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3.17 - Revelation 17

3.17.1 - Revelation 17:1 Open Bible at Rev. 17:1 Listen to Rev. 17:1

In the previous chapter, John is shown the seven angels having the seven last plagues—the seven bowl judgments. He sees the seven bowls poured forth, including the last bowl wherein a voice from the Temple declares “It is done!” The effects of the previous chapter, at the pouring forth of all the bowls, include all aspects of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth reaching to the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4+). All of these events are future to the time of John’s writing.

Now, one of the angels of the previous chapter shows John a perspective which precedes the events he saw in the previous chapter. This includes additional information concerning the destruction of Babylon and the final consummation of the wrath that John saw prophetically poured forth. Beginning with Revelation 17+ and continuing through Revelation 20:3+, John is shown additional detail concerning aspects of the bowl judgments and their recipients. This includes the destruction of Babylon (Rev. 17:16-18+, 18:1-24+, 19:1-3+), the Beast and his armies (Rev. 19:11-21+), and the binding of Satan (Rev. 20:1-3+).

one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls
This is one of the seven angels which John saw earlier as a “great and marvelous” sign (Rev. 15:1+) which were given “seven golden bowls of the wrath of God” (Rev. 15:7+). These bowls were poured out in the previous chapter. Since this angel shows John the woman, Babylon (Rev. 17:18+), perhaps this is the angel who poured out the seventh bowl during which Babylon was destroyed (Rev. 16:17-19+).

Come, I will show you
The same phrase is used later, probably by the same angel, when John is shown the Lamb’s wife: “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev. 21:9+). The Great Harlot of this chapter is to be contrasted with both the Lamb’s wife and the woman of Revelation 12+. See A Virgin and a Harlot and Babylon and the New Jerusalem.

the judgment
The Great Harlot is associated with Babylon (Rev. 17:5+, 18+; 18:21+ ; 19:2+ ). The prophets foretold the judgment which would come against Babylon. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah devote major passages to this topic which are essential background to an understanding of this chapter (Isa. 13, 14, 47; Jer. 50, 51). As we have seen before, prophecies in the OT often contain a mix of near-term and far-future predictions. In the case of the prophesied destruction of Babylon, the near-term aspects were fulfilled in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus (Dan. 5:30-31+), but the city of Babylon has never been destroyed as predicted by the far-future aspects of Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s prophecies. See The Destruction of Babylon. She is to be judged because she has corrupted the earth with her fornication and shed the blood of God’s servants (Rev. 17:6+; 19:2+).

the great harlot
She is “great” in the sense of having a dominant role in spiritual idolatry throughout history. In her is found the origin of all other “daughter harlots” (Rev. 17:5+), for she predated them and begot (influenced) them. Her harlotry speaks of her abominable practices and spiritual idolatry. See The Great Harlot.

who sits on many waters
The description of the woman shown John includes many aspects which are similar to that of Babylon at the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Jeremiah says concerning Babylon: “O you who dwell by many waters, abundant in treasures, your end has come” (Jer. 51:13a). Yet there are also differences. During the time of Jeremiah, Babylon resided by numerous waters: “Babylon was surrounded by the Euphrates, which divided to form many islands, and a large lake was nearby.”1 “Nebuchadrezzar’s Babylon was the largest city in the world, covering 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares). The Euphrates, which has since shifted its course, flowed through it, the older part of the city being on the east bank.”2

The Great Harlot now sits on (ἐπὶ [epi] ) many waters which are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:15+). This speaks of both her influence and support, no longer restricted to the plain of Shinar (Gen. 10:10; 11:2; Dan. 1:2+; Zec. 5:11), but now extending throughout the world. The Great Harlot seen by John influences a much wider realm than Babylon of Old. Her influence was scattered worldwide with the introduction of languages in the judgment of Babel (Gen. 11:9). The waters upon which she sits are the waters from which the first Beast arose (Rev. 13:1+).

3.17.2 - Revelation 17:2 Open Bible at Rev. 17:2 Listen to Rev. 17:2

with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication
The kings of the earth committed fornication with the Harlot both because of the allure of her harlotries, but also because she reigns over the kings of the earth.” Throughout history, she has wielded powerful influence over various rulers of nations beyond Babylon. Fornication is ἐπόρνευσαν [eporneusan] , meaning to prostitute, practice prostitution or sexual immorality generally, but also used figuratively to denote the practice of idolatry (Hos. 9:1; Jer. 3:6; Eze. 23:19; 1Chr. 5:25).3

To prostitute something is to take that which has a proper use and to turn it into an improper use. A prostitute takes sex, which has a proper use, and perverts it with an improper use, turning it into something illicit, causing fornication. In this case, the harlot represents “religion,” which has a proper use (Jas. 1:26-27), but here has been prostituted for improper use. Rather than serving, it rules. The false use of religion causes spiritual fornication. The word fornication is used both of physical unfaithfulness and also of spiritual unfaithfulness, as in Hosea 1-2; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:1-9; Ezekiel 16:15-41; 23:5-44, etc. It is with this woman that the kings of the earth commit fornication (Rev. 17:2+), showing this to be a unity of religion and state.4

This aspect of the Harlot is identical with that of the city Babylon: “She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev. 14:8+); Those who fornicated with her were also deceived by her sorcery (Rev. 18:23+). Some believe she differs from Babylon itself, but we believe the Scriptural evidence points in the direction of identity. The woman is “that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18+)—Babylon. See One or Two Babylons?

Like Tyre of Isaiah’s day, the Harlot has both commercial and spiritual aspects which are opposed to God: “And it shall be, at the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre. She will return to her hire, and commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth” (Isa. 23:17).

and the inhabitants of the earth
As went the leaders, so went the people. Not only kings, but an entire global populace was influenced by her. Although she influenced the inhabitants throughout history, it is the earth dwellers of the time of the end which are her final drinking partners. See Earth Dwellers.

made drunk with the wine of her fornication
They were made drunk from the wine she served up (Rev. 14:8+). Because neither she nor the inhabitants of the earth chose to respond to the light which all men are given concerning God (Rom. 1:18-21), God used her rebellion to make all the nations commit even further to their errant path. “Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, That made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; Therefore the nations are deranged” (Jer. 51:7). In the same way that the three unclean spirits go forth to draw the kings of the earth to God’s supper (Rev. 16:13-14+ cf. Rev. 19:17+), so too Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand. It was her who first made them drunk, but in their consistent rejection of God and their drunken stupor they returned for more which God allowed her to continue serving up.

3.17.3 - Revelation 17:3 Open Bible at Rev. 17:3 Listen to Rev. 17:3

So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness
It was the Holy Spirit Who carried John while the angel accompanied him. In the same way that John was transported to heaven to see the vision of the throne (Rev. 4:2+), so now he is transported to the wilderness, the vantage point for viewing the Harlot. See commentary on Revelation 4:2. His previous vision of the Beast rising from the sea was seen while he stood on the sand of the sea (Rev. 13:1+). Later, John will be carried away “in the Spirit to a great and high mountain” where he is shown the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10+).

I saw a woman
John sees this woman in the wilderness, whereas he saw the woman of Revelation 12+ as a great sign in heaven. The woman is The Great Harlot which the angel was to show John (Rev. 17:1+). Later, she is specifically identified: “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18+). In this case, “great city,” is Babylon (Rev. 14:8+; 18:10+, 16+, 18-21+; 19:21+).

sitting on a scarlet beast
Scarlet is κόκκινον [kokkinon] : Scarlet cloth, dyed with κόκκος [kokkos] , a scarlet ‘berry,’ actually the female of a scale insect that clings to oak leaves, dried and crushed to prepare a red dye.”5 The beast is scarlet, because it is closely related to the fiery red dragon which empowers it (Rev. 12:3+ cf. Rev. 13:2+). Her sitting on the beast may speak less of influence and more of support. “The Woman seated on the Beast does not signify that she will rule over him, but intimates that he will support her.”6

Because the Beast represents a series of kings and kingdoms stretching through history, there is a tendency among many expositors to take the Harlot as an exclusively religious figure. The fact that she is seen riding upon the Beast is thought to necessitate her identification as exclusively religious, but not political:

The fact that the woman is riding the beast and is not the beast itself signifies that she represents ecclesiastical power as distinct from the beast which is political power. Her position, that of riding the beast, indicates on the one hand that she is supported by the political power of the beast, and on the other that she is in a dominant role and at least outwardly controls and directs the beast.7

While we do not deny the significant religious role assigned to the Harlot, taking her to be an ecclesiastical system contradicts what Scripture records—that she is a city (Rev. 17:18+; 18:21+-19:2+). There is no reason why she must be an ecclesiastical system when Scripture says she is a city. Moreover, she is also associated with wealth and excess (Rev. 17:4+)—these may speak equally of both politics and religion.

The Beast represents the historic development of kingdoms empowered by the dragon (Rev. 12:3+; 13:1+) and its ultimate manifestation at the time of the end. The Harlot is the city Babylon in all its aspects—combining commercial, political, and religious influence. She has ridden the beast throughout history.

full of names of blasphemy
The Beast which arose from the sea had a blasphemous name (Rev. 13:1+; names, MT and NU texts). The blasphemous names reflect the blasphemous mouth which speaks great things against God (Rev. 13:5+). See commentary on Revelation 13:5.

having seven heads and ten horns
The Great Harlot rides upon the same Beast which arose from the sea (Rev. 13:1+) which also had seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 13:1+). These same heads and horns were seen upon the great red dragon who empowers the Beast (Rev. 12:3+). The seven heads are seven mountains and seven kings (Rev. 17:9-10+). The ten horns are ten kings (Rev. 17:12+ cf. Dan. 7:7+, 20+, 24+). See commentary on Revelation 12:3 and Revelation 13:1. In order to understand what this chapter reveals concerning the Beast, the seven heads, and its ten horns, see Beasts, Heads, and Horns.

A Woman Rides the Beast

A Woman Rides the Beast

8

3.17.4 - Revelation 17:4 Open Bible at Rev. 17:4 Listen to Rev. 17:4

arrayed in purple and scarlet
Her purple and scarlet clothing is called “fine linen” (Rev. 18:12+). Fine is βύσσινον [byssinon] , which is used of “fine linen goods”9 and speaks of her external finery and wealth (Est. 8:15; Lam. 4:5; Luke 7:25; 16:19). Her attire reflects her commercialism: “Merchandise of gold and silver, and precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet” (Rev. 18:12+, 16+). Purple and scarlet were also the colors of royal vestment (Jdg. 8:26; Est. 1:6; Mat. 27:28). The scarlet may reflect her identification with the Beast who carries her, who is also scarlet. The color of her garments contrast with the fine white linen of the overcomers, the saints (Rev. 3:5+, 18+; 19:8+, 14+).

Those who attempt to make the Harlot Jerusalem note the similarities between aspects of the harlot and what is said concerning apostate Israel and her leaders:

Gentry points out that the color and adornment of the harlot in Revelation 17:4+ reflects the Jewish priestly colors of scarlet, purple, and gold (Ex. 28:33). These same colors were also found in the tapestry of the temple. Beale notes that the combination of the words in the Greek that describe the harlot’s garb is identical to the LXX description of the Jewish high priest’s garments. According to Beagley, the outward beauty of the cup and its inward impurity is reminiscent of Christ’s denunciation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:35. In addition, the woman’s title of harlot written across her forehead in Revelation 17:5+ is a direct reference to Jeremiah 3:3 where God told apostate Judah that she had a harlot’s forehead.10

While such parallels are interesting, it is important to note that the Harlot is closely identified with Babylon and there are many reasons we can be certain that Babylon cannot be Jerusalem. See Babylon is Jerusalem?

adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls
The woman not only practices spiritual harlotry (idolatry), she is also consumed with materialism and wealth.

In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day-death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. (Rev. 18:7-8+)

She shares this characteristic with the Beast she rides who disregards all gods, exalts himself above them, and in their place shall honor another god with gold, silver, and precious stones (Dan. 11:38+). The Harlot wears identical attire as the city. “That great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls” (Rev. 18:16+). This indicates that the Harlot and the city are one and the same (Rev. 17:18+). See One or Two Babylons?

a golden cup
This is the cup which she herself drinks and wherein she has mixed what she proffers to the nations (Jer. 51:7; Rev. 14:8+; 18:6+). Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the outside of the cup is lustrous and beautiful, but inside it is “full of extortion and self-indulgence” (Mat. 23:25-26).

full of abominations
Abominations is βδελυγμάτων [bdelygmatōn] : “Anything that must not be brought before God because it arouses his wrath.”11 “Anything connected with idolatry.”12 God warned Israel through Moses:

When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. (Deu. 18:9-12)

She is the mother of harlots and of abominations of the earth (Rev. 17:5+). Thus, she birthed the abominations which are found in the cup which she serves. From this, we know that the woman is not just a figure of the time of the end, but has her roots stretching back to early history. Thus, both the Harlot and the Seven Heads on the Beast which she rides stretch back to early history. See Five Fallen Kings. See Babylon of Old.

Those who confuse the Harlot with Jerusalem fail to consider important aspects of the OT record which preclude such an identity:
  1. The abominations which Israel practiced were learned from the surrounding nations (1K. 14:24) “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations” (Deu. 18:9 cf. 1K. 14:24; 2K. 16:3; 21:2; 2Chr. 28:3; 33:2; 36:14; Eze. 20:7-8). Thus, neither Israel nor Jerusalem can be the mother of these practices.
  2. The city of Jerusalem is first mentioned in the book of Joshua (Jos. 10:1).13 As a city associated with harlotry and abomination, Jerusalem lacks the necessary significance in early history necessary to fulfill all of what is said of the Harlot.
  3. The Great Harlot is associated with Babylon, not Jerusalem. See Babylon is Jerusalem?.

The cup is full indicating her readiness for God’s judgment.

and the filthiness of her fornication
Filthiness is ἀκάθαρτα [akatharta] , meaning that which is “impure, unclean.”14 Her fornication results in defilement, for she is unclean. This describes that which is morally indecent as well as ritually not acceptable.15 In the previous chapter, the same term described the three unclean (ἀκάθαρτα [akatharta] ) spirits” (Rev. 16:13+). Her idolatrous practices and abominations led to impurity and defiled the land: “The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity” (Ezra 9:11b). Her own fornication was promoted to foreign nations across the globe (Rev. 14:8+). The MT text has the fornication of the earth.

3.17.5 - Revelation 17:5 Open Bible at Rev. 17:5 Listen to Rev. 17:5

on her forehead
Like the sealed of Israel (Rev. 7:3+; 14:1+) and the Beast worshipers (Rev. 13:16+), the woman is also identified on her forehead. She has a harlot’s forehead and refuses to be ashamed (Jer. 3:3). The label on her forehead as the mother of harlots is to be contrasted with the engraved golden plate on the turban of the high priest which read, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” (Ex. 28:36-37). He is set apart to God, she is set against God. See A Virgin and a Harlot and Babylon and the New Jerusalem.

a name was written
Was written is γεγραμμένον [gegrammenon] , perfect tense participle, having been written. The name was written in the past and she remains so labeled.

MYSTERY
Mystery is μυστήριον [mystērion] , indicating something unknowable by man unless and until revealed by God. The antidote for mystery is not investigation or discovery, but revelation. See commentary on Revelation 1:20. The mystery relates to her identity and relationship to the seven-headed beast with ten horns (Rev. 17:7+). Fortunately, the angel provides additional information to reveal aspects of her mystery (Rev. 17:7+). It is unfortunate that “MYSTERY” appears in capitals as if it is a part of her title:

We believe that the English translators have misled many by printing (on their own authority) the word ‘mystery’ in large capital letters, thus making it appear that this was a part of ‘the woman’s name.’ This we are assured is a mistake. That the ‘mystery’ is connected with the ‘Woman’ herself and not with her ‘name’ is clear from Rev. 17:7+, where the angel says unto John, ‘I will tell thee the mystery of the Woman, and of the Beast which carrieth her.’16

A better translation would be, “And on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH’ ” (Rev. 17:5+, NASB95). Her true title lacks the term “MYSTERY,” but is merely “Babylon the great” (Rev. 18:2+). The incorporation of “MYSTERY” as her title has led many to identify two Babylons, one commercial and one spiritual. Yet aspects of the Harlot and the city Babylon are virtually identical—both involving a merger of both spiritual and commercial. See Mystery Babylon?

BABYLON
The woman is not said merely to be Babylon, but there is a mystery connected with her identification as such. She is not Mystery Babylon, but Babylon. However, aspects of who she is are unknown until God reveals them. Here, John is shown that the Harlot is to be identified with Babylon. See Babylon and the Harlot.

mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth
She corrupted the earth with her fornication (Rev. 19:2+) and was the source of harlots and abominations, not one of the recipients. Her daughters were polluted by her: “But come here, you sons of the sorceress, you offspring of the adulterer and the harlot!” (Isa. 57:3). Once again we see the impossibility of taking the Harlot to be Jerusalem. Speaking of the harlotry of Jerusalem, Ezekiel relates:

Thus says the LORD God to Jerusalem, . . . “Indeed everyone who quotes proverbs will use this proverb against you: ‘Like mother, like daughter!’ You are your mother’s daughter, loathing husband and children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children; your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.’ ” (Eze. 16:3, 44-45) [emphasis added]

Jerusalem is said to have the Hittites as a mother and the Amorites as a father. She herself is a daughter. Since Israel did not even exist as a nation until the time of Jacob, it is obvious that she cannot be the mother or originator of harlots and of the abominations of the earth. This dubious distinction must go to an older empire: Babylon in the sense of its origination under Nimrod as Babel (Gen. 10:8-10). See Babylon is Jerusalem? See Babylon of Old.

Neither does the ever-popular interpretation of the Harlot as Roman Catholicism meet the description of this verse:

The name was the name, not of a woman, but of a city, “that great city,” even Babylon. But it signified not merely the material city as such, but the vast system of idolatry connected with it. That is why the explanation of the secret sign follows “the mother of the harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” Not merely of Rome, or even Babylon (as a city), but “of the earth” : i.e., the mother, or fountain head of all the systems of idolatry which have since flooded “the earth” from that one great source; and of which Romanism is only a part. This is the secret or “mystery of iniquity” referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:7. Babylon was the fountain-head of all idolatry.17

To say that [the Harlot] is either Rome or the Roman Catholic Church is to grossly underestimate the agelong global impact of this great mystery. Babylon the Great. Babylon is the mother of all harlots and abominations of the earth. From her have come ancient paganism, Chinese Confucianism, Asian Buddhism, Indian Hinduism, Shamanism, Taoism, Shintoism, animism, astrology, witchcraft, spiritism, Sikhism, and all the world’s vast complex of “gods many, and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5). Of more direct concern in twentieth-century America is the direct descent of modern scientism and evolutionary humanism from this ancient mother of harlots. As noted before, modern evolutionism is in no way scientific, being contradicted by all true facts of science, but is merely a revival of ancient Greek (and ultimately Babylonian) evolutionary pantheism.18

See The Great Harlot

3.17.6 - Revelation 17:6 Open Bible at Rev. 17:6 Listen to Rev. 17:6

drunk
Drunk is μεθύουσαν [methyousan] , present tense participle. The woman was drunk while John saw her.

with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus
When Babylon is destroyed, the holy apostles and prophets are said to have been avenged (Rev. 18:19+). Thus, the Harlot is not some other entity, but is to be identified with the city. See Mystery Babylon?. This also explains the close association between the Harlot and the Beast upon which she rides. For the Beast is given authority to overcome the saints (Rev. 13:7+), and his image commands that those who refuse to worship the image be put to death (Rev. 13:15+). Since the woman sits upon peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues, all the world at the time of the end participates in the destruction of the godly. The earth dwellers are given blood to drink because “they have shed the blood of saints and prophets” (Rev. 16:6+).

Throughout the book of Revelation, John is shown numerous martyrs of Jesus. Antipas in the church of Pergamos was a faithful martyr (Rev. 2:13+). At the opening of the fifth seal, John sees “the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Rev. 6:9+). God’s two witnesses, empowered to prophesy, are martyred as a witness (Rev. 11:7+). John sees those who had overcome the Beast and his mark—probably martyrs—standing on the sea of glass (Rev. 15:2+ cf. Rev. 12:11+). At the initiation of the Millennial Kingdom, John sees “the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands” (Rev. 20:4+). Her blood-guiltiness extends throughout history, for “in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth” (Rev. 18:24+). See #20 - Saints.

Being drunk with blood would be particularly offensive to John who, being a Jew, had a keen appreciation for the prohibition against eating blood (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 3:17; 7:26; 17:10-13).19

when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement
At the end of Daniel’s vision of the four beasts and the Son of Man, his thoughts greatly troubled him (Dan. 7:28+). Subsequent to Daniel’s vision concerning Antiochus Epiphanes IV, and aspects of the time of the end, he fainted and was sick for days and continued to be astonished by the vision (Dan. 8:27+). John is similarly affected by the magnitude of what he is being shown: her support by the hideous beast, her great wealth, her extreme sinfulness, and her scope both historically and geographically.

3.17.7 - Revelation 17:7 Open Bible at Rev. 17:7 Listen to Rev. 17:7

I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast
The angel provides revelation concerning aspects of the woman (Rev. 17:15-18+) and the beast with the seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 17:8-14+, 16-17+). The remainder of the chapter is devoted to these two topics.

carries her
Carries is βαστάζοντος [bastazontos] , indicating that the beast supports or bears her, used “of animals used for riding,”20 but also used figuratively: “Of anything burdensome or difficult bear, endure, put up with (Mat. 20:12).”21 Although the Beast carries her for a season, ultimately he and his ten kings turn upon her and consume her (Rev. 17:16-17+) bringing about God’s judgment upon her. Perhaps her ride upon the Beast is eventually seen to be too burdensome so he throws her off. She may ultimately prove to be a liability and a competition in his eventual bid for all attention and worship (2Th. 2:4).

seven heads and ten horns
See commentary on Revelation 17:3.

3.17.8 - Revelation 17:8 Open Bible at Rev. 17:8 Listen to Rev. 17:8

The beast that you saw
In the explanation which follows, it is important to remember that the Beast is both a king and a kingdom. This characteristic is evident from a study of various passages concerning the Beast, for example: “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn [an individual] was speaking; I watched till the beast [the fourth terrible kingdom] was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame” (Dan. 7:11+). See commentary on Revelation 13:1. See The Beast. See #16 - Beast.

was and is not and will ascend . . . go to perdition
This is an important verse because it gives us information concerning the four phases of the life of The Beast who eventually rules the seventh head at the time of the end:
  1. was - His original political appearance and rise (Dan. 9:26-27+).
  2. is not - His death by a mortal wound (Zec. 11:17?; Rev. 13:3+).
  3. will ascend - His miraculous recovery (Rev. 13:3+).
  4. to perdition - His destruction at the hands of Christ at the Second Coming (Dan. 7:11+; 11:45+; Rev. 19:19+).

At his ascent, he overthrows the two witnesses (Rev. 11:7+). His victory over them and his miraculous restoration result in his global worship (Rev. 13:3-4+). This occurs at the midpoint of The 70th Week of Daniel. See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel. See The Timing of His Ascent.

out of the bottomless pit
Bottomless pit is ἀβύσσου [abyssou] , the abyss, a compartment deep within the earth which serves as a holding place for demons. See commentary on Revelation 9:1. His ascent from the abyss is yet future to the time of John’s vision and denotes his revival from the dead and possibly his demonic possession (cf. Luke 22:3; John 13:27). See Supernatural Origin? When the Beast ascends out of the abyss, he will overcome the two witnesses (Rev. 11:7+). The destruction of these two powerful prophets together with his return from the dead will seal his worship by the earth dwellers. This probably occurs at the midpoint of The 70th Week of Daniel when he proclaims himself as God. See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel.

Roughly speaking the mortal stage [before his deadly wound] would fill the first half of the last of “the seventy weeks” (i.e., the first 3 1/2 years of Dan. 9:27+); and the superhuman stage [after his revival and ascent from the abyss] would occupy the last half. But there is nothing to show us what length of time will run between his rise and his assassination. Neither can we say exactly how long the time will be between his death-stroke and his reappearance.22

See commentary on Revelation 11:7. See commentary on Revelation 13:3.

go to perdition
Perdition is ἀπώλειαν [apōleian] : destruction . . . annihilation . . . ruin . . . of eternal destruction as punishment for the wicked (Mat. 7:13).”23 The Antichrist is said to be “the son of perdition (ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας [ho huios tēs apōleias] )” (2Th. 2:3). His title reflects his final destiny: “into destruction (εἰς ἀπώλειαν [eis apōleian] )” (Rev. 17:11+). His destruction follows upon his origin, death, and revival. See commentary on Revelation 17:11. In Daniel’s vision of the four beasts and the little horn, the fourth beast “was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame” (Dan. 7:11+). “He shall come to his end, and no one will help him” (Dan. 11:45+b). He is destroyed (cast into the Lake of Fire, but not annihilated) at the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. 19:20+). Because his destiny is destruction, he is “the son of perdition” (2Th. 2:3).

Both the Beast and the False Prophet are denied judgment at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15+). Unlike other nonbelievers who die (or are killed, Rev. 19:21+) and subsequently resurrected to stand judgment before being cast into the Lake of Fire, these two are “cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20+). Their destruction is unique in that they are the first inhabitants of the Lake of Fire—spending one thousand years there before being joined by Satan (Rev. 20:10+). Thus, the “antitrinity” are the first to suffer in hell. The rest of the ungodly dead are in Hades until their time of judgment (Rev. 20:12-13+).

those who dwell on the earth will marvel
Will marvel is θαυμασθήσονται [thaumasthēsontai] , future passive indicative, they will be marvelling. This is the same Beast which John saw earlier which “all the world marveled and followed” (Rev. 13:4+). There, he was shown the future rise of Antichrist. Now, the angel shows him his place of origin (from the abyss) and his relationship to the woman. Those who marvel are the Earth Dwellers. They marvel over his recovery from his deadly wound (Rev. 13:3+, 14+; Rev. 17:11+). See commentary on Revelation 13:3.

whose names are not written in the Book of Life
names are not written is οῦ γέγραπται τὸ ὄνομα [ou gegraptai to onoma] , perfect tense passive verb, not it has been written, the name. The text is not saying that their names are not presently found in the book, as if they were at one time but were later blotted out. In the foreknowledge and election of God, their names were never recorded there (Rev. 13:8+). Since their names have not been written in the Book of Life, they are guaranteed eventually to be cast into the Lake of Fire because “anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12+). Only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life find entry into the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27+). See Book of Life. See Beast Worshipers are Unique.

Previously, John wrote that their names had not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb (Rev. 13:8+). Here, the same book is referred to as simply the Book of Life. See commentary on Revelation 13:8.

from the foundation of the world
From the foundation (καταβολῆς [katabolēs] , throwing down) of the world, their names have been absent from the book. In the foreknowledge and election of God, it was known that the Beast worshipers would reject God. Even before their death, they are irredeemable once they worship the Beast and take his mark (Rev. 14:9-11+). See From the Foundation of the World.

when they see
βλεπόντων [blepontōn] , present tense participle, while presently seeing. They will marvel at the time they see the beast. His appearance results in their response. This speaks of his deadly wound which was healed which causes the earth dwellers to worship him (Rev. 13:3+). It is the miraculous death and recovery of a person witnessed by people who have seen both the wounding and the healing, not the ages-long restoration of a historical kingdom or country such as Rome. The wounding and miraculous recovery of the Beast is a part of the deceptive testing during this unique hour of testing which is to come upon the world (Rev. 3:10+). Their response is to believe the deception (2Th. 2:11-12) which results in their worship of the beast (Rev. 13:4+) and in their taking his mark which seals their doom (Rev. 14:9-11+). The deception is not the miraculous revival, but the falsehood which it points to. See commentary on Revelation 13:13.

that was, and is not, and yet is
Τι ἦν, και οὐκ ἔστι, καὶπερ ἔστιν [Ti ēn, kai ouk esti, kaiper estin] , who he was, and not he is, and although he is (TR text). Ὅτι ἦν καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν καὶ παρέσται [Hoti ēn kai ouk estin kai parestai] , that he was and not he is, and he will be present (MT, NU text).

This phrase describes the initial appearance, death, and subsequent ascent of the Beast from the abyss (Rev. 11:7+). The point of reference for the phrases was, is not, and yet is, is the period in which the earth dwellers live—all of which is yet future to John. Thus, the fact that the Beast was should not be taken as an indication that the Beast had already walked the planet and perished prior to John’s day.

The phrase found here alludes to the similar phrase which describes Jesus’ eternal nature and true victory over death: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:18+). In his return from the dead, the Beast, as Antichrist, mimics the true Christ who forever achieved victory over death. See Master Imitator. See Supernatural Origin? See commentary on Revelation 1:18. Some believe John’s statement reflects his inclusion of a myth which developed some time after the death of the Roman emperor Nero that he would return from the dead. This is extremely unlikely. See Revival Myth.

3.17.9 - Revelation 17:9 Open Bible at Rev. 17:9 Listen to Rev. 17:9

Here is the mind which has wisdom
As was the case for calculating the number of the Beast (Rev. 13:18+), wisdom is required to understand the next portion of the mystery revealed by the angel.

the seven heads are seven mountains
As Woods observes, if the seven mountains are to be taken as the seven hills of Rome, then it is difficult to see why special wisdom is said to be required in order to understand the revelation provided by the angel:

It seems odd that the seven hills should be equated with the well-known topography of Rome because Revelation 17+: indicates that the identification of the hills calls for special wisdom. Why should such a well-known geographical locale to John’s first century audience require special theological and symbolic insight for proper identification?24

As we shall see in the next verse, the seven heads are seven kings. Here they are said to be seven mountains. The relationship between kings and mountains is well-established in Scripture—mountains represent the power of kingdoms and their individual kings (Jer. 51:25; Dan. 2:35+; Zec. 4:7). These seven mountains, together with the eighth (Rev. 17:11+), will eventually be destroyed by the stone which is Christ, the Messianic King (Rev. 20:4+). His kingdom is destined to become “a great mountain” and fill the whole earth (Dan. 2:35+).

This symbolic understanding of the seven mountains seems buttressed by the fact that the harlot sits on or beside seven mountains (Rev. 17:9+) just as she sits on or beside the many waters (Rev. 17:1+). Since the waters are symbolic of peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (Rev. 17:15+), consistency seems to dictate that the seven mountains are symbolic as well.25

See #4 - Seven Heads/Kings.

on which the woman sits
That which she sits upon supports her and she controls it. It is difficult to know which side of this symbiotic relationship is more important, although Scripture seems to indicate her corrupting influence is what God especially opposes. Some interpret her sitting as denoting her location. That she is located upon seven hills which are then said to be the hills of Rome. But this is not the predominant meaning of her sitting which speaks more of support and control than locale:

The reference to the seven mountains (Rev. 17:9+) which are seven heads (Rev. 17:8+) actually belong to the beast (Rev. 17:3+, 7+; 13:1+) and not the woman named Babylon. Thus, these seven heads or mountains really have nothing to do with the entity Babylon at all. It is possible to argue that the woman is still associated with the seven hills because she is sitting on them. However, it is better to see this as referring to the woman’s control rather than her location. The other references to the woman sitting also refer to her control. Revelation 17:1+ portrays the woman sitting on many waters. Revelation 17:15+ explains that the waters represent peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. Thus, Revelation 17:1+, 15+ show the harlot’s control over the entire world. Furthermore, Revelation 17:3+ depicts the woman as sitting on the beast, which again indicates control rather than location. Thus, if the harlot’s sitting indicates control rather than location twice in Revelation 17+, then consistency would seem to dictate that the harlot sitting on the seven hills in Revelation 17:9+ would also indicate control rather than location.26

See Babylon is Rome?.

3.17.10 - Revelation 17:10 Open Bible at Rev. 17:10 Listen to Rev. 17:10

There are also seven kings
This phrase should read “And they are seven kings” (NASB95). The KJV and NKJV translations are misleading here. The KJV begins the verse with, “And there are seven kings.” The NKJV says, “There are also seven kings.” All the Greek texts, although differing in word order, include the following words, Καὶ βασιλεῖς εἰσιν ἑπτά [Kai basileis eisin hepta] , and kings they are seven.27 The words “there” and “also” in the KJV and NKJV translations are questionable. The first is inaccurate: εἰσιν [eisin] is 3rd-person plural of ειμι [eimi] , I am, which should be rendered, they are. The second: also, is not the best rendering of καὶ [kai] here in that it implies the seven kings are an additional subject. These translations give the incorrect impression that the kings are different from the heads and mountains upon which the woman sits. When describing the ten horns a few verses later, a similar phrase occurs: δέκα βασιλεῖς εἰσιν [deka basileis eisin] : “ten kings they are” (Rev. 17:12+). There, the KJV and NKJV translate the phrase correctly, without substituting there for they as is done here.

We need not conjecture upon the significance of the seven mountains for the angel has pierced this aspect of the mystery for us:

This at once disposes of the popular interpretation which regards these seven mountains as referring to the seven hills on which the city of Rome was built. The Holy Spirit expressly tells us that the seven mountains are (represent) seven kings.28

The punctuation of the AV. in this verse is very faulty. Verse 9 should end with the word “wisdom,” and the remainder of the verse should form part of the tenth verse. The explanation of the angel would not then have been cut in two, and interpreted separately as is commonly the case; and the “seven mountains” would not have been treated independently of the clause which goes on to further explain what they signify. The “seven mountains” are, according to this, “seven kings.” It does not say that “there are seven kings” over and above, and beside the “seven mountains;” but that the “seven mountains are (i.e., represent) seven kings.” . . . These mountains, then, are no mere heaps of earth or rocks, but “kings.” . . . For interpreters to take these literally as “mountains,” in the midst of a context which the same interpreters take to be symbolic; and in the face of the interpretation actually given by the angel that “they are seven kings,” is to play fast and loose with the word of prophecy.29

Rather than identifying these seven kings (which are seven heads) with seven historic kingdoms, some aspire to find fulfillment of John’s vision in the events of first-century Rome. Most frequently, preterist interpreters attempt to pick kings in such a way that Nero can be said to fulfill the predictions concerning The Beast. In doing so, they overlook inconsistencies in counting kings:

To be sure there have been many attempts to fit the date of Revelation . . . into the emperor lists of the first century. . . . But immediately there are admitted problems. Where do we begin—with Julius Caesar or Caesar Augustus? Are we to exclude Galba, Otho, and Vitellius who had short, rival reigns? If so, how can they be excluded except on a completely arbitrary basis? A careful examination of the historic materials yields no satisfactory solution. If Revelation were written under Nero, there would be too few emperors; if under Domitian, too many. The original readers would have had no more information on these emperor successions than we do, and possibly even less. How many Americans can immediately name the last seven presidents? Furthermore, how could the eighth emperor who is identified as the beast also be one of the seven (Rev. 17:11+)?30

For a more in-depth discussion of the problems of correlating these kings with early Rome, see Beale.31

five have fallen
Fallen is ἔπεσαν [epesan] , “The word is always used of violent death, when speaking of individuals, or violence when referring to kingdoms. Jdg. 3:25. 5:27. 2S. 1:19, 25. Isa. 21:9. Jer. 50:15. 51:8. Eze. 29:5. 30:6.”32 The angel is no longer discussing the Beast (who was, is, and is to come) and is now describing the seven heads which are seven mountains and seven kings. Most futurist interpreters take these to be five world empires of greatest significance to Israel in the plan of God. These are five which fell before the time of John. See #5 - Five Fallen Kings.

Johnson complains of the seemingly arbitrary nature of the futurist identification of kingdoms:

Seiss (followed recently by Ladd and Walvoord) has suggested an interpretation that takes the five-one-one to refer to successive world kingdoms that have oppressed the people of God: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece (five fallen), Rome (one is), and a future world kingdom. While this solves some of the emperor succession problems and fits nicely, it too must admit arbitrary omissions, such as the devastating persecution of the people of God under the Seleucids of Syria, especially Antiochus IV, Epiphanes.33

However, it is not the futurist who is arbitrarily neglecting the Seleucids, but the night vision of Daniel (Dan. 7+) which guides the identification of these kingdoms. Daniel’s four beasts are widely held to be Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Since the initial stage of the fourth beast, Rome, is already underway (“one is,” see below) at the time of John, this provides identification of the previous three: Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. It is apparent that the Seleucid empire—an outgrowth of the disintegration of the Greek empire under Alexander, is largely subsumed into the third leopard beast. Although it is probably recognized in the four heads on the leopard beast (Dan. 7:6+) and the four notable horns on the he-goat in another of Daniel’s visions (Dan. 8:8+), it is not given the same prominence as the other kingdoms. This is not an arbitrary decision by the futurist, but the plan and purpose of the Holy Spirit Who provided Daniel with the visions. Since only three of Daniel’s four kingdoms have fallen by the time of John, another two kingdoms must be found to form a total of five. The only arbitrariness attributable to the futurist is in the identification of these previous two kingdoms: whether they be Egypt and Assyria or extend further back to include Babel.

It is our view that the historic scope of the seven-headed beast ridden by the Harlot and her identification with Babylon points in the direction of Babel as the first kingdom. But there is still the problem of knowing whether to include Egypt or Assyria as the second. If the issue is to be decided by volume of passages pertaining to either kingdom, it would seem that Egypt would garner the most votes resulting in the five fallen kingdoms of: Babel, Egypt, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece.

one is
Although five kings (mountains representing their kingdoms) have fallen by the time of John, one is currently reigning. This would seem most naturally to be Rome—the initial stage of Daniel’s terrible beast. Preterists who desire to find fulfillment in Nero attempt to make him the king which “is,” but they can only do so by ignoring inconsistencies in the line up of “kings”:

[Gentry’s] conclusion that Nero is the sixth or “the one [who] is” also faces serious obstacles. The greatest obstacle is his need to begin counting “kings” with Julius Caesar. He tries to defend this by citing several ancient sources, but the fact is that Rome was a Republic, ruled by the First Triumvirate, in the days of Julius Caesar and became a Principate under Augustus and the emperors that followed him. Neither does Gentry attempt to explain the thirteen-year gap between Julius Caesar’s death and the beginning of Augustus’ reign. They were not consecutive rulers as he makes them out to be.34

and the other has not yet come
This is the kingdom which follows upon Rome in John’s day. Here we enter upon a conundrum with at least two aspects:
  1. Daniel’s Night Vision - The fall of Rome after John’s day did not fulfill the prediction of the rapid and dramatic destruction of the terrible beast which Daniel saw in his night vision (Dan. 7+). Nor did its fall usher in the Messianic Kingdom as the vision predicted. Therefore, the fall of Rome after John’s time does not fulfill aspects of Daniel’s night vision which remain yet future.
  2. Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream - The fall of Rome after John’s day is depicted by the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream concerning the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron” (Dan. 2:41+) which speak of a period of division and lack of cohesiveness prior to the Messianic Kingdom (Dan. 2:44+). The break up of Rome and subsequent history of the westernized nations has more similarity to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

This forces the interpreter to the conclusion that the Roman empire at the time of John constituted the first phase of a two-phase participation in the prophecies of the time of the end. This same two-stage division can be seen in the key passage concerning the 70 weeks of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27+). In that passage, Messiah is cut off after the 69th week and prior to the 70th week. He is cut off when Rome is in power. It is also said that after the 69th week and before the 70th week “the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Dan. 9:26+). This we know to be fulfilled in the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple by Rome. Thus, Gabriel leaves hanging a yet future “prince” associated with Rome who follows upon the destruction of the city in A.D. 70—and who, by means of a covenant, initiates the final week (Dan. 9:27+).

Scripture records two phases to Roman participation in the prophecies concerning the end. In its first phase, historic Rome existed in the era of the crucifixion, the destruction of the Temple, and John’s writing from Patmos. But now the angel tells John of its second, future phase which “has not yet come.” This is the phase represented by the ten horns of Daniel’s night vision (Dan. 7:7+, 20+) and the ten toes of the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:42+). See Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream and Daniel’s Vision. See #12 - Terrible Beast.

and when he comes, he must continue a short time
Grammatically, “he” refers to the seventh head-mountain-king which represents the seventh kingdom. The reign of the last kingdom is said to be relatively short. A few verses later, we are told that the ten horns, all on the last head , “receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast” (Rev. 17:12+ cf. Dan. 7:24+). So the primary reference is to the duration of the last kingdom prior to the rise of the beast who’s rise eventually eclipses the seventh kingdom.

The seventh kingdom is connected with the “beast that was” who is counted as an eighth king, but also said to be “of the seven”—he is the historic culmination of all the previous heads and his political origin is out of the seventh kingdom. We also know that his reign will be short-lived.

The angel tells John that the Beast to arise in the future (Rev. 13:1+) will have a relatively short (and terrible) reign. He is prominent for only a very short time on the stage of world history—for at least seven years. He becomes prominent sometime before The 70th Week of Daniel so that he is a key participant in the covenant with Israel which initiates the final seven years. Thereafter, he only rules for another seven years during which only the last half he prevails over the saints (Rev. 13:5+). In historical terms, this is indeed a “short time.” Unlike the initial phase of Rome, when his reign ends it will usher in the Messianic Kingdom on earth. See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel.

3.17.11 - Revelation 17:11 Open Bible at Rev. 17:11 Listen to Rev. 17:11

The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth
Now the angel is speaking of the individual who will be the ruler of the kingdom yet to come. This phrase refers to the period of the reign of the Beast following his revival from his deadly wound. If his revival occurs near the midpoint of The 70th Week of Daniel, then this would refer to the last half of the week, the three and one-half years during which he is given authority: “he was given authority to continue for forty-two months” (Rev. 13:5+). This period is one of great turmoil since the Beast receives his power, throne, and authority from the dragon (Rev. 13:2+) and the dragon has great wrath “because he knows that he has a short time” (Rev. 12:12+). See Prophetic Year. See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel. See commentary on Revelation 17:8.

He is an eighth kingdom in the sense that the seventh kingdom originally arrives as a global empire which shall “devour the whole earth.” Out of this seventh kingdom ten horns . . . shall arise” (Dan. 7:23-24+). The Beast himself “shall rise after them” (Dan. 7:25+). After his revival, the ten horns give their authority to the Beast (Rev. 17:12-13+) and he reigns supreme and uncontested (Rev. 13:3+). In the final form of Gentile dominion, the self-rule of the Beast, he is an eighth king, but only hinted at as an eighth head here.35

If we look upon the Roman dictator as being the seventh, he becomes the eighth, the Antichrist at the time of the Satanic incarnation, and thereby becomes an eighth, who is thus out of the seven, since Satan is the cause of all of the others.36

In his mortal stage he is the seventh head; but in his superhuman stage he is the eighth king.37

See #16 - Beast.

he is of the seven
He is “of the seven” in that his origin, both as a head and a horn (see below) is from among the other heads and horns: “He is an eighth contemporary king ruling over the other seven kings who have submitted to his authority. Yet he is of the seven, for he is the seventh head of the chronological ruling governments. The term “seven” refers to the heads, while the term ‘eight’ refers to the horns.”38 “And though he is ‘an eighth’ king, there are not really eight, but only seven, for the seventh and the eighth are the same personage; therefore, it is said that the eighth is ‘of the seven.’ ”39 See #13 - Seventh King.

is going to perdition
See commentary on Revelation 17:8.

3.17.12 - Revelation 17:12 Open Bible at Rev. 17:12 Listen to Rev. 17:12

the ten horns which you saw are ten kings
These are the same ten horns which Daniel saw in his night vision (Dan. 7:7-8+, 20+, 24+). The ten horns correspond to the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Dan. 2:40-43+). See Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream and Daniel’s Vision.

who have received no kingdom as yet
These ten horns are all on the seventh head which corresponds to the final historic stage of the terrible beast which Daniel saw (Dan. 7:7+, 19-20+). Like the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, which extend forth from the feet during the final kingdom, these horns from the seventh head do not arise until the time of the end. An angel gave Daniel the same interpretation: “The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this [terrible beastly] kingdom” (Dan. 7:24+).

they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast
The association between the ten horns and the seventh head is made explicit. Unlike the kingdom of God which cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28), the ten kings will only have authority for a short period of time, and then only to direct it toward the Beast when he rises in ultimate prominence. The Beast rises up as an eleventh horn (Dan. 7:20+) and eventually overthrows three horns leaving eight horns, seven plus himself.

The phrase one hour indicates a historically short period of time. The Tribulation period (lasting seven years) is called “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Rev. 3:10+). When Babylon is destroyed, her judgment comes in “one hour” (Rev. 18:10+, 17+, 19+). The phrase differs in meaning from “the hour” which indicates the time when a pending action has finally come (Rev. 14:7+, 15+).

3.17.13 - Revelation 17:13 Open Bible at Rev. 17:13 Listen to Rev. 17:13

These are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast.
In the time of the end, amidst much turmoil and political upheaval, such unity of thought and purpose would be unexpected if it were not for their ultimate control by God. “For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled” (Rev. 17:17+). They give their power and authority to the beast so that he can become “all in all,” being the sole focus both in political and religious realms. Because the Beast accepted the offer from Satan which Jesus refused (Luke 4:6), he is given ultimate authority above all else on earth—even claiming to be God (2Th. 2:4). For this to occur requires that all other authorities submit to his rule. Although all ten give their power and authority to the beast, for some unspecified reason the Beast eventually destroys three of the ten horns (Dan. 7:20+).

3.17.14 - Revelation 17:14 Open Bible at Rev. 17:14 Listen to Rev. 17:14

these will make war
Πολεμήσουσιν [Polemēsousin] , which indicates a protracted engagement rather than a single battle. The same word is translated, somewhat misleadingly, as “battle” in Revelation 16:14+. See commentary on Revelation 16:14.

with the Lamb
This is not speaking of the ages-long opposition between the spiritual forces of darkness and the spiritual forces of the Lamb (although such ongoing opposition is a fact of Scripture), but speaks of the final physical conflict of the armies of the world as they attempt to thwart the installation of Messiah upon the throne of David in His Millennial Reign. The Beast, his kings, and kings from all around the word (Rev. 16:14+) will eventually gather to war against God at the Campaign of Armageddon. See commentary on Revelation 16:16. See commentary on Revelation 19:20. The Lamb which they fight with is Jesus Christ, the “Lamb as though it had been slain” which took the scroll from the right hand of God before initiating the first seven judgments by opening the seven seals (Rev. 5:6-7+). They war against the Lamb in a doomed attempt to forestall His taking back that which is rightfully His, as documented by the scroll. See commentary on Revelation 5:1.

In the previous chapter, the war was described with reference to God the Father: “The battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Here, we are told they will make war with the Lamb. Later, the same conflict will be described as a gathering to “make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (Rev. 19:19+). The text provides another indication of the deity of Christ and the essential identity of the Lamb and the Father.

the Lamb will overcome them
He shall overcome is νικήσει [nikēsei] : the Lamb is The Overcomer. From the perspective of earth, the Beast is the overcomer (Rev. 6:2+). But he only overcomes while he is temporarily given authority to do so (Rev. 13:7+). Ultimately, it is the Lamb Who is the true overcomer (John 16:33; 1Jn. 4:4; Rev. 3:21+). See Who is the Overcomer?

In a vision of Daniel which many believe is not entirely fulfilled in the events of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, Daniel sees a fierce king who “shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means” (Dan. 8:25+). If the Prince of princes refers to the Lamb, then Daniel’s vision prophesied this same conflict.40

The kings participate in the ultimate fulfillment of Psalm 2: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed [Messiah = Christ], saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ ” (Ps. 2:2-3).

At that time, the long wait of the Son at the right hand of the Father will come to an end:

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. The LORD has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries. He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; therefore He shall lift up the head. (Ps. 110:1-7) [emphasis added]

Isaiah spoke of this time:

Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it waste . . . The earth mourns and fades away . . . Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are left. . . . And the foundations of the earth are shaken. . . . The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; . . . It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished. (Isa. 24:1-23)

The context is The Day of the Lord where conditions are so extreme that relatively few are left alive. The kings who rebelled (Psalm 2) will be gathered together and shut up in the prison and then punished—possibly a reference to their entry into Hades after being killed by the Lamb (Rev. 19:21+) followed by their ultimate punishment upon being subsequently cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15+).

for He is Lord of lords and King of kings
He will overcome them because He is Lord over all other lords. He is “the ruler over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5+), even though at present most kings do not recognize His rule. At His Second Coming, His legal status as King of kings and the factual reality of earthly rule will be united for His kingdom will then be on earth where He physically rules over lords.

The Lamb is given a title which is uniquely that of the Father in the OT. “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe” (Deu. 10:7). Ascribing the title Lord of lords to the Lamb is no small matter . . . unless He is God! And indeed He is. Paul describes Jesus in similar divine terms: “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1Ti. 6:15-16). See commentary on Revelation 1:18.

those who are with Him
Although all the saints are with Christ in the sense of their spiritual unity and membership in His Kingdom, the reference here is primarily to those who are with Him at the time of His Second Coming. In the same way that the angels accompanied the Father in His descent upon Mount Sinai (Deu. 33:2), so too shall Jesus bring “the armies in heaven” with Him (Rev. 19:14+, 19+):

Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men [the dreamers who reject authority] also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all.” (Jude. 1:14-15a) [emphasis added]

Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’ ” Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD. Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow-For their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:9-14) [emphasis added]

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, And all the saints with You. (Zec. 14:4-5) [emphasis added]

The saints (ἁγίαις [hagiais] ) which attend Jesus’ return are “holy ones.” They are set apart for the service of God. This term is used of both the faithful (e.g., Ps. 16:3; 34:9 ; Acts 9:13) and angels (e.g., Dan. 8:13+). We know from other passages that angels will come with Him:

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to His works. (Mat. 16:27) [emphasis added]

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. (Mat. 25:31) [emphasis added]

Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2Th. 1:6-8) [emphasis added]

are called, chosen, and faithful
Called is κλητοὶ [klētoi] , chosen is ἐκλεκτοὶ [eklektoi] . The same terms are used when Jesus says, “Many are called (κλητοί [klētoi] ), but few are chosen (ἐκλεκτοί [eklektoi] )” (Mat. 20:16; 22:14). Peter uses the same terms when writing to predominantly Jewish believers. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” [emphasis added] (1Pe. 2:9 cf. 1Pe. 1:1).

The angels which did not follow Satan in his rebellion (Rev. 12:4+) are also said to be “chosen”: “The elect angels” is τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν ἀγγελων [tōn eklektōn angelōn] . But being called speaks of a time prior to having come to the faith—something the elect angels do not experience for they have never been lost, but remained continually faithful. Calling is unique to those saints who at one time were not saints, that is, human beings rather than angels (Rom. 1:6; Rom. 8:28-30; 2Ti. 2:9).41 “These epithets called, chosen, and faithful, can only strictly apply to saints [not angels].”42 Those who are both called and chosen are “His own elect who cry out day and night to Him” (Luke 18:7). They did not choose Him, but He chose them (John 15:16). This speaks of human beings, not just angels, who will return with Christ at His Second Coming. They do not remain in heaven, but return to participate in the Millennial Kingdom which follows (Rev. 20:4-6+). They are said to be faithful because they are human beings, born among those who were fallen, but who then exercised faith to salvation.

At the time of Christ’s Second Coming, there are three categories of believers in heaven:
  1. Pre-Church Saints - Believers who died prior to the formation of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. Since the Spirit did not begin baptizing believers into the body of Christ until then (John 7:38-39; Acts 2; 1Cor. 12:13), they were never part of the body of Christ. At death, their souls and spirits entered paradise in Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22) until they ascended when paradise relocated to heaven following the crucifixion (Luke 23:43).
  2. Church Saints - Believers who lived after the giving of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (John 7:38-39; Acts 2) and were baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 12:13). The spirit and soul of those who died prior to the Rapture ascended to heaven at death (2Cor. 5:6; Php. 1:23) Being in Christ, they were physically resurrected (or translated if alive) at the Rapture of the Church prior to the Tribulation (John 14:1-3; 1Th. 4:13-18).
  3. Post-Church Saints - Believers who come to faith after the Rapture of the Church—the removal of the body of Christ. They died a natural death or were martyred (Rev. 2:10+, 13+; 12:11+; 15:2+) and their spirit and soul ascended to heaven at death (2Cor. 5:6; Php. 1:23; Rev. 7:14+).

Only one of these three categories of saints is resurrected prior to the Second Coming: the Church Saints—those who were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Church: the body of Christ in His absence. When Christ returns at the Second Coming, His spiritual body (the Church) returns with Him. During the Second Coming, Christ’s army will include both angels (Joel 3:11; Mat. 25:31) and Church saints (Col. 3:4).

Saints who have not yet been resurrected seem unlikely to participate in the Second Coming (Rev. 19:14+). They receive their resurrected bodies after the Second Coming, prior to the Millennial Kingdom (Dan. 12:2+; Rev. 20:4+). See commentary on Revelation 20:4.

3.17.15 - Revelation 17:15 Open Bible at Rev. 17:15 Listen to Rev. 17:15

The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits
Having described the mystery of the beast with the seven heads and ten horns, the angel now tells John the mystery of the woman (Rev. 17:7+). Earlier, the angel identified the woman as “the great harlot who sits on many waters” (Rev. 17:1+). See commentary on Revelation 17:1. See The Great Harlot. These same waters form the sea out of which the first Beast arose (Rev. 13:1+). See commentary on Revelation 13:1.

are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues
The common fourfold designation within the book of Revelation denoting a worldwide population (Rev. 7:9+). In some instances, tribes or kings appears for multitudes (Rev. 5:9+; 10:11+; 11:9+; 14:6+). See Four: the Entire World, the Earth. These are the peoples, nations, tongues, and kings about which John was told he must prophesy (Rev. 10:11+). He is now fulfilling that assignment.

Although the woman is said to be a city” (Rev. 17:18+), her influence—and possibly her support—is global in scope. Her influence was scattered worldwide with the introduction of languages in the judgment of Babel when all mankind dispersed from a central location having already imbibed of her corrupting wine (Gen. 11:9). We believe she spans both geography and history, for the Beast with seven heads is empowered by the dragon (Rev. 13:1+ cf. Rev. 12:3+) who is Satan and assumed dominion over the world as early as the Fall of Adam and Eve (Mat. 4:8; Luke 4:6; John 12:31; 14:30; 2Cor. 4:4; 1Jn. 5:19). If the seven heads represent seven world kingdoms of special significance in the plan of God, then the woman’s global influence extends from the earliest of those empires through the time of the Second Coming of Christ and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. See #4 - Seven Heads/Kings. See Babylon of Old.

3.17.16 - Revelation 17:16 Open Bible at Rev. 17:16 Listen to Rev. 17:16

the ten horns which you saw on the beast
The TR stands alone in having the ten horns on the beast. Both MT and NU texts say “the ten horns which you saw and (καὶ [kai] ) the beast.” [emphasis added]

hate the harlot
Many expositors seem to downplay or overlook the angel’s identification of The Great Harlot with the city of Babylon (Rev. 17:18+) and interpret her as denoting a separate ecclesiastical system. Thus, they see two separate destructions set forth in chapters 17 and 18. This destruction they relate to the Harlot, whereas the destruction in the next chapter they relate to the literal city: “These graphic words clearly portray the downfall of the apostate world church of the future.”43 We disagree with interpretations which divide the unity of the larger passage at the chapter boundary. The Harlot is said to be a city (Rev. 17:18+) and the city is said to be the Harlot (Rev. 18:21+-19:2+). She is the object of destruction both here and in the next chapter. See Mystery Babylon?

Because the city Babylon involves both spiritual and commercial aspects (both aspects are seen in Revelation 17+ and Revelation 18+), there is no reason to separate the Harlot from the city as an independent ecclesiastical system of the end. The motivation of the Beast to destroy the city could simply be to throw off her control (or the need to support her) which has become burdensome. Or, it could involve his belief that her idolatrous system ultimately provides an unwanted alternative to his own global worship (2Th. 2:4; Rev. 13:15+). However, it is important to recognize that Scripture does not give the specific reason why the kings hate her and destroy her. It could just as easily be commercial, political, or religious. Scripture doesn’t say. In any event, she experiences what Jeremiah described long before: regardless of her ornaments and attraction, her lovers eventually despise her and seek her life (Jer. 4:30).

Fruchtenbaum believes the Beast is the king of Babylon who is away at war and reacts with alarm to the news of her destruction (Jer. 50:43; 51:31-32).44 If the king of Babylon is the Beast and he reacts with alarm to the destruction of his capital, how could it be said that the Beast (along with the ten kings) hates the city and participates in its destruction? There are several possible solutions to this puzzle:45
  1. The TR text is correct and the Beast is not to be included among those who hate the Harlot and come against her. Perhaps the ten kings, although allied with the Beast for a season, eventually betray him and attack the seat of his throne during an opportune moment when he is distracted elsewhere.46
  2. The Beast may not be the king of Babylon at the time of its destruction. “He shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain” (Dan. 11:45+a). Perhaps he relocates his seat of authority to the Holy Land to be near his image in the Temple (Mat. 24:15; 2Th. 2:4; Rev. 13:14-15+) after which he and his kings turn against Babylon.
  3. The Harlot is a separate entity from the city of Babylon. The Harlot is destroyed by the Beast and his kings, but the city is destroyed by God directly. Although this view is held by many, it minimizes or overlooks passages which identify the Harlot as the city (e.g., Rev. 17:18+).47

See One or Two Babylons?

We believe a separate ecclesiastical system is neither called for nor explicitly warranted from a simple reading of both Revelation 17+ and 18+ which relates a single city with both commercial and spiritual aspects opposed to God. See An End-Time Religious System?

make her ... eat her ... burn her
The repetition of the pronoun “her” provides emphasis. Her destruction is determined, violent, and comprehensive.

make her desolate
Desolate is ἠρημωμένην [ērēmōmenēn] , used “of a kingdom be brought to ruin, become desolate, be desolated (Mat. 12:25).”48 At its destruction, Babylon comes “to nothing (ἠρημώθη [ērēmōthē] )” (Rev. 18:17+), for “in one hour she is made desolate ἠρημώθη [ērēmōthē] )” (Rev. 18:19+).

and naked
Originally clothed in expensive finery (Rev. 17:4+), she will be stripped of her commercial splendor: “Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.” (Rev. 18:16-17a+). In her destruction and the stripping of her riches, onlookers will recognize her nakedness (cf. Eze. 16:37-39; 23:29).

eat her flesh
They shall eat is φάγονται [phagontai] : “Figuratively . . . consume, destroy as if by rust or fire (Heb. 10:27).”49 Similar phrases describe the intended harm of an enemy (Ps. 27:1-3; Jer. 51:35; Mic. 3:1-3) or the conquest of a kingdom (Dan. 7:5+). The destruction of Babylon’s flesh will fulfill the desire of the inhabitants of Zion:“ ‘Let the violence done to me and my flesh be upon Babylon,’ the inhabitant of Zion will say” (Jer. 51:35).

burn her with fire
They shall burn her is κατακαύσουσιν [katakausousin] , to “Destroy by fire, burn (up), consume by fire,”50 used of “being burned at the stake as a martyr.”51 Used to describe the burning of the third of the earth with its trees and grass (Rev. 8:7+). This provides further evidence of the identity of the woman as Babylon (Rev. 17:18+), for what is said of the Harlot is said of Babylon. Babylon is to be “utterly burned with fire” (Rev. 18:8+). The smoke of her burning” is visible from a great distance (Rev. 18:17-18+).

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; the people will labor in vain, and the nations, because of the fire; and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:58)

Although Babylon fell to Persia in 539 B.C., it was never destroyed as predicted by Scripture. See The Destruction of Babylon.

3.17.17 - Revelation 17:17 Open Bible at Rev. 17:17 Listen to Rev. 17:17

For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose
God’s sovereign control of the affairs of history is a constant theme behind the events of the book of Revelation. Everything that transpires occurs by His sovereign permission. From the riding forth of the first horsemen who was given a crown, to rising of the Beast from the sea who is given authority to continue forty-two months (Rev. 13:5+) and who was previously restrained (2Th. 2:6-8), God is ultimately in full control. God turns the hearts of kings according to His purposes—whether they know Him or not (Deu. 2:30; Ezra 7:27; Ps. 105:25; Pr. 21:1; Isa. 10:5-7; 14:27; 66:4; Acts 4:28). God determined that Pharaoh would not heed Moses so that Egypt might be judged (Ex. 7:4). He named and brought forth Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem, although Cyrus did not know Him (Isa. 44:26-45:4; 46:11). It was God who gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom and power, although for much of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar did not know God (Dan. 2:37+).

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. (Isa. 46:9-11)

The tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility runs throughout Scripture and is impossible to escape. Emphasizing either one at the expense of the other results in a distortion of Scripture. Although it was God’s “determined purpose and foreknowledge” to deliver Jesus to the cross, those who crucified Him are fully responsible for their “lawless hands” (Acts 2:23-24 cf. Rom. 9:19-22; Jas. 1:13-17). “But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Luke 22:21-22) See commentary on Revelation 6:2. See commentary on Revelation 16:14.

until the words of God are fulfilled
Fulfilled is τελεσθήσονται [telesthēsontai] , they shall be completed. The word includes more than just the idea of fulfillment, but also bringing to an end, finishing, completing.52

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isa. 55:10-11)

His word is already settled in heaven (Ps. 119:89), but has yet to work out on the earth below. Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) because God stands ever ready to perform His word (Jer. 1:12).

The words of God in relation to the Beast, the ten horns, and the Harlot, will be fulfilled when the mystery of God would be finished” in the judgments associated with the sounding of the seventh trumpet (Rev. 10:7+). When the seven bowls of God’s wrath are completed, “It is done!” (Rev. 16:17+). The next several chapters provide additional detail concerning the fulfillment of God’s words which eventually result in the return of the King and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4+).

3.17.18 - Revelation 17:18 Open Bible at Rev. 17:18 Listen to Rev. 17:18

that great city
Although this phrase is also used of Jerusalem (Rev. 11:8+) and of the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10+), here it is to be identified with Babylon (Rev. 14:8+; 17:18+; 18:10+, 16+, 18+, 21+). This is evident from numerous close parallels between what is said of the Harlot in this chapter and the city Babylon in the next chapter. The primary piece of evidence that “the great city,” in this instance, is to be taken to describe Babylon is the earlier name which was seen written upon the Harlot and clearly associates her with Babylon (Rev. 17:5+).

Some argue for identifying the phrase “that great city” here with Jerusalem:

One of the stronger arguments used by Jerusalem proponents involves the identification of the phrase “the great city” as used in Revelation 17:18+. Jerusalem advocates contend that the only way to properly identify this city is to observe how the phrase “the great city” appears earlier in Revelation. There are only two references to “the great city” prior to Revelation 17:18+. These references include Revelation 11:8+ and Revelation 16:19+. Jerusalem advocates believe that both are unmistakable references to Jerusalem. Thus, Revelation 17:18+ must refer to Jerusalem as well.53

But such an identification ignores extensive and close ties between the woman and the city of Babylon. When one considers that chapter divisions are not part of the original inspired text and takes chapters 17 and 18 as one unified passage, the similarities between the woman and the city are compelling. Add to this the fact that Jerusalem is destined to be restored (Isa. 62) and serve as the capital of the Millennial Kingdom, whereas Babylon is never to be inhabited again, and the idea that the phrase “that great city” describes Jerusalem is untenable. See Babylon is Jerusalem?.

The Great Harlot is identified as the “great city” Babylon much as the Lamb’s wife is identified as the holy Jerusalem”:

The Chaste Woman of the Apocalypse is also indissolubly united to a city. In Rev. 21:9+ we read that one of the seven angels said to John, ‘Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s Wife.’ And immediately following we read, ‘And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.’54

reigns over the kings
Βασιλείαν ἐπὶ Βασιλέων [Basileian epi Basileōn] . She exercises royal power or rule over the kings. Again, we see the impossibility of assigning Jerusalem as the Harlot. How can Jerusalem, of all cities the most trampled and occupied, with the least political influence and material resources, be said to have historically reigned over the kings of the earth? Others suggest Rome as a candidate for “the great city.” Although we recognize the unmatched influence over kings of the earth that Rome has had in more recent history, she provides neither the necessary historic scope nor proper fulfillment for the many OT passages which speak literally to Babylon. As old as we may consider Rome to be, she is a relative upstart on the stage of Biblical history which spans back to the tower of Babel (Gen. 10, 11). Rome is merely one of Babylon’s most prominent daughters. See Babylon is Rome?.

Some may object that it is difficult to see how literal Babylon could be considered as reigning over the kings of the earth when she is so insignificant in our time. Yet, as we have seen, the woman is identified with a specific historical city of prominence in the past, and we believe will be of prominence again in the future. Between her initial rebellion as Babel and her final flowering of godless humanism as the rebuilt Babylon, the site of her former splendour lies largely forgotten. But her influence, as the mother of harlotry and abomination, is as active today upon the peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues as ever. Her humanism, idolatry, and fornication are alive and well, having been disseminated among the kingdoms of the earth. We believe a time is coming when “Wickedness!” will be carried back to the place of its original manifestation after the flood “to build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base” (Zec. 5:11). See Back to Shinar.

3.17.18.1 - Babylon and the New Jerusalem
Two of the women who play key roles in the Book of Revelation are cities: Babylon and the New Jerusalem. This is no accident as one is the city of man whereas the other is the city of God.

City of Man vs. City of God
BabylonNew Jerusalem
Built by Man (Gen. 10:10; 11:4; Rev. 17:18+; 18:23+).Built by God (Ps. 46:4; Ps. 87:3; Isa. 60:14; Gal. 4:26; Heb. 11:10; 12:22; 13:14; Rev. 3:12+; 21:2+, 10+).
Shown by Angel with Bowl (Rev. 17:1+).Shown by Angel with Bowl (Rev. 21:9+).
Seen from wilderness (Rev. 17:3+).Seen from high mountain (Rev. 21:10+).
Great City (Rev. 17:1+).Great City (Rev. 21:10+)55 .
Fornicator (Rev. 17:2+).Holy (Rev. 21:2+, 10+).
A harlot (Rev. 17:1+).A bride, wife (Rev. 21:2+, 9+).
Adorned with precious stones (Rev. 17:4+).Adorned with precious stones (Rev. 21:18-20+).
Adorned with pearls (Rev. 17:4+).Adorned with pearls (Rev. 21:21+).
Clothed with purple and scarlet (Rev. 17:4+; 18:16+).Clothed with light (Rev. 21:11+, 18+, 23-24+).
Believer’s blood in her (Rev. 17:6+; 18:24+; 19:2+).Believers in her (Rev. 3:12+; 14:2+; 21:24+, 27+).
Demons in her (Rev. 18:2+).Saints in her (Rev. 3:12+; 14:2+; 21:24+, 27+).
Foundation has names of blasphemy (Rev. 17:3+).Foundation has names of apostles (Rev. 21:14+).
Contains abominations (Rev. 17:4+; 18:2+).Contains no abomination (Rev. 21:27+).
King’s fornicate with (Rev. 17:2+; 18:3+).King’s honor (Rev. 18:3+).
Destroyed (Rev. 14:8+; 16:19+; 17:16+; 18:17+, 19+).Eternal (Heb. 13:14; Rev. 22:5+).


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Notes

1 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Jer. 51:13.

2 Britannica CD 99 Multimedia Edition, s.v. “Babylon.”

3 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 693.

4 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 236-237.

5 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 233.

6 Arthur Walkington Pink, The Antichrist (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1999, 1923), s.v. “Antichrist and Babylon.”

7 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), Rev. 17:3-4.

8 Albrecht Durer (1471 - 1528). Image courtesy of the Connecticut College Wetmore Print Collection.

9 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 94.

10 Andy Woods, What is the Identity of Babylon In Revelation 17-18?.

11 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 137.

12 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 89.

13 Although some point to mention of Melchizedek as king of Salem.

14 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 29.

15 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 39.

16 Pink, The Antichrist, s.v. “Antichrist and Babylon.”

17 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 17:5.

18 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 17:5.

19 Regarding Mat. 23:24, the Pharisees would force themselves to vomit if they accidentally swallowed a gnat which was seen as a violation of the prohibition against eating blood.

20 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 137.

21 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 89.

22 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 17:12.

23 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 103.

24 Woods, What is the Identity of Babylon In Revelation 17-18?.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid.

27 The NU text associates this phrase with the end of the previous verse.

28 Pink, The Antichrist, s.v. “Antichrist and Babylon.”

29 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 17:10.

30 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 17:10.

31 Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 21-24.

32 Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), Rev. 17:10.

33 Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. 17:10.

34 Robert L. Thomas, “Theonomy and the Dating of Revelation,” in Richard L. Mayhue, ed., The Master’s Seminary Journal, vol. 5 (Sun Valley, CA: The Master’s Seminary, 1994), 194-195.

35 Fruchtenbaum sees mention of his eighth as pertaining to his relationship among the horns: “In what way is he an eighth? . . . The ten horns represent the ten kingdoms that come out of the One World Government [Dan. 7:23+]. . . . These ten kings are contemporary and rule together. But as was seen from Daniel seven, when the Antichrist begins to take control, he uproots three of the ten horns. He kills three of the ten kings, leaving seven for the remainder of the Tribulation period. The Antichrist is contemporary with these seven, making him an eighth.”—Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 43. While he is indeed an eighth horn, the context of Revelation 17:11+ is discussing heads which are mountains which are kings. The ten horns do not yet enter the context until the next verse.

36 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 330.

37 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 17:8.

38 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 43.

39 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 17:11.

40 “It may be concluded that this difficult passage apparently goes beyond that which is historically fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes to foreshadow a future personage often identified as the world ruler of the end time. . . . He indeed will be ‘broken without hand’ at the time of the second advent of Jesus Christ.”—John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), Dan. 8:26.

41 Concerning the choosing or election of believers: Ps. 65:4; Eze. 3:17; Mat. 24:24, 31; Mark 13:20; Luke 18:7; John 1:13; 6:37, 44, 65; 13:18; 15:16, 19; 17:2-11, 24; Acts 13:48; Rom. 1:7; 8:28-31, 33; Rom. 9:15-16, 23; 10:20; 11:5, 7; 1Cor. 1:2, 21, 26, 30; Eph. 1:4; 4:1; 1Th. 1:4; 2Th. 2:13; 1Ti. 6:12; 2Ti. 1:9; 2Ti. 2:10; Tit. 1:1; Heb. 9:15; 1Pe. 1:2; 2:9; 5:13; 2Pe. 1:3; Jude 1:1; Rev. 17:14+.

42 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), Rev. 17:14.

43 Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev. 17:16.

44 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 327.

45 Bullinger suggests an additional solution: the city is burned by the ten kings in a preliminary judgment which is followed later by the final judgment by God. [Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 18:3]

46 Two weaknesses of this view are: (1) The TR text stands alone in having the ten horns on (instead of and) the beast in Revelation 17:16+; (2) The ten kings are found in alliance with the Beast against the Lamb at the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. 17:14+). The second weakness could possibly be explained as the unified response of all the kings of the earth, regardless of political intrigue, when faced with their ultimate enemy: Christ.

47 “The distinction between the two chapters is that between two systems or networks that have the same geographical headquarters. In chapter 17 it is a religious system that operates independently of and in opposition to the true God, but in chapter 18 it is an economic system that does the same. . . . The two chapters tell how two aspects of the city’s function will come to a dramatic end and how this will affect other world entities at the time. Whether they fall simultaneously or consecutively is yet to be determined, but they both will mark the internal deterioration of the beast’s empire prior to the defeat of his political structure by the returning warrior-king (Rev. 19:11-21+).”—Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 18:1.

48 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 172.

49 Ibid., 174.

50 Ibid., 218.

51 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 411.

52 Ibid., 810.

53 Woods, What is the Identity of Babylon In Revelation 17-18?.

54 Pink, The Antichrist, s.v. “Antichrist and Babylon.”

55 Great is in the TR, but not the NU or MT text.


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