I. The Great Whore described.

We start by saying that when we consider the great whore of our text we note that the whole of our text shows that the great whore is not synonymous with the beast. The great whore shares in the power of the beast being that she is his kingdom but the beast is diverse from all other rulers. The beast transcends the kingdom due to the influence of the kingdom itself on all the other kingdoms of men. Here we focus on the person of the great whore described. We say person by way of analogy and not in literalness. The church is known as the bride of Christ by analogy and the bride of Christ is the antitheses of the great whore of the antichrist. That is the first point of our description of the great whore is the character by which she is known. “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters….” The title “great whore” gives us our first clue to the identity of this person. A whore in the Bible, outside of its natural meaning, describes a person, culture, or kingdom that has departed from the truth of God into idol worship (Lev. 20:5, Num. 14:33, 25:1, II Chr. 21:13). When God wanted to describe the wickedness of the nation of Israel in turning to other gods despite His grace toward them, He did so by describing them as committing whoredom (Ezek. 16:17, 20, 22, 25, 26, 28, 33, 34, 36). The entire book of Hosea was an indictment of the whoredom of Israel in departing from God and lewdly going after other gods. This person is not only know as a whore but as a “great” whore. She not only a great whore but she is known “the” great whore. This personage represents the definitive whoredom of the ages; it represents the greatest of apostasies. Therefore we can deduce that this great whore is called those because she bore the name of God or the name of Christ. She is the great apostasy. As in our text the revealing of the antichrist is related to this apostasy: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed…” (II Thess. 2:3). The spirit of whoredom is not only indicative of one that departs from their faith but one that leads others into that destruction. Proverbs personified this person under the term harlot as one that departs from her place and leads men into hell and destruction (See Proverbs 7 and 9 particularly). This woman, as the great whore, is the one that leads and entices mankind into the bed of whoredom which will lead them to hell. “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Prov. 7:27). It is easy for many to read into this a one world religion or church that comes out of existing Christianity; departing from Christ to worship antichrist. This could be the last universal super-church. It is the antithesis of all that the church of Christ is meant to be. The church of Christ is that which chaste and white and expecting the coming of Christ. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 25-27). The great whore is that false church that will come promising instant satisfaction in their sins and no doubt the satanic lie that through antichrist they can be as gods. We are introduced to the great whore in order to see her fall. After this we will see the true church; the Lamb’s wife (19:7).

The next part of our description is the station upon which she sits: she is “the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.” This is a description of the influence of the whore. We will see later in this chapter what is meant by this phrase. The 15th verse declares “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” So the influence of this woman goes beyond the mere borders of her capital; the influence is, according to the third verse, among the inhabitants of the earth as a whole. There is a universal, or dare I here even use the word catholic, influence that the whore has. The fact that we will see later regarding the city of Rome has led many traditional commentators in the belief that the Roman Catholic Church is the whore of our text. That may well be true. Catholicism has its tentacles in every nation and remains a major player in world affairs. When the word Christianity is used, sadly, in modern vernacular it usually is synonymous with Catholic. There is a move among many, so called, Protestant that are moving toward high church values. All the daughters return to their mother. As time passes, by the mutability of that which is called Christian and represented by the Pope in Rome becomes more and more secular, humanistic, and antichristian. This whore has a universal influence over people and nations. That is the station of the whore.

Next we see the sin of the whore. Our text introduces her as the one “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” She committed fornication with the kings of the earth. The fornication here is spiritual. We have spoken at length about the wine of the fornication of Babylon in the 14th chapter. The doctrine of sexual immorality (which we already see the Church of Rome beginning to embrace) and drunkenness is the base of the depravity. But the sin of fornication that the kings of the earth commit is the tails side of the coin of her whoredom. She departed from the true God and the true Christ and she sought instead the glory of the kingdoms of the earth. The spirit of whoredom was well described by Hosea in regards to Israel and it is no doubt an apt description of the last days. “For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the Lord. Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart. My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God” (Hosea 4:10-12). There is a reason that repentance will be refused by that generation; a reason why, time and time again we have read that they would not repent and that reason is the spirit of whoredoms. Again Hosea said, “They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord” Hosea 5:4). The final rejection of God and His Anointed will come from an institution bearing a Christian name. Thus when Christ described the last days He did so in these words: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:11, 12). The final apostasy will come from the Christian world who will turn to iniquity and away from the love of Christ; they will be the Gomer turning from their faithful Hosea to chase other lovers. Instead of looking for the reign of Christ she embraced a post-millennial vision in which they bring about the kingdom of God. This will one day naturally lead to them exalting the antichrist as their king and leading the kings of the earth to do the same. One can see the spiritual fornication of the whore as morphing into a secular humanist universal religious system that embraces all forms of immorality and drunkenness and leads mankind into exalting a false Christ. The inhabitants of the world will drink of her wine. They will become drunk with it. They will follow the beast which will one day carry her. That will be the lasting legacy of the whore. She led the world into the final sin and apostasy.

We move on to see the chief relationship of the whore. “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” John was carried away in the spirit. This is the third time, out of a total of four times, that John was said to be “in the spirit.” He was in the Spirit when he met Christ in the first chapter (1:10). He was in the spirit when he was caught up to see the things yet to come (4:1). And, he will yet be in the spirit when he catches a glimpse of the New Jerusalem (21:10 – note the picture of salvation and revelation in these four instances – John was first in the Spirit [capital S] when he saw Christ [a picture of the Spirit bringing us to salvation through Christ alone] – and then was able to be in the spirit to see things yet to come, the mystery of iniquity and error, and the things that God has in store for us – salvation comes first). Here he sees the mystery of iniquity which already works between the whore and the beast. There is bound to be a four point sermon in there somewhere. The mystery of iniquity is connected with great apostasy, the falling away, and the revealing of the man of sin. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed…” (II Thess. 2:3-8). The mystery of iniquity which we already see in the works today, for those who are in the spirit and are spiritually discerned, will find its full fruition in this relationship. John had to be in the spirit to see this reality. The things of God are only spiritually discerned by those who have the Spirit. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (I Cor. 2:11-14).

The spiritual discernment of John led him into the wilderness. We know what the wilderness is. It is the place between Egypt and the Promised Land where Israel was tested. “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deut. 8:2). It is no wonder we now see that which is called Christianity tried in the wilderness and like the children of Israel turning there to idols (Ps. 78:17, 19). True Israel was brought through and provided for in the wilderness but the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt turned to idols. It is the proving ground. It is there that we see the great apostasy. “I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast….” We know who this beast is. It is the same description here as we studied in the 13th chapter (13:1). He has seven heads and ten horns which is the kingdoms and power of Satan himself (12:3). It is the same beast that has names full of blasphemy (13:1), the one that exalted himself above the God and the Christ that she claimed to follow and worship. The great apostasy is when Christianity goes all in for antichrist. She was sitting upon the beast. She found comfort with the man of sin; with his doctrine and with his blasphemies. Here the beast is said to be scarlet colored. That is the color of mankind’s sins (Isa. 1:18). After all, the beast is the man of sin. That is where she rests and it is a short step to the next verse where she clothes herself in scarlet thinking that it is the royalty of Babylon (Dan. 5:16, 29). The mystery of iniquity is complete, in our time it already works. That which is called Christianity slowly embraces new age apostasy and the love of riches. Nowhere is that more true than in Rome.

The next point we see is the apparel of the whore. “And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication….” We have here a description of the harlot. Purple and scarlet are her colors. Those two colors appear together in the curtains and door hangings of the tabernacle so there is a sense of religiosity (Exo. 26:1, 31). They were also colors of the priestly garments of the old dispensation of the law (Exo. 28:4-6, 8, 15, 33, 39:2). Could it be that this harlot sees herself as a priestly figure? The Catholic Church has long saw itself as mediator between God and man. They have seen themselves as the means of bringing mankind to God and good Catholic will tell you that unless you go through the church there is no way to God. Much of Protestant Christianity has followed suit. They dress in the garb of this false Mary and call themselves Mediatrex. But there is only one way to God and that is through Christ (I Tim. 2:5, John 14:6). There is no priest but Christ. We have already spoken about the color scarlet, the color of sin and the color of the man of sin; the scarlet colored beast above. Purple and scarlet surely tell us something of the doctrine of the whore. But, it is truly the “attire of a harlot” (Prov. 7). Purple speaks of riches and wealth and royalty (Judges 8:26, Song 3:10, 7:5). It is the best of the ware of this world and that is the color that this whore decks herself (Ezek. 27:7, 16, Luke 16:19). But it is a mockery of Christ. Purple and scarlet were colors that Roman soldiers (what a coincidence!) decked Christ with when they mocked Him before crucifying Him (Mark 15:20, John 19:5, Matt. 27:28). No wonder it is the attire of the harlot. It is that for which she sold herself and that which she mocked the true Christ.

She was also decked with gold, precious stones, and pearls. This is the opposite of modest apparel (I Tim. 2:9). In a day of conspicuous spending we understand that this harlot is decked in such a way so her wealth is seen. Go to the third world Catholic nations even today and behind the backdrop of starving patrons is gold plated arches and precious stones of Catholic cathedrals. Modern Christianity is consumed with wealth and prosperity and in doing so they are dressing themselves in the immodest apparel of a whore.

The end of her description is that which is in her hand. She has a golden cup in her hand and that cup is “full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication….” That is what she offered the masses; her fornication. The term abomination speaks of all the acts of mankind that offend God. Filthiness speaks of that which leaves them stained and unclean afterwards (Prov. 30:12). She teaches and enables mankind not only to partake in sin but to ignore the filthiness that stains them. The Christian culture has removed guilt and repentance and replaced it with a system of thought that says that men can do all the sin they want to as long as they come back to the church for the absolving of their guilt. They are serving the Kool-Aid of their harlotry. They lead mankind into whoring after antichrist as she has done. They lead to the final form of the “Christian” world; a Christless Christianity.

Then we see the title of the whore. “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Ellicott reported that it was a usual practice in ancient time for a harlot to wear her name upon her forehead. When Jeremiah was talking of the whoredom of Israel he described Israel in such a manner. “thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed” (Jer. 3:3). The idea of the name being written on the forehead is that it was openly proclaimed. The shame of the whoredom was open and without repentance. It is the antithesis of the true church which at that time will be mostly identified with the 144,000 Israelites who have name of their God written on their forehead (14:1). As one group was known by the name of the Holy God written in their forehead the other was known by the name of whoredom. Your character is a name written upon you. You are an epistle known and read of all men (II Cor. 3:2). True Character cannot be hid. We have seen her already in priestly garb but the character of sin is written on her forehead instead of “Holiness to the Lord” as a true priest (Ex. 28:36).

The name itself is represented in three ways: its latency, its lot, and its legacy. The latency is summed up in the word “mystery.” The text is not clear about who has written this name; did the harlot give herself this name or was it written by God or some other agent? Catholicism has shrouded itself in secrecy and mystery. Protestant Christianity has often done the same thing. But, the fact that this title is in all bold letters (in English and in the original language) which lends credence to the idea that this is a title that God has attached to her. God sees beyond the appearance to the true heart; that which is latent in all of us. We may not see the leaven hidden in the three measures of meal (some have mused that the leaven in that parable was sin and the three measures of meal is Catholism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant forms of Christianity; and the woman hiding the leaven is the whore of our text – maybe so) but God sees the mystery of the leaven working and sees what it will become (Matt. 13:33). Regardless, there is a sinister and wicked end for which Christianity is headed. When speaking of the great end of days apostasy (the falling away) it is connected to this latent mystery; the mystery of iniquity (II Thess. 2:7). This leaven is already working and has been working since the whore put it in the meal; or since Satan planted the tares. Paul warned of the apostolic age concluding with grievous wolves coming into the flock and carry away many disciples (Acts. 20:28-30). It did not take long for the Christian world to follow paganism under the direction of early catholic leaders. Within the first three centuries Mary (pagan goddess) worship was introduced as well as many other heresies. Today that mystery of iniquity still works in the form of false doctrines all of which lead men to trust in men instead of Christ. That mystery will finally work itself out as the “Christian” world embraces antichrist and embraces all forms of open wickedness.

The name not only contains latency but also the lot of the whore. The lot of the whore, according to her name, is BABYLON THE GREAT. Some have pointed out by some that the fact that name begins with the word “mystery” that it names this personification Babylon in figure and not in literal. That is a reasonable assumption. Regardless, this person is known as Babylon. She is the embodiment of the whole of the times of the Gentiles that begins with the head of gold and ends with the end time Roman Empire. She is the embodiment of the empiricism that has sought to conquer worlds and brought under foot the people of God. Since the days of Constantine the image of Daniel 2 has taken on a Christian name. Rome has long held the post-millennial doctrine that calls for conquering the world falsely in the name of Christ (The true kingdom of Christ is not of this world – John 18:36). Not only does she bear the image of Babylon the great in her empiricism and her conquering of the people of God but also in her doctrine. She bears the spirit of Babylon that goes further back than merely the Times of the Gentiles back to the original apostasy of Babel and the kingdom of Nimrod. Babel is where man refused the way of God and tried to make their own way to heaven (Gen. 11). It was there where Mary worship and Baal worship truly began with Nimrod and Semiramis. It was the seed of pagan worship that got translated into ever culture after the scattering of Babel. It is found today to be paganism dressed up in Christian names; the worship of Mary and the saints (Note the same city that worshipped the goddess Diana, the city of Ephesus, became the same city where the Catholic Church declared Mary to be the mother of God). This is Babylon the great, the personification of her empiricism and her idolatry.

The legacy of the whore is summed up in the words, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. There is two things stated here; she is the mother of harlots and she is the mother of abominations of the earth. All that come out of her follow in her unfaithfulness to God. Ye shall know them by their fruit was the words of Christ. Her fruit was generations of people who would not trust Christ but to turn to idols. She is not just the mother of harlots (people who depart from God) but she is the mother of abominations. She is therefore the promoter of lewdness, lasciviousness, and fornication. All manner of wickedness is or will be promoted and praised by her. The latter day Christianity will be the promoter of sin. We see it moving toward that mark already. This is Babylon dressed up in her mystery.

The final thing that we see in our description of the whore is the intoxication of the whore: “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus….” There is a noted difference between this woman and the woman of chapter 12 (the nation of Israel). The woman of chapter 12 was persecuted but this woman is the persecutor. She is intoxicated by the blood of those she persecuted. She is overcome by and filled with the power of the blood which she sheds. There are two classes of those who are persecuted; saints and martyrs. The term saints is a broad term that explains all who have been sanctified or set apart by God for salvation. It speaks of the whole community of believers: who are the heirs of the kingdom of God; “the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever” (Dan. 7:18). It is this community as a whole that is persecuted and killed. Along with the beast that she will ride upon, the whore makes war with the saints (13:7). She is made drunk with the blood of the saints. She hunted them and killed them. She like Saul hailed them from city to city. Down to the specific martyrs she killed them. She like Saul of old was consenting to their death (Acts 22:20). The false Christian system has always hated the true Christian communities. They have always gave voice to the death and bloodshed of their martyrs. From the lions of the Colosseum to the stakes of the Inquisition martyrs bled and she was drunk with their blood. The term “made drunk” speaks of her as the very weapon which slew those that died. Scriptures speak of “the sword [that] devour[s], and it [is] satiate and made drunk with their blood…” (Jer. 46:10). This, like the drunkenness of Noah, leads to her ultimate shame (Gen. 9:21). She made the nations drunk with the wine of her fornication and she herself was made drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs. She made herself fit for judgment and hell.

Thus John, after seeing this woman said “I wondered with great admiration.” Apparently the admiration had to do with a lack of understanding on who the woman was and how she fit in the grand scheme of things yet to come and therefore the angel in the following verse begins to explain these things. However, it is amazing still to look the apostle holding this false system up in admiration. One cannot help but look at modern apostate Christianity and admire it. It has wealth and means. It has works and beautiful coverings. It is amazing how it demands devotion from those who follow it. It is amazing how it blindly continues in its error. There is much to admire in the appearance of the whore but for whatever fair show she has she will fail in comparison to the true Bride in her purity.