The Whore of Babylon and the Beast (Revelation 17:1—19:10)

This section zeroes in on two of the most villainous characters of the Apocalypse, the Whore of Babylon and the Beast (sometimes called the Antichrist). Babylon was the center of the infamous Babylonian empire, which enslaved and scattered many Jews in the Old Testament. The word “Babylon” and the “Whore of Babylon” can also represent pagan Rome or the secular world, for that matter. “Whore” or “Prostitute” can have more than just sexual connotation. The prophets accused Israel of prostituting the faith, or John could just be talking about pagan Rome or about any believers who water down their principles and allow worldly desires to infect their religious values.

“I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: Mystery Babylon The Great The Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth” (Revelation 17:3—5).

In the thirteenth century A.D., Thomas Aquinas defined evil as the “privation of good”; in other words, the absence of something which should be there. Modern ideologies often portray good and evil as equal “forces” in the universe.

The Beast is someone distinct and separate from the devil or Satan, who is given such titles as the “Prince of Darkness,” “the Accuser,” “the Evil One,” “the Adversary”, and so forth. Whether or not the Beast is somehow the son of Satan in a biological sense is speculation. Spiritually, however, he is the offspring of Satan, possibly the progeny of the serpent in Genesis 3:15. In any event, the Beast, as described in the Book of Revelation, will lead many astray through lies, false doctrine, sexual immorality, violence, greed, and other sinful acts.

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