Mystery Babylon: The Great City And Mother Of Harlots

by Jim Gunter

While on the Isle of Patmos for the Word of God, the Apostle John was afforded the blessed privilege to see many wonderful and marvelous things; things which he, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recorded in the Revelation of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. And of all the things recorded in this Epistle, perhaps the one that stands out most in the minds of the serious Bible Student is in the form of a question, which is: What is the identity of "The Great City" of Revelation 11:8; 14:8, which is also touted as, "Mystery Babylon," "Babylon the Great," "The Great Harlot," and "Mother of Harlots?" To give the reader some idea of the importance our Father has placed upon this Great City, His pronouncement of her Judgment, and her Demise, occupy five of the twenty-two chapters in this Epistle! I call your attention to this fact for this reason: Our Lord is not using these descriptive terms so as to hide her identity from us 21st Century Disciples. And more importantly, neither is John, nor the interpreting angel, playing some game of "hide the city" with those First Century Believers, to whom this letter is addressed! Oh no; but to the contrary! I believe the very title of the Epistle itself (Revelation), clearly suggests that its purpose is to "reveal," not to "conceal! As a matter of fact, I am fully persuaded that the recipients, especially those among them who were Jews, would know the City described by John! It would seem to me that, for these recipients to have a clear understanding of the message John is conveying, it would require that they have an understanding of the identity of this City! We will have more to say on this a little later. The following are some of the passages in this Epistle, in which Mystery Babylon is either spoken of directly, or implied by way of Old Testament metaphors and precedents:

1. Revelation 11:8:"And their (the witnesses of Christ's-jg) dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified."

2. Revelation 14:8:"And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.'"

3. Revelation 14:20:"And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles."

4. Revelation 16:19:"And the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath."

5. Revelation 17:1-9: "(1) And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, 'Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.' (2) with whom the kings of the earth (the land-jg) committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth (the land-jg) were made drunk with the wine of her immorality' (3) And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, (4) and the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, (5) and upon her forehead, a name was written, a mystery, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH (the land-jg)." (6) And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. And when I saw her, I wondered greatly. (7) And the angel said to me, 'Why do you wonder? I shall tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. (8) The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth (the land-jg) will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that he was and is not and will come. (9) Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits."

6. Revelation 17:18:"And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth (the land-jg)."

7. Revelation 18:1-2:"After these things, I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.'"

8. Revelation 18:4-10: "(4) And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, 'Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues; (5) for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (6) Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her. (7) To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as a Queen and I am not a widow, and will never see mourning. (8) For this reason in one day her plagues will come, 'pestilence and mourning, and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.' (9) And the kings of the earth (the land-jg), who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, (10) standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.'"

9. Revelation 18:15-19: "(15) The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, (16) 'Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls. (17) For in one hour, such great wealth has been laid waste! And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance. (18)…and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What city is like the great city?' (19) And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!'"

10. Revelation 18:24: "And in her (Babylon, the Great City-jg--See vs. 21) was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth (the land-jg)."

As you can see, I have marked in the above passages, all the instances where the phrase "the great," and its equivalents, are used in this marvelous Epistle. I did so as to make for quicker and easier reference for investigation by the reader, of the points made in this essay.

My dear friends, as we prepare now to examine these things, I dare to borrow the words of the beloved Apostle Peter who said: "I would like to "stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance" (2 Peter 3:1). That of which I would beg your remembrance is something I have stressed in past writings, and that is "audience relevance." In other words, I would simply ask that we look at the words of John and the interpreting angel, through the lens, and from the mindset of the First Century Followers of Jesus, for it was to them that John addressed this Epistle. And please, let us also keep in mind that even though Revelation was written to First Century congregations made up of both Jew and Gentile Believers, John is a Jew, and thus writing from the perspective of the Hebrew mind. And because he is a Jew, he has a vast knowledge of the Old Covenant Scriptures, not to mention his guidance by the Holy Spirit. We also should remember that the Jewish Disciples in those congregations would also have had a vast knowledge of the Old Covenant Oracles! Therefore, based on these facts, I believe we would naturally expect John (and the Holy Spirit) to draw upon the prophecies of the ancient Prophets of Yahweh in those Sacred Writings, as he reveals Christ's Message to these First Century Followers of Jesus! I believe I should also mention, that what one understands about the dating of the writing of the Apocalypse, will also affect the conclusions one reaches on various aspects of the Epistle. As I have indicated in past writings, it is my conclusion that the Apocalypse was written "before" A.D. 70 (approx. A.D. 64-67). However, as you also know, some Believers think it was written "after" A.D. 70 (approx. A.D. 92-96). If, perhaps, you did not receive my paper on "The Dating of the Book of Revelation," and would like to have it, please just drop me a line at and I will be happy to send you a copy. Before getting into all the things that identify this City called "Mystery Babylon," I feel compelled to first alert the reader of a most important thing that John reveals to his First Century readers. Please notice the imminent time-frame of these things John is about to reveal to the seven churches:

1. Revelation 1:1: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it (signified it-KJV) by His angel to His bond-servant John…"

2. Revelation 1:3: "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near."

3. Revelation 22:6-7: "…these words are faithful and true; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place. And behold, I am coming quickly."

4. Revelation 22:10: "And he said to me, 'Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near."

5. Revelation 22:12: "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done."

6. Revelation 22:20: "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly."

My dear fellow Believer, from these sayings of our Master, if there is one thing that I learn from Him, it is that the things contained in this letter to His bond-servants, were on the brink of coming to pass in that First Century generation! There's just no way around that, wouldn't you agree? I would also like to call your attention to the Words of Jesus in example No. 5 above. Please look at those Words again, and pay close attention to what He says immediately after He says, "I am coming quickly!" He says, "My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." Do these Words sound familiar? Well, they certainly should. Here, Jesus harkens back to what He spoke to His Apostles shortly before He was taken and crucified. He said in Matthew 16:27-28:"For the Son of Man is going to (Gr. - mello - about to) come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds. Truly, I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."As we can see from these two related passages, Jesus clearly repeats that promise He made to His Apostles back in Matthew 16:27-28 namely, that some of those standing in His Presence then would still be living at the time of His Coming in His Kingdom. And at which time, He would Judge every man according to his deeds! Because of all the above things written, I believe we should keep in mind, that all the things written in the Apocalypse, were about to come to pass, certainly, at some point in their generation!

Most Common View

Among the several views, as to the identity of "the great city," perhaps the one that stands out in the minds of most Believers today is the ancient city of "Rome." However, I believe you would agree with me that simply because a particular view may be the one most subscribed to, this, in no way means that it is the correct view. For surely, the correct view would, of necessity, be the one that is consistent with our Father's Word, would it not? I would think by now, you probably have surmised that I do not understand "Rome" to be that city to which John alludes in the above passages. And yes, I will confess that I do not believe "Rome" to be "the great city" of the Apocalypse! After much research and study of both the Old Covenant and New Covenant Scriptures, and especially those passages of The Revelation, in which John discusses this "great city," I have come to the conclusion that it is in fact the Holy City of "Jerusalem," that John speaks of, and not Rome. And if you would please allow me a few lines, I would like to set forth for your consideration, my reasons for reaching this conclusion.

John's Introduction of The Great City (Revelation 11:1-11)

Before getting into the various passages that many Believers cite in support of the "Rome" view, I believe it would be helpful to examine first, the passage in which "the great city" is first introduced to John's First Century reading audience. And according to what he writes in Revelation 1:1-3, these Saints understood, that these things revealed to John, would in fact take place in their generation. I say that because the angel told John that these Saints were to "heed the things that are written" because "they would shortly take place, and that the time was near." John's introduction of The Great City is recorded in Revelation 11:1-11, where he is given a measuring rod by an angel, who instructs him to measure the temple. He is then further instructed to leave out the temple "court," because, as the angel says in verse 2, it would be trodden under foot by the nations (i.e., the Gentiles), along with "The Holy City" for a period of forty-two months (3½ years). It should be noted, that in verse 3, Christ's two witnesses are also there in John's vision, bearing witness and prophesying in The Holy City. John then says that, upon completion of their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss would make war with them (i.e., the witnesses) and kill them (vss. 7-8). The angel further says, that for 3½ days (prophetically, forty-two months-jg), their dead bodies would lie in the street of "the great city" which, mystically, is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified." Good folks, it would seem to me that anyone reading this passage could not help but see that John clearly and specifically, identifies just who this "great city" is here, in spite of the fact that he doesn't mention it by name! Please notice that not only does he say it is "the Holy City," but is also the city that is mystically (i.e., metaphorically-jg) called Sodom and Egypt, "where also their Lord was crucified (vs. 8)." This, in my view, begs the question: Could there be any doubt that this is an obvious, dead giveaway, that "the great city" here is none other than the Holy City of "Jerusalem?" Folks, I really believe this to be of the utmost importance! Based on these things, I just really cannot understand how it could even enter the mind of even the most casual reader, that John, here, is describing "Rome" as being "the great city!" The angel's statement, that this City is, "mystically," called Sodom and Egypt (two of ancient Israel's enemies), is obviously a reference to Jerusalem's spiritual condition, not unlike her condition when Yahweh judged her in the days of 586 B.C. Don K. Preston comments on this. He observes: "Only one city, other than historical Sodom, was ever called Sodom. In Isaiah 1:10, Jeremiah 23:13f, and Ezekiel 16:44f, it is none other than Jerusalem! It was Jerusalem's sin that caused her to earn the epithet Sodom. Given the apostate condition of Jerusalem in Jesus' day, is it difficult to see that she had once again earned that badge of distinction? (Who is this Babylon pp 29)."

In that powerful prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 1), the prophet continues in verse 21 saying: "How the faithful city has become a harlot, she who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, but now, murderers."

Because of all the incontrovertible evidence shown in these passages, I believe it should come as no surprise to us, when those who see Rome as "the great city," fail to make reference to the very passage (i.e., Revelation 11:8) that introduces this "great city" to John's First Century recipients! Good folks, in light of all the above, I believe it is only fair to ask this very simple, yet vital, question of simple logic: If "the great city," is first introduced to John's First Century readers as being the City "where their Lord was crucified" (11:8), why should his readers then be expected to understand it to be "Rome" in all his other uses of "the great city" in chapters 14-18? Surely, this would have to be quite confusing to his readers, don't you think? Moreover, I believe this would also create a glaring contradiction? My dear friends, I don't mean to belabor the point, but it would also seem to me that, the fact John also designates her, not as "a" Great City, but as "THE" Great City, this, in and of itself, would suggest to his First Century recipients, a "uniqueness" to this city of which he speaks! Surely, in the minds of these Saints (especially those who were Jews), there was only "one" Great City, not two! And so, my question is: Which one is it? Before we leave this particular segment regarding the identity of "this great city," there is something else that I feel is of the utmost importance: Did you know that John's use of this term in the Apocalypse, is not the first time the City of Jerusalem is called "this great city?" Well, it's true! Even as far back as six centuries before Christ, the Prophet Jeremiah referred to Jerusalem as "this great city." In that prophecy, Yahweh declared what passers-by would exclaim as they viewed the Great Judgment He would bring upon the City. The Lord said: "And many nations will pass by this city, and they will say to one another, 'Why has the Lord done thus to this great city?' Then they will answer, 'Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord their God and bowed down to other gods and served them'" (Jeremiah 22:8-9).

Foy Wallace wrote: "(the prophecies of Revelation 18) do not fit Rome, nor any other city than Jerusalem;  where the prophets, apostles and saints were slain.  The usual interpretation to bring the apocalypse down through the ages to stage again the historical pageantry of the Roman Empire, in the effort to find a future fulfillment, takes all the force out of the words of Christ in Matthew 23 and 24, and robs the Apocalypse of its immediate message.  The apostate Jerusalem was the object of the visions of Revelation." (ibid., p. 383)

John's Second Use of the Term, "The Great City" (Revelation 16:19): The second occasion where John uses the specific term, "the great city," is found in Chapter 16. Here he is shown the "pouring out of the 7 vials of God's wrath." Please notice in vss. 17-19, that God's wrath is shown in His pronouncement of Judgment upon "the great city." As we can clearly see, John does not give the name of the City here, albeit, he does give us another clue as to her identity, which is the title, "Babylon the Great!" I believe there is a very good reason for John's not giving the specific name of the City; it is simply because of just what we pointed out above, and that's because these Disciples had already learned from what he wrote in Chapter 11:1-8, that the "great city" is none other than the Holy City - "Jerusalem - where their Lord was crucified!" And so, that being the case, I see no reason why it would be necessary for John to re-identify it here. In fact I think it would be somewhat redundant for him to do so, for surely, at this point, they clearly understand that "Jerusalem" is indeed, "this great city!" But let's not stop there because there are two more very, very interesting and integral elements in this passage (i.e., Revelation 16). Please notice in vs. 19 that John says, regarding Judgment pronounced upon "the great city," that "it was split into three parts." At first blush, this statement may seem somewhat insignificant and benign, wouldn't you say? However, if we consider the source of such a remark, I don't think we will find it to be at all insignificant! The source of this remark harkens back once again to an Old Covenant prophecy. This time it is a prophecy by Ezekiel, some six centuries earlier, regarding Yahweh's Judgment on the "House of Judah," at the hands of His Instrument of Judgment - the Babylonians! Here God said to Ezekiel: "As for you, son of man, take a sharp sword; take and use it as a barber's razor on your head and beard. Then take scales for weighing and divide the hair; One third you shall burn in the fire at the center of the city, when the days of the siege are completed. Then you shall take one third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And one third you shall scatter to the wind; and I will unsheathe a sword behind them. Take also a few in number from them and bind them in the edges of your robes. And take again some of them and throw them into the fire, and burn them in the fire; from it a fire will spread to all the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord God, this is Jerusalem, I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her" (Ezekiel 5:1-5). Good folks, it seems rather obvious to me, that the interpreting angel's reference to this Judgment on Jerusalem back in the days of the Babylonian empire, is to inform these First Century Saints, of her (Jerusalem's) soon-to-come, First Century Judgment. This time, of course, it will be at the hands of the Lord's lethal Instrument of Judgment - the Roman Armies and Allies! I believe these First Century Saints (and especially the Jewish Saints among them), who were the recipients of this Epistle, would be keenly aware of God's message in Ezekiel's prophecy, and that Jerusalem was now once again in the cross-hairs of His Judgment! And once again, just as before, she will also be "at the center of the nations, with lands around her!" Now as we continue our examination of this marvelous passage, i.e., Revelation 16:19, there is something else here that I believe is quite revealing about this "Babylon the Great!" This is how the verse reads: "And the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the Great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath." Dear friends, please take note in this passage, that John contrasts "Babylon the Great" with "the cities of the nations." My point here is that, in this passage John delineates between her (i.e., Babylon) and "the cities of the nations." This, in my view, would preclude her from being in a "Gentile" location as Rome was! I say this because as we can see, John does not say "the other cities of the nations," so as to include his "Babylon" among those cities, but rather, he juxtaposes her over against the cities of the nations. In light of these facts, I believe this to be more very strong evidence that "Babylon the great" is indeed the Holy City of "Jerusalem" and not "Rome!"

The Woman Sitting on a Scarlet Beast (Revelation 17:1-9)

It is in the 17th chapter of Revelation that we find the "the great city" pictured as "a woman sitting on a scarlet beast." Here, John writes: Revelation 17:3-6: "(3) And he (i.e., the interpreting angel-jg) carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, and having seven heads and ten horns. (4) And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, (5) and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth. (6) And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. And when I saw her, I wondered greatly."

Now it may be that you are thinking right now, "Why would Jim just assume that John is speaking here of 'the great city' since it is not specifically stated in the passage?" Well, you would be correct, in that the text does not specifically state that. However, if you will, just for a moment, take a quick look at verse 18. Here, you will see that John does tell us, explicitly, just who this woman is. He says: "'And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.'" Good folks, the best reason I see for investigating this 17th chapter, is because it is here that we find both John's first and last use of "the woman" imagery in describing "the great city." In this chapter, he speaks of a number of things that are attributed to "the woman." Here are some of those things:

The Woman Sits Upon a Scarlet Beast (Vs. 3)

First, John describes her as "sitting on a scarlet beast" (vs. 3). Let me begin by saying that I find it most interesting that, of all the good folks I know who understand "Rome" to be "the great city," all of them, without exception, also believe the "scarlet beast" is the "Roman Empire." Please allow me, to say here, that I do whole-heartedly agree, that "the scarlet beast" is indeed representative of the "Roman Empire!" However, if one takes the position that the "scarlet beast" is the Roman Empire, but then says also that "the woman" sitting on the scarlet beast is Rome, this, in my view, produces a glaring contradiction, does it not? Here's why I say this: If the "woman" is "Rome," and the "scarlet beast" is the "Roman Empire," then we have Rome riding upon the Roman Empire, which to me, really bears no semblance to reason! But this is the inevitable, untenable situation in which we find ourselves, if we demand that the "great city" be "Rome!" I'm sure you can see my point here! And this is just one of the reasons why I do not believe "Rome" to be "the woman sitting on the scarlet beast."

Conversely, however, if "the woman" is representative of "Jerusalem," and "the scarlet beast" is representative of the "Roman Empire," this makes perfect sense in my view, simply because Jerusalem (i.e., the rulers of the Jews) enjoyed the support of the Roman Empire against the Saints, especially during the last four years or so of the reign of Emperor Nero! I don't think any Believer today would deny that! You may also remember how our Master, speaking to His Apostles, prophesied that these things would take place in their generation. He said: in Luke 21:12:"'But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake'" (See also Luke 21:32). He further said this to His Apostles, regarding His Coming in Judgment on Israel (Jerusalem):"'But whenever they (the rulers of the Jews - jg) persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes'" (Matthew 10:23).

The Woman's Adornment (Verses 4-5)

The text reads: "(4) And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand, a gold cup, full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality. (5) "And upon her forehead, a name was written, a mystery, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." Good folks, I don't know about you, but I find it most interesting, how this "adornment" of the "woman/harlot/great city/Mystery Babylon" in verse 4, mirrors the description given in Revelation 18:16. And what I find just truly remarkable here is how this adornment is like that of the Old Covenant high priestly world of the temple in Jerusalem! Please hear Josephus as he describes the curtain which covered the entrance to that part of the temple known as the holy place and the holy of holies:"But then this house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a 'Babylonian' curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful." (Jewish Wars, Book V, chapter 5, verse 4).

New Testament scholar, G. K. Beale makes a most interesting observation with regard to these words of John, in verse 4, that describe this adornment of "the woman." He notes that this combination of words, in the Greek, is identical to those in the LXX (Septuagint) that describe the high priest's garments. As you know, the LXX was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures, which was used in Jesus' generation. Even He quoted from it on a number of occasions! Dear friends, do you think all these things are just a simple coincidence? Or do you think perhaps that the interpreting angel is showing these First Century Saints, that the "great city" Jerusalem is being represented here in the role of "high priest," or at least being representative of the Jewish priestly system? Please, you be the judge as to which City this description best suits Rome or Jerusalem!

The Woman is Mystery Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots (vs. 5)

Here is the passage where supporters of the "Rome" view assign the title of "harlot" to "Rome." However, I must respectfully say that I find the notion of the "harlot" here being "Rome," to be fraught with much difficulty for this reason: Please take note that, as John writes about the title, "Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots," that it is written in a most conspicuous place, namely, on the woman's "forehead!" My dear friends, I don't believe it is simply by chance at all, that it is on her forehead, simply because there is actually an Old Covenant precedent for this! Here, I see John drawing from a Hebrew Old Testament example found in Jeremiah 3:3. In this passage Yahweh accuses the House of Israel of harlotry. And then, please take special notice of what He says next! He says: "…you had a harlot's forehead!"

I don't know about you, but I find this truly remarkable! As we can see, Yahweh did not say this of some "foreign" nation, but rather of His own people, the House of Israel. And surely, those First Century Saints of the seven churches, especially the Jews among them, would have understood this precedent John alludes to because this is Hebrew imagery, not Gentile! And this, I believe, is the reason for those words on the "forehead" of the woman! It would appear to me that there is a nexus or connection being made here to the high priestly world of "Jerusalem." I believe it is also of great significance, that in the Old Covenant Scriptures, the accusation of "harlotry or adultery" is used to describe "covenant unfaithfulness" only on the part of those who were in covenant relationship with Yahweh! Did you know that there were only two nations, outside of the nations of Israel and Judah, who were ever accused of harlotry or adultery against God? Yes, in the days of David and Solomon, there was Tyre (See 1 Kings 1-12; 9:13; Amos 1:9). And in the days of Jonah, there was Nineveh (See Jonah 3:5-10). These two Gentile nations were, for a time, in covenant relationship with Yahweh. Conversely, however, as for "Rome," it could never be said of her, that she was ever in covenant relationship with God. Rome was always an enemy of Yahweh and as such, could not possibly fit the mould of "harlot or adulteress." But it certainly can be said of the House of Israel and the House of Judah, for they were "married" to Yahweh!

In 1966 Foy Wallace wrote: "There was no basis for a symbol or an analogy in which Rome could have been depicted as having become a harlot, for Rome never stood in the spiritual relation to God as a faithful city, turned to harlotry. The harlot was a city once faithful to God, and only Jerusalem can fulfill the symbolic descriptions" (ibid., p. 364). We should also understand that it was because of the adulteries and harlotries (i.e., idolatry and any other form of covenant unfaithfulness), that Yahweh divorced the House of Israel, and she was taken into Assyrian captivity in 721 B.C. For example, The Lord said of the House of Israel: "…you are a harlot with many lovers; yet you turn to me" (Jeremiah 3:1b). Then, of both houses, He said this: "And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah (Jerusalem-jg) did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also" (Jeremiah 3:8).

And so, as we can see, both Israel (northern kingdom) and Judah (southern kingdom) had a history of adulteries and harlotries, against Yahweh. Here are a few examples of God's charges against them, in which He consistently used the harlotry theme to show their covenant unfaithfulness: Ezekiel 16:15, 17, 28, 35, 41; 23:1-21, 44; Isaiah 1:21; 57:3; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:1; 13:27; Hosea 2:2-5; 4:12, 15, 18; 5:4; 9:1.

Sadly enough, even with the divorce of the House of Israel, the House of Judah (Jerusalem) did not heed God's warning, and played the harlot also, and she continued with her "covenant unfaithfulness." He even said of them, that they were "sons of a sorceress, and the offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute" ( Isaiah 57:3). And yes, it is so tragic that her (Jerusalem's) spiritual harlotry and adultery continued on, even to the generation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Knowing this history of Judah's unfaithfulness should help us to better understand what our Master said to the Scribes and Pharisees of His generation, when they demanded of Him a sign. Jesus replied: "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign, yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet" (Matthew 12:39; 16:4). I find Jesus' answer to be very fitting and most interesting as He uses the harlotry theme in this scolding of the unbelieving Jews (Jerusalem) of His generation! Here's another example: "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38). Since these to whom He was speaking, were leaders of the Jews (Jerusalem), I believe this adds additional weight to the view that it is Jerusalem who is the "Mother of Harlots," sitting on the scarlet beast, and not Rome! It would be my understanding that, since Rome never had a covenant relationship with Yahweh, she could never be charged with adultery/harlotry against Him since these terms are indicators of "covenant unfaithfulness!" Some Believers of today say, however, that the Jews of the First Century did not worship idols during that First Century period. However, when one considers what the leaders of the Jews of that day had done to the Old Covenant Law of Yahweh, this in and of itself was a form of "idolatry." One only has to read our Master's Words describing the hypocrisy, and self-righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-39, to understand clearly how they had totally obliterated God's Law and replaced it with their own set of laws. Obviously, anytime one puts their own lusts and desires before our Father's will, they are no less than idolaters!

Murderers of The Prophets and First Century Saints (Revelation 16:6)

Proponents of the "Rome" view also perceive it to have been "Rome" who were the murderers of the saints and the prophets. Let us take a brief look at some of the passages in the Apocalypse that speak to that issue:

1. Revelation 16:6: "…for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it."

2. Revelation 18:20: "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her."

3. Revelation 18:24: "And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth (land-jg)."

It is quite clear from these passages that someone was indeed guilty of shedding the blood of God's "prophets." And so, the question is: Who was it, "Rome" or "Jerusalem?" I'm reminded of an occasion where our Lord spoke to His Apostles about His death which was fast approaching. He said: "Nevertheless, I must journey on today and tomorrow, and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem." (Luke 13:33). I'm sure you are also familiar with what our Master said to the scribes and Pharisees during his last visit to the temple before His crucifixion. He said they were not a whit unlike their fathers before them, who had killed the Old Testament prophets. Please notice in Matthew 23:29-38 how He blistered these hypocrites, saying: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Consequently, you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and 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 upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" Good folks, from this passage, I believe it is unmistakably clear that it would be the leaders of the "Jews (Jerusalem)," and not Rome, who would be the murderers of the prophets, wise men, and scribes that Jesus would send to them after His ascension.

Concerning the Old Testament Prophets, I'm sure we all remember the charge of murder that Stephen made against a mob of Jews in Jerusalem, and against their fathers; a charge that cost him his very life. In Acts 7:52, He said to those Jews who were about to stone him: "'Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers 'YOU' have now become.'" Do you remember that it was Herod (king of the Jews) who had the Apostle James, the brother of John, put to death? And also, when he saw that it pleased "the Jews" he then arrested the Apostle Peter to have him put to death also. And he would have done so had it not been for the angel of the Lord who rescued Peter. Oh, and please let us not forget that it was the Jews (Jerusalem) who came down to Lystra from Antioch and Iconium, and seized the Apostle Paul. And they, after winning over the multitude, stoned him, supposing that they had killed him (Acts 14:8, 19). And then, who could possibly forget what Paul declared to the Saints at Thessalonica, regarding their (the Thessalonians') persecution at the hands of the unbelieving Jews (Jerusalem) in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15: "For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men." As touching the prophets, I believe we should take notice of the fact that it is God's Old Covenant Prophets that are referenced in these three passages. Therefore, based on that settled fact, I believe we can safely conclude that it was the Jews/Jerusalem who were the murderers of those prophets! Obviously, "Rome" never murdered any of God's Old Testament Prophets for the simple reason that Rome was not yet a world power in the days of those prophets!

The Woman Sits on Seven Mountains (Vs. 9)

One of the most often used examples used by those Believers who support the Rome view, is what is described in verse 9. In this verse, "the woman" is pictured "sitting on seven mountains (or hills)." I'm sure most of us have heard many times of the seven hills on which the city of "Rome" sits. However, it may come as a surprise to some, that this is also true of the city of "Jerusalem." By the time of Jesus and His Apostles, the City of Jerusalem had grown to expand its borders far outside of its original fort, Zion. Therefore, when the Apostle John penned the Apocalypse, Jerusalem sat upon seven mountains/hills. Their names were: Mt. Gared; Mt. Goath; Mt. Acra; Mt. Bezetha; Mt Moriah; Mt. Ophel, and Mt. Zion.

One scholar (Scott Hahn) observes: "For whatever reason, and by whatever hands and manipulation, Mt. Gared, Mt. Goath, Mt Acra, and Mt. Bezetha have been deleted from nearly all maps of Jerusalem. To still identify Jerusalem as the city of Revelation 17:9, other scholars replaced these with four other mountains: Mt. of Olives, Mt. Of Offence, Mount of Evil Counsel, and Mount Calvary. In either case, Jerusalem is the city of the seven mountains in Revelation 17:9. While these were not all within the walled city, all seven hills were nevertheless spoken of as being at Jerusalem and Jerusalem. The original Jerusalem was only upon the small hill of Zion. The walls were enlarged to enclose also the temple mount by Solomon. Later the walls were enlarged again to include Mount Ophel. Then the city limits was enlarged again and covered the seven hills." 

D. Ragan Ewing writes: "Based on this evidence, I do not find the 'city on seven hills' argument for Rome to be as persuasive as I once did. It would seem that a very compelling case can be made that the stream of Jewish apocalyptic tradition energizing Revelation more naturally evokes the image of Jerusalem as the city seated on seven mountains in 17:9 than Rome. The view that Babylon is a cipher for Jerusalem in the Apocalypse cannot then be dismissed on the basis of this common objection; not only can it be defended that the evidence of 17:9 can fit Jerusalem, there are strong reasons to believe that it in fact does most properly fits Jerusalem."

It should also be noted that Jerusalem is not the only City in the world that holds the distinction of sitting on seven hills. For example, there is Babylon, Rome, Moscow, Mecca, Lisbon, Tehran, and Amman, just to name a few. In fact, it is claimed that there are at least nineteen cities in our own country who make the claim that they are founded on seven hills. Please hear what the psalmist spoke concerning Jerusalem:"His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion" (Psalms 87:1).

"As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord Surrounds His people" (Psalms 125:2).

Peter Claims to be Writing from Babylon (1 Peter 5:13)

The belief of some Saints today, that Peter actually wrote his Epistle from the old ancient Chaldean capital city of Babylon, destroyed by the Medes and Persians in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, is hardly worthy of mention, since it had been totally devastated in 538 B.C. The Roman geographer, Strabo, who was contemporary with the times of our Master, wrote this about the infamous Babylon: "the great city Babylon has become a wilderness." Even the Roman Emperor, Trajan who reigned from January, A.D. 98 to August 117, who was eager to visit the infamous Babylon, was disappointed when he arrived at the site; it was only a wasted pile of rubble (Wikipedia - Trajan). Then, there are also the good folks who believe that Peter wrote his Epistle from "Rome," and that he simply used "Babylon" as a cipher (i.e., a code) representative of "Rome." Personally, I really see no logical reason for having to do this. It would seem to me that if Peter was in fact writing from "Rome," why would he not just say so? Paul did! For example, when Paul wrote his Epistle to the "Philippians" from Rome, he plainly indicated that he was writing from Rome when he spoke of "those of Caesar's household" (Philippians 4:22)! And so, for this reason, I really can't see any justification for Peter doing otherwise! So that we may better understand why Peter's use of a metaphor such as "Babylon," as the place from which he is writing his Epistle, I believe we should keep in mind what John wrote in chapter 1, and verse 1 of the Apocalypse, when he said that the things he wrote were the things "that Jesus sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John." So, the things John wrote were "sign-i-fied" to him. In other words, The Lord revealed these things to him by way of "signs and symbols"; signs and symbols with which they would have been familiar! Yes, I believe these First Century Saints clearly understood that the name "Babylon" was not the real name of the City that John labels, "Babylon," but understood that it was only a reputational description of the real City in view. While it is true that you and I, living twenty centuries down the way and looking back, might do quite a bit of speculation about such things, I believe we greatly err if we believe this would have also been the case with those First Century Believers, especially those who were Jews! Would you please consider a couple of things with me? First, let us keep in mind that John is writing his Apocalypse to "seven churches" scattered over all of Asia! Secondly, let us also remember that Peter is writing his Epistle to a host of Saints scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1). And what I find really amazing is the fact that both the Apostle John and the Apostle Peter use the same identical metaphor, "Babylon." Don't you just find that remarkable? And would you not see this as very strong evidence that the real identity of Mystery Babylon was generally understood and well known among the First Century Saints? Also, would this not explain why neither Peter nor John felt a need to give the "specific" name of the City? Surely, our Heavenly Father would not tell them these things about the City just to play a guessing game with them! My dear friends, I just have to say that I am totally convinced that those First Century Saints clearly understood to which City Peter had reference, when he sent them greetings "from Babylon!" Moreover, I am equally confident that the Saints, to whom John wrote, clearly understood to which City he had reference, when he labeled her "Mystery Babylon!" Since Peter and John are the subjects of this present discussion, there are some other things we should also remember. First, when Jesus spoke to His Apostles in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), we should remember that Peter and John were among the four Apostles (two sets of brothers) who pulled Jesus aside to explain to them all about the soon-to-come "end of the age" (Matthew 24:3), along with the Judgment that was to befall "Jerusalem" (Luke 21:20-22). The other two Apostles were James and Andrew (Mark 13:3). It should also be noted that all of these things were to be fulfilled in their generation (Mark 13:30; Matthew 24:34). Not that these four were given more information than were the other eight, for they were all fully informed of all these things. Let us also not forget that, after Jesus' resurrection, He spent 40 days with the Apostles, teaching them and "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:1-3). My question is: Why would not these very things regarding the apostate condition of the leaders of Jerusalem be among the things He taught them?

There is also another reason why I do not believe Peter to have been in Rome when he wrote his Epistle: As of about A.D. 60 the church at Rome did not yet have the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. I say this because the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the church there:"For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established" (Romans 1:11). I understand from Luke's account, concerning Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8, that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were conferred on "non-apostolic" Disciples by way of the laying on of the hands and prayer of "an apostle." For example, in this account, the Disciple Philip (who was not an Apostle) went down to Samaria, preaching the Gospel to those people. There, Philip made many new Disciples and performed many signs and miracles. Then there was a certain sorcerer there named Simon, who saw Philip performing many miracles, and he was greatly amazed by them. Then, in vs. 14 we learn that:"When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who, when they came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that The Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, 'Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:4-19).

As we can see from this account, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were imparted to First Century Disciples by way of "the laying on of the hands of an apostle," such as Peter, John, or Paul et. al.! Good folks, this, I believe, adds great weight to my conclusion that the Apostle Peter was not in Rome when he wrote his Epistle! Please consider something with me: If Peter had actually been there in Rome, then why would it be necessary for Paul to go there and impart Spiritual Gifts to the Disciples there. Would not Peter have already laid hands upon them and prayed for them that the Spiritual Gifts could be imparted to them? I sincerely believe he would have! Good folks, I don't want to tire you on this particular point, but would you please bear with me and allow me to make just one more salient point here, that further convinces me that Peter was not in Rome. Let us use our sanctified imaginations once again, and just suppose for the moment, that when Paul wrote to the Disciples in "Rome" (A.D. 58-60), Peter was actually there. If this was indeed the case, then why would Peter not have actually laid hands upon these Disciples, conferring to them the Spiritual Gifts, and thus "establishing" them? If Peter was there in Rome, it just seems to me that there would be no need for Paul to come and take care of this need. But dear ones, that's not all! I would ask that you please read carefully, the last chapter of this letter (i.e., Romans). Here, you will see in this chapter, that Paul sends "greetings and salutations" to some 26 or 27 individual Disciples there in Rome, as well as the "households" of several of them! Now, if you will, please consider this: What do you suppose would be the odds that Paul would mention all these many Disciples, even by name, and yet never, even once, mention the Apostle Peter? If Peter had been there, don't you believe that Paul would have at least acknowledged his fellow Apostle, the great Apostle, Peter? I'm sorry, but I just cannot conceive of Paul doing such a thing! I just can't bring myself to believe that Paul would have snubbed Peter!

By the way, here is a very important side note: We can tell from Romans 1:13 that the church at Rome consisted mostly of Gentiles. You may remember what Paul had said to the Saints in the province of Galatia regarding the work of Peter and himself. He said how that God had sent Peter to work among "the circumcision" (the Jews) and Paul to the "uncircumcised" (Gentiles-See Galatians 2: 7-10; 2 Corinthians 10:15-16). In light of this fact, you may also recall how that Paul made it a point to not go where other men had gone in preaching the gospel. Again, he said to this very church at Rome: "And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man's foundation" (Romans 15:20 - See also 2 Corinthians 10:15-16). In light of these two passages, I believe one can see, that if Peter was in Rome, it would have put Paul in a bad light for him to say to the Disciples at Rome "that he desired to preach the gospel to them at Rome," if the Apostle Peter was already there? Personally, beloved, I just cannot conceive of such a thing! Paul, while imprisoned in Rome, wrote several of his Epistles such as: Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon. And once again, in none of these Epistles does he ever mention Peter as being there in Rome. Even in his final letter, which he wrote from Rome, to his son in the faith, Timothy (approx. A.D. 66-67), never once does he mention Peter. In that letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:9-11, 21), Paul, now realizing that the time of his death was fast approaching, he said that only Luke was with him at that point. And so he urges Timothy to come to visit him soon, for he knew that his time had come. But once again, he never mentions the Apostle Peter as being in Rome. Folks, I must say that I just find that simply remarkable! And so, dear friends, for these several reasons, I am persuaded that Peter did not write his Epistle from Rome. According to what information we have in the scriptures, Jerusalem was still his home, and had been for years! And I believe that is the City that he calls, "Babylon!"

Every Shipmaster and Sailor Cried out "What City is Like the Great City" (Revelation 18:17-18)

Many Believers of today see this lament of the Shipmasters and Sailors, and all those who made their living by the sea, as a sure sign that it is the city of "Rome" that is "the Great City" that is the object of The Lord's Judgment in the Apocalypse. They reject the idea of this applying to the City of "Jerusalem," since she is not located on the sea. However, what they fail to remember is that the city of "Rome" is also not located on the sea! For example, history records: "Unlike the Greeks, who carried on an intense love affair with the sea throughout their history, the Romans considered the sea a mistress to be taken for granted, exploited when she was needed, and cast out of one's mind when she was not. You will find no epic voyages in Rome's history and literature such as the Greeks have… The Greek drew his life and livelihood from the sea, be he fisherman or seafaring trader. He worships Poseidon and Serapis. The Roman's roots were firmly embedded in the Earth, and the Lares and Penates were worshipped as gods of the fields and hearth…. After the period of expansion and conquest, the sea became for the Romans merely a facilitator of easy transportation, a conveyor belt on which provincial governors and armies traveled outbound and North African grain ships traveled inbound with a regularity like clockwork." (Rome and the Sea: The Role of the Mediterranean in the Development of a Mighty Empire).

David Chilton comments on vss. 17b-19: "The third group that mourns for the fallen City is made up of every shipmaster and everyone who sails anywhere and every sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea. They too weep over the loss of Jerusalem, because all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth. Obviously, investment in Israel's economy ceased to be profitable after A.D. 70, but it seems likely that the mourning of the "seafarers" points to the nations of the world (of which seafaring men would in any case be representatives). St. John has already spoken of the sea in relation to the Great City: the waters, over which the Harlot is straddled on the Beast, "are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues" (17:15). He has also listed three classes of people affected by the Harlot's destruction: "the kings of the earth," "the merchants of the Land," and "all who had ships at sea." These seem to correspond to the threefold designation of those who had been corrupted by the Harlot, given in verse 3: all the nations ... the kings of the earth .... the merchants of the Land "Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters" should have been instructed in the ways of the Lord, that they might call upon Him in their distress, that He might show them His Covenant mercy (Psalms 107:23-32). And, indeed, when Israel walked worthy of her calling, the whole world was enriched by her wealth: she had been "a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and truth" (Romans 2:19-20). When Israel was in fellowship with God and under His Spiritual and material blessing, the nations had come to her both for wisdom and for trade and commerce (Deuteronomy 28:12; 1 Kings 10:23-25). In apostasy, however, trade became a snare, a means of committing fornication with idolaters, and Israel corrupted not only her own children, but the nations of the world as well. She had arrogated to herself the honors of deity, so that the seafarers cried out: Who is like the Great City? (cf. the cry of the worshipers in 13:4: "Who is like the Beast?"). But because she had said in her heart, "I will ascend to heaven.... I will make myself like the Most High," Jerusalem was cast down to hell (Isaiah 14:13-15). In one hour she was laid waste, desolate, never again to be the Great City."

The Great City Which Reigns Over the Kings of the Earth Revelation 17:18

This is another of the passages cited in support of Rome as being "the great city" and "Mystery Babylon" of the Apocalypse. It reads:"And the woman whom you saw (the woman/harlot of vs.3-jg) is 'the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.'" Because of the great military and political power of the Roman Empire in John's day, some Believers of the 21st Century understand the interpreting angel to be speaking here of Rome as being "the great city" in this passage. And I will confess to you, that if one considers the angel's statement strictly from that perspective (i.e., military and political power), then, surely, the "Rome" view appears most persuasive, and especially if one observes it from our 21st Century, western mindset! However, the question then arises: Is this, in and of itself, sufficient enough reason for us to conclude that the angel is speaking of "Rome" in this passage? As we suggested at the outset of this thesis: Even though a view may, on its surface, sound or look convincing to us, before we accept that view as settled fact, we must measure it by the rule of God. In other words, it must be one that enjoys the support of Holy Writ! With that thought in mind, I would like to offer for your consideration, several passages from Yahweh's Old Testament and New Testament Inspired Writings, that I believe can greatly help us in reaching the right conclusion. And dear ones, as you read these passages, please do consider them from a First Century Hebrew perspective and not from our 21st Century mindset as "Gentile" Believers! I believe this to be very important if we are going to come away with the understanding our Father intended! It should also be remembered that all of the "Old" Testament passages used here, were penned hundreds of years before Rome became a world power; and in some cases, as far back as a thousand years prior to Roman rule.

(Psalms 48:1-5) "(1) Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain. (2) Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth is Mt. Zion (Jerusalem-jg) in the far north, the city of the great King. (3) God, in her palaces, has made Himself known as a stronghold. (4) For, lo, the kings (of the land-jg) assembled themselves, they passed by together. (5) They saw it, then they were amazed; they were terrified, they fled in alarm."

(Psalms 50:2) "Out of Zion (Jerusalem-jg) the perfection of beauty. God has shone."

(Zechariah 8:3) "Thus, says the Lord, 'I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain."

(Isaiah 2:2-3) "Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains (Zion/Jerusalem-jg), and will be raised above the hills; and all nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths. For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

(Psalms 89:26-27) "He will cry to Me, thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation. I also shall make him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth (the land-jg)."

(Lamentations 1:1) "How lonely sits the city (Jerusalem-jg) that was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a forced laborer."

(Revelation 1:5) "…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth…"

My dear friends, in light of the testimony of these seven passages, and from a theological perspective, and not a military or political perspective, I would simply like to offer this suggestion: First, please consider all the marvelous accolades attributed to the city of "Jerusalem" in this abbreviated form of the above passages:

1. Psalms 48:1-5: "The city of our God; His holy mountain; beautiful on elevation; Joy of the whole earth; City of the great king; the kings saw it and were amazed, they were terrified, they fled in alarm!

2. Psalms 50:2: "The perfection of beauty!"

3. Zechariah 8:3: "will be called the city of Truth; the holy mountain."

4. Isaiah 2:2-3: "The chief of the mountains; raised above the hills; law will go forth from Zion; the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

5. Psalms 89:26-27: "I will make Him (Jesus-jg) my firstborn; the ruler of the kings of the earth."

6. Lamentations 1:1: "She… was once great among the nations! She, who was once a princess among the provinces…"

7. Revelation 1:5: "Jesus Christ…the ruler of the kings of the earth."

And so, my dear friends, for just a moment, let's just suppose that you and I are First Century Followers of the Lord Jesus. And not only are we First Century Believers, but "Jewish" Believers and members of one of the seven churches of Asia. Of course, as Jewish Believers, we are also well-learned in the Old Covenant Writings and Prophecies! And we are quite familiar with the seven passages cited above and with all the beautiful and marvelous things said about her in the The Law, The Prophets, and The Psalms! Now, with all these things etched into our minds, just what City do you suppose would come to mind for us when we read the words, "the great city that reigns over the kings of the earth?" Would it be Rome or Jerusalem? Obviously, I will not pretend to answer for anyone other than myself, but as I consider all these marvelous words from the Psalms and the Prophets, and the lofty place of prominence, to which Yahweh had raised the City of Jerusalem, they leave no doubt in my mind that this is The Great City of which John speaks in Revelation 17:18. Moreover, I am further persuaded that to these First Century Saints, this image of Jerusalem (Mount Zion) being the very City of the Living God, the City of the Great King, and the Joy of the whole earth (land-jg), that it would have indeed been that city which the angel referenced in his declaration, "the great City which reigns over the kings of the earth!"

The Beast Turns on the Woman and Burns Her Up (Revelation 17:16-17)

In bringing this little study to a close, I offer the following additional thoughts in support of my view that it is "Jerusalem" that is "the great city," "Mother of Harlots," and "Mystery Babylon" of the Apocalypse: I find it most impressive when the angel says in Revelation 17:18, that this "great city" is also the "woman/harlot" of vs. 4, which I believe was "Jerusalem," who sat upon the "scarlet beast," which I believe was "Rome." And as the interpreting angel declares in verse 16, this is the same beast who would later turn on her, "make her desolate, eat her flesh, and burn her up with fire." This, of course, I believe, was accomplished in A.D. 70, according to God's purpose which is stated in vs. 17, which reads:"For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled." My dear friends, our Master declared, unequivocally, in His Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24:34, that this would take place during that First Century generation. He said: "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."

I want to express my appreciation to you for your time and consideration of these things I have offered as my conclusions to the message set forth in this marvelous Epistle! Even though there are many more things that could be said regarding this particular matter, I do believe these are sufficient in establishing the reasons for my conclusions. Thank you very much for your attention and interest. And may our Lord bless you richly with His very best.


Permission granted by the author, Jim Gunter, who may be contacted at: Jim and his wife Gloria have been Full Preterist Believers since 2002. The Holy Spirit has inspired Jim to write numerous articles as a freelancer to God's Praise, Honor and Glory. Those wishing to be placed on Jim's mailing list, may subscribe via his e-mail. All Scripture texts - unless otherwise indicated - are quoted from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE® (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Inserted explanations by the author are indicated as (-jg). This article may be printed in its entirety for personal study and free distribution, but never to be sold as Jesus Christ said, "The Kingdom of Heaven [He Himself] is at hand ... freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:7-8).

Editor's Note: For further contemplation: (1) When the Jewish people insisted to Pilate that Christ be crucified, they said, "His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matthew 27:25). Because of their rejection of Christ as their Saviour, the Jewish Nation has been divorced from Christ and is no longer His Chosen People (Matthew 23:37-38; Galatians 3:29) ... but exists as only a State. (2) When considering the fullest extent of "Theology" (the study about God), the conclusive evidential juxtaposition of [its] meaning is "JUDGMENT." (3) The un-understanding of the un-understood of First Century Relevance, has left modern-day Christians with little Spiritual Truth to stand upon; necessitating a premier premium towards "rightly dividing the Word of Truth." 2 Timothy 2:15.