Chapter 18

2 Babylon is fallen. 4 The people of God commanded to depart out of her. 9 The kings of the earth, 11 with the merchants and mariners, lament over her. 20 The saints rejoice for the judgments of God upon her.

1. After these things. This refers to the sequence in which chs. 17 and 18 were revealed to John, not necessarily to the sequence of events therein recorded. John does not mean that the events of ch. 18 take place subsequently to all of those referred to in ch. 17. See on ch. 4:1.

Another angel. That is, another than the angel of ch. 17. This angel unites with the third angel of ch. 14:9–11 in the proclamation of God’s final message to the world (EW 277), and his message is a repetition of that of the second angel of ch. 14:8 (GC 603).

From heaven. The angel is represented as having come forth from the presence of God on a special mission, and in the act of descending to earth, at the time John saw him.

Power. Gr.exousia, “authority” (see on ch. 17:13). This angel comes forth from the throne room of the universe; commissioned to proclaim God’s last message of mercy and to warn the inhabitants of earth of the imminent fate awaiting “Babylon the great.”

Lightened. Or, “illuminated.” Despite satanic efforts to shroud the earth in darkness, God now sets it ablaze with the glorious light of saving truth (see on John 1:4, 5, 9).

Glory. Gr.doxa (see on John 1:14; Rom. 3:23). The “glory” may be thought of as representing the character of God (cf. Ex. 33:18, 19; 34:6, 7), here particularly as revealed in the plan of salvation.

2. Cried mightily. In order that all might hear. The message of ch. 18 is to be proclaimed during the time of the loud cry of the third angel (GC 603, 604, 614, 615, 653), and thus merits the most careful study.

Babylon the great. See on chs. 14:8; 17:5.

Is fallen. See on ch. 14:8. Her spiritual fall is now to be demonstrated and confirmed, and she is now to be punished. Compare Isa. 13:21, 22; 21:9; Jer. 51:8.

Devils. Literally, “demons” (see on Mark 1:23). “Babylon the great” is now wholly demon possessed (see on Rev. 17:5, 6, 14. cf. on Matt. 12:43–45). Perhaps, in a special sense, reference is here made to modern spiritism (see on Rev. 13:13; Rev. 13:13, 14; cf. EW 273, 274; GC 558, 588, 624).

Foul spirit. Literally, “unclean spirit” (see on Mark 1:23).

Unclean and hateful bird. Metaphor is graphically added to metaphor to intensify the description of Babylon’s utter perversion and apostasy. In literary form ch. 18 reflects the structure of ancient Hebrew poetry (see Vol. III, p. 23).

3. All nations. See on ch. 17:2.

Wine of the wrath. See on ch. 14:8.

Kings of the earth. See on chs. 16:14; 17:2, 10, 12.

Committed fornication. See on ch. 17:2.

Merchants. Gr. emporoi, literally, “ones on a journey,” and thus “travelers,” or “merchants.” The highly figurative language of ch. 18 leaves it uncertain whether these “merchants” are literal or figurative. Either is possible. If figurative, these “merchants” would represent those who advocate the teachings and policies of “Babylon the great” (cf. Isa. 47:11–15), the goods she has for display and sale to the people of the world, to deceive them (see on Rev. 18:11).

Abundance. Gr. dunamis, “power,” here, probably in the sense of “influence.” Compare on ch. 5:12.

Delicacies. Gr. streµnos, “wantonness,” “idle luxury” (cf. on v. 7).

4. Another voice. That is, as the Greek implies, another angelic voice.

Come out of her. Almost till the very close of time, apparently, some—perhaps many—of God’s people have not heard the call to come out of mystical Babylon. Compare God’s call to His people in ancient times to flee from literal Babylon (see Isa. 48:20; Jer. 50:8; 51:6, 45). As God’s people formerly came out of literal Babylon in order that they might return to Jerusalem, so His people today are called out of mystical Babylon in order that they may be accounted worthy to enter the New Jerusalem. Presumably, all who are truly His people will hear His voice and heed His call (see on Matt. 7:21–27; cf. John 10:4, 5). This “voice” repeats the call of the second angel of Rev. 14:8 (see GC 390, 603; EW 277). The immediate reasons for this imperative call are stated in the last part of the verse.

Partakers. This is the first of two reasons given for hastening out of mystical Babylon. Those who partake of the sins of Babylon obviously have a share of responsibility for them (cf. Jer. 51:6).

Her sins. In a general sense, all the sins she leads men to commit, but more specifically, the sins delineated in ch. 17:2–6 (see on v. 6). In ch. 18 Babylon is arraigned before the bar of divine justice on five counts: (1) pride and arrogance, (2) materialism and luxury, (3) adultery, (4) deception, and (5) persecution (see vs. 2, 3, 5, 7, 23, 24).

Her plagues. That is, the punishment about to be meted out to her in compliance with the “judgment,” or “sentence,” of ch. 17:1 (see on chs. 16:19; 17:1, 17). The nature of these “plagues” is set forth briefly in chs. 16:19; 17:16; 18:8, 21. Most of ch. 18 consists of a graphic but highly figurative and indirect description of these “plagues.” Whereas the first five of the seven last plagues are poured out primarily upon those who collaborate with Babylon—the rulers and the inhabitants of earth (ch. 17:1, 2, 8, 12)—the punishment of Babylon, the united apostate religious organizations of earth, takes place under the seventh plague (see on chs. 16:19; 17:1, 5, 16). The sixth plague prepares the way for that punishment.

5. Her sins. See on Rev. 18:4; cf. Jer. 50:14.

Reached. Gr. kollaoµ, literally, “to glue together,” “to fasten firmly together.” The sins of Babylon are depicted as a mountainous mass reaching upward, compact and glued together.

Unto heaven. As the figurative mountain pierces the sky, so the criminal career of “Babylon the great” (see on ch. 17:6) arises before God, calling for retribution (Rev. 16:19; cf. Gen. 11:4, 5; 18:20, 21; Ezra 9:6; Jer. 51:9; Dan. 5:26, 27; Jonah 1:2). Perhaps there is an allusion here to the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:4).

Remembered. God’s long’suffering is about to end and His judgment upon mystical Babylon about to be executed (see on ch. 16:19). As applied to God, the word “remembered” commonly denotes that He is on the point of rewarding men for a particular course of action, whether good or evil (see Gen. 8:1; Ex. 2:24; Ps. 105:42; etc.).

Her iniquities. That is, her wicked acts and their consequent results, most particularly, the specific crimes charged against her in chs. 17 and 18 (see on chs. 17:6; 18:6, 7).

6. Reward her. Literally, “give her to the limit.” The harlot, that is, the apostate organization “Babylon the great” (see on chs. 14:8; 17:5), is to be repaid in full for her evil deeds. In absolute justice, Heaven does not withhold any part of the payment due. The reward to be meted out to Babylon is briefly described in ch. 17:16, 17, and at greater length in ch. 18. Compare Jer. 51:6.

As she rewarded you. Literally, “according to her deeds.” Her reward will be paid in kind. The punishment will fit the crime, that is, be appropriate to it. Compare Isa. 47:3; Jer. 50:15, 29; 51:24.

Double unto her double. Literally, “double to her the double.” Mete to her a double measure (cf. Isa. 40:2; Jer. 16:18; 17:18).

Her works. Her treatment of others is to be the norm, or standard, by which God will deal with her.

The cup. See on chs. 14:10; 17:4.

Fill. Literally, “mix.” In the same cup in which she had mixed an evil potion for others to drink, God will now mix a terrible mixture and compel her to drink it (Rev. 14:8; 17:4; cf. Jer. 50:15, 29).

7. How much. Measure for measure, the punishment will fit the crime. Her suffering and mourning will be in proportion to her former boasting and dissipation.

Glorified herself, and lived deliciously. The first part of v. 7 reads literally, “so many things have glorified her and made her wanton.” So many things have contributed to her pride and wantonness. Arrogant self-confidence has made her confident of the ultimate success of her plot to obliterate God’s remnant people and to reign supreme over the earth. She is proud of her wealth, popularity, and power. Compare Isa. 47:6–10; Eze. 28:2, 4, 5, 16.

Torment. See on chs. 17:16; 18:4.

Sorrow. Or, “mourning,” that is, as a result of the “plagues” (v. 4) that “torture” her. Compare the lamentation of the “kings” and “merchants” (vs. 9, 11).

Saith in her heart. Or, “is saying in her mind,” that is, at the time the angel of v. 4 delivers his message of warning, prior to the close of probation, and later, during the sixth plague (see on ch. 17:1). Inordinate conceit has spawned utter confidence in her evil scheme to rule the world. The attempt to deceive others has resulted in absolute self-deception. Not only has she made others “drunk,” she herself is in a state of intoxication (see on ch. 17:2, 6).

I sit a queen. Note the present tense (see above on “saith in her heart”). The true church is represented in Scripture as a “chaste virgin” (see on 2 Cor. 11:2), Christ’s bride (see on Eph. 5:23–32; cf. on Rev. 12:1; 19:7, 8). The great harlot impersonates Christ’s bride before the inhabitants of earth, over whom she claims dominion in His name. But she is a counterfeit “queen” (cf. Isa. 47:6–10). She is a harlot who has never had a legal husband, yet is able to boast of her conquests. Do not the “kings” and “great men” of the earth wait upon her (Rev. 18:9, 23)? Are they not captive to her will and dedicated instruments of her nefarious schemes (see on ch. 17:2)?

No widow. As a “widow” she would have no legal status, or claim upon the allegiance of the people of earth. Compare Isa. 47:8, 10.

Sorrow. What she least expects is certain to come upon her (see on Isa. 47:11).

8. Therefore. That is, because of her haughty boasting, proud self-exaltation, abandoned wantonness, unscrupulous lust for power and supremacy, and daring opposition to the revealed will of God.

Her plagues. See on v. 4.

One day. Some take this to be prophetic time, and thus to represent one literal year. Others consider that the angel here either stresses the suddenness and unexpectedness of the “plagues” upon mystical Babylon, particularly in view of her false sense of security (v. 7), or speaks of an indefinite period of time. In view of the fact that the same event is also said to take place in “one hour” (vs. 10, 17, 19), the second explanation appears preferable (see on Rev. 17:12; cf. Jer. 50:29, 31). Furthermore, the Greek form of the words here translated “day” and “hour” (Rev. 18:10) suggest a point—rather than a period—of time, and thus appear to stress suddenness and unexpectedness rather than duration. Compare Isa. 47:9, 11; 50:31; 51:8.

Death. The final result of “her plagues” is stated first (see on v. 21).

Mourning. See on v. 7.

Famine. There is a literal famine under the fourth plague (ch. 16:8, 9), experienced by the adherents of Babylon (cf. vs. 1, 2). However, the judgment of Babylon as an organization takes place under the seventh plague (vs. 18, 19), and the famine here referred to is doubtless figurative—as would naturally be the case with a figurative entity such as mystical Babylon, and in keeping with the highly poetic and figurative character of the entire chapter.

Utterly burned. Or, “burned up.” The figurative woman Babylon would, of course, be “burned up” with figurative fire (cf. Eph. 6:16; 1 Peter 4:12; see on Rev. 17:16). Her fate is described by an altogether different figure in ch. 18:21. For a description of events here foretold see GC 653–657.

Fire. Compare Jer. 50:32; 51:24, 25, 37.

Strong. That is, fully able to carry out His will upon Babylon (cf. ch. 17:17).

Judgeth her. Textual evidence attests (cf. p. 10) the reading “has judged.” The judgment pronounced upon Babylon is so certain that the angel speaks of it as already accomplished. See on chs. 16:19; 17:1, 17; 19:2. What befalls her is not an accident, but a deliberate act of God.

9. Kings of the earth. See on chs. 16:14, 16; 17:2, 12–14.

Committed fornication. See on ch. ch. 17:2.

Lived deliciously. See on v. 7.

Bewail her. Or, “mourn for her,” “sob on account of her,” in loud, unrestrained wailing. Anticipating their own impending fate, the hapless “kings” and “merchants” (v. 11) of earth join in a dirge of death for haughty Babylon, now in torment upon her blazing funeral pyre. The dramatic effect of vs. 9–20, which describe the inexorable doom of the great harlot, is heightened by their exotic Oriental literary form—poetic diffuseness highlighted by graphic imagery. The appeal of ch. 18 is primarily emotional, but that appeal is reinforced by incisive logic: For those who respond to God’s call to flee from the wrath to come (v. 4) there is still respite from her impending doom.

The symbolism of the chapter is drawn almost entirely from the OT, as a comparison of the many cross references cited makes evident (see Additional Note at end of chapter). A careful study of these OT parallels in connection with the historical incidents there alluded to greatly clarifies the highly symbolic imagery of this chapter. In ch. 17:16 it is the kings of the earth (cf. on v. 12) who set Babylon afire. Here, they are pictured mourning the results of that deed, perhaps in the sad realization that they must soon share Babylon’s fate (cf. Isa. 47:13–15).

Lament. Gr. koptoµ, literally, “to beat [one’s breast],” “to cut [one’s body]” in grief.

Smoke of her burning. Compare Isa. 13:19; Jer. 50:32; see on Rev. 14:10, 11; 17:16; 18:6.

10. Afar off. Doubtless in the realization that, but recently, they had collaborated with Babylon (see v. 3), were involved in her “sins,” and were, accordingly, destined to share in her “plagues” (v. 4). They realize that their own fate is inexorably bound up with hers. They had not heeded God’s call to “come out of her” (v. 4), and must soon share her fate. Compare Eze. 27:33, 35.

Alas, alas. They had expected to “receive power” (see on ch. 17:12) permanently with their paramour, mystical Babylon. She had assured them that she was enthroned a “queen” forever and that, should they cast their lot with her, they too would enjoy endless dominion (see on ch. 17:2). Realizing, too late, the futility of such a scheme, they now give way to utter remorse.

Great city. See on chs. 14:8; 17:5, 18; 18:7. In the Greek the ascription of former greatness and power to mystical Babylon is most emphatic. The emptiness of her claims is now fully apparent, for “strong is the Lord God who judgeth her” (v. 8).

Babylon. See on ch. 17:5, 18.

One hour. See on chs. 17:12; 18:8.

Judgment. Gr. krisis, the “[act of] judging,” or “[execution of] judgment,” in contrast with krima, the “[sentence of] judgment” (see on ch. 17:1). Whereas ch. 17 deals primarily with the sentence against Babylon, ch. 18 is concerned with the execution of that sentence.

11. Merchants. According to one interpretation, these “merchants” are the literal commercial and business leaders of earth, whose financial and material support have contributed so much to the luxury, splendor, and success of Babylon the great (see on vs. 7, 12–15). According to another interpretation, these are figurative “merchants,” representative of the peddlers of the spiritual merchandise of Babylon, those who have sold her doctrines and policies to the kings and peoples of earth (see on chs. 16:13, 14; 17:2, 4; see below on “merchandise”). In ch. 18:23 these “merchants” are said to be “the great men of the earth.” Compare Isa. 23:2, 8, 17, 18; 47:13, 15.

Weep and mourn. See on v. 9.

No man buyeth. The kings and peoples of earth are disillusioned, and refuse to have anything to do with Babylon. Compare Isa. 23:14; Eze. 26:15–18.

Merchandise. Gr. gomos, the “lading,” or “load,” of a ship or a beast of burden, and thus “merchandise.” According to the first interpretation mentioned above, this would be literal articles of manufacture and trade, and according to the second, or figurative interpretation, the doctrines and policies of mystical Babylon, elsewhere spoken of as her “wine” (see on ch. 17:2). The highly figurative character of ch. 18 (see on v. 9) tends to favor the latter interpretation (see above on “merchants”). With the destruction of Babylon there is an end to the flow of corrupt goods that have been sold and distributed in her name, and by which she has deceived the world.

12. Merchandise of gold. Attempts to classify the 28 items of trade listed in vs. 12, 13 and to draw some hidden meaning from them are without exegetical value. The highly diffuse and poetic character of ch. 18 suggests that the purpose of the list here given is to highlight the extensive commercial interests of Babylon, if the first interpretation mentioned in comment on v. 11 be accepted, or, according to the second, to stress the comprehensiveness of her corrupt doctrines and policies (see on chs. 16:13, 14; 17:2, 4). For a similar list of “merchandise” see Eze. 27:3–25, 33.

Thyine wood. Literally, “scented wood,” that is, odoriferous wood used for incense.

Brass. Rather, “bronze” (see on Ex. 25:3).

13. Odours. Rather, “incense.” Textual evidence favors (cf. p. 10) the addition of amoµmon, a “spice” extracted from a fragrant plant that grows in India, between the words “cinnamon” and “odours.”

Ointments. Gr. muron, “myrrh” (see on Matt. 2:11).

Frankincense. See on Matt. 2:11.

Wine. Textual evidence may be cited (cf. p. 10) for the omission of this word.

Beasts. Gr. kteµneµ, domesticated animals such as cattle and beasts of burden. Here probably cattle alone are meant.

Chariots. Gr. rhedai, a loan word from the Gallic, or Celtic introduced into Asia Minor by the Gauls who became the Galatians. Rhedai really does not mean chariots, but four-wheeled travel coaches. The use of this word in Revelation suggests that the author had lived in Asia Minor and had acquired a term familiar in that area.

Slaves. Literally, “bodies” (cf. Rom. 8:11; etc.). As an item of trade, of course, this would mean “slaves.”

And souls of men. Rather, “that is, human beings.” In the Bible the word “soul” often means “human being,” or “person” (see on Ps. 16:10; Matt. 10:28). Compare, “of men an hundred thousand” (1 Chron. 5:21), literally, “of the souls of men an hundred thousand”; “they traded the persons of men” (Eze. 27:13), literally, “they traded the souls of men.” Some have considered “souls of men” here to be a reference to the spiritual nature of the human beings under consideration.

14. Fruits. Gr. apoµra, “fruits,” or more specifically, “the season of ripe fruits,” in late summer or early autumn. Figuratively, here, reference may be to the time to which the great harlot looked forward when she could enjoy to the full the fruits of her lust (see on chs. 17:4, 6; 18:7).

Thy soul lusted after. Literally, “of the desire of thy soul,” meaning, “of your desire.” The word “soul” is often equivalent to the personal pronoun (see on Ps. 16:10; Matt. 10:28; Rev. 18:13).

Dainty and goodly. Literally, “the fat things and the splendid things,” that is, everything that contributed to her life of luxury and wantonness (see on v. 7).

Find them no more at all. The finality of the fate that has overtaken Babylon is repeated in similar words six times in vs. 21–23. Babylon now descends into the “perdition” described in ch. 17:8, 11, never to rise again. Compare Jer. 51:26; Eze. 26:21; 27:36; 28:19.

15. Merchants. See on v. 11.

These things. See vs. 12, 13.

Made rich by her. Partnership with Babylon had been mutually beneficial (cf. Eze. 27:33).

Stand afar off. See on v. 10.

Weeping and wailing. See on v. 9.

16. Alas, alas. See on v. 10.

That great city. See on v. 10.

Clothed. See on ch. 17:4.

Fine linen. Compare on ch. 19:8.

Purple, and scarlet. See on ch. 17:4.

Decked. See on ch. 17:4.

17. One hour. See on chs. 17:12; 18:8.

So great riches. Or, “all this wealth” (see on vs. 7, 11–14).

Is come to nought. Literally, “has been made desolate” (see on ch. 17:16).

Shipmaster Gr. kuberneµteµs, “helmsman,” meaning the officer in charge of navigating a ship, whether or not he does the actual steering—not its owner (cf. Acts 27:11). In highly figurative language (see on Rev. 18:9) John proceeds to develop the picture suggested by the “merchants” and their trade (vs. 11–15).

All the company in ships. Or, “everyone sailing for a place,” presumably to engage in trade. This may be taken in apposition with “shipmaster,” the two expressions thus reading, “every ship’s captain, that is, everyone sailing for a place.” The picture is of a ship’s captain taking his ship from one port to another to engage in trade.

Trade by sea. Literally, “work the sea,” that is, obtain a living from the sea, in contrast with those who do so by working the land. This would include such occupations as shipbuilding, fishing, pearl diving, and gathering the shellfish from which purple dye was extracted (see on Luke 16:19). Compare Eze. 26:17; 27:26–32.

Stood afar off. See on v. 10.

18. Cried. Or, “cried out,” or “continued to shout.” There was a veritable babel of voices as the persons mentioned in v. 17 kept shouting back and forth.

Smoke of her burning. See on v. 9.

What city. Ancient Babylon was unique (see Vol. IV, pp. 794–799). Compare Eze. 27:32.

This great city. See on chs. 14:8; 17:5, 18; 18:10.

19. Cast dust. A sign of extreme shame or grief, here the latter (see on v. 9). Compare Eze. 27:30; see on Joshua 7:6.

Cried. See on v. 18.

Weeping and wailing. See on v. 9.

Alas, alas. See on v. 10.

Made rich. See on v. 15.

All that had ships. See on v. 17.

By reason of her costliness. Literally, “from her expansiveness.” Babylon’s extravagant requirements brought wealth to those who traded in the goods in which she was interested.

One hour. See on chs. 17:12; 18:8.

Made desolate. See on ch. 17:16. Compare Isa. 13:19–22; 47:11; Jer. 50:13, 40; 51:26, 29; Eze. 26:17, 19.

20. Rejoice. Or, “keep on exulting.” The summary desolation of Babylon brings victory and joy to all righteous beings throughout the universe. The anthem of victory over Babylon is recorded in ch. 19:1–6, and the feast celebrating the deliverance of God’s people is alluded to in vs. 7–9.

Heaven. The inhabitants of heaven are first to rejoice in the triumph of Christ and His church.

Holy apostles. Textual evidence favors (cf. p. 10) the reading “saints and apostles.” The “apostles” would be the leaders of NT times, whereas “saints” would refer to the general church membership.

Prophets. Perhaps prophets generally, though here, more likely, those of OT times (see on Eph. 2:20).

Avenged you. Literally, “judged your judgment,” meaning “executed your sentence.” She had decreed the death of God’s people (see ch. 13:15; see on ch. 17:6), but now suffers the very fate to which she had consigned them. Compare the fate of Haman (Esther 7:10). For the means by which the divine sentence upon Babylon is to be executed see on Rev. 17:1, 16, 17. This event takes place under the seventh plague (ch. 16:19; cf. ch. 19:2).

21. A mighty angel. Literally, “one strong angel.”

A great millstone. A millstone of such a size as was anciently turned by an animal, in contrast with small millstones that were turned by hand.

Cast it into the sea. Compare Jeremiah’s illustration of the fate of ancient Babylon (Jer. 51:63, 64; see on Isa. 13:19; Rev. 14:8). For a Biblical explanation of the symbol of inundation see Isa. 8:7, 8; Jer. 50:9; 51:27, 42; Eze. 26:3, 4.

With violence. Literally, “with a rush,” “with a shock.” This word is used by classical Greek writers of the shock of battle and of a surging flood. In Acts 14:5 a cognate word is rendered “assault.” With one tremendous throw the millstone is hurled into the depths of the sea. Thus, with finality (see on Rev. 18:14), will Babylon sink into oblivion, or “perdition” (ch. 17:8). Compare Jer. 51:42, 64; Eze. 26:3, 19; 27:32, 34.

Found no more at all. See on v. 14. John’s description of the desolate state of ancient Babylon (vs. 21–23) must have been particularly impressive to the people of his day, in view of the fact that it was within their lifetime that the hapless city finally became an uninhabited waste (see on Isa. 13:19).

22. Voice. Or, “sound.” Verses 22, 23 constitute a vivid and highly figurative description of the desolate state of Babylon (see on v. 19). Compare Isa. 24:8; Eze. 26:13.

Harpers. Gr. kithraroµdoi, musician-singers who played the kithara, “cithara,” as accompaniment to their songs, and thus “minstrels.” The cithara was a stringed instrument with a wooden sounding box and closely resembled a lyre (see Vol. III, pp. 34–37).

Pipers. Rather, “flute players.” See Vol. III, pp. 37, 38.

Heard no more at all. The arts and merrymaking have ceased. See on Rev. 18:14; cf. Eze. 26:13.

Craftsman. The artisans, mechanics, and skilled workmen have all gone. Manufacture has ceased.

23. Candle. Literally, “lamp” (see on ch. 1:12). The utter blackness of night vividly portrays the absence of all life.

Bridegroom. All social and family life have come to an end (cf. Jer. 25:10).

Thy merchants. See on v. 11.

Great men of the earth. Compare Isa. 23:8; Eze. 26:17; 27:8; Rev. 6:15.

Sorceries. That is, the deceptions practiced by Babylon to secure the allegiance of the inhabitants of earth. See chs. 13:14; 16:14; 19:20; see on ch. 17:2; cf. Isa. 47:9, 12, 13.

24. Blood. See on chs. 16:6; 17:6.

Prophets. See on v. 20.

All that were slain. Mystical Babylon represents apostate religion since the beginning of time (see on chs. 14:8; 17:5, 13). However, chs. 13 to 18 are concerned most particularly with the culmination of apostasy at the end of time. Thus, in a general sense, “all that were slain” may properly include the martyrs of all time, but emphasis here is doubtless on those who lay down their lives in the closing struggle of the great controversy between good and evil, and probably also those whom Babylon purposes to slay but is prevented from slaying, by divine intervention (see on ch. 17:6; cf. Isa. 47:6; Jer. 51:47–49).

additional note on chapter 18

Mystical Babylon plays a major role in Rev. 14 to 19, particularly chs. 17; 18. In view of the fact that the imagery of the Revelation appears to be based largely on historical parallels in the OT (see p. 725), and especially since mystical Babylon is the figurative counterpart of the ancient literal city situated on the Euphrates (see on chs. 14:8; 17:5), a comparison of relevant OT passages may be expected to clarify, at least in part, the role attributed by Inspiration to mystical Babylon.

In large measure the imagery of the Revelation concerned with mystical Babylon is drawn from Isa. 13; 14; 47; Jer. 25; 50; 51; Eze. 26–28. For an analysis of the contribution of these OT passages to the subject under consideration see on Isa. 47:1; Jer. 25:12; 50:1; Eze. 26:13. In the following comparative table, the left-hand column consists of a composite, topical series of statements in the Revelation concerning mystical Babylon. The right-hand column lists the more significant OT passages dealing with ancient Babylon. Note the one exception—No. 5.

Mystical Babylon

Mystical Babylon in the Revelation

Old Testament Parallels


1. Meaning of the name. “Upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great” (17:5; cf. 17:7; see on 14:8; 17:5). “What city is like unto this great city!” (18:18; cf. 14:8; 16:19; 17:5, 18; 18:2, 10, 16, 21; see on 17:18).

1. “Therefore is the name of it called Babel” (Gen. 11:9; cf. 10:9, 10; 11:1-9; see on 11:4-9). “Great Babylon,” (Dan. 4:30; cf. Isa.13:19; 14:4). “[His] look was more stout [literally, “greater”] than his fellows” (Dan. 7:20). Compare Isa. 23:8; Eze. 26:17;27:32.

2. An apostate organi- zation. “The great whore” “fornication” “a woman” “mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (17:1, 2, 3, 5; cf. 14:8; 17:6, 17:7, 18; 18:4; 19:2).

2. “The lady of king- doms” (Isa. 47:5). “The Babylonians . . . defiled her with their whoredom” (Eze. 23:17; cf. Isa.23:15; Eze. 16:15, 38, 44; 23:2, 3; Nahum 3:4).

3. Wholly corrupt in character. “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habita- tion of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (18:2; cf. 14:8). “Her sins have reached unto heaven” (18:5).

3. “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” (Isa. 21:9 cf. Jer. 51:8). “Babylon . . . hath sinned against the Lord” Jer. 50:14; cf. (50:24, 29, 31, 32; 51:6). “Her judgment reacheth unto heaven” (Jer. 51:9). “Full of doleful crea- tures” (Isa. 13:21).

4. Marked by luxury and pride. “She hath glorified herself, and lived deli- ciously” “was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls” (18:7, 16; cf. 17:4).

4. “Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency” (Isa. 13:19). “Tender and delicate” “given to pleasures . . . dwellest carelessly” (Isa.47:1, 8). “The golden city” (Isa. 14:4). “Abundant in treas- ures” (Jer. 51:13). Compare Eze. 27:7, 16, 25; 28:2, 5, 13, 17.

5. Her counterpart. “That great city, the holy Jerusalem” (21:10).

5. “The Lord . . . shall choose Jerusalem” (Zech. 2:12). “They shall call Jeru- salem the throne of the Lord” (Jer. 3:17).


6. To rule the world. “She saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (18:7). She reigns “over the kings of the earth” and lures them to “make war with the Lamb” (17:18, 14; cf. 12:17; 13:7; 18:6; 19:19).

6. “Thou [Babylon] saidst, I shall be a lady for ever.” “Thou . . . sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children” (Isa. 47:7, 8; cf. v. 10). “The king of Babylon, . . . the oppressor.” “He that ruled the nations in anger” (Isa. 14:4, 6).

7. To annihilate the saints. “I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (17:6). “In her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (18:24).

7. “Babylon hath caused the slain of Israel to fall” (Jer. 51:49). “Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his [Israel’s] bones” (Jer. 50:17). “Thou didst shew them no mercy” (Isa. 47:6). Compare Ezra 5:12; Isa. 14:4, 6; Jer. 50:11; 51:25; Dan. 7:21, 25; 8:24.


8. Demonic spirits. “Babylon . . . is become the habitation of devils” (18:2). “Three unclean spirits” “the spirits of devils” (16:13, 14).

8. “The king of Baby- lon” “Lucifer” (Isa. 14:4, 12; see Eze. 28:12).

9. The great powers of earth. “A scarlet coloured beast” (17:3; cf. 19:19, 20). “The beast that was, and is not, and yet is” “even he is the eighth” “[when he] shall ascend out of the bottomless pit” (17:8, 11). “Seven heads” “seven mountains” “seven kings” (17:9, 10; see Additional Note on Chapter 17).

9. “Like a lion . . . [with] eagle’s wings” (Dan. 7:4). Compare Dan. 7:7, 19. “I am against thee [Babylon], O destroying mountain, . . . and will make thee a burnt moun- tain” (Jer. 51:25; see on Isa. 2:2).

10. All nations. “The ten horns . . . are ten kings, which . . . receive power as kings one hour with the beast” (17:12; cf. vs. 3, 7, 16). “The kings of the earth” (16:14; cf. 17:2; 18:3, 9). “These have one mind” “[and] agree” (17:13, 17).

10. “Ten horns” (Dan. 7:7; cf. v. 24). Compare Dan. 2:43. See on Rev. 17:12.

11. Other apostate relig- ious organizations. “Har- lots” (17:5). “The false prophet” (19:20; 20:10). “An image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live” (13:14).

11. See No. 2.

12. The leaders of earth. “Thy merchants were the great men of the earth” (18:23; cf. vs. 3, 11, 15). “Every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea” (18:17; cf. v. 19).

12. “The astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators” “with whom thou [Babylon] hast laboured, even thy mer- chants” (Isa. 47:13, 15). “Tyre, . . . whose mer- chants are princes, . . . the honourable of the earth” (Isa. 23:8). “All the ships of the sea with their mariners” “thy rowers” “thy mari- ners, and thy pilots,” “all thy company” (Eze. 27:9, 26, 27).

13. The peoples of earth. “All nations” (14:8; 18:3). “The inhabitants of the earth” (17:2; cf. v. 18). “They that dwell on the earth” (17:8).

13. “All the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth” (Isa. 23:17; cf. Jer. 51:49).


14. Universal religio-po-litical union. “Sit upon a scarlet coloured beast” “the beast that carrieth her” “seven heads . . . on which the woman sit- teth” (17:3, 7, 9). “The kings of the earth, . . . have committed for- nication and lived deli- ciously with her” (18:9; cf. 17:2, 4; 18:3). “Receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These . . . shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (17:12, 13).

14. “[Tyre] shall turn to her hire, and shall com- mit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth” (Isa. 23:17). See No. 2.

15. Her policy and teach- ings. “A golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her forn- ication” (17:4). “She made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (14:8; cf. 17:2; 18:3). “Did corrupt the earth with her fornication” (19:2).

15. “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad” (Jer. 51:7).

16. Satanic miracles: de- ception. “The spirits of devils, working miracles” (16:14; cf. 13:13, 14; 19:20). “By thy sorceries were all nations deceived” (18:23). “Great wonders” “mir- acles” (13:13, 14). “Merchandise” (18:11).

16. ”The multitude of thy [Babylon’s] sorceries” “the great abundance of thine enchantments” (Isa. 47:9; cf. 47:12, 13). With a few exceptions the long list of 18:12, 13 is duplicated in Eze. 27.

17. Absolute control of men’s minds. “Sitteth upon many waters” “[that is] peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (17:1, 15). “They that dwell on the earth shall wonder . . . when they behold the beast” (17:8; cf. 13:13, 14).

17. “Dwellest upon many waters” (Jer. 51:13; cf. Eze. 28:2). “All people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him” (Dan. 5:19).


18. God arraigns Baby- lon. “It is done.” “Great Babylon came in remem- brance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (16:17, 19;cf. 18:5). “The judgment of the great whore” (17:1; cf. 19:2). “Strong is the Lord God who judgeth her” (18:8).

18. “I have taken out of thine [Israel’s] hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: but I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee” (Isa. 51:22, 23). “I will punish the king of Babylon, and that na- tion . . . for their iniq- uity.” “Ye [Babylon] shall certainly drink . . . Should ye be utterly unpunished? . . . The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation” (Jer. 25:12, 28-30; cf. Jer. 50:18, 31). “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. . . . Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting” (Dan. 5:26, 27).

19. Her accomplices turn against her. “God hath put in their hearts to ful- fil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdoms unto the beast, until the words of God shall be ful- filled” (17:17). “These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (17:13). Gathered the kings of the earth “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14). “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them” (17:14). “The ten horns” and “the beast [see on 17:16] . . . shall ate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (17:16; cf. 18:19; 19:20). “Her plagues . . . death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire” (18:8).

19. “I will bring upon that land [Babylon] all my words which I have prov- nounced against it, even all that is written” (Jer. 25:13). “Blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms.” “For every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Baby- lon” (Jer. 51:27, 29). “I will raise and cause to come up against Baby- lon an assembly of great nations” (Jer. 50:9). “The kingdoms of na- tions gathered together [against Babylon]: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle” (Isa. 13:4). “I will kindle a fire in his cities” (Jer. 50:32). “The mighty men of Babylon . . . have burned her dwellingplaces (Jer. 51:30).”

20. Her annihilation is absolute. “A mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all” (18:21). “Divided into three parts” (16:19; cf. 13:2, 4, 11, 15; 16:13; 19:20). “The voice of hapers, and musicians, and of pipers, and tumpeters, . . . shall be heard no more at all in thee” (18:22, 23). “Her plagues come in one day” “in one hour” (18:8, 10; cf. 18:17, 19).

20. “The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is cov- ered with the multitude of the waves thereof.” “Bind a stone to it [a docu- ment foretelling Babylon’s doom], and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: and thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her” (Jer. 51:42, 63, 64; cf. Eze. 26:3, 19; 27:32, 34). “Two things shall come. to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of chil- dren, and widowhood” “[evil] shall . . . come upon thee [Babylon]; . . . mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desola- tion shall come upon thee suddenly. . . . None shall save thee” (Isa. 47:9 11, 15; cf. Jer. 50:32; 51:8, 13, 26, 29). “Thy kingdom is di- vided” (Dan. 5:28; cf. Zech. 10:3; 11:8). “Babylon is taken” “make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein.” “It shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate.” “So shall no man abide there” (Jer. 50:2, 3, 13, 40). “I will cause the noise of thy [Tyre’s] songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard” (Eze. 26:13; cf. 26:3, 19, 21; 27:32, 34, 36; 28:19).

21. Her punishment is appropriate to her crimes. “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her” (18:6, 7).

21. “I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands” (Jer. 25:14). “I will render unto Babylon . . . all their evil that they have done in Zion” (Jer. 51:24). “As she hath done, do unto her.” “Recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her” (Jer. 50:15, 29).

22. Her accomplices la- ment her. “The kings of the earth . . . shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas” (18:9, 10). “The merchants of the earth” “shall stand afar off for her the fear of her torment, weeping and wail- ing, and saying, Alas, alas.” “They cast dust on their heads.” “And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!” (18:11, 15, 16, 19, 18).

22. “Howl for her [Baby- lon]” (Jer. 51:8). “Let now the astrolo- gers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee [Babylon] from these things that shall come upon thee. . . . The fire shall burn them; they shall not de- liver themselves from the power of the flame. . . . Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy mer- chants . . . : they shall wander every one to his quarter” (Isa. 47:13-15). “Every one that goeth by Babylon shall be aston- ished, and hiss at all her plagues” (Jer. 50:13). Compare Eze. 26:16, 17; 27:29-32, 36; 28:19.

23. Her accomplices are destroyed. “The cities of the nations fell” (16:19). “The beast . . . shall . . . go into perdition” (17:8; cf. v. 11). “These both [the beast and the false prophet] were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brim- stone” (19:20; cf. 20:10).

23. “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle” (Zech. 14:2; cf. Joel 3:2). “The Lord hath a con- troversy with the nations. . . . And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth” (Jer. 25:31, 33). “At Babylon shall fall the slain of all the earth” (Jer. 51:49).

24. A song of victory over Babylon. “He . . . hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand” (19:2; cf. 18:10). “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apos- tles and prophets” (18:20).

24. “This is the time of the Lord’s vengeance [upon Babylon]; he will render unto her a recompence. “The Lord hath spoiled Babylon” (Jer. 51:6, 55; cf. Isa. 47:3; Jer. 50:15). “Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for Babylon: for the spoilers shall come unto her” (Jer. 51:48; cf. Isa. 44:23; 49:13).


25. Come out of Baby- lon. “Another angel” came “down from heaven, hav- ing great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice” (18:1, 2). “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not par- takers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues (18:4).

25. “Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon” (Zech. 2:7) “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity.” “My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and de- liver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord” (Jer. 51:6, 45; cf. Isa

Ellen G. White comments

1    COL 79; CS 52; CT 548; CW 141; EW 245; LS 327, 375; ML 59, 63; MM 185; TM 89; 5T 383, 729; 6T 41, 406; 7T 140; 9T 40, 46

1, 2 EW 277; GC 603; 6T 60

1–3LS 412

1–5TM 59

1–68T 118

1–24Ev 230; EW 273–276; GC 390; LS 412

2     EW 274; PP 124, 458; SR 399; TM 265; 4T 13

2, 3 Ev 365

2–4Ev 559; RC 51; 9T 110, 149

2–5PK 188

3     GC 653; TM 62

3, 4 Ev 247

4     CH 291; EW 92, 266; FE 502; GC 383, 390; PK 715; PP 167

4, 5 EW 277; GC 604; SR 399

5     EW 274

5, 6 COL 179; FE 363

5–10GC 653

6     EW 276

8     TM 62

13   EW 275; MH 338

5–17GC 653