Understanding Revelation 17

Q. The following passage is from Revelation 17.

“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.”

The passage says that the 7 heads are 7 kings (kingdoms) which represent the 7 world empires (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek, Roman, and the revived roman empire of the Anti-Christ). The passage then goes on to say that the beast who once was and now is not, which is describing the anti-christ is an 8th king. I cant quite figure this out. If the Antichrist and his government are counted as one of the seven, why is he then called an 8th king? Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.

A. I believe that John’s intent was to inform us that the anti-Christ will not be in command of the revived Roman Empire, but will come from outside its power structure to take command, somehow superseding the established world leadership in the process. Rev. 13:3-4 seems to concur. This makes me skeptical of the popular effort to identify him by looking at current world leaders.

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