Revelation 18:4
And 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.
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(4-20) The voice out of heaven warns the faithful to leave her, and describes her fall.

(4) Voice from heaven . . .—Read, Voice out of heaven, saying, Come forth out of her, my people, that ye partake not in her sins, and that of her plagues ye receive not. The voice is not said to be that of another angel. It is not necessary to say whose voice it is; that it is a voice of divine love giving warning is enough. The coming forth is not to be understood of a bodily exodus from Rome. It is rather the warning which is so needful in every corrupt state of society, to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; to practise that separation from the spirit of the world which is essential lest we should be entangled in the meshes of its sinful habits. This duty of separation may sometimes lead to a literal exodus, and even under the pressure of overwhelming necessity to secession from a world-corrupted church; but the jeopardy lies in attachment to the world-spirit (1John 2:15). The parallel warnings in Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:45, and Zechariah 2:6-7, should be read; but the story of Lot in Sodom best illustrates the spirit of the passage (Genesis 19), for it is participation in sin which is to be primarily guarded against.

Revelation 18:4-6. And I heard another voice from heaven — Probably the voice of Christ, graciously warning his people of their danger of being infected by the prevailing corruptions of the mystical Babylon, and, in consequence thereof, of being involved in her ruin; saying, Come out of her, my people — Immediately forsake the communion of so corrupt a church; that ye be not partakers of her sins — Which you surely will be if you do not separate yourselves from her; and that ye receive not of her plagues — That ye share not in that guilt which would render you liable to all the plagues and judgments with which she shall assuredly be punished. But, as Bishop Newton observes, “was there any such necessity of forsaking the Church of Rome in the days of Alaric or Totilas, before she had degenerated again into idolatry? Or, what were then her notorious crimes, deserving of such exemplary punishment, unless Rome Christian was to suffer for the sins of Rome pagan?” What a remarkable providence it was that this book of the Revelation was printed in the midst of Spain, in the Great Polyglot Bible, before the Reformation! Else how much easier had it been for the Papists to reject the whole book, than it is to evade these striking parts of it! For her sins have reached unto heaven — When sins are ripe for judgment, they are said to reach unto heaven, or to come up before the face of Jehovah. So the angels speak who were sent to punish the sins of Sodom, Genesis 19:13, We will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxed great before the face of the Lord. Thus God said to Jonah, Cry against Nineveh, for their wickedness is come up before me: and St. James uses a like expression concerning oppressors, The cries of them which have reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. It seems to be an elegant allusion to the methods of justice in human courts, when criminals are actually prosecuted, and their crimes are brought to light before the court of judgment. Reward her — God speaks to the executioners of his vengeance; even as she hath rewarded — Others, in particular the saints of God; and double unto her double — This, according to the Hebrew idiom, implies only a full retaliation; according to her works — The injuries and evils with which she has oppressed the faithful servants of God. In the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double — Let her suffer whatever the laws of justice have made the punishment of such great offences. By the laws of the Jewish government some offences were punished by retaliation, or by inflicting on the offender that evil which he had injuriously done to his neighbour. It was therefore enacted by the Jewish law, that life should be given for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Exodus 21:23, &c. In other cases of damage it was enacted that the offender should pay double damages. Thus, in the case of theft, the law required the thief to restore double, (Exodus 22:4,) it being just that the thief should suffer for his offence, as well as make full restitution for the damage he had done. In allusion to these laws of the Jewish government, divine justice is represented as punishing Rome for her idolatry and persecution, by inflicting upon her, as an offender, such pains and penalties as the laws of equity direct, where injuries are so highly criminal.

18:1-8 The downfal and destruction of the mystical Babylon are determined in the counsels of God. Another angel comes from heaven. This seems to be Christ himself, coming to destroy his enemies, and to shed abroad the light of his gospel through all nations. The wickedness of this Babylon was very great; she had forsaken the true God, and set up idols, and had drawn all sorts of men into spiritual adultery, and by her wealth and luxury kept them in her interest. The spiritual merchandise, by which multitudes have wickedly lived in wealth, by the sins and follies of mankind, seems principally intended. Fair warning is given to all that expect mercy from God, that they should not only come out of this Babylon, but assist in her destruction. God may have a people even in Babylon. But God's people shall be called out of Babylon, and called effectually, while those that partake with wicked men in their sins, must receive of their plagues.And I heard another voice from heaven - He does not say whether this was the voice of an angel, but the idea seems rather to be that it is the voice of God.

Come out of her, my people - The reasons for this, as immediately stated, are two:

(a) that they might not participate in her sins; and,

(b) that they might not be involved in the ruin that would come upon her.

The language seems to be derived from such passages in the Old Testament as the following: "Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing," Isaiah 48:20. "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul; be not cut off in her iniquity," Jeremiah 51:6. "My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord," Jeremiah 51:45. Compare Jeremiah 50:8.

That ye be not partakers of her sins - For the meaning of this expression, see the notes on 1 Timothy 5:22. It is implied here that by remaining in Babylon they would lend their sanction to its sins by their presence, and would, in all probability, become contaminated by the influence around them. This is an universal truth in regard to iniquity, and hence it is the duty of those who would be pure to come out from the world, and to separate themselves from all the associations of evil.

And that ye receive not of her plagues - Of the punishment that was to come upon her - as they must certainly do if they remained in her. The judgment of God that was to come upon the guilty city would make no discrimination among those who were found there; and if they would escape these woes they must make their escape from her. As applicable to papal Rome, in view of her impending ruin, this means:

(a) that there might be found in her some who were the true people of God;

(b) that it was their duty to separate wholly from her - a command that will not only justify the Reformation, but which would have made a longer continuance in communion with the papacy, when her wickedness was fully seen, an act of guilt before God;

(c) that they who remain in such a communion cannot but be regarded as partaking of her sin; and,

(d) that if they remain, they must expect to be involved in the calamities that will come upon her. There never was any duty plainer than that of withdrawing from papal Rome; there never has been any act attended with more happy consequences than that by which the Protestant world separated itself forever from the sins and the plagues of the papacy.

4. Come out of her, my people—quoted from Jer 50:8; 51:6, 45. Even in the Romish Church God has a people: but they are in great danger; their only safety is in coming out of her at once. So also in every apostate or world-conforming church there are some of God's invisible and true Church, who, if they would be safe, must come out. Especially at the eve of God's judgment on apostate Christendom: as Lot was warned to come out of Sodom just before its destruction, and Israel to come from about the tents of Dathan and Abiram. So the first Christians came out of Jerusalem when the apostate Jewish Church was judged. "State and Church are precious gifts of God. But the State being desecrated to a different end from what God designed it, namely. to govern for, and as under, God, becomes beast-like; the Church apostatizing becomes the harlot. The true woman is the kernel: beast and harlot are the shell: whenever the kernel is mature, the shell is thrown away" [Auberlen]. "The harlot is not Rome alone (though she is pre-eminently so), but every Church that has not Christ's mind and spirit. False Christendom, divided into very many sects, is truly Babylon, that is, confusion. However, in all Christendom the true Jesus-congregation, the woman clothed with the sun, lives and is hidden. Corrupt, lifeless Christendom is the harlot, whose great aim is the pleasure of the flesh, and which is governed by the spirit of nature and the world" [Hahn in Auberlen]. The first justification of the woman is in her being called out of Babylon the harlot, as the culminating stage of the latter's sin, when judgment is about to fall: for apostate Christendom, Babylon, is not to be converted, but to be destroyed. Secondly, she has to pass through an ordeal of persecution from the beast, which purifies and prepares her for the transfiguration glory at Christ's coming (Re 20:4; Lu 21:28).

be not partakers—Greek, "have no fellowship with her sins."

that ye receive not of her plagues—as Lot's wife, by lingering too near the polluted and doomed city.

And heard another voice from heaven, saying: a command from God.

Come out of her, my people: they are the words of God by his prophet, Jeremiah 50:8 51:6, calling to his people, that the years of their captivity being now expired, and they having a liberty to go back to Jerusalem, they would not linger longer in Babylon, nor partake

of her sins; for God was about to destroy that place; and if they were found in it, they would be in danger of being destroyed with it, especially if they were found partakers of its sins. But they are also a general warning to all to take heed of any fellowship with idolaters; and so the apostle applieth part of these words, 2 Corinthians 6:17. Here they are applied to mystical Babylon, which is Rome antichristian. God calls to all that either love him, or their own souls, to forsake the commmion of it; for while they continue in it, they must partake of its sins, worshipping the beast, by paying, at his command, a Divine homage to saints and angels, to the virgin Mary, to images and statues, nay, to a piece of baker’s bread; and doing so, they will be involved in her

plagues. This text looks terribly upon those who apostatize to that idolatry; and instead of coming out, (in obedience to the command of God), being come out, go in again, and that not by compulsion, but out of choice, and voluntarily.

And I heard another voice from heaven,.... Either of another, or of the same angel, or rather of God, or Christ himself, since the persons addressed are called his people:

saying, come out of her, my people; meaning either his elect ones, till now uncalled, being such whom God had chosen for his people, and were so by virtue of the covenant of grace, were given to Christ as his people, and were redeemed by him, though, till this call, in an unconverted state; or else such who had been secretly called by the grace of God, but had not made a public profession of the Gospel, nor bore an open testimony against the Romish idolatry; for as the Lord had a righteous Lot in Sodom, and saints where Satan's seat was, Rome Pagan, so he will have a people in Rome Papal, at the time when its destruction draws near; and these wilt be called out, not only in a spiritual sense, to quit the communion of the church, to forsake its idolatries, and not touch the unclean thing, separate themselves from her, and bear a testimony against her doctrines and worship, but in a literal sense, locally; they shall be bid to come out of her, as Lot was ordered to go out of Sodom before its burning, and the people of the Jews out of Babylon before the taking of it, Jeremiah 50:8 to which reference is here had: and as the Christians were called out of Jerusalem before the destruction of it: this shows the particular knowledge the Lord has of his people, be they where they will, and the gracious care he takes of them, that they perish not with others; and that it is his will they should be a separate people from the rest of the world; and this call of his sufficiently justifies the Protestants in their separation from the church of Rome, and every separation from any apostate church;

that ye be not partakers of her sins: by conniving at them, or committing the same; and all such are partakers of them, and have fellowship with these unfruitful works of darkness, that are in the communion of that church; and those that dwell at Rome are in great danger of being so, and cannot well avoid it: yea, even those that only go to see it, and stay but for a time in it, and that not only through the strength and influence of example, but through the force of power and authority:

and that ye receive not of her plagues; or punishments; the seven last plagues, which belong to her, the vials of which will be poured out upon one or other of the antichristian states, and the fifth particularly will fall upon Rome, the seat of the beast, and is what is here referred to.

{4} And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, {5} Come out of her, my people, that ye {6} be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

(4) The second prediction, which is of the circumstances of the ruin of Babylon: of these there are two types: one going before it, as beforehand the godly are delivered, to the ninth verse Re 18:5-9: the other following on her ruin, namely the lamentation of the wicked, and rejoicing of the godly, to the twentieth verse Re 18:10-20.

(5) Two circumstance going before the ruin, are commanded in this place: one is that the godly depart out of Babylon: as I mentioned in chapter twelve to have been done in time past, before the destruction of Jerusalem: this charge is given here and in the next verse. The other is, that every one of them occupy themselves in their own place, in executing the judgment of God, as it was commanded of the Levites in Ex 32:27 and that they sanctify their hands to the Lord.

(6) Of this commandment there are two causes: to avoid the contamination of sin and to shun the participation of those punishments that belong to it.

Revelation 18:4-20. Another voice from heaven—scarcely that of God or Christ,[3928] because the discourse extending until Revelation 18:20, and even presenting from Revelation 18:9 the grievance of another, is not appropriate to the mouth of God or Christ, but of an angel, who[3929] speaks in the name of God—first of all commands those who belong to the people of God to leave the city given over to destruction: ἴνα μὴ συγκοινωνήσατε, κ.τ.λ.[3930] The ἀμαρτίαις αὐτῆς[3931] is not to be taken by metonymy for the punishments of sin;[3932] but the idea is,[3933] that fellowship in the sins of the city, which indeed is not a fellowship of guilt, yet will be a fellowship of punishments (κ. ἐκ τ. πληγῶν, κ.τ.λ.). [See Note LXXXII., p. 449.] For the idea that God’s believers, whether under compulsion,[3934] or in consequence of an increased temptation,[3935] could actually share in the sins of the great city, is here scarcely justified, since the judgment unmistakably befalls them. Believers would share in the destruction occurring because of the sins of the city, which now (Revelation 18:5) have reached the highest limit: ὅτι ἐκολλήθησαν, κ.τ.λ., i.e., the sins—not the cry thereof—have accumulated to so monstrous a degree that they reach even to heaven.[3936] On the expression κολλᾶσθαι

ἄχρι τ. οὐρ., literally belong even to heaven, cf. Bar 1:20,[3937] Psalm 63:9,[3938] and similar examples in Biel, Thes.

ἐμνημόνευσεν, cf. Revelation 16:9.

[3928] Beng., Hengstenb.

[3929] Revelation 11:3.

[3930] Cf. Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:9; Jeremiah 51:45.

[3931] Cf. Revelation 18:5, αἱ άμαρτ. and τ. ἀδικήμ. αύτ.

[3932] Beng., De Wette.

[3933] Cf. Genesis 19:15. Hengstenb.

[3934] Ew. ii.

[3935] Luthardt.

[3936] Cf. Ezekiel 9:6. Beng.

[3937] ἐκολλήθη είς ἡμᾶς τὰ κακὰ.

[3938] ἐκολλ. ἡ ψυχή μου ὁπίσω σου.


LXXXII. Revelation 18:4. συνκοινωνήσατε ταῖς ἀμαρτίαις

Participation both in the sins, i.e., in the guilt, and in the punishment, is, however, expressly mentioned. As Ebrard and Hengstenberg note, there is an explicit antithesis between ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις and τῶν πληγῶν. Besides, where there is no guilt, there is no real punishment, except in that one case of the vicarious suffering of Him who assumed our guilt. The chastisements of the believer are not punishments, but blessings. Lange is therefore right when he takes exception to our author’s interpretation, and adds: “A guiltless participation in punishment would certainly be akin to propitiatory suffering. Fellowship with the sinner, however, on an equal moral footing, without the re-action of discipline, chastisement, excommunication, is fellowship in his guilt. Hence the πληγαί are not simply strokes: they are deserved strokes. See Joshua 7; Numbers 16:21-24.

Revelation 18:4-8. A song of exulting in heaven, addressed first to the faithful (Revelation 18:4) and then (Revelation 18:6) to the enemies who execute God’s vengeance.

4. Come out of her] Isaiah 48:2; Isaiah 52:11; Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:9; Jeremiah 51:45, all referring to the flight of Israel from the literal Babylon. This passage is nearest to the last of those cited: but in the second there is also the suggestion, that the Lord’s people must depart to secure their purity, as well as that they will depart to secure their liberty. They are, however, presumably dwellers at Babylon as captives, not as citizens: it can hardly be meant that any of them really belong to Babylon, or are loth to quit her (like Lot in Sodom) till the very eve of her fall.

Verse 4. - And I heard another voice from heaven, saying. Probably the voice of another angel in succession to the one mentioned in ver. 1. Another angel takes up the theme, because the message is now directly addressed to Christians. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. The angel says, "my people," because he is representing God. These words, resembling Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:l; Jeremiah 1:8; and especially Jeremiah 51:6 (cf. also ver. 8), 45, recall also the warning of our Lord in Matthew 24:16 (cf. also Genesis 19:22, "I cannot do anything till thou be come thither"). Since the harlot, who is identical with Babylon, is representative of the faithless part of the Church of God, these words form a direct warning to Christians. The departure which is commanded is not necessarily a literal, visible one; but the command implies a dissociation from, and condemnation of, the works of Babylon. Lot's wife literally departed from Sodom, but was overtaken with punishment, because her heart was not dissevered from the wickedness of the city. Revelation 18:4Come out of her

Compare Jeremiah 51:6, Jeremiah 51:45; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:11; Numbers 16:26.

Have fellowship with (συγκοινωνήσητε)

This compound verb is not of frequent occurrence in the New Testament. It is found only in Ephesians 5:11, Philippians 4:14, and here. On the kindred noun συγκοινωνὸς companion, see on Revelation 1:9.

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