Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 18

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Revelation 18:1-3 A mighty angel declareth the fall of Babylon.

Revelation 18:4-7 God’s people commanded to depart out of her.

Revelation 18:8 After judgment.

Revelation 18:9,Revelation 18:10 The kings of the earth,

Revelation 18:11-16 and the merchants,

Revelation 18:17-19 and mariners, lament over her.

Revelation 18:20 The saints are excited to rejoice over her.

Revelation 18:21-24 A millstone cast into the sea denoteth her irrecoverable fall.

Verse 1

It is a matter of no great moment, whether by this

angel we understand Christ, or a created angel; the description agreeth to Christ, and may agree to a created angel.

Having great power; to whom God had given power and authority to declare the ruin of Babylon.

And the earth was lightened with his glory; and he had communicated to him a great glory, suited to his splendour and greatness whose messenger he was.

Verse 2

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen: whoever was meant by the angel whom John saw, Revelation 18:1, his business was to give warning to the whole world, (therefore he crieth with a strong voice, ) that Rome, the great city, the mother of spiritual harlots, should fall. This angel was a prophet, and the messenger of him who calls the things that are not as if they were; and therefore he speaks in a Divine, prophetic style: the prophets (ordinarily) speaking of things to come as past, or present, to denote the certain futurity of them, and doubling their words to assure us of it; for this, is fallen, is; expounded by shall be thrown down, Revelation 18:21. We read of this angel, Revelation 14:8; but it is ordinary with prophets to repeat the same things, and it is done as to the Chaldean Babylon, the type to this antitype, both Isaiah and Jeremiah declared in more than one sermon its certain approaching ruin. These words are taken from Isaiah 21:9, where the word fallen is doubled, as here. They are found also, Jeremiah 51:8. God here explaineth what he had said before, Revelation 14:8.

And is become the habitation of devils, &c.: the words are such as might signify a sinful fall, or apostacy; and what is here, is true of it in that sense; idols in Scripture being ordinarily called devils: but they seem rather to be understood of a penal fall, for such is that spoken of Isaiah 21:9, after which it should become a habitation of devils, and a cage of unclean birds. See the like spoken of literal Babylon, Isaiah 13:19-21; wild beasts and hateful birds usually frequenting desolate places.

Verse 3

For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication; that is, her fornications which have brought this wrath upon her.

And the kings of the earth have committed, &c.; she hath not only herself committed idolatry, but allured others to it, teaching them to break the commandments of God, and hath influenced princes to establish, and propagate, and to uphold, and maintain it; and all sorts of men have been bewitched by her, growing rich by her abundance, and being drenched in her luxury.

Verse 4

And heard another voice from heaven, saying: a command from God.

Come out of her, my people: they are the words of God by his prophet, Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6, calling to his people, that the years of their captivity being now expired, and they having a liberty to go back to Jerusalem, they would not linger longer in Babylon, nor partake

of her sins; for God was about to destroy that place; and if they were found in it, they would be in danger of being destroyed with it, especially if they were found partakers of its sins. But they are also a general warning to all to take heed of any fellowship with idolaters; and so the apostle applieth part of these words, 2 Corinthians 6:17. Here they are applied to mystical Babylon, which is Rome antichristian. God calls to all that either love him, or their own souls, to forsake the commmion of it; for while they continue in it, they must partake of its sins, worshipping the beast, by paying, at his command, a Divine homage to saints and angels, to the virgin Mary, to images and statues, nay, to a piece of baker’s bread; and doing so, they will be involved in her

plagues. This text looks terribly upon those who apostatize to that idolatry; and instead of coming out, (in obedience to the command of God), being come out, go in again, and that not by compulsion, but out of choice, and voluntarily.

Verse 5

For her sins have reached unto heaven; that is, the cry of her sins; according to what is said of Sodom, (one of the types of antichrist), Genesis 18:20,Genesis 18:21.

And God hath remembered her iniquities; the time is come when God will punish her for her idolatry and persecution, and all the abominable things done and committed by her.

Verse 6

This verse soundeth in mine ears, as if God had reserved he ruin of the papacy to be effected by some protestant hands, some of those whom they had persecuted; if not some of their persons, yet some of the same faith.

Verse 7

How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: this speaketh thus much; That whenever God’s time cometh for the ruin of the papacy, the condition of all that party shall appear as miserable as it appears now splendid and happy.

For she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow; and one great reason of this so great affliction, will be the pride, presumption, and security of that faction, much after the rate of old Babylon, Isaiah 47:8. Old Babylon thought itself impregnable; and new mystical Babylon thinks herself infallible and impregnable too; the only church, (if we will believe her), against whom the gates of hell shall not prevail.

Verse 8

Therefore shall her plagues come in one day; as was threatened to old Babylon, Isaiah 47:9.

In one day; that is, in a short time.

Death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; all manner of judgments, till she be fully consumed.

For strong is the Lord God who judgeth her; for she hath to do with a strong Lord: she thinks she hath secured herself from man, by interesting kings and princes in her quarrel; but it is the Lord that judgeth her, and she will find him strong enough to accomplish his word upon her.

Verse 9

Not all of them, for some of them shall help to burn her, Revelation 17:16; but such as God had left to their hardness of heart, that they still live in her fellowship and communion: or, if others also, it must proceed from their humanity, not being able to see so splendid a city, as that of Rome, ruined, and so many ruined as will perish by her fall, without the moving of their bowels by some pity and commiseration.

Verse 10

As well as they loved her, they will not come nigh her in the time of her torments; the fire will be too hot for them, they will only stand aloof off, and pity her, that so great and brave a city should be so suddenly ruined; such a gay and splendid church, so politicly founded and put together, should be in a sudden so broken to pieces.

Verse 11

As the merchants, Ezekiel 27:27, lamented for Tyre, that they could barter and truck no more there, because all the trade thereof was destroyed; so those ecclesiastical merchants, that were wont to trade with Rome for indulgences, and pardons, and dispensations, and faculties, for cardinals’ caps, and bishoprics, and prebendaries, and other church preferments, shall lament when the papacy falls, that there will be no more such merchandise to be bought or sold there.

Verses 12-14

Here is a large enumeration of several sorts of wares, such as were most precious,

gold, silver, precious stones; such as were most useful for ornament,

fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet; most gratifying the exterior senses,

thyine wood, odours, ointments, & c.; most necessary,

beasts, sheep, horses, chariots; all which, as is prophesied, shall depart from Rome: that is, whatsoever she had, which allured men into her idolatrous communion; all their idols and images, cardinals’ caps, priests’ copes, all their preferments and dignities, whatsoever served the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life; whatsoever their own carnal and ambitious minds, or the carnal and ambitious minds of others that courted this whore, thirsted after, which brought them to seek her communion; they should all perish, and she be despoiled of them. It is very remarkable, that here is one piece of merchandise to be had no where but at Rome, viz. the

souls of men; which lets us know they are no earthly merchants that are here understood. As souls are to be sold a thousand ways, so they are to be bought; by paying for pardons, indulgences, dispensations, so the silly chapmen think they buy their own souls; by purchasing of cardinals’ caps, bishoprics, great livings, all manner of ecclesiastical dignities and preferments, so they really buy the souls of others; but when the papacy shall be wholly destroyed, none of these things shall any more be found.

Verse 15

Not knowing how to help her, and fearing lest the buyers and sellers should he punished both alike; yet bewailing themselves that their trading is destroyed, and they are like to buy such pennyworths no more.

Verse 16

Alas, alas that great city! The Church of Rome, that was so gay, and splendid, and rich, and glorious.

Verse 17

In one hour; that is, suddenly. The term denotes rather the surprisal of this judgment, than the short space of time within which it should be effected.

Verses 18-19

We all know ship masters and sailors are persons that live by carrying merchants’ goods; and therefore, properly, the terms signify all such persons (of what rank and order soever) who get their livings by serving this mystical Babylon, whether silversmiths that make shrines for Diana, or clerks, or notaries, or any officers in that church, employed in gathering its revenues of annats and first-fruits, selling of offices, gathering of Peter-pence, drawing of pardons and indulgences, or dispensations, or such as in that synagogue hold any offices of profit. All who will be highly concerned in the ruin of the papacy, as that by the upholding of which they live, by reason of the great riches thus coming in, the whole rabble of their ecclesiastical hierarchy, with all their petty officers, seem to be here meant.

Verse 20

Rejoice over her, thou heaven; that is, over her ruin, which is not a more proper object for the sorrow and mourning of all her adherents and dependants, than of the joy of all spiritual, heavenly persons, which are the true church, who oppose this antichristian synagogue.

And ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her: you also that were apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, and such as have been exercised as prophets in revealing to men God’s mind and will, do you rejoice, for God hath revenged you upon her, for your doctrine corrupted by her, your rules of worship violated, and some of your blood that hath been spilt, and for all the indignities you have suffered from her.

Verse 21

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea; for a sign or symbol of the irreparable ruin of Rome, signified by that great millstone which had ground to powder so many of God’s holy ones. By this sign God shows his prophet:

1. That Rome shall be ruined.

2. That it shall be done with violence.

3. That it shall be a total, utter ruin, from whence it shall never recover.

Verses 22-23

And the voice of harpers, &c., shall be heard no more at all in thee; all these seem to me but the expression of an utter ruin and desolation, by various phrases and expressions; they should have no more occasion of mirth, nor any more business done in their city. If any will understand these expressions, of their organs, and other musical instruments used in worship, and of spiritual craftsmen, I shall not contradict it; but I think it more proper to understand the words more largely.

For thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived: though thou hast had a trade with great men, and by thy enchanted cups of the wine of thy fornication hast intoxicated many in all nations, yet thou shalt use that trade no more; the nations shall be deceived no more by thee; here shall be an end of thee. And one thing that brings thee to thy ruin, shall be thy seducing others to idolatry, so as they have seemed to reasonable men to be bewitched by thee.

Verse 24

In the rubbish of Rome, when destroyed, will be found the blood of all those holy servants of God, whether ministers of the gospel, or professors of it, who ever since the year 606, when the pope came first to his power, have been put to death for the testimony of Christ, and a faithful adherence to the purity of doctrine by him delivered, the purity of worship by him prescribed and directed, or the purity of discipline by his direction set up. As it is storied, that upon the dissolution of abbeys, and monasteries, and nunneries here in England, there were found in holes of walls, and ponds, the skulls and bones of many infants, the supposed bastards of those fathers: so, though men cannot or will not see it now, yet when the papacy shall have its period, men shall understand, that no prophet nor righteous man hath violently been put to death for the truth out of Rome, that is, out of the jurisdiction and influence of Rome; but though it may be they have been no professed papists that have been the cause or instruments of their death, yet they have done it as influenced from that bloody city; and the principles have been perfectly popish and antichristian which madly hurried them on to such cruelties. It was one of Luthers reasons why he would have none put to death for heresy, (as they call it), because he would have this particular character reserved for that antichristian synagogue.—But ah, Lord Jesus! When shall these things be? Or who shall live when the wise providence of God shall effect them, to join with the whole church, both triumphant and militant, in the song which we have prophesied of upon this occasion in the next chapter.

It is not for us to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power, Acts 1:7.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 18". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/revelation-18.html. 1685.
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