Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 17:10

and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Horn;   Seven;   The Topic Concordance - Empires/world Powers;   Judges;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Antichrist;   Babylon;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Church;   Joy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Antichrist;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Perdition;   Revelation of John, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Antichrist;   Beast (1);   Revelation, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apocalypse;   King;   Numbers;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Babylon the Great ;   Horns;   Prophets, the;   Roman Empire;   Seventy Weeks of Daniel;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Babylon;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Antichrist;   Smith Bible Dictionary - An'tichrist;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Eschatology of the New Testament;   Nero;   Number;   Revelation of John:;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And there are seven kings - Και βασιλεις ἑπτα εισιν· They are also seven kings. Before, it was said, they are seven mountains; here, they are also seven kings, which is a demonstration that kingdoms are not here meant by mountains: and this is a farther argument that the seven electorates are represented by seven mountains, for though the sovereigns of these states ranked with kings, they were not kings: that is to say, they were not absolute and sole lords of the territories they possessed, independently of the emperor, for their states formed a part of the Germanic body. But the seven heads of the beast are also seven kings, that is to say, the Latin empire has had seven supreme forms of government; for king is used in the prophetical writings for any supreme governor of a state or people, as is evident from Deuteronomy 33:5, where Moses is called a king. Of these seven kings, or supreme forms of Latin government, the angel informs St. John: -

Five are fallen, and one is - It is well known that the first form of Latin government was that of kings, which continued after the death of Latinus 428 years, till the building of Rome, b.c. 753. After Numitor's decease the Albans or Latins instituted the form of a republic, and were governed by dictators. We have only the names of two, viz., Cluilius and Metius Fufetius or Suffetius; but as the dictatorship continued at least eighty-eight years, there might have been others, though their names and actions are unknown. In the year before Christ 665 Alba, the metropolis of the Latin nation, was destroyed by Tullus Hostilius, the third king of the Romans, and the inhabitants carried to Rome. This put an end to the monarchical republic of the Latins; and the Latins elected two annual magistrates, whom Licinius calls dictators, but who are called praetors by other writers. This form of government continued till the time of P. Decius Mus, the Roman consul; for Festus, in his fourteenth book, informs us "that the Albans enjoyed prosperity till the time of King Tullus; but that, Alba being then destroyed, the consuls, till the time of P. Decius Mus, held a consultation with the Latins at the head of Ferentina, and the empire was governed by the council of both nations." The Latin nation was entirely subjugated by the Romans b.c. 336, which put an end to the government by praetors, after it had continued upwards of three hundred years. The Latins from this time ceased to be a nation, as it respects the name; therefore the three forms of government already mentioned were those which the Latins had during that period which the angel speaks of, when he says, The beast which thou sawest Was. But as five heads, or forms of government, had fallen before St. John's time, it is evident that the two other forms of government which had fallen must be among those of the Romans; first, because though the Latin nation so called, was deprived of all authority by the Romans, yet the Latin power continued to exist, for the very conquerors of the Latin nation were Latins; and, consequently the Latins, though a conquered people, continued to have a Latin government. Secondly, the angel expressly says, when speaking to St. John, that one is, that is, the sixth head, or Latin form of government, was then in existence; which could be no other than the imperial power, this being the only independent form of Latin government in the apostolic age. It therefore necessarily follows, that the Roman forms of government by which Latium was ruled must be the remaining heads of the beast. Before the subjugation of the Latins by the Romans four of the Roman or draconic forms of government had fallen, the regal power, the dictatorship, the decemvirate, and the consular power of the military tribunes, the last of which was abolished about 366 years before the commencement of the Christian era; none of these, therefore, ruled over the Whole Latin nation. But as the Latins were finally subdued about 336 b.c., the consular government of the Romans, which was then the supreme power in the state, must be the fourth head of the beast. This form of government continued, with very little interruption, till the rising up of the triumvirate, the fifth head of the beast, b.c. 43. The dictatorship of Sylla and Julius Caesar could not be considered a new head of the beast, as the Latins had already been ruled by it in the persons of Cluilius and Fufetius. The sixth head of the beast, or that which existed in the time of St. John, was consequently, as we have already proved, the imperial power of the heathen Caesars, or the seventh draconic form of government.

And the other is not yet come - Bishop Newton considers the Roman dutchy, under the eastern emperor's lieutenant, the exarch of Ravenna, the seventh head of the beast. But this cannot be the form of government signified by the seventh head, for a head of the beast as we have already shown, is a supreme, independent form of Latin government; consequently the Roman dutchy cannot be the seventh head, as it was dependent upon the exarchate of Ravenna; and the exarchate cannot be the head, as it was itself in subjection to the Greek empire. The Rev. G. Faber has ascertained the truth exactly in denominating the Carlovingian patriciate the seventh head of the beast. That this was a supreme, independent form of government, is evident from history. Gibbon, in speaking of the patriciate, observes that "the decrees of the senate and people successively invested Charles Martel and his posterity with the honors of patrician of Rome. The leaders of a powerful nation would have disdained a servile title and subordinate office; but the reign of the Greek emperors was suspended, and in the vacancy of the empire they derived a more glorious commission from the pope and the republic. The Roman ambassadors presented these patricians with the keys of the shrine of St. Peter as a pledge and symbol of sovereignty, and with a holy banner, which it was their right and duty to unfurl in defense of the Church and city. In the time of Charles Martel and of Pepin, the interposition of the Lombard kingdom covered the freedom, while it threatened the safety of Rome; and the patriciate represented only the title, the service, the alliance, of these distant protectors. The power and policy of Charlemagne annihilated an enemy, and imposed a master. In his first visit to the capital he was received with all the honors which had formerly been paid to the exarch, the representative of the emperor; and these honors obtained some new decorations from the joy and gratitude of Pope Adrian I. In the portico Adrian expected him at the head of his clergy; they embraced as friends and equals; but in their march to the altar, the king, or patrician, assumed the right hand of the pope. Nor was the Frank content with these vain and empty demonstrations of respect. In the twenty-six years that elapsed between the conquest of Lombardy and his imperial coronation, Rome, which had been delivered by the sword, was subject, as his own, to the scepter of Charlemagne. The people swore allegiance to his person and family, in his name money was coined and justice was administered, and the election of the popes was examined and confirmed by his authority. Except an original and self-inherent claim of sovereignty, there was not any prerogative remaining which the title of emperor could add to the patrician of Rome." The seven heads of the beast are therefore the following: The regal power, the dictatorship, the power of the praetors, the consulate, the triumvirate, the imperial power, and the patriciate.

And when he cometh, he must continue a short space - The seventh form of government was only to remain a short time, which was actually the case; for from its first rise to independent power to its utter extinction, there passed only about forty-five years, a short time in comparison to the duration of several of the preceding forms of government; for the primitive regal government continued at least four hundred and twenty-eight years, the dictatorship was in power about eighty-eight years, the power of the praetors was in being for upwards of three hundred years, the consulate lasted about two hundred and eighty years, and the imperial power continued upwards of five hundred years.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And there are seven kings - That is, seven in all, as they are enumerated in this verse and the next. An eighth is mentioned in Revelation 17:11, but it is, at the same time, said that this one so pertains to the seven, or is so properly in one sense of the number seven, though, in another sense, to be regarded as an eighth, that it may be properly reckoned as the seventh. The word “kings” - βασιλεῖς basileis- may be understood, so far as the meaning of the word is concerned:

(a)literally, as denoting a king, or one who exercises royal authority;

(b)in a more general sense, as denoting one of distinguished honor - a viceroy, prince, leader, chief, Matthew 2:1, Matthew 2:3, Matthew 2:9; Luke 1:5; Acts 12:1;

(c)in a still larger sense, as denoting a dynasty, a form of government, a mode of administration, as what, in fact, “rules.”

See the notes on Daniel 7:24, where the word “king” undoubtedly denotes a “dynasty,” or “form of rule.” The notion of ruling, or of authority, is undoubtedly in the word, for the verb βασιλεύω basileuōmeans “to rule,” but the word may be applied to anything in which sovereignty resides. Thus it is applied to a king‘s son, to a military commander, to the gods, to a Greek archon, etc. See Passow. It would be contrary to the whole spirit of this passage, and to what is demanded by the proper meaning of the word, to insist that the word should denote literally kings, and that it could not be applied to emperors, or to dictators, or to dynasties.

Five are fallen - Have passed away as if fallen; that is, they have disappeared. The language would be applicable to rulers who have died, or who had been dethroned; or to dynasties or forms of government that had ceased to be. In the fulfillment of this, it would be necessary to find five such successive kings or rulers who had died, and who pertained to one sovereignty or nation; or five such dynasties or forms of administrations that had successively existed, but which had ceased.

And one is - That is, there is one - a sixth - that now reigns. The proper interpretation of this would be, that this existed in the time of the writer; that is, according to the view taken of the time of the writing of the Apocalypse (see Intro., section 2), at the close of the first century.

And the other is not yet come - The sixth one is to be succeeded by another in the same line, or occupying the same dominion.

And when he cometh - When that form of dominion is set up. No intimation is yet given as to the time when this would occur.

He must continue a short space - ὀλίγον oligonA short time; his dominion will be of short duration. It is observable that this characteristic is stated as applicable only to this one of the seven; and the fair meaning would seem to be, that the time would be short as compared with the six that preceded, and as compared with the one that followed - the eighth - into which it was to be merged, Revelation 17:11.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

and they are seven kings; the five are fallen, the one the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a little while.

And they are seven kings ... See under preceding verse for identification of these as seven successive world powers which persecuted God's people.

Five are fallen ... Please note that if the death of five successive emperors had been meant, the word would have been that "five are dead." "Fallen" is a ridiculous word for describing the death of Augustus Caesar; he did not "fall"; he died. This has no reference at all to the death of certain emperors, whether by suicide or other means. What is meant is that Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece, the first five successive heads of the beast, have passed from history as persecuting powers, or world empires.

The one is ... This, of course, is Rome, the great worldwide power when John wrote.

The other is yet to come ... Alas, there is to be another; and it will come just like all the others came, that is, after its predecessor has fallen, in this case, after the fall of Rome. The significance of this is that the seventh head (the Great Harlot) will not fully appear until after Rome has fallen. This makes it impossible to identify this seventh head as the emperor cult, Nero Redivivus, or any other such thing.

And when he cometh, he must continue a little while ... The entire Christian dispensation is meant by this. The word continue means remain; and Hendriksen declared that the emphasis is on remain."[41] "In the language of the Apocalypse, this entire gospel age is but a little while (Revelation 11:2,3; 12:6,14; 13:5)."[42] This dispensation is indeed only "a little while" as it relates to eternity and to all the things of God. Plummer also agreed that, "This short space (as in KJV) describes the remainder of the time of the world's existence."[43]

One thing that must commend this interpretation is the fact of its being in full and complete harmony with what is known, historically, to have happened since it was written. See more on this under Revelation 17:11.

[41] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 204.

[42] Ibid.

[43] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 417.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And there are seven kings,.... The Arabic version renders it, "who are seven kings"; and it should be rendered, as it is by the Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Ethiopic versions, "and they are seven kings"; that is, the seven heads signify seven kings also, for they have in them a double representation, first of seven mountains, and then of seven kings; by which are meant not seven ages of the world, as from Adam to Noah; from Noah to Abraham; from Abraham to David; from David to the Babylonish captivity; from the Babylonish captivity to Christ; from Christ to antichrist; and from antichrist to the end of the world; the five first of which were gone in John's time, the sixth was then in being, and when the seventh shall come it will continue for a short time: this is a foolish and absurd interpretation of the Papists, who make the beast to be the devil, and these his seven heads; whereas he rather is the head, or god of the world: nor are seven emperors of Rome intended, which are differently reckoned, according to the different times John is supposed to have had this revelation. Grotius, who is followed by Hammond, supposes this was written in the times of Vespasian, and reckons them thus; Clandius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, and Titus; the first five of these were dead in John's time, one was then, the sixth, Vespasian, the then reigning emperor, and the other, Titus, was yet to come to the empire; and when he came to it, continued but a short time, two years and two mouths: others, who more rightly judge that John wrote in Domitian's time, reckon them after this manner; Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, and Nerva; the first five of these were dead; Domitian was then living, and Nerva, the other that was to come and succeed him, reigned but a little while, not quite two years; but to this sense must be objected, that there were other emperors before either Galba or Claudius; and before John's time there were more than five fallen or dead; according to the first account, there must be nine dead, and according to the latter eleven; for before Claudius there were Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, and Caius: besides, if these were the seven heads of the beast, the beast must have been long ago without any head, and consequently must have expired; whereas it is still in being, and will be under the fifth, sixth, and seventh vials, which are yet to come; it will be at the battle of Armageddon, and will be taken then, and cast alive into the lake of fire; to which may be added, that the beast, in the form in which John now saw it, was not yet risen in the times of these emperors; but by the seven heads are meant so many forms of government which took place successively in the Roman empire, and were all of them idolatrous heads, as kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, tribunes, emperors, and popes; it being usual for any sort of governors, or governments and monarchies, to be called kings, Deuteronomy 33:5.

Five are fallen; or ceased, are no longer in being as kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, and tribunes; at least, the supreme power was not lodged in any bearing either of these names in John's time:

and one is; the Pagan emperors; an Heathen emperor, Domitian, then reigning, when John had this vision; and these continued to the opening of the sixth seal, which put an end to that succession, as Pagan, and till the woman brought forth the man child, or till Constantine's time:

and the other is not yet come; which some understand of the Christian emperors, who immediately succeeded the Pagan ones, and were another, and different from them, as to religion, though the form of government was the same, and were not another head; for they were not an idolatrous head, on which were names of blasphemy, but another king; for from the following verse it appears, that there are eight kings, and but seven heads, and therefore one of them should seem not to be a head; and these, when they came, continued but a short time in comparison of the Heathen emperors that reigned before them, and of the hope, or antichrist, who was to reign after them 1260 years; for they reigned not, put them all together, more than 150 years; and especially at Rome their stay was short, for Constantine removed from thence to Constantinople, in the nineteenth year of his empire. But these emperors, though in religion they differed from the others, yet their form of government and title were the same, and therefore must be included in the sixth head: according to some, Theodoricus the Ostrogoth, and his successors, are meant, who continued about an hundred years; others have thought that the exarchs of Ravenna, who rose up upon the destruction of the western empire, are intended, and who continued but a short time; but then these had not their seat at Rome, which it seems necessary each head of this beast should have; it is better, therefore, to understand this of the popes of Rome, the seventh and last head of the Roman empire; these were not yet come, in John's time, to their supreme dignity and authority:

and when he cometh he must continue a short space; forty two months, or 1260 days; that is, so many years, which, though a long time in itself, and in the account of man, yet with God, with whom a thousand years is as one day, and in comparison of the everlasting kingdom of Christ, and his people, it is but a short space; and so the reign of the beast, and of the ten kings with him, is said to be one hour, Revelation 17:12 and this is said for the comfort of the saints, and to keep up their faith and patience under their sufferings in antichristian states. Mr. Daubuz makes these seven heads, or kings, signified by seven mountains, seven capital cities, which by degrees came to belong to the Roman empire; as first Rome itself, the capital of Italy; next Carthage, the capital of Africa; then Aege, the capital of Macedonia; after that Antiochia, the capital of the east; then Augustodunum, the capital of the Gauls; and Alexandria, the capital of Egypt; five of these six, with the monarchies belonging to them, were fallen; one, or the first of them now, was the mistress of all; and the other seventh was to come, namely, Byzantium, or Contantinople, which continued not long. This passage is so interpreted, as also the seven heads, in Revelation 13:1 by this writer.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

18 And there are seven kings: 19 five are fallen, 20 and one is, 21 [and] the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

(18) The beginning of these kings or emperors is almost the same as the beginning of the Church of Christ, which I showed before in {See (Revelation 11:1) }. Namely from the 25th year after the passion of Christ, at which time the temple and church of the Jews was overthrown. In this year it came to pass by the providence of God, that that saying "The beast was, and is not" was fulfilled before the destruction of the Jews immediately following, came to pass. That was 809 years from the building of the city of Rome at which time John counted the emperors who had been, when he wrote these things, and foretells two others next to come: and with this purpose, that when this particular prediction of things to come should take effect, the truth of all other predictions in the Church, might be the more confirmed. God in ancient times mentioned this sign in the Law and Jeremiah confirmed it in (Deu. 18:1-22; (Jeremiah 28:8) ).

(19) Whose names are these: the first, Servius Sulpitius Galba, who was the seventh emperor of the people of Rome, the second Marcus Salvius Otho, the third Avlus Vitellius, the fourth, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, the fifth, Titus Vespasianus his son, of his own name.

(20) Flavius Domitian, son of the first Vespasian. For in the latter end of his days John wrote these things, as witnesses Irenaus; Lib. 5 adversus hareses.

(21) Nerua, The empire being now translated from the family of Flavius. This man reigned only one year, four months and nine days, as the history writers tell.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

there are — Translate, “they (the seven heads) are seven kings.”

five  …  oneGreek, “the five  …  the one”; the first five of the seven are fallen (a word applicable not to forms of government passing away, but to the fall of once powerful empires: Egypt, Ezekiel 29:1-30:26; Assyria and Nineveh, Nahum 3:1-19; Babylon, Revelation 18:2; Jeremiah 50:1-51:64; Medo-Persia, Daniel 8:3-7, Daniel 8:20-22; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 11:2; Greece, Daniel 11:4). Rome was “the one” existing in John‘s days. “Kings” is the Scripture phrase for kingdoms, because these kingdoms are generally represented in character by some one prominent head, as Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, Medo-Persia by Cyrus, Greece by Alexander, etc.

the other is not yet come — not as Alford, inaccurately representing Auberlen, the Christian empire beginning with Constantine; but, the Germanic-Slavonic empire beginning and continuing in its beast-like, that is, HEATHEN Antichristian character for only “a short space.” The time when it is said of it, “it is not” (Revelation 17:11), is the time during which it is “wounded to death,” and has the “deadly wound” (Revelation 13:3). The external Christianization of the migrating hordes from the North which descended on Rome, is the wound to the beast answering to the earth swallowing up the flood (heathen tribes) sent by the dragon, Satan, to drown the woman, the Church. The emphasis palpably is on “a short space,” which therefore comes first in the Greek, not on “he must continue,” as if his continuance for some [considerable] time were implied, as Alford wrongly thinks. The time of external Christianization (while the beast‘s wound continues) has lasted for centuries, ever since Constantine. Rome and the Greek Church have partially healed the wound by image worship.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Seven kings (βασιλεις επταbasileis hepta). This is another change in the symbolism. The identification of these seven kings is one of the puzzles of the book.

The five are fallen (οι πεντε επεσανhoi pente epesan). Second aorist active indicative of πιπτωpiptō with the αν̇an ending. Common for the downfall of kings (Ezekiel 29:5; Ezekiel 30:6; Isaiah 21:9, etc.). See 2 Samuel 3:38.

The one is (ο εις εστινho heis estin). The one when this vision is dated.

The other is not yet come (ο αλλος ουπω ηλτενho allos oupō ēlthen). Prophetic second aorist active of ερχομαιerchomai Charles takes this as the date of this “source” or part of the Apocalypse. But John could himself have used this language in the time of Domitian even if he was the one who had not yet come. The difficulty about counting these emperors is that Galba, Otho, Vitellius reigned so briefly that they hardly merit being included.

When he cometh (οταν ελτηιhotan elthēi). Indefinite temporal clause for the future, with οτανhotan and the second aorist active subjunctive of ερχομαιerchomai “whenever he comes.”

He must continue a little while (ολιγον αυτον δει μειναιoligon auton dei meinai). Swete takes this to be Titus, who died September 13, 81, after a short reign.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Are fallen ( ἔπεσαν )

Lit., fell. Constantly used in the Septuagint of the violent fall or overthrow of kings or kingdoms. See Ezekiel 29:5; Ezekiel 30:6; Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 50:15; Jeremiah 51:8.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

And they are seven kings — Anciently there were royal palaces on all the seven Roman bills. These were the Palatine, Capitoline, Coelian, Exquiline, Viminal, Quirinal, Aventine hills. But the prophecy respects the seven hills at the time of the beast, when the Palatine was deserted and the Vatican in use. Not that the seven heads mean hills distinct from kings; but they have a compound meaning, implying both together. Perhaps the first head of the beast is the Coelian hill, and on it the Lateran, with Gregory VII. and his successors; the second, the Vatican with the church of St. Peter, chosen by Boniface VIII. the third, the Quirinal, with the church of St. Mark, and the Quirinal palace built by Paul II. and the fourth, the Exquiline hill, with the temple of St. Maria Maggiore, where Paul V. reigned. The fifth will be added hereafter. Accordingly, in the papal register, four periods are observable since Gregory VII. In the first almost all the bulls made in the city are dated in the Lateran; in the second, at St. Peter's; in the third, at St. Mark's, or in the Quirinal; in the fourth, at St. Maria Maggiore. But no fifth, sixth, or seventh hill has yet been the residence of any Pope. Not that the hill was deserted, when another was made the papal residence; but a new one was added to the other sacred palaces. Perhaps the times hitherto mentioned might be fixed thus: - 1058. Wings are given to the woman1077. The beast ascends out of the sea1143. The forty-two months begin1810. The forty-two months end1832. The beast ascends out of the bottomless pit1836. The beast finally overthrown. The fall of those five kings seems to imply, not only the death of the Popes who reigned on those hills, but also such a disannulling of all they had done there, that it will be said, The beast is not; the royal power, which had so long been lodged in the Pope, being then transferred to the city.

One is, the other is not yet come — These two are remarkably distinguished from the five preceding, whom they succeed in their turns. The former of them will continue not a short space, as may be gathered from what is said of the latter: the former is under the government of Babylon; the latter is with the beast. In this second period, one is, at the same time that the beast is not. Even then there will be a Pope, though not with the power which his predecessors had. And he will reside on one of the remaining hills, leaving the seventh for his successor.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Seven kings; seven of the Roman emperors, according to the first of the two systems of interpretation referred to in the note upon v. 3, and the seven successive forms of the Roman government, according to the second.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 10. And there are seven kings] That is, kinds of government.

Five are fallen] Kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, tribunes.

One is] i.e. The heathen emperor.

And the other is not yet come] sc. The Christian emperors.

A short space] sc. At Rome; for Constantine soon translated the seat of the empire to Byzantium, calling it Constantinople, and left Rome to be the pope’s nest. (Zonaras.) The Emperor Constans, nephew to Heraclius, and after him, Otho, had some thoughts to set up again at Rome, but could not; that so the kingdom of the Church foretold by Daniel might there be seated, saith Genebrard: if he had said the kingdom of Antichrist foretold by John the divine, he had hit it.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 17:10. οἱ πέντε, εἷς, ἄλλος) The Article has a force relative to those seven, who are distributed into five, and one, and the other.— ὀλίγον, a short space) This extends as far as the hour, in which not the other by himself, but the ten kings reign with the beast, Revelation 17:12. The German Exegesis of the Apocalypse, and the Order of the times, contain a particular consideration of the times, but I wished to omit it in the Gnomon: and yet that theory so recurs that it even becomes wearisome. But if mathematicians, musicians, painters, and all artists, bestow pains upon the smallest subjects, and seek elegance in the smallest matters IN PARTICULAR, why should we not comply with prophecy showing itself most admirable in the smallest calculations? With respect to this also the works of THE LORD are exquisite [“sought out,” Engl. Vers.] דרושים, Psalms 111:2. But no μικρολογία and curiosity of man can exceed or come up to their minute nicety. In Erkl. Offenb. p. 1072, we made a kind of experiment in attempting to arrange the times of the woman with wings and of the beast; and those times are now much more plainly consolidated, reference being repeatedly made to Daniel. Wherefore to those things which I have said in reply to D. Lange, on ch. Revelation 13:1, Proposition 10, Observ. 29, I wish the following remarks to be added, without infringing that modesty and sobriety which I have often premised, until the event itself shall explain things which are still future.


The Termini.

A. Anno

1058. d. 2 Sept. fer. 4, The Woman obtains wings.


1077. d. 1 Sept. fer. 6, The Beast out of the sea.


1143. d. 25 Sept. fer. 7, Commencement of the xlii. months.


1810. d. 21 Mai. (new style 1 Jun.) fer. 7, End of the xlii. months.


1832. d. 14 Oct. fer. 2, Beast out of the bottomless pit; one hour.


1832. d. 22 Oct. fer. 3, Beast increased with the kingdom of the ten horns.


1836. d. 18 Jun. fer. 1, Beast vanquished.


The terminus, from which the particulars begin, being included and that which is subsequent being excluded:















31/7 8/7 9/7.


1 full.








22 2/7 1/7 8/7.





22 3/7 7/7 0/7.


1 nearly.





There are, altogether, 284,077½ days: there are 40,582½ weeks: there are 5797½ square weeks: there are 777 7/9 years: there are precisely 686 monads of Daniel (of which we shall speak presently).

First we will explain the Intervals, in the abstract; and afterwards the Termini, in the concrete.

Explanation of the Intervals.

The Interval A

comprises 19

years, wanting 1 day.


66 66/999

years, precisely.

The Interval C

comprises 666 666/999

years, precisely.


22 123/333

years, fully.



of a year, as nearly as possible.


3 218/333

years, fully.


conjointly 45 45/999

years, precisely.


111 1/9



777 7/9


The seventy weeks of Daniel contain 490 monads, which conjointly are 555 5/9 years, as we have shown in the Order of the Times, ch. 10. The same Intervals are in a remarkable manner transfused into monads and weeks of the same kind.

The Interval C contains precisely 588 monads of the same kind, which are 12 square weeks.

B and D, conjointly, contain 78 monads, without the excess of a day.

BCD are 666 monads (or 275,795 5/14 days, which do not run out 17 hours beyond the appendices of the days of the interval BCD), by a wonderful harmony. For the number of the beast is said to be 666, in that mode of expression, by which that number is taken not in one way only. See Erkl. Offenb. p. 742. Thus the number 666 comprises the first and the second Portion of the duration of the beast.

AEF, conjointly, are 20 monads, without the defect of a day.

ABDEF are 98 monads, which are two square weeks.

ABCDEF, conjointly, are precisely 686 monads, or two CUBE WEEKS.

The numbers, and periods, which are equal under the enigma of different numbers, in Daniel and in the Apocalypse, are wonderfully ductile and versatile, so that they are interchanged with one another in the most connected and easy manner, which is a strong argument of the truth.

Explanation of the Termini.

A. The woman becomes possessed of wings: the beginning of the 3½ times. See Erkl. Offenb. p. 646.

B. Of the ascent of the beast out of the sea, and of the very day, Sept. 1, we have treated at ch. Revelation 13:1, especially in Proposition 9. From that day is the previous flowing of the 666 2/3 years (see Erkl. Offenb. p. 1069), and that now hastening to its close. Before the completion of 5684 years from the creation of the world (see Ord. Temp. p. 300 [Ed. ii. p. 256]), or of 116 square weeks of years, there will be a possibility of estimating what must be expected before that close.

C. Of the power given to the beast for 42 months, and of the beginning of the months, we have treated at ch. Revelation 13:18, § 12. The same is the number of the beast, 666.

D. When the 42 months have elapsed, it does not therefore immediately follow that the beast is not; for even before those months he was. But yet under the vial of the fifth angel the kingdom of the beast becomes so obscured, that it is in greater difficulty than it was before the beginning of the 42 months. Therefore we shall have to notice, at the proper time, whether at the close of the 42 months that angel is then at length about to pour forth his vial upon the throne of the beast, or whether the beast is even forthwith about to carry the whore, while he himself is not. This Interval, in which the beast is not, is properly added to the Half-time [Semitempusculum], of which the Ordo Temp, treats, p. 318. [Ed. ii. p. 271.]

E. The one hour, during which the ten horns receive the kingdom together with the beast, we interpret as a prophetical hour, for this reason, because it precedes the thousand years, so called in their ordinary signification; but it may also be taken to signify the ordinary, natural hour, because, although it falls as yet upon the gloomy times of the beast, yet it falls immediately after the number of the beast. The matter is for the most part in uncertainty. See Erkl. Offenb. Ed. ii. pp. 146, 147, 889.

F. The ten kings, and the beast, as soon as they shall have given the kingdom to him, shall harass the whore. Rome was founded Anno 3960 Per. Jul. d. 29 Oct. (as Des-Vignoles teaches in his Chronology at the close), feriâ 2. From that time to Ann. Dion. 1832, Per. Jul. 6545 d. 20 Oct. fer. 1, the excess of the Julian year being taken away, there are precisely 2585 years, or 134,878 weeks and about 6 days, from that feria 2 to this feria 1. Or, Anno 3960 Per. Jul. d. 29 Oct. is feria 2. From that time to A.D. 1834 P.I. 6547 d. 20 Oct. fer. 3, the excess of the Julian year being taken away, there are 2587 years precisely, or 134,981 weeks, 1 day, 8. 2′0. 2″4 from that feria 2 to the end of feria 3 (of March). Comp. Zeugniss der Wahrheit, p. 207, etc. What Rome is about to experience on her birth-day after 90 years, they who shall then be alive may notice.

These two intervals, E and F, are most closely connected. The saints shall be given into the hands of the single horn, or, as those of Zurich interpret it, the appointing of times and of laws (so parallel are the words of Psalms 31:15) [shall be given into his hands], until A TIME AND TIMES AND A HALF-TIME [“the dividing of time”]: Daniel 7:25. The other king, when he is come, must continue A SHORT SPACE (Revelation 17:10). Concerning each passage we have conjectured many things in the treatise, Erkl. Offenb. p. 883. But a third passage assists us. The ten horns receive power as kings ONE HOUR with the beast, Revelation 17:12. The short space is the interval EF conjointly; for it comprises the whole continuance of the other king, in the third Portion of the time of the beast: E is the one hour: F has the residue of the former intervals, that is, 1335 days, and those ordinary days. These are immediately followed by the 1335 prophetical days of Daniel (which the Ordo Temp. p. 379 [Ed. ii. pp. 326, 327], proves to be the thousand years which are promised, Daniel 12:12); so that 1335 ordinary, wretched days, of waiting, i.e. of endurance, require to be understood; and 1335 prophetical, happy days, to be attained [ to be “come to,” Daniel 12:12], are expressed. The words, who waiteth, and shall attain to, the thousand days, have great force from the accents. The time, and times, and half a time of Daniel, coincide with the interval F, if they do not complete it: and I assent to Lange, that they are 31/2 years, but amounting to 1278 days, in accordance with the natural truth, and not to 1260 days, as he takes them, and that they are not 1333 1/3 days, which might have come into the mind. Now, by what means also are the 1278 days and the 1335 reconciled? I will not say that either number of days is 3 years, with פלג part or half, and not four years; inasmuch as even the interval F, either apart from, or with the addition of the interval E, agrees with the ancient Tradition which represents Antichrist as about torage 31/2 years. But in Daniel the action of the beast out of the bottomless pit seems to be beheld in the land of Israel: in the Apocalypse the beast out of the bottomless pit has first something to occupy him out of that land also.

My Table may be considered doubtful in some particular article: but within its own limits it is throughout corroborated by strong exegetical and historical arguments. Those things contained in the period of the six intervals which are less clearly defined from the Apocalypse, are defined from Daniel, as the being of the beast before the 42 months, and the non-being of the same, and the short space of the other king; and the 3½ times, which in Daniel were plainly expressed, the Apocalypse shuts up into that short space; again, that which had been represented in Daniel by the enigma of 1335 days, the Apocalypse declares in the plain words of the expression, a thousand years. Are all these things by chance? We do not affirm all things with equal confidence: but still we put forward all things, that posterity may have something to notice, and, in accordance with the result, may partly correct, and partly approve of them.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And there are seven kings; the seven heads do not only signify seven hills or mountains, but also seven kings, that is, (according to the best interpretation I meet with), seven forms of government which ruled Rome; the term kings, it Scripture, signifying rulers, whether the government was in single persons, or more, as Deuteronomy 33:5. Rome was governed:

1. By kings.

2. By consuls.

3. Tribunes.

4. Decemvirs.

5. Dictators.

6. Emperors that were pagans.

7. Emperors that were Christians.

Five are fallen; five of these were fallen, extinguishied before John’s time, viz. the government by kings, consuls, tribunes, decemvirs, dictators.

And one is; the government by pagan emperors was at that time in being.

And the other is not yet come; the government by Christian emperors was not yet in being.

And when he cometh, he must continue a short space; and when it came, it held but a little time before the bishops of Rome wrested the government of Italy out of their hands. This to me seemeth the most probable interpretation of this difficult text.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

семь царей Представители 7 великих империй (Египет, Ассирия, Вавилон, Мидо-Персия, Греция, Рим и империя антихриста). Ср. образное описание в Дан. 2:37-45.

пять пали, один есть, а другойКогда Иоанн писал, Египетская, Ассирийская, Вавилонская, Мидо-Персидская и Греческая империи уже не существовали; Римская продолжала быть, и империя антихриста еще не была создана. Когда она будет создана, то просуществует недолго (12:12; 13:5), а антихрист закончит свой путь в вечных муках (ст. 11; см. пояснение к ст. 8).

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Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

And there are seven kings; the seven heads signify also seven kings. This is understood by many as representing the seven forms of civil government which prevailed in Rome-kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, emperors, and the exarchate of Ravenna; for here, as in verse Revelation 17:12, a king denotes not an individual, but a succession of rulers.

Five are fallen; the first five of the above list; which are those enumerated by the historian Livy, as having existed in his day.

One is; the imperial form.

When he cometh; when the last king cometh, that is, the last form of government.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

The seven kings of verse ten were the imperial Caesars, of which Nero was sixth in succession from Julius. The seven mountains cannot be representative of the seven kings, since the text does not read they are seven kings, but "there are seven kings." The text further states that five are fallen, and one is and the other is not yet come. 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.

The seven kings, five of which had fallen, followed the count from Julius Caesar, the first-then, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, the five which had fallen-- and Nero, the sixth. He was referred to in the phrase and one is--that is, the reigning emperor. It is further stated that the other, or the seventh, is not yet.

The five Caesars had passed before John wrote this apocalypse; and Nero, the sixth Caesar, was reigning at the time Revelation was written. The apocalypse belonged to the Neronic period. Omitting quite properly the subordinates, or mock rulers, Domitian was the seventh Caesar; and the text specifically stated that he had not 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. The rectification of the traditional chronological error attached to the Book of Revelation will automatically correct the "future prophecy" theories so full of misconcepts.

The text stated that the seventh king, or emperor, must continue a short space--that is, the persecutions would not end with Nero, but would continue to be prosecuted in reigns of short duration of the successive emperors.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". 1966.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The seven kings are rulers over seven kingdoms. The prominent kingdom in John"s day that "is" was certainly the Roman Empire. The five most prominent world powers preceding Rome that had fallen are probably Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. [Note: Seiss, p393; cf. Ladd, p229; Walvoord, The Revelation . . ., p251; Alford, 4:710-11.] The Old Babylonian Empire may have been the first ( Genesis 10:8-10). The seventh kingdom that was yet to come and would remain a little while is the beast"s kingdom ( Revelation 13:3; Revelation 17:8). [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p298; Walvoord, The Revelation . . ., p254; Kelly, pp364-68.] All of these kingdoms have persecuted or will persecute God"s people (cf. Ezekiel 29-30; Nahum 3:1-19; Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 50-51; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 11:2-4). Another common view is that the number seven is symbolic and stands for the power of the Roman Empire as a whole. Some writers have interpreted the seven kingdoms as figuratively representing kings throughout history. [Note: E.g, Mounce, p315; Beckwith, pp704-8. Beale, p871.]

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Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 17:10. And they are seven kings. The heads are seven kings (not personal kings, comp. on chap. Revelation 13:2) or powers, the world-power being thus again regarded in the sevenfoldness of its unity. Every attempt to understand by these ‘kings’ Roman Emperors or Procurators, or Roman forms of government of any kind, is shattered either on the facts of the case, or on the extreme improbability of supposing that a book like the Apocalypse would enter into minute details of the internal government of heathen nations, or on the words actually employed by the Seer (comp. on the word ‘fallen’). Nor is there any real difficulty presented by the consideration that, if one of these ‘kings’ be not a person but the Roman power, then this power must be spoken of in a double character as one of the heads of the beast, and as the beast itself. There is nothing to prevent this; for, as the seven churches are one, so the seven heads are one, and each head is no more than a particular and necessarily limited manifestation of evil which is wider and deeper than itself. We have already seen too (on chap. Revelation 13:2) that in prophetic language ‘kings’ means kingdoms. The seven ‘kings’ mentioned are therefore seven world-powers, Egypt, Nineveh, Babylon, Persia, Graecia, Rome, and a power which is to follow the Roman now beheld tottering to its fall.

The five are fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come; and, when he cometh, he must continue a short while. The word ‘fallen’ is worthy of peculiar notice, for it does not signify mere passing away by such a peaceful death as befell some of those Roman Emperors who are often supposed to be referred to as the ‘seven kings.’ The word ‘is used in the Septuagint constantly, and in Daniel, of the violent fall, the overthrow, either of kings or of kingdoms: it is a word belonging to domination overthrown, to glory ruined, to empire superseded.’ Thus Egypt, Nineveh, Babylon, Persia, and Graecia had successively ‘fallen,’ having perished in the ‘blood that they had spilt.’ The sixth, described as ‘the one,’ is Rome: the seventh, spoken of as ‘the other,’ is not yet come.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet. The meaning of this is obscure. And perhaps it were better to own with St. Augustine that we do not know the meaning, than to advance suspicions and conjectures. But it is not improbable that by these seven kings may be understood the collection of kings, in what are called the seven ages of the world, from its creations to its consummation. The first age, is reckoned from Adam to Noe [Noah], and the deluge: the second age, from Noe to Abraham; the third, from Abraham to Moses; the fourth, from Moses to David; the fifth, from David to Christ. These five were past, and fallen, when St. John wrote. The sixth is, and is to last from Christ to antichrist. And another, the seventh, is not, being the time of antichrist, and only a short time. See Cornelius a Lapide on this verse. (Witham)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

there. Greek. they.

are fallen = fell.

and. Omit.

one = the one is. i.e. at this stage of the vision.

and. Omit.

other. The seventh. App-124.

not yet. Greek. oupo.

cometh = shall have come.

continue. See p. 1511 (abide).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

There are - or, 'they (the seven heads) are seven kings.' They are "mountains" (Revelation 17:9) in relation to the woman who sits on them; "kings" in relation to the beast of which they are heads.

Five ... one - `the five ... the one:' the first five are fallen (applicable not to forms of government, but to once powerful empires: Egypt (Ezekiel 29:1-21; Ezekiel 30:1-26), Assyria, Nineveh (Nahum 3:1-19), Babylon (Jeremiah 50:1-46; Jeremiah 51:1-64), Medo-Persia (Daniel 8:3-7; Daniel 8:20-22; Daniel 10:13; Daniel 11:2), Greece (Daniel 11:4). Rome was 'the one' existing in John's days. "Kings" stand for kingdoms, because these are represented in character by some one head, as Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, Medo-Persia by Cyrus, Greece by Alexander, etc. But Elliott, The seventh short-lived ruling head, next after the sixth in John's time, with the Asiatic DIADEM (cf. Revelation 17:1), not the Roman laurel crown, is the new quadripartite headship, instituted by Diocletian, which was short-lived, falling after thirty years by Constantine's victory. The new head, out of the cicatrice of the old amputated seventh, is pagan, though professedly Christian, the eighth, yet one of the seven in character, the second beast, the papacy with its two lamb-horns, the secular and the regular clergy(?).

The other is not yet come. Not as Alford, the Christian empire beginning with Constantine; but the Germanic-Slavonic empire beginning and continuing beastlike, i:e., HEATHEN for only "a short space." The time when "it is not" (Revelation 17:11), is while it is "wounded to death" with the "deadly wound" (Revelation 13:3). The Christianization of the northern hordes which descended on Rome is the wound to the beast, answering to the earth swallowing up the flood (pagan tribes) sent by the dragon to drown the woman (Revelation 12:15-16). The emphasis is on "a short space" (first in the Greek); not on (as Alford) "he must continue." The external Christianization (while the beast's wound continues) has lasted more than fourteen centuries, since Constantine. Rome and the Greek churches partially healed the wound by restoring image-worship.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(10) And there are seven kings. . . .—Better. They are seven kings: five (not “are fallen,” but fell, the one is, the other is not yet come; and when he shall come, he must continue a short time. It has been debated whether these kings are individual sovereigns, or forms of government, or kingdoms The last view is the one adopted in this Commentary. The wild beast belongs to no one age, but is a power which has risen in every age; the seven heads represent the successive culminations of the world-power. Our space is insufficient to discuss here the whole question. But the language here used and the passages in the earlier prophets, which may be called the parent passages of the present vision, favour the interpretation that great world-kingdoms are intended. The language favours this view. It is said that the “kings fell.” The word is the one which has been used for political catastrophe: the cities of the nations fell (Revelation 16:19); Babylon, it is cried, has fallen (Revelation 14:8). It suits the overthrow of empires, and is so used in the LXX.; to apply it to individual kings is to ask that it shall be equivalent to “they died.” It is to be noticed that the four beasts of Daniel (Daniel 7:3-8) are declared to be four kings (Revelation 17:17), but these kings are not individual kings, but represent kingdoms. (See Daniel 7:23). This brings us to the drift of the parent passage. Daniel saw four wild beasts rise from the sea; they represented the then great world-power Babylon, and its three successors, Persia, Greece, and Rome. This is a guide to us here, as most commentators admit; but two great world-powers had preceded Babylon, viz., Egypt and Assyria: these figure in the ancient prophecies as forces hostile to the righteous King. St. John, whose visions took the range of the world’s drama, could not see the representative of the ever rising spirit of worldly hostility to God’s chosen without seeing Egypt and Assyria included. The voices of Moses and Isaiah called to him across the centuries that in these the world principle of their day found its clearest and strongest manifestation. In various empires the world-power showed itself: in Egypt, the house of bondage (Exodus 20:2); in Assyria, that exalted herself against God (Isaiah 37:23); in Babylon, the hammer of the whole earth (Jeremiah 50:23); in Persia, and in Greece; and in succession these kingdoms fell, only to be succeeded by another—Rome. Five fell; the one is. But what is the seventh, the other who is not yet come? We must recall the appearance of the wild beast. It had seven heads and ten horns. Where were these ten horns? It seems generally admitted that they were all on the seventh head. The seventh head, which represents the seventh kingdom, or manifestation of the world principle which is described as not yet come, then, was different in appearance from the others. It was ten-horned. It had not the same unity of appearance as the others. Now the ten horns are explained as ten kings or minor powers (Revelation 17:12). The conclusion, therefore, is that the seventh head must be rather an aggregation of monarchies than a single universal empire. This agrees with Daniel’s prophecy that out of the fourth kingdom, which corresponds, as we have seen, with the sixth head of the wild beast here, ten kings should arise (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:23-24).

The seventh kingdom (the ten-horned head) it is said will, when it arises, continue a “short time.” The short time is probably the same as the “one hour” in Revelation 17:12, where the ten kingdoms, represented by the ten horns, receive power one hour with the wild beast.

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Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
Reciprocal: Isaiah 23:15 - one king;  Revelation 12:3 - seven heads;  Revelation 13:3 - one;  Revelation 13:12 - causeth;  Revelation 17:16 - the ten

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E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

In some previous verses and in verse12below the text plainly says the ten horns represent ten kings or kingdoms that were inferior units of the Roman Empire. Hence the seven kings of this verse must have another meaning, and I believe they refer to important men who were leaders in the affairs of state right in the capital city. It is merely a coincidence that the Lord had seven of those prominent men in mind which is also the number of the geographical hills or "mountains" that comprised the city of Rome. It is clearly shown in Roman history that leading men in the Empire often vied with each other for power and the vision shows such a conflict.

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Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

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.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation".

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 17:10. Five are fallen, one is, the other is still not come, and when he comes, he must abide a short time. Of the seven kings mentioned Jive belong to the period already past; and of the two others one appeared at the time then present on the stage of history, and the other had still not entered on it. The falling denotes the overthrow of the kingdoms; comp. ch. Revelation 18:2, "She is fallen, she is fallen, Babylon the great," ch. Revelation 14:8. The five kings or worldly kingdoms that had already fallen at the time of the Seer, are the kings of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece. The one that is, accordingly, must be the sixth great monarchy, the Roman, for it was this which was in existence at the time of the Seer. The being denotes here, not being simply by itself, but only in contrast to the being fallen, the being as king. Otherwise, a contradiction would be presented to Revelation 17:8; Revelation 17:11, where the not being of the beast is affirmed. With the beast the power also of this sixth head is broken. It was precisely this sixth head which received the deadly wound. Bengel: "This one king, however impotent he may be, is still not off the stage. If he indeed were not, the continued duration of the beast, from his ascending out of the sea to his precipitation into the lake of fire, would thereby be interrupted. The beast is no longer what it was, but it has still not gone into destruction. The one king does not stand as the five preceding kings stood before their fall; he is, as he even now can be, in the non esse of the beast, which was represented before." The Lord said, "I have overcome the world." In that lies the foundation of the difference between the one and the five.

When the other is come, then the sixth falls, that is now the king of Rome. But from the statement made respecting the seventh, that he shall abide but a short time, we infer, that with the one then being it was likely to continue still a pretty long time, and that by means of it the church should be for a considerable period exercised in patience.

That the kings are ideal persons, there can for this reason be no doubt, that the seventh king is represented here in Revelation 17:12 as a compound of ten kings. He has not yet come, because his time has not yet arrived, (John 7:8; comp. 7:6, 8:20). When it is said that he shall remain only a short time, the subject is not the continuance of the seventh generally, but the duration of the seventh power as a God-opposing one. To the declaration here, "he must abide a short time," corresponds in Revelation 17:12 the statement," as kings they receive power one hour with the beast." How an end is put to his abiding is represented in ch Revelation 19:11, ss.

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Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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. 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, 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.




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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 17:10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.