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Revelation 17

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The Great Prostitute and the Beast

17:1 Then 1  one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me. 2  “Come,” he said, “I will show you the condemnation and punishment 3  of the great prostitute who sits on many waters, 17:2 with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality and the earth’s inhabitants got drunk with the wine of her immorality.” 4  17:3 So 5  he carried me away in the Spirit 6  to a wilderness, 7  and there 8  I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 17:4 Now 9  the woman was dressed in purple and scarlet clothing, 10  and adorned with gold, 11  precious stones, and pearls. She held 12  in her hand a golden cup filled with detestable things and unclean things from her sexual immorality. 13  17:5 On 14  her forehead was written a name, a mystery: 15  “Babylon the Great, the Mother of prostitutes and of the detestable things of the earth.” 17:6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of those who testified to Jesus. 16  I 17  was greatly astounded 18  when I saw her. 17:7 But 19  the angel said to me, “Why are you astounded? I will interpret 20  for you the mystery of the woman and of the beast with the seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 17:8 The beast you saw was, and is not, but is about to come up from the abyss 21  and then go to destruction. The 22  inhabitants of the earth – all those whose names have not been written in the book of life since the foundation of the world – will be astounded when they see that 23  the beast was, and is not, but is to come. 17:9 (This requires 24  a mind that has wisdom.) The seven heads are seven mountains 25  the woman sits on. They are also seven kings: 17:10 five have fallen; one is, 26  and the other has not yet come, but whenever he does come, he must remain for only a brief time. 17:11 The 27  beast that was, and is not, is himself an eighth king and yet is one of the seven, and is going to destruction. 17:12 The 28  ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive ruling authority 29  as kings with the beast for one hour. 17:13 These kings 30  have a single intent, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 17:14 They will make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those accompanying 31  the Lamb are the called, chosen, and faithful.”

17:15 Then 32  the angel 33  said to me, “The waters you saw (where the prostitute is seated) are peoples, multitudes, 34  nations, and languages. 17:16 The 35  ten horns that you saw, and the beast – these will hate the prostitute and make her desolate and naked. They 36  will consume her flesh and burn her up with fire. 37  17:17 For God has put into their minds 38  to carry out his purpose 39  by making 40  a decision 41  to give their royal power 42  to the beast until the words of God are fulfilled. 43  17:18 As for 44  the woman you saw, she is the great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth.”

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1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence within the narrative.

2 tn Grk “with me.” The translation “with me” implies that John was engaged in a dialogue with the one speaking to him (e.g., Jesus or an angel) when in reality it was a one-sided conversation, with John doing all the listening. For this reason, μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ (met emou, “with me”) was translated as “to me.”

3 tn Here one Greek term, κρίμα (krima), has been translated by the two English terms “condemnation” and “punishment.” See BDAG 567 s.v. 4.b, “mostly in an unfavorable sense, of the condemnatory verdict and sometimes the subsequent punishment itself 2 Pt 2:3; Jd 4…τὸ κ. τῆς πόρνης the condemnation and punishment of the prostitute Rv 17:1.”

4 tn This is the same word translated “sexual immorality” earlier in the verse, but here the qualifier “sexual” has not been repeated for stylistic reasons.

5 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the angel’s invitation to witness the fate of the prostitute.

6 tn Or “in the spirit.” “Spirit” could refer either to the Holy Spirit or the human spirit, but in either case John was in “a state of spiritual exaltation best described as a trance” (R. H. Mounce, Revelation [NICNT], 75).

7 tn Or “desert.”

8 tn The word “there” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied for stylistic reasons.

9 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the detailed description of the woman, which is somewhat parenthetical in nature.

10 tn The word “clothing” is supplied to clarify that the words “purple” and “scarlet” refer to cloth or garments rather than colors.

11 tn Grk “gilded with gold” (an instance of semantic reinforcement, see L&N 49.29).

12 tn Grk “pearls, having in her hand.” Due to the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

13 tc Several mss (including 1611 1854 2053 ÏK pc) read “sexual immorality on/of the earth” (πορνείας τῆς γῆς, porneia" th" gh") instead of “her sexual immorality.” Other mss (א syh** [co]) read “her sexual immorality and the earth’s” (πορνείας αὐτῆς καὶ τῆς γῆς, porneia" aujth" kai th" gh"). The translation is a rendering of πορνείας αὐτῆς, found in {A 1006 2344 al}. It seems that the first reading “sexuality immorality on/of the earth” was a scribal mistake in which letters may have been confused (auths would have been read as thsghs), or was perhaps influenced by the presence of “of the world” (τῆς γῆς) at the end of v. 5. The original wording seems to be “her sexual immorality”; codex א has conflated the two readings.

14 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

15 tn Some translations consider the word μυστήριον (musthrion, “mystery”) a part of the name written (“Mystery Babylon the Great,” so KJV, NIV), but the gender of both ὄνομα (onoma, “name”) and μυστήριον are neuter, while the gender of “Babylon” is feminine. This strongly suggests that μυστήριον should be understood as an appositive to ὄνομα (“a name, i.e., a mystery”).

16 tn Or “of the witnesses to Jesus.” Here the genitive ᾿Ιησοῦ (Ihsou) is taken as an objective genitive; Jesus is the object of their testimony.

17 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

18 tn Grk “I marveled a great marvel” (an idiom for great astonishment).

19 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

20 tn Grk “I will tell you,” but since what follows is the angel’s interpretation of the vision, “interpret for you” is the preferred translation here.

21 tn On this term BDAG 2 s.v. ἄβυσσος 2 states, “netherworld, abyss, esp. the abode of the dead Ro 10:7 (Ps 106:26) and of demons Lk 8:31; dungeon where the devil is kept Rv 20:3; abode of the θηρίον, the Antichrist 11:7; 17:8; of ᾿Αβαδδών (q.v.), the angel of the underworld 9:11φρέαρ τῆς ἀ. 9:1f; capable of being sealed 9:1; 20:1, 3.”

22 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

23 tn Some translations take the ὅτι (Joti) here as causal: “because he was, and is not, but is to come” (so NIV, NRSV), but it is much more likely that the subject of the ὅτι clause has been assimilated into the main clause: “when they see the beast, that he was…” = “when they see that the beast was” (so BDAG 732 s.v. ὅτι 1.f, where Rev 17:8 is listed).

24 tn Grk “Here is the mind that has wisdom.”

25 tn It is important to note that the height of “mountains” versus “hills” or other topographical terms is somewhat relative. In terms of Palestinian topography, Mount Tabor (traditionally regarded as the mount of transfiguration) is some 1,800 ft (550 m) above sea level, while the Mount of Olives is only some 100 ft (30 m) higher than Jerusalem.

26 tn That is, one currently reigns.

27 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

28 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

29 tn For the translation “ruling authority” for ἐξουσία (exousia) see L&N 37.35.

30 tn The word “kings” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to clarify the referent.

31 tn See BDAG 636 s.v. μετά A.2.a.α.

32 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence within the narrative.

33 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the angel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

34 tn Grk “and multitudes,” but καί (kai) has not been translated here and before the following term since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

35 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

36 tn A new sentence was started here in the translation. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

37 tn The final clause could also be turned into an adverbial clause of means: “They will consume her flesh by burning her with fire.”

38 tn Grk “hearts.”

39 tn Or “his intent.”

40 tn The infinitive ποιῆσαι (poihsai) was translated here as giving the logical means by which God’s purpose was carried out.

41 tn On this term BDAG 203 s.v. γνώμη 4 states, “declaration, decision, resolution…of God Rv 17:17.”

42 tn For this translation see BDAG 168 s.v. βασιλεία 1.a, “kingship, royal power, royal rule.

43 tn Or “completed.”

44 tn Grk “And.” Because this remark is somewhat resumptive in nature, “as for” is used in the translation.



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