Are you for the city of man or the city of God? (Rev. 18)
In A.D. 410, the mighty city of Rome fell to a Germanic tribe of Visigoths under the leadership of Alaric. The unthinkable had happened; the eternal city had fallen to barbarians. As Jerome put it, “If Rome can perish, what can be safe?”
Jerome’s response to this catastrophe is ironic, if you think about it in light of what the apostle is saying here in Rev. 17-19. We’ve seen that the harlot Babylon, the city of man, was in John’s time embodied and exemplified by the city and empire of Rome. According to John, Rome was carried by the beast, which we have seen is meant to symbolize the kingdoms of men through whom Satan carries out his rule over the world and will be ultimately epitomized in the kingdom of the Antichrist in the last days.
But by the fourth century, because of the conversion of Constantine to Christianity in 312, the Roman empire became Christian almost overnight. Suddenly, Christian pastors and bishops, instead of being persecuted by the state, became implicated in the decisions of the state. Christendom began to rise, and the city of man became confused with the city of God. Rome became the handmaiden of the faith instead of the oppressor of the people of God.
When Rome was sacked, both pagans and Christian citizens of the empire were surprised and disheartened and disoriented. Pagans blamed the Christians. Christians didn’t know what to think. Jerome, the great Christian scholar who translated the Scriptures into Latin and gave us the Vulgate, retreated into the desert, and waited out for what he was sure was the end. His response was mainly one of despair it seems. He wrote:
I was wavering between hope and despair, and was torturing myself with the misfortunes of other people. But when the bright light of all the world was put out, or, rather, when the Roman Empire was decapitated...the whole world perished in one city. Who would believe that Rome, built up by the conquest of the whole world, had collapsed, that the mother of all nations became their tomb?1
Augustine the bishop of Hippo in North Africa was a contemporary of Jerome’s (Jerome would live until 420, Augustine until 430). However, instead of retreating into a state of despair, he wrote The City of God, in which he contrasts the character and goals of the city of man and the city of God. For Augustine, Rome was not the city of God. Rome was part of the city of man and would inevitably fall, but the city of God would go on. Whereas Jerome retreated, Augustine took heart and encouraged himself and others to keep on keeping on.
In our day, we need to be careful that we do not tie God’s kingdom to any nation of men. The United States, as blessed as she is, is not the kingdom of God. As terrible as it would be for the United States to fall to another nation, it would not mean the end or the frustration of God’s purpose or plans on earth. The city of God is not the city of man. Nations will fall, but God’s kingdom will come.
I think Revelation 18 has something to teach us about this. Though I do think it is pointing us to the final dissolution of the city of man and the end of Satan’s rule over the kingdoms of men, there have been adumbrations of it throughout history, which are meant to remind us of the instability of the world and its ultimate end. In fact, this chapter is in some sense modeled ader the “prophetic dirges”2 in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. In Isaiah (13-14) and Jeremiah (50-51), the prophets announce the doom of the city of Babylon. In Ezekiel, (26-28) the prophet announces the end of the city of Tyre. Both Tyre and Babylon, like Rome in the first century, were world (in the case of Babylon) or regional (as in the case of Tyre) commercial and political centers. And in both cases, the cities fell. They fell, not primarily because of unforeseen forces at work in the world, but because God brought his judgment upon them for their wickedness. This will be the case with Rome, and in the end it will be the case for the seat of power of the Antichrist.
And yet God’s people have lived in the Babylons of history. Daniel the prophet spent much of his life in ancient Babylon. The epistle of Paul to the Romans testifies to a thriving church in the very heart of the empire, the seat of the harlot in the Revelation. Our Lord addressed a leier to the church at Pergamum where Satan’s throne was (Rev. 2:19). The perennial question is: how does a Christian who lives in Babylon relate to Babylon? How does a Christian whose citizenship is in heaven, in the city of God (Phil. 3:21), relate to the city of man in which he or she lives?
As I said, I think the eighteenth chapter of the book of Revelation can help us out here. It gives us a perspective to take and a path to walk. It is a reminder of why and how the Christian is to maintain a posture against worldliness. The chapter begins with the angelic announcement of Babylon’s fall (as if it were past, so sure it the divine purpose) and the reasons for its demise (1-8). Then in verses 9-19 those who profited from the wealth and power of Babylon lament her destruction, first the kings of the earth (9-10), followed by the merchants of the earth (11-17a), followed by the merchants of the sea (17b-19). Finally, the saints are called to rejoice over Babylon’s judgment as an angel gives a visual demonstration of Babylon’s final and irrecoverable destruction by throwing a millstone into the sea (20-24).
What we see here is that there are two fundamental ajtudes toward Babylon: one in which you weep in despair over her demise, and one in which you rejoice over her destruction. The Lord wants his people to rejoice, not weep over the annihilation off Babylon, and this chapter is meant to help us do that.
As we begin, I think it is important to step back and remind ourselves again what the city of Babylon is meant to represent. If we just think of this in terms of the end of history, and of some future city ruled from by the Antichrist, we may have a hard time seeing the relevance of this passage. Now I do think that there is something relevant and important here that comes from its connection to the end of history. But the city of Babylon has many incarnations. Babylon, Tyre, Sodom, and Rome are all instances of the rule of the beast. There will be a last incarnation. There will be a time when the final city of man will be destroyed. But just as in John’s day it was manifested in Rome, even so in our day it is manifested in the nation-states of the world. And that means that we are just as much in danger of compromising with Babylon today as the believers in Asia Minor were in the first century or as future believers will be in the days of the Antichrist.
For what is Babylon? It is just the world. You see throughout this chapter the universal nature of this city. The chapter begins this way: “All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her” (3). And it ends in the same way: “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of the prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (23-24). Babylon is just the city of man in opposition to the city of God. It is mankind organized in opposition to Christ and his kingdom. It is the kingdom of man in rebellion against God. It is the world under the dominion of Satan.
Sometimes, the word “world” is used in Scripture to refer to the created order. Sometimes it is used to refer to mankind in general. But often it is used to refer to the realities referred to above. When the devil took our Lord to the top of a mountain and showed him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”. . . he said to him, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Mt. 4:8- 9). In Luke’s account, the devil says, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Lk. 4:6). It is not for no reason that the apostle Paul describes Satan and the demons as “the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12). It is for this reason that the apostle John wrote in another place, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 Jn. 5:19).
The world rejected Christ when he came into the world (Jn. 1:10) and hates him and his disciples (Jn. 15:18- 25). Paul described himself and other Christian ministers in his day as “the filth of the world and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (1 Cor. 4:13), because that’s the way the world thinks of the ministers of Christ. Hence the apostle James asks us, “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jam. 4:4).
And yet we live in this world. We do commerce in this world. We rub shoulders with the people of this world. How are we to relate to it? How are we to live in this world with the tension of being called out of it and to rejoice over its inevitable destruction?
In particular, what does the exhortation in verse 4 mean for us? “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” In both Isaiah (48:20; 52:11) and Jeremiah (50:8), the children of Israel are commanded to literally come out of Babylon. But this is not a literal exodus that is meant here. Rather, this is a call to resist conforming to standards of the world. The Lord is telling us to do in Revelation what he is telling us to do in Paul, who was applying the OT passages referred to above: “what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 6:16-7:1).
So what I want to do in this message is to consider what it means to come out of Babylon, and then how this chapter helps us to do that.
What does it mean to come out of Babylon?
Babylon is humanity organized against the kingdom of God. It is worldliness. It is expressed in a way of living that either eliminates the God of the Bible altogether or minimizes him. It is a way of living that is not commiied to the principles of God’s word. It is organized around the will of man rather than the will of God.
To come out of Babylon doesn’t necessarily require a change in geographic location; it is simply to refuse to live according to its principles. What are its principles? They are expressed primarily in idolatry. We’ve seen that Babylon is symbolized as a harlot with whom the kings of the earth commit sexual immorality. But this is OT imagery that was meant to underline the wickedness of turning from the worship of the true God to the other gods, from the Creator to the creature. To come out of Babylon is to live in a way that rejects these paierns of thinking and behaving.
First, the idolatry of Babylon, of the world, is expressed in skepticism, by which I mean unbelief in the things of God. Idolatry is exchanging the Creator for the creature, and the primary way this happens is when we exchange faith in God’s word for faith in other authorities. Our age is characterized by unbelief in God, unbelief in his Word, the Scriptures. In Rev. 18, we read that “by thy [Babylon’s] sorceries were all nations deceived” (23). A big part of the deception is just believing things that are contrary to God’s word: “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:10-12). Of course those who reject the teachings of the Bible claim that there is not enough evidence for its truths, but I strongly suspect that is just a front for their unwillingness to submit to the authority of God over their lives.
I’m not of course saying that you should believe something when the evidence is stacked against it. But this is not the case with the gospel. I know that the culture is stacked against it. I know that the lifestyle people want to live is stacked against it. But that is not the same thing as proving that the evidence against God’s word is airtight as some want to believe. The problem is that many of these folks proceed as if they were God and they demand that God meet their requirements for belief. They are like Casey at the bat. God throws them a strike and they let it pass because it’s not their style. But it’s still a strike right down the middle of the plate. It is still evidence that is going to count against them in the day of judgment.
What is the evidence? Well, I would say that the greatest evidence for the truths of the Bible is in the person of Jesus Christ. The apostle John calls it the testimony that God has given of his Son (1 Jn. 5:8-10). The fact of the maier is that the evidence for the historicity of Jesus is iron-clad. The evidence for the empty tomb is compelling. The evidence for the post-mortem appearances of Jesus is so strong that even atheists like the historian Gerd Ludeman are willing to concede that the disciplines had such experiences. The best and simplest explanation for this is just that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. But if that is true, everything else follows. It would follow that he is who he said he was, the Son of God and Savior of the world, that he died to save us from our sins. He accepted the OT Bible as authoritative and commissioned his apostles to give us the NT Bible. The reality of God and authority of the gospel and the Scriptures rest upon the evidence of the risen Christ.
A year or so ago I read through a lot of Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion. He is a very well-known and respected scientist. So I was honestly surprised at how weak his case is against God. Then I recently saw a video of him where he was answering a question as to what evidence it would take for him to believe in God. His response stunned me: he frankly claimed that even the Second Coming of Jesus wouldn’t be enough for him, that he would just chalk that up to a hallucination. In other words, there isn’t any evidence for him, even in theory, that could convince him that God exists. My friends, that’s not a rational position, I don’t care how famous you are or how smart you are.
I mention that because he illustrates a reality that the Bible itself points to, and that is that there is more going on here than an intellectual assessment of the evidence. The Bible teaches that the human heart is hostile to God. It can be religious and be hostile to God. It can claim to be “open,” and be hostile to God. A hostile heart isn’t going to accept evidence; it is going to reject it. It is why you have this exchange between Abraham in heaven and the rich man in hell when the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead to warn his [the rich man’s brothers]: “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Lk. 16:29-31). Dawkins himself has admiied as such; if we are to give credence to what he says about himself, even if a man were to come back from the dead, he wouldn’t believe his eyes.
The city of man may claim to be about evidence and reason and science – indeed, to make gods out of these things – but that does not mean they are consistent with evidence and reason and science. But the reason is that the main problem here isn’t evidence and reason and science. The main problem here is human pride. We don’t want to submit to an authority outside of ourselves. And so we make our feelings and thoughts and desires and wants the final authority. When that comes from a heart that is hostile to God, skepticism is the inevitable result.
If we are going to come out of Babylon, we have to fight the skepticism of our age. Not with fideism, not with blind and irrational faith. Rather, we fight it with genuine humility before God’s word. We fight it by having the ajtude Isaiah speaks of: “For thus saith the high and lody One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15). I am certain that a chief reason for non-belief and for the rejection of the Scriptures is human pride and the refusal to let go of being the ultimate authority. We have to let go of self-sovereignty. We have to humble ourselves before God so that he may raise us up. We cannot come out of Babylon if we are listening to our own voice in the place of God’s voice, which we hear through his Son and through his Scriptures.
A clear mark, in other words, of coming out of Babylon is a life humbly submiied to God’s word. Those who are born of God hear God’s word and those who are not don’t. It’s what the apostle John said: “Ye are of God, liile children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 Jn. 4:4-6). It’s not just a maier of saying you believe in the Bible: but does your life show it? Do you practice what you preach? Do you actually obey its precepts and hope in its promises? Are you being conformed to the image of Christ by it?
Second, the spirit of worldliness is expressed in self-righteousness. Another way idolatry is expressed is in the exchange of God’s way of salvation for one of our own making. One of the things Babylon says about herself is this: “she hath glorified herself . . . for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (7). This is essentially the ajtude of self-satisfaction, of self-confidence, and self- righteousness. The city of man is dripping with this ajtude. It is the ajtude of the original Babel: “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). It is the attitude: “I don’t need God. I’ve got things figured out. I can handle my life on my own. I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.”
When this is expressed religiously, it becomes self-righteousness. It is going about to establish your own righteousness, even if it is before God, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God that we receive through Christ. It is a refusal to enter in by the strait gate and the narrow way. However, you cannot come to Christ carrying your own righteousness. The gate is too narrow for that. There is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). You cannot come to God and be indifferent to the way of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Those who are saved are saved by faith, and the faith by which we are saved is faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8). Saving faith is the realization that I cannot save myself, that salvation is of the Lord. It is the realization that I am a sinner, that I have sinned against God, and that my sins merit God’s eternal disfavor and judgment. But it is also the recognition that God has not led us to rot away in our sins, that he sent his eternal Son to keep the law of God that we couldn’t keep and to suffer the penalty and due reward for our sins in our place. Faith recognizes therefore two things: first, that I cannot save myself; second, that Christ is able to save to the uiermost those who come unto God by him (Heb. 7:25). Or, as John Newton put it, “I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
To come out of Babylon is to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have you? Is the confidence of your soul not in your own works, not in your own merit, but in the atoning work and saving merit of Jesus Christ? Do you trust in him? Have you received him as Lord and Savior? Have you repented of your sins and turned to Christ? If you haven’t, the reality is that you are still in Babylon. Come out of her and come to Christ!
Third, it is expressed in selfishness. You see it expressed in the sentiments of the kings and merchants and sailors who profited by Babylon. They wail and weep over the judgement of Babylon, but they are only sorry for their own loss (see esp. verses 9-19). Babylon rejoices over her own luxuriousness while shedding the blood of the prophets and the saints.
Selfishness is the practical outworking of self-sovereignty. It thinks of oneself as if he or she is God and requires everyone else to bow down. When you exchange the Creator with the creature and that creature is yourself you not only end up worshiping yourself, but you expect everyone else to do so as well. Is someone in your way? Well, give them a piece of your mind. Step over them or on them as you make your way to the top. Is someone an annoyance to you? Well, make sure that they know it! Require others to fit their schedules around your own. Make others do always what you want to do and be angry when they won’t.
There are a thousand ways selfishness expresses itself. I think in some ways it is at the boiom of all sins. In Rom. 2:8, the apostle Paul places being contentious or selfish (which is what the word means there) with not obeying the truth and obeying unrighteousness, and he goes on to say that it is precisely this kind of person who will experience God’s indignation and wrath and suffer tribulation and anguish. Those who are given over to selfishness are hell-bound people.
Now I know that all of us are selfish on some level and will be until we are no longer carrying about these sinful natures. But if we are redeemed by Christ and have been renewed and changed by the power of the Spirit of Christ, then our lives ought to be more and more characterized, not be selfishness, but by love, and love, the apostle says, does not seek its own (1 Cor. 13:5). It is to be like Christ: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other beier than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:3-8).
Our culture doesn’t think this way. In our culture, people use people. People are a means to an end; they are the instruments through which we find our own fulfillment. It should not surprise us when people are this way; this is what it means to be a part of the city of man. This is what it means to be worldly. But it should not characterize the church. The church ought to be a place where people are freed from using people for the pursuit of selfish ends. And the reason why we should be freed from that is because we have already found joy and peace and satisfaction in a relationship with Christ, in fellowship with God. We don’t need people to make us happy and so we don’t use them to make us happy. Our joy is in God.
Now there are other ways we could talk about what it means to come out of the city of man, out of Babylon. But it does at least mean these three things: we have walked away from skepticism in God’s word to humbly submijng to it, away from self-righteousness to submijng to the righteousness of Christ, away from selfishness to Christ-likeness. It means, as our Lord put it, to be in the world (indeed, to be sent into it!) but not of it (Jn. 17:15-18). It means to shine the light in the darkness (Mt. 5:16); not to be part of the darkness but to be light in the darkness.
But how does this chapter encourage us to pursue the virtues of coming out of Babylon? That is our next question.
How Revelation 18 helps us to come out of Babylon
We are helped by being reminded again and again that the present power and prosperity of the city of man is but temporary. One of the things I appreciate about the contribution this chapter makes to that is how it highlights the trade of ancient Rome in detail (much like Ezekiel does for Tyre in Ezek. 27). Why do you think all these things are listed? “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men” (Rev. 18:11-13). They are listed because they are meant to help you feel, I think, just now impressive and powerful and industrious and organized and extravagant the empire of Rome was. They didn’t dig this stuff up out of their backyards. It came from all over the world: purple from Phoenicia, silk and cinnamon from China, citron wood from North Africa, which became furniture expertly and ornately craded, and wheat from Egypt.3 From precious metals to jewels to fabrics to wood and ivory to aromatic substances to food to livestock to slaves, Rome had it all. (The slavery shows the darker side of the empire, where humans are put in the same category, basically, as animals.)
Now put yourself in that context. Imagine that you are part of this city and empire. Look all around you and see everything that is being accomplished! You feel like you really are part of something tremendous, amazing, meaningful. And then you look at the church – how pitiful! No-names, no influence, no power!
What was the church doing in the world compared to Rome? It is no wonder that early critics of the church, like Celsus, mocked the church as weak and impotent and stupid.
Do not people do the same thing today? Look at the world and its universities and research labs and businesses. Look at the comfort and luxury and technology and wealth that the world produces. And then look at these churches – what are they doing? Look at the stadiums filled to the brim to hear Taylor Swift and then look at these pitiful churches that can barely get a handful on Sunday morning. You can begin to think that the church is pointless, that it is missing something. The world tells you that if you want to be part of something big, be a part of Rome, be a part of the world!
Now I’m not saying that Christians can’t produce technology and wealth in the world. We don’t go out of Babylon by leaving the city, but by resisting its corrupting influence. The prophet Daniel is such a great example here. He was a positive asset to the political leaders of his day, but he was always first and foremost a follower of God. However, that did not take away from the fact that Babylon was going to be destroyed – in fact, Daniel saw it happen. In the same way, we can and should contribute to our neighborhoods and cities and nations in positive ways. But we need to remind ourselves that at the end of the day, Babylon is still Babylon; the world is still the world. And it will look at believers and the church and try to discredit us. And one way it does this is by pointing to the seeming impotence and smallness and ineffectiveness of the church up against the power of the world and its economies and militaries and wealth and so on.
Don’t buy it, brothers and sisters. And Revelation 18 helps us to see why. All this might and affluence and wealth and comfort and productivity will one day be destroyed. One day, all this wealth will disappear. If Christ tarries, the probability is that one day the United States will be a thing of the past. It will go from being a super-power to become a thing studied by students of history, like Babylon and Rome. And one day, the world will itself fall before the might of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when he comes to fully establish his kingdom, when the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. Yes, this is the end of all kingdoms which are not the kingdom of Christ: “and ader these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightitily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have commiied fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (1-3).
One of the things that you see here is how suddenly and irreversible it will happen. Note the emphasis one the fact that all this will happen in “one hour” (10, 17, 19). It is a stark contrast to the confidence that Rome had in itself, that it would last forever: “she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (7). You can hear the disbelief in the words of the kings of the earth as they stand watching Babylon burn: “Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come” (10).
My friends, the point is this: however stable Babylon seems to be, it will one day be resigned to the dustbin of history. What are you working for? If the world is what you are working for, if your life effort is going into the wealth and power and productivity and luxury of this world, you are laboring in and for a future zoo for demons. Rather, let us remember that the Christian is laboring for something much, much better. We are building something else. John will put this in front of us in future chapters: it is the kingdom of God, a kingdom which cannot be moved, a kingdom which will one day overcome and overtake all the nations of the world. And it will not do it like the empires of this world which come and go, sometimes with breathtaking rapidity – but it will do so with eternal finality and glory. This is what the book of Revelation reminds us: that it is right and good and meaningful to give yourself to the kingdom of God, because, no matter how small and despised and little and ineffective it seems to be today, it is forever in union with the living and risen Christ, who is sovereign over all things, who will punish his enemies and reward his people. That is something to work for. That is something to give your life to. Seek first the kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33), not the kingdom of men. Brothers and sisters, resist worldliness! If you want to leave a lasting legacy, give yourself to Christ and his church and his cause. The world may despise you, but God will not forget your work and labor of love (Heb. 6:10); because Christ is risen your labor in his name and for his sake cannot and will never be in vain. So, brothers and sisters, with joy and faith and hope be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
1 Qtd. in the article by Kim Riddlebarger, “Jerome, Augustine, and the Fall of Rome,” in Modern Reformation (Nov/Dec 2009).
See https://www.modernreformation.org/resources/articles/jerome-augustine-and-the-fall-of-rome. Much of the information in these paragraphs I got from Riddlebarger’s article.
2 G. E. Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1972), p. 235.
3 See Robert Mounce, The Book of Revelation [Revised], (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1998), p. 332-334.