What does Revelation 17:4 mean?
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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:
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.
Revelation 17:1–7 depicts a system of corrupt religion from which God calls upon His people to withdraw (Revelation 18:4; 2 Corinthians 6:14–18). This religious system is referred to using the name Babylon; the following chapter will use similar names and symbols to describe a ''political Babylon.'' This religion is state-sponsored, like the Baal worship imported from Phoenicia by Jezebel, King Ahab's wife (1 Kings 16:29–33). Just as Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4), so religious Babylon will murder many tribulation believers. In a literal sense, this suggests the one-world religion of the Antichrist and the False Prophet, but it also has implications for worldly and false religious teachings of our present time.
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 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.
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.''
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:13:35 AM
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