1582 Jesuit Rheims Bible Annotations:
(1) “[The great whore is] the whole company of the reprobate…..This woman signifies all persecutors of saints……It is most blasphemous and foolish to apply this prophecy to the Church of Rome and Apostolic See, either now or then, which was spoken only regarding the earthly state of that city because it was the seat of the Emperor. It was not spoken of Peter’s seat, for ancient Rome banished more than 30 Popes, Christ’s Vicars, one after another, endeavoring to destroy the whole Church. The Church of Rome was one thing, and Babylon in Rome another thing. Peter sat in Rome and Nero sat in Rome. But Peter sat in the Church of Rome, while Nero sat in the Babylon of Rome. This distinction the [Protestant] Heretics might have learned from St. Peter himself, 1 Peter 5, writing this, The saluteth you, that is in Babylon, co-elect. Thus, the Church which was the very chosen Church was in Rome when Rome was Babylon. Whereby it is evident that whether ‘Babylon’ or the ‘great whore’ signify Rome or not, it cannot signify the Church of Rome, which is now and was always distinct from the earthly Roman Empire. And even if it is true, that in the beginning of the Church, Nero and the rest of the persecuting Emperors (who were figures of Antichrist) did principally sit in Rome, so also it may well be that the great Antichrist have will his seat there (though some think that Jerusalem, not Rome, shall be Antichrist’s principle city); yet even then shall neither the Church of Rome nor the Pope of Rome be Antichrist, but shall be persecuted by Antichrist and driven out of Rome, if it be possible. For the Antichrist will bear as much ‘goodwill’ to Christ’s Vicar and the Roman Church as the Protestants do now, yet he shall have more power then they to persecute the Pope and the Church.”
And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and of the martyrs of Jesus…. “It is evident that this woman signifies the entire body of all the persecutors who have and shall have shed so much blood of the just: of the Prophets, Apostles, and other Martyrs from the beginning of the world to the end. The Protestants foolishly expound it of singularly of Rome, for it was there that Heretics were put to death, they say, willfully ignoring the persecutions undergone by Christians in other countries. But shedding the blood of Heretics [as we did in Rome] is not the same thing as shedding the blood of saints, no more so than shedding the blood of thieves and murderers would be considered shedding saints’ blood. For shedding the blood of such malefactors as just punishment for their crimes will no Commonwealth be held guilty.”
(2) “The Angel himself expounds these 7 hills to be synonymous with the 7 heads and 7 kings. Yet the [Protestant] Heretics, being exceedingly blinded with malice against the Church of Rome, are as madmen, taking them for 7 literal hills upon which old Rome did stand. They do this so that they might convince the unlearned that [present-day] Rome is the seat of Antichrist. But if they had any consideration they might note that the Prophet’s visions in the book of Revelation are often signified in groups of ‘seven;’ whether speaking of heads, horns, candlesticks, Churches, kings, hills, or other things: and that he did not allude to the hills because they were seven in number, but because ‘seven’ is a mystical number, as is ‘ten.’ It signifies the entire group universally taken together, whatever the particular subject at hand. Thus, the seven hills, heads or Kingdoms (which are viewed as one and the same thing) represent all the kingdoms of the world that persecute Christians; their heads and mountains signifying their height above others, in terms of their dignity. And some interpreters understand it of seven special Empires, Kingdoms or States which were or shall be the greatest persecutors of God’s people. For example, Egypt, Canaan, Babylon, the Persians and the Greeks comprise five of the seven. The Roman Empire, the greater persecutor of the saints, would be the sixth, of whom the Apostle says, yet is, Rev. 17:8, meaning ‘still stands.’ But when John wrote this the seventh had not yet come, and neither is it come in our day. For this seventh State is that of Antichrist, who shall not come as long as the Empire of Rome stands, as St. Paul did prophesy, 2 Thess. 2.”
And the woman which thou sawest is the great city, which hath kingdom over the kings of the earth. “If this be meant of any one city, and not of the universal society of the reprobate (which is the city of the Devil, just as the universal fellowship of the faithful is called the city of God) it is most likely to be spoken of old Rome, as some of the Greek Fathers expound it, comprising the time from the first Emperors until the time of Constantine, who made an end of the persecution. For it was by authority of the old Roman Empire that Christ was put to death. After him the two chief Apostles, Peter and Paul, were likewise martyred, followed by their successors, the Popes. Infinite Catholic men throughout the world have been put to death by lesser kings who were all subject to Rome. But these Antichristian persecutions ceased when Constantine reigned, yielding up the city to the Pope. The Pope does not sit as ruler of the world by means of an Empire as did the Heathen, but is instead the father and spiritual ruler of the Church. In our opinion, though, we prefer the former interpretation whereby Babylon is the city of the Devil.”
(3) [Editor’s note: The Rheims Bible is silent regarding the identity of the scarlet-colored Beast.]
1590 Jesuit Ribera Revelation Commentary:
[Pareus on Ribera, re: Rev. 17]:
(1) “Ribera does not deny that under the figure of a woman, Rome is spoken thereof. However, he denies it symbolizes Papal Rome and does not even mention verse 18…..Ribera interprets her as the ancient heathen city of Rome, who allegedly induced the nations under her to serve her idols.” [Editor’s note: Pareus makes the point that the very opposite was, in fact, true. The Romans embraced the deities of other nations. The Pantheon is an example of such ecumenical worship. Christ was the only Deity they did not embrace.]
And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and of the martyrs of Jesus…. “Ribera agrees that this description fits no other city but Rome. But he again sends the reader to ancient Rome, ruled by Nero, Domitian, Diocletian, and other persecutors of Christians.”
(2) “Ribera interprets the seven mountains as the city of ancient Rome. The ‘kings’ he interprets as the Kings of the whole earth, Rev. 17:2. Ribera understood that each of the seven Kings, or heads, comprised many, as evidenced in the ram and goat of Daniel which the former denoted the Kings of the Medes and Persians, while the latter denoted the Kings of the Macedonians. Thus, he did not believe the seven Kings to be limited to seven literal Kings.” [Editor’s note: See below for actual quotes from Ribera:]
“For the writers who have otherwise interpreted it are forced to by the truth itself to yield unto us: that Rome is that whorish city to be destroyed and overthrown.”
“The foregoing words, God put it into their hearts, belong to the desolation and burning of Rome, for they show the cause of so great a desolation effected by them, who were thought to have been [Rome’s] friends.”
“The judgment of Rome’s desolation is not secret, but manifest to all.”
“Ribera does not view Babylon as the literal city of the Chaldees, nor can it represent the world of the wicked as some interpret it, for it stands on seven mountains, Rev. 17:9. Thus, the Jesuit ingeniously confesses Babylon to be Rome, citing such authorities as Augustine, Eusebius, Bede, Victorinus, Jerome, Tertullian, Bellarmine, etc. We Reformed approve of this teaching. Yet both Ribera and Bellarmine feign this prophecy to be speaking of heathen, not Papal Rome. Ribera, the Jesuit, not daring to deny so evident a truth that ancient Rome is not the Babylon which is here spoken, changes his arguments, like a chameleon, to save the integrity and honor of the Pope.
“First, he propounds a weighty question which, he says, has not yet been discerned by his fellow Papist brethren, i.e., the fact that John foretells of numerous evils to befall Rome which, though it was once the chief seat of idolatry, is now the chief seat of sanctity and defender of the Catholic faith, as well as the right and lawful seat of the head of the Church, the Pope.
“Secondly, he objects that by ‘Babylon’ Papal Rome cannot be understood because (a) John describes a most powerful and wealthy city who is the Queen of the world, which characteristics eliminates Papal Rome who is not, nor ever will be such a city; (b) In Rev. 18:20, “the heaven and holy Apostles and Prophets are entreated to rejoice over her [destruction] because God had avenged His saints. But which of the Apostles or Prophets has the Church of Rome or Papal Rome persecuted? What misery has she caused them that they should rejoice at her punishment?” Therefore, he concludes that the ‘Babylon’ here spoken of is that of heathen Rome which persecuted the Apostles and Prophets. Yet by this Ribera contradicts himself because earlier he stated that this passage speaks of a future state of Rome…..when Rome shall then be punished for the wickedness of its heathen past.
“Understanding that these evident truths cannot be ignored, he is necessarily forced to grant that Papal Rome is Babylon. Notwithstanding, to maintain the honor and trust in the Pope, Ribera devises a new prophecy, namely, that Rome towards the end of the world shall expel the Pope, along with all the Catholic saints, when it shall apostatize, returning to the wickedness and idolatry of its heathen past. At that time Rome shall indeed be Babylon, the warehouse of all filthiness and idolatry, falling away from the Pope, expelling him and all Christians. Thus, whatsoever John prophesies regarding the ruin, burning and horrible plagues of Babylon appertains to Rome, says Ribera, after she thrusts out the Pope, Christ’s Vicar. For without this fictitious explanation, this subtle Jesuit writer saw that the Pope of Rome could not but be condemned as Antichrist. Thus he is hoping by this artificial device to shift the argument of the Protestants, which states, ‘He that in the last times rules Babylon, the seat of Antichrist, is the Antichrist. The Roman Pope in the last times rules Babylon Rome, the seat of Antichrist. Therefore, the Pope of Rome is Antichrist.’
“Ribera attempts to weaken our argument, not by denying Rome, which is possessed by the Pope in the last times; nor by denying Babylon in the last times is the seat of Antichrist. Rather he denies that present-day Rome is Babylon, the present-day seat of Antichrist, which is now held by the Pope. Ribera argues that before Antichrist’s coming Rome shall fall away from Christianity and revert back to Paganism, thrusting out the Pope.”
(3) “[Ribera interprets the scarlet –colored beast as] the Devil reigning, as he is described in Rev. 13; or else it is the kingdom of the Devil. He denies this is the same Beast from the abyss by reason of the omission of the Greek article, ‘the.’ Ribera contradicts himself, for in Rev. 19:20 and 20:10 he interprets the Beast as Antichrist, not the Devil.”
1867 J. N. Darby Synopsis of the New Testament - Revelation:
(1) “The characters of Babylon are first portrayed. Like the beast, she is only one thing in the judgment, but morally she is more important than all the rest. The general character is the great active idolatress that has gained influence over the mass of the nations; next, that the kings of the earth have lived in guilty intimacy with her, seeking her favors, while those that dwell on the earth have lost their senses through her pernicious and inebriating influence. This is the general idea first given, a character plain enough to mark the Roman or Papal system. But more details follow. There was a woman, a religious system, sitting on an imperial beast full of names of blasphemy, having the form which marked it Roman. The woman was gorgeously and imperially arrayed, had every human glory and ornament on her, and a rich cup of prostituting yet gross idolatries in her hand. “Abominations” are simply idols; “filthiness of her fornication,” all the horrible corruption that accompanies it. Her cup was full of them. She was in the desert; no springs of God were there. It was not, so to speak, God’s land, no heavenly country. To spiritual understanding she bore on her forehead her character (yet one known only when spiritually known), of the great city of corruption, source of all seduction to men and of all idolatry in the earth: such was Popery. But this was not all. All the blood of the saints was found in her: she was the persecuting murderess of those God delighted in, and who bore witness to Jesus. The prophet was astonished — for it was what the church had come to.
(2) “But Rome is more distinctly marked. It is the city of the seven hills.”
(3) “The angel then describes the beast on which she rode. It had been, ceased to exist, and then it comes up again from direct diabolical sources — comes up out of the abyss. The renewed Roman Empire, which had disappeared, is blasphemous and diabolical in nature, and in this character goes to destruction: yet all but the elect on the earth will be in admiration of it when they see the beast that was, is not, and shall be present. Of itself this marks the Roman or Latin Empire, only that it will reappear more formally…..[Rome] was the existing authority in the time of the prophecy: five of its governing powers had fallen; one was there; there was then one yet to come for a short space, and then the beast out of the abyss, the last diabolical state of the empire, would appear, and it would be destroyed. The last however is not a new form; it is one of the seven, though an eighth. My impression is, that the first Napoleon and his brief empire is the seventh, and we have now to wait for the development of the last. The beast, though imperial, has ten horns, ten distinct kingdoms. They have their power, and for the same period, with the beast. But they all give their power to the beast, and make war against Christ, the rejected One on earth; but He shall overcome them…..Details are then added. The waters are explained as peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues — masses of populations in their diverse divisions. Next the ten horns, the kingdoms which are associated with the beast, and the beast (for so it is to be read) hate the whore and eat her flesh and burn her with fire (first, take all her substance and fatness, and then destroy her); for they are to give their kingdom to the blasphemous beast until God’s words are fulfilled. And then we are expressly told that the woman (not “the whore” — the last is her corrupt idolatrous character — but the “woman”), who as riding the beast was to be such, is Rome. All this chapter (17) is description.”
[Editor’s note: Darby is extremely confusing here. First, he states the great whore is the Papal system, i.e., the Roman Catholic Church and Papacy. He correctly views the city of 7 hills as Rome. The scarlet-colored Beast is the Roman Empire who will destroy the Roman Catholic Church. Darby makes a distinction between the whore of verse 1 and the woman of verse 18, as if they were two separate entities. If the Papal System is destroyed by the final configuration of the Roman Empire in the last days, then the Pope cannot be the Antichrist.]
1945 Edition, Scofield 1909 Reference Bible Annotations:
(1) (2) (3) “Babylon, ‘confusion,’ is repeatedly used by the prophets in a symbolic sense. Two ‘Babylons’ are to be distinguished in the Revelation: ecclesiastical Babylon, which is apostate Christendom, headed up under the Papacy; and political Babylon, which is the Beast’s confederated empire, the last form of Gentile world-dominion. Ecclesiastical Babylon is the ‘great whore’ (Rev. 17:1), and is destroyed by political Babylon (Rev. 17:15-18), that the Beast may be the alone object of worship (2 Thess. 2:3-4; Rev. 13:15). The power of political Babylon is destroyed by the return of the Lord in glory.” [Editor’s note: Scofield follows Darby exactly, making the same distinction between the great whore and the woman. The Pope cannot be the Antichrist. His Church is destroyed by the revived Roman Empire, the scarlet-colored Beast, of the last days. The city of 7 hills is Rome. Both Scofield and Darby name the Papacy as apostate Christianity, though they do not identify him as the Antichrist.]
1984 Edition, Hal Lindsey 1973 Revelation Commentary:
(1) “In the Bible, the terms whore, harlot, and adultery are frequently used to symbolize a spiritual departure from God and His truth by an individual, a city, or a nation……The world-system is the organized system of world attitudes that excludes God’s way and is under Satan’s control. To be a friend of this system in the sense of compromising God’s viewpoint of life and letting the world squeeze you into its mold is to commit adultery, spiritually speaking. In a true relationship with God through Jesus Christ, believers are viewed as the ‘Bride’ of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). To play around with false religion is viewed throughout as spiritual adultery, since the true believer is already betrothed to Christ……And so it is with the great Harlot which John sees. She symbolizes an enormous false religion that is so appealing that she has been able to seduce all the kings of the earth with her deceptions…..What kind of religious system will this Harlot be? What secret will lie behind her ability to bring under her power such unlikely subjects as an atheistic Russian, a Buddhist, a Moslem, a Hindu, or a liberal professing Christian? Most interpreters of this chapter have simply updated the thinking of the Protestant reformers who believed that the Pope was the Antichrist and the Roman Catholic Church was the whore of Babylon. In my opinion this is inaccurate. The Catholic Church has been steadily declining in popularity, and there would have to be a radical change in its appeal before it could amalgamate all these diverse people within it.
“The main question is this: How could any brand of false Christianity get all the other religions to join it. Naturally, professing Christians who have all the outward form but no spiritual reality will be left behind when Christ comes to take the true believers, and they will become part of this ecumenical religion……
“When the angel told John that he would tell him the mystery of the woman, he meant that this Harlot, the false religious system, would have as its main teachings the same occultic practices as ancient Babylon. It would include black magic, demon contact, séances, miraculous materializations, witchcraft, astrology, and sorcery……The mystery that John was seeking to unveil for his readers was that religious Babylon would be revived to control the last great world power in the last days of history. This religion will be an occultic amalgamation of all the world’s religions. For the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation, it will enjoy a position of great power and influence over the Revived Roman Empire and its leader, the Antichrist.”
(2) “I believe the seven mountains refer to the seven hills of the city of Rome.”
(3) “John tells us that the seven heads also represent seven kingdoms; five have fallen, one is, and the other is still to come. Here he is referring to those great world empires from the time of the original Babylon of Nimrod’s day…….The first kingdom was Assyria…..the second Egypt…..the third Neo-Babylon of Daniel’s day…….the fourth Medo-Persia……the fifth the Greek empire…..the sixth [‘one is’] is Rome……John looks to the future when he says of the 7th head (kingdom) that “…..the other is not yet come”….This refers to the future revival of the Roman Empire. This 7th head is different from all the other six heads because it has ten horns on it. This indicates that this 7th kingdom will be made up of ten nations from the old Roman Empire (the 6th head) which will have confederated. In my opinion, this unquestionably refers to the European Economic Community, which I believe is destined to bloom into the last great world empire represented by the 7th head with the ten horns. This revived Roman Empire will become dominated by the same Babylonish religious system that has ridden herd on the past great world empires…….Thus the Revived Roman Empire is referred to as a beast, as is the scintillating world leader who will control it and is also known as the Roman Antichrist. Although the ‘beast’ we are looking at in this chapter has only seven heads, John says that it briefly sprouts another, and 8th head, but this head is really an outgrowth of the 7th (the Revived Roman Empire) and is quickly destroyed…..[John] speaks of both the Antichrist himself and his kingdom, which will emerge full-bloom during the last half of the Tribulation.
“It will be an extension of the Revived Roman Empire which comes into existence when the Rapture takes place and seems for 3 ½ years to be the answer to the hopes and dreams of the world for peace and prosperity. When the Antichrist becomes indwelt with Satan at the middle of the Tribulation, his kingdom from that point on will take a different tone. The whole world will worship the Beast instead of the Harlot…………I believe the stage is very nearly set for the resurrection of the great, occultic religious system…..Possessed by Satan, [the Antichrist] proclaims himself God in the Temple of Jerusalem. On of his next acts will be to turn on the great Harlot and destroy her…….I and some other Bible students lean strongly in the direction of a rebuilt Babylon…..I believe it will be the center of the ‘Harlot’ religion for a short while, until the religion is destroyed by Antichrist…..For awhile this ecclesiastical Harlot is content to dwell in Rome. But sometime before the middle of the Tribulation she begins to get the idea that she isn’t too popular with the Antichrist and his kingdom anymore, and so her religious system seeks to move her headquarters out of the clutches of the Antichrist. She casts about for the right spot to move to, and then decides on the location of her origin, Babylon.”
[Editor’s note: Lindsey holds to the main arguments of Darby and Scofield. However, in his view, the woman remains the false ecclesiastical system throughout. The Beast destroys the woman, an amalgam of all world religions (which is absurd!), by means of the Antichrist and 10-nation confederacy, The European Economic Council. Lindsey adamantly discounts the view that the Papacy is the Antichrist and the Roman Catholic Church is Mystery Babylon, the Mother of all Harlots. In so doing, he slanders the Protestant Reformers and martyrs who held the very view he disdains. Lindsey adds a peculiar twist by stating the false ecumenical religious system will leave Rome for literal Babylon, which will be rebuilt. This editor wonders how he views this ‘prophecy’ today, given the current events of 2003. The reader need note Lindsey’s phrase ‘left behind’ has been ‘borrowed’ by LaHaye.]
1982 Jack Van Impe Revelation Commentary:
(1) “As we have already discussed, the Babylon of chapter 14 is a religious system, whereas the Babylon of chapter 16 is political. The chapter before us, then, is the story of the rise and fall of the ecumenical world church, while chapter 18 describes the destruction of a political system……Remember that fornication, spiritually speaking, has to do with idolatry…..Spiritual fornication also has to do with Christianity embracing the world – leaping out of Christ’s arms into those of another lover…..Harlotry and whoredom, then, speak of idolatry and worldliness……..As this world church on earth is described, please keep in mind that the true Church – the bride of Christ – is in heaven (chapter 4, verse 1)…..This false religious system of the Tribulation hour is a complete union of the church and the world. Its members are the leftovers from all denominations. They were either doctrinally or morally wrong. One is as bad as the other……Among them are cultists, apostates, and unconverted professors of religion - Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, and those who were members of a host of denominations….”
(2) “Historically speaking, Rome is the only city situated on seven hills…..There is no disputing the fact. The world church, sitting on these seven hills, heading up scores of denominations, rides to power on the back of the ten-horned western confederation of nations.”
(3) “We immediately recognize [the scarlet-colored Beast] to be the Antichrist, who came to power through a confederation of western nations pictured by the ten horns and ten toes discussed previously…..He begins his reign with a fake peace pact (see Daniel 9:27) which he later breaks! As a result, millions are slaughtered during his rule. Now he bears the blood-red color of an executioner…….As John receives this vision of the seven kings, five have already fallen. They were (1) Assyria, (2) Egypt, (3) Babylon, (4) Medo Persia, (5) Greece, (6) Rome, at the time John receives this revelation, and the Number 7 is yet to come. He, of course, is the Antichrist whose reign will last briefly, or a short space……[The 8th head] is the resurrected Antichrist…..The Antichrist eventually betrays his religious followers. They bowed and scraped to his image, but now he no longer wants to share the limelight and glory with them. Thus, the individual leaders of the countries turn against the world church…..Since the world church forms at the time when ten western nations unite – and both the European Economic Council and World Council of Churches began unity proceedings in 1948 – Christ’s coming must be near.”
[Editor’s note: Van Impe views Mystery Babylon as a false Church comprised of false Christians, ‘leftovers,’ who were ‘left behind.’ He does not emphasize the amalgam of world religions which Lindsey holds to. Rome is the city of 7 hills. The scarlet-colored Beast is the Antichrist, who rules the ten-nation confederacy. In this, he departs from Lindsey. The word ‘confederation’ is used by Scofield, Lindsey and Van Impe. Van Impe follows Lindsey in positing the European Economic Council as being represented by the ten-horns. The Pope is conveniently overlooked as a candidate for Antichrist.]
1999 Tim LaHaye Revelation Commentary:
(1) “Revelation 17: Religious Babylon Destroyed……Chapter 17 describes the coming judgment of God on the religious system that has enslaved the human race in superstitious darkness for centuries…….The first six verses of our text reveal a most astounding and awful scene, portraying through symbols two great forces, one religious, the other governmental…..It is a description of the global ecumenical religious system powerful enough to gain a controlling influence in the Antichrist’s government……[The woman is] the one system before which all kings, dictators and nations have been forced to bow down throughout history, that is, the Babylonian religion of idolatry….No system in the world’s history has enslaved more people than this awful religion…..The Babylonian religions of the world, whether they be Greek, Indian, African, Roman, or Chinese, are arrayed in gold, precious stones, and costly array. They use mystery and idolatry……The fact that the prostitute is seated on the beast and defined as one who ‘rules over the kings of the earth’ indicates the tremendous power she will exercise over the world government during the first half of the Tribulation. [Editor’s note: LaHaye quotes from the writings of Dispensationalists, Dr. Harry Ironside and Clarence Larkin. The latter author exposes the Babylonian origins of Roman Catholicism.] “After reading the above quotations, you may be inclined to think me anti-Catholic, but that isn’t exactly true; I am anti-false religion. For example, I am opposed to any religious system that has enough of the truth to deceive the faithful and enough of the false to damn its followers. A false religion is worse than no religion at all. In some respects the religion of Rome is more dangerous than no religion because she substitutes religion for truth…..Rome’s false religion too often gives a false security that keeps people from seeking salvation freely by faith. Rome is also dangerous because some of her doctrines are pseudo-Christian. For example, she believes properly about the personal deity of Christ but errs in adding Babylonian mysticism in many forms and salvation by works. With respect to sincere Roman Catholics who have personally received Christ as their Savior and Lord……Fortunately, with the increase in Bible study within the Catholic Church since Pope John XXIII endorsed the reading of Scripture and the publication of the Catholic Confraternity Edition of the Bible, many have been born again personally by faith. The Gallup Poll on religion indicates that at least thirteen million Catholics in the U. S. profess a ‘born-again’ experience with Jesus Christ. I pray that millions more will join them in that life-changing experience.” [Editor’s note: Like Van Impe and Lindsey, LaHaye believes there are true believers, converted by the grace of God through faith, who remain Roman Catholics, under subjection to the Catholic Church, its pseudo-Christian practices and Pontiff.] “Today the Church of Rome is doctrinally a mixture of Babylonian paganism and Christianity..” [Editor’s note: LaHaye next cites short, concise excerpts from Halley’s Bible Handbook which illustrate the Church of Rome’s ‘historic brutality.’] “It was my privilege many years ago to make a trip around the world……I can only conclude that Rome is not the only form of Babylonian mysticism, but merely the one that has infiltrated Christianity. And after the Rapture, their leaders that remain will bring all the Babylonian-based religions together with one global idolatrous religion……As we approach the end of the Church Age, we can expect to see liberal Protestantism, in the form of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, being swallowed up by the Church of Rome……
“Since the woman who rides the beast gets her authority from the beast, the Holy Spirit uses this description to show how religious Babylon and governmental Babylon are so intertwined they are presented together. However, they are destroyed at different times. The prostitute (religious Babylon) is destroyed by ‘beast and kings of the earth,’ who ‘hate the prostitute’ and kill her. This clears the way for Antichrist to fulfill the lifetime dream of Satan to get people to worship him. She is destroyed in the middle of the Tribulation; Babylon the governmental system will be destroyed at the end, when commercial Babylon is destroyed (ch. 18)……”
“Babylon to be Rebuilt…..The one-world government, the one-world religion, and the one-world banking system that make possible the commerce of the world are already gathering momentum. It is just a matter of time before they decide to locate in a single spot. That spot will be Babylon…..Unless the Lord raptures His Church soon, we can expect to see the foundation laid for the greatest city in all the world’s history. Since writing the above material in the first edition, much has happened in both Iraq and Babylon. Saddam Hussein, the megalomaniac dictator of the country, has spent over 1 billion dollars on the rebuilding of the ancient city, which I believe will be taken over some day by Antichrist, titled, New Babylon, and made the governmental, commercial and religious center of the world…..”
(2) “The seven hills of this passage of Scripture have caused some to suggest that since the city of Rome is built on seven hills, she is the one designated here as the beast with seven heads. But there are good reasons for not accepting this interpretation. Geographically, it would be difficult to establish the seven hills of Rome…….The woman is a great city……Many have taken this to mean that the woman represents the capital city of Antichrist’s kingdom, but this cannot be, for Antichrist himself rules over the kings of the earth.”
(3) “The careful Bible student will immediately recognize this [scarlet-colored] beast even before examining the angel’s interpretation. In the first place, it is similar to the beast of Revelation 13 and doubtless represents what all beast used symbolically represent: either a king or a kingdom that opposes God’s will……As pointed out in the commentary on chapter 13, these seven hills are kings: five are fallen, one is, the other has not yet come. As stated there, I am inclined to believe that the first five represent five kings of the Roman Empire through John’s lifetime; the existing king, Domitian, was the sixth; thus we have the five that were, the sixth that is, and the seventh who is to come, referring to Antichrist at the end of time. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction, (Rev. 17:11). This strongly suggests Antichrist is the seventh head. He will die in the middle of the Tribulation period, duplicate the resurrection of Jesus Christ by coming back to life, but at the end of the Tribulation will be destroyed (Rev. 19:20)……The ten horns coincide with the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. These are the ten kings who will make up the Antichrist’s world confederacy of nations.
[Editor’s note: LaHaye, like his predecessors, uses certain re-occurring catch phrases such as ‘religious system,’ and ‘confederacy.’ He holds to the literal rebuilt Babylon-capital of the world-theory like Lindsey. Though LaHaye is the only modern Futurist to expose the historical evils perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church, he still views Mystery Babylon as an amalgamation of all world religions, under the headship of the Catholic Church. He denies the city of 7 hills is restricted to Rome. The scarlet Beast is the Antichrist and his kingdom, especially represented in the 7th head. LaHaye’s view of the seven heads differs from Van Impe and Lindsey, again proving that there are several discrepancies within Futurist teachings. LaHaye and Van Impe agree that the Antichrist will literally resurrect from the dead in the middle of the 7-year Tribulation period. All three modern Futurists believe Satan will indwell the Antichrist at this time.]
Protestant Reformed Historicist Interpretation
1618 Thomas Cartwright, A Confutation of the Rhemists….:
[Editor’s note: In this section of Cartwright’s commentary, he defers to William Fulke to write the refutation of the Rheims Bible annotations.]
(1) “The final damnation of the whole company of the reprobate is described in Chapter 20:14ff. Therefore the great Whore in this chapter signifies the congregation of Antichrist, all the members whereof are the spiritual Citizens of Rome; their entire faith and religion depending upon the See of Rome, and their head usurping all his tyranny, by pretence of the primacy of that City. A lively image of which vision God made manifest to the whole world, when a whore was made head of the Roman Church, commonly called Pope Joan, John 7th or John 8th. This so wrings the Papists at their heart that they have no way to shift it, but only by impudent denying that notorious truth, which is even written in their own histories of the Popes’ lives……. The woman drunken with the blood of the saints… The great abundance of blood that Rome has shed, first under the Heathen Emperors, and then under the Antichristian Popes, so much more than Babylon of the East ever spilled, is sufficient to make her drunk with the blood of the Saints. For this cruelty she deserves, along with Jerusalem, the imputation of guilt in spilling all the righteous blood that has been shed since the blood of righteous Abel. All these will be required at her hands. They whom you call heretics, for the most part, who are put to death at Rome in great numbers by the tyranny of the Roman Inquisition, are the true Christians and Saints here spoken of, whose godly way you call heresy, just as the persecuting Jews called it in St. Paul, Acts 24:14. Therefore, though we allow the punishment of heretics both in England and other Reformed countries, yet we abhor the cruelty of Antichrist and his Church who condemn true Christians, murdering them under pretense as heretics. For Antichrist and his false prophets are the greatest and most blasphemous heretics that ever were.”
(2) “……[In Peter’s epistle where the Papists say he called Rome ‘Babylon,’ though it unlikely he meant Rome, it may well be true because] perhaps by the Spirit of prophecy he did foresee how his successors in Rome should abuse his name and the dignity of that See to set up the Kingdom of Antichrist there; and for that cause would admonish the faithful that they should not take Rome for the New Jerusalem of Christians, but for Babylon the City of Antichrist, which in the future was to be revealed there. But in this 17th chapter of the Revelation, where Rome is most plainly described under the name of ‘Babylon,’ the Papists by all means would avoid that exposition because they see manifestly that Babylon, which is Rome, is here described to be the seat and City of Antichrist.
“These are the fellows who, in their exposition of the holy Scriptures, are led only by their prejudiced opinions and heresies to which, without any reason and sincerity, they draw all things. And if you mark the Jesuits annotations from beginning to end, you shall see that very few have any bearing to the words of the Text when they draw their conclusions, but for the most part, they bring their prejudiced opinions to the Text, thereby not drawing their annotations from Scripture, but instead draw Scripture to their opinions, which conclusions they can never confirm from Scripture. As for Peter’s being at Rome, we affirm it cannot be proved out of the Scriptures, yet because of the consent of ancient writers, we yield to it as a matter of story, but not an Article of our faith. And even if Peter’s being at Rome was as certain in Scripture as that of Paul’s presence there, it still would not prove the lawful office of antichristian authority which the Pope claims under color of Peter’s having been there. Furthermore, if Peter were there, he would have been the chief Apostle to the Circumcision, not the Gentiles, as is manifest by Galatians 2. And lastly, whatever prerogative he had as an Apostle ceased when he died, as did the Apostleship of Paul, and of the rest; although the fruit of their labors in Preaching and Writing shall continue to the end of the world……
“Neither St. Augustine nor Arethas deny [Mystery Babylon] to be expounded of Rome, but rather confirm the truth of that most ancient exposition which is clear from the text itself, verses 9 and 18. As for the latter Writers that lived under the tyranny of the Romish Antichrist, they were glad to twist its meaning rather than incur the hatred of Rome had they deciphered Rome to be the City of Antichrist. Yet despite fear of retribution, there has always been some who have spoken out boldly to the Pope, openly telling him that Rome is Babylon……The Poor Men of Lyons, whom they called by the name of ‘Waldenses,’ ‘Leonists,’ and other opprobrious names, do plainly affirm and constantly believe that the Church of Rome is this whore of Babylon, and the Pope Antichrist, as Reinerius, an Inquisitor, who witnesses of these Christians that lived more than 300 years ago. He said this group was more pernicious to the Roman Church than any other sect for three primary reasons, and I quote: (1) Because of the length of time they have been in existence. For some say they have endured from the time of Pope Sylvester. Others say from the Apostles’ time. (2) Because it is more widespread. For there is almost no land into which this sect does not creep. (3) Whereas all other sects bring in a horrible lasciviousness with their blasphemies against God, this sect of the Leonists has a great show of godliness because they live justly before men and believe all things correctly concerning God, as well as all the articles contained in the Creed. They blaspheme and hate only the Church of Rome.
“This is the testimony of their cruel enemy and persecutor, by which you may see that once Antichrist was disclosed, he was acknowledged by many Christians to be what he truly is, although many were also deceived by him – though none of the Elect finally to their destruction……
“The Jesuits say Rome was Babylon when it was heathen, as in Tertullian’s time, as it was in St. John’s time when he wrote this. Very good then. From this we may deduce that Rome, which was Babylon in St. John’s time, is the same city which he prophesied to be the chief city and seat of Antichrist, for it is manifest to all who read the Prophecy. For if Rome was then Babylon, then Rome is the City which John prophesied to be the very seat of Antichrist. In the days of the ancient expositors, such as Victorinus, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Primasius, etc., Rome was not heathen. Yet they all understood it to be Babylon. Therefore, they all understood that it was Rome where Antichrist, when revealed, would sit…..
“The Jesuits say that to apply Mystery Babylon to the Roman Church and Apostolic See at any time is most blasphemous and foolish. Indeed, to apply it to the true Roman Church, or to the righteous succession in the Apostolic See which existed in the days of John, or in the time of the Christian Emperors, would be both folly and blasphemy. But to apply it to the [current] Church of Rome, and its counterfeit succession of Popes, is wisdom and holiness. For St. John prophesied not only of the cruelty of the carnal worldliness of that City, but also of the false Prophet and Antichrist, who should usurp an Ecclesiastical Office and dignity in that City. The Church of Rome, indeed, was one thing, and Babylon in Rome, another, while the Church of God was at Rome and persecuted by the Heathen Emperors. But when the Emperor of Rome was Christian, one of the heads of the Beast was wounded to death, the sixth head, as it tells us in Rev. 13, who was the persecuting Emperor in John’s time. But this head was healed in the persons of Constantius, the heretical Emperor, Valens, and Julian the Apostate, etc., and still the 7th head was to come……In the best and most Christian times of Rome, when the head of the Heathen Empire was wounded to death, it was counted by the ancient Fathers to be Babylon because of the 7th head, which is the Kingdom of Antichrist that was anticipated to come in place of the 6th head, which head was the worldly State of the heathenish, heretical, and persecuting Emperors. Therefore, not the true Church in Rome, but Rome the persecutor of the saints – at first by the heathen and heretical Emperors, but afterward by the proud Popes, Kings being subject to them - is that Babylon, the mother of all abominations. And so great is the force, and so manifest is the light of truth, that the Jesuits are compelled to confess in the end, that Antichrist shall have his seat in Rome, though in Rev. 11 they were resolute it would be Jerusalem.”
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. And there are seven kings…….. “…….The Jesuit, Dr. Sanders, not fearing the consequence (for what should he fear, who was not afraid to raise war against his sovereign in her own realm of Ireland), counts it a childish argument to prove the See of Antichrist to be at Rome simply because it has seven hills. He says, ‘the city is now gone from the hills, and now stands in the plain of Campus Martius, while the Pope sits on the other side, upon Vatican Hill, along with St. Peter’s Church, by whom he holds his chair, not at all deriving his power from the seven hills, etc.’ I answer: But if the Pope now sits in another Rome, different from the one in which Peter sat, how can Sanders persuade us he now sits in Peter’s chair? For the Rome in which Peter sat was situated solely upon seven hills, not having gone down into the plain of Campus Martius, nor to the other side of the Tiber. Therefore, if the Pope does not derive his authority and power from the seven hills, he derives no authority and power from Peter’s seat, for Peter’s seat was located in the city built upon seven hills. Besides, it is plain that although many of the people of late have removed their habitations from the hills into the plain, as has the Pope moved his Palace of Pleasure to the other side of the river Tiber, yet he has not removed his seat from them. For today upon the seven hills remain his Churches, monasteries and courts……” [Editor’s note: Fulke lists dozens of Roman Catholic religious buildings, including Lateran, all dedicated to promulgating the religion of Antichrist.]
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth…… “Without all doubt, the only great City which had dominion over the kings of the earth in St. John’s time was none other than the City of Rome. It is expounded as such, not only by Greeks, such as Irenæus, but by most of the Latin writers, Tertullian, Ambrose, Victorinus, Jerome, Augustine, Primasius, etc., as I have shown before……The ‘Eternal City’ was known by all the learned to be the City of Rome, wherein the Emperors were called ‘gods,’ and the people flattered them with Altars and blasphemous titles of divine powers, including eternality; as they do now their Popes with similar blasphemous terms, such as, the Most Holy and Your Holiness. They also claim blasphemous tokens of divinity as did the Roman Emperors. These are evidenced in their triple crown, their riding atop men’s shoulders, their having audiences of Kings and Emperors, and by their having thrones in Churches placed higher than their Altars. Many other examples of their heathenish, blasphemous pomp and Antichristian pride can be given…….
“Seeing, therefore, the consent of most ancient writers, and the Jesuits own confession added to clarify the text, acknowledging the City spoken thereof is the City of Rome, the Jesuits cannot avoid the fact that the same city is the seat of Antichrist, the seventh head, as this city was also the seat of the heathenish persecutors, the sixth head. And although those heathenish persecutions did cease while Constantine reigned, wounding the Roman beast to death, yet they were renewed in his son, Constantius, and his nephew, Julian the Apostate, who raised fresh persecutions against the Church of God, though not as cruel as in John’s day. When the Jesuits say that Constantine yielded the City of Rome to the Pope, your interpretation is false. For Constantine and his successors, for many years after, held the dominion of that City. But in truth, by removing the seat of the Empire partly to Constantinople, he gave place to the mystery of iniquity, which allowed it to work more easily toward the open manifestation of Antichrist.
“But the Jesuits argue, ‘the Pope does not reign over the Roman Empire or the world as the heathen did. Instead, he is the Father and spiritual ruler of the Church.’ I answer: That the Pope has held dominion in the Empire over that of the Kings of the earth, practicing great pride and tyranny even against those who bear the title of ‘Roman Emperor,’ as well as other Kings of the earth, the Chronicles are filled with historical examples. And that he still claims the same Empire and kingdom, his blasphemous bull given out against the Queen of England, along with his other antichristian practices directed against her crown and dignity, do manifestly declare. It is not, therefore, a fatherhood and spiritual rule which he claims most blasphemously over the Church, but under color and pretense thereof, but a temporal kingdom, and an earthly Empire reigning over the Kings of the earth.
“And just as his predecessors, the heathen Emperors, under title of their earthly Empire, usurped the authority over all religion, and were called Pontifex Maximus, that is, the chief governor of religion [the High Priest], the Popes, under the title of Chief Governor of religion, usurp all sovereignty of earthly dignity and temporal dominion. And seeing as the Jesuits confess that by the authority of the Roman Empire Christ was put to death, it is easy to conclude, that not Jerusalem, but Rome, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, is that great city which is spoken of in chapter 11. For just as Rome crucified our Lord, likewise it killed His Prophets and Saints. Therefore, without controversy ‘Babylon’ is Rome, the head and chief of all persecutors of the Church of Christ, just as Babylon of old was the chief persecutor of His people, the Jews. This St. Augustine himself plainly teaches in his Homilies: that one City is principle in persecuting the Church, though the Church has many enemies besides that particular City.”
(3) “But that the Jesuits would discharge the Pope and Popish Church, to whom all the prophecies do aptly agree to be Antichrist and his City, you labor in vain. For the blasphemous pride and heresies of the Pope and his Church, with the most abominable lives of both, will easily convict him as the 7th head of the Beast which was to come, and we are not to look for any other………….We Reformed understand ‘seven,’ like ‘ten,’ to be a mystical number symbolizing the perfection and universality of that which it is spoken, but when the Prophet himself expounds the number of heads to be the number of hills, and knowing that the great City sat upon seven hills, we must understand that he calls them seven hills because they are just seven; as do the seven Candlesticks and seven Stars also signify seven Churches and seven Bishops, no more or no less. Likewise the seven Kings or Kingdoms, which is a second interpretation of the seven heads, are called seven because they are just seven in number, as it is manifest by the account of the Angel: i.e., five are fallen, one is, and the seventh is not yet come. And although some understand these heads as symbolizing seven Kingdoms that persecuted God’s people over the ages, yet it is manifest by the whole discourse of the chapter that by the term ‘heads,’ the Apostle signifies the principle rulers of the Roman Empire:
7. Popes [who then transform into the 8th head, Antichrist, claiming to be the head of the Church, the Kingdom of God.]
“Of these, five were fallen before St. John’s time, the Emperor then was, and the Pope was yet to come. The Pope’s tyranny, because he is Antichrist, has long since been discovered, and he is now not a little consumed by the Spirit of the Lord’s mouth, which is His holy Word, preached in these days, and who shall be utterly abolished by the coming of our Saviour Christ to judgment, as St. Paul did prophesy, 2 Thess. 2.”
And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition…… “The Kingdom of Antichrist, being one of the seven, all signifying a Roman tyranny, yet it differs from the other six, persecuting the true Church, under the pretense that the Pope is the Head of the Church. Thus, it is also called eighth kingdom [the Pope claiming headship over the Kingdom of God.]
1573 William Fulke Revelation Commentary:
(1) “Hitherto the Apostle hath, with sundry colors, painted Antichrist himself, but now, under the figure of the great whore, he describes the Antichrist’s Church, the adulterous religion….When in previous chapters the Apostle made mention of the great city, now the Holy Ghost describes it under the image or figure of the great whore, that He might make it manifest what city is meant. For the great whore, as later the Angel expounds it, signifies a great city, just as ‘many waters’ whereupon she sits signify many people over whom she rules. Worthily, therefore, is the Romish Church, whose whole authority depends upon that city of seven hills, compared to a famous and noble harlot who entices the minds of men to her filthy love with her whorish deceits and false pretenses, as with harlot-like enticements. For it is commonplace in the Scriptures to compare all false and idolatrous worshipping to most filthy adulteries. But the synagogue of Rome, which above all other heresies hath invented false and idolatrous worshipping of God, may, as it were, by her own proper right, claim title to the name, ‘Great Whore.’ Ironically, though she pleases and flatters herself and her lovers as if she were a beautiful wife, nevertheless, by the just judgment of God she is condemned to eternal shame and dishonor as a most filthy harlot.”
With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication…… “This was not the least part of her whorish art, that she enticed and allured kings and mighty men, with feigned flatterings and practices of bawdry, into fornication. For by this means she hoped to make their subjects, the common people, vow to her love. Therefore, she flatters princes, granting them license to commit all wickedness, by pardoning all things, including murders, adulteries and incest, so that these men may stand steadfast in obedience to the See of Rome……”
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness…… “Because the time of manifestation of this whore had not yet come, although the mystery of iniquity even then did work, this harlot is placed in the desert to be brought forth by the just judgment of God hundreds of years later, to bewitch the wicked inhabitants of the earth….”
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color and decked…… “This verse contains two things: (1) the apparel, and (2) the decking of this whore and her wicked fornication. Her apparel shines with purple, crimson, gold, pearls and precious stones, that she might seem beautiful to her lovers. Far different is the apparel of the true Church, of which we read before in chapter 12, having been garnished with heavenly ornaments. But this stinking harlot, with the glittering show of earthly things, yearns for the praise and commendation of her beauty. And do we not see how the Church of Rome and its popish religion plays the part through its copes, vestments, miters, crosses, chalices, censers, patens; and by its gilding and decking Images, shows nothing else but a certain pomp of great riches, of purple, crimson, silk, silver, gold, precious stones and pearls, all of which things the Christian religion has no need whatsoever. But, on the contrary, the Popish religion cannot stand without them. For take away from the Pope, the Bishops, the temples and the priests these actors’ costumes and jewelry which blind the eyes of the stupid and ignorant, and one will find nothing at all of value in the Church of Rome. For as common harlots, when their precious apparel is pulled off them, are frequently seen to be deformed, so, too, will the popish religion appear naked and deformed when stripped of her deplorable attire.”
Having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication…… “I agree with those who understand the ‘golden cup’ to symbolize the outward profession of the Christian religion and a certain show of the truth. However, though she boasts of believing the Word of God and having the Sacraments, all which notwithstanding, she defiles with her impure doctrine of devils. Underneath the appearance of truth she embraces nothing but detestable abominations and the uncleanness of her fornication. The cup which she holds forth is gold, but the wine contained in it is deadly poison. That she reaches out her hand, offering the cup of these filthy abominations to all men, shows her impudence. For she is not ashamed to obtrude and thrust such stinking lies and filthy monstrous errors. The Angel doth also show that no other men, but only those who have been made mad from her bewitching cup can be drawn into so great destruction of filthiness and abominations; yea, to be honored even by ‘wise’ men proves that by drinking from her cup, they, too, have lost all spark of true judgment. The emphasis placed on the words, ‘abominations’ and ‘filthiness of her fornication’ needs be noted because above all other nations this synagogue has abounded, to the point of incredulity, in unclean lusts, whoredoms and adulteries, both spiritually and carnally.”
And upon her forehead was written a name.... “That her filthiness and impudence might be hid from no man, except those who burn with such love for her that they become altogether blind, she wears a name written openly on her whorish forehead, which fully and vividly expresses her qualities. For there is no man who has even a spark or crumb of true understanding, but that even in the very face and forehead of this purple whore he may read her name. For God has set this mark of infamy upon her that she might easily be known by the Elect, lest they should be enticed and drawn into her filthy embrace. From this follows the conclusion that the eyes of the Papists are utterly blinded, for they cannot behold this name imprinted and graven upon the forehead of the whore, nor can they repent and turn away from keeping dishonest company with her.”
Mystery…… “Though this name is written in her forehead, it cannot be known of all men without exception, but only those to whom it is given to understand mysteries. For this name is mystical because under a figure it contains a true and natural description analogous to her.”
Babylon the Great…… “This is her name which very fitly expresses her morals. Not that we are to take this name literally of the city Babylon, as the Papists are given now of late to expound it by feigning a lie that a certain child will be born in literal Babylon, whom they would have men to believe to be the Antichrist. But as the Angel said before, this name is mystical and figurative, the interpretation of which he will later disclose. Thus, the term ‘mystery’ would be utterly superfluous, if, in fact, he were speaking of the literal city of the Chaldeans. But because of that city’s history of wickedness and excessive pride; first, in rebelling against God by building the Tower which resulted in the confusion of tongues; afterwards in becoming the first city to exercise tyranny upon men, having begun with Nimrod and culminating in Nebuchadnezzar; then leading the Jews captive, holding them in miserable bondage, therefore the tyranny, idolatry, pride and ungodliness of the city of Rome is signified under the figure of Babylon.”
The Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth…. “Babylon of the Chaldees was a sink of all abomination and ungodliness, and not that alone, but she was also a mistress of wickedness, yea, a mother and nurse of all kinds of evil, all of which most fitly apply to the Synagogue of Rome who, though she boasts herself to be the Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Mother of all the faithful, yet by her true and right name she is called ‘Great Babylon,’ the Mother of all Whoredoms and abominations of the earth. For what harm, what ungodliness, what uncleanness and lewd lust was not cherished, supported and defended by that city? And where are there worse examples of all kinds of devilish wickedness then at Rome? And where are there worse examples of pestilence and corruption than in the Popes, Cardinals and prelates themselves? For besides their blasphemous doctrinal errors and profane contempt of God, their personal lives abound and overflow with such great wickedness that they often exceed, Nero, Domitian and Caligula in pride, murders, poisonings, treasons, whoredoms, adulteries, incest, and lusts contrary to nature. Let their lives be examined as set forth in the histories, even those written by the Papists themselves, and let judgment be given after conferring with them.”
And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus…. “Hitherto her pride, excess, and filthy abominations had been described, and now added to this list is such great cruelty that St. John affirms he saw the whore drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, which she sucked and greedily drank as if it were the most delicate wine, though it was shed by the most cruel Beast. A horrible and barbarously cruel characteristic is now exemplified in a woman previously described as wanton and lascivious, by her gorging and devouring of human blood instead of liquid. Do we have need to rehearse the continual murders, burnings and torments of the holy martyrs of God which the Roman Beast slew like a butcher; so much so that the bloodthirsty harlot might never lack drink to make her drunk? What a miserable slaughter of the servants of Christ hath our country of England seen in the five years of persecution under Queen Mary. And what is it that the whore desires above all else, but the blood of God’s saints when she raises up civil tumults in France, Flanders, Scotland and Brittany? And the Inquisitors of Spain and Italy do diligently draw great companies of martyrs daily, even as sheep to the slaughter, that the intemperance of their mistress, the great whore, should not fail.”
And when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration….. “When St. John had previously seen great monsters fight against the Church of God, it did not cause such wonderment in him because their terrible shape and form was sufficient to discern they were fierce enemies. But here, seeing the woman shining in such beautiful and gorgeous apparel, using such whorish tricks to entice the minds of men, while at the same time drunken with the blood of the Saints, John wonders vehemently who she is, not having seen anything like her before.”
And the Angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman..... “…….We are here most bound to the mercy of God that He doth grant to open this mystery to us, so that we will beware and take heed of the bewitchings of this most filthy harlot.”
(2) Here is the mind which hath wisdom….. “The Angel makes this statement to direct our attention to this most wise interpretation of this mystery, that the faithful should diligently consider and ponder, lest they should be caught unaware by the frauds and deceits of this Beast.”
The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sitteth….. “Because the Angel tells us in the 18th verse this is a City upon which the woman sits, it is manifest we should understand this prophecy of a literal City built upon so many hills. Now what City is there in the whole world, besides Rome, which is built upon seven hills? And which also has the common assent of all Theologians, Historians and Geographers?”
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth….. “Seeing that all ancient writers of the primitive Church who have considered this sentence have understood it of no other than that of the City of Rome, I greatly marvel at the shameless way the Papists dare refute this exposition. Yea, when it is truly impossible to bring any other argument to bear which has the least likely hope of truth, why should anyone stubbornly persist in refusing the obvious interpretation? To whom, I pray ye, is this truth unknown, that the City of Rome, even then when John wrote, had the dominion over the princes of the world? He could not have, therefore, more clearly declared it to be Rome, had he said it by name!”
(3) And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-colored beast……. “When John was come into the wilderness, the Image of the woman sitting upon a scarlet colored Beast was shown and set before him. By the description it appears to be the same Beast described in chapter 13. For the Church or religion of Rome abides upon the authority of the Pope and his clergy who bear her up, even as beasts carry a burden, and with praises extol her beauty even above the heaven. Also, the color of the Beast is painted out to be like scarlet, which color we know to please the court of Rome above all colors. For with this color, the Pope himself, along with the Cardinals and their horses, the prelates and Bishops, are clothed and decked, walking in stateliness. I do not doubt that the fulfillment of this prophecy concerning a ‘scarlet color’ did not happen rashly or by chance, but was [fulfilled by the providence of God] that they might be answerable to this figure. And this red color also signifies their bloody desire in persecuting the true members of Christ and His Church, even unto death.”
Full of names of blasphemy…… “If one should weigh and examine the names and callings of all degrees and orders in Popery, one would find nothing but horrible blasphemies, such as the holiness, primacy, and fatherhood of the Pope and prelates, as well as infinite other similar blasphemies in which base and unlearned ‘saints’ are extolled above Christ and the Angels.”
Which had seven heads and ten horns….. “These are his badges or arms by which he is known, for they show him to be the same Beast which John saw in chapter 13.”
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition…. “That Beast, by marks that are evident enough, doth signify the Empire of Rome, which was most ample and large under Julius, Augustus, Tiberius and Claudius, but it had lost much of its ancient majesty under the reigns of Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Domitian, so that it no longer deserved to be called a Monarchy, but was, in the future, to be raised up from Hell in the form of the Popes and popish clergy, who usurp and claim for themselves the rule of their Empire over the world. But their tyranny shall not endure forever, because at length he shall be apprehended by Christ and thrown headlong into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, where he shall be tormented with perpetual flames, as we are later taught in the 19th chapter.”
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…… “Although the falsehoods of Antichrist shall be great, yet they shall not be able to seduce the Elect into destruction, but to deceive those only who were not predestined to eternal life from the foundation of the world. But when the reprobate shall see this new Monarchy raised up by the Bishop of Rome – who is the ‘Beast that was’ under the first Emperors, yet ‘is not’ at the time of John’s revelation written under the reign of Domitian – they will receive him with reverence, as if he were a new God, and will worship the son of perdition, who extols himself above all that is called God , or that is worshipped. For by just judgment, God shall send upon them the efficacy of error that they who refused to honor the truth may believe lies.”
When they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is…. To better understand this prophecy we must note that the Beast, that is, the Monarchy of Rome, is said to ‘have been’ when it flourished primarily under Nero. It is said ‘not to be’ when John wrote these things, for, under Domitian who then reigned, the Roman Empire’s strength and might was weakened considerably. From this time onward the Empire was never to regain her ancient dignity, instead failing and decreasing little by little, until it altogether decayed. This came to pass many hundreds of years ago. The clause, ‘and yet is,’ shows that the Empire was not utterly abolished, although even then its power and dignity was diminishing. Finally, the ascending of the Beast out of the pit is that Monarchy of the Pope, which always increased as the Emperors decayed and decreased. Once they were completely cast down, the Pope drew to himself the authority of both swords.
And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven …. “Verily the prophecy describes the new Monarchy of Rome, which shall ascend out of the bottomless pit; that is, the whole body of Antichrist which shall make up the eighth kingdom; that is, shall exercise a spiritual tyranny unlike the previous kingdoms, yet he is nevertheless numbered among the seven heads because, like them, he will arrogate civil government to himself, and govern with the glory, outward pomp and manner of Kings, Dictators and Emperors. We gather from this that the Beast will usurp to himself two powers when he is described as both the seventh and eighth heads.”
And goeth into perdition…. “By frequently mentioning that this Beast will go into destruction, the Angel admonishes us that he is the same son of perdition of whom St. Paul speaks in 2 Thess. 2. Ironically, though the Pope, puffed up with a devilish pride, boasts that his kingdom shall be eternal, he will instead shortly go into destruction!”
1644 David Pareus Revelation Commentary:
(1) Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore……. “…….In one word, the Angel shows the argument of the vision: the judgment of the whore for condemnation. This is not to be understood of a temporal spoiling and burning which the whore shall suffer by her lovers, but rather that of the last day, when she is cast forever into the lake of fire and brimstone, which Christ Himself shall execute as Judge. The phrase ‘the great whore’ uses a double article in the Greek – ‘the whore, the great’ – as if he spake of whore already well known, though there had been no mention of her previously……She is not that woman Jezebel, who seduced some in the Church of Thyatira by her fornication, Rev. 2:20. The description of the whore presented in Rev. 17 shows that a far more famous whore is noted. Besides, this whore sits not in Thyatira, but upon many waters, and upon the Beast. By calling her a ‘whore’ and ‘a great one,’ that is, insatiable, far exceeding other strumpets in lust and filthiness, the Angel teaches us that the guilt and cause of her horrible judgment shall be her fornication. And not simply fornication, the punishment of which might not necessarily have been unto death, but fornication joined with detestable perfidiousness, namely her loathsome adultery: as when a Bride forsaking her Bridegroom, or a wife her husband, shamefully prostitute themselves unto strangers, which sin is punishable, both by human and divine laws, unto death. However, in this case, we are not to understand the fornication of a carnal, fleshly, literal nature. For this harlot is later called a ‘City,’ and literal fornication cannot be committed by the walls or houses thereof. Therefore, it is to be understood in a spiritual sense, i.e., apostasy from God, faithlessness and Idolatry. Scripture often compares apostasy to fornication, as I have shown in my Commentary of Hosea, Chapters one and two.
“Between Christ and His Church is a spiritual marriage. He, as the Bridegroom, hath espoused the Church as His own Bride in faithfulness, righteousness and judgment, and will shortly consummate the marriage at His last Coming, as we shall hear in Rev. 19:7. In the meantime, He enjoins her to remain pure and chaste unto him. And to this end the Apostle labored to present the Churches of Corinth, Rome, etc., as chaste virgins to Christ, that is, free from the leaven of superstition, Idolatry, and human traditions. Such a Church, I say, was at Rome in the Apostle’s days and for a while afterward. It is this same Church of Rome which is now presented in her apostasy by the figure of a faithless woman. But how has Rome become a harlot? It is due to the same reasons Old Testament Jerusalem, that holy city, cast off the worship of God, polluting herself with traditions, superstitions and Idolatry, Isaiah 1:21. Thus, Rome is also called a harlot. Eusebius tells us the Christian Church remained a chaste virgin a short time after the Apostle’s death. But touching the declining condition of the Church, especially of the Roman Church, much has been spoken in the previous visions, and more shall be said later.”
With whom the kings of the earth committed fornication….. “The cause of her judgment is now more clearly expressed: her fornication with the Kings of the earth. For this is a noble strumpet, enticing Monarchs and Kings to lie with her. But how? By persuading her royal lovers, under the title of the ‘Catholic Faith,’ that they should receive her superstitions, Idol-worship, Decrees and Decretals, ultimately bewitching them by her fair show of holiness. Thus, as Samson was enslaved to Delilah, and Hercules to Omphala, these Kings willingly serve, dedicate and give themselves and their kingdoms to that avaricious strumpet, becoming Tributaries to the Apostolic See, Christ’s Vicar, and Peter’s Successor, that avaricious Strumpet.
“To the Kings are joined the inhabitants of the earth, that is, earthly men, Idolaters and sworn enemies of the Gospel. For with these also she plays the Harlot, despising no class of people, but with an insatiable lust promiscuously prostitutes herself unto all, both rich and poor, bond and free, imprinting the Character [mark] of her idolatry on them all, giving them power to buy and sell her spiritual wares…..
“By the wine of her fornication, he understands the glorious superstitions and magnificence of the Apostolic See, the masked prostitute of the Catholic Church, whom men have greedily embraced, as thirsty lovers drink the wine offered them by their loved ones. Therefore, they are said to be made drunk because having been bewitched with a blind love of superstitions, they place faith in their Idols beyond all sense and reason, furiously hating and persecuting the Gospel of Christ. If one kills another man the sin can be forgiven by a monetary payment. But if one does not uncover the head before the Idol Image of Mary, or if one turns his back on it, it is a wickedness which must be punished with death, as having committed treason against her. Behold the mad drunkenness of Idolaters, the result of this wine of fornication.
…..And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured Beast…. “Here John shows what he saw in the wilderness, contrasting this adulterous woman with the woman of Rev. 12, the chaste Church. This woman represents the continuous succession of the Roman Popes, the venerable antiquity of the Papal Church. For just as in the wilderness the whorish woman succeeded the chaste woman, that banished matron, so, too, at Rome the whorish Apostolate succeeded the true Apostolic Church. In place of Bishops, holy martyrs and Christians excelling in faith and godliness, have come the great High Priests of Rome, calling themselves, Universal Monarchs, who are proud and wicked Idolaters, having fallen away from the virtue of their ancestors, being Apostate and not Apostolic…..
“That this woman is Rome is so clearly declared by the Angel that the Jesuits dare not deny it. Ribera seeks to shift the subject to that of ancient Rome, willfully overlooking verse 18, so as not to indict Papal Rome. Bellarmine contends that Jerusalem will be the seat of Antichrist, though he grants that scarlet colored whore who will be burnt by the Kings is Papal Rome. But he miserably entangles himself. For if Papal Rome is the purple whore, who is also that great Babylon, which is certainly the seat and habitation of Antichrist; then Papal Rome must be Antichrist’s seat, which both the Jesuits deny! Neither does their fictitious scenario help them; i.e., that Papal Rome shall be burnt by the ten Kings before the coming of Antichrist, and therefore, cannot possibly be Antichrist’s present seat……
“The sum of the mystery is this: the woman symbolizes a Church; her whorish character symbolizes a false and adulterous Church; her making the Kings and inhabitants of the world to drink of her wine symbolizes her universality, giving the law to all; her riding a beast symbolizes her anti-Christianity, armed with both swords; her sitting on seven mountains denotes the adulterous, cannibal-like Antichristian Roman Church…..The woman is said to be drunk, that is, full of blood….The cruelty of Papal Rome horribly exercised more than 600 years hath made the whore drunken. Although the Roman Church has not with her own hands made the gallows, swords, fires, and other deadly weapons, wherewith the Saints have been taken away, histories do witness by what cunning endeavors the Roman Antichrist has stirred up Christian Kings and Princes to rage even against their own bowels, and those chiefly under the names of Waldenses, Albigenses, Leonists, Wickliffites, Hussites, Lutherans and Huguenots, they condemned as heretics because they refused to take in the venom of her whorish cup. Read the Books of Martyrs of the French, German and English, and principally the acts of the Spanish Inquisition…Read these, I say, and thou shalt sufficiently understand the bloody scarlet of this whore, which to this day, whenever she has any footing, doth vomit and breathe out cruelties, still thirsting after more blood, and will continue to do so until the Heavenly Judge puts an end to her fury.”
(2) “Both the Beast, that is, his seven heads are the seven hills of the city of Rome, and the woman is the Roman city and Church….Babylon the Great City, standing on seven mountains is the Seat of Antichrist. Papal Rome is Babylon, that Great City standing on seven hills. Therefore, Papal Rome is the Seat of Antichrist.”
(3) Scarlet-coloured beast…. “Scarlet is the color of Kings’ coat of arms. Therefore, it denotes the Beast’s royal magnificence, as well as his deep hypocrisy. For Antichrist makes a very fair show to the world, blinding the eyes of men, and deceiving their eyes with masks and impostures. It may also signify his bloody disposition, for scarlet is the color of blood. And in verse 6, John sees the woman drunk with the blood of the saints. Also, it is well known that the colors of the Holy See are purple and scarlet……The color of the Beast and the woman agree. Both are royal, hypocritical, tyrannical, which argues that the same proud, wicked and cruel minds are in both.”
1847 E. B. Elliott Revelation Commentary:
(1, 2, 3) “It is to be understood that as the Beast, in respect to its body, depicted the Papal Empire of the ten Western European kingdoms, and in respect to its seventh, or rather eighth head, depicted the succession of Roman Popes, who after the 6th century constituted that empire’s spiritual rulers, so also the woman represented Rome in its character of the Papal See and Mother Church of the apostate churches of Western Christendom, including its vast domains, convents, churches and other properties in Europe and all over the world. Just as in the vision the Beast’s body both upheld and was subject to the Woman, the rider, so also does the Empire as a whole, with the power of its ten secular kingdoms and many peoples, uphold the Empire, and yet is ruled by Papal Rome, the Mother Church of Christendom. Also, just as the woman was depicted before St. John in a double character, i.e., as a harlot to the ten kings as well as the tavern-hostess vending wines to the common people (women who in earlier times were frequently both harlots and tavern hostesses), so, too, does the Church of Rome answer to the symbol at either point by exchanging mutual favors with the kings of Anti-Christendom, such as might suit their respective characters; and to the common people dealing out for sale, the wine of the poison of her fornication, such as her indulgences, relics, transubstantiation cup, as if the cup of salvation, etc., thereby drugging and making them besotted and drunk. With regard to the portraiture of the woman, robed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, as applied to the Roman Church it is a picture characteristic of its life; the dress specified as being distinctively that of the Roman ecclesiastical dignitaries, and the ornaments those with which it has been bedecked beyond any church called Christian; nay, probably beyond any religious body and religion that has ever existed in the world. Even the very name on the harlot’s forehead, Mystery, (a name evidently alluding to St. Paul’s predicted mystery of iniquity), was one once written on the Pope’s tiara. Furthermore, the Apocalyptic title, Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, is the very parody of the title Rome arrogates to herself: Rome, Mother and Mistress. Finally, the harlot’s depicted drunkenness with the blood of the saints is applicable to the Roman Church throughout the latter half of the Beast’s 1260 predicted years of prospering. It is written in deep-dyed characters on the page of history…..Rome’s harlot Church appears at this present time to be putting on all her old bravery and boastings and charms, just as of old….”