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Revelation 13 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Revelation 13 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

(13:1-2) John sees a sea monster with 7 heads and 10 horns, with "blasphemy" written on on each head. It looked like a leopard, except its feet were like a bear, and its mouth like a lion.
This beast has very similar properties to the dragon, see chapter 12:3, which had given it its power.

2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

(13:3-4) "All the world" worshiped the dragon and the beast.
(13:5) "Power was given unto him to continue forty and two months."
As a book of symbols, this beast has to be taken symbolically. As a symbol this beast is representative of ungodly and persecuting earthly governments. They tend to last a long time, i.e. the emperors of Rome, the communists in Russia.

4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

The sermon of antichrist
(Luca Signorelli, 1499-1502)

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

(13:7-8) The beast goes to war against the "saints". He is given power (by God?) over all nations, and all non-Christians worship him.
From verse 4 it is clear that it is the dragon, Satan, which gives this beast power: it is fuelled by Satanic influences.

8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

(13:8) "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world"
God planned to kill Jesus before he created the world. (Cf. 1 Peter 1:19)

9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.

10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

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.

(13:11-13) John sees another beast coming out of the earth with horns like a lamb and a voice like a dragon. He could do "great wonders," like make fire come down from the sky.
This is another symbol in this scene, and it is another revelation of the true nature of what we see and experience. This beast is a symbol of every perverted church, and every perverted religion. After a period of glory the New Testament Church began to be corrupted, until it finally gave way to the Roman Catholic church, still called Christian by many, but with the blood of millions on its hand. But it also symbolises other denominations that want to be called Christian and use the name of Christ, but are guilty of horrible crimes, although not on the scale of the Roman Catholic church, such as the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses.

12 And 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.

13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

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 beast; 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.

(13:14-15) The people make an image of the beast that can speak. Anyone who refuses to worship the image is killed.
And how often has this not happened? If you didn't worship the images of the Catholic Church, you were executed.

15 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.

16 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:

17 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.

18 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.

(13:16-18) "The number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
John says that wisdom is knowing that the mark of the beast is 666. Everyone will be marked on their right hand or their forehead with this number.
(13:18) Most scholars agree that the 666 referred to the emperor Nero. Some ancient manuscripts have 616 instead of 666. For more information see here.
Clearly the number is symbolic, and should not be applied to a particular person. Nero would be a particularly bad candidate as he was already long dead by the time John wrote this. The triple six indicates a number that comes short of the perfect seven. And to quote William Hendriksen: “Revelations is a book of symbols, not of riddles.”
The meaning of having the number of the beast on your forehead means that you display by your words and actions that you belong to beast, and do sin with pleasure and delight.
Besides the number 616, 665 is also found. But this variation was already known in the days of Irenaeus (2nd century) who refuted it. So just the usual corrupted copy.