Revelation 18:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 18:21, NIV: Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: 'With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.

Revelation 18:21, ESV: Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more;

Revelation 18:21, KJV: And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

Revelation 18:21, NASB: Then a strong angel picked up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, 'So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will never be found again.

Revelation 18:21, NLT: Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a huge millstone. He threw it into the ocean and shouted, 'Just like this, the great city Babylon will be thrown down with violence and will never be found again.

Revelation 18:21, CSB: Then a mighty angel picked up a stone like a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, In this way, Babylon the great city will be thrown down violently and never be found again.

What does Revelation 18:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the New Testament era, a typical millstone, usually made of basalt, was about a foot and half (45 cm) in diameter and about four inches (10 cm) thick. Two millstones, one above the other, were used to grind grain. Some were even larger, requiring animals and mechanisms to operate. Even a "small" millstone can weigh more than 100 pounds (45 kg). In John's continuing vision (Revelation 17:1–3), a mighty angel, perhaps Michael the archangel, picked up a millstone described as "great." This uses the Greek root word megas, implying something very large. A "very large" millstone could easily weigh thousands of pounds / kilograms.

After picking up the large millstone, the mighty angel threw it into the sea. He cried out loudly that Babylon would be thrown down violently and vanish from the face of the earth. Earlier, the demise of Babylon was said to have happened "in a single hour" (Revelation 18:10). This description supports the full meaning of that phrase: Babylon's ruin is sudden, dramatic, and unavoidable. Like dropping a boulder into the ocean, it happens with violence and is over as quickly as it starts.

This is precisely what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, when God destroyed those wicked cities with sulfur and fire (Genesis 19:24–25). This rapid, total ruin happens at the end of the tribulation, when God overthrows Babylon. The once proud, powerful capital of the beast's empire (Revelation 13:1–10) becomes an ash heap and disappears from the face of the earth. Babylon had opposed God and His people. It had practiced all kinds of evil. Its ruler, the beast, assumed the role of God and demanded worship (Revelation 13:11–15), but the true God put an end to all that with one powerful stroke.