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Revelation chapter 13

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King James Version

What does Revelation chapter 13 mean?

This chapter contains four of the most iconic concepts contained in Revelation. The two "beasts" described here are the figures often referred to as the Antichrist and the False Prophet. The symbol mandated for all followers of Antichrist, administered by the False Prophet, is the mark of the beast, which is further related to the number 666.

The first beast is described as coming from the sea. Most interpreters see this as a reference to the Mediterranean, and this person as a political-military leader with roots in that area. The description of this creature is peculiar, but entirely symbolic, with each aspect representing part of that figure's power or character. This figure will be empowered by Satan to exert near-unlimited power over the earth. This includes persecution and murder of Christians, accompanied by overt blasphemy against God, and cult-like worship from the people of earth. In most interpretations, this is the end-times figure popularly referred to as the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1–10).

The second beast arises from the land, which some interpret as a reference to Israel. As with the first beast, the symbolic description suggests his role and characteristics. In this case, those are mostly spiritual and religious. This person is most typically labelled as the False Prophet, though his attempts to mimic Jesus suggest it might be fair to title this figure as "the" Antichrist. This person is also supernaturally empowered by the Devil, performing false miracles and leading people to worship the first beast (Revelation 13:11–15).

The second beast also implements a worldwide identification: the mark of the beast. Earlier passages referred to God placing a "seal" on His people. This used the Greek root word sphragis, which is a signet or signature expressing value and protection. The "mark" of Satan, however, is described using the word charagma, which is what livestock owners use to mark their animals: a brand. Later statements in Revelation make it clear the mark of the beast is not something taken by accident—those who accept this mark do so knowing that it means worshipping the beast and rejecting God. Those who refuse to take this mark—such as Christians—will be unable to buy or sell anything, and many will be executed. This mark is connected, in some unknown way, to the figure 666 (Revelation 13:16–18).
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