Some manuscripts read, “he stood,” the change being effected by the dropping of one letter nu from the end of the verb estathē. If the letter is properly dropped, it indicates that the dragon himself stood upon the sand of the sea. If the letter is added, it means that John stood upon the sand of the sea. . . inasmuch as it is more likely that a letter be dropped than a letter added to the text, some scholars continue to feel that the Authorized Version is correct that John stood upon the sand of the sea.4
Hengstenberg remarks, “One cannot decide on external grounds between the two [textual] readings.” Authorities are divided. But a careful study of the context shews [sic] conclusively that it is the Seer, and not the dragon that “stood upon the sand of the sea.” The apocalyptic prophet always takes his place or stand as a point of observation in keeping with the subject at hand. Thus heaven (Rev. 4:1+); the sand of the sea (Rev. 13:1+); the wilderness (Rev. 17:1+); and a high mountain (Rev. 21:10+), are respective points of view from which he can contemplate the various panoramic visions as they pass before his gaze.5If it is the dragon which stands on the sand, rather than John, then it would intimate his summons of the Beast portrayed next. “The dragon, cast out of Heaven after his final defeat at the hands of Michael and his forces, comes to the earth looking for an instrument through whom he can carry on his warfare against his hated Creator and God.”6 Whether it is John or the dragon, the dragon is clearly the malevolent power behind the rise of the Beast: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2Th. 2:4).Although elsewhere sand denotes an innumerable company, “The sand of the sea does not mean the seashore in Scriptural language. The sand, always represents an innumerable company, as will be easily seen by a comparison of the passages from the time when God promised Abraham seed as the sand of the sea in multitude. The sea is clearly shown as a symbol of the restless nations of the earth. Further in this prophecy we will see that the ‘many waters’ are ‘peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues’ (Rev. 17:15+).”7 Here, it merely describes the position of John on the shore from where he observed the beast’s rise from the water.I saw a beast
There can be no kingdom without a king, and no empire without an emperor; neither can there be a king in fact without a kingdom. We cannot consistently speak of imperial power and dominion apart from a personal head which represents and embodies that power.8
But it is very clear from what follows in Rev. 13+ that there is something more than the Empire here in view. In Rev. 13:3-8+ it is a person that is before us. We are satisfied that this same person is also described, symbolically, in the opening verses. As is frequently the case in the prophetic scriptures, the king and his kingdom are here inseparably united. Rev. 13:1+, 2+ portrays both the Empire and its last Emperor.9
Is the beast out of the sea a man or an empire? The answer is both. (a) The beast is a man because his number is that of a man (Rev. 13:18+). Also the use of the masculine pronoun αὐτόν [auton] (Rev. 13:8+) to refer to the neuter θηρίον [thērion] (Rev. 13:1-2+, 4+) indicates that he is a human being. In addition, parallels between the beast and the Lamb indicate that he is a person: both have followers on whose foreheads are inscribed their names (Rev. 13:16-17+; 14:1+), both are conquerors (Rev. 5:5+; 13:7+), and both receive worship (Rev. 5:8+; 13:4+). (b) At the same time the beast is an empire over which the man reigns. This fact is demonstrated by the symbolism of the beasts of Daniel 7+.10See The Beast. See #16 - Beast.rising up
These contrasting terms are indicative of the origin of the two beasts. The sea may symbolize the Gentiles (Rev. 17:15+; cf. Dan. 7:2-3+) and if this is the case here, the opposite term, the earth, symbolizes the Jews. There is precedence for the Gentile origin of Antichrist in the Old Testament allusions, and the Jewish identification may be strengthened if here “the earth” has technical sense of “the land” [of Israel] as it sometimes may in Revelation (Rev. 11:18+; cf. Dan. 8:9+).11The land/sea distinction between Gentiles and Jews is seen in the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price:
Christ’s inheritance is not only the Church which is the pearl of great price for which He sold all that He had, but it also includes Israel which is the treasure hidden in the field and which He purchased with His own blood and which He hid again.12
The treasure [Mat. 13:45-46] represents the Jews, so it is natural that the pearl [Mat. 13:45-46] would represent the Gentiles. Furthermore, the pearl comes from the sea, and the sea symbolizes the Gentile world (Dan. 7:2-3+; Rev. 17:1+, 17:15+). Finally, the pearl comes from the oyster, which itself was unclean in the Law of Moses but made clean by the Law of Messiah.13Some suggest that the sea indicates his rise from the abyss (Rev. 11:7+; 17:8+).14 seven heads
That we have here in Rev. 13:1+, 2+ a composite kingdom is clear from the ‘seven heads.’ Now note that in Dan. 7+ the first, second and fourth kingdoms are not said to have more than one head, but the third has ‘four heads’ (Dan. 7:6+). Thus the beasts of Dan. 7+ have, three of them one head each, and the third four heads, or seven in all; which tallies perfectly with Rev. 13:1+. . . . the four kingdoms of Dan. 7+ are to be restored, and play their final parts immediately before the Millennium. If the reader will turn to Dan. 2+, which is parallel with Dan. 7+ - the ‘image in its four parts’ (the head, the breast and arms, the belly and thighs, the legs and feet) corresponding with the four beasts - it will be found that when we come to Dan. 2:45+, which speaks of Christ (under the figure of ‘the Stone cut out of the mount without hands’ returning to earth to destroy the forces of evil, and then set up His kingdom, we discover that the Stone ‘brake in pieces the iron (Rome), the brass (Greece), the clay (apostate Israel), the silver (Medo-Persia), and the gold (Babylon).’ What we desire the reader to note particularly is that the Stone strikes not only the iron, but the brass, clay, silver, and gold; in fact, Dan. 2:35+ tells us, expressly, they shall be ‘broken to pieces together!’ If, then, they are destroyed together, they must all be on the scene at the time of Christ’s return to earth to inaugurate His millennial reign, and if so, each of them must have been revived and restored!!16Although it is true that the four beasts Daniel sees are represented in this beast with seven heads, it is unlikely that the seven heads on the beast correspond exactly with the seven heads of Daniel’s four beasts. For a discussion of the problems involved, see Daniel saw Seven Heads. See #4 - Seven Heads/Kings.ten horns
1 Some infer from the placement of the material of chapter 13 following upon the plight of the woman in chapter 12 that “the rest of her offspring” (Rev. 12:17+) must be those who are subsequently persecuted within chapter 13+. If so, then her offspring would include all who refuse to take the mark, both Jew and Gentile. [Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 13:1] Yet there are valid reasons to understand her offspring as physical Jews. See commentary on Revelation 12:1.
2 We note that the term Antichrist is not used by John in the book of Revelation. But neither is the little horn or many of the other names which apply throughout Scripture to this individual, here designated as the first beast. See Man of Many Names.
3 “Though the Holy Spirit ‘[will be] taken out of the way’ (2Th. 2:7) in the Tribulation, this has to do with His work of restraining sin and not with His indwelling and empowering believers.”—Russell L. Penney, “Pneumatology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 119.
4 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), s.v. “Some manuscripts read, "he stood," the change being effected by the dropping of one letter .”
5 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), Rev. 13:1.
6 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), Rev. 13:1.
8 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 322.
9 Arthur Walkington Pink, The Antichrist (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1999, 1923), s.v. “Antichrist in the Apocalypse.”
10 Daniel K. Wong, “The Beast From The Sea in Revelation 13,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 160 no. 639 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, July-September 2003), 337.
11 Randall Price, “Antichrist,” in Mal Couch, ed., Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 46.
12 Barnhouse, Revelation, 103.
13 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 676.
14 “To say that the sea stands for the abyss carries on the OT concept of the sea, that is the source of the satanic sea monster (cf. Job 26:12-13; Ps. 74:13-14; 87:4; 89:9-10; Isa. 27:1; 51:9-10) (Johnson). Also, Paul equates the sea with the abyss in his Rom. 10:7 citation of Deu. 30:13.”—Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 13:1.
15 Concerning inaccuracies in the KJV and NKJV, see commentary on Revelation 17:10.
16 Pink, The Antichrist, s.v. “Babylon and the Antichrist.”
17 “Beginning with verse 36, a sharp break in the prophecy may be observed, introduced by the expression the time of the end in verse 35. Up to this point, the prophecy dealing with the Persian and Grecian Empires has been fulfilled minutely and with amazing precision. Beginning with verse 36, however, an entirely different situation obtains. No commentator claims to find precise fulfillment in the remainder of this chapter. Although Zöckler and others attempt to relate Daniel 11:36-45+ to Antiochus, many students of Scripture have recognized from antiquity that another king must be in view. Ibn-Ezra, for example, identified this king with Constantine the Great; Rashi and Calvin referred him to the Roman Empire as a whole; and Jerome, Theodoret, and Luther, among others, identified him with the New Testament Antichrist.”—John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), Dan. 11:36.