(Chapter 17 is the chapter were much of the symbology of this Book is explained by the Holy Spirit. See v.7.)
1: And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying, "Come to this place; I will show to you the judgments of the great whore that sits upon many waters: (waters = peoples, see v.15)
2: With whom the kings of the earth committed fornication (= idolatry, a condition of the mind), and they that inhabit the earth were made drunken with the wine of her fornication." (= intoxicated with a lot of lies)
3: And he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman (i.e. "that great city" of v.18) sitting upon a scarlet colored beast (= royalty, one world order), full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. (= new world order, see v.10)
4: And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and girded with gold and precious stone and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations (= the uncleanness practiced in the worship) and having the unclean things of her fornication: (= idolatry)
5: And upon her forehead she had a name written, a secret symbol, BABYLON (= confusion, the mark of the beast, those lies that are in your forehead. it is NOT some outward mark) THE GREAT, the mother of the harlots (Jezebel's) and of the abominations of the earth. (Babylon is the fountain-head of all idolatry and systems of false worship. This is the "mystery of iniquity" [2 Thess. 2:7] seen in all the great "religions" of the world. All alike substitute another god for the God of the Bible; a god made either by the hands or with imagination, but equally made; a religion consisting of human merit and endeavor. The "Reunion of the Churches" of Christiandom and the "League of Nation" = "The United Nations" are two of the most arresting signs of the times.)
6: And I saw the woman (i.e. the one world system) drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (See 11:7,8): and when I saw her, I wondered with great astonishment.
7: And the angel said to me, "Why did you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which have the seven heads and ten horns.
8: The beast that you saw was, and is not (because Christ told him to "get behind Me, Satan [Matt. 4:10]); and is about to ascend out of the pit of the abyss (= a state of mind & spirit), and go into perdition (thus Satan is called the son of perdition = falling away to perish. See 2 Thess. 2:3. He is the only one [entity] called this and the only one judged to death at this time [i.e. since Ezek. 28]): and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose name is not written in the book of life from the foundations of the world (see 13:8), when they behold the beast because it was, and is not, and shall be present. (He looks just like you think Jesus looks like, i.e. an artist's rendition. Remember he is a great deceiver, a copycat, this is one of his many things that are in his bag of tricks)
9: Here is the mind (= understanding) which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains (= nations/sections, of the whole world), on which the woman sits. (= the one world system)
10: And they are seven kings(= Satan's different roles at different times): five fell, the one is (i.e. at this stage of this vision), the seventh is not yet come; and when he shall have come, he must continue a short space. (i.e. the hour of temptation)
11: And the beast that was, and is not, even he himself is the eighth, and is the seven, and goes into perdition. (See v.8)
12: And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings (or rulers), which have received not yet a kingdom; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. (The hour of temptation, i.e. the one and the same hour. Confusion results from substituting "kingdoms" for "kings" in the connection. The Holy Spirit says kings; who and what they are will be known at the time of their association with the beast, the one world system)
13: These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast (here it is the false messiah = Satan)
14: 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 (see Matt. 20:16), and chosen (see also Matt. 20:16), and faithful.” (see 2 Cor. 1:18)
15: And he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
16: And the ten horns which you saw and the beast, these will hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked (i.e. the city. Cp. Jer. 50:32), and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. (this is the sting of the scorpion of 9:10)
17: For God has put in their hearts (= gave, allowed them in their minds) to fulfill His will, and to carry out (= do one purpose), and give their kingdom to the beast, until the Words of God shall be fulfilled.
18: And that woman which you saw is the great city (= Jerusalem), which reigns (lit. having a kingdom, or sovereignty) over the kings of the earth." (Those who are so called in 16:14, and in v.2 in this chapter)