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Revelation 17:1-6 “The Woman and The Scarlet Colored Beast”

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Rev 17:1-6 KJV

(1)  And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
(2)  With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
(3)  So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
(4)  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:
(6)  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.



In the previous chapter, we have seen the contents of trumpet 7, in other words bowls 1-7,  which spoke of God’s wrath being poured out upon Satan’s kingdoms at the second coming of Christ.   As bowl seven was poured out, we saw the wrath of God being brought to completion and the kingdoms of Satan totally destroyed.

Now, in chapters 17: and 18:, we see a detailed look at this kingdom that has just been destroyed…

1.   In chapter 17: we take a step back and review the identity and characteristics of Satan’s kingdom. In this text, we have the two aspects of Satan’s kingdom symbolized by the two main characters being presented to us… “the Great Whore” (the religious aspects of Satan’s kingdom) and “the Scarlet Colored Beast” (the political aspects of Satan’s kingdom).

[Please note Revelation 13: where the “Great Whore” in this passage symbolized as the “Beast from the Earth”, while the “Scarlet Beast”  is symbolized as the “Beast from the Sea”.  This description also links these to a description of Satan as the scarlet dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns in Rev 12:]


2.   In chapter 19: we will see warnings that are given to mankind living now to depart from these kingdoms that are destined to fall under the hand of Almighty God.

A brief outline of the coming chapters:

Chapter 17: The Identity and Characteristics of Satan’s Kingdom

17:1-6 – The Woman and The Scarlet Beast Introduced
17:7-17 – The Scarlet Beast In Detail
17:18 – The Woman In Detail


Chapter 18:  The Warnings To Depart From Satan’s Kingdom

18:1-3 – Announcement Of Babylon’s Fall
18:4-8 – Warning To God’s People
18:9-10 – Warning To Kings
18:11-17a – Warning To Merchants
18:17b-20 – Warning To Mariners
18:21-24 – Angel With The Millstone




Rev 17:1-6 KJV


The Woman and the Beast Introduced: 

(1)  And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me,

One of the seven angels that had just delivered the seven vials of God’s wrath, comes to John and reveals details about the target of the vials of wrath, Satan’s kingdom… 


Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore

Remember, the judgment of the great whore, has just been fulfilled.  The angel now wants to review what John has just seen taking place.  He is doing this to clarify in John’s mind the wicked character of Satan’s kingdom (chapter 17) and the need for mankind to separate themselves from that kingdom before it is too late (chapter 18)

Who is this “great whore”?

We will see that she is a picture of the religious kingdoms of Satan…

  1. She is unfaithful to the Lord,
  2. she is guilty of seducing men away from the truth to error,
  3. she is guilty of committing spiritual fornication (spiritual unclean unions with the world)
  4. she is guilty of spiritual adultery (spiritual unfaithfulness to those she has been united)
  5. she is shameless and publically seeking others to join her in sinfulness
  6. etc etc etc

This is why she is symbolized as a “whore”. 

These descriptions will be taken from Isa 23:15-17, Jere 3:1-10, 4:30, 5:6-7, 51:6-8, Ezek 16:15-34,  Zechariah 5: etc. 


that sitteth upon many waters: 

Satan’s religious powers are said to be sitting on many waters which symbolizes her great influence and sway over masses of unsettled humanity.  The lost are her “throne”.  although rejected and opposed by God, in these vast numbers of lost humanity that she receives authority and strength.  She is both exalted over and in control of lost mankind.

Think of all the false religions of the world and the amount of lost humanity that are under their authority.  These lost people are like a sea tossed to and fro with untrue teachings , ungrounded,  and constantly wavering in error.     

(Please keep in mind that when the Bible pictures false religions these include not only those groups who lead men to worship a false god, but also humanism, atheism, mammonism, and other belief structures that lead to worship/submission of men or other idols found in this fallen world).


(2)  With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication,

The political authorities of the world create unlawful unions with the religious kingdoms of Satan.  We see this all the time with national religions.  They then work together hand in hand.  The national religion encourages its followers to submit to the laws of the land, while the political powers threaten punishment to those who teach in opposition to the national religion.

“fornication” comes from a Greek word for “uncleanness” and is the root of the title “whore” as well.  Both of these emphasize to us that these unions are sinful unions, not made under the Lord’s approval and authority, just as physical fornication is a sexual union that takes place without the Lord’s approval or authority.


and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

Because of this unlawful union between the political and religious kingdoms of Satan, we see all of lost mankind seduced to take part in this illicit union as well.  They come to these two great kingdoms and join with them, creating a union that displeases the Lord and commits heinous acts of uncleanness in the world. 

Here, the sinful condition of the kingdoms, and those who participate in them, is pictured by being drunken with wine…  uncontrolled behavior, the constant seeking to fulfill their fleshly lusts, being overcome with their own sins.  This is symbolism being given to us to show these kingdoms, and their members, slavery to their carnal lusts. 

These are the characters that the angel will now show John in greater detail… 


(3)  So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness:

John is said to be “carried away” only twice in Revelation.  Here, he is taken away to see Satan’s kingdom, and also in Rev 21:10 when he is taken to see New Jerusalem, the eternal kingdom of God!

What does it mean that John was “in the Spirit”?  He was totally surrounded by the Holy Spirit’s power which allowed him to see these wonderful visions.

John is said to be taken “into the wilderness”.  The word translated “wilderness” means “desert” or “a place that is destitute of life”.  What a statement to make.   For John to be shown the kingdoms of Satan, he will have to be taken to the place where there is no life (spiritual life).    He will be looking at Satan, his kingdoms, and lost mankind…. no evidence of spiritual life exists within any of this group of sinful beings.


and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast,

John is now shown the two aspects of this kingdom.  The religious powers are symbolized by the woman, the political powers symbolized by the beast upon which she sits.

The woman sitting upon the beast symbolizes three things for us:

  1. she is associated to the beast – the nations of the world and the beast work together (forming of national religions)
  2. she is supported by the beast – citizens are forced to participate in the national religion
  3. the beasts is controlled by the woman – the false religions keep the citizenry in submission to the beast and hold great influence in the policy making of the beast

The beast is said to be scarlet colored.  Compare the following description of the scarlet beast with the description of the beast from the sea in Rev 13: Clearly this is speaking of the same Satanic kingdom.

Scarlet symbolizes:

  1. shed blood (of Christ – Exo 25:-29:, Josh 2:18-21) –
  2. great authority (Gen 38:28-30, Dan 5:7,16,29)
  3. sinfulness (Isa 1:18)

Satan’s political power is guilty of martyrdom (shedding the blood of Christ’s people);  holds great political authority over its citizens; and is characterized by sinful laws, deeds and motivations.


full of names of blasphemy,

Each of the nations of the world are overflowing with laws and works that speak evil of God, opposing His will and ways.  Even the most Godly of nations (USA for example) can be seen gradually falling away from the truths of God and accepting the sinful ways of the world (abortions, homosexuality, taking Lord out of schools, silencing truth through politically correct speech etc.) 


having seven heads and ten horns.

This beast is said to have seven heads, each of which symbolize one of the great world empires:

1.  Egypt;
2.  Assyria;
3.  Babylon;
4.  Medo-Persia;
5.  Greece;
6.  Rome;
7.  The various, diverse kingdoms who became world powers following the Roman Empires fall … (some of these include Russia, China, Japan, USA, Italy, etc etc )

This beast is said to have 10 horns. The horns represent the power and authority held by the kingdoms.   The number 10 symbolizes diverse, multiplicity, of these kingdoms.  These horns, if located on the seventh head,  reinforce the truth that the seventh head does not represent one world empire but many, various,  world powers that never gained control the known world (as did the previous 6 world empires).

These quickly summarize the world kingdoms of Satan and their influence in the world over the centuries.


John’s attention is now turned to the “Great Whore” (religious kingdoms of Satan) who is seen riding the beast, once again, if we compare this description with Rev 13 we quickly see this is the same Satanic Kingdom that is described as the “beast from the earth”… 

(4)  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour,  and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, 

The color of purple is the color reserved for those held in high honor (royalty, those of beauty or wealth).  The color scarlet pictures shed blood, martyrdom, authority, and sinfulness.  The gold, precious stones and pearls that adorn her emphasize her perceived great earthly value.  They beautify her clothing making her more desired by lost mankind.

Basically the clothing of this woman reveals her as being highly sought after.  Due to her seductive ways and teachings, lost mankind is deceived into thinking that she is valuable, beautiful, exalted, and they want to be united with her.  However, her clothing also reveals her true character one of abusive of God’s people, sinful and very deceptive and misleading.

This is the perfect representation of the religious kingdoms of Satan.   Although these religions are sinful, harmful to the cause of Christ, because they are masters of deception, lost mankind values the false religions of this world.  The lost see them as key to eternal happiness and self-fulfillment.  They desire to become a part of them seeking to follow their teachings and practices.  They are totally deceived and blinded to the true nature of these worldly religions.


having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

The woman is seen as holding a golden cup, picturing a cup of great value which is great desired by the lost.  This is a cup that is filled with her sins.  Once again we see that, although her actions and teachings are sinful and to be rejected, lost men under her influence are totally deceived into seeing her deeds and words as highly valuable.

Her sins are described as “abominations” (that which God greatly hates) and “fornication” (unclean, filthy).  Her actions and messages are sinful, dirty, and rebellious, causing the Lord to hate them.   Throughout the Bible, idolatry is one of the most commonly mentioned of all abominations.   Idolatry is one of the main goals that lie behind Satan’s use of false religions.  It is used to get lost mankind to worship any one,  or anything, other than the true God. 



The Lord reveals this woman though a series of titles:

  1. Mystery – a secret that is known to the initiated, but unknown to the uninitiated – the true character of this woman is known to the saints of the Lord, but unknown to the lost who have been deceived
  1. Babylon the Great – Babylon comes from a root meaning “confusion”, “clamor”, or “noise”.   The message of Satan’s false religions causes confusion.  Spiritually, their teachings are of no greater value than un-orchestrated noise that holds no meaning.
  1. The Mother of Harlots – She produces great acts of sin by seducing lost men to join in her efforts joining into unlawful unions with her. They join up with her sharing in her sinful acts and teachings and actively seek her preservation.
  1. The Mother of … Abominations of the Earth – She also produces great abominations in the same way she produces fornications and harlotry. As she seduces lost men, they, in turn, begin committing great acts that God hates.


(6)  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus:

John’s reaction to this vision.  As a child of God, He sees her for who she is.  He is not deceived by her beauty and seduction…

He sees her great opposition to the Lord and His people “blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus”.

He sees her uncontrolled sinfulness “drunken”.


and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. 

It is important to note that the root word for “admiration” means “to examine closely” or “to have eyes affixed” on something.  It DOES NOT imply that John approved, respected, or in any way coveted her teachings, works, or being.

John is simply saying that after he had studied her, he was dumbfounded….  In other words, after seeing her for who she is, through an extremely careful examination, he then was amazed at how powerful, deceitful, and seductive she was.



In this passage of Scripture, we can see clearly what Christ IS NOT.  Please remember, we have been looking at the two kingdoms (religious and political) of Satan.  They stand in glaring contrast to the kingdoms of God.

What a wonderful comparison is set before us.  Note the comparisons:

Satan’s Kingdom (Both Aspects)      Rev 17: The Kingdom Of God     Rev 21:-22:
Sinful Sinless
Temporal Eternal
Members are Lost Mankind Members are Saved Mankind
Located on this Fallen Earth Located on the New Earth
Satan Is King Over Them God Is King Over Them
Headed For Destruction Experiencing Eternal Glory
Deceitful and Seductive Honest, Transparent, Truthful


Folks, after we look at this comparison, may we stop and honor Christ today:

We could be serving a deceitful, unreliable king who only seeks his own welfare at the expense of his citizens…. But we don’t!

We could have only eternal judgment and destruction to look forward to… But we don’t!

We could always doubt his truthfulness and sincerity… But we don’t!


We serve a sinless, wonderful, gracious, kind Lord that works for our good as well as His Father’s glory.  He keeps every promise, He never misleads us, He always is honest, transparent and speaks for our welfare!

As we think about Satan’s kingly rulership and work within his kingdoms, may we always have grateful hearts… we serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who wonderfully cares for His people and works according to His sinless, gracious will! 



Folks, may we use this lesson to be a constant reminder of our need to be on guard against the activities of these Satanic kingdoms and see them for what they really are:

  1. 1  May we always recognize error when it is taught
  2. May we recognize sinful laws that should not be followed
  3. May we recognize temporal gain for what it is… short-lived and eternally vain.
  4. May we recognize no matter how great the earthly authority or power, it cannot stand up to the Lord’s sovereign rule

And may we all learn to separate ourselves from these Satanic kingdoms and live lives of holiness as citizens of the kingdom and family of God!



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  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Thank you for this study!

  2. I must tell you that I was blessed beyond today with this video study. Let the Lord keep you moving forward in the simplicity of His word. Thank you!

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Thank you for the kind words Sheila. This section of Scripture holds so many truths for us… i wish I could have covered it more fully. Lord bless you!

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