Revelation 17 and 18

Now John is directed toward the judgment of God on Rome itself.  He sees a woman riding a beast.  The image is probably drawn from one of the goddess “Roma” popular on coins of the time.  The woman is covered with blasphemous names.  These are titles of self-deification rather than slanders against God.  The woman is drunk from the blood of the saints whom she has persecuted and killed.  The beast she is sitting on has seven heads and ten horns.  The angel tells John the seven heads are seven hills and seven kings.  Who are the kings?  Many commentators believe this is a reference to specific Roman emperors.  The problem with that is there were more than seven emperors by the time Revelation was written.  So people typically find a creative way to count them to come up with Domitian being the sixth emperor, the seventh yet to come.  You can hear the most common of the various options on the audio file.   It is more likely the heads represent anti-Christian despots in general.  It turns out the ten horns are also ten kings.   This image likely corresponds to the Roman governors, very powerful local rulers (think Herod the Great) who served under the emperor and pledged allegiance to him.   John’s larger point is the beast and the prostitute are highly organized but defeated by the Lamb, who was slain.  This would reinforce to John’s first readers that God’s people overcome through weakness and suffering.  After this chapter 18 follows with an elegant piece of poetry lamenting the destruction of the prostitute.

About bob

I am a Vineyard pastor and a passionate student of the Bible with an instinctive distrust of "business as usual" when it comes to the story of the Bible. Gratefully I have the opportunity to dig a little deeper and my purpose with this blog is to share what I discover.

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