For the four "beasts" (KJV) introduced in Revelation chapter 4, see the four living creatures.

The "Beast" of Revelation

Daniel chapter 7 features four beasts which rise consecutively from the sea. These are identified in Daniel 7:17 and 23 as four kingdoms that would arise. The book of Revelation mentions a number of beasts as well, and the symbol still indicates kingdoms. However, the striking similarity between Revelation's beasts leads us to the conclusion that, properly understood, Revelation really only has one beast. But that beast has multiple manifestations (heads) that become the featured focus at different points in the book.

We are first introduced to this creature in Revelation 12:3 where it is depicted as a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. The dragon is identified in verse 9 as Satan, but the symbol also applies to those earthly powers through which he works. Chapter 12 shows the dragon (or serpent) working at various points of time throughout history and representing different earthly powers down through time. Thus a single symbol is employed in reference to the successive kingdoms through which Satan works.

In chapter 17 the scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns--really just another description of the dragon of chapter 12--carries a harlot woman that symbolizes Satan's "mystery" religion. The consecutive heads of this beast, then, naturally represent the seven major world empires that, down through time, give the most significant support to Babylon's mystery idolatry. It is chapter 17's scarlet beast that most clearly incorporates all of Revelation's beasts into one.

This beast, during the supremacy of one of it's heads, is featured prominently in the first half of Revelation 13. It is under this particular head that the beast receives most of its notoriety. But that head eventually receives a mortal injury, "as it were wounded to death." But later in the chapter the beast appears again, this time from a different location, introduced as a new beast, an image of the one that had received the deadly wound.

Dragon of Revelation 12
First Beast of Revelation 13 (from the sea)
Second Beast of Revelation 13 (from the earth)
Beast of Revelation 17