Revelation 17:1-6: The Great Prostitute


  • Her influence
  • Her appearance


The book of Revelation can be understood through the lens of counterfeiting. We have noted in the past how there is the Trinity and there is the anti-trinity of the dragon and two beasts. Well there is another aspect to this, just as Christ has a bride, so the beast who is a mockery of Christ has a bride. But where Christ dies for His bride to save her we see that the beast will rise and kill his bride. The parallels are striking:

  • Both peoples are portrayed as women.
  • Both are portrayed as cities, the prostitute as Babylon and the church as the New Jerusalem.
  • Both sit on many waters.
  • Both are killed by the beast but the church dies to rise again, 11:7, 11.
  • Where the prostitute rides the beast, the Bride is trampled under the feet of the beast 11:2.
  • The prostitute serves the beast but the Bride serves Christ.
  • The prostitute seeks to seduce the world and lead it into sin, the Bride seeks to preach to the world and lead them into holiness.
  • The prostitute is promiscuous and unfaithful, the Bride is faithful.
  • The prostitute is immoral and impure, the Bride is holy.
  • The prostitute is full of wealth and pomp the Bride is humble and poor.
  • The prostitute is dressed in scarlet as a prostitute, the Bride in white wedding garments.
  • The prostitute holds a golden cup that appears to offer good things but is full of poison; the Bride holds a communion cup with the promise of new life.
  • The prostitute is the mother of all prostitutes, the bride the mother of the faithful.
  • The prostitute is the source of all of earth’s abominations; the church is a light to the world.
  • The prostitute is drunk and the Bride is sober.
  • The prostitute is a people united under the devil’s influence doing his will of sin, the Bride is a people united under Christ and doing His will.
  • The prostitute manufactures the spirit of the age which is always in agreement with sin and against God; the Bride incarnates the culture of the age to come and is always in agreement with God and against sin.
  • The prostitute will drink the cup of God’s fury; Christ has already drunk this for the Bride and now we will drink at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Our portion is the Lord’s detailing of Babylon’s judgement. V1, ‘Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgement of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters.’ This is a judgement that has been hinted at in 14:8, ‘Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”’
And, 16:19, ‘The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.’ This is the great enemy of God’s people, the human arm of the devil’s actions against the church and God wants the church to know in detail how she will be judged for her sins. Babylon is the symbol for the collective anti-God, anti-Church actions by mankind since the Garden of Eden. Just as we can divide the human race up into believers and unbelievers, or the wise and the foolish, the righteous and the unrighteous, so we can collectively divide them up into their citizenship of Babylon or the New Jerusalem. Everyone belongs to one of these two cities. The next two chapters detail this fall of Babylon.

Today we will look at the first 6 verses and note her influence and appearance.