What is the Role of the False Prophet?


The Navarre Bible – NT Expanded Edition

The Beasts Given Authority by the Dragon

From the commentary in The Navarre Bible – NT Expanded Edition on Rev 13:1-10, The first beast (vv. 1-10), that rises out of the sea symbolizes political power taken to such an extreme that it supplants God; the second (vv. 13:11-18), that rises from out of the earth, symbolizes those who defend and propagate that deification of power by giving it an acceptable face.

From the commentary in the aforementioned NT Edition on Rev 13:11-18, the second beast is identified with false prophets (cf. 16:13; 19:20) because his role consists in leading people astray and convincing them to worship the first beast. The rest of the commentary reads as follows:

Because he has real (but evil) power, he is able to work prodigies similar to those performed by the prophets (e.g., Elijah, who brought fire down from heaven: cf. 1 Kings 18:38) and even appears to vie with the power of the life-giving Spirit by breathing life into the images of the beasts. He symbolizes regimes and ideologies that reject God and put man on a pedestal. Materialism, “understood as a theory which explains reality and accepted as the key principle of personal and social action”, works in the same deceptive way, for “though it sometimes also speaks of the ‘spirit’ and of ‘questions of the spirit’, as for example in the fields of culture or morality, it does so only insofar as it considers certain facts as derived from matter (epiphenomena), since according to this system matter is the one and only form of being. It follows, according to this interpretation, that religion can only be understood as a kind of ‘idealistic illusion’, to be fought with the most suitable means and methods according to circumstances of time and place, in order to eliminate it from society and from man’s very heart” (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, 56).