Does Revelation 22:17 Teach Arminianism?

“And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17b KJV

New Testament Greek text:

ὁ θέλων λαβέτω ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν SBL

My literal translation: “May he who wills receive the water of life for free.”

“May…receive” (λαβέτω) This verb is in the subjunctive tense. It expresses a wish, hope, or desire. The author is expressing a desire that those who are willing will receive the water of life free of charge, IOW without payment.

“the water of life” (ὕδωρ ζωῆς), this is a picture of the grace of God in Christ, that water that Jesus spoke of at the well, which if anyone drinks, he will never thirst again. It’s the promise of eternal life in happiness with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“he who wills” (ὁ θέλων)—In greek this is literally a participle with the definite article, such as you have if it were just like this in English: “the willing.” But of course we don’t write or talk like that in English, so the KJV adds what is implied “whosoever will” and I have supplied, “he who wills”

The idea really isn’t about telling us who has a will to receive, or who is able to have the will, or might possibly have the will to receive what is offered. It’s simply stating that having the will to receive the free gift of the water of life is a condition to receiving it. God has limited the recipients of eternal life to only those who have the will to receive it. No one will get it who does not will to receive it.

This verse does not say that everyone has the will to receive it. This verse does not tell us how those who have the will, got the will to receive it. It doesn’t tell us who is and is not able to have the will to receive it, based on the condition of their own heart. It doesn’t even tell us that only those whom God has chosen and made new then have the will to receive it (although other passages tell us that.) It simply states that it is those who have the will who will receive.

My position is that no one has the will to receive, until the Holy Spirit makes them new in the new birth aka regeneration, a miracle from above, and then and only then do they have the will to receive the eternal life which is offered upon condition of having the will to receive it. This verse just says that those who do receive it, must have the will to receive it, or they won’t receive it. I agree with that, obviously. So this verse is entirely compatible with my definition of free will.

(The foregoing is extracted from an email to a relative of mine)

Categories: Bible | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Does Revelation 22:17 Teach Arminianism?

  1. Paul


    Just stumbled upon your blog and was scrolling through. I just wanted to share that I think some of the Greek parsing here is off. The verb λαβέτω is actually a 3rd person 2nd aorist verb in the IMPERATIVE mood, not the subjunctive. The typical translation with these verbs looks something like “Let him…”

    This is the same type verb for where we read “If someone has an ear, let him hear” in Revelation 13:9, as “let him hear” is ἀκουσάτω. And actually, it’s the same type of verb used earlier in Rev. 22:17 with “let him say”, which is εἰπάτω. Notice the similarity between -έτω and -άτω endings… these endings, the former for 2nd aorist and the latter for 1st aorist, are imperative endings.

    This doesn’t negate the point which your relative made. In fact, it may just reinforce it! Since reading “Let him who wills receive the water of life for free” still shows the author’s wish for those with the will (given by the Holy Spirit) to receive the water to freely receive it, as he is commanding that no one should get in the way of them receiving (i.e. LET him)!

    I’m thankful for the time your relative put in.. and just wanted to mention that!



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