A Simplified Guide to Daniel’s Four Beasts

Daniel’s vision of the four beasts. In chapter 7 of his book, Daniel has a vision of four beasts coming up from the sea [7:2-3]. Each of these beasts represents a Biblical World Kingdom. Daniel, distressed by the dream, seeks the help of a nearby angel for an answer to what he has seen. The angel tells him that these beasts are four kings (k3).

The k3 principle. When you see k3 in parentheses, know that I am referring to a king/kingdom/kingship at the same time. A beast is a king, or a man. It is also a kingdom because you can’t be a king without one. It is also a kingship since kingdoms are often multigenerational and the seat of power changes from one king to the next over the years. In addition, consider, in the Book of Revelation, the beast that John sees is also a fallen angel, a spiritual being [Revelation 9:11].

It is also important to understand that these kingdoms have to start somewhere. They start from a central point and spread out.


‘These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. [Daniel 7:17 NASB]

Artwork by philmckay.comThe 1st beast.

“The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it. [Daniel 7:4 NASB]

This is the king of Babylon (k3). King Nebuchadnezzar was made like an animal because he lifted himself up in pride before God [4:28-33]. After seven years, he was returned to his right mind as a man [4:34-37].

Artwork by philmckay.comThe 2nd beast.

“And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’ [Daniel 7:5 NASB]

These are the kings of Medo-Persia (k3). Persia was the more powerful kingdom, hence, the raising up of one side. The three ribs are the previous Biblical World Kingdoms of Egypt, Assyria and Babylon.

Artwork by philmckay.comThe 3rd beast.

“After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. [Daniel 7:6 NASB]

This is the king of Greece (k3). At its height, upon the death of Alexander the Great, Greece was broken up into four lesser kingdoms by his generals. Daniel tells us about two of these kingdoms in chapter 11 where he identifies the geographic location of the future kingdom of the Antichrist.

Artwork by philmckay.comThe 4th beast.

“After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. [Daniel 7:7 NASB]

The popular interpretation is that this 4th beast kingdom is the Roman Empire. However, because this beast is described as having ten horns, we can know it was still to be a future kingdom at the time when John was imprisoned at Patmos and wrote Revelation.

The ten horns which you [John] saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. [Revelation 17:12 NASB]

*I added John’s name in brackets

From this, I submit to you we can conclude that Daniel described this 4th beast in its revived state. Therefore, it is not the coming Roman Empire of Daniel’s future.

*Artwork of the four beasts can be found at philmckay.com

Additional Reading:

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