The Way It Happened

Revelation 13:15, Giving Breath to the Image of the Beast

He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.

Ever wonder what this verse is all about? Unfortunately, we’ll probably never know for sure, since we have no record of this event happening. We do know it was a popular ruse among magicians of the first century to cause statues to talk. You may have heard how Gaius Caesar ordered a statue of Jupiter moved from Olympia to Rome, but when the workmen arrived to move it, the statue started to laugh at them.  The workmen’s scaffolding collapsed and they scattered in panic.

Simon Magus, whom many believe to have been the “false prophet” of Revelation, was known for his ability to make stone statues talk.

Early Christians throughout the Empire appeared distressed by these statues. The Christian apologist Athenagoras wrestles with this problem of pagan statues “giving oracles” and healing the sick and considers them neither tricks nor miracles but demons taking possession of the minds of the audience, persuading them with “empty visions” as if exuding from the statues.

The beast in this verse we can be fairly certain refers to Nero Caesar, and Nero seemed omnipresent with statues throughout the empire, including a 120-foot abomination even greater than Nebuchadnezzar’s statue in the book of Daniel.  But, so far as I’m aware, we have no record in history of any of Nero’s statues talking! What, exactly, does this verse in Revelation refer to?

One more mystery about the book of Revelation that we’ll probably never uncover!

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