Skip to main content

Lesson 12 Revelation 17:1-22:21

Lesson 12 Revelation 17:1-22:21
table of contentsback to books

A Spiritual Interpretation of Revelation

As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065

Lesson Outline

  1. Metaphysical meanings of Babylon and Jezebel.
  2. Metaphysical significance of the bewailing of the kings of the earth over Babylon's destruction.
  3. Reappearance of the white horse and rider.
  4. Metaphysical significance of Satan bound a thousand years, then loosed again.
  5. The dominance of the number twelve in all the descriptions of the new heaven and new Earth.
  1. Rev. 17:1-22:21
  2. Be Ye Transformed 253-285
  1. What is the meaning of Babylon as a metaphysical symbol? What does it have in common with the symbolism of Jezebel?
  2. What is the metaphysical meaning of the bewailing of the kings of the earth over the destruction of Babylon?
  3. Metaphysically, what do the white horse and rider stand for in human nature?
  4. What idea is symbolized as Satan bound for a thousand years, and then loosed again for awhile?
  5. In the many descriptions of details concerning the heavenly city of the new Jerusalem, why does the number twelve dominate?
  6. From your own metaphysical understanding, give a commentary on the twelve kinds of fruit on the tree of life in the new Jerusalem.

Lesson Text


These chapters deal in very fanciful imagery with the "heyday" and downfall of Babylon. The metaphysical significance of this is hinted at in Rev. 17:5: "... and on her forehead was written a name of MYSTERY: 'BABYLON THE GREAT, MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF EARTH'S ABOMINATIONS.'"

The city of Babylon has almost the same metaphysical meaning as the character Jezebel. Both represent negative emotions. The word Babylon means "confusion; chaos; vanity; nothingness." These definitions describe our negative emotions, just as the meaning of Jezebel did.

Chapter seventeen describes Babylon as seductive, dangerous, harmful , and abominable. The same might be said for negative emotions in general. The "fornications" committed with her by the "kings of the earth" refer to those times when, in our human thinking, we have placed our sense of I AM into our negative emotions (fornication).

The downfall of Babylon described in chapter eighteen symbolizes the Truth that our negative emotional states (Babylon) and the results of those states (her fruits) must eventually come to an end. The products of negative emotions (abomination) shall be reduced to nothingness (ashes). Just as the physical planet (Earth) in Revelation shall be cleansed of the abominable city of Babylon, so shall our metaphysical planet (soul) be cleansed of abominable negative emotions.

Rev. 18:9 "And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and were wanton with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning."

What is the significance of the fact that the kings of the Earth and the merchants bewail and lament the destruction of Babylon? Their laments began after an angel announced, "... Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great ....!" (Rev. 18:2) This means that all negative emotional states must fail to survive. They may have a great "heyday" in us while they last, but they cannot last. Every negative emotion carries its own seed of destruction, which is working even when it seems to have power over a person.

But what about the wailing and weeping by the kings of the Earth and the merchants? The "kings of the earth" and "merchants" stand for those parts of our human nature which still hold to the belief that there are desirable and worthwhile things to hold on to in negative emotions. These parts of our minds still believe that there is a serious loss when a negative emotion is given up or taken away. There is still something in human nature which prizes negativity and is reluctant to abandon it.

NOTE: At one time, on the evolutionary ladder, it is probable that what we now experience as negative emotions were primitive levels of certain survival instincts. As such, they had validity and usefulness. But with the continuing of the evolution of consciousness, they have long served their old purpose and are no longer needed. They have now fulfilled their old role and are redundant and dangerous. Their energies need to be converted into more positive and useful forms in keeping with current evolutionary demands. When this is done within a person, it is called "redemption."

Rev. 19 This chapter mentions the forthcoming marriage of the Lamb and his bride, which is fulfilled in the finale of Revelation.

Rev. 19:11 "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a sat upon it is called Faithful and True ..."

This is the reappearance of the white horse and rider mentioned earlier in the book, but this time the rider is named specifically (in chapter six he was not named). He is given the name Faithful and True. When we remember that in chapter six, his meaning was given as our spiritual aspirations and our commitment to Spirit, this makes it quite appropriate that he be named Faithful and True. Faith and Truth in our consciousness are the origins of our spiritual aspirations and our willingness to commit our lives to things spiritual.

Rev. 20:2-3 "And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the new Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while."

Rev. 20:7 "And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison."

"Thousand," or any number of zeros following a number, is always the biblical numerical symbol designating unlimited or unspecified. This is a constant. In these statements, the author is referring through the symbolism to the fact that in our human existences, we seem always to have alternating and contrasting cycles and phases of events and experiences. The actual length of time of any cycle is unspecified (000) and may vary quite widely. But a cycle of activity of any sort is referred to as lasting a "thousand years," which does not mean 1,000 years of literal time, but simply as an unspecified period of time.

Satan bound a thousand years is symbolic of periods in our lives when negativity is not dominating our mental and emotional states. We enjoy a blessed sense of freedom, and we learn and grow quite rapidly during these periods.

But it seems that after each of these good cycles, the "ancient serpent" of negative impulse is let out again "for a little while." This is merely a description of the type of fluctuation between positive and negative energy expressions, quite typical of all human nature and its pattern of evolution. THERE IS NOTHING ALARMING OR ABNORMAL ABOUT THIS EXPERIENCE OF FLUCTUATING BETWEEN POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE.

Rev. 20:10 "... and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

Rev. 20:14 "Then DEATH and HADES (hell, KJV) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death. ..."

Rev. 20:15 "... and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

These statements symbolize the processes within the soul of a person who has learned to control the lower, negative, Satanic factors in consciousness. Such a person gives top priority to expressions of his higher, Christlike levels of consciousness. Such a soul is designated by the author as "he who shares in the first resurrection." (Rev. 20:6)

In this soul, the drastic fluctuations between positive and negative subside. In this soul, there is more of the expressing of the twelve faculties in harmonious integration (the WHOLE consciousness). There is also a definite and permanent ability to distinguish between Truth and error. All error will be rejected and let go, consigned to a dissolving and purifying process carried out by spiritual judgment and spiritual elimination (lake of fire).

It is significant that the first two items to go into this final dissolving and purifying process are: "DEATH and HELL were thrown into the lake of fire." Death first; then Hell. Hell or Hades stands for useless, unnecessary suffering. And the concept of death now held in the minds of the majority of mankind is completely erroneous. It shall be done away with, along with hell. The lake of fire is not a symbol of punishment but of cleansing and elimination. Its fires are the reducing of negative forms of mental and emotional energy into the basic purity and harmless substance (ashes).

Then comes the next blessing. "... and if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." This means doing away with anything that is not a real, legitimate, or useful part of life (not found written in the book of life). This means anything that is harmful, erroneous, useless for further progress, such as sickness, unhappiness, anxiety, fear, loneliness, boredom, hopelessness, hatred, hurt feelings, etc. These are not things "written into our book of life by the Christ Mind," so they shall be dissolved into elemental substance by the purifying processes of Spirit (lake of fire; fire of God).


Since these chapters conclude the book of Revelation, they constitute the climax of the Bible narrative as a whole. These chapters present a very special challenge to both serious students and casual readers, because they symbolically describe something which probably few persons, if any, have as yet experienced; a state of inner and outer well-being based upon a totally integrated consciousness of Truth.

Outwardly and literally these chapters consist of details about the new city of Jerusalem which comes down from heaven. Everything about the city is connected with the number twelve. The word Jerusalem means "habitation of peace." Metaphysically, it stands for an illumined spiritual consciousness. Such a consciousness produces total well-being, inwardly and outwardly, for the one who has attained it.

The number twelve is used lavishly in both chapters. In every descriptive detail concerning the new city we find the number twelve, the numerical symbol of wholeness and perfection:

  1. 12 gates.
  2. 12 angels at the gates.
  3. 12 foundations for the walls.
  4. 12 names of apostles written in the foundations.
  5. 12,000 stadia (furlongs, KJV) the measurement of the city.
  6. 144 (12 X 12) cubits as the measurement of the wall.
  7. 12 precious jewels on the foundations of the walls.
  8. 12 pearls as gates.
  9. 12 kinds of fruit on the tree of life.

The number twelve, as used in these final pages of Revelation, stands for inner and outer wholeness and perfection — perfect in expression as well as in being. Until in the final chapters, the number twelve has been used in the Bible in connection with POTENTIAL perfection, possibility of perfection. Here it is being used as perfection in actualization and expression. This is something that is probably beyond the comprehension of human thinking as it exists today. We can probably only grasp it intuitively.

The climactic use of the symbolism of twelve is found in the twelve kinds of fruit on the tree of life. (Rev. 22:2) The tree of life in Revelation is in contrast to the tree of life in Genesis. The Genesis tree of life is guarded by a cherubim with a flaming sword. This is to keep imperfect human nature (Adam after the "fall") from gaining immortal life while in that imperfect state of consciousness. Such an eternal existence would be terrible for the one experiencing it.

The tree of life in Revelation is freely offered to all who are eligible to approach it. These are persons who have earned the New Jerusalem consciousness (full spiritual illumination). While the tree of life in Genesis provides eternal existence in limited material consciousness, the tree of life in Revelation provides unlimited eternal life in spiritual consciousness.

The twelve kinds of fruit on the tree symbolize the true inner realization of the nature and character of our twelve spiritual faculties. True eternal life is the harmonized and integrated awareness of and expression of the twelve powers of man as revealed by Jesus Christ:

  1. Faith
  2. Love
  3. Judgment
  4. Order
  5. Strength
  6. Power
  7. Imagination
  8. Understanding
  9. Zeal
  10. Will
  11. Elimination
  12. Life

Before Revelation ends, there are two very curious verses which might be taken in a number of ways. We shall not attempt to interpret them in this course, since it is not clear as to why they appear.

Rev. 22:18-19 "I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

Although we promised not to attempt to interpret these statements, one cannot help but speculate as to whether or not the writer might have been expressing some personal consternation over the fact that at the time of his writing there were no COPYRIGHT LAWS!

But now, the very beautiful and appropriate ending of the book of Revelation and, therefore, the closing blessing from the Bible: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen." (Rev. 22:21)

Preceding Entry: Revelation Metaphysics 11: Lesson 11 Revelation 11:1-16:21