Revelation 17 - The Beast that was and is not and yet is...

Updated: Feb 19

Revelation contains the story of two women. Revelation 12 describes the suffering of the true church whom the whore judged as worthy of death. Revelation 17 describes destruction of the whore whom Heaven judged worthy of death.



REVELATION 17

1 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, having seven heads and ten 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.

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 the 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.

14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, 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.

OVERVIEW

In vision John was carried forward to the time of the judgment. From the period of the judgment he looked back in time to when the Papal church was supported by the Papal State, the whore supported by the beast with the deadly wound. The angel, speaking from our point in time, told John that the Papal State that supported the Papal Church had been and was not, having received a deadly wound and was abolished in 1798. However, it was to arise again and be called the eighth head. Then all the corrupt powers which have apostatized from God will give their support to the Papacy for a prophetic hour in her last effort to war the saints. However, when her triumph looks certain her supporters will turn on her and destroy her as described in Rev 18.





verse 1 The Great Whore Identified

(a) A woman is symbolic of a church. (Jer 6:2; 2Cor 11:2).

(b) A pure woman represents a pure church

(c) This whore represents an apostate church (cf. Isa 1:21; Hos 4:11) in contrast to the true church in Rev 12:1.

(d) Idolatry & friendship with the world are spiritual adultery (Eze 16:17; Jer 3:6, 9; James 4:4).

Incidentally Rome calls herself the “Mother” Church.


verse 1 A worldwide church

She sits on waters which represent the nations of the world. (Rev 17:1,15). She is therefore a catholic (world-wide) church. Incidentally Catholic means universal.


verse 2 A fornicating church

This Church has turned from Christ to fornicate spiritually with the State whom she seduces into enforcing her doctrines. She is a union of church and state.


verse 3 She sits upon a beast

The beast represents the civil political powers which support her (See v 8).


verse 4 Gold, stones, pearls etc.

Not shamefaced or sober (cf. 1Tim 2:9). Incidentally the Papacy has much gold, pearls etc. She is a wealthy church.


verse 4 A church wearing purple & scarlet

She is dressed similar to the High Priest (cf. Exo 28:15-22) but unlike him she has

no blue. As blue represents “all the commandments of the Lord” (Num 15:37-39) this indicates that she does not keep all of Godʼs commandments. (cf. Dan 7:25). The priests wear purple & scarlet colours.


verse 4 Golden cup full of abominations

In place of “the cup of salvation” (Ps 116:13) containing unfermented “wine,” a symbol of Christʼs uncorrupted doctrine, (Mark 14:24), the whoreʼs cup is full of alcoholic intoxicating wine (corrupted doctrine). (Prov 31:3-5). Unclean food are an abomination (Lev 11). Idolatry & Sun worship are abominations (Eze 8:9-17). This system eats unclean foods practices idolatry and worships on the pagan Sunday. See Appendix on Alcohol. Incidentally the Papal Rome offers up alcoholic wine or port in its communion services.


verse 5 Mystery Babylon. A Mother church

The High priest had “Holiness to the Lord” (Exo 39:30-31) on his forehead. The whore has Mystery Babylon, Mother of Harlots. This church counterfeits Godʼs priesthood. Her daughters are other churches which came out of her yet tragically followed their Mother Church in sacrificing truth in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world. ʻFatherʼ James OʼBrien said, “That observance [of Sunday instead of Saturday] remains a reminder of the MOTHER CHURCH from which the non-Catholic sects broke away.” The Faith of Millions (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, (Roman Catholic) Inc., 1974), p401.


verse 5 Babylon

Babylon originally meant “Gate to God.” The Papacy claims to be the only way to God and salvation. In the Bible Babylon means confusion (Gen 11:9).


verse 6 Drunken with saintʼs blood

Inasmuch as “the blood...of ALL that were slain on earth,” is found in her (Rev 18:24) she apparently represents the dominant forms of false religion from the beginning of time, but particularly at its close. The clues most especially fit the Papal Rome. This church martyred Christians during her period of supremacy. See on Dan 7:25.


THE TIME FRAME

In order to identify the “was,” “is not,” “shall be” periods we must identify the time frame from which the vision was explained.


verse 3 Carried away in the spirit into the wilderness

John was “carried...away in the spirit [in vision.” This term is used when John is taken from his day to another time. (cf. Rev 21:10).

The explanation of the vision is not from Johnʼs time because: (a) He had been taken to another time.

(b) John was told that the beast He saw carrying the Papal church “WAS, and IS NOT.” This could only be said from a time after the Papal Church had risen.

The statement that the beast “was and is not” must refer to the beast carrying the whore. It cannot refer to the beast as a whole because the beast has always existed and certainly existed in Johnʼs day in itʼs Pagan Roman phase.

The time from which John saw the Papacy was after the Papacy had become rich and powerful, after she had martyred the saints, and after the Protestant Reformation. After the Papacy...

(a) ...had become rich and powerful. (b) ...had drunken the blood of the saints.

(c) ...had become a “Mother” church after the Protestant churches had come out from her (after the Reformation).


verse 8 The Beast

A Beast represents a kingdom or nation (Dan 7:23; 8:20-22). This beast represents Satanʼs kingdom. The heads represent powers Satan has used and will work through.


verse 9-10 Seven heads are Seven mountains...there are seven kings The seven heads symbolize seven successive kingdoms described in Daniel & Revelation that Satan has and will use to oppose Godʼs work on earth:

(a) The seven heads are said to be “seven mountains” (Rev 17:9) and mountains symbolise nations (Dan 2:35, 44; Jer 51:24-25).

(b) “And there are...” or “they are seven kings,” and kings also symbolise kingdoms (Dan 7:17, 23). (c) Heads represent kingdoms as they did on the four-headed leopard of Dan 7:6.


The heads ʻliveʼ sequentially, one after another

“five have fallen, one is...” (v 10). As one head is taken away (conquered) another comes to life. The ʻlivingʼ head at any time is said to be the beast (cf. Rev 13:3, 14; Rev 17:11) for that time. The ʻliveʼ head, when John saw this beast supporting the Papal church, was the Papal State. Though the beast has 7 heads, and presumably 7 mouths, only one head reigns at a time and thus only one mouth speaks for the beast at a time (Rev 12:15).


The same seven heads and ten horns are 'seen' in Rev 11, 12, 13. The correct view will harmonise these three chapters. The beast from the bottomless pit in Revelation 11 is the same seven-headed beast, though John does not describe its appearance. Revelation 11 describes the coming to life of the atheistic state (head) which abolished (delivered the deadly wound) the Papal State (head) in 1798.

In Revelation 12 the seven heads are crowned confirming that they are seven distinct kingdoms/nations.


There are 7 beasts in Daniel & Revelation in the 4:3 ratio. The Ram and He-Goat of Daniel 8 are not wild beasts but animals used in the sanctuary service and in a cultic way to represent the pagan kingdoms of Medo-Persia and Grecia.

In Revelation 13 one of the 7 heads was wounded. That head was the Papal State. (See on Rev 13). This indicates that the other heads are also State powers.

Incidentally Rome is known as the city on seven hills. This has contributed to many identifing the whore as Rome.


Conclusions

(a) Seven represents completeness. The heads form the complete set of corrupt forms of government from monarchy to republic. A complete set of persecuting nations must include pagan, papal, atheistic, and apostate protestant nations.

(b) All the state powers represented by beasts in Daniel & Revelation are included.

(c) Generally each head comes to power by conquering the previous head. (d) The heads appear in order. (e) The principle of repeat & enlarge indicates that Rev 17 builds on earlier prophecies in which Babylon was the first. (f) The 7 headed beast of Rev 17 is the 7 headed beast of Rev 13 which obviously draws its symbolism from Daniel 7 where the first nation was Babylon, as also in Dan 2.

(g) In the Bible sevens are divided into 4-3 ratios:

  • 4 Spring feasts - 3 Autumn feasts. (Lev 23)

  • 4 horsemen - 3 non horsemen. (Rev 6)

  • 4 Trumpets - 3 Woe trumpets. (Rev 8-9)

  • The 7 heads of Rev 17 follow this pattern.

  • Of the seven heads 4 are Old Testament nations - 3 are New.

  • 4 are local powers - 3 are global powers.

verse 8 ...was, is not, shall ascend

The beast can refer to one of its heads. In Rev 13 one of the seven heads was wounded to death and later it is said that the beast was wounded (cf. Rev 13:3, 14). From our time, the time to which John had been carried in vision, the beast, as ruled by the papal state head, “was, and is not.” However it will “ascend” to life again. Rev 13:3 foretells that the deadly wound to the papal state head will be healed.

There never has been a time when Satan has not worked through some earthly kingdom to persecute Godʼs people. While the beast John saw “is not” one head “is” (v 10) - the beast from the bottomless pit of Rev 11.


The Bottomless Pit - (Gr. abussos)

When the beast, as ruled by the papal head, “is not” it is said to be in the bottomless pit (v 8). The bottomless pit is the grave. The grave is a “pit” which cannot be filled, (Isa 38:18; Isa 14:19; Hab 2:5; Prov 30:16). The grave is therefore a bottomless pit. “Abussos,” translated “bottomless pit,” is also translated “deep,” in Rom 10:7 where it refers to the grave. Papal Rome was in its wounded state from 1798 and said to be "is not".


verses 9-10 Five [heads] have fallen...

John evidently viewed events from the time of the 6th head. Five had fallen by that time:


SEVEN BEASTS (7 KINGDOMS) OF DANIEL & REVELATION - 5 ARE FALLEN and "one is".

1st. THE LION DANIEL OF 7 = BABYLON - FALLEN

1. Lion - Babylon

2. Bear - Medo-Persia 3. Leopard - Greece

4. Terrible beast - Pagan Rome

5. First Beast of Rev 13:1-10 - Papal Rome which received “the deadly wound” in 1798 (Rev 13:3) and gone into the grave (bottomless pit) so to speak.

6. Beast from Bottomless pit of Rev 11 - Atheism

7. Second Beast of Revelation 13:11-17 - Apostate Protestant Rome - image of the first beast


2nd. THE BEAR OF DANIEL 7 = MEDO-PERSIA - FALLEN

verse 10 ...and One is, the beast from the bottomless pit

The 6th head - the atheistic State, which conquered / delivered the deadly wound to the Papal State, now “is” while the beast as ruled by the Papal head “is not.” This is the point in time from which John viewed the vision. Atheism arose in response to years of Papal oppression in France. (See on Rev 11). Rome had misrepresented the character of God, and the French people, thinking Romanism was Christianity, rejected both the Bible and its Author. In rejecting Roman Catholicism as a deception the French were led by Satan to regard all religion as a deception. The masses, long trampled on by Rome, rose up against the oppressor with fury. As the atheistic state arose from the pit (Rev 11:7) it sent the Papal Rome State into the pit, abolishing it, in 1798. (See Rev 13:3). The French Revolution is recognized as the birthplace of the Communist State.


Time magazine, Dec. 11, 1989, stated that the communist party is “formally pledged to ATHEISM...”


3rd. THE LEOPARD OF DANIEL 7 = GRECIA - FALLEN

In this period the worldʼs dominant nations act as essentially atheistic democracies or republics. Evolution, Abortion, Gay marriage, no absolute truth and man deciding what is right & wrong, are all outgrowths of atheistic thinking.

That which the beast supports today is Atheism which is as much a religion as Paganism or Papalism. Papalism is anti- Christ. Atheism is anti-god. What is the difference? Both are manifestations of the continual spirit of self exaltation. In Rev 11:8 the “great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth” was called “Egypt [Atheism. cf. Exo 5:2] where also our Lord was crucified” - in the person of His saints. In Rev 17:6 the “great city” (Rev 17:18)

is called “Babylon [Papal Rome] drunken with the blood of the saints.” Atheism and Catholicism, and indeed all false religions, are the one city, the one woman. Manifestations of the same “continual” spirit of antichrist.


verse 10...the other [the 7th] is not yet come

In response to years of atheistic legislation, moral decay, etc. Protestant groups are today influencing the State to re-enforce Christian legislation. As Papalism bred atheism so atheism breeds Papalism. When Protestantism unites with the state to enforce its ideas it will have become an “image” of the Papal system - the image of the beast - church / state uniting to enforce church dogma. (See Rev 13). The 7th head, the Apostate Protestant State is to take away the power of atheism, enforce the worship of the beast (Rev 13:15), and “continue

a short space” (v 10) compared to all the previous heads (nations).


4th. THE TERRIBLE BEAST OF DANIEL 7 = PAGAN ROME - FALLEN

verse 11 The 8th head

The number 8 is associated with resurrection:

  • (a) Eight souls passed through Noahʼs Flood a kind of resurrection into the new world.

  • (b) The first day of the week, the day Christ arose, is mentioned 8 times in the N.T.

  • (c) The feast of booths when the people lived away from home lasted 8 days. It prefigured the saints living in heaven following the first resurrection. Lev 23:39-43.

  • (d) Circumcision, done the 8th day after birth, is likened to baptism where the old man is buried in the watery ʻgraveʼ and resurrected to newness of life. Luke 2:21; Col 2:11–12.

  • (e) The 8th head “is of the seven,” (v 11). It is the 5th head (the Papal head) returned to life - the deadly wound healed (Rev 13). The Papal head and the Apostate Protestant head (the image of the papacy) will exist together in the end - “If any man worship the beast AND his image...” (Rev 14:9).

5th. THE FIRST BEAST REV 13 - PAPAL ROME - FALLEN

“ Yet under ONE HEAD - the papal power - the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses.” 7T 182.


“Protestants will throw their whole influence and strength on the side of the Papacy; by a national act enforcing the false Sabbath, they WILL GIVE LIFE and vigor to the corrupt faith of Rome, reviving her tyranny and oppression of conscience.” Signs of the Times, 12 June, 1893.

In a secondary sense this may refer to Satan himself who was behind all seven heads. At the time of the 8th head he will personate Christ in a counterfeit Second Coming in a last desperate attempt to deceive the faithful (See Matt 24:23-26).


6th. AND "ONE IS" - THE BEAST OF REV 11 - ATHEISM, PRESENTLY ALIVE

verse 12 The ten horns

The principle that understanding comes by comparing “line upon line” (Isa 28:10) and the principle of repeat and enlarge indicate that these ten horns are those described in Dan 7:7; Rev 12:3; 13:1 - the nations of Europe. All ten are still described though some no longer exist (Dan 7:8), in the same way that all seven heads are described though several no longer exist. The 10 horns will receive a “kingdom” (singular) with the beast for “one hour.”

10 symbolizes all (Exo 20; Sol 5:10) and all.

“These have one mind.” There will be a universal bond of union, one great harmony, a confederacy of Satanʼs forces. “And shall give their power and strength unto the beast.” 3SM, 392.


7th LAMBLIKE BEAST REV 13 "THE OTHER IS NOT YET COME" = USA

verse 12-14 One hour - One mind

For one prophetic “hour” (possibly 15 literal days. See Appendix) all the corrupt powers will unite in purpose. This “hour” occurs during the “short space” the 7th head exists. They make war against Christ by condemning His people to death. Surrounded by enemies on all sides it will appear that the saints are to perish but God will cut short this time of trouble (cf. Matt 24:21-22; Dan 12:1). As the voice of God through the Protestant Reformation cut short the Papal Romeʼs ability to persecute in the past, so the Voice of God from heaven will cut short the coming time of trouble. See on Matt 24.


verse 15 Water represent peoples

Literal Babylon was supported by the literal waters of the literal Euphrates. This whore is symbolic of Spiritual Babylon and sits on the symbolic waters of the symbolic Euphrates which represents peoples and nations which support the system of spiritual Babylon.



verses 16-17 Hate the whore

Under the 6th plague the Euphrates (Babylonʼs supporters) will withdraw their support. (See Rev 16:12). Realizing that they have been deceived into supporting the corrupt church and are eternally lost, her former supporters will turn on the whore and destroy her. As they supported her for “one hour” so they will destroy her in “one hour.” (See Rev 18). “Make her desolate and naked.” Her lovers, the kings of the earth, expose & reject her.

“Burn her with fire.” The daughter of any priest which became a whore was to be burned. (Lev 21:9). As the dogs ate literal Jezebel so the wicked ten horns “Shall eat her flesh.” (2Kings 9:35,36). As France, 1/10 of spiritual Babylon (Rev 11:13) turned on the corrupt church in Europe in 1798, so 10/10ths will turn against the corrupt church worldwide in the future.


8th HEAD - BEAST THAT WAS AND IS NOT AND YET IS = PAPAL ROME

verse 18 The woman is that great city

The immoral woman is called “that great city,” “Babylon,” - confusion.


WHAT CAN WE LEARN?

Revelation 17 shows the “continual” spirit of self-exaltation spoken of by Daniel (See Dan 8 Appendix). Though forms change, the same antichrist spirit of self-exaltation continues in every earthly power. Satan is the body of the beast, his spirit is seen in every head. Every form of false government is allowed its time. All must see that Godʼs government is the best so that “affliction shall not rise a second time.” (Nahum 1:9). Government based on force can only lead to death. Only Godʼs government, in which every citizens loves to obey the law, can endure for eternity.



APPENDIX The woman is not the literal city of Babylon

(a) This woman sat on 7 mountains (v 9) but literal Babylon did not.

(b) Literal Babylon is a ruin never to be inhabited (Isa 13:19-20).

(c) Literal Babylon sat on the literal waters of the literal river Euphrates. The waters upon which this whore sits are symbolic and are said to represent nations in v 15.


Is the two horned beast, the USA one of the seven heads?

(a) In Rev 13 the two horned beast is seen distinct from the 7 headed beast.

(b) The 7 heads are persecuting powers. The lamb-like USA has long been a great defender of religious liberty. The image to and of the beast, the USA forms is the 7th head of the beast.


A prophetic hour

The ten horns give their support to the beast for “one hour.” This “hour” apparently begins when the nations of the world agree to enforce the mark of the beast under the penalty of death. As it is unlikely that the nations give their power for just 60 literal minutes, the “hour” is evidently symbolic. As a symbolic day represents a year (Eze 4:6; Num 14:34) a symbolic hour (1/24th of a day) would be 1/24th of a year, i.e. about 15 literal days. As the last test will be over which day of the week we observe, 15 days would include two Sundays.


Thus, as the three Hebrews in Daniel 3 were given 2 chances to worship the image, so the end time saints may well be given 2 chances to worship the symbolic image under the penalty of death! Only if the “hour” is understood as a symbol do we have every measure of time used symbolically in prophecy:

  • Year (Dan 7:25);

  • Month (Rev 13:5);

  • Week (Dan 9:24-27);

  • Day (Rev 12:6);

  • Hour (Rev 17:12; 9:13).

Is the 6th head Rome because 6 is Babylonʼs number?

(a) There is no precedent that Rome is always 6th. Rome is the 4th kingdom in Daniel 2. Rome is the 4th kingdom in Daniel 7.

(b) 666, a trinity of sixes, is the number of the beast as a whole, not just Rome.

(c) The 6th head “is” when the beast “is not.” When the beast “is not” parallels the Papal head wounded to death in Rev 13. The 6th head which "is" cannot, therefore, be Rome and at the same time be Papal Rome which "is not".

(d) If the 6th head were Rome then one needs to find five heads prior to Rome. This leads to the inclusion of powers not figuring in the foundational prophecies of Daniel 2 & 7 (i.e. Egypt, Assyria) violating the repeat and enlarge principle. In Daniel 7, the fourth beast is said to be the fourth kingdom which is Rome. Daniel 7:23. Hence the third beast is the third kingdom, Grecia, the second beast the second kingdom, Medes & Persians and the first beast must be the first kingdom of the Daniel 2 image, Babylon.

(e) If Rome were the 6th head the 7 heads would not appear to follow the 4-3 pattern in which the first 4 of any 7 form a set and the last 3 form another set. See on verses 9-10.

(f) The first heads certainly came to power by conquering their predecessors. If the 6th head were Rome existing today who could be the 7th head which conquers it?


Seven indicates completeness. Could the heads represent all evil nations?

(a) The head that was wounded in Rev 13 was the Papal State. This suggests that the other heads are identifiable powers.

(b) The angel describes events specifically from the time of the sixth head saying five are fallen. What would 5 symbolize?


Should Pagan and Papal Rome be one head as they are one metal in Dan 2 and one horn in Dan 8?

(a) They are sufficiently different that a change in symbol from dragon to beast is given between Rev 12 and 13. The dragon (focus on Pagan Rome) gave the beast (focus on Papal Rome) his power, seat, and great authority.”

(b) Pagan Rome had to be “taken out of the way” to allow the rise of Papal Rome in 2Thess 2.

(c) The iron of the legs in Daniel 2 is Pagan Rome which transitions to the feet of iron and clay. The feet is a different type of Rome -Papal Rome with the addition of the Clay (religion)


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