Revelation 17 – Part 2

“So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” Revelation 17:3

Before Armageddon is described in detail and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ takes place (Revelation 19), one final event must be addressed which is the destruction of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17-18).Last time we discovered that “Babylon” is a common code name in the New Testament for the city of Rome and its evil lifestyle (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:1-18:21; cf. I Peter 5:13). John now receives a vision about this city and its decadence.

The apostle John writes, “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” (Revelation 17:3). The angel (17:1) “carried” John “away in the Spirit into the wilderness.” The “wilderness” was a common place in the Bible where God met with people to give them revelation (cf. Exodus 3:1; I Kings 19:4; Luke 1:80). 1 It was there in the wildernesswhere John saw the “great harlot” mentioned in verse 1 as now “sitting on a scarlet beast,” which the interpreting angel identifies as the Man of Sin or Beast from the sea who will be “full of names of blasphemy” attacking the character of God (17:3; cf. 13:1; 17:7-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). 2 In this description the “beast” is “scarlet,” representing its luxury and splendor. 3

The fact that this woman is “sitting” on the beast suggests that Rome will initially control the Man of Sin and benefit from his expanding kingdom represented by the “seven heads and ten horns” during the Tribulation period.

“The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:4). “The woman” was outwardly beautiful and wealthy much like royalty, and the “golden cup” in her hand added to her royal appearance, but it was full of idolatrous “abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.”

“In the Old Testament ‘abominations’ were sinful objects and practices that God hated – things such as carved images of pagan gods (Deuteronomy 7:25-26), idol worship (Deuteronomy 17:2-5) witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:9-12), and sexual sin and perversion (Leviticus 18).” 4

The woman’s adornment is like the religious trappings of ritualistic churches today. While purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones, and pearls call all represent beauty and glory in relation to the true faith, here they reveal a false religion that misrepresents the truth. 5

John saw “on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” (Revelation 17:5). In John’s day, “a harlot whose forehead was inscribed was considered the lowest of prostitutes, a tattooed slave.” 6 This is not the literal city of Babylon, but “MYSTERY BABYLON.” The word “mystery” (mystērion) refers to something not previously revealed but now made clear. 7 This “MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT” is a code name for Rome (cf. 17:1, 9, 18; cf. I Peter 5:13). Rome is not only a prostitute herself (sinful and ungodly) but is also “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH,” producing other idolatrous and immoral cities all over the world that mislead people away from the true God.

“In our day the ecumenical church has faced a lot of problems. It seems that they have recognized psychological differences in people and that it is impossible to water down theologies and practices to suit everyone. So, each group will come into this great world ecumenical system but retain some of its peculiarities. For example, those who want to immerse will immerse. Those who want to sprinkle will sprinkle. Those who want elaborate ritual will have it, and those who want no ritual will have that. You see, there is going to be more than the mother harlot – there will be a whole lot of harlots, a regular brothel.” 8

While I believe many born again Christians will come out of the Roman Catholic Church and be raptured before the Tribulation begins, the church’s overall idolatrous structure will continue to exist during the first half of the Tribulation and have worldwide influence among those who will suddenly become “religious” as the judgments of the Tribulation unfold.

Next John writes, “I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.” (Revelation 17:6). Of all the “abominations” in Rome’s cup (17:4), the most heinous would be the murder of the followers of God. She was “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” The word “drunk” not only suggests she was addicted to killing God’s followers, but she also found immense pleasure in doing so. Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and an innumerable number of others were violently executed at the hand of the Roman government. 9

Bible Prophecy teacher, Bill Salus states, “When we look at Rome… it … was first called pagan Rome with the Roman Empire and then it morphed into Papal Rome where of course now you have the Vatican. There is no shortage of crimes and sins that have been perpetrated by them. A few with Pagan Rome put to death God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Martyred Christians for over three centuries. Some sources say [there] were over 210,000 during the time of the spread of Christianity. [They] killed 1.1 million people, mostly Jews according [to] the Jewish historian Josephus by 70 AD. Destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD. Destroyed it again in 135 AD with the Bar Kokhba Revolt, killed 100,000 Jews between 132 and 135…

“As the Roman Empire started to disintegrate, they found it favorable to embrace Christianity to maintain its power for as long as it was good… We are dealing with religious aspects of the harlot world religion. And again, I would say that is centered in Rome and has something to do with the Vatican. And the Papal Rome… crimes and sins there: they expelled Jews from Spain in 1492 AD, expelled them from Portugal in 1497 AD, killed tens of thousands of Jews in the Crusades, hundreds of thousands of Protestants if not millions in the Reformation. It is responsible for at least 100,000 victims of sexual abuse in this country [USA]. What about worldwide? So, and these are just a few of the rap sheet of the crimes and sins.” 10

Just as history shows that the Roman Catholic Church has shed the blood of many believers and victims of the Crusades and Roman Inquisition, so this woman riding on the beast representing a future worldwide religious system will put to death many believers who remain faithful to Christ during the Tribulation period. The apostleJohn “marveled with great amazement” that a religious system claiming to honor God was so obsessed with killing His faithful followers (17:6b).

It is important to understand that the religious persecution by the Roman Catholic Church mentioned above does not represent biblical Christianity. Just because someone says they are a Christian or does something in the name of Jesus Christ does not mean they are genuine believers in Jesus.

The Bible emphasizes that eternal life is a free gift (John 4:10-14; Romans 6:23b; Ephesians 2:8-9). A person does not receive eternal life by living a good life, keeping God’s commandments, going to church, praying every day, being baptized with water, or hating their enemies. The Bible tells us that a person must come to God as a sinner (Romans 3:23), realizing that Christ died for all his sins and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-6), and then believe or trust in Christ alone for His gift of everlasting life (John 3:36; 6:40, 47). The moment a person believes in Christ alone to give him or her everlasting life, God not only gives him the free gift He paid for when He died on the cross – eternal life – He also comes to live inside that person through His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11; Galatians 2:20; 3:2) to give them the power to live a life that pleases Him.

Many people who claim to be Christians do not understand this simple gospel message. Instead of trusting in Christ alone to get them to heaven, they are trusting their good works or Christ plus their good works to get them to heaven, and therefore, they do not have God’s power in them to live a life that pleases Him. Many non-Christians use their religion to try to cover up their sins. So, it is important to understand that not all people who say they are Christians have God’s power in them to live a different life because they are not trusting in Christ alone to save them and give them everlasting life. Instead, they are depending on their good works or religious efforts to get them to heaven, instead of on Christ alone and His finished work on the cross.

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for revealing more about the coming worldwide false religion whose outward appearance is very appealing, but whose inward condition is evil and against the character of God. Many people have been deceived by similar false religions today whose outward beauty and wealth are alluring, but inwardly they leave people empty and powerless to overcome their bondage to sin and shame. Such false religions are opposed to the true God, Jesus Christ, and mishandle His truth to lead people away from Him. We pray Lord God that You would remove the Satanic blindness from those who are involved in these false religions so they can discover the true God Who loves them enough to lay down His life for them on a cross and rise from the dead so whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. In the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.


1. Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 184.

2. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach, The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1563; cf. Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on Revelation (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 15, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014 Kindle Edition), pg. 313; Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Study Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition 2019), pg. 2409.

3. Tom Constable, pg. 185.

4. Vacendak, pg. 1565.

5. John F. Walvoord, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (David C. Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), location 6068.

6. Vacendak, pg. 1564.

7. Constable, pg. 185.

8. Ibid., pg. 186 cites J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 5 Vols., (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible Radio; and Nashville: Thomas Nelson, In., 1983), 5:1033.

9. Vacendak, pg. 1564.

10. “Bill Salus on Mystery Babylon video on the August 26, 2018, Christ in Prophecy show at