And there came one
of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying
unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great
whore that sitteth upon many waters:
1. Here begins an interruption in the flow of events of John’s narrative, an interlude if you will. But it is a very important interlude that John uses to explain some of the things not yet mentioned in the Revelation.
2. Who is this great whore which sitteth upon many waters? It seems ridiculous to think of a description of a literal whore sitting upon “many waters.” Thus, the “many waters” is very likely a symbolic reference to the great mass of Gentile humanity. If that be true, the whore here is descriptive of some great system. Verses 15 and 16 will confirm this.
3. Let me read from The New American Bible, which is a Catholic edition. I read the authority behind this edition.
a. First, the title page:
THE NEW AMERICAN
Translated from the
Original Languages with Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources by members
of the Catholic Biblical Association of America, SPONSORED THE BISHOP’S
COMMITTEE OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
b. On the next page are a series of “nihil obstats” for the text, for the Bible text, for the Dictionary and Appendices, and for the “Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (Bible Facts). These “nihil obstats” signify that there is nothing objectionable to the Roman Catholic theologians attesting.
c. On the same page are what are called “imprimaturs” which signify the authority which this Bible was published in its finished form. The “imprimaturs” are from the Archbishop of Washington, the Administrator, Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Archbishop of Westminster.
d. So you see, I am not reading from some pamphlet produced by some renegade priest who is at odds with the Roman Catholic hierarchy. This version of the Bible is fully backed by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, including a statement signed by the pope at the time of publication, Paul VI:
For the faithful in all English-speaking countries the publication of The New American Bible represents a notable achievement. Its pages contain a new Catholic version of the Bible in English, along with illustrations and explanations that facilitate the understanding of the text.
For more than a ¼ of a century, members of the Catholic Bible Association of America, sponsored by the Bishops Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, have labored to create this new translation of the Scriptures from the original languages or from the oldest extant form in which the texts exist.
In so doing, the translators have carried out the directive of our predecessor, Pius XII in his famous encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, and the decree of the Second Vatican Counsel (Dei Verbum), which prescribed that “up-to-date and appropriate translations be made in the various languages, by preference from the original texts of the sacred books”, and that “with the approval of Church authority, these translations may be produced in cooperation with our separated brethren” so that “all Christians may be able to use them”.
The holy task of spreading God’s Word to the widest possible readership has a special urgency today. Despite all his material achievements, man still struggles with the age-old problems of how to order his life for the glory of God, for the welfare of his fellows and the salvation of his soul. Therefore we are gratified to find in this new translation of the Scriptures a new opportunity for men to give themselves to frequent reading of, and meditation on, the living Word of God. In its pages we recognize His voice, we hear a message of deep significance for every one of us. Through the spiritual dynamism and prophetic force of the Bible, the Holy Spirit spreads his light and his warmth over all men, in whatever historical or sociological situation they find themselves.
On all who have contributed to this translation, and all who seek in its pages the sacred teaching and the promise of salvation of Jesus Christ our Lord, we gladly bestow our paternal Apostolic Blessing
From the Vatican, September 18, 1970
Paulus P. P. VI
4. Now let me read the marginal notes for Revelation 17.1-6: “Babylon, a symbolic name (v. 5) of Rome, is graphically described as the great harlot.”
5. Is it not interesting that the Roman Catholic position is that this whore is Rome? You see, the Roman Catholic Church maintains that the whore is the pagan religion of Rome prior to Catholicism’s emergence as the dominant force in religion.
6. I agree with all that, except for one thing Rome fails to mention: Catholicism is that very same paganism which existed under Rome’s emperors, except for a few outward cosmetic changes and a change in the name of the organization.
7. What John is talking about here is Roman Catholicism. Subsequent verses will support this contention.