Figurative or literal? That is the question when it come to Babylon. This city is the topic of Chapters 17 and 18 in the Book of Revelation. Although some will disagree, I understand this to be the literal city of Babylon. I have a few reasons for this. First, in Revelation, place names are literal unless John explicitly tells us it is a symbol. Second, in the wider context of the Bible, “Babylon the Great” is how king Nebuchadnezzar referred to the literal city. Third, a literal city can also be used in a symbolic way. Just as the literal place of “The Vatican” can be used of religious power, or the city of “New York” can be used as a symbol of economic power so can literal Babylon be used as a symbol of religious (Chapter 17) and economic (Chapter 18) power. So for these reasons alone, and there are some others, I take this chapter and the next one to refer to a revived city of Babylon.
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