The whore of Babylon / mystery Babylon – Who or what is this?

Revelation 17:1 states, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters." Verse 5 adds, "And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: 'Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.'" Who is this mystery Babylon?

Revelation 17:3 describes this woman riding the scarlet beast, a reference to the Antichrist. This clearly indicates the woman operates during the seven-year tribulation period described in Revelation. Revelation 17:9-10 says, "This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while."

These verses explain that the woman is "seated" on the seven heads that are seven mountains, likely meaning Rome, the city of seven hills. If this understanding is accurate, this woman in some way is connected with Rome in the tribulation period, probably as part of some kind of international alliance (referenced by the use of kings).

Also often overlooked is Revelation 17:18 that states, "And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth." The woman represents a "great" or leading city that has power over national leaders. Again, this points to the woman being a city, likely associated with Rome, that will serve as "mystery Babylon" during the tribulation period.

Other factors strengthening this view are that the Antichrist will arise from a revived Roman Empire (historically led by Rome) and that Rome has been referred to as Babylon since New Testament times (1 Peter 5:13). Some have claimed this woman represents the Roman Catholic Church, associating this group with the sinful practices of the woman in Revelation 17 and the "mystery" written on her forehead as representing the mystery of Catholicism. However, this interpretation is likely more specific than is warranted by the text that associates the woman with the city of Rome and as a place that leads the nations.

The woman is clearly identified as a city and appears to be connected with Rome. We cannot know for certain the answer to the mystery of the whore of Babylon, but it seems to refer to an evil world system ruled by the Antichrist during the last days before Jesus' return. There are religious connotations to the whore of Babylon as well, spiritual adultery with the beast centered in an ungodly, end-times religion.


Related Truth:

What are the signs of the end times?

What is going to happen in the end times?

Who is the Antichrist?

Who or what are Gog and Magog?

What is the meaning of Revelation chapter 12?


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