16 saying: Woe, woe, the great city, dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls,
The meaning of the Greek word for “woe” is an expression of grief. By the city being destroyed recession will be unavoidable.
17 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
The word “hour” refers to a short period of time. Its destruction happened very quickly.
18 as they watched the smoke from her burning and kept crying out: “Who is like the great city?”
The merchants were in dismayed and in unbelief that such a great prosperous city can be wiped out.
19 They threw dust on their heads and kept crying out, weeping, and mourning: Woe, woe, the great city, where all those who have ships on the sea became rich from her wealth, for in a single hour she was destroyed.
It seems that most of their business was conducted with Babylon/the great city because they knew that all their wealth was in that city and it was destroyed along with it.
20 Rejoice over her, heaven, and you saints, apostles, and prophets, because God has executed your judgment on her!
There is a different scene in heaven. A proclamation was pronounced to rejoice over the city’s destruction. Apparently, the religious leaders in that city persecuted Christians for holding on to the Word of God.
The phrase “you saints, apostles, and prophets” refers to those who are already in heaven who were killed by the false church as the rejoicing happens in heaven.