Revelation 17:1
And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
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(1) And there came . . .—One of the vial-bearing angels summons the seer, saying, Hither I will show thee the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters (or, the many waters—comp. Revelation 17:15). The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and they who inhabit the earth were made drunken (lost their reason and self-control) from the wine, the delicious and delirious draught of her fornication. Before we go further, it is well to make sure of our ground. Babylon was the great city, whose splendour dazzled, and whose power destroyed Jerusalem (Isaiah 39:1-8; Isaiah 13:19; Isaiah 14:4; Isaiah 14:13-14; Isaiah 47:5-8). Against Babylon the voices of the prophets were lifted up (Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 51:25); she seemed to them the embodiment of splendid vice and resistless power; “the glory of kingdoms,” “the golden city,” “who exalted her throne above the stars of God,” “who sat as a lady given to pleasures, and flattering herself that she would see no sorrow.” In her greatness and her hostility to Jerusalem she became a type of later world-powers; and, in St. John’s vision, Babylon, in her purple and her pomp, in her luxurious ness and her tyranny, takes her place. And it is explained in the vision that Babylon is no longer the literal Babylon, but the power which has taken her place of pride and empire. That power was Rome. Rome was in St. John’s day just what Babylon had been in the days of the prophets—“the hammer of the whole earth,” the “golden cup that made all the earth drunken” (Jeremiah 50:23; Jeremiah 51:7; comp. Revelation 17:2 of this chapter). At the same time, the way in which the Evangelist transfers to the Rome of his day the prophetic language which earlier prophets applied to ancient Babylon (compare these chapters, Revelation 17, 18, with Isaiah 47, Jeremiah 51:6-14) ought to be sufficient to warn us against limited and local interpretations, even if the seven-headed wild beast did not show us that the world-power, like the moral principles of which Babylon and Rome were examples, is not confined to one age. If we remember this, we shall see that the Babylon of the Apocalypse, while, undoubtedly, Pagan Rome, cannot be limited to it. Is it, then, the question must be asked, Papal Rome? The answer is: In so far as Papal Rome has wielded tyrant power, turned persecutor, stood between the spirits of men and Christ, depraved men’s consciences, withheld the truth, connived at viciousness, sought aggrandisement, and been a political engine rather than a witness for the righteous King, she has inherited the features of Babylon. The recognition of these features led Dante to apply this very passage in the Apocalypse to Rome under the rule of worldly and tyrant popes, when he exclaimed to the shade of Nicholas III. (Il compiuto):

“Of shepherds like to you the Evangelist

Was ware, when her who sits upon the waves

With kings in filthy whoredom he beheld:

She who with seven heads tower’d at her birth,

And from ten horns her proof of glory drew

Long as her spouse in virtue took delight.

Of gold and silver ye have made your god,

Differing wherein from the idolater,

But that he worships one, a hundred ye!”

—Inferno, Cant, xix., 109-117.

Revelation 17:1-2. And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials — Most probably this was the seventh angel; for, under the seventh vial, great Babylon came in remembrance before God, and now St. John is called upon to see her condemnation and execution; saying, Come hither, I will show thee the judgment of the great whore — Which is now circumstantially described. This relation concerning the great whore, and that concerning the wife of the Lamb, (Revelation 21:9-10,) have the same introduction, in token of the exact opposition between them; that sitteth as a queen, in pomp, power, ease, and luxury, upon many waters — So ancient Babylon, which was seated upon the great river Euphrates, is described by Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 51:13,) as dwelling upon many waters; and from thence the phrase is borrowed, and signifies, according to the angel’s own explanation, (Revelation 17:15,) ruling over many peoples and nations. Neither was this an ordinary prostitute; she was the great whore, with whom the kings of the earth, both ancient and modern, have committed fornication — By partaking of her idolatry, and various kinds of wickedness. So Tyre is described, Isaiah 23:17, as having committed fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. Nay, not only the kings, but inferior persons, the inhabiters of the earth, the common people, have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication — No wine can more thoroughly intoxicate those who drink it, than false zeal does the followers of the great whore. Thus it was said of ancient Babylon, The nations have drunk of her wine, therefore the nations are mad. Fornication, in the usual style of Scripture, is idolatry; but if it be taken even literally, it is true that modern Rome openly allows the one as well as practises the other. Ancient Rome doth, in no respect, so well answer the character; for she ruled more with a rod of iron than with the wine of her fornication. Her ambition was for extending her empire, and not her religion. She permitted even the conquered nations to continue in the religion of their ancestors, and to worship their own gods after their own rituals. She may be said rather to have been corrupted by the importation of foreign vices and superstitions than to have established her own in other countries.

17:1-6 Rome clearly appears to be meant in this chapter. Pagan Rome subdued and ruled with military power, not by art and flatteries. She left the nations in general to their ancient usages and worship. But it is well known that by crafty and politic management, with all kinds of deceit of unrighteousness, papal Rome has obtained and kept her rule over kings and nations. Here were allurements of worldly honour and riches, pomp and pride, suited to sensual and worldly minds. Prosperity, pomp, and splendour, feed the pride and lusts of the human heart, but are no security against the Divine vengeance. The golden cup represents the allurements, and delusions, by which this mystical Babylon has obtained and kept her influence, and seduced others to join her abominations. She is named, from her infamous practices, a mother of harlots; training them up to idolatry and all sorts of wickedness. She filled herself with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. She intoxicated herself with it; and it was so pleasant to her, that she never was satisfied. We cannot but wonder at the oceans of Christian blood shed by men called Christians; yet when we consider these prophecies, these awful deeds testify to the truth of the gospel. And let all beware of a splendid, gainful, or fashionable religion. Let us avoid the mysteries of iniquity, and study diligently the great mystery of godliness, that we may learn humility and gratitude from the example of Christ. The more we seek to resemble him, the less we shall be liable to be deceived by antichrist.And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials - See the notes on Revelation 15:1, Revelation 15:7. Reference is again made to these angels in the same manner in Revelation 21:9, where one of them says that he would show to John "the bride, the Lamb's wife." No particular one is specified. The general idea seems to be, that to those seven angels was entrusted the execution of the last things, or the winding up of affairs introductory to the reign of God, and that the communications respecting those last events were properly made through them. It is clearly quite immaterial by which of these it is done. The expression "which had the seven vials," would seem to imply that though they had emptied the vials in the manner stated in the previous chapter, they still retained them in their hands.

And talked with me - Spake to me. The word "talk" would imply a more protracted conversation than occurred here.

Come hither - Greek, δεῦρο deuro - "Here, hither." This is a word merely calling the attention, as we should say now, "Here." It does not imply that John was to leave the place where he was.

I will shew unto thee - Partly by symbols, and partly by express statements; for this is the way in which, in fact, he showed him.

The judgment - The condemnation and calamity that will come upon her.

Of the great whore - It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to represent a city under the image of a woman - a pure and holy city under the image of a virgin or chaste female; a corrupt, idolatrous, and wicked city under the image of an abandoned or lewd woman. See the notes on Isaiah 1:21; "How is the faithful city become an harlot!" Compare the notes on Isaiah 1:8. In Revelation 17:18, it is expressly said that "this woman is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth" - that is, as I suppose, papal Rome; and the design here is to represent it as resembling an abandoned female - fit representative of an apostate, corrupt, unfaithful church. Compare the notes on Revelation 9:21.

That sitteth upon many waters - An image drawn either from Babylon, situated on the Euphrates, and encompassed by the many artificial rivers which had been made to irrigate the country, or Rome, situated on the Tiber. In Revelation 17:15 these waters are said to represent the peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues over which the government symbolized by the woman ruled. See the notes on that verse. Waters are often used to symbolize nations.


Re 17:1-18. The Harlot Babylon's Gaud: The Beast on Which She Rides, Having Seven Heads and Ten Horns, Shall Be the Instrument of Judgment on Her.

As Re 16:12 stated generally the vial judgment about to be poured on the harlot, Babylon's power, as the seventeenth and eighteen chapters give the same in detail, so the nineteenth chapter gives in detail the judgment on the beast and the false prophet, summarily alluded to in Re 16:13-15, in connection with the Lord's coming.

1. unto me—A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic omit.

many—So A. But B, "the many waters" (Jer 51:13); Re 17:15, below, explains the sense. The whore is the apostate Church, just as "the woman" (Re 12:1-6) is the Church while faithful. Satan having failed by violence, tries too successfully to seduce her by the allurements of the world; unlike her Lord, she was overcome by this temptation; hence she is seen sitting on the scarlet-colored beast, no longer the wife, but the harlot; no longer Jerusalem, but spiritually Sodom (Re 11:8).Revelation 17:1-4 John’s vision of the great whore, sitting upon the

scarlet coloured beast, arrayed in

purple and scarlet, with a golden cup in her hand.

Revelation 17:5 Her name.

Revelation 17:6 She is drunken with the blood of saints.

Revelation 17:7-17 The interpretation of the mystery of the beast, and

of his seven heads and ten horns,

Revelation 17:18 and of the woman.

This whole verse is but a preface to a new vision which John had; not new, as to the matter revealed in it; for it plainly revealeth matters relating to antichrist; and the matter of it contemporizeth with the three last vials, about the final ruin of antichrist, who was before described under the notion of a beast, here under the notion of a

great whore. A whore properly signifies one that is married, and is false to her husband’s bed; and so very well suits the Church of Rome, (if they yet deserve that name), whose faith was formerly spoken of throughout the world, Romans 1:8, but is long since turned idolatrous (idolatry, in the prophetic style, being quite through the Scripture called whoredom). She is said to

sit upon many waters, either because she exerciseth a jurisdiction over much people, or with allusion to old Babylon, (which gave her her name), which was situated near Euphrates, a river in which there was a great collection of waters. John is called to hear the counsels of God concerning her destruction, which though more generally and shortly revealed before, yet God here designs to reveal to John more fully, particularly, and plainly.

And there came one of the seven angels that had the seven vials,.... It may be the first of them, since one of the four beasts designs the first of them, in Revelation 6:1 though Brightman thinks the fifth angel is meant, because he poured out his vial on the seat of the beast, who is by this angel described; but rather this is the seventh and last angel, concerned in the utter destruction of antichrist: and therefore proposes to John to show him the judgment of the great whore:

and talked with me, saying unto me, come hither: he conversed with him in a friendly manner, see Zechariah 1:9 and desires him to come nearer to him, and go along with him, adding,

I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore; that noted and famous one, known before to John by the names of Jezabel and Babylon, who taught and caused many to commit fornication, Revelation 2:20 Revelation 14:8 and is no other than Rome Papal; for that a city or state is meant is clear from Revelation 17:18 and it is usual for idolatrous or apostate cities to be called whores or harlots, see Isaiah 1:21 Ezekiel 23:2 and she is called a "great" one, because of the largeness of the Papal see; and because of the multitude of persons, the kings of the earth, and the inhabitants of it, with whom the Romish antichrist has committed spiritual fornication, or idolatry: her "judgment" signifies either her sin and wickedness; in which sense the word is used in Romans 5:16 and which is exposed, Revelation 17:5 namely, her idolatry and cruelty; or else her condemnation, and the execution of it, suggested in Revelation 17:8 and more largely described in the following chapter:

that sitteth upon many waters; which in Revelation 17:15 are interpreted of people, multitudes, nations, and tongues, subject to the jurisdiction of Rome; and so several antichristian states are in the preceding chapter signified by the sea, and by rivers and fountains of water: and this is said in reference to Babylon, an emblem of the Romish harlot, which was situated upon the river Euphrates, and is therefore said to dwell upon many waters, Jeremiah 51:13 her sitting here may be in allusion to the posture of harlots plying of men; or may denote her ease, rest, and grandeur, sitting as a queen; and is chiefly expressive of her power and dominion over the kings and nations of the earth, Revelation 17:18.

And {1} there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto {2} thee the {a} judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:

(1) The state of the Church militant being declared, now follows the state of the church overcoming and getting victory, as I showed before in the beginning of the tenth chapter. This state is set forth in four chapters. As in the place before I noted, that in that history the order of time was not always exactly observed so the same is to be understood in this history, that it is distinguished according to the people of which it speaks, and that the stories of the people are observed in the time of it. For first is delivered the story of Babylon destroyed in this and the next chapter (for this Babylon out of all doubt, shall perish before the two beasts and the dragon). Secondly, is delivered the destruction of both the two beasts, chapter nineteen and lastly of the dragon, chapter eighteen. In the story of the spiritual Babylon, are distinctly set forth the state of it in this chapter, and the overthrow done from the first argument, consisting of the particular calling of the prophet (as often before) and a general proposition.

(2) That is, that damnable harlot, by a figure of speech called hyppalage. For John as yet had not seen her. Although another interpretation may be thought of, yet I like this better.

(a) The sentence that is pronounce against this harlot.

Revelation 17:1-6. One of the vial-angels allows John to see the harlot.

καὶ ἦλθεν. The angel had thus far occupied a standpoint adapted for the business described in ch. 16, the pouring-out of his vials; now he comes to John in order not only to speak with him (Revelation 17:1 sqq.), but also to carry him in spirit to another place (Revelation 17:3).

εἰς ἐκ τ. ἑπτ. ἀγγ., κ.τ.λ. One of the seven vial-angels. Incorrectly, Eichh.: εἱς is equivalent to πρῶτος.[3798] It is in no way to be conjectured which of the vial-angels it was; but that just by one of these he will be afforded a view of the judgment, is especially appropriate, because these angels have brought the last plagues immediately preceding the judgment, and that, too, without impelling the worldly kingdom to repentance.[3799]

Δεῦρο. Cf. Revelation 21:9, also Revelation 6:3; Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:7.

δείξω σοι τὸ κρίμα, κ.τ.λ. The fulfilment of the promise is not immediately presented in Revelation 17:3,[3800] nor even at all in ch. 17; for even though in Revelation 17:3 (ἔρημον), in the description of the ostentatious woman, there is an allusion to the judgment now impending, as also the interpreting angel, Revelation 17:16, expressly proclaims the future devastation of the city symbolized by the harlot, yet neither the appearance of the woman herself, nor the interpreting speech of the angel, gives the idea of a judgment already actually present. But the angel first of all shows the harlot in her antichristian form,—which is necessary, because the special view of the city, in distinction from that of the empire as a whole, is, at least in this definite form, new,—and not until afterwards does the judgment occur (cf. Revelation 18:1 sqq.).

τῆς πόρνης τῆς μεγάλης, κ.τ.λ. From the entire presentation, especially from Revelation 17:18, it follows that “the great harlot” is the personification of “the great city,” i.e., of heathen Rome as the metropolis of the entire heathen-Roman Empire;[3801] therefore the harlot is designated in like manner as previously the beast, which symbolizes the entire realm. The special description of the city is prepared already by such passages as Revelation 14:8, Revelation 16:19;[3802] but the city appears as a harlot, because to this applies what has previously been said concerning it as Babylon the great (cf, Revelation 17:2).

ἐπὶ ὑδάτων πολλῶν. In this also like Babylon.[3803] But this sitting on masses of water, which is regarded as presenting itself to the eye of the seer, has a symbolical meaning which the angel explains in Revelation 17:15.

μεθʼ ἡς ἐπόρνευσαν οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς. Of all nations this was said in Revelation 14:8; for the masses of the inhabitants of the earth have allowed themselves to be seduced[3804] in the same way as the kings of the earth by the beast, and especially by the city wherein is the throne of the beast.[3805] Accordingly it is said immediately afterwards: καὶ ἐμεθύσθησαν οἱ κατοικοῦντες τὴν γῆν, κ.τ.λ. On the suppression of the relative constr., cf. Winer, p. 141.

[3798] Cf. Revelation 6:1.

[3799] Revelation 16:9; Revelation 16:11; Revelation 16:21.

[3800] Against Hengstenb.

[3801] See on Revelation 17:18.

[3802] Cf. also Revelation 16:10.

[3803] Cf. Revelation 17:2.

[3804] Cf. Revelation 18:3.

[3805] Cf. Revelation 16:10.

Revelation 17:1. A fresh vision commences (cf. Revelation 4:1), still punitive (Revelation 16:1), but with an exchange of angelic cicerones (as Slav. En. xxi.). The Beast which has already (in 13) done duty as the empire is now the support of the capital. Rome, personified (so Sib. Or. iii. 46–92, before 80 A.D.) as a feminine figure, rides on a beast of the same colour, like a Bacchante on the panther, or like the Syrian Astarte on a lion.

The Judgement of the Great Whore. Her Pomp. Chap. 17 Revelation 17:1-61. one of the angels] So Revelation 21:9 : cf. Revelation 5:5.

I will shew unto thee the judgement &c.] Which had been exhibited, and described in general terms, in Revelation 16:19 : but the seer is now to have a nearer view of it, and describe it in detail.

the great whore] The image of the harlot is taken from the Old Testament description, not of Babylon, which when personified is a virgin (Isaiah 47:1), but of Tyre (Isaiah 23:15 sqq.) and Nineveh (Nahum 3:4). The truth is, the Antichristian Empire is conceived as embodying the various forms of evil that existed in previous earthly empires. They have existed and become great, in virtue of what was good in them: (see St Augustine’s City of God, V. xii. 3, 5, xv. &c.; Epist. cxxxviii. 17: cf. Plat. Rep. I. xxiii. pp. 351–2); they are the divinely appointed protectors of God’s people (Jeremiah 29:7; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:2) though their possible persecutors: and so they at once hinder (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7) the coming of Antichrist, and foreshadow his coming by acting in his spirit. The Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar had (as no one can read the Book of Daniel without seeing) something nobler in it than mere conquering pride, and to this nobler element Isaiah does justice: but St John sees (it does not follow that the natural man will see) that in the New Babylon the baser element is supreme.

But another interpretation has been suggested. In Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14 we found that the Woman, the City of God and the Mother of His Son, fled into the wilderness, and there was concealed through the time of the Beast’s reign: and some have thought that the Woman in the Wilderness whom we meet with here is actually the same as the one we then parted with—the faithful City become an harlot (Isaiah 1:21.)

This view is an unpleasant one, and seems out of harmony with the tone either of chap. 12 or of this chapter. But it is supported by the argument, that the image of a harlot is most frequently, in the O. T. used of the unfaithful City of God: Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20, Jeremiah 3:1 sqq., Jeremiah 3:6 sqq.; Ezekiel 16:23; Hosea 1-3; Hosea 4:15; Micah 1:7 : while it is applied to heathen cities only in Isaiah 23 fin.; Nahum 3:4, already quoted.

On the other hand, in almost all those passages it is insisted on, more or less expressly, that the whoredoms of unfaithful Israel have the special guilt of adultery: and of that there is no hint here, the Lord does not say of Babylon as of Aholibah that she was “Mine.” This seems to destroy the parallel with the former nine cases, which moreover is less close, as regards the details of language, than that with the two latter.

And further, the identification of the two Women is only possible on the assumption, that the Mother of chap. 12 is the true Christian Church, and the Harlot of this chapter the apostate Christian Church of Rome. Now we have seen reason to reject the former view: nor does the latter appear any more tenable. This subject is discussed in the Introduction: it may be enough to refer to St John’s own words in I Ephesians 4:2-3, as proving that the spirit of the theology (whatever may be said of the political attitude) of the existing Roman Church is, on the whole, of God—that it certainly is not the spirit of Antichrist.

Yet it is hardly necessary, if it be possible, to restrict the application of this chapter to the Pagan Rome of the past. ‘The kings of the earth have committed fornication’ with other cities since. Nor did Rome, like Nineveh and Babylon (Nahum 3:4, Ezekiel 23:5; Ezekiel 23:12; Ezekiel 23:14), conquer as much by the fascinations of her splendour as by her arms, though the royal vassals of the Cæsars were dazzled as well as awed.

on many waters] Jeremiah 51:13. Literally true of the old Babylon, it is explained of the new in Revelation 17:15.

Revelation 17:1. Τὸ κρίμα) משפט, the account [reckoning], Revelation 17:16.—καὶ τῆς πόρνης, of the whore) Comp. Gloss, pp. 1195, 1440.

Verse 1. - And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me; and spake with me, saying. Omit "unto me." This and the following chapters (to Revelation 19:21) consist of visions which are really included under the seventh vial, but which, on account of their length and elaboration, may be considered apart from the other judgments of that vial. In the preceding chapters we have had placed before us a conspectus of three classes of ungodly people, and the three principles of evil in their abstract form, as represented by the world (the first beast), the flesh (the second beast), and the devil (the dragon). The personal final overthrow of the devil is described in Revelation 20:10; Revelation 17. and 18, are devoted to the description of the judgments of the two former - the world, in its character of the openly hostile persecutor of the Church of God; and the other portion of the ungodly who, while still professing Christianity, find excuses for conforming to the worship of the image of the beast. The first beast is, therefore, identical with Babylon, and represents, as we have seen, the openly hostile and persecuting world power of all ages, of which, in St. John's time, Rome was the foremost embodiment. The second beast is identical with the harlot, and represents faithless Christians, the apostate portion of the Church. The very raison d'etre of the Apocalypse is to deal with these two forms of evil; to declare the overthrow of the one, and to warn and, if possible, reclaim those under the influence of the other. In the latter case, the warning consists in setting forth the judgment in store for faithless Christians; and as this is the course pursued with the former also, the two merge into one, and indeed are declared to be one. The apostle in substance declares that, though there is a prima facie difference between the two forms of ungodliness, there is in reality no distinction to be made, but both are involved in one common final judgment. He thus twice solemnly asserts that the harlot is Babylon (vers. 5 and 18). The comments upon the following chapters will be based upon this hypothesis, the reasons for which will be brought out more clearly as we proceed. The opening words of this chapter leave no doubt that the visions which follow are connected with the vial judgments. The "one of the seven angels" may be the seventh angel, to whom it pertained to unfold the circumstances connected with the last judgment. Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment. Hither, δεῦρο, without the verb, as in Revelation 21:9 and John 11:43. Though this particular narration necessarily takes place after the account of the vials, yet we are not to understand that the events here related are subsequent to these related in the concluding verses of the previous chapter. Note the remarkable similarity between these words and these of Revelation 21:9, and the contrast between the bride, the wife of the Lamb, and the harlot who is connected with the beast. Wordsworth carries the comparison even to the form of words, thus -

The harlot and the beast.
Η πόρνη καὶ τὸ θηρίον
Η νύμφη καὶ τὸ ἀρνίον
The bride and the Lamb. Of the great whore; harlot (Revised Version). There seems no doubt that this figure describes the degenerate portion of the Church of God.

(1) As we have already seen, this symbolism is made use of by St. John to portray the faithlessness of those who are professedly servants of God (see Revelation 2:20; Revelation 14:4), and in this sense it is applied in the great majority of passages of Scripture where it occurs (cf. Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20; Ezekiel 16; Ezekiel 23; Hosea 2:5; Hosea 3:3; Hosea 4:15; Micah 1:7). In Isaiah 23, and Nahum 3:14 the term refers to Tyre and Nineveh respectively.

(2) There is an intended contrast between the bride and the Lamb, and the harlot who allies herself with the beast (vide supra).

(3) A contrast is also probably intended between the woman clothed with the sun (Revelation 12.), bringing forth the man child, Christ Jesus the Saviour - the representation of the pure Church - and the harlot clothed in scarlet, the mother of harlots and abominations - the representation of the faithless part of the Church.

(4) Both the woman of Revelation 12. and the harlot of this chapter reside in the wilderness, that is, this world (see on Revelation 12:14); indeed, they are to men sometimes indistinguishable (cf. the parable of the wheat and tares).

(5) The faithful Church, the bride, is called a city (Revelation 21:2, 9, 10); so the faithless portion of the Church, the harlot, is identified with the city Babylon (Revelation 11:8; Revelation 17:4, 5). Other coincidences will be noted as we proceed. But it seems equally impossible to accept the view that this faithless portion of the Church refers to papal Rome, and none other. We must include all the faithless of God's Church in all time. If the fulfilment is to be limited at all, it seems more reasonable to suppose that the first reference of St. John was to the faithless members of the seven Churches to which he addresses the Apocalypse. But we are, no doubt, intended to see here a picture of the position of the unfaithful part of the Church wherever it exists, at any time, and which men are certainly not able always to specify and judge. On this point see Professor Milligan's 'Baird Lectures' for 1885, on "The Revelation of St. John." In lect. 5. he says, "But Babylon is not the Church of Rome in particular. Deeply, no doubt, that Church has sinned. ... Yet the interpretation is false .... Babylon cannot be Christian Rome; and nothing has been more injurious to the Protestant Churches than the impression that the two were identical, and that, by withdrawing from communion with the pope, they wholly freed themselves from alliance with the spiritual harlot. Babylon embraces much more than Rome, and illustrations of what she is lie nearer our own door. Wherever professedly Christian men have thought the world's favour better than its reproach; wherever they have esteemed its honours a more desirable possession than its shame; wherever they have courted ease rather than welcomed suffering, have loved self indulgence rather than self sacrifice, and have substituted covetousness in grasping for generosity in distributing what they had, - there the spirit of Babylon has been manifested. In short, we have in the great harlot city neither the Christian Church as a whole, nor the Romish Church in particular, but all who anywhere within the Church profess to be Christ's 'little flock' and are not, denying in their lives the main characteristic by which they ought to be distinguished - that they 'follow' Christ." (For the distinction between the harlot and Babylon, see above.) That sitteth upon many waters. "The" is inserted in B and other manuscripts, probably on account of the reference in ver. 15, but is omitted in א, A, P, and others. This is the description of Babylon in Jeremiah 51:13, whence, doubtless, the expression is derived. In the place quoted, the sentence refers to the many canals of Babylon; but the interpretation of this passage is given in ver. 15, where the waters are stated to be "peoples." This fact sufficiently demonstrates that, though the imagery of the Apocalypse be taken from the Old Testament, it is not always safe to insist on an exactly similar interpretation; the symbols employed may be applied in an independent manner. That the harlot sits on many waters therefore shows us that the faithless portion of the Church is to be found distributed amongst "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." Revelation 17:1Sitteth upon many waters

Said of Babylon, Jeremiah 51:13; the wealth of Babylon being caused both by the Euphrates and by a vast system of canals. The symbol is interpreted by some commentators as signifying Babylon, by others pagan Rome, Papal Rome, Jerusalem. Dante alludes to this passage in his address to the shade of Pope Nicholas III., in the Bolgia of the Simonists.

"The Evangelist you pastors had in mind,

When she who sitteth upon many waters

To fornicate with kings by him was seen.

The same who with the seven heads was born,

And power and strength from the ten horns received,

So long as virtue to her spouse was pleasing."

"Inferno," xix., 106-110.

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