The Meaning of the City: An Urban Missional Approach to the Use of City Imagery in Revelation

Document Type


Publication Date



Although the subject of Babylon may be approached in distinctive ways (i.e., history, archeology, or eschatology), in the book of Revelation it plays a significant role as it uncovers the climax of human history. Besides all other cities cited in the book of Revelation—such as the seven city churches to which the book is addressed (Rev 1:4; 2; 3)—Babylon and the New Jerusalem have a vital role in the unfolding of humankind’s final destiny. Beasley-Murray says, “Revelation as a whole may be characterized as A Tale of Two Cities with the sub-title, The Harlot and the Bride" (1974:315; emphasis in original). Nevertheless, the main focus of this article goes beyond the possible prophetic interpretations of the term Babylon. Instead this article focuses on the fact that from all the available images that could have been used to expose the control of the evil power, God chose a city. What are the connections between the use of the city as a symbol, and the tension portrayed between the Mother of Harlots (Rev 17:5) and the Bride (Rev 21:2)? What are some of the implications of this relationship and the urban mission of the church? The purpose of this article is, as Redford asserts, “to read Scripture with a missional perspective” (2012:234) by examining the relationship between the use of the city imagery in the book of Revelation and some of its implications to urban missiology. [from Introduction]

Journal Title

Journal of Adventist Mission Studies





First Page


Last Page


First Department

World Mission