Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 17:3

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Blasphemy;   Colors;   Horn;   Idolatry;   Seven;   Thompson Chain Reference - Scarlet;   The Topic Concordance - Empires/world Powers;   Judges;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Horns;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Antichrist;   Babylon;   Scarlet;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Babylon;   Horn;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Holy Spirit;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Church;   Joy;   Order;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Antichrist;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Abomination of Desolation;   Antichrist;   Marriage;   Number;   Revelation of John, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Babel;   Crimson;   Horn;   Prostitution;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Antichrist;   Revelation, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Antichrist ;   Apocalypse;   Blasphemy ;   Clothes;   Colours;   Holy Spirit (2);   Horn ;   Numbers;   Sin (2);   Trade and Commerce;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Babylon the Great ;   Head;   Horns;   Prophets, the;   Scarlet;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Babylon;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Fornication;   Horn;   Scarlet;   Wilderness;   Wormwood;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Blasphemy;   Color;   Horn;   Nero;   Number;   Worm;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness - This wilderness into which the apostle was carried is the desolate state of the true Church of Christ, in one of the wings of the once mighty Roman empire. It was a truly awful sight, a terrible desert, a waste howling wilderness; for when he came hither he: -

Saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns - No doubt can now be entertained that this woman is the Latin Church, for she sits upon the beast with seven heads and ten horns, which has been already proved to be the Latin empire, because this empire alone contains the number 666. See on Revelation 13:18; (note). This is a representation of the Latin Church in her highest state of antichristian prosperity, for she Sits Upon the scarlet coloured beast, a striking emblem of her complete domination over the secular Latin empire. The state of the Latin Church from the commencement of the fourteenth century to the time of the Reformation may be considered that which corresponds to this prophetic description in the most literal and extensive sense of the words; for during this period she was at her highest pitch of worldly grandeur and temporal authority. The beast is full of names of blasphemy; and it is well known that the nations, in support of the Latin or Romish Church, have abounded in blasphemous appellations, and have not blushed to attribute to themselves and to their Church the most sacred titles, not only blaspheming by the improper use of sacred names, but even by applying to its bishop those names which alone belong to God; for God hath expressly declared that he will not give his glory to another, neither his praise to graven images.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-17.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

So he carried me away in the spirit - In vision. He seemed to himself to be thus carried away; or the scene which he is about to describe was made to pass before him as if he were present.

Into the wilderness - Into a desert. Compare the notes on Revelation 12:6. Why this scene is laid in a wilderness or desert is not mentioned. Prof. Stuart supposes that it is because it is “appropriate to symbolize the future condition of the beast.” So DeWette and Rosenmuller. The imagery is changed somewhat from the first appearance of the harlot in Revelation 17:1. There she is represented as “sitting upon many waters.” Now she is represented as “riding on a beast,” and of course the imagery is adapted to that. Possibly there may have been no intentional significancy in this; but on the supposition, as the interpretation has led us to believe all along, that this refers to papal Rome, may not the propriety of this be seen in the condition of Rome and the adjacent country, at the rise of the papal power? That had its rise (see the notes on Daniel 7:25 ff) after the decline of the Roman civil power, and properly in the time of Clovis, Pepin, or Charlemagne. Perhaps its first visible appearance, as a power that was to influence the destiny of the world, was in the time of Gregory the Great, 590-605 a.d. On the supposition that the passage before us refers to the period when the papal power became thus marked and defined, the state of Rome at this time, as described by Mr. Gibbon, would show with what propriety the term “wilderness” or “desert” might be then applied to it.

The following extract from this author, in describing the state of Rome at the accession of Gregory the Great, has almost the appearance of being a designed commentary on this passage, or is, at anyrate, such as a partial interpreter of this book would desire and expect to find. Speaking of that period, he says (Decline and Fall, 3:207-211): “Rome had reached, about the close of the sixth century, the lowest period of her depression. By the removal of the seat of empire, and the successive loss of the provinces, the sources of public and private opulence were exhausted; the lofty tree under whose shade the nations of the earth had reposed was deprived of its leaves and branches, and the sapless trunk was left to wither on the ground. The ministers of command and the messengers of victory no longer met on the Appian or Flaminian Way; and the hostile approach of the Lombards was often felt and continually feared. The inhabitants of a potent and peaceful capital, who visit without an anxious thought the garden of the adjacent country, will faintly picture in their fancy the distress of the Romans; they shut or opened their gates with a trembling hand, beheld from the walls the flames of their houses, and heard the lamentations of their brethren who were coupled together like dogs, and dragged away into distant slavery beyond the sea and the mountains.

Such incessant alarms must annihilate the pleasures, and interrupt the labors of a rural life; and the Campagna of Rome was speedily reduced to the stale of a dreary wilderness, in which the land is barren, the waters are impure, and the air is infectious. Curiosity and ambition no longer attracted the nations to the capital of the world; but if chance or necessity directed the steps of a wandering stranger, he contemplated with horror the vacancy and solitude of the city; and might be tempted to ask, Where is the Senate, and where are the people? In a season of excessive rains, the Tiber swelled above its banks, and rushed with irresistible violence into the valleys of the seven hills. A pestilential disease arose from the stagnation of the deluge, and so rapid was the contagion that fourscore persons expired in an hour in the midst of a solemn procession which implored the mercy of Heaven. A society in which marriage is encouraged, and industry prevails, soon repairs the accidental losses of pestilence and war; but as the far greater part of the Romans was condemned to hopeless indigence and celibacy, the depopulation was constant and visible, and the gloomy enthusiasts might expect the approaching failure of the human race. Yet the number of citizens still exceeded the measure of subsistence; their precarious food was supplied from the harvests of Sicily or Egypt; and the frequent repetition of famine betrays the inattention of the emperor to a distant province. The edifices of Rome were exposed to the same ruin and decay; the mouldering fabrics were easily overthrown by inundations, tempests, and earthquakes; and the monks who had occupied the most advantageous stations exulted in their base triumph over the ruins of antiquity.

“Like Thebes, or Babylon, or Carthage, the name of Rome might have been erased from the earth, if the city had not been animated by a vital principle which again restored her to honor and dominion. The power as well as the virtue of the apostles resided with living energy in the breast of their successors; and the chair of Peter, under the reign of Maurice, was occupied by the first and greatest of the name of Gregory. The sword of the enemy was suspended over Rome; it was averted by the mild eloquence and seasonable gifts of the pontiff, who commanded the respect of heretics and barbarians.” Compare Revelation 13:3, Revelation 13:12-15. On the supposition, now, that the inspired author of the Apocalypse had Rome, in that state when the civil power declined and the papacy arose, in his eye, what more expressive imagery could he have used to denote it than he has employed? On the supposition - if such a supposition could be made - that Mr. Gibbon meant to furnish a commentary on this passage, what more appropriate language could he have used? Does not this language look as if the author of the Apocalypse and the author of the Decline and Fall meant to play into each other‘s hands?

And, in further confirmation of this, I may refer to the testimony of two Roman Catholic writers, giving the same view of Rome and showing that, in their apprehension also, it was only by the reviving influence of the papacy that Rome was saved from becoming a total waste. They are both of the middle ages. The first is Augustine Steuchus, who thus writes: “The empire having been overthrown, unless God had raised up the “pontificate,” Rome, resuscitated and restored by none, would have become uninhabitable, and been a most foul habitation thenceforward of cattle. But in the pontificate it revived as with a second birth; its empire in magnitude 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 emperor.” The other is Flavio Blondas: “The princes of the world now adore and worship as perpetual dictator the successor not of Caesar but of the fisherman Peter; that is, the supreme pontiff, the substitute of the aforesaid emperor.” See the original in Elliott, 3:113.

And I saw a woman - Evidently the same which is referred to in Revelation 17:1.

Sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast - That is, either the beast was itself naturally of this color, or it was covered with trappings of this color. The word “scarlet” properly denotes a bright red color - brighter than crimson, which is a red color tinged with blue. See the notes on Isaiah 1:18. The word used here - κόκκινον kokkinon- occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Matthew 27:28; Hebrews 9:19; Revelation 17:3-4; Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16 - in all which places it is rendered “scarlet.” See the Matthew 27:28 note and Hebrews 9:19 note. The color was obtained from a small insect which was found adhering to the shoots of a species of oak in Spain and Western Asia. This was the usual color in the robes of princes, military cloaks, etc. It is applicable in the description of papal Rome, because this is a favorite color there. Thus it is used in Revelation 12:3, where the same power is represented under the image of a “red dragon.”

See the notes on that passage. It is remarkable that nothing would better represent the favorite color at Rome than this, or the actual appearance of the pope, the cardinals, and the priests in their robes, on some great festival occasion. Those who are familiar with the descriptions given of papal Rome by travelers, and those who have passed much time in Rome, will see at once the propriety of this description, on the supposition that it was intended to refer to the papacy. I caused this inquiry to be made of an intelligent gentleman who had passed much time in Rome - without his knowing my design what would strike a stranger on visiting Rome, or what would be likely particularly to arrest his attention as remarkable there; and he unhesitatingly replied, “The scarlet color.” This is the color of the dress of the cardinals - their hats, and cloaks, and stockings being always of this color.

It is the color of the carriages of the cardinals, the entire body of the carriage being scarlet, and the trappings of the horses the same. On occasion of public festivals and processions, scarlet is suspended from the windows of the houses along which processions pass. The inner color of the cloak of the pope is scarlet; his carriage is scarlet; the carpet on which he treads is scarlet. A large part of the dress of the body-guard of the pope is scarlet; and no one can take up a picture of Rome without seeing that this color is predominant. I looked through a volume of engravings representing the principal officers and public persons of Rome. There were few in which the scarlet color was not found as constituting some part of their apparel; in not a few the scarlet color prevailed almost entirely. And in illustration of the same thought, I introduce here an extract from a foreign newspaper, copied into an American newspaper of Feb. 22,1851, as an illustration of the fact that the scarlet color is characteristic of Rome, and of the readiness with which it is referred to in that respect: “Curious Costumes - The three new cardinals, the archbishops of Thoulouse, Rheims, and Besancon, were presented to the president of the French Republic by the Pope‘s nuncio. They wore red caps, red stockings, black Roman coats lined and bound with red, and small cloaks.” I conclude, therefore, that if it be admitted that it was intended to represent papal Rome in the vision, the precise description would have been adopted which is found here.

Full of names of blasphemy - All covered over with blasphemous titles and names. What could more accurately describe papal Rome than this? Compare for some of these names and titles the notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Timothy 4:1-4; and notes on Revelation 13:1, Revelation 13:5.

Having seven heads and ten horns - See the notes on Revelation 13:1.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-17.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness: and I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness ... "A wilderness" is here significant. Plummer, Alford, and others have pointed out that our version (ASV) is incorrect in changing this from "the wilderness" as in KJV.[23] It is not merely "a wilderness," but "the wilderness" of the church's probation that is meant. This strongly supports the view of the harlot as the apostate church. This wilderness scene is that of a violated probation.

A woman upon a scarlet-colored beast ... "We should identify this beast with that in Revelation 13:1. The woman's position indicates a close connection and identifies her as one of the forces of evil supported by the beast."[24] "It would be foolish to underestimate her. Even John finds himself marveling (Revelation 17:7)."[25]

[23] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 414.

[24] Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 20, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), p. 205.

[25] Michael A. Wilcock, op. cit., p. 160.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

So he carried me away in the spirit,.... Not in body, as if he was removed from the isle of Patmos to some other place; but in a visionary way, just as Ezekiel was carried between earth and heaven, in the visions of God, to Jerusalem, Ezekiel 8:3. It was represented to the mind of John, to his spirit, or soul, as if he had been taken up by the angel and carried through the air:

into the wilderness; by which may be meant either the wilderness of the people, the world, the church hereafter described, being a worldly one, and consisting of worldly men; or Gentilism, the Gentile world is often in the prophecies of the Old Testament called a wilderness; the Romish church having much of Heathen worship, and Heathen customs and practices in it, hence its votaries are called Gentiles, Revelation 11:2 or this circumstance may be mentioned, and the thing so represented to John, because that a wilderness is a solitary place, and fit for retirement and meditation; and where he might, without any interruption, take a full view of the following sight, and make proper observations upon it; and it is worth notice, that this is the place where the true church and became out of sight, in the room of which this apostate church appears: or, as others have thought, John is had into the wilderness, where the true church was hid and nourished, and the false one is there shown him, that seeing both together, he might compare them, and observe the difference between them; to all which may be added, that a wilderness is a fit place for such a beast as hereafter described to be seen in:

and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast; the beast is the same with that in Revelation 13:1 as the description shows, and is no other than the Roman empire as Papal; the "scarlet" colour is expressive of its imperial dignity, its power and authority, it received from the dragon; and also of this beast's cruelty and tyranny, and of its shedding the blood of the saints: the woman sitting upon it is the great city of Rome, as is manifest from Revelation 17:18 or the Romish antichrist, the apostate church of Rome, represented by a woman, as the true church is, Revelation 12:1 but in a very different form, and is the same with the second beast in Revelation 13:11 and the false prophet; and as the two beasts respect the same, under different considerations, namely, the Papacy, in its civil and ecclesiastic capacity, so this strange phenomenon, a woman sitting on such a beast, means one and the same thing as the horse and his rider in the seals, though in different views; the woman designs the Romish church, with the pope at the head of it, and the beast the Roman Papal empire as civil, by which the former is supported and upheld, bore up on high, and exalted in the manner it has been: moreover, as purple and scarlet are the colours of garments wore by the pope, and cardinals, hence the woman in the next verse is said to be "arrayed in purple and scarlet colour", so even the very beasts on which they rode were covered with scarlet. PlatinaF8De Vitis Pontiticum, p. 312. says that Pope Paul the Second

"ordered by a public decree, on pain or punishment, that no man should wear a scarlet cap but cardinals; to whom also, in the first year of his popedom, he gave cloth of the same colour, to put upon their horses and mules when they rode; and besides, would have put into the decree, that the cardinals' hats should be of scarlet silk:'

upon which Du MaulinF9Defence of the Catholic Faith, &c. c. 3. p. 38. makes this remark;

"Pope Paul the Second was the first that gave scarlet to the cardinals, as well for themselves as for their mules, to the end that this prophecy, which agreeth in general with the see of Rome, might likewise appertain particularly to everyone of the pillars of the said see, which is to be set upon a "scarlet coloured beast".'

It follows,

full of names of blasphemy: that is, the beast, or Roman Papal empire, was full of them; in Revelation 13:1 a name of blasphemy is said to be upon his head, and he to have a mouth speaking blasphemy; but here his whole body is represented as full of them, and may refer to the blasphemous doctrines of worshipping of images, of pardons and indulgences, of transubstantiation, &c. and to the multitude of images, of the virgin Mary, and other saints, in the antichristian state, in every part of it; and to those blaspheming persons, the cardinals, priests, and Jesuits, which abound in it; as well as to those blasphemous names and titles which are given to the pope, the head of it, or assumed by him; such as God on earth, the vicar of Christ, the head, and husband, and foundation of the church, with many others:

having seven heads, and ten horns: the seven heads are the seven mountains, on which the city of Rome, the metropolis of the empire, is seated; and the seven kings, or seven forms of government, under which it has been, as appears from Revelation 17:9; see Gill on Revelation 13:1 and the "ten horns" signify the ten kings over the ten kingdoms, into which the empire was divided, when overrun by the Goths and Vandals; and which ten kings gave their kingdoms to the beast, the Romish antichrist; they gave their strength and power to him, being of his religion, and have been his horns, his defenders and supporters, ever since, as may be gathered from Revelation 17:12.

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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-17.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(3) Henceforth is propounded the type of Babylon, and the state of it, in four verses. After, a declaration of the type, in the rest of this chapter. In the type are described two things, the beast (of whom chapter thirteen speaks), in this verse and the woman that sits on the beast in (Revelation 17:4-6). The beast in process of time has gotten somewhat more than was expressed in the former vision. First in that it is not read before that he was apparelled in scarlet, a robe imperial and of triumph. Secondly, in that this is full of names of blasphemy: the other carried the name of blasphemy only in his heads. So God teaches that this beast is much increased in impiety and injustice and does in this last age, triumph in both these more insolently and proudly then ever before.

(b) A scarlet colour, that is, with a red and purple garment: and surely it was not without cause the romish clergy were so much delighted with this colour.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-17.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

the wilderness — Contrast her in Revelation 12:6, Revelation 12:14, having a place in the wilderness-world, but not a home; a sojourner here, looking for the city to come. Now, on the contrary, she is contented to have her portion in this moral wilderness.

upon a scarlet  …  beast — The same as in Revelation 13:1, who there is described as here, “having seven heads and ten horns (therein betraying that he is representative of the dragon, Revelation 12:3), and upon his heads names (so the oldest manuscripts read) of blasphemy”; compare also Revelation 17:12-14, below, with Revelation 19:19, Revelation 19:20, and Revelation 17:13, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 17:16. Rome, resting on the world power and ruling it by the claim of supremacy, is the chief, though not the exclusive, representative of this symbol. As the dragon is fiery-red, so the beast is blood-red in color; implying its blood-guiltiness, and also deep-dyed sin. The scarlet is also the symbol of kingly authority.

full — all over; not merely “on his heads,” as in Revelation 13:1, for its opposition to God is now about to develop itself in all its intensity. Under the harlot‘s superintendence, the world power puts forth blasphemous pretensions worse than in pagan days. So the Pope is placed by the cardinals in God‘s temple on the altar to sit there, and the cardinals kiss the feet of the Pope. This ceremony is called in Romish writers “the adoration.” [Historie de Clerge, Amsterd., 1716; and Lettenburgh‘s Notitia Curiae Romanae, 1683, p. 125; Heidegger, Myst. Bab., 1, 511, 514, 537]; a papal coin [Numismata Pontificum, Paris, 1679, p. 5] has the blasphemous legend, “Quem creant, adorant.Kneeling and kissing are the worship meant by John‘s word nine times used in respect to the rival of God (Greek, “{proskunein}”). Abomination, too, is the scriptural term for an idol, or any creature worshipped with the homage due to the Creator. Still, there is some check on the God-opposed world power while ridden by the harlot; the consummated Antichrist will be when, having destroyed her, the beast shall be revealed as the concentration and incarnation of all the self-deifying God-opposed principles which have appeared in various forms and degrees heretofore. “The Church has gained outward recognition by leaning on the world power which in its turn uses the Church for its own objects; such is the picture here of Christendom ripe for judgment” [Auberlen]. The seven heads in the view of many are the seven successive forms of government of Rome: kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, emperors, the German emperors [Wordsworth], of whom Napoleon is the successor (Revelation 17:11). But see the view given, see on Revelation 17:9, Revelation 17:10, which I prefer. The crowns formerly on the ten horns (Revelation 13:1) have now disappeared, perhaps an indication that the ten kingdoms into which the Germanic-Slavonic world [the old Roman empire, including the East as well as the West, the two legs of the image with five toes on each, that is, ten in all] is to be divided, will lose their monarchical form in the end [Auberlen]; but see Revelation 17:12, which seems to imply crowned kings.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-17.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

He carried me away (απηνεγκεν μεapēnegken me). Second aorist active indicative of αποπερωapopherō to bear away, prophetic aorist. This verb is used of angels at death (Luke 16:22) or in an ecstasy (Revelation 21:10 and here).

In the Spirit (εν πνευματιen pneumati). Probably his own spirit, though the Holy Spirit is possible (Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 21:10), without Paul‘s uncertainty (2 Corinthians 12:2). Cf. Ezekiel 3:14.; Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 11:24.

Into a wilderness (εις ερημονeis erēmon). In Isaiah 21:1 there is το οραμα της ερημουto horama tēs erēmou (the vision of the deserted one, Babylon), and in Isaiah 14:23 Babylon is called ερημονerēmon John may here picture this to be the fate of Rome or it may be that he himself, in the wilderness (desert) this side of Babylon, sees her fate. In Revelation 21:10 he sees the New Jerusalem from a high mountain.

Sitting (κατημενηνkathēmenēn). Present middle participle of κατημαιkathēmai as in Revelation 17:1. “To manage and guide the beast” (Vincent).

Upon a scarlet-coloured beast (επι τηριον κοκκινονepi thērion kokkinon). Accusative with επιepi here, though genitive in Revelation 17:1. Late adjective (from κοκκοςkokkos a parasite of the ilex coccifera), a crimson tint for splendour, in Revelation 17:3, Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16; Matthew 27:28; Hebrews 9:19.

Full of names of blasphemy (γεμοντα ονοματα βλασπημιαςgemonta onomata blasphēmias). See Revelation 13:1 for “names of blasphemy” on the seven heads of the beast, but here they cover the whole body of the beast (the first beast of Revelation 13:1; Revelation 19:20). The harlot city (Rome) sits astride this beast with seven heads and ten horns (Roman world power). The beast is here personified with masculine participles instead of neuter, like τηριονthērion (γεμονταgemonta accusative singular, εχωνechōn nominative singular, though some MSS. read εχονταechonta), construction according to sense in both instances. The verb γεμωgemō always has the genitive after it in the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:6, Revelation 4:8; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 17:4; Revelation 21:9) save here and apparently once in Revelation 17:4.

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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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-17.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Sitting

To manage and guide the beast.

A scarlet-colored beast

The same as in Revelation 13:1. This beast is ever after mentioned as τὸ θηρίον thebeast. For scarlet, see on Matthew 27:6.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-17.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

And he carried me away — In the vision.

Into a wilderness — The campagna di Roma, the country round about Rome, is now a wilderness, compared to what it was once.

And I saw a woman — Both the scripture and other writers frequently represent a city under this emblem.

Sitting upon a scarlet wild beast — The same which is described in the thirteenth chapter. Revelation 13:1-18 But he was there described as he carried on his own designs only: here, as he is connected with the whore. There is, indeed, a very close connexion between them; the seven heads of the beast being "seven hills on which the woman sitteth." And yet there is a very remarkable difference between them, - between the papal power and the city of Rome. This woman is the city of Rome, with its buildings and inhabitants; especially the nobles. The beast, which is now scarlet-coloured, (bearing the bloody livery, as well as the person, of the woman,) appears very different from before. Therefore St. John says at first sight, I saw a beast, not the beast, full of names of blasphemy - He had' before "a name of blasphemy upon his head," Revelation 13:1: now he has many. From the time of Hildebrand, the blasphemous titles of the Pope have been abundantly multiplied.

Having seven heads — Which reach in a succession from his ascent out of the sea to his being cast into the lake of fire.

And ten horns — Which are contemporary with each other, and belong to his last period.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-17.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

A scarlet-colored beast. The description of this beast is very similar to that of the one mentioned Revelation 13:1-7. The seven heads here named are afterwards explained as the seven mountains on which the woman sitteth, (Revelation 17:9;) and the woman is, in Revelation 17:8, said to represent a great city. Now, as it has been one of the most characteristic distinctions of Rome, in all ages, that it was built upon seven hills, commentators have generally been agreed that Rome is intended by this symbol. Some, however, suppose that Pagan Rome, and others that Papal Rome, is meant. Protestant writers generally give it the latter interpretation.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-17.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 3. Into the wilderness] Whither the true Church fled, Re. xii., of which they must be (saith one) that can learn to know the Romish Church to be a whore, condemned of God.

I saw a woman] {See Trapp on "Revelation 17:1"}

Sit upon] Not going afoot, as Christ and the apostles did, but magnificently mounted, as the pope is ever, either upon a stately palfrey (emperors holding his stirrup) or upon men’s shoulders. England was once called the pope’s ass, for bearing his intolerable exactions. This ass he held by the ears instead of a bridle.

Upon a scarlet coloured beast] The proper colour of the court of Rome; and it well serves to set forth their pomp and their hypocrisy. Innocent IV gave a red hat to his cardinals, to show them (as he said) that they should be ready to shed their blood for the truth. But that painter was nearer the point, who being blamed by a cardinal for colouring the visages of Peter and Paul too red, tartly replied, that he painted them so as blushing at the stateliness and sinfulness of his successors.

Full of names of blasphemy] His head only before was busked with the blasphemy, Revelation 13:1, now his whole body. Thus evil men and seducers grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, 2 Timothy 3:13.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-17.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. That St. John was not in one continued ecstasy, but at several times in the spirit, that is, in an ecstasy or rapture of mind, wherein his outward senses being bound up, his understanding was fixed and raised up to the contemplation of divine objects, represented to him in the vision. A spiritual frame of mind is requisite for discerning the visions of God: He carried me away in the spirit.

Observe, 2. The place whither St. John was carried, and where he saw the following vision, namely, in the wilderness; He carried me away into the wilderness; a place of privacy, say some, where he might discern things undisturbedly and undistractedly. Solitude is fittest for contemplation. A wilderness, say others, was the fittest place to see that church in a vision, which was itself a wilderness; the apostolical church before was driven into the wilderness; here the apostate church follows her, as an harlot succeeding to a faithful city.

Observe, 3. The vision itself, I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet- coloured beast, &c. The woman here is the same with her that was called whore, Revelation 17:1. namely, idolatrous Rome; she is represented as a woman richly and splendidly arrayed, with her wealth and riches, with her pomp and power, enticing the world to her idolatry, called so often whoredom and spiritual fornication; and the golden cup in her hand is an allusion to harlots, who with their philters, or enchanted cups, do allure and provoke men to sensual satisfaction; in like manner doth Rome by her outward splendour allure, and by other specious pretences and means draw persons to idolatries and superstitions.

Note lastly, The name written on her forehead, to wit, Mystery, Babylon the Great; that is, not literal, but mystical Babylon, the great city of Rome, the mother of idolatry, the pattern of cruelty, the patroness of all impiety; and propagating all these by her power and policies, who calls herself the mother church, but is indeed the mother of harlots, and of all manner of abominations; that is, of abominable doctrines and practices.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-17.html. 1700-1703.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 17:3. ἔρημον, wilderness) Europe, in particular Italy.— θηρίον κόκκινον, a scarlet-coloured beast) as the dragon was red. The Roman Ceremon. teaches this. The text speaks respecting the time of the woman sitting on the beast.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-17.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

So he carried me away in the spirit; that is, being in an ecstasy; see Revelation 4:2; whether in the body or out of the body he could not tell, as Paul expresseth it, 2 Corinthians 12:2.

Into the wilderness; a place not, or not much, inhabited, either as fittest for contemplation. or to signify that this great whore, which had driven the spouse of Christ into the wilderness, should shortly herself come into her state, according to the fate of old Babylon, Jeremiah 1:13.

And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast; the great whore, mentioned Revelation 17:1, upheld by the Roman emperors.

Full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns; the same which is mentioned Revelation 13:1:

See Poole on "Revelation 13:1". Here a great question ariseth, who this

woman is, or, (which is the same, as appeareth by Revelation 17:5), what city is meant by Babylon, mentioned Revelation 17:5; a question (as Mr. Pool noteth) of high concernment; for whoever this woman is, or whatsoever this Babylon signifieth, the people of God are upon pain of damnation admonished to avoid any communion with her, and to come out of her, Revelation 14:9,10. Mr. Pool hath diligently collected into his Latin Synopsis all opinions about it, and showed what is to be said for or against them; I will give my reader the sum of what he saith.

1. Some would have it to be the whole world of wicked men. Against this it is said:

(1.) That John speaks here of a certain great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth, Revelation 17:18: this cannot be meant of the wicked world.

(2.) The world of wicked men are those inhabitants of the earth, whom this woman made drunk with the wine of her fornication: now she that made them drunk, and those that were made drunk, cannot be the same.

(3.) This woman sitteth on seven mountains, Revelation 17:9, and so do not all the wicked of the world.

(4.) We are commanded to come out of this Babylon, but we are not obliged to go out of the world.

2. Others would have this woman, or this Babylon, to be the old Chaldean Babylon. But:

(1.) Where then is the mystery, mentioned Revelation 17:5?

(2.) The Babylon here mentioned, is by all agreed to be the seat of antichrist; so was that never.

3. The generality agree it to be Rome. Amongst the ancients, Tertullian, Jerome, Ambrose, CEcumenius, Augustine, Eusebius: of later writers, Beda, Aquinas, Salmeron, Pererius, Bellarmine, Lapide, Ribera, (all papists), besides a multitude of protestant writers.

(1.) That city is also like old Babylon for power and greatness, for oppression and tyranny of and over God’s Israel; besides, the city here mentioned is described by two characters, agreeing to none but Rome, Revelation 17:9, dwelling upon seven hills.

(2.) Reigning over the kings of the earth: for the first Rome is the only city in the world founded upon seven hills, and famed for it by its old poets, Ovid, Virgil, Horace, Propertius, &c. It is attested to be so founded by Plutarch, Pliny, Dionysius, Halicarnassaeus. The names of these hills are known: Palatinus, Quirinalis, Aventinus, Celius, Veminalis, Esquilinus, Capitolinus. Both papist and protestant writers agree that here by Babylon Rome is meant; but they are divided, whether it be to be understood of Rome in its old pagan state, or in its present state, or in a state yet to come.

4. Some would have it to be Rome in its pagan state; of this mind are Grotius, and Dr. Hammond, and some others. But against this many things are said:

(1.) It is manifest that God here describes Rome not as under its sixth head, viz. the pagan emperors, but as it was under its last head, the eighth king, Revelation 17:11, as it should ascend out of the bottomless pit, Revelation 17:8.

(2.) What John saw herein mentioned as a secret about the blood of the saints, which he wondered at; now the pagan emperors’ spilling the blood of saints was a thing long since done.

(3.) The desolation of the Babylon here mentioned was to be final, never to be repaired, as appears by Revelation 18:21-23; but pagan Rome was never made so desolate.

(4.) If Rome pagan be here meant, then, after its fall, Rome Christian was the habitation of devils, Revelation 18:2.

(5.) Rome pagan fell upon our saints with downright blows, not with allurements, making them drunk with the wine of her fornication, as Revelation 17:2.

5. The papists, who grant that by Babylon Rome is meant, would have it to be Rome toward the end of the world, when, they say, Rome shall apostatize from the pope to paganism again; but for this opinion there is no foundation in Scripture, nor the judgment of the ancients, and some of the papists themselves reject it as improbable and detestable.

6. The generality and best of protestant writers understand by Babylon, and by this woman, Rome, as it is at this day under the conduct of the pope, for which they give these reasons.

(1.) Because it cannot be understood of Rome in either of the other notions, as hath been proved.

(2.) Because antichrist is to sit in the temple of God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, as God, therefore not in any pagan city. The mystery of iniquity was working in the apostle’s time, but, Revelation 17:7, the Roman empire hindered the appearance of antichrist till the popes had wrung Rome out of their hands, and were the sole rulers there; then antichrist showed himself.

(3.) Because there is nothing said of this great whore, or this Babylon, but admirably agreeth to Rome in its present state.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-17.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

в духе Ср. 1:10; 4:2; 21:10. Святой Дух переносит Иоанна в пустынную землю; наверное для того, чтобы он лучше понял видение.

жену Блудница (ст. 1) вавилонская, или великая блудница.

звере багряном Это антихрист (ср. 13:1, 4; 14:9; 16:10), который некоторое время будет поддерживать и использовать ложные религиозные системы, чтобы повлиять на мировой союз. Затем он узурпирует политическое руководство (ср. ст. 16). Багряный – цвет роскоши, великолепия и царского величия.

преисполненном именами богохульными Это произошло по причине самообожествления (ср. 13:1; Дан. 7:25; 11:36; 2Фес. 2:4).

с семью головами и десятью рогами Это изображение количества политических союзов антихриста (см. пояснения к ст. 9–12; 13:1).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-17.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Into the wilderness; probably to be understood symbolically of the fact that her presence makes a spiritual wilderness.

A woman; representing this idolatrous persecuting power, who, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, by pretended miracles, shows, splendid decorations, indulgences, jubilees, and blandishments of various sorts, had been deceiving and enslaving the nations, promising all good to those who should follow, and all evil to those who should oppose her. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

Scarlet-colored; scarlet is the well-known color of popes and cardinals.

Seven heads and ten horns; see below on verses Revelation 17:9-12.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-17.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.’

John is carried ‘in the Spirit’. Comparison with Revelation 1:10 shows that this means that time is irrelevant. He is carried back and forward in time to see what he sees. He observes a prominent prostitute sitting on a scarlet coloured Beast, which is the ultimate Blasphemy. The colour of the beast suggests that this beast is closely related to the red monster of Revelation 12:3, for he alone of beasts and monsters is described as red (possibly as the colour of blood because of his murderous intentions) Thus the woman is borne and supported by Satan’s beast himself who is at the back of what she propagates. This beast is full of the names of blasphemy and therefore transcends the one who had names of blasphemy only on his heads (Revelation 13:1). There it referred to the claims of Roman emperors to divinity, but here it refers to all the blasphemies of the ages. This beast is far more sinister than the beast of Rome, which was merely a temporary copy of the scarlet beast.

‘Into a wilderness’. The prostitute is aping the people of God, and especially the woman of Revelation 12:14, by false professions of piety. Seemingly like the woman in chapter 12 she is found in the wilderness. But that it is all a pretence comes out in the next verse. The very reason that the wilderness was seen as a place where men could meet God was because it was away from the great cities with their pernicious influence. But her very dress proclaims that influence.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-17.html. 2013.

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

(2) The woman on the scarlet coloured beast--17:3-8.

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

The color of the beast was derived from the Red Dragon of the preceding chapters that instigated the persecutions. The crimson color was also the symbol of sin: "Though your sins be as scarlet . . . though they be red like crimson" Isaiah 1:18. The adaptation of the color red was significant in this symbol of a beast full of the sins of blasphemy. The word blasphemy originally denoted every kind of railing, reviling, irreverence, and insulting reproaches against God, or any other detraction; hence, this beast was full of names of blasphemy--any or all blasphemy against the church that could be named in connection with or reference to every known form of heathen idolatry.

The comments on the seven heads and ten horns which characterized the beast have been made in preceding chapters, this being the same beast, the Roman Empire and its tributaries, extended remarks here are unnecessary.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/foy/revelation-17.html. 1966.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The angel carried John away in the Spirit to a wilderness area (cf. Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:1; Revelation 21:10). This wilderness may refer to the desert near literal Babylon. [Note: Moffatt, 5:451; Robertson, 6:429.] Or it may anticipate the desolate condition of the harlot. [Note: Dsterdieck, p429; Lee, 4:737.] There he saw a woman, the harlot of Revelation 17:1, sitting on a beast. Contrast the description of the rider on the white horse in Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:11; Revelation 19:14. The description of this animal is exactly the same as Antichrist in Revelation 13:1 except that it is scarlet here, probably symbolizing luxury and splendor (cf. Revelation 14:8-11; Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 27:28-29). She sat in a position of control over Antichrist, and he supported her.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-17.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 17:3. And he carried me away in spirit into a wilderness. The expression ‘he carried me away in spirit’ is found only here and at chap. Revelation 21:10, where the vision of the New Jerusalem is introduced. It denotes spiritual ecstasy, not bodily removal; but it may be intended to do this in a peculiarly expressive form.—In chap. Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14 we have been told of ‘the wilderness’ into which the woman there mentioned fled. Here we have no article, and we cannot therefore suppose that the wilderness now mentioned is the same. Attention is fixed simply on the fact that, amidst all Babylon’s pomp and luxury, the place where she reigns is really desolate (1 Timothy 5:6). It has indeed been conjectured that the fate prepared for Babylon, and expressed by a peculiar word in Revelation 17:16 and in chap. Revelation 18:17; Revelation 18:19, is already in the Seer’s mind, and that the thought of that fate leads to the description now given of the place of her abode. But it is more natural to think that these other expressions are conformed to that before us. The dwelling-place of Babylon is always ideally desolate: the fact shall afterwards correspond to the idea.—A description of the beast upon which the harlot sat now follows. It is obviously that of chap. Revelation 13:1-2, and this may be said to be admitted. The identity is established by the whole description, especially by the comparison of the two passages relating to the beast in chaps. 13 and 17 with that in which it is again mentioned in chap. Revelation 19:19-20. In these latter verses the beast is spoken of as ‘making war against Him that sat upon the horse,’ and as cast alive into the lake of fire ‘with the false prophet that wrought the signs in his sight.’ But the first of these traits belongs to the beast of this chapter (Revelation 17:14), and the second,—its close connection with the false prophet,—to the beast of chap. 13 (Revelation 17:12-13). In all three passages, therefore, we have the same beast. On the other hand, the differences are slight. In chap. Revelation 13:1 the names of blasphemy are upon the heads of the beast: here the whole body is covered with them. But the former statement does not exclude the latter, and the names upon the heads only are mentioned in the one place because it is of the heads that the Seer is speaking; be sees them coming up from the sea. Now he sees the whole beast. If, also, the article before the word ‘names’ is to be read, it carries us to the thought of specific names already mentioned, and these can be no other than those of chap. Revelation 13:1. Again the ‘heads’ of this verse are naturally mentioned before the ‘horns,’ whereas in chap. Revelation 13:1 the order was reversed, because the horns appeared first as the beast ascended from the sea. Once more, the composite character of the beast of chap. Revelation 13:2 may equally belong to this beast, while the colour of the beast here may equally belong to the beast there. It is the manner of the Apocalypse thus to fill out in one place the more imperfect description of the same object in another. At the same time it is not impossible that, while the beast itself is the same, some of the differences in the description may be intended to point out the effect of its alliance with the harlot. More especially may this be the case with regard to the greater extension of the names of blasphemy. How strikingly, if the harlot be the degenerate Church, would this indicate the greater and more confident rage against the saints to which the world is prompted when it finds, as it has so often found, the Church upon its side !

The attitude of the woman towards the beast, both in this verse and in Revelation 17:7, ought to be marked. In the one she ‘sits’ upon it; in the other it ‘carries’ her: and the meaning is, not so much that her movements are facilitated by the beast, as that she is the beast’s directress and guide. Without her it would simply spend itself in ungovernable and often misdirected fury. The harlot holds the reins, and with skilful hand guides the beast to the accomplishment of its aims.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-17.html. 1879-90.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Revelation 17:3. So he carried me away, &c. — Namely, in the vision. As Ezekiel, while he was a captive in Chaldea, was conveyed by the Spirit to Jerusalem, (Ezekiel 8:3,) so John is carried away in the Spirit into the wilderness; for there the scene is laid, being a scene of desolation. When the woman, the true church, was persecuted and afflicted, she was said (Revelation 12:14) to flee into the wilderness: and, in like manner, when the woman, the false church, is to be destroyed, the vision is presented in the wilderness. For they are by no means, as some have imagined, the same woman, under various representations. They are totally distinct and different characters, and drawn in contrast to each other, as appears from their whole attire and behaviour, and particularly from these two circumstances, — that during the one thousand two hundred and sixty years, while the woman is fed in the wilderness, the beast and the scarlet whore are reigning and triumphant, and, at the latter end, the whore is burned with fire, when the woman, as his wife, hath made herself ready for the marriage of the Lamb. And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet- coloured beast — The same which is described chap. 13., but he was there described as he carried on his own designs only; here he is connected with the whore. A woman sitting upon a beast is a lively and significative emblem of a church or city directing and governing an empire. In painting and sculpture, as well as in prophetic language, cities are often represented in the form of women: and Rome herself is exhibited, in ancient coins, as a woman sitting upon a lion. Here the beast is a scarlet-coloured beast, bearing the bloody livery, as well as the person of the woman, called so for the same reason that the dragon (Revelation 12:3) was termed a red dragon, namely, to denote his cruelty, and in allusion to the distinguishing colour of the Roman emperors and magistrates. The beast is also full of names of blasphemy — He had before a name of blasphemy upon his heads, (Revelation 13:1,) now he has many: from the time of Hildebrand, the blasphemous titles of the Roman pontiff have been abundantly multiplied; having seven heads — Which reach in a succession from his ascent out of the sea to his being cast into the lake of fire; and ten horns — Which are contemporary with each other, and belong to his last period. So that this is the very same beast which was described in the former part of chap. 13: and the woman, in some measure, answers to the two-horned beast, or false prophet; and consequently the woman is not pagan, but Christian Rome; because Rome was become Christian before the beast had completely seven heads and ten horns; that is, before the Roman empire experienced its last form of government, and was divided into ten kingdoms.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/revelation-17.html. 1857.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

The woman clothed with the sun was last seen (Revelation 12:1; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14) in the wilderness. So, some have concluded this must be the apostate church portrayed as a whore riding on the beast in the wilderness. However, Old Testament writers use the wilderness to describe a place where God protects his people (Psalms 78:52; Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 34:25-31) and a wasteland of punishment. (Isaiah 50:2; Zephaniah 2:13) The harlot may be the apostate church if the wilderness of chapter 12 is the same as the one here. The beast she rides upon seems to be the one of 13:1. Scarlet was the color of luxury and royalty. (Matthew 27:28-29) It is also the color used to describe the stain of sin. (Isaiah 1:18)

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-17.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

So = And.

Spirit. App-101. See Revelation 1:10.

the. No art., but this is often omitted after a preposition.

saw. App-133.

a woman. i.e. "that great city" of Revelation 17:18.

sit = sitting; as supported by that being described in verses: Revelation 17:8-11.

upon. App-104.

heads. These are the kings of Revelation 17:10.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-17.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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 wilderness. Contrast her in Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14, having a place in the wilderness-world, not a home; a sojourner, looking for the city to come. Now, on the contrary, she is contented to have her portion in this moral wilderness.

Upon a scarlet-coloured beast. The same as Revelation 13:1 : there described as here, 'having seven heads and ten horns (betraying that he is representative of the dragon, Revelation 12:3), and upon his heads name of blasphemy:' cf. also Revelation 17:12-14, below, with Revelation 19:19-20, and Revelation 17:13-14; Revelation 17:16. Rome, resting on the world-power, and ruling it by the claim of supremacy, is her chief, though not exclusive, representative. As the dragon is fiery-red, so the beast is blood-red; implying blood-guiltiness, and deep dyed sin. The scarlet is also symbol fiery-red, so the beast is blood-red; implying blood-guiltiness, and deep dyed sin. The scarlet is also symbol of kingship.

Full - all over: not merely "on his heads," as in Revelation 13:1; for its opposition to God now develops itself in all its intensity. Under the harlot's superintendence, the world-power puts forth blasphemous pretensions worse than in pagan days. So the pope is placed by the cardinal in God's (so-called) temple on the altar to sit there, and the cardinals kiss the feet of the pope. This ceremony is called, in Romish writers, the adoration ('Histoire de Clerge Amsterd.,' 1716; and Lettenburgh's 'Notitia Curiae Romanae,' 1683, p. 125; Heidegger, 'Myst. Bab.,' 1:, 511, 514, 536). A papal coin ('Numismata Pontificum,' Paris, 1679, p. 6) has the blasphemous legend, 'Quem creant, adorant.' [Kneeling and kissing are the worship meant by proskunein (Greek #4352): nine times used of the rival of God.] Abomination is the scriptural term for idol, or creature worshipped with the homage due to the Creator.

Still, there is some check on the world-power while ridden by the harlot: the consummated Antichrist will be when, having destroyed her, the beast shall be revealed as the concentration of all self dealing God-opposed principles which have appeared in various forms and degrees heretofore. 'The Church has gained outward recognition by leaning on the world-power, which in its turn uses the Church for its own objects: such is Christendom ripe for judgment' (Auberlen). The seven heads in the view of many are Rome's seven successive governments: kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, emperors, the German emperors (Wordsworth), of whom Napoleon is the successor (Revelation 17:11). See, rather, notes, Revelation 17:9-10. The crowns on the ten horns (Revelation 13:1) have disappeared: perhaps an indication that the ten kingdoms into which the Germanic-Slavonic world (the old Roman empire, the East as well as the West, the two legs of the image with five toes on each) is to be divided will lose their monarchical form in the end (Auberlen); but Revelation 17:12 seems to imply crowned kings.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-17.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) So he carried. . . .—Better, And he carried me away into a wilderness in spirit: and I saw a woman sitting upon a wild beast of scarlet colour, teeming with names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. We recognise the wild beast as that described in Revelation 13. Now the wild beast carries the woman; for she draws her support from the great world-power. The scene is the wilderness. The contrast between the desolation around her and the splendour of her appearance is striking and suggestive. The woman clothed with the sun (Revelation 12:1), persecuted by the dragon, finds a home in the wilderness into which she is driven. She is persecuted, but not forsaken; she can joy in tribulation. The scarlet-clad woman, amid all her dazzling surroundings, is still in a wilderness. The runagates continue in scarceness. Sansjoy is the brother of Sansloy. The wild beast is scarlet in colour. The dragon was red (Revelation 12:3); the woman is clothed in scarlet. Is it the emblem of lawlessness ending in violence? (Comp. Isaiah 1:18). It has also a show of sovereignty.

Full of names.—Teeming with names, &c.—The living creatures (Revelation 4:8) teemed (the same word as here) with eyes, the tokens of ready obedience and true intelligence. The wild beast teems with tokens of lawlessness and self-sufficiency.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-17.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
he carried
1:10; 4:2; 21:10; 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Ezekiel 3:12; 8:3; 11:24; Acts 8:39
into
12:6,14; Song of Solomon 8:5
a woman
4,6,18; 12:3
full
13:1-6; Daniel 7:8,20,25; 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:4
having
9-12; 12:3; 13:1
Reciprocal: Proverbs 7:10 - the attire;  Isaiah 47:5 - for;  Ezekiel 28:2 - I am;  Daniel 7:24 - the ten;  Zechariah 6:2 - red;  Luke 2:27 - by;  Acts 5:36 - boasting;  Revelation 6:4 - horse;  Revelation 19:20 - the beast

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-17.html.

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

THE BEAST ON WHICH THE WOMAN SITS.

Revelation 17:3. — "I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns." The Beast, if not the most prominent figure in the vision, is yet an integral part of the prophecy. The subserviency of the Beast to the harlot is expressed by the Seer, "I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast." The action intimates the thorough and complete subjection of the civil power. The rule and supremacy of the woman over the vast imperial and apostate power is a singular sight. The woman not only sits upon, or beside, the nations and peoples comprised within the prophetic area (v. 1), but also rules the Beast, the then dominating civil and political power on earth (v. 3).

The scene in vision where this strange sight is beheld is a desert, a place of loneliness and utter desolation. What a striking contrast to the display both of the woman and the Beast! The surpassing splendour of both captivates the heart and intoxicates the senses of all, save a suffering remnant to whom this pageant is as a wilderness, for God is not there. It is but a grand flash, a magnificent spectacle before the final crash and overthrow.

But who is the scarlet Beast on whom the woman sits, from whom she derives her material strength, and through whom she enforces her commands? The political government of the world, its glory and greatness are indicated by the scarlet colour.{*The three colours in the gate of the Court of the Tabernacle, in the door of the Tabernacle, and in the veil dividing the holy from the most holy were blue, purple, and scarlet. The first points to Christ in His heavenly character; the second to His sufferings on earth; and the third to His assumption of the government and glory of the earth in a coming day.} Without doubt it is the world power of Rome that is here referred to, revived in grandeur and greatness, and controlled by Satan. The Beast is first named in the Apocalypse in Revelation 11:1-19, and is abruptly introduced into the history as a subject well known and understood.

3. — "Full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns." In chapter 13: 1 the seven heads, or complete governing authority of the empire, have upon them "names of blasphemy" (see margin of the Authorised Version). Here the Beast itself is said to be "full of names of blasphemy" (Revelation 17:3). It is not simply that the executive of the empire is given over to many and varied expressions of a blasphemous character, but the empire itself, in all its parts, is wholly corrupt; while open, blatant blasphemy characterises it throughout. "Names of blasphemy" intimate many and varied forms of rebellion and self-will against God.

3. — "Having seven heads and ten horns." In the earlier notice of the "seven heads" upon the Beast there is indicated the completeness of administrative power (Revelation 13:1), but here, as is shown in the explanation (Revelation 17:10), the heads represent successive forms of government. The horns represent royal personages (v. 12). In Revelation 12:3 the dragon has seven heads and ten horns; the former being crowned,{*In these passages the word should read diadems, not "crowns." The former refers to the exercise of despotic, arbitrary power; the latter to limited monarchies — constitutional kingdoms.} not the latter. In Revelation 13:1 the Beast has ten horns and seven heads, the horns in this case being crowned. In our chapter, however, neither heads nor horns are crowned. The royal personages seen in the vision were not in full possession of their royal dignity; thus, in the angel's explanation of the ten-horned Beast, we read, "And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have not yet received a kingdom, but receive authority as kings one hour with the Beast" (v. 12); that is, they reign in royal authority in conjunction with the Beast, the little horn of Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:20 being their master. As the actual reign of these ten kings is regarded as subsequent to the vision the horns are not crowned.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sor/revelation-17.html.

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

Carried me away in the spirit is signifi Song of Solomon, and reminds us again of the truth that John never did leave the isle of Patmos literally while in the vision of this book. It was a part of the symbolical vision to be taken away into the wilderness and see the things that shall be described. The woman is the apostate church of Rome symbolized by the city of Rome because the church rested on the government of that city for support. The literal reason for using a beast in the symbol that was scarlet, was the fact that scarlet was one of the royal colors of the Empire. Seven heads and ten horns is explained at Revelation 13:1, and it will appear in this chapter with a slight variation in the application.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-17.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

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}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-17.html.

D.S. Clark's Commentary on Revelation

V:3. "So he carried me away into the wilderness;" — sometimes he was carried away into heaven to see visions; but the thing he was about to see now had no affinity with heaven, he could not see such a scene as this in heaven,

SO he was taken to a wilderness as a more appropriate place, and one more in congruity with what he was about to see. "And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns." This is evidently the same beast that we saw in chapter thirteen, there it had seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy, and he spoke blasphemies against God. This is the same beast, he is scarlet now, perhaps in allusion to the blood he had shed; and this beast, as we have seen, was the empire of Rome.

And the woman that sat upon the beast as we shall see was the city of Rome.

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

Revelation 17:3. And he brought me into a wilderness in the Spirit. And 1 saw a woman sitting on a scarlet coloured beast, that was full of names[Note: γέμον ὀνόματα. In the Rev. also, γέ μω is usually construed with the genitive. In the Hebr. constr. here, and in Revelation 17:4, with the accusative, the copyists lost themselves. (In Revelation 17:4 the Hebr. and Greek construction are combined together.) Hence the different readings.] of blasphemy, and had seven heads and ten horns.

That the wilderness is an image of the state into which the woman was to be brought, is plain from the explanation in Revelation 17:16; comp. Revelation 18:2; Revelation 18:16. Then, the corresponding expression, the judgment (of condemnation) in Revelation 17:1; the theatre merely points to the judging, the rest is represented by the subject of the judgment. So that if we do not refer the words "into a wilderness" to the approaching desolation, the promise of the angel to shew the (condemnatory) judgment of the great whore would remain unfilfilled. We are led to the same result by the contrast of the great and high mountain in ch. Revelation 21:10. And, finally, all doubt is removed by the fundamental passages of the Old Testament In Jeremiah 50, 51 the threatening constantly returns, that ancient Babylon should be turned into a wilderness. In Isaiah 21:1, Babylon, on account of the approaching desolation, is called the desert of the sea. (See Christology II. p. 98). What is said here of Babylon, holds substantially in respect to every worldly power that is opposed to God, and treads in her footsteps. Continually is the church called anew to stand unmoved amid the proud triumphs of that power, and allow herself to be carried by the Spirit into the wilderness, to see there with the eye of the Spirit the ruin that lies hidden behind the greatness.

In regard to being in the Spirit, comp. on ch. Revelation 4:2.

That the subject is not the woman, but a woman, not the beast, but a beast, is to be explained on the ground, that the Seer describes what he saw. It is otherwise in Revelation 17:1. There the subject of discourse is the great whore. It is a strange question to put, whether the beast here is identical with that in Revelation 13:1. It proceeds from entirely overlooking the relation of the two groups to each other. The allusion to ch. 13, which one misses, is only formally wanting, as appears from the reasons already mentioned. The beast is here indicated in a quite cursory manner, and in terms that bespeak the closest connexion with ch. 13; so that we are thence to borrow what is needed. This close interconnexion supplies the place of a distinct allusion. Here the Seer has not to do with the beast, but with the woman, who sits upon the beast, and indeed more especially with the judgment that is to be passed upon her.

The woman's sitting upon the beast brings those who have taken up a false view of the beast, into no small perplexity. If we understand by the beast heathen Rome, or if we understand by it the papacy, the sitting of the woman on the beast cannot be explained but with the greatest arbitrariness. If, with Bossuet, who follows the former of these views, we identify the beast and the woman ("St John clearly explains that the beast and the woman are at bottom but the same thing, and that both the one and the other is Rome with its empire")—a supposition that in itself alone is extremely violent—how then can the woman sit upon the beast? Bengel, who adopted the second explanation, understands by the woman the city Rome, which will free itself from the dominion of the Pope. But, apart from all the other considerations which oppose this interpretation, at the moment, when Rome vindicates her freedom from the Papal dominion, she ceases to be the great whore in the sense of Bengel. On the other hand, if the beast is the ungodly power of the world in general, it was quite natural, that Rome, the possessor of that at the time of the prophet, should appear sitting on the beast.

The woman sits upon a scarlet coloured beast. As a moral qualification is denoted by the beast, godlessness (ch. Revelation 13:1), it is most natural to regard the epithet also as indicative of a moral quality; the more so as the mention of names of blasphemy immediately follows. Scarlet colour is employed as being the colour of blood. It is used so in Isaiah 1:18, and also in the symbolism of the law. (See my Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 182). With the godlessness hatred toward true piety goes hand in hand. To the scarlet coloured beast the red dragon in ch. Revelation 12:3 corresponds. In this chapter we have a correspondence in Revelation 17:6, where the prophet sees the woman drunk with the blood of saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus, (comp. ch. Revelation 13:7; Revelation 13:10; Revelation 13:15). In opposition to those, who with an appeal to Revelation 17:4 would understand the scarlet coloured of the royal pomp and glory, there is this farther consideration. that here the beast itself is described as scarlet coloured, whereas in Revelation 17:4 the apparel is spoken of. This plainly implies, that by the scarlet coloured here a quality is denoted, a blood-thirsty disposition, and not a property.

In regard to the names of blasphemy, names by which the glory is usurped that belongs to God and his Son, see on ch. Revelation 13:1.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-17.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.”

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-17.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 17:3. The wilderness was the traditional site of visions, but there may be an allusion here to Isaiah 21:1 or even to the Roman Campagna (Erbes). The woman in 12. is in the desert to be delivered from the dragon; the woman here is in the desert to be destroyed by the Beast. “crimson or scarlet,” = luxurious and haughty splendour (Mart. ii. 39; Juv. Sat. iii. 283 and xiv. 188 for purple). The Beast which in Revelation 13:1 bore the names of blasphemy upon its head, now wears them spread over all its body. Baldensperger (Revelation 17:15-16) conjectures a similar reference to Rome in En. 52. (seven hills?); here at any rate the author is sketching the Roman Empire in its general magnificence and authority under the Cæsars, and the inconsistencies in his description (waters and wilderness, seat on waters, seat on the Beast) are natural to this style of fantastic symbolism. It is curious that no attack is directed against the polytheism of the Empire. Cf. Cebes’ Tabula: “Do you see a woman sitting there with an inviting look, and in her hand a cup? She is called Deceit; by her power she beguiles all who enter life and makes them drink. And what is the draught? Deceit and ignorance.” The mounting of divine figures on corresponding beasts is a Babylonian trait (S. C. 365).

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 17:3". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-17.html. 1897-1910.