Who or What Is the PROPHETIC BEAST?
prophecy reveals events of our time and world-shaking events soon to
change your life. A major world-shaking event is foretold in the
symbolic language of a mysterious, world-dominating, wild beast.The Good News is publishing, serially, Editor-in-Chief Herbert W. Armstrong's newest booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?
entire beast of Revelation 17—the revivals of the Roman Empire—is a
part of the seven heads of Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 because it
comprises the last seven horns.
Yet this revived Roman Empire is "the eighth" system, differing from the seven before it (Revelation 17:11).
The number of the beast—666
shall we find that mysterious number 666? Does the pope, as some claim,
wear it on his crown, identifying him as the beast of Revelation 13? Or
must we look for it elsewhere?
Here are all the Bible scriptures
speaking directly of this number: "And that no man might buy or sell,
save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of
his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the
number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is
Six hundred threescore and six" (Revelation 13:17-18).
saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had
gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his
mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass,
having the harps of God" (Revelation 15:2).
Note these points
From these scriptures, we have the following definite points:
1) The beast has a number and may be identified, if we have wisdom, by this number.
2) The number is 666.
We are told to count this number—that is, add it up. The same Greek
word is used elsewhere only in Luke 14:28: "Count the cost."
This number, 666, is the number of the beast. The only Bible
interpretation of this symbol, "beast," is a kingdom or the king who
rules a kingdom and therefore really is the kingdom (Daniel 7:17-18,
22-24, 27). Therefore this number 666 must be the number of the
KINGDOM, or GOVERNMENT, or EMPIRE, as well as that of the king who
founds or rules it.
5) The expression "the name of the beast, or
the number of his name" makes plain that the number 666 is the number
of the name of the kingdom or empire.
6) The expression "it is
the number of a man" shows we must also count this number in the name
of the king, or ruler, over the kingdom identified as the "beast."
The beast is not the woman
In the 17th chapter of Revelation we find a beast, and a woman —a great, wealthy but fallen woman—who was riding the beast.
Bible describes the symbol "woman" to mean a church (see II Corinthians
11:2, Revelation 19:7, Ephesians 5:22-27). On the other hand, "beast"
is a symbol of a kingdom, or empire.
Let us be consistent. The
beast of Revelation 13 is not the woman who rode the beast—the beast is
the government, and the woman is a church.
The beast of Revelation 13 is the Roman Empire!
beast had a deadly wound (Revelation 13:3). That means the beast ceased
altogether to exist or function as it had since 31 B.C. Yet its deadly
wound was later healed, after which (verse 5) it continued to exist
another 1,260 years!
Those who believe a church is the beast say
this deadly wound came in 1798. But the church did not cease to
function in that year. Napoleon's abuse of the pope in 1798 could in no
sense be called a wound to death. And those who teach this do not
expect that church to continue on another 1,260 years.
The founder of Rome
founder and first king of Rome was Romulus. The Roman Empire was named
after him. His name, the name of a man, is the name of the kingdom.
Every citizen in the kingdom bears the same name —each is a Roman.
John wrote this Revelation, telling us to count the number of the
beast, he wrote in Greek, so we should look for this name, and the
number 666, in this language recognized in the Bible, not in the Latin.
are all familiar with the Roman numerals, where letters are used for
numbers: I is 1, V is 5, X is 10, etc. But many do not know that the
Greek language, the language in which the book of Revelation was
written, also uses letters for numbers.
In the Greek, this name
was understood in the second century A.D. to have originally been
spelled Lateinos. It signifies "Latin man" or "the name of Latium,"
from which region the Romans derived their origin and their language.
This word, too, signifies "Roman."
In the Greek, L is 30, A is 1, T is 300, E is 5, I is 10, N is 50, O is 70, S is 200.
Count these figures. They count to exactly 666!
is indeed no coincidence that the name of the kingdom, its founder and
first king, and of each man in the kingdom, counts to exactly 666!
Certainly the beast stands identified!
And Mussolini, too
But the same number—666—was also branded in Latin on the man who dominated the puny sixth head of the symbolic beast.
called himself "Il Duce." Italians shouted "Viva Il Duce!" which means
"long live the chief." Everywhere in Italy was found the printed sign,
"vv il duce."
The "vv" is the abbreviation used for "Viva." A
"V" is used instead of the "U" as is very commonly done. While this is
a greeting, or title, Mussolini actually employed "Il Duce" as a name.
It is in Latin. Count it.
V is 5, V is 5, I is 1, L is 50, D is 500, V is 5, C is 100, E has no number.
Now count them, and you have exactly 666!
Thus this number 666 is indelibly branded upon the Roman Empire!
some will ask, does not this number apply to the pope? Some teach "the
words 'Vicarius Filii Dei' are on the pope's triple crown." The pope
does, on some occasions, wear a triple crown, but these words are not
on it! We should prove all things.
The denomination that teaches
this sent Professor C.T. Everson to Rome, where he gained access to and
searched the Vatican archives, but he could find no crown or record of
such a crown containing these words.
Furthermore, these words
are in the Latin, not a Bible language. This is not a name, but a
title, and it is the name of the beast, and the number of the name of
the man of the beast, we are told to count. Further, this Latin title
does not apply to a kingdom, or empire, but alone to a man.
so the number 666 is branded on the Roman Empire, on the founder and
first king of the Latins, on every Roman, and even on Mussolini.
Could anything be any more conclusive?
The two-horned beast
Satan has his civil government on earth. He gave this government "his power, and his seat, and great authority."
also has organized religion as his instrumentality in deceiving the
world. In II Corinthians 11:14, we find Satan is transformed into an
"angel of light." According to Revelation 12:9 and 20:3, he has
deceived the whole world.
Paul tells us in II
Corinthians 11:13-15. Satan has his ministers who pretend to be the
ministers of righteousness, but are actually false apostles, deceitful
workers, calling themselves the ministers of Christ! Therefore they
claim to be Christian ministers. They are the many, not the few,
because all prophecies say it is the many, not the few, who have been
Satan's main labor for 6,000 years has been the deceiving of the world.
turn to the 13th chapter of Revelation, beginning with verse 11: "And I
beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns
like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon."
Who—what—is this "beast"?
say it will be the United States aligned with the papacy. Some believe
it is a federation of Protestant churches. Others declared it the
Pan-American Union. Most church organizations ignore this very vital
subject completely, or say frankly, "We do not know!"
Why this widespread ignorance, when the answer is so plain? Yes, why indeed?
The Bible interpretation
first, the Bible interprets its own symbols! When men put their own
interpretation on Bible symbols, their conclusions are always false!
Notice, after John saw one beast, which we have proved to be identified
as the Roman Empire, he now sees ANOTHER —a different—beast rise up.
have learned that "beast" is a symbol for a kingdom, or civil
government, and the term represents either the kingdom or its leader,
as the case may be (Daniel 7:17, 23). So this other beast with the two
horns is the prophecy of another kingdom or government.
prophecies, God pictures to us the earthly gentile governments as the
wild beasts whose characteristics describe them. This two-horned beast
appeared as a lamb. But actually it spoke as a dragon—its true
characteristic—for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth
speaketh" (Matthew 12:34).
What does the word "lamb" symbolize,
in the Bible? The answer is, Christ (John 1:29, Revelation 17:14). And
"dragon" is a symbol of the devil (Revelation 12:9, 20:2).
So here is some kingdom or government appearing as that of Jesus Christ, or the Kingdom of God.
did not set up a government (kingdom) at His first appearing on earth.
After His resurrection the disciples asked Him if He would at that time
restore the Kingdom (Acts 1:6), but He did not.
The Church is
not the Kingdom. Because some thought it was, Jesus spoke the parable
of Luke 19:11-27 to show that He first must ascend to His Father's
throne in heaven to receive the royal power to become King of kings, to
set up the world-ruling Kingdom of God. But Satan is a deceiver, and he
has deceived the world into supposing his (Satan's) system of churches
is the Kingdom of God.
Now notice carefully Revelation 13:12: "And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him."
first beast is the Roman Empire. Here is another government pretending
to be Christ's government, the Kingdom of God, taking, exercising,
using, employing all the power of the first kingdom.
"He exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth
the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast,
whose deadly wound was healed" (verse 12).
So, it was after the
deadly wound (of A.D. 476) was healed. It was healed when Justinian
brought about the restoration of the Empire in the West in A.D. 554.
Consequently this religious government exercised power after A.D. 554
when the Roman Empire was restored.
So here we have pictured a
government—a religious government—appearing as Christ's government,
masquerading as the Kingdom of God, actually ruling the civil Roman
Empire after A.D. 554.
The teaching in that day was that the
Second Coming of Christ is fulfilled in the person of the leaders of
the church. The Millennium had begun.
For the entire 1,260
years, the emperors acknowledged the supreme power of religion. The
church was organized as a government —as a dual, twofold government
(symbolized by its two horns or kingdoms—for "horns" symbolize
kingdoms, also— see Daniel 7:24). It embodied church government, and it
also was a state or civil government, always occupying a certain amount
of territory over which it, alone, ruled as an independent sovereign
state—in addition to actually ruling over the vast civil kingdom called
the Holy Roman Empire.
Even today, it is a separate, independent, sovereign state.
this second beast was to wield power over all the earth, because it was
to cause the earth, and them that dwell therein, to worship this first
beast "whose deadly wound was healed"— after 554.
In most any
encyclopedia, under "Millennium," you will read the history of this
very event—of how the "Holy Roman Empire" was called the "Kingdom of
God upon earth."
They claimed the Millennium had arrived!
Revelation 13:14: "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the
means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the
Verse 13 says, "He doeth great wonders."
So notice these three points:
1) This beast performs great miracles.
2) He performed them "in the sight of" the Holy Roman Empire, or the first beast.
3) With them he deceived all nations.
All nations deceived
Where else in the Bible prophecies do we find these same identical facts?
note Revelation 17. Here is pictured a woman. In II Corinthians 11:2,
Ephesians 5:22-27 and elsewhere, we learn that "woman" is a symbol for
church. This woman is a fallen woman —an apostate church—pictured as
ruling over many nations (Revelation 17-:1, 15).
17:3, this false church is pictured sitting on a beast "having seven
heads and ten horns." A woman riding a horse guides, controls, the
horse. It does her bidding. Notice, verse 18, that this woman is "that
great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." Notice, verse
2, the inhabitants of the earth have been deceived by this counterfeit
Christianity. Also, Revelation 18:3, she has deceived all nations.
notice II Thessalonians 2:3-4. The day of Christ— and the coming of
Christ—shall not come, until there be a falling away, and a "man of
sin" be revealed. He exalts himself above all that is called God. As
God, he sits in a temple claimed to be the temple of God, showing
himself to deceive people into accepting him as God. God is our holy
Father. This final man, in a religious office, will claim the same
This wicked man is to be destroyed at, and by, Christ's coming (verse 8).
verses 9-10: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with
all power and signs [miracles] and lying wonders, and with all
deceivableness of unrighteousness."
Here is an important
religious figure who is prophesied to perform miracles and lying
wonders, with which he deceives people everywhere.
This deceiving religious ruler will still be active clear down to Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ!
Revelation 16:13-16 are described three foul spirits. They come from
the dragon, which is the devil; from the beast, which is the civil
Roman ruler; and from the mouth of the false prophet associated with
"For," continues verse 14, "they are the spirits of devils
[demons], WORKING MIRACLES, which go forth unto the kings of the earth
and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day
of God Almighty." And they are gathered, finally, at Armageddon!
it! Yet future, the Roman ruler, as the Roman Empire, is again
restored, along with a great religious leader—and all in the power and
influence of the devil! Working miracles!
All prophecies concerning them show these powers doing the same things!
Now notice the last battle of "that great day of God Almighty." It is in Revelation 19:19-20.
is pictured the beast—"and with him the false prophet that wrought
miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the
mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image."
Note it! Compare with the two-horned beast of Revelation 13:11-17:
1) Both perform miracles.
2) Both perform them before, or in the sight of, the beast.
With them, both the false prophet and two-horned beast deceive them
that have the mark of the beast—cause them to receive that mark
Certainly, then, this two-horned
beast, the false prophet, the man of sin and the woman that rode the
beast are all picturing a counterfeit Christianity.
Now did the two-horned beast deceive the very ones who have the mark of the beast? He did! Continue in Revelation 13:
deceiveth them that dwell on the earth"—how? —". . . saying to them
that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast,
which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give
life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should
both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of
the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great,
rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or
in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell [trade, earn a
living, hold a job], save he that had the mark, or the name of the
beast, or the number of his name" (verse 14-17).
This two-horned beast not only caused people to receive the mark of the
beast (compare Revelation 19:20), but also perpetrated the forming of
an image that caused the martyrdom of saints. As many as would not
worship this image were caused to be killed. This false church did not
kill them—she caused them to be killed.
History shows that the civil government martyred millions who were declared "anathema from Christ" or "heretics."
with the woman who rode the beast in Revelation 17: "And I saw the
woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the
martyrs of Jesus" (verse 6). Certainly these are one and the same.
The image of the beast
this ecclesiastical organization, which is a twofold government,
deceived the people by saying they should make an image of the beast.
Note it (Revelation 13:14)—that is how it deceived people.
is an image? The dictionary says a "likeness," a "copy, representation,
model, semblance, counterpart." So here is a church saying, "Let us
make a model, or counterpart, of the civil Roman government"—for that
is what the beast is.
Jesus Christ proclaimed the Kingdom, or
government, of God —divine government by will of God and by God's law—
not paganized human government by will of man and man-made laws. His
Church includes all Spirit-begotten saints who have and are led by the
Holy Spirit. Christ is its only Head, and His Kingdom is not of this
Where, then, did human church government derive its
present form? "The first pope, in the real sense of the word, was Leo I
(440-461 A.D.)," says the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and
Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. 7, page 629. To him the form of
government of the Roman Empire was the most marvelous thing on earth.
He applied its principles to the church, organized the church into a
government, forming the papacy.
This church government is the image of the beast.
Myers' Ancient History; "During the reign of Leo I, the Church set up,
within the Roman Empire, an ecclesiastical state [government] which, in
its constitution and its administrative system, was shaping itself upon
the imperial model."
This church government, then, according to
this historical authority, is in fact a model, a counterpart, an image
of the beast, which is actually the Roman Empire government.
The Britannica calls it an ecclesiastical world empire!
image—man-designed and man-ruled church government —compelled people to
worship the church! And since the church was organized into a worldly
government, this was worship of the image—false worship—idolatry!
this church became a mother, and daughter churches came out of her in
"protest," calling themselves "Protestant." And all have worldly,
political church government.
"Upon her forehead was a name
written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS" (Revelation
17:5). Her daughters are called "harlots." Together, they are called
"BABYLON." They are pagan, teaching pagan doctrines and customs,
cloaked in the name of Christianity! And all nations are deceived!
human-organized churchianity, not Bible-designed spiritual-organism
government, is the image of the beast. It is the pagan political
counterfeit of God's true government.
"Come out of her," God says (Revelation 18:4). God help us to heed!
by Herbert W. Armstrong Good News December 1985