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Revelation 18:2-3

Context
18:2 He 1  shouted with a powerful voice:

“Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great!

She 2  has become a lair for demons,

a haunt 3  for every unclean spirit,

a haunt for every unclean bird,

a haunt for every unclean and detested beast. 4 

18:3 For all the nations 5  have fallen 6  from

the wine of her immoral passion, 7 

and the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her,

and the merchants of the earth have gotten rich from the power of her sensual behavior.” 8 

1 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style

2 tn Or “It” (the subject is embedded in the verb in Greek; the verb only indicates that it is third person). Since the city has been personified as the great prostitute, the feminine pronoun was used in the translation.

3 tn Here BDAG 1067 s.v. φυλακή 3 states, “a place where guarding is done, prison…Of the nether world or its place of punishment (πνεῦμα 2 and 4c) 1 Pt 3:19 (BReicke, The Disobedient Spirits and Christian Baptism ’46, 116f). It is in a φ. in the latter sense that Satan will be rendered harmless during the millennium Rv 20:7. The fallen city of Babylon becomes a φυλακή haunt for all kinds of unclean spirits and birds 18:2ab.”

4 tc There are several problems in this verse. It seems that according to the ms evidence the first two phrases (i.e., “and a haunt for every unclean spirit, and a haunt for every unclean bird” [καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς πνεύματος ἀκαθάρτου καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς ὀρνέου ἀκαθάρτου, kai fulakh panto" pneumato" akaqartou kai fulakh panto" orneou akaqartou]) are to be regarded as authentic, though there are some ms discrepancies. The similar beginnings (καὶ φυλακὴ παντός) and endings (ἀκαθάρτου) of each phrase would easily account for some mss omitting one or the other phrase. The third phrase (“a haunt for every unclean animal” [καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς θηρίου ἀκαθάρτου, kai fulakh panto" qhriou akaqartou]), however, is more problematic since it is missing in several important mss (א C 051 Ï). The passage as a whole, including the third phrase, seems to be an allusion to Isa 13:21 and 34:11. It seems reasonable, in such a case, to assume that since there is good ms evidence to support the third phrase (A 1611 2329 al), it probably dropped out of certain mss because of its similarity to the two preceding clauses. It is the presence of all three phrases in the original that most likely gave rise to the divergent ms evidence extant today.

5 tn Or “all the Gentiles” (the same Greek word may be translated “Gentiles” or “nations”).

6 tc ‡ Several mss (א A C 1006* 1611 1841 2030 ÏK), including the best witnesses, read “have fallen” (πεπτώκασιν or πέπτωκαν [peptwkasin or peptwkan]). The singular πέπτωκεν (peptwken), which is better grammatically with the neuter plural subject πάντα τὰ ἔθνη (panta ta eqnh, “all the nations”), is read by 1854 2062 pc; 2042 pc read πεπότικεν (pepotiken). A few mss (1006c 2329 pc latt syh) read “have drunk” (πέπωκαν/πεπώκασιν, pepwkan/pepwkasin); the singular πέπωκεν (pepwken) is read by P 051 1 2053* al. The more difficult reading and that which has the best ms support is “have fallen.” That it is not too difficult is evidenced by the fact that the great majority of Byzantine minuscules, which have a tendency to smooth out problems, left it stand as is. Nonetheless, it is somewhat difficult (TCGNT 683 says that this reading is “scarcely suitable in the context”), and for that reason certain mss seem to have changed it to “have drunk” to agree with the idea of “wine” (οἴνου, oinou). One can understand how this could happen: A scribe coming to the text and seeing the term “wine” expects a verb of drinking. When he sees “have fallen” and knows that in Greek the verbs “have fallen” and “have drunk” are spelled similarly, he concludes that there has been a slip of the pen in the ms he is using, which he then seeks to correct back to the “have drunk” reading. This appears to be more reasonable than to conclude that three early uncials (i.e., א A C) as well as a great number of other witnesses all felt the need to change “have drunk” (πέπωκαν) to “have fallen” (πέπτωκαν), even if “fallen” occurs in the immediate context (“fallen, fallen, [ἔπεσεν ἔπεσεν, epesen epesen] Babylon the great” in the preceding verse). The preferred reading, on both external and internal grounds, is “have fallen,” and thus the Seer intends to focus on the effects of wine, namely, a drunken stupor.

7 tn See the notes on the words “passion” in Rev 14:8 and “wrath” in 16:19.

8 tn According to BDAG 949 s.v. στρῆνος and στρηνιάω, these terms can refer either to luxury or sensuality. In the context of Rev 18, however (as L&N 88.254 indicate) the stress is on gratification of the senses by sexual immorality, so that meaning was emphasized in the translation here.



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