Revelation 17-18

Sunday Evening Bible Study

June 24, 2001


Historical background –

Babylon has been both a religious entity and a political entity.

The original Babylon was built after the Noah’s flood by Nimrod (Gen. 10:9-10). He seems to have established the world’s first “kingdom”. Under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon became one of the world’s greatest empires. But even more than that, Nimrod and his wife Semiramis and their son Tammuz became the beginnings of the world’s first false religion, mystery religions that persist even today.
In Revelation 17, we’ll see the judgment and destruction of the “religious” part of Babylon, but in Revelation 18 we have the judgment and destruction of “political” Babylon.

When Joshua stood before the Israelites and challenged the people –

(Josh 24:14-15 KJV)  Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. {15} And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

When the Jews were taken captive to Babylon for seventy years, they picked up on the Babylonian commerce system, and the Jews became to grow stronger in trading than just in farming.

Revelation 17

:1-6  Babylon the prostitute

:1  And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:

one of the seven angels – these were the guys back in chapter 16 that poured out the bowls filled with the wrath of God.

whoreporne – a woman who sells her body for sexual uses; a prostitute, a harlot, one who yields herself to defilement for the sake of gain; any woman indulging in unlawful sexual intercourse, whether for gain or for lust; metaph. an idolatress; of "Babylon" i.e. Rome, the chief seat of idolatry

Note:  You’re going to see words like “whore”, “harlot”, and “fornication” six times throughout this chapter, and they’re all forms of the same word (porneia, porne, pornos, porneuo)

In the Bible, God and His people are often characterized as a man and His wife.

When the people go astray, it’s often described as adultery, immorality, or even whoredom. (2Ki. 9:22; Jer. 3:6-8)
This phenomena, referred to as Mystery Babylon, will be something that will be enticing God’s people away from Him, and even making a living from it.

many waters

We’re going to be told what this means in –

(Rev 17:15 KJV)  And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
It may be that the “waters” refers to oceans or seas, and hence, this “whore” will be a large, possibly world-wide phenomena.
Back in Rev. 13:1, the “beast” rose up out of “the sea”, and we suggested that this might mean the Mediterranean Sea, that the antichrist would come out of an area bordered by the Mediterranean.  In Rev. 13:11, the false prophet comes up from “the earth”, and some have suggested that this means Israel, the place of “the land”.  If we follow these ideas, then perhaps this “whore” covers an area of many oceans, perhaps spanning part of the globe.

:2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

have committed fornicationporneuo – to prostitute one’s body to the lust of another; to give one’s self to unlawful sexual intercourse; to commit fornication; metaph. to be given to idolatry, to worship idols; to permit one’s self to be drawn away by another into idolatry

made drunkmethuo – to be drunken; metaph. of one who has shed blood or murdered profusely

her fornicationporneia – illicit sexual intercourse; metaph. the worship of idols; of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

Apparently it’s not uncommon for a prostitute to employ the use of alcohol or drugs in her profession.

Mystery Babylon will have something that puts people into a stupor and draws them into it’s power.

Perhaps it’s related to what the woman herself is drunk with:
(Rev 17:6 KJV)  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

I believe that there is some sort of tie between this “whore” and the Roman Catholic Church.  For example, compare what we’ve just read with history –

This is from Halley’s Bible Handbook (pg.776) –

Innocent III (1198—1216). Most Powerful of all the Popes. Claimed to be “Vicar of Christ,” “Vicar of God,” “Supreme Sovereign over the Church and the World.” Claimed the right to Depose Kings and Princes; and that “All things on earth and in heaven and in hell are subject to the Vicar of Christ.”
He brought the Church into Supreme Control of the State. The Kings of Germany, France, England, and practically all the Monarchs of Europe obeyed his will. He even brought the Byzantine Empire under his control. Never in history has any one man exerted more power.
He ordered Two Crusades. Decreed Transubstantiation. Confirmed Auricular Confession. Declared that Peter’s successor “can never in any way depart from the Catholic faith,” Papal Infallibility. Con­demned the Magna Charta. Forbade the Reading of the Bible in ver­nacular. Ordered the Extermination of Heretics. Instituted the Inqui­sition. Ordered the Massacre of the Albigenses. More Blood was shed under his direction, and that of his immediate successors, than in any other period of Church History, except in the Papacy’s effort to Crush the Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries. One would think Nero, the Beast, had come to life in Name of the Lamb.

:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

the wildernesseremos – solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited; a desert, wilderness

This word is used to describe the desert area around the Dead Sea and the land of Jordan where the nation of Israel will flee for safety during the Tribulation (Rev. 12:6).

But here, I think it’s being used to describe the “wilderness” that once was the land or city of “Babylon”, after it has been judged and destroyed.

A form of this word is used in –

(Rev 18:17 KJV)  For in one hour so great riches is come to nought (eremoo). And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
When the judgment comes on Babylon, it is “made a wilderness” (eremoo).

beasttherion – an animal; a wild animal, wild beast, beast; metaph. a brutal, bestial man, savage, ferocious; This is the same word used to describe the antichrist and the false prophet, not the word used to describe the cherubim (zoon).

scarletkokkinos – crimson, scarlet coloured. A kernel, the grain or berry of the "ilex coccifera"; these berries are the clusters of the eggs of a female insect, the "kermes" (resembling the cochineal), and when collected and pulverised produces a red which was used in dyeing (Pliny); scarlet cloth or clothing

We’ve already seen this “beast”:

(Rev 13:1-2 KJV)  And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. {2} And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

This “beast” is the Antichrist and his kingdom.

The picture of the woman sitting on the beast could be taken in two ways:

It could mean that she’s controlling the beast, as a rider controls a horse.

It’s more likely that she’s just being supported by the beast –

Re 17:7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

:4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

arrayedperiballo – to throw around, to put around; of garments, to clothe one

purpleporphura – the purple fish, a species of shell fish or mussel; a fabric coloured with purple dye, a garment made from purple cloth

purple and scarlet – It has been pointed out that purple was the color for the leaders of the Roman Empire, while red is a favorite color of the Roman Catholic Church. Red and purple are colors of royalty and wealth.

deckedchrusoo – to adorn with gold, to gild; of a woman ornamented with gold so profusely that she seems to be gilded

pearlsmargarites – a pearl

This whole picture is one of great wealth. This woman, Babylon, isn’t a poor lady. She’s apparently made a lot of money in her business.

abominationsbdelugma – a foul thing, a detestable thing; of idols and things pertaining to idolatry

filthinessakathartes – impurity, filthiness


foreheadmetopon – the space between the eyes, the forehead

You get the idea that lots of things are written on the foreheads of the people in Revelation.  The 144,000 have the name of God on their foreheads (7:3; 14:1).  Those that follow the antichrist have his “mark” on their foreheads (13:16).  In heaven, we will all have the name of the Father on our foreheads (22:4).

Keep in mind, commas were not used in the original Greek, but are inserted by the translators.

This name written on the gal’s forehead could be written this way as well –

“Mystery Babylon, The Great Mother of harlots and of abominations of the earth”, or, “Mystery Babylon the Great, Mother of harlots and of abominations of the earth”.

mysterymusterion – hidden thing, secret, mystery; generally mysteries, religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals; a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding; a hidden purpose or counsel; in rabbinic writings, it denotes the mystic or hidden sense

I think this could either mean that this woman is going to either be a mystery, in that we won’t know what it is until the end, or, this woman is the “hidden” meaning of the name “Babylon”.

harlotsporne – a woman who sells her body for sexual uses; metaph. an idolatress; of "Babylon" i.e. Rome, the chief seat of idolatry

abominationsbdelugma – a foul thing, a detestable thing; of idols and things pertaining to idolatry

Babylon Babulon – confusion"; a very large and famous city, the residence of the Babylonian kings, situated on both banks of the Euphrates

I believe that we’re going to see two aspects of this “Babylon” in chapters 17 & 18.

They are not two separate “Babylons”, but they are different viewpoints of the same world-influencing power in the last days.  There is a religious aspect to this Babylon, which we’ll see here in chapter 17, but there is also a commercial and political aspect to this Babylon as we’ll see in chapter 18.

From The Bible Knowledge Commentary:

Nimrod, who founded Babylon (Gen. 10:8-12), had a wife known as Semiramis who founded the secret religious rites of the Babylonian mysteries, according to accounts outside the Bible. Semiramis had a son with an alleged miraculous conception who was given the name Tammuz and in effect was a false fulfillment of the promise of the seed of the woman given to Eve (Gen. 3:15).
Various religious practices were observed in connection with this false Babylonian religion, including recognition of the mother and child as God and of creating an order of virgins who became religious prostitutes. Tammuz, according to the tradition, was killed by a wild animal and then restored to life, a satanic anticipation and counterfeit of Christ’s resurrection. Scripture condemns this false religion repeatedly (Jer. 7:18; 44:17-19, 25; Ezek. 8:14). The worship of Baal is related to the worship of Tammuz.
After the Persians took over Babylon in 539 b.c., they discouraged the continuation of the mystery religions of Babylon. Subsequently the Babylonian cultists moved to Pergamum (or Pergamos) where one of the seven churches of Asia Minor was located (cf. Rev. 2:12-17). Crowns in the shape of a fish head were worn by the chief priests of the Babylonian cult to honor the fish god. The crowns bore the words “Keeper of the Bridge,” symbolic of the “bridge” between man and Satan. This handle was adopted by the Roman emperors, who used the Latin title Pontifex Maximus, which means “Major Keeper of the Bridge.” And the same title was later used by the bishop of Rome. The pope today is often called the pontiff, which comes from pontifex. When the teachers of the Babylonian mystery religions later moved from Pergamum to Rome, they were influential in paganizing Christianity and were the source of many so-called religious rites which have crept into ritualistic churches. Babylon then is the symbol of apostasy and blasphemous substitution of idol-worship for the worship of God in Christ. In this passage Babylon comes to its final judgment.

More from Halley’s Bible Handbook (pg.774) –

“Rule of the Harlots”

Sergius III (A.D. 904—911). Said to have had a mistress, Marozia. She, her mother Theodora, and her sister, “filled the Papal chair with their paramours and bastard sons, and turned the Papal Palace into a den of robbers.” Called in history The Rule of the Harlots (904—963).
Anastasius III (911—913). Lando (913—914). John X (914-928), “was brought from Ravenna to Rome and made Pope by Theodora for the more convenient gratification of her passion.” He was smothered to death by Marozia, who, then, in succession, raised to the Papacy Leo VI (928—929), and Stephen VII (929—931), and John XI (931—936), her own illegitimate son. Another of her sons appointed the four follow­ing Popes, Leo VII (936—939), Stephen VIII (939—942), Martin III (942—946), and Agapetus II (946-955). John XII (955—963), a grand­son of Marozia, was “guilty of almost every crime; violated virgins and widows, high and low; lived with his father’s mistress; made the Papal Palace a brothel; was killed while in the act of adultery by the woman’s enraged husband.”

:6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

I wonderedthaumazo – to wonder, wonder at, marvel; to be wondered at, to be had in admiration

admirationthauma – a wonderful thing, a marvel; wonder; to wonder [with great wonder i.e.] exceedingly

Chuck Missler has suggested that John’s wondering is because this is supposed to be a church, yet it’s become a whore.

drunken with the blood of the saints

The concept here is that the woman got her kicks, or her “highs” off of the deaths of God’s people.

The Catholic Church has had quite a bloody history, you only have to study the “inquisitions”.  Some have suggested that the Catholic Church has been responsible for the death of more believers than any other organization in history.

Canon Llorente, who was the Secretary to the Inquisition in Madrid from 1790-92 and had access to the archives of all the tribunals, estimated that in Spain alone the number of condemned exceeded 3 million, with about 300,000 burned at the stake.
A Catholic historian writes,
When Napoleon conquered Spain in 1808, a Polish officer in his army, Colonel Lemanouski, reported that the Dominicans blockaded themselves in their monastery in Madrid. When Lemanouski's troops forced an entry, the inquisitors denied the existence of any torture chambers.
The soldiers searched the monastery and discovered them under the floors. The chambers were full of prisoners, all insane. The French troops, used to cruelty and blood, could not stomach the sight. They emptied the torture-chambers, laid gunpowder to the monastery and blew the place up.

:7-18  The Interpretation of the Woman

:7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

that carriethbastazo – to take up with the hands; to bear, to carry; to carry on one’s person; to sustain, i.e. uphold, support

:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

was, and is not; and shall ascend – This describes the history of the empire that the beast will rule over, what we’ve seen as a revived Roman Empire (Dan. 2; Dan. 7).

The beast “was” in that he was existing prior to John’s time.

The beast “is not” in that there will be a time when the Roman Empire would not be around.

Even though the empire was existing in John’s day, note how he corrects the phrase at the end of the verse –
the beast that was, and is not, and yet is

The beast shall come and “ascend …”, in that the Roman Empire will be revived, and it will also be energized with demonic activity, as we’ve seen that the antichrist would receive power from Satan himself. (Rev. 13:4), yet eventually, the antichrist would end up in the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20).

bottomless pitabussos – bottomless; unbounded; the abyss; the pit

whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world – You see a hint at God’s foreknowledge and predestination here.

:9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.

the mind which hath wisdom – this is very similar to …

(Rev 13:18 KJV)  Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

mountainsoros – a mountain but it’s also translated “hill” three times in the NT (Mat. 5:14; Luke 4:29; 9:37)

Here’s where some Bible teachers identify this woman as the Roman Catholic Church.

Historically, Rome is known as the “city of seven hills”. The Roman authors (Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Claudian, Starius, Martial) called their city this way.

The names of the seven mountains were these, Capitolinus, Palatinus, Aventinus, Esquilinus, Coelius, Viminalis, and Quirinalis.
The Catholic Encyclopedia states, "It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined."

There are actually quite a lot of similarities between this “woman” and the Roman Catholic Church.

1)  Sitteth on many waters (vs.1,15), the Catholic Church spans many continents, many people.

2) kings … fornication (vs.2), the influence that the Catholic Church has had on European government.

3)  purple and scarlet colors (vs.4), the main colors of the Catholic hierarchy.

4)  gold, precious stones, pearls, etc. (vs.4), the wealth of the Catholic Church.

5)  “Mystery Babylon” (vs.5), we talked about the connections with ancient Babylonian worship, which eventually migrated to Pergamum, practices which eventually found their way into the Catholic church (fish shaped hats, pontifex maximus, pagan holidays, etc.)

6)  drunken with the blood of the saints (vs.6), no other organization in the world has been killing more believers than the RCC.

7)  Seven hills/mountains on which she sits (vs.9), traditionally a description of Rome, the city of seven hills.

8)  Relationship with the ten kings (vs.12), which we understand as a revived Roman Empire, all centered around the base of the RCC.


What about my Catholic friends?

1.  Not all Catholics are unbelievers
We’ve already talked about how the Church at Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) seems to parallel with the Roman Catholic Church.

And to this church, Jesus warned,

(Rev 2:20-23 KJV)  Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. {21} And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. {22} Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. {23} And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

You can see the parallels here with the “woman Jezebel” with the whore in Revelation 17.

Those that get caught up with this “woman” are thrown in the Tribulation and will be killed and judged.

But in Thyatira, there are also “overcomers” –

(Rev 2:24-26 KJV)  But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. {25} But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. {26} And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

I believe that the Roman Catholic Church contains people who are saved.  I do not believe that if a person is a Catholic that this automatically condemns them to hell. 

Even though there are horrible things in the Catholic Church, there are also those who love the Lord, and who are the “overcomers” in the church.

2.  Make sure they understand the gospel, according to the Bible.

We are not saved because we go to the right church and take communion.

We are not saved because we’ve led a good life.

We are saved because Jesus Christ shed His blood, to pay for our sins, and when we’ve received His free gift of forgiveness, we have eternal life.

3.  Encourage them to read their Bible.

The main problem with Catholicism is that the traditions of the church are taken to be as authoritative as the Bible.

Just get them into the Bible.

4.  The rest is up to the Lord.

Perhaps they should stay and be an “overcomer” in the church, or perhaps God will call them out of the church, into a more stable spiritual place.

:10 And there are seven kings:

This is a poor translation, it should read “and they are seven kings”

Is it possible that something could have TWO meanings?

This is exactly what John is saying.

In other words, the “heads” have another meaning besides being “seven mountains”.
The heads also refer to seven kings.

:10  five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

Some look at this as specific Roman emperors, and the thought is that Nero was one of those emperors and the same demon that possessed Nero will one day come and possess the antichrist.  The early church referred to Nero as “the beast” because of his cruelty to Christians.

I believe the best way to look at this is to look at the world governing empires, Biblically, through history.

When we’ve peeked into the book of Daniel, we’ve seen Daniel focus on four world empires, one of which seems to pass away and reappear at the end of time.

Those empires were:  Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greece, and Rome, with the Roman Empire re-emerging at the end of time.

But Daniel doesn’t deal with the other two great, world dominating empires already mentioned in the Bible, which are Egypt and Assyria.

If you put them all together, it works like this:

The five fallen empires include Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian, and Greece.

The empire that “is”, is the Roman Empire.

The empire that’s to come is a form of the revived Roman Empire.

:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

The antichrist is going to be an addition to these world empires, but he’s actually one of the seven, the last one.

:12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

These ten kings are ten horns that are on the last of the seven heads.

They are going to be some kind of confederacy which will form to create the last world empire, and they will give the beast his kingdom.

You can read more about this in Daniel 7.

In the past, we’ve thought this had something to do with the “Common Market” countries, now known as the “European Union”.

The problem is that the current “EU” now has either 16 or 17 member countries, and is considering adding even more.

But it’s interesting to look at the connections between the Catholic Church, and the European countries, and you could see the woman riding the beast.

one hour – I think this is a relative term, relative to world history.

:13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.

mindgnome – the faculty of knowledge, mind, reason; that which is thought or known, one’s mind; view, judgment, opinion; mind concerning what ought to be done; by one’s self: resolve purpose, intention

Perhaps this is talking about something like the European Union, where several nations are joined together, yet still retain their national identity.

:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

make warpolemeo – to war, carry on war; to fight

One of the most amazing things to me is to think that the world’s nations are actually going to organize and be ready to attack Jesus Christ when He returns.

(Rev 19:19 KJV)  And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

But don’t worry, Jesus wins!!

called, and chosen, and faithful – that’s us.  We’ll return with Jesus (coming in chapter 19)

Some might say, “It’s not fair that God chooses people”.  But we like the idea of getting to choose our spouse, the person we’re going to spend the rest of our lives with.  Aren’t you glad you have a choice like that?  Jesus is going to spend eternity with us, isn’t it fair that He get to choose who He spends it with?

If you want to be one that Jesus has chosen, you simply need to choose Jesus.  You’ll find that He has already chosen you.

:15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

In other words, this Babylon will encompass a large area, covering many nations.

:16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

ten horns – the ten kings that are joined with the antichrist.

shall hatemiseo – to hate, pursue with hatred, detest; to be hated, detested

You would expect it to say that they hate the Lamb (which they do), but they also hate the whore as well.

It’s all very convoluted.  These kings will join with the antichrist, but they will turn against the “whore” that the antichrist supports.

desolateeremoo – to make desolate, lay waste; to ruin, bring to desolation; to despoil one, strip her of her treasures

nakedgumnos – properly, unclad, without clothing, the naked body; ill clad; metaph.  naked, i.e. open, lay bare

eatphago – to eat; metaph. to devour, consume

burnkatakaio – to burn up, consume by fire

Perhaps this means that the nations will turn against the Catholic Church and take some of it’s property.

:17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

his willgnome – the faculty of knowledge, mind, reason; that which is thought or known, one’s mind; view, judgment, opinion; mind concerning what ought to be done; by one’s self: resolve purpose, intention

We were told back in 17:13 that these all have “one mind” (same word as “will” here) and that they give their power and strength to the antichrist.  Yet in reality, they will be doing the “mind” or the “will” of God.

and to agree – literally, “and to do one mind

shall be fulfilledteleo – to bring to a close, to finish, to end; to perform, execute, complete, fulfil, (so that the thing done corresponds to what has been said, the order, command etc.)

the wordsrhema – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word; subject matter of speech, thing spoken of

It seems that God will choose to use a human means to bring about judgment upon Babylon.

I wonder if this means that the European nations will launch a nuclear attack.  The description of the judgment in chapter 18 would sure fit this scenario (suddenness, fire, smoke, standing at a distance).

:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

that great city – we saw back in Rev. 16 that the “great city” would be divided into three parts with the earthquake that comes from the seventh bowl judgment.

(Rev 16:19 KJV)  And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

Now we’re told that the “great city” is Babylon.

which reigneth – literally, “which has a kingdom

What is this “great city”?

1.     It could be a restored form of the actual city of Babylon.  Saddam Hussein is rebuilding the city.

2.     It could be a reference to Jerusalem.

3.     It could be Rome, which fits the prophetical picture best.  In this sense, perhaps Rome becomes the first “capitol” for the antichrist, before he moves his headquarters to Jerusalem.

4.     It could be some other great city.  Some like to say it’s Washington D.C. (because it could be seen to “rule” over the world).

Revelation 18

:1-8  Warning to us

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

come downkatabaino – to go down, come down, descend

powerexousia – power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; physical and mental power; the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed); authority

was lightenedphotizo – to give light, to shine; to enlighten, light up, illumine; to bring to light, render evident

: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.

habitationkatoiketerion – an abode, a habitation

devilsdaimon – a god, a goddess; in the NT, an evil spirit

the hold … cagephulake – guard, watch; of the place where captives are kept, a prison

foulakathartos – not cleansed, unclean; in a moral sense: unclean in thought and life

There is a parallel with the previous fall of the original Babylon:

Isa 21:9  And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, [with] a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.   

: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.

the abundancedunamis – strength, power, ability

waxed richplouteo – to be rich, to have abundance; of outward possessions; metaph. to be richly supplied

delicaciesstrenos – excessive strength which longs to break forth, over strength; luxury; eager desire

the merchants of the earth have grown wealthy through the power of her luxuries

The whole world has had a “relationship” with this “Babylon”.  The whole world has left the worship of the true God and has gone after the heresies of Babylon.

: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  - exerchomai - to go or come forth of; metaph. to go out of an assembly, i.e. forsake it; to go forth from one’s power, escape from it in safety

be … partakerssugkoinoneo – to become a partaker together with others, or to have fellowship with a thing

receivelambano – to take; to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain, to get back

If God’s people take part in her sins, they will take part in her plagues.

Though this is probably being spoken to those living on the earth at these very moments, but the principles still apply to us.


Don’t get caught up in the world.

If we get too close to the things of the world, it’s going to affect us.
(Gal 6:7-8 KJV)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. {8} For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Lot and Sodom

He slowly began to get closer and closer to Sodom, until one day he was living in it.

But the day came when God had to bring His judgment on Sodom, and if Lot hadn’t left …

(Gen 19:17 KJV)  And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

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

have reachedakoloutheo – to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him; to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple; side with his party

iniquitiesadikema - a misdeed, evil doing, iniquity


To me, this speaks of God’s patience.

When God says, “I’ve had it up to HERE”, the “here” is up to heaven!

It is wonderful that God is so patient with us.

But we need to remember that there’s a limit even to God’s patience.

: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.

rewardapodidomi – to deliver, to give away for one’s own profit what is one’s own, to sell; to pay off, discharge what is due; to requite, recompense in a good or a bad sense

doublediploo – to double

filled … fillkerannumi – to mix, mingle; to mix wine, water; to pour out for drinking.

She is going to be judged with the same measure she judged others.


You’re judged in the same way you judge others.

(Mat 7:1-6 KJV)  Judge not, that ye be not judged. {2} For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. {3} And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? {4} Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? {5} Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

:7 How much she hath glorified herself

hath glorifieddoxazo – to think, suppose, be of opinion; to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate; to honour, do honour to, hold in honour; to make glorious, adorn with lustre, clothe with splendour


Don’t take God’s glory.

This is one of the fingerprints of Satan, who is the epitome of pride and self-glory.
Jill Briscoe writes, I love what Corrie ten Boom once taught me.  She said, “Jill, people thank me so much, and it used to worry me because I didn’t want to get a big head.  So I began to collect those compliments like flowers.  ‘Thank you,’ I’d say.  ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ Then at the end of the day I’d kneel down and I’d say, ‘Here You are Jesus, they’re all Yours.’”

:7  and lived deliciously

lived deliciouslystreniao – to be wanton, to live luxuriously.  A form of the word translated “delicacies” in –

(Rev 18:3 KJV)  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.

:7  so much torment and sorrow give her:

tormentbasanismos – to torture, a testing by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal; torment, torture; the act of tormenting; the state or condition of those tormented

:7  for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

sorrowpenthos – mourning

Because the city was so prosperous and stable, nobody saw it coming.

We live in a world that ought to be taking notice of these hard warnings. Just a few years ago, the U.S.S.R. was a leading world super-power.  No more.

(1 Cor 10:12 KJV)  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

The best way to keep from being hurt in a fall is simply to stay “low”.

: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.

shall … comeheko – to have come, have arrived, be present

strongischuros – strong, mighty; strong, violent, forcibly uttered, firm, sure

Babylon’s destruction will come quick and strong.

There are some interesting Old Testament Prophecies that parallel this chapter as well.

(Jer 51:8 KJV)  Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.

(Isa 13:19-20 KJV)  And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. {20} It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.

These couldn’t be talking about the first fall of Babylon, because it was a gradual wasting away.

The Persians took over from the Babylonians, and the Greeks followed after that.  It wasn’t until about A.D. 400 that the city kind of just melted into the sands of Iraq.  Now being rebuilt.

:9-19  Kings, merchants and sailors lament

: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,

shall bewailklaio – to mourn, weep, lament

lamentkopto – to cut, strike, smite; to beat one’s breast for grief

lived deliciouslystreniao – to be wanton, to live luxuriously

burningpurosis – a burning; the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced; by a figure drawn from a refiners fire

: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.

alasouai – alas, woe; this is the same word translated “woe, woe” in other places.

hourhora – a certain definite time or season fixed by natural law and returning with the revolving year; of the seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, winter; the daytime (bounded by the rising and setting of the sun), a day; a twelfth part of the day-time, an hour, (the twelve hours of the day are reckoned from the rising to the setting of the sun); any definite time, point of time, moment

This is the same word used to describe the reign of the ten kings with the antichrist –

(Rev 17:12 KJV)  And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

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

merchantsemporos – one on a journey, whether by sea or by land, esp. for trade; a merchant as opposed to a retailer or petty tradesman

First the kings, then the businessmen will weep over Babylon’s fall.

merchandisegomos – a lading or freight of a ship, cargo, merchandise conveyed in a ship; any merchandise

buyethagorazo – to be in the market place, to attend it; to do business there, buy or sell

: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,

As you look at this list of “merchandise”, it just seems that this is something more than just the Roman Catholic Church.

fine linenbussos – byssus, a species of Egyptian flax; linen made from byssus, very costly, delicate, soft, white and also of a yellow colour

silkserikos – made of silk; silk, i.e. the fabric, silken garments

thyine thuinos – the citrus, an odoriferous North African tree used as incense, prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans on account of the beauty of its wood for various ornamental purposes

ivory elephantinos (“elephant”) – of ivory

marblemarmaros – a stone, a rock; marble; from marmairo (to glisten)

: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.

cinnamonkinamomon – cinnamon was a well known aromatic substance, the rind of "Laurus cinnamonum" called "Korunda-gauhah" in Ceylon

odoursthumiama – an aromatic substance burnt, incense

ointmentsmuron (“myrrh”) – ointment

frankincenselibanos – the frankincense tree; the perfume, frankincense

oilelaion – olive oil

fine floursemidalis – the finest wheat flour

beastsktenos – a beast; esp. a beast of burden; used for four legged animals as opposed to fishes and birds

chariotsrheda – a chariot, a type of vehicle having four wheels

slavessoma – the body both of men or animals; we might translate it “bodies”

soulspsuche – breath; the soul

Probably the idea of “bodies and souls men” is what refers to slavery.

: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.

fruitsopora – the season which succeeds summer, from the rising of Sirius to that of Arcturus, i.e. from late summer, early autumn, our dog days; ripe fruits (of trees)

dainty liparos – things which pertain to a sumptuous and delicate style of living; from lipos (grease), perhaps like “greasy” or “fatty” foods???

goodlylampros – shining; splendid, magnificent; splendid things i.e. luxuries or elegancies in dress or style

: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,

Just as the kings of the earth stand from a distance weeping, the merchants will stand at a distance and weep.

: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!

alasouai – alas, woe; this is the same word translated “woe, woe” in other places.

fine linenbussinos – a fine linen (garment); made of fine linen

deckedchrusoo – to adorn with gold, to gild; of a woman ornamented with gold so profusely that she seems to be gilded

:17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.

is come to noughteremoo – to make desolate, lay waste; to ruin, bring to desolation; to despoil one, strip her of her treasures

Don’t lay up treasures on earth.  In a blink they can be gone.

:17  And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

shipmasterkubernetes – steersman, helmsman, sailing master

It’s the guys in shipping, like UPS?

tradeergazomai – to work, labour, do work; to trade, to make gains by trading, "do business"; to do, work out

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

: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.

dustchoos – earth dug out, an earth heap; dust

alasouai – alas, woe; this is the same word translated “woe, woe” in other places.

Want a “Get Rich Quick” scheme?

Go into shipping during the Tribulation, make sure you have a big “hub” in Babylon, but only for 6 years. (just kidding)

:20-24  The great fall

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

hath avenged – literally, “has judged with your judgment


Let God take care of it.

God has finally taken care of the injustices done to His people.
(Rom 12:19-21 NLT)  Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, "I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it," says the Lord. {20} Instead, do what the Scriptures say: "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you." {21} Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.

: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.

millstonemulos – a mill stone; a large mill consisted of two stones, an upper and an under one; the "nether" stone was stationary, but the upper one was turned by an ass

Simply put, this is a VERY LARGE piece of stone!  This is like the “cement overshoes” of Mafia fame.  You don’t swim with a millstone around your neck, you drown.

violencehormema – a rush, impulse; that which is impelled or hurried away by impulse

thrown downballo – to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls; to scatter, to throw, cast into

It’s possible this could be a reference to –

(Jer 51:63-64 KJV)  And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: {64} And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.

I also wonder about –

(Mat 18:1-11 KJV)  At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? {2} And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, {3} And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. {4} Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. {5} And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. {6} But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. {7} Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! {8} Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. {9} And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. {10} Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. {11} For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Jesus is saying that even worse than Babylon’s punishment of drowning with a millstone is the punishment that comes from offending a child and keeping them from Jesus.

:22 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;

harperskitharodos – a harper, one who plays the harp and accompanies it with his voice

musiciansmousikos – devoted to and skilled in the arts sacred to the muses; specifically, skilled in music; playing on musical instruments

craftsmantechnites (“technician”) – an artificer, craftsman

: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.

bridegroomnumphios – a bridegroom

bridenumphe – a betrothed woman, a bride

great menmegistanes – the grandees, magnates, nobles, chief men

sorceriespharmakeia (“pharmacy”) – the use or the administering of drugs; poisoning; sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it; metaph. the deceptions and seductions of idolatry

Though this could be talking about “sorcery”, it could also be talking about the deception of drugs.

You won’t even be able to say, “The lights are on but nobody’s home”. There won’t be any lights on in the city.

There will be no family life in this city.

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

(Rev 18:24 NLT)  In her streets the blood of the prophets was spilled. She was the one who slaughtered God's people all over the world."