Revelation 18:16

ESV “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls!
NIV and cry out: ''Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
NASB saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls;
CSB saying, Woe, woe, the great city, dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, adorned with gold, jewels, and pearls;
NLT 'How terrible, how terrible for that great city! She was clothed in finest purple and scarlet linens, decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls!
KJV And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

What does Revelation 18:16 mean?

Again, the merchants loudly wail the destruction of Babylon. In this chapter, that name is used in reference to a corrupt, wicked political and economic system. Like using the name "Washington" as a metaphor for the United States, or "London" for the UK, this might be a reference to an entire nation or government, as well as a literal city.

The weeping merchants recall that Babylon's residents wore expensive fine linen, purple and scarlet, and adorned themselves with gold, jewels, and pearls. Nothing was too costly for them, so the merchants made a handsome profit from their sales to Babylon. In first-century Rome the nobles wore purple and scarlet as indicators of their rank and privilege. In Philippi a businesswoman named Lydia operated a successful business by selling purple cloth (Acts 16). Philippi was a Roman colony, a city in which the residents carried Roman citizenship and copied Roman culture. The citizens of Philippi attempted to identify with the Roman nobles by wearing purple garments.

Throughout history, clothing has been used as a status symbol. Apparently, this custom will continue into the Revived Roman Empire's capital, Babylon. But the flamboyant attire and adornments of the residents of Babylon will end when the city burns to the ground. This fact should serve notice that what a person puts on the body is not as important as what he or she puts in his or her heart.
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