This explanation comes as a subsection in my post “An Examination of End-Time Prophecy.” I encourage you, if you were not referred here from that page, that you follow up your reading by following the link.
In this limited analysis of Revelation Chapter 17, we are going to focus on what is referred to as “the great prostitute who is seated on many waters.” While only in hindsight will we know exactly who or what the bible is referring to, I want to help identify what would be the likeliest candidate in our modern day. Of course this is all speculation, so let it be kept in mind that I am merely expounding on my own individual perspective of scripture. Regardless of which, if the reader would like to research this topic further, I would strongly recommend that they do so.
Topics: Examination of concepts discussed in Chapter 17 of the book of Revelation and supporting scriptures to the overall thought being conveyed
1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls [seven bowls of wrath poured at the end of Tribulations onto those who received the ‘mark of the beast’] came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters.”
As we read this verse, we get the understanding that this “great prostitute” will have influence around the world (hence the reference to being seated on many waters) and will be extraordinarily decadent (hence the reference to being a prostitute).
To the dismay of a lot of decent and faithful people, there really is few who better compare to this figure other than the Catholic church. It really is very hard to imagine that there is any other ‘end-time character’ who could better fit this description. As I move forward in the this exposition, demonstrating that the Catholic church is in fact this character will be my focus.
Clearly, the fact that the Catholic church is “seated on many waters,” being in that it is an international institution, is just one of the many facts which support the argument that the Catholic church fits with the profile of this ‘great prostitute.’ As we can see, the Catholic church does have significant influence in many different continents. So forth, let us also realize that it has been in existence throughout the ages being almost as old as 1,700 years. Consequently, I – and history – suggest, because of its long-time influence, it has come to have an extreme influence on all sorts of ruling regimes throughout its duration becoming an essential architect in the development of our modern world (which is a highly corrupt hierarchical system having justice only at the superficial level).
2 “with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk”
(this implies that the rulers and people of the earth share a dependant relationship, with this figure, which causes among them each corruption)
For the second verse, I imagine this ‘sexual immorality’ to be figurative – even though the Catholic church does have a very long history of actual sexual immorality AND has probably used sexual persuasion to gain in its far-reaching influence. However, for the sake of this simplistic and brief interpretation, I am only going to suggest the church, instead of being faithful in the teachings of Christ, has adopted a false ideology removed from the teachings of Christ. As with our modern day religious culture, they have – instead of staying honest with Christ’s teachings – abandoned them for worldly gain. So then, they have denied the commandments of God in favor of the commandments of men.
8 “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
9 “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
(Christ was referencing Isaiah here, and here I find it appropriate to reference Isaiah once more in this manner)
As should be obvious to anyone diligent in the Words of Christ, this institution is simply not godly adding other things to the worship of God (the exact definition of harloty as outlined by the prophets in the OT), and instead of inspiring people to the true spiritual worship of God (John 4:24), where God is above systematic forms of worship (being free through love rather than legalistic practice), it falsely condemns others, and it has demonstrated this throughout the course of history by grotesquely punishing those simply because they did not conform to their authority. From what is self-evident to myself, this church simply has evolved the ruler-ship of emperor using a monstrously false guise of the authority of God. As such, I ask you, what did Jesus teach about throwing the first stone? Fitting if so God should throw one back.
3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.
The telling part of this verse is the connection the “woman” has with the “beast.” First and foremost, she has been riding on the back of the beast to gain all of her power and might. Once again, if we consider the woman to be the Catholic church and the beast to be the long emerging world system, this would imply that the church has been establishing and using a world system to grow in its prosperity (for details on the beast see “The Nature of the Beast“). So then, whatever it is about worldliness which opposes God, the Catholic church has been, rather than resisting, indulging in this form of vanity such that its officials could gain the most power, influence, social status, and luxury in regards to worldly standards first and foremost.
4 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
For this verse, we in fact see the first half of the given description perfectly portray what the Catholic church is and has become. There was a reason that before His ministry, Jesus was a humble carpenter. There was a reason that during His ministry, Jesus was a humble teacher. There is furthermore a reason why He taught against excessive materialism. Where there is an accumulation of material, there is a dearth of Spirit and vise versa. So forth, the inventions of this church, blinded by its earthly lusts, have all been snares of the Spirit for those who have followed this church. Inasmuch as, the Spirit offers freedom from flesh, and the flesh offers appetite only for things of the flesh. In the worship of tangible substance, the Catholic church has led many down the same dim path they are on causing even greater suffering in the world as many have and do look to them as a guiding light.
15 And he [Jesus Christ] said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
As we see here, the riches the people admire amongst themselves are an “abomination” in the sight of God. I hope all those that read this reflect heavily on this statement such as to gauge their genuine faith in the wisdom of Jesus Christ. Regardless, we see plainly that the way of the Pope is to be arrayed is in purple (the color of royalty), gold, jewels, and pearls (the bible would state pretty evidently that all should be careful if their ambitions in life revolve around societal glory through material objects). Of course, this also strongly suggests, specifically due to the duty it places on itself to be a representative of Christ, that the institution of the Catholic church, in this practice, is this apocalyptic figure.
Without any doubt, we should be able to easily see that the Catholic church has violated several teachings of its Messiah by trying to gain worldly power, riches, and authoritative influence. All of which are in conflict to Christ and His teachings. Simply, He did not die for the Catholic church and the Pope, but that all could find a way to salvation in God – a salvation in which, through the indiscretion of this church, has been made even harder for a great multitude to receive.
5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations”
As a quick reference, Babylon was a city, in the Old Testament, accredited to destroying Jerusalem, which was also known as, Zion, the greatly heralded Jewish city of David. As for being the mother of “prostitutes” and “earth’s abominations,” it would be so if it has intentionally manifested, throughout its long tenure, the coming of the “One World System” by its relationship with other nations, simply for the greedy sake of, aiming to increase its dominance over the whole earth. If it it did this AND violated the worship of the Lord, it is not just ‘a’ prostitute but a ‘great’ prostitute.
In observance of our current day and age, the immensely corrupt system, in which this church always has and currently presents to the world, is in fact a perversion to Christ’s teachings. In this way, we can safely say this church is an abomination, and we can say this church has spawned those, which are similarly decadent, who live through and maintain this corrupt system against the wisdoms of heaven.
6 “And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus”
Of all the terrible attributes of this church, the worst of which might be the innocent blood it has on its hand as it has persecuted and brutally tortured countless many throughout history simply to maintain its own oppressive rule. As such, it has their blood – the blood of the innocent (saints) – on its hands, and that blood cannot be washed away by the even the cloth of God. Inasmuch as they have killed the children of God, and, for God to absolve this church, He would have to become an accomplice in the death of the saints Himself. Consequently, through suppressing and massacring the innocent, the Catholic church has established its power and fortified its reign on the earth – which is a lofty debt to have to repay for what is a mere and temporary worldly status.
As I finish my discussion, I hope I have communicated well-enough to show how these descriptions best fit with previous Pope’s and the Catholic church as a whole. While this description was extrememly brief (I do reccommend the reader to further investigate the full corruption of this church on their own), I hope it argued itself sufficiently to support the basis of my claims.
Nonetheless, as the future is certainly far from being a fixed story and interpretation of end-time scripture still mostly left to speculation, please understand that this description was primarily meant to be informative on the contents of scripture. If the bible lends us any support for what would be an end-time scenario in our time, simply, in my opinion, it appears that the Catholic church is by far the closest and most recognizable figure who fits this particular profile given by the Word of God.
As we consider the complete possibility in regards to the corruption of the Catholic church, I don’t find that it is terrible – for anyone – if we must take a step back and wonder for a moment about our faith. In regards, even wondering things such as, what is Christian? What did Christ teach? What do men teach instead? Who can we trust? What truly is God’s will for us?
In reality, much of what we have been taught has been handed down by this violent and greedy man-made church. While this may seem like a harsh indictment, I would use history as my defense. In such a case, I would, so forth, recommend that one first questions the origin of everything they know, restart again from the teachings and practices of Christ (the Catholic church only assembled the gospel – it didn’t write it), and build upon Christ and only Christ (for He is the Rock for us all to build upon).
In truth, God has not made Himself universally visibly to the world for a reason. However, He never refrains from showing Himself to the individual who genuinly seeks Him. As is, trust the bible when it says that the Holy Spirit is the only teacher one needs. In addition, I further recommend that one doesn’t solely lean on written words while attempting to fully uncover the Truth of God. God does and will guide His children, in a servile labor, more than we may ever deserve or ever know. As is the case, one should put their trust in God above all other resources.
Finally, let the reader understand that my greatest intention is to assist one in increasing their awareness of scripture. I by no means wish to suggest that my interpretation of these things is a universal and is absolutely true (I am not the Catholic church afterall). While I expect them to be accurate, I admit my unique view on life has a potential impact on the purity of my interpretation. As such, the reader should aspire to inquire from themselves what they deem true and untrue. Inasmuch as, we all see life from, at the very least, a slightly different point of view. It is only in being honest with ourselves and honestly participating in discussion, do we ever truly get the highest perspective we can obtain in life – where truth and true perception is the greatest prize we can obtain as we attempt to achieve our purpose in creation.