And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. (Rev 6:8 ESV)
I have been asked to comment on this question. I am convinced the “wild beasts (thērion) of the earth” refer to the Antichrist and the false prophet, not literal animals. There are good grammatical reasons that rule out animals (see especially the footnotes below). I have addressed this question in my book Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord. Here is my exegesis:
Death and Hades will use “wild beasts of the earth” to kill. It is significant the term for “beasts” (thērion) is used thirty-nine times in the book of Revelation. In every instance, it refers to the Antichrist or his associations (his image, system, or his religious accomplice).[i] This is the first time the term is used in Revelation. Since it refers to the Antichrist and his associations in the remaining thirty-eight instances, it would be very unusual, though not impossible, it would not also refer to the Antichrist and his religious accomplice. In addition, there is a definite article “the” (ho) that precedes “beasts,” which makes the beasts definite. So it is not referring to beasts as a general class; instead, the presence of the article indicates particularity.[ii] This is consistent with the fifth seal martyrs since Revelation teaches the beast is responsible for putting believers to death: “If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints” (Rev 13:10; cf. Rev 20:4).[iii]
[i] Of the thirty-nine instances, there is actually one usage that arguably could refer to just animals in a literal sense: “He shouted with a powerful voice: ‘Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great! She has become a lair for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detested beast’” (Rev 18:2). But even in this instance there is some textual doubt to the phrase, “a haunt for every unclean and detested beast,” which is missing from some important Greek manuscripts (Aleph C 051 M). But it is attested in some other important manuscripts (A 1611 2329). This is why some Bible translations do not include this phrase (KJV, NASB, NIV) and some do (ESV, NET). Another issue, it may be objected Revelation 6:8 is the only instance in the book of Revelation this term is found in the plural with all other instances in the singular; therefore, it is argued, it likely does not refer to the Antichrist. But it makes sense this instance is in the plural. It is anticipating, or giving at least a summary, of the Antichrist and his associate False Prophet. Both are described as distinct beasts (Rev. 13:1, 11), working in concert to persecute the saints.
[ii] In Greek grammatical terminology, the article in this context would indicate a “well-known” sense. Daniel Wallace comments on this particular category: “The [‘well-known’] article points out an object that is well known…” Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 225. Another category of the article this example could fall into is the “kataphoric article.” Again, Wallace explains this second category: “The first mention, with the article, is anticipatory, followed by a phrase or statement that defines or qualifies the thing mentioned” (Greek Grammar, 220). In this case, the beasts are qualified as those “of the earth” (cf. Rev 13:11; Dan 7:17). It is possible an article can indicate a class of objects (the “Generic Article”), rather than a particular object, but this is not common. It is more rare to find the generic article in the plural as in our case. Moreover, those very few, generic, plural examples in the New Testament are hortations or maxims, e.g., “foxes have dens” (cf. Greek Grammar, 227–28). In our example of “beasts,” it is not found in either of these two kinds of speech actions, but reflects a real situation; therefore, it is most certain particular beasts are in view—i.e., the Antichrist and False Prophet.
[iii] There is another reason supporting the reference to beasts as Antichrist and his religious accomplice. The first three entities, “sword, famine, and pestilence,” are in the grammatical construction called the “dative of means/instrument.” The fourth entity, “the beasts,” is found in the grammatical construction called “ultimate agent,” or more probable, in this context the “intermediate agent” with the ultimate agent being “Death and Hades.” In other words, this indicates the beasts are agents themselves, and may be using the sword, famine, and pestilence as means to achieve an end. The text reads: “apokteinai [to kill] en rhomphaia [with sword] kai en limō [and with famine] kai en thanatō [and with pestilence] kai hypo tōn thērion tēs gēs [and by the wild beasts of the earth].” The first three prepositional phrases that have en plus the dative indicate “means/instrument.” The last prepositional phrase hypo plus the genitive indicates the “ultimate agent” (or possibly an intermediate agent). Wallace, Greek Grammar, 431–35. This is consistent with the fact it will be Satan who will possess the Antichrist (see 2 Thess 2:5–10; Rev 13). And we know it will be Antichrist who will kill believers by the “sword” and prevent anyone from buying food if they do not possess his mark.