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 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 Here καί (kai) has not been translated due to differences between Greek and English style.
6 tn The phrase “the following” after “write” is supplied to clarify that what follows is the content of what is to be written.
sn The expression This is the solemn pronouncement of reflects an OT idiom. See the note on this phrase in 2:1.
8 tn Or “the beginning of God’s creation”; or “the ruler of God’s creation.” From a linguistic standpoint all three meanings for ἀρχή (arch) are possible. The term is well attested in both LXX (Gen 40:13, 21; 41:13) and intertestamental Jewish literature (2 Macc 4:10, 50) as meaning “ruler, authority” (BDAG 138 s.v. 6). Some have connected this passage to Paul’s statements in Col 1:15, 18 which describe Christ as ἀρχή and πρωτότοκος (prwtotoko"; e.g., see R. H. Mounce, Revelation [NICNT], 124) but the term ἀρχή has been understood as either “beginning” or “ruler” in that passage as well. The most compelling connection is to be found in the prologue to John’s Gospel (1:2-4) where the λόγος (logos) is said to be “in the beginning (ἀρχή) with God,” a temporal reference connected with creation, and then v. 3 states that “all things were made through him.” The connection with the original creation suggests the meaning “originator” for ἀρχή here. BDAG 138 s.v. 3 gives the meaning “the first cause” for the word in Rev 3:14, a term that is too philosophical for the general reader, so the translation “originator” was used instead. BDAG also notes, “but the mng. beginning = ‘first created’ is linguistically probable (s. above 1b and Job 40:19; also CBurney, Christ as the ᾿Αρχή of Creation: JTS 27, 1926, 160-77).” Such a meaning is unlikely here, however, since the connections described above are much more probable.