THE BEASTS OF REVELATION

PMT 2014-009 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Beast from seaIn Revelation 13:1–2 we are introduced to the beast from the sea who will play a prominent role in Revelation from this point forward: “I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.”

We must understand the “first beast” in Rev 13 both generically and individually. This is not unusual in Scripture: Christ’s body is generic (the church) and specific (Jesus); Adam is generic (man) and specific (Adam). Generically the “beast” is Rome; individually it is Nero Caesar, the head of the Roman Empire of the day.

The rationale for the generic identity is as follows. The book’s time frame supports the identification (see earlier article; cp. Rev 1:1, 3). The beast rises from the sea, which suggests the Italian peninsula where Rome is located and when considered from the vantage of either Patmos or Israel (across the Mediterranean Sea). It has “seven heads” (Rev 13:1; 17:3) that are “seven mountains” (Rev 17:8, 9); Rome is famous for its “Seven Hills.” The beast’s number is an exercise in Hebrew gematria: converting letters into numbers. An ancient Hebrew spelling of Nero Caesar perfectly fits the value: “Nrwn Qsr” (Rev 13:18): n [50] r [200] w [6] n [50] q [100] s [60] r [200].


“The Beast of Revelation: Identified” (DVD by Ken Gentry)
A biblical and historical argument for Nero being the beast of Revelation.


The beast’s evil and blasphemous character suggests Nero specifically, and the emperors generically: Since Julius Caesar the emperors were often considered divine. Roman historian Dio Cassius reports on Nero’s return to Rome from Greece: “The people cried out: ‘Thou August, August! To Nero, the Hercules! To Nero, the Apollo! The Eternal One! Thou August! Sacred voice! Happy those who hear thee!’” (Dio, Roman History 62:20:5) In addition, Nero was the first emperor to persecute Christianity (Rev 13:7), and his persecution prevails as a virtual state of siege for around forty-two months, as prophesied in Rev 13:5 (Nov. AD 64 to June AD 68, Rev 13:5).

The healing of the beast’s deadly wound pictures Rome’s revival after the devastating Roman Civil Wars of AD 68–69, which are caused by Nero’s suicide with his own sword. Roman historian Tacitus reports on the Roman Civil Wars: “This was the condition of the Roman state when Servius Galba . . . entered upon the year that was to be for Galba his last and for the state almost the end” (Histories 1:2, 11)

Roman historian Suetonius writes regarding the outcome of the Civil Wars two years later: “The empire, which for a long time had been unsettled and, as it were, drifting through the usurpation and violent death of three emperors, was at last taken in and given stability by the Flavian family” (Vespasian 1:1). Josephus, the Jewish court historian to the Flavians, agrees: “So upon this confirmation of Vespasian’s entire government, which was now settled, and upon the unexpected deliverance of the public affairs of the Romans from ruin” (Josephus, J.W. 4:11:5).

The “second beast” is the first beast’s minion (Rev 13:11–12). He represents apostate Judaism as concentrated in its religious leadership in its high priestly aristocracy: (1) He arises from “the land” (tes ges), i.e., from within Israel. (2) He appears as a “lamb” (Rev 13:11), reminding us of temple worship in that “the lamb is the dominant sacrificial victim” (Interpreters’ Dictionary of the Bible, 3:58). (3) He “spoke as a dragon,” i.e., as Satan (13:11; 12:3), which reflects John and Jesus’ estimation of what Israel has become (Rev 2:9; 3:9; Jn 8:44). (4) He is also the “false prophet” (Rev 19:20), which reminds us of Israel’s long line of prophets.


“Postmillennialism and Preterism” (4 CDs)
by Ken Gentry
Sacramento eschatology conference lectures on postmillennialism, the beast, the resurrection, and the great tribulation


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5 thoughts on “THE BEASTS OF REVELATION

  1. H Brown January 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    How do you see Rev 13:16,17 relating to the identification of the first and second beasts as Nero & apostate Judaism respectively? How did apostate Judaism force people to bear the mark or name of Nero (coinage? cf Matt 22:19-20)? Do you think it could relate somehow to the Jewish tradition of wearing phylacteries (albeit on the left arm/hand and forehead as opposed to right hand and forehead); as a sign of their apostasy perhaps cf Isa 19:13?
    I would also be interested in your thoughts on a possible present day application of Rev 13:16,17, as so many Christians believe. The number 6 is associated with man generally (he was created on the sixth day) and the “mark” could be an identifier. Modern technology, where biometric markers (finger prints, retinal scans and facial mapping) can be used to identify individuals and coded on micro-transponders for remote reading, is already being utilised.

  2. Kenneth Gentry February 3, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Very insightful! I actually do see the phylacteries as playing a role in this. But basically my argument is that the Jews preferred their temple over their Messiah when they declared “We have no king but Caesar.” Because of your question, I will try to provide a study of your question in a later blog.

    I don’t see the number 6 as significant in 666. In the Greek the number is not given as six and six and six, but as six-hundred, sixty, and six. It is the sum of the letters to Nero’s name when spelled in Hebrew characters. This Hebrew spelling should not surprise us in that Revelation is the most Hebraic book in the NT. Therefore, I believe any attempt at some technological application today is fundamentally mistaken.

  3. John Sweat Jr July 5, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Why does the beast of Revelation 13 have seven heads, ten horns, and “ten diadems” while the Dragon of Revelation 12 has seven heads, ten horns and “seven diadems?” I know of course these details are to be taken symbolically and not literally; however, the consistent thing I read (from preterist) of the Dragon in Revelation 12 is that the seven heads represents the seven the city on seven hills which is Rome. The ten horns represents the division of ten provinces across the empire, and the seven diadems represents the seven emperors of Rome which would compliment what Revelation 17:10 says.

    Why would the beast of Revelation 13 then have ten diadems instead of seven? What is the significance?

    Maybe the nuance is irrelevant, since they are two different figures in the Apocalypse.

  4. Kenneth Gentry July 7, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Good question. It appears that this may be explained by the following. The dragon had the diadems on his head to signify he was “the mastermind” behind world rule, whereas the beast has them on his horns showing they are gained by military conquest, since horns speak of military power, as we see in Da 7:7–8; Zec 1:19, 21. Thus, the reason the dragon only has seven diadems is that he only has seven heads, whereas since the beast’s diadems are located on his horns, he has ten diadems.

  5. Patricia Watkins April 20, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Here is a suggestion for a likely identification of the 2 horns that are on the 2nd Land Beast of Rev. 13:11. Dr. Gentry, I’m not sure how you will identify them in your commentary, but I would take them to be the Pharisee and Sadducee parties that were embedded in the power structure of the Judaic leadership of this Land Beast. Speaking deceptively, like a dragon, was typical of their underhanded methods as they attempted to entrap Christ in His teachings.

    As for the different presentation of the diadems on the dragon’s 7 heads, instead of being on his 10 horns in Rev. 12:3, these crowns upon the 7 heads would indicate that Satan ruled supremely in the 7-hilled city of Rome. He gave his “great authority” and controlling power over the city (“his seat”) into the hands of the Sea Beast, represented individually by Nero at this time, as you have pointed out. Satan boasted of having this power as the prince of the world’s kingdoms to Christ in the wilderness temptation of Luke 4:6, and that he could give it to whomever he wished.

    And although I know you do not agree, I still see a 3rd beast in Rev. 17 coming from the wilderness (Judaic origin), not the sea (Roman origin). Both the Land Beast of Rev. 13 (the false prophet) and the scarlet-colored Wilderness Beast of Rev. 17 (which includes 10 false Messiahs) provide a wicked JUDAIC parody of the True Prophets of Israel (from Moses through John the Baptist) which preceded the True Messiah (Jesus) that the faithful in Israel had anticipated since Moses and the prophets spoke. Since apostate Israel ultimately rejected the teachings of both the prophets and Jesus, these 2 Judaic Beasts are a picture of the resulting false substitutes.

    Simply because the same number of 7 heads and 10 horns appear on both Sea and Wilderness Beasts does not make them one and the same. To me, they still appear to be a Roman and a Judean mirror image of each other. Rome’s beast had 7 hills around Rome to sit upon, and Jerusalem’s beast had its own 7 hills around Jerusalem to sit upon. Rome’s beast had 10 horns representing emperors, and Jerusalem’s beast had 10 horns representing those individuals who strove militarily to become the Messiah over Jerusalem in the struggle leading up to AD 70. I John 2:18 said there would be “many”coming out from among them, so a figure of 10 would not be an exaggeration.

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