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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 18



Revelation 18:1 . The καὶ before μετὰ ταῦτα (Elz.) is, according to A, B, א , al. (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]), to be deleted; cf. Revelation 7:1 .

Revelation 18:2 . Instead of ἐν ἰσχύϊ , φωνῇ μεγάλῃ (Elz., Ew. ii.), read ἐν ἰσχυρᾷ φωνῇ , according to decisive witnesses (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

Revelation 18:4 . In favor of ἐξέλθατε , A testifies (Lach. 1846, Tisch.; א : ἐξέλθεται ; Elz.: ἐξέλθετε ); but the plural may have been written because of what follows. According to B, C, ἔξελθε (Lach. 1850) has at least equal authority, although even this sing. may be an emendation because of the address, ὁ λ . μ .

Revelation 18:5 . Instead of the interpretation ἠκολούθησαν (Elz.), Beng. already wrote, according to A, B, C: ἐκολλήθησαν ( א ).

Revelation 18:6 . The ὑμῖν after ἀπέδωκεν (Elz.) is, in accordance with A, B, C, א , to be deleted (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]). Likewise the αὐτῇ after διπλώσ .

Revelation 18:7 . Before κάθημαι , there is lacking, in the Rec., an ὅτι (A, B, C, א , Lach., Tisch.).

Revelation 18:8 . κρίνας . So A, B, C, א 1, al., Beng., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. The κρίνων (Elz.) is a poor effort at interpretation.

Revelation 18:13 . κρὶ ἄμωμον . So A, C, א , Beng., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Already, in B, there is the error of an omission (Elz.).

Revelation 18:14 . The σου belongs probably after ὀπώρα (A, C, א , Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]), and not after ψυχῆς (B, al., Elz.). The αὐτὰ must stand between οὐκέτι and οὐ μὴ (B, C, Lach., Tisch.), not at the close (Elz.). א has it before εὑρησ . (Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]). Instead of the modification εὑρήσης (Elz.), read, not εὕρῃς (B, Tisch.), but εὑρήσουσιν (A, C, א , al., Lach. [W. and H.]).

Revelation 18:17 . ἐπὶ τόπον πλέων . So A, B, C, Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. א : ἐ . τὸν τὸπ . The Rec. ἐπὶ τῶν πλοίωνὅμιλος is an unauthorized interpretation.

After, in ch. 17, the great city has been brought to view under the σημεῖον of the great harlot, as the immediate object of God’s judgment, whose execution is now impending, [3908] there follows a description of this judgment. But this is shown [3909] to John, not in the way, as, e.g., Revelation 21:9 sqq., the bride of the Lamb was shown him, i.e., the judicial act itself whereby the city is effaced, is not presented to the gazing prophet, but the description of the judgment is communicated in another form. In Revelation 19:1 sqq., this is celebrated as actually completed. On the other hand, at the close of ch. 18, there impends the actual execution (Revelation 18:21-24 ); [3910] also in the centre (Revelation 18:4-20 ), the keynote of the description is future, [3911] which is directed also here to the actually still-impending judgment. Accordingly, Revelation 18:1-3 dare not be so understood as though the completion of the judgment were presupposed, as a matter of fact, and accordingly, that the same reference must be made also between Revelation 17:18 and Revelation 18:1 ; but after a mighty angel has proleptically [3912] proclaimed the judgment now immediately impending over the city, as has already been done, another voice sounds from heaven (Revelation 18:4-20 ), which first of all commands believers to flee out of the city, whose destruction is now to be accomplished (Revelation 18:5 sqq.), and then describes how the fall of the city will be lamented by the inhabitants of the earth. Finally, another angel (Revelation 18:21-24 ) shows, by a significant act, how quickly and completely the fall of the city shall be. The proper act of judgment upon the city, which is to be regarded as afterwards between Revelation 18:24 sq. and Revelation 19:1 , John therefore does not see; but the more complete and manifest the statement in ch. 18, the more certainly is the promise of the angel in Revelation 17:1 fulfilled.

It is to be observed in all three parts of the description (ch. 18), how not only the whole is penetrated by an agreement with O. T. models, but also, especially, how, after the manner of the ancient prophets, the threat of judgment is not expressed without repeated allusion to the guilt of sin, whereby the just wrath of God is called forth. [3913]

[3908] Cf. Revelation 17:1 , Revelation 15:1 , Revelation 16:21 .

[3909] Revelation 17:1

[3910] Notice the future βληθήσεται , Revelation 18:21 .

[3911] Cf. Revelation 18:4 ; Revelation 18:6 ; Revelation 18:8-9 .

[3912] Cf. Revelation 11:15-19 , Revelation 14:8 .

[3913] Cf., already, Revelation 14:8 ; Revelation 14:15 sqq., Revelation 16:5 ; Revelation 16:19 .

Verses 1-3

Revelation 18:1-3 . ἄλλον ἄγγ . καταβαίνοντα , κ . τ . λ . The ἄλλον distinguishes this angel which can be neither Christ, [3914] nor the Holy Ghost, [3915] nor Luther [3916] from the one mentioned last. [3917] Beng. improperly refers the ἌΛΛΟΝ also to ΚΑΤΑΒΑΊΝΟΝΤΑ , as though this angel, coming from heaven, were contrasted with the one mentioned in Revelation 10:1 ; but there, as here, the ΚΑΤΑΒ . is an attributive determination to the idea of the subject ἌΛΛ . ἌΓΓ .

ἜΧΟΝΤΑ ἘΞΟΥΣΊΑΝ ΜΕΓΆΛΗΝ . The visible sign of this great plenitude of power is described immediately afterwards: Κ . Γῆ ἘΦΩΤΊΣΘΗ ἘΚ Τῆς ΔΌΞΗς ΑὐΤΟῦ , without any more specific statement as to in what way this ΔΌΞΑ has come to manifestation. [3918] But for the exceedingly important proclamation which is announced in Revelation 18:2 sqq., an exalted angel is prepared, who, with the brilliancy of his heavenly glory, shines forth over the whole earth (Revelation 18:2 : ἜΚΡ . ἘΝ ἸΣΧΥΡᾷ ΦΩΝῇ ), [3919] and cries with such a mighty voice that his message resounds throughout the whole earth, [3920] as far as the dominion of the city that has incurred the judgment extends.

ἔπεσεν , cf. Revelation 14:8 .

ἐγένετο κατακοιτήριον δαιμόνων

μεμισημένου . In the sense of Isaiah 13:22 ; Isaiah 34:14 sqq., and Bar 4:35 , it is rendered clear, that the stately city shall be entirely desolated. On the φυλ . παντ . ὀρνέου , κ . τ . λ ., cf. Jeremiah 50:39 ; Zephaniah 2:14 ; Psalms 102:7 . Even in respect to the description (Revelation 18:2 ), the allegorical exposition has been attempted; even Ebrard understands the “birds” spiritually.

The expression φυλακὴ signifies that the desolated κατοικτήριον is one received involuntarily, a prison. [3921]

ὅτι , κ . τ . λ . Declaration of the guilt of sin as the foundation of the judgment. [3922]

καὶ οἱ ἔμποροι , κ . τ . λ . Not only is the sin of godless, gluttonous, and arrogant wantonness punished, [3923] but at the same time the contrast is marked between the complete desolation and the former wantonness which had within reach such means that the merchants of the whole earth were thereby enriched. [3924] The ἐκ τῆς δυνάμεως τ . στρήν . does not mean “because of the abundance of luxury,” [3925] also not “because of their great wantonness,” [3926] but refers to the wantonness exercised with respect to the vast resources of the state. [3927]

[3914] Calov., Hengstenb.

[3915] Coccejus, Vitr.

[3916] Nicolai, etc. Cf. Calov.

[3917] Revelation 17:1 ; Revelation 17:7 ; Revelation 17:15 .

[3918] Cf. Revelation 10:1 , Revelation 1:14 sqq.

[3919] Cf. Revelation 5:2 .

[3920] Revelation 18:2 : ἔκρ . ἐν ἰσχυρᾷ φωνῇ . Cf. Revelation 5:2 .

[3921] Revelation 2:10 , Revelation 20:7 ; Beng., Hengstenb.

[3922] Cf. Revelation 14:8 , Revelation 17:2 .

[3923] Cf. Revelation 18:7 ; Revelation 18:9 .

[3924] Cf. Revelation 18:11 ; Revelation 18:23 .

[3925] Ewald.

[3926] De Wette, Hengstenb.

[3927] Cf. also Andr., Grot., Vitr.

Verses 4-20

Revelation 18:4-20 . Another voice from heaven scarcely that of God or Christ, [3928] because the discourse extending until Revelation 18:20 , and even presenting from Revelation 18:9 the grievance of another, is not appropriate to the mouth of God or Christ, but of an angel, who [3929] speaks in the name of God first of all commands those who belong to the people of God to leave the city given over to destruction: ἴνα μὴ συγκοινωνήσατε , κ . τ . λ . [3930] The ἀμαρτίαις αὐτῆς [3931] is not to be taken by metonymy for the punishments of sin; [3932] but the idea is, [3933] that fellowship in the sins of the city, which indeed is not a fellowship of guilt, yet will be a fellowship of punishments ( κ . ἐκ τ . πληγῶν , κ . τ . λ .). [See Note LXXXII., p. 449.] For the idea that God’s believers, whether under compulsion, [3934] or in consequence of an increased temptation, [3935] could actually share in the sins of the great city, is here scarcely justified, since the judgment unmistakably befalls them. Believers would share in the destruction occurring because of the sins of the city, which now (Revelation 18:5 ) have reached the highest limit: ὅτι ἐκολλήθησαν , κ . τ . λ ., i.e., the sins not the cry thereof have accumulated to so monstrous a degree that they reach even to heaven. [3936] On the expression κολλᾶσθαι

ἄχρι τ . οὐρ ., literally belong even to heaven, cf. Bar 1:20 , [3937] Psalms 63:9 , [3938] and similar examples in Biel, Thes .

ἐμνημόνευσεν , cf. Revelation 16:9 .

[3928] Beng., Hengstenb.

[3929] Revelation 11:3 .

[3930] Cf. Jeremiah 51:6 ; Jeremiah 51:9 ; Jeremiah 51:45 .

[3931] Cf. Revelation 18:5 , αἱ άμαρτ . and τ . ἀδικήμ . αύτ .

[3932] Beng., De Wette.

[3933] Cf. Genesis 19:15 . Hengstenb.

[3934] Ew. ii.

[3935] Luthardt.

[3936] Cf. Ezekiel 9:6 . Beng.

[3937] ἐκολλήθη είς ἡμᾶς τὰ κακὰ .

[3938] ἐκολλ . ἡ ψυχή μου ὁπίσω σου .


LXXXII. Revelation 18:4 . συνκοινωνήσατε ταῖς ἀμαρτίαις

Participation both in the sins, i.e., in the guilt, and in the punishment, is, however, expressly mentioned. As Ebrard and Hengstenberg note, there is an explicit antithesis between ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις and τῶν πληγῶν . Besides, where there is no guilt, there is no real punishment, except in that one case of the vicarious suffering of Him who assumed our guilt. The chastisements of the believer are not punishments, but blessings. Lange is therefore right when he takes exception to our author’s interpretation, and adds: “A guiltless participation in punishment would certainly be akin to propitiatory suffering. Fellowship with the sinner, however, on an equal moral footing, without the re-action of discipline, chastisement, excommunication, is fellowship in his guilt. Hence the πληγαί are not simply strokes: they are deserved strokes. See Joshua 7:0 ; Numbers 16:21-24 .

Verses 6-8

Revelation 18:6-8 . Now the one speaking in God’s name [3939] turns to those who are to execute his judgment of wrath upon the great city: ἀποδότε αὐτῇ , κ . τ . λ . She is to be rewarded, [3940] and that, too, doubly; [3941] i.e., she is to suffer for her sins, now the corresponding, entirely complete punishment; and just as she had glorified herself, and lived in arrogant wantonness, so is there now much pain and sorrow to be given her. [3942] The determination of the degree (Revelation 18:7 ), ὅσα

τοσοῦτον , [3943] which expresses the idea of strict justice, throws the true light upon the more rhetorical presentation in διπλώσατε , διπλᾶ , διπλοῦν . Even at the beginning ( ἀπόδοτε , κ . τ . λ .), the equality of guilt and punishment was designated; [3944] the very expression ἈΠΈΔΩΚΕΝ is explained by the fact that it is to correspond to the ἈΠΌΔΟΤΕ ΑὐΤῇ .

The transformation of proud security into the deepest sorrow represented in striking antithesis (Revelation 18:7 a ) is further intensified by what succeeds in Revelation 18:7 b and Revelation 18:8 . As the foundation of the ὅσα ἑδόξασεν , the arrogant speech which the woman carries in her heart, is stated: she boasts, because of her sovereignty over the world, [3945] that “she is enthroned as a queen, [3946] not as a widow,” but, as a prolific mother, she is the mistress of many cities [3947] and nations, [3948] and is confident that she “shall never see sorrow,” i.e., learn to know it by experience, [3949] especially by the death of her children. [3950] But in sharp contrast with this confident pride is opposed the threatening occasioned by it: [3951] on “ one day ” [3952] shall her plagues come, and that, too, not only “ death ,” which makes her a widow, but also “ mourning ,” which she thought that she would never experience, and hunger , instead of her inordinate luxury.

καὶ ἐν πυρὶ κατακ . Cf. Revelation 17:16 .

ὅτι ἱσχυρὸς , κ . τ . λ . The pledge for the infallible execution of the threat; cf. Revelation 1:8 . [3953]

κρίνας αὐτήν . Incorrectly interpreted by the poor var., κρίνων . For the judgment is already fulfilled to such an extent that in the threat just expressed, the punishment on the part of the judge is already determined.

[3939] Cf. the final formula, Revelation 18:8 .

[3940] Cf. Revelation 16:5 sqq., Revelation 14:8 sqq., Revelation 11:18 .

[3941] Cf. Isaiah 40:2 .

[3942] Cf. Amos 8:10 .

[3943] On the form of the expression, cf. Romans 6:10 ; Galatians 2:20 .

[3944] ὡς καὶ αὐτὴ ἁπέδ . Cf. Revelation 14:10 .

[3945] Cf. Revelation 17:18 .

[3946] Cf. Isaiah 47:7 .

[3947] Cf. Revelation 17:5 .

[3948] Cf. Isaiah 17:8 .

[3949] John 8:51 sqq.

[3950] πένθος , lamentation for the dead. Cf. Genesis 27:41 ; Genesis 1:10 sqq.; Amos 8:10 . Ew. ii.

[3951] διὰ τοῦτο , like the ancient prophetical לָכֵן e.g., Micah 2:2 ; Micah 3:6 ; Amos 3:11 ; Amos 5:13 ; Amos 5:16 .

[3952] Cf. Isaiah 47:9 .

[3953] Amos 4:13 ; Amos 5:27 .

Verse 9

Revelation 18:9 sq. The lament of the kings of the earth. [3955] Cf. Revelation 14:11 . The βασανισμός of the city, through which they are affected by the judgment, is its actual πυρῶσις . [3956] Accordingly the lamenting kings stand at a distance: they dread the conflagration in which the city perishes. [3957]

Οὐαί , οὐαί . With the διπλώσατε , Revelation 18:6 , the repetition of the cry of woe, which corresponds only to the extremity of the pain, [3958] has nothing to do. [3959]

πόλιςμεγάλη , κ . τ . λ . The allusion to the greatness and power of the city [3960] makes still more forcible the impression of its destruction, which is expressly designated as the reason for the lamentation ( ὅτι , κ . τ . λ .).

[3955] Cf. Revelation 17:2 .

[3956] Cf. Revelation 1:15 .

[3957] Cf. Revelation 18:15 .

[3958] Cf. Revelation 18:16 ; Revelation 18:19 .

[3959] Against Hengstenb.

[3960] Cf. Revelation 18:11 sqq., Revelation 19:21 sq.

Verses 9-20

Revelation 18:9-20 . Now the kings and other inhabitants of the earth lament for the rash pride of the great city, whereby they also are painfully affected. [3954] Yet in Revelation 18:11 ; Revelation 18:17 , a similar change in form of statement occurs, as in Revelation 11:11 compared with Revelation 11:7 .

[3954] Cf. Ezekiel 27:0 .

Verses 11-16

Revelation 18:11-16 . The lament of the merchants.

κλαίουσιν καὶ πενθοῦσιν .

By the present, John passes over to the tone of narration; [3961] but does not choose here as yet the preterite, [3962] so that he still does not express the idea that he himself had observed the destruction of the city, or the accompanying lamentations. The easier afterwards is the return to the original course (Revelation 18:15 ); but the recent transition to the narrative brings finally with it also the preterites (Revelation 18:17 sq.).

τὸν γόμον . The cargo. [3963]

The entire description of the many precious things, for which the merchants can no more find purchasers, gives a view of the previous necessities of the luxurious [3964] city. The mass of different things are mentioned with suitable grouping

σηρικοῦ . Silk. [3965]

καὶ πᾶν ξύλον θύϊνον , κ . τ . λ . The alternation of accusatives and genitives dependent upon the τὸν γόμον until the close of Revelation 18:13 , which is here presented very definitely, may serve as an explanation of the ambiguous construction, Revelation 17:4 .

The precious, sweet-scented thyine wood, [3966] the “ citreum ” of the Romans, comes from the tree called θύον , θύα , θύϊα , which is possibly identical with the white cedar ( cupressus thyioides ). [3967]

The expression πᾶν ξύλ . θύ . designates, first of all, the collected precious material; [3968] upon this follows the enumeration of the vessels made from the precious material, under which is σκ . ἐκ ξύλου τιμ .

κινάμωμον . Cinnamon. [3969]

ἄμωμον . The precious hair-ointment procured from an Asiatic shrub. [3970]

σεμίδαλιν . Finest wheat-flour, “ simila ” [3971] or “ similago .” [3972]

κτήνη . The general expression, which includes also horned cattle, [3973] precedes.

ῥεδῶν . A kind of four-wheeled vehicle. [3974] Alexander Sev. furnished the Roman senators with such vehicles, decorated with silver, “thinking that it pertained to the Roman dignity, that senators of so great a city should be carried therein.” [3975]

σωμάτων , i.e., slaves, σώματα δοῦλα [3976] See examples from the LXX. in Biel. [3977] The following expression ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων [3978] also points to the slaves, and because of the difference in the construction the γόμον being understood with the genitive it seems that a distinction is intended to be made. [3979] The most probable [3980] explanation is that which understands the ΣΩΜ . as referring to such slaves as belong to the horses and chariots, and the latter expression, ΨΥΧ . ἈΝΘΡ . , as referring to slaves in general. So, too, in Revelation 18:17 , Ew. ii. understands, in the last place, female slaves. Volkm., who gives a false emphasis to the ΚΑῚ before ΨΥΧ . ἈΝΘΡ . , [3981] finds here the judgment given by the Christian spirit, that transactions in the slave-trade are not concerning the “bodies,” but the “souls,” of men. But it is nevertheless correct, that, according to the heathen view, the slaves are considered only as ΣΏΜΑΤΑ ; the ΨΥΧ . ἈΝΘΡ . also receives a certain importance from the fact that it concludes a short paragraph. Yet the explanation of Volkmar, with respect to the change of construction, seems to me impossible.

The lamentation in Revelation 18:14 [3982] turns to the objects that have served another chief class of the ΣΤΡῆΝΟς of the great city, daintiness and gluttony; this part of the description, by its description of the punishment, calls to mind the corresponding guilt of sin.

ὈΠΏΡΑ ΣΟΥ Τῆς ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑς Τῆς ΨΥΧῆς . Excellently, Luther, who also describes, with correct meaning, the genitive limitation to ὈΠΏΡΑ : das Obst, da Deine Seele Lust dran hatte . [3983]

ἈΠῆΛΘΕΝ ἈΠῸ ΣΟῦ . In the same sense as the parallel ἈΠΌΛΕΤΟ ἈΠῸ ΣΟῦ . Cf. Psalms 142:5 . LXX.

ΤᾺ ΛΙΠΑΡᾺ . Properly “the fat,” but its combination with ΤᾺ ΛΑΜΠΡᾺ points to the fact that the expression is to be taken [3984] in the ordinary improper sense. [3985] Every thing pre-eminent and glorious, in its class, is finally grouped together.

The two last verses, which refer to the lamentation of the merchants, establish the conformity with Revelation 18:9 sqq., which could not as yet be attained because of Revelation 18:11-14 ; also in the two points that the merchants appear standing at a distance and raising the express cry of lamentation. The τούτων , Revelation 18:15 , corresponding to this, refers not only to those of Revelation 18:14 , [3986] but to all things mentioned by Revelation 18:11 , [3987] so that there is no reason to censure the discourse for inconcinnity. [3988]

κόκκινον . That the scarlet raiment here, [3989] like the purple, indicates the royal glory of the city, is self-evident in the impression of the merchants. By those who neither see nor understand the scarlet beast, only such an idea of the woman is presupposed, as she corresponds in harmonious connection with the view of the luxurious glory of the city granted the prophet in ch. 17.

[3961] De Wette.

[3962] Cf. Revelation 11:11 .

[3963] Acts 21:3 . Cf. Eustath. in Wetst.: φόρτος νηὸς , ὁ καὶ γόμος .

[3964] Revelation 18:3 : τ . στρήνους αὐτ .; Revelation 18:7 ; Revelation 18:9 . Cf. Revelation 17:4 .

[3965] Cf. Winer, Rwb ., on this word.

[3966] Luther.

[3967] Cf. Wetst. and Winer, Rwb ., on the word.

[3968] Against De Wette: “All sorts of vessels made therefrom.” Cf. Hengstenb.

[3969] Luth. Cf. Winer, Rwb ., on this word, and Zimmt.

[3970] Plin., H. N ., xii. 28. Cf. Martial, viii. 77: “Assyrio semper tibi crinis amomo splendeat” [May thy hair always shine with the Assyrian amomus ]. See Wetst.

[3971] Vulg.

[3972] Cf. Plin., H. N ., xviii. Revelation 20 : “Similago ex tritico fit laudatissima.”

[3973] See lexicons.

[3974] Isidor., xx. 17.

[3975] Lamprid. in Wetst.

[3976] Pollux, III. 71.

[3977] Cf. Wetst., Wolf, etc.

[3978] Ezekiel 27:13 . Cf. 1 Chronicles 5:21 .

[3979] Cf. Wetst., who refers the ψυχ . ἀνθρ . to gladiators; Züll., who refers σώμ . to proper slaves, ψυχ . ἀνθρ . to such as are hired also for lust.

[3980] Cf. Beng., Ewald, Hengstenb.

[3981] “Aye, souls of men.”

[3982] Vitr. has thought, with Beza and Laun., that Revelation 18:14 belongs not to this place, but between Revelation 18:23-24 . Ew. i. regards the verse as a marginal note of John, who did not immediately find a suitable place for the thought. Ew. ii. concedes it to be possible, that the verse is here derived from an entirely different book; but if it belong to the Apoc., he would introduce it in the midst of Revelation 18:23 . Cf. also Volkm. But even though the form of the address giving offence could not be understood as the lament of the merchants, this does not follow until Revelation 18:15 sqq., in a manner corresponding to Revelation 18:10 , it must be decided, nevertheless, that the interpreting angel (Bleek), or the voices interposed in Revelation 18:4 , directly address the city now lamented and threatened. A similar alternation in the form of description occurs also in Revelation 18:22 sqq., in comparison with Revelation 18:21 ; Revelation 18:24 . Cf. also Hosea 2:8 .

[3983] [“The fruit in which thy soul had pleasure.”]

[3984] Luther, Bengel, Hengstenb.

[3985] Isaiah 30:23 . Cf. Hesych., who explains λιπ .: καλόν , ἔλαφρον , κ . τ . λ . [beautiful, easy, etc.].

[3986] De Wette.

[3987] Beng.

[3988] Against De Wette.

[3989] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 17:4 .


LXXXIII. Revelation 18:11-16

Alford suggests a difficulty which he confesses himself unable to answer, that Rome never has been, nor can be, a great commercial city; and that this description, based on the lament over Tyre in Ezekiel 27:0 , would be better adapted to London than to Rome. Contrast Rome, however, with Jerusalem, and its relative pertinency becomes manifest. In addition, the metropolis may be here regarded as the impersonation of all the luxury of the whole empire. The reading of chapter 1 of Farrar’s Early Days of Christianity will throw light upon this point.

Verses 17-19

Revelation 18:17-19 . The lament of the shipmasters, which likewise contains the three points of Revelation 18:9 sq. and Revelation 18:11-16 : the standing afar off of those lamenting, the remembrance of the city’s former glory, and the cry of woe over its destruction.

On the preterite forms of statement ( ἔστησαν , Revelation 18:17 , ἔκραζον , Revelation 18:18-19 ), from which, however, according to the plan of the entire description, ch. 18. it is not to be inferred that John actually beheld the fall of the city, cf. on Revelation 18:11 , and the preliminary note on ch. 18.

All classes of mariners are mentioned, just as, Revelation 18:11 sqq., all classes of merchants were indicated: “pilots,” and πᾶςἑπὶ τόπον πλέων , i.e., not exactly the “coasters,” [3990] but those who regularly sailed to a definite harbor; [3991] and ναῦται , i.e., “mariners” in general; and, as it is finally said, “as many as work the sea,” i.e., all those for whom the sea is the sphere of their calling and the source of livelihood; fishermen also belong to this category. On the expression common in the classics, τὴν θάλ . ἐργάζεσθαι , “to work the sea,” cf. many examples in Wetst.

καπνὸν τ . πυρ . Cf. Revelation 18:9 .

The question of lamentation, τίς ὁμοία τῇ πόλει τῇ μεγάλ ; is likewise a sarcastic allusion to the former self-deification of the metropolis of the empire. [3992]

ἔβαλον χοῦν , κ . τ . λ . Cf. Ezekiel 27:30 . Concerning this sign of grief, cf. Winer, Rwb ., on the word.

ἐνἐπλούτησαν , κ . τ . λ . The city was the place where all mariners with their manifold wares had found a rich and productive market; for, because of its precious treasures, [3993] the city was able to become the source of wealth to all dealers. ( ἐπλούτ .

ἐκ τῆς τιμιότητος αὐτ . Cf. Revelation 18:3 .

ἠρημώθη .) Cf. Revelation 17:3 . [See Note LXXXIII., p. 449.]

[3990] De Wette.

[3991] Beng., Hengstenb., etc. Cf. Acts 27:2 .

[3992] Cf. Revelation 13:4 .

[3993] Cf. Revelation 18:16 .

Verse 20

Revelation 18:20 . The heavenly voice not John, [3994] to whom this demand is not well adapted [3995] exhorts not only heaven (together with all who dwell therein, Revelation 12:12 ), but also all who on earth belong to the Lord, to joy over the city thus perishing. Earthly believers who are exhaustively enumerated by the three categories οἱ ἅγιοι , οἱ ἀπόστολοι , and οἱ προφῆται , [3996] in which the most general conception precedes, and then two particular classes are mentioned, because they, being first attacked by the hatred of the secular power, [3997] have an especial reason to rejoice over the vengeance inflicted by God’s judgment are mentioned besides “heaven,” because it is intended to express that to the entire number of those who belong to the Lord, [3998] the destruction of the city is a joyful proof of the righteousness and glory of their God.

ὅτι ἔκρινεν , κ . τ . λ . This fact, upon which the lamentation of the inhabitants of the earth is based, [3999] is the foundation of the joy of all the saints. But also in the phraseology, this diversity of relation is marked; the judgment of God, which the city has incurred, [4000] has brought about a ΚΡΊΜΑ , i.e., an act fulfilled by the ΚΡΊΝΕΙΝ , which [4001] is called a judgment of believers ( ΚΡ . ὙΜῶΝ ), since this judgment executed in the city, taken upon her ( ἘΞ ΑὐΤῆς ), [4002] is the justification and satisfaction of those believers persecuted by the worldly city, but now avenged on it.

[3994] Züll.

[3995] Cf. Revelation 12:12 .

[3996] Cf. Revelation 11:18 .

[3997] Cf. Revelation 18:24 .

[3998] For critical inferences this passage is not adapted. With the same justice with which it would be inferred that John does not belong to the apostles, we may also conclude that he does not belong to the prophets. The state of the case is different, however, in Revelation 21:14 .

[3999] Revelation 18:10 ; Revelation 18:16 ; Revelation 18:19 .

[4000] Revelation 18:8 : κρίνας αὐτήν ; the aor., as in this passage, ἔκρινεν . Revelation 18:10 : ἡ κρἰσις σου .

[4001] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 17:1 , where the harlot was designated as the direct object.

[4002] Cf. Revelation 6:10 .

Verses 21-24

Revelation 18:21-24 . Finally, a mighty angel in representing the impending sudden destruction of the great city, by casting a great stone into the sea, not only in his speech explaining this symbolical act, describes, by individual vivid features, the transformation into desolate silence of the pleasure and magnificence that have hitherto prevailed, but also points definitely to the guilt of the city as the ground of the judgment.

εἰς ἄγγελος ἰσχυοὸς . On εἰς in the indefinite sense, cf. Revelation 8:13 . The might of the angel is especially emphasized, because this is demanded for his action. [4003]

ΛΊΘΟΝ Ὡς ΜΎΛΙΝΟΝ ΜΈΓΑΝ . By the comparison ῶς ΜΎΛ . ΜΈΓ . , the greatness of the stone is illustrated. [4004] The meaning of the act [4005] is described well by Andr., since he holds to the literal interpretation of the angel: ΚΑΘἈΠΕΡ , ΦΗΣῚΝ , ΜΎΛΟς ΚΑΤΑΔΎΕΙ ὉΡΜΉΜΑΤΙ ΕἸς ΤῊΝ ΘΆΛΑΣΣΑΝ , ΟὝΤΩ ΚΑῚ Τῆς ΒΑΒΥΛῶΝΟς ΤΑΎΤΗς ἈΘΡΌΟΝ ἜΣΤΑΙ ΚΑΘΑΊΡΕΣΙς , ὬΣΤΕ ΜΉΤΕ ἼΧΝΟς ΑὐΤῆς ΦΥΛΑΧΘῆΝΑΙ ΕἸς ΤῸ ΜΕΤΈΠΕΙΤΑ . [4006] Here it is likewise remarkable that Andr. does not see that he is led to substitute for the expression ΜΎΛΟς , which is unusual as a designation of a millstone, that which is ordinarily employed, and how he correctly paraphrases the ὈΡΜΉΜΑΤΙ [4007] by ἈΘΡΌΟΝ .

Concerning Οὐ ΜῊ with aor. subj., Revelation 18:21 sqq., [4008] see Winer, p. 471.

The description, Revelation 18:22 sqq., which refers not only to objects of pleasure and luxury, but also to daily wants and natural relations of life, has the model of Ezekiel 26:13 , Jeremiah 25:10 , [4009] as its foundation; the ἘΡΉΜΩΣΙς of the city (Revelation 18:16 ; Revelation 18:19 ; Revelation 17:16 ) [4010] is illustrated in a concrete way.

Πᾶς ΤΕΧΝΊΤΗς ΠΑΣ . ΤΈΧΝΗς . The exhaustive conclusion of the category, of which several individual examples are mentioned. [4011] ὍΤΙ ΟἹ ἜΜΠΟΡΟΙ ΣΟΥ , Κ . Τ . Λ . Very suitably, the discourse of the angel concludes with a definite presentation of the guilt of the city. This, however, is stated in a threefold way from Revelation 18:1 on: [4012] first, the unprecedented luxury in which the city had indulged, because of its wealth; [4013] then the licentiousness into which she had led astray all nations and kings, as she brought all the world thither to her service and to acknowledge her as the divine queen; [4014] finally, her bloody hostility to the saints. [4015] All three points [4016] the angel emphasizes, sealing, as it were, his announcement of judgment with this establishment of guilt; the first, in the words ὍΤΙ ΟἹ ἜΜΠΟΡΟΊ ΣΟΥ ἮΣΑΝ ΟἹ ΜΕΓΙΣΤᾶΝΕς Τῆς Γῆς , [4017] “because thy merchants were the great men of the earth,” i.e., because they who brought thee the objects of thy luxurious life found in thy wealth and extravagance a source of their own wealth, which made them the great men of the earth; [4018] the second, in the words ὅτι ἐν τῇ φαρμακείᾳ σου , κ . τ . λ ., which cannot be understood as a foundation of what immediately precedes, [4019] but are co-ordinate with the first expression ὅτι οἱ ἔαποροι , κ . τ . λ ., since here the same object is described as in Revelation 17:2 ; Revelation 17:4 , and the seductive sorcery [4020] is in fact nothing else than the intoxicating wine of the harlot. The most important third point of the guilt is finally emphasized with especial force, Revelation 18:24 , by the change in the form of the discourse. Not in an apostrophe to the city, but in a judgment of firm objectivity, it is here finally established that in the city the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all those slain upon earth (for Christ’s sake), “was found.” In an exquisite manner the ΕὐΡΈΘΗ indicates how the blood, which has been shed “upon the earth,” was reckoned “to the city.” The city is the capital of the entire empire, hating and murdering believers; as a matter of fact also, in the Neronian universal persecution, it took the lead of its empire.

In violation of the context, Ew. ii. understands the ΠΆΝΤ . Τ . ἙΣΦ ., Κ . Τ . Λ . , of those not Christians.

[4003] Cf. Revelation 5:2 , 18.

[4004] Cf. Revelation 11:1 , Revelation 8:8 .

[4005] Cf. Jeremiah 51:63 sqq.

[4006] [“Just as, he says, the millstone sinks by its impulse into the sea, so also the destruction of this Babylon shall be all at once, so that not a trace of it shall be preserved for posterity.”]

[4007] Cf. Matthew 8:32 with its parallels.

[4008] Also Revelation 18:7 .

[4009] Cf. Jeremiah 7:34 , Jeremiah 14:9 , Jeremiah 33:11 .

[4010] Cf. Jeremiah 7:34 .

[4011] Cf. Revelation 18:14 ; Revelation 18:17 .

[4012] Cf. ch. 17.

[4013] Revelation 18:3 ; Revelation 18:7 ; Revelation 18:11 sqq.

[4014] Cf. Revelation 18:3 ; Revelation 18:6 sq., 9, Revelation 17:2 .

[4015] Cf. Revelation 17:6 .

[4016] Cf. Ewald.

[4017] Cf. Isaiah 23:8 .

[4018] Cf. Revelation 6:15 . So Ewald, De Wette, Hengstenb., etc. Eichh. improperly regards the οί ἔμπ . σου as the predicate, as he besides regards “the merchandise” as a figurative designation for “fornication.”

[4019] Against Hengstenb.

[4020] φαρμακεία refers to the love-potions of the harlot. Cf. Isaiah 47:9 ; Isaiah 47:11 sqq. Ewald, De Wette.

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Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 18". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.