The beast from the sea takes us back to Daniel 7:3, “and four great beasts came up from the sea.” Here, Daniel describes four beasts, and from the fourth beast comes ten horns. Among these ten horns, comes another horn, “a little one.” It is actually this little horn that is “the beast” in this prophecy. This little horn is the power of Satan that works through the bishop of Rome, to persecute the saints, and blaspheme God, with the help of the political power of the ten states of Europe that came out of the fallen Roman Empire.
From Daniel’s vision, the four beasts are four kingdoms
- Lion – Babylon
- Bear – Persia
- Leopard – Greece
- An exceedingly fierce beast (called a Dragon in Revelation) – Rome, and ten horns came out from this beast. The ten horns, or powers that came out of Rome were described below by Machiaveli, in his history of Florence (In fact, Machiaveli was a Romanist who opposed this interpretion).
These same four kingdoms were described in the vision of the statue in Daniel 2
- Head of Gold – Babylon
- Breast and Arms of Silver – Persia
- Thighs of Bronze – Greece
- Iron legs – Rome
- Ten toes that were part iron and part clay. Being that they cannot adhere to one another (vs 43) – meaning as separated language and culture
So how do we get to the seven heads, and ten horns that appears in Revelation 12:2, 13:1, and 17:3?
This is explained in Revelation 17:10, “five have fallen, one is (Rome), and the other has not yet come.”
The other kingdom, that “has not yet come” is explained in Revelation 17:12, as “ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they will receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.” In other words, these ten European states will have a relationship with the beast, the Pope, where the Church and state will rule the people in a kind of theocracy.
From John’s time we look backwards at the kingdoms of the world who kept the saints in captivity. John has called Rome and the Ten horns two separate kingdoms. To this we must add Egypt and Assyria.
This gives us our “seven heads and ten horns.” The powers against the saints.
And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore – In Revelation 12, we saw the work of the Dragon, and the “Red Dragon” (Rome, “the people of the Ruler to come”). This was described in Daniel 8:9-25, and Daniel 11:31-35. Now, we turn to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, described in Daniel 11:36-39; the one who Paul mentions in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. He has become “the False Lord” of the Church.
We have now passed the year 313 AD. Let us recapitulate what happened in Revelation Chapter 12, as explained by Daniel 9:26.
In Daniel 9:26 we learned that the “people of the ruler that is to come.
- shall destroy the city (70 AD; in Luke 21:24 and Revelation 11:2, ‘the city’ that Daniel mentions is equated to the New Jerusalem, with the same meaning as ‘the sanctuary’)
- and the sanctuary (193 AD, the abomination of desolation, Revelation 12:14)
- and the end of it shall be with a flood” (to 313 AD, the Great Persecution, Revelation 12:15)
- And till the end of the war desolations are determined.” (Revelation 12:17, we are now about to describe that war.)
The ruler of the people to come was Satan, the dragon, who Jesus called “the ruler of this world,” (John 14:30). In Daniel 8, Daniel identified him as the ruler of the Latins, in comparison to Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon; Cyrus the Great, the ruler of Persia; and Alexander the Great, the ruler of Greece.
The dragon, Satan, who was cast down in Rev 12:13, waits on the seashore for the beast to appear. The beast who is about to appear, will keep men away from the relationship God desires, resulting in man’s eternal destruction.
a beast – the beast in Revelation 13:1-2, and 17:3, are exactly the same. In Revelation 17:3, we are given the colour of this beast as “scarlet.”
This is really the same beast of seven heads and ten horns we met in Revelation 12:3. The difference will be explained in verses 3 and 14.
In verse 3, and 14, we see that Rome, the Red Dragon, has fallen. The different appearance of the beast, here, in Chapter 13 is to highlight the fact that Rome, the Red Dragon, has fallen, and yet the beast carries on, much to everyone’s amazement, as John mentions in verse 3. The beast was “wounded by the sword and lived,” vs 14. Now, the power that oppresses the saints will become a religious political power. The representative of that religious political power is the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.
coming up out of the sea – this expression brings us back to Daniel 7:3: “four beasts came out from the sea.” In verse 2, we will only see three of the four beasts, because Rome has fallen.
having ten horns and seven heads – these are the ten horns and seven heads described more clearly in Chapter 17.
on the horns were ten diadems – in this Chapter, we are no longer talking about the Red Dragon, the Romans. The diadems were on the heads in Revelation 12:3, but now power of the beast has now shifted to the ten horns. As explained clearly in Daniel 7:24, these ten horns are the ten European states that came out of Rome, and gave the beast its power.
Now we are in the fourth century. The fourth century is very significant for a few events. In 325 AD, the “universal” or “Catholic” Church was established through the Nicene Creed. The head of the “universal church” would be the “Bishop of Rome” who would be called “the Pope.” In 325 AD, the “Pope” named Sunday, “the Lord’s Day.” The Nicene Creed of 325 AD, began the Trinity doctrine, which was completed by the Nicene-Constantinople Creed of 381 AD.
on its heads were blasphemous names – this beast was represented by the Pope, who took names on himself, such as “Christ on earth,” and “Father.” And “Our lord god the Pope.” For example, on April 30, 1922, before cardinals, bishops, priests, boys, and girls who bowed their knees before him, Pope Pius XI, said: “you know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on the earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means I am God on the earth.” – Pope Pius XI, quoted in the Bulwark, October, 1922, p. 104.
(body) like a leopard, feet like a bear, mouth of a lion – here we are taken back to Daniel’s four beasts (see our discussion of the identity of those beasts under Daniel 7:1-8). There are only three described here: Greece (the leopard), Persia (the bear) and Babylon (the lion). Rome is not described. Rome was the “exceedingly dreadful” beast of Daniel 7:19, called “the Red Dragon” in Revelation 12:3. Rome was “the head that was slain,” in verse 3.
The mouth of the lion (Babylon) tells us that the King of Babylon is the Beast (Daniel 4:25), these are the “eyes and mouth” of Satan that speaks pompous words (Daniel 7:20). He is “the King of Kings,” as he was in the statue of Daniel 2:37. His kingdom will be described in more detail in Revelation 17.
one of the heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed – in Chapter 17:10, we will see these heads are seven kings: “five have fallen, one is, and one is yet to come.” The one that “is” in John’s time, was Rome. The fall of Rome, helps us to identify the time frame of this passage in verse 14. After Rome fell, the beast continued, through the power of the ten horns, where the diadems are now.
the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast – the power of Satan continued through an unusual relationship between the beast and the ten kings (horns). We will discuss this more in Revelation 17:8-18.
they worshiped the dragon – they worshiped Satan, the father of lies, without realizing it.
The Spirit of the Antichrist, behind the man, is Satan. He is the real “lawless one” (2 Thess 2:8). John called him the serpent of old (Rev 12:9), who deceived all of mankind when he first questioned God’s commandment, saying: “Indeed has God said you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” (Gen 3:1).
they worshiped the beast..”who is able to make war with him” – the beast is the false Lord and teacher who uses “religion” rather than weapons to exercise his control.
speaking arrogant words and blasphemies – here we can go back to Daniel 7:8,20; 11:36-37; 2 Thes 2:4.
The beast is a religious/political power and has “a voice.” Satan speaks to the world through his representative, the Bishop of Rome.
authority to act for 42 months – we have shown to be from 193 AD to 1471 AD (1278 days/years). Daniel 7:25 told us the “saints were given into his hand for time, times and half a time” – 42 months.
Jesus Christ established the true teachings of the Church in three and a half years (42 months). The beast, or “antichrist,” meaning “substitute Christ,” is a figurative person, represented by the Pope. He established false teachings over a period of three and a half years, which are 1278 days as years. (Days are as years throughout Daniel and Revelation).
The Spirit of Christ was “manifest in the flesh” in Jesus Christ. We might say that the Spirit of the Antichrist, “the lawless one” (2 Thess 2:8), was manifest in the flesh in the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome would later call himself “Vicarius Christi” in Latin, meaning “substitute Christ,” which translated in Greek is “antichrist.”
blasphemies against God – there are specifically two great blasphemies, we will see in verses 14-17: the creation of a three person God, and changing the commandment of God.
to blaspheme His name – he renamed God: “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”
and his tabernacle that is those who dwell in heaven – his false religion blasphemed those who would worship God in the spirit.
to make war with the saints and overcome them – see Daniel 7:21
authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation – this authority spread throughout the world, as described in Revelation 17:1, the “great harlot sits on many waters.”
all will worship him – the word for worship, in Greek, means to “bow down and kiss.” Not all believers worshipped the beast, as we mentioned in Chapter 11: the countries of Europe “swelled with dissidents who repelled as the Antichrist the Bishop of Rome.” They would not “bow down” to the Bishop of Rome or the “false Christ” he represented.
whose name has not written from the foundation of the world– Bible translations are divided on whether the phrase “from the foundation of the world” applies to the Lamb who was slain, or the writing of the name of the saints in the Book of Life. In the Greek, the phrase “from the foundation of the world” directly follows “the Lamb who was slain.” Therefore, this sentence is translated as, “the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world,” in the King James and New International Versions. Both views can be supported. Most definitely, Jesus Christ was the Lamb who was slain, in a forward looking manner. John 3:16 says: “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” The idea that one’s name was written in the Book of Life before creation, and before completing the course of life is supported by Ephesians 1:5, and Revelation 3:5.
if anyone has an ear let him hear – this advice was directed to those in the Reformation.
if anyone for captivity, to captivity he goes, if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed – this statement was first made by Christ in Matthew 26:52. The Reformation was a “war” between the Protestants and the supporters of the beast. Of course, it was God’s desire for the saints to free themselves from the beast, but not to act in the manner of men, in war. This is a warning against such behaviour, and its consequence.
here lies the faith and patience of the saints – in other words, the saints will try to deal with this crisis in a godly way. Martin Luther, in 1522 preached, saying:
I will preach, speak, write, but I will force no one; for faith must be voluntary. Take me as an example. I stood up against the Pope, indulgences, and all papists, but without violence or uproar. I only urged, preached, and declared God’s Word, nothing else. … Had I appealed to force, all Germany might have been deluged with blood 1
- Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. VII, ch. 4, sec. 68. ↩