What are the arguments as to whether ἔρχομαι ταχύ (for example in Rev 3:11) should be translated as "I come quickly" or "I come soon", respectively.

I understand that both translations are linguistically correct. Yet, I think that there should be some internal evidences as to whether a translation can be preferred above another. I am looking for arguments so as to be able to make up my own mind.

1 Answer 1


The adverb ταχύ· is variously translated as 'soon' or 'quickly' in Rev 3:11, according to Friberg when the adverb form is used in reference to time it means "without delay, right away, at once"1 Louw Nida says the same citing examples from other scriptures:

67.56 ταχύa; ταχέωςb; ταχινόςb, ή, όν; ἐν τάχει: pertaining to a point of time subsequent to another point of time (either an event in the discourse or the time of the discourse itself), with emphasis upon the relatively brief interval between the two points of time—‘soon, very soon.’ ταχύa: οὐδεὶς γάρ ἐστιν ὃς ποιήσει δύναμιν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου καὶ δυνήσεται ταχὺ κακολογῆσαί με ‘no one performing a miracle in my name will be able soon afterward to say bad things about me’ Mk 9:39. ταχέωςb: ἐλπίζω δὲ ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Τιμόθεον ταχέως πέμψαι ὑμῖν ‘I trust in the Lord Jesus that I will be able to send Timothy to you soon’ Php 2:19. ταχινόςb: εἰδὼς ὅτι ταχινή ἐστιν ἡ ἀπόθεσις τοῦ σκηνώματός μου ‘I know that I shall soon put off this mortal body’ 2 Pe 1:14. ἐν τάχει: δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει ‘to show his servants what must happen soon’ Re 22:6.[Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, pp. 635–636). New York: United Bible Societies.]

A footnote in the Baker Exegetical Commentary explains:

The emphasis in ταχύ is on imminence, not swiftness. This does not mean Christ is coming “quickly” but “very soon” (as in 1:7; 22:7)

The point of the text therefore seems to be on the imminence of the Lord's return. It is close or near rather then the speed at which the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back as the 'quickly' might suggest in English.


1 [Fri] ταχύς, εῖα, ύ (1) as an adjective quick, prompt, ready (JA 1.19), opposite βραδύς (slow); (2) predominately, neuter singular ταχύ as an adverb; (a) as qualifying action quickly, swiftly, rapidly (MT 28.7); (b) as qualifying time without delay, right away, at once, soon (afterward) (MT 5.25); (3) comparative τάχιον; (a) more quickly, faster, sooner (JN 20.4); (b) without a time comparison quickly, without delay (JN 13.27); (4) superlative τάχιστα very quickly; with ὡς as soon as possible (AC 17.15) ταχύς A--NM-S ταχύς

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    Although...there are counter-examples showing that it can refer to swiftness, not imminence. E.g. Καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ταχὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης ἔδραμον ἀπαγγεῖλαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ (Mt 28:8 - cf. v.7, as pointed out in your footnote). Of course when it is used in reference to time it means “soon”, but the question here is whether it is indeed being used in reference to time (“When? Soon.”) or manner (“How? Quickly.”). (Note: I have no idea how to answer that question. :-))
    – Susan
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 7:48
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    (BTW, if you’re interested....in the LXX it almost always translates מהר (as used adverbially with a finite verb). Perhaps the common gloss of that Hebrew - to hastenhastily - provides an (albeit somewhat archaic) English alternative that can encompass both quickly and soon: “I come with haste.”)
    – Susan
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 7:59
  • @Susan thanks for your insights I will consider my answer again :D Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 14:32

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