And now in my vision I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God.
This beast looked like a leopard, but it had bear's feet and a lion's mouth! And the dragon gave him his own power and throne and great authority.
I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery -- but the fatal wound was healed! All the world marveled at this miracle and followed the beast in awe.
They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they worshiped the beast. "Is there anyone as great as the beast?" they exclaimed. "Who is able to fight against him?"
Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do what he wanted for forty-two months.
And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and all who live in heaven, who are his temple.
And the beast was allowed to wage war against God's holy people and to overcome them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.
And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life, which belongs to the Lamb who was killed before the world was made.
Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand.
The people who are destined for prison will be arrested and taken away. Those who are destined for death will be killed. But do not be dismayed, for here is your opportunity to have endurance and faith.
Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, and he spoke with the voice of a dragon.
He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and those who belong to this world to worship the first beast, whose death-wound had been healed.
He did astounding miracles, such as making fire flash down to earth from heaven while everyone was watching.
And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people of the world to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life.
He was permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die.
He required everyone -- great and small, rich and poor, slave and free -- to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead.
And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.
Wisdom is needed to understand this. Let the one who has understanding solve the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. a His number is 666. b
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)