Beastly Behavior – Revelation 13:2-8 03/14/21

Beastly Behavior – Revelation 13:2-8 03/14/21


This week, as we pick up with Chapter 13, we will notice that it continues the vision of chapter 12.[1] The full text is Revelation 13:1-10, which I leave to you to look up. Now we’re introduced to the instrument Satan will use to persecute the people of God, the Beast. John is drawing on the Old Testament for the background of his visions; here the reference is Daniel 7:7–8. John modifies the imagery of Daniel’s vision[2] to emphasize the extreme fierceness of the Beast he saw.[3]


This power behind the power has manifested itself in each successive world empire.[4] That power is now shown to be at work in the Beast. There are numerous references to spiritual forces at work in the world around us. I don’t want us to become fearful, or to see demons behind every bush. At the same time, we’re told that we are at war, and this war is primarily spiritual in nature.


Satan will have a hey-day as he finally brings all the world into his kingdom of darkness.[5] The Dragon will authorize the Beast’s empire to act with his own power.[6] Through the enabling power of Satan, the Beast and his empire will deny the One true God, and in the process pervert God’s intent for the state.[7] What was supposed to be good and protecting becomes something else entirely. Under the Beast, the purpose and power of the government will be perverted beyond recognition.


Then we come across the (apparently) fatal wound; Revelation 13:3. This is the only detail John provides that has no parallel in Daniel chapter 7.[8] The word used for the beast’s “wound” is (ἐσφαγμένην)[9] from the lexical form (σφάζω).[10] It means “to slay,” “to slaughter,” “to kill,” “to murder”[11] with the implication of violence and mercilessness.[12] Here it is a participle in the perfect tense and passive voice.[13] The participle is functioning attributively to identify the characteristics of the noun, “mortally.”[14] The perfect tense describes the action as completed… with present results.[15] Of course, the passive voice indicates that the subject, the Beast, is receiving the action.[16]


So, (ἐσφαγμένην)[17] is translated “had been slaughtered.” But we have an interesting conjunction (ὡς).[18] This is an “adverbial comparative” indicating a weak relationships between events.[19] Hence, most translations render this, “as if it had been…” But… as if it had been what? As if it had been (θάνατον)[20] slaughtered. So the idea being expressed is that one of the heads of the Beast appeared “as if it had been mortally slaughtered.” This is interesting grammatically, but also significant theologically. Satan does not have the power of life and death, and he is incapable of raising the Beast back to life.[21] Only God is capable of this.


We already know that Satan is a master imitator, and he appears to delight in perverting what God has done. With the Beast appearing to be slain, we have an obvious allusion to the Lamb that was slain,[22] and the phrase is intended to be a parody of the Lamb who was slain in Revelation 5:6.[23] In spite of the intended similarities between the Beast and the Lamb, there is a real difference between the two. The Lamb truly overcame death, he was not simply healed, he was dead for three days and then resurrected in power and glory.[24] That victory has real and has practical implications for Jesus’ followers.


The outcome of this deception is that Satan finally gets what he craves; worship. We find this in Revelation 13:4. The Beast’s recovery from the apparently fatal would results in universal worship and authority. “Worship” originally referred to expressing homage to God because he is worthy of it.[25] It is a way of showing allegiance and praise. In both the Old and New Testaments we find that acceptable worship involves more than ritual, it requires a correct attitude and a corresponding mode of living.[26] Through worship, we ascribe to the glory one we are worshipping.[27] Our entire lives are supposed to reflect that reality.


Even though only God is worthy of worship, Satan desires, even craves, worship. So, since he is not worthy of worship, Satan manufactures a situation that makes him and his servant appear to be worthy. At the same time, we can see that John has a sense of humor. He employs irony as he portrays the people hailing Satan as being worthy of worship.[28] This is happening even as John notes that God has determined the time allotted to Satan and his Beast. God remains in control, not Satan. Therefore, this expression of worship is the height of blasphemy.[29] To worship any government, any secular power, anything other than God, is to participate in satanic worship.[30]


In the midst of all the scary details, what we find is that there is a question we need to answer: who will we worship… and why? The opportunities to be distracted and deceived are manifold. I doubt that any of us would stoop to worship of an idol, but the worship of idols can take on many forms.


Maybe the greatest danger is that we may fall into the same trap that Satan did. We may love ourselves more than we love God. Our text today shows us the natural propensity each of us has to worship something other than God. The conclusion of it all is summed up in Revelation 13:9-10 ~


9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.[31]


Regardless of what may be waiting for us in the future, our calling is really pretty simple. It is to put God first… in everything.

[1] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 124. [2] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 126. [3] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 685. [4] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 686. [5] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 998. [6] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 687. [7] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 687. [8] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 126. [9]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 13:3. [10]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 13:3. [11] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 1125. [12] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 235. [13] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2000), 175. [14] Albert L. Lukaszewski, The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament Glossary (Lexham Press, 2007). [15] William Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1993), 235. [16] Michael S. Heiser and Vincent M. Setterholm, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Lexham Press, 2013; 2013). [17]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 13:3. [18]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 13:3. [19] James Swanson,