Christ as Αρχή in Revelation 3:14 -- By: Michael J. Svigel

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 161:642 (Apr 2004)
Article: Christ as Αρχή in Revelation 3:14
Author: Michael J. Svigel


Christ as Αρχή
in Revelation 3:14

Michael J. Svigel

Michael J. Svigel is a Bible teacher in Dallas, Texas.

While non-Trinitarians have often cited Revelation 3:14 (Christ as “the ἀρχή of the creation of God”) as evidence that the Son is a created being,1 Trinitarian scholars have not agreed on how best to translate or interpret the phrase. Further compounding the problem, the recent third edition of Bauer’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature makes a startling change under its definition for ἀρχή. The earlier second edition cites Revelation 3:14 under the meaning “the first cause” with the following note: “but the meaning beginning=first created is linguistically possible.”2 In the third edition, however, the alternative meaning for ἀρχή in this verse is changed from “linguistically possible” to “linguistically probable” without amending any of the cited evidence.3 In light of these

problems, and bearing in mind that Revelation 3:14 is a verse of significant Christological import, this article examines the interpretational issues essential to discovering the most probable rendering of the phrase “the ἀρχή of the creation of God” (ἡ ἀρχή τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ).

Survey of Interpretations

Modern commentators and translations have suggested at least six meanings of ἀρχή.4

Αρχή as Origin

Most commentators understand ἀρχή to mean source or origin,5 either of the original creation of Genesis 1:1, 6 the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:1–5),7 or both.8

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