Exegetical look into Revelation 17:3-5

31 07 2010

 

  • Carried me away/in the spirit. Usually means “spiritual ecstasy,” that is, to be caught up in a vision (not necessarily teleportation, although it can be). The term is not referring to the Holy Spirit, but can mean being influenced by Him (Ezek. 8:3; 11:1-24; Rev. 1:10; 4:2; 21:10).
  • Desert/wilderness refers to the Exodus, but this time, a new exodus. This can also mean demonic—what is evil and foreboding or barren and desolate (Rev. 12:14).
  • Scarlet. Perhaps referring to blood that was spilt from the killing—the martyrs of God’s people. This can also be a retort on the seduction of the shrine prostitutes and their wealth and impiety, and also sinful conduct. (This is the passage for the theme of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic work, “The Scarlet Letter” of 1850!) This has nothing to do with a “red heifer” (holy cow) or a ‘scapegoat.” Such a view shows the necessity to read the Bible and not the daily newspaper or depend on our presumptions for our views on eschatology. Because Christ’s sacrifice is complete, we can add nothing to it now or in the future (Num. 19; Lev. 16; Jer. 4:30; Matt. 27:28; Heb. 9:19; Rev.13:1; 18:12).
  • Beast is probably the same beast mentioned in chapter 13, a possible reference to the Roman goddess “Roma” and the legend of the “she-wolf.” Also, it could be an image for Rome and its corruption. Ironically, in Rome’s quest and lust for luxury, they ended up destroying themselves into the dark ages of extreme poverty (Dan. 8).
  • Blasphemous names infers that God’s name is not worthy; whereas, in reality, He is worthy. (See Revelation 13:1-4 study.)
  • Seven heads refers to supernatural manipulation or the appearance of it, as in tricking people (Rev. 13:1).
  • Dressed in purple and scarlet refers to the “royal colors” of priests; here, it is perverted and used for idolatry. This also refers to the excess and “over the top” luxury at the expense of others. Such colors and clothing dyes were very rare and expensive. It may also refer to Jezebel and her wickedness and idolatry as adultery. Martin Luther was convinced this referred to the papacy he called “popery.” Thus, a contrast of goodness and evil (Ex. 20:1-3; Rev. 12:1; 18:7).
  • Glittering with gold… a symbol of contempt, slander, and/or a disrespect for authority, as pious women had head covering and prostitutes adorned their hair (1 Cor. 11:3-16).
  • Cup refers to indulgences and what one dishes out, promotes, and uses.
  • Forehead refers to being unashamed of sin!
  • Mystery means a “secret symbol” used in Gnosticism and the false religions at that time that demanded its people go through ridiculous rituals and initiation rites. This is what is referred to as apostasy (2 Thess. 2:3-7). 
  • Babylon the Great. Here it refers to great confusion when associated with the key words in verse 1, waters and mystery. Babylon was also an early church code word for Rome and also for false worship and oppression which will be addressed in the next two chapters of Revelation (Jer. 51:12-13; Psalm 137:1; Rev. 14:8; 17:15).
  • The mother of prostitutes/the great whore. A Jewish saying meaning “abomination,” ‘terrible,” and “confusion rests on the people.” This is an image of extreme evils, oppression, sexual exploitations, and the seductions of the world, referring to the evils of paganism and immorality and rationalizing it as OK (Lev 18:23; Jer. 3:3; Ezek-. 27; Hos. 2:2; Rev. 2:23; 7:3; 13:6).

 


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