Every main part of Revelation begins in the temple in heaven.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

TEMPLE BREAD

The purpose of this article is to show that each main part of the Book of Revelation has an introduction that emphasizes a specific part of the temple in heaven that is aligned to the theme of that part of Revelation. This article also discusses the theme of each of the five main parts of Revelation.

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

MAJOR PARTS OF REVELATION

The book of Revelation may be divided into the following major parts:

      • The seven letters (chapters 1 to 3);
      • The seven seals (4:1 to 8:1); 
      • The seven trumpets (chapters 8 to 11);
      • The seven wars (chapters 12 to 14); and
      • The seven plagues (chapters 15 to 19);

SEVEN LETTERS

The vision of Christ in 1:9-20 serves as an introduction to the seven letters. In this vision, Christ is seen walking between seven lampstands (1:13) which symbolize the seven churches (1:20). This vision introduces the theme of the seven letters, namely messages of correction and encouragement from Christ to His church.

An important aspect of all the introductory scenes to the main parts of Revelation is that they are visions of heaven. In particular, they are visions of the temple in heaven. For example, the lampstand with its seven lamps was in the ancient Jewish temple (Heb. 9:2). The vision of Jesus in 1:9-20, therefore, is a vision of the temple in heaven.

The churches are on earth, but through their lampstands, they are symbolized as if they are in heaven. In Revelation, God’s people are often represented as in heaven (e.g. 14:1-3; 15:2) while unbelievers are identified as “those who dwell on the earth” (e.g. 13:14).

SEVEN SEALS

The throne vision of Revelation chapters 4 and 5 functions as an introduction and provides the context for the seven seals. In Revelation 5, Jesus appears as a slain Lamb and receives a book that is sealed with seven seals. He then breaks the seals in Revelation 6:1 to 8:1, with dramatic consequences on earth and in heaven.  

Similar to the introduction to the letters, this is a scene from the temple in heaven, for it shows God’s throne (4:2), which is in His temple (7:15). But the main aspect of the temple, which is in view in this vision, is the slain Lamb:

And I saw … a Lamb standing, as if slain” (5:6).

Similar to the seven letters, the aspect of the temple on which this introduction focuses is aligned to the theme of this part of Revelation. Similar to the seven letters, the focus is on God’s people (5:9; 6:9; 7:3, 9). In the seven seals, the focus is specifically on the redemption of God’s people. For example, Jesus appears as a slain lamb and He is worthy to take the book and to break its seals; “for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every … nation” (5:9). 

SEVEN TRUMPETS

The vision of an angel serving at the golden altar, throwing fire on the earth (8:3-5), introduces the seven trumpets. This scene provides the context for the trumpets for, everywhere in the trumpets, fire falls out of heaven onto the earth. Two important examples are :

      • A strong angel comes down out of heaven with feet like pillars of fire, bringing a little opened book (10:1, 2), and
      • Fire flows out of the mouth of God’s two witnesses to devours their enemies (11:5).

In contrast to the seven letters and the seven seals, the focus in the trumpets is on non-believers (9:4, 20). For example, in the interruption between the sixth and seventh trumpets, God’s messages to them are symbolized by John having to “prophecy again” (10:11) and by the two witnesses (11:3). 

The angel puts “much incense” and the prayers of the saints on this altar because the trumpets symbolize God’s grace to a lost world in the form of warning messages.  The trumpets symbolize everything that God does to reconcile non-believers to Himself.

SEVEN WARS

The seventh and last trumpet is blown in 11:15. This is the end of the world as we know it. For example, loud voices in heaven say, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (11:15).

Revelation 12 begins a new main part, for it jumps back to the birth of Christ (12:2, 5) and introduces two new characters; a woman and a dragon. In Rev 13, the dragon is joined by a beast out of the sea (13:1) and by a beast from the earth (13:11). This trio is the major evil powers in the last 11 chapters of Revelation.

This new part does not begin with 12:1 but with the last verse of chapter 11 (11:19). This is indicated by the following:

      • Revelation 11:19, 12:1, and 12:3 present three successive scenes—the ark, the woman, and the dragon.  All three contain the phrase “appeared … in heaven.” These three verses, therefore, form a unit.
      • Each of the introductions to the previous main parts of Revelation contained images from the heavenly temple.  Revelation 11:19 also contains such an image, namely the “ark of His covenant.” This implies that it is also an introductory scene.
      • The “ark of His covenant” in the ancient temple contained the Ten Commandments. This connects 11:19 to Rev 12 to 14, for the wars in Rev 12 to 14 are about God’s commandments. For example, while God’s people are described as commandment-keepers (12:17; 14:12), the people of the world worship an image.
      • Revelation 11:18 is a fitting end to the trumpets because it is a summary in advance of the final events that are described more extensively in the remainder of Revelation:

SEVEN PLAGUES

The vision of the angels receiving the plagues from one of the four living beings (15:7) introduces the seven last plagues. This is also a temple scene for “the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple” (15:6).

CONCLUSION

All of these introductions are scenes from the temple in heaven. Each of them emphasizes a specific aspect of the temple that is aligned to the theme of that part of Revelation:

MAIN PART TEMPLE VIEW THEME
Letters
R1-3
Lampstand Christ’s care for His church – sends to them letters of warning and encouragement
Seals
R4-7
Slain Lamb How Jesus enables His people to stand before the throne of God.
Trumpets
R8-11
Golden altar, incense God’s grace – everything that God does to warn a lost world
Wars
R12-14
Ark of His covenant The end-time war about God’s commandments
Plagues
R15-
Tabernacle of testimony Seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished” (15:1).

 – END OF SUMMARY – 

MAJOR PARTS OF REVELATION

The book may be divided into the following major parts:

    • The seven letters (chapters 1 to 3);
    • The seven seals (4:1 to 8:1); 
    • The seven trumpets (chapters 8 to 11);
    • The seven wars (chapters 12 to 14);  These wars are not listed numerically, but ‘wars’ is a good description of this part of Revelation, and it is possible to divide this part into seven wars.
    • The seven plagues (chapters 15 to 19);
    • The Millennium (chapter 20); and
    • The New Heaven and New Earth (chapters 21 to 22).

THE SEVEN LETTERS

Revelation 1 provides an introduction to the entire Book of Revelation (1:1-8), followed by a vision of Christ that serves as an introduction to the seven letters (1:9-20). In this vision, Christ is seen walking between seven lampstands (1:13) which symbolize the seven churches (1:20). This vision of Christ provides the context for and introduces the theme of the letters, namely messages of correction and encouragement from Christ to His church. Most of the seven letters start with a reference to this vision.

An important aspect of the introductory scenes to the main parts of Revelation is that they all are visions of heaven. In particular, they are visions of the temple in heaven. In the ancient Jewish temple, the lampstand with its seven lamps was in the temple (Hebr. 9:2). The vision of Jesus in 1:9-20, therefore, is a vision of the temple in heaven. The aspect of the temple in heaven which appears in an introduction is aligned to the theme of that part of Revelation.

If the temple in heaven is a new concept to the reader, note that Revelation indicates explicitly that there is a temple in heaven (7:15; 11:19; 14:17; 15:5). Hebrews 8 and 9 confirm this.

THE LAMPSTANDS ARE IN HEAVEN

The seven lampstands are the seven churches” (1:20). Since the churches are on earth, this may imply that the lampstands are on earth. However, for the following reasons, the lampstand is in heaven:

      • If the temple in Revelation is in heaven, and if the lampstands are in the temple, then the lampstands must also be in heaven.
      • According to 2:5, each church HAS a lampstand.  Each lampstand, therefore, is a SYMBOL of a church.  The churches are on earth, but through their lampstands, they are symbolized as if they are in heaven. In Revelation, God’s people are often represented as in heaven (e.g. 14:1-3; 15:2) while unbelievers are identified as “those who dwell on the earth” (e.g. 13:14).
      • We should not think of a literal temple in heaven. The temple was the place to which the Israelites in ancient times went to have their sins forgiven. As stated by Hebrews 8:5, the ancient Jewish temple was a copy. That temple was a physical representation of the mechanisms through which God solves the sin problem. Revelation refers to a temple in heaven because we are familiar with the temple on earth, but it is a symbolic temple. The temple in heaven, therefore, includes the earth. For example, the sacrifice for the temple in heaven was made on earth (Hebr. 9:23) and the war in heaven was won by Christ’s victory on earth (Rev. 12:11). In Revelation, heaven and earth are very close together.
      • Lastly, it will be shown that all the other main parts of Revelation begin in the temple in heaven.

CONCLUSION

The theme of the letters is messages of encouragement from God to His church. If they overcome the world, He promises them to sit with Him on His Father’s throne (3:21). 

THE SEVEN SEALS

The throne vision of Revelation chapters 4 and 5 functions as an introduction and provides the context for the seven seals. In Revelation 5, Jesus appears as a slain Lamb and receives a book that is sealed with seven seals. He then breaks the seals in Revelation 6:1 to 8:1, with traumatic consequences on earth and in heaven.  

TEMPLE IN HEAVEN

Similar to the introduction to the letters, this is a scene from the temple in heaven, for it shows God’s throne (4:2), which is in His temple (7:15). But the main aspect of the temple, which is in view in this vision, is the slain Lamb:

And I saw … a Lamb standing, as if slain” (5:6).

FOCUS ON GOD’S PEOPLE

Similar to the seven letters, the aspect of the temple on which this introduction focuses is aligned to the theme of this part of Revelation. Similar to the seven letters, the focus is on God’s people (5:9; 6:9; 7:3, 9). This focus is illustrated by the question from the lost multitudes: 

The great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:17)

Non-believers are not explicitly mentioned in the seals, except when they hide, like Adam, from the One sitting on the throne, “for the great day of their wrath has come” (6:15-17). 

REDEMPTION FOCUS

But the focus here is specifically the redemption of God’s people, as indicated, for example, by the following:

      • Jesus appears as a slain lamb. They sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every … nation” (5:9). 
      • The seals begin when Jesus receives the sealed book at the throne (5:1) and end with all His people gathered around the throne of God (7:9). “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14).

The blood of Christ, therefore, allows people to stand before the throne of God, and the symbol of the slain Lamb introduces that theme. 

THE SEVEN TRUMPETS

FIRE THROWN ON THE EARTH

The vision of an angel serving at the golden altar, throwing fire on the earth (8:3-5), introduces the seven trumpets. This scene provides the context for the trumpets for the reader will notice that, everywhere in the trumpets, fire falls out of heaven onto the earth:

      • First trumpet: Fire is thrown to the earth.
        Much of the earth is burned up (8:7).
      • Second: A burning mountain is thrown into the sea (8:8-9).
      • Third: A great burning star fell from heaven (8:10, 11).
      • Fifth: A star falls to the earth, and the sun and the air were darkened by smoke (9:1-3).
      • Sixth: Fire and smoke and brimstone from the mouths of horses kill a third of mankind (9:17, 18).
      • In the interruption between the sixth and seventh trumpets:
        • A strong angel comes down out of heaven with feet like pillars of fire, bringing a little opened book (10:1, 2), and
        • Fire flows out of the mouth of God’s two witnesses to devours their enemies (11:5).

The point is that the fire which the angel throws to earth in 8:5 results in the fire that we see everywhere in the trumpets, which means that 8:2-5 provides context to the trumpets.

FOCUS ON UN-BELIEVERS

In contrast to the seven letters and the seven seals, the focus in the trumpets is on non-believers (9:4, 20). In the interruption between the sixth and seventh trumpets, God’s messages to them are symbolized by:

        • John had to “prophecy again” (10:11) and by
        • The two witnesses (11:3). 

At the end of the sixth trumpet, the focus is again on the non-believers, but now they worship God because they fear Him (11:13), not because they love Him.  This is equivalent to the non-believers hiding from God at the end of the sixth seal (6:15-17).

WARNINGS TO A LOST WORLD

As with the introduction to the letters and the seals, the vision in 8:2-5 is of the temple in heaven, specifically, of the golden altar. This introduces the theme of the trumpets:

In the ancient Jewish system, individual sinners brought their sacrifices to the altar of burnt offerings outside the temple, but sacrifices for the collective sins of the people were made at the golden altar inside the temple. 

The angel puts “much incense” (the benefits of the sacrifice on the cross) and the prayers of the saints on this altar because the trumpets symbolize God’s grace to a lost world in the form of messages of warning.  The trumpets represent everything God does to reconcile non-believers to Himself.

OTHER CONNECTIONS TO THE SEALS

Apart from the fact that all main parts begin in the temple in heaven, the following are further connections between the introductory scenes of the seals and the trumpets:

      • Lightning, voices, and thunders are seen in both (4:5; 8:5).
      • Both connect “incense” to the “prayers of the saints.” In the seals, the incense is defined as the prayers of the saints (5:8). In contrast, in the trumpets, incense is offered on the altar “with” the prayers of the saints (8:3-4).  In Revelation, only these two verses mention the “prayers of the saints.

THE SEVEN WARS

Revelation 12 may be divided into seven wars as follows:

      1. His tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (12:4). This possibly refers to the war in heaven before the world was created, when Lucifer deceived many angels to follow him.
      2. The dragon stood before the woman” (12:4) is the war between Satan and God’s people in the time before the birth of Christ.
      3. The dragon attempted to devour the Child but failed (12:4-5).
      4. There was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war” (12:7). This war follows after Christ’s ascension to heaven.
      5. The 1260 days or “time and times and half a time” (12:6, 14) refers to the persecution by the Church of the Middle Ages (See The beast).
      6. The Earth defends the woman against the dragon, forcing the dragon to go away (12:16-17). This is equivalent to the “fatal wound” (13:3) and the sixth head, when the beast “is not” (17:8-10) (See The seven heads of the beast)
      7. The dragon’s end-time war on the woman’s other children (12:17). Rev 13 describes the dragon’s attack and Rev 14 outlines the response of God’s people.

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET IS THE END OF THE WORLD.

The first trumpet is blown in Rev 8:7.  Each trumpet is clearly numbered. The last trumpet is blown in Rev 11:15. The following indicates that this is the end of the world as we know it:

      • Loud voices in heaven say, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (11:15).
      • The twenty-four elders say, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign” (11:16, 17).
      • Elsewhere, Revelation identifies God as Him “who is and who was and who is to come” (e.g. 1:4). But Rev 11:17 omits the “who is to come”-part because He has already come.

REVELATION 12 BEGINS A NEW MAIN PART.

For the following reasons, a new main part of Revelation begins with Revelation 12:

      • While the seventh trumpet brings an end to the current world history, Rev 12 jumps back to the time when the Son of God became a human being (12:2, 5).
      • Rev 12 introduces two new characters; a woman and a dragon. In Rev 13, the dragon calls a beast out of the sea (13:1) and another one out of the earth (13:11). The latter beast deceives the inhabitants of the world to make an image of the beast (13:14). The dragon and its two helpers belong together and are the major evil powers in the last 11 chapters of Revelation. These new characters imply the beginning of a new major part of Revelation.

REVELATION 11:19 INTRODUCES THE WARS.

Then the question is, where exactly does this new part begin? More specifically, where does 11:19 fit?  Is it the end of the trumpets, or the introduction of the wars in chapters 12 to 14, or both? This verse reads:

The temple of God which is in heaven was opened;
and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple,
and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm
”. 

For the following reasons, it is proposed that 11:19 is the introduction of the wars of chapters 12 to 14:

APPEARED IN HEAVEN

Revelation 11:19, 12:1, and 12:3 present three successive scenes—the ark, the woman, and the dragon.  The phrase “appeared” occurs just three times in Revelation: namely in these three verses.  Furthermore, the phrase “in heaven” is found in each of these scenes.  These three verses, therefore, form a unit.

IN HIS TEMPLE

Each of the introductions to the seven letters, the seven seals, and the seven trumpets contains images from the heavenly temple.  Since Revelation 11:19 also contains an image from the heavenly temple, namely the “ark of His covenant” (cf. Heb. 9:4), this is also an introductory scene.

COMMANDMENTS OF GOD

The “ark of His covenant” was in the innermost part of the ancient temple and contained the Ten Commandments. This connects 11:19 to Rev 12 to 14, for the wars in Rev 12 to 14 are against God’s commandments:

      • God’s people are described as commandment-keepers (12:17; 14:12).
      • The people disobey the commandments on the first table, for they:
        • Worship the dragon and the beast (13:4),
        • Blaspheme God (13:6) and
        • Erect and worship an image (13:14, 15).
      • The plagues come from the “tabernacle of testimony” (15:5), which is Old Testament language for the temple of the Ten Commandments (Ex 25:16).

LIGHTNING, VOICES, AND THUNDER

Another indication that 11:19 is an introduction is that the lightning, voices, and thunders, which we find in 11:19, also appear in the introductions to the seals (4:5) and to the trumpets (8:5).

Actually, each time that lightning, voices, and thunders are enumerated, additional elements are added:

      • These three elements are found in Rev 4:5. 
      • The introduction to the trumpets adds earthquakes (8:5). 
      • Revelation 11:19 adds both earthquakes and great hail.  

The same five elements are found in 16:18-21; the seventh plague.

REVELATION 11:18 IS A FITTING END

Revelation 11:18 is a fitting end to the trumpets because it summarizes the final events that are described more extensively in the remainder of Revelation:

Revelation 11:18 LAST 11 CHAPTERS
The nations were enraged The wars in Rev 12 to 14
Your wrath came The plagues in Rev 15 to 19
The time came for the dead to be judged … The judgment before the great white throne in Rev 20
To reward … the saints … The new heaven and new earth in chapters 21 and 22
To destroy those who destroy the earth The lake of fire and the second death (20:14-15; 21:8)

THE SEVEN PLAGUES

The vision of the angels receiving the plagues from one of the four living beings (15:7) introduces the seven last plagues. This is also a temple scene for “the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple” (15:6). The temple here is called the “tabernacle of testimony” (15:5) which emphasizes the “testimony;” a name for the Ten Commandments (Ex 25:16).

CONCLUSION

These introductions always are scenes from the temple in heaven and that the emphasized aspect of the temple is aligned to the theme of that part of Revelation:

Letters Lampstand Christ cares for His church – sends them letters of warning and encouragement
Seals Slain Lamb Redemption of God’s people
Trumpets Golden altar, incense God’s grace; messages of warning to a lost world
Wars ark of His covenant Wars about God’s law
Plagues tabernacle of testimony Judgments for

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

  • Revelation may be divided into five main parts.
  • Each main part of the Book of Revelation has an introduction.
  • Each of the introductions emphasizes a part of the temple in heaven that is aligned to the theme of that part of Revelation.
  • The themes of these main parts are as follows:
    • Seven Letters – Christ’s care for His church – Letters of warning and encouragement
    • Seven seals – Redemption – How Jesus enables His people to stand before the throne of God.
    • Seven Trumpets– Focus on unbelievers – Everything that God does to warn a lost world
    • Seven Wars – The end-time war about God’s commandments
    • Seven Plagues – In them, the wrath of God is finished.

AVAILABLE ARTICLES ON REVELATION

INTRODUCTORY
   Why is the title of this website Revelation BY Jesus Christ?
   Every main part of Revelation begins in the temple in heaven
   Are events described in chronological sequence? 
   Is a consistently literal interpretation appropriate?
   Does Revelation present Jesus as God?
   God’s throne – the center of the universe.
SEVEN SEALS
   Introduction to the Seven Seals – What book is this?
   Revelation 4:1-8 – Verse-by-verse
   Revelation 4:8-11 – Worship in God’s presence
   The 24 elders are human beings that rule under God.
   Revelation 5 is Christ’s enthronement after His ascension.
   The Sixth Seal concludes with Christ’s Return.
   Does the seventh seal include the seven trumpets?
   Seven seals explained
BABYLON
   Babylon; the mother of harlots – main article
   Babylon’s merchants are her false prophets.
   Babylon is not the reconstructed ancient city of Babylon.
   Babylon is the driving force behind the beast.
SEVEN-HEADED BEASTS
   The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation identified
   The three beasts are three of the seven heads.
   The Seven Heads identified
REVELATION 13
   13:1-2 – The Beast relates to Daniel 7.
   13:3-4 – The fatal wound
   The beast of Revelation is the Mainstream Church of Christendom.
SEVEN PLAGUES
   The Plagues of Revelation – 16 articles

For further reading, Jon Paulien’s commentary is recommended. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

The beast in Revelation is the mainstream church of Christendom.

This is an article in the series on Revelation 13.  The purpose of the current article is to determine whether there is any power in history that fits the descriptions and timeline of the beast that comes out of the sea.

SUMMARY

THE BEAST AND THE HORN OF DANIEL 7

For the reasons below, the beast in the book of Revelation is another symbol for the world power that is symbolized by the evil horn in the Book of Daniel:

1. The beasts in Daniel 7 also come out of the sea.

2. In the description of the beast, Revelation explicitly mentions three of the beasts of Daniel 7.

3. The beast receives his authority from the dragon, and “dragon” is like a good name for the dreadful fourth beast in Daniel 7.

4. The beast in Revelation has the same number of heads and horns as the beasts of Daniel 7 have in total.

5. The 42 months of the beast are equal to the time, times and a half of the little horn.

6. The beast has crowns on its horns. This signals that it exists in the time of horns of the fourth beast.

7. In the book of Daniel, the evil horn is the successor of the Roman Empire, blasphemes God, persecutes His people, and is only destroyed when Christ returns. The book of Revelation says the same four things about the beast.

The evil horn of Daniel 7 and the sea beast, therefore, are two symbols for the same world power, namely the Antichrist: “You heard that antichrist is coming” (1 John 2:18). This is discussed further in the article on the Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation.

THE HORN IS THE CHURCH OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

The only reason that Daniel 7 mentions four beasts and eleven horns is to allow us to identify the evil eleventh horn.  That chapter lists several specific characteristics of this horn. This section considers five of those characteristics and, for the reasons below, identifies the little horn of Daniel 7 as the church of the middle ages:

1. The evil horn grew out of the Roman Empire. The church, similarly, was one of the divisions into which the Roman Empire fragmented.

2. The horn will blaspheme God by attempting “to make alterations in times and in law.” The church of Rome blasphemes God with doctrines and practices that insult God.

3. The evil horn will persecute God’s true people. The church engaged in brutal forms of coercion, such as the Inquisition, seeking to compel or exterminate the people who protest against its doctrines.

4. The little horn uprooted three of the others as it came up. In the sixth century, Justinian uprooted three of the Arian Christian nations that previously dominated the Church in Rome.

5. The evil horn “was larger in appearance than its associates.” During the High Middle Ages, the church became dominant over the other kingdoms that arose from the Roman Empire.

Since the beast in Revelation is the dominating horn of Daniel 7 and since the horn is the church, the beast is the church of the middle ages.

THE BEAST IS THE CHURCH.

The previous section identified the beast by identifying the evil horn of Daniel. The current section identifies the beast based on what Revelation 13 itself says about it.

The fatal wound and resurrection of the beast suggest that the world power, of which the beast is a symbol, would have a period of great authority for “42 months,” followed by a period of death before its ‘resurrection’. This may be applied as follows to the church:

1. The 42 months represent the many centuries during the middle ages when the church massacred people who did not accept its blaspheming doctrines and practices.

2. The authority of the church received a fatal wound through religious liberty in the time of the French revolution.

3. In the end-time, the wound will be healed (13:3) when an image of the beast (a copy of the system during the middle ages) will be set up which will again kill its opponents.

A further indication – that the beast is the church – is that the beast is not just a political power; it is also a religious power, for it “blaspheme His name and His tabernacle“and “make war with the saints.

More specifically, the beast is a Christian organization, for it is a deliberate counterfeit of Jesus Christ. Like Jesus Christ, the beast:

      • Receives its authority,
      • Looks like one from which it receives its authority, and
      • Has a ministry that lasts three and a half years, followed by a death and a resurrection.

Other indications that the beast is a Christian organization are:

      • The beast specifically persecutes God’s people. Only a Christian organization is able to do that.
      • The beast works with a lamb-like beast. Revelation refers 28 times to Jesus as a lamb.
      • Various other Bible texts predict that the church would become corrupted.

THE END-TIME ANTICHRIST

Given that the beast represents the church of the middle ages, the question in this section is about the identity of the Antichrist in the end-time war. 

The beast symbolizes the Antichrist in both the middle ages and the end-time, but that does not mean that the same organizations will be involved in both phases. Just like Revelation 12 uses “dragon” as a symbol for Satan’s forces in different forms at different times, the beast could symbolize Satan’s forces in different forms at different times. 

Furthermore, the religious oppression and intolerance of the Protestant Orthodoxy (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were disturbingly similar to the Catholic Church in the High Middle Ages. The Holocaust and similar more recent religious cruelties make it clear that today’s version of institutional Christianity is not significantly improved over that of the Middle Ages.

For these reasons, I propose that we define the beast as the mainstream church of Christendom. That definition would allow it to be represented by different organizations at different times.

Whenever we see persecution and killing of people for their religious convictions, then we must know that the spirit of Satan is at work, for God never uses force.

– END OF SUMMARY – 

THE BEAST AND THE HORN OF DANIEL 7

It is, firstly, proposed that the beast from the sea in the book of Revelation and the evil horn in the Book of Daniel are two symbols for the Antichrist:

In Daniel 7, ten horns grow out of the fourth beast. After them, a little horn comes up that grows to become larger than the others and to speak proud words and blasphemies against the Most High (Dan 7:8, 24-25).

The indications that this evil horn and the beast are two symbols for the same world power are as follows:

ALLUSIONS TO DANIEL 7

The description of the beast in Revelation 13:1-2 contains several allusions to Daniel 7, such as:

      • The beasts in Daniel 7 also come out of the sea.
      • Three of the beasts of Daniel 7 are explicitly mentioned in the description of the beast, namely the leopard, bear, and lion.
      • The beast receives his authority from the dragon, and “dragon” is like a good name for the dreadful fourth beast in Daniel 7.
      • The beast has the same number of heads and horns as the beasts of Daniel 7 have in total.

These allusions indicate that the sea beast’s heritage is rooted in the series of beasts in Daniel 7. Specifically, the article on Revelation 13:1-2 concludes that the beast is the real successor of the fourth beast, and that fourth beast symbolizes the Roman Empire.

Later verses in Revelation 13 also allude to the little horn of Daniel 7:

The 42 months of the beast (Rev. 13:5) are equal to the time, times and a half of the little horn (Dan. 7:25).

Both the beast and the little horn persecute God’s people and blaspheme God (Rev. 13:5-8; Dan. 7:25).

Furthermore, the beast has crowns on its horns. This signals that it exists in the time of horns of the fourth beast, in contrast to the crowns on the heads of the dragon (12:3), which indicates that the dragon exists at an earlier time.

SUCCESSOR OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Furthermore, both the horn of Daniel and the beast in Revelation are the successor of the Roman Empire:

In Daniel, the dominating horn grows out of the fourth beast, which has been identified as the Roman Empire.

In Revelation, the beast receives its great authority from the dragon (13:2). The dragon, when it has seven heads and ten horns and stands ready to devour the Child Jesus (12:3-4), is the Roman Empire. (See the article on Revelation 13:1-2.) The beast is therefore also the successor of the Roman Empire.

THE ANTICHRIST

Further evidence that the horn in Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation are different symbols for the same entity is that both are described as the Antichrist:

The main power in Daniel 7 is the eleventh horn that grows out of the Roman Empire. The only reason that Daniel 7 mentions the four beasts and the other ten horns is to enable us to identify that eleventh horn. That horn grows out of the Roman Empire, blasphemes God and persecutes His people, and is only destroyed when Christ returns (Dan. 7:25-27).

Revelation, similarly, describes the beast as the main power that opposes God. In Revelation, it is THE Antichrist. For example, later we will see that the people of the world create an image of the beast and that they receive the mark of the beast. And, similar to the evil horn, the beast receives its authority from the Roman Empire, blasphemes God and persecutes His people, and is only destroyed when Christ returns (Rev. 19:11, 20).

CONCLUSION

These factors suggest that the evil horn of Daniel 7 and the sea beast (Rev. 13:1) are two symbols for the same thing. For a further discussion, see the article on the Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation.

The general principle is that the Book of Revelation is built on the foundation of the prophecies of Daniel. The same applies to this antichrist-horn. Revelation provides additional information about it, for example, that it exists through three phases: before, during, and after a fatal wound.

THE HORN IS THE CHURCH OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

This section discusses some of the marks of identity in Daniel 7 and identifies the little horn of Daniel 7 as the church of the middle ages. Since the previous section has shown that Revelation’s beast is the little horn of Daniel 7, that identifies the beast as the church of the middle ages.

FRAGMENT OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Firstly, the evil horn grew out of the Roman Empire. The church, similarly, was one of the divisions into which the Roman Empire fragmented:

Before Christianity was legalized in the year 313, religion was always regulated by the empire. The emperors used religion to promote the unity of the large number of nations that were part of the empire.

In the fourth-century Roman Empire, consistent with the status of religion in previous centuries, church and state were one. The church became a department of government, with the emperor the real head of the church. The series of articles on the history of the church, for example, shows that the religious preferences of the emperors determined the outcome of the major controversy of the early centuries and resulted in the acceptance of the Trinity doctrine.

After the Germanic tribes divided the territory of the Western Empire between themselves in the fifth century, the church in Rome remained protected and governed by the emperor.

After emperor Justinian destroyed Arian domination in the sixth century, the Roman emperors in Constantinople continued to dominate the church for two centuries, known as the Byzantine Papacy.

BLASPHEMY AND PERSECUTION

The horn of Daniel 7 will blaspheme God and persecute His people. These two things are related: It blasphemes God by disregarding God’s Law and through teachings and practices that insult God. God’s true people protest and refuse to submit to the beast’s law. Consequently, the beast persecutes them. In support of this, note the parallelism in Daniel 7:25:

BLASPHEMY PERSECUTION
He will speak out against the Most High  and wear down the saints of the Highest One
and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

Considering the column on the left, the horn “will speak out against the Most Highby attempting “to make alterations in times and in law.” Moving to the column on the right, this parallelism implies that the consequence of these alterations will be that God’s true people will protest, with the result that the horn will persecute them.

Blasphemy – The church in Rome blasphemed God by developing doctrines and practices that insult God. It gradually deviated from biblical truth in multiple areas, for example, deviations in Christology eventually resulting in Mariology. Other examples include false teachings with respect to salvation and indulgences, confession, and the veneration of people declared to be saints.

Persecution – “He will … wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan. 7:25). As a clear mark of its identity, the church of the middle ages engaged in brutal forms of coercion, such as the Inquisition, seeking to compel or exterminate the true people of God who dared to stand up against these evil innovations. It killed and massacred God’s people. For example, see the massacres of the Waldensians. In so doing it had drifted far from the spirit of Jesus, as recognized by such medieval “saints” as Francis of Assisi, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Eberhard of Salzburg.

OTHER IDENTIFICATIONS

The little horn uprooted three of the others as it came up (Dan. 7:8; 20, 24). In the sixth century, Justinian uprooted three of the Arian Christian nations that previously dominated the Church in Rome. This allowed the papacy to become a dominant force in the territory of the previous Western Roman Empire.

The evil horn “was larger in appearance than its associates” (Dan. 7:20). During the High Middle Ages, the church became dominant over the other kingdoms that arose out of the Roman Empire.

In this section, we argued that the dominant horn of Daniel 7 is the church of the middle ages. We only discussed four indicators:

      • Fragment of the Roman Empire;
      • Blasphemy & Persecution;
      • Uprooted three; and
      • Larger than the others.

A series of articles is available on this website that discusses the history of the church. Some of these articles have been referenced above. That series discusses all marks of identity provided in Daniel 7 to identify the church of Rome as the only historical entity that fits both the timing and the characteristics of the 11th horn of Daniel 7.

THE BEAST IS THE CHURCH

The previous section discussed evidence from Daniel 7. The current section identifies the beast as the church based on marks of identity in Revelation 13 itself:

42 MONTHS, FOLLOWED BY DEATH AND RESURRECTION

The death and resurrection of the beast suggest that the world power, of which the beast is a symbol, would have a period of great authority for “42 months,” followed by a period of death (the fatal wound – 13:5) before its ‘resurrection’ (“his fatal wound was healed” – 13:5). Then the beast would play a major role in the final conflict in the history of this world.

The nature of Revelation, with things such as beasts with seven heads and ten horns, that are worshiped by the people of the world, implies that time indications are also symbolic. For example, the ten horns are ten kings that reign “for one hour” (17:12). This must be symbolic for a much longer period than one literal hour, but still a short period; perhaps only some months. Compared to one literal hour, 42 literal months (3½ years) is a very, very long time.

It is, therefore, quite possible that the 42 months represent the many centuries during which the mainstream church of the middle ages in the most horrendous ways massacred people who did not accept its blaspheming doctrines and practices.

The authority of the church received a fatal wound through religious liberty in the time of Napoleon and the French revolution.  Today, the church is not able to kill God’s people as it did during the middle ages. The mainstream church, therefore, also had a long period of dominance, followed by a period of death; the fatal wound.

Revelation predicts that, in the end-time, an image of the beast (a copy of the system during the middle ages) will be set up which will again kill its opponents.

RELIGIOUS POWER

The beast is not just a political power like ancient Babylon and Rome but, like the church of the middle ages, it is also a religious power, for it “blaspheme His name and His tabernacle“ (13:6) and “make war with the saints” (13:7).

CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATION

More specifically, the beast, like the church of the middle ages, is a Christian organization. Firstly, it is a deliberate counterfeit of Jesus Christ:

It looks like the dragon because it has the same number of heads and horns and gets its authority from the dragon (13:2). This mirrors the relationship of Jesus with His Father because Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) and because the Father has given Jesus “all authority … in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18).

Like Jesus, the beast has a ministry that lasts three and a half years, followed by a death and a resurrection.

Secondly, the beast specifically persecutes God’s people. That only a Christian organization is able to do, for God’s people are identified by their protest against unbiblical doctrines and practices in the church.

Thirdly, the beast works with a lamb-like beast (13:11-12). Revelation refers 28 times to Jesus as a lamb. This is the only instance in Revelation where “lamb” does not refer to Jesus. The lamb-like beast looks like Jesus but “spoke as a dragon” (13:11).

The beast is something dragon-like that has a Christian face! It names Jesus as its reason for existence, yet its actions serve the dragon!

OTHER BIBLE EVIDENCE

Revelation is not alone in such a prediction. There are numerous other texts in the New Testament that forecast a similar future for the church, though in less dramatic terms. For example:

The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1; cf. Acts 20:28-31; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 1 John 2:18-19).

In summary, so far, the main sections of this article have argued as follows:

        1. Revelation’s beast and daniel’s horn are two different symbols for the same world power – the Antichrist.
        2. That horn is the church of the middle ages. Therefore the beast is the same.
        3. Revelation itself identified the beast as a Christian organization.
        4. Various other Bible texts predict that the church would become corrupted.   

THE END-TIME ANTICHRIST

Given that the beast represents the church of the middle ages, the question in this section is about the identity of the Antichrist in the end-time war.

EACH BEAST IS A HEAD.

To discuss the seventh head, we first need to review the phases of the beast. As previously argued, each beast is one of the heads (phases) of the beast-power. According to the article on the Seven Heads:

      • The first four heads are the four beasts of Daniel 7. The fourth beast is the Roman Empire, represented in Revelation 12:3 as a dragon.
      • The last three heads are the three phases of the beast (the 11th horn); before, during, and after the fatal wound.

In other words:

      • Head 4 is the dragon in 12:3, representing the Roman Empire.
      • Head 5 is the beast from the sea in 13:1; another symbol for Daniel’s evil horn – the Antichrist.
      • Head 6 is the scarlet beast in 17:3, which is in prison (the Abyss – 17:8). This is the fatal wound (13:3).
      • Head 7 is the beast after its resurrection.

INDICATIONS OF DISSIMILARITY

The beast, therefore, is the Antichrist in both the fifth and seventh phases, but that does not mean that the same organizations will be involved in both phases. For example, in Revelation 12, the dragon symbolizes Satan’s forces in different forms at different times:

      • At the time of Christ (12:3);
      • In the war in heaven (12:7);
      • During the middle ages (12:14) and
      • In the end-time war (12:17).

In the same way, the beast is a symbol for Satan’s forces in different forms at different times.  Just like the Babylonian Empire was the first of the seven heads but very different from the church of the middle ages, the final phase (head) of the beast, when the fatal wound is healed, may again be very different from the church of the middle ages. We should, therefore, not necessarily expect the same organizations to be involved in the end-time crisis. That beast of the fifth phase was the mainstream church of the middle ages does not mean that beast of the seventh phase is the Catholic Church.

INDICATIONS OF SIMILARITY

On the other hand, Daniel and Revelation indicate a significant continuity between the middle age and the end-time, because:

      • The evil horn of Daniel 7 is the Antichrist in both eras, and
      • In the end-time war:
        • The sea beast will be resurrected, and
        • An “image” of the beast will be set up (13:14).

The question then, given these indications of similarity and dissimilarity, is how to define the beast.

MAINSTREAM CHURCH OF CHRISTENDOM

History teaches that the mainstream church of Christendom in the Middle Ages brutally persecuted and executed believers who dared to stand up to its doctrines and practices, but the mainstream churches of our day will act similarly. The religious oppression and intolerance of the Protestant Orthodoxy (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) were disturbingly similar. For example; the role which Calvin played in the murder of Michael Servetus. Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Holocaust make it clear that today’s version of institutional Christianity is not significantly improved over that of the Middle Ages.

To make provision for both the indications of similarity and dissimilarity, I propose that we define the beast as the mainstream church of Christendom. That definition would allow it to be represented by different organizations at different times.

GOD NEVER USES FORCE.

As we continue to read Revelation 13, we will see further indications of the form which the beast will assume during the final crisis of this world’s history. However, whenever we see persecution and killing of people for their religious convictions, then we must know that the spirit of Satan is at work, for God never uses force. If God used forced, He would not have allowed evil to develop. But He created us with the wonderful ability to make our own choices.  He protects our freedom, for if He would override our freedom to choose against Him, He would be destroying the miracle which He has created.

GOD KNOWS THE FUTURE.

Is it also not wonderful to be reassured that God know the future? The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were given thousands of years ago and, according to the interpretation above, correctly predicted events over these centuries. But, for that reason, God shrouded these predictions in symbolic language so that only people that want to believe, will believe. The others will hear but not hear, see but not see”

None of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand” (Dan. 12:10).

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

The beast of Revelation is the mainstream church of Christendom. This is based on the following:

 – The beast of Revelation is another symbol for the world power (the Antichrist) that is symbolized by the evil horn in the Book of Daniel.
 – The evil horn of Daniel is the church of the middle ages.
 – Consequently the beast in Revelation is a symbol for the church of the middle ages.

Further evidence of this is that the description of the beast in Revelation 13 identifies it as the church; both during the Middle Ages and in the end-time (after the fatal wound has been healed).

More specifically, the description of the beast in Revelation 13 identifies it as a Christian organization.

Consequently, the beast symbolizes the Antichrist in both the middle ages and in the end-time, but different organizations may be involved in the two phases. In the end-time, the beast could take the form of the Protestant Orthodoxy.

AVAILABLE ARTICLES ON REVELATION

INTRODUCTORY
   Why is the title of this website Revelation BY Jesus Christ?
   Are events described in chronological sequence? 
   Is a consistently literal interpretation appropriate?
   Does Revelation present Jesus as God?
   God’s throne – the center of the universe.
BABYLON
   Babylon; the mother of harlots – main article
   Babylon’s merchants are her false prophets.
   Babylon is not the reconstructed ancient city of Babylon.
   Babylon is the driving force behind the beast.
SEVEN-HEADED BEASTS
   The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation identified
   The three beasts are three of the seven heads.
   The Seven Heads identified
REVELATION 13
    13:1-2 – The Beast relates to Daniel 7.
   13:3-4 – The fatal wound
   The beast of Revelation is the Mainstream Church of Christendom.
SEVEN SEALS
   Introduction to the Seven Seals – What book is this?
   Seven seals explained
   Does the seventh seal include the seven trumpets?
SEVEN PLAGUES
   The Plagues of Revelation – 16 articles

For further reading, Jon Paulien’s commentary is recommended. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.