The Woman Sitting on a Scarlet Beast

THE WOMAN SITTING ON A SCARLET BEAST (17:3-5) is the Great Prostitute dressed in queenly attire (cf. Ezekiel 16:13). Purple and scarlet are the colors of royalty and flagrant sinfulness. Glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls denote the wealth under her control. The golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries is false religion. The beauty and gross wickedness of this woman compares to Jesus’ description of the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees.

You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean (Matthew 23:27).

She is outwardly attractive but the cup she holds is obnoxious, repellent, repulsive, contemptible, and filled with idolatry and error. Those attracted to her are the simple (undiscerning fools) and the mockers on their way to Hell (cf. Proverbs 9).

THE SCARLET BEAST is the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1-4), who for a time will support and use the false religious system to affect world unity. The Beast is covered with blasphemous names because of his self-deification. The seven heads and ten horns symbolize the extent of his economic-political kingdom.

DRUNK WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS (17:6-7) indicates that Ecclesiastical Babylon will advance the murder of the martyred Tribulation saints. False religion has killed millions of believers over the centuries, and the final false system will be far more deadly than any that preceded it. John is astonished at the sight of this vision; the angel questioned his astonishment as though what he saw should be expected and understood. So the angel explains to him the mystery of the woman and the Beast she rides.

THE MYSTERY (17:8-14). The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. This teaches neither reincarnation nor resurrection of an individual. There is no Scripture to prove that Antichrist will be different from any other natural man in his lifetime as to his birth, death, etc. He will merely be used by satanic powers in the last days. The Beast (the Antichrist) will come out of the Abyss (demonic empowered) and goes to his destruction (the Lake of Fire).

Keep in mind that the Beast symbolizes two things:

1. The Antichrist, who is a man possessed by demonic power (17:8)
2. An eighth kingdom, of which he is the king (17:11)

Some passages apply to Beast in both ways, while others apply to the man, or his kingdom alone. Some interpret the Beast as Satan and place him in the Abyss, where he will be absolutely out of the picture for one thousand years (“now is not, and yet will come”). A major problem with this interpretation comes when Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire, for the Beast and the False Prophet are already there (Revelation 19:20; 20:10). There are three beings, not one or two in the Lake of Fire!

In Revelation 12:3, Satan is seen not as the head of the ten-nation kingdom of the Revived Roman Empire, but as a persecutor of the child Christ and the woman Israel. His seven heads, with their seven crowns, showed that he had been the controlling factor in the agenda of the five fallen kings (Egypt, Assyria, Medo-Persia, Babylon, and Greece). Satan was the main broker in the “one who is” (the Roman Empire of John’s day) and would exercise the same power in the agenda of the one who “now is not, and yet will come” (the Revived Roman Empire of the end times).

THIS CALLS FOR WISDOM (17:9): ai epta kefalai orh. Modern translations tend to translate orh as “hills” instead of “mountains.” Since Rome is known as “the city of seven hills,” Ecclesiastical Babylon is often linked to Rome. However, the Aramaic word rwj (tuwr) for mountain is symbolically used in Daniel 2:35 for Christ’s kingdom that fills the whole earth. Here the seven mountains are empires or kingdoms, not the city of Rome. See Explanation of The Ten Heads, the Ten Horns and Seven Crowns at 12:3-4. From the Book of Daniel, it seems clear that other descriptions apply to the Revived Roman Empire of the last days.

THE ONE PURPOSE of this confederacy of kings is to give power and authority to the Antichrist, who will lead them in war against the Lamb. However, the Lamb will overcome them because He is the Lord of lords and King of kings. Those who come with Christ are His called, chosen and faithful—the threefold description of all overcomers:

1. They are called by the Father through the Spirit to Christ.
2. They are chosen because they confess with their mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead.
3. They remain faithful until called to heaven.

THE BOOK OF LIFE. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written (unbelievers) in the book of life (the roll of the saved) from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. They will believe his lies and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10). When one refuses to believe the truth, just about any convincing or startling lie will do!

THE TURNCOATS (17:15-16). Ecclesiastical Babylon will be deserted and destroyed by Political-Commercial Babylon of the Beast; for they will hate the Prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. After using the false religious system to unify his kingdom and gain control, the Antichrist will turn against the religious system, plunder and destroy it, and seize all power and worship for himself.

Satan always destroys what he uses. For instance, Judas Iscariot hung himself after Satan used him to betray Christ. Alexander the Great died in a drunken stupor in Babylon, Antiochus IV Epiphanes died there in a state of depression and Adolph Hitler committed suicide after killing six million Jews.

The angel assures John that God is still in control. God will influence their hearts to accomplish His purpose, and thereby fulfill His prophetic Word. In its own peculiar way, evil only cooperates to accomplish God’s good and perfect will.

Historicists approach the fall of Babylon as the overthrow of the papal system of religion and government in the yet future. This will be accomplished by the rider on the white horse as He continually conquers His enemies through His Word. “Drunk with the blood of saints” refers to bloody persecutions perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church. Others think the Roman Empire was the Beast. The seven heads or hills are Christian emperors from Constantine to Augustulus and the eighth is Diocletian, who received a death wound from the Christian emperor Theodosius. Others identify the eighth as the papacy, beginning with Gregory.

Preterists identify Babylon with either the fall of Rome or Jerusalem in the past. Some hold that the Beast is Rome; while others believe the Great Prostitute is Rome or Jerusalem. Various schemes are used to apply the heads and hills to Roman emperors or seven procurators of Judea under Claudius and Nero.

Idealists believe Babylon represents the world system, as the seducer of the godly throughout the ages, and it is manifested as Rome in John’s time. Others take Babylon to represent the world viewed as the embodiment of “the lust of the flesh.” Idealists are divided as to whether ultimate judgment on the world system will occur at Christ’s Second Coming or if it will come about by more gradual conquests with the preaching of the Gospel. Some identify the ten horns as future coalition of ten European kingdoms that will grow out of the fourth beast of Daniel 7:23. Many take the number ten as symbolic, representing all the anti-Christian powers on earth after the breakup of the Roman Empire.

Futurists say Babylon represents the Roman Catholic Church or some great apostate religious entity formed under the Antichrist in the end times. Some hold the seven hills are seven kings, not literal mountains, but empires, which have risen in succession in history. Others identify the seven hills as Rome.

Dispensationalists equate the ten horns to the ten toes of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2).

The Lie

THE LIE goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when the serpent (Satan) lied to Eve.

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).

Eve, and then Adam, ate the forbidden fruit and instantly knew good and evil; their consciences exploded with the shame of depravity and unrighteous. Instantly they died spiritually, and death came to their physical bodies many years later. They had become very unlike God—no longer in His likeness!

When the children of Israel came out of Egypt and entered the Promised Land, Satan’s religion was waiting for them. It flourished under the names of Baal and Ashtoreth (Judges 2:11-13). This form of idolatry continued throughout the history of the nation, climaxing in the days of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31-33).

The women of Judah worshiped the Queen of Heaven and this particular idolatry is a primary reason for the seventy-year captivity (Jeremiah 7:16-19; 44:15-30; Ezekiel 8:14-18). Ironically, God removed His people to the very source of their idolatry, Babylon.

This mystery religion is Satan’s counterfeit for the real thing. It deceived people for thousands of years and it will again. Semiramis is the prototype of the “Woman” of Revelation 17:5.

It is of the system of iniquity of Mystery Babylon that Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:7:

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.

Possibly, the Holy Spirit in the Church is the one who presently holds back this religion (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Once the Church is raptured, Mystery Babylon will take root as it has never taken root before under the False Prophet of the end times. He will point to the Beast, the Antichrist, as its king and god.

The rise of Satan’s counterfeit king will be spectacular and convincing according to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12:

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Satan will have notorious success since he tries to counterfeit everything God is and does.



Once the Antichrist has gained control of the world and established himself as Messiah of the Jews, Satan will be but one-step away from his goal. With his one world government and one world religion blended together, the stage will be set for his final move. His goal will be so close he can taste it—getting the world to worship him as God.

In the long history of mankind, however, there will be only one truly universal world empire, called “the kingdom of the world.” Revelation 11:15 predicts:

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

The last of the world kingdoms will be achieved by superhuman means at the hand of Satan’s own ruler, the Antichrist, whose brief span of world dominion will be definitely limited by God to exactly 1,260 days. This final empire will not be achieved without Divine sanction; for the Antichrist’s universal authority will be given from above according to Revelation 13:7:

He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

Satan’s super-church will be short-lived. There are three things, which a super-church will do for Satan— unify Europe, bring him to power, and declare him “God.” Once that has been done, the church will be of no further use to him.

IN THE SPIRIT (17:3) for the third time, John is carried into a desert, a desolate wasteland, which is appropriate for this vision. False religion is a desert! It offers nothing to quench spiritual thirst.

The Ecclesiastical Babylon

THE GREAT PROSTITUTE (17:1). One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls reveals to John the punishment of the Great Prostitute, who sits on many waters. She is identified as “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth” (verse 18) and the waters, where she sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages (verse 15). Cities are called prostitutes in the Scriptures, for instance Nineveh (Nahum 3:4), Tyre (Isaiah 23:16-17), Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:15, 23) and Babylon (Jeremiah 51). Here the term “prostitute” signifies spiritual idolatry and adultery, not physical fornication or adultery. Earth’s kings and inhabitants committed spiritual fornication with the Great Prostitute, connoting the great system of religious error as seen by the title on her forehead in verse 5:


THE WINE OF HER ADULTERIES (17:2). History is marked with man’s failure to be the mediator of God’s Kingdom on earth. Following the flood, God makes the Noahic Covenant, authorizing the institution of human government. The tower of Babel on a plain of Shinar (that is Babylonia) was man’s first attempt to establish a central one-world government without God as its King. Having lost in the Fall that inward and spiritual unity of race which was centered in God, so men resorted to the establishment of an external unity. God confused the language of man and the plan failed. Behind the scenes of this plan is Satan.

From the plain of Babylon, rises the central-one-world kingdom that opposes God’s kingdom. This kingdom is the mystery of iniquity. From time to time in history, this kingdom raises its head, attempting to rule the world but fails. According to the Book of Revelation, it will appear a final time at the end of this age headed by the Antichrist. Revelation 14:8 announces its end:

A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”

“The maddening wine of her adulteries” is a reference to counterfeit mysteries of Babylonian religion. The Chaldean Mysteries can be traced up to the days of Semiramis (also spelled Semerimus), the wife of Nimrod, who lived only a few centuries after the flood in the time of Shem. She is known to have impressed upon the people the image of her own depraved and polluted mind. That beautiful queen of Babylon was not only herself a paragon of unbridled lust and licentiousness but in the Mysteries which she had a chief hand in forming, she was worshiped as Rhea, the great “MOTHER” of the gods—“the Queen of Heaven.”

Semiramis claimed she was conceived by the great spirit above and bore a son, Tammuz (also called Bacchus, that is, “The Lamented One”), who was slain by a boar and rose from the dead after 40 days of weeping and sorrow. Worship of the Queen of Heaven and her child penetrated the nations of the Ancient Near East and Europe under a variety of names:


In 312 A.D., Constantine the Great had a vision of a flaming cross in the sky, with the words “in this sign conquer.” This vision and political expediency of unifying the empire led him to make Christianity the official religion of Rome. Church and State merged. At this point, Satan began to sow false doctrine into the Church. It was not difficult for the Roman priests of the cult of Mother-Child to adapt their system to the Madonna-Child system. With a slight adjustment, they could continue without interruption. All they had to do was add the holy water sacraments and other trappings of the satanic religion to the simple Gospel, and the priests had it made. The Church became worldly, paganized and lifeless.

For three hundred years, Satan had brought the full power of Rome against Jesus’ Church that began at Pentecost. The persecutions were fierce and awful. Yet, for every believer who died at the hand of Satan’s men, more believers arose to take his place. It was obviously the wrong tactic. The use of force was like kicking a bonfire to extinguish it. Persecution actually caused the Christian movement to spread. In time, Satan realized that approach was futile. Persecution separated the tares from the wheat. Therefore, he began to sow tares among the wheat in fulfillment of prophecy (The Parables of Matthew 13 and the Churches of Revelation 2-3 depict the course of history from Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ on page 14).

In 800 A.D., Charlemagne was the first to be crowned as the “Holy Roman Emperor.” The Holy Roman Empire was founded in 962 A.D., when Otto I was crowned by Pope John XII. The Dark Ages under Roman Catholicism was broken by the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther in 1517 A.D. Suddenly, Satan suffered a set back. Large numbers of believers were free to read the Bible and worship God as they pleased. Yet, few bothered to do so. Millions remained with the Roman Catholic Church. The result was a large mass of idle believers, with a few professional clergymen trying to do all the work of the Lord. Instead of a single church, numerous denominations emerged bulging with wheat and tares mingled together.

In A.D. 1948, Israel was declared a nation and within Protestantism, the first assembly of the World Council of Churches met in Amsterdam, Holland. What was the assembly’s purpose? They wanted to bring together two separate streams with an ecumenical movement—Catholics and Protestants.

Catholicism and Protestantism have existed side by side for around 490 years. Will the unsaved of Catholicism and Protestantism combine to form the end time religion when the true Church is raptured? Will a mystical religion of the New Age movement arise to world prominence? At the end of the age, masses will “sign up” and flock to the ecumenical church of the False Prophet and the Beast.

Certainly, there will be a Pope like figure, who is the False Prophet (Roman Catholic or otherwise), of the last days and he will crown the Antichrist as the Holy Roman Emperor of the Revived Roman Empire, which will be glued together by religion and economics. The events of the past are a foreshadowing of the future. History is doomed to repeat itself!

Ecclesiastical Babylon is more than Roman Catholicism. It is an amalgamation of all religions. It is the residue of what is left after the true Church is raptured—a composite religion of error and idolatry brought together under the False Prophet. The key to Babylonian worship is the exaltation of the individual “to become like god” by means of initiation, secret rituals and Gnostic knowledge of God—like a new age cult.

Paul tells why the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godless and wickedness in Romans 1:8-32. Verse 25 literally reads:

They exchanged the truth of God for THE LIE, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen (Romans 1:25; capital letters added).

Explanation of the Ten Heads, Ten Horns and Seven Crowns

(Linking of Daniel 7:8, 23-25 and Revelation 17:8-11)

While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was ANOTHER HORN, A LITTLE ONE, which came up among them; and THREE OF THE FIRST HORNS WERE UPROOTED before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully (Daniel 7:8, uppercase for emphasis).

The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. THE TEN HORNS ARE TEN KINGS who will come from this kingdom. After them ANOTHER KING will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will SUBDUE THREE KINGS. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time (Daniel 7:23-25, uppercase for emphasis).

The beast, which you saw, ONCE WAS, NOW IS NOT, and WILL COME UP out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because HE ONCE WAS, NOW IS NOT, AND YET WILL COME. This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. FIVE HAVE FALLEN, ONE IS, THE OTHER HAS NOT YET COME; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to destruction (Revelation 17:8-11; capital letters added for emphasis).

Daniel’s Beasts – Revelation Heads – Kingdoms  Signified

1 Egypt
2 Assyria
1 3 Babylon — Uprooted
2 4 Medo-Persia — Uprooted
3 5 Greece — Uprooted — Little Horn of Daniel 8 (Antiochus IV Epiphanes)

4 6 Ancient Rome

4 7 Revived Rome (10 Kingdom Confederacy) Ten Horns initially but three horns subdued by the Little Horn (The Antichrist)

4 8 Kingdom belongs to the seven—the Little Horn (the Antichrist)

The seven heads are not crowned (Revelation 13:1), meaning that the Antichrist has not ruled the seven kingdoms preceding his, the eighth kingdom (Revelation 17:8-11). On Daniel’s Fourth Beast, each horn represents a future king and kingdom. All ten horns are present at once; therefore, they are a ten-kingdom confederacy. There is no period in history that comes close to fitting Daniel’s vision of the ten horns; it remains future to this day. The European Union could be the formation of the Revived Roman Empire.

The European Union is united under THE TREATY OF ROME, signed on March 25, 1957 by “The Six”— France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg. Since 1973, the number has been steadily increasing to the current number of twenty-five member states. The Treaty of Rome, as amended by subsequent treaties, deals with goods, capital, persons, services and significantly its associations with overseas nations and territories. As of 1999, passports were no longer required for travel between the twelve countries. The Eurodollar began replacing European currencies and is now one of the strongest currencies in the world. Recently, this union embarked on marshalling its own military force. The European Union is now a major player in world events.

Southern Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa were part of the Ancient Roman Empire, but not the European Union. It seems unlikely that the ten kings of the Revived Roman Empire will be limited to Western Europe. Probably, the foundation for the ten kings has been laid in the European Union of today. Nevertheless, the configuration of this ten-kingdom confederation would be totally speculation at this time.