Revelation – Chapters 17-18


Why is Babylon singled out for destruction?


I. Video Data.  John Ankerberg Show. Dr. John Ankerberg,  (M. Div., D. Min.), (Dr. Jimmy DeYoung (M. Div., Ph. D., 1940-2021).


II. Introduction.  Dr. C.I. Scofield (D. D.; 1843-1921) Scofield Study Bible (1909, 1917, 1937, 1945, 1984, 1998, 2002, 2006, Editor, C.I. Scofield, Editorial Revision 1967 Committee Members: Charles L. Feinberg, Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., John F. Walvoord, Th. B., Th. M., Th. D.).

The Doom Of Babylon, Revelation Chapters 17-18


A. 17:1-6 – The great prostitute exerts power over the revived fourth world empire.

B. 17:7-13 – The prostitute is overthrown.

C. 18: 1-8 – Babylon destroyed.

D. 18:9-19 – Earth dwellers bewail Babylon’s destruction.

E. 18:20-24 – Heaven rejoices over Babylon’s fall.


III. Overview.


A. Dr. Kendell H. Easley (M. Div.; Ph. D.) The Book of Revelation, Holman New Testament Commentary.


“Babylon the Great,” mistress of the world. God will judge her directly and dramatically. 


B. Dr. David Jeremiah. (Th. M., D.D.) Jeremiah Study Bible. 


Babylon, in all its religious, political, and economic glory, will be reduced to an ash heap by One with greater authority and glory.


C.  Dr. John Phillips (D. Min; 1927-2010) Revelation Commentary. 


The Babylonish system is both religious and political. The religious system paves the way for the political system, but in the end the political system supplants the religious one. The religious system is symbolized as the Babylonian mother; the political system is symbolized as the Babylonian monster. 

D. Dr. Daniel Green (Th. D., D. Min.) The Moody Bible Commentary.

This part of John’s revelation describes the end for the city of Babylon on the Euphrates, and the world of people that followed her ways. It highlighted the truth of the apostle’s earlier writing (1 Jn 2:15-17). All who loved the power, idolatry, and riches of the world so exemplified by the city would see their dreams destroyed before their eyes. 

E. Dr. Robert L. Thomas  (Th. M., Th. D.; 1928-2017). Revelation Commentary.

The seventh bowl description does not terminate at the end of Chapter 16, but continues into Chapters 17-18 with a detailing of Babylon’s downfall. 

F. Dr. Charles L. Feinberg (Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., 1909-1995).

That the theme of Babylon is an important one in the Revelation can be seen from the fact that the Spirit of God devotes two chapters in this essential book of prophecy to the subject. From Genesis 10:10, which is the first mention, to (Rev) 18:21, which is the last reference, this subject of biblical revelation and prophecy is given extraordinary prominence. 

G. Dr. John F. Walvoord (Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., 1910-2002) The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Chapters 17 and 18 of Revelation are dedicated to the description of the final destruction of Babylon in both its ecclesiastical and political forms. John is shown the vision of the destruction of Babylon, as representing false religion, by one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and is invited to behold the judgment of a woman, the symbol of Babylon, described as the great whore (Gr., porne„, usually translated “harlot”), who is seen sitting on many waters. The interpretation of “waters” is that these are the many nations ruled by Babylon. In chapter 18, the context seems to indicate that Babylon here is viewed in its political and economic character rather than in its religious aspect. It seems that chapter 17 deals with the religious aspect and chapter 18 with the political and economic aspects of Babylon. 18:4-8: A voice from Heaven instructed the people of God to leave the city so that they would escape the judgment to come on it (vv. 4-5). Death, mourning, and famine, also fire, will come on the city in one day (v. 8). [See Ryrie comment below (18:4)]

H. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost (Th. B., Th., D., 1915-2014) Things To Come:

1. P195. The  nature of  the 70th week (The Tribulation) is divine “wrath”  and divine “judgment” (Rev 17:1). Jesus bore for us (believers in Christ) His judgment; therefore we who are in Him “shall not come into Judgment” (1 Thes 5:9).

2. P 215. The only organized church ever mentioned in the tribulation period is the Jezebel system (Rev 2:22) and the harlot system (Rev. 17-18).  If the true church were on earth, since it is not mentioned as separate from the apostate system, it must be a part of that apostasy. Such a conclusion is impossible. The believing witnesses, converted during the period, are specifically said to have kept themselves from defilement by this apostate system (Rev 14:4). Since the church is not mentioned as also having kept herself from this system it must be concluded that the church is not there. 

3. P231. “The events of the Day of the Lord” will include the overthrow of the false professing church (Rev 17-18). 

4. P354. The invasion of the land of Israel by the northern confederacy will bring the Beast and his armies to the defense of Israel as her protector. (Daniel 11:40-45)

5. P356. The Beast moves his headquarters into the land of Israel and assembles his armies there. It is there that his destruction will come (Daniel 11:40-45). During the time that the Beast  (Antichrist) is headquartered in Israel, he will make a covenant with Israel, and midway during the covenant period, he will break that covenant with Israel (P 234).

6. P357. With the King of the South defeated by the armies of the Beast, and the northern confederacy defeated by the Lord on the mountains of Israel, we find two opposing forces drawn up in battle array — the armies of the Beast and the armies of the Kings of the East ((Daniel 11:40-45). 

7. P364. The religious system under the Beast is an organized system of worldwide scope (Rev 17:15). The system will be destroyed by the Beast, so that his supremacy may not be threatened (Rev 17:16-17)

8. P368. Regarding the Judgment of the Beast and his armies. In tracing the campaign of Armageddon, it has been seen how God judges the Gentile world powers and brings about their downfall. The northern confederacy was judged by God upon the mountains of Israel in the middle of the Tribulation period. The Kings of the East and their forces, and the armies of the Beast were seen to be destroyed at the second coming of Christ to the earth.

IV. Scripture Text. Reve. Link pasted from Bible Gateway. 

Revelation Chapters 17-18 New American Standard Bible 1995


V. Verse Examination. Revelation 17-18.

Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., Litt.D.; 1925-2016) Ryrie Study Bible.

A. 17:1. Babylon is represented as a “whore ” whose unfaithfulness affects many people and nations (the “waters” as explained in v. 15). 

B. 17:3. “a scarlet beast.” A reference to Antichrist and his allies on whom Babylon sits (controls).

C. 17:8. This would place the events of this chapter (17) in the first half of the Tribulation before Antichrist comes out of the abyss at its midpoint (cf. 11:7; 13:11).

D. 17:10. “seven kings.” The seven heads of vs. 9, are seven kings, probably a selective list either of Roman emperors or world empires.

E. 17:12. “ten kings.” The 10-nation federation that will be headed by Antichrist. “one hour.”  I.e., for one purpose (as in Luke 22:53). 

F. 17:15. The apostate church will be ecumenical, or worldwide.

G 17:16. “these will hate the harlot.” The political power headed by Antichrist will overthrow the false church organization (probably at mid-point of the Tribulation). 

H. 18:2  “fallen.” The Kings lament this destruction (vs. 9), which apparently will occur at the end of the Tribulation. 

I. 18:4. “my people.” God’s people are to separate themselves from the Babylonian system. (See Walvoord comment above, 18:4).

J. 18:8. “in one day.” The judgment will be consummated in a single day, as it happened once before to Babylon, when it was taken by Darius (Dan. 5:1, 3-5, 30). 

K. 18:20. “God has pronounced judgment for you against her. I. e., Heaven and the martyrs may now rejoice.

L 18:21. Babylon will sink into the sea like a rock. 

V. Summary.

Dr. Orville J. Nave, Nave’s Study Bible, 1978 (D.D., LL. D., 1841-1917). Orville J. Nave (Editor). Anna Seamans Nave (Editor).

In these seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation, we considered the following: 17:1 A woman arrayed in purple and scarlet, with a golden cup in her hand, sits upon the beast. 5 The mystery of the woman is explained. 18:1 The fall of Babylon. 4 The people of God commanded to come out of her. 9 The lamentation of kings, 11 of merchants, 17 and of seamen, over her fall. 20 The saints are bidden to rejoice. 21 Babylon shall be found no more. 

VI. Parting Thoughts. 

A. The name, Babylon, is written 273 times in the Bible. There is no reason to believe that in Revelation Chapters 14-18, another name is intended for Babylon. Some people have said that when Peter mentions “Babylon” in 1 Peter 5:13, he is using a code that means that he is actually writing from Rome. There is no evidence that Peter was ever in Rome. Paul was said to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13), with Peter being the Apostle to the Jews (Gal 2:7). Consider Romans 1:11, “I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established.” Is Paul saying that since Peter didn’t do a good enough job in Rome, that Paul is going there “to clean up his mess?” If Peter had been in Rome, Paul would not have written such words (Rom 1:11). In 536 B.C. 49, 897 Jews returned to Jerusalem from 70 years of Babylonian captivity. However, many remained in Babylon (Ezra 2:64-65) (Ryrie Study Bible).  The Book of Esther (465 B. C.) describes life for the Jews who remained in Babylon, and the attempted annihilation of the Jews by Haman (Esther 3:1-15, 474 B.C.). There is every reason to believe that Babylon means Babylon. In the Revelation that was given to the Apostle John, of this Chapter 17-18 narrative, was a view of the city of Babylon, far into the future. John saw the city of Babylon, and wrote of that which he saw.

B. The words of Revelation 17:5 are important to be considered in context. 

(CSB) On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Detestable Things of the Earth.

(ESV) And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”


(HCSB) On her forehead a cryptic name was written: BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE VILE THINGS OF THE EARTH.


(NASB 1995) and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”


(NET) On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the Great, the Mother of prostitutes and of the detestable things of the earth.”


(NIV) The name written on her forehead was a mystery: Babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth.


(NLT) A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.”

(KJV) And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.


(NKJV) And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

C. Rev 17:7 discusses “the mystery” of Babylon. 


1. (NASB) “And the angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.”


2. The development of evil unto its culmination in the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:7) and the development of the great apostate system religious system (Rev. 17:5, 7) both constitute that which was called a mystery (Pentecost, Things to Come, p 135).


D.  Rev 17:18 shows that Babylon is the name of a city, and not the second word of the incorrect rendering of,  “MYSTERY, BABYLON.”


(NASB 1995). The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”

E. Context is necessary for the understanding of Scripture.  All of the Bible is for us, but not all of the Bible is about us. Lev 24:23 was in context, in the Jewish understanding of Scripture during the time of the Law.  However, it is out of context to say that we stone people today who act improperly. Israel is Israel, and the church is the church; both are addressed in the New Testament (78 times for Israel, and 112 times for the Church.) Israel consists of Jews of the bloodline of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob. The church consists of the body of Christ (Col 1:24). Gentiles can never become Jews, thereby entering into the Jewish bloodline (whether the Gentiles are Christian, or not). Jews, on the other hand, can become part of the body of Christ, as can Gentiles, through belief in Christ (John 14:20, 2 Cor 5:17).  When we are born again (John 3:3), our spirit enters into the Spirit of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (1 Jn 1:5), with the Spirit of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, dwelling within our spirit (Col 1:27). However, it is not until we are physically in the Kingdom on the earth that we will be grafted into the blessings of the Jews, at which time the Abrahamic Covenant will have been fulfilled. Jesus told the Jews to pray for the Kingdom come (Matt 6:10). At the time that Jesus was to ascend to Heaven (Acts 1:4-7), after the Apostles asked Him if He would, at that time, restore the Kingdom to Israel, that He said, “it was not for them to know the times or the seasons which the Father had put in His own power,” which meant that “the kingdom had not yet come.” During our study of the Kingdom, we will also discuss the roles of Jesus as Prophet (past), Priest (present), and King (future).


VI. My Bucket List shows the references, of people and documents, that I use when I write my articles. Please check my Pages for “Bucket List.”

VII . My Websites To Follow.

https://equippingblog.wordpress.com/ Eternity

https://untotheleastofthese.home.blog/ Book Prep

https://newsandcommentary38395276.wordpress.com/ Thy Kingdom Come

VIII. Recommended Resource.

Ryrie Study Bible NASB 1995. The Ryrie Study Bible outlines each day of Holy Week in Luke’s Gospel, which is helpful in identifying the day that Jesus was crucified. This is my favorite study Bible.

https://www.moodypublishers.com/authors/r/charles-ryrie/

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