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
[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.
[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
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
[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
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.
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