Revelation 10:11 gets translated two different ways. The predominant translation is that John is commanded to prophecy about other nations, but a few translations have John commanded to prophecy to other nations. I have two questions. 1) Are both translations technically correct? 2)Do the rules of Grammar prefer one translation over the other?

Context. - 8Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. 11And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

Here is a link to the Greek used in this verse.

  • 1
    I do not know what you mean by 'predominant' translation. KJV has 'before' many nations. YLT has 'about'. Tyndale has 'among'. EGNT has 'as to'. The preposition is επι. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 17:11
  • 1
    I don't mean the strict usage of about, but whether the prophecy is to be given to a people group or is simply about a people group.
    – acc abb
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 18:10
  • 2
    Daniel B Wallace (Beyond the Basics p 376) lists 'upon' as one of the common meanings of epi (whether genitive, dative or accusative) in a spatial context. And a prophecy 'upon' a nation would mean a burden laid upon it and, thus, a consequence 'upon' it as a result, perhaps, of the behaviour of it.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 18:26
  • Check this out to further your understanding. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/27004/… I have up-voted your question.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 18:46

2 Answers 2


It is difficult to answer on the basis of Greek grammar as to whether the verse should read 'about' or 'to' [many nations.] As an answer has already shown, the Greek word in question is the preposition επι which has many possible meanings. Further, you commented to another comment, "I don't mean the strict usage of 'about', but whether the prophecy is to be given to a people group or is simply about a people group." Perhaps the best way of resolving this is to glean information from the context. After all, the first rule of biblical hermeneutics is "Context, context. context."

This book I now quote from details the context leading up to the verse in question:

"The entire content of Chapter 10 and that of the first thirteen verses of Chapter 11 belong to the sounding of the sixth trumpet and the second woe, just as much as the visionary armies of the horsemen in Chapter 9:13-21. The events of Revelation 10:1 to 11:13 continue to unfold what began with the sounding of the sixth angel. In fact, the events of Chapter 9:13-21 are, firstly, connected; secondly, concurrent; and thirdly, causative. This will appear in due course." The Revelation of Jesus Christ, John Metcalfe, p. 240, http://www.johnmetcalfepublishingtrust.co.uk/contact_us.htm

Now, it takes the author another 10 pages to work carefully through to the point asked about here. No way can I go into all of that, but here are another few quotes that might help explain what those 'nations' represent. Given also that verse 13 of the vision speaks of the prophetic voice as going forth unto "many people, nations, and tongues", it seems clear from that alone that the whole world of mankind may be in view, not just one particular 'people group' as in your comment.

After explaining how the whole earth is smitten with plagues due to their disobeying God's prophetic word in the mouth of his witnesses, as God will not suffer the prophetic testimony to be ignored with impunity (p. 250), he points out that:

"...the two prophets [are] in three different locations at once, namely, Sodom, Egypt, and that great city where our Lord was crucified [Jerusalem], as if all were one and the same place." (Ibid. p. 251)

Note also how the angel in Chapter 10 verse 5 is seen in vision as standing upon both the sea and upon the earth. He swears (vs. 6) by the One who created heaven, the earth, and the sea, and all that therein are, so this speaks of the entire world.

This indicates that ALL the nations, ALL the peoples, and ALL the tongues have to hear the prophetic words of God's prophetic witness - if it indicates something else to you, perhaps you could say why.

  • Another clue is the echo of Ezekiel ch3, the difference being that Ezekiel is specifically NOT sent to those of foreign speech. Otherwise the idea is the same, viz TO Israel and ABOUT Israel. Commented May 4 at 9:03
  • @StephenDisraeli Ezek.3:1-4,7,14 certainly is a figure applicable in particular ways to Revelation end-time matters. This is mentioned in pp.243-244 of the book I quoted from. Literal Israel did get a special word, opportunity and warning given to it before God judged that nation, but after Jesus' ascension, spiritual Israel is in view (with both Jews and Gentiles comprising it), so we probably digress in understanding from that point, but I won't argue about that!
    – Anne
    Commented May 4 at 11:14
  • Sorry, |I expressed myself very badly. I meant "Israel" only for Ezekiel's case. I should have said "TO someone and ABOUT someone". I think we agree after all. Commented May 4 at 12:22
  • @StephenDisraeli Thank you for clarifying, yes.
    – Anne
    Commented May 4 at 13:06

The operative word here is the preposition ἐπὶ (epi) which can assume a variety of meanings such as (BDAG):

  1. marker of location, answering the question, Where?
  2. marker of presence of occurrence near an object or area
  3. marker of involvement in an official proceeding
  4. marker of movement to or contact with a goal
  5. marker of manner
  6. marker of basis for state of being, action, or result
  7. marker of addition to what is already in existence
  8. marker of perspective, in consideration of, in regard to, on the basis of, etc
  9. marker of power, authority, control over someone or something
  10. marker of legal proceedings, before
  11. marker or purpose, goal, result
  12. marker of hostile opposition, against
  13. marker of number or measure 14, marker indicating the one whom, for whom, or about whom something is done
  14. marker of feelings directed towards someone, in, on, toward
  15. marker of object or purpose
  16. marker in idiom of authorization
  17. marker of temporal associations, in the time of, at on for

Thus, in Rev 10:11, epi could be translated "concerning", "about", "before", etc. I suggest that it probably means all of these things.

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