Revelation 17:17

For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose
God’s sovereign control of the affairs of history is a constant theme behind the events of the book of Revelation. Everything that transpires occurs by His sovereign permission. From the riding forth of the first horsemen who was given a crown, to rising of the Beast from the sea who is given authority to continue forty-two months (Rev. Rev. 13:5+) and who was previously restrained (2Th. 2Th. 2:6-8), God is ultimately in full control. God turns the hearts of kings according to His purposes—whether they know Him or not (Deu. Deu. 2:30; Ezra Ezra 7:27; Ps. Ps. 105:25; Pr. Pr. 21:1; Isa. Isa. 10:5-7; Isa. 14:27; Isa. 66:4; Acts Acts 4:28). God determined that Pharaoh would not heed Moses so that Egypt might be judged (Ex. Ex. 7:4). He named and brought forth Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem, although Cyrus did not know Him (Isa. Isa. 44:26-Isa. 45:4; Isa. 46:11). It was God who gave Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom and power, although for much of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar did not know God (Dan. Dan. 2:37).

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. (Isa. Isa. 46:9-11)

The tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility runs throughout Scripture and is impossible to escape. Emphasizing either one at the expense of the other results in a distortion of Scripture. Although it was God’s “determined purpose and foreknowledge” to deliver Jesus to the cross, those who crucified Him are fully responsible for their “lawless hands” (Acts Acts 2:23-24 cf. Rom. Rom. 9:19-22; Jas. Jas. 1:13-17). Luke 22:21-22) See commentary on Revelation 6:2. See commentary on Revelation 16:14.

until the words of God are fulfilled
Fulfilled is τελεσθήσονται [telesthēsontai] , they shall be completed. The word includes more than just the idea of fulfillment, but also bringing to an end, finishing, completing.1

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isa. Isa. 55:10-11)

His word is already settled in heaven (Ps. Ps. 119:89), but has yet to work out on the earth below. Scripture cannot be broken (John John 10:35) because God stands ever ready to perform His word (Jer. Jer. 1:12). The words of God in relation to the Beast, the ten horns, and the Harlot, will be fulfilled when the “mystery of God would be finished” in the judgments associated with the sounding of the seventh trumpet (Rev. Rev. 10:7+). When the seven bowls of God’s wrath are completed, “It is done!” (Rev. Rev. 16:17+). The next several chapters provide additional detail concerning the fulfillment of God’s words which eventually result in the return of the King and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. Rev. 20:4+).


1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 810.