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Revelation 17 Babylon the Harlot

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Babylon the Harlot

Revelation 17 is about the Babylonian Harlot and what the Antichrist does about her. She is the false church during the Great Tribulation.

This is a Bible Study. Have your own Bible handy to look up the references mentioned.

If you do not have a Bible, I invite you to go to or another online Bible.

1. John was approached by one of the angels who had poured out one of the bowls.

“This indicates a close connection between the bowl judgments of chapter 16 and what John is about to see.” (Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. [Nashville: B&H, 1998], 304)

Came and spoke with me

I Do not know about you, but I would be shaking in my boots!!!

An angel speaking to me!

“’The great harlot’ is part of the church that will remain after the true church has been raptured. It will be composed of those who have never trusted Christ as Savior.” (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V: [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 1030)

“The term harlot is a metaphor for false religion, spiritual defection, idolatry, and religious apostasy.” (MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 12-22. [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2000], 161)

McGee says, “the Beast himself will destroy her [the harlot]. You see, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will not want her around after she has served their purpose. Antichrist wants to be worshiped, and he doesn’t want any competition from the church.” (1031)

“The original Babylon lay on the Euphrates river and had devised an elaborate system of irrigation canals.” (Easley, 305)

Jeremiah 51:13

Harlot and Waters

Verse 15 explains the waters

15. She is sitting near the Euphrates River.

Not only in Babylon but the entire world the harlot is controlling the unbelievers in the world.

“The harlot’s authority will be universal; the entire world will be committed to the false worship of the Babylonian system, rather than the true God.” (MacArthur, 161)

“The position of the harlot reveals that she is ruling over them for only a brief time.” (McGee, 1035)

Now back to verse 2

2. “Deceived by the false prophet, Antichrist, and Satan and his demon hosts, they will become enamored with the false world religion.” (MacArthur, 162)

Those who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior will follow this harlot.

They “are passionately intoxicated with Antichrist’s illicit false world religion.” (MacArthur, 162)

Jeremiah 51:7

3. The angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness

McGee tells us that this wilderness is “literal but also that it is a sign of the chaotic condition of the world brought about by the religious confusion of Babylon.” (1031)

“That the woman was sitting on the scarlet beast signifies that he was supporting her.” (MacArthur, 163)

Scarlet is the color associated with luxury (2 Samuel 1:24), splendor and royalty.” (MacArthur, 163)

As the Antichrist is being treated like a god he “will take for himself the names and titles that belong to God.” (MacArthur, 163)

Daniel 7:25; 11:36

This “beast is described in identical terms to the one John saw earlier, having seven heads and ten horns like its master the dragon” [13:1] (Easley, 306)

See discussion in The Woman verse 3

Harlot in Purple and Scarlet

4. “Purple was the predominate color of Roman imperialism. Every senator and consul wore a purple stripe as a badge of his position, and the emperor’s robes were purple. Scarlet is the color adopted by Roman Catholicism.” (McGee, 1032)

She had become wealthy because of what she did.

Proverbs 7:10

Only the wealthy would have a gold cup. (MacArthur, 164)

“‘Precious stones and pearls’ are pretty cold, though they may be genuine, and are a sordid imitation of genuine heartfelt religion.” (McGee, 1032)

Having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations “is the religions intoxication of the anti-church (not Antichrist) and a pseudoreligion, counterfeit Christianity, a fake and false gospel, and a sham and spurious system.” (McGee, 1032)

Jeremiah 51:7

Unclean things of her immorality [NASB1995] [filthiness of her fornication KJV]

Intercourse outside of marriage is unclean and filthy.

5. “As was customary for prostitutes to identify themselves in the Roman world, the harlot Babylon also had a name written on her forehead.” (MacArthur, 165)

Jeremiah 3:3

Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.

“Babylon will be the source of all the false, idolatrous, blasphemous worship in the end times.” (MacArthur, 165)

“Harlotry in Scripture often symbolizes idolatry.” (MacArthur, 165)

6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints

“The Babylonian harlot is pictured as drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” (MacArthur, 165)

“While the world becomes drunk with lust for her, the harlot becomes drunk with the blood of God’s people.” (MacArthur, 165)

When I saw her, I wondered greatly.

I think I would be wondering too!


In this article Scripture quotations taken from KJV.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB1995. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.

Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. Nashville: B&H, 1998
MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 12-22. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2000
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V: Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983

Seventh Bowl of Wrath                                                    Seven Heads Ten Horns

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