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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 16 - Verse 19

Verse 19. And the great city was divided into three parts. The city of Babylon; or the mighty power that was represented by Babylon. See Barnes on "Re 14:8".

The division here mentioned into 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 Re 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 Barnes "Re 11:13";) 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 loc.) 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 Honorins, 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 Barnes on "Re 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 practise 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, etc. To punish; to destroy her. See Barnes "Re 14:10".

 

{e} "Every island fled" Re 6:14

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