The two beasts described in Revelation 13 are among the most enigmatic parts of the book of Revelation, and they have inspired no end of commentary. What is the meaning of these two beasts?
References to: Paul Kroll
Many Christians through the ages have wondered who the "two witnesses" of Revelation 11 happen to be. The two witnesses are among the most dramatic characters of Scripture. They prophesy before the world for three and a half years (1,260 days) (11:3). During this time, they can strike the earth with whatever plague they desire, and cannot be harmed by their enemies (11:5-6). Ultimately, they are killed by the beast (11:7) but they rise to life in three and a half days (11:11). How are we to understand the two witnesses and the unusual happenings surrounding their lives?
Chapter six of Revelation continues John's vision in the throne room of heaven. His eyes fix on the Lamb (Jesus Christ) as he opens the first of the seven seals that had sealed the scroll with writing on both sides (5:1 with 6:1). John then says, "I saw, and behold. . ." (6:2, Revised Standard Version). This expression, variously translated in English versions, is frequently used by John to introduce new visions (4:1; 6:5, 8; 7:9; 14:1; 19:11).
Christ introduced himself to the church at Laodicea as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation” (3:14). These titles were not taken from the description of Christ in chapter 1. Neither do they have any parallels in the final chapters. However, the ideas in the names are implicit to the book of Revelation as a whole.
The church that kept the faith
The "dead" church
The church at Sardis was described as being “dead” (3:1). It appeared to be alive – had “a reputation of being alive” – looked spiritually vibrant on the outside – but was spiritually lifeless. The church was Christian in name only. This recalls Christ’s scathing rebuke of the Pharisees who “look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27).
Ephesus: The persevering church
Revelation’s seven letters to seven congregations in the Roman province of Asia provide us with a glimpse into the spiritual condition of the apostolic and post-apostolic church in a major crossroads area of the Roman world. It has generally been thought that Revelation was written around A.D. 100, though some scholars believe the book may have been written much earlier, in the mid-60s of the first century A.D.
The mark of the beast. Armageddon. The Four Horsemen.
666. Babylon the great. The seven last plagues.
The bottomless pit. The lake of fire.
These images of terror and catastrophe from the book of Revelation have greatly influenced the popular psyche. Even the secular press uses images such as “armageddon” and “four horsemen of the apocalypse” to describe calamities in our world.
The book of Revelation belongs to a class of chiefly Jewish (and later Christian) literature called “apocalyptic.” The word “apocalypse” has been borrowed from the book of Revelation and applied to these other writings.
Apocalyptic refers, in a broad sense, to a group of books written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 100. Two historical markers are usually given for the span during which the Jewish apocalyptic works were written and edited: