Mystery Babylon and Porphyrology :: By Daniel Payne 

A great deal of study and wonder has been invested as to the identity of Babylon the Great or Mystery Babylon, as recorded by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation. Many believe that Revelation chapter 17 describes religious Babylon and chapter 18 describes commercial Babylon.

Apostate Christendom, both the Catholic and Protestant movements that work tirelessly together with the Vatican with the stated goal of merging all world religions into one ecumenical denomination, very likely represents religious Babylon.

As to the identity of the commercial Babylon of Revelation chapter 18, it may very well be that the false harlot church controls the world market. However, it could also be that chapter 18 describes a commercial system that represents something else entirely.

It is not always preferred to have to write something that may not be in perfect agreement with something written in the past. That Mystery Babylon represents the Vatican in Rome is still a very real possibility.

But the truth is, there are some things contained within Bible prophecy that are impossible to be specifically dogmatic about until those things actually come to pass, as most likely intended by the Lord.

As said, the Lord may have intended for some mysteries to be unveiled at the proper time in history in the same way that the veil of the gospel is taken away in Christ:

“But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:14-16).

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4).

When reading John’s description of Babylon the Great after she has fallen, the parallels to the United States of America seem obvious. However one point prior to her destruction can be made:

“Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings” (Revelation 17:9-10a).

The seven mountains may represent seven literal mountains or hills upon which the city was built (i.e. Rome or Istanbul), or they may represent seven powerful or wealthy nations.

Here are a few notes next to several verses of Revelation chapter 18 that highlight the striking parallels between Mystery Babylon and America.

“The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come’” (Revelation 18:9-10).

“Standing at a distance” seems to represent a natural barrier that may be in place such as an ocean, and “for fear of her torment” seems to suggest that “Babylon” may have suffered a sudden massive nuclear strike (or some other cataclysmic event) “in one hour,” causing fears of radioactive contamination.

And who can doubt the “fornication” that the world has committed through the viewing and distribution of the Hollywood film, smut, and pornographic industry.

“The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’ Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’” (Revelation 18:15-18).

“Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea” seems to further support the notion that an ocean separates “the merchants” from their most profitable client.

A case in point as to “the merchants” who sell and “the great city” who buys: as of 2011, the United States and China are the world’s top two carbon emitters. [2]

China emits the most carbon while producing goods, and America emits the second most carbon-using. (Science exists that shows that carbon is actually good for the atmosphere.)

Since the total carbon output of number three on the list (Russia) pales in comparison to the carbon output of the US and China, there is only one “city” that realistically parallels that of the description of “the great city” in Revelation 18: — America.

The great city may also represent cities within America such as Chicago and New York City. Many nations trade and become rich through buying and selling—trading on Wall Street. Also, many nations buy and sell goods—such as vital food commodities like wheat, etc.—via the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

“Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore. The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore. The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth” (Revelation 18:21-24).

“The sound of harpists, musicians…” could easily describe the strong influence that American music has had on the rest of the world through the filth of Hollywood, and the intoxicated American Music industry in general. Of course that does not include the good quality, sober, and Christ-honoring music that has been produced and distributed from within America.

“No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore”; American engineering inventions are responsible for creating many engineering marvels worldwide including its own Hoover Dam and Golden Gate Bridge, and overseas marvels such as the Panama Canal and the numerous American military bases and infrastructure built worldwide after World War 2. Through America have come such transportation marvels as the space shuttle, the stealth bomber, satellites and supercars, etc., and who can forget the atomic bomb.

“The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore”; Ronald Reagan favored referring to America as “the shining city upon a hill.” The Statue of Liberty comes to mind as well.

If indeed it can be said that the Obama administration, among others, had a covert hand in the creation of the Islamic State terrorist group and others, then America truly would have a hand in spilling the blood of “prophets and saints.”

It needs to be said that a very corrupt covert American system, if it exists as even the layout of Washington D.C. seems to suggest, is separate from the American citizens of both generations, past and present, who have endured in the service of the true Church in reaching the world with the Gospel message through missionaries, true Christian broadcast media, etc.

Also, many millions of Americans, both Christians and non-Christians, have served their country with a wholesome pride in the ideal of true freedom and justice for all. Of course this does not preclude the fact that a corrupt machine may have always been running behind the scenes, deceiving the nations with its sorcery.

Red White & Blue?

“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4).

“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!” (Revelation 18:16).

Although the color blue is used explicitly in the Old Testament alongside purple (Exodus 39:1-2, etc), it is not used explicitly in the New Testament.

John does describe the horses he sees as having “breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth…” in Revelation 9:17.

Jacinth or hyacinth is used only this once in the New Testament, and its definition is dark purple or blue, or the color of the hyacinth flower, which varies from violet to purple.

The Greek word that John uses for the color “purple” in Revelation 17:4 and 18:16 is “porphyra.” Here is the Strong’s Concordance entry for this word:

4209 porphýra – purple, symbolic of “royal status” (L & N, 1, 79.38). There were three familiar shades of purple in the ancient world: deep violet, deep scarlet (or crimson), and deep blue (WP, 2, 220). [1]

The description of the vesture of Mystery Babylon is “purple and scarlet.” Of course the Catholic clergy also wears purple and scarlet vestments, and many have concluded that John was describing the Vatican as Mystery Babylon wearing purple and scarlet.

Again, it very well may be true that the apostate Catholic Church is Mystery Babylon as described in Revelation chapters 17 and 18. All one has to do is a quick internet search for “purple and scarlet.” The terms “catholic” or “Vatican” are not even necessary; just type “purple and scarlet,” and your senses will be bombarded with pictures of Catholic clergy dressed in purple and scarlet and references to the Catholic church as being the Whore of Babylon.

However, it seems extremely unlikely that the rest of the unsaved world, blinded due to the rejection of their true Creator, can altogether figure out a key point in Bible prophecy that has puzzled many God-fearing students of prophecy for generations.

Yes, many of those same dedicated and God-fearing Bible prophecy students made the link between the Vatican and Mystery Babylon, but that conclusion was never meant to be cemented as dogma such as are the truths of the virgin birth, the Trinity, the Resurrection, salvation by faith and not by works, etc.

Speaking of “dogma,” what about the idiom “wag the dog”? Maybe that has been the devil’s intention all along. Again, just “Google” the exact term “purple and scarlet” and read the first result among many of the same.


So is it possible that the Apostle John saw deep blue and red colors that he described as “purple and scarlet”? Yes, it is very possible.

Blue is extremely rare in nature. It seems that there exists in nature more ways to find purple dye than blue. Ancient Greek and Roman authorities made it illegal for anyone but themselves to wear blue, purple, or scarlet garments, to keep those particular colors “royal.”

What about the color “tekhelet” as described in the Old Testament?

It is thought that the technique used to dye the tassels of the garments and prayer shawls of the priests of ancient Israel has now been accurately rediscovered. The cultivation of tekhelet is acquired from a snail (Murex Trunculus) found in the waters of the Mediterranean off the Israeli coast. [3]

Clicking on this link will take you to a video where you can see the ancient technique of extracting tekhelet used to dye the tassels of the Jewish prayer shawls.

Simply put, Tekhelet is a specific shade of blue dye that represents a lighter shade of blue such as the sky. A much darker and richer shade of what we call blue today may very well have been described nearly 2,000 years ago by the Apostle John as purple.

Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog coined the term Hebrew “Porphyrology” (meaning the study of purple) when he published a doctoral dissertation on the subject of tekhelet. [3] It is the same word recorded in the Greek texts by the Apostle John when he describes the “purple” vesture of the harlot in Revelation 17:4 and Revelation 18:16. [1]

It is in no way dogmatic or certain, but it may be that the Apostle John saw Mystery Babylon as being wrapped in the American flag.

If you do a search for “coronation of the Emperor Charlemagne,” you will see the depictions of that event created from the same time period. The colors of the garments worn are usually referred to as “Tyrian Purple,” but the color resembles the blue that surrounds the stars in Old Glory to my eye. [4]

In 1858, William Gladstone, who later became the British prime minister, counted the color references in Homer’s “The Odyssey” and found blue wasn’t mentioned at all. [5] This led to a quest to find out why so few ancient languages had a word specifically reserved for the color blue.

Here is a link to a radio broadcast that explored this subject.

It is obvious that the color blue itself existed in the sky, etc., but a specific word or words for the color blue did not exist in many ancient languages, according to the research of Gladstone, Lazarus Geiger, and others.

Again, a much darker and richer shade of what we call blue today may very well have been described nearly 2,000 years ago by the Apostle John using the only word available at the time in the Greek language to refer to the color purple.

Yes, other countries do indeed have red and blue (scarlet and purple) in their flags, but no other country that does so accurately fits the description of “the great city” as does America.

Another very interesting observation on this subject is contained in Revelation 18:16:

“and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!”

Mystery Babylon may indeed already exist today, but it has not yet become “great,” so to speak, but the most intriguing part of the verse is the description of “fine linen.”

Here is the translation of Revelation 18:16 as contained in various versions of the Bible:

“saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls’” (New American Standard 1977).

“and saying, Woe, woe, the great city, that was arrayed with fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and gilded in gold, and precious stone, and pearls — because in one hour so much riches were made waste!’” (Young’s Literal Translation).

“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!’” (KJV)

“saying: ‘Woe, woe, the great city, having been clothed with fine linen and purple and scarlet, and having been adorned with gold and precious stone and pearl!’” (Berean Literal Bible)

It seems that John may have been describing three separate items or colors: “fine linen,” and “purple,” and “scarlet.” What “color” is the “fine linen” as described in this context? You need only to look in the next chapter of the Book of Revelation:

“And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses” (Revelation 19:14).

The “color” of the fine linen as worn by Mystery Babylon and as witnessed by John may also match the color of the “fine linen” worn by the armies of heaven also witnessed by John, and that color is obviously white. So now we have the colors of Old Glory: red, white, and blue.

If it’s possible that John actually described Mystery Babylon being wrapped in the colors of the American flag, then the rest of the description of Mystery Babylon doesn’t just match America here and there… It matches America near perfectly. After all, the Bible describes this end of days Babylon as a mystery.

Either way, the color of the garments of Mystery Babylon do represent great wealth and prosperity which America obviously still has when compared to the rest of the world, as does also the Vatican.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Personal note: I would very much prefer that the corrupt Mystery Babylon was not the country that I love—America—and indeed she may not be. However, I cannot rule out anything when it comes to the sovereign will of God.

The fact that the light of the gospel has shined upon so many souls through the engineering and hard work of many American Christians throughout the past few centuries is not lost on me. However, it may be that the faithful and brave Christian Americans of today and centuries past are a distinct group in the eyes of God, separate from the country out of which they came.

Disclaimer: Some of the views contained within the media links may be contrary to the Word of God. However, many relevant facts applicable to this article are contained therein.

[1] Porphura defined

[2] Each Country’s Share of CO2 Emissions

[3] Tekhelet 101

[4] Coronation of the Emperor Charlemagne

[5] Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age