The church of Christ

Revelation Index


The Book of Revelation

Studies  |  Home

Fallen is Babylon (Revelation 18)

The scarlet woman, otherwise known as the mother of the harlots has been positively identified as that great city that reigneth over the kings of the earth.  Revelation chapter 18 contains numerous characteristics of the harlot which help reinforce the belief that the Babylon of Revelation is the nation-city of Rome.  To someone living in the first century, there is no other city but Rome which could have fit these characteristics.  As with the first series of visions before the introduction of the little book, we are seeing the imminent downfall of the oppressors of Christianity.  Much more information with much more detail has been given in the second series of visions.  Through the activities of the beasts portrayed in chapter 13 we have seen many of the ways the Christians were persecuted.  They were denied the ability to participate in free trade, they were forced to receive a certificate claiming they had bowed down to emperor worship under witnesses.  The bowls of wrath were similar to the opening of the seals where they pertained to the divine retribution God unleashed on the earth and on its inhabitants in the effort to bring the ungodly to repentance. 

In the first series of visions, Rome was brought to her knees and then destroyed.  In the second series of visions which are a culmination of what was found in the "little book" that John received, Rome is brought to her knees and now we have reached the point where we will see her downfall again but this time with much more detail.  The entire chapter of Revelation 18 illustrates in vivid picturesque fashion the destruction and downfall of the Roman Empire. 

Revelation 18:1-2
1 After these things I saw another angel coming down out of heaven, having great authority; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
2 And he cried with a mighty voice, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and is become a habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean spirit, and a hold of every unclean and hateful bird.

Babylon here is a picture of Rome.  Peter referred to Rome as Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13.  It is obvious that Babylon was a common term among Christians of the day when referring to Rome.  It was dangerous indeed to name Rome in a bad light publicly.  Rome's downfall is described in the past tense which represents to the original readership the surety of her fate.  To the first readers of John's visions, their enemy is as good as dead.  

Revelation 18:3
For by the wine of the wrath of her fornication all the nations are fallen; and the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth waxed rich by the power of her wantonness.
All of the emperor worship, all of the pagan gods, all of of the decadence, promiscuity, homosexuality, decadence, infanticide, gluttony, excess and lascivious living has not gone unnoticed by God.  And because of this and their stubborn refusal to repent, not only did Rome herself fall, but all of the nations who made up the Empire fell with her and were conquered. 

This verse is strong internal evidence in support of the Roman empire being the evil object of the Christian persecution.  No other city in this timeframe of the writing saw any of the surrounding nations fall with her.  It is significant here to note that the Babylon of this vision did not go down alone.  Several nations shared in her fate.  It is a historical fact that when the Roman Empire declined and eventually fell, several nations shared in that fate. 

Revelation 18:4
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues:
It is not at all difficult to identify the owner of this voice.  He referred to his listeners as "my people".  This exhortation from heaven's throne is a restatement of what inspiration has said elsewhere. 

Ephesians 5:11
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."

2 Corinthians 6:17
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."

It is no secret that God does not want His children associating with the deeds of worldly people.  He knows that when they do, they are subject to be overcome by temptation.  Nobody likes to see their children tempted to do evil and God is certainly no different.  Christians are called to be separate from the world, pilgrims traveling in a foreign land, with their nationality in heaven.  This is how Christians set themselves apart from the people of the world.  One can observe them and their actions and see that they are not the same as those who live in the world. 

The warning within Revelation 18:4 does not go unnoticed.  God does not want His children to suffer the plagues that will be inflicted upon the unrighteous.  Those who do not come out and separate themselves from the sins of the Roman Empire will suffer in her plagues.  The Application for us today is no different.  Christians living today are to be separate from worldly activities just like the Christians living under the Roman persecution did.  We can become partakers of the sins of others by joining in with their activities and in so doing will share in the consequences. 

Revelation 18:5
"for her sins have reached even unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities."

Babylon, here used to illustrate Rome, has persecuted Christians and has gone down as one of the most decadent and immoral societies that ever existed on earth.  Her sins were so egregious that they were said by John to have reached even unto heaven.  They had piled up and piled up until they are illustrated here as being a heap of unrighteousness set before the throne of God in His sight. 

Revelation 18:6
"Render unto her even as she rendered, and double (unto her) the double according to her works: in the cup which she mingled, mingle unto her double."

The persecution, pain and suffering she inflicted upon the saints is going to be payed back double and indeed it was.  Her refusal to repent from Christian persecution and idolatry cost Rome her very existence on earth and those who never repented indeed will suffer the fate of the lost on top of the misery that befell them during the fall of Rome. 

Revelation 18:7
"How much soever she glorified herself, and waxed wanton, so much give her of torment and mourning: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall in no wise see mourning."

In addition to doubling the misery and pain she dealt on the Christians, Rome is also going to be shamed to the level she glorified herself.  Rome thought she was so mighty and so powerful that it would never end.  She thought she was invincible and would never fall.  How wrong she was.

These words are reminiscent of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the real Babylon: Isaiah 47:7-9
"And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.  Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:  But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments."

Revelation 18:8
"Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judged her."

When judgment comes it's going to be swift, severe and sure.  John is not telling his readers that these plagues will be accomplished collectively in a single day.  Rather, when they do come, they will be swift and devastating. 

Revelation 18:9
"And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived wantonly with her, shall weep and wail over her, when they look upon the smoke of her burning,"

And the vassal kingdoms who were part of the Roman Empire who bowed to the emperors and joined in with the pagan idolatrous practices of Rome who thought they were so safe and secure under her protection are going to realize their benefactor and protector is no longer there.  Their rich lifestyles are torn away as nation after nation falls to invading conquerors of the Roman Empire. 

Revelation 18:10
"standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! for in one hour is thy judgment come."

Not wanting to share in the fate of Rome, her vassal kingdoms kept their distance as best they could.  They hated to see her fall but not badly enough to go share in her fate.

Revelation 18:11
"And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no man buyeth their merchandise any more"

Many merchants the world over enjoyed great trade opportunities with Rome.  Her many roads paved the way for trade routes all over the empire.  People who lived in and did business with the Roman Empire enjoyed great benefits from Roman commerce.  But when Rome fell, so also fell the trade opportunities enjoyed by the merchants of the world. 

Revelation 18:12-14
"merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stone, and pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet; and all thyine wood, and every vessel of ivory, and every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble; and cinnamon, and spice, and incense, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and cattle, and sheep; and (merchandise) of horses and chariots and slaves; and souls of men. And the fruits which thy soul lusted after are gone from thee, and all things that were dainty and sumptuous are perished from thee, and (men) shall find them no more at all."

During the height of the Roman Empire the citizens lived one of the most luxurious opulent lifestyles imaginable.  They had slaves for nearly everything.  Wealthy Roman citizens believed it was beneath them to even lift a finger to take care of themselves.  They had slaves for doctors, cooking, house keeping, working, gardening, etc, etc.  They heaped up for themselves gold and precious jewels of every kind available.  Every substance and object which was characteristic of great wealth was brought in and sold to them.  And now they are gone. 

Revelation 18:15-16
"The merchants of these things, who were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning; saying, Woe, woe, the great city, she that was arrayed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stone and pearl!"

Those who attained great wealth from Rome mourn her downfall but they won't come near to the city for fear of getting caught up in her destruction.  It is significant to look at the description of the wealth and the riches and degree of prosperity that this city once enjoyed.  The city illustrated in this vision was a shining, wealthy beyond description city who rose up before the entire world in her splendor and power.  In the timeframe of this writing there is only one city that demonstrated the possession of worldly goods and fortune that is illustrated here.  It can be only Rome.  "That great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth", (Revelation 17:18).

Revelation 18:17
"for in an hour so great riches is made desolate. And every shipmaster, and every one that saileth any wither, and mariners, and as many as gain their living by sea, stood afar off"

In an hour suggests the suddenness and unexpectedness for which this all happened.  And again we see those who traded with the great and powerful nation-city of Rome standing afar off and watching her destruction from a distance, not wanting to get too close lest they get caught up in her destruction and perish as well.   

Revelation 17:18
"and cried out as they looked upon the smoke of her burning, saying, What (city) is like the great city?"

There was no other city on earth that could compare to the great nation-city of Rome.  There can be little doubt here that the most powerful city on the earth was in view here.  The greatest, the richest, the one that nobody thought would ever fall, the great and mighty city of splendor, wealth and power, the most brilliant, glorious city to ever rule upon the earth at that time; who else is like this great city?

Revelation 17:19
"And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein all that had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate."

Scattered throughout the Revelation like raisins in raisin bread are little clues that we use to positively identify Rome as the great harlot of Babylon.  Here is just such a clue.  The harlot was a port city where trade ships sailed in with goods.  Again the one hour speaks of the abruptness and surety of the event and not to an actual time frame. 

Revelation 17:20
"Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets; for God hath judged your judgment on her."

During the opening of the seals the souls of slain martyrs cried out asking when their blood would be avenged on their murderers, (Revelation 6:9-11).  They were given white robes and told they must wait until God's purpose was finished.  They had to wait until their fellow saints fulfilled their roles and duties and all the souls who would convert had done so. 

The saints, apostles and prophets who had been slain by the Roman Empire finally saw judgment handed out for the atrocities, the pain, the suffering and the persecution wrought on them by an evil empire who glutted herself in their blood. 

Revelation 18:21-22
"And a strong angel took up a stone as it were a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with a mighty fall shall Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers and minstrels and flute-players and trumpeters shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft, shall be found any more at all in thee; and the voice of a mill shall be heard no more at all in thee"

These words are reminiscent of Jeremiah's prophecy to Seriah of the real Babylon in Jeremiah 51:61-64
"And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt read all these words; Then shalt thou say, O LORD, thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever.  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: 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..."

We see here in these words not only the suddenness and unexpectedness of Rome's downfall but we see now the finality of it.  Neither Babylon nor Rome will ever rise to power again.  God's judgment is thorough and final.

Revelation 18:23
"and the light of a lamp 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 princes of the earth; for with thy sorcery were all the nations deceived."

Rome's merchants were indeed wealthy.  Compared to the princes of the earth.  The power and splendor of the Roman Empire deceived all the peoples and nations into believing she could never fall.  With her power seeming so absolute it was easy for them to be deceived into joining in with her and partaking of the idolatrous worship, the pagan ceremonies and the lascivious lifestyles.  What need had anybody for the God of the Christians when they had the magnificent Rome to embrace? 

Revelation 18:24
"And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that have been slain upon the earth."

It wasn't enough that Rome partook of the evils of idolatry and lasciviousness.  They would not tolerate the Christians who opposed these practices.  The faithful Christians refused to bow down to the emperors and the other false Gods.  The faithful Christians refused to participate in their wild drunken feasts and celebrations, choosing the way of righteousness and goodness.  They became the objects of ridicule, discrimination and persecution to the point that they were rounded up and slaughtered.  It would be an impossible task to quantify the number of Christians killed by those of the Roman Empire.  Satan is a truly heartless, vicious and cruel enemy of all that is good. 

"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Revelation 17:6)

Revelation 18 Paraphrase

Then I saw another angel descending from heaven, possessing great authority, and the whole earth was illuminated with his radiance and splendor.  And he shouted with a mighty voice, "The Mighty Empire is fallen! She has allowed herself to become a home and dwelling place for demons, a dark habitation of every loathsome spirit, a prison for every filthy and detestable bird. For all nations have partaken of the filth of her fornication and will share in the wrath to come.  Their rulers and leaders have joined with her in committing idolatry and the businessmen of the earth have become rich with the wealth of her excessive luxury and wantonness."

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out from her, my children, so that you will not share in her sins, neither suffer in her plagues. For her crimes and transgressions against me are piled up as high as heaven, and God sees her wickedness and her crimes.  She will be repaid what she herself has paid to others and her punishment shall be doubled in accordance with what she has done. She will received a double portion for herself of the sufferings she mixed for others.  To the degree that she glorified herself and reveled in her wantonness, to that measure shall be imposed her torment and anguish and tears and mourning. Since in her heart she boasts, I am not destitute; as a queen on a throne I sit, and I shall never see suffering or experience sorrow.  So shall her afflictions and calamities come upon her suddenly and unexpectedly. Pestilence and anguish and sorrow and famine will befall her and she shall be utterly destroyed for mighty is the Lord God Who judges her."

And the rulers and leaders of the earth who joined with her in her immorality and idolatry, and luxuriated with her will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her destruction.   But they will stand a long way off, in terror of her torment, and they will cry, Woe and alas, the great city, the mighty city, Babylon! How suddenly your doom has overtaken you!  And earth's merchants will weep and grieve over her because no one is there to buy their merchandise anymore.

Their merchandise is of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; of fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet clothes; all kinds of scented wood, all sorts of articles of ivory, all varieties of objects of costly woods, bronze, iron, and marble; Of cinnamon, spices, incense, ointment and perfume, and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, fine flour and wheat; of cattle and sheep, horses and conveyances; and of slaves and souls of men!  So now the ripe fruits and delicacies for which you soul longed have gone from you and all your luxuries and dainties, your elegance and splendor are lost to you forever.

The merchants who sold these articles, who grew wealthy through their business with her, will stand a long way off, in terror of her doom and torment, weeping and grieving aloud, and saying, "Alas, alas for the great city that was robed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, bedecked and glittering with gold, with precious stones, and with pearls! Because in no time at all the vast wealth has been wiped out."

And all ship captains and pilots, navigators and all who live by seafaring, the crews and all who ply their trade on the sea, stood a long way off watching.  And they cried as they watched the smoke of her destruction, saying, "What city could be compared to the great city?" And they wept and grieved, exclaiming, "Woe and alas, for the great city, where all who had ships on the sea grew rich through trade with her from her great wealth!  So unexpected and suddenly she has been destroyed and has become destitute."

Rejoice over her Oh Heaven.  Rejoice children of God and apostles and prophets for at long last God has executed vengeance upon her for your sakes. Then a single powerful angel took up a boulder like a great millstone and flung it into the sea, crying, "With such violence shall Babylon the great city be hurled down to destruction and shall never again be seen."

The music of harpists and minstrels and flute players and trumpeters shall never again be heard in you, and no skilled artisan of any craft shall ever again be found in you, and the sound of the millstone shall never again be heard in you. Never again shall the light of a lamp shine in you, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall never be heard in you ever again. For your merchants were great and prominent men of the earth, and by your deception of security and power all nations were deceived into joining in with your wantonness and idolatry.

And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all those who have been slain by her on the earth.

Church of Christ Lessons on the Revelation of Jesus Christ

1.  Understanding Revelation
2.  Symbolic Objects in Revelation
3.  Understanding the Numerical Symbolism in Revelation
4.  Identifying the Opposition Characters in Revelation
John's Introduction to the Churches of Asia

6.  John's Vision of Jesus Christ
7. The Church who Left Her First Love, Ephesus
8.  Smyrna, the Suffering Church
9.  Pergamum, the church in Hell's Headquarter
10.  Thyatira, the church that Condoned Sin
11. Sardis (The Dead Church)
12. Philadelphia (The Church With Opportunity)
13.  Laodicea (The Lukewarm Church)

14.  Letter to Your Church
15.  John's Throne Vision (chapter 4)
16.  God the Redeemer Revealed  (chapter 5)
17.  God the Avenger of His Children (Chapter 6)
18.  Who Will Be Able To Stand  (Chapter 7)
19.  The First Four Trumpets
(Chapter 8)
20.  The Fifth Trumpet (Chapter 9:1-12)
21.  The Sixth Trumpet Announcement (Chapter 9:13-21)
22. The Little Book and the Unutterable Thunders (Rev 10)
23.  The Seventh Trumpet Announcement (Rev 11)
24. The Conflict (Revelation 12)
25.  Revelation 13 (Identification of the First Beast)

26.  Revelation 13 (Identification of the Second Beast)

27.  Chapter 14 (The Victorious Lamb and the Redeemed)
28.  Revelation 14 (The Turning Point)
29.  Revelation 14 (The Sickle and the Winepress)
30.  Chapter 15 (Comfort for the Saints)
31.  Chapter 16 (Bowls of Wrath)
32.  Chapter 16 (The Battle of Armageddon)
33.  Chapter 17 (The Scarlet Woman)
34.  Chapter 18 (Fallen  is Babylon)

35.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Chapter 19)
36.  The Fall of Satan  (Chapter 20)
37.  Heaven, the Home of the Soul  (Chapter 21)
38.  The Spirit and the Bride Say Come  (Chapter 22)
39.  The Dating of the Revelation

Old Testament

Genesis | Exodus | Leviticus | Numbers | Deuteronomy | Joshua | Judges | Ruth | 1 Samuel | 2 Samuel

  1 Kings | 2 Kings | 1 Chronicles | 2 Chronicles | Ezra | Nehemiah | Esther | Job | Psalms | Proverbs

 Ecclesiastes | Song of Solomon | Isaiah | Jeremiah | Lamentations | Ezekiel | Daniel | Hosea | Joel

 Amos | Obadiah | Jonah | Micah | Nahum | Habakkuk | Zephaniah | Haggai | Zechariah | Malachi

 New Testament

Matthew | Mark | Luke | John | Acts | Romans | 1 Corinthians | 2 Corinthians | Galatians

Ephesians | Philippians | Colossians | 1 Thessalonians | 2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy | 2 Timothy | Titus | Philemon | Hebrews | James

1 Peter | 2 Peter | 1 John | 2 John | 3 John | Jude | Revelation

Home | Church of Christ Sermons | Online Bible | Church of Christ Bible Studies

Daily Bible Reader | Bible Reference | Plan of Salvation | FAQS

What Does the church of Christ Teach?


The material found within this website is free to everyone.
The price was paid when Jesus died on the cross.
Feel free to use any of the content found within
this website for the spreading of the Gospel
to all. 

Revelation 21:5-7

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.