Revelation 13:1-18 Part 1



12:18:  And it was positioned upon the sand of the sea.

1)    Then I saw a beast having ten horns and seven heads arising out of the sea; and upon its horns there were ten diadems, and a blasphemous name on its heads.

2)    The beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet as a bear, and its mouth the mouth of a lion and the dragon did give it its power and its dominion and great authority;

3)    and one of its heads as having been fatally wounded and its stroke of death healed, the whole land was caused to marvel after the beast.

4)    And they adored the dragon that gave the authority to the beast and adored the beast, saying ‘who is like the beast’ and ‘who is enabled to wage war with it?’

5)    And a mouth speaking great, blasphemous things was given it, and authority to act forty two months was given it;

6)    and it opened its mouth in blasphemies toward God, to blaspheme His Name and those tabernacling in His tabernacle in the heaven.

7)    And there was given it to make war with the holy people and to overcome them.  And authority over every tribe and tongue and people was given it.

8)    And all who dwell on the land whose names have not been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the cosmos shall bow before it.

9)    If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

10) If anyone is for captivity, into captivity he goes; if anyone is for killing by the sword, he is to be killed by the sword.  Here is the determination and the faith of the holy people!

11) Then I saw another beast arise from the land, and it had two horns like unto a young lamb; but it spoke as dragon!

12) It exercises all the authority of the first beast before it and confirms for the land and those dwelling in it that they must adore the first beast, the one whose death-stroke was healed.

13) And it would perform great signs, so that it may make fire to come down from the heaven into the land before the men,

14) and deceiving those who dwell upon the land by the signs given to it to perform before the beast, telling those who dwell upon the land to make an image to the beast that had the death-stroke by the sword and did live.

15) And it was given to it to give life to the image of the beast that the image of the beast might speak, and (it was given to it to) cause even the least of those who would not adore the image of the beast that they be killed;

16) and it causes all, the menial and the great, the rich and the poor, the freemen and the servants, that they be provided a mark upon their right hand or upon their forehead

17) so that no one be able to buy or to sell without having the mark: either the name of the beast or the number of its name.

18) The wisdom is herein.  Let one having a mind calculate the number of the beast; for that number is man, and his number is six hundred and sixty six.



As you can tell from hearing it and reading it along with me, some of the text is familiar (that is, if you’ve read chapter thirteen before in the existing English translations); it’s similar to other translations in places. Yet, some of it is dissimilar.  It will grow more dissimilar as we proceed through the chapter; for it is not at all like many think of it.  Nor is it like many manipulate it and employ it.

I’m going to make just a few points with regard to the process of translating it; and I’ll give you two or three examples of the dissimilarities and comment on why they might be there.  That will be all that we’ll have time for this morning; but I think that will help us a lot as we proceed through the chapter.

Now, as far as the translation is concerned, I have four Greek texts to which I refer, all of which are complete… each of the four including all twenty-nine Newer Testament books.  I also have twenty-one different English renderings of the text available; and when I read them (primarily eight or ten of them), it’s mostly for the purpose of trying to discern why the translators translated something the way they did.

And I find that most of the time it’s because of trying to put the written koine Greek text into easily readable English (remember, that’s called “dynamic equivalency”, which means using a more understandable word or phrase or whole sentences in place of the Biblical language – a language which is perceived as being less understandable); and dynamic equivalencies are always an “interpretation” of what the translator thinks the text says.

But that’s not the case all the time… some instances indicate something even more harmful.  Dynamic equivalencies are rather easy to spot; but errors in translating are more subtle, and that makes them even more harmful.

But (back to the four Greek texts), one of them has (what we call) the “critical apparatus” at the bottom of each page of the text.  This critical apparatus includes the “variations” in the extant manuscripts (those found since the originals were written).

There are literally thousands of these early manuscripts (and “pieces” of manuscripts) that have been found and preserved – some of which have only a Gospel (or maybe more than one); some have just the letters of Paul (or one or more of them); others have only the Revelation, or just maybe the Acts of the apostles.

And some of them are, as I said, just “pieces” of early New Testament scrolls that have been found and collected from different places.

All this to say that the critical apparatus at the bottom of each page in my Greek text lists (and makes use of) many of these important early manuscripts by showing the “variations” in the text that have occurred through the centuries.  At this point in time (as far as we know), none of the originals have been found.  (That’s certainly, in God’s Providence, the best thing, since the original scrolls of the apostles would have been held as sacred icons!  It is the Word of God, not the physical scrolls themselves, that we are to hold in highest esteem.)

But… after copying the Greek text for myself (which is more helpful than could be imagined), and after parsing all the verbs and declining the nouns and pronouns and adjectives, and paying close attention to the connectives (such as the conjunctives and particles), and carefully noting the “locations” at which the apostle placed his subjects and predicates (a very important issue, by the way), it’s time then to look at those “variants” in the critical apparatus.

These “variants” below each portion of the text, as I said, can give a very good picture of how the Church through the centuries has received the text and thought about the text.  And the variants are usually similar to the variations that we see in English translations (which are many).  They are similar in that they are enlightening with regard to that issue of making the text “sound” right in translation; but (and here’s the more harmful), they are also indicative of man’s thought “about” the text rather than what the text says (or how the text reads).

A good example of how men have thought about the text occurs at verse eighteen of chapter twelve (which I’ve included for you in your printed copy. Since chapter thirteen is a continuation of the “sign of Yahveh” that John is seeing and hearing, that verse is here in your copy in order to note that continuation.  I didn’t include verse eighteen in the printed text of chapter twelve for that very reason.)

But verse eighteen of chapter twelve, in the English translations, reflects that thought “about” the text (which is the more harmful variant).  Most of the English translations read “and I stood upon the sand of the sea….”

There are two very serious problems with that translation; one of which is the fact that the Greek verb is not written in the first person singular (I stood) – it is written in the third person singular; it doesn’t refer to John standing on the sand, it refers to the dragon in the verses before it in chapter twelve!  So “it” is the subject (third person singular) – not “I” (first person singular)!

Secondly, it’s not written in the “active” voice… it’s passive!  And the passive voice is just ignored in the translations!  So, since it’s written in the passive voice, rather than the subject doing the acting the action is being received by the subject.  The subject is being “acted upon”!  So “it”, the dragon from the verses before in chapter twelve, is being acted upon rather than doing the action.  “It” was “being stood” or, “positioned” (as I’ve translated it).


“And it was positioned (or located) upon the sand of the sea.”


King James, and a number of the other English versions, have both things wrong.  American Standard version and the English Standard version have it only half right… they read “he stood on the sand of the sea” (reflecting the third person singular of the Greek verb).  But even these two later translations paid no attention to the fact that the verb is specifically written in the passive voice.  And ignoring it (as if the inspired writer didn’t specifically use the passive) is not the way to deal with it!

And let me just say that there is no reason whatever that either of these two mis-translations of this text would be made other than the fact that men are thinking “about” the text rather than translating the text!  These two errors are very harmful, because they substantively change the content of the chapter; and, therefore, they change the character and content of the entire letter from John to the Churches!

Now, I don’t wish to be judgmental about our early forefathers in The Faith (those who translated the Received Text into English); I’m sure that they weren’t being overtly “deceptive” with regard to God’s Word.  They just maybe “thought” that that’s the way it should read, or that somebody before them got it wrong; and therefore they were just “correcting” the wrong that had happened before them.  And they “thought that” because the text didn’t read the way they perceived it.  It didn’t read the way they thought it ought to read.

Once again, for the most part I don’t think they were acting through guile or evil deception for the purpose of doing damage to God’s Word and His Church; the variants that have occurred are much more subtle than that.  So we aren’t trying to “flame” the early translators here….  All of us are subject to error, even if we’re being as careful as we can.

But these two errors in perception by translators of the text show up right in the middle of John’s description of the sign of the woman and the sign of the dragon.  They are not the obvious “dynamic equivalencies”; they are subtle, harmful variants, indicative of how men have perceived the text and mis-translated it.

Another of the grievous errors of the early translations (and I’m skipping over some in order to give you one more), (another one) is found in verse seven.  King James translates this way:


“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints….”


As you can see in your printed copy, the term “saints” doesn’t appear.  The translation is “the holy people”.  But most of the English translations since King James have translated this verse in the same way; they all read: “the saints”.

However, “the saints” isn’t what the text says!  If one follows God’s language through the Bible, it’s very clear that the word that King James translates “saints” refers specifically to the covenant people that Yahveh “set apart” for Himself from the beginning!  They are the “holy people” – the “set apart ones” (that’s what the word there means: “set apart”).  It is Israel – God’s holy people.

But the translators put their own “interpretation” on the word rather than translating the word.  They injected a foreign idea into the text.  And that foreign idea was that the Biblical term “the holy people” can only mean “the Church”; and it equates only with those rebirthed into Christ.  And it’s a very good example of injecting a sixteenth century concept into a first century text!

But from Moses all the way to the Parousia of The Christ, the people of Israel are called “the holy people” because the nation was set apart by covenant unto God.  Even though it was apostate from the beginning, it was “covenanted” to God; it was a “covenanted” people.  And that covenant was “in place” until such time as the divorce was final at our Lord’s Parousia.  The very fact that it was a “holy people set apart unto God” was the prime factor for the terrible judgment to come for its apostasy!

What the translators of King James did was translate the “Received Text” (the original language text received by the Church) by what they thought it should read.  And what it read to them could only have been the Church!

The Received Text was kept intact by our Lord through the history of the Church; and the King James translation of the Received Text is a most remarkable literary work – used by God for His glory in the entire Anglo sphere of mankind.

Erasmus was a true genius in translation.  He was a linguist; and primarily a Latin linguist.  But the “collation” of all the best available Greek manuscripts was primarily his work.  The assembled Greek text of the newer Scriptures (called the Received Text) is more attributable to him than anyone else, for he was instrumental in collecting it and putting it all together.

And, along with the thirty-seven books of the Hebrew Old Testament, the whole (the sixty six books of the Bible) translated into English, is truly a masterful work – a work that stands alone in English literature.

However, the two examples that I’ve given you so far illustrate that translators are prone to err.  These two are instances in which the translation from the Received Text into English reflects the thought of man about the text, rather than translating the text.

I’m positive that the translators bore no ill will toward the text or to Christ’s Church when they thought it had to be the apostle John who was standing upon the sand of the sea (verse eighteen of chapter twelve).  They just failed to make the connection between that written statement and what came before it, even though all of chapter twelve has to do with the dragon and its pursuit of the seed of the woman.

And I’m equally as positive that there was no hostility toward God and His covenant when they used the term “saints” rather than “holy people” in verse seven.

The Received Text has it right.  But the translators must have truly thought that it was the Lord’s redeemed people (the Church) as being those to whom the text referred.  So that’s the way they translated it into English.  They just missed the Biblical Theology… the whole-Bible-language of God as covenanted Israel is often called His “holy people”, His “set part people… even in its gross idolatries and adulteries.

Further, we will find in this sermon and the following ones on this chapter, that these mis-translations and the “thoughts about” the text have contributed to (not necessarily “determined”, but certainly “contributed to”) the mal-formed eschatological “systems” that have been superimposed on the text of The Revelation.  And also, in the case of verse seven of this chapter, the mis-translations have contributed to mythology with respect to the dragon (the devil) and its authority.

If, as the translations have it, the beast overcame “the saints” for example, as verse seven has it (that is, the redeemed people of Christ), then this verse would be an outright contradiction of John’s written statement in chapter twelve at verse eleven.  He writes there that the brothers in Christ ‘did overcome it (the dragon) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their life even unto death.’

So, if in chapter twelve John says that the Lord’s redeemed people overcome the beast, and here in chapter thirteen at verse seven he says just the opposite (that the beast overcomes Christ’s people), that would be a terrible contradiction in John’s own words.

But the translators have ignored the contradiction.  And the Church has suffered immeasurably for it; for the delusion regarding the authority of the devil is now rampant all through evangelical fundamentalism.  And it can be attributed, at least partially, to the King James translation (or interpretation) of verses eighteen of chapter twelve and seven here in chapter thirteen.


But that’s just two of the variants that we have to address; there are others….

I’ll just mention one other for you here in this introductory sermon.

As we’ve seen so far, the entire Word of God (especially here in chapter twelve of The Revelation) indicates that the serpent/dragon of old has no authority of its own.  It is under authority; and it always has been under authority.  It is superior only to those creatures that it swept out of the glory cloud with its tail at the point when it was cast from the heaven into the earth.

It is called “the avenger” because it is vengeful. (The word “avenger” is a cognate of the word “vengeance”.  So, one who takes vengeance is an avenger)  And Satanos – the devil - is vengeful because all the other creatures in God’s glory cloud/throne-room/sanctuary bore witness to its rebellion against Triune God.

And it was The Word of God (second Person of Triunity) Who cast it from the Presence of God accompanied by all the creatures that supported it and followed its lead.  So its vengeance is toward God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit… and all the other creatures tabernacling in His tabernacle in the heaven – the cherubim, the elders and the angel/messengers, all which bore witness before the throne of justice to the satan’s rebellion.

Ever since that event (the casting from the heaven), the dragon is consumed with vengeance.  It covets the glory of Almighty God; and it was humiliated and embarrassed before all the other creatures at being cast from that Light.  And although every creature in the glory cloud/sanctuary (the “tabernacle of God”) is an object of that covetous vengeance (they having testified against it), that vengeance is focused upon the One Who cast it from the glory.  After all, it is the risen and ascended God the Son Who is the dragon’s ultimate authority.

And over the course of almost seven hundred years it raised up four world-wide dominions; the central purpose of each of them was to subvert and destroy Israel, the city of Jerusalem and the temple on the dome of the rock in an effort to cut off the holy people and the seed – the Anointed One and His people.

As you may remember, we took some time to look at a number of instances in which this creature provoked its own seed to consume the seed of the woman in order to “cut off” the coming of the Anointed One.  You see, if the “Promised One” had no ancestors, then He wouldn’t be born!  That was the conspiracy all along.

There are allusions to some of those instances here in this text before you, and we will get to those in due time; however, the predominance of chapter thirteen and beyond has to do with the four kingdoms raised up to destroy “the holy people” and the city and the temple.  And it especially has to do with the fourth kingdom!

Having failed for three thousand years in all its efforts to cut off the “seed” of the woman, the “holy people” were finally established in ‘the land”, and the tabernacle of God (the image of His tabernacle in the heaven) was built on the dome of the rock in Jerusalem.  At that point the satan’s attention was turned to destroying the nation – the land - of holy people from whom the Anointed One would come!

Upon having desecrated the earthly tabernacle in order to embarrass and humiliate God, the creature’s full intent was to terminate the land of the holy people – the ones with whom God had cut His covenant.

But as we read the Scripture, the Biblical Theology that emerges clearly reveals that each of the four great beasts that arose out of the sea of humanity at the instigation and provocation of the dragon-serpent were for the specific purpose of cutting off the people of God’s covenant – the “holy people”.

Although each of the four beasts ruled all of the civilizations of the earth in their own times, the full intent of the dragon in raising them up was the land of Israel and the holy people.  Satan – the dragon – is seen by God as “positioned” at the edge of the sea, calling up the beasts, provoking the nations of the earth, instigating and fomenting tyrannous dominions – all four of which, each in its own way, ravaged the nation of God’s “holy people”.  The land of Israel was the full focus of the seven hundred year conspiracy.

The fourth beast, which is the center of attention here in the “sign of the woman” and the “sign of the dragon” was, by far, the most savage and bestial of the four.

And the two “beasts” here in chapter thirteen are raised up by the dragon, which had failed in the three previous attempts to destroy the land; and this fourth world dominion was therefore even more vicious and malevolent… it was demoniacal in its barbarity!

And, once again, the focus of the dragon is “the land”; the sign of the dragon is with respect to “the land”; its vengeance is toward God’s “holy people” in “the land”.  Its intense, vengeful desire is to humiliate God and all those tabernacling in His heavenly tabernacle by destroying God’s covenantal “holy people” in the land – desecrating the temple before destroying it - and cutting off the covenant in a feral and brutal slaughter, leaving nothing there but an empty wilderness with birds and animals of prey feeding off rotting bodies.  That’s the dragon’s vengeful desire!

The text of Revelation thirteen has to do with “the land” of Israel.  As John looks on, the devil’s attention is later drawn to the Church; but it is under the complete authority of the risen and ascended Christ who is using this creature to bring justice to God’s “holy people” who have continually broken the covenant.  The divorce and death penalty for adultery is being carried out by a deceived dragon which has been “positioned” on the sand of the sea in order to call out the beast to execute the death penalty.

And here’s the point of all of this….  The translation of King James and many of the other English translations substitutes “the earth” in place of “the land” (and as we’ve just observed, John’s view here is intensely focused on the land of Israel).  And that substitution (the earth) has served to divert attention from that which is obviously the land of God’s holy people, and re-focuses that attention on all the nations of “the earth”.

And (once again, obviously) there is absolutely no Biblical-Theological reason for the dragon’s vengeance to be carried out on the nations and peoples and civilizations of “the earth”, since they were already his “seed”.  And why would Yahveh’s “sign of the woman” and “sign of the dragon” be shown to John if the dragon’s rabid and beastly brutality was centered on the nations of the earth?  That is a senseless translation!

As we’ve seen all through the previous twelve chapters of the Revelation, everything in John’s text has to do with The Christ’s execution of judgment on the land of Israel.  So, why the translation here in chapter thirteen which leads the Church to think in terms of the nations and peoples of the earth?

If you read the King James translation of chapter thirteen, you’ll find several instances of “the earth” being used in place of “the land”; and from a Biblical/Theological point of view (God’s perspective), it lends great confusion to John’s text.  It’s actually “foreign” to the text!

From the beginning of Israel’s existence as a covenanted people of God, “the land” of Israel is set apart in contradistinction to the nations of the earth.  It is separated out from all others as a “paradise” – a new garden of God – a place in which He makes His Presence known in His earthly tabernacle.

And over and over and over, it is “the land”.  In Biblical Theology there is a covenantal continuity that has to be observed.  And coming to the newer Scripture doesn’t change that continuity.  If God’s perspective and language is clear in the older Scripture, then it must be clear in the newer!

Therefore, when we see the same language in the newer that we see in the older, then it must be translated the same.  Otherwise, you get the confusion that is seen here in chapter thirteen that makes our English translations senseless to most.  And the confusion gives opportunity to the errant eschatological formulations that are rampant now in the Church.

Being positive about this, now… we have to preach it and teach it and pray that our Lord will bring a fuller understanding to His Church; and that – NOT the destruction of the world, but the salvation of the world, is His intent.  That is the Faith that’s revealed in Scripture; and that’s the Faith that will enflame the Church once again.

So, these three errors in translating the received text: 1) it’s not John who is standing on the sand of the sea; it is the dragon that is positioned, or located, on the sand of the sea (verse eighteen of chapter twelve); 2) it’s not “the saints” (Christ’s newborns) given to the dragon to suffer war and be overcome; it’s “the holy people” – God’s set-apart people of the covenant that are given over to the devil for final judgment (verse seven); and 3) it’s not “the nations of the earth” that’s the focus of the dragon here in the sign of Yahveh (a senseless translation); it is “the land” of Israel where his holy people are – and where His earthly tabernacle is located.  As the sign of the woman and the sign of the dragon continue here in chapter thirteen, that’s what this is all about.  The earth is not the dragon’s concern; its concern is with the land of God’s covenant people.

The dragon’s full intent for seven hundred years previously has been the annihilation of the covenant people; and this fourth beast that’s called up from the sea is more savage and ferocious that any of the previous three.  Having failed in seven hundred years to annihilate the land of Israel, it raised up a fourth dominion so savage as to finally get the job done!

These three – and there will be others – but the correction of these three variants will give us a good head start toward understanding the “sign of Yahveh” that John sees in the heaven and describes for us. 


Now it ought to be with great joy that our Lord has “joined together” many people from all nations in His new humanity.

By His grace and mercy we Gentiles everywhere in the world have received His salvation.  And we’re no longer members of that fallen humanity from which we’ve been so freely redeemed.

Secondly, our Lord’s instruction to His apostles was that, as the Gospel of Christ’s salvation was preached to the nations, they were to baptize them (the entire households including their children).  Place the “mark of Christ” on them.  It is the outpouring of His Spirit on the nations and the mark of the covenant on our bodies.

Baptize them. And, then, teach them to obey.  Jesus, the Christ of God, is King of the nations, and they are to receive His mark.  And they are to be taught to obey their King.  After all, they have His mark on them.  By the “mark”, and by their obedience, they are identified.

Thirdly, there is a “unity” in the new humanity of Christ.  And Jesus said that all who belong to Him are “in Him”, and He in them, and we in God.  We have His body, and it is a brotherhood in Christ.  We are “His body”.  We are no longer the “body” of Adam.  We no longer belong to that race – the one of Adam….  We are the body of Christ the Savior of humanity, and we are of a different race! 

And all who bear His “mark” have access to His table, where we “remember” Him and receive “nourishment” in His body!  If you’re a baptized member of His covenant, you’re expected to examine yourselves (and your children) as to your obedience.  If you’re out of accord with your brother; or if you’re in rebellion against His Commandments, then you need to get it straight before you come!  And that requires self-examination, confession and repentance.  Otherwise you may be eating and drinking judgment unto yourself.

And, lastly, this is a celebration event.  There is not only to be self-examination and repentance, and restrained eating and drinking, but there is also to be thankfulness, gladness of heart, and comfort in our having been included.

In the sacrament itself, which is the sign and seal of the new covenant, we must be elated that we were in Him in His birth; we were in Him in His humiliation, death and burial; we were in Him in His resurrection.  And now we are in Him at His Seat in the throne-room/tabernacle in the heaven.

Because what HE did – not what we did – we are washed in His blood, and we are nourished in His body.  And it is all given to us freely.