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THE DEVIL’S GREATEST LIAR – Revelation 13:11-18

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on June 8, 2016 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; June 8, 2016 from Revelation 13:11-18

Theme: This passage reveals to us the character and career of the Antichrist’s false prophet.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

In previous studies, we saw that the introduction of the Antichrist into the story was not the introduction of someone new. His coming had been described as early in Scripture as the Old Testament prophecy of Daniel; and was referenced even in the letters of Paul. But now, we’re given a revelation of something that had not been told to us before—the activities of a second “beast”, the Antichrist’s promoter; or, as he is called elsewhere in Scripture, ‘the false prophet’ (see 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).

Our God exists as three Persons in a Triune relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But in the dark times described to us in Revelation, there will be an evil counterfeit of the Godhead—the dragon (who presumes the role of God the Father), the Antichrist (the devil’s false version of Christ), and the false prophet (who apes the role of the Holy Spirit in this evil threesome). It is the destiny of each of these three to be cast forever into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

In this morning’s passage, we’re introduced to the third member of this evil “trio”—the false prophet.

I. HIS ORIGIN (v. 11).

A. Whereas the Antichrist (that is, “the beast”) arose out of the sea (which appears to be a reference to his rising out of the Gentile world), the false prophet is said to rise as “another beast” from out of the earth. This may be meant to communicate that his appearance is at a time of relative stability and ‘false peace’ due to the deceptive activities of the Antichrist; but some have interpreted it to communicate that his appearance occurs from out of the land of Israel. Note that he is described as “another” (that is, literally, “another of the same kind” as that of the Antichrist). He is a different person than the Antichrist; but the evil force and diabolical purposes behind them both is the same.

B. The appearance of the beast was grotesque and horrifying in nature. By contrast, however, the devil’s religious spokesman will appear to be like a lamb with two horns. He will seem harmless in appearance—appearing as a “lamb” in order to suggest that he appears as the peaceful ambassador of a false peace (with the two horns perhaps suggesting something of his authority). But though he looks like a lamb, his speech gives him away, because he talks like a dragon; and speaks the message that the devil gives him to proclaim.


He is said to exercise all the authority of the first beast. The source of his authority is the same as that of the beast; because it’s the devil that gives him that authority. Note that he only exercises this authority in the presence of the Antichrist. The false prophet imitates the role of the Holy Spirit (who shines the spotlight on Christ; see John 16:13-16); and his role in this diabolical threesome, ultimately, is to turn everyone’s attention to the devil’s ‘man’. And so, he does nothing apart from the beast.

III. HIS AIM (v. 12b).

His aim is to cause the whole world to worship the beast—and in this aim he is successful. In verse 14, where we’re told, “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth”, there are some versions of the Greek text have John saying, “my own people”—giving special attention to the deception of the Jewish people. Note that his method is to sway the world through the seeming miracle of the beast’s recovery from a mortal wound by “the sword” (v. 14). Whether through a faked “resurrection”, or something even more diabolical, the world is drawn to the beast through the false prophet’s use of this seemingly-amazing healing.

IV. HIS ACTIVITY (vv. 13-18).

A. He is able to perform wonders (v. 13) that are similar to those of the “two witnesses” (see 11:5-6). By these false signs (v. 14), he deceives those who dwell on the earth (unbelievers) with regard to the true nature of the beast. And by means of this deception, he is able to command the dwellers of the earth to make an image of the beast. The relationship that people have with this image figures very largely in the things that follow in this prophecy (see 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). The false prophet is granted the power to give this image “breath” (that is, to make it appear to come to life and speak); and by this, he is able to cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be put to death (v. 15).

B. He causes all people—from all strata of life—to receive a mark on their right hands or foreheads (v. 16). This causes people to be publicly identified with the Antichrist in their actions and thoughts; and expresses a complete totalitarianism of his reign. He also causes that no one is able to buy or sell without that mark (v. 17); so that those who wont receive it are made destitute. John speaks cautiously about that mark (v. 18). It appears that it can be the name of the beast, or the number of his name. It doesn’t appear that John is given a revelation of what it means. But it would seem that it will be something that can be calculated by those who will see it. The text has variant readings regarding this number. Some have it as 656, 646, or 616. But the best texts have it as 666. It has been observed that if the name of Caesar Nero is written out in Hebrew, and numerical value given to the letters (NERON CAESAR), the sum is 666. If the final N is omitted, the number is 616 (see Bruce M. Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation [Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1993], pp. 76-77). This may speak of a revival of a Nero-like caesar worship. But in the end, a reliable identification of the specifics of this mark remains a mystery to us; because it speaks of a future situation. Because 7 is the number of perfection, and because 777 would speak of the utter perfection of Christ, 666 is perhaps best seen as the number of a counterfeit ‘christ’ who falls short of the perfection he claims.

* * * * * * * * * *

2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 tells us that the coming of the Antichrist will be “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish”; and states clearly that the reason was “because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.” Note that it isn’t just any lie; but “the” lie.

The best defense against the coming delusion that will deceive the whole world then is to make sure we are committed to believing the truth now! May God help us to know, believe, study and proclaim His word faithfully while we can!

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