Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the previous message we considered the great prostitute. Now we shall consider the scarlet beast upon which the prostitute rides, as described in Revelation 17.
We have seen that the rider is the Roman Church and that the beast is the Roman Empire, especially Antichrist, the coming seventh Caesar of the Roman Empire. Revelation 17:8 says, “The beast whom you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go into destruction.” The beast, who is Antichrist, “was” in the person of Caesar Nero before John wrote this book. He “is not” at the time of John’s writing, because Nero had died by that time. He “is about to come up out of the abyss.” This implies that Nero’s spirit is now in the abyss and, as indicated in 13:3, is about to emerge from it to take possession of the body of the slain and resuscitated Antichrist.
The beast is scarlet in color (17:3). Scarlet, a dark red color, is the color of the great dragon (12:3). The fact that the beast and the dragon are the same color indicates that Antichrist will be one with Satan in appearance.
This beast is full of names of blasphemy (17:3). The seven Caesars, symbolized by the seven heads of the beast, called themselves god. This was sheer blasphemy against God. These Caesars assumed deity and called for their people to worship them. Those who did not worship them were persecuted.
Verse 3 also indicates that the beast has seven heads. Verse 9 says, “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.” The city of Rome is built on seven mountains, signified by the seven heads of the beast on which the prostitute sits.
Verse 10, speaking of the seven mountains, which are the seven heads of the beast, says, “And are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.” The seven kings are seven Caesars of the Roman Empire. According to history, the Roman Empire had twelve Caesars; Antichrist will be the thirteenth. Out of the twelve Caesars, only six are included in the prophecy of Revelation. The first five have fallen; that is, they have died unnaturally (Judg. 3:25; 2 Sam. 1:10, 25, 27). They were Julius Caesar. Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, all of whom either were murdered or committed suicide before John wrote this book. The sixth one, Domitian, who was also murdered, was living when this book was written; therefore, it is said of him that he “is.” “The other,” the seventh, who will be Antichrist, had “not yet come” at that time. “When he comes, he must remain a little while” and then will be slain and resuscitated with the spirit of the fifth, Nero, to be the eighth.
Verse 11 says, “And the beast who was, and is not, he also is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goes into destruction.” Antichrist will be the coming seventh Caesar. But he “also is the eighth.” According to 13:3, Antichrist will be slain and resuscitated. In that resuscitation, the spirit of Nero, the fifth Caesar, which comes up out of the abyss, will animate the dead body of the seventh Caesar, Antichrist. This one, composed of the fifth and seventh Caesars, is the eighth. Hence, he “is of the seven.” It is no wonder people will marvel at the sight of such an extraordinary being (v. 8).
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