Updated: Feb 19, 2020
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 the destruction of the whore whom Heaven judged worthy of death.
Revelation depicts the battle between two women
A woman in Bible prophecy is symbolic of a church/religion (Jer 6:2; Isa 51:16; 2 Cor 11:2). Revelation depicts the struggle between two women who profess not just any church or religion but the Christian religion. One woman is the virgin of Revelation chapter 12 representing the true Christian church which keeps the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rev 12:17) and the other is the Whore of Revelation 17 symbolising an apostate Christian church system.
This “whore” or corrupt woman represents a corrupt religion. In Isa 47:1, 9 ancient Babylon, the centre of pagan religion is depicted as a mother of daughters. The pagan city of Nineveh was also likened to a whore and a witch (Nah 3:4). “In Rev 17 Babylon is represented as a woman - a figure which is used in the Bible as the symbol of a church, a virtuous woman representing a pure church, a vile woman an apostate church.”
This woman - the “great whore” (Rev 17:1), or mystical “Babylon the great” (v 5) - is guilty of “the blood...of all that were slain upon the earth” (Rev 18:24). In the broadest sense she may be thought of as all false religion throughout all time. Her spirit is the same but the forms she takes may vary including pagan, papal, apostate protestantism and even atheism. “The great city,” Babylon is spiritually called “Sodom and Egypt” in Rev 11:8. Sodom is the home of whores and Egypt represents those who deny the existence of the living God (cf. Exo 5:2), i.e. atheists. Satan’s masterpiece has been the papal church and for this reason the symbolism fits that system so perfectly.
Revelation chapter 17
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.
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.
Like Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8 and 11, Revelation chapter 17 outlines the seven kingdoms of Bible prophecy which has and will affect God's people in the last days of earth's history. Whether we as individuals will be one of God's people remains to be be seen but the prophecy is certain and the interpretation thereof sure.
The final kingdom in Daniel chapter 2 was Papal Rome a union of church and state represented by the feet of iron and clay of the great image. The final kingdom in Daniel chapter 7 was Papal Rome, the little horn power. The final kingdom in Daniel chapter 8 was Papal Rome in the symbolism of the little horn power which arose in the territory of Rome. The final kingdom of Daniel chapter 11 is Papal Rome symbolised as the King of the North who comes to his end and none shall help him in Daniel 11:45. It is, therefore, not surprising that here in Revelation 17 we see laid bare before all the power of Papal Rome controlling the state powers of the world in the symbol of a harlot woman riding and controlling the beast - the church (woman) controlling the state (beast) with the state carrying out the whims of the church in legislating in her favour. Religious liberty contrary to the dictates of Papal Rome will come to an end. Even now "freedoms" are gradually being eroded on many fronts, whether it be freedom of speech, views contrary to conscience, the church or political correctness.
Daniel chapter 2
Feet of Iron & Clay
Iron = Rome
Clay = Religion
Daniel chapter 7
The little Horn
Arose from Rome
See Daniel 7 study
Daniel chapter 8
The little Horn
See Daniel 8 study
Daniel chapter 11
The King of the North
See Daniel 11 study
DANIEL and REVELATION
Revelation chapter 12
Great Red Dragon
7 heads & 10 horns
Revelation chapter 13
Beast arises out of the sea
7 heads & 10 horns
Revelation chapter 17
Woman rides beast with
7 heads & 10 horns
Revelation chapter 17
NB: All the prophetic symbols except "ribs" representing a kingdom, power or nation meet in Revelation 17 including beasts, horns, heads, "king", mountain, city and waters or seas,
In vision John was carried forward in time and saw a woman representing the Papal church, supported by a beast representing the Papal State. The angel told John that the beast WAS (the beast supporting the Papal State during the dark ages), and IS NOT (when the Papal State received a deadly wound and was abolished in 1798) and shall ascend from the bottomless pit (The beast supporting the Papal church will rise from the grave when the deadly wound is healed). The Papal State “will be,” that is it will arise again. Then all the corrupt powers which have apostatized from God will give their support to the Papacy for a prophetic hour in which she will attempt to eradicate all those who keep the commandments of God. However, when her triumph looks certain all her supporters will turn on her and destroy her. Her destruction is described in Revelation 18.
verse 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:
This whore is called Mystery Babylon (verse 5) and she is said to sit upon many waters. The ancient city of Babylon sat on, or was built over, the literal waters of the river Euphrates, which ran through and around the city in various water courses. Here the Euphrates is explained to be a symbol of the nations of the world (v 15). The Euphrates connects this vision with the Battle of Armageddon mentioned under the 6th plague which also mentions the waters of the Euphrates.
The Great Whore
(a) A woman is symbolic of a church. (Jer 6:2; 2Cor 11:2).
(b) A pure woman represents a pure church (Rev 12:1)
(c) The whore represents an apostate church (cf. Isa 1:21; Hos 4:11)
(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. She is the mother of harlots.
(e) This woman is the counterfeit of the true church described in Revelation 12 which keeps the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus.
(f) This woman is riding a beast - a beast is a symbol of a kingdom (Daniel 7:23; 8:20-22).
(g) The beast represents the civil / political powers which support her (See v 8).
A worldwide church
This great whore sits on “many waters” which represent the peoples and nations of the world. (Rev 17:1, 15). She is therefore a catholic (world-wide) church. Incidentally Catholic means universal. She is called Mystery Babylon representing the pagan practises of Babylon.
verse 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.
A fornicating church
This Church has turned from Christ to fornicate spiritually with the State powers whom she seduces into enforcing her doctrines. Instead of using persuasion the corrupt church uses the power of the State to compel. Spiritual fornication consists of idolatry & friendship with the world (Eze 16:17; Jer 3:6, 9; James 4:4). Papal Rome unties with the State to enforce its doctrines (wine) whenever it can. Incidentally the Catholic Church actually uses alcohol in their communion service. The wine Jesus used in the first communion service was not fermented but pure unfermented grape juice.
verse 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.
She sits upon a beast
The beast represents the civil political powers which support her (See v 8).
A woman in Bible prophecy represents a church. (Jer 6:2; 2Cor 11:2). As a pure woman represents a pure church, the whore of Revelation 17 represents an apostate church system that purports to follow the Bible (cf. Isa 1:21; Hos 4:11).
It is interesting that Europe or the European union uses a similar symbol of a woman riding a beast, its bull god, but Europe is not a religion or church and is not the woman of Revelation 17. Europe does have a role in prophecy as the ten horns of the beast representing the original ten divisions of the Roman empire in Daniel 7
"Unity in diversity" - A confident Europe but the prophecy of Daniel 2 and Revelation said they would not unite but for a very short time.
Carried away in the spirit
Carried TO ANOTHER POINT IN TIME in vision. John was “carried away in the spirit [in vision]” in Rev 21:10, where he beheld events that were to occur AFTER his day. So here John is carried away into the future and sees a woman riding the beast was not something that was to OCCUR AFTER John’s time.
THE SCARLET COLOURED BEAST
A Beast = A KINGDOM or a nation, a CIVIL power (Dan 7:23; 8:20-22).
Scarlet = SIN, which is the transgression of God’s ten commandment law (Isa 1:18; 1John 3:4; Rom 6:7). This beast (kingdom) is sinful and represents Satan’s kingdom which has been headed by various world powers here represented by the seven heads. The beast is set in distinction from the great whore. The beast represents the State of CIVIL power while the Whore represents the Church or RELIGIOUS power. Here then is depicted a union of church & state which enforces the doctrines of the church.
Heads = KINGDOMS. Heads parallels horns and horns = KINGDOMS. (cf. Dan 7: 6; 8:22). The Heads = Mountains (Rev 17:9). Mountains = KINGDOMS (cf. Dan 2:35, 44; Jer 51:24-25). The Heads are seven kings (Rev 17:10) Kings = KINGDOMS (cf. Dan 7:17, 23; Dan 2:38-39). The heads are not various forms of government of one kingdom, neither are they Popes or individual kings. The Bible decodes the symbol of seven heads as seven KINGDOMS. The heads are successive as indicated by the term “five have fallen, one is, the other is yet to come. (v 10).
Rev 12 describes a scarlet coloured dragon with seven-headed 10 horns
Rev 13 describes a beast with seven heads and 10 horns
These two powers are combined in the description of the beast of Revelation 17: a scarlet coloured beast with seven heads and 10 horns.
In Rev 13 one of the beasts heads received a deadly wound which would heal. The Papal State was abolished in 1798 but the deadly wound is to heal. See on Rev 13. The Papal State is therefore one of the heads.
Seven = COMPLETE. Seven days in a complete week, seven churches, seals, etc.) Here then is described a complete set kingdoms that have opposed God
and His people.
There are just 7 powers or kingdoms represented as beasts in Daniel and Revelation:
1. Babylon (Lion)
2. Medo-Persia (Bear)
3. Greece (Leopard)
4. Rome (Terrible beast of Daniel 7)
5. Beast with seven heads and 10 horns (Rev 13:1-10)
6. Beasts from the bottomless pit (Rev 11)
7. Beast with two lamblike horns (Rev 13:11-17).
Note: The two horned beast is distinct from the seven headed beast in Rev 13 but it makes an image of the beast’s Papal phase.
Horns= KINGDOMS. (Four horns = four KINGDOMS (Dan 8:8, 22. King and KINGDOM are used interchangeably (Dan 2:38-39; Dan 7:17, 23).
TEN often represents all. Christ is chiefest among TEN thousand (among all). All the angels are described as Ten thousand times TEN thousand etc.
verse 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:
Purple & scarlet
The whore is dressed similar to the High Priest with precious stones and a name on her forehead (cf. Exo 28:5, 15-22 36-38) but unlike the High priest she has no BLUE. Blue was to remind God’s people to keep “ALL the commandments of the Lord” (Num 15:37-39). The lack of blue indicates that this church does not keep ALL of God’s commandments. Indeed Roman Catholicism openly admits that it does not keep the seventh day Sabbath but claims to have changed the day to Sunday (see on Dan 7:25).
“she [The church of Rome]... substituted the observance of SUNDAY the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is NO SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY.” A Doctrinal Catechism, (3rd US ed.) S. Keenan, p 174.
Purple is the colour of kings. (Matt 5:17-18). The purple indicates that this Church is also a kingdom.
The Papacy (Roman Catholicism) is a kingdom as well as a church. (See any Encyclopedia).
Incidentally Papal priest actually wear purple & scarlet robes!
Gold, stones, pearls etc.
This church looks glorious with outward splendor. However Gods people do not wear such jewelry but are rather shamefaced or sober (cf. 1Tim 2:9). Incidentally the Papacy has much gold, pearls etc.
“In 1512A.D., a book was compiled by Archbishop Marcellus of Rome and dedicated to Pope Leo X. It enumerates five different articles of dress of SCARLET colour that only Popes and cardinals can wear. A vest is mentioned studded with PEARLS. The Pope’s mitre is GOLD and precious STONES. These are the very characteristics...Revelation thrice ascribes to Babylon.” Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary, 1953, p1414.
“Pope Paul II wore vestments decorated with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, chrysolithes, jaspers... and all manner of precious STONES.” B. Platina (Roman Catholic authority), Lives of the Popes.
Golden cup full of abominations This cup contains intoxicating wine with which the kings of the earth were made drunk (v 2). The word wine in Scripture can refer to fermented OR unfermented grape juice. In place of “the cup of salvation” (Ps 116:13) containing unfermented “wine,” the symbol of Christ’s uncorrupted doctrine, (Mark 14:24), the whore’s cup is full of fermented alcoholic intoxicating wine a symbol of her corrupted doctrine). The cup is full of abominations. Included among Biblical abominations are unclean food (Lev 11), Idolatry & Sun worship (Eze 8:9-17). Indeed this system allows men to drink alcohol, eat unclean foods, bow before idols, and worship on the Sunday. Incidentally the Papacy literally uses alcoholic wine in its communion services in a golden cup or chalice!
verse 5 And upon her forehead [was] a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Mystery Babylon. A Mother church.
The High priest had “Holiness to the Lord” on his forehead (Exo 28:36-38; Exo 39:30-31). The whore has “Mystery Babylon, Mother of Harlots.” This church has daughters, that is others churches, which came out of her yet tragically follow their Mother Church in sacrificing truth in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world.
The Catholic Church openly claims to be the Mother:
“That observance [of Sunday instead of Saturday] remains a reminder of the MOTHER CHURCH from which the non-Catholic sects broke away.” ‘Father’ James O’Brien, The Faith of Millions (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, (Roman Catholic) Inc., 1974), p401.
In 1725A.D. Pope Benedict XIII, in his declaration of a jubilee, described the church of Rome as, “...the MOTHER of all believers and the MISTRESS of all churches.” Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary, 1953, p1415
Babylon originally meant “Gate to God.” In the Bible Babylon means confusion (Gen 11:9). The Papacy claims to hold the keys of heaven and hell and to be the only way to God and salvation. The Papacy effectively claims to be the gate to God.
verse 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.
This church martyred Christians during her period of supremacy. See on Daniel 7:25. The Catholic Church had countless souls martyred as heretics in the periods known as the Dark Ages and the Inquisition.
verse 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.
A Beast in prophecy refers to a kingdom, nation, State power. The beast here represents Satan’s kingdom which supports the whore - Satan’s religious power. (See Daniel 7:23; 8:20-22).
verse 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 [will be].
The angel explained that the beast John saw WAS, IS NOT and SHALL ASCEND. The angel also explained that five heads are FALLEN, ONE IS, the other is not yet come. Evidently the angel must mean that the beast John saw (that is the beast when it was supporting the Mother of harlots) WAS, and is not, while the beast still IS in ANOTHER form at the time of the 6th head.
To understand this passage we must identify from what point in time the description was given. Evidence to shows that the explanation was given from OUR TIME: John was “carried away in the spirit” to see the vision (Rev 17:3). The only other time John was carried in vision he was carried to a time long after his own time to see events that were to happen long after John’s day (Rev 21:10).
John was told that the beast which he saw, that is the beast supporting the Mother Church that was drunk with the blood of the saints, “WAS” (past tense), “IS NOT” (present tense)” and “SHALL ASCEND” (Future tense). Evidently the explanation is from a time AFTER the period of Papal supremacy; AFTER the Dark Ages; AFTER the harlot daughter churches had come out from her; In the understanding of the vision we are told “here is the mind that
hath wisdom...” (Rev 17:9). King Solomon was known for his great wisdom (1Kings 10:23). The wisdom of Solomon is seen in the book of Ecclesiastes where he wrote: “The thing that HATH BEEN, it is that which SHALL BE; and that which IS DONE is that which SHALL BE DONE: and there is no new thing under the sun.” (Ecc 1:9).
The description John is given is from a time AFTER all these things. Furthermore the explanation was given from the time of the 6th head -
When it could be said that FIVE HAD FALLEN, ONE IS, the other IS NOT YET COME: The books of Daniel and Revelation explain each other. In harmony with the outline prophecies of Daniel chapters 2 and 7, the first head (kingdom) is Babylon. The first five that are fallen would therefore
4. Pagan Rome
5. The Papal State
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not...
The beast which supported the Papal Church WAS but it does not now exist.
The beast which supported the Papal Church IS NOT
The beast which supported the Papal Church SHALL ASCEND OUT OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT.
The explanation is given from the time of the sixth head. ...and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit (Gr. abussos) As that which was and “IS NOT” is to ascend out of the bottomless pit, the bottomless pit is evidently the place of things which are not, a place of lifelessness, the place of the dead, the GRAVE.
The grave is called 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. The word “bottomless pit” is from the Greek word “Abussos” and is translated “deep,” in Rom 10:7 where it actually refers to THE GRAVE. The beast which supported the whore “IS NOT” but it is to return from the dead. The deadly wound the Papal State suffered is to heal (compare Rev 13).
...and go into perdition:
This word perdition brings to mind Judas and the man of sin. Judas was called the “son of PERDItioN.” He appeared to be a follower of Christ but betrayed the Lord. So this power will appear to support the genuine but will betray the faithful unto death. Paul also foretold that there would be a falling away from the truth that would result in the development of the man of sin, who would go into PERDITION. (2Thess 2).
1. Babylon (Lion - Daniel 7)
2. Medo-Persia (Bear - Daniel 7)
3. Greece (Leopard - Daniel 7)
4. Rome (Terrible beast of Daniel 7)
5. Papal Rome Beast (Rev 13:1-10)
6. Atheism: Beast from bottomless pit (Rev 11)
7. Protestant Rome Beast (USA) (Rev 13:11-18).
verse 9 And here [is] the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
Heads represent kingdoms or nations as they did on the four-headed leopard of Dan 7:6. Mountains = Kingdoms or Nations (Dan 2:35, 44; Jer 51:24-25).
The seven heads therefore symbolize seven successive KINGDOMS or NATIONS that Satan has and will use to oppose God’s work on earth.
Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome (pagan), Papal Rome, the Atheistic State (See on Rev 11) and the Apostate protestant State. (the image of the papal beast).
Incidentally Rome is known as the seven hilled city. While the biblical definition of a mountain is a kingdom it is interesting to note that Rome was known as the seven hilled city. Webster’s large unabridged dictionary says this under the entry “seven-hilled”: “as, the SEVEN-HILLED CITY, that is, ROME, Italy.”
verse 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.
Or “THEY ARE seven kings.” Kings = kingdoms (cf. Dan 7:17, 23).
Five [heads] are fallen, and one is...
The heads come to power through conquest. For example the second head came to power by killing the first head. This 6th head would therefore be that power which "killed" the 5th head, the Papal State. What power killed the Papal State? The Atheistic State killed the Papal State giving it a deadly wound in
1798 (Rev 13:3).
All the heads rule successively and come to power by conquering the previous head. Thus Babylon (head 1) is killed by Medo-Persia (head 2) which is killed by Greece (head 3) which is killed by Rome (head 4) which is succeeded by Papal Rome (head 5) which is killed by the Atheistic State (head 6) which will be killed by the Apostate Protestant State (head 7) which exists at the end with the head that was and is not (the Papal State head 5 returned to life and called the 8th head).
As one head is taken away (conquered or killed) another comes to life. The ‘living’ head at any time is said to be the beast for that time (cf. Rev 13:3,
14; Rev 17:11).
The ‘live’ head, when John saw the beast carrying the whore was the Papal State or Papal Rome.
Though the beast has 7 heads, and presumably 7 mouths, only one head reigns at any one time and thus only only ONE mouth speaks for the beast at
a time (Rev 12:15).
The same beast is described in Rev 11, 12, 13. The correct view will harmonize all three chapters. Rev 11 describes this beast as “THE beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.
In Rev 12 the seven heads are crowned confirming that the seven heads represent seven distinct KINGDOMS/NATIONS.
In Rev 13 ONE of the 7 heads was wounded and this head eventually heals. ONE of the heads was the Papal State so the other heads represent other States. Each head comes to power by conquering the previous head. The heads appear in order. The principle of repeat & enlarge indicates that Revelation 17 builds on earlier prophecies in which Babylon was the first. 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. Babylon was also the first kingdom in Daniel 2.
Seven represents completeness - 7 days in a week; 7 times the priest sprinkled blood before the vail; 7 times a day David praised the Lord; 7 spirits; 7 golden candlesticks; 7 stars; 7 churches; 7 seals; 7 trumpets; 7 headed beast of Rev 12, 13, 17; 7 last plagues, etc etc.
The heads form a COMPLETE set:
A COMPLETE set of corrupt forms of government from monarchy to republic. A complete set of the major persecuting nations. A COMPLETE set of governments that have supported Paganism, Papalism, Atheism, and Apostate Protestantism.
All the state powers represented by beasts in Daniel & Revelation are here included. There are seven state powers represented by beasts in
Daniel and the Revelation:
1. Babylon; 2. Medo-Persia; 3. Greece; 4. Rome; 5. the Papal State; 6. the Atheistic State; 7. The Apostate Protestant State.
The seven heads fit the Bible pattern of sevens being made of a first set of four, followed by a second set of three.
In the Bible sevens are divided into 4-3:
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: 4 are Old Testament
localized powers - 3 are New Testament global powers.
The 6th head - the atheistic State, which conquered the Papal State, now “IS” while the beast that supported the Papal church “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. The God defying spirit of Pharaoh was seen again in France. As the atheistic state arose FROM THE PIT (Rev 11:7) it sent the Papal
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...”
In this period the world’s dominant nations (European, American) 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.
The head on the beast today is the Atheistic State (Atheism), which is as much a religion as Paganism or Papalism. Papalism is anti-Christ. Atheism is anti-god. 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 the “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 [Catholicism] 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.
And the other [the 7th head] is not yet come. As apostate Christianity bred atheism so atheism breeds apostate Christianity. The apostate Christian world is rising to overthrow atheism. In response to years of atheistic legislation, societal moral decay, etc. Protestant groups are today influencing the State to enforce Christian legislation. When Protestantism unites with the state to enforce its ideas it will have become an “image” of the Papal system - the union of church & state, the image of the Papal beast. (See Rev 13). The 7th head - The Apostate Protestant state, is to take away the power of the 6th head - the atheistic state, enforce the worship of the beast (Rev 13:15), and “continue a short space” (v 10) compared to all the previous heads (nations).
verse 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
Assisted by the 7th head the Papal State will be brought back to life as the so-called 8th head. Why is it called the eighth? Because the number eight indicates resurrection and is appropriate for a head that was, is not, and shall be.
(a) 8 souls passed through Noah’s Flood, a kind of RESURRECTION into the new world.
(b) The first day of the week, the day Christ was RESURRECTED, is mentioned 8 times in the N.T.
(c) The feast of booths (tabernacles) when the people lived away from home lasted 8 days. It prefigured the saints living in heaven following the first RESURRECTION. Leviticus 23:39-43.
(d) Circumcision, done the 8th day after birth, is likened to baptism where the old man is buried in the watery ‘grave’ and RESURRECTED to newness of life. Luke 2:21; Col 2:11–12.
...and is of the seven
The eighth head is of the seven. The Papal power was indeed one of the seven. The 5th head, the Papal head, will return to life. The deadly wound will be healed (Rev 13). In the end the Papal head and the Apostate Protestant head (the image of the papacy) will exist together: “If any man worship the beast AND his image...” (Rev 14:9) and under ONE HEAD - the papal power - the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses.”
“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.” E.G. White, Signs of the Times, 12 June, 1893.
In a secondary sense the 8th may also refer to Satan himself who was behind all seven heads. At the time of the 8th head, just prior to Christ’s return, Satan will personate Christ in a counterfeit Second Coming in a last desperate attempt to deceive the faithful (See Matt 24:23-26).
...and goeth into perdition.
This word perdition brings to mind Judas. Judas was a professed follower of Christ who betrayed Him. He is called “the son of perdition.” The 8th head is a professedly Christian power and will go into perdition. Describing the falling away from the truth that would result in the development of the the Papal power we read “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that MAN OF SIN be revealed, the SON OF PERDITION.” 2Thess 2:3.
Verses 12, 13 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. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.