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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 17

Verses 1-18

  1. Intro:
    1. I’ve rethought my theology studying this chapter this week. I believe the church will go through the Tribulation........that is the “Apostate Church!”
    2. Babylon is both a City & a System!
      1. The same way we speak of Wall Street & Madison Ave.
        1. They are actual streets, but also stand for the financial or advertising enterprises!
      2. We have Ecclesiastical Babylon = Which is Apostate Christendom
        1. Maybe a religion that embraces all religions of the world?
        2. I call it the “1st Church of Babylon”!
      3. We have Political Babylon = Which is the Antichrists united empire (the last form of Gentile World Power).
      4. Eccl. Babylon will be destroyed by Pol. Babylon; AND Pol. Babylon will be destroyed by Jesus’ return!
    3. And now, leading us on our guided tour, is 1 of the 7 bowl angels.
  2. BABYLON DESCRIBED! (1-7)
    1. vs.1 - A Bit of Babylons Background:
      1. It’s beg. around 3000bc under Nimrod; It has a consistently dishonorable history. It was famous for the Tower of Babel, which was built to keep the people from scattering, in direct defiance of God’s command to do so! - Hammurabi made Babylon a Religious Power about 1600bc.
      2. Babylon’s zenith was during Neb. reign(604-562bc); Babylon’s decline was in 539 when captured by Darius the Mede(see Daniel).
      3. From 300bc the city has been in decay. - In 1986 Saddam Hussein(portraying himself as the successor to Neb.)began to rebuild Babylon, which lies (50m.)south of Baghdad in Iraq.
    2. vs.2 - Participating in false religion is like committing Adultery because: “You are unfaithful to the one to whom you’ve pledged your love & fidelity!”
      1. Read - Jer. 3:8-10.
      2. This was an Apostate church! - When the church is Raptured, Religion does not disappear from the earth. Indeed it will flourish!
    3. Apostacy = a “falling away”. It’s the act of professed Christians who deliberately reject revealed truth.
      1. It’s different from an error concerning truth(which may be the result of ignorance). [example: the H. S. understanding in Acts]
      2. Apostates depart from the faith, but not from the outward profession of Christianity.
      3. 2 Tim 3:5 “...having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
      4. Apostates are described in 2 Tim. 4:3,4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
      5. Apostates Teachers are described in 2 Pet.2:1-3 “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
      6. Apostates await judgment! (2 Pet.2:21,22) “For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
    4. vs.3 - She has Political power(for a time)we see her “sitting” on the beast!
      1. Sitting on usually indicates power over!
      2. The same beast as in 13:1(7 heads, 10 horns), the antichrist.
    5. vs.4 - Here is Worldliness, Worldly Vanity, & Worldly Greed!
      1. This church has power & wealth w/which she entices her people.
      2. This is Corrupt Christianity! This is Current Christianity!
      3. Genuine Christianity is essentially Unworldly!
        1. {Its founder was born in an animal stable, cradled in a feeding trough, had no where to lay his head, his followers went out on mission trips w/o “purse or scrip”. None of His apostles preached the gospel as a means of livelihood. Paul said, “I coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.”}
      4. It’s so sad to watch friends chasing after $ or stuff....the end is loneliness & emptiness! - The children aren’t satisfied w/their toys, they will rebel cuz your not there for them! - Quit chasing your tail!
      5. The statement “God wants us incredibly wealthy” is so worldly, self-focused, so earthly minded!
      6. [1] Seek 1st the Kingdom of God [2] Be a hard worker [3] Let God place you in the proper tax bracket!
    6. vs.5a - “Mystery Babylon”!
      1. Of course the True Church is called a mystery(Eph.5:32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.)
        1. This Apostate church is a counterfeit!
    7. vs.5b - The harlot is also the “Mother of Harlots” (she’s a madam/she runs a brothel)
      1. This sounds like many churches come together under her.
      2. They Incorporate, but cannot amalgamate(combine)!
    8. vs.6 - They will successfully persecute believers in Jesus.
    9. vs.7 - John says, “I’m so compused?” The church(professing) against the church(true)?
      1. The angel promises John an explanation!
  3. BABYLON INTERPRETED! (8-15)
    1. vs.8 - The Beast Described!
      1. Is about to come up” - he came up in 11:7, placing the timing of his seizure to power(over Eccl. Babylon) in the middle of the trib.
    2. vs.9-11 - The 7 Heads Described!
      1. Here we have the Woman sitting on the 3rd thing! [Many Waters(1), Beast(3), & now 7 Hills here.]
      2. Represent the 7 mountains(9) - Rome?
      3. Represent the 7 Kings(10) - ? {Roman Emperors; World empires}
      4. We do know the 8th is the Beast!
    3. vs.12-14 - The 10 Horns Described!
      1. Dan. 7:24,25 “The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.”
      2. The Beasts army comes maybe for the love of there nation, or dedication to their leader(who is sordid & sinister). The Lambs army are Called, Chosen, & Faithful.
        1. “Love for Him & His grand cause fills & fires their souls!”
      3. vs.15 - The Waters Described!
      4. The waters are the people of the world!
  4. BABYLON DESTROYED! (16-18)
    1. vs.16 - Rel. Babylon, which sought Political alliances & power, are in the end destroyed by it! {Her lovers turn on her!}
      1. The Antichrist seems to use a world church to get himself into power & then establish his own religion.
    2. vs.17 - Here we have another example of “concurrence”(w/current,flow)of the purposes of God & the desires of the people.
    3. vs.18 - The Woman Described Further!
      1. Is also represented as a city(not only as a system).
      2. Look at the contrasts: We have here the Harlot & the Beast! In ch.21:9 we have the Bride & the Lamb.
      3. The Bride is a Virgin - the Woman is a Harlot!
      4. You either identify w/the Woman or the Bride?
      5. The Woman represents the ultimate in godless world religion.
      6. She is joined w/gov. & corrupts everything she touches(unlike Midas).
      7. Here is one problem w/the idea of blending“Church & State”.
      8. As Christians we must be good citizens & seek to influence gov. for Rt. & Justice. But never marry the Political system!
      9. The Bride is the true church of J.C., cleansed by His blood & destined for glory!
  5. End:
    1. Every age has featured a “Babylon” a Political & Economic system that has sought to control people’s minds & destinies!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Revelation 17". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/revelation-17.html. 2017.