PMW 2019-076 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the second and final part of a brief series arguing that the “many waters” of Rev. 17:1, 15 refer to Jerusalem’s influence over the diaspora Jews, many of whom were proselyte from the nations.

My second observation regarding the Babylonian-harlot’s sitting on many waters represents Jerusalem’s political influence exercised by means of the diaspora — particularly against Christians —- which is exerted throughout the empire and among the “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (17:15).

Remembering the Jewish danger to Christians (Rev. 2:9; 3:9; cp. Acts 4:3; 5:18; 8:3; 9:2; 12:4; 18:6; 22:4; 24:27; 26:10; Rom 15:31; 2 Cor. 11:24; 1 Thess. 2:14-17; Heb. 10:33-34) and the role of the martyrs in Rev (Rev. 6:9-10; see also: Rev 1:9; 2:9-10; 3:9-10; 11:7-8, 11-13, 18; 12:10; 13:10; 14:11-13; 16:5-6; 17:6; 18:20, 24; 19:2; 20:4, 6), this is a quite significant implication of John’s image. After all, we discover “the common reflection of Jewish opposition in the NT writings” (Rick Van de Water, “Reconsidering the Beast from the Sea (Rev 13.1),” 248).

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We read in Acts that the Jews “won over the multitudes [ochlous]” against Paul and stoned him (Ac 14:19; cp. 13:45, 50; 14:2). In Ac 17:5 we read that “the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob [ochlopoiēsantes] and set the city in an uproar.” In Thessalonica they were “agitating and stirring up the crowds [ochlous]” (Ac 17:13). “This regularly established link between Jerusalem and the diaspora was of particular importance during the time of organised hostility to the early church. Concerted plans could be made and consistent action followed in many parts at once” (James Parks, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, 11).

By excommunicating Jewish-Christians and resisting them in the public sphere (see Exc 10 at 11:2), the traditional Jews effectively expose Christians to Roman oppression by removing their status as Jews and the protections of religio licita. “The privileges given by the Romans to the Jews . . . were confined to practising Jews, so that by excommunication the Jewish authorities could deprive a Jews of his legal privileges” with the result that “by this simple act of excommunication they could expel a Christian from these privileges and report against him as an atheist” (James Parks, 62, 64).

But it goes even farther, the Jews specifically charge Christians with resistance to Roman rule. In Ac 17:6-7 they drag Christians before the Thessalonican city authorities charging that “they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” This is similar to their actions in the trial of Jesus where they assert “we have no king but Caesar” in demanding Jesus’ death (Jn 19:15, cf. v 15). Parks (1961: 66) notes that “the Jews of Corinth dragged Paul before the Romans. The charge they brought was that Paul was trying to persuade them to ‘worship God contrary to the Law.’ This is certainly a charge with which they could technically have dealt themselves. . . . The Jews preferred to lay the responsibility on the Romans for deciding what to do.”

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Earlier Parks (65) noted that in Acts “Gallio refuses to hear the charge” which shows that for Luke “the Jews were not compelled to bring Paul before the Roman court.” The Jewish community is using the Roman judicial apparatus to stir up trouble for the Christians.

Consequently, I believe a strong and compelling case may be made for the waters of Rev. 17 representing the influence of Jerusalem over her far-flung diaspora.

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  1. Fred V. Squillante September 22, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Dr. Gentry, regarding the “many waters” of Revelation 17:1 and 15, I respectfully disagree and say it is the Roman Empire. While you say it is the Jewish Diaspora, and mention Jeremiah 51:12-13, which refer to Babylon’s system of canals, you then say that John isn’t literal in referring to ancient Babylon in Revelation 17. So, I ask: why say it? It deflects from the subject at hand and confuses matters. It couldn’t mean ancient Babylon any more than the same “many waters,” or the crossing of the sea, or the mention of the river Nile in Isaiah 23:1-3, in his oracle against Tyre, can refer to that nation, in John’s description.

    You say that the Roman Empire being the many waters is a frequent challenge against Babylon equaling Jerusalem, but my position is that I have never even considered that proposition; for I believe it has nothing to do with that because: a) I believe Babylon does equal Jerusalem in Revelation 17 and b) I haven’t the slightest inclination that the harlot is sitting on itself, which is what the circumstances would be if the many waters were Jerusalem.

    If “sitting” means governing, then the question I have is, who was 1st century Israel governing? Israel may have governed their own religious matters but that was because Rome allowed it; Rome was governing her. The harlot saying “I sit as a queen…” (Revelation 18:7) in no way indicates sitting as governing. The verse says: To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.’ This is the same haughty spirit for which Sodom was judged (Ezekiel 16:44-52, with emphasis on vv.49-50), not an example of governing.

    The “vast” population of Jews scattered throughout the Empire is miniscule compared to the many “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” of the Roman Empire itself. If the literary and archaeological evidence suggests that the Jews were a powerful minority throughout the Empire, it would suggest that because they were God’s people – but they were still a minority. The Jews, who gathered from “every nation under heaven” at Pentecost in Acts 2 is what one would expect at a Jewish holiday feast in Jerusalem, where the Temple stood – just as Muslims gather at Mecca or Medina for their Haj.

    Citing Jewish persecution against Christians in Acts is evidence of the great persecution, which began with the killing of Stephen (Acts 8:1). This was the great tribulation spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24; it was the time of distress spoken of by Daniel in 12:1; and that fact is incredulously ignored by nearly everyone. Rome may not have been as aggressively hostile to Christians as were the Jews early on, but they were far from being their protectors. They finally went all in against the Christians after the fires broke out in Rome in 64 – and Nero was being blamed for setting them. It all came to a head in 70 with the destruction of the city and Temple, which ended the Old Covenant system, but the persecution continued until 313, when it finally ended with the Edict of Milan.

    While you make a good case for Jerusalem being the beast (?), the idea of the woman – the harlot – sitting on many waters (Israel in diaspora (?)) – riding on a seven-headed, ten-horned beast – (Rome), who is 1st century Jerusalem (?), Rome (?) – means that the harlot was riding on the harlot (?). The argument for the Roman Empire is stronger, and, IMHO, more logical. The problem of double-meaning, double-fulfillment, and partial-fulfillment is one of the futurists’ tactics; they are examples of double entendre; and we both know that’s a non-starter. Can you please clear this up? (as I am in agreement with much of what you say, especially your earlier writings on Rome being the beast of Revelation 17).

  2. Kenneth Gentry September 24, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Apparently you have not read enough of my argument to know what I am saying. For instance, the harlot is not riding on the harlot. She is riding the beast. Her “governing” the beast refers to her prodding Rome to persecute Christians (as we see in Christ’s crucifixion, in Paul’s experience, and in many other ancient historical writings).

    In Paul’s day he could appeal to Caesar for relief. Toward the end of Nero’s life, that all changes when Nero ruthlessly persecutes Christians (partly due to the prompting of two Jewish actors he admires).

    I do not believe Jerusalem is the beast. I believe the beast is Rome. Your parenthetical questions marks (?) in your last paragraph are important realizations that you are not familiar with what I argue. Of course, some of this is due to the publisher’s delay of my Revelation commentary which presents my full argument.

    Keep reading and studying!

  3. Fred V. Squillante September 24, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I get what you’re saying. I even directly asked you exactly that question, which you answered in your two-part series on the many waters. You conclude by stating “Consequently, I believe a strong and compelling case may be made for the waters of Revelation 17 representing the influence of Jerusalem over her far-flung diaspora.” So I ask you again, if the angel in 17:1 says he will show John the judgment of the woman who sits on many waters, and v. 15 says that the waters upon which the woman sits are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues, and v.3 says the woman is sitting on the beast, and if the beast is Rome – how are the many waters, multitudes, nations, and tongues not the Roman Empire?

  4. Kenneth Gentry September 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    The woman (the harlot, Jerusalem) is using her influence (derived from her massive many waters/disapora presence) to prod the Romans (sitting on and controlling the Roman beast in this respect) to persecute Christians throughout the Roman empire. The many waters are spread throughout the empire, due to the presence of the diaspora, made up of ethnic Jews and proselyetes from the “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs” (Acts 2:9-11).

  5. Fred V. Squillante September 24, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    So, there are three entities: the woman, the waters, and the beast?

  6. Kenneth Gentry September 24, 2019 at 4:55 pm


  7. Fred V. Squillante September 26, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Okay. I guess a case can be made for the “many waters” not necessarily referring to the beast but to the Jews of their diaspora (and I’m not altogether subscribing to that), but in a sense, isn’t it moot? If it is as you say, that’s all fine and well as far as understanding those details of history {which, I must say, was an ah-hah moment for me), but the woman – the harlot, which we both agree was Jerusalem, riding on the beast, which we both agree is Rome is the larger point.

    There are two other questions I have for you, which I have also asked of you before. One, in regard to the beast of the land in Revelation 13, you have said that’s apostate Israel. Now, looking at that chapter and seeing a beast from the sea and one from the land, one could quickly surmise that the one from the sea is Rome (which I believe it is) and the other is Israel. The problem I have with that is the land beast is the one with the number and you have written quite extensively in “Before Jerusalem Fell” that the number refers to Nero, which I’m in agreement with. So, again – how can that be apostate Israel?

    My second question refers to the Temple of God of Revelation 11:2 and 19. I do believe that v. 2 refers to the still-standing Temple of 1st century Jerusalem, with the measuring being the readying for destruction (2 Kings 21:10-15 and Isaiah 28:17). But I believe v. 19 is the only reference of the Temple of God which is in heaven. The New Testament

  8. Fred V. Squillante September 26, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Somehow the rest of my question got eliminated. The New Testament teaches that we are the Temple of God, in which the Holy Spirit dwells. So, is the Temple of v. 19 different from that of v. 2, and if so, how does it differ from the N.T. teachings, or does it. Sorry for the bifurcation, and thanks, in advance.

  9. Kenneth Gentry September 26, 2019 at 10:46 am

    I don’t believe the text presents the number as the number of the SECOND beast, the LAND beast. The land beast is an inferior and a servant of the sea beast: (1) He only has two horns (v. 11), whereas the sea beast ten horns (v. 1). (2) He exercises the sea beast’s authority “in his presence” (under his watchful eye, vv. 12a, 14a). (3) He makes those on earth “worship the first beast” (v. 12b; cp. v. 15).

    Therefore, since the land beast is subservient to the first beast and his demanding the citizens receive a mark in order to buy or sell (v. 17a), then the mark (which is a name and a number, v. 17b) must be the name/number of the first beast whose worship he promotes. Thus, 666 refers to the first beast, the sea beast, rather than the subservient beast.

    Revelation is the most Hebraic-flavored book in the NT (in many ways, grammar, OT allusions, OT worship issues, etc.). John emphasizes the opening of the temple in heaven by placing it first: “And was opened the temple of God the one in the heaven” (kai ēnoigē ho naos tou theou ho en tō ouranō). The earthly temple was always but a dim reflection of the heavenly temple, after which it was patterned (Heb 9:4, cp. 8:2). But the heavenly temple here is actually a metaphor for the presence of God (the fundamental significance of the temple). After all, in the OT the physical temple is known as God’s “house” (1Ch 28:6; Ps 42:4; Eccl 5:1; Mal 3:10) because it is where he dwells among his people (1Ki 8:13; Ps 26:8). In fact, in 21:22 we finally learn that God and the Lamb are the temple.

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