Revelation Chapter 17, Part 2
Verses 1 and 2 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with
me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many
waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth
were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
ONE OF THE SEVEN ANGELS: Believed to be Brother Russell during his ministry.
WHO HAD THE SEVEN BOWLS: This phrase is added for purposes of identification. By knowing
who ONE of these angels is, we know who ALL of them are. Thus Chapter 17 helps interpret
Chapters 15 and 16.
CAME AND SPOKE WITH ME: The John Class at the end of the age has the honor of having as its
constant companion to the end of the harvest (in person or through writings) a voice which has the
answers. We yet rely upon this voice in our daily walk, and as this angel REMAINS with John all the way
to Chapter 22, so Brother Russell’s ministry will remain as a friendly sustenance to us to the end.
Abraham Lincoln once said that man’s greatest achievement was the written word. By it we can
learn from the dead, communicate with the distant, and leave messages for the yet unborn. And
so the Pastor likewise through his writings continues to guide and teach us even from beyond the Vail.
COME HERE: To GET the benefit of his angel’s instruction, we must GO TO HIM (as the Lord’s
chosen vessel to deliver to the household “meat in due season” Matt 24:45). It cannot be
overstressed that this Chapter CANNOT be understood WITHOUT acknowledging the place of
this angel in the plan.
I SHALL SHOW YOU: He did. Of all the messengers to the Church, only Brother Russell gave a clear
detailed exposition of the identity, and fall of Babylon.
THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT HARLOT: This is the first time (Chapter 17) that the apostate church
is called by this name although earlier references cite her “immoralities” (KJV = fornication.) The
implication is here very strong that the REASON she is being judged is BECAUSE of her faithlessness
-- her fornication.
WHO SITS ON MANY WATERS: This phrase helps in several ways. We realize from it that she controls
many peoples, who, given a choice, would prefer NOT to be under her dominion. It also shows (by
comparison to Verse 3) that the peoples constitute the BODY of the beast which she controls. This
becomes an imperative ingredient later in the chapter. (N.A.N.O.R. Pages 131, 132)
“In Verse 1 the angel invites John to “come hither,” suggesting the individual has to bestir and arouse
himself from lethargy. The Lord is not going to drop into one’s lap a clear understanding of certain
prophecies if the interest is only superficial. The angel further states, “I will show unto thee the
judgment [Greek krima] of the great whore that sits upon many waters.” This ordinary Greek
word, rendered “judgment” in this setting, is particularly fraught with meaning. The system of
jurisprudence might be summarized as
(A) The detailed charges of criminality,
(B) The judicial process or trial leading to a decision (Greek krisis period),
(C) The pronouncement of a decision (of guilt or innocence), and
(D) The execution of the sentence (in this instance, death).
To which of these categories does the word “judgment” apply? Answer: All of them, but
especially to the last.
At the very outset, particular attention is given to the judgment of the “great whore that sits upon
many waters.” In end-time prophecy it is she who is of singular interest to the Lord’s people. Who is
she? The true Church is pictured as a virgin espoused to her Lord. Since this woman is a harlot, she
represents the false Church. The “many waters” upon which the whore sits are given a definition by
the Holy Spirit in Verse 15; namely, “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” This
woman is an international church. She openly admits to being the Roman Catholic (i.e., THE
universal) Church.” (“The Keys of Revelation”, Pages 437, 438)
17:2 -- WITH WHOM THE KINGS OF THE EARTH COMMITTED IMMORALITY: This is her primary
sin. The Christian Church is espoused to Christ to be wedded to Him at His return. This woman thought
that the interval before that return would be more profitable to her if she lured the world’s leaders into a
cooperative union. It would make life easier. Perhaps this is why, of all the denominations, the Roman
Catholic Church (and its few “orthodox” companions) is the least interested in the subject of the Lord’s
return. The event has to be most embarrassing!
“The harlot of Revelation 17 is in marked contrast to the symbolism of the true Church as a virgin (See
Rev 12:1; 14:4). The expression “kings of the earth” in Verse 2 refers not only to rulers of nations
but also to financial, political, and other leaders of the people.” (“The Keys of Revelation”, Page 439)
AND THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE EARTH: -- people with a vested interest in retaining a stable society,
no matter how corrupt.
WERE MADE DRUNK: -- both a mood of unwarranted lack of care, and a disability to discern clearly.
WITH THE WINE OF HER IMMORALITY: -- her doctrine of approval of church-state union.
In what way did the harlot make the nations “drunk with the wine of her fornication”?
Mixed wine hastens intoxication. The stupefying draft from her cup of a little truth blended with much
error causes spiritual intoxication. False doctrines regarding the relationship of Church and State have
been largely responsible for the inebriation. The woman claimed it was her mission to instruct
governments in connection with the present rulership of earth—in advance of the Second Advent
of Messiah and apart from the Lord.
According to the Scriptures “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4 RSV).
Compassion for the world (a virtue) and friendship with the world are not synonymous terms. The
Christian is to keep himself separate from worldliness. The false Church teaches the opposite: that it
is one of the chief missions of the Church to be the conscience of the world and to direct her
communicants and others how to enlighten and uplift society and solve social ills.
But the primary mission of the Church is to “take out . . . a people for his name” (Acts 15:14).
The true Church is called out of the world to have fellowship with Christ, to be in union with the
Lord; the purpose is not to go into the world to accomplish social uplift. No matter how noble such
efforts may appear to others and may seem to be unquestionably the Lord’s work, this is not the work of
the church presently, these things will be fully and successfully accomplished by the church in the next
age, “this is the will of God (the work presently given to the church), even your sanctification (i.e.
setting apart)” (1 Thess 4:3). Nevertheless, it is perfectly good and acceptable in the sight of God that
supplication, prayer, intercession, and giving of thanks be made for kings, and for all who are in authority,
that Christians may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty (1 Tim 2:1–3).
In what way did the “kings of the earth” commit “fornication” with the woman?
“Christendom,” so-called, stands for Christ’s Kingdom, accordingly, kings and/or nations are referred to
as existing “by His [God’s] grace.” Although used with good intentions, such an expression as
“one nation under God” and the Church-State arrangement actually apply to and are suitable for
the next age. After the marriage of the Bride and the Lamb, the true Church will be kings and priests,
thus combining civil and religious affairs. False doctrine has encouraged nominal Church dignitaries to
fraternize with civil government leaders and vice versa. Figuratively speaking, the result has been
fornication or illicit intercourse between the Church of Rome and the State.” (“The Keys of Revelation”,
We will take a look at Verse 3 next.
PREVIOUS PAGE INDEX NEXT PAGE