Revelation 13

Listen to Revelation 13

The First Beast

1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, 1with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and 2blasphemous names on its heads.
2 And the beast that I saw was 3like a leopard; its feet were like 4a bear's, and its mouth was like 5a lion's mouth. And to it 6the dragon gave his power and 7his throne and great authority.
3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and 8the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.
4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, 9"Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?"
5 And the beast was given 10a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for 11forty-two months.
6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling,[a] that is, those who dwell in heaven.
7 Also it was allowed 12to make war on the saints and to conquer them.[b] And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
8 and all 13who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in 14the book of life of 15the Lamb 16who was slain.
9 17If anyone has an ear, let him hear:
10 18If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; 19if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.20Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

The Second Beast

11 Then 21I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.
12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence,[c] and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, 22whose mortal wound was healed.
13 23It performs great signs, even 24making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people,
14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of[d] the beast 25it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast 26that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not 27worship the image of the beast 28to be slain.
16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,[e]29to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, 30the name of the beast or 31the number of its name.
18 32This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number 33of a man, and his number is 666.[f]

Revelation 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

A wild beast rises out of the sea, to whom the dragon gives his power. (1-10) Another beast, which has two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon. (11-15) It obliges all to worship its image, and receive its mark, as persons devoted to it. (16-18)

Verses 1-10 The apostle, standing on the shore, saw a savage beast rise out of the sea; a tyrannical, idolatrous, persecuting power, springing up out of the troubles which took place. It was a frightful monster! It appears to mean that worldly, oppressing dominion, which for many ages, even from the times of the Babylonish captivity, had been hostile to the church. The first beast then began to oppress and persecute the righteous for righteousness' sake, but they suffered most under the fourth beast of Daniel, (the Roman empire,) which has afflicted the saints with many cruel persecutions. The source of its power was the dragon. It was set up by the devil, and supported by him. The wounding the head may be the abolishing pagan idolatry; and the healing of the wound, introducing popish idolatry, the same in substance, only in a new dress, but which as effectually answers the devil's design. The world admired its power, policy and success. They paid honour and subjection to the devil and his instruments. It exercised infernal power and policy, requiring men to render that honour to creatures which belongs to God alone. Yet the devil's power and success are limited. Christ has a chosen remnant, redeemed by his blood, recorded in his book, sealed by his Spirit; and though the devil and antichrist may overcome the body, and take away the natural life, they cannot conquer the soul, nor prevail with true believers to forsake their Saviour, and join his enemies. Perseverance in the faith of the gospel and true worship of God, in this great hour of trial and temptation, which would deceive all but the elect, is the character of those registered in the book of life. This powerful motive and encouragement to constancy, is the great design of the whole Revelation.

Verses 11-18 Those who understand the first beast to denote a worldly power, take the second to be also a persecuting and assumed power, which acts under the disguise of religion, and of charity to the souls of men. It is a spiritual dominion, professing to be derived from Christ, and exercised at first in a gentle manner, but soon spake like the dragon. Its speech betrayed it; for it gives forth those false doctrines and cruel decrees, which show it to belong to the dragon, and not to the Lamb. It exercised all the power of the former beast. It pursues the same design, to draw men from worshipping the true God, and to subject the souls of men to the will and control of men. The second beast has carried on its designs, by methods whereby men should be deceived to worship the former beast, in the new shape, or likeness made for it. By lying wonders, pretended miracles. And by severe censures. Also by allowing none to enjoy natural or civil rights, who will not worship that beast which is the image of the pagan beast. It is made a qualification for buying and selling, as well as for places of profit and trust, that they oblige themselves to use all their interest, power, and endeavour, to forward the dominion of the beast, which is meant by receiving his mark. To make an image to the beast, whose deadly wound was healed, would be to give form and power to his worship, or to require obedience to his commands. To worship the image of the beast, implies being subject to those things which stamp the character of the picture, and render it the image of the beast. The number of the beast is given, so as to show the infinite wisdom of God, and to exercise the wisdom of men. The number is the number of a man, computed after the usual manner among men, and it is 666. What or who is intended by this, remains a mystery. To almost every religious dispute this number has yet been applied, and it may reasonably be doubted whether the meaning has yet been discovered. But he who has wisdom and understanding, will see that all the enemies of God are numbered and marked out for destruction; that the term of their power will soon expire, and that all nations shall submit to our King of righteousness and peace.

Cross References 33

  • 1. Daniel 7:3; See Revelation 12:3
  • 2. Revelation 17:3
  • 3. Daniel 7:6
  • 4. Daniel 7:5
  • 5. Daniel 7:4
  • 6. ver. 4, 11; [Luke 4:6]
  • 7. Revelation 16:10
  • 8. [Revelation 17:8]
  • 9. [Revelation 18:18]
  • 10. Dan. 7:8, 11, 20; Daniel 11:36; [2 Thessalonians 2:4]
  • 11. Revelation 11:2; Revelation 12:6
  • 12. Revelation 11:7; Revelation 12:17; Daniel 7:21
  • 13. See Revelation 3:10
  • 14. See Revelation 3:5
  • 15. See Revelation 5:6
  • 16. [Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:19, 20]
  • 17. See Revelation 2:7
  • 18. [Isaiah 33:1; Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 43:11]
  • 19. See Genesis 9:6
  • 20. Revelation 14:12
  • 21. [ver. 1, 14; Revelation 16:13]
  • 22. ver. 3
  • 23. Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:20; Deuteronomy 13:1-3; Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11
  • 24. Revelation 20:9; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10, 12; Luke 9:54
  • 25. [Revelation 12:9]
  • 26. ver. 3, 12
  • 27. Revelation 14:9, 11; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:4
  • 28. [Revelation 16:6]
  • 29. [Revelation 7:3]; See Galatians 6:17
  • 30. Revelation 14:11
  • 31. Revelation 15:2
  • 32. [Revelation 17:9]
  • 33. [Revelation 21:17]

Footnotes 6

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a description of the Romish antichrist, under the figure of two beasts, the one representing him in his civil power, the other in his ecclesiastical power. The first beast is described by its origin, the sea, and by the monstrous shape its several parts; its heads seven, in which were the name of blasphemy; its horns ten, on which were crowns; its skin like a leopard, its feet as a bear, and its mouth as a lion; and by its state and condition, having power, a throne, and great authority; and having one of its heads wounded, and healed; and by the great regard had unto him, being wondered at, and worshipped by all the world, and declared to be more powerful than any, and none to be like them, Re 13:1-4. Next an account is given of what he was suffered to have, a blaspheming mouth, and power to continue forty two months, Re 13:5; and of what he said or uttered, his blasphemy against God, his name, tabernacle, and the inhabitants of heaven, Re 13:6; and of what he did by permission, made war with the saints, overcame them, and had power over all people, Re 13:7; and of the worship given him by the reprobate part of the world, Re 13:8; and the whole is concluded with an exhortation exciting attention to what had been said, with a threatening to the beast, and a word of comfort to the saints, Re 13:9,10. And then follows the description of the second beast, by its original the earth; by its likeness to a lamb, and a dragon; to the former for its two horns, and to the latter for its speech, Re 13:11; and by the actions ascribed to it, which are many; as exercising all the power of the first beast; causing all the inhabitants of the earth to worship that; doing miracles, of which one is mentioned, thereby deceiving the men of the world; ordering them to make an image to the wounded beast; giving life to it, so that it could speak; putting to death all that refused to worship it; obliging men of all ranks and degrees to have a mark in their right hands or foreheads, and forbidding such that had not to buy or sell, Re 13:12-17. And the chapter is concluded with an epiphonema, exciting men of understanding to search out, and count the number of the beast's name, since it is possible to be done, being the number of a man, and easy to be done, consisting of three Greek letters, c x v, which are numerically 666, Re 13:18.

Revelation 13 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.