At the end of Revelation 10:6, translation of the phrase ὅτι χρόνος οὐκέτι ἔσται by the ESV does not appear to abide by the translation philosophy as the preface to that version states: "... 'essentially literal'... emphasis is on "word-for-word" correspondence". Chronos is interpreted as "delay", rather than time. The passage seems to advocate for an end of time (associated with the old heavens and earth, which is replaced by eternity with the new heavens and earth): by using "delay" (I believe only in this passage), the angel's pronouncement becomes far less meaningful and less necessary.

Is there something in the text that absolutely demands uniquely substituting "delay" for "time"?

  • Semantic Frame and Scenario analysis applied to the announcement in Rev 10:6 compared to Jesus' reply to the disciples question “when ... how long until” in the Olivet Discourse. The angelic announcement in Rev. 10:6 signals the advent of a new scenario in regard to the perennial eschatological question how long until?/ when? will this take place. In response to the perennial eschatological question the answer is NOW. No more waiting and wondering. . Commented May 24 at 17:32

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When the ESV says it is 'essentially literal'... emphasis is on "word-for-word" correspondence" - that allows it an exclusion clause for occasionally deviating from a literal translation. It gives to itself permission to use 'corresponding' words in its translation. Revelation 10:6 is one such example of the ESV not merely choosing an alternative word, but an entirely different word.

Many translators today will claim that chronos can include the idea of a limited period, so that 'delay' is warranted. Appendix 195 of 'The Companion Bible' (Bullinger) says:

(1) chronos, time, duration unlimited unless defined..."

(2) kairos, a certain limited and definite portion of chronos, the right time or season..."

Consider that he word 'kairos' was not chosen by the angel speaking to John. Sticking with 'χρόνος' as does Robert Young, consider his rendition of the whole verse:

"...and did swear by him who doth live to the ages of the ages, who did create the heaven and the things in it, and the land and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it - that time shall not be yet..." Y.L.T.

Interestingly, despite the YLT being consistently literal, the word for 'yet' does not appear in the text. Three times various Greek words for 'yet' appear in Revelation: 6:11 - et - still, yet, hitherto; 8:13 - mello - to be about to; 9:20 - oute - and not, neither, nor. This suggests that the best literal translation is, "that time shall not be".

Others would claim that it's speaking about 'prophetic time', though that clearly is an interpretation. Yes, χρόνος can include various meanings about time. That's not the problem. The concern here is that because most modern translators cannot fit the idea of time being no more into their theology, they have decided that the Greek word for delay should have been used, despite that it was not chosen by the angel. But 'no more time' and 'no more delay' do not mean the same thing despite modern translators trying to say there's no material difference.

To answer your main question: All this suggests that the ESV has chosen its choice of word, 'delay', for Revelation 10:6, on a doctrinal bias about their interpretation of time. Being time-bound mortals, that may be understandable (for who of us can mentally cope with stepping out of time, and entering eternity - which is what happens when we mortals die?) Eternity is God's domain, it has always been and will always be. But God created time for this material universe (e.g. it takes time for light to travel) and we are bound by time, for now. The very idea that we may be unbound, so as to exist where our concept of time gives way to God's reality of eternity, is enough to cause many to alter what Revelation 10:6 actually says, I would suggest.

To answer your secondary question, Is there something in the text that absolutely demands uniquely substituting "delay" for "time"?: There is absolutely no demand in the text for substituting 'delay' for 'time'. Quite the opposite - 'kairos' means a certain limited and definite portion of 'chronos'. So, the word 'time' stands purely and simply within the whole text as meaning 'time' (unlimited), and nothing else, otherwise the word for 'delay' would be there, somewhere. It is not.


The Greek word χρόνος occurs 54 times in the NT. I have just personally surveyed them all and every case (with the possible exception of Rev 10:6) the word means either:

  • indefinite time itself
  • a short period of time

BDAG gives, without much justification and third meaning of "delay" in Rev 10:6. However, this would make it the only place in the NT corpus where such a meaning is warranted.

I have long wondered why modern versions have chosen this meaning in Rev 10:6. The only reason I can presume is the reference to Matt 24:6 & 25:1-13 which includes the parable of the 10 virgins and the implied delay before the midnight cry (Matt 25:5, 6); but that uses a different (but related) word, χρονίζω = "delay".

I personally see nothing wrong with the translation, "There will be time no longer", meaning time is expired.

  • +1 Yes, I think the meaning of "time" is highly contextual. Common English expressions illustrate this as well. What does the word, "time," mean? "It's time to go." "I don't have time right now." "Take your time. "I need to time my response."
    – Dieter
    Commented May 21 at 23:45

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