A Grain Of Wheat Ministries

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Chapter Seven

Babylon, book by David W. Dyer

A "Grain Of Wheat" Ministries publication

Written by David W. Dyer



Chapter 2: BABYLON





Chapter 7: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (Current Chapter)


It is with much reluctance that I enter into the following discussion, but I feel forced to do so because of the great prevalence of misguided opinions. There are many, many Christians who have been taught and are convinced that the Babylon of Revelation is the Roman Catholic Church. Moving on from this conclusion, they then begin to fabricate some very fantastic eschatology.

Some have the Pope as the antichrist. Others have the Roman Church secretly running the world. Still others have the Ecumenical movement, with the Catholic Church in the lead, rising up to dominate the world. These and numerous other such conclusions are a result of misunderstanding a few simple Bible verses.

One of the most prominent of these is found in verse 9 of chapter 17 of Revelation where we read that the harlot sits on “seven mountains.” Many Bible teachers have looked at this verse and thought, “Aha, seven hills!” They then jump to the conclusion that this must be a reference to Rome, since ancient, secular literature refers to her as a city on seven hills. They then move on from this to surmise from this that the Roman Catholic Church is the “Babylon” of today.

I have even heard it said that John used this phrase as a kind of code to refer to Rome. Some say that since he was a prisoner of the Romans, he did not dare write the true name but had to use a kind of cipher. As you go along in your Christian journey, you too will no doubt hear all kinds of such explanations. The truth is John wrote just exactly what the angel showed him.

Let us remember here that in John’s day there were no longer seven prophetic mountains. As we have seen, five of them had already fallen. This left only two. Therefore, this cannot be and is not a secret reference to Rome! Consequently, the Roman Catholic Church is not in view.

Also, we cannot take our inspiration from secular literature such as the story of Romulus and Remus, but only the word of God. Nowhere in the Bible is Rome referred to as “the city on seven hills” or any similar thing.

Unfortunately, the King James Version of the Bible (and NKJV) is responsible for a large part of this confusion. This version introduces an extra word in the text which is in no Greek manuscript that I can find, including the Textus Receptus from which the KJV was taken.

It is this extra word which produces much error. This is the word “there.” In the NKJV chapter 17:9,10 we read: “The seven heads are seven mountains... There are also seven kings.” Putting the word “there” in this verse disassociates the mountains and the kings grammatically. Now instead of being equal, they are additional. So then when you read: “Five have fallen,” this could refer only to the kings, leaving the seven mountains intact.

But in fact, in the original Greek texts, the word “there” does not appear. All of them read instead: “The seven heads are seven mountains... and are seven kings.” The heads, mountains, and kings are all equal. So then when we read that “five have fallen” this not only refers to the kings but to the mountains and heads as well.

So we see that there are not today and, in fact, were not in the time of John’s vision, seven mountains. There were only two. Five had already fallen. This then was not a secret reference to Rome and therefore does not point us to the Roman Catholic Church.

All of us tend to interpret scripture in the light of our current geopolitical situation. Such a suggestion was first made centuries ago when the Roman Church was affluent and powerful. At that time she seemed exceedingly rich and dominated much of the political scene in Europe. However, times have changed.

No doubt, those who first invented this doctrine lived in a different time and place than we do. Yet, when we think about this with a clear head, other problems with the Catholic Church as the prostitute also become evident.

For example, Rome is not known as a seaport. She is located on the Tiber River, some distance from the sea. The seaport near her which would service her maritime needs is not one of the principal ports of the world. Furthermore, it could not be said today or even imagined that the Catholic Church is making every shipowner rich. It is simply not true that all the merchants of the world are getting wealthy selling their stuff to the Vatican. Also we have already studied the difficulty of one single city being the source of so much commerce and wealth.

Furthermore, the influence of the Vatican over the governments of the world is waning more and more every day.

For example, in Brazil, which is considered to be the largest Catholic country in the world, the percentage of Catholics is decreasing dramatically. Although the Catholic church does still have some sway in many parts of the world, she could not be thought of as “reigning” over them.

While the Roman Church did persecute and martyr many believers in past years, this is not something which is prevalent in our time. Trying to fit the Catholic Church of today into the Revelation prophecy is like trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn’t fit.

Another logical difficulty we encounter with the “Rome as Babylon” scenario is that Babylon is destroyed “in one hour” (Rev 18:17,19). Although this may not signify one literal “hour” it certainly indicates a short period of time. So how could someone destroy the Catholic Church in one hour? Would they plant time bombs in every cathedral timed to go off at the same time? This is patently ridiculous. There is no logical way anyone could destroy the Catholic Church with fire in “one hour.”

Would they simply blow up the Vatican? Eliminating the Vatican would not end Catholicism. Probably it would have the opposite effect. Most persecuted religions end up only increasing instead of disappearing.

When we think about this calmly and unemotionally, the Roman Catholic Church does not really match, in most of the clear details, what we see in the scriptures.


One source of this Rome as Babylon teaching is a book written by Alexander Hislop entitled The Two Babylons which was first published in 1916. In it Mr. Hislop points out many parallels between the Catholic Church’s rituals, vestments, practices, and symbols, etc. with those of ancient Babylon. More recently however, some of his assertions have been called into question.

Reading this work is a dry and dusty task. He seems to succeed, however, in demonstrating that the Roman church has many Babylonian trappings. But, this does nothing to prove that she is the Babylon of Revelation.

The fact that the Roman Church and even most of our modern “evangelical” churches are full of worldly symbols, teachings, methods, and practices is obvious. But much more than this is needed (for example some concrete, clear scriptures) to conclude that this is Babylon the Great Prostitute.


It may be that many churches in our day appear to be part of Babylon. This means that they have the flavor and character of the world. For example, many use increasingly worldly means and methods to attract and hold members.

Frequently, today’s churches employ an earthly style of authority structure. Often their various “officers” are chosen because of their social position or economic standing in the community. It is common for the content of their meetings and activities to be much more worldly than spiritual.

Many churches today have an emphasis on wealth, luxury, and prosperity. Sometimes their members seem to be more interested in the pursuits and activities of the world than the kingdom of God. Therefore, these churches appear Babylonian.

What we should understand from this is: just as in the Old Testament, so today too, many of God’s people and Christian groups have been carried away captive into Babylon! They have been seduced by the prostitute. They are following the spirit of this age. They are in bondage to the luxuries and the ways of the world. They are living in spiritual “Babylon.”

Yet this does not mean that they are Babylon, only that they are in Babylon, spiritually speaking. It reveals that they have been influenced and contaminated by her.

Many of God’s people lived in ancient Babylon after they were carried away into captivity. There they were seduced by her idols and practices. Yet they were never thought of as being “Babylon.”


It has often been taught that chapter 17 of Revelation speaks of a “religious Babylon” by which people mean the Roman Catholic Church, perhaps along with other institutional type churches. Then they teach that chapter 18 is a description of “economic Babylon,” which is the one which I have described earlier in this writing.

However, when we analyze chapter 17, we cannot find one piece of evidence which clearly supports their assertions. Nothing religious is found here. No religious items are mentioned. No idols, no priests, no offerings, no temples, no sacred vestments, no rituals, no sacrifices, nothing clearly indicating something religious is found. In short, “religious Babylon” is noticeably absent from chapter 17.

The original Greek text was not divided up into chapters. There is no compelling reason to separate it and this vision into two parts. Truthfully, there is only one Babylon, not two Babylons, described in these two chapters.

All this is in direct contrast to the Old Testament prophecies concerning Babylon. There we do find religious items such as idols, priests, etc. So you see that the final Babylon revealed in Revelation is actually notable for its lack of religion and religious articles.

Instead of being a religious entity, it seems to be very secular. What should be really impressive to us is the absence of any clear mention of anything religious in either chapter 17 or 18. This writer is forced to conclude that there is no “religious Babylon” to be found in the book of Revelation.


Many believers imagine that Babylon is the worldly church of our day. They base their opinions on the fact that she is called a “prostitute.” Therefore, they reason that she must once have belonged to God, but then prostituted herself, much like Hosea’s wife (Hos 1:2). However, when we take an unemotional, calm look at the scriptures, no such indication is found.

God’s “woman” is revealed in Revelation chapter 12. She is a holy, shining, glorious being. She is persecuted by the dragon, not riding on the beast. She is protected by God rather than judged by Him. Her “son” is caught up to heaven to rule the nations (vs 5). Her other offspring “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (vs 17).

She may not be perfect, since she needs to be “fed” (vs 6) perhaps indicating a need for more spiritual nourishment. But she is certainly not described as a prostitute or called Babylon. The woman found in Revelation 17 and 18 is a completely different story.

Here we find no scriptural indication that she ever belonged to God. In fact, when she appears, she is riding on a scarlet beast. She is the devil’s woman from the beginning. He is her source. Her dependence is on him.

Further, she is not called an “adulteress” (which is in Greek MOICHOS [see Js 4:4] indicating that she once had a marriage commitment), but a prostitute, PORNE (Rev 17:1.)

There is no necessity for a prostitute to have ever been married. No verses demonstrate that she was ever even betrothed to, or belonged to, the Lord.

Further, the Babylon of the Old Testament was also never God’s city. She was not the place nor the people whom He had chosen for Himself. God never uses the name Babylon to describe His people or His land.

So when God selects the word “Babylon” in Revelation to describe the prostitute, He clearly is not trying to indicate His own people or His church. Although some of God’s people are living in Babylon and committing adultery with Babylon, she herself is not and never has been His.

When we look at this logically rather than emotionally, this “Babylon” of Revelation cannot be a reference to God’s people. Therefore, the assumption that Babylon is the church or some part of her which has become sinful does not seem to have any biblical basis.


Another serious problem with the “Roman Catholic church along with most denominations” as Babylon teaching is that it seems to generate a wrong spirit. In almost all of the groups I have encountered which hold this opinion, there is a strong “we are better than they are” attitude.

They look down their noses at people who are “in the religious system.” They feel superior to all those other Christians who are so corrupted. Much of their unity and a large part of their “spirituality” comes from their idea that they have “come out” and are a kind of spiritual elite.

This attitude does not reflect the heart of God. If we are in touch with the heart of the Father, seeing any dear fellow believers involved in an impotent, worldly religion should generate a different sort of reaction.

We would weep for them. We would pray for them. And we would try to lovingly minister to them God’s truth to try to help them escape from their error.

It is without question that the great prostitute would succeed in seducing the church in her country and also in the nations over which she holds sway. It is only logical that she would corrupt them and make them just as fallen as herself.

If then the church of today has become worldly in many respects, this is because she too has been drinking of the wine of the fornication of Babylon.

Many of the members of the church today are committing adultery with the world. Their hearts have been seduced by her attractiveness. They love all that she has to offer.

It is also sad, but true, that the churches of our day are becoming increasingly worldly. The temples seem to be ever more opulent and the work increasingly success oriented. The emphasis on sin and repentance is being replaced by an easy, comfortable way where God is our servant and our obligation is merely to attend somewhat regularly and give generously.

However, all this does not qualify these institutions to be the Babylon but only a part of her. They have become Babylonian in their character and nature. They have been carried away captive into Babylon.


Since writing the first draft of the book, I have received a lot of feedback from believers who insist that Babylon is today’s church. Many of the arguments which I hear are emotional. Frequently they are tinged with an antipathy or even hatred for some church or denomination.

Perhaps these brothers have been wounded and/or disappointed by some religious group or other. Therefore they have difficulty detaching themselves from their experience and looking clearly at the scriptures. Virtually all of the proofs offered by these dear believers to demonstrate that Babylon is the Catholic Church along with the denominations are quite vague or must be understood symbolically.

The danger I see here is that while many are focusing on these quite tenuous “spiritual” revelations, the clear and simple verses of these two Revelation chapters are being ignored. Perhaps the emotion which some feel against the “religious system” blinds them to any other possibilities.

While they are trying to prove the case for a religious Babylon they seem to ignore many extremely clear verses which need little, if any, interpretation.

These verses are those which point to a “commercial Babylon.” They point to a physical place which we can no doubt identify today. It is a wealthy, proud, self-confident “city” which is importing everything the merchants of the world have to offer.

It is a physical place which we urgently need to be able to accurately identify. It is this secular, commercial, opulent location that will soon be destroyed by fire. Therefore, it is this entity which we need to pinpoint.

Perhaps you have not been convinced by my arguments against a religious Babylon, and still believe that she is “the religious system.” So be it. I do not need to convince you. You can keep your “religious Babylon” if you wish. But please, for your own sake, consider the following carefully.

It is clearly a “commercial Babylon” which will be destroyed by fire. Therefore, putting the religious ideas aside for the moment, every believer desperately needs to understand where this commercial entity is and, if they reside there, prepare to flee before her judgments come. NOTE:

Here we will analyze in greater detail a part of the Revelation passage which is a little bit difficult. Yet, our understanding of this part of the vision is necessary to have a complete grasp the rest of the vision. Please follow with me carefully through a few simple steps of logic. This vision is not as hard to understand as it seems at first glance. All that is required is a little wisdom which God is happy to grant to all who ask.

We are told that this prostitute is riding on a beast. This beast has seven heads and ten horns. In the book Antichrist we have addressed the subject of the beast who has the ten horns. So for now we will concentrate just on the seven heads of the beast. What could they mean?

The angel helps us here by explaining: “The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits and they are seven kings” (Rev 17:9,10 NASB). Here is a simple formula. Each head represents a mountain and a king. We could think of it like this:

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

Then we read: “Five have fallen” (Rev 17:10). So we learn that of the seven [1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king] entities five of them have already fallen. This means that they have already come and gone from history leaving only two groups remaining as we see below:

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

Of the two entities remaining, we read: “one is, and the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a short time” (Rev 17:10).

No doubt, after almost 2,000 years of history, the entity which “is,” or rather was at the time Revelation was written, has by now also “fallen” or disappeared. So we can also mark it out too. This then leaves us with the final one which had “not yet come.”

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king

What does all this signify? In Bible prophecy, a “head” on some kind of beast means a leader or a king. We have already seen this in our “1 head = 1 king” formula. The mountains probably represent kingdoms. We find some support for this interpretation in the book of Daniel.

While the prophet is seeing a vision, he saw “a stone cut out without hands” which smashed the feet of a large image and “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Dan 2:35). This then would mean when the Lord Jesus returns, He will smash the antichrist empire and that His Kingdom will become great (a great mountain) and fill the whole earth. Therefore, we can conclude that the mountains represent kingdoms.


What we learn here is that Babylon, besides being a spiritual, seductive world system, has had its embodiment in six other physical places. This would mean that we could look back in world history and find five instances of an empire which became successful, wealthy and then totally decadent.

As we saw in the beginning of this book, ancient Babylon was certainly a place which fits our description.

Although we cannot know exactly which past empires are also included in this list along with Babylon, it is possible that ancient Egypt under some of the Pharaohs might also have risen to the heights of excess which we have described.

Possibly the Medo-Persian empire, the later kingdom of Alexander the Great, or even ancient Assyria could fit our pattern. Exactly who they were is not critical to our understanding.

Certainly there were five and they have already come and gone or “fallen.”

The one manifestation of Babylon which “is” or rather was in existence in the days of John the apostle is also one which we have already identified. The Roman Empire fits our description exactly. It became famous for its excesses. Orgies, feasts, entertainments including violent, bloody spectacles involving animals, people and gladiators, sexual perversion, luxury and all the ingredients of Babylon which we have discussed were found in the Roman empire in full bloom.

This kingdom would then represent the sixth [1 head = 1 mountain = 1 king] entity which by now has also been reduced to a mere shadow of its former power, fame, and sin.

Yet there was still one manifestation left. One was yet to come. It seems that in the last days, this spirit of worldly excess (including religion) will be manifested in all her fulness in some physical place at some time.

What we are looking for then today is the final, full manifestation of Babylon. We can expect to see in our generation a “city” which is becoming all that the Roman Empire was and more.

So, we can look for something so self-indulgent, so focused on surrounding herself with every kind of luxury and pleasure, a city/nation which is in the process of becoming so immoral and vile, that it will perhaps put the others six manifestations of this prostitute to shame.

It is certain that at the end of this age, there will appear a last great “Babylon” which, in terms of luxury, excess, and sin will rise up to a kind of final expression of worldly excess, until she is judged by God and destroyed. 

End of Chapter 7

Read other chapters online:


Chapter 2: BABYLON





Chapter 7: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (Current Chapter)

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