[This is an excerpt from my book, Mankind’s Final 7 Years Before Christ Returns: A verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Revelation]
13 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a 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.
In the original Greek, it is difficult to understand whether it is John, or the dragon (from the previous verse), standing on the sand of the sea. Some translations have the dragon standing on the sand of the sea, which may make more sense as the next verse shows the dragon giving the beast his power and authority.
In the chronology of the seals, trumpets, and bowls, this is during the first four seals. John has stepped back, this time, to show Satan’s role during Daniel’s seventieth week.
Many people try to identify the beast-kingdom by looking for a coalition of ten nations. Their search is futile, however, because they misunderstand the composition of the beast. The beast-kingdom is a global government which will be comprised of four superpower governments, or beasts (Daniel 7:2-7), with four rulers (Daniel 7:17). One of the beasts, or world governments, is a coalition of four lesser governments or kingdoms (Daniel 7:6). This adds up to a total of seven governments or heads (Daniel 7:6; Revelation 17:9). One of the other four beasts, or government bodies, is diverse from the other three, and has ten kings without kingdoms (Daniel 7:7; Revelation 17:12). The Antichrist will uproot (not kill) three of these kings (Daniel 7:8, 20, 24) to become ruler of this fourth-part beast, and will eventually control the combined beast-kingdom.
The number 7 signifies complete authority on earth, and the number 10 signifies the law and completeness of order. Yet, we saw in Revelation 5:5-9, that Jesus will be in complete control. The beast will only have the authority which is given it (Revelation 13:7).
The seven heads also symbolize seven kings, or kingdoms, which come in consecutive order, with at least six of them now being past history (Revelation 17:10). The beast-kingdom is an eighth kingdom which will come from the seven (Revelation 17:11).
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.
This is a direct reference to the four beasts of Daniel 7, which will have combined their powers to form a one-world government. Many interpreters wrongly believe that the four beasts of Daniel 7 are four consecutive world governments that have existed in the past. Daniel 7:12, however, explicitly states that the first three, of the world powers, will still be in existence when the fourth is destroyed. Revelation 6:8 says that the kingdom of the Antichrist has power over a fourth of the earth. The Antichrist will, however, eventually control the entire beast-kingdom.
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.
Many people believe this is referring to the Antichrist, but that cannot be the case. God alone has the power to raise someone from the dead, and there is nothing in scripture that hints that He will resurrect the Antichrist. Also, the heads are kingdoms, or governments. The horns which have crowns, among which the Antichrist will arise, are kings “without kingdoms”. It is one of the seven governments, not a world leader, that will be wounded to death. In verse 14 we will learn that the head was killed by a sword. When the sword is used symbolically, in the Bible, it shows authority to discipline (see Romans 13:4). Also, note that it is the wound, not necessarily the head, that was healed.
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
It seems that, at this point, people will understand from where the power of the beast comes, and begin worshiping Satan directly. It is possible, however, that they will mistake the power of Satan for that of God.
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
This is the 1260 days (42×30) that the Antichrist is given authority. It will begin at, or near, the time of the abomination of desolation. (See- Daniel 7; Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15).
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
While the beast is the global government, the mouth appears to be the Antichrist (Daniel 7:8, 20; 11:36).
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
He will not have authority to make war with the saints until the two witnesses have finished their testimony (Revelation 11:7).
The ancient world kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome only had power over parts of Europe and Asia, or “the known world”. This one will have power over the entire earth.
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
In the Greek text, it is evident that “him” is speaking of both the beast-kingdom and the Antichrist. At this point, the Antichrist will represent the beast, and the beast will be the tool of the Antichrist. This is similar to Daniel 2:37, where King Nebuchadnezzar and the kingdom of Babylon are referred to as one and the same.
Those whose names have been written in the book of life (Christians and God-fearing Jews), will not be deceived by the beast and will not worship him. (See also- Revelation 17:8)
9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
We find this command in Isaiah 6:9-10, which basically says that only those who seek God will understand His word.
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 powerful verse, and should not be taken lightly. The King James translation is confusing, in that the phrase “he that leadeth into captivity” can also be translated “he that is destined for captivity”. This verse speaks of the fate of believers during the tribulation. Either we will go willingly to the death camps, or we will die physically resisting the beast-kingdom (Daniel 11:31-35).
Despite the fact that most believers will die during this time, we should not lose faith, because tribulation and death cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). We will conquer the beast by dying in our faith (Revelation 15:2). (See also- James 1:2-4; 5:7-8; Hebrews 10:36-39)
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
The phrase “and I beheld” indicates a change in scene, so it is likely that the second beast will appear at a time later than the first.
Many commentators believe that this beast is a singular person, but if the horns of the first beast were kings (Daniel 7:23-25), then, I think, the horns of the second beast must be also. So, this beast would be a coalition of two kings. And, since the ten horns of the first beast are “kings without kingdoms”, the two horns of the second beast could also be authority figures which belong to no certain government.
Speaking as a dragon shows that it will speak the words of Satan. It may appear meek and mild, like a lamb, but its words will betray it. Jesus said, in Matthew 7:15, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (See also- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
Those who believe that the two witnesses, from chapter 11, are two literal men, might be deceived by these two rulers who also can do miracles with fire (whether literally or symbolically). (See also- Revelation 19:20)
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; 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.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, Paul says “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
This beast exercises the power of the first beast (verse 12), while in the sight of it. This beast apparently has no power without the first beast.
The beast, for which the image is made, is the beast-kingdom, not the Antichrist. This verse clearly says that it is the beast that had the wound in the head. We saw, in verse 3, that the Antichrist is not a head, but a horn (see also Daniel 7:7-8).
The image is probably the abomination of desolation. (See also- Daniel 9:27; 11:31; Matthew 24:15)
15 And he had power 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.
Satan cannot create life, but can deceive people into believing the image has life. Revelation 19:20 says that those who receive the mark of the beast will be deceived.
Anyone who refuses to worship the beast or its image will be killed. But death is preferable to what will happen to those which do worship it (Revelation 14:9-12).
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:
Notice that it is the second beast which requires the mark of the beast-kingdom. To “cause all” to receive the mark, literally means that it is the author of the requirement. As we study Revelation, we see that not everyone receives the mark. The saints of God, as well as many unbelievers, will refuse.
17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
This verse says that the mark of the beast can be in one of three forms: as its symbol, as its name, or as the number of its name. It is possible for the mark to be either literal or symbolic. (See also- Deuteronomy 11:18; Revelation 14:11)
Notice that the number is the beast’s number. It will not be some form of personal identification number. The mark of the beast will symbolize allegiance to the beast, and show that the bearer worships the beast.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Remember that the beast is the global government, not the Antichrist. At this point, however, they represent each other, so this verse could be referring to either one.
Revelation 15:2 says that the number of the beast’s name will be conquered by Christian martyrdom.