Revelation 13 - Outline of Revelation (Book Notes menu page)
13:1 And I {some MSS: 'he', ie., the dragon of 12:17} stood upon the sand of the sea,
and
[I] saw a beast {GK= therion, wild 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.
a beast... out of the sea-
The 'sea' represents the gentile nations, the mass of humanity. cp. Isa 60:5; Rev 17:15
The 'beast' is both the final form of Gentile world dominion, and its personification in the final king (the Antichrist, the Beast).
seven heads and ten horns...- The picture is confusing. But it is explained in Rev 17:3,7,9-13.
  • The 7 heads are 7 consecutive kings or kingdoms.-
    Five are past, one was present at the time of writing, and one is yet to come.
    The "beast" arises from the seventh and becomes the eighth (17:10,11).
  • The 10 horns are 10 kings which will hold power contemporaneously (and in cooperation) with the "beast" (17:12,13). [These ten kings will be discussed, in the Book Notes at ch.17.]
These kings & kingdoms represent the flow of gentile world power through the ages and culminating in the political reign of the beast. (more at v.2)
ten crowns- Why were the Dragon's 7 heads crowned (in 12:3),
     while, here, the beast's 10 horns are crowned?
In all other points, the Dragon & the beast appear identical.
     They are essentially the same, because the Dragon is the power behind the beast (v.2).
The difference relates to the period of time in which the successive kingdoms reign:
  • Ch. 12:1-5 reviews the historic struggle of Israel, the rebellion of Satan, and the first coming of Christ and His ascension. All of these occurred in the period prior to the time of the end, when Michael will stand up for Israel (12:7).
    During that period, the 7 consecutive kingdoms were reigning, and therefore 'crowned.'
  • Ch. 12:6- ch. 13 pertain to the time of the end, with the rise of the Antichrist, prior to Christ's second coming.
    At that time, ten kings will reign (crowned) in cooperation with the beast.
the name of blasphemy- Blasphemy is the slandering of God's Name & the usurping of His place.
Gentile world dominion bears the name of (is characterized by) blasphemy. For example, the Caesar's deified themselves and persecuted Christians for following a 'false god' (ie., the Lord Jesus Christ). The beast will do the same.
     Although the term 'Anti-Christ' does not occur in Revelation, it applies to the beast. "Anti-" has two senses: the beast rises to stand both "against" (opposed to) Christ, and "in the place" of Christ. At the beginning of the Tribulation period, the rider on the white horse (in 6:1,2) will be acclaimed by many as the savior of the world, a messianic figure who conquers their enemies and guarantees peace and prosperity (as king #7). However, by ch.13, his benevolent character is either changed into, or uncovered in, its sinister reality (as king #8).
     See 1Joh 2:18,22; 4:1-3; 2Joh 1:7; Mat 24:23-30
13:2 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.
the beast... was like... a leopard... bear... lion...
Rev. ch.13 and Daniel ch. 2 and ch. 7 are parallel visions.
Daniel saw 4 consecutive kingdoms described as beasts (lion, bear, leopard, and a dreadful / terrible beast). The last of these is the Roman Empire. Out of the final form of Roman governance the beast (of Rev. 13) will arise (foreseen by Daniel as a 'little horn' arising among ten horns). The reign of the beast will share some of the characteristics of preceding gentile empires (eg., Leopard- swift conquest; Bear- thorough conquest; Lion- autocratic rule; and indescribably terrible power).
The apparent differences between Daniel & Revelation are due to the seer's perspective in time.
  • Daniel looked forward (to the future) from his time.
  • John looked back into the past (beyond Daniel) and also forward into the future time of the final beast.
The graphics compare Dan 2:31-45; 7:2-28 and Rev 13:1,2.
Gentile
World
Powers:
 Egypt AssyriaBabylonMedo-
Persia
GreeceRomeRevived
Roman
Empire
.
Heads--
as seen by:
LionBearLeopard"Dreadful"
John (Rev 13:1,2;
  17:3,7, 9-13)
. . 1 . .. . 2 . .. . 3 . .. . 4 . .. . 5 . .. . 6 . . 7 (8)- The Beast
out of the sea
+ 10 kings
Daniel (Dan 7:2-28)  . . 1 . .. . 2 . .. . 3 . .. . 4a . .4b + 10 horns
Daniel (Dan 2:31-45)  Gold
head
Silver
chest
& arms
Brass
belly
& thighs
Iron
legs
Iron & clay
Feet + 10 toes
Relative
time
  o- - - >
Daniel's
viewpoint
(Dan 2:28)
  < - - -o- - - >
John's
viewpoint
(Rev 13:1)
 
13:3 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.
What is this deadly wound? Several views have been suggested:
[The editor favors #4 (or, points 1,2, and 4, together). Points #3 and #4 are mutually exclusive.]
  1. The Roman empire collapsed, but it will be restored in the end times.
    Observe that it is one of the seven heads (the seven successive gentile kingdoms) that receives a wound "as it were... unto death." Although the legacy of the Roman empire continues to influence nations today, the imperial form of government appears to be dead. Here, the imperial form is restored as the world gladly receives the beast as their emperor.
         [There is no question that the beast will take the role of emperor, and that his kingdom will be a continuation of the seventh kingdom (the Roman empire). However, some of the language used, in this and related passages, seems more applicable to a person, rather than to a kingdom. eg. v.5-7]
  2. The final world ruler will be deposed (as king #7) in a coup d'etat (or, another type of severe political reversal), but will be 'miraculously' restored to power (as king #8).
    [This point is fully compatible with either of the following points.]
  3. The final world ruler will be literally killed and literally raised from the dead by Satan.
    Based on 17:8, some think the ruler's dead body will be occupied by the literal resurrection of a prior Roman emperor (perhaps Nero). Others, noting that the term "son of perdition" occurs only in Joh 17:12 and 2The 2:3, think this refers to the resurrection of Judas Iscariot.
         [Although the language allows for the beast's literal death, it does not require it, and may describe a near death scenario (since his deadly wound was "healed"). In any case, Satan does not have power to give life. He is the destroyer. In contrast, Christ has life in Himself. He alone holds the keys of death and the grave (Rev 1:18; Joh 5:21,25,28,29).]
  4. Satan will stage a counterfeit resurrection (one aspect of "the lie," 2The 2:11).
    Satan will heal the ruler's life threatening wounds, and then 'enter into him' (cp. Joh 13:26,27).
    • Although the phrase "one of his heads" can refer to one of the seven kingdoms, it also would refer to the king ruling at the time (Rev 17:11).
    • The phrase "as it were wounded to death" is from two Greek words {hos esphagmenon}, and is identical to "as it had been slain" (in 5:6). Both passages describe what appears to the viewer. The Lamb bears the marks of his historic death, though He lives. The beast appears to suffer a violent death, perhaps by assassination, but continues to live.
    • "And his deadly wound was healed" can be literally translated "the wound of his death was healed." "Healed" is the GK word 'therapeuo' (cp. the English word "therapeutic"), meaning to cure, to restore to health.
    • "The world wondered after the beast."- The world marvels at the beast, the reigning emperor ("the man of sin", 2The 2:3-9), not at his form of government. The cause, of their wonder and worship, is his apparent resurrection (v.3,4). From 17:8, we see that the life principle that energizes the resurrected beast is the same spirit that indwelt a prior emperor, who had died prior to John's writing ("who was, and is not...", eg., Nero's insanity may have been demonic possession). The spirit who arises from the abyss to indwell the beast (11:7), is Satan himself.
Note the many ways that the Dragon will counterfeit Christ (in double brackets [[ ]] below)--
In this verse, we see his [[ Counterfeit Incarnation ]] and [[ Counterfeit Resurrection ]]
(as Satan empowers both the personality and the body of the seriously wounded beast).
all the world wondered- at "the beast which was, and is not, and yet is." Rev 17:8d
This blasphemous description of the beast usurps the unique identity of Jesus Christ (1:8,18).
all the world- is qualified, in v.8, as 'unsaved earth dwellers' (not the saints, cp. 11:10-12).
13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast:
and they worshipped the beast, saying,
[[ Counterfeit Worship ]]
Who [is] like unto the beast? {cf. Ex 15:11}
who is able to make war with him? {Note: There is One who is able. cp. Rev 19:11}
13:5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies;
and power
{ie., authority} was given unto him to continue forty [and] two months.
a mouth- Note again that the beast is a person. Kingdoms don't have mouths.
(Neither will kingdoms be cast alive into the Lake of Fire. 19:20; 20:10)
speaking great things- in arrogant boastings,
he will declare his abilities, and make great promises which he cannot fulfill. cp. Dan 7:8,11,25
power was given- he receives his authority from the Dragon, as permitted by God.
There are six things given to him:
  1. The Dragon's... Power (v.2),
  2. The Dragon's... Throne (v.2, 'seat', cp. 2:13),
  3. The Dragon's... Authority (v.2; v.5, to reign 42 months over all kindreds),
  4. a Mouth, foul but eloquent (v.5; cp. v.6; 12:10b),
  5. ability to Make War with the saints (v.7),
  6. ability to Overcome the saints (v.7).
42 months- The last half of the Tribulation period.
This false christ will have the same length of time as Jesus' earthly ministry.
13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God,
- As anti-Christ, he is also anti-God.
to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle,
- He usurps the Temple, the place of God's Name. cp. 2Thes 2:4; with Isa 14:13,14; Eze 28:14-16
...tabernacle {ie., tent}- Although intended as a permanent structure, the Tribulation Temple will not be long standing.
and them that dwell {ie., tabernacle, dwell temporarily} in heaven.
- He slanders the saints in heaven, who will one day rule with Christ on earth.
- He slaughters the saints on earth:
13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them:
Dan 7:21,25; Rev 11:7
and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
power... over all...- The beast is universal dictator.
Any challenges to his dominion will be unsuccessful, until the end of his reign (cp. Dan 7:7-8,24; 11:40-44). The beast is the political head of the world, for he occupies Satan's throne (v.2). Yet, even before he takes that seat, he has already been defeated (Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him,
The beast is also the religious head of the world (cp. 2Cor 4:4; Mat 4:8-10).
whose names are not written in the book of life
of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
the Lamb slain- Only those redeemed by His blood are included in His book.
the foundation of the world- Speaks of its beginning.
Even before man sinned, the Lamb was provided. Salvation would come through the seed of the woman. Satan's end would come through Him. Gen 3:15,21; Heb 4:3; 1Pet 1:18-21
13:9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
This exhortation is given at the end of each of the letters to the 7 churches (in ch. 2 & 3).
Note that, here, the phrase "what the spirit says to the churches" is missing, because the Church has been raptured. Yet, salvation through the blood of the Lamb is still available. The question remains: What will you do with Jesus? Which "Christ" will you serve?
13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity:
he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.
Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
This is a dual warning:
'The patience and faith' of the saints is demonstrated, in that...
they commit their case to the righteous Judge, in whom they trust, knowing that He will vindicate them, in His time. Luk 21:12-19; Heb 10:35-39; 1Pet 2:21-23; Rev 1:9; (cp. 2:10-11,17)
13:11 And I beheld another {GK= allos, another of the same sort} beast
coming up out of the earth;
the earth- This beast rises out of the land (ie., the land of Israel).
and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
This beast is also a counterfeit christ. He is a dragon in sheep's clothing. cf. Joh 10:10
13:12 And he exerciseth all the power {authority} of the first beast before him,
'before' him- GK= enopion, in his sight; ie., with his approval.
[[ Counterfeit Trinity ]]-
  • The Dragon, who gives his authority to the beasts.
  • The Beast out of the sea, a king of kings (cf. 1Tim 6:13-16).
  • The Beast out of the land, the false prophet, who does not speak of himself,
    but of the first beast. (cf. Joh 16:13-15)
These three are united, in their evil purpose, and in its punishment. cp. Rev 16:13; 19:20; 20:10
and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast,
whose deadly wound was healed.
Recall that Beast #1 is the political & religious head of the world.
Beast #2 is the false prophet, whose primary purpose is to direct worship toward Beast #1 because of his "resurrection."
These two beasts are the final fulfillment of Jesus' warning regarding
false christs & false prophets. Mat 24:24,25
13:13 And he doeth great wonders {lit., signs},
so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth
in the sight of men,
{GK= enopion, in the sight of; ie., as 'proof' before their eyes}
[[ Counterfeit Miracles ]]- The 2nd beast exercizes power like that of Elijah
or like the Two Witnesses (cp. 11:3-6), in the same way that the Egyptian magicians imitated some of Moses' plagues (eg., Ex 7:11,12; 2Tim 3:8).
These signs lend credence to the false message. (cf. Acts 2:43; 5:12)
But these signs are 'lying wonders' (2Thes 2:8-12).
13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of]
those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast;
he had power to do- lit., "it was given him to do."
The enabling force behind the activity of this beast is the Dragon (who also empowers the first beast).
saying to them that dwell on the earth,
that they should make an image to the beast,
which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
saying...- [[ Counterfeit Gospel ]] The false prophet's message is that the Beast (Antichrist)
is worthy of worship because, as victor over death, he is the savior of the world.
Yet, the true Savior, though attested by signs, was rejected (cf. Joh 4:41,42; 5:36-43)
an image to the beast- not merely "of" him, but "to" his honor, for his benefit.
which had the wound by the sword, and did live.- Note the subtle change in description.
In v.3 and v.12, the one wounded "was healed" (GK= therapeuo).
Here, the one wounded "did live" (GK= ezasen, an unusual form of "zao", to live.)
This word is used elsewhere of Jesus (2:8). Christ's resurrection is essential to His Gospel (Acts 17:29-31; Rom 1:3,4; 10:9,10; 1Cor 15:1-4). The false prophet uses the term to undermine the uniqueness of Jesus' resurrection. The "healing" of the beast is advertised as a return from death to life.
that they should make an image...-
To honor himself, Nebuchadnezzar made an image and commanded all to worship it, on penalty of death (Dan 3:1-7). Nebuchadnezzar's image was a great statue. Therefore, it has generally been assumed that the beast's image would be a technologically advanced statue (with life-like animation), located in Jerusalem. However, the text does not require this form or location. Consider...
  • the word 'make' {GK= poieo} - Although this word can mean "to construct," it has many other senses, including: to perform, cause, do, acquire. Examples: 13:13 (doeth, maketh); v.14 (to do); v.15 (cause); Luk 19:18 (gained).
  • that they should make...- The task of "making" this image does not fall to a small group of craftsmen, as we might expect, if the image was a mechanized statue. Rather, "them that dwell upon the earth" (ie., the citizens of the world) are given this responsibility. Perhaps, everyone will be required to "acquire" the beast's image daily, by signing in to an official website, or with a cellphone app, to affirm their allegiance to him.
13:15 And he had power {lit., it was given him} to give life unto the image of the beast,
that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause
that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
image- GK= eikon, likeness.
image of the beast- Here is another indication that the beast is a person
rather than a kingdom. What could constitute an image of an empire?
life- GK= pneuma, breath, wind, spirit. This word occurs 385 times in the NT.
This is the only occurrence where it is translated "life." (NASB reads: 'breath')
The image apparently lacks life (GK, zoe) and soul (GK, psuche), but nevertheless is animated and has certain powers (perhaps a combination of electronic and demonic).
speak- The idols of antiquity could not speak, see, hear, act... Psa 115:2-9
But today's computers do all of these. Often, the human to computer interface is image based (eg., "click on the icon..."). Perhaps through artificial intelligence and the internet, the beast will appear to interact personally with each of his subjects, giving them instructions, answering their questions, receiving their reports, etc.
cause that [they who would not worship the image]... be killed - cp. Mat 10:17-22
This is the Dragon's purpose: to destroy all who serve the true God.
Because God has limited his time, his purpose will not be fully accomplished (Mat 24:22).
13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor,
free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
all- These six categories include the extremes of society, emphasizing universality.
mark- GK= charagma, mark, stamp, a thing graven.
It signifies ownership, as a brand identifies a slave or animal as belonging to its master.
This is a [[ Counterfeit Seal ]].
  • cf. the Lord's seal of the 144,000 (7:3,4).
  • cf. the Lord's seal of Church Age believers, identifying them with Him (and with His Name), as His own possessions (Eph 1:12-14; 2Tim 2:19).
to receive a mark...- "Receive" is an unusual translation of the GK word "didomai,"
which is almost always (365x out of 413x) translated "to give." This is the only place where it is translated "receive." (Of the ten occurrences in Rev ch.13 alone, the word is translated "to give" seven times. In two places, the KJV reading "he had power" is literally "power was given to him".)
     Therefore, in the margin of many Bibles (at v.16), this alternate reading is suggested: "Causeth... to give (them) a mark..." In Rev 14:9, the word "receive" is GK= lambano (to receive). So, there is no question that each person will be pressured to receive the mark. However, here, the sense may be that in order to participate in commerce, a person must 'give' (ie., present) his mark of identification with the system.
13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark,
or
{ie., either} the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
the name of the beast...- A 'name' {GK=onoma} is that by which a person or thing is known.
The 'name' of an individual may be his personal 'moniker' or 'given name' (eg., Peter, John, etc.). But often, a 'name' represents a person's reputation, authority, and character (cp. word usage in vs. 1,6).
the number of his name- Identity with (or) ownership by the beast is in view.
The mark identifies the individual who bears it as a worshipper of the beast. 14:11; 15:2
no man might buy or sell- Those who refuse to worship/serve the beast,
will be cut out of the economic system & denied the ability to make a living.
Everyone must weigh the costs: cp. Rev 14:9-11; 20:4; Mat 4:8-10; 10:32-39
13:18 Here is {the} wisdom. (cp. Dan 2:20-23,30; 12:10; 1Cor 2:13)
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
let him count {GK= psephizo, calculate, compute} the number {GK= arithmos, the reckoned result}-
Since this is in the imperative (a command), attempts to calculate the beast's name should not be quickly disregarded. Yet, they must be considered with caution to avoid mere presumption.
for it is the number of a man;
and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six.
In some MSS (including the Textus Receptus) this number is represented
by three Greek characters χ ξ ς (chi, xi, sigma) and could be represented as "666" (the three characters bearing their respective values in the Greek numeric system: six hundred, sixty, six). In other MSS, the number is written out with words as "Six hundred, Sixty, Six" (hexakosioi hexekonta hex).
The letters of ancient alphabets (including Hebrew & Greek) also served as number symbols.
Sometimes, the numeric values were assigned according to the order in the alphabet (eg., a=1, b=2, c=3, etc.). Sometimes, specific characters had generally accepted numeric value (eg., Roman numerals). However, the biblical text does not tell us which alpha-numeric encoding system is to be utilized. Although the usual assumption is one or both of the biblical languages (ie., Greek and/or Hebrew), there are other possibilities (eg., computer ascii codes).
     By adding the numeric values of the letters in a name, its number could be calculated. (Kabbalist Jewish scholars call this practice 'Gematria.') In the course of the Church Age, various men have been speculatively identified as the Beast in this way. Examples include Nero Caesar (when written in Hebrew characters), Mohammed (in an unusual variation of the name, written in Greek characters), Hitler, and many others.
     Preterist interpreters, who view Revelation as historic rather than prophetic, think John used this number as a coded reference to Nero, or the Roman empire. Some futurist interpreters think Nero will be resurrected as the Beast. However, 'the man of sin' has not yet been identified by the number of his name. His identity will be clear to "the wise" of that future day. But it is possible that the number's significance is in another form.
it is the number of 'a man' {or, the number of 'man'}-
     As described above, the number 666 is traditionally seen as related to the personal name by which the beast may be identified. However, it is possible that the primary significance of this number pertains to identifying "a man" (any individual) as belonging to the beast and his system.
     The mark which incorporates this number will be required for economic participation (v.17). It seems obvious, to we who live at the end of the age, that this mark will almost certainly take the form of a computer readable identification (eg., imprinted barcode, implanted microchip, etc.) which provides access to the system. In our day of electronic banking, credit cards, and computer databases of personal information, it is not hard to imagine how a malicious dictator could establish his total economic control over the world, while convincing its citizens that compliance was necessary for their peace and security (eg., to combat financial fraud, identity theft, terrorism, pandemics, etc.).
     Would you be surprised to know that the UPC barcodes which are scanned when you purchase your groceries (and almost everything else), utilize the numeral 6 three times (encoded as a binary number in two thin vertical lines, which mark the beginning, middle and end of the code)? These 'guard bars' are intended to ensure that the full code is read accurately. There may be nothing sinister in the choice of these digits to enhance computer accuracy and security. However, their presence provides a strong hint that the basic infra-structure, of the beast's system, is already in place. It will be a small step to label people like soup cans. Those who receive 'the mark of the beast' will be identifying themselves with him, his system, his blasphemy and his worship.
the number of 'man' {The GK text has no indefinite article.}
In Scripture, the number "six" is often associated with man, man's work or man's glory (eg. Ex 20:9,10; Lev 25:3,4; Deu 5:13,14; 1Sam 17:4; Dan 3:1). Man, made in the image of God, falls short of God's perfection. Perfection or completeness are often symbolically represented by the number 7 (eg., Gen 2:2,3; 4:15; 7:2,3; Psa 12:6; Mat 18:21,22; Rev 1:4; 5:5,6; 15:1).
     Thus, '666' suggests the unholy trinity. In contrast, the Holy Trinity, consisting of 3 Perfect Persons, could be shown as '777'.
     It is interesting to note that computer languages are built around a binary code, where an octal digit (consisting of three binary 'bits') represents a value from 0 to 7. Most internet servers run on Linux operating systems, where every file and directory (folder) bears a nine bit (three digit) 'permissions' code, which designates the allowed level of access for various categories of users. Access can be completely denied (0), or limited to 'read' (4), or 'read and write' (6). On an information only website, a visitor might be restricted to read only. While on a commercial website, he would be given permission to read and write (eg., to fill out an order form, or enter a method of payment). But the visitor would be prohibited from 'executing' a program on the server (to prevent malicious activity). Of course, the system administrator may be granted full permission (7,7,7, referred to as 'the God code'). But for all others, the highest permission level is 6,6,6.
     So, when you do business online, your activities are already governed by this number.
     Today's computer codes are suggestive of the 'mark of the beast', and may well play their part in its implementation. However, the primary significance of that physical mark will be spiritual, for it will signify allegiance to, and faith in, the unholy trinity. Yet, the arm of flesh, even when enhanced by Satan's power, will fail you.
     God has given men permission to 'read and write' their boastful agendas, but not to execute their godless purposes. However, God will accomplish His purposes completely. Pro 19:21; 21:30; Isa 14:24-27, where 'the Assyrian' refers to the future Antichrist; Isa 46:9,10
Who will you serve? to whom do you belong? - Josh 24:15; 1Kin 18:21; Joh 6:67-70


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