Revelation: Chapter 17

[Describe the destruction of the apostate church]

In this chapter we are introduced to one described as the “great harlot.” We are also confronted with a weird seven-headed, ten-horned beast. To get the meaning of the chapter, we must identify these two.

The Great Harlot - The “great harlot” is the apostate church – a wicked religious system. In Rev. 17:1, we see that this woman sits upon many waters. Rev. 17:15 clarifies that these “waters” refer to peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. John’s description of this woman makes her bath both fascinating and repugnant. The most disgusting and horrible thing about her is that she is drunk, not with alcohol, but with the blood of believers (Rev. 17:6).

The Beast - John describes the weird beast with seven heads and ten horns carrying this woman. What a diabolical combination! This beast is symbolic of the Roman Empire or the Common Market nations. Bringing this picture into focus, we see the conditions that will prevail during the first 3½ years of the Tribulation.

The Destruction of the Apostate Church - The Antichrist of Rome finds it expedient to go along with the apostate church. The fact that the woman rides the beast indicates that, for a time, the religious system influences the political system. In the middle of the Tribulation, the Roman Antichrist and the Jewish False Prophet find that they have no more use for the apostate church, so they destroy her.