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.

Why the Discrepancy

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-Hort Nestle-Aland Textus 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 πυρι και 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-Hort Nestle-Aland Textus Receptus
και επορευθησαν εις ετεραν κωμην … και επορευθησαν εις ετεραν κωμην και 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-Hort Nestle-Aland Textus 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: Babylon the Great: Insight into Mystery Babylon

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Notes

  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

24 thoughts on “Revelation 17:16: Only the 10 Kings Hate Babylon the Great?”

  1. 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.

  2. 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 Hebrew text.

    If all of this is correct, verse 40 could be paraphrased in this manner: ”At the time of the end the king of the south and the king of the north will attack the Antichrist. The king of the north will have with him a great army with many chariots, horsemen, and ships and will enter into the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through them.

    The author also brings up a good point as to why neither Syria nor Turkey seem to fit the description of “the king of the north”, inferring
    that the king of the north must “enter into the countries” and “many countries shall be overthrown”. Both Syria and Israel are geographically too close to Israel (presumably
    where the Antichrist will be at the time) to enter into or overthrow many countries.

    I am more and more beginning to lean toward your interpretation of this passage, but I still have a lot of unanswered questions regarding
    the following verses and the timing of everything. Thanks for your help so far.

  3. 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 Hebrew text.

    If this is correct, verse 40 could be paraphrased in
    this manner: ”At the time of the end the king of the south and the king of the north will attack the Antichrist. The king of the north will have with him a great army with many chariots, horsemen, and ships and will enter into the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through them.

    The author also brings up a good point as to why neither Syria nor Turkey seem to fit the description of “the king of the north”, inferring that the king of the north must “enter into the countries” and “many countries shall be overthrown”. Both Syria and Israel are geographically too close to Israel (presumably
    where the Antichrist will be at the time) to enter into or overthrow many countries.

    I am more and more beginning to lean toward your
    interpretation of this passage, but I still have a lot of unanswered questions regarding the following verses and the timing of everything. Thanks for your help so far.

  4. 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.

  5. 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”.

  6. 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 should correct my above post that seems to imply that Iraq is located between Syria and Egypt. That would not exactly be correct. However, I still feel that the Antichrist could be headquartered there before he comes into Israel.

    If Gog is the king of the north, I cannot currently discern whether he is for or against the Antichrist. The language of Daniel 11:36-45 is confusing in that respect.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 the king of the north and the king of the south — perhaps in a rebuilt Babylon (whatever city fulfills that prophecy).

  9. 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 still correspond to these same modern-day countries) .

    The difference with the future beast is that *all seven* of its heads belong to the leopard! Thus, the bear, the lion, and the fourth beast will all belong to the leopard (thus the three kings subdued), in addition to Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Greece. Therefore, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Greece are undoubtedly part of the future leopard (as well as Europe, Iran, and Iraq). Egypt and Syria are also very likely the same kings of the north and south referred to in 1-35 before the Antichrist is introduced.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 during
    this 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). Perhaps
    this 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 able
    to reunite his kingdom prior to Armageddon.

    I did not give much credence to this interpretation at first, because Revelation 17:17 indicate that the ten kings were in agreement with the anti-Christ when they
    desolated the city: “God hath put it in their hearts to…agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” However, after further consideration, this verse may simply be indicating that the first step in the desolation of the city was for the ten kings to “agree and give their kingdoms to the beast”. Perhaps they destroyed the city after they felt taken by the anti-Christ.

    If this is the correct interpretation, then my previous
    comment about the anti-Christ inadvertently compelling the ten kings to destroy the city would obviously be wrong.

  12. 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.

  13. I have been studying this prophecy for three years now. I often have questioned the ten kings’ motivation in destroying the harlot.

    Your comments renewed my thoughts on the matter, and something occurred to me for the first time as I was reading them. In Matthew 12:26, Jesus states, “And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” I think it is quite possible that the beast unwillingly compels the ten kings to destroy the whore through God’s intentions.

  14. I’m evaluating the possibility of two judgments for Babylon the Great at the moment. The main issue for me when looking at a two judgments scenario is trying to figure out how much damage would Babylon the Great incur in a potential first judgment. The complete destruction of Babylon the Great in a potential first judgment seems too much to me. If the city was destroyed in the first judgment then I imagine the kings of the earth, sailors, merchants, etc would mourn like it is described in Revelation 18. At the moment, I do not think the kings of the earth, sailors, merchants, etc do not mourn until the seventh vial judgment when they see Babylon the Great’s smoke. I could be wrong about all this. I’m still looking at the issue.

  15. daygostyle619ph

    Very thought provoking questions Connie. The timing of Mystery Babylons fall is the key to understanding a lot of end-time prophecy I believe. I believe Babylons destruction comes in 2 waves of judgments. The first judgment is the fiery flame judgment of an all-out nuclear attack led by the kings of the north, 2 of the kings for sure are Russia and Iran, who the other 8 are still under further investigation. This first attack will lay the land of Babylon desolate. The cry of all those who traded with her will reverberate around the world. When she is laid desolate the earth will literally move. This will be the signal that the end-times are real short, because after that attack the 10 kings will give their strength and power unto the beast and then he will rise.

    Sidenote, the AC will put down 3 of the 10 kings after he rises. What 3 kings these will be, idk at the moment. “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he
    shall subdue three kings.” Daniel 7:24

    The 2nd and final judgment that Babylon will go through is at the end of the tribulation period when God will bring her into remembrance again. I believe this judgment will be the total annihilation of the country into the sea, never to rise again. God speaks of the waves coming up over her and the sea. He also illustrates it twice in Jeremiah 51:59-64 and Revelation 18:21 by saying that she will sink and never rise again. This will complete the double portion of judgment that God decreed for her. God will fill unto her double because she has waxed rich and made the whole world mad. Babylon is fallen, fallen.

    Another key is the command given by God to flee Babylon before she is destroyed. I believe this is the real key. Why would God tell His people 7 times in Jeremiah 50-51 to flee if there were no consequences? God repeats His command to flee in Isaiah 13 and Revelation 18. Why would God command His people to flee Babylon 9 times, which is the number signifying finality and judgment, if it weren’t an urgent message?

    I believe that this call to come out of Babylon, both spiritually and physically, will ring out before the rapture comes. God has this warning for a reason and it’s my gut feeling that this reason will be a crucial tipping point for the body of Christ in America.

    Babylon the greats demise will be an all-out sneak attack, but only those aware of the plan of God will be able to see the signs before hand. Just my thoughts. God bless.

  16. daygostyle619ph

    The 10 kings are influenced by God to destroy the whore. God has put it into their heart to do His will, which is to lay the land of Babylon desolate. God said in Jeremiah 51:29, that “the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall
    be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation
    without an inhabitant.”

    This is the Lords work and I believe the beginning of the day of the Lord. Babylon is a destroyer of His heritage and a whore that has fornicated with every idol under heaven. The land that was to stand for freedom became a land that stood for bondage, from her very beginnings. Now she is a hold for every foul and hateful bird. The arrogancy of the proud has caused us to blaspheme God blatantly by nicknaming a town, Las Vegas, as SIN CITY.

    “Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee. And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up:
    and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round
    about him.” Jeremiah 50:31-32

    I also believe that the antichrist hates the whore as well because he comes on the scene deceitfully. God declared that deceit would prosper in his hand for a season and that he would rise through flattery and understanding dark sentences. The beast that carries the harlot knows that the harlot must perish. But he isn’t smart enough to figure it out, thus God decreed before the foundation of the world how it would happen.

     Mystery Babylons destruction is the beginning of the day of the Lord. God has set it up so that His plan can unfold. The antichrist will rise after the destruction of mystery Babylon and that is when the mark of the beast will come.

  17. If you want a really good book to read about why the newer bible versions are different then the king James there is one called ” while men slept” by Kerby F. Fannin.It explains why westcott and hort purposley tried to  change the bible for a “new universal christianity”. It is really worth getting and reading if you want to know the truth about the different bible versions. anyway good post. I agree wholeheartedly with you.
    Ann

  18. Those are some very thought-provoking questions. I think you’re right that Revelation 14 is key.  It’s been a chapter on my mind this entire week.  

    A verse that’s been on my mind throughout this entire process is Jeremiah 50:43.  The verse suggests the “king of Babylon” does not react well to the news of these armies coming to attack Babylon. It kinda reminds me of Daniel 11:44 where some news disturbs the Antichrist.  If those verses are relevant one could possibly argue that there is betrayal taking place.  I’ll be taking a look at these issues this weekend, including a comparison of Isaiah 14 and Habakkuk 2.

  19. I think one of the keys to the timing of Babylon’s end is found in Rev. 14, but depending on your interpretation, that will move the timing around.  The chronology seems to be that the announcement that God’s wrath is about to fall is made, then Babylon falls, then the Lord harvests the elect to be with him (the rapture) and harvests the chaff to go into the winepress of God’s wrath.  Notice it is Babylon’s fall, not her complete annihilation (which comes at the end of the vials judgments) which occurs here.  That could indicate both an economic fall, as well as being overrun to be pillaged, people killed, etc. (which is indicated by O.T. Scriptures), but not being blown off the face of the earth quite yet. And is the burning with fire by the ten kings the means of God’s
    complete annihilation at the end, or is it just enough burning to enact the fall of
    Babylon? Now the question of timing becomes, what do you consider God’s wrath?  Pre-tribs consider the entire seven years and the seals on through to the end God’s wrath.  Some consider God’s wrath as starting at the midpoint of the seven years.  Some see it as starting with the trumpet judgments, and others see it as only being the vial judgments at the last or seventh trumpet, (I fall into this last category).  So there seems to be two considerations.  Do the ten kings cause Babylon’s fall, which comes before her complete destruction, or do they annihilate her completely.  Depending on the answer to that question, it will alter things.  And if it refers to her complete annihilation, is that the reason the antichrist is not mentioned as being a part of this?  Because he has lost his power and is no longer in charge by the time Babylon is destroyed at the end of the vial judgments?  Do they for some reason destroy her in retaliation for his losing his power, as maybe they see her as the cause?  Or are they only responsible for her fall, and do it out of greed to usurp her riches as well as her authority?  Questions to ponder.

  20. Rev. 17:17 states that God put in their hearts to fulfill his will, which is for babylon to be destroyed as in 17:16.

    Proverbs 21:01 states that the heart of the king is in the hands of the Lord and He turns it wherever he will.

    This is what happened with pharaoh and Moses. After pharoah hardened his heart — God turned him even more adamant. (Exo. 7-10 about 20 references)

    So I suspect that the 10 kings are literally acting against their own interests in destroying babylon out of hate — as directed by the Almighty. The hate in their heart was magnified into destruction.

    As for the KJV… In a multitude of counselors there’s safety.  (Proverbs 11:14 & 24:06)

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