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What the Bible says about Beast and False Prophet
(From Forerunner Commentary)

2 Thessalonians 2:3-10

Paul wrote II Thessalonians to correct a false impression held by the members of the church in Thessalonica. He did this by telling them what Christ had revealed to him regarding the "gathering together with Christ" of those dead in Christ and those remaining alive when He returned. He opens by foretelling, first of all, that Christ's return will be preceded by a period of apostasy that could include anything from a falling away, a departure from doctrine or teaching, all the way to and including an outright political rebellion.

The second sign would be the appearance of the man of sin. This person has four different names or titles, but all of them are described similarly: the man of sin (II Thessalonians 2:3-10), the little horn (Daniel 7:8), the two-horned lamb who spoke like a dragon (Revelation 13:11-18), and the false prophet (Revelation 19:20). The description in each location is not exactly alike, but each adds to what the other gives. Consider this summary of comparisons.

In each case, the person described appears at the time of the end. This is the one piece of information that every one of them has in common.

In three of the four, his end—his destruction or annihilation—comes at the return of Jesus Christ (Daniel 7:8-9; II Thessalonians 2:3; Revelation 19:20).

In three of the four, it directly states or strongly implies the person speaks with great pompous words (Daniel 7:8-9; II Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:11-14).

In three of the four, it directly states the person does miraculous, supernatural signs (II Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:13-15; Revelation 19:20).

In two of them, the signs are done in the presence of the Beast, showing they are not the same figure (Revelation 13:13-15; 19:20).

In two of them, he deceives and leads people into idolatry (II Thessalonians 2:4,9-10; Revelation 13:12,14).

In two of them, he either makes war against the saints or causes those who would not worship the beast to be put to death (Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:15).

In two of them, he either thinks to change times and law—suggesting the law of God—or he sets himself in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. The implication is that he has the authority to do these things (Daniel 7:25; II Thessalonians 2:4).

In two of them, his period of greatest influence is three and a half years (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5).

All of these scriptures are describing the same person. The Bible shows that this person—the man of sin—has a direct connection to a large political power and has a religious influence. It should be understood that we are dealing with a personage and with prophecies of global significance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 4)

Revelation 13:11

The book of Revelation foretells that at the time of the end, in the last few years of Satan's dominion over the earth, a religious personality will arise and deceive the whole world by means of miraculous signs. This individual is referred to as "another beast" (Revelation 13:11), as well as "the false prophet" (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The False Prophet is given supernatural power to do things like calling fire down from heaven (Revelation 13:13), and the signs he performs, combined with the demonic words he speaks (Revelation 16:13-14), will cause people to give their allegiance to - and even worship - the Beast (Revelation 13:14). This man will wield tremendous religious influence, and inspired by the Dragon, he will successfully convince most of the world to commit idolatry (Revelation 13:12).

The Bible does not reveal the False Prophet's name or even the number of his name, as it does for the Beast. Instead, we will have to recognize him by his fruits - by what he says and does (Matthew 7:15-20). Yet, even this is a tricky proposition. For instance, the False Prophet will be able to call down fire from heaven, and yet Elijah, a true prophet of God, did the same (I Kings 18:36-38). If we see a man calling fire down from heaven, how do we know whether he is true or false?

The end time is prophesied to be full of deceptions (Matthew 24:11), and the elect will not be totally immune to having the wool pulled over their eyes (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). It will take careful evaluation to see through the façade and to recognize Satan's servants for what they are, rather than what they appear to be (II Corinthians 11:14-15).

The details given about the False Prophet are few. However, if we understand the patterns and motivations that the Bible reveals about the class of people called "false prophets," we will be better equipped to recognize the general mold that the end-time False Prophet will fit.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?

Revelation 17:6

When people read this verse, their thoughts immediately turn to the Roman Universal Church of the Dark Ages. Indeed, that organization's record is a sorry one, but Israel's record against the people of God is not any better.

Jesus cries in Luke 13:34, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!" The Bible is replete with examples of the persecutions of God's people.

It is easy to read the histories of modern Israel over the last two hundred years or so and conclude that today's Israelites would never do such a thing. Since they are nominally Christian, one would like to think that they would never stoop to that. However, human nature never changes. All it takes is the right set of circumstances, and persecution will happen again in Israel, even as the book of Acts witnesses threats and murders occurring among Israelites in the first century!

One may perhaps think that persecution occurred then, but it stopped with the end of the first century. Not so! Many are familiar with Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which focuses on numerous persecutions, including martyrdom, that raged against Evangelical groups. Another book, Martyrs Mirror, as large as Strong's Concordance, contains a comprehensive history of 1,600 years of the persecutions, including martyrdom, perpetrated against Anabaptist groups.

"Anabaptist" is a name attached by the world at large to any professing Christian group that opposes infant- and child-baptism because the biblical requirements for baptism are repentance and faith, which no infant or child can meet. One must be an adult of considerable living experience to consider baptism seriously. The most prominent Anabaptist groups in the Western world are the Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites. Many of these and other, smaller groups were quite active even up to the beginning of the twentieth century.

The terms "Evangelical" and "Anabaptist" can and did include the Baptists and, most importantly for us, the church of God. Martyrs Mirror begins with the martyrdoms of the apostles because they were, by definition, Anabaptists. Religious persecutions periodically raged in Holland, France, and England, all Israelitish countries, during the Middle Ages. It waned only after the Protestant Reformation had been underway for a century or two, and the Catholic Counter-Reformation joined it.

Anybody who has read American history should know that many of the original settlers to this country came to escape religious persecution in northwest Europe. The Puritans and Pilgrims are prime examples. They fled England for Holland and then left Holland for America.

To think that the Israelitish people are somehow above perpetrating religious persecution is not historically accurate. The Bible clearly shows it happened before and will happen again. Just eleven years ago, the entire nation witnessed the Branch Davidian massacre in Waco, Texas. This is remarkable to us because the Branch Davidians kept the Sabbath.

Jeremiah 30:7 warns us that a horrific time of trouble lies just around the corner: "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it." This period of trouble is greater than any before it. Persecutions of true Christians will happen again. Revelation 13:15?in this end-time book?confirms that persecutions are just beyond the horizon: "He [the Beast from the earth] was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed." This persecution is instigated by a religious figure, the False Prophet, who will arise and promote his competing religion so vigorously as to kill those who do not submit to his idolatrous, pagan brand.

Revelation 6:9-11 verifies that this persecution will be aimed directly at the true church:

When he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

The blood of the saints is already staining Israel's histories, and more will be added afresh to her descendants' despicable and hypocritical anti-God record.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Eight): God, Israel, and the Bible

Revelation 19:19-20

The Beast reigns but a short time, but in that brief period, he gathers tremendous military power—provided by the ten rulers who use him as a front man for their predatory purposes. He uses this power to conquer everything in his path. He even thinks that he is powerful enough—with the combined armies of all mankind at his back—to take on Jesus Christ when He returns to earth!

What arrogance! And as it turns out, what folly! This is the mind of a man who places all his bets on his abilities as a military genius.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Beast's Militarism

Revelation 20:10

This verse seems to describe the Lake of Fire as a place where God torments people forever. This raises a few questions: 1) If the Beast and False Prophet are mortal men, why are they still alive after the Millennium when Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire? 2) If they are mortals, how can they "be tormented day and night forever and ever" in an inferno that would soon consume them? 3) What kind of God would devise such a "cruel and unusual" punishment?

Before we answer these questions, we must briefly consider whether man has an immortal soul. Our understanding of the Scriptures compels us to maintain that he does not for several reasons:

» Job recognized that man has a spirit (Job 32:8), which Paul shows in I Corinthians 2:11 endows humanity with intellect. This spirit in man comes from God (Zechariah 12:1) and returns to Him when we die (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59). It records our experiences, character, and personality, which God stores until the resurrection of the dead. However, the Bible never describes this spirit as immortal or eternal; in fact, I Corinthians 2:6-16 explains that man needs yet another Spirit, God's, to be complete and discern godly things.

» The Bible flatly asserts that all people die: "It is appointed for men to die once" (Hebrews 9:27). Ezekiel says clearly that souls die: "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; see Romans 6:23). Jesus warns in Matthew 10:28 that God can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

» In death, life and consciousness are gone. "The dead know nothing," says Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5, and he later adds, "There is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (verse 10). In Psalm 146:4, the psalmist writes about a man's death, "His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish" (see Genesis 3:19).

» Scripture also confutes the idea that people go to heaven or hell after death. Peter says to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. . . . For David did not ascend into the heavens" (Acts 2:29, 34). Our Savior confirms this in John 3:13: "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven." The biblical usage of Sheol and Hades simply means "the grave."

» Men cannot have immortality unless God gives it to them. Paul writes, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). In I Corinthians 15:53 he tells the saints, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." At the first resurrection God will give "eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" (Romans 2:7). If we already had immortality, why should we put it on or seek it?

» Only God has immortality. He is, Paul writes to Timothy, ". . . the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality" (I Timothy 6:15-16). John says of the Word, "In Him was life" (John 1:4), meaning as Creator of all things (verse 3), He had life inherent. Jesus affirms this in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Men must go through Him to receive eternal life.

With such overwhelming proof, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul proves false. Man is not immortal, nor does he possess any "spark of God" unless God has given it to him through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). A Christian's hope of life after death rests in the resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15:12-23). Conversely, the wicked only await eternal death as recompense for their evil lives, not eternal life in torment.

To understand Revelation 20:10 correctly, we must put it into its proper chronological context. Once we know when it occurs, much of the confusion about this verse clears up.

Though only twelve verses separate Revelation 19:20 from 20:10, one thousand years pass between their respective events. The Beast and the False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire when Christ returns (Revelation 19:11-21). Soon thereafter, an angel imprisons Satan in the bottomless pit for the thousand years of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3). When the thousand years pass, Satan is released, and he gathers Gog and Magog to fight against the saints (verses 7-9). After God defeats this futile attempt, He casts Satan into the Lake of Fire (verse 10).

Obviously, the flames of the Lake of Fire totally consume the Beast and False Prophet. In no way could they survive a thousand years of burning! The laws of nature simply will not allow it.

The translators of the King James and New King James versions render the final clause of the first sentence as "where the beast and the false prophet are." The present-tense verb "are" is not in the Greek; it is an understood verb. In English grammar, such silent verbs take the same tense as the verb in the main clause of the sentence. The translators ignored this rule, however. The primary verb of the sentence, "was cast" (an aorist verb usually translated as simple past tense), demands that the silent verb should be "were cast" (past tense) to agree with the plural subject, "the beast and the false prophet."

Deceived by the false doctrine of the immortal soul, the translators had to deny nature and break the rules to make this verse fit their understanding! On the other hand, we can confidently assert that our teaching agrees with Scripture, nature, and grammar!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Eternal Torment?


 




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