The Judgment of the Harlot, Babylon
1Then one of the seven angels with the seven bowls approached me and said, “Come, and I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who sits enthroned on many waters. 2The kings of the earth have fornicated with her, and the people of earth are drunk on the wine of her prostitution.” # 17:2 A metaphor for idolatry. See Isa. 1:21.
3Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a wild, bloodred beast with seven heads and ten horns, and it was covered with blasphemous names. 4The woman was robed in purple and scarlet and was glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She was holding in her hand a golden chalice brimming full with defiling obscenities and the filth of her lewdness. # 17:4 See Jer. 51:7. 5On her forehead was written these mysterious titles: “The great Babylon, mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth.”
6I saw the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy believers—drunk on the blood of the loyal martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I was utterly astonished!
The Interpretation of John’s Vision
7But the angel said to me, “Why are you so astonished? I will reveal to you the mystery of the woman, and of the wild beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8The wild beast you saw once was, now is not, and is destined to ascend out of the deep and go to destruction. All those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will be utterly astonished when they see the wild beast because he once was, now is not, and is about to rise.
9“This requires a mind that has wisdom to interpret: The seven heads of the beast are seven mountains the woman sits upon; they are also seven kings. 10Five kings have fallen, one is, # 17:10 Scholars who believe in an earlier date of Revelation see these as the emperors of Rome, for Nero (the one who now “is”) was Rome’s sixth Caesar of Rome (AD 54–68). and the other has not yet come—and when he comes he must remain only a little while. # 17:10 The Aramaic can be translated “he will have little desire to rule.” 11The wild beast # 17:11 The Aramaic can be translated “the dragon and the wild beast it brought.” that was but now is not represents an eighth king who is from one of the seven, and he is going to destruction.
12“The ten horns that you saw represent ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, # 17:12 Or “royal power.” but they and the wild beast are destined to receive authority as kings for a short reign of one hour. 13They are united in yielding their power and authority to the wild beast. 14They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings! Those who are with him will also conquer them, and they are called ‘chosen ones’ and ‘faithful ones.’ ”
15And he said to me, “The waters that you saw, upon which the great prostitute is seated, represent peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. 16The ten horns and the wild beast will hate the great prostitute and will make her a ruin. They will reduce her to nakedness, and they will devour her flesh and burn her up with fire. 17For God has put it in their hearts to carry out his purpose for her by agreeing to give their kingdom # 17:17 Or “their royal power.” to the wild beast until the words of God are fulfilled. 18As for the woman you saw, she is the great city Babylon, which rules # 17:18 Or “has royal dominion [sovereignty] over.” over the kings of the earth.”