Vol. 6, No. 5
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A converted prisoner in the Joseph Harp Correctional Center, Lexington, OK, who is a careful Bible student, grows in the "knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). Now I learn he also is studying the Greek New Testament! I am amazed! He writes wanting to know why there is a "mistranslation of basileia" in the NKJV in Revelation 1:6: Christ "has made us kings and priests to His God and Father." Jerry's point is that basileia means "kingdom," not "kings."
The explanation is that the NKJV scholars, and the 54 KJV scholars before them, followed the Greek manuscript P, which has the word basileis, "kings." Furthermore, the context in Revelation 1:6 calls for "kings," not "kingdom." It is awkward to say that Christ "made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father" (ASV). Much smoother it is to say Christ "made us to be kings, to be priests unto his God and Father."
If someone insists on following the Greek manuscripts that have the word "kingdom" (as A), then parallel to "kingdom" would not be "priests," but a "priesthood" (hierateuma, cf. 1 Peter 2:5, 9), and making the translation Christ "made us a kingdom and a priesthood." But the translation "kings" (of P) is parallel to "priests" and so a translation would be Christ "made us to be kings, to be priests." I am sorry I did not use those words in my printed translation of the New Testament.
A parallel passage to Revelation 1:6 is 5:10, with the resulting awkwardness of associating "kingdom" and "priests": "and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests" (ASV, following manuscript A). The awkwardness disappears by saying "and made us unto our God kings and priests" (KJV, NKJV). It is awkward to say "they reign upon the earth" if the "they" points to "a kingdom and priests."
However, the KJV and the NKJV err in the last part of Revelation 5:10 in following the manuscripts that say that the kings and priests "shall reign [basileusousin] on the earth." Accuracy calls for the translation of manuscripts that use the present tense: "they reign [basileuousin] upon the earth" (ASV). The reigning of the kings and queens (all Christians) and the service of all priests (all Christians) are now "upon the earth" over their bodies: "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body" (Romans 6:12). The earthly reign of kings and queens ceases when they are "caught up together" in "the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" and they "will always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).