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by Wayne Blank
Imperator was originally used in Republican Rome (up to 27 B.C.) as a title for a conquering military leader, however it was adopted by the Roman monarchy, beginning with Octavian (who defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.). Octavian is better known to Christians as Caesar Augustus - the Roman emperor who called that famous census that resulted in Jesus Christ being born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1). The term Caesar came to mean the same as emperor.
After the apparent "fall" of the Roman empire in 476 A.D. (it fell, but it didn't die - it was just wounded), the title of Imperator, or Emperor, was resurrected on Christmas Day in 800 A.D. when Pope Leo III crowned the Frankish/German ruler Charlemagne emperor of the western leg of the Roman empire. Two days earlier, Charlemagne had Leo restored to the papacy, after Leo had been deposed for adultery, perjury and simony, among other things (see Emperors and Popes). In effect, Charlemagne and Leo crowned each other.
The German title Kaiser is derived directly from the Roman title Caesar. Germans have played a major role in the history of Europe, and the cyclical "rise" and "fall" of the Roman empire. It was the Germanic warlord Odoacer that "wounded" the Roman political empire in 476; it was the Germanic Charlemagne that brought about the temporary revival of the title of emperor in 800; it was the German king Otto I who is regarded as the founder of the so-called "Holy Roman Empire" (which was actually officially called the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation") after Pope John XII crowned him in 962 (Otto's was the "First Reich," Otto von Bismarck's was the "Second Reich," and Adolf Hitler's was the "Third Reich"); and it was the German Roman Catholic priest Martin Luther that "wounded" the Roman church, and its version of Christianity, after 1517.
Although emperor has been used to designate other great political/military rulers in the world throughout history (e.g. in China, Japan, Ethiopia), the Roman and Germanic emperors are the ones that are directly referred to in Biblical prophecy, and of them, most particularly one end-time emperor is going to be the most wicked and powerful dictator of all time. The prophetic beast refers variously to either, or both, that emperor and his empire (see Birth Of A Superpower).
The thirteenth chapter of the book of Revelation is the account of two end-time world leaders, one a great political and military emperor, the other a great religious leader, who, while allied together, will conquer, or deceive into surrendering to them, most nations on earth. In the end, they will both be cast alive into the lake of fire by Jesus Christ when He returns.
The Satan-Empowered "Beast"
"And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth [see The Four Beasts]. And to it the dragon [see That Old Serpent] gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?" [see Daniel's Statue]
"And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His Name and His dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven." [see The Lawless One and The Antichrist]
Persecution Of True Christians
"Also it was allowed to make war on the saints [see What Is A Saint?] and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain."
"If any one has an ear, let him hear: If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if any one slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints."
A Great Religious Leader Who Will Deceive The World
"Then I saw another beast [see The Great False Prophet] which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men; and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived; and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name."
"This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six." (Revelation 13:1-18 RSV)
The Fate Of The "Beast" And His "Great False Prophet"
"And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against Him who sits upon the horse [see Two White Horses and The Return Of Jesus Christ] and against His army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. And the rest were slain by the sword of Him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from His mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh." (Revelation 19:19-21 RSV)
Fact Finder: How did Jesus Christ describe world events that would exist just before His return?