Rev 19:8 Righteousness/Righteous deeds?
msangrey at BlueFeltHat.org
Tue Oct 15 11:38:15 EDT 2002
On Tue, 2002-10-15 at 13:41, nick lunn wrote:
> Revelation 19:7-8 (NIV) says:-
> Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the
> Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
> Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen
> stands for the righteous acts [TA DIKAIWMATA] of the saints.)
> Just about every English version I consulted translates TA DIKAIWMATA
> as 'righteous acts', 'righteous deeds' or 'good deeds'.
> If this is a correct translation of this neuter plural noun, then I
> find it strange. Such a reading seems to go against the Pauline
> doctrine of justification by faith rather than by works. But more than
> that, in this context (and elsewhere in Revelation, e.g. 3:18) the
> garments are said to be 'given', that is, they are not naturally our
> My question is: Is there anything to support the interpretation of
> this plural noun as signifying 'righteousness'? This is how the old
> KJV renders it. I note that Leon Morris in his commentary on the
> Revelation (Tyndale) understands the word in terms of a 'sentence of
> justification', that is, the divine pronouncement of acquittal
> bestowed upon each faithful believer - hence, he says, the plural
> form. Can this comment be substantiated?
Let me steer clear of the theological issues and yet give you some
information to answer those questions yourself.
Along with Carlton Winbery, my mind went immediately to the MA ending
and the sense of "result" which it brings. I'll also note Louw & Nida
mention `acquit' as a potential gloss. Interestingly, under the gloss
of "righteous act" they cite Rom 5:18; however, they ALSO cite that same
verse under the gloss "acquit". The later reference defines DIKAIWMA as
"the act of clearing someone of transgression -- `to acquit, to set
free, to remove guilt, acquiittal.'"
The word also occurs in Rev. 15:4 where it is clearly God who performs
the act of DIKAIWMA.
Not intending to appear anachronistic, my own view (currently :-) is
that a close, but not perfect, parallel of the meaning is what we refer
to in the U.S. by the phrase "a judicial opinion." The idea being that
the judge looks at the evidence, reviews the current laws and the intent
of the Constitution, and renders an "opinion" which, in effect, carries
the force of law in a specific case and thereby states the right way of
doing something. The term "opinion" is somewhat unfortunate because of
its other nuances. However, the key is that the result is a ruling
which is consistent with the contract (covenant) the state has with its
people. Though we are frequently not cognizant of the contract, it
nevertheless is always there or the foundations of law crumble into
Now, how does this work out in the 10 cases seen in the NT?
Heb. 9:1 -- Note the connection between DIKAIWMA and DIAQHKH, here
referred to by PRWTOS. DIAQHKH occurs several times in chapter 8. Now,
DIKAIWMA refers directly to the regulations (and that's a pretty good
translation) but THEY ARE REGULATIONS BASED ON A COVENANT WHICH **WAS**
IN PLACE. That's the author's whole point in this passage. In other
words, there is the covenant and there is the application of that
covenant by way of judicial opinions regarding how that covenant is to
be lived out or enacted in specific cases. These cases are how the
earthly temple system is to work as a mirror of the heavenly one.
Heb. 9:10 -- Essentially the same, but note the statement that the
regulations (the judicial opinions) go away with a change in covenant.
So, again, there's this inviolate connection between `covenant' and
Luke 1:6 -- Zechariah observed not only the explicit rules, but
additionally the judicial opinions. However, I'm inclined to view this
copula as a Hebrew idiom and thus TAIS ENTOLAIS KAI DIKAIWMASIN refers
to the whole. Interestingly, the U.S. (and like many others) law system
works just like this--the two are combined.
Rev. 15:4 -- Read this and, at the end of the verse, think in terms of
"...for your judicial opinions have been rendered." This occurrence is
clearly referring to God as subject of the action implicit in DIKAIWMA.
Rev. 19:8 -- The genitive AGIWN is...well...a genitive. Ambiguous
creatures--"impenetrability, I say. (with apoligies to Lewis Carrol)."
It seems to me, if I'm right about the idea of "judicial opinions" that
the genitive would clearly be understood as "for the saints" and not be
thought of as a subjective genitive. In other words, the fine linen
stands for the judicial opinions rendered by God which pronounce the
saints as guiltless given the evidence of the successful ascent to the
throne of Jesus.
Rom. 1:32 -- Judicial opinions so far rendered by God clearly indicate
that a certain class of people deserve death.
Rom. 2:26 -- If people live lives consistent with the judicial opinions,
then won't they be viewed as having covenant membership? That is, won't
they be viewed as having the badge of covenant membership--
circumcision? That's how Paul is arguing his point here.
Rom. 5:16 -- DIKAIWMA stands at the other pole from KATAKRIMA.
KATAKRIMA has the force of a "you are guilty" verdict which condems the
person. I'm suggesting DIKAIWMA has the force of a judicial opinion
which then becomes more broadly (in the forensic sense and not the
universalism sense) applicable. However, BAGD makes a good point by
saying DIKAIWMA stands for DIKAIOSUNH.
Rom. 5:18 -- same as 5:16
Rom. 8:4 -- I think of TO DIKAIWMA TOU NOMOU as "God's judicial opinions
as revealed in the Torah" Again, note the juxtaposition to KATAKRINW.
So, now that you've got through the long version <smile>, the short
version is that in every case the subject of the implicit action within
DIKAIWMA is God (or more generally speaking, the judge) and therefore,
ISTM, Rev. 19:8 will need to be consistent with that sense. I currently
disagree with Louw & Nida, et al, that DIKAIWMA can mean "righteous
deed"; however, I have not researched the extra-Biblical references and,
in fact, would love to see if what I say above fits those cases.
msangrey at BlueFeltHat.org
"The first one last wins."
"A net of highly cohesive details reveals the truth."
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