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Bible Commentaries

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation
Revelation 17

 

 

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Verse 1

Revelation 17:1

Revelation 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:

This was the fifth angel who poured the fifth vial upon the throne of the beast, { Revelation 16:10} who invited John to him, saying,

Come hither;

that Isaiah , to the place where he had the vision

of the great whore,

and her judgment from Almighty God revealed unto him, as he testified in this and Revelation 18:1-24 and Revelation 19:1-21. This great whore is called by name, mystery Babylon the great. { Revelation 17:5}

That sitteth upon many waters.

Which waters are expounded by the angel to the peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. { Revelation 17:15}


Verse 3

Revelation 17:3

Revelation 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

The angel carried him away not in the body, but in the spirit; that Isaiah , John was in a trance, as Peter was, { Acts 10:9-11} and Paul. { 2 Corinthians 12:2-3}

Into a wilderness;

that Isaiah , a place of retiredness, fit for contemplation, meditation, and Revelation , etc.

And I saw a woman,

the great whore. { Revelation 17:5} The whore of Rome. { Revelation 17:15; Revelation 17:18}

Sit upon a scarlet coloured beast

By this beast, we are to understand the Roman papal emperor with

seven heads and ten horns

Revelation 13:1-2. The kings in that empire who give their power, strength, and kingdom, to the beast of the eighth head with two horns like a Lamb. { Revelation 13:11-12}

A scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy

So described, because mystery Babylon the great hath, doth, and will shed the blood of the prophets, saints, martyrs, and witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ. { Revelation 16:6; Revelation 18:24} By the

names of blasphemy

we may understand those blasphemous words, reproachful speaking and sinful mockings, which the scoffers in these latter days utter and speak against religious persons, religion, the true worship, and worshippers of God, against God himself, Jesus Christ, and his church. { Romans 2:24; Acts 26:11; Titus 2:5; James 2:7}


Verse 4

Revelation 17:4

Revelation 17:4 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:

By these purple, and scarlet garments, decked with gold, pearls, and precious stones, wherewith this woman, the great whore was arrayed, we may understand the riches, pomp, and pride of the Roman papal church. { Judges 8:26; Ezekiel 27:7-10} And also, the

golden cup in her hand

signifies the whores allurements, and enticements of all sorts of persons, kings, people, and nations, unto her superstitious and idolatrous false worship, worshipping images, crucifixes, etc. For this golden cup is full of the abominations and filthinesses of the whores fornication and spiritual whoredoms; wherewith she makes them drunk, as with wine.


Verse 5

Revelation 17:5

Revelation 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

That every one, who observeth, may know the great whore, whom John saw in his vision; she hath her name written upon her forehead,

Mystery Babylon the great, etc.

By mystery, we are to understand the mystery of iniquity, { 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7} in opposition unto the mystery of Godliness, in the doctrine, worship, and power thereof.

Babylon the great

that Isaiah , the great whore, the Roman Papal Church, and

the mother of harlots

all national churches, parish churches, cathedral churches, provincial churches, etc, who own, acknowledge, and subject themselves to the ecclesiastical headship of the Roman hierarchy, pope, and papal prelacy, episcopacy, or presbytery.

And abominations of the earth

that Isaiah , all the abominations in the world are nourished and cherished, by the indulgences, pardons, and dispensations of the Pope and Church of Rome.


Verse 6

Revelation 17:6

Revelation 17:6 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.

This woman (called the great whore) is that great city, Rome, and the Roman monarchy, who in St. John's time reigned over the kings of the earth, whom John saw

drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.

Which words imply first, that she shed their blood, as. { Revelation 16:6}

Secondly, that she thirsted unsatiably after their blood, for she was

drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus,

as Revelation 11:7; Revelation 18:24.

Thirdly, that she thereby merited all that blood that God will give her to drink, { Revelation 16:5-7} for she is worthy, for in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that was shed upon the earth. { Revelation 18:24}

And when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.


Verse 7

Revelation 17:7

Revelation 17:7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

By wondering here, we may understand John's admiring, that which he did not understand the mystery of; and also his adoring the wisdom of God therein: And thereupon the angel said unto him,

I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and then horn,

{as Revelation 17:3}


Verse 8

Revelation 17:8

Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

In this verse the angel showed John the mystery of the beast, which he described to John , first, in his three-fold state and time,

he was, is not, and yet is.

Here is the mind that hath Wisdom of Solomon , { Revelation 17:9} to unfold the mystery of these three particular characters of the beast,

was, is not, and yet is.

First,

the beast which thou sawest was;

that is to say, the Roman state and kingdom was formerly (and even in St. John's time) that fourth monarchy and kingdom which was ordained of God, { Daniel 7:23-25; Romans 13:1; Romans 13:7} unto which Roman power, our blessed Saviour and his apostles and disciples were subject in all their civil sanction and authority for conscience sake, as being God's ordinance. Read Mark 12:17; Acts 25:10-11; Romans 13:3-7; 1 Peter 2:13-15; Titus 3:1.

And is not

God's ordinance of magistracy, for after the Roman pagan kingdom was broken, not only into two parts, the east and west empires, but divided into ten kingdoms or crowned horns; then the dragon, that old serpent, gave the beast his throne, power, and great authority, See KNOLLYS: Revelation 13:1 and See KNOLLYS: Revelation 13:2 so that the beast had his power, throne, and authority, from the devil, and not from God; and those ten kings gave their power, strength and kingdom to the beast, { Revelation 17:12-13; Revelation 17:17} and in this respect the beast is not God's ordinance of Magistry: Again, the beast is not; that is to say, he was not in being as the seventh head in John's time, { Revelation 17:10} for the Roman pagan Caesars (the sixth head) governed the empire when John writ this book. So that he is not, with respect of his kingship, as one of the seven heads or kings in John's time, for he was not yet come, but was to rise

out of the bottomless pit, {as Revelation 9:10-11; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:5} and is to go into perdition;

and { Revelation 17:11} Therefore he is called the Son of Perdition, and the Antichrist, { 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10}

And yet he is

of the seven heads or kings; that is to say, he is the seventh head or king; and he is also the eighth, { Revelation 17:11} as he is described Revelation 13:11 with two horns, that Isaiah , two fold kingly and supreme power, political and ecclesiastical. The Popes of Rome, with respect of their imperial and magisterial power over the emperors and kings of the Roman kingdom, are the seventh head or king: And the eighth head or king, with respect of their hierarchical and pontifical power. See my Treatise called Mystical Babylon unveiled, Printed1679. Pg5-10.

And they that dwell on the earth, etc.

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 8:13 and See KNOLLYS on Revelation 13:8" - See KNOLLYS: Revelation 13:7


Verse 9

Revelation 17:9

Revelation 17:9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

By wisdom here, we may understand the spirit of wisdom given of God, Ephesians 1:17; 1 John 5:20; Colossians 1:9 filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. By mountains here, we are to understand the seven hills on which old Rome was built. Durham on this verse, pg640 and Mystical Babylon unveiled, page2printed1679.


Verse 10

Revelation 17:10

Revelation 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one Isaiah , and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

Seven kings,

that Isaiah , seven kingly governments (by succession one after another) of the Roman Empire or fourth kingdom. Namely, first, kings, secondly, consuls, thirdly, decemvers, (decemvirs-a member of any of several permanent boards or special commissions of ten members in ancient Rome) fourthly, tribunes, fifthly, dictators; these five sorts were fallen, that Isaiah , past before John's time;

and one Isaiah ,

viz. Caesars, the sixth king.

The other is not yet come;

that Isaiah , the seventh head and king was not come in John's time; viz. the Pope of Rome.

And when he cometh, he must continue a short space

forty and two months, Revelation 13:5 that Isaiah , twelve hundred and sixty prophetical days. See the exposition of Revelation 11:2-3 and See KNOLLYS: Revelation 11:2 & See KNOLLYS: Revelation 11:3 and Revelation 12:6-12.


Verse 11

Revelation 17:11

Revelation 17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth (king of the Roman Empire,) and is of the seven,

as Revelation 17:8 see the exposition. See KNOLLYS: Revelation 17:8

And goeth into perdition.

He came out of the bottomless pit, { Revelation 13:1} and therefore called the angel of the bottomless pit, { Revelation 9:11} and called the king of the locusts. He is the Man of Sin and Son of Perdition. { 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:8}


Verse 12

Revelation 17:12

Revelation 17:12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

The sixth head, the Roman Caesars had

ten horns;

that Isaiah , provinces, and provincial legates, governors under them: But the seventh head, and eighth king of the Roman kingdom hath ten crowned horns; that Isaiah , ten kings and kingdoms under his dominion.

Which have received no kingdom as yet;

that Isaiah , in John's time, before the beast of the seventh head, the Pope of Rome, the eighth king did rise, and came to be king of kings, then

they receive power as kings one hour (at the same time) with the beast

of the seventh head, the eighth king. See KNOLLYS: Revelation 17:8


Verse 13

Revelation 17:13

Revelation 17:13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

These,

all these ten kings agree,

they have one mind, and shall give their power,

that Isaiah , they shall subject their monarchical and magisterial power to the hierarchical and pontifical power of the beast, in the exercise and execution thereof for him.

And strength,

that Isaiah , their military power, the power of the sword to execute his decrees, edicts, laws, and commandments. { Revelation 13:15-17} Therefore they are called his horns; for the Pope's kingdom is upheld by the regal power, and military strength of those ten kings who agree, and give their Kingdom to the beasts. {as Revelation 17:17}


Verse 14

Revelation 17:14

Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, 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.

By war (here) we may understand all kind of opposition, that the Popes of Rome, and the ten kings of the Roman Papal Empire can make against the Lamb; that Isaiah , the Lord Jesus Christ.

For he is Lord of lords, and King of kings,

1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16-19.

And they that are with him;

that Isaiah , his churches, ministers, and all the saints, who are called, and chosen, and faithful. { Revelation 19:11-14}

And the Lamb shall overcome them

Christ and his army shall overcome the beast, and the kings of the earth and their armies, Revelation 19:19; Psalm 149:6-9.


Verse 15

Revelation 17:15

Revelation 17:15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

Now the angel proceeds to tell John the mystery of the woman which he saw, { Revelation 17:3-6} whom the angel called the great whore that sitteth upon many waters, { Revelation 17:1} as he promised him, { Revelation 17:7} which waters

are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.


Verse 16

Revelation 17:16

Revelation 17:16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

These

ten horns

are expounded by the angel. { Revelation 17:12} (see the exposition of that verse See KNOLLYS: Revelation 17:12 ) to be ten kings.

These shall hate the whore,

that Isaiah , the Church of Rome; that Isaiah , the Popedom, the priesthood, and her false idolatrous worship.

And shall make her desolate and naked;

that Isaiah , they shall waste the Church of Rome, take away all her revenues, which the Pope, cardinals, abbots, friars, nuns, priests, and Jesuits, have in possession. They

shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire;

that Isaiah , they shall utterly ruin the City of Rome, the Church of Rome, and all national papal churches, by taking away all popish lands forever. See the exposition of Revelation 16:19-20. See KNOLLYS on Revelation 16:19 - See KNOLLYS: Revelation 16:18& See KNOLLYS: Revelation 16:20


Verse 17

Revelation 17:17

Revelation 17:17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

In this verse are three things to be observed and expounded. First, an act of God.

For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will.

Secondly, an act of the ten kings,

To agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast.

Thirdly, the limited time,

until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

By

the words of God

here, we are to understand, those words of prophecy written in this Book (touching the destruction of the great whore) shall be fulfilled, Revelation 16:1-21; Revelation 18:1-24; Revelation 19:1-21.


Verse 18

Revelation 17:18

Revelation 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

This

great city,

literally taken, is the city of Rome, as will appear in the exposition of the eighteenth chapter; See KNOLLYS: Revelation 18:1 [ff] and taken mystically, we may understand Babylon the great; that Isaiah , the whole Roman papal kingdom. { Revelation 18:16-21}

 


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Bibliography Information
Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 17:4". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-17.html.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
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