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 Rev 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 Rev 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 (Rev 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 (Rev 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 (Rev 17:3), as indicated by the following:

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

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

        • The seven heads are … seven kings;
        • five have fallen,
        • one is,
        • the other has not yet come” (Rev 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 (Rev 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 (Rev 17:3) / in abyss (Rev 17:8) / is not (Rev 17:8)
      7. Sea beast worshiped after the fatal wound has been healed (Rev 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 (Rev 20:2). The primary functions of the beast are to blaspheme God and to persecute the saints (Rev 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 Rev 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 Rev 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 Rev 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 Rev 12:16, the earth helps the woman and the dragon suffers another defeat. Therefore, in Rev 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
” (Rev 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 storyline 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” (Rev 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 Rev 13:1-7 are all in the past tense, compared to Rev 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 Rev 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) is mentioned in Rev 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” (Rev 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
” (Rev 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” (Rev 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” (Matt 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 Rev 12:9.

The seven-headed beasts in Revelation are three of the seven heads.

PURPOSE

DragonIn 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.

SUMMARY

SEVEN KINGS

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

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,
one is,
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:

      1. Firstly, 17:11 explicitly states that “the beast … is one of the seven” heads.
      2. Secondly, both the seven heads and the seven-headed beasts represent different phases of human history.
      3. Thirdly, when one of the heads receives a fatal wound, we are told that one of the beasts receives the wound.
      4. 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.

DEADLY WOUND

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.