|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:17-21 The seventh and last angel poured forth his vial, and the downfal of Babylon was finished. The church triumphant in heaven saw it and rejoiced; the church in conflict on earth saw it and became triumphant. God remembered the great and wicked city; though for some time he seemed to have forgotten her idolatry and cruelty. All that was most secure was carried away by the ruin. Men blasphemed: the greatest judgments that can befal men, will not bring to repentance without the grace of God. To be hardened against God, by his righteous judgments, is a certain token of sure and utter destruction.
Verse 19. - And the great city. The words which follow, as well as Revelation 11:8; Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:18; Revelation 18:10, 16, etc., leave scarcely any doubt that the "great city" here is Babylon. These are the only passages in the Apocalypse where this title is found; for in Revelation 21:10, "great" is not the true reading. Was divided into three parts. The signification of this clause is somewhat uncertain. The idea is probably that of total destruction, as in Ezekiel 5:2, where a similar description is applied to Jerusalem. Possibly there is a reference to the trinity of evil mentioned in ver. 13. And the cities of the nations fell. The nations signifies the ungodly, who stand in the same relation to the godly as the Gentiles to God's chosen people (cf. Revelation 11:18, etc.). This sentence declares the fall of every lesser form of evil, together with the greater typical form symbolized by" the great city." And great Babylon came in remembrance before God; and Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God (Revised Ver-tion). Cf. the title of "great city" (vide supra). Cf. also the similar expression in Acts 10:31. This clause, together with the following one, taken in conjunction with the preceding and succeeding verses, must be referred to the great judgment day. To give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. This is the beginning of the fulfilment of the doom predicted by the angel in Revelation 14:10. The judgment is more elaborately described in Revelation 18.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the great city was divided into three parts,.... By which is meant not Christendom, distinguished into Protestants, Papists, and neutrals, which has been long the case; nor the city of Jerusalem, as inhabited by Christians, Jews, and Turks; nor the city of Rome itself, the seat of the beast, which will have suffered under the fifth vial; but the whole Romish jurisdiction, which is the great city, that reigns over the kings of the earth, as it will now be; though some think the Turkish empire is meant, which they suppose was only afflicted under the preceding vial, but will now be divided into three parts, and afterwards into six, Ezekiel 39:1 and so come to ruin; and others are of opinion that it is included in this great city at least; and doubtless the remains of it are to be taken into this account, and probably are considered in the following clause; wherefore it is better to understand this of the Romish jurisdiction, so often called the great city in this book, Revelation 11:8 and its division into three parts is either in reference to the three heads of it, the dragon, beast, and false prophet, or to the three unclean spirits that come out of them, which will lead on to this ruin; though the allusion seems rather to be to the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 5:2 and denotes the utter ruin of the Romish antichrist, in all its branches and remains; a tenth part of this city will fall towards the close of the sixth trumpet, Revelation 11:13 and now all the other nine parts will fall, a threefold division will be made of the city, each division containing three parts: the Jews (e) have a prophecy, that upon an appearance of a star at Rome, which they suppose will be when the Messiah comes, the three upper walls of that city will fall, and the great temple, or church (St. Peter's), will fall, and the governor of that city (the pope) will die:
and the cities of the nations fell; of the Pagans and Mahometaus; or as there will be an utter extirpation of the Papacy, so of Paganism and Mahometanism, in the several nations where they have obtained, and where there will be now any remains of them;
and great Babylon came in remembrance before God; not Constantinople, as Brightman thinks, because that Rome, the seat of the beast, is affected under the fifth vial, and the great city under this; but since no other is called Babylon in this book but the Romish antichristian state, it must be meant here; see Revelation 14:8 for many hundreds of years Babylon seemed to be forgotten by God, no notice being taken of her sins and iniquities in a judicial way; but now God will remember her sins, Revelation 18:5 and inflict deserved punishment upon her:
to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath; as a just retaliation for the wine of her fornication, with which she has intoxicated the kings and inhabitants of the earth; the wrath of God is sometimes signified in the Old Testament by a cup, a wine cup, a wine cup of fury, see Psalm 75:8 and here the exceeding greatness of his wrath is expressed by the phrases used, and intends the pouring out of all his vengeance, to the utter ruin of the Romish antichrist.
(e) Zohar in Numb. fol. 86. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. the great city—the capital and seat of the apostate Church, spiritual Babylon (of which Rome is the representative, if one literal city be meant). The city in Re 11:8 (see on Re 11:8), is probably distinct, namely, Jerusalem under Antichrist (the beast, who is distinct from the harlot or apostate Church). In Re 11:13 only a tenth of Jerusalem falls whereas here the city (Babylon) "became (Greek) into three parts" by the earthquake.
cities of the nations—other great cities in league with spiritual Babylon.
great … came in remembrance—Greek, "Babylon the great was remembered" (Re 18:5). It is now that the last call to escape from Babylon is given to God's people in her (Re 18:4).
fierceness—the boiling over outburst of His wrath (Greek, "thumou orgees"), compare Note, see on Re 14:10.
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