The Beast from the Sea
Then I saw a [vicious] beast coming up out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten royal [b]crowns (diadems), and on his heads were blasphemous names. 2 And the beast that I saw resembled a [c]leopard, but his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth was like that of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. 3 I saw one of his heads which seemed to have a fatal wound, but his fatal wound was healed; and the entire earth followed after the beast in amazement. 4 They fell down and worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; they also worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like (as great as) the beast, and who is able to wage war against him?” 5 And the beast was given a mouth (the power of speech), uttering great things and arrogant and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom and authority to act and to do as he pleased for [d]forty-two months (three and a half years).(B) 6 And he opened his mouth to speak blasphemies (abusive speech, slander) against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who live in heaven.
7 He was also [e]permitted to wage war against the saints (God’s people) and to overcome them, and authority and power over every tribe and people and language and nation.(C) 8 All the inhabitants of the earth will fall down and worship him, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who has been slain [as a willing sacrifice]. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is destined for captivity, he will go into captivity; if anyone kills with a sword, he must be killed with a sword. Here is [the call for] the patient endurance and the faithfulness of the saints [which is seen in the response of God’s people to difficult times].(D)
The Beast from the Earth
11 Then I saw [f]another beast rising up out of the earth; he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke like a dragon.(E) 12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence [when the two are together]. And he makes the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs (awe-inspiring acts), even making fire fall from the sky to the earth, right before peoples’ eyes. 14 And he deceives those [unconverted ones] who inhabit the earth [into believing him] because of the signs which he is given [by Satan] to perform in the presence of the [first] beast, telling those who inhabit the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded [fatally] by the sword and has come back to life.(F) 15 And he is given power to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast will even [appear to] speak, and cause those who do not bow down and worship the image of the beast to be put to death.(G) 16 Also he compels all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead [signifying allegiance to the beast], 17 and that no one will be able to buy or sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let the person who has enough insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the [imperfect] number of a man; [g]and his number is [h]six hundred and sixty-six.
- Revelation 13:1 The dragon, who is Satan, stands at the head of an unholy, idolatrous trinity, comprised also of the first beast, who is the Antichrist (vv 1-10) and has a healed wound, and the second beast, who is the false prophet and deceives unbelievers to worship Antichrist through false signs (vv 11-18).
- Revelation 13:1 The symbol of political, royal, or military power.
- Revelation 13:2 These animals are mentioned in Dan 7:4-6, where the leopard represents Greece, the bear Medo-Persia, and the lion Babylon.
- Revelation 13:5 The last half of the Tribulation.
- Revelation 13:7 Lit given.
- Revelation 13:11 See note v 1.
- Revelation 13:18 Regardless of the earthly power of the two beasts (the demonically controlled Antichrist/dictator and his false prophet) described in these verses, they and their mentor, Satan, fall far short of the power, perfection, and majesty of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, whose perfection is represented biblically by the number seven.
- Revelation 13:18 This is not actually three sixes (or the equivalent in Greek or Hebrew letters), as commonly represented. Such a combination would not be used; and if it were, the sum would then be only eighteen, because in alphabet-based numbering systems like ancient Hebrew and Greek, place values are not used (10’s, 100’s etc.), but the letters are treated more like Roman numerals. What John is most likely indicating is that the letters of the name will add up to 666 (the best Greek manuscripts have the number spelled out), and there could be many different combinations of letters that would do so. Determining the values of the individual letters is another matter. John probably assumed that the name would be Hebrew or Greek, and in Hebrew vowels for the most part are not represented as letters. Further complications arise when names from other nationalities are considered, and are converted for valuation. For example, at various times it has been argued that the name “Nero Caesar” adds up to 666 when transliterated to Hebrew as NRWN QSR (according to the Greek form); but in the Talmud, the name is transliterated as NYRWN QYSR, which totals 686. Also, the original Latin form of the name (without the second “n”), if converted directly to Hebrew, adds up to 616, and a few ancient manuscripts had that number.