During three years of ministry in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul continually suffered persecution because of “the plots of the Jews” (Act 20:19); in describing his conflicts with them, he called them “wild beasts” (1 Cor. 15:32). The Jewish Beast was the early Church’s most deceptive and dangerous enemy. St. Paul strenuously warned the Church about Judaizers who propagated “Jewish myths”: “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Tit. 1:14, 16).
We are now in a position to attempt a more precise identification of the Image of the Beast, which is a continuation of the Satanic counterfeit, the demonic reversal of God’s order. Just as the Son of God is the Image of the Father (John 1:18; Col. 1:15), so the Church has been redemptively re-created as the Image of the Son (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). The vision of the prophetic, priestly, and dominical Church seen by St. John parallels that of the Lord Jesus Christ: Like her Lord, she is robed in glorious light (cf. 1:13-16; 10:1; 12:1; 19:6-8; 21:9-22:5). Assisting the Son in His work throughout Revelation are the Seven Stars/Angels of the Presence (8:2), led by the Holy Spirit (the Seven Spirits, connected with the angels in 3:1). The divine order is thus:
- Son (Image of the Father)
- Church (Image of the Son)
The Satanic parody of this is:
- Beast (Image of the Dragon)
- False Prophet
- Synagogue of Satan (Image of the Beast)
Throughout the Book of Revelation the Church speaks liturgically, and the angels then act in history to bind and loose by Trumpet and Chalice, bringing judgment on the disobedient; similarly, the Synagogue “speaks,” and the False Prophet brings its false judgments upon those who defy its authority. The Church has been resurrected, brought to life by the very Spirit/Breath of God (11:11; cf. Gen. 2:7; John 20:22); the Synagogue of Satan was animated by a spirit/breath as well (13:15). And, just as the Angel of God marked the foreheads of the righteous for protection (7:3), so the Beast’s “angel” stamped the wicked with its own branding mark of evil. The leaders of Israel worked to enforce worship, not of the true God, as in the Christian churches, but of the Synagogue itself – the Image of the Beast.