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20 reasons for thinking that “Babylon the great” is Rome not Jerusalem

The New Testament is a thoroughly apocalyptic set of documents. I made the point to my friend JR Rozko last night as we walked through Soho that our current narrative theologies place a great deal of emphasis on the story of Israel that culminates in Jesus, but the New Testament has much more to say about the continuation of the story after Jesus. Evangelical narrative theologies are constructed in such a way that they do not rock the theological boat too much. I think that is just inconsistent.

The question, however, is: How far into the future does the projected New Testament narrative reach? There is some willingness to concede that Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. Not many people would agree with me, however, that as the followers of Jesus took their message out into the Greek-Roman world, divine judgment on Rome and the confession of Jesus as Lord by the nations of the empire came into view as a second eschatological horizon.

Among those who would disagree are the friendly Preterists who stop by here from time to time. This post is a rough-and-ready response to their persistent objections to my view that a good part of New Testament eschatology has Rome in its sights and, in particular, that “Babylon the great”—the “great prostitute”—in Revelation 17-18 is Rome, not Jerusalem. It was also prompted, however, by the discovery that Peter Leithart agrees with the Preterists: “Here, Babylon is old Jerusalem, and as she collapses, drunk with the blood of the saints, and is infested with demons, a voice from heaven calls on Israel to leave.” Shame.

Revelation is obviously a difficult text to interpret. I offer some direct exegetical observations regarding the identity of the city which is called Babylon, but the main point I want to make here is that the Old Testament, extra-biblical Jewish literature, and Paul in particular in the New Testament all lead us to expect that the God of Israel will first judge his own people, then will judge the enemy of his people and establish his own rule over the nations.

That’s the story that the New Testament tells, and the “missional” relevance of the narrative-historical argument—this was our conversation last night—is that we need to do a much better job of telling our own story, in proper continuity with the New Testament narrative, but under very different conditions. But I digress.

The identification of Babylon the great with Jerusalem is not entirely implausible, but I think it’s very unlikely; and given both the Jewish background and the historical circumstances of the early churches in the Greek-Roman, it would have been remarkable if the fate of Rome had not been a matter of interest to such apocalyptically minded apostles as Paul and John the Seer.

1. There is a consistent pattern in the Old Testament of judgment on Israel followed by judgment on the over-bearing nation by which Israel was judged. Habakkuk is a good example. How will God judge injustice in Israel? He will send the Chaldeans—he has “ordained them as a judgment” (Hab. 1:12). But the Chaldeans are worse than Israel! How is that fair? God’s answer is that the Babylonians in turn will be judged: “Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them” (Hab. 2:8). There we have the argument of Revelation in a nutshell.

2. It is an integral part of Daniel’s “son of man” vision that the powerful kingdom that oppressed Israel would be judged and destroyed (Dan. 7:11), with dominion being given instead to the people of the saints of the Most High.

3. The conviction is repeatedly expressed in Jewish apocalyptic literature that YHWH would soon judge unrighteous Israel, deliver the righteous, and destroy the foreign aggressor—first Greece and later Rome. In the late first century text 4 Ezra Rome, depicted as an eagle, a fourth beast, is accused of having terrorised the world: “you have judged the earth, but not with truth”. This insolent behaviour has “come up before the Most High”, and judgment is pronounced:

Therefore you will surely disappear, you eagle, and your terrifying wings, and your most evil little wings, and your malicious heads, and your most evil talons, and your whole worthless body, so that the whole earth, freed from your violence, may be refreshed and relieved, and may hope for the judgment and mercy of him who made it. (4 Ezra 11:45-46)

4. The Qumran sectarians fervently believed that the Kittim, Rome, would be destroyed and that they themselves would have dominion in a radically changed post-Roman world.

5. Jesus said that when the Son of Man came, he would sit on his glorious throne and judge the nations according to how they had treated his disciples (Matt. 25:31-32). The function of the passage may be more rhetorical than strictly revelatory, but it at least shows that the nations were in the field of vision. Even for Jesus it was not all about Israel.

6. Paul believed that YHWH was no longer willing to overlook the idolatry of the Greeks. He told the men of Athens that God had fixed a day on which he would judge this pagan civilisation in righteousness “by a man whom he has appointed” (Acts 17:30-31).

7. Paul wrote in Romans that the coming wrath or judgment of God against the Jews would be followed by wrath against the Greeks (Rom. 2:6-11). This is not a final judgment of humanity—a particular culture is in view.

8. The Thessalonians abandoned their idols to serve the living and true God, and to “wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). This is the wrath that was to come on the idolatrous pagan oikoumenē that Paul spoke about in Athens.

9. The pagan enemies of the persecuted Thessalonian believers will be judged “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:7–8). More to the point, the Caesar-like “man of lawlessness”, who “opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God”, will be brought to nothing by the appearance of Jesus’ coming (2 Thess. 2:3-8). As in Daniel the appearance of the son of man is closely linked to the destruction of the blasphemous pagan opponent of God’s people.

10. The three angels of Revelation 14:6-11 proclaim the “good news” of a coming judgment against “Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality”. It is accompanied by a call to all peoples to worship the Creator in much the same terms as Paul’s preaching to the Athenians (Rev. 14:7; cf. Acts 17:24-25). In other words, this judgment is against the background of a classic Jewish polemic against pagan idolatry. It is a judgment of pagan Rome.

11. Both 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch, writing after AD 70, reflect on the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans by implicitly comparing Rome with Babylon. For example: “But the king of Babylon will arise who has now destroyed Zion, And he will boast over the people, And he will speak great things in his heart in the presence of the Most High” (2 Bar. 67:7). Ezra depicts the impending destruction of Babylon, and condemns Asia for having shared “in the glamour of Babylon and the glory of her person; Asia has “imitated that hateful harlot in all her deeds and devices” (4 Ezra 15:43-48). The parallel with Revelation 18:9-10 is clear:

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

12. According to Sibylline Oracles book 5 (early second century) a “great star will come from heaven to the wondrous sea and will burn the deep sea and Babylon itself and the land of Italy, because of which many holy faithful Hebrews and a true people perished” (Sib. Or. 5:158-61). This is clearly a reference to Rome (cf. 5:149) and almost exactly the argument that we find in Revelation. A mighty angel throws a great millstone into the sea, saying “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more” (Rev. 18:21); and “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth” (Rev. 18:24).

13. Peter most likely refers to Rome as “Babylon” (1 Pet. 5:13). Eusebius claimed that Peter “composed it in Rome itself, which… he himself indicates, referring to the city metaphorically as Babylon” (HE 2.15.2).

14. Conversely, there is no good precedent for identifying Jerusalem with Babylon in Jewish literature. If it is claimed that the Jews would not have applied the name “Babylon” to themselves, we only need to note the sectarian, anti-establishment character of much Jewish apocalyptic literature. The Qumran community, for example, had every reason to denounce Jerusalem as a modern Babylon.

15. It could be argued that in the Old Testament the metaphor of harlotry generally entails unfaithfulness to God or breach of the covenant. For example: “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his” (Ezek. 16:15). But in the Old Testament the unfaithfulness to YHWH is always apparent. Babylon the great is not depicted as an unfaithful wife who plays the whore. She is simply a prostitute. Nahum’s denunciation of Nineveh (“all for the countless whorings of the prostitute, graceful and of deadly charms, who betrays nations with her whorings, and peoples with her charms”: Nah. 3:4) offers a close and obviously relevant parallel.

16. The woman is seated on seven heads, which are “seven mountains” (Rev. 17:9). There is no reason to think that John would have been unfamiliar with the traditional view that Rome was a city built on seven hills. The argument is sometimes made from 1 Enoch 24-25 that Jerusalem was also thought of as a city on seven mountains, but it’s not at all clear that these seven mountains, which surround another mountain identified as the place of the throne of God, represent Jerusalem. In fact, Enoch then goes from that place to the centre of the earth (remember the earth is flat!), where he sees a “holy mountain”. This is Jerusalem. Zion is always a singular mountain in biblical and Jewish thought.

17. It makes no sense to say that Jerusalem had “dominion over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18) when the city had been under Roman occupation for the last hundred years and was about to be destroyed by Rome. The Jews certainly aspired to dominion over the nations, but that would come about only at the moment of eschatological crisis, not before.

18. Earlier in Revelation Jerusalem is called “the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8). This great city is not to be confused with the second great city in Revelation, which is symbolically called “Babylon”. The seven bowls of Revelation 16 are poured out on Rome from the God who is “King of the nations” (Rev. 15:3). The sixth bowl prepares the way for the Parthian kings to invade Rome. The seventh bowl results in the “great city… Babylon the great” being split into three parts.

19. The description of the fall of “Babylon the great” is pervaded with allusions to Old Testament oracles concerning Babylon and other Gentile cities. No obvious attempt is made to connect the narrative with Old Testament accounts of divine judgment against Jerusalem. “She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast” (Rev. 18:2) corresponds to the oracle against Babylon in Isaiah 13:21: “But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance” (Is. 13:21). “For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her” (Rev. 18:3) echoes Jeremiah’s denunciation of Babylon: “Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad” (Jer. 51:7).

20. Ah, but why do the tens horns and beast “hate the prostitute” if the prostitute is Rome? Why will they “make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire” (Rev. 17:16)? Here’s what Aune says: “The ten horns (the nations allied with Rome) and the beast (a Roman emperor, presumably Nero) will turn on the city of Rome and destroy it. This prediction may reflect the rumor that Nero would return from the east with Parthian allies to conquer Rome.”1 It will have to do.

  • 1. D.E. Aune, Revelation 17–22 (1998), 957.
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Andrew Perriman
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Comments

I don’t recall what exactly Aune says, but it would seem to me more natural to understand the burning of Rome by the Emperor to refer to the famous fire, which Nero was accused of having started, rather than something that it was thought that he would return to do - although I suppose that some may have expected that, when he returned, he would finish the job.

Aune connects the burning of Rome with the redivivus myth, :

The burning of the whore (Rome) is mentioned in the context of a late version of the Nero redivivus myth in Sib. Or 8.36–42, and the OT prescribes burning as the punishment for a priest’s daughter who is a prostitute (Lev 21:9…). (957)

It’s not obvious to me, though, where Nero comes into it:

There will come to you sometime from above, O haughty Rome a heavenly stroke deserved and you will be the first to bend you neck and be razed to the ground, and fire will utterly consume you cast down upon you pavements, and your wealth will perish, and wolves and foxes dwell in you foundations. (Sib. Or. 8:37–41)

A reference to Nero’s fire doesn’t seem too out of place—except perhaps that there are ten kings involved in making Babylon desolate, etc.

I actually wrote a short article showing some of the most significant anti-Roman imagery in the Revelation just the other day. The mere fact that John calls the great city ‘Babylon’ is one of the tipping points that he intends to identify Rome.

A nice post, Mark. Thanks for the link.

The only thing I’d quibble over is the statement “It’s a book about exposing the brutality world empires are capable of.” To the Jewish apocalyptic mind the fourth beast is the supreme and climactic threat to Israel’s existence—or at least faithfulness. The preceding three beasts in Daniel are regarded differently.

It may be anachronistic to suppose that it was understood as representative of “world empires” generally. That seems to me a rather modern, enlightenment, post-imperial perspective. We can now make Rome/”Babylon the great” stand for every brutal empire, but is it fair to say that the purpose of Revelation was to expose this brutality? Surely it’s purpose was to predict an end to this particular threat the existence of the church and the triumph of Jesus as Son of God. Anyway, I just prefer to highlight the historical particularity of the book.

Andrew, Don K. Preston here. We have corresponded before. (BTW, I really like your Romans: The Divine Marriage! Great stuff! I would suggest that the Marriage motif that you develop so well there is critical in identifying Babylon in Revelation, btw).
I would love to engage you on this issue of the identity of Babylon. Perhaps a written debate?
Is it acceptable for me to offer a critique of your points on this page? I do not want to infringe.

Please let me know! Would love to have a good discussion, and I think it would be very helpful.

Don K. Preston (D. Div.)

Don - I think you meant Andrew’s book The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom.

I only mention this because you refer to Romans: The Divine Marriage by Tom Holland. It’s not a well known commentary, but I know the author, helped with the proof reading, and also have it on my shelves.

BTW I think there is a suggestion of Jerusalem in Revelation’s Babylon, but go along with Rome being the main historic identity of the name. The relevance of Revelation for today is that in 18 & 19 especially, the apocalyptic language seems to burst the confines of history, and looks further ahead to a future downfall of proud worldly economic and political power, for which Babylon is a metaphor.

So once you have dealt with the preterists, Andrew, maybe an outflanking manoeuvre against the futurists?

I’ve had the book for four years, and only just noticed I get a mention in the acknowledgments, and on the back cover. My five minutes of fame! However, this is a digression. And you should read The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom. (Following which, read Romans: The Divine Marriage). Then return to Revelation and this thread.

Don, I remember our correspondence.

My book on Romans offers no support for identifying “Babylon the great” with Jerusalem. A major part of my thesis is that Paul expected wrath against the Jew and wrath against the pagan world. I think both judgments are to be found in Revelation.

But by all means offer a critique. That’s why I wrote the piece. Just keep it to a manageable length!

Commenting so that I can get on the notification list for comments.

I would love to see Andrew and Don have a friendly exchange about defining Revelation’s Babylon.

I second that sentiment, Jerel!

Andrew, yes, please forgive the “brain burp” in linking your work on Romans to Revelation. My apologies. Here is my first response in my critique.

Let me begin my critique of Andrew’s view by expressing my appreciation for him allowing me to do so. I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Perriman and as a general rule love his writings.

For brevity, I will address Andrew’s 20 points one by one, as succinctly as possible. I will pick up with Andrew’s introductory remarks along then with his point #1, and then give my thoughts.

AP - “The main point I want to make here is that the Old Testament, extra-biblical Jewish literature, and Paul in particular in the New Testament all lead us to expect that the God of Israel will first judge his own people, then will judge the enemy of his people and establish his own rule over the nations.

That’s the story that the New Testament tells, and the “missional” relevance of the narrative-historical argument—this was our conversation last night—is that we need to do a much better job of telling our own story, in proper continuity with the New Testament narrative, but under very different conditions. But I digress.

The identification of Babylon the great with Jerusalem is not entirely implausible, but I think it’s very unlikely; and given both the Jewish background and the historical circumstances of the early churches in the Greek-Roman, it would have been remarkable if the fate of Rome had not been a matter of interest to such apocalyptically minded apostles as Paul and John the Seer.

1. There is a consistent pattern in the Old Testament of judgment on Israel followed by judgment on the over-bearing nation by which Israel was judged. Habakkuk is a good example. How will God judge injustice in Israel? He will send the Chaldeans—he has “ordained them as a judgment” (Hab. 1:12). But the Chaldeans are worse than Israel! How is that fair? God’s answer is that the Babylonians in turn will be judged: “Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them” (Hab. 2:8). There we have the argument of Revelation in a nutshell.”

My response:

There is no question that in the story of Habbakuk, YHVH promised to judge the nation that was oppressing Israel. However, I believe this misses the point somewhat.

1. It should be noted that as Wright, France and a host of scholars have noted, in the NT, Old Covenant Israel has become the enemy. She has, may I use the term, “dis-placed” the pagan nations as the enemy, as the persecutor of God’s people, and consequently, she is now the “pagan nation” to be judged. (I will abbreviate my citations of other scholars, assuming that the readers here will be familiar with those abbreviations).

Jesus identified he and his disciples as the true Israel, and therefore transferred to Old Israel the identification of the pagan persecuting power.

Wright, commenting on Zechariah 2 offers this: “This remarkable passage is heavy with irony in our present context. The promises to Jerusalem, to Zion, are now transferred to Jesus and his people. Meanwhile Jerusalem herself has become the great enemy, the city whose destruction signals the liberation of the true people of God.” (N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 363).

He also says Jesus: “Made the book of Daniel thematic for his whole vocation. He understood it to be referring to the great climax in which YHWH would defeat the fourth world empire and vindicate his suffering people. He projected the notion of evil empire on the present Jerusalem regime, and identified himself and his movement with the people who were to be vindicated.” (Victory, 598)

France says, “Whereas in Daniel 7 the Son of Man represented the triumph of Israel over other nations, the triumph of Jesus is, in the first instance, over the Jews.”1 France explains this by saying, “The suggestion is that Jesus’ teaching that He himself, and through him His disciples, now constituted the true people of God was deliberately carried to the extent of applying to the unbelieving Jews the Danielic visions of the crushing of the pagan opposition. In rejecting Jesus, the Jews, no less than the pagan empires were the opponents of the kingdom of God.” (France, Jesus and the New Testament, 147). He adds, “In rejecting Jesus, the Jews no less than the pagan empires, were the opponents of the kingdom of God.”

Holland concurs: “In seeing the Jews who believed in Jesus as a remnant, Paul makes a comparison with the remnant that refused to worship Baal. The logical conclusion of Paul’s argument is that he considers Judaism to be a pagan religion akin to Baal worship– a concept that would have horrified the orthodox Jews. It was pagan because it sought to demand allegiance to the Jewish people in the face of the claims of their Messiah. …. Judaism is a religious system that has rejected the Messiah. In so doing she has become nothing less than pagan.” (Tom Holland, Romans The Divine Marriage, 2011, 372).

I believe this is a critical tenet that has to be considered. While it is true that the OT promises seemed to predict judgment on the pagan persecutors of the oppressors of God’s people, in Jesus’ “retelling” of the story of Israel, the followers of Christ are (true) “Israel” and, it is Old Covenant Israel that has become Babylon. She is Egypt. She is Sodom. She is Babylon. (Later, I will address Andrew’s comments in which he delineates between Jerusalem as Egypt / Sodom and Babylon as two different cities).

There is strong textual support for this in Revelation. Note Revelation 3:9 -11:

“Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly!

When Jesus promised to come and make those who claimed to be Jews but were not, to bow before the Philadelphians and, “to know that I have loved you” this is a direct citation of Isaiah 60:14:

“Also the sons of those who afflicted you Shall come bowing to you, And all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; And they shall call you The City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”

Now, if all we had was Isaiah, we would assuredly think that the time was coming when national Israel was going to be vindicated at the destruction of Babylon. And to be sure, that immediate historical context cannot be shunted to the side. But, Jesus was patently giving Isaiah a new “twist.”

In Revelation it was the “synagogue of Satan” that was identified in the text as the chief persecutors. Chilton noted the irony of Revelation 3: “Those who falsely claim to be Jews are really in the position of the persecuting heathen; (he takes note of Jesus’ citation of Isaiah 60, DKP) and they will be forced to acknowledge the covenantal status of the Church as the inheritor of the promises to Abraham and Moses. The Church is the true Israel.” (David Chilton (Days of Vengeance, 1987) 128).

If then, we see in Jesus’ Revelation citation of Isaiah a “type / antitype” and Midrashic commentary, we can easily see that the synagogue of Satan is now being seen as Babylon. This is just another way of saying that Israel had become the pagan persecutor of God’s elect.

Second, in Isaiah, to be sure, it is the “pagan nation” that would come and bow down before God’s elect. But, once again, in Revelation, the “synagogue of Satan” has now displaced the pagan nation of Isaiah and is the spiritual Babylon – the “pagan persecutor” to be destroyed at the parousia of Christ. As Aune says, “The ironical use of this motif is clear; in all these passages (Isaiah 60, perhaps 49 also, DKP) the Gentiles are expected to grovel before Israel, while in Revelation it is the Jews who are expected to grovel before the feet of this (largely) gentile Christian community.” (David Aune, Revelation, Vol. I, (Dallas, Word, 1997)238).

Third, this reversal of roles would take place, as just noted, at the parousia: “Behold, I am coming quickly!” Now, if Rome is in the purview here, the language of imminence is misplaced. The judgment on Rome was almost four centuries away. That does not qualify as: “Behold, I am coming quickly!”

Thus, in order to insert Babylon as Rome into the discussion of the vindication of the True Israel we must extrapolate well beyond the oft expressed explicit language of imminence of the judgment on Rome / Babylon. In the Apocalypse, the judgment on Babylon was ever bit as imminent and pressing as was the “synagogue of Satan.” I cannot find a truly imminent judgment on Israel and then, another “delayed” judgment on Rome in the Apocalypse. Perhaps more on that later.

In summary then, while it is true that in Torah God promised Israel that the pagan nations would be judged for persecuting her, in the NT “re-telling” and “re-definition” of the story of Israel, the followers of Christ are the true Israel, being persecuted by the “pagan” nation of Old Covenant Israel.

Due to her apostasy and rejection of Jesus, Israel became the “pagan” enemy of God. Her judgment was truly imminent. It was to come at the parousia of Christ that was coming quickly. That powerful temporal delimitation prevents us from applying the imminent judgment to the judgment of Rome that was almost four centuries removed.

I will close this first installment here. I hope it is okay to mention my book, Who Is This Babylon? in which I discuss some of these issues in-depth.

Don K. Preston

Don, thanks for this. Are you really going to answer all 20 points in this fashion? It will keep us busy for a while! In the meantime, I hope it’s OK for me to respond to your arguments.

The first general observation I would make is this. The fact that Jerusalem had become the enemy to some Jews (eg. the Qumran community) and Jewish Christians does not mean that every enemy mentioned in the New Testament is Jerusalem. The Qumran community regarded both Jerusalem and Rome as their enemies, and they did not see fit to call Jerusalem “Babylon”. If anyone was Babylon, it was Rome.

I’m not sure that Wright is saying that in Mark 13 Jerusalem has become Babylon, but in any case, the argument cannot be sustained. The flight to the mountains (Mk. 13:14) is not presented as a return from exile—it is an escape from a city that is about to be destroyed. Wright is too obsessed with the return from exile motif. Jeremiah 21:8-10 is a much better antecedent. And the gathering of the elect is what happens after they have been scattered as a consequence of God’s judgment against Jerusalem. Jerusalem cannot be mapped on to Babylon here. Rather, first century Jerusalem is mapped on to sixth century Jerusalem.

The case from Daniel 7 is also flawed. The narrative in Daniel is actually strong support for my argument. The anger of the Lord is directed against Jerusalem because of Israel’s sins (Dan. 9:16), culminating in the attack of Antiochus Epiphanes. That is judgment against Jerusalem. In the end, however, the opponent of Israel—the fourth beast and the little horn, Antiochus—is judged and destroyed; the people are delivered, and the “wise”, the persecuted saints of the Most High, are vindicated in the “person” of the Son of Man. Daniel 7-12 entails both judgment on Jerusalem and judgment on the Greek kingdom that desolated Jerusalem. And isn’t this what France is saying: “In rejecting Jesus, the Jews no less than the pagan empires, were the opponents of the kingdom of God” (emphasis added)? It’s both Jews and pagans.

This statement by Holland seems difficult to defend in light of Paul’s account of his past in Judaism:

The logical conclusion of Paul’s argument is that he considers Judaism to be a pagan religion akin to Baal worship– a concept that would have horrified the orthodox Jews. It was pagan because it sought to demand allegiance to the Jewish people in the face of the claims of their Messiah. …. Judaism is a religious system that has rejected the Messiah. In so doing she has become nothing less than pagan.

In Romans Paul has diaspora Judaism in view, and in chapter 1 there may well be a sideswipe at Jewish “paganism”—as in Revelation 3:9-11, as we shall see. But we are not talking about diaspora Judaism. We are talking about Jerusalem. The Pharisee Paul, brought up in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, regarded himself as fully righteous according to the Law—certainly not a pagan—but he “rejected the Messiah” and persecuted those Jews who believed in him (Gal. 1:13-14; Phil. 3:6). Paul would have condemned Jerusalem for putting the Law before the Messiah, not for its supposed paganism. The leaders in Jerusalem are accused of a lot of things in the Gospels and Acts but never of worshipping pagan gods.

While it is true that the OT promises seemed to predict judgment on the pagan persecutors of the oppressors of God’s people, in Jesus’ “retelling” of the story of Israel, the followers of Christ are (true) “Israel” and, it is Old Covenant Israel that has become Babylon.

I agree that Jesus’ does not predict judgment on the enemies of Israel—with the exception, perhaps, of Matthew 25:31-46. But Jesus does not say that Israel has become Babylon. All the Old Testament analogies in his teaching point to the fact that he thought of present Jerusalem as being in the same perilous situation as Jerusalem prior to the Babylonian invasion. Mark 13:7, for example—this is a detail which Wright highlights—echoes Jeremiah 10:22 LXX:

A sound of a report (akoēs) Behold, it is coming— and a great commotion from a land of the north, to make the cities of Judah an annihilation and a nesting place for sparrows.

Jesus foresees another invading army from the north sent by God to destroy Jerusalem. There is nothing in the Synoptic Gospels to suggest that Jesus thought of Jerusalem as being like Babylon.

Revelation 3:9-11 is interesting and certainly ironic, but irrelevant: it is not a reference to Jerusalem, nor is it Babylon that comes to bow down at the feet of restored Israel.

But, once again, in Revelation, the “synagogue of Satan” has now displaced the pagan nation of Isaiah and is the spiritual Babylon – the “pagan persecutor” to be destroyed at the parousia of Christ.

The passage doesn’t say this—nor does Aune. It does not say that the Jews had supplanted Rome as the only enemy of the church. The point is rather that the Jews were on the same side as Rome. They had become a synagogue of the Satanic power that inspired pagan and Roman antipathy towards the church.

You state, finally, that judgment on Babylon was also assumed to be imminent. But no one says that judgment on “Babylon” or the pagan opponents of the church would come within a generation, before some of those standing here had tasted death, etc. Jesus is much more specific about timing.

I’m sure that the New Testament churches in the pagan world expected the end to come much sooner than it did, but Paul takes pains to warn people that it was not just around the corner (2 Thess. 2:1-8). Peter also has to lower expectations: “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8).

Andrew, I certainly did not intend to “clog your blog” but, I hope this exchange can be helpful. You tell me if it becomes burdensome. I very much appreciate the opportunity to interact with you. I will offer a few thoughts in response to your response, and then a few thoughts in response to your points #2-4

It is true of course that the Qumran community did not call Jerusalem Babylon. But, that community was not being persecuted by the Jerusalem authorities as was the nascent Christian community. Thus, they had no cause to label Jerusalem as Babylon. I believe it is critical to view this terminology in Revelation from the perspective of “insiders” i.e. those in the persecuted Christian community. This is certainly indicated by the fact that it would take “wisdom” to discern the number of the beast. It is more than plausible that John and his audience were using terminology in a different way from the Jewish community.

I agree that the flight to Pella would not be viewed as the return from Exile. However, there is no doubt that the Second Exodus motif permeates the NT corpus, and we might even say, especially Revelation (Revelation 8-9; 15 being two of many echoes).
The true “exodus” was out of “Egypt” – Old Covenant Judaism / Torah - into the New Covenant world of Messiah. This is the “bondage -V- liberty” motif that is found in Paul’s writings particularly. I suggest that this Exodus motif echoed in Revelation 18-19 resulting in entrance into the promised land of chapter 21f points us in the direction of Babylon as also being Egypt.

Let me clarify something. I am not denying that in Revelation Rome is present. However, I see her as a “secondary” player, in partnership with Jerusalem, (more on this later) and Jerusalem being the main focus. I see this played out in Acts and the epistles where “Rome” might be present in some persecutions. Nonetheless, Jerusalem was the mover and shaker of the persecutions, instigating even the Romans to attack the Christians. But, even those instances are few and far between.

My point in regard to Daniel 7 is that in Matthew 16:27; 24:30; 26:64, Jesus utilizes Daniel 13f; 21f in his prediction of the impending judgment, not of Rome, but of Jerusalem in his generation. Thus, to restate, Jesus was “retelling” the story of Israel’s prophecies. The Jews understood Daniel 7 to be the vindication of the nation of Israel in the destruction of Rome. Jesus interpreted it to mean the vindication of his believers in the judgment of Jerusalem.

I do not believe Holland’s comments are difficult to defend, even in light of Paul’s past.
1. While Paul had been proud of his upbringing in Jerusalem, he nonetheless came to consider Jerusalem as Egypt and bondage– Galatians 4:22f; 5:1f. He came to see her and the Jews as “contrary to all men” (1 Thess. 2:15f) and the source of persecution.
2. In Philippians 3:18, Paul does refer to Jerusalem and her leaders as “the enemies of the cross”, “whose end is destruction.”
3. I do not believe that Holland, France, et. al., (nor I), are suggesting that the leaders actually worshiped pagan idols / gods in the first century. Nor would that be necessary for them to be identified as pagans. Putting Torah above Messiah would be a form of idolatry

When you say that Jesus did not think of Jerusalem as Babylon, I would agree that we have nothing explicit from him. However, we do have this: We have the Olivet Discourse in which he predicted the coming of Rome against Jerusalem, (via the Euphrates, per Josephus) the Jerusalem that in Matthew 23 is guilty of killing the prophets. In Revelation, we find John’s “expanded version” of the Olivet Discourse. Now, the target is Babylon, the city that killed the prophets (Revelation 16:6 / 18:20-24) and the armies route is the Euphrates. As I note in my Babylon book, when the term “prophet,” “the prophets,” etc. is used without qualifier in the NT, it invariably refers to Old Covenant prophets. Rome hardly qualifies for that description.

I would suggest that Revelation 3:9f is more than interesting. I believe it is borderline paradigmatic. If Revelation 3 is Jesus’ divine application of Isaiah– which it certainly seems to be- then the “pagan nation” of Isaiah 60 is now being anti-typologically identified as the synagogue of Satan.
I do not believe we can so easily dismiss the temporal delimitations of the Revelation. If we posit that Jerusalem (in Revelation) is indeed to bear the brunt of God’s judgment - imminently - then how do we then extrapolate another judgment 400 years beyond that. “These things must shortly come to pass” can hardly be “elasticized” in that way.
In 2 Thess. 2 Paul was not trying to warn people that the end was not near in fact, he was denying that it had already happened! He had already taught in chapter 1 that the parousia was to be in the lifetime of the Thessalonians.
He promised the Thessalonians that they would receive “relief” (anesis) from that then present persecution, and “those who are troubling you” (i.e. the Jews, Acts 17) would receive tribulation (thlipsis), “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.” Now, unless we wish to posit chapter 2 as a different parousia from that in chapter 1, then we cannot extend fulfillment of chapter 2 another 400– or another 2000 - years.

Now, in regards to points #2-4.

RE #2 – As I noted above, Jesus all but quotes from Daniel 7 in his predictions of his coming as the Son of Man in Matthew 16:27f; 24:30f; 26:64. And each of those predictions are against Jerusalem, and confined to the first century. In Revelation 1:7 we also hear the echo of Daniel 7 in the prediction that, “every eye shall see him, even those who pierced him” which is in full agreement with those predictions in the Synoptics. So, Jesus’ application of Daniel points to Israel as the persecutor to be judged at the coming of the Son of Man.

RE Point # 3-4: To me, the issue is not what the Qumran sectarians said. Nor is it even who the Rabbis identified as Babylon. They had their own perspective, but, it was not the perspective of the Christian community.
John is calling the harlot city Babylon before her destruction, predicting her fall for persecuting the followers of the Lamb. This is not the rabbinic view, and certainly not the Qumran community. There is patently nothing like this in the non-Christian Jewish writings that call Rome Babylon. The Jewish writings, in many instances, call Rome Babylon because of Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem. (The Qumran community being an exception).
I believe it is critical to honor this nuance, this difference, of perspective.

There is something else here that I consider critical. I have already noted the Second Exodus motif in Revelation. Note that in Revelation 15, the martyrs sing the Song of Moses (and the Lamb). The Song of Moses was Deuteronomy 32. This is the prophetic Song of Israel’s last days, her last end (32:19f; v. 29). And in Israel’s last days, “He will avenge the blood of His servants” (32:43).

In Revelation 19– in the judgment of Babylon - the paeon is sung– “He has avenged the blood of His saints” - a clear echo of the Song.

Israel’s last days terminated in the AD 70 judgment of Jerusalem, in which Jesus said that all of the righteous blood shed on the earth, all the way back to Creation, would be avenged, in his generation. But, if we identify Babylon as Rome, this is disjunctive with not only the Song, but, with Matthew 23 as well. It places the fulfillment of the Song far beyond Israel’s last end, far beyond Jesus’ words. If in fact Revelation 19 is proclaiming the imminent fulfillment of the Song, it is untenable to identify Babylon as Rome.

So, Jesus’ application of Daniel 7 to the impending judgment of Jerusalem is, to me, determinative.

The radically different perspective between the Jews who called Rome Babylon and the perspective of John (and the Christian community) describing Babylon is a nuance that must be honored. The Jews and the DSC were not writing from the Christian perspective.

I will close here. Thanks for the dialogue and the opportunity!

1. It is not true to say that “no cause to label Jerusalem as Babylon”. The Commentary on Habakkuk understands Jerusalem in its own time to be as worthy of destruction as sixth century Jerusalem, but the identities are preserved. Jerusalem doesn’t become Babylon:

[Hab. 2:17] refers to the Wicked Priest, that he will be paid back for what he did to the poor, for “Lebanon” refers to the party of the Yahad, and “beasts” refers to the simple-hearted of Judah who obey the Law. God will condemn him to utter destruction, just as he planned to destroy the poor. As for the verse that says, “because of murder in the city and injustice in the land,” “the city” refers to Jerusalem, where the Wicked Priest committed his abhorrent deeds, defiling the Temple of God. “Injustice in the land” refers to the cities of Judah where he stole the assets of the poor. (1QpHab 12:2–10)

2. Generally, I think that the “second exodus motif” is overstated, and no evidence has been provided that it is “echoed” in Revelation 18-19. But in any case, the point would simply be that God will judge Babylon/Rome in the same way that he judged Egypt (cf. #10 below).

3. I agree that Jesus used Daniel with reference to judgment on Jerusalem. But John is not writing to Jews in Jerusalem, he is writing to Christians in Asia Minor. There are good historical-contextual grounds for thinking that he had other aspects of Daniel 7-12 in mind.

4. Clearly Paul came to regard his people as hostile to the purposes of God, but you have provided no evidence at all that he thought of Jerusalem as Egypt or as being equivalent to a pagan city. The present Jerusalem is Sinai in Arabia, to which the Hebrews came having departed from Egypt (Gal. 4:25).

5. You say: ‘In Revelation, we find John’s “expanded version” of the Olivet Discourse.’ This begs the question—it’s precisely what we’re arguing about.

6. I don’t get your point about prophets in the New Testament. Jesus said, “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward…” (Matt. 10:41). He is clearly not speaking about Old Testament prophets. There are numerous references in Acts and elsewhere to prophets in the churches. Sib. Or. 3:781 refers to prophets of the Great God who will be “judges of righteous men and righteous kings” in the eschatological kingdom (cf. 3:582). Or: “O you wretched men of the last generation, evil doers, terrible, childish, not perceiving this, that when the tribes of women do not bear the harvest time of mortal men is come. Near is the ruin when impostors come instead of prophets speaking on the earth” (2:166). I can see no reason why the tradition about shedding the blood of the prophets (cf. Matt. 23:30) should not have been carried over into the pagan context.

7. You haven’t addressed my point about the phrase “synagogue of Satan”. It is because the Jews in Philadelphia are effectively serving the interests of Satan and Rome that they will come with the pagans to bow down before the church.

8. The delay of judgment on Rome has no bearing on exegesis. The simple fact is that the churches expected to be vindicated against their pagan persecutors. Whether it would take 30 years or 300 years is of secondary concern. In the end, the old idolatrous system was overthrown, persecution was ended, and the nations of the empire confessed Jesus Christ as Lord.

9. There are countless points of correspondence between Revelation and other Jewish apocalyptic writings, not least from the period in which Revelation was written. It strikes me as poor exegetical judgment to dismiss this. Rome is regarded as Babylon a) because it had been the means by which God had judged apostate Israel, and b) because like Babylon it too would be subject to divine judgment. This is entirely coherent.

10. The “song of Moses” sung by those who have conquered the beast is the song of Exodus 15, which celebrates the overthrow of Pharaoh. YHWH overthrows the pagan oppressor of his people, whether Egypt or Babylon or Rome. This is the “great and amazing” deed which is extolled in Revelation 15:3—an act of deliverance of Israel not of judgment of Israel. Hence the reference to the plagues in 15:1. Aune acknowledges the lack of a direct literary relationship between the song in Revelation 15:3-4 and Exodus 15, but concludes: “Exod 15:1–18 is certainly the more appropriate (this was the view of ancient commentators such as Oecumenius Comm. in Apoc. 15:3), for it is a song of victory sung after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, and the motifs of sea and victory are explicitly emphasized in v 2” (D.E. Aune, Revelation 6–16 (1998), 872).

A look at Andrew’s points #5-7:

5. Jesus said that when the Son of Man came, he would sit on his glorious throne and judge the nations according to how they had treated his disciples (Matt. 25:31-32). The function of the passage may be more rhetorical than strictly revelatory, but it at least shows that the nations were in the field of vision. Even for Jesus it was not all about Israel.

6. Paul believed that YHWH was no longer willing to overlook the idolatry of the Greeks. He told the men of Athens that God had fixed a day on which he would judge this pagan civilisation in righteousness “by a man whom he has appointed” (Acts 17:30-31)7. Paul wrote in Romans that the coming wrath or judgment of God against the Jews would be followed by wrath against the Greeks (Rom. 2:6-11). This is not a final judgment of humanity—a particular culture is in view.

7. Paul wrote in Romans that the coming wrath or judgment of God against the Jews would be followed by wrath against the Greeks (Rom. 2:6-11). This is not a final judgment of humanity—a particular culture is in view.

My thoughts– and I will try to be brief! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

I have already noted how Jesus applied the Son of Man predictions to the AD 70 judgment. The parallels between Matthew 25:31 and those earlier predictions preclude a delineation between Matthew 25 and his emphatic declarations of that first generation coming.

Note that in Matthew 24:29f we have the coming of the Son of Man, in glory, power and judgment. And, we find the sounding of the Great Trumpet for the gathering of the elect– which of course hearkens back to Isaiah 27:13– the sounding of the Great Trumpet at the time of the resurrection. And of course, we find Jesus’ emphatic temporal statement that this time of judgment would be in his generation. In chapter 25 we likewise have the coming of the Son of Man in power and glory, the seating on the throne, the gathering of the nations and the judgment. I see no indication of a distinction between these two texts.

Another thing to consider is that Matthew 25:31f is taken directly from Joel 2-3. In Joel 3:1, continuing the “last days” prediction of v. 28f, we have this, “it shall come to pass that in those days (i.e. the last days) and at that time, I will gather all nations for judgment…”

Needless to say, Peter, on Pentecost, was unequivocal that Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled: “This that which was spoken by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:15f). The outpouring of the Spirit was to be a sign of the impending Great Day of the Lord of Joel 3:14. And, Peter, citing Joel, then urged his audience, “save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40– which is itself an echo of Deuteronomy 32, the Song of Moses concerning Israel’s last days as we have already seen).

Note that in Joel, we have what I term “projected imminence.” This means that Joel was not saying that the Day of the Lord of 3:14 was near when he wrote (there was indeed an imminent Day for his time, but, there is a clear distinction between that imminent event, and the last day events). But, Joel 3:1 tells us that “in those days and at that time” the events, including the Day of the Lord, would be near, as outpouring of the Spirit would signify. In other words, when the last days arrived, and when Spirit would be poured out, it would be a sign that the Day of the Lord, for the gathering of the nations – of Matthew 25:31f– would be at hand.

There is no doubt that in the texts that Andrew cites that there is the idea of the judgment of the nations. (I will not discuss Acts 17 here, except to note that “the world” is oikoumene, “the inhabited world” which is used consistently in the NT corpus to speak of the Roman world). What I see involved here is representative judgment.

Note that in Daniel 2 & 7 we find the delineation of kingdoms. The language– if taken literally - simply does not work. Here is what I mean. Daniel 2:35 it says that the kingdoms of iron, clay, bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together.” Historically and chronologically, that is simply wrong. Babylon was destroyed long before Greece. And, the stone cut out without hands did not crush all of those kingdoms together!

What we have at work here, it seems to me, is that when the stone cut out without hands triumphed over Israel– the chief persecutor– that in that victory, she triumphed over all of the enemies of God’s elect. When Israel, who had become the pagan enemy- the chief persecutor– was destroyed, it demonstrated in a representative manner, the defeat of all of God’s enemies. Simply stated, the crushing of Israel was the defeat of all those nations, for Israel had come to epitomize and symbolize all of the enemies.

All of this points us to the centrality of Israel in the eschatological narrative. Israel was the “beta-case.” She was “closer” to YHVH than the nations, because of her covenant relationship with Him. Thus, if Israel failed to attain to the righteousness of God because she violated that covenant, how much more did the pagan Gentiles given over to uncleanness fail? And, if YHVH was about to judge Israel for her utter failure (Romans 2:17f), then how much more did that speak of God’s judgment on those outside that covenant relationship? This is what I mean by representative judgment. This is naturally only a thumbnail sketch but, this is a good Hebraic way of looking at the issue, it seems to me.

So, I am not denying in one very real sense, the judgment of the nations. I am affirming that it was in and through the judgment of Israel, who was supposed to be the light of the nations but failed, and who actually turned into the enemy of God, that the judgment was manifested. If God judged Israel in that manner, then how much more did those outside of the covenant come under that judgment?

Thus, Babylon, the focus of the judgment in Revelation, can be seen as Old Covenant Jerusalem, coming under the judgment of God, and that judgment symbolized the victory of God’s New Covenant people, and the utter defeat of all of God’s enemies.

What we have at work here, it seems to me, is that when the stone cut out without hands triumphed over Israel– the chief persecutor– that in that victory, she triumphed over all of the enemies of God’s elect. When Israel, who had become the pagan enemy- the chief persecutor– was destroyed, it demonstrated in a representative manner, the defeat of all of God’s enemies. Simply stated, the crushing of Israel was the defeat of all those nations, for Israel had come to epitomize and symbolize all of the enemies.

But, Don, with all due respect, surely this is a figment of your imagination. There is nothing in Daniel 2 or 7 to support the idea that the nations are somehow preemptively or representatively judged in the judgment of apostate Israel. There is no reference to judgment on Israel in either of these visions.

In Daniel 2 God’s kingdom destroys the pagan kingdoms. Given the symbolic nature of the vision I see no difficulty with the fact that the kingdoms are destroyed at the same time—after all Persia didn’t disappear when Alexander the Great came along, it merely lost preeminence. Also, in Daniel 7 the first three beasts are not destroyed, but their “dominion” is taken away.

In Daniel 7 the Greek Antiochus IV makes war against the “people of the saints of the Most High”. Jewish apostasy doesn’t get a mention; there is no destruction of Jerusalem. Judgment is given against Antiochus and the people of the saints of the Most High are given dominion—meaning that they are given the authority and preeminence in the ancient world that formerly belonged to the pagan powers. The focus of this critical vision is entirely on the nations.

There is no indication that Daniel thought that Israel had “become the pagan enemy”. Israel is not the “chief persecutor”. Antiochus Epiphanes is the chief persecutor. Some Jews were seduced by him and violated the covenant (Dan. 11:33; cf. 1 Macc. 1:10-64), but it is Antiochus who remains the persecutor. There is no Jew-on-Jew persecution in Daniel.

It would make much more sense to say that judgment on apostate Jews was included in the judgment on the Greeks than that judgment on Jerusalem was representative of judgment on the pagan nations. It’s the same as the argument about the “synagogue of Satan”—I think you’ve got things back to front. If Jews side with the pagan oppressor of righteous Israel, they will be condemned along with the nations.

Andrew, you stated ’ There is nothing in the Synoptic Gospels to suggest that Jesus thought of Jerusalem as being like Babylon.’

Jesus pronounced coming judgement on Jerusalem in his generation, and he then identifies that judgement as Babylon’s by quoting Is 13:10 and identifies that judgement as that of the nations by quoting Is 34:4. This is recorded in the Synoptic gospel of Matthew, in 24:29. The quote refers to an event immediately after the tribulation and immediately before the tribes of the land mourn at the parousia.

The significance of this is profound:
1. Jesus is identifying the prophetic significance of the predicted fall of Jerusalem: it signifies that the Old Testament prophecies of the destruction of the nations, such as Is 34 which he quotes, are to be fulfilled in and by that event.
2. Jesus is qualifying the predicted fall of Jerusalem as a permanent judgement, as Babylon had suffered. The Old Testament prophecies of judgement include both destruction of Jerusalem and the restoration and glorification of Jerusalem. In identifying Jerusalem as Babylon, Jesus is teaching that Jerusalem in her present form would never receive the restoration and glorification that had been promised: that restoration and glorification would be given to those who would inherit the kingdom (Mat 25:34). We have to look elsewhere in the New Testament to see the teaching on the creation of the New Jerusalem as the fulfillment of the promises for Jerusalem’s restoration and glorification.

David, thanks for this. However…

These are the two passages from Isaiah from the Septuagint:

For the stars of heaven and Orion and all the ornament of heaven will not give light, and it will be dark when the sun rises, and the moon will not give its light. And I will command evils for the whole world (oikoumenē), and for the impious, their own sins; I will destroy the pride of the lawless and bring low the pride of the arrogant. (Is.13:9–11 LXX)

Heaven shall roll up like a scroll, and all the stars shall fall like leaves from a vine and as leaves fall from a fig tree. (Is. 34:4 LXX)

The first is an oracle against Babylon, but it is conceived more widely as a judgment against the oikoumenē—that is, presumably, the Babylonian empire. Israel is not spoken of in such terms. Luke makes reference to “what is coming on the oikoumenē”, but then he means the wider Greek-Roman “world” (cf. Lk. 2:1; 4:5).

The second is an oracle against the nations. So we would have to suppose that Jerusalem is being compared not merely to the city of Babylon but to the Babylonians empire or to the nations. Doesn’t seem likely.

The imagery is also applied to Egypt (Ezek. 32:7-8).

However, we have the same language in Joel in connection with judgment on Jerusalem:

The earth shall be disturbed before them, and the sky shall be shaken. The sun and the moon shall grow dark, and the stars shall shed their brightness…. I will give portents in the sky and on earth: blood and fire and the vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord comes. And it shall be, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, because in Mount Sion and in Jerusalem there shall be one who escapes, as the Lord has said, and people who have good news announced to them, whom the Lord has called. (Joel 2:10, 30–32 LXX)

This accounts for Jesus’ language pretty well. The passage is of obvious importance because Peter develops its relevance in his Pentecost sermon a few weeks after Jesus’ predicted the coming judgment on Jerusalem in such vivid terms (Acts 2:19-20). It seems to me highly likely that the disciples learnt from Jesus to speak of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in the terms of Joel’s prophecy. The imagery is used more widely in the Old Testament, but I see no reason at all to prefer the Isaiah passages over Joel.

Thanks for your analysis and research on this particular quote. You make some very good points about the ambiguity of the source of the quote – I just took the footnote references from the NIV and looked them up and assumed they had it correct.

I note that Jesus continues the thought of Is 34 by his reference to the fig tree in Mat 24:32, which suggests that is the source and included in the significance of the quote. In Rev 6 we have the same text quoted in connection with Is 2-4, which Jesus applied to the fall of Jerusalem in Luke 23, indicating the Christian tradition linked the words of Jesus to Is 34 rather than Joel 2. Peter quotes Joel 2 because the Holy Spirit has been poured out and not because he wanted to interpret the Olivet Discourse in particular, I suggest. The New Testament writers used a wide range of texts to discuss and explain the coming judgement on Jerusalem, so I don’t see anything special about Joel, it is one of many.

The Olivet Discourse indicates distress for the Roman world for sure, however the focus of the judgement is obviously not the Roman world but Jerusalem.

The Old Testament prophecies frequently predict both the destruction and the salvation of Jerusalem at the same time (E.g. Is 65), and the salvation of Jerusalem at the time of the destruction of the nations (e.g. Ez 37-39). This obviously makes something of a riddle, is Jerusalem going to be destroyed or exalted, surely it can’t be both. Likewise, are the nations going to be blessed or subjugated, surely it can’t be both.

The New Testament has particular answers to these riddles. The salvation of Jerusalem is the New Jerusalem, which is heavenly. The old Jerusalem is destroyed. The nations are blessed by getting access to the New Jerusalem, and the old Jerusalem is now the nations opposed to God, from which the new exodus is required and which is to be subjugated and destroyed.

So there is no dichotomy between Joel and Is 13/34. Both apply equally to the judgement on Jerusalem.

In response to your comments about whether Jerusalem can be considered Babylon as a city vs as an empire: I’m surprised to read them. I took it for granted that the main point of these judgement texts was not the city but the power systems they represent. Isn’t this what the references to the heavenly bodies is supposed to denote? The passages in Revelation referring to Babylon, for example, obviously refer to the Babylonian empire, she is synonymous with ‘the kings of the land’ who she rules over, i.e. she is the capital city of the empire, and she and they are the power system being referred to by the symbolic character. The question is which power system does Babylon represent. I suggest that the fact that the kings are referred to as the kings of the land suggests she is Jerusalem. If she were Rome, they should be the kings of the world or of the sea (representing the nations) rather than of the land (representing Israel).

You commented that you don’t think it is likely that Jerusalem could be identified as the nations. Does not Rev 11:8 make exactly that identification? Did not Moses likewise make it in Deut 32? I was not aware there was any shortage of texts calling wayward Israel or Jerusalem pagan names.

The reference to the fig tree is coincidental, but Matthew uses it in a very different way and not in reference to the cosmic signs. The leaves on Isaiah’s tree fall, on Matthew’s tree they begin to grow. There’s no literary reason that I can see to associate the two images.

In Rev 6 we have the same text quoted in connection with Is 2-4, which Jesus applied to the fall of Jerusalem in Luke 23, indicating the Christian tradition linked the words of Jesus to Is 34 rather than Joel 2.

There are two problems with your argument about people hiding in caves and calling on the mountains to cover them on the day of God’s wrath, apart from it being rather convoluted. The first is that Isaiah envisages a day when God will both judge and restore Jerusalem (Is. 2:1-5; 3-4) and judge the nations for their idolatry (Is. 2:6-22). In other words, two separate judgments.

My view is (see my book The Coming of the Son of Man) is that the opening of the seven seals in Revelation 6:1-8:5 is preparatory to judgment, not descriptive of judgment itself. The sixth seal describes cosmic portents and the fear of peoples across the pagan world, great and small, who will seek to hide themselves (figuratively speaking) before the day of YHWH’s wrath comes. But Isaiah’s distinction remains operative: judgment on Jerusalem but also judgment on the nations. There is no reason to confuse the two and make judgment of the nations a metaphor for judgment of Jerusalem.

In any case, secondly, in Luke 23:30 Jesus quotes not Isaiah but Hosea 10:8: “And they shall say to the mountains, Cover us, and to the hills, Fall on us.” This has reference to Samaria/Ephraim (ie. the northern kingdom), but it is naturally transferred to Judah/Jerusalem. This fully accounts for his language without introducing a contextually misleading analogy with Babylon.

This obviously makes something of a riddle, is Jerusalem going to be destroyed or exalted, surely it can’t be both.

Why not? Not both at the same time, obviously, but everywhere in the prophets it is said that Zion will be punished, destroyed, then forgiven and re-established. That’s the whole story of Isaiah 40-55, surely?

So there is no dichotomy between Joel and Is 13/34. Both apply equally to the judgement on Jerusalem.

I’m not sure I follow your argument here. My point is simply that there is no basis for the view that early Christian tradition spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem in the language of Isaiah 13 and 34. On the one hand, Peter invokes not Isaiah but Joel and develops the implications of Joel’s coming day of the Lord in order to explain the events of the day of Pentecost. On the other, Jesus cites not Isaiah but Hosea’s account of judgment on the northern kingdom.

I took it for granted that the main point of these judgement texts was not the city but the power systems they represent.

I’m not sure that the word oikoumenē in itself carries these rather abstract connotations of “power systems”. It simply denotes the geopolitical reach of a culture or civilisation or administration, the area under the rule of—in this context—the king of Babylon. If Jesus has the whole oikoumenē in view in Matthew 24:29, then he would be saying that this day of God’s judgment will impact both Jerusalem and the nations/Rome. He would not be likening Jerusalem to Babylon. But as I say, I don’t think he has Isaiah 13:10-11 specifically in mind.

You’re kidding me? I go away for a while and come back to Andrew finally addressing the topic of Babylon’s identity!?!? I would surely have liked to critique Andrew’s post but it looks like Mr. Preston, who is definitely more able than I, has decided to address it. Thus, I will not jump in as that would be completely unfair to Andrew. I will join the others by sitting back and watching the exchange. It should be very exciting and full of some great insights by both parties.

Right on the money, Rich. I’ll add, however, that I’d love to see a nice, cordial, formal discussion between Andrew and Don, preferrably in book format (for I get more out of those), but either format would be helpful to the cause of eschatological truth, I think.

Continuing Critique of Andrew Perriman’s Posit of Babylon as Rome

In this installment, I want to address points #7-9 of Andrew’s identification of Babylon as Rome.

#7. Paul wrote in Romans that the coming wrath or judgment of God against the Jews would be followed by wrath against the Greeks (Rom. 2:6-11). This is not a final judgment of humanity—a particular culture is in view.

#8. The Thessalonians abandoned their idols to serve the living and true God, and to “wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). This is the wrath that was to come on the idolatrous pagan oikoumenē that Paul spoke about in Athens.

#9. The pagan enemies of the persecuted Thessalonians believers will be judged “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:7–8). More to the point, the Caesar-like “man of lawlessness”, who “opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God”, will be brought to nothing by the appearance of Jesus’ coming (2 Thess. 2:3-8). As in Daniel the appearance of the son of man is closely linked to the destruction of the blasphemous pagan opponent of God’s people.

I would note first of all that in Andrew’s book The Future of the People of God (117) he posited the “about to be revealed” glory of Romans 8:18f. Then, (141+) he says that the “Day of Fire” that Paul anticipated “is not a final judgment: it is the time of social upheaval and distress that he foresees in 1 Corinthians 7:26-31; it is the persecution that the churches of the oikoumene will face in the coming years.” I concur fully, but, that demands the imminent judgment of Romans 2:6f. And notice the parallel with Revelation. As Andrew notes, the impending judgment in Romans was the coming judgment on the oikoumene – the inhabited world. It was the first century inhabited world. And, again, Andrew is certainly correct to note that that judgment was “about to come.” Well, in Revelation 3, as Jesus spoke of the coming judgment of the “synagogue of Satan” he promised the church at Philadelphia “I will keep you from the hour of temptation which is about to come on the whole world (oikoumene holes). And this is the world of Acts 17:30-31 (Christ was “about to judge” the world (oikoumene). The temporal delimitations of these texts forbid extrapolation centuries into future from when they were given.

I simply cannot agree with Andrew that Paul, “inadvertently- channels one of the maniacal spirits of Jewish end-time speculation” in his declaration that the end was near in Romans 13:11f. There was nothing inadvertent, aberrant– or erroneous - about Paul’s eschatological proclamations. Andrew references the “wrath to come” of 1 Thessalonians 1:10, but, it seems to me that application of this text to some “world wide” judgment– except in the representative manner that I have suggested– is incorrect. That application ignores the source of the prediction of “the wrath to come.” John the Baptizer was Elijah (Matthew 17:10-12), and his mission therefore was to herald the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5f), which was the Day of Fire, mentioned by Andrew in Romans (Malachi 4:1-3). Note that in Matthew 3:7, John, as Elijah, warned the Jews coming out to him: “Who has warned you to flee from the wrath about to come” (from mello). John’s message of that impending Day must be viewed as the judgment on Israel for violation of Torah, as Malachi 3:5-6 clearly shows. YHVH was going to come in judgment of Israel for violation of Exodus 22:18 and Deuteronomy 27:19– and the judgment of those texts is emphatically posited as national judgment.

When Paul wrote Thessalonians, that Day had not yet come, but was nigh (1 Thessalonians 2:15f). It was hanging over the head of Jerusalem and Judah for their blood guilt of killing the prophets, Jesus and the apostles and prophets of Jesus– which of course points us directly to the Babylon in Revelation since she was the one guilty of killing the OT prophets, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets (Revelation 16 / 11:8 / 18:20-24). Notice the perfect correlation between Jesus, Paul and John in regard to martyr vindication. Jesus– Matthew 21-23– Old Covenant Jerusalem had killed the prophets, they would kill him, and they would kill his apostles and prophets that he would send. She would fill the measure of her sin, and judgment would fall on her in that generation. Paul - 1 Thessalonians 2:15f - Old Covenant Jerusalem had killed the prophets, they had now killed Jesus, and they were killing his apostles and prophets. She was filling the measure of her sin, and judgment was hanging over her. John - Revelation - “Babylon” had killed the prophets, she had killed Jesus, and was guilty of killing Jesus’ apostles and prophets. Her cup of sin was now full, and her judgment was coming quickly. I fail to see how we can dichotomize between these motifs and texts. I suggest it is inappropriate to extrapolate Paul’s reference to the “wrath to come” beyond that proclaimed by John– or identify it as something different from the impending judgment on Babylon.

This is confirmed when we look closer at 2 Thessalonians 1, where Andrew claims it is the “pagan enemies” of the Thessalonians that would be judged at the coming of the Lord. He identifies the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2 as “the Caesar-like “man of lawlessness.” I fail to see the correspondence and I suggest that this ignores the text. Notice that in 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul is clear that it was “those who are troubling you” that would be judged at the parousia. It is virtually indisputable that it was not the pagans that were the chief “troublers” of the Thessalonians saints. It was their fellow “countrymen” to be sure, but, according to Acts 17 it was the Jews who were the movers and shakers, the instigators of the persecution. And, in 1 Thessalonians 2:15f Paul makes that association and that guilt more than clear. He was not focused on Rome or pagans. The Neronian persecution was years away when Paul wrote. Any Roman involvement in persecution of the Christians was secondary and minor, virtually always being instigated by Jerusalem and the Jews.

Wright is certainly correct when he says: “Persecution of Christians did not in fact, initially come from pagans.” He continues, “In fact, the earliest and best evidence we possess for serious and open hostility between Jews–especially Pharisees–and the nascent Christian movement is found in the earliest period for which we have evidence, namely in the letters of Paul. He, by his own admission, had persecuted the very early church with violence and zeal.” (Victory, 374).

I could write a volume on this issue, but, see my book In Flaming Fire, for more documentation and commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1. The fact is that Paul promised that the Thessalonians would be vindicated in the martyrdom “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven.” This is the time of the judgment of the man of sin in chapter 2. That nefarious persecutor sat in the Temple of God, when Paul wrote. I see no justification for identifying him as anyone other than the High Priesthood in Jerusalem – the authority empowering the persecution against the nascent church (Acts 22).

Paul’s promise of the vindication of the martyrs is patently taken from Jesus’ promise in Matthew 23 and Luke 18:7-8. Furthermore, I fail to see where the promise of the vindication of the martyrs– the martyrs slain by Babylon in Revelation – can somehow be identified as a judgment separated in time from the promised AD 70 vindication and posited four centuries later. So, the parousia of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 2:15f / 2 Thessalonians 1-2 would be in vindication of the martyrs– the prophets, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets. The parousia of Christ in Revelation would be in vindication of the martyrs - the prophets, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets - in the judgment of Babylon (Revelation 18-19). The vindication of the martyrs - the prophets, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets - would be in AD 70– Matthew 23 / Luke 18– in the judgment of Jerusalem. Therefore, Babylon of Revelation was Jerusalem.

An examination of the promise of the judgment of the world “oikoumene” and the “about to be” judgment of that world, demands a first century fulfillment. A correlation and conflation of “the wrath to come” in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 with the ministry of John the Baptizer as Elijah, demands fulfillment in the AD 70 national judgment of Israel for violating Torah. The impending vindication of the martyrs in Thessalonica forbids application to Rome, since it was not Rome that was guilty of being “those who are troubling you.” It was the Jewish High Priesthood, who was “sitting in the Temple of God” but, who would be destroyed at the parousia of Christ in AD 70.

Don, thanks for this. You’ll see I’ve added some paragraphing just to make things a bit easier to read. If I’ve messed the sense up, let me know.

Just a quick point here about the passage in the Future of the People of God about Paul channelling the spirits of Jewish end-time speculation. That wasn’t my view. It was a view of “modern interpreters” that I was critiquing. Here’s the whole paragraph:

As modern interpreters we are accustomed to making allowances for Paul’s occasional apocalyptic aberrations, when he departs from his usually sane theologizing and momentarily—and surely inadvertently—channels one of the maniacal spirits of Jewish end-time speculation. We have just such a lapse in good form in Romans 13:11–14: the night is far gone, the day is at hand, and ‘salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.’ We charitably put this apparent miscalculation down to an excitable temperament; or perhaps we credit Paul with a subtle existentialist sensibility that feels the weight of the ultimate to be always pressing in upon the present. But the reading of Romans that we have pursued to this point has made it clear that his sense of eschatological urgency should be taken at face value: it is time for the community of saints in Rome to wake from sleep and face up to the harsh realities of their future.

My argument is precisely that we should not dismiss his apocalypticism as an aberration from his normal theological method. Perhaps it wasn’t as clear as I thought it was.

Andrew, thanks for the clarification on Paul’s comments. I apologize for the confusion. I read it a couple of times, but just did not “get it” I guess!

Not sure what happened with the paragraphing. Thanks for taking care of that.

My fault. I try to be too clever sometimes.

I take it you hold to the interpretation of revelations as mostly written to the first century church and not just representing all of the church ages. I believe more that it represents a future or modern event rather then a past event.

But if you were a reader of Revelation in first century Asia Minor, perhaps a member of one of the churches addressed in chapters 2-3, wouldn’t you assume that it had in view the challenges and possibilties of your world?

Critique of Andrew Perriman’s 20 Reasons Why Babylon in Revelation Must Be Rome
Examination of Point #10

Response: I believe this point ignores the direct correlation between the Apocalypse, the Olivet Discourse and the Tanakh.

First of all, note that in Jesus’ ministry he repeatedly referred to his generation as the “adulterous generation.” This is heavily loaded terminology. As Long observes, “On at least three occasions Jesus describes the present generation as the adulterous (moixalis), Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38). Jesus is therefore consciously evoking traditions drawn from Hosea which describe God as a loving husband to his people despite their unfaithfulness.” (Phillip J. Long, Jesus the Bridegroom, The Eschatological Feast as a Wedding Banquet in the Synoptic Gospels, (Eugene, Or. Pickwick Publications, 2013)122). I suggest that it was not only Jesus that was drawing on Hosea and the problem of the unfaithful wife. When John utilized that language of Babylon as the Harlot, this is highly suggestive, perhaps even determinative, that he had Jerusalem in mind.

While there are a few exceptions, in the OT– from which John’s Apocalypse is drawn - the terms “adulterous”, and particularly the term “harlot” referred, not to simply an immoral woman, but rather, a wife that had broken the marriage covenant! In an excellent book, Stephen Temple presents a well documented and convincing case to prove this.

Smolarz and other scholars agree with this: “There is, at least, a possibility that if John had OT prophetic development in mind, for a city to be called a ‘harlot’ would require her to have had an earlier covenant relationship with God. This would surely not be the case with Rome, but it certainly was the case with Jerusalem. In the OT, only two other cities are ever referred to as ‘harlot’; Tyre (Isaiah 23:15-17) and Nineveh (Nahum 3:4), and that most likely in the context of their previous covenant relationship with Yahweh.” (Sebastian R Smolarz, Covenant and the Metaphor of Divine Marriage in Biblical Thought, (Eugene, Ore., Wipf and Stock,2011)238).

Beale likewise noted this “covenantal” connotation of the word “harlot” even though he then sought to evade the force of it. He shows where the word harlot is used of Judah and Israel. He does claim (p. 885) that, “harlot” is also used of other ungodly nations (Isaiah 23:15-18; Nahum 3:4-5; although the DSSs “applied Nahum to the apostate rulers in Jerusalem.” (Greg Beale, New International Greek Testament Commentary, Revelation, (Grand Rapids, Paternoster, 1999)884+).

So, when Revelation 14, and chapters 17-18 refer to Babylon as the harlot, and her fornications, given the Old Covenant source of those motifs, it hardly seems appropriate to suggest that Rome was Babylon. Rome had never been the wife of the Lord! She had never been in a covenant relationship or “marriage” and therefore, Rome could not be a “harlot” in the normal Biblical sense.

Notice also the perfect correspondence between Revelation 14 and the Olivet Discourse.

In the OD (Olivet Discourse) Jesus was pronouncing judgment on the adulterous generation. In Revelation 14 judgment was coming on Babylon for her fornications- she was a harlot.

In the OD Jesus said the gospel of the impending judgment of the unfaithful city would be preached into all the world (oikoumene) as a witness to all the nations (ethnoi). In Revelation 14 the “everlasting gospel” of the coming judgment on Babylon was preached to all the nations (ethnoi) tongues and tribes.

In the OD, the judgment on Jerusalem was due to her guilt for killing the prophets, for killing Jesus, and for killing Jesus’ apostles and prophets (Matthew 23:33f). In Revelation, the judgment on Babylon was coming for her guilt in killing the prophets, for killing Jesus, and for killing Jesus’ apostles and prophets.

In the OD, judgment would come on Jerusalem because her cup / measure of sin would be filled up. In Revelation, the judgment of Babylon would come because, “The harvest of the earth (ge-land) is ripe.”

In the OD, the coming of the Son of Man in judgment of Jerusalem would be the time of the harvest, the gathering (24:30-31). In Revelation, the Son of Man would come at the time of the harvest.

In the OD, Jesus said the judgment of the unfaithful city would occur in his generation. In the Apocalypse, the judgment of Babylon had arrived: “the hour of her judgment has come!”

In the OD, Jesus would be revealed- in the judgment of Jerusalem - as King of kings and Lord of lords, enthroned in the heavens (24:30). In the Apocalypse, the Son of Man would be revealed to be King of kings and Lord of lords in his coming against Babylon (19:11f). Thus, the idea that “they shall know that I am God” come into play in both books. Jesus was to act in judgment as the Father had acted, “so that all men might honor the Son as they honor the Father” (John 5:21-23) - demonstrating that all men, of every nation should honor him, just as Acts 17 would suggest.

So, given the covenantal nature of the language of the fornication / harlotry of Babylon- highly suggestive of a wife who broke the marriage covenant, the identification of Rome as Babylon does not fit. (I would love to develop the idea of Revelation as the divorcement of Judah, just as YHVH had divorced the northern tribes, and then, the ensuing “remarriage” restoration / re-creation of “all Israel” in Messiah, but I will not take the space to do that here. It is a highly suggestive and powerful story, however).

If John was using the terms harlot, fornication and adultery in the same sense that the Old Covenant consistently used that term, then Babylon in Revelation could only be Jerusalem, the unfaithful wife, who was about to be cast out and divorced.

Likewise, the correspondence between the OD and Revelation 14 points us directly to Jerusalem as being Babylon.

I will let this suffice on this point. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

1. It is wrong to argue that “harlot” implies a prior covenant relationship. Yes, Israel is described as an unfaithful wife and therefore a harlot. But not every harlot is an unfaithful wife. You cannot just invent a previous covenant relationship for Tyre and Nineveh to suit your argument.

2. The language of “adulterous generation” is missing from the passages under consideration in Revelation. Babylon the great is not said to be moichalis, which would certainly imply a marital relationship, but as a pornē who commits porneia; so the argument from Jesus’ terminology carries no weight.

3. The description of Nineveh in Nahum 3:4 is an excellent model for Babylon the great which “made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality” (Rev. 14:8):

And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute (pornē in LXX)…, who betrays nations with her whorings, and peoples with her charms. (Nah. 3:4)

4. I agree that there are parallels between the account of judgment on Jerusalem and the account of judgment on Babylon the great, but there are similar parallels in the Old Testament—for example, the language of cosmic dissolution is applied both to Jerusalem and to Babylon.

5. Since both the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem and the pagan authorities persecuted the followers of Jesus, it is hardly surprising that both Jerusalem and Rome are condemned for killing the apostles, prophets and saints.

6. The imagery of the harvest with the sickle and the overflowing wine press in Revelation 14:14-20 comes from the account of the judgment of the nations in Joel 3:13:

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great. (Joel 3:13)

This clearly distinguishes it from the judgment of Israel described in the parable of the weeds, for example.

7. It goes without saying that Jesus is depicted as an agent with regard to both judgment on Jerusalem and judgment on Rome. That is no ground for conflating the two.

So it seems to me that the attempt to assimilate Revelation 14:6-13 to accounts of judgment on Jerusalem fails at every point. Also, I note, Don, that you have not here addressed the positive point that I made at #10 that the proclamation of judgment on Babylon the great is prefaced with a classic Jewish call to the peoples of the oikoumenē to abandon idolatry and worship the creator God. But perhaps you discuss this later.

I am hoping that my paragraph breaks show up. Not sure what the problem is, and I apologize for the issue. Andrew, if you can let me know what to do, I will be happy to comply.

Response to Andrew’s Claim that Peter wrote from Rome as Babylon- His point #13

Andrew suggests that: “Peter most likely refers to Rome as “Babylon” (1 Pet. 5:13). Eusebius claimed that Peter “composed it in Rome itself, which… he himself indicates, referring to the city metaphorically as Babylon” (HE 2.15.2).”

I think there is good evidence to the contrary on this. In fact, I think that Peter’s emphasis on the exodus motif – not to mention his allusions to Revelation as an already written book - points us in the direction of Jerusalem.

We know that Biblically, Peter’s base of operations was Jerusalem. This is not to suggest that he never traveled outside there, but, it is to emphasize that Jerusalem was his base. Now, if we can assume– and I see no reason to question this - that Peter viewed Torah and Jerusalem as the city of “bondage” like Paul did (Romans 7 / Galatians 4-5) then it makes perfect sense to see Peter cryptically referring to Jerusalem as Babylon.

This gets back to my point that “outsider” sources, such as the DSC referring to Rome as Babylon are irrelevant. They had a totally different perspective than did the Christian community. This goes again to address all of Andrew’s points where he appeals to those “outside” sources. I would also observe that Eusebius lived three centuries after the fact, thus, it is distinctly possible that he had lost contact with the original context.

Peter wrote to the same churches as did John in Revelation. He wrote about the same issue– persecution. In fact, note that in Revelation 3:9f Jesus told the Philadelphian church - being persecuted by the false Jews - that he would spare them from the fiery trial that was coming (about to come) on the whole world. In 1 Peter, the apostle said: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” This is not a happy translation. It should be, as the NASV renders it: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” What Jesus predicted in the Apocalypse was occurring in 1 Peter. This strikes me as a powerful argument for the early dating of Revelation as well as positing the conflict as one springing from Jerusalem as the persecutor.

I think it relevant to note that in Revelation 18:4 the followers of Jesus are urged “come out of her my people.” To my knowledge, Christians were never urged to leave Rome. But, in the Olivet Discourse Jesus warned his disciples to flee from Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15f) when they saw the signs of the impending disaster, and Hebrews 13 likewise urged Christians, in light of the imminent destruction of the Old Jerusalem, to abandon the city and Old Covenant World. Then, interestingly enough, in 1 Peter 2:11 Peter refers to his audience as “strangers and pilgrims” indicating that they had left “Egypt” and were traveling to the promised land, just as in the Apocalypse (Revelation 15).

Now, since 1 Peter is saturated with Exodus imagery, in light of the very imminent “end of all things” (1 Peter 4:7) I see his reference to Babylon fitting Jerusalem and the image of bondage very well. It is, I think, significant that as Wilson notes, in post-AD 70 Jewish writings references to Rome as “Babylon” focused on Rome as the destroyer of the Temple, whereas pre-AD 70 references focused on Babylon as the place of exile and bondage. (J. Christian Wilson, “Babylon as a Cipher For Rome and the Dating of Early Jewish and Early Christian Documents,” (Unpublished paper read at the 1994 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Cited by Beale, Revelation, 19). This agrees well with the fact that early Christianity– and certainly not Paul or Peter - did not see herself as in bondage to Rome.

In 1 Peter 1:18f the apostle said: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Peter’s reference to being “redeemed” echoes the Exodus motif for sure, since perhaps no other word suggested “Exodus” more to the Jewish mind than “redemption” (lutruoo). (See Deuteronomy 7:8; 9:26; 15:15, etc.)

Peter said they had been redeemed from aimless conduct “received by tradition from your fathers.” Now, the “fathers” in Petrine thought - and generally in NT references- were the Jewish fathers. Furthermore, his reference to the “tradition” of the fathers takes us back to Jesus and his castigation of the Pharisees and their “traditions of men” (Matthew 15:8).

Lastly, Peter said they had been redeemed, “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” This is a direct allusion to the Passover / Exodus. Jesus was the Passover sacrifice offered to redeem them from their vain manner of life. (For a discussion of the Second Exodus in 1 Peter, see Mark Dubis, Messianic Woes in First Peter, Suffering and Eschatology in 1 Peter 4:12-19– Studies in Biblical Literature, Vol. 33, (New York, Peter Lang, 2002)48f).

So, if Peter has “Egypt” and “bondage” in mind in 1:18f and if he has “bondage” in mind in 5:13, then by far the better understanding of “Babylon” in 5:13 was Old Covenant Judaism. Let me point out again that since Revelation could refer to Jerusalem as Sodom (a pagan entity) and Egypt (a pagan nation) then it is clearly possible that Peter could likewise refer to Jerusalem as Babylon.

Considering that Peter was writing to the “Diaspora” (1 Peter 1:1– Not, as some contend, a Gentile audience) his language is a cryptic manner of saying that through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, Jesus, they had been redeemed from “Egypt” which was none other than life under Torah! His imagery simply does not fit Rome. Thus, Peter echoes Paul in his thoughts about bondage and the Exodus out of Torah and Old Covenant Judaism.

If Peter was saying that Judaism was “Egypt” this ties in perfectly with Revelation 11:8, where Jerusalem was “Egypt.” And, if this connection with “Egypt” in 1 Peter 1 is valid, it would demand some strong evidence for suggesting that his reference to Babylon was something other than an equally cryptic reference to Jerusalem.

And there are two other motifs here that are relevant to 1 Peter.

Babylon’s “cup of sin,” her “measure of sin” was full in Revelation 17-18; “her sins have reached unto heaven” (18:5). Likewise, in 1 Peter 5:9 the apostle referred to the sufferings of the saints as “experienced by your brotherhood in the whole world.” The idea in the Greek is that the suffering was being “brought to the goal” – being filled up (epiteleisthai).

This is the idea of Matthew 23– “fill up then the measure of your father’s guilt.” It is the thought of 1 Thessalonians 2:15f where Paul said the Jews were filling the measure of their sin by persecuting the saints. It is the thought in Revelation 6:9-11, where the martyred saints, crying out for vindication, were told that they would only have to rest for “a little while, until their brethren, who should be slain as they were, should be fulfilled.” It is the thought of Revelation 14 where the sin of the land / City (Babylon) was full, and the imagery there all but demands that Babylon was Jerusalem. (Note the perfect correspondence between Revelation 6:9f and 1 Peter 1– in reference to the little while of suffering, and compare it with Luke 18:8).

Peter clearly had the imminent vindication of the martyrs in mind. He could hardly have had Rome as Babylon in mind, since Rome’s judgment was hundreds of years away, lying well outside the scope of “the end of all things has drawn near,” and, “the time has come for the judgment to begin.” In light of Jesus’ and Paul’s references to Israel / Jerusalem filling the measure of her sin, the saints filling the cup of suffering, with Peter using that same language, I find it dissonant to then point to Rome as Babylon. Here is why.

In both Matthew 23 and in 1 Thessalonians 2, the thought is that it took Israel a long time (centuries) to finally fill up the measure of her sin by persecuting the saints of God. (And let us not forget that this included the killing of the OT prophets – and “Babylon” of Revelation was guilty of that very thing. That alone precludes Rome from being Babylon). If we posit Revelation as authored during the Neronian persecution, how do we explain how Rome could fill the measure of her sin – via persecution of the saints - in such as short time, when it took Israel / Jerusalem centuries to do that? Even if one took the Domitianic date for Revelation, (I do not), the evidence for a Domitianic persecution is weak at best, thus compounding the problem of the language of Babylon filling the measure of her sin, i.e. of bringing the suffering of the saints to the full, per 1 Peter.

So, if we accept the evidence of Matthew 23 and Thessalonians as corroborative and even normative, then to suggest that Babylon in Revelation – or in 1 Peter - was Rome, is anomalous. To suggest that Rome could do in such a short time, what it took Jerusalem centuries to do, just does not “add up.” How do we divorce Peter’s discussion from that of Matthew 23 and Thessalonians, when the motifs, the themes, the promises and the timing are the same?

I would also note that in Revelation 18:5, it says that “God has remembered her (Babylon’s) iniquities.” The word “remembered” just as in 16:19, historically carried covenantal connotations. The word could mean simple mental recall. Nonetheless, in the OT, just as the word “harlot” carried covenantal significance, the word “remember” likewise meant that God “remembered” His covenant with Israel. When He “remembered” her He brought either covenant blessings or covenant curses on her. We hardly need to state that Rome was never in any such covenant relationship with the Lord, for Him to “remember” her actions as violation of covenant.

I think this plays into 1Peter very well, because Peter is saturated with concern about the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Israel. His epistle is filled with these ideas and language. Not only that, the OT is full of references to the last days vindication of the martyrs, at the Day of the Lord, and those prophecies are almost invariably predictions of judgment of Israel (cf. Isaiah 2-4), when her cup of sin for persecuting the saints, would be full. So, given this covenantal context of 1 Peter, focused on the last days of Israel, on martyr vindication, on filling the measure of suffering, to suggest that he had Rome as Babylon in mind is disjunctive.

There is a great deal more I would like to say about 1 Peter and Revelation, because the parallels between the two books are incredible, but, I will stop here.

1. The New Testament texts were not written in a literary vacuum. There is every reason to take critical account of the literature of second temple Judaism in our endeavours to understand the language, imagery, and argumentation of the second temple Jewish authors of the New Testament. To say that external sources had a “totally different perspective” to the Christian community merely begs the question. All you really mean is that they had a totally different perspective to modern preterists. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of the sensible reading of historical texts as best we can in light of their context.

2. I fail to see how the letter to the church in Philadelphia helps your argument. John says that a period of trial is coming upon the whole world—not just the synagogue of Satan—to test those who dwell on earth. Peter, as you note, says the same thing. Clearly, opposition from Jews in the diaspora was a problem, but I don’t see what this has to do with the location of “Babylon”. More on this below.

3. The Old Testament allusions in Revelation 18:4-8 are explicitly to Babylon, not to Jerusalem (eg. Is. 47:7, 9; 48:20; Jer. 50:15, 29; 51:9, 24, 49; Ps. 137:8). The call to believers to come out of “Babylon the great” is a call to dissociate themselves from the “sins” of a culture or civilisation that is coming to an end. There is no need to take it literally as a command to leave Rome.

4. There are all sorts of reasons why the Jewish Christian Peter might call Rome “Babylon”—a place of idolatry and immorality, the power that he believed would soon destroy Jerusalem, the power that had destroyed Jerusalem…. The argument from the exodus references I find very peculiar. Babylon does not feature in the exodus narrative. If Peter had said “She who is in Egypt”, you might have had a case for saying that he is referring to Jerusalem as a place of bondage. But in Jewish thought Babylon is consistently the power that invades Israel, destroys Jerusalem, and scatters the Jews amongst the nations. In the first century context this must mean Rome.

5. Your argument about filling up the measure of sins seems to me to miss the point, at least as far as Peter is concerned. Even if we allow that Peter had the imminent judgment on Jerusalem and the vindication of Christian victims of Jewish persecution in mind, this has no bearing on his reference to Babylon. Peter is in Rome, which he refers to as Babylon because it will be the instrument of God’s punishment of Israel, and he writes to a Jewish-Christian diaspora about their suffering and coming vindication.

6. I agree that remembering iniquities is covenant language, but the best Old Testament antecedents for “for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:5) are texts which refer to Babylon and Nineveh:

We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed. Forsake her, and let us go each to his own country, for her judgment has reached up to heaven and has been lifted up even to the skies. (Jer. 51:9)

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” (Jon. 1:1–2)

7. Of some significance here is the fact that only the enemy of Jerusalem in the Old Testament is paid back as it has paid others (Rev. 18:6):

O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! (Ps. 137:8)

For this is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance on her; do to her as she has done. Cut off from Babylon the sower, and the one who handles the sickle in time of harvest… (Jer. 50:15–16)

I would count this a decisive argument in favour of viewing Babylon the great as Rome. Israel receives “double for all her sins” (Is. 40:2; cf. Jer. 16:18), but Babylon is repaid as the nation which had first inflicted punishment on Israel—therefore, she is paid back. Likewise Rome, as the instrument of the wrath of God against Jerusalem, will be paid back. Hence the imagery of the cup of God’s wrath, which had formerly been drunk by Jerusalem, being passed to “Babylon the great” (Rev. 16:19; cf. Is. 51:17-23; cf. Hab. 2:16).

I will cover Andrew’s points #16 & 20 in this installment. I want to thank those who have corresponded with me privately, as well as to thank Andrew.

The City On Seven Hills
Andrew makes the following argument - his point #16:
“The woman is seated on seven heads, which are “seven mountains” (Rev. 17:9). There is no reason to think that John would have been unfamiliar with the traditional view that Rome was a city built on seven hills. The argument is sometimes made from 1 Enoch 24-25 that Jerusalem was also thought of as a city on seven mountains, but it’s not at all clear that these seven mountains, which surround another mountain identified as the place of the throne of God, represent Jerusalem. In fact, Enoch then goes from that place to the centre of the earth (remember the earth is flat!), where he sees a “holy mountain”. This is Jerusalem. Zion is always a singular mountain in biblical and Jewish thought.”

First of all, there is little doubt that Enoch does refer to seven hills, and the “holy mountain” is, as Andrew notes, Jerusalem. What is overlooked is that the central, “holy mountain” sits on, “seven dignified mountains” (24:2). We thus have a direct reference to the seven hills in direct connection with “Jerusalem.” There are in fact, several significant sources that clearly pointed to Jerusalem as sitting on seven hills. But, I am not making that point.

The main point I want to emphasize is that if one identifies Babylon as Rome it creates an untenable situation in Revelation 17. I think that to identify Babylon as Rome misses the very point of that chapter.

In chapter 17 the woman (Babylon) rides upon the Beast. And, Babylon is one entity, and the place of the seven hills is another. As Smalley says: “The woman in 17:3 is closely associated with the beast (‘mounted on it’), but not equated with it” (2005, Revelation, 429). Likewise, Beagley says, “Babylon, though associated with Rome, is not to be identified with it” (1987, 107). In other words, the woman (Babylon) is not the beast, the woman rides on the beast. Babylon sits on the seven hills. It is the seven hills that equal the beast.

Carrington says that the Babylon = Rome argument, “perishes when you remember that the heads belong to the Beast, not to the Woman, and, therefore, identify him, and not her” (Meaning of Revelation, 1931, 285+). Ogden says, “Remember, the woman is not the beast or any part of the beast. So, the woman is not Rome. She simply sits upon and is carried by the beast. Since the heads are also seven kings, they also symbolize the kings of the empire carrying Jerusalem.” (The Avenging of the Blood of the Apostles and Prophets, Pinson, Al, Ogden Publications, 2006, 331). Thus, the seven hills may well represent Rome, but the woman (Babylon) is supported by Rome. And this raises an important exegetical issue.

In Revelation 17, the Beast turns on the woman and destroys her (17:15f). A once friendly relationship turns sour, and whereas the woman once rode on the Beast, the Beast now turns on her, and, “will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.”

Andrew suggests, perhaps anticipating an objection, (His point #20) that, “Ah, but why do the tens horns and beast “hate the prostitute” if the prostitute is Rome? Why will they, “make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire” (Rev. 17:16)? Here’s what Aune says: “The ten horns (the nations allied with Rome) and the beast (a Roman emperor, presumably Nero) will turn on the city of Rome and destroy it. This prediction may reflect the rumor that Nero would return from the east with Parthian allies to conquer Rome.” It will have to do.”

I have always found this suggestion troubling. The Nero Redivivus rumor was false! Are we to believe that John sought to give his audience “comfort” by appealing to a false rumor? Was he promising them that Rome– their ostensible enemy - would be destroyed by Nero, dead for a twenty years? If John had the redivivus rumor in mind, that most definitely delimits the time for the destruction of “Rome / Babylon” to a very imminent time frame. Thus, once again, since that did not happen within an imminent framework this meant that John’s prophecy failed. And, even if one posits the Nero redivivus theory, it is tenuous to suggest that he would have been coming back to destroy the city. He would have been coming back to reclaim it!

The language of Revelation 17 says that the Beast would “hate” the woman. It will do no good to point out that Nero burned Rome. When he did that, he did not hate Rome. He had a vision to rebuild the city on an even grander scale, and thus, there was no “hatred” of the city involved. Nero loved Rome.

The fact is that textually, John was making an emphatic visionary declaration about what was to take place. There is nothing nebulous, vague, or “wishful thinking” in it. It is prophecy. We must keep in mind that he claims to be speaking through the Spirit, so, if he was making a “prediction” of the return of Nero, then that “prophesy” patently failed. What kind of comfort would there be in that? Nero did not return. Nero did not destroy Rome. Nothing about Revelation 17 - as stated by the text - was fulfilled in Aune’s proposal. But, we do not have to look far to find a far more satisfactory explanation.

According to Revelation 17 there was a “partnership of persecution” against the followers of Christ between the Beast and Babylon. That partnership turned sour and then, the Beast turned on the Harlot destroyed her and burned her with fire.

Side bar: I suggest that a comparison of Matthew 22 with the identity of Babylon, and the fate of that Harlot city– to be burned for persecuting the saints– fits Matthew 22 well.
In Matthew the master of the Wedding sends out his armies to destroy the persecuting city, and burn her with fire. The Wedding then takes place.
In Revelation, the fate of the persecuting Harlot was to be burned at the coming of the Lord with His armies- Revelation 17, 19– and the Wedding takes place.
Unless Matthew and Revelation have different cities in mind, then clearly, Babylon was Old Covenant Jerusalem.

There are several things to be noted about Revelation 17.

A Partnership of Persecution - Beale takes note of the “partnership of persecution” in chapter 17: “The purpose of the strong coalition of v. 13 is to ‘make war on the Lamb.” (Beale, Revelation, 880). He also notes that the destruction of Babylon follows the sketch of Ezekiel 23:25-29, 47, “the prophecy of apostate Jerusalem’s judgment by God.” (Revelation, 883) Sadly, Beale quickly abandons his own observations and extrapolates the text far beyond that context, but, his initial comments are certainly true.

We know that there was in fact a bloody partnership between the Beast (Rome) and Jerusalem against the church.

Harnack said, “Unless the evidence is misleading, they (the Jews, DKP), instigated the Neronic outburst against Christians; and as a rule, whenever bloody persecutions were afoot in later days, the Jews are either in the background or the foreground” (Mission and Expansion of Christianity, Harper and Brothers, 1961)57+). Gibbons said the cause of the Neronian persecution was the Jews. (Edward Gibbon, Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. I, (New York, The Modern Library, Random House)459f). Barclay adds, “Nero was the first persecutor of the Christians, and…his favorite actor, Aliturus, and his infamous harlot, empress, Poppea, were both Jewish proselytes; and there is little doubt that it was their slanderous and perverted information which turned Nero against the Christians. The Jews whispered their slanders against the Christians into the ears of the Roman authorities with calculated and poisonous venom.” (William Barclay, Letters to the Seven Churches, (New York, Abingdon, 1957)37). Gentry says, “The fact that the Harlot is seated on the seven headed beast (obviously representative of Rome) indicates, not identity with Rome, but alliance with Rome against Christianity” (Before Jerusalem Fell, 241, n. 26).

However, in stark contrast to these realities, there is a growing consensus that Domitian (should one posit the late date) never even persecuted the church. Historian Richard Niswonger, says: “It cannot be proven without doubt that Domitian initiated a persecution against Christians. Roman records provide no clear evidence of even a small scale movement, let alone a concerted or large-scale persecution.” (New Testament History, (Zondervan, Academic Books, 1988)271-272). I document this extensively in my Who Is This Babylon? book, in case anyone wishes to explore this.

Not only did Domitian never systematically persecute the church, he was never in a partnership with any other entity to do so.

With the two previous points being true, it is assuredly true that Domitian never turned on his partner in persecution against the church, and most assuredly never destroyed another capitol with whom he had been in that kind of partnership. And, he clearly did not hate, destroy and burn Rome.

Beagley makes the point missed by many commentators: “In what sense can it be said that the Empire or one specific Emperor turns against the capital city and destroys it? How can Rome destroy Rome?” (Alan James Beagley, The ‘Sitz em Leben’ of the Apocalypse, With Particular Reference to the Role of the Church’s Enemies, New York, Walter De Gruyter, 1987)92).

If Rome / Domitian never hated and destroyed Rome, then Babylon cannot be Rome.

If Domitian never entered a partnership with anyone to persecute the church–and he didn’t - then he cannot be the beast in Revelation. And Rome cannot be Babylon.

If Domitian did not turn on his partner in persecution – and he didn’t - then he does not fit the description of Revelation 17 - and Rome cannot be Babylon.

If Domitian did not turn against his previous partner of persecution and destroy her capitol city –and he didn’t–then he is not the beast of Revelation, and Rome cannot be Babylon.

To use a much over-used but appropriate term, “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” The “glove” does not fit Domitian or Rome as Babylon.

But it does fit Nero and Jerusalem.
Nero was influenced by the Jews to persecute the church. This is the partnership of persecution.
Nero turned on the Jews.
Nero commanded the destruction of Jerusalem – he sent his armies and destroyed her, burning her with fire.
Jerusalem was the Harlot city, the Great Whore who killed the prophets, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets. Rome never did that.

We thus have a direct reference to the seven hills in direct connection with “Jerusalem.”

Don, if you read the passage (1 En. 24-25), it’s clear that the seven mountains and the holy city are not the same.

First, Enoch is in “another place of the earth” (I’m using Isaac’s translation), where he sees a mountain of fire. He approaches and sees seven mountains, one of which is the throne of God (25:3).

Among the trees which surround the mountain is an especially fragrant one, which no human is allowed to touch until the “great judgment”, when its fruit will be given to the elect. Then the tree will be planted (or the fruit will be planted?) “in the direction of the northeast, upon the holy place—in the direction of the house of the Lord” (25:4-5).

So the temple is not where the seven mountains are. It is away somewhere in the northeast.

Enoch then goes to the centre of the earth (the centre of a disk, not of a globe), and he sees a “holy mountain”, which is Jerusalem, with two other mountains on either side.

So we have two different locations: a place where there are seven mountains, where the throne of God is, and three mountains in the centre of the earth, where where Jerusalem is. There is no “direct connection”.

I have addressed your argument about Revelation 17 in a separate post.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. Happy New Year to all, and to you personally, Andrew!

Critique of Andrew Perriman on Babylon of Revelation
His Point #17 - The Great City That Rules Over the Kings of the Earth

Andrew’s points #17-19 are very similar with a good deal of overlap. Nonetheless, there is enough distinction between them that I want to address, so, I will address each point separately.

# 17. It makes no sense to say that Jerusalem had “dominion over the kings the earth” (Rev. 17:18) when the city had been under Roman occupation for the last hundred years and was about to be destroyed by Rome. The Jews certainly aspired to dominion over the nations, but that would come about only at the moment of eschatological crisis, not before. (EoQ)

Response:
I suggest that the key issue involved in this objection is the question of authorial intent and audience cognition. What I mean by this is the question, would the terminology of having “dominion over the kings of the earth” be understood from a pagan, political perspective, or, would it be understood from the perspective of an audience steeped in OT covenantal thought and language? Chilton offers this: “The answer is that Revelation is not a book about politics, it is a book about the Covenant. Jerusalem did reign over the nations. She had a covenantal priority over the kingdoms of the earth. Israel was a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6) exercising a priestly ministry of guardianship, instruction, and intercession on behalf of the nations of the world.” Josephus says Jerusalem was, “esteemed holy by all mankind” (Wars V, 1, 3; V, 9, 4; V, 13, 6).

John was patently focused (authorial intent) on the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Israel. The Apocalypse contains, according to some counts, over 400 echoes, allusions and citations of the Old Testament. Does this not suggest that his audience would understand (audience cognition) that John was focused on Torah and its fulfillment? And when we consider that John appeals, over and over, to the prophecies of Israel’s last days, and the promises of the vindication of the martyrs in Israel’s last days (e.g. Revelation 19:2–> Deuteronomy 32:43), this is highly suggestive, if not determinative, that we should not extrapolate our interpretation of Revelation beyond that time frame.

Further, given this hermeneutical framework, we can easily find that the terminology and thought of Jerusalem being the city that “ruled” over the earth was perfectly Jewish.

Chilton calls our attention to the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish thought: “Jerusalem, we must remember, was the capital city of the kingdom of priests, the place of the temple; within her walls sacrifices and prayers were offered for all nations. The Old Covenant system was a world order, the foundation on which the whole world was organized and maintained in stability. She covenantally represented all the nations of the world, and in her fall they collapsed.” (Vengeance, 1987)416.

While it is not a discussion of ruling the nations specifically, I think Wright’s comments on Israel’s self-identification and sense of self-importance is apropos to the discussion: “The fate of the nations was inexorably and irreversibly bound up with that of Israel…This point is of the utmost importance for the understanding of first-century Judaism and of emerging Christianity. What happens to the Gentiles is conditional upon, and conditioned by, what happens to Israel.” (N. T. Wright, Victory, 1996)308). This powerfully suggests that to the Jewish mind-set – the covenant world view of Revelation - Jerusalem did indeed rule the kings of the earth. (Much could be said in this regard about the Temple and the sacrifices offered there (for the nations) , and how they related to this issue, but I will forgo that discussion).

Here are a few additional thoughts from my book, Who Is This Babylon?:
Jeremiah says Jerusalem, in his time, was,“great among the nations, and princess of the provinces” (Lamentations 1:1)*. Jerusalem was set in the centre or “the midst of the nations” (Ezekiel 5:5). Davies says this means, “Here the emphasis is demographic, that is, on the visibility of the conduct of Jerusalem to all the nations of the world because of her centrality.” (W. D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land, (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1974)7). In fact, the Jewish concept was that there were concentric circles of holiness in the world, “Israel was the centre of the earth, Jerusalem was the centre of Israel, Mt. Zion, the centre of Jerusalem” (Davies, Land, 8). Keil says this means, “Jerusalem is described as forming the central point in the earth…neither in an external, geographical, nor in a purely typical sense, as the city that is blessed more than any other, but in a historical sense in so far as ‘God’s people and city actually stand in the central point of the God-directed world-development and its movements.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on Ezekiel, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1975)88).

* Note: in my Babylon book, I adduce over 20 parallels between the book of Lamentations and the Apocalypse. The parallels are impressive to say the least, but few commentators have noted them. However, these parallels are highly suggestive that Revelation is John’s prophetic “lamentation” over the impending destruction of Jerusalem. He would have had no reason to “lament” the fall of Rome.

Ogden suggests that the language of “ruling over the kings of the earth” has a distinctive meaning:
“The word reigneth in this text means, ‘has a kingship over’ or ‘having a kingdom over’ the kings of the earth. Vines says it means, ‘lit. hath a kingdom’ suggestive of a distinction between the sovereignty of mystic Babylon and that of ordinary sovereigns.’ In other words, Babylon has a sovereignty unlike that of earthly kings. Earthly kings rule through the power and authority of their position, but this city rules by virtue of its place, position and purpose in the world” (The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets, 2006)333.

The Psalmist said Jerusalem was, “the joy of the whole earth” (48:2). Josephus said Jerusalem was, “The seat of royalty, is supreme, exalted over all the adjacent region, as the head over the body.” (Josephus, Wars, cited in Russell, Parousia, 495).

It is clear, therefore, that, “ruleth over the kings of the earth,” from the Biblical, covenant perspective, is not a commentary on politics, but a distinctive perspective - she ruled because of her distinctive covenant relationship with YHVH.

A final thought: the word “earth” may not mean earth in the modern sense. Sometimes the word “earth” means land, and especially the land of Israel. Russell says translators are guilty of “incredible carelessness” when translating this word as earth instead of land (Parousia, 494).

In support of this is Acts 4:26-27. When speaking of Jesus’ trial before Pilate and the Sanhedrin, Peter cites Psalms 2, “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together.” The kings of the earth in this text are clearly not kings of the globe. Yet, they are the persecutors of the Lord, just as Babylon in Revelation. (Remember our point about the “partnership of persecution” in the previous article).

Smolarz agrees with this and cites Bauckham (Climax of Prophecy, 372), who calls attention to the “kings of the earth” who conspired against Jesus (Psalms 2), but he notes that in Acts 4:26-27 that is interpreted as the kings (rulers) of Judah. (Metaphor, 2011 240).

In line with the fact that we must view Revelation and its language within the context of the OT language and thought, consider how Revelation uses the term “kings of the earth” in other verses.

In Revelation 6:12-17, we find that in the Great Day of God’s Wrath, men would flee, including the, “kings of the earth.” The judgment of Revelation 6 and 16-18 are identical, but in chapter 6 there would be the possibility of flight. This at least precludes an “end of time” scene as sometimes suggested. But more, Revelation 6:12f is taken from Isaiah 2:10-21, a text that Jesus quotes in Luke 23:28-31 and applies to the impending fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Therefore, if Revelation 6 and 16-18 are the same, and if Revelation 6 is speaking of the judgment on Israel in AD 70, then the, “kings of the earth” over which Babylon ruled, and which would be judged with her, are not “universal kings.”

I would also note that Revelation 6 is a direct citation of Malachi 3:1-3 – “Who shall stand before him at his coming.” The thing to be noted about this is that the coming of the Lord in Malachi is His coming in judgment of Israel for violating Torah (v. 6). The sins listed there are straight out of Exodus 22:18f and Deuteronomy 27:19. The specifically stated punishment for those sins was national judgment. So, if John was anticipating the Great Day of the Lord in fulfillment of Isaiah 2 and Malachi 3, then unless Revelation 6 and Revelation 16-18 describe two totally different Days of the Lord, this means that the Great Day of the Lord against “Babylon” in Revelation was the Lord’s coming in AD 70 - judgment of Israel for violating Torah.

So, when we examine the language of Revelation in light of authorial intent and audience cognition, it is improper to view the language of “ruling over the kings of the earth” as referent to pagan Rome. Revelation is a thoroughly “covenantal” book, focused on the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, promises that were to be fulfilled in her last days.

Corresponding to this, when we examine how the OT and the Jews thought of Jerusalem, there is no dissonance in seeing Jerusalem as the city that ruled over the kings of the earth. The OT references to Jerusalem as the joy of the whole earth, the center of the earth, etc., demonstrate this.

When we see how “kings of the earth” is interpreted in Acts 4, we can see that it is not a referent to universal kings. At the most, it posits the partnership of persecution that Revelation 17 presents, but, as we have shown, the precludes Rome from being Babylon.

Revelation 6 foretold the same Day of the Lord as in Revelation 16-18. But, Revelation 6 is based on Isaiah 2:19f which Jesus applied to the impending judgment of Jerusalem. Likewise, Revelation 6 anticipated the imminent fulfillment of Malachi 3, a prophecy of the last days Day of the Lord against Jerusalem for violation of Torah.

Unless one can prove that Revelation 16-18 foretold a totally different Day of the Lord from that in Revelation 6 (and we might add, in Revelation 11) this serves as powerful evidence that Babylon in Revelation 16-18 was Old Covenant Jerusalem.

In my next installment, I will show that Revelation 16 cannot be referent to Rome as the Great City.

Hope everyone had a great holiday season! Here is my next to last article in response to Andrew’s points on Babylon of Revelation. Thanks to everyone for the encouraging private emails! Truly appreciate it, and I hope my thoughts are helpful.

Critique of Andrew Perriman on the Identity of Babylon of Revelation – His Point #18

Andrew’s point #18: “Earlier in Revelation Jerusalem is called “the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8). This great city is not to be confused with the second great city in Revelation, which is symbolically called “Babylon”. The seven bowls of Revelation 16 are poured out on Rome from the God who is “King of the nations” (Rev. 15:3). The sixth bowl prepares the way for the Parthian kings to invade Rome. The seventh bowl results in the “great city… Babylon the great” being split into three parts.”

Response:

1. I would ask: Where is the actual distinction between two “great city” identities? Where does the text of Revelation demand the identification of two “great cities”? I suggest that a close look at the description of the “great city” demands that it is but one city– Old Covenant Jerusalem.

If there are two great cities in Revelation, this would demand that we abandon the recapitulation pattern of the book. This is untenable. Notice some direct parallels in the descriptions of the great city in Revelation.

Both are the persecuting city. Both killed the prophets– and as shown, this includes OT prophets. Rome never killed an OT prophet.

The cup of sin for that persecution was full (6:9-11–>11:8 / Babylon 17:6f / 18:20-24).

Both are destroyed by earthquake (Jerusalem in 11:13–> Babylon in 16:18).

Martyrs are vindicated in the judgment of the city (Jerusalem– 11:15f / Babylon–> 18-19).

Kingdom and salvation arrives at the judgment of the city (Jerusalem–> 11:15f / Babylon– Revelation 19:1).

Both judged at the Great Day of the Lord (Jerusalem–> Rev. 6; 11 / Babylon–> Revelation 16; 19).

Both are Jewish in nature (Jerusalem–> 11:8) / Babylon is contrasted with the “Gentiles” in 16:19).

Called the great city (Jerusalem–> 11:8 / Babylon–>14:8; 16:9; 18:10).

There are other direct parallels in Revelation but this will suffice.

Andrew agrees that Revelation 11 speaks of Jerusalem as the great city. I fail to see any distinction between chapter 11 and the rest of the Apocalypse as to the identity of Babylon the great city.

2. A Consideration of the Seven Bowls and Entrance into the Mhp – Hebrews 9.
This point must be brief, although a volume could be written about it. I develop this issue extensively in my Who Is This Babylon book.

Hebrews 9:6-10 tells us that entrance into the Most Holy Place would not be opened until the end of Torah, when everything foretold by the Law was finally fulfilled. So, entrance into the MHP is inextricably tied to the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel.

Notice that in Revelation 11, John saw the Temple in heaven, he saw the Ark of the Covenant. This meant that the veil had been removed. However, in chapter 15:8 we are told that no man could enter the MHP until the wrath of God, contained in the seven bowls was completed. That wrath would be finished in the judgment of Babylon (Revelation 16:17f) when the seventh bowl would be poured out. Thus, entrance into the Most Holy Place would be opened at the judgment / destruction of Babylon. This raises a serious question.

What would the judgment on Rome have to do with entrance into the MHP? What was there about Rome that prevented anyone from entering God’s presence?

According to Hebrews 9, that which prevented entrance into the MHP was Torah and its inability to provide forgiveness of sin. Sin is what always separated man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). No forgiveness meant no entrance.

If we posit Revelation 11 as the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem – that is, the judgment on the Old Covenant world of Israel – then at that time entrance into the MHP should have been opened. However, if we posit Babylon as Rome, that means that entrance into the MHP would not come for another four centuries after the removal of Torah! I find that disjunctive. There is no suggestion in the entirety of the NT corpus where Rome is the “separating” entity. However, AD 70 was God’s judgment on that Old Covenant “ministration of death” that could not bring man into God’s presence.

Point # 3. Revelation 16 and Babylon - The Sixth bowl and martyr vindication– Great Day of the Lord– Revelation 6– Matthew 23– Luke 18.
Notice that in Revelation 16 the Great Day of the Lord is the time of the vindication of the martyrs. This is the recapitulation of chapter 6:9f, with the visionary promise of the Day of the Lord.

There are a couple of issues that need to be examined here.

I have already noted that in Revelation 6:12f John cites both Isaiah 2 and Malachi 3 as he anticipated the coming of the Great Day of the Lord. I have shown how Jesus directly cites Isaiah 2 in an unambiguous prediction of the coming judgment of Jerusalem (Luke 23:28f). Likewise, Malachi 3:1f was a prediction of the coming ministry of John - as Elijah - who would proclaim the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord against Israel for violating Torah (Malachi 3:6).

Now, unless Revelation 6 and Revelation 16 foretold two totally distinct Great Days of the Lord, in vindication of the martyrs – and both of those days are stated to be imminent in Revelation - then this serves as powerful demonstration that the great city in Revelation 16 was the same great city as in chapter11– Old Covenant Jerusalem. This is confirmed by the next point.

Point # 4 - Revelation 16, Babylon and “the prophets.”
In the NT, anytime the term “the prophets” is used, without a contextual qualifier (see e.g. 1 Corinthians 12 / Ephesians 4, etc.) the reference is invariably to the Old Covenant prophets. The same is true when it is simply “prophets.” There is no contextual qualifier in Revelation 16:6f that suggests that John is referring to prophets of Jesus as opposed to Old Covenant prophets.

Now, if it is true, and I have not found any evidence to the contrary, that “prophets” is a referent to Old Covenant prophets in Revelation 16, then since it is undeniably true that Rome never killed an Old Covenant prophet, then Rome could not be Babylon.

When we consider that Jesus said: “It is not possible that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:31), this serves as powerful evidence that Babylon was Old Covenant Jerusalem. (I am not arguing that Jesus was speaking in some woodenly literalistic manner in Luke. I am suggesting that the Biblical evidence is all but overwhelming in testifying that Jerusalem was the city that killed the prophets (Matthew 23 / Acts 7 1 Thessalonians 2). I fail to see where it is good hermeneutic to ignore that unbroken testimony).

Point # 5 - The Wrath of God Completed In the Seventh Bowl – Luke 21:22.
Notice again that in Revelation 16, we find the seven bowls of God’s wrath. The Lord’s wrath – in vengeance against the persecuting city and vindication of the martyrs - would be finished in the judgment of Babylon. When that judgment was completed, the kingdom and salvation arrived. Let us not forget that John was told repeatedly that fulfillment of the Apocalypse was at hand and coming quickly. Look now at Luke 21.

In Jesus’ prediction of the judgment of Jerusalem, he said, “these be the days of vengeance in which all things that are written must be fulfilled” (21:22). We thus have the consummation of the vengeance of God. Likewise, Jesus said that when those things would take place, “lift up your eyes, for you redemption draws near” (v. 28), and he added that when those things took place, the kingdom would be at hand (v. 31).

So, we have Jesus predicting the impending judgment and destruction of the city guilty of killing the prophets. That city would and did kill him, and, it is the city that would and did kill Jesus’ apostles and prophets. In that judgment, the wrath of God was consummated, all of the martyrs were vindicated and redemption and the kingdom arrived.

Likewise, in Revelation, we have the impending judgment and destruction of the city guilty of killing the prophets (16:6). We have the city “where the Lord was slain” (11:8). And we have the city that was guilty of killing Jesus’ apostles and prophets (18:20, 24). In that judgment, the wrath of God was consummated, all the martyrs were vindicated and redemption and the kingdom arrived (11:15f / 19:1-2).

I fail to see any distinction between these cities.

Point # 6 - The Great City Was Divided Into Three Parts
Revelation 16:19 tells us that the great city was divided into three parts. While Andrew mentions this he does not give us any reference of fulfillment in regard to Rome. Where or when was Rome divided into three parts? It certainly was not in the days of Nero or Domitian. However, we have excellent Old Covenant precedent for this language. Chilton notes that Revelation draws directly on Ezekiel 5:1-12. He then cites Carrington, (Meaning, 266) and Josephus, (Wars V:V. 1-5 – Vengeance, 415 ) who tell us that Jerusalem actually was divided into three opposing camps during the siege.

Point # 7 - Babylon Was “Remembered”
I have called attention a good bit to the covenantal language of Revelation and how this should guide us in our understanding of the book. John undeniably utilizes the language of God’s covenant with Israel as he describes the impending judgment of Babylon. One of those references may seem subtle, but, only if we ignore this covenantal context.

John was told that the great city Babylon was “remembered” in the coming judgment. The word “remembered” is covenantal to the core.

The word “remembered” (Strong’s #2142), if my count is correct, is used some 49 times in the OT. After a concordance study, I have been unable to find a clear cut example in which God “remembered” the sins of any nation except Israel. There are many examples of God remembering His covenant with them, of them forgetting their covenant with Him, of Him remembering their sin. Jehovah remembered His covenant with Abraham, Israel, or even different individuals. When used of Jehovah’s “remembering,” the word is used in the preponderant number of cases to refer to a recalling of covenant promises. There is no example of God “remembering” the sin of any nation except Israel—this is a distinctively covenantal concept. Perhaps I have missed something, but, this exclusive usage of covenantal language is all but determinative for our identity of Babylon - and it could not be Rome.

I suggest that this evidence above, both specific and cumulative, should persuade us that Babylon in Revelation was none other than Old Covenant, first century Jerusalem. Some of the descriptives in Revelation fit no other city. The covenantal nature of the language precludes application to Rome. When compared with Jesus’ teaching on the vindication of the martyrs, the evidence is all but overwhelming.

I will conclude my critique of Andrew’s points in my next installment. I truly appreciate this opportunity.

Perriman’s #19 - Revelation 18 Draws on Jeremiah’s Reference to Babylon

I hope to address Andrew’s responses to my earlier points in additional posts, but I am in the midst of some pressing duties right now, so I may be just a tad slow in response, but, I will respond as quickly as possible.

Here is his # 19: “The description of the fall of “Babylon the great” is pervaded with allusions to Old Testament oracles concerning Babylon and other Gentile cities. No obvious attempt is made to connect the narrative with Old Testament accounts of divine judgment against Jerusalem. “She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast” (Rev. 18:2) corresponds to the oracle against Babylon in Isaiah 13:21: “But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance” (Is. 13:21). “For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her” (Rev. 18:3) echoes Jeremiah’s denunciation of Babylon: “Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad” Jer. 51:7).”

Response:
It is true that Revelation 18 draws on Isaiah’s description of literal Babylon. However, perhaps this proves too much.

If it is going to be argued that John draws on Isaiah’s description of literal Babylon, then might we not argue that Revelation is about literal Babylon, as some do? This would be false of course. John’s statement that his book is symbolic suggests that we must realize that Babylon in Revelation is a symbol of some other city. Andrew posits Rome; I posit Jerusalem.

It needs to be noted that the description of the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18, as noted by Beale, also follows the sketch of Ezekiel 23:25-29, 47, “the prophecy of apostate Jerusalem’s judgment by God.” (Revelation, 883). Thus, it cannot be argued that because Revelation draws on the OT references to the destruction of literal Babylon that this excludes a symbolic referent to Jerusalem.

Also, chapter 16 as noted earlier, is drawn directly from Ezekiel 5 – the description of the fall of Jerusalem– John applies it to Babylon.

Also, Revelation 17 and its description of the harlot is directly parallel with Ezekiel 16 - Jerusalem as the harlot - and the parallels are impressive.

In Ezekiel 16:12, the Lord adorned Jerusalem with precious stones and costly raiment, He placed a crown on her head, and “she succeeded to royalty.”(cf. Isaiah 3; Jeremiah 4:30). In Revelation 17:4, Babylon wears precious stones and the colors of royalty.

In Ezekiel 16:14, Jerusalem’s influence, “went out among the nations”; in Revelation 18:18, Babylon reigns over “the kings of the earth.”

In Ezekiel 16:15, Jerusalem played the harlot with the nations. In Revelation 17:2, 5 Babylon is the harlot committing fornication with the “kings of the earth.”

In Ezekiel 16:35-43, those with whom Jerusalem committed immorality turned on her and killed her. In Revelation 17:16, the beast that bore Babylon on his back turns on her, and burns her with fire. Incidentally, as Chilton and others have noted, the “burning with fire” was the Old Testament punishment for a priest’s daughter that had become a harlot (Leviticus 21:9). (Vengeance, 439)

In Ezekiel 16, Jerusalem’s former lovers strip her, and leave her naked. In Revelation, Babylon is stripped naked, and deserted by her lovers (17:16).

Since Revelation draws from Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s descriptions of the judgment of Jerusalem it cannot simply be asserted that since he also draws on Isaiah’s description of a pagan city, that this demands that John was likewise referring to a pagan city. John’s OT citations are preponderantly references to Old Covenant Jerusalem. This should not be ignored.

I made the point earlier that the term ‘harlot” in Revelation carries with it the idea of a bride that has broken covenant. Andrew rejects that, making two observations:

1. The word moichalis – adulterous - is not in Revelation, thus, Jesus’ accusation against Jerusalem being the “adulterous generation” does not fit Revelation where the word porneia is used.

Response: This is hardly a sound objection. To suggest that the absence of specific words excludes a given doctrine is tenuous. The motifs of Revelation match Jesus’ “adulterous generation” description and clearly point to Babylon being an adulterous wife.

In the OT, porneia is used to speak of Israel’s adulterous ways. In the LXX of Hosea 2:1-2, porneia and moichalis are used in a parallelism. In Jeremiah 3, the context is about Israel’s marital infidelity, yet, porneia is the word used repeatedly. In Jewish thought harlotry (porneia) and marital infidelity patently go hand in hand.

2. Andrew finds two cities, Tyre and Nineveh, that bore the epithet of harlot, yet, they were not in a marital, covenant relationship with YHVH. Thus, he urges, “You cannot just invent a previous covenant relationship for Tyre and Nineveh to suit your argument.”

Response: I am not inventing a covenant relationship for Tyre and Nineveh. Those two instances of harlot imagery are exceptions to the normal usage of the term. Significantly however, in the LXX, porneia is essentially the word of choice to describe Israel’s adultery - her violation of the marriage covenant (cf. Ezekiel 16, 23, LXX). One statistical analysis noted that: “almost all occurrences of the prostitution metaphor (86 of 91 times) apply to the people of the Covenant (Israel, Judah or Jerusalem – they applied to the Covenant people, DKP). Once it applies to the original ‘inhabitants of the land’ (Exodus 34:15) and in the remaining few occurrences (4 out of 91) it is used of Nineveh (Nah. 3, 4.4.4) and Tyre (Isaiah 23:17).” (http://newtorah.org/Babylon%20of%20Rev%2017.html#70).

So, the OT, the source of the Apocalypse, porneia is used, in the huge majority of cases, to refer to Israel / Jerusalem, the wife who broke covenant. It clearly is not wrong to suggest that the language of Babylon as a harlot speaks of a covenant relationship that has been violated. That is, by far, the majority of its application in scripture. In light of the fact that Andrew admits that covenant language is in fact utilized in Revelation sharpens this focus. Thus, it demands powerful evidence to counter that. To brush this consistent usage and application aside because of two exceptions is an improper hermeneutic, especially in light of the rest of the parallels between Jerusalem and the content of Revelation.

This covenantal nature of language is tremendously important. Andrew admits: “Remembering iniquities is covenant language, but the best Old Testament antecedents for “for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:5) are texts which refer to Babylon and Nineveh.”

Response: Of course, God was aware of the sins of pagan nations. No one denies that. However, the distinctive covenant terminology in Revelation is not in those texts. It is one thing to speak of God being aware of the sins of the nations. It is another entirely to incorporate distinctively covenantal language like John does in his description of Babylon. This is apples and oranges. When John incorporated distinctively covenantal language in Revelation 16 & 18 – even when he draws from the references to Babylon in the Tanakh - perhaps this should cue us into the fact that his symbolic referent is to the covenant city.

I have called attention to the fact that Babylon of Revelation was guilty of killing the apostles and prophets. I called careful attention to the fact that the term ‘the prophets” or its anarthrous counterpart “prophets” when used without a contextual qualifier, invariably referred to OT prophets - not to the prophets of Jesus. Andrew responds: “Since both the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem and the pagan authorities persecuted the followers of Jesus, it is hardly surprising that both Jerusalem and Rome are condemned for killing the apostles, prophets and saints.”

This ignores the real issue: Even if / when Rome was involved in Christian persecution, so far as the NT record is concerned, it was invariably the Jews at the root cause. In that record, “pagan” persecution against the church is rare. And as we have noted, Rome never killed an OT prophet. Thus, unless it can effectively be shown that John is violating the normal, unqualified usage of “the prophets” and “prophets” as referent to Old Covenant prophets, Babylon of Revelation cannot be Rome.

Jesus said he was sending his apostles and prophets to Jerusalem - not Rome (Luke 11:49f). He said: “It is not possible that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem.”

When we also compare the language of Babylon being guilty of shedding all the blood shed on the earth (Revelation 18:20-24) with Jesus’ temple discourse where he said it was Jerusalem that was guilty of shedding all the blood shed on the earth, I fail to see how we can ignore the connections..

Jesus said Jerusalem had killed the OT prophets–> In Revelation, Babylon had killed the prophets.

Jesus said he would send his apostles and prophets to Jerusalem and Jerusalem would kill them–> Babylon had, or was, killing Jesus’ apostles and prophets.

Jesus said Jerusalem would fill the measure of her sin - extending back through her history to include the killing of the OT prophets by killing his apostles and prophets–> Babylon of Revelation held the cup full of the blood of the martyrs– inclusive of the OT prophets, and the blood of the apostles and prophets of Jesus. Where in Revelation do we find a disjunction between the killing of OT prophets / saints and those killed by Babylon? We do not find it. There is an organic unity in this theme.

Jesus said judgment on Jerusalem for that internecine history would come in his generation–> Judgment was coming on Babylon very soon. I have made the point repeatedly that the judgment of Rome fell well outside that temporal “at hand” and “coming quickly.” This is a critical point that has been ignored.

Andrew seeks to counter these impressive parallels - without addressing them specifically - by noting that: “I agree that there are parallels between the account of judgment on Jerusalem and the account of judgment on Babylon the great, but there are similar parallels in the Old Testament—for example, the language of cosmic dissolution is applied both to Jerusalem and to Babylon.”

This misses the point, badly. The language of “cosmic dissolution” was the stock in trade language to describe the fall of any nation through the Sovereign intervention of YHVH. However, when speaking of historical realities, of guilt for specific sins / crimes, and all of this in the context of covenantal language and sanctions, this is totally different. To reiterate, Rome never killed an OT prophet. Rome is not where the Lord was slain, and to simply claim that the city in Revelation is a different city from that in later chapters does not prove a distinction.

In both Revelation 11 and the later chapters, martyr vindication is the key motif. Both Jesus and Paul are explicit in positing the vindication of the martyrs at the time of the judgment of one city - Jerusalem. That vindication is tied to his parousia (Matthew 21:40f / Luke 18:8). The view that there are two cities in Revelation demands that John was predicting two parousias of Christ for the vindication of the martyrs, and those parousias are divided by a span of 400 years. I find no justification for such a temporal disconnect.

By the way, Andrew, you said I had not addressed your point #10. According to my records, I posted an article specifically addressing that point on December 12 of last year. Did it not actually get posted? Let me know.

I would note however, that unless I missed your comments, you ignored my points concerning:
The partnership of persecution in Revelation 17. Only Nero and Jerusalem fits.
The motif of entrance into the MHP. Rome had nothing to do with this motif.
The completion of the wrath of God- as it relates to Luke 21:22.
The City being divided into three parts. Rome never was.
And several other points.

Closing question: Andrew, you say that Revelation 16 refers to the Parthian invasion of Rome. Which invasion do you refer to?

Thanks!

Andrew Perriman and Enoch– The Seven Hills- My Response

Andrew argues that Rome is the Harlot Babylon seated on seven hills. The seven hills is essentially synonymous with Babylon. I argue that there is a distinction between the Harlot city and the seven hills. Here is what I argued– in “Reader’s Digest” form.

“In chapter 17 the woman (Babylon) rides upon the Beast. And, Babylon is one entity, and the place of the seven hills is another. As Smalley says: “The woman in 17:3 is closely associated with the beast (‘mounted on it’), but not equated with it” (2005, Revelation, 429). Likewise, Beagley says, “Babylon, though associated with Rome, is not to be identified with it” (1987, 107). In other words, the woman (Babylon) is not the beast, the woman rides on the beast.”

Now, while I took note of the book of Enoch and its referent to the seven mountains, and posited a connection with Jerusalem (and to me, the language there is somewhat ambiguous) I actually stated that I was not placing my emphasis on Enoch. Here is what I wrote:

“First of all, there is little doubt that Enoch does refer to seven hills, and the “holy mountain” is, as Andrew notes, Jerusalem. What is overlooked is that the central, “holy mountain” sits on, “seven dignified mountains” (24:2). We thus have a direct reference to the seven hills in direct connection with “Jerusalem.” There are in fact, several significant sources that clearly pointed to Jerusalem as sitting on seven hills. But, I am not making that point.”

Please note that I emphatically stated that Enoch was not a point of emphasis for me.

Andrew now responds by actually making my argument for me! :-) Remember, I am making the point that the seven hills and Babylon are not the same. You thus have two locations either stated or implied. But notice Andrew’s point drawn from Enoch:

“So we have two different locations: a place where there are seven mountains, where the throne of God is, and three mountains in the centre of the earth, where Jerusalem is. There is no “direct connection”.

Andrew says: “Don, if you read the passage (1 En. 24-25), it’s clear that the seven mountains and the holy city are not the same.”

I fully concur! But note, that if the place of the seven mountains is where the throne of God is, then that patently could not be referent to Rome. Where was the throne of God? It most assuredly was not in Rome.

If we are going to appeal to writings such as Enoch - which, remember, I specifically said I am not doing - then Enoch’s testimony delineates between the place of the seven hills– and yet, of logical necessity demands that it would be Jerusalem.

This is why I consider the language of Enoch to be ambiguous and it is why I specifically said I was not making my point from Enoch.

How could it ever be affirmed that the throne of God was anywhere but Jerusalem? How could it be affirmed that Jerusalem was in one location and the throne of God was in another - far separated from one another? That is clearly not proper Hebraic thought.

However, if we are going to appeal to Enoch- as Andrew does - then Enoch shows that the locus of the seven hills could not in any way be Rome because it was where the throne of God was! Enoch’s unmistakable identification of the seven hills as the locus of the throne of God, if applied to Revelation 17, eliminates Rome as Babylon.

I will address Andrew’s response to my thoughts on Revelation next week, if at all possible.

This is why I have emphasized repeatedly that we should rely on the internal evidence of Revelation for our identity of Babylon. Andrew has suggested that we should rely equally on the external, and even non-Christian sources, such as the DSSs, or the rabbis who identify Rome as Babylon. As I have noted, Revelation was written as a “mystery” to be understood by those within the Spirit guided community, not by those who were not on the “inside.”

To rely on the testimony of the sectarian, non-Christian sources such as the Qumran community would be tantamount to saying that since they identified the “Teacher of Righteousness” as one of their members, that therefore Jesus was a member of the DS community. After all, he was the Teacher of Righteousness. Likewise, one could argue that since the DSC utilized the term “son of God” and “son of man” that they meant the same thing that Jesus did when he used those terms. This is untenable.

Only by looking at the testimony of Jesus and his followers to we understand how he and they used the same language as used by other groups and yet, they “re-defined” those terms in totally distinctive ways. (Just as Jesus and the Jews used the identical terminology of “the kingdom” and yet, they meant totally different things!) This demands that we rely on that internal evidence.

Don K. Preston

There is nothing to suggest that Enoch equated the seven mountains with Rome, but Enoch does unambiguously differentiate between the seven mountains and the three mountains of Jerusalem. The “holy mountain” of Jerusalem is in the centre of the earth; the seven mountains are at the end of the earth:

I saw at the end of the earth the firmament of the heaven above. And I proceeded and saw a place which burns day and night, where there are seven mountains of magnificent stones, three towards the east, and three towards the south. And as for those towards the east, was of coloured stone, and one of pearl, and one of jacinth, and those towards the south of red stone. But the middle one reached to heaven like the throne of God, of alabaster, and the summit of the throne was of sapphire. (1 En. 18:6–8; cf. 31:1-32:1)

1 Enoch 77:1 suggests that the mountain on which God will descend (cf. 25:3) is in the south of the earth.

So there is no “logical necessity” that the seven mountains are Jerusalem. That flies in the face of the evidence.

Remember, 1 Enoch came up because some Preterists argue that Jerusalem was thought to have been a city on seven hills. This passage provides no support for that view, which makes the Babylon the great = the city of Rome claim that much more likely.

And I repeat my point that it is very bad exegesis to ignore the evidence from non-biblical sources. Revelation speaks in the idiom of Jewish apocalypticism. Clearly we should not expect it to conform at every point to other Jewish and Jewish-Christian texts, but to disregard the external evidence simply because it contradicts your point of view seems to me a blinkered approach.

Besides, it is Preterists who appeal to 1 Enoch 24-25 in support of their seven hills of Jerusalem argument. If there was evidence that Jewish writers from the period typically spoke of “seven-hilled Jerusalem”, you would surely cite it in support of your argument. 

My Thoughts on Enoch #2

Good morning, Andrew!

Andrew says: “There is nothing to suggest that Enoch equated the seven mountains with Rome, but Enoch does unambiguously differentiate between the seven mountains and the three mountains of Jerusalem. The “holy mountain” of Jerusalem is in the centre of the earth; the seven mountains are at the end of the earth”

My point precisely! Enoch does not equate the seven mountains with Rome and cannot be construed as such. Thus, even if one wanted to appeal to Enoch as commentary on Revelation, it does not fit Rome as Babylon sitting on the seven hills!

To say that some preterists appeal to Enoch is not the same as saying Preston relies on Enoch. I simply noted that there are some who do see a connection, and one can read it that way.

But, let me reiterate, I do not rely on Enoch as I have stated repeatedly.

Let me reiterate my point, which was essentially ignored:
How could it ever be affirmed that the throne of God was anywhere but Jerusalem? How could it be affirmed that Jerusalem was in one location and the throne of God was in another - far separated from one another? That is clearly not proper Hebraic thought.

However, if we are going to appeal to Enoch then Enoch shows that the locus of the seven hills could not in any way be Rome because it was where the throne of God was! Enoch’s unmistakable identification of the seven hills as the locus of the throne of God, if applied to Revelation 17, eliminates Rome as Babylon.

I noted that we cannot rely on non-Christian testimony for our interpretation illustrating how this is untenable. Andrew says we should not expect a point by point agreement. This is a tacit agreement that in some - perhaps many? - cases, we must in fact reject the non-Christian testimony and rely on the internal evidence of scripture. I see no reason or evidence to reject this hermeneutical approach.

My point is confirmed by the fact that Revelation accused Babylon of doing what no other city did: killing the OT prophets. Thus, even if the Rabbis pointed the finger at Rome as Babylon – and most assuredly they did not do so in the same way that Revelation does - then their identification conflicts with the internal evidence of Revelation. They identified Rome as Babylon because Rome destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. And by and large - with some exceptions e.g. the DSC - they did that after AD 70.

Revelation identifies Babylon based on her guilt of killing the prophets - and Rome never did that. It identifies Babylon based on her long bloody history of persecuting the saints - Rome had no such long history. Where are the rabbinic sources accusing Rome of killing the apostles and prophets of Jesus? Where are the rabbis identifying Rome as the city with a long history of killing the prophets sent to her?

How do we divorce Jesus’ words in Luke 11:49f or his words in Luke 13:28f from John’s description in Revelation? Should not Jesus’ identification of Jerusalem as the city guilty of the very things that John describes in Revelation take precedent over the later rabbinic sources?

Andrew says that if the non-Christian testimony agreed with the internal evidence, that I would appeal to it. Guilty as charged! But, to reject the internal evidence and rely on the uninspired external evidence is tenuous at best. I interpret from internal evidence to external, not from external to internal.

Those are two totally different perspectives.

And let me add again what I have noted several times. In Revelation, the destruction of Babylon was imminent, “at hand” and coming soon. If, therefore, we identify Babylon as Rome, these temporal delimations become meaningless. The destruction of Rome was 400 years away, and that simply does not fit the linguistic demands of “behold, I come quickly.” Four centuries away, was not “at hand.”

How could it ever be affirmed that the throne of God was anywhere but Jerusalem? How could it be affirmed that Jerusalem was in one location and the throne of God was in another - far separated from one another? That is clearly not proper Hebraic thought.

The author of 1 Enoch seems to me very clearly to put Jerusalem and the seven mountains where the throne of God is in two different places—Jerusalem (with three mountains) at the centre of the earth, and the seven mountains at the periphery. You can’t just dismiss what the text says.

The throne of God is in heaven. He may take his throne in other places. Life of Adam and Eve says that the throne of God was fixed in Eden. Enoch’s throne is perhaps the place where God will descend to judge humanity. Isaiah sees YHWH enthroned in the temple (Is. 6). Daniel sees thrones et up somewhere on earth for judgment (Dan. 7:9). On a quick search it seems that the Isaiah passage is the only place in the Old Testament and Pseudepigrapha (correct me if I’m wrong) where it is said that God has his throne in Jerusalem.

Peter In Babylon -Again
Andrew offered some thoughts in response to my article on Peter’s reference to Babylon. Andrew says Peter was in Rome. I believe Peter was in Jerusalem and referencing that city as the city of bondage, corruption and persecution.

Andrew offered this:
<5. Your argument about filling up the measure of sins seems to me to miss the point, at least as far as Peter is concerned. Even if we allow that Peter had the imminent judgment on Jerusalem and the vindication of Christian victims of Jewish persecution in mind, this has no bearing on his reference to Babylon. Peter is in Rome, which he refers to as Babylon because it will be the instrument of God’s punishment of Israel, and he writes to a Jewish-Christian diaspora about their suffering and coming vindication.>

I fail to see how my point about Peter’s reference to filling the measure misses the point. It demonstrates that Peter was in lock step with Jesus and Paul in regard to the identity of the persecutor.

I would ask, Andrew, where is the unequivocal reference to Rome as the persecutor, that had filled the measure of her sin by persecuting the saints to be found in the NT? I am not asking for an interpretive reference based on presupposition. I am asking, where do we find a clear cut, unambiguous reference to Rome as the city guilty of killing the prophets, of Jesus, of Jesus’ apostles and prophets, consequently filling the measure of her sin. We find those unambiguous references to Jerusalem in Jesus (Matthew 23) and Paul (1 Thessalonians 2), but, where do we find them in either Peter or John?

The motif of persecution permeates Peter’s epistles, both of them. Furthermore, the promise of imminent vindication likewise pours from the text repeatedly. So, as I have noted, the destruction of Rome lies well beyond the purview of that imminence. It is far beyond, “the time has come for the judgment” (1 Peter 4:17), and the fact that Peter said his audience only had to suffer “for a little while” (correlating perfectly with Revelation 6) before the parousia of Christ in vindication of their suffering (1 Peter 1:5f). This connection is important.

In Revelation 6:12f, we find the prediction of the Great Day of the Lord, in response to the promise to the martyrs that their vindication would come in a little while. In light of that impending Day, it is asked “Who is able to stand.” This is a direct echo of Malachi 3:1-3. This suggests that John was anticipating the same Day as that foretold by Malachi 3. It is important to realize that Malachi’s Day would be in judgment of Israel for violating Torah, as 3:5 clearly shows. Thus, this means that the Day of the Lord of Revelation 6 would be the day of judgment on Israel for violating the Law of Moses.

But, in Revelation 16, we have the same Great Day of the Lord’s wrath foretold, and it is the time of the vindication of the martyrs - just like that in Revelation 6. I would offer this:

The Great Day of the Lord of Revelation 16 is the same Great Day of the Lord of Revelation 6:12-17– the time of the vindication of the martyrs.

But, the Day of the Lord of Revelation 6:12f would be in fulfillment of Malachi 3:1-5– a Day of Judgment of Israel for violating Torah.

Therefore, the Day of the Lord of Revelation 16– the time of the judgment of Babylon - was the time of the judgment of Israel for violating Torah. That was patently in AD 70.

To frame it another way:

The Day of the Lord of Revelation 6 is the Day of the Lord of Revelation 16– the time of the vindication of the martyrs.

The Day of the Lord of Revelation 6 would be in fulfillment of Malachi 3:1-5– the Day of the Lord in judgment of Israel for violating Torah.

Therefore, the Day of the Lord of Revelation 16, the Day of the Lord against Babylon, was the Day of the Lord in judgment of Israel for violating Torah. - AD 70.

Revelation 16 is clearly Revelation 6 recapitulated. Thus, there is one Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Revelation 6 was against Jerusalem. Revelation 16 was against “Babylon,” but, it is the same Great and Terrible Day of the Lord as in Revelation 6. Therefore, Babylon was Old Covenant Jerusalem.

Let me reiterate my point that Revelation 16 is the Great Day of the Lord against Babylon for killing the prophets. Rome never killed an OT prophet– Jesus said “it is not possible that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem.”

Peter and Revelation 6 (not to mention the entirety of Revelation 14-19) agree on motif, theme and promise. This raises, once again, a question I have posed about three times.

If we accept that Peter and John anticipated the impending, imminent judgment on Jerusalem, which as I read Andrew’s comments above seems to be acknowledged, then this means that we have a coming of Christ that was truly imminent. If, however, we also posit that Peter and John were predicting the fall of Rome as the persecutor of God’s saints, then this demands that we have two parousias in view, in both Peter and Revelation. Both were said to be imminent. Yet, one would happen within a very few short years, while the other would not occur for four centuries. This is problematic to say the least. I see no justification for this.

There is something here that should be noted. As we have emphasized, Revelation 16 is the judgment of Babylon for killing the prophets. In Revelation 11 we have the judgment of Jerusalem for killing the prophets. In Revelation 11 that time of vindication is the time of the kingdom- AD 70 (Cf. Luke 21:28-32). In Revelation 19, the judgment of Babylon is the time of the full arrival of the kingdom and salvation.

Were the prophets rewarded at the fall of Jerusalem, and then four centuries later, rewarded again? According to Daniel 12, the time of the rewarding of the prophets, would be at the end of the age, when the righteous would shine in the kingdom - this is Revelation 11 and chapter 19 as well.

It is one story, one narrative, to be fulfilled at the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel in AD 70, when “the power of the holy people” was completely shattered.

I want to thank Andrew once again for allowing this exchange. I think it has been and continues to be helpful. I want to address one of Andrew’s most recent posts.

Andrew Perriman– The Nature of Fulfillment

Andrew, responding to Matt Colvin, tells us that we should not be overly concerned with the nature of the fulfillment of prophecy.

Here is what Andrew says:
“First, I don’t think it’s a good idea to do biblical interpretation in the light of how things turned out. If interpretation of a prophetic text really cannot be resolved, then I guess it’s fair enough to pick the reading that lines up best with the actual course of events. But as far as I can see, the exegetical evidence is firmly in favour of the view that Babylon-the-great refers to Rome. I have made the further point that such an interpretation is fully consistent with the pattern of judgment on Israel followed by judgment on the foreign city that we find in the Old Testament and Jewish apocalyptic texts.”

Andrew then makes a point with which I could agree to a certain degree: “Neither prophecy was fulfilled according to the letter of the text, but the point is that the hostile régime was overthrown, leading to the fulfilment of YHWH’s purposes.”

I agree that sometimes we get too hung up on the minute details of prophetic language, resulting in the imposition of a wooden literalism that is foreign to Hebraic Apocalyptic. I would affirm that the point of the apocalyptic language is a mental word picture. I believe Andrew would agree in principle with this. But, there is something else here.

Andrew has appealed to Revelation 16-17 and, following Aune, says that John was drawing on the Nero redivivus rumor. I reject that because this would mean that John, who claimed to be writing under the influence of the Spirit, was making a false prediction. The language to describe the partnership of persecution cannot be described as purely Apocalyptic, hyperbolic language. Thus, it is “apples and oranges” to suggest - if that is what Andrew is intimating - that we should not be overly concerned with “how things turned out.” There is a vast difference between Apocalyptic language and the narrative that John lays out in Revelation 16-17. Granted he utilizes Apocalyptic to a degree, but, it would have to be demonstrated that his reference to that partnership of persecution, the reference to the turning against the city and its subsequent destruction was not a prediction of literal events. So, to repeat, the Nero redivivus rumor was false. It is, I am convinced, wrong to base our identity of Babylon on the premise that John was utilizing that false rumor.

I have noted repeatedly, and have seen no response, that there was no such partnership of persecution under any emperor other than Nero.

Andrew reminds us that Revelation 18 draws from Jeremiah’s description of the fall of literal Babylon. That is certainly true, and I have not denied that. I have shown, however, with equal force, that John also draws from Ezekiel’s description of the fall of Jerusalem to almost the same extent. There is no exclusive use of Jeremiah’s language in Revelation 18.

I would like to take note of something here. In his often excellent book, The Coming of the Son of Man, (p. 109f) Andrew calls attention to the eschatological nature of the, “sufferings of this present time” in Romans 8. He calls attention to the fact that those sufferings cannot be “generalized” into some vague reference to the nature of the Christian experience throughout time. The sufferings being experienced by the Romans were specifically related to filling up the sufferings of Christ: “The experience of suffering is central to the Apocalyptic narrative told in the early church and cannot be marginalized in our reading simply because it is marginal to the modern interpretive tradition, and, indeed, to the life of the Western church.” (113).

He then adds: “It is clear, however, that Pau did not expect the period of crisis to last very long. The time ‘has grown very short,’ (1 Corinthians 7:29); ‘the present form of this world is passing away’ (7:31)… These statements must imply a restricted outlook on the future. There is a tendency for interpreters to universalize what Paul has to say about the immediate circumstances faced by the Corinthians, so that his teaching in this chapter acquires more an existential than an eschatological character” (113)… Paul’s whole argument presupposes an exceptional and limited period of distress, not the general open-ended conditions of the church’s existence.” (Ibid).

I could not agree more with this assessment. But, I would make a few quick observations.

Paul is writing to those in Rome who were clearly under extreme persecution. However, they patently were not, at this stage, being persecuted by Rome! If Paul wrote this epistle circa 57+ that is well before Nero ever instigated his oppressive measures. It was the Jews and the Jews only who were the movers and shakers of the “sufferings of this present time” in Romans.

So, here was Paul, addressing Roman Christians, who were, per Andrew’s view, living in “Babylon.” Yet, not a hint of that identification from Paul. Not even a reference to Rome as the symbol of moral degeneracy, and the corruptor of the nations. If one honors the historical, chronological reality, and applies the epithet of Babylon (as persecutor) at this stage in history, then it clearly could not and did not refer to Rome.

Andrew’s proper emphasis on the imminence of the eschatological consummation must be taken seriously, and when we conflate that expectation with Revelation it excludes any identification of Rome as Babylon.

Again, Paul was writing to the Roman church, about persecution, but did not, because he could not, identify Rome as the persecutor.

Andrew says that the suffering of the Romans is directly related to filling the measure of Christ’s suffering. Amen. Was the suffering of the saints at the hand of “Babylon” not part of that (Revelation 17-18)? The question is, how do we extrapolate the filling up of that measue of suffering centuries beyond where scripture posit is?

Jesus said the measure of sin would be filled by Jerusalem in his generation, in the killing of the apostles and prophets he would send. Andrew even points to this fact (Coming, 190). Paul said the martyrdom of the apostles was climax of filling the measure of Christ’s suffering (Colossians 1:24-26). He said, speaking of the suffering of the apostles: “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9– and once again, he was writing before Rome ever became a persecutor!). Now, since Babylon bore the specific guilt of killing the apostles and prophets (and Jesus said he was sending Jerusalem his apostles and prophets), how do we divorce the filling up of the measure of Christ’s suffering from the guilt of Jerusalem, where Jesus squarely placed it?

Paul was expecting the imminent eschatological consummation - the vindication of the suffering being experienced by the Romans. This is precisely what Revelation posits. Andrew tells us that Paul was, “not looking out across the hazy expanses of the universal human, or, even Christian, condition; he is looking down the dark and narrow gully of an impending eschatological crisis. He is not writing for those of us who live on the distant plains; he is writing for believers in Rome and in the Roman world who were about to venture nervously into the gully, down the twisted path that leads to life” (109). (I really like the way Andrew expresses this! Good writing!)

But wait! Was John expecting a different eschatological fulfillment from what Paul predicted? If Paul was not looking centuries down through the “hazy expanses” then how can we posit that John was looking four centuries down the “hazy expanses?” Isn’t 400 years a pretty hazy expanse? Since Paul was ostensibly writing from “Babylon” per Andrew, how do we extend the imminence of Romans, (that Andrew says cannot extend into the distant future), into the hazy future of four centuries away?

Paul predicted the soon coming crushing of Satan, the persecutor of the saints in Rome (16:20). John anticipated the crushing of Satan the persecutor at the end of the Millennium, and expected it to come at the parousia of Christ - very soon.

Paul anticipated the “redemption of creation” very soon (cf. Andrew’s excellent comments on this (Coming, 110f). That redemption of creation is the New Heaven and Earth that John said repeatedly was very near in Revelation 21-22.

Directly related to this is that in Romans, Paul is focused on God’s faithfulness to Israel, and is concerned with the ultimate salvation of “all Israel” (Romans 11:25f). Likewise, in Revelation 14, at the judgment of Babylon we have the coming of the Son of Man and the harvest of “all Israel” (the twelve tribes).

This raises the question, if the consummation of Israel’s covenant age at the parousia, is depicted as occurring at the judgment of Babylon in Revelation 14, do we not have a right to ask: In what way was the destruction of Rome related to, indeed necessary, for the consummation of Israel’s covenant age? Did Israel’s covenant age- Torah - endure until the fall of Rome? That is hardly tenable (Hebrews 8:13 / 9:6-10). In Hebrews 9, Israel’s salvation, entrance into the MHP comes at the end of Torah. In Revelation 15-16, entrance into the MHP comes at the judgment of Babylon, as we developed. But I do not recall receiving a response to this important question.

A critical point: Paul anticipated the vindication of the martyrs in fulfillment of the Song of Moses the prediction of Israel’s last days Moses (Romans 12:19–> Deuteronomy 32:35). Likewise, John predicted the imminent judgment of Babylon and vindication of the martyrs in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32:43–> Revelation 19:1-2). How do we then extrapolate beyond that covenantal context?

So, Andrew points us in the direction of a fulfilled eschatological narrative in Romans. Yet, when it comes to Revelation, even though the language of imminence is even more graphic, and even though both Romans and Revelation were focused on the fulfillment of the Song of Moses, he points us four centuries beyond that imminent fulfillment to the judgment of a pagan entity not mentioned in the Song. Yet, the themes are the same in both books. The motifs are identical. The specific blood guilt is the same. The temporal delimitations are the same.

It worthy of note that Andrew, commenting on Revelation 6 and the martyrs under the altar, identifies them as the OT Worthies of Matthew 23:34-36 / Hebrews 11: “The ‘souls’ of those Jews throughout the ages who have suffered at the hands of sinful Israel” (Coming, 190). He identifies the Great Day of the Lord in which they would be vindicated as the fall of Jerusalem (191). I fully concur. But that raises a question that I have posed previously and have received no response.

Revelation 6 is the Day of the Lord in vindication of the martyrs– all the martyrs back to creation, which means they are Old Covenant saints.

That was in AD 70 in the judgment of Jerusalem, per Andrew.

Revelation 16 is the Day of the Lord in vindication of the martyrs – specifically, the Old Covenant prophets. See my earlier comments on the identity of “the prophets.” Since Revelation 19 is about the vindication of the martyrs in judgment of Israel, in Israel’s last days, that means it is about the vindication of Old Covenant saints as well.

The Day of the Lord of Revelation 6 / 16 / 19 is the judgment of Babylon for killing OT saints and prophets.

Rome never killed an Old Covenant saint or prophet.

Only Jerusalem was guilty of killing the Old Covenant saints and prophets.

Therefore, Babylon was Old Covenant Jerusalem.

There are not two Great and Terrible Days of the Lord in Revelation, in vindication of the Old Covenant saints and prophets. So, to reiterate and emphasize, since Rome was never accused of killing Old Covenant saints / prophets, then Babylon cannot be Rome.

Any identity of Babylon must fit the temporal delimitation, the singular parousia, the covenant framework, and the specific guilt described in Romans and Revelation. Rome does not fit.