Bible Revelation

Five Views on the Identity of Babylon in Rev 17-18


Famous commentators and teachers of Scripture often state that Revelation 11 or Revelation 12 are some of the most difficult chapters in the Bible to interpret. However, in my opinion the two chapters about the fall of Babylon are the most difficult for me to interpret and wrestle with.

I’ve heard many ideas about the identity of Babylon, Rome, the United States of America, the Roman Catholic Church, Dallas Texas, Jerusalem, Apostate Christianity, New York City, an unknown future city, or Babylon on the Euphrates.

Five Views on the Identity of Babylon in Rev 17-18
Photo Credit: Matthias Gerung (1500-1570)


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There are several key observations that we need to make about Babylon in Revelation 17-18.

A. Making Other Nations Rich

First, Babylon is described as a world empire with economic influence. Babylon is called “great city” (Rev 17:17; 18:2, 10, 16, 19, 21). The kings of the world have subjected themselves to Babylon and received punishment because they have allowed Babylon to influence them (Rev 17:2; 18; 18:9). The name written on the forehead of the woman is, “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World” (Rev 17:5). Babylon rules over “masses” of people from every nation and language (Rev 17:15). Additionally, it is described as the great city that rules over the kings of the world (Rev 17:18). Babylon’s economic influence is seen in her desires for extravagant luxury (Rev 18:3, 7, 9) which caused merchants of the world to grow rich (Rev 18:3, 11-19).

B. Babylon Was Wicked and Evil

Second, Babylon is described as being evil and wicked throughout both Revelation 17 and 18. The people who belong to this world became drunk on the wine of her immortality (Rev 17:2; 18:3). Babylon is a home for demons and everything that is wicked (Rev 18:2). The nations of the world have committed adultery with her (Rev 18:3, 9). Holy people are told not to participate in her sins otherwise they will be punished with her (Rev 18:4). Babylon’s sins are piled high (Rev 18:5) and she commits evil deeds (Rev 18:6). The two chapters about Babylon end with the most severe of Babylon’s sins about how her streets flowed with the blood of prophets, of God’s holy people, and the blood of people slaughtered all over the world (Rev 18:24).
Babylon will never be inhabited again (Isa 13:20)


A. Apostate Christendom or Apostate Church

Bible Revelation

The Sixth Trumpet Brings the Second Terror (Rev 9:13-21)


A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 9:13-21

“13Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet and I heard a voice from the corners of the golden altar before God. 14The voice said to the sixth angel (the one who holds the sixth trumpet), ‘Release the four angels which have been bound at the great Euphrates River.’ 15The four angels which were ready for this hour, day, month, and year were released in order to kill one-third of mankind. 16The number of their calvary army was 200,000,000 troops. I heard their number. 17Then I saw horses in a vision and the ones riding the horses had breastplates that were fiery colored, violet, and yellow. The heads of the hourses were like the heads of lions. Fire, smoke, and sulfur came from their mouths. 18From these three plagues one-third of mankind was killed. This was due to the fire, smoke, and sulfur which came from the mouths of the horses. 19For the power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails. For their tails were like snakes which had heads that hurt people. 20The rest of mankind which was not killed by the plagues would not repent from the work of their hands because they did not want to stop worshipping the evil spirits nor the gold, bronze, stone, or wooden idols. These idols do not have power to see nor hear nor walk. 21And they would not repent from their murders or magic or sexual immortality or from their stealing.” (Rev 9:13-21)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek Text.[/ref]

The Sixth Trumpet Releases the Second Terror in Rev 9.13 to 9.21

Photo Credit: Phillip Medhurst “Four Angels Let Loose”

C. General Remarks

“It is as though John is systematically saying, ‘Think of your worst nightmares; now double them; and then imagine them coming true all at once together. That’s what it’s going to be like. This is God’s way of letting evil do its worst, so that it may eventually fall under its own weight.’” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 92)

“It is poor hermeneutics to try to see them [the plagues] as prophetic modern weapons of war like tanks, planes, or nuclear missiles. John was thinking of ancient warfare, and the terrible fire and smoke caused by the siege engines of the Roman army. By giving each a separate place John is trying to capture the terrible devastation of the demonic cavalry as it goes to war again the peoples of the earth” (Osborne, Revelation, 384).


A. A Voice from the Altar (v. 13)

“Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet and I heard a voice from the corners of the golden altar before God.” (Rev 9:13)

B. Instructions for Release (v. 14)