Then it was given to him a mouth to speak loudly, and blasphemies, and it was given to him authority to make war forty-two months.

And he opened his mouth in blasphemies before God, to blaspheme God’s name and God’s tabernacle, the ones residing in heaven.

And then it was given to him to make war with the holy ones and to conquer them, and it was given to him authority over every nation and people and tongue and ethnicity.

Then all the inhabitants upon the earth will be prostrate in homage to him—[but] not even one of the ones having had their names written in the book of life of the lamb, of the one having been slaughtered before the foundation of the cosmos.

If anyone has an ear, hear and listen.

If anyone is for captivity, into captivity that one is led: if anyone is to be killed with a sword, with a sword that one will be killed. In this place is the patient endurance and the faith of the holy ones.

Revelation 13:5-10
Douce Apocalypse – Bodleian Ms180 | By Anonymous, England – [1], Public Domain


Scholars who link this passage with Daniel’s vision describe the beast‘s blasphemies in terms of claiming equality with God and authority to forgive sins, equating these with the papacy.

He shall speak words against the Most High,
    shall wear out the holy ones of the Most High,
    and shall attempt to change the ritual calendar and the law,
and they shall be given into his power
    for a time, two times, and half a time.

Daniel 7:25 (NRSV, emphases mine)

Evidence is provided through the words of such popes* as

Nicholas I (800-867)

“The Roman pontiff judges all men, but is judged by no one …. I have the authority of the King of Kings. I am all in all and above all …. Wherefore, if those things that I do be said not to be done of man but of God, what can you make me but God?”

Leo XIII (1894)

“We hold the place of Almighty God on earth.”

Pius X (d. 1914)

“The Pope … is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh.”

Pius XI (1922)

“you know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means that I am God on the earth.”

Historicists measure 1,260 days as a year, marking the conflict between the Roman Church and those who sought to reform or break away from the Roman Church.

Most start their count at 533, when Justinian appointed the bishop of Rome as head of the world-wide Church. Soon, dissenters were

“… persecuted, beaten, tortured, and mutilated, and killed by various means for the greater part of 1000 years. They were burned, crushed, and impaled; their women were raped and dismembered, and their children killed before their eyes.”

Revelation: Four Views A Parallel Commentary, edited by Steve Gregg, p. 290

Hundreds of thousands of protesters and Protestants were burned alive, suffocated, or otherwise executed until the French Revolution (counting 1793 as the endpoint) – interpreted as God’s judgment against the Roman Church – and Napoleon’s imprisonment of the pope.

The dragon grants power and authority to the beast | By anonymous Russian Old BelieverPublic Domain | Apocalypse with commentaries by Andrew of Caesarea This manuscript was made around 1800 by the “Old Believers,” a group of Russian Christians who dissented from the Russian Orthodox Church and were subsequently persecuted and excommunicated. Because their books were often confiscated and they were forbidden to use printing presses, they continued to write important works such as this one by hand. The manuscript contains the text of the New Testament book of Revelation along with a patristic commentary, which is accompanied by a series of seventy-one striking full-page miniatures.


During about a one-hundred-and-fifty-year span, when Revelation was written, all Roman emperors received and often enforced worship of themselves. The beast, embodied in each emperor, spoke blasphemy by proclaiming their own deity, and the whole earth—the known world—participated by giving allegiance to each Caesar.

This is the crux of Jesus’s statement to Pilate, and the blackmail the religious rulers held over the procurator’s head.

 “Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’”

“… They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

John 18:33, 37, 19:15 (NRSV)

The beast’s war with the saints came as persecution from the Roman Empire, particularly under Nero. Though preterists accept this timeframe as likely symbolic, they note Nero’s program to eradicate Christians began in November, 64 and ended in June, 68—uncannily corresponding to 42 months. Considering the severity of their oppression, and the loss of all but one of the apostles to various forms of execution, John’s oracle gave courage and hope that God would limit the time of the Church’s tribulation.

York Minster, Great East Window | By Coventry glazier John Thornton Public Domain


The advent of the beast is seen as introduction to the second half of the seven-year Great Tribulation, though some see this as the onset of the whole Tribulation. As with other scholars, futurists link this beast with Daniel’s vision of the little horn.

“I was considering the horns when another horn appeared, a little one that came up among them. Three of the original horns were plucked up from before it. There were eyes like human eyes in this horn and a mouth speaking arrogantly.

Daniel 7:8 (NRSV)

The beast is also associated with Paul’s description of the “the man of lawlessness” (also referred to as “the man of sin” in some ancient manuscripts).

“… the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.” 

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (NRSV)

The coming persecution will target those of Jewish faith and descent and will be by far the worst in history. Modern-day technology will make it possible to track and torment any individual, making it hard to hide, even harder to escape.

World-wide worship will be prompted through advertisement, a show of paranormal power, and social, political, economic, and even military pressures. Coercion will be both covert and overt, promoting a global unity found in slavish devotion to the beast and its puppeteer, the dragon. This will be the one-world religion which is also the one-world government.

Special attention is given to the warning, if anyone has an ear, hear and listen, because of its similarity to Jesus’s repeated warning to the churches. Yet, because Jesus would invariably add… to what the Spirit is saying to the assemblies, the significance of this missing second phrase widens John’s oracle to the whole world. Some interpreters also see its absence as proof that all believers have already been taken up into heaven in what is called the Rapture.

Those who patiently endure this horrific Tribulation will one day see God take the captor captive, and throw the killer of God’s people into the lake of fire for all eternity.

Adoration of the beast | By anonymous Russian Old BelieverPublic Domain


Throughout human history, governments have positioned themselves as the god of the people, even by requiring worship:

  • The Pharaohs of Egypt
  • Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar
  • Darius of Persia
  • Emperors of Rome
  • Mao Zedong and Stalin in the twentieth century

Though both Peter and Paul endorse governments as instruments of God, godless governments will abuse their powers and do great evil. Government power “is granted,” and authority “is given,” notice the passive reception. All power and authority, even what the dragon imparts, is ultimately under the hand and authority of sovereign Almighty God.

And that power and authority is also limited.

The beast, for instance, can persecute and kill, but he cannot overcome the faith of the saints. The saints will ultimately triumph with patient endurance.

The beast’s time matches

  • the time of trampling for God’s holy city,
  • the ministry of the two witnesses,
  • the woman’s sustenance in the wilderness,
  • Antiochus Epiphanes’ persecution of the Jewish people in Palestine,
  • Elijah’s drought,
  • Nero’s persecution of Christians,
  • Jesus’s public ministry.

Perhaps the Church’s public ministry is indicated, from inception at Pentecost to ascension at the end of time.

As Jesus told Peter, Christians are to patiently endure rather than actively fight back.

“Put your sword back into its place, for all who take the sword will die by the sword.”

Matthew 26:52 (NRSV)
By Albrecht Dürer – Houghton Library, Public Domain

*All four quotes are taken from Steve Gregg’s book (pp. 287-88)

The four perspectives taken from Revelation: Four Views A Parallel Commentary, edited by Steve Gregg

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