Three Angels of Revelation 14:6-12
Chapter 3
by J.N.Andrews

Proclamation of the Second Angel

Time of this Proclamation
Derivation of the term Babylon
Babylon not the Wicked World
Not the City of Rome Explanation of Symbols
The Seven Heads of the Beast
Rome the Seat of the of the Beast
Babylon not a Literal city
Meaning of the Symbol
Facts which identify Protestants as a part of this Great City.

"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city because she made all nations drink of the wine of wrath of her fornication. " Rev. 14:8..

Time of Proclamation

THE first important inquiry relates to the time when this proclamation is to be made. As this angel follows the one who proclaims the hour of God's Judgment, it is evident that this proclamation is the next event in order. And as it has been shown that the proclamation of the hour of God's Judgment is addressed to those who live in the last days, it is certain that the Second Angel's Message belongs to the same time, and that it was not fulfilled centuries in the past. And the fact that at the time when this proclamation of the fall of Babylon is made, the plagues and utter destruction of Babylon, which came under the seventh vial, are then immediately impending, is also conclusive proof that this proclamation belongs to the last days. Rev. 18:1- 10; 16:17-21. 21.

Page 37
We conclude, therefore, that the generation that shall be alive when the plagues are poured out on Babylon, is the one to which the Second Angel's Message is addressed.


Derivation of the Term Babylon

Our next inquiry relates to the meaning of the term Babylon. What is designated by the word Babylon in the book of Revelation?

The word Babylon signifies confusion, and is derived from Babel, the place where God confounded the inhabitants of the earth in their impious attempt to build a tower up to heaven. Gen. 11:9, margin; 10:10, margin. The word, being the chosen term of the Holy Spirit to designate "that mighty city" which is so prominently noticed in the book of Revelation, was doubtless selected with especial reference to its signification, and to the circumstances that originated the word. That Babylon does not comprise the whole wicked world, and that it does not consist of some one literal city, but that it is composed of professed worshipers of God, we think can be clearly shown. This is not an abstract question, but is eminently practical, and is intimately connected with our duty toward God.


Rev. 17 represents Babylon by the symbol of a woman seated on a scarlet-colored beast. If, therefore, the woman Babylon represents the whole of this fallen world, the entire empire of the Devil, what does the beast represent upon which the woman is seated? Is it not a fact that the beast represents the fourth empire of our earth in its papal form? And that being the case, is it not a certainty that Babylon does not include the whole wicked world? That the beast and the woman are two distinct symbols, is evident from verse 7.

Page 38
The same chapter represents the unlawful connection of Babylon with the kings of the earth, and that she has made the inhabitants of the earth drunken. She is also represented as that great city that reigneth over the kings of the earth. Babylon is therefore distinct from the kings of the earth, and does not include all the wicked of the earth.

It is also stated that this great harlot sat upon many waters. In the explanation it is stated that these waters are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. , Rev. 17:1, 15. Certainly we should not confound the harlot with the waters or nations upon which she is said to sit. When Babylon is destroyed, being thrown down as a millstone is cast into the mighty deep, and utterly burned with fire, the kings of the earth, the merchants, the sailors, etc. , are still spared, and mourn, and lament over her. It is plain, therefore, that the utter destruction of Babylon is not the destruction of those wicked men who lived in iniquity with her. Hence it follows that Babylon does not comprise the whole wicked world.


As some have strongly advocated the view that Rome is the Babylon of the book of Revelation, we will examine the reasons that are adduced in support of this view. The argument stands thus:-

Page 39
The angel told John that the woman which he had seen was the great city which reigned over the kings of the earth, and that the seven heads of the beast were seven mountains upon which the woman sat. The explanation of "the mystery of the woman" is regarded as decisive testimony that Rome is the Babylon of the book of Revelation. To the foregoing reasons some add the statement that a woman is used in every other instance in the book of Revelation as the symbol of a literal city, and consequently must mean a literal city in this case.

But we are compelled to dissent from this view, for the following reasons:

-The grand principle assumed by the foregoing view is this: The interpretation of a symbol must always be literal, and can never consist in the substitution of one symbol for another; and hence the interpretation of the woman as a city, and of the heads of the beasts as mountains upon which the woman sitteth, must be literal. That there are exceptions to this rule, and that the case in question furnishes a manifest exception, we will now show.

Explanation of Symbols

In Rev. 11:3 the two witnesses are introduced. The next verse is an explanation of what is meant by the two witnesses: "These are the two olive-trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. "

There can be no question that in this case the explanation of the symbol consists in the substitution of other symbols. In other words, the explanation consists in transferring the meaning to other symbols, which are elsewhere clearly explained.

Page 40

Explanation of Seven Headed Beast

That this is the case in Rev. 17, we will now show. The angel introduces his explanation of the heads by saying, "Here is the mind which hath wisdom, " plainly implying that wisdom was needed in order to understand what he was there communicating. With the fact before us, that in Rev. 11 the explanation consists in substituting one symbol for another, and with the caution of the angel, as he gives the explanation in this case, let us consider what he utters:-

" The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. " "The woman which thou sawest in that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. " Verses 9, 18. The wisdom which is needed to rightly comprehend the words of the angel, would doubtless lead us to compare the different instances in which the same facts are referred to in the book of Revelation. If we do this, the following points will appear:-

1. Chap. 13 informs us that one of these seven heads was wounded unto death, and that this deadly wound was healed. Or, as the same fact is stated again, it had a wound by a sword, and did live. It would be utter folly to assert this of a literal mountain. Hence the heads are not mountains of earth.

2. Each of the seven heads is represented in chap. 12 with a crown upon it, even as each of the ten horns is thus represented in chap. 13. Each of the heads must therefore represent a kingdom or government, even as the horns represent governments.

3. It is evident that the seven heads are successive (that is, the beast has but one head at a time), in distinction from the ten horns, which are contemporary. But the seven hills of Rome are not successive; for it cannot be said of them, "Five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. " The beast itself is the eighth, and is of the seven, which proves that the beast is a literal mountain, or that the heads are not.

Page 41
4. The heads of the beast must, according to Dan. 7:6 compared with Dan. 8:22, be explained as kingdoms or governments. Mountains, according to Dan. 2:35, 44 and Jer. 51:25, denote kingdoms. But the version of Prof. Whiting, which is a literal translation of the text, removes all obscurity from Rev. 17:9, 10: "The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth, and they are seven kings. " Thus it will be seen that the angel represents the heads as mountains, and then explains the mountains to be seven successive kings. Thus we see that the angel transferred the meaning from one symbol to another, and then gave the explanation of the second symbol.

Having proved that the mountains are not literal, but symbolic, it follows that the woman who sits upon them cannot represent a literal city; for a literal city cannot sit upon symbolic mountains. Hence it appears that the angel transfers the meaning from one symbol to another, as in verses 9, 10; chap. 11:4. And it is certain that the woman of chap. 12 represents the church, and not a literal city. Therefore it is a mistaken idea that a woman in the book of Revelation, as a symbol, always represents a literal city.

Rome the Seat of the Beast

Another evidence that the city of Rome is not the Babylon of the Apocalypse, is found in the following important fact: Rome was and is "the seat of the beast;" therefore the city of Rome cannot be the woman seated upon the beast; for Rome cannot be both the seat of the beast and the woman that sits on the beast. Lest any should deny that Rome is the seat of the beast, we will prove that point from the New Testament. The seat of the beast is the same that had been the seat of the dragon. Rev. 13:2. This dragon is the power that ruled the world at the time of our Saviour's birth. Rev. 12. Consequently it is imperial Rome. The seat of the imperial power, the throne of the Caesars, was at Rome in Italy. Luke 2:1; Acts 25:10-12, 21; compared with Acts 26:32; 27:1, 24; 28:14-16. The fact being established that Rome is the seat of the beast, it follows that Rome is not the woman Babylon, seated upon the beast.

Babylon Is Not the Literal City of Rome

The fact that Rome is not the Babylon of the Apocalypse may also be demonstrated from Rev. 16. The fifth vial is poured out upon the seat of the beast, which we have shown to be Rome. But the great city, Babylon, does not receive her cup of wrath until the seventh vial is poured out. Verses 10, 11, 17-19. Then Babylon and Rome are not the same. Were Babylon a literal city, but few, at most, of the people of God could be found in it, and but a portion of any class of the wicked; so that almost all of every class of men would in that case be outside of the Babylon of Revelation.

But it is very evident that at the time of the cry, "Come out of her, my people," the people of God, as a body, are in that great city. It is also worthy of notice that if Babylon is a literal city, it must be a place of the greatest commercial importance; for in Rev. 18 it is represented as the great center of commerce, and its destruction causes universal mourning among the merchants and sailors of the world. It is certain that Rome is far from being a commercial city as any one upon the globe; and the destruction of Rome would not in the slightest degree affect commercial business.

"At Rome, " says Gibbon, "commerce was always held in contempt. " Nor could the sailors and ship-masters of the earth lament over her, saying, "What city is like unto this great city!" for either New York or London is equal to a great number of such cities as Rome in commercial importance. And, indeed, there is not a city upon the globe whose destruction would cause all commerce to cease, and all the sailors and merchants of the earth to mourn. These arguments, we think, demonstrate that [the city of] Rome is not the Babylon of the Apocalyse.


Babylon is the name of the symbolic harlot which was seen by John. A woman is the symbol of a church. Rev. 12. A harlot is the symbol of a corrupt church. Eze. 16. It is evident that the woman in Rev. 17 should be interpreted in the same manner as the one in chap. 12. As that symbol undoubtedly represents the true church, though spoken of as a woman and her seed, so the harlot and her daughters are doubtless the entire corrupt church. Rev. 18:5. We understand, therefore, that Babylon is not limited to a single ecclesiastical body, but that its very name renders it necessary that it should be composed of many.

Page 44

If the harlot to whom the kings of the earth have unlawfully united themselves, symbolizes only the church of Rome, it follows that many of the wicked powers of the earth are quite free from this sin. The Greek Church is the established church of Russia and Greece; the Lutheran Church is the established Church of Prussia, Holland, Sweden, Norway, and a part of the smaller German states; England has Episcopacy for her State religion; and other countries have their established religions, and zealously oppose dissenters. Babylon has made all the nations drunk with her wine; it can therefore symbolize nothing less than the universal worldly church.

It will be seen, therefore, that we do not exclusively apply the prophecy respecting Babylon to any one of the corrupt bodies which have existed, or which now exist. In this great city of confusion, we understand that the corrupt Roman and Greek churches occupy a large space, and act an important part. War, oppression, conformity to the world, and the like, identify with sad and faithful accuracy the great body of the Protestant churches as an important constituent part of this great Babylon.

When the papal church possessed the power, it destroyed a vast multitude of the saints of God. Nor has the Protestant Church, since its rise, been free from acts of persecution whenever it has possessed the power to perform them. The Protestants of Geneva, with John Calvin at their head, burned Michael Servetus, a man who had barely escaped the same fate at the hands of the popish inquisition.

They did this for the same reason that the papists do the like; that is, they did it for a difference of opinion, and because they had the power to do it. Witness also the long-continued oppression which the Church of England was able to maintain toward all dissenters. Even the puritan fathers of New England, themselves fugitives from the wicked oppression of the Church of England, could not forbear to hang the Quakers, and to whip and imprison the Baptists. In all these cases the civil arm was under the control of these professed worshipers of Jehovah, and they could not forbear to use it.

The Protestant Church, till within a short time, held many thousand slaves; nor is the fact to be disguised that the professed church was the right arm of the slave power. Nor was slavery abolished by the churches. To the secular power falls the honor of overthrowing this gigantic evil; and the churches have never confessed their great wrong in so long upholding this iniquitous system. This great fact identifies the Protestant Church as a part of Babylon, with absolute certainty. Rev. 18:13.

The celebrated Albert Barnes, whose notes on the New Testament are so widely diffused, uses the following startling language: "There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it. " "The churches are the bulwark of American slavery. "

Christ forbade his people to lay up treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19); but the professed church at the present day, as a body, exhibits greater eagerness in the pursuit of wealth, and in the acquisition of Babylonish treasures (Rev. 18:11-14), than even worldlings themselves. In exposing the corruption of the Babylonish church of his time, Christ warned his own people to beware of the like abominations. "But be not ye called Rabbi, " says Christ; that is, master, or doctor; "for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. " Matt. 23:8.

Page 46
Apparently to imitate the Romish Church, Protestants call their ministers Reverend. This word, which is used only once in the Scriptures, is there applied to God. Ps. 111:9. If it is a sin for the church to call her ministers Rabbi, or master, how much greater sin must it be for her to apply to them the title of Reverend, which belongs to God alone! Not content with this, some of these professed servants of Jesus Christ become Right Reverend, and Very Reverend. And not a few of them become Doctors of Divinity, so great is their proficiency in the doctrines of Christ!

The New Testament speaks in the most decisive manner respecting plainness of dress; but the majority of the professed church at the present time walk in all the fashionable follies of life. They are arrayed in all the gaudy attire of Babylonian merchandise. The merchants of Babylon are the great men of the earth. In the fold of the nominal church is to be found a large portion of the lawyers, doctors, politicians, and great men of the world. To succeed in business, to become honorable in society, or to rise to high offices in the nation, it is important to make a profession of religion, and to have a good and regular standing in the church. This is most abominable in the sight of God; and yet it is very apparent that the church joyfully welcomes such members, because they will make the body more honorable.

It may be said that even corrupt Protestants should not be joined with Romanists, as forming the great city of Babylon; for although Romanists claim infallibility, Protestants never yet have done this. We answer that in this the difference exists only in name.

Page 47
To speak in the language of their several pretensions, Romanists never can err; Protestants never do err. If Romanists claim infallibility in advance for the decrees and ordinances of their church, it is also true that Protestant bodies never afterward acknowledge wherein their churches or their councils have been in error. So that Protestant churches have all the advantage of infallibility, and leave to the Romanists all the odium of claiming it.

Babylon is represented as trafficking in the souls of men. Look at the Church of England. There the vacant parishes are in some cases even set up for sale, and the highest bidder becomes the possessor of its revenue and the pastor of its people! To come nearer home, let us look at the various religious denominations in every place where they have sufficient wealth and strength to become popular. They must erect a splendid house of worship and furnish it in the most expensive style; and the members of the church must dress in all the fashion and pride of life. Then they must have an eloquent man to preach smooth things to fashionable ears. The church which can outdo the others in these particulars will succeed in securing the fashionable sinners of the place as permanent members of the congregation.

The word Babylon. as we have seen, signifies confusion, and comes from Babel, the place where men, in their impious attempt to build a tower that should reach unto heaven, had their language confounded. Gen. 11. The church should be a unit. This was the will of Christ. Witness his intercession with the Father, as recorded in John 17. He prayed that his disciples might be one, as he and his Father are one; for this would cause the world to believe in Christ.

Page 48
Since the great apostasy, the majority of the professed followers have busied themselves in attempting to climb up to heaven some other way. They have been confounded in the attempt, and scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, with creeds as discordant as the languages of those who were dispersed at the ancient tower. The Holy Spirit uses the word Babylon on account of its signification, and it is a most appropriate designation for the great city of confusion to which it is applied.

The church was represented as a chaste virgin, espoused to Christ. 2 Cor. 11:2. She became a harlot by seeking the friendship of the world. James 4:4. It was this unlawful connection with the kings of the earth that constituted her the great harlot of the Apocalypse. Rev. 17. The Jewish Church, represented as espoused to the Lord (Jer. 2; 3; 31:32), became a harlot in the same manner. Eze. 16. Even the term Sodom, which in Rev. 11 is applied to "the great city, " is in Isa. 1 applied to the Jewish Church thus apostatized from God.

The fact that Babylon is distinct from, though unlawfully united with, the kings of the earth, is positive proof that Babylon is not the civil power. The fact that the people of God are in her midst just before her overthrow, proves that she is a professedly religious body. We think it must be apparent, that the Babylon of Rev. 17 symbolizes the professed church unlawfully united to the world.

Table of Contents for "Three Messages of Revelation 14
Index for SDA Pioneer Writings