Revelation Study Guide: Week 21, Chapter 17

By Coty Pinckney

Read 17:1 through 19:10 once, then chapter 17 an additional two times, without referring to notes or commentaries, before answering these questions:

(1) What is the theme of the section from 17:1 to 19:10? How is this theme related to the theme from 15:5 to the end of 16?

(2) Remember early on in our study we asked the question, "What is reality?" With that in mind, how do you understand the "great harlot"? What are her characteristics? Look back at 14:8 and 16:19. How does the Bible use the words "fornication," "immorality," and "adultery" in addition to referring to sexual sin? Recall Rev 2:14 and 2:20-22 as well as Jeremiah 3:6-9. See also 1 John 2:15-17. Ask yourself again the question we have raised several times: Would your interpretation be of value to listeners in 95AD, in 1600AD, and in 2000AD?

(3) How do you relate the characters in the section 17:1 to 19:10 to those in 12:1 to 15:4? What are their similarities? What are their differences?

(4) In verse 3, we are told John is taken into a wilderness before he sees the harlot. What does the wilderness represent (recall 12:6 and 12:14 and our discussion)? Why is John taken there at this point?

(5) In verse 7 the angel says he will tell John the "mystery" of the woman. How does the New Testament use the word "mystery," and how does this usage differ from ours today? See Revelation 1:20 as well as Matthew 13:11, Romans 11:25, Romans 16:25-26, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Ephesians 1:9-10, Ephesians 5:32, Ephesians 6:19, and especially Colossians 1:25-2:3.

(6) Look at verse 8. Recall 9:2 and 11:7. Meditate on this phrase: "whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world." Look back at 13:8, and then ahead to 20:12-15. Also consider these verses and their context: Matthew 25:34, John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4, and 1 Peter 1:20. Why is your name being written in the book of life from the foundation of the world important to you today? Why is it important -- and not simply an offhand comment -- in the context of Revelation 17?

(7) What is the significance of the seven mountains in verse 9 (also called "kings" and "heads")? Rome is known as the city built on seven hills, and surely there is an allusion to Rome here. But is that the whole story? Why is this picture important for us today? What do mountains signify in Scripture in general and Revelation in particular? (Here is an exhaustive list of the use of this Greek word in Revelation: 6:14-16, 8:8, 14:1, and 21:10).

(8) In verses 12-14, what is the purpose of the ten kings? How long do they succeed in that purpose? What is the end result? Why?

(9) In verse 14, the allies of the Lord of lords are referred to as the "called and chosen and faithful." How is this related to the phrase in verse 8 about names written in the book of life? Who does the calling? Who does the choosing? Who is faithful (see Rev 2:10 and 13)? What is the relationship between these three?

(10) Consider verses 16 and 17. What do these verses tell us about the forces in opposition to God? About God's sovereignty? How powerful are these forces? If God is in control of these forces, is there also a message about all forces that oppose God? How does that insight have an impact on how you live today?

Now read the first half of Stedman's sermon on 17:1 to 19:5, as well as Wilcock pages 151-166. I find Wilcock quite helpful on this difficult section of Revelation. Revise your answers, if necessary, in light of the insights of these two commentators.

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