The End of The Beast and The False Prophet
19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and he who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
12 His eyes [were] like a flame of fire and on his head were many crowns, and he had a name written which no man knew but himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called: The Word of God.
14 And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, fine and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should strike the nations; and he shall rule over them with a rod of iron; and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he has on his vesture and on his thigh, a name written; KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying, to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God.
18 That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all [men both] bond and free, both small and great,
19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him who sat on the horse and against his army.
This whole passage is to be harmonized with Ezekiel 39 and Revelation 16:13-16 and Rev. 20:8,9. It marks the victory at the end of Armageddon.
20 And the beast was taken and the false prophet who wrought miracles [Gr. signs] before him, with which he [the beast] deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
He deceived: Much confusion results from faulty interpretation of this passage caused by mistakenly making the false prophet the subject of the verb deceived. See below for a fuller explanation.
21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him who sat on the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth; and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
The Total Destruction of the Enemy in Armageddon
The description of the victory over the beast and false prophet is the same imagery as the victory feast described in Ezek. 39:17 ff. There the birds are invited to the sacrifice in the same terms as above in verses 17 – 21; with chariots added to the menu.
This clearly marks these verses as synchronizing with the victory over the enemies of God described in Ezek. 39, and also in Rev. 16:13-16 and Rev. 20:8. Since these are future events, but not too far in the future, the event must clear the prophecy. But certain limits on the interpretation can be made clear as we describe in the next paragraph.
The events pictured in Rev. 18 and the first part of Rev. 19 just precede these synchronized events. Those are the fall of Babylon in Rev. 18, and the victory procession in Rev. 19:1-10 leading to this feast and final destruction of the beast and the false prophet.
These passages should be read together. Whatever the fulfillment is to be the participants are determined by the Chronology. Since the Imperial Roman Empire (the first beast of Chapter 13 and 17 with seven heads and ten horns) as well as the Image of the first beast (the Holy Roman Empire) are now in the past and these predicted events are accepted as future and unfulfilled prophecies then it is clear that they are eliminated as either one representing the “beast” or the “False Prophet” in this passage. The Chronology of the book will not allow such faulty identification.
The events here are thought, by some, to be predicting actual physical events. The language does not lend itself to a literal fulfillment. In Ezek. 39:6 and Rev. 20:9, the defeat of the enemies is caused by fire coming down from heaven. Here it is “the sword of his mouth” that kills the enemies. These images predict the overthrow of the beast and the false prophet, but not the dragon, at the end of Armageddon.
As shown in the section on Ezek. 38 and 39, the period is described as having associated wars and physical destruction as adjuncts of the main events, but the main events are spiritual, not physical. They are: the marriage of the Lamb, the saints taking the kingdom, the true conversion of Israel, the conversion of the heathen, and the destruction of all enemies by fire of God and the sword of his mouth. What a victorious period this is! These symbols, in language of tremendous hyperbole, picture coming events in history, not the end of the world.
The Problem Passage
In verse 20 above, the beast and false prophet have been previously identified as:
(1) [the beast] Roman power described in Rev. 13 in more than one form. The Imperial form, though wounded to death, found its form adopted by the second beast and it was allowed to continue 1260 years in the second beast. (See Rev. 13:5) The Papacy did adopt the Imperial form of government, and it did survive in strength for the time indicated. That time is now past and the events of this chapter have not been fully completed as yet.
The first beast existed only, after its wound, in the second beast. It is he, the lamb-like beast, who causes fire to come down from heaven in the sight of men and deceives them by the miracles he can do, as described in Rev. 13:13,14. In Rev. 13 it is the beast, not the false prophet who is a different and separate entity, who performs the miracles and deceives them who have the mark of the beast. Here is the passage:
13:12 And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast whose deadly wound is healed. 13:13 And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.
13:14 And deceives them that dwell on the earth, [by means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to those who dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, who had the wound by a sword and did live.
(2) The false prophet has previously been identified as Mohammedanism. If one were to look at world history he would see many false prophets that have arisen. However, only one deserves the title THE false prophet. The religion of Mohammed has darkened the minds of men for centuries. The message of Jesus is either forbidden or greatly inhibited in the lands associated with The Prophet. Those lands from Gibraltar to the Indus have been held under the cloud of Islam for over 1300 years.
Mohammedanism is the false prophet pictured here. The prediction therefore foretells the destruction of the beast, that is, the Papacy, and the false prophet, that is, Islam. It is implied then that the dark cloud of Islam is to be removed from the lands just described where it has obscured the true light for 1300 years.
The English text in this passage correctly makes the false prophet the one performing the miracles in front of the beast. But then, erroneously, the false prophet is also seen by some in the English text as the “one deceiving” those with the mark of the beast.
That is a false assumption. That has caused some expositors to identify the second beast of chapter thirteen and the false prophet as one and the same. The chronology of the book will not allow that comparison since it forces the identity of the beast in this passage to be the same as the first beast of Chapter 13 and that beast did not survive to our time much less to “end time.”.
Others because of the complexity and difficulty declined to comment on the passage and may have avoided it if they predict the decline of Islam as a parallel to the false prophet.
The way the passage reads in the KJV can present an apparent contradiction to the position taken in this book. But remarkably it is the only passage that contains an apparent contradiction to the system and fulfillments proposed! But that contradiction is easily explained.
It is not correct to accept the false prophet and the second beast of Chapter 13 as one and the same and it creates many more contradictions than could be acceptable. The chronology of the book is completely violated if one insists that 1st beast (or his image) of Revelation 13 is the same as the beast of this passage and that the False Prophet is the same as the second beast of chapter 13. It simply can not be harmonized with the rest of the chronology of the book.
If therefore the First Beast of Revelation 13 and his Image are eliminated from possible inclusion in the figures of this passage it leaves only the second lamb-like beast in existence at the time of the fulfillment to answer to the figure of the beast in this passage.
This being the case and in this passage the Beast and the False Prophet are pictured as different entities, then the figure of the False Prophet can not represent the lamb-like beast. If the false prophet is not Mohammedanism then there is no allusion to modern day Islam in these symbols; and those who saw resurgent Islam, before it happened, in this period we live in from one hundred fifty years ago, didn’t! This passage can be harmonized with the rest of the interpretations offered, as we will show.
As we have already shown above it is the lamb-like beast in Rev. 13 who performs miracles. This can be harmonized with the meaning of verse 20 above. That is, that the beast who deceives people is taken and with him the false prophet who performs the signs; it does not say miracles. But, even if both entities did the same action at some time, that does not make them the same entity. Because the lamb-like beast of chapter 13 performed miraculous signs and the false prophet also performed miraculous signs that does not make them the same person. It just means that the followers of both are victims of similar false religious activity.
Albert Barnes partially supports this position by saying the false prophet was “united together with the beast in deceiving the nations of the earth.” Barnes makes one of those uncannily correct applications of the prophecies at this place when he predicts, in 1851, the next events following the decline of the Turkish Empire:
“The same assembling of hostile forces as described in ch. xvi.13,14 … There can be no doubt that the writer in these passages [ch. 19 above] designed to refer to the same events — the still future scenes when the Roman, the Pagan, and the Mohammedan powers shall be aroused to make common cause against true religion.”
There also can be little doubt that Barnes correctly and boldly predicted the next events of history in his time. For the greatest ideological attack on religious and political freedom, led by the forces Barnes predicted has occupied and still occupies the period following the first world war to the present.
The translation of the New King James version supports Barnes’ view as well.
That is, that the false prophet is associated with the beast and he performs the miracles before him. There the deceiving is the main verb and performing signs is parenthetical and the main action should be be referred to the primary subject, the beast. The language in Greek will not support the beast “performing signs.”. The word beast is neuter. The word which is translated in KJV and ASV versions “wrought” and in the NIV “performed” is a masculine aorist participle and cannot modify the neuter subject. The word “wrought” is a masculine verbal adjective and there is no doubt in the text that it modifies false prophet which is also a masculine noun. The text says the false prophet performed the signs by which “He” the beast, deceived.
The Important Conclusion
The “beast” is the subject of the verb “He deceived.”
While the language in the original Greek agrees with the false prophet performing the signs, that construction is a secondary subject and verb in a complex sentence that has two subjects in it. I believe this sentence to be a Hebraism: (See the discussion of this Hebrew Idiom in Isa. 48:16.) Although the grammar in Greek may also contain the same kind of complexity it is more often found in Hebrew construction.
That is that the action of the main verb is ascribed to the primary subject, even though it is at a distance in the sentence. It is a given premise that the writer of the book of Revelation is John the apostle and his first language is Aramaic a sister language with almost identical grammar to Hebrew. The structure of this sentence matches the structure of complex Hebrew sentences which often have dual subjects and a singular verb that is ascribed to the primary subject.
The thing to be decided here is which of the two subjects is the main subject of the sentence?
Is Beast or False Prophet the main subject of this sentence? It should be obvious that Beast is the main subject of the sentence and that the actions of the False Prophet are dependent on the primary subject, “Beast.” There is only one subject of the verb “he deceived” in this sentence. It should be obvious to the casual or careful reader that the main subject of the sentence is “Beast.” This means that the beast is the subject of the verb “he deceived.”
The false prophet performs the miracles? The word “miracle” is used to refute our claim that the false prophet refers to the religion of Mohammed, because neither he nor his followers were known for spreading his religion through miracles, but through the sword. Thus it is said that the figure does not fit him. However the word miracle does not appear in the text. It is rather the word “semeia” or “signs” which could clearly, easily refer to Mohammed.
As for the words “by which he deceived them who had the mark of the beast,” these, as we have just shown, refer grammatically to the beast; they cannot refer to the false prophet. The beast is the subject of “he deceived.” That would also find ample support historically, i.e. that the Papacy used the advance of Islam for centuries to maintain the need for gathering armies to fight the Crusades.
After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Papacy continued using the Islam of the Turks, for at least 200 years more, as his raison d’etre, the supporting reason, for the need to maintain his earthly lands and armies or “temporality” as the Papists style it. The Papacy maintained power by this “need” to defend the territories of the nations allied with the Roman See against the Turks or Mohammedans.*
* Martin Luther maintained that it was a sin for armies to be gathered by the Pope, since the Pope claimed to be a Christian leader. Luther felt it was the duty of the Emperor to defend Europe against invaders but not of the church. Luther felt that the Pope was using the very real Turkish threat for his own political ends and that his armies were ineffective in bringing about the result desired, i.e. turning back the Turkish advance. See his very strong arguments in, On War Against the Turks, 1529, found in most collections of his writings. One of these is Selected Writings of Martin Luther in Four Volumes; Pub. by Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1967; Vol. 4, pgs. 9 – 53.
The beast and the false prophet are clearly two separate entities in this passage. Everywhere else in Revelation the beast is associated with symbols that indicate Rome in one form or another, especially in chapters 13 and 17. This is an “end time” passage.
The Imperial Rome has long since passed from the earth; The Holy Roman Empire is also gone long before the events that are predicted here. What other form of Rome can be indicated by the beast except the Antichrist Rome, that is, the Papacy? Thus only the lamb-like beast is left and must correspond to the beast in this chapter.
Therefore the beast and the false prophet cannot be one and the same but represent the Papacy and resurgent Islam, which according to this passage will both be in the bottomless pit before the end of historical time.
Therefore there will be a historical season before the second coming of Christ in which the Vatican City will no longer be a political power and militant Islam will have passed away. I personally believe that young people alive today will live in such a period before the second coming. As long as the Papacy still has political power and Militant Islam forbids the preaching of the Gospel in Islamic lands, do not look for the second coming of Christ. He will overcome all of his enemies in historical time.
* It is interestring to note that Martin Luther believed this passage would be fulfilled when both the papacy and the Turks (Islam) together would be cast into Hell fire. In a Table Talk Luther says, “It is my firm belief that the angels are getting ready, putting on their armor and girding their swords about them, for the last day is already breaking, and the angels are preparing for the battle, when they will overthrow the Turks (Islam) and hurl them along with the pope to the bottom of hell.