13:1 the sea. Quite possibly, “the sea” in John’s understanding would mean the Mediterranean Sea, which surrounded his Isle of Patmos. The ascending “beast,” therefore presumably will come from “the sea of peoples” associated with that particular sea in one way or another.
13:1 beast. This beast is not the dragon, but a man (compare Revelation 13:4,18). However, his appearance is almost identical with that of the dragon (see Revelation 12:3), indicating that he is in a distinct sense related to the dragon. He is called “the son of perdition” in II Thessalonians 2:3, as well as “the man of sin.” Daniel calls him “the prince that shall come,” Isaiah calls him “the wicked” and Christ calls him “the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 11:4; Matthew 24:15). John simply calls him “the beast.”
13:1 ten horns. There is one significant difference between the description of the dragon and that of the beast. The dragon had seven crowns (representing kings) on his seven heads (representing their kingdoms). The beast had ten crowns on the ten horns. This suggests that the seven heads were historical kingdoms, the ten horns future kingdoms, their kings receiving crowns only after the seven historical kings and kingdoms have passed from the scene of power. The probable identity of the past kingdoms would be Sumeria, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Each of these was, successively, the greatest kingdom in the world in its day, and the greatest enemy of God and His people. The ten kingdoms of the last days remain to be identified in the future, but all seventeen are pictured as controlled by the beast and the dragon, rejecting Christ and blaspheming God.
13:2 beast which I saw. This hybrid beast—part lion, part bear, part leopard, part dragon—is a composite of the three beasts of Daniel 7:1-6, being itself the nondescript fourth beast of Daniel 7:7. The latter will have gained supremacy over the other three, which seem to represent respectively the western confederacy, the northern confederacy and the eastern confederacy (see notes on Daniel 7).
13:3 as it were wounded to death. This “beast” (who is actually a Satan-possessed man) is said to have ascended “out of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 11:7). Satan had enabled him to counterfeit a resurrection from death, as it were, the two parallel “resurrections” creating such great admiration in the world as to elicit global submission and worship. For reasons noted later (see notes on Revelation 17), this revived kingdom may well be ancient Babel, restored as the great world capital of the beast. Both the beast and the head of the beast (both the man and the ancient kingdom) will appear to have been mortally wounded, but both will seemingly be miraculously restored.
13:4 worshipped the dragon. By this time, the ungodly men and women still living on the earth will have become fully aware of the cosmic dimensions of the imminent conflict and will have deliberately chosen to cast their lot with Satan and the beast rather than with God. They will all become Satanists, worshipping Satan (or Lucifer, as they may prefer to call him) as god. The current meteoric rise in occultism and even Satanism, as well as the great increase in bitter opposition to Christianity, is an ominous prelude to what is coming. It may well be that the amazing mania for dinosaurs, especially among young people, is an indicator of an innate tendency to dragon-worship.
13:8 book of life. See notes on Revelation 3:5; 20:15. Also see Revelation 21:27; 22:19.
13:8 foundation of the world. On the pre-creation plan of God, see Ephesians 1:4; Acts 15:18; Titus 1:2; I Corinthians 2:7; II Timothy 1:9; I Peter 1:20; and John 17:5,24.
13:9 let him hear. The interjection of Revelation 13:9-10 in the midst of this account of the triumph of the beast harks back to the messages to the seven churches (Revelation 2:7; etc.). It is a note of exhortation and encouragement to the tribulation “saints” (Revelation 13:7,10) who will shortly be facing either submission to the beast or martyrdom.
13:11 another beast. The second beast will be, in effect, the minister of religion in the cabinet of the first beast, consolidating all the religious systems of the world in one syncretistic world religion of occultic pantheistic evolutionary humanism, just as the first beast will consolidate all the governments of the world into a one-world government. The second beast is later called “the false prophet,” and will evidently first come into prominence as a remarkable prophet, able to perform “signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24; II Thessalonians 2:9), doing so, of course, “after the working of Satan” and his evil spirits.
13:11 like a lamb. Like the first beast, who will initially seem to have a very charismatic personality and will “come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Daniel 11:21), the second beast will first appear like a lamb, gentle and winsome, only later revealing his dragon-like character.
13:13 fire come down from heaven. This is undoubtedly a “lying wonder,” performed by the help of the powerful spirits who roam the atmosphere and have knowledge of its electrical phenomena and how to control them (note Job 1:16). The two witnesses, like Elijah (I Kings 18:36–38), will have been able to call down real fire from heaven (Revelation 11:5), and the false prophet will desire to demonstrate to a still-intimidated populace that he has similar powers.
13:14 image to the beast. Apparently, all people will be required to make or buy small household replicas of the great image of the beast. The original image will be set up in the temple at Jerusalem (Matthew 24:24; II Thessalonians 2:4). Perhaps in some way (no doubt easily achieved in an age of electronically controlled and transmitted information), the loyalty of each household to the beast and his image can be monitored at a central data bank.
13:15 give life. This pseudo-life in the image must also be a lying wonder, since only God can create life. However, if complex audio-animatronix equipment of some kind is designed and constructed within the image, programmed with the capacity to produce word-like sounds, and if a powerful spiritual intelligence in the Satanic hierarchy possesses the image body (as demons have often possessed human bodies and controlled their utterances, making use of the vocal apparatus), then it could certainly be made to appear that the image was alive and speaking intelligently.
13:16 mark. The mark of the beast, which will be universally required for all transactions, will insure loyalty to the beast, but will also assure an eternal destination in hell for all who accept it (Revelation 14:9-11). This will be some kind of indelible marking, easy to see and impossible to remove.
13:17 number of his name. Maybe there will be three different types of marks, to distinguish three different classes of world citizens.
13:18 understanding. This information is evidently intended for people living before the beast is openly identified by his seven-year covenant with Israel. Thus, he will probably have become an important and influential political leader even before the rapture of the church, and Christians—as well as others—need to be warned not to be deceived by his charismatic personality.
13:18 number of a man. The beast appears to be a man, not a church or other kind of body; he has a name, and that name has a number (Revelation 13:17). In fact, every word in the Greek language (in which John wrote the book of Revelation) has a number, since every letter corresponds also to a number. That is, “alpha” (a) also signifies “1,” “beta” (b) signifies “2,” etc. To “count” the number of a word, one would simply total the numbers of its individual letters. Even though other languages don’t follow this system, the New Testament Greek language did, and it should normally be easy enough to transliterate any certain name into its Greek equivalent, and then to add the corresponding numbers (i.e., “Al” in English would become al, or “alpha lambda” in Greek equivalence, with a number value of 31). Although about one in every ten thousand names would add to 666, if any potential world leader’s name has this value, one should be extremely cautious about believing or following him.