PMT 2014-009 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In Revelation 13:1–2 we are introduced to the beast from the sea who will play a prominent role in Revelation from this point forward: “I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.”
We must understand the “first beast” in Rev 13 both generically and individually. This is not unusual in Scripture: Christ’s body is generic (the church) and specific (Jesus); Adam is generic (man) and specific (Adam). Generically the “beast” is Rome; individually it is Nero Caesar, the head of the Roman Empire of the day.
The rationale for the generic identity is as follows. The book’s time frame supports the identification (see earlier article; cp. Rev 1:1, 3). The beast rises from the sea, which suggests the Italian peninsula where Rome is located and when considered from the vantage of either Patmos or Israel (across the Mediterranean Sea). It has “seven heads” (Rev 13:1; 17:3) that are “seven mountains” (Rev 17:8, 9); Rome is famous for its “Seven Hills.” The beast’s number is an exercise in Hebrew gematria: converting letters into numbers. An ancient Hebrew spelling of Nero Caesar perfectly fits the value: “Nrwn Qsr” (Rev 13:18): n  r  w  n  q  s  r .
“The Beast of Revelation: Identified” (DVD by Ken Gentry)
A biblical and historical argument for Nero being the beast of Revelation.
The beast’s evil and blasphemous character suggests Nero specifically, and the emperors generically: Since Julius Caesar the emperors were often considered divine. Roman historian Dio Cassius reports on Nero’s return to Rome from Greece: “The people cried out: ‘Thou August, August! To Nero, the Hercules! To Nero, the Apollo! The Eternal One! Thou August! Sacred voice! Happy those who hear thee!’” (Dio, Roman History 62:20:5) In addition, Nero was the first emperor to persecute Christianity (Rev 13:7), and his persecution prevails as a virtual state of siege for around forty-two months, as prophesied in Rev 13:5 (Nov. AD 64 to June AD 68, Rev 13:5).
The healing of the beast’s deadly wound pictures Rome’s revival after the devastating Roman Civil Wars of AD 68–69, which are caused by Nero’s suicide with his own sword. Roman historian Tacitus reports on the Roman Civil Wars: “This was the condition of the Roman state when Servius Galba . . . entered upon the year that was to be for Galba his last and for the state almost the end” (Histories 1:2, 11)
Roman historian Suetonius writes regarding the outcome of the Civil Wars two years later: “The empire, which for a long time had been unsettled and, as it were, drifting through the usurpation and violent death of three emperors, was at last taken in and given stability by the Flavian family” (Vespasian 1:1). Josephus, the Jewish court historian to the Flavians, agrees: “So upon this confirmation of Vespasian’s entire government, which was now settled, and upon the unexpected deliverance of the public affairs of the Romans from ruin” (Josephus, J.W. 4:11:5).
The “second beast” is the first beast’s minion (Rev 13:11–12). He represents apostate Judaism as concentrated in its religious leadership in its high priestly aristocracy: (1) He arises from “the land” (tes ges), i.e., from within Israel. (2) He appears as a “lamb” (Rev 13:11), reminding us of temple worship in that “the lamb is the dominant sacrificial victim” (Interpreters’ Dictionary of the Bible, 3:58). (3) He “spoke as a dragon,” i.e., as Satan (13:11; 12:3), which reflects John and Jesus’ estimation of what Israel has become (Rev 2:9; 3:9; Jn 8:44). (4) He is also the “false prophet” (Rev 19:20), which reminds us of Israel’s long line of prophets.
“Postmillennialism and Preterism” (4 CDs)
by Ken Gentry
Sacramento eschatology conference lectures on postmillennialism, the beast, the resurrection, and the great tribulation