Revelation 17:10 Study Archive

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space



Revelation 17:10

It is difficult to account for a theory that fixes the chronology of Revelation in the latter part of the Domitian reign when he, the seventh, had not come.”
(Foy Wallace, The Book of Revelation, p. 372)

G.H. Van Kooten
“To start the succession of emperors with Augustus is indeed common practice until Suetonius who, working under Trajan and Hadrian, starts to regard Julius Caesar as the first emperor (Suetonius, The Deified Julius). I owe this confirmation to Ruurd Nauta (Groningen). See Syme 1958: 432-34 about Augustan ambiguities in ‘the attitude of Caesar’s heir towards Caesar’ (p. 432); Caesar was regarded as a Dictator and attitudes only changed when ‘Republicanism ended in the year 98’ (p. 434 n. 3) and ‘the Dictator at length regains his place in the line of the Caesars. The phenomenon is noteworthy. Time, the patent fact of monarchic rule, and the obsolescence of Republican affectations all contributed’ (p. 434); ‘Suetonius leads off with Caesar; and Appian some forty years later is emphatic that Caesar is the founder of the Roman monarchy (proem. 6)’ (p. 434 n. 3). This means that, in regarding not Julius Caesar but Augustus as the first emperor, the author of Revelation is very much in tune with his time. See also Rowland 1982: 404 and Wilson 1993: 599. Josephus’s way of counting is still ambiguous, regarding either Julius Caesar (Ant. 18.32, 18.224) or Augustus (19.75; cf. 19.87) as the first emperor.” (The Year of the Four Emperors and the Revelation of John (PDF): p. 211)

“the seven heads in chap. 17…indicate the reign of Galba or possibly Vespasian…it displays an exploitation of belief in Nero’s survival devised fairly soon after the emperor’s death” (1989: 400)

“No reasonable method of counting can make the passage fit a Domitianic dating.” (n. 114)

James M. MacDonald (1877)
“We have then only to reckon the succession of emperors, and we must arrive with certainty at the reign under which the Apocalypse was written or was seen.  It stands thus: (Julius) Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius ; these make up the five who are fallen.  ‘One is’ – Nero.  The ancients, although the empire was not fully established till the time of Augustus, reckoned from Julius Caesar.” (The Life and Writings of St. John,  London: Hodder & Stoughton, p. 164, 1877).



Jay E. Adams (1966)
“Should there be any question about the contemporary nature of the second section of the book, the seventeenth chapter dispels it… Can the kings be identified?  Yes.  Five of them are already dethroned, one is now (that is, was in John’s day) reigning, and the seventh hasn’t yet begun to reign.  Words could not be plainer.  Regardless of which Roman emperor one identifies with the head there can be no doubt that the beast-prophecy pertains to the Caesars who were then in power.  The prophecy can refer to nothing but the contemporary Roman empire because of the angel’s clear cut identification.” (The Time is at Hand, p. 53)

Ken Gentry (1988)
“It seems indisputably clear that the book of Revelation must be dated in the reign of Nero Caesar, and consequently before his death in June, A.D. 68. He is the sixth king; the short-lived rule of the seventh king (Galba) “has not yet come.”  (Before Jerusalem Fell, p.151)

R.C. Sproul (1998)
“If the sixth king is Vespasian, then we still fall short of the reign of Domitian, which is the time-frame usually given for the book of Revelation.” (The Last Days According to Jesus; p. 146)

“A more natural approach, however, is to begin the list of kings with Julius Caesar, as was the custom of ancient historians such as Josephus and Suetonius, as well as Dio Cassius.  In this series (see table 6.3, option 3), the sixth king is Nero.  If he is the king referred to in Revelation in the present tense, then this adds considerable wright to the argument for dating the book in the mid- to late-sixties.” (ibid., p. 147)

Moses Stuart (1836)
“It seems indisputably clear that the book of Revelation must be dated in the reign of Nero Caesar, and consequently before his death in June, A.D. 68. He is the sixth king; the short-lived rule of the seventh king (Galba) “has not yet come.” (Apocalypse,  p. 24, 1836)

But why only seven kings? First because the number seven is the reigning symbolic number of the book; then, secondly, because this covers the ground which the writer means specially to occupy, viz., it goes down to the period when the persecution then raging would cease. (2:325,326)

Milton Terry (1898)
“This receives additional confirmation in the fact that the book assumes to belong to the period of the sixth king as mentioned in 17:10, ‘the one that now is,’ and if we follow the most natural method of reckoning the Caesars, and the one which appears in Suetonius andSibylline Oracles, we have (1) Julius, (2) Augustus, (3) Tiberius, (4) Caligula, (5) Claudius, (6) Nero.  The reign of Nero extended from A.D. 54-68, and somewhere between these dates we must assign the composition of the Apocalypse.” (Biblical Apocalyptics, p. 259)

Foy Wallace (1966)
“The seven kings, five of which had fallen, followed the count from Julius Caesar, the first – then, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, the five which had fallen – and Nero, the sixth.  He was referred to in the phrase and one is – that is, the reigning emperor.  It is further stated that the other, or the seventh, is not yet.

The five Caesars had passed before John wrote this apocalypse; and Nero, the sixth Caesar, was reigning at the time Revelation was written.  The apocalypse belonged to the Neronic period.” (The Book of Revelation, p. 371-372)

“Omitting quite properly the subordinates, or mock rulers, Domitian was the seventh Caesar; and the text specifically stated that he had not come.  It is difficult to account for a theory that fixes the chronology of Revelation in the latter part of the Domitian reign when he, theseventh, had not come.  The rectification of the traditional chronological error attached to the Book of Revelation will automatically correct the “future prophecy” theories so full of misconcepts.”  (ibid., p. 372)


L. Michael White (1999)
“Then it says that the seven heads are also seven kings. And we can read from its cryptic terminology the references to the Emperors of Rome. The “five fallen” refer to the five emperors who have died: Augustus (29 BCE – 14 CE), Tiberius (14-37 CE), Gaius (37-41),Claudius (41-54) and Nero (54-68). “One has a wound” refers to the emperor Nero, who died in 68, but whom contemporary legend had it would return from the dead to continue persecuting the Christians. Thus, the beast has a head that has recovered from a mortal wound. The head “who is” refers to Vespasian (69-79) and the one that is “not yet” refers to Titus (79-81). The head that “was but is not” refers to an eighth emperor, Domitian.  (Understanding the Book of Revelation)

Date: 13 Oct 2003
Time: 11:13:12

From Ronald Johnston: Here is another view point. Revelation 17 John is told come hither to see the judgment of the great whore. We see this judgment in Revelation 18 for her plagues come in one day, death,mourning and famine. John see’s the kings of the earth committing fornication with her. The above is yet future to our day. Then John is taken into the wilderness setting where he see’s this woman sitting on the heads of the scarlet colored beast who is full of blaspheme. To understand this we must go to Daniel 7, the third beast is a leopard with four heads, we all understand to represent Greece under Alexander the Great, after his death we see his four generals divide his empire yet the 4 heads are Greek. These four generals had lines of kings after them until the Roman empire represented by the dreadful beast rose to power, slowly disolving the Greek empire. Yet notice the heads were still Greek, first the body as Alexander the Great then the four heads came after Alexander and continued with their lines of kings until the dreadful beast represented by Pagan Rome came on the scene. Here is my point, in Daniel we see a progression in time from the body, to the heads, and to horns. With all these body parts we see a forward progression in time. In Revelation we have three chapters all with with 7 heads and ten horns, Revelation 1213 and 17. Protestants long have taught the leopard in Revelation 13 represented the politcal power of the Papacy. The papal power was given 42 days prophetic months to rule this would be by decree, 43 x 30 days to month = 1260 prophetic years. The Papal power was decreed into power in 5438AD by Justinains decree making the pope sole interpetor of scricpture and final word in Europe on politcal items. 538 to 1798 when Napoleon decreed its death, interesting exactly 1260 years. Intersting that there is no explaination of the 7 heads in Revelation 13, you must go to Revelation 17 for a detailed explaination. John see’s in the wilderness setting a beast with a woman riding its 7 heads, notice the woman is not on the back of the beast, but riding on the 7 heads, odd ha! And there are 10 horns. The body of the scarlet beast in Revelation is full of blaspheme, notice the same in Revelation 13 a mouth was given the leopard beast in Revelation 13 and it speaks blaspheme. John see’s the beast as “WAS” “is not” and “yet is” So the scarlet colored beast John see’s “was” this politcal power as represented by BEAST’s “was” past tense to seeing the vision. The next phase of the beast “is not” John is seeing the vision at the time there is no political power, only the woman is seen at this time, she is drunken with the blood of the saints. He has stopped killing during the “is not” and is totally drunk with God’s people’s blood. It was the dark ages we saw God’s people blood spilled. The Papal reign and terror for which John Paul II apolized took place during the dark ages. The politcal power of the Papacy ruled supreme 538 to 1798 be decree of Justinan. The reason we see the woman sitting on the 7 heads and not the back of the scarlet beast is because this show’s the church dominating after 1798, and the poltical power of the Papacy has lost its control over the kings of the earth, “is not”. During the second phase of the Papal power we see 7 heads, 7 mountains, 7 kings. John is told five are fallen, one is, Since the woman sits on the 7 heads during the “is not” phase we should look to its leadership as heads, just as we did in Daniel 7 and its four heads and lines of rulers in Greece.  The 7 Papal heads are after 1798. This whole vision is for us today. Christ comes and destroys the 8th Papal head since 1798 he does not live out his full live span he is destroyed by Christ second coming. All the cardinals to replace John Paul II are now in their 70’s. So time is short!!

Date: 21 Nov 2003
Time: 19:28:21

Also notice in Revelation 18 John says after seeing the things in Revelation 17 he sees another angel come down with great power and enlighten the earth, is the great enlightenment, the cry is to come out of Babylon the Mother of harlots. Harlots are childern of the mother, there were no harlots during the dark ages, not until the refomation took place did we see protestant spring up. Revelation 18 protrays the Papal power and protestants her childern all in apostasy from God. Her plagues come in one day, death, morning and famine. These are the plagues of the 7 vials in Revelation 16. The details John saw regarding Babylon and its fall is a message John see’s for the last days. Remember the message is for the end time’s. John saw this woman sitting on the 7 heads, the Mother of harlots sits on the 7 Papal heads during the “is not” phase of its political power after 1798 after its decreed death. The political power of the Papacy has been restrained by God since 1798, it does not control the world during the time of the 7 papal heads, we only see the church. But as the 8th comes to power after John Paul II, we see massive changes. God will release the restrains imposed on its politcal power to control the kings of the earth as we will see ecumencial movement to unite the entire world under the power. The message if Babylon’s fall is for us today, christ is to return under the “yet is” 8th Papal name since 1798. This message as nothing to do with Roman emperors, or ancient kingdoms, this is a message God has blinded us to until now!! The political power of the Papacy was 538-1798 by decree for 1260 years. After 1798 the political power is restained by God and we see 7 Papal name’s adding to 665 as of JOhn Paul II, After John Paul II we will see a new 8th Papal name, none of the previous name’s in history will be used. Then its polical power becomes “yet is” as the entire world comes under its power, the kings of the earth will commit fornication with its polital power as they did prior to 1798. Ron

Date: 09 Jul 2007
Time: 20:41:56

In context with the entire 17th chapter of Revelation (and many other portions of the Book of Revelation), the phrase “five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come…” [verse 10] cannot be linked with “pagan” Rome and her emperors. Why?

Well, this section of prophecy is leading us to identify seven specific “kings” [verse 10] which are directly related to a “whore” and “woman” [verses 1,3-6,9] who is interpreted by scripture to be “that great city” [Rev17:18;14:8] that sits on “seven mountains” [verse 9] at a time immediately preceding:
1. a final call to “come out of her” [Rev 18:1-4] (because she (Babylon) is …”fallen, is fallen”…18:2; 14:8)and,
2. the eternal destruction of those who “worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand” [Rev14:9-11]
3. the final judgment of the “great whore” [Rev.17:1;18:8-10;19:2]

Taking scripture in context… matching like phrases with like phrases, and comparing one to the other,
leaves absolutely no room for “Nero” and company.
To properly identify the “great city” and
There are some other very good comments on this site, but they do not provide enough direct scriptural substantiation (even if I may agree with some of them):-)…and this is dangerous.
Refer to Revelation 22:18,19.


Date: 15 Jun 2010
Time: 17:44:22

I am a futurist, but I was surprised that Mr. Foy Wallace, earlier, came to the same conclusion that I did independant of his view, regarding the five fallen kings as Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero.

However, Mr. Wallace makes a mistake in thinking that Domitian was a Caesar. Domitian was of the
Flavian clan. Nero was the last of Julio-Claudian bloodline verified by secular history. The 7th king, yet to come of John’s time that will rule for a short time is future, the Antichrist. The Antichrist will be of the Julio-Claudian bloodline.

In Revelation 17, none of the heads are wounded. And the 6 heads, imo, Mr. Wallace has properly identified.

However, in Revelation 13 unlike Revelation 17, the wounded head is part of the vision, which would be the 7th, since the other 6 are accounted for at John’s time.

The 8th king will be the recovered Antichrist.


Doug L.

Date: 12 Jun 2012
Time: 15:52:00

Vespasian was the king ruling when Jerusalem (aka Babylon) was burned and destroyed. Titus (who would be the next to rule) was the general who destroyed Jerusalem.

Since the prophecy says the beast (the 8th king) would destroy the harlot (Jerusalem), then it must refer to one of the two mentioned above, as they were the only ones who were involved with that.

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