Who Is the Beast?
Identifying the Sixth Head
Rev 17:3. And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. … 18. “And the woman that you saw is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth."
If this woman riding the Beast is Rome, then the Beast is the Roman Empire.
Rev 17:6. And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her I marveled greatly. 7. But the angel said to me, "Why marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. … 9. This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10. they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a little while.
Head I: Julius Caesar (d. 44 BC) was assassinated by Brutus at the behest of a faction in the Senate.
Head II: Octavian “Augustus” (31 BC - AD 14) died of illness or was suffocated (Jesus was born during his reign, in 5 - 3 BC.),
Head III: Tiberius (AD 14 - 37) was smothered (Jesus was crucified during his reign.),
Head IV: Caligula (37 - 41) was assassinated (He ordered his statue to be worshiped in the Jerusalem Temple, but was murdered before it came to pass.),
Head V: Claudius (41 - 54), who expelled the Jews from Rome, was poisoned (His wife, Valeria Messalina, was notorious for her murders and adulteries, and was probably the prophetic model for the "Whore of Babylon."),
Head VI: The king is living at the time of John’s writing. He is Nero, who stabbed himself in the head (54 - 68) (Nero Caesar is 666, burner of Rome and persecutor of Christians. Peter and Paul may have been among the thousands martyred under Nero.),
Head VII: Vespasian (69 - 79) was a military general in Judea and dealt with the Jewish revolt of 67 - 70 on Nero's behalf.
Rev 17:11. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to perdition.
Head VIII: Titus (79 - 81) ("to remain a little while") was one of the sons of Vespasian (he belonged to the seventh). (Titus was the general who employed the historian Josephus as advisor in the battle for Jerusalem 68 - 70. Titus destroyed Jerusalem (“The Holy City”) and burned it. His troops killed or enslaved maybe 1.5 million people in the process. It is Titus who did not leave "one stone upon another -- all will be thrown down!" Titus' mistress was Bernice, wife and sister of Herod Agrippa II, Acts 25:23).
The Head Wound of the Sixth
Nero, the sixth head, received the deathblow. Nero was a depraved, violent and deviant despot. Mad with power, fear and self-devotion, he murdered his mother and two of his wives. Then married a boy who was murdered. Nero then married a gladiator. He fancied himself a poet, musician and an athlete. He haunted the streets at night as a common mugger. He also considered himself a great architect and had visions of rebuilding Rome. In order to do so, he had Rome burned. Claudius had expelled all the Jews from Rome, so Nero saw the Christians as a scapegoat. He blamed the burning on them, which started a fierce persecution. Nero had hundreds of Christians killed by wild beasts as entertainment for the masses of blood-thirsty Roman peasants. He used Christians as lamp posts to light the city. Finally, the people of Rome realized that it was Nero who set the fires, and they turned on him. As a prelude to the storming of the palace, Nero escaped to the house of an acquaintance and there attempted suicide by stabbing himself in the head. History tells us that the Praetorian Guard finished him off. Nevertheless, he was proclaimed a god by the Senate and worshipped as such.
There was a widespread rumor that Nero would be resurrected to life. In fact, the "false Nero," a man who looked and acted just like the genuine article, came on the Roman scene during the reign of Domitian (Head IX, 81 - 96) and claimed to be the genuine article.
Because of the intense persecution of Christians conducted by both Nero and Domitian, Christians (and others) considered Domitian to be Nero resurrected by the devil. The advent of the false Nero blurred the distinction between the dead emperor and the living even further. And in a very real way, the mortal head wound of Nero was healed in the head of Domitian. Domitian was the brother of Titus and younger son of Vespasian. The persecutions of Christians under Domitian were even more severe under Nero.
Rev 17:8. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to perdition; and the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will marvel to behold the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.
Again, Domitian was considered to be Nero resurrected. Nero and Domitian are historic counterparts.
The Number of Its Name
Rev 13:16. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17. so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18. This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.
Variant! In some editions, the number is six hundred sixteen! This is significant to claiming an identity of “The Beast” for the number designates the name of a man. Remember that the Revelation is originally written in Greek. Consider the Greek ‘name’ of the sixth head, Neron Caesar:
Καίσαρος Νερον = 666.
(Kaisaros Neron, “Caesar Nero” in English letters)
The proof of this identity is in the variant reading. The number 616 (rather than 666) comes from the Latin version of the Revelation translated by St. Jerome and issued in 410. Jerome knew the exact identity of the Beast. In the Latin language, the man’s name is not Caesar Neron, but Caesar Nero. Loss of the ‘n’ in the translation also subtracts 50 from the total of the Greek letters, leaving us with 616! Nero is the 6th head and his name adds up to 666 when written in Greek and 616 when in Latin.
The Mark of the Beast
The mark of the Messiah consists of the first and last letters of his title from the Greek: χς, which stands for (CH)risto(S) “Christ.” χ (ch) = 600 and ς (s) = 6. In the Greek language of the Revelation, the number 666 is written out the long way, “six hundreds sixty six.” The dragon or serpent symbol, xi (ξ), has a value of 60. If you put that in the middle, you have the mark:
χξς = six hundreds sixty six = 666.
This is the mark of the false messiah, which is the mark of Christ with the serpent interposed.
Rev 13:18 says, “This calls for wisdom.” The wisdom necessary for deciphering the number of his name is now made manifest.
THE MYSTERY IS HISTORY
© October 18, 2001