Verses 1–6

Here we have a new vision, not as to the matter of it, for that is contemporary with what came under the three last vials; but as to the manner of description, etc. Observe, 1. The invitation given to the apostle to take a view of what was here to be represented: Come hither, and I will show thee the judgment of the great whore, etc., Rev. 17:1. This is a name of great infamy. A whore [in this passage] is one that is married, and has been false to her husband’s bed, has forsaken the guide of her youth, and broken the covenant of God. She had been a prostitute to the kings of the earth, whom she had intoxicated with the wine of her fornication. 2. The appearance she made: it was gay and gaudy, like such sort of creatures: She was arrayed in purple, and scarlet colour, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, Rev. 17:4. Here were all the allurements of worldly honour and riches, pomp and pride, suited to sensual and worldly minds. 3. Her principal seat and residence—upon the beast that had seven heads and ten horns; that is to say, Rome, the city on seven hills, infamous for idolatry, tyranny, and blasphemy. 4. Her name, which was written on her forehead. It was the custom of impudent harlots to hang out signs, with their names, that all might know what they were. Now in this observe, (1.) She is named from her place of residence—Babylon the great. But, that we might not take it for the old Babylon literally so called, we are told there is a mystery in the name; it is some other great city resembling the old Babylon. (2.) She is named from her infamous way and practice; not only a harlot, but a mother of harlots, breeding up harlots, and nursing and training them up to idolatry, and all sorts of lewdness and wickedness—the parent and nurse of all false religion and filthy conversation. 5. Her diet: she satiated herself with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. She drank their blood with such greediness that she intoxicated herself with it; it was so pleasant to her that she could not tell when she had had enough of it: she was satiated, but never satisfied.