Who is tormented? (Rev 14:11) — Mondays with Mounce 236
The third angel cries, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and (καί) receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath ... and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and (καί) whoever receives the mark of its name” (Rev 14:9-11).
I was asked if there are one or two groups of people who will be punished: those who worshipped the beast; those who received the mark. What raised the question was the differences in translations.
“And” is used by NASB, ESV, NRSV, NLT and KJV implying there are two groups and a person has to do both: worship; receive the mark. “Or” is used by the NIV, suggesting there are two groups and you only have to do one of the acts. The NET uses “along with,” suggesting you have to do both.
And to make it really confusing, the TEV says, “There is no relief day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, for anyone who has the mark of its name,” thus making it one group, apparently suggesting that anyone who worships the beast also has the mark of his name.
At the root of the confusion is the simple καί. If it is the normal connective, it means “and.” If it is the common epexegetical (TEV), it means there is only one group with multiple characteristics.
I can find no support in BDAG for the NIV “or”; however, I have never seen a random translation (i.e., one without a reason) so I have to assume there is some reason for the “or.” But then again, the NIV uses “and” in v 9, so this may be an inconsistency.
I would imagine that anyone worshipping the beast will at the same time have received his mark, and so the simple “and” seems best. But the TEV does show that almost every word requires interpretation in the process of translation, even something as simple as καί.
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.
Learn more about Bill's Greek resources at Teknia.com and visit his blog on spiritual growth at BiblicalTraining.org/blog/life-journey.
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