Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
First Special End-Judgment: The Judgment upon Babylon, as a Heaven-picture. (Ch. 17)
General.—Babylon, in the wider sense of the term, is the entire anti-Godly world, conceived of in its concentration; Babylon, in the narrower sense of the term, is the secularized, ungodly and anti-Godly, external Church; a birth-place of Antichristianity, in which the Antichristian essence often appears very undisguisedly, though the Beast, Antichrist himself, does not manifest himself therein. Here, the reference is to Babylon in the narrower sense, and primarily in respect of the heavenly appearance of her judgment.
According to this Heaven-picture of the judgment, the horrible appearance of the Woman is itself the judgment. Conformably to her general appearance, she is the great Harlot (Rev 17:1, 2), i. e. the object and subject of idolatry, the patroness of, and seducer to, apostasy from the living God. Her appearance is presented in abominable contradictions: 1. A Woman in the wilderness of a seemingly holy renunciation of the world and asceticism, and yet riding, like an Amazon, upon a royally decorated Beast, a many-headed monster, marked with names of blasphemy. 2. The Woman in magnificent princely attire, with the golden cup in her hand—and yet in, and together with, the cup, abominations and uncleannesses of idolatry, and even bearing on her forehead, for all who are acquainted with spiritual characters, the following title: Babylon the Great, the mother of the fornications and abominations of the earth. 3. The Woman, claiming the purest womanliness, in the religious sense of the term (see Rev 12), drunken—with the blood of the saints; with the blood, even, of the martyrs of Jesus—of Jesus, Whose mother, sister, bride, she would fain be called.
The Beast on which she rides has also great contradictions attaching to it. 1. It was and is not. The ungodly world-power was and is not—is in principle annihilated by Christianity. 2. It is not, and it will ascend out of the abyss, to a new development of ungodly worldly glory in face of Christianity. 3. It will ascend, to the end that it may go down into perdition. 4. It is the hardest riddle to all the pious, the admiration of all the earthly-minded. 5. Its seven heads are seven mountains, which, however, are in reality identical with many ebbing and flowing waters. 6. It goes to destruction in the consecrated septenary of its kings, only to revive again in the profane decenary of kings. 7. It has long borne the Woman on its colossal body, and will at last destroy her with its ten horns. 8. The monstrous dividedness of the Beast is transformed into perfect unitedness in the warfare against the Harlot. 9. The Woman goes to destruction through the contradiction of her similarity to the Lamb and her affinity to the Beast.
Special.—[Rev 17:1.] Come, I will show thee the judgment of the great Harlot. Her appearance itself, therefore, is, primarily, her judgment. We are not to shun speaking of this judgment; but we must not interpret it rudely, in a manner offensive to the legal system of faith and worship. We have, therefore, to distinguish (1) between the Woman and the Beast which bears her; (2) between the symbolic form of the Woman, which embraces a symbolic Babylon, and her historic and most prominent organs and central points; (3) at the same time we are to recognize the fact that the corruption of the Church converges, more or less, to historic nodes, and is therein consummated. Babylon is everywhere in the Church, and yet is nowhere perfectly palpable; it, however, has its historic zenith-points. (Who, for instance, could refuse to reckon consummate Byzantinism, Mormonism and other sects based upon a pretension to inspiration, as forming portions of Babylon?)—As many Antichrists appear in the fore-ground of Antichristianity (1 John 2:18), so in the foreground of the consummate Babylon of the last time there are many Babylons, especially predominantly spiritual and predominantly secular figures of Babylon.—A leading mark of Babylon is the universal ruinous effect which proceeds from the very city which pretends to be and once was a teacher and educator of the nations; this effect is two-fold and in many respects antithetic: the seduction of kings to fanatical worldliness, and of nations to fanatical mock-holiness.—[Rev 17:2.] With whom the kings of the earth committed fornication. An old and yet in many respects new story. History points to a whole series of dynasties which have been ruined by fanaticism, or have at least been brought to the very verge of ruin.—History tells us of nations that have been made drunk, and that have, more or less, sunk into national ruin. Fallen or sunken Christian kingdoms in the East and West.—[Rev 17:3, 4.] The similarity and the difference between the picture of Rev 12 and that of the present chapter: 1. Between the phases of the Woman; 2. Between the phases of the wilderness; 3. Between the relative positions of the Woman and the Beast.—Contrast between the wilderness abode of the Woman and her luxury.—Contrast between her perilous equestrian seat, figuring a taming of the Beast, and her festal attire. (There is also a distinction between warboots—Eph. 6:15—and slippers.)—Contrast between the golden cup and the abominations contained in it.—[Rev 17:5.] The name on the forehead—manifest and yet a mystery.—The old antithesis: Babylon and Zion.—[Rev 17:6.] Amazement of John (see EXEG. NOTES).—Horror of the holy mind at a caricature of the holy.—Strange manifestation of unnaturalness in the corruptions of the Church.
Rev 17:8. How the earthly-minded are, by the terrible aspect of the Beast, kept in a state of dependence upon the Woman, as long as the latter sits upon the Beast.
Rev 17:9. Hither an understanding that hath wisdom. Profane learning can only misinterpret this enigmatical phenomenon.—The world-monarchies, see EXEG. NOTES.—Waverings of unredeemed humanity between the false unity of the world-monarchy and a dissipation into heathenism, barbarism, savageness.—Continuance of this wavering in the antithesis of the Hierarchy and separatism, absolutism and radicalism.—[Rev 17:12 ] The ten horns: Or the fall of religious absolutism is followed by the rule of an irreligious radicalism.—[Rev 17:13.] Demonic union of the ten horns. The principle of this union is to be found in their hatred of the Lamb, whose shadow they still persecute in the Woman.
Rev 17:14. The Lamb shall conquer them. Find the agreement between this and Rev 13:7. Of a conquest through [seeming] defeat, and a defeat through [seeming] conquest. What contrasts between the inner and the outer world, between the passing moment and the future, between seeming and being, are contained in the preceding paragraph.—The Beast as the conqueror of the Harlot, conquered by the Lamb.—Comp. the Old Testament prophecies against Babylon, especially Jer. 51.—Fearful mission of the ten kings (Rev 17:17).—[Rev 17:16.] Threefold judgment upon the Woman.—[Rev 17:12.] The Antichristian power lasts but one hour, i. e., a short time; but it is an hour in the theocratico-religious sense, a sore and painful hour of temptation [trial]. The union of the wicked occurs only in special moments of judgment and never, through an abolition of their inner egoistical division, attains to the oneness of the saints.
Rev 17:18. in relation to Rev 17:7. In Heaven, the unnatural appearance of the Woman is itself, already, “the judgment of the great Harlot.”
STARKE: Application of the judgment upon Babylon to the “idolatrous Church of the Papacy.” Reasons for this application: “the great magnificence and ostentation of this Church in the external worship of God; the blandishments and flatteries which it employs to draw people to itself, etc.” Fornication is interpreted as spiritual adultery, apostasy from Christ, the Husband of the Church. It is easy to learn who this Harlot is, from the description of her, and from her antithesis, the Bride of the Lamb. Her equestrian posture indicates that she derives her might and authority from the Beast and that she rules over it;—that she has arbitrarily subjected the Roman Empire to herself, has placed herself above emperors and kings, and has instated and deposed them. The crimson and bloody hue [of the Beast] is indicative of the bloodthirstiness excited in it by the persuasions of the Harlot.—[Rev 17:4.] Arrayed in purple and scarlet: purple, to indicate her usurped royal exaltation and pre-eminence above all potentates; and scarlet, to indicate her thirst for the blood of the saints. The true Church is resplendent only in the robe of Christ. There is nothing so abominable and unclean that it cannot be disguised and decorated with a tinsel of this world.
Rev 17:5. The whole essence of false religion is a mystery, but a mystery of iniquity and all godlessness (2 Thess. 2:7). As the mystery of Christ passes all understanding and incites to godliness, so the mystery of iniquity is conceived by pure serpent-cunning and contains nothing but deception; note, e.g., the miraculous power resident, as the Church of Rome pretends, in certain pictures and images, etc.—[Rev 17:6.] A leading mark of the false Church: pagan Rome, in the three centuries [of her existence subsequent to the Christian era], shed less blood, by far, than so-called Christian Rome. (Starke adduces the example of France, in particular.)
Rev 17:8. And yet is: This is not to be understood as referring to Antiochus himself or to such Antichristian regents as stood in the fiercest spirit of Antiochus (Hoffmann’s view?).
Rev 17:9. Understanding and wisdom are two different things. There may be understanding without wisdom, but there can be no wisdom without understanding.—(Starke mentions the seven mountains of Rome; he remarks, however, that the Apocalyptic seven mountains have also been interpreted as seven famous Popes.)
Rev 17:12. Marginal gloss, (Luther): These are the other kings,—for instance, of Hungary, Bohemia, Poland, France (!).—QUESNEL: The Lamb suffers and succumbs in His members, and the members, whilst they are oppressed, conquer in the Lamb (Rom. 8:37).
Rev 17:16. This verse is entirely subversive of the opinion that the Beast denotes the Pope.—Great cities, great sins; and by the example of such cities, whole countries are seduced (Jer. 23:15).
AUBERLEN (p. 317 [Eng. Trans.]): The fact that the Harlot is judged first, is not only in harmony with the general principle, that judgment must begin at the house of God (Jer. 25:29; Ezek. 9:6; 1 Pet. 4:17), but a restoration of actual truth is also designed. The object which, in effect, alone continues to exist—is recognized as existing—at the time indicated [the time of the judgment of the Harlot], is the world; for even the Church now courts only its favor, even for the Church it is the only reality. Against such a Church, the world must carry the day; and therefore the Harlot is not judged by the Lord Himself, but by the Beast and its kings.
GRAEBER: [Rev 17:5.] A mother of harlots is one who brings up others to harlotry.
Rev 17:6. It must needs be a subject of highest amazement that Christians, or those who pretend to be Christians, can reach such a pass.—[Rev 17:16.] The Catholic States will in great part themselves accomplish the work of the destruction of the papacy.
LAEMMERT (Das Thier und der falsche Prophet, p. 36): “The origin of Babel [Babylon] is related, Gen. 11. (comp. with Rev 10:8–12). This [Gen. 11.] is the same chapter which, in its second part, gives the genealogy of the chosen Shemite, Abraham, and closes by describing the exode of Terah and his family from Chaldea and their entrance into Canaan. Here, therefore, we already have the foundation and beginnings of that grand dualism which runs through the whole of the Sacred Writings and the entire history of mankind down to the consummation. The founder of Babel was a grandson of him who scoffed at his father, and his name was Nimrod, i. e., rebel. Human arrogance built the city and the tower, to make itself a name—not to the honor of God’s name; of its own strength and will—not at the behest of God. The inner motives were thoughts of arrogance, of the deification of man and of self.”
CHANTEPIE DE LA SAUSSAYE, De Toekomst, p. 117. Man kann zeggen, dat de grand der tegenstelling der beide rijken reeds ligt in de paradijs-belofte. Doch wat daar nog slechts in het allgemeen gen?md wordt het zaad der slang, etc., verkrijgt immer meer kleur en gestalte.
[From THE COMPREHENSIVE COMMENTARY.—The Lord takes pleasure in satisfying His people concerning the reason and equity of His judgments on His enemies; that they may not be intimidated by the severity of them, or fail to adore and praise Him on that account.—Great prosperity, pomp and splendor, commonly feed the pride and lusts of the human heart; yet they form no security against Divine vengeance.—Those who allure or tempt others to sin, must expect more aggravated punishment, in proportion to the degree of the mischief done by them. (SCOTT.)]
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:SECTION SIXTH
The Seventh Vial of Anger, or the Three Great End-Judgments
I.–FIRST SPECIAL END-JUDGMENT. JUDGMENT UPON BABYLON
A.—THE JUDGEMENT UPON BABYLON AS A HEAVEN-PICTURE, OR THE HEAVENLY PROPHECY OF THE FALL OF BABYLON
1And there came one of the seven angels which [who] had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me [om. unto me]1, Come [om. Come] Hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore [harlot] that sitteth upon [or ins. the]2 many waters; 2with whom the kings of the earth have [om. have] committed fornication, and the inhabitants of [they who inhabit] the earth have been [were]3made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So [And] he carried me away in the [om. the] spirit into the [a] wilderness: and I saw a woman sit [sitting] upon a scarlet colored [om. colored] beast [wild-beast], full of [or ins. the]3 names ofblasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was arrayed [clothed] in purple and scarlet color [om. color], and4 decked [gilded] with gold and precious stones [stone] and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness [the uncleannesses]5 of her fornication6: 5And upon her forehead was [om. was] a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF [ins. THE] HARLOTS AND [ins. OF THE] ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs [witnesses] of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration [wonder]. 7And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel [wonder]? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast [wild-beast] that carrieth [beareth] her, which [that] 8hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast [wild-beast] that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall [is about to (μέλλει)] ascend out of the bottomless [om. bottomless] pit [abyss] and [ins. to] go7 into perdition (ὰπώλειαν): and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were [of whom the name is] not written in [upon] the book [scroll] of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold [see] the beast [wild-beast] that [ins. he] was, and is not, and yet is [om. 9yet is—ins. shall be present]8. And [om. And] Here is the mind which [that] hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth 10[or where the woman sitteth upon them], [,] and there [om. there—ins. they] are seven kings: [ins. the] five are fallen, and [om. and—ins. the]9 one is, and [om. and] the other is not yet come; and when he cometh [is come], he must continue a short space [little while]. 11And the beast [wild-beast] that was, and is not, even he10 is the [an] eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 12And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which [who] have [ins. not yet]11 received no [om. no—ins. a] kingdom as yet [om. as yet]; but [ins. they] receive power [authority] as kings one hour [ins. together] with the beast [wild-beast]. 13These have one mind (γνώμη), and shall [om. shall] give their power and strength [authority] unto the beast [wild-beast]. 14These shall make [om. make] war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome [conquer] them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are [om. are] called, and chosen, and faithful. 15And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore [harlot] sitteth,are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. 16And the ten horns which thou sawest upon [om. upon—ins. and]12 the beast [wild-beast], these shall hate the whore [harlot], and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn [consume] her with [or in]13 fire. 17For God hath [om. hath] put in [gave into] their hearts to fulfill [perform] his will [mind (γνώμη)], and to agree [perform one mind (ποιῆσαι μίαν γνώμην)]14, and [ins. to] give their kingdom unto the beast 18[wild-beast], until the words15 of God shall be fulfilled [finished]. And the woman which [that] thou sawest is that [the] great city, which [that] reigneth [hath kingdom] over the kings of the earth.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
When we say: the fall of Babylon as a Heaven-picture, we mean, the fall of Babylon sub specie æterni, or, in other words, the phenomenon of Antichristianity in the Church, in all its historical bearings, illuminated by the light of revelation and designated for judgment by the rule of Divine Providence.
We must, above all, keep fast hold of the following points: 1. That the Babylon here spoken of, the Harlot, is to be distinguished from the general Babylon (Rev 16:19), and yet that it coincides with the latter as its first [last?]16 historical culmination. 2. That the Beast which bears the Harlot is identical with the Beast out of the sea (Rev 13), as the peculiar antitheocratic and Antichristian organ of Satan; that, however, it here comes under consideration provisionally in a special aspect only, as bearing the Woman for a time, and, finally, judging her. Hence, also, the history of the Beast is more special here than in Rev 13. In the latter passage, Rev 17:3, one of his heads is mortally wounded; here, the whole Beast disappears for a time (Rev 17:8).17 3. That the heads and horns of the Beast here resolve themselves into a special history consisting of two parts—a history which must by no means be confounded with the history of the Beast presented in Rev 13.
That we are still in the sphere of the seventh Vial of anger is manifest, in the first place, from the bare fact that one of the seven Angels who had the Vials, shows the Seer the judgment of the great Harlot. The latter is preliminarily signalized by two marks: 1. She sits upon many waters; she is an authority based upon many nationalities, many national dispositions, peculiarities and currents. 2. With her the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and they who inhabit the earth have become drunk with the wine of her fornication. She herself has become for the kings of the earth, of earthly states and seats of culture, an idol, a subject of idolatry which has seduced them to a thousand-fold apostasy from the laws of religion, humanity, truth and righteousness; and not only have they departed from the true God and served false gods in company and connection with her, but they have also done the same independently, as her followers and imitators. They have, however, in many respects been swept along in this direction by those who inhabit the earth—by absolute hangers-on of the soil and of authority, who have become intoxicated in the fanatical enthusiasm of the bigotry of the world.
The Angel takes the Seer in spirit into a wilderness. Here, it seems, we a while ago left the Woman, once clothed with the sun (Rev 12). And such is indeed the fact: it is the same wilderness, and not the same; the same Woman, and not the same. History sufficiently instructs us concerning the fact that the holy wilderness of world-renunciation, of asceticism, which so long guarded the integrity of the Woman, became in course of time a wilderness of spiritual and intellectual moral corruption—that the heavenly flight from the world was changed into a demonic seeking of the world, embodied in the wild career of false monks—that a wilderness of hypocrisy, pia fraus, fanatical terrorism and demoralizing dogmas of all kinds was gradually developed. But the Woman—is she, indeed, the same? Those who cannot understand how the one Woman (Rev 12) can in the course of time have divided into the two figures of the Harlot and the Bride, should consider the fact that the wheat and the chaff grow on the same ear; that the same Theocracy which, in respect of its internal essence, bore Christ, also crucified Him, in respect of its external hierarchical figuration; and that thus the development of the Harlot and the Bride has not been effected in two separate lines, but in an original organic unity, in which the contrast has been continually maturing (see the foot-note on p. 25).
The following considerations now successively demand our attention:
1. The Woman and her relation to the Beast.
2. The Beast in his relation to the seven Heads.
3. The seven Heads in relation to the ten Horns.
1. The Woman and her relation to the Beast.
That the Woman here depicted is significant of the fallen Church there can be no doubt, when we consider the import of the Woman (the congregation of God) and of womanhood (religiosity)—(see Rink, p. 238 sqq.). The exclusive reference of this figure to pagan Rome fails to recognize, in the first place, the broad scope of the eschatological vision; secondly, the fact that even in the time of Domitian, and far more in the time of Nero, it would have been impossible for the Apocalyptist to speak of Roma as cherishing a true Antichristian thirst for the blood of the saints. Thirdly, such a reference misapprehends the idea of Antichristianity, which takes its rise only in corrupt Christianity. From these considerations it will also be evident, first, that not simply the fallen Romish Church, Rome, is here intended;—this is the further from being the fact since imperial Rome has been transferred to Byzantium and its centre of gravity has been thence removed to Moscow and St. Petersburg; moreover, the hierarchical principle radiates far and wide throughout the Church. It is also further evident, however, that nothing but Christian Rome can constitute the symbolical and historical apex of this whole body of the fallen Church. The Muscovite hierarchism is too rude to be this apex; sporadic hierarchism too theoristic; the mean lies where hierarchism is in its whole demonic depth. Nevertheless, we regard the seven mountains whereon the Woman sits, as but an allusion to terrestrial Rome, it being agreeable to the consistency of the Book to take the seven mountains as a symbolical figure, of which we must speak further on. The Seer declares that he wondered much to see the Woman as he saw her. We apprehend this utterance in the same sense with those expositors who have assigned the contrast of this figure with the appearance in Rev 12 as the ground of the Seer’s wonderment. In the earlier passage, we behold a celestial Woman, clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, adorned with a garland of chosen stars, equipped with eagle’s wings. Here we have a Harlot, riding or sitting upon a scarlet Beast, a Beast signalized with the hue of blood and blood-thirstiness (into which the fiery hue of the Dragon has darkened), and thus herself founded upon the Beast and its blood-thirstiness, i. e., upon an Antichristian world-power and bloody violence. The Beast is full of the names of blasphemy—there is no form of irreligion which is not comprehended in the absolute Machiavelism of world-monarchy: religious persecution, contempt of humanity, despotism over consciences, breach of promise, a doctrinal system of faithlessness—and the like—are some of the first articles. The incongruence of the seven Heads and ten Horns is brought into view here likewise, in order to the signalizing of the power indicated, as possessing the semblance, and but the semblance, of holiness. On this demonic Beast the poor Woman has prepared her a sort of throne for her exaltation; no longer is the moon beneath her feet—vanished are the stars of elect spirits, and the eagle-wings. She herself is clothed with a party-colored double red—with the royal hue of purple and the scarlet of blood—and over this is spread the sheen of gold brocade, of precious stones and pearls, the richest worldly adornment of every sort. In her band the Woman holds the magical means of her dominion and glory, the golden cup, the symbolical vessel of consecrate and holy communion, solace and refreshment—but full of abominations; and, together with the cup, the uncleannesses of the fornication, i. e., the idolatry, of the earth—i. e., all those iniquities that follow in the train of idolatry. The abominations denote all manner of unnaturalnesses; the uncleannesses of the fornication of the earth are all those immoralities which are the consequential issues of the earth’s departure from the true God and its service of false divinities. On her forehead she has a name written as a mystery; i. e., whoever is able to read the name, will read the following inscription: Babylon the Great, the Mother of the Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth. She herself knows not that her proper escutcheon—absolute sovereignty over the consciences of earth—means only this, and can mean nothing else. Most repulsive is her appearance: A drunken woman! Through fanaticism intoxicated to the verge of frenzy! Drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus! Blood-guiltiness produces excitement, confusion of the mind; and this remark applies in the fullest sense to that blood-guiltiness whose measure is filled up in the persecution and destruction of the holiest witnesses of God and Christ. Grotius depicts this phenomenon with drastic vividness, like a Dutch genre-picture: Vidit eam ore rabido, despumante et evomente sanguinem, ut ebrii solent.—But now arises the question—how can the Beast lend himself to bear the Woman, when it is declared that the ten Horns and the Beast shall hate the Harlot and make her desolate (Rev 17:16)? The weight of the future tense must be observed here. At first the Beast is subject to the Woman, for it is the Woman who helped the Beast out of his apparent annihilation. The absolutism of the hierarchy has promoted the growth of the absolutism of despotism. Finally, however, there is a reversal of the relation, the Beast having made a pupil of the Woman’s, the False Prophet, subservient to himself; and in the end it is the deep-lying antagonism between the demonic ground-forms of the two [the Woman and the Beast] which gives occasion to the full outbreak of hostility and the destruction of the Woman—possibly in a conflict in which the Beast will prove himself more human than the Harlot.
The Seer marvels to see the Woman in this situation—or, let us rather say, to see her again. According to the speech of the Angel, that which most surprises John is her fellowship with the Beast, her riding upon him—this most horrible Amazon-equipment. Hence the answer of the Angel [to John’s wonderment] has in view an explanation of the origin of this mystery of the fellowship of the Woman and the Beast. The utterance runs thus: The Beast was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the abyss, in order to go speedily into damnation.18 This declaration [of the Beast’s vanishment and re-appearance] is, certainly, a parallel to the mortal wounding of a head of the Beast (Rev 13:3), but it must be distinguished from the declaration concerning the king who “is not yet come” (Rev 17:10). The wounding of the Beast’s head is the cause, the disappearance of the Beast the result; the return of the Beast is the transition from the seventh to the eighth head. For at that very moment of the vision [not the moment depicted by the vision, but the time at which the vision was vouchsafed.—TR.], the Beast was not—he seemed to have vanished—whilst the sixth king was in being. We, therefore, understand the declaration of the Angel as of the following import: The Antichristian world-power was in being before Christ; it then seemed, for a period reaching to the time of the vision, to be annihilated by the victory of Christ—as indeed it was principially annihilated; it however was to return later as an external apparent power. And it was as the returned Beast that the Beast carried the Woman, for in that interval of his vanishment it was only in the saintly seeming of subserviency to the Woman that he could make his appearance again. But, again, it was also his wonderful re-appearance which induced the Woman to trust herself to him. From the wonder of all people dwelling upon the earth at the apparent invincibility of the Beast—that is, from the renewed belief in the irresistible power of evil—the complete fall of the Woman resulted—the vain fancy that with the help of the Beast, with the help of ungodly and God-opposed state-maxims, she might attain to greatness and ever-increasing glory. Hence this unblest concordat in which, for a long time, the Woman seems to rule the Beast, until she is finally deposed and destroyed by him.
2. The Beast in his relation to the seven Heads.
Hither [let] understanding [come]. The mystery which the Angel here pronounces can be solved only through the union of worldly understanding [or an understanding of the world—Weltverstand] and spiritual wisdom. In the application of this problem to the Nero tradition, there would certainly have been no wisdom; at most, it could only have contained such an understanding as the Apocalyptist would have declared to be devoid of wisdom. To proceed, the seven Heads of the Beast are seven mountains, on which the Woman sits, and are seven kings. Here our task is, to abide by the laws of symbolism and not take a leap into geography, although we assume that there is an allusion to the City of the Seven Hills. Neither is it advisable to regard the sentence, and are seven kings, as tautological. As in the Book of Daniel, the world-monarchies (Rev 2) are, in respect of their bright side, represented in the human image of metal, and (Rev 7) in respect of their dark side, in the four beasts, so there is also here, doubtless, an antithesis to be taken for granted. The seven mountains are seven forms of empire—in the sacred number, because the State, taken in the abstract, is subservient to the purposes of the Divine Kingdom. The kings, however, seem here, in accordance with chs. 17:2 and 18:3, as despots, to represent the dark side of the world-monarchy, its God and Christ-opposed conduct—hence, pre-eminently, its bestial nature. The reference is not to individual kings; such a reference is impossible on this account, if for no other reason, viz.: because the kings must be in exact correspondence with the seven mountains. Otherwise the Apocalyptist must necessarily have seen fourteen heads, for, in accordance with the laws of allegory, the heads cannot denote two entirely different groups—the seven mountains as diverse from the seven kings. We reckon once more, therefore, the four world-monarchies of Daniel and add to them the Roman-Herodian government as the fifth monarchy. The sixth king is the Roman Empire at the time of the vision, and the Seer proleptically beholds the coming of a seventh, a world-monarchy, on which the Woman can ride for a short time. Then the Beast that was, and is not, again undisguisedly appears. In the seventh king it was, to a greater or less extent, the still anonymous bearer of the Woman; in the eighth, which issues from all the seven, as their evil extract, it will become the open enemy and destroyer of the Woman, and then, when it has fulfilled its judicial mission, it will go into perdition.
3. The Seven Heads and the Ten Horns.
The ten horns are distinct from the seven heads; they seem finally, however, to be comprehended together above the eighth head (eight is the number of the world), in which the Beast manifests himself again openly. The number ten is the number of the ripe development of the world, in antithesis to the number seven as the number of complete Divine order. And so, also, the horns denote bare power or force, in antithesis to the heads which symbolize the government of intelligence. They, therefore, together with the eighth king-picture from the life of the Beast, issue forth as ten kings of abstract power, as absolute radicalism. They had hitherto not yet received a kingdom; now they obtain, for one hour, complete imperial power in the world together with the Beast. This hour is, again, the great and fear-inspiring hour of the decisive conflict between open Antichristianity and the hypocritically disguised Antichristianity of the Woman. The ten kings rule, not successively, but conjointly; they are also not real kings, but mock-kings (ὠς βασιλεῖς),19 and if they have one mind, it is but the spirit of Antichristian coalition. By the declaration: They shall war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall conquer them, etc., the finale is indicated—the judgment upon the Beast (Rev 19:19). But to what purpose this interruption here? It explains that hatred of the Woman which finally bursts forth in completeness. A bold change of allegorical images is visible in the first and third verses, where the same Woman is spoken of as sitting upon many waters, and as sitting in the wilderness. Here [Rev 17:15] the reference is again to the waters on which the Harlot sits (and when we read: the waters which thou sawest, this inaccuracy reminds us of similar expressions in the Johannean Gospel). The sovereignty of the Harlot is based not only upon the wilderness and the Beast, but also, through these, upon the peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And she becomes in the end, by means of the semblance of Christocracy that clings to her, an object of hatred to the ten Horns and the Beast. She is destroyed by four principal strokes. In the first place, she is wasted, desolated: an allusion to the Harlot as a city, or to her false eremite estate. Secondly, she is stripped, exposed in her nakedness, a frequently cited punishment of courtesans, whose meretricious adornment has been a means of seduction. Thirdly, she is, while still living, robbed of her flesh, which her enemies devour: her goods, her territories, all her possessions become the prey of the foe. And fourthly, she is, in a sarcastic auto da fé, suggestive of so many like proceedings, burned with fire; amid the wrath-fire of open, bold Antichristianity, hypocritical Antichristianity meets its end.—For God gave into their hearts. As, in accordance with the grand view of the Seer, in the wrath of the heathen, the wrath of God is manifest in an ironical mode of judgment, so in the one mind and unanimity of these kings, the purpose of God is visible, and in the surrender of their kingdom to the Beast, the consummation of the prophetic words of God may be seen, as in that dark hour when Caiaphas and Pilate were made to subserve His Providence (John 11:51, 19:11). The Angel at the close comprehends the characteristics of the Woman in one expression: The Woman that thou sawest is the great city that hath kingdom over the kings of the earth. In the Woman, Great Babylon shall be judged specially as Babylon.
[ABSTRACT OF VIEWS, ETC.]
By the American Editor.
[ELLIOTT:20 This chapter contains a vision (Rev 17:3–6), and a descriptive statement by the Angel (Rev 17:7–18); both the vision and statement are introductory to the judgment upon Babylon, and explanatory of its causes and reasonableness. In the Vision, the Woman represents Papal Rome; the Beast, the Roman Empire under its last or Papal head (see p. 259); the desert, the Roman Campagna. The period of time contemplated in the vision is the 1260 years of the Beast’s life under his last head (p. 260).—In the description, the Angel contemplates the entire history of both the Woman and the Beast—the former representing Rome, Imperial and Papal (see Rev 17:18); the latter (identical with the Beast from the sea of Rev 13), the Roman Empire under all its heads or forms. (It is on the ground of the general nature of this description that Elliott denies that the burning of Rev 17:16 is the final burning foretold in Rev 18:8. He explains the destruction referred to in the former instance as preceding the vision—as that effected by the ten Gothic powers in the Fifth and Sixth centuries. These horns of the Beast (p. 260) then spoiled and burned the City, and so desolated the surrounding Campagna as to produce the ἕπημος or desert, in the midst of which Papal Rome arose, and in which (Rev 17:3) the vision was located).—The riding of the Woman on the Beast (Rev 17:3) symbolizes that the Western Papal Empire, as a whole, with the power of its ten secular kingdoms and many peoples, should uphold and be ruled by Papal Rome.—The double character of the Woman, as a Harlot with the ten kings and a tavern-hostess vending drugged wines to the common people (Rev 17:1, 2, 4), symbolizes her unholy alliance with the former, and her unholy and corrupting traffic (in indulgences, relics, transubstantiation-cup, etc.) with the latter.—The adornment of the Harlot (Rev 17:4) presents, “as applied to the Romish Church, a picture characteristic and from the life; the dress coloring specified being distinctively that of the Romish ecclesiastical dignitaries, and the ornaments those with which it has been bedecked beyond any Church called Christian.”—The word Mystery, Rev 17:5 (allusive to the mystery of iniquity, 2 Thess. 2:7, 8), “was once, if we may repose credit on no vulgar authority, written on the Pope’s tiara.”21—The title “Mother of harlots, etc.,” is a parody of the title, “Rome, Mother and Mistress.”—The drunkenness with the blood of saints, Rev 17:6, symbolizes the martyr blood shed by Rome throughout the 1260 years of her prosperity.
BARNES: This chapter commences a more detailed description of the judgment inflicted on the Antichristian power referred to in Rev 16; it contains a description of the sequel of the seventh Vial, which is continued (in various forms) to the close of Rev 19; it embraces the following: 1. Introduction, Rev 17:1–3; 2. A particular description of this Antichristian power, Rev 17:3–6; 3. An explanation of what is meant by the Woman, and of the design of the representation, which comprises (1), a promise of the Angel that he would explain; (2) an enigmatical representation of the design of the vision (containing a description of the Beast, etc.), Rev 17:8–14; (3) a more literal statement of what is meant by this, Rev 17:15–18.—The Harlot symbolizes Papal Rome; her adornment, fornication, cup, drunkenness, many waters, substantially as Elliott; her inscription, see EXPL. IN DETAIL, Rev 17:6.—The Beast is identical with that of Rev 13:1, and designates the Roman power (see p. 260)—the period of the vision being that of the Eighth or Papal head and the ten horns, or ten subordinate kingdoms22—viz.: the 1260 years of Papal supremacy.—The destruction of Rev 17:16, 17, is the final destruction of Rev 18:8, to be effected by the instrumentality of the ten secular powers who now uphold and are governed by the Harlot.—The ἕρημος, Rev 17:3, is the Roman Campagna.23
STUART: Ch. 17 is wholly occupied with an explanatory vision designed for the purpose of making the reader understand whose destruction is going on.—The Woman symbolizes the City of Rome, “altogether in the manner of the Old Testament prophets, who everywhere personify great cities by women.”—“The Beast means the Roman Emperors, specifically Nero, of whom the report spread throughout the empire is (was) that he will revive, after being apparently slain, and will come as it were from the abyss or Hades; but he will still perish, and that speedily. The Beast symbolizes him of whom it is said, that all the world will wonder at and worship him, when they see him thus returned, as they suppose from the under-world” (see also p. 261).—The ten horns denote the subordinate and tributary kings of the empire, who unite with the Beast in persecuting the Church.
Rev 17:16 indicates “that tyrants like Nero, and persecutors such as his confederates, would occasion wasting and desolation to Rome, even like that already inflicted by Nero, who had set Rome on fire and consumed a large portion of it. In a description so highly figurative as the one before us, nothing more seems to be necessarily meant.”—The ἕρημος of Rev 17:3, is “appropriate to symbolize the future condition of the Beast.”
WORDSWORTH. The views of this commentator concerning the Woman and her session upon the Beast, coincide generally with those of Elliott and Barnes.—For his interpretation of the Beast and the heads, see p. 261.—By the horns he understands “the kingdoms growing out of the Roman Empire at its dismemberment.”—The ἕρημος, he declares, may indicate the Campagna, pagna, or the moral wilderness in which Rome is situate, or both.—The destruction of Rev 17:16 he interprets as Barnes.
ALFORD. This commentator also adopts the generally accepted Protestant hypothesis (that advocated by Elliott and Barnes) concerning the Woman, her adornment, fornication, session upon the Beast, etc.—For his interpretation of the Beast and the seven heads, see pp. 261 sq.—Concerning the eighth head he writes: “This eighth, the last and worst phase of the Beast, is not represented as any one of his heads, but as being the Beast himself in actual embodiment. He is ἐκ τῶν ἑπτά, not ‘one of the seven,’ but the successor and result of the seven, following and springing out of them. And he εἰς ἀπώλειαν ὑπάγει—does not fall like the others, but goes on and meets his own destruction at the hand of the Lord Himself. There can be little doubt in the mind of the student of prophecy, who is thus described; that it is the ultimate Antichristian power, prefigured by the little horn in Daniel, and expressly announced by St. Paul, 2 Thess. 2:3 sqq.”—He interprets the ten horns as “ten European powers, which, in the last time, in concert with and subjection to the Antichristian power, shall make war against Christ. In the precise number and form here indicated, they have not yet arisen.”—He regards the destruction as the final destruction mentioned Rev 18.
LORD: It is apparent from Rev 17:1, 2, that the Woman had been beheld in a previous but unrecorded vision, sitting where there were seven mountains and many waters. The scene was the site of Rome; the seven mountains were the seven hills of that city, and were symbols of the seven kinds of rulers who had exercised the government of the ancient empire; the waters were symbols of the peoples, etc., of the empire; the Woman symbolized the nationalized hierarchies of the Apostate Church, and the actions ascribed to her show that the kings of the earth united with her in her idolatry.—The vision exhibited (Rev 17:3–6) and the explanation (Rev 17:7–18) represent the Woman in her relations to the rulers, first as her supporters, and finally as her destroyers.—The Beast on which the Woman was borne, was, and is not, and yet is: it was, as the successions of rulers of the ancient empire, which its heads symbolize, had been; it is not, as a government of a head is no longer exercised over the empire as anterior to its fall; and yet it still is, in an eighth form, inasmuch as the cotemporaneous kings who now reign over the kingdom into which it is divided exert a sway essentially the same—they are a combination of rulers and under their several governments one, by exercising their authority on the same principles and on the same authority as the seventh head, and in that respect they are an eighth appropriately symbolized by the same monster under the horns.24—The names of blasphemy symbolize the arrogation by the rulers of the rights of God, in assuming to dictate the faith and worship of their subjects, legislating over Divine laws, making their will the reason that they are to offer worship, etc.—The session of the Woman on the Beast denotes that the combination of hierarchies whom she symbolizes is nationalized and established by the civil rulers.—The destruction of Rev 17:16 has already begun in the disallowance and scorn of the claims of the Established Church in most of the European States, the confiscation of her property in France, the conquest of the Papal States, etc.; and these judgments are to be carried on to a greater severity
GLASGOW. This writer adopts the generally accepted Protestant view that the Woman symbolizes Rome ecclesiastical.—The Beast he identifies with the Beast of Rev 13:1, and the Dragon of Rev 12 (see p. 263), and regards it as symbolizing, in its entirety, the world-power, and at the period contemplated by the vision, the Roman Empire in and after the fall of the Western Empire, A. D., 493.—The heads have here a double symbolization; they are: 1. Seven mountains, i. e., the seven forms of government through which the Beast (since his emergence from the sea, Rev 13:1) has passed, viz.: (1) the state of ten horns represented in Italy for a time by Odoacer and Theodoric, (2) the government of Justinian in the West, (3) the Kingdom of the Lombards, (4) that of Pepin and Charlemagne, (5) that of Otho the Great, (6) that of Charles V., (7) that of the Emperors after Protestantism obtained political equality, A. D. 1555; 2. Seven kings, i. e., the original kingdoms out of which the Roman power rose, as on p. 242.—The horns he interprets as Elliott, see p. 259.—The session on the Beast he interprets as Elliott and Protestant interpreters generally.—The period of the vision he places in the latter part of the effusion of the seventh Vial; the Woman “is revealed to view in the same condition in which she has existed for a long period.”
Rev 17:16 foretells the assaults that have from the era of the Emperors been made, from time to time, upon the Romish Church, to result in a complete destruction.
AUBERLEN: This chapter describes the Harlot and the Beast, ripe for judgment. (For the views of this writer concerning the Woman and the Beast, generically considered, and the wilderness, see pp. 243 sq., and 263 sq.). The Harlot is identical with the Woman of Rev 12, who symbolizes the Church of God in the world; she is the Church conforming to the world. The identity is established by, 1. The place where she is seen, the wilderness, comp. 12:6, 14; 17:3. 2. The fact that the same expressions are used in chs. 12 and 17 for wilderness and Woman (ἔρημος and γυνή). 3. The fact that the Beast in the two chapters is identical;—but Beast and Woman are in both placed in immediate connection; if the identity of the one is conceded, how is it possible to doubt that of the other?25 4. The expression used by the Seer: “When I saw her I wondered:”—the wonder finds its only explanation in the extraordinary change which had passed over the Woman; the impression made on John may be expressed by the words of Isaiah (1:21): “How is the faithful city become a harlot!” 5. The reason which lies in the expressions: Harlot (17:1, 5, 15, 16; 19:2), to commit fornication (17:2; 18:3, 9), fornication (14:8; 17:2, 4; 18:3; 19:2); Woman means the Church (see on p. 243); Harlot throughout both Testaments the Apostate Church, comp. Jer. 2, 3; Ezek. 16, 23; Hos. 1–3; Matt. 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38; Rev. 2:21. 6. The objective parallelism between Babylon and New Jerusalem; both are cities—the one a harlot, the other a bride (17:1, 3, 5; 21:9); but as the latter is acknowledged to mean the transfigured Church, it follows that Babylon means the Church in its worldliness. 7. The contrast in 19:2, 9, between the Harlot and the Wife of the Lamb. 8. The word Mystery on the forehead of the Harlot (Rev 17:5); this word warns us not to adopt a literal, but to look for a spiritual interpretation of those which follow, an interpretation to which we may be guided by Eph. 5:31, 32.—The word Harlot describes the essential character of the false Church; she retains her human form, remains a woman, does not become a beast—she has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof (2 Tim. 3:8). Her adultery “appears in its proper form when she wishes herself to be a worldly power, uses politics and diplomacy, makes flesh her arm, uses unholy means for holy ends, spreads her dominions by sword or money, fascinates the hearts of men by sensual ritualism, allows herself to become ‘Mistress of ceremonies’ to dignitaries of this world, flatters prince or people, the living or the dead—in short, when she, like Israel of old, seeks the help of one worldly power against the danger threatening from another;” it appears in a less gross form (comp. Matt. 5:28) “whenever she forgets that she is in the world, even as Christ was in the world, as a bearer of the cross and pilgrim, that the world is crucified to her and judged, whenever she regards the world as a reality and lusts after its power and pleasures.” “Herein consists the essence of whoredom, in leaning and listening, and conforming to, and relying on the world. Hence, there could not be a better description of it than that given, 17:3, 7, 9; the Woman sits on the Beast.”26 (See also below). —The Harlot cannot be found exclusively either in the Romish Church, or in the Established State Churches. Christendom (the Church) as a whole, in all its manifold manifestation of sects, is the Harlot; the boundaries between Woman and Harlot are not denominational—true believers are hidden and dispersed, the invisible Church is within the visible, as the kernel within the shell;27 nevertheless it is true that the Roman and Greek Churches are in a more peculiar sense the Harlot, than the evangelical Protestant. “The Roman Catholic Church is not only accidentally and de facto, but in virtue of its very principle, a harlot, … whereas the Evangelical (Protesta ***) Church is, according to her principle and fundamental creed, a chaste woman; the Reformation was a protest of the Woman against the Harlot.”—As yet the mystery of Babylon is not fully developed. Bengel was probably correct in his expectation that Rome will once more rise to power; it is probable that the Greco-Russian Catholicism will likewise become of importance; the adulterous, worldly elements, in all churches and sects, lean towards that false Catholicism, and pave the way for its progress;—and thus may it attain again to power.—In like manner as the Woman, the Beast also appears in this chapter in a shape other than before; the deadly wound (13:3) is healed (see Extracts from Auberlen in foot-notes, pp. 263 sq.)—he recovers life and returns, but now not only from the sea (13:3), but out of the abyss (17:8), whence he has drawn new Anti-christian strength of Hell; he is now scarlet-colored, a symbol of his blood-guiltiness; the names of blasphemy formerly on his heads (13:1) now cover his whole body, as a sign that his opposition to God is now to manifest itself perfectly; the crowns which were formerly on the horns (17:3) have now disappeared.28 In such manner the Antichristian Kingdom comes into existence;—“a new kingdom in which all the Beast’s opposition to God is concentrated, and raised to a power such as it had had never before; therefore we read of an eighth, which proceeds from the seven (17:11), and is the full manifestation of the beast-nature.” The final apostasy will consist in the union of the pseudo-Christian and Antichristian elements, which the Apocalypse expresses by the Harlot sitting on the Beast;29 this alliance likewise appeared in the concluding period of the Old Testament—apostate Israel, which was then the Harlot, formed an alliance with the heathen world-power against Jesus and His Apostles, see Luke 23:12; Acts 17:5, 9.—The abominations committed by the Jews, drew down the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, that is the judgment of the Harlot by the Beast (Dan. 9:26, 27)—an exact parallel to the future judgment set forth in Rev 17:16, 17.—The judgment on the Harlot has already begun; see extract in foot-note (first column), p. 264.—E. R. C.]
EXPLANATIONS IN DETAIL
Rev 17:1, 2. One of the seven, etc.—Which, is not to be determined, though the judgment upon Babylon in the narrower sense is indicated under the fourth Vial of anger.—Hither, δεῦρο (comp. Rev 21:3).—The reference is not to a local motion, but to a certain direction of the contemplation in accordance with the guidance of the Angel.— I will show unto thee the judgment.—“The fulfillment of the promise is not found immediately in Rev 17:3 (contrary to the opinion of Hengstenberg), nor is it contained at all in Rev 17” (Düsterdieck). It is doubtless, however, the idea of the Angel that John must already be able to see the judgment in this appearance of this Woman—ch. 17 being the judgment in a Heaven-picture, and Rev 18 the same in an Earth-picture.—Of the great harlot.—Pagan Rome, according to Düsterdieck. The following description is simply inappropriate to this conception.—That sitteth [Lange: is enthroned] upon many waters.—Pagan Rome did indeed reign over many peoples, but its throne did not rest upon the superstition of those peoples (Jer. 51:13 does not apply here). Still more forcibly does the following pronounce against the application of the passage to pagan Rome.—[Rev 17:2]. With whom the kings of the earth committed fornication.—Pagan Rome did not allure the kings of the earth by blandishments; she destroyed them. There is one case—that of Antony and Cleopatra—which might be recommended, as a make-shift, to the “historical interpretation,” but even there the genders would have to be reversed before it could properly be regarded as applicable.—And they who inhabit the earth were made drunk, etc.—Not even this could be said, with reference to pagan Rome, either of the Spaniards, or of the Britons, or of the Germans, or of the Parthians, or of the Jews.
Rev 17:3. And he carried me away in spirit.—This is to be understood only of a change effected in the ecstatic direction of the spirit [of the Seer]. “The confounding of this wilderness with that mentioned in Rev 12:6, 14—a proceeding which, on account of the lack of the article is, even from a mere formal point of view, properly impossible—is in Auberlen’s case connected with his view of the identity of the Harlot of Rev 17 and the Woman of Rev 12”30 DUESTERDIECK. Most certainly, the ascetic wilderness in which Jesuitism has its being is, spiritually, utterly diverse from the wilderness of Saint Anthony, and yet the two stand in the relation of historic continuity, and, hence, external unity. In like manner, the relation of the Harlot to the Woman is determined. According to Düsterdieck, et al., the Woman is seen in the wilderness because of the desolation imminent upon her in accordance with Rev 17:16! The symbolical interpretation of the wilderness is abundantly illustrated both by the Old and the New Testaments (Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, etc.); we must, therefore, wonder at the perverted interpretations of it (Bengel: Europe, especially Italy; other interpretations, see in Düsterdieck, p. 506). The fact that the same Woman who here sits in the wilderness, is subsequently represented as sitting on many waters, must necessarily give trouble to the “historical interpretation.”—And I saw a Woman sitting upon a scarlet Beast.—De Wette and Züllig embellish the Beast with a scarlet covering. The Beast must wear the color of blood (Andr., Lyra, et al.), just as the Dragon wears the color of flame, which is allied to blood-color. The Woman’s attire is variegated; together with the blood-color, the honorable hue of purple appears. In general, the Beast of the present passage is identical with that of Rev 13; observe, however, the formal distinction that in the latter passage the Beast is spoken of in its general, world-historical shape, whilst here the primary and special reference is to it in its re-appearance after its vanishment, as the bearer, at first, of the Harlot.—Full of the names of blasphemy.—The γέμον31 with the accusative is remarkable. Hebraizing: An emphatic expression: now filled up with writing; all the names of blasphemy. [“The names of blasphemy, which were found before on the heads of the Beast only (13:1), have now spread over its whole surface. As ridden and guided by the Harlot, it is tenfold more blasphemous in its titles and assumptions than before. The heathen world had but its Divi in the Cæsars as in other deified men of note; but Christendom has its ‘Most Faithful’ and ‘Most Christian’ kings, such as Louis XIV. and Philip II.; its ‘Defenders of the Faith,’ such as Charles II. and James II.; its society of unprincipled intriguers called after the sacred name of our Lord, and working Satan’s work ‘ad majorem Dei gloriam;’ its ‘holy office’ of the Inquisition, with its dens of darkest cruelty; finally its ‘Patrimony of St. Peter,’ and its ‘Holy Roman Empire;’ all of them, and many more, new names of blasphemy, with which the Woman has invested the Beast. Go where we will, and look where we will in Papal Christendom, names of blasphemy meet us. The taverns, the shops, the titles of men and places, the very insurance badges on the houses are full of them.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]
Rev 17:4. And gilded with gold and precious stone and pearls.—“The κεχρυσωμένη is zeugmatical” (Düsterdieck). Both precious stones and pearls, however, must have been set in gold. As a decoration of the Church, such an apparel rudely anticipates the adornment of the celestial congregation.—A golden cup.—Even the cup [Kelch=chalice] or goblet [Becher=beaker] would look very strange in the hand of pagan Rome. The cup is, apart from the symbolism of measure, here the symbol of fellowship; the golden cup symbolizes the holiest fellowship—the fellowship of salvation. But, filled with abominations, it is certainly akin to hypocrisy, as in accordance with Bede—a strange equivalent for the “poculum missaticum” (Calov.). According to Düsterdieck, the golden cup means merely a cup that is golden, agreeably to the “historical interpretation.” The accusative καὶ τὰ ἀκάθαρτα is remarkable. The most plausible construction of this is, apparently, that of Düsterdieck, who maintains that ἀκάθαρτα should be taken as parallel with the accusative ποτήριον. It contributes to the characterism of the Woman when it is intimated that together with the cup she has all sorts of other things in her hand—things which the Spirit of truth designates as uncleannesses, and which are the issue of the fornication, i.e., idolatry, of the earth. [“This language is probably taken from Jer. 51:7, ‘Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken; the nations have drunken of the wine, therefore the nations are mad.’ ” BARNES on 14:8.—E. R. C.]
Rev 17:5, 6. A name written.—The μυστήριον does not belong to the inscription, but it characterizes it—i. e., it is declaratory that the name Babylon and the rest of the title—the mother of the harlots and the abominations, etc.—is to be symbolically understood. [So also BARNES, STUART, et al. On the other hand, HENGSTENB., WORDSWORTH, ALF., et al. LILLIE thus powerfully combats the former, and advocates the latter view: “1. While the Apocalypse is full of μυστήριον, in no other instance does the narrator herald one as such. 2. Supposing the inscription to have included Μυστήριον, an explanation was thus formally invited which is furnished in Rev 17:7; and the interpreting Angel is then to be considered as taking up the very word, and as personally (ἐγώ) confronting the difficulty which it announced. 3. As the Angel uses it the term is attached not to the name, but to the Woman herself and her equipment. 4. In that reference it might very well characterize her origin, nature, history, and destination; graciously to know the evil—‘the depths of Satan’ (2:24)—‘the mystery of iniquity’ (2 Thess. 2:7)—this, not less than the knowledge of the good, requires heavenly teaching and ‘an unction from the Holy One’ (1 John 2:20). 5. Even if not intended thus to be itself descriptive of the Woman, Μυστήριον might yet stand in the inscription as a sort of prelude or index to her name, somewhat like̔Ωδε ἡ σοφία ἐστίν in Rev 13:18.”—E. R. C.]
BABYLON THE GREAT.—This symbolism is introduced as early as in Genesis, with the history of the building of the tower, and carried on especially by Isaiah and Jeremiah; this special Babylon, however, must not be identified with the general Babylon (Rev 14:8 and Rev 16:19), as is ordinarily done.—The MOTHER OF HARLOTS has also a more special import; the mother is reflected in spiritually, or rather fleshly, kindred daughters, some of whom compete with the mother in magical power. Grotius is correct in supposing that the aspect of the Woman must proclaim her drunkenness—and that a drunkenness with the blood of the saints, even the witnesses of Jesus (see SYN. VIEW). Prelusive examples of blood-thirstiness and its augmentations are to be found in the old pagan world; this blood-thirstiness, however, is fulfilled in the specific lusting of the Woman after the blood of the witnesses of Jesus, prefigured, it is true, by the death of Abel (see Matt. 23). [“The phraseology is derived from the barbarous custom (still extant among many pagan nations) of drinking the blood of enemies slain in the way of revenge. Here, then, the fury of the persecutors is depicted in a most graphic manner. Blood is drunk by them even to intoxication, i. e., copiously, in great quantities. The effect of drinking blood is said to be, to exasperate, and to intoxicate with passion and a desire of vengeance. But the copiousness of the draught, and so the extent and bitterness of persecution, is particularly marked by the expression here.” STUART.—E. R. C.]—And I wondered.—The Seer could hardly have expressed so great astonishment at the blood-thirstiness of pagan Rome—a quality long notorious and, proportionably, not so extraordinary. Bat this Woman! The Jewish hierarchy had, certainly, already nailed Christ to the cross. But that such a Woman could finally be the product of the historical development of the Church of faith then existent, must appear even to the Seer, with his knowledge of the world, a thing unheard of. Düsterdieck here reverts to Auberlen, stating that it is the opinion of the latter that the Seer marvels at recognizing in the Harlot the degenerate Woman of Rev 12:1. Düsterdieck calls this assumption an “egregious mistake.” Not even Auberlen, however, could have looked upon the Woman herself as the Harlot; that which he so regards, is but the Woman’s last historical representation—in antithesis to her internal essence, the finally emergent Bride.32 Similar utterances of amazement at the degeneracy of the Church are to be found even in the Old Testament, Is. 5:1 [sqq.], Jer. 2:1 [sqq.], Rev 18, Ezek. 16; Matt. 24:37, 1 Tim. 4., etc. According to Bengel, the Seer wondered at the phenomenon of so powerful a Beast being constrained to carry the Woman; according to Züllig, Düsterdieck, et al., he marvelled because he knew not the import of the phenomenon; according to Ebrard, his astonishment was occasioned by the change in the Beast which he had seen in Rev 13. According to Hengstenberg, who frequently makes a point, of discovering moral failings even in the visional moods of the Seer, the wonderment of John is censured as foolish. The object of astonishment is, doubtless, intelligible to the Seer—it is the contrast between the Woman and the Harlot; in regard to the origin and development of this contrast, however, he stands in need of enlightenment from the Angel. [The object of wonder is doubtless the complex mystery (the mysteries, for each object is in itself a mystery) concerning which the Angel gives an explanation, viz.: the Woman, the Beast, and their relation to each other. This is evident from the words of the Angel (Rev 17:7): Wherefore didst thou wonder? I will tell (explain to) thee the mystery, etc. The explanation extends through Rev 17:18.—E. R. C.] According to Düsterdieck, the Beast denotes the world-kingdom, and the Woman the world-city.
Rev 17:7. I will tell thee the mystery.—The mystery which he is to know, is the relationship betwixt the Woman and the Beast [see above]. How has it come to pass that the Woman could seat herself upon this terrible Beast? Or how is it that the wild-Beast suffered itself to be mounted by the Woman, like a gentle palfrey? In this query lies the key to the dark words that follow. The first explanation is contained in the history of the Beast.
Rev 17:8. The Beast … was, and is not, and is about to ascend out of the abyss.—The historic re-emergence of the world-power, spiritually wounded to death by Christianity—an event proleptically beheld by the Seer at a time when the Beast seemed to be really destroyed—serves as an occasion of offence and fall to the world and, consequently, to the majority of the men in whom the external and visible form of the Woman consists. The earthly-minded dwellers on the earth, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world—who, therefore, do not belong to the selection of the sealed—shall wonder when they see this apparent revival and gain of dominion on the part of the Beast. This is the history of the waning faith in the world-overcoming victory of Christ and the simultaneously waxing faith in the omnipotence of the world-power. It is the history of all who can see the Kingdom of God only in a tangible Church, a tangible salvation, a tangible Head of the Church—in a word, in external things. All of these have lost all heart for the powers of the world to come; through them, the Beast rises and the Woman descends, in a spiritual sense, or, in respect of outward appearance, the Woman is elevated on the back of the Beast—by means of a compromise between the two. [For an exposition of the Abyss, see Excursus, pp. 364 sqq—E. R. C.]
Rev 17:9. Herewith is connected the history of the Woman. It becomes intelligible only for the mind [Lange: understanding] that hath wisdom, the cultivated connoisseur of world-history, who views the same in the light of the Kingdom of God. The seven heads (of the Beast) are, primarily, seven mountains, on which the Woman sits. The fact that the Woman sits upon the seven mountains is, considered in and for itself, perfectly natural, for mountains are Divine political world-ordinances (see Rom. 13), and the seven mountains constitute the totality of the ground-forms of the political order of the world. But this natural conditionality of the Church upon worldly state ordinances becomes fatal from the fact that the seven mountains are at the same time seven kings, i. e., here, despotic powers; in other words, that the noble human image of metal (Dan. 2) has a reverse side, in accordance with which it is composed of four rapacious beasts. Through the despotism of the world-monarchies, the Woman is continually drawn more and more into the parallel path of hierarchism, and her character becomes more and more corrupt. [See ADD. NOTE, p. 317.—E. R. C.]
Rev 17:10. After the general history of the Beast and the Woman, the Angel gives the Seer a world-historical exposition of his stand-point in time. Five kings, i. e., world-monarchies, from a theocratic point of view, are fallen. The one is now subsisting—the sixth king, i. e., the sixth world-monarchy, behind which the Beast seems, for the instant, to be annihilated by young Christianity. This view was, assuredly, more entertainable by the Seer at the time of Nerva or even Domitian than at the time of Nero. The other king is the seventh world-monarchy, the future historico-Christian world-monarchy in a general apprehension, in so far as it, as Beast, bears the Woman upon its back. The Seer, from his distance, beholds, in perspective, the time of the seventh king on a reduced scale; he must continue a little while. Then, however, the whole Beast reappears in the eighth king in his true and undisguised nature. As Satan has embodied himself in the Beast, so the whole Beast, as the sum of all world-historic enormities, embodies itself in the eighth monarchy. Hence the Angel speaks of the eighth king as proceeding from the seven, as, in a sense, the unitous evil genius who was present in separate forms in all his seven predecessors. But because world-historical wickedness is, so to speak, concentrated and sublimated in this monarchy, finally being, as it were, embodied in the personal Antichrist (though the latter may branch into ten mock-kings), the stay of this eighth king is not long; he appears, he becomes an instrument of judgment upon the Woman, he goes into perdition. [See ADD. NOTES, pp. 272 sq., 304 and 317 sq.—E. R. C.]
Hengstenberg correctly regards the seven mountains as symbols of seven kingdoms; Düsterdieck, on the other hand, with others, understands by them Rome, the City of the Seven Hills. Irrespective of our admission of an allusion to Rome, we consider the symbolic apprehension of the mountains as, indubitably, the true one, though, notwithstanding this, a number of other features are decidedly suggestive of the City of the Seven Hills. On the literal interpretation of the seven kings, or world-monarchies, as referring to seven persons, see p. 26, and the exegesis of Rev 13; comp. Düsterd., p. 512 sqq.—Seven kings, this “historical,” i. e., literal, exposition [of Düst.] declares, are merely seven kings and nothing more. Why then may not the Beast be a real beast and nothing more? The different modes of enumerating the kingdoms, see in Düsterd., ibid.—The five are fallen.—This, it is maintained, means that they are dead—in total contradiction, to the use of terms. It maybe queried: why is the successor of the fifth king not called the sixth, and the seventh, the seventh? Probably because both these numbers are in an eminent sense symbolical; here, however, this symbolism must lie dormant. The sixth is, contrary to the nature of six, the better, behind whom the Beast seems to have vanished; and the seventh is the tame one [der Zahme, with reference to the taming of the wild Beast into a palfrey, so to speak, of the Woman.—TR.], in whom the Beast again appears. The expression, and is of the seven [Rev 17:11] is differently interpreted, as: the returning Nero (De Wette, et al.); the returning Antiochus Epiphanes (Hofmann); a descendant of the seven (Primas., et al.). Düsterdieck, rightly, makes the eighth proceed from the totality of the seven. This conception is, truly, very difficult in connection with that view of the kings which regards them as significant of so many individuals. A thorough understanding of the subject, in general, is impossible on the basis of this latter view, as is demonstrated by the following note of Düsterdieck: “All interpretations are false, by which the concrete historic reference to the circumstances of the Roman Empire is discarded; thus, for instance, Andreas, who by the θηρίον (Rev 17:8) understands Satan, explains that by the appearance and, especially, the death of Christ, the Beast was brought to a state of not-being. Comp. Bede, C. à-Lap., Zeger, et al. Marlorat and other Protestants explain: Pagan Rome has passed away; Papal Rome is in present existence, but its world-dominion is in itself nought (οὐκ ἔστιν).” Various enumerations of the kings, in accordance with the synchrono-historical conception, see in Düsterdieck, p. 516. According to this expositor, the Seer did prophesy a little, after first prophesying ex post facto concerning kings already known to history; he fore-announced that Vespasian should be succeeded by his two sons: “Titus as the seventh, Domitian as the eighth—that Titus should continue for a short time, and that Domitian should appear as a personification of the whole Beast.” Nevertheless, “John was mistaken in the expectation that the Roman world-kingdom would perish with Domitian.” Still, Düsterdieck admits that a minimum of prophecy remains notwithstanding this mistake: “The singular error manifests, undoubtedly, a certain imperfectness of the prophetic essence in the Apocalyptist, but by no means entirely (!) abrogates that essence.”
Rev 17:12 sqq. Now follows the future history of the ten horns, in respect of their relation to the Beast and the Woman. For although their war with the Lamb is mentioned here, the principal point of view is the war with the Woman. The war with the Lamb, considered in and for itself, is not announced until Rev 19; it is introduced here, in this earlier passage [ch. 17:14], because the hostility of the radical Antichristian powers against the Woman is directed against the last traces, reminiscences and tokens of Christianity in her nature.
Rev 17:12. The ten horns are ten kings.—The number ten is the number of the completed course of the world, the completed development of the world. In the ten kings, therefore, the political organization of the last phase of world-history is represented. They are all anarchical upstarts, who, thitherto, had not received the kingdom. They all cotemporaneously attain to dominion together. They are all, in reality, mock-kings, or, symbolically defined, mock-governments and mock-powers, sporadically diffused over the earth, and for one hour only, i. e., for one unitous, great, final, terrible, but short decision-time, do they obtain the government with the Beast. This is the specific Antichristian evening of the world, which precedes the Parousia. The fact that they are but quasi-kings, is based not upon the shortness of the time of their supremacy (in accordance with Bengel and Düsterdieck), but upon the anarchical relations of the times. It is the period when the theocratic element in Church and State is laid dead, in accordance with Rev 11; when the image and mark of the Beast prevail, in accordance with Rev 13 [See on p. 308.—E. R. C.]
Rev 17:13. These have one mind.—Not, simply, a common cause, but also a common theory [“one and the same view and intent and consent.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.], the system of positive contempt and blasphemy of the name and tabernacle of God, and the dwellers in the Heaven (Rev 13:6), based upon a threefold perversion of the truth into strong falsehood (the absolute nameless Divine, the absolute religion of this world, and the absolute blessedness of this world). Hence, they stand, from the outset, in connection with the Beast and make themselves, with their masses of peoples, their power and authority, completely its organs.
Rev 17:14. These shall war with the Lamb. [Together with the Beast, see 19:19.—E. R. C.]—This announcement has a place here not independently, but as serving as an explanation of their hatred of the Harlot. Because they are enemies of the Lamb, even the dead, despiritualized symbolism, by which the Woman is still suggestive of the Lamb, is a subject of hatred. The Bride they scarcely see, because she is thoroughly internal, living, and human; she incurs their excommunication only in her individual members; the Harlot, however, they see, because she is thoroughly external, hindering life with her dead forms and denying humanity with her anti-humane statutes.33 Hence we here receive, in reference to the Lamb, only the precursory tranquillizing assurance that He shall conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. In His conflict and victory His people shall participate; they shall take part therein as truly called ones, who, in respect of their eternal ground-trait, are elect, and in respect of their character, in its temporal development,34 faithful. For the description of them is not divisible into three characteristics, but into two—elect and faithful, jointly bearing the signature of the truly called. This companionship may be predicated of the sealed in this world, who are progressing toward the Parousia, as well as of the trans-mundane retinue of the Lord on Mount Sion, that is to appear with Him in accordance with Rev 19 .
[“Here is the ground and reason for the victory assigned, and that is taken, 1. From the character of the Lamb; He is King of kings and lord of lords. He has, both by nature and by office, power over all things; all the powers of earth and hell are subject to His check and control. 2. From the character of His followers; they are called, and chosen, and faithful; they are called out by commission to this warfare; they are chosen and fitted for it; and they will be faithful in it.—Such an army, under such a Commander, will at length carry all the world before them.” M. HENRY.—E. R. C.]
Rev 17:15. And he saith unto me, The waters, etc.—These waters serve as an introduction to the judgment upon the Harlot. The Woman has a threefold foundation. Her safest position was in the wilderness, in so far as she was spiritually at home there. Pure renunciation of the world is identical with heavenly security. But even the seat upon the seven mountains, the seven kingdom-powers of political order, gave her, still, a royal firmness. She is, however, also founded upon the many waters of surging popular life, and this foundation has become infinitely fluctuating, since popular life has been set in motion from its very depths, and is sundering into peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues, and since the Woman has lost the foundations of genuine asceticism in the wilderness and of the protection of the seven mountains. Hence it is incorrect to say, “in spite of her wide dominion and all her glory, she shall be destroyed” (DUESTERDIECK), for whence should the ten horns have their power if they did not establish themselves upon those very masses of peoples that have apostatized from the Woman?
Rev 17:16. And the ten horns….. and the Beast, these shall hate the Harlot.—This hatred manifests itself in two negative and two positive forms. They make her desolate, not in the sense of devastation, but they leave her to herself, they take her at her word, and make her a perfect eremitess; moreover, they deprive her of all worldly fullness and covering [Fülle und Hülle], so that she appears in all her nakedness. To these indignities are added positive damages; they eat her flesh, i. e., they wrest all her goods from her, and she herself is destroyed by the fire of negative fanaticism, after having so long raged with the fire of positive fanaticism. In all this the Beast, of course, acts through the horns or kings, hence οὖτοι. Düsterdieck refers the flesh-eating to the figure of the Woman, and the burning to the figure of the City, of course maintaining that Rome is intended.
Rev 17:17. For God gave into their hearts. Namely, to destroy the Woman. This judicial decree resolves itself into three parts: first, they must, blindly and against their will, execute the counsel of God; secondly, they must, in thus doing, accomplish one purpose; thirdly, they must, in order to this end, surrender their whole power to the Beast until the latter, in like manner as an instrument of judgment, has accomplished all those words of God with which the Apostate Church has been threatened. Here, therefore, as in the crucifixion of Christ, Divine, human, and devilish counsels materially coincide in one, whilst they are formally, in their motives, thoroughly diverse and even opposed to each other. We, with Hengstenberg and others, refer the αὐτοῦ after τὴν γνωμήν to God, and not, with Bengel, Düsterd and others, to the Beast, because this latter idea would then be tautologically expressed—the alliance between the kings and the Beast having previously been intimated. At the close of this chapter, Düsterd. vainly reiterates his assurance that nothing save pagan Rome can possibly be intended (p. 520).35
[Rev 17:18. And the Woman that thou sawest, etc.—This verse concludes the Angel’s explanation of the mystery (see Rev 17:7), and unmistakably presents to us as one and the same, the Harlot, the Great City, and Babylon the Great (comp. Rev 17:3, 5, 7, 18).—E. R. C.]
[ADDITIONAL NOTE ON CH. 17.]
By the American Editor.
[This chapter contains a section supplemental to the pouring out of the seventh Vial. It contains: 1. An introduction to the vision, Rev 17:1, 2; 2. The description of the vision, Rev 17:3–6; 3. The explanatory remarks of the Angel, Rev 17:7–18.
In his interpretation of the symbols, the writer agrees in the main with Auberlen, but with variations, as will appear. For his exposition of the Beast, see p. 272. In this chapter the Apostate Church, which, in Rev 16, was figured by Babylon (i. e., the Great City=Rome), is presented under the symbol of a Harlot. These symbols represent the Church from different stand-points;—the former in her earthly relations as a great, populous, wealthy, powerful world-city; the latter in her relations to Christ, as a once chaste Bride now faithless to her husband;—each of these symbols represents an important truth which is not set forth by the other. In this chapter a portion of the imagery of the city-symbolization is preserved. This, indeed, may be regarded as detracting from the artistic unity of the respective symbols; but upon reflection it will be seen not only to unite the two symbols, but to give to each an instructive force that could not otherwise have been given. The mountains, the waters, and the wilderness are taken from the city-symbolization;—the mountains relate primarily to the mountains on which Rome is situate, which symbolize the seven great world-kingdoms; the waters, probably to the Mediterranean—that great sea which Rome once dominated, symbolizing the peoples and multitudes subject to the Church; the wilderness relates to the present and future Roman Campagna, an ἔρημος which aptly symbolizes the moral world-waste around the Church at the period contemplated in the vision—a waste which it was her duty to reclaim and cultivate, but which she has left uncared-for.
The Vision, Rev 17:3–6, is a scene beheld under the seventh Vial; it represents the Church in the last time, in completed unholy alliance with the world-power, and ready for the destruction about to be visited upon her through the instrumentality of the Beast and the ten horns. The Introduction, Rev 17:1, 2, and the Explanation, Rev 17:7–18, sweep through the entire period of the Church’s history; they represent her as sitting on the seven mountains (Rev 17:9, 10), i. e., as having formed in every epoch of her history an adulterous connection with the then existing world-power—a connection prefiguring, and consummated in, the alliance symbolized in the vision. The parallelism between the adultery and the destruction foretold in this chapter, and those set forth Hosea 2:1–13, is manifest upon comparison. Is there not also a parallelism between the deliverance of Hosea 2:14–23 and that alluded to Rev 18:4? In the latter case, as in the former, is there not an allusion to the eduction of a life-germ, in the day of destruction, from the corrupt mass, to be the seed of a new organism? The valley of Achor has ever been to the true Church a door of hope, comp. Hosea 2:15; Josh. 7:26; Isa. 65:10.36—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:1. [Crit. Eds. omit μοι withאand A.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:2. [Tisch. inserts τῶν twice with B*.; Lach. and Treg. omit with א. A. P.; Alf. brackets.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:3. Tisch. [1859, also Treg.] gives γέμον τὰ ὀνόματα, with Cod. A., etc. [Lach., Tisch. (8th Ed.), Alf. read γέμοντα ὀνόματα; Tisch. (8th Ed.) declares that P. requires this division. The reading of the participle in the following clause, which, were it certain, would settle the question, is also disputed: Alf., Tisch. (8th Ed.) read ἔχοντα with א. P.; Lach., Tisch. (1859), and Treg., ἔχον with B*. 1, etc.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:4. Lach. gives καί in acc. with A., etc. [So also Treg. and Tisch. (8th Ed.) with א. A., 1, 7, Vulg., etc.; Tisch. (1859) omits with B*. P.; Alf. brackets.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:4. Codd. א. A. B*. give τα ἀκάθαρτα.
[]Rev 17:4. Codd. A. [?] B*., etc., give τῆς γῆς. [So Tisch. (1859) with B*. (not A.); Alf., Treg., Tisch. (8th Ed.) give αὐτῆς with A. 1, 7, Vulg., etc.; א. reads αὐτῆς καὶ τῆς γῆς.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:8. Codd. A., etc., give ὑπάγει. [So Lach., Alf., and Tisch. (1859); Treg. and Tisch. (8th Ed.) give ὑπάγειν with א. B*. P.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:8. [The “and yet is” is an attempted translation of the printed text of Erasmus, καίπερ ἔστι. This reading, as is now generally conceded, is “an error of Erasmus’ copyist” or of the press; it is not found in the original MS. of Erasmus. On this subject Dr. Conant writes (in his article on the Greek Text of the Apocalypse in T e Baptist Quarterly): “The MS. reads, καὶ πάρ εστι, with εστι slightly removed from the preceding syllable (as often happens in manuscript), but with a distinctly written α in the syllable παρ, and with the accentuation, unquestionably, of καὶ πάρεστι. The copyist, mistaking α for ε in the syllable παρ, and making a wrong division of syllables, wrote καίπερ ἔστι, contrary both to the letters and the accentuation of the MS. There can be no doubt that the true reading is that of the ancient MSS., namely, the Sinaitic (παρεστε=παρεσται), the Alex. (Cod. Eph. is defective here), B. of the Apoc., and the Porphyrian palimpsest, all of which have παρεσται.” The reading thus indicated is universally adopted.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:10. [Crit. Eds. read ὁ εἶσ without καὶ. in acc. with א. A. B*. P., Vulg., etc.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:11. [Lach., Alf., Tisch. read αὐτός with A. P. 1, Vulg., etc.; Treg. gives οὖτος with א. B*.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:12. The reading οὔπω in acc. with B*. [אc, P., Vulg.], etc. [So Alf., Treg., and Tisch.; Lach. reads οὐκ with A., Fuld.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:16. [Crit. Eds. read καί with א. A. B*. P. 1, Am., Fuld., Demid., Tol.; Clem. and Lips.4 6 require ἐπί.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:16. [Tisch. (8th Ed.) reads πυρί, without ἐν, with א. B*. P.; Lach., Tisch. (1859), Treg. prefix ἐν with A.; Alf. brackets.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:17. [This clause is omitted by Lachm., and bracketed by Alf., in accord, with A. 79, Vulg., etc.; it (or γνώμην μίαν) is given by Treg. and Tisch., with א. B*. P. 1, 7, 14, etc.—E. R. C.]
[]Rev 17:17. Codd. A. B*. [א. P.] give οἱ λόγοι.
[][It is probable that the erste of the German edition is a misprint for letzte, as it is only in the latter form that the proposition of our Author can be accepted. It may be remarked that even with this correction the truth of the first part of the proposition is questionable. Is it not probable that by “Babylon the Great” of Rev 16:19, the Seer contemplated the entire Babylon as “headed up” in the Babylon of the last days; or, in other words, as identical with “Babylon the Great” of Rev 17:5?—E. R. C.]
[][Is not one and the same event set forth by the figures, “as slain” (13:3), and “is not” (17:3)—viz.: the apparent ceasing of the Beast to exist as Beast?—E. R. C.]
[][So Lange here freely renders.—E. R. C.]
[][When the Apostle Paul refers to the fact that the Thessalonians treated him as (ὡς) an Apostle, does he imply that he was a mock-apostle? The well-known force of ὡς is to indicate not mere similarity to an individual or a class, but inclusion in a class specified—thus it is declared. Matt. 21:26, that the people held John as a prophet; see also 1 Cor. 4:1, 14; 10:15; 2 Cor. 6:4, etc. And further: “To receive authority as a king,” is to be a king, de facto if not de jure.—E. R. C.]
[][Elliott is at this point exceedingly obscure. The above is believed to be a fair presentation of the views be designed to express.—E. R. C.]
[][“Scaliger, on the authority of an informant of the Duke of Montmorency whilst at Rome. And so again Francis Le Moyne and Brocardus, on ocular evidence, they assure us; saying that Julius III. removed it. See Daubuz, Vitringa, and Bishop Newton, ad loc.” Foot-note by ELLIOTT.—E. R. C.]
[][Barnes agrees with Elliott as to the general interpretation of the heads and horns, as on p. 259. He understands, however, by the sixth head, not the diademed emperors whom he includes under the fifth, but the Dukedom under the Exarchate of Ravenna, continuing from A. D. 566 to 727.—E R. C.]
[][Barnes agrees with Elliott as to the place indicated by the ἔρημος, but not as to the fact that it was produced by the destruction of Rev 17:16. The following extract which he makes from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, Rev 45, deserves consideration: “Rome had reached, about the close of the sixth century, the lowest period of her depression. By the removal of the seat of empire, and the successive loss of the provinces, the sources of private and public opulence were exhausted; the lofty tree under whose shade the nations of the earth bad reposed, was deprived of its leaves and branches, and the sapless trunk left to wither on the ground. The ministers of command and the messengers of victory no longer met on the Appian or Flaminian way; and the hostile approach of the Lombards was often felt and continually feared. The inhabitants of a potent and peaceful capital, who visit without an anxious thought the garden of the adjacent country, will faintly picture in their fancy the distress of the Romans; they shut or opened their gates with a trembling hand, beheld from the walls the flames of their houses, and heard the lamentations of their brethren who were coupled together like dogs, and dragged away into distant slavery beyond the sea and the mountains. Such incessant alarms must annihilate the pleasures and interrupt the labors of rural life; and the Campagna of Rome was speedily reduced to the state of a dreary WILDERNESS, in which the land is barren, the waters are impure, and the air infectious. Curiosity and ambition no longer attracted the nations to the capital of the world; but if chance or necessity directed the steps of a wandering; stranger, he contemplated with horror the vacancy and solitude of the city; and might be tempted to ask, where is the Senate, and where are the people? In a season of excessive rains, the Tiber swelled above its banks, and rushed with irresistible violence into the valleys of the seven hills. A pestilential disease arose from the stagnation of the deluge, and so rapid was the contagion that fourscore persons expired in an hour in the midst of a solemn procession which implored the mercy of heaven. A society in which marriage is encouraged, and industry prevails, soon repairs the accidental losses of pestilence and war; but as the far greater part of the Romans was condemned to hopeless indigence and celibacy, the depopulation was constant and visible, and the gloomy enthusiasts might expect the approaching failure of the human race. Yet the number of citizens still exceeded the measure of subsistence; their precarious food was supplied from the harvest of Sicily and Egypt; and the frequent repetition of famine betrays the inattention of the emperor to a distant province. The edifices of Rome were exposed to the same ruin and decay; the mouldering fabrics were easily overthrown by inundations, tempests and earthquakes, and the monks who had occupied the most advantagous stations, exulted in their base triumph over the ruins of antiquity … Like Thebes, or Babylon, or Carthage, the name of Rome might have been erased from the earth, if the city had not been animated by a vital principle which again restored her to honor and dominion..… The power as well as the virtue of the Apostles revived with living energy in the breasts of their successors; and the chair of St. Peter, under the reign of Maurice, was occupied by the first and greatest of the name of Gregory..… The sword of the enemy was suspended over Rome; it was averted by the mild eloquence and seasonable gifts of the Pontiff, who commanded the respect of heretics and barbarians.”—E. R. C.]
[][Lord regards the Beast as identical with that of Rev 13:1. At the time of the emergence from the sea (Rev 13), the horns were diademed, which, in his judgment, indicates that then all the heads should have fallen, although at the time of the Apocalyptist but five had fallen. At the time of the emergence, and in the passage before us, the Beast represents “the Gothic rulers who established governments in the Western Empire during the Fifth century, and their successors and subjects to the present time” (see p. 262). The Beast in its entirety symbolizes the Roman Empire in all its forms both before and after the disruption;—the heads representing the different forms of government before the disruption, viz.: kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, tribunes, Pagan emperors, Christian emperors; the horns as above.—E. R. C.]
[][“It must strike the reader at a first glance that all three expressions, wilderness, Woman, Beast (Rev 17:3), are without the article, which would be naturally expected here as expressions known from their previous occurrence. But the omission of the article has its good reason. The three expressions are identical and yet in a sense not identical with the former; the heathen world, the Church, and the world-power, have undergone, as we shall see subsequently, great changes, so much so, that John can scarcely recognize them, and sees a beast, a woman, and a wilderness.” AUBERLEN.—E. R. C.]
[][Auberlen precedes the statements of which this section is an abstract, with a résumé of New Testament prophecy concerning the corruption of the Church. He writes: “Our Lord Himself has given no obscure intimations in the parables which refer to the history of the Church (Matt. 13), that when once the gospel, according to its destination, shall have the whole world for its field, … the Church would not be pure, but mixed, consisting of good and evil. The 24 ch. of Matthew, Christ’s eschatological words, in which He views simultaneously the destruction of Israel and His Parousia, and hence judgment upon Israel and Christendom,—is based upon the fundamental view that the New Testament Church will become as much a wicked and adulterous generation as the Old Testament congregation; and the Lord dwells upon some symptoms and characteristics of this adultery, as distrust and suspicion, hatred, treachery (Rev 17:10–12), division into parties (23–26), false doctrine (24). In the light of this chapter the Apostles looked into the future of the Church, see 1 Tim. 4:1 sqq; 2 Tim. 3:1 sqq.; 4:3, 4; 2 Peter 2:1–3; 3:3; 1 John 2:18.” Comp. also Luke 18:8.—E. R. C.]
[][Auberlen quotes as follows from John Michael Hahn (Briefe u. Lieder über die Offenbarung, vol. v., sect. 6): “The Harlot is not the city of Rome alone, neither is it only the Roman Catholic Church, to the exclusion of another, but all Churches and every Church, ours included, viz.: all Christendom that is without the Spirit and life of our Lord Jesus, which calls itself Christian, and has neither Christ’s mind nor Spirit. It is called Babylon, that is, confusion, for false Christendom, divided into very many churches and sects, is truly and strictly a confuser. However, in all churches, parties and sects of Christendom, the true Jesus-congregation, the Woman clothed with the sun, lives and is hidden. Corrupt, lifeless Christendom is the Harlot, whose great aim and rule of life is the pleasure of the flesh, the welfare of the beast-like, sensual humanity, who is open to the influence of all false spirits and teachers, and is governed by the spirit of nature and the world.”—E. R. C.]
[][“Is this circumstance intended as an indication that the ten kingdoms into which the Germanic-Sclavonic world is to be divided, will lose their monarchical form in the end? The expression (Rev 17:2), ‘receive power as kings,’ speaking of the power which they are to receive along with the Beast in the last time (μίαν ὥραν), seems to be in favor of such a supposition.” AUBERLEN.—E. R. C.]
[][In a preceding paragraph, Auberlen speaks of the session of the Woman upon the Beast as symbolizing her adultery (see above), but here as indicating the final apostasy. Although the former of these is the beginning of, and results in the latter, yet are they distinct as bud and fruit. Is it not more correct to say that the session indicates the completed and public alliance of the Church with the world, or world-power!—E. R. C.]
[][For the view of Auberlen, see foot-note (*), p. 311.—E. R. C.]
[][See TEXT. and GRAM., Note 3.—E. R. C.]
[][For the view of AUBERLEN, see p. 311.—E. R. C.]
[][The parallel passage in 19:18, seems to indicate that the attack upon the Lamb and His followers shall be personal and direct.—E. R. C.]
[][Nach ihrem zeitlich ausgeprägten Charakter. The idea of the German is not that of an outward character, or form, imposed by the external application of a stamp, but one produced by internal out-pressing—by development.—E. R. C.]
[][Elliott also contends that the destruction effected by the horns cannot be the final destruction set forth in Rev 18:8, since the kings of the earth (the horns) are, 19:9, spoken of as mourning over the burning. He therefore refers the spoiling here mentioned to the destruction of Rome by the Gothic Kings in the Fifth and Sixth centuries (see p. 309). It must be admitted that he brings a weighty consideration in support of his opinion, one that may not be carelessly dismissed. It may be negatived by the fact, however, that men in their wrath often accomplish that over which they mourn in the subsequent hours of reflection. The Roman army destroyed the Temple at the capture of Jerusalem, and this fulfilled the purposes of Jehovah (Josephus speaks of the soldier who applied the torch as “being hurried by a certain Divine fury”), and yet that destruction was mourned over by Titus and the army as a calamity.—E. R. C.]
[][The study of this chapter has induced the questions: Is not the range of the seven heads, given on p. 272, too narrow? May not the reference be to the world-powers of the seven great epochs of the Church’s history? These are, I. The Antediluvian, ending with the apostasy set forth Gen. 6:2, 12, and the Deluge. II. The Noachic, terminating in the spiritual adultery alluded to Josh. 24:2, and followed by the call of Abraham. III. The Patriarchal, terminating in the idolatry of Israel in Egypt and the Egyptian oppression; (although not directly stated, it is probable that the spiritual adulteries in Egypt, mentioned Joshua 24:14; Ezek. 20:8; 23:3, 8, occurred in the days of Israel’s prosperity, Ex. 1:7, before her oppression by the Egyptians commenced). IV. The Mosaic, ending in the idolatry mentioned, 1 Sam. 2:3, and the overthrow and subjection of Israel preceding the day of Mizpeh, 1 Sam. 4:10, 11; 7:3–14. V. The Samuelic or Kingly, terminating in the adultery that was followed by the Babylonish captivity. VI. The Restoration, terminating in the alliance between the High Priest and Herod on the one hand and Pilate on the other, and the destruction of Jerusalem. VII. The existing epoch. At the close of each of the first six of these epochs there was on the part of the visible Church an apostasy from God and a completed alliance with the world, followed by a destruction more or less complete of the extant form of the Church and the bringing forth from the corrupt mass of a new life-germ. The prophecy under consideration foretells a similar adulterous alliance, a similar destruction of the visible body, and a similar eduction of the vital germ of a new organism, Rev 18:4.—E. R. C.]