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From the commencement of this chapter to the end of the book there extends a connected train of prophetical annunciation, the general import of which seems clear. Under the figure of a woman seated, upon a beast, though the symbol is afterwards changed to that of a city designated by the name Babylon, some great foe to the cause of Christ and of piety is represented, at first in a state of great activity and power, and afterwards overwhelmed with a very sudden and complete destruction. The terrible severity of this overthrow is enforced by a variety of images and representations in Revelation 18:1-66.18.24, which are followed by an account of rejoicings among the people of God at the great deliverance.
Many waters. The meaning of this expression is explained in Revelation 17:15.
Fornication; representing the sin of idolatry.
A scarlet-colored beast. The description of this beast is very similar to that of the one mentioned Revelation 13:1-66.13.7. The seven heads here named are afterwards explained as the seven mountains on which the woman sitteth, (Revelation 17:9;) and the woman is, in Revelation 17:8, said to represent a great city. Now, as it has been one of the most characteristic distinctions of Rome, in all ages, that it was built upon seven hills, commentators have generally been agreed that Rome is intended by this symbol. Some, however, suppose that Pagan Rome, and others that Papal Rome, is meant. Protestant writers generally give it the latter interpretation.
Names and designations of rank and office were often attached to the in ancient times.
Was, and is not. Similar phraseology occurs at the close of Revelation 17:8. It expresses great fluctuation and change in the condition and power of the beast.
The mind; the meaning.
Seven kings; seven of the Roman emperors, according to the first of the two systems of interpretation referred to in the note upon v. 3, and the seven successive forms of the Roman government, according to the second.
And is of the seven, that is, perhaps, of the same spirit and character with the seven. See John 8:44, for a similar form of expression--"Ye are of your father," &c.
One hour; for a brief season. The ten kings are regarded as denoting the various kingdoms into which Rome was divided after the dissolution of the empire, on the hypothesis that Papal Rome is included in the aim and design of this chapter. It is said below that these powers, though conspiring for a time to sustain the beast, (Revelation 17:13,) afterwards accomplished the destruction of the woman who sat upon it.
The ten horns; kings, as is explained Revelation 17:12.
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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 17". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany