The meaning of the Mother Church Babylon pictured as riding upon the beast is that she has direct control of men as individuals, religiously, and here as directing the policies of civil government (v. 18). It has been characteristic of apostate Christianity to attempt a union of church and state, in order to consolidate religious control over public policy. In direct contrast, we see Jesus declaring that His “kingdom” is not “of this world” (John 18:36).
Beasts in Bible prophecy commonly represent political powers (Dan. 7:3–7, 17; 8:3, 5, 20, 21; Rev. 12:3; 13:1). The color of this beast may intimate that it is very evil, as the names of blasphemy with which it is covered indicate that it stands in opposition to God. Accordingly, the beast itself may be identified as Satan working through those political agencies, in all ages, that have submitted to his control.
The beast is full of “blasphemous names” (Mark 2:7; 7:2). In Rev. 13:1 the names are on the seven heads; here, they are scattered over the entire beast. These names indicate the character of the beast—it presumes to usurp the prerogative of Deity. That it is “full” of blasphemous names indicates that it is wholly devoted to this objective (Compare Isa. 14:13, 14; Jer. 50:29, 31; Dan. 7:8, 11, 20, 25; 11:36, 37.)
In certain respects this beast resembles the great red dragon of Revelation 12:3, and in others the leopardlike beast of Revelation 13:1, 2. The chief difference between the beast of ch. 13 and that of ch. 17 is that in the former, which is identified with the papacy, no distinction is made between the religious and the political aspects of papal power, whereas in the latter the two are distinct—the beast representing political power and the woman, religious power.
In Revelation chapter 17, Jesus depicts the church (the harlot) and state (the beast) as separate entities, though related. The woman is astride the beast, which signifies that the church is in control of the state.
In His service,
The contents of this article and website are not intended to be against any individual. There are many priests and faithful believers in Roman Catholicism who serve God to the best of their knowledge and are seen by God as His children. The information contained herein is directed only towards the Roman Catholic religio-political system which has reigned in varying degrees of power for nearly two millennia. This system has established an increasing number of doctrines and statements that directly go against the Bible.
It is our purpose to lay the clear Word of God before you, the truth-seeking reader, to decide for yourself what is truth and what is error. If you find anything here contrary to the Bible, do not accept it. But if you desire to seek for Truth as for hidden treasure, and find herein something of that quality and feel that the Holy Spirit is revealing Truth to you, please make all haste to accept it.
A closing message from BibleAsk:
Thank you for visiting BibleAsk – an online ministry dedicated to providing Bible based answers to your questions. If you enjoyed and agree with this answer, please like and share! If you don’t agree, please leave a comment below, and we’ll be sure to respond! If you have another question you would like to ask, please click here and someone from our team will personally answer it (don’t worry, your email address will never be shared). Check out our Bible Answers page to see just Bible verses answering thousands of questions. If you feel impressed to support this ministry, kindly visit our donate page to send a tax-deductible love gift to BibleAsk. Any donation size helps 🙂