posted on Apr, 18 2004 @ 04:53 AM
This is the argument that the Anti Christ has already come by correlating historic events with the Book of Revelation. Though Reve;ations is
notoriously difficult to interpret since we do not know what time period it spans or whether it is in chronological or thematic order.
"Among many critics, the beast from the sea that had received plenitude of power from the dragon, or Satan, is actually the Roman Empire, or rather,
the Emperor, its supreme representative.
The token of the beast with which its servants are marked is the image of the emperor on the coins of the realm. This seems to be the obvious meaning
of the passage, that all business transactions, all buying and selling were impossible to them that had not the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:17).
Against this interpretation it is objected that the Jews at the time of Jesus had no scruple in handling money on which the image of Caesar was
stamped (Matt. 22:15-22). But it should be borne in mind that the horror of the Jews for the imperial images was principally due to the policy of
Caligula. He confiscated several of their synagogues, changing them into heathen temples by placing his statue in them. He even sought to erect an
image of himself in the Temple in Jerusalem (Josephus, Antiquities, 18.8.2).
The seven heads of the beast are seven Roman emperors. Five of them are said to be fallen. They are Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero.
The year of Nero's death is 68. The text goes on to say "One is", namely Vespasian, 70-79. He is the sixth emperor. The seventh "is not yet come.
But when he comes his reign will be short". Titus is meant, who reigned but two years (79-81). The eighth emperor is Domitian (81-96); He is
identified with the beast. He is described as the one that "was and is not and shall come up out of the bottomless pit" (xvii, 8). In verse 11 it is
added: "And the beast which was and is not: the same also is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into destruction".
All this sounds like oracular language. But the clue to its solution is furnished by a popular belief largely spread at the time. The death of Nero
had been witnessed by few. Chiefly in the East a notion had taken hold of the mind of the people that Nero was still alive. Gentiles, Jews, and
Christians were under the illusion that he was hiding himself, and as was commonly thought, he had gone over to the Parthians, the most troublesome
foes of the empire. From there they expected him to return at the head of a mighty army to avenge himself on his enemies. The existence of a belief in
a Nero redivivus is attested by Tacitus and Dio Chrysostom.
Many contemporaries of the author of this book believed Nero to be alive and expected his return. The author either shared their belief or utilized it
for his own purpose. Nero had made a name for himself by his cruelty and licentiousness. The Christians in particular had reason to dread him. Under
him the first persecution took place. The second occurred under Domitian. But unlike the previous one, it was not confined to Italy, but spread
throughout the provinces. Many Christians were put to death, many were banished (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., III, 17-19). In this way the Book of
Revelation seems to regard Domitian as a second Nero, "Nero redivivus". Hence it describes him as "the one that was, that is not, and that is to
return". Hence also he counts him as the eighth and at the same time makes him one of the preceding seven, viz. the fifth, Nero.
Note that pagan authors called Domitian a second Nero (calvus Nero, Juvenal. IV, 38). The popular belief concerning Nero's death and return seems to
be referred to also in the passage (xiii, 3): "And I saw one of its heads as it were slain to death: and its death's wound was healed".
The ten horns are commonly explained as the vassal rulers under the supremacy of Rome. They are described as kings (basileis), here to be taken in a
wider sense, that they are not real kings, but received power to rule with the beast. Their power, moreover, is but for one hour, signifying its short
duration and instability (xvii, 17).
The beast may be identified by number 666. This is very likely an instance of gematria, an early form of Jewish mysticism. Its object is to conceal a
name by substituting for it a cipher of equal numerical value to the letters composing it. When the name "Nero Caesar" is spelled with Hebrew
letters as ðøåï ÷ñø (each letter having a corresponding numerical value) it yields the numerical result of 666.
The second beast, that from the land, the pseudoprophet whose office was to assist the beast from the sea, probably signifies the work of seduction
carried on by apostate Christians. They endeavoured to make their fellow Christians adopt the heathen practices and submit themselves to the cultus of
the Caesar. They are not unlikely the Nicolaitans of the seven Epistles. For they are there compared to Balaam and Jezabel seducing the Israelites to
idolatry and fornication. The woman in travail is a personification of the synagogue or the church. Her first-born is Jesus, her other seed is the
community of the faithful."