Revelation 17 Step-by-Step

Revelation 17


Revelation 17 is all about the destruction of “the great whore of Babylon.” To get a good understanding of this chapter, one needs a good understanding of the biblical concepts “whore” and “Babylon.”



In the Bible, “a whore” refers to a woman that is unfaithful to her husband. More specifically, the book of Revelation described those who are spiritually unfaithful to God as such. 


The Old Testament depicts the relationship between Yahweh and Israel as a husband and wife. 

Isaiah 54:5 says, “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”

Whenever Israel entertained other gods and their ways, it was adultery in God’s eyes, and He would send many warnings to them.

Jeremiah 3:6: “….the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.”


In the New Testament, the Church is the bride of Christ. She is betrothed to Him until Christ’s second coming and the glorious marriage of the Lamb to the Church. Thus, Paul wrote and warned the Church against spiritual unfaithfulness when she is no longer pure.

2 Corinthians 11:2: “I promised you ton one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”


Throughout history, Satan has schemed and conspired to position himself as a “pseudo-lover,” if you will. He wants the worship that belongs to God. He is the mastermind behind the deceptive Babylonian religion, one that was never put to bed. 

Only the names were reinvented, but God remembered her. We meet her again in Revelation 17.



Ancient Babylon is today Iraq. It first entered the scene when the world united against God and built the Tower of Babel in the land of Shinar. The leader of this evil project was Nimrod.

Nimrod was the son of Cush, the grandson of Ham, and the great-grandson of Noah.

Genesis 10:6: “And the sons of Ham; Cush… 8And Cush begat Nimrod… 9He was a mighty hunter before the LORD… 10And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”

According to religious history and legend, the Babylonian religion was founded by the wife of Nimrod, Semiramis. She was a high priestess of idol worship, and she gave birth to a son who she claimed was conceived miraculously. This son, Tammuz, was considered a god. 

Many ancient artefacts have this familiar motif of the mother Semiramis holding the infant Tammuz, now known as the mother-and-child, which predates Christianity. 

The same Semiramis, her name was reinvented through the ages and via different cultures. The names Ishtar, Asherah, or the Queen of Heaven all refer to her. And Baal was the local Canaanite name for her son, the Babylonian Tammuz.

Tower of Babel - Origin of Babylonian False Religion
Tower of Babel - Origin of Babylonian False Religion


This was the history of Israel in the Old Testament, serving only Yahweh and then becoming unfaithful, including Baal and Asherah. Over and over, and many warnings later, until many years later, when God sent the Babylonians into Israel to bring them to the land of idol gods for 70 years.

Judges 3:7: “The Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight. They forgot about the LORD their God, and they served the images of Baal and the Asherah poles. 8Then the LORD burned with anger against Israel.”


This old Babylonian religion did not go away; it only changed the characters’ names. 

When Christ comes again, He will settle all matters on earth, including this false Babylonian religion. God has already declared Babylon’s judgement, saying, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great.” See Revelation 14.

In Revelation 16, God remembered this Babylon again while the bowls were poured out. 

Revelation 16:9: “God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.”



Revelation 17:1: “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.”

The seven bowls came, and one of the seven angels that poured it out called John over to show him something: the “great whore.” She was an unfaithful woman, a great harlot, and a prostitute.

She sits on many waters, which refers to her international power over many nations.



Revelation 17:2: “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

This unfaithful woman got into bed with political power. Religion and politics became one flesh in this act of fornication. 

The people followed along since it looked holy and religious from the outside. They were made drunk, and they were confused about God’s ways and His truth under her influence.

This is religion and politics in cahoots to bring about the beast system, a One World Order. 



Revelation 17:3: “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.”

For Israel, the wilderness was where they spent 40 years learning to trust God and depend on Him alone. One of the seven angels, talking to John, carried him into the wilderness, and John described to us what he saw.

He witnessed a woman seated upon a scarlet beast, blaspheming God’s ways and prostituting herself to the beast for power and fame. 

Purple and scarlet were significant colors because the dye used to make them was rare and costly. Hence, they were the colors of rulers and the powerful. She lusted after power, and it corrupted her.


The Harlot On the Beast
The Harlot On the Beast



Revelation 17:4: “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.”

This woman was arrayed in gold and precious stones, all symbols of what was in the Jewish Temple. Although she looks holy from the outside, it is all abominations, and God will not bless it.

She was drinking from the cup of the Lord with one hand and the cup of devils with the other.

1 Corinthians 10:21: “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”



Revelation 17:5: “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

Despite all her glamour, she is nothing but a prostitute. She is wearing a headband to prove it, as Roman prostitutes used to wear headbands with their names written on them. It is also in strong contrast with the headband that a priest in God’s Temple would wear with the word “holy” on it.

“Mystery Babylon the Great” refers to her roots, and there is nothing holy about it. It is the great false religion of Babylon, the mother-and-child worship that originated at the Tower of Babel.

The phrase “mother of” implies she has daughters. Most scholars believe Rome and the Roman Catholic system are involved, but it is not limited to one denomination. It goes deeper than that, for she has daughters.

If mother-child worship was fought back at the Reformation, the end-time Church is one of apostasy. Jesus is standing outside the door of the Church of Laodicea, and He is knocking to be let in. See Revelation 3.



Revelation 17:6: “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.”

John was stunned by what he saw. All along in history, religion has persecuted those who were faithful to God. And now, religion was doing some more blood spilling. The whore was killing the Tribulation saints and delighted in it. 


Martyrs or Tribulation saints refer to those who turned to Christ after the Rapture. See more Rapture. 



Revelation 17:7 “And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. “

The angel noticed John’s amazement about this religious system, the woman. So, he explained more about the beast she was sitting on. 

This was one beast with different heads and horns. If you’d like, ten leaders who rule, but they serve one and the same system, a One World Order if you’d like. It is the Beast system, the Antichrist Empire.

Revelation 17:8: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”

This system “that shall ascend out of the bottomless pit” tells us it is not from God but a satanic system. And it “goes into perdition” because John saw it go into destruction.

“They that dwell on the earth” refers to those who were never born again into the spiritual kingdom and whose names are not noted for Heaven. They watched and were amazed by this earthly wicked system.



Revelation 17:9: “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.”

There is debate whether this pertains to the physical city of Rome, known for its seven hills. 

However, considering the symbolism of seven heads and the context of biblical prophecy associating governmental authority or kingdoms with mountains (Daniel 2:35), it’s more likely to represent a governmental authority or kingdom. 



Revelation 17:10: “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come: and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. 11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.”

Five empires ascended and declined. In John’s era, the sixth empire rose to power. While this Sixth Empire seemed to have officially dissolved, it persisted unofficially and morphed into the Seventh Empire.

John saw that the Seventh Empire helped bring about the Eighth Empire. The Eighth Empire’s fate was clear; it would be the last one.

The Eight Empires
The Eight Empires



Revelation 17:12: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.”

The world leaders were in lockstep working to bring about the One World Order, the Beast System. They received the power to succeed with their mission, but their moment of glory was short.



Revelation 17:14: “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful, 15And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”

These world leaders of various nations had one thing in common: They were united against God. They did not want the Messiah to come again to rule and reign over them as King of kings. They wanted to rule.

Eventually, they joined forces, under the leadership of the Antichrist, to war against God at Armageddon. More about this in Revelation 19.



Revelation 17:16: “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.”

Deeply intertwined with politics, this religious system wielded significant global influence and power. But once the Antichrist’s power had been consolidated, it no longer needed the great harlot. She was in the way.

The Antichrist wanted the worship for himself. See Revelation 13. And the woman became the sad story of a prostitute that was used and discarded. Sadly, in history, religion had often been the willing servant of tyrants in exchange for power. In this case, Satan himself used her and destroyed her.



Destruction of the Beast - The Last Empire
Destruction of the Beast - The Last Empire



Revelation 17:17: “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”

The end had come, and God directed His judgment against religious Babylon, the great prostitute. To do so, God used the beast that gave the whore the power to take it from her. The wicked political system was an instrument to judge the whore.


God is not the author of sin. He allowed them their wicked ways, at least for a moment, what they always wanted.

Revelation 17:18: “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”

In John’s day, Rome was the world’s political, economic, and religious centre. It will undoubtedly play a huge role in the end times.


One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Revelation, Scope and Sequence

Revelation, Introduction

Revelation 1

Revelation 2

Revelation 3

Revelation 4

Revelation 5

Revelation 6

Revelation 7

Revelation 8

Revelation 9

Revelation 10

Revelation 11

Revelation 12

Revelation 13

Revelation 14


Missler, Chuck at

Korman, Baruch at

Barnett, John at

Ice, Thomas at

Breaker, Robert at

De Young, Jimmy at


Johnson, Ken. Ancient Church Fathers.

Missler, Chuck. Daniel’s 70 Week’s: Profiles in Prophecy.

Hitchcock, Mark. 101 Answers to Questions About the Book of Revelation.