Nero was admittedly a very evil man. His infamy is well known. Apparently, some time after his death, a superstitious belief arose that he came back to life.1 This myth is then thought to be the subject of the passages which record that the Beast will be killed and revived (Rev. Rev. 13:3+, Rev. 13:8+; Rev. 17:8+, Rev. 17:11+).
While this might sound like an amazing correlation at first, the idea has some major problems:
- If the Nero revival myth is what is recorded in the book of Revelation, then Gods Word is based on pagan untruths.
- The book of Revelation records a successful revival, whereas Nero has not risen.
- It is unlikely there would have been sufficient time for Nero to die, for the myth to arise, and to have it recorded by John all prior to A.D. 70the date by which Nero advocates have to have the book written. Some commentators argue that some passages in Revelation reflect a revival of Nero myth, especially 13:3-4 and 17:8, 11, which speak of the demise of the beast and subsequent revival. The Nero myth held that Nero would return from the dead and lead a Parthian army against the Roman Empire. If these texts reflect the myth, then Revelation is better dated later than earlier, since presumably it took time for the myth to arise, develop, and circulate after Neros death in 68 AD.2
- Those in the early church who were most intimately connected with the time of Nero know nothing of the supposed relevance of the myth. Irenaeus, who was the disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was the disciple of John, had no knowledge of the Nero Redivivus Myth. Because Nero has never returned from the dead and never will, the theory that John refers to the Nero Redivivus Myth in Revelation Rev. 13:3+, Rev. 13:14+ ascribes to John a false prophecy based upon a silly superstition. [emphasis added]3
- The Beast receives worship because of his revival from the dead . Those who suggest Nero is the Beast fail to account for the clear indication of Scripture that worship of the Beast is in reaction to his miraculous restoration (Rev. Rev. 13:3-4+, Rev. 13:12+). Nero never received global worship nor was he revived. Any worship he may have received did not follow a restoration to life as so clearly portrayed by the book of Revelation.
1 The Nero redivivus tradition [was] recorded by his Roman historian Suetonius (Nero 6.57).J. Randall Price, Historical Problems with Preterisms Interpretations of Events in A.D. 70, in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 389.
2 Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 17.
3 Andy Woods, Revelation 13 and the First Beast, in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 240.