Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Revelation 11:7

When they finish their testimony
As we have seen throughout the book of Revelation, the ability of the evil forces which manifest during the time of the end is entirely within God’s sovereignty. These two witnesses may not be killed until they have finished their God-given task (John John 17:4). So it is with all believers (John John 21:18-23; Acts Acts 20:24; 2Ti. 2Ti. 4:7).

the beast
Beast is θηρίον [thērion] , which was used of wild animals (Rev. Rev. 6:8+), including those which fought in the Roman arena.1 The term is also used to describe animals as revealed in visions, such as that of Daniel (LXX: Dan. Dan. 7:3, Dan. 7:5-7, Dan. 7:11-12, Dan. 7:17, Dan. 7:19, Dan. 7:23). It is the diminutive form of θήρ [thēr] but equivalent in meaning.2 It is to be contrasted against the diminutive for Lamb, ἀρνίον [arnion] .3 See Master Imitator.

This name “the Beast” contrasts the Antichrist from the true Christ as “the Lamb;” and it is a significant fact that by far the great majority of passages where the Lord Jesus is so designated are also found here in the Apocalypse. The “Lamb” is the Saviour of sinners; the “Beast” is the persecutor and slayer of the saints. The “Lamb” calls attention to the gentleness of Christ; the “Beast” tells of the ferocity of the Antichrist. . . Under the Law lambs were ceremonially clean and used in sacrifice, but beasts were unclean and unfit for sacrifices.4

Revelation mentions two different beasts: Antichrist (Rev. Rev. 13:1+) and the False Prophet (Rev. Rev. 13:11+). Which beast is in view here? Evidence indicates it is Antichrist who slays the witnesses.

The “beast” most probably refers to the future Antichrist. Five facts support this view.

First, the persecutor of the witnesses is not “a beast” but “the beast” (τό θηρίον [to thērion] ). This use of a definite article indicates that he is a figure well known to the writer. Since teaching on the Antichrist was so familiar to Jews and Christians through Old and New Testament prophecy (Dan. Dan. 7:2-25; Dan. 9:27 ; Dan. 11:35-45 ; Mtt. Mat. 24:15; Mark Mark 13:14; 2Th. 2Th. 2:3-12; 1Jn. 1Jn. 4:1-6), it is not impossible that John was thinking of him here.

Second, since the word “beast” (θηρίον [thērion] ) in the Apocalypse is always used with reference to the future Antichrist or his system (Rev. Rev. 13:1+ ; Rev. 14:9+, Rev. 14:11+ ; Rev. 15:2+ ; Rev. 16:2+ ; Rev. 17:3+ ; Rev. 19:20+ ; Rev. 20:10+ ) [we note one exception: Rev. Rev. 13:11+], the beast in Rev. 11:7+ should be seen in the same light.

Third, the beast will come up out of (ἐκ [ek] ) the abyss, that is, it will have a satanic, demonic source and character (cf. Rev. Rev. 9:1+). This feature corresponds with that of the coming Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2Th. 2:9-10.

Fourth, the description of the beast as “coming up out of the abyss” (ἀναβαῖνον έκ τῆς ἀβύσσου [anabainon ek tēs abyssou] , Rev. Rev. 11:7+) corresponds with the beast “about to come from the abyss” (ἀναβαίνειν ἐκ τῆς ἀβύσσου [anabainein ek tēs abyssou] ) in Rev. Rev. 17:8+ (cf. Rev. Rev. 13:1+ ). This correspondence is illuminating, for since the beast in Rev. Rev. 17:8+ probably refers to the future Antichrist with his kingdom, the same is probably the case in Rev. Rev. 11:7+.

Fifth, νικάω [nikaō] (“to overcome”) is used three times in the Apocalypse with reference to the enemy of God’s people (Rev. Rev. 6:2+ ; Rev. 11:7+ ; Rev. 13:7+ ). Since other occurrences of the term are related directly to the coming Antichrist (Rev. Rev. 6:2+ ; Rev. 13:7+ ), the same may be true in Rev. Rev. 11:7+.5

The definite article, the, implies at his first introduction here by John that he is a recognized figure:

This beast was not mentioned before, yet he is introduced as “the beast,” because he had already been described by Daniel (Dan. Dan. 7:3, Dan. 7:11), and he is fully so in the subsequent part of the Apocalypse, namely, Rev. Rev. 13:1+; Rev. 17:8+. Thus, John at once appropriates the Old Testament prophecies; and also, viewing his whole subject at a glance, mentions as familiar things (though not yet so to the reader) objects to be described hereafter by himself. It is a proof of the unity that pervades all Scripture.6

The individual before us is found in many passages of Scripture and given many different titles. “Across the varied scenes depicted by prophecy there falls the shadow of a figure at once commanding and ominous. Under many different names like the aliases of a criminal, his character and movements are set before us.”7

It is unfortunate that the great variety of names bestowed upon him has led some brethren to the conclusion that they must belong to separate persons, and has caused them to apportion these out to different individuals; only confusion can result from this. There is almost as much ground to make the Devil and Satan different persons, as there is to regard (as some do) the Beast and the Antichrist as separate entities. That the Devil and Satan are names belonging to the same person, and that the Beast and the Antichrist is the selfsame individual, is proven by the fact that identically the same characteristics under each is found belonging to the one as to the other.8

Pink cites the Teaching of the Apostles (said to be dated to the beginning of the 2nd century), the writings of Cyril (Bishop of Jerusalem in the fourth century), and Gregory of Tours (who wrote at the end of the 6th century) as evidence of the early view that the Beast is an individual rather than a system. He attributes the idea that the Antichrist was the Roman system to the Waldenses: “It is not until we reach the fourteenth century (so far as the writer is aware) that we find the first marked deviation from the uniform belief of the early Christians. It was the Waldenses,—so remarkably sound in the faith on almost all point of doctrine—who, thoroughly worn out by centuries of the most relentless and merciless persecutions, published about the year 1350 a treatise designed to prove that the system of Popery was the Antichrist.”9 “This shows that these Witnesses are upon the earth during the thirteenth chapter; and that the Beast is on the Earth during the eleventh chapter.”10 See The Beast.

ascends out of the bottomless pit
Bottomless pit is ἀβύσσου [abyssou] , the deep well within the earth where fallen angels are held. See commentary on Revelation 9:1. See Supernatural Origin? The beast is from the bottomless pit (Rev. Rev. 11:7+; Rev. 17:8+) whereas the Lamb is from heaven (John John 3:13, John 3:31; John 6:33, John 6:38, John 6:41-42, John 6:51). “We have not here his historical rise ‘out of the sea ’ (Rev. Rev. 13:1+), but his satanic revival ‘out of the bottomless pit ’ or abyss (Rev. Rev. 11:7+).”11 make war
A trademark of the beast, and the dragon who empowers him, is his incessant opposition to the people of God. In addition to these two witnesses, he makes war against the saints in general (Dan. Dan. 7:21, Dan. 7:25; Rev. Rev. 7:9-16+; Rev. 12:11+; Rev. 13:7+; Rev. 20:4+), and against the Jews in particular (Jer. Jer. 30:7; Dan. Dan. 8:24; Dan. 12:1; Rev. Rev. 12:13+, Rev. 12:17+). See Jacob’s Trouble and the Great Tribulation.

overcome them, and kill them
Overcome is νικήσει [nikēsei] from νικάω [nikaō] . Here is the one who rides forth “conquering and to conquer” (Rev. Rev. 6:2+). See commentary on Revelation 6:2. This is another external similarity between the beast and the Lamb. See Master Imitator. He appears to overcome in the eyes of the world, but those he kills are the true overcomers (Rev. Rev. 2:11+; Rev. 12:11+). See Who is the Overcomer? He overcomes the witnesses after he is restored from his deadly wound:

That this incident will happen after his resurrection from the dead is clear from the statement, the beast that comes up from the abyss, and he will come back from the Abyss by means of his resurrection by Satan. Along with his resurrection, the act of killing the Two Witnesses will provide another reason why mankind will worship him. All previous attempts to kill the Two Witnesses fail.12

Immediately upon his resurrection, he kills . . . the Two Witnesses. Consequently, their 1,260 days must just overlap into his 42 months. They must have witnessed, therefore, for nearly 1,260 days during his mortal stage, before his assassination.13

See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel.

Notes

1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 361.

2 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 198.

3 Therion describes the Antichrist in Rev. Rev. 11:7+; Rev. 13:1-4+, Rev. 13:12+, Rev. 13:14-15+, Rev. 13:17-18+; Rev. 14:9+, Rev. 14:11+; Rev. 15:2+; Rev. 16:2+, Rev. 16:10+, Rev. 16:13+; Rev. 17:3+, Rev. 17:7-8+, Rev. 17:11-13+, Rev. 17:16-17+; Rev. 19:19-20+; Rev. 20:4+, Rev. 20:10+. Arnion describes the Lamb in Rev. Rev. 5:6+, Rev. 5:8+, Rev. 5:12-13+; Rev. 6:1+, Rev. 6:16+; Rev. 7:9-10+, Rev. 7:14+, Rev. 7:17+; Rev. 12:11+; Rev. 13:8+, Rev. 13:11+; Rev. 14:1+, Rev. 14:4+, Rev. 14:10+; Rev. 15:3+; Rev. 17:14+; Rev. 19:7+, Rev. 19:9+; Rev. 21:9+, Rev. 21:14+, Rev. 21:22-23+, Rev. 21:27+; Rev. 22:1+, Rev. 22:3+.

4 Arthur Walkington Pink, The Antichrist (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1999, 1923), s.v. “The Beast.”

5 Daniel Wong, “The Two Witnesses in Revelation 11,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 154 no. 615 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, July-Sep 1997), 353-354.

6 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 11:7.

7 Pink, The Antichrist, s.v. “intro.”

8 Ibid., s.v. “Names and Titles of the Antichrist.”

9 Ibid., s.v. “The Papacy Not the Antichrist.”

10 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 11:7.

11 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), Rev. 19:18.

12 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 250.

13 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 17:12.

Read Revelation 11