Chapters 17 and 18 are powerful reminders that God is in control and will ultimately, at the end of time, defeat and judge all evil.

In chapter 17, the great whore named Babylon sits on many waters. This is explained in 17:15. If these are literal waters, it means that the rule of Rome stretches to vast territories. Waters may be a metaphor for vast numbers of people. The idea here is that her influence to do evil has been as fornication and drunkenness.

John is carried away into the wilderness and sees a woman clothed in purple and scarlet and having on gold and precious stones. Written on her forehead is a name: "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth." She is sitting on a scarlet colored beast which has seven heads and ten horns. These identify this beast as the one in chapter 13. The seven heads of verse 3 are identified in verse 9 as seven mountains. The city of Rome was built on seven hills, and at the time of the writing of Revelation Rome ruled the nations of the world. The color of the beast identifies him with the dragon Satan. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. These represent seven mountains, verse 9 and seven kings verse 10. John says of the seven kings, "Five are fallen, and the one is, the other is not yet come." The five that are fallen may mean those who are dead or it may mean that they died by violent deaths. The "one is," is the sixth and probably refers to the emperor Domitian who is ruling when John is writing. "The other is not yet come," is modified by the phrase "and when he shall come." This implies that the time of the seventh is indefinite and uncertain. This is referring to the final Antichrist who will make war against the Lamb.

The Greek of verse 11 reads, "And the beast which was, and is not, also he is an eighth, and of the seventh is, and into destruction goes." The word translated eighth is masculine and seems to refer to a man rather than to a kingdom which is feminine in Greek. The eighth "was, and is not" probably refers to the spirit of Nero who meets all of the requirements of the Antichrist.

Verse 14, is an anticipation of 19:11 ff. when they make war against the Lamb.


TEXT w/ Scofield Notes


(Rev 17:1 KJV) And there came one of the seven angels[1] which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment[2] of the great whore[3] that sitteth upon many waters[4]:

1 "ANGELS": See Heb 1:4, note

2 "JUDGMENT": Rev 16:19

3 "WHORE": Rev 19:2

4 "WATERS": Cp. Jer 51:13

(Rev 17:2 KJV) With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication[1], and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication[2].

1 "FORNICATION": Rev 18:3,9

2 "FORNICATION": Rev 14:8

(Rev 17:3 KJV) So he carried me away in the spirit[1] into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy[2], having seven heads and ten horns[3].

1 "SPIRIT": <Holy Spirit> (N.T.): v. 3; Rev 21:10. (Mat 1:18; Acts 2:4, note)

2 "BLASPHEMY": Rev 13:1

3 "HORNS": See Deu 33:17, note

(Rev 17:4 KJV) And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls[1], having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication[2]:

1 "PEARLS": Cp. Rev 18:16

2 "FORNICATION": Rev 18:6

(Rev 17:5 KJV) And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY[1], BABYLON[2] THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

1 "MYSTERY": See Mat 13:11, note

2 "BABYLON": See Isa 13:1, note

(Rev 17:6 KJV) And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

(Rev 17:7 KJV) And the angel[1] said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery[2] of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns[3].

1 "ANGEL": See Heb 1:4, note

2 "MYSTERY": See Mat 13:11, note

3 "HORNS": See Deu 33:17, note

(Rev 17:8 KJV) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall[1] ascend out of the bottomless pit[2], and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth[3] shall[4] wonder, whose names were not written in the book[5] of life[6] from the foundation of the world[7], when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is[8].

1 "SHALL": Lit. <is about to>

2 "PIT": Rev 9:1; 11:7

3 "EARTH": Rev 3:10

4 "SHALL": Rev 13:3

5 "BOOK": Rev 13:8

6 "LIFE": <Life> (eternal): v. 8; Rev 20:12. (Mat 7:14; Rev 22:19)

7 "WORLD": Gk. <kosmos.> See Mat 4:8, note

8 "IS": Cp. Rev 13:3,13 - 14

(Rev 17:9 KJV) And here is the mind which hath wisdom[1]. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth[2].

1 "WISDOM": Rev 13:18

2 "SITTETH": Rev 13:1

(Rev 17:10 KJV) And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space[1].

1 "SPACE": Rev 13:5

(Rev 17:11 KJV) And the beast[1] that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

1 "BEAST": Rev 13:3

(Rev 17:12 KJV) And the ten[1] horns[2] which thou sawest are ten[3] kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour[4] with the beast.

1 "TEN": Frequently in Scripture "ten" is the number of kings or kingdoms designated as opposed to Israel in her past history (Gen 15:19 - 21; Ps 83:1 - 8), or to be federated against Christ and the people of God in the future (Jer 46 - 51; Dan 2:41 - 42; 7:7,20,24; Rev 12:3; 13:1).

Rev 13:1

2 "HORNS": See Deu 33:17, note

3 "TEN": Cp. Dan 7:24

4 "HOUR": Cp. Rev 18:10

(Rev 17:13 KJV) These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

(Rev 17:14 KJV) These shall make war with the Lamb[1], and the Lamb shall overcome them[2]: for he is Lord of lords[3], and King of kings[4]: and they that are with him are called, and chosen[5], and faithful.

1 "LAMB": Rev 19:19

2 "THEM": Rev 19:20; cp. 2 Th 2:8 - 9

3 "LORDS": Rev 19:16; cp. 1 Tim 6:15

4 "KINGS": <Kingdom> (N.T.): v. 14; Rev 19:16. (Mat 2:2; 1 Cor 15:24, note)

5 "CHOSEN": <Election> (corporate): v. 14. (Deu 7:6; 1 Pet 5:13, note)

(Rev 17:15 KJV) And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

(Rev 17:16 KJV) And the ten horns[1] which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked[2], and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire[3].

1 "HORNS": See Deu 33:17, note

2 "NAKED": Rev 18:17

3 "FIRE": Cp. Lev 21:9; James 4:4

(Rev 17:17 KJV) For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled[1].

1 "FULFILLED": Cp. Rev 18:8,20

(Rev 17:18 KJV) And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.