Bible Commentaries
Revelation 13

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors




The Woman and the DragonThe Woman, the Child, and the DragonThe Vision of the Woman, the Child, and the DragonThe Woman and the DragonThe Vision of the Woman and the Dragon
Revelation 12:1-6Revelation 12:1-6Revelation 12:1-6Revelation 12:1-2Revelation 12:1-6
Satan Thrown Out of HeavenRevelation 12:3-6
Revelation 12:7-12Revelation 12:7-12Revelation 12:7-9Revelation 12:7-9Revelation 12:7-12`
The Woman PersecutedRevelation 12:10-12Revelation 12:10-12
Revelation 12:13-17Revelation 12:13-17Revelation 12:13-1712:13-18Revelation 12:13-17
The Two BeastsThe Beast From the SeaThe Two BeastsThe Two BeastsThe Dragon Delegates His Power to the Beast
Revelation 13:1-4Revelation 13:1-10Revelation 13:1-4Revelation 13:1-4
Revelation 13:5-8Revelation 13:5-8Revelation 13:5-8
Revelation 13:9-10The Beast from the LandRevelation 13:9-10Revelation 13:9-10The False Prophet as the Slave of the Beast
Revelation 13:11-18Revelation 13:11-18Revelation 13:11-18Revelation 13:11-17Revelation 13:11-17
Revelation 13:18Revelation 13:18
The Song of the 144,000The Lamb and the 144,000An InterludeThe Lamb and His PeopleThe Companions of the Lamb
Revelation 14:1-5Revelation 14:1-5Revelation 14:1-5Revelation 14:1-5Revelation 14:1-5
The Messages of the Three AngelsThe Proclamation of Three AngelsThe Three AngelsAngels Announce the Day of Judgment
Revelation 14:6-7Revelation 14:6-13Revelation 14:6-7Revelation 14:6-7Revelation 14:6-7
Revelation 14:8Revelation 14:8Revelation 14:8Revelation 14:8
Revelation 14:9-12Revelation 14:9-11Revelation 14:9-11Revelation 14:9-13
Revelation 14:12Revelation 14:12
Revelation 14:13Revelation 14:13Revelation 14:13
Revelation 14:13b
The Harvest of the EarthReaping the Earth's HarvestThe Harvest of the EarthThe Harvest and the Vintage of the Gentiles
Revelation 14:14-16Revelation 14:14-16Revelation 14:14-16Revelation 14:14-16Revelation 14:14-16
Reaping the Grapes of Wrath
Revelation 14:17-20Revelation 14:17-20Revelation 14:17-20Revelation 14:17Revelation 14:17-20
Revelation 14:18-20

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHT TO Revelation 12:1-17

A. Another interlude begins in Revelation 12:1 and continues through Revelation 14:20. Many have asserted that this is really another series of sevens. This literary unit describes the spiritual conflict in dualistic terms among

1. the two kingdoms

2. the two cities

3. the two slain witnesses and their murderers

B. Verses Revelation 13:1-6 describe the ultimate (cosmic) battle between good and evil in mythological terms taken from Ancient Near Eastern cultures (cf. Grant Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral p. 229).

1. Babylonian creation accountTiamat (chaos), a seven headed monster who threw down one third of the stars of heaven, versus Marduk, the chief god of the city of Babylon, who kills her and becomes the head of the pantheon.

2. Egyptian mythSet (Typhon), a red dragon versus Isis (Hathor), giving birth to Horus. He later kills Set.

3. Ugaritic Baal legendYam (waters) versus Ba'al. Ba'al kills Yam.

4. Persian mythAzhi Dabaka (evil dragon) versus son of Ahura Mazda (the high good god).

5. Greek myththe Python (serpent/dragon) versus pregnant Leto (she gives birth to Apollo, who kills Python).

C. It is very difficult to know how to interpret this chapter. Some try to interpret it in historical terms, but it seems to me that it is symbolic of the struggle between the anti-God kingdoms of this age and the new age kingdom of our Christ (cf. Revelation 11:18; Psalms 2:0). Therefore, this is both a historical allusion to the birth of Christ and an emphasis on the coming of the Messianic kingdom. This is a dualism of an individual (Messiah) and a group (the people of God) versus an individual (Satan) and a group (demonically inspired unbelievers). This same dualism is seen in the Servant Songs of Isaiah. The servant is Israel (cf. Isa. 41-50), yet the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 52:13-12).

D. Paul discusses the cosmic lordship of Christ in Colossians 1-2 (also note Hebrews 1:2-3).


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the relationship between the 144,000 found in chapters 7 and 14?

2. To what does Mt. Zion refer?

3. Are the qualifications found in Revelation 14:4 a description of a select celibate group or the whole people of God?

4. What is the significance of Revelation 14:6 and 7?

5. Who or what is Babylon?

6. Is hell eternal?

7. Who is the person sitting on the cloud in Revelation 14:14-16 and why?

Verses 7-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 13:7-10 7It was also given to him 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. 8All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. 9If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.

Revelation 13:7 "It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them" This is an aorist passive indicative and an aorist active infinitive. The implication of the passive voice is that God allowed this to occur. We do not understand all that is behind this but it is obvious from the book of the Revelation that God is in control of all history. This war on His saints is mentioned in Daniel 7:21, Daniel 7:25. It refers to the physical death of God's people. There is a time when the enemy seems to be the victor (like Calvary), but Revelation and Daniel teach that this victory is short-lived! Notice that God's people are protected from the wrath of God, but not from the wrath of the beast and his followers. God allows evil an apparent victory in order to reveal its true intentions and nature.

"saints" See Special Topic at Revelation 5:8.

"and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him" This phrase indicates (1) that Revelation needs to be interpreted in a wider sense than the Roman Empire only, because of this universal, inclusive phrase or (2) that this refers to an Empire-wide event.

Revelation 13:8 "All who dwell on the earth" This is a recurrent phrase referring to unbelievers in Revelation (cf. Revelation 3:10; Revelation 6:10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 11:10; Revelation 13:8, Revelation 13:12, Revelation 13:14; Revelation 17:8).

"whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain" It is uncertain syntactically whether the phrase "from the foundation of the earth" is to be taken with (1) "our name written" (cf. RSV, NRSV, TEV, NJB and Revelation 17:8; Ephesians 1:4) or (2) "the Lamb being slaughtered" (cf. KJV, NKJV and 1 Peter 1:19-20). The word order of this text and Revelation 17:8 implies that the phrase probably describes believers' names written in the book of life even before creation!

The phrase "the foundation of the earth" is used several times in the NT (cf. Matthew 25:34; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:19-20). There is also a very similar phrase in Matthew 13:35; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26 and Revelation 17:8. The combination of these phrases shows God's redemptive activity before the creation of the world. Believers are secure in Christ (cf. Revelation 7:4; Revelation 11:1; Revelation 13:8). Evil is limited by a sovereign God (number of passive verbs in this chapter and the time limit). It looks bad in the short run, but look at the big picture!

"the book of life" From Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 20:11-15 we understand that there were two metaphorical books mentioned in connection with human destiny:

1. the Book of Life, which contains the names of those who have personally known God (OT) and have received Christ (NT) [cf. Exodus 32:32-33; Psalms 69:28; Daniel 12:1; Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 34:16; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27]

2. the Book of the Deeds of Mankind, which record human activity, both positive and negative (cf. Psalms 56:8; Psalms 139:16; Isaiah 65:6; Malachi 3:16)

These are obviously metaphors, but they do accurately describe God's ability to know those who are His and to hold those who have rejected Him accountable (cf. Galatians 6:7).

"who has been slain" See note at Revelation 5:12.

Revelation 13:9 "If anyone has an ear, let him hear" This is a recurrent theme in the letters to the seven churches (cf. Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:6, Revelation 3:13, Revelation 3:22). It, like the other phrases in Revelation 13:9-10, is a first class conditional sentence, which is assumed to be true for the author's literary purposes. The fact that these phrases relate to the churches seems to imply that the next phrase (v. Revelation 13:10) is also directed to the people of God.

Revelation 13:10 This verse may be an allusion to Revelation 13:2 or 43:11, which speaks of God's judgment. There are several Greek manuscript variants related to the verb "kill." This has caused the different English translations of this verse.

1. The KJV and NKJV relate both of these phrases to the persecutors of God's people.

2. The RSV and NRSV make the first clause relate to the persecuted Christians and the second clause to the anti-God persecutors.

3. A third possible interpretation (TEV and NJB) is that both clauses refer to persecuted Christians.

The very fact that there is so much variance in the translations shows the uncertainty. It is obviously a spiritual truth that God is in control of history. The only question is to whom the phrase was directed.

1. to Christians to encourage them to remain faithful (cf. Matthew 26:52; Philippians 1:28)

2. to persecutors to assure them that they will one day be accountable before God for their choices and actions?

NASB"Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints" NKJV"Here is the patience and the faith of the saints" NRSV"Here is the call for endurance and faith of the saints" TEV"This calls for endurance and faith on the part of God's people" NJB"This is why the saints must have perseverance and faith"

Revelation 13:9 and the end of Revelation 13:10 show that this phrase must refer to the people of God (cf. Matthew 26:52). This verse also describes the true believers (cf. Revelation 14:12; Revelation 12:11, Revelation 12:17). They are encouraged to hold out until the end (cf. Revelation 2:3, Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:5, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 3:21; Revelation 21:7). Perseverance is evidence of true salvation (cf. 1 John 2:19). See note and Special Topic at Revelation 2:2.

Verses 11-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 13:11-18 11Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. 12He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 14And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

Revelation 13:11 "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth" This is an allusion to Daniel 7:17. Many have assumed that these two beasts are a parody of the two witnesses of God in Revelation 11:13-14, while others have assumed that the dragon and the two beasts are a parody of the Trinity.

As the beast from the sea is an allusion to Leviathan (cf. Job 41:1-34), the ancient master of watery chaos, so the beast from the land is an allusion to Behemoth (cf. Job 40:15-24), the corresponding land monster (this in no way refers to dinosaurs, but to ancient eastern mythology).

These beasts are symbols of evil (chaos) and rebellion in God's created order (cf. Psalms 74:12-14; Job 3:8; Isaiah 51:9-11; Amos 9:3). Sometimes Leviathan is called Rahab ("the twisted one," i.e., the serpent, cf Isaiah 51:9). In other places Rahab is a name for Egypt (the Nile, i.e., twisting river, cf. Psalms 87:4; Isaiah 30:7 and possibly Ezekiel 32:0, especially Revelation 13:2-3).

"he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon" The reference to a lamb is an obvious parody of Christ (cf. Revelation 5:6). His voice and/or message reveals his true character. Later in Revelation the second beast is always referred to as the false prophet (cf. Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10). He does not seek glory for himself, but recruits the world to worship the beast (cf. Revelation 13:12). This is a parody of the work of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14-16) in promoting Christ. So we have an unholy trinity:

1. Satan as a parody of God the Father

2. the sea beast as a parody of God the Son

3. the land beast as a parody of God the Spirit

Revelation 13:13 "He performs great signs" This is a present tense verb which means he continues to perform wonders. It was expected that the end-time false teachers would be able to do the miraculous and lead even the elect astray, if that were possible (cf. Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11; the Didache Revelation 16:3, Revelation 16:4). Miracles are not automatically signs of God (cf. Exodus 7:8-13). This is another parody of Christ's ministry.

"he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men" This is similar to Elijah in 1 Kings 18:38, which may be the source of the description of the two witnesses found in Revelation 11:5. It may refer to fire that fell as a judgment of God in Revelation 13:2 or 39:6. This may be another parody

1. of the two witnesses

2. of God's OT acts

3. of Pentecost in Acts 2:0

Revelation 13:14 "who had the wound of the sword and has come to life" The word "wound" (plçge, cf. Revelation 13:3, Revelation 13:12, Revelation 13:14) is usually translated "plague" in Revelation (cf. Revelation 9:18, Revelation 9:20; Revelation 11:6; Revelation 15:1, Revelation 15:6, Revelation 15:8; Revelation 16:9, Revelation 16:21; Revelation 18:4, Revelation 18:8; Revelation 21:9; Revelation 22:18). The footnotes of the NRSV have

1. for Revelation 13:3 "the plague of its death"

2. for Revelation 13:12 "whose plague of its death"

3. for Revelation 13:14 "that had received the plague of the sword"

The theological intent of these translations is to show that the antichrist is not a person, but a world system. The term can be used metaphorically of a "blow of fate" or a plague (cf. BAGD, p. 674), but its basic meaning is a stroke, or a wound.

The accompanying phrase "and has come back to life" shows that "plague" is not the best translation in these verses related to the beast. The idea of an end-time, anti-God Antichrist leading the nations in rebellion is predicted in the OT in Ezekiel 38-39; Zechariah 14:0; Daniel 7:21-27; Daniel 9:24-27; Daniel 11:36-39 and in the intertestamental apocalyptic literature, Sibylline Oracles, book III; IV Esdras 5.4,6 and Apocalypse of Baruch XL, and in the NT, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9.

Revelation 13:15 "it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast" Elsewhere this beast from the land is called the false prophet (cf. Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10). Perhaps this is the metaphor of injecting life (i.e.,Hebrew ruah = breath) into the movement (cf. Ezekiel 37:0).

Revelation 13:16 "to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead" As the saints were sealed unto God in Revelation 7:3 (cf. Revelation 13:16; Revelation 14:9), here the evil one mimics God's action by marking his own. The Greek word implies an animal brand or a seal on a governmental document. Because of the location of the sign, some have thought that it was

1. a perversion of a Jewish phylactery (cf. Deuteronomy 6:8)

2. relating to the first century Roman culture, in which slaves were branded with their owner's name

3. soldiers tattooed in honor of their general

Revelation 13:17 The mark of the beast relates to the purchase of food, and possibly employment. God's people are not protected from this economic privation.

Revelation 13:17-18 "the number of his name" Ancient languages used the letters of their alphabets to also stand for numbers. As the Hebrew consonants of Jesus' name adds up to 888 (cf. Sibylline Oracles, 1.324), so the name of the beast, the end-time incarnation of Satan, adds up to 666. Six is one less than the perfect number 7 (cf. Genesis 1:1-3, seven days of creation); repeated three times it forms a Hebrew superlative (cf. Isaiah 6:3; Jeremiah 7:4).

It is also possible that since six is the human number, it may refer to a personification of each person of the unholy trinitythe dragon (Satan), the sea beast (Antichrist) and the land beast (false prophet). It seems to me that the first beast is a personification of an anti-God political system and the second beast is a personification of an anti-God religious system. We are moving toward the great whore of chapter 17, the epitome of an anti-God world system from Daniel 7:0. Whether it is ancient Babylon, first century Rome, or an end-time composite world kingdom, it shows that human history is moving toward the ultimate conflict between "the god of this world" (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4) and his minions versus the God of creation and His Messiah (cf. Psalms 2:0).

Revelation 13:18 "his number is six hundred and sixty six" There is no consensus on who this number refers to. There have been countless conjectures, but none have been conclusive. Here are the three best theories in my opinion.

1. Since there is a manuscript variant between 666 an 616, it is possible to use Nero Caesar. The Greek letters translated into Hebrew equal 666 and the Greek letters translated into Latin equal 616.

2. Since a threefold repetition counts for a Hebrew superlative, 666 may mean the most evil person.

3. Since the context denotes a parody on the Trinity, the three Divine Persons are reflected in 777, while the three counterfeit ones 666.


A. It is possible that Revelation 14:0 is a response to the presentation of the overwhelming evil of Revelation 12:0 and 13. I am sure that the readers wondered what would be happening to the saints during this terrible end-time persecution.

B. Some have seen another literary structure of "seven" in Revelation 14:6-20. There is a series of seven angels, but this structure does not seem to be theologically significant.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Revelation 13". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". 2021.