Revelation’s Dragon is the Roman Empire.


This article identifies one of the main characters in the Book of Revelation; the Great Red Dragon, who gives power and authority to the Beast of Revelation. 

In the Book of Revelation, there are three beasts that each have seven heads and ten horns:

      • The Great Red Dragon (Rev 12:3),
      • The Beast that comes up from the Sea (the Sea Beast), (It is the mark of this Sea Beast that people will receive on their foreheads in the end-time. Rev 13:1, 16-17), and
      • The Scarlet Beast, on which the harlot sits (Rev 17:3).

Perhaps the Image of the Beast (Rev 13:15), since it is an image of the Sea Beast, also has seven heads and ten horns.

Given their strange appearances, they cannot be literal beasts. Since they all have seven heads and ten horns, they must be related. Since they are different beasts, they represent different things. This article series explains what these beasts are and how they relate. The purpose of the current article is specifically to identify the Dragon.


For the following reasons, Revelation’s seven-headed beasts are more detailed explanations of the series of animals in Daniel 7:

1. A General Principle

It is a general principle that later prophecies explain and expand on earlier prophecies.

Daniel 2 is the base prophecy. Daniel 7 explains it in more detail. Daniel 8 and Daniel 11 provide still further details. Since the Book of Revelation is grounded in Daniel’s prophecies, and given this general principle, Revelation’s beasts provide even further detail of the empires symbolized in Daniel. In other words, Revelation’s beasts are part of the empires in Daniel.

2. The same number of heads and horns

The animals in Daniel 7 have the same number of heads and horns as the beasts in Revelation. While the four animals in Daniel 7 have, in TOTAL, 7 heads and 10 horns, Revelation’s beasts EACH have 7 heads and 10 horns:

Daniel 7 uses four ferocious beasts as symbols for successive empires:

      • Lion (Dan 7:4)
      • Bear (Dan 7:5)
      • Leopard with four heads (Dan 7:6)
      • Dragonlike Beast, “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong,” with 10 horns (Dan 7:7)

Horns – While the first three animals in Daniel 7 do not have horns, the fourth animal “had ten horns” (Dan 7:7). Revelation’s beasts also have 10 horns each.

The 10 horns in Daniel 7 is explained as that, “out of this kingdom ten kings will arise” (Dan 7:24). This is interpreted as that, while each of the first three empires will be replaced by one single empire, the fourth empire (identified in a previous article as the Roman Empire, see here) will fragment into “ten kings” (kingdoms). The number “ten” is possibly not exactly literal. (cf. Dan 1:20)

Heads – While the other three animals have one head each, Daniel’s third animal, the Leopard, has four heads (Dan 7:6). So, Daniel’s four animals have seven heads in total, equal to the number of heads of each of the beasts in Revelation.

Not the same heads and horns – This does not mean that the heads in Daniel symbolize the same things as the heads in Revelation. Neither are the horns in Revelation the same as the horns in Daniel. For example, Daniel’s fourth animal actually has 11 horns (Dan 7:8), and the 11th is the main character of Daniel. There is no such 11th horn in Revelation. See here for more differences between Daniel’s and Revelation’s heads and horns.

But the similarity does mean that Revelation’s beasts are:

      • Related to Daniel’s animals.
      • The same types of things as Daniel’s animals, namely kingdoms or nations (cf. Rev 17:9-12).
      • Part of the series of animals, heads, and horns in Daniel 7. 

3. Exist at the same time.

Both the animals in Daniel and the beasts in Revelation cover the entire Christan Age; from before Christ’s first advent until His Return.

Daniel 7 covers the entire Christian age. The animals cover the time from the ancient Babylonian to the Roman Empires:

Daniel 7 uses four ferocious beasts as symbols for successive empires, from the Babylonian to the Roman Empires (see here):

      • Lion (Dan 7:4) = Babylonian
      • Bear (Dan 7:5) = Medo-Persian
      • Leopard with four heads (Dan 7:6) = Grecian (Macedonian) Empire of Alexander the Great
      • Dragonlike Beast, “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” (Dan 7:7) = Roman Empire

The 11th horn, which grows out of the Roman Empire, then continues to exist until Christ returns (Dan 7:26-27).

The prophecy of Daniel 2 confirms that the 11th horn will exist until Christ returns (see here). While Daniel 7 describes the four animal-kingdoms as four separate entities, Daniel 2 combines them into a single symbol; the image of a man, containing four metals. Different body parts represent the successive kingdoms. The head of the man is the first (the Babylonian empire). The feet, described as a “divided kingdom” (Dan 2:41) are parallel to the horns that grow out of Daniel’s fourth animal, including the 11th horn. Then the entire ‘man’ is destroyed when Christ returns (Dan 2:44).

Revelation’s three seven-headed beasts exist at the same time as Daniel’s animals because they cover the period from before Christ’s birth (Rev 12:5) to His Return (Rev 19:11-20).

4. The Sea Beast looks like Daniel’s animals.

Revelation’s Sea Beast is described as having the appearance of a leopard, bear, and lion. These are the first three animals in Daniel 7. Furthermore, the Sea Beast receives its power, authority, and throne from a ‘dragon’, an apt description of Daniel’s fourth animal. This means that it inherited characteristics from each of those kingdoms.

Revelation’s Sea Beast “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” (Rev 13:2). These are the four beasts in Daniel 7.

Compared to Daniel 7, they are mentioned in reverse sequence, probably because the leopard (the Greek Empire) is the most recent ancestor of the Sea Beast.

This description means that the Sea Beast inherits something from each of the four beasts of Daniel 7, confirming the concept in Daniel 2 that these four kingdoms are different phases of the same thing.


For these reasons, Revelation’s seven-headed beasts provide further information about the empires and kingdoms in Daniel 7. Therefore, the articles on Daniel 7 (available here) form the foundation for interpreting Revelation’s seven-headed beasts.


For the following reasons, Revelation’s Dragon symbolizes the Roman Empire:

1. It rules in the time of Jesus.

When it is first described, it waits for Jesus, ready to kill Him. But it fails, for Jesus was caught up to God (Rev 12:3-5). Since it symbolizes an earthly empire, and since Jesus walked this earth when the Romans reigned, it symbolizes the Roman Empire.

Great Red Dragon

When the Dragon is first described in Revelation, it stands before the woman, ready to devour her Child (that is, Jesus – see Rev 12:4) as soon as He is born. Here, it is described as having 7 heads and 10 horns (Rev 12:3). Since heads and horns represent “kings” (cf. Rev 17:9-10, 12) and since “kings” symbolize earthly kingdoms (Dan 7:17, 23), the Dragon symbolizes the earthly kingdoms through which Satan works. In the context of Jesus’ life on earth (Rev 12:5), the Dragon represents the specific earthly empire when Jesus walked this earth – the Roman Empire.

2. It is the fourth animal of Daniel 7.

A previous article identified Daniel’s fourth animal as the Roman Empire. This section shows that the Dragon is the same as that fourth animal. Therefore, it also symbolizes the Roman Empire:

The description of the birth of the Beast (Rev 13:1-2) reveals the Dragon as the fourth animal in Daniel 7:

It is part of the series of kingdoms in Daniel.

Firstly, the Dragon is part of the series of kingdoms in Daniel 7 because it has 7 heads and 10 horns (Rev 12:3), the same number of heads and horns as the animals of Daniel 7 have in total.

Specifically, it is equivalent to the fourth animal.

Secondly, more specifically, the Dragon is the fourth animal in Daniel 7 because:

(a) It is mentioned together with the first three animals of Daniel 7 (the lion, bear, and leopard):

The Sea Beast receives something from each of four animals (Rev 13:2). It receives its appearance from the first three of the four animals in Daniel 7, the lion, bear, and leopard (Rev 13:2; Dan 7:3, 5, 6) but receives “his power and his throne and great authority” from the Dragon (Rev 13:2).

(c) ‘Dragon’ is a good name for the fourth animal of Daniel 7:

Daniel 7 does not say what kind of animal the fourth animal is 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). Sounds like a dragon.

(d) Like Daniel’s fourth animal, it creates the Antichrist:

Both the 11th horn of Daniel 7 and Revelation’s Sea Beast are described as the Antichrist, God’s main enemy on earth, cursing God and persecuting His people (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:6-8). Furthermore, both will only be destroyed when Christ returns (Dan 7:26-27; Rev 19:20). Therefore, they are one and the same entity.

We further notice that both the Dragon and Daniel’s fourth beast create this Antichrist:

            • In Daniel, the 11th horn grows out of the fourth animal.
            • In Revelation, the Dragon gives the Sea Beast its throne, power, and authority.

Therefore, the Revelation’s Dragon and Daniel’s fourth animal are one and the same.

For that reason, since a previous article identified Daniel’s fourth animal as the Roman Empire (see here), the Dragon symbolizes the Roman Empire.


In Revelation 12, in the context of the war in heaven, the Dragon is explicitly identified as Satan (Rev 12:7-9; cf. 20:2). That seems to contradict the conclusion above. But that is because Revelation 12 uses ‘Dragon’ as a symbol for Satan’s powers in a series of different wars with different participants.

The series of wars in Rev 12 begins before the birth of Christ and ends with the end-time persecution of God’s people. In every one of those wars, that chapter uses “dragon” as a symbol for Satan’s forces:

(A) First, the Dragon confronts the woman who is about to give birth to Christ (Rev 12:3-4). This woman here symbolizes God’s people before Christ’s birth.

(B) Once her Child is born, the Dragon attacks the Child but the Child is “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5).

(C) After the Child has been caught up, war breaks out in heaven between the Dragon and his angels, and Michael and his angels (Rev 12:7).

(D) After the Dragon has been defeated in heaven and thrown down to earth, it again attacks the woman (Rev 12:13-14, 6). She now represents God’s New Testament people. (Verses 6 and 14 describe the same period; the “time and times and half a time”. See here.)

(E) After the Earth has helped the woman (Rev 12:16), the Dragon “went off to make war with the rest of her children” (Rev 12:17). This refers to the end-time war against God’s people.

Therefore, in Rev 12, ‘Dragon’ does not always signify the Roman Empire.

For example, during the “time and times and half a time” (Rev 12:14) referred to in (D) above, “Dragon” signifies Satan’s forces. However, the “time and times and half a time” is the same as the 42 months during which the Sea Beast has authority (Rev 13:5). In other words, during this period, “Dragon” serves as an alternative symbol for the Sea Beast and does not represent the Roman Empire.

Similarly, in the war in heaven, the Drogan cannot signify the Roman Empire.

While Revelation 12 describes a series of wars, always using ‘Dragon’ as the symbol for Satan’s forces, Revelation 13 describes some of those same wars in more detail, more specifically analyzing Satan’s forces between the Dragon, the Sea Beast, the Earth Beast (Rev 13:11), and the Image of the Beast (Rev 13:15).

Revelation 13:1-2, which describes the birth of the Sea Beast, distinguishes between the Dragon and the Beast so that the Dragon now specifically symbolizes the Roman Empire and the Beast the organization that continued the authority of the Roman Empire after it had fragmented into various nations. See – the next article.

But when the Dragon is described in Rev 12:3 as having 7 heads and 10 horns, it represents the earthly kingdoms through which Satan works.

In Revelation, as in Daniel, heads and horns, heads and horns symbolize the kingdoms of the world (Rev 17:9-12).



  • 1
    The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the same as the beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire; it is not Antiochus Epiphanes.
  • 2
    Discussion of the prophecy and the four main interpretations
  • 3
    Critical scholars teach that Daniel was written after the events it claims to predict.
  • 4
    The ultimate purpose of this website is to explain the mark of the beast.
  • 5
    Does Revelation describe events chronologically? Must it be interpreted literally? The temple in heaven, Christ’s Return, Hear/See Combinations, and the Numbers in Revelation
  • 6
    There was a book in heaven that not even Christ was able to read because it was sealed up with seven seals. But, by overcoming, He became worthy to break the seven seals and open the book.
  • 7
    This is the apex of Revelation, providing an overview of history from before Christ until the end-time, with emphasis on the end-time persecution.
  • 8
    These plagues will follow after the end-time Christian persecution and will be followed by Christ’s return. What is the purpose of these?
  • 9
    Revelation has three beasts with seven heads and ten horns each; a great red dragon, the beast from the sea, and a scarlet beast.
  • 10
    Babylon is mentioned only once in the first 15 chapters but the seventh and final plague targets her specifically. Then Revelation 17 and 18 explain who and what she is.
  • 11
    The conclusion that Jesus is ‘God’ forms the basis of the Trinity Doctrine.
  • 12
    The decision to adopt the Trinity doctrine was not taken by the church.
  • 13
    Including Modalism, Eastern Orthodoxy view of the Trinity, Elohim, and Eternal Generation
  • 14
    Discussions of the Atonement – How does God do away with sin?
  • 15
    How people are put right with God
  • 16
    Must Christians observe the Law of Moses?
  • 17
    Must Christians observe the Sabbath?
  • 18
    Are the dead still alive and aware?
  • 19
    Will the lost be tormented in hell for all eternity?
  • 20
    And why does God not make an end to all evil?
  • 21
    Key events that transformed the church into an independent religion
  • 22
    When? How? Has His return been delayed?
  • 23
    I do not have any formal theological qualifications and I am not part of any religious organization. These articles are the result of my studies over many years.