Instructions: Color-coded sections help you understand the difference between Bible Truth and SDA Truth
Section Contents
    1      Explains the SDA Teaching and why it is taught    
    2      Shows the fallacies (errors) of the SDA Teaching   
    3      Shows what the Bible teaches about this subject   
    4      Answers to questions submitted by our readers     
    5      Links for further and more advanced study             

Bible Truth vs Adventist Truth

The Mark of the Beast


Adventist Truth about the Mark of the Beast

Seventh-day Adventists teach that the near the end of time the "mark of the best" of Revelation 14 will be placed upon those who worship on Sunday instead of Saturday. Following are the main points of this doctrine:

1. Adventists identify the union of Roman Catholicism with civil power as the "beast" of Revelation:

"The beast described in Revelation 13:1-10 is the church-state union that dominated the Christian world for many centuries and was described by Paul as the 'man of sin' (2 Thess. 2:2-4) and by Daniel as the 'little horn' (Den. 7:8, 20-25; 8:9-12). The image of the beast represents that form of apostate religion that will be developed when churches having lost the true spirit of the Reformation, shall unite with the state to enforce their teachings on others."1

2. The Catholic Church, in the Dark Ages, changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, a pagan day of worship.

3. At the end of time, a conflict will arise between those who worship the beast and his image and those who are the true followers of God. What sets these two groups apart is that one group, the true loyal remnant, keeps Saturday as a holy day, and the other group, the fallen and apostate, keeps Sunday as a holy day:

"One class will advocate a gospel of human devisings and will worship the beast and his image... The other class, in marked contrast, will live by the true gospel and 'keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus' (Rev. 14:9,12)... those who reject God's memorial of creatorship--the Bible Sabbath--choosing to worship and honor Sunday...will receive the mark of the beast."2

4. At the end of time, those who keep Sunday as a holy day will seek to destroy those who keep Saturday as a holy day. They will pass laws against the Sabbath-keepers, eventually passing a death-penalty for those who keep Saturday holy. These laws, prophesied by church prophetess Ellen White, are known to Adventists as the National Sunday Law or Universal Sunday Law:

"Those who obey God will experience the wrath of the dragon (Rev. 12:17) and eventually be threatened with death (Rev. 13:15)."3

These laws will force all to choose which leader they will follow: the beast or God.

5. Jesus will return to put an end to the conflict, and those who kept Saturday as a holy day will "stand together with the Lamb on Mount Zion" while the Sunday-keepers will "receive the full wrath of God and die".4

 


Problems with Adventist Truth about Mark of the Beast

1. Is the Catholic Church the "bad guy" in Bible prophecy? Much of Seventh-day Adventist end-time prophecy revolves around making Catholicism out to be the great and evil persecuting power of Bible prophecy described in Daniel 7. While Catholicism has certainly failed in many ways to represent Christ, the facts are that it simply does not fit the vision of Daniel 7 for several reasons.

First, the terrible beast of Daniel 7 has "10 horns", which Adventists say represents ten tribes that conquered the Roman Empire. There are several problems with this theory. To begin with, horns on top of a beast's head always indicate the leaders or kings of the same empire, never a new empire or new power. For example, in Daniel 8, a large horn grows upon the goat's head, and that horn is understood by all to be Alexandar the Great, ruler of the Greek (goat) empire. The Bible clearly says the ten are "kings" and not "kingdoms". These "kings" could not possibly refer to the ten tribes, because the ten tribes were bitter enemies of the Roman beast. They fought it and destroyed it, so it would seem strange indeed to picture the ten tribes as growing upon the head of an empire they destroyed! The tribes were, in fact, an outside invading force and they did not grow up inside the Roman Empire. In addition, there were at least twenty tribes involved in the overthrow of the Roman Empire, so the idea of the ten horns being ten tribes does not even come close to matching the historical reality of the situation.

Second, Adventists claim three tribes were uprooted, or destroyed, by the papacy (the little horn). The truth is, the Vandals, Ostrogoths, and Heruli were never destroyed or subdued by the pope. The Heruli were defeated by the Lombards, and the Vandals and Ostrogoths fell to the Byzantines. There is no evidence the Roman bishop had anything to do with the subjugation of these tribes. In fact, the Lombards, who overthrew the Heruli, were enemies of the Catholic Church!

Third, Adventists say the uprooting of the three tribes was complete by 538 AD with the demise of the Ostrogoths, but that is simply false. The Ostrogoths were pushed out of Rome temporarily, but they recaptured it in 541 AD and ruled Rome for nearly a decade afterward. The Ostrogoths were not completely wiped out until 561 AD.

So the Roman Church fits neither the time, the place, nor the visual representation of the vision of Daniel 7. (For further study, see Dirk Anderson's book, National Sunday Law: Fact of Fiction)


2. Did Papacy Change Sabbath? - Much of Adventist prophetic teaching is built upon the idea that the Catholic Church is the "little horn" that appeared upon the fourth beast of Daniel 7 and changed "times" and "laws". According to Adventists, the "times" that the "little horn" changed is the time of the Sabbath. They claim that the papacy transfered Sabbath observance to Sunday during the dark ages. Prophet Ellen White saw in vision that the Pope changed the day of worship to Sunday:

"I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws."5

The "official" teaching of the Catholic Church is that the abolition of the Sabbath was confirmed by the early Church Fathers:

The early Church Fathers compared the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of the rite of circumcision, and from that they demonstrated that if the apostles abolished circumcision (Gal. 5:1-6), so also the observance of the Sabbath must have been abolished.6

The above quote has the NIHIL OBSTAT and the IMPRIMATUR which essentially means the quote is considered authentic, accurate, and official by the Catholic Church. So, the "official" Catholic Church teaching is that Sunday-keeping can be traced back to the generation following the Apostles. Adventists point to a series of articles that appeared in September of 1893 in the Catholic Mirror as proof that the Catholic Church changed the day of worship. Those articles do indeed brag that the Catholic Church made the change, but they do not carry either the NIHIL OBSTAT or the IMPRIMATUR. This means the articles are not an official church teaching and represent merely the opinion of the author.7

Seventh-day Adventist theologian Samuele Bacchiocchi had access to the Vatican vaults and researched the oldest material on Sabbath-keeping. His research led him to conclude Sunday-keeping was largely practiced long before the first pope came on the scene:

"I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sundaykeeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise. If you read my essay HOW DID SUNDAYKEEPING BEGIN? which summarizes my dissertation, you will notice that I place the origin of Sundaykeeping by the time of the Emperor Hadrian, in A. D. 135."8

In the book of Acts, the Apostles frequently worshipped on Sabbath, and there is no evidence that Sunday observance was practiced in the first century. Polycarp, leader of the church in Smyrna, and disciple of the Apostle John, observed the Sabbath and taught his followers to keep the Commandments of God.9

Sunday-keeping arose in the second century, primarily in Rome and Alexandria. According to Wikipedia, Mithraism reached the height of it popularity in the Roman Empire during the second and third centuries. Mithraism is based upon the worship of the sun-god Mithras, and followers observed Sunday as a day of worship in honor of the sun-god.10

Sunday-keeping also arose in the second century in Alexandria, Egypt among the gnostics. The gnostics abhored the physical creation, and since the seventh day Sabbath was in honor of the physical creation, gnostics chose to worship on Sunday, which they called the "eighth day."

During the second century, the Jews were persecuted throughout the Roman Empire, and it is believed the persecutions helped to hasten the adoption of Sunday by Christians who sought to differentiate themselves from the Jews in order to avoid being labeled as Jews. During the period of 135 AD to 400 AD, some Christians observed Sabbath, some observed Sunday, and others observed both days. Gradually Sunday-keeping became dominant in the areas controlled by the Church of Rome. Below are a couple of the earliest quotes showing the introduction of Sunday worship in the Christian Church:

150 A.D. Justin Martyr - "On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read.... Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.".11
150 A.D. Justin Martyr - "We live not after the law, and are not circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers were, and do not observe sabbaths."12

While the Roman Church did promote Sunday observance, the practice actually started hundreds of years before the Roman bishop's rise to pre-eminence.


3. Is Sabbath versus Sunday the end-time deciding issue? - The New Testament never describes the Sabbath as the one great issue that will divide the true believers from the false believers. If the Sabbath was indeed such a profound issue, such a "life-or-death" matter of eternal consequence, then why did Jesus and the Apostles say nothing of its importance?

Paul told Christians not to judge eachother regarding the keeping of the Sabbath (Col. 2:16) or any other day they decide to keep holy:

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. (Rom. 14:5 NIV)

In the book of Romans, Paul encouraged Christians to uphold the law (Rom. 3:31), but he did not over-emphasize the importance of the Sabbath. Why not? Was it because God wanted us to figure out the most profound issue in Christianity on our own, without any help or guidance from His Word? Or was it because the writers of the Bible were uninspired and had no idea this would become an issue at the end of time? Of course not!

It is absurd to think that such a critical decision--a decision upon which hinges the eternal destination of the Christian believer--would be met with silence by Paul and other New Testament authors. Every student knows that when a teacher has an important point to make to his students, he reiterates that point over and over again. Jesus and the Apostles were the greatest teachers this world has ever seen. The points they repeatedly emphasized were:

  • Love
  • Grace
  • Forgiveness
  • Mercy
  • Doing good to others
  • Faith
  • Salvation
  • Return of Christ
  • Dangers of legalism

These subjects are repeated over and over again in the New Testament. What about the necessity of keeping Sabbath as a holy day? Oddly enough, it is never mentioned in the New Testament, not even once. And yet are we to believe this is the single-most important issue that is supposed to decide the fate of humanity?


4. Adventist end-time theology all boils down to this: Those who keep Sabbath go to heaven, and the rest get burned in hell fire. This is a species of legalism. It makes the Sabbath, instead of grace or salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the most important end-time issue. It takes the focus off of Jesus and puts the focus on works of the flesh. Any Christian can tell you that what day you go to church on does not make you a Christian in any way, shape, or form. A man may go to church on Saturday, but his heart may be filled with hatred, adultery, and every kind of evil. Another man may go to church on Sunday but his heart may be filled with love, kindness, faith, and the grace of God. The external act of keeping a day holy is not a "sign" or "mark" of true Christianity. The "sign" of true Christianity is having Jesus in your heart and loving others:

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Gal. 5:14)

5. According to Adventist end-time teachings, God returns back to the earth to punish the evil-doers, whose great crime is in forcing people to worship God on Sunday. The battle between Sabbath-keepers and Sunday-keepers is supposedly the final battle in the Great Controversy. Is Sunday-keeping such a great and horrendous sin? Let us examine the major sins pointed out in the New Testament and see how they are impacting us today:

Sin New Testament passages Problems caused by the Sin
Murder, Genocide, Terrorism Matt. 15:19, Rom. 1:29, Gal. 5:21, Rev. 9:21 Tens of millions killed in the last 75 years--Germany (Hitler), Soviet Union (Stalin), Uganda, Serbia, Bosnia
Witchcraft, Occult/Satanic Activities Gal. 5:20, Rev. 9:21 Harry Potter generation; Wicca (Witchcraft) is fastest growing religion in the world; New Age deceptions
Drunkeness, orgies Luke 21:34, Rom. 13:13, Gal. 5:21, 1 Pet. 4:3 Alcohol sales booming around the world; drugs are destroying the youth; pornography destroying marriages
Persecuting and killing Christians Matt. 23:34, Luke 21:12, Rev. 17:6 More Christians being persectued and killed today than at any time in human history
Greed Luke 18:22, 1 Ti. 6:10, James 5:1-6 Thousands of children die every day from malnutrition and diseases while the rich get richer
Homosexuality Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9 Perversion is destroying the marriage covenant and the family unit
Pollution Rev. 11:18 Smog is filling the air, chemicals are poisoning our food and water supplies
Not worshipping on Saturday ? ?

Adventists seem to spend a lot of time harping on the sin of Sabbath-breaking, but it does not appear to have caught the attention of the authors of the New Testament. Adventists want us to believe that Sunday-keeping is the one heinous sin above all others that identifies someone who is disloyal to God. What about Genocide? Murder? Rape? Child abuse? Greed? Persecution? Blasphemy? Witchcraft? Those sins do not even make it onto the Adventist list. According to Adventists, the Mark of the Beast is Sunday-keeping:

"Sunday-keeping must be the mark of the beast." ... "The reception of his mark must be something that involves the greatest offense that can be committed against God."13
"The Sunday Sabbath is purely a child of the Papacy. It is the mark of the beast."14
"The change of the Sabbath is the sign or mark of the authority of the Romish church." ... "The keeping of the counterfeit Sabbath is the reception of the mark."15
"The sign, or seal, of God is revealed in the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, the Lord's memorial of creation. . . . The mark of the beast is the opposite of this--the observance of the first day of the week."16
"The mark of the beast is the papal sabbath."17
"What Is the Mark of the Beast?--John was called to behold a people distinct from those who worship the beast and his image by keeping the first day of the week. The observance of this day is the mark of the beast."18
"When the test comes, it will be clearly shown what the mark of the beast is. It is the keeping of Sunday."19

5. What are the "Commandments of God"? The whole teaching of Adventists regarding the Mark of the Beast centers on Revelation 14:12 which says that those who have the "commandments of God" do not receive the mark. Adventists claim that this passage is referring to the Ten Commandments, and Sunday-keepers cannot be keeping the Ten Commandments because the fourth commandment instructs worship on Saturday.

The best way to intepret the meaning of John's writings is to compare them with the other writings of John. The Greek word for "commandments" in Rev. 14:12 is entole which means "an order, command, charge, precept, injunction."20 The same word is used repeatedly in the writings of John to refer to the instructions of Christ. John uses an entirely different Greek word in his writings when he refers to the Ten Commandments: nomas. For example:

Did not Moses give you the law {nomos}, and [yet] none of you keepeth the law {nomos}? Why go ye about to kill me? (John 7:19; Jesus is referring to the 6th commandment "Thou shalt not kill"--Ex. 20:13)

According to John, the number one commandment {entolae} of Jesus to the Apostles was not Sabbath-worship, but for them to love one another:

A new commandment {entolae} I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)
This is my commandment {entolae}, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

Notice how John refers to the "commandments" of God in his letter:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments {entolas}. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments {entolas}; and His commandments {entolae} are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3)

Earlier in the same letter John tells us exactly what the "commandments" of God are:

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His [God's] commandments {entolas} and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His [God's] commandment {entolae}, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He [God] commanded {entolaen} us. The one who keeps His [God's] commandments {entolas} abides in Him,... (1 John 3:21-24)

From this we can see that in John's writings the "commandments" of God are:

  1. To believe in Jesus Christ
  2. To love one another
 


Bible Truth about the Mark of the Beast

1. Who is the Beast of Revelation? - In Christianity there are myriads of differing interpretations as to who are the "beast" and the "image to the beast". It is beyond the scope of this study to try and decipher the exact meanings of these symbols. However, one thing is agreed upon by all Christians: the "beast" is an evil power that opposes God.

In the book of Revelation there is a war between those who have the Seal of God and those who have the Mark of the Beast. We have already learned in study #7 that the Seal of God is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, those who have the Mark of the Beast are those who do not have the Holy Spirit. By determining what the fruits or evidences of the Holy Spirit are, we can easily see the attributes of those who have the Spirit of God (the Seal of God) and those who are devoid of the Spirit (Mark of the Beast):

Fruits of the Holy Spirit
(those who have Seal of God)
(Gal. 5:22-23)
Works of the Flesh
(those who have Mark of the Beast)
(Gal. 5:19-21)
Love Adultery and Fornication
Joy Uncleanness and Lasciviousness
Peace Idolatry
Longsuffering Witchcraft
Gentleness Hatred and Variance
Goodness Emulations and Wrath
Faith Strife and Seditions
Meekness Heresies, Envyings and Murders
Temperence Drunkenness and Revellings

 

2. How do you tell a true Christian? Even Adventists will admit you cannot tell who is a true Christian in their heart by what day they worship on. True Christianity is defined by those who have the Spirit of Christ in them. This Spirit is manifest by the fruits of the Spirit (mentioned above) and evidenced by good deeds:

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16 NIV)

Jesus told a parable in Matthew 24:31-46 about how He is going to decide who goes to Heaven and who does not. The "sheep" who go to heaven are those who are feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and helping the homeless. The "goats" are those who do not. It is as simple as that. Jesus had the perfect opportunity in this parable to instruct His disciples that the deciding factor about who goes to Heaven is determined by whether or not a person keeps Saturday holy. He did not. Instead, He pointed them to the real difference. True Christians serve others because they have Jesus living in their hearts. False Christians live to serve themselves. Christianity is not about a holy day. It is about "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27).

Conclusion

Not once in the New Testament is Sunday ever referred to as the Mark of the Beast. Jesus and His Apostles emphasized that true Christianity is a matter of the heart. What marks a person as righteous is the internal development of the character of Christ in that person's heart, not legalism. Christianity emphasized faith, hope, love, mercy, self-control, and internal piety.

 


Your Questions about the Mark of the Beast

QUESTION: The Greek word entole is used by some authors of the New Testament to refer to the Ten Commandments. An example is Matthew 5:19: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments [entol], and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Doesn't this prove that John could have been talking about the Ten Commandments in Revelation 12:17 and 14:12?

ANSWER: It is true that other Biblical authors used entole in reference to the Ten Commandments. In fact, the word was used in many different ways by the authors of the New Testament:

  • Ten Commandments (Matt. 15:3-6; 19:17-19; Mark 7:9-10; 10:19; Luke 18:20; 23:56; Rom. 13:9; Eph. 6:2)
  • The two great commandments of loving God, and loving your neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-31)
  • Ceremonial laws and other laws from the Torah (Mark 7:8-9; 10:5; Heb. 7:5)
  • A father's instructions to his child (Luke 15:29)
  • Instructions the Father gave to Jesus or the Apostles (John 10:18; 12:49-50; 2 John 1:4)
  • A command the Pharisees gave to arrest Jesus (John 11:57)
  • Jesus's commands to His disciples (John 13:34; 14:15,21; 15:10-12; 1 Tim. 6:14; 1 John 2:3-8; 3:22-24; 4:21; 2 John 1:6; Rev. 22:14)
  • Paul's instructions to his disciples (Acts 17:15; Col. 4:10)
  • The Torah itself (Rom. 7:8-13; Eph. 2:15; Heb. 7:16-18; 9:19)
  • Paul's writings are the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37)
  • Teachings of men (Titus 1:14)
  • Teachings of the Apostles (2 Pet. 3:2; 2 John 1:5)

As the author of Revelation, John typically used entole in his other writings in the New Testatment to specify the commands of Jesus. One possible exception, is 1 John 5:2,3 which refers to God's commandments. It is a possibility that John was speaking of the Ten Commandments in this passage, but earlier in the same letter, in 1 John 3:21-24, John says God's commandments are to believe in Jesus and love one another. Therefore, it is unlikely 1 John 5:2,3 is a direct reference to the Ten Commandments. To conclude, while it is possible that John was referring to the Ten Commandments in Revelation, the majority of the linguistic evidence would suggest He was talking about the commandments to believe in Jesus and love one's neighbor.

 


Links for Deeper Study about the Mark of the Beast

National Sunday Law Details the origin of the SDA National Sunday Law and why it will never happen. By Brother Anderson.

What is the Mark of the Beast? by Robert Sanders

 


 

NOTES

1. Seventh-day Adventists Believe, p. 167, Review and Herald (1989).

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Early Writings, p. 32.

6. "Sabbath or Sunday", http://www.catholic.com/library/Sabbath_or_Sunday.asp, extracted Dec. 12, 2008. This web page has the official NIHIL OBSTAT from Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004, and IMPRIMATUR by Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004.

7. While the Catholic Church did not change the day of worship, the papacy can be credited with enforcing Old Testament Sabbath regulations upon Sunday. This practice was later adopted by some, but not all, Protestant denominations.

8. Samuele Bacchiochi, Ph.D., E-mail message to the "Free Catholic Mailing List" catholic@american.edu on Feb. 8, 1997.

9. Bob Thiel, Ph.D., "Polycarp of Smyrna: The Heretic Fighter".

10. Kenneth Humphreys, "Mithraism - First Edition of the Universal Religion", 2004.

11. Justin, First Apology, 67; ANF 1:186.

12. Ibid., 10-12; ANF 1:199-200.

13. Uriah Smith, The Marvel of Nations, pp. 170, 183.

14. Advent Review, Vol. I, No. 2, August, 1850.

15. Ellen White, Great Controversy, p. 281.

16. Ellen White, Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 117.

17. Ellen White, Evangelism, p. 234.

18. Ellen White, Letter 31, 1898.

19. Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 980.

20. Strong's.

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