The Two Beasts

THE BEAST OUT OF THE SEA (13:1-8). There is a textual variant at the beginning of verse one. Later manuscripts have “I stood” instead of “he stood,” which the NIV translates “the dragon stood.” If John watches the scene, he sees the Beast coming up out of the sea; otherwise, Satan is contemplating the scene.

For the most part Historicists and Preterists identify the Beast out of the sea as the Ancient Roman Empire, Idealists as recurring world governments, through which Satan operates, and Futurists as the Revived Roman Empire. Some historicists identify this Beast as papal Rome or the revival of Roman papacy.

The majority of expositors agree that the sea is the symbol of the Gentile nations. He will rise out of the sea of humanity (Daniel 7:24; 9:27; 11:36-45). Some identify the sea as the region around the Mediterranean Sea.

BEAST is a term that represents both a person (Antichrist) and his system (the world empire). The beasts in Daniel portray the empires as well as their leaders. The dragon (Satan) gave the Beast his power and his throne and great authority. The final world empire will be inseparable from Satan who possesses the man who leads it.

Daniel shows that the human Antichrist will rise up from the ten kings of the Revived Roman Empire, which is pictured by the ten toes of clay and iron feet of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:41-42; 7:16-24). This final world empire will be crushed when Christ’s kingdom fills the earth (Daniel 2:32-45; 7:79, 19-25).

It is easy to identify this Beast with the Fourth Beast in the seventh chapter of Daniel, which followed the Lion (Babylon), the Bear (Medo-Persia), and the Leopard (Greece). John describes the characteristics of the Beast in reverse order, indicating this kingdom shall possess the traits of the previous kingdoms—a monster that maliciously slanders, tramples and devours its victims.

He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. Horns always represent power, as in the animal kingdom horns are both offensive and defensive power.

The seven heads are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Ancient Rome and the Revived Roman Empire. The ten crowns (diadhma) on his ten horns symbolizes the ten kings of the confederacy of ten nations that makes up the Revived Roman Empire.

Historicists identify the ten kingdoms as the Anglo-Saxons, the Franks, the Alleman-Franks, the Burgundic-Franks, the Visigoths, the Suevi, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Bavarians, and the Lombards.

BLASPHEMOUS NAME. On each of the seven heads is a blasphemous name. Blasphemy pertains to one who claims to be God. A good illustration is Caiaphas’ reaction to Jesus’ affirmation of being deity.

But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy (Matthew 26:63-65).

He will defy God and claim to be God himself (Revelation 13:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Daniel 7:25; 8:25; 11:36-39) and the earth will worship him as God (Revelation 13:8, 14-18; 14:9-11; 20:4-6). He will have a religious leader in the false prophet of Revelation 13:11-17; 6:13-16; 19:20; 20:10. This Beast will promote the worship of the Antichrist’s image (Revelation 13:14-17; 14:9; 15:2; 20:4-6).

The heads of the six previous empires imagined themselves to be God and desired worship. In Egypt, Pharaoh was Ra, the sun God, on earth. In Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar erected a golden image and commanded it be worshiped. In Medo-Persia, Darius issued a decree that he alone be prayed to for thirty days. In Rome, the emperor was worshiped as God. In the seventh empire, the Antichrist will be worshiped as God. Satan is behind all this blasphemy!

Historicists view the blasphemies associated with this Beast as statements made by various popes. For instance, Pope Nicholas said, “I have the authority of the King of Kings, I am all in all and above all . . . Wherefore, if those things that I do be said not be done of man but of God, what can you make me but God?” In his apostolic letter of June 20, 1894, Pope Leo XIII claimed: “We hold the place of Almighty God on earth.” His successor, Pius X boasted, “The Pope . . . is Jesus Christ himself, hidden under the veil of flesh.” Pope Pius X said, “I am God on earth.” Hence, making war against the rest of the woman’s offspring comes from the number of persons slain by the Beast, the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages and the Reformation.

Preterists see the worshiping of the Beast as when the Jews proclaimed, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15), believing that giving allegiance and obedience is an act of spiritual worship. Roman emperors permitted, encouraged, or enforced the people to worship them. The assumed divine names like Sebastos, meaning “one to be worshiped” and Divus, Deus, and Theos all connote “god.”

Idealists say the seven heads speak of the various manifestations of the beastly spirit in successive empires and Rome recovered from the wounding of one of its heads in John’s day—the death of Nero in A.D. 68. Rome recovered when Vespasian came to power in A.D. 69.

DEAD AND ALIVE (13:3). One of the heads of the Beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. This might be the revival of the Roman Empire or a fake resurrection enacted by the Antichrist, who is a great deceiver. Some think that the Antichrist will actually die, and be resurrected by Satan, since he will come from out of the Abyss (11:7). However, the Abyss is not the place of the dead— departed humans. It is also improbable that Satan has the power to give life since he is a created being!

Whether real or fake, the Beast through this resurrection will claim divine majesty and worship. The whole earth will be astonished (eyaumasyh, that is, in admiration) as the Antichrist appears to have been raised from the dead and will follow the Beast. Satan will obtain one of his goals. Mankind has worshiped him through idolatry and false religions; now completely deluded, mankind will worship Satan directly because he has given authority to the Beast (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:12, 14; 17:13) in accord with God’s power, plans and purpose (Revelation 17:17).

The world will ask, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” For forty-two months, the Antichrist will reign over the world’s last superpower! The Antichrist will have the absolute authority of a Nebuchadnezzar, the massive military of a Cyrus, and genius of an Alexander the Great, and he will be worshiped as a Caesar!

The Beast (the Antichrist) will receive great authority and power from Satan is great, for he:

1. Overcomes the saints (Revelation 13:7; 7:9-17; 20:4)
2. Conquers many nations (Revelation 13:7; Daniel 7:8, 23-24)
3. Destroys mystical Babylon (Revelation 17:12-17)
4. Kills the two witnesses (Revelation 11:7-12)
5. Change times and laws (Daniel 7:25)
6. Understands mysteries (Daniel 8:23)
7. Performs miracles (Revelation 13:1-18; 19:20; Daniel 8:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)
8. Controls money and commerce (Daniel 11:38-43; Revelation 13:17; 8:1-24)
9. Causes great deceptions (Revelation 13:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; John 5:43; Daniel 8:25)
10. Controls religion (Revelation 13:1-18; 14:9-11; 15:2; 16:2; 20:4-6; Daniel 11:36)
11. Controls all classes of people in his realm (Revelation 13:15, 17: 17:12-17)
12. Mobilizes nations to Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16; 19:19-21)
13. Fights Christ (Revelation 17:14; 19:11-21; Daniel 8:25; Zechariah 14:1-5)

THE BEAST OUT OF THE EARTH (13:11-15) is the seventh personage in this interlude. “Another” (allo) denotes this Beast is like the first Beast. He is the man at the head of the end time’s religious system, the False Prophet (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). This Beast wears no crowns, implying it is not a political power.

Historicists, who do not identify the Roman Church with the first Beast, hold that this Beast is papal Rome under Charlemagne, who returned the Roman Empire to paganism. The Beast has two horns like a lamb and mimics Jesus Christ. Bishops since Pope Gregory (A.D. 590) wear a pallium of lambs’s wool, a symbol of full Episcopal authority, and Abbots wear a miter with two points known as Goruti (“the horned ones”). Jesus warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15). The great and miraculous signs are the alleged miracles of Catholicism.

Preterists view this Beast as:

1. The cult of the emperor
2. The Roman procurator of Judea under Nero; the two horns being Albinus and Gessius Florus at the time of Jewish War
3. The Jewish religious system collectively since this Beast comes from the land (Israel)

Idealists see the second Beast supporting the first, but different in form and strategy. While the first is ferocious, the second seems harmless. Yet, it speaks like a dragon; it too is ferocious, devouring people spiritually instead of physically like the first Beast. Therefore, this Beast symbolizes false religion and false philosophy throughout this dispensation.

Futurists to a small degree believe this Beast imitates the Lamb of God, possibly a counterfeit Messiah. Most are of the opinion that this Beast is an individual, who heads the apostate church, which may be the Roman Catholic Church of the last days.

The Beast’s religion is identified by the title on the forehead of the woman who rides on it: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:5). Numerous practices and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church have been traced to mystery religions of Babylon by Alexander Hislop in his book The Two Babylon or The Papal Worship.

Others hold the second Beast is a Jew, since they see him coming out of the land (thv ghv) instead of the earth. He imitates the priestly and kingly authority of Christ. They argue he must be a Jew for the Jews to accept him. That argument presupposes Israel is unconverted at the beginning of the last forty-two months.

The False Prophet speaks like a dragon with the craftiness and cunningness of Satan on behalf of the Antichrist. He is empowered by Satan to have worldwide influence and reputation as a miracle worker and speaker with the same kind of authority and power of the First Beast but in the religious realm. He imitates Elijah by calling down fire from heaven while declaring the Antichrist to be God; an obvious counterfeit fulfillment of Malachi 4:5:

See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.

ABOMINATION THAT CAUSES DESOLATION: THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST (13:14-15) spoken of by Daniel and Jesus (Daniel 9:27; 11:21; 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) is set up on the west wing of the Temple of God in honor of the Beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. Compliance to worshiping the image of the first Beast happens because of deception, great miraculous signs and threats of death. Nebuchadnezzar’s attempt to be worshiped through an image failed but the Antichrist’s will not. Since Satan could not command worship in heaven, he will go to the next best place—the Temple of God in the Holy City. Antiochus Epiphanes foreshadows “the desolation that causes abomination” (Daniel 8:9-14).

THE MARK OF THE BEAST (13:16-18). In the Roman Empire, a mark was normally an identifying symbol or brand, which slaves and soldiers bore on their bodies. Ancient mystical cults delighted in such tattoos and God forbade the Israelites to have them (Leviticus 19:28). The Mark of the Beast is a way of enforcing an economic boycott on those who worship the true God. It has been suggested this might be an implanted computer chip or tattooed identification number such as one’s social security number.

No one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666 (Revelation 13:17-18).

The Greek reads: o ariymov autou {its number is} cxv {six hundred and sixty six}. Notice that Greek letters are employed for numerals, which also is true of Hebrew and Latin. Many attempts have been made to solve the mystery of the meaning of the number of the Beast. The earliest solution was by Irenaeus in the second century, who believed it to be the name Lateinos (Greek for “Latin”). He interpreted this name to signify Daniel’s Fourth Beast as “Latins” as well as the sum of “all apostate power,” a concentrate of six thousand years of unrighteousness, wickedness, deception, and false prophecy.

Using diverse methods of assigning numerals to letters in names of various languages, a host of names has been suggested for the Antichrist from Nero to Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin.

The key phrase seems to be “for it is the number of man.” The number of man six falls one short of God’s perfect number seven. One might speculate that the number 666 signifies an unholy trinity of the Dragon, Beast Out of the Sea and the Beast Out of the Land. The interpretation of this number, however, remains unknown to us but will play an important part in the end times. It will be understood by those belonging to God and who have wisdom in those days. For those who choose to accept the Mark of the Beast, the Bible warns that they will be doomed for all eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 14:9-10).

Clearly, there will be no separation of powers of government and religion in the end times.

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