The two Beasts of Revelation 13: the Man of Sin and the False Prophet
(Revelation 13, 2nd Thessalonians 2)
[These notes contain only the briefest of sketches on this subject – please see the references for further details.]
Summary in 7 Headlines
1. Two Men Emerge
Two personages emerge onto the world stage in the years preceding the return of the Son of Man (Revelation 19v11-21), reaching a zenith in the final three and half years of the Daniel’s seventieth week (Revelation 13v5 –42 months). They are identified by the designations the Beast’ and the False Prophet (Revelation 19v20). The emergence and characteristics of these two men is the subject of Revelation 13.
2. The First Beast
The first Beast, generally referred to as ‘the Beast’ is elsewhere identified as the ‘Little Horn’ (Daniel 7v8), ‘the Prince that shall come’ (Daniel 9v26), the Man of Sin, the son of perdition’ (2nd Thessalonians 2v3) and the ‘wicked one’ (2nd Thessalonians 2v8).
3. The Beast’s Empire
The Beast and his kingdom (empire) (Revelation 16v10), Satanically empowered and promoted, are seen to be the successor of previous regional empires.
4. The Beast’s Leadership
He becomes the dominant political and military world leader, miraculously recovers from a wound ‘unto death’ and subsequently is the subject of almost- universal adulation and worship (Revelation 13v3-4).
5. The Worship of the Beast
The ‘Beast’ worship becomes the only recognised ‘religion’ and the apostate religious system, ‘Babylon’ is destroyed by the ten kings who submit to the authority of the Beast (Revelation 17-18).
6. Allegiance to the Beast
Men who own allegiance to the Beast, by receiving his mark (Revelation 13v16-17), and worship him, have sealed their eternal doom (Revelation 14v9-11). Within the realm of his executive power, the mark of the Beast becomes necessary to engage in all economic and commercial activity (Revelation 13v16-17), those who refuse do so at peril of their lives.
7. The second man: the False Prophet
The Second Beast, the False Prophet, again is empowered by Satan (2nd Thessalonians 2v9 – to promote the first Beast as the man to men should own allegiance and worship, including the making of an image to the Beast, which will be located in the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24v15).
Now to Revelation chapter 13:
Revelation chapter 13 divides clearly into two parts: verses 1-10 and verses 11-18.
Verses 1-10: the Beast from the sea – empowered by Satan, He becomes a political and military leader, and subsequently is worshipped as God.
Verses 11-18: the Beast from the earth – again, empowered by Satan, his work is to promote the first Beast as the man to whom men should own allegiance and worship.
Verse 1 in the RV commences like this, ‘And he stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast coming out of the sea’. The ‘he’ would then be the dragon (Satan) of chapter 12, the sea is generally accepted to be the Mediterranean Sea. Satan, having been cast out of heaven to earth, now looks to further his ends by empowering two men, who are all too willing to be puppets in his hand.
Looking west, we see the beast from the sea (suggesting, perhaps that this man emerges from the Gentile nations).
Looking east we see the land (of Israel), suggesting that the Second Beast, the False Prophet, has a Jewish background.
Verses 1-10 contain the following details
(i) The wildness of the Beast (v1-2)
- Heads and horns
7 heads (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, Rome, ‘revived-Roman’) – see chapter 12v3
10 horns – 10 kings who give their power to Beast (17v12-13)
- Likeness to wild animals
Body of a Leopard – swift and predatory
Feet of a bear – crushing and destructive
Mouth of a lion – savage and consuming
- Satanic gifts
His power- executive power to carry through decisions and plans
His throne – seat of authority – political legitimacy as a supreme ruler
Great authority – viewed as having the right to act
(ii) Wounded (unto death) and wondered at (v3)
- His wound – wounded unto death
- His recovery – deadly wound was healed
- His world-wide appeal – all the world wondered after the Beast
(iii) Worshipped and acclaimed (v4)
- Satan worship
- Beast worship
- Universally acclaimed – in the eyes of men, none like him, militarily beyond challenge.
- Period of continuance – 42 months – second half of Daniel’s 70th week – the period named by the Lord as the great tribulation (Matthew 24v21)
(iv) Words of the Beast (v5-6) – 4-fold blasphemy, he speaks against
- God’s name
- God’s tabernacle
- God’s people – then that dwell in heaven’
(v) War-making by the Beast (v7)
- To make war with the saints (the people) and overcome them (the purpose).
(vi) World-wide influence of the Beast (v8)
- ‘they that dwell on earth’ and ‘whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life’.
(vii) Words to be heard (v9-10)
- A call to hear
- The end for the oppressor and killer
Verses 11-18: The Beast from the land.
(i) His likeness (v11)
- Two horns like a lamb
- Speaks as a dragon
(ii) His authority (v12)
- Exercises the same Satanic authority as the first Beast, in his presence
- Works to cause earth-dwellers to worship the first Beast
(iii) His signs and deception (v13-14)
- Has the power to cause fire to descend from heaven unto the earth
- Through these signs, he deceives men to make an image to the Beast
(iv) His power (v15)
- Has power to give spirit (perhaps an evil spirit) to the image
- The image can both ‘speak’ and pass sentence on those who refuse to worship the image
(v) His Compulsion (v16)
- Causes all to receive the mark of the Beast on their hand or on their foreheads
- All economic and commercial activity restricted to those who comply with the reception of the mark of the Beast.
(vi) The number of the Beast (v17-18)
- The number of man – toil without rest, testimony to the failure of man’s efforts.
Revelation (What the Bible teaches): J Allen (John Ritchie)