And [the dragon] stood upon the sand of the sea. And I saw out of the sea a beast rising, having ten horns and seven heads and ten diadems on its horns, and names of blasphemy upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and the its feet was like a bear’s, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave to it his power and his throne and great authority. And one of its heads was as having been slain to death, and the wound of its death was healed. And all the earth marveled after the beast.
This first beast is what we refer to as “the Antichrist”. In this chapter we find John using an insurmountable amount of Old Testament prophecy. The symbolism, like we’ve seen through all of Revelation, takes root in Old Testament symbolism, and therefore we need to know what is being referenced to know what is being spoken of. For the description in verses 1-2, we can go back to Daniel 7:3-8. Before coming into the text and trying to behold all of the different Old Testament allusions, let us first wrestle with the ‘why’ question. Why does John not give us this information up front?
We have read through 12 chapters by this point. We’ve seen Jesus in His glory, read the messages to the churches, seen the heavenly throne room, seen the Lamb that has been slain, watched as the seals were opened, been given an introduction to the 144,000, seen the trumpets, been given understanding of some ‘beast’ that comes out of the abyss, been shown the two witnesses, and we’ve seen the woman in the wilderness being chased by Satan who has just been cast down. Why does all of this come before even introducing this ‘beast’ character?
Understand what I’m asking. We see in Rev 9:11 and 11:7 allusions to this character, and we see the dragon explicitly in Revelation 12, but now – after over halfway through the book – John begins to tell us of this beast. Why? And, when we continue reading we find that it isn’t until chapter 17 that we have the conclusion of this explanation. Why must we wait until chapter 17 before we finally see the complete picture of this composite beast? Here is our first significant discussion of the Antichrist. He is always there, but lurking in the shadows behind metaphor. Now he is revealed and out in the open. Why now?
There is a progression that John is keeping here. He first focuses upon Jesus, then the church, and then we go back to God and Jesus. It isn’t until we reach chapter 6 that there is significant discussion on the end of time. From chapters 6 through 12, the focus is almost exclusively upon Israel and what is to come upon Israel (chapter 9 might also revolve around the nations around Israel). Little by little John has been revealing to us the depth of this mystery. It started out as a statement of they who are to overcome, and progressed toward the Olivet discourse being reiterated. From there we were introduced to Israel having a significant role (the 144,000). From that mention onward we see that there is indeed more blatant mention of Jerusalem in Revelation 9 and 11. Then, in chapter 12, there is almost explicit mention of Israel as the woman, if we are willing to see the correlation between Rev 12:1 and Gen 37:9.
Here enters a new depth. The Antichrist here is not in Rome. This isn’t a Roman Antichrist. We saw in Revelation 11 that this beast is in Jerusalem. We saw in Revelation 9:1-13 that he takes Jerusalem captive. The description here is not something outside of what has been explained up to this point. We are still at the midway point in the week. Just like when you go back to Daniel 7:25 you read of “time, times, and half a time”, the timeframe here is 42 months according to verse 5.
The four beasts of Daniel 7 correspond to the four elements in the statue of Daniel 2. We have Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Then, both Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 have an extra component. Daniel 2 mentions that the feet are of iron and clay. Daniel 7 mentions a ‘little horn’. This beast here in Revelation 13 is that ‘little horn’. His kingdom is the mixture of iron and clay. How do we get past the Roman Empire? How do we know this isn’t a Caesar? The answer is again very simple. Notice Daniel 7 separates and distinguishes all of the beasts. Yet, here John makes them one. This is a composite beast. He is somehow ‘with’ the beasts of Daniel 7, but is also somehow a hybrid. This is mentioned in Rev 17:9-11.
We shall explain the mystery of the seven heads and ten horns when we reach Rev 17. If we add the amount of heads in Daniel 7’s beasts, we come to seven. That is not the mystery expressed in Revelation 17. Yet, we see again that this goes back to the fact that this is a composite, and is not to be taken as one of the beasts specifically. The seven heads and ten horns description was given to the dragon in 12:3. At the end of verse 13:2 we read of this beast having Satan’s throne. This is the mystery of iniquity Paul spoke of (2 Thess 2:7), as opposed to the mystery of godliness (1 Tim 3:16). Some believe this to be Satan incarnate. I hold to a less radical approach that this man is the image of Satan (John 1:14, 18), but not Satan. See Rev 16:13 where we have distinction between the dragon, Antichrist, and false prophet – how can they be the same?
Notice in 12:3 that the heads are mentioned before the horns, and that the crowns are upon the heads of the dragon. There are seven kingdoms that the dragon has manifest his name upon – the kingdom of darkness upon the earth. We’ll discuss this more fully in chapter 17, but know that this is almost exclusively known as “Babylon” in Revelation.
Notice that on each head is a blasphemous name. Daniel 7:8, 8:11, 25, and 11:36 all speak of one man who shall be full of boasts and blasphemy. He is identified as the ‘little horn’ and the ‘vile prince’. He is the Antichrist of Daniel, and here John is also using similar language to reveal this as the Antichrist.
The man ‘comes out of the sea’. Compare Isaiah 27:1 where God slays the Leviathan. There is great likelihood of some sort of connection.
In verse 2 we read of one mouth being like a lion. Instead of this being a plastic image, I think that we are dealing with symbolic language. There are seven heads, this is true, but those seven heads represent something. This is one man, and not seven, and it is one mouth, not seven. “The dragon gave to it his power and throne” – compare Daniel 8:24 and 11:21.
Notice that ως εσφαγμενην has already been used in 5:6 in reference to the Lamb. There are a few possibilities. 1) This man has been resurrected. 2) This is an allusion to Genesis 3:15. 3) One of the seven ‘kingdoms’ has ‘died’ and resurrected (17:9-11). In verse 14 this wound is referenced to the beast, and not merely one head. 17:8 calls the beast ‘he who was, is not, and yet will come’. Here we have our answer. The beasts in Daniel have all perished, but one will come as a composite of all four. The kingdoms of the vision in Daniel are all manifestations of the kingdom of darkness upon earth, but none have been so united with Satan as this one. It is not that this Antichrist will resurrect, but that we shall again see the kingdom of darkness upon the earth when Satan is cast down.
Thus, instead of being a resurrected man, now incarnate Satan, I promote the idea that there are types in the Bible. Korah, King Saul, and Judas are the three ‘types’ of Antichrist. We see specifically in King Saul and Judas that Satan “enters them”. With King Saul we see the pattern of some sort of political leader being overcome by Satan to persecute the Davidic people of God. With Judas we see the pattern of one of the companions – see Psalm 55:13, 20 in relation to Saul – of Jesus contending against him. I don’t know that I agree with the idea of a Jewish Antichrist or false prophet, but I can see where such things could be validated. Korah, of course, wasn’t content to be a Levite, but had to also have the priesthood. His destruction was that the earth itself opened and swallowed him. Judas was called the man of perdition (John 17:12), which the Antichrist is labeled in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Those are the only two usages of that Greek word in the New Testament. Also compare John 13:27 with Revelation 13:2 with 2 Thessalonians 2:9. This man is not Satan incarnate, but one with Satan as Jesus was ‘one with the Father’.
 The original says “and he”, but it goes back to the dragon of 12:17.