New International Reader's Version

Revelation 17

Babylon the Great Prostitute Sits on the Beast

1One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came to me. He said, “Come. I will show you how the great prostitute will be punished. She is the one who sits by many waters. The kings of the earth took part in her evil ways. The people living on earth were drunk with the wine of her terrible sins.”

Then in a vision the angel carried me away to a desert. There the Holy Spirit showed me a woman sitting on a bright red beast. It was covered with names that say evil things about God. It had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and bright red. She was gleaming with gold, jewels and pearls. In her hand she held a golden cup filled with things that God hates. It was filled with her terrible, dirty sins. The name written on her forehead was a mystery. Here is what it said.

the great city of babylon

the mother of prostitutes

the mother of everything on earth that god hates

I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people. They are the ones who are witnesses about Jesus.

When I saw her, I was very amazed. Then the angel said to me, “Why are you amazed? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman. And I will explain the mystery of the beast she rides on. The beast is the one who has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that you saw used to exist and now does not. Yet it will come up out of the Abyss and be destroyed. Some people on the earth will be amazed when they see the beast. Their names have not been written in the book of life from the time the world was created. They will be amazed at the beast. That’s because it will come again even though it used to exist and now does not.

“Here is a problem that you have to be wise to understand. The seven heads are seven hills that the woman sits on. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is ruling, and the other has still not come. When he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who used to exist, and now does not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the other seven. He will be destroyed.

12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings. They have not yet received a kingdom. But for one hour they will receive authority to rule together with the beast. 13 They have only one purpose. So they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war against the Lamb. But the Lamb will have victory over them. That’s because he is the most powerful Lord of all and the greatest King of all. His appointed, chosen and faithful followers will be with him.”

15 Then the angel spoke to me. “You saw the waters the prostitute sits on,” he said. “They stand for all the nations of the world, no matter what their race or language is. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will destroy her and leave her naked. They will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose. So they agreed to give the beast their royal authority. They will give him this authority until God’s words come true. 18 The woman you saw stands for the great city of Babylon. That city rules over the kings of the earth.”