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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 18

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Christ and the Fall of Babylon. Chapters 1719 (1 John 2:17)

This is the sixth parallel section. The central idea is: “The world and everything in it that men desire is passing away.” We once again return to the First Coming. Chapter 17 shows the nature and history of the prostitute; chapter 18 shows the inevitable, complete, irrevocable downfall and ruin of her; chapter 19 shows heaven celebrating God’s victory over the prostitute.

Verses 1-3


After this I saw another angel. Angels are sent to announce God’s decree, and to carry out his work. Great Babylon has fallen! Compare Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 50:2; Jeremiah 51:8. The angel uses the “historic future” to speak of Babylon’s coming fall as though it had already happened. The emptiness and desolation of “fallen Babylon” is described in the last half of Revelation 18:2. (Compare Isaiah 13:20-22; Jeremiah 50:39; Jeremiah 50:45; Jeremiah 51:37; Jeremiah 51:42; Zephaniah 2:14.) Revelation 18:3 gives the reason for Babylon’s fall. [It is a paradox that this present world is both a blessing and a curse, serving both God and the Devil. What it is to you will be determined by your attitude toward it (1 Timothy 6:10).]

Verse 4


Come out, my people. Notice that God has people living in Babylon. God’s people in all ages are commanded to come out of Babylon. (Compare Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11; Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:54; Zechariah 2:7; 2 Corinthians 2:16-17.) Since Babylon is the World, as a center of seduction, God’s people in all ages live right in the middle of it. To “come out” is to be pure from her sins. [Some have misunderstood this call to “come out,” and dropped out of society and hidden themselves away. But the Apostles and early Christians did not do this. They continued to be an active part of society, working to turn people to Jesus Christ – which then “changes the world” for that person. “When anyone is joined to Christ he is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Verse 5


And God remembers her wicked ways. It may look like God has forgotten, but he has not!

Verse 6


Pay her back twice as much. She deserves what she will receive!

Verse 7


For she keeps telling herself. In the vision, Babylon is proud and arrogant. (Compare Isaiah 14:13-14; Isaiah 47:8; Jeremiah 50:29.)

Verse 8


Because of this. Because she is proud and boastful, her plagues will all strike her in one day (symbolic of sudden, complete destruction). The Lord God, whom she has opposed, is very strong!

Verses 9-10


The kings of the earth. The kings (men of influence) cry and weep when they see her destroyed. They shared her immorality and enjoyed her luxuries. Notice they stand a long way off because they are afraid.

Verses 11-16


The businessmen of the earth. The businessmen cry and mourn, because their goods have suddenly become worthless! Most of the list of goods are luxuries for a pleasure-mad world! These include slaves and even men’s souls. Fortunes have been made through the “seduction of the world.” Notice these businessmen stand long way off because they are afraid.

Verses 17-19


All the ship captains. Those who make their fortune by the sea (exporters, importers, fishermen, pearl-divers, etc.). They throw dust on their heads as a sign of sorrow and grief. And in one hour she has lost everything. Babylon’s fall happens again and again throughout history. The fall of Babylon brings economic chaos! The unbeliever has built his trust and his hope on the things which Babylon symbolizes (the luxuries and pleasures of this world). The world, as it is now, changes (1 Corinthians 7:29-31). The wicked trust only in material things, and, when Babylon falls, they fall with it! (Compare Luke 12:16-21.)

Verse 20


Be glad! The world makes God’s people suffer (see note on Revelation 2:20). God will judge the world in vengeance! He does this again and again by making Babylon fall.

Verses 21-23


Then a mighty angel. The large stone is thrown down to the bottom of the sea where no one can retrieve it! This is symbolic that Babylon will be found “never again!” [God continually judges “society” because “society” persecutes and harms God’s people.] False magic, Compare Isaiah 47:9-15. The “glamour, romance, gold, and appeal” of this world are a “false magic,” but don’t forget that “witchcraft, voodoo, fortune-telling, etc.,” turn people from God, and make vast fortunes for some.

Verse 24


Punished because the blood. Babylon is “stained with the blood” of prophets and God’s people. This requires God’s vengeance! Also, this is another reason to think of Babylon as past, present, and future, rather than just a city or power at the “end time.” Heaven celebrates God’s victory over the prostitute, Babylon!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 18". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/revelation-18.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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