CHAPTER THIRTEEN - THE BEGINNING OF THE END
(1) And the dragon stood on the sand of the (2) seashore. (3) Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, (4) having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and (5) on his heads were blasphemous names.
1. And the dragon stood on the sand = opens Revelation 13. Some translations include this verse in chapter 12. Other translations understand John to be the seer standing on the sand, thus the translation in the NKJV "And I stood." However, given the relationship between chapters 12 and 13, it is more probable that the dragon is standing on the seashore. Having failed to destroy the Male-Son at birth, he brings together the final Beast Empire that will attempt to prevent the reign of the Son by resisting His takeover of earth.
Chapter 13 continues the reasons John must prophesy against "peoples, nations, tongues and kings." He will now focus on the kings, particularly, the kings who will form the power base of the final restored Beast Empire.
2. Seashore = or sea as the Greek literally says.
3. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea = seems to be the reason the dragon is standing on the seashore. John has already referred to one beast in Revelation 11:7. There he indicated that that beast (ruler) comes up out of the abyss and finally is able to kill the prophetic witnesses of God. In Revelation 11:7 John says "the beast." Here, in Revelation 13:1, John says, "a beast." This has led some to conclude that John is not referring to the same entity as in Revelation 11:7. Revelation 11:7 refers to a beast (an individual) with whom the people were very familiar—the eschatological beast of prophecy who comes from the abyss. The people were familiar with his role, but they did not know his name just as we do not know his name, but are familiar with his role. Revelation 13:1 refers to a beast (a composite of all beast kings).
In Revelation 11:7, John is referring to the beast with whom his audience was familiar as to his eschatological role, not the particular individual himself. In Revelation 13:1 John has a different agenda, which controls his description. Like Revelation 12, John opens with a composite figure that parallels the individual. Like the composite dragon, the composite beast is composed of heads, horns and diadems. The composite beast is a personification of the final beast (Antichrist) as was the composite dragon of Satan.
However, there is a difference. The composite dragon had seven diadems on seven heads and ten horns. The horns of the dragon did not have diadems. Daniel 7:24 tells us, "As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom (fourth kingdom in Daniel and the seventh kingdom of the dragon) ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them…." The strategy of the ten-horn phase of the dragon is different from the strategy of the seven satanically inspired Beast Empires.
The composite beast has seven heads and ten horns with ten diadems. The emphasis of the composite dragon is the seven satanically inspired kingdoms whose primary intent was the prevention of the temporal reign of the Son by killing the Male-Son soon after birth. The primary emphasis of the composite beast is the ten kings that arise out of the final Beast Empire.
4. Having ten horns and seven heads and on his horns were ten diadems = is the same characteristics ascribed to the composite dragon in Revelation 12:3 with a different emphasis. Not only is the word order different, but this composite beast has ten diadems on the horns.
The heads represent empires. The horns represent kings. As in Daniel 7, the beasts (four king/kingdoms) and ten horns (ten kings) have eschatological significance. The beasts (kingdoms) follow one after the other, however, the ten horns (kings) rule at the same time.
Daniel 7:8 states,
I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots.
The ten-horn phase of the fourth Beast Empire is directly connected with the end-time scenario that eventuates into the kingdom of God. The composite beast of Revelation 13 pictures the second phase of the dragon’s plan. The fourth Beast Empire of Daniel 7 (the seventh empire of the dragon) is part of the first phase. The fourth Beast Empire eventuates into ten horns/kings. This is the second phase, which is pictured in the Revelation as "the beast who rises from the sea." This explains why the composite beast has ten crowns on the ten horns. The kings are in focus and not the seven satanically inspired kingdoms that failed to prevent the rapture of the Male-Son to heaven after His birth.
5. On his heads were blasphemous names = is a new characteristic for the composite beast that is not included with the composite dragon. What the names are is not indicated, but each of the seven heads has a name. The names are blasphemous, which indicates that they violate the name of the one true God. Since the seven satanically inspired empires failed to prevent the rapture of the Male-Son to heaven the blasphemous names probably express the contempt they have for God.
(1) And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his (its) feet were like those of a bear, and his (its) month like the mouth of a lion. (2) And the dragon gave him (it) his power and his throne and great authority.
1. And the beast which I saw = continues a description of the composite beast who comes from the sea. The Greek word tharion (beast) is neuter in gender; that is it is not a masculine beast or feminine beast. Therefore, all the pronouns that refer to it are neuter until we get to verse eight. That this beast is a composite is proven by this description. This beast is the sum total of the previous kingdoms hostile to the eternal rule of God. John says that the beast he saw "was like a leopard." He had feet as a bear and a mouth like a lion. These animal-like-characteristics are not literal but symbolical. They represent characteristics that the beast has. The leopard is known for its speed. The bear is known for its powerful feet to kill and the lion for its sound of terror. This beast is speedy. He is both powerful and has a sound of terror.
What John ascribes to this single composite beast, Daniel individualized to three beasts. Daniel 7:1-9 recounts a vision involving four king/kingdoms: A lion (Babylon), a bear (medo-Persia), a leopard (Greece), and an indescribable iron teeth beast (Rome). The biblical importance of these kings/kingdoms relates to Israel. The eschatological agenda of the composite beast involves the historical agenda of each of these previous kings/kingdoms—the prevention of the temporal reign of the Son. What Daniel saw individually, John sees in composite.
Absent from John’s composite beast is an explicit reference to the indescribable fourth kingdom with feet of iron and clay. However, the ten horns with diadems indicate that Daniel’s prophecy of ‘ten horns’ is finding fulfillment. Daniel’s fourth beast empire with ten horns is John’s composite beast with seven heads and ten horns with diadems. Daniel emphasized the fourth beast kingdom and John emphasizes the ten horns. Daniel emphasized the original beast kingdom. John emphasizes the restored beast kingdom, which is evidenced in the ten kings.
2. And the dragon gave him his power…throne and great authority = indicates the source of the composite beast’s power. Literally, the Greek says, "And the dragon gave it his power…." The dragon (singular) empowers the composite beast. All that the composite beast is, he owes to the dragon/Satan. Luke 4:6 states, "And the devil said to Him (Jesus), "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish." What he promised to Jesus, he gives to the composite beast. On earth, there will be no equal to the composite beast.
This section is confusing because at first glance it appears that John is describing the conduct of the beast instead of the conduct of the composite beast. As well, it appears that what John ascribes to the composite beast is what actually happens to the beast. However, the composite beast and the beast/Antichrist are synonymous. After the beast/Antichrist subdues three of these kings, he and the remaining seven become one in purpose and intent.
(1) I saw one of his (its) heads as if it had been slain, (2) and his (its) fatal wound was healed. (3) And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; (4) they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and (5) they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him (it)?"
1. I saw one of his (its) heads as if it had been slain = is perhaps not the best translation of the original Greek. This translation might give the reader the impression that the head was not really slain. However, this is not the case. Literally, the Greek says, "and one of its heads as it had been slain to death, but the wound of its death was healed." The phrase "as having been slain" is the same phrase used for the Lamb (Jesus) in Revelation 5:6. As Jesus was truly put to death, so will one of the heads of the composite beast. How the head was put to death is not indicated at this point.
2. His (its) fatal wound was healed = confirms that a literal death occurred. Literally, the Greek says, "but the wound of his death was healed." As the reader is no doubt aware, the Greek language is much more precise than the English translation. For example, the possessive pronoun his in the sentence, "the wound of his death was healed" does not refer to his head, but the beast. That is, the beast was healed. The issue is not the healing of the wound itself, but the fact that the composite beast lived after death.
3. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast = further confirms that something supernatural happened to the composite beast. The whole earth is a figure of speech. It does not mean every single individual to the last man on the face of the earth. Rather, it means mankind in general. An overwhelming majority of the living earth-dwellers will be amazed by the composite beast’s ability to come back to life after death. The reader will notice that the phrase and followed is in italics in the NASB. That’s because it does not appear in the original Greek. The sense of the text is this: a majority of the people became followers of the composite beast following his restoration.
4. They worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast = explains the result of the people’s amazement and commitment to the composite beast. The dragon gave the rule of earth to the beast and the people respond with worship to it.
5. They worshiped the beast = also receives worship from the people on the earth. He is worshiped for his sovereignty. They express their attitude by saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with it?" The rhetorical question suggests that no one (human) is like the composite beast. The second rhetorical questions states, "who is able to wage war with it." Since the composite beast is restored from the dead who would wage war with it. An enemy that cannot be killed cannot be defeated. War is useless. Notice, "who is able to wage war with it?" This reflects the fact that the pronoun it is neuter in the original Greek text. The composite beast is referred to here and not the beast/king.
(1) There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and (2) authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.
1. There was given to him (it) a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies = is a direct allusion to Daniel 7:8, 20 where the little horn is given a mouth so that it can speak and say blasphemous things. However, here the composite beast has a mouth like a lion. That is, he is able to terrorize the people with its mouth. So the phrase, "was given to it a mouth" is a figure of speech. It means the composite beast is given something to say (Louw-Nida, § 33.105). Who gave the composite beast the things to say is not explicitly indicated. However, since the dragon gave the composite beast everything else, it is safe to assume that he gave it the blasphemous language as well.
2. Authority to act for forty-two months was given to him (it) = is the second of two gifts from the dragon to the composite beast. The dragon is only able to grant forty-two months because that is the limit God set upon him.
This is also taken directly from Daniel 7. The composite beast fulfills Danielic prophecy. John is clear that the rule of the composite beast, the rule of the beast-king from the abyss, the protective custody of the woman and the ministry of the two prophetic witnesses occur at the same time.
(1) And he(it) opened his (its) month in blasphemies against God, (2) to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. (3) It was also given to him (it) to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and (4) authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him (it).
1. And he opened his month in blasphemies against God = is the height of the composite beast’s arrogance. Unfulfilled by the worship of men that the creator alone should receive, the composite beast hurls insults to God.
2. To blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven = explains the precise nature of the composite beast’s blasphemous speech. To blaspheme God’s name is to break the third commandment—"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (Exod 20:7)." That is, to use God’s name for evil purposes. To blaspheme God’s tabernacle is to speak evil of God’s temple. John clarifies what he means by adding, "those who dwell in heaven." God’s tabernacle refers symbolically to God’s holy ones (angels). What exactly is said about the angels is not explicitly stated, but it insults God.
3. It was also given to him (it) to make war with the saints and to overcome them = indicates that the saints will not be given a blanket protection from the composite beast. He will overcome or be victorious over the saints. The saints are previously defined as "the rest of the woman’s children who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."
4. Authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him (it) = defines the precise limits of the composite beast’s authority. It is global.
(1) All who dwell on the earth will worship him, (2) everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
1. All who dwell on the earth will worship him = indicates a significant change. It is not evidenced in the English translation. The pronoun him is masculine. This is the first time the composite beast is referred to with a masculine pronoun. This indicates that the relationship between the kings and kingdoms that constitute the composite beast and the final ultimate beast is such that they can be spoken of interchangeably. One accomplishes the purpose of the other. Another significant change is the tense of the verbs from past time to future time.
2. Everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of the life of the Lamb who has been slain = defines the all of the previous clause. This verse is similar to Revelation 17:8. In both cases, those who do not worship the beast is clear—the elect. The elect will not worship the beast, which also means they will not take his mark. Thus, they are objects of his wrath.
(1) If anyone has an ear, let him hear. (2) If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; (3) if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. (4) Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
1. If anyone has an ear, let him hear = begins a two-verse commentary on the conduct of the saints. This hearing formula so often heard in the gospels and concluding each of the prophecies concerning the seven churches of Asia helps establish the identity of the saints.
Scholars are somewhat agreed that this hearing formula is rooted in Isaiah 6:9-10. Isaiah’s message to Judah regarded their unwillingness to hear, understand and repent of their idol worship. For this, God refused to give His word, lest it fall upon those who despise it. God, in His wisdom, saw some faithful among the wicked. Those who were faithful still very much needed God’s word. Therefore, the Lord gave His word in parabolic sayings. This enabled those who were spiritually minded to be enlightened while those who were not remained in blindness. This is the significance of the hearing formula in the Gospels. It also serves as a textual indicator that figurative language is employed and the reader will need to see beyond the obvious.
The highly figurative language depicted in Revelation 13 requires the spiritually minded readers to see, hear and understand the significance for believers. Normally, the hearing formula follows the parabolic statement to which it refers. However, that is not the case in Revelation 13:9-10. Here the reader is alerted to the need for spiritual understanding before the parabolic statement is made.
2. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes = is the first statement that the enlightened reader must accept. Having outlined the career of the composite dragon and beast, John has instructed the reader that saints will be the target of both. God has destined certain ones to captivity during the reign of the composite beast. The captivity will probably include severe persecution, but not necessarily death. Those so destined must seek no other route. It is God’s perfect will.
3. If anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed = is the third if-statement and probably the most difficult to interpret. The difficulty is created by the very difficult Greek constructions in this verse.
The NASB translates the verse: "if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed."
The KJV says, "he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword."
The NIV says, "if anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed."
This author prefers the New International Version’s translation because it naturally follows the previous statement. While some saints are destined for captivity, others are destined for martyrdom. The sword is the instrument of death by the State (Romans 13:4). God has destined certain ones to be martyrs by the state/government of Antichrist. This is God’s will. Those destined to die will die. This is the sense of the text. That believers will die by the sword is confirmed in Revelation 20:4. Both captivity and death by beheading is a part of God’s sovereign plan.
4. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints = completes the parabolic statements. This statement clarifies for anyone who might not understand how believers will face the persecution of the composite beast. For those God has destined to captivity—perseverance will win the day. For those God has destined to physical death—faith will win the day.
(1) Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and (2) he had two horns like a lamb and (3) he spoke as a dragon.
1. Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth = begins a second unit concerning the beast empire. This is the only occasion where John will call this person a beast. He will later be identified as "the false prophet." Unlike the composite beast that arises from the sea, this beast comes from the earth. The significance of his earthly origin is not known.
2. He had two horns like a lamb = is a second characteristic of the second beast. It is generally known that lambs do not have horns. However, a ram does have horns and is the preferred translation here. Horns symbolically represent power and authority. Thus, this beast has power and authority. Two horns indicate above average.
3. He spoke as a dragon = indicates as with the composite beast that this second beast is also given a mouth "speaking arrogant words and blasphemies."
(1) He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And (2) he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, (3) whose fatal wound was healed.
1. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence = is the fourth characteristic of the second beast. This sentence is a bit misleading. One might think that the second beast only works in the physical presence of the first beast. However, the point is this. The second beast operates, having been empowered and authorized by the first beast.
2. He makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast = is the fifth characteristic of the second beast that is given. The second beast makes the living earth-dwellers worship the first beast.
3. Whose fatal wound was healed = identifies the composite beast.
(1) He performs great signs, (2) so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.
1. He performs great signs = is the sixth characteristic of the second beast. Notice that "great signs" is plural indicating that more than one sign is done. The second beast is able to do great or impressive miracles. How he does these miracles is not explicitly indicated.
2. So that he even makes fire come down out of heaven = indicates the limit of this beast. His ability to call down fire from heaven indicates the greatness of his power. He certainly has the ability to imitate Old Testament prophets. If not for his words, his actions alone would prove him authentic.
(1) And he deceives those who dwell on the earth (2) because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, (3) telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast (4) who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.
1. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth = is the outcome of the second beast’s campaign of impressive miracles. His miracles convince the living earth-dwellers to obey his commands.
2. Because of the signs which was given him to perform in the presence of the beast = explicitly indicates that the miracles convinced the living earth-dwellers to follow the second beast’s commands. The first beast authorized (empowered) the second beast with the ability to do great miracles.
3. Telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast = is the outcome of the convincing miracles. The living earth-dwellers are instructed to make an image to the beast. To the beast indicates that the purpose of the image is to honor the beast. What the image is is not made explicit in this passage.
4. Who had the wound of the sword and has come to life = is the third attempt to identify the composite beast. Twice, the author has referred to the wound of the composite beast. However, this is the first time the instrument itself is indicated. The sword was used to cause the death of beast. The sword is the instrument of death in capital punishment.
It is difficult throughout chapter 13 to distinguish between the composite beast (kings) and the singular beast (Antichrist). Revelation 13:3 indicates that one of the heads of the beast was wounded to death. But here in Revelation 13:13, the beast itself was wounded. This only adds to the difficulty.
In the statue dream of Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar is told by Daniel that the toes of the statue would be iron and clay mixed (Dan 2:40-43). During the iron phase of the statue, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed with a stone cut of the mountain (Dan 2:44-45).
In the futuristic beast kingdoms of Daniel 7, we learn that a fourth beast kingdom, the most dreadful of all, with its feet would trample down other kingdoms. The fourth beast kingdom will eventuate into ten kings. During the ten-king phase of the fourth beast kingdom, a final king will arise and conquer three of the ten kings. This conquering king will then persecute the people of God for three and a half years. Absent from Daniel’s account is any indication that the eleventh king is killed. This is a major point detailed in the Revelation, but absent from Daniel. The critical question at this point is this: when is the beast put to death and raised up? A second question concerns how long the two events – the death and restoration—are separated?
It is extremely difficult for this author to believe that Satan has the power to actually raise a man from the dead. It is argued by some that Antichrist will be killed and raised from the dead. However, this requires more power than either Satan or Antichrist has. That such a major point is absent from Daniel 7 is compelling. There is no biblical basis that supports the notion that Satan has the power to raise the dead. Why would Satan be content with the restoration of only one person? Why would Satan stop with the restoration of Antichrist? Why not raise all sinners? This would be a compelling reason to follow the dragon.
Since both the composite beast (Roman Empire) and the individual beast (Antichrist) come to life, it is better to understand that a kingdom is restored rather than resurrection from the dead. Given that Daniel 7 indicates explicitly that there is a relationship between the legs of iron and the toes mixed with iron and clay, a restored indescribable fourth beast empire in the form of ten toes makes sense.
Yet, Revelation 17 will make clear that the eighth beast/king will be restored from the dead. Therefore, both the king and his kingdom are restored from the dead. This will be Satan’s greatest act of deception. How he will deceive the whole world into thinking that the beast/king has been restored from the dead is not clear.
(1) And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, (2) so that the image of the beast would even speak and (3) cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
1. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast = signals another significant component of the second beast’s job description. Whom the second beast receives the ability from to give breath to the image of the first beast is not explicitly stated. Neither is it explained how such a thing could happen. The impossibility of humans or angelic beings giving life to inanimate objects makes a literal intent highly unlikely in this text. That some type of demonic hocus pocus is utilized is self evident. This will be a second greatly deceiving event connected with the beast/king.
2. So that the image of the beast would even speak = seems to be one goal of the second beast’s efforts. The image speaks. Whether this is the only human quality vested in the image is not explicit. Whether the image walk about, sit, or engage in any other human activities is not indicated. There is no reason to reject the notion that the speech of the image is the same as that of the first and second beast i.e. blasphemous.
3. Cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed = is a difficult clause to understand. Logically, the image of the beast both speaks and causes the non-worshipers to be put to death. However, in this case, one would expect the clause to say, " and it causes as many as do not worship it to be killed." Another way to translate this verse is this: "and he (the second beast) causes as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed." This makes the better sense of the verse. In this case, the image does not give the order of execution, but the second beast does.
(1) And he causes all, (2) the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, (3) to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads and (4) he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, (5) except the one who has the mark, (6) either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
1. And he causes all = continues the job description of the second beast. Most agree that the he here refers to the second beast. The all refers to the inhabitants of the earth.
2. The small and the great…the slaves = defines the perimeters of the all. These inclusive lists indicate that no segment of society will escape the notice of the beast.
3. To be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads = indicates the place of the mark. Clearly, the intent is for the mark to be easily seen.
4. He provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell = is the purpose of the mark. Economic sanctions will be a major issue during the persecution by the beast of the people of God.
5. Except the one who has the mark = limits who can purchase food. Starvation or worship of the beast will be the only alternatives for those who inhabit the earth.
6. The name of the beast or the number of his name = indicates what the specific mark will be.
(1) 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.
1. Of all the verses in the Revelation, this is the most difficult to understand. The wild speculative articles written over the centuries can easily document that this is the case. There is no agreement among scholars concerning the meaning of this verse. I am content to leave it as it is. However, I am more convinced by this verse that Satan will pull off his greatest deception in connection with the eschatological beast/king.
The apostle Paul writes in II Thessalonians 2:8-12,
And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
Deception, the lie, and false wonders indicate unparalleled deception.