Revelation 18:17

ESV For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off
NIV In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!' 'Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off.
NASB for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and all who make their living by the sea, stood at a distance,
CSB for in a single hour such fabulous wealth was destroyed!And every shipmaster, seafarer, the sailors, and all who do business by sea, stood far off
NLT In a single moment all the wealth of the city is gone!' And all the captains of the merchant ships and their passengers and sailors and crews will stand at a distance.
KJV For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

What does Revelation 18:17 mean?

Overconfidence often comes with prosperity (James 4:13–16), especially when people assume their worldly wealth isn't subject to God's sovereignty (Psalm 14:1). This verse emphasizes again that Babylon's wealth disappeared in a single hour—though this is not meant to imply that a literal sixty minutes describes the entire fall. Rather, the obliteration of Babylon will come rapidly: so quickly that it can't be prevented, avoided, or grasped until everything is all over (Revelation 18:21). Both physically, through weapons of mass destruction, and economically, through rapid changes in commerce, an entire nation can be struck down in a matter of moments.

Here, in John's vision (Revelation 17:1–3), fire destroyed everything the residents of Babylon thought was valuable. What the people considered worthwhile quickly became worthless and fleeting. In Matthew 6:19–20 Jesus instructed, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."

This verse specifies all whose trade is on the sea as joining the world's merchants (Revelation 18:11–16) in their extreme mourning over Babylon's destruction. We can picture those onboard ships approaching Babylon's port with high hopes of gaining riches at Babylon but finding the city in ruin. Like the merchants, these individuals find their hopes dashed, and in fear of sharing in Babylon's fate, they stand afar off.
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