Revelation’s Beast is the Church of the Roman Empire.

This is an article in the series on Revelation 13. The purpose is to identify the Beast that comes out of the Sea; the Sea Beast (Rev 13:1). A previous article has shown that the Sea Beast is the same as the evil 11th horn of the fourth animal in Daniel 7. The purpose of the current article is to identify it more specifically. The ultimate purpose of this series is to identify the Mark of the Beast. This article assumes that the articles on Daniel 7 and Revelation 13:1-4 have been read. See the list of articles below.

The current article identifies that as the Church of the Roman Empire, meaning, the church that the Roman Empire, in the person of Emperor Theodosius, in the fourth century established as the state religion of the Roman Empire, which that Empire thereafter has protected for several centuries, and which was the remnant of that empire after it had fragmented into many parts. One specific manifestation of that ‘Roman Church’ was the church of the Middle Ages, which continued the principles of the Roman Empire, killing countless numbers of God’s people. That church no longer exists as one single organization but its principles and practices are found in many denominations.

SUMMARY

The Beast identified from Daniel 7

The only reason that Daniel 7 mentions the four animals and the other ten horns is to allow us to identify that evil 11th horn. Daniel 7 lists several specific characteristics of this horn. This section considers five of them and, for the reasons below, identifies it as the Church of the Roman Empire:

The 11th Horn Church of the Roman Empire
1 Grew out of the Roman Empire. Was one of the divisions into which the Roman Empire fragmented.
2 Blasphemes God by attempting “to make alterations in times and in law.” Blasphemes God with doctrines and practices that insult God.
3 Persecutes God’s true people. Engaged in brutal forms of coercion, such as the Inquisition, seeking to compel or exterminate the people who resisted its practices and doctrines.
4 Uprooted three of the others as it came up. In the sixth century, Justinian uprooted three of the Arian Christian nations that previously dominated the ‘Roman Church’.
5 “Was larger in appearance than its associates.” During the High Middle Ages, the church became dominant over the other kingdoms that arose from the Roman Empire.

Since Revelation’s Beast is the 11th horn of Daniel 7, and since that horn symbolizes ‘the Roman Church’, Revelation’s Beast symbolizes the state religion of the Roman Empire.

The Beast identified from Revelation 13

The previous section identified the Sea Beast by identifying Daniel’s evil horn. The current section identifies it based on what Revelation 13 itself says about it.

The fatal wound and resurrection of the Sea Beast suggest that this world power would have a period of great authority for “42 months,” followed by a period of death before its ‘resurrection’. This may be applied as follows to the ‘Roman Church’:

1. The 42 months represent the many centuries during the Middle Ages when it massacred people who did not accept its blaspheming doctrines and practices.

2. Its authority received a fatal wound through religious liberty and the separation of church and state in the time of the French Revolution.

3. In the end-time, the wound will be healed (Rev 13:3) when an image of the beast (a copy of the system during the Middle Ages) will be set up which will again kill its opponents.

A further indication – that the beast is the ‘church’ – is that the Sea Beast is not just a political power; it is also a religious power, for it “blaspheme His name and His tabernacle“and “make war with the saints.”

More specifically, the Sea Beast is a Christian organization, for it is a deliberate counterfeit of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus Christ, it:

      • Receives its authority,
      • Looks like one from which it receives its authority, and
      • Has a ministry that lasts three and a half years, followed by a death and a resurrection.

Other indications that the Sea Beast is a Christian organization are:

      • It specifically persecutes God’s people. Only a Christian organization is able to do that.
      • It uses a lamb-like beast as its agent. Revelation refers 28 times to Jesus as a lamb.
      • The Bible predicts in various places that the church would become corrupted.

The End-time Antichrist

The Sea Beast is not ‘personally’ involved in the end-time. Just like it received its authority from the Dragon (Rev 13:2), which symbolizes the Roman Empire, the Sea Beast gives its authority to its end-time assistant; the Beast from the Earth (Rev 13:12). The Earth Beast then convinces the people of the world to make an Image of the Sea Beast (Rev 13:14), which is an end-time organization in the likeness of the Sea Beast. In other words, it is an end-time organization that functions on the principles of the church in the Middle Ages. It is this ‘Image’ that persecutes and kills God’s end-time people (Rev 13:15).

The religious oppression and intolerance of the Protestant Orthodoxy (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were disturbingly similar to the Church in the High Middle Ages. The Holocaust and similar more recent religious cruelties make it clear that today’s version of institutional Christianity is not significantly improved over that of the Middle Ages. The end-time Antichrist is not any of the specific organizations that exist today, but an application of the principles of the church of the Middle Ages. Whenever we see persecution and killing of people for their religious convictions, whatever form that persecution takes, then we must know that the principles of the Roman Empire are at work, for God never uses force.

– END OF SUMMARY – 


PREVIOUS CONCLUSIONS

The Beast is the remnant of the Roman Empire.

Daniel 7

In Daniel 7, ten horns grow out of the fourth animal. After them, a little horn comes up that becomes larger than the rest. This 11th horn is the Antichrist because, different from the others, it explicitly opposes God. It blasphemes the Most High and persecutes His people (Dan 7:8, 24-25).

For clarity, this article reserves the term “Beast” for the Beast in Revelation 13:1 and refers to the creatures of Daniel 7 as animals.

Revelation 13

In Revelation 13, a Beast comes up from the Sea and receives its authority, throne, and power from a Dragon (Rev 13:1-2). A previous article identified the Dragon as the fourth animal in Daniel 7, which has been identified as the Roman Empire. A further article has identified the Sea Beast as the 11th horn growing out of that fourth animal. Therefore:

Firstly, since the Sea Beast receives its authority from the Dragon, and since the Dragon symbolizes the Roman Empire, the Sea Beast receives its authority from the Roman Empire.

Secondly, since the Sea Beast is one of the horns that grow out of Daniel’s fourth animal, it is one of the kingdoms into which the Roman Empire fragmented about 500 years after Christ.

Thirdly, more specifically, since the Sea Beast is Daniel’s evil 11th horn, it is the remaining fragment of the Roman Empire after it has already fragmented into 10 parts.

THE ROMAN CHURCH

To identify the Sea Beast more specifically, this section identifies the Horn of Daniel 7, and therefore the Sea Beast, as the Church of the Roman Empire, referred to here as the Roman Church but not referring to any specific present-day organization. This identification is based on the marks of identity found in the book of Daniel: 

1. It is a fragment of the Roman Empire.

Firstly, as stated above, the evil horn grew out of the Roman Empire. The church, similarly, was one of the divisions into which the Roman Empire fragmented:

A major task of the Roman Emperors was to ensure the unity of the Empire, which consisted of a multitude of nations. The sword was one means of maintaining unity but religion was another. The emperors, therefore, always governed religion. They decided which religions were legal and they managed the legal religions closely.

Therefore, after Constantine legalized Christianity in the year 313, church and state became one. The modern concept of a distinction between church and state did not exist. The church became a department of government, with the emperor as the real head of the church 1“Simonetti remarks that the Emperor was in fact the head of the church.” Hanson RPC, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381. 1988, p849 and the ultimate authority in disputes about church doctrine, 2“If we ask the question, what was considered to constitute the ultimate authority in doctrine during the period reviewed in these pages, there can be only one answer. The will of the Emperor was the final authority.” Hanson RPC, p849 much like the king of England is still today the head of the Church of England. The so-called “ecumenical councils of the fourth century were the means by which the emperors governed the empire. 3“The general council was the very invention and creation of the Emperor. General councils, or councils aspiring to be general, were the children of imperial policy and the Emperor was expected to dominate and control them.” Hanson RPC, page 855

In the year 380, Emperor Theodosius made the Trinitarian version of Christianity, which, at the time, was a minority in the Church, the only legal religion in the Empire and ruthlessly persecuted all opposition. In this way, Trinitarian Christianity became the State Religion of the Roman Empire, referred to here as the ‘Roman Church’.

In the fifth century, Germanic tribes, which had migrated into the territory of the Roman Empire over the previous century or more, gained control over the Western Empire and it between themselves. Although these tribes were so-called ‘Arian’ and, in theory, should opposed the Trinitarian ‘Roman Church’, the ‘Roman Church’ flourished in the West because these Germanic people regarded themselves as part of the Roman Empire and respected the Roman Church as part of that empire. (See – Fifth Century) The Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire was the guardian of the ‘Roman Church’ and these Germanic tribes sought his approval.

In the sixth century, the Eastern Emperor Justinian, seeking to free the ‘Roman Church’ in the West from Arian domination, sent troops that significantly weakened the Germanic tribes in the West. Over the subsequent two centuries, the Eastern Roman emperors, reigning from Constantinople, continued to rule the nations in the West THROUGH the ‘Roman Church’. This period is known as the Byzantine Papacy. The ‘Roman Church’ functioned clearly as an important part of the Roman Empire. See – Byzantine Papacy.

2. It blasphemes and persecutes.

The horn of Daniel 7 will blaspheme God and persecute His people. These two things are related: It blasphemes God by disregarding God’s Law and through teachings and practices that insult God. God’s true people protest and refuse to submit to its law. Consequently, it persecutes them. In support of this, note the parallelism in Daniel 7:25:

Blaspheme Persecute
He will speak out against the Most High  and wear down the saints of the Highest One
and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

According to the column on the left, the horn “will speak out against the Most High” by attempting “to make alterations in times and in law.” According to the column on the right, the consequence will be that God’s true people will protest, with the result that the horn will persecute them.

Blaspheme – The church in Rome blasphemed God by developing doctrines and practices that insult God. It gradually deviated from biblical truth in multiple areas, for example, deviations in Christology eventually resulting in Mariology. Other examples include false teachings concerning salvation and indulgences, confession, and the veneration of people declared to be saints.

Persecute – “He will … wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan 7:25). As a clear mark of its identity, the church of the Middle Ages engaged in brutal forms of coercion, such as the Inquisition, seeking to compel or exterminate the true people of God who dared to stand up against these evil innovations. It killed and massacred God’s people. For example, see the massacres of the Waldensians. In so doing it had drifted far from the spirit of Jesus, as recognized by such medieval “saints” as Francis of Assisi, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Eberhard of Salzburg.

Other Identifications

The little horn uprooted three of the others as it came up (Dan 7:8; 20, 24). In the sixth century, Justinian uprooted three of the Arian Christian nations that previously dominated the Church in Rome. This allowed the papacy to become a dominant force in the territory of the previous Western Roman Empire.

The evil horn “was larger in appearance than its associates” (Dan 7:20). During the High Middle Ages, the church became dominant over the other kingdoms that arose out of the Roman Empire.

In this section, we argued that the dominant horn of Daniel 7 is the church of the Middle Ages. We only discussed four indicators:

      • Fragment of the Roman Empire;
      • Blasphemy & Persecution;
      • Uprooted three; and
      • Larger than the others.

A series of articles is available on this website that discusses the history of the church. Some of these articles have been referenced above. That series discusses all marks of identity provided in Daniel 7 to identify the church of Rome as the only historical entity that fits both the timing and the characteristics of the 11th horn of Daniel 7.

Evidence from Revelation

The previous section discussed evidence from Daniel 7. The current section identifies the beast as the church based on marks of identity in Revelation 13 itself:

1. 42 Months, followed by Death and Resurrection

The death and resurrection of the beast suggest that the world power, of which the beast is a symbol, would have a period of great authority for “42 months,” followed by a period of death (the fatal wound – Rev 13:5) before its ‘resurrection’ (“his fatal wound was healed” – 13:5). Then the beast would play a major role in the final conflict in the history of this world.

The nature of Revelation, with things such as beasts with seven heads and ten horns, that are worshiped by the people of the world, implies that time indications are also symbolic. For example, the ten horns are ten kings that reign “for one hour” (Rev 17:12). This must be symbolic for a much longer period than one literal hour, but still a short period; perhaps only some months. Compared to one literal hour, 42 literal months (3½ years) is a very, very long time.

It is, therefore, quite possible that the 42 months represent the many centuries during which the mainstream church of the Middle Ages in the most horrendous ways massacred people who did not accept its blaspheming doctrines and practices.

The authority of the church received a fatal wound through religious liberty in the time of Napoleon and the French revolution. Today, the church is not able to kill God’s people as it did during the Middle Ages. The mainstream church, therefore, also had a long period of dominance, followed by a period of death; the fatal wound.

Revelation predicts that, in the end-time, an image of the beast (a copy of the system during the Middle Ages) will be set up which will again kill its opponents.

2. Religious Power

The beast is not just a political power like ancient Babylon and Rome but, like the church of the Middle Ages, it is also a religious power, for it “blaspheme His name and His tabernacle“ (Rev 13:6) and “make war with the saints” (Rev 13:7).

3. Christian Organization

More specifically, the beast, like the church of the Middle Ages, is a Christian organization. Firstly, it is a deliberate counterfeit of Jesus Christ:

It looks like the dragon because it has the same number of heads and horns and gets its authority from the dragon (Rev 13:2). This mirrors the relationship of Jesus with His Father because Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) and because the Father has given Jesus “all authority … in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18).

Like Jesus, the beast has a ministry that lasts three and a half years, followed by a death and a resurrection.

Secondly, the beast specifically persecutes God’s people. That only a Christian organization is able to do, for God’s people are identified by their protest against unbiblical doctrines and practices in the church.

Thirdly, the beast works with a lamb-like beast (Rev 13:11-12). Revelation refers 28 times to Jesus as a lamb. This is the only instance in Revelation where “lamb” does not refer to Jesus. The lamb-like beast looks like Jesus but “spoke as a dragon” (Rev 13:11).

The beast is something dragon-like that has a Christian face! It names Jesus as its reason for existence, yet its actions serve the dragon!

Other Bible Evidence

Revelation is not alone in such a prediction. There are numerous other texts in the New Testament that forecast a similar future for the church, though in less dramatic terms. For example:

“The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1; cf. Acts 20:28-31; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 1 John 2:18-19).

In summary, so far, the main sections of this article have argued as follows:

        1. Revelation’s beast and daniel’s horn are two different symbols for the same world power – the Antichrist.
        2. That horn is the church of the Middle Ages. Therefore the beast is the same.
        3. Revelation itself identified the beast as a Christian organization.
        4. Various other Bible texts predict that the church would become corrupted.

The End-time Antichrist

Given that the beast represents the church of the Middle Ages, the question in this section is about the identity of the Antichrist in the end-time war.

Each beast is a head.

To discuss the seventh head, we first need to review the phases of the beast. As previously argued, each beast is one of the heads (phases) of the beast-power. According to the article on the Seven Heads:

      • The first four heads are the four beasts of Daniel 7. The fourth beast is the Roman Empire, represented in Revelation 12:3 as a dragon.
      • The last three heads are the three phases of the beast (the 11th horn); before, during, and after the fatal wound.

In other words:

      • Head 4 is the dragon in Rev 12:3, representing the Roman Empire.
      • Head 5 is the beast from the sea in Rev 13:1; another symbol for Daniel’s evil horn – the Antichrist.
      • Head 6 is the scarlet beast in Rev 17:3, which is in prison (the Abyss – Rev 17:8). This is the fatal wound (Rev 13:3).
      • Head 7 is the beast after its resurrection.

Indications of Dissimilarity

The beast, therefore, is the Antichrist in both the fifth and seventh phases, but that does not mean that the same organizations will be involved in both phases. For example, in Revelation 12, the dragon symbolizes Satan’s forces in different forms at different times:

      • At the time of Christ (Rev 12:3);
      • In the war in heaven (Rev 12:7);
      • During the Middle Ages (Rev 12:14) and
      • In the end-time war (Rev 12:17).

In the same way, the beast is a symbol for Satan’s forces in different forms at different times. Just like the Babylonian Empire was the first of the seven heads but very different from the church of the Middle Ages, the final phase (head) of the beast, when the fatal wound is healed, may again be very different from the church of the Middle Ages. We should, therefore, not necessarily expect the same organizations to be involved in the end-time crisis. That beast of the fifth phase was the mainstream church of the Middle Ages does not mean that beast of the seventh phase is the Catholic Church.

Indications of Similarity

On the other hand, Daniel and Revelation indicate a significant continuity between the Middle Ages and the end-time, because:

      • The evil horn of Daniel 7 is the Antichrist in both eras, and
      • In the end-time war:
        • The sea beast will be resurrected, and
        • An “image” of the beast will be set up (Rev 13:14).

The question then, given these indications of similarity and dissimilarity, is how to define the beast.

Mainstream Church of Christendom

History teaches that the mainstream church of Christendom in the Middle Ages brutally persecuted and executed believers who dared to stand up to its doctrines and practices, but the mainstream churches of our day will act similarly. The religious oppression and intolerance of the Protestant Orthodoxy (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were disturbingly similar. For example; the role which Calvin played in the murder of Michael Servetus. Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Holocaust make it clear that today’s version of institutional Christianity is not significantly improved over that of the Middle Ages.

To make provision for both the indications of similarity and dissimilarity, I propose that we define the beast as the mainstream church of Christendom. That definition would allow it to be represented by different organizations at different times.

God never uses force.

As we continue to read Revelation 13, we will see further indications of the form which the beast will assume during the final crisis of this world’s history. However, whenever we see persecution and killing of people for their religious convictions, then we must know that the spirit of Satan is at work, for God never uses force. If God used forced, He would not have allowed evil to develop. But He created us with the wonderful ability to make our own choices. He protects our freedom, for if He would override our freedom to choose against Him, He would be destroying the miracle which He has created.

God knows the future.

Is it also not wonderful to be reassured that God know the future? The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were given thousands of years ago and, according to the interpretation above, correctly predicted events over these centuries. But, for that reason, God shrouded these predictions in symbolic language so that only people that want to believe, will believe. The others will hear but not hear, see but not see”

“None of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand” (Dan 12:10).

Final Conclusions

The beast of Revelation is the mainstream church of Christendom. This is based on the following:

 – The beast of Revelation is another symbol for the world power (the Antichrist) that is symbolized by the evil horn in the Book of Daniel.
 – The evil horn of Daniel is the church of the Middle Ages.
 – Consequently the beast in Revelation is a symbol for the church of the Middle Ages.

Further evidence of this is that the description of the beast in Revelation 13 identifies it as the church; both during the Middle Ages and in the end-time (after the fatal wound has been healed).

More specifically, the description of the beast in Revelation 13 identifies it as a Christian organization.

Consequently, the beast symbolizes the Antichrist in both the Middle Ages and in the end-time, but different organizations may be involved in the two phases. In the end-time, the beast could take the form of the Protestant Orthodoxy.

Other Articles

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    “Simonetti remarks that the Emperor was in fact the head of the church.” Hanson RPC, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381. 1988, p849
  • 2
    “If we ask the question, what was considered to constitute the ultimate authority in doctrine during the period reviewed in these pages, there can be only one answer. The will of the Emperor was the final authority.” Hanson RPC, p849
  • 3
    “The general council was the very invention and creation of the Emperor. General councils, or councils aspiring to be general, were the children of imperial policy and the Emperor was expected to dominate and control them.” Hanson RPC, page 855

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