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Jehovah’s Witnesses


What Is the Scarlet-Colored Beast of Revelation Chapter 17?

The Bible’s answer

The scarlet-colored beast, described in Revelation chapter 17, is a symbol of the organization whose purpose is to unite and represent the nations of the world. It first existed as the League of Nations and is now the United Nations.

Keys to identifying the scarlet-colored beast

  1. A political entity. The scarlet-colored beast has “seven heads” that are said to represent “seven mountains” and “seven kings,” or ruling powers. (Revelation 17:9, 10) Mountains and beasts are used in the Bible as symbols of governments.Jeremiah 51:24, 25; Daniel 2:44, 45; 7:17, 23.

  2. A likeness of the worldwide political system. The scarlet-colored beast resembles the seven-headed beast of Revelation chapter 13, which represents the worldwide political system. Both beasts have seven heads, ten horns, and blasphemous names. (Revelation 13:1; 17:3) These similarities are too striking to be a coincidence. The scarlet-colored beast is an image, or likeness, of the worldwide political system.Revelation 13:15.

  3. Power from other rulerships. The scarlet-colored beast “springs from,” or owes its existence to, other ruling forces.Revelation 17:11, 17.

  4. Linked with religion. Babylon the Great, the world’s collective body of false religions, sits on the scarlet-colored beast, showing that the beast is influenced by religious groups.Revelation 17:3-5.

  5. Dishonors God. The beast is “full of blasphemous names.”Revelation 17:3.

  6. Temporarily inactive. The scarlet-colored beast would be in “the abyss,” * or inactive, for a time but would rise again.Revelation 17:8.

Bible prophecy fulfilled

Consider how the United Nations and its predecessor, the League of Nations, have fulfilled the Bible’s prophecy of the scarlet-colored beast.

  1. A political entity. The United Nations supports the political system by upholding “the sovereign equality of all its Members.” *

  2. A likeness of the worldwide political system. In 2011, the United Nations added its 193rd member state. Thus, it claims to represent the vast majority of nations and peoples in the world.

  3. Power from other rulerships. The United Nations owes its existence to its member nations and has only as much power and authority as they grant to it.

  4. Linked with religion. Both the League of Nations and the United Nations have consistently received the backing of the world’s religions. *

  5. Dishonors God. The United Nations was established “to maintain international peace and security.” * While this goal might seem to be praiseworthy, the UN actually dishonors God by claiming to do what he has said only his Kingdom will accomplish.Psalm 46:9; Daniel 2:44.

  6. Temporarily inactive. The League of Nations, which was formed shortly after World War I to maintain peace, was unable to prevent international aggression. It ceased to function when World War II began in 1939. In 1945, after World War II ended, the United Nations was formed. Its purposes, methods, and structure closely resemble those of the League of Nations.

^ par. 10 According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, the Greek word translated “abyss” describes “an immeasurable depth.” The King James Version renders the word as “bottomless pit.” In the Bible, it refers to a place or condition of confinement and complete inactivity.

^ par. 13 See Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations.

^ par. 16 For example, a council representing dozens of Protestant denominations in America declared in 1918 that the League would be “the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth.” In 1965, representatives of Buddhism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Protestantism assembled in San Francisco to support and pray for the United Nations. And in 1979, Pope John Paul II expressed his hope that the UN “will ever remain the supreme forum of peace and justice.”

^ par. 17 See Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Learn More

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