Revelation 13

The Two Beasts

Out of the Sea

And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea (Revelation 13:1).

“The sea” here is likely a reference to the Mediterranean Sea, and points to the rise of this beast from a Gentile country in the Mediterranean region. Mount Casius, known today as Jebel el-Aqra, was the home of Baal, according to Ugaritic literature. Located about 25 miles (40 km) north of Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit), the “mountain of the north (ṣapānu)” referred specifically to this mountain. In the Greco-Roman period, this mountain was believed to be the home of Zeus.

Snake Worship

And they worshiped the dragon, because he gave his authority to the beast (Revelation 13:4).

In the Greco-Roman period, the dragon was closely associated with the snake. This limestone snake may serve as an illustration of the dragon that John saw being worshiped in his vision. This snake dates from the 6th century BC and was photographed at the Athens Acropolis Museum.

War Captives

If anyone is destined for captivity, into captivity he goes (Revelation 13:10).

The word “captivity” (Gk. aichmalōsia) is a word that is most often used in the context of war. Enemies who were defeated in battle were commonly taken as prisoners and sold into slavery. After a successful battle, the Romans were fond of parading captives, especially important ones, through the city of Rome in a procession called a triumph. Often the prisoners paraded through the city were subsequently killed at the temple where the procession ended. This clay plaque shows two chained captives being displayed on a cart during a triumph.


This requires the perseverance and faith on the part of the saints (Revelation 13:10).

The idea of perseverance and determination is illustrated here by the focused look captured on the face of this bronze statue of a runner. He is depicted at the starting line, listening intently for the signal to begin. This statue comes from the rectangular peristyle of the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. It was photographed at the Getty Villa in southern California.


Let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast (Revelation 13:18).

The word “calculate” (Gk. psēphizō) is used literally to add up digits and reckon or deduce a total (Luke 14:28). John may be using the word here metaphorically, with the idea in mind of interpreting or figuring out the meaning of a number. The ancient Roman abacus pictured here was used for calculating by means of addition and multiplication. Some abacuses could be used for more complicated problems, including the calculation of fractions and square roots.

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