Revelation Studies & Charts
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Revelation 17 (web)

The Mystery of Babylon

17:1 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying,
"Come here. I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters,
17:2 with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality, and those who dwell in the earth were made drunken with the wine of her sexual immorality."

17:3 He carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness.
I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet-colored animal, full of blasphemous names,
having seven heads and ten horns.
17:4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet,
and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls,
having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations
and the impurities of the sexual immorality of the earth.
17:5 And on her forehead a name was written,

17:6 I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints,
and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
When I saw her, I wondered with great amazement.
17:7 The angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman,
and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.
17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present.
{TR reads "yet is" instead of "shall be present"}
17:9 Here is the mind that has wisdom.

The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits.
17:10 They are seven kings. Five have fallen, the one is, the other has not yet come.
When he comes, he must continue a little while.
17:11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth,
and is of the seven; and he goes to destruction.

17:12 The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet,
but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour.
17:13 These have one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast.
17:14 These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them,

for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings.
They also will overcome who are with him, called and chosen and faithful."

17:15 He said to me,
"The waters which you saw, where the prostitute sits,
are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.

17:16 The ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the prostitute,
and will make her desolate, and will make her naked,
and will eat her flesh, and will burn her utterly with fire.
17:17 For God has put in their hearts to do what he has in mind, and to be of one mind,
and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished.

17:18 The woman whom you saw is the great city,
which reigns over the kings of the earth."


The last few chapters will contrast the city of Babylon with the New Jerusalem.
(See Rev 21 for a comparison)

vs 1-7 Babylon was the main city the Jews associated with the captivity. In the end times it represents the corruption of human civilization. It behaves shamelessly, have no conscience. There is an outward beauty, but inward corruption. The "waters" are the human population as vs 15 mentions.

vs 8-11 The seven heads may represent the famous seven hills of Rome and also seven Roman emperors. "Five have fallen" could be five emperors who have died. One is ruling presently as John was writing. And there is one more of these seven to come. But the beast is spoken of as "once was, but now is not." He could have been one of the five who had died, but would be later raised from the dead coming out of the Abyss in the end times. That would make him an eight, but still part of the seven.

The Roman Emperors were:

There has been debate over the dating of when Revelation was written because of this list. The most commonly accepted is about 95-96 AD, putting it during Domitian's reign. This was the testimony of Irenaeus (disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John). That would make Domitian the 6th king. Tiberius would then be the first. John must have been counting from the time of Christ's death about 32 AD. But who is the 7th? After Domitian, there were five relatively good rulers. Nero is the most likely candidate to be the resurrected AntiChrist as the number of his name is 666 in Hebrew (Neron Kesar).

vs 12-14 The ten kings are also mentioned in Daniel.

"And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time."Dan 7:24,25
Obviously this last king is the AntiChrist. In fact Rev 13:1 mentions about he AntiChrist having ten horns and seven heads.

vs 16-18 Interesting that the beast and ten kings hate the prostitute. God has put his own hatred of the prostitute into the hearts of the beast and the kings, in order that He may use them to execute judgment upon her. Historically, God often uses authority figures to accomplish his ends.

"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." Prov 21:1
But who rules whom? For it seems that the prostitute rules over the kings. The world system is not something that individuals can rule over. It rules them.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015