The identity of the Beast rising out of the sea in Revelation 13 is a hotly debated topic. Some believe the Beast has come already, while others believe that he is alive today, waiting to take his position of power. One of the key passages cited by all groups is in Revelation 13:1–8, 18.
Yet the imagery of the book of Revelation has opened it to misinterpretation by modern-day interpreters who are unfamiliar with the apocalyptic literary genre. Jonathan Leonard explains the meaning of the Beast of Revelation 13:1–8, 18 in its first century context and its relevance to members of the early church. The imagery of the Beast of Revelation is not seen as instilling fear into the hearts of believers concerning the future, but serves as a stinging critique of imperial power, idolatry, and oppression. When properly viewed in its original context, the unveiling of the Beast can transcend the first century and serve to strengthen the testimony of the church of Jesus Christ in the present day.