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Particulars of Christianity:
314 End Times Prophecy (Eschatology)

Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 17 (Part 2)

Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 17 (Part 1)
Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 17 (Part 2)
Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 17 (Part 3)
Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 17 (Part 4)
Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 17 (Part 5)
Prophetic Symbols: Revelation 17 (Part 6)

Articles 7-12
Articles 13-18
Articles 19-25
Articles 26-29

Of the greatest significance to a proper interpretation of Revelation 17 is the question, what kind of entity can go down into the bottomless pit and then ascend? This cannot be a description of a man or an empire, but must be an angelic being. This would make complete sense with what we have depicted in Daniel 10:13, 20 where Daniel describes the angelic princes who ruled over Persia and Greece. Likewise, in Daniel 9:26 we find a depiction of the Roman angelic prince in the phrase, "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." The Romans besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in 70 AD. The "prince that shall come" is the angelic ruler over them.

We have in Revelation 17, the description that one of these angelic princes is put down in the bottomless pit after his initial rule over an empire and then later released to rule the restoration of that empire. And besides those reasons, which we've already established there are several other reasons, which corroborate that the angelic prince who is released is the Roman prince.

The first occurrence of the phrase "beast out of the bottomless pit" comes in Revelation 11. Chapter 11:7 tells us that the two witnesses are killed by "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit." Therefore, Revelation 17:8 and 11 are not the first references that we have to this beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit.

Unless there is some other reference to a beast ascending out of the bottomless pit before chapter 11:7, this verse would be the first mention of the beast out of the bottomless pit found in Revelation. If there has been no mention of the beast out of the pit up until this point, then the brief mention of such a beast in chapter 11:7 could possibly confuse the audience because it would assert that the two witnesses are killed by a figure who has never before been revealed or explained to them. While this does not necessitate that there would be some prior mention of this beast, it does hint that there would be.

Before we look for a possible prior mention of this beast somewhere else in Revelation prior to chapter 11, let's review a few things that chapter 17 says about this beast.

Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition:

Revelation 11:7 the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

Chapter 17 also goes on in verse 11 to say of this beast:

Revelation 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

So, this beast not only ascends out of the bottomless pit, but he is also a king. The word for king in Revelation 17:11 is the Greek word "basileus" (Strong's No. 935.)

In both Revelation 11:7 and 17:8 we see that this beast is identified by the phrase "that ascends out of the bottomless pit." So, since this beast is identified by the fact that he ascends out of the bottomless pit, if we could find some place in Revelation prior to chapter 11:7 where a being is described ascending out of the bottomless pit, that might be very helpful. And, in fact, we can.

Revelation 9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

In Revelation 9:1, the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, signifying the beginning of the first woe. When the fifth trumpet/first woe comes, an angel falls from heaven and opens the bottomless pit. Then verse 3 describes a multitude of creatures, referred to as locusts, ascending out of the bottomless pit. Well, so far this sounds promising but despite the mention of the multitude of locusts, we do not yet have a clear description of a singular figure such as the beast. So, let's keep going.

Revelation 9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

Verse 11 tells us that these locusts have a king over them. The Greek word for "king" in verse 11 is the same word that is used in chapter 17:10-11 to describe the beast out of the bottomless pit (as the "eighth" king.) In fact, Revelation 9:11 even tells us who this "king" of the locusts is. He is the angel of the bottomless pit, and his name (or title) is Abaddon in the Hebrew and Apollyon in the Greek, both of which mean "destroyer."

So, Revelation 17:8-11 talk about the beast who ascends out of the pit as an eighth king. Revelation 11:7 says the beast out of the pit will kill the two witnesses. And Revelation 9:1-11 describes locusts being let out of the bottomless pit who have a king over them who is the angel of the bottomless pit. Since this description of the angelic king who is over the locusts and who ascends out of the bottomless pit occurs before both Revelation 11 and Revelation 17, we must assume that Revelation 11 and 17 are referring back to this angelic king and providing further descriptions of him and his activities. So, this angelic king of Revelation 9 is the very same as the beast out of the bottomless pit who kills the two witnesses in chapter 11 and who is described as the eighth king who is one of the seven kings in chapter 17.

Now, not only do we have a formal introduction of this angelic king, this beast out of the bottomless pit, which comes as a description of his arising out of the pit in chapter 9, but we also know his name or title.

Revelation 9:11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

There are several ways that this name or title helps to connect this king or beast out of the pit with Rome. First, the name "Apollyon" is the Greek word "Apolluon" (Strong's No. 623), which means destroyer. Likewise, the Hebrew name "Abaddon" (Strong's No. 3) means "destruction." Both of these names refer to the destructive nature and activity of this angelic being. In fact, this angelic being is known so much by his destructive ways that "destruction" and "destroyer" have been given to him as a name or title.

So, it is not surprising that we find this description in Daniel 9:26.

Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Here in Daniel 9, Daniel speaks of a prince that shall come. And Daniel describes the people of that prince. Now, his description of this prince and his people is brief, but the one thing that Daniel does mention is that this prince and the people he rules over will destroy the city of Jerusalem and the sanctuary. As we have already noted, this was carried out by the Romans in 70 AD. So, even as early as this prophecy in Daniel 9:26 we see the angelic prince over the Romans being associated with his destructive activities. So, there is good reason why Revelation 9:11 refers to the Roman angelic prince as the destroyer (Abaddon and Apollyon) given that it was the Roman angelic prince who is said to be behind the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

Second, the name Apollyon (which is Apolluon in the Greek) is also connected to Paul's words in 2 Thessalonian 2:1-4.

2 Thessalonian 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Here in 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul is describing some of the events that must take place before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together with him. One of the things that Paul lists is that the "son of perdition" must come and be revealed first. From Paul's description of this man's activities, we know that the son of perdition is the same as the antichrist depicted in Revelation 13 and 17. Consider the following passages from Daniel and Revelation side by side.

Revelation 13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Daniel 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things...20 And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. 21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;...24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. 25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Daniel 8:8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. 9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. 10 And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. 11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down...24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. 25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.

Daniel 11:31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. 32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. 33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. 34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. 35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. 36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done...44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

Both of these passages, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13, are at least partially derived from Daniel 7, 8, and 9, where we find the original descriptions of this man and his activities. Notice all the things that these passages have in common.

The phrases "mouth speaking great things" or "speaking great things" appears in Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 twice. The idea of "blaspheming" God or speaking words "against God" is also found in both Revelation 13 and Daniel 7. Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 also have in common the designation of a three and a half year period of time. The notion of warring with and overcoming the saints occurs in Revelation 13, Daniel 7, Daniel 8, and Daniel 11. Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 both use the symbolic description of "a little horn."

The taking away of the daily sacrifice is mentioned in both Daniel 8 and 11, which is related to 2 Thessalonians 2 where Paul describes the son of perdition entering the temple and setting himself up there to be worshipped. If there is a Jewish temple for the son of perdition to enter into, then there would be Jewish sacrifices being offered in that temple, which could not and would not be offered by the Jews so long as a man was polluting the temple by taking up residence there and exalting himself above God. And lastly, the notion of "magnifying himself" above all gods or above the true God himself is mentioned twice in Daniel 8 as well as one time in Daniel 11 and one time by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 with regard to the son of perdition.

So, through these similarities, we can see that the man Paul describes as the "son of perdition" is really the same man described in Daniel 8 and 11, who seizes control of the Temple and takes away the daily sacrifice and who magnifies himself there above even God himself. And from the similarities that Daniel 8 and 11 share with Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, where we see this same figure described as a little horn and a mouth speaking great things who makes war against the saints for three and a half years, we know that the son of perdition is the very same man depicted in Revelation 13 as well. Therefore, we can conclude that the term "son of perdition" as used by Paul is simply another phrase used to describe the antichrist.

Related Images

Figure 1.1
This animated sequence
illustrates how the term
"beast" can focus in on
1 of 3 distinct aspects
of the same overall entity.
1.) The seven-headed empire system
2.) The revived head
or revived empire
3.) The 8th king who becomes head of both.

Historic Map Series
(Maps 1-12)

Relevant Maps

Lexicon Excerpts

Comparison Chart

7 Heads of the
Beast Chart

Illustrations of
Symbols Series
(Illustrations 1-7)

Correspondence of
Visions Diagram