Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Revelation 18

Verse 1

Was lightened

Compare Ezekiel 43:2.

Verse 2

Mightily with a strong voice ( ἐν ἰσχύΐ́ φωνῇ μεγὰλῃ )

Lit., in strength with a great voice. Omit μεγάλῃ greatand read ἰσχυρᾷ φωνῇ witha mighty voice. So Rev.

Babylon - is fallen

The Rev. improves on the A.V. by placing fallen in the emphatic position of the Greek: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon.” Compare Isaiah 21:9.

Is become ( ἐγένετο )

Lit., became.

Devils ( δαιμόνων )

Properly, demons, which Rev., strangely commits to the margin. See on Mark 1:34. See Isaiah 13:20-22; Isaiah 34:13-15. Also on Luke 11:24.

Hold ( φυλακὴ )

See on 1 Peter 3:19, and see on Acts 5:21. Rev., in margin, prison.

Cage ( φυλακὴ )

The word rendered above hold. Rev., hold. Some, however, explain it, not as a cage where they are kept, but as a place of safety to which they resort.

Bird ( ὀρνέου )

Only in Revelation, here, Revelation 19:17, Revelation 19:21. Compare Jeremiah 50:39.

Verse 3

Have drunk ( πέπωκεν or πέπωκαν )

Some, however, read πέπτωκαν havefallen. So Rev.

Of the wine ( ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου )

Thus if we read have drunk. If we adopt have fallen, ἐκ is instrumental, by. So Rev.

Of the wrath

The wine of fornication has turned to wrath against herself.

Merchants ( ἔμποροι )

The word originally means one on a journey by sea or land, especially for traffic. Hence a merchant as distinguished from κάπηλος a retailer or huckster.

The abundance of her delicacies ( τῆς δυνάμεως τοῦ στρήνους αὐτῆς )

Lit., as Rev., the power of her luxury. Στρῆνος is akin to στερεός firmhard, stubborn (see on steadfast, 1 Peter 5:9). Hence over-strength, luxury, wantonness. Only here in the New Testament. The kindred verb στρηνιάω tolive deliciously occurs Revelation 18:7, Revelation 18:9.

Verse 4

Come out of her

Compare Jeremiah 51:6, Jeremiah 51:45; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11; Numbers 16:26.

Have fellowship with ( συγκοινωνήσητε )

This compound verb is not of frequent occurrence in the New Testament. It is found only in Ephesians 5:11, Philippians 4:14, and here. On the kindred noun συγκοινωνὸς companionsee on Revelation 1:9.

Verse 5

Have reached ( ἠκολούθησαν )

Lit., followed. But the best texts read ἐκολλήθησαν claveCompare Jeremiah 51:9. For different applications of the verb see on Matthew 19:5; see on Luke 15:15; see on Acts 5:13. Compare the classical phrase for following up closely a fleeing foe, hoerere in terga hostium, to cleave to the backs of the enemy. See also Zechariah 14:5(Sept.), “The valley of the mountains shall reach ( ἐγκολληθήσεται ) unto Azal.” The radical idea of the metaphor is that of following or reaching after so as to be joined to.

Verse 6

Double ( διπλώσατε )

Only here in the New Testament. Compare Isaiah 40:2; Jeremiah 16:18; Zechariah 9:12. The Levitical law insisted on the double recompense. See Exodus 22:4, Exodus 22:7, Exodus 22:9.

Verse 7

Lived deliciously ( ἐστρηνίασεν )

See on Revelation 18:3.

Torment ( βασανισμὸν )

Only in Revelation. On the kindred word, βάσανος tormentsee on Matthew 4:23, Matthew 4:24.

I sit a queen and am no widow

See Isaiah 47:8; Zephaniah 2:15.

Verse 8

Therefore shall her plagues come, etc.

See Isaiah 47:8, Isaiah 47:9.

Who judgeth ( ὁ κρίνων )

Read κρίνας judgedi0.

Verse 11

Merchandise ( γόμον )

Only here, Revelation 18:12, and Acts 21:3. From γέμω tobe full. Hence, literally, lading or cargo. So Rev., in margin.

The main features of the following description are taken from that of the destruction of Tyre, Ezekiel 26,27.

Verse 12

Fine Linen ( βύσσου )

See on Luke 16:19.

Purple ( πορφύρας )

See on Luke 16:19.

Silk ( σηρικοῦ )

Properly an adjective, meaning pertaining to the Seres. From Σῆρες Seresa people of India, perhaps of modern China.

Before the time of Justinian, when silkworms were first brought to Constantinople, it was thought that the Seres gathered or combed the downy substance woven by the worms from the leaves of certain trees. Hence Virgil speaks of the Seres, how they comb (depectant ) the fine fleeces from the leaves (“Georgics,” ii., 121).

Silk was a costly article of luxury among the Romans, so that Tacitus relates that in the reign of Tiberius a law was passed against “men disgracing themselves with silken garments” (“Annals,” ii., 33). “Two hundred years after the age of Pliny,” says Gibbon, “the use of pure or even of mixed silks was confined to the female sex, till the opulent citizens of Rome and the provinces were insensibly familiarized with the example of Elagabalos, the first who, by this effeminate habit, had sullied the dignity of an emperor and a man. Aorelian complained that a pound of silk was sold at Rome for twelve ounces of gold” (“Decline and Fall,” ch. xl.).

At the time of Justinian the Persians held a monopoly of this trade. Two missionary monks residing in China imparted to Justinian the project of introducing the eggs of the silkworm into Europe, and returning to China concealed the eggs in a hollow cane and so transported them.


See on Matthew 27:6.

Thyine wood ( ξύλον θύΐ́νον )

Only here in the New Testament. From θυία or θύα thecitrus, a North-African tree, a native of Barbary, used as incense and for inlaying. Pliny speaks of a mania among the Romans for tables made of this wood. The most expensive of these were called orbes, circles, because they were massive plates of wood cut from the stem in its whole diameter. Pliny mentions plates four feet in diameter, and nearly six inches thick. The most costly were those taken from near the root, both because the tree was broadest there, and because the wood was dappled and speckled. Hence they were described by different epithets according as the markings resembled those of the tiger, the panther, or the peacock.

Vessel ( σκεῦος )

See on 1 Peter 3:7, and see on Acts 9:15. Also see on goods, Matthew 12:29; see on Mark 3:27; and see on strake sail, Acts 27:17.

Of ivory ( ἐλεφάντινον )

Only here in the New Testament. References to ivory are frequent in the Old Testament. The navy of Tarshish brought ivory to Solomon with apes and peacocks (1 Kings 10:22). His great throne was made of it (1 Kings 10:18). Ahab's ivory palace (1 Kings 22:39) was probably a house with ivory panels. “Ivory palaces” are mentioned in Psalm 45:8, and “houses of ivory” in Amos 3:15. The Assyrians carried on a great trade in this article. On the obelisk in the British Museum the captives or tribute-bearers are represented as carrying tusks. The Egyptians early made use of it in decoration, bringing it mostly from Ethiopia, where, according to Pliny, ivory was so plentiful that the natives made of it door-posts and fences, and stalls for their cattle. In the early ages of Greece ivory was frequently employed for ornamental purposes, for the trappings of horses, the handles of kegs, and the bosses of shields. Homer represents an Asiatic woman staining ivory with purple to form trappings for horses, and describes the reins of chariot-horses as adorned with ivory. The statue of Jupiter by Phidias was of ivory and gold. In the “Odyssey” of Homer, Telemachus thus addresses his companion, the son of Nestor as they contemplate the splendor of Menelaus' palace:

“See, son of Nestor, my beloved friend,

In all these echoing rooms the sheen of brass,

Of gold, of amber and of ivory;

Such is the palace of Olympian Jove.”

Odyssey,” iv., 71-74.

Marble ( μαρμάρου )

From μαρμαίρω tosparkle or glisten.

Verse 13

Cinnamon ( κινάμωμον )

Mentioned as one of the ingredients of the holy oil for anointing (Exodus 30:23), and as a perfume for the bed (Proverbs 7:17).

And spice ( καὶ ἄμωμον )

These words are added by the best texts. A fragrant Indian plant, with seed in grape-like clusters, from which ointment was made. Preparations for the hair were made from it. Virgil, describing the coming golden age, says: “The Assyrian amomum shall spring up as a common plant” (“Eclogue” iv., 25; Compare “Eclogue” iii., 89). Forbiger (Virgil) says that the best was raised in Armenia, a poorer quality in Media and Pontus.

Fine flour ( σεμίδαλιν )

Only here in the New Testament.

Cattle ( κτήνη )

See on Luke 10:34.

Merchandise of horses

Merchandise is not in the text. It resumes the construction of γόμον merchandisewith the genitive in Revelation 18:12.

Chariots ( ῥεδῶν )

A Latin word though of Gallic origin, rheda. It had four wheels.

Verse 14

The fruits ( ἡ ὀπώρα )

Originally, the late summer or early autumn; then, generally, used of the ripe fruits of trees. Only here in the New Testament. Compare the compound φθινοπωρινὰ autumn(trees). See on whose fruit withereth, Judges 1:12, and compare Summer-fruits, Jeremiah 40:10.

That thy soul lusted after ( τῆς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ψυχῆς σοῦ )

Lit., of the desire of thy soul.

Dainty ( λιπαρὰ )

From λίπος greaseHence, literally, fat. Only here in the New Testament. Homer uses it once in the sense of oily or shiny with oil, as the skin anointed after a bath. “Their heads and their fair faces shining” (“Odyssey,” xv., 332). So Aristophanes (“Plutus,” 616), and of oily, unctuous dishes (“Frogs,” 163). Of the oily smoothness of a calm sea, as by Theocritus. The phrase λιπαροὶ πόδες shiningfeet, i.e., smooth, without wrinkle, is frequent in Homer. Thus, of Agamemnon rising from his bed. “Beneath his shining feet he bound the fair sandals” (“Iliad,” ii., 44). Also of the condition of life; rich, comfortable: so Homer, of a prosperous old age, “Odyssey,” xi., 136. Of things, bright, fresh. Of soil, fruitful. The city of Athens was called λιπαραὶ , a favorite epithet. Aristophanes plays upon the two senses bright and greasy, saying that if any one flatteringly calls Athens bright, he attaches to it the honor of sardines - oiliness (“Acharnians,” 638,9).

Goodly ( λαμπρὰ )

A too indefinite rendering. Better, Rev., sumptuous. See on Luke 23:11; see on James 2:2. Mostly in the New Testament of clothing. See on Revelation 15:6.

Verse 16

Decked ( κεχρυσωμένη )

See on Revelation 17:4.

Verse 17

Shipmaster ( κυβερνήτης )

From κυβερνάω togovern. Strictly, steersman. Only here and Acts 27:11.

All the company in ships ( πᾶς ἐπὶ τῶν πλοίων ὁ ὅμιλος )

The best texts substitute ὁ ἐπὶ τόπον πλέων , that saileth anywhere, lit., saileth to a place. So Rev.

Trade by sea ( τὴν θάλασσαν ἐργάζονται )

Lit., work the sea, like the Latin mare exercent, live by seafaring. Rev., gain their living by sea.

Verse 19

Cast dust on their heads

Compare Ezekiel 27:30. See on Luke 10:13.

Verse 20

Hath avenged you on her ( ἔκρινεν τὸ κρίμα ὑμῶν ἐξ αὐτῆς )

Rev., more literally, hath judged your judgment on her or from her. The idea is that of exacting judgment from ( ἐξ ). Compare the compound verb ἐκδικεῖς avengeor exact vengeance from (Revelation 6:10). The meaning is either, that judgment which is your due, or what she hath judged concerning you.

Verse 21

A mighty angel ( εἷς ἄγγελος ἰσχυρὸς )

Lit., “one strong angel.”

A great millstone

See on Matthew 18:6.

With violence ( ὁρμήματι )

Lit. with an impulse or rush. Only here in the New Testament.

Verse 22


See on Revelation 14:2.

Musicians ( μουσικῶν )

Only here in the New Testament. There seems to be no special reason for changing the rendering to minstrels, as Rev. The term music had a much wider signification among the Greeks than that which we attach to it. “The primitive education at Athens consisted of two branches: gymnastics for the body, music for the mind. Music comprehended from the beginning everything appertaining to the province of the nine Muses; not merely learning the use of the lyre or how to bear part in a chorus, but also the hearing, learning, and repeating of poetical compositions, as well as the practice of exact and elegant pronunciation - which latter accomplishment, in a language like the Greek, with long words, measured syllables, and great diversity of accentuation between one word and another, must have been far more difficult to acquire than it is in any modern European language. As the range of ideas enlarged, so the words music and musical teachers acquired an expanded meanings so as to comprehend matter of instruction at once ampler and more diversified. During the middle of the fifth century b.c. at Athens, there came thus to be found among the musical teachers men of the most distinguished abilities and eminence, masters of all the learning and accomplishments of the age, teaching what was known of Astronomy, Geography, and Physics, and capable of holding dialectical discussions with their pupils upon all the various problems then afloat among intellectual men” (Grote, “History of Greece,” vi., ch. lxvii.).

Pipers ( αὐλητῶν )

Rev., flute-players. Only here and Matthew 9:23. The female flute-players, usually dissolute characters, were indispensable attendants at the Greek banquets. Plato makes Eryximachus in “the Symposium,” say: “I move that the flute-girl who has just made her appearance, be told to go away and play to herself, or, if she likes, to the women who are within. Today let us have conversation instead” (“Symposium,” 176). Again, Socrates says: “The talk about the poets seems to me like a commonplace entertainment to which a vulgar company have recourse; who, because they are not able to converse and amuse one another, while they are drinking, with the sound of their own voices and conversation, by reason of their stupidity, raise the price of flute-girls in the market, hiring for a great sum the voice of a flute instead of their own breath, to be the medium of intercourse among them” (“Protagoras,” 347). Compare Isaiah 24:8; Ezekiel 26:13.


Compare Jeremiah 25:10; Matthew 24:41.

Verse 23

Bridegroom - bride

Compare Jeremiah 25:10.

Great men ( μεγιστᾶνες )

Rev., princes. See on Revelation 6:15.

By thy sorceries ( ἐν τῇ φαρμακείᾳ σου )

See on Revelation 9:21. Rev., more literally, with thy sorcery.

Were deceived ( ἐπλανήθησαν )

Or led astray. See on Mark 12:24.

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.