Who are the two beasts in Revelation 13?

And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads. On its horns were ten crowns, and on its heads were blasphemous names.

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 

-Revelation 13:1 and 11

I wanted to make some notes on who are the two beasts in Revelation 13.  These notes are from Steve Gregg’s book, Revelation – Four Views, pp. 332-37, 350-55.

The “Four Views” are Historicist, Preterist, Futurist, and Idealist.  Many scholars hold a combination of views or overlaps and hybrids.  For chapter 13, I would mainly hold the Idealist view, which sees the fulfillment of the prophecies as spiritual and recurrent, representatively expressed throughout history, rather than, “one time, specific fulfillments”.  So, the book of Revelation is applicable to all Christians throughout time (Gregg, p.13).  With that in mind, I see these two beasts living in the first century and today.

  • The first beast represents:
    • an incarnation of politisocial evil (Earl Wesley Morey).
    • any governmental system at any time that opposes the kingdom of God (Steve Gregg).
      • The sea is a standard symbol for the nations of the Gentile world (Steve Gregg).
    • the persecuting power of Satan operating in and through the nations of the world and their antichristian governments (William Hendriksen).
    • the persecuting power of human governments (Ralph F. Wilson).
    • governmental power, power politics: the state (Michael Wilcock).
    • the Dragon’s agent for Satan’s war on the saints (Henry B. Swete).
  • The second beast represents:
    • the false religions and philosophies of this world (William Hendriksen).
    • false religion as the servant of secular power: propagandists (Ralph F. Wilson).
    • organized religion, prostituted for evil ends, employed to support civic power (George Eldon Ladd).
    • the role of religion in effecting the capitulation of mankind to the worship of secular power: humanism (Robert H. Mounce).
    • the Proconsul and the Commune of the Province of Asia (James B. Ramsey).
    • the Roman “Commune” or “Concilia”, and official body set up in the provinces to enforce emperor-worship (Herschel H. Hobbs).
    • all forms of false worship which followed, including the papacy and many other systems of false religion (Homer Hailey).

References/Bibliography:

Our God Reigns: An inductive approach to the book of Revelation, Earl Wesley Morey

Revelation: Four Views, revised and updated, Steve Gregg

More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation, William Hendriksen.

The Book of Revelation: Discipleship Lessons, Ralph F. Wilson

The Message of Revelation, Michael Wilcock

Commentary on Revelation: The Greek Text, Henry B. Swete

A Commentary on the Revelation of John, George Eldon Ladd.

The Book of Revelation , Robert H. Mounce.

Revelation, James B. Ramsey.

The Cosmic Drama: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation , Herschel H. Hobbs.

The Book of Revelation – An Introduction and Commentary, Homer Hailey.

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