Symbology: The Beast out of the Sea


Jesus said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Mat 22:21).

Now when the State demands that which belongs to God, namely worship, then it becomes a beast.

Think of what happened to Nebuchadnezzar when he claimed glory for himself rather than giving glory to God – he became like a wild animal (Dan 4:30-32). As an example think of the Roman empire that demanded emperor worship.

This beast of Rev 13 is a composite beast and is based on the beasts in Daniel 7.

Daniel sees four beasts: 1st lion | 2nd Bear | 3rd leopard with four heads | 4th Beast with iron teeth and ten horns.

These represent kingdoms – ‘The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth‘ (Dan 7:17 NIV).

These are combined into one beast in Revelation. In Revelation the emperor and the empire are interchangeable – thus when we think of Nero we think of the Roman empire in its opposition to Christianity.

It is possible to interpret the beast as the Roman empire, the empire of the Antichrist or all anti-Christian empires culminating in the last great empire of the Antichrist.

The Beast Out of the Sea (Rev 13:1-10)

As one studies this section, it is helpful to keep in mind that this prophecy is closely tied to the prophecies of Daniel (cf. Daniel 2:42, 44; 7:7, 8, 20; 8:25; 11:36; 9:27). Also remember that this is still a parenthetical section describing one of the key forces, kingdoms, and personages of the Tribulation. In his first advent, the Lord Jesus said:

He who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me. 46 I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My sayings, and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (John 12:44-47) (emphasis mine).

Two beasts are described in chapter 13, one from the sea (vs. 1) and one from the land (vs. 11). With the beast out of the sea, we come to that one who, regardless of his claims as the white horse rider or peace maker, comes as a great source of darkness into the world. He comes not to save the world, but to damn the world. In essence, what we have in this chapter in the rise of the beast and the false prophet is nothing short of the ‘trinity from hell’ in that both are the product of the machinations of that old serpent, the devil or Satan. 


Chapter 12 closed with the dragon who, knowing that his time was short, was enraged with the woman (Israel), and with him going off to make war with her children. In the first verse of chapter 13 in our English Bibles, we find him standing on the seashore with the beast rising up out of the sea, but in the Greek text this sentence is verse 18 of chapter 12. There is a logical progression here of cause and effect. The dragon standing on the sand of the seashore continues the story of the dragon of chapter 12 who, as explained in 12:9, is none other than Satan himself. Some manuscripts have “I stood,” i.e., John stood, but the older manuscripts have “he stood,” i.e., the angry dragon.

The logical progression is the angry dragon looks out over the sea, a picture of the Gentile world powers which he dominates.

He is looking for two things:

(a) For the best method with which to persecute Israel, and

(b) for the best way he can rise to greater power in order to be worshipped.

Chapter 13 describes the method he will choose, the end-time form of the old Roman empire which, by this point in the Tribulation, has developed into a ten nation confederation with a very subtle leader, one whom Satan will now use in the most hideous ways.

Who is Satan? As seen previously, he is the prince of this world and the god of this age. He is the fallen angel and the anointed cherub who fell from his place of service because he sought to be like the most high. Satan has always been desperately set on ruling men and being worshipped by them; now he sees his chance. The mystery of lawlessness has always been at work, but after the church age, the Restrainer (God indwelling His church by the Holy Spirit) has been removed (2 Thess. 2:6-7). Also, as Newell points out:

Because men by trifling with the truth and utter impenitence have opened the way, God will now send them a strong delusion that they may believe the devil’s lie (“the lie”—II Thessalonians 2:11, Greek).

The beast, therefore, set before us in Revelation 13, is the dragon’s masterpiece of delusion, leading to worship of himself (Revelation 13:4).[1]153 William R. Newell, The Book of the Revelation, Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, p. 185.

The “sand of the sea” undoubtedly portrays the many people who make up the nations, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea (Rev. 20:8). Standing on “the sand of the sea,” suggests Satan’s position as the usurper of the earth and its many peoples and of his power over them. Remember that Isaiah likens the nations to a roaring and restless sea that cannot be quiet and whose waters (their humanistic way of life and political agitation) can only churn up refuse and mud; a fitting picture of the products of a world without peace with God. They have no peace because they have rejected the true Prince of Peace and will turn to their own solutions to life and to the antichrist as their means to world peace, but in reality, this will be not much more than a self-centered pursuit for comfort and personal affluence (cf.Isa 17:12-13; Isa 57:20-21; Rev. 17:1, 15).

Before moving into chapter 13, a brief review of probable world conditions at this point will be profitable:

(1) The white horse rider who conquers (gains control) by peace tactics, power politics, and by his charismatic personality and persuasive language, has already risen on the scene (cf. Rev. 6:1-2; Dan. 8:23-25; 1 Thess. 5:11f). This brings about the ten nation confederation of Europe, a federation of nations that were once a part of the old Roman empire (cf. Dan. 2:42-44; 7:7-8, 20-24). We have the potential for this in NATO and in the European Common Market.

(2) The leader of this confederation will make a seven-year covenant with Israel designed to give Israel protection in the land and solve the very volatile Israel-Arab dispute of the coveted land of Palestine (Dan. 9:27). This treaty begins Daniel’s 70th week or the Tribulation.

(3) Three kings of the confederacy rebel, but the rising dictator defeats them (Dan. 7:8, 20-25) and emerges as the undeniable leader.

(4) It appears that the King of the North will at this point in the middle of the Tribulation attack Israel who will then be dwelling in the land in comparative peace and safety because of the covenant or peace treaty. This king of the North comes with his Arab allies, the Pan-Arabic block and her other allies (Ezek. 38:1-9).

(5) These armies (the King of the North and his allies) are destroyed on the mountains of Israel by the direct intervention of God (Ezek. 38:21-23). Regarding Ezekiel 38:1 and this invasion, Ryrie writes:

Ezekiel 38:1 Chapters Ezekiel 38 – Ezekiel 39 describe a future attack on Israel and God’s deliverance of His people.

The invading armies come out of the remote parts of the north (Ezekiel 38:15) to invade Palestine but are destroyed by supernatural intervention (Ezekiel 39:3). Seven months will be required to bury their corpses (Ezekiel 39:11-15), and their weapons will supply fuel for Israel for seven years (Ezekiel 39:9-10).

The time of the battle is unclear. Israel will be living in security, whether real or imagined (Ezekiel 38:11-12), which might indicate that the battle takes place before the middle of the Tribulation, while Israel feels secure under a treaty with Antichrist.

But the consummation of the battle involves birds and beasts eating the flesh of the warriors, a scene similar to the description of Armageddon at the end of the Tribulation (Ezekiel 39:17-20; Rev. 19:17-18). Also, at the conclusion of the conflict the nations will understand the judging hand of God, and Israel will know that the LORD (Yahweh) is their God (Ezekiel 39:21-22).

Perhaps the first thrust will begin just before the middle of the Tribulation, with successive waves of the invasion continuing throughout the last part of that period and building up to Armageddon. John envisioned a battle of Gog and Magog at the conclusion of the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:7-9), but this is different in time and characteristics from the one Ezekiel describes.

The common use of Gog and Magog does not equate the two battles. Here those words refer to a definite area, but in Revelation they refer to enemies of Christ worldwide.[2]154 Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, NASB, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 1323.

(6) This destruction of the King of the North will create a tremendous political vacuum in the world. Until now the head of the ten nation confederation has been a leader of the European Confederation only, but now with the dragon surveying the sea of nations, he sees the way open for world domination through this European dictator whom he has undoubtedly helped to bring to power. So now enters the system of the beast. The white horse rider who won his territory by peace tactics, now becomes the beast under the possession of Satan himself (Rev 13:2b).

From the context, the dragon looks out over the sea of nations and then implements the system of the beast to carry out his desired goals—the persecution of Israel and his own worship (cf. Rev 13:4-6).

“Then I saw a beast.” “Beast” is the Greek qhrion (cf. Rev 6:8; Rev 11:7) which refers to a wild and rapacious animal or beast. It is to be contrasted with zwon, “living creature,” used for the holy angels, and with kthnos, “a beast of burden” as an ox. Qhrion points out two things. First, it portrays the brutal, bloody, uncontrolled and wild character of the dictator and his system; it is inhuman. Second, qhrion portrays this antichrist figure as the epitome and paramount outgrowth of the character of Satan who is himself called “the great red dragon.”

As John is watching this scene, he sees the beast coming up out of the sea. “Coming up” is in a descriptive present which portrays the development of this man and his system through the political and military maneuvers that gradually bring him to power within the nations of Europe.

“The sea” as suggested, is symbolical of masses of people (cf. Rev. 17:15), and especially of the Gentile nations. The system of the beast will be derived from and will be the final Gentile world power to have dominion of Israel during the times of the Gentiles (see Luke 21:24). So Israel, as the nation to whom God promised the land of Israel, is related to the land, and the nations to the sea.

In support of this are following facts:

(1) In Revelation 17:1, 15 and Daniel 7:2-3, all the nations portrayed there, which are linked with the waters or the sea, are Gentile powers as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

(2) In the visions of Daniel 2 and Daniel 7, Daniel sees Gentile powers who will continue to rule and dominate over Israel until the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus called this “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). This began in 587 B.C. with the Babylonian captivity and will continue to the end of the Tribulation, until the return of Christ (Rev 19).

(3) One should also note and compare Daniel’s description of the four Gentile powers (Rev 7:4-25), especially the fourth, with that of John in Revelation 13:2-6.

(4) Daniel 9:26-27 clearly shows that the final world ruler would be a Roman, one out of the old Roman empire, a Gentile power.

(5) Finally, some see the “sea” here as a reference to the Mediterranean Sea and believe the beast, though a Gentile, will rise up out of the Mediterranean area. The “sea” here shows us that the beast is both a Gentile and from the Mediterranean area.

“Having ten horns and seven heads.” This monstrous representation portrays the nature of the end time kingdom, the final worldwide political system. But what exactly is the point of the ten horns and the seven heads? What do they stand for?

Remember that in prophecy it is sometimes hard to determine when a passage is speaking about the king or the kingdom since the kingdom is the epitome of the king from whom it gets its character. For instance, even in the U.S., we often speak of the administration in power by the name of the President, i.e., the Clinton administration. Likewise, a passage may refer to the king in one verse and the kingdom in the next, or vice versa. This is evidently the case here. Verses 1 and 2 look more at the kingdom, the empire; verse 3 includes both, and verses 4 and following refer more to the individual, the satanically controlled or possessed dictator. So “the beast” may refer to the end time kingdom, the empire, or to the dictator or both.


“The ten horns” is a reference to the ten nation confederation of the future which will form the nucleus of this end time kingdom. According to Daniel chapters 2 and 7, it will be a revived form of the old Roman empire since these ten nations will come out of the fourth nation which would arise after Daniel’s time, historically we know this was Rome (Dan. 7:7, 24).Revelation 17:12 also states that “the ten horns which you saw are ten kings.” These are ten kings who rule over ten nations, fragments of the old Roman empire. After the fall of the empire, Rome was divided up into many separate kingdoms which became the European nations of modern times. But in the end times, these nations, at least ten of them, will confederate together as one, forming what is in reality a revived Roman empire. Since the fall of Rome, these fragments of the old empire have continued to exist, but in the future, they will be brought together in a revived Roman empire.

Rome will undoubtedly become the headquarters of the new empire, both politically and religiously at least during the first half of the Tribulation (cf. Rev. 17:7, 18 which shows the close affiliation of the political part with the religious part in the first half). However, there is good reason to believe, as we shall see later, that this relationship will be broken by the beast who will then move his headquarters to Babylon which will be rebuilt in the last days (cf. Rev. 17:16-18; 18:16-19). We will look at the rebuilding of Babylon in a later study.


This system of the beast also has “seven heads. This is explained for us in 17:9-10. “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits and they are seven kings …” The seven heads are seven mountains and seven kings. Some see this as a reference first to the seven hill city of Rome, and then to seven dynasties or rulers of the old Roman empire, as kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes and emperors, or as seven successive emperors of Imperial Rome, as Nero (A.D. 54-68), Galba (A.D. 68), Otho (A.D. 69), Vitellius (A.D. 69), Vespasian (A.D. 69-79), Titus (A.D. 79-81), and Domitian (A.D. 81-91) under whom great persecution of the church occurred. So it would thus refer to the city and to those who ruled in Rome. Quite clearly the beast is not only a kingdom or an empire, but also a man (cf. 2 Thess. 2:8-9; Dan. 9:27; 11:36; 7:24-25).

But another and I believe a better interpretation of the seven heads is that the seven heads represent seven phases of Gentile powers or nations which find their culmination in the beast. The ten horns look at the future history of the beast and the seven heads, the pasthistory. The seven heads are mountains, seven successive historic Gentile kingdoms, who are represented by seven kings or rulers. This is supported by the following:

(1) Revelation 17:10 tells us the seven mountains are kings. This could indicate that the mountains are symbolical for the kingdoms these seven kings represent.

(2) Rome is known as the city of seven hills, but the hills of Rome are not mountains.

(3) The term mountain is commonly used in Scripture as an image of a kingdom (Psalm 30:7;Isaiah 2:3; Dan. 2:35, 45; Jer. 51:5).

(4) But more importantly, chapter 17 deals with the harlot system of Babylon which goes all the way back to the time of Nimrod and all these Gentile world powers have been her lovers and supporters, not Rome alone (cf. 17:1-2, 15). It is more likely that the seven mountains refer to seven successive Gentile kingdoms which go way back, far beyond Rome.

Then to which nations do these refer? It refers to the major world empires up to the time of Rome and which also were connected with the nation of Israel and her enslavements. These were:

(1) Egypt: This was the first great world empire and the cause of Israel’s enslavement before entrance into the land.

(2) Assyria: Historically this was the next great empire which took the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722 B.C.

(3) Babylon: or the Chaldean empire: This is where Daniel’s prophecies begin and where we have the captivity of Judah, the southern kingdom. In Daniel’s prophecies he does not list the three preceding Gentile powers because his prophecies look forward only from his time in history to the final Gentile power and the return of the Lord. But Revelation 13 and 17 both look back (the seven heads) and forward (the ten kings).

(4) Medo-Persia: This Gentile power followed Babylon and was the kingdom under which a remnant of Israel were allowed to return to the land to rebuild the city and the temple (cf. Ezra and Nehemiah).

(5) Greece: This was the kingdom of Alexander and his successors who likewise ruled over the land of Palestine.

(6) Rome: The Roman Empire of New Testament times was the empire of the emperors who reigned from before Christ: Augustus (30 B.C. – A.D. 14), to Domitian when Revelation was written (A.D. 81-96), and afterwards. During this time, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews dispersed world wide (A.D. 70 – A.D. 135). Later the Roman empire divided into the eastern and western divisions (the two legs of the image in Daniel 2) and finally fell, becoming fragmented into many nations.

What about the seventh head? Revelation 17:10-11 explains the seventh head. It is really a future kingdom though it has historical roots in the sixth kingdom. Revelation 17:10 says “five are fallen.” These five are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece. “One is,” which is the sixth, the Roman empire of John’s day. “And the other is not yet come,” this is the revived Roman empire, the ten nation confederation or the ten horns under the leadership of the white horse rider in the first half of the Tribulation.

Compare 17:11 with 17:8, “The beast which you saw was (refers to his past history, old Rome), and is not (does not presently exist; from John’s standpoint it would soon pass from the scene, i.e., the fall of Rome), and is about to come up (refers to the revived Roman empire).” Now in 17:11, this beast, the Roman empire represented by its king, becomes an eighth kingdom while at the same time being one of the seven, specifically, the seventh. The eighth refers to the imperial form of the revived Roman empire in the last half of the Tribulation under the power of the dictator, the man of lawlessness or the antichrist who is also called the beast.


The “ten diadems” refer to a form of self government and control. When the end time system first begins to rise up out of the sea of nations from the old Roman empire, it will be made up of ten independent nations each with their own king, though under the leadership of the beast. Later, in the middle of the Tribulation they give their power and authority to the beast (Rev. 17:13). However, as the system develops, three rebel and are conquered so that in the last half of the Tribulation there will only be seven crowns or nations (cf. 12:3b with Dan. 7:7-8, 20-22).


Next we read that “on his heads were blasphemous names.” This points out the blasphemous character of these Gentile powers and is one of the key characteristics of this system of the future and especially of its leader.

This will be done in three primary ways:

(a) by claiming that he is God,

(b) by trying to usurp the place of God, (2 Thess. 2:4; Dan. 7:8), and

(c) by slandering the true God (Rev. 13:6; Dan. 11:36-37; 7:25).

The composite nature of the beast is seen in the words, “the beast is like a leopard, … a bear, … and a lion (Rev. 13:2a).

Theodore Epp in his commentary on Revelation has an excellent explanation of this composite nature of the beast. He writes:

This verse gives a further description of the coming wicked kingdom and its ruler during the Tribulation. The description of this beast is a composite of the characteristics of the other beasts mentioned in Daniel 7.

There the first three kingdoms are characterized by a lion (v. 4), a bear (v. 5), and a leopard (v 6). These animals represented the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. The characteristics of these kingdoms are combined in the last kingdom which will be the ten-kingdom Roman Empire. The Roman Empire in Daniel 7 was seen as indescribable because it was “diverse from all the beasts that were before it” (v. 7).

This empire, as seen in Revelation 13, will have all the brilliance, culture and swiftness of a leopard—a reference to the previous Grecian Empire. It will also have the tremendous strength, tenacity of purpose, and brutality of a bear—a reference to the Medo-Persian Empire. Then too it will have the autocratic and majestic power of a lion—a reference to the Babylonian Empire.[3]155 Theodore H. Epp, Practical Studies in Revelation, Vol. II, Back to the Bible Broadcast, Lincoln, NE, p. 203.


Verse (3a). “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain … and it was healed.” As explained previously, the seven heads of Revelation 17 refer to seven mountains or seven successive world governments extending back to the time of Egypt, but reaching forward to the revived Roman empire of the first half of the Tribulation and the ten nation confederation. Here John sees one of these heads, that is, one of these world powers with a fatal wound that was healed. But Revelation 17:10 also teaches us that these seven heads are also seven kings. Now, as we look at this passage, several questions need to be asked and answered.

Question 1: To which one of the seven heads does this refer?

Revelation 17:8-11 answers this for us. It is the seventh head, i.e., the revived form. It is the head which “was, (old Rome) and is not, (the fallen Roman empire in its fragmented condition) and is about to come” (the revived Roman empire of the first half of the Tribulation, and the imperial form which becomes an eighth in the last half of the Tribulation). The words, “was, is not, and is about to come” are equivalent to the fatal wound that was healed.

Question 2: Does this refer to the empire or to the king or both?

Some believe that Revelation 13:3 refers to some resurrected being of past history as Judas or Nero or even to one of the more recent rulers like Napoleon or Hitler or, because of the fatal wound to the head, even John F. Kennedy. Others believe it refers only to the revival of Rome as a world empire.

The primary restoration here has to be that of the Roman empire, the political system of this satanically-controlled man. This seems clear from Revelation 13:1-2 and 17:8-9 which relates the beast to world kingdoms or nations. In Rev 13:2 the beast is seen as a composite of the kingdoms of Babylon, Greece and Medo-Persia, and in Rev 17:9 the beast is related to seven mountains, world kingdoms on which the woman sits. This is evident from Rev 17:1 and Rev 17:15 which shows us, under another figure, that of water, that these are nations upon which she sits.

Yet, other verses indicate that a person, a political leader is also in view. In Rev 13:5-6 we see the beast as a person opening his mouth in blasphemy against God. In Rev 13:14 an image is to be made of the beast and in Rev 13:18 his number is the number of man. Finally, the beast’s final doom is to go to destruction, literally “and into destruction he goes” (cf. Rev 17:8, 11, 19-20 with 2 Thess. 2:3). This clearly shows that the political leader is also in view. As pointed out earlier, it is often hard to distinguish between the king and the kingdom because the kingdom is the personification of the king.

Revelation 17:9-12 moves from the kingdom, to the king, to both, and back to the king who goes into perdition or destruction (Rev. 19:20). Therefore, it seems best to take the “deadly wound that was healed” of Rev 13:3, as with the words, “was, is not, and is about to come” (Rev. 17:8, 11) to refer to the fall and restoration of the Roman empire in its imperial form. As mentioned, this is evident because the beast is seen as a composite of empires of past history (Rev 13:2). However, it is likely that Satan will bring off an apparent death and resurrection of this man of lawlessness, the leader of the empire, to correspond with the restoration of the imperial form of the Roman empire. This will cause the world to marvel and follow after the beast and accept his dictatorship as the emperor (cf. Rev 13:3-4; Rev 17:8).

Question 3: Will this be a literal and real resurrection of some historic figure either of the past like Judas or Hitler or of some future figure?

The answer is, No! It will be an apparent death and resurrection to counterfeit and create an imitation of Christ’s death and resurrection. It will involve something apparently miraculous, but it will not be the resurrection of someone who has died, decayed, and who will be resurrected to life by Satan.

Note several reasons this will not be a genuine resurrection:

(1) The concept of “the abyss” (Rev. 11:7; 17:8). This does not mean that this man himself will be raised up out of hell or gehenna or hades. This simply means that the source and power of the beast and his system is Satan himself. The abyss is the abode of demons and not of man (cf.Rev. 9:1-2, 11; Luke 8:31; 2 Pet. 2:4). The system will be demonically inspired and controlled. This is the point of Revelation 11:7 and Rev 17:8.

(2) The translations “as if it had been slain” (NASB) or “seemed to have had a fatal wound” suggest either an apparent death (near death) but did not really die. Literally the Greek says, “as slain unto death.” There is really no “if” here. Some have argued that the “if” implies this is only an apparent death. Though I do not believe the beast will literally die and be brought back to life, we should note the exact same words are used of the Lord in Revelation 5:6 and certainly the Lord really died. If the leader is involved here, the key may be found in the word “slain” which is sfazw, “to slay, slaughter.” It was a sacrificial term used of the animals of sacrifice. The use of this word indicates that the deadly wound will be designed to be like the slaying of the Lamb; it will be designed to imitate the death of Christ, if not in method, at least in purpose or function. So the use of this word doesn’t really prove it was a real death, only an apparent death. It suggests it was part of Satan’s strategy to imitate Christ’s death and resurrection. Here is Satan’s masterpiece of deceit.

(3) Nowhere else in Scripture is it indicated that Satan has the power of resurrection or the power to produce life. Instead of being a life giver, he is portrayed as a life taker, a murderer or a destroyer. He has “the power of death” (Heb. 2:14). Only Christ is seen as the One who gives life (cf. 1 Cor. 15:22; John 11:25; 5:24-29).

(4) The wicked or the unbelieving dead are confined in torments until the great white throne judgment and there is no suggestion from Scripture that God would allow them to be brought up from their confinement before their time of judgment.

(5) Satan is, however, the master deceiver and he could easily perform such a deception as an apparent death and resurrection (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 12:9; 13:14-15).

So, more than likely this is a counterfeit, a supreme deception, and an attempt to imitate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in correspondence with the revival of the imperial form of Rome in order to gain the worship of the world.


And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast.” Concerning this coming world dictator, David Levy writes: “Most world dictators have proven to be persuasive speakers, able to motivate the masses to their political ideology. Like Adolf Hitler, who was able to mesmerize a whole nation by his inspiring speeches, the Antichrist will be no exception.[4]156 David Levy, “The Coming World Ruler,” Israel My Glory, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, p. 21.

His persuasive speech and cunning is actually anticipated in Daniel 8:23. Historically, in the near view of prophecy, this passage pertained to Antiochus and his persecution of the Jews, but ultimately, it seems to look forward to the rise of the beast (see Rev 8:19). Walvoord writes:

There is no question among expositors that Antiochus is in view in this prophecy. What was prophesied was fulfilled literally through him. However, the prophecy looks beyond Antiochus to a future person (the Antichrist) of whom Antiochus is only a foreshadowing. This coming one is said to “stand against the Prince of princes” (v. 25). This can be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the prophecy must go beyond Antiochus and look forward to the coming of one whose ministry will parallel that of Antiochus.[5]157 John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Scripture Press, Wheaton, IL, 1983, 1985, electronic media.

So what can we learn from Daniel?

Daniel 8:23-25 And in the latter period of their rule, When the transgressors have run their course, A king will arise insolent and skilled in intrigue (ambiguous speech and deception). 24 And his power will be mighty, but not by his own power (he will operate by Satan’s power and by God’s permissive will), And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree And prosper and perform his will; He will destroy mighty men and the holy people. 25 And through his shrewdness (cunning and craftiness) He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence (his ability to persuade and delude); And he will magnify himself in his heart, And he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, But he will be broken without human agency.

In Revelation 13:3 the words, “the whole earth,” shows the knowledge of this deception will reach everyone. This will be an easy matter with our present media capacity, with TV satellites and world-wide TV reception. This is undoubtedly one of the factors leading to his world-wide authority described in verse 7.

“Amazed” is the Greek qaumazw meaning “to cause one to marvel, wonder, or wonder at.” It is a causative verb. The tense is culminative and looks at the effect, the culmination of this deception of Satan that leads to the amazement of the world.

And followed after.” Literally the Greek simply says “and the whole earth marveled after the beast.” “After” is opisw, a strong preposition of place, “behind, after.” It stresses that the world marvels and is so amazed that it gawks after the beast, following along in startled amazement. This is part of “the strong delusion” and part of “the lie” that Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

In this worship of the dragon and his beast, two things will be acknowledged by the people of the world (except for believers):

(a) his uniqueness “who is like the beast” and

(b) his power “and who is able to make war with him.

This will be the final touch that brings absolute sovereignty to his reign. Also, this will be the one great goal for which Satan has been striving for centuries. This worship of the dragon shows that not only will demonism be rampant, but openly visible. The world will worship the devil through the system of the beast. Satan will openly be the god of this age.


Remember that one of the purposes of the Tribulation is to show the character of Satan and his kingdom. We see it here very clearly through the beast. It includes:


The horrible blasphemies of the beast demonstrate the anti-religious, anti-God element in the character of the beast. His blasphemies against God and God’s people, however, are ultimately aimed at promoting the worship of the beast himself. He will speak against God and His name. This includes mocking God’s holy character and essence. Perhaps he will even claim he has defeated God or that God is dead. He will speak against God’s dwelling place and those who dwell in heaven; this could include making fun of the goodness and righteousness of believers and of those who have sacrificed their lives for Jesus Christ while the beast and his followers live in the riotous pleasures of sin. Filled with disappointed rage, Satan will use the beast whom he controls to promote such words of blasphemy that it will make the worst blasphemies of history seem trifling by comparison!


Satan has always hated believers and done everything in his power to persecute the people of God whether Israel or the church, but he has been restrained by the hand of God. Without that restraint, God’s people would have perished from the earth. During the Tribulation, however, his persecution of the people of God will know no limits. It will be given to him by the sovereign plan of God to make war and even to overcome the saints, that is, kill them. As verse 7b shows us, this rule of the beast will end in slavery to Satan and to the flesh. Men will think they have freedom to do as they please, but find themselves with no mind of their own, dominated by the beast and by their flesh.

HIS AUTHORITY (Rev 13:2B, 5B, 7B, 10)


And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.” In verse 4 we are told that the world will marvel at this beast and wonder, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” To the world of unbelieving and rebellious people, this beast will seem invincible and from the human standpoint, the answer to their question is simply, no one! His power will come from Satan; it is demonic and supernatural, far beyond the abilities of ordinary men, and far beyond anything the world knows today. He will be so powerful, self-sufficient, and impressed with his power, he will actually honor no one except “the god of fortresses” (Dan. 11:38) or military power and conquests.

Repeatedly, the Scriptures tell us that this last time dictator and his government will be the epitome of a Satan-inspired government. In fact the beast himself will be literally possessed by Satan from all accounts. No human being can be as cunning, as ruthless, lawless, vile and blasphemous as this man without being either demon possessed or at least under the total control of Satan. Note what Lutzer and DeVries have written in regard to this coming world ruler.

… there is a network of organizations committed to bringing about a unified world order to address our major problems with creative solutions. Leading the pack will be a world ruler with the charisma to unify all religions and to weld a political structure with the muscle to forge global subjection. He will be both priest and king, both messiah and world emperor.

Remember that this ruler will derive his strength from the same source as Adolf Hitler, who controlled Germany with such hypnotic magnetism that his leadership was practically irresistible. Several books have been written that document Hitler’s involvement with Eastern occultism. Indeed, the swastika is a Hindu symbol of divinity. Hitler’s mentor, Dietrich Eckart, predicted that Hitler would be a world leader. Hitler was manipulated by invisible forces which he called “Unknown superiors,” in reality, demons who both controlled and terrorized him. Hitler told his friend Rauschning that he was founding the Man-God order and that splendid being would be an object of worship. Rauschning said of Hitler:

One cannot help thinking of him as a medium … the medium is possessed … beyond any doubt, Hitler was possessed by forces outside himself . . of which the individual named Hitler was only the temporary vehicle.[6]158 Gerald Suster, Hitler: The Occult Messiah, St. Martin Press, New York, 1981, p. 120.

Hitler’s hatred of the Jews and his belief in the superiority of the Aryan nations were undoubtedly derived from Hinduism with its belief in the cast system—the idea that certain people are born inferior to others and that weeding out the undesirables is part of good leadership.

The New Messiah will be the Antichrist of Revelation 13. He will be worshipped on earth and will have awesome authority.[7]159 Erwin W. Lutzer and John F. DeVries, Satan’s Evangelistic Strategy for This New Age, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1989, pp. 146-147.

In this chapter that gives us God’s revelation of this evil end time system, an interesting phrase is repeated six times (six is the number of manifested evil [cf. vs. 18]). The phrase, “was given to him,” occurs twice in verse 5, twice in verse 7, and in verses 14 and 15. Now what is the Tribulation, especially the last half? It is a time of divine judgments unleashed on the world for its continued rebellion. The repetition of “and it was given to him” indicates God’s judicial unleashing of powers of incipient evil of which this world cannot, in its wildest imagination, dream.[8]160 Newell, p. 190.

But we must not forget that all of this occurs by the will of a sovereign God who uses Satan as His instrument of judgment on a stubborn, rebellious, unrepentant, and unbelieving world (see again Rev. 9:21). Throughout history God has repeatedly used Satan’s schemes and evil men as instruments of His judgment (cf. Isa. 10:5-13).

Speaking of God’s use of Assyria as “the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hands is My indignation” (vs. 5), God goes on to say, “Yet it does not so intend nor does it plan so in its heart, but rather it is its purpose to destroy, and to cut off many nations” (vs. 7). Then in verse 13 we are told, “For he (Assyria) has said, ‘By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, … ’” The Assyrian king was acting from his own evil desires and will, but he was still an instrument raised up by God as a tool of discipline. This is often perplexing for man. He asks, “Why does God permit or allow it to go unpunished and why does He use the likes of the Assyrians or of the beast in judgments?” The prophet Habakkuk had similar questions.

The book presents a picture of a man who trusted God, yet was perplexed.


(1) Why did God permit the increasing evil in Judah to go unpunished (Rev 1:2-4)?

(2) How could a holy God justify using the Babylonians, a people more wicked than the Jews, to punish the Jews (Rev 1:12 – Rev 2:1)? The answer to the first question is recorded in 1:5-11 and to the second in Rev 2:2-20. Thus the book is a theodicy, a defense of God’s goodness and power in view of the existence of evil.[9]161 Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, NASB, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 1442.

In Revelation 13, Satan is allowed to give the beast three things.


(1) “Power.” This is the Greek dunamis, which it is often used of miraculous powers, the power to perform miraculous wonders (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9; Heb. 2:4; Acts 2:22; Acts 6:8). Satan will perform miraculous feats through this man as a part of his deception (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9-12 and Rev. 13:3-4).

(2) “His throne.” This refers to his position as king or emperor of the revived Roman empire, ruling supremely over the rest of the nations.

(3) “Great authority.” This would refer to the extension of his rule beyond the ten nation confederation as spelled out in Revelation 13:7, “authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” Occurring under the sovereignty of God and as an element of His judgment, Satan will undoubtedly have the ability to raise up political rulers (Luke 4:5-8; 1 John 5:19; John 16:11; John 12:31; John 14:30; Eph. 6:12). During the Tribulation, as the unseen ruler of this world, Satan will have complete rule through the man of lawlessness, the beast, for a short time.


The beast will be given authority to act for forty-two months. In view of what we learned from chapter 12, this means from the middle of the Tribulation to the return of Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus said to the rabble who came to arrest him, “This is your hour, and the power (Greek exousia) of darkness.” What a scene followed in the next few hours! But God will give up the whole earth, except His elect, for three and one-half years to this direful scene of Revelation 13.[10]162 Newell, p. 191.


His authority will extend to all peoples, to all the earth dwellers or earthlings, those whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life. True believers, those who do not worship the beast nor receive his mark (vs. 16), are here excluded; they do not worship him, but rather in many cases they will die for their faith. More will be said on the book of life later in this study of Revelation. These Tribulation saints, though many will die for their faith, will overcome the beast and the next words are especially addressed to them in verses 9-10.


v.9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. v.10 If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints. (NASB)

v.9 He who has an ear, let him hear. v.10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. (NIV)

As can be seen from the difference in these translations, there is a major textual problem in the last half of verse 10 which affects our understanding of the meaning of this passage. The problem involves whether the first reference to the verb “kill” is an active future (“will kill”), or a aorist passive (“be killed”). The KJV, RSV, Phillips, NASB all follow the reading of the majority of MSS and render it, “If anyone kills with the sword.” Concerning this reading, Johnson writes:

Combining this with the last phrase, the latter part of the verse yields either a warning directed toward Christians for them not to turn to violence and killing to vindicate themselves or a promise of requital to believers that their persecutors will be judged by God.

If, on the other hand, we follow the reading of A[11]163 Preferred by Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, New York: UBS, 1971, p. 750. [MSS witness], the translation will be as in NIV … This yields the sense that Christians who are destined by God for death must submit to his will and not resist the oppressor. It is an appeal to loyalty.[12]164 Alan Johnson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1981, p. 536.

Following the reading of the KJV or the NASB, Ryrie writes regarding verses 9-10:

The phrasing of verse 9 indicates a call to serious attention. An important principle is about to be announced in verse 10. It is the principle of retribution. After all that has been said about the power of the beast, verse 10 is a word of great comfort. The captor will be taken captive; the killer will be killed. When God’s purposes are finished through the beast, God will take him captive and confine him to the lake of fire. In the knowledge of this is the patience and faith that sustains the saints who endure these persecutions.[13]165 Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation, Moody Press, Chicago, 1968, p. 84.

Note that there are three “if” clauses in verses Rev 13: 9-10:

“If anyone has an ear” is addressed to anyone who might have ears to hear the Word of God. The only possible means of deliverance is through faith in the Word of God.

The second two “if” clauses (regardless of the reading discussed above) warn against anyone taking matters into their own hands to oppose this Satanic system by force. This is Satan’s hour, but it will be short lived and God’s people will triumph in the end. Knowing this and resting in it by faith will give endurance. So here is the assurance that God will bring sure judgment and defeat on the beast.

Finally, we should note one more thing about those who are addressed in verse 9 in the invitation to hear. Walvoord writes:

A close parallel as well as a contrast is also observable between this invitation and the invitation to the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 where the exhortation is to “hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.” The omission of the phrase “unto the churches” in Rev 13:9 is most significant and tends to support the teaching that the church, the body of Christ, has previously been raptured and is not in this period. This instruction is not addressed to the churches. The exhortation in Revelation 13 is much wider. It is to anyone who will listen, and the message is not addressed to the church as such but to the entire world.[14]166 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, pp. 203-204.


(1) He will be a Gentile (Rev. 13:15; Dan. 7) out of the sea, i.e., Gentile nations (Dan. 9:27). “The Prince of the people that shall come,” specifically he will be from the old Roman Empire.

(2) Politically he will become the dictator of the revived imperial Roman empire of the last half of the Tribulation (Rev. 13; Dan. 9:27; 7:8). The beast and his system will become the final form of this Gentile world power. He begins as a political peacemaker and leader of a ten nation European confederation, but soon turns into the beast and dictator.

(3) Religiously he supports, as all other Gentile powers before him, the ecumenical religion of Babylon, the harlot system of the first half of the Tribulation (Rev. 17:7), but turns against it in the last half to become himself the object of man’s worship (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:17:16-17).

(4) He is under the direct control of Satan and is Satan possessed (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:2). Thus, he is called the beast (tJhrion) because Satan, the dragon is his master (cf. 9:11; 11:7; 17:6; 16:13).

(5.) He has many names:

(a) The little horn of Daniel 7:8.

(b) The king of fierce countenance (Dan. 8:23).

(c) The willful king of Daniel 11:36-40 (some refer this to the second beast but this doesn’t fit the circumstances of Daniel 11 or Revelation 13).

(d) The prince that shall come (Dan. 9:27).

(e) The man of sin or lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:3-10).

(f) The rider on the white horse (Rev. 6:2).

(g) The beast (Rev. 13:1).

(h) The antichrist (1 John 2).

(6.) His empire is called and viewed as:

(a) The beast with seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 17:8-13; Rev 13:1-2), like a leopard, a bear, and a lion.

(b) The feet of the image of Daniel with ten toes made of iron and clay mingled together (see Dan. 2:31-45).

(7.) His character and rise to power:

  Because of fear of a nuclear holocaust, population explosion, environmental destruction, etc., the world will be crying for “peace and safety.” This man will come on the scene with great persuasive power, personality magnetism, craft and oratorical skill, and he will persuade the West (Europe and probably the Americas) that he has the answer for peace. (The Americas are likely to be included because they are a part of the harlot system which he controls.) He will gain his ascendancy to power as a peacemaker (Dan. 8:25; 1 Thess. 5:3; Rev. 6:2; Dan. 9:27).

  A ten nation confederation will be formed, an alliance against the king of the North and the East (Dan. 2:7:7; Rev. 13:1; 17:12). He begins under demon influence and possession, to be lifted up with pride and to magnify himself and begins to get visions of world power (Dan. 8:25; 11:36; 2 Thess. 2:4).

  Three kings out of the ten rebel and are destroyed (Dan. 7:8, 24).

  The king of the North (perhaps Russia) is destroyed about the middle of the Tribulation and this leaves a vacuum (Ezek. 38).

  Satan is also restricted to earth, totally possessing this man and produces the beast who then begins to persecute Israel, breaks the covenant and overtly magnifies himself as god (Rev. 12:13; 2 Thess. 2:3f; Dan. 8:24; 9:21). He introduces idol worship of himself.

  His apparent death and resurrection followed by his rise to power as emperor of the revived Roman empire will astound the world. It may be that Satan will create the impression of a resurrection of this man from a mortal wound which will coincide with his swift rise as dictator in the middle of the Tribulation (Rev. 13:3, 12, 14; 17:8).

  There will come a challenge of his authority from the East at the end of the Tribulation (Rev. 16:12-16). This is the second phase of Armageddon. All the remaining armies, those aligned with the West and those of the East will be brought together to fight at Megeddo (Rev. 16:16; Rev 19:17-19).

  Jesus Christ will come at this time and the rule of the beast will be terminated by the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 19:19-20; Dan 7:22, 26; Dan 8:25; Dan 9:27; Dan 11:45).

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1 153 William R. Newell, The Book of the Revelation, Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, p. 185.
2 154 Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, NASB, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 1323.
3 155 Theodore H. Epp, Practical Studies in Revelation, Vol. II, Back to the Bible Broadcast, Lincoln, NE, p. 203.
4 156 David Levy, “The Coming World Ruler,” Israel My Glory, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, p. 21.
5 157 John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Scripture Press, Wheaton, IL, 1983, 1985, electronic media.
6 158 Gerald Suster, Hitler: The Occult Messiah, St. Martin Press, New York, 1981, p. 120.
7 159 Erwin W. Lutzer and John F. DeVries, Satan’s Evangelistic Strategy for This New Age, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1989, pp. 146-147.
8 160 Newell, p. 190.
9 161 Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, NASB, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 1442.
10 162 Newell, p. 191.
11 163 Preferred by Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, New York: UBS, 1971, p. 750.
12 164 Alan Johnson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1981, p. 536.
13 165 Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation, Moody Press, Chicago, 1968, p. 84.
14 166 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, pp. 203-204.

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