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Who is the Whore of Babylon?

saint peters basilica, rome, papacy, pope

How often have we all heard ill-informed people claim that the “Whore of Babylon” mentioned in the book of Revelation is the Vatican / Holy Catholic Church? Let’s look in the Bible and find out for ourselves, rather than conjecture with our personal opinions.

A Great City

In order to find out who the Whore of Babylon is, Catholics should read the entire bible in context.  The Whore of Babylon is described in Revelation 17:18 as a “great city”:

The woman whom you saw represents the great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth.” 

Now we all have to ask ourselves if Vatican City has dominion over any kings of the earth today.  There aren’t that many kings around anymore, for one thing, and even if you transpose the word “president” for “king”, it’s laughable to say that the Vatican has dominion over any president or ruler of a country today, with all of the legalized abortion, homosexual so-called “marriage,” pornography, contraception, divorce and remarriage, etc., that is going on in most countries today.  And in countries that do have kings, like Saudi Arabia, certainly the Vatican has no dominion over Muslim countries.

So which “great city” is John talking about anyway?  The seven hills that the whore sits on with the seven Kings gives us a clue.  It cannot be Vatican City, because the Vatican does not sit on one of the seven hills of Rome, which are Aventine Hill, Caelian Hill, Capitoline Hill, Esquiline Hill, Palatine Hill, Quirinal Hill, and Viminal Hill.  Vatican Hill sits across the Tiber River from ancient Rome, and was a crucifixion site (where Peter was crucified upside down). It was not made part of the city of Rome until the ninth Century, well after John wrote the book of Revelation.  And since we know that five of the seven kings have already fallen in John’s time, one is alive and one is yet to come, the city had to exist in John’s time, first Century AD.  This is all confirmed by Revelation 1:1, which says:

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must happen soon. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John

“Soon” would NOT be centuries later, for sure, but would indicate imminent events.

So this means that the Whore of Babylon is a great city that had to have existed in the first century.  Which city might that be?  Revelation 11:8 gives us the answer:

Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which has the symbolic names “Sodom” and “Egypt,” where indeed their Lord was crucified.

Jerusalem, the city where Jesus was crucified, seems to be the great city, or the Whore of Babylon! But wait a minute – Isn’t Jerusalem the Holy City? How in the world could anyone say that Jerusalem is the Whore of Babylon?

For the record, Jerusalem also sits on seven hills, namely, Scopus, Nob, Mount of Corruption, Old Mount Zion, Ophel, Rock, and New Mount Zion. And at the time of John, Jerusalem did have a lot of power over many kings of the earth (because Jerusalem was the worldwide center for worship of God), as well as being an international center of commerce.

Jerusalem the Harlot

Let’s look elsewhere in the Bible, and in the words of our Protestant brothers and sisters, we will let Scripture interpret Scripture.  For example, in Isaiah 1, God is castigating Israel for its many sins, even referring to Israel as Sodom and Gomorrah in Isaiah 1:10:

Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom!  Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah!

In Revelation 11:8 previously mentioned above, we learned that the Whore, or great city, is allegorically called Sodom!  And in Isaiah 1:21 below, God calls Jerusalem a prostitute, which is another word for whore:

“How she has become a prostitute, the faithful city, so upright! Justice used to lodge within her, but now, murderers.”

Israel is also called a prostitute in Jeremiah 3:6:

The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: Do you see what rebellious Israel has done? She has gone up every high mountain, and under every green tree she has played the prostitute

Ezekiel 16:2 says that Jerusalem has abominations:

Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations

And these abominations are described by God as being like a prostitute in Ezekiel 16:26-30:

You served as a prostitute with the Egyptians, your big-membered neighbors, and multiplied your prostitutions to provoke me. Therefore I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your allotment, and delivered you over to the whim of your enemies, the Philistines, who were revolted by your depraved conduct. You also served as a prostitute for the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied. Even after serving as a prostitute for them, you were still not satisfied. You increased your prostitutions again, now going to Chaldea, the land of traders; but despite this, you were still not satisfied. How wild your lust!—oracle of the Lord GOD—that you did all these works of a shameless prostitute.

God considered Jerusalem to be one with Him, as a man marries a bride.  But Jerusalem and its people always seemed to going after pagan wives, worshiping false idols like the golden calf, and generally not being true to the covenant God had established with them during the time of Moses. And now, in John’s time, the leaders of Jerusalem were teaming up with pagan Rome (the beast) to not only kill the apostles and prophets, but also to murder the Messiah Himself.

Jesus  Condemns Jerusalem

Jesus Himself condemns Jerusalem in Matthew 23:29-38:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? 

Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Amen, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned, desolate.

Here we see Jesus foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem by pagan Rome in 70 AD.  Why?  Because they killed the prophets and stoned the ones sent to them.  This should sound familiar, because in Revelation 18:20, 24 we heard that

“Rejoice over her, heaven, you holy ones, apostles, and prophets. For God has judged your case against her.

“In her was found the blood of prophets and holy ones and all who have been slain on the earth.

Apostles and Prophets

So here we see in Revelation that the Whore of Babylon killed apostles and prophets.  Apostles were those that had actually been with Jesus, and prophets only existed up until the the death of John the Baptist, way before the Vatican was established. One trap that some fundamentalists fall into is their sincerely mistaken belief that the Catholic Church wasn’t started until Constantine came along in the 4th Century.  While that isn’t true (we have the writings from the early Church Fathers that confirm that the Catholic Church began with Peter’s commissioning), the following questions have to be asked:

“How can the Whore of Babylon be the Catholic Church, which was allegedly founded by Constantine centuries later, if the Whore had to be around in the first century when the last prophet was killed?”

and

“If the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon, exactly which apostles and prophets did the Catholic Church kill?

And who destroyed the Whore of Babylon?

Babylon, or pagan Rome, did, in 70 AD, with the destruction of Jerusalem.  Remember, Babylon (Rome) and its whore, (Jerusalem) teamed up to kill Christ. (In an ironic twist, everything that the High Priest Caiphas said would happen to Jerusalem if Christ lived (the destruction of the nation of Israel), did come to pass, precisely because they killed Christ!) Babylon is an apocalyptic code name for Rome, which symbolized sexual and immoral excess.  Revelation 17:16 says that the ten horns (symbolizing the ten rulers of pagan Rome) will destroy the whore by fire, which is exactly what the Romans did to Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Revelation 17:14 says that the Lamb will conquer them both.  The complete conquering of Rome by the Christians happened in the 4th Century of Catholicism, when Constantine became the first Christian emperor of Rome, and who stopped all of the religious persecutions of Christians with the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. And just as King David conquered pagan Jerusalem and turned it into God’s headquarters, just so, Jesus, David’s successor and the King of Kings, conquered pagan Rome and turned it into God’s headquarters, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 7:27.

Who is 666?

In numerology, each letter is assigned a value. In Greek, the language of the New Testament, the name Caesar Nero, the emperor alive at the time Revelation was written, adds up to 666.  Nero killed his own brother and mother, and was generally known as the most decadent of all the emperors of Rome. John was trying to give the Christians who were alive at the time hope, by telling them that Jesus would eventually triumph over wicked Jerusalem and pagan Rome. The stubborn Jews of that day, like the murderous Saul, were turning in Christians to the Roman authorities to be tortured and murdered. Thankfully, on his way to Damascus, Saul saw the light of Christ (“the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” Isaiah 9:2) and became the saintly Paul. But there was a price to be paid, as Nero not only killed Peter for preaching the truth, but also Paul, who died by being beheaded (he was a Roman citizen, and therefore escaped crucifixion).

Who is the Antichrist?

For the record, the word Antichrist appears nowhere in the book of Revelation! St. John does describe who the antichrist is in 1 John 2:22 – An antichrist is someone who denies that Jesus is the Messiah. For the record, no Pope has ever denied that Jesus is the Messiah. However, this reference does mean that today we do have many secular antichrists among us.