New Defender's Study Bible Notes
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.