SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Monday August 12, 1996


To what place was Peter referring when he wrote in 1 Peter 5:13 of "Babylon"?

"There is no evidence to support the idea that Peter ever labored in literal Babylon. On the other hand, tradition locates his closing labors and violent death at Rome.... It is known that early Christians often used the cryptic title 'Babylon' when speaking of the Roman capital, to avoid political reprisals. . . . There is general agreement among commentators that Peter here uses the term Babylon for a veiled reference to Rome,"-SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 589.

Significantly, the little horn of Daniel 7 grew on the head of the fourth beast. That is, papal Rome grew out of the pagan Roman Empire. The little-horn power of Daniel 8 is Rome in both its ancient and medieval aspects.

What power is represented by the woman named "Babylon" depicted in Revelation 17:1-6?

As the dragon with seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 12:3) "gave his power and his throne and great authority" (Rev. 13:2, RSV) to the leopard like beast of Revelation 13, so the scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns of Revelation 17:3 provided support for the woman Babylon (verses 4-6). The Roman Empire was succeeded by the papal empire of the Middle Ages. The nations that succeeded the Roman Empire gave secular support to the established church. In the early Christian centuries, nonbiblical teachings were accepted by the church until its theology became confused. This was the foundation of modem "Babylon." From the second century through the Middle Ages, errors crept into the Christian church. Paul speaks of the gradual emergence of modern Babylon in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7. (See The Great Controversy, pp. 49, 50.)

Some errors accepted by the established church in the Middle Ages were Sunday sacredness, the doctrines of the immortality of the soul and eternal torment, the teaching that tradition and the authority of the church are above the Bible, infant baptism, the worship of Mary and the saints, the doctrine of transubstantiation, the confession of sins to a priest, penance, purgatory, the infallibility of the pope, and salvation by faith plus works.

The sixteenth-century Reformers-Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Latimer, and many others --rejected some aspects of papal teaching and returned to the Bible.