v11 Then I saw another *beast, which came out of the earth. It had two *horns like the *horns of a *lamb. But it talked like a *dragon. v12 This *beast used all the authority of the first *beast on its behalf. It forced the world and all who live there to *worship the first *beast. The first *beast had the injury, which should have killed it. But that injury had healed. v13 The second *beast did great acts of power. It even made fire come down out of heaven to earth. And everyone saw the fire. v14 This *beast did acts of power on behalf of the first *beast. By these acts, it caused the people who lived on earth to believe lies. It told them to make an image of the first *beast. The first *beast lived again after the sword struck it. v15 The second *beast received power to make the image of the first *beast come to life. The image of the *beast could even talk. It ordered the death of anyone who did not *worship the image. v16 The second *beast ordered that all people must receive a mark. This mark will be on their hands or on the front of their heads. Everyone must have the mark: unimportant people and famous people; rich and poor people; free people and slaves. v17 Only those who had this mark could trade. The mark is the name of the first *beast or the number of that name.
v18 One must be wise in order to understand this. An intelligent person should count the number of the *beast. It is the number of a man and his number is 666.
Verse 11 The *beast who came out of the earth was the false *prophet. He had two *horns like a *lamb. He gave the impression that he was gentle like a *lamb. When he spoke, he was like a *dragon. He was clever with lies. He could easily persuade people to do what he wanted them to do.
Jesus warned about false *prophets. He said, ‘They seem as gentle as sheep when they come to you. But inside they behave like wild animals.’ (Matthew 7:15).
The evil team of three was complete: the *dragon (*Satan), the *beast (*Antichrist) and the false *prophet. Christ received his power from the Father (Matthew 11:27). So, *Antichrist received his power from the *dragon. The Holy Spirit is the agent on behalf of Christ (John 16:14). So, the false *prophet is the agent for *Antichrist (Revelation 13:12).
Verse 12 The *dragon (*Satan) gave power to the first *beast (*Antichrist). The second *beast (the false *prophet) has power from the first one. He does what the *Antichrist desires. He was like a *prophet who served his god.
His purpose was to make all the people *worship the *Antichrist. The *Antichrist had a bad injury and seemed to have died. But he lived again.
Verse 13 The false *prophet did all kinds of magic acts. He even made fire come down out of the skies. All the people could see the fire. These deeds caused people to believe the false *prophet.
Verse 14 He used the powers that he had for the benefit of the *Antichrist. He did many great deeds that astonished the people. They believed the lies of the false *prophet.
Those who trusted God did not believe the false *prophet. They knew that the false *prophet’s words were lies.
The false *prophet told the people to make an image of *Antichrist. And the people obeyed him. They made an image of the first *beast. This was the *beast that had a sword injury. He should have died. But he lived again.
Verse 15 The false *prophet was able to make the image of *Antichrist to come alive. This was powerful magic. But the power came from *Satan. And the image could even speak. It demanded that all people should *worship it. It ordered the death of any person who refused to *worship the *beast.
This is all part of the struggle between *Antichrist and Christ, between *Satan and God.
Verses 16-17 The false *prophet made an order that all people must accept a mark. Each person must have the mark either on the right hand or on the front of the head. It did not matter who they were. Every person must have the mark.
The mark was the name of *Antichrist or the number of that name. Sometimes people used numbers instead of letters for a name. This method was called ‘gematria’. We do not know how they calculated a name. A number was equal to the name of *Antichrist. That number was the mark.
Any people who did not have that mark could not trade. They could not buy from the shops. They could not sell anything. Normal life would not be possible for them.
The only people who refused to have the mark were those who trusted God. They would rather die than have the mark of *Antichrist. They remained loyal to Christ even if they had to die for it.
The mark showed that the person trusted *Antichrist rather than Christ.
Verse 18 The number of the name of the person is 666. This seems to be a puzzle. The number has a meaning. And that meaning is the name of the *beast. That *beast means the man called *Antichrist. An intelligent person should calculate what his real name is. He should work out the name from the number.
Perhaps one day an intelligent person will be able to find the answer. We do not yet know who the *Antichrist will be.
In the first letter of John, we read this. ‘You have heard that the *Antichrist is coming. Even now many *antichrists have come’ (1 John 2:18). Before the *Antichrist comes, there will be many *antichrists. Some had already come at the time when John was writing. There have been many *antichrists since then. Some are working in the world today. They are people who oppose Christ. They try to destroy all that Christ has done. They are the enemies of the *church and of Christians. The *antichrists have the same evil purpose as we will see in the *Antichrist. They hate the *Lord Jesus Christ. They hate all those who belong to him.