What does Revelation 17:2 mean?John has been told to view a highly symbolic vision: a prostitute symbolizing a false and ungodly form of religion. This system is given the name Babylon (Revelation 17:5), frequently discussed as the "Whore of Babylon."
This verse emphasizes the extent of spiritual corruption religious Babylon exerts over international leaders. "Sexual immorality" is a literal sin, but it's often used figuratively in the Bible to represent spiritual apostasy and idolatry. This imagery is meant to link the temptation to seek other gods, and the shameful acts which follow, to a person who is tempted with sexual immorality, with degrading and unhealthy behavior following as a result. Both are associated with betrayal of a person to whom the immoral person ought to have been loyal.
For example, 2 Chronicles 21 says King Jehoram did evil in the sight of the Lord and had forsaken the Lord, the God of his fathers. Verse 11 charges that "he made high places in the hill country of Judah and led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom and made Judah go astray." Isaiah also carried God's indictment to the people of Jerusalem. He stated that the city that was once faithful to the Lord had become immoral and unjust and had become a whore (Isaiah 1:21). Ezekiel 16:16, too, charged the people of Israel with sexual immorality—idolatry. The verse states: "You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore."
The reference here to sexual immorality might include some aspects of physical sexual sin, but it primarily points to the idolatrous worship of the beast by the world leaders and their citizens (Revelation 13:11–12).