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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 13

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-10

The Beast from the Sea In Revelation 13:1-10 John describes a beast that will rise from the sea during the Great Tribulation. The sea is often used to symbolize the nations of the earth.

A Comparison of the Beast Described in the Book of Daniel - If we compare this one beast to the four beasts described in Daniel’s vision of the last days (Daniel 7:1-28), we find a number of similarities. Daniel sees a lion, a bear and a leopard. John the apostle sees a single beast comprising all three of these animals. The beast that John describes has almost all of the characteristics of the three beasts in Daniel’s vision. John’s beast has seven heads, and the total number of heads described in Daniel is seven; the lion had one head, the bear had one head, the leopard had four heads and the terrible beast had one head, for a total of seven heads. Irvin Baxter, Jr. says that John’s vision of one beast, which comprises the characteristics of three of the beasts in Daniel, suggests that these three nations will form some kind of alliance with the dragon during the Tribulation Period. It is descriptive of a “one-world” power under the influence of the beast and of the dragon that is described in the book of Revelation. [92]

[92] Irvin Baxter, Jr., A Message for the President (Richmond, Indiana: Endtime, Inc. 1986), chapter 7.

The fourth beast introduced in Daniel 7:7-8 is popularly compared to the beast described in Revelation 13-20. Both beasts are described in prophetic, apocalyptic-style literature (Daniel, Revelation). Both of these creatures arise out of the sea (Daniel 7:2-3, Revelation 13:1). Both have ten horns (Daniel 7:7, Revelation 13:1), which represent ten kings (Daniel 7:24, Revelation 17:12-13). Both speak with great pomp and blasphemies against God (Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:5-6). Both make war with the saints of God (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:7). Both are defeated by God and thrown into flames (Daniel 7:11, Revelation 17:14; Revelation 20:10), and the kingdoms given to the Son of Man or the Lamb (Daniel 7:13-14, Revelation 14:1). The emphasis made concerning both of these beasts is their terrible ferocity and ten horns, which represent ten kings. The fact that these ten horns were on one beast symbolizes the union of these ten kings and their nations. Because of these many similarities and the context in which they are introduced in biblical prophecy, both beasts are most commonly interpreted by scholars to represent the Roman Empire.

The beast of Daniel 7:0 is generally associated with the image seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2. For example, Archer says that this beast represents the Roman Empire with its widespread power that ruled with an iron fist. He notes that the ten horns correspond to the ten toes on Nebuchadnezzar's image in chapter 2. These ten horns represent the rise of the Roman Empire in the last days from which the Antichrist will arise, who is represented by the little horn that arises and uproots three of the ten horns. [93] The little horn that arises and plucks up three horns may refer to the Antichrist, the dictator that will speak with great power and blasphemy during the Great Tribulation.

[93] Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Daniel, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 7, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House), 1976-1992, in Zondervan Reference Software, v. 2.8 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp., 1989-2001), notes on Daniel 7:8.

Figurative Meaning of the Number “Ten” in Scripture - The Hebrew phrase “ten times” ( פְּעָמִ֔ים עֶ֣שֶׂר ) is used several times in the Old Testament, being made up of two words, “ten” ( עֶשֶׂר ) (H6235), and “times” ( פַּעַם ) (H6471). Although the literal translation is, “ten times,” John Gill understands the phrase “ten times” in Numbers 14:22 as an idiom to mean a rounded number, which is equivalent to “time after time,” thus “numerous times.” He says that although the Jews counted ten literal occasions when Israel tempted the Lord during the wilderness journeys, Aben Ezra gives this phrase a figurative meaning of “many times.” [94] T. E. Espin adds to the figurative meaning of Numbers 14:22 by saying that Israel had tempted the Lord to its fullness, so that the Lord would now pass judgment upon them, even denying them access into the Promised Land, which is clearly stated in the next verse. [95]

[94] John Gill lists ten literal occasions, “twice at the sea, Exodus 14:11; twice concerning water, Exodus 15:23; twice about manna, Exodus 16:2; twice about quails, Exodus 16:12; once by the calf, Exodus 32:1; and once in the wilderness of Paran, Numbers 14:1, which last and tenth was the present temptation.” John Gill, Numbers, in John Gill’s Expositor, in e-Sword, v. 7.7.7 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Numbers 14:22.

[95] E. T. Espin and J. F. Thrupp, Numbers, in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611), with an Explanation and Critical Commentary and a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops and Clergy of the Anglican Church, vol. 1, part 1, ed. F. C. Cook (London: John Murray, 1871), 702.

We can see the same phrase “ten times” used as an idiom in several passages in the Scriptures:

Genesis 31:7, “And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.”

Numbers 14:22, “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;”

Nehemiah 4:12, “And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.”

The NAB translates this phrase in Genesis 31:7 as “time after time.”

NAB, “yet your father cheated me and changed my wages time after time . God, however, did not let him do me any harm.”

The number ten represents a counting system that is based on ten units. Thus, the number ten can be interpreted literally to represent the numerical system, or it can be given a figurative meaning to reflect the concept of multiple occurrences.

Illustration - Jesus told Peter that we are to forgive seventy seven times (Matthew 18:22). In this passage, Jesus did not literally mean that we were to forgive only seventy seven times, but that we were to forgive as often as was necessary to forgive, which is many times.

Matthew 18:22, “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

Thus, the ten horns representing ten kings probably carry the figurative meaning of many kings.

Revelation 13:3 Comments - Revelation 13:3 describes the wounding to death of one of the heads of the beast and its miraculous healing. Some scholars suggest that during the Tribulation Period the beast will be wounded to death and come back to life. Irvin Baxter, Jr. suggests that this wound to one of the seven heads of this beast may represent the wounding of the nation of Germany, which nation was divided after World War II in an attempt to forever destroy the Third Reich. The fact that Germany has now been reunited would be symbolized by the healing of its deadly wound. Its recovery has been described today as an economic miracle. [96]

[96] Irvin Baxter, Jr., A Message for the President (Richmond, Indiana: Endtime, Inc. 1986), chapter 7.

Revelation 13:7 Comments - Hilton Sutton says that Revelation 13:7 describes the “assignment” of the beast, and not his “accomplishments.” [97] This means that Satan does not control the earth during the tribulation, but rather attempts to “anoint” a creature that will attempt to do so. Sutton was commenting on the widespread belief that Satan will control the entire earth during the Great Tribulation period.

[97] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God’s Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c1984), 160-1.

Verses 1-18

The Two Beasts Revelation 13:1-18 describes two beasts that will rise to power and influence during the time of the Great Tribulation.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Beast from the Sea Revelation 13:1-10

Verses 11-18

The Beast from the Earth In Revelation 13:11-18 John describes his vision of a beast that rises from the earth.

Revelation 13:18 Comments - Irenaeus (A.D. 130 to 200) has an interesting interpretation of this number. He compares the number 600 to the age of Noah when the flood came and states that this beast represents all iniquity before the flood destroyed the wickedness off of the earth (Genesis 7:6). Irenaeus compares the size of the statue made by Nebuchadnezzar of sixty cubits high and six cubits wide as representing all of the iniquity of mankind since the flood (Daniel 3:1). He interpreted this statue of Nebuchadnezzar to be figurative of the coming beast in the book of Revelation, in which the whole world was to fall down and worship it. [98]

[98] Irenaeus writes, “And there is therefore in this beast, when he comes, a recapitulation made of all sorts of iniquity and of every deceit, in order that all apostate power, flowing into and being shut up in him, may be sent into the furnace of fire. Fittingly, therefore, shall his name possess the number six hundred and sixty-six, since he sums up in his own person all the commixture of wickedness which took place previous to the deluge, due to the apostasy of the angels. For Noah was six hundred years old when the deluge came upon the earth, sweeping away the rebellious world, for the sake of that most infamous generation which lived in the times of Noah. And [Antichrist] also sums up every error of devised idols since the flood, together with the slaying of the prophets and the cutting off of the just. For that image which was set up by Nebuchadnezzar had indeed a height of sixty cubits, while the breadth was six cubits; on account of which Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, when they did not worship it, were cast into a furnace of fire, pointing out prophetically, by what happened to them, the wrath against the righteous which shall arise towards the [time of the] end. For that image, taken as a whole, was a prefiguring of this man's coming, decreeing that he should undoubtedly himself alone be worshipped by all men. Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception; for which things' sake a cataclysm of fire shall also come [upon the earth].” ( Against Heresies 5.29.2)

Genesis 7:6, “And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.”

Daniel 3:1, “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.”

Philip Schaff mentions another conjecture, which notes that the number 666 adds up to the Hebrew spelling of the Emperor Nero, Neron Kaesar, as follows: n (n) = 50, r (r) = 200, (o) = 6, (n) = 50, q (k) = 100, s (S) = 60, r (r) = 200; in all 666. [99]

[99] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 1: Apostolic Christianity A.D. 1-100 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 845.

John Hagee says that the name of the antichrist in Hebrew will add up to the number 666. [100] Jack van Impe tells us that the Roman numbering system adds up to 666:

[100] John Hagee, John Hagee Today (San Antonio, Texas: John Hagee Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

I 1

V 5

X 10

L 50

C 100

D 500

Total 666 [101]

[101] Jack Van Impe, Jack Van Impe Presents (Jack Van Impe Ministries, Troy, Michigan), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

The final letter M = 1000 may represent the thousand year Millennial Reign of Christ that follows the mark of the beast.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Revelation 13". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/revelation-13.html. 2013.
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