Is Babylon a Symbol for Rome in the Book of Revelation?
There are those who claim that Babylon is not a symbol of Rome in Revelation, but
this is not true, for it is indeed a symbol of Rome. Because of the movement
of the Babylonian Religion into Rome, individuals recognized it as a second Babylon
for more information look at 666 History Overview.
A number of sources, including several contemporaries of the time, support
this. Augustine of Hippo, in his
City of God,
in several places mentions that Rome is comparable to Babylon. Augustine
makes the comparison from a historical standpoint, given that both cities were
Here, in book 16 of
City of God
is the first such statement:
"In Assyria, therefore, the dominion of the impious city had the pre-eminence. Its head was Babylon, an earth born city, most fitly named, for it means confusion. There Ninus reigned after the death of his father Belus, who first had reigned there sixty-five years. His son Ninus, who, on his father's death, succeeded to the kingdom, reigned fifty-two years, and had been king forty-three years when Abraham was born, which was about the 1200th year before Rome was founded, as it were another Babylon in the west."
In book 18 of
City of God
is another such statement:
"But since Grecian affairs are much better known to us than Assyrian, and those who have diligently investigated the antiquity of the Roman nation's origin have followed the order of time through the Greeks to the Latins, and from them to the Romans, who themselves are Latins, we ought on this account, where it is needful, to mention the Assyrian kings, that it may appear how Babylon, like a first Rome, ran its course along with the city of God, which is a stranger in this world. But the things proper for insertion in this work in comparing the two cities, that is, the earthly and heavenly, ought to be taken mostly from the Greek and Latin kingdoms, where Rome herself is like a second Babylon. "
In book 18 of
City of God,
Chapter 22, is another such statement:
"To be brief, the city of Rome was founded, like another Babylon, and as it were the daughter of the former Babylon, by which God was pleased to conquer the whole world, and subdue it far and wide by bringing it into one fellowship of government and laws."
The Catholic Encyclopedia itself argues that Babylon is Rome. The Catholic
Encyclopedia in the article titled
St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles,
argues that Babylon is Rome. Go to the section about half way down the page
to the section titled: IV. ACTIVITY AND DEATH IN ROME; BURIAL PLACE. Then,
just below that is a group of bulleted paragraphs. Read paragraphs 2, 3,
and you will see that they argue from a historical and biblical perspective that
Babylon is a symbol of Rome.
It is clear that other church fathers considered that Peter's statement referred
to Rome. Consider Jerome, in his
De viris illustribus,
in section 8, Mark, indicates that Peter is speaking of Rome when he mentions
Catholic Historians openly admit that Babylon was a symbol of Rome. Cardinal Gibbons in his book, Faith of our Fathers in the 1917 edition on page 106 says,
"The penetration of the religion of Babylon became so general and well known that Rome was called the New Babylon."
History provides another suggestion that Rome is a symbol for Babylon. In
586 B.C, Babylon destroyed both Jerusalem and the temple. In 70 A.D, the
Romans did exactly the same thing to both Jerusalem and the rebuilt temple.
They were quite thorough too. Jesus in Matthew 24 speaking about the future
of the Jewish Temple; said
"not one stone would be left upon another."
History records that the Roman army burned temple, and the
fire melted the gold in the temple. After the fire was out, the Romans
discovered that the gold had melted and run down between the cracks of the
rocks. Therefore, they pulled up all the stones to get at the gold.
There is an article available at a Baptist Church
website that details some of the history of thought
by many individuals over the last thousand years that Rome is in
fact the woman in Revelation, which the Bible identifies as Babylon,
Rome And the Harlot of Revelation 17.
Go about halfway down the page to begin reading the
It is reasonable to see the word Babylon in the book of Revelation as a code word for Rome. However, in Revelation 17, we are shown the prostitute woman who is said to be Babylon. Now, obviously, a literal woman cannot be a literal city. That is physically impossible. So, what we must conclude is that the woman symbolizes Babylon and Babylon symbolizes the woman. The literal city of Babylon is a model to help us better understand the woman. From the symbolism of the woman and the things she wears, we know that this woman represents a church, which since she is Babylon, which is a symbol of Rome, tells us that this woman represents the Roman Catholic Church.
However, depending on the time period under consideration
for the history of "Babylon", it does not refer exclusively
to the Roman Church, for the woman of Revelation
17, who has the word "Babylon" across
her forehead, also has daughters (Revelation 17:5). These
"daughters" cannot have been "born" and be part of
Babylon right then because that would mean they never were
"born" or separated from the mother church. Historically,
we know that they separated from the church of Rome.
So, when they were "born", they became separate cities
of their own, though neither named nor directly mention
by Revelation 17 (there is a very indirect reference
to them in Revelation 17, but that requires some
explaining not done here on this particular page).
Someday their status will change. Someday those
Protestant Churches will join in the coming Apostasy
and will then become part of Great Babylon of the
Catholic Church is the only large Christian Denomination
today that claims it is the mother church, the
mother of all the Protestant Churches.
Most of the power of Protestant Churches today is in the United States. The
earth beast of Revelation 13 creates the image to the beast and the apostate
Protestant Religions through the US government will accomplish this. Some
have suggested that Babylon is not Rome because the main economic center of the
world today is the USA, and the description of the destruction of Babylon in
Revelation 18 is one of an economic powerhouse.
However, this ignores the obvious evidence that the early Christian Church adopted
many of the practices of the Babylonian religion. The Bible indicates
who Babylon is by the presence of the Babylonian Religion. Most of the
people in the United States do not practice that religion today.
One must consider that the Bible says the woman has daughters, which by history
we know did not really come about until the time of the Protestant Reformation.
This event was centuries after John wrote what God had shown him. Therefore,
the definition has not changed over the millennia as demonstrated by this. Had
this definition changed, then it would seem reasonable that the Bible would not talk
about the woman having daughters.
The argument that Babylon is now the USA ignores the obvious evidence that the
Catholic Church is a major economic force on a worldwide basis. Further, some
object to this because Revelation 18 describes a city with a seaport, which Rome
really is not, though it does have a nearby seaport. However, all of the
objections ignore the clear rule that most things in Revelation are symbolic.
Hence, this seaport idea is likely symbolic of something, as are the ships, trade
referred to, and many other things in that chapter. Even if they are not all
symbolic, there is plenty of evidence that during the time of ancient pagan Rome, to
476 A.D, Rome was the center of commerce of its time. That has changed, but
we need to consider that God was using the cultural symbols of the day to point to
future events. Therefore, we do need to understand the symbols of the time to
understand what these things pointed to in the future. This does not mean the
interpretation takes on the meaning of the time of John only, for that would be
Preterism, which postulates that God fulfilled all the prophecies in the time of
John. There is evidence the book of Revelation is about time until Jesus
comes, not just John's day. The point is that one should not write off Babylon
being Rome because of these objections.
In conclusion, Babylon as a code word for the church
in Rome is reasonable given the historical and
biblical perspective of this.