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Revelation 17

SUMMARY.--The Woman Clothed in Purple and Scarlet. Her Name, Mystery, Babylon the Great. The Beast on Which She Sat. The Meaning of the Seven Heads and Ten Horns. The Victory of the Lamb.

      7-11. I will tell thee the mystery of the woman. This is told in the latter portion of this chapter and in the next . And of the beast that carrieth her. For a full discussion of this seven-headed beast, see notes on chap. 13:1-10. 8. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not. See notes just referred to. The beast that existed then, when John wrote, was to receive a deadly wound, and to appear again in a new form. They whose name hath not been written. Are not of God's spiritual children. From the foundation of the world. The meaning of this expression is to be sought in 13:8 . Their names were written in the book of life which had existed from the time referred to in 13:8 , when the plan of redemption was prepared in the counsels of God. 9. Here is the mind which hath wisdom. The mind that hath wisdom can interpret what follows. The seven heads are seven mountains. Since just one city in the world was called the city of seven mountains (septem montes) in John's time there must be a reference to that city. 10. And there are seven kings. We have found that a mountain is a symbol of an exalted man, or power. In 13:1-8 I have explained the kingdoms or powers, symbolized by these heads. 11. The beast that was, and is not, is the eighth. I have explained in chapter 13 this eighth power, which was a revivification of the beast, and which had the characteristics and strength of all the seven.

      12-15. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings. In 12:3 there are seven diadems on the heads, but none on the horns; in 13:1 there are no diadems on the heads, but there are on the horns. The diadem signifies royal power. The first reference points to a period when the powers existed of which the heads were a symbol; the second reference points forward to a time when these had mostly passed away, and when the ten royal powers signified by the horns had existed. The horn is a symbol of power, and often is used for a kingdom in prophetic language. See Dan. 7:24 . This, then, implies ten powers which sprang out of Rome and supported the false church. These are given by Sir Isaac Newton as follows: 1. Kingdom of the Vandals in Spain and Africa. 2. Kingdom of the Visigoths. 3. Kingdom of the Suevi in Spain. 4. Kingdom of the Alans in France. 5. Kingdoms of the Burgundians. 6. Kingdom of the Franks. 7. Kingdom of the Britons. 8. Kingdom of the Huns. 9. Kingdom of the Lombards. 10. Kingdom of Ravenna. The Roman empire was broken up into these kingdoms, and they were all supporters of the Papacy. These ten kings or kingdoms did not exist in the time of John, but should afterwards receive authority and do the will of the beast. For one hour. For a short time. A part of these kingdoms soon passed away. 14. These shall war against the Lamb. They aid the false church in its war on the saints. The Lamb shall overcome them. They shall finally turn away from the false church. 15. The waters which thou sawest. These are symbolical of the many nations and races which support the scarlet woman.

      16-18. The ten horns . . . shall hate the harlot. At a later period still, the ten horns shall hate and desolate the harlot. We have seen this fulfilled in the fact that the kingdoms that have been developed from these have in the last three centuries either become Protestant, or have broken with Roman rule. The historical facts given under the seven vials show how they have waged war on Rome. 17. For God did put in their hearts to do his mind. He used these as agents to carry out his own will. First they gave their support to the false woman, until his words were accomplished, and then turned from her and assailed her. 18. The woman . . . is the great city. The city named in 16:19 . See notes there.

      NOTE.--In chap. 16:19 it is declared that when the seventh vial is poured out the great city Babylon shall be divided into three parts It is there suggested in the notes that this may refer to the separation of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet from each other. In the present chapter ( 17:16 ) it is stated that the ten horns, which become the strength of the beast, shall be turned upon the woman who is Mystery, Babylon, the Great. This implies a separation between the beast and the woman, between the secular power that had supported the Papacy and the Papacy itself. This seems to have been already fulfilled. The temporal dominion of the popes, "the states of the church," has been taken from them, the powers of Europe have ceased to obey the popes, even the Catholic powers, such as France and Italy, have shut up monasteries and appropriated the overgrown possessions of the church to the uses of the state. The passages referred to imply that the Papacy will continue to exist after it has ceased to receive the support of the secular power, since the woman still lives after the support of the beast is withdrawn.

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