Rev. 13:3 – One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded, but his fatal wound was healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast. (HCSB)
One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded
John writes of the beast, “One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded, but his fatal wound was healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast” (v. 3). Commentators offer numerous explanations as to who or what the “head” is and the nature of the deadly wound. Here are two widely accepted possibilities:
Some see the deadly wound as the destruction of the “pagan” Roman Empire by the “Christian” Roman Empire, thus making this a prophecy now fulfilled in history. The “healing” of the pagan empire would either be the emergence of a corrupt form of Christianity in the papal church or the actual revival of the Roman Empire in the last days.
Others view this passage as a yet-future event in which the Antichrist receives an apparently fatal wound that Satan miraculously heals. It does not appear that Satan has the power to raise the dead – although God could permit it – but he may very well be granted the power to heal a serious wound. “The important point is that the final world ruler comes into power obviously supported by a supernatural and miraculous deliverance by Satan himself” (J.F. Walvoord and R.B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Rev. 13:3).
Rev. 11:7 – When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them. 8Their dead bodies will lie in the public square of the great city, which is called, prophetically, Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9And representatives from the people, tribes, languages, and nations will view their bodies for three and a half days and not permit their bodies to be put into a tomb. 10Those who live on the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who live on the earth. (HCSB)
The beast will conquer them and kill them
But the witnesses’ time is limited. John notes that when they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them (v. 7). The two witnesses – these two lampstands and olive trees – do not speak the word of the Lord or perform miracles indefinitely. The Lord ordains a time for them to speak and a time to suffer.
It is always this way with God’s witnesses. They are sent for a time, and until that time is fulfilled, no one can shut their mouths or do them harm. Noah preaches for 120 years and God protects him from the wicked, who no doubt mock and threaten him. Elijah prophesies against Ahab and Jezebel, and they cannot silence him until they are dead and the Lord calls His prophet into heaven. Stephen preaches a profound message of judgment and hope, and not even the ambitious young Pharisee Saul can close his mouth until the last word is spoken.