Revelation Chapter 17, Part 4
Verses 4 and 5 “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and
precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the
filthiness of her fornication, and on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE
GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
17:4 -- AND THE WOMAN: She is an integral part of this beast until the very end of the harvest as
Verse 16 shows.
WAS CLOTHED IN PURPLE AND SCARLET WITH GOLD AND PRECIOUS STONES AND PEARLS:
These words are also found in 18:16, whether or not each item of apparel is to be analyzed is difficult to
say. The total effect of her clothing depicting a wealthy monarch’s clothing may be all that is
intended. The point is strong when THIS woman is contrasted to the OTHER woman in the wilderness
who is being fed by an eagle.
“The “woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet,” queenly attire, because she was reigning at
that time. Purple and scarlet are both symbols of royalty, but the biblical distinction for those found
worthy is that red signifies royalty gained through sacrifice. As Christians generally know, scarlet does in
some instances signify Jesus’ shed blood and his costly ransom sacrifice on the Cross on behalf of his
Church and the world—his blood was shed FOR others, whereas Papacy shed the blood OF others.
Worldly royalty is obtained through heredity (blood lineage) or military (blood letting) conquest.
Seen as a queen, the woman was “decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.” The KJV margin
indicates her dress as gilded with metallic gold. What ornate attire! The false Church, that is, the clergy
are vestured with robes of diverse colors consisting of the finest silk or velvet and made with the best
workmanship; there are garments for different holy days and various other occasions. Crowns of the
leaders contain numerous emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and diamonds. Down through history this
Church has been given to much display and ostentation, which exactly fits the picture in Verse 4.
While the false Church is ornately attired, the Master Counsels the true Church to buy white raiment so
that she will be clothed and the shame of her nakedness will not appear (Rev 3:18). The Apostle Paul
admonishes that “women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and
sobriety; NOT WITH braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” but with that “which
becomes women professing godliness” (1 Tim 2:9, 10) obviously the professing Church missed this
particular admonishment of the Apostle.” (“The Keys of Revelation”, Page 440)
HAVING IN HER HAND: The “hand” represents actions or deeds, an item in the hand is a tool of
A GOLD CUP: -- usurped from the true temple (even as Belshazzar used the temple vessels in his
party the night before actual Babylon fell.) Mystic Babylon “continued” (i. e., in a cup) its nefarious
schemes, packaged in the guise of the Lord’s vessels. She USED the Bible, and she USED her historic
connection with early Christianity to give poison to those who would drink.
“The “golden cup” represents the Bible. Ostensibly the potion in the cup purports to be the admonition
and instruction of Holy Writ, but in reality it is a stupefying draft or mixture of truth and error. The cup is
gold to symbolize her claim of being the sole repository and dispenser of divine truth. In the wilderness
era shown here, (that is during the 1260 years from 539-1799), the woman proffered the cup to
others to drink, whereas Revelation 16:19, a later scenario to occur during the pouring of the
seventh plague, shows the situation reversed—the Lord will give her a cup (of retribution) to
drink.” (“The Keys of Revelation”, Page 441)
FULL OF ABOMINATIONS: -- the mass being one of the worst of these abominations, but only
one in a vast array of abominable lies, hypocrisies, misrepresentations, and blasphemies. Nearly ALL that
she taught corrupted human behavior and standards.
AND OF THE UNCLEAN THINGS OF HER IMMORALITY: This phrase and the one just preceding it
DIVIDED Babylon‘s sins into two groups:
(1) The religious falsehoods, and
(2) The church-state cooperation for the suppression of liberties and truth.
17:5 -- AND UPON HER FOREHEAD: -- written into her very character and plain to see for all who are
looking with wisdom and understanding.
A NAME: -- a character
WRITTEN: -- inscribed indelibly into her every deed and word.
MYSTERY: What a well-kept secret! Here in the name of CHRIST is ANTICHRIST! How could it
happen? Mystery of mysteries!
BABYLON: - originally meaning “Gateway to God,” but coming to mean “Confusion.” -- This is part
of the mystery.
THE GREAT: The implication is clear: there are lesser Babylon’s, and the rest of this verse says so.
They are all clearly typed by that evil empire of old.
MOTHER OF HARLOTS: There are others! -- Lesser Babylon’s; but they all have THIS one as their
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH: She is not only “mother” of the harlot daughters,
she is the one who gave birth to society’s aberrations, abominations, and disgusting defects.
This places much that is wrong with society directly at her doorstep. It is a weighty load.
The term “Abominations”: is a very good description of the various nations styling themselves
Christendom. (N.A.N.O.R. Page 133)
“Jeremiah’s defamation “thou has a whore’s forehead; thou refuses to be ashamed” (Jer 3:3) is
equally applicable to the “MOTHER OF HARLOTS” in Verse 5. The purpose of this description
(“MOTHER OF HARLOTS”) is to identify and include the daughter systems in the judgment,
Catholicism being the “MOTHER” of harlot daughters (the various Protestant denominations).
Revelation 14:4 contained a clue of this nature in the statement “These are they which were not
defiled WITH WOMEN; for they are virgins . . . which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes.”
In Verse 5 the women are called “HARLOTS.”
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of
Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is
joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”
(1 Cor 6:15, 16)
The name upon the whore’s forehead is in plain sight of all the spiritually minded (Luke 8:10). How
strange then that everyone does not see the association! Indeed, it is a mystery.
The Church of Christ (the True Church) is called the “mystery of God,” the “mystery of godliness,”
and “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Rev 10:7; 1 Tim 3:16; Col 1:27) because, contrary to
expectation, the Church is to be the Messianic body, which, under its anointed Head, Jesus, shall rule and
bless the world.
The false Church or Babylon, a counterfeit system of mother and daughters (some more or less
corrupt), is designated the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thess 2:7). It is Satan who is credited with having
deceived the whole world on this subject, putting evil for good and good for evil, light for darkness and
darkness for light (Rev 12:9; Isa 5:20).
Since the Roman Church is not a single individual but a great religious system, the symbolism indicates
that there will be daughter religious systems of similar character (“Come down and sit in the dust, O
virgin [?] Daughter of Babylon…” Isa 47:1). To this description various Protestant organizations fully
correspond. However, since the daughter systems parted from the mother under circumstances of travail
and were born virgins, some sincere Christians may anxiously inquire, “If all Christendom is to be
involved in the doom of Babylon, what will become of Protestantism, the result of the
Reformation?” This is an important question, but Protestantism, as it exists today, is the result not of
the great Reformation but of its decline.
The claims of apostolic succession and clerical authority are set forth almost as presumptuously by some
of the Protestant clergy as by the papal priesthood. And the right of private, individual judgment
(interpretation)—the fundamental principle of the protest against Papacy that led to the
Reformation—is now opposed almost as strenuously by Protestants as it is by Papists. Protestants
seem to have forgotten—for they truly ignore—the very grounds of the original protest; as systems, they
are fast drifting back toward the open arms of the Holy (?) Mother Church. As Catholics would say,
“Long has our common mother called you to her breast.” (“The Keys of Revelation”, Pages 441,
We will take a look at Verses 6 and 7 next time.
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