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

PURPOSE

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.

REVELATION 13:3-4

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.

REVELATION 17

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 SIXTH HEAD

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.”

Therefore:

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.

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