The Beast From the Sea - Page 3 (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The Greek grammar is vague, so that the phrase may belong with “written” or with “slain.” In the former case the meaning is that Christians who choose to be faithful are those whom God has already chosen, an ironic affirmation of human responsibility and divine sovereignty, of human decision and the grace of God (Romans 8:28-30; see notes on 13:9-10). In the latter case, the meaning is that Christ’s death was not a contingent accident of history, but was a part of the divine plan from the beginning. Both understandings are true to John’s theology, but the NRSV is probably correct here, as suggested by verses 9-10.


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.

“If any man have an ear, let him hear.” In a format similar to the exhortation to the seven churches of Asia Minor (chapters 2-3) this passage gave an invitation to the individuals who would listen. The dream of many today, of a universal church and a universal religion, will be realized in the end time, but it will be satanic and blasphemous instead of involving worship of the true God. In such a situation, appeal can only be made to individuals who will turn from it to God. In every age God speaks to those who will “hear,” a concept mentioned frequently in the Gospels (Matthew 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8; 14:35).

“He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.” In contrast with the invitation addressed to the seven churches where each exhortation was addressed to the church, the mention of churches is notably absent here. This is another indication that the church has been raptured before the time of these events. Revelation, instead of being interpreted as addressed only to 1st-generation Christians facing persecution, is better understood as an exhortation to believers in all generations but especially those who will be living in the end times. Those who are willing to listen are reminded that their obedience to the word of God may result in their “captivity” or martyrdom.

“Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” When John wrote this to the Romans it was for the purpose if bracing believers to act courageously “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30). It is a call for endurance and trust, no matter what the cost. If the Christian community opposes the beast (i.e., the Roman Empire) and refuses to worship it, they should expect suffering and even death, because it is an inevitable outcome of their opposition. However, that is not their concern. Whatever happens, their only response should be faithful perseverance.
John’s reformulation of Jeremiah 15:2 “And if they

ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says: “‘Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity.’” and Jeremiah 43:11 “He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword.”, again affirming that what seems to be human decisions are included within the sovereignty of God.

“Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” is a call for patient endurance (steadfastness, perseverance; see 14:12) and trust on the part “of the saints,” no matter what the cost. If the Christian community opposes the beast (i.e., the Roman Empire) and refuses to worship it, they should expect suffering and even death, because it is an inevitable outcome of their opposition. However, that is not their concern. Whatever happens, their only response should be “faithful perseverance.”





Scripture Reference
1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.” (Revelation 1:1-2)
2 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
3 Daniel 7:4-6
“4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.”
4 “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.” (Revelation 13:14)
5 “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” (Revelation 5:6)
6 “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)



Special Notes
aThe doctrine that there are two independent divine beings or eternal principles, one good and the other evil.
b Or rather, God permitted him.

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