On the Final Chapters of RevJohn ("Hostile Witness" version)


Now we’ll see to what extent A37 is really interested in contexts.

This will be the same argument I have presented in (Part 4 of) this original thread (and elsewhere in various directions and levels of detail). But instead of presenting it as an analysis for a grown man to read and respond to, pro or con, I will do it in as “simplistic” a manner possible.

(I have technical reasons for calling this the “hostile witness” version, in comparison with legal protocols, but I can’t think of a way to “simplistically” explain that, so I’ll just move on. :unamused: :wink: )

For ease of future reference in this thread, I’ll number the questions.

1.) Rev 22:17. I believe the Spirit and the Bride are saying “Come” to the one who is thirsty.

Do you agree, A37, or do you disagree? No details yet, just answer as “simplistically” as possible: do you agree or disagree?

(I cover a more than a couple hundred detail references along the way, so I’m sure you’ll get to flesh out points as we go, the same as I do. This way neither of us is jumping ahead of the other. I’ll keep verrrrry slowly and simplistically bringing up details as I go, asking for agreement or disagreement, including in context of prior points.)

Redemption from the lake of fire?

Yes, Rev 22:17 " and the Spirit and the bride say. Come. I agree, that it says that.


Okay, you agree it says that they say “Come”. That wasn’t all my question, but maybe my question was too complex–I suppose it did have two details in it after all. Sorry. I was trying not to skip ahead any, and skipped ahead a step after all. I’ll re-present that as item 2, then.

2.) Same verse, Rev 22:17. I believe they are saying “come” to those who are thirsting.

Do you agree they are saying “Come” to those who are thirsting? Or do you disagree?


Your condescending attitude is not necessary, Jason. Yes, I concur. Agreed. :wink:


Actually, I was serious about that being possibly an unfair mistake on my part (though accidentally so, not intentionally.)

As far as “condescending” goes: you wanted as “simplistic” a coverage as possible. So, here we are. There’s value in doing it this way, too, even though this is not my preferred way. (My preferred way was to treat you as though you were capable of reading, understanding and commenting on a 10+ page analysis.)

3.) Same verse. I believe the Spirit and the Bride are exhorting the ones who are thirsty to come drink of the freely given water of life (or “given without cost”).

Do you agree or do you disagree?


(It could make a pretty big difference later whether the Spirit and the Bride are saying “Come” to those who are NOT thirsty, or to those who ARE thirsty. So I didn’t want to possibly trap you into agreeing to something you actually didn’t agree with. That’s why I said I may have been accidentally unfair by asking for agreement on two points.)


:laughing: agree


At the very least, it has to be a good thing to clarify where we agree (as well as disagree). :slight_smile:

4.) Same verse, but also Rev 22:14. I believe that those who can slake their thirst with the water of life, can also wash their robes in it.

Agree? Or disagree?


No, my bible does not say that… it says blessed they that do his commandments.

Youngs Literal Translation puts it this way: Happy are those doing His commands that the authority shall be theirs unto the tree of the life, and by the gates they may enter into the city;

Big difference, huh? :wink:


Hm, that’s interesting. I’ll have to check my reference stacks at work tomorrow to see where the variation lies.

The NASV I happen to have at the house here reads, “Blessed are those who wash their robes” etc. (More details in that verse to follow, of course, but I’m trying not to jump ahead.)

I can see how washing the robes could be a poetic figure of speech for “doing His commandments”, and how that would fit into the surrounding verses, too. I’m certainly not against it (although from long experience I suspect it’s a late variation. But I have no way to check that yet, until tomorrow.)

Until then, would you at least be willing to agree that washing their robes is a good figure of speech for doing His commandments?

(I can work with either variant, but if washing the robes turns out on the balance of evidence to be more likely the original reading, that would also make it easier to track the themes from point to point.)


Jason, two things are promised to believers for obeying the Lord and doing His commandments…1) the right to the tree of life and (2) the right to enter into the New Jerusalem through its gates. This supports Youngs Literal Translation : Happy are those doing His commands that the authority shall be theirs unto the tree of the life, and by the gates they may enter into the city.



I agree that some manuscripts read this (more on this soon)! :wink:

I can’t say that, only as stated, I can agree with this. I disagree that we earn authority to be saved, or to save ourselves, by keeping the commandments. I believe (sticking with RevJohn so far, although I could quote extensively from St. Paul, for example, on the same topic) we drink of the water of life freely given to us. The water is given freely, without cost; we act to accept or to reject it, not to earn the slaking of our thirst.

How have you found it so far?–did we create or earn the authority to drink of the water of life to slake our thirst? Or was it freely given to us without cost?

And which notion does this other metaphor fit better with?–that if our robes are filthy, we may wash them in the water of life given freely to us without cost, and so then be given permission to enter the city. But the water of life comes out of the city to us first, while we yet are filthy. We do not earn our way into the city before saving grace is given.

Agree, or disagree? (Setting aside for the moment which variant of RevJohn’s text there is most likely the original.)


Were talking about obedience here, not saving ourselves by keeping the commandments. Not all believers can be described as “those who do His commandments.” Jesus did not take it for granted that even the Apostles would obey Him! He said to them, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” John 14:15), and, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). Similarly, in Revelation chapters 2-3 the Lord makes it clear that being a victorious overcoming believer is not guaranteed (see, for example, 2:2-7, 10, 25-28; 3:11-12).

What is “the right to the tree of life”? It is the right to eat its fruits. Compare Rev 2:7, “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life.” :wink:

Yes, I agree, one must have his robes washed with the blood of Christ to enter the city. :wink:


Aha! But it doesn’t literally speak of the blood of Christ!


Meanwhile, reporting on the manuscript evidence in favor of “washing the robes of them” (plunontes tas stosas auto) or “keeping the commandments of him” (poiountes tas entolas autou).

The spread of witnesses is pretty wide (unfortunately, since that makes it proportionately more difficult to weigh for which is the original text).

I haven’t been able to find any evidence from either side that either translation can be traced back to the several papyrus fragments we know to exist. This probably only means that not enough of any papyrus has survived to be counted as a witness to the text, one way or another, in that place.

The two phrases look only trivially similar in written Greek, so it’s practically impossible that this is a mere copy error one way or another; other typical mere copy error explanations can be similarly ruled out, though I’ll skip the technicalities there.

The two phrases sound more similar in spoken Greek than they look in written Greek. Since scriptographies tended to operate with a room-leader reading from a text and workers copying what they heard, sometimes errors slipped in that way (from mishearing similar sounding words or phrases). I’m inclined to think that the differences aren’t that similar, though.

ploo-OHN-tehs tahs STAW-sahs ow-TOE
POY-ee-OON-tehs tahs EN-toh-lahs ow-TOO

This leaves over two plausible explanations for the variance, which I’ll get to later.

Next, listing the known text witnesses (so far as I can find them). For each text category, I’ll list the estimated (or known) century date of the text’s production. Occasionally estimates are lateX/earlyY. If an exact year is known and accepted in the field, I’ll mention it in parenthesis.

Texts in favor of “washing the robes of them” (or some close variant, of which there is at least one):

Unical Greek texts (tend to be older, before the invention of small letters and spaces between words; or later very conservative imitations of the style): 4th, 5th, 9th/10th,

Miniscule Greek texts (tend to be younger, a lot more in existence than unicals): 11th, 12th (1107), 13th (minor grammatic varient), 13th. (Plus about 11 of the very many Koine miniscules later than this.)

Vulgate Latin: 4th/5th

Old Latin: 9th

Ethiopic: 6th

Coptic Sahidic: 4th

Fathers: Ambrose, late 4th (397?); Apringius Pacensis early-mid 6th; Fulgentius early 6th (527? 533?); pseudo-Athanasius (most copies have a grammatic variant)–but no general consensus has come forward for dating his work (I mention him only for completeness, of course).

Texts in favor of “keeping the commandments of him”

Unical Greek: 10th

Miniscule Greek: 12th (but “supplied”, i.e. written into the text by someone substantially after the original 12th century production, according to handwriting, letter-style, ink, etc.), 15th, 15th, nearly all (with about 11 exceptions) of the extremely numerous “Koine” group (dating from the Byzantine Empire to the present day).

Old Latin style (not the Vulgate): 13th

Syrian: 6th, 7th

Bohairic Coptic: 9th

Church Fathers: Tertullian (with a slight variation), early 3rd

Assessment of textual spread: “keeping the commandments of him” (hereafter “keeping”) scores the earliest known date of witness (early 3rd), but doesn’t do so well after that. Moreover, he is writing in Latin, and (in keeping with his writing style) may have been paraphrasing what he thought the text meant.

From 4th through 7th centuries,“keeping” can only post witnesses in two Syrian texts; whereas “washing the robes of them” (hereafter “washing”) scores two unical Greek, one early Coptic, one Ethiopic, three Fathers (all Latin), and the Vulgate Latin tradition generally. No less than five (and maybe seven) of these witnesses predate the earliest surviving Syrian witness.

8th through 10th centuries, both variants have a unical witness (the first and only unical text for “keeping”; whereas the text with “washing” has some indication of being earlier); and both score a 9th century copy (Coptic for “keeping”, Old Latin for “washing”).

The witnesses significant for reconstruction purposes after the 10th century are all in miniscule Greek, with “washing” starting off somewhat stronger than “keeping”, and then fading out as “keeping” later achieves final dominance in the Koine tradition.

Tertullian’s “keeping” reference is clearly the odd data point out, but probably at least testifies to a respected interpretation (if not exactly a translation) of the text. Insofar as surviving evidence goes, “washing” is otherwise far more widespread and numerous until late in the first millennium, at which point “keeping” achieves something like a parity–except in Greek, although later “keeping” grows to strongly dominate the Koine tradition (even manually “fixing” a text to comply) with only a few surviving outliers of “washing”.

Based on the surviving textual spread, the evidence strongly favors “washing” being the original text, with “keeping” being a popular doctrinal interpretation that eventually took over the tradition.

It may also be noted that, at more textually settled places in RevJohn itself (12:17, 14:12), the author shows a preference for using the phrase “terein tas entolas” rather than “poiountes tas entolas” when talking about faithful people keeping the commandments of God. (The Textus Receptus agrees with this, too.)

Internal style thus also weighs (though not conclusively, of course) toward “keeping” not being the original text at 22:14.

Textual critics make a point of keeping in mind the cultural emphases of the scribes doing most of the copying of scripture in the ages before printing. These were typically monks living according to monastic rules of varying strictness; and monastic traditions, especially in the East, have long had a documented tendency to emphasize the notion of earning salvation by personal discipline. (Definitely a key theme in the Desert Fathers I have studied over the years, as I can attest to myself!) There would be a natural tendency to favor a notion of earning access to heaven by discipline, when choosing between textual variants to follow and promote, even aside from the question of the external evidence of dating and spread–and “keeping” can certainly be more easily understood along that line than the “washing” variant (which thematically depends on accepting the freely given grace being first and authoritatively provided by God, although still acknowledging human responsibility.)

Finally, we come back to the question of replacement method, most of which can be (for various technical reasons) eliminated from consideration. There are two plausible options left over for transpositions of this type.

The first option is that the two readings witness either to an early Aramaic/Hebrew original, or at least to early expectation that the author, even if he composed originally in Greek, was familiar with thinking and teaching in an Aramaic idiom. Double-meaning puns are popular in that idiom, especially among Jewish rabbis. RevJohn shows some interesting evidence elsewhere of at least some prevalent families of the Greek texts being based off written Syriac/Aramaic; however, I have not yet been able to locate any evidence that an underlying original Hebrew-Aramaic phrase at 22:14 could easily mean either or even both of the variant phrases (where the Greek was mistranslated to mean one instead of the other, or where the author actually intended BOTH meanings but translators had to pick one or the other because the double-meaning didn’t hold up in Greek). Moreover, this kind of explanation tends to result in equally strong textual witnesses across time (until one or the other perhaps achieves dominance), and that doesn’t fit the existent manuscript evidence for this verse. Consequently, while I cannot rule out this option, it’s worth checking to see if the other option makes more sense.

Phrase or term replacement commonly occurred when comments or marginal glosses were added in the margins to scripture, without sufficient indication of whether this was only a comment on the text or a more accurate reading which ought to replace an error on the page. The sufficient differences between the two phrases lend themselves (though not altogether conclusively, due to some real if also trivial similarities) to this method of replacement. As it happens, we have direct evidence of the earliest Greek miniscule in favor of “keeping” having been corrected to “keeping” by just such a manual override. This can only weigh (so far as it goes) in favor of “washing” having been replaced by “keeping” through this method. The spread and progression of surviving texts fits this profile rather than counting against it as well.

External manuscript evidence; internal stylistic evidence; cultural proclivities; and modes of replacement: all weigh together (with varying strength, the external evidence being strongest) toward “washing” being the original phrase.

Now back to the original discussion. :slight_smile:


Rev 7:14 14And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Justin, I have placed you on my permanent foe-list due to your annoying, erroneous comments.


Actually we are washed by the water through the word, according to Ephesians 5:25-27,

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing* her by the washing with water through the word**, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."* (cf. Proverbs 18:4)

This is what Jesus told the disciples,

“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” - John 15:3

Which I reckon also includes this injunction from the previous chapter,

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” - John 14:21

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well and said He gives living water, and when she asked for this water, Jesus didn’t whip out a cup of divine holy water to give her, He set up conditions by which she could see her need, or thirst, namely that she needed to see her condition in having unstable relationships with 6 different men. She was looking for something that obviously didn’t satisfy her. He told her what her problem was. He also told her that those who worship God must do so in spirit and in truth (that is in obeying the truth).

So that’s how we can equate washing the robes with obeying His commandments.


Does your version not read “blessed are those who keep the commandments (so) that they shall have authority” to enter the gates and eat of the tree? I thought I recalled that it did (in grammatic variations).

True; nor can all those who do His commandments be called believers. :wink: (For which there is also abundant testimony, not least Rev 2:1-7.)

I agree about Jesus not taking even apostles’ obedience for granted, btw.

Yep, even for the Ephesian church, as noted. :mrgreen: (If it wasn’t for verse 4 and the consequent threat of verse 5, they’d have a super-positive obedience report card, yes?)

No disagreement here! But I’d rather wait and cover that in context soon.

Like the ones coming out of the great tribulation for example (at Rev 7:14–where in the narrative of the prophecy the great trib hasn’t kicked off yet, so John has to be looking ahead.)

But, whether we’re coming out of the great trib or not (and aside from what it means to come out of the great trib), washing our robes with the blood of Christ would be equivalent to washing our robes in the water of life.


Or, if you disagree, would you at least agree that washing our robes in the blood of Christ is equivalent to slaking our thirst with the water of life?


Not that I disagree, exactly, but there are some important distinctions worth noting. I hope to cover some of those soon in the exchange with A37.

Until then, I’ll note that Christ is the one doing the primary action in the (highly romantic! :mrgreen:) Ephesians reference (indeed the sole action, so far as that ref goes); ditto John 15:3; and Christ is again taking the lead and providing the means with the Samaritan woman at John 6 (though there she’s expected to cooperate, too).

On the other hand, only the volition from our side is mentioned at John 14:21. But then, neither is an important thematic distinction being mentioned there. (I’ll try to tie this back up soon in the exchange with Aaron37.)


But based on prior experience you’ll still end up reading my posts. :laughing:

Look, I was just talking about that passage. I’m fine with the metaphor but not with you allowing liberal interpretations for yourself but no one else. Granted you do have reference elsewhere on that one though. My bad.