The Christ in Prophecy Journal

The Great Prostitute of Revelation 17

Revelation 17 lays out a wildly disturbing scene. A Bowl Judgment angel approaches the Apostle John and says, “Come, I will show you… the Great Prostitute.”

For her physical appearance, the Great Prostitute is described as having tattooed emblazoned across her forehead the title by which she goes by: “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth.” The woman is dressed in purple and scarlet, and glitters with gold, precious stones and pearls. She holds a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.

As for her actions, she commits adultery with the kings of the earth. She intoxicates the inhabitants of the earth with the wine of her adulteries. She rides upon a seven-headed, ten-horned, scarlet beast which is covered with blasphemous names and sits on many waters. She is found drunk on the blood of the saints who proclaim Jesus Christ.


November’s blog poll, “Who or what is the Great Prostitute of Revelation 17?,” sought to determine people’s views on who or what they thought the woman that verse 5 calls a “Mystery” really is. The results are in the graph below:


Fortunately for the reader of Revelation, the Bowl Angel goes on to explain to John what he is seeing. Unfortunately, though, the angel’s description of the Prostitute is almost as mysterious as the scene itself, giving credence to her name “Mystery.” And yet, the reader can look upon the larger structure of Bible prophecy within the Scriptures to discern who or what she is and is not.

Who She Is Not

The Great Prostitute is not a yet unrevealed woman. For one, no individual can sit upon many waters (verse 1). Secondly, she is called a “great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” Cities in the Bible are often used to represent people groups, empires, or systems. As much as some would like to point to the pop singer Madonna or a particular female politician, neither they nor any other single woman fits the bill.

She is not the United Nations or European Union. The Beast we are told is the future one-world leader who is handed over power to rule what ten future leaders of the earth will hold (verses 12-13). While the Antichrist and ten kings will make war against Jesus and certainly kill many of Jesus’ followers (verse 14), they hate the Great Prostitute and by God’s prompting participate in her destruction (verse 16-17). Since these political systems will give rise to the ten kings, neither can be the Great Prostitute because they hate and kill her.

She is not Hollywood. While Hollywood certainly spews its licentious garbage upon mankind who thirstily drink it in, it cannot be accused of the mass murder of believers in Christ (well, at least physically).

She will not be a newly constructed city called Babylon. Babylon was certainly a great city like verse 18 states. But, it is a city cursed never to be rebuilt. Isaiah 13:20 makes it very clear that Babylon would cease to be inhabited forever. In accordance with this prophecy, Babylon was conquered by the Medes, and it began a long decline that ultimately resulted in its abandonment to the forces of nature. By the time of Christ, one eyewitness reported that the city was nothing but “mounds and stones and ruins.” Even Saddam Hussein was not able to rebuild it into more than a paltry tourist spot. Then why is she also called “Babylon the Great?” Because Babylon has always been credited as the source of world cultic spiritual evil, which will hold a dominant presence during the Tribulation.

She is not Islam. Women are often used in the Scriptures to symbolize religious systems, and Islam is certainly a religious system. It has caused the bloody martyrdom of countless Christians in its 1,400 years. But, by the time of the Tribulation, Islam will be just another false religious system that will be wiped out. Their battles against Israel in Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 will bring about the demise of Islamic power.

What She Could Be

Because women are used in the Scriptures to symbolize religious systems, the Great Prostitute is indeed a religious system. The three remaining religious systems on the survey are the apostate Church, a one-world religion, and secular humanism (which at its core is the worship of self).

Which religious system the Great prostitute is can be interpreted by where she sits. The text says she sits in four places — on the beast (Antichrist), on seven hills, on seven kings, and across the nations and peoples of the world.

The majority of voters (47%) voted for the apostate Church. These voters could be correct based on the sitting reference in verse 9 to seven hills. Two major cities that rest upon seven hills are Rome and Istanbul (formerly Constantinople named after the Roman Emperor Constantine), and both were centers of government in the Roman Empire at different points in time. Istanbul can be discounted, though, for at the time of John’s writing Rome was the commanding city of the known world, and John would have recognized it as such. Also, Istanbul loses any future prominence due to the elimination of Islam as a world religious system, as mentioned earlier. John was clearly looking towards Rome as the city on seven hills. Rome is the heart of the revived Roman Empire, which the world today is seeing grow out of the European Union.

Rome also houses the Vatican, which is the seat of Roman Catholic papal authority. This authority reaches across the “peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” of the world as verse 15 states. In its history, the Roman Catholic Church has the blood of countless Protestant believers and the victims of crusaders and inquisitors on its hands.

Also, after the Rapture, the only “Church” left will be the apostate followers of Christ who, as 2 Timothy 3:5 states, “have a form of godliness but denying its power.” While many true believers will come out of the Catholic Church and be raptured as part of the Bride of Christ, the overall heretical structure will continue to exist during the first half of the Tribulation to give credence and support to the other apostate Christian denominations left in the world. The Vatican after the Rapture will be the universalistic banner to which all the Christians in name only will rally to.

The second largest voting bloc in the poll (28%) believe the Great Prostitute will be a one-world religion. These voters could be correct based on her sitting on the seven kings of verse 10. Five of the kings fell before John’s time, so they must have been pivotal to world rulership in relation to Israel. The sixth “one is” to John would have been Caesar. The seventh king who “has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while” is the Antichrist, called so in 1 John 2:18. “The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king” and “belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction” could only be Satan himself ruling through these seven human rulers throughout history, as there are no other kings after Jesus Christ once Jesus sets up His Millennial Kingdom. These kings extend over a time period much longer than the 2,000 years the Church has been around, and cover all the world’s peoples.

A small minority, only 2%, voted that secular humanism was the religion of the first half of the Tribulation. I myself voted in this group for this reason — all false religion stems from man’s belief in Satan’s lie from the Garden of Eden, when Satan said “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5). All expressions of worship not towards God are flat out rebellion against the Creator. Even if we personally are not the object of our worship, by setting ourselves up in our own religion, we are worshipping self and therefore humanism.

The Old Testament is overwhelmingly filled with God’s stated hatred of spiritual harlotry. He chastises Israel again and again for running after foreign gods in rebellion. Be it an apostate form of what God truly wants, or a deviation from all norms that God has established for worship — man’s rebellion is about the worship of self.

By the midpoint of the Tribulation when Satan indwells the Antichrist, whatever flavor of humanistic self-worship the people adhere to, all will be made to cease to exist. The Antichrist, False Prophet, and ten rulers will be sure to take the Great Prostitute of human-willed spiritual harlotry and the institution in which she is enshrouded and “bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (verse 16). Only one religion will be allowed to exist 3 1/2 years into the Tribulation by the Antichrist’s demonic master, and that will be the worship of Satan through his Antichrist “messiah.”

Praise be to Jesus Christ who returns 3 1/2 years later to doom that “beast” to eternal destruction and set up His kingdom of peace and righteousness!

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ABOUT AUTHOR View all posts Author Website

Dr. Nathan E. Jones

As the Internet Evangelist at Lamb & Lion Ministries, Nathan reaches out to the over 4.5 billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ. He also co-hosts the ministry's television program Christ in Prophecy and podcast The Truth Will Set You Free.

25 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • I found this interesting after reading an article today concerning the Pope. He is assuring people, due to end times worries, that there is no imminency to Christ’s return and no need to fear-an example of those saying He hastened returned yet so…What is sad is that his denial of imminency detracts from the urgency of God’s people to reach out for Christ-I’m afraid he will pay for this horrible advice.

  • My vote is the ecumenical movement we see growing today.
    The “World Congress of Religions” that Pope John Paul was instrumental in creating.

    I believe they will be based in Rome, with influence in the UN in NYC.

    The Harlot takes all customers.
    This is the “All faiths are paths to heaven” lie of Satan.

    Who has not witnessed all the “Interfaith” prayer meetings lately?

  • LeRoy, the article you linked to is interesting. Their whole argument that the Antichrist will be the resurrected Pope John Paul II seems absurd.

    Their theory completely rests on Rev. 17:3 stating John was brought to see the Great Prostitute in the wilderness/desert, and then claiming that wilderness was the last 200 years the Papacy hasn’t had power over Rome.

    The Catholic Church expunged of any of its true believers due to the Rapture will certainly biblically play a role within the Great Prostitute, but that a dead pope rises from within the Catholic Church to become the Antichrist is beyond extra-biblical.

  • I think we’re dealing with a spirit here. I see this spirit living in rampant capitalism. She consorts with all the kings of earth, and even the saints can’t escape her. The attitude is “anything for money”, hence the name “The Great Prostitute”. Under her influence, people who know better deliberately scheme to cheat the ignorant and the elderly, destroy God’s earth, and don’t care at all about the consequences of their actions. I realize this won’t be a popular opinion, but since when is being a Christian about popularity? This is something I feel is true.

  • After reading Leroys Statement I had to investigate for myself. I found this to be quite interesting and wanted to share it.

    “And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Revelation 13:12.
    “Here is a striking figure of the rise and growth of our own nation. And the lamb-like horns, emblems of innocence and gentleness, well represent the character of our government, as expressed in its two fundamental principles, Republicanism and Protestantism. The Christian exiles who first fled to America, sought an asylum from royal oppression and priestly intolerance, and they determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty. These principles are the secret of our power and prosperity as a nation. Millions from other lands have sought our shores, and the United States has risen to a place among the most powerful nations of the earth.
    But the stern tracings of the prophetic pencil reveal a change in this peaceful scene. The beast with lamb-like horns speaks with the voice of a dragon, and "exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him." The spirit of persecution manifested by paganism and the papacy is again to be revealed.” The Great Controversy 1884 ed, page 277.

    This part enforces what Nathan had mentioned earlier. "The Lie" is the root of the entire problem just like in the Garden. This is apostasy at its finest along with lovers of self. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 Man was tricked into believing the lie in the Beginning and he will be tricked again in the End.

    “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.” Revelation 13:14. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 & Revelation 16:13-14.

    I know this is an incomplete posting but it has been nagging at me for a long time. Everyone I talk to about prophecy wants to know where the United States is mentioned. Funny, it maybe right under our very noses in Revelation.

    So when the protestant churches waive their differences in doctrinal beliefs and unite upon the same common points of faith and shall call upon and influence the civil authorities to enforce their rules and commands, then will the different churches of protestantism have formed themselves into an image of the beast.

    "It was apostasy that led the early church to seek the aid of the civil government, and this prepared the way for the development of the papacy–the beast….So apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast."

    . The formation of this image is the work of that beast whose peaceful rise and mild professions render it so striking a symbol of the United States. Here is to be found an image of the papacy.”

    To read the entire article and draw your own conclusions read the link…

    I need prayer that God will reveal to me more of this Mystery and I be given the ability to write it down so that it makes sense.

    Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus Quickly.


  • I agree with skyrocket.
    I beleive that Mystery Babylon is a political and economic system. I am reading a book by Larry Bates called The New Economic Disorder it was written in 2003 and describes alot of what we see going on today in the world of economics. In the book he descibes the Babylonian economic system as very similiar to ours and how it is leading us into a one world currency and a one world government. I urge you to read it and make the call yourself.

  • Midaham-
    There are 2 Babylons described in Revelation.
    One is political, economic, military which I believe is New York City. The UN, NATO alliance, world bank, WTO etc.

    The other is Ecumenical Babylon. The interfaith alliance or one world religion of the False Prophet to be based in Rome.
    Eventually the Antichrist will destroy it so that he alone can be worshipped as God.

    Dani’ El

  • My dear friends, please keep in mind ALL the specifics of this mystery woman because she embodies and must have each one. You cannot say that this is the spirit of capitalism or a economic/political system, for how can these things be called a city that sits on seven hills? And what spirit or system has MURDERED untold millions of Christians? And what spirit or system wears scarlett and purple and is rich beyond belief? There is only one “system” and one “spirit” who fulfills all these things—the Roman Catholic Church.

  • the whore may the Roman Catholic Church as the evidence is quite convincing. But, I have trouble believing that all the other churches will not share much of her guilt. Revelation 2-3 speak of seven churches of which only one is not rebuked for not following Christ completely. The last, the church in Laodicea is spoken of in the most condemning of terms. I don’t think the Laodicean church would have properly been the one to judge the whore.

    We will only be able to escape our judgment of the Roman Catholic Church if we share NONE of her sins. So much of the teaching within the modern church is so loosely based on scripture and so tightly bound to man’s tradition that we really need to…

    All we can really do is call upon the grace offered by the shedding of Christ’s blood.

    Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. It is my faith in that fact that encompasses my whole claim to any righteousness.

  • – God gave Jerusalem her Jewels, Clothes, and a Crown.
    Jerusalem’s Fame Went 0ut among the Nations because of her beauty.
    And Suceeeded To Royalty. It was perfect because of His splender.


  • ~ God gave Jerusalem her older & younger harlot sisters as dauthers.
    Making her The Mother 0f Harlots.

    God even put The Cup of the Harlot sister's Abomnations in the hand of Jerusalem. – Ez.23:31


  • The Great City who has The Millstone, and is in denial about being A Widow? – Rev.18:21 Rev.18:7

    God calls her The Daughter 0f Babyon! – Isaiah 47:1

    God give her a Millstone as a Slave. – Isaiah 47:2
    And only God can take it away. – Rev.18:21

    For she will no longer be called The Mistress 0f Kingdoms!
    Dead Sea Scrolls-Isaiah 47:5

    No longer will she have a Throne.
    Isaiah 47:1

    Although God Crowned her Ez.16:12

    How lonely sits The City that was full of people! How like a Widow is she, who was Great Among The Nations!
    The Princess Among The Provinces has become a Slave. Jerusalem!


  • “Rome also houses the Vatican, which is the seat of Roman Catholic papal authority. This authority reaches across the “peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” of the world as verse 15 states. In its history, the Roman Catholic Church has the blood of countless Protestant believers and the victims of crusaders and inquisitors on its hands.

    Also, after the Rapture, the only “Church” left will be the apostate followers of Christ who, as 2 Timothy 3:5 states, “have a form of godliness but denying its power.” While many true believers will come out of the Catholic Church and be raptured as part of the Bride of Christ, the overall heretical structure will continue to exist during the first half of the Tribulation to give credence and support to the other apostate Christian denominations left in the world. The Vatican after the Rapture will be the universalistic banner to which all the Christians in name only will rally to.”

    This is interesting since as a Catholic I agree with certain assertions here. There has been prophecy for at least 200-300 years in the Catholic Church that indicate that towards the time of Christ’s return a false church will arise. They also indicate that Benedict is the last true pope before the tribulations begin in earnest and that he will be forced out of Rome and in the end he will be murdered– in fact it is said he will be taken out of Rome over the dead bodies of his fellow priests and bishops. Have you read the newspapers lately— they are filled with supposed Catholics calling for the “impeachment” of the pope, we have Notre Dame flagarantly disobeying Church leaders by not only inviting the most radical pro death president ever— to speak at its commencement they are also awarding him an honorary degree! Those of us who still believe what the scriptures say and still believe what the church has taught from the beginning are being marginalized and will soon be forced underground by many in our own church. It is already happening. Soon you will see it— Due to Obama’s policies Catholic health, education and charitable institutions will have to either shut down or compromise with the world. Some will shut down rather than violate the truth— others— just like we have seen with Notre Dame will find a way to compromise and claim they are doing nothing wrong.

    Recently in Connecticut a bill was introduced to take control of Catholic parish resources out of the hands of the priests and bishops and give it to “appointed” lay leaders— fortunately the outcry stopped it dead in its tracks— but how long before they succeed. (BTW this bill was introduced by “Catholic” politicians)

    The government will — already is— trying to silence Christian voices— Catholics as well as yours, for speaking the truth. Soon you will see both Protestant and Catholic (it will start with Catholic bishops) silenced and/or imprisoned for speaking the truth.

    I hope you can see where I am going with this— already there are two Catholic Churches— those who remain true to the Lord and the Church he created and those who have been inventing a new Catholic Church for the past sixty plus years.

    When the pope must flee Rome and then is murdered a false pope will be elected one that will compromise with the world and a false “Catholic” Church will have the see in Rome(the “abomination of desolation standing in the “Holy Place” (Matthew), or where “it ought not” (Mark)and will cooperate with the new world order. But this Church will be recognizably different because the newly elected pope will change teachings that have been held since the beginning to make them more worldly and politically expediant. During the tribulations this false church, which will become a conglomoration of all religions— one could say a unified global “church” along with government will persecute all true believers Catholic and Protestant alike. The true Catholic will be underground and appear to be “dead”.

    There will be many suprised Protestants when they realize there is no “rapture” Matthew 24:22clearly states “And if those days had not been shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect they will be shortened. We elect will be here on earth so that the Church will rise triumphantly from the trials and be ready to meet her Bridegroom.

    And as a side note— I am a direct descendent of a Norwegian family that was nearly destroyed by protestant reformers in the late 1500’s. They stole my family’s huge farm and it took my family 200 years to get back a even just a small portion of the land they once owned. protestants have a bloody history too— how bout we be honest and just say that both Protestants and Catholics had those among them who abused their power for their own political or monetary gain— Queen Elizabeth, King Henry were well known for killing Catholics….

  • The prostitute obviously is the Catholic church…its evrywhere,It makes war against the true word of God, The biggest "christian religion" everywhere in the world. this is where all the other denominations branch from..the whole system of register ur church blah blah..its the Pope!! THey teach a very wrong doctrine that is in contrast to God's word. Why do u think Martin Luther broke away from them? Revelations 18:15. but we aint here to discuss this?? Question is are u saved?? are u searching for the true gospel?? Isaiah 55:6. Jesus says not everyone who says Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven? Revelations 3:15-16 Are u Hot or Cold?? almost everyone now days is lukewarm..nah u either with Jesus or with the world. Luke 12:1,4,-5,8-11. Get with Jesus now before its too late…Seek for the Lord and you will find him. Jeremiah 29:13. Be Blessed dear brothers ands sisters. stay strong in christ.

  • Sorry to join this discussion so late, but does anyone feel that the Zeitgeist movement could be the Prostitute referred to by John in Revelation? It seems such a strong contender for a false church with mass appeal.

  • Weeeeell, no, I wouldn't think of Zeitgeist as a movement per se, but more of a train of thought that's plain old secular humanism with its trademark skepticism and false assumptions about Christianity.

    Secular humanism tinged with religious form yet denying God's power (2 Tim. 3:5), though, I would fully agree is a major component of the Great Prostitute.

  • I've always thought it would be a blend of RC church/one world church, because of the cup the priests hold, their wealth, because of the mark they already take on their foreheads on Ash Wednesdays (as well as other religions who do this practice now). We are seeing a big move of the RC evangelism now, and also asking people to leave if they are "nominal" Catholics. We have people like the Pope kissing the Qu'ran and calling it a Holy book, so think they'll have no problem embracing Islam and also the rest of the apostate church. Just my thoughts…

  • Did you ever consider that the Great Harlot is Israel? All throughout the Old Testament Israel is identified as the Harlot. Read Ezekiel 16. She is the harlot because she has forsaken God and pursued other religions. The Beast is Rome (The City on 7 hills) and they both worked together pursuing and persecuting the Church.

  • Babylon the Great…..

    Mecca…. The FATHER shall stir up the Medes (Iran) against her.

    And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

    It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.


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