Revelation 17:11
The beast that was, and now is not, is an eighth king, who belongs to the other seven and is going into destruction.
A Picture of Moral ErrorD. Thomas Revelation 17:7-13
A Picture of Moral ErrorD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 17:7-14
The Army of the LambA. Roberts, M. A.Revelation 17:7-14
The Great Moral CampaignD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 17:7-14
The Overcoming LambC. H. Wetherbe.Revelation 17:7-14
The Royal ChristC. Conway, B. A.Revelation 17:7-14
War and ConquestW. S. Edwards.Revelation 17:7-14

And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns, etc. Whilst to the eye of the Infinite the greatest cities of the world, the mightiest empires, the most stupendous productions of human art are as nothing, and less than nothing, "vanity," those great moral principles which are the expressions of his own nature, the laws that control the destinies of moral mind, are of transcendent import. What are Egypt, Babylon, Rome, Paris, St. Petersburg, New York, London, etc., to him? Shifting clouds, melting into infinite space; little bubbles, rising from and breaking into the ever changing, ever rolling stream of time. But justice, truth, love, - what are these? As real, as changeless, as lasting, as God himself. Hence it is that in going through this Apocalypse I all but ignore the fanciful and conflicting interpretations presented by what are called Evangelical expositors, and concern myself with those two principles, good and evil, that touch the spring of all human activities. Looking at these verses as an illustration of moral error, three things are observable.

I. ITS HISTORY IS MARVELLOUS. John, in his vision, seems to have wondered at this vision of the "mother of harlots," riding on the beast with "seven heads and ten horns." "The angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel [wonder]?" (ver. 7). Evil is indeed a "marvel," a wonder. It is mysterious on several accounts.

1. On account of the darkness that enfolds its introduction. When thinking of the introduction of moral evil, there are tour questions which we ask with intense anxiety, but to which we seek a satisfactory solution in vain.

(1) When did it arise? A commencement it must have had. Evil is not eternal; there is but one Eternal Being in the universe, and he is "glorious in holiness." Evil, then, had a beginning; but when? Who shall tell the morning when the first dark cloud rose upon the bright firmament of moral mind? Who shall tell when the first breath of sin ruffled the peaceful atmosphere of God's creation? The events of that morning are not chronicled in the annals of our world.

(2) How did it rise? There are two principles on which we can account for the prevalence of sin amongst men now - internal tendencies and external circumstances. Man now has a strong disposition to sin, so that as soon as he begins to act he begins to sin, and then the outward circumstances under which he is brought up tempt him to wrong. To the latter we refer the introduction of sin into our world. Adam had no unholy tendencies, but an external force was brought to bear upon his holy nature, which turned him from rectitude. But the first sinner, whoever he might be, had neither this internal tendency nor the external circumstances. All within and without, above, beneath, and around, was in favour of holiness. The whole current of inner feeling and the mighty tide of outward events were all flowing in favour of perfect purity. How could a being sin in such circumstances? How could he strike a discordant note amongst such harmonies? How could he rise up against and conquer all the mighty influences which were in favour of holiness? How could he lift his nature against the Eternal and "defy the Omnipotent to arms"? All is mystery.

(3) Where did it arise? In what province of the universe? Amidst what order of intelligences?

(4) And then, why did it arise? Omniscience must have foreseen it, and all the evil consequences that must start out from it. Almightiness could have prevented it. Why did he allow it to enter? Oh, why?

2. On account of the mask under which it works. Evil never appears in its own true character. Dishonesty wears the aspect of rectitude; falsehood speaks the language of truth; selfishness has the voice of benevolence; profanity robes itself in the garb of sanctity; the "prince of darkness" appears like an angel of light. The most monstrous deeds that have been perpetrated under these heavens have been done in the name of religion. The Alexanders and the Caesars of this world have fought their sanguinary battles, and reared their empires upon slaughtered nations in the name of religion. The popes of the world have erected their iron throne upon the soul of Christendom in the name of religion. The persecutors of the world have invented their Inquisitions, built their dungeons, and kindled their fires in the name of religion. Ah me! the Son of God himself was put to death in the name of religion. Wrong is necessarily hypocritical.

3. On account of the wonderful issues that will result from it. Results will spring from evil which the originators and agents never designed, nay, which they would dread. The introduction of sin became the occasion of a new and brighter manifestation of God. All the glorious developments of Divine justice and love and power which we have in Christ owe their existence to evil. Evil has done an immense injury to the universe, but I believe that in the long run of ages it will be found to have been overruled for a greater good.

II. ITS COURSE IS LAMENTABLE. "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit [is about to come out of the abyss], and go into perdition" (ver. 8). What meaneth this? The Roman emperors, especially Nero, is the answer of some. My answer is deeper, broader, more practical. It is moral error; that which originated all that was bad in Rome, in Babylon, ay, and in the world and ages throughout. Moral error is the beastifying force in human nature; it makes men beasts everywhere. Its beginning and end are lamentable; it rises from the "bottomless pit," from the fathomless abysses of impure lusts, ravenous greed, burning ambition, sensual yearnings, impious irreverences, and blasphemous assumptions, etc. Its end is lamentable. It leads to "perdition," to ruin. The course of moral error is like the course of the meteor, which, rising from the abysses of the sulphurous cloud, flashes across the concave heavens, and then falls into darkness and forgetfulness. "Lust, when it conceiveth, bringeth forth sin; sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." "The wages of sin is death" - the death of everything that gives value to life; the death of an approving conscience, pure friendships, bright hopes, etc. What a glorious contrast is the course of moral truth to this! "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Light is the emblem of intelligence, purity, and blessedness. The march of the good is like the march of the sun.

1. Glorious. How glorious is the sun as it rises in the morning, tinging the distant hills with beauty, at noon flooding the earth with splendour, in evening fringing the clouds with rich purple, crimson, and gold!

2. Commanding. The sun is the ruler of the day; at his appearance the world wakens from its slumbers; the winds and waves obey him; as he moves, all nature moves.

3. Useful. The sun enlightens the system and maintains harmony throughout every part. It renews the earth, quickens the seeds into life, covers the landscape with beauty, ripens the harvest for man and beast.

4. Independent. Troops of black clouds may roll over the earth, but they touch not the sun; furious storms may shake the globe, but the sun is beyond their reach. It is always behind the darkest clouds, and looks calmly down upon the ocean in fury and the earth in a tempest.

5. Certain. The sun is never out of time; it is ever in its place at the right hour. In all this it is the emblem of the good.

III. ITS SUPPORTS ARE UNSTABLE. "And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the [is himself also an] eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition" (ver. 11). This "mother of harlots" (the emblem of corrupt Christianity) is here represented as sitting "on the beast with seven heads and ten horns." The seven heads are "seven mountains" (vers. 9, 10). What mountains? The seven hills on which Rome was built, is the answer of popular expositors. There are "seven kings." Who are these kings, five of whom are gone, one remaining and waiting for another - who are they? One expositor suggests that "the reference is rather to seven great monarchies, five of which, viz. Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and Macedon, had fallen before the time of St. John. The pagan empire of the Roman Caesars then existing would be the sixth, the papal power might be the seventh, and the last form of antichrist the eighth." I confess my utter inability to give any verbal interpretation agreeable to the dictates of common sense or the conditions of spiritual culture. The one idea which it suggests to me and serves to illustrate is that the supports of moral evil are unstable. Moral evil in our world has its supports. Many seem strong as "seven mountains," mighty as "seven kings," and more, but all are shifting and transitory. Many have been and are not, some have risen and have passed away, others in their course have come and will disappear. This has been the history of moral evil in our world. Many of the arguments that have sustained it from time to time have appeared as settled and imposing as mountains, as gorgeous and majestic as kings; but "mountains have fallen and come to nought," and even imperial bulwarks have disappeared as visions of the night. So it has been, so it is, and so it must be to the end. Moral error has no lasting foundation. Its superstructures are not houses on the rocks, but on shifting sands. Whether it appears in the form of thrones, governments, churches, colleges, markets, it stands nowhere but on volcanic hills. They may be clad in loveliest verdure and enriched with the choicest fruit, but fires lie beneath them which will rive them to pieces and engulf in ruin all that have stood and flourished above. - D.T.

The Judgment of the great whore.
The description here given of this harlot suggests and illustrates three great evils ever conspicuous in corrupt Christianity.

I. POLITICAL SUBSERVIENCY. "With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication." Essentially Christianity is the absolute queen of life. Although her kingdom is "not of this world," her demand is that the world should bow to her. In yielding to worldly influence she lost her pristine purity and primitive power, she got corrupted, and became more and more the servant of rulers and the instrument of states.

II. WORLDLY PROCLIVITY. "And the woman was arrayed in purple anal scarlet colour, and decked with gold," etc. Genuine Christianity is essentially unworldly.

III. RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE. "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints," etc.

(David Thomas, D. D.)


1. Her position, which was indicative of power. John saw her seated upon a beast, "dreadful, and terrible, and strong exceedingly"; for so, in the book of Daniel, we find him described. Again, it was a position indicative of hostility to God. For the beast on which the woman sat was "full of names of blasphemy." Then it was a position indicative of the unsightliness of vice. What a hideous monster was this beast, "having seven heads and ten horns"; and how strange was the picture presented to the apostle's view of "the great whore," as seated upon him. Here, too, was a position indicative of cruelty towards men, as well as of hostility towards God. The beast on which she sat was scarlet-coloured, betokening war and bloodshed. It was a position, nevertheless, of allurement and seduction. For she was seen as one who had in her hand "a golden cup," too successfully held forth to "the inhabitants of the earth," who are represented as having been "made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Her position once more was that of a deceiver and destroyer. The cup held forth was "golden." But its contents, as seen by the apostle — what were they? It was "full of abominations," etc.

2. Her attire. "The woman was arrayed in purple, and scarlet-coloured," indicative of her real dignity; "and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls" — illustrative of her vast wealth. How many, beholding a female thus adorned, would at once wish to occupy her place! Yet such might be arrayed on earth in purple, and fail of being hereafter arrayed in white in heaven. Instead of wishing to be "decked with gold and precious stones," such as John saw glittering on "the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," let the heart go after that "redemption of the soul" which is "precious, and ceaseth for ever."

3. Her names.(1) "Mystery." Such she would have been to John but for the angel's explanation. Such, even with that explanation, she to certain extent remained to him. And such she was destined to remain to the Church of God through a long succession of ages. Let it be observed, however, that inquiry into the import of the vision was, as it were, challenged by the angel who showed this "woman" to John. We do not, therefore, act unbecomingly in endeavouring to ascertain what this "woman" was destined to represent to the apostle.(2) "Babylon the Great." In having this name inscribed upon her "forehead, she was exhibited to the apostle in a vaunting attitude, and as under the influence of a spirit, similar to that of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30). Elsewhere, too, in this book we find her displaying a boastful and vainglorious temper of mind (Revelation 18:7). This should be a lesson to us not to be high-minded, as the possessors of either worldly or religious distinctions.(3) "The mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth." This was indeed to have "a whore's forehead," and to be, as the Jewish nation was once charged with being, one that "refused to be ashamed." Behold the woman with unblushing effrontery proclaiming to the world her character and misdoings; and see, m her, the foreshowing of those "latter times," in which "doctrines of devils" shall be promulgated, and "men, giving heed to seducing spirits, shall depart from the faith"; times when there shall be a "forbidding to marry." It would seem that in this way Babylon the Great is destined to become "the mother of harlots" — namely, by an authoritative prohibition of the nuptial tie; a doing away with marriage throughout the wide extent of her dominion, and a consequent abandonment of society to general dissoluteness.

4. Her condition. "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints," etc. What spectacle was this! fitted to awaken in his bosom feelings at once of disgust and horror. How fearful an amount of persecuting rage against the Church of God, as destined to become apparent in the days of the ascendency of "Babylon the Great," was thus prophetically indicated to him! And of what an amount of suffering, on the part of the saints, and of the witnesses for Jesus, was he thus made aware beforehand.


1. His colour. A scarlet-coloured beast. What did this indicate? Perhaps, his regal character. We are forewarned that he will be a king of widely-extended rule. In another vision John saw "power given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." "And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority." We conclude, then, that in being foreshown to John as a scarlet-coloured beast, the regal character of the Man of sin may have been prophetically indicated, and in particular his character, as vicegerent on earth, of the "great red dragon" (Revelation 12:3). But it is more probable that, in presenting him thus to the view of the apostle, the Divine purpose may have been to foreshow to the Christian world the character of antichrist, as a warrior and persecutor of the Church of God. Such he most certainly will be. As a scarlet-coloured beast he might be very fitly presented to view — a monster dyed, as it were, in blood — when it is considered that the time of his ascendency will be "a time of trouble such as never was, since there was a nation to that same time" (compare Revelation 12:12; Daniel 12:1), and "except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved." Power was given to him to make war forty-and-two months — no longer. Then he was, as foreshown to John, "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone."

2. His names. "He was full of names of blasphemy," which make us, as they made the apostle, aware that antichrist, when he shall come, besides "wearing out the saints," will "speak great words against the Most High" — "marvellous things against the God of gods." In times long gone he was foreshown to the prophet Daniel as one who would act thus. It will be one special end of his mission, as Satan's prime minister in the world, to blaspheme.

3. His figure. He had "seven heads and ten horns," and must, hence, have presented to the apostle an aspect at once singular, hideous, and terrible — indicative, however, of large intelligence and vast power.

4. His manifestation, contemporaneously with that of "Babylon the Great." Together they will flourish — together they will fall. The day of power to both will be one and the same. The day of doom also.

5. His subservience to her exaltation and advancement. She is seated on him. He "carrieth her." Her prosperity, glory, and dominion will be consequent on, and commensurate with, his own.

III. THE APOSTLE'S WONDER AT THE SPECTACLE. "And when I saw her I wondered with great admiration." But John was rebuked on account of the "great admiration" with which he "wondered" at the woman on whom he was looking. He writes, "And the angel said unto me, wherefore didst thou marvel?" What you have now before you is not, in itself, a spectacle that ought to be wondered at, as it now is, by you. And, even if the world will wonder at it, should you do so? "They shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life, from the foundation of the world" (ver. 8). But "wherefore shouldst thou marvel?"

IV. THE ANGEL'S PROMISE TO JOHN. "I will tell thee the mystery of the woman." This vision was granted to the apostle for the purpose of instruction, not of mere entertainment. The angel will unfold the mystery to him. The promised revelation, however, of all to him, a holy man of God and a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, is in accordance with what we read elsewhere (Psalm 25:14).

(H. Edwards.)

The martyrs of Jesus

1. Their heroic faith. They had unswerving reliance in Christ, and knew they were not following cunningly devised fables. These martyrs had not simply an opinion or impression, but a deep belief; they were resting upon evidence which they felt to be sufficient and immovable. They believed in living, risen, and reigning Lord.

2. Their sublime hope. All they could see seemed to be against them, all their surroundings were calculated to depress them; but they looked not at things seen and temporal, but for aa inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.

3. Their ardent love. They loved their country, home, and friends; but they loved their Master more, and they were prepared to relinquish all for the love they bore to Him.

4. Their complete obedience. They had their marching orders, and they marched on under the Great Captain of their salvation, to do and dare and die. They reciprocated His love.

5. Their transparent sincerity.

6. Their restful satisfaction. They felt they had not only sufficient, but satisfactory evidence of the truth as it is in Jesus. They found in Him all they needed to satisfy the wishes and wants of their spirits, so nothing could move them or shake their steadfastness.


1. He could have been no myth. These martyrs were — as the word literally means — witnesses, not inventors, or historians merely, they had the evidence of their senses as well as the experience of their hearts. From what we know of human nature, we feel it would have been impossible for the early Christians to have died for a myth or phantom: they were in a position to test most fully the historic claims of Christ, and to prove His personality and identity at the various points of His mission and ministry.

2. He could not have been a deceiver. Men may submit to be deluded when they have much to gain and nothing to lose; but when it is the reverse they will exercise the utmost vigilance and practise the strictest caution.

3. How faithful Christ was to His promise never to leave nor forsake them, and they witness to the victorious power of His religion to sustain the soul in the most trying circumstances, in torturing pain, and the dying hour.

4. The impotence of error and the omnipotence of truth. Truth is mighty, and must prevail; more is for it than all that can be against it. Error, in its rage and cowardice, has drawn the sword and gone forth to win its way, and strike terror into the hearts of the true. But the prospect of massacre and martyrdom could not deter the true followers of the Lamb: they have gone forth feeling that the Lord of hosts was with them, and that the mighty God of Jacob was their refuge. The King Immortal, Invisible, steers and guards His own ark, and all shall ultimately and utterly fail and fall who lay their unholy alien hands upon it. The noble army of martyrs praise God, and they preach to us.

(F. W. Brown.)

Babylon, Patmos
Beast, Belongs, Destruction, Eighth, Exist, Existed, Goes, Perdition, Seven, Wild, Yet
1. A woman arrayed in purple and scarlet, with a golden cup in her hand sits upon the beast;
5. which is great Babylon, the mother of all abominations.
9. The interpretation of the seven heads;
12. and the ten horns.
14. The victory of the Lamb.
16. The punishment of the harlot.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Revelation 17:11

     5295   destruction

Revelation 17:1-18

     4125   Satan, agents of

Revelation 17:7-13

     4627   creatures

Revelation 17:7-14

     4609   beast, the
     9115   antichrist, the

Revelation 17:10-12

     5366   king

The Present Distress of Nations.
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them with fear, and for looking after those things which are coming to pass on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21:25, 26). As we have already remarked more than once, prophecy invariably has a double fulfillment at least, and so we believe it is with the one just quoted. Directly, it has reference
Arthur W. Pink—The Redeemer's Return

The vineyard Labourers.
"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord

Meditations to Stir us up to Morning Prayer.
1. If, when thou art about to pray, Satan shall suggest that thy prayers are too long, and that therefore it were better either to omit prayers, or else to cut them shorter, meditate that prayer is thy spiritual sacrifice, wherewith God is well pleased (Heb. xiii. 15, 16;) and therefore it is so displeasing to the devil, and so irksome to the flesh. Bend therefore thy affections (will they, nill they) to so holy an exercise; assuring thyself, that it doth by so much the more please God, by how much
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Epistle iv. To Cyriacus, Bishop.
To Cyriacus, Bishop. Gregory to Cyriacus, Bishop of Constantinople. We have received with becoming charity our common sons, George the presbyter and Theodore your deacon; and we rejoice that you have passed from the care of ecclesiastical business to the government of souls, since, according to the voice of the Truth, He that is faithful in a little will be faithful also in much (Luke xvi. 10). And to the servant who administers well it is said, Because thou hast been faithful over a few things,
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

A vision of the King.
ONE of the most blessed occupations for the believer is the prayerful searching of God's holy Word to discover there new glories and fresh beauties of Him, who is altogether lovely. Shall we ever find out all which the written Word reveals of Himself and His worthiness? This wonderful theme can never be exhausted. The heart which is devoted to Him and longs through the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be closer to the Lord, to hear and know more of Himself, will always find something
Arno Gaebelein—The Lord of Glory

Covenanting a Duty.
The exercise of Covenanting with God is enjoined by Him as the Supreme Moral Governor of all. That his Covenant should be acceded to, by men in every age and condition, is ordained as a law, sanctioned by his high authority,--recorded in his law of perpetual moral obligation on men, as a statute decreed by him, and in virtue of his underived sovereignty, promulgated by his command. "He hath commanded his covenant for ever."[171] The exercise is inculcated according to the will of God, as King and
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The First Great Group of Parables.
(Beside the Sea of Galilee.) Subdivision B. Parable of the Sower. ^A Matt. XIII. 3-23; ^B Mark IV. 3-25; ^C Luke VIII. 5-18. ^a Behold, ^c 5 The sower went forth to sow his seed [Orientals live in cities and towns. Isolated farmhouses are practically unknown. A farmer may therefore live several miles from his field, in which case he literally "goes forth" to it]: ^b 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some seed { ^a seeds } fell by the way side, ^c and it was trodden under foot, and the birds of
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

"Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Rev. 19:6). In our Foreword to the Second Edition we acknowledge the need for preserving the balance of Truth. Two things are beyond dispute: God is Sovereign, man is responsible. In this book we have sought to expound the former; in our other works we have frequently pressed the latter. That there is real danger of over-emphasising the one and ignoring the other, we readily admit; yea, history furnishes numerous examples of cases of each. To emphasise
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God

Third Sunday after Trinity Humility, Trust, Watchfulness, Suffering
Text: 1 Peter 5, 5-11. 5 Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; 7 casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 whom withstand stedfast
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

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