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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Revelation 18

Verses 1-24

15 The Great City Babylon (Revelation 18)

There is a deep importance for Christians, as well as intense solemnity, attaching to Revelation 17 and 18, as therein we have a complete setting forth of the terrible character of the last phase of corrupt Christendom and of its final doom. In Revelation 17 we have learned that the corrupt religious system that through the ages has professed to be the church of God, and finds its greatest expression in the Papacy, will at last be found in unholy alliance with a worldly empire that derives its power from the bottomless pit. While professing the Name of Christ, this false church is utterly untrue to Christ, as set forth by the figure of the false woman.

(Vv. 1-3) In Revelation 18 we see this same corrupt religious system set forth under the figure of a great and imposing city, and we learn that the Papacy, which for ages has claimed to be exclusively the church of God, and thus "the habitation of God through the Spirit," will, in its terrible end, "become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." These solemn truths are announced by an angel from heaven who, invested with great authority, enlightens the darkness of earth with the glory of heaven. With a strong voice that none can gainsay, the angel announces the fall of this false system, and in a few brief words sums up its evil effect upon the world at large. "All nations" have been utterly deceived by her intoxicating influence. Kings have been indulged in evil by their unholy association with her; and the worldly minded have been "enriched through the might of her luxury."

(Vv. 4-8) In view of the terrible character of this corrupt system, and the overwhelming judgment coming upon it, John hears a voice from heaven - which surely is the voice of Christ - saying, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." In the beginning of the Christian period believers were exhorted to "come out" from among the idolaters of the heathen world, and be "separate" (2Co 6:16; 2Co 6:17). In the end of the Christian period, in which our lot is cast, believers are exhorted to "come out" of the corrupt Christian profession as represented in all the fulness of its evil by the Papacy. We are not called to attempt to reform it, or overthrow it; but to come out of it, lest we partake of its sins. Babylon means "confusion," and no word could more adequately set forth the terrible result of that which professes the name of Christ being marked by the friendship of the world which is at enmity with God. It ends in the outward form of religion being used as a cloak to cover up "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." Against these sins we are warned. Our danger is that, even as true believers, we may fall into "her sins." What are her sins? Is not this her outstanding sin, that, while professing to be the church of God this terrible system is the practical denial of Christianity? She has dared to associate the Name of Christ with every worldly indulgence and fleshly lust. Instead of sheltering the Lord's people she has for ages been a persecutor of the saints. Instead of exalting Christ she has glorified herself. Instead of following Christ and letting go the present life, she has lived delicately. Instead of taking the path of a stranger and pilgrim as called out of this world, she has reigned as a queen in this world.

To escape these sins we are exhorted to "come out " and be wholly apart from the corruptions of Christendom. Our place as believers is outside the camp to gather to Christ who is in reproach in the world.Psa 94:1; Rom 12:19).

(Vv. 21-24) In the closing verses three leading truths come before us which sum up the instruction of the chapter as to the appalling character and terrible end of corrupt Christendom. Firstly, we learn how this religious corruption appears in the sight of men; secondly, we see its true character in the sight of God; and thirdly, we are told of the overwhelming judgment by which it will for ever be removed from the earth.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Revelation 18". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/revelation-18.html. 1832.