A mouth was given him — Revelation 13:5-6

Previously: They worshiped the dragon and the beast – Revelation 13:4

The scripture

Rev. 13:5 – A mouth was given to him to speak boasts and blasphemies. He was also given authority to act for 42 months. 6He began to speak blasphemies against God: to blaspheme His name and His dwelling – those who dwell in heaven. (HCSB)

A mouth was given to him

The dragon, who has given the beast his power, authority and throne, also endows him with great rhetorical skills and he uses them to blaspheme God, His name, and His dwelling.

scrollIn the Old Testament, the root meaning of the word “blasphemy” is an act of effrontery in which a person insults the honor of God and for which he or she may be put to death by stoning (see Lev. 24:10-23; 1 Kings 21:9ff). In the New Testament, the meaning is extended to include God’s representatives. For example, Jews from the Freedman’s Synagogue accuse Stephen of “speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God” (Acts 6:11).

But the charge of blasphemy rises to a crescendo around the words and deeds of the Son of God. When He tells a paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven,” the scribes accuse Him of blaspheming (Mark 2:5-7). At His trial, the high priest challenges Him with the question, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” And when Jesus responds, “I am,” and identifies Himself as the Son of Man from Dan. 7:13, the high priest tears his robes, accuses Jesus of blasphemy, and leads the cries for his death (Mark 14:61-65). And on the cross, as Jesus hangs naked, bloodied and disfigured between two thieves, cowardly passersby shout insults at (blaspheme) Him (Matt. 27:39).

“Because these representatives [Stephen, Paul] embody the truth of God himself (and our Lord in a unique way), an insulting word spoken against them and their teaching is really directed against the God in whose name they speak. Saul of Tarsus fulminated against the early followers of Jesus and tried to compel them to blaspheme, i.e. to curse the saving name (Acts 24:11), and thereby to renounce their baptismal vow in which they confessed that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3; Jas. 2:7). His misdirected zeal, however, was not simply against the church, but against the Lord himself (1 Tim. 1:13; cf. Acts 9:4)” (New Bible Dictionary, 3rd Ed.).

Saul, of course, meets the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus, is dramatically converted and, as the apostle Paul, carries the gospel into the far reaches of the Gentile world before sharing in Christ’s suffering as a martyred saint. Even so, he remembers that his blasphemous words and deeds make him – at least in his mind – chief among sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). There is no such conversion for the beast, however. He uses his dragon-powered rhetoric to boast of himself and to blaspheme God – His name (which no devout Jew would even pronounce), His dwelling (literally, His tabernacle, or the place His Shekinah glory dwells), and His people (the throne-encircled redeemed in whose praises He inhabits).

Next: He was permitted to wage war – Revelation 13:7