– John watches as a monstrous beast rises out of the sea. While a beast represents a political power, the description of the sea beast points to a political power that has religion as a dominant characteristic. The sea symbolizes the largely populated area of Europe out of which the sea beast rises to power after the downfall of the Roman Empire (Rev. 17:15).
– John describes the beast as it emerges from the water. The beast has seven heads and ten horns, the same as the dragon in Revelation 12:3-4, showing its close connection with pagan Rome.
– Upon the heads of the beast is a blasphemous name, and upon the horns are royal crowns. The heads of the beast are the kingdoms that Satan has used to persecute God’s people throughout history (see Rev. 17:9–11). The blasphemous name points to the divine title the beast claims. The ten horns point to Daniel 7:24, symbolizing the nations that sprang out of the Roman Empire after its demise.
– These characteristics of the sea beast all point to the papacy that grew out of the pagan Roman Empire.
– The beast from the sea resembles a leopard with feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. As such, the beast combines the characteristics of the four beasts (symbols of world empires) in Daniel 7:2–7: Babylon, Media- Persia, Greece, and Rome. However, John lists them in reverse order, which from his first-century perspective looking backwards, shows that the sea beast is related to the fourth beast of Daniel 7, the Roman Empire.
– The dragon (the pagan Roman Empire empowered by Satan) gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority. Just as the Father has given His throne and authority to Christ (Rev. 2:27), so Satan invests the beast as his coregent and representative on earth.
– I still have questions; studying this further here: https://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/book/e/53/t/the-beast–the-dragon-and-the-woman
Source reference: SDA 1Q19 Quarterly