“And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
King James Version (KJV)
17:5 And on her forehead a name written - Whereas the saints have the name of God and the Lamb on their foreheads. Mystery - This very word was inscribed on the front of the Pope's mitre, till some of the Reformers took public notice of it. Babylon the great - Benedict XIII., in his proclamation of the jubilee, A.D. 1725, explains this sufficiently. His words are, To this holy city, famous for the memory of so many holy martyrs, run with religious alacrity. Hasten to the place which the Lord hath chose. Ascend to this new Jerusalem, whence the law of the Lord and the light of evangelical truth hath flowed forth into all nations, from the very first beginning of the church: the city most rightfully called 'The Palace,' placed for the pride of all ages, the city of the Lord, the Sion of the Holy One of Israel. This catholic and apostolical Roman church is the head of the world, the mother of all believers, the faithful interpreter of God and mistress of all churches. But God somewhat varies the style. The mother of harlots - The parent, ringleader, patroness, and nourisher of many daughters, that losely copy after her. And abominations - Of every kind, spiritual and fleshly. Of the earth - In all lands. In this respect she is indeed catholic or universal.
Re 17:5 Upon her forehead [was] a name written. A title which told who she was and explained her character. MYSTERY. Making pretensions that the world cannot understand. See 2Th 2:7. BABYLON THE GREAT. Another name is given. She is the wicked city that carried the true Israel into bondage and persecuted them. See PNT "Re 14:8". THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS. Not only a harlot, but the mother of harlots. In connection with Babylon, the two-horned beast, and the scarlet woman, Revelation points out fornication, or harlotry, as one of their most prominent characteristics. In order that there may be no mistake about what is meant, it is well to determine the use of these terms in the Bible. ``Harlotry symbolizes uniformly the apostasy of God's church.''--Auberlen. ``The word harlot is used at least fifty times to describe spiritual fornication; that is, the corrupt doctrine and practices of the churches of Israel and Judah.''--Bishop Wordsworth. ``In eighteen out of twenty places where the figure occurs its import is that God's church and people had forsaken him.'' --Alford. ``There are only three places in the whole Bible where the figure is applied to heathen cities or nations; twice to Tyre, and once to Nineveh.''--Williams. The fact that uniform use (with the rarest exceptions) is to describe a falling away from God shows that the Scarlet Harlot is the symbol of a faithless, apostate church. One is signified, too, that is the mother of other false churches which have followed her ways.