There are different views on the two beasts in Revelation 13. But none of them points to Emperor Constantine I and his political-religious empire and Jesus Christ and Christianity, which are, in reality, being referred in the verses.
Objectively, the identity of the two beasts was ascertained through review of history and connecting it to the verses. For example, Revelation 13:1-2 (KJV) gives us the clue on the first beast. The verses state:
13 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.
2 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: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Verse 1 describes the rising up of the first beast out of the sea, which is a figurative description of the origin of the first beast. This is better understood, if co-related to the description of the second beast in Revelation 13:11, where it is described to “come up out of the earth“. Obviously, sea is liquid or unsolidified or not stable. In contrast, earth or land is solid or firm. These two describe the condition of the predecessor empire, where the first and second beast emanated, respectively. Notice that the description of the predecessor of the first beast squarely fits to the time when the Roman Empire was undergoing Crisis in the Third Century, or in Military Anarchy or Imperial Crisis. In other words, the empire was in an unstable condition, which occurred in 235-284 AD. In fact, the “rule of four” or tetrarchy system of governance was adopted during the time of Emperor Diocletian. It was designed to maintain control over the empire.
“Little horn” in Daniel 7:8 and his empire is the first beast in Revelation 13
The old testament describes the rising of the first beast in Revelation 13 through “coming up of another little horn“, which is stated in Daniel 7:8. As prophesied, the coming to power of the “little horn” or the “successor ruler” is coupled with the plucking or removing from power of the three other co-rulers, in the tetrarchy, which was established during the time of Emperor Diocletian. Specifically, Daniel 7:8 states:
8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
Above prophesy squarely fits to the coming to power of Emperor Constantine I, who succeeded his father Augustus Constantius Chlorus. His father was one of the co-rulers in the tetrarchy with Diocletian, Galerius, and Maximian, who reigned over the one fourth (1/4) of the empire each. Diocletian was the Augustus in the Eastern Roman Empire, with Galerius as Junior Emperor or Caesar while Maximian was Augustus in the Western Roman empire, with Constantius Chlorus as Junior Emperor or Caesar. Diocletian, who is known to have severely persecuted early Christians, reigned for twenty-one (21) years and then abdicated voluntarily. He was succeeded by Galerius as Augustus in the Eastern Roman Empire, who died in 311 of gruesome disease. On the other hand, Maximian renounced his imperial claim and killed himself on Constantine Order.
Wikipedia states: “At the Council of Carnuntum in November 308, Diocletian and his successor, Galerius, forced Maximian to renounce his imperial claim again. In early 310, Maximian attempted to seize Constantine’s title while the emperor was on campaign on the Rhine. Few supported him, and he was captured by Constantine in Marseille. Maximian killed himself in mid-310 on Constantine’s orders”.
Other claimants, such as, Maxentius, the Roman Emperor from 306-312 and Licinius, who was elevated to Augustus by Galerius in the West in 308, were defeated by Constantine I at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 and at the Battle of Chrysopolis in 324, respectively.
In short, the three other co-rulers in the tetrarchy, including other succeeding claimants, were removed and Emperor Constantine I, who previously ruled the Western Roman Empire, became the sole ruler of the entire Roman Empire, in fulfillment of the prophesy in Daniel 7:8. However, instead of establishing his base in Rome, he transferred to Byzantium, as his “new Rome”. This is also discussed in “Who is the little horn in Daniel 7:8?
Emperor Constantine’s empire, which later became the Byzantine Empire or the Eastern Roman Empire, is also described in Revelation 13:1 as having “seven heads and ten horns“, which refers to the seven successions, with additional three co-rulers, making the seven successions with ten (10) rulers in all in a re-united Roman empire and in the Western Roman Empire prior to re-unification and after separation into Western and Eastern Roman Empire. This succession happened from Emperor Constantine I, who initially ruled the Western Roman Empire, until the reign of Theodosius I, with extension to the reign of his younger son, Honorius, who ruled the separated Western Roman Empire.
The succession occurred as follows-Emperor Constantine I “the Great”, who ruled initially the Western Roman Empire prior to re-uniting the Roman Empire under his sole control, was jointly succeeded by his two sons, namely, Constantius II and Constans I , who were in turned followed by five (5) successions, either solely or jointly ruled, at a time, by the following rulers, namely 1) Julian “the Apostate”, 2) Jovian, 3) jointly by Valentinian I and Valens, 4) Gratian and 5) Theodosius I “the Great”, who was the last ruler of the entire Roman Empire, with extension to the reign by his younger son Honorius (395 to 423 AD), who became emperor in the Western Roman Empire. The latter’s rule is the ending counter-part of the time opposite to Emperor Constantine I’s initial rule of the separated Western Roman Empire.
The phrase “and upon his horns ten crowns” in verse 1 refers to the ten successors of Emperor Constantine I in the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire, who adopted his name. They are as follows: Tiberius II Constantine,Constantine III,Constantine IV “the Bearded”, Constantine V “the Dung-named”, Constantine VI, Constantine VII “the Purple-born”,Constantine VIII “the Purple-born”,Constantine IX Monomachos,Constantine X Doukas, and Constantine XI Palaiologos.
In summary, the little horn in Daniel 7:8 and his empire is the first beast in Revelation 13, pointing to Emperor Constantine I and his religious-political empire. Also, the phrase “and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” in verse 1 means that such name had already existed during the reign of the first beast. Thus, it would only require identifying the first beast, which co-existed with it, to identify the name blasphemy. This leads to the Constantinian Christianity, as called by some historians, where Greek name Iesous (now Jesus (J-Zeus)), which is the name of blasphemy, and the cross became the rallying point of Emperor Constantine I’s political-religious agenda.
Wikipedia describes Constantine’s religious attachment to Christianity, as follows:
“Some scholars allege that his main objective was to gain unanimous approval and submission to his authority from all classes, and therefore chose Christianity to conduct his political propaganda, believing that it was the most appropriate religion that could fit with the Imperial cult (see also Sol Invictus). Regardless, under Constantine’s rule Christianity expanded throughout the Empire, launching the era of Christian Church‘s dominance under the Constantinian dynasty.“
Aside from influencing the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 into adopting “Jesus Christ” not only as the son but also as part of the trinity, hence, elevating the status of Jesus equivalent to the status of Father in the trinity doctrine, Constantine likewise decreed on March 7, 321 dies Solis—day of the Sun, “Sunday“—as the Roman day of rest (Codex Justinianus 3.12.2), which states:
On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.
Other author opined:
The prevailing spirit of Constantine’s government was one of conservatorism. His conversion to and support of Christianity produced fewer innovations than one might have expected; indeed they served an entirely conservative end, the preservation and continuation of the Empire.— Hans Pohlsander, The Emperor Constantine
The First Beast is the Most Influential Factor in the Establishment of the Second Beast
Authors have different opinion on the issue. But, prophesy wise, the Greek-Roman-Jewish culture combination (or leopard-bear-lion combination) as tool in the socio-religious-political propaganda of Emperor Constantine I is being described in Revelation 13:2 as ” like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion“. Jewish culture was utilized through the translated Hebrew scripture.
This combination of cultures was designed to ensure control over his empire, which resulted in three (3) entities, as follows: 1) the re-united Roman Empire under Constantine I, where Constantinian Christianity was born, which, after Emperor Theodosius I, was divided into 2) Western Roman Empire, where Roman Catholic Church was established and 3) Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire, where the Eastern Orthodox Church was based. In short, above empires used religion to sustain influence over its people. These three entities composed the first beast.
Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, which has the Bishop of Rome or Pope as its titular head, the Eastern Orthodox Church (From Wikipedia, Organization and Leadership of the church) is a “fellowship of “autocephalous” (Greek for self-headed) churches, with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople being the only autocephalous head who holds the title primus inter pares, meaning “first among equals” in Latin.” The Patriarch of Constantinople has the honor of primacy, but his title is only first among equals and has no real authority over churches other than the Constantinopolitan“. Notice that Constantine I’s influence is perpetuated in these churches. Finally, through the above religious-political empires, the second beast, who is Jesus Christ himself-the spiritual leader of Christendom, otherwise known as Christianity, came into existence.
The evolution of Christianity into existence is due to deeply ingrained socio-political-religious practices introduced by Constantine I in the cultures and practices of his followers and conquered people. In other words, without the Empire of Constantine I, less likely that such entity would evolve into existence. As described in Revelation 13:11, the second beast “came up out of the earth“, meaning-it was founded, with a firm foundation, by the earthly socio-political-religious empire of Emperor Constantine I in peak of its power. Also, notice that Christendom or Christianity is a confused belief system, with various sects having conflicting dogmas or doctrines, which is based on earthly or politico-religious influence of Constantine I rather than divine.
Parallelism of Strategy of Emperor Constantine I and King Anthiocus IV
Notice the parallelism between the strategy of Emperor Constantine I in building up support to his empire and the scheme of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who persecuted Jews and desecrated the Creator’s temple, at the same time, ordered the worship of Greek pagan god Zeus. To sustain his control over the region, the king conspired with Hellenized Jews while Constantine I used his brand of Christianity to neutralize opponents or growing numbers of believers of the messiah.
As qouted in wikipedia (Books of Macabees), King Antiochus IV “decided to side with the Hellenized Jews in order to consolidate his empire and to strengthen his hold over the region. He outlawed Jewish religious rites and traditions kept by observant Jews and ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god (2 Maccabees 6:1–12). This was anathema to the Jews and they refused, so Antiochus sent an army to enforce his decree. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed because of the resistance, many were slaughtered, and Antiochus established a military Greek citadel called the Acra“.
In short, Antiochus IV Epiphanes used the “divide and rule” strategy just like Emperor Constantine I, who divided the early followers of the messiah by doing his own brand of Christianity. While the former caused the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem and ordered the worship of Zeus in the same temple, Constantine I’s Christianity likewise promoted Greek pagan god Zeus by installing the worship of Iesous (now, Jesus (J-Zeus)) and desecrated the heavenly temple by installing his Sunday worship, in replacement of sabbath day and desecrating the ten commandments. Also, Antiochus IV had motivated Jews to revolt, in the same manner that Constantinian Christianity is not acceptable to non-deceived Jews. These only show that Antiochus IV’s acts were revived by the strategy of Emperor Constantine I.
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- Emperor Constantine the Great had desecrated Sabbath
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