Chapter Eight - The Two Beasts (12:1-13:18)


1. WAR ON EARTH: PHASE 1 (12:1-6)

With chapter 12 we begin another parenthetical and explanatory portion of Revelation that discusses seven great personages of the Tribulation. These seven personages of 12:1-14:20 are:

  1. the woman who represents the Virgin Mary and the nation Israel (12:1-27);

  2. the great red dragon, a picture of Satan (12:3-4);

  3. the male child, the Lord Jesus and His church (12:5);

  4. Michael who represents the holy angels (12:7);

  5. the remnant of the woman, regenerate Israel (12:17);

  6. the beast out of the sea, the world dictator, i.e., Antichrist (13:1-10); and

  7. the beast out of the earth, the false prophet and religious leader of the world (13:11-17).

Chapter 12 is descriptive of warfare, but it is primarily a conflict involving angelic forces, particularly, the fallen angels or the demonic world under Satan's authority. Of course, Satan often employs human means to accomplish his purposes (as with the persecution of Israel) but what we must always keep in mind, is that behind the scenes is Satan and his demonic forces. The warfare of this chapter occurs first on earth, (12:1-6), then in Heaven, (12:7-12) and finally on earth again (12:13-17).

In chapter 12 we have a clear revelation of the ultimate cause and answer to the problem of the anti-Semitism which has been a grim recurrence from the very early beginnings of Israel's history. Part of the reason for the hatred and persecution which the Jews have endured over the centuries is the divine judgment of God for disobedience and rejection of the Word (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Leviticus 26:14-46). But another reason is Satan's long-time hatred of Israel as the source of Christ, the means of Satan's defeat and condemnation. In Genesis 3:15 we have the prophecy of this conflict and God's declaration of Satan's defeat through the seed of the woman. The nation God chose for this, as seen in the covenant that God made with Abraham, was Israel. Thus, Israel has been the perpetual object of Satan's hatred, the ultimate cause behind all anti-Semitism.

1.1. The First Sign in Heaven (12:1-2)

Verse 12:1

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

A "sign" (Greek: σημεῖον, transliteration: sēmeion) shows that the woman who constitutes the "sign" is not an actual woman, but symbolically represents some other entity or group.

The "greatness" (Greek: μέγα, transliteration: mega) of the sign shows that it is something remarkable and very significant and vast in its appearance.

The "heaven" is the location from which the dragon is cast out a little later (cf. 12:7-9). So John sees the great sign in heaven portraying events that will happen on earth.

The "sign" consists of "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars."

There are two possible interpretations of the "woman":

  1. the Virgin Mary (Individual Sense); and

  2. the nation Israel (Corporate Sense).

1.1.1. The Virgin Mary (Individual Sense)

The inclination to identify the woman as the Virgin Mary rests on the use of similar terminology in Matthew 1:18, 23 to describe Mary in her pregnancy and similarities in language to the prophecy of the virgin birth in Isaiah 7:10-11, 14. However, this interpretation alone is unsatisfactory, there must be a deeper symbolic sense due to the following reasons:

  1. As I have mentioned before, it is a symbolic "woman," not a real one.

  2. Impossibility of this being a single individual in light of "the rest of her offspring" in Revelation 12:17. The dragon's persecution of this latter group must be aimed at more than the children of one mother.

  3. She will be persecuted during the Tribulation period (Revelation 12:6, 13-17). How can the Virgin Mary be persecuted by Satan and fled into the wilderness for one thousand two hundred and sixty days? (i.e., three and a half years, the latter half of the 7 years Tribulation Period). Why the Virgin Mary need to escape from the persecution of Satan during the Tribulation Period?


In the hills above Ephesus stands a shrine called the House of Mary (Meryemana), which is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. Here, according to one tradition, Mary lived until her death, after accompanying John to Ephesus. At his crucifixion, Jesus told John to care for his mother (John 19:25-27). The House of Mary in Ephesus was discovered by a German nun named Catherine Emmerich and a local priest on 29th July, 1891.


1.1.2. The Nation Israel (Corporate Sense)

The woman is the nation of Israel. This is evident for the following reasons:

  1. Her description is reminiscent of Genesis 37:9-10 where these Heavenly bodies, the sun and the moon, represent Jacob and Rachel. This identifies the woman with Israel and the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.

  2. The "crown of twelve stars" would link her to the 12 tribes of Israel or the 12 sons of Jacob, the patriarchs of Israel.

  3. In verse 2 she "gave birth to a son," one who rules with a rod of iron (12:5). This is the Lord Jesus Christ, who as promised in Scripture, was from the nation of Israel (Matthew 1:1-25; cf. also Psalms 2:8-9; Revelation 2:27; 19:15).

  4. The figure of Israel as a travailing woman (Isaiah 26:17-18; 66:7; Jeremiah 4:31; 13:21; Micah 4:10).

  5. The Jewish Messiah could be regarded as a child of the Jewish community. The Messiah, born under the Law, was the product of the Old Testament people of God (cf. Galatians 4:4).

  6. Reference to the Ark of the Covenant in Revelation 11:19 adds to the evidence for this national identification.

  7. She is Israel, the nation, and not simply Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, is clear from the fact she will be persecuted in the last half of the Tribulation (12:6, 13-17). So the woman is the nation of Israel, the source of Messiah.

1.1.3. Conclusion

The woman symbolizes the Virgin Mary in individual sense and the nation of Israel in corporate sense (i.e., the deeper sense).

The description given here is not merely to identify her but to describe her in queenly terms because of Israel's prominence in the plan of God and especially in the Millennial reign of Christ. This identifies her with the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (cf. Psalms 89:21-37).

Verse 12:2

She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.

Verse 2 describes the woman in travail, waiting to give birth to the Christ child. This undoubtedly refers to the sufferings of the Virgin Mary and her nation and her troublesome and restless times at the first advent of Christ. She was even then suffering under not only the judgment of the deportations (Matthew 1:11, 17) but the hatred of Satan. In fact, it was because of the Roman rule that Mary and Joseph had to make the trip to Bethlehem for the census during the winter when Christ was born (Luke 2:1-21).

"Birth pangs" is the figure of Israel as a travailing woman as occurs so often in the Old Testament (Isaiah 13:8; 21:3; 26:17-18; 61:7-8; 66:7; Jeremiah 4:31; 13:21; 22:23; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:10; 5:2-3). Just as a woman feels the pains of childbirth, so did the nation in preparation for the coming of Christ. The cause of these pains, at least in part, is the persecution of the nation inspired by Satan in an attempt to stop the birth and destroy this people of God (Matthew 2:13-23). The birth she is awaiting is the faithful community's begetting of the Messiah. Israel was in travail at the time of Christ's first coming due to the ruling by the Roman Emperor and also the persecution by Satan.

The persecution of the Virgin Mary and nation Israel inspired by Satan can be summarized as follows:

  1. Pharaoh attempt to destroy all the male babies (Exodus 1:15-22).

  2. The attempt of Haman to kill the race of Israel (Esther 3:1-9:25).

  3. Through Balak and Balaam to corrupt Israel (Numbers 23:9, 10, 19-24; 24:5-9, 16-24; 25:1-2; 31:15-18).

  4. Attempts of the Israelites to murder their own children for sacrificial purposes (cf. Leviticus 18:21; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chronicles 28:3; Psalms 106:37-38; Ezekiel 16:20).

  5. In 722 BC the ten northern tribes were taken into exile by the Assyrians.

  6. During the period 606-582 BC the two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were led into captivity to Babylon.

  7. Later a remnant returned to Jerusalem. But their descendants in Palestine were overthrown by the Roman general Titus in AD70. The Jews were scattered and for many centuries had no national homeland.

  8. Many nations have abused and defamed the Jews. In the 7th century Spain forced tens of thousands to accept baptism. She burned thousands more during the days of her Inquisition. In 1492 she banished the Jews from her realm.

  9. King Canute of England exiled Jews from his shores in AD1020. Many returned to England under William the Conqueror.

  10. The Czars of Russia had thousands of Jews massacred.

  11. The liquidation of six million Jews in Adolf Hitler's day was probably the most cruel tragedy of them all.

1.2. The Second Sign in Heaven (12:3-4)

Verse 12:3

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.

Immediately following the description of the queenly woman with child in suffering, another sign, a great red dragon, appears in heaven. This is not without special purpose. The secret and cause of all the anti-Semitism in the world is the hatred of Satan.

1.2.1. His identity

The "red dragon" is clearly identified in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 as none other than Satan himself.

1.2.2. His description

That the red dragon is called "great" points to the magnitude of Satan's power and activity in the world.

"Red" emphasizes his murderous and blood thirsty character and behaviour throughout history (cf. John 8:44).

"Dragon" (Greek: δράκων, transliteration: drakōn) pictures his ferocious and intensely cruel nature. In the Old Testament the same Hebrew word לִוְיָתָן translated "dragon" (Isaiah 27:1; 51:9) is also translated monster or sea monster (Genesis 1:21; Job 7:12; Psalms 74:13; 148:7; Jeremiah 51:34; Ezekiel 29:3; 32:2). These monsters picture Israel’s enemies in the Old Testament.

"Seven heads and ten horns" indicate a connection with a future world empire, it will be a revived Roman Empire (Daniel 7:7-8, 20, 24; Revelation 13:1; 17:7-13).

The "seven heads" is a symbol for the succession of seven Gentile world empires which relate to the nation of Israel up to the second coming of Christ.

The "ten horns" refers to the pre-eminence of ten kingdoms during the Tribulation just before Christ’s return. A fuller discussion will be provided at 17:9-10.

The "seven diadems" is a symbol for the entire imperial government of the world from beginning to end throughout world history under Satan's dominion. It speaks of his ruling power, but also usurped power and authority which  he will have in the last days. Satan is really a dragon, a monstrous beast. Today he often appears as an angel of light; he masks his true identity, but in the Tribulation he will be seen for what he really is.

1.2.3. His rebellion and fall

Verse 12:4a

His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.

What is the identity of "the stars"? There are three possibilities:

  1. The stars are luminous bodies from Heaven which are cast to earth as a judgment or as an act of anger by the dragon in the Tribulation. But the fallen stars are linked by implication at least with the rise and actions of the dragon.

  2. The stars are used metaphorically for heads of state gathered together under the dragon's power to create his world rule. But the stars are cast to earth, they are not found on earth.

  3. The stars stand for fallen angels who revolted with Satan at his fall. Satan’s evil influence is not limited to the human realm, but extended first into the angelic realm. "Star" is a term used in Scripture of angelic beings and specifically of Satan (Job 38:7; Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-17; Daniel 8:10; Luke 10:18; Revelation 9:1). In the light of the context (Revelation 12:7), the stars represent one-third of the angels who rebelled with Satan and who became his chief emissaries in his fight and hatred against Israel and the purposes of God. The stars must refer to angels who fell with Satan in history past. This is a war in Heaven that resulted in the casting of Satan and his angels to earth before the birth of the woman's birth, so it belongs to the past. A second war in Revelation 12:7-9 is Satan's final attempt to storm Heaven, bringing about the child's overthrow after his birth. This is the best interpretation.

Verse 12:4b

And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour.

Verse 4a takes us back to the beginning, to Satan's original fall; now verse 4b skips thousands of years and takes us forward to the first advent of Christ and Satan's efforts to destroy Christ. In between were numerous attacks in Satan's attempt to defeat God's purposes and to wreck the plan of redemption through the seed of the woman. Many believe that:

  1. Hostility surfaced in Cain's murder of Abel (Genesis 4:8).

  2. In Genesis 6:1-12 Satan tried to infiltrate the human race in order to destroy the promise of Genesis 3:15 by corrupting the true humanity of the line of Seth.

  3. Satan's attempt to influenced Abraham and Sarah to try human means to produce the promised son (Genesis 16:1-4).

  4. Attempted rapes of Sarah (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-18) and Rebekah (Genesis 26:1-18).

  5. Satan attempted to defeat God's purposes with Israel through the murder of the male children in Egypt by Pharaoh (Exodus 1:15-22).

  6. Through Balak and Balaam to corrupt Israel (Numbers 23:9, 10, 19-24; 24:5-9, 16-24; 25:1-2; 31:15-18).

  7. Attempted murders of David (1 Samuel 18:10-11).

  8. Saul desire to kill David (1 Samuel 20:33-21:11).

  9. David's temptation and sins (2 Samuel 11:1-23).

  10. Queen Athaliah's attempt to destroy the royal seed (2 Chronicles 22:10).

  11. The attempt of Haman to kill the race of Israel (Esther 3:1-9:25).

  12. After the Messiah was born, Satan tried through Herod to destroy the baby Jesus by putting to death all the boy babies two years and under (Matthew 2:13-23).

  13. The temptation of Christ in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).

  14. The suggestions of Peter to avoid the Cross (Matthew 16:21-23).

  15. Tricked Judas into betraying Jesus (John 13:2).

  16. Perhaps the climax of it was in the cries of the Jewish religious leaders, "crucify him!" (Matthew 27:22-23; Luke 23:21-23).

1.3. The Woman and Her Son (12:5-6)

Verse 12:5

And she gave birth to a son, a male, who is about to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

There are two possible interpretations of the "child," they are:

  1. the Lord Jesus Christ; and

  2. the raptured church.

1.3.1. The Lord Jesus Christ (Individual Sense)

"And she gave birth to a son...was caught up to God and to His throne," these words take us from the birth of Christ (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 2:7) to Christ’s ascension (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51). Though the earthly life and death of Christ are not mentioned, this assumes the historic facts of the cross (John 12:31-33) and the resurrection (Acts 17:30-31) which were both necessary for Christ to defeat Satan (Hebrews 2:14) and rule on the earth. As Genesis 3:15 anticipates, Satan bruised Christ's heel at the Cross, but Christ crushed Satan's head by His death and resurrection culminated by His ascension.

"To rule all nations with a rod of iron" refers to the ruling of the Lord Jesus Christ (2:26-28; 19:15; Psalms 2:8-9).

"Her child was caught up to God and to His throne," once the Lord Jesus Christ was in that Heavenly presence, Satan had no further access to Him, so he had to redirect his animosity.

However, this interpretation alone is unsatisfactory, there must be a deeper symbolic sense due to the following reasons:

  1. As I have mentioned before, it is a symbolic "son," not a real one.

  2. The description of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is omitted in 12:5.

  3. "Her child was caught up to God" in order to prevent the persecution from Satan during the Tribulation period (12:4-5). How can the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ be persecuted by Satan?

1.3.2. The raptured church (Corporate Sense)

The "child" born to the woman has, like the woman, a double reference, one an individual, the Lord Jesus Christ, the other a corporate body, the raptured church. This is evident for the following reasons:

  1. One of the difficulties commentators have with the "child" as the Lord Jesus Christ is the omission of the death and resurrection in 12:5, the identification of the child as the body of Christ (i.e., the church) completely resolves the problem.

  2. The promise of Psalms 2:8-9 "to rule all nations with a rod of iron"  is extended by the Lord Jesus Christ to the church (Revelation 2:26-27). This dual application harmonizes perfectly with the identification of the "child" with the body of Christ (i.e., the church), for such an interpretation does not deny that something of Christ is in view, but contends that it is Christ in union with his spiritual body, the church, that is being symbolized.

  3. The words "caught up" are the same precisely as those used in connection with the rapture of believers at the return of Christ, when we "will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thessalonians 4:17). As the church is the body of Christ, so the catching away of the "child" refers not only to Christ’s ascension alone but also to the rapture of His saints. Satan desired to persecute the church during the Tribulation period, but God will protect the true church by Pretribulation rapture (Revelation 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-9).


1.3.3. Conclusion

The "child" symbolizes the Lord Jesus Christ in individual sense and the raptured Church in corporate sense (i.e., the deeper sense).

(For further information about the identity of the woman and her son (12:1-6), please read Michael J. Svigel's doctoral thesis: The Apocalypse Of John And The Rapture Of The Church: A Reevaluation, 25th May 2004.)

Verse 12:6

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has there a place prepared by God, that there they might nourish her 1,260 days.

Once the raptured church was in that Heavenly presence, Satan had no further access to it, so he had to redirect his animosity.

The reference to the woman fleeing into the wilderness takes us to the trials of Israel in the last half of the Tribulation where she will be under great persecution for three and a half years, i.e., 1,260 days. But we might ask, "What is the point of verse 6 to the whole picture thus far?"

The idea is this: since Satan failed to kill Christ and His true church, he will turn in dragon-like fury against the woman, Israel, and pour out his vengeance on her. Verses 13-17 give us the details of this persecution, but verses 7-12 point us to the immediate cause. Between Christ's first and second advents, the church of Jesus Christ is the prominent figure in the plan of God. So much of Satan's time and hatred is aimed at the church. But before the Tribulation begins the church will be raptured and out of the reach of Satan. However, something will occur in the middle of the Tribulation which will create the greatest anti-Semitism the world has ever known. This is described for us in the rest of this chapter.

The flight reported in this verse comes chronologically after the warfare in heaven about to be described in 12:7-12, and the woman’s escape receives a more detailed treatment in 12:13-17. Discussion below will place the heavenly defeat of the dragon and his angels by Michael and his angels at the midpoint of Daniel’s seventieth week, so the 1,260 days of the woman’s protection must correspond to the last half of that week, while the two witnesses are killed in Jerusalem (11:3-13). The time frame for the ministry of the two witnesses and the two beasts is show below:


Israel will have had relative peace during the first half of the week (Daniel 9:27). Jesus spoke of Jewish oppression and a flight by the Jews during the period after the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15-35; Mark 13:14-25).

The "wilderness" to which the woman fled is in the fulfillment on earth, of course. The vision does not specify its location, it is for the woman a place of liberation and safety. The reference must be to the preservation of the nation Israel through the great tribulation to await the second coming of Christ. In spite of his fiercest efforts, the dragon will be unable to harm Israel.

The verb "nourish"  (Greek: τρέφωσιν, transliteration: trephōsin) indicating that others will see to immediate administration of her needed nourishment.



2.1. The Time of the Warfare (12:7)

Verse 12:7

And a war occurred in heaven, Michael and his angels had to make war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels made war,

The scene now shifts to heaven where a tremendous conflict occurs (though still future from our standpoint). The first opponent in this conflict is Michael and his angels. The time of the warfare has been a subject of debate. Possible interpretations are as follows:

  1. This refer back to the battle when Satan initially fell (12:4), but Satan has already fallen and sought to harm the male child before this battle. Further, making this the initial fall of Satan disagrees with the consequences reflected in 12:10-12.

  2. This war is a reference to Christ's triumph on the Cross. This answer looks to several of Christ's statements in anticipation of the Cross regarding His victory and fall of Satan (Luke 10:17-18; John 12:31; 16:11, 33). Yet this view denies Satan access to Heaven ever since the Christ's triumph on the Cross. This cannot be the period between the ascension and the Second Coming of Christ. In this context of Revelation, this war cannot be a reference to Christ's triumph on the Cross. It is an explanation of why the dragon is so severely hostile toward the people of God during the Tribulation. His expulsion from Heaven (12:9, 12) is his reason for persecuting anyone of the woman's seed (12:17) he can get to.

  3. The war is an end-time event, occurring in Daniel's seventieth week. This is an effort of the dragon to unseat the woman's Son (i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ in the Heaven) and re-establish himself in the presence of God. When it ends in failure, he has to leave Heaven. During this period, Satan's total energies will oppose anyone allied to God, particularly the people of Israel. This accounts for the unusual severity of persecution during the Tribulation. It agrees with the "little time" left for Satan after he leaves Heaven (12:12). The involvement of Michael in defense of Israel in the last days (Daniel 12:1) also coincides with this conclusion. This is the best interpretation.

2.2. The First Opponent - Michael

2.2.1. His name

These are the holy angels of God led by Michael who is mentioned in Scripture (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12 :1; Jude 1:9 and here). There are four things that are significant about Michael we might mention here:

His name "Michael" (Hebrew: מִיכָאֵל, Greek: Μιχαὴλ, transliteration: Michaēl) is a composition of an interrogative pronoun (Hebrew: מִי, transliteration: mi, meaning: who) and a preposition (Hebrew: כְּ, transliteration: ke, meaning: like) and the noun (Hebrew: אֵל, transliteration: El, meaning: God), it means "who is like God?" It poses a rhetorical and negative question, one demanding a negative answer. Who is like God? No one! This is significant for this angel's very name and presence stands as a rebuke and refutation to Satan's boast in Isaiah 14:14b, "I will make myself like the most High," i.e., "I will be like God." It is interesting that God sends this angel to defeat Satan.

2.2.2. His general position

His general position are:

  1. He is one of the chief princes (Daniel 10:13), which suggests he has a high position among the angels of God.

  2. In Daniel 12:1 he is called the great prince and in Jude 1:9 he is "the archangel," i.e., chief of the angels.

  3. Here, in Revelation, we read of "Michael and his angels," those under his authority. It appears that Michael became the chief commander and leader of the holy angels after Satan's fall, He undoubtedly possesses great power and strength.

2.2.3. His special position and responsibility

His special position and responsibility are:

  1. In Daniel 12:1 he is called "your prince," i.e., Daniel's and Israel's prince.

  2. In Jude 1:9 we are told of his dispute with Satan over the body of Moses.

  3. Here, in Revelation 12:7, he has a special responsibility as guardian of Israel, especially during the Tribulation. Without the protection of Michael, the Jews, who have miraculously remained a distinct people throughout all their persecutions, would have ceased to exist.

  4. Until this point in the Tribulation, Michael never lays a hand on Satan. In Jude 1:9, regarding the dispute over the body of Moses, we are told that Michael said, "the Lord rebuke you." He respected Satan's might and dignity as a beautiful creation of God and he was acting in accordance with God's purposes with Satan.

  5. But at this point in the Tribulation, however, Michael gets to do what he undoubtedly has longed to do for millenniums; he gets to boot Satan out of Heaven.

See the source image


2.3. The Second Opponent - Satan (12:8-12)

Verse 12:8

and yet he did not prevail, neither was a place for them found any longer in heaven.

Of course, it seems strange that Satan should have access to the very throne of God, yet this is precisely the picture of Job 1:6-12, where Satan along with other angels presents himself before God and accuses Job of fearing God because of God’s goodness to him. Beginning at this point in Revelation, therefore, Satan and his hosts are excluded from the third heaven, though their temporary dominion over the second heaven and the first heaven continues. Satan’s defeat in heaven is the occasion for him to be cast into the earth, this explains his particular hostility of the Great Tribulation time.

Verse 12:9a

And the great dragon, the serpent of old, who is called the Devil and Satan,

The second opponent in the conflict is of course the great dragon and his angels (the fallen angels), the demonic host under his charge. In verses 9 and 10, the dragon is both identified and described. His history and his character stand in striking contrast to Michael.

2.3.1. His titles

The titles that describe Satan are:

"The great dragon" stresses Satan's violent and cruel character and emphasizes his end time activity and behavior.

"The serpent of old" clearly identifies him as Satan and draws our attention to his crafty character. It reminds us of the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7), the fall of man, his usurpation of man's rule on earth, and his constant activity of temptation and deception.

"The Devil" means slanderer and defamer. It reminds us of Satan's activity to impugn the character of God (Job 1:6-12) and to accuse believers (Revelation 12:10; Romans 8:33-34).

"Satan" means adversary. In 1 Peter 5:8 Satan is called "your adversary, the devil." It points to Satan as the opponent of God, believers, and all that is right and good. Satan may appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), but it is only a deception to further aid him in his work as the arch adversary of God. God has indicted Satan for his sin, found him guilty, and sentenced him to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Satan has appealed the sentence and called God unfair, unjust, and unloving. Satan, as a fallen angel, is actually an unclean spirit, who works in the world to promote disobedience and unbelief in mankind.

2.3.2. His deception

Verse 12:9b

who deceives the whole earth, was cast down—was cast down into the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.

Satan is spoken of as the one "who deceives the whole earth." The verb "deceives" (Greek: πλανῶν, transliteration: planōn) is in present participle tense, stresses this as a continuous aspect of Satan's character and activity to cause someone to believe an untruth. He is the deceiver.

Then note that he deceives "the whole earth," literally, the whole inhabited earth. Satan of course, is neither omniscient nor omnipresent, but through his network of demonic powers he is able to operate all over the earth and at all times. He causes men to miss the plan and truth of God by his many methods of deception as:

  1. lying against the truth, he is the father of lies (John 8:44; Genesis 3:1-5);

  2. denying the truth (1 John 4:3; 2 Peter 2:2);

  3. counterfeiting the truth (2 Corinthians 11:3-15); and

  4. distorting the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1-5 with Galatians 3:1-3).

Satan has many traps and tricks that he uses to deceive. These include the traps of:

  1. the occultism trap (things covered over, mysterious, hidden, the area of spiritism);

  2. the hedonism trap (luring people deeper and deeper into sin and rebellion with the lie that happiness comes in hedonism);

  3. the miraculous trap (if it is miraculous then God must be behind it); and

  4. the materialism trap (happiness comes in the abundance of the things you possess).

Satan, described as "deceiving the whole earth," is now limited in the sphere of his operation. A major step is taken in his ultimate defeat. The saint of this present dispensation, who is now the object of satanic attack and misrepresentation, can rest assured of the ultimate downfall of Satan and the cessation of his ability to afflict the saints of God. Though the events of this chapter deal with the end of the age, it is clear that they do not come chronologically after the seventh trumpet. Rather, the fall of Satan may be predated before the first seal.

2.3.3. His accusations

Verse 12:10

And I heard a great voice in heaven saying, "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, because the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night.

The heaven of our earth has been the special domain and sphere of Satan's operations as Job 1:6-7; 2:2; Ephesians 2:2 make clear. However, throughout our history and before the Tribulation, Satan still has access into God's presence to accuse believers (Job 1:6-7; 2:2; Revelation 12:7, 10).

In the beginning of the Tribulation, following this angelic conflict in Heaven, Satan and his angels will be "cast down into the earth" (12:9).  The accusing activity of Satan at this point will be brought to a close. This means the time of his judgment is drawing near (12:12; 20:1-3).

At this point, a voice is heard in Heaven. It is a voice of praise announcing the "salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ." "Salvation" in this context refers not to one's personal salvation from sin's penalty, though this is included, but to deliverance from the reign of Satan and the Tribulation and to the completion of that which God will establish the reign of Christ on earth.

The casting down of Satan is a very important step in moving toward the reign of God on earth. This must occur before peace can be established on earth. The angelic conflict and the slandering accusations of Satan that God has allowed throughout history to demonstrate His divine essence, especially His holiness, will at this point be just about over. Note that verse 10 gives the reason this step has been taken. It says "because the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, who accuses them before our God day and night."

The verb "accuses" (Greek: κατηγορῶν, transliteration: katēgorōn) is in present participle tense, stresses this as a continuous aspect of Satan's character and activity to accuse someone. It is used of the formal accusations in a legal battle (John 8:10; Acts 23:30, 35; 24:2, 8, 13, 19; 25:5, 11, 16) or informal accusations (Matthew 12:10; Luke 6:7).

The accusations are many and varied and they go on "day and night," but the Lord Jesus stands there at God's right hand to intercede and plead our case as our Advocate and Great High Priest (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2).

In regard to the accusations of Satan, let's remember that he likes to promote his own dirty work. Accusing others is one of his chief activities. Let's not help him. Let's leave the dirty work to him.

In this section Satan as the great opponent of God is pitted against the Lord Jesus in the following way:

  1. As the accuser, he stands in opposition to Christ as Advocate and Great High Priest of believers (Revelation 12:10).

  2. As the dragon and source of the first beast (i.e., the world dictator), he stands opposed to Christ as King of Kings (Revelation 13:1-10).

  3. As the source of the second beast (i.e., the false prophet), he stands opposed to Christ as the Prophet, the one who truly reveals God (Revelation 13:11-18).

2.3.4. Tribulation saints will overcome Satan

Verse 12:11

And they themselves overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life unto death.

Though anticipating Satan's wrath, this verse teaches us how Tribulation saints will overcome Satan and his attacks in the Tribulation. Three reasons are given for their victory over Satan:

  1. "Because of the blood of the Lamb." The blood of the Lamb, the basis of victory, refers to the work of Christ on the Cross. This is the place, point in time, and the means of Satan's defeat (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14). At the cross Jesus answered the accusations of Satan proving that God is perfectly consistent with His divine essence. Therefore men can always resist and overcome Satan if they will turn to Jesus Christ (1 John 5:4-5).

  2. "Because of the word of their testimony." It refers to the proclamation of the word of God and the truth of Jesus Christ both by lip and by life. By the word of God known, believed, and applied by faith in consistent Christian living, believers are able to put to silence the accusations of Satan. Jesus Christ, our Advocate, answers his accusation in Heaven, but we too can answer them by proclaiming and living the word. When we seek to live by the word of God and live as sojourners rather than by the temporal details of life, we counter Satan's accusations (Matthew 4:4).

  3. "And they did not love their life unto death." Here, we see the attitude which overcomes Satan. In this statement, we see two vital attitudes of faith that give the capacity to serve the Lord regardless of what Satan might throw at us. First, there is the perspective of eternity that sees this life as a training ground and a preparation for eternity (1 Peter 1:17-2:12). Then, this leads to a second attitude of faith, self sacrifice even unto death, for this life is not the end, it is only the beginning. Our eternal hope and inheritance are untouched by death, unstained by evil and unimpaired by time (Matthew 6:19-21; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

Verse 12:12

Because of this, make merry, heavens and those who dwell in them; woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has descended to you having great anger, knowing that he has little time."

"Because of this" refers to the victory of the saints along with the casting down of Satan. Two things are said:

  1. There is to be rejoicing by the inhabitants of Heaven. Satan no more can enter into the Heavens and God's kingdom is about to be established on earth with Satan put away.

  2. A woe is pronounced upon those living on the earth because Satan who will then be restricted to earth knows his time is short. Satan knows he does not have much time before his final defeat, that is, the return of Christ to assign him to the Abyss for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3), and then total confinement in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10).

In summary, six judgments have been and/or will be experienced by Satan:

  1. has been put out of his original position in Heaven (Ezekiel 28:16);

  2. the judgment has been pronounced by God in Eden (Genesis 3:14-15);

  3. the judgment has been made at the Cross of Christ (John 12:31);

  4. will be cast to the earth in the middle of the Tribulation (Revelation 12:13);

  5. will be assigned to the Abyss for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2); and

  6. will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:10).

Knowing this fact, he becomes exceedingly wrathful, all of which he will turn against the world. The verses which follow 12:13-13:18 describe part of the activity of his wrath.


3. WAR ON EARTH: PHASE II (12:13-17)

3.1. The Persecution of the Woman (12:13-16)

With the mention of Satan's wrath and his very short time, the scene moves back to earth and Satan's final activities on earth before he is assigned to the Abyss. It is important to note that the persecution of the woman who is Israel (12:13-16), the godly remnant of believers (12:17), and the rise of the system of the beast (13:1) all proceed as a result of Satan's expulsion from Heaven and restriction to earth for the last half of the Tribulation.

Verse 12:13

And when the dragon saw that he had been cast into the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male.

When the dragon (i.e., Satan) realizes his time is short that he promotes his attack against Israel. When the dragon saw he could not reach the woman's child (i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ and His church), he turned to the mother. The dragon's pursuit and the woman's deliverance (i.e., flight) should be interpreted as a literal one in the future that corresponds to the flight from Egypt (Exodus 14:5; Joshua 24:6). It will be the same flight that Jesus predicted in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:15-28; Mark 13:14-23). Satan may attack Israel by the following ways:

  1. It is probably at this point when the King of the North (which many believe is Russia) will invade Israel; this is one of the ways Satan tries to persecute the woman (Ezekiel 38:1-1). This occurs when Israel is in peace and safety living in unwalled villages and trusting in the treaty with the Antichrist (Daniel 9:27).

  2. God destroys the King of the North on the mountains of Israel, before she and her allies ever get to Jerusalem (Ezekiel 38:16-23).

  3. This creates a vacuum in the power struggle of the world and the Antichrist sees his chance for world dominion. This is where he makes his move as the beast under Satan's direction. So he will then move into Palestine, break his treaty with Israel, commit the abomination of desolation and begin to persecute the woman, i.e., Israel (Daniel 9:27; 11:36-41; Matthew 24:15-22). All of this is the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

Verse 12:14

But two wings of a great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness into her place, where she is nourished there a time and times and a half a time from the presence of the serpent.

In this verse, we see the first provision of divine deliverance figuratively portrayed as "two wings of a great eagle." It signifies expansive strength and rapid flight and is an echo of terminology used for the two Old Testament passages (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11-12), where God's protection and deliverance of Israel is likened to an eagle who carried her to safety from the clutches of Egypt. Matthew 24:16 refers to this same flight where Christ exhorts those in Judea to flee to the mountains when they see the abomination of desolation take place in the city of Jerusalem.

Since the woman is a symbol for national Israel, the "two wings of a great eagle" must also be a symbol to portray an as yet undisclosed supernatural means for her deliverance. The purpose of the wings was to enable her to "fly" to the "wilderness into her place." This is a literal flight from Jerusalem.

Alternatively, the description of "two wings of a great eagle" may be John saw and describing in his own language, the flying of a modern passenger aircraft for transporting some Israelites to a safe place.


"Her place" could refer to the wilderness of Sinai, but in the Lord Jesus Christ's advice to the faithful remnant, He told those in Judea to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:16). Petra, the ruins of an ancient city of Edom carved out of rock and protected by high mountain walls and with a narrow access, has been a suggested location of the "place," but this is pure speculation.



Some writers try to find an historical counterpart by which many of these events may take place. Hal Lindsey is an illustration of this. He suggests that this deliverance could refer to a massive airlift out of the country to some natural fortress like the ancient city of Petra. He also suggests "since the eagle is the national symbol of the United States, it is possible that the airlift will be made available by aircraft from the U.S. sixth fleet in the Mediterranean" (Harold Lindsey, There is a New World Coming, p. 178).

In this place of refuge the woman will receive "nourishment" from God just as Elijah received food at the brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:3-6) and as Israel received manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:13-35). This is a critical provision because no one will be able to buy or sell without the mark of the beast during this three and one half years (Revelation 13:17).

Regardless of how God will accomplish this, the point of verse 14 is that there will be some kind of supernatural care and deliverance. However, Zechariah 13:8 reminds us of a sobering truth; two-thirds of the nation of Israel in the land will perish. Evidently many will ignore the warning of Matthew 24:16 and refuse to flee. These will be put to death.

The length of this persecution and protection in the wilderness is described as "a time, and times, and half a time." "Time" is singular and refers to one unit or year, "times" is plural and refers to two units or two years, and "half a time" is half a unit or six months. Again we have a reference to the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation (cf. Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 12:6).

Verse 12:15

And the serpent cast from his mouth water as a river behind the woman, that he might make her to be swallowed up by the river.

Since the serpent could not pursue the woman, he attempted to impose harm by drowning her. The "water" poured out like a "river" to destroy the woman figuratively refers to Satan's all out effort to destroy the Nation in the greatest anti-Semitism the world has ever known. There are two possible interpretations of the expression "water as a river" and the term "swallowed up by the river":

  1. An attempted destruction by literal water. Satan (who also can cause miracles to happen) will launch his attack with a flood, apparently in an effort to flood people out of their wilderness refuge. God, in turn, will cause the earth to open (by earthquake) in order to swallow the flood and thus save the persecuted people.

  2. Portray the hot pursuit of the woman by an army inspired by Satan (cf. Jeremiah 46:7-8; 47:2-3). God, in turn, will cause an earthquake in order to destroy the evil army and thus save the persecuted people.

Verse 12:16

And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank the river which the dragon cast from his mouth.

The earth helps the woman by swallowing the "river." The Old Testament speaks of the earth opening its mouth to swallow the Egyptians (Exodus 15:12) and Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Numbers 16:28-33; 26:10; Deuteronomy 11:6; Psalms 106:17).

This would again figuratively refer to the nature of the terrain of the wilderness and the country around Palestine. This area is unpopulated, rocky, mountainous, and would provide for many places of refuge for fleeing people as with the city of Petra. In other words, in this way the earth would protect Israel and swallow up her persecutors.

3.2. The Persecution of the Godly Remnant (12:17)

Verse 12:17

And the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus;

When Satan fails to destroy those who have fled to the wilderness, Satan turns his attack on "the rest of her seed." This verse serves to emphasize that Satan will become totally frustrated and enraged over his inability to wipe out the woman, therefore he will become particularly angry with the believing remnant who will turn to Jesus Christ, and stand ready to die for their faith.

These are scattered Jewish followers of the Lord Jesus who did not reach the appointed place in the wilderness refuge. This Jewish remnant prepares the way for the encounter between the beast (i.e., the dragon's representative), and the faithful (cf. Revelation 13:7; Daniel 7:21).

3.3. The Dragon Standing on the Sand of the Seashore (12:18)

Verse 12:18

and he stood on the sands of the sea.

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:

  1. For the best method with which to persecute Israel; and

  2. For the best way he can rise to greater power in order to be worshipped.

The "sands of the sea" undoubtedly portrays the many people who make up the nations, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea (20:8).

"Stood on the sands of the sea," suggests Satan's position as the usurper of the earth. Isaiah likens the nations to a roaring and restless sea and whose waters is a fitting picture of a world without peace. They have no peace because they have rejected the true Prince of Peace and will turn 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. Isaiah 17:12-13; 57:20-21; Revelation 17:1, 15).

3.4. Summary of Revelation Chapter 12

In this chapter we are given a kind of panoramic view of the angelic conflict and of the supernatural forces of darkness that are ever at work in the world and have been since the fall of Satan when he drew with him a host of angels who chose to follow Satan rather than God. Here is a sure fact of human history. Though generally unseen with the physical eye, it is quite clear through the revelation of God and occasionally obvious in certain demonic activity seen in the world in the demon possessed. Even then, many reject the cause as demonic and attribute it to some other paranormal source. But the Apostle Paul makes clear reference to this conflict in Ephesians 2:2 and again in 6:11-12.

3.5. A Brief Review of the Chronological Development of Prophetic Events

Before moving into chapter 13, a brief review of the chronological development of prophetic events will be profitable:

3.5.1. The expulsion of Satan from heaven

The expulsion of Satan from the Heaven may be predated before the first seal. His fall begins the Tribulation. This is an effort of Satan to unseat the Lord Jesus Christ in the Heaven and re-establish himself in the presence of God. When it ends in failure, he has to leave Heaven (12:1-12)

3.5.2. The rapture of the church

All church age genuine believers will be caught up to the air to meet their Savior (12:5-6; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). We learn that the Lord Jesus will descend with a shout; believers already dead will rise first from the dead; living believers will be changed and given a new body; they will be caught up into the air and all this will be sudden.

3.5.3. The sealing of the 144,000 Israelites

After the rapture of the church, God seals 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel (7:1-8). God is again dealing with Israel on this national relationship, and sending them as special representatives to the nations in place of the witness of the church. The sealing of the 144,000, will occur before the breaking of the first seal or at least before the second seal when warfare breaks out in the world. The 144,000 Israelites is not the entirety of the faithful remnant of Israel, but a group of them charged with a special responsibility of witnessing for Christ during the world's darkest hour.

3.5.4. The opening of the seven-sealed scroll by the Lord Jesus Christ

The Lord Jesus Christ begins to open the seven-sealed scroll which contains the judgments of God and begins the period of time that is declared to be the wrath of God (6:1-17).

3.5.5. Ten nation confederation of Europe

The white horse rider (i.e., the Antichrist) who conquers the world by peace tactics, power politics, and by his charismatic personality and persuasive language, has already risen on the scene (cf. Revelation 6:1-2; Daniel 8:23-25). This brings about the ten nation confederation of Europe, a federation of nations that were once a part of the old Roman Empire (cf. Daniel 2:42-44; 7:7-8, 20-24). We have the potential for this in NATO and in the European Common Market (previous) and European Union (now).

3.5.6. The leader of this confederation will make a seven-year covenant with Israel

The leader of this confederation will make a seven-year "peace covenant" with Israel designed to give Israel protection in the land and solve the Israel-Arab dispute of the coveted land of Palestine (Daniel 9:27). This treaty begins Daniel's 70th week or the Seven Years Tribulation Period. Israel will be dwelling in the land in comparative peace and safety because of the "peace covenant."

3.5.7. A rising dictator (the Antichrist)

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

3.5.8. The king of the North comes with his Arab allies to attack Israel

It appears that the King of the North (i.e., Russia) comes with his Arab allies will attack Israel before the middle of the Tribulation (Ezekiel 38:1-9).

3.5.9. The King of the North and his allies are destroyed on the mountains of Israel

These armies (the King of the North and his allies) are destroyed on the mountains of Israel by the direct intervention of God (Ezekiel 38:21-23). Ezekiel Chapters 38-39 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 (38:15) to invade Palestine but are destroyed by supernatural intervention (39:3). Seven months will be required to bury their corpses (39:11-15), and their weapons will supply fuel for Israel for seven years (39:9-10).

Israel will be living in security, whether real or imagined (38:11), which might indicate that the battle takes place before the middle of the Tribulation, while Israel feels secure under a "peace covenant" 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 (39:17-20; Revelation 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 (Jehovah/Yahweh) is their God (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.

3.5.10. The rise of the beast system

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 (i.e., the Antichrist). 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 (Revelation 13:2b).



In chapter 13, John sees two different "beasts" who will emerge during the Tribulation period. Scholars have speculated a great deal concerning these "beasts" and their relationship to Satan (i.e., the dragon). It is clear that these three, who appear in such a close working relationship, form some kind of a tri-unity. Since Satan has always been a counterfeiter of God, this is not surprising. If Satan truly wants to be like God (cf. Isaiah 14:13-14), then he must attempt somehow to duplicate the divine "trinity."

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. Revelation 13:4-6). 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 offensive way.

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 2:41-42; 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.

Two beasts are described in chapter 13:

  1. one from the sea (13:1); and

  2. one from the land (13:11).

With the beast out of the sea, 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.

4.1. His Appearance and Identity (13:1)

Verse 13:1

And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and upon his horns were ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy.

The noun "beast" (Greek: θηρίον, transliteration: thērion) refers to a wild animal or beast  which points out two things:

  1. it portrays the brutal, bloody, uncontrolled and wild character of the dictator and his system; it is inhuman; and

  2. it portrays this Antichrist figure as the epitome and paramount outgrowth of the character of Satan who is called "the great red dragon."

As John is watching this scene, he sees the beast coming up out of the sea. "Coming up" (Greek: ἀναβαῖνον, transliteration: anabainon) is in present participle tense which portrays the continuous development of this man and his system through the political and military maneuvers that gradually bring him to power within the nations of Europe.

4.1.1. The interpretation of "the sea"

The "sea" is symbolical of masses of people (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" (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 7, Daniel sees Gentile powers who will continue to dominate over Israel until the coming of the Messiah. Jesus called this "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). This began in 587 BC with the Babylonian captivity and will continue to the end of the Tribulation, until the return of Christ (Revelation 19).

  3. We should compare Daniel's description of the four Gentile powers (Daniel 7:4-25), especially the fourth, with that of John in Revelation 13:2-6.

  4. Daniel 2:40-45; 7:23-25; 8:22; 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.

4.1.2. The interpretation of "the ten horns"

"Having ten horns and seven heads." This portrays the nature of the end time kingdom, the final worldwide political system. It may refer to the king in one verse and the kingdom in the next, or vice versa. Verses 1 and 2 look more at the kingdom; verse 3 includes both, and verses 4 and following refer more to the individual, the satanically controlled dictator. So "the beast" may refer to the end time kingdom or dictator or both.

"Horns" in Scripture symbolize strength and power, both for attack and defense (cf. 1 Samuel 2:1, 10; 2 Samuel 22:3; Job 16:15). In this verse, "ten horns" is a reference to the ten nation confederation of the future which will form the nucleus of this end time kingdom due to the following reasons:  

  1. 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 (Daniel 7:7, 24).

  2. 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. Please note the recent development in the European Common Market (previous), European Union (now), and European Currency is implemented in 1999.

Rome will undoubtedly become the headquarters of the new empire, both politically and religiously at least during the first half of the Tribulation (cf. Revelation 17:7, 18 which shows the close affiliation of the political part with the religious part in the first half).

4.1.3. The interpretation of "the seven heads"

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. Possible interpretations are as follows:

  1. This as a reference first to the seven hill city of Rome, and then to seven dynasties, or rulers of the old Roman Empire, or seven successive emperors of Imperial Rome, as Nero (AD 54-68), Galba (AD 68), Otho (AD 69), Vitellius (AD 69), Vespasian (AD 69-79), Titus (AD 79-81), and Domitian (AD 81-91) under whom great persecution of the church occurred. So it would thus refer to the Roman city and to those who ruled in Rome. However, it is quite clear that the beast is not only a kingdom or an empire, but also a man (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9; Daniel 9:27; 11:36; 7:24-25).

  2. The better interpretation of "the seven heads" is that the seven heads represent seven phases of Gentile powers or kingdoms which find their culmination in the beast. The ten horns look at the future history of the beast and the seven heads, the past history. The seven heads are seven mountains (i.e., seven kingdoms), seven successive historic Gentile kingdoms, who are represented by seven kings or rulers. This is supported by the following:

    1. Revelation 17:9-10 tells us the seven mountains are seven kings. This could indicate that the mountains are symbolical for the seven kingdoms these seven kings represent.

    2. The term mountain is commonly used in Scripture as an image of a kingdom (Psalms 30:7; Isaiah 2:3; Daniel 2:35, 44-45).

    3. But more importantly, chapter 17 deals with the harlot system of Babylon which goes all the way back to the time of Nimrod (Genesis 10:8) and all these Gentile world powers have been her lovers and supporters, not Rome alone (cf. Revelation 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.

4.1.4. The interpretation of "the seven kingdoms"

The kingdoms refer to the major world kingdoms 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 kingdom and the cause of Israel's enslavement before entrance into the land.

  2. Assyria: Historically this was the next great kingdom which took the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722 BC.

  3. Babylon or the Chaldean kingdom: 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 of Jerusalem 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 BC - AD 14), to Domitian when Revelation was written (AD 81-96), and afterwards. During this time, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Jews dispersed worldwide (AD 70 - AD 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.

  7. Revived Roman Empire (i.e., European Union?): 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, Medo-Persia and Greece. "One is," which is the sixth, the Roman Empire of John's day. "The other has not yet come," this is the future revived Roman Empire in the form of ten nation confederation (i.e., European Union) at the first half of the Tribulation.

  8. Antichrist’s Imperial Form of the Revived Roman Empire and other alliance nations: Compare 17:11 with 17:8, "The beast that you saw was" (refers to the first appearance of the Antichrist in 13:1-2), and "is not" (refers to the death of the Antichrist in 13:3, therefore it is not appear in the scene temporarily), and "is about to come up out of the bottomless pit" (refers to the resurrection of the Antichrist in 13:3; 13:12; 17:8). Now in 17:11, "is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven" (refers to the Antichrist becomes the leader of the eighth kingdom while at the same time being one of the seven). The eighth refers to the imperial form of the revived Roman Empire and other alliance nations at the last half of the Tribulation under the power of the dictator, the Antichrist who is also called the beast.

This topic will be further discussed in 17:11.

4.1.5. The interpretation of "the ten diadems"

The noun "diadems" (Greek: διαδήματα, transliteration: diadēmata) is king's crown.  Here the "diadems" mark the regal state of the subordinate leaders (17:12, 18).

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 revived 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 (Revelation 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 (Daniel 7:7-8, 20-22).

4.1.6. The names of blasphemy

Next we read that "upon his heads names of blasphemy." This points out the blasphemous character of these Gentile powers. This is one of the key characteristics of this system of the future and especially of its leader. Roman emperors from the time of Augustus onward illustrate what this blasphemy will be. The use of divine titles applied to these emperors and found in the imperial letters among the inscriptions at Ephesus amounted to blasphemy against God. The magnification of this practice will characterize the activities of the Antichrist of the future (i.e., the beast). The blasphemy will be done in three primary ways:

  1. by claiming that he is God;

  2. by trying to usurp the place of God (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Daniel 7:8); and

  3. by slandering the true God (Revelation 13:6; Daniel 11:36-37; 7:25).

4.2. The Composite Nature of the Beast (13:2)

Verse 13:2

And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were as those of a bear, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave to him his power and his throne and great authority.

The composite nature of the beast is seen in the words, "like a leopard, and his feet were as those of a bear, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion" (13:2a). 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 7:4-6:

4 The first was like a lion... 5 And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear... 6 After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard...(Daniel 7:4-6)

There the first three kingdoms are characterized by a lion (verse 4), a bear (verse 5), and a leopard (verse 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 7:7 was seen as indescribable because it was "different from all the beasts that were before it":

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong... It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. (Daniel 7:7)

This empire, as seen in Revelation 13, will have:

  1. the brilliance, culture and swiftness of a leopard - a reference to the Grecian Empire;

  2. the tremendous strength, tenacity of purpose, and brutality of a bear - a reference to the Medo-Persian Empire; and

  3. the autocratic and majestic power of a lion - a reference to the Babylonian Empire.


Statue of Daniel 2 Beasts of Daniel 7 Meaning in Daniel Beast of Revelation 13 Meaning in Revelation
Head of fine gold Like a lion with wings of an eagle Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar Mouth like a lion Like Babylon in its one pagan religion and single language as a "return to Babel"
Breast and arms of silver Like a bear with three ribs in its mouth The Medo-Persian Empire Feet like a bear Like Medo-Persia, devours its opponents
Belly and thighs of bronze Like a leopard with four heads and four wings The Greek Empire under Alexander, then his four generals Like a leopard Like Greeks, rapidly conquers and unifies the world
Legs of iron and feet (with ten toes) of iron mixed with clay Monstrous beast with iron teeth and ten horns, and a boastful little horn speaking blasphemies The Roman Empire, fragmented into pieces, but restored under a future dictator Seven heads and ten horns; one head having a mortal wound that was healed Like Rome, unites remote and diverse nations under one dictator, promising peace but bringing war


Great as this man and empire will be, he is actually only an agent or tool of someone else. It is the dragon, Satan, who gives the beast his power, throne, and authority. He is sold out to Satan, and Satan uses him to the maximum.

4.3. His Affliction (13:3a)

Verse 13:3a

And I saw one of his heads as slain unto death, and the wound of his death was healed.

As explained previously, the seven heads of Revelation 17 refer to 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 up out of the abyss" (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 up out of the abyss" are equivalent to the fatal wound that was healed.

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

The answer is both the empire and the king (i.e., the beast).

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. 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, that is 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 kingdoms. In 13:2, the beast is seen as a composite of the kingdoms of Greece, Medo-Persia and Babylon. In 17:9 the beast is related to seven mountains, kingdoms on which the woman sits. This is evident from 17:1 and 15 which shows us, under another figure, that of water, that these are kingdoms upon which she sits.

Yet, other verses indicate that a person, a political leader is also in view. In 13:5-6, we see the beast as a person opening his mouth in blasphemy against God. In 13:14, an image is to be made of the beast. In 13:18, his number is the number of man. Finally, the beast's final doom is to go to destruction (compare 17:8, 11 with 2 Thessalonians 2:3).

It is likely that Satan will bring off an apparent death and resurrection of this man of lawlessness (i.e., 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. 13:3-4; 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 make an imitation of Christ's death and resurrection. It will involve something apparently miraculous, but it will not be a genuine death and resurrection due to the following reasons:

  1. The beast rises from the "bottomless pit" (Revelation 11:7; 17:8). This does not mean that this man will be raised up out of Hades. This simply means that the source and power of the beast and his system is Satan. The "bottomless pit" is the abode of demons instead of man (cf. Revelation 9:1-2, 11; Luke 8:31; 2 Peter 2:4). The system will be demonically inspired and controlled. This man will be a leader of the revived Roman Empire and he will also be possessed and controlled by a demon who comes up out of the "bottomless pit." This is the point of Revelation 11:7 and 17:8.

  2. The phrase "as slain unto death" suggest either an apparent death (near death) but did not really die." The use of this phrase 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. So, the use of this phrase doesn't really prove it was a real death, only an apparent death. It suggests it was Satan's strategy to imitate Christ's death and resurrection. Here is Satan's masterpiece of deceit.

  3. No where else in Scripture is it indicated that Satan has the power of resurrection or to create life. Instead of being a life giver, he is portrayed as a life taker or a destroyer. He has "the power of death" (Hebrews 2:14). Only Christ is seen as the One who gives life (cf. John 5:24-29; 11:25;  1 Corinthians 15:22).

  4. The wicked or the unbelieving dead are confined in Hades 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 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 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.

4.4. His Acclaim and Worship (13:3b-4)

Verse 13:3b

And the whole earth marveled and they followed the beast,

Most world dictators have proven to be charismatic and 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. His persuasive speech and cunning is actually anticipated in Daniel 8:23. Historically, in the near view of prophecy, this passage pertained to Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-164 BC) and his persecution of the Jews, but ultimately, it seems to look forward to the rise of the beast (Daniel 8:19). Antiochus IV Epiphanes is in view in this prophecy. However, the prophecy looks beyond Antiochus IV Epiphanes to a future person (i.e., the Antichrist) of whom Antiochus IV Epiphanes is only a foreshadowing. This coming beast is said to "stand against the Prince of princes" (Daniel 8:25). The "Prince of princes" can be none other than the Messiah (i.e., Lord Jesus Christ). 

In Revelation 13:3b 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, including internet and world-wide satellite TV reception. This is undoubtedly one of the factors leading to his world-wide authority described in verse 13:7.

"Marveled and followed the beast." Perhaps the faking of a death and resurrection in some way will cause the world to blindly follow the beast. This is part of "the strong delusion" and "the lie" that Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

Verse 13:4

and worshiped the dragon—because he gave the authority to the beast—and worshiped the beast saying, "Who is like the beast, and who can make war with him?"

But they not only will follow this man, they will also give their worship to the dragon (i.e., Satan) who is behind him. This will be the one great goal, seeks to be "like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14), for which Satan has been striving for centuries. The world will worship Satan through the system of the beast. Satan will openly be the false god of this age. In this worship of the dragon and his beast, two things will be acknowledged by the people of the world (except for believers):

  1. his uniqueness "who is like the beast"; and

  2. his power "who can make war with him."

The implied answer to the above questions is no one. His brute force derived from the dragon is more than anyone else can muster. The real answer to the question, however, is to be Christ Himself manifested in His power at His second coming, who will cast the beast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). Until that time the beast is allowed to reign and fulfill his place in human destiny.

He will come on the scene as a man of peace (Revelation 6:2), apparently emerging from the warfare that breaks forth during the first half of the Tribulation period as the triumphant ruler of the forces of the world. He will, at the midpoint of Daniel's seventieth week (i.e., the Tribulation), break the covenant that he has entered into with Israel and set himself up as the world ruler. He will demand not only political allegiance, but also "declare himself to be God" in the temple of the Jewish people (cf. Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation  13:1-8) and demand that the whole world worship him. All other religious systems worldwide will be brought to an end.

4.5. His Aggression and Activity (13:5a-6)

Verse 13:5a

And a mouth speaking great things, even blasphemies against God, was given to him and authority

"And a mouth speaking great things, even blasphemies against God." This is based on Daniel 7:8, 20, 25. The little horn had a "mouth speaking great things" and spoke "words against the Most High." The fact that he was given a mouth to utter these blasphemous words suggests that his power was not his own, but was granted to him by a higher authority. He received his power from the dragon. "Blasphemous words" are not only words of derogation of God, but also of self-deification.

4.5.1. His authority

The phrase, "was given," occurs in Revelation 13:5, 7, 14 and 15. Repeatedly, the Scriptures tell us that this end time dictator and his government will be the epitome of a Satan-inspired government. In fact the beast will be 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 under the total control of Satan. This is the will of a sovereign God

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 (read Revelation 9:21). Throughout history God has repeatedly used Satan's schemes and evil men as instruments of His judgment (cf. Isaiah 10:5-13). Satan is allowed to give authority to the beast

Satan have the ability to raise up political leaders (Luke 4:5-7; Ephesians 6:12). Satan is allowed to give "authority" to the beast, this refers 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 was given to him." During the Tribulation, as the unseen ruler of this world, Satan will have complete rule through the man of lawlessness (i.e., the beast) for a short time.

4.5.2. The time of his authority

Verse 13:5b

to continue forty-two months was given to him.

But neither Antichrist’s blasphemies nor his reign of terror will last indefinitely. The behaviour of the beast as it does that of Daniel’s little horn. God will grant Antichrist authority to act for only "forty-two months" or 1,260 days. This means from the middle of the Tribulation to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week, after the beast has emerged from the abyss to exercise his satanic power (cf. Revelation 11:2-3; 12:6; 17:8; Daniel 7:25-27; 9:24; 12:7). Antichrist and Satan will be allowed to operate only within the time limit set for them by the true Ruler of the universe.

4.5.3. His blasphemy

Verse 13:6

And he opened his mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, those who tabernacle in heaven.

This verse expands what has been said in verse 5a.

The verb "opened" (Greek: ἤνοιξεν, transliteration: ēnoixen) is in constative aorist tense, viewing the whole career of the beast. Obviously, "blasphemy" is not an incidental feature of the beast’s kingdom, but one of its continuing characteristics.

The meaning of "blasphemies against God" is anything that desecrates the divine name or violates his glory and deity. "Blasphemy" here is the exaltation of a human claim over the claim of God upon man’s loyalty and worship. As Satan’s mouthpiece, the beast utters the ultimate in unbelief and disrespect for God as he magnifies himself above all. In this, he resembles the man in Daniel 11:36-45.

Blaspheming "His name" is to demean the name of God directly or appropriate it for oneself.

Blaspheming "His tabernacle" is derogatory speech about God's heavenly dwelling place (cf. Revelation 7:15; 12:12; 21:3).

Blaspheming "those who tabernacle in heaven" that is, those who dwell in heaven. There are two possible interpretations:

  1. It refers to the saints who are raptured or martyred and gone to heaven. This view has particularly in mind "those coming out of the great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14) who are now in heaven, having sustained a close association with the male child (i.e., the Lord Jesus and His church) of chapter 12, thereby intensifying the enmity of the dragon against them.

  2. They are members of the angelic army who joined the leader Michael in expelling the dragon from heaven (Revelation 12:7-9, 12). The dragon in turn passed on his anger to the beast. It provides a reason for the special animosity of the beast against heaven’s inhabitants.

So, the beast’s blasphemous words direct themselves toward heaven where God, saints and the holy angels reside.

4.6. The Extent of His Authority (13:7-8)

Verse 13:7

And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.

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 God (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7). 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.  

"And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them," the Antichrist will direct his devil-inspired wrath toward the unprotected saints on earth. Unlike the first half of the seven-year tribulation, during which God’s two witnesses enjoyed miraculous protection from the dragon’s direct assault (Revelation 11:3-6), the second half of the seven-year tribulation (i.e., last forty-two months) will be characterized by victory of the beast over the saints (13:7). In fact, we should recall that the two witnesses, who will be protected during their ministry, will be killed shortly after the rise of the Antichrist from the abyss (11:7). Their murder will mark only the beginning of a bloodbath of martyrs at the brutal hands of the beast.

The "authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him" is worldwide in its extent (cf. "the whole earth," Daniel 7:23). The Lamb died to redeem people from the same groups (cf. Revelation 5:9). This last ruler will have accomplished what every ruler has ever dreamed about, that is to have total world domination. This was his commission from the dragon (13:2b). The all-inclusive scope of this statement prohibits an application of it to any past ruler or empire.


Verse 13:8

And all those who dwell upon the earth will worship him, whose names are not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb slain.

"And all those who dwell upon the earth will worship him," the beast will have almost universal success in attracting worshipers.

The phrase "all who dwell on the earth" is used throughout Revelation to describe unbelievers (verses 12, 14; 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 17:2, 8) and it does not include everyone who will be still alive at that time. The only limiting factor will be the refusal of the genuine believers to worship the beast.

The characteristic of the earth-dwellers is "whose names have not been written in ... the book of life of the Lamb slain." The idea of "the book of life" extending back into the Old Testament (Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28; Daniel 12:1-2) and the rest of the New Testament (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27). In Revelation 5:6, 8, 12), the Lamb is the only one qualified to open the seals and is the Lamb slain to redeem men to God. Because the Lamb's death is for all men, the simplest explanation appears to be that the names of all were originally in the book. The earth-dwellers have chosen to worship the beast instead of the Lamb. This is why their names have been permanently removed from the book (cf. Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28; Revelation 3:5).

The phrase "foundation of the world" should not be limited to the beginning of human history, but must refer to the beginning of the created universe (cf. Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; 9:26). It is used as a synonym for eternity past (Matthew 13:35; 25:34; Luke 11:50; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; 2 Timothy 1:9; Revelation 17:8). Unlike unbelievers, the elect will not be deceived by Antichrist (Matthew 24:24), nor will they worship him (Revelation 20:4). Antichrist will not be able to destroy believers’ faith, for the Lord Jesus Christ promised, "He who overcomes will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels" (Revelation 3:5; cf. 1 John 5:4). Believers have been in the keeping power of God since before creation. The elect are predestined to refrain from beast-worship and therefore suffer persecution. This reassures them in the midst of their powerlessness against the beast, they are still in the keeping providence of God, having been there since the foundation of the world. These Tribulation saints, though many will die for their faith, will ultimately overcome the beast and the next words are especially addressed to them in verses 9-10.

4.7. The end of His Authority (13:9-10)

Verse 13:9

If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

The warning "if anyone has an ear, let him hear" is used fifteen times in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22) to emphasize a particularly important truth.

Note that John made no reference to "the churches" as in similar exhortations in Revelation (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). This supports that the church is not in view in this passage, having been raptured before the start of the Tribulation (cf. 3:10). This exhortation is not addressed to the church but to the entire world. It is what follows (verse 10) that this verse announces, not what has preceded. 

Verse 13:10

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 the saints. (New International Version)

He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (New King James Version)

There is a problem in the Greek manuscript of this verse which affects our understanding of the meaning of this passage. The problem involves whether the first reference to the verb "kill" is in aorist passive tense "be killed" (Greek: ἀποκτανθῆναι, transliteration: apoktanthēnai) or is in active present tense "kills" (Greek: ἀποκτενεῖ, transliteration: apoktenei).

We have two different interpretations in this verse:

  1. It is an appeal to loyalty. "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." It is a warning directed toward Tribulation saints for them not to fight against Antichrist (cf. Jeremiah 15:2; 43:11; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 2:23).

  2. It is a word of comfort. "He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword." The captor will be taken captive; the killer will be killed. Those who persecute the saints and lead them into captivity must in turn suffer the righteous wrath of God. The Scriptures frequently mention this final vindication (Genesis 9:6; Matthew 5:38; 26:52; Romans 12:19; Galatians 6:7). The same truth which serves as an encouragement to the saints acts as a warning to their persecutors. Their ultimate doom is assured at the end of their brief period of power (Revelation 16:6; 18:2-3, 5-8, 20; 19:20). I prefer this interpretation.

Here is a call for the "endurance and faith of the saints." Final judgment is in the hand of God and will surely come. Those who take up the sword against the people of God will meet their just retribution, but endurance is required in awaiting that day. Meanwhile, the beast will seem to have unlimited power to bring the saints to death. This will require of them unswerving faith that God is still ruling.

4.8. Summary of the Origin of the First Beast

The origin of the first beast (i.e., the Antichrist) is summarized below:

  1. He will be a Gentile (Revelation 13:1; 17:15; Daniel 7:2-3). He will be from the ancient Roman Empire (Revelation 13:1; 17:15; Daniel 2:40-45; 7:23-25; 8:22; 9:26-27).

  2. He begins as a political peacemaker (Daniel 8:23; 9:27; Revelation 6:2) and leader of a ten nation European confederation, but soon turns into the beast and dictator of the revived imperial Roman Empire of the last half of the Tribulation (Revelation 17:11; Daniel 7:8; 9:27).

  3. He supports the ecumenical religion of Babylon, the harlot system of the first half of the Tribulation (Revelation 17:7), but turns against it in the last half to become himself the object of man's worship (cf. Matthew 24:15, 23-24; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:4-8; 17:16-17).

  4. He is under the direct control of Satan and is demon possessed (Revelation 11:7; 13:4; 17:8).

  5. His empire is called and viewed as:

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

    2. The image of the feet with ten toes made of iron and clay mingled together (Daniel 2:33-34).

  6. He has many names:

    1. The little horn (Daniel 7:8).

    2. The king of fierce countenance (Daniel 8:23).

    3. The prince that shall come (Daniel 9:26).

    4. The willful king (Daniel 11:36-40).

    5. The man of sin or lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10).

    6. The Antichrist (1 John 2:18).

    7. The rider on the white horse (Revelation 6:2).

    8. The beast coming up out of the sea (Revelation 13:1).

4.9. Summary of His Character and Rise to Power

The character and rise to power of the first beast is summarized below:

  1. Due to the fear of bio-chemical virus weapon attack, nuclear holocaust, environmental destruction, etc., the world will be crying for peace and safety. This man will come on the scene with great charismatic and persuasive power, and he will persuade the West (Europe and probably  USA) that he has the answer for peace. He will gain his ascendancy to power as a peacemaker (Daniel 9:27; Revelation 6:2).

  2. A ten nation confederation will be formed (Daniel 2:33-34; 7:7; Revelation 17:12), an alliance against the king of the North (Ezekiel 38:1-9, 15) and the East (Revelation 16:12-16). He begins under demon possession, to be lifted up with pride and to magnify himself (Daniel 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

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

  4. The king of the North (perhaps Russia) is destroyed  (Ezekiel 38:21-23) about the middle of the Tribulation and this leaves a world power vacuum.

  5. Satan is also restricted to earth (Revelation 12:9, 13), totally controlling this man and converting him into the beast who then begins to persecute Israel, breaks the covenant, overtly magnifies himself as god and introduces idol worship of himself (Daniel 8:24; 9:21; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4;  Revelation 13:1-8).

  6. His apparent death and resurrection followed by his rise to power as emperor of the revived Roman Empire will astound the world in the middle of the Tribulation (Revelation 13:3, 12, 14; 17:8).

  7. There will come a challenge of his authority from the East at the end of the Tribulation (Revelation 16:12-16). All the remaining armies, those aligned with the West and those of the East will be brought together to fight at Megiddo (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:17-19).

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



Now another beast is revealed to John, this one is distinguished from the previous since he comes out of the earth. This completes the trinity of evil - the dragon, the beast out of the sea, and now, the beast out of the earth. The earth beast operates under the authority of the sea beast and is totally committed to promoting not himself, but the first beast. The beast out of the earth is also called the false prophet in other places in Revelation (16:13; 19:20; 20:10), probably because he promotes the first beast.

5.1. His Description (13:11)

Verse 13:11

And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.

"And I saw another beast." "Another" (Greek: ἄλλο, transliteration: allo) means "another of the same kind." He plays a different role, but in character he is another beast, who is greedy, cruel, and hostile to the flock of God's people like a wolf, though dressed in sheep clothing.

He is seen "coming up out of the earth." As before, "coming up" is a present participle portraying a gradual and continual ascendancy as a world famous figure and leader.

"Out of the earth" distinguishes and contrasts him with the beast out of the sea. These two beasts though similar, are diverse in origin. As the sea symbolized the nations, so the "earth" (Greek: γῆς, transliteration: gēs) means "land or country" may symbolize the nation Israel who is consistently related to the land in Scripture. As mentioned, some believe the sea refers to the Mediterranean and so the "earth" or land would refer to the land of Israel. Some think this beast will be a Jew, a false prophet among Jews who seeks to persuade men to follow the beast as the Antichrist. Some believe the idea that he is a Jew is supported by his actions and character:

  1. The second beast captures organized religion in the service of the first beast. To fulfill this role, he will possibly be of Jewish lineage whose principal domain will be the rebuild temple at Jerusalem (cf. Daniel 11:37; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

  2. This beast is the false prophet who promotes the worship of the first beast by performing signs  and wonders (Revelation 13:12-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:9) which are similar to Elijah's, a prophet of Israel (1 Kings 18:30-38).

  3. He has two horns, like a lamb, the sacrificial animal of the Jews (Deuteronomy 16:1-5).

"And he had two horns like a lamb." The "two horns" are symbolic of great power, but not to the degree of the first beast who had ten horns. His horns were like those of "a lamb." As the lamb is a religious symbol, a symbol of sacrifice, so this beast is a religious figure, and, as a lamb is also symbolical of a mild, lamb-like manner, so this second beast will adopt a mild lamb-like appearance, but he will be a wolf in sheep's clothing. So what do we read next? 

"He spoke as a dragon" shows us that:

  1. It connects him in character with the dragon, Satan. As with the first beast this beast gets his power from Satan.

  2. Just like the sea beast who begins his career as the white horse rider, proclaiming peace, so this mild religious appearance of the land beast is only a cover up for his real nature and goals.

5.2. His Dominion (13:12)

Verse 13:12a

And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence.

As a supporting character to the first beast, he is active on behalf of the first beast and exercises his authority. He is the effective agent of much of the satanic persecution on behalf of the first beast.

5.3. His Design

Verse 13:12b

And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.

"And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast." The  purpose of this beast or false prophet is to promote the authority and worship of the first beast, just as the Holy Spirit works to bring glory to Jesus Christ (John 16:14). This is a satanic imitation of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in pointing people to Christ.

"Whose fatal wound was healed" indicates that the "mortal wound" was suffered by the "first beast" himself. This deception is part of his propaganda program to sell people on the first beast (i.e., Antichrist), by contrast, uses the death and resurrection to convince men of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 17:30-31). As in the early church, the resurrection of Christ was followed by sign miracles to authenticate the message of Christ and His prophets (Hebrews 2:4), so this false prophet does the same in his deception. The false prophet takes this event and "makes" all the earth-dwellers "worship" the Antichrist.

5.4. His Deceptions (13:13-15)

Verse 13:13

And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.

"And he performs great signs" points us to his first deception through the use of miraculous signs.

"Performs" (Greek: ποιεῖ, transliteration: poiei) is a present tense of repeated actions which indicates he engages in a one display of miraculous signs after another.

"Signs" (Greek: σημεῖα, transliteration: sēmeia) which refers to a miracle manifesting a supernatural act of divine agent that is designed to show or communicate something. The signs are used of course, to persuade men to believe in, follow after, and worship the beast.

Note that the signs are described as "great," the Greek (Greek: μεγάλα, transliteration: megala) meaning great or out of the ordinary in degree, magnitude, or effect. The great signs the second beast performs won't be the run of the mill miracles, for examples pseudo healers or the paranormal events of today.

"So that he even makes fire come down from heaven to earth in the presence of men" illustrates the power of his miraculous activity. It is clearly designed to counterfeit the miraculous works of God, for examples:

  1. The prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10-14); and

  2. The two witnesses (Revelation 11:5).

John and his brother James had asked Jesus’ permission to wield this power (Luke 9:54), but had been denied.

The second beast is the false prophet Jesus spoke about in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). Christ warned that counterfeit signs would indicate the arrival of false christs (Matthew 24:24). These counterfeit signs imitate the true ones as a part of the dragon’s overall plan to verify the claims of his false prophet (cf. Revelation 16:14; 19:20; Mark 13:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). The false prophet will perform these to obscure the truth, to confuse people, and to win their inner allegiance. These will be genuine miracles not mere magic or skill in a firework. They will almost deceive the elect (Matthew 24:24), but the faithful will recognize them for what they are.

Verse 13:14

And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.

"And he deceives those who dwell on the earth." The next thing we see about the signs is that they are designed to deceive. The meaning of "deceives" (Greek: πλανᾷ, transliteration: plana) is to mislead someone to believe an untruth. This word is frequent in Scripture to speak of pointing victims to the worship of false gods (Revelation 2:20; 12:9; 18:23; 19:20; 20:3, 8, 10; 1 John 2:26; 3:7; cf. Matthew 24:11, 24). This should be a warning to all of us. Miraculous signs are not in themselves a proof that whatever is going on is from God. There are other issues that must be discerned with the Word of God as the final index and authority.

Next, we are again told these signs are "given to him to perform." The power to produce the signs is Satan's (Revelation 13:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:9).

The doing of the signs "in the presence of the beast" means that the false prophet has the approval of and is the obedience servant of the first beast.

The command "telling those who dwell on earth to make an image to the beast" is that one of the primary purposes of the signs is to influence men on earth to follow the false prophet's orders to make an image to the worship of the first beast. Here is the first of ten references to this image in Revelation (13:15; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). Like Nebuchadnezzar before him (Daniel 3:1-7), but on a global scale, Antichrist, aided by the false prophet, will set up a statue of himself as a symbol of his deity and worldwide worship. This blasphemous image will probably be set up on the temple grounds in Jerusalem (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:4) and will be connected with the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15). It will be a tribute to the awesome power of Antichrist, who had the wound of the sword and has come to life (cf. Revelation 13:3, 12), to seemingly conquer death.

John inserts again the extraordinary feature of the beast: "who had the wound of the sword and has come to life." (13:14e; mentioned in 13:3, 12) that would certainly make the crowd more likely to comply. This seems to indicate that even after his recovery from a fatal wound, the beast continues to bear obvious marks of that blow.

This time, instead of being spoken of as a healing, his recovery is called "has come to life." When one of the heads receives a death-wound (13:3), the beast along with the head dies (13:12). The beast along with the head lives again after his resuscitation. He is the final emperor spoken of as the eighth in 17:9-11.

Verse 13:15

And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

"And there was given to him to give breath to the image." The image which breathes and speaks is the second great deception of these verses.

The noun "image" (Greek: εἰκόνι, transliteration: eikōn) which is a visual representation of a person, it is not a mere copy but in fact partakes and constitutes the reality of the thing of which it is a likeness. The image is designed not only to portray a likeness to the beast, but the reality of his rule and worship. It becomes a symbol of his power, majesty and the character of his system. We should note that the image is mentioned three times here in this chapter (13:14, 15) and in (14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). This image becomes the centre of the worship of the beast and the focal point of the final state of apostasy and idolatry.

We are told that the false prophet is able to "give breath to the image." The word "breath" (Greek: πνεῦμα, transliteration: pneuma) meaning the air that is inhaled and exhaled in respiration. This gives it the appearance of life. Only God can do that. It is something miraculous, but also deceptive.

Then we are told "the image of the beast might even speak." This image is more then a mere robot with a computer voice. That would be no great marvel today. Millions of people have observed an image of Ironman move and speak at Disneyland, but they were hardly moved to bow down in worship of his image. In ancient times, religious ventriloquism was used to give the impression of supernatural speech. In Acts 16:16 the slave girl possessed of a demon was able to bring gain to her masters by soothsaying. Her power of speech was under demonic control. This is the best explanation.

Not only did it speak, but it also "cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed." The requirement placed on these future citizens resembles the demand made of Daniel and his friends when Nebuchadnezzar made his image (Daniel 3:1-11). Notice that it is the image itself which causes the non-worshippers to be killed, undoubtedly by orders it gives when it speaks. Some might see this as a computerized killing machine. But such would hardly convince people, evidently it will go far beyond that.

See the source image


5.5. His Demand and Decree (13:16-17)

Verse 13:16

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead,

Here we see the means by which the second beast carefully and exclusively distinguishes between those who will worship the beast and those who will not so that they might be identified and killed.

Pressure will come on the entire population, "the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves," to receive the symbol of allegiance to the first beast. All parts of society that must comply, privileged or unprivileged, without exception.

He forces all people to receive the "mark on their right hand, or on their forehead," two places that are prominent and easily seen. The choice of right hand or forehead is presumably for conspicuousness. It could not be hidden.

The word "mark" (Greek: χάραγμα, transliteration: charagma) which means a concavity in a surface produced by pressing with a stamp or brand used on slaves. Men will become the slaves of the beast and will somehow carry the identifying mark of their slavery.

This movement imitates the sealing of the servants of God in chapter 7. Just as the elect receive a seal to protect them from the coming of the wrath of God, so the followers of the beast receive his mark to escape his wrath against followers of the Lamb. The conferral of the beast’s mark will begin after the sealing of the 144,000, probably in the middle of the Daniel's seventieth week.

We should note that to receive the mark of the beast is equivalent to the worship of the beast, to blasphemy of God, and rejection of Jesus Christ (Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 14:9-12; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4).

Verse 13:17

and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.

To enforce the worship of the beast and to make life impossible without his worship, "no one should be able to buy or to sell" without this mark. Clearly this mark will be a way to control the economic systems of the beast's empire. As a result of the decree to worship the beast and be branded with his mark, multitudes of believers will be killed directly because they refuse to receive it or they starve to death since they cannot buy or sell. Some will survive, however, by living off the land or because other believers who have food share with those who do not (cf. Matthew 24:15-25; 25:31-40).

What will the mark be like?

This verse answers this for us. It is "the name of the beast or the number of his name." This number is defined in verse 18 as "six hundred and sixty-six" (i.e., 666). Please note, this also becomes the means of identifying the beast for who he is.

It may be possible that John saw and describing in his own language, the "mark" refers to the modern biometric technology which is a new cashless transaction system whereby people can simply scan their finger (i.e., "right hand") or by face recognition (i.e., "forehead") and match that with your bank transaction system to pay for their goods.


5.6. God's Declaration Regarding the Number of the Beast (13:18)

Verse 13:18

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

This verse provides a means by which the intelligent reader can compute the first beast’s number. The noun "wisdom" (Greek: σοφία, transliteration: sophia) is the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight. The noun "understanding" (Greek: νοῦν, transliteration: noun) is the seat of the faculty of reason. Through the God-given special intelligence, believers will be able to solve the mystery of the number during the days of the Antichrist’s reign. Daniel 12:10 speaks of this special understanding also.

The way to solve it is by "calculating the number of the beast." The verb "calculate" (Greek: ψηφισάτω, transliteration: psēphisatō) means to make a mathematical calculation (cf. Luke 14:28). So, the calculation technique called "gematria" (Hebrew: גימטריה, Greek: γεωμετρία) must come into play. In ancient times, all letters of the alphabet served as numbers. The first nine letters stood for the numbers one through nine, and the next nine for the numbers ten through ninety, and so on. In this connection, every name yielded a number, the deciphering of which proved to be a fascinating riddle. An example of this practice occurs in the Sibylline Oracles 1.324-29 where the number of the name "Jesus" (Greek: Ἰησοῦς, transliteration: Iēsous) is eight hundred eighty-eight (i.e., 888).

The conjunction "for" (Greek: γὰρ, transliteration: gar) offers the reason that the calculation should be made because it is the "number of a man." It is the number of a certain individual. This technique will help Christians of the future recognize the Antichrist when he becomes a public figure.

5.6.1. The possible interpretations of the number 666

Numerous interpretations of the number  "six hundred and sixty-six" (i.e., 666) have been proposed by scholars, including:

  1. one of the Roman Emperors;

  2. a symbolical meaning; and

  3. a future political leader whose name can be calculated. Interpretation one: one of the Roman Emperors

Some people attempt to refer the number 666 to specific historic Roman emperors such as Nero Caesar, Caligula and Domitian. The Nersonic calculation requires using a Hebrew transliteration of the Greek form of a Latin name for a readership who knew no Hebrew. It also involves a defective spelling. The only sensible conclusion is that it does not refer to Nero. Caligula and Domitian have evidence even weaker than that for Nero. Interpretation two: a symbolical meaning  

John regularly uses numbers symbolically and especially the number "seven" (e.g. the seven spirits of God, seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls).

The triple six has each digit falling short of the perfect number "seven" and so is the number of a man. The number "seven" often has the idea of "perfection", the number of God. (Note: God creates the whole world in seven days. God creates man at the sixth day and then rest at the seventh day).

The number 666 represents a false Trinity of the god. The first digit 6 represents the false god the "Father" (i.e., Satan), the second digit 6 represents the false god the "Son" (i.e., the first beast or Antichrist) and the third digit 6 represents the false god the "Holy Spirit" (i.e., the second beast or false prophet). 

This solution, however, falls short on two counts. It ignores the command to "calculate," and it overlooks the writer’s intention that the number be understood well enough to identify an individual from it. General numerical symbolism cannot yield the identity of a specific person. Interpretation three: a future political leader whose name can be calculated (the best interpretation) 

What then does John mean?

Some Bible scholars have taken the verb "calculate" to refer to the ancient practice of "gematria." Ancient languages, including Hebrew, Greek and Latin use standard letters from their alphabet as numerical signs. For example, alpha (α) in Greek stands for 1; beta (β) for 2; iota (ι) for 10; iota alpha (ια) for 11; and iota beta (αβ) for 12. The Hebrew alphabet also had numerical value. Alef (א) stands for 1; bet (ב) stands for 2; gimel (ג) for 3 and so on. Thus, a series of letters could form a word, and at the same time indicate a number. That is to say, the way to identify the beast is by calculating the total numerical value of his name. See below table for illustration:


The "gematria" calculation work out better here than in any other proposal. It also bases its calculation on the Greek alphabet, which makes sense for the first readers of Revelation. Conclusion 

The person to whom 666 applies must have been future to apostle John's time, because John clearly meant the number to be recognizable to someone. If it was not discernible to his generation, the generation to whom it will be discernible must have lain in the future. The better part of wisdom is to be content that the identification is not yet available, but will be when the future Antichrist ascends to his throne. Christians from generation to generation may manifest the same curiosity as the prophets of old regarding their own prophecies (cf. 1 Peter 1:10-11), but their curiosity will remain unsatisfied until the time of fulfillment arrives. In conclusion, the identity of the person represented by the number 666 should not be a subject of speculation until that person arrives on the earthly scene.

5.7. Summary of Revelation Chapter 13

The general character of the Tribulation is clearly portrayed in this chapter. It is a time of slavery, blasphemy, apostasy, and gross satanic activity. Let us thank God that we have the blessed hope of the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:9; Revelation 3:10). But let us not forget our responsibility to be involved in the propagation of the gospel of Christ, the only hope for the world.


First Beast (Antichrist) Second Beast (False Prophet)
Rises from the sea (13:1) Rises from the land (13:11)
Seven heads with blasphemous names (13:1, 3) One head (13:11)
Ten horns with crowns (13:1) Two horns like a lamb (13:11)
Authority given to him by the dragon (13:2) Exercises authority of the first beast (13:12)
The whole world worships the dragon because of the beast (13:3-4) Causes people to worship the first beast (13:12)
Speaks blasphemies against God for forty-two months (13:5-6) Performs amazing signs to deceive the whole world into worshiping the first beast’s image (13:13-15)
Makes war with the saints and overcomes them (13:7) Forces the world to receive the mark of the beast or suffer severe persecution (13:16-17)


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