Keys to Revelation – Chapter 17
AUTHOR: Capoccia, Tony
PUBLISHED ON: May 12, 2003
PUBLISHED IN: Bible Studies

                        Keys to Revelation – Chapter 17

Taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York
International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

          BIBLE TEXT                                  COMMENTARY

REV 17:1  One of the seven angels        [seven angels…bowls] – See REV 15:1
who had the seven bowls came and          and 15:7.
said to me, “Come, I will show you
the punishment of the great              [great prostitute] – Defined in REV
prostitute, who sits on many              17:18, “The woman….is the great
waters.                                  city that rules over the earth.”  The
                                          great city is best understood, in the
                                          last days of the earth, as Rome. 

                                          Actually, it was the ancient city of
                                          Babylon, that had the first major
                                          worldwide influence for evil.  This
                                          influence impacted such areas as:
                                          government, politics, commerce,
                                          education, art, manufacture, labor,
                                          amusement, etc. Eventually, Rome, as
                                          the last world empire became the
                                          symbol for the Babylonian system
                                          which is opposed to the ways of God.

                                          [sits on many waters] – REV 17:15
                                          defines the waters, “The waters….
                                          where the prostitute sits, are
                                          peoples, multitudes, nations and
                                          languages.”  During these last years
                                          of the Tribulation Period it will be
                                          the city of Rome which will be the
                                          capital city of the world and will
                                          have great power and influence over
                                          the entire earth, leading it into
                                          spiritual and physical adulteries.

REV 17:2  With her the kings of the      [kings of the earth] – Represents all
earth committed adultery and the          the nations of the earth that have
inhabitants of the earth were            had illicit relations with the city
intoxicated with the wine of her          of Rome.  Rome, of course, being the
adulteries.”                              final and last symbol of the worldly
                                          system that began with Babylon.

                                          [committed adultery] – Nations that
                                          have not only committed immoral acts
                                          and engaged in unlawful sex, but also
                                          were involved in religious apostasy.

                                          [intoxicated] – They were controlled
                                          by the immorality and the powers of
                                          the false religion.

REV 17:3  Then the angel carried me      [carried me away] – John is trans-
away in the Spirit into a desert.        ported in his vision to the desert.
There I saw a woman sitting on a
scarlet beast that was covered with      [desert] – Not a place of blessing or
blasphemous names and had seven          nourishment, but rather a place that
heads and ten horns.                      is appropriate for divine judgment.

                                          [a woman] – This is the woman called
                                          the great prostitute (17:1) and
                                          continues to represent the city of
                                          Rome and the entire Babylonian
                                          influence throughout the ages.   

                                          [sitting] – A position by which she
                                          can manage and guide the beast.

                                          [scarlet beast] – Same beast that
                                          rose out of the waters in REV 13:1.
                                          It is the symbolic for the great   
                                          Christ-hating power of the Antichrist
                                          and his revived Roman Empire.

                                          [blasphemous names] – The leaders of
                                          world systems have continually mocked
                                          the name of God and even at times
                                          made blasphemous claims of being
                                          deity themselves.

                                          [seven heads, ten horns] – Beast has
                                          the same number of horns and heads as
                                          the Red Dragon (Satan) of REV 12:3 
                                          and similar to the descriptions found
                                          in DAN 7:7-8, 24.  It is a another 
                                          clear reference to the Antichrist and
                                          the revived Roman Empire.         

                                          The seven heads are a symbol of the
                                          seven hills of the city of Rome (see
                                          REV 17:9) from which the Antichrist
                                          will most likely establish his throne
                                          during this time.  The heads also are
                                          used to represent the kings of past
                                          and future of this world empire (REV

                                          The ten horns refer to the original
                                          ten kingdoms of the old Roman Empire
                                          of which three were subdued by the
                                          little horn of Daniel 7:8, who is to
                                          be identified with the world ruler of
                                          the great tribulation (Antichrist)
                                          who reigns over the revived Roman
                                          Empire (United Europe?), see REV

REV 17:4  The woman was dressed in        [purple and scarlet] – Purple was
purple and scarlet, and was              often the color of royalty and the
glittering with gold, precious            color scarlet indicated luxurious and
stones and pearls. She held a            haughty splendor.  This world system
golden cup in her hand, filled with      promoted pride, luxury, and self
abominable things and the filth of        devotion.
her adulteries. 
                                          [golden cup…filled with…filth] –
                                          Just like the woman and the world
                                          system, they both glitter on the out-
                                          side but are filled with the filth of
                                          their spiritual and physical sins of
                                          adulteries within.

REV 17:5  This title was written on      [written on her forehead] –  Roman
her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE        prostitutes wore a label with their 
GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND      names on their foreheads.  Likewise,
OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.        this harlot proudly displays her
                                          descriptive name.

                                          [MYSTERY BABYLON] – Although once a
                                          real city, it now no longer exists,
                                          however, the influence of the “ways”
                                          of the city and empire continue until
                                          the last days of the Tribulation.

                                          [MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES] – This city
                                          has had the influence over all other
                                          cities and cultures, as a mother’s
                                          ways would influence her daughters.

REV 17:6  I saw that the woman was        [drunk with the blood] – One of the
drunk with the blood of the saints,      great sins of the city and empire of
the blood of those who bore              Rome was the slaughter of the saints.
testimony to Jesus. When I saw her,      The history of the church reveals
I was greatly astonished.                that a great many Christians were
                                          martyred by the Roman Government and
                                          later, by the Catholic Church of Rome
                                          during the Inquisition. Of course, it
                                          is the revised Roman Empire of these
                                          last days that murder the Tribulation

REV 17:7  Then the angel said to
me: “Why are you astonished? I will
explain to you the mystery of the
woman and of the beast she rides,
which has the seven heads and ten

REV 17:8  The beast, which you saw,      [the beast] – Again it is the Revised
once was, now is not, and will come      Roman Empire and its leader — the
up out of the Abyss and go to his        Antichrist.  The Roman Empire’s most
destruction. The inhabitants of the      famous leaders was Nero, and he was
earth whose names have not been          known for his treacherous treatment
written in the book of life from          of Christians.  This type of leader
the creation of the world will be        and the Roman Empire was passing
astonished when they see the beast,      from the scene and would appear to
because he once was, now is not,          be gone forever.  However, to the
and yet will come.                        utter amazement of the entire world,
                                          the old Roman Empire, with its wicked
                                          rulers, will be revived in the end
                                          times. It will not be Nero who comes
                                          back to life but the Roman Empire.

                                          In addition, it could be that the
                                          Antichrist is also killed but raised
                                          to life by Satan in order to deceived
                                          the world by trying to “upstage” the
                                          resurrection of the Lord Jesus

                                          [world… astonished] – Truly if some
                                          world leader would be killed and then
                                          somehow raised to life by some great
                                          power, then the entire world would
                                          follow after him because it would be
                                          their desire to have that power to
                                          help satisfy their needs.  One must
                                          remember that the world does not want
                                          the true power of God because of the
                                          cost involved–the turning from sin
                                          and the yielding of one’s life to the
                                          true Savior.

                                          Both the resurrection of the Roman
                                          Empire and the Antichrist would truly
                                          cause a wicked world to be deceived.

REV 17:9  “This calls for a mind          [seven hills] – The woman, the city
with wisdom. The seven heads are          of Rome, sits on seven hills.  Rome
seven hills on which the woman            was known as the city on seven hills,
sits.                                    these hills received the names of
                                          Palatine, Aventine, Caelian,
                                          Esquiline, Viminal, Quirinal, and

REV 17:10  They are also seven            [also seven kings] – The heads are
kings. Five have fallen, one is,          not only symbolic of the hills of
the other has not yet come; but          Rome but also of the kings of the
when he does come, he must remain        Roman Empire. 
for a little while. 
                                          [five have fallen] – These would have
                                          the five emperors before John, that
                                          is, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula,
                                          Claudius, and Nero. 

                                          [one is] – The emperor ruling at the
                                          time of the this vision would then
                                          have to be Vespasian.

                                          [the other has not yet come] – After
                                          Vespasian came the emperor Titus,
                                          who became the instrument in the hand
                                          of God of destroying the holy city
                                          and the temple.

REV 17:11  The beast who once was,        [eighth king] – The last emperor was
and now is not, is an eighth king.        Titus and the next one will be after
He belongs to the seven and is            the revival of the Roman Empire and
going to his destruction.                will be known as the Antichrist.

                                          [belongs to the seven] – That is, he
                                          also is a Roman Emperor. 

                                          [going to his destruction] – He will
                                          not remain in power, but like the
                                          rest, will die and face the his own
                                          judgment (see REV 19:20).

REV 17:12  “The ten horns you saw        [ten kings] – These are the ten kings
are ten kings who have not yet            or leaders of the ten nations that
received a kingdom, but who for one      will make up the revised Roman Empire
hour will receive authority as            during the Tribulation Period.
kings along with the beast.     

REV 17:13  They have one purpose          [give their power] – They are raised
and will give their power and            to power by God for the sole purpose
authority to the beast.                  of giving their power and authority
                                          over to the Antichrist.  These are
                                          ten European countries that all were
                                          original members of the old Roman

REV 17:14  They will make war            [will make war] – As allies of the
against the Lamb, but the Lamb will      Antichrist, they fight with him in
overcome them because he is Lord of      a war against Christ (see Rev 19:19).
lords and King of kings–and with       
him will be his called, chosen and        [with Him….His called] – When Jesus
faithful followers.”                      returns at the end of the Tribulation
                                          Period, He has with Him His redeemed,
                                          dressed in fine linen and riding on
                                          white horses.  It is incredible to
                                          realize that we Christians are in the
                                          very pages of the book of Revelation.
                                          We who have Repented, Believed, and
                                          Submitted to the Lordship of Christ
                                          will be with Jesus as He takes over
                                          the earth from the wicked forces of
                                          evil.  Amen and Hallelujah!! 

REV 17:15  Then the angel said to        [prostitute sits] – The city of Rome
me, “The waters you saw, where the        and the entire evil world system has
prostitute sits, are peoples,            influenced and ruled over peoples,
multitudes, nations and languages.        multitudes, nations and languages of
                                          all the world. 

REV 17:16  The beast and the ten          [hate..bring…to ruin] – In the last
horns you saw will hate the              days there is a one world government
prostitute. They will bring her to        ruled by the Antichrist from the city
ruin and leave her naked; they will      of Rome.  There is also a one world
eat her flesh and burn her with          religion that also headquarters in
fire.                                    Rome.  The alliance, between the
                                          Government and this false church,
                                          which no doubt helped the Antichrist
                                          rise to power, is no longer needed.
                                          Therefore, the government destroys
                                          the religious system and sets up
                                          Emperor worship (REV 13:8). Literally
                                          the church system is burned and 

                                          [eat her flesh] – Probably not to
                                          imply cannibalism, but rather to
                                          destroy her people and system.

REV 17:17  For God has put it into        [God has put] – God promised in the
their hearts to accomplish his            letters to the Churches (REV 2-3) to
purpose by agreeing to give the          destroy those churches that failed to
beast their power to rule, until          remain true to His Word.  Therefore,
God’s words are fulfilled.                this false church of the end was once
                                          a true one that had “gone their own
                                          way,” following the teachings of men
                                          rather than the truths of God’s Word.

REV 17:18  The woman you saw is the      [city that rules] – Again, Rome is 
great city that rules over the            this city, but represents Babylon
kings of the earth.”                      of old, and the entire evil system.

Tony Capoccia
Box 130
Shreveport, LA 71110
Modem (318) 949-1456
300/1200/2400/9600 Baud

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