Every Eye Shall See Him
cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced
him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
This promise of Revelation is both well known and authoritative. But Christian people hold divergent opinions about the manner of its intended fulfillment. Are we to understand from it that Jesus will be revealed to the literal sight of people in the earth, or that he will be “seen” in a figurative sense by mental perception?
The Greek word represented by “see” in Revelation 1:7 is listed in Strong’s Concordance as 3700, optomai, which (for its grammatical use in this passage) is spelled opsetai. Strong defines it as “to gaze (i.e., with wide open eyes, as at something remarkable),” and proceeds to distinguish its shade of meaning from other words listed as 991, 1492, 2300, 2334, and 4648. Since this definition does not explicitly include a figurative sense, one might suppose it requires Jesus would be seen with literal sight. However, that would be an incorrect conclusion for two reasons:
1. Before Strong’s definition, he says it is used as an “alternate of 3708,” horaw,, which he defines as “properly to stare at … (by implication) to discern clearly (physically or mentally)” (bold emphasis supplied). This augments the definition of optomai to include a figurative sense.
2. For the five other words which Strong’s mentions, explaining their subtle contrast with optomai, he specifically includes a figurative sense in his definitions, yet he never stipulates this feature as a matter of contrast with optomai. Here is the remainder of Strong’s comments on optomai, followed by his definitions of the other five words:
differing from 991, which denotes simply voluntary observation; and from
1492, which expresses merely mechanical, passive or casual vision; while 2300,
and still more emphatically its intensive 2334, signifies an earnest but more
continued inspection; and 4648 a watching from a distance.”
is correct in allowing a figurative sense to each of these, as shown by the
following texts, which all require it:
Figurative Use of “Optomai”
sense of optomai is explicitly affirmed in Vine’s Expository
Dictionary. “Optomai, to see (from ops, the eye; compare
English optical, etc.) … (b) subjectively, with reference to an inward
impression or a spiritual experience” (page 65, “appear,” item 6). This is
particularly appropriate for optomai in Revelation 1:7. Its figurative
sense is also used in the following texts1:
Naturally the view that supposes Revelation 1:7 refers to a visible descent of a fleshly figure in the sky is besieged with a variety of imponderables, not the least of which is the incongruity of billions of humans simultaneously observing a normal sized human figure on a cloudy day descending from a prominent height.