Summary of passage: The angel told John he’d explain the mystery of the woman and the beast she rides. The beast will be destroyed. The inhabitants whose names are not in the book of life will be astonished to see this. The 7 heads are 7 hills and 7 kings. 5 kings have fallen, 1 is, and 1 will come. The beast is the 8th king who will be destroyed.
The 10 horns are 10 kings who have yet to receive their kingdom but will for 1 hour. They have 1 purpose and will hand over their power to the beast. They will war with the Lamb but the Lamb will overcome along with the Lamb’s faithful.
9a) The mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides.
b) The one goal of the 10 kings is to give their power and authority to the beast and war against the Lamb.
c) The Lamb wins!
d) Personal Question. My answer: Every.
10) The Lord: “who is, and who was, and who is to come”
The beast: “you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up and go to his destruction”.
Verb tense jumps out at me right away. The beast exists for a finite amount of time. God is eternal, always, and forever. He is past, present, and future. The beast is a moment in time. He appeared once, is not presently evident, and will in the future again make his presence known.
Remember also the beast was killed, resurrected, and raised (who was, is not, will come). (Revelation 13:3). God has always been, never killed, and will always be.
11a) Because the beast will make every effort to deceive the faithful and turn them from the Lamb. The wisdom comes from God. (Revelation 13:18).
b) Personal Question. My answer: Read and study the Bible, pray, grow closer to Jesus, do His will in my life. I try to follow His will and His commandments in all things in my life. The results have been good.
Conclusions: Groaned at Question 9d. 11a was intuitive. 11b is what we all should be doing to have Godly wisdom in our lives. So much more we could have analyzed in this passage especially the symbolism of the numbers and the Antichrist, but instead we focused on an elementary reading of the passage. See End Notes for more in depth analysis of passage.
Question 10 was my favorite. It’s important to remember God is in control and He controls the beast who will only be allowed to reign for a finite amount of time. God reigns forever.
End Notes: Scholars note the similarity of the beast’s description with Revelation 13:3 “had a fatal wound, but it was healed” and all were astonished (read impressed) and followed. Here, the people marvel as well when the beast once was, is not, and will come.
The beast is persecuting God’s people but its destruction is coming.
In Revelation 13:18 we saw a call for wisdom as well and here for the people to have insight into the true nature of the beast. We also saw in Revelation 13 how the heads, crowns, and horns represented the beast’s authority, power, and strength.
This is one of the most difficult and controversial passages to interpret in the book of Revelation.
Now we see the 7 heads representing 7 hills. Some scholars say there is no doubt this is Rome, built upon 7 hills and 7 emperors of Rome. Rome was built on 7 mountains and a Roman coin shows the goddess Roma sitting on 7 mountains. A few scholars bring in the Catholic Church with its reference to Rome. This was used heavily in the push-back against Rome in the Reformation. Now, however, most scholars dismiss this interpretation altogether.
However, Daniel refers to mountains as governments (Daniel 2:35).
Everything we read in Revelation is a symbol for a historical reality unless the text states otherwise. We have understood all the sevens in the book (seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls) as symbolically representing a complete judgment against a nation. However, there is one seven that we took literally: the 7 churches because they were named individually.
Here, we are told the 7 heads represent 7 kings. Scholars who argue that this passage is about Rome point out that if the angel had left the image at this we would be forced to understand the 7 kings as a symbol representing all the kings of the Roman Empire and what they would do. However, the angel numbers the 7 kings and gives details about them: “Five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.” This leads scholars to say these are the specific emperors around John’s time. Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero are the five who have fallen. The one who is reigning now is Vespasian. Then the one to come who will “remain only a little while” is Titus who ruled only from 79-81 AD. After Titus is Domitian. He is the eighth emperor who is like the beast, belongs to the seven, and goes to destruction. These scholars say the 10 horns is the 10 provinces of the Roman Empire.
However, the 5 that have fallen could be the empires that have fallen before John’s day: Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Medo-Persia, and Greece. One could be Rome. The one yet to come could be the revival of the Roman empire or the world order before the End Times. This one will be eclipsed by the Antichrist.
Daniel 2 & 7 had Daniel see visions of these empires as well as we studied in Lesson 8.
One thing we know for sure is verse 11: The beast is the 8th king and he will be destroyed! Yeah, God!
The 10 kings could be literal or symbolic as of a coalition of nations. Some commentators see this at the EU since those nations can be traced back to the Roman Empire or even NATO. The point is we are already seeing sovereign nations join with others and give their power over to a single ruler–which is what the Antichrist in the End Times will do.
Whoever they’ll be, they have one purpose: to war against the Lamb in the battle alluded to in the sixth and seventh bowls (Revelation 16:12-21).
Conclusions to commentary: A difficult passage to be sure but one thing is certain: Christ wins! Keep that in mind when reading all the details of the before. The end game is what is important; how we get there, albeit relevant, not so important.