Revelation 13:3-4 – The beast’s fatal wound was healed.

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

The previous article (on Revelation 13:1-2) concluded that the dragon is the same as the fourth beast of Daniel 7, which is a symbol for the Roman Empire. That article also concluded that the beast from the sea is an organization formed by the peoples of the world that is a successor of and part of the series of beasts in Daniel 7.  More specifically, the sea beast is the real descendant or successor of the Roman Empire.

The current article discusses the healing of the fatal wound in Revelation 13:3-4. The huge following which the beast enjoys in 13:3-4 is the consequence of that healing.

THE DEADLY WOUND IS THE SIXTH HEAD.

Verse 3 indicates that it is not the entire beast that is killed but only “one of his heads.” However, the seven heads are the seven phases of the beast. For that reason, the death of one head is also the death of the entire beast – for a period of time. In other words, there will be a time when the beast-power will be dead.

Revelation 17 reveals that the period of death is the sixth head. The beast is dead during the entire sixth head. The fifth phase comes to an end when the beast-power is killed and the seventh and final head or phase starts when the fatal wound is healed. The seven heads, therefore, are:

      1. Babylon
      2. Medo-Persia;
      3. Greece;
      4. Dragon (Roman Empire)
      5. Sea beast
      6. Sea beast dead, i.e. unable to persecute God’s people.
      7. Sea beast resurrected

All three chapters 12, 13, and 17 of Revelation mention the weak period for the dragon’s forces. Revelation 13 and 17 describe events as in the past and the future. This is always relative to this weak period; the sixth head.

THE WORSHIP IN 13:4 IS THE END-TIME WAR.

Revelation 12:17 mentions that the dragon goes away to prepare for the end-time war. The last part of Revelation 13 describes that war as AN IMAGE OF THE BEAST that kills God’s people. To enable us to understand what its image is, the first part of Revelation 13 takes us back in time and explains who and what the beast is. The current verses (13:3-4) are part of that explanation and emphasize the adulation which the beast power will receive in that final war; after its wound has been healed.

Based on the verb tenses, Jon Paulien proposes that 13:3-4 describe the actions of the sea beast before the time of 12:17. Consequently, in his view, Revelation 13:4 and 13:8 describe two different periods of worldwide worship and adulation of the beast: 13:3-4 occurs before 12:17 while 13:8 is the end-time crisis mentioned in 12:17.

However, the similarity of the language in 13:4 and 13:8 implies that it is the same event. I propose that the switch from the past tense in the first seven verses to the future tense in verse 8 does not make a distinction between past and future events, but between the function of these verses:

      • Revelation 13:1-7 is an interruption of the sequence of events to introduce and identify the sea beast.
      • The future tense in verse 8 serves to separate this verse from the previous 7 and to indicate that verse 8 continues the action where it is left off in 12:17.

– END OF SUMMARY –

13:3 HEALING OF THE FATAL WOUND

I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain,
and his fatal wound was healed.
And the whole earth was amazed
and followed after the beast

Verse 1 discusses the heads of the beast. Verse 2 explains the body. Now, in verse 3, the heads are in view again.

THE BEAST WILL BE DEAD FOR A PERIOD OF TIME.

This is not simply a serious wound but a fatal wound, which means it is a wound that kills.

Verse 3 indicates that it is not the entire beast that is killed; it is only “one of his heads” that was “slain.” However, the seven heads are consecutive rather than contemporary with each other (17:8-11). The seven heads, therefore, are seven phases of the beast. For that reason, the death of one head is also the death of the whole beast for a period of time. Consistent with that concept, according to verses 12 and 14, the entire beast died. In other words, this passage predicts that there will be a period of time when the entire beast-power will be dead.

Revelation 13:14 says that the beast “came back to life.” The same expression is used for the resurrection of God’s people at the beginning of the thousand years (20:4). This confirms that the deadly wound of this verse is a wound unto death and that the healing is, in fact, a resurrection.

THE PERIOD OF DEATH IS THE SIXTH HEAD.

We see this same period of death in Revelation 17. The beast is dead at the point in time to which the angel took John (17:3), as indicated by the following:

      • The beast “is not” (17:8).
      • The beast is in the “wilderness” (17:3), which means it survives only with difficulty (cf. 12:6, 14).
      • The beast is then also in the “abyss” (17:8), which means a state of inactivity (20:2).

In that time, while the beast “is not” (17:8), it is said of the seven heads that “one is” (17:10). This is the sixth head:

        • The seven heads are … seven kings;
        • five have fallen,
        • one is,
        • the other has not yet come” (17:9-10).

This means that the beast-power is dead during the sixth head or phase.

In both Revelation 13 and 17, the people of the world worship the beast after it recovers (13:4, 8; 17:8). This confirms:

      • That the period of the fatal wound in Revelation 13 is the same as the “is not” period in Revelation 17 and
      • That the subsequent worship period in both chapters is the same. 

THE ENTIRE SIXTH HEAD IS DEAD.

It is not that the sixth head is first alive and then dies and then comes to life again. Revelation 17 simply indicates that the beast is in the abyss during the sixth head. The implication is that the entire sixth head is dead. In other words:

      • The fifth phase comes to an end when the beast-power is killed.
      • Throughout the period of the sixth head, the beast remains dead.
      • The seventh and final head of phase starts when the fatal wound is healed and the beast comes back to life AS A NEW HEAD.

THE SEVEN HEADS IDENTIFIED

Building on the article on Revelation 13:1-2, we now have the seven heads:

      1. Babylon
      2. Medo-Persia;
      3. Greece;
      4. Dragon = Roman Empire
      5. Sea beast
      6. Sea beast dead / in wilderness (17:3) / in abyss (17:8) / is not (17:8)
      7. Sea beast worshiped after the fatal wound has been healed (13:4, 8; 17:8)

For a more systematic discussion of the heads, see the Seven Heads Identified.

DEAD MEANS UNABLE TO PERSECUTE.

Dead means to be unable to act (20:2). The primary functions of the beast are to blaspheme God and to persecute the saints (13:6-7; cf. Dan 7:25). To be dead means that the beast is unable to persecute those who do not accept His blaspheming doctrines and practices.

THE TIME PERSPECTIVE OF THESE PROPHECIES

In 12:17, the dragon is forced to go away to regroup for the end-time war. This is, in other words, a period of weakness for the dragon.

Revelation 13 describes that same period of weakness as a fatally wounded head. The worship of 13:8 is in the future tense, indicating that that follows after the weak period.

Several indicators, as listed above, show that Revelation 17 also describes events from the time perspective of the same weak period, which is the sixth head.

Both Revelation 13 and 17, therefore, describe events as in the past and the future.  The past and the future are always relative to the beast’s weak period as mentioned in 12:17. This implies that Revelation 12 is the foundation of the remainder of Revelation. That chapter starts a new story and the entire remainder of Revelation continues that story, but with flashbacks to explain new characters.

The whole earth was amazed
and followed after the beast

The text implies that this huge following which the beast enjoys is the consequence of the healing of the wound.

In Revelation 13, it is clear that the Antichrist figure has worldwide impact and influence, especially at the end (Rev 13:7-8, 14,16). No one will be excluded from the final test of true versus false worship. The Antichrist will enforce a global economic boycott (Rev 13:16-17) and a death decree against all who refuse to worship the image of the beast (Rev 13:15). To those who believe that the persecutions of the Middle Ages are forever gone, the future holds a big surprise.

THIS CONTINUES THE STORY FROM 12:17.

The story in Revelation 12 is more or less chronological. In 12:16, the earth helps the woman and the dragon suffers another defeat. Therefore, in 12:17, the dragon goes away to prepare for the end-time war against the rest of the woman’s children. The last part of Revelation 13 explains that Satan’s main agent in this final war will be the image of the beast:

The image of the beast would even speak
and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast
to be killed
” (13:15).

But, to understand what the image of the beast is, we need to know what the beast is. For that purpose, the first part of Revelation 13 explains who and what the beast is. It takes us back in time to describe the beast coming out of the sea, its deadly wound, and the healing of the wound. From the time perspective of 12:17, the wounding of the beast is a past event. But the healing of the wound, when “the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast,” is the end-time war mentioned in 12:17.

IS THE ADULATION of 13:4 BEFORE 12:17?

Revelation 13:1 introduces a new character; the beast from the sea. When a new character appears in Revelation for the first time, that character is first explained. It may then seem as if Revelation jumps back in time.

A good example is Babylon. She is mentioned in the seventh and last plague at the end of Revelation 16 and then Revelation uses two full chapters to explain who she is. The story-line of the seven plagues only continues at the beginning of chapter 19, where “a great multitude in heaven” praises God, “for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality” (19:1-2).

HEALING OF THE FATAL WOUND A PAST EVENT

Therefore, to put events in their correct chronological sequence, we must distinguish between such interruptions and the true chronological sequence of events. To do this, Jon Paulien proposes that 13:3-4 describe the actions of the sea beast before the time of 12:17. He argues that the main verbs in 13:1-7 are all in the past tense, compared to 13:8, which abruptly switches to the future tense. Paulien proposes that this indicates that 13:1-7 describes events before the end-time events of Revelation 12:17. Consequently, in his view:

      • The end-time crisis mentioned in 12:17 is only described in 13:8 and
      • Revelation 13:4 and 13:8 describe two different periods of worldwide worship and adulation of the beast; one before and one after 12:17.

HEALING OF THE FATAL WOUND A FUTURE EVENT

However, the similarity of the language in 13:4 and 13:8 implies that it is the same event. Furthermore, as Paulien himself remarked, the resurrection of the sea beast seems to be the defining moment that introduces the end-time battle into the narrative of chapter 13. Since the ‘resurrection’ (the healing) in mentioned in 13:3, the adulation of 13:4, which is the consequence of the healing, must describe the end-time crisis.

I, therefore, propose that the switch from the past tense in the first seven verses to the future tense in verse 8 does not make a distinction between past and future events, but between the function of these verses:

Revelation 13:1-7 is an interruption of the sequence of events to introduce and identify a new character—the sea beast—by means of its appearance and history, stating that it will have three phases; before, during, and after the deadly wound. 

This abrupt shift into the future tense in verse serves to separate this verse from the previous 7 and to indicate that verse 8 continues the action where it is left off in 12:17.

In this proposal, 13:4 and 13:8 refer to the same event; the very final conflict of earth’s history—after the healing of the wound—when the whole world will follow and ‘worship’ the beast.

13:4 WORSHIP THE BEAST

They worshiped the dragon
because he gave his authority to the beast;
and they worshiped the beast, saying,
“Who is like the beast,
and who is able to wage war with him?”

WORSHIP

This “worship” continues the description of the final and seventh phase; after the wound has been healed.  People worship the sea beast because of its startling resurrection, and they effectively worship the dragon because he is the power behind the beast: “The dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority” (13:2).

The word “worship” normally means that we worship God. But the Greek word translated “worship” (proskuneó) is defined by the NAS Exhaustive Concordance as “to do reverence to.” In Greek, it normally means to do reverence to a king or some other person in an exalted position. For more information, see the article, Jesus is worshiped.

In the current verse, “worship” can be understood as to regard the beast as the most powerful. As the people said: “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” (13:4) They do not believe in the Almighty. This is a title that, in the New Testament, is only used in Revelation, except for one quote from the Old Testament. For example:

I saw no temple in it,
for the Lord God the Almighty
and the Lamb are its temple
” (21:22)

In contrast, the three angels cry out “with a loud voice … worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (14:7). We can trust “the Lord God,” for He is Almighty:

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10:28)

DRAGON

The article on Revelation 13:1-2 identified the dragon in 13:2 as the Roman Empire, but in the current verse it may be more appropriate to understand the dragon as Satan, as he is identified in 12:9.

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