Revelation 18:1

Revelation 18:1
In the previous chapter, John was shown The Great Harlot who sits on many waters (Rev. Rev. 17:1+). She was identified as Babylon the Great (Rev. Rev. 17:5+) and that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth (Rev. Rev. 17:18+). The angel describes her relationship to the Beast with seven heads and ten horns upon which she rides. John is told that the Beast and the horns will hate her and be used of God to destroy her (Rev. Rev. 17:16+). Having identified her relationship with the Beast and declared her impending demise, now John is shown her dramatic overthrow and complete destruction. The suddenness and completeness of her destruction is illustrated by the threefold lamentation of those who profited from her commercial luxury: kings of the earth (Rev. Rev. 18:9-10+), merchants of the earth (Rev. Rev. 18:11-17+), and seafarers (Rev. Rev. 18:17-19+). In contrast to their wailing over the loss of the city, heaven rejoices (Rev. Rev. 18:20+).

The Kings of the earth make this lament. The Merchants make it (Rev. Rev. 18:16+) : and the Mariners make it (Rev. Rev. 18:19+). In the first, the verbs introducing it are in the Future tense (Rev. Rev. 18:9+): in the second, in the Present (Rev. Rev. 18:11+), and in the third, the Past tense (Rev. Rev. 18:17+). It is as though a moving scene is passing before the eyes, while the interpreting angel explains it.1

The destruction of Babylon described in this chapter bears much in common with the predicted destruction of Tyre in Ezekiel’s day (Eze. Eze. 26:1-Eze. 28:1). Both cities are called harlots and known for their commercial splendor, shipping, and ungodly influence upon the surrounding nations. At their destruction, merchants who benefited from commercial contact with the city are grieved. The destruction of Tyre which Ezekiel predicted was initiated by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (the city destroyed in this chapter) and completed by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.2 An important commonality between the two cites is the empowerment of their respective kings by Satan (Isa. Isa. 14:4, Isa. 14:12; Eze. Eze. 28:2, Eze. 28:13-14; Rev. Rev. 13:2+). It is important to grasp the essential unity between Revelation Rev. 17:1+ and Rev. 18:1+. Many interpreters are quick to identify the Harlot as a separate entity from the city while overlooking the many indications that a single Babylon is in view:

The last verse of chapter 17 closed it by giving the interpretation of the woman as being “that great city.” Though the woman is the first thing mentioned in that chapter, yet her interpretation is left till the end, so that the mention of the city may lead on to the account of its destruction, which is the subject of chapter 18.3

Chapter 18 contains the description of the previously announced “judgment” of the prostitute (Rev. Rev. 17:1+). It is important not to separate this chapter from the portrayal of the prostitute in chapter Rev. 17:1+, for there is no warrant for making the prostitute in chapter Rev. 17:1+ different from the city in chapter Rev. 18:1+ (cf. Rev. Rev. 17:18+).4

See One or Two Babylons?

After these things
Μετα ταῦτα [Meta tauta] , the frequently-encountered phrase which separates sections of John’s revelation. In a similar way that John was shown the bowls of wrath (Rev. Rev. 15:1+) prior to their pouring forth (Rev. Rev. 16:1+), he was shown the impending destruction of the Harlot Babylon in the previous chapter (Rev. Rev. 17:1+) prior to her actual destruction here (Rev. Rev. 18:1+).

another angel coming down from heaven
A different angel than the one who showed John the great harlot who is about to be judged (Rev. Rev. 17:1+). He comes on a mission from heaven, much like the mighty angel who came down from heaven with the little book and who stood on the sea and on the land to declare God’s intention to retake dominion of the earth (Rev. Rev. 10:1+). “Interpreters seem as anxious to make this, and other of the angels, to be the Lord Jesus, as they are to make all else to be the church. There is no occasion to go beyond the simple understanding of the words. This is no ordinary angel; for he was invested with great power and glory.”5 See commentary on Revelation 10:1.

the earth was illuminated with his glory
The glory of the mighty angel was so great that it shone down upon the earth. His brightness is an indication of his authority and high rank (Luke Luke 2:9; Acts Acts 12:7). It is a reflection of the glory of God Who appointed him to this task (Hab. Hab. 3:3-4; Rev. Rev. 21:23+). When the angel descends, the earth is full of moral darkness. The illumination of the earth by his glory presages the destruction of darkness and the introduction of light which will be the overthrow of Babylon and the introduction of the Millennial Kingdom (Isa. Isa. 60:1-3).


1 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 18:10.

2 Charles Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1969), 150.

3 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 18:1.

4 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 18:1.

5 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 18:1.