Revelation’s Dragon is the Roman Empire.


This article identifies one of the main characters in the Book of Revelation; the Great Red Dragon, who gives power and authority to the Beast of Revelation. 

In the Book of Revelation, there are three beasts that each have seven heads and ten horns:

      • The Great Red Dragon (Rev 12:3),
      • The Beast that comes up from the Sea (the Sea Beast), (It is the mark of this Sea Beast that people will receive on their foreheads in the end-time. Rev 13:1, 16-17), and
      • The Scarlet Beast, on which the harlot sits (Rev 17:3).

Perhaps the Image of the Beast (Rev 13:15), since it is an image of the Sea Beast, also has seven heads and ten horns.

Given their strange appearances, they cannot be literal beasts. Since they all have seven heads and ten horns, they must be related. Since they are different beasts, they represent different things. This article series explains what these beasts are and how they relate. The purpose of the current article is specifically to identify the Dragon.


For the following reasons, Revelation’s seven-headed beasts are more detailed explanations of the series of animals in Daniel 7:

1. A General Principle

It is a general principle that later prophecies explain and expand on earlier prophecies.

Daniel 2 is the base prophecy. Daniel 7 explains it in more detail. Daniel 8 and Daniel 11 provide still further details. Since the Book of Revelation is grounded in Daniel’s prophecies, and given this general principle, Revelation’s beasts provide even further detail of the empires symbolized in Daniel. In other words, Revelation’s beasts are part of the empires in Daniel.

2. The same number of heads and horns

The animals in Daniel 7 have the same number of heads and horns as the beasts in Revelation. While the four animals in Daniel 7 have, in TOTAL, 7 heads and 10 horns, Revelation’s beasts EACH have 7 heads and 10 horns:

Daniel 7 uses four ferocious beasts as symbols for successive empires:

      • Lion (Dan 7:4)
      • Bear (Dan 7:5)
      • Leopard with four heads (Dan 7:6)
      • Dragonlike Beast, “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong,” with 10 horns (Dan 7:7)

Horns – While the first three animals in Daniel 7 do not have horns, the fourth animal “had ten horns” (Dan 7:7). Revelation’s beasts also have 10 horns each.

The 10 horns in Daniel 7 is explained as that, “out of this kingdom ten kings will arise” (Dan 7:24). This is interpreted as that, while each of the first three empires will be replaced by one single empire, the fourth empire (identified in a previous article as the Roman Empire, see here) will fragment into “ten kings” (kingdoms). The number “ten” is possibly not exactly literal. (cf. Dan 1:20)

Heads – While the other three animals have one head each, Daniel’s third animal, the Leopard, has four heads (Dan 7:6). So, Daniel’s four animals have seven heads in total, equal to the number of heads of each of the beasts in Revelation.

Not the same heads and horns – This does not mean that the heads in Daniel symbolize the same things as the heads in Revelation. Neither are the horns in Revelation the same as the horns in Daniel. For example, Daniel’s fourth animal actually has 11 horns (Dan 7:8), and the 11th is the main character of Daniel. There is no such 11th horn in Revelation. See here for more differences between Daniel’s and Revelation’s heads and horns.

But the similarity does mean that Revelation’s beasts are:

      • Related to Daniel’s animals.
      • The same types of things as Daniel’s animals, namely kingdoms or nations (cf. Rev 17:9-12).
      • Part of the series of animals, heads, and horns in Daniel 7. 

3. Exist at the same time.

Both the animals in Daniel and the beasts in Revelation cover the entire Christan Age; from before Christ’s first advent until His Return.

Daniel 7 covers the entire Christian age. The animals cover the time from the ancient Babylonian to the Roman Empires:

Daniel 7 uses four ferocious beasts as symbols for successive empires, from the Babylonian to the Roman Empires (see here):

      • Lion (Dan 7:4) = Babylonian
      • Bear (Dan 7:5) = Medo-Persian
      • Leopard with four heads (Dan 7:6) = Grecian (Macedonian) Empire of Alexander the Great
      • Dragonlike Beast, “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” (Dan 7:7) = Roman Empire

The 11th horn, which grows out of the Roman Empire, then continues to exist until Christ returns (Dan 7:26-27).

The prophecy of Daniel 2 confirms that the 11th horn will exist until Christ returns (see here). While Daniel 7 describes the four animal-kingdoms as four separate entities, Daniel 2 combines them into a single symbol; the image of a man, containing four metals. Different body parts represent the successive kingdoms. The head of the man is the first (the Babylonian empire). The feet, described as a “divided kingdom” (Dan 2:41) are parallel to the horns that grow out of Daniel’s fourth animal, including the 11th horn. Then the entire ‘man’ is destroyed when Christ returns (Dan 2:44).

Revelation’s three seven-headed beasts exist at the same time as Daniel’s animals because they cover the period from before Christ’s birth (Rev 12:5) to His Return (Rev 19:11-20).

4. The Sea Beast looks like Daniel’s animals.

Revelation’s Sea Beast is described as having the appearance of a leopard, bear, and lion. These are the first three animals in Daniel 7. Furthermore, the Sea Beast receives its power, authority, and throne from a ‘dragon’, an apt description of Daniel’s fourth animal. This means that it inherited characteristics from each of those kingdoms.

Revelation’s Sea Beast “was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev 13:2). These are the four beasts in Daniel 7.

Compared to Daniel 7, they are mentioned in reverse sequence, probably because the leopard (the Greek Empire) is the most recent ancestor of the Sea Beast.

This description means that the Sea Beast inherits something from each of the four beasts of Daniel 7, confirming the concept in Daniel 2 that these four kingdoms are different phases of the same thing.


For these reasons, Revelation’s seven-headed beasts provide further information about the empires and kingdoms in Daniel 7. Therefore, the articles on Daniel 7 (available here) form the foundation for interpreting Revelation’s seven-headed beasts.


For the following reasons, Revelation’s Dragon symbolizes the Roman Empire:

1. It rules in the time of Jesus.

When it is first described, it waits for Jesus, ready to kill Him. But it fails, for Jesus was caught up to God (Rev 12:3-5). Since it symbolizes an earthly empire, and since Jesus walked this earth when the Romans reigned, it symbolizes the Roman Empire.

Great Red Dragon

When the Dragon is first described in Revelation, it stands before the woman, ready to devour her Child (that is, Jesus – see Rev 12:4) as soon as He is born. Here, it is described as having 7 heads and 10 horns (Rev 12:3). Since heads and horns represent “kings” (cf. Rev 17:9-10, 12) and since “kings” symbolize earthly kingdoms (Dan 7:17, 23), the Dragon symbolizes the earthly kingdoms through which Satan works. In the context of Jesus’ life on earth (Rev 12:5), the Dragon represents the specific earthly empire when Jesus walked this earth – the Roman Empire.

2. It is the fourth animal of Daniel 7.

A previous article identified Daniel’s fourth animal as the Roman Empire. This section shows that the Dragon is the same as that fourth animal. Therefore, it also symbolizes the Roman Empire:

The description of the birth of the Beast (Rev 13:1-2) reveals the Dragon as the fourth animal in Daniel 7:

It is part of the series of kingdoms in Daniel.

Firstly, the Dragon is part of the series of kingdoms in Daniel 7 because it has 7 heads and 10 horns (Rev 12:3), the same number of heads and horns as the animals of Daniel 7 have in total.

Specifically, it is equivalent to the fourth animal.

Secondly, more specifically, the Dragon is the fourth animal in Daniel 7 because:

(a) It is mentioned together with the first three animals of Daniel 7 (the lion, bear, and leopard):

The Sea Beast receives something from each of four animals (Rev 13:2). It receives its appearance from the first three of the four animals in Daniel 7, the lion, bear, and leopard (Rev 13:2; Dan 7:3, 5, 6) but receives “his power and his throne and great authority” from the Dragon (Rev 13:2).

(c) ‘Dragon’ is a good name for the fourth animal of Daniel 7:

Daniel 7 does not say what kind of animal the fourth animal is but describes it as “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong, and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet” (Dan 7:7). Sounds like a dragon.

(d) Like Daniel’s fourth animal, it creates the Antichrist:

Both the 11th horn of Daniel 7 and Revelation’s Sea Beast are described as the Antichrist, God’s main enemy on earth, cursing God and persecuting His people (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:6-8). Furthermore, both will only be destroyed when Christ returns (Dan 7:26-27; Rev 19:20). Therefore, they are one and the same entity.

We further notice that both the Dragon and Daniel’s fourth beast create this Antichrist:

            • In Daniel, the 11th horn grows out of the fourth animal.
            • In Revelation, the Dragon gives the Sea Beast its throne, power, and authority.

Therefore, the Revelation’s Dragon and Daniel’s fourth animal are one and the same.

For that reason, since a previous article identified Daniel’s fourth animal as the Roman Empire (see here), the Dragon symbolizes the Roman Empire.


In Revelation 12, in the context of the war in heaven, the Dragon is explicitly identified as Satan (Rev 12:7-9; cf. 20:2). That seems to contradict the conclusion above. But that is because Revelation 12 uses ‘Dragon’ as a symbol for Satan’s powers in a series of different wars with different participants.

The series of wars in Rev 12 begins before the birth of Christ and ends with the end-time persecution of God’s people. In every one of those wars, that chapter uses “dragon” as a symbol for Satan’s forces:

(A) First, the Dragon confronts the woman who is about to give birth to Christ (Rev 12:3-4). This woman here symbolizes God’s people before Christ’s birth.

(B) Once her Child is born, the Dragon attacks the Child but the Child is “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5).

(C) After the Child has been caught up, war breaks out in heaven between the Dragon and his angels, and Michael and his angels (Rev 12:7).

(D) After the Dragon has been defeated in heaven and thrown down to earth, it again attacks the woman (Rev 12:13-14, 6). She now represents God’s New Testament people. (Verses 6 and 14 describe the same period; the “time and times and half a time”. See here.)

(E) After the Earth has helped the woman (Rev 12:16), the Dragon “went off to make war with the rest of her children” (Rev 12:17). This refers to the end-time war against God’s people.

Therefore, in Rev 12, ‘Dragon’ does not always signify the Roman Empire.

For example, during the “time and times and half a time” (Rev 12:14) referred to in (D) above, “Dragon” signifies Satan’s forces. However, the “time and times and half a time” is the same as the 42 months during which the Sea Beast has authority (Rev 13:5). In other words, during this period, “Dragon” serves as an alternative symbol for the Sea Beast and does not represent the Roman Empire.

Similarly, in the war in heaven, the Drogan cannot signify the Roman Empire.

While Revelation 12 describes a series of wars, always using ‘Dragon’ as the symbol for Satan’s forces, Revelation 13 describes some of those same wars in more detail, more specifically analyzing Satan’s forces between the Dragon, the Sea Beast, the Earth Beast (Rev 13:11), and the Image of the Beast (Rev 13:15).

Revelation 13:1-2, which describes the birth of the Sea Beast, distinguishes between the Dragon and the Beast so that the Dragon now specifically symbolizes the Roman Empire and the Beast the organization that continued the authority of the Roman Empire after it had fragmented into various nations. See – the next article.

But when the Dragon is described in Rev 12:3 as having 7 heads and 10 horns, it represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan works.

In Revelation, as in Daniel, heads and horns, heads and horns symbolize the kingdoms of the world (Rev 17:9-12).



  • 1
    The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the same as the beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire; it is not Antiochus Epiphanes.
  • 2
    Discussion of the prophecy and the four main interpretations
  • 3
    Critical scholars teach that Daniel was written after the events it claims to predict.
  • 4
    The ultimate purpose of this website is to explain the mark of the beast.
  • 5
    Does Revelation describe events chronologically? Must it be interpreted literally? The temple in heaven, Christ’s Return, Hear/See Combinations, and the Numbers in Revelation
  • 6
    There was a book in heaven that not even Christ was able to read because it was sealed up with seven seals. But, by overcoming, He became worthy to break the seven seals and open the book.
  • 7
    This is the apex of Revelation, providing an overview of history from before Christ until the end-time, with emphasis on the end-time persecution.
  • 8
    These plagues will follow after the end-time Christian persecution and will be followed by Christ’s return. What is the purpose of these?
  • 9
    Revelation has three beasts with seven heads and ten horns each; a great red dragon, the beast from the sea, and a scarlet beast.
  • 10
    Babylon is mentioned only once in the first 15 chapters but the seventh and final plague targets her specifically. Then Revelation 17 and 18 explain who and what she is.
  • 11
    The conclusion that Jesus is ‘God’ forms the basis of the Trinity Doctrine.
  • 12
    The decision to adopt the Trinity doctrine was not taken by the church.
  • 13
    Including Modalism, Eastern Orthodoxy view of the Trinity, Elohim, and Eternal Generation
  • 14
    Discussions of the Atonement – How does God do away with sin?
  • 15
    How people are put right with God
  • 16
    Must Christians observe the Law of Moses?
  • 17
    Must Christians observe the Sabbath?
  • 18
    Are the dead still alive and aware?
  • 19
    Will the lost be tormented in hell for all eternity?
  • 20
    And why does God not make an end to all evil?
  • 21
    Key events that transformed the church into an independent religion
  • 22
    When? How? Has His return been delayed?
  • 23
    I do not have any formal theological qualifications and I am not part of any religious organization. These articles are the result of my studies over many years.

The Beast’s fatal wound is its sixth head. (Rev 13:3-4)


John saw a Beast coming out of the sea. It had “ten horns and seven heads” (Rev 13:1). One of his seven heads was “as if it had been slain,” for it had a “fatal wound” (Rev 13:3). In other words, the other six heads were still alive. The purpose of this article is to explain what this fatal wound is and which of the seven heads was dead.


The Beast continues the Roman Empire.

The Sea Beast received its authority from the Dragon (Rev 13:2). Previous articles identified these two beasts:

In the context of Revelation 13:2, the Dragon is identified as the fourth animal in Daniel 7, which was identified as the Roman Empire.

The Sea Beast has been identified as the 11th horn of that fourth animal, symbolizing a world power that:

        • Came into existence after the Roman Empire fragmented into many kingdoms,
        • Inherited the authority of the Roman Empire (cf. Rev 13:2), and
        • Therefore, became more powerful than the kingdoms in the territory previously ruled by the Roman Empire (Dan 7:20).

The Fatal Wound killed the Beast.

A “fatal wound” is a wound that kills. In other words, the Beast was dead. Therefore, when the wound is healed, it is said that the Beast “has come to life” (Rev 13:12, 14). That same expression is also used for Christ’s resurrection (Rev 2:8) and the resurrection of God’s people when Christ returns (Rev 20:4).

It was only a temporary death.

But the entire Beast did not die; only “one of his heads” was “slain” with this fatal wound (Rev 13:3).

Since the seven heads exist one after the other (Rev 17:9-10), the seven heads symbolize the seven phases of the Beast’s existence. So, the death of one of its heads is the death of the whole Beast but only for a time.

The whole world worshiped the Beast.

“The whole earth … worshiped the beast” (Rev 13:3-4). This does not mean that the world thought that the Beast is God or a god. The Greek word that is translated as “worshiped” (proskuneó) simply means to bow down before a superior. In the current verse, people proskuneó the Beast as a mighty king, for they say:

“Who is like the beast, and who is able
to wage war with him?” (Rev 13:4)

For a discussion of proskuneó, see – Why do we worship Jesus?

They also “worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast” (Rev 13:4). Since the Dragon symbolizes the Roman Empire, and since the Sea Beast came into existence after the Roman Empire fragmented, that empire no longer existed when the Beast received its fatal wound. But, by worshiping (showing respect to) the Sea Beast, which is the continuation of the authority of the Dragon (Rev 13:2), the people indirectly ‘worship’ the Roman Empire.


The Scarlet Beast on which the harlot sits, as described in Revelation 17, provides a different perspective of the same Beast-power. This section interprets the Fatal Wound by showing that Revelation 17 describes and explains that same Fatal Wound as well as the healing of that wound. Revelation 17 explains what that Fatal Wound is and which of the seven heads is dead.

Describes the Beast as incapacitated.

The following indicates that, at the point in history described by Revelation 17, the Scarlet Beast has been incapacitated:

Is not – The Beast “is not” (Rev 17:8). In other words, in some sense, at this time, the Beast does not exist.

Wilderness – In Revelation 12, the pure woman was in the wilderness (Rev 12:6, 14), symbolizing circumstances in which it is difficult to survive. But, in Revelation 17, it is the Beast’s turn to be in the “wilderness” (Rev 17:3).

Abyss – The Beast is in the “abyss” (Rev 17:8), which symbolizes incapacity (Rev 20:3).

Diadems – In contrast to the Dragon and the Sea Beast, the Scarlet Beast has no diadems (ruler crowns) (Rev 12:3; 13:1; 17:3), implying that it does not rule.

So, in Revelation 17, the Beast is suffering, weakened, and unable to rule. In that sense, it “is not.”

This is the Fatal Wound of Revelation 13.

For the following reasons, this incapacity is the same as the fatal wound:

Firstly, for the Beast to be in an incapacitated condition must be a strange condition. Since two different chapters of Revelation describe this condition, they likely describe the same weak period.

Secondly, both the fatal wound and the abyss symbolize the inability to persecute God’s people (Rev 20:3):

For the Sea Beast to be alive means to blaspheme God and to persecute God’s people (Rev 13:5-7; cf. Dan 7:25). Therefore, for it to be dead (to have a fatal wound) means being unable to persecute.

To be in the abyss also means the inability to persecute. For example, Satan is bound in the abyss “so that he would not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev 20:3). And after the Beast comes up from the abyss, it immediately proceeds to persecute God’s witnesses (Rev 11:7, 3). In Revelation 17, it is the harlot Babylon who kills God’s people (Rev 17:6), but she does it through the beast.

Also describes the same healing of the Wound.

Further evidence that Revelation 17 describes the same fatal wound as 13:3 is that it describes the same healing of the wound as in Revelation 13. Revelation 17 predicts that the Beast will come up out of the abyss (Rev 17:8). The following confirms that its escape from the abyss is the healing of the wound in Rev 13:

After the Sea Beast’s “fatal wound was healed … the whole earth was amazed and followed after the Beast” (Rev 13:3).

After the Scarlet Beast has “come up out of the abyss … those who dwell on the earth … will wonder when they see the Beast” (Rev 17:8).

Note the similarities:

      1. In both, the whole world adores the Beast.
      2. “Amazed” and “wonder” are similar.
      3. In both chapters, the Beast is exalted after its recovery.
      4. And, perhaps most strikingly, in both, those who adore the Beast are described as “everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life” (Rev 13:8; 17:8).

For these reasons, the two chapters describe the same period of incapacity, symbolized by the Beast’s fatal wound in Revelation 13 and by the Beast being in the abyss in Revelation 17.


The Fatal Wound is the Sixth Head.

Revelation 17 explains the Beast and its heads by referring to the past, the present, and the future:

The Beast (Rev 17:8) Heads (Rev 17:10)
Past Was Five have fallen.”
Present Is not and is in the abyss “One is.” This would be the sixth head.
Future Will “come up out of the abyss.” The whole world will “wonder when they see the beast.” “The other” (the seventh) “has not yet come.”


The sixth head is the phase during which the Beast is in the abyss, which is the head with the fatal wound.

The seventh head follows after the fatal wound has been healed, and the entire world follows after the Beast (Rev 13:4).

The entire sixth head is dead. The sixth head or phase begins when the Beast-power is killed and ends when “his fatal wound was healed” (Rev 13:3, 12). This is confirmed by the fact that we never read that the head with the mortal wound comes to life; it is always the Beast that becomes alive (Rev 13:14).

When in history is the Sixth Head?

This article does not identify the period in history of the sixth head. To identify it, one needs to identify all seven heads. This is done in other articles on this website. See:

Many commentators assume that the ‘present time’ in Revelation 17 must refer to John’s own time because he had to understand what he was told. But that would mean that the Beast was dead in John’s time, which most certainly was not the case. At that time, the authorities were very able to persecute Christians.

My view is that, when the angel “carried” John “into a wilderness” (Rev 17:3), he took John not to a specific place but to a specific time in history. And since he carried Joh away, he carried John to a different time.