2

Text from the Book of Revelation reads:

Revelation 17:4-5: [On the woman's] forehead a name was written, a mystery, 'BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH'" (emphasis added).

If we compare this to Peter's words in his First Letter:

1 Peter 5:13: "She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark" (emphasis added).

Are these euphemisms for the same person, place, or thing?

1

The answer to this question depends on one's eschatology.

  • Preterists (many not all) believe that Babylon of Revelation 17 is the same Babylon of 1 Peter 5:13
  • Historicists suggest that both refer to Rome - 1 Peter 5:13 is literal Rome and Revelation's Babylon is the end-time coalition called spiritual Rome composed of the Beast Trinity of the Dragon, the sea beast and the land beast
  • Dispensationalists and futurists vary widely on this point but still subscribe to a number of variation of the Historicist position.

In any case, 1 Peter 5:13, most agree, is literal Rome but Rev 17 is discussing a religious power, either Rome in 1st century (preterists) or an end-time religious power that persecutes the saints.

0

Are the harlot, “Babylon the Great” from Rev. 17:5, and “Babylon” from 1 Peter 5:13 synonymous?

Probable Answer: Yes.

With respect, I am responding to this from an amillennial perspective. I do not claim to be an expert on the Book of Revelation, but I have learned a few things about biblical symbolism.

Apparently, that may be unpalatable to some, which seems a great shame. So be it: I accept that responsibility since I find the amillennial view to this highly symbolic work fascinating.


Somewhat recently, I encountered a few, those with whom I am in agreement doctrinally, state that the second half of Revelation is a reiteration of the first half. That is, if you believe the first half is speaking about Jerusalem, so then must the second half be. Conversely, others will argue that if the first half relates to Rome, then so too must the second.

This seems especially puzzling because it seems to me that the interpretation does not bear this out. There are (at least) two basic questions that disallow this approach in my opinion as I will try to demonstrate.

I. How are the following verses describing Jerusalem whatsoever? (Note that I am not proposing that Jerusalem is not in view in the Book):

Revelation 17:1b-5: “Come here, I [the angel] will show you [John] the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” 3And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.

4The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, 5and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

First, it seems very clear to me that the "harlot" beginning in verse 1 is Rome, irrespective of your view of the first half of the Book. The city of Rome "sat on many waters," indeed it is surround by the sea. The reference to "kings of the earth" must surely be those who indulged Rome through their trade and economic cooperation (among other things). Many of them were no doubt subsequently rewarded for their services through receipt of idolatrous Roman abominations and decadent perversions.

I feel it is perfectly reasonable to view the meaning of "[those] who dwell on the earth were [drunk] with the wine of [the harlot's] immorality" as those nations in close partnership with Rome. Again, in verse 3, John sees this atrocious "woman" with seven heads and ten horns, the same woman, Rome -- "The City on Seven Hills", is being portrayed. Many of the inhabitants of Rome were wealthy beyond imagination (in their day), thus the reference to "being clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls." Their debauchery, based on some historical accounts, knew no limits.

II. Another nail in the coffin for me (against the view the Book is a reiteration of itself) seems to be this: the woman is called "Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots and abominations." Now, Jerusalem might be considered many things, but it is never referred to as "Babylon." The descriptions in these verses simply cannot apply to Judah and Jerusalem -- in my opinion.

Then, we should not overlook the fact that while in Rome, Peter makes this statement, referenced in the OP:

1 Peter 5:13: "She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my [Peter's] son, Mark."

It is unclear (to me) who "she" is here (not an expert: Mary?), but there is no mistaking Peter's reference to Rome as "Babylon."

Often, certain confusion arises by a passage much earlier in the Book:

Revelation 11:8: "And [the two witnesses' (Moses and Elijah: O/T)] dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified."

[NOTE: I have embedded my proposal that the two witnesses were Moses and Elijah, emblematic of the O/T Law. This can be seen through the power granted to them by God when they were alive:

Revelation 11:6: "These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying [Elijah]; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague [Moses]."]

Israel shamefully disregarded the Old Testament (Moses, Elijah) not being satiated by the murder of their own Messiah. The "bodies" of these witnesses symbolically lay in the streets because the degenerate Jewish nation had forsaken the power of God through them. Thus:

Revelation 11:10: "these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth."]

Now the passage of Revelation 11:8 above appears to confound many since, upon reading this, they are convinced the rest of the Book is solely about the nation of Israel and no other. However, there can be no doubt that the characterization: "Sodom and Egypt... where also their Lord was crucified" is representative of Israel, another nation of great sin described earlier in the Book.

It is a simple matter of fact that Christ was indeed crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem. I believe the Book should, therefore, be differentiated into two separate judgments: 1) that of Israel, and later 2) that of Rome. This is significant because it helps provide a more thorough interpretation that otherwise represents a great challenge to many.

These and other considerations, beyond the scope of this response that draw the two verses in the OP together, where "Babylon" in both instances is decidedly Rome. The repercussion of this leads me to conclude that (roughly) the first half of the Book of Revelation (chapters 6 through 11 or so) is describing the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70, while the second half (approx. chapters 13-19 or so) is describing judgment against Rome.

Perhaps the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 78 is partially in view in the latter chapters? Whatever the case, God brings judgment against Rome as well as (much earlier) Israel. It would have been easier if the passages under consideration occurred earlier in the Book for the purposes of this discussion.

For those who do have an interest in such symbolism, I have offered my 2¢ on the matter.

0

I Peter 5:13

CITATIONS Notes
―I Pet. 5:13―
13The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
▷ "She" is rendered as "Church" in other translations.
―I Pet. 5:13 fn.―
"BABYLON: Rome. A metaphor probably founded on Jewish usage."
(The Holy Bible, Douay Version. Nihil Obstat: John M. Fearns, S.T.D., Imprimatur: Francis Cardinal Spellman, D.D., New York: C. Wildermann Co. Inc., 1950.)
(Reference)
▷ The term "Babylon" itself means "Rome".
―Rom. 16:16―
16Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
(Supporting)
▷ The Church had a congregation in Rome.
Conclusion: ► The Babylon in I Pet. 5:13 refers to one of the localities reached by the Church at that time.

Revelation 17:5

CITATIONS Notes
―Rev. 17:5―
5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
▷ Babylon the Great is a woman: a harlot.
―II Cor. 11:2―
2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
▷ The church built by Christ is also a woman: a chaste virgin.
Conclusion: ► Babylon the Great is the church opposite to the one built by Christ.

While the harlot bears the name of Rome, it is not Rome herself, but rather aligned with and seated on it. As we're told, the woman sits on a scarlet beast, who is made up of seven heads.

Rev. 17:3
3So 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.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

The seven heads symbolize seven hills.

Rev. 17:9
9"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.
(The Holy Bible: New International Version. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Biblica, Inc. 2011.)

That which consists of seven hills is the ancient City of Rome.

New Ency. Britannica, Vol. 10, p. 665
"SEVEN HILLS OF ROME, group of hills on or about which the ancient city of Rome was built. The original city of Romulus was built upon Palatine Hill (Latin: Mons Palatinus). The other hills are the Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine ..."
(The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed. Micropaedia. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1976.)

Though seated in Rome, the harlot's breadth is universal, spanning many waters.

Rev. 17:1
1Then 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,
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

The water symbolizes all the world's nations.

Rev. 17:15
15Then the angel spoke to me. “You saw the waters the prostitute sits on,” he said. “They stand for all the nations of the world, no matter what their race or language is.
(The Holy Bible. New International Reader’s Version. Colorado Springs, CO, USA: International Bible Society, 1998.)

The world's kings would give themselves over to her in fornication.

Rev. 17:2
2With 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.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
Rev. 18:3
3For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

Rather than keeping herself for Christ, the harlot has entered a faithless union with heads of state. It is from these kings which the harlot would acquire power.

Rome, the Scarlet Beast, with whom the harlot is aligned, is itself among those heads of state―beasts symbolizing kings.

Dan. 7:17
17These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

This is where the path of the virgin and the harlot intersect: By the power acquired through the heads of state, the harlot will kill those loyal to Jesus.

Rev. 17:6
6And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God's people and the blood of those who were killed because they had been loyal to Jesus. When I saw her, I was completely amazed.
(Good News Bible: Today’s English Version. New York: United Bible Societies, 1992.)

Rome itself has killed Christians in the past, but what does the woman have to do with this?

The next part is sensitive in nature, and I know I'll lose most of you in the following paragraphs. But I write this not with the intention to offend.

I stated in the beginning that the harlot also refers to a church. It's important that we know how this church came to be.

It is forewarned that many Christians would fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.

I Tim. 4:1
1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

That which has become the habitation of devils and hold of foul spirits is Babylon the Great.

Rev. 18:2
2And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

These are the Christians that fell away from the faith, who formerly were the dwelling place of God.

Let's review what we know about the woman.

  1. Her doctrines are of devils.
  2. Her breadth is universal.
  3. Her name is taken after Rome.
  4. Her bloodlust against those loyal to Jesus is enabled by her union with the State.

𝐈. She is that which heeded devilish doctrines. Two such doctrines:

  • Prohibition from marriage.
  • Commanding to abstain from meats.
I Tim. 4:3
3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

The Catholic Church prohibits her ordained priests from marrying.

F. of Our Fathers, p. 345
"The discipline of the Church has been exerted from the beginning in prohibiting Priests to marry after their ordination."
(The Faith of our Fathers, by James Cardinal Gibbons, New York: P.J. Kennedy & Sons, 1917.)
Hist. Dict. of Cath., p. 91
"Celibacy. (From Lt caelebs, ‘unmarried.’) Abstention from marriage and sexual activity. ... A movement toward celibacy of the clergy is first seen in the early fourth century. ... It remains the norm of the Roman Rite: married men may not be ordained priests, though they may be ordained deacons. No one may marry after ordination."
(Historical Dictionary of Catholicism. By William J. Collinge. Second Edition. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2012.)

She commands her members to abstain from meat on certain days of the year.

M. of Chr. Doc., p. 317
"What does the second commandment of the Church order us to do?"
"It orders us to fast and to abstain from flesh meat on certain days of the year."
(Manual of Christine Doctrine: Comprising Dogma, Moral, and Worship. New York: Lasalle Bureau, 1949.)
C. of Canon Law, p. 173
"Canon 1251: Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday."
(The Code of Canon Law. Collins Liturgical Publications: Piccadilly, London, 1983.)

𝐈𝐈. She is universal in scope. The word Catholic is derived from the Greek word for universal.

Cath. Cat. II, p. 146
"The word ‘Catholic’ means ‘universal’, ‘extending all over the world’."
(Catholic Catechism, Part II. Imprimatur: Rufinus J. Cardinal Santos. Manila: Catholic Trade School, 1961.)
Hist. Dict. of Cath., p. 1
"“Catholic” comes from a Greek word meaning “universal” or “comprehensive.” ... as the Second Vatican Council says, ... “The unique church of Christ, which in the creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic ... subsists in the Catholic Church,"
(Historical Dictionary of Catholicism. By William J. Collinge. Second Edition. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2012.)

𝐈𝐈𝐈. She bears the name Rome and is seated therein. The name Roman Catholic is derived from the fact that the universal church is seated in Rome.

Cath. Cat. II, p. 146
"The Church is called Roman Catholic because its chief ruler is the lawful bishop of Rome."
(Catholic Catechism, Part II. Imprimatur: Rufinus J. Cardinal Santos. Manila: Catholic Trade School, 1961.)
Marks of the True Church (article from catholic-pages.com)
"The True Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. Only the Roman Catholic Church can validly claim all four marks."
(“Marks of the True Church.” catholic-pages.com. All original material, design and compilation © 1996-2007. www.catholic-pages.com. Retrieved 6 July 2016.)

𝐈𝐕. She would align herself with the State and kill those loyal to Jesus. In 800 A.D., the Roman Catholic Church aligned herself with the Roman Empire, availing for herself the power of physical force however desired.

M. World, p. 89
"Papacy and empire were to stand side by side, each supreme in its own sphere, the emperor being ever ready to support with physical force the spiritual government of the pope and to defend all the interests of the Church of God on earth."
"The great act of A.D. 800 in St. Peter's Basilica was the beginning of that intimate union between Church and State, which in spite of many shortcomings must ever be considered as the nearest realization of the true ideal relation between the two which the world has ever known."
(The Modern World. Rev. Francis S. Betten, S.J. and Rev. Alfred Kaufmann, S.J. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1942.)

In 1184 A.D., she used this power in creating the Papal or Universal Inquisition, which tortured and killed thousands of Christians who resisted the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

M. World, p. 344
"... the Church created a special tribunal, the Papal or Universal Inquisition. The essential features of its method were fixed by a set of laws passed jointly by Pope Lucius III and Emperor Barbarossa in 1184. The minor details had been added by 1230. Such spiritual courts of justice were established in localities most infected by erroneous teachings. ...
"The state, too, considered heresy as a crime, because it undermined the foundations of public welfare. The penalty fixed by the secular laws of heresy was death by fire."
(The Modern World. Rev. Francis S. Betten, S.J. and Rev. Alfred Kaufmann, S.J. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1942.)
T.A.T.I., p. 49 & 47
"‘The first law of history’, declared by Pope Leo XIII, as we mentioned previously, ‘is to assert nothing false and to have no fear of telling the truth’. In conformity with that wise principle, we frankly acknowledge the responsibility of the popes in the use of torture and in the burning of thousands of heretics at the stake."
"The Church in the person of her pontiffs was responsible for the use of torture; this cruel practice was introduced by Innocent IV in 1252. ...
"Neither can the Church escape responsibility for sending heretics to be burnt to death at the stake. The mere subterfuge of having the victim turned over to the secular arm cannot hide the fact that the popes repeatedly insisted under the pain of excommunication and interdict upon rulers enforcing the death penalty against heretics."
(The Truth About the Inquisition, by Rev. John A. O'Brien, Ph.D., LL.D., Nihil Obstat: Thomas E. Dillon, Imprimatur: John F. Noll, New York: Paulist Press, 1950.)

Babylon the Great refers to the Roman Catholic Church. As to what we're supposed to do with this information, the Bible tells us to come out so as to be saved.

Rev. 18:4 & 8
4And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
8Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

As to where one should enter after that is an answer for a different question.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.