he Beast that thou sawest was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Revelation 17: 8) KJV
THE BEAST or ANTICHRIST
"Antichrist" is best defined as one who (or a spirit which) denies or opposes the name and rights of Christ. This term is found only four times, all in the writings of the "beloved apostle" (1John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2John 7). The preposition "anti" in Greek doesn't necessarily mean "opposite" but carries the implication of "disguised as" or "in place of."
The idea appears in the Gospels in references to false Christs (Matt. 24:5, 23, 24; Mark 13:21, 22). Also, Paul's mention of the "man of lawlessness, son of perdition'' (2 Thess. 2:3), and, finally, the apocalyptic allusions to "the beast'' (Rev. 11:7; 13; 17:8 ff.).
Scholars found antecedents of such in the Babylonian dragon-myth and in the Jewish mythology regarding the evil god Belial. During the history of the Church, various individuals and institutions were deemed apostate by certain Christians and hence were called "Antichrist."
The earliest embodiment of the spirit of Antichrist was held to be the Roman Emperor Nero. When you flesh out his full name to "Nero Caesar'' you get the infamous cryptic cipher 666.
In actual Greek notation, the number is carried by three consonants - chi, xi and stigma (ending "s"). The process of numerics being represented by letters is calledgematria (Greek for "word measuring"). It is the same in the more familiar Roman Numerals. Significantly, the same holds true for the Hebrew language.
Since the end of the first century when John wrote Revelation 13:18, human speculation has run rampant. Throughout the centuries, the apocalyptic number has been made to yield the name of almost every heretic or persecutor of the Church. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and many others have regarded the Roman pope as the Antichrist. Of course, even such harmless luminaries as Ronald Wilson Reagan were suspect by counting the number of letters in their name.
It should be noted that the world political leader who is the masterpiece of satanic deception is technically the "first" beast. "Another beast" (Revelation 13:11) refers to the false prophet who causes people to worship the first. Both are supernaturally embued with the power to perform miraculous "signs and wonders."