It would be helpful if our readers would first study our article on Daniel and the Little Horn before moving on to any section of Revelation.

The Woman In the Wilderness -- Revelation Chapter 12 and 17.

The Apostasy of the Church is clearly predicted in the Book of Revelation. Notice in Chapters twelve we are introduced to a beautiful and holy woman. She is characterized by the fact that she keeps the Commandments of GOD and the Testimony of Jesus Christ, thus she walks in truth. Who is she? She is the ‘Lady’ that John wrote of in his epistles, whose children walked in the truth. She is the true Church of Jesus Christ [2nd John 1:1,4]. The whole imagery of this woman is taken from Genesis 37:9, as a picture of spiritual Israel, the true Church of God. Not the physical nation of Israel who rejects Jesus Christ, but Spiritual Israel, those who are the seed of Abraham by faith, and Jew’s inwardly [Roman 2:29, 4:16]. This woman is no other than the Bride of Christ, his Church. This interpretation has been consistently through out the history of the Church. Notice the following quotes:

Hippolytus [170-236AD] “By the woman then clothed with the sun,” he meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Father’s word, whose brightness is above the sun. And by the “moon under her feet” he referred to her being adorned, like the moon, with heavenly glory. And the words, “upon her head a crown of twelve stars,” refer to the twelve apostles by whom the Church was founded.” – Hippolytus Treatise on Christ and AntiChrist.

Victorinus [250AD] – “The woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, and wearing a crown of twelve stars upon her head, and travailing in her pains, is the ancient Church” Commentary on the Apocalypse

Methodius [312AD] – “he woman who appeared in heaven clothed with the sun, and crowned with twelve stars, and having the moon for her footstool, and being with child, and travailing in birth, is certainly, according to the accurate interpretation, our mother... the Church whose children shall come to her with all speed” Banquet of the Ten Virgins.

Geneva Bible [1599] “The woman is... a type of the true holy Church”

The Red Dragon.

We are told that the woman is persecuted by the red dragon, who attempted to devour Christ when he was born. Who is the red dragon? It is Satan [Revelation 12:9]. But what did Satan use in his attempt to destroy Christ at his birth? A dragon is a beast, and we know that a beast represents a Kingdom [Daniel 7:23]. What Kingdom did Satan use? He used the Government of the Roman Empire through King Herod in his attempt to murder Christ as soon as he was born [Matthew 2:16]. It was also, as you remember, Roman soldiers who nailed him to the cross and pierced his side.  Thus the dragon is the pagan Roman Emperor. This is also the historic interpretation of the early Church.

Victorinus [250AD] “Now, that he says that this dragon was of a red color — that is, of a purple color — the result of his work gave him such a color. For from the beginning (as the Lord says) he was a murderer; and he has oppressed the whole of the human race, not so much by the obligation of death, as, moreover, by the various forms of destruction and fatal mischiefs. His seven heads were the seven kings of the Romans, of whom also is Antichrist, as we have said above.” – Commentary on the Apocalypse.

Now notice the ten horns of the dragon [Revelation 12:3]. They are not crowned in this chapter, but they are wearing their crowns in the next [Revelation 13:1]. What does this signify? Remember the ten horns are the ten divisions of Rome when it was divided in 476 AD. Thus the dragon of chapter twelve represents to us the persecutions of the Roman Government against the Church from the birth of Christ until Rome was divided. Revelation 13 on the other hand tells us of the persecutions after Rome fell and the ‘little horn’ rose. Which we have already studied in Daniel chapter seven. Right now we want to focus on this woman.

Where does this woman flee?

According to Scriptures the woman flees into the wilderness [Revelation 12:6, 14] where she has a place prepared by God, and so it was. The early church was heavily persecuted by the Roman Empire, thousands and thousands of them were slaughtered for their faith in Christ. Christians were forced to meet in the wilderness places, in caves and in mountains. Some met in the catacombs. Some of the most severe persecutions of the first century came under the hand of Emperor Nero. He was the Emperor who had the Apostle Paul beheaded. These persecutions continued until about 300 AD.

The Lady Becomes A Harlot.

Now let us do two things. Let us travel in time about five centuries from the time of Nero to the time that the Roman Empire was divided and the ten horns were in power [Revelation 17:12] and while there let’s travel to the wilderness where our Lady did flee. How shall we do this? The Spirit shall take us there through the writings of John, found in Revelation Chapter Seventeen. And here we read of her:

“So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. [Revelation 17:3-5].”

What a shocking change five centuries have made upon our lady! She has lost her celestial beauty that God adorned her with, and she has draped herself with the garb of the world. She has lost her purity and she has become a harlot. And what might be most startling is the fact that she is no longer fleeing from the dragon, but rather she has mounted the beast and now holds the reigns of the Empire.

How can a Church become a harlot? She must unite herself with another in an unlawful union. Whom has she united with? The Bible tells us:

“ With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”– Revelation 17:2.

The beautiful bride has been united in fornication with the Kings of the earth. There has been an ungodly union between the Roman Government, which once persecuted her and the Church of GOD! Thus it is by her union with the State, that this Church has made herself a harlot.

Let us add this note here because I think it is needed. Though the Bible predicted so great an apostasy that much of professed Christendom would become a part of this false religious system, it also promises us that God would reserve a remnant for himself [Revelation 12:17]. The visible Church that most of the world recognizes as Christianity may have become a harlot, but God’s invisible Church, his faithful bride, has not left the world. She is still in the wilderness. Her children usually are not great political leaders nor does the world follow after them. But they each have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and they are recognized by their faith in Christ and their obedience to the word of God [Revelation 14:12].

But which Church is it that is here called “Babylon”? Where is her location?
“And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. And here is the mind which hath wisdom.... The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” Revelation 17:18,9.

Which city reigned over the kings of the earth in John’s day? It was Rome, the City of Seven Hills. But why is Rome called Babylon? The early Church used the term Babylon as a code word for Rome. And from the earliest time this woman has been recognized as Rome.

Tertullian (155–222) “So, again, Babylon, in our own John, is a figure of the city Rome, as being equally great and proud of her sway, and triumphant over the saints.” – Tertulian Answer to the Jews Chapter 9
“[Rome] That powerful state which presides over the seven mountains and very many waters, has merited from the Lord the appellation of a prostitute.” – Tertulian Book 2 Chapter 12

Hippolytus [170-236] “Tell me, blessed John, apostle and disciple of the Lord, what didst thou see and hear concerning Babylon? Arise, and speak; for it sent thee also into banishment [Rome Banished John]. “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters; with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”  – Treatise on Christ and AntiChrist.

Victorinus [250AD]“The seven heads are the seven hills, on which the woman sitteth. That is, the city of Rome”. – Commentary on the Apocalypse

Eusebius [325AD] “And Peter makes mention of Mark in his first epistle which they say that he wrote in Rome itself, as is indicated by him, when he calls the city, by a figure, Babylon” – Church History Eusebius Book 2 Chapter 15.

St. Jerome [382AD] “Read the apocalypse of John, and consider what is sung therein of the woman arrayed in purple, and of the blasphemy written upon her brow, of the seven mountains, of the many waters, and of the end of Babylon. “Come out of her, my people,” so the Lord says, “that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” It is true [of] that Rome...” – Letters of St. Jerome, letter 46.

Augustine [425AD] “Rome herself is like a second Babylon..... To be brief, the city of Rome was rounded, like another Babylon, and as it were the daughter of the former Babylon, ” – Augustine The City Of GOD Book 18, Chapter 2, 22

When did the Church unite to the Roman State? In 312 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine professed to be a Christian. He had previously been a pagan devoted to the worship of the sun-god Mithra. In AD 313, Constantine, in the Edict of Milan, ordered that all persecution of Christians to be stopped. He also ordered all property taken from Christians during the preceding years of persecution to be returned. Constantine then began to steadily increase the authority of the Roman Bishop. (see the Encyclopedia Britannica, Edict of Milan)

Then in 330 AD Emperor Constantine moved his capital to Constantinople, and for all practical purposes he turned over the city of Rome to the Roman Pontiff. Who continued to grow in power and pride.
In March of 533 AD Justinian proclaimed the Pope to be the “Head of All Churches” and gave him the authority to ‘correct heretics’. In his famous letter to John the Archbishop of Rome Justinian declared

“We do not suffer that anything which is mooted, however clear and unquestionable, pertaining to the state of the churches, should fail to be made known to Your Holiness, as being THE HEAD OF ALL THE CHURCHES. For as we have said before we are zealous for the increase of the honor and authority of your see in all respects”. (Code of Justinian, lib.1 tit. 1; as given by R.F. Littledale in the Peterine Claims, Pg. 293.)

As we have before seen, in 538AD Vigilius was given the papal chair by the Emperor and was provided military protection by Belisarius. By the 800 AD the Papacy, by all practical purposes, had become the Emperor of the west. As noted in the Encarta Encylopedia.

“The pope (Leo III) thus broke the ties with Constantinople and created a new western empire by crowning Charlemagne emperor of the Romans on Christmas Day, 800… . Leo and his successors definitely benefited from gaining temporal authority over central Italy, in the region known as the Papal States. The coronation also symbolically promoted both the papacy and the Frankish kings to a level of authority comparable only to that of the Byzantine emperor. . When Leo's successor seized an opportunity to continue the tradition by crowning Charlemagne's son Louis I in 817, the precedent of papal coronation was established. By granting the title of emperor, the papacy gained a huge influence over all subsequent imperial candidates, ensuring the pope's role in legitimizing western emperors for centuries to come.” (Encarta Encyclopedia --- The Holy Roman Empire).

The Papacy’s “Holy Roman” Empire was established on Christmas Day 800AD, and it endured for one thousand years. It was officially dissolved in 1806 AD by Emperor Francis II. For most of its duration it was comprised of the following seven states: Germany, Switzerland,  France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, and of course Italy.

The Wine of Her Fornication.

What is in the cup of the harlot? It is the wine of her fornication, the mingled drink of Babylon. During his reign, Emperor Constantine worked hard to keep the Empire united by making the Christian religion more acceptable to the pagans. The Church, willing to compromise with the Emperor, accepted many pagan customs and doctrines, especially from the sun worshipers. Here is a quote from the Roman Catholic, Cardinal Newman:

“We are told by Eusebius, that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments, to which they had been accustomed in their own....... The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees, incense, lamps and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water, asylums; holy days and seasons [as in Christmas and Easter], use of calendars, processions, blessings on the field, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure (shaving of the head), the ring in marriage, turning to the east, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the church.” - Cardinal Newman, Development of Christian Doctrine, pages 272, 273.

Doctrines like purgatory, prayers for the dead, the veneration of images, infant baptism, the sanctity of Sunday, and a host of other false doctrines were eventually adopted by the Roman Church. Thus in Rome the doctrines of Christianity and Paganism were blended together forming the deadly wine of the Harlot [Revelation 17:4].

Decked With Gold and Precious Stones and Pearls
The Harlot is shown to be very rich. Some may ask: Is the Roman Catholic Church rich? It is by far the wealthiest institution on earth. As you have probably seen on the news, she has paid out Billions of dollars in attempts at settling the sex abuse scandals thus far and they have Trillions more.  For instance, the value of their sculptures by such masters as Michelangelo, along with paintings by the world's greatest artists, and countless other art treasures and ancient documents which Rome possesses are absolutely beyond calculation.

How did she obtain her riches? Most of Rome's wealth has been acquired through the sale of salvation [dispensations and indulgences]. Untold billions of dollars have been paid to her by those who thought they were purchasing heaven for themselves or one of their loved ones. Also she acquired her wealth through the persecution of those Christians and Jews who would not accept the Pope. You see the Roman Catholic Church acquired the property of the victims of the Inquisitions. Even the dead were exhumed to face trial for heresy and property was taken from their heirs by the Church.

Arrayed In Purple And Scarlet

Purple and scarlet were the colors of the Roman Empire and Caesar, they were of course adopted by the Papacy.  According to the laws of the Church of Rome purple is to be worn by the Pope and Bishops and Scarlet is to be worn by the Cardinals. The Catholic Encyclopedia (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1976), pp. 103-04.

The Mother of Harlots

What does it mean that she is the “Mother of Harlots”? It means that she has given birth to other Churches. Churches have sprung from her bosom that hold to her false doctrines.  As the Bible says: “As is the mother, so is her daughter.”--Ezekiel 16:44. Does Rome admit to being the Mother of these churches? Yes.

“the Roman Church, is the MOTHER AND MISTRESS OF ALL CHURCHES" (ibid., p. 53 -- Seventh Session, Sacrament Of Baptism, Canon 3) 

The Mystery Religion

The Ancient Kingdom of Babylon was known for its “Mystery Religion”. In the Mysteries of Babylon (the religion of Baal), the King was also the high priest, and held the title of Pontifex Maximuz. King Nebuchadnezzar's grandchild, Belshazzar was the last to hold the title in the kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 5). After Belshazzar's death, scholars say, the Mysteries of Babylon continued in its entirety in Pergamos, a city of Asia minor. Christ in the Book of Revelation made references to the Mysteries, their 'Pontifex Maximuz' and their increasing in influence in the church during the first century. In his letter to the church of Pergamos he states:

  "I know thy works, where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat (Throne) is"  ,, "wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth" Revelation 2:13.

It is clear that what Christ considered to be the 'Throne of Satan' was located in Pergamos in the first century. How can we be sure that the 'Throne' is speaking of the 'Pontifex Maximus' of Baal worship? Verse 14 states "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Ba'laam," we know that Balaam was a prophet of Baal (Numbers 22:41).

From Pergamos, the Mysteries migrated to Rome {namely in the form of the 'Mithra' cult} where the title  'Pontifex Maximuz' was given to the Caesars, who proclaimed themselves to be ‘god on earth’. Gratian was the last Roman Emperor to hold the title, and it was he who passed the title over to the Bishop of Rome in 383 AD. The Pope has held it ever since [see Columbia Encyclopedia Sixth Edition. 2001-05].
Here it would be interesting to note the meaning of Antipas, Christ’s faithful martyr [Revelation 2:13]. There is no historical record of a person by this name, but the name itself has a special meaning. It literally means: Against the Papa [Pope]. Many Scholars believe that Antipas represents all the faithful Saints of God who were martyred by Papacy.

In the Babylonian religion, the ancient Pontifex was also seen as the grand "interpreter" of the Roman Mysteries and he held the keys of Janus (Baal) and Cybele (Ashtoreth), thus he was able to open the dark secrets of the Mysteries. In 431 A.D. the Pope broadly declared his pre-eminence, as the holder of the keys of Peter. It was claimed then as it is now that the Apostle Peter, the Apostle of the Jews 'Circumcised' (Galatians 2:7), set upon a throne in Rome, and gave his authority and the keys of heaven to the Roman church. This grand lie, raised the Pope to the Position of 'Pontifex Maximuz' and finished the foundation of the Mysteries which began to be laid by Constantine in 325 A.D. In the Roman Catholic Church today you have a blending of Christianity and the Babylonian Mystery religion. Sadly many protestant churches continue to hold to the unbiblical traditions and customs of this religious harlot. God is calling his people to separate from this religious confusion [Revelation 18:4].

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                                                    "Come out of her my people" -- Jesus Christ