Not long before the triumphal return of Jesus Christ, a major world religion is judged for its evil deeds and destroyed.
VERSE 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,
the great prostitute. Who is this? The text does not say. However, people try to guess. Here are two popular theories:
- The United States
- The Catholic church
VERSE 2. with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality. Those who dwell in the earth were made drunken with the wine of her sexual immorality.”
with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality. The world’s rulers are intimately involved with this “great prostitute.” In what way? Here are two popular theories:
The ECONOMIC theory. The great prostitute is the United States. That is because almost every nation is “involved” with the United States, as a trading partner.
The THEOLOGICAL theory. The great prostitute is the Catholic church. That is because almost every nation is “involved” with the Vatican City-State, through their treaties.
VERSE 3. He carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet-colored beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.
He carried me away in the Spirit. Mystical writers call this “transport.”
I saw a woman. Presumably this is the great prostitute.
VERSE 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.
purple … scarlet, … gold … precious stones .. pearls. These are the markings of liturgical vestments.
VERSE 5. And on her forehead a name was written, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
BABYLON THE GREAT. Some people paraphrase that as the “whore of Babylon.”
VERSE 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.
I wondered with great amazement. That she was drunk with the blood of the saints is astonishing to John.
John had not foreseen that the woman would enjoy murdering the saints.
VERSE 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.
VERSE 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.
the abyss. This is a bottomless pit. It is the home of demons.
Luke 8:31. They begged him that he would not command them to go into the abyss.
Romans 10:7. or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)”
Revelation 9:1. The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from the sky which had fallen to the earth. The key to the pit of the abyss was given to him.
Revelation 9:11. They have over them as king the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is “Abandon”, but in Greek, he has the name “Apollyon”.
Revelation 11:7. When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.
Revelation 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.
Revelation 20:1. I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.
Revelation 20:2. He seized the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and bound him for a thousand years,
Revelation 20:3. and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished. After this, he must be freed for a short time.
the book of life. Much ink has been spilt over the identity of this book.
will marvel when they see that the beast. What is the identity of the beast? It will not be who people expected it to be.
VERSE 9. Here is the mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.
seven mountains. Christians have spend incalculable hours trying to figure out what this alludes to.
on which the woman sits. Being seated upon something implies having authority over it. The woman has authority over the seven mountains.
VERSE 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.
VERSE 11. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goes to destruction.
is of the seven. The eighth king belongs to the seven.
VERSE 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.
for one hour. This is a very short time. Yet power-hungry people would line up to have unlimited power for an one hour.
These have one mind. Their one purpose is to surrender their authority to the beast.
VERSE 14. These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and those who are with him are called chosen and faithful.”
Lord of lords, and King of kings. Here is the source of this famous title of Jesus Christ.
VERSE 15. He said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.
The waters which you saw. The term “waters” is code for the entire world.
VERSE 16. The ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the prostitute, will make her desolate, will strip her naked, will eat her flesh, and will burn her utterly with fire.
these will hate the prostitute. These ten “horns” sound as if they are righteous.
VERSE 17. For God has put in their hearts to do what he has in mind, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished.
God has put in their hearts to do what he has in mind. If they do righteous things, they cannot congratulate themselves.
God gave them this motive.
to be of one mind. Their unity is from God, not from themselves.
The woman … is the great city. So the great prostitute is not a person but a city.
Which city is it?
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.