Posted by: the watchmen | May 25, 2008

Antichrist,Babylon and the Papacy.

The following is an exract from ” The Approaching End of The Age” by Dr. Grattan Guiness. This work was regarded by prophetic scholars as the definitive work on the subject.

I,m delighted and blessed to be able to share with you this extract. While sadly this book is out of print, copies may be had from time to time at second hand book shops






THE SCOPE of this work, prevents our attempting to enter a detailed examination, of the symbols of the Apocalypse. The book itself, as we have Seen, interprets some of them, and other parts of Scripture interpret others. It would not be difficult to form a tolerably complete dictionary, of the meaning of the Apocalyptic symbols, by placing over-against each, passages of Scripture in which the same symbol is employed in contexts which indicate its meaning; or in historical narratives, ceremonial observances, or legal enactments, which throw light upon it. To search the Scriptures, is to find the solution of many a difficulty in this book, for it is more closely related to the rest of the Bible, than would by superficial readers be supposed.

We proceed, however, briefly to examine, two of the leading prophecies of the Revelation, a clear understanding of which, is of itself sufficient to determine its whole scope and character. They are two of the most important symbolisations in the entire series, they occupy several whole chapters, and are alluded to in others; they are closely related to each other, and one of them is divinely interpreted. This is the vision of BABYLON THE GREAT, in the seventeenth chapter of the book, a prophecy which by its synchronical connection with almost all the other predictions of the Apocalypse, furnishes a most valuable clue to the meaning and application of the whole series of visions. This prophecy has besides a solemn practical Importance, rendering it peculiarly needful that it should be rightly interpreted..

Immediately prior to the fall of Babylon, described in the 18th chapter of Revelation, a voice from heaven cries, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Is it not all-important that Christian people, should be very clear, as to the system thus solemnly denounced by a voice from heaven? And similarly, immediately after the fall of Babylon, “a great voice as of much people in heaven,” is heard saying, with reference to it, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, Which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.” If this symbol represents an evil so gigantic, that heaven itself is moved to psalms of praise, on the occasion of its overthrow, should not the church on earth be anxious to recognise it, and to avoid all connection with it?

The deep depravity attributed to “Babylon the Great,” the peculiarly solemn adjuration to God s people to come out of her, and the utter and awful destruction denounced against her, all combine to attach great practical importance to the inquiry, what system is intended by this symbol?

A perusal of the 17th and 18th. chapters of the Book of Revelation, shows that “Babylon the – Great” represents a system which should last long, exert a subtle and extensive influence, and be guilty of exceeding iniquity and cruelty. This system must still be in existence, seeing its destruction takes place, simultaneously with “the marriage of the Lamb,” an event which we know to be, still future; and seeing also that up to the moment of its destruction, or very nearly so, children of God will be found, more or less closely connected with it, so that a need will exist, for the urgent call, “Come out of her, my people.”

This system is prefigured as a cruelly persecuting one, as one that would “shed the blood of saints, and martyrs of Jesus,” one on whom the Lord God would avenge the blood of his servants.” The Lord Jesus Christ, who loves his church, foreseeing the existence and career of this terrible system, forewarned, and thus fore-armed her by this prophecy. He furnishes her with abundant marks whereby the foe may be recognised, and solemnly warns her against making any truce or compromise, while He stimulates and encourages her for the long and bitter conflict, by a view of the final result. He would have his people in no perplexity or doubt on so momentous a question, so He has made, this prediction peculiarly clear; has placed it in marked and intentional contrast with another prophecy, which makes its meaning still clearer; and He has added besides, an explanation which leaves no room for the candid student to err.

Let the reader note the contrasted features of the two symbolic prefigurations.



“There came one of the “There came unto me one seven angels which had the of the seven angels which had seven vials, and talked with the seven vials full of the me, saying, Come hither; I seven last plagues, and talked will show unto thee the judg- with me, saying, Come hither, ment of THE GREAT WHORE I will show thee THE BRIDE, that sitteth upon many the Lamb s wife. waters.

“So he carried me away “And he carried me away in in the spirit into the wilder- the spirit to a great and high ness: and I saw a woman sit mountain, and showed me,” upon a scarlet coloured beast, (the bride, the Lamb s wife, full of names of blasphemy, under another symbol).(#Rev 21) having seven heads and ten horns.

“And the woman was ar- “To her was granted that rayed in purple. and scarlet she should be arrayed in fine colour, and decked with gold linen, clean and white: for the and precious stones and fine linen is the righteousness pearls, having a golden cup of saints” (#Rev 19:8). in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her This Bride is described as fornication. And upon her “THE HOLY JERUSALEM, forehead was a name writ- descending out of heaven from ten, Mystery, BABYLON THE God, having the glory of God: GREAT, the mother of harlots and her light like unto a stone and abominations of the earth. most precious” (#Rev 21).

“And I saw the woman The dragon “persecuted the drunken with the blood of the woman,” and “the dragon saints, and with the blood of was wrath with the woman, the martyrs of Jesus” and went to make war with (#Rev 17:1-6). the remnant of her seed,
which keep the commandments of God
and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”
(#Rev 12:13-17).

As to Babylon, John adds, “when I saw, her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman. . . . The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. The waters, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. . . . And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (#Rev 17:7).

These prophecies present, two broadly contrasted women, identified with two broadly contrasted cities, one reality being in each case, doubly represented, as a woman, and as a city; the harlot and Babylon are one; the bride and the heavenly Jerusalem are one.

It is evident that the true interpretation of either of these double prefigurations, must afford a clue to the true interpretation of the other.

The two women are contrasted in every particular that is mentioned about them; the one is pure as purity itself “made ready” and fit for heaven s unsullied holiness: the other, foul as corruption could make her, fit only for the fires of destruction.

The one belongs to the Lamb, who loves her as the bridegroom loves the bride; the other is associated with a wild beast, and with the kings of the earth, who ultimately hate and destroy her.

The one is clothed with fine linen, and in another place is said to be clothed with the sun, and crowned with a coronet of stars; that is, robed in Divine righteousness, and resplendent with heavenly glory; the other, is attired in scarlet and gold, in jewels and pearls, gorgeous indeed but with earthly splendour only.

The one is represented as a chaste virgin, espoused to Christ, the other is mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.

The one is persecuted, pressed hard by the dragon, driven into the wilderness, and well-nigh overwhelmed; the other is drunken with martyr blood, and seated on a beast which has received its power from the persecuting dragon.

The one sojourns in solitude in the wilderness, the other reigns “in the wilderness” over peoples and nations and kindreds and tongues.

The one goes in with the Lamb to the marriage supper, amid. the glad hallelujahs of heaven; the other is stripped, insulted, torn, and destroyed, by her guilty paramours.

We lose sight of the bride, amid the effulgence of heavenly glory and joy, and of the harlot amid the gloom and darkness, of the smoke that “rose up for ever and ever.”

It is impossible to find in Scripture, a contrast more marked; and the conclusion is irresistible, that whatever the one may represent, the other must prefigure its opposite. They are not two disconnected visions, but a pair-a pair associated, not by likeness, but by contrast.

Now Scripture leaves us in no doubt, as to the signification of the emblematic bride, the Lamb s wife, the heavenly Jerusalem. We read, “Husband, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having, spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” The purpose of Christ s love, as regards his blood-bought church, is, that she should be with Him, and be one with Him for ever; that she should behold and share his glory, being perfectly conformed to his image. Here in prophetic vision, we see this blessed design accomplished, and the complete and perfectly sanctified church, clad in spotless robes of righteousness, brought to the marriage supper of the Lamb. We see her persecuted like her Lord, and like her Lord and with her Lord, glorified. Beyond all question, the New Jerusalem bride represents the true church of Christ.

What then must the contrasted symbol, the Babylonian harlot represent? Surely some false and apostate church, some church which, while professing to belong to Christ, is in reality given up to fellowship with the world, and linked in closest union, with the kings of the earth; a worldly church, which has left her first love, forgotten her heavenly calling, sunk into carnality and sin, and proved shamelessly and glaringly faithless to her Lord.

Be it observed, that these symbols, a woman and a city, prefigure definite systems, corporate bodies, not merely a multitude of similar, but disconnected individuals. The tares of a wheat- field, the bad fish in the net, may represent such; but here we have neither true Christians nor worldly professors, as individuals, but two corporations, two definite bodies. The true church of Christ is a body; its members are united in the closest union to their Head and to each other ; one life animates them: “because I live, ye shall live also;” one spirit dwells in them, they are one habitation of God. The link that unites them is however a spiritual one; the body, is consequently invisible as such. A false church can have no such spiritual link. The bond that unites it must therefore be carnal, outward, visible; the church represented by Babylon, must be a visible church, an earthly corporation, and as such capable of being discerned and recognised. Nor can the symbol comprise all false and faithless churches to the harlot is expressly assigned a local connection-the woman and the city are one-if we can discover the name of the city, we shall be able to identify the church intended.

The last words of the angel to John, seem to leave no possibility of mistake as to the city. “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth . . . and the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” What city was that? There was but one great city, which in John s day reigned aver the kings of the earth. It was ROME; and Rome is the only city which was great then, has been great, in one way or other, ever since, and is so still. And Rome was seated on seven hills, “the seven mountains on which the woman sitteth.” Her common name with the classic writers of St. John s age, is “the seven hilled city ;” an annual festival used to be held in honour of the “seven hilled city;” every Latin poet of note during a period of five hundred years, alludes to Rome s seven hills; their names were the Palatine, the Quirinal, the Aventine, the Caelian, the Viminal, the Esquiline, and the Janiculum hills. The medals and coins of the day, represent Rome as a woman sitting on seven hills; and her titles show with sufficient clearness, how thoroughly she reigned. She was styled “the royal Rome ” “the mistress of the world ;” “the queen of nations. Her sway was all but universal. She was the metropolis of that fourth great empire which Daniel had foretold would break in pieces and subdue all things, “dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly;” and at the time of the Apocalyptic visions, her power was at its height. Rome, and no other city can be intended here; the woman is in some way identified with Rome. We previously saw that she must represent a church, now we know what church. The harlot is the Church of Rome; for simple minds there seems no escape from this conclusion. And it is a singular and notable fact, that no other city but Rome, has ever given its name to a church, which has embraced many kindreds and nations. Many countries have done so, and even individuals; but as far as we are aware, no other city. We have the Greek Church, the Armenian and the Coptic Churches, the Lutheran Church, the Protestant Churches of various countries, the English Church, the Scotch Church, etc.; but the papal system is styled, not so much the Latin Church, as the CHURCH OF ROME. “The woman which thou sawest is that great city” (not empire or country) “which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”

The question, however, naturally suggests itself, If the woman be identified in some way with ROME, why is her brow emblazoned with the name of BABYLON? The answer is evident; the Apocalypse is a book of mysteries; things are represented by signs; realities are veiled; and it would. have been altogether inconsistent with the whole style of this prophecy to have written ROME on the harlot s brow. The woman is a figure of a church, a corrupt idolatrous church; that is, the symbol seen by John was suggestive of something widely different from itself; so the name with which that symbol was stamped, was also suggestive of something widely different from itself, though mysteriously similar. The harlot is “Mystery, Babylon the Great.” That the literal Babylon was not intended, is perfectly clear, since that city was neither built on seven hills, nor reigning over the kings of the earth, in John s day. But that the literal Babylon was a most appropriate symbol for Rome, is equally evident. Analogies of the most remarkable kind, geographical, historical, and moral, existed, which fully account for the selection. Both were situated in the midst of vast plains, both largely built of brick made out of their own soil, the one bad been Queen of the East, the other was then Queen of the West, Babylon of old had called herself “the golden city,” “the beauty of the Chaldees excellency,” and claimed eternity as well as universal supremacy. (Isa. xiv. 4-7.) Rome similarly styled herself “the eternal city,” “the mistress of the world.” But especially, both had been employed by God, as scourges for the guilty city of Jerusalem and people of Israel; and to each in its turn, had the sacred vessels of the Temple been carried as spoil; Belshazzar abused them at his banquet, and Titus engraved them on his arch.

Even had the plan of the Apocalypse not demanded it, circumstances would have rendered it needful, for St. John to use a mysterious designation, in speaking as he here does of Rome. It would not have been safe in the days of Nero and Domitian, to expose the corruption, and predict the downfall and utter overthrow of their capital. Persecution was already bitter enough, as St. John was experiencing in Patmos; and reserve on such a subject was evidently needful. But in spite of reserve and mystery, the true meaning of this symbolic name “Babylon,” was early perceived by the Christians, and divined even by their enemies. Ireneus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John himself, says, that “Babylon” in the Apocalypse signifies Rome; and Tertullian says, “names are employed by us as signs, Samaria is a sign of idolatry Babylon is a figure of the Roman city, mighty, proud of its sway, and fiercely persecuting the saints.” So Jerome and others, in unbroken sequence, to the present day. When accused by their heathen Roman adversaries of holding sacred, predictions of the downfall of Rome, the early Christians never denied the charge, but merely replied, that they were far from desiring that downfall, since, little as Rome favoured Christianity, the Antichrist whom they expected immediately to succeed, would do so still less.

BABYLON, then, in this prophecy means ROME; even Roman Catholic writers are constrained to admit this. Bellarmine and Bossuet do not attempt to deny that these predictions concern Rome. They admit it freely, but assert that they refer to Rome as a heathen city merely, and not as a Christian church; and they maintain that the prophecy of the fall of Babylon, was fulfilled in the destruction of Rome, by the Goths, m the fifth century. “Babylon,” say they, is Rome Pagan, not Rome Papal; and they defend this position with considerable skill, and some show of reason. This interpretation originated with Bossuet in the 16th century; till that time it had never been supposed by any expositor, that the fall of Rome under Alaric, exhausted the prediction about the fall of Babylon. But as soon as the Protestant application of this prophecy to the Church of Rome, was felt to be a tremendous weapon against that church, its advocates were driven in self-defence, to find some interpretation which should turn its edge.

It must not be supposed, however, that the interpretation now called Protestant, originated out of the party feeling and antagonism produced by the Reformation. On the contrary, the view that Babylon meant the Church of Rome, was held long prior to the Reformation, and may be said, to some extent, to have produced it. As soon as the Church of Rome began to put forth her unscriptural claims, and to teach authoritatively her unscriptural doctrines, so soon did the faithful begin to recognise her, as the predicted Babylon of the Apocalypse. The earliest fathers of the church, who lived while Rome was Pagan, could not, of course, hold such a view.



  1. Mystery Babylon is a CITY (Re.18:10, Re.18:16, Re.18:18-19). It is the CITY “where also our Lord was crucified” (Re.11:8, Heb.13:12).

    The mystery of Babylon the great is that it is the holy city Jerusalem which will play a dual role once the false prophet sits in the temple of God showing himself that he is God (2 Thess.2:4).

    The holy city Jerusalem is the pleasant land (Dan.8:9); it is the faithful city which has become an harlot (Isa.1:21),

    There is a curse on Jerusalem in this earth; in the new earth there will be no more curse (Re.22:3). Because there is a curse, Jerusalem will play a dual role – one: the holy city Jerusalem, and, secondly, that great city Babylon (Re.18:10).

    Also note at Re.21:10 that in the new earth the holy city Jerusalem’s name is complete, “that great city, the holy Jerusalem”.

    Revelation17:9 states that the seven heads (Re.17:3) on the scarlet colored beast are seven mountain on which the woman sits. The seven continents of the earth are the seven mountains. In the beginning, the waters of the earth covered the mountains (Ps.104:6). Today we live upon that portion of the mountains protruding from the waters.

    The many waters Babylon sits upon represents peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (Re.17:15). Therefore, Babylon’s power will be worldwide and will involve all of its people.

    The beast of Revelation 13:11 (the false prophet) is seen as the scarlet colored beast once his sits in that great city Babylon.

    The false prophet worships a god his fathers knew not (Dan.11:38), a god of forces, that great city Babylon, and honors her with riches (Re.17:4, Re.18:16).

    The horns/kings on the scarlet colored beast’s head (Re.17:16-18) play their role upon the world scene as they come against the great city Babylon and fight the battle of Armageddon.

    Patricia (©) Bible Prophecy on the Web
    Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

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