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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Revelation 18

Verse 1

Coming down out of heaven (καταβαινοντα εκ του ουρανου). Present active predicate participle. Not the angel of Revelation 17:1; Revelation 17:7; Revelation 17:15 (John's guide), but one announcing the doom of Babylon (Rome). As in Revelation 10:1; Revelation 20:1.

Was lightened (εφωτισθη). First aorist passive of φωτιζω, old causative verb (from φως, light), common in N.T. as in Revelation 18:1; Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:5.

With his glory (εκ της δοξης αυτου). "By reason of (εκ as in Revelation 8:13; Revelation 16:10) his glory." "So recently has he come from the Presence that in passing he flings a broad belt of light across the dark earth" (Swete).

Verse 2

Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great (επεσεν, επεσεν Βαβυλων η μεγαλη). The very words of Revelation 14:8: "Did fall, did fall Babylon the great." Prophetic aorists of πιπτω repeated like a solemn dirge of the damned.

Is become (εγενετο). Prophetic aorist middle.

A habitation of devils (κατοικητηριον). Late word (from κατοικεω, to dwell), in N.T. only here and Ephesians 2:22. Devils should be demons, of course. So Isaiah prophesied of Babylon (Isaiah 12:21) and also Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50:39) and Zephaniah of Nineveh (Zephaniah 2:14). Both Babylon and Nineveh are ruins.

A hold of every unclean spirit (φυλακη παντος πνευματος ακαθαρτου). Φυλακη is garrison or watch-tower as in Habakkuk 2:1, rather than a prison (Revelation 20:7).

A hold of every unclean and hateful bird (φυλακη παντος ορνεου ακαθαρτου κα μεμισημενου). Ορνεου is old word for bird, in N.T. only Revelation 18:2; Revelation 19:17; Revelation 19:21. "The evil spirits, watching over fallen Rome like night-birds or harpies that wait for their prey, build their eyries in the broken towers which rise from the ashes of the city" (Swete). Long ago true of Babylon and Nineveh, some day to be true of Rome.

Verse 3

By (εκ). "As a result of." Some MSS. omit "of the wine" (του οινου). Cf. Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:10.

Have fallen (πεπτωκαν). Perfect active third personal of πιπτω for usual πεπτωκασ. Some MSS. read πεπωκαν (have drunk), from πινω like the metaphor in Revelation 14:8; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:2. See Revelation 17:2 for the same charge about the kings of the earth.

The merchants of the earth (ο εμπορο της γης). Old word for one on a journey for trade (from εν, πορος), like drummers, in N.T. only Matthew 13:45; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:11; Revelation 18:15; Revelation 18:23. Like εμποριον (John 2:16) and εμπορευομα (James 4:13).

Waxed rich (επλουτησαν). First ingressive aorist active indicative of πλουτεω, to be rich (cf. Revelation 3:17). Here alone in the N.T. do we catch a glimpse of the vast traffic between east and west that made Rome rich.

Of her wantonness (του στρηνους αυτης). Late word for arrogance, luxury, here alone in N.T. See στρηνιαω in verses Revelation 18:7; Revelation 18:9, to live wantonly.

Verse 4

Come forth, my people, out of her (εξελθατε, ο λαος μου, εξ αυτης). Second aorist (urgency) active imperative ( form) of εξερχομα. Like Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11; Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6, (about Babylon). See also the call of Abram (Genesis 12:1). the rescue of Lot (Genesis 19:12). In the N.T. see Mark 13:4; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:11. Hο λαος is vocative with the form of the nominative.

That ye have no fellowship with her sins (ινα μη συνκοινωνησητε ταις αμαρταις αυτης). Purpose clause with ινα μη and the first aorist active subjunctive of συνκοινωνεω, old compound (συν, together, κοινωνος, partner), in N.T. only here, Philippians 4:14; Ephesians 5:11. With associative instrumental case αμαρτιαις.

And that ye receive not of her plagues (κα εκ των πληγων αυτης ινα μη λαβητε). Another purpose clause dependent on the preceding, with ινα μη and the second aorist active subjunctive of λαμβανω, and with proleptic emphatic position of εκ των πληγων αυτης before ινα μη.

Verse 5

Have reached (εκολληθησαν). First aorist passive (deponent) indicative of κολλαω, old verb (from κολλα, gluten, glue), to cleave to, to join one another in a mass "up to heaven" (αχρ του ουρανου). Cf. Jeremiah 51:9; Zechariah 14:5.

Hath remembered (εμνημονευσεν). First aorist (prophetic) active indicative of μνημονευω, here with the accusative (αδικηματα, iniquities) instead of the genitive (Colossians 4:18).

Verse 6

Render as she rendered (αποδοτε ως απεδωκεν). Second aorist (effective) active imperative and first aorist (effective) active of αποδιδωμ, old and common verb for requital, to give back, the lex talionis which is in the O.T. (Jeremiah 50:15; Jeremiah 50:29; Jeremiah 51:24; Jeremiah 51:56; Psalms 137:8), and in the N.T. also (Matthew 7:2). Here the reference is to persecutions by Rome, particularly the martyrdom of the saints (Revelation 18:24; Revelation 19:2).

Double the double (διπλωσατε τα διπλα). First aorist imperative of διπλοω, old verb (from διπλοος, double, Matthew 23:15), here only in N.T. Διπλα is simply the neuter plural accusative (cognate) contract form for διπλοα (not διπλω). Requite here in double measure, a full requital (Exodus 22:4; Exodus 22:7; Exodus 22:9; Isaiah 40:2; Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 17:18; Zechariah 9:12). The double recompense was according to the Levitical law.

Which she mingled (ω εκερασεν). First aorist active indicative of κεραννυμ. The relative ω is attracted to the locative case of its antecedent ποτηριω (cup), for which see Revelation 14:8; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:3.

Mingle unto her double (κερασατε αυτη διπλουν). First aorist active imperative of the same verb κεραννυμ, with the same idea of double punishment.

Verse 7

How much soever (οσα). Indefinite quantitative relative pronoun οσος in the accusative (cognate) neuter plural object of εδοξασεν (first aorist active indicative of δοξαζω).

Herself (αυτην). Reflexive pronoun, accusative also with εδοξασεν.

Waxed wanton (εστρηνιασεν). First aorist (ingressive) active indicative of στρηνιαω (to live luxuriously), verb in late comedy instead of τρυφαω (James 5:5), from στρηνος (Revelation 18:3), only here in N.T.

So much give her of torment and mourning (τοσουτον δοτε αυτη βασανισμον κα πενθος). Second aorist active imperative of διδωμ, to give. The correlative pronoun τοσουτον is masculine singular accusative, agreeing with βασανισμον, for which see Revelation 9:5; Revelation 14:11, and is understood with the neuter word πενθος (mourning), in N.T. only in James 4:9; Revelation 18:7; Revelation 21:4 (kin to παθοσ, πενομα).

I sit a queen (καθημα βασιλισσα). Predicate nominative for the old form βασιλεια (βασιλις), as in Matthew 12:42. Babylon and Tyre had preceded Rome in such boasting (Isaiah 47:7-9; Ezekiel 27:3; Ezekiel 28:2; Zephaniah 2:15).

And am no widow (κα χηρα ουκ ειμ). Feminine of the adjective χηρος (barren), old word (Mark 12:40).

Shall in no wise see mourning (πενθος ου μη ιδω). Confident boast of security with emphatic position of πενθος (see above) and double negative ου μη with the second aorist active subjunctive of οραω (defective verb).

Verse 8

Therefore (δια τουτο). Because of her presumption added to her crimes.

In one day (εν μια ημερα). Symbolical term for suddenness like μια ωρα, in one hour (Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:16; Revelation 18:19). John has in mind still Isaiah 47:7-9.

Shall come (ηξουσιν). Future active of ηκω. Her plagues are named (death, mourning, famine).

She shall be utterly burned (κατακαυθησετα). Future passive of κατακαιω (perfective use of κατα).

With fire (εν πυρ). "In fire," as in Revelation 17:16.

Which judged her (ο κρινας αυτην). Articular first aorist active participle of κρινω referring to κυριος ο θεος (the Lord God). The doom of Babylon is certain because of the power of God.

Verse 9

Shall weep (κλαυσουσιν). Future active of κλαιω, middle κλαυσοντα in Attic, as in John 16:20.

And wail over her (κα κοψοντα επ' αυτην). Future direct middle of κοπτω, old verb, to beat, to cut, middle to beat oneself (Revelation 1:7). For combination with κλαιω as here see Luke 8:52. See Revelation 17:2; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:7 for ο πορνευσαντες κα στρηνιασαντες).

When they look upon (οταν βλεπωσιν). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν and the present active subjunctive of βλεπω.

The smoke of her burning (τον καπνον της πυρωσεως αυτης). Πυρωσις is an old word (from πυροω to burn), in N.T. only 1 Peter 4:12; Revelation 18:9; Revelation 18:18. See verse Revelation 18:8 for other plagues on Rome, but fire seems to be the worst (Revelation 17:16; Revelation 18:8; Revelation 18:9; Revelation 18:17; Revelation 19:3).

Verse 10

Standing afar off (απο μακροθεν εστηκοτες). Perfect active (intransitive) participle of ιστημ. Vivid picture of the terrible scene, fascinated by the lurid blaze (cf. Nero's delight in the burning of Rome in A.D. 64), and yet afraid to draw near. On απο μακροθεν see Mark 5:6. There is a weird charm in a burning city. They feared the same fate (cf. verse Revelation 18:7 for βασανισμου, torment).

Woe, woe, the great city (ουαι, ουαι, η πολις η μεγαλη). Only example in the Apocalypse of the nominative with ουα except verses Revelation 18:16; Revelation 18:19, though in Luke 6:25 and common in LXX (Isaiah 5:7; Isaiah 5:11, etc.). For the dative see Revelation 8:13, once so "strong" (η ισχυρα)!

In one hour (μια ωρα). Repeated in verses Revelation 18:16; Revelation 18:19, and like μια ημερα (in one day) in verse Revelation 18:8. Some MSS. have here μιαν ωραν, like ποιαν ωραν (accusative of extent of time) in Revelation 3:3. See verse Revelation 18:8 (ο κρινας) for η κρισις σου (thy judgment). This is the dirge of the kings.

Verse 11

The merchants (ο εμπορο). As in Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:15; Revelation 18:23. The dirge of the merchants follows the wail of the kings.

Weep and mourn (κλαιουσιν κα πενθουσιν). Present active indicatives of κλαιω and πενθεω as in verses Revelation 18:9 (for κλαιω), Revelation 18:15; Revelation 18:19.

For no man buyeth their merchandise any more (οτ τον γομον αυτων ουδεις αγοραζε ουκετ). Reason enough for their sorrow over Rome's fall. Γομος is old word (from γεμω to be full) for a ship's cargo (Acts 21:3) and then any merchandise (Revelation 18:11). Galen, Pliny, Aristides tell of the vastness of the commerce and luxury of Rome, the world's chief market. Many of the items here are like those in the picture of the destruction of Tyre in Revelation 18:26; Revelation 18:27. There are twenty-nine items singled out in verses Revelation 18:12; Revelation 18:13 of this merchandise or cargo (γομον), imports into the port of Rome. Only a few need any comment.

Verse 12

Of fine linen (βυσσινου). Genitive case after γομον, as are all the items to κοκκινου. Old adjective from βυσσος (linen, Luke 16:19), here a garment of linen, in N.T. only Revelation 18:12; Revelation 18:16; Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:14.

Purple (πορφυρας). Fabric colored with purple dye (πορφυρεος, Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:16), as in Mark 15:17; Mark 15:20; Luke 16:19.

Silk (σιρικου). So the uncials here. Το σηρικον (the silken fabric) occurs in Plutarch, Strabo, Arrian, Lucian, only here in N.T. Probably from the name of the Indian or Chinese people (ο Σηρες) from whom the fabric came after Alexander invaded India. Silk was a costly article among the Romans, and for women as a rule.

Scarlet (κοκκινου). See Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:16.

All thyine wood (παν ξυλον θυινον). Now accusative again without γομον dependence. An odoriferous North African citrus tree, prized for the colouring of the wood for dining-tables, like a peacock's tail or the stripes of a tiger or panther. Here only in N.T.

Of ivory (ελεφαντινον). Old adjective (from ελεφας elephant) agreeing with σκευος (vessel), here only in N.T. Cf. Ahab's ivory palace (1 Kings 22:39).

Of marble (μαρμαρου). Old word (from μαρμαιρω, to glisten), genitive after σκευος (vessel), here only in N.T.

Verse 13

Cinnamon (κινναμωμον). Old word transliterated into English, here only in N.T. Of Phoenician origin (Herodotus) as to name and possibly from South China.

Spice (αμωμον). A fragrant plant of India, αμομυμ, for perfume.

Incense (θυμιαματα). See Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3.

Ointment (μυρον). See Matthew 26:7.

Frankincense (λιβανον). See Revelation 8:3.

Fine flour (σεμιδαλιν). Old word for finest wheaten flour, here only in N.T.

Of horses (ιππων). Here then is a return to the construction of the genitive after γομον in verse Revelation 18:12, though not used here, an anomalous genitive construction (Charles).

Of chariots (ρεδων). A Gallic word for a vehicle with four wheels, here only in N.T.

Of slaves (σοματων). "Of bodies," treated as animals or implements, like the horses and the chariots (cf. rickshaw men in China). This use of σωμα for slave occurs in Genesis 34:29; Tob 10:11 (σωματα κα κτηνη, slaves and cattle); II Macc. 8:11.

Souls of men (ψυχας ανθρωπων). Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 160) finds this use of σωμα for slave in the Egyptian Delta. Return to the accusative ψυχας. From Numbers 31:35; 1 Chronicles 5:21; Ezekiel 27:13. This addition is an explanation of the use of σωματα for slaves, "human live stock" (Swete), but slaves all the same. Perhaps κα here should be rendered "even," not "and": "bodies even souls of men." The slave merchant was called σωματεμπορος (body merchant).

Verse 14

The fruits (η οπωρα). The ripe autumn fruit (Jeremiah 40:10; Jeremiah 40:12). Here only in N.T. Of uncertain etymology (possibly οπος, sap, ωρα, hour, time for juicy sap). See Jude 1:12 for δενδρα φθινοπωρινος (autumn trees).

Which thy soul lusteth after (σου της επιθυμιας της ψυχης). "Of the lusting of thy soul."

Are gone from thee (απηλθεν απο σου). Prophetic aorist active indicative of απερχομα with repetition of απο.

All things that were dainty and sumptuous (παντα τα λιπαρα κα τα λαμπρα). "All the dainty and the gorgeous things." Λιπαρος is from λιπος (grease) and so fat, about food (here only in N.T.), while λαμπρος is bright and shining (James 2:2), about clothing.

Are perished from thee (απωλετο απο σου). Prophetic second aorist middle indicative of απολλυμ (intransitive).

Shall find them no more at all (ουκετ ου μη αυτα ευρησουσιν). Doubled double negative with future active, as emphatic a negation as the Greek can make.

Verse 15

Of these things (τουτων). Listed above in verses Revelation 18:12-14.

Who were made rich by her (ο πλουτησαντες απ' αυτης). "Those who grew rich (ingressive aorist active participle of πλουτεω, for which see verses Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:13) from her."

Shall stand afar off (απο μακροθεν στησοντα). Future middle of ιστημ. Repeating the picture in verse Revelation 18:10. Again in verse Revelation 18:17. See verse Revelation 18:11 for the two participles κλαιοντες κα πενθουντες.

Verse 16

For the Woe see verses Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:19. For the next clause see Revelation 17:4 with the addition here of βυσσινον (Revelation 18:12).

For in one hour so great riches is made desolate (οτ μια ωρα ηρημωθη ο τοσουτος πλουτος). The reason (οτ) for the "woe." First aorist passive indicative of ερημοω, for which verb see Revelation 17:16; Revelation 18:19. This is the dirge of the merchants.

Verse 17

Shipmaster (κυβερνητης). Old word (from κυβερναω, to steer), helmsman, sailing-master, in N.T. only here and Acts 27:11. Subordinate to the ναυκληρος (supreme commander).

That saileth any whither (ο επ τοπον πλεων). "The one sailing to a place." See Acts 27:2, τους κατα την Ασιαν πλεοντας (those sailing down along Asia). Nestle suggests ποντον (sea) here for τοπον (place), but it makes sense as it is.

Mariners (ναυτα). Old word (from ναυς, ship), in N.T. only here and Acts 27:27; Acts 27:30.

Gain their living by the sea (την θαλασσαν εργαζοντα). "Work the sea." This idiom is as old as Hesiod for sailors, fishermen, etc. See verses Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:15.

Verse 18

As they looked (βλεποντες). Present active participle of βλεπω. See οταν βλεπωσιν in verse Revelation 18:10.

What city is like the great city? (τις ομοια τη πολε τη μεγαληι;). No πολις with τις, but implied. Associative instrumental case, as usual, with ομοια. "The eternal city" is eternal no longer.

Verse 19

They cast dust (εβαλον χουν). Second aorist active of βαλλω. Χους is old word (from χεω to pour) for heap of earth, dust, in N.T. only here and Mark 6:11. Cf. Ezekiel 27:30; Luke 10:13. This is the dirge of the sea-folk (cf. verses Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:16).

By reason of her costliness (εκ της τιμιοτητος αυτης). Occasionally in later literary Greek, though here only in N.T. and not in LXX. The same use of τιμη appears in 1 Peter 2:7. Common in the papyri as a title like "Your Honor" (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary).

Verse 20

Rejoice over her (Ευφραινου επ' αυτη). Present middle imperative of ευφραινω, for which verb see Revelation 11:10, used there of the joy of the wicked over the death of the two witnesses, just the opposite picture to this. "The song of doom" (Charles) here seems to be voiced by John himself.

God hath judged your judgment (εκρινεν ο θεος το κριμα). First aorist (prophetic) active of κρινω and cognate accusative κριμα, here a case for trial (Exodus 18:22; 1 Corinthians 6:7), not a sentence as in Revelation 17:1. God has approved the case of heaven.

Verse 21

A strong angel (εις αγγελος ισχυρος). Here εις = a, just an indefinite article, not "one" as a numeral.

Took up (ηρεν). First aorist active indicative of αιρω.

As it were a great millstone (ως μυλινον μεγαν). Late adjective, in inscriptions, here only in N.T., made of millstone (μυλος, Matthew 18:6; Revelation 18:22), while μυλικος (Luke 17:2) means belonging to a mill. This is not a small millstone turned by women (Matthew 24:41), but one requiring an ass to turn it (Mark 9:42), and so "a great" one.

Cast (εβαλεν). Second aorist active of βαλλω, to hurl.

With a mighty fall (ορμηματ). Instrumental case (manner) of ορμημα, a rush, old word from ορμαω, to rush (Matthew 8:32), here only in N.T.

Shall be cast down (βλεθησετα). Future (first) passive of βαλλω, the same verb (εβαλεν), effective punctiliar future. Like a boulder hurled into the sea.

Shall be found no more at all (ου μη ευρεθη ετ). Double negative with first aorist passive subjunctive of ευρισκω. See Revelation 9:6 for ου μη with the active voice of ευρισκω. Already the old Babylon was a desert waste (Strabo, XVI. 1073).

Verse 22

The voice (φωνη). Cf. Ezekiel 26:13. Or "sound" as in 1 Corinthians 14:8 with σαλπιγξ (trumpet). For this song of judgment see Jeremiah 25:10.

Of harpers (κιθαρωιδων). Old word (from κιθαρα, harp, and ωιδος, singer) as in Revelation 14:2.

Of minstrels (μουσικων). Old word (from μουσα, music), here only in N.T., one playing on musical instruments.

Of flute-players (αυλητων). Old word (from αυλεω, to play on a flute, Matthew 11:17, αυλος, flute, 1 Corinthians 14:7), in N.T. only here and Matthew 9:23.

Of trumpeters (σαλπιστων). Late form for the earlier σαλπιγκτης (from σαλπιζω), here only in N.T.

Shall be heard no more at all (ου μη ακουσθη). First aorist passive subjunctive of ακουω with the double negative as below, with φωνη μυλου (sound of the millstone), and as in verse Revelation 18:21 with ου με ευρεθη and again with πας τεχνιτης (craftsman). This old word is from τεχνη, art, as here in some MSS. ("of whatsoever craft," πασης τεχνης). Τεχνιτης occurs also in this sense in Acts 19:24; Acts 19:38; and in Hebrews 11:10 of God as the Architect. There is power in this four-fold sonorous repetition of ου μη and the subjunctive with two more examples in verse Revelation 18:23.

Verse 23

Of a lamp (λυχνου). Old word (Matthew 5:15), again in Revelation 22:5.

Shall shine no more at all (ου μη φανη). Fifth instance in these verses of ου μη with the aorist subjunctive, here the active of φαινω as in Revelation 8:12. It is not known whether Rome had street lights or not.

The voice of the bridegroom and of the bride (φωνη νυμφιου κα νυμφης). See John 3:29; Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 16:9. "Even the occasional flash of the torches carried by bridal processions (Matthew 25:1) is seen no more" (Swete). The sixth instance of ου μη, in verses Revelation 18:21-23, occurs with ακουσθη (third instance of ακουσθη, two in verse Revelation 18:22).

Were the princes of the earth (ησαν ο μεγιστανες της γης). For μεγισταν see Revelation 6:15; Mark 6:21. "Thy merchants were the grandees" once, but now these merchant princes are gone.

With thy sorcery (εν τη φαρμακια σου). Εν (instrumental use) and the locative case of φαρμακια, old word (from φαρμακευω, to prepare drugs, from φαρμακον, sorcery, Revelation 9:21), in N.T. only here and Galatians 5:20 for sorcery and magical arts. If one is puzzled over the connection between medicine and sorcery as illustrated by this word (our pharmacy), he has only to recall quackery today in medicine (patent medicines and cure-alls), witch-doctors, professional faith-healers, medicine-men in Africa. True medical science has had a hard fight to shake off chicanery and charlatanry.

Were deceived (επλανηθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of πλαναω. These charlatans always find plenty of victims. See Mark 12:24.

Verse 24

In her (εν αυτη). In Rome.

Was found (ευρεθη). First aorist passive indicative of ευρισκω. See Revelation 16:6; Revelation 17:6 for the blood already shed by Rome. Rome "butchered to make a Roman holiday" (Dill, Roman Society, p. 242) not merely gladiators, but prophets and saints from Nero's massacre A.D. 64 to Domitian and beyond.

Of all that have been slain (παντων των εσφαγμενων). Perfect passive articular participle genitive plural of σφαζω, the verb used of the Lamb slain (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 5:12; Revelation 13:8). Cf. Matthew 23:35 about Jerusalem.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 18". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/revelation-18.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.