"The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

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Bobcat
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"The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#1 Post by Bobcat » 3 years ago

1. Introduction


A recent discussion on another thread reminded me that I had amassed a good bit of research on this topic during the past 12-15 years. So I thought I would post some of that research and reasoning in a series of posts that develop the topic.

To some extent the material is/was in the form of a letter written to the WT. But somewhere along the way I concluded the effort (to convince the WT) was futile. On the other hand, I find correctly identifying "the great city" of Revelation 16:19 to be key to understanding how events of the coming "great earthquake" will play out. (Rev 16:18)

My first step was to upload the topic to the cloud so that I could edit it from several devices for posting here. The material includes numerous references to WT publications. These were for the purpose of convincing the Society with their own words. I find it interesting how the Society will use sound logic in one topic, but abandon that same logic whenever their whims see fit to do so on another topic. I will leave those references in the material in case anyone is ambitious and curious enough to see what they say.

A couple of observations: You might notice how the Society depends on assertions to reach some of their conclusions. You might also notice that I hold the saying, "Context is king," in high regard.

With that, the next post will have the first section.


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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#2 Post by Bobcat » 3 years ago

2. Reasoning on the Wording of Revelation 16:19


As Bible students, we know from experience that to properly understand any particular verse we may very well need to cross reference it with other similar verses or phrases or subjects in the Bible. (Compare Rom 13:9, 10) In some cases, increased understanding comes from observing the things created. (Compare e.g. Rom 1:20 and 1Co 11:7, 14) In all cases, though, to understand the meaning of any particular verse, we must start with the verse itself: How does the verse itself read? Afterwards we would work outwards. So first, what is the verse itself saying? After that, what is the surrounding context saying? How does this relate to the subject of the chapter? Related chapters? And so on, outwards. (Luke 10:26) Examining the phrasing of the verse first is especially appropriate with the Bible, since its wording is “refined.” (Ps 12:6; Mt 5:18) Such a method becomes all the more effective when one has available a good literal translation. (w06 2/15 p.29 par.16)

Having that in mind, try to put yourself in the place of a man who has no previous knowledge of the Bible, and thus, no preconceived ideas about its meaning. He opens the Bible to Revelation chapter 16. After reading of “a great earthquake” in verse 18, he reads of the results in verse 19: “And the great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and Babylon the Great was remembered in the sight of God to give her the cup of the wine of the anger of his wrath.” (Rev 16:18, 19 NWT)

Now, this man does not know which “great city” is being referred to. The next phrase, “and the cities of the nations fell,” appears to be pretty straight forward in meaning. As for the third item, “Babylon the Great,” he might remember reading about the ancient city of Babylon, but what this “Babylon the Great” is, he does not know. One thing, though, would be fairly self evident. What is that? This: On this initial examination of the verse, the first item, “the great city,” and the third item, “Babylon the Great,” would certainly appear to be two different things. Why? Because, that is the normal way to understand the phrasing of that verse. “The great city” and “Babylon the Great” are being referred to in series, that is, one after the other, as separate items in the same list, with each item connected by the conjunction “and.” (“And” normally indicates “an additional thing, situation or fact.”) This point can be illustrated by several similarly phrased verses.

For example, compare Acts 15:2, “the apostles and older men.” “The apostles” were “older men.” (Compare 1Pe 5:1) But the phrase, “and older men,” listed in series with, or in the same context as, “the apostles,” clearly indicates that the “older men,” in this verse, are different from, or ‘in addition to,’ “the apostles.” In a similar vein, Jehovah is himself a king. (Ps 24:8–10) But when Proverbs 24:21 says, “fear Jehovah and the king,” that phrasing clearly indicates that “the king” is someone other than, or in addition to, “Jehovah.” The footnote to Proverbs 24:21 in the New World Translation acknowledges that very point. (Note that Revelation 16:19 is John’s rendition of what he “saw,” not parallel poetry. Compare Rev 15:1, 2, 5. For parallel poetry, compare w80 2/15 p.25 par.4 and Pr 18:15. Even in parallel poetry, the “and” connecting two parallel phrases often indicates some shade of difference between the phrases. Compare Ps 119:105 and w07 5/1 p.14 pars.4, 5, 16)

The very same logic behind this manner of differentiating things is relied on in the Reasoning book to prove that “the Word” is not “[the] God” in John 1:1, 2. Although the Word is “a god,” or even “God” (KJV; Compare Isa 9:6), common sense or logic dictate that “the Word” cannot be the same “God” that he “was with.” (rs p.426 par.3; If “the Word” were part of a triune godhead, then, “the Word” should be “with the Father,” not “with [the] God.”)

As a fourth example, consider “our Lord” in Revelation 11:15. Jesus is referred to as “our Lord” about 70 times throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures; far more than anyone else. Yet, he cannot be “our Lord” in Revelation 11:15. Why not? Because the next phrase says, “and of his Christ.” So, whoever “our Lord” is in that verse, the phrasing makes one thing certain, it cannot be “his Christ.” Listing persons or things in series with, or in the same context with, other persons or things, clearly separates or distinguishes them from each other. (Compare w02 7/15 p.18 par.19; w83 12/1 pp.16–18 pars.9, 11, 15) Notice, also, that this is the case even when, in other contexts, those same words might be used synonymously of each other. (Compare be p.232 par.1)

An unbiased reading of Revelation 16:19, by itself, shows it to be a list of three events, or items, with each one connected to the previous one by the conjunction “and.” (Gk καί) This is not at all different from a shopping list your wife might give you: “Would you go to the store please, and pick up item ‘A,’ and pick up item ‘B’; and remember to pick up item ‘C.’ ” So now, how many different items did your wife just ask you to get, two or three? Obviously, to any sane mind, the answer is three. But what if she said, matter-of-factly, “No, just two things!”? Or what if she now told you that item “A” and item “C” were, in fact, referring to the same thing? Likely, you would want an explanation for this apparent violation of common sense or logic. (Compare w00 12/1 p.29 pars.1–7) As you will see, it is this same lack of logic that the WT uses to identify the "great city" of Rev 16:19. And to add to the insanity, the WT is noted for expecting its readers to accept their curious 'logic' without question.

Someone might now show our imaginary man paragraph 38 on page 234 of the Revelation Climax book. Concerning Revelation 16:18 and 19, it says, in part: “This blockbuster shaking will shatter ‘the great city,’ Babylon the Great, so that it splits into ‘three parts’—symbolic of its collapse into unredeemable ruin.” As a second reference, he might also be shown page 670 of Volume I of Insight on the Scriptures. There it says, in part: “A great earthquake occurred such as had not occurred since men came to be on the earth, so extensive an earthquake, so great; And the great city [Babylon the Great] split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell.”

Can you see the problem with these explanations? Both of these publications matter-of-factly identify “the great city,” the first item in Revelation 16:19, to be the same as “Babylon the Great,” the third item in that verse. (See also w67 p.59 par.2; bf p.572 par.2 which also employ these same assertions.) In other words, this man is being told that item “A” and item “C” are indeed the same thing. He is being told that, “Babylon the Great,” although referred to separately in the same context with “the great city,” somehow is that same “great city.” The very thing that was impossible in the example verses above is asserted without explanation in this verse!

In spite of this “strange conclusion,” our imaginary man is trying to be open-minded. So his main question now becomes: 'What strong evidence requires us to understand it this way, contrary to the way the verse is phrased?’ Perhaps there is some other factor involved that makes this the correct meaning. If so, he is willing to hear it. (Compare w00 12/1 p.29 pars.6, 8) But, if this is the case, it does mean that we are going against the way the phrasing of the verse would normally be understood. If we are going to do that, then, rightly, there has to be a good reason. Just saying that it is so is not enough. It must also make sense to a rational person’s “power of reason.” (Pr 14:15; Lu 1:30–1, 34; Acts 17:11; Rom 12:1; 1Co 12:15, 16; For Romans 12:1, compare w00 12/1 p.31 pars.1–3; Bauer’s 3rd Edition Greek–English Lexicon gives “open-minded” as an alternate rendering for “noble-minded” at Acts 17:11, where the Beroeans ‘carefully examined the Scriptures’ to see if “these things,” that Paul was saying, ‘were so.’)


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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#3 Post by Bobcat » 3 years ago

Footnotes to Part 2:


● Fifty five verses referring to Jehovah as a king: Ex 15:18; Num 23:21; Deut 33:5; 1Sa 8:7; 12:12; Ps 5:2; 10:16; 24:7–10; 29:10; 44:4; 47:2, 6–8; 48:2; 68:24; 74:12; 84:3; 93:1; 95:3; 96:10; 97:1; 98:6; 99:1; 145:1, 11–13; 146:10; 149:2; Isa 6:5; 33:22; 41:21; 44:6; 52:7; Jer 8:19; 10:7, 10; 46:18; 48:15; 51:57; Ezek 20:33; Dan 4:37; Mic 4:7; Zeph 3:15; Zech 14:9, 16, 17; Mal 1:4; Mt 5:35; Rev 11:15; 19:6


● As far back as the Babylon the Great Has Fallen book (c.1955) the "great city" of Revelation 16:19 was identified by the WT as "Babylon the Great." Prior to that, in the book Light (Book Two), pages 62 and 63, “the great city” of Revelation 16:19 is identified as “Babylon.” But Babylon is identified as “Satan’s organization.” And the “three parts” that the great city is split into are, (1) “the ecclesiastical division,” (2) “the commercial,” and (3) the “political part thereof” which “the Lord by his ‘measuring line’, has disclosed to his people.” (“The Devil’s organization [typified by Babylon] and all her subsidiary organizations called ‘cities.’ ”; The “great whore” of 17:1 is identified with “organized Christianity,” but linked with all “Devil religion” which sprang from Babylon.)

Note the reasoning that the publication, Light (Book Two), uses to convince its readers that the identification of "the great city" of Rev 16:19 is correct: “The Lord by his ‘measuring line’, has disclosed [this] to his people.”

And yet, despite "the Lord" having supposedly "disclosed" this piece of information "to his people," the WT had the audacity to change their understanding starting with the Babylon the Great Has Fallen book in 1955. This is "the faithful and discreet slave" that the WT assures its readers is trusted by God. (Mt 24:45)


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Jerome
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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#4 Post by Jerome » 3 years ago

Bobcat,
Very interesting subject. I look forward to further postings.
However, as an initial observation, the NET Bible leaves kai untranslated in the two verses.
Here is their explanation:
tn 19 Here kai has been translated as "then" to indicate the implied sequence of events within the vision.
tn 22 Here kai has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
tn 25 Here kai has been translated as "so" to indicate the implied result of Babylon's misdeeds (see Rev. 14:8)
The cross reference to Revelation 14:8 caught my attention, since there Babylon the Great is described as the great city.

Jerome

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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#5 Post by Bobcat » 3 years ago

Footnotes to Part 2 (Continued):


Thanks Jerome for bringing this up. I had another extended footnote on the topic of the Greek conjunction kai and Rev 16:19-21. The occurrence of "city" (Greek πόλις) at Rev 14:8 is lacking in textual support. You can see the various Greek readings on this page. Only the Textus Receptus has it. It is interesting that the NET includes it. It may have done so for stylistic reasons. (Various renderings here.)

At any rate, here is the footnote I had on the subject of "And" (The old NWT was useful in this because of its staunch literalness):

● After referring to the “great earthquake” in Revelation 16:18, verses 19–21 list five things as happening: 1) The splitting of the great city; 2) The falling of the cities of the nations; 3) Babylon being remembered and given a cup of wrath; 4) The departure of the islands and mountains [Six, if you count these as two, but their order is reversed at Revelation 6:14, indicating that they are dealt with by the same event.]; and 5) The plague of hail. (For some research on this plague of hail and the WT's supposed 'hard hitting message' idea, see posts # 4-7 here.)

It is evident from the preceding context that these events, in Rev 16:19–21, all take place during, or as a result of, the great earthquake of Rev 16:18. Thus, the events of verses 19–21 all have that relationship in common. They also have another thing in common: In the original language, each phrase is introduced with the Greek conjunction καί, which corresponds with “and” or “also” in verses 19–21.

According to Greek scholar W. E. Vine, καί is “chiefly used for connecting words, clauses and sentences (the copulative or connective use).” Similarly, another Greek dictionary says: “Hence καί is mostly a simple continuative, marking the progress of a continued discourse.” It also says that in certain cases it is “a continuative in respect to time, i.e., connecting clauses and sentences in the order of time … equivalent to the more usual τότε.” (For τότε, compare e.g. Mt 24:16 – “then”) Vine describes this “continuative” use of καί as having “a temporal significance.” (Compare w04 7/1 p.14 par.3 and ftn)

But καί also has a number of other uses, usually determined by the context. Vine refers to one of those other uses as “the epexegetic or explanatory use.” Epexegesis is “a returning to explain” or “an explaining in detail.” It is from Greek epi [in addition] + exegeisthai [to explain]. It is “when one interprets what one has just said. A kind of redefinition or self-interpretation (often signaled by constructions in English such as, 'that is to say...’ or 'to wit ...').” (On epexegesis, see here, and also here [and choose epexegesis from the right column].)

An example of this explanatory use can be found in Matthew 21:5: “Look! Your King is coming to you, mild-tempered, and mounted upon an ass, yes [Gk καί], upon a colt.” Other possible examples include: John 1:16 (“even”) and Acts 23:6 (“hope of resurrection,” literally, “hope and [Gk καί] resurrection”). And, like Matthew 21:5, the explanatory word or phrase immediately follows the word or phrase it is explaining. In fact, it needs to follow immediately in order to make sense to the reader or listener what is being explained. (Compare Revelation 18:14. The first word, “Yes” [Gk καί], is a possible example of this epexegetic use of καί. But note how, “Yes, the fine fruit that your soul desired,” follows immediately after the list of items making up that “fine fruit” in Rev 18:12, 13.)

In Revelation 16:19, if one is to contend that the phrase, “and [καί] Babylon the Great was remembered …”, is explanatory of, “and the great city split into three parts,” then, a number of problems are created, the burden of proof for which would fall on the one contending that Babylon and “the great city” in this verse are the same.

For example, to say that the phrase about Babylon is explanatory runs counter to what “and” [καί] is “chiefly used for.” That is to say, the “and” before Babylon would be out-of-the-ordinary. And thus, rightly, the burden of proof would fall on the one saying that this is an out-of-the-ordinary instance of καί. Also, why is that καί explanatory amongst all the other occurrences, right there in verses 19–21, that are clearly conjunctive or connective in use? And, if the phrase about Babylon is explanatory, why does it not immediately follow the phrase about “the great city,” where it would make sense, grammatically, as an explanatory phrase? How would it make sense to insert, “and the cities of the nations fell,” between the first and last phrases of that verse, if John understood the first and last phrase to refer to each other? (w73 4/1 p.207 par.2) Besides contradicting the context, the idea that Babylon is “the great city” of Revelation 16:19 impugns the apostle John’s writing ability.

Revelation 16:19–21 appears to be written in a rhetorical style known as polysyndeton. (Literally, “much bound together” or “many conjunctions.” See Figures of Speech Used in the Bible by E. W. Bullinger, pages 208–237.) One reference says: “Po'ly-syn'de-ton; or, Many Ands (Genesis 22:9,11. Joshua 7:24. Luke 14:21). The repetition of the word ‘and’ at the beginning of successive clauses, each independent, important, and emphatic, with no climax at the end (Compare Asyndeton and Luke 14:13).” Another reference says: “This works opposite of Asyndeton [no connectives]. Where Asyndeton shifts momentum and emphasis to the end, Polysyndeton, instead, puts equal emphasis on each component, each statement or word within the phrase. This means each portion requires equal consideration.” All of this would definitely weigh in against the idea that ‘God’s remembering of Babylon’ was somehow referring to ‘the great city’s being split into three parts.’

For a similar example, compare Revelation 11:13. It has a sentence and thought structure quite like Rev 16:19: There is a “great earthquake.” “And a tenth of the city fell; and seven thousand persons were killed by the earthquake, and the rest became frightened and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Notice how the ‘many ands’ separate and give individual attention to each of the clauses that follow the “earthquake.” Each of the individual clauses describes a particular result of the earthquake. And the individual statements do not build to one climactic clause at the end. This is very much like Revelation 16:19–21. So, for instance, this makes, “and the rest,” distinct from the “seven thousand persons” in Rev 11:13.

With regard to punctuation, the same logic would apply here, in Revelation 16:19–21, as would apply with Luke 23:43. (See rs p.287 par.4)


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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#6 Post by menrov » 3 years ago

What if verses 18-21 are not a sequence of events but a set of events that happened simultaneously until verse 17 says: Finally the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying: “It is done!” .

The end working of verse 17 is not consistent. Some have:
It has taken place
IT HAS COME TO PASS
It is done
All is over
It has happened
So be it
"It has come to be (or: He has been birthed; It has come into existence; It has occurred
Quite some differences. For some, it means it is finished (is done, has happened, has taken place) and other indicate things still to happen (so be it, has come to be, has come to pass).

Not sure yet what the impact is or can be on interpretation of next verses. What if verses 18-21 are a set of events that have happened during or up to moment of pouring out the bowl (past perfect tense)?

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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#7 Post by Bobcat » 3 years ago

Hi Menrov,

Perhaps consider how the whole sequence of the bowl judgments is described in Rev chapter 16:
Rev 16:1 Command for angels with bowls to go forth and pour them out.

Rev 16:2 First one pours; results follow.

Rev 16:3 Second one pours; results follow.

Rev 16:4-7 Third one pours; results follow.

Rev 16:8-9 Fourth one pours; results follow.

Rev 16:10-11 Fifth one pours; results follow.

Rev 16:12-14 Sixth one pours; results follow.

Rev 16:15 Jesus interjects saying to keep awake.

Rev 16:16 Continued result of pouring of sixth bowl.

Rev 16:17-21 Seventh bowl poured out; Results follow:
. . . . . Voice from throne saying "it is finished" (note also this is the 7th and last bowl).
. . . . . Lightning and voices and thunders, and a great earthquake (Cmp Rev 11:15, 19 - 7th trumpet)
. . . . . . . . Rev 16:19-21 is a subset - detailed results of the "great earthquake."

For an interesting comparison of the Trumpets and Bowls, see this post. The 6th Trumpet (Rev 9:13-21) concludes with mankind in general refusing to repent. The 6th Bowl (Rev 16:12-16) concludes with the kings of the earth and their forces moving into a position threatening God's interests (the place called Armageddon - Massed foreign troops near [the mountain of] Megiddo would have been a threat to ancient Israel - Compare also Ezek 38:8-9 and this thread on the origin of the term "Armageddon").



On the Divine saying, "It is finished" (with variations here), the Greek is simply one word, the verb γίνομαι (ginomai), "to be," (here and here) in the perfect indicative, and thus having the very literal meaning, "It is" (but see the next post for a correction), which the various translations smooth out for English readers.


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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#8 Post by Bobcat » 3 years ago

Hey Menrov,

I goofed on the meaning of ginomai. It means "to become." The link to the Greek dictionary that I gave had the definition correctly. I was trying to finish that post and my breakfast and race off to work.

The literal meaning in Rev 16:17 would be something like, "It has become," indicating "to emerge, become, transitioning from one point (realm, condition) to another." In the case of Rev 16:17, the announcement indicating something has been accomplished, or something allowed or permitted is now over. There is some similarity in thought with the statement at the end of the sixth trumpet where it says that the people refused to repent. (Rev 9:20-21) Leading to the seventh and final trumpet. (Rev 11:15-19; For a comparison of the trumpets and bowls see here.)


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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#9 Post by Jerome » 3 years ago

The occurrence of "city" (Greek πόλις) at Rev 14:8 is lacking in textual support.
Please believe that I'm not trying to be difficult but doing a search for the expression "the great city" in Revelation garnered the following results. Do they all lack textual support?
And their corpses will be on the main street of the great city that is in a spiritual sense called Sodʹom and Egypt, where their Lord was also executed on the stake. (Revelation 11:8)
The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and Babylon the Great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. (Revelation 16:19)
And the woman whom you saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18)
They will stand at a distance because of their fear of her torment and say: ‘Too bad, too bad, you great city, Babylon you strong city, because in one hour your judgment has arrived!’ (Revelation 18:10)
saying: ‘Too bad, too bad, the great city, clothed with fine linen, purple, and scarlet and richly adorned with gold ornaments, precious stones, and pearls, (Revelation 18:16)
They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and mourning, and said: ‘Too bad, too bad, the great city, in which all those who had ships at sea became rich from her wealth, because in one hour she has been devastated!’ (Revelation 18:19)
And a strong angel lifted up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying: “Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again. (Revelation 18:21)
Admittedly, the great city in Revelation 11:8 is not clearly identified, but all the other occurrences are associated with Babylon.

Jerome

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Re: "The Great City" of Revelation 16:19

#10 Post by Bobcat » 3 years ago

Hi Jerome,
Please believe that I'm not trying to be difficult but doing a search for the expression "the great city" in Revelation garnered the following results. Do they all lack textual support?
The ones you found all have good mss support. You should have got hits on Rev 11:18; 16:19; 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21 (Eight total).

The occurrence of "city" (Greek πόλις) at Rev 14:8 is lacking in textual support.
And thus, on your search you did not get a hit on this verse. If you are using the JW Library app, look at Rev 14:8 in the interlinear and see if you can find the word "city" (Greek πόλις) there. On this link, if you scroll down a little you will see how a number of Master Greek texts read. Only the TR has πόλις in the text. All the others are recognized as more authoritative than the Textus Receptus (TR). The TR is the text from which the KJV was made.

Admittedly, the great city in Revelation 11:8 is not clearly identified,
The one at Rev 11:8 is identified, in part, as the place "where their Lord was also executed on the stake." That should give you some kind of clue. It is Jerusalem or some "city" that resembles ancient Jerusalem in some way.

but all the other occurrences are associated with Babylon.
I agree with you regarding Rev 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21. My second post in this thread was about why that could not be the case for Rev 16:19.


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