A Critical Translation of the Greek Text of Revelation 21

You can download and read the PDF version of this article here: A Translation of the Greek Text of Revelation 21

My translation is given in bold first, followed by the Greek text then followed by parsing and grammar notes. For this text I’ve chosen to colour code the verbal aspects (only available in PDF version) to see if there is any discernable pattern in the text. Also, imperative and subjective moods will be highlighted (see parsing key in PDF). Other textual and lexical notes will be included and footnoted, as well as comments and observations. The final smoothed translation will be included at the end.

21:9 Then one of the seven angels came, [the one] having the seven bowls, the ones full of the seven last plagues, and he spoke to me saying, “Come here! I will show to you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Καὶ ἦλθεν εἷς ἐκ τῶν ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλων τῶν ἐχόντων τὰς ἑπτὰ φιάλας, τῶν γεμόντων[2] τῶν ἑπτὰ πληγῶν τῶν ἐσχάτων, καὶ ἐλάλησεν μετʼ ἐμοῦ λέγων· Δεῦρο, δείξω σοι τὴν νύμφην τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀρνίου.

ἦλθεν (AoAInd-3S), ἐχόντων (PrAPart-MGP), γεμόντων (PrAPart-FGP), ἐλάλησεν (AoAInd-3S), Λέγων (PrAPart-MNS), δείξω (FuAInd-1S)

The participle τῶν ἐχόντων is used substantively with the article here, thus I have supplied “the one having” in the stiff translation. Similar use is employed with τῶν γεμόντων—“the ones full.” The use of various verbal aspects is interesting throughout this passage, there is definitely some vibrancy given to certain actions/events using imperfect, future, and perfect aspects in the narrative above and over others which are simply stated using the aorist. Here the use of the future above the aorist verbs and present participles stands out as drawing some attention to what the angel will show John—the Bride—which is the main focus of this text.

Two significant manuscripts (2053 and 2062) have only “the wife of the Lamb” instead of the full phrase τὴν νύμφην τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀρνίου (“the bride, the wife of the Lamb”). This may have been from a copyist’s eye accidentally jumping from the first τήν to the second, or “the bride” may have been considered redundant in the light of 21:2, where only one title is given to the Lamb’s spouse.[3] The better reading though is with both titles. Palmer comments that, it is “significant that both the words wife and bride are used. Israel has been called the wife, and the church the bride, and here in the New Jerusalem we see both of them built into one.”[4] This seems to dispel some arguments that Israel and the Church remain separate entities with different plans of salvation (as in some forms of premillennial dispensationalism)—as indeed, God’s people now include both Jews and gentiles.

10 And he carried me away in the spirit upon a great and high mountain, and he showed to me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,

καὶ ἀπήνεγκέν με ἐν πνεύματι ἐπὶ ὄρος μέγα καὶ ὑψηλόν, καὶ ἔδειξέν μοι τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἁγίαν Ἰερουσαλὴμ καταβαίνουσαν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ,

 ἀπήνεγκέν (AoAInd-3S), ἔδειξέν (AoAInd-3S), καταβαίνουσαν (PrAPart-FAS)

The phrase ἐν πνεύματι can mean either “in the spirit” or “by means of the spirit.” If the phrase is considered as instrumental, then the Spirit is the means of transport to the mountain. However, if it locative, then John is saying that only his spirit was transported to the mountain.[5] Given the visionary nature of this book, I favour the second interpretation as this is another vision which John is shown “in the spirit” denoting spiritual realities.

Some variant minuscules add “great” as an adjective for “the city,” which was added due to the repeated occurance of ἡ πόλις ἡ μεγάλη throughout the book.[6] The use of the present in the participle καταβαίνουσαν brings focus onto the city in comparison to the simple aorists. John is opening up a situation—the decent of the holy city—to further elaboration. This is the start of a description of the city which will primarily use present participles to vibrantly describe the city John beholds. 

11 having the glory of God, her radiance was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone shining like crystal,

ἔχουσαν τὴν δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ·[7] ὁ φωστὴρ αὐτῆς ὅμοιος λίθῳ τιμιωτάτῳ, ὡς λίθῳ ἰάσπιδι κρυσταλλίζοντι·

 ἔχουσαν (PrAPart-FAS), κρυσταλλίζοντι (PrAPart-MDS)

According to Robertson, τιμιώτατος is probably elative.[8] It is an example of the -τατος superlative.[9] Thus I’ve rendered it “most precious.” There is an Armenian version which has “having the mountain of peace, the glory,” instead of “having the glory of God.” Beale comments that this “interprets God’s glory as bringing the final peace of the end-time Jerusalem on the new Mount Zion (so arm 4; see on 14:1). This emphasises the theme of peace and security for God’s people woven throughout 21:1–22:5.”[10] There are variants which omit the phrase ὡς λίθῳ (“as a stone”) before “jasper.” Beale suggests that this was an intentional omission by later scribes because they thought it was an error of dittography based on the preceding ὅμοιος λίθῳ.[11] He also comments that “the Sahidic interprets ‘like a precious stone’ as ‘ike a precious stone of truth,’ emphasising the revelatory nature of the stone’s illuminating power.”[12] Louw-Nida define κρυσταλλίζω as “to shine in the same way that crystal shines—‘to shine like crystal, to shine brightly.’”[13] Some translations (e.g., RSV, NASB, KJV) translate it as saying the jasper was “clear as crystal” or “crystal-clear.” However, this is misleading, since the point is to portray stones that enhance luminosity. So I have translated it as “shining like crystal.”[14] We see also a continuation of the use of present participles in the description of the Bride/Holy City.

12—13 having a great and high wall, [and] having twelve gates, and upon [each of][15] the gates twelve angels, and names having been written [on them] which are the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel, from the east three gates, and from the north three gates, and from the south three gates, and from the west three gates,

ἔχουσα τεῖχος μέγα καὶ ὑψηλόν, ἔχουσα πυλῶνας δώδεκα, καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς πυλῶσιν ἀγγέλους δώδεκα, καὶ ὀνόματα ἐπιγεγραμμένα ἅ ἐστιν τῶν δώδεκα φυλῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ· ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς πυλῶνες τρεῖς, καὶ ἀπὸ βορρᾶ πυλῶνες τρεῖς, καὶ ἀπὸ νότου πυλῶνες τρεῖς, καὶ ἀπὸ δυσμῶν πυλῶνες τρεῖς·

 ἔχουσα (PrAPart-FNS), ἐστιν (PrAInd-3S), ἐπιγεγραμμένα (PfPassPart-NAP)

The introductory participles ἔχουσα are part of a string of four adjectival participles beginning in verse 10 which describe the holy city as coming down, having the glory of God, having a great and high wall, and having twelve gates.[16] Robertson cites ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς (along with the other cardinal directions) as a prepositional phrase—a phrase which was considered definite enough without the article.[17] There is a shift in case of the participles from accusative to nominative as the focus changes from Jerusalem as the direct object to the subject being described. Note the not untypical case shift in the participles from accusative to nominative as the initial visionary focus changes from Jerusalem as the object seen to the subject described. The gender, however, has not changed from feminine (corresponding to Ἰερουσαλήμ [“Jerusalem”]) to neuter (corresponding to τεῖχος [“wall”]), though the last of the series of participles (in v 14) is masculine. There the focus is so much on “the wall” as a feature of the city that the participle functions virtually as a finite verb. Porter suggests that the participles in vv 12 and 14 serve in place of indicative verbs.[18]

Patterson comments that it is more probable that it represents an angel sentry at each gate.[19] There are many similarities between the imagery here and that found in Ezekiel. It seems that the many gates of the temple in Ezekiel 40 and the twelve gates of the city in Ezekiel 48:31-34 are combined into one group of twelve gates around the city-temple in John’s vision. The angel stationed at each gate is not found in Ezekiel. The angels are comparable to the angels of the church and the twenty-four elders which represent God’s people—true Israel. Mounce and Sweet suggest that the angels at the gates reflect Isaiah 62:6: “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen,” which is plausible since the Septuagint version of the passage applies the description to the end-time Jerusalem. It also refers to the watchmen as “guards” who testify that God has established Jerusalem so that it is never to be endangered by strangers again. Furthermore, later Jewish tradition in Midr. Rab. Exodus 18:5 and Pesikta Rabbati 35.2 identifies the watchmen as angels.[20]

Similar to Ezekiel’s city in chapter 48, there are four groups of three gates according to the cardinal directions. However, Ezekiel’s list starts with north then east, but in Revelation John starts with east then north according to Ezekiel 42:15-19. “Each of both Ezekiel’s and John’s gates has the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel written on it.”[21] There are a bunch of other variants in the manuscripts with various orderings of the cardinal directions which are not particularly substantial nor do they affect the reading of the text. I believe the NA28 reading is best and bears the strongest attestation.[22] Some early manuscripts have “the gates which are of the twelve tribes,” and others have “the gates which are the names of the twelve tribes.” The former associates the gates explicitly with the twelve tribes and the latter clarify that the names of the twelve tribes are the names on the gates.[23] Some manuscripts omit ‘names.’ Elsewhere, John has been known to omit ὀνόματα when referring to people being written in the Book of Life, for example. So, the shorter reading may indeed be original.[24] However, this variant reading is not significant for translation since the difference would be primarily of style and not of meaning. It could have been that scribes thought the words τὰ ὀνόματα unnecessary in the context, and therefore omitted them or that they were added for clarity.[25] I’ve decided to leave it in my translation though as it is helpful for clarity. Some manuscripts omit καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς πυλῶσιν ἀγγέλους δώδεκα probably due to haplography when a scribe’s eye skipped from the first δώδεκα καί to the second δώδεκα καί.[26]

14 and the wall of the city having twelve foundations, and upon them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

καὶ τὸ τεῖχος τῆς πόλεως ἔχων[27] θεμελίους δώδεκα, καὶ ἐπʼ αὐτῶν δώδεκα ὀνόματα τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῦ ἀρνίου.

ἔχων (PrAPart-MNS)

There is nothing much of interest grammatically here. Beale comments, “The number twenty-four, the sum of twelve tribes and twelve apostles, has occurred already in 4:4. The connection between 4:3–4 and 21:11–14 is confirmed by the presence in both of the divine glory radiating “like a jasper stone” and surrounded by twenty-four personages.”[28] The number “twenty-four” has the idea of the completeness (2 × 12) of representation of God’s people before God’s presence in the temple.[29] In Revelation 3:12, Christ had promised to the one who overcomes—whether Jew or gentile—that they will become “a pillar in the temple of my God … and I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which descends from heaven from God, and my new name.” Here, in chapter 21, the concept of the city and temple are collapsed into the one concept of the presence of Christ and God with His people.[30]

15 And the one speaking with me was holding a golden measuring rod so that he might measure the city and its gates and its wall.

Καὶ ὁ λαλῶν μετʼ ἐμοῦ εἶχεν μέτρον κάλαμον χρυσοῦν, ἵνα μετρήσῃ τὴν πόλιν καὶ τοὺς πυλῶνας αὐτῆς καὶ τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς.

 λαλῶν (PrAPart-MNS),  εἶχεν (ImpAInd-3S), μετρήσῃ (AoASub-3S)

Some manuscripts omit the last words of this verse (καὶ τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς) due to haplography when the scribe’s eye skipped.[31] The participle λαλῶν used with the article is substantive and functions as the the subject of  εἶχεν. The subjunctive μετρήσῃ following ἵνα is normal and is part of the purpose clause explaining why the angel was holding the measuring rod. Here is another allusion to Ezekiel 40:3–5 with the image of an angelic figure measuring parts of the city-temple with a measuring rod. It is a continuation of the influence from Ezekiel 40–48 which began in Rev. 21:10. Beale comments that,

“Throughout Ezekiel 40–48 the certain establishment and subsequent protection of the temple is pictured by an angel measuring various features of the temple complex. The LXX version has the verb ‘measure’ (διαμετρέω) and the noun “measure (ment)” (μέτρον) about thirty times each. In Rev. 21:15–17 an angel also, in dependence on the Ezekiel text, ‘measures with a reed’ (μετρέω + κάλαμος, as in Rev. 11:1).”[32]

16 And the city lies foursquare, and its length [is] as much as its width, and he measured the city with the measuring rod at twelve thousand stadia, its length and width and height are equal.

καὶ ἡ πόλις τετράγωνος κεῖται, καὶ τὸ μῆκος αὐτῆς ὅσον τὸ πλάτος. καὶ ἐμέτρησεν τὴν πόλιν τῷ καλάμῳ ἐπὶ σταδίους δώδεκα χιλιάδων· τὸ μῆκος καὶ τὸ πλάτος καὶ τὸ ὕψος αὐτῆς ἴσα ἐστίν.

κεῖται (PrM/PInd-3S), ἐμέτρησεν (AoAInd-3S), ἐστίν (PrAInd-3S)

Robertson notes that μῆκος καὶ τὸ πλάτος καὶ τὸ ὕψος αὐτῆς ἴσα ἐστίν is a Pindaric Construction, where several subjects are united and the following predicate of the compound subjet is normally put in the plural, however, in this construction it puts the verb in the singular instead.[33] Some manuscripts omit καὶ τὸ ὕψος which may be due to a copyist’s confusing it with the preceding καὶ τὸ πλάτος, or it could be an intentional effort to conform the phrases with the twofold phrase “the length of it as much as even the width” at the beginning of the verse.[34]

Louw-Nida define the verb κεῖμαι as “to be in a place, frequently in the sense of ‘being contained in’ or ‘resting on’—‘to be, to lie.’”[35] So ἡ πόλις τετράγωνος κεῖται may be taken to mean that the city rests on or is contained within a square area. The imagery however is figurative, especially considering the fact that, if it were taken literally, it would be 5,454.4 miles, if we assume 200 yards as one Greek stadion. Interestingly, the city’s size is also approximately the size of the then known Hellenistic world.92 “This suggests further that the temple-city represents not merely the glorified saints of Israel but the redeemed from all nations, who are considered to be true, spiritual Israelites.”[36] We see the problem of an overly literalistic interpretation in Patterson’s commentary from a more literal viewpoint. He says,

“A stadion, according to Rienecker and Rogers, is about 607 English feet and this would make the city at 12,000 furlongs to be 1,400 miles cubed. Now the necessity for the tall mountain is apparent. Even with the highest of peaks, a view covering 1,400 miles has to be one viewed with aid from ‘the Spirit.’”[37]

However, this is about the distance of San Diego to Kansas city—a truly massive measurement if one were to try to fathom it literally. And just how high does this mountain have to be to view this? Also further accentuating the problem of an overly literal interpretation is a preoccupation with minerology and all the various problems that come with trying to too accurately identify the exact stones which John may have referenced and worrying about their Mohs scale. Or the problem of trying to imagine the massive clams necessary to produce gate-sized pearls.[38] This seems to miss the point of the passage to me.

17 And he measured its wall 144 cubits [tall], a human measurement, which is an angel’s.

καὶ ἐμέτρησεν τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς ἑκατὸν τεσσεράκοντα τεσσάρων πηχῶν, μέτρον ἀνθρώπου, ὅ ἐστιν ἀγγέλου.

ἐμέτρησεν (AoAInd-3S)

The TEV takes 144 cubits to be the height of the wall (also NJB, REB, BRCL). However the NIV takes it as referring to the thickness. Compared to the height of the city (1,500 miles tall), a wall so small (216 feet) seems foolish to some commentators and may be the reason for the NIV translators rendition. However, the wall is not for protection as has been pointed out in the passage, but rather for its demarcation.[39] The wall’s height is more likely in mind since, in the OT a wall’s height is often mentioned by itself, however the thickness is never noted by itself but typically in conjunction with the height.[40] Beale comments,

“Its 144 cubits echoes 7:4–9 and 14:1, 3, where the 144,000 are not a remnant of ethnic Jews at the very end of the age but represent the totality of God’s people throughout the ages, who are viewed as true Israelites. The wall and its dimensions here represent the same reality, since 21:12–14 have equated the essential parts of the “great and high wall” with the representatives of the entire people of God.”[41]

Due to the figurative nature and intention of the original numbers, I have left it in cubits and not converted it to contemporary measurements.[42]

18—20 And the material of its wall [is] jasper, and the city pure gold like pure glass, the foundations of the wall of the city having been made beautiful with every kind of precious stone, the first foundation [was made of] jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardis, the seventh chrysolite (peridot), the eigth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase (chalcedony), the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst,

καὶ ἡ ἐνδώμησις τοῦ τείχους αὐτῆς ἴασπις, καὶ ἡ πόλις χρυσίον καθαρὸν ὅμοιον ὑάλῳ καθαρῷ· οἱ θεμέλιοι τοῦ τείχους τῆς πόλεως παντὶ λίθῳ τιμίῳ κεκοσμημένοι· ὁ θεμέλιος ὁ πρῶτος ἴασπις, ὁ δεύτερος σάπφιρος, ὁ τρίτος χαλκηδών, ὁ τέταρτος σμάραγδος, ὁ πέμπτος σαρδόνυξ, ὁ ἕκτος σάρδιον, ὁ ἕβδομος χρυσόλιθος, ὁ ὄγδοος βήρυλλος, ὁ ἔνατος τοπάζιον, ὁ δέκατος χρυσόπρασος, ὁ ἑνδέκατος ὑάκινθος, ὁ δωδέκατος ἀμέθυστος·

κεκοσμημένοι (PfPassPart-MNP)

The phrase ἡ ἐνδώμησις τοῦ τείχους αὐτῆς ἴασπις is a non-verbal clause so I have supplied a verb (is). The Greek verb κοσμέω translated adorned is also used of the Bride in verse 2.[43] The UBS Handbook comments that, “it is not certain whether the Greek text means ‘the first foundation stone was adorned with jasper’ or ‘the first foundation stone was made of jasper.’ The majority of commentaries and translations take the Greek to mean that the first foundation stone was a jasper, that is, that each foundation stone was a single huge precious stone.”[44] It could be considered that the perfect participle κεκοσμημένοι carries on into the various clauses—“the first adorned with jasper,” etc. However, the latter view of the foundations as equated with the precious stones would fit nicely with the parallel in v 21 (“each of the gates was a single pearl”) and 1 Kgs. 7:10, which describes the actual temple foundations as composed of “precious stones.” Verses 18 and v 21 also favour this, as it mentions four other parts of the city structure as each composed of a precious stone. “This understanding of the foundation stones as gems would heighten even more the identification of the tribes of Israel with the apostolic representatives.”[45] So, I have chosen to translate κεκοσμημένοι as “made beautiful” instead of “adorned” and clarified the first clause by including “was made of” in brackets.

The twelve precious stones listed as adorning the wall are based on the list in Exod. 28:17–20 and 39:8–14 corresponding to the twelve stones on the high priest’s “breastpiece of judgment.” “Eight of the stones in Exodus are repeated here in Rev. 21:19–20, and the differently named stones in Revelation are semantic equivalents of the ones in Exodus.”[46] Chrysolite is called peridot today. It is a transparent yellowish-green silicate of magnesium. “The biblical gem was probably a gold-colored stone; so TEV ‘yellow quartz,’ and NJB ‘gold quartz.’”[47] Chrysoprase is an apple-green chalcedony, but there is uncertainty about the meaning of the Greek term since it is a transliteration of the Greek.[48]

The final stone—amethyst is trivially interesting in its origin. It is only a seven on the Mohs scale of hardness but it is the most valued of all the stones in the quartz group, and it is transparent to translucent blue-violet. The Greek word μέθυστος means “drunken.” The alpha privative added to the front of the word brings negation, so it means “not drunken” and it was a favorite stone worn by those wanting to ward off the ill-effects of a hangover.[49] However, I don’t think this has much to bear on the translation and was just an interesting fact.

21 and the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls, each one of the gates was from a single pearl, and the streets of the city pure gold as transparent glass.

καὶ οἱ δώδεκα πυλῶνες δώδεκα μαργαρῖται, ἀνὰ εἷς ἕκαστος τῶν πυλώνων ἦν ἐξ ἑνὸς μαργαρίτου· καὶ ἡ πλατεῖα τῆς πόλεως χρυσίον καθαρὸν ὡς ὕαλος διαυγής.

 Robertson notes the distributive use of εἷς here in ἀνὰ εἷς ἕκαστος, thus rendered “each one.”[50] Beale comments,

 “’The street of the city’ occurs elsewhere only in 11:8 (τῆς πλατείας τῆς πόλεως), which speaks thereby of the place where the bodies of the ‘witnesses’ lay while the ungodly world looked on in contempt. The phrase is repeated here to underscore that ‘the street of their former shame has now been replaced by the street of their eternal glory.’ The witnesses’ perseverance has been rewarded with an overturning of the world’s verdict and a declaration of their vindication. ‘Pure gold as transparent glass’ probably highlights further that the apparently inglorious path they trod in the old city has been transformed into a glorious one in the new city.”[51]

22 And I saw in it no temple, for the Lord God Almighty is its temple and the Lamb.

Καὶ ναὸν οὐκ εἶδον ἐν αὐτῇ, ὁ γὰρ κύριος, ὁ θεός, ὁ παντοκράτωρ, ναὸς αὐτῆς ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ ἀρνίον.

εἶδον (AoAInd-1S), ἐστιν (PrAInd-3S)

The word order at the start of the verse is interesting—literally, “and temple not I saw in it.” For John, a good Jew, he would have looked for the temple in the city—so it is significant that there is none to be seen. Perhaps the word order here reflect that emphasis. This could perhaps be translated “no place for worship” or “no building (or, house) in which to worship God” in a more modern translation.[52] The OT prophesied that along with the renewal of Jerusalem, a temple would be rebuilt. But John sees no physical temple. The conjunction γάρ introduces the reason why—it was because “the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb are its temple.” Ezekiel’s prophecy of the temple (chs. 40–43) is now summarized and interpreted by this brief phrase affirming that God and the Lamb are the temple.[53] The phrase καὶ τὸ ἀρνίον tagged onto the end is a bit strange to me. However, it seems to be meant to be paired together with κύριος, ὁ θεός, ὁ παντοκράτωρ as the subject as denoted by its nominative case. So in the smoothed translation, it may be better to group it together as “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.” The reasons I can surmise for tagging “and the Lamb” onto the end of the phrase may be to give prominence to the phrase “Lord God Almighty.”

All manuscripts except Alexandrius and a few miniscules exclude the article before the second ναός in 21:22. All of the fourteen uses of ναός in Revelation have the article, so that ὁ ναός agrees with the style of the book and is probably original. Furthermore, the reading with the article is the harder reading, and is the only anarthrous occurrence of ναός in the entire book. The absence of the article may be because it is the book’s only occurrence of the word referring to a material temple, “all the others referring to an inaugurated or future temple in heaven or a spiritual temple on earth, both of which find consummation in the descending temple-city of 21:22b. Therefore, the article in 21:22b specifies the fulfillment of the prophesied end-time temple, which has been inaugurated throughout the church age.”[54]

23 And the city has no need of the sun or the moon, that they should give light to it, for the glory of God gave light to it, and its lamp [is] the Lamb.

καὶ ἡ πόλις οὐ χρείαν ἔχει τοῦ ἡλίου οὐδὲ τῆς σελήνης, ἵνα φαίνωσιν αὐτῇ, ἡ γὰρ δόξα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐφώτισεν αὐτήν, καὶ ὁ λύχνος αὐτῆς τὸ ἀρνίον.

ἔχει (PrAInd-3S), φαίνωσιν (PrASub-3P), ἐφώτισεν (AoAInd-3S)

Here, the continued use of the present tense in the draw attention to the statements that the city has no need of the sun or moon’s light. The subjunctive φαίνωσιν after ἵνα is expected. However, following ἵνα φαίνωσιν one would expect the accusative case to be used as the direct object of the verb, however αὐτῇ is dative. Robertson notes that, “the dative is often the direct object of transitive verbs. These verbs may be simple or compound, but they all emphasize the close personal relation like trust, distrust, envy, please, satisfy, serve, etc.”[55] The verb φαίνω finds itself in the list of exceptions according to Robertson. I’m not sure if there’s any other significance to this. Here, there is a fulfillment of Isaiah 60:19, which promised that the Lord would be their everlasting light and there will be no need for the sun or moon to give light, which Revelation 21:23 sees as accomplished in the new heavenly Jerusalem.[56]

24—26 And the nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it, and its gates may never be shut by day, because there will be no night, and the glory and honour arising from the nations will be brought to it.

καὶ περιπατήσουσιν τὰ ἔθνη διὰ τοῦ φωτὸς αὐτῆς· καὶ οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς φέρουσιν τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν εἰς αὐτήν· καὶ οἱ πυλῶνες αὐτῆς οὐ μὴ κλεισθῶσιν ἡμέρας, νὺξ γὰρ οὐκ ἔσται ἐκεῖ, καὶ οἴσουσιν τὴν δόξαν καὶ τὴν τιμὴν τῶν ἐθνῶν εἰς αὐτήν.

περιπατήσουσιν (FuAInd-3P), φέρουσιν (PrAInd-3P), κλεισθῶσιν (AoPassSub-3P), ἔσται (FuMInd-3S),  οἴσουσιν (FuAInd-3P)

If we had been looking at the verbal aspects as denoting prominence or foregrounding, then these verses are lit up! Here we find three futures, a present and an aorist subjunctive. John has thus far been building up to this passage—the fact that the nations walk by the light of the glory of God and the lamp of the Lamb, the kings bringing glory, there will be no night and the glory and honour of the nations will be brought to it is the culmination of many OT promises and the triumphant climax of this heavenly vision of the ultimate conquest of God in accomplishing redemption.

There is a possibility of an emphatic negative with οὐ μὴ plus the subjunctive κλεισθῶσιν—thus my translation with “may never” which perhaps may be better translated emphatically as “will never.” However, Porter comments,

“There has been much debate whether an aorist subjunctive or future form with οὐ μή is emphatically negated. Some argue that, since most instances in the NT are in either quotations from the OT or records of the words of Jesus, this negative is a peculiar stylistic feature reserved for decisive language and containing no more negative force than a simple negative particle. Most grammarians believe that οὐ μή is in some way emphatically negative.”[57]

Here, as elsewhere περιπατέω (walk) means “to live,” or “to carry on one’s activities.” The meaning is that the people will live in the light that shines forth from the city. This can be seen as fulfillment of Isaiah 60:3 which says that the “nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”[58] The nations mentioned here are the company of the redeemed—best identified as those in 5:9-10 who were bought from every tribe, tongue, people and nation and made into a kingdom. This is confirmed by 22:5, where all who dwell in the new city “will reign forever and ever.” Some later minuscules (e.g., the TR) add “the nations being saved (των σωζομενων) will walk in its light” which seems to confirm this understanding. Beale comments, “Though the variant is likely not original, Hoskier prefers it and adduces external evidence that cannot be found in the apparatus of any of the modern Greek NT editions.”[59]

The clause introduced with γάρ—“there will not be night there” in verse is better rendered as an emphatic “indeed” since it emphasizes that the gates will be kept open always, since day will never cease. “The absence of night underscores the fact that the redeemed will have unhindered access to God’s glorious presence.”[60] I have chosen to translate it “because” to link the two phrases more explicitly. In all ancient cities, the gates must be closed at night to protect the inhabitants from intruders. However, here there is no such danger. In Genesis 3:24, the entrance to the tree of life was blocked by angelic guards, but here at the end of history, angels stand guard to ensure the gates stay open (cf. Rev. 21:12–13). 22:14 equates “entering the city by the gates” with unfettered access to “the tree of life.”[61]

The nations bring glory and honor into the city because they are bringing themselves as worshipers before God. The genitive source, τῶν ἐθνῶν, of the phrase τὴν δόξαν καὶ τὴν τιμὴν then may be translated “glory and honor arising from the nations.”[62] The UBS Handbook suggests that, it in light of the fact that the verb οἴσουσιν is in the future, whereas the verb in verse 24 attached to “the kings” is present tense, it is possible that the third person plural of the verb here acts like a passive, “will be brought in.”[63] A few minuscules added “and the honor of them [or “of the nations”]” after “they bring the glory” in verse 24b in order to match the statement with the parallel clause in v 26, “they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.” Some cursives add “in order that they should enter” at the end of v 26—perhaps to make it agree with 22:14b–15.[64] These readings were likely not original though, so they have not been reflected in the translation.

27 And every unclean thing may never come into it nor anyone practicing what is detestable or false, but only those who have been written in the Lamb’s book of life.

καὶ οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς αὐτὴν πᾶν κοινὸν καὶ ποιῶν βδέλυγμα καὶ ψεῦδος, εἰ μὴ οἱ γεγραμμένοι ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ ἀρνίου.

εἰσέλθῃ (AoASub-3S), ποιῶν (PrAPart-MNS), γεγραμμένοι (PfPassPart-MNP)

Again the use of the double negation plus the subjunctive may be emphatic here. The translation may be smoothed out, “and no unclean thing shall ever come into it.” The use of the neuter κοινὸν (unclean thing) seems to imply vessels or other objects used in worship. However, in light of the following masculine participle clause ποιῶν βδέλυγμα καὶ ψεῦδος, “the one who does abomination and lie,” the initial nothing unclean probably includes people as well as objects.[65] The genitive τῆς ζωῆς denotes the nature or purpose of the book. It is a picture of the security in the eternal city—the genitive clarifies that it is eternal life which is provided as security.

“They were written in the book of the Lamb before the creation, which means that they were identified at that time as ones who would benefit from the Lamb’s redemptive death. Therefore, they have been given the protection of eternal life, which comes as a result of the Lamb’s death. This prehistorical identification with the Lamb has protected them from the deceptions of the world, which threaten to suppress their trust in the Lamb, and has enabled them to be ready to enter the gates of the city to enjoy the life for which they have been destined.”[66]

Though I disagree with Patterson’s general eschatological millennial framework, I find his comments here helpful. It is quoted below en totum:

“The popular understanding of the eternal state has been detrimental to the cause of Christianity. Expressions improperly understood, such as ‘it is a place of rest,’ drum up for most people the idea of an eternal siesta. People seem to picture in the mind’s eye glorified saints as cloud potatoes strumming their harps of gold and simply lounging for eternity. Actually, all the expressions of the eternal state are quite different. First, the eternal prospect of enriching and triumphant worship that can be only distantly anticipated in the present state is a constant activity of the eternal state. Second, Jesus has promised, he who is ‘faithful with a few things’ he ‘will put … in charge of many things’ (Matt 25:21). Every expression of the eternal state is one of intense activity minus the problems of illness and weariness, which due to sin prevent full accomplishment and enjoyment of work. In the eternal state there will apparently be endless learning and extensive assignments.”[67]

The intended audience for the smoothed translation is the average frequent Evangelical church goer between sixteen and fifty who has grown up in Canada (thus metric).

Smoothed Translation:

               Then one of the seven angels came to me, the one who had the seven bowls—the ones full of the last seven plagues—and he said to me, “Come here! I will show you the Bride, that is, the wife of the Lamb.” Then he carried me in the spirit to the top of a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem which was coming down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God—her radiance like a most precious stone like a jasper stone shining like crystal. The city had a massive high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels were upon each of the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates from the east, three from the north, three from the south and three from the west of the city. Its wall had twelve foundations, and upon them were the twelve names of the Lamb’s twelve apostles.

               Then the one speaking with me held a golden measuring rod so that he could measure the city and its gates and wall. The city was laid in a square—its length was as much as its width—and he measured the city with the measuring rod to be 12,000 stadia (about 2,220km), with its length, width and height equal to each other. He measured its wall as 144 cubits (about 72m) tall by human measurement, which is also an angel’s. The wall was made of jasper and the city was pure gold like pure glass. The foundations of the wall of the city had been made beautiful with every kind of precious gem. The first foundation was made of jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardis, the seventh peridot, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth and the twelfth was amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each one of the gates made from a single pearl, and the city streets were pure gold transparent like glass!

               But I saw no temple in it! For the Lord GodAlmightyt and the Lamb are its temple! And the city has no need of light from the sun or moon, for the glory of God gives light to it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will live by its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day because there will be no night, and the glory and honour arising from the nations will be brought to it! No unclean thing will ever come into it nor anyone practicing what is detestable or false, but only those who have been written in the Lamb’s book of life may enter.


Beale, G. K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999.

Bratcher, Robert G., and Howard Hatton. A Handbook on the Revelation to John. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993.

Brannan, Rick, and Israel Loken. The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible. Lexham Bible    Reference Series. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014. LOGOS Bible Software Edition. No pages.

Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.

Omanson, Roger L., and Bruce Manning Metzger. A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger’s Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006.

Palmer, David Robert. “The Revelation of John.” The Holy Bible (May 11, 2016), http://bibletranslation.ws/trans/revwgrk.pdf

Patterson, Paige. Revelation. Edited by E. Ray Clendenen. Vol. 39. The New American Commentary. Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012.

Porter, Stanley E., et al. Fundamentals of New Testament Greek. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.

Porter, Stanley E., Idioms of the Greek New Testament. Sheffield: JSOT, 1999.

Robertson, A. T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Logos Bible Software, 2006.

Robertson, A. T. A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, for Students Familiar with the Elements of Greek. New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1908.


[1] For additional information regarding the parsing paradigm, please refer to Porter, Fundamentals, xvi—xx.
[2] τῶν γεμόντων is altered to τας γεμουσας in 𝔐K (-τας) 1 1006 1611 1841 1854 2030 2377 latt sy to bring it into concord with τὰς ἑπτὰ φιάλας.
[3] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1065.
[4] Palmer, “The Revelation of John,” 77.
[5] Patterson, Revelation, 369.
[6] 051s 1854 2030 2377 𝔐A add μεγαλην. See comment on Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1066.
[7] “The uncial A and the minuscule 2062 omit the introductory clause “having the glory of God” (ἔχουσαν τὴν δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ) because a copyist’s eye skipped from the “of God” (τοῦ θεοῦ) concluding v 10 to the same phrase in v 11.” Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1067.
[8] Robertson, A Grammar, 670.
[9] Robertson, A Grammar, 279–280.
[10] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1067.
[11] (so 051s 2050 𝔐A t [syph]) Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1067.
[12] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1067 emphasis in original.
[13] Louw, Greek-English Lexicon, 25.
[14] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1067–1068.
[15] Bratcher, A Handbook, 304. The UBS Handbook notes, “it should be clear in the translation that there was one angel standing guard at each of the twelve gates, and one name on each gate. In many languages it will be necessary to say ‘at each of the gates there was an angel on guard (or, watching it).’”
[16] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1068.
[17] Robertson, A Grammar, 791.
[18] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1068.
[19] Patterson, Revelation, 370.
[20] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1069.
[21] Beale, The Book of Revelation,.
[22] Manuscripts with the NA28 reading: ℵc P 046 922 1778 1841 2050 2080 AT RP and SBL.
[23] Brannan, The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible, Re 21:12.
[24] Palmer, “The Book of Revelation,” 77.
[25] Omanson, A Textual Guide, 550.
[26] Omission found in A 051s* 2030 2050 2377 pc t syh. See Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1068–1069.
[27] There are variants here with the NA28 text reading ἔχων and ℵ² 051s 1611 1841 2050 2053 2062 TR and RP reading ἔχον, which is quite a substantial number of manuscripts with this variant. However, they are both present participles which differ in gender. Its referent τὸ τεῖχος is neuter, so the variant is probably trying to correct the grammatical agreement.
[28] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1069.
[29] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1070.
[30] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1070.
[31] Omission in 051s 1854 2377 𝔐K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1073.
[32] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1072.
[33] Robertson, A Grammar, 404—405.
[34] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1076.
[35] Louw, Greek-English Lexicon, 723.
[36] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1074.
[37] Patterson, Revelation, 370.
[38] See Patterson, Revelation, 371—373.
[39] Bratcher, A Handbook, 306.
[40] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1076–1077.
[41] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1076. “Some have observed that 144,000 in 7:4–9 and 14:1, 3 is the product of the square of the twelve tribes of Israel and 1,000, another number of completeness. This figurative reckoning is confirmed from 21:16, where each of the four sides of the cubic new Jerusalem equals 12,000 stadia, the square of each side equaling 144,000, which we have seen represents the completeness of God’s people. Now the immediately following statement in v 17 that the wall equals 144 cubits echoes the 144,000 as the complete number of God’s people.”
[42] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1077.
[43] Bratcher, A Handbook, 308.
[44] Bratcher, A Handbook, 308.
[45] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1082–1083.
[46] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1080.
[47] Bratcher, A Handbook, 308.
[48] Bratcher, A Handbook, 308.
[49] Patterson, Revelation, 372–373.
[50] Robertson, A Grammar, 675.
[51] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1089.
[52] Bratcher, A Handbook, 309.
[53] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1090.
[54] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1092–1093.
[55] Robertson, A Grammar, 539.
[56] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1094. There is also continued allusion to Isaiah 60 with verse 24 alluding to Isaiah 60:3-5, and verses 25 and 26 alluding to Isaiah 60:11.
[57] Porter, Idioms, 283.
[58] Bratcher, A Handbook, 310.
[59] Beale, The Book of Revelation,1097.
[60] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1096.
[61] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1099–1100.
[62] Beale, The Book of Revelation 1095. Beale notes that, “This interpretation is supported by the observation that the phrase τὴν δόξαν καὶ τὴν τιμήν (“the glory and honor”) appears elsewhere in the Apocalypse only in 4:9, 11 and 5:12, 13, where it refers without exception to praise of God and the Lamb.”
[63] Bratcher, A Handbook, 310.
[64] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1101. See 1611 1854 2053 pc 𝔐K vg [bo] which add ‘of them’ or ‘the nations’ and 1611 1854 2329 𝔐K which add ινα εισελθωσιν.
[65] Bratcher, A Handbook, 311.
[66] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 1102.
[67] Patterson, Revelation, 374.


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