Revelation 17:16: Only the 10 Kings Hate Babylon the Great?

Revelation 17:16

Revelation 17:16 is a verse that gave me some trouble in the past. I previously assumed that the verse indicated that the ten kings and the beast (Antichrist) would develop a hatred for Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire. Those of you who know I primarily use the King James Version to study Bible prophecy may wonder why I assumed that the ten kings and the beast will grow to hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire when that version’s rendering of Revelation 17:16 suggests that only the ten kings will hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire:

“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.” (Revelation 17:16)

In this article, I will explain why I mistakenly believed that the ten kings and the beast will grow to hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire when Revelation 17:16 states otherwise.

The main reason for the discrepancy is that I studied under the assumption that the Greek suggested that it is the ten kings and the beast who hate and destroy Babylon the Great. Here are some of the reasons why I studied under this assumption:

  • I have two New Testament commentaries that analyze Greek, Vincent’s Word Studies and Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament. Each of these commentaries suggest that the Greek text conveys the idea that the ten kings and the beast hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire. Vincent’s Word Studies suggests this idea while displaying the King James Bible’s rendering of Revelation 17:16 (specifically the phrase “upon the beast”).
  • In addition, I have read numerous scholarly articles that state that the ten kings and the beast hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire. The authors of these articles know far more about the Greek language than me, so I took their analysis of the Greek seriously.
  • A third, minor consideration was that many other Bible versions (like the New American Standard Bible) agree with the way that the different sources I mentioned above transcribe Revelation 17:16. I thought that there must be something in the Greek that makes these various sources (Greek commentaries, scholarly articles, and Bible versions) agree that the ten kings and the beast hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire.

I was curious about why the New Testament Greek language commentaries I mentioned and why other Bible versions suggest that the ten kings and the beast hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire when the King James Bible suggests that only the ten kings hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire. I looked into that and here is what I found.

First, the Textus Receptus (the Greek manuscript the King James Bible was primarily based on), is different than the Greek texts that other Bible versions are based on (the Westcott-Hort text and the Nestle-Aland text) when it comes to Revelation 17:16. The following table illustrates the difference between these Greek texts:

  • Note: The Greek highlighted in yellow is not found in the Westcott-Hort text and in the Nestle-Aland text while the Greek highlighted in turquoise is not found in the Textus Receptus:
Comparing Revelation 17:16 Across Three Major Greek Texts
Westcott-HortNestle-AlandTextus Receptus
και τα δεκα κερατα α ειδες και το θηριον ουτοι μισησουσιν την πορνην και ηρημωμενην ποιησουσιν αυτην και γυμνηνκαι τας σαρκας αυτης φαγονται και αυτην κατακαυσουσιν [εν] πυρι …και τα δεκα κερατα α ειδες και το θηριον ουτοι μισησουσιν την πορνην και ηρημωμενην ποιησουσιν αυτην και γυμνην και τας σαρκας αυτης φαγονται και αυτην κατακαυσουσιν εν πυρικαι τα δεκα κερατα α ειδες επι το θηριον ουτοι μισησουσιν την πορνην και ηρημωμενην ποιησουσιν αυτην και γυμνην και τας σαρκας αυτης φαγονται και αυτην κατακαυσουσιν εν πυρι …
Westcott-Hort and Textus Receptus Comparison: http://bit.ly/ouN4iw
Nestle-Aland: http://bit.ly/q0KO5x

The main difference that stands out to me is that the Westcott-Hort text and Nestle-Aland text use και instead of επι or “epi”. According to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, “epi” means “upon” in Greek.1 Again, I’m not an expert on the Greek language, but it appears that the lack of the word “epi” in the Westcott & Hort text and in the Nestle-Aland text is largely responsible for the difference between the King James Bible’s rendering of Revelation 17:16 (which says the ten kings upon the beast hate and destroy Babylon the Great) and the other Bible versions’ rendering of Revelation 17:16 (which tend to say that the ten kings and the beast hate and destroy Babylon the Great).

Reexamining the Greek Commentaries

I went to check which Greek text Vincent’s Word Studies and Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament used. This is what I found:

Vincent’s Word Studies Introduction:

I have not attempted textual criticism. I have followed principally the text of Westcott and Hort, comparing it with Tischendorf’s eighth edition, and commonly adopting any reading in which the two agree. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to say that the very literal and often uncouth renderings which frequently occur are given merely in order to throw sentences or phrases as nearly as possible into their Greek form, and are not suggested for adoption as versions. Each word or passage commented upon is cited first according to the authorized version.2

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament Preface

The words of the Canterbury Version will be used, sometimes with my own rendering added, and the transliterated Greek put in parenthesis. Thus one who knows no Greek can read straight ahead and get the point simply by skipping the Greek words which are of great value to those who do know some Greek. The text of Westcott and Hort will be used though not slavishly. Those who know Greek are expected to keep the Greek text open as they read or study these volumes. The publishers insisted on the transliteration to cut down the cost of printing.3

Both commentaries utilized the Westcott-Hort text instead of the Textus Receptus. This explains why those commentaries suggest that the ten kings and the beast hate Babylon the Great and destroy her with fire. This also explains why Vincent’s Word Studies suggests this idea while showing the King James Bible’s rendering of Revelation 17:16 (specifically the phrase “upon the beast”).

What to Make of All This

This article is not intended to provide an in-depth history of the King James Bible and other versions of the Bible that are out there or to recommend that people use a specific version of the Bible. However, I will touch upon the subject of which Bible version I personally would rely most on before I discuss how all this information impacts how I view Revelation 17:16.

I spent some time looking at background information concerning the Textus Receptus, the Westcott-Hort text, and the Nestle-Aland text. The main issue I have with the Wescott-Hort text and the Nestle-Aland text is that these texts delete words and verses that are found in the Textus Receptus. Here are a couple of examples:

Example 1

Westcott-HortNestle-AlandTextus Receptus
και επορευθησαν εις ετεραν κωμην …και επορευθησαν εις ετεραν κωμηνκαι ειπεν ουκ οιδατε οιου πνευματος εστε υμεις
9:56 ο γαρ υιος του ανθρωπου ουκ ηλθεν ψυχας ανθρωπων απολεσαι αλλα σωσαι και επορευθησαν εις ετεραν κωμην …
Westcott-Hort and Textus Receptus Comparison: http://bit.ly/ptb1uD
Nestle-Aland: http://bit.ly/oDnMvT

The verse in the table above is Luke 9:56, which says the following in the King James Bible:

For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:56)

Many Bible versions do not have “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” in Luke 9:56 because the Westcott-Hort text and the Nestle-Aland text do not include the Greek highlighted above.

Example 2

Westcott-HortNestle-AlandTextus Receptus
  18:11 ηλθεν γαρ ο υιος του ανθρωπου σωσαι το απολωλος
Westcott-Hort and Textus Receptus Comparison: http://bit.ly/pCKe7J
Nestle-Aland: http://bit.ly/q48dJc

The blank boxes above are not a result of me forgetting to put the Greek text in the boxes. The Westcott-Hort text and the Nestle-Aland text do not include Matthew 18:11, which says the following in the King James Bible:

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” (Matthew 18:11)

I do not know why the Nestle-Aland text and the Westcott-Hort text do not include Matthew 18:11. I think Matthew 18:11 is an important verse…

For this reason and others, I still prefer to use the King James Bible in my studies. I am not fully comfortable dealing with other Bible versions based on Greek texts that delete words and verses that appear in the Textus Receptus.

My View of Revelation 17:16

The research presented in this article helped me to shift my view of Revelation 17:16. I now believe that only the ten kings will grow to hate Babylon the Great and that only the ten kings will destroy her with fire. If you would like to learn how Babylon the Great will corrupt the world, click this link for my article on the topic.

  1. Epi Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries: G1909
  2. Vincent, Marvin. Vincent’s Word Studies. 1886 http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/cmt/vws/int000.htm
  3. Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 1930

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Paul Fishman
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Paul Fishman

This is amazing! Even the Antichrist who was born of a whore hates ALL whores and will destroy them. Revelation 17:16 is so powerful. I Cor 6:9 warns us that the unrighteous, fornicators, whores and homosexuals will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. Even comedians with foul talk are included. These scriptures are very clear about holy living and preaching the Gospel. Judgement will for sure come from God through even the Antichrist and satan.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

2

johns718
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johns718

Some of my above post was cut off, but I was directing this comment to the mod.

johns718
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johns718

has some good information on this subject. The author believes that the second “him” in verse 40 refers to the nearest antecedent,which would be the first “him”. If this is true, your interpretation is correct and the king of the north will attack the Antichrist along with the king of the south. Additionally, according to the author, the original Hebrew text invertsthe phrases “king of the north” and “against him”, which would make the “he” in verse 40 also pertain to the king of the north, its nearest antecedent in the original Hebrew text. If all of this is correct,… Read more »

johns718
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johns718

Wayne: <a href=”http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/otesources/27-daniel/Text/Articles/Harton-Dan11-GTJ.pdf”>Grace Theological Journal 4.2</a> has some good information on this subject. The author believes that the second “him” in verse 40 refers to the nearest antecedent, which would be the first “him”. If this is true, your interpretation is correct and the king of the north will attack the Antichrist along with the king of the south. Additionally, according to the author, the original Hebrew text inverts the phrases “king of the north” and “against him”, which would make the “he” in verse 40 also pertain to the king of the north, its nearest antecedent in the original… Read more »

johns718
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johns718

As for 38-39 describing the abomination of desolation, that seems very logical, given the language. Verse 40 still confuses me. Who is “him” — not the first “him”, but the second “him”? In other words, is the king of the north coming against the Antichrist or the king of the south? Some rules of interpretation would be nice here. I am currently reading it as the king of the north will come against the king of the south, and then the Antichrist will go on about his business.

Wayne Croley
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I’m currently restudying the topic of Antichrist’s empire so you’ve given me something else to consider.

Wayne Croley
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Interestingly, I spent some time this week examining Daniel 11:36-39. My current theory about Daniel 11:36-39 is that it focuses on Antichrist up to the abomination of desolation point with verses 38-39 adding detail to the actual scene involving the abomination of desolation.

I think Daniel 11:40 onward focuses on the Antichrist facing challenges from the north and south. I used to think Antichrist was the king of the north, but Daniel 11:40 mentions how the king of the south will push against “him” and the king of the north will come against “him”.

johns718
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johns718

I think I need to make some corrections to my above posts, so I do not mislead anyone unintentionally. One thing that seems wrong with my interpretation of Daniel 11:36-45 is that the army described in Daniel 11:40 seems too great for any Syrian army (at least in modern times and historically). Maybe the meaning of “the king of the north” really does change in verse 40. That would seem somewhat strange to me, since Egypt still appears to be implied as the king of the south (or at least it is still being mentioned after verse 40). Additionally, I… Read more »

johns718
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johns718

Might I also add that I believe “the king” will originate from Syria, but establish his kingdom somewhere along the Euphrates in Iraq.

I have my thoughts on what exact institutions will give rise to the Antichrist, but I do not feel comfortable mentioning them on your blog.

Suffice to say that II Thessalonians 2:3-4 speak volumes (as does the entire chapter). The key to what I’m talking about lies in the fact that the remnants of the four Greek Diadochs once became Christianized as the Eastern Roman Empire. I won’t say anymore for now.

johns718
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johns718

This is the way I read Daniel 11:36-45: Somewhere in the latter part of the 70th week Egypt, the king of the south, will instigate war with “the king” (the Antichrist). Syria, the king of the north, on behalf of “the king”, will come against Egypt and defeat it. Egypt will then be back under control of the Antichrist. I no longer believe that the king of the north is Gog, but rather Syria. I am now simply staying in context with the rest of Daniel 11, which makes more sense to me. “The king” could be enthroned somewhere between… Read more »

johns718
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johns718

Very likely, the king of the north and the king of the south are two of the ten kings. Why? Staying in context with the rest of Daniel 11 — which is only logical in my humble opinion — would have the king of the north as Syria and the king of the south as Egypt. We see that the beast is “like unto a leopard”. Most of us agree that the four heads of the leopard were Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Greece under the Ptolemies, Seleucids, Attallids, and Antigonids, respectively (some people vary with the dynasties, but the territories… Read more »

Wayne Croley
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The civil war idea is something that I think is going to happen. I currently see the sixth trumpet as the most likely time period for that to begin. However, I’m not so sure that the Antichrist will be fighting against the ten kings initially. At the moment, I think the king of the north and the king of the south could be separate from the ten kings. I think the ten kings could potentially betray the Antichrist just before Armageddon begins.

johns718
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johns718

Very true. Daniel 11: 40-45 appears to confirm both Matthew 12:26 and Habakkuk 2 as they might pertain to the anti-Christ’s kingdom, indicating civil war within his kingdom. Perhaps the ten kings destroy the harlot duringthis infighting. Two things appear to be certain: there is civil war within the kingdom of the anti-Christ before the final battle; and the ten kings are united with the anti-Christ in the final battle (Revelation 17:14). Perhapsthis indicates that civil war breaks out within the anti-Christ’s kingdom in which the ten kings destroy Babylon, but the anti-Christ is subsequently ableto reunite his kingdom prior… Read more »

Wayne Croley
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Matthew 12:26 is a verse that I think will have significant application during the latter portion of the end times. Take a look at Habakkuk 2. I think that chapter could be very relevant.