Revelation 16:19
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
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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.And the great city was divided into three parts - The city of Babylon; or the mighty power that was represented by Babylon. See the notes on Revelation 14:8. The division mentioned here in three parts was manifestly with reference to its destruction - either that one part was smitten and the others remained for a time, or that one form of destruction came on one part, and another on the others. In Revelation 11:13 it is said, speaking of "the great city spiritually called Sodom and Egypt" - representing Rome, that "the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand" (see the notes on that place); here it is said that the whole city, in the calamities that came upon it, was divided into three portions, though it is evidently implied that, in these calamities, the whole city was sooner or later destroyed. Prof. Stuart (in loco) supposes that the number three is used here, as it is throughout the book, "in a symbolical way," and that the meaning is, that "the city was severed and broken in pieces, so that the whole was reduced to a ruinous state." He supposes that it refers to pagan Rome, or to the pagan Roman persecuting power. Others refer it to Jerusalem, and suppose that the allusion is to the divisions of the city, in the time of the siege, into Jewish, Samaritan, and Christian parties; others suppose that it refers to a division of the Roman empire under Honorius, Attalus, and Constantine; others to the fact, that when Jerusalem was besieged by Titus, it was divided into three factions; and others, that the number three is used to denote perfection, or the total ruin of the city. All that, it seems to me, can be said now on the point is:

(a) that it refers to papal Rome, or the papal power;

(b) that it relates to something yet future, and that it may not be possible to determine with precise accuracy what will occur;

(c) that it probably means that, in the time of the final ruin of that power, there will be a threefold judgment - either a different judgment in regard to some threefold manifestation of that power, or a succession of judgments, as if one part were smitten at a time. The certain and entire ruin of the power is predicted by this, but still it is not improbable that it will be by such divisions, or such successions of judgments, that it is proper to represent the city as divided into three portions.

And the cities of the nations fell - In alliance with it, or under the control of the central power. As the capital fell, the dependent cities fell also. Considered as relating to papal Rome, the meaning here is that what may be properly called "the cities of the nations" that were allied with it would share the same fate. The cities of numerous "nations" are now, and have been for ages, under the control of the papal power, or the spiritual Babylon; and the calamity that will smite the central power as such - that is, as a spiritual power - will reach and affect them all. Let the central power at Rome be destroyed; the papacy cease; the superstition with which Rome is regarded come to an end; the power of the priesthood in Italy be destroyed, and however widely the Roman dominion is spread now, it cannot be kept up. If it falls in Rome, there is not influence enough out of Rome to continue it in being - and in all its extended ramifications it will die as the body dies when the head is severed; as the power of provinces ceases when ruin comes upon the capital. This the prophecy leads us to suppose will be the final destiny of the papal power.

And great Babylon - See the notes on Revelation 14:8.

Came in remembrance before God - That is, for purposes of punishment. It had been, as it were, overlooked. It had been permitted to carry on its purposes, and to practice its abominations, unchecked, as if God did not see it. Now the time had come when all that it had done was to be remembered, and when the long-suspended judgment was to fall upon it.

To give unto her the cup of the wine, ... - To punish; to destroy her. See the notes on Revelation 14:10.

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 [2728]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 [2729]Re 14:10.

The great city; Rome, afterwards called great Babylon in this verse.

Was divided into three parts; the pagan part, the evangelical part, and the antichristian part, (saith Dr. More), the three parties that made up the armies that fought in Armageddon: or else this is added as the effect of the great earthquake.

And great Babylon came in remembrance, &c.; God now took vengeance on the papacy, and all their adherents, though he had for twelve hundred and sixty years spared them, notwithstanding their idolatries and persecutions, and behaved himself toward them as if he had forgot them.

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.

{26} And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations {27} fell: and great {28} Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

(26) The seat or standing place of Antichrist.

(27) Of all who cleave to Antichrist and fight against Christ.

(28) That harlot, of whom in the next chapter following. Now this phrase to come into remembrance is from the Hebrew language, borrowed from men, and attributed to God.

19. the great city] Probably Jerusalem, as in chap. Revelation 11:8. It seems pointless to suppose Babylon to be mentioned twice over: while on the other view there is a climax. Jerusalem is (or is to be) converted—she is the City of God again, yet even she is sorely shaken (cf. 1 Peter 4:17): other cities are wholly overthrown: while the City of God’s Enemy is to receive something more than overthrow.

was divided into] There is probably a reminiscence of Zechariah 14:4-5.

three parts] It is just possible that there may be a reference to the three parties of John, Eleazar, and Simon, into which Jerusalem was divided at the time of its siege by Titus. We have seen (on Revelation 11:13) that Jerusalem is to be converted at the very last: but Revelation 11:7-8 prove that this will not happen till the war with Antichrist is at least begun: consequently, this verse may be concerned with the judgement on Jerusalem still infidel.

the cities of the nations] Distinguished from Jerusalem on the one hand, and from Babylon on the other.

the cup of the wine &c.] See on Revelation 14:10.

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. Revelation 16:19
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