Chapter 12 concludes with a “war” on “the remnant” of the good “woman” representing the true church. That “war” began when “the beast” ascended “out of the [metaphoric] bottomless pit”  representing post probationary time (see Revelation 11:7). Why are they called “the remnant of her seed?” Probably because they, through the providence of God, were spared the martyrdom, depicted in the fifth seal scenario (Revelation 6:9-11), one of the very last events to occur in world history just before the close of probation.
Therefore, the “flood” that was “cast out of the mouth” of the “dragon” (Revelation 12:15) takes place during the post probationary first six trumpet scenarios (Revelation 8:7-9:21; 11:7-13). While the events related therein seem, in many ways, to depict Satan warring against his own followers, while sparing the Saints, this chapter begins by taking us back, retrospectively, to events that began during probationary time, and ends with a preview of the great “test that the people of God must have before they are sealed.”  At that time, many of the saints will not survive (see Revelation 6:11, and 20:4), but their blood will become seed to yield a great harvest of souls for God’s kingdom.
Verse 1: And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
According to the Commentary “Textual evidence favors the reading ‘and he stood.’” In that case “’he’ would refer to the dragon [Revelation 12:3-9, 12-17], who stands upon the seashore awaiting the emergence of the beast, whom it is his purpose to invest with his power and authority.”  With that understanding a close connection becomes apparent between Revelation 12:17 and the first verse of this chapter because this sea beast is the primary agent through whom the dragon made “war with the remnant of [the woman’s] seed.”
The previous “beast” ascended “out of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 11:7) which was “the angel of the bottomless pit,” named Abaddon or Apollyon (Revelation 9:11). This beast arises from the “sea” and is a dangerous animal, “venomous, and wild” , in contrast to the “four beasts” (Revelation 4:6) which are tame, living creatures.  The dragon gave this beast “his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Verse 2), making it anything but tame!
The dragon is more than a passive onlooker as he invests the sea beast with his own characteristics, as suggested by the dragon and the sea beast both having “seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 12:3; 13:1). But there are two notable differences. While the dragon had seven crowns on his heads, this sea beast has “upon his horns ten crowns” while “upon his heads” were “the name of blasphemy.” No such name is attached to the dragon. That suggests the dragon invested the sea beast with a hypocritical, religious mindset he himself did not share. Therefore, the sea beast becomes, as it were, the chief member of the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9) who hypocritically claim to be “Jews.”
Previous to the demonic creation of this beast, the dragon’s agent of oppression was pagan Rome by which Satan endeavored to “devour” the “man child” (Revelation 12:4). Although the child escaped, Satan continued, for more than 500 years (31 to 538 A.D), to use pagan Rome, represented by the single headed “fourth beast” (Daniel 7:7), in his attempt to destroy Christianity. Therefore, there was a “gap” between the escape of the “child” (Verse 5) and the fleeing of the “woman . . . into the wilderness” (Verse 6). 
Pagan Rome failed to fulfill the dragon’s intention to exterminate God’s people. They held fast to their faith, regardless of consequences. Instead of intimidating them, their “blood” became “seed” to yield and even greater harvest of souls for God. As one martyr was noted to say: ‘The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.’” 
Consequently, the dragon was forced to use a different approach. Thus, we see the arrival of a different multiheaded “beast” coming “up out of the sea.” That “sea,” in contrast to the “sea” from which the “fourth beast” arose, which was troubled by “the four winds of the heaven” which “strove” upon it (Daniel 7:2), appears untroubled, even calm.  This is significant because it parallels the arrival of the “vile person” who came “in peaceably, and obtain[ed] the kingdom by flatteries” (Daniel 11:21) instead of armed conquest.
While the significance of the seven heads (explained later in chapter 17), and the “ten horns” (also explained later in chapter 18) is somewhat ambiguous at this point, the “name of blasphemy” on its seven “heads” is readily understandable as the hypocritical, slanderous attempt by the papacy to usurp the prerogatives of God in heaven.
In contrast, the single headed “fourth beast” was unhypocritically pagan. It denied the existence of the true God altogether, and worshiped idols and even emperors themselves as “Gods.” Although the “fourth beast” also ruled in religious matters, religion, to it, was only secondary to its primary ambition—that of retaining political power. In contrast, religion, in the mind of the sea beast, was primary. Dominance in civil matters, was only a means to an end.
Verse 2: And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Even though the dragon was the beast’s designer, he did not wish it to be readily identified as his creation. Although it features the characteristics of the leopard, bear, and lion, it was colorless, unlike the dragon which is “red” (Revelation 12:3). Such an omission suggests the devil’s attempt to disguise the beast’s true identity in order to snare the unwary.
While the “fourth beast” of Daniel 7 was unlike any other animal Daniel had ever seen, this one that John saw, bore similarities to all three of the animals Daniel had seen, except for the fourth. Its primary characteristic, listed first, is likened to a leopard, noted for swiftness, stealth and secrecy, much like the “vile person” who came in peaceably, and obtain[ed] the kingdom by flatteries” (Daniel 11:21).
Its bear-like “feet” suggest the “wonderfully” destructive “power” of the “king of fierce countenance” (Daniel 8:23, 24). Then, its lion-like “mouth” is like the “mouth” of the “little horn” power who “magnified himself even to the prince of the host”[Daniel 8:11] and “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” (Daniel 7:25) merely because he had “a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8) that intimidated people who believed what he said, instead of what God said.
The primary source of its power was “the dragon,” namely “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan” (Revelation 12:9). The dragon, in a secondary sense, is also a symbol of pagan Rome  that, in turn is represented by the “fourth beast” of Daniel 7:7, 19, 23. Therefore, John’s “sea beast” has characteristics similar to all four of Daniel’s beasts. Little wonder this “compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in . . . a masterpiece of Satan’s power, ―a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.” 
Verse 3: And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
Interestingly, the number of heads possessed by Daniel’s four beasts amounts to seven,  the same number possessed by this “sea beast.” Even though only one was “wounded to death,” we are not told which, probably because it does not matter. Consequently, this implies that the “sea beast” is indestructible by any human means. It is only when “the judgment shall sit” that “his dominion” will be taken away “to consume and to destroy it unto the end” (Daniel 7:26) or when “his body [is] destroyed, and given to the burning flame” (Daniel 7:11) by God Himself. Then, “he shall be broken without hand” (Daniel 8:25) and “come to his end, and none shall help him” (Daniel 11:45). Therefore, his existence will continue until it is destroyed along with the other nations when “the stone [that] was cut out of the mountain without hands” strikes the “great image” of Daniel 2 on its “feet” at the very end of time.
In the meantime, “his deadly wound was healed.” That is exactly what happened to the “vile person” after being destroyed by “they that [fed] of the portion of his meat.” Miraculously, he returned “into his land . . . to his own land” after being “grieved” by “the ships of Chittim” and finally having “intelligence with them that for[sook] the holy covenant.” (Daniel 11:21-30).
“The infliction of the deadly wound points to the downfall of the papacy in 1798. After this, says the prophet, ‘His deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.’ Paul states plainly that the man of sin will continue until the second advent. To the very close of time he will carry forward his work of deception.” 
Verse 4: And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
In verse 3, “all the world wondered after the beast,” or held it in admiration.  While the twice used pronoun “they” is still indicative of the “world,” the objects of worship, can be understood in two ways. It can be read as those who “worshipped the dragon” AND “the beast,” or, those who “worshipped the dragon” OR “the beast.” In the first instance, those who worship “the beast,” also, inadvertently, worshipped “the dragon.” In the second, it can be understood as “all the world” either worshipped  the “beast” OR the “dragon.”
The definition of “dragon” worship is paganism. The definition of “beast” worship is cultism, the worship of a man in place of God. Either way, it is the “dragon” that gets worshipped, not God. The pagan adherents of the dragon “worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk” and see virtue in “murders . . . sorceries . . . fornication” and “thefts” (Revelation 9:20, 21).  They are represented by the “pale horse” icon whose “name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him” (Revelation 6:8). Those who “worshipped the beast” are members of “the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews and are not but do lie” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).  They are represented by the red horse icon whose rider takes “peace from the earth, and” they “kill one another” (Revelation 6:4). Therefore, both parties represented by the pale and red horses “worship the dragon” ―the pagan, overtly, and the false professors, inadvertently.
Why do the worshipers of the “beast,” ask “Who is like . . . the beast? and “who is able to make war with him? Evidently, because of a possible threat. This implies that that the “beast” power has become a superpower politically and militarily, and none dare oppose it.
Verse 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.
This is still the “beast” power, who, when he was just “another little horn,” had “eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8) but, his “look was more stout than his fellows” (Daniel 7:20). Even though his “power” was “mighty,” it was “not . . . his own power” (Daniel 8:24), rather, by virtue of his big “mouth” and “stout . . . look” he intimidated other powers causing them to fight his battles which made him very “strong with a small people” (Daniel 11:23).
Because of all those parallels in the book of Daniel, there is little question this “beast” represents the papacy. And, we are told, “power was given . . . him to continue forty and two months,” the same terminology used in Revelation 11:2, denoting the time “the holy city” is “tread under foot forty and two months” which amounts to the same 1260 of Revelation 12:6, 14; 11:2, 3; Daniel 12:7 and 7:25.
Those, coupled with the final “week” of Daniel 9:27, where the Messiah was crucified “in the midst of the week,” make a total of nine 1260s. “Some prophecies God has repeated, thus showing that importance must be given to them. The Lord does not repeat things that are of no great consequence.”  Therefore, those 1260s must bear “great consequence,” more even than that of the 2300 “days” of Daniel 8:14, mentioned only once.
Based on their contexts, we found that the 1260 of Daniel 7:25 refers to the historic Dark Age, while that of Daniel 12:7 is future. In that case, the second part of the final “week” of Daniel 9:27 must also bear a future connotation. Then, the context of the two 1260s of Revelation 11:2, 3 suggests a double application to history and to the future. In Revelation 12:6, the 1260 pertains to the historic Dark Age, while the 1260 of Revelation 12:14 is clearly future.
But, how about the “forty and two months” of this verse, where “power was given [the beast] to continue forty and two months?” Note, in verse 3, that the “deadly wound was healed.” That sets the context for the following verses, including the forty-two months of this verse. Therefore, this “forty and two months” is future, even though a double application is likely. 
Check out this quote: “In the last days Satan will appear as an angel of light, with great power and heavenly glory, and claim to be the Lord of the whole earth. He will declare that the Sabbath has been changed from the seventh to the first day of the week; and as Lord of the first day of the week he will present this spurious Sabbath as a test of loyalty to him. Then will take place the final fulfillment of the Revelator’s prophecy. [Rev. 13:4-18, quoted.]”  Note the clause “final fulfillment” suggesting a double or dual application to history as well as the future.  Note also “Satan” appearing “as an angel of light . . .” ― “Wormwood!”
A complement to that quote is as follows: “The sabbath question will be the issue in the great conflict in which all the world will act a part [Rev. 13:4-8, quoted]. This entire chapter is a revelation of what will surely take place. [Rev. 13:11, 15-17, quoted.]”  But keep in mind that this future time prophecy must be understood as “indefinite time” and cannot be used to establish a definite date for its fulfillment.
Verse 6: And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
Here, the “beast” speaks in the “name of blasphemy” seen written “upon his heads” in verse 1. It is the same “blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9). He is “that man of sin . . . the son of perdition; 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” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4). He is the “vile person” (Daniel 11:21) who “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” (Daniel 11:36) after “he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people . . .” (Daniel 12:7).
Them “that dwell in heaven” are “the holy people” (Daniel 8:24) who are able to “rejoice” even while “Woe” befalls “the inhabiters of the earth” from Satan because “he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12).
Verse 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.
The “language here is almost identical with that in Dan. 7:21, ‘The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them’”  just before “the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints” (Daniel 7:22) which is the investigative judgment scene (Daniel 7:9, 10, 13). Therefore, that “war with the saints” took place during the Dark Ages of history. But, according to verse 3 of this chapter, this “war” takes place after the “deadly wound was healed.” Therefore, we are looking at some things that have not yet happened, even though there are obvious similarities to the historic Dark Age. Consequently, Daniel 12:7, where the “vile person” “shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people,” appears to be a more complete parallel to this future “war with the saints” who will again be “overcome” in the future Dark Age.
The “power” that “was given” the beast “over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” “applies to the heyday of the papacy” which, according to the Commentary was “perhaps during the Middle Ages, when it exercised almost undisputed sway over Europe, but especially when, in the future, the power of the papacy will be more fully revived.” 
In Daniel 11:33 a scenario will take place after the “vile person” has “intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant” and then proceeds to “place the abomination that maketh desolate” (Verses 30, 31). Then those “that understand among the people [the “saints”] . . . shall fall by the sword, and by flame, and by captivity, and by spoil, many days.” The post probationary extension to that probationary scenario is found in Revelation 11:7 where the final “war” was waged against the “two witnesses” (after “they shall have finished their testimony”) by “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit” during post probationary time.
Then, the “two witnesses” were “overcome . . . and kill[ed]” with “their dead bodies” being left “in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8), during the three and a half day victory celebration (Revelation 11:10, 11), the final “heyday” for the beast’s followers. Then, there was “a great earthquake” in which “seven thousand” of those men “were slain” spreading terror throughout the ranks of the “remnant” (Revelation 11:13) of the beast’s followers.
Verse 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.
Although verse 4 appears to depict two camps of Satan worshipers, inclusive of those who worship the “dragon,” while others worship the “beast,” they really comprise only one camp, because all worship the “dragon” which gave the “beast” “his power . . . seat and great authority” (Verse 2). Only those “whose names are . . . in the book of life” will be spared, because Jesus promised: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5).
Therefore, two camps will stand out in this contest, the disloyal followers of the dragon, who, spiritually speaking, “dwell upon the earth” permanently, and the loyal follows of Christ who, spiritually speaking, “dwell in heaven” (Verse 6). They “keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17) who is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
The “book of life” (mentioned seven times Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27 and 22:19) is not the absolutely comprehensive “book” depicted eight times in Revelation 5, which contains the name “of all ruling powers in the nations . . . from the beginning of earth’s history to its close.”  Although everyone whose “names [were] written in the book of life” were members of the human race on the earth, they dwelt in heaven spiritually when they accepted Jesus Christ, who made sure their names were transferred from the book of records to the book of life.
Even though Jesus was slain on the cross in 31 A.D., some 4,000+ years after creation, this verse seems to say He was crucified at the time “the foundation  of the world” was laid. What it means is that “the great plan of redemption was laid [even] before the foundation of the world.”  “Therefore redemption was not an afterthought―a plan formulated after the fall of Adam―but an eternal purpose to be wrought out for the blessing not only of this atom of a world but for the good of all the worlds which God has created.” 
Verse 9: If any man have an ear, let him hear.
This is the eighth and last time this phrase is found in the book of Revelation. The previous seven pertain to the seven churches of chapters 2 and 3, with the last directed to “the church of the Laodiceans” who felt themselves “rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” making them fair game for the dragon’s deceptions in the form of the “beast” whose “deadly wound was healed.”
He, we are warned, was “given . . . to make war with the saints, and to overcome them” suggesting the self-righteous Laodiceans will be “overcome” unless willing to be “tried in the fire” of affliction. If they will have their “eyes anointed with eyesalve,” they will be enabled to “see” many things in their character that must be corrected, in addition to what Jesus wants them to understand about the wiles of the “beast.”
Verse 10: He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
According to the Commentary:  “A partial fulfillment of this may be seen in the capture and exile of the pope in 1798,” implying that the complete fulfillment is yet future. That brings to mind that “This entire chapter is a revelation of what will surely take place.”  Even though its “deadly wound” is well on the way to complete healing, “his body [will yet be] destroyed, and given to the burning flame” even while “the rest of the beasts” will live on “for a season and time” (Daniel 7:11, 12).
Verse 11: 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.
“Another beast” suggests this to be the successor of the other who rose “up out of the sea” (Verse 1). But this “beast,” in contrast to all the other beasts of Daniel and Revelation, comes “up out of the earth.” Since the “sea” represents “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Revelation 17:15), the “earth” must represent “territory previously unoccupied, . . .”  It, like the first beast, came up gradually, but its “two” crownless lamb-like “horns” are in distinct contrast to the “ten” crowned “horns” of the sea beast. Furthermore, we can assume this earth beast has only one head, unlike the sea beast which has “seven.” The “horns” of both beasts represent their power and authority. While the crowned horns of the sea beast suggest the power and authority of worldly rulers who value these things for their own sake, irrespective of the needs of the people under their dominion, the lamb-like horns of the earth beast suggest its power and authority is beneficent and attuned to the wellbeing of its subjects.
White puts it this way: “The ‘‘two horns like a lamb’ well represent the character of the United States Government, as expressed in its two fundamental principles, Republicanism and Protestantism. . . . Those who first found an asylum on the shores of America rejoiced that they had reached a country free from the arrogant claims of popery and the tyranny of kingly rule. They determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty.” 
The separation of church and state is a freedom we have now been enjoying as a nation for more than 230 years. That seems like a long time to us, but, far shorter than the 1,500-year life span of the sea beast whose “heads,” being covered with “the name of blasphemy” (verse 1), detests the separation of church and state.
Unfortunately, the earth beast’s mouth utters the words of “a dragon,” the same animal that gave the sea beast its “power . . . seat, and great authority” (verse 2), which do not harmonize with the beneficence of its lamb-like horns. Such disharmony implies it will violate the principles represented by its horns, the greatest of which is the separation of church and state. Putting it in plain words: “When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.” 
This is the same scenario where the “vile person” (represented by the sea beast) “shall . . . return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant” (Daniel 11:21, 30). The foresakers can be seen to be represented by the earth beast, and the “holy covenant,” the sacred principles of Protestantism.
Verse 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.
The “first beast” is the sea beast (Verses 1-10). It is represented repeatedly in the book of Daniel by the “little horn” (Daniel 7:8 and 8:9), the “king of fierce countenance” (Daniel 8:23), and the “vile person” (Daniel 11:21). But there is only one parallel to the “earth beast.” It is “them that forsake the holy covenant” (Daniel 11:30). It is with them that the sea beast’s parallel, the “vile person” (Daniel 11:21-45), has “intelligence.”
Together with the “arms,” representing the military might of the foresakers, “they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily . . . and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 11:31). That confederation between the “vile person” and the foresakers will bring the healing of the “deadly wound” the sea beast (“vile person”) suffered (Daniel 11:26).
Note that the “earth,” including all “which dwell therein,” is predicted to “worship the first beast.” While “earth” (Verse 11) denotes the place of the earth beast’s origin, “earth” in this context depicts “all the world” (Verse 3), not just the United States.
Looking further, this governmental betrayal of its trust will be the signal that “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them which dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10), will have arrived. It will also be the time when the “fifth seal” (Revelation 6:9-11), representing the “test that the people of God must have before they are sealed,” has been “opened.” Therefore, America, controlled by “them that forsake the holy covenant,” will become Satan’s primary tool in committing “the abomination that maketh desolate” (see Daniel 11:30, 31 and 12:11).
How is it possible that our nation, that prides itself for being the great protector of civil and religious freedom, become guilty of such a crime? The next verse tells us how it will happen.
Verse 13: And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
This verse, and the following, depict the activities of the promoters of sea beast worship. They will be obliged to stage spectacular demonstrations of some kind in order to win support from a reluctant populace who would distain having religion forced upon them. Only time will reveal the sequence of events and movements that will lead up to the actual implementation of sea beast worship. But these “great wonders” with actual “fire” coming “down from heaven” at the literal command of its promoters will not fail to dazzle the senses and benumb the questioning mind.
The pronoun “he” in this verse is indicative of some of the things the “earth beast” magicians will perform. Such a fiery scenario will be much like that conducted by Elijah who, bidden by God, gathered the people on mount Carmel, challenging them to worship “the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. . . .Then the fire of the Lord fell. . . . And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is God; the Lord he is God” (1 Kings 18:24, 38, 40). In that case, God was the source of the “fire.” In this case, Satan will be the source, even though, from all unaided sensory evidence, it will look like an act of God.
Good counsel is found in these words: “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures, and who have received the love of the truth, will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all, the testing time will come. . . . Are the people of God now so firmly established upon his Word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible, and the Bible only?” 
Verse 14: And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
Note the words, “he had power to do,” suggesting these miracles will not be fake―but real. “No mere impostures are here foretold. Men are deceived by the miracles which Satan’s agents have power to do, not which they pretend to do.”  Therefore the “fire” depicted in the previous verse must be just as real as the fire of the LORD in Elijah’s time.
Doubtless, these wonders will be subjected to intense, scientific scrutiny in an attempt to prove them a fake, but will, instead, prove them to be genuine. Consequently, all “them that dwell on the earth” will be deceived into believing this to be a manifestation of God Himself, little knowing it lays the groundwork for the greatest deception of all time when “Wormwood,” the false Christ, will make his appearance soon after the close of probation. The similarity of these fiery miracles to Elijah’s is inescapable, and we can be assured the agents of Satan will capitalize on that, making it almost certain that those who believe all miracles are from God will be deceived.
The comprehension of John’s vision in the book of Revelation is designed specifically to be a shield against these deceptive counterfeits of Satan. “Why, then, this widespread ignorance concerning an important part of Holy Writ? Why this general reluctance to investigate its teachings? It is the result of astudied effort of the prince of darkness to conceal from men that which reveals his deceptions. For this reason, Christ the Revelator, foreseeing the warfare that would be waged against the study of the Revelation, pronounced a blessing upon all who should read, hear, and observe the words of the prophecy.”  While to the world, the teachings of the book of Revelation are “mystical and unintelligible,” the saints know they are “definite.”  They comprise a clear, reliable guide that will take them through the confusing mysteries of the future time of trouble just before them.
“Heretofore those who presented the truths of the third angel’s message have often been regarded as mere alarmists. Their predictions that religious intolerance would gain control in the United States, that church and state would unite to persecute those who keep the commandments of God, have been pronounced groundless and absurd. It has been confidently declared that this land could never become other than what it has been, ―the defender of religious freedom. But as the question of enforcing Sunday observance is widely agitated, the event so long doubted and disbelieved is seen to be approaching, and the third message will produce an effect which it could not have had before.” 
Evidently, the “great wonders” and “miracles” depicted will be preceded by a “grass roots” movement insisting that a religious law be instituted. Such a law will be tantamount to repudiating the first amendment of the Constitution that says: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That suggests those who favor such a movement will feel threatened by those who wish to insure “the free exercise” of religion, a polarity in the political spectrum that the founding fathers of our government wished to prevent at all cost. The only possible way to prevent such a development is the separation of church and state.
Verse 15: And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
With “he,” being the “earth beast” representing the United States, giving “life” to “the image” must represent a legislative mandate requiring capital punishment for refusing to worship in the manner dictated. That will be an “establishment of religion,” an act forbidden by the first amendment of the Constitution. It will be a renunciation of all that the forefathers of this marvelous country stood for. They wanted nothing more but to worship, or not to worship, in a manner according to the conscience of each person individually.
Instead of restoring the country to its former times of peace and prosperity, where people work together in unity, “The people for whom God has so marvelously wrought, strengthening them to throw off the galling yoke of popery, will by a national act give vigor to the corrupt faith of Rome, and thus arouse the tyranny which only waits for a touch to start again into cruelty and despotism. With rapid steps are we already approaching this period. When Protestant churches shall seek the support of the secular power, thus following the example of that apostate church, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution, then will there be a national apostasy which will end only in national ruin.” 
John saw “the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands . . ..” (Revelation 20:4) Those future “souls” are depicted (Revelation 6:11) as the “fellowservants . . . and their brethren, that should be killed” just as were “the souls of them that were slain” (Verse 9) back in history, that John heard crying loudly: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Verse 10). In other words, they were asking how long it was going to be until the investigative judgment, depicted in chapter 5, turned from the dead to the living.  Then “white robes,” representing Christ’s righteousness, were “given unto every one of” the dead martyrs of history, including Abel, the very first martyr, and they were told to “rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants” will have been “killed as they were.”
By that time, every principle of the Constitution shall have been repudiated  because, like any system of laws and regulations, if one link is broken, the whole system collapses. That will bring “the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed.”  Whether they live or die, all will be faced with the specter of execution at the hands of a government that once protected their rights. But there is a silver lining to the black cloud of oppression portrayed in these verses. While earthly authorities will condemn them and commit them to the headsmen’s axe, God will reward them by having them reign with Him for “a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4).
Another aspect of the earth beast’s “power to give life unto the image of the beast” should be considered. The word “life” is from the Greek word “pneuma,”  often translated “spirit,” either holy or evil. In this case, it clearly represents an evil spirit, the institution of Spiritualism.
“Spiritualism is about to take the world captive. There are many who think that Spiritualism is upheld through trickery and imposture; but this is far from the truth. Superhuman power is working in a variety of ways, and few have any idea as to what will be the manifestations of Spiritualism in the future.”  So, “Spiritualism” will be the source of power for the “miracles which” the earth beast will have “power to do” (Verse 14).
This all takes place during, what we can call, the preliminary time of the “fifth seal.” It begins with the union of the “earth beast” and the “sea beast.” That union is consummated by “Spiritualism.” Then, “under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its constitution as a Protestant and republican government . . . then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.”  It seems clear “that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it is to be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided.” 
Verse 16: And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
This is the first of the eight times a “mark” is depicted in the book of Revelation.  It will give objective evidence that the bearer has complied with the earth beast’s demand to worship the “sea beast” whose “deadly wound was healed.” Since all, “both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond” are required to receive it, there will be no neutral ground. All will be under this obligation called “the abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 11:31 and 12:11).
A quick review of verses 12-15 depicts the miraculous means by which the “image” becomes an established fact in the minds of all earth dwellers, regardless of social status. The “miracles,” spoken of, will produce something like a mass hysteria, crying for an identification “mark” to facilitate the distinction between all who refuse compliance and those who comply. It will be introduced first in America where “rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand . . .”  for the “mark.” Evidently, the American “public” will be more than ready for the government to repudiate one of the most important restrictions mandated by the first amendment of the Constitution, stipulating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . .” As a result, the “free exercise” of religion will be prohibited, “the freedom of speech” abridged and even “the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” will be compromised. Therefore, this “mark,” characterizing the speech of “a dragon” (see verse 11), will be a devastating blow to the integrity of the entire Constitution.
What is the “mark?” Going back to the book of Daniel, we have already found that the parallel to the “sea beast” is the “vile person” (Daniel 11:21). He, together with “them that forsake the holy covenant,” represented by the two horned “beast” (Revelation 13:11), “place the abomination that maketh desolate” (see Daniel 11:30, 31). We also found that the “vile person” is parallel to the “little horn” and the “king of fierce countenance” (Daniel 7:8, 8:9 and 23-25) who “shall also stand up against the Prince of princes” (Daniel 8:25) by changing the “times and laws” of God (Daniel 7:25), particularly the fourth commandment, by instituting Sunday worship. 
Therefore, the “mark” coincides with “the abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 11:31 and 12:11) and will subject “the people that do know their God” to “sword . . . flame . . . captivity, and spoil, many days” (Daniel 11:32, 33). Nevertheless, “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days,” sometime after “the abomination that maketh desolate [is] set up” (Daniel 12:11, 12).
The significance of the mark’s placement on forehead or hand, represents two kinds of worshippers. The “forehead” worshippers are the “hard core” variety, those who are committed soul and body to the ideals of the “sea beast.” The “hand” worshippers comply with the demands of the earth beast simply for reasons of expediency, while they might really abhor it. The metaphor could be extrapolated further to represent the “hand” worshippers who simply “wondered after the beast” (Verse 3), and the “head” worshippers” as those who “worship the beast” (Verse 4). The “forehead” worshippers are also represented by the “red horse” and the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 6:4; 2:9; 3:9). The “hand” worshipers could be represented by the “pale horse” who worship like “that woman Jezebel” who “repented not” (Revelation 2:20, 21) but really have little use for the “sea beast.”
Verse 17: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Economic sanction (or boycott) is often employed as an alternative to open warfare by one nation against another to force compliance, but, it has never been used against individuals because of the logistical difficulties associated with individual identification. But, today, with the advancement in technology, that difficulty no longer exists. It only awaits the consensus of the populace to believe the false assumption that God would be pleased with forced compliance.
That consensus, urged by the “dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected.” 
Therefore, the legislators and politicians themselves will not share the greatest blame for this abomination. Rather, it will be a manifestation of the “basic impulse” of the “religious zealot and the theocrat” who will move the people to adopt their viewpoint because of the perceived threat from “the totalitarian atheist” who aspire “to a society in which the exercise of religion has no place.”  The delicate balance between the “establishment” and the “free exercise” clause of the first amendment of the Constitution will, evidently, be swung totally in favor of the “establishment” clause.
Note the relationship between the “mark, name” and “number” suggesting all are one and the same. 
Verse 18: Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Compare “Here is wisdom” with “the phrase, ‘here is the mind which hath wisdom’ (ch. 17:9)”  where the angel tells John that “the seven heads” of the “scarlet coloured beast,” are “seven mountains,” the same “heads” depicted on the “sea beast” in this chapter. Therefore, both sets of “seven heads” must represent “seven mountains.” Taking that a step further, there must be a very close association between the “sea beast” and the “scarlet coloured beast” (Revelation 17:3) that carries the corrupt “woman.” 
Although White says nothing about “666,” the Commentary presents a very good, common sense discussion. Among the points discussed, it suggests that “an interpretation that gained currency in the period following the Reformation was that 666 stood for Vicarius Filii Dei, meaning ‘vicar of the Son of God,’ one of the titles for the pope of Rome. The numerical value of the component letters of this title totals 666 . . . Whether the inscription Vicarius Filii Dei appears on the tiara or the miter is really beside the point. The title is admittedly applied to the pope, and this is sufficient for the purposes of prophecy.”  
Another explanation, based on the context, not only of chapter 13, but also chapter 16, could be adopted. Although I have no “textual evidence” to cite for the possible omission of the indefinite article “a” in “the number of a man,” if the omission were allowed it would read: “for it is the number of man” suggesting the cultic mentality  of the “sea beast” which is probably the most powerful cult in the world, in view of the excessive admiration, even adoration of the pope.
As noted in our discussion under verse 17, where “the mark, name” and “number” of the beast indicate “degrees of affiliation,” with the “number” 666 representing the most profound affiliation, the three “6’s” could well represent the cult of the “threefold union”  of Catholicism, affiliated with apostate Protestantism and Spiritualism. Just such a cult is spelled out in Revelation 16:13, 14 where John “saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [Spiritualism], and out of the mouth of the beast [Catholicism], and out of the mouth of the false prophet [apostate Protestantism]. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty,” the very same scenario depicted in chapter 13. (bold supplied) Consequently, the numbers “666” could very well represent the “false trinity” that is rapidly taking shape right now before our very eyes!
Summary of chapter 13: The end of chapter 12 left us with the “remnant” of the good woman’s “seed” being pursued “into the wilderness” at the time of the future Dark Age where she will be “nourished” for 1260 days or 3 1/2 years “from the face [or literal presence] of the” devil. This chapter provides the background for that last day scenario, telling us how and why such a development will transpire. Its basic structure rests on two symbolic beasts, one from the “sea,” the other from the “earth.” While the sea beast receives its power and authority from the dragon, causing “all the world to wonder;” the earth beast, who has lamb-like horns, yet speaks like a dragon in opposition to its horns, suggests ambivalence of character. There is a striking parallel to this confederacy in Daniel 11:30 and 31 where the “vile person” shall “have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant” which the earth beast once held sacred. Together “they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength . . . and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” Clearly, that “abomination” is parallel to the “mark” and “image to the beast” depicted in this chapter. Requiring all to worship that image on pain of economic sanction, and even death, we see here to be the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed. This is the same scenario already briefly referred to under the fifth seal (Revelation 6:9-11) where the martyrs of history were instructed to “rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
 Note that the metaphoric “bottomless pit” is depicted seven times in Revelation 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3.
For a definition, some rely heavily on this quote: “That the expression, ‘bottomless pit,’ represents the earth in a state of confusion and darkness, is evident from other scriptures. Concerning the condition of the earth ‘in the beginning,’ the Bible record says that it ‘was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.’ Prophecy teaches that it will be brought back, partially at least, to this condition. . . . Here is to be the home of Satan with his evil angels for a thousand years.” (Great Controversy pages 658, 659) That definition is well suited for Revelation 20:1, 3 where Satan and his angels roam the earth alone for a millennium without any living human beings to tempt or molest on the earth. But that definition does not satisfy what we find in Revelation 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7 and 17:8 where the wicked are still alive! For example, in Revelation 9:4-6, “those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” live in agonizing pain for “five months” and long for “death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them,” after Abaddon, who was “given the key of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:1, 2, 11), had opened it. With these factors in mind, it would appear that in these texts the “bottomless pit” is a metaphor for post probationary time, the events that follow the casting down of the censer (Revelation 8:5) and the release of the “four winds of the earth” (Revelation 7:1).
 “This is the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed. All who prove their loyalty to God by observing his law, and refusing to accept a spurious Sabbath, will rank under the banner of the Lord God Jehovah, and will receive the seal of the living God. Those who yield the truth of heavenly origin and accept the Sunday Sabbath, will receive the mark of the beast.” (1888 Materials by E.G. White, page 701; Manuscript Releases by E.G. White, Vol. 15, page 15; Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol.7, page 976)
 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, page 816 (right column under “1. And I stood.”)
 from “therion” (Strong’s #2342) KJV – beast 42, wild beast 3, venomous beast 1; 46, 1) an animal, 2) a wild animal, wild beast, beast, 3) metaph. a brutal, bestial man, savage, ferocious”
 from “zoon” (Strong’s #2226) “a live thing, i.e. an animal”
 As noted in our study of chapter 12, the 500+ years, after the “man child . . . was caught up unto God,” does not include the “war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian era” when “the Roman empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion,” was represented by “the dragon” which, “primarily, represents Satan,” but, “in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome.” (The Great Controversy by E.G. White, page 438) So, in this study, it is well to revert back to the book of Daniel to fill in the 500-year gap.
 Ibid, selected portions from pages 39 to 43, chapter title: “Persecution In the First Centuries”
 Note: this “beast” merely arose “up out of the sea” which we can assume was undisturbed.
 The Great Controversy by E.G, White, page 438; also,Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, page 817 (left column 6th paragraph)
 Ibid, page 50
 the “lion = 1 head; the “bear” = 1 head; the “leopard” = 4 heads; the “fourth beast” = 1 head = 7 heads.
 The Great Controversy by E.G, White, page 579
 “wondered” from: “thaumazo” (Strong’s #2296) “wonder at, marvel, to be had in admiration”
 “worshipped” from: “proskuneo” (Strong’s #4352) “To kiss the hand to [towards] one, in token of reverence, fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; kneeling or prostration to do homage or make obeisance” etc.
 The refusal to “repent” is a feature of their pagan religion like that of Jezebel, for example in Revelation 2:20, 21 who “repented not.”
 Paul says: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly . . . But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28, 29)
 Manuscript Releases by E.G, White, Vol. 9, page 7 and Vol. 8, page 413
 Please remember, all these future time periods must be considered “indefinite time.” White used the term “definite time” repeatedly in her writings [more than 80 times according to the CDROM]. Careful examination will prove that “definite time” means “time setting.” So, while the evidence for a future application of these time periods is nearly overwhelming, we will be unable to set a date for their beginnings, which are, most likely, sometime after the close of probation when the trumpet scenarios commence.
 Manuscript Releases by E.G. White, Vol. 19, page 282
 Also, note this quote which should not be forgotten: “’Power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.’ And, says the prophet, ‘I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death.’ And again, ‘He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.’ The forty and two months are the same as the ‘time and times and the dividing of time,’ three years and a half, or 1260 days, of Daniel 7, ―the time during which the papal power was to oppress God’s people. This period, as stated in preceding chapters, began with the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time, the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, ‘He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity.’” (The Great Controversy by E.G White, page 439) That statement lumps Revelation 13:5, 10; 11:2, 3; and Daniel 7:25 all together in the past. But, in light of her other statements, already referred to, we must acknowledge that the future applications also receive full support from her. If we can find it in our hearts to accept that concept, it will clarify many difficult, even impossible, exegetical problems in the understanding of Daniel and Revelation that have faced our church for more than a century!
 Manuscript Releases by E.G. White, Vol. 19, page 182 and SDA Bible Commentary Vol.7, page 979
 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, page 819 (top left column)
 Ibid (under “Over all kindreds.”)
 see Manuscript Releases by E.G. White, Vol. 20, page 197; Vol. 12, page 296; Vol. 9, page 7
 “foundation” from: “katabole” (Strong’s #2602) “a throwing or laying down”
 Signs of the Times 12-23-97 (italics & brackets supplied)
 Signs of the Times 4-25-92 (italics supplied)
 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, page 819 (top right column)
 Manuscript Releases by E.G. White, Vol. 19, page 182 (italics supplied)
 Spirit of Prophecy by E.G. White, Vol. 4, page 277 (bracket supplied)
 Signs of the Times, 11-1-99
 Testimonies for the Church by E.G. White, Vol. 5 page 451
 Ibid, page 553
 Ibid, pages 341, 342 (here is the context of this quote) “―many refuse to heed the warnings and instructions contained in the Revelation; none of these can claim the blessing promised. All who ridicule the subjects of the prophecy, and mock at the symbols here solemnly given, all who refuse to reform their lives, and prepare for the coming of the Son of man, will be unblest. . . . In view of the testimony of Inspiration, how dare men teach that the Revelation is a mystery, beyond the reach of human understanding? It is a mystery revealed, a book opened. The study of the Revelation directs the mind to the prophecies of Daniel, and both present most important instruction, given of God to men, concerning events to take place at the close of this world’s history. . . . To John were opened scenes of deep and thrilling interest in the experience of the church. He saw the position, dangers, conflicts, and final deliverance of the people of God. He records the closing messages which are to ripen the harvest of the earth, either as sheaves for the heavenly garner or as fagots for the fires of destruction. Subjects of vast importance were revealed to him, especially for the last church, that those who should turn from error to truth might be instructed concerning the perils and conflicts before them. None need be in darkness in regard to what is coming upon the earth.”
 see Manuscript Releases by E.G. White, Vol. 9, pages 7, 8
 The Great Controversy by E.G. White, page 605
 The Spirit of Prophecy by E.G. White, Vol. 4, page 410
 “Several times during the past winter [1888-89.] I have met the report that, during the Conference at Minneapolis, ‘Sister White was shown that the judgment, which since 1844 had been passing upon the righteous dead, had now begun upon the living.’ This report is not true. A similar rumor, which has been afloat for about two years, originated in this wise: In a letter written from Basel, Switzerland, to a minister in California I made a remark substantially as follows: ‘The judgment has been over forty years in progress on the cases of the dead, and we know not how soon it will pass to the cases of the living.’ The letter was read to different persons, and careless hearers reported what they thought they heard. Thus the matter started. The report from Minneapolis arose from someone’s misunderstanding of a statement to the same effect as the one quoted from the letter. There is no other foundation for either report than this.” (1888 Materials by E.G. White, page 326; Testimonies for the Church by E.G. White, Vol. 5, page 692)
“When speaking to congregations, there is always before me the final judgment, . . .This is not the judgment of one person, nor of a nation, but of a whole world of intelligent beings, of all orders, of all characters. The judgment takes place first upon the dead, then upon the living, then the whole universe will be assembled to hear the sentence. (Letter 109, to Brother Moon, November 29, 1898, par. 9)
“We are living in the great antitypical day of atonement. . . and the judgment of the righteous dead has been going on almost forty years. How soon the cases of the living will come in review before this tribunal we know not; but we do know that we are living in the closing scenes of earth’s history, standing, as it were, on the very borders of the eternal world.” (Signs of the Times 5-29-84)
“In 1844 our great High Priest entered the most holy place of the heavenly Sanctuary, to begin the work of the investigative Judgment. The cases of the righteous dead have been passing in review before God. When that work shall be completed, judgment is to be pronounced upon the living.” (Review and Herald 3-22-87, Underlining supplied for all of above.)
 see Testimonies for the Church by E.G. White, Vol. 5, page 451
 Manuscript Releases by E.G. White, Vol. 15, page 15; also 1888 Materials by E.G. White, page 701; Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, page 976; Maranatha by E.G. White, page 164
 “life” from “pneuma” (Strong’s #4151) “Spirit” x 111; “Holy Ghost” x 89; “Spirit (of God)” x 13; “Spirit (of the Lord)” x 5; (My) Spirit” x 3; “Spirit (of truth)” x 3; “Spirit (of Christ)” x 2; “human (spirit) x 49: (evil) spirit” x 47; “spirit (general)” x 26”; etc.
 Signs of the Time 5-28-94 Par. 3
 Testimonies for the Church by E.G. White, Vol. 5, page 451 (italics supplied)
 1888 Materials by E.G. White, page 700
 They are all found in Revelation 12:16, 17; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20 and 20:4
 The Great Controversy by E.G. White, page 592. I omitted the rest of the sentence in order to emphasize the fact that legislators, who will be well aware that such a thing would violate the Constitution, will cave in to pressure from the public.
 “The church, on the other hand, after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath, or seventh day of the week, to the first, made the Third Commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord’s Day.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, “The Ten Commandments”)
 Op Cit.
 Phraseology taken from a statement made by Sandra Day O’Connor, who once said: “The religious zealot and the theocrat frighten us in part because we understand only too well their basic impulse. No less frightening is the totalitarian atheist who aspires to a society in which the exercise of religion has no place.”
 The Commentary has a note on the second clause of this verse: “Or the name of the beast.” It suggests: “Important textual evidence may be cited for the omission of the word ‘or.’” If that were the case, it would read “the mark, that is, the name of the beast.” But, the Commentary goes on to say that the “word ‘or,’ however, appears in . . . the oldest extant Greek manuscript of Revelation, and may well have been in the autograph copy. If so, the phrases ‘the mark,’ ‘the name of the beast,’ ‘the number of his name,’ being connected by ‘or,’ may indicate degrees of affiliation with the beast or his image. God condemns any degree of association” (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, pages 822, 823 (bottom right column to top of left [ellipse supplied]). I consider the later assumption to be the most reliable with “the number of his name” depicting the most profound association. The next verse has more to say about that “number.”
 Ibid, page 823 (left column under “18. Here is wisdom.”)
 Note Revelation 17:7 where the “scarlet coloured beast” carries the “woman.”
 from the Online computer Lexicon
 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, page 823 (left column under “Understanding.”)
 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, pages 823, 824 (bottom of left column to top of right then the final sentence left column on the next page)
 Recently, Dr. Samuel Bacchiocchi, who was trained in the Pontifical Gregorian University, posits no such wording (“Vicarius Filii Dei”) was ever found in the pope’s crown. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicarius_Filii_Dei
 According to the dictionary, one definition of a “cult” is the “extreme or excessive admiration for a person, philosophy of life, or activity.” In this case it would be the “extreme or excessive admiration” of the pope instead of God, or Jesus Christ.
 The term “threefold union” is used in this passage: ” The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of Spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.” (The Great Controversy by E.G. White, page 588)