In Rev. 12:3 we see the crowns on the 'Heads', in Rev. 13:1 we see the crowns on the 'Horns'. Since this 'Beast' is Figurative-as those in the 'literalist' camp(J.N. Darby, John Walvoord) would concur, as any other translation would do 'violence' to the text, how do you explain the difference of where the crowns are?

5 Answers 5


Context is the Key

From the question, and by reading the text, it is apparent that the Context is Figurative; therefore it is not the reality in itself but representative of that reality.

Rev. 12:3 says,

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Rev. 13:1 says,

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Since it's clear that no such animal exists in nature, nor does the author intend for us to understand this passage in a 'natural'(historical/grammatical) context, we can therefore determine that this passage is to be interpreted "Figuratively", which means that this image is communicating "Truth" in which one must accurately interpret the symbols to arrive at the correct meaning.

Meaning of the Symbols

A Rule of Thumb for interpreting symbolism in Scripture is that if the meaning of the symbol is revealed in Scripture, it maintains that same meaning unless a different meaning is communicated in the same passage.

One such example exists in the Book of Daniel. The "little horn" of Dan. 7:8 has eyes of man, and a mouth that speaks great boasts. This horn arose after 10 horns, and 'pushed' 3 horns away.

However, in the next chapter(Dan. 8:9) a "little horn" arose out of one of the 4 Horns(not 10), and there are no eyes, neither is there a mouth that speaks great boasts. This "little horn" has been identified as Antiochus Epiphanes, who did arise out of the Seleucid Dynasty; stopped the Temple sacrifices, and set up the Abomination that Desolates in 167BC. But the "little horn" of Dan. 7 cannot be confused with the "little horn" of Daniel 8; they are 2 separate horns, which arose out of 2 different sets of horns(10 vs 4). These are 2 separate images in which the Context of the passage is spelled out to determine their meaning.

The Red/Scarlet Dragon is the Beast, or Antichrist. It is also representative of Satan; Rev. 12:9 says,

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

It is important to understand the Context of the Heads and Horns as they relate to the dragon; in Rev. 17:7, the angel tells John,

I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.(vs 10)

What we are seeing is Satan, "The Scarlet Dragon", manifesting himself through earthly kingdoms. "Kings" in this passage must be rightly interpreted as "kingdoms", since the "one is", could not have been Domitian, who "was" the Roman Emperor when John was exiled on Patmos, and yet there were many more 'emperors' than Domitian. Yet the "Beast" was, and is not; meaning "Rome" was not the future "Antichrist" or "Beast" that we are seeing.

The 10 Horns are(vs 12)

"ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast."

Again, we see that "kingdoms" is the more appropriate interpretation; the likelyhood of 10 'kings' all affecting the world in 1 literal 'hour' is beyond comprehension; also, in Dan. 7:4 we see the same picture of

And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise:

which means these "kingdoms" had time to 'arise', certainly longer than a literal hour.

What about the Crowns?

The "crowns" determine who was reigning at the time. In Rev. 12:3, the "Beast" is seen with "crowns" on the Heads because in vs 5,

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

This is obviously a picture of Christ: Ps. 2:9 talks about how the "Son" will break the nations with a rod of iron. Also, Christ appears during the time of the Roman Empire, the "Head" that is during the Time of John. There is another "Head" nation to come(The Holy Roman Empire), before the crowns appear on the 10 Horns in Rev. 13:1. The 8th "Head" of Rev. 17:11 is

And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

But since it is a "Beast with 7 Heads and 10 Horns", and not a 'Beast with 8 Heads and 10 Horns', the "Beast" is representative of the 10 Horns, even as he is a 'composite' of the 7 Heads. Therefore, the "Beast" rules with the 10 Horn Kingdoms, which emerge out of the 4th Beast of Daniel(Rome), and rule in their own right after Rome, and the Holy Roman Empire falls.


The Crowns on the Heads of Rev. 12:3 signify that the "Head" kingdoms(of which Rome was one) were in power. The crowns on the "Horns" signify that the Horn kingdoms which arose out of the ashes of Rome and became kingdoms in their own right are in power. The "Beast" which one was, and is not also rules at this time with them.

  • Do you have particular nations in mind?
    – Ruminator
    Oct 28, 2017 at 18:46
  • @Ruminator I have responded to that question as well; it received a lot of downvotes, but yes, there are 'nations' that are represented in the 7 Head/10 Horn Beast. What is important is not who they are, but what they contribute-this is why they are 'part of the dragon' as opposed to the many other nations on the earth. Satan 'uses' these nations to establish "The Beast", and they advance his dominion. The word "Dominion" is a very loaded and powerful word: it's context is both in the "Kingdom of God", and "Kingdom of the Antichrist". Dominion is more than area of conquest-(cont.)
    – Tau
    Oct 29, 2017 at 9:07
  • (cont.) it also stands for the laws, governance, art, philosophy, literature, in essence, 'world view' of the these kingdoms. The "Word of God" exercises dominion over the Kingdom of God, and His Word shapes all that we think, say, and do. The same thing is true for the Kingdom of Antichrist; it's 'word' shapes all that they think, say, and do. These kingdoms are spiritual kingdoms; though in the case of the Antichrist, physical nations are represented, it's because the 'Antichrist' is manifested through these kingdoms.
    – Tau
    Oct 29, 2017 at 9:19

Awesome question! After a bit of research, I've found Leon Morris' answer to be best:

The beast has ten crowns on his horns, which is a curious place for them (Satan has them on the heads, 12:3). But it is a way of stressing that his dominion (diadeœmata are crowns of royalty; see note on 12:3) rests on force, while leaving the heads free for the blasphemous name.

  • Thank you for your response! I am attempting to tread in waters that are figurative(some say speculative), but I believe a body of commentary is out there to help us discern these things. Irenaeus speculated the evenual fall of the Roman Empire-but of course he wasn't around to see it.]
    – Tau
    Nov 6, 2013 at 0:15

When reading Rev 12:3 with Rev 13:1,at first glance it would appear that the crowns on the heads have been transferred to the horns.This is not the case..The crowns on the heads (seven of them), and the crowns on the horns,(ten of them), relate to separate kings.This is why there are ten crowns on the horns and not seven. Revelation 17:9-10,17:12 and 17:3 explains this.

Revelation 17:9-10 New International Version (NIV)

9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.

One can see from the text that the seven heads are also seven kings.The ten horns will be on the last head (the seventh),that is- the King that is to come.Revelation 17:12 (below), clearly shows the distinction between the horns and the heads.

Revelation 17:12

“The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.

It is stated in Revelation 17:12 that the ten kings have not yet received a kingdom,and when reverting back to Revelation 17:3,this is apparent,as there is no mention of the crowns being on the horns.All that is seen on the beast is seven heads and ten horns, because at this moment in time ,the ten kings have not received a kingdom.As stated in the above scripture, (Rev 17:12).

Revelation 17:3

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.

It is apparent in the above text that the crowns on the horns are absent ,meaning that the ten kings have not yet received a kingdom There are three verses in the book of Revelation which show the appearance of the seven heads and ten horns. Rev 12:3, Rev 13:1 and Rev 17:3. When the reader looks closely at these three verses, a change in the wording (reversal), concerning the heads and horns is evident in one of these verses'. I would not call this a "slip of the pen" by the author.The reversal in wording is seen in the bolded verse below.

Revelation 12:3

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.

Revelation 13:1

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.

Revelation 17:3

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.

It is observed in Rev 13:1 that the horns are referenced before the heads,but in Rev 12:3 and Rev 17:3 the horns are referenced after the heads.This is unusual and i feel that the reason for this change (reversal), is the intent of the author to draw the readers attention to the horns.A similar change in wording can be seen in another part of Revelation (19:16) and a previous question highlights this.Please read here

It is also observed in Rev 13:1 that the crowns are on the horns, which would indicate at this point in time that the ten kings have each received a kingdom, but further on in time, Rev 17:3 contradicts this because at this point in time the crowns are absent on the horns,indicating that the ten kings have not yet received a kingdom. The reason for this contradiction must be that the seer is viewing a "future event", when he sees the beast coming out of the sea, and that future event would be the ten kings receiving a kingdom and receiving authority as kings along with the beast,as referenced in Rev 17:12.


The crowns on the heads of the beast are distinct from the crowns on the horns.The crowns on the heads represent seven kings (as recorded in Rev 17:10) and the crowns on the horns represent ten kings, (as recorded in Rev 17:12). This is why there are ten crowns on the horns and not seven.

After Revelation 12:3,the crowns do not appear visibly on the heads again but the reader is made aware by Rev 17:9-10 that the crowns are still there.

9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.

  • @Bagpipes-Hello again and thank you for your response! I'm wondering if you could make a distinction between the 'Heads", in light of Rev. 17:9-10. Also, do you see a connection between the 10 Horns and the 10 Toes of the Statue of Nebuchadnezzar in Dan.2?
    – Tau
    Nov 8, 2013 at 5:16
  • @Bagpipes-I was LOL at your answer-hadn't quite thought of it that way!
    – Tau
    Nov 12, 2013 at 3:48
  • Yes, there is no mention of crowns in Rev. 17, and I agree "the crowns are still there". The one "Is" of course is Rome; it was at the height of it's power when John wrote Revelations. The 7 Hills raises a Different Question, and that is the identity of the woman. Many say it's Rome-vis a vis "7" hills(Literal). Yet the Entire passage is figurative(Beast, crowns, heads, horns) so you violate a basic premise of interpretation; Context is Figurative, Interpretation is Figurative, to make your case. Hills apparently means something other than mounds of dirt.
    – Tau
    Dec 14, 2017 at 11:39
  • When one is seeing prophetic revelation, one has to remember there is no 'timeclock' in Heaven. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Aleph and Tav. God dwells in timelessness-time, and the unveiling of events are as He sees things. The symbolic language is meant to convey the Truth concerning these things, therefore when one understands the symbols, one is given a 'door' to understand the truth. Events have been fulfilled, certain events have yet to be fulfilled, and the "truth" of those events are what is being revealed.
    – Tau
    Dec 14, 2017 at 11:51
  • @Tau- I tried my best not to deviate from your question, and concentrate on the heads,horns and crowns.This is what i feel is the main focus regarding your question.I would like to see some more answers this post.
    – Bagpipes
    Dec 14, 2017 at 11:52

seven heads with seven crowns are leaders of various provinces of Roman Empire. 10 horns refers to the nations. It was not unusual for one king to control more than one nation. Thus the nations (horns) controlled by kings.

  • 1
    It would help those who read your answers, to know what sources you have used. If this is your own idea, it would help if you could share the passages from the Bible that have inspired it. You need to give readers a reason to consider what you have to say.
    – enegue
    May 11, 2017 at 7:24

Rev. 12:3 describes a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Rev. 13:1 describes '...a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns and upon his horns ten crowns and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.'

The beast described in the first instance appears to have undergone a metamorphosis when described in the second instance. The crowns have been removed from the heads and now sit on the horns.

We should not miss the significance of this change.

The beast is both spiritual and political. I say this because I note that it has the name of blasphemy on its heads - hence it is spiritual, and it is political because it is able to usurp the power/authority i.e.crown of a sovereign country and give it to political dissidents i.e.horns which are using violent methods to gain power.

Now where are we seeing exactly this happen in the world today? Could it be Syria, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon? (I'm Sorry but I can't predict the seventh) NB Lebanon and Syria have competing horns - Hezbollah and Hamas.

  • @logic-Thank you for your response and welcome to BH! My guess is that you 'deduce' Islam to be the Antichist/Beast of Rev. 13:1. I think we both agree that the 'Beast' is figurative(the image described is representitive of another reality). Therefore, I would ask if you could examine the figurative 'characteristics' of the Beast and draw the same conclusion. Rev. 13:2 says,"It is like unto a leopard, with his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion.." Where have we seen "leopard", "bear", and "lion" before? In Dan. 7:4-6, the visions of Daniel are described
    – Tau
    Feb 18, 2014 at 13:28
  • (cont.) as a "lion", "bear", and "leopard", and they are understood as successive kingdoms(Babylon, Mede/Persia, Greece). But the "Beast" itself is "like unto a leopard" which is Greek. Greeks worshipped a polytheistic set of gods-resembling men, how can this be reconciled to a very 'monotheistic' system of belief who's "Heads" came before Islam? 'Greek' represents western culture and ideas, which are 'anathema' to Islam, how can the Greek Empire be the embodiment' of Islam? Your comments are appreciated.
    – Tau
    Feb 18, 2014 at 13:41
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    – Dan
    Feb 19, 2014 at 2:27
  • @2479 re The Leopard Lion and Bear Dear user 2479 I must confess I am a bit confounded by the question you have put to me. Before I approach Daniel 7:4-6 I would like to point out that these same beasts are quoted in Hosea 13:7-9 'Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.'
    – logic
    Mar 28, 2014 at 10:52
  • I think that it may be simplistic to always interpret these beasts as the kingdoms of Babylon Mede/Persia and Greece. However if we do accept this interpretation then the conclusion we may draw from Hosea is that God is approaching Ephraim as these kingdoms. So then the question arises - is your understanding concerning these kingdoms relevant in all circumstances of Lion/Leopard/Bear quotes.
    – logic
    Mar 28, 2014 at 10:54

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