Troublesome Topic: Babylon

Revelation 14:8


Then another angel, a second one, followed saying, “It has fallen!

BABYLON the great,

has fallen!

for it has given to drink

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of the wine of the passion of her immorality to all the Gentiles.”


Then another angel, a second one, followed saying,

“It has fallen! That great center of tyranny and evil, the continuation of Babel’s confusion, known as the GATE OF THE GODS has fallen;

because it has lured away with the intoxication of its passion-filled immorality, all those who refuse to follow God.”

The name Babylon may come from the word Babel, which means “confusion,” or it may come from an Akkadian word that means “the Gate of the gods.” In Biblical usage it represents evil tyranny or wickedness backed by the power of political authority. Such power is capable of forcing its immorality on everyone, but this verse implies that it did not have to use force, rather it spread its immorality with the intoxicating allure which twists the natural desires already residing in mankind.

Babylon is mentioned in Revelation in the following verses and often the discussion of it continues for several verses:  14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2, 18:10, 18:21.

Many see the use of Babylon in Revelation as a representation of Rome. While I do not doubt that there are a number of parallels that can be found between Babylon and Rome, and the Christians of John’s day would have seen several of them, I do not believe that the use of Babylon is intended as a direct corollary to Rome, or any other city. It’s meaning is spiritual not physical; any source of human power arrayed against the purpose of God, spreading evil and enticing people by their own sinful tendencies, could be called Babylon. The power of the image of Babylon is in its full depiction of evil and rebellion against God, not in its connection to Rome. Babylon has much history in the Jewish mind as an image of evil and rebellion against God; Rome may have been the personification of that attitude during John’s day, but the image is not limited to a specific time and place. The beauty and power of this vision is that it applies universally to all times and all situations in which believers in Jesus find themselves.

When we think in terms of spiritual influence, we realize that this stuff applies to us as well. There are many things today that could fill the same role of Babylon as used here. That could be pornography, sex-trafficking, an insatiable desire for wealth, power and fame, attempts to climb the corporate ladder by stepping on other people, out-of-control selfishness, over-the-top arrogance, and many more.

The next lesson is: Gog and Magog



The Greek says literally, “who has given to drink . . .”   The reason for the punishment is implied by a “who” in the original; it is expressed by the word “for” in my translation, and “because” in my paraphrase. The connection should be clear—she is being punished specifically because of her choices and actions. God is a just God, and the comment at the end of the verse about how she led the nations into immorality is there to prove that God did not act unjustly. She was the leader, the seducer, the instigator, therefore a punishment that is full and complete is warranted.