Babylon in the Book of Revelation

Multiple Theories, Little Agreement

The identity of Babylon in the book of Revelation has caused many commentators to question whether or not Babylon was Rome or if Babylon would be literally a restoration of the Babylon of the ancient days. No commentary that we are aware of ever aligns the United States of America as being identified with Babylon.

The Liberty Bible Commentary, Volume II, does an in-depth study of the subject of the identity of Babylon. This study begins with Revelation chapter 14, verse 8:

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

Interpreters differ on the identity of this Babylon. R. H. Charles maintains that the fall of Rome is announced. Scott holds: “But what is before us now is the mystic Babylon, that huge system of spiritual adultery and corruption which holds sway over the whole prophetic scene. It is scarcely possible to conceive of a huge system of wickedness eagerly embraced by the nations once called Christian. It will nevertheless be so. Babylon (in the book of Revelation) is the full development of the state of things under the Thyatiran condition of the Church (Chapter 2:18-23).

R. C. H. Lenski (The Interpretation of Saint John’s Revelation, page 432) stated, “Babylon, the antichristian world city or empire, which is named ‘Babylon The Great’ after the Old Testament Babylon … the great enemy of Israel, Jerusalem, Zion. The Preterists regard Babylon as a reference to pagan Rome alone; the historical interpreters as a reference to papal Rome; the futurists as a reference to the capital of the antichristian who is yet to come, either Rome or Jerusalem. Babylon… is the entire antichristian empire throughout the whole New Testament Era. Both pagan and also papal Rome would then be included.” (Liberty Bible Commentary, Volume II, page 827.)

And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and the great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. Revelation 16:19

The identity of the city of Babylon causes commentators to be divided. One group of commentators equate the great city and Babylon with Jerusalem, others with Rome (whether political, religious, or papal). When reliable expositors differ so widely, it is presumptuous to be dogmatic.

In his excellent commentary on the Book of Revelation, Dr. J. Vernon McGee writes, “In chapters 17 and 18 two Babylons are brought before us. The Babylon of chapter 17 is ecclesiastical. The Babylon of chapter 18 is economic. The first is religious – the apostate church. The second is political and commercial.” (The King is Coming, Dr. H. L. Willmington, page 104.)

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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