On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 18: The Papal Beast


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On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 18: The Papal Beast

In the opening presentation of our commentary on Revelation chapter 13, titled Of Beasts and Tyrants, we saw John describe a great beast which arose out of the sea, and among other attributes it was described as having seven heads and ten horns, and had the characteristics of a leopard, a bear and a lion. Then along with these it also shared many of the attributes with which the four beasts of Daniel chapter 7 were described. Both the beast here and the beast in Daniel had arose out of the sea, which we interpret as being the mass of the world’s people. Therefore, since the four beasts of Daniel’s vision also had ten horns, and had the features of a leopard, a bear and a lion, we should certainly understand that there is a connection between them, that they are prophesying the same phenomenon. This is further affirmed where in Daniel chapter 7 we read that “17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth” and further on in the Revelation, in chapter 17, we read: “9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. 10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” The woman representing the children of Israel collectively, which is clear in our interpretation of Revelation chapter 12, it becomes quite certain that the beasts and its seven heads represent kings and kingdoms with which the woman was associated throughout history.

But as we had also sought to explain, the scope of the Revelation concerns a much broader view of the history of Israel, past and future, rather than only the future from the time of John. The visions or statements which describe past events give us the ability to better understand the visions of the future as they have been provided by John. So where in chapter 12 we saw the vision of the dragon, Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven, because Satan is also one and the same as “that serpent of old” we know that this explains some of the circumstances of the remote past, and the events of the early chapters of Genesis. Likewise, where it says in Revelation chapter 17 that five kings had already fallen, we can examine the history of Israel to identify five great kingdoms upon which the woman had sat, at one time or another. But Daniel prophesied only of the future from his own time, whereas the Revelation is of a greater scope, so we know that we should include ancient Egypt among the five. The fallen Kingdoms of Revelation chapter 17 are therefore the empires of Egypt and Assyria, which were both past by Daniel’s time, and then the Babylonian, Persian and Hellenistic Greek empires. The one which is must of course be the Roman empire, which was near its peak as John wrote the Revelation, and these last four are Daniel’s four kingdoms, in chapter 2, or four beasts, in chapter 7 of his prophecy.

So while Revelation chapter 17 describes a wider view of history in that respect, here in Revelation chapter 13, and in Daniel chapter 7, the scope is limited to the period of the seven times punishment of the children of Israel for their sins. That is ascertained where we read in that same context in the words of Jeremiah the prophet, in Jeremiah chapter 15, that “2… Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.” Then here in Revelation chapter 13 we read in part of the period of the first beast of this chapter that “10 If one is for captivity, into captivity he goes. If one is to be slain by the sword, he is to be slain by the sword. Thus is the patience and the faith of the saints.” These passages are both describing the punishment of the children of Israel, as Nebuchadnezzar was told that the beast of his vision would rule “wheresoever the children of men dwell,” and he certainly did rule over the children of Israel in captivity, as did all of these great beast empires.

So we had also read of this first beast in Revelation chapter 13 that “2… the dragon had given to it his power and his throne and great authority.” Then a little further on, “7 And there had been given to it to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority had been given to it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” The dragon must be the same dragon of Revelation chapter 12, which, after he and his angels were ejected from heaven, in a slightly different context he “was angered by the woman and went to make war with those remaining of her offspring who keep the commandments of Yahweh and have the testimony of Yahshua.” But the dragon also gave its authority to the beast, by which the beast was able to rule over the world, and with that we must wonder how the dragon had that authority. With this it becomes evident, that the tactic of the dragon in its war against the woman is to infiltrate and subvert the governments and institutions of the woman, a pattern which is also quite apparent in history, especially in the Gospel of Christ.

So as we had also discussed, Adam was to have dominion over everything upon the earth when he was created, as it is explained in Genesis chapter 1. But in the events of Genesis chapter 3, Eve having sinned and Adam having accepted that sin, we see that Yahweh had explained that as a result, there would be enmity between two diverse races, the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman. In spite of the corrupted text of Genesis 4:1, Cain was not the son of Adam, as Yahshua Christ had later explained that Cain, the “murderer from the beginning”, was of the devil. Cain was the of seed of the serpent, which the apostle John also explained further in his first epistle. So the very first expression of that enmity was in the murder of Abel.

Cain had killed Abel because he was jealous, that Yahweh had accepted Abel’s sacrifice and not his own. That would indicate that Abel was acceptable as family priest after Adam, and Cain was not, as we find the custom of firstborn son as family priest later in Scripture. So it is also evident, that Yahweh certainly understood the circumstances of Cain’s birth better than Adam. Therefore, ever since the garden of Eden, Satan, the collective seed of the serpent and the fallen angels, had a claim on the commission for which Adam had been created.

This explains how the devil of Matthew chapter 4, or also of Luke chapter 4, had laid claim to rule all of the kingdoms of the world, and to be able to give that rule to whomsoever he desired. Christ did not deny that circumstance, but only told that devil that He would worship Yahweh God, and serve Him only. Then later in the Gospel accounts, as it is recorded on several occasions in the Gospel of John, Christ had referred to His enemies, whom He had consistently described as a race of serpents, as the “prince of this world”, which was an obvious reference to the high priest in Jerusalem and those who were of his party. This interpretation is substantiated by Paul of Tarsus, who wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, as it is in the King James Version: “6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

So with this we should understand the power of the dragon which gives its authority to the beast, and also the fact that the dragon has that power because of the sin of Adam. Later, when the children of Israel were promised an everlasting kingdom, upon the condition that they kept the law, they failed to do as they were commanded, when they would not exterminate the Canaanites. The Canaanites had mingled themselves with the Kenites, the Rephaim, which were the Nephilim or fallen angels, and several other races which did not come from Noah, and which are ostensibly all of the seed of the serpent. Ultimately, after they were punished, the Edomites, who had descended from those same tribes that mixed with the Canaanites, infiltrated and took control of Judaea, and that accounts for all of the division in the time of the Gospel. So the Israelites had an opportunity to reclaim that commission which Adam had failed to uphold, and they also failed. Ultimately, there shall be victory for Adam through Yahshua Christ, the last Adam, as He has promised.

So now we shall discuss the second half of Revelation chapter 13, the vision in verses 11 through 18 which describes what John saw of a second beast. But this second, or other, beast is not really a new beast. Rather, it is a growth from out of the head of the first beast, so it is merely an extension of the first beast. Therefore, in the context of Revelation chapter 17 it is not one of the seven heads, because it is merely a continuance of one of those seven heads. Furthermore, earlier in this commentary we spoke in regard to the series of empires of Daniel chapter 2, which are the same empires of the vision of Daniel chapter 7. Here we shall see that while this second beast is beyond the scope of Daniel chapter 2, it is indeed a subject of the prophesy in Daniel chapter 7, and that further assures us of the validity of our correlation of this chapter with that vision in Daniel.

XIII 11 And I saw another beast ascending from out of the earth, and it had two horns like a lamb and spoke [P47 has “speaks”] as a dragon. 12 And all the authority of the first beast it practices in his presence. And it makes the earth and those dwelling in it that they shall worship [א has “dwelling in it to worship”; the MT “dwelling in it that they should worship”; the text follows P47, A and C] the first beast, who had been healed from the wound of its death [A has only “healed from its wound”].

In the earlier verses of this chapter, we saw a description of the first beast which had said “3 And one from among its heads as if having been slaughtered unto death, yet the wound of its death had been healed.” So it is the head of the beast which had been wounded. Now, before we discuss this second beast of Revelation chapter 13 at length, it may be beneficial to first discuss Daniel chapter 7, verses 19 through 28, since Daniel certainly seems to be describing this very same entity. We have already discussed verses 1 through 18, where we had seen the correlation between the beasts of Daniel chapter 7 and the first beast of Revelation chapter 13, that like the vision of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 2, they all describe the series of world empires which would rule over the children of Israel in their time of punishment, the fourth of them being the Roman empire.

From Daniel 7:19-20: “19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; 20 And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.”

As we have said, the ten horns can describe the senatorial provinces of Rome, which are the same as the toes of the vision in Daniel chapter 2, and the other horn which came up, before whom three fell, may describe the Byzantine empire – the eastern half of the Roman empire under Justinian, who some decades after the west had fallen sent his armies to conquer provinces in Italy, North Africa and Spain and regain them for the empire. But now we shall see an even more accurate interpretation which informs us that this is indeed Justinian, who had done things which certainly were worthy of one who had “a mouth that spake very great things”.

From Daniel 7:21-22: “21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; 22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

This is actually the end of Daniel’s vision in that chapter, and it is quite evident in history how these empires had made war with the saints and subjected themselves to them, even when the empires had grown out of nations of the saints themselves. We cannot possibly detail all of that history here, as it spans well over 1,200 years. So now we will continue with the interpretation of Daniel’s vision:

From Daniel 7:23: “23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.”

The Roman empire sought to subdue practically the entire known world, to “devour the whole earth”, and it would have gone further if it were able. The Germanic tribes, who are indeed the “saints of the Most High” even if they were not yet all Christians, were those who had judged it – the “stone cut out of the mountain without hands” whom Yahweh employed to destroy it, as they had also been described in the similar vision in Daniel chapter 2. But while Daniel chapter 2 speaks of the fall of this fourth kingdom, Daniel chapter 7 does not, but this also assures us that our interpretation is true. We only read in Daniel 7:18 that “18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” But here the interpretation only turns to discuss one of the horns which grew out of the head of this fourth beast:

Daniel 7:24: “24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.”

While Daniel does not speak of the wounding of the head of this fourth empire, here he does describe the rise of one of the ten horns on its head. When Rome fell, its head certainly was wounded. The Byzantine historian Procopius, a member of Justinian’s court and secretary to his general Belisarius, had written in Book 7, Chapter 20 of his History of the Wars of Justinian, speaking of Rome itself, that “Among the common people, however, it so fell out that only five hundred men had been left throughout the whole city, and these with all difficulty found refuge in the sanctuaries. For all the rest of the population were gone, some having departed to other lands and some having been carried off by the famine, as I stated above.” Then a little further on in that same chapter he wrote: “And thus the Romans in general, and particularly the members of the senate, found themselves reduced to such straits that they clothed themselves in the garments of slaves and rustics, and lived by begging bread or any other food from their enemies”, speaking of the invading Goths (History of the Wars, 7.20.19, 27). This was done by the Goths under their king Totila around 546 AD.

Earlier in Daniel, we described the ten horns as perhaps being representative of the Roman senatorial provinces, like we have interpreted the ten toes of Daniel chapter 2. But here it is explained that they are actually ten kings, in a manner seemingly different than what has been related previously, at verse 7 of the chapter. However too much may have been read into that passage. So here, with greater certainty, we may indeed identify the little horn of Daniel 7 as Justinian, and perhaps both of these interpretations are correct. The ten horns cannot possibly represent all of the Roman emperors, but after the Roman empire split, there were 10 emperors of the eastern empire: Valens, Theodosius I, Arcadius, Theodosius II, Marcianus, Leo I, Leo II, Zeno, Anastasius, and Justin I. There were a couple of would-be usurpers, recognized pretenders who tried to take the throne for themselves, however these were the first ten legitimate kings of the Byzantine empire. And then there was the eleventh Byzantine emperor, which was Justinian, who arose after the ten, as Daniel had said. The three kings which he subdued were of the invading Germanic tribes, the Gothic kings Vitiges and Totila in Italy, the Vandal king Gelimer in North Africa, and the Gothic king Agila in Spain. Vitiges was taken to Constantinople as a prisoner, but Totila was later killed in battle, whereupon the Goths were defeated in Italy. Since Vitiges and Totila basically represented the same crown, as one succeeded the other in a short time, we would count all these as the three kings of this prophecy, and it is clearly fulfilled by Justinian.

Continuing with Daniel 7:25: “25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”

A day in prophecy is often designated for a year, as we first read in Numbers chapter 14 of the punishment of Israel in the desert: “34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.” Later, we see this same phenomenon again in Ezekiel chapter 4 where the prophet was instructed by Yahweh and he was told to: “4 Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. 5 For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.” In Isaiah chapter 34 we read: “8 For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.” Then again in chapter 63: “4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” So it certainly is evident that in prophecy, a prophetic day can indeed stand for a historic year.

So where Justinian himself was not going to live for “a time and times and the dividing of time”, which evidently represents a prophetic period of 1,260 years, the institutions which he created during his rule certainly did last that long – and they prevailed over the saints of the most high for that long. Many of his institutions are still extant today. Justinian changed the laws where he created a new set of laws in four parts, which were issued from 529 to some time after 534 AD. Many of them were based on the old Roman law, but revised into his own laws, which were called the Novels (or new laws), the Code, the Digest and the Institutes. While earlier emperors were also legislators, notably Theodosius I, these laws of Justinian's became the foundation for the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, and they also became the civil law for nearly all of Europe until the time of Napoleon, who introduced his own Napoleonic Code, but which was based on Justinian's laws. Justinian's laws still have significant influence in western law today. So for all of this time, the children of God have been ruled over by the laws of the beast system of old Rome. One exception was the original English common law system, which for many centuries stood in opposition to the statutes of imposed civil law. The common law was not necessarily perfect, but there were competing systems of law in various places.

Another establishment of Justinian is the entity known as the papacy, which would also become the primary enforcer of Justinian’s laws. It was Justinian who officially decreed in his Novels, in section 131 that the bishops of Rome would be the ultimate religious authority over all of the Christian assemblies of the empire. This act provided the basis upon which the Roman Catholic Church developed in its subsequent history. Here we shall read the first two chapters of the section:

CHAPTER I. CONCERNING FOUR HOLY COUNCILS.

Therefore We order that the sacred, ecclesiastical rules which were adopted and confirmed by the four Holy Councils, that is to say, that of the three hundred and eighteen bishops held at Nicea, that of the one hundred and fifty bishops held at Constantinople, the first one of Ephesus, where Nestorius was condemned, and the one assembled at Chalcedon, where Eutyches and Nestorius were anathematized, shall be considered as laws. We accept the dogmas of these four Councils as sacred writings, and observe their rules as legally effective.

CHAPTER II. CONCERNING THE PRECEDENCE OF PATRIARCHS.

Hence, in accordance with the provisions of these Councils, We order that the Most Holy Pope of ancient Rome shall hold the first rank of all the Pontiffs, but the Most Blessed Archbishop of Constantinople, or New Rome, shall occupy the second place after the Holy Apostolic See of ancient Rome, which shall take precedence over all other sees.

(Source: the website for The Roman Law Library at the Université Grenoble Alpes in France, https://droitromain.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr/Anglica/N131_Scott.htm, accessed July 15th 2022)

Up to this point in history, the Roman church was only one more bishopric in the wider community of Christian churches where all bishops were considered to be peers. So until this law was enacted, from the days of Constantine, within the empire the emperor was the de facto head of the bishops of all of the Christian assemblies. The emperor was after all the de facto head of the entire Roman world anyways. But the other bishops of Christendom had resisted attempts by the Roman bishops to exert any ecclesiastical authority over them. As early as the fourth century the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius of Caesareia recorded such an attempt by a bishop of Rome, who even then began insisting upon being called papa, or pope. As Eusebius also attested indirectly in his writings, the term papa or pope had also been used as a term of endearment in other communities, in reference to elders or bishops by the members of their respective assemblies. So use of this term in reference to the bishop of Rome is certainly not unique.

Long before the time of Justinian, in one event which Eusebius had described, Irenaeus the bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons) in Gaul had at one time rebuffed Victor the bishop of Rome for haughtily attempting to excommunicate Christian churches which were outside of his own bishopric, over which he had no such authority. Victor had wanted to cut off the churches of Roman Asia for celebrating a different date for Passover than that of the Romans, wherein he was reproved by a bishop of Asia named Polycrates, and Irenaeus had later written to Victor in their defense (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5 chapter 24). So this demonstrates that in the late 2nd century, the bishop of Rome had no authority over the other Christian bishops. That authority was not established until the publication of these laws in Justinian’s Novels.

So Justinian changed the laws, as Daniel said, and later, in the time of the pope called Gregory XIII, long after Roman Church authority was fully consolidated, these Roman bishops continued to “change times and laws” with the creation of the Gregorian calendar. Until that time, for over sixteen hundred years, all of Europe under Roman or Roman Church rule had been regulated under the Julian calendar. The Roman Church method of calculating the time of Passover also prevailed, in spite of Irenaeus and other so-called “church fathers”, so the popes also changed the times in that respect, which further indicates the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. The popes had come to rule over all of Christendom, even over the kings of Europe, in accordance with the laws of man and not according to the laws of God.

Continuing with Daniel 7:26: “26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.:”

While the Reformation had already greatly diminished the power of the pope in northern Europe, it was Napoleon who finally put a permanent end to the temporal power of the papacy. In 1798 French troops marched into Rome, arrested many of the college of cardinals, and arrested the pope, Pius VI, who died as a prisoner in 1799. Since the days of Charlemagne, and into the sixteenth century, the popes had been crowning the Holy Roman Emperors, although even earlier, in 754 AD, Pepin was the first king crowned by a pope. As early as the pope called Gregory the Great, who was born during the rule of Justinian, the Roman church had claimed authority for its bishops as secular potentates (huius saeculi potentes), but this would not have been possible without the earlier laws of Justinian. With the Reformation and the subsequent 30 Years' War the Holy Roman Empire disintegrated. France, however, was still largely a Catholic state, and the new pope – Pius VII – was present and participated in the ceremonies in 1804 when Napoleon was crowned emperor of the French, but Napoleon crowned himself in a ceremony agreed upon in advance with the pope. This was a clear sign that the Roman popes would no longer rule over the monarchs of Europe, and Pius VI had been arrested by Napoleon not long over 1,260 years after Justinian’s Novels were enacted, some time after 534 AD.

From Daniel 7:27-28: “27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. 28 Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.”

It was Napoleon who had put a final end to the temporal power of the papacy, at least outside of Italy. Yet even though the Franks and Gauls were also descended from the ancient Israelites, France did not maintain world hegemony from that time. Rather, the British then rose to world hegemony, when allied with several German states they defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. So Britain, and then America, a nation formed primarily of colonists from Britain and Germany, have had world hegemony ever since, for better or for worse. And even in their direst circumstances, one must see Daniel 7:27 as a promise that they shall never be completely supplanted. However during this same process, Satan was released from the pit, and that shall be a subject of discussion in later chapters of the Revelation.

For now we shall commence by revisiting verses 11 and 12 in this chapter, now that we have established the correlations with Daniel and provided some background history on the creation of the institution of the papacy:

12 And all the authority of the first beast it practices in his presence. And it makes the earth and those dwelling in it that they shall worship the first beast, who had been healed from the wound of its death.

The first beast represented the world empires, which is also how the Roman Catholic Church was developed under the pretense of being the “one true church”, an idea that was never Christian in the first place. The apostles left behind a collection of independent and self-governing Christian assemblies which consisted of the scattered children of Israel, and they are the Church of Yahweh and the Body of Christ. The first beast of Revelation chapter 13, the fourth world empire of Daniel's vision, had been healed of its wound under the guise of the imperial papacy. The popes, crowning the kings of Europe, had all the power of the first beast. The Holy Roman Empire was not a separate beast, but rather – its emperors having been coronated by the popes – it was a part of this beast. Therefore the Holy Roman Emperors are not the seventh beast of Revelation chapter 17, as Bertrand Comparet and others have claimed in the past, however that shall be discussed further in its appropriate place.

13 And he shall make a great sign, that even fire would be made from heaven to descend to [P47 and the MT manuscripts following Andreas of Caesareia have ‘upon’] earth before men, 14 and he would deceive those dwelling upon the earth through the signs which have been given to him to make in the presence of the beast, saying to those dwelling upon the earth to make an image for [or ‘to’] the beast, who has the wound of the sword and has lived.

The popes made fire come down upon the earth by making war against the saints, and forcing the various nations of Christendom into papal idolatry with the threat of war and interdict. All Christians under the authority of the popes were forbidden from trading with or giving charity to those placed under a papal interdict, which was sometimes even kings and entire nations. The image of the beast was all of the pomp and majesty and regal appearance of the papacy, which the people worshipped just as their forebears had worshipped the pomp of imperial Rome, and many still do unto this very day, turning out in the hundreds of thousands wherever the popes travel, to get a glimpse of an old man waving back at idolaters, even frequently from a bullet-proof van. The priests, bishops and cardinals of the Roman church are celebrities, and rather than being servants of the community they deprive it of its wealth and sustenance. They are worshipped by the people just as the pope is – and all of this is in addition to the idolatry of the Roman religion in the statues, images and relics it has placed upon pedestals over the centuries.

15 And there had been given to him to give a spirit [or breath, πνεῦμα] to the image of the beast, in order that [א and the MT want ‘in order that’] the image of the beast may also speak and may [א has ‘shall’] make it that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be slain.”

The 3rd century papyrus P47 has a shorter version of verse 15 which reads: “And there had been given to it to give a spirit to the image for which to make it that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be slain.” We would be inclined towards this shorter reading, except for want of a second ancient witness.

One of Martin Luther's major complaints against the Roman Catholic Church was the selling of indulgences, which were promoted as tickets out of Purgatory for oneself or one's loved ones that were purchased from the Church. Buying such an indulgence, naive Christians were led to believe that in such a manner, their deceased loved ones would enter into Heaven. Of course, neither Purgatory nor the concept of indulgences are Scriptural, but the Roman Church taught them and by them it was able to transfer a large amount of wealth from the people of Europe, and especially those of Germany, into their own greedy coffers. Martin Luther realized that Yahshua Christ already paid the only price necessary for the salvation of His people, and so the Roman Church had no right collecting anything further for that purpose. The Roman Church was and still is a racket, a criminal enterprise which oppresses all those who prescribe to it any authority. In order to uphold this enterprise, many men were slain, and especially those reformers and men of other Christian sects who had opposed the popes of Rome, as we had explained in relation to the Reformation in earlier chapters of this Commentary.

16: “And it makes all, those who are small and those who are great and those who are wealthy and those who are poor and those who are free and those who are slaves, that they have given to them an engraved mark upon their right hand or upon their forehead [P47 and the MT manuscripts following Andreas of Caesareia have ‘foreheads’], 17 and [א and C want ‘and’] in order that one would not be able to buy or to sell if he has not [or ‘unless he has’] the mark: the name of the beast or the number of his name.”

In verse 16, the 3rd century papyrus P47 and the traditional manuscripts of the Majority Text have the plural form of the word, engraved marks. The phrase is translated from a single word, χάραγμα, which Liddell & Scott define as any mark engraven or imprinted, or among other similar things, an inscription, then metaphorically a mark, stamp or character.

In verse 17, the 3rd century papyrus P47 ends the clause to read “if he has not the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name”, where it and the Majority Text both have the singular form of the same word for mark. The Codex Sinaiticus (א) has “if he has not the mark of the beast or its name or the number of its name.” The Codex Ephraemi Syri (C) has “if he has not the mark of the name of the beast or the number of its name.” Our text follows the Codex Alexandrinus (A) and the Majority Text.

But while we have more fully and precisely translated χάραγμα as engraved mark, here we shall we interpret the mark metaphorically, and not literally. In order to begin to understand what is meant here, we must cite the law from Deuteronomy chapter 6: “4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” This is found again in Deuteronomy chapter 11 where we read concerning the commandments: “18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

As the Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon explains, only much later in history did Talmudic Jews take this commandment literally, and begin to wear portions of the law in small boxes on their heads which they called phylacteries, after φυλακτήριον, a Greek word which means a safe-guard or preservative, or for that reason even a guard post. The fact that Jews use a Greek word for this purpose often indicates that the original Hebrew word had a different meaning. In his own definition for the Hebrew word which I would transliterate as towtapah or towthaphah, Gesenius described it as a band which held something in place. Then while Gesenius mentioned the phylacteries of the Jews, he admitted that such an interpretation “requires proof”, which of course does not exist. So in order to better understand the Hebrew term, we would refer to the Greek Septuagint, where in all three occasions that the phrase “frontlets between thine eyes” appears in the King James Version of the Old Testament from this Hebrew word, the Greek has a phrase which Brenton correctly translated as “immoveable before thine eyes”, or on one occasion, “fixed before your eyes.”

So the commandments of Yahweh God were to be worn by the people as a sign upon their right hands, and as something which was fixed like a band upon their foreheads, but in the period of the Old Testament, that was not understood literally, but metaphorically. Nobody during the Judges or the Kingdom periods had worn the Talmudic Jewish phylacteries, or perhaps there should have been a word in Hebrew which described that device precisely. It certainly was not understood in that manner in the Septuagint, so that alone refutes the Talmudic Jews.

Rather, having something as a sign upon one’s right hand and upon ones forehead is an indication of what laws or customs a man lives by, what it is that guides him through life. This we also see in another metaphorical use of same the term, which we have not mentioned yet, but we did say that the word “frontlets” appears three times. The third occasion is in Exodus chapter 13, and we shall read several verses so as to grasp the full context: “11 And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, 12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD'S. 13 And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. [Yahweh would rather have a lamb than an ass, but today most people would only bring Him asses.] 14 And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: 15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16 And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.”

So the dedication of the firstborn of man and beast was symbolic of the deliverance from Egypt, and the children of Israel were to keep that commandment, and live their lives accordingly. So it is where it is also described in that manner of the commandments in Deuteronomy, That having them as a sign on one’s right hand and on one’s forehead metaphorically indicates that one should keep the law and regulate his life by the law. But if one sets aside the laws of God and neglects them in favor of the laws of men, then evidently one has taken the mark of the beast in those same places.

The Roman Catholic popes upheld the right to proclaim what is called an interdict, which is a censure that prohibits a person, city, district, or even an entire kingdom from partaking of communion and other ecclesiastical benefits. Today it is mainly ceremonial, and keeps people out of church on Sunday. But in the Middle Ages, when the bishops had temporal control in their respective communities and when the popes ruled over the kings of Europe, the interdict was much more serious. Once under the interdict, one could not participate in trade nor receive any sustenance from nor have any other type of communion with the community at large, or with the surrounding communities.

While excommunication was more serious than the interdict, the interdict was sort of a temporary excommunication, until the subject of the interdict returned to the obedience of the Roman Catholic Church. A stronger form of excommunication was a ritual pronunciation of anathema, which the popes undertook in order to condemn a person to hell – as if they actually had any real heavenly authority to do such a thing. The Council of Trent, which was held in the mid-sixteenth century, during the Reformation, pronounced an anathema upon anyone who disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church in any way. These decrees have never been canceled, and so the official position of the Roman church to this very day is that anyone who does not worship the pope is condemned to hell.

One may object to the assertion that obedience to the pope is worship of the pope, but it most certainly is. The Bible defines service to God as obedience to the Word of God (cf. Romans 6, 1 Peter 3). Christ Himself had said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 4: “10… Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” One cannot honor God, and serve a pope, a mere man, who rules over the world under the laws of man. The apostles had also professed likewise, where it is recorded in Acts chapter 4: “19 But Petros and Iohannes replying said to them: “Whether it is just before Yahweh to listen to you, or rather to Yahweh, you decide.” Then we read in Acts chapter 5: “29 But replying Petros and the ambassadors said ‘It is necessary to be obedient to Yahweh rather than to men.’”

Revelation 13:18: “Thus is wisdom: he having a mind must calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number [P47 and א want ‘and his number’] is six hundred sixty-six.”

Here the Codex Ephraemi Syri (C) has “six hundred sixteen”, having δέκα in place of ἑξήκοντα in the phrase ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἕξ. The 3rd century papyrus P47 and the Majority Text have the alphabet symbols chi, xi, stigma which represent numerals for the value 666; our text follows the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Sinaiticus (א), which vary insignificantly.

Throughout history and to this very day the Roman popes have considered themselves to be the so-called Vicar of Christ, using the title Vicar of the Son of God in Latin. A vicar is essentially a substitute. But a living God does not need a substitute. So this title is quite pretentious, and it is not Christian because it basically denies the kingship of Christ, the fact that Christ lives, and the efficacy of God on earth. So the popes have always claimed the title Vicarius Filii Dei, which literally means Substitute for the Son of God. Counting the value of the Latin letters of this title in the signification which they had in ancient Rome, for those letters which have a value in the Latin system, the total of the value is 666. Here is the number of the beast in a title that the popes themselves had claimed and used, a title which is in itself a blasphemy, and in the language and system of numbers which the popes themselves had used, in Latin, which is historically the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore it is not a stretch to imagine that this is a final and significant indication of the identification of this beast in the popes of Rome. There should be no doubt that this paragraph portrays the Roman Catholic papacy.

In the Greek system of numeral notation, every letter had a value. Alpha through Theta were used to represent 1 through 9, Iota through Koppa were used to represent 10 through 90, and Rho through Sampi were used to represent 100 through 900. This description necessarily includes some obsolete letters, of which there were three. So even though the use of Koppa, Sampi and Digamma, which probably looked like our letter F but which was later replaced by Stigma and which represents the numeral 6, had in both language and spelling all been discontinued, the Greeks had maintained them from ancient times for this purpose.

But in Latin, not all letters had a value when they were employed as numerals. Rather, they only employed seven letters as numerals, I, V, X, L, C, D and M, and they used combinations of these to represent their numbers. So when we sum the values of those letters which were used as numerals, ignoring those which were not used as numerals, in the phrase vicarius filii dei the total amounts to six hundred and sixty-six.

V

5

F

D

500

I

1

I

1

E

C

100

L

50

I

1

A

-

I

1

R

-

I

1

I

1

V

5

S

-

112

53

501

= 666

But this is not necessarily the number of the antichrist. This number appears in Scripture as a mark only in reference to this second beast of Revelation chapter 13, and helps us to identify this beast. So that must be the primary interpretation of the mark here. Then in spite of the fact that other interpretations may seem to be more than mere coincidences, even if they do correlate to the dragon which had given its authority to the beast, we shall not discuss them here regardless of how appropriate they seem to be because they are based in conjecture and not in Scripture.

 

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