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In some passages from the Bible there exists sentences such as: Revelation 12:9

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

and Revelation 13:4

People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?"

Since I am assuming that 'Satan', 'the beast', etc are the same entity then

Who is 'the dragon' and what are the differences between 'the dragon' and 'the beast'?

  • Which perspective of Christianity is this addressed to? – Logan Baxter Sep 16 '17 at 17:08
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    Christians disagree over how to interpret these verses. To make your question fit this site, you'll need to edit it to indicate whose interpretation you want. For example, do you want the Catholic perspective? The Dispensationalist? Full Preterist? – bradimus Sep 16 '17 at 17:23
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    By 'full perspective' do you mean full preterist or every perspective? Every perspective is likely too broad. You could ask multiple questions asking for a specific view. – bradimus Sep 16 '17 at 19:58
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    @bradimus Many thanks for your suggestions! – antoniov.joel Sep 16 '17 at 20:26
  • I think one part of your question is answered in the biblical quote you provided yourself. You ask, "who is the dragon?" And you quote the bible, "The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray." Evidently the quote is saying that the dragon is the devil or Satan. So I don't know why later on you "are assuming that 'Satan', 'the beast', etc are the same entity" if the quotes you posted say that the dragon is Satan and the beast was given authority by the dragon, so apparently the beast is not the same entity as Satan. – freethinker36 Sep 17 '17 at 1:52
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The dragon was not the same as the beast of Revelation. Rev. 12:9 identifies the dragon as that serpent of old from the garden in Gen. c.3 - the devil, or the Adversary.

The word “dragon” is drakon in the Greek (Strong's 1404), and means a huge serpent. It only appears in Revelation. In the OT, it is the serpent in Ex. 7:9-10; the representation of Nebuchadnezzar as a dragon in Jer. 51:34; the representation of the idolatrous tribes of Israel in Deu. 32:33; the representation of Babylon in Isa. 27:1; 51:9; and the representation of Pharaoh, king of Egypt in Ez. 29:3.

In the OT, “dragons” and “serpents” were symbolic of rulers of the pagan, heathen nations who worshiped and sacrificed to idols, the unclean things they made with their own hands. Those pagan, idolatrous nations were always the enemies of the Most High.

It is also necessary to understand the symbolic meaning of "earth" and "heaven" in prophetic language, as they do not have the common meaning that is normally understood. In the OT, "earth" was most often used in prophesy for the people of the land of Israel, but could also mean the people of any land to whom the prophet was sent with God's warnings of judgment.

God formed man from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). The prophets spoke to Israel of old calling them “earth.” See Deu. 32:1; Jer. 6:19; Jer. 17:13; Jer. 22:29; Jer. 33:15. Typically, it is best read as "land."

In prophetic language, "heaven" could mean the place where God sits on His throne, but it could also mean the ruling authority and power of a nation. In judgment language it speaks of the governing dominion, palaces and abodes of the world rulers.

In speaking of the judgment against Israel and Judah, Isaiah referred to the light of their heavens becoming dark. (Is. 5:30) Their heavens were their ruling authorities, and the land / kingdom over which they ruled.

Is. 13:1-5 told of God bringing a kingdom against Babylon “from a far country, from the end of heaven…to destroy the whole land.” Here, “the end of heaven” referred to the border ends of the kingdom of Babylon. Babylon’s rule and kingdom was a heaven that was going to be thrown down and destroyed.

Is. 13:10, “the stars of heaven” meant the princes and ruling authorities of Babylon. Is. 13:13 said that God was going to “shake the heavens” and remove the “earth” that is Babylon out of her place.

Is. 14:12 still speaking of the king of Babylon – possibly Nebuchadnezzar, but most probably his grandson, Belshazzar – “fallen from heaven” means he was removed from power and no longer ruled. The name “Lucifer, son of the morning” was referring to the king of Babylon.

Ez. 32:7, in speaking in judgment of the Pharaoh of Egypt:

“And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.” (KJV)

Egypt’s rule and kingdom would be hidden, overturned, and destroyed.

Jer. 4:28, telling the judgment to come upon Jerusalem:

"For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.” (KJV)

The earth was the land, and the people of the land; the heavens were the men who ruled, the Jewish hierarchy, the Sanhedrin Council and priests, their palaces and abodes.

The rulers of a nation lived in higher authority, power, and luxury over the people of the land. Their palaces and their kingdoms were referred to as heavenly places. This is the same reference meant in Eph. 3:10:

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” (KJV)

The earthly kings and kingdoms were also called heavenly because it was God who raised them up, allowed them their power and rule. See Ex. 9:16; Judges 2:16, 18; 2 Sam. 23:1; Is. 41:2, 25; Is. 45:13; Jer. 51:11, and many others.

Rev. 12:1 use of “the great wonder in heaven” referred to the Jewish authority and rule of Judah. The woman clothed with the sun was the Israel of old who was pregnant with Christ and His church, born in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, with the “moon at her feet” (that is the old Mosaic assembly of Israel), and the twelve stars in her crown (the apostles of the newly born church of Christ)

But, we have to be careful to stay with the context of the scripture to know which heaven is referenced. We see in Rev. 12:7, “there was war in heaven” with Michael and his angels fighting the dragon and his angels… this depicts the war between Rome and Judah… and both rulers / authorities were occupying “heavens” in their sphere of power.

The dragon - devil - was not thrown out of the heaven where God sits on His throne, but was thrown down from a position of power of a ruling nation which was Rome of the first century A.D. Being thrown down to "earth" meant he no longer held the power to deceive the nations.

The dragon in Revelation was a representation of the world power that was the enemy of Christ and His church. It appeared in “heaven”, the sphere of the political world dominion and power of Rome, the empire which ruled over Palestine, the land or “earth” of this prophesy.

There were two beasts in Revelation, the sea beast (Rev. 13:1) and the land beast (Rev. 13:11).

The word “beast” here is “therion” and means a wild beast, a predator that devours the young and the weak. In general, it is a symbol of the pagan world power which was presented in the Roman empire of the first century A.D.

It rose up out of the sea.. that is the gentile nations across the great Mediterranean sea. The seven heads were seven kings / Caesars. The ten horns were the lesser ruling senatorial provinces that did not have the power or rule equal to Caesar. The power to wage war for 42 months was the war against Judea beginning in A.D. 66-67 and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Its target, or prey was the newly born, young church of Christ, and His saints.

The blasphemies spoken against God were from the mouth of the pretending Caesars who claimed to be God, and who vowed to destroy all other claimants, and all the seed of David. Specifically, during the great tribulation, the persecution of the saints, it became centered in one man, Nero. (Rev. 13:18)

The symbol of the beast of the sea switches back and forth between the collective pagan empire of Rome, and the representative of that empire, Caesar.

The beast of the earth was the apostate, non-believing Jews who crucified Christ and persecuted His saints, centered in the power of the Sanhedrin and Jewish priesthood.

As in the OT, the word “earth” in Revelation was a metaphor and stood here for the land of Judea, the remnant of Israel. The Jews enlisted the power of the Roman Caesars to both crucify Christ, and persecute the Christians. This is referred to again in Chap. 17 as the woman (Jerusalem) who rode on the head of the Roman beast.

Together, the sea and land beasts were the persecuting powers who killed the newly converted Christians who were a threat to both their power and control of the people.

The Roman Caesars were claiming to be gods, and sons of gods. Their claims were those of impostors, who forced the people to worship them through acts of terror. Those that succumbed to the “mark of the beast” were those that worshiped the Caesars of Rome, and other pagan “gods.”

Satan’s desire was always to deceive the nations / people so that they would turn away from God. This was the war that was prophesied in Gen. 3:15 to be fought between the Seed of the woman (Christ) and the seed of the serpent. This battle waged by Satan was present throughout all of the OT. He desperately wanted to prevent Christ’s birth, and then to destroy Him.

There is much more that is identified in the symbols of the prophesy of Revelation, and it all can be found in the OT. See the posts at my blog Parts 1 - VIII of "The Signs of Revelation" for more on these symbols ShreddingTheVeil.

Also recommended:

"The Great Red Draagon" by Kurt Simmons here

"Reuss on the Number of the Beast" by J. Stuart Russell here

"Symbolism of Prophesy" by J. Stuart Russell here

  • Thanks a lot, Gina! I elected your answer instead of Laura's answer (which is also very good), because you provide me some references in order to go deeper in this topic. – antoniov.joel Sep 18 '17 at 13:26
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Revelation 12:9 answers the first part of your question. "the great dragon .... that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan who leads the whole world astray." Most understand that the devil (Satan) also called the deceiver, is in opposition to God.

The beast is a power. See the beasts in Daniel 7 and 8. This beast obtains it's authority from the dragon. They are not one and the same. Both the beast and the dragon in Revelation 13:4 receive worship. This beast in Revelation 13 comes out of the sea with 7 heads and 10 horns (powers) and 10 crowns (symbolic of authority) on the horns. This beast looks like a leopard with bear's feet and has a lion's mouth. It receives it's power from the dragon for 42 months then one of it's heads receives a deadly wound but this is later healed. There is a second beast in Revelation 13:11 that comes up out of the earth where the first beast had come up out of the sea. It has horns like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. It exercises the same authority as the first beast (authority received from the dragon) and causes all on the earth to worship the first beast that had the deadly wound to it's head which is now healed, and causes all on the earth to receive a mark (of worship). The mark of this second beast is a number, vs. 18, 666.

There are other beasts that are mentioned in Daniel. If you read Daniel 7 you find 4 different beasts. The 4th beast is a terrible beast with teeth of iron and interestingly, 10 horns. I believe that the beasts in Daniel and the beasts in Revelation help to explain each other. In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar has a dream of an image. It follows by an interpretation of the dream which foretells the progression of the main ruling powers on the earth starting with Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. There are 5 of them, head - gold, chest & arms - silver, belly - bronze, legs - iron, and feet with 10 toes - of iron and clay. In Daniel 7 you find another dream, this time of beasts and there are four of them, a lion with eagle's wings, a leopard with 4 wings of a bird and four heads. The third beast as a bear on it's side with 3 ribs in it's mouth. The fourth beast is described Daniel 7:7-10. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. Later in Daniel 8 there is another vision of a ram and a goat with the interpretation. This helps to understand the other visions and which kingdoms are to come. The ram with two horns is Medio Persia and the goat is Greece. There is a lot more but this answer is becoming very involved. Blessings on your studies.

  • So this is a preterist point of view or a general view? Does your answer address the questions the OP gave? – Steve Sep 17 '17 at 2:53
  • @Laura many thanks for your answer, Laura! It was really helpful to me. – antoniov.joel Sep 18 '17 at 13:23

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