And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 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, nhaving seven heads and oten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
One of the seven angels, which had the seven vials – In most of Revelation, John has been viewing the end times alone, with few exceptions in which he is given explanations from the angels. At this point in the book, John will experience a more traditional vision akin to the Old Testament where he will be guided by an angel. The text identifies this angel as one of the seven who poured out the judgements on the earth, but does not specify which of the seven this angel is.
Come hither – Literally translated as “here”, and this is the second time (after 4:1-2) that John’s vision has begun this way. The announcement of the angel who had the seven vials connects this to the judgements on the earth and will contrast with the vision of the New Jerusalem, where John is also guided by one of these seven angels.
I will shew unto thee the judgement of the great whore – This great whore will bear the name that is a mystery, and shall be described in a few moments. The pending destruction of this city has been eminent and anticipated for several chapter now (foreshadowed since chapter eleven). The judgement of this earthly city will contrast with the endurance of the New Heavenly city that we will see in a couple weeks. The great whore (the city) is representative of the false religious system of the day, and though we should see the connection with sexual immorality (adultery, fornication, same sex relationships, ect) this is referring specifically to idolatry and adultery against God.
Sitteth upon many waters – The original Babylon sat upon the river Euphrates. John now uses Old Testament imagery to signify people, and will be described in verse fifteen.
With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication – This represents what remains of humanity and it’s wickedness. The earths rulers have always committed fornication and adultery, giving to the evil one. The earths elite have always wanted to be elevated and that has blinded them to what is right and enticed them into wickedness.
And the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk – The inhabitants of the earth have become as much a part of the false religious systems as the leaders of the earth. They have drunken what they were handed. The mass populations have always been seduced by what the evil has had to offer. Comfort, power, food, glamour. Evil has always seduced populations into obedience by appealing to their senses of luxury and this has blinded people to the reality of the judgement. This gives the imagery of being druken.
Carried away in the spirit – This is the identification that what follows is a vision. For the remainder of this chapter and of the next, this vision will set the stage for the final war against the worlds evil governments.
Into the wilderness – Throughout Revelation, the wilderness has been a place of peace and shelter. It is in the wilderness that Israel (the women from chapter twelve) would seek refuge. It is also from the wilderness that one is able to see with sober eyes the whore and what she really represents. It is from the wilderness that John is shown this vision see’s this mystery.
Saw a women – This women is different from the women of chapter twelve and represents Babylon, the false religious system.
Sitting – Sitting shows a status of power.
Upon a scarlet beast – This is a different word than the word for red beast that we had seen earlier in the book. Some commentators have suggested this could represent wealth, or luxury. While this may be true on some level, it is significant in that the women looks like her master. The women will be described in the next verse as wearing scarlet color – in both these cases, this is contrasted with the saints who will be clothed in white.
Full of names of blasphemy – The dragon and beast we saw earlier each had names of blasphemy on their heads, whereas now, this beast is fully covered in names of blasphemy.
Seven heads and ten horns – The beast is described in identical terms as the dragon from chapter thirteen. In our next passage of verses, it shall be described what the heads and horns represent, but as with our last vision of a beast of this manner, the heads and horns will represent forms of human government.
I had read a memorable quote from Kendell Easley that I want to share with you –
“Oddly, the prostitute first seen sitting on the waters is now sitting on the monster, but in prophetic visions, this kind of shifting is expected. It simply means that she—Dame Civilization as expressed in great cities—has generally seduced all people (the waters) and that she moves forward with the help of military-political force (the beast).”
The women was arrayed in purple and scarlet – Purple has always been the color of royalty whereas both purple and scarlet were colors that could only be afforded by the wealthy. The fact of the women wearing both represents extreme wealth. As with what we discussed in the last verse, the scarlet is contrasted to the white robes worn by the saints.
Gold, precious stones, and pearls – Many would be tempted to see these as evil, but they are not inherently evil and will even be used in the description of New Jerusalem. They are being used in this verse, however, to describe the wealth and appearance the evil harlot gives off.
Having a golden cup in her hand – The golden cup represents that the whore offers splendid, desirable drink. She gives off the appearance of having something people want. I find that in our government today, we see the same thing – We have bills with titles that appear to have what we want or need, but really, as with this golden cup, they contain…
Abominations and filthiness – What the harlot offered was instead wretched, miserable, and evil. What appeared on the outside was splendid, but when the people drank from the cup, it was distasteful death-inducing poison. As in my comparison with the golden cup itself, we see the same happening today – Just from very recent history, we’ve seen these so called “relief bills” that seek to give stimulus money to those in need, but these “golden cups” are really masks that hide the language to fund mass murder of innocent children. Without getting too political (though it seems a little late for that) I hope that the comparison made gives you a good image of this golden cup that is filled with abominations and filthiness.
Upon her head – God’s people are sealed with a mark upon their head, just as Satans people are sealed with a mark on their right hand or forehead. As with the others, this whore is identified with her name written upon her head. Interesting enough, more than the parallel of the saints and beast followers who are identified by their seals, in ancient Rome, prostitutes frequently identified themselves with their name in a headband worn around their forehead.
Mystery – Many people try and add mystery as part of her name, but rather, mystery is a description of her name. Her name’s meaning is hidden, but will be revealed to John starting in verse seven.
Babylon the great – Babylon from the beginning (story of the Tower of Babel) has represented evil and false religious systems. The name Babylon, from the word Babel, means to confuse, or confusion. As the ancient city Babylon murdered those children of Israel, so this Babylon will murder the people of God.
The mother of prostitutes – This women is the source of evil and idolatry.
And abominations of the earth – The detestable things of this world stem from this great city, which is symbolic of satans kingdom.
Drunken with the blood of the saints, blood of the martyrs – The blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs are a repetition of the same group of people. In last chapter, in the third vial they were given blood to drink – However, this is not the blood they were given to drink, but the blood of the saints they had murdered. This women, who was first described as beautiful and desirable is now described as a beast with the blood of her prey dripping from her mouth.
Wondered – The vision of the mystery of her name had caused John to express great astonishment. His amazement is not in the positive marvel, but in his sock of what he is to be reporting.
7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. 9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. 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. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 12 And kthe ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast
Wherefore didst thy marvel – The angel understands that John has just seen unimaginable things and quickly address Johns marvel. Why did you marvel, asks the angel because he says, I told you I would show you something great and that means I would also explain it to you.
I will tell you the mystery of the women and the beast – The rest of this passage of verse will be dedicated to the angels report of the mystery behind both the women and the beast. The angel will describe first the beast, which is more important than the women.
Was, and is not, and shall ascend – This is a funky, and most likely mockery of the name given to God “who was, and is, and is to come.” The Was, and is not and shall ascend refers to the fatal wound the antichrist receives on one of his heads 13:3. The beast was for the first forty-two months, and then was not. The text says that he shall ascend out of the bottomless pit referring to the false impression of a resurrection that we also read in chapter thirteen.
They that dwell on the earth shall wonder – This phrase again refers to those who are not saved and perishing, as confirmed in a moment by the next phrase. John wondered when he saw what he did, and he had an angelic guide. It is not surprise then, that the inhabitants of the world will also marvel when they see this false miracle of the false resurrection.
Whose names are not in the book of life from the foundation of the world – This identifies again, they that dwell on the earth refers to the perishing in Johns visions. This also shows that in God’s infinite knowledge, those who shall be saved have been recorded from the earths foundation. This is recorded, not to say we should not evangelize, but as a peace of mind that everyone who will accept God will become saved. Their names have already been recorded.
Here is the mind which has wisdom – This is the second and last time that John will make this call of wisdom. The first time was in chapter thirteen referring to the number of the beast, which has proven extremely difficult to interpret with any certainty who the beast will be. This too, will prove even more difficult as the symbols we will see are given multiple different meanings.
The seven heads are seven mountains – It is commonly agreed among scholars that the seven mountains identify the city of Rome, which was called the City of Seven Mountains, which was geographically was formed with seven hills within the city to the east of the Tiber and overlooking the Field of Mars. From here, the vision will focus, not on the city, but on rulers.
This verse describes the seven heads also as seven kings. Many have attempted to make this rulers of Rome, and have attempted to make this work based on Rulers who were passed and current, with no real identification of who was to be. The verse says five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come. This is not referring to rulers of Rome, but is instead referring to unified world kingdoms who had at some point threatened the survival of Gods people. In this case, seven may represent the number of completion, especially in the context of five already fallen empires and the sixth currently reigning. These empires can readily be identified as Eypt (Exod 1), Assyria (2 Kings 15), Babylon (2 Kings 25), Persia during the days of Esther the queen (460bc), the Seleucid Empire, with the abomination of desolation (186bc), and the Roman empire of Johns day which existed with great power hostile to Gods people.
The seventh kingdom has yet to come, and since Rome in 312ad, there has yet to be a unified kingdom that has threatened the survival of Gods people. The final kingdom is quickly approaching and will exist during the days of the tribulation.
He must continue for a short space – This refers to the forty-two months he will rule in the first portion of the tribulation.
Here it is explained that after the seventh kingdom, the beast will be the eighth. This can be confusing because John only sees seven heads on the beast. But it is then described that the eight is part of the seven. This shows us a kingdom or ruler that has existed throughout the times and other kingdoms, and identifies this person as satan. This final (eight) ruler will be the final antichrist who will go to war in chapter nineteen with Christ Himself. The focus on this verse, however, is not on the ruler, but where the ruler is going, which is perdition.
The ten horns are described as ten kings without kingdoms. Many have tried to identify who these rulers were in history, ignoring that the angel said having not yet received a kingdom. This identifies these rulers as future rulers, rather than rulers of Johns day. They rule for a short hour – This should not be seen in mans time, but in Gods timing. In Gods eyes, their rules were insignificant.
The rulers are not independent thinkers and they unite with one purpose. These kings will all rule during the same time in the latter half of the tribulation and will all unite in giving their power to the final antichrist. What we must understand is that the rulers are united, not forced. They are willing collaborators, united to make war against God.
14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is qLord of lords, and rKing of kings: and they that are with him are tcalled, and uchosen, and faithful. 15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. 18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Shall make war with the Lamb – Throughout the book, the beast and the kingdoms set out to make war with the people of God. Here, John looks not at the entire period of this kingdom, but at the end, echoing from last chapter when it informs us that the kings of the earth gather together. Here, they will make war not only against Gods people, but against God Himself.
He shall overcome them – We are given two reason why Christ will overcome. He will overcome because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. Those who are on the Lords side are called, chosen and faithful. These are they who raptured with the church or were martyred through the tribulation. They are those who participate in the victory through their faithfulness, but this victory is in association only.
The waters which thou sawest – In the first verse of the chapter, we were introduced to the prostitute who sat on many waters. It is now identified that these many waters are peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues. This demonstrates that at the end, there will be a one world government and a one world religious system. This will be a great empire.
The ten horns – The beast will then turn on the women and devour her. It says these shall hate the whore. What may seem like a surprise turn in events is really no surprise at all. Evil always seeks to devour, and evil always devours evil. It is no surprise at all that an alliance built upon evil, upon a beast, was a trust bound to be broken. The text states shall make her desolate and naked. The women who was initially described as well clothed and adorned is now left naked, a fitting punishment for this whore. Shall eat her flesh, describes a fitting punishment that parallels with the ancient Jezebel who had literally been consumed by dogs. Be burned with fire, describes in the quick and sudden way she is left destroyed.
This teaches us the concept of sowing and reaping, in which Paul taught well. In Galatians 6:7-8
“7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for wwhatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
The imagery here is clear - Those who sowed in sin reaped what they sowed. Those who thought they were serving their own purposes, or the purposes of the beast or the government have turned out to only be serving the purposes of God. John records it clearly, For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill His will. God will not be frustrated and His word will always accomplish as He said He will.
The women is now revealed as that great city. Throughout history, this could have been several cities. One could have identified this city as ancient Babylon. In Johns day, it would have been Rome. In the end times, where this vision takes place, it is what is left of humanity.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 17:1–6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Easley, K. H. (1998). Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 306). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 17:7–13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 17:14–18). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ga 6:7–8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.