“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.”
King James Version (KJV)
17:3 And he carried me away - In the vision. Into a wilderness - The campagna di Roma, the country round about Rome, is now a wilderness, compared to what it was once. And I saw a woman - Both the scripture and other writers frequently represent a city under this emblem. Sitting upon a scarlet wild beast - The same which is described in the thirteenth chapter. #Rev 13:1 |- 18 But he was there described as he carried on his own designs only: here, as he is connected with the whore. There is, indeed, a very close connexion between them; the seven heads of the beast being seven hills on which the woman sitteth. And yet there is a very remarkable difference between them, - between the papal power and the city of Rome. This woman is the city of Rome, with its buildings and inhabitants; especially the nobles. The beast, which is now scarlet - coloured, (bearing the bloody livery, as well as the person, of the woman,) appears very different from before. Therefore St. John says at first sight, I saw a beast, not the beast, full of names of blasphemy - He had' before a name of blasphemy upon his head, #Rev 13:1:| now he has many. From the time of Hildebrand, the blasphemous titles of the Pope have been abundantly multiplied. Having seven heads - Which reach in a succession from his ascent out of the sea to his being cast into the lake of fire. And ten horns - Which are contemporary with each other, and belong to his last period.
Re 17:3 He carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness. It is not explained why she is seen in a wilderness. Perhaps the thought is that her development was in obscurity and almost unnoticed until she had reached supreme power. I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast. Supported by this beast. In chapter 13 I have discussed at length the meaning of this beast and of its seven heads. See notes on Re 13:1-10. And ten horns. The significance of these will be considered under Re 17:12.