The three "great signs in heaven"—"a woman clothed with the sun" (12:1), "a great red dragon" (12:3) and "seven angels with seven plagues" (15:1)—are over. A new stage of the prophecy begins. Its start and its finish are clearly marked. To begin, one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls introduces a long and elaborate vision. At the end John falls down to worship the angel and is told not to because the angel is only a fellow servant (19:10). This pattern repeats itself in John's last vision (21:9—22:9). Both visions focus on a city personified as a woman, here an evil woman, Babylon "the great prostitute" (17:1; compare 14:8; 16:19), and there a good woman, Jerusalem the virgin bride.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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