A beast that rose up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns

The Beast (Revelation)

The Beast of Revelation is the beast who comes from "out of the sea" as seen in apocalyptic visions by John the Apostle in the New Testament. The Beast is first mentioned in Revelation 11:7 as coming out of the abyss. His appearance is described in detail in Revelation 13:1-10 and some of the mystery behind his appearance is revealed in Revelation 17:7-18. The Beast is aligned with The Dragon and The False Prophet; all three who can project demons into the world in order to gather kings for Armageddon. In Christian eschatology the union of these three beings has been termed "".

The Beast in Revelation

Beast from the sea

The Beast comes out of the sea, from the abyss, where he is greeted by the Dragon at the shoreline. The Beast has the appearance of a male leopard having seven heads with blasphemous names written on them. All seven heads have at least one horn, but the number of horns is ten in all, each crowned with a diadem. The seven heads of the Beast represent seven kings who have kingdoms, and the ten horns are ten authority figures who are like kings but do not have kingdoms. The mouths of the Beast resemble that of a lion’s mouth and his feet are like bear paws. (Revelation 13:1-10)

Beast from the earth

The Beast from the sea is assisted by a second beast who comes out of the earth whose overall appearance is not described, other than having two horns like that of a lamb. His purpose is to promote the authority of the Beast with the ability of performing great signs, even making fire come down out of heaven. He also speaks like a dragon commanding the people of the Earth to make an image of the beast from the sea and to worship him. It is declared that anyone who does not worship the Beast or its image would be killed, even beheaded. The lamb-horned beast from the earth also ensures that everyone under this power bears the "mark" of the Beast on either the right hand or forehead. (Revelation 13:11-16)

Image of the Beast

Those who dwell on the Earth are deceived into making an image of the Beast as a means to worship his authority. It is the lamb-horned beast who breathes life into the "image of the beast", so that the image becomes alive and is able to speak. It also declares death to anyone who does not worship the authority of the Beast. (Revelation 13:14-15) Those who are killed for not conforming to the authority of the Beast are blessed through the "first resurrection" that allows them to rule in Christ's presence as priests during the one thousand year reign. The Second Death has no power over these individuals who were victorious over the Beast by not being deceived, even though they lost their lives on Earth by his authority. (Revelation 20:4-6)

Mark of the Beast

The Beast from the sea also bears a name but is not given anywhere in the book of Revelation. However, his name does have a numerical value, that of the number 666. His name's numerical value is equal to the name of a particular man. The significance of the name of the Beast is that the people under his power must have his name present on their right hand or forehead, thus bearing a mark. The "mark" can be identified by either his written name, or the numerical value of his name. Without this identification, one could not buy or sell. (Revelation 13:16-18)

Fate of the Beast

The Beast gathers the kings of the earth and their armies to prepare for war against He who sits on a white horse. The battle results in the Beast being seized, along with the False Prophet, where they are thrown alive into the lake of fire. Those against the "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" are killed and left for the birds. (Revelation 19:11-21) In the lake of fire, the Beast and the False Prophet are tormented day and night forever and ever. The Dragon joins them a little more than a millennium later after the great war.

Identity of the Beast from the sea

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Preterist view

Preterist interpretations, a theological position advocated by most academic scholars, generally identify the First Beast with Imperial Rome, particularly with Nero.

These teachings hold that Nero, the emperor at the time John was writing the book, is the sixth king "who is". Suetonius’ and Josephus' enumeration of the emperors was: Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius (the five kings who have fallen at the time that John is writing), Nero (one "who is"), and Galba - one who "has not yet come, but when he does come, he must remain for a little while" - six months (Rev. 17:10). Moreover, Rome was known in antiquity as the city of seven hills (Rev. 13:1, Rev. 17:9) and Revelation was a warning about events that were "shortly" to take place (Rev. 1:1).

In Rev. 13:5-8, the Beast was given a mouth speaking in blasphemies against God and His Name. Inscriptions have been found in Ephesus in which Nero is called "Almighty God" and "Savior". In verse 4, the Beast is worshipped by the world alongside the Dragon that gave it Authority. Nero and Caligula "abandoned all reserve" in promoting emperor worship – they were the only two who demanded divine honors while still alive. Nero claimed to be the sun-god Apollo.

Finally, the readers of Revelation were told to "calculate the number of the Beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six" (Rev. 13:18). Since the Book of Revelation was written to a first-century audience, sometime in late 64 AD, John did not expect that his readers "who had understanding" to have any difficulty identifying the beast, since they could simply calculate the meaning of this cryptogram. "Neron Kaisar" (the Greek rendering, documented by archaeological finds), when transliterated into Hebrew נרון קסר (Nrwn Qsr) had a number of 666. The variant number 616 found in some manuscripts of the Greek text of Revelation may represent the alternative Hebrew spelling נרו קסר (Nrw Qsr) based on the Latin form "Nero Caesar". The variant probably existed to keep consistent the meaning of Nero as the Beast.

Historicist view

Historicists such as the Protestant Reformers and the modern Seventh-day Adventist Church identifies the first Beast with the Papacy. According to adherents of this view, the "image to the beast" represents Protestant churches which will form an alliance with the Papacy, and the "mark of the beast" refers to a future universal Sunday law. Some Adventists have interpreted the number of the beast, 666, as corresponding to the title Vicarius Filii Dei of the Pope. In 1866, Uriah Smith was the first to propose the interpretation to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. See Review and Herald 28:196, November 20, 1866. In The United States in the Light of Prophecy he wrote

The pope wears upon his pontifical crown in jeweled letters, this title: "Vicarius Filii Dei ," "Viceregent of the Son of God;" the numerical value of which title is just six hundred and sixty-six The most plausible supposition we have ever seen on this point is that here we find the number in question. It is the number of the beast, the papacy; it is the number of his name, for he adopts it as his distinctive title; it is the number of a man, for he who bears it is the "man of sin."

Prominent Adventist scholar J. N. Andrews also adopted this view. Uriah Smith maintained his interpretation in the various editions of Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, which was influential in the church.

Various documents from the Vatican do contain wording such as "Adorandi Dei Filii Vicarius, et Procurator quibus numen aeternum summam Ecclesiae sanctae dedit" Which as translated is "As the worshipful Son of God's Vicar and Caretaker, to whom the eternal divine will has given the highest rank of the holy Church".

Samuele Bacchiocchi, an Adventist scholar, rejects the tiara claim but has documented the pope using such a title.

Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers and additional Catholic sources disagree with the above argument claiming "Vicarius Filii Dei, although it adds up to 666, is not a title of the pope"

Pre-Seventh-day Adventist Historicists who identify the Papacy as the Beast include Reformers such as John Wycliff and Martin Luther, as well as other prominent figures such as Isaac Newton.


The Idealist interpreter's view of the Beast and all images in the book of Revelation are considered non-literal symbols. The Idealist does not consider these prophecies to have a literal, physical, earthly sense in either the past, present or future. However, in some idealist circles, some have suggested that the Beast represents different social injustices, such as: exploitation of workers, wealth, the elite, commerce, materialism, and imperialism. Various Christian anarchists, such as Jacques Ellul, have associated the State and political power as "the Beast".

Alternative views

Identity of lamb-horned beast from the earth

This earth-beast has been variously identified as:

By Preterists

By Historicists

See also


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