MERCHANTS OF THE
1. And--so Vulgate and ANDREAS. But
A, B, Syriac, and Coptic omit "And."
with--Greek, "owing to."
2. mightily . . . strong--not supported by
manuscripts. But A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read,
"with (literally, 'in') a mighty voice."
is fallen, is fallen--so A, Vulgate, Syriac, and
ANDREAS. But B and Coptic omit the second
This phrase is here prophetical of her fall, still future, as
the hold--a keep or prison.
from which perhaps "the wine" may have been interpolated. They have
drunk of her fornication, the consequence of which will be
wrath to themselves. But A, B, and C read, "(owing to the wrath
of her fornication all nations) have fallen." Vulgate and
most versions read as English Version, which may be the right
reading though not supported by the oldest manuscripts. Babylon, the
whore, is destroyed before the beast slays the two witnesses
and then the beast himself is destroyed.
the wine--so B, Syriac, and Coptic. But A, C, and
delicacies--Greek, "luxury." See on
where the Greek verb "wax wanton" is akin to the noun here.
Translate, "wanton luxury." The reference is not to earthly
merchandise, but to spiritual wares, indulgences, idolatries,
superstitions, worldly compromises, wherewith the harlot, that is, the
apostate Church, has made merchandise of men. This applies
especially to Rome; but the Greek, and even in a less degree
Protestant churches, are not guiltless. However, the principle
of evangelical Protestantism is pure, but the principle of Rome
and the Greek church is not so.
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
be not partakers--Greek, "have no fellowship with
that ye receive not of her plagues--as Lot's wife, by lingering
too near the polluted and doomed city.
5. her sins--as a great heap.
reached--Greek, "reached so far as to come into close
contact with, and to cleave unto."
6. Addressed to the executioners of God's wrath.
she rewarded--English Version reading adds "you" with
none of the oldest manuscripts. But A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac,
and Coptic omit it. She had not rewarded or repaid
the world power for some injury which the world power had inflicted on
her; but she had given the world power that which was its
due, namely, spiritual delusions, because it did not like to
retain God in its knowledge; the unfaithful Church's principle was,
"Populus vult decipi, et decipiatur." "The people like to be
deceived, and let them be deceived."
double--of sorrow. Contrast with this the double of joy
which Jerusalem shall receive for her past suffering
even as she has received double punishment for her sins
unto her--So Syriac, Coptic, and
ANDREAS. A, B, and C omit it.
in the cup--
Re 14:8; 17:4).
fill to her double--of the Lord's cup of wrath.
7. How much--that is in proportion as.
lived deliciously--luxuriously: see on
where the Greek is akin.
sorrow--Greek, "mourning," as for a dead husband.
I sit--so Vulgate. But A, B, and C prefix "that."
I . . . am no widow--for the world power is my husband
and my supporter.
shall see no sorrow--Greek, "mourning." "I am seated
(this long time) . . . I am no widow
. . . I shall see no sorrow," marks her complete
unconcerned security as to the past, present, and future
[BENGEL]. I shall never have to mourn as one
bereft of her husband. As Babylon was queen of the East, so Rome has
been queen of the West, and is called on Imperial coins "the
eternal city." So Papal Rome is called by
AMMIAN MARCELLIN [15.7].
"Babylon is a former Rome, and Rome a latter Babylon. Rome is a
daughter of Babylon, and by her, as by her mother, God has been pleased
to subdue the world under one sway" [AUGUSTINE].
As the Jew's restoration did not take place till Babylon's fall, so R.
KIMCHI on Obadiah, writes, "When Rome (Edom) shall
be devastated, there shall be redemption to Israel." Romish idolatries
have been the great stumbling-blocks to the Jews' acceptance of
8. death--on herself, though she thought herself secure even
from the death of her husband.
mourning--instead of her feasting.
famine--instead of her luxurious delicacies
(Re 18:3, 7).
Literal fire may burn the literal city of Rome, which is situated in
the midst of volcanic agencies. As the ground was cursed for Adam's
sin, and the earth under Noah was sunk beneath the flood, and Sodom was
burnt with fire, so may Rome be. But as the harlot is mystical (the
whole faithless Church), the burning may be mainly mystical,
symbolizing utter destruction and removal. BENGEL
is probably right in thinking Rome will once more rise to power. The
carnal, faithless, and worldly elements in all churches, Roman, Greek,
and Protestant, tend towards one common center, and prepare the way for
the last form of the beast, namely, Antichrist. The Pharisees were in
the main sound in creed, yet judgment fell on them as on the unsound
Sadducees and half-heathenish Samaritans. So faithless and adulterous,
carnal, worldly Protestant churches, will not escape for their
soundness of creed.
the Lord--so B, C, Syriac, and
ANDREAS. But A and Vulgate omit. "Strong"
is the meaning of God's Hebrew name, "EL."
judgeth--But A, B, and C read the past tense
(Greek, "krinas"), "who hath judged her": the
prophetical past for the future: the charge in
to God's people to come out of her implies that the judgment was
not yet actually executed.
9. lived deliciously--Greek, "luxuriated." The faithless
Church, instead of reproving, connived at the self-indulgent luxury of
the great men of this world, and sanctioned it by her own practice.
Contrast the world's rejoicing over the dead bodies of the two
who had tormented it by their faithfulness, with its
lamentations over the harlot who had made the way to heaven
smooth, and had been found a useful tool in keeping subjects in abject
tyranny. Men's carnal mind relishes a religion like that of the
apostate Church, which gives an opiate to conscience, while leaving the
sinner license to indulge his lusts.
bewail her--A, B, C, Syriac, Coptic, and
CYPRIAN omit "her."
10. God's judgments inspire fear even in the worldly, but it is
of short duration, for the kings and great men soon attach themselves
to the beast in its last and worst shape, as open Antichrist, claiming
all that the harlot had claimed in blasphemous pretensions and more,
and so making up to them for the loss of the harlot.
mighty--Rome in Greek means strength;
though that derivation is doubtful.
11. shall--So. B. But A and C read the present, "weep and
merchandise--Greek, "cargo": wares carried in
ships: ship-lading (compare
Rome was not a commercial city, and is not likely from her position to
be so. The merchandise must therefore be spiritual, even as the
harlot is not literal, but spiritual. She did not witness against
carnal luxury and pleasure-seeking, the source of the merchants'
gains, but conformed to them
She cared not for the sheep, but for the wool. Professing Christian
merchants in her lived as if this world not heaven, were the reality,
and were unscrupulous as to the means of getting gain. Compare
Notes, see on
on the same subject, the judgment on mystical Babylon's
merchants for unjust gain. All the merchandise here mentioned occurs
repeatedly in the Roman Ceremonial.
12. (See on
stones . . . pearls--Greek, "stone
. . . pearl."
fine linen--A, B, and C read Greek, "bussinou" for
"bussou," that is, "fine linen manufacture"
[ALFORD]. The manufacture for which Egypt
(the type of the apostate Church,
was famed. Contrast "the fine linen"
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