We have here,
I. An angel proclaiming the fall of Babylon,
II. Assigning the reasons of her fall,
III. Giving warning to all who belonged to God to come out of her
and to assist in her destruction,
IV. The great lamentation made for her by those who had been large
sharers in her sinful pleasures and profits,
V. The great joy that there would be among others at the sight of her
The Fall of Babylon.
A. D. 95.
1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from
heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his
2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon
the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of
devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every
unclean and hateful bird.
3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her
fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed
fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed
rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of
her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye
receive not of her plagues.
5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath
remembered her iniquities.
6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her
double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled
fill to her double.
7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously,
so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart,
I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and
mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire:
for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
The downfall and destruction of Babylon form an event so fully
determined in the counsels of God, and of such consequence to his
interests and glory, that the visions and predictions concerning it are
1. Here is another angel sent from heaven, attended with great power
He had not only light in himself, to discern the truth of his own
prediction, but to inform and enlighten the world about that great
event; and not only light to discern it, but power to accomplish it.
2. This angel publishes the fall of Babylon, as a thing already come
to pass; and this he does with a mighty strong voice, that all might
hear the cry, and might see how well this angel was pleased to be the
messenger of such tidings. Here seems to be an allusion to the
prediction of the fall of pagan Babylon
where the word is repeated as it is here: has fallen, has
fallen. Some have thought a double fall is hereby intended, first
her apostasy, and then her ruin; and they think the words immediately
following favour their opinion; She has become the habitation of
devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every
unclean and hateful bird,
But this is also borrowed from
and seems to describe not so much her sin of entertaining idols (which
are truly called devils) as her punishment, it being a common
notion that unclean spirits, as well as ominous and hateful birds, used
to haunt a city or house that lay in its ruins.
3. The reason of this ruin is declared
for, though God is not obliged to give any account of his matters, yet
he is pleased to do so, especially in those dispensations of providence
that are most awful and tremendous. The wickedness of Babylon had been
very great; for she had not only forsaken the true God herself, and set
up idols, but had with great art and industry drawn all sorts of men
into the spiritual adultery, and by her wealth and luxury had retained
them in her interest.
4. Fair warning is given to all that expect mercy from God, that they
should not only come out of her, but be assisting in her
(1.) God may have a people even in Babylon, some who belong to the
election of grace.
(2.) God's people shall be called out of Babylon, and called
(3.) Those that are resolved to partake with wicked men in their sins
must receive of their plagues.
(4.) When the sins of a people reach up to heaven, the wrath of God
will reach down to the earth.
(5.) Though private revenge is forbidden, yet God will have his people
act under him, when called to it, in pulling down his and their
inveterate and implacable enemies,
(6.) God will proportion the punishment of sinners to the measure of
their wickedness, pride, and security,
(7.) When destruction comes on a people suddenly, the surprise is a
great aggravation of their misery,
The Fall of Babylon.
A. D. 95.
9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication
and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for
her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas,
alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour
is thy judgment come.
11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over
her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones,
and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet,
and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all
manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and
13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense,
and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and
sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from
thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed
from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her,
shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and
16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in
fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and
precious stones, and pearls!
17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every
shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as
many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying,
What city is like unto this great city!
19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and
wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made
rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness!
for in one hour is she made desolate.
20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and
prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone,
and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that
great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at
22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and
trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no
craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more
in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at
all in thee;
23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in
thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be
heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great
men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints,
and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Here we have,
I. A doleful lamentation made by Babylon's friends for her fall; and
1. Who are the mourners, namely, those who had been bewitched by her
fornication, those who had been sharers in her sensual pleasures, and
those who had been gainers by her wealth and trade--the kings and the
merchants of the earth: the kings of the earth, whom she had
flattered into idolatry by allowing them to be arbitrary and tyrannical
over their subjects, while they were obsequious to her; and the
merchants, that is, those who trafficked with her for indulgences,
pardons, dispensations, and preferments; these will mourn, because by
this craft they got their wealth.
2. What was the manner of their mourning.
(1.) They stood afar off, they durst not come nigh her. Even Babylon's
friends will stand at a distance from her fall. Though they had been
partakers with her in her sins, and in her sinful pleasures and
profits, they were not willing to bear a share in her plagues.
(2.) They made a grievous outcry: Alas! alas! that great city,
Babylon, that mighty city!
(3.) They wept, and cast dust upon their heads,
The pleasures of sin are but for a season, and they will end in dismal
sorrow. All those who rejoice in the success of the church's enemies
will share with them in their downfall; and those who have most
indulged themselves in pride and pleasure are the least able to bear
calamities; their sorrows will be as excessive as their pleasure and
jollity were before.
3. What was the cause of their mourning; not their sin, but their
punishment. They did not lament their fall into idolatry, and luxury,
and persecution, but their fall into ruin--the loss of their traffic and
of their wealth and power. The spirit of antichrist is a worldly
spirit, and their sorrow is a mere worldly sorrow; they did not lament
for the anger of God, that had now fallen upon them, but for the loss
of their outward comfort. We have a large schedule and inventory of the
wealth and merchandise of this city, all which was suddenly lost
and lost irrecoverably
All things which were dainty and goodly have departed from thee, and
thou shalt find them no more at all. The church of God may fall for
a time, but she shall rise again; but the fall of Babylon will be an
utter overthrow, like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Godly sorrow is some
support under affliction, but mere worldly sorrow adds to the
II. An account of the joy and triumph there was both in heaven and
earth at the irrecoverable fall of Babylon: while her own people were
bewailing her, the servants of God were called to rejoice over
1. How universal this joy would be: heaven and earth, angels and
saints, would join in it; that which is matter of rejoicing to the
servants of God in this world is matter of rejoicing to the angels in
2. How just and reasonable; and that,
(1.) Because the fall of Babylon was an act of God's vindictive
justice. God was then avenging his people's cause. They had committed
their cause to him to whom vengeance belongs, and now the year
of recompence had come for the controversies of Zion; and, though they
did not take pleasure in the miseries of any, yet they had reason to
rejoice in the discoveries of the glorious justice of God.
(2.) Because it was an irrecoverable ruin. This enemy should never
molest them any more, and of this they were assured by a remarkable
An angel from heaven took up a stone like a great millstone,
and cast it into the sea, saying, "Thus shall Babylon be thrown down
with violence, and be found no more at all; the place shall be no
longer habitable by man, no work shall be done there, no comfort
enjoyed, no light seen there, but utter darkness and desolation, as the
reward of her great wickedness, first in deceiving the nations with
her sorceries, and secondly in destroying and murdering those whom
she could not deceive,"
Such abominable sins deserved so great a ruin.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Revelation' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".