Questions From Readers
● In the statement at Revelation 5:10, “they will rule as kings over the earth,” why does the New World Translation use the word “over,” while other translations, such as the King James Version, American Standard Version, Douay and Diaglott, use “on”?—J. D. J., U.S.A.
The New World Translation at Revelation 5:10 renders the Greek preposition epí in connection with the earth as “over” the same as it renders the identical preposition followed by the genitive (possessive) case as “over” in Revelation 9:11 and Re 11:6. “They have over them a king.” “They have authority over the waters.” Thus you see that this preposition followed by the genitive case does not in every instance have the meaning of “upon” or “on.” This preposition, epí, followed by the genitive case, may refer to place in answer to the question, “Where?” and may thus signify “upon, on, in, at, near,” but it may also refer to a position as above or as denoting pre-eminence. Thus we read at Matthew 2:22 that Archelaus was king “of” or “over” Judea, and at Ephesians 4:6 that God is “over” all. Also, it may refer to one’s being over a business or an office, as at Acts 6:3, where we read of the apostles searching out seven qualified brothers to “appoint them over this necessary business.” See also Acts 8:27; 12:20.
So in Revelation 5:10 it refers to being over the earth as rulers, not being exactly on the earth, because the rest of Revelation as well as other texts of the Christian Greek Scriptures show that Jesus Christ and his joint heirs of the Kingdom will rule in heaven, which is the throne of God, whereas the earth is merely the footstool and therefore not the place for the glorified Christ to rule. Consistent translators who render things contextually will therefore render this expression in Revelation 5:10 as “over the earth.” Thus the Complete Bible in Modern English by Ferrar Fenton renders the verse: “And have made them into a Kingdom and priests for our God; and they will reign over the earth.” See also An American Translation by Edgar Goodspeed and J. M. P. Smith.
The above instance drives home the truth that the Bible cannot be properly translated without knowledge and understanding of the purposes of God.
● Why do Jehovah’s witnesses take the number 144,000 at Revelation 7 literally and not symbolically as they do other numbers in the book of Revelation?—G. S., U.S.A.
Not all the numbers in the book of Revelation are to be understood symbolically. The seven seals and seven bowls were literally seven, as shown by Light, Books I and II. (Rev. 5:1; 16:1) The forty-two months and the 1,260 days had literal fulfillments, even as will the thousand years of Christ’s reign. (Rev. 11:2; 12:6; 20:2, 3, 6, 7) As for the number 144,000 it is reasonable to take this number literally because of its being contrasted with the “great crowd” that no man was able to number. (Rev. 7:9) Further, at Revelation 14:1, 3, we read of Jesus Christ as standing upon the mount Zion together with 144,000 others. The 144,000 would logically be as literal as the 1, making a total of 144,001 standing upon the mount. Besides, why give such a large and specific number if it does not impart information?
Apparently those who have difficulty in accepting this number as being literal are those who believe that heaven is the destiny of all gaining salvation. However, when we realize that only the spiritual seed of Abraham, Christ and those who “belong to Christ,” will receive the heavenly reward, whereas the vast majority of humankind will enjoy everlasting life on earth as members of all the nations that will bless themselves in Abraham’s seed, then the number 144,000 presents no problem. (Gen. 22:17, 18; Gal. 3:16, 29) Further, did not Jesus state that the number of those gaining the heavenly reward would be small? “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” Compared to the billions of mankind that will eventually fill the earth, the 144,000 are relatively few.—Luke 12:32.