Revelation 13:8a All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast

Does this mean that no believers are alive at this occasion?

  • It is clear that in the book of Revelation (from 4:1 on) the 'inhabiters of the earth' are the 'earthy' people. The saints are seen as heavenly persons, whether they are still on earth or not. The woman clothed with the sun (typical of the Church) is seen nourished in the wilderness, not a part of the 'earthy' world. Elsewhere in scripture there are texts indicating those one earth who are the Lord's will be 'caught up' together with those he brings with him from heaven.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25, 2020 at 16:54
  • 1
    @NigelJ - I agree see my analysis below in my answer.
    – Dottard
    Aug 26, 2020 at 8:20
  • Rev 13:8 - All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names HAVE NOT been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.....So now you see Tony Chan,There are inhabitants of the earth who are not wicked because they have their name recorded in the Lambs book of life.Hope you understand my point.
    – Bagpipes
    Jan 11, 2021 at 15:36

4 Answers 4


The phrase in Revelation "Inhabiters/dwellers of the earth" occurs 11 times. The Greek phrase is: κατοικοῦντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς (or similar). The verb κατοικέω (the verb to dwell or inhabit) is interesting in its own right as this occurs 13 times in Revelation as I document below in bold:

  • Rev 2:13 - I know where you live, where the throne of Satan sits. Yet you have held fast to My name and have not denied your faith in Me, even in the day when My faithful witness Antipas was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
  • Rev 3:10 - Because you have kept My command to endure with patience, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
  • Rev 6:10 - And they cried out in a loud voice, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?”
  • Rev 8:13 - And as I observed, I heard an eagle flying overhead, calling in a loud voice, “Woe! Woe! Woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the remaining three angels!”
  • Rev 11:10 - And those who dwell on the earth will gloat over them, and will celebrate and send one another gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those dwelling on the earth.
  • Rev 13:8 - All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
  • Rev 13:12 - And this beast exercised all the authority of the first beast and caused the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed.
  • Rev 13:14 - Because of the signs it was given to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived those who dwell on the earth, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet had lived.
  • Rev 17:2 - with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and those dwelling on the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her sexual immorality."
  • Rev 17:8 - The beast that you saw—it was, and now is no more, but is about to come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. And those who dwell on the earth whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet will be.

It is immediately clear that "those who dwell on the earth" is consistently used to describe the wicked. Such "dwellers on the earth" live where Satan's throne is, have three woes pronounced against them, gloat because the righteous fall, they worship the beast and make an blasphemous image to the beast, etc.

Therefore, if "those who dwell on the earth" worship the beast, this is almost a tautology - only the wick will worship the beast and only the wicked are described as "dwellers on the earth".

Therefore, in answer to the OP's question, ALL the inhabitants of the earth, ie, the wicked, will worship the beast.

Note the verb to dwell, κατοικέω, acts as a direct literary counterpoint to the verb, σκηνόω, which always describes the dwelling (literally "tenting") of God or the dwelling of man with God (Rev 7:15, 12:12, 13:6, 21:3). But that is another discussion.

  • Good analysis of the idiom,leading to a sensible exegesis. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 26, 2020 at 8:29

There is a 1st-century cultural aspect to Revelation 13 and this passage in particular.

See Steven J. Friesen's Myth and Symbolic Resistance in Revelation 13 (Journal of Biblical Literature Summer, 2004, Vol. 123, No. 2, pp. 281-313).

The Roman emperors (Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Nero) would create propaganda artwork that would be saying in "art-speak" - "The whole earth worships the emperor."

There is a Greek word - Oikoumene - that describes this worldwide worship. This is where we get the word Ecumenical.

There is a piece of art you can see here called the Gemma Augustea You can see in the photo a woman (#3) - Oikoumene - the personification of the inhabited world - crowning Augustus. This is how you communicate worldwide worship.

At the city called Aphrodisias - not too far to the east of Ephesus - the museum contains multiple depictions of Roman Emperors declaring that the "whole earth" is worshiping them.

Here in Revelation 13 - John is symbolically speaking against the Roman Empire - likely Emperor Domitian. Notice who in Rev. 13:8 is worshiping the beast - those whose names "have not been written" in the book of life.

This is a direct attack on Rome and the 1st-century readers would have picked up on it immediately.

There is a great deal of archaeology that helps us understand the 1st-century culture of the book of Revelation. So much of what John is writing is communicated through cultural references that we often miss. Like this one.


In this passage as in all of Revelation the context is the Roman world, not the whole planet. The "beast" is the Roman military-industrial complex. When the war to which he refers (the Great Revolt of the Jews against Rome, Circa 70 AD) God takes credit for the Jews being utterly defeated, their temple and city destroyed by fire and the people put in utter subjugation or destroyed. No one can participate in Roman society ("buy or sell") without demonstrating subservience by sacrificing to the Emperor and any who refused was unceremoniously killed:

[Rev 13:7-8 NLT] (7) And the beast was allowed to wage war against God's holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. (8) And all the people who belong to this world (the Roman empire) worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made--the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered.

However, as soon as General Titus' armies arrived and began to surround the city of Jerusalem, God's holy ones, who had taken Jesus' warning in Luke 21 to heart, fled to the hills:

[Luk 21:20-24 NLT] (20) "And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. (21) Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. (22) For those will be days of God's vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. (23) How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. (24) They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.

The "period of the Gentiles" is the 3.5 year "trampling" of Jerusalem by General Titus and his army, in which there casualties of 1.1 million non-combatants. Others went into exile, losing their homes and livelihoods. And the temple was dismantled so that no stone was left upon another.

For more information, please see:



Rome's victory over Jerusalem

  • @Nigel, the idea that John was in exile under Domitian falls apart when the evidence is examined. The preface in the Syriac vs of Rev. dates the book to AD 68, & the internal evidence supports a date b4 the destruction of the temple, which was still standing (Rev. 11:1-2). Rob. Young's Analytical Concordance has "Sulpicius, Orosius, etc., stupidly mistaking Domitianou for Domitianikos, supposed Irenaeus to refer to Domitian, A.D. 95, and most succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder." They mixed up of Greek names for Nero and Domitian. See my post "Signs of Rev. Part I - ...
    – Gina
    Aug 26, 2020 at 11:34
  • cont'd... The Time of His Coming" shreddingtheveil.org/2017/02/23/…
    – Gina
    Aug 26, 2020 at 11:35
  • @Nigel - it is not my thesis, not an opinion. Kindly meant.
    – Gina
    Aug 26, 2020 at 11:40
  • @Nigel, I know it. But, scripture is the truth we stand by.
    – Gina
    Aug 26, 2020 at 12:11
  • @Gina The problem is that during the 1800s there were fundamental changes in how human history was viewed, how the history of creation was viewed how scripture manuscripts were viewed . . . . and all converged to fundamentally alter the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And now we have all that Paul warned us of : 'another gospel' an 'apostacy' a false church . . . . and all that was forewarned in Thessalonians and in the Revelation. So now , they have to wipe away the warnings of Revelation.as well, by denying they have any relevance to the present. That is why I resist it all.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 26, 2020 at 12:34

Prophetic language has a pattern. When the prophets were sent to a land or nation, the words "earth" and "heaven" took on a symbolic meaning for the people of that land.

"The Visions of Isaiah son of Amoz, that he hath seen concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, For Jehovah hath spoken: ..." (Isa. 1:1-2, YLT)

Isaiah was speaking to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, both to those of the land "earth", and to those who ruled in positions of authority "heaven".

"`Give ear, O heavens, and I speak; And thou dost hear, O earth, sayings of my mouth!" (Deu. 32:1, YLT)

Moses was relaying God's word to the people, the tribes in the wilderness. God was not speaking to himself, and Moses was not warning God. The word "heavens" were the rulers of each tribe, as well as the Levitical priesthood who had authority. The "earth" were the rest of the people under that tribal authority.

So, in prophesy "heavens" refer to those people in authority or rule over a nation or land to whom the prophet was sent, and "earth" refers to those people living in that land / territory.

The word "beast" in prophesy was a symbol of a tyrant king, or ruler who metaphorically "fed" off the people as a lion hunts and chases down the weak and the young. There are two beasts in Rev. 13: the sea beast - the ancient Roman empire, & thus its ruler - Caesar; and the land beast (vs.11) which had two horns.

Horns were specific rulers or kings. The land beast was Judea / Jerusalem with the high priest and the king, both of whom ruled over the Jews. The land beast /ruler was subject to the sea beast ruler - Caesar.

So, in Rev. 13, the "earth" of the sea beast was all the people of the Roman empire of the 1st century AD, and the "earth" of the land beast was in Judea which was under Roman occupation.

Rev. 13:8 in the YLT:

"And bow before it shall all who are dwelling upon the land, whose names have not been written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;"

All who were dwelling on the land under Roman rule, whose names were not written in the scroll / book of life - that is the converts to Christ - worshiped Caesar. The context of the prophesy was 1st century AD Roman empire, and the inhabitants of that empire's territory.

More scriptural evidence is presented in my posts "Heaven and Earth Have Passed Away" here, and "The Signs of Revelation - Part VIII: The New Heavens and New Earth" here.

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