One of the confusing actors in the drama of Revelation is the Beast. This is because there are actually four “beasts” in Revelation, and the text does not always clearly specify which beast is being referred to.

In Revelation 13 John saw “a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 13:1). This beast shares the characteristics of the “little horn” of Daniel 7, which makes it possible to identify it as the papal Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages. This beast received a “deadly wound”— the Catholic Church lost her ability to exercise coercive military and political power during revolutionary movements of the 18th and 19th centuries (see What is the Beast with the Seven Heads?). But “the deadly wound was healed”— she eventually regains her power.

Next John saw “another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon” (Revelation 13:11). This beast arrived on the scene after the deadly wound (18th century) and came up out of the earth, which is a symbol of the western hemisphere (see What is the Beast from the Earth?). These factors clearly identify it as the United States of America.  It will set up an “image to the beast” (an oppressive  religio-political system) and will force the whole world to follow its dictates by means of the Mark of the Beast. In chapter 16 this beast is personified as an individual called “the false prophet” who is a part of the “unholy trinity” with “the beast from the bottomless pit” (see section 16:13 The Unholy Trinity in The Book).

John also saw “a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:3). The scarlet beast is the political side of the final manifestation of Babylon, the end time alliance of church and state that brings together Catholic, Protestant and secular powers in response to the disasters that take place during the Time of Trouble.

The leader of this alliance is the “Beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 17:8, 11:7), sometimes simply called “the Beast” (Revelation 16:13, 19:19). This beast is the final antichrist that is described in 2 Thessalonians 2, “The lawless one will be revealed… according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:8,9).

This beast will be a manifestation of Satan himself as he completely possesses a human being and personally directs the alliance of powers (Babylon) in their efforts to destroy God’s children. This beast appears during the fifth trumpet, which is a catastrophic world war at the end of time (see What are the Seven Trumpets). The beast uses the chaos of this war to attack God’s special messengers, the Two Witnesses (see section 11:7-10 The Two Witnesses Killed in The Book). The beast will gather the “kings of the earth” for the Battle of Armageddon (see What is the Battle of Armageddon), the final desperate attempt to destroy God’s people. But the beast, along with the false prophet, will be cast into the lake of fire at the Second Coming of Christ.

For much more information and Scriptural support about the beasts and particularly the beast that ascends from the bottomless pit, see sections 11: Satan’s Impersonation of Christ16:13 The Unholy Trinity, 17:6-8 The Beast that Was and Is Not and Yet Is, and 17:9-11 The Seven Heads in The Book.