For You Have Kept My Word: The Grammar of Revelation 3:10 -- By: John Niemelä
CTSJ 6:1 (January 2000) p. 14
For You Have Kept My Word:
The Grammar of Revelation 3:101
[*Editor's note: John Niemelä received a B.A. (University of Minnesota), and earned the Th.M. degree in New Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary, from whom he will also receive the Ph.D. degree on April 29, 2000. John is Professor of Hebrew and Greek at Chafer Theological Seminary. His email address is [email protected]]
Although Revelation 3:10 has become a wellspring for various eschatological theories,2 two important grammatical questions in verse 10a have escaped serious scrutiny.
- What is the most appropriate translation for the Greek word hoti which begins verse 10a?
- With what punctuation should Revelation 3:10a end?
Contrary to what is unwittingly implied in the verse divisions and punctuation of most English translations, the earliest Greek manuscripts used only uppercase letters (uncials) without punctuation marks, capitalization, or versification. Thus, the answers to these two grammatical questions are not rote. Instead, careful scrutiny reveals a subtle, yet a significant error in most English translations: Revelation 3:10a’s causal clause is not subordinate to verse 3:10b, but rather to verse 3:9.
Two Options Based upon the Greek Word Hoti
Two seemingly similar English renderings of the Greek word hoti, because and for, may differ markedly in meaning. Usually, the two words are interchangeable, but sometimes they are not. The conjunction because has a much broader and more dynamic range than the conjunction for. Revelation 3:9b–10 is a
CTSJ 6:1 (January 2000) p. 15
textbook example highlighting the differences between possible usages and meanings of hoti.
Regarding Revelation 3:9b–10, two basic interpretive options are possible, the second having three variations: