Question: A previous newsletter misquoted Revelation:17:9-10 to fit your interpretation. Would you correct this, please—your work is too important to be tarnished with such an error. [From our archives, 10/1/1993]
Response: Your accusation is a serious one, which I don’t take lightly. Let me quote directly from the KJV so you can see that I have neither misquoted nor rewritten it: “The seven heads are seven mountains [Gr., lit. a rise of ground, hills, or mountains; and no city could sit on seven high mountains, so the meaning must be hills], on which the woman sitteth. 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.”
Certainly the King James doesn’t say that the seven mountains are seven kings, nor does it even say that the seven heads represent seven kings, though that could be implied. It says, “...and there are seven kings....” NAS says, “They are seven kings....” It would make no sense to say (as you seem to assume) that the heads mean mountains and that the mountains really mean kings and not mountains. Then why mention mountains at all? The most one can say is that the heads (like many other symbols—the beast itself, for example, means Antichrist, Satan, and the revived Roman Empire) have a dual meaning: hills on which the city sits and also kings. No city sits (i.e., is located) on kings, much less upon kings who are no more or haven’t “yet come.”
The woman’s identity is carefully established beyond mistake: 1) she is a city; 2) that sits or is built (to sit somewhere, a city must have been built there) on seven hills; 3) that rules over the kings of the earth; 4) that has committed fornication with the kings of the earth; and 5) is drunk with the blood of the martyrs. No city except Rome and particularly Vatican City qualifies. I hope this has been helpful.