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Revelation 22:20 (KJV):

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

There is a veritable plethora of questions on this site and SE-Christianity about how to interpret this verse, the implications for preterism, and so on. This is not my question.

My question is about the various meanings of "quick", and which are possible in context.

4 of the definitions of quick from Merriam-Webster stand out:

  1. done or taking place with rapidity
  2. fast in understanding, thinking, or learning : mentally agile
  3. not dead : LIVING, ALIVE
  4. archaic : not stagnant

The Greek word is ταχύ, Strong's 5035.

This could mean that He is coming soon, that He will be very sharp/astute at His coming, that He will come alive, or that His work leading to His coming is not stagnant, but continually progressing.

Which of these meanings of "quick" are relevant to the Greek ταχύ? Which are appropriate in context?


Clarification--the "suddenly" vs. "soon" debate is an interesting one, but has already been covered here: Rev 3:11 I come quickly vs I come soon. Both would fall under definition 1 above, which is more or less the default assumption.

I'm interested in what (if anything) there is to be said in evaluating the other definitions (2-4) cited above.

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  • Is there any debate that the appropriate meaning is 1.? Strong's says "Quickly, speedily. Neuter singular of tachus; shortly, i.e. Without delay, soon, or suddenly, or readily." Nothing about looking sharp, coming alive, or not being stagnant. May 8 at 18:20
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    @One God the Father that would indeed seem to be the most common read of the passage. I encountered the 4th definition recently--a meaning I'd never read before--and wanted to better explore the word. Thanks for fixing my transposition of the numbers =) May 8 at 20:11
  • @OneGodtheFather—Yes. It could mean that when he does come, he comes rapidly. Or, it could mean that he would be coming soon, rather than at a distant time in the future. May 8 at 21:14
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    @DerÜbermensch It seems pretty obvious to me John meant 'soon' (look at 22:10 "the time is near"), but either way, I don't think that's what HoldToTheRod's question is asking. Rather, I think he's asking whether it could be one of the meanings 2.-4. May 8 at 22:35
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    This question is essentially a duplicate of the following question: Rev 3:11 I come quickly vs I come soon May 8 at 22:54
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The adverb of time, ταχύ occurs 12 times in the NT; six times in the book of Revelation alone, the other six in the Gospels. According to BDAG, in all except Mark 9:39, 16:8 and Matt 28:8, the word means "without delay, quickly, at once".

In every instance in Revelation, the word occurs in the phrase, ἔρχομαι ταχύ (= I am coming soon/quickly), Rev 2:16, 3:11, 11:14, 22:7, 12, 20.

Therefore, the meaning is NONE of these listed by the OP but means "soon", "without delay". In view of the more than 2000 years since Jesus was born, what are we to make of this (to us) obvious delay? There have been several proposed solutions to this dilemma:

  • The apparent delay (ie, not "soon") is only apparent to humans as God uses a different meaning of time as per Ps 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8
  • For any one of us, death is could only be a heart-beat away and then we would experience the resurrection and the coming of Jesus
  • The magnitude of the task to preach the Gospel to the world means that we have not got enough time time and so the coming of Jesus would be too soon

... and so forth. I believe the important point is that stated by Jesus, in matt 24:

  • V36 - No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
  • V42 - Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day on which your Lord will come.

Thus, it is important to be continuously ready for the Lord to return.

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  • +1 Missed an important solution, Jesus came when He said He would, a few years after John wrote Revelation in AD 70. May 9 at 1:56
  • @OneGodtheFather - I thought that most scholars agreed that Revelation was written around AD 95. Jun 23 at 14:43
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator The scholars who think that are wrong on this (as they are on all sorts of things). Trace the evidential tree, and you'll find that dating mostly depends on 1 line written a long time after by a Church Father. Internal evidence suggests pre-Second Temple destruction. ... Jun 23 at 16:29
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator ... For ex., see equip.org/hank_speaks_out/dating-the-book-of-revelation "it’s instructive to note that the late dating for Revelation is largely dependent on a single — and markedly ambiguous — sentence in the writings of a church father named Irenaeus [...] Moreover, the credibility of Irenaeus as a source is called into question by his contention in the same volume that Jesus was crucified when he was about fifty years of age." ... Jun 23 at 16:30
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    @OneGodtheFather - relevant question: Revelation: Before or after AD70? Jun 23 at 16:43
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Because the Book of Revelation was written in Greek, we are not concerned with the meaning of “quick” or “quickly,” but rather the Greek word ταχύ. Therefore, an English dictionary is not an appropriate reference to cite. Instead, we should be citing a Greek lexicon.

There is absolutely nothing in LSJ’s entry1 for ταχύς that suggests ταχύ possesses the meaning of “not dead” or “not stagnant.”

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Footnotes

        1 p. 1762, τᾰχύς


References

Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; et al. A Greek-English Lexicon. 9th ed. with revised supplement. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.

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