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Revelation 15:3-4

Context
15:3 They 1  sang the song of Moses the servant 2  of God and the song of the Lamb: 3 

“Great and astounding are your deeds,

Lord God, the All-Powerful! 4 

Just 5  and true are your ways,

King over the nations! 6 

15:4 Who will not fear you, O Lord,

and glorify 7  your name, because you alone are holy? 8 

All nations 9  will come and worship before you

for your righteous acts 10  have been revealed.”

1 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.

2 tn See the note on the word “servants” in 1:1.

3 tn Grk “saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

4 tn On this word BDAG 755 s.v. παντοκράτωρ states, “the Almighty, All-Powerful, Omnipotent (One) only of God…() κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ π. …Rv 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 21:22.”

5 tn Or “righteous,” although the context favors justice as the theme.

6 tc Certain mss (Ì47 א*,2 C 1006 1611 1841 pc) read “ages” (αἰώνων, aiwnwn) instead of “nations” (ἐθνῶν, eqnwn), which itself is supported by several mss (א1 A 051 Ï). The ms evidence seems to be fairly balanced, though αἰώνων has somewhat better support. The replacement of “ages” with “nations” is possibly a scribal attempt to harmonize this verse with the use of “nations” in the following verse. On the other hand, the idea of “nations” fits well with v. 4 and it may be that “ages” is a scribal attempt to assimilate this text to 1 Tim 1:17: “the king of the ages” (βασιλεὺς τῶν αἰώνων, basileu" twn aiwnwn). The decision is a difficult one since both scenarios deal well with the evidence, though the verbal parallel with 1 Tim 1:17 is exact while the parallel with v. 4 is not. The term “king” occurs 17 other times (most occurrences refer to earthly kings) in Revelation and it is not used with either “ages” or “nations” apart from this verse. Probably the reading “nations” should be considered original due to the influence of 1 Tim 1:17.

7 tn Or “and praise.”

sn Jeremiah 10:7 probably stands behind the idea of fearing God, and Psalm 86:9-10 stands behind the ideas of glorifying God, his uniqueness, and the nations coming to worship him. Many other OT passages also speak about the nations “coming to his temple” to worship (Isa 2:2-3, 49:22-23, 66:23-24; Micah 4:2; Zech 8:20-22). See G. K. Beale, Revelation [NIGTC], 796-97.

8 sn Because you alone are holy. In the Greek text the sentence literally reads “because alone holy.” Three points can be made in connection with John’s language here: (1) Omitting the second person, singular verb “you are” lays stress on the attribute of God’s holiness. (2) The juxtaposition of alone with holy stresses the unique nature of God’s holiness and complete “otherness” in relationship to his creation. It is not just moral purity which is involved in the use of the term holy, though it certainly includes that. It is also the pervasive OT idea that although God is deeply involved in the governing of his creation, he is to be regarded as separate and distinct from it. (3) John’s use of the term holy is also intriguing since it is the term ὅσιος (Josios) and not the more common NT term ἅγιος (Jagios). The former term evokes images of Christ’s messianic status in early Christian preaching. Both Peter in Acts 2:27 and Paul in Acts 13:35 apply Psalm 16:10 (LXX) to Jesus, referring to him as the “holy one” (ὅσιος). It is also the key term in Acts 13:34 (Isa 55:3 [LXX]) where it refers to the “holy blessings” (i.e., forgiveness and justification) brought about through Jesus in fulfillment of Davidic promise. Thus, in Rev 15:3-4, when John refers to God as “holy,” using the term ὅσιος in a context where the emphasis is on both God and Christ, there might be an implicit connection between divinity and the Messiah. This is bolstered by the fact that the Lamb is referred to in other contexts as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (cf. 1:5; 17:14; 19:16 and perhaps 11:15; G. K. Beale, Revelation [NIGTC], 796-97).

9 tn Or “all the Gentiles” (the same Greek word may be translated “Gentiles” or “nations”).

10 tn Or perhaps, “your sentences of condemnation.” On δικαίωμα (dikaiwma) in this context BDAG 249 s.v. 2. states, “righteous deedδι᾿ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος (opp. παράπτωμα) Ro 5:18. – B 1:2 (cp. Wengst, Barnabas-brief 196, n.4); Rv 15:4 (here perh.= ‘sentence of condemnation’ [cp. Pla., Leg. 9, 864e; ins fr. Asia Minor: LBW 41, 2 [κατὰ] τὸ δι[καί]ωμα τὸ κυρω[θέν]= ‘acc. to the sentence which has become valid’]; difft. Wengst, s. above); 19:8.”



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