Revelation 13 begins with the dragon standing on the sand of the seashore (Rev 13:1). Then, John saw “a beast coming up out of the sea.” The main purpose of this article is to identify this beast based on its description in Revelation 13:1-2.
This article first shows the many allusions in these two verses to the beasts in Daniel 7. For example, the beast “was like a leopard,” had “feet … like those of a bear,” and a “mouth like … a lion” (Rev 13:2). These are explicitly three of the four animals in Daniel 7:4-7. Based on this and other allusions, this article concludes that Revelation’s beast is part of the series of animals and horns in Daniel 7.
Next, this article focuses on the dragon from which the beast receives its authority (Rev 13:2). By comparing the dragon to the animals of Daniel 7, this article concludes that the dragon is the same as the fourth animal in Daniel 7.
This article then notes that another article identifies Daniel’s fourth beast as the Roman Empire. Consequently, Revelation’s beast receives “his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev 13:2) from the Roman Empire.
Next, the article identifies the beast as one of the horns that grow out of Daniel’s fourth beast. These horns symbolize the several kingdoms that came into existence after the fall of the Roman Empire. Indications that the beast is one of those horns include the following:
- It receives its authority from the fourth beast.
- It has crowns on its horns, implying that it exists during the time of the horns.
- It receives something from each of the four animals in Daniel 7, meaning that it comes to into existence AFTER those animals.
The final conclusion of this article is that the beast in the book of Revelation and the 11th horn of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 are two symbols for the same world power. While that 11th horn is the Antichrist in the book of Daniel, the beast is the Antichrist in the book of Revelation.
The main purpose of this article is to identify the beast in Revelation based on its description in Revelation 13:1-2. It will also identify the dragon and make a few brief observations about the seven heads of the dragon.
1. And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then I (John) saw a beast coming up out of the sea,
having ten horns and seven heads,
and on his horns were ten diadems,
and on his heads were blasphemous names.
2. And the beast which I saw 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.
John first describes the horns and heads and then the beast’s body. Perhaps, as the beast rose from the sea, John first saw the horns, then the heads, and then the body.
“Diadems” is an untranslated Greek word, meaning crowns of rulers, in contrast to the victory crowns of the Olympics [stephanoi] as in, for example, “the crown of life” (Rev 2:10).
“Power … throne … authority” are related terms and perhaps describe one single concept.
The beast does not have its own authority or power. It received its “power … throne and great authority” from the dragon (Rev 13:2).
Who stood on the sand?
According to some older translations, such as the King James Version, John himself stood on the sand of the seashore (13:1). However, the earliest manuscripts of Revelation read “he,” which would refer to the dragon mentioned in the previous verse (Rev 12:17). Therefore, in modern translations, the dragon stood on the sand. Such a translation also fits the story-line better:
In Revelation 13, the dragon, the sea beast, and the land beast work together (e.g., Rev 13:4; 13:11-12). If it is the dragon who stood on the sand of the seashore, then it tells us how the three came together:
In Revelation 12, after the earth protected the woman against the dragon, the dragon “went off to make war with the rest of her children” (Rev 12:17).
It goes to the shore of the sea to secure reinforcements. From the vantage point of the “seashore,” it is then first joined by the beast from the sea (Rev 13:1) and later by a beast from the earth (Rev 13:11).
The animals of Daniel 7
In Daniel 7, “four great beasts were coming up from the sea” (Dan 7:3). These were a lion, a bear, a leopard, and “a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” (Dan 7:4-7). These four animals are explained as “four kings who will arise from the earth” (Dan 7:17). Since “the fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom” (Dan 7:23), a “king” represents a “kingdom.” In other words, these four animals symbolize four kingdoms.
The fourth animal “had ten horns” (Dan 7:7). This is explained as that, “out of this kingdom ten kings will arise” (Dan 7:24). Consequently, while each of the first three kingdoms will be replaced by one single kingdom, the fourth will be replaced by “ten kings.” “Kings” may also here be understood to mean kingdoms. The number “ten” probably is a symbol (e.g., Dan 1:20); meaning “many.”
For purpose of clarity, this article reserves the term beast for Revelation’s beast and refers to the creatures in Daniel 7 as animals.
Allusions to Daniel 7
In the description of the beast (Rev 13:1-2), there are several strong allusions to the animals of Daniel 7, including:
1) Both the beast and the animals in Daniel 7 come up out of the sea (Dan 7:3).
2) Four animals are mentioned in the description of the beast (Rev 13:2) and there are also four animals in Daniel 7.
3) The beast has characteristics of three animals (a lion, a bear, and a leopard) (Rev 13:2) and these are explicitly the first three animals in Daniel 7 (Dan 7:4-6).
4) The beast has the same number of heads and horns as that the four animals of Daniel 7 have in total, namely, seven heads and ten horns:
Seven heads – While the other three animals have one head each, the leopard has four heads (Dan 7:5), giving seven in total.
Ten horns – The fourth animal has ten horns (Dan 7:7), while the other three have none.
(Heads also symbolize kingdoms. For example, the four horns of the male goat in Daniel 8:8 are interpreted as the four kingdoms into which the empire of Alexander the Great was divided after his death, but these same four kingdoms are symbolized in Daniel 7 as the four heads of the leopard (Dan 7:6).)
These allusions in the description of the beast in Revelation 13:1-2 to the animals of Daniel 7 are perhaps the strongest allusions to the Old Testament one would find anywhere in the book of Revelation. They are not a coincidence but have the following implications:
1) Part of the series
The series of beasts and horns in Daniel 7 covers the time from ancient Babylon (cf. Dan 2:37-39) until Christ’s return (Dan 7:26-27). The strong allusions listed above imply that the beast is part of that series of animals and horns.
2) A Human Organization
The beast comes out of the sea (Rev 13:1). In Daniel 7, the sea is equivalent to “the earth” (Dan 7:2, 17), symbolizing the people of the world. In other words, the animals in Daniel are organizations of the people of the world. By implication, the sea in Revelation 13:1 also represents the peoples of the world and the beast is another organization of the people of the world.
2. The dragon is the fourth animal.
A further allusion to Daniel 7 is that the dragon, which gave the beast “his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev 13:2), is the same as the fourth animal in Daniel 7. This statement is argued as follows:
1. Since the dragon also has seven heads and ten horns (Rev 12:3; 13:1) – equal to the total number of heads and horns in Daniel 7 – it is, similar to the beast, part of the series of animals and horns in Daniel 7. Their seven heads and ten horns identify the dragon and the beast as two instances of the same species, and that species is defined in Daniel 7. Both of them are facets of the sequence of kingdoms in Daniel 7.
2. In Revelation, the beast receives something from each of four animals (Rev 13:2). There are also four animals in Daniel 7. Since three of the animals from which the beast receives something (the lion, bear, and leopard) are explicitly three of the animals in Daniel 7, it is implied that the fourth animal from which the beast receives something (the dragon) is the fourth animal in Daniel 7.
3. Daniel 7 does not say what kind of animal the fourth is but describes it as “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth” (Dan 7:7). “Dragon” is a good name for such an animal.
The dragon, therefore, is the same as the fourth animal in Daniel 7. The dragon is also identified as Satan (Rev 12:9), but that is in a different context. Revelation 12 uses “dragon” as a symbol for Satan’s forces during a series of wars, for example:
- Against the woman, before the time of Christ (Rev 12:1-4);
- Against Christ, after He was born (Rev 12:5);
- Against Michael, in the war in heaven, after Christ ascended to God (Rev 12:7-13).
- Against the woman again, after the dragon was thrown out of heaven (Rev 12:14-16), and lastly,
- Against “the rest of her children” (Rev 12:17).
The identification of the dragon as Satan in 12:9 is appropriate for that specific context, for that verse describes the war in heaven. But, in other wars, “the dragon” also symbolizes the authorities on earth through which Satan works, for the dragon has seven heads and ten horns, and both the heads and horns represent kings (or kingdoms) (Rev 17:9-10, 12). Revelation 13 elaborates on chapter 12 and shows the different entities involved in the end-time war.
3. The fourth animal is the Roman Empire
In Daniel 7, four animals come up from the sea; one after the other. They symbolize four successive empires that would rule the world; at least the world as experienced by God’s people. Another article compares the animals of Daniel 7 and 8 and concludes as follows:
|First animal – a lion (Dan 7:4)||Babylonian Empire|
|Second animal – a bear (Dan 7:5)||Medo-Persian Empire|
|Third animal – a four-headed leopard (Dan 7:6)||Grecian Empire of Alexander the Great|
|Fourth “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” animal (Dan 7:7)||Roman Empire|
This is also the traditional and conservative interpretation of the four animals of Daniel 7. Since it has been shown above that (1) the dragon is the fourth animal of Daniel 7 and (2) that that fourth animal is the Roman Empire, it follows that the dragon symbolizes the Roman Empire. Consequently, the beast receives “his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev 13:2) from the Roman Empire. (For a further discussion, see – The Seven-headed Beasts of Revelation.)
4. The Beast is one of the ten horns.
So far, we have concluded as follows:
- The strong allusions to Daniel 7 imply that the sea beast is part of the series of beasts of Daniel 7.
- The dragon is the fourth beast in Daniel 7.
- That fourth beast is the Roman Empire.
Consequently, the many horns that will grow out of the fourth animal (Dan 7:7, 24) symbolize the many kingdoms into which the Roman Empire fragmented in the fifth and later centuries. This section continues the identification of the beast by showing that the beast is one of those fragments.
Firstly, the following shows that the beast arises during the time of the horns of Daniel 7:
(a) The Beast’s Authority
Since the beast receives its “power … throne and great authority” (Rev 13:2) from the dragon (Rev 13:2), and since the dragon is the fourth animal in Daniel 7, the beast receives its authority from that fourth animal. This implies that the beast exists in time after the fourth animal.
While the dragon has diadems (ruler crowns) on its heads, the sea beast has diadems on its horns (Rev 12:3; 13:1). The allusions to Daniel 7, as listed above, require us to interpret these crowns in terms of Daniel 7. In that chapter, there first are four animals with seven heads in total. After the last animal follows ten horns. Therefore:
The crowns on the heads of the dragon imply that it exists during the time of the heads in Daniel 7. Since the seven heads are subdivisions of the four animal-kingdoms, this means that the dragon exists during the time of the four animal-kingdoms. As already stated, the dragon is equivalent to the fourth beast.
The crowns on the horns of the beast mean that it exists during the time of the horns of Daniel 7.
(c) The Beast’s Appearance
The sea beast receives (Rev 13:2):
- A body like the leopard;
- Feet like the bear;
- A mouth like the lion; and
- “Power … and great authority” from the dragon.
Since the beast receives something from each of these four animals, it arises in the time after them. Since the dragon is the fourth animal of Daniel 7, the beast arises during the time of the horns.
Since the beast arises during the time of the horns, and since the beast must be interpreted as part of the series of animals and horns in Daniel 7, the beast is one of the horns of Daniel’s fourth animal. In other words, it is one of the kingdoms into which the Roman Empire fragmented after the fall of Rome (Dan 7:24). It receives its authority from the Roman Empire and, therefore, is the continuation of Roman authority.
The description of the beast coming up out of the sea refers to the beginning of its existence. Since it is one of the kingdoms into which the Roman Empire fragmented, it came into existence after that empire began to fragment in the fifth century AD.
5. The beast is evil 11th horn.
We are able to identify the beast even more specifically. In Daniel 7, after ten horns have grown out of the fourth animal, an eleventh little horn comes up that grows to become larger than all the other horns. This website sometimes refers to it as the evil horn because it blasphemes the Most High, persecutes His people, and is only destroyed when Christ returns (Dan 7:8, 24-27).
This 11th horn is the main character and purpose of Daniel 7. An analysis of that chapter will show that the only reason that Daniel 7 mentions the preceding four animals and ten horns is so that the reader would be able to identify that 11th horn.
Above, it was argued that the beast is one of the horns of the fourth animal. For the following reasons, the beast is specifically the evil 11th horn:
If we use the term Antichrist to refer to the main opponent of God on earth, both the 11th horn and the beast are described as the Antichrist. For example:
- Both are described as the main power that opposes God.
- Both blaspheme God and persecute His people (e.g., Dan 7:21, 25; Rev 13:6-7).
- Both are only destroyed when Christ returns (Dan 7:26-27; Rev 19:11, 20).
(b) Time, times, and half a time
Revelation’s beast was given “authority to act for forty-two months” (Rev 13:5). In Daniel, “the saints of the Highest One… will be given into his (the evil horn’s) hand for a time, times, and half a time” (Dan 7:25). As discussed elsewhere, the 42 months refer to the same period as the “time, times and a half.”
For these reasons, it is concluded that the beast (Rev 13:1) and the evil 11th horn of Daniel 7 are symbols of the same world power. The book of Revelation is built on the prophecies of Daniel. The same applies to this antichrist-horn. Revelation incorporates it into its visions but provides additional information about it.
This is only a preliminary identification of the beast based on the first two verses of Revelation 13. The beast is identified more specifically in one of the further articles in this series.
Above, we identified the dragon and the beast. But we have not yet explained the seven heads or the ten horns.
A common mistake of commentators is to assume that the seven heads and ten horns in Revelation are the same as the seven heads and ten horns in Daniel. They are not the same. For example:
1. In Daniel 7, the ten horns are followed by an eleventh horn which is described as the Antichrist and which uproots three of the ten horns as it came up (Dan 7:8). Therefore, there are not really 10 horns in Daniel 7. And, while the 11th horn is the main character in Daniel 7, there is no mention of an 11th horn in Revelation.
2. In Revelation, the sixth head exists after five “have fallen” (Rev 17:10). That sixth head cannot be the sixth head in Daniel 7 because, in that chapter, the sixth head is the fourth head of the leopard. The four heads of the leopard symbolize the four empires into which Alexander’s Greek Empire was divided, and they existed simultaneously. The last one does not exist after the others have fallen.
3. While the ten horns in Daniel 7 symbolize the fragments into which the Roman Empire has been divided, the ten horns in Revelation are limited to the end-time. For example, they “will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked” (Rev 17:16).
4. The ten horns in Revelation are described in Revelation 17:12-17 and there simply is no similarity with the ten horns in Daniel 7.
Revelation takes things from the Old Testament but gives them new meanings. For example, in the Old Testament, the ancient city of Babylon was built on the river Euphrates. In Revelation, Babylon becomes the name for the harlot and the Euphrates becomes “the waters which you saw where the harlot sits,” symbolizing “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (Rev 17:15). In the same way, the heads and horns in Daniel receive different meanings in the book of Revelation.
The seven heads and ten horns are not discussed in the current article. They are discussed in the series of articles on Revelation 17.