“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew 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. 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. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. ... And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. ... And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Revelation 13:1-6, 9, 15).
When Dave Hunt published a book in 1994 (A Woman Rides the Beast) that identifies the religious harlot of Revelation 17 with Roman Catholicism, it created quite a controversy. Hunt’s book was blacklisted by many Christian bookstores and denounced by some key Evangelical leaders and ministries, including the Christian Research Institute (CRI). On the Bible Answer Man radio broadcasts, Hank Hanegraaff claimed that it is ludicrous to identify the Roman Catholic Church as the whore of Revelation 17.
Such a controversy is relatively new. For a thousand years and more, Baptists, Protestants, and Fundamentalists have identified Rome with the Harlot of Revelation 17. Consider a few examples:
At the end of the NINTH CENTURY, “Tergandus, Bishop of Treves, called the Pope antichrist, yea, a wolf, and Rome, Babylon” (Martyrs Mirror, 5th English edition, p. 240).
In THE TENTH CENTURY, Arnulphus, Bishop of Orleans, in a full council at Rheims, called the Pope Antichrist (Peter Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont, 1821, p. 229).
In THE ELEVENTH CENTURY, Berenger of Tours denounced Rome’s dogmas and maintained that the Roman Church was the See of Satan (George Faber, The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, 1838, p. 159).
THE WALDENSIANS, throughout most of their long history, identified the pope as the Antichrist. The Waldensian treatise titled the Noble Lesson, dated 1100 A.D., stated: “Antichrist, the predicted murderer of the Saints, hath already appeared in his true character, seated monarchally in the seven-hilled city.” In 1120 or 1160 A.D., A Treatise Concerning Antichrist identified the Pope of Rome as the Antichrist. George Faber identifies this as a production of Peter the Waldo (Faber, pp. 379-384).
In 1206, at the conference of Montreal, the ALBIGENSES made the following confession: “That the Church of Rome was not the spouse of Christ, but the Church of confusion, drunk with the blood of the martyrs. That the polity of the Church of Rome was neither good nor holy, nor established by Jesus Christ” (Peter Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, 1821 edition, first published in 1692, p. 178).
The BOHEMIAN BRETHREN held the following beliefs, according to the Roman Inquisitor. This description uses material from the 13TH CENTURY: “The first error, saith he, is that the Church of Rome is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but an assembly of wicked men, and the whore that sits upon the beast in the Revelation. ... They declare the pope to be the head and ringleader of all errors” (Allix, Ancient Churches of Piedmont, pp. 242-259).
The LOLLARDS of the 14TH AND 15TH CENTURIES maintained “that the Church of Rome was not the Church of Christ, but of infidel heathens; and they despised all ecclesiastical laws, together with all the Bishops and Ministers of the Church” (Allix, Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, p. 230).
The PETROBUSIANS judged the pope to be the Antichrist (Allix, Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, p. 142).
Throughout THE REFORMATION ERA, Rome was considered the Mother of Harlots. On September 9, 1560, Pastor Jean Louis Paschale of Calabria, just before he was burned alive in the presence of Pope Pius IV in Rome, turned to the Pope and “arraigned him as the enemy of Christ, the persecutor of his people, and the Anti-Christ of Scripture, and concluded by summoning him and all his cardinals to answer for their cruelties and murders before the throne of the Lamb” (J.A. Wylie, History of the Waldenses, c1860, p. 120).
All of the Reformation leaders considered the pope the Antichrist, including Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Huss, and their successors in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries persisted in this.
Bible translator WILLIAM TYNDALE identified the pope as the Antichrist in his treatise The Practice of Prelates and also in the Preface to the 1534 edition of his New Testament.
Many of the EARLY PROTESTANT BIBLES contained dramatic woodcuttings portraying the Scarlet Woman of Revelation 17, plainly identifying the Roman Catholic Church with this apostate religious system. The 1560 Geneva Bible is an example. The notes on Revelation 17 said: “The Beast signifies an ancient Rome; The woman that sits thereon, the New Rome which is the Papistry, whose cruelty and blood shedding is declared by scarlet and full of idolatries, superstitions and contempt for the true God. ... This woman is the Antichrist, that is, the Pope with the whole body of his filthy creatures, as is expounded in verse 18.”
In fact, it was so common in the 16th century for dissidents to label Rome the antichrist and harlot of Revelation 17 that in 1516 Pope Leo X issued a papal bull which forbade preachers to touch on the subject of the antichrist in their sermons (M’Crie, Reformation in Italy, p. 20)!
This situation continued to exist among Protestants and Baptists generally throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th. In his 1893 work titled Union with Rome, Bishop Christopher Wordsworth of the Church of England stated the view that prevailed among Protestants at that time: “... we tremble at the sight, while we read the inscription, emblazoned in large letters, ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great,’ written by the hand of St. John, guided by the Holy Spirit of God, on the forehead of the Church of Rome.”
These examples could be multiplied almost endlessly.
Further, large numbers of old-line Protestants, Baptists, and fundamentalist Christians continue to identify Rome with Revelation 17 TODAY.
We have no doubt that the Roman Catholic Church is the partial fulfillment of the prophecy in Revelation 17 of a one-world religious Harlot. This is not to say that Revelation 17 is entirely fulfilled by Roman Catholicism. The prophecy not be finished until the reign of the Antichrist just prior to the coming of the Lord, and Rome will be joined by a conglomeration of other apostate churches and organizations, the end result, no doubt, of the present Ecumenical Movement.
The religious harlot of Revelation 17 is aligned with the antichrist (compare Rev. 17:3 - 13:1) and like the antichrist it has two aspects: historic (and present) and prophetic.
In 1 John 2:18, the apostle said, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”
Thus there are two aspects to the antichrist. There is the antichrist singular that will rise in the future and will rule the world for a short period during the Great Tribulation just prior to the return of Christ, and there are antichrists plural that have been in the world since the beginning of the church age.
Likewise, the Harlot of Revelation 17 has two aspects. There is a sense in which she has existed throughout the church age and there is a sense in which she will arise during the Tribulation.
Though she does not fulfill this prophecy in its final entirety, it is an amazing fact that every feature of the religious Harlot is found in the Roman Catholic Church. She has ridden through church history upon the back of kings, is clothed in gorgeous robes and decked in expensive attire. She sits on seven hills, is full of abominations, and has a golden cup. She is certainly drunk with the blood of the martyrs, and the inhabitants of the world are indeed drunk with the wine of her fornication. Countless multitudes of deceived people from practically every nation blindly follow Rome’s errors and glory in Rome’s false religion.
It is interesting that even Rome herself has understood her fulfillment of this prophecy. “In 1825, Pope Leo XII struck a medal, bearing on the one side his own image, and on the other, that of the Church of Rome symbolized as a ‘Woman,’ holding in her left hand a cross, and in her right a CUP, with the legend around her, ‘Sedet super universum,’ ‘The whole world is her seat’” (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons).
Following are some of ways the harlot of Revelation 17 is identified with Rome:
1. HER LOCATION IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth,” Rev. 17:9).
John pictures the great harlot sitting upon seven mountains, which most Protestants of old and Fundamentalists of the present identify as the city of Rome.
“The woman is a city, and the city is Rome, the religious capital of the world. ... Rome was the city set on seven hills and was known as such to both pagan and Christian writers. ... Ovid said, ‘Rome looks around on the whole globe from her seven mountains, the seat of empire and abode of the gods.’ ... She is religious Rome, which at that time will have inherited all the religions of the world. ... It will attain the goal of the present-day apostates of all the great systems of the world: Romanism, Protestantism, pagan religions, cults and isms” (J. Vernon McGee, Revelation).
2. HER CHARACTER IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“the great whore,” Rev. 17:1).
This is true of Rome both spiritually and literally.
From her inception, Rome has committed spiritual whoredom with the pagan rulers and demonic powers of this world. She gleefully joined hands with Constantine of old, and she has disobediently affiliated with pagan governments ever since.
The Roman Catholic Church has also been associated with immorality in a more literal sense.
Her popes are immoral. Even her own history books describe the unspeakably vile deeds of her “holy” popes, even though they rarely give the whole story.
Martin Luther visited Rome expecting to find the headquarters for holiness, but after the visit he testified: “If there be a hell, Rome is built over it.”
Pope John XII (955-63) is described by the Catholic Encyclopedia as “a course, immoral man, whose life was such that the Lateran palace was spoken of as a brothel.”
Pope Benedict IX (1032-1045) was a murderer and an adulterer; the Catholic Encyclopedia admits he lived a “dissolute life.”
Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) erected a house of prostitution in Rome.
Pope Pius II (1458-64) had two illegitimate children.
Pope Innocent VIII (1484-92) had at least two illegitimate children that he raised to positions of authority and wealth in the Catholic Church.
Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) had at least four illegitimate children and he made them rich through appointments. He made his son, Caesar Borgia, a cardinal when he was only 18 years old. Caesar was an immoral and violent man who had his brother put to death as well as his sister Lucrezia’s husband. Alexander held unspeakable orgies in his palace and kept mistresses who were married women. He died of syphilis.
Pope Julius II (1503-13) had at least three illegitimate children.
Rome’s priests have also been immoral. They have taken vows of celibacy, but they have not been celibate! In The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional, Charles Chiniquy, a former priest, documented the moral vileness associated with Rome’s practice of confession, and that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Even to this very day, Rome has an immoral testimony. Throughout the world, her priests are renowned for homosexuality and child abuse. In recent years, Rome has paid millions of dollars to settle court cases brought against homosexual, child-molesting priests.
A 2004 study in America found 11,757 cases of sexual abuse involving 5,148 priests. The study also found that the Catholic Church has spent at least $1 billion in lawsuits and treatment for priests. These studies only involve about half of the priests in the U.S.
The Archdiocese of Portland and that of Tucson filed bankruptcy in 2004.
According to Roman Catholic Bishop Pat Buckley, studies have shown that 80% of the Catholic priests in Ireland have broken their vows of celibacy. The bishop estimates that at least one in 10 of the 5,000 priests have regular clandestine affairs with women (“500 Irish Priests Having Regular Sex with Women,” London News Telegraph, Jan. 21, 2006). Buckley says the figure of one in 10 is “an extremely conservative estimate” and that when the statistics are widened to include “practicing homosexuals,” it would be found that UP TO 40% OF THE PRIESTS ARE SEXUALLY ACTIVE. Buckley operates a ministry called Bethany, which counsels women who have been involved with priests. He says, “From the top down it is hypocritical. We are preaching compulsory celibacy, but very few are living it.” He describes as common the practice of priests and their housekeepers living secretly as husband and wife and says that relationships between priests and nuns is so common that it is unofficially called the “third way.”
3. HER WORLDWIDE REACH IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“that sitteth upon many waters,” Rev. 17:1).
No matter where you go in this dark world, Rome’s tentacles have extended there.
Further, Rome is busy extending her influence by yoking together with the Christian denominations and pagan religions of the world. A statement made in recent decades by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican and Episcopalian churches, shows how far the ecumenical movement has gone toward reconciliation with Rome. On August 7, 1977, Michael Ramsey said he would accept the pope as “President-Bishop” of a united “church” (Focus, Jul.-Aug. 1988, p. 5). Ramsey also said: “We should like to see the churches of England, Scotland, the United States and any other countries, bound together in one body. If the pope would like to come in as chairman, we should all welcome him” (Why Were Our Reformers Burned?).
My books Evangelicals and Rome and The Directory of Contemporary Worship Music documents the back to Rome movement within practically every segment of Protestantism.
Not only are apostate Christian denominations returning to Rome, but so are pagan religions. At the last two general assemblies of the World Council of Churches, the speakers included Hindus, Buddhists, Jewish rabbis, Muslims, Sikhs, Native American Indians, and Australian aborigines. Pagan altars were erected and fire offerings made to various pagan gods. “Ecumenical” means universal, worldwide, and the present-day movement of Christian unity, represented by groups such as the World Council of Churches, is the fore-view of this worldwide apostate “church.” The WCC itself is indeed worldwide, being composed of more than 300 denominations representing some 500 million people in 100 nations. This large body of apostate Christianity has already become one in spirit with the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches, and even recognizes the so-called spirituality of non-Christian religions.
The emerging “harlot church” was seen on Jan. 24, 2002, when Pope John Paul II led the third Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Italy. (The first was held in 1986 and the second in 1993.) The 2002 interfaith prayer gathering featured some 200 religious leaders, including representatives of “Christian” denominations (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, Lutheran, Mormon, Mennonite) as well as representatives of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Bahai, Confucianism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, and members of African and North American “traditional religions.” Prominently featured were 29 Muslim leaders from such countries as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, and Libya, all of which persecute Christians to some degree. Thus, there is already a harlot “church” taking shape and sitting upon many waters.
Rome’s worldwide reach was evident at the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005. The ultra large front page banner for the April 8 edition of the Evening Standard of London, England, announced “UNITED BY THE POPE,” and that about sums it up. Claudira Ribeira Santos, a Brazilian nun who attended the Pope’s funeral, observed: “The entire world is here. John Paul tore down the walls of countries, of classes, of religions.” As The Times of London observed, “This reflected not just the charisma of the late Pope but also ‘a better understanding of the Catholic Church with the growth of ecumenicism” (The Times, April 7, 2005). This funeral, called “the greatest the world has seen,” was watched on television by an estimated two billion people. This was the first papal funeral attended by 200 world leaders, including at least 70 presidents and prime ministers. This was the first papal funeral attended by an Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the first attended by a British prime minister, and the first attended by a future monarch of England (Prince Charles was representing the Queen). This was the first papal casket before which a president of the United States bowed (The Times, London, April 7, 2005, p. 36) and the first papal funeral to draw an entourage of the current and two former presidents of the United States.
There is already a harlot “church” taking shape and sitting upon many waters.
4. HER UNHOLY EFFECT UPON MEN IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication,” Rev. 17:2).
Apostate religion allows men to continue in their sinful pleasures while having a form of religion to soothe their guilty consciences.
The term “fornication” in Rev. 17:2 refers to the seducing power of the Romish system in drawing away the affections from Christ, who is the only true and proper object of faith for the heart. “The priest comes between the heart and the blessed Lord; the Bible is concealed; the mind of God is unknown; the people are intoxicated with her exciting falsehoods; and worship they know not what” (Miller’s Church History).
The attraction of apostate Christianity to the people of the world, in spite of the fact that apostate Christendom has constantly discredited itself, is amazing to behold.
This is illustrated by the world’s supernatural attraction to the pope. Even the secular, humanistic press gives the Roman pope great acclaim; something that is not accorded any other Christian leader.
Of Pope John Paul II’s journey to South America in 1980, Time magazine said: “The Polish-born pontiff proved a spell-binding presence, drawing crowds of a million or more on at least six occasions.”
Following the first visit ever made by a pope to America, Time magazine gushed: “A gentle shepherd with a will of steel, John Paul II thrilled the U.S. with a glorious pilgrimage that won hearts—and challenged the nation. ... After only a year in office, the Pontiff is emerging as the kind of incandescent leader that the world so hungers for--one who can make people feel that they have been lifted above the drabness of their lives and show them that they are capable of better emotions, and better deeds than they may have thought.”
Several people have been trampled to death in the great crowds that flock to see the pope during his world travels. In 1980, nine people died and dozens were hospitalized in Africa, while three died and 30 were injured in El Salvador. These duped millions are indeed drunk with the wine of the fornications of the harlot “church.”
That the supernatural attraction to the office of the pope has increased dramatically in recent decades was evident at the funeral of John Paul II in April 2005. The ultra large front-page banner for the April 8 edition of the Evening Standard of London, England, announced, “UNITED BY THE POPE,” and that about sums it up. Claudira Ribeira Santos, a Brazilian nun who attended the Pope’s funeral, observed: “The entire world is here. John Paul tore down the walls of countries, of classes, of religions.”
The funeral was watched on television by an estimated two billion people. It was the first papal funeral attended by 200 world leaders, including at least 70 presidents and prime ministers. It was the first papal funeral attended by an Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the first attended by a British prime minister, and the first attended by a future monarch of England. It was the first papal casket before which a president of the United States bowed (The Times, London, April 7, 2005, p. 36) and the first papal funeral to draw an entourage of a current and two former presidents of the United States.
The world is indeed drunk with the wine of the fornications of the harlot “church.”
The attraction of the world toward apostate Christianity will continue to increase as the Great Tribulation draws nearer. Finally, the antichrist’s prophet will “cause the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed ... and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do...” (Rev. 13:11-15) “... God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 3:11-12)
5. HER ILLICIT RELATIONSHIP WITH CIVIL GOVERNMENT IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication,” Rev. 17:2).
The apostles never yoked together with secular government. They gave their attention to establishing churches and their principle was that the church has its business and the state has its (Rom. 13:1-7). They wrote: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Cor. 6:14-15).
Apostate Christianity, on the other hand, does not hesitate to unite with godless men in government to accomplish its purposes.
During the Dark Ages the Roman Catholic Church yoked with secular government and oftentimes even ruled over it.
In 1302 Pope Boniface VIII issued a papal bull entitled Unam Sanctam, in which he claimed that no one can be saved who does not submit to the pope as the supreme head of the church and demanded that kings and all earthly authority be subject to him.
Pope Gregory VII humbled Emperor Henry IV. In 1076, the pope called a council of bishops and proclaimed that the emperor could no longer rule his kingdom. In January 1077, the emperor traveled to Italy to the castle where the Pope was staying on a visit to the duchess Matilda and begged his forgiveness. The haughty Pope forced the emperor to stay outside in the winter cold, barefoot and fasting, for three days.
Pope Innocent III humbled King John of England (1199-1216). When his highness the pope became displeased with the king, he excommunicated him and issued a decree declaring that he was no longer king and releasing the people of England from any obligation to him. The haughty Pope ordered King Philip of France to organize an army and navy to overthrow John, which he began to do with great zeal, eager to conquer England for himself. The Pope called for a crusade against John, promising the participants remission of sins and a share of the spoils of war. In the meantime, King John yielded to the pressure and submitted to the Pope, pledging complete allegiance to him in all things and resigning England and Ireland into the Pope’s hands.
Pope Innocent III also humbled Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, in France. Raymond was a Roman Catholic but he favored the Waldenses and attempted to protect them from the wrath of the pope. The pope excommunicated him, threatened him, cursed him, and finally called for a crusade against him. Those who responded were promised forgiveness of sins, the cancellation of all debts, and if they died in battle, they would go directly to Heaven. Hundreds of thousands responded. When Raymond saw that he was surrounded by such an armed multitude, he submitted. He appeared before the pope’s representatives. A rope held by a bishop was tied around his neck, and he was beaten upon his naked shoulders until he was covered with blood. The 300,000 papal crusaders then descended upon the Count’s territories uninhibited and destroyed the Waldenses (also called Albigenses). It is impossible to describe the barbarities poured out upon this people. As many as 100,000 people were slain in one city alone, that of Beziers. In another city, they put out the eyes of 100 of the defenders. On one occasion, four hundred “heretics” were burned alive together in massive pyres, while the Catholic priests mocked them and chanted “Come, Holy Ghost.” At Merindol, five hundred women were locked in a barn, which was set on fire.
The Roman Catholic Church still yokes together with secular government. It has hundreds of ambassadors to the nations.
The Protestant state churches in Europe yoked up with the government in their heretical “state churches.”
The World Council of Churches works closely with secular governments and international bodies such as the United Nations.
Evangelicals and the emerging church work closely with secular governments in the goal of building the kingdom of God in the world today.
6. HER BLASPHEMY IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“full of names of blasphemy,” Rev. 17:3).
Rome is indeed full of blasphemy, having exalted herself to the place of God in people’s lives.
The titles of Rome’s popes are blasphemous. He calls himself the “holy father” and “his holiness,” names that belong solely to Almighty God. He calls himself the “vicar of Christ,” which is the office of the Holy Spirit.
Rome’s priests also take to themselves blasphemous titles and claims. They want to be called “father,” which Christ forbade. They are ordained after the order of Melchisedec, but this is an office that belongs to Christ alone.
Her exaltation of Mary is another example of Rome’s blasphemy. In the late 19th century John Burgon rightly observed that Mary “can only be fitly described as the tutelary [guardian] Deity of modern Rome.” Indeed, Mary is everywhere in Rome. Most of the churches are named in her honor and feature her statues and paintings. They celebrate fables surrounding her sinless birth, her presentation in the temple, her assumption into Heaven, and her coronation as Queen.
Consider Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major), which was built to honor Mary as the “Mother of God.” It features a large mosaic from the late 13th century, depicting Mary sitting on the right hand of Jesus on his throne and being crowned by him as Queen of Heaven. The Latin inscription translated says: “The Virgin Mary assumed into the dwelling place of the heavens, where the King of Kings sits on the starry throne. The Holy Mother of God is elevated into the Kingdom of Heaven, above choirs of angels.” Christ has an open book in his hand which has the words in Latin meaning “Come my beloved and I will place you on my throne.” Another prominent image of Mary in this church is titled “Mary Queen of Peace.” In this statue image, Mary is depicted holding the child Jesus with one arm while holding the other out in a sign of blessing. One of the church’s chapels enshrines an ancient icon of Mary titled “Salus Populi Romani” (the health or well-being of the Roman people). Outside of the St. Mary Major Church she is even depicted hanging on the cross with Jesus! The large cross has Jesus hanging on one side and a crowned Mary hanging on the other.
The Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic church in Chicago has an image of Mary sitting on the Ark of God and surrounded by worshiping angels. This is a great blasphemy, as the Ark was the place where Jehovah God abided in the Tabernacle.
In the Church of the Mother of God of Polish Martyrs in Warsaw, Poland, Mary is also surrounded by the 12 apostles who are adoring her rather than Jesus Christ.
7. HER CLOTHING IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“arrayed in purple and scarlet colour,” Rev. 17:4).
The apostles and Christians of the early churches were humble Bible-believers who lived simple lives and did not follow the pattern of the world’s leaders and religions. The harlot church, on the other hand, loves impressive cathedrals, colorful robes, gorgeous ritualism, expensive ecclesiastical clothing and trappings.
Revelation 17:4 describes exactly how Rome’s bishops and archbishops and cardinals and popes are clothed even to this day. In 2003 I witnessed a mass in Rome’s St. Paul Without the Walls in which the bishops were clothed in scarlet. One year I watched a televised broadcast of the papal Christmas mass at the Vatican, and it looked like a sea of purple and scarlet! When Pope John Paul II died, the College of Cardinals, which met to elect a new pope, was clothed in scarlet.
The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the garments of the Catholic clergy. The Cappa Magna is a cloak with a long train with a hooded shoulder cape. The color of it is purple wool for bishops, scarlet silk for cardinals, and red velvet for the pope. The Cassock is a close-fitting, ankle-length robe, the color of which is purple for bishops and scarlet for cardinals.
8. HER WEALTH IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“decked with gold and precious stones and pearls,” Rev. 17:4).
This is an accurate description of the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church. It also describes literally the gold and jewels with which Rome has decked itself.
Consider this description of the coronation of Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241): “On the day of his coronation he proceeded to St. Peter’s, accompanied by several prelates, and assumed the pallium according to custom; and after having said mass he marched to the palace of the Lateran, COVERED WITH GOLD AND JEWELS. On Monday, having said mass at St. Peter’s, he returned wearing two crowns, mounted on a horse richly caparisoned, and surrounded by Cardinals CLOTHED IN PURPLE, and a numerous clergy. The streets were spread with tapestry, INLAID WITH GOLD AND SILVER, the noblest productions of Egypt, and the most brilliant colors of India, and perfumed with various aromatic odors” (George Waddington, A History of the Church from the Earliest Ages to the Reformation, 1834, p. 335).
The crown of Pope Paul II (1464-1471) was “set with diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, chrysolites, and jaspers” (Ouseley, A Short Defence, 1821, p. 230).
The crown of Pope Julius II was valued at 200,000 ducats or gold coins. That is as much as Pope Paul III gave to Emperor Charles V to finance an entire war against the Protestants in the 16th century (Miller’s Church History, chapter 46). It is also the same amount as the entire dowry the king of Spain gave for the marriage of his daughter, Catherine, to Arthur, Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne in the 16th century.
Rome grew wealthy through tithes and donations that flowed to her from the ends of the earth.
She grew wealthy through the sale of clerical offices. The following description of conditions in England in the 13th and 14th and 15th centuries was true throughout Europe: “The pope of Rome was farmer-general of the English Church. He who could pay highest was sure of the place in market, whether it were a country parish, or the Primacy of England; and the buyer must in turn, farm it out in the way which would bring the largest percentage on the cost. The richest prizes fell to Italians, parasites of the Pope, some of whom, though unable to speak a word of English, and who had never set foot on English soil, held twenty, thirty, nay, some of them fifty and sixty valuable benefices in the English Church. On the revenues thus obtained they lived in magnificence at Rome, and laid up enormous fortunes, notwithstanding the large yearly sums paid out of them into the papal treasury” (Conant, Popular History of the Translation, p. 7).
Rome grew wealthy though rich men joining the monasteries and donating their wealth to the church.
She grew wealthy through the crusades. Not only did the crusaders bring much wealth back and donate it to the Roman Catholic Church, but it was the Catholic Church that provided much of the money for the crusades by loaning money to the crusaders. Though usury was officially forbidden by church law, the Catholic Church had ways to get around this, such as by gaining free use of the crusaders’ lands during the owner’s absence (Jonathan Phillips, The Fourth Crusade, p. 96).
She grew wealthy by the doctrine of masses for the dead, whereby the loved ones of the deceased paid money to the Catholic church to have masses performed to deliver them from purgatory. The wealthy would leave part of their inheritance to Rome for the saying of masses.
She grew wealthy through the sale of indulgences. This is how the popes built St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
She grew wealthy through the Inquisition, because she not only arrested and imprisoned and tortured and burned “heretics” but also confiscated their property.
The wealth of the Catholic Church is vast. In the 1970s, the Vatican was the third wealthiest “nation” behind America and Japan. When this is added to the wealth of the apostate Protestant denominations, the sum is staggering. The harlot church is spiritually bankrupt, but amazingly full of material wealth. For more about the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, see the Way of Life Advanced Bible Studies Course “A History of the Churches.”
9. HER CUP IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“having a golden cup in her hand,” Rev. 17:4).
The only cup that is mentioned in connection with the New Testament church is the cup of the Lord’s Supper. In Bible believing churches, this cup merely symbolic and is made of wood or aluminum or glass or plastic. But Rome is not satisfied with a humble ritual that merely symbolizes Christ’s death; she has converted it into a glorious pageantry at the heart of which is the transubstantiation of the “host” into the very body and blood of Jesus Christ. For such a pageant a golden cup is more fitting.
Until recent times, Catholic liturgical law required the chalice (the cup of the mass) be made entirely of gold or at least to be gold plated (Catholic Encyclopedia).
To this day, the papal chalice is made of gold.
The Roman Catholic Church possesses thousands of gold chalices in its churches around the world.
10. HER ABOMINATIONS IDENTIFY HER WITH ROME (“full of abominations,” Rev. 17:4).
Indeed, Rome is filled with abominations. Her mass, which she claims is a bloodless re-sacrifice of Christ, is an abomination. The consecrated “host,” which is called the “corporal” and which is worshipped as Christ, is an abomination. Her sacramental salvation, her worship of Mary, her prayers to the saints, her doctrine of purgatory, her love affair with the bones of dead men, the unscriptural claims of the pope, all are abominations before God.
11. HER ASSOCIATES IDENTIFY HER WITH ROME (“the Mother of Harlots,” v. 5)
The Harlot of Revelation 17 is a mother who has daughters that are similar to her in character. They, too, are harlots. The Protestant denominations split off from Rome in the 16th and 17th centuries, though they retained some of her doctrine and practice, such as infant baptism, state churchism, and the allegorical method of Bible interpretation, and in the last 100 years they have apostasied from their former protestant faith and today they are re-affiliating themselves with their Mother.
12. HER VIOLENCE IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus,” Rev. 17:6).
The Roman Catholic Church has murdered millions. No one has ever been able to count the exact total number, but it has been estimated by careful and reputed historians of the Catholic Inquisition that 50 million people were slaughtered for the crime of “heresy” between the A.D. 606 and the middle of the 19th century (John Dowling, History of Romanism, 1847, book VIII, chapter 1, footnote 1).
Rome is drunk with the blood of the Albigenses, the Waldenses, the Lollards, the Anabaptists, the Baptists, and the Protestants, to name a few.
In the Netherlands alone following the Reformation, multitudes were tormented and destroyed. Consider the following excerpts from a record of those persecutions dating from the 1520s:
“The history of the Low Countries from this time is so full of martyrdoms, that it is like a gradual extermination of the population. ... The fires were now kindled all over the country, and edict following edict, with increasing severity, kept them burning. It was death to read a page of the scriptures; death to discuss any article of the faith; death to have in one’s possession any of the writings of Luther, Zwingle, or OEcolampadius; death to express a doubt respecting the efficacy of the sacraments, or the authority of the pope. In the year 1536, that good and faithful servant of the Lord, William Tyndale, was strangled and burnt at Vilvordi, near Brussels, for translating the New Testament into English, and printing it in 1535. ... About four hundred churches were thus plundered and defaced in a few days. ... The troops were ordered to be distributed over the distracted country, that the persecuting edicts might be enforced. The Protestants were reduced to great straits; many were put to death, and many fled the country ... In the year 1567 the cruel duke of Alva was sent into the Netherlands with an army of fifteen thousand Spaniards and Italians; and the Inquisition was to put forth all its energies. . The wooden churches were pulled down, and, in some places the beams were formed into a great gallows on which to hang the minister and his flock. [These atrocities against Bible believers were] to be witnessed almost daily in the country for nearly forty years. ... In the year 1567 ‘the council of blood,’ as it was called, held its first sitting. ... Blood now flowed in torrents. ... A new edict was issued, affixing a heavy penalty upon all waggoners, carriers, and shipmasters, who should aid in the emigration of ‘heretics.’ They had resolved that none should escape. ... Upon the 19th of February 1568 a sentence of the Holy Office condemned all the inhabitants of the Netherlands to death as heretics. ... A proclamation of the king, dated ten days later, confirmed this decree of the inquisition, and ordered it to be carried into instant execution, without regard to age, sex, condition. This is probably the most concise death-warrant that was ever framed. Three millions of people--men, woman, and children, were sentenced to the scaffold in three lines. Under this universal condemnation the reader will see the real spirit of popery, and what all had to expect who did not yield an absolute, though blind submission, to all her idolatries, and superstitions” (Miller’s Church History, pp. 1002-1008).
Similar atrocities were being committed against Bible believers across Europe and wherever Rome was in power, including South America, Mexico, the Philippines and other parts of Asia,
The persecution is not finished. Unprecedented persecution will be unleashed against those who hold to the Word of God after the final form of the harlot church appears, supported by the satanic power of Antichrist’s government.
13. HER ASSOCIATION WITH BABYLON OF OLD IDENTIFIES HER WITH ROME (“mystery Babylon the great,” Rev. 17:5).
By this name, the final apostate harlot church is connected with the false religion established at Babel in mankind’s early history (Gen. 10:8-10; 11:1-9). The Harlot is the final product of Satan’s corruption of true religion through the ages. Babel of old typifies the end-times Babylon in the following ways:
There was a man-made unity (Gen. 11:1). Likewise, the keynote of end-times Babylon is “ecumenism.”
There was worldly ambition and ingenuity (Gen. 11:4). Likewise, the end-times Babylon glories in man’s ability and contrivances. Babylon erects impressive structures and creates an impressive system of religion.
There was rebellion against God’s revealed will (Gen. 11:4). God told Noah’s family to “multiply and replenish the earth” (Gen. 9:1, 7), but Babel was a scheme to avoid being “scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). Likewise, end-times Babylon is in open rebellion against the New Testament Scriptures and has replaced the Word of God with human tradition.
There was pride. The founders of Babel said, “Let us make us a name” (Gen. 11:4). End-times Babylon is also proud and haughty, with its impressive cathedrals, its pomp and circumstance, its boasts of apostolic succession, its worldly ways.
There was idolatry. Babel was the beginning of the idolatrous mystery religions. The desire to build a tower to heaven had a religious meaning associated with astrology and idolatry (worship of the sun and moon and stars) (Gen. 11:4; Rom. 1:21-23). Rome also adopted many idolatrous practices, such as the worship of the Queen of Heaven and a mystery mass wherein god is sacrificed on man’s altars.
In light of these sobering facts, it is time to be watching for Christ’s return. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11).
The Word of God warns us that the apostasy that began even during the days of the apostles will increase until the formation of the great harlot religion of Revelation 17. We know that the hour is late. We see the ecumenical movement, the Evangelicals and Catholics together movement, the deep penetration of the Roman Catholic Church in the Charismatic movement.
It is time to be spiritually alert and on fire for the Lord and busy in His service.
It is also time to be saved. “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8). Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone because of the blood of Christ alone and is without works or sacraments. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (Rom. 4:4-6).
Dear reader, if you are not truly born again, we urge you to acknowledge and repent of your sin and to trust the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively for eternal salvation. Do not trust your baptism or some other church ritual. Do not trust any Christian service you might be doing. Do not trust that you have been born into a “Christian” home. Do not trust any good works that you believe you have done. Do not trust the ministry of a priest. Jesus warned, “Except ye be born again, ye shall not see the kingdom of God.” That statement was addressed to a very religious man, Nicodemas. The apostle Paul said, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Turn from apostate religion to the resurrected Christ and from a false gospel to the true gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ and be saved before it is eternally too late.
It is time to be discerning. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). In these days of spiritual and religious confusion God’s people need to emulate the Bereans more than ever. We need to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
It is time to be in a strong church. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). The church is God’s program and it is the place of discipleship, training, fruitfulness, and spiritual protection. It is dangerous to neglect the house of God. And we need to be in a strong Bible-believing church, a church that is not compromising the Word of God, a church that exposes heresy and apostasy and separates from it.
It is time to warn others. “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 22-23). Every born again child of God has a responsibility to preach the gospel and to earnestly contend for the faith and to try to help those who are out of the way.
It is time to be separated. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5). “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). Biblical separation is a matter of spiritual protection, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9), and, “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).
Any preacher or church that speaks well of Rome and affiliates with Rome is disobedient to God’s Word and must be avoided. We are sad to say that this includes Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ, Chuck Colson, James Dobson, Elisabeth Elliot, Jerry Falwell, Bill Hybels, D. James Kennedy, the National Association of Evangelicals, J.I. Packer, Luis Palau, Robert Schuller, John R.W. Stott, Joseph Stowell, Wycliffe Bible Translators, the United Bible Societies, Jack Van Impe, Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary, World Vision, Philip Yancy, and Youth for Christ, to mention but a few.
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family. You may also post parts of reports and/or entire reports to websites, blogs, etc as long as you give proper credit (citation). A link to the original report is very much appreciated as the reports are frequently updated and/or expanded. Things we do not want copied and distributed are "Store" items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18). Questions? email@example.com
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: Offerings are welcome if you care to make one. If you have been helped and/or blessed by our material offerings can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.