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 show 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
colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven
heads and ten horns. 4. And the woman was arrayed in purple
and scarlet color, 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. p. 657, Para. 2.
In verse 19 of the preceding chapter, we were informed
great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give
unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his
wrath. The prophet now takes up more particularly the
subject of this great Babylon; and in order to give a full
presentation of it, goes back and gives us some of the
facts of her past history. That this apostate woman, as
presented in this chapter, is a symbol of the Roman
Catholic Church, is generally believed by Protestants.
Between this church and the kings of the earth there has
been illicit connection, and with the wine of her
fornication, or her false doctrines, the inhabitants of the
earth have been made drunk. p. 657, Para. 3.
Church and State. -- This prophecy is more definite than others applicable to the roman power, in that it distinguishes between church and state. We here have the woman, the church, seated upon a scarlet-colored beast, the civil power, by which she is upheld, and which she controls and guides to her own ends, as a rider controls the animal upon which he is seated. p. 657, Para. 4.
The vesture and decorations of this woman, as brought to view in verse 4, are in striking harmony with the application made of this symbol; for purple and scarlet are the chief colors in the robes of popes and cardinals; and among the myriads of precious stones which adorn her service, according to an eye-witness, silver is scarcely known, and gold itself looks but poorly. And from the golden cup in her hand, -- symbol of purity of doctrine and profession, which should have contained only that which is unadulterated and pure, or, explaining the figure, only that which is in full accordance with truth, -- there came forth only abominations, and wine of her fornication, fit symbol of her abominable doctrines and still more abominable practices. p. 658, Para. 1.
This woman is explicitly called Babylon. Is Rome, then, Babylon, to the exclusion of all other religious bodies? -- No, from the fact that she is called the mother of harlots, as already noticed, which shows that there are other independent religious organizations that constitute the apostate daughters, and belong to the same great family. p. 658, Para. 2.
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. 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.
p. 658, Para. 3.
A Cause of Wonder. -- Why should John wonder with great astonishment when he saw the woman drunken with the blood of saints? Was persecution of the people of God any strange thing in his day? Had he not seen Rome launch its most fiery anathemas against the church, himself being in banishment under its cruel power at the time he wrote? Why, then, should he be astonished, as he looked forward, and saw Rome still persecuting the saints? The secret of his wonder was just this: all the persecution he had witnessed had been from pagan Rome, the open enemy of Christ. It was not strange that pagans should persecute Christ's followers; but when he looked forward, and saw a church professedly Christian persecuting the followers of the Lamb, and drunken with their blood, he could but wonder with great amazement. p. 658, Para. 4.
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. 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. p. 659, Para. 1.
Rome in Three Phases. -- The beast of which the angel here
speaks is evidently the scarlet beast. A wild beast, like
the one thus introduced, is the symbol of an oppressive and
persecuting power; and while the Roman power as a nation
had a long, uninterrupted existence, it passed through
certain phases during which this symbol would be applicable
to it, and during which time, consequently, the beast, in
such prophecies as the present, might be said not to be, or
not to exist. Thus Rome in its pagan form was a persecuting
power in its relation to the people of God, during which
time it constituted the beast that was; but the empire was
nominally converted to Christianity; there was a transition
from paganism to another phase of religion falsely called
Christian; and during a brief period, while this transition
was going on, it lost its ferocious and persecuting
character, and then it could be said of the beast that it
was not. Time passed on, and it degenerated into popery,
and again assumed its bloodthirsty and oppressive
character, and then it constituted the beast that
or in John's day was to be. p. 659, Para. 2.
The Seven Heads. -- The seven heads are explained to be,
first, seven mountains, and then seven kings, or forms of
government; for the expression in verse 10,
And there are
seven kings, should read, and these are seven kings.
are fallen, says the angel, or passed away;
one is; the
sixth was then reigning; another was to come, and continue
for a short space; and when the beast reappeared in its
bloody and persecuting character, it was to be under the
eighth form of government, which was to continue till the
beast went into perdition. The seven forms of government
that have existed in the Roman empire are usually
enumerated as follows:  kingly;  consular; 
decemvirate;  dictatorial;  triumvirate; 
imperial; and  papal. Kings, consuls, decemvirs,
dictators, and triumvirs had passed away in John's day. He
was living under the imperial form. Two more were to arise
after his time. One was only to continue a short space, and
hence is not usually reckoned among the heads; while the
last, which is usually denominated the seventh, is in
reality the eighth. The head which was to succeed the
imperial, and continue a short space, could not be the
papal; for that has continued longer than all the rest put
together. We understand, therefore, that the papal head is
the eighth, and that a head of short continuance intervened
between the imperial and papal. In fulfilment of this, we
read that after the imperial form had been abolished, there
was a ruler who for about the space of sixty years governed
Rome under the title of the
Exarch of Ravenna. Thus we
have the connecting link between the imperial and papal
heads. The third phase of the beast that was, and is not,
and yet is, is the Roman power under the rule of the
papacy; and in this form it ascends out of the bottomless
pit, or bases its power on pretensions which have no
foundation but a mixture of Christian errors and pagan
superstitions. p. 659, Para. 3.
VERSE 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. p. 660, Para. 1.
The Ten Horns. -- On this subject, see remarks on Dan. 7:7, where they are shown to represent the ten kingdoms that arose out of the Roman empire. They receive power one hour [Gr. hora, an indefinite space of time] with the beast; that is, they reign a length of time contemporaneously with the beast, during which time they give to it their power and strength. p. 660, Para. 2.
Croly, in his work on the Apocalypse, offers this comment
on verse 12:
The prediction defines the epoch of the
papacy by the formation of the ten kingdoms of the Western
empire. 'They shall receive power one hour with the beast.'
The translation should be, 'in the same era'. The ten
kingdoms shall be contemporaneous, in contradistinction to
the 'seven heads,' which were successive. p. 661, Para.
This language must refer to the past, when the kingdoms of Europe were unanimous in giving their support to the papacy. It cannot apply to the future; for after the commencement of the time of the end, they were to take away its dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end [Dan. 7:26]; and the treatment which these kingdoms are finally to bestow upon the papacy, is expressed in verse 16, where it is said that they shall hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. A Part of this work the nations of Europe have been doing for years. The completion of it, burning her with fire, will be accomplished when Rev. 18:8 is fulfilled. p. 661, Para. 2.
These make war with the Lamb. Verse 14. Here we are carried into the future, to the time of the great and final battle; for at this time the Lamb has assumed the title of King of kings and Lord of lords, a title which he does not assume till his second coming. Chapter 19:11-16. p. 661, Para. 3.
VERSE 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.
p. 661, Para. 4.
An Important Symbol Defined. -- In verse 15 we have a plain definition of the Scripture symbol of waters; they denote peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. The angel told John, while calling his attention to this subject, that he would show him the judgment of this great harlot. In verse 16 that judgment is specified. This chapter has, naturally, more especial reference to the old mother, or Catholic Babylon. The next chapter, if we mistake not, deals with the character and destiny of another great branch of Babylon, the harlot daughters. p. 706, Para. 4.
© by S. D. Goeldner,