The second beast which is described, Rev. Rev. 13:11-17+, as coming out of the earth, and having two horns like unto a lamb, and speaking as a dragon, and exercising all the authority of the first beast in his sight, is referred to the papacy. The false prophet receives a similar application. So Luther, Vitringa, Bengel, Auberlen, Hengstenberg, Ebrard, and many English divines.3
The commentators are in the most dire confusion on the identification . . . the Roman church, the Greek church, the French Republic, the Jesuits, the Roman theologians, the earthy carnal wisdom, including the heathen philosophies, false doctrines and the like. . . Still others identify the second beast with the heathen priesthood, the principle of inductive philosophy, witchcraft and soothsaying, divination and magic.4But his attributes are personal, for salvation and damnation are individual, not institutional:5
The second beast is a specific individual rather than a religious institution. . . . it is more likely that the singular phrase beast (thērion) or false prophet (pseudoprophētēs ) refers to an individual rather than a religious institution. Moreover, because he spends eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation Rev. 19:20+; Rev. 20:10+), the false prophet is characterized as possessing an eternal soul. Such an attribute and eternal fate is descriptive of individuals rather than institutions. [emphasis added]6Together with the first Beast and the dragon, he forms an evil trinity:
There is a Trinity of Evil. Now it surely needs no argument to prove that these three evil persons are opposed to and are the antithesis of the three Persons in the Godhead. The Devil stands opposed to God the Father - Ye are of your father, the Devil, John John 8:40, etc. The Antichrist stands opposed to God the Son - his very name shows this. The remaining evil person stands opposed to God the Spirit. If this be the case, then our present task is greatly simplified: it is merely a matter of noting what is separately predicted of the two Beasts in Rev. Rev. 13:1+ so as to ascertain which of them stands opposed to Christ and which to the Holy Spirit. . . Now there are only two arguments of any plausibility which have been advanced to support the view that it is the second Beast of Rev. Rev. 13:1+ which is the Antichrist, but so far as we are aware no one has endeavored to show that the first Beast represents the third Person in the Trinity of Evil! Yet he must be so if the second is the Antichrist!7We shall see that a primary function of this second beast is much like that of the Holy Spirit in relation to Christ. For he wields equivalent power to the first beast (Rev. Rev. 13:12+), yet retains no glory for himself, but constantly witnesses of the first beast, the Antichrist. And so it is with the Holy Spirit and the Son of God:
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (John John 16:13-14)
He is the third person of the Trinity of Evil. As there is to be an Antichrist who will both counterfeit and oppose the Christ of God, so there will be an Anti-spirit who will simulate and oppose the Spirit of God. Just as the great work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ, so the one aim of the Anti-spirit will be to magnify the false christ (see Rev. Rev. 13:12+). Just as the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was visibly attended by cloven tongues like as of fire (Acts Acts 2:3), so we read of the Anti-spirit that he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men (Rev. Rev. 13:13+). And just as it is the Holy Spirit who now quickens dead sinners into newness of life, so of the Anti-spirit we are told, He had power to give life unto the image of the Beast (Rev. Rev. 13:15+).8Some point to the religious aspect of the work of the second beast in favor of his identification as the Antichrist, or pseudo-Christ. But this cannot be, for it is the first beast which attains all worship, not the second. The refusal of the second beast to participate as the object of worship is fatal to any view that the second beast is the Antichrist. Moreover, the role of the Antichrist is much broader than that of a mere religious figure:9
To regard the Antichrist as limited to the religious realm and divorced from the political, seems to us, to leave out entirely an essential and fundamental element of his character and career. The Antichrist will claim to be the true Christ, the Christ of God. Hence, it would seem that he will present himself to the Jews as their long-expected Messiah - the One foretold by the Old Testament prophets - and that before apostate Christendom, given over by God to believe the Lie, he will pose as the returned Christ. Therefore, must we not predict, as an inevitable corollary, that the pseudo christ, will usher in a false millennium, and rule over a mock Messianic Kingdom? Why was it (from the human side) that, when our Lord tabernacled among men, the Jews rejected Him as their Messiah? Was it not because He failed to fulfill their expectations that he would take the government upon His shoulder and wield the royal sceptre as soon as He presented Himself to them? Was it not because they looked for Him to restore the Kingdom to Israel there and then? Is it not therefore reasonable to suppose that when the Antichrist presents himself to them, that he will wield great temporal power, and rule over a vast earthly empire? It would certainly seem so.10coming up
up out of the earth
The first beast arose out of the sea, indicating his Gentile origin (see commentary on Revelation 13:1). This beast arises from the earth, which may indicate his Jewish origin. Although there is ample evidence of the Gentile origin of the first beast, some suggest that the second beast is Jewish.11 They note the lack of mention of the tribe of Dan in the 144,000 sealed of Israel (see commentary on Revelation 7:4) and the negative prophecy of Jacob concerning Dan: Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horses heels so that its rider shall fall backward (Gen. Gen. 49:17). It is difficult to be dogmatic on the earth-sea distinction because the Gentile kingdoms which Daniel saw arise from the sea (Dan. Dan. 7:3) are also said to be four kings which arise from the earth (Dan. Dan. 7:17). Fruchtenbaum suggests the mention of earth merely denotes his humanity.12 It almost certainly indicates his earthiness as opposed to that which is from heaven (John John 8:23).
Although the bottomless pit is within the earth, the origin of this beast does not speak of the abyss.13 The beast which arises from the bottomless pit is the one which was, and is not (Rev. Rev. 17:8+), the first beast out of the sea with the deadly wound that was healed (Rev. Rev. 13:3+). This second beast causes the earth dwellers to worship the first beast whose deadly wound was healed (Rev. Rev. 13:12-14+).
The mention of horns in conjunction with a Lamb points to the vision of the throne room prior to the opening of the first seal where John saw a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven yes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth (Rev. Rev. 5:6+). Horns frequently symbolize power. The Lamb has seven, the number of completeness. This beast has two, the number of witness, for he shall serve as the ultimate witness to the first beast.
The two horns have a pertinent significance, for two is the number of witness and just as Christ declared the Spirit of God should testify (lit., bear witness) of Me (John John 15:26), so the third person in the Trinity of Evil bears witness to the first Beast.14like a lamb
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits (Mtt. Mat. 7:15-16). [emphasis added]
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Mtt. Mat. 24:11-14)spoke like a dragon
5 Most interpreters view the two Beasts as two aspects of the same thing. All seem to be agreed that they are not individuals; which is the very thing that the ordinary reader would at once take them to be. Little help, therefore, can be expected from such guides.E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rom. 13:11.
8 Ibid., s.v. Antichrist in the Apocalypse.
9 Those who emphasize an exclusively religious role for the Antichrist fail to appreciate the political promises found in Messiah who reigns from the throne of David upon His return. See The Arrival of Gods Kingdom.
11 It might well be . . . though we would not press the point, that this anti-Spirit would be a Jew, and that he would be used of Satan to deceive Israel if possible.Barnhouse, Revelation, 242. This individual is evidently a Jew, since he arises out of the earth, or land, that is Palestine (Rev. Rev. 13:11+).J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 336.
12 Whereas earlier the four beasts arose out of the sea, here they arise out of the earth. Coming out of the sea emphasizes their Gentile identity. Arising out of the earth emphasizes their humanity.Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 29.
13 Not all agree: In contrast to the first beast, who will come up out of the sea (Rev. Rev. 13:1+), the second beast will come up out of the earth. Like Antichrist, the false prophet will be indwelt by a demon out of the abyss.John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 13:11. It can also be said that the Witch of Endor saw a spirit ascending out of the earth (1S. 1S. 28:13). Yet there is no mention elsewhere in Scripture of a source for the False Prophet from the abyss. Moreover, there is great emphasis placed upon such a source for the Beast. The silence of other passages on such a suggestion is weighty.