Revelation 17:8

The beast that you saw
In the explanation which follows, it is important to remember that the Beast is both a king and a kingdom. This characteristic is evident from a study of various passages concerning the Beast, for example: “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn [an individual] was speaking; I watched till the beast [the fourth terrible kingdom] was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame” (Dan. Dan. 7:11). See commentary on Revelation 13:1. See The Beast. See #16 - Beast.

was and is not and will ascend . . . go to perdition
This is an important verse because it gives us information concerning the four phases of the life of The Beast who eventually rules the seventh head at the time of the end:
  1. was - His original political appearance and rise (Dan. Dan. 9:26-27).
  2. is not - His death by a mortal wound (Zec. Zec. 11:17?; Rev. Rev. 13:3+).
  3. will ascend - His miraculous recovery (Rev. Rev. 13:3+).
  4. to perdition - His destruction at the hands of Christ at the Second Coming (Dan. Dan. 7:11; Dan. 11:45; Rev. Rev. 19:19+).
At his ascent, he overthrows the two witnesses (Rev. Rev. 11:7+). His victory over them and his miraculous restoration result in his global worship (Rev. Rev. 13:3-4+). This occurs at the midpoint of The 70th Week of Daniel. See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel. See The Timing of His Ascent.

out of the bottomless pit
Bottomless pit is ἀβύσσου [abyssou] , the abyss, a compartment deep within the earth which serves as a holding place for demons. See commentary on Revelation 9:1. His ascent from the abyss is yet future to the time of John’s vision and denotes his revival from the dead and possibly his demonic possession (cf. Luke Luke 22:3; John John 13:27). See Supernatural Origin? When the Beast ascends out of the abyss, he will overcome the two witnesses (Rev. Rev. 11:7+). The destruction of these two powerful prophets together with his return from the dead will seal his worship by the earth dwellers. This probably occurs at the midpoint of The 70th Week of Daniel when he proclaims himself as God. See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel.

Roughly speaking the mortal stage [before his deadly wound] would fill the first half of the last of “the seventy weeks” (i.e. , the first 3 1/2 years of Dan. Dan. 9:27); and the superhuman stage [after his revival and ascent from the abyss] would occupy the last half. But there is nothing to show us what length of time will run between his rise and his assassination. Neither can we say exactly how long the time will be between his death-stroke and his reappearance.1

See commentary on Revelation 11:7. See commentary on Revelation 13:3.

go to perdition
Perdition is ἀπώλειαν [apōleian] : Mat. 7:13).”2 The Antichrist is said to be “the son of perdition (ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας [ho huios tēs apōleias] )” (2Th. 2Th. 2:3). His title reflects his final destiny: “into destruction (εἰς ἀπώλειαν [eis apōleian] )” (Rev. Rev. 17:11+). His destruction follows upon his origin, death, and revival. See commentary on Revelation 17:11. In Daniel’s vision of the four beasts and the little horn, the fourth beast “was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame” (Dan. Dan. 7:11). “He shall come to his end, and no one will help him” (Dan. Dan. 11:45b). He is destroyed (cast into the Lake of Fire, but not annihilated) at the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. Rev. 19:20+). Because his destiny is destruction, he is “the son of perdition” (2Th. 2Th. 2:3). Both the Beast and the False Prophet are denied judgment at the Great White Throne (Rev. Rev. 20:11-15+). Unlike other nonbelievers who die (or are killed, Rev. Rev. 19:21+) and subsequently resurrected to stand judgment before being cast into the Lake of Fire, these two are “cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. Rev. 19:20+). Their destruction is unique in that they are the first inhabitants of the Lake of Fire—spending one thousand years there before being joined by Satan (Rev. Rev. 20:10+). Thus, the “antitrinity” are the first to suffer in hell. The rest of the ungodly dead are in Hades until their time of judgment (Rev. Rev. 20:12-13+).

those who dwell on the earth will marvel
Will marvel is θαυμασθήσονται [thaumasthēsontai] , future passive indicative, they will be marvelling. This is the same Beast which John saw earlier which “all the world marveled and followed” (Rev. Rev. 13:4+). There, he was shown the future rise of Antichrist. Now, the angel shows him his place of origin (from the abyss) and his relationship to the woman. Those who marvel are the Earth Dwellers. They marvel over his recovery from his deadly wound (Rev. Rev. 13:3+, Rev. 13:14+; Rev. Rev. 17:11+). See commentary on Revelation 13:3.

whose names are not written in the Book of Life
names are not written is οῦ γέγραπται τὸ ὄνομα [ou gegraptai to onoma] , perfect tense passive verb, not it has been written, the name. The text is not saying that their names are not presently found in the book, as if they were at one time but were later blotted out. In the foreknowledge and election of God, their names were never recorded there (Rev. Rev. 13:8+). Since their names have not been written in the Book of Life, they are guaranteed eventually to be cast into the Lake of Fire because “anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. Rev. 20:12+). Only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life find entry into the New Jerusalem (Rev. Rev. 21:27+). See Book of Life. See Beast Worshipers are Unique. Previously, John wrote that their names had not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 13:8+). Here, the same book is referred to as simply the Book of Life. See commentary on Revelation 13:8.

from the foundation of the world
From the foundation (καταβολῆς [katabolēs] , throwing down) of the world, their names have been absent from the book. In the foreknowledge and election of God, it was known that the Beast worshipers would reject God. Even before their death, they are irredeemable once they worship the Beast and take his mark (Rev. Rev. 14:9-11+). See From the Foundation of the World.

when they see
βλεπόντων [blepontōn] , present tense participle, while presently seeing. They will marvel at the time they see the beast. His appearance results in their response. This speaks of his deadly wound which was healed which causes the earth dwellers to worship him (Rev. Rev. 13:3+). It is the miraculous death and recovery of a person witnessed by people who have seen both the wounding and the healing, not the ages-long restoration of a historical kingdom or country such as Rome. The wounding and miraculous recovery of the Beast is a part of the deceptive testing during this unique hour of testing which is to come upon the world (Rev. Rev. 3:10+). Their response is to believe the deception (2Th. 2Th. 2:11-12) which results in their worship of the beast (Rev. Rev. 13:4+) and in their taking his mark which seals their doom (Rev. Rev. 14:9-11+). The deception is not the miraculous revival, but the falsehood which it points to. See commentary on Revelation 13:13.

that was, and is not, and yet is
Τι ἦν, και οὐκ ἔστι, καὶπερ ἔστιν [Ti ēn, kai ouk esti, kaiper estin] , who he was, and not he is, and although he is (TR text). Ὅτι ἦν καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν καὶ παρέσται [Hoti ēn kai ouk estin kai parestai] , that he was and not he is, and he will be present (MT, NU text). This phrase describes the initial appearance, death, and subsequent ascent of the Beast from the abyss (Rev. Rev. 11:7+). The point of reference for the phrases was, is not, and yet is, is the period in which the earth dwellers live—all of which is yet future to John. Thus, the fact that the Beast was should not be taken as an indication that the Beast had already walked the planet and perished prior to John’s day. The phrase found here alludes to the similar phrase which describes Jesus’ eternal nature and true victory over death: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Rev. Rev. 1:18+). In his return from the dead, the Beast, as Antichrist, mimics the true Christ who forever achieved victory over death. See Master Imitator. See Supernatural Origin? See commentary on Revelation 1:18. Some believe John’s statement reflects his inclusion of a myth which developed some time after the death of the Roman emperor Nero that he would return from the dead. This is extremely unlikely. See Revival Myth.

Notes

1 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 17:12.

2 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), 103.

Read Revelation 17:8