Album/Art Resource, NY

THE BEAST OF REVELATION. The Roman emperor Domitian was not a friend to Christians. During his reign (81–96 C.E.), he proclaimed himself a god and demanded that his subjects worship him. Although Jews were exempt from this stipulation, Christians were not. The Book of Revelation, which was written during Domitian’s reign, chronicles some of the strain this put on the Christian church. Those who would not worship Domitian—“the image of the beast” (Revelation 13:15)—were killed, and those who refused to take the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:16–17) were not permitted to buy or sell goods. To preserve their wealth and lives, many in the Laodicean church compromised their Christian faith, which caused the author of the apocalypse to call them “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:16).