Reading Revelation Chapter 17
Reading Chapter 17
John sees many things in this chapter, but remember these things are ‘signs’ that point to something else. I suggest reading the last 4 verses (15-18) FIRST, and then read the first 13 verses letting John tell you what the signs MEAN.
The woman is the great city that reigns over the kings of the earth: Rome. The waters are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues: Rome rules over the peoples of the Empire. The ten horns are the various kings that rule by the authority of Rome but they will turn against Rome and the destruction of the city will come from its own civil war and rebellion.
In this chapter then we are shown the judgment upon Rome. Two reasons are given as to the righteousness of her condemnation: immorality (2,4) and the persecution of the saints (6). The woman ‘sits on a scarlet beast.’ This I take as the various emperors who led the great city into such immorality and persecution.
Brother Warnock quotes Caird at this point: “By the same token the seven kings are a symbolic number, representative of the whole series of emperors, and they would remain seven no matter how long the actual list happened to be… The one point John wishes to emphasize is that the imperial line has only a short time to run before the emergence of a new monstrous Nero, an eighth who is one of the seven”*
Persecution by the Emperors rose to a grand scale under Nero. He dies and the Empire was thrown into civil war. The persecution stopped while they fought each other. Yet another such evil Emperor was coming. THIS is what the church in John’s time was facing. The whole Empire (all ten kings and the ‘beast’) was joined together under Domitian in persecuting the church. HOW can the church survive such a unified onslaught? Simple. One verse gives the answer. "They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful” (Rev. 17:14).
This was the crux of the matter for the saints in the first century. They needed to KNOW that any and all war against Jesus and His saints will result in losing. Jesus is and always will be victorious. Those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful. What that means is that those who ARE called, chosen, and faithful will be on the Lord’s side. Those who are NOT faithful? They are lumped with the unbelievers and ungodly. Again, the question for us is “are WE being faithful to the Lord?”