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The Book of Revelation

Chapter 17

The Woman and the Beast - Revelation 17:1-18

In chapter 17 we will see how God shall destroy “religious” Babylon. Commercial Babylon will be destroyed in chapter 18. There are so many things God brings to judgment in the Great Tribulation, it baffles the mind! Many good expositors of God’s Word disagree on details. Some things may not be known until this judgment, until the people face each crisis.

Questions arise, on these two cities.

  • (1) Are there two Babylons? or just one?
  • (2) Are these two cities in two different locations?
  • (3) Are there two literal cities? or are they one and the same?
  • (4) If Rome is the religious Babylon, what city is the other? And, where is it?

Personally, I think it is two entitely different cities, two literal cities, but then, only time will tell. Only God knows!

Some things to consider:

  • (1) Religious Babylon will be destroyed by the Antichrist. Commercial Babylon will be destroyed when Christ returns.
  • (2) Religious Babylon will be hated by the Antichrist. Commercial Babylon will be loved by the world.
  • (3) Religious Babylon will be destroyed mid-way in the Tribulation (3 1/2 years before it ends). Commercial Babylon will be destroyed at the end of the 7 year period.

Rev. 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: (KJV) One of the seven angels who had poured out the seven vials (bowls) came over and spoke to me. "Come with me," he said, "and I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who sits on many waters.

God foretold the destruction of Babylon in Rev.16;17-21. This will indeed happen! It’s as good as done! Religious Babylon is called the “great whore.” This “whore” church is what will remain after Jesus raptures the true church. It will consist of ALL denominations, including, maybe especially, demon worship. It will tolerate ANY doctrine except the TRUE Gospel of Christ! The “water” symbolizes great masses of people (Ps.18:4; Isa.8:7; 17:12-13; Jer.47:2; Rev.13:1). These people love this “whore.” The wicked city of Babylon contrasts with the heavenly city of Jerusalem (Rev.21:10 to 22:5).

Rev. 17:2 With whom the kings of the earth , and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. (KJV) The rulers of the world have had immoral relations with this whore. The people of this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality.

Remember, idolatry, covetness and apostasy are symbolic of spiritual adultery or fornication (Jer.3:6; Eze.16:32; Hos.1:2-3; Rev.2:22). An apostate church to God, is an “adultress” (Isa.1:21). Jesus calls the Jews “an adulterous generation” (Mat.12:39). “The kings of the earth have committed fornication” clearly shows us there is an unholy connection between the church and state. If you will just look around, you will see that we are speedily coming to the day when there will be a unified (one-world) church. Even some well known evangelicals are fighting for this one-world church. This means the end is near! Any time anyone rejects the true and genuine, they are wide open for the false, fake and counterfeit! This “whore” church sees no need for personal salvation (already growing in leaps and bounds). They will have a ‘social’ gospel. Sound familiar? Liberalism of today is playing directly into the hands of Satan! Many, even today, are “drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

Rev. 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. (KJV) The angel took John, in the spirit, into the wilderness. There John saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, with blasphemies against God written all over it.

This “woman” (whore) that John sees is sitting upon a frightful “red beast.” This chapter has many symbols! She is riding a beast, so she has control of him.This “beast” has been previously identified as the Antichrist, ruling over the restored Roman Empire (Rev.13). The “woman” will be identified in a later verse.

Rev. 17:4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: (KJV) The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold, precious gems and pearls. She held in her hand a gold goblet full of filthiness and the impurities of her immorality.

Purple and scarlet were the colors of Roman imperialism, but also the Catholic church. Many interpreters think the ruler of this apostate church will be the pope. We must remember that ALL denominations will be in this church. The “woman” will be “decked with gold and precious stones and pearls,” outward beauty, like the Pharisees, but full of “dead men’s bones” (Mat.23:27). Prosperity, grandeur and splendor feed the pride, ego and lusts of the human heart, but are NO security against God’s Divine vengeance. The “golden cup” she holds is full of filth and abominations to God. This counterfeit religion that makes the world drunk (Jer.51:7). It represents allurements and delusions, and seduces others to join her.

Rev. 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (KJV) A name was written on her forehead: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Filthiness in the World."

What a disgraceful title for a church! “MYSTERY, BABYLON.” The TRUE church is a “mystery” because she was never revealed in the Old Testament (Eph.3:1-9). This anti-church (apostate, evil) is a “mystery” because it was not revealed until John wrote the Book of Revelation. Babylon is the fountainhead of ALL false religions, that is why she is called “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” (plural, not singular). This church will train people up to idolatry and all sorts of wickedness and immorality!

Rev. 17:6-7 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. [7] And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. (KJV) John realized that she was drunk . . . drunk with the blood of God's holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. John stared at her in amazement. "Why are you amazed?" the angel asked. "I will tell you of the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns.

This “woman” not only makes others drunk; she herself is drunk with the persecution of the saints. She loves what she is doing, so much that it makes her “drunk.” What John saw in his vision must have boggled his mind! We should remember that the emphasis here is on the “woman” (the whore), NOT the beast she sits upon (Antichrist).

Rev. 17:8-9 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. [9] And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. (KJV)
The beast you saw was alive but isn't now. He will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world, whose names were not written in the Book of Life will be amazed at the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills of the city where this woman rules. They also represent seven kings.

The phrase “was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit” means that the beast was alive, died and then came back to life. The beast’s resurrection symbolizes the persistence of evil. “Was” speaks of the past history of the Roman Empire. “Is not” refers to the shattered present day condition of the Roman Empire (shattered but not dead). “Will come” tells of the restored Roman Empire. “Shall go into perdition” tells of the total destruction of the Roman Empire at the return of Christ. Verse 7 said the “beast that carrieth her, hath the seven heads and ten horns.” Now we get more information! “The seven heads are seven mountains.” Which well known city in the world, sits (is built) on 7 mountains? None other than Rome! Rome is where the “woman” (the harlot church) sits, and manipulates the religions of the world. Does this sound logical to you? It does to me.

Rev. 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. (KJV) Five kings have already fallen, the sixth now reigns, and the seventh is yet to come, but his reign will be brief.

Have fallen” is a figure of speech meaning the person died (Ex. 32:28; 2 Sam.1:19; 1 Chron.5:10). “One is” indicates that one of the 7 kings the “woman” rides was a contemporary of the apostle John. That king lived at that time. The “other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space” is a prophetic prediction by John concerning the 7th and final king. This particular king’s reign, according to John, will be short. The five that are fallen could be: Julius Caesar, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. The “one is” refers to Domitian, who exiled John to Patmos. The “one yet to come” will be satanic. Antichrist will definitely rule over the restored Roman Empire.

Rev. 17:11-14 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. [12] And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. [13] These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. [14] These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (KJV) The beast that was alive and then died is the eighth king. He is like the other seven, and he, too, will go to his doom. His ten horns are ten kings who have not yet risen to power; they will be appointed to their kingdoms for one brief moment to reign with the beast. They will all agree to give their power and authority to him. They all will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will defeat them because He is Lord of all lords and King of all kings, and His people are the called and chosen and faithful ones.

Many times the “beast” symbolizes the Roman Empire, but it also the 8th head or individual ruler who is the Antichrist. In verse 11, it is the Antichrist. The “ten horns” in verse 12 are the rulers of the reivied Roman Empire. Daniel tells us about this situation (Dan.7:7-24). When Antichrist comes to power, he will put down 3 of the 10 kings. “The beast that was” refers to past history of the Roman emporors. “Is not” refers to the end of imperial Rome. “He is the eighth, and is of the seven” places Antichrist with the return of the imperial type system of the restored Roman Empire. “The ten horns” are the same as in Dan.7:7. These 10 kings will reign with Antichrist, but he will be boss! They will be like puppets on a string. The goal of all the kings (and Antichrist) is to make war with Christ (the Lamb). A NO-win situation!

Rev. 17:15-18 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. [16] And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. [17] For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. [18] And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. (KJV) And the angel said to John, "The waters where the prostitute sits represents masses of people of every nation and language. The scarlet beast and his ten horns represent ten kings who will reign with him; and all hate the whore. They will strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire. For God has put a plan into their minds, a plan that will carry out His purposes. They will all agree to give their power to the scarlet beast, so the words of God will be fulfilled. And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."

As I said in verse 1, “waters” represents people or nations. The “ten horns” are 10 kings ruling over 10 diverse sections of the Roman Empire. These kings hate the apostate church (the woman, the whore). For a while, Antichrist is willing to share the glory with the church at Rome, but this comes to a screeching halt! Antichrist and his cohorts will utterly destroy every aspect of this false and evil church. They will “strip her naked, eat her flesh and burn her remains.” Sounds like total and complete destruction to me! God will rule the hearts of these kings. By His power over them, they did all things, without intending to, which He had purposed and foretold! The “woman” is identified in verse 18. She is a false (idolatrous) religious system AND the great city of Rome.

Book of Revelation

Ch.1. . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5. . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.`17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Special Comments

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