The Doom of Babylon
17 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment and doom of the great [a]prostitute who is seated [b]on many waters [influencing nations],(A) 2 she with whom the kings of the earth have [c]committed acts of immorality, and the inhabitants of the earth have become intoxicated with the wine of her immorality.”(B) 3 And the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was [d]entirely covered with blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.(C) 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold, precious stones and pearls, [and she was] holding in her hand a gold cup full of the abominations and the filth of her [sexual] immorality.(D) 5 And on her forehead a name was written, a mystery: “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES (false religions, heresies) AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” 6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints (God’s people), and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus [who were martyred]. When I saw her, I wondered in amazement. 7 But the angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and ten horns.
8 “The beast that you saw was [once], but [now] is not, and he is about to come up out of the abyss (the bottomless pit, the dwelling place of demons) and go to destruction (perdition). And the inhabitants of the earth, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, will be astonished when they see the beast, because he was and is not and is yet to come [to earth].(E) 9 Here is the mind which has wisdom [and this is what it knows about the vision]. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits; 10 and they are seven kings: five of whom have fallen, one exists and is reigning; the other [the seventh] has not yet come, and when he does come, he must remain a little while. 11 And the beast that [once] was but is not, is himself also an eighth king and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction (perdition). 12 The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but [together] they receive authority as kings for a single hour [for a common purpose] along with the beast.(F) 13 These [kings] have one purpose [one mind, one common goal], and they give their power and authority to the beast.
Victory for the Lamb
14 They will wage war against the Lamb (Christ), and the Lamb will triumph and conquer them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him and on His side are the called and chosen (elect) and faithful.”(G)
15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns which you saw, and the [e]beast, these will hate the prostitute and will make her desolate and naked [stripped of her power and influence], and will eat her flesh and completely consume her with fire. 17 For God has put it in their hearts to carry out His purpose by [f]agreeing together to surrender their kingdom to the beast, until the [prophetic] words of God will be fulfilled. 18 The woman whom you saw is the [g]great city, which reigns over and dominates and controls the kings and the political leaders of the earth.”
- Revelation 17:1 Some have thought that the prostitute symbolizes a corrupt, apostate religious system.
- Revelation 17:1 For the meaning of the waters in this prophetic context, see v 15.
- Revelation 17:2 This may be a figurative reference to cult worship practices and idolatry.
- Revelation 17:3 Lit full of.
- Revelation 17:16 The Antichrist, the final world ruler.
- Revelation 17:17 Or having a common purpose.
- Revelation 17:18 Scholars have differing opinions on the “great city.” Some believe the context (18:2, 10, 21) suggests Babylon, others Rome, and still others believe it refers to many cities.