Revelation 13:16-18 is based on Ezekiel 8 and 9.
The “mark” symbolized the spiritual condition of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The ones with the “mark” were in allegiance with God. However, in Revelation, the mark is reversed. That is to say, the mark was on those who were against God and had allegiance to the “beast.”
John wrote that the number “is the number of a man’s name; and hisnumber is 666.” This tells us that those who received the “mark” were actually in allegiance with a “man,” an actually person of the first century. So, who was he? Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus! Better known as Nero Caesar.
John used a puzzle called gematria in which numbers are used to represent certain letters. John used this puzzle to reveal Nero without actually writing down his name.
Remember, the early churches were being persecuted during this time—not only from the Jews, but also from the Romans. The numerical values of the Hebrew letters in Neron Kesar (Nero Caesar) are:
Nero Caesar fits the gematria code number “666.” Using this code, his name would be rendered as “NRWN QSR.” (NRWN QSR). The number values are:
N = 50
R = 200
W = 6
N = 50
Q = 100
S = 60
R = 200
which, when added together, equals 666. The fact that Nero fits the description of the “beast” is well documented.
According to Suetonius, he murdered his parents, wife, brother, aunt, and many others close to him and of high station in Rome.
He was a torturer, a homosexual rapist, and a sodomite. He even married two young boys and paraded them around as his wives.
One of the boys, whose name was Sporus, was castrated by Nero. He was truly bestial in his character, depravity, and actions. He devised a kind of game: covered with the skin of some wild animal, he was let loose from a cage and attacked the private parts of men and women, who were bound at stakes.
He also initiated the war against the Jews which led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD..
Nero’s persecution, which was initiated in A.D.64, was the first ever Roman assault on Christianity. Roman historian Tacitus (A.D. 56-117) spoke of Nero’s “cruel nature” that “put to death so many innocent men.”
He records the scene in Rome when the persecution of Christians broke out: “And their death was aggravated with mockeries, insomuch that, wrapped in the hides of wild beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or fastened to crosses to be set on fire, that when the darkness fell they might be burned to illuminate the night.” Christians were crucified, beheaded, burnt alive, and used as torches to light the palace gardens.
Historically, Nero is the one that persecuted Christians beyond all comparison. St. John’s banishment to Patmos (where he wrote the book of Revelation) was itself a result of the great persecution of Nero.
The apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. The apostle Peter, who was crucified upside down, was another victim of Nero, .
As Church father Eusebius notes: “Nero was the first of the emperors who showed himself an enemy of the divine religion.” Sulpicius Severus concurs: “He first attempted to abolish the name of Christian.” In his Annals, Roman historian Tacitus points to those who were persecuted as “those who . . . were vulgarly called Christians.”
Roman historian Suetonius concurs, for in a list of the few “positive” contributions of Nero as emperor, he includes the fact that Nero persecuted Christians: “During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down, and no fewer new laws were made:. . . . Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.”
Noted church historian J. L. von Mosheim wrote of Nero’s persecution: “Foremost in the rank of those emperors, on whom the church looks back with horror as her persecutors, stands Nero, a prince whose conduct towards the Christians admits of no palliation, but was to the last degree unprincipled and inhuman.
The dreadful persecution which took place by order of this tyrant, commenced at Rome about the middle of November, in the year of our Lord 64. . . . This dreadful persecution ceased but with the death of Nero. The empire, it is well known, was not delivered from the tyranny of this monster until the year 68, when he put an end to his own life.” (L. von Mosheim, Historical Commentaries, I:138,139).
His bestial cruelty is evidenced in the writings of the Roman historian Suetonius (A.D. 70-160), who speaks of Nero’s “cruelty of disposition” evidencing itself at an early age.
He documents Nero’s evil and states: “neither discrimination or moderation [were employed] in putting to death whosoever he pleased on any pretext whatever.” Suetonius notes that Nero “compelled four hundred senators and six hundred Roman knights, some of whom were well to do and of unblemished reputation, to fight in the arena.
Revelation 17:10 gives us a way for us to identify him.
They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while (Revelation 17:10).
This passage, gives us the line of rulers in Rome. It makes us the job by telling us exactly how many rulers had already come, which one was currently in power, and that the next one would only last a short while.
Please see below and see how it perfectly fits with Nero and the Roman Empire of the first century. The rule of the first seven Roman Emperor’s are as follows:
“Five have fallen…”
1. Julius Caesar (49-44 BC)
2. Augustus (27 BC-AD 14)
3. Tiberius (AD 14-37)
4. Caligula (AD 37-41)
5. Claudius (AD 41-54)\
6. Nero (AD 54-68)
“the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.”
7. Galba (June AD 68-January AD 69, a six month ruler-ship)
Of the first seven kings of the Roman Empire, five had come (Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius), one was now in power (Nero), and one had not yet come (Galba), but would only remain a little time (six months).
The vast majority throughout Church history have understood that the beast in Revelation 17 is a reference to Nero.
…And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had…seven heads….One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.
The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” (Revelation 13:1-4).
Based on what we have seen from Revelation 17 that Nero fits the timeline as the sixth of the seven heads and that Galba is the one to come that shall only remain a little while. It is well accepted by historians and scholars that Rome was in a way wounded and faltering as an empire because of Nero.
It is written in records that Nero was a psychopath as he burned down one third of Rome and put the blame on the Christians and persecuted them brutally, but also, when Nero killed himself (in AD 68), the political climate of Rome changed dramatically and was unstable temporarily.
One of the major changes
was that Nero was officially the last of the Julio-Claudian line of emperors; thus the line ended, and it would have seemed, symbolically, as if the head of the empire had been wounded to death.
Nero’s sudden death caused an event that has been historically called the “Year of the Four Emperors.” Because of tumult caused by his suicide, three short-lived emperors followed Nero.
Many thought that the Roman Empire would not survive the transition.
Here is the timeline of AD 69, the “Year of the Four Emperors”:
Nero (AD 54-68)
Galba (AD 68-69)
Otho (AD 69)
Vitellius (AD 69)
Vespasian (AD 69-80)
In what appeared to be a miraculous turn around, the Empire was revived under Vespasian and Titus.
When they came into power, they established the Flavian dynasty of Caesars. Instead of the beast dying, it resurrected under Vespasian, and he ruled for a solid ten years.
Nero began his reign as emperor in A.D. 54. His imperial persecution of the Christian community was launched in A.D. 64, the same year as the famous fire (which burned 1/3 of Rome) that many believe was set by Nero himself.
It is often assumed that the persecution of Christians, whom Nero blamed for the fire, was a diversionary tactic to shift blame for his own actions to others.
Nero committed suicide in A.D. 68, when he was but 31 years of age.
Many ancient writers mention the bestial character of Nero, and Gentry summarizes these references:
Tacitus…spoke of Nero’s “cruel nature” that “put to death so many innocent men.” Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder…described Nero as “the destroyer of the human race” and “the poison of the world.”
Roman satirist Juvenal…speaks of “Nero’s cruel and bloody tyranny.” …Apollonius of Tyana…specifically mentions that Nero was called a “beast” : “In my travels, which have been wider than ever man yet accomplished, I have seen many many wild beasts of Arabia and India; but this beast, that is commonly called a Tyrant, I know not how many heads it has, nor if it be crooked of claw, and armed with horrible fangs…And of wild beasts you cannot say that they were ever known to eat their own mother, but Nero has gorged himself on this diet.”
The beast is not a coming antichrist or the man of lawlessness. The beast was Nero and the Roman Empire.
It is amazing how we take the biblical events and make them fit our own ideas and it has shaped our ideas of our to live life based on ignorant and unfounded theories that are being down through generations.
So if you have read my earlier article about the antichrist which can be found here.
You would realize that John is speaking about 2 different persons or at least different people who play differing roles.