Lou: You spoke about the last sentence in the third angel’s message (Rev 14:12). Is that really part of the message? The punctuation seems a bit ambiguous.
Graham: Most commentators believe verse twelve is included in the third angel’s message, even though in most translations the quotation marks close with verse eleven. But the message of the third angel is so fearsome, it calls for the endurance of the saints. Perhaps verse twelve is a response to all three messages, but it especially responds to that dreadful number three.
Lou: I’m concerned about the wording of verse twelve because it has been a favorite of mine for many years. In the New International Version it talks about “remaining faithful to Jesus.” The King James, which I learned many years ago, talks about “having the faith of Jesus.” How do we interpret that phrase?
Graham: Well, it’s a technical thing, but the Greek can be translated “faith in Jesus” or “the faith that Jesus had.” And that’s why some versions go one way and some go the other, and none of them are consistent in the way they translate it from one place to another.
Lou: How do you make that kind of choice as a Greek scholar?
Graham: Well, the context will sometimes indicate. At other times, the context makes no difference either way. In this case, Revelation 13 talks of those who are loyal to the adversary, and Revelation 14 talks of those who are loyal to the true Christ. So in Revelation 14:12 I like the translation “faithful to Jesus.” But suppose it’s the other way. “The saints are those who have a faith in God such as Jesus did” or, “The saints are those who trust in Jesus.” Either way we come to exactly the same conclusion. So it really makes no difference. If I were to create my own version, though, I’d put it, “Remain loyal to, or trust in, Jesus.”
Lou: There’s another word in there: “Here is the patience of the saints” (KJV). Other translations say: “Here is the endurance of the saints” (RSV, ESV). And still others have “patient endurance” (NIV).
Graham: That last phrase is an interesting combination of patience and endurance. One possible translation is “patience,” as in “I am patiently waiting for the Lord to come; don’t disturb me.” The underlying Greek word means “remaining under,” as if you were pushing something or carrying a heavy burden. You put your shoulder to the wheel, you stay under, and you shove with all your might. That’s the root word here. “Endurance” is a better English translation. But the New International is even better, “This calls for patient endurance.” That’s really bridging both ideas. Patient endurance isn’t easy.
Lou: It strikes me that this phrase is comparable to our colloquial expression today, “hanging in there.”
Graham: That’s true.
Lou: The third angel’s message refers to a “mark of the beast” (Rev 14:9, see also 13:15-17). Many Christians put a lot of emphasis upon the mark of the beast. It seems to be very important to the message. So what is it?
Graham: Well, since dreadful things happen to those who have the mark, we had better know something about it. There are many, many different answers to your question. We will go into this in more detail in the next chapter, when we talk about Satan’s final effort to deceive. In a nutshell, earlier in the book of Revelation it talks about God’s loyal people having a seal (Rev 7:1-4). It seems they have some mark of loyalty and trust. The mark of the beast seems to be comparable to this seal. Those who have the mark prefer Satan’s lies to the truth. They have accepted him, the false Christ, as their redeemer. So we need to identify something that would be an appropriate mark. I’m very impressed with the fact that if you research Vicarius Filii Dei, a historic papal title, the literal meaning is “substitute for the Son of God,” which is exactly what Satan has wanted to be. But I’m more intrigued with the fact that, through the centuries, you can find the very number 666 connected with devil worship and other misrepresentations of the truth. Whatever it is, the mark of the beast is connected with rejection of the truth, a preference for Satan’s lies, and loyalty to him.
We will focus more on these issues in the next chapter. The issues are more important than the identity of the mark. You won’t get the mark unless you prefer Satan’s side, so I’m more concerned about being on the right side, than about what the mark itself might be. Because if I’m on the right side, I won’t get it.