Re: ZELEUW in Rev 3:19

From: John M. Sweigart (
Date: Wed Oct 15 1997 - 11:17:02 EDT

Adamsen, Georg wrote:
> Greetings,
> I am having difficulty with the verb ZELEUW in Rev 3:19. The form of
> the verb is very unusual (the usual form being zelow). It seems to be
> attested only in the 5. or 6. century and in a v.l. of a Democrit
> manuscript which is - unfortunately - not dated by Liddell-Scott.
> Bauer-Aland as well as Liddell-Scott 9.ed with 1996-supplement take
> the meaning as 'to be zealous for' or something like that.
> The standard dictionaries (e.g. Kittel's ThWNT / TDNT and Brown's
> NIDNTT) have very short discussions if any.
> The commentaries (e.g. Caird, Giblin, Mueller (1995), Rowland,
> Charles, Bousset, Zahn (who does not translate the two imperatives at
> all), Beasley-Murray, Ladd (who treats it as the opposite of the
> Laodiceans' complacency but where is that indicated?) Wall, Morris
> and Mounce). do not treat this problem except for very small notices.
> The exception is Thomas (Revelation 1-7 p. 305f and 319f) takes it to
> denote the "new habit to be embraced" in opposition to the
> lukewarmness denoting indifference while hotness and coldness denotes
> faith and open hostility and rejection, respectively.
> I think, however, that Thomas has misunderstood the opinion of e.g.
> Rudwick-Green, Wood and Hemer. The hotness and coldness are two
> positive metaphors denoting usefulness, i.e. faith working through
> love and are the opposite of the lukewarmness: the uselessness or -
> with other words - the spiritual death, complacency, self-deceit
> etc.
> So how can 'zealousness' function as an appropriate "answer" to the
> Jesus' harsh critique? Does ZELEUW mean 'to be zealous for' at all?
> if not, what does it mean then?
> Bousset and some of the commentaries mentioned above take the
> "present" aspect as indicating the continuous attitudem but how can
> zealousness be related to their self-delusion? So what is the object
> of the zealousness? is it METANOHSON so that we have in effect as
> kind of hendiadys? or does it not imply any "object" ?
> is the zealousness the basis of repentance or vice
> versa? or is it a rather "weak" verb acting almost in stead of an
> intensifying adverb? something like 'repent eagerly' or 'seriously' ?
> Rev 3:19a is clearly sapiential vocabulary and is well-known. ZELOW
> is also used quite often in sapiential texts but always in rather
> different contexts. So the use of ZELOW in OT and NT does not help me
> as far as I can see.
> The classical Greek usage may indicate (LS s.v. ZELOW) a meaning of
> 'desire emulously' or 'strive after', but one should perhaps expect
> a acc.rei if this meaning should be an option ?
> Is the rather special form -EUW in stead of -OW an indication that
> the meaning of the verb is rather special or perhaps different of
> ZELOW ???
> Any suggestions are welcome!
> Georg S. Adamsen
> the Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus, Denmark
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This may be helpful. The preceding comment says something like "as many
as I love PHILEW these I cross-examine and correct. THEREFORE, become
zealous?? and repent. In the OT every character that was zealous for
God, namely Phineas, Elijah in his interview with God, and Jehu when he
was destroying and killing were "taking action on behalf of God."
Repentance in this context could be taken in an OT covenant sense of
"turning from one object of loyalty to another."


Rev. John M. Sweigart Box 895 Dover, Arkansas 72837 Cumberland Presbyterian Church __________________________________

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