Revelation 17:10

Thursday, 27 May 2021

There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. Revelation 17:10

The angel speaking to John just explicitly told him that the seven heads of the beast are seven mountains. Whether those are literal mountains, or whether they are representative of governments was examined. The angel now says, “There are also seven kings.” As such, this leaves several possibilities once again. For now, the angel next says, “Five have fallen.”

The Greek literally reads, “fell.” Vincent’s Word Studies notes, “Constantly used in the Septuagint of the violent fall or overthrow of kings or kingdoms. See Ezekiel 29:5; Ezekiel 30:6; Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 50:15; Jeremiah 51:8.” This would align with the idea of empires as noted in the previous verse.

As noted then, there are five of note that have afflicted or had control over Israel in the past, prior to John’s writing of Revelation – Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. From there, the angel says, “one is.”

Rome was in that position when John received Revelation, thus making it a sixth empire. Eventually, it faded away. If this is correct, then the five who had fallen are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The “one that is” would be Rome (the sixth).

At John’s time, Rome held authority over Israel. Even the leaders of Israel understood this when they called out –

“But they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!’
Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’
The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar!’” John 19:15

Disregarding the ultimate authority of the Lord, the leaders of Israel noted that the control over their nation was securely in the hands of Rome. From there, the angel next says to John, “and the other has not yet come.”

This coming empire would be the revived Roman Empire. A problem with this is that it would appear to set a different standard of what reference point John is using for verse 17:8 and this verse now – meaning the beginning of the tribulation period (17:8) as opposed to John’s present time (17:10). However, it is not an irreconcilable difference because the same empire is being referred to in both cases.

This does fit the scenario quite well, and it appears to match the other confusing verses in this chapter. However, there was more than one king who ruled each of these powers during the time they afflicted Israel. This confuses the scenario a bit, but if only the empire is noted and not the individual kings who ruled them, then it isn’t a problem. If this is the correct analysis, the final words are almost self-explanatory. The angel says, “And when he comes, he must continue a short time.

This final empire with a ruler over it, and which will hold some sort of control over Israel, will exist for only a short period. Based on the timing of the tribulation period, this aligns with that notion.

A second option is that if the previous verse refers to “seven hills” rather than “seven mountains,” then it is only speaking of Rome and powers which rule from there. This makes the interpretation more difficult to understand at this time, but it will be cleared up as the world moves into the tribulation period. The mind with wisdom will be able to understand who and what is being spoken of.

Life application: It must be remembered that the great harlot rides on this beast. Therefore, there is a religious connection to the beast, even if the beast means world powers or a Roman power. There is spiritual harlotry between the two and both will be judged for their actions. It is hard to be dogmatic about a particular interpretation at this time, but in the end, the mystery of these symbols will become clear.

For now, the main thing to consider is that the events will occur. As this is so, it means that God already knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, we know that the other things that God has said in His word are also true and reliable. He has promised eternal life to those who come to Him through faith in what He has done.

As this is so, let us accept the gospel message. Christ died for our sins, Christ was buried, and Christ rose on the third day. When we believe this message and receive what He did, we are saved – once and for all time. Let us use wisdom. Here is a fuller explanation of what Christ did for you at this link:

Let us receive God’s precious offer of peace and reconciliation. Let us come to JESUS.

Lord God Almighty, regardless of how the smaller details of future prophecy turn out, we have something far better to focus on! Give us the wisdom to read and understand Your word. Help us to never get distracted from the overall message of the Bible which is that You are God, and You are in complete control of all things. We love and praise You! Amen.