Who are the Beasts and the Whore of Babylon?

The book of Revelation is the last book of the New Testament. This book was written by John the Evangelist, brother of James, son of Zebedee. This book refers to the future of the Church, to the time called “the apocalypse”, or “the end times”, or more properly: the tribulation. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly common to claim that this book is not about the future of the Church, but about the past, specifically, the first century A.D. To the contrary, the book itself, in its first verse, plainly states that it is about the future:

[Revelation 1]
{1:1} The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, in order to make known to his servants the things that must soon occur, and which he signified by sending his Angel to his servant John….

Now the figures used in the book of Revelation, to represent future wicked kingdoms, are undoubtedly based on first century Rome. But the primary meaning of these passages concerns the future tribulation, not the distant past. I wrote about this topic previously: Is the Book of Revelation about the Future?

Why 7 Heads but only 10 Horns?

The beast of Revelation is symbolic, so we must consider what the meaning of heads, horns, and also diadems might be.

{12:3} And another sign was seen in heaven. And behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.

Saint Irenaeus understands the beast with 10 horns, as described by the Apostle John in the book of Revelation, to be the same kingdom that Daniel described.

“In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord’s disciples what shall happen in the last times, and concerning the ten kings who shall then arise, among whom the empire which now rules [the earth] shall be partitioned. He teaches us what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel, telling us that thus it had been said to him: ‘And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet, but shall receive power as if kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and give their strength and power to the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.’ (Rev 17:12-14).” [Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Chapter XXVI, n. 1. ]

Saint Irenaeus interpreted the Book of Revelation and the prophecy of Daniel as referring to the future, not to the distant past, and not to the first century A.D. when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed. In fact, he explicitly states that the events of Revelation are about the ten kings who will arise “in the last times,” and that they have not yet received power over any kingdom.

So one meaning of “the beast” is the kingdom of the ten kings, which rises to power in the distant future. But a second meaning of “the beast” is the individual who rules that kingdom, the Antichrist. Thus, Scripture says:

{13:3} And I saw that one of its heads seemed to be slain unto death, but his deadly wound was healed. And the entire world was in wonder following the beast.
{13:4} And they worshiped the dragon, who gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying: “Who is like the beast? And who would be able to fight with it?”

The head of the kingdom of the ten kings is the Antichrist. He seems to receive a mortal wound, but then is healed (or seems to be healed). So the whole world, except the few remaining faithful souls, worship the Antichrist and his kingdom.

And then a third meaning of the term “the beast” is the devil, Satan, who assists the Antichrist in ruling his wicked kingdom.

{11:7} And when they will have finished their testimony, the beast that ascended from the abyss will make war against them, and will overcome them, and will kill them.

The devil is the beast that “ascended from the abyss”, meaning that he is a fallen angel destined for the great abyss called Hell.

The book of Revelation describes the Antichrist and the false prophet who assists him (Rev 13). Clearly, these two wicked persons did not take power in the first century A.D.; these events have not happened yet. But since figures are used to describe persons, kingdoms, and events, the meaning is not immediately obvious.

So ‘the beast” of Revelation is the Antichrist, his kingdom, and the devil. But the Antichrist will not be born and rise to power until a few hundred more years have passed. So these events are for the distant future. The first part of the tribulation (“lesser tribulation”) occurs for this present-day generation, in the 21st century, but the second part of the tribulation (“greater tribulation”), which includes the time of the Antichrist, does not occur until the early 25th century A.D.

In the book of Daniel, four successive kingdoms are described:

{7:3} And four great beasts, different from one another, ascended from the sea.
{7:4} The first was like a lioness and had the wings of an eagle. I watched as its wings were plucked off, and it was raised from the earth and stood on its feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.
{7:5} And behold, another beast, like a bear, stood to one side, and there were three rows in its mouth and in its teeth, and they spoke to it in this way: “Arise, devour much flesh.”
{7:6} After this, I watched, and behold, another like a leopard, and it had wings like a bird, four upon it, and four heads were on the beast, and power was given to it.
{7:7} After this, I watched in the vision of the night, and behold, a fourth beast, terrible yet wondrous, and exceedingly strong; it had great iron teeth, eating yet crushing, and trampling down the remainder with his feet, but it was unlike the other beasts, which I had seen before it, and it had ten horns.
{7:8} I considered the horns, and behold, another little horn rose out of the midst of them. And three of the first horns were rooted out by its presence. And behold, eyes like the eyes of a man were in this horn, and a mouth speaking unnatural things.

The first kingdom (man) is the kingdom of the great Catholic monarch, occupying part of the 21st century. The great Catholic monarch has already been born; he is Ferdinand Zvonimir, the heir to the Austrian and Roman empires. He will be the last and greatest Roman emperor. But he does not begin his rise to power until after World War 3. He and his troops play an important role during World War 4, to free Europe from the extremist Islamic occupation. His kingdom begins after the first part of the tribulation ends in early 2040 A.D.

The second kingdom (bear) arises in the 22nd century; it is Russia and the nations it conquers. The third kingdom (leopard) arises in the 23rd century; it is China allied with India, Africa (except for the northern part), and another area (four heads indicate four regions).

The fourth beast (ten horns) arises in the 24th century; it is the kingdom of the ten kings. Later, this kingdom becomes the kingdom of the Antichrist. The ten horns symbolize ten positions of leadership, one for each kingdom. So there are initially ten heads (one leader in each kingdom) and ten horns (ten kingdoms). But as the Antichrist rises to power, the kingdom is restructured:

{7:23} And thus he said, “The fourth beast will be the fourth kingdom on earth, which will be greater than all the kingdoms, and will devour the whole earth, and will trample and crush it.
{7:24} Moreover, the ten horns of the same kingdom will be ten kings, and another will rise up after them, and he will be mightier than the ones before him, and he will bring down three kings.
{7:25} And he will speak words against the Supreme One, and will exhaust the holy ones of the Most High, and he will think about what it would take to change the times and the laws, and they will be given into his hand until a time, and times, and half a time.

This fourth beast (kingdom) will “devout the whole earth”, and so we know from this description that this kingdom has not yet arisen. There has been no truly worldwide kingdom yet on earth.

The Antichrist at first has little power, so he is called a “little horn” (Dan 8:9). He rises to power within one of the ten kingdoms (the North, located in Europe), becoming its king. Then he defeats three of the other kings, taking over their kingdoms. Now the kingdom of the 10 kings has only 7 kings, the Antichrist and the 6 remaining kings, for 3 have been defeated. So the beast with 7 heads and 10 horns is the kingdom of the ten kings, once it is taken over by the Antichrist.

[Revelation]
{12:3} And another sign was seen in heaven. And behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.

{13:1} And I saw a beast ascending from the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon its horns were ten diadems, and upon its heads were names of blasphemy.

This figure in Revelation is now clear. The beast has only seven heads because the Antichrist “will bring down three kings”, reducing the ten kings to seven. But there are still ten kingdoms, and ten positions of power (one for each kingdom), so the kingdom still has 10 horns.

But notice the change in the figure between the above two verses. At first, the kingdom of the Antichrist has seven heads, ten horns, seven diadems. The diadems represent positions of spiritual authority because the Antichrist claims to be a god and desires to be worshipped. So he at first gives each of the seven kings a perverse spiritual authority as well as temporal authority, represented by the seven diadems.

About midway through his reign, the Antichrist changes his strategy. He appoints the false prophet (whom I understand will be a woman religious leader) as the head of his false religion, in order to cause “the earth, and those dwelling in it, to worship” the Antichrist. At that point in time, 10 spiritual leaders are appointed, one for each kingdom, to rule over spiritual matters, while the 7 kings continue to rule over temporal matters. That is why the beast later has ten diadems, instead of seven.

The Whore of Babylon

The whore or harlot of Babylon is the false prophet who assists the Antichrist, a woman who runs his false and idolatrous religion. She is the harlot of Babylon, a false prophetess who has the highest spiritual authority in the religion of the Antichrist, next to him.

[Revelation 17]
{17:1} And one of the seven Angels, those who hold the seven bowls, approached and spoke with me, saying: “Come, I will show you the condemnation of the great harlot, who sits upon many waters.
{17:2} With her, the kings of the earth have fornicated. And those who inhabit the earth have been inebriated by the wine of her prostitution.”
{17:3} And he carried me away in spirit to the desert. And I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast, filled with names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
{17:4} And the woman was clothed all around with purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, holding a golden cup in her hand, filled with the abomination and with the filth of her fornication.
{17:5} And a name was written upon her forehead: Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of the fornications and the abominations of the earth.
{17:6} And I saw that the woman was inebriated from the blood of the saints and from the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And I was amazed, when I had seen her, with a great wonder.
{17:7} And the Angel said to me: “Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has seven heads and ten horns.

She is said to “sit upon many waters” because she has perverse spiritual authority over the whole world. The leaders of the earth have “fornicated” with her figuratively. When the ancient Israelites when astray from the true worship of God to worship the pagan false gods, they were said to have committed fornication, by analogy to an unfaithful bride. She is said to sit upon the beast and to be carried by the beast because she has power over the kingdom of the Antichrist, and that kingdom gives her spiritual authority. She hates the one true Catholic Christian Church, and so she seeks to kill all the faithful. Thus, she is said to be inebriated with the blood of the saints. Her clothing is described after the manner of religious vestments because she claims to be the high priestess of the Antichrist’s religion, of his false church. The center of her religious authority is placed in Rome, because she desires to eclipse and to destroy the true Church (based in Rome).

From all of the above, it can be clearly seen that the beasts of Revelation and the whore of Babylon are NOT the Catholic Church, or the Popes, or the Jewish religion, or any secular political organization, or various other foolish claims that some ignorant commentators make.

Much more on this topic can be found in my book: The Second Part of the Tribulation

Please take note that my predicted date for the Warning of Garabandal is Good Friday of next year (2016), on March 25th. So this week, the feast of the Annunciation (March 25th) will mark the point one year before the Warning. See my booklet on this topic:

The Warning, Consolation, and Miracle in 2016

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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