Revelation Chapter Eighteen
Chapter 18 announces the judgment. The one difficulty here is verse 4, coming where it is; but, as every difficulty in scripture, it leads into further light. The destruction of Babylon is simple enough. She falls by God's judgment just before Christ comes to judge the earth; and, first perhaps losing her power and influence, is destroyed by the horns and beast. The comparison of chapter 16:8, and the place it holds, chap. 16:19, 18:8, and the beginning of 19, make this plain. Chapter 18 is a warning from heaven, not the angel of judgment of the earth. It is not consequent on events, but supposes spiritual apprehension of heaven's mind. This is the case when it is simply a voice from heaven. This call then was a spiritual call, not a manifest judgment. It may be more urgent and direct just before judgment, and I doubt not will be: as the call is in Hebrews to come out of the camp because Jerusalem's day was at hand. Hence I believe this applies whenever we see the system to be Babylon, and the sense of her iniquities is pressed upon the conscience.
The chapter then goes on to the actual execution of judgment according to chapter 17:16. The horns, or kingdoms connected with the beast, have destroyed her. The kings mourn over her; so do those that have sought profit and ease and commerce in the earth. The royal and commercial system is shattered to pieces by the upset of the system. What characterises her, that for which she is judged, is idolatry, corruption, worldliness, and persecution. She is judged and destroyed, and the prosperity of the worldly is smitten by her fall, and the hopes of the kings who had commerce with her. The blood of all saints was found in her, as in Jerusalem in her day. Persecution comes from religion connected with worldly advantage. But what a picture we have here of the world, the relations of the kings and of the saints to Babylon!
── John Darby《Synopsis of Revelation》
Another angel from heaven proclaims the fall of mystical Babylon. (1-3) A voice from heaven admonishes the people of God, lest they partake of her plagues. (4-8) The lamentations over her. (9-19) The church called upon to rejoice in her utter ruin. (20-24)
Commentary on Revelation 18:1-8
(Read Revelation 18:1-8)
The downfal and destruction of the mystical Babylon are determined in the counsels of God. Another angel comes from heaven. This seems to be Christ himself, coming to destroy his enemies, and to shed abroad the light of his gospel through all nations. The wickedness of this Babylon was very great; she had forsaken the true God, and set up idols, and had drawn all sorts of men into spiritual adultery, and by her wealth and luxury kept them in her interest. The spiritual merchandise, by which multitudes have wickedly lived in wealth, by the sins and follies of mankind, seems principally intended. Fair warning is given to all that expect mercy from God, that they should not only come out of this Babylon, but assist in her destruction. God may have a people even in Babylon. But God's people shall be called out of Babylon, and called effectually, while those that partake with wicked men in their sins, must receive of their plagues.
Commentary on Revelation 18:9-19
(Read Revelation 18:9-19)
The mourners had shared Babylon's sensual pleasures, and gained by her wealth and trade. The kings of the earth, whom she flattered into idolatry, allowing them to be tyrannical over their subjects, while obedient to her; and the merchants, those who trafficked for her indulgences, pardons, and honours; these mourn. Babylon's friends partook her sinful pleasures and profits, but are not willing to share her plagues. The spirit of antichrist is a worldly spirit, and that sorrow is a mere worldly sorrow; they do not lament for the anger of God, but for the loss of outward comforts. The magnificence and riches of the ungodly will avail them nothing, but will render the vengeance harder to be borne. The spiritual merchandise is here alluded to, when not only slaves, but the souls of men, are mentioned as articles of commerce, to the destroying the souls of millions. Nor has this been peculiar to the Roman antichrist, and only her guilt. But let prosperous traders learn, with all their gains, to get the unsearchable riches of Christ; otherwise; even in this life, they may have to mourn that riches make to themselves wings and fly away, and that all the fruits their souls lusted after, are departed from them. Death, at any rate, will soon end their commerce, and all the riches of the ungodly will be exchanged, not only for the coffin and the worm, but for the fire that cannot be quenched.
Commentary on Revelation 18:20-24
(Read Revelation 18:20-24)
That which is matter of rejoicing to the servants of God on earth, is matter of rejoicing to the angels in heaven. The apostles, who are honoured and daily worshipped at Rome in an idolatrous manner, will rejoice in her fall. The fall of Babylon was an act of God's justice. And because it was a final ruin, this enemy should never molest them any more; of this they were assured by a sign. Let us take warning from the things which brought others to destruction, and let us set our affections on things above, when we consider the changeable nature of earthly things.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Revelation》
 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
And I saw another angel coming down out of heaven — Termed another, with respect to him who "came down out of heaven," Revelation 10:1.
And the earth was enlightened with his glory — To make his coming more conspicuous. If such be the lustre of the servant, what images can display the majesty of the Lord, who has "thousand thousands" of those glorious attendants "ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before him?"
 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
And he cried, Babylon is fallen — This fall was mentioned before, Revelation 14:8; but is now declared at large.
And is become an habitation — A free abode.
Of devils, and an hold — A prison.
Of every unclean spirit — Perhaps confined there where they had once practised all uncleanness, till the judgment of the great day. How many horrid inhabitants hath desolate Babylon! of invisible beings, devils, and unclean spirits; of visible, every unclean beast, every filthy and hateful bird. Suppose, then, Babylon to mean heathen Rome; what have the Romanists gained, seeing from the time of that destruction, which they say is past, these are to be its only inhabitants for ever.
 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
And I heard another voice — Of Christ, whose people, secretly scattered even there, are warned of her approaching destruction.
That ye be not partakers of her sins — That is, of the fruits of them. What a remarkable providence it was that the Revelation was printed in the midst of Spain, in the great Polyglot Bible, before the Reformation! Else how much easier had it been for the Papists to reject the whole book, than it is to evade these striking parts of it.
 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Even to heaven — An expression which implies the highest guilt.
 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.
Reward her — This God speaks to the executioners of his vengeance.
Even as she hath rewarded — Others; in particular, the saints of God.
And give her double — This, according to the Hebrew idiom, implies only a full retaliation.
 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
As much as she hath glorified herself — By pride, and pomp, and arrogant boasting.
And lived deliciously — In all kinds of elegance, luxury, and wantonness.
So much torment give her — Proportioning the punishment to the sin.
Because she saith in her heart — As did ancient Babylon, Isaiah 47:8,9.
I sit — Her usual style. Hence those expressions, "The chair, the see of Rome: he sat so many years." As a queen - Over many kings, "mistress of all churches; the supreme; the infallible; the only spouse of Christ; out of which there is no salvation." And am no widow - But the spouse of Christ.
And shall see no sorrow — From the death of my children, or any other calamity; for God himself will defend "the church."
 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
Therefore — as both the natural and judicial consequence of this proud security Shall her plagues come - The death of her children, with an incapacity of bearing more.
Sorrow — of every kind.
And famine — In the room of luxurious plenty: the very things from which she imagined herself to be most safe.
For strong is the Lord God who judgeth her — Against whom therefore all her strength, great as it is, will not avail.
 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
Thou strong city — Rome was anciently termed by its inhabitants, Valentia, that is, strong. And the word Rome itself, in Greek, signifies strength. This name was given it by the Greek strangers.
 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
Merchandise of gold, … — Almost all these are still in use at Rome, both in their idolatrous service, and in common life.
Fine linen — The sort of it mentioned in the original is exceeding costly.
Thyine wood — A sweet-smelling wood not unlike citron, used in adorning magnificent palaces.
Vessels of most precious wood — Ebony, in particular, which is often mentioned with ivory: the one excelling in whiteness, the other in blackness; and both in uncommon smoothness.
 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
Amomum — A shrub whose wood is a fine perfume.
And beasts — Cows and oxen.
And of chariots — a purely Latin word is here inserted in the Greek. This St. John undoubtedly used on purpose, in describing the luxury of Rome.
And of bodies — A common term for slaves.
And souls of men — For these also are continually bought and sold at Rome. And this of all others is the most gainful merchandise to the Roman traffickers.
 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
And the fruits — From what was imported they proceed to the domestic delicates of Rome; none of which is in greater request there, than the particular sort which is here mentioned. The word properly signifies, pears, peaches, nectarines, and all of the apple and plum kinds.
And all things that are dainty — To the taste.
And splendid — To the sight; as clothes, buildings, furniture.
 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
And they cast dust on their heads — As mourners. Most of the expressions here used in describing the downfall of Babylon are taken from Ezekiel's description of the downfall of Tyre, Ezekiel 26:1.
 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
Rejoice over her, thou heaven — That is, all the inhabitants of it; and more especially, ye saints; and among the saints still more eminently, ye apostles and prophets.
 And 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.
And a mighty angel took up a stone, and threw it into the sea — By a like emblem Jeremiah fore-showed the fall of the Chaldean Babylon, Jeremiah 51:63,64.
 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
And the voice of harpers — Players on stringed instruments.
And musicians — Skilful singers in particular.
And pipers — Who played on flutes, chiefly on mournful, whereas trumpeters played on joyful, occasions.
Shall be heard no more in thee; and no artificer — Arts of every kind, particularly music, sculpture, painting, and statuary, were there carried to their greatest height. No, nor even the sound of a mill-stone shall be heard any more in thee - Not only the arts that adorn life, but even those employments without which it cannot subsist, will cease from thee for ever. All these expressions denote absolute and eternal desolation.
The voice of harpers — Music was the entertainment of the rich and great; trade, the business of men of middle rank; preparing bread and the necessaries of life, the employment of the lowest people: marriages, in which lamps and songs were known ceremonies, are the means of peopling cities, as new births supply the place of those that die. The desolation of Rome is therefore described in such a manner, as to show that neither rich nor poor, neither persons of middle rank, nor those of the lowest condition, should be able to live there any more. Neither shall it be repeopled by new marriages, but remain desolate and uninhabited for ever.
 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
For thy merchants were the great men of the earth — A circumstance which was in itself indifferent, and yet led them into pride, luxury, and numberless other sins.
 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
And in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints — The same angel speaks still, yet he does not say "in thee," but in her, now so sunk as not to hear these last words.
And of all that had been slain — Even before she was built. See Matthew 23:35. There is no city under the sun which has so clear a title to catholic blood-guiltiness as Rome. The guilt of the blood shed under the heathen emperors has not been removed under the Popes, but hugely multiplied. Nor is Rome accountable only for that which hath been shed in the city, but for that shed in all the earth. For at Rome under the Pope, as well as under the heathen emperors, were the bloody orders and edicts given: and whereever the blood of holy men was shed, there were the grand rejoicings for it. And what immense quantities of blood have been shed by her agents! Charles IX., of France, in his letter to Gregory XIII., boasts, that in and not long after the massacre of Paris, he had destroyed seventy thousand Hugonots. Some have computed, that, from the year 1518, to 1548, fifteen millions of Protestants have perished by the Inquisition. This may be overcharged; but certainly the number of them in those thirty years, as well as since, is almost incredible. To these we may add innumerable martyrs, in ancient, middle, and late ages, in Bohemia, Germany, Holland, France, England, Ireland, and many other parts of Europe, Afric, and Asia.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Revelation》
Chapter 18. The Fall of Babylon
In an Hour
Brought to Ruin
I. The Fall of Babylon
II. The Grief of Babylon
III. The Ends of Babylon
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter Eighteen General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To note the pronouncement and depiction of the fall of
, the Babylon
2) To observe the reasons why
would receive such terrible Babylon
3) To ascertain the identity of
, the great harlot Babylon
In this chapter we find the fall of "
the great" proclaimed, and Babylon
the great mourning over her by those in the world. The fall of
is proclaimed by an angel with great authority, who illuminated the
earth with his glory. The reasons for her fall include how the nations
and kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and how the
merchants have become rich through her abundance. Meanwhile, a voice
from heaven calls for the people of God to come out of her lest they
receive the plagues to come upon her. Her judgment will involve death,
mourning, famine, and utter destruction by fire, for it is the Lord God
who judges her (1-8).
The fall of
is mourned by the kings of the earth who committed Babylon
fornication with her, and the merchants and sea-traders who had become
rich by her. They all cry out "Alas, alas, that great city..." as they
observe her judgment. They bemoan that in just one hour her riches
came to nothing and she has become desolate. On the other hand, heaven
itself, along with the apostles and prophets, are called to rejoice,
because God has avenged them on her (9-20).
Finally, a mighty angel throws a large stone into sea to depict with
what great violence
will be thrown down. The sounds and sights Babylon
of music, crafts, even weddings will be gone. The fall of
justified, for her merchants were great, by her sorcery the nations
were deceived, and in her was found the blood of prophets, saints, and
all those slain on the earth (21-24).
What is this chapter describing? If the date of the book suggested in
the introduction is correct (spring,
70 A.D.) , and is indeed Jerusalem
the "harlot", then this chapter likely refers to the destruction by the
Romans in August,
70 A.D. This would be in harmony with 17:16, where
those who first supported the harlot eventually turned on her. So it
, who depended upon the approval of the Roman Jerusalem
authorities to persecute the church, and later became the object of
Roman persecution herself. Very fitting is the depiction of
as a harlot, for she who should have been a great spiritual city had
become a great commercial center by virtue of the roads that passed
through her between Europe, Asia and
Africa. Her spiritual adultery
was also manifested by rejecting the many prophets and apostles sent to
her (cf. Mt 23:31-39 with Re 17:6; 18:20,24; 19:2).
I. THE FALL OF
PROCLAIMED (1-8) BABYLON
A. BY AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN (1-3)
1. John sees an angel coming down from heaven
a. Having great authority
b. Illuminating the earth with his glory
2. The angel cries mightily with a loud voice
the great is fallen, is fallen Babylon
b. She has become...
1) A dwelling place of demons
2) A prison for every foul spirit
3) A cage for every unclean and hated bird
c. With her...
1) The nations have drunk of the wine of her fornication
2) The kings of the earth have committed fornication
3) The merchants of the earth have become rich
B. BY A VOICE FROM HEAVEN (4-8)
1. Calling God's people to come out of her
a. Lest they share in her sins and her plagues
b. For her sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered
2. Calling for judgment to be rendered her
a. Render her just as she rendered them
b. Repay her double according to her works
c. In the cup she has mixed, mix double for her
d. To the degree she glorified herself and lived
1) Give her torment and sorrow
2) For she says in heart that she is a queen and will not
see sorrow as a widow
e. Her plagues will come in one day...
1) Death, mourning, and famine
2) Utterly burned with fire
-- For great is the Lord God who judges her
II. THE FALL OF
MOURNED (9-20) BABYLON
A. BY THE KINGS OF THE EARTH (9-10)
1. Those who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her
2. They shall weep and lament when they see the smoke of her
3. They shall stand afar off for fear of her torment, saying...
a. "Alas, alas, that great city
, that mighty city!" Babylon
b. "For in one hour your judgment has come."
B. BY THE MERCHANTS OF THE EARTH (11
1. They shall weep and mourn over her
2. For no one buys their merchandise anymore
3. All that they longed for, both rich and splendid, they shall
find no more
4. The merchants shall stand at a distance for fear of her
torment, weeping and wailing...
a. "Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine
linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and
precious stones and pearls!"
b. "For in one hour such great riches came to nothing."
C. BY THE TRADERS AND TRAVELERS ON THE SEA (17b-19)
1. They stood at a distance, crying when they saw the smoke of
her burning, "What is like this great city?"
2. Throwing dust on their heads, they cried out, weeping and
a. "Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on
the sea became rich by her wealth!"
b. "For in one hour she is made desolate."
D. BUT NOT BY THE HOLY APOSTLES AND PROPHETS (20)
1. They are to rejoice over her
2. For God has avenged them on her
III. THE FALL OF
JUSTIFIED (21-24) BABYLON
A. THE FALL OF THE
ILLUSTRATED (21 GREAT CITY -23a)
1. By a mighty angel...
a. Who took a stone like a great millstone and cast it into
b. Who then proclaims "Thus with violence the great city
shall be thrown down, and shall not be found Babylon
2. Neither shall be heard or seen in her...
a. The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters
b. A craftsman of any craft
c. The sound of a millstone
d. The light of a lamp
e. The voice of bridegroom and bride
B. THE FALL OF THE
JUSTIFIED (23b-24) GREAT CITY
1. For her merchants were the great men of the earth
2. For by her sorcery all the nations were deceived
3. For in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of
all who slain on the earth
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- The fall of
proclaimed (1-8) Babylon
- The fall of
to be mourned (9-20) Babylon
- The fall of
justified (21-24) Babylon
2) Who proclaims the fall of
? (1-2) Babylon
- An angel with great authority, whose glory illuminated the earth
3) What is said concerning the nations, kings and merchants in regards
? (3) Babylon
- The nations have drunk of the wine of her fornication
- The kings have committed fornication with her
- The merchants have become rich through the abundance of her luxury
4) What does a voice from heaven implore the people of God? Why? (4-5)
- Come out of her, lest they share in her sins and receive of her
- Her sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered her
5) To what degree will
be judged? (6-7) Babylon
- Just as she did to others
- Double according to her works
- To the degree she lived in glory and luxury, she will suffer
torment and sorrow
6) What plagues will come to her in one day? Her ultimate end? (8)
- Death, mourning, and famine
- Utterly burned with fire
7) What first group is described as mourning the fall of
? (9) Babylon
- The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived
luxuriously with her
8) What will they say as they see the smoke of her burning from a
- "Alas, alas, that great city
, that mighty city!" Babylon
- "For in one hour your judgment has come."
9) What second group is described as mourning the fall of
- The merchants of the earth
- No one buys their merchandise anymore
10) What will they say as they stand afar off, weeping and wailing?
- "Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen,
purple, and scarlet, and adorned with great gold and precious
stones and pearls!"
- "For in one hour such great riches came to nothing."
11) What third group is described as mourning the fall of
- Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and sea-traders
12) What do they say as they see the smoke of her burning? (18-19)
- "What is like this great city?"
- "Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the
sea became rich by her wealth!"
- "For in one hour she is made desolate."
13) Who is told to rejoice over the fall of
? Why? (20) Babylon
- Heaven, and the holy apostles and prophets
- For God has avenged them on her
14) What did a mighty angel do and say? (21)
- Throw a great millstone into the sea
- "Thus with violence the great city
shall be thrown down, Babylon
and shall not be found anymore."
15) What did the angel say would not be seen or heard in
- The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters
- Craftsmen, or the sound of a millstone
- The light of a lamp, or the voice of bridegroom and bride
16) What two reasons are given for her downfall? (
- By her sorcery all the nations were deceived
- In her was found the blood of prophets, saints, and of all those
slain on the earth
The fall of Babylon
In an hour
Brought to ruin
The fall of
1. The angel shouts
2. Charge of adulteries
3. Come out of the city
II.The grief of
1. A double punishment
2. Six woes
3. Rejoice in heaven
The ends of
1. Fallen and ruined
2. Everything is changed
3. Never again
── Chih-Hsin Chang《an Outline of The New Testament》