One of the widely misunderstood symbols in the book of Revelation is that of Babylon, portrayed in the book both as the Great City and the Prostitute/Harlot/Whore.1 Many preterist interpreters believe that Babylon represents the pagan Roman empire in the time of John.2 Other preterists teach that the Harlot is old Jerusalem.3 Many futurists believe that Babylon may have derived its imagery from the ancient Roman power but it represents some corrupt future power that will produce the eschatological Antichrist.4 Idealist interpreters of Revelation have a variety of views regarding Babylon, but most tend to view Babylon as representative of a corrupt world system.5 Many historicists, including not only most of the Reformers but also many Adventist scholars and interpreters of Revelation, believe that Babylon represents papal Rome.6 A number of other scholars view Babylon as representing a broader image than merely pagan or papal Rome, encompassing the sweep of human history.7 These diverse views cannot all be correct. The question is what the Bible teaches about Babylon, and particularly what is taught in the book of Revelation. The purpose of this paper is to explore this issue and determine from the text of Revelation what Babylon represents if a consistent and careful interpretation is followed. We begin with an overview of the two sides in the great conflict in Revelation, in which Babylon plays a significant role.



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