Friday, 4 June 2021
And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” Revelation 17:18
To complete the contents of the chapter, the angel speaking to John now makes an explicit statement concerning the harlot who rides on top of the beast. She is “that great city.” The identity is set and there is no reason to assume that Mystery Babylon, the great harlot, is anything but as is described here. When symbolism is explained by the Bible, that is its interpretation. Nothing more needs to be inserted to bend or twist what has been made evident. Understanding that the woman in the vision represents a city, the angel then says, “which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
At John’s time, this would be Rome. However, the vision is referring to a future entity. Can this still be said of Rome? The answer is, “Yes.” The Vatican (the Holy See) is its own city within Rome. It has all the rights and benefits of being a city-state, and it is considered a permanent observer state of the UN as of 6 April 1964. Thus, it is a part of the body that reigns over the kings of the earth.
Further, this does not say “all the kings of the earth.” Thus, it is a general statement. There are, at any given time, leaders of the world who claim to be Roman Catholic. Thus, the influence of the Vatican over them in their political decisions is broad-ranging. And another note is that the word translated as “over” is epi. It signifies “on” or “upon,” implying something that fits. One can think of the epidermis (skin) fitting on a person.
With this understood, and using that in the translation, it can be rendered, “which reigns upon the kings of the earth.” It is not that there is a sovereignty over them, but guiding body upon them. Just as Islam directs the Muslim nations, without being an actual ruler, so the Roman Catholic Church directs these Catholic (and other) nations, directing them without being an actual ruler.
Life application: When the destruction of Mystery Babylon comes, all false religion will be ended, and the true worship of God will be instituted on earth. Babylon the great will be remembered no more. All non-Christian religions will be proven false. The false identification with Christ, by supposed but apostate Christian denominations, will be eradicated. The world will find only a pure and untainted faith in Christ.
Until then we should keep our noses in the Bible, studying it and weeding out any falsity from our doctrine. Let us hold fast to the truths recorded there, and let us glorify God through proper faith in the Lord. He is great. He is worthy. He is JESUS.
It is marvelous to know that someday the world will be unified in worship of You, O God. There will no longer be division and fighting within the church, there will no longer be false teachers to lead Your people astray, and there will no longer be false religions outside the church. We long for the day when our worship of You is perfect and undefiled! Amen.