Article / October – December 2020
To begin to understand Revelation you must have some understanding of the symbolic language often used in scriptures. This kind of language dominates Revelations. As we look at the two women of Revelation we must appreciate the fact that it is not speaking of literal women but is using them as metaphors to explain something much broader.
There are actually three women mentioned in Revelation, they are: 1. The woman who had the male child (Revelation 12:1-2). 2. The prostitute/harlot who also rides the beast (Revelation 17) and 3. The bride who will be at the marriage feast of the lamb. In this article we will focus on the later two.
We’ll start by looking at their mention in Revelation 19. Verse 2 states (NIV) “He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Verse 7-8 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
To understand who she is we must note how she is described above in Revelation 19:2. The NIV describes her as an ‘adulterer’ other translations call her a ‘fornicator’. Both are correct. A fornicator is having an affair outside of marriage an adulterer is having one with someone else while married. In Bible days when a Jewish woman was betrothed to a man their commitment was sealed and they were considered as good as married and simply awaiting the marriage ceremony so the consummation and life together can begin.
The harlot therefore, as one betrothed to Christ, has made a marital commitment to Him but is having an affair with someone else. She is in the company of Jesus during the days but in the bed of the devil at nights. She is defined by her deception, she’s the ‘great harlot’ and represents those who say they love Christ and perform in public but secretly love the world in their hearts. John in 1 John 2:15 says we cannot love God and the world. Our hearts do not have the capacity to fully love two people. If we love the world we do not love God. James says when God’s people become friends with the world we become the enemies of God (see James 4). The harlot is truly an enemy of God purporting to be His lover. She also hates the true bride and is constantly trying to kill her.
The bride, the one Christ chose over the harlot, has remained faithful to Him during the betrothed period. She prepares and keeps herself as she waits for the return of her bridegroom. She is keen to see to it that her dress is kept clean and ready without spot or wrinkle etc and that she is pure. Revelation 19:7-8 says she has made herself ready and speaks of her fine linen that is bright and clean. John goes on to explain the symbolism, he says, “…the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” The bride spoken of here represents those who truly love Christ. This love is made manifest in their living, how they have kept themselves from the corruption that is in the world and their acts of love that flows from a genuine care for others.
Paul, warning the Corinthian church against those false apostles and teachers who will entice them away from the love of the true Christ to another false Jesus and gospel says, “For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 (NKJV)
“…But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 (NIV)
An important distinction between the harlot and the bride is this… The harlot wants her pleasure now and cannot wait so, though betrothed to Christ, she finds another lover and defiles herself. She is in love with instant gratification not Christ. Paul tells Timothy what people who claim to belong to God will be like in the last days, he says they “…will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:2-5 (Read all of it)
The bride is in love with Christ so she waits for that great coronation. She will endure the hardships of chastity now as she keeps herself for that moment behind the veil, alone with the one she loves as they consummate the marriage and begin a life together for eternity. It won’t be long now, the groom will soon be on His way so get ready and continue to keep yourself pure.