The conjunction for, ὅτι [hoti] , indicates that the reason for her destruction is that which followsher pollution of the global populace. Her pollution spans all aspects of culture: political, commercial, and religious. The first kingdom on earth was Babel under Nimrod. At that time, all people on earth spoke one language. With the introduction of languages, the people dispersed from Babel to form all the nations of the earth. In their dispersal, they carried forth the abominable practices of Babel. Since that time, all nations have been drinking her potion. See Babylon of Old. See commentary on Revelation 14:8.
the wine of the wrath of her fornication
Fornication is ἐπόρνευσαν [eporneusan] , which is related to πόρνης [pornēs] : harlot. The Harlot served the kings and inhabitants of the earth wine of her fornication (Rev. Rev. 17:2+). She made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication (Rev. Rev. 14:8+). See commentary on Revelation 14:8.
the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her
The same was said of the Harlot (Rev. Rev. 17:2+). Her influence spans the full breadth and height of culture. The kings of the earth are singled out because of their great responsibility and influence over those they rule. She knew that by polluting the leaders, her influence over the people would be greatest. The city polluted the political realm.
the merchants of the earth
Merchants is ἔμποροι [emporoi] : One who travels about for trading . . . wholesale dealer in contrast to a retailer.1 The word emphasizes those who travel in merchandizing and is also used of a passenger on shipboard.2 It is derived from πορος [poros] , a journey. The merchants are the great men of the earth (Rev. Rev. 18:23+), powerful magnates who use their great wealth to influence the affairs of the world to further their own power and interests. The city polluted the commercial realm. Throughout history, the boundary between kings and powerful merchants has been blurred. In our own day, perhaps more than in previous eras, wealthy heads of powerful multinational corporations may have greater influence over the affairs of the world than their publicly elected national counterparts (Isa. Isa. 23:8). While kings wield political power, merchants wield great financial power. With rare exception, world leadership has generally been immersed in a tangled web of political, religious, and commercial interests which are impossible to isolate from one another.
Such international magnates and financiers constitute, more often than not, the power behind the throne. Kings and presidents often attain and keep their authority by sufferance of those who finance their undertakings. In turn, these great men of the earth receive land grants and trade monopolies and tax loopholes and innumerable other favors from those whom they establish in political power, all to enrich themselves still further.3
It has become an axiom that corporations have no souls, and upon this all great moneyed corporations act, though the men who constitute them will find out a different doctrine when they come to the day of judgment. And when it comes to these great and ever magnifying commercial compacts and interests, there is not a law of God or man which is not compelled to yield if found in the way. . . . If the question were ever pressed in these circles, What is truth? it would be hooted and laughed to scorn. The cry would be, What have we to do with that? Let every one quietly enjoy his own opinions. . . . Church is nothing, State is nothing, creed is nothing, Bible is nothing, Sunday is nothing, religious scruples are nothing, conscience is nothing, everything is practically nothing, except as it can be turned or used to the one great end of accumulation and wealth.4have become rich
Zec. 5:5-11.5 See Back to Shinar. As with the city of Tyre, the merchants played a key role in her global influence because it was through the distribution of her merchandise that her affluence and power grew:
In their wailing for you they will take up a lamentation, and lament for you: What city is like Tyre, destroyed in the midst of the sea? When your wares went out by sea, you satisfied many people; you enriched the kings of the earth with your many luxury goods and your merchandise. But you are broken by the seas in the depths of the waters; your merchandise and the entire company will fall in your midst. (Eze. Eze. 27:32-34)the abundance of her luxury
Abundance is δυνάμεως [dynameōs] , literally strengths of her luxury. Luxury is στρήνους [strēnous] , which indicates a luxurious and sensuous way of life characterized by headstrong pride. She has a harlots forehead and refuses to be ashamed (Jer. Jer. 3:3 cf. Rev. Rev. 17:5+).
2 W. E. Vine, Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, IL: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), G1713.
4 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 418.