Revelation 17:6 "and I wondered with great ADMIRATION."
There are many Bible critics, none of whom believes that ANY Bible in ANY language IS or ever was the complete, inspired and 100% true words of God, who criticize the King James Bible for the way it has translated this verse. They tell us that the word "admiration" has a positive sense and that there is no way John could look upon the Whore of Babylon with "admiration". Thus they accuse the King James Bible of being in error here.
Well, let's take a look at what the word translated as "admiration" means and what the apostle John, who was shown this vision, was wondering at with great admiration.
Not only does the King James Bible translate this word as "I wondered with great admiration" but so also do the Douay-Rheims bible of 1582, The Bill Bible 1671, Mace's New Testament of 1729, Whiston's Primitive New Testament 1745, Webster's 1833 translation, The Hussey N.T. 1845, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Evidence Bible 2003, the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - "I wondered with great ADMIRATION.", the Interlinear Hebrew-Greek Scriptures 2012 (Mebust), and The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - "I wondered when I had seen her, with great ADMIRATION."
Revelation 17:6 Greek NT: Textus Receptus (1894)
και ειδον την γυναικα μεθυουσαν εκ του αιματος των αγιων και εκ του αιματος των μαρτυρων ιησου και εθαυμασα ιδων αυτην θαυμα μεγα
6 - "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. "
There are several other foreign language bibles that also translate it in this way. Among these are the Latin Vulgate of 382 A.D., and the Clementine Vulgate of 1598 - "et miratus sum cum vidissem illam ADMIRATIONE magna ", The Portuguese Almeida Corregida 2009 - "maravilhei-me com grande admiração.", the Portuguese NIV Biblia Sagrada, Nova Versão Internacional 2000 - "Quando a vi, fiquei muito ADMIRADO.”, the Spanish Reina Valera Antigua and the Spanish Cipriano de Valera 1602 - "candy la vi, fyi maravillado con grande ADMIRACION.", Reina Valera of 1858, the Spanish Reina Valera of 1909 - "y cuando la vi, quedé maravillado de grande ADMIRACION."and The Romanian Fidela Bible 2014 - “m-am minunat cu mare ADMIRATIE.”
The meaning of the word "admiration" and related words -
Admiration = The feeling aroused by something strange and surprising. Wonder, marvel, amazement, astonishment approval
Astonishment = The feeling that accompanies something extremely surprising, admiration, amazement, approval, adoration
Marvel = Express astonishment or surprise about something marvelous, magnificent, majestic, glorious, wonder.
Wonder = a person, thing or event that causes astonishment and admiration.
The particular Greek words that are used here and translated as "I wondered with great admiration" are both the verb thaumazo = to marvel, wonder or have in admiration (Jude 16) and the noun form.
Divry's Modern Greek-English/ English-Greek Dictionary, which has nothing to do with the Bible but is a purely secular dictionary, tells us on page 19 when you look up the English word "admire" that the Greek word that expresses this is the same word used here in Revelation 17:6 - thaumazo. It is the only definition given. So in modern Greek the word still means "admiration" and "to admire", just as the King James Bible has it.
According to Thayer's Greek English Lexicon, Zondervan 1978 page 284 the noun thauma is used in Revelation 17:6 (he cites this verse specifically) and he defines it as "to admire, pay regard to."
According to Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon, University of Chicago Press 1957 on page 352-353 they tell us that the word thauma means "an object of wonder, a marvel" and that the verb form means "to admire or wonder at something".
Kittle's massive Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 3 tells us that the verb and noun derived from it mean: "to wonder at, to look on with astonishment, to esteem, to honour and to admire." He goes on to say that θαυμα can mean both "admiration" and also "miracle".
Let's take a look at some modern translations of this word.
New International Version 1984 - I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.
Catholic St. Joseph New American bible 1970 - "And when I saw her I was greatly astonished."
New Living Translation 2007 - I could see that she was drunk--drunk with the blood of God's holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her in complete amazement.
English Standard Version 2001 - And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.
New American Standard Bible 1995 - And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.
Catholic Douay Version 1950 - And when I saw her I wondered with a great wonder.
International Standard Version 2008 - I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. I was very surprised when I saw her.
Understandable Version - "And when I saw her, I was greatly amazed."
English Revised Version 1881 - And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I wondered with a great wonder.
Emphatic Diaglott New Testament 1864 - “And I wondered, having seen her a wonder great.
Concordant Literal Version 2009 - “And I marvel at perceiving her. The marvel is great!”
Conservative Bible 2011 - "when I saw her, I got the shock of my life."
Young's Literal Translation - And I saw the woman drunken from the blood of the saints, and from the blood of the witnesses of Jesus, and I did wonder -- having seen her -- with great wonder"
In this list you will notice that all of them seem to be implying that John was in wonder or amazement and marveling at what he saw and this is also the positive force of the English word "admiration".
In the very next verse we read - "And the angel said unto me, Wherefore DIDST THOU MARVEL? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns."
The apostle John was not perfect and neither are we. The visions the angel had been showing John were so amazing and marvelous, that he was overcome with emotion and in a very real way lost his sense of perspective.
Here is a first century man being transported in a vision to see the greatness, riches and the power of this woman (the false church) who "was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls".
If we were to walk into St. Peter's Basilica and see the amazing architecture, the outward beauty and riches of this huge building, we too would be overcome with a sense of admiration and wonder at such an amazing sight. That is why the angel says to him "Wherefore didst thou WONDER?" And then proceeds to further describe the true nature of this "harlot" and the judgment God will bring upon her and her children.
We also see the all too human weakness of John in Revelation 19:10 where we read: "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of they brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
Here the apostle John was wrongly about to worship an angel. The angel stopped him in his tracks and told him to worship God.
Not only this, but John did it a second time too! In Revelation 22:8-9 we again read: "And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God."
So, with these things in mind, when we go back and look at Revelation 17:6 and when John sees the woman sitting upon a scarlet coloured beast...decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations, he may very well have wondered with great admiration at the imposing wealth, power and influence of this Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.
Coffman’s Commentary on the Bible - “In some versions, this is wondered "with a great admiration." "This does not mean admiration in our modern sense." Despite Carpenter's opinion, HOWEVER, WE ARE INCLINED TO THINK THAT IT DOES MEAN “ADMIRATION” IN OUR MODERN SENSE; it was a startled, astonished kind of admiration, mingled with wonder.”
John Gill - “And when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration; not at the sight of the beast, which he had seen before, but at the sight of the woman, as, upon the beast; he wondered that one of her sex, generally timorous and fearful, should ride on such a monstrous creature; HE WAS AMAZED AT HER DRESS, AND GRAND APPEARANCE, whereas the church in his time consisted of poor persons, meanly arrayed; it was astonishing to him that one bearing the name of a Christian church should rise to such grandeur”
John Trapp’s Complete Commentary - “I wondered with great admiration - All things are portentous in the popedom”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the King James Bible in Revelation 17:6 nor in any other place. It is always right, whether we or the unbelievers in the Infallibility of any Bible understand it or not.
It is God's Book and Absolute Standard of written truth to the nations.
All of grace, believing The Book,
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