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In the New Testament the city of Babylon is mentioned a few times. Notably in the book of Revelation:

6Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” 8 A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” 9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:6-12, NIV, emphasize mine)

See also 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2, 18:10, 18:21.

What does Babylon refer to? If there are diversity among scholars I love to hear about different opinions. But I only want answers that argue from the text itself and it's historical situation.


There is another question that touches on the subject. But I want this to be more specific and go deeper.

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16 Answers 16

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Contemporary Jewish Apocalypses

Fourth Ezra is a Jewish apocalypse written circa AD 100, with later Christian additions. Chapter 3.1-2,38-31, written by the original Jewish author, has the following:

In the thirtieth year after the destruction of the city, I was in Babylon — I, Salathiel, who am also called Ezra. I was troubled as I lay on my bed, and my thoughts welled up in my heart, because I saw the desolation of Zion and the wealth of those who lived in Babylon. [...] 'Then I said in my heart, Are the deeds of those who inhabit Babylon any better? Is that why it has gained dominion over Zion? For when I came here I saw ungodly deeds without number, and my soul has seen many sinners during these thirty years. And my heart failed me, because I have seen how you endure those who sin, and have spared those who act wickedly, and have destroyed your people, and protected your enemies, and have not shown to anyone how your way may be comprehended. Are the deeds of Babylon better than those of Zion?'

According to this text, 'Ezra' is writing thirty years after the 587 BC destruction of Jerusalem. Internally, this would date the book to about 557 BC, a full century before the biblical Ezra was even active, which is not feasible. This, among other signs that this was not written by the Ezra, has led scholars to date the book thirty years after the second destruction of Jerusalem of AD 70. This would mean the author was casting himself in the role of Ezra, with Rome found in his references to 'Babylon'.

Second Baruch, an apocalyptic book written about the same time, uses a similar literary device. The author assumes the name of the biblical Baruch, writing about the second destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 as if it was the one in 587 BC. Again, Rome takes the identity of 'Babylon' (cf. 2 Baruch 10.1–3, 11.1, and 67.7).


The Sibylline Oracles

The Sibylline Oracles, a large set of apocalyptic visions, were written, edited, and redacted by various Jews, Christians, and Gnostics over several centuries. Book 5.187-205, written around AD 130-160, equates Rome with Babylon when it puts the blames for the temple's destruction on Nero, the 'mighty king' who 'laid his hands upon the womb' (i.e. murdered his pregnant wife):

When one from Italy shall smite the neck
Of the isthmus, mighty king of mighty Rome,
A man made equal to God, whom, they say,
Zeus himself and the august Hera bore
He, courting by his voice all-musical
Applause for his sweet Songs, shall put to death
With his own wretched mother many men.
From Babylon shall flee the fearful lord
And shameless whom all mortals and best men
Abhor; for he slew many and laid hands
Upon the womb; against his wives he sinned
And of men stained with blood had he been formed.
And he shall come to monarchs of the Medes
And Persians, first whom he loved and to whom
He brought renown, while with those wicked men
He lurked against a nation not desired
And on the temple made by God he seized
And citizens and people going in,
Of whom I justly sang the praise, he burned

Milton S. Terry revised translation


Why did they call Rome 'Babylon'?

While we do not know when exactly the symbolic name was attached to Rome (certainly after AD 70, but possibly not until the 80s or 90s), the reason behind the identification of Rome with Babylon in all of the above instances is clearly because Rome, like Babylon, was responsible for the destruction of a temple in Jerusalem.


First Peter 5.13

Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark.

There is no known tradition in early Christian history that places Peter at the actual city of Babylon in the Middle East. In the first century, Babylon was in ruins, so any excursion there would have been pointless to the evangelistic efforts otherwise described for Peter.

In 1 Clement 5, a church overseer writing from Rome about 95 AD, groups the death of Peter and Paul into a single paragraph. Some see in this an implication that Peter was associated with Rome, but the author could simply be naming two of the most famous apostles. The first explicit reference that Peter was associated with Rome, is Ignatius to the Romans 2.6, written about a decade or two after 1 Clement.

Critical scholars date 1 Peter to the late first century. The convergence of this information is that 'Babylon' in 1 Peter 5.13 likely also refers to Rome.


The Revelation of John

Revelation 17 identifies Babylon as 'the great city' which sits on 'seven mountains' or 'hills'.1 John was writing circa AD 95, and has identified his primary audience as Christians living in Asia, so we are well within the realm of the Roman empire. The simplest explanation is that this 'city of seven hills' was intended clear identification of Rome, since the city was widely known by such a nickname.2

Adding to this, imperial coins minted circa AD 71 depicted Roma, the goddess personifying Rome, as seated on the city's seven hills. Casting the goddess seated on seven hills as a 'prostitute' would have been a strong criticism of the city.

Vespasian, Sestertius minted AD 71

Image source: icollector.com.

Even aside from the Revelation being contemporary literature to 1 Peter, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch, the Revelation contains anti-imperial symbolism elsewhere in the book, strongly substantiating that the prostitute is a criticism of Rome.


Conclusion

Bearing in mind the historical context, the agreement of contemporary sources, and internal indications, it is very certain 'Babylon' refers to Rome, in both 1 Peter and the Revelation.


Notes

1 The Greek noun, ορος, most often means 'mountain', but can be used for 'hill'.

2 Cicero to Atticus, letter 6.5; Virgil, Georgics 2.535; Virgil, Aeneid 6.781-783; Sextus Propertius, Elegies 3.11.55-57; Horace, Secular Hymn 7,11; Ovid, Tristia 5.69; Martial, Epigrams 4.64; Sibylline Oracles 2.19; 11.145-154; 13.61; 14.138.

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  • 1
    Great answer. It might be worth noting that there are still people arguing for an earlier date though I'm not among them. Jan 4 '14 at 9:20
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The preponderance of the evidence appears to show that this is a reference to Rome.

John AT Robinson provided a helpful summary of supporting evidence that "Babylon" is a reference to Rome. (see p. 136 here)

The 'greetings from her who dwells in Babylon, chosen by God like you' (5.13) is almost universally agreed to be a disguise for the church in Rome. The pseudonym is indisputable in the book of Revelation (14.8; 16.19; 17.5; 18.2, 10, 21) as it is in other late-Jewish and Christian writings (II Bar.10.1f; 11.1; 67.7; II Esd.3.1f., 28, 31; Orac. Sib.5. 143, 159f.), and it was so understood here as early as Papias. [Eusebius, HE 2.15.]

This includes not only Papias, who was acquainted with 1st generation Christians, but also shows the wealth of Jewish literature supporting the conclusion.

That "Babylon" was a type or symbol for wickedness, wicked people, or wicked places has a long history in Jewish writings. See, for example, Isaiah 14, which compares the king of Babylon to Lucifer himself.

We have 1st century sources that indicate that both Peter & Mark spent time in Rome (e.g. 1 Clement for Peter, Pauline epistles for Mark). We have no such evidence that they were ever in Babylon. This does not mean they never traveled there; it just means we have evidence supporting one conclusion but not the other.

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  • Very Good answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Feb 12 at 21:16
  • I have heard someone in modern times use exactly the same expression when speaking of London, calling it 'Babylon'. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 12 at 21:36
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The following text was originally part of my question. But it was pointed out that I really was answering my own question. What I really want is that this answer is to be supplemented with other views that from an academic point of view argue that this might be referring to something else than Rome.


Many scholars take this as referring to Rome for a good reason. It also makes sense looking at 1 Peter:

13She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. (1 Peter 5:13, NIV)

NET Bible notes says:

...Although in the OT the city of Babylon in Mesopotamia was the seat of tremendous power (2 Kgs 24-25; Isa 39; Jer 25), by the time of the NT what was left was an insignificant town, and there is no tradition in Christian history that Peter ever visited there. On the other hand, Christian tradition connects Peter with the church in Rome, and many interpreters think other references to Babylon in the NT refer to Rome as well...

It's also easy to see that Rome had a lot in common with Babylon: Both the Roman and Babylonian empire was big empires. They both destroyed the temple of Jerusalem. There were a lot of wealth in them. They did bad things to the Jews etc.

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In the Christian New Testament, "Babylon" is metonymy for Gentile world power.

According to the Hebrew Bible, Babylon was the first Gentile world power to enter the stage of world history when the visible theocratic kingdom on earth ended. That is, the Shekinah Glory, which had resided in the temple up until that point of time, had been the locus of the visible kingdom of God on earth. That glory departed the temple as the Babylonian Empire emerged (compare Ezek 10:4 with Ezek 10:18 with Ezek 11:23). Thus the kingdoms of man, glorified by this head of gold (Dan 3:32-35 compared with 1 Cor 11:6-7 and Heb 2:6-7, where the head is equated with authority), had displaced the glory of God on earth. Thus Babylon began the domination of the Gentiles over the visible theocratic authority of God on the earth -- ergo, the Babylonian Captivity. The following graph depicts this development between the visible and invisible kingdoms of God and man on earth.

v

Please note that as time has gone by, subsequent Gentile world powers have entered and left the scene of world history: each of these empires, like the head of gold, are represented by other elements of the earth (iron, bronze, clay), which become more unstable with time (since the image with the head of gold is top-heavy), and therefore will one day be destroyed by the power that comes down from heaven (Dan 2:44). Note that according to the Christian New Testament, the Shekinah Glory (Spirit of God) indwells the body of those believers on Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:19-20), and so the authority of God prevails on these persons, upon whose hearts are supposed to be written the law of God according to Rom 2:14-16, 2 Cor 3:2-3, and Heb 10:16.

So to what is "Babylon" referring in the Christian New Testament? The reference is to the locus of Gentile world power with direct political and military authority over the Promised Land. At the time of the writing of the Christian New Testament, that world power was the Roman Empire, whose "capital" (or HEAD) was Rome.

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  • +1 from me. You drew that chart yourself?
    – Dan
    Jan 5 '14 at 23:31
  • @GoneQuiet - the Mosaic Covenant was not eternal, but temporal according to Jer 31:27-34. Please note that in Jer 31:33 the law is written on hearts. If you want to see the fourth (or fifth) temple, please click here.
    – Joseph
    Jan 6 '14 at 1:11
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    This could be a good answer if you left out the replacement theology and focused on the metonymy. Jan 9 '14 at 18:38
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The typical view that Rome is both the harlot and the beast has several flaws and is not scriptural.

First, the name Babylon was on the forehead of the harlot that sat on top of the beast.

Rev. 17:3,

"3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns." (KJV)

The woman was distinct from the beast; she was not the beast. It was the beast that was full of names of blasphemy that had seven heads and ten horns. The woman did not have seven heads and ten horns, only the beast did.

Rev. 17:4,

"4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:" (KJV)

This same description is echoed again in Rev. 18:16, clearly identifying the woman as the great city,

"and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!"

The woman riding the beast was the same as "that great city", which is also identified in Rev. 11:8,

"8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." (KJV)

Which is confirmed in Rev. 17:18,

"Rev. 17:18, "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (KJV)

Therefore, the woman was "that great city" or "the great city", which was also Jerusalem.

Purple and scarlet are royal adornments, also often associated with great wealth. The gold and precious stones and pearls also signify money. The woman / Jeruslaem was full of fornication. Fornication is when a woman, or a man has sex outside of marriage. To be accused of fornication implies adultery for a married woman.

Rev. 17:5,

" And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth."

The name Babylon was on the woman's forehead, not on the beast's forehead. In the very same title, she was called symbolically a "harlot". A harlot sells herself for money, which is the wealth she is adorned with in verse 4. The woman has sold herself for money, thereby committing fornication.

The woman was riding, or directing the beast. Rev. 17:7 says that the beast was carrying the woman. They were separate entities. The scriptures positively identified the woman as the city of Jerusalem, but we need to search OT scriptures to know why she wore the title of Babylon.

Rev. 17:16,

"16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire." (KJV)

That the ten horns were going to share power (receive authority) one hour with the beast (Rev. 17:12) was symbolic of lesser authority than kings / heads. But, they still had some power. That they hated the whore (the same harlot that sat on top of them) again indicates that the woman was not of the beast.

The woman was not part of the beast, but was using the beast for her own purposes. The analogy is that of a rider that rides a horse, and directs its path.

The woman sat upon seven mountains (Rev. 17:9). The woman sat on a beast that had seven heads and ten horns (vs. 7). The woman also sat upon many waters which were many people of different nations and languages (tongues) (vs. 15). And, the woman was "that great city."

As the woman was not the beast, and as many scholars agree that the beast was the old Roman empire, then the woman was a different entity from Rome.

Much of Rev. c. 17 remembers the prophesy of the destruction of Babylon in Jer. c. 51.

Jer. 51:7,

" Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad." (KJV)

The idolatry of Babylon had been spread throughout the surrounding lands. This is echoed in Rev. 17:2.

Jer. 51:13,

" O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness." (KJV)

Jer. 51:42,

"42 The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof."

This was often a meme of destruction in prophetic language... being flooded with the "waters" of the armies of foreign nations.

By putting the name of Babylon upon the woman, Christ was comparing the woman's sins to those of Babylon whom God had previously judged and destroyed. By naming the woman with the name of a destroyed city, Christ was spelling out her desolation.

The great city -Jerusalem - was called Sodom and Egypt, and also Babylon because all three of those cities were associated with the destruction that came upon them for their wickedness and idolatry. Being called the same names convicted Jerusalem of the same wickedness. As Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon had been destroyed, so was Jerusalem going to be destroyed / desolated.

Rev. 11:8 identifies the great city (Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon) as the one where "our Lord was crucified".

Christ was not crucified in Rome, but in Jerusalem. It was Jerusalem that was guilty of fornication, of being an adulteress and had already been accused of adultery by playing the harlot and cheating on her husband - God.

Jer. 13:27,

" I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?"

Jer. 19:8-9,

"8 And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof.

9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them." (KJV)

Jer. 22:8-9, speaking against Jerusalem,

"8 And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city?

9 Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them."

Jer. 23:14-15,

"14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

15 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land."

Ezekiel's message was even more clear.

Ezek. 23:3-4,

"And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.

4 And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah." (KJV)

Ezek. 23:17,

"17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them." (KJV)

Ezek. 23:22-23,

"22 Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side;

23 The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them riding upon horses." (KJV)

Just as in Ezekiel, it was Jerusalem that was the whore of Babylon, not Rome.

It was Jerusalem that used Rome to crucify our Lord and Savior. It was Jerusalem that used the Romans to persecute the Christians. It was Jerusalem that was "the great city" where our Lord was crucified. It was Jerusalem that was compared with Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon for their wickedness. It was Jerusalem, who had been married [covenanted] to God, not Rome. Only Jerusalem / Judea had had a covenant with God which they broke in adultery.

Rome was not covenanted with God, and could not then be accused of fornication nor adultery.

Matt. 23:37-38,

"37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." (KJV)

Rev. 18:3,

"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."

Rev. 18:18-19,

"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." (KJV)

The "great city" throughout all of Revelation is the same "great city" - Jerusalem. The woman riding the beast was the great city where Christ was crucified - Jerusalem. Therefore, the woman who was the whore of Babylon was Jerusalem, just as she had been in Ezekiel.

It was the destruction of Jerusalem that was prophesied in Revelation, just as it had been in Ezekiel and Jeremiah. She was the one that had killed the prophets (Matt. 23:37) and in which was found the blood of the prophets and the saints (Rev. 18:24).

See more at my blog ShreddingTheVeil in the posts "The Whore of Babylon", and all ten parts of "It's Not The End of The World" and all 8 parts of "The Signs of Revelation."

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  • 1
    +1; Gina - I completely agree in your conclusion that the texts indicate Jerusalem. However, because of the length, maybe it could help if you had a small summary at the top including your citation to Revelation 11:8? Nov 20 '17 at 22:31
  • @elika, I had to think about how to rearrange the flow in order to move Rev. 11:8 closer to the top. Is this better?
    – Gina
    Nov 22 '17 at 8:31
  • Gina - Thanks. I am not sure rearranging it is necessary, but it is helpful for me - and maybe for others to see how all of your other points connect. Thanks! It's just that THE one verse representing your conclusion is the only one not presented as a verse, or emphasized in some way. Nov 25 '17 at 17:50
  • Gina I'm deeply impressed with the kind of answers you are able to provide. I've being going through your numerous answers and I couldn't help but upvote about four times. A great Bible student you are.
    – user20490
    Dec 20 '17 at 0:26
  • Thank you, user20490. I do try to stay only within God's word.
    – Gina
    Dec 20 '17 at 0:36
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Babylon as a Codeword for Rome

St. Peter appears to be using code for Rome (where according to tradition he was martyred, as with St. Paul: cf. Acts 23:11), inasmuch as Rome was the center of Christian persecution, and would be for centuries to come), and there was every reason to conceal the location of the leader of the Christian Church (as tradition makes him: cf. Matthew 16:18/an interesting allusion to Daniel 2 which involves Babylon too, making the connection between Peter and Rome even more interesting in this context).

"Babylon [is] ... the great city which hath reign over the kings of the earth"

In the book of Revelation (Chapter 18), St. John sees a symbolic vision of "Babylon," represented by a "woman," whom he has, by the angel explicitly, identified for him as "the great city which hath reign over the kings of the earth." A clear reference to Rome which both at that time and for centuries to come, had the then known world in its grasp. In addition, the city - or rather "the woman" - sits on "seven mountains." Rome was famously built on seven hills.1 "The woman" is "drunk with the blood of the saints" which would best be applied to the Roman persecution and martyrdom of Christians at the hands of the Roman Empire for centuries, because it has never been paralleled2 — yet.

Under the Emperor Vespasian, circa 70AD, a coin featuring Rome as a woman sitting on seven hills was current. St. John wrote Revelation circa 90AD. He would have to be going out of his way to confuse the reader by alluding to this image while this coin was common knowledge, unless he intended his readers to be aware of the connection. (This doesn't mean the vision of the woman/Rome/Babylon must be limited to the city of Rome).

enter image description here

"As doth my son Mark"

According to unanimous early Christian tradition,3 this is the Mark who wrote the Gospel of the same name - his secretary or companion (i.e. not his literal son, but spiritual son).4 And the Latinisms of this Gospel are widely recognized.5 In fact, the Latinisms are so pervasive that some have even argued Mark was originally written in Latin6 - an unlikely (yet not impossible) theory.


1 Cf. 1 Timothy 1:2

2 Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire - Wikipedia

3 Seven hills of Rome - Wikipedia

4 Is Mark’s Gospel an Early Memoir of the Apostle Peter?

5 Latinisms in Mark’s Gospel

6 Proof that the Gospel of Mark was written in Latin. By David Bruce Gain.

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Babylon The Great in Revelation has one notable influence therein which is noted as:- Revelation 18:23 "No light of a lamp will ever shine in you again, and no voice of a bridegroom and of a bride will ever be heard in you again; for your merchants were the top-ranking men of the earth, and by your spiritistic practices all the nations were misled."

As "spiritistic practices" are condemned in the Bible as Demonic etc., and as it is noted in the texts that's its a world wide influence over commerce (merchants) and world leaders (top ranking men) this must stand for the influence of world wide religion the God does not approve of as only three things run the world Religion, Politics, Business.

Babylon The Great therefore must be the world wide empire (hence calling it Great, as in size and influance) of religions that do not please God.

ethos

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The answer to this question depends on one's eschatology.

  • Preterists (many not all) believe that Babylon of Revelation 17 is the same Babylon of 1 Peter 5:13
  • Historicists suggest that both refer to Rome - 1 Peter 5:13 is literal Rome and Revelation's Babylon is the end-time coalition called spiritual Rome composed of the Beast Trinity of the Dragon, the sea beast and the land beast
  • Dispensationalists and futurists vary widely on this point but still subscribe to a number of variation of the Historicist position.

In any case, 1 Peter 5:13, most agree, is literal Rome but Rev 17 is discussing a religious power, either Rome in 1st century (preterists) or an end-time religious power that persecutes the saints.

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Of the views available, three main ones stand out in current interpretation.

Literal Babylon

First, is that Babylon refers to the literal Babylon. This seems unlikely because, as many point out, Babylon at the time of the New Testament was relatively unimportant. Certain futurist eschatologies hold that the the city will be completely re-built sometime in the future, and thus fulfill the prophesies itself.

While not particuarly backed by other Scriptures, adherents tend to take a "wait and see" approach. Their claim is that the text simply means what it says.

Jerusalem

Other Eschatologies, particularly those of the preterist persuasion, hold that Babylon typifies Jerusalem. This is especially important for those holding to the "full-preterist" position, which claims that ALL Biblical prophecy is completely fulfilled already, as well as the recapitulation viewpoint, which holds that Revelation 12ff is simply repeating the same prophecy of Revelation 6-11 with different emphasis and viewpoint.

To support this view, writers often comment on the usage of the same phrase "the great city" in both Revelation 11:8 and Revelation 17:18. For those who need

Rome

And, the remaining primarily viewpoint is that Babylon is Rome. The primary Biblical rationale of this comes from Daniel 2 itself. Four successive world-ruling powers are depicted, starting with literal Babylon as the head of gold, and concluding with the legs of iron (with feet of mixed iron/clay). As many identify this fourth kingdom with Rome in some form or another, the implication is that "what you call the head, you call the foot". Since, in the dream, the four materials constituted all the same statue, with Nebuchadnezzar as the head, all four kingdoms constitute the same entity, which by way of identification, could then all be called Babylon. Hence, Babylon was Babylon, Media-Persia was Babylon, Greece was Babylon, and, finally, Rome was as well. As these constituded a single ruling power, continuous segements of a one-world government ruling over the entire Earth for the span of nearly 1,000 years, these would then be all viewed as one, symbolically and/or spiritually.

The indication of the phrase "The Great City", implicating Jersualem, however, is deemed insufficient. In Revelation 11:8, it is "the great city wherin their Lord was crucified", and in Revelation 17:18, it is "the great city that rules over the kings of the Earth". Clearly, "the great city" is not the entire phrase, and such a reduction seems ulterior.

Additionally, the typology of Revelation 17 would have been interpreted by the original audience as Rome, without much doubt. Rome was known as "the city of seven hills", and coins were minted of the "dea Roma", the goddess 'Rome' (whose name backwards spelled amor--love), with her seated upon those seven hills, beside waters (presumably, the Tiber). Additionally, according to Wikipedia, she 'personified the city', as well as 'civilization itself'. Clearly this was a type known to the time.

As this would have been the clear first-century expectation, it seems to be the plausible one, at least on the basis of this evidence (which, of course, does not inherently rule out the others).

Another Possible Variation

Hence, as another possible alternative to the meaning of Babylon. As John first sees the harlot in Revelation 17, later identified as "Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots", this could very well be an identification of this 'diety', the 'dea Roma'. As she was to be said to 'personify the city', to say that she 'was the great city that rules over the kings of the Earth', would be correct. Additionally, this would explain why she is said to be riding the beast, where the beast would have been the Emperor and/or the Empire itself.

If this were the case, Babylon is the city, but the harlot labeled as 'Babylon the Great', were this persona, it would clear up other difficulties in interpreting Revelation 17, such as how she rides the beast (the nation), why the beast hates her, and will destroy her with fire.

Essentially, this goddess would be the primary principality (heavenly ruling spirit, Ephesians 6:12) of the captial city of the then "one-world government", the Roman Empire. Quite conceivably, as all four kingdoms depicted in Daniel 2 constitute only one unit (the statue), and as this diety could be said to personify 'civilization itself', this entity could be seen as to be the common-thread between them all, first empowered through Nebuchadnezzar, ruling through Media-Persia, Greece, through Augustus, and to the end of Rome. Taking a further step out in speculative interpretation, it could be suggested that it might be the same 'woman' (called 'wickedness') from Zechariah 5, brought from Israel to Babylon. In round-about manner, then, what is "Babylon the Great" could be what many would generally term 'Jezebel' today. Deported from Israel after being enthroned, only to rule them from a higher level through the successive forms of Babylon. Hence, she truly is "mother of prostitutes and the abominations of the Earth".

This, then, allows the differentiation in the passage of why the beast and ten horns would have hated the harlot. As the 'dea Roma' was often worshipped side-by-side with the emperor himself, nothing would make a luciferian-inspired world-ruling narcissistic dictator hate more effectively, than to have a jezebellian diety worshipped along side, and often, in preference, to himself, and that in his own temples.

Aspects of this could also help to explain John's 'astonishment' at seeing her. At having the ruling spirit of the current world-government exposed, John is astonished. The angel then asks why he is astonished. As if, perhaps, by some prior introduction, he should have understood.

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  • @user6152 - "The indication of the phrase "The Great City", implicating Jersualem, however, is deemed insufficient. In Revelation 11:8, it is "the great city wherin their Lord was crucified", and in Revelation 17:18, it is "the great city that rules over the kings of the Earth". This is a great counter-argument, but it does not take into account that this is a prophecy - of the future - about a "false messiah" and "Israel". So, it is entirely consistent that both aspects could apply to Jerusalem. And, you would still have to explain "wherein the Lord was crucified" - if about Rome. Nov 20 '17 at 22:35
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BABYLON THE GREAT

What does she represent?

Characteristics of Babylon the Great

Verses are from the book of Revelation chapters 17 and 18 NASB

THE HARLOT IS SITTING ON MANY WATERS , THAT ARE PEOPLES , MULTITUTES ,NATIONS AND RACES.

17:1 "Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters". 17:15“The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues."

THE KINGS OF THE EARTH HAVE COMMITTED ADULTERY WITH HER.

17:2,3 "With whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” 3 And he carried me away [a]in the spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns."

RICH , POWERFUL, INFLUENTIAL

17:4,5 "The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and [b]adorned with gold and precious [c]stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, 5 and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."

PERSECUTED THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST.

17:6,7 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the [d]saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered [e]greatly. 7 And the angel said to me, “Why [f]do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns."

THE TEN HORNS AND THE BEAST WILL BRING HER TO RUIN AND LEAVE HER NAKED.

17:16 "And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. 17 For God has put it in their hearts to execute His [i]purpose [j]by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled."

A KINGDOM THAT RULES OVER THE KINGS OF THE EARTH.

17:18 The woman whom you saw is the great city, which [k]reigns over the kings of the earth.”

A DWELLING PLACE FOR DEMONS ,MERCHANTS SHARE IN HER WEALTH.

18:2,3“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a [m]prison of every unclean spirit, and a [n]prison of every unclean and hateful bird. 3"For all the nations [d]have drunk of the wine of the [e]passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the [f]wealth of her [g]sensuality.”

LAMENT FOR BABYLON.

18:9 “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived [l]sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning,"

18:10 " Standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come."

18:11 “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more—

18:12 "Cargoes of gold and silver and precious [m]stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and [n]bronze and iron and marble.

GREAT MEN AND NATIONS DECEIVED BY HER SPIRITUALISM

18:23 "And the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery."

BABYLON CONDEMNED BY GOD.

20 "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you [w]saints and apostles and prophets, because God has [x]pronounced judgment for you against her.” 23b "because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. "

CONCLUSION:

Some say that it is Babylon, others say it is Rome, those empires have ceased long time ago, and the prophesy has its fullfilment in the future. Babylon the Great , called the "Great City", "the harlot" , is said to be sitting on peoples, nations and multitutes, therefore it cannot be a literal woman, so what does this symbolic "Babylon the Great " represents?. The fact that she is called the "great city" and has a kingdom that rules over the kings of the earth ,indicates that she has power, weath and influence over them, on a world wide basis. The harlot is also said, to be dressed in scalet and purple clothing , and that she is adorned in expensive jewelry, obviously she has amassed shameless wealth.

She is called "the harlot", why?. When the Israelites were leaving Egypt ,God warned them not to seek the friensdship or make alliances with the neighbouring nations as this would lead them to worship other Gods. This was called harlotry. (Ezek. chapt. 23 Deut. 12:30-31) By persuing alliances and friendships with the kings of the earth, Babylon has commited spiritual adultery. Todays Christianity is not the same as in Paul's day, Christianity today has been paganised by the adoption of Babylonian, Egyptian and Hellenistic beliefs , philosophies and practises. For example the immortality of the soul , goes against all Bible teachings of resurrection, and gehenna has been paganised into a fiery place of torment, called "hell". (Matthew 18:9 Mark 9:43,45, 47) The name "Easter" comes from the Babylonian goddess of fertility "Ishtar",many Easter customs have been adopted from these pagan nations, which also carried out ritual sex acts, with the temple prostitutes.

God disloses how to worship him, not man. “ Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it." Deut. 12:32 ( NASB)

Likewise today, God warns people that want from their heart to worship him, in spirit and in truth, to come out .

“‘Come out of her, my people,’[b]so that you will not share in her sins,so that you will not receive any of her plagues;" Rev.18:4.

James wrote :" You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God". James 4:4( NASB.)

NOT A POLITICAL OR COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE.

Evidence to her identity is that she is sitting on a scarlet beast, ( The beast represents political powers and kingdoms, Daniel chapter 7 and 8) with ten horns, and that God has put in the heart of the beast to attack and devastate and burn her up, showing that she will never rise again. Since both the Kings and their friends the mechants mourn for her, and stand a long way off, because they are afraid of sharing in her suffering , this indicates that Babylon is not represented by either the political or the commercial empires of the world.

RELIGIOUS IDENTITY.

An indication as to her religious idendity is that God has pronounced judgement on Babylon ,the charges against her is that she has misled all the nations with her spiritism. Spiritism is religiously inspired, Babylon has filled the hearts of millions of people with fear,of demons, superstitions, sorcery, fear of the dead, evils spirits and everlasting punishment in a fiery torment. As a result , people rush to buy, good luck charms, amulets, and do rites to protect themselves.

Another fact indicating her religious identity , is that she has also been accused by God of persecuting and killing the followers of Christ and that she has become a dwelling for demons and every unclean spirit .

For example:

William Tyndale was persecuted, for wanting to have the Bible translated in the common language of the people .He was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned".( Wikipedia)

Also,John Wycliffe was persecuted for teaching bible truths.He was declared a heretic long after his death , his bones were exhumed, burned and the ashes cast into the River Swift.

It is reasonable now to conclude that "Babylon the Great" represents the religions of the world ,which have sought friendship and alliances with the beast, the beast represents all the political powers of the world . It also includes religions which opposed God and used spiritism to mislead people away from worshiping Him, in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24 NASB.)

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I personally believe that Babylon in the new testament is what the world became after jesus Christ and the demise of the apostles it fell into Babylonian ways of adultery debourchery lies and not listening exactly to god or his people, many think that Babylon is all churches making people drink wine etc that they have not followed gods laws and have become entangled by politics that eventually politics will strip religion bare and that would be Babylon the greats destruction. Yes eventually even the Jews who are not Jews and those who claim they did great things in the name of jesus Christ will not be actually acknowledged by jesus Christ as he says I do not know you, please read all the bible not just segments and play judge as it is forbidden to do that especially adding to scriptures and taking away from the scriptures it is purely wrong.

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  • Will you show "Babylon in the new testament is what the world became after jesus Christ and the demise of the apostles it fell into Babylonian ways" from the text?
    – colboynik
    Oct 3 '18 at 17:38
  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. The above is a well expressed opinion but is based on no references to support it. Neither is any reasoning provided. Please take the tour to see what is need for a good answers.
    – user25930
    Nov 5 '18 at 8:31
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1 Peter 5:13 Berean Study Bible

The church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, as does my son Mark.

There is a wide diversity of opinion about the interpretation of "Babylon". However, there are two dominant possibilities.

According to Matthew Poole:

The church that is at Babylon; Babylon in Chaldea, where it is most probable the apostle was at the writing of this Epistle; the Jews being very numerous in those parts, as having settled themselves there ever since the captivity, and Peter being an apostle of the circumcision, his work lay much thereabout.

Bengel gives more evidence that it is Babylon of Chaldea:

1 Peter 5:13. Ἐν Βαβυλῶνι, in Babylon) This was Babylon of the Chaldeans, which abounded with Jews. See Lightfoot, Hor. on 1 Cor., p. 269. From the prospect (point of view) afforded by this Babylon there follows the series of countries:[43] ch. 1 Peter 1:1, note.—ΣΥΝΕΚΛΕΚΤῊ, elect together with) Thus he appears to speak of his wife; comp. ch. 1 Peter 3:7; for she was a sister, 1 Corinthians 9:5; and the mention of his son Mark agrees with this.

Catholics and many others think that it figuratively refers to Rome.

Meyer's NT Commentary

According to Eusebius (H. E. c. 15), Papias already was of opinion that the name Babylon is here used figuratively, and that by it Rome is to be understood. The same view is adopted by Clemens Alex., Hieronymus, Oecumenius, Beda, Luther, and by most of the Catholic interpreters;[289] in more recent times by Thiersch, Ewald, Hofmann, Wiesinger, Schott, etc. The principal reasons brought forward in support of this view are—(1) The tradition of the primitive church, which speaks of the apostle’s stay in Rome, but makes no mention of his having lived in Babylon; (2) The designation of Rome as Babylon in Revelation, chap. Revelation 14:8, Revelation 18:2; Revelation 18:10; (3) The banishment of the Jews from Babylon in the time of the Emperor Claudius, according to Joseph. Ant. i. 18, c. 12. But these reasons are not conclusive

Is this same Babylon in Revelation?

Yes, according to this view.

I prefer the 1st interpretation myself that 1 Peter 5:13 refers to the Babylon of Chaldea.

The Babylon in Revelation 14:8 symbolizes Rome.

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  • 1
    If this is the Babylon from Revelation, which there is seen in a wicked light, why would "she" be sending greetings to the Christians to whom Peter is addressing this letter?
    – agarza
    Feb 12 at 16:19
  • Good question. You have pointed out a weakness of this interpretation.
    – Tony Chan
    Feb 12 at 16:32
  • Babylon in Revelation is not a literal place.....the book of Revelation is talking in prophetic metaphorical terms. It refers to apostacy and the beast. It is calling Gods people out of apostasy (Babylon) back to him. Note vs 12 "Here is a call for the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." The apostates are those who pretend to, but do not genuinely keep the commandments of God or have the faith of Jesus. They are deceivers regarding truth...these are Babylon and they are closely aligned with the beast.
    – Adam
    Feb 12 at 21:34
  • Meyer's point is that Babylon in Revelation symbolizes Rome. The literal Babylon itself does not need to be physical.
    – Tony Chan
    Feb 12 at 21:42
  • @agarza Of course "the church at Rome" would be referring to the church at Rome, not Rome qua the persecutors of Christians. "Be of good courage; for as you have borne witness of me already in Jerusalem, so it behoves you to bear witness of me at Rome also." Feb 12 at 23:01
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Peter makes reference to Rome. It is possible that at some point he and Paul were together in the city and Peter had first hand access to Paul's epistles before they were sent to the churches as inferred in 2 Peter 3:16. Note that Paul was a Roman citizen, the only Roman within the apostles so he had no reason to hide. But Peter and John had good motives to use code words like "Elected Woman"(2 John 1:1), "My Son Mark"(1 Peter 5:13). Paul was clear and direct in his letters. The other apostles were more reserved and with the use of code words and phrases.

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If Revelation is figurative, so is every other prophecy ever written. Though writings contain figurative speech - similes and metaphors, they are still presenting literal facts and (future) events. If you do go down the road of a figurative interpretation, YOU become the arbiter of truth - which is quite dangerous.

Peter was never in Rome. Paul never mentioned him. Paul would have been building on another man’s foundation (which he said he would not do).

Peter was with Mark in Babylon of northern Egypt.

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  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    May 5 at 20:57
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Are the harlot, “Babylon the Great” from Rev. 17:5, and “Babylon” from 1 Peter 5:13 synonymous?

Probable Answer: Yes.

With respect, I am responding to this from an amillennial perspective. I do not claim to be an expert on the Book of Revelation, but I have learned a few things about biblical symbolism.

Apparently, that may be unpalatable to some, which seems a great shame. So be it: I accept that responsibility since I find the amillennial view to this highly symbolic work fascinating.


Somewhat recently, I encountered a few, those with whom I am in agreement doctrinally, state that the second half of Revelation is a reiteration of the first half. That is, if you believe the first half is speaking about Jerusalem, so then must the second half be. Conversely, others will argue that if the first half relates to Rome, then so too must the second.

This seems especially puzzling because it seems to me that the interpretation does not bear this out. There are (at least) two basic questions that disallow this approach in my opinion as I will try to demonstrate.

I. How are the following verses describing Jerusalem whatsoever? (Note that I am not proposing that Jerusalem is not in view in the Book):

Revelation 17:1b-5: “Come here, I [the angel] will show you [John] the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.” 3And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.

4The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, 5and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

First, it seems very clear to me that the "harlot" beginning in verse 1 is Rome, irrespective of your view of the first half of the Book. The city of Rome "sat on many waters," indeed it is surround by the sea. The reference to "kings of the earth" must surely be those who indulged Rome through their trade and economic cooperation (among other things). Many of them were no doubt subsequently rewarded for their services through receipt of idolatrous Roman abominations and decadent perversions.

I feel it is perfectly reasonable to view the meaning of "[those] who dwell on the earth were [drunk] with the wine of [the harlot's] immorality" as those nations in close partnership with Rome. Again, in verse 3, John sees this atrocious "woman" with seven heads and ten horns, the same woman, Rome -- "The City on Seven Hills", is being portrayed. Many of the inhabitants of Rome were wealthy beyond imagination (in their day), thus the reference to "being clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls." Their debauchery, based on some historical accounts, knew no limits.

II. Another nail in the coffin for me (against the view the Book is a reiteration of itself) seems to be this: the woman is called "Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots and abominations." Now, Jerusalem might be considered many things, but it is never referred to as "Babylon." The descriptions in these verses simply cannot apply to Judah and Jerusalem -- in my opinion.

Then, we should not overlook the fact that while in Rome, Peter makes this statement, referenced in the OP:

1 Peter 5:13: "She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my [Peter's] son, Mark."

It is unclear (to me) who "she" is here (not an expert: Mary?), but there is no mistaking Peter's reference to Rome as "Babylon."

Often, certain confusion arises by a passage much earlier in the Book:

Revelation 11:8: "And [the two witnesses' (Moses and Elijah: O/T)] dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified."

[NOTE: I have embedded my proposal that the two witnesses were Moses and Elijah, emblematic of the O/T Law. This can be seen through the power granted to them by God when they were alive:

Revelation 11:6: "These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying [Elijah]; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague [Moses]."]

Israel shamefully disregarded the Old Testament (Moses, Elijah) not being satiated by the murder of their own Messiah. The "bodies" of these witnesses symbolically lay in the streets because the degenerate Jewish nation had forsaken the power of God through them. Thus:

Revelation 11:10: "these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth."]

Now the passage of Revelation 11:8 above appears to confound many since, upon reading this, they are convinced the rest of the Book is solely about the nation of Israel and no other. However, there can be no doubt that the characterization: "Sodom and Egypt... where also their Lord was crucified" is representative of Israel, another nation of great sin described earlier in the Book.

It is a simple matter of fact that Christ was indeed crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem. I believe the Book should, therefore, be differentiated into two separate judgments: 1) that of Israel, and later 2) that of Rome. This is significant because it helps provide a more thorough interpretation that otherwise represents a great challenge to many.

These and other considerations, beyond the scope of this response that draw the two verses in the OP together, where "Babylon" in both instances is decidedly Rome. The repercussion of this leads me to conclude that (roughly) the first half of the Book of Revelation (chapters 6 through 11 or so) is describing the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70, while the second half (approx. chapters 13-19 or so) is describing judgment against Rome.

Perhaps the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 78 is partially in view in the latter chapters? Whatever the case, God brings judgment against Rome as well as (much earlier) Israel. It would have been easier if the passages under consideration occurred earlier in the Book for the purposes of this discussion.

For those who do have an interest in such symbolism, I have offered my 2¢ on the matter.

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I Peter 5:13

CITATIONS Notes
―I Pet. 5:13―
13The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
▷ "She" is rendered as "Church" in other translations.
―I Pet. 5:13 fn.―
"BABYLON: Rome. A metaphor probably founded on Jewish usage."
(The Holy Bible, Douay Version. Nihil Obstat: John M. Fearns, S.T.D., Imprimatur: Francis Cardinal Spellman, D.D., New York: C. Wildermann Co. Inc., 1950.)
(Reference)
▷ The term "Babylon" itself means "Rome".
―Rom. 16:16―
16Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
(Supporting)
▷ The Church had a congregation in Rome.
Conclusion: ► The Babylon in I Pet. 5:13 refers to one of the localities reached by the Church at that time.

Revelation 17:5

CITATIONS Notes
―Rev. 17:5―
5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
▷ Babylon the Great is a woman: a harlot.
―II Cor. 11:2―
2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
▷ The church built by Christ is also a woman: a chaste virgin.
Conclusion: ► Babylon the Great is the church opposite to the one built by Christ.

While the harlot bears the name of Rome, it is not Rome herself, but rather aligned with and seated on it. As we're told, the woman sits on a scarlet beast, who is made up of seven heads.

Rev. 17:3
3So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

The seven heads symbolize seven hills.

Rev. 17:9
9"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.
(The Holy Bible: New International Version. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Biblica, Inc. 2011.)

That which consists of seven hills is the ancient City of Rome.

New Ency. Britannica, Vol. 10, p. 665
"SEVEN HILLS OF ROME, group of hills on or about which the ancient city of Rome was built. The original city of Romulus was built upon Palatine Hill (Latin: Mons Palatinus). The other hills are the Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine ..."
(The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed. Micropaedia. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1976.)

Though seated in Rome, the harlot's breadth is universal, spanning many waters.

Rev. 17:1
1Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

The water symbolizes all the world's nations.

Rev. 17:15
15Then the angel spoke to me. “You saw the waters the prostitute sits on,” he said. “They stand for all the nations of the world, no matter what their race or language is.
(The Holy Bible. New International Reader’s Version. Colorado Springs, CO, USA: International Bible Society, 1998.)

The world's kings would give themselves over to her in fornication.

Rev. 17:2
2With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)
Rev. 18:3
3For 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.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

Rather than keeping herself for Christ, the harlot has entered a faithless union with heads of state. It is from these kings which the harlot would acquire power.

Rome, the Scarlet Beast, with whom the harlot is aligned, is itself among those heads of state―beasts symbolizing kings.

Dan. 7:17
17These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

This is where the path of the virgin and the harlot intersect: By the power acquired through the heads of state, the harlot will kill those loyal to Jesus.

Rev. 17:6
6And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God's people and the blood of those who were killed because they had been loyal to Jesus. When I saw her, I was completely amazed.
(Good News Bible: Today’s English Version. New York: United Bible Societies, 1992.)

Rome itself has killed Christians in the past, but what does the woman have to do with this?

The next part is sensitive in nature, and I know I'll lose most of you in the following paragraphs. But I write this not with the intention to offend.

I stated in the beginning that the harlot also refers to a church. It's important that we know how this church came to be.

It is forewarned that many Christians would fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.

I Tim. 4:1
1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

That which has become the habitation of devils and hold of foul spirits is Babylon the Great.

Rev. 18:2
2And 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.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

These are the Christians that fell away from the faith, who formerly were the dwelling place of God.

Let's review what we know about the woman.

  1. Her doctrines are of devils.
  2. Her breadth is universal.
  3. Her name is taken after Rome.
  4. Her bloodlust against those loyal to Jesus is enabled by her union with the State.

𝐈. She is that which heeded devilish doctrines. Two such doctrines:

  • Prohibition from marriage.
  • Commanding to abstain from meats.
I Tim. 4:3
3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
(The Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

The Catholic Church prohibits her ordained priests from marrying.

F. of Our Fathers, p. 345
"The discipline of the Church has been exerted from the beginning in prohibiting Priests to marry after their ordination."
(The Faith of our Fathers, by James Cardinal Gibbons, New York: P.J. Kennedy & Sons, 1917.)
Hist. Dict. of Cath., p. 91
"Celibacy. (From Lt caelebs, ‘unmarried.’) Abstention from marriage and sexual activity. ... A movement toward celibacy of the clergy is first seen in the early fourth century. ... It remains the norm of the Roman Rite: married men may not be ordained priests, though they may be ordained deacons. No one may marry after ordination."
(Historical Dictionary of Catholicism. By William J. Collinge. Second Edition. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2012.)

She commands her members to abstain from meat on certain days of the year.

M. of Chr. Doc., p. 317
"What does the second commandment of the Church order us to do?"
"It orders us to fast and to abstain from flesh meat on certain days of the year."
(Manual of Christine Doctrine: Comprising Dogma, Moral, and Worship. New York: Lasalle Bureau, 1949.)
C. of Canon Law, p. 173
"Canon 1251: Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday."
(The Code of Canon Law. Collins Liturgical Publications: Piccadilly, London, 1983.)

𝐈𝐈. She is universal in scope. The word Catholic is derived from the Greek word for universal.

Cath. Cat. II, p. 146
"The word ‘Catholic’ means ‘universal’, ‘extending all over the world’."
(Catholic Catechism, Part II. Imprimatur: Rufinus J. Cardinal Santos. Manila: Catholic Trade School, 1961.)
Hist. Dict. of Cath., p. 1
"“Catholic” comes from a Greek word meaning “universal” or “comprehensive.” ... as the Second Vatican Council says, ... “The unique church of Christ, which in the creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic ... subsists in the Catholic Church,"
(Historical Dictionary of Catholicism. By William J. Collinge. Second Edition. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2012.)

𝐈𝐈𝐈. She bears the name Rome and is seated therein. The name Roman Catholic is derived from the fact that the universal church is seated in Rome.

Cath. Cat. II, p. 146
"The Church is called Roman Catholic because its chief ruler is the lawful bishop of Rome."
(Catholic Catechism, Part II. Imprimatur: Rufinus J. Cardinal Santos. Manila: Catholic Trade School, 1961.)
Marks of the True Church (article from catholic-pages.com)
"The True Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. Only the Roman Catholic Church can validly claim all four marks."
(“Marks of the True Church.” catholic-pages.com. All original material, design and compilation © 1996-2007. www.catholic-pages.com. Retrieved 6 July 2016.)

𝐈𝐕. She would align herself with the State and kill those loyal to Jesus. In 800 A.D., the Roman Catholic Church aligned herself with the Roman Empire, availing for herself the power of physical force however desired.

M. World, p. 89
"Papacy and empire were to stand side by side, each supreme in its own sphere, the emperor being ever ready to support with physical force the spiritual government of the pope and to defend all the interests of the Church of God on earth."
"The great act of A.D. 800 in St. Peter's Basilica was the beginning of that intimate union between Church and State, which in spite of many shortcomings must ever be considered as the nearest realization of the true ideal relation between the two which the world has ever known."
(The Modern World. Rev. Francis S. Betten, S.J. and Rev. Alfred Kaufmann, S.J. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1942.)

In 1184 A.D., she used this power in creating the Papal or Universal Inquisition, which tortured and killed thousands of Christians who resisted the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

M. World, p. 344
"... the Church created a special tribunal, the Papal or Universal Inquisition. The essential features of its method were fixed by a set of laws passed jointly by Pope Lucius III and Emperor Barbarossa in 1184. The minor details had been added by 1230. Such spiritual courts of justice were established in localities most infected by erroneous teachings. ...
"The state, too, considered heresy as a crime, because it undermined the foundations of public welfare. The penalty fixed by the secular laws of heresy was death by fire."
(The Modern World. Rev. Francis S. Betten, S.J. and Rev. Alfred Kaufmann, S.J. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1942.)
T.A.T.I., p. 49 & 47
"‘The first law of history’, declared by Pope Leo XIII, as we mentioned previously, ‘is to assert nothing false and to have no fear of telling the truth’. In conformity with that wise principle, we frankly acknowledge the responsibility of the popes in the use of torture and in the burning of thousands of heretics at the stake."
"The Church in the person of her pontiffs was responsible for the use of torture; this cruel practice was introduced by Innocent IV in 1252. ...
"Neither can the Church escape responsibility for sending heretics to be burnt to death at the stake. The mere subterfuge of having the victim turned over to the secular arm cannot hide the fact that the popes repeatedly insisted under the pain of excommunication and interdict upon rulers enforcing the death penalty against heretics."
(The Truth About the Inquisition, by Rev. John A. O'Brien, Ph.D., LL.D., Nihil Obstat: Thomas E. Dillon, Imprimatur: John F. Noll, New York: Paulist Press, 1950.)

Babylon the Great refers to the Roman Catholic Church. As to what we're supposed to do with this information, the Bible tells us to come out so as to be saved.

Rev. 18:4 & 8
4And 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.
8Therefore 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 Holy Bible: King James Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962.)

As to where one should enter after that is an answer for a different question.

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