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The Prologue

The revelation of Jesus Christ,[a] which God gave him to show his servants[b] what must happen very soon.[c] He made it clear[d] by sending his angel to his servant[e] John, who then[f] testified to everything that he saw concerning the word of God and the testimony about[g] Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this[h] prophecy aloud,[i] and blessed are[j] those who hear and obey[k] the things written in it, because the time is near![l]

From John,[m] to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia:[n] Grace and peace to you[o] from “he who is,”[p] and who was, and who is still to come,[q] and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ—the faithful[r] witness,[s] 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[t] from our sins at the cost of[u] his own blood and has appointed[v] us as a kingdom,[w] as priests[x] serving his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever![y] Amen.

(Look! He is returning with the clouds,[z]
and every eye will see him,
even[aa] those who pierced him,[ab]
and all the tribes[ac] on the earth will mourn because[ad] of him.
This will certainly come to pass![ae] Amen.)[af]

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”[ag] says the Lord God—the one who is, and who was, and who is still to come—the All-Powerful![ah]

I, John, your brother and the one who shares[ai] with you in the persecution, kingdom, and endurance that[aj] are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus.[ak] 10 I was in the Spirit[al] on the Lord’s Day[am] when[an] I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 saying: “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches—to Ephesus, Smyrna,[ao] Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

12 I[ap] turned to see whose voice was speaking to me,[aq] and when I did so,[ar] I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands was one like a son of man.[as] He was dressed in a robe extending down to his feet and he wore a wide golden belt[at] around his chest. 14 His[au] head and hair were as white as wool, even as white as snow,[av] and his eyes were like a fiery[aw] flame. 15 His feet were like polished bronze[ax] refined[ay] in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar[az] of many waters. 16 He held[ba] seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword extended out of his mouth. His[bb] face shone like the sun shining at full strength. 17 When[bc] I saw him I fell down at his feet as though I were dead, but[bd] he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, 18 and the one who lives! I[be] was dead, but look, now I am alive—forever and ever—and I hold the keys of death and of Hades![bf] 19 Therefore write what you saw, what is, and what will be after these things.[bg] 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands is this:[bh] The seven stars are the angels[bi] of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


  1. Revelation 1:1 tn The phrase ἀποκάλυψις ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (apokalupsis Iēsou Christou, “the revelation of Jesus Christ”) could be interpreted as either an objective genitive (“the revelation about Jesus Christ”), subjective genitive (“the revelation from Jesus Christ”), or both (M. Zerwick’s “general” genitive [Biblical Greek, §§36-39]; D. B. Wallace’s “plenary” genitive [ExSyn 119-21]). In 1:1 and 22:16 it is clear that Jesus has sent his angel to proclaim the message to John; thus the message is from Christ, and this would be a subjective genitive. On a broader scale, though, the revelation is about Christ, so this would be an objective genitive. One important point to note is that the phrase under consideration is best regarded as the title of the book and therefore refers to the whole of the work in all its aspects. This fact favors considering this as a plenary genitive.
  2. Revelation 1:1 tn Grk “slaves.” Although this translation frequently renders δοῦλος (doulos) as “slave,” the connotation is often of one who has sold himself into slavery; in a spiritual sense, the idea is that of becoming a slave of God or of Jesus Christ voluntarily. The voluntary notion is conspicuous here; hence, the translation “servants.” In any case, the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). A good translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.
  3. Revelation 1:1 tn BDAG 992-93 s.v. τάχος has “quickly, at once, without delay Ac 10:33 D; 12:7; 17:15 D; 22:18; 1 Cl 48:1; 63:4…soon, in a short time…Rv 1:1; 22:6…shortly Ac 25:4.”
  4. Revelation 1:1 tn Or “He indicated it clearly” (L&N 33.153).
  5. Revelation 1:1 tn See the note on the word “servants” earlier in this verse.
  6. Revelation 1:2 tn “Then” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied to make the chronological succession clear in the translation.
  7. Revelation 1:2 tn The genitive phrase “about Jesus Christ” is taken as an objective genitive.
  8. Revelation 1:3 tn The word “this” is used to translate the Greek article τῆς (tēs), bringing out its demonstrative force.
  9. Revelation 1:3 tn The word “aloud” has been supplied to indicate that in the original historical setting reading would usually refer to reading out loud in public rather than silently to oneself.
  10. Revelation 1:3 tn The words “blessed are” are repeated from the beginning of this verse for stylistic reasons and for clarity.
  11. Revelation 1:3 tn Grk “keep.” L&N 36.19 has “to continue to obey orders or commandments—‘to obey, to keep commandments, obedience.’”
  12. Revelation 1:3 sn The time refers to the time when the things prophesied would happen.
  13. Revelation 1:4 tn Grk “John.” The word “From” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.
  14. Revelation 1:4 tn Grk “Asia”; in the NT this always refers to the Roman province of Asia. The Roman province of Asia made up about one-third of modern Asia Minor and was on the western side of it. Asia lay to the west of the region of Phrygia and Galatia. The words “the province of” are supplied to indicate to the modern reader that this does not refer to the continent of Asia.
  15. Revelation 1:4 tn It is probable that the ὑμῖν (humin) applies to both elements of the greeting, i.e., to both grace and peace.
  16. Revelation 1:4 tc The earliest and best mss (P18vid א A C P 2050 al lat sy co) lack the term “God” (θεοῦ, theou) between “from” (ἀπό, apo) and “he who is” (ὁ ὤν, ho ōn). Its inclusion, as supported by the bulk of the Byzantine witnesses, is clearly secondary and a scribal attempt to achieve two things: (1) to make explicit the referent in the passage, namely, God, and (2) to smooth out the grammar. The preposition “from” in Greek required a noun in the genitive case. But here in Rev 1:4 the words following the preposition “from” (ἀπό) are in another case, i.e., the nominative. There are two principal ways in which to deal with this grammatical anomaly. First, it could be a mistake arising from someone who just did not know Greek very well, or as a Jew, was heavily influenced by a Semitic form of Greek. Both of these unintentional errors are unlikely here. Commenting on this ExSyn 63 argues: “Either of these is doubtful here because (1) such a flagrant misunderstanding of the rudiments of Greek would almost surely mean that the author could not compose in Greek, yet the Apocalypse itself argues against this; (2) nowhere else does the Seer [i.e., John] use a nom. immediately after a preposition (in fact, he uses ἀπό 32 times with the gen. immediately following).” The passage appears to be an allusion to Exod 3:14 (in the LXX) where God refers to himself as “he who is” (ὁ ὤν), the same wording in Greek as here in Rev 1:4. Thus, it appears that John is wanting to leave the divine name untouched (perhaps to allude to God’s immutability, or as a pointer to the Old Testament as the key to unlocking the meaning of this book), irrespective of what it “looks” like grammatically. The translation has placed the “he who is” in quotation marks to indicate to the reader that the syntactical awkwardness is intentional. (For further comments, see ExSyn 63).
  17. Revelation 1:4 tn BDAG 106 s.v. ἀπό 5.d states: “The expr. εἰρήνη ἀπὸὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος’ Rv 1:4 is quite extraordinary. It may be an interpretation of the name Yahweh already current, or an attempt to show reverence for the divine name by preserving it unchanged, or simply one more of the grammatical peculiarities so frequent in Rv.”
  18. Revelation 1:5 tn Or “Jesus Christ—the faithful one, the witness…” Some take ὁ πιστός (ho pistos) as a second substantive in relation to ὁ μάρτυς (ho 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.”
  19. Revelation 1:5 sn The Greek term translated witness can mean both “witness” and “martyr.”
  20. Revelation 1:5 tc The reading “set free” (λύσαντι, lusanti) has better ms support (P18 א A C 1611 2050 2329 2351 MA sy) than its rival, λούσαντι (lousanti, “washed”; found in P 1006 1841 1854 2053 2062 MK 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 Or “and released us” (L&N 37.127).
  21. Revelation 1:5 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.
  22. Revelation 1:6 tn The verb ποιέω (poieō) can indicate appointment or assignment rather than simply “make” or “do.” See Mark 3:14 (L&N 37.106).
  23. Revelation 1:6 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).
  24. Revelation 1:6 tn Grk “a kingdom, priests.” The term ἱερεῖς (hiereis) is either in apposition to βασιλείαν (basileian) or as a second complement to the object “us” (ἡμᾶς, hēmas). The translation retains this ambiguity.
  25. Revelation 1:6 tc Both the longer reading τῶν αἰώνων (tōn aiōnōn, “to the ages of the ages” or, more idiomatically, “for ever and ever”; found in א C M) and the shorter (“for ever”; found in P18 A P 2050 bo) have good ms support. The author uses the longer expression (εἰς [τοὺς] αἰῶνας [τῶν] αἰώνων, eis [tous] aiōnas [tōn] aiōnōn) 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 authentic (the shorter reading arising from accidental omission of the genitive phrase due to similarity with the preceding words).
  26. Revelation 1:7 sn An allusion to Dan 7:13.
  27. Revelation 1:7 tn Here καί (kai) was translated as ascensive.
  28. Revelation 1:7 sn An allusion to Zech 12:10.
  29. Revelation 1:7 tn In this context, tribes (φυλαί, phulai) could also be translated as “nations” or “peoples” (L&N 11.56).
  30. Revelation 1:7 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.
  31. Revelation 1:7 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 (amēn). See L&N 69.1.
  32. Revelation 1:7 sn These lines are placed in parentheses because they form an aside to the main argument.
  33. Revelation 1:8 tc The shorter reading “Omega” (, ō) has superior ms evidence (א1 A C 1611) to the longer reading which includes “the beginning and the end” (ἀρχὴ καὶ τέλος or ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος, archē kai telos or hē archē kai to telos), found in א*,2 1854 2050 2329 2351 MA lat bo. There is little reason why a scribe would have deleted the words, but their clarifying value and the fact that they harmonize with 21:6 indicate that they are a secondary addition to the text.
  34. Revelation 1:8 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.”
  35. Revelation 1:9 tn The translation attempts to bring out the verbal idea in συγκοινωνός (sunkoinōnos, “co-sharer”); John was suffering for his faith at the time he wrote this.
  36. Revelation 1:9 tn The prepositional phrase ἐν ᾿Ιησοῦ (en Iēsou) could be taken with ὑπομονῇ (hupomonē) as the translation does or with the more distant συγκοινωνός (sunkoinōnos), in which case the translation would read “your brother and the one who shares with you in Jesus in the persecution, kingdom, and endurance.”
  37. Revelation 1:9 tn The phrase “about Jesus” has been translated as an objective genitive.
  38. Revelation 1:10 tn Or “in the spirit.” “Spirit” could refer either to the Holy Spirit or the human spirit, but in either case John was in “a state of spiritual exaltation best described as a trance” (R. H. Mounce, Revelation [NICNT], 75).
  39. Revelation 1:10 tn Concerning the phrase κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ (kuriakē hēmera) BDAG 576 s.v. κυριακός states: “pert. to belonging to the Lord, the Lord’sκ. ἡμέρᾳ the Lord’s day (Kephal. I 192, 1; 193, 31…) i.e. certainly Sunday (so in Mod. Gk….) Rv 1:10 (WStott, NTS 12, ’65, 70-75).”
  40. Revelation 1:10 tn The conjunction καί (kai) is not introducing a coordinate thought, but one that is logically subordinate to the main verb ἐγενόμην (egenomēn).
  41. Revelation 1:11 tn Grk “and to Smyrna.” For stylistic reasons the conjunction καί (kai) and the preposition εἰς (eis) have not been translated before the remaining elements of the list. In lists with more than two elements contemporary English generally does not repeat the conjunction except between the next to last and last elements.
  42. Revelation 1:12 tn Throughout the translation John’s use of καί (kai) often reflects the varied usage of the Hebrew conjunction ו (vav). A clause which καί introduces has been translated in terms of its semantic relationship to the clause that preceded it. If the καί seemed redundant, however, it was left untranslated; that is the case in this verse.
  43. Revelation 1:12 tn Grk “with me.” The translation “with me” implies that John was engaged in a dialogue with the one speaking to him (e.g., Jesus or an angel) when in reality it was a one-sided conversation, with John doing all the listening. For this reason, μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ (metemou, “with me”) was translated as “to me.”
  44. Revelation 1:12 tn Grk “and turning I saw.” The repetition of ἐπιστρέφω (epistrephō) is somewhat redundant in contemporary English and has been translated generally.
  45. Revelation 1:13 tn This phrase constitutes an allusion to Dan 7:13. Concerning υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (huios tou anthrōpou), BDAG 1026 s.v. υἱός 2.d.γ says: “ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου lit. ‘the son of the man’…‘the human being, the human one, the man’…On Israelite thought contemporary w. Jesus and alleged knowledge of a heavenly being looked upon as a ‘Son of Man’ or ‘Man’, who exercises Messianic functions such as judging the world (metaph., pictorial passages in En 46-48; 4 Esdr 13:3, 51f)…Outside the gospels: Ac 7:56…Rv 1:13; 14:14 (both after Da 7:13…).” The term “son” here in this expression is anarthrous and as such lacks specificity. Some commentators and translations take the expression as an allusion to Daniel 7:13 and not to “the son of man” found in gospel traditions (e.g., Mark 8:31; 9:12; cf. D. E. Aune, Revelation [WBC], 2:800-801; cf. also NIV). Other commentators and versions, however, take the phrase “son of man” as definite, involving allusions to Dan 7:13 and “the son of man” gospel traditions (see G. K. Beale, Revelation [NIGTC], 771-72; NRSV).
  46. Revelation 1:13 tn Or “a wide golden sash,” but this would not be diagonal, as some modern sashes are, but horizontal. The Greek term can refer to a wide band of cloth or leather worn on the outside of one’s clothing (L&N 6.178).
  47. Revelation 1:14 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  48. Revelation 1:14 tn The clause, “even as white as snow” seems to heighten the preceding clause and is so understood in this ascensive sense (“even”) in the translation.
  49. Revelation 1:14 tn The genitive noun πυρός (puros) has been translated as an attributive genitive.
  50. Revelation 1:15 tn The precise meaning of the term translated “polished bronze” (χαλκολιβάνῳ, chalkolibanō), which appears nowhere else in Greek literature outside of the book of Revelation (see 2:18), is uncertain. Without question it is some sort of metal. BDAG 1076 s.v. χαλκολίβανον suggests “fine brass/bronze.” L&N 2.57 takes the word to refer to particularly valuable or fine bronze, but notes that the emphasis here and in Rev 2:18 is more on the lustrous quality of the metal.
  51. Revelation 1:15 tn Or “that has been heated in a furnace until it glows.”
  52. Revelation 1:15 tn Grk “sound,” but the idea is closer to the roar of a waterfall or rapids.
  53. Revelation 1:16 tn Grk “and having.” In the Greek text this is a continuation of the previous sentence, but because contemporary English style employs much shorter sentences, a new sentence was started here in the translation by supplying the pronoun “he.”
  54. Revelation 1:16 tn This is a continuation of the previous sentence in the Greek text, but a new sentence was started here in the translation.
  55. Revelation 1:17 tn Grk “And when.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.
  56. Revelation 1:17 tn Here the Greek conjunction καί (kai) has been translated as a contrastive (“but”) due to the contrast between the two clauses.
  57. Revelation 1:18 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  58. Revelation 1:18 tn Concerning “Hades” BDAG 19 s.v. ᾅδης 1 and 2 states: “Orig. proper noun, god of the nether world, ‘Hades’, then the nether world, Hades as place of the dead, Ac 2:27, 31 (Ps 16:10; Eccl 9:10; PGM 1, 179; 16, 8; Philo, Mos. 1, 195; Jos., Bell. 1, 596, Ant. 6, 332). Of Jonah’s fish ἐκ τοῦ κατωτάτου ᾅδου. In the depths, contrasted w. heaven ἕως (τοῦ) ᾅδου Mt 11:23; Lk 10:15 (PsSol 15:10; cf.; Is 14:11, 15); ἐν τῷ ᾅδῃ 16:23; ἐν ῝Αιδου ApcPt Rainer. Accessible by gates (but the pl. is also used [e.g. Hom., X., Ael. Aristid. 47, 20 K.=23 p. 450 D.] when only one gate is meant), hence πύλαι ᾅδου (Il. 5, 646; Is 38:10; Wsd 16:13; 3 Macc 5:51; Pss. Sol. 16:2.—Lucian, Menipp. 6 the magicians can open τοῦ ῝Αιδου τὰς πύλας and conduct people in and out safely) Mt 16:18…locked ἔχω τὰς κλεῖς τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου Rv 1:18 (the genitives are either obj. [Ps.-Apollod. 3, 12, 6, 10 Aeacus, the son of Zeus holds the κλεῖς τοῦ ῝Αιδου; SEG VIII, 574, 3 (III ad) τῷ τὰς κλεῖδας ἔχοντι τῶν καθ᾿ ῝Αιδου (restored)] or possess.; in the latter case death and Hades are personif.; s. 2)…Hades personif.…w. θάνατος (cf. Is 28:15; Job 38:17…) Rv 6:8; 20:13f.” sn In the OT, Hades was known as Sheol. It is the place where the unrighteous will reside (Matt 11:23; Luke 16:23; Rev 20:13-14).
  59. Revelation 1:19 tn Grk “Therefore write the things that you saw, and the things that are, and the things that will take place after these things.” Verse 19 could also be translated (taking καίκαί [kaikai] as “both…and”): “Therefore write what you have seen, both what things currently are and what is going to happen after these things.” The structure of this verse is debated.
  60. Revelation 1:20 tn The words “is this” are supplied to make a complete sentence in English.
  61. Revelation 1:20 tn Or perhaps “the messengers.”