The beast in Revelation is the mainstream church of Christendom.

This is an article in the series on Revelation 13.  The purpose of the current article is to determine whether there is any power in history that fits the descriptions and timeline of the beast that comes out of the sea.

SUMMARY

THE BEAST AND THE HORN OF DANIEL 7

For the reasons below, the beast in the book of Revelation is another symbol for the world power that is symbolized by the evil horn in the Book of Daniel:

1. The beasts in Daniel 7 also come out of the sea.

2. In the description of the beast, Revelation explicitly mentions three of the beasts of Daniel 7.

3. The beast receives his authority from the dragon, and “dragon” is like a good name for the dreadful fourth beast in Daniel 7.

4. The beast in Revelation has the same number of heads and horns as the beasts of Daniel 7 have in total.

5. The 42 months of the beast are equal to the time, times and a half of the little horn.

6. The beast has crowns on its horns. This signals that it exists in the time of horns of the fourth beast.

7. In the book of Daniel, the evil horn is the successor of the Roman Empire, blasphemes God, persecutes His people, and is only destroyed when Christ returns. The book of Revelation says the same four things about the beast.

The evil horn of Daniel 7 and the sea beast, therefore, are two symbols for the same world power, namely the Antichrist: “You heard that antichrist is coming” (1 John 2:18). This is discussed further in the article on the Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation.

THE HORN IS THE CHURCH OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

The only reason that Daniel 7 mentions four beasts and eleven horns is to allow us to identify the evil eleventh horn.  That chapter lists several specific characteristics of this horn. This section considers five of those characteristics and, for the reasons below, identifies the little horn of Daniel 7 as the church of the middle ages:

1. The evil horn grew out of the Roman Empire. The church, similarly, was one of the divisions into which the Roman Empire fragmented.

2. The horn will blaspheme God by attempting “to make alterations in times and in law.” The church of Rome blasphemes God with doctrines and practices that insult God.

3. The evil horn will persecute God’s true people. The church engaged in brutal forms of coercion, such as the Inquisition, seeking to compel or exterminate the people who protest against its doctrines.

4. The little horn 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 Church in Rome.

5. The evil horn “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 the beast in Revelation is the dominating horn of Daniel 7 and since the horn is the church, the beast is the church of the middle ages.

THE BEAST IS THE CHURCH.

The previous section identified the beast by identifying the evil horn of Daniel. The current section identifies the beast based on what Revelation 13 itself says about it.

The fatal wound 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 before its ‘resurrection’. This may be applied as follows to the church:

1. The 42 months represent the many centuries during the middle ages when the church massacred people who did not accept its blaspheming doctrines and practices.

2. The authority of the church received a fatal wound through religious liberty in the time of the French revolution.

3. In the end-time, the wound will be healed (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 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 beast is a Christian organization, for it is a deliberate counterfeit of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus Christ, the beast:

      • 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 beast is a Christian organization are:

      • The beast specifically persecutes God’s people. Only a Christian organization is able to do that.
      • The beast works with a lamb-like beast. Revelation refers 28 times to Jesus as a lamb.
      • 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. 

The beast symbolizes the Antichrist in both the middle ages and the end-time, but that does not mean that the same organizations will be involved in both phases. Just like Revelation 12 uses “dragon” as a symbol for Satan’s forces in different forms at different times, the beast could symbolize Satan’s forces in different forms at different times. 

Furthermore, the religious oppression and intolerance of the Protestant Orthodoxy (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were disturbingly similar to the Catholic 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.

For these reasons, 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.

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.

– END OF SUMMARY – 

THE BEAST AND THE HORN OF DANIEL 7

It is, firstly, proposed that the beast from the sea in the book of Revelation and the evil horn in the Book of Daniel are two symbols for the Antichrist:

In Daniel 7, ten horns grow out of the fourth beast. After them, a little horn comes up that grows to become larger than the others and to speak proud words and blasphemies against the Most High (Dan 7:8, 24-25).

The indications that this evil horn and the beast are two symbols for the same world power are as follows:

ALLUSIONS TO DANIEL 7

The description of the beast in Revelation 13:1-2 contains several allusions to Daniel 7, such as:

      • The beasts in Daniel 7 also come out of the sea.
      • Three of the beasts of Daniel 7 are explicitly mentioned in the description of the beast, namely the leopard, bear, and lion.
      • The beast receives his authority from the dragon, and “dragon” is like a good name for the dreadful fourth beast in Daniel 7.
      • The beast has the same number of heads and horns as the beasts of Daniel 7 have in total.

These allusions indicate that the sea beast’s heritage is rooted in the series of beasts in Daniel 7. Specifically, the article on Revelation 13:1-2 concludes that the beast is the real successor of the fourth beast, and that fourth beast symbolizes the Roman Empire.

Later verses in Revelation 13 also allude to the little horn of Daniel 7:

The 42 months of the beast (Rev. 13:5) are equal to the time, times and a half of the little horn (Dan. 7:25).

Both the beast and the little horn persecute God’s people and blaspheme God (Rev. 13:5-8; Dan. 7:25).

Furthermore, the beast has crowns on its horns. This signals that it exists in the time of horns of the fourth beast, in contrast to the crowns on the heads of the dragon (12:3), which indicates that the dragon exists at an earlier time.

SUCCESSOR OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Furthermore, both the horn of Daniel and the beast in Revelation are the successor of the Roman Empire:

In Daniel, the dominating horn grows out of the fourth beast, which has been identified as the Roman Empire.

In Revelation, the beast receives its great authority from the dragon (13:2). The dragon, when it has seven heads and ten horns and stands ready to devour the Child Jesus (12:3-4), is the Roman Empire. (See the article on Revelation 13:1-2.) The beast is therefore also the successor of the Roman Empire.

THE ANTICHRIST

Further evidence that the horn in Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation are different symbols for the same entity is that both are described as the Antichrist:

The main power in Daniel 7 is the eleventh horn that grows out of the Roman Empire. The only reason that Daniel 7 mentions the four beasts and the other ten horns is to enable us to identify that eleventh horn. That horn grows out of the Roman Empire, blasphemes God and persecutes His people, and is only destroyed when Christ returns (Dan. 7:25-27).

Revelation, similarly, describes the beast as the main power that opposes God. In Revelation, it is THE Antichrist. For example, later we will see that the people of the world create an image of the beast and that they receive the mark of the beast. And, similar to the evil horn, the beast receives its authority from the Roman Empire, blasphemes God and persecutes His people, and is only destroyed when Christ returns (Rev. 19:11, 20).

CONCLUSION

These factors suggest that the evil horn of Daniel 7 and the sea beast (Rev. 13:1) are two symbols for the same thing. For a further discussion, see the article on the Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation.

The general principle is that the Book of Revelation is built on the foundation of the prophecies of Daniel. The same applies to this antichrist-horn. Revelation provides additional information about it, for example, that it exists through three phases: before, during, and after a fatal wound.

THE HORN IS THE CHURCH OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

This section discusses some of the marks of identity in Daniel 7 and identifies the little horn of Daniel 7 as the church of the middle ages. Since the previous section has shown that Revelation’s beast is the little horn of Daniel 7, that identifies the beast as the church of the middle ages.

FRAGMENT OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

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

Before Christianity was legalized in the year 313, religion was always regulated by the empire. The emperors used religion to promote the unity of the large number of nations that were part of the empire.

In the fourth-century Roman Empire, consistent with the status of religion in previous centuries, church and state were one. The church became a department of government, with the emperor the real head of the church. The series of articles on the history of the church, for example, shows that the religious preferences of the emperors determined the outcome of the major controversy of the early centuries and resulted in the acceptance of the Trinity doctrine.

After the Germanic tribes divided the territory of the Western Empire between themselves in the fifth century, the church in Rome remained protected and governed by the emperor.

After emperor Justinian destroyed Arian domination in the sixth century, the Roman emperors in Constantinople continued to dominate the church for two centuries, known as the Byzantine Papacy.

BLASPHEMY AND PERSECUTION

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 the beast’s law. Consequently, the beast persecutes them. In support of this, note the parallelism in Daniel 7:25:

BLASPHEMY PERSECUTION
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.

Considering the column on the left, the horn “will speak out against the Most Highby attempting “to make alterations in times and in law.” Moving to the column on the right, this parallelism implies that the consequence of these alterations will be that God’s true people will protest, with the result that the horn will persecute them.

Blasphemy – 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 with respect to salvation and indulgences, confession, and the veneration of people declared to be saints.

Persecution – “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.

THE BEAST IS THE CHURCH

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:

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 – 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” (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.

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“ (13:6) and “make war with the saints” (13:7).

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 (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 (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” (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 12:3, representing the Roman Empire.
      • Head 5 is the beast from the sea in 13:1; another symbol for Daniel’s evil horn – the Antichrist.
      • Head 6 is the scarlet beast in 17:3, which is in prison (the Abyss – 17:8). This is the fatal wound (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 (12:3);
      • In the war in heaven (12:7);
      • During the middle ages (12:14) and
      • In the end-time war (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 age 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 (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.

AVAILABLE ARTICLES ON REVELATION

INTRODUCTORY
   Why is the title of this website Revelation BY Jesus Christ?
   Are events described in chronological sequence? 
   Is a consistently literal interpretation appropriate?
   Does Revelation present Jesus as God?
   God’s throne – the center of the universe.
BABYLON
   Babylon; the mother of harlots – main article
   Babylon’s merchants are her false prophets.
   Babylon is not the reconstructed ancient city of Babylon.
   Babylon is the driving force behind the beast.
SEVEN-HEADED BEASTS
   The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation identified
   The three beasts are three of the seven heads.
   The Seven Heads identified
REVELATION 13
    13:1-2 – The Beast relates to Daniel 7.
   13:3-4 – The fatal wound
   The beast of Revelation is the Mainstream Church of Christendom.
SEVEN SEALS
   Introduction to the Seven Seals – What book is this?
   Seven seals explained
   Does the seventh seal include the seven trumpets?
SEVEN PLAGUES
   The Plagues of Revelation – 16 articles

For further reading, Jon Paulien’s commentary is recommended. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

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