What Are the Two Beasts in Revelation 13?

Obama-is-the-AntChristG. R. Beasley-Murray commented that Revelation 13 is a kind of “satanic trinity” (Revelation, 207). Vern Poythress considers the language of Revelation 13 to be a “counterfeit” of the true Christ: “ kind of pseudo-incarnation of Satan, is a counterfeit unholy warrior opposed to Christ the holy warrior” (Poythress, 410). Greg Beale considers this a “Christological parody” (Revelation, 17). For Beale, the “war against the saints” is a “an ironic parody of the Son of man’s final triumph” and even the number 666 is a parody of the trinity (777) (Beale, Revelation 699).

This is a very common view, and one that is, I believe, an accurate assessment of Revelation 13. The Dragon is the father, who is the power behind an anti-Christ image (the beast from the sea). The beast from the earth is a kind of anti-holy spirit, preforming miracles which support the claims of the first beast.

The first beast has a counterfeit resurrection in the form of a mortal wound that was healed (Rev 13:3). The miraculous character of his healing creates astonishment and followers for him, just as the miracle of the resurrection creates followers of Christ. The beast has ten crowns (13:1), parallel to Christ’s many crowns (19:12).

The relationship between the dragon and the first beast is a parody of the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Gospel of John. While it is not fashionable to see Revelation and the Gospel of John as representing similar theology, it appears to me that Beasts of Revelation 13 relate to the dragon and each other in ways which resonate with the Gospel of John.

First, the dragon gives the beast “his power and his throne and great authority” (13:2). This is the same relationship which John describes in his Gospel between the Father and the Son. In John 5:22–27 the Father gives his authority to the Son in order that he execute judgment.

palin-anti-christ

Second, In addition, those who worship the beast are implicitly worshiping the dragon (Rev 13:4). Jesus states in John 5:23 that those who honor the Son, honor the Father. This is an extremely common theme in the Gospel of John.

Third, Both beasts speak with the voice of the dragon (13:11). So too in the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks only what he has heard from the Father (John 7:16-18). In John 5:19-24 the Son can only do what he has seen from the Father.

Fourth, the function of the second beast is to be exercise the authority of the first beast after the near-fatal wound (13:12-13). This beast is not worshiped itself, but does miracles in behalf of the first beast, causing people to worship the first beast. This is not unlike the activity of the Holy Spirit in John 16, who is sent after the resurrection in order to guide the followers of Jesus. The Advocate will not speak on his on authority, but of the one who sent him, the Father. It is perhaps significant that the second beast breathes fire to destroy, in John 20 Jesus breaths on the disciples, giving to them the Holy Spirit.

This list could be multiplied, but these few examples show that the “satanic trinity” is a parody of the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as presented in John’s gospel. While there is little in the way of exact verbal parallels, this not a serious problem since Revelation rarely quotes any text directly, even when it is certain that the writer is alluding to a previous text. While the writer, as a resident of Asia Minor, may have known John’s theology and incorporated it into his own book, it is also possible that this is a hint that the author behind the Gospel of John also produced Revelation.

Bibliography: Vern S. Poythress, “Counterfeiting In The Book Of Revelation As A Perspective On Non-Christian Culture” JETS 40 (1997): 411-18.

21 thoughts on “What Are the Two Beasts in Revelation 13?

  1. I wrote my paper on this topic so I am pleased to see that I can expand on my analysis a bit more in this blog post and give you a sneak peak as to what I wrote. In my paper, I analyzed the two beasts as being another form of resurrection that we will see in the coming age, or the beasts could also be easily referred as fallen angels who are living in opposition to God as they were cast out of heaven into the earth (Rev. 12:4). Even though this verse comes from verse 12 and what you are speaking of arrives in the next verse I believe it serves well as a nice segway into the discussion of what these apocalyptic figures might mean for us in the coming age. In the article of Emperor worship that was read, I assumed that he was applying most of the statistics to every Roman Emperor as the author seemed to imply that each one of them seemed to carry a different trait that worked well for the points they were trying to get across to us. As we can note from the article the beasts of v. 13 cannot be associated with Rome as the author continued on to say that they believe that is closely tied with v. 17 so now we are left with the question of what is the correlation in this. I am lead to believe that the King he is talking about in v. 13 is closely tied with King Nero as he was the first king to be associated with the persecution of Christians. This is also something I talked much about in my last paper so I look forward to you reading my insights on this subject as I believe Revelation is one of my favorite books to learn about as I would like to think I had fun writing the paper. I wouldn’t want to give too much away as this is the subject for my paper so I will just end this blog post here and let you read my paper.

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  2. I would have to agree that Revelation 13 does seem to describe a kind of parody on the Trinity. Considering the evidence, the parody of a resurrection, the several crowns, and all of the similarities to John, there is little reason to doubt that logic. As for who the two beasts are specifically, there is remarkably little to go on other than mindless conjecture. There is no reason to assume the beasts are active today as any kind of literal person or organization. From an evangelical standpoint we ought to have already been raptured away before these events considering they appear after the seals of Revelation 6 and before the bowls of Revelation 16. Furthermore, if the first beast is the Antichrist, then, without ignoring any possible time lapse in the chronological order, how can he be the first horseman as commonly assumed?

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  3. Like Collin said, it does bear the resemblance of a mockery of the trinity. I have always understood the two beasts to that of the anti-christ and that of Satan. In the Bible there are not many other writings about another pair so evil as these. Like you said as well, it shares resemblance to the worshiping him is also worshiping Satan. The only other person on earth who would have that kind of position would be the anti-christ.

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  4. For years, I have read and understood the beasts of Revelation 13 to be Satan and a man of his choosing who would lead people astray during the years of tribulation. I know that this is just one of many way that this portion of Scripture has been interpreted. As Kreitzer stated, “The use of complex and unusual symbols, often involving bizarre animals and mythological beasts, is one of the most striking features of apocalyptic literature and the one that has occassioned all sorts of interpretations over the years” (Apocalypticism, 62). Reading through this chapter as a parody has been eye-opening for me, and I look forward to further study in this area.

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  5. Before reading this post, commenting on the “Obama is the antichrist” photo, Andrew McKay and I were talking about how interesting it would be if Donald Trump was actually the antichrist. He has seemed to lead people into a stronger nationalism through there “faith.” This is leading American Christians to seemingly look at Trump as the savior, whether that’s of this country or of their lives. Reading from Reading Revelation I could honestly believe that Trump could fulfill what it says concerning the first beast. The first beast “makes war on the saints and conquers them, and receives global authority (13:7). Its power, however, runs deeper than mere political and military victory, for the inhabitants of the earth not only follow the beast, but worship it” (119). Donald Trump could very well be the antichrist. While I would not hold tightly to this view it is really fun to toy with the idea.
    The parallels for the trinity are astounding when actually thinking about Satan, the first beast, and the second beast. It is surprising, however, that the Dragon (the Devil) would give his power over to the first beast. I can definitely see that Satan would want to look as though he is parallel to God. If he is going to do anything he will probably do what he felt like God would do. Or at least be a parody of what has actually taken place. I wonder if this is a very political cartoon type of thing that John is doing or if this is supposed to literally take place? My assumption is that it is still very similar to a political cartoon that everyone in the first century would understand.

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  6. I never thought about the Beasley-Murray Satanic trinity that imitates of God’s reality trinity with the dragon, the beast and false prophet like that of the trinity of God. Dr. Long states the relationship between the dragon and the first beast is a parody of the relationship between the Father and Son. In Blackwell book Revelation stated the apocalyptic beast vision work in showing the conflict between oppressive political powers and the kingdom of God (116). Revelation 13 shows three types of beasts, the dragon, the beast of the sea, and the beast of the earth. It reflects or echoes Daniel 7 of the beasts, which represents kingdoms. I think for my focus on this would be the authority and its power it has, to influence people to worship it. Either way, this is for the future end times and to be honest much of this is so complex, trying to connect the dots takes a lot of time and research. Much of this post, reflects knowledge what is given on the blog and Bible verses. I could only imagine the details John saw in Revelation and what is to take place in the future, I personally would have been overwhelmed.

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  7. I was very surprised to hear this side of the two beasts in revelation 13. The connection between the two beasts and how the gospel of John talks about the trinity, specifically the father and the son. In this case, the correlation is between the father and the son and the beast and the dragon. The dragon being God and the beast being the son. The question is though, why are they so similar?
    I find it especially interesting that it is the gospel of John that has a parody of the two beasts, it could have been any other gospel, but of course, it’s the one that is suspected for also being the author’s revelation. This is interesting because the author of Revelation has always been a debate about who it could be. As I was reading through the ESVSB it states that “the earliest church tradition favors the traditional attribution of the revelation of John, “the Beloved Disciple,” who with Peter and James belonged to Jesus’ inner circle.” They say this because John numbers himself as a prophet among the early church fathers. They consistently identified him as John the son of Zebedee, the beloved disciple who authored the fourth gospel and the other epistles.
    With all that being said, it would make sense that the Gospel of John would parallel with what’s happening in Revelation 13. My only question that I am still confused about is that this is John receiving these interpretations from Jesus, so it wouldn’t matter who wrote it. I think what matters is that the two beasts are trying to resemble the relationship of the father and son because that is their purpose for being there someday, to deceive us.

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  8. This idea of the satanic beasts in the book of Revelation being a parody of the Trinity is incredibly interesting. Before reading all the way through Revelation 13 again recently, I did not have much knowledge about the different beasts described and honestly only remembered there being one. Revelation is one of those things that tons of people, Christian or not, are fascinated by and often try to make predictions or guesses about. Lots of people have tried to assign identities to the images in the book even though we won’t truly know who they are until it actually happens. Jamie Davies makes a good point when he says “The point, remember, is not to convert apocalyptic imagery into prose, like cracking a code, but to consider these historical references while recognizing the power of the images as images” (120). While people might try to guess who the beasts are or what the mark is, we must understand that they are images and the purpose that they serve. It’s also interesting to look at the way the relationship between the beasts is written in Revelation. The similarities between their description in Revelation and the Trinity’s description in the Gospel of John was initially surprising to me, but the more I looked at the examples, the more it made sense. I don’t know if John intended to write this way, or if he was led only by the Spirit to write in such a way, but there do seem to be some similarities between the theology of these different relationships.

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  9. The idea that the beasts from Revelation are copying the trinity is something I have never thought of before. I have wondered in the past how these beasts were able to get so many people to follow them if so, much of what they do is bad, but to see that they mirror what is good makes so much sense. There are so many things that could be copied as well. Obviously, as stated in the post, things like the wound of the beast appear to be like Jesus’s wounds and gains awe and the number of the beast reflects the number of perfection, but I think the most eye-catching thing is the relationship between the beasts. The fact that they speak in the same voice and one beast receives his power from the other beast. Jamie Davis also speaks of these actions of the beasts saying, “Thus the three are closely related, like an unholy trinity, the blasphemous power of the heart of the kingdom of this world” (120). This is indeed an unholy trinity that has been made to deceive those of the world for we know that this has been Satan’s main goal all along. This makes me think of the passage in 2 Corinthians 14-15 that talks about Satan and his followers masking themselves to appear as servants of righteousness. In Revelation 13, it is clear that they are not masking themselves just as servants of righteousness, but as righteousness, or God, Himself, and many will be deceived by him.

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  10. It seems very logical that the two beasts in Revelation 13 are mockingly opposite of the relationship of Jesus and God the Father. From my own read-through of the text, these are the parallel-like similarities that I found:
    Verse two gives the example of the dragon giving “his power and his throne and great authority” (Revelation 13:2) to the beast. As you stated, this idea is found in the Gospels; Jesus was given the dominion of the Father. In verse three, the example of the “mortal wound” of the beast is given. The ESVSB notes state, “Many interpreters think this verse also predicts a future remarkable recovery of the Antichrist…a deceptive attempt to parallel Christ’s resurrection” (ESVSB 2481). Verse four is a verse that parallels how God gave authority to Christ, and the people worshipped God because of it. We do this in our current day. That is one of the reasons that we worship: because God, so sovereignly and lovingly, gave Christ to have dominion and authority. That same dominion and authority is what gave Christ Jesus the ability to die for our sins, as a substitutionary sacrifice. Verse, the second beast has the same power and authority as that of the first beast, just as God the Father and Jesus have the same power and authority, as they are one. Verse thirteen is quite possibly the most alarming one. In my own mind, it reminded me of the story in Exodus about the plagues that God sent upon the Egyptians because Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go. The part of this story that I was reminded of was the sorcerers and magicians that could do signs much like the signs that God was performing. They were copying His signs, and this is something that will lead people away in the last days.
    All together, this information can be very scary and unsettling, but it is comforting to know that not even the Devil himself can even come close to possessing the power that our God possesses.

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  11. Revelation 13 passage sounds like something out of a horror movie, and I hope we escape it.

    To say that this passage is talking about another trinity is a bit “out there.”

    John is only talking about two beasts. The first beast came out of the sea that had ten horns and seven heads that had names that spoke against God. This beast is not for God, but Satan.

    John describes in verse two: the beast looking like a lion, leopard, and bear. I don’t know how John got this, but I’m going to guess this beast is dangerous and is satanic because thee animals are part of the Ape group, which means they are the most dangerous animals in the animal kingdom.

    The second beast that John describes looked like a lamb but spoke like a dragon. To me, that sounds like a deceiver, appears to look good, but then once you got someone’s attention, you act like what you are. 1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”(ESV Bible Gateway). I think this verse goes with this chapter because the devil may look like a lamb if you aren’t staying alert, and then it can attack you like a thief in the night.

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  12. As previously mentioned in chapter 12, the dragon mentioned here in Revelation is Satan, and objects such as horns, diadems, and so on represent having power (ESV, p. 2479-2480, footnote 12:3). Thus, here at the beginning of chapter 13, we are again presented with the beast and the fact that it has demonic power since it is displaying again ten horns, seven heads, ten diadems, and so on. It goes without saying whoever the antichrist will be, he will be a figure who possesses great power, as well as the ability to manipulate people and nations, and exert control over people and resources. This may be in the form of political leader, president, military commander, or some other similar position. But again, no one knows for sure. The passage of Revelation 13:4 is of particular interest in relation to the need to have a strong foundation in the word to protect us in times of darkness and trouble. Revelation 13:4: “And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “who is like the beast, and who can fight against it”? We are told in verse 3 “the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast”. This is a somber reminder that we live in a overwhelmingly sinful and grotesque society and culture. The masses would rather choose to blindly follow a demonic beast who is obviously not from God, and essentially become “puppets”, choosing to forsake reason and self-thought, rather than take a stand against this type of wickedness for God.

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  13. The first beast in Revelation 13 sounds very unique because it is made with different animal parts. It gained all the power and authority from the dragon who seems to be some sort of father or higher authority. The beast had many followers after he was given authority and they were amazed by him. Why did the people start following him? I think it is because he is powerful and they were captivated by him and the dragon for they were powerful. This beast was able to destroy people and to curse against God. Why did God allow him to do this? It was part of his judgement for the people. The first beast came out of the sea. The second beast came out of the earth. This beast had similar authority to the first and was able to destroy the land. Both of the beasts were able to manipulate and tempt the people on earth. The people worshiped them even those that did not want to were forced to worship them. They received a mark from the beast to sell and trade and that mark was the number 666 which is the name of the beast. Numbers are important in the bible and this number is the name of Satan. There are many parallels in the book of Revelation and this chapter parallels the book of John with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with the dragon, first beast, and second beast.

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  14. The two beasts in Revelation are certainly interesting characters to look into when reading through the book, especially seeing how their relationship works as the story progresses. It is interesting to note the similarities to the relationship of the Trinity, and how much they have in common. I have never seen any of that before, but would be something that could be fun to investigate further. The similarities between the two relationships seem very consistent, which could be because the author of John and Revelation are likely the same.

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    • Cole,
      I totally agree with you about how it is almost scary to see the similarities between this “satanic trinity” and the actual trinity. This is something that I also have never heard of or seen before but it is something that seems very sinister in its design. It makes me mad that in the end times there will be those who are looking for the truth but will be led astray by these false teachers and copies of the things that God has done before. Sometimes I wonder how it is fair for those who don’t know the truth to have to go through these end times and suffer eternal punishment because they didn’t know who to believe. This is definitely a topic that is deserving of further study and should be examined more closely. Great post man.

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  15. Ever since Satan was cast from heaven by God he has been doing whatever he can to disrupt God’s plans and steal souls from the kingdom of heaven. And I say this to say that it would seem to make perfect sense that Satan would try and copy the Trinity. If his main mission is to steer people away from God then he will use whatever trickery he can muster. Some people seem to view the fight between God and the devil as if it is almost an equal fight and God might win by the skin of his teeth. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. God has sealed Satan’s fate and Satan knows it. There is no contest between them. And so because of this, the devil is trying his best to take away God’s children by persuading them he has something better to offer. But for those who know the truth, they understand that what the devil is trying to do is just a knock off of who God is. “Vern Poythress considers the language of Revelation 13 to be a “counterfeit” of the true Christ: “ kind of pseudo-incarnation of Satan is a counterfeit unholy warrior opposed to Christ the holy warrior” (Poythress, 410). So even though he may try his best to deceive people into following him, Satan’s cheapskate copy is nothing compared to the truth of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

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  16. Ever since Satan was cast from heaven by God he has been doing whatever he can to disrupt God’s plans and steal souls from the kingdom of heaven. And I say this to say that it would seem to make perfect sense that Satan would try and copy the Trinity. If his main mission is to steer people away from God then he will use whatever trickery he can muster. Some people seem to view the fight between God and the devil as if it is almost an equal fight and God might win by the skin of his teeth. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. God has sealed Satan’s fate and Satan knows it. There is no contest between them. And so because of this, the devil is trying his best to take away God’s children by persuading them he has something better to offer. But for those who know the truth, they understand that what the devil is trying to do is just a knock off of who God is. “Vern Poythress considers the language of Revelation 13 to be a “counterfeit” of the true Christ: “ kind of pseudo-incarnation of Satan is a counterfeit unholy warrior opposed to Christ the holy warrior” (Poythress, 410). So even though he may try his best to deceive people into following him, Satan’s cheapskate copy is nothing compared to the truth of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

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  17. After reading this post and reading Revelation chapter 13 I would have to say that I am unsure if this could be considered as a “satanic trinity” or parody of the trinity Father, Son, and The Holy Spirit but like I said, I am not one hundred present certain. There is a lot of quotes in the text that could be portrayed as it to be, but it is not directly stated. Between the two beast they are a ton of different types of representations that it could be from all of horns and different animal parts that are along with that beast. For me, it is very hard to determine exactly what all that could be represented as or what it is supposed to represent. All of these beasts could be meant to tell something different, but I am not sure.

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  18. Antichrist is one aspect of the Bible that is commonly known. In every era, someone thinks that there is an antichrist. Back during the World War II, many thought that Hitler was an antichrist. According to Professor Long’s picture, someone apparently thought Obama is the antichrist. Yet what is the antichrist? The most common view of the antichrist is that it is part of a trilogy. The dragon appears to be the father of this antichrist trilogy. The first beast is from the sea and appears to be the antichrist. The first beast falsely resurrects and as a result many follow him. He receives ten crowns. These resembles what Christ gets as a result making him the antichrist. The second beast receives its powers from the dragon. He is able to perform miracles. Both of the beasts are able to talk with dragon’s voice. The second beast is the first beast’s witness and advocate. The beasts are similar to the Christ and the Holy Spirit making them more convincing to the world. The antichrist is the one who people believe is the Christ and who claims to be the Christ despite not being Christ.

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