Revelation 13

There are few figures in literature more compelling than the “antichrist” or the beast of Revelation 13.  For dispensationalists he is the world leader who will emerge from the European Union.   The list of people nominated for the job is impressive including Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and more.   In this chapter John is actually bringing a long tradition that goes back to Second Temple Judaism to a fresh and final point.   In that early period there was an expectation that two oppressors would arise against Israel: one from without who would have political power and one from within who would deceive through false teaching.  Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) is the actual model for this.  He is the Greek ruler who tried to outlaw Judaism and sparked the Macabbean revolt instead.  Jesus refers to him in the Olivet Discourse.   Although I argue that the Olivet Discourse is fulfilled, Jesus reference shows the power of the story of Antiochus even in the early church.  Writing in the mid 50s, Paul talks about a “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians 2.  This person rises from within the church and is destroyed at Jesus second coming.  In 1 and 2 John the concept of the antichrist is widened to include anyone who denies the Father and the Son or denies that Jesus came in the flesh.   The beast in Revelation 13 represents the culmination of this tradition shaped by the fear of Caesar Nero.  His mark is the counterpoint to the sealing of God’s servants.  Without a doubt he will make life difficult for the people of God.

 

About bob

I am a Vineyard pastor and a passionate student of the Bible with an instinctive distrust of "business as usual" when it comes to the story of the Bible. Gratefully I have the opportunity to dig a little deeper and my purpose with this blog is to share what I discover.

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