What does Revelation 17:15 mean?
ESV: And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.
NIV: Then the angel said to me, 'The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.
NASB: And he *said to me, 'The waters which you saw where the prostitute sits are peoples and multitudes, and nations and languages.
CSB: He also said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute was seated, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.
NLT: Then the angel said to me, 'The waters where the prostitute is ruling represent masses of people of every nation and language.
KJV: And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
NKJV: Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.
Verse Commentary:
In this verse we have the angel's explanation of the imagery of a prostitute (Revelation 17:1) seen in John's vision. The waters on which she sits are "peoples and multitudes and nations and languages." Her corrupt religious system will include false religions all over the world. Some identify this eclectic religious system as the culmination of the ecumenical movement. According to this view, apostate Protestantism, apostate Roman Catholicism, and all world religions will unite and exist as one in the tribulation.

The apostle Paul advised Timothy "that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared" (1 Timothy 4:1–2). The apostle John also predicted the rise of antichristian religion in 1 John 2:18. He wrote: "Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come." Jude warned his readers that ungodly religious teachers had wormed their way into the church. He wrote: "For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4).

Whether by combining all religions, the domination of a single false faith, the invention of a new one, or simply a widespread lack of spiritual truth, the apostasy that began in the first century will grow worldwide during the end times.
Verse Context:
Revelation 17:15–18 continues the angel's explanation of John's symbolic vision, seen in verses 1 through 6. This section focuses on religious Babylon—pictured as a sexually immoral woman—and her judgment. Other Scriptures proclaim the judgment that God eventually brings on apostate religion. A few are Psalm 9:17; 73:27; Isaiah 1:25; 3:11; 34:1–10; Jeremiah 23:9–40; Zechariah 11:17; Luke 12:1–5 Jude; and Revelation 18:1–8.
Chapter Summary:
Revelation 17 zeroes in on God's judgment of Babylon as the center of religious corruption in the tribulation. The target of this wrath seems to be an eclectic form of all apostate religions. This might be a concrete, single religion. Or, it might be a near-religious blending or equalizing of all spiritual beliefs. God views religious Babylon as ''the great prostitute'' that has support from heads of state. This system is both extremely rich and murderous, guilty of martyring saints. It has a past and a renewed existence as a religious-political system. Together, the political heads of state and religious Babylon battle Jesus, the Lamb, but He defeats them. The end of religious Babylon comes when the ten kings turn against her and ruin her. They destroy religious Babylon because God puts it in the hearts to do so.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 16 resumed explaining God's pattern of end times wrath, this time describing the seven bowl judgments. As the last bowl is poured out, John is called to see a vision, which seems to incorporate events occurring throughout the tribulation. This chapter focuses on the fall of religious Babylon. Revelation 14:8 and 16:19 mention Babylon's collapse under the wrath of God in the tribulation. Babylon's ultimate fall may actually occur before the bowl judgments, anytime during the second half of the tribulation. Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 50 and 51 predict the fall of Babylon. Revelation 18 also speaks of the ruin of Babylon, but from a political and economic perspective.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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