The 2001 Commentaries

Babylon the Great

info All commentaries are written by volunteers, readers, or supporters of our Bible translation project. These are not official views of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.

The ‘whore’ that is identified in Revelation the Eighteenth Chapter (the Great Babylon) has been identified by some as a composite of all religions that have shared in having a ‘throne over the kings of the earth.’ And this could be true, for what other group has wielded such an influence over the governments through the ages as this one is identified as doing in the Revelation?

However, though we once felt quite sure that the above conclusion was true;
In the process of translating the words of the Hebrew Prophets and reading the things that ancient Babylon did to apostate Judah and JeruSalem, we have come across enough questionable details to cause us to be less sure of this conclusion.

What are these ‘questionable details?’
Well, the Bible shows us that God sent the Kingdom of Babylon against the Jews because they had been unfaithful. So, ‘the Great Babylon’ (as it was referred to by the king of Babylon at Daniel 4:30) was a worldly army that was sent against something that had become unfaithful to ‘The God.’ And we have wondered whether unfaithful JeruSalem and Judah don’t in fact represent what we thought The Great Babylon represented (unfaithful Judaism and Christianity).
Understand that this is just an open question.

Also note that at Jeremiah 51:45, we find almost the same words as are found in the Revelation. For there we read:

‘So, get out of her midst, O my people…
Let each man save his own life From the anger and rage of Jehovah.’

And if you read the context, you will see that this was a warning to the Jews get out of Babylon after its empire was destroyed.
So this seems to be speaking of a political, not a religious organization.

However, notice that the ‘whore’ of Revelation was guilty of doing what James mentioned as being wrong for Christians at James 4:4, where he wrote:

Adulteresses, don’t you know that if you’re a friend of the world, you’re an enemy of God? So, whoever wants to be a friend of the world is putting himself down as God’s enemy.

Therefore, we will allow that the Great Babylon could still represent apostate Christianity, or it could include Judaism and Islam, or perhaps even all religions. For notice that the description by James labels ‘Christians’ as immoral adulteresses when they get too bound up in secular affairs and politics, putting such things over the love of brothers, neighbors, and God.
And this lines up with the description of ‘the Great Babylon’ in Revelation.

Of course, the people of ancient JeruSalem (which was destroyed by the Great Babylon) were also described as doing such things. For if you read Ezekiel, Chapter twenty-three, you will see how God likened JeruSalem to a woman that had been promised to Him, but became a whore through her unfaithfulness…
Which is what much of modern Christendom appears to have done today.

Also, when Jesus was on trial before Pontius Pilate, the Jewish religious leaders sealed their position as such when they proclaimed:
‘We have no king but Caesar.’

One final point:
We know that in the past, some have identified The Great Babylon as being the Catholic Church (see the book, ‘The Two Babylons’ by Alexander Hyslop). And though there is no single religion that we can point to as standing alone in its involvement in corruption and political entanglements (since almost all are guilty of this today), notice that at Revelation 17:9, the ‘whore’ is described as sitting atop seven mountains or hills, and this does closely resemble the fabled terrain of Rome.

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