By Duncan McKenzie
Individual vs Corporate Aspects of the Beast
In the following article I will give a brief overview of the individual and corporate aspects of the beast of Revelation. If you don’t know what the heck I am talking about, continue reading and you will find out! I will also show a number of the connections between the little horn of Daniel 7 and the individual beast of Revelation. These connections support the proposition that there was indeed an Antichrist. The idea of an individual Antichrist is something that preterists have resisted for some time. To be honest this resistance has mainly come from the fact that preterists were not able to come up with a single historical Antichrist figure that unifies the scriptures related to Antichrist. With the publication of my book I hope to change that. I will not be naming the Antichrist here; I am saving that for my book (Which is up to 700 pages double spaced). Again, in this article I will be showing the connections between Daniel 7’s little horn and the individual beast of Revelation. The little horn/individual beast is the Antichrist. He was the opponent of God and the saints that appeared at the last hour of the old covenant age (1 John 2:18) and was destroyed by the Second Coming in AD 70 (Dan. 7:21-22; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:11-21).
In understanding the beast of Revelation there is a complicated but important concept that one needs to be aware of. Sometimes the beast is representing a confederation of (eight) rulers and other times the beast is referring to a very powerful individual eighth ruler of that confederation (the individual beast, Rev. 11:7; 17:8). This dual reference to the beast can be seen in Revelation 17:7-11 where the beast is said to be both a confederation of eight kings and also the eighth of those kings.
Rev. 17:7-11 But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition. emphasis mine
Again, the beast in Revelation is sometimes referring to the confederation of eight rulers and other times referring to the eighth of these rulers. Ken Gentry said the following on this. “Most commentators agree that the beast imagery in Revelation shifts between the generic and the specific. That is, sometimes the beast pictures a kingdom, sometimes an individual leader of that kingdom….This feature, as frustrating as it may be, is recognized by commentators of all schools of interpretation.” [ Kenneth Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil, (Texarkana AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 126-127]. What Gentry refers to as the “generic” aspects of the beast I call the “corporate beast” (the beast as a confederation of eight rulers); what he refers as the “specific” aspects of the beast I refer to as the “individual beast” (the especially powerful eighth ruler). I will usually give the qualifier of either “individual” or “corporate” when referring to the beast to make it clearer which aspects I think are being highlighted. It is the individual beast, the eighth king of the corporate beast that is the Antichrist.
Allow me to give a couple of examples of how Revelation’s imagery of the beast can quickly shift from a corporate emphasis to an individual emphasis. In Revelation 13:3 one of the heads of the (corporate) beast is said to suffer a mortal wound. While the wounded head is referring to a specific ruler (Nero), it is also making reference to how this ruler’s fall (cf. Rev. 17:10) had a disastrous effect on the beast as a collection of rulers (the corporate beast). In Revelation 13:4-8 the focus quickly shifts from the (corporate) beast to the specific ruler (the individual beast) who blasphemes God and overcomes the saints. Beasley-Murray noted the following on this, “The beast [in Rev. 13:1] stands primarily for the empire, yet the transition is speedily made to the empire as represented in its ruler. [G. R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation, The New Century Bible Commentary, Ronald Clements and Matthew Black eds. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 1978, 209 brackets mine].
Another example of a rapid shift between the corporate and individual aspects of the beast of Revelation can be seen in Revelation 17:7-11 (which I touched on above). When John wrote Revelation, the sixth king (Nero) of the (corporate) beast was currently ruling. The (individual) beast, the eighth king of the (corporate) beast had not come yet. The corporate beast (the confederation of demonic rulers) was currently in existence when John wrote even though the individual beast (the eighth of these rulers) had not come yet. Again, the individual beast is the Antichrist; he was the eighth ruler of the corporate beast.
The first place in Revelation that we are told of the beast is in Revelation 11:7 where he is abruptly introduced as if the first century readers would be aware of him. Revelation 11:7 (see below) is a reference to the individual beast. Indeed the readers of Revelation would have been aware of him because the description of his actions corresponds to the little horn of Daniel’s fourth beast. The little horn was to make war on the saints and overcome them right before the Second Coming. This was Antichrist and the people of God knew about him! They had heard of his coming from the reading of Scripture (cf. 1 John 2:18). Consider the connections between the little horn of Daniel 7 and the (individual) beast in the following verses.
The little horn/individual beast was the one who would overcome the saints in the time right before the Second Coming in AD 70.
Connections between the Little Horn and the Individual Beast
Below are some of the connections between the little horn of Daniel 7’s fourth beast and the individual beast of Revelation. Again the little horn/individual beast is the Antichrist.
1. The little horn/individual beast is an eighth ruler (Dan. 7:8; Rev. 17:11).
The little horn of Daniel 7 starts out as an eleventh ruler but becomes an eighth when three horns (rulers) are removed before him (11-3=8). The individual beast is an eighth king.
2. The little horn/individual beast speaks great blasphemies against God (Dan. 7:8, 11, 20, 25; Rev. 13:5-6).
Ladd said the following on the blasphemous words of the (individual) beast in Revelation 13:5 and how it is a direct reference to the little horn of Daniel 7, “This [Rev. 13:5-6] is based directly on Dan. 7:8, 20, 25. The little horn had a mouth ‘speaking great things’ and spoke ‘words against the Most High.’” [ Ladd, Revelation, 179 brackets mine]
3. The little horn/individual beast wages war against the saints and overcomes them (Dan. 7:21; Rev. 13:7).
The saints would have been understood by Daniel as the Jews. While the reference to saints is expanded in the NT and Revelation to include believing Gentiles (cf. Rom. 2:28-29; Rev. 3:9), the focus of the Antichrist is on the Jews and their Temple (cf. Dan. 11:40-12:1; 2Thess. 2:4). While the great tribulation would come on the whole world it would focus on the dwellers on the land, the Jews (Rev. 3:10).
4. The little horn/individual beast has a three and a half year reign of terror (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:5).
The phrase “a time and times and half a time” of Daniel 7:25 is a period of three and a half. It is usually taken to be three and a half years or forty-two months, which is the form it takes in Revelation 13:5. This three and a half year reign of terror of the little horn/individual beast is the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week. This last half of Daniel’s seventieth week would end with the destruction of the Jewish nation (Dan. 12:7). It should be noted that it took the Romans 42 months, three and a half years, to destroy the Jewish nation, from around March of AD 67 to the end of August of AD 70.
5. The little horn/individual beast is defeated by the Second Coming (Dan. 7:21-22: Rev. 19:11-13, 19-20).
In Daniel this is shown in the form of the coming of the Ancient of Days. In Revelation the Son of Man is shown as having the characteristics of the Ancient of Days (the white hair, Rev. 1:13-14) The Son of Man having white hair is symbolic of the great age, the eternality, of Jesus, the Word of God (cf. John 1:1). The fact that Revelation shows the Son of Man as also having the characteristics of the Ancient of Days is symbolic of the fact that Jesus is both God and Man. Revelation thus shows Daniel 7’s coming of God to defeat the little horn in the form of the coming of the Word of God to defeat the individual beast. (Dan. 7:21-22; Rev. 19:11-21).
6. The little horn/individual beast is thrown into the lake of fire at the time of the Second Coming (Dan. 7:11; Rev. 19:19-20).
7. Right after the AD 70 defeat of the little horn/individual beast, thrones are put in place as the millennium starts (Dan. 7:8-9, 11; Rev. 19:20-20:4).
Notice the sequence in Revelation19:19-20:4; it is clearer when the chapter separation between 19 and 20 (which was not in the original manuscript) is left out. The individual beast is captured at the AD 70 coming of the Word of God and then the saints that were killed by the beast for refusing his mark are resurrected to share in the millennial reign of Jesus. This sequence is similarly shown in Daniel 7:21-22.
I was watching and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.
The resurrection in Revelations 20:4 is not an AD 30 spiritual one.
The believers killed by the (individual) beast that come alive at the beginning of the millennium were already spiritually alive. They were the saints that the beast overcame in his forty-two month reign of terror (Rev. 13:5-7) just before the Second Coming (cf. Dan. 7:21-22, 25). Revelation 20:4 is showing the AD 70 resurrection of these saints that were killed by the beast during the great tribulation of AD 67-70 (cf. Dan. 12:1-2). These believers were physically dead (cf. Rev. 6:9-11). Since preterists acknowledge that the timing of the coming of Jesus to defeat the individual beast in Revelation 19:11-21 is the time around AD 70, how could Revelation 20:4 and its vision of dead victims of the beast being resurrected be a recapitulation back to AD 30? Again, the martyrs of the beast that come alive for the millennium are physically dead believers (they were already spiritually alive) being resurrected at the AD 70 resurrection (cf. Rev. 6:9-11).
The dead believers that come alive for the millennium were killed in the beast’s 42 month reign of terror just prior to the Second Coming (Rev. 13:7), not in the time just prior to AD 30 (as would have to be true if the millennium began at AD 30). Notice that the mark and worship of the beast is mentioned both in Revelation 19:20 and 20:4. There is no recapitulation back to AD 30 at chapter 20; Revelation 20 is a continuation of the AD 70 events of Revelation 19. The two chapters are showing the AD 70 defeat of the individual beast and the resulting victory of the saints he had killed (cf. Rev. 15:1-4).
Revelation 20 is a continuation of the AD 70 Second Coming and the defeat of the beast that is shown in Revelation 19; it is not a recapitulation back to AD 30. Revelation 20:4 contains a direct reference to the mark of the beast that is discussed in Revelation 13:11-18. This was to happen during the 42 months just prior to the Second Coming; the time of the great tribulation, when the beast was to overcome the saints (13:5-7; cf. Dan. 7:25; 12:1-2, 7). It is the Second Coming at AD 70 that defeats the little horn/individual beast (Dan. 7:21-22); this is when thrones are put in place as the millennium begins (Dan. 7:8-12). This is when the saints killed by the (individual) beast were resurrected, at the AD 70 beginning of the millennium. This was the time of the resurrection of the physical dead, an AD 70 event, not an AD 30 event.
It makes absolutely no sense to say that physically dead believers killed by the (individual) beast were resurrected in AD 30 before they were even killed by him in the time right before the Second Coming! The great tribulation would reach its zenith with the Antichrist’s attack on the Temple (cf. 2 Thess. 2:4). This time of trouble would result in the death of many believers (cf. Rev. 7:9-17; 7:1-10; 15:1-4) who are then resurrected at AD 70 to join with living believers in sitting on thrones (symbolic of the saints inheriting the kingdom of God, cf. Matt 19:28). Again, Daniel 7:21-22 shows the little horn/ beast overcoming the saints, being defeated by the coming of God and then the saints inherit the kingdom.
Daniel 7:21-22 I was watching and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.
The sequence is the same in Revelation. The individual beast overcomes the saints during the three and a half year of the great tribulation (Rev. 13:5-7 cf. Dan. 7:25). He is defeated by the Second Coming (Rev. 19:19-20) and then those killed by him come to life to rule with Jesus at the AD 70 beginning of the millennium as the resurrection happens (Rev. 20:4; cf. 11:7-19; Matt 19:28; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:20-21).
The implications of what I have written here are of course far reaching. My studies on Daniel and Revelation have convinced me that James Stuart Russell was right when he maintained that the millennium began (not ended) at the Second Coming in AD 70. I have heard the arguments against this position and they can be answered (I have an 80+ page chapter dedicated to the millennium in my book). It is time for my preterist brethren to quit ignoring Russell’s position on the millennium just because it doesn’t neatly fit everything in before AD 70.
To summarize, the idea of those who were killed by the individual beast being resurrected at the beginning of a supposed AD 30 millennium does not make sense. Revelation 13:11-18 is showing a very specific time period and situation, the time when the beast from the land (later referred to as the false prophet, Rev. 19:20) makes those who dwell on the land take the mark of the individual beast. Those who hold to an AD 30 beginning of the millennium will have to show a pre-AD 30 fulfillment of Revelation 13:11-18 and the mark of the beast. This is impossible; Revelation 13 is talking about the 42 months just prior to the Second Coming (Rev. 13:5-7); it can not legitimately be made to fit a pre AD 30 timeframe (as is necessary if those killed by the individual beast were to be resurrected for an AD 30 beginning of the millennium).