Revelation 13:1-2 – The Beast is the successor of the beasts of Daniel 7.

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

THIS BEAST IS DIFFICULT TO DRAW, BUT THIS DRAWING IS CORRECT IN SHOWING THE SEVENTH HEAD AS MUCH BIGGER THAN THE OTHERS AND BY PUTTING ALL TEN HORNS ON THIS HEAD.

This article discusses Revelation 13:1-2. Revelation 12 described a series of wars in which the dragon was involved; from before the birth of Christ to the end-time. That chapter ends with another defeat for the dragon, forcing him to “go away” (Rev 12:17). In Rev 13:1, it stands on the sand of the seashore, waiting for the beast to come up out of the sea.

The sea represents the population of the world. That it comes out of the sea means that it is a formation of the peoples of the world. 

SUCCESSOR OF THE BEASTS OF DANIEL 7

Daniel 7 describes four beasts coming out of the sea, representing four empires that will rule the world; identified as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.  For the following reasons, the beast in Revelation 13 is a successor of those four empires:

      • Like them, the beast comes out of the sea.
      • The beast has seven heads and ten horns. This equal the total number of heads and horns among the four beasts of Daniel 7.
      • The beast looks like a leopard, has feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion (Rev 13:2). These are explicitly three of the four beasts of Daniel 7; Babylon, Persia, and Greece.

This means that the beast is part of the series of beasts in Daniel 7.

The dragon also has seven heads and ten horns. That means that both beasts are part of the series of beasts in Daniel 7.

SUCCESSOR OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

But different from the dragon, the beast has crowns on its horns while the dragon has crowns on his heads. Since, in Daniel 7, the horns follow in time after the beasts:

The crowns on the horns of the sea beast mean that we are now in the time of the horns of Daniel 7. In other words, the beast is one of the horns of Daniel’s fourth beast.

The crowns on the heads of the dragon imply that it is one of the four beasts of Daniel 7.

The beast receives his power and his throne and great authority from the dragon. In other words, it is the successor of the dragon:

This article shows that the dragon is the fourth beast of Daniel 7.  The articles on Daniel 7 have shown that that fourth beast is the Roman Empire.

That the sea beast receives “his power his throne and great authority” from the Roman Empire means that the sea beast is the real descendant or successor of the Roman Empire.

NEXT: Revelation 13:3-4 – The fatal wound

– END OF SUMMARY –

13:1 – THE BEAST’S HEADS

And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea,
having ten horns and seven heads,
and on his horns were ten diadems,
and on his heads were blasphemous names.

As is typical in Revelation, when a new character is introduced, it is first described visually. Thereafter, his actions are described. Revelation 13:1-2 offers a physical and visual description of the beast from the sea.

And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.

In traditional translations, such as the King James Version, Rev 13:1 says “And I stood upon the sand of the sea.” In this reading, John himself stands on the sand of the sea. In contrast, in modern translations, the dragon stands on the sand of the sea. The reason for this difference is that the earliest manuscripts of Revelation read “he,” which would refer to the dragon mentioned in the previous verse (Rev 12:17). The reading “I” (John) is most common in the later manuscripts from the Middle Ages.

Another reason why “the dragon” is preferred is that the “dragon” reading fits the story-line better:

In Revelation 13, the dragon, the sea beast, and the land beast work together. If it is the dragon that stands on the sand of the sea, then it “goes away” (Rev 12:17) to the shore of the sea to secure reinforcements to enable it “to make war with the rest of her children” (12:17). From the vantage point of the “seashore,” the dragon is joined by a beast from the sea (Rev 13:1) and a beast from the earth (Rev 13:11).

If it is John that stands on the seashore, then the link between the dragon and the two new creatures is less obvious.

Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea

Sea – Beasts also come out of the sea in Daniel 7. In that vision, the sea represents the people of the world (Rev 7:2, 17). In other words, the beasts are formations of the people of the world. This implies that the sea in Revelation also represents the peoples of the world.

Come up – To come up out of the sea means to come into existence; it is the birth of the sea beast.

Having ten horns and seven heads

Before John describes the beast’s body in verse 2, he first describes the horns and heads in the current verse. Perhaps he saw the heads and horns first, as the beast rose from the sea.

The previous section noted that beasts come out of the sea in both Daniel 7 and Revelation. The ten horns and seven heads are a second link to Daniel 7, for the seven heads and ten horns of the sea beast equal the total number of heads and horns among the four beasts of Daniel 7:

      • The leopard of Daniel 7:5 has four heads while the other three each have one; seven in total.
      • The fourth beast of Daniel 7:7 has ten horns, while the other three have none.

This similarity cannot be a coincidence. The seven heads and ten horns of the beast from the sea indicate that the sea beast contains within itself the history and characteristics of all four beasts in Daniel 7. It means that the sea beast is part of the series of beasts in Daniel 7.

The dragon, in Rev 12:3, also has ten horns and seven heads. One can say that the dragon and the beast are two instances of a new species. But what it means is that both beasts are part of the series of beasts in Daniel 7. This will become clearer as we read on.

But it does NOT mean that the seven heads in Revelation are the same as the seven heads in Daniel or that the ten horns in Revelation are the same as the ten horns in Daniel.

IMAGE OF THE DRAGON

Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). In other words, we would know His Father’s character by looking at Jesus. In the same way, because they look the same, if we have seen the beast, we have seen the dragon. Since the dragon represents Satan in the primary sense (Rev 12:9), the beast from the sea represents an earthly power that exhibits Satan’s character.

And on his horns were ten diadems

“Diadems” are the untranslated Greek word, meaning crowns of rulers, in contrast to the victory crowns of the Olympics [stephanoi].

One difference between the dragon and the sea beast is that the dragon has diadems on its heads (Rev 12:3) while the sea beast has diadems on its horns. The reason is that the sea beast exists later than the dragon. To explain:

In Daniel 7, four beasts come up from the sea; one after the other. They symbolize four successive empires that would rule the entire world; identified as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The fourth beast (the Roman Empire) has ten horns. These horns symbolize the kingdoms into which that empire fragmented (Dan 7:24).

The crowns on the horns of the beast implies that it exists during the time of the horns of Daniel 7. More specifically, in implies that the sea beast is one of the horns of Daniel’s fourth beast.

Since horns grow on heads, meaning that heads exist before the horns, the crowns on the heads of the dragon imply that it is one of the four beasts of Daniel 7.

And on his heads were blasphemous names

In Revelation 17 we see another beast that has seven heads and ten horns (Rev 17:3) and there we learn that the heads are successive (Rev 17:9-10). The seven heads of the beast, therefore, are seven consecutive phases of the beast’s existence.

The blasphemous name on each head of the sea beast is compounded in Revelation 17 where the beast is described as “full of the names of blasphemy” (Rev 17:3).

The ultimate definition of blasphemy in the Bible is found in John 10:33, where some Jewish leaders are ready to stone Jesus for blasphemy. They said, “You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” A blasphemous name could, therefore, mean to demean God, but it can also mean to assert a right to His place, to claim the prerogatives of God and equality with Him.

Since the beast is part of the series of beasts of Daniel 7, and since those beasts include empires such as the Roman Empire, it seems as if this blasphemy is to demean God.

13:2 – THE BEAST’S BODY

And the beast which I saw 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.

Verse 1 described the beast’s heads. Now Verse 2 describes its body. 

Beast … like a leopard,
feet … like … a bear,
mouth like … a lion.

Daniel 7 refers explicitly to these three animals as the first three beasts that came up out of the sea in Daniel 7. A comparison of the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies these beasts as follows:

      • The first was a winged lion (Dan 7:4), which also was an ancient symbol for Babylon, so represented on gates built by King Nebuchadnezzar himself.
      • The second was a bear that was raised up on one side with three ribs in its mouth (Dan 7:5), representing the kingdom of Medo-Persia.
      • The third beast, a four-headed leopard (Dan 7:6), represented Alexander the Great’s Grecian Empire.

This is a third indication that the sea beast is part of the series of beasts in Daniel 7.

These three beasts are mentioned in reverse order; possibly because the sea beast exists later. From the time perspective of the sea beast, looking back in history, we see these beasts in that sequence.

The dragon gave him his power his throne and great authority.

Power … throne and great authority” are related terms and perhaps are three ways of saying the same thing.

The sea beast, therefore, receives things from four beasts:

      • A body from the leopard (Greece);
      • Feet from like the bear (Medo-Persia);
      • A mouth from the lion (Babylon) and
      • Authority from the dragon.

This means that the sea beast is a composite of all four beasts of Daniel 7. Since the sea beast receives something from each of these four beasts, it is the successor of all the powers that went before it.

THE DRAGON IS THE ROMAN EMPIRE.

There is a fourth beast in Daniel 7. However, that vision does not name it 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).

For the following reasons, the dragon in Rev 13:2 is the fourth beast of Daniel 7:

Firstly, in Rev 13:2, the sea beast receives something from each of four beasts. Since three of the four are explicitly beasts of Daniel 7, it implies that the fourth is the fourth beast of Daniel. 

Secondly, “dragon” sounds like a good name for the fourth “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” beast.

The comparison of the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies the fourth beast in Daniel 7 as the Roman Empire. This means that the dragon in Rev 13:2 is also the Roman Empire.

This dragon (the Roman Empire) “gave him (the sea beast) his power his throne and great authority” (Rev 13:2). This not only means that the power represented by the sea beast exists later than the Roman Empire, but also that it is the real descendant or successor or even the continuation of the Roman Empire.

WHY IS THE DRAGON IDENTIFIED AS SATAN?

But if the dragon is the Roman Empire, why does 12:9 identity the dragon explicitly as Satan (Rev 12:9)? The answer is that Revelation 12 uses “dragon” as a symbol for a range of Satan’s forces during a series of wars. In Revelation 12, the “dragon” wars against:

      • The woman, before the time of Christ (Rev 12:4);
      • Christ, after He was born (Rev 12:5);
      • Michael, in the war in heaven, after Christ ascended to God and to His throne (Rev 12:7-13).
      • The woman again, after the dragon is thrown out of heaven (Rev 12:14-16), and lastly
      • It will “make war with the rest of her children” (Rev 12:17).

These wars cover a broad sweep of history from before Christ to the end of time. In all these wars Revelation 12 identifies Satan’s forces as “the dragon,” but Revelation 13 will make clear that Satan’s forces take different forms at different times. In the context of the war in heaven (Rev 12:7-12), the dragon is identified as Satan (Rev 12:9), but when it stands ready to devour Christ as soon as He is born (Rev 12:3-4), it has seven heads and ten horns, and both the heads and horns represent kings (or kingdoms – Rev 17:9-10, 12). In that context, it is the Roman Empire.

BEASTS ARE HEADS.

As already stated, the seven heads are consecutive (Rev 17:9-10) and, therefore, symbolize seven phases of the beast-power.  

The dragon, identified above as the Roman Empire, is described in Rev 12:3 as having seven heads. The sea beast, identified above as the real successor of the Roman Empire, also has seven heads. These must be the same seven heads or phases of the beast.  What is going on? This can be understood as follows:

Actually, there is no beast. All that we have are seven phases. Each time that we see a beast with seven heads, we see one of those phases.

On this basis:

The dragon and the sea beasts are two of the phases of the beast-power. When the sea beast comes out of the sea (Rev 13:1), it is one of the phases of the beast-power that is born. 

Since the vision in Rev 13:1-2 is based on Daniel 7, Greece, Medo-Persia, and Babylon are three of the other heads (phases) of the beast.

So far, we have identified five of the seven heads or phases:

      1. Babylon
      2. Medo-Persia;
      3. Greece;
      4. Roman Empire – dragon
      5. Sea beast

For identification of the seven heads, see the article – Seven Heads Identified. For identification of the sea beast, the reader may refer to the series of articles on the history of the church, for example:

GROUNDED ON DANIEL 7

In summary, as discussed above, the visual description of the sea beast in Rev 13:1-2 is grounded on the general background of Daniel 7’s four beasts:

Firstly, there are various verbal parallels between the Sea Beast and Daniel 7, for in both we find beasts with many heads and many horns.

Secondly, there are also thematic parallels, namely beasts coming up out of the sea that represent earthly powers.

Thirdly the sea beast receives something from each of the four beasts of Daniel 7.

Fourthly, the seven heads and ten horns of the sea beast equal the total number of heads and horns among the four beasts of Daniel 7.

So, the beast from the sea contains within itself the history and characteristics of all four beasts in Daniel 7. To use other words, the images of Revelation 13:1-2 suggest that Daniel 7 is a listing of the beast’s family tree. That family tree includes all the powers that came before it; Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.