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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 18

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Verse 1

Chapter 18 - God’s Judgment Against Babylon

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The approaching fall of Jerusalem, under the symbol of Babylon was envisioned in this chapter. It pictured the overthrow of Judaism and the Jewish state as having been actually accomplished when in fact it was an apocalyptic forecast of an event still future, described in the details of past occurrence. - Wallace

After these things I saw . . cf. Revelation 4:1

another angel ... from heaven . . Apparently not the same as in Revelation 17:1; Revelation 17:7, Revelation 17:15, but one of the same kind as in Revelation 17:1.

having great authority . . Apparently for destruction - CBSC

authority . . This was a tremendously powerful angel. The term “authority” (exousia) is not used for any other angel in the book. In John 5:27, it is used of God’s authority given to Jesus. - Utley

This angel possessed great authority and glory, probably indicative of the importance of the judgment he announced. - Constable

the earth was illuminated by his splendor . . Recalls the judgment motif of Ezekiel 43:2-3. The light emanating from the angel lit up the whole world and identified him as God’s messenger. - FSB

earth was illuminated with his glory . . The fifth bowl ( Revelation 16:10) will have plunged the world into darkness. Against that backdrop, the sudden, blazing appearance of another angel (not the same as in Revelation 17:1, Revelation 17:7, Revelation 17:15) will certainly rivet the world’s attention on him and his message of judgment on Babylon (cf. Revelation 14:8). - MSB

His great glory, with which he illuminated the earth, probably suggests that he had just come from God’s presence (cf. Exodus 34:29-35; Ezekiel 43:2). - Constable

This angel derived his splendor from heaven. The word splendor is normally used for the divine presence. - NLTSB

The Angel ... comes down from heaven expressly charged with this mission (cf. Revelation 10:1, Revelation 20:1); he possesses great authority ( Revelation 13:2), to enable him to enforce his sentence; so recently has he come from the Presence that in passing he flings a broad belt of light across the dark Earth—a phrase used of the Vision of God in Ezekiel 43:2 f. - Swete

Verse 2

See Isaiah 13:19-22 for literal Babylon’s fall; and see Jeremiah 50-51 for a terrible description of the fall of Babylon and her utter desolation forever.

Figurative language pictures the judgment of the Harlot in the likeness of Babylon’s fall.

cried mightily with a loud voice . . We should read "with a mighty voice" - CBSC

"Babylon the great is fallen" . . See note at Revelation 14:8; For picture of OT Babylon’s fall, Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 51:8; In Revelation the identity of the "great city" symbol is given in Revelation 11:8.

The Gr. text views the results of this as if it had already taken place (see note on 14:8). - MSB

fallen, is fallen . .The repetition of the word “Fallen” (cf. Revelation 14:8; Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 51:8) probably indicates that God guaranteed this judgment and that it will happen quickly (Genesis 41:32; cf. 2 Peter 3:8). This is another proleptic announcement in which the angel described a future action as already having happened. Constable

(The prophetic aorist tense of the Greek verb makes this clear.)

In words similar to those of the prophets who encouraged the people of God as they faced ancient Babylon, the angel announces that Babylon the Great, Mother of all the earthly prostitute cities, has fallen (cf. Isaiah 21:9; Isaiah 23:17; Jeremiah 51:8 with Revelation 14:8; rev 18:2), using words reminiscent of the judgment announced against ancient Babylon (Isaiah 13:19-22; isa 34:11; Jeremiah 50:39). - EBCNT

a dwelling place of demons . . People no longer inhabit the city as a result of the destruction and judgment.

Similar vengeance is denounced on the literal Babylon, Isaiah 13:21-22, and on Edom, id. Isaiah 34:13-15. It is not quite certain which of the words used in those passages are names of demons or goblins, and which of terrestrial birds and beasts: but there is little doubt that Isaiah, like St John, means to describe both as occupying the desolated city. - CBSC

a prison for every foul spirit . . (the hold) . . Probably a prison, not a fortress. It is the same word that is translated “cage” in the next clause, and “prison” in 1 Peter 3:19. - CBSC

foul . . Literally unclean.

a cage for every unclean and hated bird . .John probably envisions carrion fowl—birds that eat flesh (see 8:13 and note; 19:17–18). The Greek word for “bird” here and in ch. 19 differs from the word used in ch. 8; it is normally used to refer to birds that are unclean for religious reasons (Deut 14:12–18). However, the two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive—several flesh-eating fowl appear on Moses’ list. - FSB

This is an allusion to the ruins of ancient cities: (1) Babylon (cf. Isaiah 13:21-22; Isaiah 14:23; Jeremiah 50:39; Jeremiah 51:37); (2) Edom (cf. Isaiah 34:10-15); and (3) Nineveh (cf. Zephaniah 2:14). In the OT animals are often said to roam about in ruined cities. This is a symbol of both destruction and the presence of evil spirits (cf. NEB). Many of these birds represented demons.

John’s writing is very fluid. This verse describes the city as desolate and indwelt with the demonic, while Revelation 19:3 describes it as burnt and smoldering. - Utley

Verse 3

Drunk of the wine . . the Jews scattered in every nation had become unfaithful and their influence was the same.

kings of the earth have committed fornication . . Revelation 17:2;

The political, economic, commercial system that originated in Babylon and that leaves God out seems to be in view here. Her philosophy has influenced all the nations that have acted immorally as a result and grown rich at the expense of and in defiance of others. Babylon’s influence has been worldwide. Political self-interest and materialism are its chief sins (cf. Revelation 18:23). - Constable

The repetition in verse three of the harlot’s winecup, representing her multiplied forms of seduction. The reference to the kings of the earth was used in the sense of the rulers and authorities of Judea and Palestine; and the reference to the nations was a designation for the heathen. - Wallace

Merchants . . One of her powers was her Jewish traders.

There are three groups of humans who mourn the fall of the great whore: businessmen (cf. vv. 11–16), kings of the earth (cf. vv. 9–10) and merchant sailors (cf. vv. 17–19). These three represent human economic systems. - Utley

Waxed rich . . Probably figurative but also true literal. The wealth of other nations had been siphoned off to Jerusalem by their allegeance to the Jewish heirachy and sending tribute to the temple.

Merchants ... have become rich . . Jewish trade controlled the wealth of the world practically speaking. Jewish bankers, etc controlled the economy (cf. Acts 8:27 illustrates this also, very much like today, the textile industry, the diamond market, the film industry, and many other industries).

Jerusalem was rich because many of these Jews thus sent their tithes (1/10) back to the High Priest at the Jerusalem Temple.

the abundance of her luxury . . Two classes in Babylon (Judah and Jerusalem) would be especially: 1) the ruling class "had committed formication" and 2) the mercantile class would suffer as their fate was tied to commerce and trade.

The writer has in view the graphic description of the collapse of the trade of Tyre given by Ezekiel (26–28.); cf. also Isaiah’s reference to Babylon (Isaiah 47:15). Allusions to trade in the N.T. are fairly frequent (cf. Matthew 13:45, Matthew 22:5, Matthew 25:14, James 4:13) - Swere

Verse 4

a voice from heaven . . An authorative voice, evidently an angel who speaks for God from heaven gives a directive to God’s people. It is an aorist, active, imperative, which speaks of the urgency of God’s people not getting caught in the city.

Come out . . This echos the Lord’s directive to his people when he gave the warning in person to them to flee Jerusalem when the signs of its doom came near Matthew 24:16; Luke 21:20-21;

Josephus says that many eminent people left Jerusalem after the first withdrawal of the Roman troops, AD 67. Josephus II, 19 (page 497) Eusebius, Bk3 ch 5, p. 86.

This directive is similar to Isaiah 48:20; and Jeremiah 51:6 Isaiah 52:11; Jeremiah 50:8, Jeremiah 51:9 Jeremiah 51:45, all referring to the flight of Israel from the literal Babylon.

God directs his people today to come out from the world and live differently, 2 Corinthians 6:17, 1 John 2:15.

my people . . An appeal and warning to the saints still in Babylon (Jerusalem).

lest you share in her sins . . That is, those saints staying in the city would share (not in the guilt) in the destruction that would be coming upon the city.

lest you receive of her plagues . . Judgment against Babylon (Jerusalem) had not yet occurred as it fully would be when John wrote Revelation. This then is another indicator the book was written before A.D. 70.

God will not forget her crimes, which are multiplied to the height of heaven (v.5; cf. Genesis 18:20-21; Jeremiah 51:9). Her punishment will fit her crimes (v.6; cf. Psalms 137:8; Jeremiah 50:15, 29; Matthew 7:2). This OT principle of lex talionis is never enjoined on God’s people in the NT but, as here, is reserved for God alone (Matthew 5:38-42; Romans 12:17-21). “Mix her a double portion from her own cup” (cf. Exodus 22:4, 7, 9; Isaiah 40:2) reflects both the ideas of the severity of God’s judgment on those who refuse to repent and the truth that God’s wrath is related to the outworking of sin (cf. Romans 1:24-32). - CBSC

Verse 5

sins have reached up to heaven . . The Greek verb kollaō means “to cling or attach to” (see Luke 10:11). The imagery describes sins that stick to each other, pile up before God, and eventually reach heaven. - FSB

for her sins are piled up as high as heaven . .” This is an allusion to Jeremiah 51:9. God’s patience was used as an excuse to sin more, instead of repenting (cf. Revelation 2:21; Romans 2:4). - Utley

God has remembered . . cf. Revelation 16:19; God does not remember the iniquities of His people (Jeremiah 31:34), but does remember to protect them (Malachi 3:16 –4:2). For unrepentant Babylon, there will be no such forgiveness, only judgment. - MSB

God remembered Jerusalem for shedding the blood of all the prophets he had sent to them, and would not require justice from them, Matthew 23:30-38; Luke 11:47-51; Matthew 23:35; Luke 21:20-22; Revelation 18:20-24

Verse 6

Reward her . .[pay her back; give her back] as to what Jerusalem did unto the apostles and prophets (see Revelation 18:20 and the linking passages there.)

Pay her back even as she has paid . . This is an allusion to the truth that we reap what we sow (cf. Gal. 6:7). This truth is presented in many different forms in the Bible (cf. Psalms 137:8; Jeremiah 50:15, Jeremiah 50:29; Matthew 7:2; Revelation 13:10). - Utley

repay . . The angel calls for God to recompense wrath to Babylon in her own cup to repay her according to her deeds. This is an echo of the OT law of retaliation (Exodus 21:24) which will be implemented by God (Romans 12:17-21). - MSB

Render to her as she herself rendered . . The thought is founded on Psalms 137:8; Jeremiah 50:15, Jeremiah 50:29, and the expression on the former passage. - CBSC

repay her double . . Echoes the prophetic censures in the ot (compare Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 17:18). - FSB

give back to her double according to her deeds . . This is an allusion to Jeremiah 16:18 and Jeremiah 17:18, but the truth is expressed in many contexts (cf. Exodus 22:4-9; Psalms 75:7-8; Isaiah 40:2). This phrase speaks of complete and full judgment. This verse would have been very encouraging to persecuted Christians. - Utley

mix double for her . . Refers to the drink’s potency, not a double amount of liquid. A restatement of “repay her double” in the preceding clause. - FSB

the cup which she has mixed, mix twice for her . . “Cup” is an OT metaphor for the judgment of God (cf. Psalms 11:6; Psalms 60:3; Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 25:15-16, Jeremiah 25:27-28). - Utley

double unto her . . See Jeremiah 16:18; where however the vengeance is on jerusalem. - CBSC

“This is not a prayer for personal vengeance by the persecuted saints, but a heavenly interpretation of the divine response to cruelty committed by wicked persons who have passed the point of no return in their moral choices. The last hour has now struck, and it is too late for repentance. This is a judicial pronouncement against a sinful civilization that has reached the ultimate limit of evil." [quoted by Constable; Thomas, Revelation 8–22, pp. 322–23. Cf. Kiddle, pp. 366–67; Hughes, p. 190.]

Verse 7

Babylon: Proud and arrogant.

glorified herself and lived luxuriously . . Luxurious living provides another reason for Babylon’s judgment. Her claims of superiority and self-sufficiency echo those of ancient Babylon (cf. Isaiah 47:7-9; Ezekiel 27:3; Ezekiel 28:2; Zephaniah 2:15). They also recall the words of the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:17). - Constable

I sit as queen . . Echoes the boastful claims of OT Babylon (Isaiah 47:7-9) - FSB

am no widow . . - Lamentations, and Hosea pictured Jerusalem as a widow. (As Amos gave a lamentation over Samaria.)

am no widow . . A proud, but empty, boast of self-sufficiency, also made by historical Babylon (Isaiah 47:8). Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12. - MSB

will not see sorrow . .

Verse 8

her plagues will come in one day . . Describes a very short time (compare Isaiah 47:9). - FSB

This is a specific allusion to Isaiah 47:9. The concept of grief overtaking her in a single day is repeated in Revelation 18:17-19, where the Johannine term “hour” is used. - Utley

death and mourning and famine . . This accurately describe a city under siege and it’s final destruction by fire.

utterly burned with fire . . If to be taken literally, it would describe Titus’ treatment of Jerusalem, AD 70.

The words “consumed by fire” (cf. Revelation 17:16) may refer to the destruction of a city (cf. Revelation 18:9, Revelation 18:18) - EBCNT

the Lord God who judges her . . It was God Himself who passed judgment on this Babylon (Jerusalem). This is parallel also to what Josephus said of Jerusalem’s fall. The Jewish War, VI 2.1-2.

The plagues (18:2–3) are a reminder that destruction was not merely a human action; it is the Lord God who judges her. He is mighty, able to accomplish what he promises. - NLTSB

Verse 9

9–19 Even quick reading of Ezekiel 27 shows that John has in mind Ezekiel’s lamentation over the fall of ancient Tyre. Those who entered into fornication with the great mother prostitute wail over her destruction. John describes the end of the great symbol of evil, Babylon the Great. - EBCNT

the kings of the earth . . Political leaders who had ties to "Babylon" politically and economically.

Perhaps some of these themselves had taken part in her destruction as a part of Rome’s scripted army. They were apparently merchant naions who benefited from commercial trade and banking with "Babylon".

lived luxuriously . . Their alliance with "Babylon" had sustained them and enabled them to live luxuriously.

Deliciously . . = sensuously, luxuriously

will weep and lament . . “Weep” means “to sob openly.” “Lament” translates the same Gr. word used to express the despair of the unbelieving world at the return of Christ (Revelation 1:7). - FSB

the smoke of her burning . . cf. Genesis 19:28.

Verse 10

Standing afar off . . The kings of the earth stand afar off so as not to be included in such punishment by Rome as well. Not daring to approach, to attempt to rescue and save her.

These verses form the threnody of kings, merchants and seamen--their song of lamentation, as a dirge over Jerusalem, the fallen city. They were represented in verses nine and ten as having thrived on her harlotries, but cut off from the lucrative revenues of her commerce they were envisioned as standing afar off, offering no help but bewailing the plight of besieged Jerusalem: Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. - Wallace

Alas, alas . . Woe, woe.

Verse 11

Merchants of the earth . . This was almost a synonymous term for Jews (even today). The merchants lament because of trade connections.

With Jerusalem’s fall Jews everywhere suffered a setback and discrimination. They affected the econ omy of the world in that the leaders in world trade were Jewish.

This coming referred to the destruction of Jerusalem, as in Zechariah 14:1-21; and the declaration that every eye shall see him referred to the universal knowledge of what was happening to Jerusalem; and all the kindreds (tribes) of the earth shall wail denoted the mourning of all Jewish families in all parts of the world over the destruction that had befallen their beloved city. - Wallace

Verse 12

merchandise of gold and silver . . . Zechariah 14:14 Jerusalem held a lot of the world’s riches. Her scattered citizens send their tithes and visited often. They prospered in the world where ever they went. They controlled banks, and shipping companies, and businesses, and in all this forgot God and rejected the Messiah. - DJ

The rulers, merchants and mariners of Palestine bewailed the calamity for no man buyeth their merchandise any more. The valuables of the merchandise in which this trade consisted were listed in verses twelve to fourteen. The description of gold, purple and spice were symbols of the flow of commerce which characterized Jerusalem’s prosperity. But with the severance of all trade, deprived of all commerce, the authorities of Judea, the merchants and the shippers, once associated with Jerusalem in all of her luxury and wantonness, then stood aloof as witnesses of the destruction, deploring the devastation; but only to bewail her plight. - Wallace

Verse 13

See RWP for information in each individual word.

cinnamon and incense . . the trade list continues.

fragrant oil . . A very costly perfume (cf. Matthew 26:7, Matthew 26:12; John 12:3). - MSB

frankincense . . A fragrant gum or resin imported from Arabia and used in incense and perfume (Song of Solomon 3:6; Matthew 2:11). - MSB

slaves, even souls of men . . This addition is an explanation of the use of sōmata for slaves, “human live stock” (Swete), but slaves all the same. Perhaps kai here should be rendered “even,” not “and”: “bodies even souls of men.” The slave merchant was called sōmatemporos (body merchant). - RWP

slaves and human lives . . The Greek phrase used here also appears in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the ot) to represent prisoners of war and slaves (Numbers 31:32-35; 1 Chronicles 5:21; Ezekiel 27:13). Approximately one-third to one-half of the Roman Empire’s population consisted of slaves. - FSB

While chapter 18 may sound favorable to interpreting "Babylon" as Rome, we must remember that the description also fits Jerusalem as well and all the other factors as well.

Verse 14

the fruit . . (Gr. opora, lit. ripe autumn fruit) these merchants so desire is no longer available (cf. Jeremiah 40:10, Jeremiah 40:12; Judges 1:12). - Constable

the luxury and the splendor . . The Greek phrase used here, ta lipara kai ta lampra, translates literally as “the fatty things and the shiny things.” Ta lipara likely refers to delicacies and foods associated with a lavish lifestyle (see Revelation 18:13). Ta lampra describes objects of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls (see Revelation 18:12) - FSB

luxurious and splendid . . This is a word play on the Greek terms lipara (luxury) and lampra (splendid). - Utley

never to be recovered . . The Greek construction of the last clause indicates that these things will never ever return. - (Robertson, 6:442. There are two double negatives.)

The Seer sees them all gone, and gone for ever; another summer, another ingathering, is not to be hoped for; never again will be found (οὐ μὴεὑρήσουσιν, - Swete

Verse 15

18:15 Again the merchants bewail their fate. Selfishness and greed characterize these individuals. They too, like the kings, stand at a distance viewing the destruction of the city (cf. Revelation 18:10, Revelation 18:17). - Constable

the merchants . . The merchants, who gained wealth from the great prostitute (Revelation 18:15) issue a lengthy lament, since the great prostitute especially represents the lust for materialistic acquisition and luxury. - ESVSB

The extensive traffic in thirty articles specified by John represented the affiliations of the Jewish capital with all the heathen world. Included in this commercial revenue was the traffic in slaves, and souls of men--meaning the lives of men. There was no source of revenue from the heathen world not included in the coalition between Jerusalem and the merchants of the earth, as described in verses fifteen and sixteen. - Wallace

Verse 16

Alas, alas . . Revelation 18:10 "Woe, woe" ["Terrible!" NCV; Doom, doom" MSB]

The refrain (v.16) also shows the blending of the prostitute image of ch. 17 (“dressed in fine linen,” etc.; cf. Revelation 17:4) and the city image of ch. 18 (“O great city”). - EBCNT

clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet . . The same description as the prostitute ("Babylon") in Revelation 17:4 - FSB

adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls . . The merchants still think only of its money they will miss and deplore, not of the city and its people.

stones … pearls . . Both these words should be collective singulars. - CBSC

Verse 17

In one hour . . = a short time.

come to nothing . . [laid waste; made desolate; come to naught; wiped out; been destroyed; brought to ruin; came to nothing]

shipmaster . . Singular used for the collective body of shipmasters. They like the kings and merchants are concerned only for the wealth they will miss in their trade, but they show no concern for the people.

sailors . . cf. Ezekiel 27:29; This picture by John come from OT prophets, particular Ezekiel’s picture of the fall of Tyre.

The sense is more general than the A. V.: it will include all three classes, shipmasters, sailing merchants, and sailors. - CBSC

This is an allusion to Ezek. 26–28 (city of Tyre), where those employed in the transportation of these luxuries mourned because their own livelihoods had been affected. - Utley

Babylon . . The cryptic name for the prostitute, for Jerusalem, who has persecuted the apostles and prophets. Revelation 11:8

Verse 18

While the Jewish world lamented over the destruction of their holy city Jerusalem and its spectacular temple (undoubtedly one of the building wonders of the world at the time), political leaders and the merchants lamented over their loss for purposes of gaining wealth.

the smoke of her burning . . Revelation 14:11; (of Edom, Isaiah 34:10;) Revelation 18:9; Revelation 19:3

What is like this great city? . . cf. Ezekiel 27:32. This expresses what an important role politically but especially economically Jerusalem was in that first century AD.

Their cry, “What city was like the great city?” no longer ascribes incomparable excellence (Revelation 13:4) but mourns incomparable destruction (Ezekiel 27:32). - ESVSB

Verse 19

And they cast dust on their heads . . A common sign of mourning and grief among the Orientals. See the notes on Job 2:12. (cf. Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 2sa 15:32; Job 2:12; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 27:30).

People earlier behaved similarly over Tyre’s demise (Ezekiel 27:30).

Alas, alas . . These sea people also echo the laments and repeat the behavior of the kings (Revelation 18:10) and the merchants (Revelation 18:15, Revelation 18:16-17). - Constable

became rich by her wealth . . ‘by reason of her valuableness,’ i.e. her great wealth, - Swete

one hour . . One brief period of swif judgment.

desolate . . - left, forsaken by God - Matthew 23:38.

Verse 20


Revelation 18:20 is the parallel of Luke 21:20-22. Christ himself had prophesied it and it is fitting that John shows us that the fulfillment of the Lord’s prophesy "at hand" and is to "shortly" come to pass in the last book of the holy scriptures, Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:10.

Rejoice . . Note the CONTRAST of others surveying her judgment

*** Revelation 6:10; Revelation 18:24

**** // Luke 21:20-22

Luke 18:7

Matthew 23:34-36

Luke 11:47-51

Revelation 6:9-10

Rejoice over her . . In contrast to the mourning of the world’s political and economic systems, those who have been oppressed by the great city rejoice over its demise (compare Jeremiah 51:48). - FSB [Some think it also may a reference to Deuteronomy 32:43, WG]

Rejoice over her . . Revelation 12:12. There may be a reminiscence of Jeremiah 51:48. We cannot tell if the words are those of the angel of Revelation 18:1, of the voice of Revelation 18:4, or of the seer himself: perhaps the second is most likely. - CBSC

you holy apostles and prophets . . Should probably read, the saints and the apostles and the prophets.

God has avenged you on her . . The saints under the altar of sacrifice in Revelation 6:10 had cried for vengeance. Jesus says in Luke 21:20-22 that they days of vengeance would come with the destruction of Jerusalem.

God would avenge His own who cry out to him Luke 18:7.

Jesus said the city of Jerusalem would be held accountable for the righteous blood of the prophets, and that such accountable would come upon that generation to whom to spoke, Matthew 23:34-36. Luke 11:47-51; Revelation 6:9-10

Throughout the book, God’s judgments are connected with the prayers of His children (cf. Revelation 6:10). - Utley

Verse 21

Revelation 18:21

a mighty angel . . Lit. one strong angel. - CBSC

The strong angel (cf. Revelation 5:2; Revelation 10:1) also explained his symbolic action. Babylon’s destruction will be sudden, violent, and permanent. - Constable

a stone like a great millstone . . Millstones were large, heavy stones used to grind grain. This metaphor portrays the violence of Babylon’s overthrow. Cf. Jeremiah 51:61-64; MSB

In Matthew 18:6 a stone used for grinding grain. Lit. “the millstone of an ass”—a stone so large it took a donkey to turn it. Gentiles used this form of execution, and therefore it was particularly repulsive to the Jews. - MSB

threw it into the sea . . Another allusion to the destruction of literal Babylon by the prophet Jeremiah who cast a stone and scroll into the Euphrates to show that Babylon would "sink, to rise no more", Jeremiah 51:63-64. Symbolizing total destruction Jeremiah 51:63-64; Luke 17:2. (cf. ESVSB)

The final lament over the fall of Babylon, spoken by an angel, is poignant and beautiful. A mighty angel picks up a huge stone like a giant millstone (four to five feet in diameter, one foot thick, and weighing thousands of pounds) and flings it into the sea. One quick gesture becomes a parable of the whole judgment on Babylon the Great! Suddenly she is gone forever (cf. Jeremiah 51:64; Ezekiel 26:21), leaving only melancholy behind. - EBCNT

with violence . . [with a mighty fall, with a violent force] Lit., with a rush or dash. R. V. “with a mighty fall.” - CBSC

‘As this stone is flung into the deep, so shall Babylon vanish.’ ρμήματι, impetu, ‘with a rush,’ like a stone whizzing through the air; cf. Deuteronomy 28:49 - Swete

Great city Babylon . . Jerusalem’s political and religious power was lost.

(This designation for Jerusalem as Babylon makes at least suspect the appearance of the word in the 1 Peter 5:13 .)

thrown down, ... not be found anymore . . This is an allusion to Jeremiah 51:63-64. It is a strong passage showing that Babylon will never, never rise again. As a matter of fact, in Revelation 18:21-23, there are six DOUBLE NEGATIVES, “certainly not,” “not under any circumstances,” and “never, no, never.” - Utley

Verse 22

The destruction was complete, Jerusalem was not inhabited for a time.

harpists, musician, flutist, and trumpeters . . The joyous sounds of feasts, festival, celebrations, and even of commerce in economically good times will disappear - FSB

the voice of harpers &c . . Isaiah 14:11, of Babylon, Ezekiel 26:13, of Tyre, are certainly parallels: compare also Isaiah 24:8, which is as similar as the passages of Jeremiah referred to on the following passage, and apparently, like them, spoken of the unfaithful Jerusalem. - CBSC

anymore . . A hyperboly to express and stress the thought of the utter destruction.

no craftsman . . The first to inhabit the area of Jerusalem were nomadic bedouin shepherds.

No more music, no industry, no preparing of food (“millstone”), no more power for light, and no more weddings because God will destroy the deceivers and deceived. - MSB

the sound of a millstone . . Jeremiah 25:10 or literal Babylon.

These were the sounds of everyday life in the ancient near east. God’s judgment brings an end to this godless society (cf. Isa. 24; Jer. 25:10; Ezek. 26). - Utley

Verse 23

light of a lamp . . There will be darkness in all the city, no one there !

the voice of bridegroom and bride . . Recalls the language used to describe the loss of joy in Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 16:9; and Jeremiah 25:10. - FSB

For your merchants were the great men . . [the most important people] . . Jewish merchants not only carried goods, but their religious practices as well all over the known world. As a result they became rich, and Jerusalem became well known. cf. Isaiah 23:8 (of Tyre); Nahum 3:4 (of Nineveh).

all the nations were deceived by your sorcery . . This is an allusion to Nahum 3:4. Notice that in Revelation 18:23-24 there are listed three reasons for the fall of the great city: (1) pride and wealth (cf. Isaiah 23:8); (2) idolatry and sorcery (cf. Leviticus 19:26, Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:9-12); and (3) persecution of the people of God (cf. Revelation 16:6, Revelation 17:6). - Utley

The angel gave three reasons for this devastation, two in Revelation 18:23 and one in Revelation 18:24. First, men whom the world regards as great have enriched themselves and lifted themselves up in pride because of Babylon’s influence (cf. Isaiah 23:8). Second, as a result of the first reason Babylon has seduced all nations. She deceived all the nations into thinking that joy, security, honor, and meaning in life come through the accumulation of material wealth. She used sorcery (cf. Revelation 9:21) to seduce the nations into following her (cf. 2 Kings 9:22; Isaiah 47:9, Isaiah 47:12; Nahum 3:4). The third reason for Babylon’s judgment is that she slew the saints (cf. Jer. 51:35, 36, 49). The angel stated this reason as a fact rather than as an accusation. - Constable

sorcery . . Babylon’s sorcery (Revelation 21:8) has deceived … all nations, as the false prophet’s signs tricked earth dwellers, small and great, into worshiping the beast (Revelation 13:13-16; Revelation 17:8). - ESVSB

[Remember that the Sadducees were favored by Rome and the high priest during the 1st century served at the pleasure of Rome. They were the party of the wealth and political elite and at times gave their loyalty and support to Roman rule.]

Verse 24


Apostles and prophets to rejoice

in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints . . Luke 11:47-51 ; Luke 18:7 ; Luke 21:20-22 ; Matthew 23:34-36 ; Revelation 6:9-10 ; Revelation 16:6

Revelation 17:6 The woman "Babylon" drunk with the blood of the martyrs.

The judgment described in Revelation is God’s vengeance on Jerusalem for rejecting His Son, and for their persecution of his saints, in both the OT and NT times.

[God being just, takes vengeance upon nations now in this life time -- and on individuals at the Great Day of Judgement. Cf. Romans 12:19 ; Luke 18:7 ; Luke 18:8 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ; Revelation 6:10 ; Luke 21:22 ; ( Acts 28:4 ) Romans 3:5 ; Romans 13:4 ; 2 Corinthians 10:6 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:6 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:8 ; Hebrews 10:30]

God will avenge that slaughter of His people (Revelation 19:2). - MSB

blood of prophets and saints . . The religious and commercial/political systems embodied in Babylon [Jerusalem] will commit unspeakable atrocities against God’s people (cf. Revelation 6:10; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:7, Revelation 13:15; Revelation 17:6; Revelation 19:2). God will avenge that slaughter of His people (Revelation 19:2). - MSB

blood . . Introduces the reason God’s judgments are just (vv. 5, 7) and recalls the martyrs’ appeals for God to judge persecutors and avenge their blood (Revelation 6:10; cf. Revelation 18:20; Revelation 19:2; Deuteronomy 32:43; 2 Kings 9:7; Psalms 79:10, Psalms 79:12; Isaiah 49:26). - NIVZSB [note at Revelation 16:6]

Babylon persecutes those who oppose her idolatry, immorality, and luxury (cf. Revelation 6:9; Revelation 16:6; Revelation 18:24; Revelation 19:2) NIVZSB [note at Revelation 17:6]

God’s “judgments” on Babylon demonstrate his truth and justice and motivate worship (cf. Revelation 15:4; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 18:20; Deuteronomy 32:4). ... God answers the martyrs’ prayers for vindication (Revelation 6:10). - NIVZSB [note at Revelation 19:2]

and of all who were slain on the earth . . “Blood violently shed cries out for vengeance until it is rewarded by the punishment of the murderers [cf. Genesis 4:10]. The destruction of Babylon answers to that punishment.” - Thomas, Revelation 8–22, p. 347. [quoted by Constable]

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Revelation 18". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/revelation-18.html. 2021.
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