Re: Revelation 14:6 (The Everlasting Gospel)

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 25 Nov 1996 05:45:46 -0600

At 12:35 AM -0600 11/25/96, wrote:
> I am only in my first semester of koine greek and need some help from
>the learned. My question concerns Revelation 14:6 which is translated in
>the KJV as follows:
> "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having THE
>EVERLASTING GOSPEL to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every
>nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, " etc. (emphasis added)
> The Greek text is as follows: (I hope I have the transliteration
> Since there is no article before EUAGGELION, why is this translated as
>THE everlasting gospel? It seems that a more valid translation might be "an
>everlasting gospel" or "everlasting good news" or perhaps even "eternal good
>news" without using the article.
> Some other translations that translate the phrase using an article
>are as follows:
> (NIV) Then I saw another angel, flying in midair, and he had THE
>eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-to every nation,
>tribe, language and people.
>(emphasis added)
> (JER) Then I saw another angel, flying high overhead, sent to announce
>THE Good News of eternity to all who live on the earth, every nation, race,
>language and tribe. (emphasis added)
> The NRSV translates the phrase without the definite article:
> (NRSV) Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal
>gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth-to every nation and tribe and
>language and people.
> Any help you can provide in sorting this out would be helpful. It seems
>to me that the translators may be translating the phrase as "the everlasting
>gospel" for theological reasons to remain consistent with the idea that the
>gospel of salvation must be preached to all the world (Matthew 28:19 & Mark
>16:15) but I am only speculating. The message of the angel in Rev. 14:6
>appears quite different, however, as it refers to the coming hour of the
>judgement of God not the gospel of salvation.
> Is the EUAGGELION a unique noun that is treated as a proper noun and the
>article therefore omitted? I am obviously in over my head. Thanks in
>advance for any help you can provide.

One major problem with Revelation is that, although it is readable without
any great difficulty, it adheres to standard grammatical usage less than
any other NT document. Nevertheless, my own view is that NRSV probably does
better than the other versions in omitting any definite article, thereby
preserving the potential ambiguity of the Greek text. Unless there are very
clear reasons for resolving the ambiguity in one direction or another, I
would question doing so. I think that your interpretation is a reasonable
one--that the "good news" here is the approaching consummation of
salvation, but I don't see any clear way of being confident of the intent
of the original writer.

This is not much help, I fear; but I think it was a good question to raise,
and I'll be interested to see what others have to say about it.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR