The Harlot Of Revelation Chapter 17

The antichrist is directly associated with another important entity in Revelation chapter 17.  This entity is described in the Apostle John’s vision of a “harlot woman” in Revelation 17:1-9.  John sees a harlot sitting on “many waters”.  A chaste and righteous woman or bride often depicts God’s faithful people/church in Scripture (2nd Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7-9).  However, an impure, harlot woman often depicts God’s “professed people/church” when they are unfaithful, disobedient and compromising with sin and the world (Jeremiah 3:1,8; Ezekiel 16:26-39; James 4:4-5).  Revelation 17:15 also tells us that the “waters” on which the harlot sits represents multitudes, peoples, nations and tongues.  Therefore, we have a picture of an unfaithful, disobedient church who presides over multitudes of people throughout many nations and languages.

Revelation 17:2 states that this “harlot/unfaithful church” has committed fornication with kings of the earth in the past.  So, this unfaithful church has had influence over, and dealings and compromises with, many nations and their leaders; moreover, she will also be associated with the antichrist-beast in earth’s final days, because we’re told that she is “sitting on” the antichrist-beast as he carries her (Revelation 17:3,7).  This “harlot/unfaithful church” has also been unfaithful to Jesus, her espoused Husband (2nd Corinthians 11:2), because she is accused of committing fornication.

Revelation 17:4-5 pictures her in the attire of a harlot and declares that she is guilty of “abominations”.  It states that she has the name Babylon on her forehead, and calls her the “mother of harlots”.  Then, Revelation 17:6 adds that she is guilty of being drunk with the “blood” of the martyrs of Jesus.  And, Revelation 17:7-9 explains that the seven heads of the beast that carries her represent seven mountains/hills on which the harlot sits (The RSV, KJV, NKJV and NASB translations say “mountains”, whereas the NIV, NLT, NEB and “Amplified” translations say “hills”).

Who does this “harlot/unfaithful church” represent?  Revelation 17:1-9 provided us with several clear and specific clues to help us answer this question.  This unfaithful church has presided over multitudes in many nations and tongues/languages, committed fornication by being unfaithful to Jesus in her compromises and dealings with kings/nations, committed abominations, called Babylon, shed the blood of Jesus’ martyrs, and is located in a region or city that sits upon seven mountains or hills.

There is only one church that fulfills this description; that is the Roman Catholic Church.  By saying this, I am not referring to individual Catholics.  There are millions of sincere Catholic Christians throughout the world.  I am referring to a religious system and the doctrinal stances and practices established by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.  Only one professed Christian church, the Roman Catholic Church, has a billion members spanning every nation and most languages.  And, the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages was in league with kings/nations forcing its church mandates upon people throughout Europe at the threat of excommunication, imprisonment and death; thus constituting the most egregious infidelity to Jesus.  Also, when it comes to speaking, practicing and teaching abominations, just read the following quotes from various official sources in the Catholic Church.

“The Pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine law”. The pope can modify divine law, since his power is not of man, but of God, and he acts a vicegerent of God upon earth” Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca, art. Papa, II, Vol. VI, p. 29.

”I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says, No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week. And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in reverent obedience to the command of the Holy Catholic Church.” Priest Thomas Enright, C.S.S.R., February 18, 1884, Printed in the American Sentinel, a New York Roman Catholic journal in June 1893, p. 173.

‘Deny the authority of the Church and you have no adequate or reasonable explanation or justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday in the Third – Protestant Fourth – Commandment of God… The Church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact.” Catholic Record, September 1, 1923.

“The leader of the Catholic church is defined by the faith as the Vicar of Jesus Christ (and is accepted as such by believers). The Pope is considered the man on earth who “takes the place” of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity.” John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 3, 1994

Pope Nicholas I declared that “the appellation of God had been confirmed by Constantine on the Pope, who being God, cannot be judged by man.” (Labb IX Dist.: 96 Can 7 Satis Evidentur Decret Gratian Primer Para)

Pope Nicholas said of himself: “I am in all and above all, so that God Himself and I, the vicar of God, hath both one consistory, and I am able to do almost all that God can do…wherefore, if those things that I do be said not to be done of man, but of God, what do you make of me but God? Again, if prelates of the Church be called of Constantine for gods, I then being above all prelates, seem by this reason to be above all gods. Wherefore, no marvel, if it be in my power to dispense with all things, yea with the precepts of Christ.” (Decret. par. Distinct 96 ch. 7 edit. Lugo 1661)

Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) wrote: “We may according to the fullness of our power, dispose of the law and dispense above the law. Those whom the Pope of Rome doth separate, it is not a man that separates them but God. For the Pope holdeth place on earth, not simply of a man but of the true God.” (1 Book of Gregory 9 Decret. c.3)

The title “Lord God the Pope” – these words appeared in the Canon Law of Rome. “To believe that our Lord God the Pope has not the power to decree as he is decreed, is to be deemed heretical.”  (The Gloss extravagances of Pope John XXII Cum. Inter, tit XIV Ad Callem Sexti Decretalium, Paris, 1685)

“Heretics (those who are not members of the Catholic Church or who do not hold to Catholic doctrine) worship a God who is a liar, and a Christ who is a liar.” St. Augustine, (quoted in “Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graca”, by Fr. J. P. Migne, Paris: 1866, 42:207).

The above quotes speak for themselves and require no further comments regarding their constituting abominations.  However, carrying on, Revelation 17 also said that Babylon is written on this unfaithful church’s forehead.  Keeping this in mind, it is significant that the Apostle Peter identifies his writing location as having been Babylon in 1st Peter 5:13, and he states that Mark is with him as well.  Why is this significant?  Because nearly all theologians agree that the book of 1st Peter is written from Rome while Peter was in prison there.  Additionally, while the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he stated that Mark was also with him there (Colossians 4:10).  Therefore, we know that Mark was in Rome at this time, and Peter said that Mark was also with him, which provides more evidence that Peter wrote 1st Peter from Rome; moreover, he was already referring to the city of Rome as Babylon.  Thus, the Roman Catholic Church’s headquarters in Rome/Babylon also fulfills the Babylon clue.

The mother of harlots clue also is fulfilled by the Roman Catholic Church.  Roman Catholicism is the first organized Christian Church from which all other Christian denominations came from, who in many cases have adopted her unbiblical teachings and abominable doctrines and practices.  How have they done so?  Consider the following.  Many Protestant leaders today refer to the pope as a great man of God and as the holy father, although they are fully aware of the past history of the papacy, which I will expand upon shortly, and are also aware that Jesus commanded that we are not to give any man the religious title of father (Matthew 23:8-10). 

Furthermore, many of today’s Protestant and Evangelical churches have adopted the same greedy, selfish, lavish, materialistic, money-focused religion that characterized the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages.  The Catholic Church poured its great wealth into huge, expensive, ornate cathedrals to pamper itself, and numerous Protestant and Evangelical churches throughout America are also pampering themselves by pouring their great wealth into expensive, luxurious, colossal mega churches costing multiplied millions of dollars, while millions of children worldwide die from starvation annually.

Protestant churches also continue teaching the Roman Catholic Church’s sadistic hell doctrine, which was used so effectively by the Catholic Church to scare its parishioners into buying indulgences for their sins, so they wouldn’t have to go to such a place of horrific torment throughout the endless ages of eternity; Protestants now continue to embrace this unjust and sadistic teaching, which I prove to be unbiblical in my article titled “Hell”, and in the process Protestants also slander the gracious, loving and just God of Christianity.

Protestant churches also continue trampling upon the fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments as the Catholic Church had done, and in the process pay homage to the Catholic Church and its unbiblical Sunday commandment, instead of honoring and obeying the commandment that memorializes God as Creator, the fourth commandment.  In my article titled “Sabbath” on this website, I present an overwhelming amount of biblical evidence that proves there is no biblical authority or precedent whatsoever for honoring the first day of the week, Sunday, instead of the seventh-day Sabbath commanded by God in the Ten Commandments.  Please read the following quotes from sources of authority within the Catholic Church regarding this issue, and notice their mockery of Protestants for following the Catholic Church’s practice of honoring Sunday instead of the Bible Sabbath of the fourth commandment.

“The observance of Sunday by the Protestants is homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] Church.” Monsignor Louis Segur, ‘Plain Talk about the Protestantism of Today’, p. 213.

“The Sabbath was Saturday, not Sunday. The Church altered the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of Sunday. Protestants must be rather puzzled by the keeping of Sunday when God distinctly said, ‘Keep holy the Sabbath Day.’ The word Sunday does not come anywhere in the Bible, so, without knowing it they are obeying the authority of the Catholic Church.” Canon Cafferata, The Catechism Explained, p. 89.

”Reason and sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday, or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible.” John Cardinal Gibbons, The Catholic Mirror, December 23, 1893.

“They [the Protestants] deem it their duty to keep the Sunday holy. Why? Because the Catholic Church tells them to do so. They have no other reason. …The observance of Sunday thus comes to be an ecclesiastical law entirely distinct from the Divine law of Sabbath observance. .The author of the Sunday Law…is the Catholic Church.” (Walter Drum, Catholic priest, Ecclesiastical Review, February, 1914)

“Protestants…accept Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made the change. But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in observing the Sunday, in keeping Christmas and Easter, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the church–the Pope.” (Our Sunday Visitor, February 5, 1950.)

“My brethren, look about the various wrangling sects and denominations. Show me one that claims or possesses the power to make laws binding on the conscience. There is but one on the face of the earth-the Catholic Church-that has the power to make laws binding upon the conscience, binding before God, binding upon the pain of hellfire.  Take for instance, the day we celebrate-Sunday. What right have the Protestant churches to observe that day? None whatsoever. You say it is to obey the commandment, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ But Sunday is not the Sabbath according to the Bible and the record of time.  Everyone knows that Sunday is the first day of the week, while Saturday is the seventh, and the Sabbath, the day consecrated as a day of rest.  It is so recognized in all civilized nations.  It was the Holy Catholic Church that changed the day of rest from Saturday to Sunday, the first day of the week.  And has not only compelled all to keep Sunday, but at the council of Laodicea, A.D. 364, anathemized those who kept the Sabbath and urged all persons to labor on the seventh day under penalty of anathema.  Which church does the whole civilized world obey?  Protestants call us every horrible name they can think of-anti-Christ, the scarlet-colored beast, Babylon, etc., and at the same time profess great reverence for the Bible, and yet by their solemn act of keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the power of the Catholic Church.” (Industrial American, Harlan Iowa; a published lecture by T. Enright, December 19, 1889)

“But since Saturday, not Sunday, is specified in the Bible, isn’t it curious that non-Catholics who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not the Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistent; but this change was made about fifteen centuries before Protestantism was born, and by that time the custom was universally observed. They have continued the custom, even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text in the Bible. That observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away – like a boy running away from home but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his “mother” or a lock of her hair.” Faith of Millions, pp. 400 and 401, by the Reverend John A. O’Brien, PH.D., Copyright 1938, published by Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington Indiana.  (Emphasis supplied)

Once again, the above quotes speak for themselves, and no further comment is needed.  However, there is another similarity between the Roman Catholic Church and her Protestant daughters.  The Catholic Church has practiced abominations such as making, revering and bowing to “religious statues/carved images” for many centuries, in defiance of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:4-5); nonetheless, modern Protestant churches also have their own abominable practices.  They too have now begun to build “religious statues” to revere men, such as the Billy Graham statue.  And, they are ordaining homosexual priests and ministers, performing homosexual weddings, teaching evolution instead of creation in their seminaries, and electing teachers of false gods to head their Christian religion departments, such as was recently done in Minnesota when a Hindu theologian was promoted to chairman of the religion department at Saint Olaf College, which is a Lutheran college.

The harlot of Revelation 17 does indeed have “harlot daughters”.  And, it is just about time for true biblical Christians to give the call, “come out of her my people”, as is proclaimed in Revelation 18:1-4.  This text states that Babylon is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison or cage for every unclean and hated bird.  It said that she committed fornication with the kings of the earth, and that earth’s merchants became rich through her abundant luxuries.  It concludes by telling God’s people to come out of her, so that they don’t share in her sins and receive her plagues, probably the seven plagues mentioned in Revelation 16. 

How does Revelation 18:1-4 apply to the Catholic Church and contemporary Protestant churches?  The day is soon coming, if not already come, when not only the Catholic Church, but also her Protestant daughters, will “by and large” have completely fallen through their compromises, sins and abominable practices and teachings mentioned earlier.  Instead of the Holy Spirit, they will be filled with demonic, foul spirits.  Instead of being the “house of God”, they will be prisons or cages filled with “detestable birds”.  The pure, white dove and the noble eagle that have been symbols associated with God’s people in the past, will no longer be associated with these organized churches in the last days, but rather detestable birds, perhaps vultures and the like.

As this passage in Revelation states, they have committed fornication with the world, its systems, practices and governments.  As stated, the world’s merchants have become rich through doing business with them and providing them with their “abundant luxuries” that fill their cathedrals and mega churches.  It’s interesting that the first century Christian Church was poor financially, but rich spiritually.  It had no financial assets, but it had rich spiritual assets.  Today’s Christian churches “to a large extent” are rich financially, with expensive, beautiful buildings and first class, “state of the art” everything.  They have huge financial assets, but they are approaching spiritual bankruptcy.  Their focus is on the things of this world: money, fancy buildings and seeker sensitive programming to attract crowds; this instead of being focused on mimicking Jesus, “walking as He walked” and supplying the needs of the poor, homeless and starving through humble, unselfish ministry.  They indeed have become some of the world’s “best customers” with all of their wealth, assets, investments and luxuries.  They have pampered and ministered onto themselves instead of “onto the least of these”, as Jesus encouraged us to do.

For all of these reasons, God’s message to His true followers in the last days is to “come out of Babylon”, to come out of these worldly, compromising, sin-filled and abomination-teaching and practicing organized churches (Revelation 18:4).

There are still two more identifying clues regarding the harlot in Revelation 17, which I’ve assumed to be the Roman Catholic Church.  But, does the Catholic Church also fulfill these final two identifying characteristics?  Revelation 17:6 says that this harlot is drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.  Does the Roman Catholic Church fit this description?  Has it been guilty of shedding the blood of Christians?

According to John Dowling’s book, “History of Romanism”, pages 541-542, an estimated 50 million innocents were put to death during the centuries surrounding the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church.  Charles K Moore’s book, “The Roman Catholic Religion viewed in the light of Prophecy and History”, page 60, also estimates the number of martyred souls by the Catholic Church to be about 50 million during this time period.  The same number is arrived at by John B Wilder on page 87 of his book, “the Shadow of Rome”.  Other estimates, however, are even higher.  In his book, “Plea for the West”, pages 130-131, Lyman Beecher places the number of martyrs resulting from the Roman Church’s persecutions at about 68 million.  And, W.C. Brownlee’s work, “Letters in the Roman Catholic Controversy”, pages 347-348, also places the number at 68 million.  On page 170 of Bunch Taylor’s book, “The Book of Daniel”, the number of those martyred by the Roman Catholic Church is said to be somewhere between 50 and 150 million.  And, additional historical sources could be cited as well.  For now, however, it suffices to say, that the Roman Catholic Church unquestionably has fulfilled the “drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” clue in Revelation 17:6.

Why did the Roman Church put so many millions to death?  What was their supposed crime?  The charge brought against them by the papacy was “heresy”.  As you read the following quotes from authoritative Catholic sources regarding heresy and heretics, you will probably be alarmed, disgusted and even frightened.

“There are many unquestionable cases of Protestants punished as heretics in nearly all the lands where Roman Catholics have had power, right down to the French Revolution [of 1798].” Catholic author G.G. Coulton, in The Death-Penalty for Heresy, Medieval Studies, No. 18, pp. 62, 1924 edition.

“All sects of heretics are condemned and various punishments are appointed for them and their accomplices.” Pope Alexander IV, The American Textbook of Popery, p 135 (quoting from the “Directory for the Inquisitors”).   

“When confronted with heresy, she (Catholic Church) does not content herself with persuasion, arguments of an intellectual and moral order appear to her insufficient, and she has recourse to force, to corporal punishment, to torture.” The Rector of the Catholic Institute of Paris, H.M.A. Baudrillart, quoted in The Catholic Church, The Renassance, and Protestantism, p 182-183.

“Also, we decree and declare that all of the aforesaid persons have been and are schismatics and heretics, And that as such they are assuredly to be punished with suitable penalties over and above the penalties imposed at the aforesaid council of Ferrara*, together with all their supporters and abettors, of whatever ecclesiastical or secular status, condition or rank they may be, even cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops or abbots or those of any other dignity, so that they may receive their deserts with the aforesaid Korah, Dathan and Abiram…” Pope Eugenius IV, in Decree of the Council of Florence Against the Synod at Basel, Council of Florence, Session 7, on September 4, 1439.

“A heretic merits the pains of fire….By the Gospel, the canons, civil law, and custom, heretics must be burned.” The American Textbook of Popery, p 164 (quoting from the “Directory for the Inquisitors”).

“almost infinite numbers were either burned or otherwise killed,…heretics were often burned by the Catholic Church”  Jesuit Robert Bellarmine, in Disputationes de Controversiis, Tom. II, Lib. III, cap. XXII, 1628 edition.

“All defense is denied to heretics.”  The American Textbook of Popery, p153 (quoting from the “Directory for the Inquisitors”).

“Heresy consists in a stubborn denial of truths which have been defined and proposed by the Church as divinely revealed doctrines.  “Any baptized person who…obstinately denies or doubts any of the truths proposed for belief by divine and Catholic faith, is a heretic.” Canon 1324-1325 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

“He is a heretic who deviates from any article of faith.” The American Textbook of Popery, p 143, (quoting from the “Directory for the Inquisitors”).

“He is a heretic who does not believe what the Roman Hierarchy teaches.” The American Textbook of Popery, p 164 (quoting from the “Directory for the Inquisitors”).

“Whoever ‘obstinately’ denies these (Catholic) truths, the doctrinal commentary of Pope John Paul II says, falls under the censure of heresy.” Our Sunday Visitor, Analysis, July 19, 1998. (Emphasis Supplied)

The shocking quotes above require us to ask some questions.  Were the papal persecutions of the Middle Ages an aberration, an “exception to the rule” done by only one or two popes?  No!  They “were the rule”, done by many popes over several centuries.  Did the papacy stop the persecutions on its own because it was convicted of its wrongdoing?  No!  It lost its power because French armed forces forcibly deposed and imprisoned the pope about the end of the 18th century.  The demise of papal power and its accompanying persecutions was not by choice of the papacy.  Finally, has the modern papacy changed its doctrinal stances, or has it changed its stances on heresy and the issue of papal authority to act as “God on earth”?  No!  In fact, did you notice that the last Catholic quote regarding heresy that I listed was made by Pope John Paul II as recently as 1998?  As I mentioned, the modern papacy has not renounced any of its doctrines regarding heresy and papal authority, which created the mindset and potential; moreover, the reality of killing those who did not submit to its doctrines and authority.  With this mindset still present, you can see how the contemporary papacy could work “hand in hand” with the antichrist-beast, implementing a modern-day death decree against supposed heretics; that is, of course, assuming that the antichrist first acknowledges and exalts the papacy in some manner, such as in the scenario I present in my two articles titled, “The End Of The World” and “How Will Antichrist Arrive”.

The final clue concerning the “harlot” was that she would be located in a region or city that sits upon seven mountains or hills.  Does this apply to the Roman Catholic Church?  To begin with, we know that the papal headquarters is located in Rome, Italy.  The online Wikipedia encyclopedia states that the “seven hills of Rome” do indeed “form the geographical heart of Rome”.  These seven hills are listed as Aventine Hill, Caelian Hill, Capitoline Hill, Esquiline Hill, Palatine Hill, Quirinal Hill and Viminal Hill.  The “Basic Everyday Encyclopedia”, page 451, also states that Rome was built on seven hills.  And, “Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia”, 1948, page 144, says, and I quote, “the City of Seven Hills.  …the Capitoline, Palatine, Aventine, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, and Caelian hills.  …the seat of the papacy, the head of the great Roman Catholic Church.”  Even a contemporary article in the Travel section of the Los Angeles Times dated May, 30, 2008, is titled “Exploring Rome’s Famous Seven Hills”.  So, yes, we can confidently say that the Roman Catholic Church certainly fulfills this final identifying characteristic of the harlot in Revelation 17, thus leaving no doubt that it is the fulfilled reality of the harlot symbol in this chapter.

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