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Revelation. 17:1- 19:10. V1 begins with a continuation of the 7 bowls - as one of the Angels who was holding a bowl speaks to John links passage to 16:17 ff

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17:1- 19:10

chapter 17
V1 begins with a continuation of the 7 bowls - as one of the Angels who was holding a bowl speaks to John

links passage to 16:17 ff

The angel will explain the meaning of the woman and the beast with 10 horns and seven heads (More on the Beast and a modern application)

The angel as an interpreter is common in apocalyptic literature: Zech. 1:9, Dan 7:16

Chapter 17
v 2 6
Judgement is announced for the harlot and all those who have followed her

The woman is identified as “Babylon”

She is seated on the beast

Who is Babylon ?

Jerusalem ?

The prophets sometimes identify Jerusalem with a prostitute (Isa 1:21, Ezek. 16:15-45)

Here it is to be identified with Rome

see v 9,18

The identification of a city as female and with a prostitute was common in Hebrew literature

Also an allusion to the Roman goddess roma

V 2-6
verse 2 3
Earth’s inhabitants have grown drunk on her wine and committed fornication with her

John is taken to the wilderness to have the woman and beast explained

The color of the beast recalls the dragon of ch 12

The blasphemous names identify it with the beast of ch 12

both have 7 heads and ten horns

This beast may be the equal of the one in ch 13

Verse 2 -3
verses 4 6
She is dressed in purple and scarlet, with gold and pearls

these were the trapping of the rich

see LK 16:19

v 5 - Names on her forehead

Roman prostitutes often had their names on their foreheads

Reminds on of the followers of the lamb and the beast - both identified by markings on forehead

see 7:3, 9:4, 13:16, 14:1,9

Verses 4-6
verses 6 8
V 6 - John is astonished (also marveled)

why ?

Perhaps he can see the draw of worldly temptations and why many are drawn to them

v 7 - Who does this refer to ?

Nero - He was the emperor, he is currently dead, but may return from the underworld to rule again

Verses 6-8
v 9 11
Where is Babylon ?- Heavenly wisdom is necessary - common to apocalyptic literature

It is Rome - built on 7 hills

7 kings refers to 7 emperors

Difficult to know who is being referred to

The number 7 may indicate that all roman emperors are being referred to

v 11 - beast is Nero - who is was feared would return

V 9-11
v 12 14
There was a legend that Nero had not died, but escaped to Parthia and would return with allies

rule for one hour - only for a short time

This battle is foreshadowed in 16:12-16

There will also be a battle between the beast and Christ 6:12-17, 6th bowl; 11:15-19, 7th trumpet

V 12-14
v 15 18
The ten kings will turn against the harlot and fulfill God’s will in the end

also corresponds to the fate waiting for those who oppose God

Can be applied to times other than the present (for John)

V 15-18
ch 17
How is the chapter to be understood ?

Is Rome itself being condemned ? And the Roman people ?

The chapter seems to be condemning all that Rome stood for

corruption, depravity, etc

It is the opposite of the new Jerusalem that will be ruled by Christ

Ch 17
chapter 18
Describes the fall of Babylon

This takes the form of an announcement of judgement

Another angel relays this information

Is this angel Christ ?

Chapter 18
18 2 3
Continues theme of 17:16-17

punishment of Babylon

Now a description is given

Condemnation of those who followed her

For “fallen, fallen” see Isa 14:8, 21:9, Jer 51:8

for the fall

v 3 - addressed to those who consented to her authority because it would be profitable for them to do so

v 4 5
A voice from Heaven is now heard

a warning and the reasons for it

a further warning against assimilation

Once again, be in the world but not of the world

V 4-5
v 6 8
The command to bring about the judgment 6-7

7-8 - explanation of the command

v 6-7 the lex talionis is seen

See also Mt 7:1-2, 18:23-25

v 7-8 - reversal

V 6-8
v 9 10
An announcement of judgement on those kings who were loyal to Rome and received authority from it

judgement is announced by those who were loyal to Rome

V 10 relates back to 17:12

Without Babylon their power is gone

a self centered sorrow - does not lead to repentance

Again - one hour of persecution leads to one hour of punishment

V 9-10
v 11 14
Announcement of judgement against merchants Why ?

Conflict between following Christ and accumulating wealth

the rich continued getting richer

V 14 dirge directed at Babylon rather than the merchants themselves

V 11-14
v 15 19
V 15-17: merchants mourn not for Babylon but for the loss of business

once again this happens in one hour

17-19: judgement against mariners

more lament at the loss of profits - rather than any real repentance

V 15-19
18 20 24
Rejoicing at the punishment

another angel enters - see vv. 1-3

there is now a silence in Babylon - parallels the announcement of the angel in verses 2-3

The section ends with reasons being given for the judgement

For further explanation of ch. 18

ch 19 1 10
V 1 refers back to 18:20 and the call for rejoicing

this section speaks of God’s judgement and salvation

Those loyal to God have been avenged

Ch 19: 1-10
First there is rejoicing in Heaven

1-5 focus on God’s victory

v 5 - call to rejoice on earth

v 6-8 marriage of Lamb to bride

V 9-10 do not worship the angel - only God is to be worshipped

This was part of the problem in rome

  • Collins, Adela, Yarbo “Revelation”. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (eds. Raymond Brown, Joseph Fitzmyer, Roland Murphy) Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall (1990). 1011-1014
  • Koester, Craig. Revelation and the End of All Things, Grand Rapids:Erdmans (2001) 154-170
  • Taylor, Ross. “The Interpretation of Revelation” Available on the web here
  • Click here for Revelation verses and notes