(17.7) And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
“The angel, perceiving that John wonders at what he sees, states
that he will declare the mystery of the woman and of the beast. He does
so, however, by describing the beast first in detail, then the woman and
subsequent action relating to her. Few passages in Revelation have been
the subject of more dispute among scholars who have attempted to interpret
them than this explanation of the angel. Great care, therefore, must be
exercised in determining precisely the component parts of the divine
revelation herein given.”
“And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel?”
The angel, questioning why John marveled as he did, is asking, “Why
don’t you understand? Here, let me explain things so you will
understand.” This is not a rebuke on the part of the angel, just an
expression of astonishment.
3. The angel then says, “I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.” I read from commentator Bob Kollin’s remarks on this subject:
This seven headed, ten horned beast stands for the amalgamation of all pagan religions that have existed through the ages and that will dominate the ten kings during the first half of the Tribulation. Neither the heads nor horns are crowned, indicating that this religious system has no direct authority over any of the world empires or kings of the seventh empire. A false satanically inspired religious system has influenced and dominated the first six empires and will strongly influence and dominate the seventh empire during the first half of the Tribulation. This religious system is hated by the ten kings and will be destroyed by them. The kings give their power to the Antichrist who is called the “Beast” and his Beast kingdom will be the eighth and last Gentile kingdom to persecute Israel.
Heads or Kingdoms / Empires
7. Reconstituted Rome (ten horns)-this kingdom occupies the territories of the old Roman Empire but is considered reconstituted, because there will be ten kings instead of one ruler or Caesar.
This empire will be
ruled by the Antichrist, and according to the Book of Daniel, will
actually be a revival of the Old Grecian Empire within the Reconstituted
Roman Empire. The satanic prince that empowered and controlled Alexander
the Great is considered by many expositors to be the beast out of the
abyss of Revelation 11:7 that will control, empower, and possess, or
oppress the Antichrist. Other possible identities for this satanic prince
are the Prince of Babylon or Prince of Assyria, for the Antichrist will
have a connection to all three prior kingdoms.
The beast that
thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit,
and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder,
whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of
the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
1. There is real disagreement among Bible teachers as to the identity of this beast. Some people are of the opinion that this beast is the Roman Empire, which was, and then which ceased to exist, and which will be revived again someday and be the power base of the antichrist, who is the person referred to as the beast.
2. Still other Bible teachers take a more literal view and hold that this verse is speaking about the antichrist and that this verse tells us much about his identity. Notice some things:
a. He was alive, then he wasn’t, and he will be alive again someday. This seems to be a hint that the beast is some kind of resurrected person who was dead during the time John wrote his Revelation, but who was alive previously.
b. The beast shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, or the great abyss. Now, if the beast is some resurrected person of great wickedness, the possibility of this new lease on life might stem from the fact that he was and then was not. In other words, he didn’t die a normal death where his soul would have gone to Hell. In this case, his soul might have gone to the great abyss instead, if those two places are not one in the same.
c. Folks, some are of the opinion that the beast referred to here, that the antichrist, is Judas Iscariot come back to life. Why? Well, Judas was “the son of perdition.” Judas went to “his own place,” which might not have been Hell, but could have been the bottomless pit. Moreover, Judas had been alive but was dead when John penned his revelation.
beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the
bottomless pit, and go into perdition.”
My own opinion is that the beast mentioned here is not Judas
Iscariot reincarnate or somehow resurrected. Why so? First, he is here
called a beast. If he is Judas Iscariot, why not name him? The reason he
is not named, in my opinion, is that this is not Judas Iscariot. As well,
I am not inclined to think the “bottomless pit”
is the same thing as Hell. Judas Iscariot went to Hell when he died, but
this beast comes from some place else, the place I think God imprisoned
some fallen angels, and at this time he will be released from his
imprisonment to wreak havoc on earth.
So, what is meant by the phrase “was,
and is not” as it applies
to this beast? I am inclined to think that this beast, some powerful
lieutenant of Satan now able to serve him once again after thousands of
years of imprisonment, was active on earth at some time in the past, but
was not active on earth during the time of the Roman Empire, during the
apostle John’s span of life.
One possibility is that this beast is one of the creatures alluded
to in Genesis 6.2, who was isolated from the human race from the time of
the Flood until this future time when his release will coincide with the
outpouring of God’s wrath on the earth.
A second possibility is put forth by Kollin:
beast that was, is not, and yet is, who ascends out of the bottomless pit
is not a person, because people are not in the abyss. The beast is a
satanic prince (fallen angel) who is allowed to vacate the abyss at this
time in history. The beast that “is not” means he is not associated
with the Roman Empire of John’s day but existed or was on the scene of
history prior to Rome. The beast “that was’ (sic) connects him to one
or more of the five world empires before Rome: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon,
Medo-Persia, or Greece. Because the Antichrist will arise from the
territory of the Old Grecian Empire, one explanation for the beast from
the abyss is that he is the Satanic Prince of Greece who controlled and
dominated Alexander the Great as he conquered the known world of that
time. The Prince of Greece would then have been bound in the bottomless
pit since the fall of ancient Greece. However, it is noted that the
satanic prince could be either the Prince of Babylon or the Prince of
Assyria, as the Antichrist is referred to by both titles, King of Babylon
and the Assyrian, and territory from both former Empires, Babylon and
Assyria, fell within the boundary of the Old Grecian Empire. The phrase
“yet is” means that the Beast will reappear on the scene of history to
empower and control the Antichrist as he leads the eighth empire toward
world domination. As has been stated previously, reference to the Beast is
not only to a satanic prince, but also to the Antichrist, and the eighth
kingdom ruled by the Antichrist.
But have no fear that this beast will succeed where before God
caused his efforts to fail. He will ravage the earth and torment the
unsaved who are alive at that time. However, this same beast that will be
released from “the bottomless pit” will eventually go “into perdition.”
Therefore, he will go from the frying pan into the fire, from thousands of
years of imprisonment to an eternity in the lake of fire.
“and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose
names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the
world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”
a. Who will wonder when they see this beast? Right. Those that dwell on the earth. We already know that this often-used phrase of John’s refers to those who are permanent residents of earth, those who are lost. How do we know? We know because Christians are not permanent residents of this old world, according to First Peter 2.11: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”
b. But what phrase in this verse truly confirms that those who dwell on the earth are not saved? Right. “whose names were not found written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.”