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What is the meaning of “every tribe and tongue” in Revelation 13:7?

every tribe and tongue

Revelation 13:7 reveals key information about the beast introduced in the chapter’s opening. The verse proclaims that the entity will wield great power and use it for nefarious purposes: “It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation” (NKJV). Every tribe and tongue is a way of referring to the whole world. The beast will rule over every corner of the globe, regardless of kindred, race, or language.

Scholars have debated the identity of this beast, which we believe is the Antichrist. Revelation 13 reveals the beast’s association with the dragon, Satan, and the authority vested in the beast in the second half of the tribulation. The expression every tribe and tongue signifies diverse groups, nations, and states. The beast’s influence will be worldwide. As the leader of a one-world government, he will demand worship.

Revelation chapter 13 gives insight into this beast that wields authority over every tribe and tongue. The beast is described as having seven heads, ten horns, and ten diadems on the horns (Revelation 13:1). This is a picture of the beastly empire, a coalition of nations that rise to power to subdue the earth under Satan’s control. Revelation’s later references to the beast describe an individual—the man who is the political leader and world ruler. The beast engages in blasphemy (verses 6–7) and garners worship from those whose names are not inscribed in the Lamb’s book of life (verse 8). The dragon, Satan, empowers the beast and collaborates with a second beast, a false prophet who supports the Antichrist.

Revelation 13:7 underscores the reality of spiritual warfare. Although the dragon is a defeated foe, it remains resolute in opposing God by targeting His children (Revelation 2:17). During the tribulation, when the Restrainer has been removed (2 Thessalonians 2:6), Satan enlists the aid of the two humans in a bid to usurp God’s authority over every tribe and tongue. The Antichrist “will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The people on earth at the time will align with either God through Christ or with Satan through the beast. There will be no neutral ground.

Also, Revelation 13:7 alludes to God’s sovereignty, even over the actions of the dragon and the beast. The authority of these evil beings over every tribe and tongue is contingent on God’s permission. As Joni Eareckson Tada once wrote, “God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves” (, 9/7/21, accessed 4/30/24). Even in their rebellion, the dragon and all those who reject God remain subject to God’s sovereignty. Philippians 2:10–11 affirms that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (ESV).

The entire book of Revelation calls for unwavering perseverance from God’s faithful ones. Presently, Christians face varying degrees of persecution, with the world’s rejection of biblical values becoming increasingly evident. The spirit of the antichrist is already at work in the world (1 John 4:3). We must be sure to steadfastly adhere to the truth of the gospel and “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3, NASB).

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What is the meaning of “every tribe and tongue” in Revelation 13:7?
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This page last updated: June 5, 2024