Revelation Chapter 13

Go to Verse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Section 5 of the book begins here, continuing the theme introduced in Section 3, "The War Against Error." Follow this theme through these two sections. This chapter's specific counterpart is Chapter 11. Compare these two chapters.

Verse 1

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw 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 sea"

John did not see this beast rise out of the Aegean Sea. He was in vision. The "beast" that he saw was a prophetic symbol, and so the "sea" was symbolic also.

What is a "sea" in prophetic symbolism?
Here is the same setting that we found in Daniel chapter 7. See Daniel 7:2, 3.

"A beast...having seven heads and ten horns"

To understand the relationship between the various beasts John saw in vision, see "The Beast of Revelation." But as a rule of thumb, when Revelation simply mentions "the beast," it is usually talking about the entity described in the first part of this chapter, due to its prominent role in history.

Identify this "beast"

"Upon his horns ten crowns"

The dragon in chapter 12 had seven crowns, on his heads. This beast has ten crowns, on his horns. The Greek word in both cases is diadema, a kingly crown. In chapter 12 the crowns indicate that the heads represent seven kingdoms. Here in Revelation 13, the ten crowns draw attention to the horns, indicating that they also hold political power. In both Daniel and Revelation horns can represent secondary political forces whose support is essential to the supremacy of the primary kingdom at that time. In Daniel 7, for example, the the major power (the papacy, ironically symbolized as a "little horn") could not have gained or held supremacy without the submission and support of the Germanic kingdoms (the other horns). The ten horns here in Revelation 13, featured on the beast which represents Revelation's counterpart of Daniel 7's little horn, could very well refer to those same nations. Contrast the horns in Revelation 17 that have no crowns.

Verse 2

And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

"Like unto a leopard"

This beast has characteristics of a leopard, a bear, and a lion. These symbols in Daniel 7 represented Greece, Medo-Persia, and Babylon. See comments on Daniel 7:12.

"And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority"

Revelation uses the symbol of the dragon on three levels. First, it refers to Satan himself (Revelation 12:9). It also designates Imperial Rome, as we saw in the second part of Revelation 12:4. A third application of the "dragon" symbol would be Satan's counterfeit religious system, paganism. That seems to be the sense in which it is used in Revelation 16:13, for example. So we have Satan himself, the religion of Babel which he invented, and the Roman empire as representative of pagan nations, all embraced in the meaning of the dragon.

The verse tells us that the beast received its authority from the dragon. Let's look at that statement from each of the three perspectives: Considering the dragon as Satan, this means that he was ultimately the source of the beast's power. Viewing the dragon as the Roman empire, when Constantine moved his capital to Constantinople, the former seat of the empire was left for the bishop of Rome to fill. See historians' comments. And viewing the dragon as paganism, when emperor Gratian refused to accept the pagan title of Pontifex Maximus (a title the Roman emperors had held since Julius Caesar obtained it from the successors of the Babylonian priesthood), the bishop of Rome (Pope Damascus) readily assumed it. Thus the bishop of Rome became the official heir and authorized representative of Babylonian paganism, head of the Chaldean mysteries. So, the pope was invested not only with all the rights and privileges of the Roman emperor but also of the ancient Babylonian pontiff.

Verse 3

And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

"One of his heads"

Each successive head represents the beast during the time of that head's power. In the context of this verse the beast is represented by the religio-political power invested in the papal office during the Middle Ages.

"Wounded to death"

The papacy received a deadly blow on February 10, 1798 when the French army took the pope captive. See documentation.

"And his deadly wound was healed"

This prediction is generally applied to the restoration of the temporal power of the pope by the concordat of February 11, 1929. See documentation. The healing of the deadly wound is viewed as the papacy's regaining of full political power as a sovereign government.

There is also another application of this verse that deserves consideration. Revelation describes another power (verse 11) that comes on the scene following the captivity (verse 10) of the pope. This new power forms an image of the papal power. The beast's wound is healed, not specifically by the recovery of the papal head, but by replacing that head with another, which takes up the work of the beast in earth's closing days. In this way the beast's fatal wound is healed as the image of the stricken head is formed in the seventh head of the beast.

"And all the world wondered after the beast"

Perhaps the most remarkable illustration of the world's restored admiration for the papacy is the unprecedented gathering of all the kings of the earth and millions of other pilgrims at the funeral of Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005. See documentation.

Verse 4

And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

"And they worshipped the dragon...and they worshipped the beast"

Worshiping the beast constitutes a worship of the dragon, for the beast is but the visible agency of the dragon.

It seems clear that this verse is a continuation of the story in verse three, and that this worshiping takes place after the healing of the deadly wound. (Compare verse 12.) It is this very worship that the inhabitants of earth are warned against in the third angel's message.

Verse 5

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.

"A mouth speaking great things"

This same phrase is found in Daniel 7:8 describing the little horn's blasphemy. Revelation 13:6 informs us that the beast's utterances constitute "blasphemy against God."

"And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months"

This expression represents the period of papal supremacy, from the moment it achieved unchallenged western dominion in A.D. 538, until it suffered its "deadly wound" in 1798. Forty-two months with 30 days to a month is 1260 days. According to the year-day principle used in prophetic time periods, this prophecy assigns a 1260-year supremacy to the papacy. More info...

Verse 6

And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

Verse 7

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Verse 8

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Verse 9

If any man have an ear, let him hear.

Verse 10

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

Verse 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.

"And I beheld another beast coming up"

John's attention is now directed to the rise of another major kingdom or nation. The time frame for this development, in the context of the previous verse, is about the time of the downfall of the first beast (the late 1700's).

"Out of the earth"

The first beast emerged from the "sea" (See verse one). This one comes up out of the "earth." Since the "sea" was symbolic, so must be the "earth." We understand this symbol to represent the vast, largely-unpopulated continent of North America during the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. More info...

In 1754 John Wesley, in his note on Revelation 13:11, said of this beast, “He is not yet come: tho’ he cannot be far off. For he is to appear at the end of the forty-two months of the first beast.” --Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, 1791 ed., Vol. 3, p. 299

When the papal power received its deadly wound in 1798, the United States was the most prominent sovereign nation then arising in the New World. Only nine years earlier the United States had adopted its national Constitution.

“Is it reasonable to suppose that God would leave out from the prophecies of his Book this whole Western Hemisphere? No, No!” --De Witt Talmage, 1900, Selected Sermons, vol. 2, p. 9

"And he had two horns"

The first thing we need to notice is that these two horns have no crowns. So these are not kings as in the case of the ten horns on the first beast. They can, however, represent the most significant powers or influences that have helped to make America great. Two notable features of the American system of government are civil and religious liberty, both of which are guaranteed in the Constitution. In their separate domains, both church and state were positioned on principles that set America apart from most other nations. As a republic, the United States offered its people the right to self-government, while, in harmony with true Protestant principles, the absence of an official state church extended to each citizen the right to worship according to the dictates of his or her own conscience.

As an alternate view, the two horns might stand to represent the two forms of government foretold for America, the first one resembling a lamb, and the second a dragon.

"Like a lamb"

Many have pointed out that a lamb is a young animal. It is also a tame animal, compared to the ferocious beasts of Daniel 7. But in the book of Revelation the Lamb signifies Jesus. Youthful, peaceful America originally exemplified many Christlike principles.

"And he spake as a dragon"

Quickly the prophecy advances to the dark final days of American history when the nation takes on the characteristics of the dragon. The dragon, of course, is Satan. But the scenes described in these verses parallel Revelation 12:17 as the dragon wages his final war against the people of God. So the United States during that time becomes the final governmental manifestation of the dragon.

The United States "speaks" in the official statements of the president, in the decisions of the Supreme Court, and in the enactments of Congress. These declarations will, according to this verse, be such as to accomplish the work of the dragon. Little by little, steps will be taken to restrict the Constitutional liberties that free America has always stood for.

Verse 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.

"And he"

That is, the United States government.

"Exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him"

For a nation to exercise civil authority would hardly be worthy of mention. But the power exercised by the first beast was religious control of the people. It is the U.S. government's assumption of religious prerogatives that seems to be predicted here.

"And causeth the earth and them which dwell therein"

In order for this to happen, the United States must have the ability to pressure the people of other nations. But what other nation would be so poised to do this than America?

"To worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed"

This is when all the world worships the beast, as mentioned in verse 4. Here in verse 12 we see that this "worship" is somehow mandated by the government of the United States . This nation will enforce some observance which in its essence is an act of homage to the papacy.

Verse 13

And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

"And he doeth great wonders"

The word used here is in verse 14 translated "miracles." Supernatural events will occur. The Greek word semeion means "a sign, that by which a thing is known, a token, an indication" (A New Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament by George Ricker Berry, Wilcox & Follett Company, 1956). So these "wonders" serve the purpose of authenticating the claims of this power in moral matters.

Verse 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.

"And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles"

The people are misled because of the miracles that they see.

"Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword"

The word "image" means a likeness or a resemblance. The people are led to support a system that replicates the papacy.

The papacy rose to power when the civil governments submitted to ecclesiastical authority. This arrangement is destined to be repeated by Protestants in the United States when religious leaders prevail upon the government to settle sectarian concerns and regulate matters of conscience. When this country stoops to exercise its civil power to enforce the decrees of the popular churches, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman Catholic religio-political structure. When church and state so unite, the result will be the sacrifice of religious liberty and the persecution of dissenting minorities.

Verse 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.

"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast"

The replication of the papacy, though instigated by the evangelical leaders, is established by the authority of the United States government. The infusion of "life" into this symbolic image may indicate the setting up of some agency responsible for managing religious affairs.

"And cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed"

As did the medieval papacy, the United States will use capital punishment on those who refuse to acknowledge the government's religious jurisdiction.

Verse 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:

"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond"

To "cause" means to make, in the sense that this is required by law. This law will apply to everyone regardless of their status.

"To receive a mark"

Earth is the battlefield of a great controversy between Christ and Satan. Revelation focuses on human events that have a bearing on that battle. The actions of nations that are foretold in prophecy are those through which earth's inhabitants are brought face to face with the issues in the supernatural conflict behind the scenes.

In his insurrection, Satan has particularly challenged the authority of Christ. He has set himself up as a rival ruler and demands the adoration and allegiance of all. He claims the earth as his dominion and its inhabitants as his rightful subjects. As the accuser of the brethren, Satan cites men's transgression of the divine law as evidence that they have rejected God's authority and have sided with him in his rebellion.

There are those, however, who are determined to maintain their loyalty to God and keep His commandments. This infuriates Satan, who realizes that in order to secure the servitude of the whole world he will have to use force. At his right hand are the beast and its image. These are his agents and representatives on earth. Homage rendered to them is in fact rendered to Satan. When an earthly government requires its citizens to worship the beast and its image in violation of the law of God, the conflict thus created becomes a test that reveals the true loyalty of each person. It shows which spiritual kingdom they have chosen to embrace and support.

As the contest escalates to a crisis, the nation symbolized by the two-horned beast passes legislation that strikes at the very issue of loyalty. An observance is imposed that requires everyone to take their final stand as to which side they are on. It becomes a matter of life or death for each individual.

In order for the required "mark" to be the ultimate demonstration of loyalty to the beast, it must represent an acknowledgment of the beast's moral authority. The token should reflect that which the beast maintains as the basis of its claim to authority. And it must cut directly across a requirement of God that signifies allegiance to His authority.

Satan's challenge to Christ's authority as the divine Son of God was answered at the creation of the world. It was Jesus who spoke all nature into existence. It was Jesus who formed Adam from the ground that He had created, and breathed into him His own life-giving Spirit. Christ's power to create life establishes His divine authority beyond question. And as a permanent monument to His creative power, Jesus instituted a day of rest to be observed on the seventh day of every week. As the sign of Christ's authority, the Sabbath has become the object of Satan's special hatred. Celebrating the Lord's Sabbath day is the sign of our acknowledgment of His authority in our lives. It is the token of our allegiance to Him. In light of the great controversy, the Sabbath rest means much to the end-time followers of Jesus.

Shortly after the Flood, Satan introduced a counterfeit religious system, mystically called "Babylon" in Revelation. This religion soon spread around the world. Rejecting the true God, its followers began worshiping the sun. Sun worship formed the original basis of all pagan religions. The pagans designated the first day of the week in honor of their sun-god. In Roman times the pagan Sun-day was observed widely throughout the empire. In the second and third centuries, some Christians began to regard Sunday as a day of celebration (for various reasons, Christ's resurrection, etc.). In the year 321, Emperor Constantine, desiring to unite pagans and Christians, issued the first civil legislation prohibiting certain activities on "the venerable day of the sun." More info... The observance of the seventh day gradually declined among Roman Christians, in favor of the first day of the week.

The first ecclesiastical legislation enforcing the observance of Sunday was enacted at the Council of Laodicea (4th century). Through many such steps the Catholic Church established the first day of the week as their official day of worship. Here it is from the Catholic catechism:

    "Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday." --Peter Geiermann, The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (1957 ed.), p. 50.

"The Church made a sacred day of Sunday...largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun; for it was a definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and to give them a Christian significance." --Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, p. 145. Copyright 1928 by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.


This change in the day of worship, lacking any Scriptural authorization, can be attributed to nothing but Catholic authority. The fact that the Christian world at large accepts that change, is cited by Catholic leaders as proof of the unchallenged, supreme ecclesiastical power of the Church.

    "Q. Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;--she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority." --Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism (3d American ed., rev.; New York: T. W. Strong, late Edward Dunigan & Bro., 1876), p. 174.

"Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] Church." --Louis Gaston de Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of To-day (Boston: Patrick Donahoe, 1868), p. 225.


The express commandment of God says, "The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God." Exodus 20:10.

    "But the Church of God has thought it well to transfer the celebration and observance of the Sabbath to Sunday." --Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, trans. by John A. McHugh and Charles J. Callan (1958), p. 402.

"They will needs have the Church's power to be very great, because it hath dispensed with a precept of the Decalogue." --The Augsburg Confession (1530), part 2, art. 7, "Of Ecclesiastical Power," trans. in Phhiliip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (New York: Harper, 1919), Vol. 3, p. 64.


The seventh-day Sabbath is the sign that JESUS IS LORD:

Sunday observance, on the other hand, is the sign, or mark, of the beast's authority:

The passage we are studying in Revelation 13 indicates that the beast's mark will be imposed on everyone by law. This can only mean that Congress will pass legislation that requires nationwide Sunday observance. It is evident from the text, however, that the law will eventually be enforced worldwide. In order for this to happen, lawmakers and statesmen will have to completely sell out to united pressure from the ecumenical faith community. But we have already seen that in times of national or international crisis, power leaders grab control in ways that they would not otherwise be able to attempt.

"In their right hand, or in their foreheads"

Where is this mark received? Why does the KJV translate this, "in" their right hand or "in" their foreheads? The Greek word is epi, which is usually translated "on" or "upon." Does not this indicate an external, visible mark? Not necessarily. Like most Greek prepositions, epi has different meanings depending on the case of the noun with which it is associated. In fact, it is the case of the noun itself, rather than the preposition used, which determines the correct translation of the clause.

In this instance, as well as in Revelation 14:9, the words "hand" and "forehead" are in the genitive case. When epi is used with a genitive substantive, it can be used in both literal and figurative senses. A literal meaning could be translated "on," "upon," "at," "near," or "before." But the same construction can also indicate a figurative meaning such as "over, of power, authority, control of or over someone or something" (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). For example: "Ruler over (epi) his household." (Matthew 24:45; Luke 12:42). Revelation 17:18 uses epi in this sense: "That great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth."

Sometimes the Revelator used the word epi (translated "over") in connection with the word "power":

Often the word epi is used by itself when describing positions of authority or control:

Acts 12:20 mentions Blastus, "the king's chamberlain." The Greek literally says, "Blastus, who was over (epi) the bedchamber of the king."

It is well established, therefore, that epi often denotes a position of power or control over someone or something. So how does that fit the context of Revelation 13:16 and 14:9? The issue in these verses is authority. The beast has a mark which identifies those who submit to his authority. This mark will be evident in all except those who on pain of death dare to defy that authority. The Biblical description here indicates that the beast's mark shows his control over people's mind and conscience ("forehead") and over their conduct ("hand"). Those who submit their will to the beast reveal the mark of his power over their forehead. Those whose actions are controlled by the beast exhibit in those very actions the mark of his power over their hand.

Verse 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.

"That no man might buy or sell"

The fact that these restrictions are implemented indicates that there are some who refuse to demonstrate any allegiance to the beast or his image. In chapter 12's account of this, these non-conformists would be the "remnant" who choose to "keep the commandments of God."  (See how chapters 12 and 13 line up.)

Verse 18

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

"The number of the beast"

Some may wonder which beast this refers to, since two are described in this chapter. As a general rule, whenever Revelation speaks of "the beast" without any other clarifying designation, it usually refers to the first beast of chapter 13. The second beast is introduced in verse 11 as "another beast", then in all subsequent references it is simply designated as "he", while references to "the beast" throughout the chapter continue to designate the first beast. Here is no exception.

"Six hundred threescore and six"

To the Babylonians the number 666 was a sacred symbol of pagan worship. Illustration

The Bible tells us four things about this mystical number:

  1. It is "the number of the beast".
  2. It is "the number of a man".
  3. It is "the number of his name" (verse 17).
  4. If a person "hath understanding" he can "count the number".
So we are directed to count the number of the name of the man who is the beast. This, of course, requires an "understanding" of who the beast is, and what his name is. Our commentary on verses 1-10 of this chapter provide an identification of the beast according to the characteristics provided in the passage. For a discussion of his "name" and its "number", see 666.



"Choose you this day whom ye will serve." Joshua 24:15.
"His servants ye are to whom ye obey." Romans 6:16.
"We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29.