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Daniel Akin: Whatever we hate will also reveal what we truly love. The earth dwellers, those who lived for the priorities and values of this world, hated God and loved the prostitute. Consumed by greed and self-interest, their narcissism controlled their desires, their passions, their worldview. Suddenly, all that they have lived for is gone, taken in a moment. It is more than they can bear. Yes, they mourn the death of Babylon, but mostly they sorrow over their own loss. In the end, all of life is about themselves, not others.

James Hamilton: None of these responses have praised God for his justice. None have marveled at God’s power to destroy Babylon. None have expressed repentance. None truly loved Babylon, for none moved to help her. All stood far off, and though they lamented Babylon, they were clearly most concerned about what Babylon’s fall meant for their own self-interest.

Grant Osborne: The three funeral dirges are sung by three groups who profited most greatly from the largesse of Babylon/Rome: the kings who grew rich from her, the merchants who shared her expanding markets, and the shipping people who carried her cargo all over the world. Now they see her destruction and weep at the same time that they “stand far off” so they do not have to participate in her judgment. In other words, those who grew fat on her wealth now desert her in her time of agony. Aune (1998b: 978–79) points to four form-critical elements that the three laments have in common: each “stands far off”; each “weeps and wails”; each begins the lament with “woe, woe”; each exclaims on the suddenness (“in one hour”) of the destruction. These laments are again built on Ezek. 27, the lament over Tyre, the great maritime and commercial giant of Ezekiel’s day. Many of the details come from there, like the three groups of mourners themselves (27:29–36), their fear and sorrow, the list of cargo (Rev. 18:12–13 = Ezek. 27:12–24), and details in the lamentations. While Babylon was the great power during that period and a natural symbol for Roman might and glory, Tyre was the shipping giant and commercial power, thus a natural symbol for that aspect of Rome. The purpose is to show the final end of those who participate in evil, the deep mourning for all that will be lost. Yet in this as well is the terrible hardness that depravity produces. None of these groups mourns their sin, only all the luxurious living they have lost. In other words, they remain self-centered to the bitter end. There is no true sorrow for Babylon, only sorrow for all they have lost.

Charles Swindoll: Not surprisingly, when that great world empire begins to crumble, Babylon’s lovers —those addicted to her power and pleasures —will begin to wail in anguish. The objects of their absolute devotion —the Antichrist and his empire —will be crushed before their eyes. At the same time the objects of their hatred —Jesus Christ and His people —will be poised to take control.


A.  (:9) Bursting of the Prosperity Bubble

  1. Subjects of the Lament

And the kings of the earth,

Robert Mounce: These are not the kings of 17:16 who turn upon Rome to bring her down to destruction, but the governing heads of all nations who have entered into questionable trade with the commercial center of the ancient world. They represent “the bankruptcy of an arrogant existence which believed that it was ‘secure’ because it was living in a perverted political order.”  They have committed adultery (entered into illicit relations; cf. 17:2) with the prostitute and lived voluptuously with her. Now their fortunes have changed, and they weep and wail as the rising smoke announces her destruction by fire. Like the princes of the sea who are “clothed with terror” at the fall of Tyre (Ezek 26:16–18), the world leaders lament the unexpected disaster that falls upon Rome.

  1. Previous Connection to Babylon’s Worldly System

who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her,

  1. Sorrow of the Lament

will weep and lament over her

  1. Severity of the Judgment

when they see the smoke of her burning,

James Hamilton: The kings pleased themselves with Babylon, but when she falls they want no part of her punishment. Notice how their grief does not result from the injustice Babylon did. Their grief does not spring from the lives they ruined in alliance with Babylon. They do not grieve about the way they dishonored God and led others to do the same. They wail for Babylon, but their concern is not for Babylon—notice how they do not seek to help her. Rather, they “stand far off, in fear of her torment” (18:10). They are not about to risk themselves in order to help Babylon. This shows that they do not love Babylon. They love themselves. They are only mourning because Babylon will give them no more sensual and immoral favors.

J. Hampton Keathley, III: The point is, when they see the object of their trust and the source of their happiness go up in smoke, they come unglued.

B.  (:10) Emotional Response

  1. Paralyzed by Fear

standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying,

Buist Fanning: Their vantage point, however, is not close at hand as though hoping to help her in distress; they are “standing far away” (v. 10a; also vv. 15, 17b) due to their fear of what she is suffering (cf. “torment” in v. 7) and their awareness of their own complicity in her evils. Nevertheless, they cry out, addressing Babylon directly with their repeated laments over her condition and their dismay that such a great power could suffer destruction so quickly (v. 10b–c). They are dismayed that her judgment came “in one hour.”

John MacArthur: This fearful scene supports the idea that Babylon is an actual city, not a symbol for the entire world system. Obviously, the entire world is not destroyed at this point, since those watching Babylon burn are safe for the moment. Babylon’s destruction is, however, a precursor to the doom that will soon fall on the entire world.

  1. Proclamation of Woe

Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city!

G.K. Beale: Calling her great and strong reveals further the idolatrous nature of Babylon, since these are words appropriately applied only to God, especially in describing His judgment of Babylon (18:8) and her allies (6:17; 16:14; 19:17).

  1. Permanent Devastation in One Hour of Judgment

For in one hour your judgment has come.


A.  (:11) Bursting of the Prosperity Bubble

  1. Subjects of the Lament

And the merchants of the earth

  1. Sorrow of the Lament

weep and mourn over her,

John MacArthur: They weep and mourn, not out of some emotional sympathy for the decimated city, but because with its collapse they have been stripped of the key source of their financial resources. The merchants lament because their materialistic passions can no longer be fulfilled. The weeping that begins then will last for eternity in hell (Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). These greedy merchants are the classic illustration of all those in all times who gain the whole world, but forfeit their souls (Mark 8:36).

  1. Sense of Loss

because no one buys their cargoes any more;

Tony Garland: Not only was Babylon a great consumer of luxury goods, she also served as a center of trade. Commercialism is a key contributor to the materialism and godlessness which characterize the city at the end. Although material goods are not inherently evil, an abundance of material wealth often contributes to covetousness and idolatry. As people turn their attention increasingly towards making money and obtaining goods, they neglect the more important things of God. In her destruction, God will destroy the idols of commercialism and materialism. Tyre had suffered a similar judgment (Eze. 27:27).The merchants are like the church at Laodicea, whom the Lord threatened to vomit out of His mouth “because you say, ‘I am rich and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17+).

B.  (:12-13) Seven Categories of Merchandise in the Commercial System of Babylon

Robert Mounce: Fifteen of the twenty-nine commodities listed in Rev. 18:12-13 are also found in Ezek. 27:12-22. The same three groups of mourners are all referred to in the Ezekiel passage, although their reactions to the fall of the cities differ somewhat—the mariners cry bitterly (vv. 29-30), the kings shudder with horror (v. 35), and the merchants hiss (v. 36).

Buist Fanning: The list of specific cargoes, reflecting in many ways the recitation of Tyre’s multifaceted commerce in Ezekiel 27:12–25, covers a remarkable array of fine goods as well as basic trade commodities. Beginning with precious metals and stones (gold, silver, gems, pearls; v. 12a), the list moves to luxury fabrics (linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet; v. 12b) and then to articles of various kinds made of precious materials (fragrant wood, ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron, marble; v. 12c–d). Various expensive aromatic goods are included (cinnamon, spice, incense, perfumed ointment, frankincense; v. 13a) as well as a full array of basic commodities and livestock (wine, oil, fine flour, grain, cattle, sheep, horses, and carriages [as closely related to horses]; v. 13b–c). Finally, at the end of this list of objects and animals, the term “bodies” (σωμάτων) appears, referring to slaves (v. 13c). This word was common enough as a reference to enslaved people, but it is a dehumanizing term (the value of these humans was only as a physical instrument for labor or service on behalf of the owner). The added description, “that is, the souls of people” (καὶ ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων), is intended to set the record straight: such mere “bodies” are actually human beings created by God as living souls (Gen 1:26–27; cf. 2:7 [“man became a living soul”]; Ezek 27:13]).

James Hamilton: These merchants supply everything that people sell their souls to buy. These merchants provide the things that people choose to live for instead of living for God. . .  This list is a summary of the adornments, luxuries, and conveniences that comprise a life of worldliness. These items are all about having your best life now. The merchants used these items to provoke people to selfish indulgence. These items were not used to glorify God, and the people buying what these merchants were selling were not using these things to benefit others. Living for Babylon is all about living for yourself.

  1. (:12a)  Precious Metals and Stones

cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls

Grant Osborne: “Gold” was the most important of the precious metals, imported primarily from Spain and then the Balkans in the second century A.D. In the first half of the first century, it was so prevalent as a sign of wealth (gold ceilings, shoe buckles, and jewelry) that wealthy Romans began to turn to silver. Possible sources of gold often determined nations that Rome would conquer, so voracious was their appetite. “Silver,” also from Spain, became the rage in the second half of the century, and couches and baths as well as serving plates were made of silver. It became a status symbol.  “Precious stones” would include most in the lists of the book (4:3; 21:19–20) and came mostly from India. From the time of Pompey, who introduced them from his eastern conquests, they were used not only in women’s jewelry but also in drinking goblets and men’s rings. “Pearls” were considered the most luxurious of all jewels (along with diamonds) and came from the Red Sea (common pearls), the Persian Gulf (the most expensive), and India. Julius Caesar gave Servilia one worth $18,000 in equivalent terms, and women began wearing them in such large quantities that they became a symbol of Roman decadence.

  1. (:12b)  Luxury Fabrics for Expensive Clothing

and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet,

William Barclay: Fine linen came mainly from Egypt. It was the clothing of priests and kings and was very expensive.

Purple came mainly from Phoenicia. The word Phoenicia is probably derived from phoinos, which means blood-red; and the Phoenicians may have been known as ‘the purple men’, because they dealt in purple. Ancient purple was much redder than modern purple. It was the royal colour and the garment of wealth. The purple dye came from a shellfish called murex. Only one drop came from each animal; and the shell had to be opened as soon as the shellfish died, for the purple came from a little vein which dried up almost immediately after death. As a result, purple was a very expensive dye. Pliny tells us that at this time there was in Rome ‘a frantic passion for purple’.

Silk may now be commonplace; but in the Rome of Revelation it was almost beyond price, for it had to be imported from far-off China. So costly was it that a pound of silk was sold for a pound weight of gold. Under Tiberius, a law was passed against the use of solid gold vessels for the serving of meals and ‘against men disgracing themselves with silken garments’ (Tacitus, Annals, 2:23).

  1. (:12c)  Costly Building Materials

and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory

and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble,

William Barclay: The most interesting of the woods mentioned in this passage is thyine. In Latin, it was called citrus wood; its botanical name is thuia articulata. Coming from North Africa, from the Atlas region, it was sweet-smelling and beautifully grained. It was used especially for table tops. But, since the citrus tree is seldom very large, trees large enough to provide table tops were very scarce. Seneca, Nero’s prime minister, was said to have 300 thyine tables with marble legs.

Ivory was much used for decorative purposes, especially by those who wanted to make an ostentatious display. It was used in sculpture, for statues, for sword hilts, for inlaying furniture, for ceremonial chairs, for doors, and even for household furniture.

Grant Osborne: “Ivory” was so popular that the Syrian elephant was driven almost to extinction. It was used for sculptures (and idols), plates, chariots, and pieces of furniture. “Wood” would refer to other expensive woods used for furniture, paneling, or sculpture, like maple, cyprus, or cedar. “Brass” or “bronze” was used for shields or furniture but especially for statues. Corinthian bronze was regarded as the best, and statues made of this were inordinately expensive. “Iron” from Greece and Spain was of course used for knives and swords but also for statues and ornaments. “Marble” came from Africa, Egypt, and Greece and was used not only for buildings and statues but also for plates, jars, and baths. It too was terribly expensive and came under imperial ownership to restrict it for Roman use.

      1. (:13a)  Spices and Fragrances

and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense

William Barclay: Cinnamon was a luxury article coming from India and from near Zanzibar. Spice is misleading here. The Greek is amōmon; in the fourteenth century, John Wyclif translated it simply as amome. Amōmon was a sweet-smelling balsam, particularly used as a preparation for the hair and as an oil for funeral rites. . .

Frankincense was a gum resin produced by a tree of the genus Boswellia. An incision was made in the tree and a strip of bark removed from below it. The resin then seeped out from the tree like milk. In about ten or twelve weeks, it coagulated into lumps which were then sold. It was used for perfume for the body, for the sweetening and flavouring of wine, for oil for lamps and for sacrificial incense.

Grant Osborne: “Cinnamon” came either from eastern Africa or the Orient and was also quite expensive, used for perfume, incense, medicine, and a flavoring for wine. “Amomum,” or “spice,” was a fragrant spice shipped in from India, often used to make hair fragrant. “Incense” was made from several ingredients and used both in religious rites (see 5:8; 8:3–4) and for adding a sweet smell to rooms. “Myrrh” was imported from Somalia and was one of the most expensive and desired of the perfumes, also used as a medicine or a spice. It was used to anoint Jesus (Luke 7:37–38; Mark 14:3–5 par.) and was taken to anoint his corpse (Luke 23:56–24:1). “Frankincense” also came from Somalia. It was half the price of myrrh (six denarii per Roman pound versus twelve) and was often used with myrrh at funerals to disguise the smell of the decaying body. Gold and frankincense and myrrh were given to the baby Jesus by the magi (Matt. 2:11), showing that they regarded him as a king worthy of such expensive gifts.

  1. (:13b)  Essential Food Commodities

and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat

Grant Osborne: For the most part, these were staples and not especially extravagant items. However, Rome was notorious for its extravagant banquets.

  1. (:13c)  Livestock

and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots

Grant Osborne: The cattle were used for work and for milk, the “sheep” to some extent for meat but more for wool. Thus, these animals were imported to improve the breeding stock of the wealthy estates.

William Barclay: The chariots mentioned here – the word is redē – were not racing or military chariots. They were four-wheeled private chariots, and the aristocrats of Roman wealth often had them silver-plated.

  1. (:13d)  Humans

and slaves and human lives.

Grant Osborne: The “bodies and human souls” (epexegetical καί, kai, that is, souls) certainly refers to slaves. The addition of “human souls” could be positive, emphasizing that they were not mere cattle but human beings (Bauckham 1993b: 370), or it could be negative, stressing that they were mere “human live stock” (Swete 1911: 235). On the basis of its place in the list (after cattle and sheep), the phrase more likely carries the negative connotation, for the Romans imported incredible numbers of slaves (estimated at 10 million, or close to 20 percent of the population of the Roman Empire), and the rich based their status somewhat on how many slaves they owned. Slaves were obtained through war, debt, parents selling their children for money, kidnapping, as punishment for criminals, or unwanted children exposed to the elements and left to die (common in the ancient world). While in the first century B.C., war produced the greatest number of slaves, during the Pax Romana, the others were the primary sources. Asia Minor was a primary source of wheat and slaves for Rome, heightening the sense that the list emphasized items that reflected not only the Romans’ lust for consumer goods but also their consequent exploitation and plundering of the other nations in the empire.

David Guzik: They sold the bodies and souls of men. This idea has many applications, none less so than today’s widespread human trafficking, prostitution, and pornography.

C.  (:14) Despair and Sense of Loss

  1. Bankruptcy

And the fruit you long for has gone from you,

J. Hampton Keathley, III: Verse 14 gives us a striking spiritual description of these details of life: they are described as “the fruit of the desires or lusts of the soul.” The soul here may well refer to the sinful nature within the soul which always seeks to dominate the life. In other words, this heaping up of the details of life is from the sin nature which seeks its happiness apart from God.

  1. Barrenness

and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you

Grant Osborne: The first noun stresses the cost of the extravagant luxuries, the second the “bright, glittering” appeal of them to the senses. The result is that these luxuries “will no longer be found,” combining the emphatic future negative οὐ μὴ (ou mē, never) with the negative particle οὐκέτι (ouketi, no longer) to mean “will never be found any longer.” They are gone forever, a warning to those in our society who have given themselves over to the folly of conspicuous consumption (which describes most of us). As Jesus said in Matt. 6:19–20, seek “treasures in heaven” rather than “treasures on earth.”

  1. Futility

and men will no longer find them.

Daniel Akin: The fruit they longed and lived for, the return on their investment, is all gone! “All your splendid and glamorous things are gone.” Indeed, all they have lived for is gone and lost; “they will never find them again” (18:14). This is the first of seven double negatives in the remainder of this chapter. This one is actually a triple negative. It literally says, “No more, not, they will not be found.”

D.  (:15-17) Emotional Response

  1. (:15)  Paralyzed by Fear

The merchants of these things, who became rich from her,

will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment,

weeping and mourning,

  1. (:16)  Proclamation of Woe

saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls;’

Buist Fanning: The problem specified in this verse is the tendency to regard material goods, especially luxury goods, as the goal and focus of life. Human existence does not consist of the material things people possess, even when they have the most or the best on offer (Luke 12:15–21). To make them the “soul’s desire,” as Babylon did, tragically misconceives what is most central in human identity and prosperity. It worships and draws meaning from a false god instead of the true One.

  1. (:17)  Permanent Devastation in One Hour of Judgment

for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!


Grant Osborne: Nearly all the trade came to Rome via the sea. These merchants did not have high social status (the nobility did not sell but instead controlled the profits) but became quite wealthy. The amount of trade involved would be staggering, even by today’s standards. Rome was the first nation to develop a truly international market, with enormous profits coming from Africa, India, Arabia, and China in addition to the Roman world (see Beasley-Murray 1978: 267).

A.  (:17b-18) Bursting of the Prosperity Bubble

  1. (:17b)  Subjects of the Lament

And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor,

and as many as make their living by the sea,

Buist Fanning: The third group witnessing Babylon’s demise and mourning over it is those who travel and work on the sea (vv. 17b–19). Like the earth’s rulers and merchants, they have a vested interest in her prosperity because her political and economic power was expanded through extensive contact and travel connections carried on mainly by sea in the ancient Mediterranean world (cf. Ezek 27:3, 33). This pattern of empire was reflected in God’s denunciation of Tyre’s evil in Ezekiel 26–27, and it is replicated in John’s day in the power of “Babylon” (Rome). The collapse of the central power would lead to worldwide disruption for seafaring interests, and here they lament her fall and their loss (e.g., v. 19). These seafaring interests are described in five overlapping phrases, and the first four are in v. 17b. “Every ship’s captain” and “everyone who travels by boat” cover the full range of involvement from most central to most casual: the “ship’s captain” (κυβερνήτης) would be the commander or pilot, while the one “who travels by boat” (ὁ ἐπὶ τόπον πλέων) would be an occasional traveler or even a tourist. The other two refer to seafaring occupations: “sailors” (a ship’s crew) and “all who work on the sea” (perhaps fishermen). All of these are portrayed as standing “far away” (v. 17c) in their mourning, like the rulers and merchants. In the narration of this scene their “crying out” is presented more vividly (imperfect verb here and in v. 19) to emphasize their dismay. As they witness the effects of her destruction (“the smoke of her burning”; cf. vv. 8,  9; 17:16), they are struck by the incongruity of such a reversal: “Who was like the great city?” (v. 18c; cf. 13:4).  This exclamation is drawn from Ezekiel 27 (specifically v. 32), which influences several expressions in the next verse also.

2.  (:17c-18a)  Sorrow of the Lament

stood at a distance, and were crying out”

3.  (:18b)  Severity of the Judgment

as they saw the smoke of her burning,

4.  (:18c)  Surprise over Babylon’s Tragic Fall

saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’

Daniel Akin: Who could have imagined this? She was glorious but now she is gone. She was rich but now she lies in ruins. She was everything but now she is nothing. Wealth is great while it lasts, but therein lies the problem: it does not last.

B.  (:19) Emotional Response

  1. Mourning

a.  Physical Sign of Mourning

And they threw dust on their heads

b.  Verbal Outcry

and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying,

  1. Misery

a.  Proclamation of Woe

Woe, woe, the great city,

Grant Osborne: All the glory, the magnificence, and the extravagance are gone forever, and the seamen realize their future has gone with it. As Michaels (1997: 207) says, “They do not know it yet, but before long the sea itself will be gone” (cf. 21:1).

b.  Previous Connection to Babylon’s Worldly System

in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth,

c.  Permanent Devastation in One Hour of Judgment

for in one hour she has been laid waste!

G.K. Beale: If the merchants have nothing to trade and sell because of Babylon’s fall, then all maritime commerce will cease, and the need to carry goods by water will cease. All who make money from such sea commerce will be out of a job and face economic collapse.


Grant Osborne: first glance, this verse seems out of place in a section focusing on the effects of the destruction of Babylon on her followers, but the jarring effect is intended. While those who participated in the sins of Babylon mourn her passing, those who were faithful to God rejoice that the name of God has triumphed and his people have been vindicated. Thus, both heaven and the believers are enjoined to Εὐϕραίνου (Euphrainou, Rejoice), a strong verb used three times in the book (11:10; 12:12; 18:20), with a deliberate contrast between 11:10 (the joy of the earth-dwellers over the death of the two witnesses) and 12:12 and 18:20 (the joy of the saints over the defeat of the dragon [12:12] and his followers [18:20]).

 A.  Exhortation to Rejoice over Fallen Babylon

Rejoice over her,

Buist Fanning: A similar call for heaven to “rejoice” is found in 12:12, spoken by a “voice from heaven” as here (v. 4), so it is better to understand v. 20 as a final interjection by the heavenly voice that provided the account of Babylon’s judgment from vv. 4–20.  Invoking joy in heaven (εὐφραίνω) is found in Old Testament contexts celebrating God’s rule and redemption (Ps 96:10–11; Isa 44:23; 49:13), but here it is also an invitation to rejoice concerning his vindication against a persecutor (cf. Jer 51:48, rejoicing over Babylon’s demise), and it addresses not heaven alone but God’s servants who have suffered at her hand. The vocative in v. 20a, “heaven” (οὐρανέ), is followed by three nominatives used as vocatives: “the saints” (i.e., God’s people, set apart for him; cf. 5:8), “the apostles” (meaning the Twelve; cf. 21:14), and “the prophets” (including NT era prophets like the two in 11:10, but also probably OT prophets who in various ways foretold these days of fulfillment; cf. 10:7; 22:6, 9). In fact, in view of the reference in v. 24 to Babylon’s killing of “saints and prophets” (also 16:6; cf. 11:18), it is likely that in typological terms both “saints and prophets” should be understood to include God’s people and his spokespersons from all the ages of salvation history.

John MacArthur: Heaven will have quite a different perspective on Babylon’s judgment than that of Antichrist’s earthly followers. The angel who began speaking in verse 4 then addressed the redeemed in heaven: the saints (a general term for all believers) and apostles and prophets (the special class of saints given to the church, as indicated in Eph. 2:20; 4:11). He calls on them to rejoice over Babylon’s fall, because God has pronounced judgment for them against her. The long-awaited moment of vindication, retribution, and vengeance, for which the martyred Tribulation believers prayed (6:9–10) and for which all the redeemed hoped, will have arrived. Heaven rejoices, not over the damnation of sinners, but because of the triumph of righteousness, the exaltation of Jesus Christ, the elimination of His enemies, and the arrival of His kingdom on the earth.

B.  Exhortation Directed to the Godly

O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets,

C.  Reason for the Rejoicing

because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.

James Hamilton: In the end God will vindicate his name and his people by judging Babylon. God’s people will rejoice in God. They will celebrate his justice. They will extol his mighty power. They will praise him for his mercy and forgiveness. They will exult in him because he has vindicated them.

G.K. Beale: The reason for rejoicing is that God has given judgment against Babylon (v. 20b). It is best to see the suffering saints who cried for vengeance in 6:9-11 at the center of the heavenly throng who are exhorted to rejoice in 18:20. This is confirmed by the continuation of the ch. 18 narrative in 19:1-2, where the basis for the “Hallelujah” (“because His judgments are true and righteous; for … He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her”) is formulated in explicit allusion to 6:10 (“How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”). Together with 19:5, 18:20 is the climax of the saints’ cry for vindication from 6:10, though anticipated in various ways also in 11:18; 14:18; 15:4; and 16:5-6. The focus is not on delight in Babylon’s suffering but on the successful outcome of God’s execution of justice, which demonstrates the integrity of Christians’ faith and God’s just character (see further on 6:10). God will judge Babylon just as severely as she persecuted others in order to make the punishment fit her crime. The presence of this “eye for eye” judgment is apparent from noticing that those commanded to rejoice over her judgment are the very same people who suffered from her persecution.