Revelation 13:1

In the previous chapter, we saw a dragon with seven heads and ten horns who attempted to intercept the promised child and subsequently persecuted the woman who gave birth to the child. We saw numerous indicators which pointed to the Jewish context of that chapter and its events, with the woman finally receiving supernatural assistance to reach a place of protection prepared by God (Rev. Rev. 12:6+, Rev. 12:14+). Since the dragon could not destroy the woman, he became enraged and “went off to make war with the rest of her offspring” (see commentary on Revelation 12:17).1

Now, the scene shifts to describe a beast who also has seven heads and ten horns, who is closely identified with the dragon. He and another beast institute a series of satanically-empowered deceptions which bring the whole world under the sway of the beast with seven heads and ten horns, and ultimately Satan. This is the rise of the Antichrist,2 whose activities are key to The 70th Week of Daniel.

By now, the Restrainer has been taken out of the way resulting in the departure of the Church in the Rapture. Thus, believers today will not see the rise of the Beast and the events of this chapter, for they are to watch for the imminent return of Christ, not the rise of Antichrist. Even so, multitudes will come to faith during this period of intense persecution as the message of the various witnesses which God has specially equipped for the time of the end goes forth (Rev. Rev. 7:4-8+; Rev. 11:3-12+; Rev. 14:6+).3

Prior to studying this chapter, we recommend the study of related topics: The Beast; Nero; and Beasts, Heads, and Horns.

I stood on the sand of the sea
The NU text has he stood, that is, the dragon of the previous chapter.

Some manuscripts read, “he stood,” the change being effected by the dropping of one letter nu from the end of the verb estathē. If the letter is properly dropped, it indicates that the dragon himself stood upon the sand of the sea. If the letter is added, it means that John stood upon the sand of the sea. . . inasmuch as it is more likely that a letter be dropped than a letter added to the text, some scholars continue to feel that the Authorized Version is correct that John stood upon the sand of the sea.4

Hengstenberg remarks, “One cannot decide on external grounds between the two [textual] readings.” Authorities are divided. But a careful study of the context shews [sic ] conclusively that it is the Seer, and not the dragon that “stood upon the sand of the sea.” The apocalyptic prophet always takes his place or stand as a point of observation in keeping with the subject at hand. Thus heaven (Rev. Rev. 4:1+); the sand of the sea (Rev. Rev. 13:1+); the wilderness (Rev. Rev. 17:1+); and a high mountain (Rev. Rev. 21:10+), are respective points of view from which he can contemplate the various panoramic visions as they pass before his gaze.5

If it is the dragon which stands on the sand, rather than John, then it would intimate his summons of the Beast portrayed next. “The dragon, cast out of Heaven after his final defeat at the hands of Michael and his forces, comes to the earth looking for an instrument through whom he can carry on his warfare against his hated Creator and God.”6 Whether it is John or the dragon, the dragon is clearly the malevolent power behind the rise of the Beast: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2Th. 2Th. 2:4).

Although elsewhere sand denotes an innumerable company, Rev. 17:15+).”7 Here, it merely describes the position of John on the shore from where he observed the beast’s rise from the water.

I saw a beast
John sees two beasts in this chapter. The first beast is closely identified with the dragon—having seven heads and ten horns. He is also the beast whose deadly wound was healed. Moreover, he is the object of worship and aided in this role by the second beast (Rev. Rev. 13:11+). These characteristics identify the first beast as Antichrist, also called the Beast. The second beast which appears later is known as the False Prophet (Rev. Rev. 16:13+; Rev. 19:20+; Rev. 20:10+). As we mention in our discussion of why Nero cannot be the Antichrist, the early church which lived much nearer to the time of Nero and the Apostle John, did not see Nero as the Beast. Irenaeus identifies the first of St John’s Wild Beasts with St Paul’s Man of Sin. See commentary on Revelation 13:4.

As we discuss in Beasts, Heads, and Horns, the symbolism of the revelation given to both Daniel and John concerning this time of the end often blurs the distinction between an individual and the government which he leads:

There can be no kingdom without a king, and no empire without an emperor; neither can there be a king in fact without a kingdom. We cannot consistently speak of imperial power and dominion apart from a personal head which represents and embodies that power.8

But it is very clear from what follows in Rev. Rev. 13:1+ that there is something more than the Empire here in view. In Rev. Rev. 13:3-8+ it is a person that is before us. We are satisfied that this same person is also described, symbolically, in the opening verses. As is frequently the case in the prophetic scriptures, the king and his kingdom are here inseparably united. Rev. Rev. 13:1+, Rev. 13:2+ portrays both the Empire and its last Emperor.9

Is the beast out of the sea a man or an empire? The answer is both. (a) The beast is a man because his number is that of a man (Rev. Rev. 13:18+). Also the use of the masculine pronoun αὐτόν [auton] (Rev. Rev. 13:8+) to refer to the neuter θηρίον [thērion] (Rev. Rev. 13:1-2+, Rev. 13:4+) indicates that he is a human being. In addition, parallels between the beast and the Lamb indicate that he is a person: both have followers on whose foreheads are inscribed their names (Rev. Rev. 13:16-17+; Rev. 14:1+), both are conquerors (Rev. Rev. 5:5+; Rev. 13:7+), and both receive worship (Rev. Rev. 5:8+; Rev. 13:4+). (b) At the same time the beast is an empire over which the man reigns. This fact is demonstrated by the symbolism of the beasts of Daniel Dan. 7:1.10

See The Beast. See #16 - Beast.

rising up
Ἀναβαῖνον [Anabainon] , present tense participle, presently arising. John saw the beast as he was rising.

out of the sea
Daniel’s four beasts also were seen rising from the sea (Dan. Dan. 7:2-3). The Beast’s ascension from the sea speaks of the origin of his kingdom from the Gentile nations. “Stretch out Your hand from above; Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, From the hand of foreigners [lit. strange children]” (Ps. Ps. 144:7). This beast shares characteristics of the first three of Daniel’s beasts (all Gentile kingdoms). See commentary on Revelation 13:2. Leviathan, the twisted serpent, representative of both Satan and the Beast, is in the sea (Isa. Isa. 27:1; Ps. Ps. 74:13).

The Beast is also said to ascend out of the bottomless pit (Rev. Rev. 11:7+, Rev. 17:8+). His ascent out of the bottomless pit speaks of his revival from the dead following his fatal wound. See Supernatural Origin?

This beast arises from the sea, but the second beast arises from the earth or land (Rev. Rev. 13:11+). This has caused some to expect the second beast, the False Prophet, to be Jewish in origin. See commentary on Revelation 12:11.

These contrasting terms are indicative of the origin of the two beasts. The sea may symbolize the Gentiles (Rev. Rev. 17:15+; cf. Dan. Dan. 7:2-3) and if this is the case here, the opposite term, the earth, symbolizes the Jews. There is precedence for the Gentile origin of Antichrist in the Old Testament allusions, and the Jewish identification may be strengthened if here “the earth” has technical sense of “the land” [of Israel] as it sometimes may in Revelation (Rev. Rev. 11:18+; cf. Dan. Dan. 8:9).11

The land/sea distinction between Gentiles and Jews is seen in the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price:

Christ’s inheritance is not only the Church which is the pearl of great price for which He sold all that He had, but it also includes Israel which is the treasure hidden in the field and which He purchased with His own blood and which He hid again.12

The treasure [Mtt. Mat. 13:45-46] represents the Jews, so it is natural that the pearl [Mtt. Mat. 13:45-46] would represent the Gentiles. Furthermore, the pearl comes from the sea, and the sea symbolizes the Gentile world (Dan. Dan. 7:2-3; Rev. Rev. 17:1+, Rev. 17:15+). Finally, the pearl comes from the oyster, which itself was unclean in the Law of Moses but made clean by the Law of Messiah.13

Some suggest that the sea indicates his rise from the abyss (Rev. Rev. 11:7+; Rev. 17:8+).14

seven heads
Like the dragon (Rev. Rev. 12:3+), the Beast has seven heads. The heads represent seven world kingdoms which culminate in the Beast as the seventh which had “not yet come” in John’s day (Rev. Rev. 17:10+). This is not a matter of conjecture for this same Beast with seven heads is ridden upon by the Harlot, the “mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. Rev. 17:3+). We are told that the seven heads are “seven mountains on which the woman sits. They are seven kings” (Rev. Rev. 17:9-10+).15 One of the heads of the Beast receives a deadly wound which is healed (Rev. Rev. 13:3+). This revived head is considered as “the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition” (Rev. Rev. 17:11+). The terminology describing the Beast indicates he is both a kingdom and its representative leader—the king.

In Daniel’s night vision, he sees four beasts which, when taken together, have seven heads:

That we have here in Rev. Rev. 13:1+, Rev. 13:2+ a composite kingdom is clear from the ‘seven heads.’ Now note that in Dan. Dan. 7:1 the first, second and fourth kingdoms are not said to have more than one head, but the third has ‘four heads’ (Dan. Dan. 7:6). Thus the beasts of Dan. Dan. 7:1 have, three of them one head each, and the third four heads, or seven in all; which tallies perfectly with Rev. Rev. 13:1+. . . . the four kingdoms of Dan. Dan. 7:1 are to be restored, and play their final parts immediately before the Millennium. If the reader will turn to Dan. Dan. 2:1, which is parallel with Dan. Dan. 7:1 - the ‘image in its four parts’ (the head, the breast and arms, the belly and thighs, the legs and feet) corresponding with the four beasts - it will be found that when we come to Dan. Dan. 2:45, which speaks of Christ (under the figure of ‘the Stone cut out of the mount without hands’ returning to earth to destroy the forces of evil, and then set up His kingdom, we discover that the Stone ‘brake in pieces the iron (Rome), the brass (Greece), the clay (apostate Israel), the silver (Medo-Persia), and the gold (Babylon).’ What we desire the reader to note particularly is that the Stone strikes not only the iron, but the brass, clay, silver, and gold; in fact, Dan. Dan. 2:35 tells us, expressly, they shall be ‘broken to pieces together!’ If, then, they are destroyed together, they must all be on the scene at the time of Christ’s return to earth to inaugurate His millennial reign, and if so, each of them must have been revived and restored!!16

Although it is true that the four beasts Daniel sees are represented in this beast with seven heads, it is unlikely that the seven heads on the beast correspond exactly with the seven heads of Daniel’s four beasts. For a discussion of the problems involved, see Daniel saw Seven Heads. See #4 - Seven Heads/Kings.

ten horns
Like the dragon (Rev. Rev. 12:3+), the beast has ten horns. The ten horns are identified for us: “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they will receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” (Rev. Rev. 17:12-13+). These are the ten horns which Daniel saw upon the fourth terrible beast in his night vision (Dan. Dan. 7:7, Dan. 7:20) which are also said to be ten kings (Dan. Dan. 7:24). The Beast ridden by the Harlot also has ten horns (Rev. Rev. 17:3+). “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose” (Rev. Rev. 17:16+-Rev. 17:17+a) Initially, the beast supports the Harlot and she rides upon, or controls, him. Eventually the ten kings who are allied with the Beast will turn on the Harlot, throw her off and destroy her. See #22 - Ten Horns/Kings. See The Great Harlot. See commentary on Revelation 17:16.

on his horns, ten crowns
Unlike the dragon which wears crowns on its heads (Rev. Rev. 12:3+), the beast’s crowns are on its horns. The dragon’s crowns are associated with historical kingdoms of which this beast is one. The beast has crowns on each of his ten horns, indicating the rule of the ten contemporaneous kings associated with the last head or kingdom. These ten horns are the same as those of the last (terrible beast) of Daniel’s four beasts (Dan. Dan. 7:7). See #22 - Ten Horns/Kings. See Crowns.

a blasphemous name
Ὀνόμα βλασφημίας [Onoma blasphēmias] , a name blasphemous. The MT and NU texts have, ὀνόματα βλασφημίας [onomata blasphēmias] , names blasphemous. The blasphemous name or names are an indication of his character. Daniel described this individual who “shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done” (Dan. Dan. 11:36).17 He is also noted for his mouth speaking great things against God. See commentary on Revelation 13:5.


1 Some infer from the placement of the material of chapter 13 following upon the plight of the woman in chapter 12 that “the rest of her offspring” (Rev. Rev. 12:17+) must be those who are subsequently persecuted within chapter Rev. 13:1+. If so, then her offspring would include all who refuse to take the mark, both Jew and Gentile. [Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 13:1] Yet there are valid reasons to understand her offspring as physical Jews. See commentary on Revelation 12:1.

2 We note that the term Antichrist is not used by John in the book of Revelation. But neither is the little horn or many of the other names which apply throughout Scripture to this individual, here designated as the first beast. See Man of Many Names.

3 “Though the Holy Spirit ‘[will be] taken out of the way’ (2Th. 2Th. 2:7) in the Tribulation, this has to do with His work of restraining sin and not with His indwelling and empowering believers.”—Russell L. Penney, “Pneumatology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 119.

4 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), s.v. “Some manuscripts read, "he stood," the change being effected by the dropping of one letter .”

5 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), Rev. 13:1.

6 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), Rev. 13:1.

7 Ibid.

8 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 322.

9 Arthur Walkington Pink, The Antichrist (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1999, 1923), s.v. “Antichrist in the Apocalypse.”

10 Daniel K. Wong, “The Beast From The Sea in Revelation 13,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 160 no. 639 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, July-September 2003), 337.

11 Randall Price, “Antichrist,” in Mal Couch, ed., Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 46.

12 Barnhouse, Revelation, 103.

13 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 676.

14 “To say that the sea stands for the abyss carries on the OT concept of the sea, that is the source of the satanic sea monster (cf. Job Job 26:12-13; Ps. Ps. 74:13-14; Ps. 87:4; Ps. 89:9-10; Isa. Isa. 27:1; Isa. 51:9-10) (Johnson). Also, Paul equates the sea with the abyss in his Rom. Rom. 10:7 citation of Deu. Deu. 30:13.”—Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 13:1.

15 Concerning inaccuracies in the KJV and NKJV, see commentary on Revelation 17:10.

16 Pink, The Antichrist, s.v. “Babylon and the Antichrist.”

17 “Beginning with verse 36, a sharp break in the prophecy may be observed, introduced by the expression the time of the end in verse 35. Up to this point, the prophecy dealing with the Persian and Grecian Empires has been fulfilled minutely and with amazing precision. Beginning with verse 36, however, an entirely different situation obtains. No commentator claims to find precise fulfillment in the remainder of this chapter. Although Zöckler and others attempt to relate Daniel Dan. 11:36-45 to Antiochus, many students of Scripture have recognized from antiquity that another king must be in view. Ibn-Ezra, for example, identified this king with Constantine the Great; Rashi and Calvin referred him to the Roman Empire as a whole; and Jerome, Theodoret, and Luther, among others, identified him with the New Testament Antichrist.”—John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), Dan. 11:36.