This Beast of Rev. 13 is not just an institution, but a person; specifically, as we shall see, it is the Emperor Nero. This is because, particularly the way the Bible looks at things, the two could be considered as one. Rome was, to some extent, covenantally identified with its leader, as the human race was with Adam; the Empire was embodied and represented in the reigning Caesar (Nero). Thus John’s prophecy can shift back and forth between them, or consider them both together, under the same designation. And both Nero and the Empire were sunk in degrading, degenerate, bestial activities. Nero, who murdered numerous members of his own family (including his pregnant wife, whom he kicked to death); who was a homosexual, the final stage in degeneracy (Rom. 1:24-32); whose favorite aphrodisiac consisted of watching people suffer the most horrifying and disgusting tortures; who dressed up as a wild beast in order to attack and rape male and female prisoners; who used the bodies of Christians burning at the stake as the original “Roman candles” to light up his filthy garden parties; who launched the first imperial persecution of Christians at the instigation of the Jews, in order to destroy the Church; this animalistic pervert was the ruler of the most powerful empire on earth. And he set the tone for his subjects. Rome was the moral sewer of the world. The ancient languages used each letter of the alphabet as a numeral as well; thus, the “number” of anyone’s name could be computed by simply adding up the numerical value of its letters. Clearly, St. John expected that his contemporary readers were capable of using this method to discover the Beast’s name — thus indicating, again, the contemporary message of Revelation; he did not expect them to figure out the name of some 20th-century official or some religious leader during the dark ages. At the same time, however, he tells them that it will not be as easy as they might think: it will require someone “who has understanding.” For John did not give a number that could be worked out in Greek, which is what a Roman official scanning Revelation for subversive content would expect. The unexpected element in the computation was that it had to be worked out in Hebrew, a language that at least some members of the churches would know. His readers would have guessed by now that he was speaking of Nero, and those who understood Hebrew probably grasped it instantly. The numerical values of the Hebrew letters in Neron Kesar (Nero Caesar) is 666. John’s Biblically informed readers will have already recognized many clear indications of the Beast’s identity as Rome (indeed, they already knew this from reading the Book of Daniel). Now Nero has arrived on the scene as the first great persecutor of the Church, the embodiment of the “666-ness” of the Empire, and – Lo and behold! – his very name spells out 666. It is significant that “all the earliest Christian writers on the Apocalypse, from Irenaeus down to Victorious of Pettau and Commodian in the fourth, and Andreas in the fifth, and St. Beatus in the eighth century, connect Nero, or some Roman emperor, with the Apocalyptic Beast .“ There should be no reasonable doubt about his identification. John was writing to first-century Christians, warning them of things that were “shortly” to take place. They were engaged in the most crucial battle of history, against the Dragon and the evil Empire which he possessed. The purpose of the Revelation was to comfort the Church with the assurance that God was in control, so that even the awesome might of the Dragon and the Beast would not stand before the armies of Jesus Christ.