Kings Or Kingdoms?
By Phil Mayo
This post has been a work in progress since I first published it on the 12th June. So it’s worth re-reading to check the edits I’ve made.
Those familiar with the book of Revelation will no doubt have pondered the various ideas put forward by eschatologists regarding the correct interpretation of Revelation 17:10
“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.”
Most of those I’ve seen interpret this to refer to seven kingdoms that have influence over the Jewish people, dating backward from the prophesied final Antichrist kingdom to Egypt.
But there’s a major problem with that. And it’s not about interpretation, which we can argue over and never reach agreement.
It’s about translation.
The original Greek language of Revelation has a word for ‘king’ – βασιλεύς, έως, ὁ. It’s a masculine noun. (Greek has masculine and feminine, like French) It’s pronounced bas-il-yooce.
Greek also has a word for ‘kingdom’ – βασιλεία, ας, ἡ. It’s a feminine noun, pronounced bas-il-i’-ah.
In Revelation 17:10 the masculine noun (βασιλεύς, έως) is used.
And do you know what? Our God, who gave the Revelation to John, is an expert on Greek grammar.
So I’m sure you will agree that there wouldn’t be any misunderstanding of what Jesus was saying on John’s part. And that Jesus wouldn’t say βασιλεύς, έως, ὁ if He meant βασιλεία, ας, ἡ. Therefore we must accept the fact that kings, not kingdoms are intended.
By the way, the definition is generally king or ruler. But in some passages, and I believe definitely in the case of Rev 17:10, it is ’emperor‘.
Some will argue that verse 17:9 says the seven heads represent seven mountains. And mountains are sometimes allegorical representations of kingdoms in the Old Testament.
That is true. But where else do we see the Lord using a double layered allegory: heads means mountains means kingdoms?
We don’t. This is an invented interpretive rule, that has no biblical precedent or justification. The Greek word is ὄρος, ους, τό (oros). Which means mountains/hills, nothing else!
And the Greek word translated ‘head’ is κεφαλή, ς, (kephalé). Which according to Strong’s Concordance, means (a) the head, (b) met: a corner stone, uniting two walls; head, ruler, lord. So we see there is really no justification for interpreting the seven heads to mean anything more than mountains/hills and kings.
The references to mountains/hills and kings is more likely intended to have the secondary effect of reminding us of the city of Rome, that sits on seven hills, and its legendary seven kings.
There is another point that should be considered. Rev 4:1 records John being told “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place hereafter”. That statement means Rev 17’s beast is depicting something that must happen some time future to John’s situation on the Isle of Patmos. So it can’t be speaking of past or present kingdoms.
So now we have the correct translation and interpretation, we can look at how to apply them.
Who are these kings/emperors?
They are emperors’ of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Beast Empire, currently being formed through the EU.
The following is an extract from my book – Daniel’s Seal Broken:
Revelation 17:10 tells us five of the kings are fallen. Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was the one spoken of here as the fifth fallen king. His significance, apart from his name, is that he was the last king to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by a Pope. He also ruled over an empire that actually was worldwide (though not the whole earth).
Subsequent emperors were not crowned by a Pope. Charles V reign from 1519 to 1556AD also coincided with the Protestant Reformation and the Sack of Rome in 1527AD. A major blow to the Church of Rome and the Holy Roman Empire. And another reason why the prophecy begins with a reference to him.
The previous four kings were:
Charles IV (H.R.E) 1346/1349 – 1355AD. (Elected twice)
Charles III (The Fat) 881 – 888AD.
Charles II (The Bald) 875 – 877AD.
Charles I (Charlemagne) 800 – 814AD.
I believe it was the Reformation, which split the Roman Catholic Church and the empire/beast on which it rides that is the mortal wound to one of the beast’s seven heads. This split resulted in numerous wars.
In 1534 the English Parliament passed The Act of Supremacy that separated England from the Catholic Church and Papal authority. It declared King Henry VIII to be the supreme head on earth of the Church of England. And that the English Crown shall enjoy “all honours, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity.”
What we see in that Act, is the king and his successors assuming the roll of high priest. A thing that God forbade kings to do.
That wound was (metaphorically speaking) to the head of Charles VI. (“one is”) He was the first from that bloodline to ascend the throne of the Holy Roman Empire whom the Church of Rome did not crown. He reigned during a time when the Reformation wound was killing the beast.
His reign also coincided with the beginning of Britain’s rise as a world empire. These were the significant issues during his reign that caused the writer of Revelation to focus on him as the king at the point in time when the vision begins.
Charles VII: (“the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must remain a short time.”) Reigned from 1742 to only 1745AD, and for most of those years he lived in exile, his territories having been invaded by the Austrians. He managed to win back Munich in October 1744AD, but died three months later. He was the last king with the name Charles to reign as emperor.
You may ask why do I choose only those emperors of the Holy Roman Empire with the name Charles?
“This requires wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because the number is that of a man, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six”. [Revelation 13:18]
Onomastics (also known as onomatology) is the study of names and their origins. According to this science, the name Charles means man. In fact Charles and man are interchangeable. It can also refer to attributes of the man, like stout. Recall Daniel’s description of the horn in Dan 7:20 whose look was more stout or imposing than his fellows.
So Revelation 13:18 could be interpreted as saying: This requires wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because the number is that of a Charles, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.
An expanded meaning of the name Charles is free man. This could be what is referred to in Revelation 13:1 as “the name of blasphemy“. And in II Thessalonians 2:3 as “The man of lawlessness“. These kings declaring by their name to be under no higher authority than themselves.
That explanation fits well with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image of Daniel chapter two. That depicted a decline in ruling power, from Nebuchadnezzar’s absolute dictatorship. To subsequent empires in which the king’s power was subject to the law. Like Nebuchadnezzar, the Antichrist man will not be governed by the law of the empire he rules over.
Don’t be misguided by the popular interpretation of that dream image as showing a decline in wealth and power of the kingdoms that followed Babylon. The Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires were bigger, wealthier, and more powerful then Babylon ever was. Daniel’s interpretation in the original language is speaking of the difference between Nebuchadnezzar’s royal power, and the kings of the empires that follow him.
The eighth king with that first name, will have a full name that equates to the number 666.
We still await Emperor Charles VIII.
But if you want to know who I think he will be. And if you are interested in reading my interpretation of a lot of other prophecies I believe have been misinterpreted in the past. Please click Buy Now on the top bar and get my book.