Babylon in the New Testament

By George Desnoyers


                  Babylon in the New Testament is Rome and the Roman Empire.  There is no question about it.  Bible scholars are very nearly unanimous in this opinion.  It wouldn't be hard to check it out.

            The usage of Babylon as a figure for Rome also appears in extra-Biblical writings.  "Babylon" as a code word for Rome was initially used when direct negative references to Rome were forbidden and severely punished.

            For those of you who think that the "Babylon" of the New Testament cannot be Rome because it must be a falsely religious entity, did you ever hear of emperor worship?

            If you look closely at the extensive condemnation of Babylon in the Book of Revelation, you will see that primary accusations against Babylon include great cruelty, greed, materialism, and hunger for power.  These are not characteristics of most of the churches accused of being Babylon.

            Even before the founding of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, members of the Millerite movement advised their followers to "come out of Babylon."  By "Babylon" they meant the churches in which people were ridiculed for their Millerite beliefs concerning the imminent second coming of Christ.  In advising people to "come out of Babylon," the Millerites claimed to be echoing the Bible's advice regarding the figurative Babylon given in Revelation 18:4.  So sure of themselves were the Millerites, they actually came to believe their new call for people to leave their churches reflected the original meaning and intent of the words in Revelation 18:4.

            In October 1844 the Millerites were finally and properly judged by events themselves.  Their prediction of the second coming of Christ did not occur!  The movement that condemned so many churches was found to be just a cult of false prophets pointing the finger at others, and calling them "Babylon."  The same kind of thing is happening today.

            Some folk make a connection between the "Babylon" of the New Testament and [the tower of] Babel.  That is rather funny because it is done with only this justification: phonetic similarity.  Is that to become our new standard for making connections during our study of Scripture?