Revelation 7:14 - "These are they which came out of GREAT TRIBULATION, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
"great tribulation" or "THE great tribulation"
The only reason I am addressing this verse is because there is one goofy anti-KJB site that claims the KJB has committed a gross translation error here by not including the definite article THE, which they say, is rightly restored in the NKJV.
These people are pro Textus Recptus but very much anti-King James Bible only. Of course they don't have or believe that ANY Bible in ANY language is the complete and inerrant words of God, and they have made themselves their own private "final authority".
First of all, the definite article in Greek is not always used like the definite article in English, and ALL major English translations I am aware of OFTEN "add" a definite article "the" when it is not there in the Greek text, and OFTEN when the definite article IS in the text, they don't translate it.
Since this anti-KJB site mentions the NKJV, I will take it as a typical example. I just got done examining the Greek Textus Recptus upon which both the NKJV and the KJB are primarily based. The NKJV does not always follow the same underlying Greek textual readings, but it usually does.
Side Note - For some concrete examples of where the NKJV departs from the same Greek text that underlies the King James Bible see my article here -
In this one chapter alone (Revelation chapter 7) the NKJV ADDS the definite article when it is not there in the Greek text SIXTEEN times, and when the definite article IS there, the NKJV OMITS it TWENTY times! All this in just one chapter!
Just by way of example, we will look at verses 12 and 13 of chapter 7. The NKJV OMITS the definite article when it IS in the text before the words "Blessing, glory, wisdom, Thanksgiving, honor, power, might, God, white and robes." All 10 of these words have a definite article before them. Yet the NKJV did not translate them.
Even in the verse under discussion, Revelation 7:14, the Greek text (TR) actually says "THE tribulation THE great" yet the NKJV only translated one of them and says "THE great tribulation" - της θλιψεως της μεγαλης.
The only other time the phrase "great tribulation" is used is in Matthew 24:21, and even then it does NOT have the definite article. The text says "For then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor every shall be."
Even in two other parts of the Book of Revelation the NKJV (and many others) did NOT translate the definite article before the word "tribulation"- της θλιψεως. In Revelation 1:9 we read: "I John, who also am your brother and companion in TRIBULATION (της θλιψεως), and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."
And again in Revelation 2:9 the Lord speaks to the angel of the church in Smyrna saying: "I know thy works, and TRIBULATION (της θλιψεως), and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
When we get to what is referred to in Revelation 7:14 as either "great tribulation" or "the great tribulation" we see that the context is of the 144,000 of 12 tribes of Israel and "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" that "stood before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands." These are those who came out of great tribulation.
The phrase "great tribulation" or even "THE great tribulation" could refer to either the entire course of all God's people in history who have suffered tribulation, or possibly to a specific period of time referred to by some as the last 7 years of tribulation on this earth. The text just doesn't say one way or the other, and you can read into EITHER reading the particular theological view you may have.
But the point I want to make is that the King James Bible is NOT in error for not translating a particular definite article or two that is found in a Greek text that often uses the definite article in a much different way than we do in English. And ALL major Bible translations do this very thing over and over again.
One of the uses of the definite article in Greek is to refer to a previous mention of this word. It is called the definite article of previous reference. And what we see in the book of Revelation is that the apostle John as well as all those to whom he wrote in the first century were already experiencing TRIBULATION, and since it had been and would continue to go on for at least 2000 years, this long period of time may be referred to as either "great tribulation" or "the great tribulation".
As the Lord Jesus told us in John 16:33 "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." And as the apostle Paul confirms the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and that "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22
Not only does the King James Bible say "These are they which came out of GREAT TRIBULATION (with no definite article "the"), and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" but so also do Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1534, Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, The Beza N.T. 1599, The Bill Bible 1671, the Mace N.T. 1729, Whiston's N.T. 1745, Haweis N.T. 1795, The Thomson Bible 1808, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster's translation 1833, The Living Oracles 1835 "come out of much tribulation", The Pickering N.T. 1840, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853 - "came out of great affliction", The Sawyer N.T. 1858, The Smith Bible 1876 - "coming out of great pressure", The Fenton Bible 1966, William Godbey N.T. 1902 - "coming up out of great tribulation", Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta 1933, The Word of Yah 1993, The KJV 21st Century Version 1994, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson New Testament 2002, The Evidence Bible 2003, The Resurrection Life New Testament 2005 (Vince Garcia), Bond Slave Version 2009, the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, The Jubilee Bible 2010, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, and the Modern English Version 2014.
Other Versions -
John Wesley's N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770 - "who come out of great affliction"
Murdock translation 1852, Sawyer N.T. 1858, Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010 - "came out from great affliction",
Weymouth 1912 - "passed through the great distress"
American Bible Union N.T. 1865, Faithful N.T. 1999, Concordant Version 2006 - "came out of the great affliction"
Bible in Basic English 1961 - "who came through the great testing"
Twentieth Century N.T. 1904 - "come through the Great Persecution"
New Life Version 1969 - "who came out of the time of much trouble"
The Worldwide English New Testament 1998 - “These are the people who have had much trouble.”
The New American Bible Revised 2010 - “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress”
Conservative Bible 2011 - "came out of the Great Oppression"
A Translation for Translators 2011 - “These are the people whom others have caused to suffer greatly”
International Standard Version 2014 - "who are coming out of the terrible suffering"
The Common English Bible 2011 - “These people have come out of great hardship.”
The Names of God Bible 2011 - “These are the people who are coming out of the terrible suffering.”
The Voice 2012 - “These are coming from the time of great suffering and affliction.”
The Jonathan Mitchell N.T. 2014 - "These are the ones continuously coming forth from out of the midst of great pressure"
Bible commentators are all over the board regarding who this great multitude is and what is the "great tribulation" spoken of through which they have come. But many held the view that the long history of God's people is in view. Here are a few of them.
John Gill - “these are they which came out of great tribulation: seeing this company designs all the elect of God, that ever were, are, or shall be in the world; "the great tribulation," out of which they came, is not to be restrained to any particular time of trouble, but includes all that has been, is, or shall be; as all the afflictions of the saints under the Old Testament; from righteous Abel to Zechariah; and all the troubles of the people of God in the times of the Maccabees, Hebrews 11:35; all the persecutions of the Christians by the Jews, at the first publication of the Gospel; and the persecutions under the Roman emperors, both Pagan and Arian; and the cruelties and barbarities of the Romish antichrist, during the whole time of the apostasy; and particularly the last struggle of the beast, which will be the hour of temptation, that will come upon all the world; and in general all the afflictions, reproaches, persecutions, and many tribulations of all the saints, and every member of Christ in this world”
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown - “including also retrospectively all the tribulation which the saints of all ages have had to pass through.”
Burkitt’s Commentary - “The present state and condition of the church of God, and members of Christ in this world, they are in tribulation, yea, in great tribulation here; as long as there is a devil, and wicked men upon earth, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer tribulation.”
John Wesley - “These are they - Not martyrs; for these are not such a multitude as no man can number. But as all the angels appear here, so do all the souls of the righteous who had lived from the beginning of the world. Who come - He does not say, who did come; but, who come now also: to whom, likewise, pertain all who will come hereafter. Out of great affliction - Of various kinds, wisely and graciously allotted by God to all his children.”
Matthew Henry - “notice is taken here of the low and desolate state they had formerly been in; they had been in great tribulation, persecuted by men, tempted by Satan, sometimes troubled in their own spirits; they had suffered the spoiling of their goods, the imprisonment of their persons, yea, the loss of life itself. The way to heaven lies through many tribulations; but tribulation, how great soever, shall not separate us from the love of God. Tribulation, when gone through well, will make heaven more welcome and more glorious."
All of grace, believing the Book - The King James Holy Bible
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