continuity between Revelation 17 and 18
Chapters 17 and 18 have the same object in view: the destruction of the
city of Babylon. In a similar way that Chapter 15 revealed the bowls of
wrath prior to their pouring forth in Chapter 16, so Chapter 17
revealed the Harlot and her predicted destruction which now takes place in
Chapter 18. The last verse in Chapter 17 defines the Harlot to be the city
which is now destroyed.
another angel coming down from heaven
A different angel from heaven who showed John the Harlot
This is an angel of great power and authority. He comes from heaven
to declare the impending destruction of the city.
18:2 - Babylon the great is fallen
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen
The word order is reversed in the Greek to emphasize her fall:
It is fallen, it is fallen, Babylon the great!
This may be the same angel that predicted her fall earlier
Her destruction takes place at the pouring forth of the seventh bowl of
Both the Harlot and the city are called
Babylon the Great(Rev. 17:5).
See our previous discussion concerning
One or Two Babylons?
a dwelling place of demons
The angel describes her condition
her fall. As predicted in the Old Testament, she is to
the dwelling place of demonic spirits
Jer. 50:39). "Prison" is
which indicates a place of
During the Millennial Kingdom, when Satan is incarcerated in the abyss
(Rev. 20:1-3), the demons are incarcerated in Babylon and Edom
both of which will be permanently desolate because of judgments.
18:3 - all the nations have drunk
all the nations have drunk the wine of the wrath of her fornication
This is the same wine served by the Harlot
The angel repeats the previous declaration made in Chapter 14
In the dispersion from Babel, her pollution went out to all nations and
the kings of the earth have committed fornication
which is related to
: "harlot." As we saw in the previous chapter, the kings fornicated with the Harlot
By polluting the leaders, she maximizes her influence over the people.
Fornication includes both spiritual and material aspects.
the merchants of the earth have become rich
She polluted all aspects of the culture: political, commercial,
and religious. "Merchants" is
one who travels about for trading, a wholesale dealer
in contrast to a retailer.
18:4 - come out of her
come out of her my people
The voice may be that of God. The command repeats the many Old Testament
prophecies concerning escaping Babylon prior to its destruction
lest you share in her sins
"Lest you share" is
syngoinone'sete, "lest you all take part in or take a sympathetic interest in." When believers are immersed in a godless culture, they begin to be swayed
by the culture and become sympathetic to beliefs which are opposed to God's
18:5 - sins reached to heaven
her sins have reached to heaven
sinful act. But there comes a point when the number and magnitude of sins
reaches a point when God's righteous character demands He judge.
At this point, the sin is said to gain God's attention in a special way.
reaches up to heaven
Ezra 9:6). "The iniquity of the Amorites" becomes full
Instead of building the tower of Babel reaching up to heaven
Babylon had built a
tower of their own sin
reaching up to heaven!
18:6 - repay her double
render to her just as she rendered to you
a command: "you all give back to her!" In the phrase "as she rendered to you," to you
is not in the majority of manuscripts.
Thus, this may be spoken to the Beast and his ten kings who God will use to
destroy the city
repay her double according to her works
Under the Law of Moses, a thief had to restore double what was stolen.
Jeremiah calls Babylon
Merata'yim (Jer. 50:21)
meaning "double rebellion." Her judgment is commensurate with her rebellion.
18:7 - I sit as queen
she glorified herself and lived luxuriously
She boasted in her own glory, saying
I shall be a lady forever(Isa. 47:7)
I am and there is no one else beside me(Isa. 47:8-10).
God calls her
O most haughty one!(Jer. 50:31). "Luxuriously" is
estreni'asen, "living sensually." The term is used of bulls running wild and includes the idea of unbridled
(cf. Dan. 5).
I sit as queen, and am no widow
She reigns over the kings of the earth--sitting
upon the Beast with seven heads and ten horns
Isaiah prophesied that she would be brought off her throne to
sit in the dust
Her loss of children may refer to her daughter harlots
(Rev. 17:5), when the cities of the nations fall as part of the seventh bowl judgment
18:8 - burned with fire
her plagues will come in one day
When her judgment finally comes, it will be swift and decisive
See the previous discussion of
The Destruction of Babylon.
she will be utterly burned by fire
She is destroyed in the same way as predicted for the Harlot--by fire
Like Sodom and Gomorrah, her burning is complete and final
Her smoke rises up "forever and ever!" (Rev. 19:3).
18:9 - kings lament
the kings of the earth
kings than the "ten kings" which are allied with the beast and who destroy the city
These are the kings which were gathered to
The Campaign of Armageddon
and include the "kings from the east" (Rev. 16:12-14;
18:10 - kings at a distance
standing at a distance for fear of torment
Her judgment is fearsome and visible at a great distance.
Their lamentation is not for the
destroyed in the city, but for
their personal loss
in the downfall of the city.
18:11 - merchants lament
the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn
: a cargo or freight load of goods.
Babylon of the end is both a great consumer of goods
and a world center for trade.
Although material goods are not inherently evil,
an abundance of material wealth often contributes to covetousness and
idolatry. Believing themselves to be in need of nothing, they had become "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17).
18:12 - merchandise
merchandise of gold and silver...
Among the merchandise handled by the merchants are the very items worn by the Harlot:
arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls(Rev. 18:16).
categories of merchandise
There are seven categories of merchandise listed:
Precious wares (gold, silver, precious stones, pearls).
Materials of rich attire (fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet).
Materials for costly furniture (citron wood, every vessel of ivory, most precious woods, brass, iron, marble).
Precious spices (cinnamon, spice, incense, ointment, frankincense).
Articles of food (wine, oil, fine flour, wheat).
Merchandise for agricultural and domestic use (cattle, sheep, horses, chariots).
Traffic in men (bodies and souls of men).
18:13 - bodies and souls
which describes a four-wheeled chariot used for transportation
(not the two-wheeled chariot of war).
wine and oil
These two items were singled out for protection in the famine attending the opening of the third seal
bodies and souls of men
The "and" (kai )
is better translated "even" :
bodies, even the souls of men.
Meaning: "slaves, that is, human beings." This probably includes sexual slavery such as prostitution.
Tyre is said to have traded
with her trading partners
18:14 - your soul longed for
the things which are rich and splendid
: fat and luxurious things. "Splendid" is
: bright, shining, glittering things.
Both of these categories indicate a populace focused on self-gratification, who are lovers of themselves,
lovers of pleasure, lacking self-control
18:15 - merchants at a distance
the merchants... stand at a distance
Like the kings of the earth, the merchants bemoan the loss of their source of wealth.
Isaiah predicted they would abandon Babylon in her judgment
This characterizes the relationships of the ungodly--they are based on
pragmatism and selfish desires.
They are not genuine. In the time of testing, there is no real empathy or bond.
18:16 - clothed in luxury
that great city that was clothed in... gold
Isaiah called Babylon "the golden city" (Isa. 14:4).
She was the head of
on the image in Nebuchadnezzar's dream
The city bears the same title as the Harlot
and wears identical attire
Harlot is the city
city is the Harlot.
See our discussion concerning
One or Two Babylons?
18:17 - shipmasters at a distance
came to nothing
"Came to nothing" is
: be brought to ruin, become desolate, be devastated.
The same word is translated
desolate (Rev. 18:19).
The manner of her destruction matches that of the Harlot
She will be eternally inhabitable.
See the discussion concerning
The Destruction of Babylon.
Like the kings and the merchants, the mariners keep their distance from the destruction of the city which is visible from sea.
Although Babylon on the Euphrates is not directly on the coast, the Euphrates is navigable for many miles.
Babylon is approximately 370 miles from the Persian gulf.
Small boats are said to navigate upriver some 1200 miles.
In the past, Herodotus mentions it being navigable for 500 miles.
There are several possibilies for shipping to reach Babylon:
The Euphrates is dredged and otherwise improved for large ships to travel the approximately 370 miles
upriver directly to Babylon.
Large ships anchor in the gulf and transfer their cargo to shallow-draft barges which shuttle upriver to the city.
A shipping port on the coast, which remains strictly secondary to the city, services the ships while goods travel by land to the city.
18:18-19 - shipmasters lament
Like the kings and merchants, the shipmasters had also become wealthy through Babylon's trade.
The three-fold pattern of lamentation (kings, merchants, shipmasters) emphasizes the
of her destruction.
18:20 rejoice O heaven
rejoice... you holy apostles and prophets
Jeremiah prophesied that in the day that God destroyed Babylon
the heavens and the earth and all that is in them shall sing joyously over Babylon(Jer. 51:48).
Jeremiah spoke this over the
literal city on the Euphrates
and it cannot be fulfilled anywhere else!
See our discussion on
Babylon is Babylon!
God has avenged you on her
is guilty of the blood of the saints
In her is found
the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth(Rev. 18:24).
The city is no different from the Harlot, both are one and the same persecutors of the saints.
18:21 - a millstone into the sea
took up a great millstone and threw it into the sea
The angel reenacts the declaration which Jeremiah instructed Seraiah to
read over the literal city on the Euphrates:
" So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these words that are
written against Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When you arrive
and see it, and read all these words, then you shall say, " O LORD, You have spoken against
to cut it off, so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever. " Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw
it out into
Then you shall say, " Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring
upon her. And they shall be weary. " Thus far are the words of Jeremiah. " (Jer. 51:60-64).
18:22 - a silent city
took up a great millstone and threw it into the sea
Various occupations within the city are listed together with a strong double-negative
indicating the impossibility of them ever being found again in Bablyon.
This underscores her uninhabitable and permanent destruction.
See the discussion on
The Destruction of Babylon
where we discuss the severity and permanence of her
18:23 - by your sorcery
for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived
: sorcery, magic, magic arts, the use of drugs of any kind for magical effect.
Isaiah lists her sorceries which include:
enchantments, astrology, star-gazing, monthy prognostication.
(Have you seen her sorceries in your local newspaper and at the check-out stand of your grocery store?
We are drinking from her cup!)
The city is like Jezebel of Thyatira: having known
the depths of Satan
Those who practice sorcery
have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone(Rev. 21:8)
and never enter the New Jerusalam
18:24 - the blood of all who were slain
in her was found the blood of prophets and saints and of all who were slain on the earth
"Who were slain" is
: ones having been violently murdered.
not a separate Harlot system,
is guilty of all religious persecution.
She is the mother of all harlots
Her global influence results in her global responsibility for the godly slain of the earth
The blood of her daughter harlots
is put to her account.
At the bottom of her cup is the blood of Abel and her cup continues
to fill to this very hour!
For additional information on this topic, see the commentary.