CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO - EPILOGUE
(1) And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, (2) coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, (3) in the middle of its street. (4) And on either side of the river was the tree of life, (5) bearing twelve kinds of fruit; (6) yielding its fruit every month; and (7) the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
1. And he showed me a river of the water of life = echoes the promise of Christ to the woman at the well of John 4. Living water has benefits for those that drink it. It quenches thirst.
2. Coming from the throne of God and the Lamb = is the source of the living water. This water supply is supernaturally supplied, which ensures the eternal or continuing nature of not only the supply of water, but the quality as well. The mutual nature of the throne of the Father and the Son should not lead to confusion about the trinity. They both share equally the same essence. However, Christ is the only member of the trinity that localizes with human physicality. God the Father never takes on human form. He can and will make His presence known. We will be very much aware of His presence, but not because He manifests Himself in physical form. That prerogative is uniquely Jesus Christ’s. The throne belongs to the Father, but He shares it with His Son. This is beyond human comprehension, but reality no less.
3. In the middle of its street = at first glance might appear contradictory to the previous idea that the city is a cube. Street is singular, giving the impression that the city has only one street. However, while John does give some information about the city, we certainly must entertain the notion that there is much to the city that he did not communicate. The text does not say "in the middle of its only street." Given the size of the city, there must be many streets. However, whether it’s the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, all great cities are known for having one great street.
4. And on either side of the river was the tree of life = indicates more than one "tree of life." Since Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only means of salvation from sin, "the tree of life" does not grant to those who eat from it eternal life.
Since the only people allowed in the New Jerusalem are those who already have eternal life (Rev 21:27), "the water of life" and "the tree of life" are not sources of eternal life for "those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life." Water and fruit contribute to the quality of life. The river and the tree will contribute to the quality one existence in the eternal city.
5. Bearing twelve kinds of fruit = indicates miraculous production.
6. Yielding its fruit every month = continues the miraculous production of the trees of life. Thought may be that the trees bear a different fruit for each month of the year. Since time will not be indicted by the sun (Rev 22:5) during the eternal kingdom of God, perhaps the trees will indicate the months of the year.
7. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations = echoes Adam’s attempt to cover himself, but failed to remove the curse.
(1) And there shall no longer be any curse; and (2) the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and (3) His bond-servants shall serve Him; and (4) they shall see His face, and (5) His name shall be on their foreheads.
1. And there shall no longer be any curse = continues the descriptive benefits of the New Jerusalem. Since "the nations" have the benefit of the healing leaves from "the tree of life," the curse of Adam is finally taken away forever. The curse of Genesis three is removed both from nature and mankind. Nature has returned to full productivity and man is both spiritually and physically satisfied.
2. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it = signals another benefit of the New Jerusalem. Notice that John indicates that this is a future reality. At issue here is whether or not the Lamb is seated on a separate throne. Revelation 3:21 states, "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." The Lord’s throne relates to the millennial reign on earth. The Father’s throne relates to eternity. Since God the Father does not manifest Himself in human form, Jesus Christ will be the eternal physical manifestation of God to man. We will be aware of the Father’s presence, but His presence will not include sight.
3. His bond-servants shall serve Him = actually focuses on worship. The Greek verb refers to religious conduct. What else the righteous will do during eternity is not indicated, but worship will be primary.
4. They shall see His face = that is the face of the Lord Jesus. His bond-servants shall see His face. The Lord Jesus states in Matthew 18:10, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven." Since the Father is invisible, the sense of the Lord’s words refers to the presence of God. The angels are continually in the presence of God.
5. His name shall be on their foreheads = is the last descriptive benefit of the citizens of the New Jerusalem. Like the 144,000 who have the seal of the God the Father on their foreheads, the bond-servants of Jesus Christ will be so marked.
(1) And there shall no longer be any night; and (2) they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and (3) they shall reign forever and ever.
1. And there shall no longer be any night = indicates a significant change in the course of human history. The loss of night as a segment of the human timeframe means a change in humanity.
2. They shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them = explains why there will be no night. There will be no electricity in the New Jerusalem. God will be the light source for the New Jerusalem.
3. They shall reign forever and ever = refers to the bond-servants. That the saints will reign with Christ during His temporal kingdom on earth for a thousand years is clear. However, that they will reign with God for all eternity is less clear. Daniel 7:18 and 27 states that the saints will receive an eternal kingdom. What they will do however is not clear.
And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and (2) the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, (3) sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place. And (4) Behold, I am coming quickly. (5) Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."
1. And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true" = refers to the complete Revelation. This sentence begins an important conclusion to the book with witnesses to the process.
2. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets = adds support to the claims that Scripture can be trusted, particularly this Revelation.
3. Sent His angel to show to His bond-servants…place = restates the claims of the angel at the beginning of the Revelation that what is written was sent directly from God.
4. Behold, I am coming quickly = cannot be taken in a temporal sense because it has been 2,000 years since these words were given. Jesus will not return quickly, but His return will be quick.
5. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book = a call to faithfulness regardless of what might happen to the reader. Again, John asserts that this Revelation is prophecy in the same tradition as all other Old and New Testament prophecy.
And I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. And he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God."
Restates the claim of John that the Revelation is his writings. John’s reaction to the Revelation is the same as Daniel. Both attempt to worship, but were prevented.
And he said to me, (1) "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, (2) for the time is near.
1. Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book = contrasts the message of Daniel (Dan 12:4, 9). Daniel sealed his book, but the Revelation is to be unsealed.
2. For the time is near = cannot refer to time, since 2000 years has transpired.
Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.
This is a very difficult verse to understand. Two exhortations are given to the wicked and two exhortations are given to the righteous. Now it is at once clear that the wicked do not read the Bible for direction or encouragement to sin. Therefore, this text is written for the believer. However, one of the difficulties with this verse is the exhortation to sinners to keep on sinning. This is clearly contradictory to the nature of Scripture and the Lord.
Some attempt solve the problem by placing the timing of this exhortation in the context of the days immediately preceding the return of Jesus Christ in which it will be too late to change once the Lord is seen coming on the clouds. However, it has been two thousand years since these words were spoken. Sinners certainly have had time to repent. Scripture would never counsel a sinner to keep on sinning—never! Therefore, we must look closer at what is stated.
Unlike Daniel 12:9-10, which states what is true about the unbeliever, Revelation 22:11 exhorts the unbeliever to persist in his lifestyle. It is clear that Revelation 22:11 is echoing Daniel 12:10. What Daniel declared would happen is exactly what John encourages to happen. Scripture is not indicating what sinners might do, but what they will do. Not because they are not free to do otherwise, but because once set upon their course even the wrath of God will not change them (Rev 9:20-21; 16:9b, 11).
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Some use passages such as this to support a claim that the return of Christ to rapture the church to heaven is imminent (could happen at any moment). A position rendered nonsensical by 2000 years of human history. In what sense can the Lord’s return be termed "a quick coming?" Unless the term quick has changed, it cannot refer to time. It has been 2000 years since the Lord returned to Glory. Quick can refer to the manner of the Lord’s return. In other words, the Lord’s return will happen very quickly. The Lord emphasizes the quickness of His return because the level of suffering the believers will be experiencing during the persecution of Satan/Antichrist against the saints will be unparalleled. Once the Lord sets out to rescue the elect, it will happen very quickly – in the twinkling of any eye!
(1) Blessed are those who wash their robes, (2) that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. (3) Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
1. Blessed are those who wash their robes = is the last of seven blessings that occur in the Revelation. The reward for "washing their robes" is the same as the reward for "the one who conquers." This categorically proves that "the tree of life" does not grant one eternal life. Rather, the quality of eternal life is the issue. There is the opinion among some that as long as a person is saved that’s all that matters. I beg to differ. There is going to be a qualitative difference between those who were faithful and those who were faithful, but not as faithful as they could have been.
"Those who washed their robes" are those who work at moral conformity to the will of God. The Old Testament is replete with examples of those who need to wash their garments in order to be cleansed before entering before God. Since the person must wash his own garments, this has nothing to do with gaining salvation. Rather, the issue concerns what one does after he has attained salvation. We are not working to gain or keep salvation, but to enjoy it.
2. That they might have the right to the tree of life = is the first of two purpose clauses that explain the purpose of washing one’s robe. The Greek of this clause literally says, "in order that they will have the authority over the tree of life." The second purpose of "washing one’s robes" is to enter the city through the gates.
3. Outside are the dogs…lying = obviously refers to the city. Dogs here refer to male prostitutes or homosexuals.
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen