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Revelation 13:15-16 NASB

[15]And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. [16]And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,

I'm a little bit fazed here, who forces the people to receive the mark on their hand or forehead?

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My initial inclination, based on my understanding of the passage, would be to say that it is the image of the beast which enforces the mark.

The first beast is a union of church and state. The second beast arises with neither crown nor worship initially, but later forms an image to the first beast. That is, the second beast has "lamb-like" or Christlike beginnings, but it ultimately becomes a church state power just like the first beast; in this manner making an image of the first beast.

It is then this church state union, or image to the beast, which enforces the mark of the first beast.

I recommend the following resource for more study into the details of this prophecy: https://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/study-guide/e/4998/t/the-usa-in-bible-prophecy

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No specific denomination was requested, but here is one interpretation.

The first beast of Revelation 13 represents a powerful political/military force, such as what the European Union is now becoming under Germany's leadership, and its extremely charismatic leader.

The second beast represents a powerful religious authority, such as a Pope, that is also extremely charismatic and supports this political power, encouraging everyone to go along with it. He appears like a lamb (Christ), but speaks like a dragon (Satan).

With each other's support, the two leaders become an unstoppable force, each one directed by Satan.

In Deuteronomy 6:8, the Israelites are told "And thou shalt bind them [God's words] for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.", which many Jews today take literally by actually tying tefillin to their heads and hands while praying.

But this directive, given by the second beast and enforced by the first, could also be considered metaphorically, with the head representing thought and the hand representing action (elsewhere "heart" is used to represent emotions and feelings).

The mark on the right hand or forehead need not be literal, any more than Deuteronomy 6:8 is. It could represent the way people are expected to think and act. People that don't behave in the prescribed manner will be shunned or persecuted by society. Some suggest that it might even be which day of the week one considers to be the day of rest.

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The mark of the beast is the antithesis of the mark placed on the elect Jews, chosen to be spared in the coming onslaught of the Romans:

[Ezekiel 9:1 KJV] He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. [Ezekiel 9:2 KJV] And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. [Ezekiel 9:3 KJV] And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; [Ezekiel 9:4 KJV] And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. [Ezekiel 9:5 KJV] And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: [Ezekiel 9:6 KJV] Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. [Ezekiel 9:7 KJV] And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. [Ezekiel 9:8 KJV] And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? [Ezekiel 9:9 KJV] Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not. [Ezekiel 9:10 KJV] And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. [Ezekiel 9:11 KJV] And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.

Whereas confession of allegiance is the mark of salvation, denial of Jesus as Christ and Lord is what allows you to buy and sell in Rome. The Roman official Pliny wrote to his fellow official for advice on how to handle Christians. He hated to see so many exemplary Romans being killed off simply because they won't deny Christ:

To Trajan.

It is my custom, Sir, to refer to you in all cases where I do not feel sure, for who can better direct my doubts or inform my ignorance? I have never been present at any legal examination of the Christians, and I do not know, therefore, what are the usual penalties passed upon them, or the limits of those penalties, or how searching an inquiry should be made. I have hesitated a great deal in considering whether any distinctions should be drawn according to the ages of the accused; whether the weak should be punished as severely as the more robust; whether if they renounce their faith they should be pardoned, or whether the man who has once been a Christian should gain nothing by recanting; whether the name itself, even though otherwise innocent of crime, should be punished, or only the crimes that gather round it.

In the meantime, this is the plan which I have adopted in the case of those Christians who have been brought before me. I ask them whether they are Christians; if they say yes, then I repeat the question a second and a third time, warning them of the penalties it entails, and if they still persist, I order them to be taken away to prison. For I do not doubt that, whatever the character of the crime may be which they confess, their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy certainly ought to be punished. * There were others who showed similar mad folly whom I reserved to be sent to Rome, as they were Roman citizens. ** Subsequently, as is usually the way, the very fact of my taking up this question led to a great increase of accusations, and a variety of cases were brought before me. A pamphlet was issued anonymously, containing the names of a number of people. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians and called upon the gods in the usual formula, reciting the words after me, those who offered incense and wine before your image, which I had given orders to be brought forward for this purpose, together with the statues of the deities - all such I considered should be discharged, especially as they cursed the name of Christ, which, it is said, those who are really Christians cannot be induced to do. Others, whose names were given me by an informer, first said that they were Christians and afterwards denied it, declaring that they had been but were so no longer, some of them having recanted many years before, and more than one so long as twenty years back. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the deities, and cursed the name of Christ. But they declared that the sum of their guilt or their error only amounted to this, that on a stated day they had been accustomed to meet before daybreak and to recite a hymn among themselves to Christ, as though he were a god, and that so far from binding themselves by oath to commit any crime, their oath was to abstain from theft, robbery, adultery, and from breach of faith, and not to deny trust money placed in their keeping when called upon to deliver it. When this ceremony was concluded, it had been their custom to depart and meet again to take food, but it was of no special character and quite harmless, and they had ceased this practice after the edict in which, in accordance with your orders, I had forbidden all secret societies. † I thought it the more necessary, therefore, to find out what truth there was in these statements by submitting two women, who were called deaconesses, to the torture, but I found nothing but a debased superstition carried to great lengths. So I postponed my examination, and immediately consulted you. The matter seems to me worthy of your consideration, especially as there are so many people involved in the danger. Many persons of all ages, and of both sexes alike, are being brought into peril of their lives by their accusers, and the process will go on. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only through the free cities, but into the villages and the rural districts, and yet it seems to me that it can be checked and set right. It is beyond doubt that the temples, which have been almost deserted, are beginning again to be thronged with worshippers, that the sacred rites which have for a long time been allowed to lapse are now being renewed, and that the food for the sacrificial victims is once more finding a sale, whereas, up to recently, a buyer was hardly to be found. From this it is easy to infer what vast numbers of people might be reclaimed, if only they were given an opportunity of repentance.

(*) Pliny leaves it unclear whether the Christians were accused of a specific crime; it seems that to confess to being Christian was considered sufficient proof of guilt.

(**) Except by special delegation of the Emperor's own legal powers, no provincial governor had power to inflict the death penalty on a Roman citizen, but must allow him to take his trial at Rome.

(†) Or 'political societies'. The same word {hetaeriae} is used in relation to a guild of firemen, in letter 34 of this book.

Note: The words "to prison" are not original. I think there is a strong case to be made that he meant, "to death".

The response Pliny received from his compatriot said that he was handling the situation as appropriate for Roman rule:

[97] L Trajan to Pliny.

You have adopted the proper course, my dear Pliny, in examining into the cases of those who have been denounced to you as Christians, for no hard and fast rule can be laid down to meet a question of such wide extent. The Christians are not to be hunted out ; if they are brought before you and the offence is proved, they are to be punished, but with this reservation - that if any one denies that he is a Christian and makes it clear that he is not, by offering prayers to our deities, then he is to be pardoned because of his recantation, however suspicious his past conduct may have been.** * But pamphlets published anonymously must not carry any weight whatever, no matter what the charge may be, for they are not only a precedent of the very worst type, but they are not in consonance with the spirit of our age.

(*) For an early Christian reaction to Trajan's decision, see Tertullian's 'Apology', chapter 2 (written in about 197 A.D.).

Is it not possible or even likely that the "mark of the beast" was denial of Christ?

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Who Causeth?

To simplify the question, "Who causeth all..." one merely has to look at the previous verses,

"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed".(Rev. 13:11-12)

The "one" doing the causing is the 2nd Beast; the image the 2nd Beast breathes 'life' into is also "caused" by him. Since he is the "motivator" of all that is happening, "he" is the subject of verses 11-16.

Identifying the Beast of the Earth

In deciphering who the "Beast of the Earth" is, we must review the 4 Basic Hermeneutics of eschatology: Preterist, Idealist, Historicist, and Futurist/Dispensationalist. Each one has a different answer, depending on which hermeneutic you use.

An Idealist view would state that there is no exact interpretation of a specific person or time, but a contest between the forces of darkness and light. Matthew Henry's Full Commentary likens this beast to Papal Authority, with the 2 horns being "ecclesial and secular". Of course there is no way to verify this, but if you accept the viewpoint that "Rome" is the 1st Beast, then you follow with the Roman Catholic Church as being the 2nd.

The Problem with this interpretation is with Rev. 17:8(KJV),

"The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition:"

Rome, the "kingdom" at the time of John, was NOT the Beast; the angel told John this truth. So any "Idealist" interpretation that would categorize that would be false.

The next view is more specific, but easier to refute: the Preterist Hermeneutic. To understand the Presterist Hermeneutic, you must agree that all(or almost all) prophecy was fulfilled by 70AD, the date of the Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Preterism is very clear about Nero Caesar as being the "Beast" but gets murky when describing the High Priest at the time of the Destruction of the Temple, as "The Beast of the Earth", as there is little historical validity to the claim, and furthermore, nothing "miraculous" is attributed to him.

The Main Objection to this Hermeneutic is John wrote Revelations in 95AD, so it would be antithetical to say in Rev. 1:1(KJV)," things which must shortly come to pass" They counter with numerous arguments, but church Historians, including Irenaeus, state John's exile at Patmos was during the time of Domitian (81-96AD), which was clearly after time of the Temple Destruction.

The next hermeneutic to review is the Futurist/Dispensational. The main consideration of this hermeneutic is it points to a "future" fulfillment of all prophetic activity, usually starting with Chapter 4 of Revelations, although Dispensationalists agree that the "man-child" of Rev. 12:5 is Christ; Futurists have another interpretation. Most Futurists/Dispensationalists concur that the "Beast of the Earth" is an unholy alliance between a world government leader(Antichrist), and apostate religious leader(False Prophet) who would seek to impose their will on mankind during the last 7 years before Christ's Return to Earth.

The vast majority identify the False Prophet as being the "Roman Catholic Church", in some future apostate role, and again, it can't be Rome as was pointed out with the Idealist Hermeneutic.

Historicist View

The last hermeneutic, the Historicist, is the one most fraught with danger, as it has been the most misused of all the hermeneutics. A Historicist View takes the entire view of history in looking for fulfillment of biblical prophecy; it sees direct fulfillment, unlike the Idealist View, and it isn't confined to the 70AD cutoff, like Preterism, or the last 7 years, like Futurism or Dispensationalism.

The most frequent cause of misuse is identifying the person of the Antichrist; Martin Luther, in 1519 he called Pope Leo X "the Antichrist", to which Pope Leo promptly repaid him his insult. Earlier, when the Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick II(1194-1250) rebuffed Pope Gregory IX's request for a Crusade, the later called him "Antichrist", and this title was carried on by Innocent IV, Gregory's successor. This caused Fredrick II to hire a theologian who proclaimed that "666 spelled the name of Innocent IV, and therefore there was no doubt that Innocent IV was the "true" Antichrist." Neither instances could be rightly claimed, however, as again, the Antichrist is not Roman.

The Historicist View takes in the full spectrum of history, and I believe, when rightly applied, provides the best Hermeneutic in understanding the text.

The word "causeth" appears in verses 12 and 16; in both instances it indicates a period of time rather than a precise moment of time, in which it would be virtually impossible to mark everyone on earth. This "causeth" explains how over a period of time the "Beast of the Earth" gets everyone to worship the Antichrist(willingly), and over a period of time gets everyone "marked", so that they can neither buy nor sell apart from their association with the Antichrist. Since Futurism "confines" this activity to the last 7 years(Dispensationalists claim the "elect" will be raptured, and therefore unaffected), it puts an extreme historical strain on society being in agreement and willingly yielding to a process which by the maximum can only last 7 years.

But what if the Antichrist "appears" earlier in time, and then the False Prophet makes his appearance also, with ample amount of time to "boil the frog"(ie: give society enough time to acquiesce the demands of the Beast and Antichrist). Life would be considered "normal" when it is every bit abnormal, but society is used to the transition, and doesn't oppose the gradual transition. This interpretation lies within the domains of Historicism, and in my view is the most accurate.

Translating the Symbolism

In order to correctly identify the "Beast of the Earth" we have to translate the Figurative language regarding it.

This "Beast" arises out of the earth, as opposed to the "sea", which we know is "peoples, multitudes, nations, tongues"(Rev. 17:15 KJV). Since the Context of the 1st Beast is Figurative, the Context of the 2nd Beast is also Figurative, meaning that this "Beast" doesn't literally arise out of the ground, but is associated with that which is empirical: or of the 5 Senses. It's "Dominion" comes this "empirical knowledge", or "earthly knowledge"which one may obtain by using their 5 senses(seeing, tasting, touching, feeling, smelling), in other words, measurable phenomenon, as opposed to "spiritual" phenomenon. It has 2 horns "like a lamb", meaning that it appears to be gentle and submissive in nature, yet "spoke as a dragon", which indicates his authority comes from Satan, and dare anyone resist or challenge it.

This Beast also works "miracles" in the sight of man, and "calling down fire from Heaven on the earth in the sight of man" is a direct reference to Elijah's "calling down fire from Heaven in the sight of men"(1 Kings 18:38, KJV),

Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

The "Fire from Heaven" is God's Apparent Approval, the "miracles" are seemingly only what God can do, and hold the people powerless in great amazement. Yet it is not in the "Power of God", but the "Power of Man" that these miracles are accomplished; therefore, he causes everyone NOT to worship him, but to worship the 1st Beast, the Antichrist, doing his "miracles" in the "Name" of the 1st Beast.

The 2nd Beast can rightly be called "Science", or "Science Falsely So Called". In 1 Tim. 6:20(KJV), it says,

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

In the Interlinear Version it says, "ἀντιθέσεις τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως", which can be translated as "antithesis of falsely called knowledge". This "knowledge" led to discoveries in every arena of man, yet their outcome is not a "Greater Worship of God", but "A greater worship of man". The Scientific Community 'appears' beneficial towards the cause of man, but approves abortion, euthanasia, medical research using live human subjects, stem-cell and genetic experimentation with live babies. We've all witnessed manned space flight; Neal Armstrong's Famous Saying, "One small step for man, one giant step for mankind". These things are done with God's Apparent Approval-yet God is never invoked, or involved in the decision.

Science "creates" the Modern Technological Society which we live in today, and we are all "REQUIRED BY LAW" to submit to the academic standards and knowledge base that scientists have established. It is a requirement for schools to teach "Evolution", it is against the Law in many states to teach "Creation". This same "science" has taught "Racial Purity" in Nazi Germany, 'Proletariat of the People" in Russia, China, and numerous other nations, and "Progressiveism" here, to the point where parents can have their children physically removed from them, if it is found they didn't have certain vaccinations. The "Knowledge" Science receives is from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; it may be beneficial, but in the end destructive, as only God knows what is truly good and evil.

Summary

The one who "causeth" is the 2nd Beast; the Beast of the Earth. Over Time he causeth all the Earth to worship the 1st Beast, the Antichrist. This 2nd Beast can rightly be called "Science", which takes the "miracles of Modern Man", making an 'image' called the "Modern Technological Society", and compelling all men to worship "Man as God", the Antichrist.

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Just another explanation of the passage, to add the previous, beautiful replies. Apocalypse is a live book, meaning that many of its parts are being fulfilled throughout history, until the time all of the book will be fulfilled and Messiah will come again. Adding to that, world rulers like Hitler, who we know was tattooing 666 on the forehead of people in concetration camps, we can see why every so often, more and more interpretations of the nature of beasts are arising, which are really good for the era they are created and until the passing of that era.

Following is my interpretation and I believe it is correct up to the point that this world remains the same to the end of days. The wornd "Name = Onoma" in Greek (and other ancient civilisations), is something that actually describes the properties of the barer. John insists that 666 is the name of the beast and it is actually not a parabolical name (onoma anthropou esti = human name it is), meaning that we will actually see and listen this name and that the barer (beast) will not be what it is without this name.

This name in our days, exists only because of consumism. We need it because we constantly keep consuming all the resources around us to the point we cannot find enough from local productions. It came up with the bar code since number 6 was the number that would create a 1 to be carried over on to the next scanned item or leave the number as it was if the addition of the binary numbers (bars) wouldn't go over 9. That was because IT specialists, wanted to use the minimum possible digits (memory was expensive during early days), which were 4,1111 going up to number 15, which is more than 9 (3 binary digits can go up to 8).Thus, the barcode back then, could not be suited with another binary number unless a lot of money would be invested to PCs, that would be used especially for scanning labels.

The next beast, is the so called false prophet. He makes all people, rich and poor, kings and slaves, to believe in the other beast the antichrist. Also, John constantly speaks about the image when ever he speaks about this beast. To me, this makes obvious that, in our current epoch and until things change, this kind of beast, that even predicted twin towers and Trumps election through false prophesies is, the screens. Computer screens, cinema screens, telephone screens, TV screens and all the industry behind them. The ones we use to learn, educate, find out about things that happened, happen or even will happen.

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