Chapter thirteen finally introduces the main human antagonist of the drama – the Beast. He is never called “antichrist” in the Revelation; that term appears only in 1 and 2 John in reference to the general deceptive spirit and anyone who denies Jesus. However, it is appropriate to consider him as the ultimate embodiment of the antichrist spirit. He is referred to by several other names and descriptions, including “the coming prince” (Daniel 9:26), “the king” (Daniel 11:36), and a “little horn” (Daniel 7:8). In the Revelation, the term “beast” refers both to this human ruler and to his kingdom, so it is important to know which is being referenced in each context.
The final verse of chapter twelve showed Satan standing “on the sand of the seashore,” watching the beast “coming up out of the sea” (Revelation 13:1). This beast is the entire beastly kingdom, as shown by its “ten horns and seven heads” and the comparative description in Daniel 7. According to Daniel 7:8, 24-25, one of these horns will rule over the rest; this is the Beast-man and Antichrist. He will rule as Satan’s pawn (Revelation 13:3), warring “against the saints” (Revelation 13:7).
This Beast will have a spokesman, who will have the ability to perform miracles. This second beast will speak like a dragon, with cunning and deception, like Satan and the Beast (see Genesis 3:1), and will require all people to worship the Beast. He will create an image of the Beast, give it “life,” and require all people to worship the image. He will also be the one to establish “the mark of the beast” (Revelation 13:17), which will regulate all commerce. It seems that deciphering this mark will be impossible until this time and encoded in such a way that it will not be obvious what it is (Revelation 13:18). Because this will take place during the second half of the Tribulation, there is nothing today that can be considered this mark or that believers should be afraid of using.