Revelation 1:5: Benediction and Doxology

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Verse 5:[1] And from Jesus Christ, (John 8:14; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 3:14) who is the faithful witness, and the (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18) first begotten of the dead, and (Eph. 1:20; Rev. 17:14; 19:16) the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him (John 13:34; 15:9; Gal. 2:20) that loved us, (Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7) and washed us from our sins in his own blood…

[And, etc., καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός] And from Jesus Christ (not only from God the Father operating by those that we called modes, but also from Jesus Christ, he desires all favorable things for the Churches: Thus also Paul in Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; and elsewhere [Grotius]: Eulogies of Christ here follow, as if so many reasons why he prays grace and peace for them from Christ [Pareus]), that faithful witness (Montanus). There is here no ἀκυρολογία, improper phraseology (Cotterius). Indeed, here he made use of Nominatives ἀκλίτως, without declining, so that, just as he had signified the Immutability of God, so also he might signify the immutability of Christ in His testimony and Kingdom. See 2 Corinthians 1:20; Hebrews 13:8 (Grotius). It was not unsuitable for God thus to speak, who only cares for the matter, not the elegance of the words (Cotterius). It is an anomaly of case (Piscator, thus Glassius), or an Antiptosis,[2] as in Luke 1:55;[3] Revelation 3:12;[4] 18:13[5] (Glassius’ “Grammar” 4:2:19:736). Others: It is an Ellipsis of the relative (Cotterius, similarly Beza), which is common among the Hebrews. See Ephesians 2:5[6] (Beza). Thus also Virgil, …En dextra fidesque: Quem secum patrios aiunt portare penates, …behold the pledge and good faith: Of him who brings, say they, his father’s gods along[7] (Cotterius). [Thus, therefore, they render it:] who is that faithful witness (Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, thus Erasmus, Illyricus,[8] Tigurinus). Others: teste illo fideli, that faithful witness[9] (Castalio, thus the Syriac, Arabic). Thus Christ is called in Isaiah 43:10 and 55:4 (Cluverus), and in this place, with the article duplicated, that is to say, that witness, that faithful one,[10] so that it might be signified that He is that eminent witness, concerning whom it was spoken in Isaiah 55:4 and John 18:37 (Ribera), and in 1 Timothy 6:13, who does not testify, like the Prophets and Apostles, to things heard and received from others, but what things He Himself has seen, and thoroughly known, John 1:18; 3:11, 32; 5:20; and that not only by words (Cluverus), and by promises (Pererius), but by actual deed (Cluverus, Pererius), John 10:25, 37, and by His own death (Cluverus), 1 Timothy 6:13: who testified concerning God, concerning Himself, concerning the Church of God (Pererius), concerning the will of God (Piscator): who in [read, all] the names that He announced to us in the name of God, and many of which, spoken by Christ in a general way, are specifically explained in this book, is most worthy, to whom it is entrusted. See Isaiah 55:4; John 8:38, etc., and, concerning the word πιστὸς/faithful, see 1 Timothy 1:15.[11] The same title is attributed to God Himself, Psalm 89:37 (Grotius). Who faithfully, truly, and plainly taught the whole will of God, as much as pertains to the method of human salvation, or the whole Gospel, which is called μαρτυρία marturi/a, John 5:31, 32.[12] This pertains to the Prophetic office of Christ (Brightman). Now, this title here he ascribes to Christ, partly so that he might procure confidence for this prophecy, partly so that he might animate the pious to endure persecutions by the hope of the glory which Christ promised, who is faithful, and therefore He will fulfill it (Ribera), neither will He desert the faithful who are in danger for His sake (Pareus).

[The firstborn, etc., ὁ πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν] That firstborn (that is, raised in the first place [Pareus], for the resurrection is a certain sort of birth, or a regeneration [Pareus, Grotius, similarly Ribera, Cotterius, Cluverus]): see Matthew 19:28 and Acts 13:33 [Pareus, Grotius]) of the dead (Beza, Piscator). This is concisely expressed, in the place of, of those who rise again from the dead (Brightman): who was reawakened, first of the dead (Grotius, thus Cotterius, Cluverus), namely, either, by His own power (Pareus, thus Durham), by which also He reawakened others (Durham, thus Brightman); or, unto life immortal (Grotius, Cotterius, Cluverus, Menochius, Pareus), and blessed (Menochius): For those saints in Matthew 27:52, 53 did not come forth from their tombs before Christ was awakened, as it is expressly affirmed in verse 53 (Cotterius). See 1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18, and the things mentioned there (Grotius). This pertains unto the priesthood of Christ, by which He conquered death by death, made full expiation of sins, and rose again for our justification, Romans 4:25 (Brightman, Pareus). This also pertains to our consolation (Pareus), so that the many that were going to suffer might despise death, knowing that they were going to rise again after the example of Christ (Ribera, similarly Pareus).

[And the prince of the kings of the earth] That is, the King of Kings, as He is called in Revelation 19:16 (Ribera, Cluverus, Pareus); Revelation 17:14 and 1 Timothy 6:15 (Cluverus). Ruling over kings (Ribera). See Matthew 28:18 and Revelation 19:6 (Grotius). This regards the duty of kings (Brightman). This pertains also to the consolation of the Church (Pareus). He means this, Refuse, as ye follow the precepts and example of Christ, to fear the Kings of this World. For the power of Christ is such that where He wills He is going to destroy them, or subjugate them to Himself (Grotius, similarly Ribera, Pareus). Daniel had given the same title to God, Daniel 4:17 (Grotius).

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness: here is an express mention of Jesus Christ, because he was the procurer of our redemption, and our Mediator, to whom the Father committed all power as to the church. He is called the faithful and true witness; 1 Timothy 6:13, he witnessed a good confession before Pontius Plate; he bare record of himself, John 8:13, 14: see also Isaiah 43:10; 55:4; John 18:37. And the first begotten of the dead; that is, who first rose from the dead, namely, by his own power, John 10:18, and to die no more: see Acts 13:34; 1 Corinthians 15:20. And the prince of the kings of the earth: the King of kings, Revelation 17:14; 19:16; 1 Timothy 6:15. The first name here given to Christ speaketh his prophetical office, the second his priestly office, this last his kingly office.

[Who, etc., τῷ ἀγαπήσαντι, etc.] In the place of, τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντος, etc.,[13] the One who loved, etc. It is another anomaly of case (Piscator). He begins a new sense, and these Datives are connected with that which follows, to Him be glory. Now, truly is this title appropriate to Christ, as it is learned from John 13:34 and 15:9. In some manuscripts it is τῷ ἀγαπῶντι,[14] to the One loving, so that ongoing love might be indicated (Grotius). [Thus they translate:] Who (or, to Him who [Erasmus, Vatablus]) loved us, and washed us (the Apostle includes himself, and to such an extent shows the uncleanness of the saints [Cluverus]) from our sins (both by merit and by efficacy [Pareus]: He merited the remission of sins for us [Piscator]) by His own blood (Beza, Piscator); that is, Having endured death, He made us certain of the truth of those things that He had taught, which were such that nothing is more suitable to cleanse souls of sins. Consult Isaiah 4:4; Romans 3:25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; 5:26, etc. To a wet element, under which is Blood, it is proper to wash. Indeed, this is transferred to the Soul by an extraordinary ἀλληγορίαν/allegory. Now, Christ is said to have washed us by His own blood, because He fulfilled all things which were required for it, and it is apparent that the effect followed in a great many (Grotius). But this ablution, as also the redemption, is not metaphorical, but real, accomplished by the payment of a real λύτρου/ransom in His own blood (Apocalyptic Harmony). The blood of Christ was ἀντίλυτρον, a ransom, giving satisfaction to the judgment of God for our sins (Pareus). This means that, if Christ so loved us that He poured out His blood for us, it is also equitable that we endure all sufferings for the sake of the love of Him (Ribera).

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood: here begins a doxology, or giving glory to Christ, (such forms are frequent in the Epistles,) first, as he that washed us from our sins, both from the guilt and from the power and dominion of our sins, with his blood, paying a price, and satisfying God’s justice for, and meriting our sanctification: see Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός, ὁ πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς. τῷ ἀγαπήσαντι ἡμᾶς, καὶ λούσαντι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ.

[2] In grammar, an antiptosis is the substituting of one case for another.

[3] Luke 1:55: “As he spake to our fathers (πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν, πρὸς taking the Accusative case), to Abraham (τῷ Ἀβραὰμ, in the Dative case), and to his seed (τῷ σπέρματι αὐτου, in the Dative case) for ever.”

[4] Revelation 3:12a: “The overcoming one (ὁ νικῶν, in the Nominative case), I will make him (αὐτὸν, in the Accusative case) a pillar in the temple of my God…”

[5] Revelation 18:11, 12a, 13: “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver…and cinnamon (κινάμωμον, and the following in the Accusative case), and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves (καὶ ἵππων, καὶ ῥεδῶν, καὶ σωμάτων, all in the Genitive case), and souls (ψυχὰς, returning to the Accusative case) of men.”

[6] Ephesians 2:4, 5: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us (ἡμᾶς), us being (ὄντας ἡμᾶς) dead in sins, hath quickened together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)…”

[7] Æneid 4:597, 598.

[8] Matthæus Flaccius Illyricus (1520-1575) was a Lutheran divine. He served as Professor of Hebrew at Wittenburg (1544), then as Professor of New Testament at Jena (1557). He made great contributions in the fields of church history and hermeneutics. He wrote Catalogus Testium Veritatis, Qui ante Nostram Ætatem Relamarunt Papæ (A Catalogue of Witnesses for the Truth, Who before Our Age Cried out against the Pope), which included commentary on the Apocalypse.

[9] In the Ablative case, bringing it into conformity with à Jesu Christo (in the Ablative), from Jesus Christ.

[10] Greek: ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός.

[11] 1 Timothy 1:15a: “This is a faithful (πιστὸς) saying, and worthy of all acceptation…”

[12] John 5:31, 32: “If I bear witness of myself, my witness (ἡ μαρτυρία μου) is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness (ἡ μαρτυρία) which he witnesseth of me is true.”

[13] Here, the case is brought into agreement with ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, from Jesus Christ.

[14] In the present tense, which can convey a progressive, ongoing sense. This reading is found in Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Ephræmi Rescriptus, and in some Byzantine manuscripts.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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