|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:15-18 God so ruled the hearts of these kings, by his power over them, and by his providence, that they did those things, without intending it, which he purposed and foretold. They shall see their folly, and how they have been bewitched and enslaved by the harlot, and be made instruments in her destruction. She was that great city which reigned over the kings of the earth, when John had this vision; and every one knows Rome to be that city. Believers will be received to the glory of the Lord, when wicked men will be destroyed in a most awful manner; their joining together in sin, will be turned to hatred and rage, and they will eagerly assist in tormenting each other. But the Lord's portion is his people; his counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure, to his glory, and the happiness of all his servants.
Verse 18. - And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. A repetition of the assertion made in ver. 5, viz. that the harlot and Babylon are identical (see on ver. 5). Many writers have been led by this verse to believe that Rome, either pagan or papal, is thus pointed out as the antitype of the harlot. That this is one fulfilment of the vision need hardly be doubted. Rome was in St. John's time the foremost embodiment of the hostile forces of the world. But this is not the whole fulfilment, which is in all time (see above, especially on ver. 1 of this chapter).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the woman which thou sawest,.... Revelation 17:3 as there described,
is that great city, often mentioned in this book; great Babylon, the city of Rome, Revelation 11:8 which reigneth over the kings of the earth; which then reigned in John's time over the kings of the earth; and this clearly points out the city of Rome, for there was no other city then, but that, which reigned over the kings of the earth; that was then the metropolis of the Roman empire, to which the whole world was subject; and therefore it is called all the world, Luke 2:1 and since, all the kings of the empire have been under the jurisdiction of Rome Papal. It was formerly called Urbs Regum, a "city of kings" (z), either for the reason in the text, or because its inhabitants looked like kings.
(z) Justin. l. 18. c. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. reigneth—literally, "hath kingship over the kings." The harlot cannot be a mere city literally, but is called so in a spiritual sense (Re 11:8). Also the beast cannot represent a spiritual power, but a world power. In this verse the harlot is presented before us ripe for judgment. The eighteenth chapter details that judgment.
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