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Revelation 17

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Verse 1

Chapter 17 - The Harlot: Babylon The Great

Babylon’s Characteristics, vv. 1-6

Babylon’s Relationship To The Sea Beast, vv. 7-14

Babylon’s Unmistakable Identity, vv. Revelation 17:15-18

We begin to see the God’s judgment against the four pictured enemies in reverse order in which the enemy were introduced.

Ch. 17 = The Fall of Babylon (v.1 "the great whore") This chapter describes the judgment of Babylon referred to in Revelation 14:8 and Revelation 16:19. The city is identified in Revelation 11:8 "where our Lord was crucified."

one of the seven angels . . Introduce in Revelation 15:1, and Revelation 16:1. Another angel is described the same way in Revelation 21:9.

Come and I will show you . .Which had been exhibited, and described in general terms, in Revelation 16:19; but the seer is now to have a nearer view of it, and describe it in detail. - CBSC

judgment of the great harlot . . The prophets often depict cities using female imagery such as a bride, wife, or prostitute (e.g., Isaiah 1:21; Isaiah 23:17; Ezekiel 23:2-4). - FSB

great whore . . The fornication is figurative of religious unfaithfulness. The symbolism for unfaithfulness to God is pictured as a "harlot", whore, or prostitute. Isaiah 1:21 Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:9; Jeremiah 4:30; Jeremiah 51:4, ( Jeremiah 51:7 * said of literal Babylon)

Prostitution frequently symbolizes idolatry or religious apostasy (cf. Jeremiah 3:6-9; Ezekiel 16:30 ff.; eze 20:30; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:3; Hosea 6:10; Hosea 9:1). Nineveh (Nahum 3:1, Nahum 3:4), Tyre (Isaiah 23:17), and even Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:21) are also depicted as harlot cities. - MSB

sits on many waters . . Is explained in vs Revelation 17:15 as "peoples, multitudes, and nations..."

Many writers believe chapter 17 and 18 points to Rome as the fulfillment of "Babylon" and the "Harlot." And while it seems to fit with many of the allusions, one must not forget the power of the Jewish heirarch over the world through its Jewish citizens who were scatter throughout the Roman Empire.

One of the principle reasons Rome was unhappy with Judah was how Jerusalem controlled so much of the wealth in the Empire. With Jews often holding Roman citizenship they were involved in the banking and trade throughout the empire with tithes being sent annually to Jerusalem. The Roman world thought all that wealth to be banked in the Jerusalem temple. Herod the Great had started the magnificent building and his building projects prove he was one of the best at this in the world during his time.

And lest the readers have forgotten the imminence of the fulfillment of this prophecy, the writer again reminds us as he closes his writing, Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:10.

While chapters 17 and 18 can be used by many to say the city prophesied is about Rome, the fall of Rome was too far into the future of the readers in those seven church to whom this was sent. The fall of Rome was not "to shortly come to pass" nor was "the time at hand" when this was written.

The strong internal evidence of the book and it’s correlation with Christ’s own prophecy points to Jerusalem as the "Babylon" and the "harlot" in the book. It’s government was supported and endorsed by Rome until when Rome itself turned and devoured the city and nation.

Verse 2

Revelation 17:2

kings of the earth . . The harlot allied herself with the world’s political leaders. Fornication here does not refer to sexual sins, but to spiritual unfaithfulness.

fornication . . Symbolized for spiritual infidelity. Isaiah 1:21, Jeremiah 2:20

The symbol is taken from Jerusalem pictured as a harlot and a murderer of God’s faithful saints.

“Religious compromise necessitated in this kind of association is totally incompatible with the worship of the one true God, and so amounts to spiritual prostitution.” Thomas, Revelation 8–22, p. 284.

inhabitants of the earth . . See note on Revelation 12:12.

wine of her fornication . . The imagery does not describe actual and sexual sin but the intoxication of her selfish greed and spiritual unfaithfulness to God.

This prostitution has two primary aspects: (1) commercial alliances (cf. Tyre, Isaiah 23:13-18; and Nineveh, Nahum 3:4); and (2) political alliances which involved the contractual worship of the gods of the nations in the ratification ceremonies (cf. Jerusalem also called a harlot in Isaiah 1:21 and Jer. 3). Frequently this involved ritual prostitution. - Utley

Verse 3

Revelation 17:3

So he carried me away in the spirit . . In a vision John seemed to himself to be carried away, and the scene which he is about to describe was made to pass before him as if he were present.

This verb, ἀπήνεγκέν, carried away is used of angels at death of Lazarus in Luke 16:22; and in the ecstasy of Revelation 21:10, and here.

The angel-guide not only invites (δεῦρο), but carries the Seer away, transporting him to the scene of the vision. The verb is used of the ministry of angels at the moment of death (Luke 16:22 ,,, or during an ecstasy (as here and in Revelation 21:10): - CBSC

in the spirit . . A phrase used to introduce John’s visions Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 17:3; Revelation 21:10. It may be used by John as a transition of structure, or it may be used to continue to emphasize he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and thus this is inspired revelation.

John was transported by the Holy Spirit in a prophetic vision, as was Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:12; Ezekiel 11:24; cf. 2 Peter 1:21; Revelation 19:10). - ESVSB

The movement took place ν πνεύματι, i.e. in the sphere of the Seer’s spirit, impelled by the Spirit of God; cf. 1:10, 4:2, - Swete

into the wilderness . . The Holy Spirit transports John into the wilderness (a deserted, lonely, desolate wasteland), perhaps to give him a better understanding of the vision. - MSB

This may be (1) a metaphor of a place of safety (cf. Revelation 12:6, Revelation 12:14); (2) the idea of one coming out of the world system in order to view it objectively, or (3) an allusion to the ancient city of Babylon found in Isaiah 21:1-10, where it is a metaphor of judgment. - Utley

a woman sitting on a scarlet beast . . Scarlet - color of prostitution and wealth. The woman is riding the beast, the same beast as in Revelation 13:1. The beast carried her along but in the end he is the agent who brings God’s judgment upon her Revelation 17:16-17.

The high priesthood, the ruling counsil, and even the kings of Judah and Galilee servied at the pleasure of the Roman government.

The harlot (Babylon=Jerusalem) is pictured at the time when she was supported and carried along by Rome

beast ... seven heads and ten horns . . Since this beast is a seven-headed monster, there is no cogent reason against identifying it with the first beast in ch. 13, which is also inseparable from the seven-headed dragon of ch. 12. - EBCNT

Verse 4

Revelation 17:4

the woman . . The woman is described by her dress. cf. Jeremiah 51:7 it is the dress of a harlot. The cup is full of her sins for which she will have to drink of God’s wrath.

The woman is portrayed as a prostitute who has plied her trade successfully and become extremely wealthy. - MSB

... Jerusalem, "the faithful city become an harlot." It was a lurid picture of the spiritual condition of Jerusalem and all Judea. - Wallace

purple and scarlet . . Denotes royalty. nobility, wealth and luxury, cf Revelation 18:16-17.

Scarlet refers to immorality, or simply a metaphor for luxury, wealth, and opulence, cf. Revelation 18:12; Revelation 18:16. - Utley

precious stones and pearls . . Lavish ornamentation used for beautification (cf. Revelation 18:16). = FSB

precious stone . . Lit. stone, used, of course, collectively.- CBSC

adorned with god and precious stones and pearls -- Prostitutes often dress in fine clothes and precious jewels to allure their victims (cf. Proverbs 7:10). The religious harlot Babylon is no different, adorning herself to lure the nations into her grasp. - MSB

Both prostitute and bride are adorned in gold, jewels, pearls, and fine linen (cf. Revelation 18:16; Revelation 19:8; Revelation 21:18-21). Babylon’s apparel is opulent purple and scarlet, while the bride’s is bright, pure white. As the beast portrays the state’s power to coerce religious conformity through violence, so the prostitute symbolizes the seductive appeal of a worldly economic system driven by the quest of affluence and pleasure (Revelation 18:11-19). The disgusting brew that brims from her golden cup drives her lovers insane (cf. Jeremiah 51:7). - ESVSB

Dressed in queenly attire (Ezekiel 16:13; cf. Revelation 18:7), the woman rides the beast, swinging in her hand a golden cup full of her idolatrous abominations and wickedness. Note the contrast—beauty and gross wickedness. Her costly and attractive attire suggests the prostitute’s outward beauty and attraction (Jeremiah 4:30). - EBCNT

a golden cup . .[goblet] See Jeremiah 51:7 already quoted. We can hardly say that the cup serves her to drink the blood of saints and martyrs (v. 6), but it is meant to suggest that she is drunken and invites to drunkenness, as well as to uncleanness. - CBSC

The golden cup filled with wine alludes to Jeremiah’s description of Babylon’s world-wide influence in idolatry (Jeremiah 51:7). Her cup is filled with “abominable things” —things most frequently associated with idolatry, which was abhorrent to Jews and Christians alike (Revelation 21:27). - EBCNT

full of abominations and filthiness . . Still another evidence of the harlot’s great wealth (cf. Jeremiah 51:7); but the pure gold is defiled by the filthiness of her immorality. Just as a prostitute might first get her victim drunk, so the harlot system deceives the nations into committing spiritual fornication with her. - MSB

abominations . . Jesus used this word to refer to Daniel’s “abomination that causes desolation” standing in the temple (Mark 13:14 cf. Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11).

Verse 5

on her forehead . . It was common for prostitutes to wear wore headbands bearing their name, cf. Jeremiah 3:3.

Probably not branded on the flesh, but tied on as a label, as Roman harlots actually did wear their names. - CBSC

Seneca’s Controversies 1:2 and Juvenal’s Satires 6:122–123 record that Roman whores wore a band with either their own name or the name of their owner on their foreheads. - Utley

a name was written . . This harlot’s forehead bore a 3-fold name that was descriptive of her. 1) Babylon; 2) mother of harlots; 3) abomination.

a mystery . . Indicates a mysterious name -- one with a hidden meaning that require interpretation. - FSB

"Mystery". . is not part of the name, and should not be capitalized as in the KJV, but see the NASV, here. The name is a mystery name (i.e. hidden, or symbolic).

The mysterious name "Babylon..." secret, symbolic for JERUSALEM. (see Revelation 11:8)

Babylon the great . . The woman on the beast, all decked out as a harlot, wears a mysterious name, "Babylon", a name to hid or conceal what it symbolizes, but one of the several clues is Revelation 11:8.

mother of harlots . . Rather "of the harlots" and a source of the abominations. She is the chief of these.

the abominations of the earth . . see Revelation 17:4 for abominations.

Verse 6

the woman drunk . . "Babylon" had martyed prophets and apostles, Revelation 16:6; Revelation 11:18; as Jesus had charged, Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:47-51; Luke 21:20-22.

with the blood of the saints . . Whereas the prophets and saints are previously mentioned together (see Revelation 11:18; Revelation 16:6), they are separated here by the double occurrence of the Greek preposition ek (“with”). This may indicate that two different groups are in view: - FSB

drunken with the blood of the saints . . See PERSECUTION, TOPIC #3 Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:47-51; Luke 21:20-22

Acts 8:1 *Paul one of many persecutors. cf. Acts 9:1-2; Acts 9:29; Acts 12:1-3; Acts 22:4, Acts 22:20; Acts 26:10-11; 1 Thessalonians 2:15

cf. Stephen, James (brother of John), Peter, Paul (Acts 22)

The woman was envisioned as drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, in verse six. This not only referred to the fact that Jerusalem had slain the prophets as in Matthew 23:29-39; and been "betrayers and murderers," as charged by Stephen in Acts 7:52; and was the city "where also our Lord was crucified," as in Revelation 11:8; but it was her apostasies that had caused the persecutions which had overwhelmed the land, and Jerusalem was therefore responsible for the blood of the saints and the martyrs symbolized throughout the apocalypse. - Wallace

blood of the witnesses of Jesus . . The word μαρτύρων (μάρτυς = martys) "witnesses" or "martyrs".

John’s point is that the harlot is a murderer. False religion has killed millions of believers over the centuries - MSB

marveled with great amazement . . It was something awesome to see.

When John saw this adorned harlot sitting on the beast, he wondered with great admiration. The word wonder here means that the meaning had not yet been revealed, as it was done in the visions that followed. - Wallace

great admiration . . = great wonder, amazement, not approving what was done!

admiration . . Better, wonder, the substantive used being cognate to the verb. Of course “admiration” is not meant in the modern sense of the word. - CBSC

Verse 7

The MYSTERY to be explained to John.

the angel . . Angels often interpret key events in apocalyptic literature (e.g., Daniel 7:16; Daniel 8:15-16). - FSB cf. Zechariah 1:8-9 ff; Revelation 7:14

Wherefore didst thou marvel? . . Again the word should be wonder. For the angel’s surprise at the seer not comprehending at once, - CBSC cf. Revelation 7:14.

I will tell you the mystery . . The angel will explain the symbolic meaning of the harlot riding on the beast.

I will tell thee -- The “I” is emphatic: “I will tell thee, since thou findest it so strange.” - CBSC

In response to John’s amazement, the angel prepares him to understand the mystery (Revelation 17:8-14). - NLTSB

First the beast is described and identified (Revelation 17:7-8), then the seven heads (Revelation 17:9-11), the ten horns (Revelation 17:12-14), the waters (Revelation 17:15), and finally the woman (Revelation 17:18). John’s astonishment over the arresting figure of the woman on the beast is quickly subdued by the interpreting angel’s announcement that John will be shown the explanation of the divine mystery of the symbolic imagery of woman and beast. - EBCNT

the woman . . The woman (Jerusalem) and the sea-beast (Nero of the Roman empire). The beast is explained first Revelation 17:8-14; the woman is not defined til Revelation 17:18.

seven heads and ten horns . .The beast supplied the woman’s power and purpose. He had seven heads and 10 horns, which the angel explained later (vv. 9–10). - Constable

Verse 8

the beast . . Both a king and kingdom are referred to in this term. - MSB

In Revelation 13:18 he is described as a man, 666, Nero, as he represents the Roman empire, Revelation 15:2. - WG

was, and is not . . The beast that the woman was riding on, ie Rome, and as personified by Nero. He was, and is not .By the time of this judgment, Nero will have killed himself (in June A.D. 68) and plunged Rome into a struggle by men wanting to take his place.

Rome looked like she would die from her civil wars but did not. In Revelation 13:3 one of the heads (in the first context possibly Julius Caesar when he was assassinated) but here Nero, as he stands for Rome in general.

will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition . . The judgment on the beast is that he is kept in sheol/hades until the final judgment and then go into eternal perdition.

perdition . . Eternal destruction (cf. Revelation 17:11; Matthew 7:13; John 17:12; Philippians 1:28; Philippians 3:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 2:3; 2 Peter 3:7, 2 Peter 3:16). This is the lake of fire - MSB

those who dwell on the earth . . Those who are not in the Book of Life (probably referring to the vassal rulers and kingdoms) as they see the Roman empire survive the leadership struggle and emerge with Vespasian as the new Caesar.

will marvel -- (wonder, be astonished, be amazed) -- The world and it’s rulers wonder if somehow the Roman empire will survive this struggle for power after Nero’s death.

The wording "was, now is not, and will come" may imply to some that this letter may have been written just after Nero’s death, June AD 68, and just before a successor to him is evident to the world.

However it may also be prophetic in that John is carried into the future and sees this as it is happening in the future.

the Book of Life . . Revelation 3:5 The record of those who will inherit eternal life (Revelation 20:12; Exodus 32:32-34; Daniel 12:1). Eternal life is given to believers in Jesus (John 3:16-17). - FSB

from the foundation of the world . . cf. Titus 1:2; ("before time began"). A frequent phrase (Matthew 13:35; Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20) used to refer to God’s plan before the beginning to redeem those in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-7).

was, and is not, and yet is . . For a while, about a year, the vassal rulers didn’t know who to support or what the outcome of the civil war would be for Rome.

Four of Nero’s generals, Galba, Otho, Vitella, and Vespasian (who won out) fought to take the leadership of Rome after his death. It took Vespasian nearly a year to consolidate his position.

Verse 9

who has wisdom . . Some in the church who had the spiritual gift of "wisdom" would be able to tell the congregation (Revelation 1:4) definitively who was the beast of whom John spoke. (cf. Revelation 13:18, and 1 Corinthians 12:8)

The seven heads are seven hills . . The woman is sitting on a beast with seven heads. These "hills" or "mountains" are described in the next verse as "kings". In prophetic language kings and kingdoms are called mountains. cf. Daniel 2:44-45.

seven heads . . The seven heads of the beast also represent seven kings. - FSB

Since we are told in the next verse these "hills" are kings, why insist on taking to be literal and trying to find a city on seven hills to represent the beast? - WG

John’s use of numbers elsewhere in the book likewise argues against the Roman Empire identification. He has already shown a disposition for their symbolic significance—e.g., seven churches, seals, trumpets, bowls, and thunders; twenty-four elders; 144,000 sealed, etc. By his use of seven, he indicates completeness or wholeness. The seven heads of the beast symbolize fullness of blasphemy and evil. - EBCNT

seven mountains . . The reference to the seven mountains was not subject to a literal application any more than the literalizing of the woman. Mountains were ordinarily the symbols of the seats and positions of political and governmental authority, where power was concentrated.

And while that was true of Rome, surrounded literally by seven hills; it was true also that Jerusalem was the city where apostasy in the realm of religious power was concentrated; and Jerusalem was also surrounded by seven literal mountains: Zion, Acra, Moriah, Bezetha, Millo, Ophel and Antonio; all of which are mentioned in the history of Josephus in connection with the war against Jerusalem (Book 5, Section 5, 8). - Wallace

Verse 10

This verse is one of key verses to dating the composition of the book.

Dating Revelation:

KEY VERSE: Revelation 17:10

1. Julius Caesar 48 BC - 31 BC

2. Augustus 31 BC - AD 14

3. Tiberius AD 14 - AD 37

4. Caliguia AD 37 - AD 41

Vespasian was the general Nero sent to squelch the Jewish Rebellion. After Nero’s suicide, he returned to Rome and became Emperor and left his son Titus as commander to continue the conquest of the Jews and Jerusalem.

The "non-emperors" who strove to be Caesar after the death of Nero were the generals: Galba, (7 mo 7 da); Otho (2 mo 2 days) Vitella (8 mo 5 days) but Vespasian won out. It took him nearly a year.

Domitian AD 81 - 96

Trojan AD 98 - 117

seven kings . . The seven "hills" or "mountains" described in v.9 were seven kings.

And there are seven kings . . Rather, and they [the seven heads] are seven kings: - CBSC

five have fallen . . 1. Julius Caesar, 2. Augustus, 3. Tiberius, 4. Caliguia, 5. Claudius

one is . . Nero

the other has not yet come . . Vespasian

he must remain a while . . Vespasian ruled as Caesar for ten years.

v. 11 the eighth is of the seven . . Vespasian was succeeded by his son Titus, and Titus was followed by his brother Domitian who was also Vespasian’s son.

Note #1: Though Julius Caesar was the head of the Roman Republic, it merged into the empire; and the Roman emperors derived the official title Caesar from Julius.

There can be no reason in fact or history to justify omitting Julius from the count of the Caesars of Rome, and only the demands of a theory to provide a later date for Revelation has caused it to be done. - Wallace

Note #2: Some commentaries who try to make Revelation a prophecy about the fall or Rome say that Domitian who reigned AD 81-96 is the "seventh" Caesar. But the text specifically stated that the seventh had not yet come. It is difficult to account for a theory that fixes the chronology of Revelation in the latter part of the Domitian reign when he, the seventh, had not come.

Verse 11

the beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth . . Nero, who persecuted the Christians, and that was and is not, was followed one that was of the seventh (Vespasian) who was very much like Nero himself in persecuting Christians and being ruthless.

and is of the seven . . Two of the following Caesars were "of the seventh" since two of Vespasion’s sons followed, Titus and hiis brother Domitian (who many think murdered his brother Titus and because a wicked and ruthless ruler.

and is going to perdition . . Since Domitian was so sever in his punishment of Christians (so much like Nero) it may have been pointed out as the one who was really going into perdition for his crimes. (Though all would be!)

Vespasian reigned well and peaceably, and was succeeded by his elder son Titus, in June 79: who “continued a short space,” till Sept. 13th, a.d. 81, when he died, aged 40;—murdered, as some said, by his brother Domitian, who succeeded him, and who was regarded, by pagans and Christians alike, as a revival of Nero (Juv. iv. 38; Tert. Apol. c. 7). Like Nero, he persecuted the Christians: like Nero, he indulged in the most hideous vices: though unlike Nero, he had a strong sense of decorum, and was fanatically attached to the Roman religion. - CBSC

Verse 12

the ten horns . . Described as the ten kings or divisions ( or provinces, diocese) of the Roman Empire. This is an allusion to Daniel 7:23-24.

May stand for "all" the kingdoms subjected to Rome.

That they ARE kingdoms, see Revelation 17:17.

As though God made all these Gentile nations subject to Rome so they would be strong enough to fulfill this judgment against Jerusalem and be a "worldly" (all nations) judgment against the Jews.

ten horns … ten kings. Interprets “the mystery” of the beast’s horns in v. 7; alludes to Daniel 7:24. May designate the ten provincial governors of Rome, Rome’s client kings from conquered territories, or the symbolic power of “the kings of the earth” (v. Revelation 17:18; cf. Revelation 16:14). - NIVZSB

The ten horns are usually understood as either native rulers of Roman provinces or to governors of Palestine. - EBCNT

have received no kingdom as yet . . Kings without a real kingdom, because they only served at Rome’s pleasure. They are Roman tributaries who did not have independent rule but were contemporary subordinate rulers in the Roman Empire. (Among such were even Herod the Great, and all the Herods that followed, and of all the divisions of the Roman empire. etc.)

receive authority for one hour . . Their rule is short-lived.

Verse 13

of one mind . . They are united in their support of the Beast (the Roman ruler). Their single aim and common purpose here was the destruction of the harlot, Babylon (Jerusalem).

give their power and authority to the beast . . These worldly kings use their power and strength to the the purpose of the beast. That purpose is revealed in the next verse.

Josephus catalogs how many divisions of the empire came together in making the great army that invaded Galilee and then on to Judea and Jerusalem.

But unknown to them God is using them to fulfill His purpose, Revelation 17:17.

Verse 14

make war with the Lamb . . Their persecution of God’s saints is spoken of as a "war with the Lamb."

the Lamb will overcome . . Eventually the Lamb will win!

Whatever power they amass, the beast and ten kings (Revelation 17:11-12) have no hope of winning because Jesus is Lord of all lords (see Revelation 19:11-16). - NLTSB

Lord of lords and King of kings . . Almighty God is over all!

Lord of lords and King of kings . . A title for God (Revelation 19:16; 1 Timothy 6:15; cf. Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalms 136:3) that emphasizes His sovereignty over all other rulers to whom He has delegated authority. - MSB

King of kings . . A title sometimes used for earthly sovereigns (Ezra 7:12; Daniel 2:37); applied ultimately to God and Jesus (cf. Revelation 19:16; Daniel 2:47; Daniel 4:37; 1 Timothy 6:15). - EBCNT

those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful . . Refers to the whole people of God (Revelation 14:1-5).

called, and chosen, and faithful . . All common titles of Christians applied even to the imperfect Churches on earth. -CBSC

Verse 15

waters … peoples . . Interprets the symbol in Revelation 17:1 (cf. Jeremiah 51:13). Some compare Isaiah 8:7 for the use of waters as an emblem of multitudes.

The harlot and the beast she sat on were controlling the multitudes, nations, and tongues. Because of the dispersion Jews were scattered among the nations and often held the economic power of the nation.

waters . . In prophetic terms it speaks of people, multitudes, nations and tongues.

In the ancient Near East, water was a symbol of chaos and represented severe difficulty. - FSB

Verse 16

ten horns . . - the other nations who joined in with Rome against Jerusalem.

The gentiles nations in the Roman Empire hated Jerusalem and the Jews and joined with Rome in her destruction.

It is declared in verse sixteen that the kings of the empire, represented by the ten horns, hated the Harlot. This is solid proof that the harlot city was not Rome--assuredly the Roman kings did not hate the capital city of the Roman Empire. But they did hate Jerusalem and coordinated their efforts with the emperor to reduce it to the condition here described: - Wallace

desolate ... naked ... burn . . = Figuration and literal language of the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew 23:37-38; Luke 21:22; Luke 23:28-31

Babylon’s (Jerusalem, the harlot) former allies will turn against her. In doing so they are carring out God’s will.

This is an allusion to Ezekiel 16:39-40; Ezekiel 23:25-27; Ezekiel 28:18. - Utley

Verse 17

fulfill His purpose . . God uses even wicked nations to do his will.

Josephus also makes the point that he consider what happened to Jerusalem to be God’s punishment upon it for its wickedness (not necessarily what it had done to Christians, but its wickedness in general) and that God used the nations of the world (Rome’s army and mercenaries) to do this. Josephus, Wars,

John provides another reminder that God is in control; God puts a plan into the minds of the enemy that will fulfill the Lord’s divine purposes (e.g., Exodus 7:3; Exodus 35:31-35; Ezra 7:27; Romans 9:18, Romans 9:21). - NLTSB

God sovereignly uses even his enemies to carry out his purpose and fulfill his words, both for the salvation of his own people (Acts 2:23; Acts 4:24-28) and for the destruction of the enemies themselves. - ESVSB

In the declaration “God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose,” there is another indication of God’s use of the forces of evil as instruments of his own purposes of judgment (Jeremiah 25:9-14; cf. Luke 20:18). Nothing will distract them from their united effort to destroy the prostitute until God’s purposes given through the prophets are fulfilled (cf. Revelation 10:7; Revelation 11:18). - EBCNT

ten horns . . We see here each was a kingdom that supported Rome (the Caesar).

words be fulfilled . . The words prophesied about this. Jesus spoke at length giving warning in many parables and sermons., cf especially Matthew 24, Mark 13; Luke 21 & 22

Verse 18

the woman . . Is here identified as that great city (Babylon), Revelation 11:8; Revelation 14:8 ; Revelation 16:19 ,Revelation 17:18 ; Revelation 18:10 = Jerusalem.

great city . . Revelation 11:8; Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:18; Revelation 18:10 was Jerusalem.

The woman represents “the great city.” In the context this undoubtedly refers to Babylon. It is the only city referred to specifically in this chapter (Revelation 17:5; cf. Revelation 11:8; Revelation 14:8).

In Revelation 11:8 Jerusalem is called the great city under the symbols of Sodom and Egypt, hence the term "great city" has been a mystic designation for Jerusalem. In the history of Josephus, Volume 7 of Wars, Section 8, 7, the historical term "that great city" was applied to Jerusalem. This was both the historical and symbolic designation for Jerusalem. - Wallace

reigns over the kings of the earth . . The next chapter which goes into detail explains how she (Jerusalem) had power of the nations of the earth through her power in trade and banking, etc.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Revelation 17". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. 2021.