56. Robes wash or Commandments do? Rev.22:14.

55. Robes wash or Commandments do? Rev.22:14.

What is the prerequisite in Rev.22:14? Is it: “they that do his commandments, …” or: “who wash their robes, …”?
The relation between grace and merit is one of the main differences between the Christian Religion and all other religions in the world.
All other religions proclaim that if one’s deeds are good enough, he can be saved.
As Christians we believe and proclaim that sinners are justified by the grace of God, through the blood of Christ, on the ground of our faith in Jesus Christ, apart from observing the law. Our faith is confirmed by our good deeds. Faith without deeds is dead!
It is this core truth that is in the balance here in Revelation 22:14.

The King James Version says: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” According to these words, one gains the right to the tree of life and entrance to the city, by doing the commands, by keeping the law. But is that what Jesus taught? Is that what the rest of the New Testament teaches? Is that the message of Revelation?

The New International Version says: “Blessed are those who wash their robes …“. On what grounds does the NIV give another prerequisite? Is this a deliberate alteration to conform to Christian Dogma? Is there manuscript evidence?

Let us look at the real facts:


Possibilities: Wash their robes: Do his commands:
Witness: Greek: Translations: Church Fathers: Greek: Translations: Church Fathers:
201-300 Sahidic Tertullian, Cyprian
301-400 Sinaiticus Vulgate Athanasius Bohairic Tyconius
401-500 Alexandrinus Ethiopic Syriac, Armenian
501-600 Fulgentius, *Apringius, Pseudo-Ambrose
601-700 Syriac *Andrew
801-900 Old Latin *Haymo
901-1000 Old Latin 046 Arethas
1001-1600 3 Minuscules 3 Old Latin 10 Minuscules Old Latin

In this specific instance the possibility of confusion with the letters and words cannot be excluded, especially if the scribe had been absent-minded. To illustrate this possibility visually, I give the two versions in a Greek font, created by Allen Loder after the Papyrus manuscript No. 39 of around 250 A.D. Keep in mind that, being an electronic font, these letters are all perfect, being chosen as the best examples of the specific letter in the document. The source manuscript that the scribe used, might also have been eroded or damaged, making the likelihood of confusion a greater possibility than with this “perfect” rendering:



1. The two oldest Greek manuscripts, supported by three minuscule manuscripts dating the 11th, 13th and 15th centuries support “washing robes”. Only one Greek uncial of the tenth century and ten later Greek minuscule manuscripts support “doing the commands”.
2. The Sahidic, the oldest translation, together with seven other ancient translations, including the Vulgate support “robes wash” while five ancient translations support “doing the commands”.
3. Both readings are supported by five Church Fathers each. Of the three leaving us a commentary on Revelation (marked *) two support “robes wash”. Through the ages an intense debate waged between “faith only” like Paul advocated, and the emphasis James put on proof of faith by one’s deeds. Ascetic monks would rather emphasize deeds and keeping the commandments.
4. The possible confusion between letters and words cannot be ruled out as origin of the alteration.
When we look at Revelation in isolation, we find salvation through the blood of the Lamb i.a. in Rev.1:5 and 5:9. In Rev.7:14 it is stated that the saved are mentioned as having their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, and in Rev.12:11 mentioned as having overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb. In Rev.12:17 the keeping of the commandments is mentioned as a distinction of the saved, but not as prerequisite! This is the same in Rev.14:12.
When we look at Rev.22:14, we notice “Blessed are they that… ?…, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” This is a clear indication of the prerequisite for access to the tree of life and entrance through the gates of the city. This “right” boils down to the prerequisite to be saved! The principle for salvation in Revelation however, is the blood of the Lamb, not keeping the commands!

Looking at all the facts above, it is clear that “washing of robes” according to both external and intrinsic criteria within Revelation as a whole weighs heavier than “doing the commands”. In fact that corresponds with the principles of the Christian faith distinguishing it from all other religions all over the world!

God bless


Do leave your comment at the bottom of the page.


About Herman of bibledifferences.net

The reasons for the differences between older Bibles like the King James Version and newer Bibles like the New International Version have fascinated me ever since my studies in Theology at the University of Pretoria in the seventies. I have great respect for scribes through the ages as well as Bible translators, so there must be good reasons for the differences. With more than 5600 Greek manuscripts and more than 19000 manuscripts of ancient translations to our disposal, the original autographs of the New Testament can be established without doubt. I investigate the reasons behind the differences and publish the facts in a post on my blogs www.bibledifferences.net (Afrikaans: www.bybelverskille.wordpress.com) to enable my readers to judge for themselves. Personally I love to make an informed decision based of facts. That is why I endeavor to provide that same privilege to the readers of my blogs. Since 1973 I am married to my dear wife and greatest friend, Leah Page, founder director of Act-Up Support (www.actup.co.za) a prayer ministry for families struggling with drug-, occult- and other dependencies. We are blessed with two daughters and two sons, four grand sons and two grand daughters. God is alive and omnipotent! Glory to His Name! Herman Grobler.
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17 Responses to 56. Robes wash or Commandments do? Rev.22:14.

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  5. Gail says:

    Thank you, very helpful.

  6. Jon says:

    Wow, I need to study the original languages. For every web page thy says, ” wash their robes” there is another saying, “doing the commands”…wow.

    • Hi Jon,
      This variation in Revelation 22:14 is so important since it is the only variation I could find that deviates from a crucial Christian doctrine. I trust that you understand my reasoning on this verse, and that you would agree with my interpretation.
      God bless.

  7. Chris Warren says:

    Hi Herman

    Thank you so much for your careful and insightful analysis on the significant difference in translation on this most important verse (which is a key statement in the closing words of the book of Revelation and indeed the New Testament).

    I have found your article most interesting, thought-provoking and helpful. I have read the Bible in many different English translations but my “home” translation is the New King James Version. I am therefore more familiar with the “Blessed are those who keep his commandments…” translation.

    Although an avid student of the Bible for some forty years I am unfortunately not conversant in the NT Greek. Seeing the two Greek versions side by side shows how easily a scribal mistake could have been made – so interesting. I do believe that while the Bible is inspired by our almighty and perfect creator, it has been written down, copied and translated by fallible men.

    I believe scripture usually explains itself and obscure or confusing verses are often made clear when read in light of other scriptures. I therefore appreciated your ‘Evaluation’ which looked at other similar verses in Revelation. I think this important to understanding this verse.

    One translation emphasizes our obedience, the other grace. I whole-heartedly agree salvation is through the blood of the lamb (1 Peter 1:18 & 19) and by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8,9). Having read your article I am now more convinced with the “washing robes” translation.

    Having said that, I can still see some internal evidence that may possibly support the “they that do his commandments” translation. In contrast to verse 14, verse 15 talks about those who will not be allowed into the New Jerusalem. These are specifically depicted as those who break his commandments (at least four of the ten commandments are specifically referred to). These are in contrast to those who keep his commandments, which as you have noted distinguishes the saved (Rev. 12:17 & 14:12).

    Either way, the message of the New Testament is consistently clear, we have been redeemed through the blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:18 & 19) and by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8,9). Obedience is the evidence of our salvation, not the cause. Hallelujah!

    Thank you again. I look forward to reading some more of your articles here.


    • Thank you Chris for visiting.
      I absolutely agree with you: “Either way, the message of the New Testament is consistently clear, we have been redeemed through the blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:18 & 19) and by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8,9). Obedience is the evidence of our salvation, not the cause. Hallelujah!”
      The important word that differentiate between verses 14 and 15 is: “the right to”. Verse 14 gives the prerequisite, while verse 15 gives the consequences of those who do not comply to that prerequisite. They will be outside, but their deeds will also confirm that that is where they belong!
      Those inside will also prove that that is where they aught to be. Though not stated, I think the very words found in the King James Version could just as well have been added as confirmation to the correct steps they took. They washed their robes, and, for the love of God and the gratitude for their salvation, they kept His commands! But we cannot “improve” on what God had already given us.
      I just love the Word, and studying it!
      God bless.

  8. Hello again…first of all, according to your chart….you should add Sahidic on “do His commandments” like this “Sahidic (5)” while on the robe side just add (7). It looks like tie each other sides Sahidic have 7 translations while other side have 3 witnesses: 5 Translations under Sahidic plus Tertullian and Cyprian. The Total score is 7-7 before 300 CE.


  9. Van says:

    Great job Herman! I at one time thought the verse to be ” command” and not “robe”. Thanks to you I’ve a better understanding and accept your proofs. Thank you much for your study in this and sharing.

    Yours in Chist,

  10. Robert says:

    not a greek or Hebrew speaker but some things to consider: in Rev. 12:17, who does the dragon rage at, those who wash their robes or those of the remnant who keep the commandments of God? In Romans 3:31 does Paul write of establishing robe washing or God’s Law, i.e. his commandments? In Matt. 5:17 Yeshua Himself said that came not to abolish The Torah (God’s Instructions for Righteous Living) but the way to live God’s commandments correctly. To be sure ONLY FAITH IN THE LAMB YESUA’S SELF SACRIFICE IS THE WAY TO SALVATION! 1 John 2:5 says: But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. So we are shown what sin is by the Torah. To close, we should follow God’s commandments not TO be saved, but BECAUSE we are saved. So the question of following God’s commandments or washing robes as to best translation is to follow Yeshua/The Father’s commandments.

  11. John says:

    I think Rev 14:12 should be brought into this discussion. The various Greek manuscripts do not have significant variance there. In addition, Matthew 5:19 is clear and unambiguous (we can debate fulfill vs effectively annul in 17 and whether or not a new Heaven was created at the Resurrection, in 18). Those who ignore 5:19 in order to read Galatians to say the instructions were cancelled are violating, IMHO, the first rule of interpretation: if your interpretation cannot stand up to a clear and unambiguous verse, then your interpretation is wrong. In fact, “the instructions” are valuable for training in righteousness (2 Tim 3: 16-17), which explains Matt 5:20.

    • John, thank you for your comments. They are tremendously important.
      There is a very delicate but extremely important difference between the two variations in Revelation 22:14. And it is all about the word “hina”, translated as “that” or “so-that”. This little word makes the rest of the sentence the prerequisite for entering into the New Jerusalem and having access to the tree of life, hence being saved. By stating that one is saved by having one’s clothes washed, which boils down to trusting on the cleansing of one’s life through the blood of Christ, does not cancel the Law or the Prophets as Jesus explained in Matthew 5:17 – 20. It stresses the importance of trusting through faith in the saving grace of the crucifixion and resurrection. And that is in correspondence with the message of the Bible, inter alia Romans 3:20: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. ” and Galatians 2:16: “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. ” We are saved solely by faith, but do the works of the Law to prove that we are serious and live to the glory of God. There are not two criteria by which one can be saved, but one. And that is defined in Revelation 22:14 as having one’s clothes washed (in the blood of the Lamb)

  12. Joanne says:

    Thank you. I questioned if washed their robes meant trusting that Jesus blood covered to cover us as robes of righteousness. Seeing the explanation from the Greek was very helpful – to add to my understanding.

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