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Lesson 17 - The Scarlet Woman of Revelation
Lesson 17 - (downloadable pdf file)

After having shown John the terrible plagues which are poured out upon the earth when the last call of mercy is rejected, the Spirit showed John the events that had led up to that terrible climax so that he might better understand the reason for the terrors which had just been portrayed. However, in order to keep the events in sequence, we will look first at the events and later, in Lesson 23, the plagues.
1.   What did John see riding upon the great scarlet beast?     Revelation 17:3
2.   Upon what is this woman said to sit?     Revelation 17:1
3.   What do these waters represent?     Revelation 17:15
NOTE: We know that in other prophecies beasts have represented governments. Here the woman is said to be riding upon a beast, but also to be sitting upon many waters. As these waters are representative of many peoples and nations, we would understand that no single government is represented by the beast, but rather governments in general. As the woman is the rider, we would understand that she is controlling the governments to achieve her will.
4.   What is the woman said to be?     Revelation 17:1
NOTE: As a pure woman represents the church of God, an impure woman represents a church that is no longer faithful to her husband.
5.   Who is the husband of the church?     2 Corinthians 11:2
NOTE: Christ had promised His church the highest power in the universe - the Holy Spirit.
6.   With whom is this woman said to commit adultery?     Revelation 17:2
NOTE: As men depart from the purity of faith that was handed down from the apostles, they drift toward the world; this mingling of the sacred and the profane God had forbidden. See 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. As the church departs from Christ, it loses the power that attended it in the early preaching of the gospel. When, rather than looking to Christ for its power and support, the church then turns to the state to supply the lack, it is said to be committing adultery.
7. What else is the woman said to be?     Revelation 17:18
NOTE: The woman is also identified as being a city. Only one church is synonymous with a city, so much so that the name of the city forms a part of its name - the Roman Catholic Church. Several times the term “great city” is used to describe this apostate system. Rome has never tried to hide the fact that whenever possible it will use the civil government to enforce its dogma. Upheld by the power of the state, this woman, symbol of the apostate church, is seen guiding and controlling the nations.
8.   In what is she said to be dressed?     Revelation 17:4
NOTE: What a contrast to the pure linen, representative of the righteousness of the saints, which clothes the true church of God!
9.   With what is the woman said to be drunk?     Revelation 17:6
NOTE: Why should John be filled with wonder as he saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints? Persecution of the church was not new in John’s day. John was even then in exile for his faith. The secret of his wonder lay in the fact that all the persecution of the church had been carried on against the church by pagan Rome, an open enemy of Christ’s followers. But here John sees a professedly Christian church drunk with the blood of the saints.
10. What was the name on her forehead?   Revelation 17:5
NOTE: The fact that she is said to be a “mother of harlots,” indicates that she is not alone in courting the power of civil authority. Other churches have come out from her, daughters who have followed in her footsteps, seeking the favor of civil government for the furtherance of their desired goals. The world that now is, is passing. Events taking place around us cast their shadow before them, bespeaking of events that will soon take place. The principalities and powers of darkness are rallying their forces for the final conflict. Already the shadowy darkness of that final night can be seen. Soon the church will meet the powers of darkness in the final conflict of the six thousand years of the great controversy. In this final conflict all the civil and religious powers of earth will combine—“all whose names are not written in the book of life.” Revelation 13:8. This will be the greatest union of church and state ever known.
11. Where does John see those who have refused to join in the apostasy?     Revelation 20:4
We are not left in doubt as to the outcome of this impending conflict, for John says: “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” See Revelation 17:14.

The destiny of all is soon to be decided, not only for time, but also for eternity. In the testing time so soon to come, only those who have made God’s Word their rule of life will stand. Having learned to live by faith, they, like Moses, will endure, seeing Him who is invisible. See Hebrews 11:27.