One of the inherent problems with taking a futurist, historicist or a preterist approach in naming the Beast of Revelation 13 is a confusion of terms in different biblical passages. Most assume from the outset that the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, the Beast, the Little Horn, and the Whore of Babylon are the same figure. I interpret these to be different figures.
The Fourth Kingdom of Daniel — Rome at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. Whether or not it can be seen as extending into the Middle Ages is ruled out by Daniel when he describes the great military might of the Roman Empire and the coming of the kingdom in Jesus’ day, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44).
The Little Horn of Daniel 7 — This is specifically Nero. (Calvin thought it was the Roman Caesars beginning with Julius and his immediate successors – especially Nero through Vespasian.)
The Beast of Revelation — Rome in the time of Jesus and the Apostles and in certain cases specifically Nero.
The Whore of Babylon — The city of Jerusalem. “And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth” (Revelation 18:24).
The False Prophet — The High Priest who causes the inhabitants of the land to worship the Beast. This speaks of the collusion between the Sanhedrin and Rome in crucifying Jesus and persecuting the saints.
(In my view of Revelation 13,17-19, specifically, the Beast is Nero; Babylon is the city of Jerusalem; the Whore of Babylon is the system of false worship at the Temple; the false prophet is the High Priest.)
The Antichrist — Anyone who does not believe that Jesus was God in the flesh. Antichrist is not described as one satanic entity – as the Beast of Revelation – but as any person or teaching that denies the Incarnation.
The Man of Sin — The same figure as the Antichrist. I part company with most preterists here. I don’t think that the man of sin can be Nero because of the context of the passage.
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him… Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed … and now ye know what witholdeth that he might be revealed in his time … only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8).
While the “falling away” in 2 Thessalonians 2 could be interpreted as an apostasy just before the fall of Jerusalem, and the “coming of our Lord” could be understood as the Lord coming in judgment and destruction on Jerusalem – I do not think that this is consistent with the context of the passage. Paul here is addressing questions about the Second Coming. He is saying that it will happen after a general apostasy as described in Revelation 20:7-9 and elsewhere. I address this more in another note below.