Revelation 18:4 MEANING

Revelation 18:4
(4-20) The voice out of heaven warns the faithful to leave her, and describes her fall.

(4) Voice from heaven . . .--Read, Voice out of heaven, saying, Come forth out of her, my people, that ye partake not in her sins, and that of her plagues ye receive not. The voice is not said to be that of another angel. It is not necessary to say whose voice it is; that it is a voice of divine love giving warning is enough. The coming forth is not to be understood of a bodily exodus from Rome. It is rather the warning which is so needful in every corrupt state of society, to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; to practise that separation from the spirit of the world which is essential lest we should be entangled in the meshes of its sinful habits. This duty of separation may sometimes lead to a literal exodus, and even under the pressure of overwhelming necessity to secession from a world-corrupted church; but the jeopardy lies in attachment to the world-spirit (1 John 2:15). The parallel warnings in Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:45, and Zechariah 2:6-7, should be read; but the story of Lot in Sodom best illustrates the spirit of the passage (Genesis 19), for it is participation in sin which is to be primarily guarded against.

Verse 4. - And I heard another voice from heaven, saying. Probably the voice of another angel in succession to the one mentioned in ver. 1. Another angel takes up the theme, because the message is now directly addressed to Christians. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. The angel says, "my people," because he is representing God. These words, resembling Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 52:l; Jeremiah 1:8; and especially Jeremiah 51:6 (cf. also ver. 8), 45, recall also the warning of our Lord in Matthew 24:16 (cf. also Genesis 19:22, "I cannot do anything till thou be come thither"). Since the harlot, who is identical with Babylon, is representative of the faithless part of the Church of God, these words form a direct warning to Christians. The departure which is commanded is not necessarily a literal, visible one; but the command implies a dissociation from, and condemnation of, the works of Babylon. Lot's wife literally departed from Sodom, but was overtaken with punishment, because her heart was not dissevered from the wickedness of the city.

18:1-8 The downfal and destruction of the mystical Babylon are determined in the counsels of God. Another angel comes from heaven. This seems to be Christ himself, coming to destroy his enemies, and to shed abroad the light of his gospel through all nations. The wickedness of this Babylon was very great; she had forsaken the true God, and set up idols, and had drawn all sorts of men into spiritual adultery, and by her wealth and luxury kept them in her interest. The spiritual merchandise, by which multitudes have wickedly lived in wealth, by the sins and follies of mankind, seems principally intended. Fair warning is given to all that expect mercy from God, that they should not only come out of this Babylon, but assist in her destruction. God may have a people even in Babylon. But God's people shall be called out of Babylon, and called effectually, while those that partake with wicked men in their sins, must receive of their plagues.And I heard another voice from heaven,.... Either of another, or of the same angel, or rather of God, or Christ himself, since the persons addressed are called his people:

saying, come out of her, my people; meaning either his elect ones, till now uncalled, being such whom God had chosen for his people, and were so by virtue of the covenant of grace, were given to Christ as his people, and were redeemed by him, though, till this call, in an unconverted state; or else such who had been secretly called by the grace of God, but had not made a public profession of the Gospel, nor bore an open testimony against the Romish idolatry; for as the Lord had a righteous Lot in Sodom, and saints where Satan's seat was, Rome Pagan, so he will have a people in Rome Papal, at the time when its destruction draws near; and these wilt be called out, not only in a spiritual sense, to quit the communion of the church, to forsake its idolatries, and not touch the unclean thing, separate themselves from her, and bear a testimony against her doctrines and worship, but in a literal sense, locally; they shall be bid to come out of her, as Lot was ordered to go out of Sodom before its burning, and the people of the Jews out of Babylon before the taking of it, Jeremiah 50:8 to which reference is here had: and as the Christians were called out of Jerusalem before the destruction of it: this shows the particular knowledge the Lord has of his people, be they where they will, and the gracious care he takes of them, that they perish not with others; and that it is his will they should be a separate people from the rest of the world; and this call of his sufficiently justifies the Protestants in their separation from the church of Rome, and every separation from any apostate church;

that ye be not partakers of her sins: by conniving at them, or committing the same; and all such are partakers of them, and have fellowship with these unfruitful works of darkness, that are in the communion of that church; and those that dwell at Rome are in great danger of being so, and cannot well avoid it: yea, even those that only go to see it, and stay but for a time in it, and that not only through the strength and influence of example, but through the force of power and authority:

and that ye receive not of her plagues; or punishments; the seven last plagues, which belong to her, the vials of which will be poured out upon one or other of the antichristian states, and the fifth particularly will fall upon Rome, the seat of the beast, and is what is here referred to.

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