Apostasy in the Christian Church
Revelation 13:3-5

13:3, note a
Wounded and healed

   In examining the beast's wound, the topic of our current verse, we learn more about the beast. Seeing the symbols clearly helps us understand the meaning.

    "And I saw one of his [the beast's] heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." (Rev. 13:3)

   One of the seven heads was wounded. Couldn't the beast have gotten along fine with only six? To clarify the picture a bit more, we find that when the wound is mentioned again in verse 12, the beast itself is said to have been wounded and healed v12.

   Since the head is in charge of the body, wouldn't a body with seven heads get mixed signals? We find no evidence of such. I believe that only one head was in charge at a time. The seven could represent phases of operation. The woman of chapter 17 sat on seven hills associated with seven kings re1709f. We will look closely at this passage when we get to it. Now we can understand from it the idea of one head at time. I believe the same dragon is active all the while, but works in the person of his agents.
   Are the dragon heads and horns and crowns the same as those found on the beast? They may be. At least they must play similar roles. It's reasonable to see the number seven as symbolic and that the various heads and horns indicate that the powers move through various leaders as time passes.
   Looking at our verse we can see, after the beast arises, the sequence: (a) wounded, (b) healed, and (c) world follows him. There are two periods of beast power – before and after the wound. We will see how this pattern is laid out as we continue.

How was the beast wounded?
    In the late 1700s France began to rebel against the system that had repressed the people for many years. The church honored the upper-class and supported their system of wealth. The king was also in the system. The Bastille (prison) was stormed and everyone, no doubt including many political prisoners, was freed, the church's property was nationalized. These prepared the way for the Reign of Terror during which the king and queen and many priests were killed. Many priests and skilled people fled the country. The sentiment was to throw off both political and church powers which had controlled the people. The climax of this "deadly wound" was taking the pope prisoner as described below.  It is interesting that France under Clovis had begun the marriage of church and state da1211 and here France was to terminate it. The topic appeared in chapter 11.

World wonders
   Daniel speaks of "wonders" in relationship with this beast (horn power) all the world wondered after da1206. The world is amazed – follows because of miracles 1313a. The whole world wondering has fuller meaning for the end time attempt to enforce a single world religion. Now another question:

Did the beast whose head was fatally wounded and healed die?
   Since the wound was fatal we may assume so but we see no time of lying dead. The focus is on being wounded and becoming healed. If you want something extra to think about consider that Dan. 11:40 may describe the same time.

13:3 b
Let's pull over and look at the map

   Since we will be looking at the whole chapter, this is a good time to take a minute or two to read it through prayerfully in your own Bible. Now that you are back, let's read the next verse in our study.

     "And I saw one of his [the beast's] heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." (Rev. 13:3)

   We saw in chapter 12 how the first six verses were an introduction to the rest of the chapter telling some of what was coming. Here in verse 3 we can see what appears to be more than an event in a chronological listing. So we ask whether we are looking at part of an introduction like the one we saw in chapter 12. The verse does not prove my idea but it gives reason to look more closely. First, as you scan through the chapter or see the paragraph titles inserted by translators, you will notice the two main sections, one about the beast from the sea and another about the beast from the land. Let's sketch out what happens in the chapter:

   1  John watches. Beast rises from the sea and is described.
   2  Connection with the dragon revealed
   3  Wounded, healed, and attracts world
   4  Dragon worshipped; beast worshipped and appears invincible.

More explanation
   5  Given mouth for blasphemy and authority for 42 months
   6  Opened his mouth against God (acting on qualities of verses 5 and 1)
   7  War with saints (authority—makes war—for 42 months)
   8  All the earth worships
   9, 10  Captivity of the captor (the mortal wound again)
   11  . . .

   This structure is followed by the whole book of Revelation.
   Wait. We are starting with the beast from the land in verse 11 but where is he in the five introductory verses? Although, the beast from the earth is not mentioned until verse 11, we can see the part the sea beast plays, in verses 3 and 4, in connection with the earth beast.
   "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. 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?" (Rev. 13:3, 4)

   We have looked at these verses as part of the synopsis for the first part of the chapter. Indeed they do deal with the beast from the sea. But the part following the statement in verse 3 about the wound being healed must also apply to the events associated with the second half of the chapter where the beast from the earth plays his role.
   The question, "who is able to make war with him?" draws our attention back to 12:17, "And the dragon . . . went to make war with the remnant of her seed. . . ." This war I see as the final battle of Armageddon (16:13-16) at the end of the power of the beast from the earth. Although the statements in 13:4 can well apply to both periods, this question points especially to the latter.
   Actually we see this synopsis-plus-explanation structure all through the book. It begins after the prologue (1:1-8) when Christ was seen walking among the candlesticks representing the seven churches (1:9-20). That walk is described in detail in chapters 2 and 3. The breaking of the seals is introduced by the throne room scenes, and the trumpets were introduced in 8:2-6. Looking ahead to the seven last plagues, chapter 15 bears the translators' subtitle, "Prelude to the Bowl Judgments." The plagues are described in chapter 16. To see a chart of this pattern through the book of Revelation, click.
   Although we have barely begun to interpret the symbols of chapter 13, we can see that it is serious. Let's stay close to the one who walked among the candlesticks. I have found that we must be careful not to make fixed scientific rules about interpretation. There are definitely patterns. They give us clues in what to expect. But we must seek understanding from the simple reading as compared to the context and the whole of God's inspired book.

   In verse 11 we see the character of the new beast.  "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." (Rev. 13:11)

   This verse introduces the second of the two parts in the chapter and describes the previously unseen player, the beast from the earth. This new animal has lamb horns and a dragon voice. Strange combination! The speaking like a dragon is not seen immediately in the text which follows. It comes especially through the voice of the image who threatens nonconformers with death and loss of commercial support (verses 15-17). We will look more closely at the verses when we get to them.

   Conclusion: The synopsis in the first verses is indeed expanded in all the rest of the chapter.
   Also see the table showing parallels among chapters 12, 13, and 14.

13: 4
They worshipped the dragon

     "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. 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? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies." (Rev. 13:3-5a)

    Worshipping the beast becomes worshipping the dragon. And who is the dragon? Satan 1204b.

13:5 a
Power granted for 42 months

     "And there was given unto him [the sea beast] a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months." (Rev. 13:5)

   Notice that the beast "was given" a mouth to speak evil, and power "was given" to him. We have previously observed that God is in control even though, as Jeremiah put it, the wicked prosper and those who "deal very treacherously" are happy. (Jer. 12:1)
   I have pointed out connections this chapter has with the prophecy of Daniel about the horn power. Our verse confirms them. Let's turn back to Daniel again.
   "Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth [following Greece], which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise [after Imperial Rome devours the whole earth]: and another shall rise after them [after the ten kings have taken over the empire]; and he shall be diverse from the first [a power different from the ten], and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they [the saints] shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time [3½ times or years = 42 months]." (Dan. 7:23-25) See on da0723-5)

   In our verse in Revelation we saw a mouth and a length of time. In the next verse we see that the continuing was for persecution. These three elements are also seen in the passage in Daniel. First look again at the mouth. We already discussed it but notice here that it speaks in two ways, "great things and blasphemies." I see the two as assuming authority in both the civil and the religious realm.
   "And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months." This time of the first beast would be the time until he is mortally wounded. (The time after the healing of the wound is discussed in the second part of our chapter.) 42 months is 1260 days at 30 days per month or (as in the Daniel passage) 3½ times where a "time" is a year of symbolic months. This is 1260 literal years seeing the day as a symbol for a year in time prophecies. (See explanation below.)
   In chapter 3 we saw the apostate church as Jezebel and discovered that the peak time of Ahab's rebellion with her was 3½ literal years. 0220j

When did this time period of blasphemy and persecution begin and end?
   We see that the beast power begins (rises from the sea) after the horns have crowns indicating the autonomy of the tribes who took over what had been Imperial Rome. The best date for the termination is when the French government took the pope prisoner in 1798.
  "In 1798 French armies under Gen. Louis Alexandre Berthier marched on Rome, which had been declared a republic by Roman revolutionaries in league with the French, and demanded that Pius [VI] renounce his temporal [civil] sovereignty. At his refusal the pope was taken prisoner and held first at Siena and ultimately at Valence, France, where he died." (Infopedia, Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia on CD-ROM. Copyright 1996 by Soft Key)
   1260 years earlier, in AD. 538, the Ostrogoths were defeated in their attempt to take the city of Rome leaving the pope in Rome as the key authority in the Western Roman Empire (See Thomas Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, 2nd ed. Oxford Clrendon Press, 1885-1889; 4:250). 538 was also when the previous pope died. Although he had earlier been deposed, some scholars mark the change at that point. The Ostrogoths were the third nation to be defeated by the Roman political and religious power in a relatively brief time fulfilling the prophecy in Daniel 7:8, 23-25, which declared that three of the ten kingdoms represented as horns on the beast of Rome would be uprooted as the new "little" horn came to power.
    "The collapse of unified civil power together with the loss of the state-supported system of schools and universities gave the Church, the only large collective body that remained, an opportunity to take charge." Alice K. Turner, The History of Hell, p. 92, 1993, 1995.

   Thus from 538 to 1798 we have the 42 symbolic months of papal supremacy including what is known as the Middle (or Dark) Ages, seen by historians as a time of lack of progress from the late 5th century (when Western Rome had decayed) to the 15th century (the rise of the Protestant Reformation). We may realize the spiritual darkness during this time by the persecution and executions of those who first began translating and distributing the Scriptures to the people. The church held that the sacred writings were to be interpreted only by its clergy. The only copies were in Latin and kept in monasteries. This is where Martin Luther discovered truth about justification by faith.
   The reading of verse 14 confirms our idea that the deadly wound of the beast (verse 3) was inflicted by civil government. The beast there is described as having had "the wound by a sword, and did live." The sword represents military force.
    Ancient scribes who copied the Scriptures would count the letters in the source text and compare to the number in their copy. Perhaps the monk pictured was doing this, although we don't see his source. Image from Corel but apparently from a public domain source.

   Fox's Book of Martyrs is quite revealing, although it is not bedtime reading. Chapter 4 is significant. How awesome that the God of heaven not only knew about the great apostasy but also determined centuries earlier the time of its reign. Surely He "changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings." (Dan. 2:21)


Explanation of the day-for-a-year principle
   In exploring the meaning of "day" in symbolic contexts, we realize that it is either symbolic or it represents an ordinary day. For evidence that it is not a literal day, consider the prophecy of Daniel 8. The question is asked in verse 13, "How long shall be the vision"? and the response (verse 14) explains that the sanctuary would be cleansed or vindicated after 2300 "days." The vision begins with the ram which is Medo-Persia (verse 20) standing or in power (verse 3) and continues on through Greece (verse 21) and through the horn power we have discussed. This is certainly more than 2300 literal days which would be somewhat more than 6 years. So, realizing that the "day" must be symbolic, we turn to God's explanation in Num. 14:34. "After the number of the days in which ye searched the land [and refused to enter it], even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years. . . ." This leaves us with the conclusion that the 2300 "days" are 2300 literal years.

13:5 b
Months of beast power clearly marked in history

    "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." (Rev. 13:5)
    "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." (verse 6)

   I have shared my view that the 42 months (or 1260 literal years) ended in 1798 when the pope was forcibly relieved of his temporal sovereignty. It's easy to pick an impressive event in history, attach a Bible verse which seems to say the same thing, and draw conclusions. In the case of the 1260 years, however, the accumulation of evidence becomes compelling. I have more to share here and still more as we continue our journey through the book of Revelation.
   At our last encounter above, I strengthened the picture by mentioning other events associated with the 1260 symbolic days. I explained that Greece and pagan Rome came before the little horn power. The same historical situation can be seen in the beast here in Revelation 13. Remember that we are looking at a strong beast which:
  (a) arose from the sea in the lineage of the lion and the bear,
  (b) prevailed for 42 months,
  (c) was mortally wounded,
  (d) was healed, and
  (e) drew adoration from all the world (13:3, 4).

Light from Daniel
   This picture will clarify as we move through the chapter. A little more history will help us see the rise and fall of the papacy during the 42 symbolic months (1260 years).
   I quoted Daniel 7:23-25 which describes the granting of persecuting power for 3½ "times" which is equivalent to the 1260 years. According to that passage the horn power would "subdue three kings." This was the third time the horn power is mentioned in the chapter. Daniel first saw it in vision (verse 8). Then (verse 20) he asked for an explanation, describing the horn again. The verses we have already seen (23-25) are part of that explanation. Here are the first two descriptions.

   "I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." (Dan. 7:8)
   "And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows." (Dan. 7:20)

   So in one verse we see three of the ten horns "plucked up" "before" the new little one. In the second, "three fell" before him. Then in verse 24, three kings were subdued. In other words, this political change marked the little horn's rise to prominence. We saw the appearance of the horn in Revelation as the rise of the beast from the sea. 1260 years before 1798 was 538. In this year the third horn representing the last Barbarian kingdom to fall, the Ostrogoths, was wiped out.
    It is interesting that the act of destroying these kingdoms was not directly that of the horn power. They were overthrown by the last of the Roman emperors in the interest of the church. The zeal, however, was not really driven by spiritual conviction. Justinian reasoned that the fading empire would hold together if everyone had the same religion.
    Looking carefully at two of the parallel verses, we see that the uprooted horns fell "before" [or "when faced by"] the horn power. So Scripture accurately shows the indirect influence of the church. In verse 24 the horn is said to have subdued them.

   "And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power. . . ." (Dan. 8:24)

A special legal system spanned the time of papal supremacy
   Emperor Justinian developed the Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) also called the Justinian Code. This document (AD. 534) became the model for laws in Europe during the 1260 years. Its importance did not decline until the 17th and 18th centuries during the "age of reason." It is significant to our study because, in addition to the expected rules for human behavior, were provisions for state support of the church. It defined doctrine according to four prior Roman church councils, and it established the authority of a pope as the head of a church hierarchy. The unity of the pontiff's See, or throne, was guaranteed. In other words church decisions were to be enforced by the civil power. (See The Civil Law, Vol. 12, pp. 11-13, 1932, The Central Trust Company).
   In 538 when Rome was freed from the Ostrogoths by Justinian, he had already appointed a pope who was inside the city. With the legal code already in place, the new spiritual leader began to exercise his power. The picture is of Justinian and court. Image from Corel
   The most significant replacement for the Justinian Code was the Code of Napoleon instituted soon after 1798 when the prophetic period ended. (The code was drafted in 1793 and established between 1804 and 1811).
   The uprooting of the three kingdoms occurred as the little horn arose to power. It marked the beginning of the 3½ times (1260 years) according to Daniel da0725. In Revelation, we do not see the three. What we do see is crowns on the sea beast's horns and the dragon giving power, throne and authority to him as he rises re1302. We discussed the pagan religious influence as fulfilling this passage, but considering the Justinian Code, we see also that Imperial Rome which had been essentially pagan passed its authority on to the beast. The dragon revealed himself through both the pagan religion and the pagan political power.
   A final point to keep in mind is that the time of the beast's deadly wound, 1798, came near the end of the French Revolution, a movement of rebellion against authority, including church authority. This event followed the thrust of the Protestant Reformation which had already weakened the influence of the established church.
   For more on the identity of this church see 1315c.

   Seeing how God set bounds for this period of religious dominance gives us courage that He will soon put an end to all the sin and wickedness on our planet. We can trust Him.

13:5 c
Was the little horn little?

   Why is the new horn that sprouted on the head of the beast with iron teeth called a "little horn"? Why, if it did such horrendous things? Let's look at a couple of verses.

   "I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." (Dan. 7:8)
   "And out of one of them [the four winds at the time of divided Greece] came forth a little horn [a horn which started small, NIV], which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host. . . ." (Dan. 8:9-11)

   So the horn started out little but became exceedingly great, or big. As you saw in the passage, the size was an indication of its influence and power. I brought up this topic to show another way in which the prophecies accurately described what would happen. The little horn "came up among" the others. For a while there were eleven horns including this little one which was different from the ten (Dan. 7:7)
   In our last discussion, I said that uprooting of the three horns marked the rise of the new one. You might have remembered that the dominant church was a significant element on the head of Rome before AD 538. It had earlier emerged as a religious element among the political ones, as we see in Dan. 7:7. Its growth spurt came a little later, at the time of the uprooting of the three horns. This marked the beginning of the 1260 days. (We should note that the height of papal political power came in the mid to late Middle Ages.)
   Do we find the same picture in looking at the beast from the sea? Yes but not as clearly. When he came up out of the sea he had the blasphemous name (Rev. 13:1). But there is a progression. He was given a mouth for blasphemy (v.5). Then he opened it (v.6). He was given power to make war with the saints (v.7). We know that he applied it during the 1260 days.
   So the "little" horn didn't stay that way.

A popular explanation for the horn power
   If you look in most commentaries on Daniel, you will find an explanation of the little horn quite different from the one we have discussed here. The horn is thought to represent Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the eighth king in the Seleucid dynasty of what later became Syria. In 168 BC he was influenced by liberal Jews to desecrate the temple. He first set up a statue of the Greek god Zeus. A few days later he offered unclean animals on the altar. He also robbed the temple. If this were all we knew about him and we did not read Daniel 8 carefully, we might wonder if he were the little horn. After all doesn't the chapter say that after 2300 days the sanctuary would be cleansed (v.14) implying a desecration?
The chapter also says, "Therefore the he goat [Greece] waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones [led by the four who had been generals under Alexander] toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land." (Dan. 8:8, 9)
   The Seleucids were, indeed one of the horns. But we have a problem that isn't seen in the English translation. The gender of the pronoun, them, indicates that it stands for one of the winds not one of the horns. The other three directions (from which winds came) in the verse agree with this idea. I have explained that the horn developed in Rome and that the Roman religious power did push in the three other directions confirming its identity as the Roman church. I'll mention just two other problems with Antiochus being the little horn.
First, in Daniel 8, the ram is described as "great" (v.4), the goat that followed was "very great" and the horn that grew from littleness became "exceeding great" (da0809). Compared to Medo-Persia and then Greece, Antiochus was not great at all — certainly not exceedingly great. His father, Antiochus III, is barely a blip on the screen of history, yet he was much more successful than his son in holding back the advance of the Romans. Antiochus IV Ephiphanes was a repeated looser faced with the rising power of the developing Roman Empire. As we have discussed, the power that dominated the Middle Ages does fit the picture.
Just three years after the desecration by Antiochus, the conservative Jews "cleansed" or restored the temple at Jerusalem with the building of a new altar. The problem is that this cleansing did not happen after even half of 2300 literal days and clearly not 2300 years (Dan. 8:14 da0814). God's math has no problem.

Extra note on verse 3
Healing of the wound
    The healing of the wound began immediately after Pope Pius VI was taken prisoner in 1798 when he refused to renounce civil authority. In 1800 a new pope was elected. In 1929 papal civil dominion was restored by recognizing the pope as chief of state over Vatican City, a small area of Rome. Those were small steps. President Raegan later appointed the first US ambassador to the Vatican. No one today can doubt that the popularity of the papacy has grown in recent years. An example of this is seen in the book The Catholicity of the Reformation which ignores the determination to violation individual human rights of following conscience. Untold numbers were tortured and died to defend. On the back, is this summary:
   "As the title of this engaging book suggests, 'catholicity' was the true intent of the Reformation. The Reformers did not set out to create what later came to be known as Protestant Christianity. Theirs was a quest for reformation and renewal in continuity with the 'one holy catholic and apostolic church' of ancient times. The authors of the essays collected here demonstrate this catholicity of the Reformers and stress the importance of recovering the church's catholic tradition today."
   In the book, an appeal is made to see the word "catholic" applied to more than the Roman church. (1996, Eerdmans Publishing, Editors Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson).

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