And I saw one of his heads as though it had been smitten unto death; and his death-stroke was healed:
and the whole earth wondered after the beast; and they worshipped the dragon, because he gave his authority unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying,
Who is like unto the beast?
and who is able to war with him? and there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and there was given to him authority to continue forty and two months.Revelation 13:3-5 ASV
In order to interpret this chapter, the question of the healed “death-stroke” (Revelation 13:3) is crucial.
The assassination of Julius Caesar.
The illness of Caligula.
The prohibition of paganism by Theodosius.
The coming of Christ.
The Christianizing of the Roman Empire.
The rebellion of Galba, Otho and Vitellius.
The battle of Waterloo. The forerunner of the magazine Christian Herald published a book on this in 1860!
The actual death of the Antichrist and his subsequent resurrection from the dead (!) near the end of time!
Nero himself, the suicide who was raised from the dead (!) in a myth!
In the first place, no such myth ever existed, except in the minds of imaginative scholars.
Zahn was certain that when Revelation was written, no such superstition was in existence even if Revelation was written in 95 A.D.!
Furthermore, such an interpretation is wholly incompatible with any believing acceptance of the book as a genuine prophecy; for the things foretold, if this interpretation is accepted, did not take place.
The persecuting policy of Nero revived by Domitian.
What is the actual meaning of the mortal wound that did not kill?
But that death-stroke was healed. It did not mean the end of Roman persecutions of God’s people. Where the first beast left off, the second took over.
The old pagan empire was revived in a Christianized form, “The Holy Roman Empire”; and all of the arrogance, hatred, and persecution of the first beast was restored.
The fatal wound was healed. The sixth head of the sea-beast (Rome) was fatally wounded; but the worldwide government continued as a religious power.
Without this religious phenomenon, Roman authority would have perished as totally as did that of Nineveh and Tyre, or Assyria and Babylon.
One thing should be particularly noted: there has been no other worldwide authority in the history of the world which might logically be called a seventh head of the sea-beast.
This brings us to consider the essentially Christian nature of this second beast, the pseudo-Christian nature of it.
This beast was no mere committee set up in the Asia Minor to enforce emperor worship, nor a proconsul sent out every year for the same purpose, nor a provincial council made up of local pagan priests; but, It was an institution devoted to the empire on its religious side.
Its operations bore a genuine resemblance to Christianity, as attested by the lamb’s horns that crowned it.
In John’s day, of course, the pagan priesthood were a manifestation of this beast; but several things forbid our accepting the priests of paganism as the principal identity.
In the first place, where were their “lamb’s horns,” their outward resemblance of true Christianity?
Furthermore, the pagan priesthood perished before the sixth head (Rome) was mortally wounded in 476 A.D.
The whole structure of paganism had already collapsed before Rome received the death-stroke, the Edict of Theodosius having previously closed all pagan temples throughout the empire in 389 A.D.
These historical facts are clearly foreshadowed in Revelation 13. This “second beast,” the land-beast, is not “The Antichrist,” nor “the lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2)
But that worldwide, religious ally of wicked human government used repeatedly to persecute and destroy God’s people, as, for example, in the Spanish Inquisition.