Bible Truth Versus SDA Truth: Babylon and the Harlot

SDA "Truth" about Babylon and the Harlot

For Seventh-day Adventists, Bible prophecy is all about the SDA Church's struggle against Sunday-keepers, led by Roman Catholicism, whom they accuse of having changed God's day of worship. Bent on identifying Catholicism as an evil entitiy, Seventh-day Adventism manages to pin Catholicism to nearly every evil beast or wicked woman that Bible prophecy portrays! Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Seventh-day Adventism identifies the scarlet beast of Revelation 17, the whore of Revelation 17, and Babylon as Roman Catholicism.

The following quotations are from Revelation Seminars:

1. The Harlot of Revelation 17 is Roman Catholicism.

"'And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH' (Rev. 17:5). The symbolism here is of a great mother church and her daughters. It takes no genius to figure out who this is. The great Roman church claims to be the mother church."1

2. Protestant Churches are also Harlots.

"The daughters who came from her "protested" and pulled away and became known as Protestants. The name Babylon is a family name which includes both mother and children. It is shocking and sobering to realize that God is clearly indicting both mother and daughters as fallen."2
3. God is calling Christians out of Catholic and Protestant Churches to join the SDA Church.
"'And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues' (Rev. 18:4). The command is to God's people. Many are still in Babylon. God is lovingly calling them out before the plagues fall upon Babylon. ... Her false teachings are God's reason for punishing her and calling His people out."3
4. The Beast of Revelation 17 is the Papacy.
"'The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is' (Rev. 17:8). Both chapters 13 and 17 of Revelation depict the Papacy. ... The fallen woman is the apostate church. She rides upon the beast (state or government), which indicates that she is supported by the state and is in control. Here a combination of church and state is clearly indicated."4
5. The "seven mountains" represent seven powers throughout Christian history.
"'And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition' (Rev. 17:9-11). ... Since the time frame for Revelation 17 occurs after the 1260 years of papal persecution, we suggest the following applications.

Five are fallen (v 10):

  1. Babylon
  2. Medo-Persia
  3. Greece
  4. Rome
  5. Papacy (during 1260 years)

One is (v10):

  1. Papacy (from "deadly wound" until recovery)

Not yet come (v10):

  1. Papacy (from recovery until ten kings support)

He is the eighth (v11):

  1. Papacy (during ten-horns confederacy)5
6. The "ten horns" represent Europe.
"'And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast' (Rev. 17:12). These kings refer to the nations of modern Europe."6


Problems with SDA "Truth" about Babylon and the Harlot

1. Is Catholicism the Harlot?

Revelation 17:8 unlocks the identity of the woman:

And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

Most people take a quick look at the last part of the verse, "reigneth over the kings of the earth," and immediately conclude the "great city" must be Rome, the city that ruled the world in the New Testament era. SDAs take a twist on that, and interpret the city as papal Rome. However, Strong's notes that the Greek word for "reigneth" is basileia, which can be used to refer to a "dominion" and that is "not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."

Under the Old Covenant, Jerusalem was the seat of God's government and His power upon this earth:

The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem... (Joel 3:16)

Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. (Ps. 135.21)

...they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem... (Jer. 3:17)

...thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain... (Dan. 9:16)

...The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem... (Amos 1:2)

And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD...for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Mic. 4:2)

Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. (Zec. 8:3)

Jesus warned people not to swear "by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King." (Matt. 5:35)

Cyrus was ruler of the largest empire on the earth, and could have built a temple in any city, but notice what he says:

Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem.

Thus, even pagan kings recognized Jerusalem as the center of God's spiritual kingdom upon this earth.

In the Old Testament, Jerusalem was recognized as a "great" city:

Now the city [was] large and great... (Neh. 7:4)

Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city? (Jer. 22:8)

How doth the city sit solitary, [that was] full of people! [how] is she become as a widow! she [that was] great among the nations... (Lam. 1:1)

In Revelation, John specifically says the "great city" was the location where Jesus was crucified:

And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Rev. 11:8)

Here John gives us a not-so-subtle hint about the identity of the "great city." Was Jesus cruficied in Rome? No. In Babylon? No. In Jerusalem? YES!

John even refers to the New Jerusalem as the "great city":

...and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God... (Rev. 21:10)

The Bible evidence is simply overwhelming that the "great city" is a reference to Jerusalem, the seat of God's power, authority and dominion upon this earth.

Notice how John's description of Babylon is strikingly similar to Jesus' denunciation of the Jews:

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus... (Rev. 17:6)

And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. (Rev. 18:24)

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. (Matthew 23:34-35)

To conclude, the vast weight of Biblical evidence points to Jerusalem, not Rome, as the whore of Revelation 17.

2. Are Protestant churches also harlots?

If Catholicism is the "mother" harlot, and Protestant churches--being the children of the Catholic Church--are also harlots, then what does that make Seventh-day Adventits? The grand-children of the harlots?

As we have seen above, Jerusalem is the "harlot" of Revelation 17. The term "mother of harlots" does not mean that Jerusalem spawned a bunch of religions. Hosea referred to Israel as a "harlot" and a "mother" (Hos. 2:4,5). Similar language is found in Ezekiel 16:44-48. To be a "mother" and a "harlot" is a double shame. It is bad enough to be single and a harlot, but to have a husband and children and still be a harlot is most reprehensible indeed! Not only is this harlotry perverse, but it goes beyond mere harlotry, showing utter contempt for the sacred institutions of marriage and the family. The fact that this "harlot" is also a "mother" is a statement about the utterly repulsive nature of this woman.

3. Is God calling Christians out of Catholic and Protestant churches to join the SDA Church?

It is convenient for Seventh-day Adventists to label all other churches as "Babylon" so that they can fulfill a supposedly divinely ordained mission to call members out of those churches to join their own church. However, as seen from the last two points, Adventists have misapplied the symbols of Bible prophecy in order to construct a scenario that conveniently identifies them as the good guys and everyone else as the bad guys. Such a warping of Bible prophecy to suit one's own purposes is a travesty.

4. Is the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 the Papacy?

Seventh-day Adventists rightly assume the beast of Revelation 17 is the same beast as that of Revelation 13. The problem is, they have misconstrued the beast of Revelation 13 to be the papacy (see study on the beast of Revelation 13). The beast of Revelation 13 is easily identified as Pagan Rome, and so is the beast of Revelation 17.

Revelation 17:9 states:

And here [is] the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

In this visionary picture, the woman is riding upon the beast and is seen sitting upon "seven mountains." The city of Rome is notorious for being nestled among seven hills. The first century readers of Revelation could not fail to see the connection between the beast having "seven mountains" just as Rome has seven hills. The fact that the woman is sitting upon the seat of Rome's power indicates the country has committed spiritual adultery against God and has joined with the Roman Empire, as is evidenced by the pronouncement of the chief priests of the Jewish nation: "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15).

5. Do the "seven mountains" represent seven world powers throughout history?

The SDA scenario of world powers existing over many long centuries of history is refuted in the first chapter of Revelation, which says the events written therein must "shortly" come to pass. Furthermore, the seven mountains are said to represent "seven kings" not "seven empires" (Rev. 17:10). These "kings" are easily identifiable. Knowing that Revelation was written around 65 AD, the seven kings can be easily identified according to Revelation 17:10:

"Five are fallen." These Caesars had passed away prior to the writing of Revelation:

  1. Julius
  2. Augustus
  3. Tiberius
  4. Caligula
  5. Claudius

"One is", the sixth Caesar, was reigning when John wrote Revelation:

    6. Nero

"The other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space"

    7. Galba, the seventh Caesar, reigned for less than seven months

6. Do the "ten horns" represent Europe?

This interpretation of the ten horns is based on a flawed understanding of the ten horns on the beast of Daniel 7. In Bible prophecy, horns upon a beast always represent the kings or human leaders of that empire. The ten horns do not represent other empires. They represent the kings that ruled over the Roman Empire. The ten horns represent the ten Caesars that ruled up until the final termination of the Old Covenant and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. To study the identity of the ten horns further, click here to read a study on Daniel 7.

Bible Truth about Babylon and the Harlot

Who is the Harlot of Rev. 17?7

Since the woman is seated upon the seven-headed beast and is called Babylon, some have thought she represents the city of Rome. But since the beast itself is Rome this would be redundant; Babylon is used to refer to an enemy of God, which in this case is Jerusalem.

There are several reasons to identify the harlot as Jerusalem. The Harlot is called Babylon. Babylon is called the great city in Revelation 14:8; Revelation 11:8, which is the first mention of the great city, refers to the place where our Lord was crucified, which was Jerusalem. She is great because of her covenantal status in the Old Testament. Jerusalem had previously been called by pagan names comparable to Babylon, as in Revelation 11:8, "spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt." This is because she acts like God's enemy. In Isaiah 1:9-10, God calls Jerusalem `Sodom and Gomorrah' because of her sinfulness.

The harlot is filled with the blood of the saints according to Revelation 17:6, 16:6, and 18:21&24. Throughout the book of Acts, Jerusalem is portrayed as the persecutor of Christianity.

Acts 7:51-52 (NKJV) "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers."

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said in Matthew 23:34-36,

"Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all therighteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation."

The harlot is arrayed in Jewish priestly colors according to Revelation 17:4. Exodus 28 prescribes these colors for the High Priest. The High Priest also wore a tiara on his forehead that said, "holiness unto the Lord" (Exodus 28:36-38). This harlot has a blasphemous tiara on her forehead (Rev. 17:5). She was supposed to be holy to the Lord but she has become the mother of harlots.

There is an obvious literary contrast between the harlot and the bride that comes down out of heaven. If we compare Revelation 21 & 17, we see two women: one is a harlot, the other a bride; one is Jerusalem that is above, the other is Jerusalem from below. Paul talked about these two Jerusalems in Galatians 4:25-26 (NKJV):

For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem that now is, and is in bondage with her children; but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Notice how John is introduced to the harlot, and notice how he is introduced to the bride. They are negative mirror images.
Revelation 17:1 (NKJV) Revelation 21:9 (NKJV)
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters," "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."

The harlot is seated on the pagan Roman seven headed beast. This indicates not identity with Rome but some form of alliance with Rome. The Jews were the ones that demanded Christ's crucifixion. When Pilot wanted to turn Jesus loose because he found no guilt in him, the Jews said in:

John 19:15 (NKJV), "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!"

The Jews were siding with Caesar against Jesus. The Jews constantly agitated against the Christians to get the Romans involved in their persecution. In Acts 17:7, the Christians were accused by the Jews as those who preached another king contrary to the decrees of Caesar. The harlot is seated on the beast because Jerusalem depended upon Rome to persecute the Christians.

Your Questions Answered

QUESTION: When was the book of Revelation written?

ANSWER: There is significant evidence it was written before 70 A.D. To review that evidence, click here.

Links for Deeper Study

Days of Vengeance has been called the "finest, fullest commentary on the book of Revelation ever written." This ground-breaking verse-by-verse study of the book of Revelation written by a leading Christian theologian provides substantial evidence revealing that much of Revelation was fulfilled in the first century A.D. This book is available online in PDF format by clicking here. This book is also available for purchase at


1. Revelation Seminar Studies, Lesson 21, "Mystic Babylon the Harlot".

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance.

Category: Amazing Fiction - Revelation
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