Revelation 17:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 17:4, NIV: 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.

Revelation 17:4, ESV: The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.

Revelation 17:4, KJV: And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

Revelation 17:4, NASB: The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls, holding in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her sexual immorality,

Revelation 17:4, NLT: The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality.

Revelation 17:4, CSB: The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, jewels, and pearls. She had a golden cup in her hand filled with everything detestable and with the impurities of her prostitution.

What does Revelation 17:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

John's vision here is of a "great prostitute," representing a "religious Babylon" which sets itself opposed to God. Infamous alongside other end-times figures such as the Antichrist and the False Prophet, this symbolic character is sometimes labelled the "Whore of Babylon" (Revelation 17:5).

This verse portrays religious Babylon as extremely rich. John reports her wearing purple and scarlet attire. These were the colors of very expensive dyed clothing that Roman officials and royalty wore. In order to be like the officials, those who could afford purple and scarlet clothing purchased it as a sign of upper-class affluence. Acts 16 relates the conversion of Lydia of Philippi. She was a seller of purple and apparently a well-to-do businesswoman. The woman John saw in this vision, religious Babylon, was adorned with gold, jewels, and pearls.

This description emphasizes again that religious Babylon is strongly supported by the wealth and status of the world. This is not a poor, shunned, disgraced figure, but one celebrated and beloved by the world. However, she is spiritually and morally bankrupt. She holds in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and sexual immorality. This point partly connects to the Bible's comparison of idolatry to sexual sin (Ezekiel 16:16). At the same time, John's vision also suggests the debauchery of banquets of the first century, in which drunkenness and sexual immorality occurred. Perhaps the woman is leading a toast to the beast from the sea (Revelation 13:1), the powerful world ruler with whom she shares an alliance.