An analysis of Revelation 17's seven kings. Addresses various interpretations, past and present, and endeavors to narrow the possibilities down to one. Revelation 17
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Panorama of Prophecy
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"And There Are Seven Kings"

Who Are These Seven Kings?

by Bob Pickle

  1. Introduction
  2. When Are Five Fallen?
  3. Several Possibilities Ruled Out
  4. The Ten Kings
  5. The Seven Kings
  6. One Possibility Left
  7. Significance of the Crowns
  8. Search for a Common Tie
  9. This Beast, That Beast, Which Beast?
  10. Verse-by-Verse Analysis
  11. Opinions of Other Writers
  12. Questions and Answers

Introduction

In Revelation 17, John sees a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored beast. This beast has seven heads and ten horns. Who is the woman and what are the heads?

And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. (Rev. 17:18)

And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. (Rev. 17:9)

The city that reigned over the kings of the earth for so long and which sits on seven hills is unquestionably Rome. Somehow connected with this scene are seven kings:

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. (Rev. 17:10)

It is these seven kings that we want to deal with in this paper. Basically, there are three different interpretations that could be considered about who these seven kings are:

  1. Seven Individual Kings: This interpretation has a couple variations. Some try to identify seven individual emperors (a typical preterist view), and others seven individual popes.
  2. Seven Kingdoms: This interpretation typically identifies the first five kings either as being Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Pagan Rome, and Papal Rome; or as being Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece.
  3. Seven Forms of Roman Government: This interpretation typically identifies the first five kings as being five of the following forms of government: a) kings, b) consuls, c) dictators, d) decemvirate, e) military tribunes with consular power, and f) triumvirate.

When Are Five Fallen?

One of the most important questions that needs to be answered is: When is it true that five kings have fallen? Is this something that is true in John's day or at the end of time?

Revelation 17 is much like Daniel 11. While most of the prophecies of these books are dreams and visions of pictorial scenes, these two chapters are largely conversations between an angel and the prophet. 

We do have another example on a smaller scale of this kind of thing in Revelation 11:

And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. . . .

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Rev. 11:3, 7)

Notice the future tenses. The one speaking to John places both the preaching and the slaying of the two witnesses into the future. Thus the time context of the conversation with John is prior to those events. And yet:

And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Rev. 11:11, 12)

Notice the past tenses. Now John is describing what he actually saw in the vision, not a conversation with some heavenly being. He describes scenes he saw of the future as if they were already past.

When John describes scenes of the future that he saw, he describes them as being past. When John records a conversation explaining future events, he describes those events as if they are yet future. We may safely conclude that the time context of such a conversation is John's day. Thus, when the angel speaks to John in Revelation 17 about the five kings being already fallen, he is speaking of them already being fallen in John's day, not at the end of time.

We could have looked at other passages in Revelation to arrive at the same conclusion, but it may be significant that we used Revelation 11, for it is only in Revelation 11 and in Revelation 17 that we find an explicit statement about a beast arising out of a bottomless pit.

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Rev. 11:7)

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. . . .

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit . . . . (Rev. 17:3, 8)

One last thought on this matter:

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. (Rev. 17:3, 8, 12)

John saw scenes of a beast and horns as if they already existed. After this, he is told that the beast doesn't yet exist again, and that the horns have no kingdom yet. So he saw them as if they already existed, but he is told they don't exist yet. This would be true if the time context of the angel's conversation was in John's day.

Several Possibilities Ruled Out

If five kings were already fallen in John's day, we can narrow down the possibilities for the identification of the seven kings. The idea that they are seven popes is out, as well as the idea that they are seven kingdoms beginning with Babylon. If they are indeed seven kingdoms, the sequence would have to start with Egypt, for if we start the sequence with Babylon, only the three kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece would be fallen in John's day.

In considering the idea of the seven heads representing seven individual emperors, those holding this view have differing opinions about which seven are intended, depending on when it is believed that John wrote his book. Here are three different lists that have been given: 

  1. Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and Galba.
  2. Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, and Titus.
  3. Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, and Nerva.

The problem with the last two lists is that there doesn't seem to be any logical reason to exclude the emperors prior to Claudius and Galba. Why not include Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula? But that would then give us too many kings.

The first list necessitates that John be exiled to Patmos during the reign of Nero, which seems unlikely. Julius Caesar was never really an emperor. And what would be the point of ending with Galba? What would be the point of the prophecy?

The Ten Kings

Daniel 7:24 also speaks of ten horns representing ten kings, which parallels Daniel 2's ten toes. Of those toes we are told:

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Dan. 2:44)

These ten kings arise out of the fourth kingdom in both Daniel 2 and 7. (The four kingdoms are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.) When Rome broke up in the fifth century, ten nations arose in western Europe, most of which still exist today. What Daniel 2:44 is telling us is that these kingdoms will still be around when Jesus returns at His second coming. Clearly, the ten kings of Daniel 2 and 7 are still around at the end of time.

If the ten horns of Revelation 17 are also ten kings at the end of time, they must be the same ten kings as those in Daniel 2 and 7. Otherwise we would have to have twenty kings, two sets of ten, at the end of time.

The Seven Kings

Where should we look to find the seven kings? We'll glean some possible answers by looking at Rome's seven hills and her history.

The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. (Rev. 17:9)

The names of these seven hills are:

  1. Aventine
  2. Palatine
  3. Capitoline
  4. Caelian
  5. Quirinal
  6. Viminal
  7. Esquiline

To this list we can add an eighth. More on that later.

There are supposed to have been seven kings reigning in Rome before the Roman Republic was founded around 509 BC:

  1. Romulus
  2. Numa Pompilius
  3. Tullus Hostilius
  4. Ancus Marcius
  5. Lucius Priscus Tarquinius
  6. Servius Tullius
  7. Lucius Tarquinius Superbus

To this list we can add an eighth. Titus Tatius ruled jointly with Romulus after the Sabines, of whom he was king, united with the Romans.

The history or legend of Rome's founding tells us this about the kings and the hills:

  1. Romulus first built on the Palatine
  2. and the Capitoline.
  3. When Tullus defeated the Albans, the Caelian was included in the city. 
  4. Ancus annexed the Aventine to the city limits.
  5. Servius added to the city the Quirinal,
  6. the Viminal, 
  7. and later the Esquiline.

While the Emperor Aurelian during his reign from 270-275 AD extended Rome's walls further than these hills, the old "Wall of Servius" included just these seven (most of the Caelian and the Esquiline, and all of the other five) within Rome's limits. This Wall of Servius was named after the sixth king who had supposedly extended the walls that far, but modern authorities feel it was built after the Gauls destroyed Rome in 390 BC. Regardless of which is true, in John's day there were just seven hills enclosed by the walls of Rome.

One Possibility Left

Since all of  the seven original kings of Rome were kings of Rome, and since all the seven hills of Rome were within the walls of Rome, it would make sense for the seven kings of Revelation 17 to also all be in some way a part of Rome. This suggests that we should consider the idea that the seven kings of Revelation 17 are seven forms of government within Rome.

Significance of the Crowns

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (Rev. 12:3)

The crowns are upon the heads. Why?

While the dragon is primarily Satan, it is also secondarily pagan Rome, since it was through pagan Rome that Satan persecuted the church after Christ's ascension (Rev. 12:5, 6, 12, 13). Since pagan Rome had a strong central government, having crowns upon the seven heads of the dragon makes sense.

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. (Rev. 13:1)

No crowns are upon the heads. Instead, they are upon the horns. Why?

Papal Rome was not the strong central government that pagan Rome had been. Papal Rome consisted of independent, sovereign nations held together by a common religion headed by the pope. Crowns upon the horns instead of upon the heads symbolized this fact. It was the horns that were sovereign, not the beast itself.

A similar picture is found in Daniel 2. Clay holds together iron fragments, somewhat, in the feet and toes. Likewise, the beast holds together, somewhat, the ten horns with their crowns. During the Middle Ages what unity there was between the nations of Europe was only somewhat. It was the papacy that provided a unifying force, but whatever unity was achieved was never complete. Constantly there was political intrigue, political differences, and outright war.

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. (Rev. 17:3)

The beast of Revelation 17 has no crowns at all, suggesting that the form of government being represented by this beast is one that has no king. Indeed, this thought is not new.

"The beast that was," denotes the ROMAN REPUBLIC, that was 1900 years ago. "And is not." That is, it was not when John was having his vision in A. D. 96, because Imperial Rome was then the form of government, and continued to be until A. D. 538, when the seventh form of government came, viz: Papal Rome. "Even he is the eighth." The eighth undoubtedly is, as we have shown, the two-horned beast with its image, a symbol of the people of Republican America, as they are and will be. "And is of the seven." The eighth will cause all under his influence to worship the one that is called the seventh. (Joseph Bates, Advent Review, 8/5/1851, p.4)

The present author would differ a little with the above, but the point is that Bates identified the beast of Revelation 17, the one without crowns, as being a republic, a revival of the republicanism of old Rome, a republicanism that was dead at the time John wrote the book of Revelation. This coincides with the idea that the absence of crowns indicates a government that has no king.

Search for a Common Tie

Four passages are linguistically tied together in Revelation, while their typical interpretations have been totally unrelated.

And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. (Rev. 9:11)

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Rev. 11:7)

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: (Rev. 17:8)

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. (Rev. 13:11)

Typically, historicists have identified the beast from the bottomless pit in chapter 11 as being France during its Revolution, while the beast from the bottomless pit of chapter 17 has been identified as a revived papacy. The king, the angel of the bottomless pit of chapter 9, has been identified in some way with Islam (see "The Seven Trumpets of Revelation, Were the Later Reformers Right?"). The beast of Revelation 13 that has no crowns on either his head or his horns, just like the beast of Revelation 17, has been identified with the United States. Four very different interpretations. Is there nothing that ties these symbols together?

There indeed is something, and that something is republicanism. An atheistic brand of republicanism or democracy wrecked havoc during the French Revolution. A Protestant brand of republicanism gave birth to the freedoms found in the United States. And the Moslems?

In Mecca despotism was impossible. The fierce, free-born Arabs of the desert would tolerate no master, and their innate democracy had been sanctioned by the Prophet, who had explicitly declared that all Believers were Brothers. The Meccan caliphate was a theocratic democracy. Abu Bekr and Omar were elected by the people, and held themselves responsible to public opinion . . . . (Lothrop Stoddard, The New World of Islam 6, 7)

So when we read, "And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition" (Rev. 17:11), we are reading about a confederacy of republics, a revival of the republican form of government of old Rome. Republicanism and democracy is the only conceivable tie between the four passages.

This Beast, That Beast, Which Beast?

Revelation talks about the dragon and several beasts. How do we keep from confusing one beast with another?

Revelation 13 gives us a clue. The first beast of Revelation 13:1-10 seems to be consistently called throughout the book "the beast." The second beast of 13:11 is identified as "another beast," and then is never called a "beast" again. Instead, to prevent confusion, he is called the "false prophet" in Revelation 16:13; 19:20; and 20:10. In all three of these passages he appears along side "the beast." Both are pictured together. One is called "the beast," and the other is called "the false prophet."

What this suggests is that whenever we read about "the beast," we must be reading about the first beast of Revelation 13.

If John sees things that he has already seen before, he prefaces his words with "the." If he is seeing something new, he omits the "the."

So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast . . . . (Rev. 17:3)

Apparently John is indicating that he is seeing something new, something different than "the beast" he saw in Revelation 16:13. We would then expect that in every place afterwards where the first beast of Revelation 13 is intended, he will be identified as "the beast." In every place where the beast of Revelation 17 is intended, some sort of qualifier will be added to enable us to distinguish him from the first beast of Revelation 13.

What makes this more apparent is the fact that Revelation 16:13 pictures the dragon, beast, and false prophet all involved in getting people to the Battle of Armageddon. Then we have the scarlet beast of Revelation 17. Then we have an actual picture of the Battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19:19 ff., in which the dragon, beast, and false prophet are all seen. Clearly, the beast of 16:13 must be the same as the beast of 19:20. In as much as the scarlet beast of chapter 17 is "a beast" instead of "the beast," he must be a totally different beast set apart by some sort of qualifiers wherever he is mentioned.

Verse-by-Verse Analysis

And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. (Rev. 17:7)

Which beast? Clearly the qualifier identifies this beast as the one John just saw, the scarlet beast.

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev. 17:8)

Which beast? The scarlet beast. Republicanism was the order of the day before Augustus Caesar. It was not in John's day. It would ascend and be a dominant force in the end.

Interestingly, not until World War I did this even begin to come true (though it almost did during the revolutions of 1848). During World War I, the monarchies of Turkey, Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia all met their demise, and the world has been marching on toward a confederacy of republics and democracies ever since. Not that communist Russia fit the bill, but that's where the world has been heading ever since World War I.

And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. (Rev. 17:9, 10)

As mentioned before, the interpretation being suggested here typically identifies the first five kings as being five of the following forms of government: a) kings, b) consuls, c) dictators, d) decemvirate, e) military tribunes with consular power, and f) triumvirate. Some expositors have left out military tribunes, and others have left out the triumvirate, but both of these were legitimate heads of the government at one time or another. Perhaps the simplest solution to needing to choose five of the six is to start with the founding of the Republic in 509 BC. This then leaves out the monarchial from of government from the list. Would this be permissible?

The records of the seven monarchs who reigned before the Republic start with Romulus. His father was said to be the god Mars, and he was suckled as an infant by a she-wolf. Obviously, there are aspects of the story that are fictitious. For such reasons, the list of seven kings is often called "legendary."

The last three of the seven monarchs were Etruscans, not Romans. After the founding of the Republic in 509 BC, we have Rome being ruled by Romans. This suggests that perhaps we should start the five at that time.

Daniel 7:7 said that Rome was diverse from all other beasts before it, and it was. Babylon, Persia, and the Grecian Empire founded by Alexander did not repeatedly change their form of government like Rome did. They also were monarchies, not republics. Rome indeed was diverse.

. . . and one is . . . . (Rev. 17:10)

The imperial form of government was the one that existed in John's day. This would be the sixth head.

. . . and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. (Rev. 17:10)

Some have suggested that the seventh head was the Exarch of Ravenna. Since he didn't rule from Rome, this does not seem likely. Each of the seven heads should be a form of government that ruled from the seven hilled city of Rome.

It therefore seems more probable that this seventh head is the medieval papacy. Yet how could his 1260-year-long reign be considered a short space?

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (Rev. 12:12) 

This is spoken probably soon after Christ's ascension (Rev. 12:5). The "short time" the devil has would then last from Christ's ascension to the end of time. If the last 2000 years can be called a "short time," surely 1260 years can be called a "short space."

And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. (Rev. 17:11)

Which beast? The qualifier points back to verse 8, which in turn pointed us to the scarlet beast. So the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 must be the "eighth king."

Interestingly, there is an eighth hill of great significance over at Rome. It sits across on the other side of the Tiber River from the original seven. It is the Vatican. Aurelian's walls never surrounded it. Until around 850 AD, it sat outside of Rome. After the papacy returned from Avignon, France, in the 1370's, the Vatican Hill became the headquarters for the papacy.

Thus we have a prophecy that the world in the end of time will become a conglomeration of republics and democracies under the spiritual leadership of the a papacy, the grand headquarters of which will be upon the eighth hill.

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. (Rev. 17:12)

A popular rendering of the phrase "one hour" has been "at the same time." Thus these ten kings, already identified with the ten toes and horns of Daniel 2 and 7, receive their kingdom at the same time as the beast.

Which beast? Since there are no qualifiers here, the beast referred to would be the first beast of chapter 13, not the scarlet beast of chapter 17. That being so, we have a picture here of the ten nations of western Europe coming to power at the same time as the papacy did, and that is precisely what happened during the fifth century.

These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. (Rev. 17:13)

This indeed happened during the Middle Ages, but it would appear that the prophet is speaking more specifically of end-time events. Thus we have a prediction that the ten horns, now republics and democracies instead of monarchies, will again surrender their sovereignty in some way to the papal power.

Similar wording is used in verse 17:

For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. (Rev. 17:17)

The woman who sits upon the scarlet beast must certainly be a representation of at least the papacy. Thus when the ten kings give their kingdom to the beast, this is the same as saying that they are giving their kingdom to the woman. For this reason she was pictured riding upon the scarlet beast, whom she had under her control. Yet a predicted change is to come:

And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. (Rev. 17:15)

The very ones who gave her her power would be the instruments of taking it away. Thus it was in 1798. The French nation was to a large extent responsible for the papacy's initial power. That very same nation took that power away.

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Rev. 17:14)

We are thus given a view of the political landscape of the world at the time of the battle of Armageddon. Under the spiritual leadership of the papacy, a conglomeration of republics and democracies unite in rebellion against the mild and beneficient rule of Christ.

Opinions of Other Writers

In all fairness I should acknowledge those who have expressed similar opinions before me.

W. B. Godbey in his Commentary on the New Testament says regarding Revelation 12:3:

The seven heads and seven diadems emblematize the seven governments of Rome, the mighty empire of Satan; i.e., the kings, consuls, dictators, triumvirs, tribunes, emperors, and popes, who ruled the world two thousand years. The ten horns are the ten great political powers into which the Roman world was disintegrated when the barbarians dethroned the Csars.

Regarding Revelation 17:11, he states:

The kings, consuls, dictators, triumvirs, tribunes, emperors, and popes constitute the seven heads of the Roman beast.

Godbey specifies the reign of the seventh, the popes, as being 1260 years. He identifies the beast who is an eighth as being the papacy in the end of time.

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible states regarding Revelation 17:7-14:

This beast was seven heads, seven mountains, the seven hills on which Rome stands; and seven kings, seven sorts of government. Five were gone by when this prophecy was written; one was then in being; the other was yet to come. This beast, directed by the papacy, makes an eighth governor, and sets up idolatry again.

Family New Testament Notes on Revelation 17:10:

This is understood by many as representing the seven forms of civil government which prevailed in Rome—kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, military tribunes, emperors, and the exarchate of Ravenna; for here, as in verse 12, a king denotes not an individual, but a succession of rulers.

The learned Baptist commentator John Gill on Revelation 17:10:

... but by the seven heads are meant so many forms of government which took place successively in the Roman empire, and were all of them idolatrous heads, as kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, tribunes, emperors, and popes; it being usual for any sort of governors, or governments and monarchies, to be called kings, ...

Adam Clarke, the prominent Wesleyan commentator, states on 6B:1167 of his work:

The seven heads of the beast are therefore the following: The regal power, the dictatorship, the power of the praetors, the consulate, the triumvirate, the imperial power, and the patriciate.

Uriah Smith wrote an entire tract on the subject. Regarding Osiander he writes:

And one of the earliest Protestant commentators, Osiander, as early as 1511, names the whole seven as we have them; namely, Kings, Consuls, Decemvirs, Dictators, Triumvirs, Emperors, and Popes, as the forms of Roman government represented by the seven heads of the dragon of Revelation 12, and the seven-headed beasts of Revelation 13 and Revelation 17. (The Seven Heads 2)

He also writes concerning Elliot, and in the process refers to the views of Mede, Newton, Daubuz, King James, Pareus, Aretius, Napier, Brightman, and Fulco:

Elliott, in his Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. 3, page 102, introduces an argument to show that "all the mutations of the seven-headed beast, from its earliest beginning to the end, must be confined to the seven-hilled locality;" that is, to Rome. As to the application of the seven heads themselves, he further says on page 106: "In explanation, then, of the first six heads, I adopt, with the most entire satisfaction, that generally  received Protestant interpretation, which, following the authoritative statements of Livy and Tacitus (the latter great historian John's own contemporary), enumerates Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs, and Military Tribunes, and the five first constitutional heads of the Roman city and commonwealth; then, as the sixth, the Imperial head, commencing with Octavian, better known as Augustus Caesar." He then refers to the view of Mede and Bishop Newton, that the seventh head was the dukedom of Rome, under the Exarchate of Ravenna, about sixty years. Page 110. Further, on pages 119-121, he presents evidence to show that the papacy is the last, or eighth, head. ... A footnote on the words, "generally received Protestant interpretation," page 106, as quoted above, presents these facts: "Daubuz, page 514, attributes its discovery to King James. But I find it noticed in the early Protestant commentator, Pareus, page 422, as the solution of Aretius, Napier, and Brightman; each of whom probably - some of them certainly - preceded King James. ... 

Again he quotes a work by Fulco on the Apocalypse, London, 1573, who, writing in Latin, gives the Latin name of the seven heads, as follows: "Reges, Consules, Decemviri, Triumviri, Dectatores, Caesares, Pontifex" (the pope). (The Seven Heads 38,39)

William Miller expressed two different opinions on the matter:

Republican Rome had five different offices under that particular form of government--her senatorial, tribunate, consular, decemvir, and tirumvirate. These are fallen. One is, (that was when John wrote his prophecy,) Imperial, and the other had not yet come, Kingly, which is the same as the ten horns. ( Miller's Works 2:80) 

IN this verse we are taught that John had a vision, and saw himself standing among the tumultuous nations of the earth; and he saw the Roman kingdom rise up out of the nations, having seven forms, or all kinds of governments, seven being a perfect number in this prophecy. Heads denote governments, or supreme power: 1, Republican; 2, Consular; 3, Decemvir; 4, Dictatorial; 5, Triumvirate; 6, Imperial; 7, Kingly. (Remarks on Revelation Thirteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth 5)

Questions and Answers

Q. Can the word "fallen" refer to governments? Should it not be applied to the death of individuals instead?

A. In Acts 15:16, it is most definitely used to refer to a form of government which has lost its power. As far as individuals go, it may be doubtful that the word "fallen" can refer to a natural death. If we interpret the seven kings as either seven emperors or seven popes, we would have to have at least some of the first five dying natural deaths, and then how could it be said that they had "fallen"?

Q. I've heard that we should start the sequence of seven kings in 1929. What about this?

A. A simple problem with this idea is that the seven popes identified as coming after 1929 never ruled the seven hills. The papacy lost control of the seven hills of Rome in 1870 for the last time. It seems more appropriate to start the sequence while the woman still controlled the seven hills.

Another problem is that we would then have the horns coming before the heads. Unquestionably the ten horns must be the same as the ten toes and horns of Daniel 2 and 7. If the heads don't come until 1929, then the horns predate the heads by over 1400 years, for the horns all arose in the fifth century.

Q. Are you sure that we are talking about two different beasts in Revelation 17, "the beast" and the scarlet beast?

A. We have two possibilities: Either this one or the possibility that the beast that ascends from the bottomless pit in chapter 11 is not the same as the one that ascends from the bottomless pit in chapter 17. Though both possibilities seem a bit awkward, which is the more plausible of the two?

If the scarlet beast of chapter 17 is the papacy, it cannot also be the beast that slays the witnesses in chapter 11 (cf. Great Controversy 268, 269). Yet in chapter 17 we definitely have the papacy brought to view (SDA Bible Commentary 7:983). It appears that it is the woman that is the papacy, not the beast she is riding upon (Ibid.). Thus we have the woman of Revelation 17 representing the same power as the first beast of Revelation 13, while the scarlet beast represents something that is supporting her at some point in time.

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Pickle Publishing
1354 County Road 21
Halstad, Minnesota 56548
(218) 456-2568
www.pickle-publishing.com

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