The Beast From the Sea
Revelation 13:1-5
See Comments on the structure of the chapter.
.Re 13:1 ¶ And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.    I stood Most modern versions read "he stood" indicating the dragon. I prefer the KJV reading, note below.
  Beast arise This beast is a serious threat. See note b.
 Up out of the sea As the beasts in Daniel 7 da0702,3. The prostitute, lady Babylon, is seen in chapter 17 as sitting on waters in 1715. which are people. The false religious power developed from among the masses of people which had developed false ideas as they drifted away from the gospel of Christ ac2029,30.
  Horns ... crowns ... heads Marks of identification. Note c.
  Upon his heads the name See note d.
.2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.   Like a leopard ... bear ... lion Why the strange combination? Note.
  Dragon gave him The dragon, Satan, was behind this power. Note.
.3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.   Wounded ... healed More information about the beast, note a for verse 3. The world wondered, note.
 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?   Worshipped the dragon Although the beast is the focus of attention. See the note for verse 4.
  Who is like the beast ... war Implying that no power or religious system dared to challenge him.
.5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.   Mouth The mouth gives orders and makes laws. Before the rise of this power, the church was essentially controlled by the Roman Emperors.
  Great things .... blasphemies We know that blasphemy is speaking or acting in the place of or against God. The "great things" would be political control.
  Forty and two months A period of oppression mentioned by Daniel and several more times in Revelation. Note a for verse 5. See the note marking the beginning and end of the period. For more historical confirmation, see note b. Some contend that a minor Roman general fulfilled Daniel's prediction of this time period. See note c.
 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
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13:1, note a
Who is on the beach?

   "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and [literally, "and I"] saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy." (Rev. 13:1)

 I stood  All translations agree that John saw the beast but some have the dragon, instead of John, standing on the sand. For the reading, "he stood. . . ." the first clause here in 13:1 would need to be attached to the preceding verse at the end of chapter 12. The pronoun, "he," would represent the dragon. We would then read that the dragon was angry and went to make war with the faithful remnant, and stood on the sand of the sea. Then John speaks, "I saw a beast . . . ." Remember that the Greek manuscripts have no breaks between letters. Neither are there separations between chapters and verses. Divisions were made later by translators. For the present scene,I prefer the KJV translation for two reasons:
Timing. If on the beach, the dragon would have been persecuting the final remnant while or just before John watched the beast come up from the sea. The text of Revelation is in blocks that generally do not follow in sequence. Such is the case here. In 14:12 we saw the dragon go to fight against the remnant  Elsewhere in the prophecies, we realize that the war or persecution of the remnant who obey the commandments (Rev. 14:12) comes at the very end, just before the return of Christ. The issue then is who should be worshipped (Rev.13:15). The rise of the beast (apostate church) comes much earlier in history than does the final remnant.  The flow of events with the dragon on the beach doesn't work. There is no transition to take us back in time.
John belongs there He has a reason to have been on the shore. His words, "And I stood on the sand of the sea," Provide the setting for the new scene. It is the position from which he observes the rise of both beasts described in this chapter, the one from the sea and the one from the earth.  The mention of his location implies that the two beasts are part of one bigger picture. Compare Dan. 8:1; Ezek 43:3.

Comparing chapters 12 and 13

Comparing chapters 12 and 13 helps us understand both better
Studying the story line in chapter 12 beginning at verse 7 and the one in chapter 13, we see that they describe many parts of the same literal events.
Story of the dragon, Rev. 12
Story of the beast, Rev. 13
Dragon cast out of heaven (7-9)
A beast rises from the sea. (v1) He receives authority from the dragon. (2).[ Thus actions of the beast are inspired by the dragon.]
As the serpent representing Satan (9), the dragon persecutes the woman who flees for 3½ "times" or 1260 days. (14, 6) Beast with war power (v.4) given 42 months (1260 days) to act (v.7). He makes war with the saints and given universal authority (12)
The earth helps the woman by swallowing the flood [of words and laws] which the dragon poured out of his 
A beast rises from the earth with a dragon voice (11) and with the authority of the first beast (12).
The angry dragon goes to make war with the remnant of the woman's seed who keep God's commandments and have Jesus' testimony (17) The earth beast gives breath to the beast's image which requires all to worship it or be killed (14, 15). The beast's mark is required to buy and sell (16, 17).
This war against the obedient remnant is the final assault against God's faithful people before His wrath is poured out on those who worship beast or image and who accept the mark (14:9-11). We see the remnant of the woman's seed as those who do not receive this wrath in 14:12 "Here is the patience of the saints.: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." This action of beast and image enforced by the earth beast is the final assault against God's faithful people before His wrath is poured out as described at the left (14:9-11). The next scene is of Christ coming on a cloud to reap the righteous and an angel reaping the wicked to be punished in the winepress (14:14-20).

   Our next question, as we read on is, Why is the beast coming out of the sea? After answering it, we will explore what the beast represents.

Praise God that, although we will be permitted to suffer to be brought close to Him, He will deliver us as He did the remnant of Israel. We may be like Moses who chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Heb. 11:25)

13:1, note b
Up from the sea

     "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy." (Rev. 13:1)

    Later in Revelation we find the following description of the sea. "And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." (Rev. 17:15). See on 1603 and on da0702f for sources of imagery behind this symbol.
   The whore or prostitute we will find to represent the same power as does this beast. Here the sea is the mass of people under her control. These people are generally hostile to the people of God. In 1102 they are symbolized as Gentiles or nations who trampled the holy city for 42 months. The children of Israel passed through the seemingly impassable sea in their escape from Egypt.
   So we may expect the beast in our present verse to have come up in a geographical area of peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. The people were also many in another way. The beast arose to power by appealing to the majority who, as Jesus said, walked in the broad way. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:" (Matt. 7:13)

13:1, note c
The beast identified by how he wore his crowns

    "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority." (Rev. 13:1, 2)

    Why is this creature called a beast? The word in Greek (therion) literally means "wild animal." The sacrificial animals representing Christ were all domestic animals. Watch for the contrast in this chapter. The beast is further described in terms of other wild animals. We will look at them later. Let's now examine the heads and horns. Does this description remind you of a creature we saw earlier?Image of sea beast © 1944 by Review and Herald Publishing Association. May not be copied except maybe with this commentary, without their written permission. Ask them.
   "And there appeared another wonder in heaven [following the appearance of the woman]; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads." (Rev. 12:3)

   So the beast of chapter 13 looks almost like the dragon. We can see from the dragon's role in verse 2 however that he is not simply the dragon with a new name. What are the differences? A significant one is the location of the crowns. I'll let you compare the verses, then come back to continue.
   We also find a ten-horned beast in the book of Daniel which we see as Imperial Rome with subjugated kingdoms. That beast developed a little horn which uprooted three of the ten and spoke words against the Most High da0708, da0725. As we continue to read this chapter in Revelation, we may see the beast from the sea as equivalent to the horn that arose from littleness out of the head of Daniel’s beast.  Here the heads (this verse) and a mouth (verse 5) express blasphemy (words against the Most High). In Daniel the horn power had eyes like a man and a mouth speaking words against the Most High. Although the sets of symbols are different, we can see the pattern.

Crowns now on the horns
   Why would the crowns be moved to the horns?  (Horns enforce the will of the animal). On the dragon, the horns were on the heads. This was in the time of Imperial Rome before she was invaded and brought down by Germanic tribes of Europe. This is confirmed by recalling from chapter 12 that the dragon was active when the "man child" was born and was taken to heaven (12:5). The crowns on the dragon's heads (12:3) shows that Satan had then worked more directly through pagan Rome. Then the horns, as military units, were not rulers independent of the planning source — the heads where the crowns were. Now, as the sea beast arises, the spotlight of military rulership is on the individual kingdoms of Europe while the controlling blasphemous power is in the beast’s heads — the seat of strategy da0707.
   The woman of Revelation 17 rides a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns, but no crowns 1703b.
   So, to identify the sea beast, we think of a power that arose to significant strength after 476 AD. when historians consider that imperial Rome had completely fallen to individual Germanic kings.  Seeing the crowns on the horns helps us understand the beast to be a power that channeled the military might of individual kings to support it. This would have been what is termed The Holy Roman Empire. The transition is also seen in the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream da0242.
   "And in the latter time of their kingdom [resulting from the four horns of divided Greece], when the transgressors [pagans] are come to the full [cf. ge1516], a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up [begin to reign]. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty [nations] and the holy people." (Dan. 8:23, 24)

   In thinking about the blasphemous names on the heads, consider the following statement from a speech addressed to the pope: "Thou art the shepherd, thou art the physician, thou art the director, thou art the husbandman; finally, thou art another god on earth." Christopher Marcellus, Oration in the Fifth Lateran Council, Session IV (1512).  From Latin, in Mansi SC, vol. 32, col. 761.

   "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. 2:3, 4)

   We take no glory in identifying the beast power, and we mean no ill to people who are part of its community. Many of them do not realize the importance of personal Bible study. They need our prayers. In fact for most of us, we are studying our own ancestors. Because this power is identified numerous times in the books of Daniel and Revelation, we know that God wants us to understand.

13:1, note d
Why was a name on the heads?

    ". . . and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy." (Rev. 13:1)

   As I was looking over the first two verses of this chapter planning to pull together some thoughts for verse 2, I saw something new about the end of verse 1. Look with me at the phrase: "and upon his heads the name of blasphemy." To open our thoughts, let's ask why the name was on the heads. Notice that blasphemy here is a name. We cannot ignore this word, "name," in the text. Saying simply, "and blasphemy upon his heads," would not be the same. So what is a name of blasphemy? It's a mark of identification but how is it such? Turn to 14:1 and notice how the word, name, is used. "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads." We understand this to mean that the Lamb's Father's character has become their character (confirmed by reading on). So the name of blasphemy, written on the heads of the beast, represents its character.
   Between the two verses, compare "in their foreheads" and "on his heads." "In" and "on" both translate the same Greek word, epi, although heads and foreheads are not the same. We may understand the forehead to represent the mind which is the seat of character. The heads, in a sense, would also relate to the character. I think I see one reason for the difference. Something special is emphasized by the "heads." Why would blasphemy be on the heads of the beast? Remember how dragon and this sea beast looked almost alike, one of the differences being the location of the crowns? They were on the heads of the dragon but moved to the horns for the sea beast. This would have left the heads of the sea beast bare if they had not carried this name — the name of blasphemy. Conclusion: the beast's leadership role is not defined by its political domain which crowns represent but on an assumed domain in the spiritual realm. "and upon his heads the name of blasphemy."
   Do you recall what the high priest wore on his head? The sanctuary system established after the exodus from Egypt was a pattern of the sanctuary in heaven he0805. Aaron as high priest and Moses as political leader both represented aspects of Christ's ministry for us. Notice a little of the instructions to Moses in ex2831ff:
   First this is a beautiful picture of salvation by grace. In the ministry of the gifts and sacrifices the high priest represented the Son of God with His pure character. The high priest wore the gold plate on his forehead with the words, "Holiness to the Lord," representing that character. As the people showed their trust in the coming Messiah whose character would be perfect, God would look upon the righteousness of His Son represented by the special words on the forehead of the high priest, and they, in the Messiah's place would be accepted.
   On the sea beast we see a counterfeit of this name representing the righteousness of Christ applied in the forgiveness of our sins. The beast also promises acceptance with God through the forgiveness of sin! But this claim is blasphemy. All this confirms our earlier identification of the role of the beast.

Praise God that we may have the character of the Lamb's father, instead of the beast's father's character which is so natural for us.

13:2, note a
Strange roots

   "And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority." (Rev. 13:2)

Where else do we see the leopard, bear, and lion?
   The link with Daniel here is unmistakable.
   "Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked [Nebuchadnezzar's becoming as an animal because he claimed glory for himself, Dan. 4], and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it." (Dan. 7:2-6)

   Did you notice that the beasts in Revelation are in reverse order compared to those in Daniel? The beast from the sea was like the leopard but with bear feet and a lion mouth. I see this as drawing attention to receiving the traits as we think of genetic inheritance — more recent progenitors first because they contribute more. What characteristics of the religious power from the sea would have been picked up from these preceding kingdoms. The sea beast is given a dominion like Greece, the leopard. We will see this in verse 7. With the bear feet, the beast would be a persecuting power, just as Medo-Persia, the bear, would devour much flesh. Daniel did not mention the bear's feet but he did explain persecution of the saints (7:25) as trampling the host (8:10, 13). And from Babylon, the lion, the beast would get the mouth of arrogance and blasphemy. If you look ahead in the text you can see the mouth, persecution, and dominion in verses 6 and 7. The polar bear image as others on this page except the bar at the bottom is copyrighted by Corel Corporation. The ancient Persians would not have known about polar bears.
   You might also have noticed that something seems to be missing in the verses I quoted from Daniel? The prophet said "I saw . . . and four great beasts came up from the sea." I stopped quoting before the description of the fourth beast because in our Revelation verse only the first three of the four are mentioned. The ten horns on both the sea beast here and the fourth beast in Dan. 7:7 lead us to wonder whether the two represent the same power. Let's read on from where I stopped.

   "After this I saw in the night visions [introduction to a new scene], and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things." (Dan. 7:7, 8)

Lessons from the series of beasts
   The lineup in Daniel is lion, bear, leopard, dreadful beast, little horn. Looking at them this way there are five. The first four came up from where? Check back if you forgot. The fifth came up not as a beast but as a horn among ten already established horns. It was accompanied by the total demise of three of the ten. So what major historic events and powers do these represent? The Bible starts us off by naming the second and third kingdoms in Daniel 8. This was in a vision of future events. It occurred near the end of the time of Babylon (8:1), the first of the kingdoms. Thus the five are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Imperial (or pagan) Rome, and the new power that grew from littleness out of the head of Rome which would be papal Rome.
   Each of the first thee powers disappeared when a new power arose, but the situation was different with the fourth (Rome). When the new horn took charge, only three of the small kingdoms that had been subjugated by Imperial Rome were removed. The horn power allowed the others to remain as political kingdoms. So, in a sense, the beast of the sea is Daniel's fourth beast, but during the time it had taken the character of the horn that came up. So the beast from the sea developed from the characteristics of the three kingdoms that passed from the scene before it.
   Incidentally the same pattern of world control is seen in chapter 8. Only Babylon, soon to fall, is not included. We have two kings plus horn with only a hint of the imperial stage of Rome. Even in Daniel 7, the description of the ten-horned beast and its new horn is seen as a separate vision from the descriptions of the preceding three. This helps us see the two phases of Rome as a unit.
   The beast had a domain like the leopard, the bear's feet for trampling the saints, and the lion's mouth for arrogant words against the Most High (all also in da0725). Let's look at the last part of our verse.

13:2, note b
Satan hiding
   ". . .  and the dragon gave him [the beast] his power, and his seat, and great authority." (Rev. 13:2)

   Here we see the transition we were looking at in Daniel where the horn power took over from the terrible ten-horned beast. Satan, as the dragon, works openly in paganism. When He enters the church (any church) he works behind the scenes. When the beast came up out of the sea he already had the blasphemous name. So the dragon had already transferred his "power" (horns), "seat" (crowns), and "great authority" (heads) to this appointed agent. The beast's emergence from paganism explains many of the customs that were reinterpreted and given Christian names. These include the worship of "saints," the Eucharist re1408f, Halloween, Easter (named from Eastre the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility), with worship facing the sun at sunrise at the venal equinox, and bunnies and eggs. Other pagan religious practices involve hot cross buns, veneration of a female mother goddess to substitute for the Egyptian Isis, and even Sunday which was the pagan day for sun worship.
   I should add that, when the Christian world is remembering the birth or the resurrection of Christ, I join them, turning to the Bible record of the events although I do not regard the days or specific ceremonies as holy because God has not made them so. I'll let you think about these things and study the topic for yourself. I only mention my thoughts here in connection with the idea of the dragon turning his attributes over to the beast. As the heroes of the Protestant Reformation realized, pagan influences have indeed come into the Christian church.
    So, what power and seat and authority did the dragon have to give? The pagan Roman empire. A few centuries earlier we saw Jesus Christ born under this system. A pagan emperor called for the census that took His parents to Bethlehem lu0201. Pagan King Herod tried to kill the baby Jesus mt0216. Later He was asked about paying tax to Caesar mr1213. Pilate, appointed by Rome allowed Him to be crucified mt2724. And the Roman seal was on his Tomb mt2764.

Thank you for your patience. Let us claim the promise that we can resist the devil, as we live from day to day. May God bless our commitment and respect for His word.

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