Part 6. Conflict between the church and the powers of evil (12:1—14:20)
6.4. The beast from the sea (13:1-10)
6.5. The beast from the earth (13:11-18)
† PICTURE: John witnesses the war between Satan and the Church. Two satanic beasts appear and fight with God’s people: one from the sea and one from the earth. They make war with the saints through political and religious persecution, and deceive the whole world into following Satan and receiving the mark of Satan.
13:1 The dragon stands on the seashore to summon two beasts to assist him in the war, one from the sea and one out of the earth. The dragon and the two beasts form an unholy trinity of evil.
The 10 horns are like those of Daniel’s fourth beast (Dan 7:7). They are the 10 kings that rise out of the fourth kingdom. Since the fourth kingdom is the Roman Empire, the 10 (future) kings come from the territory of the ancient Roman Empire. Some modern commentators interpret the 10 kings as all the nations in the European Union. It represents the deification of secular authority.
The 7 heads are also 7 kings (see 17:10). They may be a succession of secular empires. The power and authority of the beast come from the dragon. Many identify this as the antichrist.
13:2 The beast combines characteristics of the 4 beasts of Daniel 7. They were 4 historic kingdoms hostile to the people of God. The beast receives the authority from the dragon.
13:3 One of the 7 heads has been dealt a mortal wound by the sword (v.14). But the beast survives the death stroke. Perhaps, the event shows the tremendous vitality of the beast.
13:4 Symbolically, the deification of secular power is in fact the worship of Satan. The questions show that the motivation for worship is the awesome power of his might.
13:5 The beast is allowed to blaspheme for a period of 3.5 years. This again is similar to the little horn of Daniel 7 with its “mouth that spoke boastfully” (Dan 7:8). The passive action “was given” emphasizes divine permission as God is the ultimate source of all power.
13:6 The beast opens his mouth to blaspheme God just as portrayed in 2Th 2:4. There are 3 objects of blasphemy: the name of God, His dwelling place, and those that dwell in heaven. To slander the name of God is to speak evil of all that He is and stands for. The name sums up the person. His dwelling place is His “tabernacle”. Those who dwell in heaven are either angelic beings or the church.
13:7 Universal authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation is given to the beast. He exercises his authority first by making war against the saints and conquer them. The saints are physically defeated yet they are spiritually victorious. The relinquish their lives rather than giving up their faith in God.
13:8 The second kind of exercise of authority is his demand of universal worship. The “inhabitants of the earth” (pagan world) will join in worship of the beast, except the ones whose names have been written in the book of life. It is a register of the names of all who belong to God. Here and in 21:27, the book of life is said to a book owned the Lamb.
13:9 This is a call to attention, equivalent to “Now hear this!”
13:10 There are 3 interpretations:  Inevitability of persecution and death for the faithful in the persecution;  Warning to the enemies: If anyone leads a believer into captivity, into captivity that person will go. The enemies of God’s people would be punished for their persecution of believers.  Warning to the Church: He who kills with the sword, must be killed with the sword. The first half teaches that the believer must accept what God has ordained, and the second half warns against attempt on the part of the church to defend itself by the use of force.
13:11 The second beast now comes out of the earth. If the first beast is a political leader, the second beast represents a religious leader. This one is a deceiver who is called the false prophet (16:13; 19:20; 20:10). The evil triumvirate (satanic trinity) is now complete—dragon, antichrist, false prophet. As Christ received authority from the Father (Mt 11:27), so antichrist receives authority from the dragon (Rev 13:4); and as the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (Jn 16:14), so the false prophet glorifies the antichrist (Rev 13:12).
His two horns like a lamb represent his attempt to convey the impression of gentle harmlessness. The dragon-like speech may mean either that he spoke with the roar of a dragon or that, as the serpent in Eden, his speech was deceitful and beguiling. His role is to cause people to worship the image of the first beast, enforcing compliance with economic boycott and the threat of death. Such a religion may appear either as a personal cult of the antichrist or the worship of both secular institutions and humanism (man as God).
13:12 His authority comes from the first beast and he forces the inhabitants of the earth” (again the unbelievers) to worship the first beast.
13:13 The false prophet performs signs and wonders to deceive people into worshipping antichrist.
13:14 The second beast makes an image of the beast who survived the stroke of the sword.
13:15 The second beast was given power to animate the image of the first beast. The image then speaks and passes death sentence upon all who would not worship.
13:16 The second beast requires all people to receive the mark of the beast on their right hand or forehead. As the elect are sealed upon their foreheads (ch.7) to escape the destruction by demonic forces, so the followers of the beast are to bear the mark of the beast to escape the wrath of Satan. The mark is obviously visible. It symbolizes unqualified allegiance to Satan.
13:17 The mark allows the people to engage in simple commercial transactions. Those who do not have the mark will find life extremely difficult, being unable to obtain any necessities of life from others. The mark IS the number of his name.
13:18 No verse in Revelation has received more attention than this one with its cryptic reference to the number of the beast. There is no consensus on whom or what John had in mind. Some possibilities:  The most commonly accepted today is that of Nero Caesar. It is calculated from a Hebrew transliteration of the Greek form of a Latin name.  666 is the number that falls short of perfection in each of its digits. It is symbolic of the beast’s continuing failure to accomplish his purpose. It is the trinity of imperfection.
† 1Jn 2:18 says that, “the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.” Just as the two beasts in Rev 13, we can see satanic influence in both the political sphere and the religious sphere. Political institutions have become increasingly more secularized, trying to expel God from the public square. Many religions try to deceive the world to worship false gods and Satan. Even among some Christian denominations, many leaders openly teach against the Bible. Christians must try hard everyday to build a solid foundation of faith and to discern and reject antichrists.