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The judgment against Babylon, antichrist, and the false prophet

(Chs. 18-19)

The seer paints in vivid and brilliant colors the picture of the fall of the capital of the godless kingdom, which he calls Babylon. This description is similar to the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah regarding the fall of Chaldean Babylon in 539 B.C. (Isa. ch. 13-14; 21:9; and Jer. ch. 50-51). There is a lot of similarity between the past and future centers of the world's evil. The punishment of the antichrist (the beast) and the false prophet is described in a special manner. As mentioned before, the beast is a specific personality of the last antagonist of God and simultaneously the general personification of any power that is anti-God. The false prophet is the last false prophet (a helper of the antichrist), who is also the personification of any pseudo-religious or corrupt church power.

It is important to understand that in the narrative of the punishment of Babylon, the antichrist, the false prophet (chs. 17-19), and the devil (ch. 20), St. John does not follow a chronological order but rather uses a method of interpretation according to a principle, that we will now explain.

In its aggregate Holy Scripture teaches that the kingdom that is antagonistic to God will end its existence during the Second Coming of Christ, when the antichrist and the false prophet will perish. God's Last Judgment against the world will take place in the order of increasing guilt of the defendants ("The time has come for judgment to begin with the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God?" 1 Peter 4:17; Matt. 25:31-46). At first the faithful will be judged, then the unbelievers and sinners, and then the conscious foes of God, and finally, the main culprits of all the godlessness in the world, the demons and the devil.) In that order, St. John narrates regarding the judgment over God's foes in chapters 17-20. In addition, the description of the judgment of every category of sinner (those fallen away from God, antichrists, false prophets, and finally the devil) is preceded by the Apostle's description of their guilt. Therefore, the impression arises that at first there will come the destruction of Babylon. At some later time there will be the punishment of the antichrist and the false prophet, after which the reign of the saints will come on earth. And only after a very long time the devil will emerge in order to seduce the nations and then will be punished by God. In actuality, however, the discourse in the Apocalypse is describing parallel events. This method of presentation by St. John needs to be taken into account to interpret the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse (see "The insolvency of Chiliasm" in the booklet about the end of the world).

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