on Revelation 14 :8
Babylon is fallen, is fallen - This is generally understood to be a prediction concerning Rome; and it is certain that Rome, in the rabbinical writings, is termed Babylon.
That great city - Among the same writers this city is styled קרתא רבתא karta rabbetha, the great city; and רומי רבתא Romi rabbetha, the great Rome. But which Rome is meant? Pagan or Papal Rome? Some parts of the description apply best to the former.
The wine of the wrath of her fornication - There is an allusion here to a custom of impure women, who give philtres or love potions to those whom they wish to seduce and bind to their will; and these potions are generally of an intoxicating nature, greatly inflaming the blood, and disturbing the intellect.
Fornication and adultery are frequently used in Scripture as emblems of idolatry and false worship.
The wine of the wrath is another expression for the envenomed or poisoned cup given by such women.
No nation of the earth spread their idolatries so far as the ancient Romans; they were as extensive as their conquests. And papal Rome has been not less active in disseminating her superstitions. She has given her rituals, but not the everlasting Gospel, to most nations of the earth.
on Revelation 14 :8
And there followed another angel - That is, in the vision. It is not necessary to suppose that this would, in the fulfillment, succeed the other in time. The chapter is made up of a number of representations, all designed to illustrate the same general thing, and to produce the same general effect on the mind - that the gospel would be finally triumphant, and that, therefore, the hearts of the troubled and the afflicted should be comforted. The representation in this verse, bearing on this point, is, that Babylon, the great enemy, would fall to rise no more.
Babylon - This is the first time that the word "Babylon" occurs in this book, though it is repeatedly mentioned afterward, Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2, Revelation 18:10, Revelation 18:21. In reference to the literal Babylon, the word is used, in the New Testament, in Matthew 1:11-13; Acts 7:43; 1 Peter 5:13. See Intro. to 1 Peter, section 2. Babylon was a well-known city on the Euphrates (for a full description of which see the notes on Isaiah, analysis of chapters 13 and 14), and was, in the days of its pride and glory, the head of the pagan world. In reference to the meaning of the word in this place, it may be remarked:
(1) That the general characteristics of Babylon were, that it was proud, haughty, insolent, oppressive. It was chiefly known and remembered by the Hebrew people as a power that had invaded the Holy Land; that had reduced its capital and temple to ruins; that had destroyed the independence of their country, subjecting it to the condition of a province, and that had carried away the inhabitants into a long and painful captivity. It became, therefore, the emblem of all that was haughty and oppressive, and especially of all that persecuted the church of God.
(2) the word must be used here to denote some power that resembled the ancient and literal Babylon in these characteristics. The literal Babylon was no more; but the name might be properly used to denote a similar power. We are to seek, therefore, in the application of this, for some power that had the same general characteristics which the literal Babylon had.
(3) in inquiring, then, what is referred to here by the word "Babylon," we may remark:
(a) that it could not be the literal Babylon on the Euphrates, for the whole representation here is of something future, and the literal Babylon had long since disappeared, never, according to the prophecies, to be rebuilt. See the notes on Isaiah 13:20-22.
(b) All the circumstances require us to understand this of Rome, at some period of its history: for Rome, like Babylon, was the seat of empire, and the head of the pagan world; Rome was characterized by many of the same attributes as Babylon, being arrogant, proud, oppressive; Rome, like Babylon, was distinguished for its conquests, and for the fact that it made all other nations subject to its control; Rome had been, like Babylon, a desolating power, having destroyed the capital of the Holy Land, and burnt its beautiful temple, and reduced the country to a province. Rome, like Babylon of old, was the most formidable power with which the church had to contend. Yet.
(c) it is not, I suppose, Rome considered as pagan that is here meant, but Rome considered as the prolongation of the ancient power in the papal form. Alike in this book and in Daniel, Rome, pagan and papal, is regarded as one power, standing in direct opposition to the gospel of Christ, resisting its progress in the world, and preventing its final prevalence. See the notes on Daniel 7. When that falls, the last enemy of the church will be destroyed, and the final triumph of the true religion will be speedy and complete. See Daniel 7:26-27.
(d) So it was understood among the early Christians. Mr. Gibbon, speaking of the expectations of the early Christians about the end of the world, and the glory of the literal reign of the Messiah, says, "While the happiness and glory of a temporal reign were promised to the disciples of Christ, the most dreadful calamities were denounced against an unbelieving world. The edification of the New Jerusalem was to advance by equal steps with the destruction of the mystic Babylon; and as long as the emperors who reigned before Constantine persisted in the profession of idolatry, the epithet of Babylon was applied to the city and to the empire of Rome," vol. i. p. 263.
Is fallen - That is, an event appeared in vision as if a mighty city fell to rise no more.
Is fallen - This is repeated to give emphasis to the declaration, and to express the joyousness of that event.
That great city - Babylon in its glory was the largest city of the world. Rome, in its turn, also became the largest; and the expression used here denotes that the power here referred to would be properly represented by cities of their magnitude.
Because she made all nations drink of the wine - This language is probably taken from Jeremiah 51:7; "Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunk of the wine, therefore the nations are mad." Babylon here, in accordance with the usual custom of the sacred writers when speaking of cities (see the notes on Isaiah 1:8), is represented as a female - here a female of abandoned character, holding in her hand a cup of wine to attract her lovers; that is, she allures and intoxicates them. This is a beautiful image to denote the influence of a great and corrupt city, and especially a city corrupt in its religion and devoted to idolatry and superstition, and may well be applied either to Babylon or Rome, literal or mystical.
Of the wrath - There seems an incongruity in the use of this word here, and Prof. Stuart proposes to render it "the inflammatory wine of her fornication"; that is, inebriating wine - wine that excited the passions and that led to uncleanness. He supposes that the word here used - θυμός thumos - means "heat, inflammation," corresponding to the Hebrew חמה chēmaah There are no instances, however, in the New Testament in which the word is used in this sense. The common and proper meaning is mind, soul, then mind agitated with passion or under the influence of desire - a violent commotion of mind, as wrath, anger, indignation (Robinson, Lexicon). The ground of the representation here seems to be that Yahweh is often described as giving to the nations in his wrath an intoxicating cup so that they should reel and stagger to their destruction. Compare Jeremiah 25:15; Jeremiah 51:7. The meaning here is, that the nations had drunk of that cup which brought on the wrath of God on account of her "fornication." Babylon is represented as a harlot, with a cup of wine in her hand, and the effect of drinking that cup was to expose them to the wrath of God, hence, called "the wine of the wrath of her fornication" - the alluring cup that was followed by wrath on account of her fornication.
on Revelation 14 :8
14:8 And another angel followed, saying, Babylon is fallen - With the overthrow of Babylon, that of all the enemies of Christ, and, consequently, happier times, are connected. Babylon the great - So the city of Rome is called upon many accounts. Babylon was magnificent, strong, proud, powerful. So is Rome also. Babylon was first, Rome afterwards, the residence of the emperors of the world. What Babylon was to Israel of old, Rome hath been both to the literal and spiritual Israel of God. Hence the liberty of the ancient Jews was connected with the overthrow of the Babylonish empire. And when Rome is finally overthrown, then the people of God will be at liberty. Whenever Babylon is mentioned in this book, the great is added, to teach us that Rome then commenced Babylon, when it commenced the great city; when it swallowed up the Grecian monarchy and its fragments, Syria in particular; and, in consequence of this, obtained dominion over Jerusalem about sixty years before the birth of Christ. Then it began, but it will not cease to be Babylon till it is finally destroyed. Its spiritual greatness began in the fifth century, and increased from age to age. It seems it will come to its utmost height just before its final overthrow. Her fornication is her idolatry; invocation of saints and angels; worship of images; human traditions; with all that outward pomp, yea, and that fierce and bloody zeal, wherewith she pretends to serve God. But with spiritual fornication, as elsewhere, so in Rome, fleshly fornication is joined abundantly. Witness the stews there, licensed by the Pope, which are no inconsiderable branch of his revenue. This is fitly compared, to wine, because of its intoxicating nature. Of this wine she hath, indeed, made all nations drink - More especially by her later missions. We may observe, this making them drink is not ascribed to the beast, but to Babylon. For Rome itself, the Roman inquisitions, congregations, and Jesuits, continually propagate the idolatrous doctrines and practices, with or without the consent of this or that Pope, who himself is not secure from their censure.