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Revelation 13

1The dragon a 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.

11Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon.

18This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. e That number is 666.

Which beast is the antiChrist, the first or the second?

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4 Answers 4

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The word, "antichrist" does not occur in the book of Revelation. It only occurs in 1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3, 2 John 7. In all of these occasions, the antichrist is a person or individual who either:

  • 1 John 2:18 – the existence of antichrist(s) proves that John was writing in the “last hour”. See “Eschatology”.
  • 1 John 2:22 – defines antichrist as anyone who denies that Jesus is Christ or Messiah. See “Christ”.
  • 1 John 4:2, 3 – defines antichrist as anyone who denies that Jesus came in the flesh, that is, denies that Jesus was fully human. See “Jesus’ Humanity”.
  • 2 John 7 – again defines antichrist as anyone who denies that Jesus was human.

There are two more references to what is commonly called “antichrist” but would be more accurately called, false christs or pseudo-christs in the Greek. These are:

  • Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8 both predict the rise of pseudo-christs who would blasphemously claim to be “I am”.

Revelation

In the book of Revelation, antichrist is not explicit but implicit. It has been recognized for centuries that the three beast of Revelation form a kind of false trinity of beasts as follows.

Beast from the abyss: (Rev 11:7, 12:1-17, 17:8) This beast is the seven-headed dragon, namely the devil or Satan (12:9 & 20:2), of 12:3, who comes from and is thrown back into the abyss (20:3). The fact that this beast is mentioned in 11:7 without further explanation, suggests that it has already been introduced (in 9:1, 11 and 8:12) - a consistent pattern elsewhere in Revelation. A comparison of 12:9, 13 with 8:10, 13, 9:1 - fallen from heaven to earth - lends weight to this view. Isa 14:12 and Eze 28:8, 13-17 records in allegorical form the origin of Satan in heaven, his decent to earth and his ambition to be worshipped like the Most High. See “Satan”.

Beast from the Sea: (Rev 13:1-10) This is Revelation’s most notorious and blasphemous beast whose distinguishing mark is administered by the land beast on the forehead or hand (13:17, 20:4) of the wicked. This beast is the one usually intended when The Beast is mentioned without further explanation (eg, 16:13, 19:20, 20:10 etc). The close parallels between Dan 7 and Rev 13:1-8 strongly suggest the same power. See also “Abomination of Desolation”.

Beast from the Land (or Earth): (Rev 13:11-17) This third beast completes the unholy trinity and is called from the land to help the dragon fight the woman by assisting the sea beast, 12:17, 13:1, 11. In Rev 16:13, 19:20, 20:10, this land beast is also called the false prophet as can be seen by comparing 19:20 with 13:13. As the false prophet, the land beast acts as a counterpoint to the (true) two prophets of 11:10. The land beast is mentioned by name just once - otherwise only by pronoun. The land beast creates a sea beast like organization called the image to the beast that is used to help enforce (under death threat) worship of the sea beast and its image.

Note the following series of counterpoints between the true Trinity and the apostate Beast Trinity.

TRUE (DIVINE) TRINITY APOSTATE TRINITY of BEASTS
God the Father (the Most High) (Heb 7:1, Acts 7:48, 16:17, etc) Satan = Beast from the abyss (11:7, 20:1) “like the Most High” (Isa 14:12-14)
is, was, & yet will come (Rev 1:4, 8, 4:8, 11:17) was, now is not, yet will come (Rev 17:8, 11)
Creator (Ps 33:6, 9, Rev 4:11) Destroyer (Rev 9:2, 11, 11:7, 8)
Has power and authority (Rev 12:10) Has power and authority (Rev 13:2)
River of life comes from God (Rev 22:1) River to kill woman from dragon (Rev 12:15)
** **
Jesus Christ Beast from the Sea (13:1-8)
Begins ministry in water (Luke 3:21) Comes out of water (Rev 13:1)
Has seven horns (Rev 5:6) Has 10 horns (Rev 13:1)
Jesus like the Father (John 10:30, 14:9) 7 heads & 10 horns like dragon
Slaughtered Lamb (Rev 5:6) Slaughtered (Rev 13:3)
Miraculously lives (John 11:25, Rom 1:4) Miraculously lives (Rev 13:3)
Receives throne from Father (Rev 5:7, Matt 28:18) Receives throne from dragon (Rev 13:2)
Wears a crown (Rev 19:12) Wears crowns (Rev 13:1)
Jesus’ ministry lasts 3½ years Beast reigns 42 months (Rev 13:5)
** **
The Holy Spirit Beast from the Land (13:11-17)
Spirit like blazing lamps (Rev 4:5, Acts 2, 2 Kings 1:10-12) Calls fire from heaven (Rev 13:13)
Brings glory to Jesus (John 16:14,15) Gives glory to sea beast (Rev 13:14)
Gives seal of God (Eph 4:30) Gives mark of beast (Rev 13:16)
Inspires prophets (2 Pet 1:19-21) Is the false prophet (Rev 19:20 etc)

Following the battle of Armageddon the Beast Trinity, or Babylon, breaks up into its three parts (Rev 16:19).

Lastly, note that Jesus sends out the three angels of heaven (Rev 14:6-11) to gather people for the great harvest; and the Beast Trinity also sends out three evil spirits to gather people for the great battle of Armageddon

Thus, the second beast of Revelation described in Rev 13:1-10 is the one usually described as the great antichrist of Revelation because of the above parallels.

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Disclaimer: asking about revelation is going to generate a flood of answers. There is no profit in disputing interpretations of Revelation.

Antichrist

"antichrist" doesn't appear in Revelation, it appears only in John's epistles.

In 1 John 2.18-22, the 'antichrist' is used as a reference to false Christians who "went out from us", e.g. abandoned the churches.

Here, the antichrist is defined as someone that denies that Jesus is messiah: "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son."

In 1 John 4.3, there is a reference to the "spirit" of antichrist, which is to deny that Jesus is come in the flesh. This could be a reference to denying the bodily incarnation, but also as denying the incarnation of Christ in each believer's flesh, as those who do not believe that Jesus Christ is "in you" are called "reprobates" in Paul's work.

In 2 John 7, again the definition of "denying that Jesus is come in the flesh" is used but this time not as a spirit, but as an antichrist, again with the idea that there are many antichrists.

Thus in John, an antichrist is a category of unbelievers who share some of the similiarities of believers but refuse to believe that Jesus is the messiah or, equivalently, do not believe that Jesus came in the flesh (in Bethlehem) or that Jesus is not born in believers, so they are not born again.

As per Augustine:

Whom has he called antichrists? He goes on and expounds. “Whereby we know that it is the last hour,” By what? Because “many antichrists are come. They went out from us;” see the antichrists! “They went out from us:” therefore we bewail the loss. Hear the consolation. “But they were not of us.” All heretics, all schismatics went out from us, that is, they go out from the Church; but they would not go out, if they were of us. Therefore, before they went out they were not of us. If before they went out they were not of us. many are within, are not gone out, but yet are antichrists. We dare to say this: and why, but that each one while he is within may not be an antichrist? For he is about to describe and mark the antichrists, and we shall see them now. And each person ought to question his own conscience, whether he be an antichrist. For antichrist in our tongue means, contrary to Christ. Not, as some take it, that antichrist is to be so called because he is to come ante Christum, before Christ, i.e. Christ to come after him: it does not mean this, neither is it thus written, but Antichristus, i.e. contrary to Christ. Now who is contrary to Christ ye already perceive from the apostle’s own exposition, and understand that none can go out but antichrists; whereas those who are not contrary to Christ, can in no wise go out. For he that is not contrary to Christ holds fast in His body, and is counted therewith as a member. The members are never contrary one to another.

Augustine of Hippo. (1888). Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John. In P. Schaff (Ed.), H. Browne & J. H. Myers (Trans.), St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies (Vol. 7, pp. 476–477). New York: Christian Literature Company.

Whether that concept appears in the book of Revelation depends very much on how you interpret Revelation. But let's search for it.

Looking for antichrists in Revelation

The essence of the antichrist then is denying the messiah and thus it would be blasphemy.

In Revelation, that would be the men who are being punished with plagues (Rev 16.21, Rev 16.11, Rev 16.9) who blaspheme God, or the beast that comes out of the sea:

Rev 13.5-6

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

So both of these could be considered antichrists in Revelation. Really anyone not born again who is actively denying Christ is an antichrist. But the nice thing about the beast with seven heads is the passage "blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven."

  • Blaspheming the name of God would be denying his character and specifically the name of Christ.
  • Blaspheming his tabernacle would be a good match for denying the incarnation or indwelling of Jesus
  • Blaspheming them that dwell in heaven would correspond to denying that believers are seated with God in the heavenlies, which is also a type of denial of those who are born from above.

So that would be a reasonable correspondence. But the second beast, e.g. the beast out of the land, is worshipping the image of the beast out of the sea, so if the first beast meets the criteria of antichrist which is denial, then the second beast must also meet it, as would anyone who worships the image of the beast from the sea.

Thus the classification of "antichrist" would spread to all who dwell on the earth, since all of these worship the beast. Only those portrayed as dwelling in heaven (e.g. Christians as per Eph 2.6) would not be counted as antichrists according to the definition of John.

And of course the beast out of the sea worships with the voice of the dragon, so we have a hierarchy of blasphemy:

dragon
  |
beast out of the sea
  |
beast from the land 
  |
all men who "dwell on earth"

All of the above would be "anti-Christs", whose those on one layer being controlled by the layer above them.

From then, we can look at jewish traditions of what meant to be called a "beast", or "brute beast", and symbolism of the dragon, etc. That's a whole book, but some brief summaries:

Second Temple Apocalyptic literature

The second temple apocalyptic literature associated two "beasts" at the end of the world, Leviathan (which came from the sea) and Behemoth (which came from the land, and is a majestic plural of "beast") often portrayed as mates or brothers. Leviathan was assumed to be the stronger of these and in some sense "powered" Behemoth. Both would be conquered and eaten during the feast of tabernacles, where the scales of Leviathan would decorate the booths and the meat of behemoth would be eaten by the victorious saints at the consummation of the age. E.g. 2 Baruch 29.3-4. 4 Ezra 60.50-51. See also Targum Jonathan[1]

God created the great sea monsters, Leviathan and his mate, that are designated for the day of consolation

Or in the Babylonian Talmud[2], we have

As long as Leviathan is alive, Behemoth is also safe

Traditional old testament literature

  • a beast is someone who arrogantly denies God and follows his senses (think Nebuchednezzar turned into an ox Dan 4.25). Psalm 49.

  • The "essence" of this arrogant beastly nature is distilled into the Behemoth (a majestic plural of Beast). Job 48.

  • Leviathan, along with all the other sea monsters in the bible, is a symbol of the world system, both of Egypt and Babylon. Leviathan will be defeated on the day of the Lord (Is 27.1, Ps 74.13-14). But we also see that he was defeated at passover, e.g. during the exodus, when God cut the monster in two (Is 51.9-11). Revelation portrays Leviathan as having a mortal headwound. For us, that would be a victory on the cross. Yet the little beast, the one from the earth, temporarily resurrects this beast and worships it.

Interestingly, we have this notion of Leviathan going back to ancient times. E.g. in the Anchor Yale Bible's commentary on Job:

A Mesopotamian seal cylinder from Tell Asmar depicts a seven-headed dragon in the process of being subdued by two divine heroes. One attacks from the rear while the other battles the monster head on. Four of the dragon’s heads are drooping, but the three upper ones are still erect with forked tongues protruding. The creature has six long tongues of flame rising along its back. The cylinder dates from the early Akkadian period, but certainly represents a prototype of the seven-headed serpentine monster Leviathan (cf. H. Frankfort, Stratified Cylinder Seals from the Diyala Region, Pl. 45, No. 478, and J. B. Pritchard, ANEP, 691).

So one interpretation the beast from the land would represent arrogant, beastly, man as an individual who is mated with and subservient to the beast from the sea which represents both the dragon and the "spirit of the world". This would be why an icon must be made to worship the beast of the sea, as this beast cannot be interacted with directly except within the heart of the beastly men and except via a specific representation appropriate for each age/culture/value system.

Then all men who dwell on the earth, that is who do not dwell in the heavenlies, are controlled by this beastly nature and made to worship the one with 7 heads, that is, they can't help but think of earthly things and deny that Jesus is the Christ or that Jesus is come in the flesh.

In this intepretation, in this image of the two beasts, we see Revelation as providing a spiritual elaboration on the phenomena of antichrists.

[1] Cathcart, K., Maher, M., & McNamara, M. (Eds.). (1992). The Aramaic BibleB: Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis. (M. Maher, Trans.) (Vol. 1, Ge 1:21). Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.

[2] b. Baba Batra 5:1a, IV.24.A–F

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Paul's man of sin is Revelation's false prophet:

Revelation 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

Here we read of the second beast, who performs miracles in the sight of the first beast and performing those miracles in order to deceive the people!

Paul's Antichrist was called the man of sin and he is described as doing the same things for the same reason as the false prophet:

2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 2Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2Th 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 2Th 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 2Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 2Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 2Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders

G5059 te´?a? teras Thayer Definition:

  1. a prodigy, portent
  2. miracle: performed by any one Part of Speech: noun neuter A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: of uncertain affinity Citing in TDNT: 8:113, 1170

Lying wonders is the same as deceiving miracles.

The false prophet and the man of sin are the same person, the Antichrist.

Rev 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.

These horns are little horns of a young lamb which is a direct reference to the little horn Daniel wrote of who is also the one we know as the Antichrist.

G721 ????´?? arnion ar-nee'-on Diminutive from G704; a lambkin: - lamb. Total KJV occurrences: 30

The little horn of Daniel is commonly believed to be the AC John wrote about and in Revelation there is a person with two little horns who appears after the ten horned beast just as the little horn in Daniel appears after the ten horned beast. Clearly the same person is in mind here.

Daniel - ten horned beast arises, little horn comes next and is the person of authority and power over the ten horned beast. Little horn is the antichrist.

Revelation - ten horned beast arises, false prophet comes next and is the person of authority and power over the ten horned beast. False prophet is the antichrist.

Rev 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. Rev 13:12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed., Rev 13:13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, Rev 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. Rev 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. Rev 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: Rev 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Not only does the second beast exercise ALL of the power of the first beast, he is the only one performing miracles by which he not the first beast deceived the world. He is the one who commands an image of the first beast to be made and causes it to come alive because of his tremendous God-like powers. He also decides who will be killed. He makes people receive the mark and that controls who can buy and sell.

Clearly the second beast is the primary ruler and highest authority.

Jesus was both the Christ and a prophet. The Antichrist will also be both christ and prophet but will be a liar on both accounts. John wrote about an Antichrist that would come. In Revelation he uses a different terminology for this same person calling him a false prophet but he is the same person he called the Antichrist. This person has many names in scripture.

Daniel - ten horned beast arises, little horn comes next and is the person of authority and power over the ten horned beast. Little horn is the antichrist. Revelation - ten horned beast arises, false prophet comes next and is the person of authority and power over the ten horned beast. False prophet is the antichrist.

The ten horned kingdom is not the AC in either book. The AC is always the one who comes AFTER the ten horned beast.

Same ten horned beast in both books and it is always a large Empire composed of Kings and kingdoms with 1 singular person ruling over it all and that person is the same person in both books called the little horn and false prophet.

If there is no Antichrist here, "Daniel - ten horned beast arises." then it is the same for Revelation. No Antichrist in this ten horned beast either, "Revelation - ten horned beast arises"

The Antichrist is always the singular person that is introduced after the ten horned beast:

Daniel - ten horned beast arises, little horn Revelation - ten horned beast arises, false prophet

Same order of introduction. Neither book uses the term "Antichrist" but he is mentioned nonetheless.

The names of the one we normally call the Antichrist:

1st and 2nd John -antichrist

2 Thessalonians -man of sin

2 Thessalonians -that Wicked

2 Thessalonians -the son of perdition

Daniel -little horn

Revelation -false prophet

Many names but he is still the same person.

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Which beast is the Antichrist?

The word Antichrist

In the Bible, the word, "antichrist" occurs only in 1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3, and 2 John 7. In these instances, the antichrist is a person or individual who denies that:

  • Jesus is Christ (1 John 2:22), or that
  • Jesus came in the flesh; probably meaning to deny that Jesus was fully human (1 John 4:2, 3),

1 John 2:18 refers to “many antichrists.” Therefore, anyone who denies Jesus as Christ was regarded as an antichrist.

But, in general English usage, the title Antichrist has a different meaning. For example, Merriam-Webster also defines Antichrist as:

  • A great antagonist
  • Expected to fill the world with wickedness
  • But to be conquered forever by Christ at his second coming.

This, I believe, is how the average Christian understands the title Antichrist. I also assume that the question was phrased with that meaning in mind. Using that definition, who is the Antichrist in Revelation?

Revelation 12 to 14

To answer this question, this article focuses on Revelation 12 to 14 and identifies the phases and entities described in those chapters.

Revelation 12 and 13 may be divided into four parts. Each of these parts uses a different symbol for Satan’s forces:

  • Revelation 12 symbolizes Satan’s forces as a dragon.
  • Revelation 13:1-8: A beast arises from the sea, receives a fatal wound, but comes back to life (cf. Rev 13:14), and is worshiped (meaning, accepted as king – Rev 13:4) by the whole world.
  • Revelation 13:11-15: A beast arises from the earth, works in the authority of the first beast, “performs great signs,” and “deceives” the people of the world “to make an image to the beast.”
  • Revelation 13:15-18: It is then that image that kills all who refuse to “worship” (obey) it and who marks its followers with the mark of the beast (Rev 13:15-18).

Each of these sections is now discussed in more detail to identify the phases of the war:

The Dragon - Revelation 12

Revelation 12 describes a series of wars. In all of these wars, Satan’s forces are symbolized as “the dragon:”

  1. Before Christ, “the dragon stood before the woman … so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (Christ) (Rev 12:1-4).
  2. Against Christ: When Christ was born, the dragon attempted to devour Him but failed (Rev 12:5).
  3. The war in heaven (Rev 12:7-12): That war began before Satan deceived our first parents but came to an end when Christ ascended to heaven after the cross, causing Satan and his angels to be thrown out of heaven. See - When was Satan thrown out of heaven?
  4. Against the woman: “When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child” (Rev 12:13).
  5. Time and times and a half: But the woman “was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Rev 12:14). This is the same as the 1260 days of Revelation 12:6. We find that Revelation sometimes mentions something briefly but then interrupts itself and goes back to describe the circumstances that led to the thing mentioned so briefly.
  6. Dragon retreats: Then follows a weak period for the beast: The earth helps the woman, forcing the dragon to go away (Rev 12:16-17).
  7. The End-time War: The last phase is mentioned in Revelation 12:17 but not described, namely the “war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

NOTES:

  1. The seven heads of the beast are the seven successive phases of the beast's existence (Rev 17:9-10) and are identified in another article. That article shows that the last three heads of the beast are equivalent to the last three phases above, but the first four in the two series are not the same.
  2. In Revelation 12-22, the dragon is the first to appear on the scene and the last to be destroyed. It will be “thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone” at the end of the Millennium (Rev 20:10). (See - The lake of fire is the second death.)

CONCLUSIONS

  1. The “time and times and half a time” is not associated with the end-time. After the “time and times and half a time,” the dragon is forced to retreat. The end-time war follows after that weak period for the dragon, namely, the “war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:17; cf. Rev 14:12)strong text
  2. Revelation 12 uses the dragon to symbolize many different entities in many different phases of history. In the context of the war in heaven, the dragon is identified as Satan (Rev 12:9). But the dragon has seven heads and ten horns (Rev 12:3) and both these heads and horns symbolize kings (or kingdoms – Rev 17:9-10, 12). The dragon, therefore, in other contexts, also serves as a symbol for human organizations that opposes God’s people on earth.

The Beast (Rev 13:1-8)

After the dragon is forced to retreat following another defeat (Rev 12:17), Revelation 13:1-8 describes the beast from the sea. It receives its authority from the dragon (Rev 13:2). It has a fatal wound on one of its heads but “his fatal wound was healed” (Rev 13:3). As another article explains, this means that the entire beast was dead but only for a period.

A key element of 13:1-8 is the many allusions to the animals of Daniel 7. These allusions indicate that the beast is part of the series of animals in Daniel 7. On the basis of these allusions, another article identifies the beast as the 11th horn of the 4th beast of Daniel 7.

Since the sea beast receives “authority to act” for 42 months (Rev 13:5) and since the 42 months are the same as the “time and times and half a time” (Rev 12:14), the 42 months describe a period before 12:17. This shows that Revelation does not describe events always chronologically. The events in 13:1-8 are also not in chronological sequence. For example:

  • Verse 2 states that the beast received its authority from the dragon but, after verse 3 mentioned the fatal wound and its healing, verses 5-7 return to that authority and explain what it is, namely, “authority to act for forty-two months” and “authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation” (Rev 13:2, 5, 7).
  • Verses 3-4 state that “the whole earth … worshiped the beast” but verse 8 elaborates by stating that “the whole earth” excludes the people “whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life” (Rev 13:3-4, 8).

Therefore:

  • 13:4-8 elaborates on 13:1-4.
  • Since, in 13:1-4, the beast receives its authority BEFORE the fatal wound, the 42 months describe the period of the beast’s rulership BEFORE the fatal wound.
  • The worship describes the period after the fatal wound has been healed.

Consequently, the last phases of Revelation 12 may be aligned as follows with 13:1-8:

  • The woman in the wilderness for a time and times and half a time (12:14-15) aligns with the authority to act for 42 months (13:2, 5-7).
  • The earth helping the woman, forcing the dragon to retreat (12:16-17) is the fatal wound on one of the beast’s seven heads (13:3)
  • The war with the rest of her children (12:17) takes place after the beast's fatal wound was healed. It describes the time when the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast.

So, while Revelation 12 says that the dragon “persecuted the woman” during the “time, times, and half a time” (Rev 12:13-14), we see in Revelation 13 that it is really the beast from the sea that persecutes the woman during that period (Rev 13:5-7). This shows how symbols overlap in meaning.

The beast is destroyed when Christ returns when it is also “thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Rev 19:20).

The False Prophet (Rev 13:11-15)

Comparing Revelation 19:20 with 13:13 shows that the “another beast coming up out of the earth” (Rev 13:11) is also called the false prophet (cf. Rev 16:13, 20:10). In other words, the same power that helped the woman (the earth - Rev 12:16) is the source of this second beast.

“He makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.” In other words, it works in the time after the wound was healed (Rev 13:12, 14). It also means that it is this second beast that causes the world to worship the first beast. Stated differently, it is this second beast that heals the wound of the first beast.

“He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence” (Rev 12:12). Just like the sea beast receives its authority from the dragon (Rev 13:2), the beast from the earth does its works in the authority of the sea beast. The phrase “in his presence” implies that the first beast still exists, but it is the beast from the land that is the immediate enemy of God’s end-time people; not the sea beast.

The title “false prophet” (Rev 16:13; 19:20) identifies this beast as a religious organization. Since it has “two horns like a lamb” (Rev 13:11) it appears Christ-like. (The word “lamb” is used about 30 times in Revelation and 13:11 is the only instance that does not refer to Christ.) In other words, it is a Christian organization. Since the second beast works in the authority of the first beast, this implies that the first beast also is a Christian organization.

The false prophet is also destroyed when Christ returns (Rev 19:20).

The Image of the beast (Rev 13:15-18)

False Christianity, by means of satanic miracles, will convince the people of the world to create the image of the beast (Rev 13:13-14). It is then this image of the beast that persecutes God’s people (Rev 13:15). Since the beast receives its authority from the dragon (13:2), and since the false prophet “exercises all the authority of the first beast,” the image of the beast symbolizes the organization through which the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet will persecute God’s end-time people (Rev 13:14-15).

The image is a replica of the beast. Before its fatal wound, the beast was “given … to make war with the saints and to overcome them, - and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him” (Rev 13:7). The image receives the same authority: “The image of the beast would … cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Rev 13:15).

But it is the image that persecutes God’s people; not the beast. The beast is not directly involved in the end-time war. Therefore:

  • The beast and its image are two different things.
  • The recovery of the beast from its deadly wound is the creation of the image of the beast. In other words, the beast appears in the end-time in the form of the image.
  • Revelation does not mention the destruction of this image but, since the image is a reincarnation of the beast, the destruction of the beast is also the destruction of the image.

The war with the rest of her children (12:17) is the persecution by the image of the beast. This may be confirmed as follows:

Firstly, both the war with the rest of her children and the image follow after the wound has been healed:

  • As argued above in the section describing the beast, the war with the rest of her children follows after the wound has been healed.
  • Since the false prophet will set up the image (13:15) after the wound has been healed (13:12), the image will be set up after the wound has been healed.

Secondly, God’s people are described similarly in the two contexts:

  • In 12:17, they are those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
  • In the context of “the beast and his image” and the mark of the beast (Rev 14:9), they are similarly described as those who “keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Rev 14:12)

So, while Revelation 12 says that the dragon will “make war with” God’s people in the end-time, the real aggressor will be this image of the beast. This shows again how the symbols overlap in meaning.

The Harlot Babylon

The last character in Satan's army is the harlot Babylon (Rev 17:5). She is not mentioned in Revelation 12-13 but she is briefly and abruptly mentioned as part of the message of the three angels in Revelation 14 (Rev 14:8). The three angels symbolize God’s message to the world through His people during the time when the image of the beast forces people to accept the mark of the beast (see, for example, Revelation 14:9).

So, although she is not mentioned in Revelation 13, she is involved. Revelation 17 explains how she is involved. While the previous chapters describe the roles of the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and the image, Revelation 17 reveals that those forces may be divided into two parts:

  • The harlot; representing all religions that oppose God, and
  • The scarlet beast; symbolizing the civil authorities controlled by false religions.

The harlot is the evil counterpart of the pure woman (cf. Rev 12:1) and symbolizes false religion. As such, she will appear in the end-time as the false prophet.

The harlot sits on all seven heads (Rev 17:9), meaning that she reigns over all seven phases of the beast (Rev 17:18). These seven phases have been identified as beginning with the Babylonian Empire and reaching until Christ returns. The harlot, therefore, exists during all that time. One may say that she always exists.

She is the one behind all persecution of God’s people on earth (Rev 18:24).

She is destroyed even before Christ’s return, namely, by the 10 horns of the beast (Rev 17:16-17). Before Christ returns, the kings of the world will turn on the false religions that have manipulated them over the millennia “for God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose” (Rev 17:17).

Summary

Since the beast receives its authority from the dragon, the dragon is the first to exist. The dragon is first mentioned in the context of Christ’s birth from Mary (Rev 12:3-5).

After the dragon, the beast comes up out of the sea. In the description of the beast, Revelation 13:2 mentions the dragon together with the lion, the bear, and the leopard. Since these are explicitly three of the four animals in Daniel 7, and because of other such allusions, another article identifies the dragon as equivalent to the fourth animal in Daniel 7, which still another article identifies as the Roman Empire.

The beast receives authority to work for 42 months (Rev 13:5). These are the same as the “time, times, and half a time” during which the woman has to hide in the wilderness from the dragon (12:14).

But the beast has a fatal wound on one of its heads (phases). During this phase, the beast is dead. According to Revelation 12, that wound was caused by the earth when it help the woman by drinking up the dragon’s water (the people controlled by the harlot - Rev 17:15). Therefore, the woman no longer has to hide in the wilderness; she can come into the open.

However, the beast will come back to life. Through the false prophet, the beast will be resurrected in the form of the image of the beast. Revelation 12-14, therefore, describe the following phases of Satan’s war against God and His people:

  • The Dragon in the time of Christ’s first coming
  • The Beast has authority for 42 months
  • The Fatal Wound
  • The Beast resurrected by the false prophet in the form of the image of the beast = End-time persecution.

So, which one is the Antichrist? Using the definition above, which entity is expected to fill the world with wickedness but will be conquered forever by Christ at his second coming?

  • The dragon no longer exists when Christ returns.
  • The beast also no longer exists. In the end-time, it will exist in the form of its image.
  • The false prophet and the image only exist in the final phase of world history.

So, I do not know which one is the Antichrist. Perhaps Revelation does not predict an Antichrist as envisaged in popular Christianity. Perhaps the Antichrist is the product of futurist or Dispensational thinking while Revelation 12-13, in contrast, describes the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet over the very long period between Christ’s first and second comings.

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