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KJV Revelation 16 : 16

And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

Revelation 16:16 ESV

And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

Revelation16:16 NIV

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

Revelation 16:16 AMP

And they gathered them together at the place which in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

How does the KJV translate the above text?

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3 Answers 3

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Well spotted, a good question.

και συνηγαγεν αυτους is undisputed. That is to say, this is not a matter of the Greek text being different in the KJV (the Textus Receptus) from the other versions (the Critical Text).

The translation is clear from Biblehub Interlinear 'he gathered together them' (as per KJV). συνηγαγεν is aorist active indicative and third person singular. Bagster's Analytical Greek Lexicon agrees stating (p389) '3rd person singular, aorist 2, indicative, active'.

The other versions appear to me to be relating back to verse 14a :

For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. [KJV Rev 16:14]

The spirits of demons ... gather the kings together.

But verse 16 shows another aspect of the battle, that it is the Lord (the King of kings) who gathers them. He is responsible for the war, the war on earth that is prompted by Christ's resurrection and ascension and enthronement.

He asserts his rights over the earth, in judgments, by angelic powers. The unfolding sequences of Revelation show the development of war on earth, judgments sent from heaven, adverse influence curbing the efforts of the Dragon and his angels to influence humanity globally.

It is He who gathers the enemies together, by His own activities throughout the narrative.

Yes, the spirits of demons gather the forces. But it is the Lord himself who is behind it all.

The KJV is faithful to this dual aspect and has correctly translated. It is 'God Almighty' (verse 14b) who ... gathers.

And it may also be noted that he who interjects, verse 15, in the narrative, ('Behold, I come as a thief') is also instrumental in the matter . . . and he gathered them . . .

The other versions have missed the subtlety.

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Great question - how to translate Rev 16:16 - should it be translated "he gathered", or, "they gathered".

Grammatically, the verb συνήγαγεν is 3rd person singular and so it should strictly be translated "he gathered". However, note V13, 14 -

And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs coming out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. 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.

Note that in V13 & 14, it is the three unclean frog who are demonic spirits (plural) who do the gathering. So why the singular "he gathered" in V16? Note the comments of Albert Barnes:

And he gathered them together - Who gathered them? Prof. Stuart renders it "they gathered them together," supposing that it refers to the "spirits" - πνέυματα pneumata - in Revelation 16:13, and that this is the construction of the neuter plural with a singular verb. So DeWette understands it. Hengstenberg supposes that it means that God gathered them together; others suppose that it was the sixth angel; others that it was Satan; others that it was the beast; and others that it was Christ. See Poole's Synopsis, in loco. The authority of DeWette and Prof. Stuart is sufficient to show that the construction which they adopt is authorized by the Greek, as indeed no one can doubt, and perhaps this accords better with the context than any other construction proposed. Thus, in Revelation 16:14, the spirits are represented as going forth into the whole world for the purpose of gathering the nations together to the great battle, and it is natural to suppose that the reference is to them here as having accomplished what they went forth to do.

OK, this is the analysis of Prof Stuart as quoted by Barnes, and most modern versions appear to agree, eg, NIV, NLT, ESV, BSB, NKJV, NASB, CSB, HCSB, ASV, ISV, etc, presumably on the basis of the explicit reference in V13 & 14 as quoted above.

However, there is another possible explanation if we notice the classic chain of command/authority:

  • the three evil spirits like frogs appear to be the ones doing the gathering of the kings of the whole earth, Rev 13:14
  • The three evil spirits like frogs come from the mouths of, and thus are directed by, the dragon, the (sea) beast and the false prophet = the land beast of Rev 13:12-18, 19:20, etc.
  • This beast trinity (dragon, sea beast and land beast/false prophet) is created by the dragon, see Rev 12:17, 13:1 where the dragon, who is very angry (Rev 12:17) stands on the shore of the sea (the border between the land and sea) and calls up two more monsters to aid him in the fight with the woman - the sea beast (Rev 13:1-10) and the land beast (Rev 13:12-17)
  • the Dragon, The Devil, Satan, the ancient serpent (Rev 12:9), is the beast that finally directs the other two beats. .

Thus, it appears that Satan directs the beast trinity and the beast trinity direct the spirits like frogs who gather the kings of the earth. That is, while the three frogs gather the kings, they ultimately act at the behest of Satan. Thus, the text says, "he [Satan] gathered".

Thus, the great battle of Armageddon (V16) is between:

  • Satan, his beast trinity, the evil spirits and the kings of the earth

versus -

  • God and the armies of heaven (Rev 19:11-16) who are dressed in white robes (Rev 19:14). These heavenly armies are led by none other than the "Word of God" (Rev 19:13) who is called: "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS", with a robe dipped in blood and eyes like blazing fire (cf Rev 1:14), riding the white horse, and thus is Jesus Christ.

This battle is finally won by the armies of heaven as per Rev 19:17-21.

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The original Greek used by the KJV is:

συνήγαγεν — 3rd person singular

so "he gathered together" would appear to be the appropriate translation.

The question then is, why do some other versions translate it as "they", which is clearly plural not singular?

And strangely, why does the NET translate what apparently should be "he" as "Now the spirits gathered … ."?

And even more strangely, why does the NLT translate it as "And the demonic spirits gathered … ."?


Note that I realize that this doesn't really answer the Question, but I hope that whatever the accepted answer to this question is, it also answers these questions too.

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