A fatal head wound – Revelation 13:3
Previously: The beast from the sea — Rev. 13:1-10
Rev. 13:3 – One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded, but his fatal wound was healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast. (HCSB)
One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded
John writes of the beast, “One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded, but his fatal wound was healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast” (v. 3). Commentators offer numerous explanations as to who or what the “head” is and the nature of the deadly wound. Here are two widely accepted possibilities:
Some see the deadly wound as the destruction of the “pagan” Roman Empire by the “Christian” Roman Empire, thus making this a prophecy now fulfilled in history. The “healing” of the pagan empire would either be the emergence of a corrupt form of Christianity in the papal church or the actual revival of the Roman Empire in the last days.
Others view this passage as a yet-future event in which the Antichrist receives an apparently fatal wound that Satan miraculously heals. It does not appear that Satan has the power to raise the dead – although God could permit it – but he may very well be granted the power to heal a serious wound. “The important point is that the final world ruler comes into power obviously supported by a supernatural and miraculous deliverance by Satan himself” (J.F. Walvoord and R.B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Rev. 13:3).
John mentions the deadly wound three times (Rev. 13:3, 12, 14) and reveals that it is a sword-inflicted wound. As we struggle with the identity of the beast, it appears best to see him as a parody of the Lamb. Satan is the great counterfeiter, the father of lies, the deceiver from the opening chapters of Genesis until the end of Revelation, where he is at last thrown into the lake of fire. A scan of biblical passages on Satan reveals that he “beguiles, seduces, opposes, resists, deceives, sows terror, hinders, buffets, tempts, persecutes, blasphemes – and more” (David Jeremiah, I Never Thought I’d See the Day!, p. 42).
The beast and the Lamb
Compare the beast with the Lamb of Rev. 5:6. John describes Jesus as “One like a slaughtered Lamb,” while the beast is one who has an apparently fatal wound. Jesus has “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth.” The beast, in contrast, has seven heads and 10 horns. Satan, it seems, will raise up a leader who on the surface can rival Jesus for miraculous deeds and gracious words, causing the whole world to be amazed.
Some who hold a preterist view of Revelation say the beast is the Roman emperor Nero and the wound is his apparent death. There is a popular legend in Asia Minor toward the end of the first century that Nero does not really kill himself in A.D. 68 but flees unrecognized from Rome to the Far East in order to return in the near future at the head of the Parthian cavalry forces to retake the empire. According to another variant, Nero is thought to have truly died but is expected to return soon from the dead (Jurgen Roloff, Revelation: A Continental Commentary, pp. 156-7).
Whatever view of the beast and his mortal wound is correct, it’s clear that Satan is behind the miraculous event that wins over the world. Just as the beast receives his power, authority and throne from Satan, so he is the object of the dragon’s supernatural powers. As a result, “The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast.”
Next: They worshiped the dragon and the beast — Rev. 13:4