The identity of Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17-18 is disputed by many. Some claim she is Jerusalem, others Rome, New York city, the United Nations, Washington DC, or the United States. A few interpreters claim that the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq will be rebuilt in order to fulfill this prophecy. However, most of these identifications and interpretations are the result of a very narrow historical perspective, looking at prophecy merely in relation to current events. Few modern interpreters look at prophecy from the perspective of God’s record in the Bible of dealing with Israel and the nations.
Throughout my ministry I have consistently identified Mystery Babylon as Rome. This was the interpretation of the earliest Christian writers, especially those who had some kind of connection to the Apostle John who wrote Revelation. More than ever, I am convinced they were right.
However, geographic location and the physical structures of a city are not the most important aspects of this prophecy. God is not going to pour out His wrath on stones, concrete, and asphalt for the sins described in Revelation 17-18, which includes the murder of Jesus’ saints, Apostles, and prophets.
The name “Mystery Babylon” suggests two things:
- That this is a hidden enigma requiring wisdom to decipher
- That it is related to ancient Babylon is some way
“Mystery Babylon” is indeed a city, since John identified it as “that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” The Greek reads ἡ ἔχουσα βασιλείαν, literally “her holding dominion.” The articular present participle requires that this was true when John wrote Revelation. It can be no other city than Rome which at the time was the seat of the Roman Empire.
However, Mystery Babylon is much more than just a city. It is a political – religious system that has stretched from the time of the Apostles to the present, and will be utterly destroyed at the mid-point of the Seventieth Week of Daniel 9. While the city of Rome was and still is the seat of this particular power, its dominion stretches far and wide in many nations of the earth. God’s judgment is going to be of the whole system. That is, the whole system and its grip on many people of many nations and ethnicities is going to be broken when the seat of its power is utterly destroyed.
This begs the question of why Rome is called “Mystery Babylon,” why certain characteristics are drawn from prophecies against ancient Babylon, and why other characteristics are drawn from prophetic statements about Jerusalem’s harlotry.
The book of Revelation draws on a great deal of Old Testament history and prophecy. Many suppose that the prophecies of the Old Testament which are alluded to in Revelation are specific prophecies about the end times. While that may be true in some cases, more often the prophecies alluded to were fulfilled long ago. For example, the sealing of the 144,000 in their foreheads in Revelation 7 makes an allusion to the sealing in the foreheads of faithful Israelites in Ezekiel 9. Yet that passage was an explanation of how God was going to preserve a small remnant of Israelites when He sent Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and take Israel into exile in Babylon. Another example concerns the two witnesses in Revelation 10 who will prophecy for 1,260 days. Yet this prophecy references the “two olive trees” of Zechariah 4:3-14 who in that context were Haggai and Zechariah, God’s two witnesses while the second Temple was being constructed after the Babylonian exile. It is apparent then that the connections to Old Testament prophecy are often by way of comparison or parallels. The fulfillment of those ancient prophecies in biblical history provides the patterns and understanding for how the prophecies in Revelation will be fulfilled in the last days.
There is no doubt that there are similarities between what Revelation says about Mystery Babylon being a harlot and what the Old Testament prophets said about Jerusalem’s harlotry when God was about to send Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem. Yet some of the things stated about Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17-18 are drawn from prophecies about God’s judgment of ancient Babylon after He used her to judge Israel, particularly from Jeremiah 50-51.
Ancient Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was “a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged.” Mystery Babylon, Rome, was portrayed as: “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.” When Isaiah prophesied of the fall of ancient Babylon by the hand of Cyrus, he wrote: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.” Of the same Jeremiah wrote, “Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her!” But John wrote concerning Mystery Babylon, ”Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,” and again, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!”
The answer to this “mystery” is simply this: Exactly as God used a pagan kingdom, Babylon, to judge Jerusalem and destroy His own house at the beginning of the first exile, He used another pagan kingdom, Rome, to judge Jerusalem and destroy His own house at the beginning of the second exile in AD 70. But while Rome was God’s battering ram against Jerusalem, she also turned her wrath against and murdered the Apostles and Christians.
So why then does Revelation portray Rome using the language of harlotry which is how God portrayed unfaithful Israel in many places in the Old Testament? It is because the Roman church was seduced by the Roman Emperor Constantine into merging church and state. Instead of remaining a pure virgin for Christ, she entered the bed of the Roman Emperor and became his concubine and handmaid. Constantine brought an end to persecution of Christians, but it came at an awful price, her virginity. The pagan emperor essentially became the head of the Roman church. Christians who would not go along with this merger of church and state became the enemies of the Roman church-state and were persecuted. The power of the civil government was placed behind the church, and the will of the pagan emperor controlled the church. The militant and carnal exercise of dominion by Rome has continued since that time. The ghost of Constantine still controls the church-state centered in Rome’s Vatican. Christianity became an earthly kingdom using the power of the sword to conquer and control the masses, instead of winning souls by faithfully portraying Jesus Christ while awaiting her groom to establish His Kingdom.
Many think that Rome was overthrown. Not so. The system called “Mystery Babylon” which is centered in Rome still exercises power by carnal means in a significant part of the world, including in the United States. The Vatican is an independent nation, and has political embassies in many countries, and has a great deal of political power. She has ridden on the back of the Beast for a long time, taking her power to rule from Satan. But a woman cannot ride a wild beast indefinitely before it devours her.
Revelation 17 tells us that the ten kings which arise out of the old Roman Empire (which are the ten horns on the wild beast) will suddenly turn against her and utterly destroy and burn her with fire. Then they will give their kingdoms and power to the Antichrist (the little horn of Daniel 7) who will reign for 42 months.
It is significant that the culture war in the United States has in large part concerned sexuality and abortion. Evangelical Christians are rightly opposed to deviant sexuality and abortion. But these are no different from the practices of virtually all ancient cultures which had hardened themselves against the knowledge of God and embraced paganism. Sexual perversion has been a hallmark of pagan societies, and so also has child-sacrifice. In fact, both were incorporated into the worship of demons. We should not be surprised when modern idolaters who have taken over the culture sacrifice their children to demons under the label “abortion.” We should not be surprised that these idolators want to groom all children with forced indoctrination into their deviant behavior.
But in case some have not noticed, all of this is coming to a head. The stalemate is over. The recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and the suggestion by Justice Clarence Thomas about revisiting some other past decisions, perhaps gay marriage, means we are about to face a showdown at the OK Corral. And Rome is in the middle of all this. The Supreme Court of the United States has a lot of Roman Catholics seated on the bench. These are all of the conservatives: John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Barrett. On the other hand, Steven Breyer and Elena Kagan are Jewish and liberals, and newly appointed Ketanji Brown Jackson claims to be Protestant. The hatred leveled against the Conservative Justices who are virtually all Roman Catholic is equally leveled against the Vatican and its public stance regarding these issues.
While Revelation 17-18 gives a long list of the sins of Mystery Babylon which reach up to heaven, it is primarily her harlotry with the kings of the earth which brings God’s judgement. As stated earlier, the merging of Christianity with politics, the use of carnal weapons to enforce a certain kind of Christian morality upon unregenerated people, began with Constantine. This is the nations’ drinking from the cup of her fornication. It continues in many nations with Rome’s strong political influence including the United States.
Both Catholic and Protestant denominations have exerted significant political pressure in the United States. But during the 1970s, Christian political organizations sprang up which consisted largely of Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups. This included the “Christian Voice,” the “Moral Majority” founded by Jerry Falwell, the “Religious Roundtable,” and the “National Christian Action Coalition,” all of which had significant influence on the election of Ronald Reagan and Republican congressional members. Several influential Charismatic figures also were heavily involved, including Pat Robertson and James Robison. Charismatic infiltration of politics has only increased since then, taking the form of “Dominionist Theology” which combines political activism, Charismatic “spiritual warfare” (which resembles witchcraft), and overt measures to seize control of various aspects of society. The latest organized dominionist group is called the “Seven Mountain Mandate.” How is that for an obvious identification with “Mystery Babylon?” “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits” (Rev. 17:9 NKJ). This organization has heavily supported Donald Trump, and one of its members, Evangelist Paula White, was President Trump’s personal pastor and spiritual advisor.
The “Christian-Right,” the “Evangelical” wing of the Republican party, has increasingly allied with Rome and some of the darker forces in the Charismatic movement in using carnal weapons to fight an alleged “spiritual battle” that is not ours to fight. The intent is to impose Christian morality upon an increasingly ungodly and pagan society which will not stand for it. With the arrival of Donald Trump on the political scene, backed by Charismatic Dominionist theology (which is just a repackaging of Rome’s Constantinian Christianity in the United States), a new “Constantine” hero has emerged. Evangelical Christians adore this man, supposing that he will reimpose a forced morality upon this culture just as the early Roman Christians did with their hero, Constantine. But this new hero is not a “David” who was a godly king and trusted in God’s strength and wisdom to deliver His people by His supernatural means. This new American hero of Constantinian Christianity is a Saul, a man who trusts in his own ego and charisma, who is utterly rejected by God. He is leading Evangelical American Christians into an ambush.
Will the city of Rome be overthrown and burned with fire literally as Revelation 17-18 suggests? Yes. This will be seen as the overthrow of militant Christianity with its imposed morals. But the effect will be felt all over the world, and all militant forms of Christianity will crumble. Many Christians will be casualties in this overthrow of pseudo-Christianity. And it will be the driving force behind the persecution of Christians as well as the apostasy of many Christians.
But a small minority of Christians will do just fine because God will preserve them as promised in Revelation 3:10 and Revelation 12. These are the Christians who heed the warning in Revelation 18:4, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” They are the ones who are overcomers, because they heed Jesus’ warnings in the seven letters and repent of their sins, they “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” and they are those who “keep the commands of God and the Faith of Jesus.” They are the “Bride [who] has made herself ready.”
Coming out of her is not just evacuating the city of Rome, or leaving Roman Catholicism. Rome’s daughters, the Protestant denominations and most of Evangelicalism, are still under her dominion to a large extent because of their mixing patriotism with Christianity, the use of carnal rather than spiritual weapons to achieve their goals. Coming out of Mystery Babylon involves throwing off her idolatry, her tainted theology, her pagan practices which have been “Christianized,” and especially her use of carnal weapons – political means – to accomplish allegedly spiritual and moral goals, to change society externally instead of changing hearts and minds by humble obedience to Christ’s commands. These are the trappings of her harlotry being committed with the kings of the earth. Trust in and devotion to populist political figures who are unregenerate, as the hope of salvaging the American Christian Kingdom, is a fool’s errand and will bring the wrath of the wicked and no help at all from God. That kind of Christianity will be burned to the ground along with Mystery Babylon.
 Rev. 18:20
 Rev. 17:18
 Jer. 51:7
 Rev. 17:4
 Isa. 21:9 NKJV
 Jer. 51:8 NKJV
 Rev. 14:8 NKJV
 Rev. 18:2 NKJV
 The 4th Beast of Daniel 8, and the 10 toes emerge from the legs of Iron (Rome) of the great image of Dan. 2
 Cf. Dan. 7:7-8,11
 Rev. 17:12,16-17
 Rev. 13:5
 Rom. 1:18-32
 Neil Gorsuch was raised Catholic, and attended Catholic schools, but attends an Episcopalian church with his wife who is Episcopalian.
 Rev. 7:14 (NKJV)
 Rev. 14:12 (NKJV)
 Rev. 19:7 (NKJV)