How Christian Persecution Influenced the Symbolism in Revelation
Demir Schroyer, Thiel College
Abstract: In the book of Revelation, Readers are bombarded with bizarre and disturbing imagery. At first glance, it is difficult to make any sense of the book due to all the strange events and grotesque monsters. However, when looking at the contents of Revelation through a historical lens, it is revealed that the outlandish imagery in Revelation is symbolic, and that it represents the persecution suffered by Christians under the Roman empire in the late 1st century while the book was being written. Babylon in Revelation 14 represents the Roman economy and the empire’s hostility towards Christians. The beasts in Revelation 13 represent the imperialistic nature of Rome. The mark of the beast represents Roman money. The number 666 is a code representing emperor Nero Caesar. Finally, Jesus’ victory over evil at the end of Revelation represents Christianity overcoming its persecutors and sends a message of hope that told the book’s persecuted audience that relief from Roman persecution is coming soon.
Revelation is a religious text written by John; It is unknown whether John is the apostle, John. However, what is known is that John was well-known by the Christian community in the late 1st century. Revelation is structured using fantastical, supernatural, and often terrifying images and events to represent real-world events of the late 1st century. Revelation's genre is known as an "Apocalypse." Contrary to popular belief, the word Apocalypse does not mean the end of the world as we know it (1). Apocalypse is derived from the Greek word apokalypsis, which means "to reveal." Logically, one of the main themes of Revelation is the incrimination that the Roman empire opposed God and Christianity. Another critical aspect of Revelation is the overarching theme of the struggle between good and evil. Throughout Revelation, readers encounter a variety of evil entities, such as Babylon, the beasts, and others who attempt to prevent God's plan from coming to fruition while God and his angels fight back against them.
I will analyze five major symbolic entities in Revelation, including Babylon, the beasts, the mark of the Beast, the number 666, and Jesus' ultimate victory. Each of these aspects connects with the structure of Revelation; each subject represents events during John's time, specifically the persecution of Christians by the Roman government. Likewise, the aspects of Revelation covered in this thesis connect to the apocalypse genre by highlighting the struggle between good and evil.
The city of Babylon first appears in Revelation 14:8 when an angel prophesizes death over the city. In Revelation, Babylon is portrayed as a powerful, wealthy city that is hostile to Christianity; Babylon is personified as a woman who rides atop a demonic beast, seduces everyone with her wealth, and is drunk on the blood of the Christians she has murdered. Babylon fits with the structure of Revelation because Babylon is used to represent Rome, its wealth, and the empire's hostility towards Christians. Babylon fits into the genre of Revelation because it symbolizes how Rome is hostile to Christianity and values material wealth more than righteousness.
The unnatural beasts that baffled many readers make their debut in Revelation 13. The beasts inhabit the entirety of chapter 13 and continue throughout the rest of Revelation. The two beasts are described as freakish abominations that rise out of the land and sea. The beasts fit the structure of Revelation because they symbolize Rome's imperialist nature. The beasts also fit into the apocalyptic genre because their presence represents Rome's hostility towards Christianity.
The mark of the Beast, one of Revelation's infamous defining features, emerges in Revelation 13:16-17; the mark is placed upon people and is required if people want to buy or sell anything. The mark of the Beast fits the structure of Revelation because it represents money imprinted with Roman emperors and gods, forcing Christians to use and accept the presence of other gods. The mark of the Beast fits into the apocalyptic genre because it symbolizes money as being evil.
Unlike the mark of the Beast, the infamous number 666 only makes a single appearance in Revelation. The number 666 appears in 13:8, stating that it is the "number of the beast." Despite its short appearance, it has become infamous and synonymous with evil. The number 666 fits into the structure of Revelation because it symbolizes Roman emperor Nero Caesar, one of the most infamous persecutors of the Christian church. The number 666 fits into the apocalyptic genre because it represents emperor Nero's mythological return and re-conquest of Rome.
At the end of Revelation, we see that Jesus claims victory while the antagonists of Revelation meet their demise. Following the events of Revelation and Jesus proclaiming that he is "coming soon," the righteous live in paradise in the new Jerusalem. Jesus' final victory fits into the structure of Revelation because it symbolizes Christianity's ultimate victory over its persecutors and provides a beacon of hope to persecuted Christians in the Roman empire. Jesus' final victory fits into the apocalyptic genre because it announces that Roman persecution of Christians will end, and Christianity will prevail.
The first aspect of Revelation to be placed under the historical lens will be Babylon. In Revelation 17, Babylon is represented by a woman dressed in fine fabrics and expensive jewelry who rides a demonic beast and is drunk on Christian blood. At first, Babylon seems to have little to do with Christian persecution; upon further examination, Babylon represents many aspects of the Roman empire. First, Babylon's use of excessive wealth and opulence represents the Roman economy and how Rome flaunts its wealth. Second, Babylon's alluring form and temptress nature represent how the Roman economy lures Christians into compromising their faith for financial gain. Finally, the depictions of Babylon harming Christians represent Rome's hostility towards Christianity.
In Revelation, Babylon displays boundless wealth and is depicted wearing fine fabrics and expensive jewelry while carrying a golden goblet and engaging in trade with many nations (2). Babylon's use of excessive wealth is symbolic. Looking at the historical context behind Babylon's opulent appearance represents the wealth and power of the Roman economy. Rome's massive road networks and unrestricted access to the Mediterranean and Black Seas gave Rome an immense trading network incorporating conquered territories and foreign trading partners (3). Furthermore, Rome gained revenue from their constant expansion and numerous conquests. Between Rome's trading network and wartime revenue, it is no surprise that the Roman empire was incredibly wealthy, and Romans flaunted their wealth. Roman rulers regularly built arenas, villas, statues, and other costly projects to leave an impression that would live on after their deaths (4). Rome's tendency to flaunt its wealth is directly reflected by Babylon as she shows off her extravagant jewelry and extravagant garments. Naturally, many found Rome's wealth and prosperity attractive.
Another aspect of Babylon's excessive wealth is her temptress nature, where she attempts to lure kings, traders, and Christians into sexual relations (5). Since Babylon symbolizes Rome, these relations symbolize entering a financial relationship with Rome. Due to Rome's massive trading network, Rome had access to goods from around the ancient world, which allowed Rome to engage in trade within the Mediterranean, the distant East Indies, and China (6).
In Revelation, it seems that John depicted the common act of shopping as being evil. However, John emphasizes the action of engaging in economic relations with Rome as being evil. During the first century, Christians were outsiders in Rome since they did not adhere to Roman religious traditions; this led to Romans persecuting Christians (7). This persecution then led zealous Christians, such as John, to outright reject the Roman society, which hated Christians. One aspect of such rejection was not engaging in financial dealings with the Romans. However, this was not easy because Rome offered opportunities for financial prosperity, and they sold virtually everything needed to survive. Revelation portrays the temptation of Roman wealth with Babylon as an alluring female prostitute who entices people into relationships (8). According to zealous Christians, financial dealings with Rome would compromise the Christian faith, just as engaging in a sexual relationship with a prostitute tarnishes one's standing with God (9).
Some passionate Christians refused to participate in the Roman society that despised them. Revelation 17:6 portrays Rome's hostility towards Christians in the form of Babylon (the woman) being "drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus." Although the Roman Empire was polytheistic and worshipped recycled Greek gods (10), Rome was also a theocracy, a state ruled by one human who is considered a deity. The Romans worshipped their emperors through a state religion called "the imperial cult" (11). Since Christians believed that there was only one God, they refused to worship Roman gods, the emperor, or to participate in Roman religious traditions; this ostracized Christians. Furthermore, Christianity's refusal to join the imperial cult was seen as a rebellion against the emperor and incited the wrath of the Roman government (12). Because Christians refused to compromise their faith, the Romans began persecuting Christians (13). This persecution prompted John to depict Babylon as being drunk on the blood of saints. With Babylon analyzed, our focus shifts to Revelation 13, where readers are introduced to the tyrannical beasts from the Sea and the Earth.
The Beast from the Earth and the Beast from the Sea debut in Revelation 13:1 and Revelation 13:11, respectively. The historical context behind the symbolism of the Beast from the Earth and the Beast from the Sea reveals that both creatures represent Rome's imperial nature, which was Roman Empire's desire to conquer and rule over everything. Multiple aspects of these beasts represent Roman imperialism.
First, the beasts' descriptions and events that involve them contain multiple elements that symbolize Rome and the empire's conquests. Then, the beasts rising from the land and the sea represent the Roman Empire's desire to have complete authority over the world. Finally, the beasts' interactions with humanity represent how Rome wants complete control over people through the imperial cult.
In Revelation, John provides a detailed description of the beasts and their roles. Revelation. 13:1-10 describes the Beast from the Sea as having seven heads, holding blasphemous titles (14), sitting upon a throne, having authority over people of many nationalities, and killing anyone who is associated with Christianity (15). Meanwhile, in Revelation 13:11-18, the Beast from the Earth ensures humanity remains loyal to the Beast from the Sea, by enforcing decrees and punishing dissenters (16).
These aspects of the beasts, support how the Beast from the Sea and the Beast from the Earth symbolize Rome. The seven heads on the Beast from the Sea represent Rome's famous claim of being the city that was built on seven hills (17). The Beast from the Sea's blasphemous titles and the throne it sits upon symbolize Roman Emperors who sat upon a throne and believed themselves to be divine (18). The Beast from the Sea's authority over people of multiple nationalities represents how the Roman Empire ruled over many people from different nations and ethnicities (19). Finally, the Beast from the Sea slaughtering dissenters represents Rome's persecution of Christians (20).
The Beast from the Earth's tasks of ensuring loyalty to the Beast from the Sea, enforcing the decrees made by the Beast from the Sea, and directly punishing dissenters all represent Rome's military might and how the military maintains order in the Roman empire (21). By establishing how both the Beast from the Sea and the Beast from the Earth symbolize Rome, it is revealed how these creatures represent the imperial nature of the Roman Empire.
As their names imply, one Beast rises from the Sea while the other rises from the Earth. The symbolic event of the beasts rising from the Earth and the sea represents the Roman Empire's conquests and the Roman government's authority in the lands they controlled. During the late 1st century, the Roman Empire controlled almost half of modern-day Europe, a tiny sliver of territory in Northern Africa, all of Asia Minor, and even encroached into the fertile crescent (22). Among the Roman Empire's impressive domain, included the entire Mediterranean Sea, a feat that the Romans took great pride in, often referring to the Mediterranean as "Our Sea" (23).
The Beast from the Earth is meant to represent the territory that the Roman Empire controlled and the authority of the Roman government in the lands Rome conquered. As seen with the Beast from the Earth enforcing the will of the Beast from the Sea, the Romans kept a tight leash on their territory, using politicians and soldiers to keep Rome's territories under the emperor's control (24). In Revelation, the beasts were not content with having authority over just the land and sea. Likewise, the Roman Empire's imperialistic desires were unsatiable. Comparable to the beasts in Revelation 13, the Roman Empire equally sought complete conquest over their human subjects.
The beasts' interactions with humanity in Revelation demonstrate their objective to command absolute control over humanity. In Revelation 13: 13-15, the Beast from the Earth displays the power to astonish humanity and make people worship the Beast from the Sea. The Beast from the Earth also created animate statues of the Beast from the Sea that people are ordered to worship. Finally, both the Beast from the Sea and the Beast from the Earth punish dissenters with death (25).
Viewing this through the historical lens of Christian persecution in Rome reveals that the actions the beasts take to appear divine and command complete authority over humanity reflect practices used by the imperial cult to make the Roman emperor appear divine and command absolute loyalty of the Roman populace. The imperial cult used many tactics to make the emperor appear divine. The Beast from the Earth's ability to perform displays of power, such as "making fire come down from heaven to earth," (26) represents how the Romans believed fire and other natural displays were signs of divine power. Some examples of this include Roman emperors depicted holding lightning bolts, insinuating they could wield lightning bolts like Zeus (27), and how the Romans considered leaping flames a sign of divine approval, as observed when a flame leaped from an altar to show divine approval of emperor Tiberius' aspirations for power (28). The Beast from the Earth's ability to create animate statues also represents a ploy the Romans used to make the emperor appear divine. Engineers created statues of the emperor that could be manipulated like stone puppets, making it appear as though the emperor possessed a statue and was using it to commune with his subjects (29). Finally, the beasts slaughtered those who refused to worship the Beast from the Sea represents the Roman government's persecution of Christians who refused to participate in the imperial cult and worship the Roman emperor (30). Along with the Beasts from the Earth and Sea, Revelation 13 also contains the mark of the Beast.
The Mark of the Beast
Revelation 13:17 reveals the mark of the Beast. In Revelation, the mark of the Beast is described as a mark placed on one's right hand or forehead that is required to buy or sell anything. Most people believe that any mark on their right hand matching the description of the mark of the Beast is evil. However, the historical symbolism behind the mark of the Beast indicates that the mark of the Beast is a metaphor for Roman money. In Revelation's original Greek manuscripts, the mark of the Beast is directly correlated to stamps Rome used to press images into their coins. John denounces Roman money in Revelation because of the Christian zealots, who desired isolation from a sinful Roman society and the evils of Roman money, which was connected to the imperial cult.
In Revelation 13:17, the mark of the Beast is described as a mark placed on one's right hand or forehead that is required to buy or sell anything. Most people take this description at face value (31). However, when looking at the historical context behind the mark of the Beast, we see that the mark of the Beast is meant to represent Roman money (32). Considering that original Greek manuscripts referred to the mark of the Beast as Charagma, the ancient Greek word for the stamps Rome used to press images into their coins, it is easy to see that Roman money directly correlates to the Mark of the Beast (33). Although it is often thought that money is the root of all evil (34), it still may seem an exaggeration for John to imply that Roman money is evil. However, several members of John's audience during the late 1st century believed John's opinions on the evils of Roman money.
During the late 1st century, while Revelation was being written and Rome was persecuting the early church, the persecution of Christians gave rise to an extremist sect of Christians known as the Zealots (35). Between suffering under government-sanctioned persecution and being forced to worship the imperial cult, the Zealots saw the Roman empire as a nation that hated Christianity and openly defied God. The Zealots decided that if Roman society rejected them, they would reject anything related to Roman society. The Zealots formed Christian communities that rejected Roman cultural practices, their religion, and Roman money (36). Because Christian Zealots opposed Roman society and their evil money, it is understood why money earned a distinct symbolism in Revelation.
The Christian Zealots thought Roman money encompassed evil because of its connection with the imperial cult. The Romans followed the imperial cult, the state-sponsored worship of the emperor, and the Roman government. Another facet of the imperial cult was the Roman coins stamped with depictions of the emperor being a deity, or the goddess Roma among other imperial religious icons (37). The Zealots, upheld the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me," (38) and did not condone being forced to accept the existence of foreign gods, let alone a man proclaiming himself as a god. Between the necessity of Roman currency in daily life and the Roman government coercing Christians to accept foreign gods, John symbolized Roman money in Revelation as the mark of the Beast. Now that the mark of the Beast has been analyzed, our focus shifts to one of Revelation's most infamous symbols of evil.
The Number 666
Revelation 13:18 presents the number 666, also known as "the number of the beast," and arguably one of the most infamous aspects of Revelation. Regardless of your religious affiliation, you have probably heard of the number 666 either from someone or in pop culture; the number 666 is almost universally portrayed as a symbol of evil (39). However, the truth is that the number 666 was never evil (40). When looking at the historical symbolism behind the number 666 in Revelation, we recognize that what the number 666 represents is what John is portraying as evil. In Revelation, the number 666 represents emperor Nero Caesar, one of the most infamous persecutors of the early Christian church. John used the number 666 because it is the sum of all the letters in the name Nero Caesar ran through an A-1, B-2 style cipher. John made the number 666 a symbol of evil because of Nero's reputation for persecuting the early Christian church. Nero was denoted in Revelation because of a myth in ancient Rome that emperor Nero never died and would eventually return to Rome.
John did not randomly choose the number 666 to represent Emperor Nero; he cunningly chose an equation representing Nero's name (41). Nero Caesar's name ran through an A-1, B-2 style cipher (42) and added together using the ancient Hebrew alphabet equals the number 666. Nero Caesar's name in ancient Hebrew, נרו קסר (pronounced "Nrwn Qsr"), deciphered (N = 50, r = 200, w = 6, n = 50, Q = 100, s = 60, r = 200), and added together totals 666 (43). So now that it has been explained why John chose 666 to represent Nero, why did he use 666 to portray Nero as malicious?
John portrayed Nero as malevolent because of Nero's infamous reputation as a persecutor of the early church. Any Historian of the Roman Empire acknowledges that emperor Nero Caesar despised Christianity. Nero often blamed Christians for anything that went wrong in the Roman Empire. One of the most infamous examples of this was the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, a massive inferno that destroyed nearly 75% of the city. After the fire, Roman citizens began to blame Nero for intentionally starting the fire. Nero, not wanting to be removed from power, blamed the Christians for starting the fire, which launched a campaign of Christian persecution (44). With the number 666 used to represent emperor Nero and Nero's hatred of Christianity, it makes sense why John chose to make the number 666 a symbol of evil.
It would not be Revelation if the number 666 were merely a representation of Nero. In true apocalyptic fashion, John also used the number 666 to represent the Nero Redivivus Legend, a widespread belief in the late 1st century stating that former emperor Nero Caesar would return after he died to re-conquer Rome. Today, it is irrefutable that emperor Nero Caesar was overthrown and committed suicide in 68 AD when the Roman senate denounced Nero as an enemy of the state for his disinterested response toward the growing uprisings within the empire. Having lost the favor of the senate and his praetorian guard, whom both chose to support the Roman governor, Galba, Nero Caesar committed suicide to avoid capture and trial by his political enemies (45).
The people of ancient Rome did not have quick and easy access to information. So, when the news of Nero's suicide spread, many did not believe it. This denial gave birth to the Nero Redivivus Legend. The myth states that Nero faked his death and hid in Parthia to amass an army. One day, Nero would come out of hiding and return to Rome with his army to wreak vengeance upon Rome, destroy the city, and reclaim his throne (46). Given Nero's reputation with Christians and the Christian church, no Christian wanted this myth to become a reality (47). John added this reference to the Nero Redivivus legend because it portrays the destructive potential of the Roman Empire, which not only threatened the followers of Jesus but ultimately threatened late 1st-century society itself (48). With several of the antagonistic components in Revelation analyzed (49), now would be a good time to move out of Revelation 13 finally, and on to the more optimistic conclusion, Jesus' ultimate victory at the end of Revelation.
The Final Victory
What better way to conclude a thesis on Revelation than with the ending of Revelation (50)? Considering that the events of Revelation symbolize Christian persecution in ancient Rome during the late 1st century, it seems fitting that God's final victory over evil represents a message of hope to persecuted Christians during the late 1st century. The end of Revelation brings hope to Christians in Ancient Rome by detailing the ultimate destruction of all the antagonists, representing the eradication of the forces persecuting Christianity. The vision of the new Heaven and the new Earth represents the rewards that await Christians who persevere and remain faithful through persecution. Finally, Jesus' message that he "is coming soon" represents the end of Roman persecution.
By the end of Revelation, John uses the annihilation of all the antagonists to represent Christianity overcoming its persecutors. All the book's antagonists have met a violent end. Babylon is drowned in Revelation 18:21 when an angel casts a millstone into the sea, creating a tsunami that destroys the city. In Revelation 17:16, it is implied that Babylon, the woman will be betrayed by the Beast she rides, which bucks her off its back and roasts her (51). The cities and the people who rejected God and persecuted faithful Christians are violently destroyed by various supernatural disasters and plagues (52). The kings and armies who made the grave mistake of opposing Jesus in Revelation 19:17-21 were all slaughtered in battle and birds feasted on their corpses. Lastly, Satan, the false prophet, the Beasts from the Land and Sea, and anyone's name not in the Book of Life at the final judgment are tossed into a lake of fire in Revelation 20:10, where they will be roasted for all eternity (53).
Each antagonistic figure is symbolic and exemplifies good versus evil. Although it is not explicitly stated, the mark of the Beast and what the number 666 denotes, which represents Roman money and emperor Nero Caesar respectively, are implied to have been destroyed along with all the other evils (54). This leaves behind the people, kings, and armies who rejected God, persecuted Christians, and attempted to fight God. In ancient Rome, Christian persecution was usually a communal affair. Therefore, these groups represented Romans who persecuted Christians (55). The false prophet is another allegory for the myth of Nero Caesar's return (56). Finally, Satan is the ultimate personification of sin and evil (57). By knowing what each of these antagonistic figures represented, it can be concluded that their destruction epitomizes Christianity ultimately overcoming persecution.
With the defeat of persecution, John wanted to assure his audience that their continued faithfulness to God would be rewarded. Just as the evil entities seen earlier in Revelation represented Roman persecution, many aspects of God's paradise are also symbolic. In Revelation 21:11, the new Jerusalem, also known as the Holy City, is described as a massive walled city that gleams like a jewel (58). The new Jerusalem symbolizes a future in which Christianity is free from persecution. Now that Christianity's persecutors are destroyed, the city represents a future where worship will occur freely in God's presence. Revelation 21:22 also states that the new Jerusalem has no temple. In Judaism, temples facilitated access to God, with the holiest sections being off-limits to everyone except priests. By removing temples from the new Jerusalem, John is saying that Christians will have no obstacles between them and worshipping God (59). Revelation 21:3 states that the population of the new Jerusalem encompasses people from various nations. The varied population of the new Jerusalem is meant to reflect a prevailing Christianity. When Revelation was written, many believers thought Christianity's future was uncertain since Christianity was a young religion and believers were persecuted. With the new Jerusalem depicted as a holy city filled with people from many nations, John reassured his audience that Christianity would prosper (60).
John did not just symbolically destroy evil and reward the faithful; he wanted to sow hope into his persecuted audience and assure them that Roman persecution would end soon. In Revelation 22:7-12, John writes that Jesus said, "I am coming soon." This message of Jesus coming soon represents a sign of hope for faithful Christians and an omen of reckoning for Christianity's persecutors; John's message communicates that persecuted Christians should remain faithful to Jesus because their oppression will soon come to an end (61).
The events in Revelation symbolize historical events that occurred while Revelation was written. At first glance, Babylon the woman seems to have nothing to do with Christian persecution. However, further examination of the historical context of Babylon reveals that she represents the Roman Empire. The use of excessive wealth and opulence by Babylon represents the Roman economy. The alluring temptress form of Babylon represents how Christians refuse to participate in a society that persecutes them and how the Roman economy tries to tempt Christians into compromising their faith for financial gain. Finally, the depictions of Babylon harming Christians represent Rome's hostility towards Christianity.
By looking at the historical context behind the symbolism of the Beast from the Earth and the Beast from the Sea, it is transparent that both creatures represent Rome's imperial nature.
First, the beasts' descriptions and events that involve them contain multiple elements that symbolize Rome and the empire's conquests. Then, the beasts rising from the land and the sea represent the Roman Empire's desire to have complete authority over the world. Finally, how the beasts interact with humanity exemplifies Rome's desire to gain complete control over people through the imperial cult.
By looking at the historical symbolism behind the mark of the Beast in Revelation 13:17, it can be concluded that the mark of the Beast is a metaphor for Roman money. In the original Greek manuscripts of Revelation, the mark of the Beast is described using Charagma, the ancient Greek word for the printing presses Rome used to stamp their coins. John denounces Roman money in Revelation because of the Christian Zealots, who wanted nothing to do with the Romans who persecuted them and considered any participation in Roman society sinful. The main reason why Christian Zealots thought Roman money was evil was due to Roman money's connection to the imperial cult.
When looking at the historical symbolism behind the number 666 in Revelation, it is revealed that rather than the number itself, it is what the number 666 represents that John is saying is evil. In Revelation, the number 666 represents one of the most infamous persecutors of the early Christian church, emperor Nero Caesar. The number 666 is used because it is the sum of all the letters in the name Nero Caesar ran through an A-1, B-2 style cipher. John made the number 666 a symbol of malice because of Nero's reputation as a persecutor of the early Christian church. Nero was mentioned in Revelation because of a prevailing myth in ancient Rome that emperor Nero never committed suicide and would return to conquer Rome.
God's final victory over evil at the end of Revelation represents a message of hope to Christians facing persecution during the late 1st century. The most prominent symbol of how the end of Revelation is a message of encouragement to Christians in Ancient Rome is the annihilation of all the antagonists by the end of Revelation, representing the destruction of the forces persecuting Christianity. The vision of the new Heaven and the new Earth represents the rewards that await those who persevere and remain faithful through persecution. Finally, Jesus' message that he "is coming soon" reflects a hopeful message that relief from Roman persecution is coming soon.
By understanding the historical symbolism in Revelation, readers are given a new angle from which to view Revelation and all its eccentricities. The events that took place during the late 1st-century may also explains why John wrote Revelation the way he did. In the end, Revelation will unfold just as the Bible portrays, but this new view of Revelation will lead to a better understanding of the mysterious religious text that is Revelation and give readers insight into what life was like for Christians in the late 1st century.
(1) Feelin’ fine about it is optional.
(2) Revelation 17:2-4, NRSV.
(3) Payne, Robert. Ancient Rome. New York: American Heritage Press, 1970, pgs. 217-221.
(4) Payne, 180-192.
(5) Rev 17:2.
(6) Payne, 217-221.
(7) Croix. “Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted?” Past & Present, no. 26 (November 1963). https://www.jstor.org/stable/649902, pg. 10.
(8) Koester, Craig. Revelation. Yale University Press, 2014, pg. 391.
(9) Collins, Adela. “The Political Perspective of the Revelation to John.” JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 96, no. 2 (1977). https://www.jstor.org/stable/3265880, pg. 253.
(10) In a similar fashion to how China manufactures of-brand copies of other people’s products.
(11) Croix, 10.
(12) Croix, 10.
(13) As bad as all of this may sound, this persecution was not as universally severe across the entirety of the Roman empire. Some areas were worse than others. For example, Christian communities in Sardis and Laodicea had very little Christian persecution to the point where Christians became lax with their faith as seen in Rev. 3:1-6 and 14-22, while Christian persecution in other places such as Pergamum was so severe that John literally described the Christian community there as “living, where Satan’s throne is.” In Revelation 2:13.
(14) Basically calling itself a god.
(15) Rev 13:1-10, NRSV.
(16) Rev 13:11-18, NRSV.
(17) Koester, 597.
(18) Tripvarakankoon, Wiriya. “The Sea-Beast in Revelation 13:1–10.” In The Theme of Deception in the Book of Revelation: Bringing Early Christian and Contemporary Thai Culture into Dialogue, 89–149. Claremont, Ca.: Claremont Press, 2017. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvbcd1fj.8, pg. 113.
(19) Tripvarakankoon, The Sea-Beast in Revelation 13:1–10, pgs. 98-105.
(20) Tripvarakankoon, Wiriya. “The Earth-Beast in Revelation 13:11–18.” In The Theme of Deception in the Book of Revelation: Bringing Early Christian and Contemporary Thai Culture into Dialogue, 151–92. Claremont, Ca.: Claremont Press, 2017. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvbcd1fj.9, pgs.37-38.
(21) Payne 215-217.
(22) Encyclopædia Britannica. “Map of Ancient Rome: 1st Century AD.” Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Roman-Empire/images-videos#/media/1/507739/1821.
(23) Koester, 580; Payne, 217.
(24) Payne, 215-217; MacMullen, Ramsay. Enemies of the Roman Order. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1966, Pg. 194.
(25) Rev 13:7 and 15.
(26) Revelation 13:13, NRSV.
(27) …or more accurately, the Roman knockoff Jupiter.
(28) Koester, 603.
(29) Koester 469, and 593; Tripvarakankoon, Wiriya. “The Earth-Beast in Revelation 13:11–18.”pg. 21.
(30) Croix, 10.
(31) Yes, this is addressed to all the doomsday preppers who think cybernetic implants are evil.
(32) In retrospect, this does make sense. It would definitely be impossible to buy or sell without money. No, trading items of equal value instead of money does not count, as that would be bartering.
(33) Collins, 252.
(34) 1 Timothy 6:10, NRSV.
(35) Christian Zealots. Not the Elite Zealots from the Halo games.
(36) Collins, 252.
(37) Schussler-Fiorenza, Elizabeth. Revelation: Vision of a Just World. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991.
(38) Shelton, Jo-Ann. As The Romans Did. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, pg. 86.
(39) Exodus 20:3, NRSV.
(40) To be honest, I once believed this as well, hence why I always dreaded the math problem 2000/3, which rounds to 666.6 repeating. Not one of my finer moments.
(41) To any of you who are not math majors or just do not like math in general, I apologize to you now. Since I enjoy math as much as you do, I feel your pain.
(42) A cipher in which letters are represented as numbers. A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.
(43) Koester, 597.
(44) Payne, 203-204.
(45) Payne, 203-205.
(46) Koester, 602 and 665; Another reference to the Nero Redivivus legend can be seen earlier in Revelation 13:3, where the beast from the sea is dealt a mortal wound and heals itself.
(47) Zombie Nero, two words that should never go together. Not as bad as a zombie Caligula, but still…
(48) Koester, 126.
(49) That and due to time constraints (I have deadline to meet if I want this thing to be published).
(50) It is certainly a far better ending than focusing on one of the other various monsters or other symbolically evil elements of Revelation.
(51) Literally, not figuratively. It is a demonic beast that breathes fire like a dragon, not one that uses bad jokes to insult people.
(52) Specifically, the seven seals in Revelation 6:1-17, the six trumpets in Revelation 8:6-9:21, and the seven bowls of God’s wrath in Revelation 16:1-20.
(53) Again, literally roasted, not figuratively roasted. I don’t think a lake of fire can insult people.
(54) If you already read this far into the paper, you should know where these facts came from.
(55) Koester, 805.
(56) Koester, 606.
(57) Koester, 682.
(58) When viewing the New Jerusalem, Sunglasses are recommended. The city will not be held liable for any blindness or melted eyeballs caused by not heeding this warning.
(59) Koester 831.
(60) Koester, 805.
(61) Koester, 848 and 853.
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