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SECOND OVERTHROW OF ANTICHRIST’S HARLOT.
1. Picture of the harlot mounted on the beast, Revelation 17:1-6.
1. And Antichrist’s capital has fallen; but antichrist himself is not dead nor imprisoned until Revelation 19:20; and his harlot still lives, and her destiny is not revealed until Revelation 17:16.
One of the seven angels For, doubtless, one of the destroyers is one of the best expounders of the destruction. Which of the seven is not clear, but perhaps the seventh, as the last and greatest.
The judgment John first shows the character and the sentence of judgment in Revelation 17:15-16.
Great whore On the question whether the harlot represents pagan Rome or the papal Church, Alford forcibly says: “The figure here used, of a harlot who has committed fornication with secular kings and peoples, is frequent in the prophets, and has one principal meaning and application, namely, to God’s Church and people, that had forsaken him, and had attached herself to others. In eighteen places out of twenty-one, where the figure occurs, such is its import, namely, in Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:1; Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 3:8; Ezekiel 16:15-16; Ezekiel 16:28; Ezekiel 16:31; Ezekiel 16:35; Ezekiel 16:41; Ezekiel 23:5; Ezekiel 23:19; Ezekiel 23:44; Hosea 2:5; Hosea 3:3-4, [Micah 1:7.] In three places only is the word applied to heathen cities, namely, in Isaiah 23:15-16, to Tyre, where, Revelation 17:17, it is also said, ‘She shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth;’ and in Nahum 3:4, to Nineveh, which is called the ‘well favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.’”
And here, we note, it appears that Israel, though a corrupt Church, was still a true Church, and the truly pious within her limits were heirs of salvation. She was, at her worst, better than heathendom. And so of Rome. And in regard to the better side of Rome, see our note 2 Thessalonians 2:9. There is no fair doubt that the Christian Church appears as a woman in Revelation 12:1. And the antithesis between the harlot of antichrist and the bride of Christ is very decisive. Note on Revelation 11:1.
Sitteth upon many waters Rome on the Tiber was not seated on many waters. It was more true of Babylon on the Euphrates. But Rome as a commercial power, especially with those nations subject to her power, was based upon many waters.
Fornication, the latter more deeply have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. Such was not a true picture of the relation of Rome to the kings and peoples of the world. She conquered them by force, and ruled them by equitable civilizing force, save when her own domination required injustice. In religious matters she stood aloof, and allowed each nation its own national superstition. She was no seducer or fornicator. These qualities belong to a later than pagan Rome.
IV. THE SEVEN TRUMPETS, Revelation 7:1 to Revelation 20:10.
Of the trumpets, the first four are mundane, or earthly; each of the four blasts draws down a judgment upon some creational point, as earth, sea, fountains and rivers; firmamental luminaries. It is the sins of men that draw down these bolts of wrath, rendering every point of creation hostile to our peace. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” (Genesis 3:17,) is the key-note. This sad status of humanity has existed through all past ages; but it is here represented to form a base from which the history of the renovation commences.
The first four the earthly trumpets are each brief as well as terrible; the spiritual, the fifth and sixth, expand into wider dimensions and rise to more spiritual interests; while the seventh trumpet rolls forth its series of events, through all the future scenes of retribution and redemption to the judgment.
3. Carried me away From the visional Jerusalem temple, where were the throne, the living four, and the twenty-four elders. These are resumed again at Revelation 18:1, as appears at Revelation 19:4.
Into the wilderness Where she has been driven by the downfall and desolation of her capital, Babylon. That this wilderness, or desert, is a typical image of a condition of deprivation or desolation is indicated by the fact that the same Greek word, in verb form, is used in Revelation 17:16 for desolate. Desolate now by the loss of her capital, the nations will yet make her both desolate and, richly arrayed though now she be, naked. Having lost the real organic power of despotism and persecution, she still can glorify herself in gorgeous apparel, pomps, and display, and make proud pretensions of infallibility and universal supremacy, but of even these costly attires the ten horns will finally strip her naked. Revelation 17:16. Alford, however, maintains that Babylon herself was in a wilderness, and that this woman is that Babylon. He argues, that in the Septuagint the chapter of Isaiah (Isaiah 21:9) from which the clause “Babylon is fallen” is quoted, is headed “The vision of the wilderness.” But Babylon is not there said to be “in the wilderness,” but the wilderness or “desert” is the region whence the vision sweeps in upon the conception of the prophet. It is incongruous to say that a city which was an empire in itself was in a wilderness. But we have a close analogy much nearer at hand. The woman of chapter 12 was driven from her high place into the wilderness; and so this harlot is driven from her fallen home into a parallel wilderness. And what makes this certain is the following parallelism: seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness. Revelation 17:1; Revelation 17:8.
the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain. Revelation 21:9-10.
This remarkable and certainly intentional parallelism fully proves that as the bride is a pure Church so the harlot must be a corrupt Church. Pagan Rome was no Church at all.
Beast The seven heads and ten horns worn both by the dragon of 12 and 13 identify this as the Roman beast of the latter chapter. Scarlet is the colour of popes, and especially cardinals; and Newton says, “The mules and horses which carry the popes and cardinals are covered with scarlet cloth, so that they may be properly said to ride upon a scarlet-coloured beast.” Wordsworth says, quoting the historian Platina, “Paul II. made it penal for any one to wear hats of scarlet except cardinals; and he gave them scarlet trappings for their mules and horses.”
4. Decked with gold and precious stones and pearls The pomp and glare, and lavish richness of the Romish equipage and worship, are notorious to all the world. The Italian historian Platina, quoted by Newton, says of Paul II: “In his pontifical vestments he outwent all his predecessors, especially in his regno or mitre, upon which he had laid out a great deal of money in purchasing, at vast rates, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, chrysolites, jaspers, unions, and all manner of precious stones, wherewith adorned, like another Aaron, he would appear abroad somewhat more august than a man, delighting to be seen and admired by every one.”
A golden cup in her hand And so it was said of ancient Babylon, Jeremiah 51:7: “The nations have drunken of her wine, therefore the nations are mad.”
Full of… filthiness… fornication Not wine alone is in her cup, but drugs and philters, and stimulants to fornication.
5. Upon her forehead… written By Roman custom professional harlots presented themselves to view with their names inscribed upon their persons. This harlot has a full and most significant inscription.
Mystery This word is at once a reminder of St. Paul’s “mystery of iniquity,” 2 Thessalonians 2:7. He mentions, indeed, a “mystery of godliness,” 1 Timothy 3:16. But, in contrast, here is a “mystery” of profound “iniquity,” of harlotry, spiritual and real; and of stupendous abominations. Of this mystery the present woman is the impersonation; it is her name; she is that Mystery. And, therefore, in unfolding her mystery, our interpreting angel must unfold her true character.
6. Saw the woman drunken She is plainly now drunken before his eyes. But he knows it is the drunkenness, not of wine, but of blood. She is like the warriors of savage tribes, who seek to inflame their courage by drinking the blood of their slain.
Wondered What so strange a phenomenon could mean; and the angel thereupon proceeds to explain.
The Rhemish note here says, (authorized by the pope:) “The Protestants foolishly expound it of Rome, for that there they put heretics to death, and allow of their punishment in other countries: but their blood is not called the blood of saints, no more than the blood of thieves, man-killers, and other malefactors: for the shedding of which, by order of justice, no commonwealth shall answer.”
2. Angel’s exposition of the Beast, Revelation 17:7-14.
The angel will now solve the mystery of this woman, whose name is Mystery.
8. And first he explains (Revelation 17:8-14) the beast, then (Revelation 17:15-18) the woman.
Bottomless pit Or sea, compare Revelation 13:1.
And yet is Better reading, And yet shall be. The other phrases of this verse will be explained at Revelation 17:10.
9. Here is Or rather, here let there be. To the interpreter who would solve what follows, let there be mind with wisdom.
The seven heads are seven mountains That Rome is here meant even the ablest champions of Popery admit, such as Bellarmine, Baronius, and Bossuet, as quoted by Dr. Wordsworth, in his “Lectures.” “St. John, in the Apocalypse,” says Cardinal Bellarmine, “calls Rome Babylon; for no other city except Rome reigned in his age over the kings of the earth, and it is well known that Rome was seated on seven hills.” “It is confessed,” says Cardinal Baronius, “that Rome is signified in the Apocalypse by the name of Babylon.” Bossuet says, “The features (in the Apocalypse) are so marked that it is easy to decipher Rome under the figure of Babylon.” Romanistic authors maintain either that pagan Rome only is meant, or that the prophecies, as applied to Christian Rome, are to be fulfilled at some future day.
10. Seven kings The mountains have a double import; physical, representing the hills on which Rome is founded, and political, representing kings, or, as in the words of Daniel’s prophecy, on which this is based, kingdoms. “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings,” that is, as the context shows, kingdoms. In the despotic East the King was the State. And a beast is never a king except as one with his kingdom.
Five are fallen To ascertain which these fallen kingdoms are, we note that the present beast, as stated in Revelation 13:2, comprised in himself leopard, bear, and lion, which are the beasts of Daniel, (Daniel 7:4-6,) traced in backward order. The present is, therefore, the “fourth beast, dreadful and terrible;” and Daniel’s four beasts, as explained in that chapter, given in his order, are Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. And this is the order of the same kingdoms as presented in Nebuchadnezzar’s image, in Daniel 2:0. And, previous to these, there were but two antichristic monarchies Egypt and Assyria.
One is The five fallen being EGYPT, ASSYRIA, BABYLON, PERSIA, and GREECE; the one that now is, is imperial ROME.
Not yet come Pontifical Rome. Hence, comparing ver.
8, the beast that was and is not, is imperial Rome, which expired with the last emperor, Augustulus, A.D. 475.
Is not yet come To imperial Rome succeeds papal Rome. The universal emperor ceased, and revived in the universal bishop. When, in the fifth century, the Roman empire succumbed to the flood of the northern barbarians, and the emperor no longer existed, Rome was left with little or no civil government. Then was the period when the imperial beast was and is not. After this the pope came into supremacy, and in due time became the substitute for the imperial Cesar. And that stupendous spiritual Roman empire, in far greater extent than the first secular empire, stands to the present hour.
On the subject of the revival of the dead imperial in the pontifical head, Elliott quotes from Vitringa two pertinent statements from papal writers of the papal era. The first is from Augustin Steuchus, librarian to the pope, who says: “The empire having been overthrown, unless God had raised up the pontificate, Rome, resuscitated and restored by none, would have become uninhabitable, and have become a most foul habitation thenceforward of cattle. But in the pontificate it revived as with a second birth; its empire not, indeed, equal to the old empire, but its form not very dissimilar; because all nations, from east and from west, venerate the pope not otherwise than they before obeyed the emperors.”
The second statement is from Flavius Blondus, a celebrated papal antiquarian writer in the sixteenth century, who says: “The princes of the world now adore and worship as perpetual dictator the successor, not of Cesar, but of the fisherman, Peter: that is, the supreme pontiff, the substitute of the aforesaid emperor.”
And hereby was fulfilled the ancient prediction that the “man of sin,” the antichrist in the temple of God, would not be revealed until the Roman emperor disappeared. See note on 2 Thessalonians 2:6.
The tiara, or triple crown worn by the pope, is a claim that he is emperor as well as pontiff. “It was,” says Baronius, “a mitre intertwined with a crown.” Pope Alexander III. first added the crown to the mitre; Boniface VIII. added a second crown in 1303; and Urban V. a third in 1362. Innocent III. wrote, in A.D. 1200, “In token of spiritual things is conferred upon me the mitre; in token of temporal things, the crown; the mitre for the priesthood, the crown for the royalty.” Again, “The mitre he uses always and every where; the crown not every where nor always, because The pontifical authority is both prior and worthier than the imperial.” This claim to the CESARSHIP exists and is asserted to the present day. To the Roman professors who refused to officiate under the king Victor Emmanuel, Pope Pius gave each a medal of himself, saying, “Receive in reward the image of that CESAR who stands before your eyes.”
Let it not be for one moment supposed that in these modern days, and in our own country, the popedom has in the least degree abated its claim to being God’s vicegerent on earth, entitled as such to the absolute obedience of every human being, and of all human governments, with the right of inflicting force and bodily punishment for disobedience. Though the name of God is less frequently applied to the pope, the attributes and authority of God were never more explicitly ascribed to him than at the present day. Whatever he judges, the Vatican decree declares, “It is not lawful for any one to judge concerning his judgment.” That decree declares that all are bound to obedience to him in all things, “not only that pertain to faith and morals, but in those things which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church diffused throughout the world.” Besides faith and morals, whatever the pope pleases to include under the head of church-government thereby becomes subjected to his absolute authority, the decisions of which, man must not question. Romish doctors may give opinions beforehand they may ingeniously interpret away, and, as it called “minimize” these claims but their statements are of no value, since it is the pope alone who has authority to pronounce upon their extent, and when he pronounces all doctors must be silent. And this authority rules men who are rulers, whether kings or presidents, even over their official action. If the pope make it the duty of the American president, as matter pertaining to “the government of the Church,” to execute all heretics, the president disobeys to the loss of his salvation, and under just law of being deposed from his office, and handed over to death.
Cardinal Manning expressly declared, in 1874, “The spiritual power knows, with divine certainty, the limits of its own jurisdiction, and it knows, therefore, the limits and the competence of the civil power. It is thereby, in matters of conscience and religion supreme.” “And power which is independent, and can alone fix the limits of its jurisdiction, and can thereby fix the limits of all other jurisdiction, is, ipso facto, supreme. But the Church of Christ, within the sphere of revelation, of faith and morals, is all this or is nothing, or worse than nothing an imposture and a usurpation that is, it is Christ or antichrist.” And as it is the pope that decides, above all questioning, what “faith,” “morals,” and “the government of the Church” include, so the pope is absolute over every thing over which he decides himself to be absolute. No allegiance to any sovereign can be more absolute; and when a Romanist in America swears, as he must in his oath of allegiance to our government, to renounce all foreign allegiance whatsoever, his oath is, by strictest logic, a perjury.
Hereby we see why it is that Rome determines to have absolute control of the education of the young wherever she can. It is to shape their minds to a complete subjection to the absolute authority of a foreign potentate, and render them ready executioners of the pope’s decisions. Such schools are therefore schools of treason. So far from making provision for their existence, they should be held as hostile to the existence of our free American government.
That in America the Romish doctrine is that the pope is entitled to control legislation, is declared in the Catholic World for July, 1870, a periodical published in New York, endorsed by the pope. “All legislation in harmony with the organic law is theocratic and divine. Since justice and our honour and dignity require that we should obey God and not man, we are compelled to ascertain his will. The finger of the pope, like the needle in the compass, invariably points to the pole of eternal truth, and the mind of the sovereign pontiff is as certain to reflect the mind and will of God as the mirror at one end of the submarine cable to indicate the electric signal made at the other.” That is, all legislation is to be subjected to the will of the pope as to the will of God.
And what Romanism includes under education is thus declared in the same article. “The supremacy asserted for the Church in matters of education implies the additional and cognate function of the censorship of ideas, and the right to examine and approve or disapprove all books, publications, writings, and utterances intended for public instruction, enlightenment, or entertainment, and the supervision of places of amusement. This is the principle upon which the Church has acted in handing over to the civil authority for punishment criminals IN THE ORDER OF IDEAS. It is the principle upon which every civilized government acts in emergencies, and it was asserted vigorously and unsparingly North and South during the recent revolution.” That is, the pope has the same, or even better, right to execute, or cause to be executed, a man for rebellion against himself, than the civil government for treason against itself. See Methodist Quarterly Review for 1870, p. 633.
He must continue a short space Or, a little while. As Alford well observes, the emphasis must be read upon continue, and the meaning be that of permanence. The others will have past, but he will stay awhile. The space must be measured by the scale of national history. Rationalistic commentators find in these seven kings the first seven Roman emperors. But, 1. John, after Daniel’s model, uses the word kings for kingdoms. See our note on Revelation 13:2 This beast expressly embodies the last three beasts of Daniel 7:0, and so the last three kingdoms of Daniel’s image. 2.
In order to explain the king that is, these commentators are obliged to falsify history, and make the Apocalypse be written in the reign of Nero. And this is followed by the further outrage of making John base his imageries on a whimsical superstition of the pagan populace. 3. Under this interpretation the Apocalypse no longer roundly and majestically closes the New Testament, as the standard prophecy, covering the new dispensation, it shrivels into insignificance, and is shaded with suspicions of imposture. It simply raises the old question of the reality of the supernatural.
11. And the beast Passing from the heads, our angel now considers the whole beast.
Was, and is not As the predicate, and yet is, (Revelation 17:8,) is omitted for abbreviation, this describes the beast through all his historic changes, from Egypt to Pontifical Rome. Each previous phase once was, then by fall is not, and then is in its successor, until the perdition. The beast, here, is the totality of the entire successional antichrist the whole composite beast.
He is the eighth The Greek article being omitted, it should read an eighth, that is, a sort of eighth. Not an eighth head, for there were, as the cut shows, but seven heads to the beast. Besides, the Greek adjective for eighth could not grammatically agree with head, being of different gender. The meaning is, that it is the beast, as a totality, which, forming a sort of eighth individuality, finally goeth into perdition. Not one head alone not merely all the heads but the entire beast is destroyed. With papal Rome the last head all the five or six inherited by and embodied in her namely, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, pagan Rome all go as one whole beast with her as antichristianities into perdition.
And is Or, consists or results of, or rather from, the seven. Counted as a single head he is but one of the seven; counted as the whole beast he is an eighth. The six profane empires, traceable through and beyond Daniel’s image, are all abolished in her; an abolition which does not, probably, imply the destruction of the peoples but of the SYSTEMS by which the nationalities are antichristian despotisms. When, by the power of divine truth and the blessed Spirit, rectitude reigns in every heart, governments of force, of tyranny, and of war, may cease. The inequalities of wealth even, based, as they largely are, upon the thriftlessness and vices of a large share of the community, may largely disappear. And the equalized distribution of the goods of life, with all the necessary reforms of society, according to the laws of a truly Christian social science, would prove the downfall of iron politics and despotisms.
12. Ten kings That is, kingdoms.
No kingdom as yet They exist, as yet, (that is, in John’s time,) as sections of the empire, and are not developed into nationalized independencies. But (will) receive power Or, become sovereignties.
One hour One season. The Greek word may signify a season of the year; a period of human life, as manhood; and in John 4:23, it covers the whole period of the duration of a spiritual christianity on earth. Alford insists that it shall here mean, literally, an hour; but how absurd to suppose that the concurrence of the nations with Rome should be precisely sixty minutes! The national magnitude of the matter requires a correspondent magnitude of the season.
With the beast For a period the European sovereignties will act in alliance with, and in obedience to, the Romish spiritual empire. The bishop of bishops will be king of kings. Though a large share of these ten kings have, since the Reformation, withdrawn from Romanism, yet Pius IX, in an address to the Italians, once said, “We three millions of subjects have two hundred millions of brethren of every language and of every nation.” Wordsworth.
13. One mind During that hour, or season, there shall be an unbroken unanimity. The nations will humbly give their power and strength unto the beast, as to the vicar of Christ and representative of God on earth.
14. Make war… the Lamb shall overcome They shall persecute the evangelical Church, slaughter pure Christians, and raise great religious wars, but the cause of freedom and true religion will finally prevail. This is the grand note of apocalyptic triumph.
King of kings See Revelation 19:16. The battle of Revelation 19:21 is not the battle of one day, but of centuries. Its initiation is here shadowed.
3. Exposition of the harlot, and her total destruction, Revelation 17:15-18.
15. Peoples… multitudes… nations… tongues Universal terms with the angel symbolic of the world-wide. Romanism claims to be catholic, that is, universal. She claims it as her proof of being a true Church. Cardinal Bellarmine asserts that the “first note of a true Church is the very same of the Catholic Church.” His fourth note, in words remarkably similar to the terms of this verse, is, “Amplitude, or multitude of believers. For a Church truly catholic ought not only to embrace all times, but all places, all nations, and races of all men.”
16, 17. When the hour of one mind has passed, and the victories of the Lamb have multiplied, a new turn shall come. The ten horns shall begin to hate the whore. Her capital having been destroyed, her power diminished, her deceptions refuted, and her character exposed, she will be made desolate and naked.
Eat her flesh The great body of her wealth and substance, of which the people have been robbed by false pretences, shall be appropriated to feed the poor.
Burn her with fire The penalty of incest, Leviticus 20:14, and of unchastity in a priest’s daughter, Leviticus 21:9. In this woman the harlot shall be burnt away and the bride of Christ shall appear in her place.
His will That she should be permitted to fill the measure of her iniquities.
The words of God The prophetic predictions, especially of Daniel 7:0.
These ten horns, or kingdoms, have a wonderful significance in prophecy. They first appear in the ten toes of Daniel’s image, proceeding from the Roman legs of the image. Then they are verified and enlarged, Daniel 7:7, as the ten horns growing from the head of the Roman beast, defined (ver. 33) as ten kings kingdoms to be developed out of the Roman empire. Next we have the ten horns (with the seven heads) of the pagan-Roman dragon. This is repeated in the papal-Roman beast, Revelation 13:1, reiterated Revelation 17:1, and here, Revelation 17:12, the ten horns are expressly defined as ten kings =kingdoms not yet organized, but which will come up from the Roman empire, and, first uniting with the Roman harlot, ultimately destroy her.
Looking into secular history for these ten nations, as emerging from the downfall of the old Rome, we are startled to find the constant tendency of the European nations to a decimal number. This is shown by earlier and later writers, Romish and Protestant. Elliott gives such lists by Jerome, Machiavelli, Bossuet, Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, and Bishop Newton. Elliott himself furnishes a list which seems preferable to any by his predecessors.
It stays within the Western Empire; it is posterior to the disappearance of the imperial power; it is made up of Teutonic governments; it contains a three which (in accordance with Daniel’s prophecy) impeded for awhile the growth of the power of the pope, but were finally abolished and made part of his patrimony. Elliott selects the year A.D. 531, and finds the following ten kingdoms on the platform of the Western Roman Empire: “the Anglo-Saxons; the Franks of Central, Allman Franks of Eastern, and Burgundian Franks of South-eastern France; the Visigoths, the Suevi, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, in Italy; the Bavarians, and the Lombards still ten in all.” Of these three were nigh and obstructive neighbours to the pope at Rome; namely, the Vandals in Corsica and Sardinia, the Ostrogoths in Central Italy, and the Lombards in Northern Italy. The Vandals and the Ostrogoths were conquered by the Eastern Emperor Justinian, erected into the Greek exarchate of Ravenna, and afterward given to the pope. Lombardy held out until the eighth century, an impediment to the papal power, when it was conquered by Charlemagne and given to the Roman See. These three kingdoms became “the patrimony of Peter.”
Elliott well notes that, in spite of frequent variations of number, ten has been the ever-recurring number of Europe ever since. To this effect he quotes Gibbon, Whiston, and Cunninghame. To these we may add that Schlegel, a convert to Romanism, in his “Philosophy of History,” (re-published by Appleton,) about forty years ago reckoned ten kingdoms as constituting the modern system of Europe.
But apocalyptic thought makes provisions for world-wide extensions as time advances. The local Jerusalem, symbolized as the true Church, becomes universal, and so Babylon, as the anti-Church. The Roman-papal beast expressly includes all the preceding anti-christianities in her descent to perdition. Note Revelation 17:11. As the apocalypse draws toward its close its geographical area seems to enlarge from the limits of the Roman empire to the entire surface of our globe. The “nations” of Revelation 19:15, and Revelation 20:3; Revelation 20:8, and “the kings of the earth” of Revelation 19:19, must be taken in their widest extension; and it is the whole human race of all ages that finally appears before the throne, Revelation 20:11. And we seem easily bridged over this enlarging process by the double meaning (specified in our Introduction) of the word “ten.” From its literal count of the nations of the Roman empire it may emerge into its symbolical universality, and become truly world-wide. In this full sense the people of America are of the ten nations. And all the peoples of both hemispheres are clearly included in “the nations” after the ten is dropped.
18. The woman… is that great city The harlot is Babylon, and Babylon is the beast, for all three are different aspects of the same one antichrist.
Yet the woman survives the city and the beast survives both, Revelation 19:20.
We refer the Babylon-symbol to the politico-ecclesiastical organism of this ever-enlarging antichristic system a system which finds its immediate symbol in Rome as the seventh head, but its inherited totality symbolized in the eighth. Note Revelation 17:11. It is secular and ecclesiastical CESARISM, which, essentially pagan and atheistic, usurps the place of the true King, and tyrannizes over the consciences and rights of mankind and subjects them to the despotism of antichrist.
The harlot symbol is that unity of corrupt doctrine with corrupt character and conduct once eminently belonging to the ancient Baal system, (see note on Revelation 2:20,) by which whoredom, united with dogma, became a common name for a false and corrupt religionism. This harlotry is a compound of false theology with a debauchery and depravation of mind and manners.
The organic combination falls first, has fallen, and is falling. Men are gaining freedom of conscience; and religious despotism, with its religious wars and inquisitions, is going down by force of right asserting itself. But the purification of thought and life, the banishment of false theology and of all practical depravities and vices, social and individual, is a later reformation. Its fullest earthly completion will not be attained till Satan himself is bound and banished, and the millennial reign is inaugurated.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29