Babylon Unveiled

The interpreting angel exposes Babylon’s true nature – She is a seductive whore stained with the blood of martyrs. Chapter 17 of Revelation presents the reader with an impressive female figure, “Babylon, the Great City.” Her outward appearance is so appealing that even John is mesmerized by her, at least, for the moment (“I was astonished when I beheld her, with great astonishment!”). Yet the interpreting angel identifies her as a “whore” and links her to the violent deaths of the “witnesses” of Jesus.

Washington DC - Photo by Yeon Choi on Unsplash
[Photo by Yeon Choi on Unsplash]

The true nature of Babylon is only revealed by the intervention of the interpreting angel. She is a seductress and one of the main persecutors of the saints. If she was not exposed by God’s messenger, she would remain an attractive figure to saints and sinners alike.
 Moreover, the angel must rebuke John to shake him out of his stupor - (“The angel said to me: Why did you wonder after the woman?” - Revelation 17:1-7).

She “sits upon many waters,” and the “waters” represent “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues,” namely, the mass of fallen humanity, the “Inhabitants of the Earth.” They see her as the beautiful and great imperial city that reigns over the Earth. Without divine revelation, no one can see her for the bloodthirsty “harlot” that she truly is.

Moreover the “Inhabitants of the Earth” are drunk with the “wine of her fornication” and besotted by her majesty and splendor. Not coincidentally, her description in Chapter 17 echoes that of “Jezebel” in Thyatira, the deceiver who “calls herself a prophetess, and seduces my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.”

The “Great Whore” not only seduces all humanity, but she also is busily at work in the assemblies of God to hoodwink the followers of Jesus. She has caused some of them to commit idolatry by compromising with the ideologies, demands and expectations of the surrounding pagan society and the imperial cult of Rome - (Revelation 2:20, 14:6-8).

The world is not repelled by this woman but attracted, and apparently, the same is true of many Christians. Her outward beauty appeals to saints and sinners, to society, the State, and even the Church. Her true and repulsive nature remains hidden, veiled to one and all unless the “Lamb” exposes her.

In truth, she does not reign from a golden throne, but instead, she “sits on a scarlet-colored Beast full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” This connects her to the “Beast from the Sea” who has “ten horns and seven heads, and upon his heads names of blasphemy,” and to the “Great Red Dragon” who also has “seven heads and ten horns.” She is Satan’s creature - allied with the “Beast” and vassal of the “Dragon” - (Revelation 12:3, 13:1).


The interpreting angel is setting the stage for a contrast between Babylon, the “Great Whore,” and the “Bride of Christ” described in the following chapters. Unlike the bejeweled Babylonian “harlot,” the “wife of the Lamb” is adorned with the glory of God, and “her light is like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal.”

The “Bride of the Lamb” is also identified as the “Holy CityNew Jerusalem,” which is made of pure gold, and its walls are adorned with “precious stones.” In her, no “unclean or abominable thing” may enter, unlike “Babylon” which is “full of abominations and the unclean things of her fornication.”

The woman is “Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the Earth,” and this name is written on her forehead. In contrast, the “witnesses of Jesus” have the “name of his Father written on their foreheads.” They are called the “servants of God.”

Babylon,” however, is the servant of the “Dragon,” and on some level, she also is a counterfeit of the true church, just as the faux “prophetess Jezebel” is seducing many members of the congregation in Thyatira.

She holds “a cup of gold full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication.” In Revelation, fornication” is used metaphorically for the sins of idolatry and compromise. Her cut filled with “abominations” connects her to the efforts of the “Dragon” to deceive humanity and the Church - (Revelation 2:21, 9:21).


She is also called the “Great City,” the same entity responsible for the “blood of martyrs” (martur). Likewise, in the vision of the “Two Witnesses” (martur), the “Great City” causes the deaths of the “Witnesses,” and it is the same city where Jesus was killed, the one “spiritually called Sodom and Egypt” - (“Where their Lord was crucified”).

She is stained with the “blood of the saints,” for she is linked inextricably to the violent deaths of the “martyrs of Jesus.” That she is “drunk” with their blood indicates the great pleasure she takes in their deaths, beginning with the death of the first “Faithful Witness,” namely, Jesus - (Revelation 13:7-10, 14:12, 16:6).

Yet John finds himself “astonished with great astonishment” by her appearance. Her outward beauty and grandeur are so impressive that even he is overwhelmed by her beauty. Outwardly, she is not repulsive at all, just the opposite. There are reasons why she is so successful at deceiving humanity in general, and some, at least, of the “saints.”

Who is this seductress? Chapter 17 links her to the “Beast from the Sea” and the “Great Red Dragon.” She “rides” the former, and she is the agent of the latter. Babylon uses the military and political power of the “Beast” to impose her agenda on humanity. But as Chapter 18 makes clear, the key to her power and influence is world trade, the commerce from which the “great men of the earth” enrich themselves.

Like the “False Prophet” who imposes economic sanctions on anyone who refuses the overlordship of the “Beast,” the ability to manipulate trade, national economies, and personal fortunes is the key to her power over peoples and nations. The combination of political might and economic control proves deadly to anyone who refuses to give allegiance to the “Beast” and its empire.




The Living Word

The Suffering Servant