One of the portions of the book of Revelation whose meaning is hotly debated is the reference to Mystery Babylon in chapter 17. It appears that this will be the location of the Antichrist’s governmental and spiritual headquarters. But, where exactly is Mystery Babylon located? Will it be headquartered in Jerusalem, New York, Mecca, or Rome? Or, will it be ancient Babylon rebuilt?
Dr. David Reagan and I asked these questions on our television program Christ in Prophecy of Bible prophecy expert Bill Salus, the founder and director of Prophecy Depot Ministries based in La Quinta, California. Bill is a prolific writer and conference speaker, best known for his insightful book about Psalm 83 and the war that is depicted in it.
In the first segment, Bill ruled out the arguments for Mystery Babylon being the rebuilt city of Babylon in Iraq. Now he’s going to examine Rome as a possible candidate city.
The Sins of Rome
Nathan Jones: We’re continuing our interview of Bill Salus concerning the identity of Mystery Babylon as a city as described in the book of Revelation chapters 17-18. Alright, Bill, you’ve discounted Jerusalem. You’ve discounted the rebuilt Babylon. You discounted Mecca. You even discounted New York City, Hollywood, Istanbul, Shanghai, you name it — you’ve discounted them all. Instead, you claim Rome is Mystery Babylon. Why?
Bill Salus: I haven’t discounted Shanghai yet. But, we will discount Shanghai as well because none of the holy Apostles were martyred there.
By way of review, Mystery Babylon is prophesied to be a city that sits on seven hills, and that can only be Rome. Rome was where the holy apostles were killed. They martyrs cry out for their vindication in Revelation 18:20, asking when the city will be judged. Rome remains the popular view in history, up to this point. I listed the names of the Church Fathers, and Reformers, and contemporaries, like ourselves, who subscribe to Rome as the city’s identity.Bill Salus: #MysteryBabylon is prophesied to be a city that sits on seven hills, and that can only be #Rome. Click To Tweet
Additionally, another reason why I believe the body of evidence sways in the direction of Rome is that at the time Revelation was written Rome went by a code word. Babylon was a code word for Rome. You couldn’t denounce Rome and expect to avoid persecution. First Peter 5:13 mentions this code word in his epistle. Peter says, “She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.” Peter was in Rome at the time. Most of our colleagues, no matter what city they subscribe to as being Mystery Babylon, would agree that Babylon is a code word Peter was using for Rome.
Using Babylon in place of Rome was the common understanding in the first century. If you wanted to avoid persecution by the Romans, you blatantly had to call it by something else. John was a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos. He was a prisoner of the Roman Empire. He couldn’t just write a document naming Rome. He couldn’t name names openly.
Coinage dating back to that era portrayed the goddess Roma sitting on seven hills. Mystery Babylon was commonly understood that it was Rome back during the Apostles’ time.
Remember that this Mystery Babylon, this harlot, is drunk on the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus. Okay, we’ve got two different martyrdom scenarios. There’s the blood of the Saints. I would say that could very well be the Inquisitions that came out of Rome between the twelfth and the sixteenth centuries. Literally millions died as the results of the Inquisitions.
Nathan Jones: Also, look at the period of the Reformation. The slaughter of the Protestants by the Catholic Church was horrific.
Bill Salus: Exactly, yes. Revelation 18:5 promised that God is going to judge that city, “For her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God has remembered her cries.” Will Rome get a pass? After all, God judged Sodom and Gomorrah. Why would He not judge Rome for her crimes against Him?
Pagan Rome started with the Roman Empire, then it morphed into Papal Rome headquartered in the Vatican. There is no shortage of crimes and sins that have been perpetrated by Rome over the millennia. Pagan Rome put to death God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Christians were bloodily martyred in Rome for over three centuries. Some sources say the Christian death toll was over 210,000 during the time of the early spread of Christianity. Rome killed 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, according the Jewish historian Josephus, in 70 AD when Titus destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem. Jerusalem was destroyed again in 135 AD during the Bar Kokhba Revolt, killed hundreds of thousands of Jews between A.D. 132-135.
Nathan Jones: So, you are seeing Rome as the Roman Empire, but then it just morphed into the Holy Roman Empire, and then it morphed into the Roman Catholic Church. You see no distinction between the three?
Bill Salus: Absolutely, no distinction. As the Roman Empire started to disintegrate, the rulers found it favorable to embrace Christianity in order to maintain Rome’s power for as long as it was viable.
Nathan Jones: So, you don’t believe Rome has ended. It’s still here today, just changed form?
Bill Salus: Political Rome has morphed into Papal Rome at this point. We are now dealing with the religious aspects of the coming Harlot world religion. I would say that Mystery Babylon as a religion is centered in Rome and will have something to do with the Vatican.
Papal Rome committed many crimes and sins. Rome expelled Jews from Spain in A.D. 1492 and expelled them from Portugal in A.D. 1497. Rome killed tens of thousands of Jews in the Crusades, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Protestants during the Reformation. Rome is responsible for hundreds of thousands of victims of sexual abuse in this country and worldwide. These are just a few of the crimes and sins on Rome’s rap sheet. Rome’s sins are of great concern to God.
We’re dealing with a “harlot” world religion that is going to come on the scene at a time, I believe, after the Rapture when Satan is no longer going to be restrained from putting forward his closing arguments. The world is going to run muck as the Seal Judgments are being opened. Unrelenting wars are going to be waged. There will be famines and pestilences. The nations of the world will accept a global government that will establish itself at a time when Satan is free to unleash lying signs and wonders and deception. When Satan is free to do all that he desires during the Tribulation, he is going to have the freedom to act according to what the Apostle Paul described in 2 Thessalonians.
After the Rapture, Satan’s not going to smack his forehead and ask, “What do I do now? What system do I embrace? What plan do I implement?” I believe there is a system he’s already put in place that has an end game. Supernatural deception fringes all around this plan, utilizing Eucharistic miracles, Marian apparitions, and other false miracles.
Nathan Jones: Bill, help me make the transition here, because at first we were saying Mystery Babylon will be a city. Now you are saying it will be a religious system. Are both politics and religion encompassed within Mystery Babylon?
Bill Salus: Mystery Babylon will be a religious system that is headquartered in a great city which rules over the earth during the reign of the Antichrist.
In the fifth and last segment of our interview with Bill Salus identifying the city of Mystery Babylon, we’ll get into the specifics of the Antichrist’s Tribulation-era kingdom.