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Revelation 1:5-7

Context
1:5 and from Jesus Christ – the faithful 1  witness, 2  the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free 3  from our sins at the cost of 4  his own blood 1:6 and has appointed 5  us as a kingdom, 6  as priests 7  serving his God and Father – to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! 8  Amen.

1:7 (Look! He is returning with the clouds, 9 

and every eye will see him,

even 10  those who pierced him, 11 

and all the tribes 12  on the earth will mourn because 13  of him.

This will certainly come to pass! 14  Amen.) 15 

1 tn Or “Jesus Christ – the faithful one, the witness…” Some take ὁ πιστός (Jo pistos) as a second substantive in relation to ὁ μάρτυς (Jo martus). In the present translation, however, ὁ πιστός was taken as an adjective in attributive position to ὁ μάρτυς. The idea of martyrdom and faithfulness are intimately connected. See BDAG 820 s.v. πιστός 1.a.α: “ὁ μάρτυς μου ὁ πιστός μου Rv 2:13 (μάρτυς 3); in this ‘book of martyrs’ Christ is ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς (καὶ ὁ ἀληθινός) 1:5; 3:14; cp. 19:11 (the combination of ἀληθινός and πιστός in the last two passages is like 3 Macc 2:11). Cp. Rv 17:14.”

2 sn The Greek term translated witness can mean both “witness” and “martyr.”

3 tc The reading “set free” (λύσαντι, lusanti) has better ms support (Ì18 א A C 1611 2050 2329 2351 ÏA sy) than its rival, λούσαντι (lousanti, “washed”; found in P 1006 1841 1854 2053 2062 ÏK lat bo). Internally, it seems that the reading “washed” could have arisen in at least one of three ways: (1) as an error of hearing (both “released” and “washed” are pronounced similarly in Greek); (2) an error of sight (both “released” and “washed” look very similar – a difference of only one letter – which could have resulted in a simple error during the copying of a ms); (3) through scribal inability to appreciate that the Hebrew preposition ב can be used with a noun to indicate the price paid for something. Since the author of Revelation is influenced significantly by a Semitic form of Greek (e.g., 13:10), and since the Hebrew preposition “in” (ב) can indicate the price paid for something, and is often translated with the preposition “in” (ἐν, en) in the LXX, the author may have tried to communicate by the use of ἐν the idea of a price paid for something. That is, John was trying to say that Christ delivered us at the price of his own blood. This whole process, however, may have been lost on a later scribe, who being unfamiliar with Hebrew, found the expression “delivered in his blood” too difficult, and noticing the obvious similarities between λύσαντι and λούσαντι, assumed an error and then proceeded to change the text to “washed in his blood” – a thought more tolerable in his mind. Both readings, of course, are true to scripture; the current question is what the author wrote in this verse.

tn Or “and released us” (L&N 37.127).

4 tn The style here is somewhat Semitic, with the use of the ἐν (en) + the dative to mean “at the price of.” The addition of “own” in the English is stylistic and is an attempt to bring out the personal nature of the statement and the sacrificial aspect of Jesus’ death – a frequent refrain in the Apocalypse.

5 tn The verb ποιέω (poiew) can indicate appointment or assignment rather than simply “make” or “do.” See Mark 3:14 (L&N 37.106).

6 tn See BDAG 168 s.v. βασιλεία 1.a for the idea of “he made us a kingdom,” which was translated as “he appointed us (to be or function) as a kingdom” (see the note on the word “appointed” earlier in the verse).

7 tn Grk “a kingdom, priests.” The term ἱερεῖς (Jiereis) is either in apposition to βασιλείαν (basileian) or as a second complement to the object “us” (ἡμᾶς, Jhmas). The translation retains this ambiguity.

8 tc Both the longer reading τῶν αἰώνων (twn aiwnwn, “to the ages of the ages” or, more idiomatically, “for ever and ever”; found in א C Ï) and the shorter (“for ever”; found in Ì18 A P 2050 pc bo) have good ms support. The author uses the longer expression (εἰς [τοὺς] αἰῶνας [τῶν] αἰώνων, ei" [tou"] aiwna" [twn] aiwnwn) in every other instance of αἰών in Revelation, twelve passages in all (1:18; 4:9, 10; 5:13; 7:12; 10:6; 11:15; 14:11; 15:7; 19:3; 20:10; 22:5). Thus, on the one hand, the style of the author is consistent, while on the other hand, the scribes may have been familiar with such a stylistic feature, causing them to add the words here. The issues are more complex than can be presented here; the longer reading, however, is probably original (the shorter reading arising from accidental omission of the genitive phrase due to similarity with the preceding words).

9 sn An allusion to Dan 7:13.

10 tn Here καί (kai) was translated as ascensive.

11 sn An allusion to Zech 12:10.

12 tn In this context, tribes (φυλαί, fulai) could also be translated as “nations” or “peoples” (L&N 11.56).

13 tn The conjunction ἐπί (epi) is most likely causal here. The people who crucified him are those of every tribe on the earth and they will mourn because he comes as judge.

14 tn Grk “Yes, Amen.” The expression “This will certainly come to pass” is an attempt to capture the force of the juxtaposition of the Greek ναί (nai) and the Hebrew ἀμήν (amhn). See L&N 69.1.

15 sn These lines are placed in parentheses because they form an aside to the main argument.



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