What is the Mystery Religion in Revelation 17?

I recently received a question concerning a statement I made in my devotional guide through the Bible that I call 52 Weeks of Pursuit. The statement I made had to do with the Roman Catholic Church. Though my answer to the question is highly controversial and could potentially be explosive because of the tremendous significance of the question to our time (and to the eternal destiny of over a billion people worldwide), I thought it important to share with you both the question and my response.

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Here is the question:

I'm sure you get a million questions and I will wait patiently for your reply. In your 52 Weeks of Pursuit, in Week 52, Day 5, you state that the mystery religion is Roman Catholicism. I thought it would be Islam. Can you tell me why you think the Catholic church will dominate the tribulation? Thanks.


This was my response:

Thanks so much for the time you’ve invested using the “52 Weeks of Pursuit” to help guide you through the Bible! And I appreciate your very pertinent question regarding Islam vs. Roman Catholicism with regard to Revelation 17. I’ll be glad to humbly give you my reasons for believing what I believe.

In Revelation 17, John identifies the religion to which he is referring as the Mother of Harlots (Rev 17:5). In other words, it is the religion that birthed all of the other false religions in the world, and is called “Mystery Babylon, the Great” (17:5). That mother religion, of course, is the famed Tower of Babel religion of Genesis 11.

History proves that the Tower of Babel religion was all about a supposed “holy mother” who had a miraculous conception and gave birth to a “holy child.” Both the woman and child are pictured in ancient carvings and inscriptions all over the world, with halos over their heads, and both are worshipped as part of this whole religious system.

The “holy mother” was called Semiramis and the “holy child” was called Tammuz in the Tower of Babel religion, but, of course, they came to be called by different names all over the world when God scattered the people and confounded their language in Genesis 11.

By the time we get to Judges 17, this false religious system is described as having:

I would presume that sounds familiar!

In the first part of the 4th century, under the newly installed Emperor Constantine, the Tower of Babel religion simply changed into a new, mysterious garment. This was when PAGAN Rome became PAPAL Rome, the Roman Empire became the so-called Holy Roman Empire, and the Tower of Babel religion simply took on a new name and a new form. The new name was universal Christianity (which is what the word “catholic” means). The new form was that the elaborate hierarchy of the Pagan religion of Rome (the Roman version of the Tower of Babel religion) was simply “Christianized.”

Over time...

  • The pagan Roman EMPEROR became the POPE.

  • The pagan Roman SENATE became the COLLEGE of CARDINALS.

  • The pagan Roman Imperial GOVERNORS became the ARCHBISHOPS.

  • The pagan Roman Provincial GOVERNORS became the BISHOPS.

  • The pagan Roman CIVITAS became the PRIESTS.

  • The pagan Roman Vestal VIRGINS became the NUNS.

And with that, the Roman Catholic Church was up and running!

All of that provides significant background information as we make our way into Revelation 17, where the Apostle John begins to identify the woman (the one-world religious system) who sits on the back of the beast (the Antichrist) during the Tribulation Period. This is the place in scripture that I believe clearly identifies that woman as Roman Catholicism.

Whatever religious system it is, it has to fit the biblical description John lays out in this chapter. I am convinced that there is only one religious system that has ever existed that fits the description. This is a very detailed study, so please allow me cut to the chase, as it were.

Whoever this “woman” is…

  1. She is also known as “that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Rev 17:18) We call it Vatican City today, and history reveals that city is the only city on earth who has ever reigned over kings of many nations. Ask Charlemagne about it! She is a political power who even has a seat in the United Nations!

  2. She is “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev 17:6) Through the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has persecuted, tortured and murdered more Bible-believing Christians than pagan Rome ever thought to! Some historians estimate that the Roman Catholic Church is guilty of producing well over 50 million martyrs! (Some estimates go as high as 150 million!)

  3. The colors of the woman are “purple and scarlet” (the colors of clerical non-liturgical dress) and her symbol is a “golden cup” (a major feature in mass) according to Revelation 17:4.

  4. And if that weren’t enough, Revelation 17:9 says that the woman sits on seven mountains. Rome has historically been known as the city on seven hills. Just type that into Google and see what the first result is!

Of the thousands of cities in the world, only one fits the description in Revelation 17. And these are just a few of the reasons I believe Revelation 17 identifies the Roman Catholic Church as the woman (or mystery/one-world religion) of the Antichrist. I’m sure that’s more information than you bargained for, but I hope it helps! God bless you, my sister!

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And that was the end of my email to the gracious lady asking the question. But may I add for you, my friends—and man, if you know me, I hope this goes without saying (though I’m going to say it anyway!) I want to make sure you know that I in no way, shape or form, have anything whatsoever against Roman Catholics! I love Roman Catholics! I have and have had many Roman Catholic friends through the years, and I would do anything in the world for them—except mask the truth.

Though I don’t have anything at all against Roman Catholics, in all honesty, I must admit, I do, have something against the Roman Catholic Church. It is a false religious system that today has over a billion followers! It preaches what 2 Corinthians 11:4 calls another Jesus, another gospel, and it is of another spirit.

People who follow the “Christ” of Roman Catholicism, who receive the “gospel” of Roman Catholicism, and who receive the “spirit” of Roman Catholicism (and there are many who do so out of the sincerity of their hearts!) will, sadly, be lost from Christ unless they receive the real truth of God’s word. Oh, may God open the eyes of Roman Catholics (and Muslims, for that matter!) before it is eternally too late!


Mark Trotter is the associate pastor at ONE Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA, author of “52 Weeks of Pursuit” as well as an instructor of LFBI. This post, originally shared on Facebook, gives an overview of the mystery religion of Revelation 17 and why Mark believes John was writing about the Roman Catholic Church.