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In Revelation 4:8 the Lord is referred to as:

Lord God Almighty

The Greek is

Κύριος ὁ Θεός ὁ Παντοκράτωρ

Literally: Lord the God the Almighty (the Greek is idiomatic and we wouldn't actually render it in English that way)

All 3 nouns are nominative masculine singular, and there would have been no punctuation in the original. In this specific clause there are no verbs and no adjectives. How do these nouns interact with each other?

  • Do they modify each other? (the Lord who is God who is Almighty)
  • Are 2 (or all 3) being used as titles?
  • Are they describing attributes of God?
  • Are they all intended as references to the same Person?
  • Something else?

English doesn't have a syntax comparable to this expression in Greek; I'd like to better understand what is intended, and why it would be expressed this way, rather than using adjectives to modify the nouns and/or verbs (such as ἐστιν) to connect them.

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  • Just three titles. Nothing complicated.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 2:07
  • @Dottard thank you. I gathered that that is true; I would, however, appreciate a better grammatical grasp for why that is true. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 2:53
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    Apparently, we have here a case of the divine name YHWH, or JHVH, having been eliminated from the Greek text by copyists and substituted by Ky'ri.os (Lord), so we actually should have Name/Title/Title, as in ... Yahweh/Jehovah God, the Almighty ... Just as @Alex Balilo has implied below. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 9:26
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    @OldeEnglish - you have stated that assertion previously and I am still waiting for some manuscript evidence that early copyists changed the divine name. I am unaware of any but would be interested to discover if this is true or whether it is a pious (but hopeful) myth.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 21:53
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    Check out R.H. Charles' ICC on this passage (the preceding discussion on allusions to Second Temple Jewish apocalyptic literature is also illuminating). Specifically note the author's choice of παντοκράτωρ (following the prophets other than Isaiah) rather than σαβαώθ (following Isaiah, which the Trisagion/Tersanctus alludes to). Cf. commentary on 1:8.
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 5:04

7 Answers 7

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The One who is addressed is clear from the following verses.

It is One who 'sits' on the throne.

But we know that God is Spirit. Spirit, unembodied, does not 'sit'. John 4:24.

True, He 'dwelleth the cherubim' but 'between' is an insertion not in the Hebrew. And the ark is a coffer (see the last verse of Genesis) not a sedan chair. 'Dwelleth the cherubim' is a spiritual concept regarding the union of Deity with humanity. Isaiah 37:16, 2 Kings 19:15, Psalm 99:1.

But in the midst of the throne is the One who is 'the Lion of the tribe of Judah'. It is the Lamb who is able to open the book that is in the hand of 'him who sat on the throne'.

And yet the Lamb is 'in the midst of the throne'.

And the Lamb - who is in the midst of the throne - has seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God.

The whole vision, of one who is 'holy, holy, holy Lord' is a matter of embodiment and enthronement.

Enthroned, is One who has a book, and in the midst is one who takes the book, and part of he, himself, is a seven-fold expression of Spirit.

This is the One who is 'holy, holy, holy'.

The grammar, alone, does not explain the meaning. 'Holy' is an adjective. And three adjectives are supplied.

And three Persons are described, in vision.

And these three are 'One'. The 'One' who sits, is seated, in humanity, God over all, blessed for ever, Romans 9:5.


'Lord' is a form of address. 'God' is a concept. 'Almighty' is a description.

The Lord who is 'holy, holy, holy' is one Lord.

There is 'glory in the Church, by Jesus Christ' to Him who is able to do above all that we ask or think, Ephesians 3:21. And those who are gathered are urged to unity : the unity of One Spirit, Ephesians 4:3.

Now, 'the Lord is that Spirit' 2 Corinthians 3:17. 'One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,' Ephesians 4:4-6.

Yet, here, in the midst of a throne upon which 'One', who is Spirit, sits -there is a Lamb. And part of Him, is an embodiment of the seven-fold Spirit.

And the 'Lord' is said to be 'holy, holy, holy'.

This is 'the God' (the Deity) who is 'Almighty'.

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  • Comments are not for theological debate - they are for constructive criticism or clarification requests; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 13:02
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    Three repetitions of Holy, three attributions of God, three expressions of eternality, three personages on one throne. +1 Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 14:35
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    @Mike Borden and Nigel J. There is only one person sitting on the the throne, Revelation 19:4,6. The Aramaic in Plain English Bible translate this verse as "LORD JEHOVAH God Almighty.”. There is only one God Almighty in the bible. Please show if this three personages are also called God Almighty and that these three personages on one throne. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 17:13
  • @AlexBalilo Please see the Moderator's comment above. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 22:02
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It is called the attributive. Adjectives functioning as noun. Participles can also function as adjectives and nouns when used as attributive. The attributes can be as many as you want. The noun they modify is called head noun or term.

Here in Rev 1:8 there are 7 attributives, one of which is a participle (the coming: ho erxomenos). Byzantine text adds "beginning and end" to explain alpha omega. NA Rev 1:8

Revelation 1:8 “Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ, λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ.”

“Ἐγώ (I) εἰμι (am) τὸ (the) Ἄλφα (Alpha) καὶ (and) τὸ (the) Ὦ (Omega),” λέγει (says) Κύριος (Lord) ὁ (-) Θεός (God), ὁ (the) ὢν (being), καὶ (and) ὁ (who) ἦν (was), καὶ (and) ὁ (who) ἐρχόμενος (is coming), ὁ (the) Παντοκράτωρ (Almighty)

There are three ways adjectives function in English, the same is for Greek: attributive, predicative and substantive. Even though a word is technically an adjective, we sometimes use it like a noun. In the two following examples the adjectives good, bad, and dead are used in noun slots.

Both the good and the bad are here.

The dead will rise.

Contrast similar statements using nouns.

Both dogs and cats are here.

The flag will rise.

article ► noun ► article ► adjective ὁ θεὸς ὁ ἅγιος, “the holy God”. That is "Article-Noun-Article-Adjective". (This is called the restrictive use of the attribute position). Rather than merely ascribing a quality to the noun, this form gives a little more emphasis to that quality represented by the adjective and helps to set this noun apart from other ones without this quality. (See ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός The good Shephard). Although in the attributive use the adjective usually comes after the definite article (associated with the noun), if the noun it is modifying does not have a definite article associated with it (i.e. it is anarthrous), one can only tell by context whether it is in the attributive or predicate position.

Substantival Use of Greek Adjectives

The adjective can also be used alone (with or without the article) as a noun (substantive).

When ordering a beverage, we may say, “I’ll have a large.” A large what? Large is an adjective and adjectives modify nouns, but there is no explicitly stated noun that is modified by large in this example. The adjective large is functioning as a substantive. See more

For example, the neuter, plural adjective for "living" would mean "the living" as opposed to "the dead." An example from Galatians 1:1 is "...God the Father, who raised Him (Christ) from among the dead." The word 'dead' is a genitive, plural adjective (either neuter or masculine -- probably neuter). It means "the dead" or, possibly, "the dead ones" or "the dead men." Notice also that in Greek the adjective "raised" is actually an attributive adjectival use of on aorist participle.

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Your literal translation "Lord the God the Almighty" is serviceable-- this is essentially a subject that has qualifiers tacked onto it from both ends. In Greek, adjectives take the case of the nouns they modify, and there are two main ways to formulate them, both forms being employed here.

What makes it clear that we're dealing with adjectives here is the lack on an article to start. The dropped article at the beginning shifts the emphasis off of that leading word and onto the nominative noun at the middle of the construction. The second full article-noun construction in the same nominative case in this string simply continues on clarifying the subject at the center.

If this is tickling your brain, a good Greek grammar like Duff's Elements of NT Greek will tickle your brain considerably. There are a few things going on in the logic of Greek that allows for some constructions that allow for a degree of concision and directness that English simply does not have available to it. Getting at John 1 in the Greek is its own gateway.

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I will try to answer as I feel it.

  1. "Do they modify each other?" No, I don't think so.
  2. Are 2 (or all 3) being used as titles? Perhaps, in some historical periods and in some scholar contexts.
  3. Are they describing attributes of God? Yes, but nowhere in the utterance is implied that the list is exhaustive.
  4. Are they all intended as references to the same Person? Definitely yes.
  5. Something else? Think of this utterance as analogous to expressions building from ground up: Example: Dome -> Iron Dome, Big Iron Dome with Dome <-> Lord and the rest as adjectives.

In any case, the important point, is that this kind of utterances in Greek is such that at no point, no matter how many adjectives are added, the final notion is concrete and uniquely defined. What I mean is this: There are many terminals around the planet. It is legitimate to say "NY-Grand-Central Terminal" and by this way pinpoint a unique Terminal and know what we are talking about. In Greek this is not legitimate. The final buildup is never defined but must be taken in a poetic sense, very common in Homeric texts.

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  • Can you proffer any evidence to support these assertions?
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 21:54
  • I've made a lot of assertions. Do you have something particular in mind? I would be glad to help, if I can. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 0:24
  • How about, "In Greek this is not legitimate"; "very common in Homeric texts", etc
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 1:51
  • Oh, that. This is the easiest. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 12:23
  • Sorry, I pressed enter by mistake. Βαθυδίνης Ωκεανός, δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς, ἑκηβόλου Ἀπόλλωνος. In fact in Homer rarely a noun is without at least one adjective. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 12:32
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The word/title Παντοκράτωρ always occurs as a title of the Father:

  • 2 Cor 6:18 And: “I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” [Note that there is no article for either title here.]
  • Rev 1:8 - “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come—the Almighty.
  • Rev 4:8 - And each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around and within. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
  • Rev 11:17 - saying: “We give thanks to You, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
  • Rev 15:3 - and they sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and wonderful are Your works, O Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations!
  • Rev 16:7 - And I heard the altar reply: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are Your judgments.”
  • Rev 16:14 - These are demonic spirits that perform signs and go out to all the kings of the earth, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.
  • Rev 19:6 - And I heard a sound like the roar of a great multitude, like the rushing of many waters, and like a mighty rumbling of thunder, crying out: “Hallelujah! For the Lord [our] God the Almighty reigns.
  • Rev 19:15 - And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter.d He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
  • Rev 21:22 - But I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

In all ten of these instances, the nouns involved (Lord, God, Almighty) are nominative masculine singular with three exceptions - the "Lord" is vocative in Rev 11:17 and 15:3 and both God and Almighty are genitive in Rev 19:15.

The key to understanding the grammar here is actually found in 1 Cor 8:5, 6 -

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many so-called gods and lords), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we exist. And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we exist.

Leaving aside the very contentious content of this verse, it underlines the strident monotheism of Paul's theology. This brings us directly to the use and place of the Greek article - in a title or series of nouns, the article is crucial. In most of the above, the Greek is literally, "Lord the God the Almighty". Daniel Wallace in his "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics" spends a whole large chpater of this thick book on the this one subject. let me condense the result by saying here that the article in these situations can have only one of two functions: either it is anaphoric, or it is "monadic".

It could be either but I would argue that in a series of titles where the article occurs like this, it must be monadic - denoting the only example of the noun in its class. That is, the Father is Lord but (there are many lords), God is the only one of His kind in that category and so is the title "Almighty"; hence the articles.

Therefore, the triple title, "Lord, the God the Almighty" underlines the absolutely unique place God has in the universe and the theology of Paul.

Exactly the same hold true for the double title, "Lord the God" as in Mark 12:29, Luke 1:32, 68, Acts 3:22, Rev 1:8, 18:8, 22:5, 6.

There is a complication in here as well. In the case of Rev 1:8, "the Almighty" is both monadic and anaphoric to "Lord the God". In the case of Rev 16:14, both titles have the article and they are probably anaphoric to V7.

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    I just looked at the first two verses and Rev 21:22, not to mention Mark 12:29, and in every case the divine name has been substituted with Ky'ri.os (Lord). Exasperating, to say the least. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 10:54
  • @OldeEnglish - you may recall that in a previous question I provided a very long list of such cases.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 10:56
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    Absolutely the NT text, as translated from the original language/s is wrong. The word bastardization would not be too strong a word, IMO. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 11:07
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    @OldeEnglish - fascinating and "brave" statement about the inspired NT Greek text - why not write your own Greek New Testament? Get it right! If the Greek NT text is wrong, what shall we use?
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 11:13
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    No need for me to do that, the NWT has already done it for us. The only truly responsible translation out there, although, if I'm not mistaken, there is now a KJV version out now, which has the divine name restored. If not the KJV, then it is some other major biblical enterprise that has taken it on, or is in the process of. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 11:23
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So - not meaning to be argumentative in any way Anne - pursuant to your comment concerned if another's comments are inaccurate what should the response be - in what way is it unacceptable to "take another to task" (your wording of which indicates a pejorative approach - which mine was not nor intended to be) - in correcting the statements of another responder with all due respect!?

The comment to which I was responding was "But we know that God is Spirit. Spirit, unembodied, does not 'sit'. John 4:24." (emphasis added)

The idea that God has no body (an incorporeal being) comes from Greek mythology (Plato comes to mind for one who argued so) not from the Hebrew text (nor the writers of the NT although many later Church Fathers educated in the Greek schools at Alexandria and Antioch believed God was incorporeal as they were taught) so instead of appealing to "Greek grammar" which I presume you are thinking of the Greek "pneuma" variously translated spirit/wind) may I suggest you instead note the Greek grammar of Genesis 1:2 which in the LXX [the Septuagint] (καὶ πνεῦμα Θεοῦ) was used to transliterate the Hebrew "ruah" (wind, spirit) into Greek - and note how that is variously translated as "a wind from God", "the breath of God", or "the spirit of God" moving over the deep.

You might find the following article of interest in relation to comparing the Greek (LXX) with the Hebrew of Gen 1:2 and how that affects the understanding of "pneuma" in the NT as it relates to the God and Father (1 Peter 1:3) of Jesus. Have a good day and I hope the URL to the article discussing the Hebrew and Greek of Gen 1:2 helps Anne :)

[https://bibleandscience.com/bible/books/genesis/genesis1_wind.htm][1]

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  • @JD_Chicago No, my concern (apart from you taking another answerer to task in your 1st answer) is that you took up the matter of whether God is Spirit, or has some kind of material body. The OP has not asked about that. He wants to know how nouns and articles relate to the phrase “Lord God Almighty” in Rev.4:8. You still have not addressed the Q. Can you explain the Greek with regard to that phrase, in that particular verse?
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 11:22
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One respondent wrote: "But we know that God is Spirit. Spirit, unembodied, does not 'sit'. John 4:24."

The verse does not say that God is "unembodied" - just that He is "spirit"

So it is OUR perspective of what "spirit" in this verse portrays instead of reflecting on the FACT that when Moses said to God "Cause me to see your glory" (Genesis 33:18) God answered:

“You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live. There is a place near Me where you are to stand upon a rock, and when My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away, and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.” (Genesis 33:18-23)

An "unembodied" God does not have a face and a back nor would He say "no one (human) can see me" if He has neither a face nor a back (nor a hand) that can be seen physically albeit in a protective mode just as He did for Moses shielding him with His hand and in a rocky cleft.

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    Answers are not for taking another answer to task, especially when the objection focused on does not lead you to actually answering the question. You have not said a word about Greek grammar, which the OP requests.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 12:23
  • Please see my response elsewhere herein (because this little area does not allow for much content) Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 19:41
  • @JD_Chicago Thank you for giving more of a response in your second answer. As you know, comments are not for exchanges other than to suggest improvements to Qs and As. I have left a comment about that below your second answer.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 11:17

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