Revelation 1:5a: The Faithful Witness

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).

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….  The first name here given to Christ speaketh his prophetical office, the second his priestly office, this last his kingly office.

[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.”

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