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Revelation 17

Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the BibleBox on Selected Books

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God Describes the Harlot Revelation Seventeen

In Rev_14:8 we see Babylon introduced as having fallen. "And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." In this text Babylon is named but not identified. Again in Rev_16:19 Babylon is named but not identified. "And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath."

Revelation Seventeen identifies Babylon. The struggle between God and Satan continues, and over and over we see that God and His people win the battle. The identity of the Harlot is set forth in Revelation Seventeen. Later we learn more about God's judgment against this wicked Harlot. The literal city of Babylon was located on the Euphrates River. Babylon was the capitol of the empire that conquered Judah. Babylon was associated with idolatry and the persecution of God's people. Babylon was present in John's day as typified by Rome's persecuting power against Christians and will be present throughout history as the Devil works his evils by those that oppose God's people!

Verses 1-6

Babylon and the great Harlot Rev_17:1-6 : The Harlot sits upon many waters or controls many people. The judgment of God against the Harlot or the spiritually corrupt Rome was certain. She was guilty of spiritual fornication. The Devil started his work long before the Messiah came. Now the Devil had a tremendous influence through the nation of Rome. Rome was that nation, "With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Those that had not become children of God had been affected by the false worship and persecuting power of Rome.

Many people try to identify the great Harlot with the Roman Catholic Church, but false religion is not limited to one church. We are not to believe, even for a moment that even though Rome and its devilish system fell that Satan was finished. This is not the end of evil by any means.

The Harlot is dressed like a queen. The picture is that of a queen, but it is not a picture of beauty. "And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication." ( Rev_17:4 ) This evil Harlot was drunk with the blood of saints. "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration." ( Rev_17:6 ) Now we know that the purpose of the Harlot was to draw saints away from God and destroy them spiritually. The entire figure of Babylon and the Harlot is that of worldliness. Worldliness is the greatest power that the Devil has over the children of God.

In John's day the great Harlot was Rome. But remember that the book of Revelation gives principles that fit all through history. The great Harlot also pictures any anti-Christian seduction at any time in history. The Devil is always busy trying to allure saints from the fold of God.

Verses 7-10

Babylon's evil kings come and go Rev_17:7-10 : John is amazed at what he sees. "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration." ( Rev_17:6 ) John was amazed when he saw so much of God's servants' blood shed by the Harlot. He was likewise amazed when he saw the judgment of God against the great whore.

The Harlot is the same as the land beast of Revelation Thirteen. This beast represented false worship. The sea beast also had civil persecuting power. The seven heads and ten horns remind us again of Satan's destructive, persecuting power and of his intellect. The beast appears again and again in history. He was, he is not, but he comes again. The Devil's evils will all end at the righteous, revealing judgment of God.

John again sees that the beast is Rome. The five persecutors of God’s people that had fallen were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. The present persecutor was Rome. The “one to come” included all future persecutors of God's people.

Verses 11-13

Babylon's kings and allies have one mind Rev_17:11-13 : The ten kings are Rome's allies that had been given power for a short time. They sided with Rome and were part of her evil so that Rome would not destroy them, but now far worse God destroys them. "Perdition" was the place awaiting them. "Perdition" was a term applied to Judas so it had to be bad. ( Joh_17:12 ) Perdition had to do with destruction. So Judas was a child of destruction. The beast that opposed God "goes into perdition."

These kings have one mind. People can have "one mind" for good or "one mind" for evil. Sadly these kings have "one mind," but it is the mind of Satan. They joined with him in committing great evils against the children of God. They made the fatal mistake of committing themselves to the Devil and his evil schemes. The result of such a choice is tragic. Those that chose Satan's side reject all hope!

Verses 14-18

Babylon makes war with the Lamb Rev_17:14-18 : These help make war with the Lamb. Aging we see that God and his people win. "...And the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." ( Rev_17:14 ) Even those that opposed God's cause were used by the Sovereign God to destroy Rome. God's word shall be fulfilled in spite of Satan, and all his instruments.

This chapter closes with the pointed words of Rev_17:18 . "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." This is clearly a description of Rome. Rome is that Babylon that has shed the blood of saints and martyrs without number. She will be destroyed for so doing. In Rev_17:18 the harlot is presented before us as ready for judgment. Nothing can save her from God's indignation. Revelation eighteen will provide some of the details of that judgment.

The Devil is powerful and what he offers has appealed to man. However, God is more powerful and what He offers has eternal appeal. That is why it makes sense to obey God rather than to follow Satan. To obey the gospel one must hear God's truth ( Rom_10:17 ), believe in Jesus ( Joh_8:24 ), repent of sins ( Act_17:30 ), confess Jesus as Lord ( Act_8:37 ), and be baptized to be saved. ( 1Pe_3:21 ) After baptism one must serve God faithfully regardless of circumstances. Under any condition, we are always better off to serve God faithful because God's people always win.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 17". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/revelation-17.html. 2014.
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