The 13th chapter of the book of Revelation introduces us to the Beast from Hell. "Then I [Saint John] stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a Beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name" (Revelation 13:1).
More details of this Beast are given in Revelation chapter 17: "The seven heads are … seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time" (Revelation 17:9–10). "Kings" in this instance stands not just for a single person, but kingdoms or empires.
The details that are covered in this chapter are fascinating, but at the same time things may seem complicated as we try to decipher what the heads and horns and crowns of this Beast represent. However, please don't be put off by all these details. The main thing to understand is that the Antichrist is the ultimate embodiment of the Beast. We don't have to hang a label on every head and horn—and at the moment we can't—but we do understand a considerable amount of what this vision represents, and so we will try to unravel at least some of the mystery here.
It is a point to remember that the Bible is a book to, for, and about God's people. And so the events described in Revelation are directly related to God's people. If we look back at their history, it becomes clear what the first six kingdoms were.
In the Old Testament the Jews were God's people, but by the time of the New Testament God's people included everyone who received Jesus as his or her savior.A The Jews often lived in their own independent nation, but they were, for large periods of time, dominated and ruled by five successive empires. These were, in order: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and then the Empire of Alexander the Great and his successors. These five empires had all "fallen" by the time of John's vision. The Roman Empire, which was officially declared an empire in 27 BC, was in power and thus the one that "is" when John wrote this.
Although there have been empires in the intervening centuries from the fall of Rome till now, none of them have entirely dominated God's people in political, civil, and military ways as these first six did. Since the time of John, Christians are found throughout the earth, and thus have not been all ruled by any other single empire until this last empire that is yet to come—the seventh head of the Beast, which John described—once again achieves this political, civil, and military dominance over God's people. What have we learned about this final empire of the Antichrist? It is global in its dominion, or very nearly so, it seems.
John writes: "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the Beast" (Revelation 17:12). These ten horns are obviously personalities, because they have no kingdom. Because these ten kings, kingdoms, or powers had "received no kingdom as yet" during John's day, at the time of the Roman Empire, it can be safely assumed that these "ten horns" are all on the final seventh head, the empire of the Antichrist. "These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the Beast" (Revelation 17:13).
In chapter 7 of the book that bears his name, Daniel also had a vision of beasts. He describes four that, similar to the heads on the Beast in Revelation, represent the empires that dominated the Jews. In this chapter the first three beasts represent Babylon, Persia, and the Empire of Alexander the Great. The fourth kingdom, a monstrous beast described in the passage following, represents the empire of Rome:
Out of the head of this beast grew ten horns that correspond to the ten horns on the seventh head of the Beast described in Revelation chapters 13 and 17. Since this beast of Daniel represents the Roman Empire, this is an indication that these ten kings, nations, or powers of the Endtime Antichrist Empire will likely come from the remains of the ancient Roman Empire. Many of the nations of modern Europe were part of the Roman Empire. Today we see Europe becoming more and more a united entity. Could the European Union be a precursor of the core of the Antichrist Empire of the future?
The little horn in this passage that arises after the ten has all the hallmarks of the Antichrist, and indeed it does represent him. Daniel tells us that three of these ten leaders, governments, or countries are plucked up by the roots—overthrown by the Antichrist in his ascent to global power. Whether this happens because of war, internal coups, financial crises, or the leaders and governments of those three that oppose the Antichrist are turned out of office peacefully and replaced by Antichrist supporters, we don't know. Being "plucked out by the roots" and "subdued" seems to denote violence, but in another place where it describes the Antichrist's rise to power it says, "He shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue" (Daniel 11:21).
Whatever the case may be, the Beast in Revelation once again has the full complement of ten horns. The three are replaced by Antichrist supporters, and all ten now "are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the Beast" (Revelation 17:13).
You'll have noticed that the Dragon and the Beast described in Revelation bear some remarkable similarities. They both have seven heads and ten horns, but they differ in that the Dragon has seven crowns upon his seven heads, whereas the Beast has ten diadems, or crowns, upon its ten horns.
"The Dragon gave [the Beast] his power, his throne, and great authority" (Revelation 13:2). The power behind the throne in all these empires that have had temporal rule over and have often cruelly persecuted God's people through millennia is none other than that great red Dragon, Satan. But now he is cast down to the earth, and he intends not just to be the power behind the throne but the very power himself in the person of the Antichrist.B
Things get a little complicated because the Beast is a seven-headed monster, but only the seventh head is specifically the Antichrist. Yet the Antichrist is referred to in Revelation as the Beast. The Antichrist is the incarnation of the seven-headed Beast in the last days, but the whole Beast has been anti-God, and therefore by extension anti-Christ, since it first manifested itself in the ancient Egyptian Empire. Although there were some good personalities associated with and sometimes even ruling those ancient empires, the essence of those empires was anti-Christ, as can be seen by the persecutions they often mounted against God's people. Generally when the Beast is referred to from this point on, it is speaking specifically of the Antichrist. John continues:
We find out that this mortally wounded head is the seventh head, the Antichrist, when a few verses later on we read that the Antichrist has a false prophet who "causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the … Beast [the Antichrist], whose deadly wound was healed … telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the Beast who was wounded by the sword and lived" (Revelation 13:12–14).
This assassination attempt on the Antichrist is the pivotal moment in his satanic career. A mortal wound is one that you die from. If he doesn't die from it, it cannot be said he was mortally wounded. This "head," in other words, is definitely dead. The Antichrist has been killed. End of story? No! He comes back from the dead. His "healing" is such a "miracle" that "all the world marvels."
Revelation 17:8 again states that "those who dwell on the earth will marvel … when they see the Beast that was, and is not, and yet is." Now things are going to get even more intriguing as we are presented with a riddle. "And the Beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition" (Revelation 17:11). This Beast of Revelation has only seven heads. So where does this eighth one pop up from? Somehow an eighth personality has entered the equation.
When the Antichrist first rises to power and confirms the seven-year Covenant, he is the head of the seventh great empire. But he is not yet really completely anti-Christ; he hasn't yet been fully possessed of the Devil. But "in the middle of the week," three and a half years after confirming the Covenant, he is killed and resurrected. This "resurrection" would serve as his credentials to divinity. It seems that it is at this point the Antichrist becomes possessed completely by the Devil. He looks like the very same man, the seventh head, only he is now the eighth.
The Bible records a significant behavior change at this point. The man is obviously evil of heart to begin with, but now he is no more Mr. Pretend-Nice-Guy. He will no longer be the same man who brought world peace, solved the thorny problem of Jerusalem, and made the Covenant. Now "the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [Hell or damnation], who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).
The Devil is the ultimate megalomaniac. Satan has always wanted to be worshiped as God. He even tried to get Jesus to "fall down and worship [him]" (Matthew 4:9). And now he is demanding that the world worship him. Satan in the form of a man is finally going to get what he's been after all the time, kingship of the world, and to be worshiped as God.
The Antichrist Beast will be Satan incarnate, Satan in the flesh, just as Jesus was God in the flesh. And this will result in hell on earth during those last three and a half years of the Antichrist's reign. "And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months" (Revelation 13:5).
A. Some scriptural passages that support this position follow:
"Just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed.' So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham" (Galatians 3:6–9).
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:26–29).
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:16–17).
"That having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7).
"He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (John 1:11–12).
[Jesus said to the chief priests and Pharisees:] "'Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, They will respect my son. But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, this is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance. So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?'
"They said to Him, 'He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.' Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
"'Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.' Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet" (Matthew 21:33–46).
B. In Daniel chapter 8, we are also told that the Antichrist's great power is not of himself: "And in the latter time … when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power;"—but by Satan's power—"he shall destroy fearfully and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity" (Daniel 8:23–25).