Revelation has many characters and each character is very distinct. As long as we do not get the characters confused, it is very easy to understand. Each character has its own uniqueness: The beast from the sea, the beast that had horns like a lamb , the great prostitute, the red dragon, the false prophet, the great Babylon, etc. Some believe all those characters to be the Antichrist or Israel’s greatest enemy at that time, which was Rome; so as they study these passages, they get more confused.
Previously in chapter 12, a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She represented the Old Testament church. Christ and the New Testament church came out from her. There is a very strong contrast between the great prostitute from this chapter and the woman from chapter 12 who represents the Old Testament church. The prostitute is also a woman; therefore, it also represents a church. But what kind of church is she?
First we have to make clear that the great prostitute does not represent a certain person. A distinguished feature in the book of Revelation is that none of the characters in this book represent a certain person. It does not say that the beast from the sea or the beast from the earth represents a certain person and nowhere in this book does it say that the two witnesses are two people. Therefore, the great prostitute is not a person but an organization.
If this prostitute was an enemy of God, she wouldn’t be called a prostitute. The meaning of prostitute is that she originally belonged to the Lord, but followed other lords, followed the movements of other religions. Therefore, the “prostitute” represents an organization that by name belongs to Christ’s church but her conduct and her actions dishonor the Lord’s name. That is why she is definitely not the Antichrist, or a member of the 10-nation alliance of the empire enemy of God.
HAS A HUGE ARRAY OF RESOURCES
1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.
15 And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.
People from many nations of the world will obey her. Her members are scattered all over the world, talented scholars, artists, experts in different fields, politicians. She will have many resources around the globe.
HAS MANY PARTNERS
2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.
The rulers of the world cooperated with her to establish a place for idol worship. The rest of the world was also engrossed in their heresy. The problem was that all those people were the ones who “dwelled on the earth”.
“Dwelling on the earth” and “living in heaven” are opposites. Those who dwell on the earth are those who do not know God; their names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb. Those who belong to God are called “those who live in heaven” (13:6). Though they live on the earth, this world is not their home, they do not deem having material things of the world to be their glory. They do not follow the practices of this world.
OPERATES AT A LARGE SCALE
3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness.
18 The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.
In Revelation the wilderness symbolizes the world. We are living temporarily in this wilderness, waiting to enter the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, our eternal home.
All her operations are performed in this world; the whole earth is part of her territory. But this can only be seen with the help of the Holy Spirit. On the surface it might appear that she is working for the kingdom of heaven, but in reality, she is conducting worldly matters, she is controlling the rulers of the whole earth.
HAS INFLUENCE AND THE SUPPORT OF MANY
3 I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.
9 Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits,
10 又是七位王( 七個王朝) ，五個已經傾倒了，一個還在，一個還沒有來到。
10 and they are seven kings (seven empires); five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.
The beast with seven heads and ten horns which the woman sits on is the beast that came out of the sea that we have already seen in chapter 13. The seven heads represent the seven empires that have ruled over the world throughout history. Verse 10 says that “five have fallen”, which are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece, “one is”, which was the Roman empire during the times of John.
The beast that the woman is sitting on is Rome, it is the sixth head when it was holding power. The Roman Empire was the only one that at first oppressed God’s people fiercely and later only supported the church energetically. The church that it supported was the Roman Catholic Church, which we call Catholic Church.
There is a special sentence here which says: “Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.” The Vatican is also called “the city of seven hills”. This is not a coincidence; God knew beforehand where they would set up their headquarters.
The beast was full of blasphemous names. People blasphemed God during every era but only during this very short period of time did they give full support to the church, they put the church in a pedestal.
HAS A LUXURIOUS AND LICENTIOUS LIFE
4 The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality.
The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet. Purple clothing was worn by royalty. Scarlet clothing was worn by rich people. She was adorned with gold, precious stones and pearls, very expensive stuff. She lived in luxury.
This adulterous woman followed the ways of the world; she also wanted to show the world that she was a noble woman because she was clothed “in purple and scarlet, gold, precious stones and pearls”. Like people who want to show off their status by driving a luxurious car and wearing brand name clothing.
But whether or not a person is noble does not depend on their outward appearance. She had “in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality,” that was her true identity. In God’s eyes what counts is a noble life. She was holding a gold cup, which from the outside looked striking but the inside of her cup was filled with abominations and unclean things of her immorality. She lived a life of promiscuity and idol worshiping until the end, yet she never repented of her sin.
A “cup” represents an experience. Jesus once asked his disciples: “Are you able to drink the cup that I am drinking?” In other words, “Can you go through or experience what I am going through?” To drink the Lord’s cup is to experience His suffering. The Lord’s cup is full of suffering experiences. The Lord said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” If we share in the Lord’s suffering, we share in His glory.
In the Bible, whenever Israel worships idols, she is called a prostitute. Committing adultery and worshiping idols are interconnected. That is why, after the Israelites were taken into captivity, they dare not worship idols ever again for their suffering was a warning to them . As a result, they have not had any idols in the past two thousand years. The Israelites have learned their lesson; they know that the one thing that God detests the most is idol worshiping. The Ten Commandments clearly say, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” And that includes images of Jesus and Mary.
TEACHINGS THAT POLLUTE THE WORLD
5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery: Babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth.
The prostitutes during the times of the Roman Empire had to tie a piece of cloth on their foreheads with their names written on it so people would know their status at first sight by the way they were dressed.
On one hand, her status was clear to everyone because her name was written in detail on her forehead. But, on the other hand, it was not easily distinguished due to the fact that it was a mystery. This mystery had appeared early during the times of the prophet Jeremiah, but at that time it was unclear about who it was referring to. During the times of John they still did not know who it was. It was still a mystery.
The great prostitute had another name; she was also called “Babylon the great”. We know that the Babylonian empire had long been gone and it will never reappear and all the Chaldeans are extinct.
Ancient Babylon was a nation, but the Babylon mentioned here is a city; therefore, it is also a mystery. From this point we can see that here it is not talking about ancient Babylon; it definitely points to something else. Thus, “Babylon the great” is actually the “great prostitute”. She is the source of the contamination of this world, leading the people to be engrossed in idol worship.
REGARDING THE PROPHESY OF BABYLON THE GREAT
Jeremiah 51:7: “Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk.” This great prostitute made the people commit adultery, made them loose their reasoning, made them deranged. Her mistake was to lead people to perdition. In the next chapter, chapter 18, there is a voice commanding all the people of God to leave the great city of Babylon. It also says: “The great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” All these words about the fall of Babylon come from the prophecies of Jeremiah.
The visions recorded in Revelation regarding Babylon were originally seen or heard by many prophets from ancient times. Jeremiah, Zechariah and Daniel had already seen these visions. After the prophet Jeremiah was taken captive to Babylon, he already prophesied that Babylon was going to be judged .
Actually, the message that he got was regarding the Babylon of the last days; it was not about the Babylonian empire at that time. He proclaimed the fall of the great prostitute during the end of the world. At that time, it wouldn’t have been unusual for Babylon to fade like every other country. But for the great prostitute of the end of times to fall, that was indeed a great mystery.
THE EVIL THINGS SHE HAS DONE
6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
The prostitute is not an outsider but an evil one from inside the family. She is a betrayer that loves worldly power; it is the counterfeit church that is looking to establish a heavenly kingdom using worldly ways.
從｢她喝醉了聖徒的血，和為耶穌作見證之人的血｣，我們知道她就是中古時代殺了不少異議人士的羅馬大公教( 天主教) 。
From the words “the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus,” we know that she is the Roman Catholic Church from the middle ages that killed many dissidents (the Catholic Church).
There is more than one place where we can see that Babylon the great or the great prostitute is the Roman Catholic Church.
(1) She originally had the support of the beast with seven heads and ten horns. From verse 3 we can see she sat on a scarlet beast; which means that she had the support of the Roman Empire at some point. She had great authority given by the empire to kill those who disagreed with her.
(2) Later on, she was hated and brought to ruin by the beast. Verse 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.” In the beginning she had the support of the Roman Empire, but later on there was a change of power. The empire during the end times is not going to be the Roman Empire but a political power made of the alliance of ten nations. This alliance of ten nations will go against her, they will be her enemy. The circumstances of first being friends and later on becoming enemies happened only to the church that originally had the support of the Roman Empire.
(3) She “sits on seven hills”. The location of the Vatican is called the “City of Seven Hills”. It is located in Italy and it calls itself an independent state, there is only one such big city.
(4) Although she is a city, she has used royal authority to intervene in the affairs of many countries early in history. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire, she still manages the affairs of the churches throughout the world. Verse 18: “The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” She was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls, which means that she had the authority of a king, enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle and had the status of a queen. In chapter 18, verse 7 she boasted in her heart saying: “I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn.”
(5) She also possessed worldwide resources, she sat on many waters. Verse 15: Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.” Though her territory was small, she enjoyed the provision from the whole world. Talented scientists and artistic people from many nations haplessly gave their lives to provide for her in abundance.
(6) 第二節：｢地上的君王與她行淫，住在地上的人，喝醉了她淫亂的酒。｣這不可能是對羅馬帝國的描寫。因為她不單自己是淫婦，也是所有拜偶像風氣的源頭，影響全世界的國家，能使世界各地的人拜偶像的，就只有這一個統管全世界教會的大組織。(6) Verse 2: “With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” That could not have been a description of the Roman Empire. Because not only is she a prostitute, but she is also the source of all kinds of idol worship, influencing all the nations of the world. The only unified administration that can make the people of the whole world to worship idols is this huge church organization.