Revelation Chapter 17, Part 3
Verse 3 “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a
scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.”
AND HE CARRIED ME AWAY: Brother Russell was the first to understand clearly the 1260-year
prophecy of Daniel and its applicable dates. He carried us back in history to lay the historical background
for understanding this harlot’s power and characteristics.
Thus Verses 3-5 are a history of Babylon’s glory days
IN THE SPIRIT -- in our minds, the Greek has no article. It best reads “in spirit.”
INTO A WILDERNESS: The only other place Revelation mentions wilderness is the two times in Chapter
12 where the woman (True Church) flees to escape persecution for 1260 “days.” These are clearly the
same period. The wilderness (a place, Compare Rev 12:14) represents the condition existing (for
the saints) when Jezebel ruled supreme.
“One must be taken aside or apart from the wine, the gaiety, and the garish city lights into the
solitude and the sobriety of the “wilderness” condition in order to see the “woman” in her true
colors. (“The Keys of Revelation”, Page 439)
AND I SAW: This is John’s traditional change-of-focus expression. It might seem out of place here; but
its purpose is to denote a different focus from the last time (in Chapter 12) we saw the wilderness. At
THAT time, our focus was on the True Church; THIS time it is on the apostate church of the
same time period.
A WOMAN: the harlot, The Roman Catholic Church.
SITTING ON: i.e. controlling
A SCARLET BEAST: We often (and correctly) ascribe scarlet to sin. It is noteworthy, however, that this
color (along with purple) is frequently used to represent splendor of royalty. (See Matt 27:28 and Rev
18:16) The next verse so uses it for this “royal” harlot. While Chapter 13 represented the great
Babylonish church-state beast as being similar to certain animals in order to show its true characteristics,
17:3 instead represents this beast as scarlet -- a totally different viewpoint. But how was the beast
viewed during the 1260 wilderness years? Was it not viewed as the divinely-righted, royal,
government entity by mankind in general? BOTH uses of scarlet seem appropriate. The John
Class would see the SINFULNESS; the world would see the GLORY.
FULL OF BLASPHEMOUS NAMES: Only here and in 13:1 is the beast so described. Its blasphemies are
mentioned elsewhere, but only these two places say it has blasphemous names. This could be
symbolic of blasphemous characteristics. But it is more likely that it refers literally to names or titles
which this beast assumed which are by their very nature blasphemous. The term CHRISTENDOM would
only be one of many examples.
HAVING SEVEN HEADS AND TEN HORNS: -- seven forms of government and ten support powers or
nations. (N.A.N.O.R. Pages 132, 133)
“The “scarlet colored [Greek kokkinos] beast” should not be confused with the fiery red (Greek
purrhos) dragon of Revelation 12:3. These colors are separate and distinct, as are the beast and
the dragon. However, the beast in Chapter 17, having seven heads and ten horns, signifying
Rome, is the same papal beast that has a similar number of heads and horns in Revelation 13:1.
The present chapter states that the scarlet-colored beast is “full of names of blasphemy”; according to
Chapter 13 the “name of blasphemy” is on each of its seven heads. In the absence of anything to the
contrary, it should be assumed that the disposition or arrangement of the names is similar in both
The blasphemy, in part, consisted of the beast’s assertion that it represented the one and only
true Kingdom of Christ; yet it reigned (1) before the Second Advent of Christ (1 Cor 15:25), (2)
apart from a contemporary participation of the twelve apostles of the Lamb and the 144,000
Elect (1 Cor 4:8; Rev 5:10), and (3) without the visible role of the Ancient Worthies, such as
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt 8:11), which things are all contrary to the teachings of the
Scriptures.” (“The Keys of Revelation”, Page 439)
We will continue with Verse 4 in our next post.
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