According to the Scriptures"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel... By which also ye are saved... unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)


Who is the Woman of Revelation 17?

By Noel Chartier


“Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:3-5).

As with many of the prophetic Scriptures, they have a near and far fulfilment. Some aspects of a prophecy may be fulfilled in one generation while other portions of the same prophecy await a future fulfilment (e.g. Olivet Discourse). Some of the Scriptures are also figurative or symbolic, therefore, it is incumbent upon the student of Scripture to discern the difference, or rightly divide the Word of Truth, for there is a real danger of spiritualizing or interpreting the Scriptures rather than taking the plain sense of the text in its context, thereby allowing God to say what He means.

The vast majority of the reformers believed that the woman of Revelation 17 represented Roman Catholicism. They believed this for what appears to be very valid reasons and this conviction has continued on till this day, primarily among those who would consider themselves to be fundamental Christians. However, there are several factors that indicate that this woman cannot be Rome but is clearly revealed as “that great city Babylon” (Revelation 18:10) which we will summarize in the following ten points.

Babylon was to be destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah.

“And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 13:19). “As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein” (Jeremiah 50:40).

How then did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven… and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace” (Genesis 19: 24, 28).

Historically, this has not yet been fulfilled, however we read of its future fulfilment in the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation. “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her . And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning , Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come… And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning , saying, What city is like unto this great city!” (Revelation 18:8-10, 19)

When Babylon was first defeated by the Medes (Isaiah 13:17) around 540 B.C. (Daniel 5:30, 31), some 175 years after Isaiah's prophecy, she was not destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah, rather, as Daniel interpreted the handwritting on the wall, he told Belshazzar, “Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:28). The Babylonian kingdom was not destroyed, it was divided. Furthermore, Babylon continued as an important city until well after the time of Christ. As Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles, Peter was an apostle to the Jews (Galatians, 2:7, 8). Peter apparently traveled to Babylon, which had a large Jewish population at the time, where he wrote his first epistle. “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son” (1 Peter 5:13).

After the Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C. very few Jews returned to Judea when they were set free by the Medes, choosing instead, to stay and live in Babylon. However, they would come up to Jerusalem for certain feasts, and on the Day of Pentecost, “the dwellers in Mesopotamia ” (Acts 2:9) were there to hear “the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11). In 500 A.D. there was still a large Jewish population in Babylon where Jewish scholars compiled the “Babylonian Talmud”. And in the last days we read that the Jews will be gathered back to Israel out of all the world including “Shinar” (Isaiah 11:11) where Babylon is located.

Although many writers have understood the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah to have been fulfilled when Babylon disintegrated around A.D. 500, the fact is that Babylon has never been destroyed “as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” . Furthermore, Isaiah specifically says that the complete fulfilment of his prophecy will happen in “the day of the LORD” (Isaiah 13:6, 9). This will be accomplished only after Babylon is rebuilt in the last days and then miraculously destroyed by God as revealed in the book of the Revelation.

It will never be inhabited again.

“And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.  It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there (Isaiah 13:19-20). “Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein (Jeremiah 50:39-40).

We find the final fulfilment of this prophecy in the book of the Revelation. “And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee ; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee ; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee ; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee …” (Revelation 18:22-23).

Although Babylon eventually fell into ruins, it has never been completely uninhabited and has been at least partially rebuilt by the Iraqi government. Recently, the fallen dictator of Iraq (location of ancient Babylon) has invested much effort to rebuild and revive the Babylon of King Nebuchadnezzar's antiquity, and since his overthrow, "The Future of Babylon Project" has been launched by the World Monuments Fund with funding from the US Department of State and in collaboration with Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage and UNESCO which intends on making Babylon, "fit for the coveted title of World Heritage Site".

Jeremiah said that the destruction of Babylon would be so complete that, “it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation… so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein” (Jeremiah 50:39-40). Herodotus, the Greek historian, visited the city the century following its defeat by the Medes and found it to be in a glorious state. He claimed the outer walls of the city were 52 miles in length.

This does not seem to fit when Jeremiah said, “Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies” (Jeremiah 51:9). Her destruction and violent overthrow would come suddenly in “one hour” (Revelation 18:10, 17), or “one day” (Revelation 18:8), not a slow and gradual disintegration over a millennium, but when “ her sins have reached unto heaven” (Revelation 18:5), then sudden destruction shall come from the Almighty.

One only needs to take a trip to Babylon with Google Earth and survey that area to see that it is indeed inhabited today. Babylon is located in the province of Babil and its capital, Al Hillah, located on the site of Babylon had a population of over 300,000 in 1998. Many are pitching their tent there, sowing their crops there, tending their flocks, and dwelling therein. This most assuredly does not fit Isaiah and Jeremiah's prophecies when they say,  “It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation… it shall be no more inhabited for ever ; neither shall it be dwelt in… so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.”

Recent DNA (Y chromosome) studies conducted by the National Geographic Magazine on the bones of ancient Babylonians and living people from the province of Babil, where ancient Babylon is located, have shown that the modern peoples carry the same ancient Babylonian genetic material, proving that this region has continued to be inhabited since its fall as a great empire.Therefore, the complete and final fulfillment of this prophecy will be during the tribulation period in the last days.

She will finally sink beneath the sea.

“The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof…  And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah” (Jeremiah 51:42, 63-64).

This has not yet happen to Babylon, however we read of its fulfilment at the end of the tribulation in the book of the Revelation. “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all” (Revelation 19:21).
Kuwait Fires
When the Medes conquered Babylon, she was not overthrown as Sodom and Gomorrah. However, one day in the future, Babylon shall “be utterly burned with fire” (Revelation 18:8).

The Middle East is known for its great oil reserves, and perhaps you will remember the Gulf War of '91, when many oil wells were left burning after the liberation of Kuwait. It took over a year with the help of the International Community to get all of those wells put out.

Imagine when Babylon is destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah, the world “shall see the smoke of her burning” (Revelation 18:9) via satellite TV, with the merchants “stand [ing] afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing” (Revelation 18:15), for they “cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!” (Revelation 18:18). We can remember the shock as we watched on television, when the Twin Towers were left burning with fire after terrorists slammed two passenger jets into them, with thousands of lives lost. This will be as nothing compared to the future judgment of Babylon, when the world “shall see the smoke of her burning” .

With such a great overthrow, how could this fire ever be put out? It will take more than an international effort, it will take the intervention of God, and so we read, Babylon shall be “cast… into the sea” (Revelation 18:21). “Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise…” (Jeremiah 51:63-64).

She is a literal city.

Some have concluded that there are “Two Babylon's” mentioned in the Scriptures, as portrayed in Alexander Hyslop's scholarly work by the same title. One being the ancient city of Babylon between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in modern day Iraq, the other being a mystical entity located in Rome, which they identify with Roman Catholicism.

However, we are told that the woman is the symbol of a city, and we are clearly told what city that is, “Babylon the Great” . But some would insist on making the city the symbol which the angel of the Revelation does not do. That she is a symbol of a city is clear for we are told “the woman which thou sawest is that great city , which reigneth over the kings (kingdoms) of the earth” (Revelation 17:18).

Babylon is referred to in the book of the Revelation as an actual city not just a symbol, and there is no reason to believe it is other than literal Babylon. It is referred to as “that great city” six times (Revelation 14:8, 17:18, 18:10, 16, 19, 21), “Babylon the great” twice (Revelation 17:5, 18:2), “great Babylon” (Revelation 16:19) once and “this great city” (Revelation 18:18) once.

Babylon is clearly identified as “that great city” . Rome is not mentioned once in the Revelation. If the angel of the Revelation meant Rome He would have revealed that to John. But John recorded that the woman was “that great city Babylon” (Revelation 18:10), and the identity of the harlot is even written on her forehead, “Babylon the Great” .

You would have to spiritualize the Scriptures rather than taking a contextual, and therefore, literal interpretation to come up with Rome. Some have alleged that “Babylon” was a “code word” used to refer to Rome. However, there is nothing to substantiate that claim. When Paul wrote his letter to the church at Rome he used no such code word and Peter's referral to the “church at Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13) was to the Christian Church that was established in Babylonia. There is no reason to believe otherwise. To misuse the Scriptures in such a way would be similar as saying the church is now Israel which some erringly do today.

She existed as a kingdom in the past and will be revived again.

Because Babylon has not been rebuilt up until this time and attempts in the past to rebuild her have failed, it does not mean that she will never be rebuilt again. “The beginning of [Nimrod's] kingdom was Babel” (Genesis 10:10), but when God confounded the language of the post Flood rebels, “they left off to build the city” (Genesis 11:8) and God scattered them across the face of all the earth.

This same city and kingdom along with its religion was resurrected after this by Nebuchadnezzar, and the Scriptures indicate that it will be revived once again in the last days as it appears in the Revelation.

The prophet Zechariah, who prophesied after the fall of Babylon when it was conquered by the Medes and the Persians, had a series of visions, one of which it appears was directed towards the rebuilding of Babylon. An angel showed Zechariah a “woman” (perhaps synonymous with the woman of the Revelation) in an “ephah” with a “talent of lead” covering the mouth. An “ephah” was a measuring basket and a “talent of lead” was a weight. Both of these were used in commerce. The angel then said this was “their resemblance throughout all the earth … This is wickedness” (Zechariah 5:6, 8).

When economy and commerce becomes the most important thing to a nation and corrupt religion permeates society, “This is wickedness” (Zechariah 5:8). In the last days Zechariah said this would be “their resemblance throughout all the earth” (Zechariah 5:6).

He then saw the “woman” inside the “ephah” with the “talent of lead” on the top being lifted up by two other women with wings as storks. Zechariah then asked, “Whither do these bear the ephah?” And the angel replied, “To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base” (Zechariah 5:11).

Zechariah saw that the whole world would be caught up in this “wickedness” . It would be “their resemblance throughout all the earth” . However, this great commercial and religious system began back in Babylon and was carried throughout the whole world on the backs of the nations when the Lord confused their language and scattered them upon the face of all the earth. Once it had permeated the whole earth its headquarters would be re-established upon her old foundation back in the “land of Shinar” (Zechariah 5:11).

The “land of Shinar” (Daniel 1:1-2) is also referred to as, “the land of Babylon” (Jeremiah 51:29) and “the land of Nimrod” (Micah 5:6). Nimrod became the world's first dictator organizing a single government under his rule and the “beginning of his kingdom was Babel” (Genesis 10:10).

This was the beginning of mankind's empire building schemes to make a name for himself, in direct conflict with the will of God. The consummation of man's self willed ambitions will be Babylon rebuilt and re-established as the Antichrist's center of world commerce as described very lavishly in Revelation chapters 17 and 18.

The rebuilding of Babylon will make the merchants and the inhabitants of the world filthy rich.

“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4).

Some have used this verse to identify the woman with Roman Catholicism due to her vast riches and that the priesthood of this religion often wear garments that contain scarlet and purple. However, in the context of the Revelation this is not what is meant. Babylon was “abundant in treasures” (Jeremiah 51:13) back in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and in the future, “purple and scarlet colour… gold and precious stones and pearls” along with all other merchandise are commodities that are bought and sold through the world financial center of Babylon that will be set up in the last days. This commercial religious system will require all to “worship the image of the beast” and that “no man might buy or sell” (Revelation 13:15-18) without receiving the mark of the beast in their right hand or forehead.

“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet , and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate” (Revelation 18:11-19).

In the Middle East there are some fantastic cities being built with the oil wealth of those countries. They are consuming a large amount of commodities without consideration for the expense of them and the costly materials which they have chosen in building them. It boggles the mind at the resources that are going into these great metropolises, but in the last days when Babylon is rebuilt and then judged by God the question will be asked, “What city is like unto this great city!”

The great cities of United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Japan, Taiwan, United States and others will be nothing compared to Babylon when antichrist sets his mind to rebuild her as the capital of the world. “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Revelation 18:3).

The size of Babylon when it is rebuilt will be beyond our imagination for she is called “that great [Greek: megas] city [Greek: polis] Babylon” (Revelation 18:10). These two Greek words are where we derive our English word megalopolis which means a very large city especially one consisting of several large cities and suburbs that adjoin each other.

The rebuilding of Babylon will make many filthy rich when it is restored “by reason of her costliness” (Revelation 18:19). It will be the Antichrist's mega project and will be the pinnacle of man's prideful arrogance. When Babel was first built their motivation was “let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name” (Genesis 11:4). When Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt Babylon he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30)

In the last days the people will once again rally under antichrist “To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base” (Zechariah 5:11). But the merchants shall wail greatly saying, “What city is like unto this great city!” (Revelation 18:18) when she is judged by God and quickly and finally brought to desolation and overthrown as “Sodom and Gomorrah” (Jeremiah 50:40) and “utterly burned with fire” (Revelation 18:8), then finally “cast … into the sea” (Revelation 18:21).

She is the great whore, and MOTHER of harlots.

If we are to understand this “mystery” aright, we must go back to the beginning of this “present evil world” (Galatians 1:4), when the post Flood population united in an effort against the will of the Lord. God had told them to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1). But their reply came back, “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4), and the name of their city and “kingdom was Babel” (Genesis 10:10, same word as Babylon).

To thwart their rebellion, God came down and confounded the language of the rebels and scattered them throughout the whole earth so that “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations” (Genesis 10:5). Thus, each family was divided into a specific region with their own language and they became the Gentile nations of the world.

However, when they were scattered, they brought with them the false religion and kingdom building philosophies that were produced at Babel. Thus we find pyramids and similar religions and gods around the world.

Babylon thereby became the fountainhead or mother of all false religion and abominations that filled the earth. This “great city” is truly “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5). This was a great mystery, which perhaps the people of God should already have recognized, but now it is clearly unveiled in the book of the Revelation what sort of influence Babylon has had on this present evil world.

This woman is therefore also called “the great whore” (Revelation 17:1) . The word “whore” comes from the Greek word porne , which is similar to pornos and porneia that is translated “fornication” and “fornicator”. To commit fornication is to commit any sexual act outside of marriage. She is the great fornicator for “she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8).

Jeremiah said, “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad (Jeremiah 51:7). The drunken fornication that happen at Babel produced the nations of the world and her offspring were spread out from Babel into the whole world. In effect, each nation became a little colony of Babel.

In a spiritual sense a fornicator would refer to anyone who worships or serves other “gods” rather than the one true God and Creator. This woman has truly spawned all the false religions of the nations that departed from the one true God. The religions of polytheism, pantheism, animism, astrology, nature worship or any of the modern religions of today, whether they understand it or not, all have their roots that go back to Babel.

Babylon's influence has unquestionably reigned over the nations and the Gentile kingdoms of this world and this is why she is called the “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH”. She influenced Israel in the Old Testament as Isaiah lamented, “How is the faithful city become an harlot” (Isaiah 1:21). And since New Testament times, the “church” has jumped into bed with her, primarily the Roman Catholic Church which became the “state church” when Christianity was legalized in the fourth century by the Roman Emperor Constantine.

However, Roman Catholicism clearly does not fit the description as the originator or mother of all false religion. She may have committed fornication, adopting many of the tenants of paganism and become a harlot, much like Israel did in the Old Testament, however, Babylon is clearly “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” .

She does not sit on “seven” literal “hills”.

“And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth” (Revelation 17:9). Many have concluded that Rome is “that great city” because she is situated on “seven hills”. Encyclopaedia Britannica identifies Rome as “The city of the seven hills, of treasures and tourists…” (26:980). In Compton's Encyclopaedia, under the heading ROME, it says, “The city … spreads over the low Seven Hills … in altitude from about 40 feet above sea level to about 270 feet” (Vol. 21, p. 249).

These seven hills are the Palatine, Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and the Aventine. However, Rome has many other hills such as the Pincian Hill, the Janiculum Hill, Velia Hill, and of course, the famous Vatican Hill where the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church are located in Vatican City which is an autonomous entity apart from Rome.

We should also note that Vatican Hill was never considered one of the “seven hills of Rome”, nor does the Roman Catholic Church sit on the Seven Hills of Rome. Also, Rome is said to be the city of “seven hills”, not “seven mountains” as the Bible tells us.

The Bible says that, “The seven heads are seven mountains , on which the woman sitteth” (Revelation 17:9). There is a great difference between a mountain and a hill. In the Scriptures the word “hill” is usually translated from the Greek word “bounos” whereas the word “mountains” is translated from the Greek word “oros”. For example, “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain [Gr. oros] and hill [Gr. bounos] shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth” (Luke 3:5). To say that the woman sits on seven “hills” is to misalign God's incorruptible Word.

Furthermore, the mountains, we are told, actually symbolize seven kingdoms for we are told that the “seven heads [of the beast] are [Greek eisi ] seven mountains [Greek oros ] , on which the woman sitteth. And there are [Greek eisi ; translated at least 23 times as “they are” or usually just “are” ] seven kings (Revelation 17:9-10). So, the “seven heads are seven mountains” , and “ they are seven kings” .

(Seven heads = seven mountains = seven kings)

There is no need to step outside of the Scriptures to interpret what these seven heads and mountains represent. The angel of the Revelation plainly reveals to John that they are “seven kings” or kingdoms. Elsewhere in the Bible “mountains” are often used to symbolize kingdoms or government (Isaiah 2:2, 13:1-2, 40:4, Daniel 2:34-35, Jeremiah 51:24-25, Zechariah 4:7, Micah 4:1-2). Therefore, in this specific context, the “mountains” are symbolic and we are told that they signify kings.

The woman is carried by a beast with seven heads that represent seven great kingdoms of the earth down through history and she has reigned over them.

The woman is seen sitting on a “scarlet coloured beast” as well as the “seven heads” of the beast. The “seven heads are seven mountains” (Revelation 17:9), which represent “seven kings” (Revelation 17:10) or kingdoms. We are then told that “the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18). Simply put, she is a great city that reigns over these seven kingdoms of the earth, past, present and future.

Now of these “seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come” (Revelation 17:10). At the time that John wrote the Revelation five of these kingdoms had already come and gone. One presently existed ( “one is” ) which was the Roman Empire (the sixth), and the seventh kingdom was still to come (Revelation 17:9-10).

But the complete seven-headed ten-horned beast represented the “eighth” (Revelation 17:11) and final worldwide kingdom before Christ returns. We are told that the eighth kingdom “was, and is not” (Revelation 17:8), that is, it existed in the past, but ceased to exist at the time when John penned the Revelation. However, one day the beast would “ascend out of the bottomless pit” , and “they that dwell on the earth shall wonder … when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is (Revelation 17:8).

After these descriptions the angel comes right out and tells John, “the woman which thou sawest is that great city , which reigneth over the kings (kingdoms) of the earth” (Revelation 17:18). We must wonder as John, what “great city” has influenced or reigned over the kingdoms of the world down throughout history? Is she Jerusalem, Washington, Moscow, or perhaps Rome? These and many other cities have been suggested, however, as we search the Scriptures, I believe we will find it absolutely indisputable as to what great city she signifies.

This great city must have existed prior to the five “fallen” kingdoms (represented by the seven heads of the beast) in order to exercise her influence over them. It is said that she “reigneth” (Greek echo : to have or hold in possession) over all the kings/kingdoms of the earth. This would disqualify the Roman Catholic Church for it would be impossible for her to reign over the five kingdoms prior to the Roman Empire for she did not exist before the Roman Empire.

Although the woman did not exist as the predominant physical and geographical city at the time when John wrote the Revelation (Rome was the capital city of the Roman Empire, the sixth kingdom), she existed as a great city in the past and will rise up again only to be judged by God in the latter days. We must remember as well that the beast that carried her “was, and is not, and shall ascend” (Revelation 17:8). It appears then, that when this eighth kingdom ascends to power she too will be exalted as the great and mighty city of the beast.

Of these seven kingdoms, “five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come” (Revelation 17:10). When John wrote the Revelation five of these kingdoms already ceased to exist. Rome was the sixth kingdom and the seventh was “not yet come” . The seventh kingdom, we are told, would be a revised or divided Roman Empire ruled by a 10-king confederacy represented by the “ten horns” on the seventh head of the beast. And in the days of this ten king confederacy, the “eighth” (Revelation 17:11) and final kingdom would “ascend” , represented by the complete seven-headed, ten-horned beast, for “the beast… is the eighth” (Revelation 17:11), and these “ten” shall “agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast” (Revelation 17:17).

Many have come to the conclusion that the beast represents a revived Roman Empire, however this cannot be for we are told that this “beast … was, and is not ; and shall ascend … [and of the] seven kings: five are fallen, and one is [sixth] , and the other is not yet come [seventh] … And the beast that was, and is not , even he is the eighth” (Revelation 17:8, 10-11).

When John wrote the Revelation the sixth kingdom was the Roman Empire ( “one is” ). At the same time we are told that the beast “was, and is not” . We are told “one is” and the other “is not” . The language is very clear. The beast existed before the Roman Empire but “is not” the Roman Empire but would be revived in the last days as the “eighth” kingdom.

Out of the five kingdoms that were already “fallen” (Assyrian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Grecian), one would “ascend” again to be the last and final kingdom before Christ returns to set up His kingdom. The Bible distinctly indicates that it would be the Babylonian kingdom as declared in the Bible “… and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath … I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore …” (Revelation 16:19, 17:1).

It should be noted that Babel or Babylon existed before all of these kingdoms and was the “beginning of [Nimrod's] kingdom” (Genesis 10:10), therefore it is rightly said that she “reigneth over the kings of the earth” , and it is therefore fitting that she is called the “lady of the kingdoms” (Isaiah 47:5).

Mystery as it is used in the New Testament was the revelation of some unknown truth.

The New Testament meaning of the word mystery is that of a hidden truth unveiled. We should also take note that when the word “mystery” is used in the New Testament, it is in relation to some great doctrine not clearly taught in the Old Testament. These great truths were hidden or kept secret from the foundation of the world until the revelation of Jesus Christ, such as, the translation and rapture of the saints ( “Behold, I shew you a mystery” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, 1Thessalonians 4:15-18); the “mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:1-9), that is, the uniting of Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ; “the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11); the mystery of Israel's blindness and the salvation of the Gentiles (Romans 11); the indwelling Christ (Colossians 1:26-27); and the manifestation of God in the flesh (1Timothy 3:16), etc.

We must also point out that the word “Revelation” comes from the Greek word apokalupsis , which means unveiling or revealing of those things that were at one time concealed. One of the things that the angel says he will reveal is the mystery surrounding this woman. “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH…. 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” (Revelation 17:5, 7).

The identifying name of the woman is not “Mystery” but “BABYLON THE GREAT”. Babylon was the fountainhead of all false religion and became the abominations of the earth. She infected every nation with her pagan religion and from Babylon this wickedness flowed out to all the regions of the world in those early post-Flood years.

This false religious system so permeated the world that all the inhabitants of the earth were made “drunk” with the wine of her spiritual fornication. Jeremiah said, “the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad” (Jeremiah 51:7). It was not until the Light of God's Word entered into the world that this mystery was unveiled. Perhaps the saints should have had the perception to recognize this long ago, but now through the Word of God, it is made plain for us to see.

However, this was not the only mystery mentioned in the Revelation, for the angel told John “I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns” (v. 7). The beast was another mystery that represented the revived kingdom of Babylon that was originally established at Babel long ago. In the book of Genesis we are told, “the beginning of [Nimrod's] kingdom was Babel…” (Genesis 10:10). It appears that this was the beginning of man's concerted effort to build his own kingdom, and to govern his own affairs, politically and religiously, without God.

Since that time the earth has been divided up, each nation with their own distinct language. In essence each nation became a little colony of Babel. Some of these grew up to be great nations and kingdoms, while others dwindled to become dispersed nomadic tribes, and some clans became extinct altogether. However, in the last days there will be another concerted effort to unite and rebuild this great religious and commercial center, thus reviving a literal, religious and geopolitical Babylon once again.

To insist that Rome is this woman is to seriously misjudge the global impact of this ancient mystery. In Dave Hunt's video bearing the same title as his book, “A Woman Rides the Beast”, he asks the question, “Could Rome be this woman on the beast? That would make good sense because the beast she rides is the Revived Roman Empire.”

Here we believe is another error that has been perpetuated for some time by scholars in these last days. The fact of the matter is that the Roman Empire does not need reviving for it never really ceased to exist. Rather, it was transformed and divided into the political and religious structure we see today throughout the world.

The prophet Daniel was shown a great image that represented four great kingdoms from his day forward. The fourth kingdom represented Rome, but Rome was never conquered as were its predecessors, but we were told, it “shall be divided” (Daniel 2:41), and that it would “be partly strong, and partly broken” (v. 42).

The image that Daniel saw appears to be an idol of a man. The head was Babylon, the breasts and arms were Medo-Persia, the belly and thighs were Greece, and the legs, feet and toes represented the Roman Empire.

This empire would be divided, and so it has as represented by the legs, feet and toes. The empire was first divided in half with Rome in the West and Constantinople in the East. Eventually the west became the “Holy Roman Empire” under the popes, and the east came under control of the Greek Orthodox Church. And to this day, the world is politically divided between east and west. However, the final “revision” of the Roman Empire will be that of a ten king confederacy, as represented by the ten toes. The kingdom was never conquered as its predecessor kingdoms, rather, its structure has been transformed, and finally, “out of this kingdom” (Daniel 7:24, not after) shall arise ten kings.

The Roman Empire we were told would be “partly strong, and partly broken”. It would first be divided in half as represented by the two legs of iron. When we get to the feet, we find that clay is mixed with the iron weakening the structure, and finally, in the last days, it would be divided into ten regions. It would not cease to exist, but its structure would be transformed and fill the whole earth, or as Daniel says, it “shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces” (Daniel 7:23).

Many advocates of a Revived Roman Empire use Daniel 9:26 to rest their case which states, “the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary”. It was the Roman army that destroyed Jerusalem and Herod's Temple, so the “prince that shall come” (the Antichrist), must come out of the Roman Empire. However, if the Kingdom of Rome never ceased to exist, but was divided or “partly broken” and transformed, it is still possible for the Antichrist to arise out of this kingdom. And this is what Daniel says, “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall arise after them” (Daniel 7:24). If the Roman Empire ceased to exist, the ten kings could not arise “out of this kingdom” .

Daniel then said, “behold, there came up among them another little horn” (Daniel 7:8). The Antichrist or the “beast” shall rise up from among these ten kings, which will be the final “division” of the Roman Empire, and the antichrist will represent the “eighth” (Revelation 17:11) and final kingdom, “Babylon the great” . It appears that this has been Satan's scheme from the beginning, to sit upon the throne of the earth ruling through antichrist, and ever since it fell he has been seeking to revive it.

Conclusion

To be sure this same Babylon is referred to in the Old Testament and the Revelation, there are many parallel Scriptures to confirm this. John was told that this harlot “sitteth upon many waters” (Revelation 17:1). Jeremiah said the same, “O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness” (Jeremiah 51:13). John also repeated (Revelation 17:1-2) what Jeremiah said long ago. “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad (Jeremiah 51:7).

The ancient cry was, “My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD” (Jeremiah 51:45). This cry will be echoed in the future when God judges Babylon for the final time. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5).

As God called Lot out of Sodom and Gomorrah before its destruction, so too will God call his people out of Babylon before her final judgment.

This is what the Bible says concerning Babylon, then and now, we just need to believe God for, “the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalms 19:7).

Last Update: 8/13/2009

1-15 of 16 Comments
Phillip Fleeman – Missouri,USA
March 14, 2017 - 16:00

I would agree with most everything that you have wrote but I would add that mystery Babylon is not one City that has (and will) reigned over the Kings of the earth but the 7 capital cities of each of these 7 kingdoms. Each one has as it's worshipful origins the doctrine found in Nimrods original Babylon. It will be the 7th one that will be destroyed by the 10 Kings of the 7th kingdom that will be burned with fire giving way to the rebuilding of Babylon in Shinar, and the rise of the 8th king.
Blessings
Phil

don – alabama
January 28, 2016 - 08:18

Hello my friend. I think we are on the same wave link. imho, False Religion, ALL FR from the beginning of mankind is the Great Harlot. She is judged in Rev. 17, and Destroyed by the Kings in league with the Beast. He wants to be GOD, so he destroys Islam and all false religions, God placed this in their hearts. (Judgment on false religion)

Mystery, Babylon the Great, etc. etc is just metaphors used by John to describe her. Thanks for the article.

kim – south KOREA
June 10, 2015 - 02:01

Hello.

i really appreciate your writting. i 100% agree with you.

but... my question is

woman is " Great Babylon", which is the literal city ".

and, also, Babylon is the capital of the antichrist. right?

woman is the city and babylon is the same city from beast will reign over.

how do you explain Rev 17:16

17:16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

how beast(babylon= capital of his kingdom) will burn woman(babylon=city, which beast will reign over there)

please let me know.

thank you!

Reply to kim
Noel
June 10, 2015 - 05:41

Hello Kim,

That is a very good and important question. We must remember that right from the beginning, Babylon had two aspects to it, "a city and a tower" (Genesis 11:4), that is, political and religious Babylon.

So with that in mind, here is one possible scenario. When the antichrist arrives on the scene, this charismatic leader will undoubtedly gain his popularity with both political and religious Babylon. Together they support the beast and help him gain his prominent position among the ten kings. At the beginning of the tribulation he will gain great favor of the religious community, perhaps being a man of great tolerance. He even confirms a covenant with the Jews and makes a way for them to begin their daily sacrifice on the temple mount.

However, through the help of the false prophet, the beast obtains cultic worship and gains power over the whole world as its dictator. Worship of the beast is then demanded and whosoever would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. I think at this time many of the worlds religious leaders will not be willing to give up their prestigious positions nor surrender their long held false beliefs. I think it will be at this time that they will be seen by the beast as competition or a hindrance to total devotion to himself. While he has already started his pogrom against the Christians and Jews, he will decide to get rid of religion completely that he might be exalted as god alone over the whole earth. We are told that when he is revealed he "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Religious and political Babylon have mutually supported each other for their own benefit down through the centuries, but each has desired to be in control of the power, so when the beast gives command, the ten kings, who really hate the whore, will jump at the opportunity and religious Babylon will then be devoured and consumed by the ten kings who have given their kingdom to the beast. They will burn the vestiges and temples, execute the leaders and the followers of those cults who will not worship the image of the beast, and will take to themselves the vast spoils and riches of those religious systems. I do not think that burning her with fire will be nuclear, as she is too intertwined with the worlds system, but I am sure most of the temples, shrines and churches will go up in flames. Satan and the man of sin will be openly worshipped by the world so no need for any other deities to serve as rivals to Satan and his man.

God had decreed that this old harlot would meet her end and He uses political Babylon to accomplish His will, for the ten kings, "these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will..." (Revelation 17:16-17). But they only "receive power as kings one hour with the beast" (v. 12), before God levels the earth in judgment and burns that great city Babylon, so loved by the world for all her riches.

This is of course figurative language, but the ten kings under the leadership of the beast and their minions, rape, pillage and burn the harlot (religious), before that great city Babylon is judged by God and utterly burned with fire (political).

I hope this helps answer your question, and please do comment if it is not yet clear.

In Christ,
Noel

Peter Breen – UK
July 04, 2013 - 06:41

Your article is well written but flawed for the following reasons;

1. You have assumed the seven kings (17:10)are kingdoms. They are not they are kings
2.My understanding is that the literal Babylon was destroyed hundreds of years before John's Revelation. It would be very strange for the angel speaking to John to refer to the Great City as literal Babylon when it was not actually there! 17:18 - and the woman whom you saw IS the great city which HAS a kingdom over the kings of the earth.
3. John's marvelling is surely at 'Christians' who shed the blood of other Christians, not pagans who, at the time , were already persecuting Christians. The RCC has shed the blood of more Christians than even ancient Rome!

There are many other points you state which do not tally.I appreciate your research but I will stick to the interpretation you refer to as 'The vast majority of the reformers believed that the woman of Revelation 17 represented Roman Catholicism'

Thank you

Reply to Peter Breen
Noel
July 05, 2013 - 05:22

1. I would ask, who is a king that has no kingdom? A king and his kingdom are synonymous one with the other. In the book of Daniel we read "These great beasts, which are four, are four KINGS, which shall arise out of the earth." (Daniel 7:17) and then goes on to explain, "The fourth beast shall be the fourth KINGDOM upon earth" (v. 23). Furthermore, you have not given any explanation as to who the five that are fallen, the one that is, and the one that is to come (Revelation 17:10)
2. In the first century Babalon was alive and well. Even Peter wrote to "The church that is at Babylon" (1 Peter 5:13) The Babylonian Talmud was produced during the 3-5th century and there were many Jewish synogogues in Babylon at that time. Revelation 17:18 reads: "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." First of all, we would say that the RCC is not a city it is just another cult, a perversion of true Christianity. Secondly, this woman that John saw in his vision "reigneth" (present tense) over the kings (kingdoms) of the earth. The RCC did not exist in the first century. The word reigneth comes from the Greek "echo" and means to have or possess, whether it be control, rule or influence of any kind. This woman is "THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" She is the mother of every false religion of the world and her spawn went out from Babylon when God confused the languages of the earth and scattered the nations around the globe, they bringing with them the abominations that were produced there.
3. The Reformers may have thought this woman was Roman Catholicism because she looked very similar to her mother. The RCC is not the Mother of harlots, she is just another of the many harlot religions out there. FYI, the statistics state that there have been more martyrs this past centry than there has been in all of world history, and it has not been the RCC making them. Most Christians have been martyred by Muslim, Hindu and Communists and other religious factions of this world.

Babylon gave birth to a host of harlots and they spread throughout this whole earth in the early years after the Flood. These harlots may not look exactly like when they were born and have over the centuries taken on many shapes and forms, but their commonality is spiritual harlotry, in that they worship not the one true God of creation. Many centuries before Roman Catholicism was birthed, the prophet Jeremiah said, "Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad." (Jeremiah 51:7)

Sonya – Okc
March 24, 2013 - 22:24

Hi, thank you for this article. It does help. Do you believe it is the RCC?

Reply to Sonya
Noel
March 27, 2013 - 06:27

Hi Sonya, I believe that the hartlot of Revelation 17 is not the Roman Catholic Church for the reasons mentioned in this article. The harlot of Revelation 17, who has the name BABYLON emblazened on her forehead, reigned over the kingdoms of this earth prior to the RCC conception, so it cannot be the RCC. The RCC slowly began to be formed after Constantine leagalized Christianity in the 4th century AD. While the RCC may be a halrlot, she is not the MOTHER of harlots. I would liken the RCC more to Israel of the OT who apostasized and abandoned God for pagan idolatry. She may look like the harlot of Revelation 17 only because she is her child.

The MOTHER OF HARLOTS is far bigged than the RCC. She encompasses every false religion of the world who does not worship the one true God of Creation, Hinduism, Muslimism, Confusionism, animism, athiesm, etc.. She is the ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Her birth was way back in Chapter 11 of Genesis when the post Flood population apostasized and began a fasle idolatrous religion on the plain of Shinar at Babel. These rebels were dispersed throughout the whole earth, and became the nations of the world with their new languages, and when they were scattered they bought with them this false form of worship, making Babylon truely THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

Barry – Texas
December 12, 2012 - 11:20

This has made the most since to me in my quest to understand revelations. It is close to where my thoughts have led me in a literal fashion. I still see a possible symbolic scenario that may just be a precursor to the literal and actual rebuilding of Babylon. I'm not necessarily looking for literal answers, but these are questions I often ponder:
First, let me explain, that I truly and honestly believe in Jesus and the message of Grace He delivered. So the following questions are not meant to cast doubt on Jesus (the Son of God) or Christ (the Word of God). These questions that I ponder, actually help me to get back to the original message of Jesus Christ.

Could it be, that secret societies, that are known to exist today, represent the Great city of Babylon?
Could it be, that the people "the sea" are waking up to see how money, politics and religion have been used by a select few to deceive, thieve and oppress?
Could it be, that "Christianity" (as a religion) has become the very thing Jesus came to fulfill and therefore save us from?
Could it be, that the "law" (that was) used by the Pharisees to condemn, (that was not) when Jesus came, not to abolish, but to fulfill the "law" and (was again) when a church was raised up in the name of Christ to condemn men again by making them thing there's a price to be paid for Salvation that has already been more than covered by Jesus on our behalf?
Could it be, that Babylon the Great is on fire right now, providing the "light" for the people "the sea", allowing them to awaken slowly and see the sources of evil?
Could it be, that the "sea" of people will rise up to extinguish the fire of their fury?
Could it be, that the smoke that arises will serve as a signal that evil has finally been conquered?
Could it be, that this secret society, through its vast sums of ill gotten wealth, has created a worldwide organization in the name of Christ, has propagated this organization with teachings that mimic the teachings of Jesus and therefore led people astray from the true Gospel?
Could it be, that an organization like this could be considered "anti-Christ" since it leads people astray from the true Christ?
Could it be, that when Jesus said,"many will come in My name", that He may have been speaking of sub-organizations that would arise from differences of opinion about the teachings of the top organization?
Could it be, if the word religion means "to search"' that people are truly searching for the original true Gospel because they have been led astray by other teachings?

When I read the four gospels, One thing stands out to me above all others. The good news to me is that The Kingdom of God has ARRIVED! In order to receive the protections and benefits of The Kingdom of God, I must be born into it by verbally accepting Jesus as my King. Jesus knew that we would be led astray, which is why He didn't say "turn" or "pent", but He said "re-turn","re-pent"' which would imply that we had been there before. I've learned that my love for Jesus is not as important as His love for me.

My eyes have recently been being opened, not only to the ways of God, but also the ways of the world. It seems there is so much evil, and so little care. My prayer is that good people will awaken and repent to the original Gospel of Jesus!

God Bless!

j s
February 13, 2011 - 22:16

Very interesting article, Noel. However something doesn't make sense to me - about the 7 kings. You talk about this as 7 kingdoms. Whereas, in daniel there are only 4 kingdoms mentioned. Why should there be more kingdoms in Revelation ?

Reply to j s
Noel
February 14, 2011 - 07:34

It appears that from Daniel's standpoint he is looking forward, whereas in the Revelation we are looking forward, but also backwards from John's point in time. For certain, at least from Daniel's time, the Babylonian, Medo-Persian and Grecian Empires had all come and gone by the time John wrote the Revelation. If "five" were already "fallen" (Revelation 17:10) that would leave two more kingdoms that were before the time of Daniel that had fallen before the time of Nebuchadnezzar which were likely Assyria (Jeremiah 50:17) and Egypt (Exodus 1:1-14). These two kingdoms as well as all the others were in opposition to the one true God and against His people.

If you would like to look into this a little further, we have a more detailed account written here: http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/Mystery4.html

Eve Lyn W. Tupag – Cagayan de Oro City,Mindanao,Phlippines
July 06, 2010 - 03:18

Thankful to heavenly Father i ever saw your ARTICLES and open then read. God Almighty will provide you most publishing the very long time questions in my head about the real Babylon which in my heart and in my head coincide your article which is IRAQ especially conquering and invading Kuwait August 28,1990 and memorable this in our part caused we ENTERED TO A PLACE where we live last February 28,1991 whom the Iraqish vacate from Kuwait. They vacate and we ENTERED considering us the Land of Promise. so memorable and i will print this all and place in clear Book to let my family read and all people around me. Again thank you very much and God Bless all. Eve Lyn Waslo Tupag.

luther m. walters – laurinburg, n.c.28352
January 25, 2010 - 10:56

babylon is a code word - you read it backwards- no love baby. revelation has a lot of hidden messages about abortion but in revelation 14:2-9 they are very precise yet nobody knows who they are. MY THEORY is because GOD sent a delusion. GOD did not send me the delusion. and they think in ch. 19 that JESUS is on the white horse but it is antichrist on the white horse.

Reply to luther m. walters
Noel – Canada
January 25, 2010 - 11:22

It was not necessary to send you a delusion.

Noel
December 30, 2009 - 11:58

Ruchi, you certainly can use any exerpts from this article to get the Word of God out. You may also find this article of interest on the same topic: http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/ prophecy/Mystery4.html

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