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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Revelation 18

 

 

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Verse 1

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

And. So Vulgate, Andreas; but 'Aleph (') A B, Syriac, Coptic, omit "and."

Power - `authority.'

Lightened - `illumined.'

With - `owing to.'


Verse 2

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

Mightily ... strong. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic, read [ en (Greek #1722) ischura (Greek #2478) foonee (Greek #5456)], 'with (literally, IN) a mighty voice.'

Is fallen, is fallen. So A, Vulgate, Syriac, Andreas; but 'Aleph (') B, Coptic, omit the second "is fallen" (Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 51:8). This is prophetic of her fall, still future, as Revelation 18:4 proves.

Devils - `demons.' The hold - a prison.


Verse 3

For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

Drunk - Revelation 14:8; Revelation 14:10, from which "the wine" may be interpolated. They have drunk of her fornication: the consequence will be wrath to themselves. So Vulgate; but 'Aleph (') A B C, read [ peptookasin (Greek #4098) for pepookasin], '(owing to the wrath of her fornication all nations) have fallen.' The harder, so the more probable, reading. As the nations 'have fallen' through her, so she, in retribution, "is fallen" herself (Revelation 18:2). Before the beast slays the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1-19), then the beast is destroyed.

The wine. So 'Aleph (') B, Syriac, Coptic; but A C, Vulgate, omit.

Abundance - `power,' resources.

Delicacies , [ streenous (Greek #4764)]. Note, 1 Timothy 5:11, where the verb "wax wanton" is akin to the noun. 'Resources of' - i:e., subserving 'wanton luxury.' Reference is not to earthly, but spiritual wares, indulgencies, idolatries, superstitions, worldly compromises, wherewith the apostate church has made merchandise of men. This applies especially to Rome and the Greek apostasy; but even Protestant churches are not guiltless. The principle of Evangelical Protestantism is pure: the principle of Rome and the Greek churches is not so.


Verse 4

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Come out of her, my people. From Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:45. Even in Rome, God has a people; but they are in great danger: their safety is in coming out of her at once. So in every world-conforming church there are some of God's true Church, who must come out. Especially at the eve of God's judgment on apostate Christendom: as Lot was warned to come out of Sodom before its destruction, and Israel, to come from about Dathan's tents, So the first Christians came out of Jerusalem, when apostate Judah was judged. 'State and Church are precious gifts of God. But the State being desecrated to a different end from what God designed-namely, to govern for, and under, God-becomes beastlike; the Church apostatizing becomes the harlot. The woman is the kernel; beast and harlot are the shell: whenever the kernel is mature, the shell is thrown away' (Auberlen). 'The harlot is every church that has not Christ's mind. Christendom, divided into many sects, is Babylon - i:e., confusion. In all Christendom the true Jesus-congregation, the woman clothed with the sun, lives and is hidden. Corrupt, lifeless Christendom, is the harlot, whose aim is the pleasure of the flesh, governed by the spirit of nature and the world' (Hahn in Auberlen). The first justification of the woman is in her being called out of Babylon, the harlot, at the culmination of Babylon's sin, when judgment is to fall: for apostate Christendom is not to be converted, but destroyed. Secondly, she has to pass through an ordeal of persecution from the beast, which purifies her for the transfiguration-glory at Christ's coming (Luke 21:28; Luke 22:28-29; Revelation 20:4).

Be not partakers - `have no fellowship with her sins.'

That ye receive not of her plagues - as Lot's wife, by lingering too near the polluted city.


Verse 5

For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

Her sins - as a great heap.

Reached - `so far as to cleave unto' [ ekolleetheesan (Greek #2853), 'Aleph (') A B C, for eekoloutheesan (Greek #190)].


Verse 6

Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

Addressed to the executioners of God's wrath.

Reward - `repay.'

She rewarded. The English Version adds "you;" but 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, omit it. She had not rewarded the world-power for some injury which it inflicted on her, but had given it that which was its due-namely, spiritual delusions-because it did not like to retain God in its knowledge; her principle was [populus vult decipi, et decipiatur], 'the people like to be deceived, so let them be deceived.'

Double - of sorrow. Contrast the double of joy which Jerusalem shall receive for past suffering (Isaiah 61:7; Zechariah 9:12): even as she received double punishment for her sins (Isaiah 40:2).

Unto her. So Syriac, Coptic, Andreas; 'Aleph (') A B C omit. In the cup - (Revelation 18:3; Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:4.)

Filled - `mixed.'

Fill to her double - of the Lord's wrath.


Verse 7

How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

How much - i:e., in proportion as.

Lived deliciously - luxuriously (note, Revelation 18:3).

Sorrow , [ penthos (Greek #3997)] - 'mourning,' as for a dead husband.

I sit. So Vulgate; but 'Aleph (') A B C prefix 'that.'

I ... am no widow - for the world-power is my husband.

And shall see no sorrow - `mourning.' 'I am (long) seated ... I am no widow ... I shall see no sorrow,' marks her unconcerned security as to the past, present, and future (Bengel). I shall never have to mourn as one bereft of husband. Babylon was queen of the East; so Rome is queen of the West: called on imperial coins 'the eternal city.' Ammian Marcellin says (Revelation 15:7), 'Babylon is a former Rome, and (papal) Rome a latter Babylon. Rome is a daughter of Babylon: by her, as by her mother, God has subdued the world under one sway' (Augustine). As the Jews' restoration did not take place until Babylon's fall, so (R. Kimchi on Obadiah) 'when Rome (Edom) shall be devastated, there shall be redemption to Israel.' Romish idolatries are stumblingblocks to the Jews' acceptance of Christianity.


Verse 8

Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

Death - on herself, formerly (Revelation 18:7) secure even from the death of her husband.

Mourning - instead of her feasting Mourning - instead of her feasting.

Famine - instead of her luxurious delicacies (Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:7).

Fire - (note, Revelation 17:16.) Literal fire may burn literal Rome, which is in the midst of volcanic agencies. As the ground was cursed for Adam's sin, and under Noah was sunk beneath the flood, and Sodom was burned with fire, so may Rome be. But as the harlot is mystical (the whole faithless Church), the burning is mainly mystical: utter destruction and removal. Rome will rise to power just before her fall. The carnal, faithless, worldly elements in all churches-Roman, Greek, and Protestant-tend toward one center, preparing for the last form of the beast, Antichrist. The Pharisees were mostly sound in creed, yet judgment fell on them as on the unsound Sadducees and half-pagan Samaritans. So faithless and adulterous Protestant churches will not escape for soundness of creed.

The Lord. So 'Aleph (') B C, Syriac, Andreas; but A, Vulgate, omit. 'Strong;' as God's name [ 'Eel (Hebrew #410)] means.

Judgeth. But 'Aleph (') A B C read, past [ krinas (Greek #2919)], 'who judged her:' prophetic past for future. The charge in Revelation 18:4, to come out of her, implies the judgment was not yet executed.


Verse 9

And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

Lived deliciously - luxuriated. The faithless church, instead of reproving, connived at the world's self-indulgent luxury, and sanctioned it by her practice. Contrast the world's rejoicing over the two witnesses' dead bodies (Revelation 11:10) who had tormented it by faithfulness, with its lamentations over the harlot who made the way to heaven smooth, and was a useful tool in controlling subjects. Men's carnal mind relishes the apostate church, which gives an opiate to conscience and virtual license to lusts.

Bewail her. 'Aleph (') A B C, Syriac, Coptic, Cyprian, omit "her."


Verse 10

Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

God's judgments inspire fear in the worldly, but of short duration; for kings and great men soon join the beast, in its last, worst shape, as open Antichrist, claiming all the harlot claimed in blasphemous pretensions, and more: so making up to them for the loss of the harlot. Mighty. Rome, in Greek, means strength.


Verse 11

And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

Shall. So B but 'Aleph (') A C read, present 'weep and mourn.'

Merchandise - `cargo' in ships: ship-lading (cf. Revelation 18:17). Rome was not commercial, and is not likely, from her position, to be so. The merchandise must be spiritual, as the harlot is not literal. She did not witness against carnal luxury and pleasure-seeking-the source of merchants' gains-but conformed to them ( Revelation 18:7). She cared not for the sheep, but for the wool. Professing Christian merchants lived as if this world were the reality, not heaven, unscrupulous as to the means of gain. Compare Zechariah 5:4-11 (notes), the judgment on mystical Babylon's merchants for unjust gain. All the merchandise here occurs repeatedly in the 'Roman Ceremonial.'


Verse 12

The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

Note Revelation 17:4.

Stones - Greek, 'stone ... pearl.'

Fine linen. A B C read [ bussinou (Greek #1039) for bussow], 'fine linen manufacture' ['Aleph ('), plural, bussinoon (Greek #1039)]: the manufacture for which Egypt (type of the apostate church, Revelation 11:8) was famed. Contrast 'the fine linen' (Ezekiel 16:10) put on Israel, and on the New Testament Church (Revelation 19:8), the Bride, by God (Psalms 132:9).

Thyine wood - the citrus of the Romans; found in Mauretania: probably the Callitris quadrivalvis, or thuia articulata. Pliny says there was a mania for tables of this wood. When Roman ladies were upbraided by their husbands for extravagance in pearls, they retorted the men's fondness for thyine tables.

All manner vessels - `every vessel;' 'furniture.'


Verse 13

And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

Cinnamon - designed by God for better purposes: an ingredient in the holy anointing oil: a plant in the garden of the Beloved (Song of Solomon 4:14); but desecrated to vile uses by the adulteress (Proverbs 7:17).

Odours - of incense. 'Aleph (') A C, Vulgate, Syriac, prefix, 'and amomum' (a precious hair ointment from an Asiatic shrub).

Ointments - `ointment.'

Frankincense. Contrast the "incense" which God loves (Psalms 141:2; Malachi 1:11).

Fine flour , [ semidalin (Greek #4585)] - the similago of the Latins (Alford).

Beasts - of burden.

Slave - `bodies.'

Souls of men - (Ezekiel 27:13.) Said of slaves. Appropriate to the harlot, apostate Christendom, especially Rome, which so often enslaved both bodies and souls. Though Christianity does not directly forbid slavery, which might then have incited a slave-revolt, it virtually condemns it. Popery derived its greatest gains from masses for the souls of men after death, and from indulgences purchased from the papal chancery by rich merchants in various countries, to be retailed at a profit (Mosheim, 3:, 95, 96).


Verse 14

And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

Direct address to Babylon.

The fruits that thy soul lusted after - `thy autumn-ripe fruit of the eager desire of the soul.'

Dainty - `fat;' 'sumptuous' in food.

Goodly -`splendid' in dress and equipage Goodly - `splendid' in dress and equipage.

Departed. But 'Aleph (') A B C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, read, 'perished.'

Thou shalt. 'Aleph (') A C, Vulgate, Syriac, read, 'they (men) shall no more find them at all.'


Verse 15

The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

Of these things - of the things mentioned, Revelation 18:12-13.

Which - `who.'

Made rich by - `derived riches from her.'

Stand afar off for the fear - (cf. Revelation 18:10.)

Wailing - `mourning.' The reaction in Reformed Churches toward the Romish and Greek apostasies is a fulfillment of this.


Verse 16

And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

And. So Vulgate, Andreas; but 'Aleph (') A B C omit.

Decked - `gilded.'

Stones ... pearls - `stone ... pearl.' B, Andreas, read "pearls;' but A 'Aleph (') C, 'pearl.'


Verse 17

For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

Is come to nought - `is desolated.'

Shipmaster - `pilot.'

All the company in ships. 'Aleph (') A C, Vulgate, Syriac, read, 'every one who saileth to a place' (B has ' ... to the place'): every voyager. Vessels were freighted with pilgrims to various shrines, so that in one month (1300 AD) 200,000 pilgrims were counted in Rome (D' Aubigne, 'Reformation'): a gain, not only to the papal see, but to shipmasters, merchants, etc. These are not restricted to literal 'shipmasters,' etc., but mainly refer to all who share in the spiritual traffic of apostate Christendom.


Verse 18

And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

When they saw - [ horoutees (Greek #3708); but 'Aleph (') A B C, Andreas, blepontes (Greek #991), 'looking at;' blepoo (Greek #991) is to use the eyes, to look: the act of seeing, without thought of the object seen: horaoo (Greek #3708) refers to the thing seen or presented to the eye (Tittmann)].

Smoke. So B C but A, Vulgate, 'place.'

What city is like? Compare the similar boast as to the beast, Revelation 13:4 : so closely do the harlot and beast approximate. Contrast its attribution to God, to whom alone it is due, by His servants (Exodus 15:11). Martial says of Rome, 'Nothing is equal to her;' Athenaeus, 'She is the world's epitome.'


Verse 19

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

Wailing - `mourning.'

That had ships. A B 'Aleph (') C read, 'that had their ships; literally, 'the ships.'

Costliness - costly treasures: abstract for concrete. Costliness - costly treasures: abstract for concrete.


Verse 20

Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

Holy apostles. So C but 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Andreas, 'ye saints and ye apostles.'

Avenged you on her - `judged your judgment on (exacting it from) her.' 'Heaven more rejoices at the harlot's downfall than at that of the two beasts. For the most heinous of sins is that of those who know God's word of grace and keep it not. The worldliness of the Church is the most worldly of all worldliness. Hence, Babylon has not only Israel's sins, but also those of the pagans. John dwells longer on the abominations and judgments of the harlot than of the beast. "Harlot" describes the false church's essential character. She retains human shape, as woman-does not become a beast-has the form of godliness, but denies its power. Her rightful Husband, Yahweh-Christ, and the goods of His house, are no longer her all, but she runs after the visible and vain things of the world. The fullest form of whoredom is where the Church wishes to be a worldly power, makes flesh her arm, uses unholy means for holy ends, spreads her dominion by sword or money, fascinates men by sensuous ritualism, becomes "mistress of ceremonies" to the dignitaries of the world, flatters prince or people, and, like Israel, seeks help of one world-power against danger threatening from another' (Auberlen). Judgment, therefore, begins with the harlot, as in privileges the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).


Verse 21

And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

A - `one.'

Millstone. Compare the judgment on Egypt at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:5; Exodus 15:10; Nehemiah 9:11), and the doom of Babylon, the world-power (Jeremiah 51:63-64).

With violence - `with impetus.' This prophecy is regarded as still to be fulfilled.


Verse 22

And the voice of harpers and musicians and of pipers and trumpeters shall be heard no more at all in And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

Pipers - flute-players. "Musicians," painters, sculptors: desecrated art to lend fascination to the sensuous worship of corrupt Christendom.

Craftsman - artisan.


Verse 23

And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

A blessed contrast is Revelation 22:5, "They need no candle (Babylon shall no more have even the light of candle);

... for the Lord God giveth them light."

Candle - `lamp.'

Bridegroom ... bride ... no more ... in thee. Contrast the heavenly city, with Bridegroom, Bride and marriage supper (Isaiah 62:4-5; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9).

Thy merchants were. So 'Aleph (') B C but A omits the Greek article before "merchants:" 'the great men of, etc., were thy merchants.'

Sorceries - `sorcery.'


Verse 24

And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Applied by Christ (Matthew 23:35) to apostate Jerusalem, which proves that not merely literal Rome, and the Romish Church (though the chief representative), but the WHOLE faithless church of both Old and New Testament is Babylon the harlot; just as the whole Church is 'the woman' (Revelation 12:1). Aringhus in Bengel says, Pagan Rome was the general shambles for slaying Jesus' sheep. Frederick Seyler calculates that papal Rome, between 1540 and 1580 A.D., killed more than 900,000 Protestants. Three reasons for the harlot's downfall are given:

(1) The worldly greatness of her merchants, due to traffic in spiritual things. (1) The worldly greatness of her merchants, due to traffic in spiritual things.

(2) Her sorceries, or juggling tricks, in which the false prophet, ministering to the beast in its last form, shall exceed her. Compare "sorcerers" (Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15), specially doomed to the lake of fire.

(3) Her persecution of (Old Testament) "prophets" and (New Testament) "saint."

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 18:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-18.html. 1871-8.

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