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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Revelation 18

Verses 1-24

Babylon and Its Fall Revelation 17:1 to Revelation 19:10 describes Babylon, its rebellion against God (Revelation 17:1-66.17.18), its fall (Revelation 18:1-66.18.24), and praise unto God for its destruction (Revelation 19:1-66.19.10). The fact that the Tribulation Period marks the end of the Times of the Gentiles, a period in which Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome raised empires that ruled the known world, suggests that the fall of Babylon in Revelation 17:1 to Revelation 19:10 essentially marks the end of human rule upon earth. Jesus will return to earth at this time and set up His earthly kingdom, ruling from the holy city of Jerusalem. Whether biblical scholars interpret Babylon in the book of Revelation to symbolize the Roman Empire or to literary mean the city of Babylon, the fact is that the world’s system of rule that began with Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome ends at this time, ushering in a new era of God’s plan of redemption for mankind.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Babylon as an Earthly Institution Revelation 17:1-66.17.18

2. The Fall of Babylon Revelation 18:1-66.18.24

3. Heaven’s Praises for Babylon’s Fall Revelation 19:1-66.19.10

The Personification of the City Called Babylon In Revelation 17:1-66.17.18 John the apostle introduces a figurative character of a woman, a harlot, whom he calls Babylon, and later describes as the great city. The most popular interpretation of this passage is to identify the city as Rome, whom John personifies in this passage of Scripture as the “mother of harlots.” One of the strongest argues in support of the city of Rome is the description of her sitting upon seven hills (Revelation 17:9). The city of Rome has been popularly known as the city of seven hills since antiquity, as seen in Classical literature, with Virgin and Propertius using very similar language to John the apostle in personifying the city of Rome with her enthronement and pomp among the nations.

The Latin scholar Varro (116-27 B.C.) writes, “Where Rome now is, was called the Septimontium [Seven Hills] from the same number of hills which the City afterwards embraced within its walls.” ( On the Latin Language 5.41) [106]

[106] Virro, On the Latin Language, vol. 1, trans. Roland G. Kent, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 39.

The Latin poet Virgil (70-19 B.C.) writes, “…thus Rome became of all things the fairest, and with a single city's wall enclosed her seven hills.” ( Georgics 2:535) [107] He also personifies the city of Rome much like John the apostle, writing, “Lo! under his auspices, my son, that glorious Rome shall bound her empire by earth, her pride by heaven, and with a single city's wall shall enclose her seven hills, blest in her brood of men: even as the Berecyntian Mother, turret-crowned, rides in her car through the Phrygian cities, glad in her offspring of gods, and clasping a hundred of her children's children, all denizens of heaven, all tenants of the heights above.” ( Aeneid 6.783) [108]

[107] Virgil, vol. 1, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 153.

[108] Virgil, vol. 1, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 561.

The Latin poet Horace (65-8 B.D.) writes, “To the Immortal Gods a hymn to raise Who in the seven-hilled City take delight.” ( The Secular Hymn 5) [109]

[109] The Works of Horace, vol. 2, trans. Theodore Martin (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1881), 97.

The Latin poet Propertius (50-45 to 15 B.C.) personifies the city of Rome, using a number of similar statements to John the apostle, writing, “No day shall ever free thee of this stain, O Rome…The city high-throned on the seven hills, the queen of all the world, was terrified by a woman’s might and feared her threats! What boots it now to have broken the axes of Tarquin, whose proud life brands him with the name of ‘proud,’ if we must needs endure a woman’s tyranny? Rome, take thy triumph and, saved from doom, implore long life for Augustus. Yet didst thou fly, O queen, to the wandering streams of timorous Nile!” (3.11.36, 46-52) [110]

[110] Proterius, trans. H. E. Butler, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1916), 215-217.

The Latin poet Ovid (43 B.C. to A.D 17) writes, “…but Rome, that gazes about from her seven hills upon the whole world, Rome, the place of empire and the gods.” ( Tristia 1.5.69) [111]

[111] Ovid: Tristia, Ex Ponto, trans. Arthur Leslie Wheeler, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1939), 33.

The Latin historian Pliny (A.D. 23-79) writes, “Romulus left Rome possessing three or, to accept the statement of the authorities putting the number highest, four gates. The area surrounded by its walls at the time of the principate and censorship of the Vespasians, in the 826th year of its foundation, measured 13 miles and 200 yards in circumference, embracing seven hills.” ( Natural History 3.66-67) [112]

[112] Pliny, Natural History, vol. 2, trans. H. Rackham, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1961), 51.

The Latin poet Juvenal (late 1 st or early 2 nd c. A.D.) writes, “Juv. Fear not: you will never want a pathic friend, These hills standing and safe : from every where to them There come together, in chariots and ships...” ( Satires 9.130-132) [113]

[113] Juvenal and Persius, vol. 1, trans. M. Madan (Oxford: J. Vincent, 1839), 305.

Verses 1-24

Babylon and Its Fall Revelation 17:1 to Revelation 19:10 describes Babylon, its rebellion against God (Revelation 17:1-66.17.18), its fall (Revelation 18:1-66.18.24), and praise unto God for its destruction (Revelation 19:1-66.19.10). The fact that the Tribulation Period marks the end of the Times of the Gentiles, a period in which Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome raised empires that ruled the known world, suggests that the fall of Babylon in Revelation 17:1 to Revelation 19:10 essentially marks the end of human rule upon earth. Jesus will return to earth at this time and set up His earthly kingdom, ruling from the holy city of Jerusalem. Whether biblical scholars interpret Babylon in the book of Revelation to symbolize the Roman Empire or to literary mean the city of Babylon, the fact is that the world’s system of rule that began with Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome ends at this time, ushering in a new era of God’s plan of redemption for mankind.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Babylon as an Earthly Institution Revelation 17:1-66.17.18

2. The Fall of Babylon Revelation 18:1-66.18.24

3. Heaven’s Praises for Babylon’s Fall Revelation 19:1-66.19.10

The Personification of the City Called Babylon In Revelation 17:1-66.17.18 John the apostle introduces a figurative character of a woman, a harlot, whom he calls Babylon, and later describes as the great city. The most popular interpretation of this passage is to identify the city as Rome, whom John personifies in this passage of Scripture as the “mother of harlots.” One of the strongest argues in support of the city of Rome is the description of her sitting upon seven hills (Revelation 17:9). The city of Rome has been popularly known as the city of seven hills since antiquity, as seen in Classical literature, with Virgin and Propertius using very similar language to John the apostle in personifying the city of Rome with her enthronement and pomp among the nations.

The Latin scholar Varro (116-27 B.C.) writes, “Where Rome now is, was called the Septimontium [Seven Hills] from the same number of hills which the City afterwards embraced within its walls.” ( On the Latin Language 5.41) [106]

[106] Virro, On the Latin Language, vol. 1, trans. Roland G. Kent, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 39.

The Latin poet Virgil (70-19 B.C.) writes, “…thus Rome became of all things the fairest, and with a single city's wall enclosed her seven hills.” ( Georgics 2:535) [107] He also personifies the city of Rome much like John the apostle, writing, “Lo! under his auspices, my son, that glorious Rome shall bound her empire by earth, her pride by heaven, and with a single city's wall shall enclose her seven hills, blest in her brood of men: even as the Berecyntian Mother, turret-crowned, rides in her car through the Phrygian cities, glad in her offspring of gods, and clasping a hundred of her children's children, all denizens of heaven, all tenants of the heights above.” ( Aeneid 6.783) [108]

[107] Virgil, vol. 1, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 153.

[108] Virgil, vol. 1, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 561.

The Latin poet Horace (65-8 B.D.) writes, “To the Immortal Gods a hymn to raise Who in the seven-hilled City take delight.” ( The Secular Hymn 5) [109]

[109] The Works of Horace, vol. 2, trans. Theodore Martin (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1881), 97.

The Latin poet Propertius (50-45 to 15 B.C.) personifies the city of Rome, using a number of similar statements to John the apostle, writing, “No day shall ever free thee of this stain, O Rome…The city high-throned on the seven hills, the queen of all the world, was terrified by a woman’s might and feared her threats! What boots it now to have broken the axes of Tarquin, whose proud life brands him with the name of ‘proud,’ if we must needs endure a woman’s tyranny? Rome, take thy triumph and, saved from doom, implore long life for Augustus. Yet didst thou fly, O queen, to the wandering streams of timorous Nile!” (3.11.36, 46-52) [110]

[110] Proterius, trans. H. E. Butler, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1916), 215-217.

The Latin poet Ovid (43 B.C. to A.D 17) writes, “…but Rome, that gazes about from her seven hills upon the whole world, Rome, the place of empire and the gods.” ( Tristia 1.5.69) [111]

[111] Ovid: Tristia, Ex Ponto, trans. Arthur Leslie Wheeler, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1939), 33.

The Latin historian Pliny (A.D. 23-79) writes, “Romulus left Rome possessing three or, to accept the statement of the authorities putting the number highest, four gates. The area surrounded by its walls at the time of the principate and censorship of the Vespasians, in the 826th year of its foundation, measured 13 miles and 200 yards in circumference, embracing seven hills.” ( Natural History 3.66-67) [112]

[112] Pliny, Natural History, vol. 2, trans. H. Rackham, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1961), 51.

The Latin poet Juvenal (late 1 st or early 2 nd c. A.D.) writes, “Juv. Fear not: you will never want a pathic friend, These hills standing and safe : from every where to them There come together, in chariots and ships...” ( Satires 9.130-132) [113]

[113] Juvenal and Persius, vol. 1, trans. M. Madan (Oxford: J. Vincent, 1839), 305.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Revelation 18". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/revelation-18.html. 2013.