Revelation 17:7-18

The Ten Kings are Explained

7 The angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 

Rev 17:7
I will tell you the mystery – the Angel introduces the mystery described in Daniel 12:9.

8 The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss, and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, how that he was, and is not, and will come. 

Rev 17:8
“was and is not” – this beast is the power of Satan, the power of the lie, through the Bishop of Rome. Jesus Christ established the true teachings of the Church during a literal period of three and a half years (42 months). The beast, or “antichrist,” meaning “substitute Christ,” established false teachings over a period of 42 months, which are really 1278 years.

come up out of the abyss – the beast was described as coming from the sea in Rev 13:1, and here it is described as coming out of the abyss, the bottomless pit, see also Rev 9:2.

whose names have not been written in the book of life – see also Rev 13:8, these are those who place the teachings of the beast above Christ.

will wonder when they see the beast – see also Rev 13:3-4, the people of this world were amazed by the beast, who gained great power, and no one could make war with him.

9 Here is the mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. 

Rev 17:9
here is the mind which has wisdom – the fear of God is the beginning of this wisdom (Prov 9:10). Those who practice the lawless deeds of the beast, cannot understand who the beast is. Those who fear God, and keep His commandments, will understand who the beast, “the lawless one,” is.

the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits – the woman who committed “fornication with the kings of the earth” gained her power by sitting on top of worldly power, the kingdoms of this world who were against the saints.

10 They are seven kings. Five have fallen, the one is, the other is not yet come. When he comes, he must continue a little while. 

Rev 17:10
and they are seven kings – the earliest manuscripts support the translation “they are seven kings.” Later manuscripts, like that used to translate the King James version, have the reading “there are seven kings.” The King James Version led us to believe that the seven mountains were the seven hills of Rome. However, this is not correct. There may be a comparison to the seven hills of Rome, but the mountains are seven kings, which we shall describe.

five have fallen – from John’s time, looking backwards, there were five kingdoms against the saints: Greece (the leopard), Persia (the bear), Babylon (the lion), Assyria and Egypt.

one is – Rome (the dragon).

the other is yet to come – which is described in verse 12, “ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom” – the seventh kingdom is the conglomeration of these ten kings.

he must remain a little while – described in verse 12 as “one hour.”

11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goes to destruction. 

Rev 17:11
the beast is also…eighth – the Greek lacks the definite article “the” eighth because the kingdom of the beast was not consecutive to, but concurrent with the seventh kingdom, as described in verse 17.

and is one of the seven – the number of the beast, as we mentioned in Rev 13:18, is the Latin (Lateinos), “the people of the ruler to come.” This representative of the beast was the Bishop of Rome.

he goes to destruction – the figurative beast, “who was and is not” will be thrown into the lake of fire in Rev 19:20.

12 The ten horns that you saw are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour. 

Rev 17:12
the ten horns – these were described and discussed at Daniel 7:24, as coming out of the sixth kingdom (Rome). These are the Ten Europeans states that came out of the fallen Rome. These Ten States were first listed by John Napier (who discovered logarithms) as Spain, France, Lombardy, England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Italy, and the exarchate of Ravenna. Isaac Newton (who proposed the law of gravity), listed the names of the Ten States that immediately came out from the Empire. Other interpreters have listed the names of the states according to differing time periods; European peoples with slightly different boundaries.

John Napier’s view is likely more accurate, as these must be the states that continue until the kingdom of God is re-established, see Daniel 2:44.

But perhaps the strongest representation was made by Machiavelli, who listed the Ten States with no view of explaining this prophecy. We discussed his listing at Daniel 7:7.

as kings with the beast – the Apostle John’s description of the religious/political relationship of the Beast (the Pope) with the Ten European states is astounding.

for one hour – the Book of Revelation describes four “hours,” of about 500 years, representing 1/12 of the human clock of 6,000 years, and a “half an hour” of silence in heaven.

The first hour is this one. John said that Ten Kings reigned with the beast as for “one hour.” This hour began with the East-West Schism of 1054, and ended in the Reformation of the 16th Century. This “hour” was described three times in Chapter 18: “in one hour your judgment has come!”; “in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste”; “in one hour she has been laid waste.”

After the East-West Schism of 1054, only Ten States remained with the Pope. This included the Bohemians, in the North-West part of Hungary, who first broke free from the Papacy in 1471. But the actual political power of Rome did not end until the 16th Century.

The Pope gave power to these Kings of Europe, even appointing them as Kings.

In Revelation 11, we are told that 1/10 of the Great City died in the next hour. These were the religious wars that plagued Europe after the Reformation.

But in Revelation 8:1, we are told that there was “silence in heaven for a half an hour. This was the silence of the martyrs from the end of the Reformation wars in 1648, until the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit after 1900.

The third hour is “the Hour of God’s Judgment,” announced in Revelation 14:6, and the last hour is the “hour to reap – the harvest” in Revelation 14:15.

13 These have one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 

Rev 17:13
these have one purpose – better translated as “these have one mind [γνώμην]” (NKJV) meaning they have one mind to give their authority to the beast

14 These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings. They also will overcome who are with him, called and chosen and faithful.” 

Rev 17:14
they will wage war against the Lamb – as described in Chapter 11, against the saints.

He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords – this title was first given to Nebuchadnezzar, the beast in Daniel 2:37. Now it is given to Christ. Finally, it will be given to God at Christ’s appearing, as described in 1 Tim 6:14-15; compare to Titus 2:13. The “rule of Christ” has begun, and the 1,000 year rule of the Martyrs with Christ.

15 He said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. 

Rev 17:15
the waters which you saw…are nations… – see verse 1.

16 The ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the prostitute, and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh, and will burn her utterly with fire. 

Rev 17:16
these will hate the harlot – this is really the climax of the passage, the judgment of the Great Harlot by the European states who turned against the power of the Pope in the Reformation. But Daniel told us the beast would “subdue three kings” (Dan 7:24); these are the Latin states of Italy, France and Spain.

and make her desolate and naked – the Kings help to expose the falsity of this religion, and the harlot becomes as “naked.”

they will eat her flesh – that is to punish her, to rebuke her, and end her power over the saints. See also Revelation 19:18, “eat the flesh of Kings.”

and burn her with fire – as required by the Law, “if a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute . . . she must be burned with fire” (Leviticus 21:9).

17 For God has put in their hearts to do what he has in mind, and to come to unity of mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished. 

Rev 17:17
God has put it in their hearts – God not only “allows” the Kings of the earth to fall into deception, He actually “puts it in their hearts” (Proverbs 21:1), because they do not love the truth. See also 2 Thess 2:11, “God will send them a strong delusion.”

18 The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”

Rev 17:18
The Woman whom you saw is the Great City – the great City is the kingdom of the beast, the false “kingdom of heaven” comprised of those who submit to the teachings of the beast.