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Peoples New Testament, Revelation 18

The Doomed City

SUMMARY OF REVELATION 18: The Fall of Babylon Decreed. The People of God Commanded to Come Out of Her. The Kings of the Earth Lament Over Her Fall. The Merchants and Traffickers Also Lament. The Millstone Cast into the Sea.

1   After these things. Those described in chapter 17.
Another angel. Some have urged that this is Christ. There is no proof of their correctness.
Having great power. There was assigned to him great authority.
And the earth was lightened with his glory. This was a proof of power proceeding from God.

2   And he cried ... Babylon the great is fallen. Compare this description with Isa 21:9 14:23 13:21. The fall of Babylon has been already declared, Re 16:19 17:16 but now it is developed. This picture is intended to portray her utter desolation.

3   For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath. Partaken with her in her sins.
Of her fornication. See PNT "Re 17:5".
Merchants of the earth are waxed rich. Her luxurious living had made great markets.

4   Come out of her, my people. This invitation is given to the people of God yet in captivity, lest by remaining they should be involved in her destruction. As God once had a captive people in the old Mesopotamian Babylon, so he has a people in the spiritual Babylon. Ever since the Reformation began, his voice has called on them to come out of her. Nor can it be doubted that he has many true and earnest worshipers still who have found enough of Christ in the mazes of the Papacy to have given him their hearts. The condemnation of the great spiritual despotism is not a declaration that all whom she has enslaved are the children of the devil.

5   Her sins have reached unto heaven. They call therefore for God's remembrance of her iniquities in judgments.

6   Reward her even as she rewarded you. This is addressed to those who have meted out her judgments. The divine principle of judgments is that every one shall be rewarded "according" to his works. What they sow, "that" shall they reap.
And double unto her double according to her works. This power shall have returned upon it in double portion what it has meted out to others.

7   I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. This verse describes her former pride. Compare Isa 47:8,9.

8   Therefore shall her plagues come. Notwithstanding her pride and exultation.
She shall be utterly burned with fire. See Re 17:16. When an ancient city was taken and destroyed it was burned with fire.

9   And the kings of the earth ... shall bewail her. There will be mourners. Those who have sinned with her, or profited by her will bewail her fall.

10  Standing afar off for the fear of her torment. The picture represents these mourners looking from a great distance, afraid to approach nearer.
For in one hour is thy judgment come. It has come suddenly.

11  And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her. All who had made gain in any way from the sins or the luxury of Babylon shall mourn. There follows, then, an enumeration of the articles in which there was traffic.

13  And bodies, and souls of men. The Greek reads, "the bodies and souls of men". The first seems to refer to the traffic in slaves, a common traffic until modern times and sanctioned by the Papacy. The latter expression seems to me to refer to a spiritual traffic. What is the whole system of masses for the dead, paid for out of the money drawn from mourning relatives, but a traffic in the souls of men?

14  The fruits that thy soul lusted after. These things for which Babylon so lusted are all gone from her forever.

15  The merchants of these things ... shall stand afar off. The lamentation of the kings over the fall of the city has been given in Re 18:9-14. The lamentation of the merchants is now given. They are also represented as standing afar off. With them join the shipmasters and mariners who have been engaged in her trade. These all mourn because their profits from her are brought to an end.

20  Rejoice over her, [thou] heaven, and [ye] holy apostles and prophets. While there are mourners, another company is called upon to rejoice. She had exalted herself against God. All who have been for God, and who have suffered from her, are called to rejoice.

21  And a mighty angel took up a stone. See Jer 51:61-64. This symbolical act implies an utter destruction. In Jeremiah the stone is cast into the Euphrates. Now it is cast into the sea, because another Babylon is designed.

22  And the voice of harpers. It is this third angel who declares the silence and desolation of the city now.
And the sound of a millstone. In the mills grinding food for the people. The mills were hand-mills, usually worked by women as a domestic duty.

23  For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. This accounts for the fact that all nations poured their treasures into her lap.

24  In her was found the blood of prophets, and of the saints. It is because she has slain the saints of the Most High that these judgments come upon her. As Jerusalem in the time of Christ filled up the measure of the sins of Israel (Mt 23:29,35,36 Lu 11:51 13:33), so the spiritual Babylon, the great persecutor, fills up the measure of the sins of the beast and false prophet, and is required to account for the blood of slaughtered prophets and saints of all ages.


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The People's New Testament commentary by B.W. Johnson (1891), Public Domain

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