Revelation 13

The Beast

In this chapter, the Revelation continues to add more information to the events that were previously shown to John. Specifically, we are given more details concerning the future ruler, known as the beast, who will lead the Attack on Jerusalem and who kill the Two Witnesses. Elsewhere in the Scriptures, this person is called the antichrist but in the Revelation he is referred to as the beast. (In the Revelation, the word antichrist is never used, instead, this ruler is called the beast.) Before looking at the description of the beast, it is important to note that in the Scriptures, the word “beast” can refer to either a king or his kingdom as demonstrated in the following examples.

“These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth.”

Dan. 7:17

“Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.” Dan.7:23

The description of the beast begins with the image of a dragon standing on the shore of the sea.

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.

Rev. 13:1

In the previous chapter, we learned that the dragon represents Satan, who is called the devil.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Rev. 12:9

In addition, the following passage tells us that the waters that the beast emerges from represent the Gentile (Non-Jewish) nations.

Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.” Rev. 17:15

Based upon our understanding of the Biblical symbolism, we can say that when the beast (the antichrist) is described as coming out of the sea, it means that the beast will come from the Gentile nations. The description of the dragon standing on the shore of the sea, as the beast emerges, is a word picture that describes how Satan will bring forth and empower the beast. In this way, the beast will carry out Satan’s will on earth. When the beast is described as having ten horns, it is a reference to how the kingdom of the beast will be made up of ten kings, who will give their authority to him.

The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.”  Rev. 17:12-13

Similarly, the seven heads of the beast represent the seven kingdoms that will precede the kingdom of the beast. [1]

Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains
[2] upon which the woman sits. Rev. 17:10 NASB

In the Scriptures, mountains are used to represent kingdoms as can be seen in the following example where the kingdom of Babylon is described as a destroying mountain.

But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes,” declares the Lord. “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, Who destroys the whole earth,” declares the Lord, “And I will stretch out My hand against you, And roll you down from the crags, And I will make you a burnt out mountain.” Jer. 51:24-25

Based on the above precedent, we can say that the seven heads of the beast represent the seven kingdoms that will precede the kingdom of the beast. (We will read more about these seven kingdoms in later chapters.) More information concerning the rise of the beast is given by the prophet Daniel, who also wrote about the beast with ten horns and seven heads.

“The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.  He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws.” Dan. 7:23-25

In these verses, we learn that a fourth kingdom will appear on earth from which ten kings will arise as represented by the ten horns. From these ten kings another king will come (the beast) who will subdue three of the ten kings.The defeat of the three kings at the hands of the beast is reflected in how the above passages describe the kingdom of the beast as having ten heads (kings) with ten crowns (authority) on their heads, while in the previous chapter, the ten heads have only seven crowns. The difference between the ten crowns and the seven crowns represents how the beast will subdue three of the ten kings.

When Daniel described the kingdom of the beast as the fourth kingdom, he was writing from the period of the Babylonian Empire. Based on this starting point, this would make the fourth kingdom the Ancient Roman Empire, which came after the three kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, and Greece. Accordingly, when Daniel states that the ten kings will come from the fourth kingdom, it tells us that the ten kings will come from the descendants of the Ancient Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire


From the historical account, we know that the borders of the Ancient Roman Empire consisted of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. When we look at today’s map, these same territories include the European states that surround the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the North African and Middle Eastern countries that encircle the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Daniel tells us that from these same lands will come the ten nations (the union of European states being considered as one nation) that will give their power to the beast.


The rise of the beast (the antichrist) from the peoples that once formed the Ancient Roman Empire is also described by Daniel in a vision of an enormous statue with a head of gold and a body made up of silver, bronze, and iron.

“Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.” Dan. 2:31-33

If we were to read the rest of this chapter, we would find that the head of gold represents the Babylonian Empire, the chest of silver the Persian Empire, and the torso of bronze the Greek Empire. The Roman Empire is represented by the statue’s legs of iron, which symbolize how Rome broke and crushed its enemies.

“Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.  Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle.  And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.” Dan. 2:40-43

The feet and ten toes that Daniel saw descending from the legs of iron provide another picture of how the ten nations of the kingdom of the beast will come from the descendants of the Ancient Roman Empire. When we read that the feet and ten toes were made up of iron and clay, it represents how the future kingdom of the beast will crush its enemies like iron but will always face internal division due to the mixture of people that will make up this kingdom and who will not bond together just as iron does not bond with clay. The fact that this will be a divided kingdom can also be seen in how we read earlier that the beast will subdue three of the ten kings.

The Ruler Who Will Come

Further information concerning the beast and the ten nations that will come from the descendants of the Ancient Roman Empire is given to us in another prophecy of Daniel, which state that the ruler who will come (the beast), will come from the people who will destroy the city and the sanctuary.

…“The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” Dan. 9:26

The description of the people of the “ruler who will come”, who will destroy the city and sanctuary, is another reference to the people of the Ancient Roman Empire, whose armies invaded the land of Israel and destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its sanctuary in 70 A.D. When Daniel states that the ruler will come from these same people, it confirms that the beast will come from the Ancient Roman Empire.

All of the above describes the beast (the antichrist) as being the head of a nation that will be part of a Ten-Nation Coalition, whose descendants once formed the Ancient Roman Empire, which came after the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, and Greece. This point is repeated in the next passage which describes the beast as resembling a leopard, a bear, and a lion.

The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but hat feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. Rev. 13:2

In order to understand the above symbolism, we must again go to the prophet Daniel, who also wrote about the lion, the bear, and the leopard.

Daniel said, “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’ After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.” Dan. 7:2-6

In the above description, the lion represents the kingdom of Babylon and its king Nebuchadnezzar who, because of his pride, was given a mind like an animal until he was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man.[3] The bear represents the kingdom of Persia and Cyrus the Great. The three ribs in its mouth represent Cyrus’s three great conquest over the kingdoms of the Medes, Lydia, and Babylon. The leopard represents the kingdom of Greece and its king Alexander the Great whose speed of conquest is depicted by the leopard with four wings on its back. The four heads of the leopard represent the four generals who divided Alexander’s kingdom following his death. Accordingly, when the beast is described as having the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and a mouth like a lion, it is the Scriptures way of showing us that the beast will come after the three previous kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, and Greece. Based on the historical account, this would again identify the beast and the fourth kingdom as a re-emergence of the Ancient Roman Empire.

Having described the origin of the beast and his kingdom, the next verse describes how the beast will recover from a fatal wound.

One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” Rev. 13:3-4

The account of the beast with the fatal wound is another instance where the word “beast” is used to describe both a king and his kingdom. In this case, the beast with ten heads is a description of the kingdom of the beast, which will consist of ten kings (heads). The king with the fatal wound is the ruler himself, who will seemingly come back from the dead. When the beast recovers from the fatal wound, it will amaze the Inhabitants of the Earth who will worship the beast. The description of the beast, who comes back to life, can also be applied to the kingdom of the beast, which, as a re-emergence of the Ancient Roman Empire, will also amaze the Inhabitants of the Earth.

The Great Tribulation

In the next passage, we learn that the beast will be a blasphemer of God who will wage a war against God’s people.

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

Rev. 13:5-8

The description of the war that will be waged against God’s people is another description of the Great Tribulation that will follow the Attack on Jerusalem when the beast will kill the Two Witnesses. During the Great Tribulation, the dragon (Satan) will empower the beast to conquer God’s people and to exercise his authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. When we read that the beast will exercise his authority for 42 months, it tells that the Great Tribulation will last for 3 ½ years.

When we combine the above passages with the events of the previous chapters, we discover that the 3 ½ years of the Two Witnesses will be followed by the 3 ½ yearsof the Great Tribulation for a total of seven years. In the middle of the seven years, the beast will lead the ten nations into an Attack on Jerusalem, and the Great Tribulation will begin that has never been equaled on earth. These same events were described by the prophet Daniel, who wrote about the covenant that the beast will make with the ten nations, and the Attack on Jerusalem that will take place in the middle of the seven years.

After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. Dan. 9:26-27

In these verses, we read that following the death of the Anointed One, the people of the Ruler Who Will Come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. As mentioned before, this is a reference to the people of the Ancient Roman Empire, who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and burned down the Temple in 70 A.D. When we read that the Ruler will originate from these same people, it again tells us that the beast will come from the descendants of the Ancient Roman Empire. Daniel goes on to explain how this Ruler will confirm a Seven-Year-Covenant with the many, and how, in the middle of the ‘seven’, he will put an end to the worship of God in the Temple, which is a reference to the covenant that the beast will make with the ten nations, and the future Attack on Jerusalem that will take place in between the 3 ½ years of the Two Witnesses and the 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation. The Abomination that Causes Desolation that is mentioned in these passages refers to an idol that will be placed in the temple before the Attack on Jerusalem begins. Jesus warned of these same events, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark.[4]

“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Mk. 13:14-15

In these Scriptures, the future Attack on Jerusalem is described as coming as a surprise to those in the city, who will be forced to suddenly flee to the mountains when they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies. This scenario seems highly unlikely in today’s world where military satellites, etc., would make it impossible for an invading army to cross Israel’s borders and encircle Jerusalem without the people knowing it. This tells us that the army that attacks Jerusalem will already be stationed in proximity to the city before the Attack on Jerusalem takes place. One possible scenario has the Ten-Nation-Coalition of the Beast creating a peacekeeping force in the region, which will be deployed in and around Jerusalem for her “peace and safety”. From this position, the army could then surround the city in a surprise attack, as described in the Scriptures.[5]

Next, we are told that during the Great Tribulation, God’s people will be taken into captivity and killed by the sword. 

Whoever has ears, let them hear. “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. Rev. 13:9-10

The above events will require patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people, and as such, these instructions are addressed to anyone who will listen, as can be seen in the phrase, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” This is the same phrase that is used in each of the Letters to the Seven Churches where it also precedes instructions concerning the martyrdom of Believers.
 
The Beast out of the Earth

The rise of the beast and his war against God’s people will be facilitated by the accompanying rise of a second beast, who is described elsewhere in the Revelation as the False Prophet.[6] The False Prophet will come out of the earth and will speak the words of the dragon.

Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people.
Rev. 13:11-13

The False Prophet will augment his message with great signs including making lightning come from the sky. The signs of the second beast will be similar in purpose to those performed by Pharaoh’s magicians in the days of Moses and Aaron. At that time, the sorcerers of Egypt performed wonders that were comparable to those of the two prophets in order to detract from their message.[7] In the same way, during the rise of the beast, the False Prophet will produce signs that will discourage the Inhabitants of the Earth from listening to the warnings of the Two Witnesses who will call down plagues as described in Revelation Chapter 11.

During the Great Tribulation, the False Prophet will impose the worship of the beast and will order all those who refuse to worship the beast to be killed.

Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. Rev. 13:14-17

In these passage, the fatal blow that will strike the first beast (the antichrist) is described as coming from the sword, which represents war. This wound is further described by Zechariah, who wrote of the worthless shepherd who will be wounded by the sword in his arm and right eye.

“Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!” Zech. 11:17

In the Revelation’s earlier descriptions of the beast, we learn that he will be involved in three separate wars. The first war will take place when he subdues three of the ten kings that will make up the kingdom of the beast. The second war will occur when he attacks Jerusalem as described in the events of the Fourth Trumpet, and the third war will take place when he defeats the two-million-man army that will challenge his rule as described in the events of the Sixth Trumpet. Based on the above, we can conclude that in one of these wars, the beast will suffer the fatal wound from which he will recover.

This chapter ends with a final instruction to those who have insight to calculate the number of the beast.

This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. Rev. 13:18

In this passage, we are told that the beast can be identified by calculating a number, and that the number is the number of a man. The only other time we see the original word for calculate being used in the Scriptures is in the Gospel of Luke where it is translated as estimate.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? Lk. 14:28

In this passage, we find that to calculate means to add, as in add up the cost.  When applied to our original verse, this would mean that if we add up the numbers, which correlate with the letters that will make up the name of the beast, they should equal 666. Apart from this method, we are given the above information concerning the rise of the beast, which can be used to identify the future ruler and his kingdom.

Footnotes:

[1] In Revelation Chapter 12, the dragon is also described as having ten horns and seven heads. When the beast is described using the same symbolism in this chapter, it is a reflection of how the dragon will empower the beast to carry out his will.
[2] In this passage, the NIV® translates the word mountain as hill. However, wherever this original word is found elsewhere in the Scriptures, the NIV® translates it as mountain. Accordingly, the New American Standard Bible, translates this word as mountain.
[3] This event is described in Daniel Chapter 4.
[4] When we read that the Abomination that Causes Desolation will be set up in the holy place before the future Attack on Jerusalem begins, it seems to indicate that the Temple, which was destroyed in the war of 70 A.D., will be rebuilt. If this is the case, it would mean that the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem is another event that we should Keep Watch for.
[5] The attack on Jerusalem that occurred in 70 A.D. did not come as a surprise to the people as it took place after a Jewish insurrection and took four years to complete. By contrast, the future attack on Jerusalem that is described in these verses will occur suddenly and will force the people to flee from their homes. From this we know that the events described in the Revelation are referring to a future attack and are not a reference to the attack that took place in 70 A.D.
[6] The second beast is called the False Prophet in Rev. 16:13, 19:20, 20:10.
[7] These events are described in Ex. 7:8-24

Order of Events of the Last Days
1. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
2. Wars, Rumors of Wars, Earthquakes, and Famines (Seals 1-4)
3. The Martyrs Pray for Judgment and Revenge (5th. Seal)
4. The Hour of Trial when the Inhabitants of the Earth will be Tested
– A third of the earth is burned up (1st. Trumpet)
– A third of the sea turns to blood (2nd. Trumpet)
– A third of the waters turn bitter (3rd Trumpet)
5. The Attack on Jerusalem (4th. Trumpet)
6. The Great Tribulation when the Full Number of Brothers and Sisters will be Killed
7. The Wrath of God is Poured Out (6th. Seal)
– The Plague of Locusts (5th. Trumpet)
– The Plague of Fire, Smoke, and Sulfur (6th. Trumpet)
– To be announced (7th. Trumpet)
8. The Silence in Heaven (7th. Seal)

Revelation Chapter 12
Revelation Chapter 14

Questions and comments may be sent to: RevelationStudyGuid@gmail.com
Bryan Coray is the author of Keep Watch: The Order of Events of the Last Days, available on Amazon.