4 Truth Ministry

The Beast from the Sea Part 1: Seven Heads


By David Sheldon

Last Updated: May 19, 2022

Understanding the Beast From the Sea in Revelation 13 can seem like an overwhelming task! Much of the book of Revelation includes symbols that convey certain truths, and we are not used to the truths of Scripture being given in word pictures. (See 5 Reasons Revelation is Hard to Understand) But if we key in on one vision/symbol at a time and let the context define it, we will gain much understanding!

This article focuses on The Beast From the Sea. This beast is one of three main players in the end-times, the other two being The Great Harlot and The Beast from the Earth. We will look specifically at one aspect of this Beast From the Sea – the seven heads. You can read about the beast’s ten horns in The Beast From the Sea Part 2: Ten Horns.

Please note: This beast who comes up out of the sea is also called the scarlet beast (Rev. 17).

Before we begin, let’s read Revelation 13:1-2.

“1 And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then 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. 2 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.” Revelation 13:1-2 NASB

Who or What is the Beast From the Sea?

The first thing we want to do is identify the Beast From the Sea. Who or what is this beast? We need to go back to the Old Testament book of Daniel where beasts are first mentioned. Daniel 7:17 says, “These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth.”

So, beasts are kings.

And Daniel 7:23 says, “…the fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom.”

Also, beasts represent entire kingdoms.

So, beasts = kings = kingdoms. Therefore, the Beast From the Sea is some kind of kingdom (empire). The Beast From the Sea will work hand in hand with the Beast From the Earth as well as the Great Harlot in this kingdom. Do we know what kind of kingdom it will be? This is where the beast’s “seven heads” come in.

What are the Seven Heads?

To know what the seven heads are, we need to look at Revelation 17:8-10. This particular vision was given to the Apostle John towards the end of the first century at the time when God’s people were ruled by their enemy, the Roman Empire.

“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast that he was and is not and will come. 9 Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, 10 and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.” Revelation 17:8-10

Verse 10 says the beast’s seven heads are identified as seven kings (kingdoms). We can identify each of them. The four that Daniel spoke of, history tells us, were four earthly kingdoms that were the enemies of God’s people: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. For the other three, let’s work in reverse. It says ‘one is yet to come’ so we will leave that one unidentified. This leaves us with two even earlier kingdoms. We can determine them from the Old Testament. They were two major world empires that persecuted Abraham and his descendants – Egypt and Assyria. So, the “seven heads” look like this:

1. Egypt
2. Assyria
3. Babylon
4. Medo-Persia
5. Greece
6. Rome
7. One Yet to Come – Final Kingdom

The first five kingdoms already came and went as “beasts” over God’s people. They reigned over/persecuted the people of God in history. The sixth one, Rome (the ‘one that is’ meaning it was the empire at the time of the writing) was not only responsible for crucifying Jesus, but according to tradition, put both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul to death and persecuted many more. The seventh one, the Beast From the Sea, is no different. It will be a kingdom (possibly present or near future?) that will also directly persecute God’s people (Rev. 13:7). It will be a “revived Rome” called “Babylon” which you can read more about in Babylon in Revelation.

The Beast from the Sea with Seven Heads

To recap so far, the Beast From the Sea will be its own kingdom but also represents six earlier kingdoms (heads). The Beast From the Sea has been seen every time it reared one of its ugly heads. The seventh head will be the final head as well as the final culmination of all seven heads. It will be the completion of rebellious kingdoms that God has ordained would be allowed to rise up against Him and His people. The fact that this final kingdom is “from the sea” tells us something even further.

Why Does the Beast Come Up Out of the Sea?

Do we know why this beast ‘comes out of the sea’? What does this mean? Is it a literal sea? With our modern technology, we have satellite pictures of the world’s beautiful geography – oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers. We also have deep sea vessels that can take “up close and personal” pictures. They help us view the grandeur of creation!

Ancient mariners, however, probably had a different view of the seas. Many of them did not make it home safely. The seas were most likely a very threatening and scary place to them. The sea represented something deadly and unknown.

Therefore, probably the best way to understand why this beast ‘comes up out of the sea’ is this: this world empire might arise in either an unknown, sudden, mysterious, and/or even deadly manner.

The Beast from the Sea with Seven Heads

Chart of Seven Heads

Daniel 2:40-45 also speaks of the Beast from the Sea but with different imagery. A dream was given to King Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon) of a statue, and God grants to Daniel both the dream and the interpretation of the dream. The statue with corresponding kingdoms is describing the Beast from the Sea. There is much that could be said about this statue, but we just want to see how it corresponds to the beast’s seven heads. This can be seen in the following chart.

The Beast from the Sea with Seven Heads

What Does This Beast Mean For Us?

God has ordained that there will be a final world empire. It will be similar to the first six empires that persecuted God’s people. It will symbolically be called Babylon just like the Babylonian Empire that led captive Daniel and his friends. (Also see Babylon in Revelation) It is called a “beast” just like the world empires of Daniel 7. It will be global and powerful. But it will also be very short-lived as God executes His purposes rather swiftly during its rule, as well as quite dramatically and finally with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

This article was first written 6/29/20 and last updated 6/28/23.

For more about this beast and its ten horns, read The Beast from the Sea: Part 2 – Ten Horns.

Side Note: some of the descriptive terms in Revelation 13 of the Beast from the Sea also incorporate certain aspects of the first three beasts in Daniel 7. You can learn more about Daniel 7 in Daniel’s End Time Prophecies.

5 Reasons Why Revelation is Hard to Understand

There are several reasons why the Book of Revelation is hard to understand. Grasping these five should give confidence to keep reading & studying the book!

The Beast from the Earth Part 2: The Image and Mark

The Beast from the Earth in Revelation 13 is one of three main players in the global system at the end of this age, along with the Beast from the Sea and the Great Harlot.

The Beast From the Sea Part 3: The Antichrist

The Beast from the Sea is one of three main players in the final world kingdom. Its leader is the Antichrist. He has several defining characteristics and doings.

The Beast From the Earth Part 1: The False Prophet

The Beast from the Earth is a prominent player in the final world system. There are several facets to it including a leader (The False Prophet), mark, & image.

Who are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

We must correctly understand the four horsemen of the apocalypse in order to properly understand the rest of Revelation. Who are they and what is their mission?

Is Revelation in Chronological Order?

Revelation is more of a montage. Some of the chapters are in chronological order, but many overlap each other. Our charts give a visual explanation of this.

When and Where Will the Antichrist First be Seen?

2 Thessalonians 2:3 states specifically that the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, will be revealed in the end times. Scripture tells us the circumstances.

Who are the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11?

The two witnesses of Revelation 11 proclaim a message of repentance and judgment for a period of 1,260 days during the first half of the end-time tribulation.

What are the Trumpets and Bowls of Revelation?

The trumpets and bowls found in Revelation are specific events of God’s judgments that will take place at the end of the age. They are very similar to each other.

Is the Rapture of the Church Found in Revelation 4?

Some believe John’s experience in Revelation 4:1-2 is representative of the rapture of the church before the seven year tribulation period. Is this the case?

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