Exegetical look into Revelation 17:6-11

13 08 2010

 

  • Drunk with the blood of the saints/martyrs/witnesses…testimony to Jesus. Saints here refers to “witnesses” as in a court of law, of Christ whose testimony showed who He is. This is a comparison of what is evil to what is good, a parody of evil and why we need to have hope and trust in Christ (Is. 23:17; Jer. 51:7; Acts 22:20; Rev. 2:13; 14:8; 16:6; 17:6; 18:3).
  • Greatly astonished/wondered. John was “marveled” as in awestruck by the audacity of the situation; this is not admiration as in approval, rather astonishment with disgust (2 Cor. 11:14). 
  • Once was, now is not, and will come up/that was, and is not, and yet is. Perhaps John sees that Satan is active for a time and then is stopped. This also means the beast’s power was gone or limited for a time, and then he rises up for a final battle. Some see this as Satan’s actual appearance on earth. Also, this is the symbol that evil is persistent, the universal struggle between good and evil, between God and Satan, even when we do not see it or admit to it. This phrase also alludes that persecutions are coming’ persecutions tend to have a pattern, as told in Daniel. This, in context, means the attempt to counterfeit God, as the Lamb of God (Gen 3:1, Job 1:7; Dan. 7; 1 John 12:31, 16:7-11; Acts 1:16-18; 2 Thess. 2:7;1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 1:4-8,18; 2:8; 4:8; 9:1-11; 13:2-3; 12:9-10; 20:7).
  • Book of life. (See Revelation Study 13:5-8)
  • Go to his destruction. Evil will have its day of judgment, and its ultimate fate has been set by God. This may also be referring that although evil is a genuine reality and it is unrelenting, there will be a time to come when God places a stop to it. He also limits it, for the believer, with His grace by not allowing anything to come to us that we can’t bear or learn from (John 15:16; 17:12; Acts 15:10-11; Rom. 13:4; 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Thess. 2:3).
  • Will be astonished. Evil will be judged; in the meantime, they will think they are in the clear and are doing OK. This is a great comfort for struggling Christians under persecution (Rev 20:1-3, 7-10).
  • Seven heads are seven hills. Refers to Rome, as the original Rome was an association of seven hill colonies on the bank of the Tiber River. This also refers to its festival of “Septimontium.” This was an image on some of the Roman coins (Rev. 2:14).
  • Seven hills. In context the words “mountains” or “nations” mean political kingdoms or territories. This was also a common title, literary pictogram, and symbol for Rome. Its banner and seal bore an image of “the city on seven hills.” (Roman writers of the time used this image such as Martial, Virgil, and Cicero.) In Jewish writings, this meant judgment (Sibylline Oracles 2:18; 11:109-116). John often uses complementary symbols to make his point as he does with kings in this passage.
  • Seven kings. From the first emperor Augustus, to Domitian, there were seven; thus, it is a possible connection to the then current state in Rome to the Seven Churches, or a metaphor for us on corruption and the dangers of following it. This can also be a metaphor for the power of the Roman Empire or the succession of the mighty, ancient kingdoms of Egypt, Babylon, Meads, Persia, Rome, and/or one that was forgotten or yet to come. The main meaning for us is that we as Christians do not need to fear any evil power—past, present, or future! All of the kings were dead or will die and God is still in control. There were many myths in the Emperor Worship cults that the dead emperors would rise, come back, and seek revenge on all those who do not worship them. This was very popular and feared (Rev. 13).
  • Five have fallen. May refer to the cycle of persecutions or that in the succession of the seven Roman Emperors at the time of the writing, two are left to come.
  • Destruction. Referring to “perdition,” as that evil is self destructive and will fall upon itself.
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