Read verse 1
Q: Why is it significant that the beast is “coming up out of the sea”?
A: The sea is the repeated biblical metaphor for all the Gentile nations of the world. It is a clear scriptural indication that this first and primary Antichrist figure is an ethnic Gentile.
Q: Why would a 1st century Christian immediately recognize the truth of this?
A: Because to this point, because of the book of Daniel, all the Antichrist types known to this point from both Scripture and history have all been Gentile political figures. What John provides here is a confirmation of previous Scripture.
Q: Does this prevent him from having any kind of Jewish background?
A: No. For instance, Herod was accepted religiously as a Jew even though he was both ethnically Gentile and a citizen of Rome. He was accepted simultaneously as a Jew, Gentile and Roman.
Observation: Note the following scriptural parallels for the beast and dragon:
|“…a fourth beast…and it had ten horns…and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots…
||“…a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his head were seven diadems.”
||“…a beast…having ten horns and seven heads and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.”
Q: What is common in each case?
A: There is a ten and a seven. In Daniel it is having three horns uprooted to leave seven, the dragon has only seven diadems for its ten horns while the beast maintains a diadem for each horn. This all seems to indicate something which begins as a ten but contracts to a seven, the other three being subdued or absorbed at some point.
Observation: In Daniel’s very first vision (Dan. 2), the kingdom of Antichrist is depicted as ten toes of “iron mixed with common clay” which is explained as being “a divided kingdom”. Part of the kingdom of Antichrist is subdued along the way.
Q: How is this a counterfeit of Christ?
A: When Christ returns we find “on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself”. (Rev. 19:12) The diadems on the beast are limited in number and the names on each head are “blasphemous”.
Point: Biblical blasphemy is to slander God and bear false witness against Him. This feature of the beast leaves no doubt that he is in outward opposition to the Godhead.
Q: How might these slanderous names on each of the heads reveal something about the mark of the beast to come at the end of this chapter?
A: Taking the mark is an overt stance against God that involves slandering and bearing false witness against Him, the scriptural definition of “blasphemy”. We will see this overtly take place when at the end of the Bowl judgments it is recorded, “and men blasphemed God”. (Rev. 16:21)
Q: There are many suggestions as to the identity of the ten horns, which Scripture explains are “ten kings”. (Rev. 17:12-13) Why are probably none of them correct?
A: Because it is still too early to know; they do not exist yet.
“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast.
— Revelation 17:12-13
They will not arise until just before the very end, and only for the purpose of serving the authority of the beast. They come into existence with the arrival of the Antichrist.
Point: The first beast comes in the character of Satan, both described as having seven heads and ten horns. The kingdom of Antichrist mimics this shared feature.