Second Earth Beast
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50. Second Earth Beast
Revelation 13.11-18

"Then I saw a second earth beast coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb but spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the first beast's authority on his behalf and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, who had its fatal wound healed. And it performed great signs, even causing a fire to come down from heaven to the earth in the people's full view. Because of the signs, the first beast gave it the power to perform. It deceived the earth's inhabitants. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the wounded beast by the sword and yet lived. The second earth beast received power to give breath to the first beast's image so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or forehead not to buy or sell unless they had the mark, the beast's name, or number. This question calls for wisdom. Let the insightful person calculate the beast's number, for it is a man's number. That number is 666." (Revelation 13.11-18) ✞

Unholy Trinity

Unholy TrinityRevelation's unholy trinity of three evil beasts comprises the dragon, the earth beast, and the sea beast. These are opposed to the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God limits the unholy trinity's power to a short time, and even then, God is still in control. The term "Trinity" comes from "triad," meaning "threefold," and defines God as three persons together. The "three persons in one God," though distinct, are of one substance. Jesus told his disciples to use the Trinitarian formula in Matthew 28.19 and to "baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

The Great Persecution

Spiritual GrowthIn great persecution times, John saw believers exercise patient endurance and faithfulness under this unholy trinity. Tough times are also spiritual growth opportunities. The Devil here compels the earth's inhabitants to worship the beast. The second beast has a fatal wound, which some early Christians believed indicated a revived Nero, Roman Emperor, from 37-68 AD. He ruthlessly and relentlessly persecuted Christians. He was responsible for many thousand innocent deaths and martyrdom. The significance of the beast's fatal injury is that Nero committed suicide on the 9th June, 68 AD, and died from a self-inflicted throat wound! This Revelation 13 passage deals with "the second earth beast's power." In a general sense, the second earth beast seems to mean the organization enforcing the Empire's Caesar worship. This earth beast performs great signs and wonders, such as heavenly fire, and the second earth beast speaks. In every Roman Empire city, town, and village, the official act of burning incense and worship occurred at the emperor's statue.

Pagan Priest's Miracles

Emperor Domitian BustIn ancient religions, the priests knew how to produce illusionary signs, tricks, wonders and create a speaking image by throwing their voice. WickiHow tells us, "This is known as the 'distant effect' and makes your voice sound as if it comes from a distance." In Moses' time, Pharaoh employed his magicians to conjure up tricks and to use ventriloquism in this way. This earth beast has "two lamb's horns," a grim parody of the Lamb of God in Revelation 5.6-8 with seven horns. It also speaks "like a dragon" or "a serpent."

Emperor Image Worship

Garden of EdenThe emperor's image-worship tested citizens' loyalty and punished Christians and others who refused. "An image in the beast's honor" probably refers to the serpent who seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden. The imperial priesthood could easily use this seductive appeal to produce emperor image worship. "Look what Rome has done for you." they could say. "Look at the peace and prosperity you enjoy. Have you ever known a greater benefactor than the emperor? Surely in simple gratitude, you can give him this simple worship act?" There are always excellent arguments why we should compromise with the world and worship other gods, but we betray Christ once again when we do.

Second Earth Beast

Caligula's BustThe "second earth beast" is given power so that those who do not offer worship are killed or imprisoned. That was the Law. If Christians refused to burn incense to Caesar's image, they were liable to death. If Christians disobeyed and did not get the beast's mark, they could not buy or sell in the marketplace or engage in any business. Refusing to perform emperor worship would economically ruin a person even if they lived. The world knows how to bear pressure on those who will not accept its standards. A Christian may have to choose between material success and Jesus Christ's loyalty.

Beast Tattoo Mark

Jewish PhylacteriesA person who worshipped the beast received the beast tattoo mark on their forehead or right hand. The King James Version interestingly translates Revelation 13.15-18 as "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or their foreheads." Note here that "the mark" is received "in their right hand" or "in their forehead." Science has developed and can insert a tiny computer chip in an animal or person's body in the frontal brain to cause mood changes or as a locator chip. Owners routinely have a computer chip embedded under the dog or cat's loose neck skin to identify and locate them if lost. Revelation 13.15-17 tells us that in ancient Rome, everyone worshipping Caesar's image has the beast tattoo mark inscribed "in their right hand or forehead."


Star TattooA tattoo is a form of bodily decoration in a broad pattern and color range. The word "tattoo" comes from two 18th-century terms, "tattow" and the Polynesian "tatau." It is prohibited in Leviticus 19.18, "You must not make any cuts in your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD." Joseph Banks (1743-1820), Captain Cook's naturalist on board HMS Endeavour, describes "tattowing" in the South Sea Islands. In his journal, he wrote, "I shall now mention the way they mark themselves indelibly; each of them by their humor or disposition." It seems that in the South Sea Islands, warriors and their wives chose to express their individuality by the tattoo marks made on them between the age of twelve and fourteen. It was an ancient rite of passage and custom.


Tattoo WristA bone or metal point inscribed a mark, symbol, or ornamental pattern with ink into a person's skin, and the resulting scar made it permanent. Tattooing was known as "painting, scarring, or staining." A Scythian chieftain's mummified and tattooed arms were found in Siberian and are 2,500 years old. Roman Empire citizens practiced human branding widely. Livestock branding is a similar technique used today on animals such as beef cattle. Human branding is performed with the person's consent or as a mark of either punishment or enslavement. Another use marks the rite of passage of a person in a group. Owners often branded their slaves. In the Roman era, "FGV" for "fugitivus," meaning "they are fugitives," was marked on runaway slaves. Sometimes, soldiers branded themselves with their general's name if they were primarily devoted to him. This branding corresponded to our modern custom of tattooing the name of a husband, girlfriend, wife, mother, or even the regiment badge in which one served upon one's person.

Jewish Phylactery

PhylacteryThe beast tattoo mark on the right hand or the forehead in Revelation 13 is a grim parody of a sacred Jewish custom. The phylactery, or "tefillin," is a little leather prayer box containing Hebrew texts on a leather strap worn during weekday morning prayers. Deuteronomy 6.8-9 reminds people to respect the law. "Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the house's door frames and your gates." Devout Jewish believers, therefore, nail a small leather box on the doorpost at the house's entrance as a reminder. In Exodus 13.8-9, they are told, "On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'" This observance is a forearm or forehead sign that the Lord's law is on their lips and in their minds. These mark the relationship between the owner and his God.

An Ownership Seal

TattooIn Revelation 13.16, the word for "the beast mark" is "charagma," which means a "stamp or an imprinted mark." Every purchase or sale carried a "charagma" or seal in the Roman Empire. The emperor had a seal stamped in the clay of oil or wine jars before firing. That item's source is then known. The seal bore the emperor's identity and the date, and they marked every wine and oil jar in this way. The word "beast mark" is used seven times in Revelation and once in Acts. Sometimes domestic slaves were branded with their owner's mark. Usually, owners only marked them if they attempted to run away or been guilty of some serious misdemeanor. The British Army tattooed the capital letter "D" on deserters. Concentration camps like Auschwitz branded their prisoners with an identifying forearm number. Such a mark was sometimes called a "stigma," a word we still use in English to mean "a mark of disgrace."

Mark of Cain

Beast"The mark of Cain" is mentioned in Genesis 4.15, "Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him." Cain is cursed and marked for life, possibly with a forehead tattoo for killing his brother Abel. If Revelation's tattoo connects with this, it means that those who worship the beast are the beast's property, marked out by his ownership tattoo. The "mark on his forehead" appears nine times in the New Testament. Other parts of Revelation contain it, particularly Revelation 14.9. Jesus asks his disciples in Matthew 22.21, whose head is on the coin that he holds. Jesus says, "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God, what is God's." All Roman coinage bore the emperor's stamped head and inscription. Today, this custom comes down to us with some of the Presidents' heads on American coins and banknotes and Queen Elizabeth 2nd's head on British or Canadian currency. Technically, all money belongs to the person marked on it.

Six Sixty Six

Six Sixty SixIf the number "666" connects with the beast, it means that those who worship the beast from the sea are his devoted followers. Assigning a numerical value to a word or phrase is technically known as "gematria" from the Greek word meaning "geometry." The "Beast Number" is "humanity's number," according to Revelation 13. In this passage, the beast tattoos or brands his adherents with the number "666." There is much speculation about the identity of the Revelation beast number, and Christians have probably discussed this more than any other Bible question. John of Patmos here challenges his readers to try to understand this number's meaning. He says, "This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number." John then gives his readers a clue, "it is the number of a man."

Worship Certificate

Emperor's Head on CoinWhen a person burned their incense pinch before Caesar in the town square, they received a certificate. The "beast number 666" may refer to this worship declaration, which Christians could only obtain by denying their faith. This certificate was necessary for business. Without it, they would receive no work and become destitute.

Numerical Values of Letters

Emperor NeroEach of the alphabet letters in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin has a numerical value. The Latin "X" means "ten," and the letter "V" means "five. Many possible combinations of letters produce the Revelation number 666 and suggest many candidates. Some have proposed Emperor Nero, the great Early Church persecutor, others Communism, and even Napoleon or Adolph Hitler. If the number seven is the Bible's perfect number, and if three sevens, 777, represented complete perfection, then 666 falls short of this standard and indicates absolute imperfection or evil in a person or thing.

Emperor Nero's number

Nero Letters = 666John of Patmos uses numbers to identify a person, in this case, Nero, without the Roman authorities realizing it. The number 666 describes Revelation's beast and probably is a disguised reference to 'NERO KESAR' or "Emperor Nero's name" because of the great persecution he initiated against the Christian Faith. "The number of a man" may be translated as "humanity's number." In the Nineteenth Century, James Austin Bastow (1810-1894), a Primitive Methodist Minister in Lancashire England, identified the number as having a symbolic numerical correlation to Emperor Nero. The Greek name "Nero" transliterated into Hebrew letters reads, "N-R-O-N Q-S-R," the numeric value of "50+200+6+50+100+60+200," adding up to "666"! "Nero" symbolized all the Roman Empire's evils. ✞

Six Sixteen

Dice Number SixA few early Bible manuscripts have the number "616" in place of "666." "616" strangely also further points to Emperor Nero. The Greek form of Nero's name adds up to "666," and the Latin form adds up to "616." "Papyrus 115," the oldest preserved manuscript of the Book of Revelation from c317 AD, as well as "Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus," gives the number of the beast as "616," not "666." Another early manuscript has "616" written out in full as "six hundred and sixteen!" Interestingly, "888" is the Greek number by the same calculation for "Jesus." Whoever or whatever "666" or "616" points to, whether to Adolf Hitler or the "world's unified governments" or "Emperor Nero," it symbolizes an unholy force full of evil designed to undo Christ's work and that of his followers. Jesus as 888 supersedes them all. ✞

"Second Earth Beast"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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