In Revelation, there are three beasts that each has seven heads and ten horns. They are identified in the article titled, The Seven-Headed Beasts (the reader is advised to read that article before this one):
The Great Red Dragon that stands before the woman, ready to devour Christ as soon as He was born (Rev. 12:3-4), symbolizes the Roman Empire.
The beast that comes up out of the sea (Rev. 13:1)—referred to in this article as the Sea Beast, is another symbol for the 11th horn that grows out of the Roman Empire. It suffers a deadly wound, but recovers (13:3) to become Satan’s mastermind in the end-time. It is this beast whose mark the people receive in the end-time (13:17).
The Scarlet Beast, on which the harlot sits, symbolizes the political systems of the world that always are controlled by false religion (Rev. 17:3).
The purpose of the current article is to show that the seven heads are seven phases of man’s existence on earth and that each seven-headed beast is one of the heads and, therefore, one of the seven phases.
The seven heads are explained as “seven kings” that reign one after the other. But a “king,” in prophetic symbolism, represents a “kingdom,” consisting of a series of kings. Furthermore, Daniel 7 also refers to four “kings,” but they are interpreted as four empires, such as the Roman Empire, each consisting of a large number of kingdoms. The heads, therefore, are seven successive world empires.
Since the three beasts all have exactly seven heads, they have the same seven heads. One might picture the beasts as a single beast with seven different heads and three different bodies.
Each beast, actually, is one of the heads. This statement is justified as follows:
Firstly, 17:11 explicitly states that “the beast … is one of the seven” heads. This refers specifically to the Scarlet Beast but, by implication, this principle also applies to the other beasts. 17:10 identifies the scarlet beast as the sixth head.
Secondly, the seven heads represent different phases of human history. But the seven-headed beasts are also different phases of human history.
Thirdly, when one of the heads receives a fatal wound, we are told that one of the beasts receives the wound. This also implies that this beast is one of the heads.
Fourthly, the various body parts of the image in the prophecy in Daniel 2 are equivalent to the seven heads because they symbolize world empires that exist one after the other. But these body parts also symbolize different beasts in Revelation.
– END OF SUMMARY –
Revelation 17 explains the heads:
“Here is the mind which has wisdom.
The seven heads are seven mountains
on which the woman sits,
and they are seven kings;
five have fallen,
the other has not yet come;
and when he comes, he must remain a little while“
(Rev 17:9-10 NASB).
The words, “Here is the mind which has wisdom” warn us that these verses are difficult to understand. When asked about this, Jesus explained that He spoke in parables so that those who do not want to believe, will not understand (Mark 4:10-12). Nevertheless, to understand this article will require some serious concentration.
SEVEN SUCCESSIVE WORLD EMPIRES
The seven heads are explained in 17:9-10 as “seven kings.” From the time perspective of Revelation 17, “five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come” (17:9-10). They reign, therefore, one after the other.
In normal usage, the term “king,” refers to one person but in prophetic symbolism, a king represents a “kingdom,” consisting of a series of kings,” for example:
Daniel referred to the person Nebuchadnezzar as the “head of gold” but explained that another “kingdom” would follow after him (Dan 2:37ff). In other words, Nebuchadnezzar stood for his entire empire.
In Daniel 7:17 and 23, the four beasts are first identified as “kings” but later explained as “kingdoms.”
Furthermore, Daniel 7 interprets the four “kings” as four empires, such as the Roman Empire, each consisting of a large number of kingdoms that are ruled over by a single emperor. The heads, therefore, are seven successive world empires.
SHARE THE SAME SEVEN HEADS
Since each of the three beasts has exactly seven heads and ten horns, the heads of the three beasts symbolize the same seven “kings” or kingdoms. The beasts share the same seven heads. Similarly, the ten horns of the three beasts are the same ten “kings.” There are not 3×7 different head-kings or 3×10 different horn-kings.
The head is the main body part of an animal. If you have an animal with two heads, is it not really two animals? Think about the two-headed giant in Jack and the Beanstalk. It has two different personalities. In Revelation, the beasts each have seven heads. They are, therefore, really seven different beasts with seven different personalities. What really matters are the heads; not the beasts.
One might, therefore, symbolically, visualize the beasts as a single beast with seven different heads and three different bodies.
In the article The Seven-Headed Beasts, this similarity is explained as that the three beasts belong to the same species, particularly the same species as the beasts of Daniel 7. However, the seven heads and ten horns have specific meanings, as are explained in this article series.
EACH BEAST IS ONE HEAD.
As already noted, there are three beasts in Revelation that each has exactly seven heads and that these heads represent seven successive phases of human history. In this section, we motivate that each beast is, actually, one of the heads. This is based on the following observations:
- Firstly, 17:11 explicitly states that “the beast … is one of the seven” heads.
- Secondly, both the seven heads and the seven-headed beasts represent different phases of human history.
- Thirdly, when one of the heads receives a fatal wound, we are told that one of the beasts receives the wound.
- Fourthly, the different body parts (metal kingdoms) in the Daniel 2 vision are both the heads of Revelation’s beasts and different beasts in Revelation.
These points will now be explained in more detail:
THE BEAST IS ONE OF THE SEVEN.
“The beast … is one of the seven” heads (17:11).
This refers specifically to the Scarlet Beast. It both has seven heads and is one of the heads. By implication, the same principle applies to the other beasts.
The previous verse stated, concerning the seven heads, that “five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come” (17:10). The implication is that the scarlet beast is the sixth head. That would mean that the Dragon and Sea Beast are some of the other heads.
PHASES OF HUMAN HISTORY
Each head represents a phase of human history. The same can be said of the seven-headed beasts:
The Dragon is identified as Satan (12:9), but when it stands ready to devour Christ as soon as He is born, the Dragon also has seven heads and ten horns (12:3). The Dragon, therefore, also represents the human governments that Satan uses to do his work. When it stands before the woman, ready to devour Jesus as soon as He is born, it specifically symbolizes the Roman Empire, for that empire reigned when Jesus walked the earth.
The Sea Beast follows in time AFTER the dragon, for the dragon (Roman Empire) waits on the sand of the sea for the Sea Beast to come out of the sea (13:1 – The many waters of the sea represent humanity (17:15)). The Sea Beast, therefore, also describes a specific phase of human existence. The article on the Seven-Headed Beasts identifies the Sea Beast as the 11th horn that, according to Daniel 7, grows out of the Roman Empire.
As shown, the Scarlet Beast is the sixth head. Again, John looks at this beast from the perspective of a specific point or period of time.
In conclusion, each of the seven-headed beasts, just like the seven heads, describes ONE PHASE OF HUMAN HISTORY. This supports the notion that each beast represents one head.
Revelation 13 states that one of the heads receives a fatal wound, but then adds that the sea beast receives the wound:
“One of his heads as if it had been slain” (13:3).
“The beast who had the WOUND” (13:14).
This also implies that this beast is one of the seven heads.
IMAGE OF A MAN
The prophecy in Daniel 2 is the foundation from which the symbols of the seven-headed beasts are derived. This prophecy clarifies the relationship between the beasts and the heads. That prophecy symbolizes the history of mankind by an image of a metal man consisting of various metal body parts (head, shoulders, etc.). Each body part symbolizes an empire; a different phase of human history from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the Return of Christ.
In Daniel 2, the image consists of the metal kingdoms. Apart from the metal kingdoms, nothing exists. In the same way, Revelation’s beast consists of the seven heads. The beast is simply the sum of the heads. Conversely, the seven heads are the seven consecutive phases of the Beast. Apart from the seven heads, there is no beast. Everywhere that Revelation says that the beast does something, it is actually one of the heads (kings) that does it.
Evidence from Daniel 2 that the seven-headed beasts are three of the seven heads is that the different body parts of the Daniel 2 image are both the seven heads and the beasts in Revelation:
Both the body parts of the image in Daniel 2 and the seven heads are kingdoms that exist one after the other. For that reason, Revelation’s heads are equivalent to the body parts in Daniel 2.
But the different body parts in Daniel 2 are also different beasts in Revelation, for it has already been shown that the iron legs of the image are equivalent to the fourth beast in Daniel 7 with its “large iron teeth” (7:7) and that this symbolizes the Roman Empire, which, in Revelation, is symbolized by the seven-headed Dragon in 12:3-4.
What we see in Revelation, therefore, is not a single beast with three bodies and seven heads; but only seven heads with the three beasts being three of those heads.
SEVEN WORLD EMPIRES
It has been concluded above, from the book of Daniel, that the seven heads are seven world empires that exist one after another. This conclusion can now be confirmed from Revelation: The article – The Seven-Headed Beasts – has identified the Revelation’s Dragon as the Roman Empire. It would then follow that the other seven-headed beasts also are empires. And since we have now concluded that Revelation’s beasts are three of the seen heads, it follows that all seven heads are not only kingdoms but world empires. These seven world empires are identified in the next article – Seven Heads Identified.