Friday, 28 May 2021
The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition. Revelation 17:11
The angel has been describing the seven heads on which the woman sits. In this, he noted that they are seven mountains, but also seven kings. After noting this, he said, “There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time” (17:10). Now, words that – at first – seem most confusing come forth. He says, “The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth.”
The gender of the terms is unusual. The words, “and the beast,” are neuter. The words, “that was is not, is himself also the eighth,” are masculine. The masculine shows that the “eighth” refers to the kings noted in verse 10. Further, there is no article before the word “eighth.” Therefore, this is not “an eighth” as if in a series of one after another in relation to the seven kings previously noted. It reads, “he also is eighth.”
This probably means that the beast is formed by, and consists of, what has been spoken about concerning the seven kings. To understand, Charles Ellicott goes to one of the parables of Jesus –
“As an illustration, we may recall her whom the seven brothers had as wife; last of all the woman, the eighth, which was of the seven, died also.”
The succeeding kings all fell, but there is one left from the beast itself. As it says, “and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.” The Greek uses the word ek, out of. The beast is “out of the seven.” Young’s translates the verse more appropriately –
“and the beast that was, and is not, he also is eighth, and out of the seven he is, and to destruction he doth go away.” YLT
This eighth, out of the seven, is the antichrist or “the son of perdition” noted in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The same word of him used by Paul there is used here, translated as “destruction.” Regardless of the identification of the first seven kings, this “eighth” is certainly referring to him. As was previously seen, one possible explanation of the beast is the progression of empires that have afflicted Israel – Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Because Rome faded off the scene but will come back in the future as we know from Daniel 9, this is a total of seven empires. The eighth beast is out of the same entity and specifically the antichrist who rules the final world power.
Life application: The term “perdition” is used of Judas who betrayed Jesus. As noted above, it also is used of the coming antichrist in 2 Thessalonians. The antichrist will be a partner to the false prophet. It is he who is set for destruction because of how he has conducted his life affairs. Like Judas, both led their lives in opposition to the will of God in Christ.
Although the spirit of the antichrist has been active in the world throughout the church age (1 John 2:18), the position will finally be realized in this person who is filled with the power of Satan. He will lead the world into chaos and ruin during the tribulation period, but his end is foretold in Chapter 19. Until that time, the mystery of lawlessness and rebellion against God will only increase as the world turns away from the truth of the message of Jesus Christ in preparation for the arrival of this person.
The times are progressing towards their fulfillment, and as they march on, faithful believers need to stand fast on the gospel message and not waiver in their moral convictions. But more, if you are a faithful believer, you should also be a faithful proclaimer. Those around you are already condemned (John 3:18). What they need is for you to speak. They need to hear about JESUS.
Lord Jesus, You have shown us what is right and good. Help each of us to pass on this wonderful message of peace and reconciliation with God. A day is coming for each of us when we can no longer work, and so before that time arrives, help us to be about Your business. To Your honor and glory, we pray. Amen.