Did You See What He’s Doing in Revelation 13:14?

Sorry to keep piling on here, but I’m studying to preach Revelation 12 this Sunday and keep seeing things worth noting.

The claim has been made that the sense in which Satan is bound during the millennium is that he cannot deceive the nations. If that’s the case, I submit that Revelation 12 and 13 cannot be describing the same period of time that Revelation 20 describes, because in Revelation 12 and 13 Satan is deceiving the nations. I’ve noted some indications of this in the previous post, and here’s another:

Revelation 13:14, “and by the signs that it was allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived” (italics mine for emphasis; that word is in the text).

So Revelation 13:14 says that the dragon, beast, and false prophet (cf. 13:1-4; 16:13) are being allowed to do exactly what Satan is not allowed to do during the millennium according to Revelation 20:3.

I maintain that the amillennial position flattens out the imagery by claiming that different symbols all symbolize the same thing.


Filed under Bible and Theology, Biblical Theology, Current Events, Eschatology

28 responses to “Did You See What He’s Doing in Revelation 13:14?

  1. Dear Jim, thanks for a series of interesting posts. As you rightly pointed out, the devil was cast out from heaven and defeated when Christ died on the cross. But I think Rev 12 has also a future element in that when Satan is cast down to earth -woe to the earth’s dwellers for the devil is come down to you (12:12)and then at 12:18 or 13:1,the devil is said to stand on the sand of the sea, calling out the beast that ascends from the sea (13:1). The devil’s “short time” could be seen as a reference to the beast exercising the devil’s authority for 42 months (13:5) leading to the coming of Christ to establish his kingdom on earth for a 1,000 years. Thanks again. I have enjoyed your posts on the book of Revelation.

  2. I agree that Revelation 12-13 does not describe the same period of time as is described in Revelation 20, and I lean closer to amillennialism than premillennialism. I’m not sure that this claim (that they describe the same period) belongs to amillennialism. I think it would only be stated by one who is both an amillennialist and a historicist, such as Sam Storms. As far as I understand, an amillennialist who is also a partial-preterist would not say that.

    For the partial-preterist (who believes in an early date for the writing of the book of Revelation), Revelation 12-13 is dealing with the Jewish-Roman War which took place from 66-70 AD. For the amillennialist, Revelation 20 covers the Christian (or Church) age which began with Christ’s resurrection and continues until the present time. Thus a partial-preterist amillennialist does not see these two texts as covering the same time period.

  3. JD Collier

    A very interesting thread. I look forward to reading more on your site. I have written a poem to summarize the Book of Revelation and posted it on my site: biblepoetry.wordpress.com Click on “The Scroll”. May God continue to provide insight as we study His Word.

  4. rfwhite

    Can you tell us where in Rev 13 you find that the dragon is engaged in deceiving the nations?

    • The dragon summons the beast from the sea (12:17-13:1), then he gives his authority to the beast (13:2), then he fakes the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in the beast’s head that had a mortal wound and was healed (13:3), and then the dragon’s fake holy spirit, the false prophet, the third beast, deceives the nations (13:14). The dragon, the beast, and the false prophet are a united false trinity (cf. 16:13), so the false prophet’s deception is the dragon’s deception.


  5. justin s

    It was argued earlier by I believe DeYoung that Chapter 20 doesn’t chronologically follow 19 but that seems to be unsupportable when considering that Satan was only then, in Chapter 20, placed in the same place that the Beast and the False Prophet were placed earlier (19:20), and the chronology seems at least to be implied in 20:10. Am I understanding what he was trying to prove there?

  6. rfwhite

    Thanks for your comments. It is interesting, then, that the text nowhere attributes a word or a deed to the dragon himself after 13.4 until he re-emerges in the vision of 16.13, just before the descent of Christ. According to 12.12, after his expulsion from heaven upon the ascension of Christ, the dragon’s “time was short” on earth. “Short”? How so? After the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority to the beast in 13.3, we’re left in suspense: where was he to go so “shortly,” just after the Son’s ascension only to appear again just before His descent?

    • I think he has 42 months (cf. 13:5), but that 11:7-12 and 17:12 present his 42 months (3 1/2 yrs) in terms of 3 and 1/2 days and one hour.

      So he has the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, in my view, but I think John signals that his half of Daniel’s 70th week is shorter than the first half, in which the church is protected (all of church history until the final, intense period of persecution).



  7. JD Collier

    I don’t understand your last statement (all of church history until the final, intense period of persecution). Are you saying that all of church history comprise the 1st half of Daniels 70th week?

  8. JD Collier

    Maybe I’m reading too much between the lines. Perhaps you are saying that the church has been protected throughout history until the first half of Daniel’s 70th week (when Satan’s persecution becomes intense) and then we see Satan’s last 42 months. Am I doing better?

  9. stephen

    I have to say, thank you for so graciously fielding all of our questions, while teaching a full load, pastoring a church, and leading your family. Your clarity and grace is much appreciated. I am listening to your Revelation series at KBC, really enjoying it.

    Thanks again.

  10. JD Collier

    Isn’t that a bit inconsistent to make the first 42 months hundreds of years in length but the last 42 months literal?

    • JD, Thanks for your note. I go that way because I think it’s what John is saying . . . really the only group that is perfectly consistent is the pre-trib rapture crowd that see a literal seven years right before the millennium.

      All other interpretations see the 42 months as symbolizing different amounts of time, and the periods of time symbolized are not consistent for the first and second halfs of Daniel’s seventieth week.

      Does that make sense?


    • There is also an interpretation, held to by a number of Christian writers in Church history, which sees no gap whatsoever between Daniel’s 69th and 70th weeks. That view is equally consistent with the pre-trib rapture crowd in that it also holds to a literal seven years for the 70th week. The difference, according to this view, is that the final week took place in the first century. It encompassed the 3.5 years of Christ’s incarnational ministry, plus the next 3.5 years after His resurrection.

      Yes, this view means that the “he” of Daniel 9:27 is Jesus (not an Antichrist), the “covenant with many” is the New Covenant (cf. Matt. 26:28), and the “end to sacrifice and offering” was the types and shadows (e.g. burnt offerings, sin offerings, etc.) coming to an end because the ultimate sacrifice had come.

      As for the final 3.5 years of Daniel’s 70th week, in this view it was fulfilled by virtue of the fact that the gospel was preached almost exclusively to the Jews first, and this was the case for the first several years after Jesus ascended to the Father. The conversion of Cornelius marked the transition whereby the exclusive blessing upon Daniel’s people came to an end, and there was a radically different outlook in the gospel outreach of the early church as the gospel went forth also to the Gentiles (e.g. Acts 11:18).

      There are some, though, of a similar persuasion in Church history who have seen the final 3.5 years of Daniel’s 70th week as having been fulfilled during the Roman-Jewish War of 67-70 AD leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. These folks would see a gap of about one generation between the first and second halves of the 70th week, but they would still see that 70th week as lasting a literal seven years.

      If interested, more is written about all of this here:


      • mikebull1


        I subscribe to the last view – sort of. Christ’s forgiveness from the cross postponed the destruction. The four angels were told to wait.

        The entire process was repeated in AD64-70 after the completion of Herod’s Temple. This time it was a massacre of saints in the besieged city in the middle of the week as the desecrating sacrilege. After this, there were no more believers left in Sodom, and full desolation followed.


  11. Dr. Hamilton,

    I am just writing to clarify my understanding of your position. You are claiming that Revelation 20 cannot be the same period of time as Revelation 12-13 because in the former Satan cannot deceive the nations whereas in the latter “Satan is deceiving the nations.” Even you, however, would admit that Satan does in fact deceive the nations in Revelation 20…at the end of the millenium! And since you would concede this point, then it seems that your argument in this post loses force unless you can prove that the deceptive activity in Revelation 13:4 covers the majority of the church age prior to the final tribulation. For the amillenialist who is not a partial preterist would simply say that Rev 13:4 and the release of Satan at the end of the millenium speak of the final tribulation at the end of the church age. Help me see, then, why Satan’s deception of the nations at the end of the millenium and his deceptive work in 13:4 cannot simply be referring to the same period.


    Andy Barlow

    • Andrew, I see what you’re saying, but I think it simply does too much violence to the text by equating too many things that say different things. Consider these differences between Rev 12 and 20:

      Action – Rev 12, Satan cast down to earth; Rev 20, Satan bound and cast into a pit that is sealed Result – Rev 12, Satan has a little time and goes out to make war on the woman and her seed, then in ch. 13 he deceives the nations; Rev 20, Satan locked up for a thousand years and cannot deceive the nations Henchmen – Rev 12, Satan thrown down with all his angels; Rev 20, Satan alone is bound and cast into the pit Place – Rev 12, earth; Rev 20, pit

      Note also that in Rev 13:5 it says that the beast in Satan’s image has authority for 42 months. It seems to me that those who hold the amil view typically see that 42 months as the whole of the church age. So isn’t this difficult to square? Satan bound for the whole church age, but he also has authority (through the beast) for the whole church age? I think that is to equate symbols that John meant to differentiate.

      So I think the details in Rev 12 differ so greatly from the details in Rev 20 that the burden of proof is on those who would argue that John means for the two chapters to be describing the same thing.



  12. “Note also that in Rev 13:5 it says that the beast in Satan’s image has authority for 42 months. It seems to me that those who hold the amil view typically see that 42 months as the whole of the church age.”

    Again, I think that only an amillennialist who is at the same time a Historicist (or an Idealist) would say this. Many partial-preterists would see the 42 months as fulfilled when Nero persecuted believers from November 64 AD – June 68 AD (when he committed suicide). There are plenty of partial-preterists who at the same time are amillennialists.

  13. Thanks Jim for these posts.
    (Thanks also for your very helpful reflections on your first pastorate. This was very encouraging to me 18 months into life at Twynholm. Praying the Lord would make me more prayerful.)
    As a fairly convinced amillennialist I’m interested in your comparison between the two texts, seeing deception in Revelation 12-13 and no deception in 20.
    My own reading is that the deception of the nations is exactly what comes to an end with the finished work of Christ (not without exception, but without the Jew/Gentile distinction that existed before the coming of Christ).
    Since Babel the nations have been deceived, and only through coming through Israel is there enlightenment in the Old Testament (focused on the temple in Jerusalem… I think someone’s written a good book about that!).
    With the coming of Christ (and the Spirit) Babel is reversed (Acts 2) worship in delocalised (John 4) and repentance is granted to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11)
    Jesus himself says that unless the strong man is bound, there can be no freedom.(Matt 12)
    So I think that you are being a little harsh on the amillennialist. We don’t believe that Satan deceives nobody in the church age, but that the nations are not deceived as a whole. I’d suggest that we are paying very careful attention to the text, and particularly the force of the word “Nations”.

    • Mike, Thanks for your kind note and encouraging words.

      On Rev 20, it looks to me like the kind of thing that Satan was doing in Rev 12-13 is stopped altogether.

      Great to hear from you!


      • Thanks Jim,
        Yes, you argue very well the case that all deception has stopped; if people are wanting to think the issue through and hear the premil position argued for well, these posts would be a great place to start. Revelation 20:3 is of course your best verse if you are going to be premil. I would argue though that it’s your best verse in the same way that 1 John 2:2 is the best verse for a general atonement. Looks like a slam dunk case on a first reading (or, as a Brit I ought to say a plumb LBW decision).

        I’m just wondering though that, given the huge emphasis on the breaking down of the Jew/Gentile distinction in the New Testament, that you could not at least understand why an amil reader would see it entirely consistent to describe such a cataclysmic change in terms as radical as the chaining of Satan so that he would no longer deceive the nations?
        Grace and peace,
        Your brother,

      • Mike, I understand what you’re saying, but I think it’s wrong!

        The reason is that Revelation 13:7 says this of Satan’s beast: “and authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation.”

        So I think that when you read Rev 13, you see that Satan’s beast has Satan’s own authority (cf. 13:2) over the nations. Then in Rev 20 all that authority is stripped away from him.

        Making that say the same thing is more than I’m interested in trying to do,


      • Thanks Jim, very helpful exchange. I’ve Linked to it on my blog especially since we had a brother preach on Rev 20:3 last Sunday evening – will give the congregation another perspective to consider.
        With love, Mike

  14. Dear Mr Hamilton

    I enjoyed your exchange at John Piper’s table.

    I’m a moderate preterist, but I think you are spot on with these being different events.

    After the ascension of Christ (Rev 4-5), I believe Revelation shows the spiritual side of the battle begun in the book of Acts. Paul is building a Jew-Gentile Tabernacle, and after Satan is thrown down he takes up residence in Herod’s Temple and begins building a counterfeit – a Jew-Gentile Tabernacle, the ‘Land’ beast and ‘Sea’ beast united: the harlot of corrupt Judaism and the political power of Rome. The image of the beast is, antitypologically, a golden calf, and a serpent that talks with the eyes and mouth of a man. The Herodian line is thus the man of sin sitting in the Temple as a self-styled Solomon. Christ judged him in AD70.

    Just as Christ made one new man out of Jew and Gentile, so Satan was building a fake ‘totus Christus.’ But to understand these events we have to go back to Genesis:

    Adam sinned in the Garden. Cain murdered his brother in the Land. The sons of God committed “harlotry” in the world.
    Christ defeated Satan in the Garden. Revelation, I believe, is about the Herodian “Cainites” murdering their brothers in the Land (the word “earth” throughout Revelation should be translated Land). After being used to purify the church throughout the first century (false doctrine and persecution), Satan is finally bound after the destruction of the Temple. The Old Covenant martyrs and New Covenant apostles are resurrected -becoming the governing “walls and gates” of a New Jerusalem. The millennium is therefore the gospel age.

    At the end of this age, what does Satan do when he is released? He starts building another body – a “Magog.” This time it concerns not the Land but the World. His conspiracy once again brings about a battle resulting in a resurrection – the second resurrection, and the final judgment. Satan will then have been cast out of Garden, Land and World, or Most Holy, Holy and outer courts.

    I realise this is counter to what you believe, but I do agree that you are right in maintaining that Satan’s deception in Rev 13 is contrary to Rev 20 and therefore a different event.

    This position is outlined in a series of lectures by James B. Jordan.

    Kind regards,
    Mike Bull

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