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APOCALYPSE

The Historicist Intepretation

This website is of Hellenic authorship.

This study demonstrates that all of AD History can be found encoded in the prophetic verses of Revelation.

    Most people view the Apocalypse of John as a prophecy about some terrifying events that will take place sometime in the future. The present study intends to show that this view is not correct. Through the use of a relatively unknown method of interpretation, during the course of a verse-by-verse analysis, it will be demonstrated that the Apocalypse is in fact a History book, written in symbolic language, and dealing with that part of History that was still future when the book was written. Here are the Revelations that were given to us almost two thousand years ago:

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        Chapter 1 is an introduction to the book, showing Christ presenting Himself to John.

        Chapters 2 and 3: An overview of Church History (The Seven Churches)

        Chapters 4 and 5 set the stage for what is about to follow.

        Chapter 6: The Roman Empire in decline (The Seven Seals and the Four Horsemen)

        Chapter 7: The spread of Christianity (The 144,000 chosen ones)

        Chapter 8: Fall of the Western Roman Empire (The first four Trumpets)

        Chapter 9: The rise of Islam; fall of the Byzantine Empire (Fifth and sixth Trumpet)

        Chapter 10: The Protestant Reformation (The Angel with the Little Book)

        Chapter 11: The French Revolution (The death and resurrection of the Two Witnesses)

        Chapter 12: The Christian Persecutions (The Woman and the Dragon)

        Chapter 13: The 1260 years of Papal dominance (The two Beasts and the number 666)

        Chapters 14 and 15 prepare us for the description of the events of chapter 16.  

    Chapter 16: Events of the last 200 years: (The Seven Vials)

                             The gradual diminution of Papal temporal power (The first five Vials)

                             The return of the Jews to Palestine (Sixth Vial)

                             Fascism and Nazism (Unclean spirits like frogs)

                             World War II and the Jewish Holocaust (The Battle of Armageddon)

                             Events still future (Seventh Vial)

        Chapter 17: The Napoleonic Era (The woman Babylon and the scarlet Beast)

        Chapter 18 "laments" the punishment of Babylon, the false Church, while chapter 19 recapitulates what has happened so far, after having celebrated the arrival of the true Church, or Bride of Christ. The latter, also named New Jerusalem, is described in detail in chapters 21 and 22, while chapter 20 probably refers to a distant future attack against this glorious City, a thousand years after her arrival.

 

        Summary and Conclusions: If you are in a hurry, then this is the link for you!

 


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Chapters 2 and 3: The Church through the ages

The early Church

    In chapter 1, Jesus Christ presented Himself to John, who is in exile on the Greek island of Patmos. He has just asked him to write in a book everything he is about to see, and send copies of that book to seven of the Churches in Asia Minor. The first Church is the one of Ephesus.

2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

    In Greek, "ephesis" means "a great desire", "a great drive", especially when one is new at something and desires to learn more about it and to become good at it. This corresponds to the Christian Church in her early stages, during which she had the burden of spreading this new teaching to all of the Roman world and beyond, and history tells us that those first Christians were very enthusiastic about their mission.

2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

    An evil person would not want to be a member of this Church, because these Christians, at least during the initial phases of the Church's existence, used to give all their possessions to the Church and the poor. Even at times when this was not common practice, there was no motive for an evil person to join the Christian community, as the latter had little power and was often persecuted. In other words, the early Church "could not bear them which are evil".

    Enthusiasm was quickly diminished, as Christians were disappointed that Jesus did not return during the first century AD, as many had been expecting.

2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

    In those times, being the leader of a Christian congregation meant that one had a cross to carry, since there were continuous threats to the Christian community by the powers of the old order.

2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

    In Greek, "niko" means "I win" and "laos" is "the people". So, the "Nicolaitanes" should mean those who try to win the favour of the people and rule over them. As discussed above, those were very few in the early Church. The local presbyters and bishops were truly servants to their flocks, and did not, with some exceptions, seek to obtain personal power. Such attitudes would have led to divisions and conflicts, and the Church, still young and fragile, could not afford such phenomena, as they would compromise her very existence.

    And this completes the description of the Church of Ephesus.

2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

The persecuted Church

    The next period of Church History was characterized by massive persecutions against Christians, in reaction to the growth of the new religion.

2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

    "Smyrna" is "myrrh", used to make a sacrifice pleasurable to God or the gods. This Church suffered through many tribulations, and many times was she deprived of her possessions, her buildings, and her right to worship God the way she wanted. This was because she was growing rapidly and was becoming dangerous to the existing order, so she had to be drastically dealt with. In times of relative peace, though, there were many false Christians, usually presbyters or bishops, seeking to obtain personal power. This was due, in part, to the growth of the Christian movement, due to which the Christian communities were now stronger and more self-sufficient. Their leaders thus gradually obtained more power and influence. Consequently, a leading position in a Christian community was now becoming more attractive to people seeking such power and influence, evil people in most cases. This situation led to a loosening of the bonds between local congregations. Rivalries thus appeared. Heresies flourished and meaningless disputes took place, with dark motives in most cases.

2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

    "Jews" is a metaphor for "Christians", since the latter are the ones that are "truly circumcised". This metaphor can be found in Paul's Epistles.

    There were many persecutions, even from Nero's time, but the fiercest of all was the one started by Diocletian in January 303. Churches were destroyed, books were burnt, most Christian property was confiscated, and many Christians martyred. In 304, it became obligatory by law that everyone should worship the Graeco-Roman Pantheon only. After Diocletian's abdication in 305, the persecution was continued mainly in the Eastern part of the Empire, where the Christians were more numerous, but with a gradually decreasing severity. In January 313, the Edict of Milan, which established freedom of worship, was issued by Constantine. It was also decided that all confiscated Christian property should be returned to Christians.

2:10 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.

    From 303 to 313 ten years can be counted (the actual persecution had ended before the start of the year 313, but, using the ancient way of estimating time, ten years can be counted from 303 to 312). In the book of Ezekiel it is said that a prophetic "day" corresponds to an actual year, so ten years are symbolized by ten days.

2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

The Empire becomes Christian

    Christianity was then recognized and adopted by the Empire, for which the decisive event was Emperor Constantine's favourable attitude towards it and later conversion to it. Christianity gradually became the official religion of the Empire.

2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

    "Pergamos" can be translated in Greek as "super-marriage", or "a marriage that is larger than proper". Religion was married to the State, and religious leaders often tried to obtain temporal power by forming alliances with temporal leaders. The dispute between Areianism and Orthodoxy was a clear example of this situation, where one side would use the temporal leaders to undermine the other side.

Emperor Justinian

2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

    The Church was now seated on the throne of Satan, meaning that she had won the battle against the ancient polytheistic religion. It can also mean that she had become a friend of the Empire, which had been a bitter enemy of the Word of God during the previous centuries. In chapter 12, it will be shown that the term "Dragon" or "Satan" refers to the powers that are hostile to the Word of God and are, in this case, embodied by the religion of the Graeco-Roman Pantheon and its representatives. "Antipas" is a composition of two Greek words, meaning "against all", and referring to the persecutions, now in the past, where the Christians had been opposing the whole of the old world order.

    The "Nicolaitanes" were flourishing during the era of Pergamos. Well known are the fights between bishops for power. The Areian issue sparked much dispute, and the battle over supremacy between the different Patriarchates would ultimately lead to the great Schism of 1054 between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, in essence present for many centuries before that time. 

2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

     In what way are the "Nicolaitanes" guilty of fornication and idol worship? The Apostle Paul, in one of his Epistles, incites the believers not to be divided into fractions and say "I am a follower of Paul" or "I am a follower of Apollos", but that all should have a common leader, the Word of God. In Paul's days, as has been shown above, such phenomena of division were not the rule. But, as the Christian communities grew stronger and larger, being the leader of such a community became increasingly associated with temporal power. As a result, divisions arose, and the situation described by Paul was now becoming more and more common. Paul said that, when one views oneself as a follower of Paul or Apollos, one forgets about Christ. The Church is symbolically said to be the Bride of Christ, because she is supposed to have the Word of God inside her. But, if the Church forgets about the Word of God, or Christ, and follows other leaders, she commits adultery against Him. And this is why the "Nicolaitanes" (meaning, as discussed above, those who try to win the favour of the people and rule over them), much like Balaam and Balac, were leading the "children of Israel", in this case symbolizing the members of the Church, to commit fornication. Idol worship is the worship of something other than the true God, so the act of following leaders other than the Word of God is, indeed, a form of idol worship. 

2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

    And that was the situation of things in the centuries after Emperor Constantine's time.

2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

The Church in the West

     Incited by the Bishopric of Rome and forced by the circumstances, the Church in the West slowly separated herself from her Eastern counterpart.

2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

    Contrarily to what was going on in the East, the West was in turmoil after the invasions and settlement of mostly Germanic tribes. The Catholic Church undertook the great work of keeping both religion and knowledge alive, mainly through her numerous monasteries, and she also spread the Word of God to Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, the Baltic regions, Poland, Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary, etc. 

2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

    I can't say for sure whether "Thyatira" (or, rather, "Thyateira") means something, but, through a (not very satisfactory) play of (half) words, it could mean "sacrifice to the Empress". The Empress would be the Church of Rome, here named "the woman Jezebel", who fell into the error of the Nicolaitanes and demanded to be worshipped herself, instead of teaching her flock to worship the Lord only. She had once been the Church of Christ, but now she was the Church of Rome; she was not Christ's anymore. In other words, she had committed adultery against her Husband. To follow the Roman Pontiff instead of the Christ is an obvious form of adultery and idol worship. "Jezebel", many centuries later, as history tells us, would be deprived of most of her power, and the results of her "fornication" would disappear from the face of the earth. "Thyatira", through another unsatisfactory play of (half) words, could mean "the sacrifice of the Latins".

2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    In the Greek text, verse 2:20 reads: "because thou sufferest thy woman Jezebel...", meaning that Jezebel is in Thyatira, and the interpretation is that the Church of Rome is a part of the whole Western Church. That part would ultimately gain control of the entire Western Church and completely sever her off from her Eastern sister, while placing her own glory above the glory of Christ throughout the whole Western world. 

    But, apart from those who were promoting the Pontiff's supremacy, the Catholics throughout Europe were, at that time, as mentioned above, engaged in great works.

2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

    These works would prove to be fundamental contributions to the waking up of Europe after the Dark Ages.

2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

2:28 And I will give him the morning star.

2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The corrupted Church

    The Catholic Church, over the centuries, mutated into a veritable theocracy, where the Pope of Rome was the supreme ruler, the representative of Christ on earth, whose authority was not to be questioned.

Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)

     There were no more pagans left to evangelize, so the missionary spirit gradually died down. This is the age of the Inquisition, first established in Toulouse, France, in 1233. It is the age of the abominable Indulgences (forgiveness of sins by the Pope in exchange for money) and of a worldly and corrupted Church, resistant to change and progress. Great campaigns for the silencing of those who disagreed with the Church took place, like the persecution of the Albigenses, the Waldenses and the Hussites, leading to innumerable martyrdoms of true Christian believers. That Church, sadly, no longer had the life-giving Spirit of Christ in her.

3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

    Sardis (or, rather, Sardeis) had been, for a time, the ancient Persian capital, and it was well known for its riches. The Roman Catholic Church did in fact accumulate vast riches during this time, augmented by the later colonization of overseas territories by Catholic countries. The Church did not seem interested in spreading the Word of God anymore, except to the aforementioned colonies, the crimes committed against which are much better known than their evangelization by the explorers/conquerors. 

3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

    It should be stressed, though, that quite a few clergymen and a large number of ordinary people were still faithful to Christ, even though they were outnumbered by those who, out of convenience or ignorance, were worshipping Rome instead of Him.  

3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The enlightened Church

    But eventually the human mind woke up. The Renaissance began, and a new understanding of the Word of God was sought, mainly through the Protestant Reformation. New doors were opened to the human mind.

Martin Luther

3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

    "Philadelphia" (yes, the Greek spelling is "Philadelpheia") means "to love one's brothers", and Christians once again became brothers during this era. The Bible was now available for everyone to read, not imprisoned in dead languages. The Church now had little temporal power, but she was a much more real Church than in the previous centuries. This was true for the Catholic countries as well, after the Church lost much of her temporal power in those countries. 

3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

    In many countries, Roman Catholics converted to Protestantism, abandoning the sterile teachings of Rome to embrace this new understanding of religion, which re-discovered the Scriptures and made them available to the people. Catholicism itself was renewed through the Counter-Reformation, which, although led by the controversial Jesuit order, gave emphasis to education and revived the missionary spirit. The so-called Christians of the Dark and Middle Ages thus slowly evolved into truer Christians.

3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

    This renewed Christian fervour lasted for a few centuries, and then it died down, mainly because of the scientific and technological progress and the great increase in wealth ("temptation") which characterizes the present era.

3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

    The Church would never again be as alive as in the time of the Church of Philadelphia.

3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Today's lukewarm Church

    Let's take a look at the Church of the present day.

3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

    "Laodicea" (Laodiceia) means "the judgment of the people" or "the judgment by the people". If the first one is correct, it could mean that there is to be some kind of "judgment" during or immediately after the "reign" of this Church. Anyhow, this Church is characterized by spiritual indifference. Not rejection of religion, like in the French or Russian Revolutions, which at least shows that one is spiritually awake, but indifference, which shows spiritual staleness. 

3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

    In this day, we have become dependent on material things, and have forgotten about the world of the mind and spirit. We do not strive to fill ourselves with spiritual virtues, but to fill our houses with material possessions instead. 

3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

    The way out of this error is not through the deprivation of material goods, but through the accumulation of spiritual knowledge. These are dangerous times we are living in, and only through the cultivation of the mind and spirit can we make good use of our age's material prosperity.

3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

    Our thirst for material goods has led, in this era, to the greatest catastrophes humankind has ever known, including the destruction of the environment. I believe that, having learned much from these catastrophes, we are slowly beginning to emerge out of this spiritual hibernation.

3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

    This analysis may seem arbitrary to some, but I can't help but observe that there are striking similarities between the Seven Churches and the outline of actual Church History. Jesus asks us to hear with our spiritual, and not literal, ears, meaning that He wants us to understand a hidden meaning behind these messages to the Seven Churches. Throughout the Apocalypse, a group of seven things denotes a chronological sequence of events or situations with a common theme. Seven also denotes totality. Thus, the Seven Churches must symbolize the course of the Church throughout history.

3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

 

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22

Chapter 6: Decline of the Roman Empire - Triumph of Christianity

    In chapter 5, a book with seven seals is presented to John. He is told that no one can break the seals and open the book, except Jesus Christ. John then sees a Lamb with seven eyes (all-knowing) and seven horns (all-powerful). In chapter 6, the Lamb breaks the seals and opens the book. World History thus begins to unfold before our eyes, starting with the decades after the lifetime of Jesus.

6:1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

The winning years of the Empire

    The Roman Empire was in peak strength for a long time after Jesus' lifetime. Until the end of the second century AD, there was political stability, strong and long-lasting emperors, peace (the Pax Romana) and prosperity. The borders of the Empire were expanding.

6:2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

www.revelationillustrated.com

    The map on the left shows the Empire in the year 47 AD, while the one on the right shows what the Empire looked like in 116 AD, at the height of conquest, under Emperor Trajan:

47 AD

116 AD

Decline sets in

    But then disorder arised, and the emperors started succeeding each other very quickly, usually through assassinations and civil wars. In the third century AD, rarely did any emperor rule for more than five years, and they were usually assassinated or killed in battle. Large parts of the Empire declared their independence, led by renegade army commanders or local chiefs.

6:3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

6:4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

    This is what the Empire looked like in 260, after the establishment of a renegade "Gallic Empire":

260 AD

    And in 268, after the creation of an independent "Palmyrenic Kingdom" on the Asian shores:

268 AD

    This disorder caused, inevitably, an economic meltdown. Food became scarce, and increasingly expensive, the fields were not adequately cultivated and foreign invaders started making incursions into the Empire, contributing to the disaster.

6:5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

6:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

    Plague, famine, and a drop in the standards of living were inevitable companions to this unfortunate situation. The bubonic plague, and other calamities, killed a large part of the population, possibly amounting to one-fourth of the Empire's inhabitants.

6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

The Persecution of Diocletian

    But Rome would not go down that easily. Outside and inside enemies were finally dealt with. The Empire regained its size:

275 AD

     To prevent renegade states from arising, the provinces of the Empire were re-organized into larger regions, called Dioceses, by the Emperor Diocletian (Vladimir Putin recently did the same thing with Russia). To make the administrative system even more efficient, the Empire itself was divided into Eastern and Western halves, each in turn divided into two parts:

290 AD

     The Christians were also felt to be an inside enemy of the Empire, so Diocletian organized the fiercest of all persecutions against them, which completed the series that had begun under Emperor Nero in the first century. 

6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

www.revelationillustrated.com

The Empire becomes Christian

    A great "earthquake" followed, which means the collapsing of the old world order and the creation of a new one. This was most evident under Emperor Constantine, who adopted the sign of the Cross and made it possible for the new religion to gradually become the official religion of the State. The "light" of the old religion went out.

6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

    During a solar eclipse, the sun appears black, while during a lunar eclipse the moon does not appear totally black, but assumes a dark reddish colour.

www.revelationillustrated.com

    The priests and seers of the old religion were cast down from their former position of power and glory.

6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

    It was now time for the spiritual teachings of the old religion to depart, giving their place to the Christian teachings. Spiritual, as well as civil, power was taken from those adhering to the old religion and was transferred to Christians.

6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

    "Mountains" and "islands" denote prominence, thus probably referring to high social positions, characterized by power and influence. Those would, from now on, be occupied mostly by Christians, since Christianity would be the official religion of the Empire. In a way, they "moved out of their places".

    What an unhappy time for those still following the old religion, rich and poor, great and small, kings and slaves.

6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

    The old religion was eventually persecuted into extinction.

6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

     In the Apocalypse, every scene is seen from a specific point of view. Afflictions are seen from the point of view of those who suffer through them, in this case the followers of the ancient religion. The "heaven" departed, and the "mountains" and "islands" moved out of their places, but only as far as those people were concerned. As far as Christians were concerned, there was a new "heaven", a Christian one, and they were the new occupants of "mountains" and "islands". But why isn't this scene seen from their point of view, as well? After all, it's their victory. Well, that's what chapter 7 is here for.

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Chapter 7: The spread of Christianity

    A period of peace followed Constantine's rise to power. A series of strong emperors helped preserve economic and political stability, and the threat of the "barbarian" peoples was temporarily put under control. The Emperor Julian, for example, a famous follower of the ancient religion, did a great job driving the invaders out of Gaul.

7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

    This is what the Empire looked like in 330, during the reign of Constantine, enjoying its last peaceful moments:

330 AD

    During this time of relative peace and prosperity, the followers of Christianity, the religion that had come from the East, were greatly multiplied. A vast number of people received the "seal of the living God", giving up their old faith.

7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

7:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

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    The number of Christians can be symbolically said to be 144,000, which is 12 times 12 times 1000, which is explained as the 12 Apostles (the Rocks upon which the Church is built), in a way "multiplying" themselves (12 times 12) through the spread of the Teaching, producing a large number of believers ("times 1000").

7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

7:5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

7:6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

7:7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

7:8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

    So the sacrifice of the multitudes slain during the great persecutions was not in vain. 

7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

7:10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

    And all the heavenly powers seem to be thankful for that.

7:11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

    One of the "elders" of John's vision confirms that this multitude comprises those sacrificed during the persecutions.

7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

    From now on, Christianity would reign without interruption in a large part of Europe, and, later on, of the whole world. The sacrifice of the generation of martyrs had made it possible that their descendants be guided by the light of the Christian, and not the ancient, religion. In the future, however, the Dark Ages lay ahead, characterized by spiritual darkness and perversion of religion. But this chapter deals with the hopes of this generation for a better future. And, with patience and faith, the darkness of the next centuries would eventually go away, and the Gospel, for which this generation had martyred, would triumph.

7:15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

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Chapter 8: Fall of the Western Roman Empire

    After the the Empire made peace with the Church and before the massive "barbarian" invasions, there was relative peace, which spread to the world of the spirit after the defeat of the Areian heresy. It proved short-lived.

8:1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

    And then, "seven trumpets" began signaling the end of the Roman Empire, first in the West, and then in the East.

8:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

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    A new challenge began for Christians, that of protecting their religion and the remnants of their civilization. The prayers of the saints were necessary.

8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

8:4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

   From that time on, great turmoil lay ahead, and huge crimes were to be committed. The world order that was to emerge would only be crushed by the "earthquake" of the French Revolution, many centuries later.

8:5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

   Let's follow history.

8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

Germanic peoples invade by land

    The Eastern part of the Empire was invaded by the Visigoths in the late 4th century: 

378 AD

    But the Eastern Empire repelled the Visigoths. It was the West that would eventually fall prey to the hands of the invaders. In the beginning of the 5th century, the whole of the Western Empire was swept over by Goths, Franks, Vandals, Alans, Sueves, Burgundians and other tribes. Rome was sacked by Alaric, the leader of the Visigoths, in 410: 

410 AD

8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

    "Green grass" denotes prosperity. The "trees" must symbolize centres of commerce and civilization; in other words, great cities, like Rome, Constantinople, or Alexandria. The Empire was destroyed in three distinct phases. This chapter deals with the first one, comprising the "barbarian" invasions in the West. The next chapter deals with the next two phases, the first one affecting mainly the areas of Syria, Palestine and Egypt (advent of the Muslim Arabs in the 7th century) and the second one affecting Asia Minor and the Balkan peninsula (the conquest of which was completed by the Turks in 1453). Thus, the Roman Empire can be schematically divided into three parts:  1. The Western part, with Rome as its centre,  2. The core of the Greek world, comprising the Balkan peninsula and Asia Minor, with Constantinople as its centre and  3. The Orient, under Hellenistic influence, comprising Syria, Palestine and Egypt, with Alexandria as its centre. Of the greatest cities, only Rome was sacked during this first wave of invasions. That's why only one-third of the "trees" are burnt up in this verse. Constantinople was not captured by the invaders, but the Eastern part of the Empire was not left untouched by them. That's why all "green grass" was burnt up. "Green grass" must symbolize all of the small, organized communities in the Empire, all of which suffered during those years. Commerce was adversely affected throughout the Empire, and the economy went through rough times. 

The Vandals invade by sea

    The Vandals, together with other peoples, crossed what is now known as the strait of Gibraltar into North Africa and established their own maritime kingdom in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and for some time they were rulers of the western Mediterranean. They even sacked Rome in the middle of the 5th century.

8:8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

8:9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

Attila the Hun

    In the middle of the 5th century, the Huns also terrorized the West for some time. Their leader, Attila, is still remembered as a fearsome warrior and conqueror. The rivers of Gaul and northern Italy were bloodied by the destruction that he caused and by the wars made against him. He ultimately made peace with Pope Leo I, and Rome was spared. The Huns were ultimately defeated and their Empire was dissolved after Attila's sudden death.

8:10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

8:11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

    This map shows the Hunnic Empire (dark brown) and its defeat: 

451 AD

The fall of Rome

    Until the year 476, Rome had managed to resist subjugation. But her time came in that year, when Odoacer, leader of the Heruli, subdued the former Capital of the world. This is what the situation looked like immediately after the fall of Rome:

476 AD

     The Ostrogoths occupied the Italian peninsula a few years later, led by Theodoric, and the Ostrogothic Kingdom became the most prominent among the new kingdoms for some time (notice also the growth of the Frankish Kingdom):

490 AD

530 AD

    The Italian peninsula would be freed by Emperor Justinian a few decades later, 

565 AD

   ...but only briefly. The Lombards, and then the Franks, would ultimately sever the Italian peninsula off from Constantinople: 

600 AD

732 AD

768 AD

800 AD

    The Western Roman Empire was to exist no more after 476. In the West, the lights of Roman civilization went out, and the Dark Ages lay ahead.

8:12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

    Great calamities were to strike the remainder of the Empire during the next centuries, but that is another chapter.

8:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!

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Chapter 9: Islam and the Eastern Roman Empire

Mohammed

    The next significant event after the fall of the Western Roman Empire was the spread of Islam. It was founded by the "Prophet" Mohammed in the early 7th century.

9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

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The Arabs

    The Arab armies, guided by the spiritual teachings of the Prophet and the Koran, went on to spread those teachings to the whole world.

9:3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

    Their official purpose was not to conquer lands and plunder the wealth of the cities, but to convert the "infidels", those who did not believe in Allah and His Prophet.

9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

    The Arabs' way of expanding their territory was not based on subjugation of local populations. Instead, with the aid of the Koran, they assimilated the people of the lands that they conquered. If they failed to convert the local populations, they would annihilate them. The formerly Christian areas of Syria, Palestine and Egypt, as well as all of North Africa and a large part of the Iberian peninsula, gradually became Muslim, and only a small part of the population remained Christian. Conversion to Islam was a painful process for the people who lived in those religious times.

9:5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

    Mohammed started receiving his visions of the angel Gabriel in the year 610. In the year 613 he started preaching his new religion. Shortly after that, missions were sent to spread Islam to other lands. Mohammed assembled an army, which eventually occupied all of Arabia and, in the 630's, reached the borders of the Byzantine Empire. All of the cities of the Hellenistic world in the Middle East, like Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, etc., fell to the Muslims. The Muslim armies were unstoppable; they swept through North Africa and occupied the Iberian peninsula, reaching as far as southwestern France. This is what the Arab Caliphate looked like in 750:

750 AD

     The Arabs were defeated for the first time by the Frankish King Charles Martel in 732. In 750, the Abbasid dynasty came to power in Damascus, the Capital of the Caliphate, replacing the Umayyad one. However, Umayyad rule continued in the Iberian peninsula. In other words, after the year 750, the Caliphate was divided. Around 762-3, the city of Baghdad was founded and was made Capital of the new Abbasid Caliphate. The centre of gravity of the Caliphate thus moved further away from Europe. After that time, relations between the Caliphate and Christian Europe stabilized, and decline began to set in throughout the ever dividing Arab world. This is what the Arab world looked like at the end of the 9th century:

c. 900 AD

    From 613 to 763, 150 years passed, or five prophetic "months", each comprising 30 years (according to the "day-year" principle of Ezekiel). If we use the ancient way of counting (i.e. counting both the first and last year and all in between), 150 years can be counted from 613 to 762. The actual time of continuous Arabian expansion was a few decades shorter, though, but, again according to the ancients' way of estimating time, a period of, let's say, four months and a few days would be counted as five months.

     The Arabs did not wish to spend energy on keeping subdued peoples from revolting. The deal was "convert (and become one of us) or die". The Christians did not want to convert to Islam, and they certainly did not want to be killed by the Arab invaders. They wanted to keep their religion, even if they had to live under Muslim occupation. But that was not possible.

9:6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

     In this chapter, "death" means subjugation.

    The Arabs were famous for their cavalry; Arabian horses are admired for their beauty and strength even today. Owing to their cavalry, they were conquering one territory after the other and seemed invincible. They wore turbans and, even though they were tough men, they had long hair.

9:7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

9:8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

9:9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

    Their most fearsome weapon was not their swords, but the teachings of the Koran, which gave them strength and courage to go on conquering, and helped them assimilate the inhabitants of the territories that they invaded. So, through these teachings, working their way into human minds slowly like poison, and not through the swiftness of the sword, did the Arabs succeed in their undertaking.

9:10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

    They were led by the teachings of the Koran, which called for a conversion of both Jews and Christians to Islam. 

9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

    Islam proved destructive (Apollyon = destroyer) for both Jews and (mainly Greek Orthodox) Christians. That's why the "angel of the bottomless pit" has both a Greek and a Hebrew name. This is a point to remember for the analysis of chapter 16.

    And so ends the Arabian "plague". After 763, the Caliphate was divided, was in decline, and never again gained the momentum it had before.

9:12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

The Turks

    The Eastern Roman, now Byzantine, Empire survived the advent of the Arabs, as well as that of other invaders. But it was not to survive the invasion of another fearsome people, the Turks.

9:13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

9:14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

    The tribe of the Seljuk Turks was founded by the warrior Seljuk, whose one son and three nephews founded the Great Seljuk Empire, stretching through Persia and Mesopotamia. In the late 1050's, the Caliph of Baghdad came under Seljuk "protection". In the year 1063, the Turkish Sultan Toghrul-Begh, Seljuk's nephew, died and was succeeded by his own nephew, Alp-Arslan. By 1064 the latter had crossed the Euphrates into the Empire. In 1067 he took the great city of Caesarea, in 1068 he took Iconium and, in 1071, he won a decisive victory at Mantzikert. From that day on, the Turks would cause Byzantine borders to shrink until May 29th, 1453, when Constantinople fell to another Turkish tribe, the Ottomans. The last "third" of the Empire was gone, and the third and final stage of the Empire's destruction was complete. Here is a map showing the Ottoman expansion:

9:15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

    From 1063 to 1453 there were 391 years, using the ancient way of counting. A prophetic year (360 years) plus a prophetic month (30 years) plus a prophetic day (1 year) plus a prophetic hour (1 month) is 391 years and one month. From 1064 to 1453, though, 390 years can be counted. It is reasonable, though, to count from Alp-Arslan's ascension to power. I am also not sure about the exact time the definitive invasion of the Empire began, but it was either in 1063 or in 1064.

    The Turks, in contrast to the Arabs, did not succeed in converting the Christians of the territories that they occupied to Islam. The Greeks, the Serbs, the Bulgarians, the Romanians and the Armenians were never assimilated by the Turks. So the Turkish presence in these formerly Byzantine territories was in fact an occupation force, and so it remained for many centuries, until the aforementioned peoples fought for and gained their independence. This long occupation is what is meant by the "slaying" of "the third part of men". The Arabs, having assimilated the local populations, never had to deal with such issues, and that's why it is said that they didn't engage in "killing". Likewise, after the invasions in the West (chapter 8), the invaders didn't keep the old inhabitants of the Western Empire in subjugation, but mingled with them, and that's why it is only said that a "third" of the trees, grass, etc. were destroyed, but the "third part of men" was not killed.

9:16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

    The main Turkish groups responsible for the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire were (1) the Seljuks and (2) the Ottomans. In the original Greek text, it says "two myriads of myriads" and not "two hundred thousand thousand". A myriad (10,000) of Turkish soldiers (a myriad is often associated with an army, e.g. in Xenophon's "Descent of the 10,000"), multiplied by itself, because of the soldiers' bravery and effectiveness (a rather arbitrary move), produces 100,000,000 soldiers. If both Seljuks and Ottomans are accounted for, we have 200,000,000 soldiers (symbolically). And the Turks, like the Arabs, had a strong cavalry.

    The Ottoman warriors wore mostly the colours red, blue and yellow ("fire, jacinth and brimstone"). This can be clearly seen in many drawings dating from Ottoman times. Here is a drawing of two Ottoman jenissaries and a military officer:

    The siege of Constantinople was one of the first battles in history in which cannons and gunpowder were used (they had been used for the first time about a century earlier).

9:17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

    Thus fell the last "third" of the Empire. The third and final stage of the Empire's destruction was thus complete, the other two being the invasions in the West and the Arab expansion.

9:18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

    But the Ottomans' power lay not only in their cannons, but in the Koran as well. The Turks renewed the fervour for the spread of Islam, which had in the meantime died down.

9:19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

    The rest of Europe remained pretty much Christian, but it was a far from angelic Christianity. Pagan practices and superstitions were flourishing in the Church (see also chapters 2 and 12 for more on the metaphorical "idol worship" in the Church), crimes were being committed in the name of Christ and, most notably, spiritual "whoredom" abounded in these far from enlightened times, as is explained in the analysis of chapters 2 and 17.

9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

9:21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

     It was time for a spiritual awakening.

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Chapter 10: Renaissance and Reformation

    After the Dark and Middle Ages, the time came for human consciousness to wake up from its hibernation. It was the Renaissance, the beginning of an era of light and knowledge, resembling a rainbow after a thunderstorm. 

10:1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

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   Influenced by this awakening, and in reaction to the defiled Papal system, the Protestant Reformation occurred, which, along with the invention of printing, led to the "opening up" of the Bible, meaning its translation and broad circulation. It had generally only been written in Latin (in Western Europe) up to this time, and only a few copies existed, mainly in monasteries. The priests had not really been teaching from the Bible until this time. This "opening up" of the Bible would eventually spread itself even to the newly discovered lands beyond the seas, to America, to Africa and to Oceania.

10:2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,

   This current was, not surprisingly, met with strong resistance by the powers of the old order, as they felt that it would undermine their influence on human minds. Up to this time, they had been able to assert their authority due to the illiteracy of the masses. They had been able to impose laws and practices whose spirit had been contrary to the Bible, since the latter had not been available to the people. But now, people began to think for themselves, and the Bible became available for study. The flaws of the Papal system became evident to those who did study the Scriptures, and the result was the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther

10:3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

   The representatives of the old order fought hard, but they fought in vain. No matter how hard they tried, they could not stop the awakening. The "thunder" of their voices would go unheard. The time of the thunderstorm had now ended and the rainbow had emerged. 

10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

   It was the beginning of the end for those who had exploited the name of Christ for their own purposes. The main phase of their defeat, though, would take place after the French Revolution, which, as we shall see, marks the sounding of the "seventh Trumpet".

10:5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,

10:6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

10:7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

   Let's get back to the theme of this chapter. What were the results of the appearance of this new current?

10:8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

   Many people, a large percentage of the European population, accepted the Protestant teaching eagerly. This is what the religious situation looked like in Europe after the spread of Protestantism:

    But it was not to be without grave consequences. Great wars broke out and Europe was in turmoil for several centuries. Another result of Protestantism was the development of German nationalism, which would, some centuries later, lead to the greatest of wars. 

10:9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

10:10 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

   But, ultimately, the new teaching was to be spread throughout the world.

10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

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Chapter 11: The French Revolution

The role of the Church is doubted

    With the arrival of the age of Enlightenment, the Church received much criticism. Her spiritual and political role was questioned. After centuries of being in an undisputed leading position in the order of things, her time came to be measured by the divine standards that she had used to measure others.

11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

    But most of those that were in control of the Church, those highest in the Hierarchy, those who had strived for and obtained great temporal power, the counterfeiters and oppressors of the true Christian Church, could not stand before God. They were not even worth measuring, as they were strangers to the Word of God.

11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

The Church is criticized for her past errors

    They had silenced all opposing voices for many centuries, and had made war against all those who had questioned their power. The true Word of God, written in the Old and New Testaments (or Witnesses), had not been a central element in the teachings of the Church until that time. After all, the Bible had only been written in Latin, and only a few people understood that language. That way, the leaders of the Church had been able to impose laws and practices not based on, or even contrary to, the Bible.

11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

    Those 1260 days, symbolizing 1260 years according to the "day-year" principle, are generally thought to refer to the time span during which the Roman Catholic Church was the most powerful institution throughout Western Europe. The beginning and end of these 1260 years varies among commentators. The year 533 is a popular year for the beginning, since it was the year in which Emperor Justinian issued his Code of Laws, in which it is specified that the See of Rome is the supreme authority regarding spiritual issues. In that year also, Justinian began his campaign to free Italy from the Areian Vandals and Ostrogoths. However, I believe that the beginning of these 1260 years is the year 534, when the Franks (who were the only Germanic people to have converted to Orthodox/Catholic, as opposed to Areian, Christianity, in 497, and to have thus become subservient, regarding spiritual issues, to the Church of Rome) occupied Burgundy and became the largest and most powerful of the new Germanic kingdoms. That event was simultaneous with Justinian's campaigns, which destroyed the strong kingdom of the Areian Ostrogoths. Thus, from that time on, the Church of Rome had substantial power in Western Europe, where she could enthrone and dethrone kings and emperors, very far from the reach of Constantinople. In order to prevent the re-emergence of heresies like the one of Areius, the Bible was put under strict control, and its availability to study was diminished. Its translation from Latin was generally not allowed. Having taken such measures, the Roman Church was able to continue her "reign" throughout most of Europe generally unabated until the time of the French Revolution. The ideals expressed by the latter were spread to all of Europe by Napoleon's armies, and the French campaign to spread the Revolution began in 1792. In November 1793, all Christian churches in Paris, the centre of the Revolution, closed down, and the Christian religion was officially banned. Thus, we have a time span, very close to, if not exactly, 1260 years, of continuous Roman Catholic domination throughout most of Europe.

    Let's go back to the two Testaments or Witnesses.

11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

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    Even though they had been silenced and given little attention during the centuries of darkness, they still survived. No one had been able to destroy them, whether a "Christian" or a non-Christian. Even after the spirit of atheism was made manifest in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Word of God could not be killed. He has, in fact, outlived every one of His enemies. 

11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

    Verses and quotes from the Bible, however, were often used, usually out of context, during the "reign" of the Roman Church, as weapons against those wishing to undermine her power, so, in a way, they helped preserve the status quo. Those were usually verses that called for obedience to the secular and ecclesiastical rulers, the authority of which, having been given to them by God, was not to be questioned. It was very difficult for new ideas to flourish during the Dark and Middle Ages, and, even when new ideas did emerge, they were made fierce wars against by the Church Hierarchy. Many crimes were committed and many wars were fought in the name of the Christ of the Bible.

11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

The French Revolution outlaws Christianity

    No wonder that the spirit of change, that evolved into full-scale Revolution in the 18th century, held these two Testaments responsible for all sufferings of mankind. The regime born in France in 1792, amid the chaos of the French Revolution, which, as we shall see in chapter 17, would eventually give birth to a new European empire ("Beast") with the aid of Napoleon, actually outlawed the Christian religion for some time.

11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

    So the Roman Catholic Church, who had in her own way crucified the Word of God through her crimes against many of His faithful servants during the centuries of her reign, was forced to witness the "death" of these bearers of the Word.

11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

    This Church has taken the name of Sodom, because of the spiritual "fornication" she is known to have committed, as explained in the analysis of chapters 2 and 17. She is also Egypt, because seven "plagues" shall fall on her in chapter 16.

    The Witnesses, even though they were "dead" for a while, were not buried and forgotten.

11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

    What joy was the "death" of the two Witnesses for those who had fought against them! After all, it was widely held, as discussed above, that they were to blame for most of the sufferings of mankind.

11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

Christianity is restored

    After the proclamation of the First French Republic in September 22, 1792, a new calendar was introduced. The day of the proclamation of the Republic was declared to be day 1 of the first month of the year I. In November 1793, all Christian Churches in Paris were forcibly closed down, and the Christian religion was banned. The Christian God was replaced by the goddess of "Reason" and, later, by the "Supreme Being". The hatred towards Christianity eventually died down, and in February 21, 1795, which was the beginning of the sixth month of the Revolutionary year III, freedom of religion was restored by law. 

11:11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

    This is the best way I can explain the "three days and an half".

    From that time on, the Bible would never be officially outlawed in any Christian country. In the 19th century, the Christian world became literally filled with Bibles. Bible study was greatly promoted, mainly in Anglo-Saxon countries, and the Word of God did not have to be clothed in sackcloth any more. The Testaments were now available for everyone to read.

11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

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Recapitulation

    Let's not forget that all this began with the French Revolution, during which the Church in France ("one-tenth" of the whole Church, as will be seen in chapter 13) was actually persecuted, all titles of nobility were abolished, and many people of both noble and ordinary origin were killed. But the Christian faith was eventually restored.

11:13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

    In the original Greek text, it says "names of men seven thousand" and not "of men seven thousand". Names are titles and seven denotes totality, so the interpretation is: Many (times 1000) people who bore all (7) kinds of titles (names) of nobility were deprived of their titles.

    All that is left now, and it is quickly approaching, is the final overthrow of Roman Catholic domination throughout Europe and the world.

11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

     The first "woe" was the advent of Islam, under the fifth Trumpet, while the second "woe", or sixth Trumpet, included the sufferings of both Eastern and Western Christianity, inflicted to the former by the Turks (chapter 9) and to the latter by the rise of Protestantism and by the revolutionary movements (chapters 10 and 11). The third "woe", corresponding to the seventh Trumpet, comprises all those events (chapter 16) that will lead to the completion of God's plan. It is the outpouring of the Wrath of God.

Separation of Church and State

    The separation of Church and State freed religion of most parasites. From now on, a high position in the Hierarchy of the Church would not be accompanied by worldly privileges to the degree that it had been in the previous centuries; thus, such positions would not attract those thirsty for such privileges, or at least not to a such a great extent. In other words, the corrupters of religion were largely gone. And it was in Revolutionary France that their destruction began, as far as the Catholic world is concerned, allowing a purer Catholic Church to emerge. Using the terminology of chapter 3, we would say that that chapters 10 and 11 describe the transition from the age of the Church of Sardis to the age of the Church of Philadelphia. Led by this Church for a time, "the kingdoms of this world" became "the kingdoms of the Lord", since the Church ended her involvement in the matters of this world and once again started following the Lord only.

11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

   Well, OK, this was not entirely so. Back in chapter 7, it seemed as if the Christians, after their victory over the ancient Graeco-Roman religion, were not supposed to shed any tears again, even though this proved to be far from accurate. So, it must be deduced that that part of chapter 7, as well as this part of chapter 11, only deal with the hopes of faithful Christians for a better future. These two parts come immediately after great defeats suffered by the enemies of the Word of God, the first one concerning the ancient religion, and this one concerning the powerful Papal establishment. So, they are bound to express joy and optimism for the future. Throughout the Apocalypse, every scene is seen from a specific point of view, which changes from scene to scene. Afflictions are seen from the point of view of those who suffer them. But here, the point of view is the one of faithful Christians, who celebrate the downfall of their enemy.

11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

    Religion was separated from the State, and the theocracy of the Middle Ages, together with all the crimes it had committed against millions of innocent people, was declared an abomination by almost everyone. For many decades after the events of the late 18th and early 19th century, the representatives of the old world order would suffer one "plague" after the other. 

11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

    In the original Greek text, it says: "and the time of the nations, that they should be judged, and that reward should be given (not specified by whom) unto thy servants the prophets" etc. As "Jews" means "Christians" in the Apocalypse, so "Nations" or "Gentiles" refers to those who do not believe in the Word of God. I am not sure whether, for example, the French revolutionaries are included under this term or not, but I am certain that the counterfeiters of the true Church, the representatives of the Papal establishment, are included (see also verse 11:2). And, as we will see in chapter 16, the Wrath of God is about to be poured on them. The French Revolution was only the beginning of their sorrows.

    During the last couple of centuries, the Word of God has not been censored by anyone anymore, so the Temple of God is open for everyone. True, the Word has been suppressed sometimes, e.g. in Communist countries, but in Western Europe, which is really the center stage of events in most chapters of this Book, as well as throughout the realms of the offspring of Western Europe (in America, Oceania and parts of Africa), the Word has been freely preached to the people. And Communism eventually fell. During the last couple of centuries, the Ark of the Testament has been free for everyone to see. This age is also characterized by great advances in science and technology, so the world is a lot noisier and is moving a lot faster than it used to ("lightnings, and voices, and thunderings"). In chapter 16, it will be seen that an "earthquake" and "great hail" may be approaching us in the near future (seen from the point of view of the early 21st century).

11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. 

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Chapter 12: The battle between Christianity and the ancient religion

The emergence of the Church

    But exactly whom are the events in chapters 10 and 11 directed against? Chapters 12 and 13 explain just that. We are transferred back to the time of the initial appearance of the Christian Church, when the Roman Empire was still polytheistic. 

12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

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    The Church was founded by the twelve Apostles, here symbolized by twelve stars. She sprang from Judaism; the latter emits only a faint light (like that of the moon) compared to the religion of Christ, whose light is as bright as that of the sun. 

    Some commentators claim that the Woman is Virgin Mary, the Child being Jesus. They don't understand that the symbolism is the other way around. I believe that Mary symbolizes the true Church of believers, while Jesus, like John the Evangelist said, symbolizes the Word of God. 

    The introduction of the Word of God (the "child" of the next verse), into society was not easy. The Word was made war against, at first by the Jews, and later by the Romans, which made the "birth" of the "child" painful.

12:2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

Rome persecutes Jews and Christians

    The polytheistic Roman Empire is now about to present itself to us. It is presented as a Dragon, a symbol of the enmity towards the Word of God that was exhibited by those adhering to the ancient polytheistic religion. It is red, a symbol for the blood it caused to be spilled during its military campaigns and during the Christian persecutions, of which John (the Revelator) was a witness. It has seven heads, a symbol for the seven hills of Rome, the city it sprang from. The seven heads have crowns, symbolizing the imperial power seated on the seven hills. The Dragon has ten horns, which denote the provinces that make up the Empire (ten is a symbolic number), each province adding to the Empire's strength (horns are a symbol of fighting ability). 

12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

    There were three main religions in the Roman Empire after the rise of Christianity: the ancient religion of the Graeco-Roman Pantheon, Judaism and Christianity. During the first and second centuries AD, Rome made fierce wars against the Jews, resulting in their Diaspora all over the known world. This is a scene from the looting of the Jewish Temple by Roman soldiers:

    After the beginning of these wars, persecutions against Christians also began to take place.  

12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

    But, no matter how hard the Dragon tried to kill the Word of God, the latter was nevertheless established in many people's hearts. Christianity was destined to become the religion of Europe, even though crimes were to be committed and wars were to be waged in the name of Christ.

12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

    But, even though Europe would become officially Christian, the true Church was to live in hiding, unable to produce the fruit of the Gospel ("in the wilderness"), while another Church, a Church of worldliness and thirst for power, would be the ruler of the world for about 1260 years, as has been shown in the previous chapter.

12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

Christianity wins the spiritual battle

    In order to secure His place in the people's hearts, the Word of God had to replace the various beliefs that were held at that time. A spiritual war had to be fought. And so it happened; Christianity won the battle against the ancient religion, which was gradually abandoned.

12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

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    So the Dragon, the enemy of the Word, was deprived of his former place of dominance in the people's hearts. The days of the old religion, as well as those of the Empire, were numbered.

12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

    The Dragon was defeated through the self-sacrifice of brave Christians, who spread the Word of God without fear of torture or death, with the Word as their only weapon.

12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

    Even though Christianity had won the spiritual battle over the ancient religion, great tribulation still awaited Christians, for the Dragon, unable to defeat the Word of God in the spiritual level, because of his inferiority, tried to silence Him by physically persecuting His Church. The Empire was now in decline, along with its polytheistic religion and, if they were to survive, all of their enemies, including the Church, had to be made war against. 

12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

The Church survives the Persecutions

    But the Church survived the attack, even though the Dragon, the enemy of the Word, would, in the future, take the form of another religious system, as is shown in chapter 13, and would keep the true Church from producing the fruit of the Gospel. 

12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

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    The persecution of the Church by the Dragon lasted, including periods of relative tolerance, two and a half centuries, and the fiercest of all persecutions was the one waged by Diocletian and Galerius, in the early 4th century. 

12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

    Well known are the subterranean Christian Catacombs, thanks to which the Christians survived the persecutions, and the Church was saved from extinction.

12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

The battle is not over yet

    So the Dragon was not able to defeat the Church. But, even though the ancient religion died, the enemy of the Word nevertheless survived. His spirit was to penetrate into the established Church, and the morals and teachings of Christianity were to be corrupted. In chapter 2, it is shown that the Church gradually adopted "idol worship" and spiritual "whoredom", so the Dragon never really died. Literal idolatry is to worship lifeless, usually visible, objects. In a figurative sense, to follow someone other than the Christ, while officially claiming to follow Christ, as has often been the case throughout history, especially regarding the Church of Rome, is, in my view, what the word "idolatry" really means in the Apocalypse. 

    With the extinction of the ancient religion, one had no other option but to become Christian. Moreover, it gradually became obligatory for one to be baptized. In earlier times, Christianity had been adopted only by those who were ready to accept it, and those were usually people of a high moral and spiritual level. But now, the bulk of Christians were ordinary, usually not very enlightened, people. This is one of the causes of the Church's moral and spiritual decline. 

    History would show that the enemies of the Word would not be defeated simply by the victory of Christianity over the ancient polytheistic religion. The Dark and Middle Ages did not prove to be an angelic period of human history. Christian fought against Christian and the Church was often characterized by corruption and hypocrisy. Persecutions of true Christian believers took place, simply because of the latter's opposition to the worldliness and hypocrisy of the Church. A considerable percentage of the official representatives of Christ were enemies of the Word of God. So the Dragon, having taken a different form, really did make war against the remnant of the seed of the true Church.

12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

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Chapter 13: The reign of Papal Rome

The Church of Rome creates her own Empire

    A few decades after the official recognition of the Christian Church by the Emperor Constantine, the Western Roman Empire was overwhelmed with invading Germanic and Mongolic tribes. After many years of disarray, new kingdoms were formed. In the East, the Empire was to survive for another 1000 years, but would mutate into a Greek (Byzantine) Empire, which would gradually lose its might and eventually fall into the hands of the invading Turks. So, the real successors to the original Roman Empire were the kingdoms in the West. Those were at first semi-barbaric kingdoms, some of which were not Christian at all, while others, like the Goths and the Vandals, had converted to the heresy of Areius, a denier of the divine nature of Christ. The Franks were the first of the invaders to convert to Orthodox/Catholic ("non-heretical") Christianity under their leader Clovis in 497. This is a map of Europe in 530: 

530 AD

    The Franks gradually became more powerful, while all the other kingdoms eventually disappeared, like the Visigothic Kingdom in the Iberian peninsula. The latter converted to Orthodoxy/Catholicism in 589, but was later destroyed by the Muslims. This is a map of Europe in the year 600:

600 AD

    After some fluctuations in their power, and periods of division, the Franks eventually, but briefly, created a vast empire, which was considered to be the continuation of the Western Roman Empire, comprising most of the then civilized lands of Central and Western Europe (with the exception of a large part of the Iberian peninsula, now belonging to the Muslims). In the year 800, the Frankish King Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by the Pope, thus becoming a successor to the Roman Emperors of the past, only now it was felt that such a title could only be granted by the Church.

     Historians traditionally regard this event as the birth of the Holy Roman Empire, which was to dominate the European political scene for more than a thousand years. Here is a series of maps showing the growth of the Frankish Kingdom and Empire (orange):

732 AD

768 AD

800 AD

      Under the auspices of the Catholic Franks, the Papal States were created in central Italy, comprising Rome and the areas around her.

814 AD

    The Frankish Empire was divided into a French and a German half a few decades after its formation. The Papal States would survive until 1871.

880 AD

    Other Christian kingdoms were also formed around the French and German remnants of the Frankish Empire during the following centuries. All of those Central and Western European kingdoms were loyal to the Church of Rome. 

910 AD

1120 AD

1328 AD

1470 AD

    Thus, from the time the Kingdom of the Franks grew into the most prominent among Western European kingdoms, the Church of Rome was pretty much the ruler in Western Europe. Her supremacy would not be seriously challenged until the Protestant Reformation, but she would still remain the supreme authority over most of Europe until the French Revolution. This is what Europe looked like, from a religious point of view, during the early centuries of the second millennium:

13:1 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.

    A "Beast", as we learn from Daniel, is a world empire, and certainly not a person. This Beast has seven heads, an allusion to the fact that it is spiritually ruled from (the seven hills of) Rome, but there are no crowns on the seven heads, as was the case with the Dragon's heads. The crowns have now moved to the ten horns, meaning that, officially, civil power is now exercised by the peripheral kingdoms of Central and Western Europe (again, ten is a symbolic number). Upon the heads of the Beast are names of blasphemy. Certainly, the title "Vicar of Christ" {in essence meaning "Anti-Christ", cruel though it may sound (e.g. in Greek, the word for "vice-president" is "anti-proedros")} has, over the centuries, been borne by many people who did not prove themselves worthy of representing Jesus Christ on earth. Many of the Popes of Rome, in their ignorance and spiritual poverty, which characterized the Dark and Middle Ages, considered themselves, and acted as if they were, equal to Christ, or gods on earth. They assumed the pagan title "Pontifex maximus" and, over the centuries, claimed that they had the power to forgive sins (the Indulgences which so infuriated the Protestant Reformers) and that they were infallible (Papal Infallibility officially proclaimed in the late 19th century, but in essence claimed for many centuries before that time). They sought glory for the Church they were the rulers of, and not for the Christ. I think these are more than enough to justify the "names of blasphemy" (it is in the plural in the Greek text) on the seven heads.

Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)

    In other words, this Beast is made up of all the kingdoms that were, over the centuries, loyal to the Church of Rome, starting with the Frankish Kingdom, which grew into the Frankish Empire, and comprising all the Catholic kingdoms this Empire broke up into, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, up to the French Revolution, as we saw in chapter 11.

    This Beast was made up, initially at least, of "barbaric" peoples, symbolized by wild animals, like the leopard, the bear and the lion. And it was the continuation of the Roman Empire, so:

13:2 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.

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    Interestingly, these same beasts are found in the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel, in which they represent the successive World Empires of Babylonia (lion), Medo-Persia (bear) and the empire of Alexander the Great (leopard). This has led to the impression that the Beast described here is the Roman Empire itself, an heir to these three World Empires. Daniel describes, after the three aforementioned empires, a fourth Empire/Beast, which has seven heads and ten horns, but is not a Dragon, and is not made up of different beasts, like the Beast described here. Daniel prophesied that this fourth Beast would bear rule over the whole world and would only be defeated by the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is generally thought that this will take place at the "Second Coming" of Christ. But the Roman Empire is now ancient history, and the Second Coming, to my understanding, has not taken place. So, we must deduct that the fourth Beast of Daniel symbolizes Roman domination in the world in general, whether referring to the original Roman Empire, or the Papal "empire" of the Middle Ages, or any political entity that has ruled the world, or a large part of it, in the name of Rome, including, as we shall see, the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne, the French Empire of Napoleon, and, last but not least, the Third Reich in its greatest days.

    Many Catholics hold that by the "Kingdom of Heaven" the Christian era is meant, comprising mainly the Middle Ages, but I can't really ascribe to that view. Others believe that the Beast of this chapter symbolizes an end-time superstate, its characteristics being a mixture of the four Beasts of Daniel. But this Beast receives its power from the Dragon, and the Roman Empire has not existed for many centuries. A possible reply is that this end-time world empire will be a revived Roman Empire. But, in that case, why would the Apocalypse ignore the other revivals of the Roman Empire, like the Empire of Charlemagne or the Third Reich? Could a theoretical end-time world empire possibly be so much more horrible than the Third Reich, so that the latter is not even worth mentioning in the Apocalypse?

    Let's get back to the Beast. We have seen that this Beast did not emerge easily. The new Germanic kingdoms, even though the majority of their subjects were Orthodox/Catholic Christians, were officially either pagan or Areian. It took the Frankish King Clovis' conversion to Orthodoxy/Catholicism for Rome to obtain substantial power in this new order of things. And the Frankish Kingdom was not that powerful until the early to mid-6th century, when its borders expanded greatly, while Areian and pagan kingdoms were in decline. 

13:3 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.

    Throughout the Apocalypse, the number 7 is associated with a procession through successive stages (Seven Churches, Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Vials, etc.). Thus, each one of the seven refers to a particular stage during the course of such a procession. Thus, a "head", in this instance, refers to the leadership of this Beast during a particular period. The heads have no crowns (unlike the horns), so this leadership is spiritual (Papal Rome), not political. Areianism, which had been adopted by the Ostrogoths, who were in control of Rome from the late 5th to the early to mid-6th century, is probably what is meant in this verse by the "deadly wound" which is inflicted upon one of the heads of the Beast, in other words upon Roman spiritual domination in Western Europe during this particular period. Should the Areian kingdoms have prevailed over the Orthodox/Catholic ones (the Franks), history would have taken a different course. But this "wound" was healed (the Areian kingdoms were defeated), and an ecclesiastical "empire", ruled by Rome, was eventually created. 

Yet so long as Arianism stood in the way, there was a limit to the possible identification of the barbarians with romanitas. The Catholic Church, after all, was the supreme imperial relic in the west.

 J.M.Roberts, The Penguin History of Europe

     So there was Rome, once again ruling the world, this time through her Church. Rome was revered not only because of her Church, but because of her imperial heritage as well. Dreams to revive the Roman Empire were always vivid, leading to the creation of the Frankish (Holy Roman) Empire in the year 800 by the Pope and the Frankish King Charlemagne. It was a vast Empire, comprising all the lands in which the Church of Rome had spiritual authority. The Empire was later fragmented and then reborn in the mid-10th century, this time only in the East Frankish lands {Germany, the Netherlands, Bohemia, Austria, northern Italy): 

1030 AD

     This smaller Holy Roman Empire survived until 1806, when it was destroyed by Napoleon. These efforts to revive the original Roman Empire is another reason to say that the Beast bore the spirit of the Dragon (apart from the reasons regarding spiritual issues, analyzed in chapter 12).

13:4 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?

    As has been shown above, this Beast was often ruled by blasphemous rulers. And its reign would last for about 1260 years. The beginning and end of these 1260 years varies among commentators. The year 533 is a popular year for the beginning, since it was the year in which Emperor Justinian issued his Code of Laws, in which it is specified that the See of Rome is the supreme authority regarding spiritual issues. In that year also, Justinian began his campaign to free Italy from the Areian Vandals and Ostrogoths. However, I believe that the beginning of these 1260 years is the year 534, when the Franks (who were the only Germanic people to have converted to Orthodox/Catholic, as opposed to Areian, Christianity, in 497, and to have thus become subservient, regarding spiritual issues, to the Church of Rome) occupied Burgundy and became the largest and most powerful of the new Germanic kingdoms. That event was simultaneous with Justinian's campaigns, which destroyed the strong kingdom of the Areian Ostrogoths. Thus, from that time on, the Church of Rome had substantial power in Western Europe, where she could enthrone and dethrone kings and emperors, very far from the reach of Constantinople. The Roman Church was able to continue her "reign" throughout most of Europe generally unabated until the time of the French Revolution. The ideals expressed by the latter were spread to all of Europe by Napoleon's armies, and the French campaign to spread the Revolution began in 1792. In November 1793, all Christian churches in Paris, the centre of the Revolution, closed down, and the Christian religion was officially banned. Thus, we have a time span, very close to, if not exactly, 1260 years (or 42 prophetic "months"), of continuous Roman Catholic domination throughout most of Europe.

13:5 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.

13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

    Those who dared to challenge the authority of these rulers, or criticize their blasphemous, and at times criminal, deeds, were fiercely made war against. Innumerable martyrs were to suffer because of their unspoiled faith. For the powers of Darkness were the rulers of the world. 

13:7 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.

    To worship Rome instead of the Christ, as was the true wish of the Papal establishment, is totally contrary to the Word of God, who calls for giving glory to the Lord only.

13:8 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.

13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.

    Patience and faith would eventually lead to the end of the reign of this horrible Beast, similarly to what had happened to its ancient predecessor many centuries before. And justice would triumph.

13:10 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.

The supreme authority of the Papacy

    Let's take a better look at the power behind the Beast.

13:11 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.

    This second Beast emerges out of the earth, unlike the first Beast, which emerges out of the sea, which symbolizes the movement of peoples. The Bishopric of Rome did not come into being through the migration of peoples, but within the organized society of the Roman Empire, the latter still in its winning years. This Beast has two horns (a horn is a symbol of might), since the Bishop of Rome had, for many centuries, both ecclesiastical and temporal power. It resembles a lamb, for it claims to represent Christ. But its actions throughout most of history are actions of an enemy of the true Word of God (it speaks as a Dragon). 

    After the establishment of Roman Catholic domination in the 6th century, the Bishop of Rome would do anything in his power to maintain and expand his influence. The Beast had to be worshipped and made Holy, in order to be revered and feared. That way, the Bishop of Rome would maintain his leading position in the order of things for ever. The Holy Roman Empire was created to last for ever, and it was created to bring the whole world under the influence of Rome.

13:12 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.

    How did the leadership of the Church of Rome manage to maintain and expand its influence? Europe was still in the dark, and superstition was everywhere. In a world of blind believers, a word of condemnation and damnation by the Pope meant certain death for the soul (In Greece, when people think they have sinned before God, they usually say: "Fire is coming down from the sky to burn us").

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

    In other words, the power of the Bishop of Rome lay in the belief held by the people that this man held the keys of eternal life and eternal damnation. 

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 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.

    The Church in the West had started out as the Church of Jesus Christ, but the Bishops of Rome sought to make her their own, so she gradually became the Church of Rome. In other words, the Roman nature of the Beast, which was the legacy of the Dragon (verse 13:2), gradually replaced the initially Christian nature of the Church. Thus, the perverted Church that resulted from this mutation can be said to be "an image to the Beast".

    A vast ecclesiastical organization was gradually formed. During the early to middle centuries of the second millennium, this organization reached the peak of its might. Church officials were connected, through a very efficient network, to their counterparts elsewhere. This made the creation of an invincible theocratic system possible, and the silencing of all opposition more effective. All major persecutions against "heretics", who were in most cases simply people who did not agree with the way things were, took place during those centuries, in which the Inquisition was also instituted. 

13:15 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.   

    The ultimate goal of the leadership of the Church was to lead every living human being, within its range of influence, into worshipping the Roman Church with all their hearts and minds, and into dedicating their lives to serving the Church, both with their minds and their hands.

13:16 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:

    The Church would thus be in control of every aspect of a person's life, a sure way to maintain her supreme status. It was strongly discouraged for Catholics to do business with "heretics", meaning that one had to be a professed Roman Catholic to be able to buy or sell. 

13:17 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.

The number of the Beast

    The number of the name of the Beast, meaning the number arrived at by the addition of the values of all the letters making up the Beast's name, is 666. This name should have something to do with the name of the Church that was created in the Beast's image, since the leadership of this Church was the uniting and ruling power behind the Beast. The Greek word "Lateinos", meaning "Roman" (when referring to a man, and not to a thing), is a great candidate, since this word's letters add up to 666. 

13:18 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.

    An argument against "Lateinos" being the meaning of 666 is that this word is spelt "Latinos" (instead of ei ) in nearly all of the ancient Greek texts. To that, I have the following reply: First, it is a fact that "Lateinos" was indeed an alternative spelling of this word. Irenaeus, a Father of the Church who lived in the second century AD, in his work "Against Heresies", does not hesitate to propose "Lateinos" as a solution to 666. The diphthong -ei- was often used in the place of the Latin long -i- when spelling Greek words derived from Latin. Thus, for example, the name of Emperor (Marcus Aurelius) Antoninus was spelt, in Greek, both as "Antoninos" and as "Antoneinos". There are coins dating from around 200 AD, for example, on which the latter spelling is used. Furthermore, the Apocalypse is a deliberately misleading book. "Latinos" amounts to 661. Such a number would obviously point to a word, and it would be a matter of time before the correct word was identified. But 666 is more misleading than 661. It could either signify a word, or it could have some other obscure significance. For example, I have heard the view that the three sixes symbolize the six protons, six neutrons and six electrons that make up the atom of carbon, the latter being a symbol of material and organic, as opposed to spiritual, life.

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Chapter 16: The "Wrath of God"

    Chapters 14 and 15 are supplementary to chapters 13 and 16. In chapter 14, it was declared that severe punishment was about to fall upon those who had the "mark" of the Beast, described in chapter 13, and upon Babylon, explained in chapter 17. This "punishment" is the theme of the present chapter. In short, we are about to see how the Papacy was deprived of most of its temporal power. We are also going to discover that the most nightmarish personification of evil that has ever existed, the Third Reich, along with the War it provoked, can be found in the prophetic verses of this chapter. 

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16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

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The French Revolution spreads to all of Europe

    The beginning of sorrows for Roman Catholicism began with the French Revolution, which spread to all of Europe and beyond, as rapidly as a plague, assisted by Napoleon's armies. Those who were loyal to the Church of Rome, and were thus worshipping the "image", as explained in chapter 13, were treated with suspicion by the revolutionaries and were sometimes even persecuted, especially during the early stages of the Revolution in France. The Pope was taken prisoner by the French army in 1798 and a Roman Republic was proclaimed, but to last only a short time.

16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

Overseas colonies are cut off from Rome

    The Napoleonic Wars were the means for the spreading of the Revolution, at first during the years of the French Republic, and later during the years of the French Empire, the latter (as well as the former, in its final years) ruled by Napoleon himself. During those wars, one of the regions to suffer much was the Iberian peninsula, the two countries of which, Spain and Portugal, possessed rich and vast overseas colonies, mainly in South and Central America. North America was still disputed among Catholic and Protestant countries. The turmoil in Europe ultimately resulted in independence gained by most Central and South American colonies. Spain and Portugal had always been faithful to Catholicism, and the wealth of their colonies had contributed a lot to the wealth of the Roman Church. The latter was thus deprived of much of her material support.

16:3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

The appearance of new ideologies

    The Revolution was ultimately defeated with the fall of the Napoleonic Empire, 26 years after the beginning of the Revolution. The Congress of Vienna partly re-established the former order, but it was not the same. Rome was not anymore the Capital of the world in the people's conscience. The middle of the 19th century was the time that the ideologies that were to dominate the 20th century appeared. Socialism, nationalism, anarchism, and all the theories of racial superiority were consolidated and expressed in very specific ways at this time. None of these ideologies accommodated a belief in Christian modesty, or even the Christ for that matter, except in twisted ways. The Church was condemned and made war against by the more radical movements. Many people stopped caring about religion and were entangled in the clash of movements and ideas. This flow of ideas can be compared to the flow of water in a river.

16:4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

    That was another major blow for Church establishment. Just as it had condemned millions of people for their disagreement with itself, it was now to undergo the same persecution by the forces of society for the exact same reason.

16:5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

16:6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

16:7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

Knowledge is multiplied

    Meanwhile, science, free from all preoccupations with, and interference by, religion, was now flourishing and leading to great technological advances, producing what is known as the Industrial Revolution. Knowledge was multiplied, and human minds were opened wide to new horizons. This Sun of enlightenment was painful for those who were still clinging to their narrow-minded beliefs and would not give up worshipping other humans and human institutions. It was painful to those institutions, as well. Progress was treated with suspicion by the Church and was many times declared to be the work of the Devil.

16:8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

    The Church establishment, fearing for its existence, once again used its old methods of subjugation of weak human minds. It declared the Pope to be Infallible. After all those centuries of Papal prominence in European affairs, only in 1870 was this undoubtedly blasphemous doctrine (still an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church) officially proclaimed, in a desperate attempt by the representatives of the old order to maintain their former position of power and influence. 

16:9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

    They obviously "repented not", since they declared that no mistakes had been made by the Infallible Pontiffs during past centuries.

Rome is incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy 

     A final blow was finally delivered to the very seat of Roman Catholicism. From the 1850's to the 1870's, the Catholic armies protecting the See of Rome, the French and the Austrians, lost much of their strength. A new power emerged in the Italian peninsula. It was what had started out as the Kingdom of Sardinia, and whose destiny was to expand its borders and, ultimately, grow into the Kingdom of Italy. And Rome was to become the new Kingdom's Capital. For many years, the Italian armies were occupying one region of the Papal States after the other, until they finally reached Rome and stripped the Pope of the last remnants of his temporal power. These maps show Europe before the Sardinian expansion (1840), after the partial unification of Italy (1861), and after the fall of the Papal States and the unification of Germany (1871), which led to the formation of the German Empire, or Second Reich, which would last until the end of World War I: 

1840

1861

1871

    For many years after the final incorporation of Rome into the Italian Kingdom, relations between the Italian government and the Pope were extremely tense.

16:10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,

    Interestingly, the proclamation of Papal Infallibility took place almost simultaneously with the final occupation of Rome by the Italian armies. 

16:11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

The Jews return to Palestine after WWI

    Let's see what the situation is in another part of the world. In the East, the formerly great Ottoman Empire is disintegrating. In the latter part of the 19th century, there were very few Jews living in Palestine, but, due to the decline of the Turkish Empire and its Islamic fervour, the Jewish population was slowly growing. In 1917, during World War I, the British captured Jerusalem from the Turks. From that time on, an even larger number of Jews began returning to the land of their ancestors. This immigration would take huge dimensions after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

     In chapter 9, the river Euphrates is closely linked to the Turkish nation. In this instance, the drying up of the Euphrates symbolizes the decline of Turkish might. These maps show the British acquisitions in the Middle East, along with the gradual decomposition of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Republic of Turkey:

1871

1885

1917

1925

     Some say that the Arab states established after the Ottoman decline are the "kings of the east", but this does not fit, since there is a way that must be prepared. The Arabs have been continuously inhabiting the Middle East and North Africa for many centuries, in contrast to the Jews, who were gathered to Palestine from all over the world, so a way had to be prepared for them.

The world is again led to War 

    Let's get back to Europe, where horrific events are about to take place. From the 1920's to the early 1940's, it seems like the Dark Ages are making a spectacular comeback. The Fascist Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, has created a quasi-Empire. Before the outbreak of World War II, he occupied Albania and Abyssinia, and also annexed the (Italian, anyway) colony of Libya. During the War, Slovenia, Dalmatia, Montenegro and Greece would be, for a few years, under Italian administration (although it would be the Germans that would actually occupy most of those regions). Thus, it seems that a new Empire has emerged. Many times did Mussolini affirm that Rome had once again become the Capital of a new Roman Empire. The Dragon, who symbolized the ancient Roman Empire in chapter 12, has again taken the form of a State. A new Roman Empire, now present under Mussolini, can certainly be symbolized by a Dragon, the symbol of its ancestor. It is the first time since the fall of the original Roman Empire that Rome is the political and administrative, not spiritual, centre of such a large and powerful (with a little German help) political entity.

     Mussolini also made peace with the Papacy, which had been an enemy of the Kingdom of Italy since the occupation of the Papal States by the latter. A tiny independent state, the Vatican City, was founded under the Lateran Treaty of 1929. The Papacy was given a steady income in compensation for the loss of the Papal States. Moreover, Catholicism was declared the dominant religion of the Italian Kingdom. In return, the Papacy simply agreed to refrain from criticizing the Fascist government. Since the vast majority of Italians were Catholics, this was a decisive step towards the elimination of virtually all opposition to the Fascist regime and helped the latter in its effort to gain the people's favour. Passions were flaming in the field of politics at that time, and the Church felt she had to choose between Fascism and Communism, so she chose to ally herself with what she saw as the lesser of two evils, to prevent the worst of the two from taking over.

    The great Nazi Empire is also being created. Adolf Hitler has proclaimed a Third Reich, the First Reich being the Holy Roman Empire (either from Charlemagne in 800 or from Otto I in 962). The Reich's destiny was to occupy all of continental Europe (except for neutral countries and Axis satellites), and thus revive the (Holy Roman) Empire of Charlemagne, which, as we have seen, was a short-lived version of the first Beast of chapter 13, and an heir to the Dragon of chapter 12. In other words, the Third Reich meets the criteria to be named a seven-headed and ten-horned Beast:

1942

    During the years before the Nazi Party's ascension to power, the Catholic Church in Germany was intensely active against it. Among other things, Nazi Party members were not allowed to receive Communion. The opposition involved the field of politics, as well. The Catholic Centre Party was the strongest enemy of the National Socialist one in the German political scene, having given the country quite a few Chancellors during the years preceding the Nazis' rise to power. On the other hand, the Protestant Church in Germany did not seem to be annoyed by the growth of the Nazi Party. In July 1933, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the Vatican's Secretary of State, who had once been the Papal representative in Berlin and would, in 1939, become Pope Pius XII, signed a Concordat with the new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler. Other agreements were signed as well. It was agreed that the Vatican would have greater control over the appointing of bishops in German bishoprics, and would be allowed to run Catholic schools in Germany. Furthermore, Catholicism would be tolerated by the State. In return, it was agreed that the Catholic Centre Party would be dissolved along with all other politically active Catholic organizations, that measures against the Nazi Party (e.g. not allowing Party members to receive Communion) would be lifted, and that German Catholics would have to pledge their allegiance to the Nazi government. In other words, the agreements helped eradicate virtually all opposition to the new, evil rulers of Germany. The reason given by the Vatican for accepting Hitler's terms is that it was the only way to protect German Catholics from a possible persecution by the Nazis. Many accusations have also been made regarding the relatively silent attitude of the Vatican towards the actions of the Nazis during the War. It seems that the Vatican saw in Nazi Germany a great hope for the eradication of Communism and the Soviet Union. 

    To sum up, we have a revived Dragon (Fascist Italy), a revived Beast (Nazi Germany), and the Papacy, which, although officially opposed to totalitarian regimes, did in fact help eliminate much of the opposition to the aforementioned regimes in Italy and Germany.

16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

    In chapter 19, this False Prophet is identified with the second Beast of chapter 13 (the Papacy). Moreover, Jezebel of chapter 2 (referred to during the description of the Church of Thyatira) is named a false prophetess. 

I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. ... Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world ... will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

 Winston Churchill - June 18, 1940

    The whole world was forced into battle because of the inhuman ideology that Germany and Italy, with the tolerance of the Vatican, tried to promote. It would prove to be the Mother of all Battles. 

16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, 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.

    In chapter 13, it was shown that "wonders" or "miracles" was referring to words of condemnation by the Pope. In this instance, condemnation was directed against "unclean" and "defective" humans, like Jews and homosexuals. (Interestingly, most Christian Churches throughout history have fiercely criticized and made war against these two same groups of people.)

    The greatest catastrophe the world has ever known was a real trial for the human spirit, so easily exhibiting humane virtues in times of peace. Instincts of survival were brought to surface, and all sorts of crimes, like murder, theft and treason, were committed during the misery of this great War.

16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

World War II results in the Jewish Holocaust

    Remember how the "leader" of the Muslims (in chapter 9), Abaddon/Apollyon, had both a Hebrew and a Greek name, because he was a destroyer for both these nations and corresponding religions? I find it appropriate that the battlefield in which this great War was fought should have a Hebrew name, in honour of the millions of Jews that were tortured and/or killed by the disciples of the "master race". In reality, more Russians or Poles were killed than Jews, but the attack against Jews was not only physical, but also ideological. Should Hitler have prevailed, there would probably be very few Jews alive in the Old World today.

16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

     In ancient Greek, the word for "he gathered" is the same as for "they gathered", when "they" is of neuter gender ("spirit" is neuter). So, the verse can also be read as "and they (the spirits) gathered them together" etc., which is in accordance with the previous comments. One should have a profound knowledge of the Greek language to be able to interpret a prophecy written in Greek as accurately as possible, and I feel lucky that I was blessed with the gift of growing up in Greece.

The world after the War

    The War's unprecedented horrors led to a massive rejection of all the mentalities that had contributed to the eruption of the War. Prejudice against Jews or homosexuals came under criticism, and a universal campaign for the protection of the rights of minorities began. Also, the Church's teachings were felt to be very closely related to the aforementioned mentalities, and this led, inevitably, to a general rejection of the Church by post-War societies. Moreover, the Roman Catholic Church, for reasons explained above, was felt to be even more closely associated with the totalitarian regimes of Italy and Germany (an impression to the creation of which the Vatican had contributed a lot), so she was criticized even more fiercely than the other Churches.

     World War II has been the last event of Biblical proportions to this day (World War I did not result in the occupation of all of Europe by Germany; it was merely an introduction to the second War). But is our current age described in this sequence of Biblical events? We saw a quite successful description of the spiritual indifference that characterizes our era of material abundance in chapter 3, during the description of the Church of Laodicea. Let's see what this chapter has to say. In our age, the world is moving at an increasingly greater speed. Our age is an age of "voices, thunders and lightnings". Just watch television for an hour and you'll see all of these. 

16:17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

16:18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

The future

     What is this "earthquake" that is supposed to take place simultaneously with or immediately after the time of "voices, thunders and lightnings"? In chapters 6 and 11, the respective "earthquakes" symbolized dramatic and revolutionary changes, affecting both the secular and the spiritual world. Could this "earthquake" refer to the massive anti-establishment movements of the sixties and seventies, or to the great scientific and technological advances of our time? I don't know, and only time will tell. But the next verses lead me to think that this "revolution" has not happened yet, or at least its major phase has not occurred yet (This is also why I don't attribute verse 16:18 to the battles of WWII). Because, apparently, this "revolution" will be the cause of the breaking up, into three parts, of the Great City. The latter is the one that receives punishment in chapter 11 (where she is also called Sodom and Egypt), and is identified, in chapter 18, with the City of Babylon, who, in chapter 17, sits on the seven hills of Rome (in other words, the Church of Rome). The City of God, on the other hand, is named "Holy Jerusalem" and "the beloved City", and is presented to us only after the City of Babylon has been defeated. Thus, the Church of Rome may be destined to be divided into three parts and then collapse, as is shown in the next verse. This will probably be accompanied by the extinction of all other Churches ("the cities of the nations"), and probably of all other religions as well, at least in their present form. It will indeed take an astonishing, global-scale event to produce such a result. The Christian Church has played her part in our spiritual ascension, but has grown old, and must now retire. The community of followers of the Word of God must create a new Church, one that will not make the mistakes of the past. This new Church will lead humankind to a new golden age of light and knowledge, that will last for a thousand years (chapter 20) and, ultimately, after a final clash with the powers of Darkness, for all eternity. Of course, regarding verses that refer to the future, only speculation is possible. And we must be extremely careful should such events begin to take place, as verse 16:21 speaks of a "blasphemy", which is still in the future. This means that, after the prophesied (if my interpretation is correct) downfall of presently existing Churches, there may appear a new movement among the people, characterized by "blasphemy" in a way that I cannot foresee. But such a movement cannot last long, since chapter 19 declares that, after the downfall of the Whore, the Bride of Christ will come.

      In conclusion, I believe that verses 16:18 to 16:21 are the ones that describe our immediate future, before the "Millennium of peace" begins. It could be argued that these "1000 years" signify 360,000 years, in accordance with the "day-year" principle used throughout the Apocalypse. I don't believe this is so. The arrival of the true Church will usher in a new era of light, during which all falsehoods will be gone, and everything will be seen for what it really is. Thus, "a thousand years" probably signify a thousand actual years. 

16:19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

16:20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

16:21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

    If my commentary on the rest of chapter 16 is generally correct, we could be heading for some pretty interesting times. An event ("earthquake") will take place, one that will shake our society from its foundations, and will probably be the cause of the death of the old religious establishments. "Islands and mountains", referring to offices and positions of power, shall not only change hands, as in chapter 6, when Christianity replaced the Graeco-Roman Pantheon, but shall disappear altogether, meaning that a totally new society will emerge. A great catastrophe ("hail" of "exceeding great" proportions), and a great "blasphemy" (?) will accompany this reversal of the current world order. 

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Chapter 17: The Napoleonic Era

 

The story of Napoleon produces on me an impression like that produced by the Revelation of St. John the Divine. We all feel there must be something more in it, but we do not know what.

 Goethe

The Church of Rome is about to receive punishment

    Throughout the Apocalypse, a Church is symbolized by a "woman" or a "city". During the description of the glorious and beloved City of New Jerusalem, which is descending from Heaven in chapter 21, it is said that the beloved City is built upon twelve rocks, each having the name of one of the Apostles, and is guided by the light of God and the Lamb. Thus, this City is the true Church of Christ, the Woman clothed with the Sun of chapter 12. So the other City described in the book of Revelation, alternately called Babylon, Sodom, Egypt, Jezebel, The Image to the Beast, The Whore and The Great City, has to be a Church that has committed spiritual "fornication" (the latter explained further down, as well as in chapter 2), and many crimes. History teaches us that this Church has existed. The adulterous Woman sitting on seven mountains, described in this chapter, is the Church that sits on the seven hills of Rome. This means neither that Roman Catholics are by definition false believers, nor that Protestants or Orthodox Christians are by definition true believers. It is the Roman Church establishment that is condemned here, and, sadly, imitators of this establishment have existed in both the Orthodox and the Protestant world. 

17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:

17:2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

     But why should the Church of Rome be the recipient of such criticism? And why aren't the other Churches likewise criticized? Why does the Church of Rome occupy such a special place among the Churches? The reason is that, being free from Byzantine imperial control, she remained unchecked and, eventually, discovered and abused the power that she could exercise over the minds of the nearly universally illiterate people of the Dark and Middle Ages. The Germanic peoples were blinded by the light of Rome's imperial heritage, and sought to revive the Empire through its only remnant, the Roman Church. Thus, the latter eventually grew into a veritable ecclesiastical empire. As a result, the higher positions in the Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church became attractive to those who sought temporal power, of which this Church had a lot. History teaches us that, during the Dark and Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Roman Pontiffs acted much like Roman Emperors, were usually evil, and would frequently, through their actions, dishonour the Word of God, whom they were supposed to represent. They became gods on earth (they claimed that they could forgive sins and that they were infallible) and demanded that the Church belong to Rome and to themselves, and not to Christ, the Church's rightful Husband. This is the meaning of the "fornication" spoken of in this chapter, as well as in chapter 2. The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, never had the opportunity to become an empire of her own. She was always under the control of one powerful leader or another; the Byzantine Emperor, the Turkish Sultan, the Russian Czar. And the Protestant Church came into existence at a time when people were waking up from the Middle Ages and would not allow any Church to rule their countries. It's not because of some blind hatred towards the Catholic Church that I explain the Apocalypse in a seemingly anti-Catholic way, but on the basis of universally accepted historical facts. I do not claim that Catholics are by definition worse Christians than Protestants or Orthodox Christians. In previous chapters, I recognized the Catholic Church's fundamental works during the Dark Ages in Europe, as well as her fierce opposition to the Nazi Party in Germany, before the Vatican helped eliminate that opposition, and while the Protestant Church of Germany was rather lukewarm. But not even a Catholic Christian can ignore the multitude of spiritual and physical crimes committed by the Church establishment, especially the one of the Church of Rome, throughout history.

    We are now about to see the "Whore", residing in spiritual wilderness, and sitting on a Beast. In the Apocalypse, as we have seen, a Beast symbolizes an empire or other kind of political entity that is practically the ruler of the world in its corresponding era. The Whore resides in wilderness, much like the Woman clothed with the Sun of chapter 12 during the arid 1260-year period of Papal dominance. The Woman of chapter 12 was unwillingly chased into the wilderness by the enemies of the Word of God, while the Whore of this chapter is enjoying herself while being in the wilderness, since her purpose is not to produce the fruit of the Gospel, but to reign over the nations, which is incompatible with the cultivation of the Gospel. Both of these Churches reside in the wilderness, but for different reasons. In both cases, though, the result is the same: the Word of God is not adequately cultivated, and humankind is not able to enjoy the fruit of the Gospel, especially during those 1260 years.

17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

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     This Beast has seven heads and ten horns, meaning that it has something to do with the first Beast of chapter 13, or one of its particular versions throughout history. There are, interestingly, no crowns on either the heads or the horns, meaning that it is neither an empire ruled politically by Rome nor a coalition of independent kingdoms. It has the colour of blood, meaning that its existence is associated with the spilling of blood during war or revolution. Another of its characteristics is some sort of blasphemy.

    More clues to this Beast's identity are given further down. Now, let's take a look at the woman sitting on it. She is dressed in imperial purple and in the colour of blood, symbolizing her imperial heritage and attitude and the blood she has caused to be spilled over the centuries. Her appearance is further beautified by precious stones and pearls, a symbol for her vast material possessions. She is holding a golden cup, which is actually used in her rituals, and has committed many abominable things, including spiritual "fornication".

17:4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

    Another of her main characteristics is Mysticism; because Logic would have deprived her of her dominant status.

17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

    "Mystery" could also mean that a hidden meaning lies behind "Babylon", which is not to be taken literally. It's obvious that the woman Babylon has something to do with the woman Jezebel of chapter 2, as well as with the City called Sodom and Egypt in chapter 11, since their description and actions are similar.

    Even though her appearance is glamorous and awe-inducing, she is guilty of a multitude of crimes, in many cases committed against true Christian believers, as history ascertains.

17:6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

    Thus, she is not worthy of admiration.

17:7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

The Empire that will punish the Roman Church is identified

    Let's take another look at this particular Beast that is carrying her.

17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

    This Beast was, and is not, and shall ascend. Thus, the time perspective from which this scene is viewed is before the emergence of this Beast, and after the downfall of another Beast that was identical or closely related to the one that shall emerge. The latter shall emerge after some sort of chaotic situation, symbolized by the "bottomless pit". It shall be a political entity different from any other that has existed in the world so far (it provokes admiration).

17:9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

    The seven heads are an allusion to the seven hills of Rome. The Whore is sitting on seven "mountains", while she is also sitting on many waters, as the Angel tells John in the beginning of this chapter. In chapter 8, the Vandal nation is symbolized as a mountain. Thus, seven mountains could mean that the Whore reigns over the nations of the Earth. Later in this chapter, the Angel will tell John that "many waters" symbolize many peoples, over whom the Whore is reigning.

17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

    One king (the sixth of the seven) "is". But we have seen that the Beast "is not", from the time perspective used here. How can both of these facts be true?  

17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

    And another confusing thing just popped up. The Beast described earlier in this chapter is identical to an eighth king, who is to rule after the seven have completed their reign. And the Beast is identical to one (or several, but not all, since the Beast does not exist during the reign of the sixth king) of the seven. So, some of these kings fulfill the criteria to be named Beasts, or political entities that have ruled the world, and some don't. And these kings have to be in some sort of sequence. Finding out what this sequence refers to is a key that will unlock the mysteries of the surrounding chapters. We must eliminate any misconceptions or false expectations. If the events described in this chapter have already been fulfilled in the past, then we don't have to expect a fulfillment in the future.

    As we have seen, the Beast of chapter 13 had great power for 1260 years. Was this coalition of Catholic kingdoms ever united under one political leader? Under the Merovingian dynasty, from 497 on, the Frankish Kingdom was the only Western European state to be embracing the same doctrine as the Church of Rome (the Visigoths also joined the doctrine in 589, but their kingdom soon fell apart). The Frankish Kingdom can thus be said to represent a nascent Beast, on which the Church of Rome has placed the seven heads and ten horns that she has inherited from the original Roman Empire:

530 AD

     All non-Frankish kingdoms would eventually disappear. From 534 on, as has been shown during the analysis of chapter 11, the Frankish Kingdom was indisputably the most powerful Western European state: 

565 AD

     The Beast was manifested in its full power by the Frankish Empire, which was founded in the year 800 by the Frankish King Charlemagne, who was crowned by Pope Leo III. All of civilized Europe, apart from the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim conquests in the Iberian peninsula, came to lie within the boundaries of that Empire for a few decades; no other organized Christian kingdom existed in Western Europe at that time. Even the Papal States were part of it. And it was certainly Roman in nature. Charlemagne was at that time considered to be the Western Roman Emperor, and historians traditionally regard him as the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, which would dominate European political affairs until 1806. In other words, the Frankish Empire was closely related to both the original Roman Empire and the Roman Church (to which it was loyal), thus deserving to be endowed with seven heads and ten horns. Here is a map of Europe in the year 800, dominated by the presence of the Empire of Charlemagne: 

800 AD

     This Empire was divided and the modern states of Central and Western Europe descend from it: 

814 AD

880 AD

     The traditional inheritors of the Empire of Charlemagne are the French and the Germans, both descending from the original Franks to a varying degree. Let's take a look at France. What were the dynasties that ruled France until the abolition of Monarchy? And who ruled France after the Republic was proclaimed in 1792?

    1. The Merovingian dynasty (from 481), with King Clovis I being its most prominent member. 2. The Carolingian dynasty (from 752), under which the (Holy Roman) Empire of Charlemagne was created. This dynasty was later broken up into two main branches, the French and the German branch. 3. The French branch of the Carolingians (from 843) ruled only nominally over a Kingdom made up of feuds. 4. The Capetian dynasty (from 987) then came to power, and, some centuries later, 5. The Valois branch of the Capetians (from 1328) took over, later to be replaced by 6. The Bourbon branch of the Capetians (from 1589), which included the famous Louis XIV and the unfortunate Louis XVI, who had to deal with the French Revolution, after the outbreak of which, in July 1789, 7. The National Assembly seized power and ruled together with Louis XVI for a short time (1789-1791), but then the Revolution became more radical, 8. The French Republic was proclaimed and the King was beheaded. Anarchy and chaos characterized the first two years of the Republic, during which a multitude of crimes were committed, and after which a period of moderate rule (the Directory) followed. The Republic declared war on all of Europe, in an attempt to spread the Revolution throughout the world and overthrow the old regimes. Napoleon Bonaparte emerged as a great military leader, leading the French army to many victories. He founded Republics in the Netherlands and in Italy; those functioned more like dictatorships and later gave their places to kingdoms ruled by friends and relatives of Napoleon. The Pope was taken prisoner and died in exile in 1799. Not one Catholic European kingdom remained undefeated by the French armies. Spain, Germany and Poland became French satellites. Austria was forced to accept Napoleon's terms for peace. The Holy Roman Empire disappeared from the face of the earth. Half of the European part of Russia was also occupied. Meanwhile, Napoleon had concentrated all power in his hands, had overthrown the Directory and had become First Consul in 1799 and then Emperor in 1804. 

      This is what Europe looked like before Napoleon's campaigns:

1780

     And here is what Europe looked like in 1812, at the height of Napoleon's power:

1812

    When he became Emperor, Napoleon claimed that his Empire would adhere to the principles of the Revolution expressed in the Constitution of the former Republic. Even though the Empire's adherence to the revolutionary democratic ideals would gradually decrease, it was officially based on them, and claimed to be a revolutionary Empire. Napoleon was actually voted Emperor by the legislative bodies and the French people accepted this through a referendum. The French Empire was still referred to as "Revolutionary France", even though the Revolution had officially ended in 1799. When Napoleon was finally defeated and then exiled, first to the island of Elba and then to the island of St. Helena, and the Bourbons returned to power, the European countries that had been opposing Napoleon expressed their relief that the Revolution had been defeated. 

    In other words, the Republic and the Empire should not be viewed as two separate "kings" in the sequence of Frankish/French rulers. After all, the Emperor had also been the head of the Republic from 1799 to 1804. The transition from Republic to Empire took place in a smooth way, through democratic procedures (at least in theory) and a referendum. After the victories of the Republic's armies, Napoleon had to rule over a large territory, which was continually threatened by outside and inside enemies. A strong government was needed, and Napoleon felt that only an emperor could deal with the challenges facing France. 

     Many times did Napoleon affirm that his goal was to revive Charlemagne's Empire, considering himself a successor to the latter (As we saw in chapter 16, the Third Reich and its vast conquests are also a revival of Charlemagne's Beast). However, Napoleon took his imperial crown from the Pope's hands and did not allow the Pope to crown him like Charlemagne had done. Even though a Concordat had been signed with the new Pope in 1801, the latter was again taken prisoner, like his predecessor, a couple of years after the proclamation of the Empire, and would only be reinstated after Napoleon's fall. In other words, Napoleon and the Papacy were not the best of friends. But the fact that Napoleon took his crown from the Pope's hands means that he indeed considered himself to be the new Western Roman Emperor. Moreover, he chose the Roman eagle as the official symbol of his Empire. In other words, Napoleon took the French Republic and made her into a new seven-headed and ten-horned Beast. 

    After all this historical account of French rulers, we can see that the "kings" occupying positions 1, 2 and 8 in the line of succession do in fact, at some point during their existence, fulfill the criteria to be named seven-headed and ten-horned Beasts. The others do not, as they co-exist, during their respective eras, with other strong European kingdoms loyal to the Church of Rome. The point of view from which this line of succession is seen is the reign of king #6 (French Kingdom under the Bourbon dynasty). Kings #1 and #2 (Frankish Kingdom under the Merovingians and Frankish Kingdom/Empire under the Carolingians), at least at some point during their existence, constituted seven-headed and ten-horned Beasts (the Beast "was"). King #8 (French Republic/Empire) is another seven-headed and ten-horned Beast, which is going to arise in the future (from the point of view used here). During the time of king #6, the seven-headed and ten-horned Beast of chapter 13 still existed, but, when it says that the Beast "is not", it means that king #6 is not a Beast.

    The French Republic/Empire was founded upon the Revolution, and that's why the new Beast is scarlet-coloured. It ascends out of the "bottomless pit", meaning the chaos and anarchy of the Revolution, most evident during the so-called "Reign of Terror" (mainly 1793-94), during which the guillotine was very frequently used. The Beast has no crowns on either the heads or the horns. The French Republic did evolve into an Empire, and it could thus be argued that it should bear crowns, at least on its heads. However, this Beast's purpose was to overthrow all of the old European dynasties and replace them with regimes based on revolutionary democratic principles, and was itself, in theory, based on such principles as well. It can be said that the Beast is actually the French Republic, which, due to the circumstances, was forced to become an Empire. Furthermore, crowns on the seven heads would mean that Rome, the seven-hilled city, was the administrative centre of the Empire, but that was not true. Crowns on the horns would mean that the peripheral kingdoms were politically independent, and that was also not true. The "names of blasphemy" probably refer to the spirit of atheism, which almost killed religion, and which was fully manifested throughout Europe during the years after the Revolution. These "names of blasphemy" are diffusely written on the Beast, and not on any political figure or institution. One would expect, though, a Beast to be friendly to the Whore, and the French Republic/Empire was anything but that, especially during the years of the Republic. Let's clear this up. 

17:12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

    The ten horns of the Roman Dragon were its provinces around the Mediterranean, while the Beast's horns in chapter 13 were the Catholic kingdoms of Europe, mostly during the Middle Ages. In analogy, the horns in this instance must symbolize the regimes established by the French Revolutionary armies throughout Europe (again, ten is a symbolic number). Not one of these new regimes had existed before the Revolution (they "have received no kingdom as yet"), and their reign was short ("one hour"). Napoleon was ultimately defeated, so the regimes that had existed before the Revolution were eventually reinstated. 

17:13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

    Don't forget that these Republics and Kingdoms (the ten horns) were ruled by friends and relatives of Napoleon. 

17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

    In the European order of things after the conquests of the French Revolutionary armies, a tendency to do away with religion arose, mainly among the educated classes of European cities, as had happened in France. Atheism had finally expressed itself, after centuries of incubation. It is not surprising that it was expressed in an extreme way, as is the case with every new ideology that is introduced into society. The evils and impracticality of extreme atheism had not yet been proven by experience, and many people thought that, if the old structures were to be destroyed, everything that had been associated with them (including religion) would have to be destroyed as well, in order to prevent the old world order from re-emerging. But religion was to prove itself indestructible.

17:15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

    This is indeed an appropriate description for the most populous religious denomination in the world.

17:16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

    In the Greek text, it says that both the Beast and the ten horns shall hate the Whore etc., but the meaning is pretty much the same. Napoleon's laws, in accordance with the ideas of the age, formed the basis of a completely secularized State, so the Roman Catholic Church was deprived of her riches, influence and power in this new order of things. 

17:17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

    The Beast and its horns, in their battle against religion, inadvertently fulfill God's wish to see the Roman Church establishment destroyed. It is made clear in this verse that the Beast described in this chapter is an enemy of the Whore. Let's not forget that Napoleon's Beast is not a version of the Beast of chapter 13, but instead of Daniel's seven-headed and ten-horned Beast, of which the one of chapter 13, the friend of the Whore, is only a version. Let's sum up the empires Daniel's fourth Beast is made up of: 1. The Dragon of the 12th chapter, symbolizing the Roman Empire. The latter was a continuation of the ancient Roman Republic, which had ruled most of the Mediterranean for many decades before the Empire was proclaimed. The Republic had existed before the time of Christ only, so the Apocalypse does not deal with it. It can be included under the Dragon, since the Empire was the Republic's direct continuation.  2. The Roman Catholic Beast of chapter 13, that was, for some time, during the early stages of its existence, interchangeable with the Frankish Kingdom or Empire,  3. France, enlarged by Napoleon's campaigns, during the years of the French Republic and subsequent Empire.  4. Hitler's Third Reich, accompanied by the little Dragon of Mussolini (chapter 16). In the course of history, the aforementioned empires were the only ones that ever managed to unite the whole of Europe (the centre of the world during the last two millennia) under their rule, and they all did it, each in its own way, in the name of Rome.

     Enjoy (?) a panoramic view of the Beast through the centuries:

The red Dragon of chapter 12:

The Beast of chapter 13 during its early years, as the Frankish Empire:

The Beast of chapter 13 in its later phase, as a coalition of Catholic kingdoms:

The scarlet Beast of chapter 17:

The Beast and Dragon of chapter 16:

17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

   I think this verse says it all.

Chapter 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22


Summary and Conclusions

What is the "Historicist" interpretation?

    You have probably heard that the Apocalypse prophesies of an Antichrist, who is going to rule the world for a period of 3.5 or 7 years, usually referred to as the "Great Tribulation", after which Jesus Christ will make His second appearance. This is the "Futurist" interpretation. Other interpretations of this prophecy exist as well. For example, until the 19th century, most Protestants believed that all of AD History was encoded in the Apocalypse. This is the "Historicist" interpretation. The reason it is not widely known today is that it was abused by various 19th century cult leaders, who tried to pinpoint the exact year of the Second Coming based on it and failed.

Who or what is the "Beast" of the Apocalypse, according to this interpretation?

    The Old Testament prophet Daniel uses the term "Beast" to describe an empire that dominates the world. The Babylonian Empire is symbolized by a lion, the Medo-Persian one by a bear and the Empire of Alexander the Great by a leopard. Daniel also speaks of a fourth "Beast", which is not similar to any known animal and has seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads are thought to symbolize the seven hills of Rome, and the ten horns the provinces and territories of the Roman Empire, the number of which varied over time. Daniel's prophecy speaks of a "little horn" that would arise among the ten horns, would devour three of them and would reign supreme, making war with the saints and committing blasphemies and abominations. This is precisely what the 12th and 13th chapter of the Apocalypse talk about. 

    In chapter 12, a Dragon with seven heads and ten horns is presented to us. This is the Roman Empire. This Dragon persecutes a "Woman clothed with the sun". This is the Church during the early centuries of her existence. In chapter 13, a "Beast" arises. It has inherited its power from the Dragon. It too has seven heads and ten horns. It looks like it is made up of several wild animals, resembling the semi-barbaric peoples that invaded and took over the Western part of the Roman Empire, mainly during the 5th century AD. The power behind this Beast is another Beast, with two horns, resembling a lamb, but speaking as a dragon. This second Beast makes war with the saints and commits blasphemies and abominations, like the "little horn" of the Beast of Daniel. It is the Papacy. The Papacy would be the supreme authority on all spiritual issues, possessing huge influence regarding secular ones as well, throughout a large part of Europe and the world, for many centuries. 

    The "three horns" that had to fall for the Papacy to rise are believed to represent the Heruli, the Ostrogoths and the Vandals, who were in control of the city of Rome and the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and were all converted to the Christian heresy of Areianism. The Papacy grew into an independent and powerful entity only after these nations disappeared. At first, the Ostrogoths defeated and replaced the Heruli and, later on, the Byzantines annihilated the Ostrogoths and the Vandals.

    A "Beast" with seven heads and ten horns is an empire that rules the (known) world, or a large part of it, in the name of Rome. Central and Western Europe, during the centuries of Papal dominance, did in fact constitute a "Roman" empire, since Rome, being the seat of the Papacy, was the spiritual capital and decision-making centre for most of Europe. Later on, overseas colonization gave Rome dominion over a large part of the world. 

    The Papacy did in fact commit "blasphemies and abominations" during its reign. Jesus says that only the Lord is good without flaw. But the Papacy has declared itself infallible, and continues to do so until this day. The Bible also says that only the Lord can forgive sins, but the Papacy has claimed that it too has that power. And the Inquisition is still remembered as one of the evilest institutions that have ever been created. 

Does this mean that Catholics are bad Christians, while the others are good?

    Of course not. Anyone who genuinely seeks the Truth is a good Christian, and anyone who does not is a bad one.

Who is the Antichrist? And what does that mysterious number 666 mean?

    What does "Anti-Christ" mean? In Greek, "anti" means either "the opposite of sth" or "in place of sth". The Popes have claimed to be the representatives of Christ on earth, or Vicars of Christ. "Vicar" actually means "substitute". It shares the same root with the word "vice", as in "vice-president". The Greek word for "vice-president" (meaning "in place of the president") is "anti-proedros". In other words, the Popes have given themselves the title "Anti-Christ". 

    666 is "the number of the name of the Beast". The Beast is referred to in the masculine gender in several passages. What is the name of the Beast? Is it not "Roman"? What is the Greek word for "Roman" in the masculine gender? It is "Latinos". During the time that the Apocalypse was written, a frequent alternative spelling of that word was "Lateinos". Now, every Greek letter has a specific value. And the value of l+a+t+e+i+n+o+s is 30+1+300+5+10+50+70+200, which is 666.

Does this mean that to be the Pope is to be damned, cursed, etc.?

    Of course not. A person cannot be automatically damned and cursed. They have to deserve it. The present Pope, John Paul II, is a nice person, and many Popes have been good Christians. But the majority of Popes during the centuries that the Papacy was the undisputed spiritual authority throughout most of Europe, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, were evil, and the Church they were the heads of was characterized by worldliness, hypocrisy, ruthlessness and thirst for power. They were the ones that committed the blasphemies and abominations. And it is not surprising that the Lord knew about all these things before they happened, and warned us about them in this magnificent Prophecy.

Then the Apocalypse has already been fulfilled?

    Mostly, but not completely. In fact, some quite recent fulfillments have taken place. The Napoleonic Empire and the Third Reich have been prophesied in chapters 17 and 16 respectively, as brief revivals of the Roman Empire. Both of these empires can be traced back to the (Holy Roman) Empire of Charlemagne, which was a continuation of the Western Roman Empire. Even the Jewish Holocaust has been prophesied, as an "accomplishment" of the Third Reich.

You mean the Third Reich was a "Beast"? Maybe this explains why I always felt there was something spooky about it.

    Did you know that Goethe felt the same way about the Napoleonic Empire, and was wondering whether there was a divine scheme behind it? Come to think of it, that empire put an end to more than a millennium of Papal supremacy in Europe. Is that not a Biblical event? Does it not deserve to be mentioned in the Bible?

Wait a second. The Jewish Holocaust has been prophesied?

    I think the Holocaust was the definition of a Biblical event.

What about our time? And what does the Apocalypse say about our future?

    Chapter 3 describes the last period of the Church age as an era of material abundance and spiritual indifference, where the people are mainly interested in obtaining material goods and are lukewarm in their relationship with God. From this, we may deduct that we are now in the last period of the Church age. Chapter 16 also makes me think that the end of the Church age is imminent. We should be cautious, as it seems that a "blasphemy" will take place sometime in the near future. An unspecified disaster will also take place. In the end, a new society will emerge, and there will be a thousand years of peace and love, followed by a brief revival of the powers of Darkness.

Will there be another revival of the Roman Empire in the near future?

    I don't think so, although I don't entirely dismiss the possibility. Chapter 19 again speaks of a "Beast", but it is in the context of what I believe is a recapitulation of the whole story.

So there's no 666 ahead of us? No future Armageddon? No devilish microchip implants? No seven-year tribulation? This is hard to swallow.

    All of these things that you have mentioned were the results of human thought processes during attempts at interpreting the Apocalypse. They are not doctrines. They should neither be accepted nor dismissed without thinking. Ask yourself, which interpretation reveals a more meaningful Book of Revelation? Which one points to a smarter Author for the Book? Which one takes into consideration the pain and suffering caused by the monsters of history, like Adolf Hitler? Which one proves that God is not indifferent to the crimes committed by those who have used His name for their own dark purposes? 


About the author

   Hello! My name is Michael Kosmidis and I am a medical school graduate from Athens, Greece, now working as a doctor in the United Kingdom. I was born in 1976 and was baptized a Christian of the Greek Orthodox denomination. Since my early teen years, I have believed that there is more to this world than the eye alone can see. I now believe that I may have discovered the correct interpretation of some of the key passages of Revelation and want to share my findings with all open-minded seekers, so that, if I am right, these findings may contribute to a revival of interest in this prophetic Book.

     E-mail me


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 


 

 

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B.W.Johnson's "People's New Testament": A real on-line masterpiece. The original was written in the late 19th century, when Historicism was still widely accepted.

"Notes on the Apocalypse" by David Steele, Sr.: Another masterpiece

Fred Miller's homepage: A powerful exposition of the Historicist interpretation

Historicism.com: HisTomorrow

Irenaeus: Against Heresies: The number of the Beast

The prophecies of Saint Malachy on the Popes in Italian, in French and in English: An Irish Catholic bishop of the 12th century prophesied the (now imminent) end of the Roman Catholic Church. A must see.

Fabio Araujo's Prophecy site in English and in Portuguese (the latter is huge). Check out his interpretation of Nostradamus' famous "1999" quatrain. It'll compute in a second.

Great 3D Animated Flags by 3DFlags.com

All art inspired by Revelation in this website used with permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. Her "Revelation Illustrated" site is well worth a visit.

The Apocalypse of John (KJV) without annoying comments


 

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