Who is the first beast of Revelation 13?

Revelation 13 tells of a beast power that the whole world wonders after (verse 3). This begs the question, Who is the beast of Revelation 13? To identify this first beast mentioned, let us study its characteristics.

Identifying Markers of the First Beast of Revelation 13

Revelation 13 provides 11 identifying characteristics for the first beast. These are found in Revelation 13:1-8, 16-18 :

  1. Rises from the sea (verse 1).
  2. Composite of the beasts of Daniel chapter 7 (verse 2).
  3. Dragon gives it power and authority (verse 2).
  4. Receives a deadly wound (verse 3).
  5. Deadly wound healed (verse 3).
  6. Strong political power (verses 3, 7).
  7. Strong religious power (verses 3, 8).
  8. Guilty of blasphemy (verses 1, 5, 6).
  9. Wars with and overcomes the saints (verse 7).
  10. Rules for 42 months (verse 5).
  11. Has mysterious number 666 (verse 18).

As we examine the fulfillment of these points, the only entity that these attributes point to is the Papacy. Let’s study these points closely to determine this conclusion.

1. The beast would rise from the sea 

“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea…” (Revelation 13:1).

The sea (or water) in prophecy refers to people, or a populated area (Revelation 17:15). Therefore, the beast would arise from amid an established area, or nations, of the then-known world. The Papacy rose in power in Western Europe in the early first centuries A.D. Its headquarters are seated in Rome, which was the capital of the Roman empire. Rome was the leading world power at the time of its inception. Thus, the title of Roman Catholic Church.

2. The beast would be a composite of the beasts of Daniel chapter 7

“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion” (Revelation 13:2).

The prophecy of Daniel 7 tells of four beasts that also came out of the sea (verse 3).

The first was a lion, representing Babylon (verse 4). The second, was a bear which represented the Medo-Persian empire (verse 5). The third, a leopard which represented Greece (verse 6). Finally, pagan Rome was represented as the ten horned beast. This later became the papal power when the little horn uprooted three in its place (verses 7-8).

The four beasts of Daniel 7 are depicted as part of the beast because the papacy incorporated pagan beliefs from all four empires. It also demonstrated attributes in its manner of operation. First, it demonstrated the swiftness and strength in conquering as Greece (Habakkuk 1:8, Daniel 8:5, 21).  Also, the standing as infallible in its decrees resembling the law of the Medes and Persians (Daniel 6:8, Esther 1:19). Then, the persecuting mouth of a lion (Psalm 22:13, 21-22). Lastly, it also came out of the fourth beast which was pagan Rome. This later became papal Rome once it was given political and military power.

These are all attributes that the Papacy has adopted in its pursuit of earthly conquest. This is seen more clearly as the subject is studied further.

See. What do the beasts of Daniel 7 represent?

3. The beast receives its power and seat (capital) from the dragon 

“…and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2).

Revelation chapter 12 identifies the dragon. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan…” (Revelation 12:9).  In prophecy, a pure woman represents God’s true people or church (Jeremiah 6:2, Isaiah 51:16-18).

In Revelation 12, a pure woman is portrayed as pregnant and about to deliver a son (verses 1, 2).   “…and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.  And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (verses 4, 5). 

Next, the dragon attempts to devour or destroy the baby, who is Jesus (Revelation 2:18, 26-27). Satan used Herod the Roman authority to attempt to destroy Jesus by killing all male infants in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). Thus, the dragon represents Satan’s use of pagan Rome to do his bidding.

A change occurred when the pagan Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and issued the edict of Milan in 313 AD. Thus, the papacy received her capital city and power from pagan Rome as prophesied.

4.The beast would receive a deadly wound 

“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death…”(Revelation 13:3).

The deadly wound was inflicted by Napoleon’s general, Alexander Berthier. He entered Rome and took Pope Pius VI captive in February of 1798. This occurred at the peak of the French Revolution which promoted liberation from Papal oppression. Essentially, this was the greatest act of revolt that could have happened against papal rule.

See: When did the Papacy receive its deadly wound?

5. The deadly wound would be healed, and the entire world would give homage to the beast

“…and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Revelation 13:3).

Although the Pope was exiled and imprisoned, the power of the Papacy was not completely lost. This is unlike any other nation in history. In time, the Papacy regained its influence, established a new Pope and led the world in its influence. Although it received a deadly wound in 1798, it was only about 130 years later that the Papacy not only regained power but established the church as its own religious state. On February 11, 1929, the Vatican was established. Since then, the Papacy has held position as a world leader and political adviser to the highest officials government worldwide.

6. The beast would become a strong political power

“… and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Revelation 13:7).

As previously mentioned, the Papacy is world wide political leader. Therefore, it is the only religious institution whose leader is the head of their own state, namely the Vatican. In 1969, the Vatican became the only religious state to become part of the United Nations. Also, it is the only religious entity that is recognized as a non-member state in the United Nations. Subsequently, it is able to vote in various conferences and to participate in the General Assembly. The papacy will become more and more of a  world power as this prophecy continues to unfold.

7. The beast would become a powerful religious organization 

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him…” (Revelation 13:8).

The Papacy has over one billion members worldwide. Hence, the majority of Catholic followers ascribe to many false acts of worship taught in Catholic doctrine. First, this includes acknowledging the name of Pope which means “papa” or “father.” Jesus specifically tells His followers to call no man father but your Father in Heaven (Matthew 23:9). This is also true of Catholic priests and other clergymen.

Additionally, acts of false worship include bowing and paying homage to religious statues (Exodus 20:4-5). Also, the papacy promotes praying to saints who are dead (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6).  Likewise, Catholic priests claim to be able to grant forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:7). Essentially, these are all means of worship that adhere to the dictates of the papacy which are in opposition to the Bible.

8.The beast would be guilty of blasphemy 

“And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven” (Revelation 13:6).

Blasphemy is a man making himself to stand in the place of God (John 10:33). Therefore, the papacy is guilty of blasphemy because her popes claim to be Christ on earth. Another title for the Pope is the “vicar of Jesus Christ.” A vicar means “one who stands in the place of” or “substitute.” This is a plain act of blasphemy. Also, her priests claim to forgive sins which only God can do. Likewise, this is an act of speaking blasphemy (Matthew 9:2-3).

Also, the beast is identified as having the name of blasphemy on its head. “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Revelation 13:1). The name “Vicar of Jesus Christ,” in Latin is “Vicarius Filii Dei.” This is inscribed on the mitre worn on the head of the pope. Thus, it literally wears the name of blasphemy.

See: Why do Protestants accuse the Catholic Church of blasphemy?

9.The beast would war with and persecute the saints

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them…” (Revelation 13:7).

Historians estimate that during the inquisition, Middle Ages, and Early Reformation Era, more than 50,000,000 martyrs perished for their faith at the decree of the Papacy (Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965 edition, page 726). Thus, the Papacy not only killed those who opposed them politically, but those who would stand against their false doctrines. Those who held on to the dictates of the Bible and not the papacy were killed in the most gruesome of ways. Many were burnt at the stake for their faith in God’s word, unwilling to recant.

A famous case was that of John Huss who was a Christian but denied the office of the Pope as well as other Catholic doctrines. He was martyred by being burnt at the stake by order of the papacy. It is said that he was singing praise to God as he burnt alive for his faith.

10. The beast would reign for 42 months 

“…and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months” (Revelation 13:5).

The papacy reigned for 42 prophetic months, which equals 1,260 years. This reign was from A.D. 538, when the pope was selected by the Roman emperor until the capture and imprisonment of the Pope Pius VI and the political power of the papacy by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798.

11. The beast would have the mysterious number 666 

“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:18).

The number of the beast is stated to have several aspects. First, it is the number of a man. Second, the number is 666. Third, it requires understanding to count this number. As previously stated, the name of the Pope is the Vicar of the Son of God. His title in Latin, which is inscribed in his mitre, is “VICARIUS FILII DEI.” When these Latin letters are used as Roman numerals, they add up to the number 666.

See: What does the number 666 in Revelation stand for?


Ultimately, based on this evidence, it is clear that the papacy is the only entity on earth that fulfills all of these identifying characteristics of the beast. Again, this is not an attack on any persons of the Catholic faith. Essentially, this is to explain and understand Bible prophecy as revealed in God’s word.

Additionally, millions of reputable Bible-believing Protestant Christians like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, and Matthew Henry (world-famous Bible Commentary author) have interpreted the first “beast” of Revelation 13:1-10 to be the religious-political system of the Roman Catholic Church (not Catholic people), led by popes.

May we seek the truth of Scripture with an open mind in order to understand God’s message in these last days. “And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.  Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22: 6-7). 

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


The contents of this article and website are not intended to be against any individual. There are many priests and faithful believers in Roman Catholicism who serve God to the best of their knowledge. They are seen by God as His children. Thus, the information contained herein is directed only towards the Roman Catholic religio-political system which has reigned in varying degrees of power for nearly two millennia. This system has established an increasing number of doctrines and statements that directly go against the Bible.

It is our purpose to lay the clear Word of God before you, the truth-seeking reader, to decide for yourself what is truth and what is error. Therefore, if you find anything here contrary to the Bible, do not accept it. However, if you desire to seek for Truth as for hidden treasure, and find herein something of that quality and feel that the Holy Spirit is revealing Truth to you, please make all haste to accept it.

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