-22)​

Once again, the reference to the desolation of the temple (“the abomination that causes desolation”) and a time of unequalled distress for the city of Jerusalem is a prediction of the events of AD 70. The desolation and profanation of the temple, coupled with the siege of Jerusalem by skilled and combat-hardened Roman legions, is the worst cataclysm ever to come upon Jerusalem, and, according to Jesus, it will never be equaled again. The desolation of Israel and the dispersion of the Jews to the ends of the earth is a great tragedy.

Notice that later in that same discourse Jesus telescopes his attention to the time of the end of the age (Matt. 24:29). Only then does Jesus go on to tell his disciples, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matt. 24:30-31). Jesus speaks of an imminent event (the destruction of Jerusalem) and future events (the end of the age and his second advent) in what is a virtually seamless manner.

In light of the tension between things imminent and things future, Charles Cranfield has pointed out that “neither an exclusively historical nor an exclusively eschatological interpretation is satisfactory. . . . We must allow for a double reference, for a mingling of historical and eschatological.” (C.E.B. Cranfield, The Gospel According to Saint Mark, 401-2) Thus when Jesus speaks of an abominating sacrilege, he is likely not only predicting the events of AD 70, he may also be speaking of events that occur at the time of the end—especially if the apostle Paul is speaking of the same thing when the apostle refers to “the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thess. 2:3-4). This connection, Vos believes, enables us to draw a line from Daniel to both Jesus and Paul and provides the continuity necessary to make sense of what would otherwise be three unrelated streams of data in the New Testament regarding the Antichrist (Vos, op. cit., p. 96). This is also the view of Anthony Hoekema in his influential statement and defense of Reformed amillennialism, The Bible and the Future (pp. 137-63). This seems to make the best sense of the passage and allows us to take seriously Jesus’ utilization of prophetic perspective. (Kim Riddlebarger, The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the Antichrist, pp. 68-72)​

As the Book of Daniel is so interwoven in the prophecies of Jesus in the Gospels, and in the Book of Revelation, I want to recommend a simple, brief, and clear exposition in accord with both Riddlebarger and with the books on Revelation I spoke of in the Babylon thread, and that is Stuart Olyott’s, Dare To Stand Alone: Daniel Simply Explained. There are other excellent Reformed commentaries which go into great detail, but Olyott’s stands alone for brief, concise and sound exposition.

O.T. Allis in his book, Prophecy and the Church, wrote similarly to Vos when he said,

The usual view on this subject [“the intelligibility of prophecy”] has been that prophecy is not intended to be fully understood before its fulfilment, that it is only when God “establishes the word of his servants and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,” that the meaning and import of their words become fully manifest. (p 25)​

It is understandable some of these things have not been clearly understood by godly exegetes in the past. Yet this has often been the case before prophetic events have manifested. Clarity usually comes after the fact.

Does this answer your question?
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Steve, I'm still reading your post, but let me clarify one point. I am amil. I abandoned premil about six years ago.

Sent from my most excellent GalaxyS3
Thank you Steve for your comments.

I was a futurist for ten years so am familiar with their sensationalist claims regarding “what is going to happen”. It is evident that they have not read the works of that great student of prophecy … Isaac Newton.

Regarding the “mark”, you note in part that “the beast was extant and active long before the Roman counterfeit “church” … … …“

I would agree with you if we were discussing the first beast …Roman Empire, Nero etc. as I share some views of the partial preterist … first century time texts, 70AD etc.. but, my reference regarding the mark is to the second beast, that being the “Holy Roman Empire” and its “false prophet” (Vatican hierarchy) and its followers.

The word “vatic” means “prophet” or prophecy.

Vatic = Vatican = Prophet = False Prophet

I believe the image, mark and number apply to the second beast not the first, and hope to present a biblical and logical explanation for the image of the beast shortly. You will recall that “Pontifix Maximus” applies to both the Roman Empire caesars and to the past and present papacy.

Question: Can you (or anyone) point to a clear and compelling statement in Revelation that “proves” that the image mark and number apply to the first beast?

I can not. Personally, I believe it to be the second beast but only because of other biblical identifying evidence.

I recall asking a learned Reformed historicist and the head of a Reformed seminary that question. One said the first beast and the other said the second, but neither provided a passage in Revelation that clearly supported their view.

Regarding former Roman Catholics that have “come out of her”.
I have asked many if they still identify themselves by using that mark or sign … each and every one replied … “not any more”.

Regarding the “mark”, commentators note as possibilities a tattoo on the forehead or hand, or a mark of allegiance etc..

As students of prophecy, there are times when we may employ a “spiritual understanding” to a prophetic mystery, but for myself, I will first look for a literal and logical explanation.

God clearly specifies the right hand as being the identification, so I think we should be suspect of some suppositions of commentators that do not accurately follow the biblical description.

Rev 15 speaks of a group that has gained the victory (of understanding) over the image, mark and number singing two specific songs.

Immediately following the numbering of the beast in Rev 13:18, it speaks of a group of 144 thousands with a “new song” that others do not understand.

I believe God’s biblical number 144 to be a prophetic number.
Note that Rev 21:17 speaks about the measuring or numbering of a “wall of 144 cubits”. Not a very high wall for a city 12,000 furlongs high!

David the sweet psalmist of Israel is credited with writing 73 of the songs or psalms. Note carefully David’s Psalm 144.

It too speaks of a “new song” like that of the 144 thousands that immediately followed the numbering of the beast.

More importantly to the subject of an identifying mark on the right hand, please note David’s verses 7 and 8.

Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children … whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

And three verses later, this is repeated word for word. That in itself should cause us to pause (selah) and consider that the Church of Rome’s identifying mark may be that of the beast of Revelation.

Now, if we can biblically and historically associate the “image of the beast” with eyes and a mouth speaking great things, that (literally) dies and yet comes back to life, and connect that with the Romish “mark” on right hand, then that would leave us with solving the number.

Again, when was the last time you saw a Roman Catholic make the mark of the cross with the left hand?

David truly is … the key.
Rev 3:7.
Bill, thanks for the correction, and noting you are now amil.

Calvin, actually I see you’ve been at PB longer than I have, only haven’t posted much. And you are one of the few here who are senior to me in age – so I salute you as one possibly closer to your eternal youth than I!

You said, “Question: Can you (or anyone) point to a clear and compelling statement in Revelation that ‘proves’ that the image mark and number apply to the first beast?”

First, I think we agree regarding the first beast, the beast from the sea, being Rome, and other antichristian persecuting governments which have followed. The Idealist interpretive method posits timeless principles / dynamics which continue all through the “millennial” period between the Lord’s first and second advents, and which are governed by the Sovereign to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth. Now I am not a “consistent idealist” (I do see the sense of your terminology, Matthew W.), as I hold that other hermeneutic methods must also be used to do justice to the prophecy given to John, but – in G.K. Beale’s term – a “modified, or eclectic, idealist”.

However, if you think to invalidate the second beast, the beast arising from the earth, having a manifestation in the apostle John’s day – and that of the 1st and 2nd century church – you run afoul the standard hermeneutic which posits that John was writing first and foremost to the churches of that time, even though his vision and message is also applicable to the church up through the ages. To say there was no second beast – the one arising from the earth – in John’s day, is to say that the false prophets were not active then, but even in the seven letters we see false teachers; therefore the second beast aka “false prophet” (Rev 16:13; 19:20; 20:10) existed in John’s day, and manifested in many forms up through the church age.

What the second beast / false prophet did was lead people to give their allegiance to the state, which is the first beast. Sometimes the two beasts were almost merged in their separate functions, yet they had distinct identities. I would surely agree that Catholic Rome was a (but not the) manifestation of both a false prophet and an antichrist. The original Westminster Standards mandate the identification of pope as antichrist, though the American revision has removed that part of the WS. Which is a good thing, as we do not want to be flying blind – bound to an old and time-limited ID – in the perilous days to come, and which are even now. Otherwise we are liable to be blind-sided and taken by surprise.

The first and second beasts work together as Satan’s tools of coercion and deception. It is gaining allegiance to the first beast (#1) that is the primary function of the second beast (#2); the image #2 makes is that of #1, and through the power of #1 (Rev 13:12) both leads them to worship and be punished if they don’t. It’s not his (#2’s) own mark he puts on people, but the one he serves and in whose power he operates. Not that it makes a lot of difference, except perhaps in your take on the matter. It is not the deception/deceiver who is the object of worship, but the self-deifying state. It is the allegiance to the state in thought and deed that is the mark.

There is no doubt that the “Holy Roman Empire” was a death-dealing manifestation of the beast #1, and its teachers/priests/apologists were beast #2. But there were manifestations of this dynamic before it, and there are such now, which were and are other than Catholic Rome.

You also said, Calvin, “As students of prophecy, there are times when we may employ a ‘spiritual understanding’ to a prophetic mystery, but for myself, I will first look for a literal and logical explanation.” Why is that? By what hermeneutic warrant do you so proceed?

I think your use of Psalm 144 is stretching it. I agree that the number 144 (12[SUP]2[/SUP]) is a number with symbolic meaning, but one must be careful not to get carried away on flights of fancy.

I do thank you for your etymological view of the word “Vatican” and tying it to the Latin vates (a word with which I am familiar), being a poet in the school of Christ’s seers. That gives new meaning to the arrogance of Rome.

I do appreciate you putting your eschatological views out for critique – a sort of peer review – as that keeps us on our toes.
Steve, I appreciate your teaching role in this thread. It is helpful to me. When I abandoned dispensational premil I latched on to historic premil as a sort of eschatological purgatory. I had nowhere else to go at first. I could not (and still cannot) come to peace with postmil. Amil seems to be a place for me to hang my hat; but honestly, I'm kind of sticking my finger up in the wind. I really do need to flesh out my eschatologly and shed the happy ignorance of, "I know Jesus is coming again."

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It obviously is not a sufficient reply to the historicist to say that we will know what these things mean when they come to pass, seeing as the historicist believes that the visions are at least partially fulfilled and that these fulfilments are clear enough so as to be able to identify them. Furthermore, the idea that the mark of the beast still lies in the future with the manifestation of a personal antichrist will be open to the same objections as are made against the historicist identification of the Pope of Rome as antichrist. What is needed is a clear distinction between "interpretation" and "application." So far as "interpretation" is concerned, the mark of the beast is a counterfeit of God's own mark by which He separates His true servants from the judgements that are abroad in the earth. Understood as such, we cannot deny, from our historically reformed perspective, that the antichristian Church of Rome at the very least provides a valid "application" of the visionary warning in Revelation. At the same time, we are not blinded from seeing that this "application" can be broadened and vary in its historical appearance as time marches on.
Thanks for your comments, Bill. I also was premil early on, until I came face to face with glaring discrepancies vis-à-vis the Scripture. I have recently pre-purchased (scheduled to be published May 1) Sam Storms' Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative, where he focuses on a refutation of his former premil position and establishes the amil view. I got it because I think it will fill a need for a good modern exposé of premil flaws. I am also about to get this amil textbook by Cornelis P. Venema, The Promise of the Future, as it is the amil / eschatology work in seminaries that replaced the former definitive work by Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future. I got a chance to look it over through Interlibrary Loan and found it to be very good; he has a substantial section on refuting premil, as well as postmil.

Another good – and standard – work is Kim Riddlebarger's, A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times. Though Storms and Venema I think will be better starts.

Selling some books has enabled me to buy new ones I need! If I weren't married the saying of Erasmus would probably be true for me, "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." But as I wisely put my wife in charge of our monthly budget we have been spared that.
Steve, thank you so much for your great insight and teaching. I very much agree with the concept of multiple fulfillment of prophecies. I supposed I should have been more clear or accurate in using the terms 'primary' or 'fuller' fulfillment in reference to Daniel and Revelation. I would say though that it seems to me in all of those cases of multiple fulfillment, we see a steady 'increase' or 'expansion' of something (call it 'scope', 'size', 'extent', or even 'fulfillment'). What I mean is, the tribulation that came in the destruction of Jerusalem is not nearly the same in size, scope, or extent than what will come in the final tribulation. It just seems that in the multiple fulfillment of prophecies, there is a steady increase of some aspect of the fulfillment, and so that is why I chose to use the word 'fuller' with regard to the fulfillment of prophecies both in Daniel and in Revelation.

But again, I very much appreciate you taking the time to explain things to me, and for helping me to gain a better understanding of these topics.
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Again, thanks Steve for your comments.

You wondered why I would first look for a literal and logical explanation to a passage rather than a “spiritual” explanation.

Sorry to be so blunt, but the first thing that comes to mind for me would be … common sense. Example … I believe the “mark” to be visually literal and I believe you do not.

As a lay person reading Revelation, and without the help of theologians or commentaries etc., I came to that conclusion about 30 years ago. I thought I was alone in that understanding, until one day my fireman came in with a huge Bible about a foot square and 5 or 6 inches thick!

His dad was connected with a Baptist college in our small town.
There in the published marginal notes of Revelation was the statement:

“The Roman Catholic sign of the cross is the mark of the beast.”

I wish I had kept note of that particular Bible, but I did not.
I believe I later learned that this was not an isolated opinion within some Reformed circles.

I had originally asked if anyone here could point to a passage in Revelation that clearly indicated that the image, mark and number applied to … which of the two beasts … the first or second?

At this time, I will simplify my question and isolate the “number”.
We know that partial preterism claims that the number applies to the first beast (Nero).

I believe historicism claims that the number applies to the second beast (papacy)

What (if any) verse supports their claim?
Two questions I would like to ask here:

I do thank you for your etymological view of the word “Vatican” and tying it to the Latin vates (a word with which I am familiar), being a poet in the school of Christ’s seers. That gives new meaning to the arrogance of Rome.

The hill was called Vatican a thousand years before the time of the papacy, and the papacy came to have residence there because it was believed that Peter had been martyred there. So how is this supposed to be an indicator that the Pope is a false prophet? (note, I am not denying such, merely questioning the dubious chain of reasoning here)

“The Roman Catholic sign of the cross is the mark of the beast.”

Are we accusing orthodox Anglicans (fellow protestants) of participating in the mark of the beast?
Are we accusing orthodox Anglicans (fellow protestants) of participating in the mark of the beast?

I think only if they use the right hand for the sign? I thought one could use either hand for the sign. I don't make the sign, so it isn't an issue for me.

A lot of Lutherans seem particularly infatuated with Rome lately, but thankfully our church is quite 'low' and spare with the Rome-ish affectations. The new pope has brought up quite a bit of discussion in Lutheran circles and I am happy to see that some folk are backing off of their previous romance with Rome.

I think our pastor makes the sign of the cross twice during the service, maybe more if it is a communion service.
Philip, thanks for the historical background of the term Vatican – I did a little research and see it had that name much earlier than Roman Catholicism, as you said.

Matthew, I appreciate your saying, “At the same time, we are not blinded from seeing that this ‘application’ [the Roman ‘church’/and pope as antichrist] can be broadened and vary in its historical appearance as time marches on.”

When the historicist, using hindsight, seeks to identify specific historic individuals and events supposedly depicted in the Book of Revelation – and that from the beginning of the church age until the very end – this fallacious manner of identifying is not to be confused with the hindsight referenced earlier by Amillenarians such O.T. Allis and Geerhardus Vos quoted above.

The beast (both beasts, actually) of Revelation manifest at sundry times throughout the church age, culminating in a final – and to use Eric’s term – fuller manifestation at the very end.

Calvin, “common” sense may not be the best way to go about understanding Revelation’s symbols.

With regard to the interpretive presuppositions of the amillennial school, a primary one has been convincingly put forth by G.K. Beale in his massive and erudite, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, and that is the contents of the Revelation are made known by means of symbolism. In the very first verse of the book (1:1) it is written,

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” [emphasis added –SMR]​

This word signified (“communicated” NASB, “made it known” ESV, NIV) – [SIZE=+1]shmanen[/SIZE] – semaino “is part of a clear allusion [in the LXX Greek –SMR] to Dan. 2:28-30, 45. The clauses ‘revelation . . . God showed . . . what must come to pass . . . and he made known ([SIZE=+1]shmainw[/SIZE])’ occur together only in Daniel 2 and Rev 1:1.... the manner of the communication is defined by the context of the vision as symbolic communication by means of a dream vision.... The revelation is not abstract but pictorial.” Beale, pp. 50, 51.

In other words, John’s alluding to a portion in Daniel where it is explicitly said that God will give a revelation to Nebuchadnezzar by means of symbolic imagery – and John’s use of the very same words Daniel used there (in the Greek LXX), and which are used together nowhere else in the Bible – indicates John is deliberately stating that the revelation given to him for the church will likewise be by means of symbolic imagery. So the modus operandi of interpreting Revelation is to understand the meaning of the symbols, and only if the context demands a literal interpretation should one approach the text in that manner.

For those who don’t have his book, and desire more light on this, he explicates this further in his sermon (MP3) on Rev 11, “Two Witnesses in Revelation”. All this to say that from the very opening of the Revelation we are told that this is a book to be understood by seeing and interpreting the symbols given, almost all of which are taken from the Old Testament, which is thus the key to their interpretation.

Calvin, all the other images in Revelation 13 are obviously symbolic: beasts, horns, the sea, the land, a wound, a talking image, a war on the saints, a number – and you want to make a “mark” of the beast something literal? The seal and name God places in the foreheads of His people (Rev 7:3; 14:1; cf. 3:12) is an invisible spiritual reality – seen clearly by God and His angels – while in 14:9 you will say that this mark of the beast is a literal mark?

And your authority is some old huge Bible that was connected with a Baptist college and a margin note therein?

As for the number of the beast, so many have entered ingenious ideas into the running, but I think the basic thought that 666 is the number of man – fallible, sinful man, always falling short of the divine number 7, and 6s to the nth degree in this monster of a man showing him to be the epitome of wretched wickedness. I think that is sufficient an ID. If we get further light as the end draws near, so be it. But I weary of clever schemas by historicists and dispensationalists.

And on top of the poor hermeneutic, your “sign of the cross” catches too many fish in its too-widely-flung net, hauling in many not of Rome.
For anyone … is my question difficult to answer?

There is a first beast and a second beast.
There is a mark and a number.

Whether symbolic or literal, is there a passage in Revelation that clearly indicates that they apply to the first beast?

Whether symbolic or literal, is there a passage in Revelation that clearly indicates that they apply to the second beast?

Regarding the Vatican hierarchy being a “false” prophet:

vatic … prophet or prophecy
vatical … prophet or prophecy
vaticinal … prophetic
vaticinari … predict
vaticinate … anticipate, forewarn, predict, portend
vaticination … the act of prophesying, a prediction, a prophecy

I thought I answered that here:

The first and second beasts work together as Satan’s tools of coercion and deception. It is gaining allegiance to the first beast (#1) that is the primary function of the second beast (#2); the image #2 makes is that of #1, and through the power of #1 (Rev 13:12) both leads them to worship and be punished if they don’t. It’s not his (#2’s) own mark he puts on people, but the one he serves and in whose power he operates. Not that it makes a lot of difference, except perhaps in your take on the matter. It is not the deception/deceiver who is the object of worship, but the self-deifying state. It is the allegiance to the state in thought and deed that is the mark.

I think it clear that the second beast is the one who "causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads" (Rev 13:16), but the mark is the sign of allegiance to the first beast, as he is the object of the second's beast's efforts and diabolic "ministry". Is that not clear to you from verses 12 through 17?
Thank you Steve,

I understand that it is the second that “causes” all to receive the mark as scripture is quite clear as to that.

I also realize that you do not believe the number (666) to be literal, but I am wondering why many learned full and partial preterists insist that the number must apply to the first beast and not the second?

Do you see a passage in Revelation that confirms their conclusion, as I do not. Perhaps it is mere speculation on their part, as they found a “match” in Nero.
Regarding the Vatican hierarchy being a “false” prophet:

vatic … prophet or prophecy
vatical … prophet or prophecy
vaticinal … prophetic
vaticinari … predict
vaticinate … anticipate, forewarn, predict, portend
vaticination … the act of prophesying, a prediction, a prophecy

My comment here was historical note that "Vatican" is the name of a place and was called a place of prophecy a thousand years before the rise of the papacy. The etymology, while interesting, fails to establish the papacy as the second beast of revelation.
I agree Philip.

It would require a lot more than a mere "word" to establish the papacy as the second beast of Revelation.
Until such time as God destroys that great city Mystery, Babylon, much of Revelation will likely remain a mystery to most.

As an aside ... I read that the Vatican is built upon volcanic rock.
Leaving “idealism” aside, for that system of interpretation sees little literal fulfillment in Revelation, and moving to the other systems.

Are there full or partial preterists here that can point to a verse in Revelation that clearly indicates that it is the first beast that is numbered (Rev 13:18) as some in that camp cite “nrwn qsr” as their numerical match. This is the solution advocated by David Clark, Jay Adams, Kenneth Gentry, David Chilton and others.

Or, are there historicists (or futurists) here that can point to a verse in Revelation that clearly indicates that it is the second beast (papacy) that is numbered, as some in that camp cite “Lateinos” or “Vicarius filii Dei” as their numerical match.
As for 666, why not consider the only other place in Scripture that particular number is mentioned? 1 Kings 10:14

That’s where Solomon’s gold is mentioned, and that seems to be the starting point of his decline in godliness. By chapter 11, he clearly has gone astray by marrying foreigners.

Why not consider the “number of a man” to be an allusion to the dangers of lusting after the world? I’d think that would be the first thing to come to mind to someone familiar with Scripture in the 1st century.
Hello Victor,

Here is wisdom, let he that hath understanding count the number … …

You suggested I consider “ … the only other place in Scripture that particular number is mentioned.” 1 Kings 10:14.

Would it not be wise also to consider wisdom … and … understanding?
For that is what Rev 13:18 speaks about to solve the mystery.

Solomon’s 666 talents of gold. I believe his association with this number is because of his wisdom rather than his lust.

Note that the word talent is associated with measuring or counting.

1 Kings 10:14 is not the only other place where 666 is noted. It also occurs in Ezra 2:13 … the children of Adonikam are noted as being 666.

Three of his sons are mentioned by name … one is Shemaiah.

The meaning of his name is … “man of understanding”. Do you see no connection here with wisdom and understanding in Rev 13:18?

Ezra 8:16 also speaks about “men of understanding” and Adonikam’s son Shemaiah is noted among them.

The other two sons named are Jeiel (a musician like David) and Eliphelet. One source stated that he was the last son of David.

If I may ask, what interpretive system do you align with … preterist, historicist, futurist or idealist?

Let me be clear in that I can not answer the question I posed. I do not believe there is a verse in Revelation that makes this crystal clear, and that those that attempt to point to the first or the second as being the numbered one is because of their presuppositions
Calvin, you are right. I forgot about Ezra.

I do think wisdom is important, and I recall Solomon spending a great deal of time meditating on that as well. It just strikes me that the wisdom called for is to recognize the wisdom already discussed in Scripture, not necessarily our own skill or cleverness in looking at events.

If I may ask, what interpretive system do you align with … preterist, historicist, futurist or idealist?

I doubt I can answer that question. I tend to apply all of those systems sequentially when I grapple with this book. Then I reject parts of each system and start over.

The best I can say is that I first put myself in the shoes of a 1st century scripturally-literate believer (as best as I can, anyway) and try to see what would jump out at me on my first encounter with the book. The obvious references to the book of Daniel and other prophecies would be noted. The other symbolic details would be meditated on in the context of prior revelation.

Then (still pretending I'm a 1st century Christian), I'd meditate on the general theme and the warnings issued. Not knowing the future, I'd at least be aware that there is a tremendous conflict going on at the present (meaning in the past) and that I am being exhorted to be faithful despite all pressures and odds.

So, in that sense, one could say I'm being a preterist. But I also remember that the Word of God is everlasting and applicable to all times, so I transport myself to the present and look back. Next thing you know, I'm a historicist. I see the beast and the warning of a man, who purports to be of God, amassing great wealth and power, and I can't help but think of the rise of the Roman Catholic church. But then, I really can't bring myself to identify any particular man as the "one," so I find myself more aligned with the idealist camp.

Nevertheless, I firmly avoid trying to use the book to predict the future or interpret specifics of the present. From my 2013 perspective, I see virtually all previous attempts at that as ending in failure. I cannot presume I'd do any better.

For me, the great value in studying the book is that it forces me to look back at the rest of Scripture, which always seems profitable. And I note that the two great covenantal themes, works and grace, are nicely wrapped up by the end of the Bible in Revelation. In Genesis you have the command to "do," and the promise of grace when that command was violated. In the last chapter of Revelation you have the promise of judgment according to works (22:12), and the free grace promise of salvation by faith (22:17,21).
There's a lot of evidence that 666 refers to "Nero Caesar" and that first century readers would have had at least opportunity to work out who John was speaking about; after all the Church was being currently persecuted under this man.

But taking what Revelation says generally about this Beastly power, I believe that the book is pointing beyond Nero as an initial archetype of state power when it is used in a beastly manner against Christians, to such beastliness at any time in the succeeding centuries. After Nero goes, the Beast is still there, or at least waiting in the wings to come back, when the Devil needs him.

The other Beast/False Prophet, seems to be speaking about ecclesiastical compromise with the First Beast (unsanctified state power), and would include the various antichrists (First Century Christian Gnosticism, Eastern Orthodox teaching which strikes at biblical soteriology, Liberal Theology, modern evangelical compromise with false doctrine; and also including the Papacy and Romanism.

Regarding, precisely what manifestation that had in the first century in compromise with the Roman/Neronic power, I would have to study further. :2cents: :2cents:
Thank you Victor and Richard for your thoughtful responses … enjoyed reading them both.

Glad to hear that you have not “got it all figured out” like some of our futurist friends!

I was at PB several years ago and it seems to me that there were several historicists here at that time. Has there been a poll regarding the four views, and if so, could you direct me to it?

Victor … regarding the 666 personage and Roman Catholicism, you said:
“I really can’t bring myself to identify any particular man as the “one”, so I find myself more aligned with the idealist camp.”

Perhaps the historicists will circle their wagons and work on this “problem”!

Richard … you noted that there is a lot of evidence that 666 refers to Nero Caesar. As an historicist, I have no problem with Nero and/or the Roman Empire fulfilling the numeric identification of the first beast, as it is quite logical along with the preterist understanding of 70AD.

My point was that we cannot point to a passage and say … “there”, that proves that it is the … … beast that is the numbered one.

As historicists, we believe there is also logical evidence (numeric and otherwise) that this can apply to the papacy as well, and over time I hope to present some of that “other” evidence.

The first point presented in this thread was about the biblical “mark” on right hand and forehead. Even if wrong, I don’t think it can be denied that Romanism does display an identifying mark or sign given with the right hand and placed upon the forehead of its infants at baptism and upon the forehead of its adults on Ash Wednesdays.

This is where the term “being under the thumb” originated as the priest dips his right hand into the water and places the mark on the forehead of the infant with his thumb.
Calvin, when you say, “Leaving ‘idealism’ aside, for that system of interpretation sees little literal fulfillment in Revelation”, it seems you are not aware of contemporary developments in that school.

Here’s a quote from Vern Poythress’ little gem of a book, The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation:

Combining the Insights of the Schools

All the schools except the historicist school have considerable merit. Can we somehow combine them? If we start with the idealist approach, it is relatively easy. The images in Revelation enjoy multiple fulfillments. They do so because they embody a general pattern. The arguments in favor of futurism show convincingly that Revelation is interested in the Second Coming and the immediately preceding final crisis (cf. 2 Thess. 2:1-12). But fulfillment in the final crisis does not eliminate earlier instances of the general pattern. We have both a general pattern and a particular embodiment of the pattern in the final crisis.

Likewise, the arguments in favor of preterism show convincingly that Revelation is interested in the seven churches and their historical situation. The symbols thus have a particular embodiment in the first century, and we ought to pay attention to this embodiment.

Finally we have a responsibility to apply the message of Revelation to our own situation, because we are somewhere in church history, somewhere in the interadvental period to which the book applies. Here is the grain of truth in the historicist approach.

We can sum up these insights in a single combined picture. The major symbols of Revelation represent a repeated pattern. This pattern has a realization in the first-century situation of the seven churches. It also has a realization in the final crisis. And it has its embodiment now. We pay special attention to the embodiment now, because we must apply the lessons of Revelation to where we are. (p. 37)​

Here is another and similar approach from G.K. Beale’s, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Revelation, pp 48, 49, the section of the Introduction, Major Interpretive Approaches:

The Idealist View

The idealist approach affirms that Revelation is a symbolic portrayal of the conflict between good and evil, between the forces of God and Satan. The most radical form of this view holds that the book is a timeless depiction of this struggle. The problem with this alternative is that it holds revelation does not depict any final consummation to history, whether in God’s final victory or in a last judgment of the realm of evil. The idealist notion encounters the opposite problem facing the preterist and historicist views, since it identifies none of the book’s symbols with particular historical events.

The View of This Commentary: Eclecticism, or a Redemptive-Historical Form of Modified Idealism

A more viable, modified version of the idealist perspective would acknowledge a final consummation in salvation and judgment. Perhaps it would be best to call this fifth view “eclecticism.” Accordingly, no specific prophesied historical events are discerned in the book, except for the final coming of Christ to deliver and judge and to establish the final form of the kingdom in a consummated new creation — even though there are a few exceptions to this rule (E.g., 2:10, 22 and 3:9-10, which are unconditional prophecies to be fulfilled imminently in the specific local churches of Smyrna, Thyatira, and Philadelphia). The Apocalypse symbolically portrays events throughout history, which is understood to be under the sovereignty of the Lamb as a result of his death and resurrection. He will guide the events depicted until they finally issue in the last judgment and the definitive establishment of his kingdom. This means that specific events throughout the age extending from Christ’s first coming to his second may be identified with one narrative or symbol. We may call this age inaugurated by Christ’s first coming and concluded by his final appearance “the church age,” “the interadvental age,” or “the latter days.” The majority of the symbols in the book are transtemporal in the sense that they are applicable to events throughout the “church age” (see the section below on “Interpretation of Symbolism”).

Therefore, the historicists may sometimes be right in their precise historical identification, but wrong in limiting the identification only to one historical reality. The same verdict may be passed on the preterist school of thought, especially the Roman version. And certainly there are prophecies of the future in Revelation. The crucial yet problematic task of the interpreter is to identify through careful exegesis and against the historical background those texts which pertain respectively to past, present, and future.

The present commentary fits most within the overall interpretive framework of such past commentaries as Caird, Johnson, Sweet, and above all Hendriksen and Wilcock.​

[end Beale]


I hope that shows you there are interesting things going on in the amil camp, with a view to a deeper comprehension of the revelation God gave to us, that we might be warned, prepared, encouraged, and moved to greater faithfulness because of His wondrous love for us.
Richard … you noted that there is a lot of evidence that 666 refers to Nero Caesar. As an historicist, I have no problem with Nero and/or the Roman Empire fulfilling the numeric identification of the first beast, as it is quite logical along with the preterist understanding of 70AD.

I'm not quite a preterist in that sense, e.g. like Gentry - who seems to believe that all of chapters 5-19 is fulfilled by the first century, and we can only learn from the example of those times.

I think Revelation may be teaching that Nero and pagan Roman is the archetypye of the Beast - unsanctified, pagan or secular, persecutory civil government - but that the Book also teaches us that the Beast is still around today. Western Civilisation, which now spans the globe, came out of the break-up of the Roman Empire, but the civil governments of this now global civilisation have never been wholly sanctified of their beastliness, although some have been better -more Christian - than others.

As a postmil though, I believe the Beast will be dealt with by the conquest of Christ in the Gospel long before the Eschaton, Revelation 19. :2cents:
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