THE WILES OF THE DEVIL.
The religious people in Jerusalem stoned Stephen to death. They killed James with the sword. It's reported in history that Nero took off the Apostle Paul's head. But the church grew.
The temple in Jerusalem was torn down around 70 A.D. and the people were scattered.
Then Satan anointed Constantine. He was a real genuine false Christian. Constantine the great, one of the most unscrupulous yet influential individuals ever. He murdered his oldest son. Traded his sister to a pagan rival and choked his wife to death while she was bathing. Yet most historians say Constantine the great is more responsible for the spread of Christianity than any other man since Jesus Christ.
When you consider the impact that Constantine the great had on the history of the world in the founding of the Roman Catholic church and establishing the pope in his seat of authority, then you will be able to understand that Constantine is the first beast spoken of in the book of Revelation chapter 13.
Around 330 A.D. while preparing to go into battle, Constantine saw a vision of a cross, and a voice told him to fight under this symbol. He won the battle and after that he accepted Christianity as a religion along with Roman paganism to bring peace between the two religions in his empire.
Constantine had the first Bibles made, fifty copies on fine vellum. The bishops he controlled that used these Bibles were the beginning of the Catholic church.
The beasts in the book of Revelation are evil earthly kings.
This beast Constantine, legalized Christianity. He did what Satan did in the garden through subtlety. He brought Christianity down into the flesh. The wiles of the Devil.
Jesus does not go into battle with swords. He told Peter, "Put up your sword, they that live by the sword must die by the sword."
Constantine was the leader of the known world at that time, and his bishops set the standards for religious behavior for the next few hundred years.
If you did his will and were obedient to the Pope, you were considered orthodox. If you were of another religious belief or a Gnostic, they would label you a heretic and then boil you in oil or some other terrible punishment.
Orthodox= greek orthos "straight" and doxa "opinion" conforming to the usual beliefs or established doctrines, approved or conventional.
Heretic= greek "hairesis" selecting a religious belief opposed to the official or established views.