The Nations and the kings of the earth


In The Evangelical Universalist, MacDonald makes the argument that for John to suddenly shift the referent of “nations” and “kings of the earth” from those who drink from the cup of God’s wrath to believers in Revelation 21:24 would only lead to confusion. It seems like a strong argument, but I wonder how he (or you guys) would counter the following argument:

Thanks and happy thanksgiving!


It says they shall reign on the earth, but the specific phrase ‘the kings of the earth’ is only used in reference to those in rebellion.

That’s the only argument I would try to use. Ultimately it must come down to a personal conviction, since it doesn’t seem like a conclusive answer can be drawn from the text.

I find the apparently unnecessary repetition of the phrase “do/shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it” in Rev 21 interesting. It makes me wonder if something isn’t coming across in translation. Any thoughts?

Rev 21:
And the nations [of them which are saved]* shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

*It seems that this phrase is found in the Textus Receptus, but not in other Greek texts. Does anyone have any opinions on that?



Thanks, Sonia.

We are to be priests and kings, but I have always wondered about this. Are we to be priests and kings on earth?

As for your question, I don’t rightly know, but I suspect that this is a scribal error. It was not uncommon for scribes to make mistakes such as reading and copying the same line twice. That would certainly explain the redundancy.


Here is some “brief” notes. In Revelation, most references to “the nations” and “the kings of the earth” refer to the opposition of Christ while they get saved in the end. One way or another, Revelation teaches about the conversion of the nations. And the open gates of heaven and the need for the healing of the nations in heaven might imply postmortem conversions. I see Revelation as quasi-universalistic, suggesting that everybody could get saved.


Revelations leads to confusion. Chuck that book for the Gospel!

Building a theology on Revelations is like building a philosophy on Finnegan’s Wake. Stay at the cross with the rest of the thieves and murders. The redeemed are still the best company to keep.

But, hey, we’re talking religion here and people get STUCK in it. ‘God hates your guts until you believe that He doesn’t.’ Now really, what sane man would admit to being stuck in that nonsense? None. But they go right on preaching it. The religious have always had another gospel - they’ve always been and always will be a brood of vipers…sucking the life out of people by the guilt THEY implant. There is no condemnation in God.




We should probably define the terms, before putting them in context of Rev 1:6. According to Strong’s:

Kings - ‘basileus’ - leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king.

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” - Romans 8:16-17

If we are joint-heirs with Christ , then this implies that we inherit the kingdom with Him. And more than likely will co-reign in whatever kingdom will be established. The question is who will we reign over? Whoever it is, the scope will depend on how faithful we are in what we have here in this life, each according to his/her several ability (recall the Parable of the Talents - Matthew 25:14-30). If we are faithful over a few things, we will be ruler of a few things. If we are faithful in many things, we will be rulers of many things.

As for who, there is a hint that it might involve angels, since I Cor. 6:3 states, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?”. But I would be at a loss to know which angels. Fallen or godly?

Certainly there will be saints reigning with Christ in the Millenium and beyond:

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” - Rev. 20:4

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. - Rev. 22:5

And of course, there is that whole Bride of Christ concept. Who wouldn’t want to be married to a King? And what would that make the Bride? :wink:

Priests - ‘hiereus’ - a priest, one who offers sacrifices and in general in busied with sacred rites a) referring to priests of Gentiles or the Jews

This is a little more trickier. Priests are traditionally intercessors between the common people and God. Our role may involve interceeding for others for God. But if all in the kingdom are saved, and hence all are essentially kings and priests, then who needs intercession? Quite obviously, those who are not yet part of the kingdom. (Which goes along with the idea of being actively involved in the reconciliation process with God in my thread, Purgatorial Hell and Evangelism, in the Soteriology board).



Very nifty! (And certainly fits well enough into the role of the redeemed at the tail end of RevJohn.)

I suspect, though, kingship also means proper lordship over Nature; whereas much of the point of a priest is that he (or she) has personal access to the deity. (Assuming we don’t go back to the older meaning of the word as ‘elder’. :mrgreen: Which eventually would certainly fit as well.)

So being priests and kings need not indicate a necessarily standing relationship to rebel persons (whether angelic or otherwise) we are ruling over and interceding for.

On the other hand, there are hints in the scriptures that God intends to extend personhood to as much of Nature as possible (at least in the long run); we may find we are ruling and interceding for the next round of sentient creatures!

(Which then introduces interesting observations about those who were supposed to be, and apparently are, ruling and interceding over us, for which there are also various hints in scripture…! :mrgreen: But I wouldn’t hang anything on those speculations.)


As a couple of others have noted, the phraseology is actually crucially different: the villainous kings are not kings-and-priests-of-God; and they are of the earth, rather than being described as reigning on the earth. Considering that RevJohn has some kind of special authorial connection with the Johannine works (which is demonstrable on other internal grounds, not just tradition suggesting so, even though the actual grammar is significantly different from GosJohn on the balance across the texts), that distinction is probably thematically important: those who are of the earth in GosJohn are not (or not yet) born from above, and there’s a running contrast between them and people who are loyal to God.

If it wasn’t for the end of Rev 21, this wouldn’t be controversial at all. The problem (well, post-mortem salvationists don’t think it’s a problem :mrgreen: ) is that the kings going into the city there, are described one way instead of the other. Which way? As “kings of the earth”.

So either the author forgot his previously established distinction; or for some reason he has started using a term previously reserved for villains, for people who are clearly not acting as villains in that scene; or those are the previous villains (the “Quirky Miniboss Squad” as they might be called in modern story trope terminology :mrgreen: ), leading in fulfilling the evangelical call to those still outside the city (later in chp 22).


There doesn’t seem to be any textual indication of an inadvertent scribal doublet. So I’m inclined to read it as a special repetition for emphasis, probably for contrast to (what we call) the final verse of that chapter where it talks about who can’t come in.

This is even more likely when the Greek of the transition of the second half of that final verse (27) is checked. Because even the Textus Receptus agrees that the transitional phrase there is {ei me_ hoi}.

Which doesn’t mean “but only the ones”, though that’s how it’s often translated. It’s a conditional phrase; literally “if not the ones”, or as we’d put it in English, “not unless they”.

So! The final two verses actually translate out:

26: And [or a strong conjunctive ‘now’, perhaps] they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it *;

27: yet [or a strong conjunctive ‘now’, perhaps] all those who are profaning may not enter into it at all, and [or ‘nor’] those making an abomination and a lie–not unless those have been written in the Lamb’s Scroll of Life!

And what is chapter 22 largely about, which immediately follows? It’s largely dedicated to explaining how it is, by God’s grace (which the redeemed are expected to continue participating in the evangel of), those who continue to fondle their sinning, outside the city, may in fact obtain permission to enter and be healed!!

As for the differences in the TR for verse 24: unfortunately the UBS text and its notes list no textual variations there at all; and my copy of the TR didn’t come with a textual apparatus. (It mentions one, but didn’t supply it in my copy.) So I have no idea what the rationales are either way (though on the balance I’m inclined to think the problem is that the variants are so late and few as to be utterly irrelevant for reconstruction purposes). But the word order is rather different, along with the extra word in the TR:

UBS: and will-walk the nations by/through the light of it
UBS: kai peripate_sousin ta ethne_ dia tou pho_tos aute_s
TR: kai ta ethne_ to_n so_zomeno_n en t(i)o_ pho_ti aute_s peripate_sousi
TR: and the nations of the saved in the light of it will-walk

(Edited to add: sorry, my original post did, and still does, contain extra spaces up there for helping match English to Greek. But the forum software considers them extravagant, or something, so it doesn’t print them. Except in the original text which can still be edited! Weird…)

The TR treats the light of the city more literally as a mere (though important) environmental condition (even if that’s to be understood metaphorically so).

But the standard text compilation grammatically suggests that the light may have some causal effect on the nations–which totally fits with the end of the immediately preceding verse (including in the TR) where the illumination is expressly identified to be the Lamb and the Glory of God: i.e, the light is Christ. The metaphor thus means that the nations are walking thanks to the agency of Christ. Which hugely fits what happens in chapter 22 (with the river of life, also a symbol for Christ, going out through the never-closed gates; which those still outside the city are exhorted to wash themselves in and drink freely without cost, so that they may obtain permission to enter the city and eat of the leaves of the tree of life–another image for Christ–and be healed.)

It isn’t that the TR’s version doesn’t fit the surrounding context; it’s okay. But the standard text version fits very much better while also being grammatically simpler (yet perhaps more challenging, conceptually, to natural expectations).*


To be fair, there are a few trinitarian Christian groups who reject the canonical status of RevJohn. (The Syrian Orthodox, for example, if I recall correctly–it’s been a while since I checked.)

They tend to do so for somewhat more technical reasons than that it foofs their ideas about the wrath of God, though. :wink:

(And chucking RevJohn won’t solve that problem: the Gospels affirm some things about the wrath of God, including as Christ, too. Most of the Bible, OT and NT, would have to be chucked, to safeguard one’s self from that kind of confusion. But that’s a debate for other threads. :slight_smile: )


Jeff likes the word foofs :smiley:


Me, too. It sounds like a pillow. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: