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III. THE REVELATION OF THE FUTURE 4:1-22:5
John recorded the rest of this book to reveal those aspects of the future that God wanted His people to know (cf. Revelation 1:19). He revealed the events in chapters 4-18 to enable the readers to understand events leading up to Jesus Christ’s second coming.
"The closest modern parallel to this mode of communication is the political cartoon, which has gained an established place in the popular press all over the world." [Note: Beasley-Murray, p. 16.]
Scholars have proposed many interpretations of the remaining chapters (4-22), but the ones that make most sense of the text are those that see them as predicting events yet future. This is the futuristic approach. Other approaches are the following. The idealist (or allegorical) approach sees these chapters as containing the story of the conflict between God and Satan in the present age with a symbolic presentation of God’s ultimate victory. The preterist approach sees these chapters as a picture of conflicts that took place in the early history of the church. Some preterist interpreters see these chapters as a symbolic revelation of God’s principles of dealing with humankind throughout history. The historical approach interprets these chapters as a history of the church from Jesus Christ’s first advent to His second advent. A major problem with the approaches just named is that their advocates do not agree with one another on the interpretation of individual passages. Only the futuristic approach has resulted in consistency in the interpretation of the major interpretive problems. [Note: See Carson and Moo, pp. 719-21.] This approach also has the support of Revelation 1:19 that promises a revelation of things yet future.
Whereas chapters 4-18 present events culminating in Jesus Christ’s second coming, there are clues in the text that not everything in these chapters is in chronological order. I will point out these clues in the exposition to follow. There is also evidence in the text that as the time of Christ’s return approaches predicted events will occur more closely together. The revelation of these events becomes correspondingly fuller. Jesus’ second coming is the true climax of this section of the book and the true climax of history on planet earth.
N. The eternal state 21:1-22:5
The next scenes in John’s visions proved to be of conditions that will exist after the Millennium. He recorded this insight to reveal the final home of believers. There are many allusions to Isaiah 60, 65 and Ezekiel 40-48 in this pericope. The final two chapters also tie up strands of revelation from every major previous section of the book. This pericope is a picture of new beginnings, a sharp contrast with the lake of fire, another final end, in the previous one.
Beale believed the purpose of this section is to contrast the church imperfect (chs. 1-3) and the church perfected. He took most of the descriptions figuratively but believed in a literal destruction of the old cosmos. [Note: Beale, pp. 1039-40.]
Note some contrasts between the former creation and the future creation. [Note: Adapted from Wiersbe, 2:621.]
|Heavens and earth created (Genesis 1:1)||New heavens and earth (Revelation 21:1)|
|Sun created (Genesis 1:16)||No need of the sun (Revelation 21:23)|
|The night established (Genesis 1:5)||No night there (Revelation 21:25; Revelation 22:5)|
|The seas created (Genesis 1:10)||No more seas (Revelation 21:1)|
|The curse announced (Genesis 3:14-17)||No more curse (Revelation 22:3)|
|Death enters history (Genesis 3:19)||No more death (Revelation 21:4)|
|Man driven from the tree (Genesis 3:24)||Man restored to paradise (Revelation 22:14)|
|Sorrow and pain begin (Genesis 3:17)||No more mourning, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4)|
3. John’s second vision of the New Jerusalem 21:9-22:5
God now provided John with more information about the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). Similarly Revelation 17:1 to Revelation 19:10 expanded the announcement of Babylon’s fall in Revelation 16:19. The chronological progression of the revelation in Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 22:5 locates the New Jerusalem in the new creation, not in the Millennium.
"And he showed me" signals new aspects of the city that John’s angel-guide proceeded to point out. The pure river seems to be symbolic of the refreshment and sustenance that God provides through eternal life (cf. Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; Psalms 36:9; Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 16:22; Zechariah 14:8), though it, like the city itself, is probably also a literal river (cf. Genesis 2:10; Genesis 2:14). We should not confuse this river with the one flowing from the Jerusalem temple during the Millennium (Ezekiel 47:1; Ezekiel 47:9; Ezekiel 47:12; Zechariah 14:8). John described the river he saw as bright or clear as a crystal; it was a shimmering, sparkling stream of unpolluted water. [Note: Robertson, 6:479.] This river proceeded from the throne that belongs to God and the Lamb (cf. Revelation 22:3; Revelation 3:21; Isaiah 35:6-9; Ezekiel 47:1; Zechariah 14:8; Hebrews 1:3). This throne evidently stood at the head of the main street of the city so that looking down this street the throne appeared to be in its middle. Revelation 22:1-2 make slightly better sense if we take the clause "in the middle of its street" as describing the location of the throne. In this case it completes the thought begun in Revelation 22:1. The other option is to take it as describing the location of the tree. In this case it begins the thought that continues through Revelation 22:2.
"This is a symbolic way of describing the reign of eternal life in the age to come [and God as its source]. The symbolism of a river of life is a common one in biblical thought [cf. Psalms 46:4; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 14:8; John 4:10; John 4:14]." [Note: Ladd, p. 286.]
"The point of the passage is to teach that in the eternal state God’s people will live at the source of the life-giving stream, the very presence of God Himself . . ." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p. 482. See Mounce, p. 386.]
The restoration of Paradise 22:1-5
Essentially what John saw next was Paradise regained (cf. Revelation 2:7; Genesis 2; Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:2). Having viewed the splendor of the New Jerusalem he now saw what will nourish and enrich the lives of God’s people there.
"Up to this chapter, the New Jerusalem seems to be all mineral and no vegetable. Its appearance is as the dazzling display of a fabulous jewelry store; we wonder if there is no soft grass to sit upon, no green trees to enjoy, and no water to drink or food to eat. However, here are introduced the elements which add a rich softness to this city of elaborate beauty." [Note: McGee, 5:1075.]
John also saw the tree of life. Several commentators take the reference to the "tree" (singular) as generic. They believe that John really saw many trees. [Note: E.g., Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p. 484).] I think it is better to interpret the reference as one tree since this is the normal meaning of the singular noun. When Adam and Eve fell, they lost their access to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (cf. Genesis 2:9; Genesis 3:22-24). In the eternal city the residents will have access to the tree of life there.
The description of this tree’s location is debatable, but perhaps John saw the river dividing and flowing on both sides of it. A tree surrounded by water is the epitome of a fruitful tree (cf. Psalms 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8; Ezekiel 19:10; Ezekiel 47:12). This tree was perpetually rather than seasonally in fruit; it produced a new crop of fruit each month of the year. Evidently the new creation will not have a lunar calendar, since there will be no moon (Revelation 21:23), but another type of calendar will define months. Most fruit trees in the old creation bear fruit only a few months each year at most. In contrast, God’s blessing of fruitfulness will mark life in the new earth. The tree of life in the Garden of Eden could perpetuate life forever (Genesis 3:22; Genesis 3:24). Evidently that will be the function of this tree in the new earth as well, to sustain immortality. "Healing" really means "health-giving" (Gr. therapeian). Since there will be no death in the new earth these leaves will evidently promote wellbeing. [Note: For an amillennial study of the symbolism used in Genesis 2-3 and Revelation 21:9-22:5, as ancient cosmography used the figures of a garden, a city, and a mountain, see Ken Olles and Warren Gage, "The City of God and the Cities of Men."] They will provide healing from the conditions of the old creation as the wiping away of tears removed the sorrows of the old creation (cf. Revelation 21:4; Ezekiel 47:12). The nations are groups of people in the new creation viewed according to their old creation divisions (cf. Revelation 21:24).
"It seems possible therefore to understand participation in the tree of life as a regular experience of fellowshipping with God, i.e., eating of this monthly fruit." [Note: Dillow, p. 474.]
There will no longer be a curse because the tree of life will heal (redeem?) the nations. The curse in view is probably the curse that God pronounced on the old creation at the Fall (cf. Zechariah 14:11; Malachi 4:6). God will have intimate fellowship with His people because this curse has now been lifted. Evidently believers (His bond-servants in the new creation; cf. Revelation 1:1) will occupy themselves serving God and the Lamb in the new earth. The Greek word for "serve" (latreuo) suggests priestly service in view of its other uses in this book (cf. Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6). "His" and "Him" present God and the Lamb as essentially one being.
God’s bond-servants will see God’s face; we will enjoy personal, intimate fellowship with Him. We will be able to do this because we will be pure in heart, righteous, and holy then (cf. Psalms 11:7; Psalms 17:15; Matthew 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Hebrews 12:14). Adam and Eve’s sin broke their fellowship with God, and they hid from Him (Genesis 3:8; cf. Exodus 33:20; Exodus 33:23). Our ability to view God’s glory is limited now (cf. Job 19:25-27; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 9:7), but then it will be unhindered (1 John 3:2). Scripture does not reveal whether we will see one, two, or three persons of the Godhead.
Moreover we will bear God’s name on our foreheads. Having His name on our foreheads means that we will be His and will reflect His divine glory in our persons. Having a name on one’s forehead appeared three times earlier in this book (Revelation 3:12; Revelation 7:3; Revelation 14:1). In each case it was a great privilege indicating ownership and protection as well as identification (cf. Exodus 28:36-38).
The final point John stressed was the great glory of God that will illuminate the whole new earth (Revelation 21:23-25; cf. Zechariah 14:6-7; Zechariah 14:9). Previously he mentioned this to show how glorious the city will be, but now he did so to emphasize what delight this will result in for the city-dwellers (cf. Numbers 6:22-27). He added that His bond-servants will reign with Him forever, not just in the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4; Revelation 20:6). This is the fulfillment of God’s desire and command that man should rule over His creation (Genesis 1:26). [Note: Beckwith, p. 767; Wall, pp. 257-58.] Evidently faithful believers will have more authority in the new creation than unfaithful believers, as will be true during the Millennium (cf. Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27). However, we should not think of a type of rule in which some people become the objects of oppression.
"Our faithfulness in life prepares us for higher service in heaven." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:624.]
"Who knows but what He will give to each saint a world or a solar system or a galactic system to operate. Remember that Adam was given dominion over the old creation on this earth." [Note: McGee, 5:1077.]
Thus the prophecy of things that shall take place after present things (Revelation 1:19), which began in Revelation 4:1, closes with another picture of God’s servants worshipping around His throne and ruling under His authority.
"As seen in the Book of Revelation, worship today should involve adoration of God’s being, declaration of the Lamb’s worthiness, a celebration of God’s presence, submission to His authority, and fearing and serving Him." [Note: Mazie Nakhro, "The Meaning of Worship according to the Book of Revelation," Bibliotheca Sacra 158:629 (January-March 2001):85.]
Many commentators believed that the New Jerusalem is the place to which Jesus referred when He told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them (John 14:2). However, He probably meant that His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension constituted His preparatory work rather than His special creation of the new heavens and earth.
Sometimes people speak of the new heavens and earth as the eternal state. This terminology has led some to conclude that time as we know it, which marks events in sequence, will end when God destroys the present heavens and earth. This view was popular with some pagan Greek philosophers, and Origen held it. Some non-Christian eastern religions teach this view, and some Christians hold it today. There is no indication in the text, however, that the new creation will introduce a timeless form of existence. In fact the term "forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10; Revelation 21:5) implies the continuation of time without end. Furthermore the reference to months (Revelation 22:2) implies the sequence of events. The references to distances picture a creation in which there is not only time but space (cf. Revelation 21:2-3; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 21:10; Revelation 21:13-17; Revelation 21:24-27; Revelation 22:1-2).
"’Eternity’ to Old Testament people was not timelessness or absence of time. They knew no such realm. It was, rather, extension of time-as far back and as far forward as one could imagine-’time in its wholeness’ (JB), ’sense of time past and future’ (NEB)." [Note: David A. Hubbard, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, pp. 106-7. See also Leonard L. Thompson, The Book of Revelation, Apocalypse and Empire, p. 67; and Oscar Cullmann, Christ and Time.]
"We do well to return again and again to Revelation 21, 22, for it is the end of the pilgrim path. The more distinct the vision to the pilgrim of the beauty and glory of the city to which he journeys, the less the immediate environments of his journey attract him." [Note: Newell, p. 348.]
"This final vision of the book concerning these same five themes-new covenant, new temple, new Israel, new Jerusalem, and new creation-is also the climax and the expression of the main point of the Apocalypse thus far. But it is not the main point of the whole book. Why is this vision placed at the end of the book? It is here to underscore the ultimate basis for John’s final goal and purpose in writing: to exhort God’s people to remain faithful. . . .
"While the main goal of the book’s argument is to exhort God’s people to remain faithful so that they will inherit final salvation, this is not the most important theological idea in the book. The major theological theme of the book is the glory that God is to receive for accomplishing consummate salvation and final judgment . . ." [Note: Beale, pp. 1119-20. Italics omitted.]
The angel who had been revealing the new creation to John, one of the angels who had the seven bowls (Revelation 21:9), continued to speak to him. [Note: Swete, p. 302; Beckwith, p. 772; Robertson, 6:481; Beasley-Murray, p. 334.] He assured John that the things prophesied to happen soon (Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 22:5), which John had just seen, were faithful and true (cf. Revelation 22:6; Daniel 8:26). [Note: Alford, 4:746; Swete, p. 302; Lee, 4:837; Beckwith, p. 772; Robertson, 6:481.]
"No book in the Bible has a more pointed attestation, a stronger safeguarding against tampering, or a more urgent recommendation for study and observance than does the Apocalypse, especially in its Epilogue." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p. 495.]
The angel proceeded to explain why these words are faithful and true. It was the Lord, the God who inspired the prophets, who had revealed what John had received. The spirits of the prophets are their own human spirits (cf. Revelation 19:10). God had sent His angel to reveal these things to His bond-servant John, who was one of the prophets. Specifically, He had revealed things that must happen soon. The purpose of this verse is to stress the authenticity of this revelation and to encourage anticipation of its fulfillment.
This statement reinforces a futuristic interpretation of Revelation. The book deals with events yet future. It also indicates that God intended the reader to understand this book. It is a revelation, not an incomprehensible mystery, even though much of the revelation is symbolic and difficult to understand.
A. The testimony of the angel 22:6-7
IV. THE EPILOGUE TO THE BOOK 22:6-21
In this final section of the book John reported concluding information and instructions that God gave him. He did this to comfort and caution his readers and to affirm the authority of this book.
"The concluding paragraphs of the Revelation sum up and press home on the reader’s conscience the foremost practical lessons of the book." [Note: Beasley-Murray, p. 334.]
This section consists of verbal exchanges between an angel and John, and between Jesus and John. Three emphases mark this epilogue. [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p. 493.] First, this prophecy is genuine (Revelation 22:6-9; Revelation 22:16; Revelation 22:18-19). Second, Jesus will return imminently (Revelation 22:6-7; Revelation 22:10; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20). Third, the unfit should beware, and the faithful should take courage (Revelation 22:11-12; Revelation 22:15; Revelation 22:17-19). The whole epilogue is very similar to the first chapter in many ways.
|Origin of the prophecy: God and Jesus||Revelation 1:1||Revelation 22:6|
|Subject of the prophecy: coming events||Revelation 1:1||Revelation 22:6|
|Mediator of the prophecy: an angel||Revelation 1:1||Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:8; Revelation 22:16|
|Writer of the prophecy: John||Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:9||Revelation 22:8|
|Genuineness of the prophecy: true prophecy||Revelation 1:3||Revelation 22:6-7; Revelation 22:9-10; Revelation 22:18-19|
|Vehicle of the prophecy: a prophet||Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:9-11||Revelation 22:8-10|
|Addressees of the prophecy: bond-servants||Revelation 1:1||Revelation 22:6|
|Destination of the prophecy: churches||Revelation 1:3; Revelation 1:11||Revelation 22:16; Revelation 22:18|
|Blessing of the prophecy: for obedience||Revelation 1:3||Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:14|
|Warning of the prophecy: for unfaithfulness||Revelation 1:7||Revelation 22:11-12; Revelation 22:18-19|
|Center of the prophecy: Christ||Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 1:9||Revelation 22:16; Revelation 22:18; Revelation 22:20|
|God of the prophecy: Alpha and Omega||Revelation 1:17||Revelation 22:13|
|Chief character of the prophecy: God||Revelation 1:5; Revelation 1:7||Revelation 22:12-13; Revelation 22:16|
|Hope of the prophecy: soon return||Revelation 1:3; Revelation 1:7||Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:10; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20|
Probably the angel relayed these words of Christ (cf. Revelation 22:12-13) to John (cf. Revelation 16:15). Jesus Christ promised to return soon (cf. Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20; Revelation 3:11). Reconstructionism (dominion theology) and preterism refer this imminence to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. [Note: See Chilton, The Days . . ., p. 575; and Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell, pp. 142-45.] The Greek word translated "quickly" (tachy) means "soon." The Second Coming is the great climactic event in view through most of this prophecy, but applying this word about imminence to the Rapture is certainly legitimate. [Note: See Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p. 489.]
". . . it is quite evident that He would have us live in the constant expectation of His advent being imminent." [Note: W. Lincoln, Lectures on the Book of Revelation, p. 241. See also Stanton’s discussion of imminency in Kept from . . ., pp. 108-37, and Wayne A. Brindle, "Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture," Bibliotheca Sacra 158:630 (April-June 2001):150-51.]
The book closes as it opened, with a special blessing for those who pay attention to what it teaches (Revelation 1:3; cf. Revelation 16:5). Here, however, the speaker is Christ, whom the angel apparently quoted. John evidently wrote this book as his visions unfolded (cf. Revelation 10:4).
It is ironical that people have neglected this book even though it contains more promises of blessing than any other book in the Bible. Everyone should continue to study it.
John resumed addressing the reader, which he had not done since Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:9. He affirmed the angel’s words that the prophecy was genuine. He himself had heard and had seen the things that he had recorded (cf. Daniel 8:15; Daniel 12:5). He was an eyewitness of these things (cf. John 1:14; John 19:35; John 21:14; 1 John 1:1-3; 1 John 4:14).
John confessed that when he had heard and seen these things he reacted by worshipping the angel who revealed them to him (cf. Revelation 19:10). It was the revelation of the new creation that evidently moved John to respond this way a second time. John’s strong reaction further attests the genuineness of the amazing revelations that he had received.
B. The testimony of John 22:8-11
This angel also rebuked John for worshipping him (cf. Revelation 19:10). This may have been the same angel whom John tried to worship earlier (Revelation 19:10). People should worship God, not His servants. The angel presented himself as a fellow servant of John’s; they both served God. He said he also served the other prophets besides John as well as all believers who pay attention to what God has revealed in this book. The specific mention of the prophets as a special group of believers here heightens respect for all prophecy and this prophecy in particular.
"The ultimate goal of the book’s revelation is that it would inspire worship of God." [Note: Beale, p. 1129.]
John received instruction from the angel to leave his book open. He was not to close it because the fulfillment of the events predicted was near, and people needed to be aware of them (cf. Revelation 1:11). God had told Daniel to seal his prophecy, evidently because there was more prophecy to come (Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:4; Daniel 12:9-10; cf. Revelation 10:4). As an artist covers his work when it is under construction until it is complete, so God covered His picture of the future until He finished it.
The angel gave John this warning to pass along because the time is near (Revelation 22:10). This is a strong warning not to put off becoming a believer in Jesus Christ. It presents the hopelessness of the final state of unbelievers. When Christ comes, people will not be able to change their destiny. What they are then they will remain forever. People should not expect some second chance in the future but should make the decision about worshipping God now in the light of what they have read in this book (cf. Matthew 25:10; Luke 13:25; Hebrews 9:27).
"It is not only true that the troubles of the last days will tend to fix the character of each individual according to the habits which he has already formed, but there will come a time when change will be impossible-when no further opportunity will be given for repentance on the one hand or for apostasy on the other." [Note: Swete, p. 305.]
Remember the pharaoh of the Exodus.
"All four parts of Revelation 22:11 indicate with a tone of irony the fixity of state in which the good and the evil find themselves at a time when no further opportunity for repentance remains. The lesson is, ’Change while there is time.’" [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p. 502.]
This verse does not teach that for some people repentance and conversion are impossible now (cf. Revelation 22:17). It is a guarantee of personal responsibility for one’s decisions (cf. Ezekiel 3:27; Matthew 11:15; Revelation 2:7; Revelation 13:9; et al.).
Jesus Christ repeated His promise to return soon (Revelation 22:7; cf. Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:20).
"Nowhere is a date set, nor was there any definite promise that the consummation would occur within the lifetime of the first century Christians. Nevertheless, the possibility of the Lord’s advent was always present." [Note: Tenney, p. 150.]
Christ’s words continue through Revelation 22:19. Instead of promising a blessing, as He did earlier (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 16:5), this time He promised to judge. He will reward both the good and the bad. This is a reward that He has to give. This prospect strengthens the warning in Revelation 22:11. Jesus Christ will judge all people finally on the basis of their works (cf. Revelation 20:12; Jeremiah 17:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11).
"Whereas salvation is of grace, rewards are according to works." [Note: Smith, A Revelation . . ., p. 302. Cf. Matthew 16:27; Luke 23:41; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 11:15; 2 Timothy 4:14; Hebrews 2:2; Revelation 2:23; 11:18, 18:6; 20:12, 13.]
"God gives us His salvation, but He pays us for our good works." [Note: Zane C. Hodges, "The Doctrine of Rewards, Part 1: Rewards and Grace," Grace Evangelical Society News 9:5 (September-October 1994):4.]
In view of Jesus Christ’s soon return Christians should be diligent to lay up treasure in heaven while we have the time (Matthew 6:19-21).
C. The testimony of Jesus and John’s response 22:12-20
Jesus Christ offered three titles for Himself that give assurance that He can and will fulfill His former promise to reward (cf. Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:8; Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 21:6). Jesus Christ, as well as God the Father, is the Alpha and Omega (cf. Revelation 1:8; Revelation 21:6). This title stresses His eternality and sovereignty. "The first and the last" is also a title for Christ (Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:8) and the Father (Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12). It emphasizes that God is the cause and goal of history. "The beginning and the end" describes God in Revelation 21:6 and Christ in Hebrews 12:2. It means that He finishes what He starts. [Note: Hughes, p. 238.]
This final blessing in the book (cf. Revelation 1:3; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 16:15; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 22:7) announces God’s favor on those who cleanse themselves by turning to Christ for salvation (cf. Revelation 7:14; Revelation 21:27). The robe one wears is a figure for one’s works, which others see (Revelation 19:8; cf. Revelation 7:14).
People who wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb will have access to the tree of life (i.e., they will live forever in the new creation). They will also enter the New Jerusalem by its gates (i.e., they will be able to enjoy intimate fellowship with God).
The opposite of the blessings described in Revelation 22:14 is exclusion from the New Jerusalem, namely, eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:8). Jesus described the people who will not enter the city by the works that mark their lives of unbelief. "Dogs" is a metaphor for the morally impure (cf. Deuteronomy 23:18; 2 Kings 8:13; Psalms 22:16; Psalms 22:20; Isaiah 56:10; Matthew 7:6; Matthew 15:26; Mark 7:27; Philippians 3:2-3). In John’s day many dogs were wild, aggressive scavengers. [Note: Robertson, 6:485; Johnson, p. 602.] Their fate should warn believers not to fall into apostasy and its associated vices. [Note: Wall, p. 266.] The other types of individuals named here appear in other lists of wicked unbelievers (cf. Revelation 21:8).
The combination "I Jesus" occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Here Jesus used it to stress His role in producing this book and so to strengthen its authority (cf. Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12). "My angel" is the main angel who revealed this material to John (cf. Revelation 22:6). The angel gave the whole revelation ("these things") to John, but it was ultimately for all the churches, not just the seven churches of Asia Minor (cf. Revelation 1:4; chs. 2-3).
David founded old Jerusalem, but David’s greatest son will establish the New Jerusalem. However, Jesus was the ancestor of David as well as His descendant, the root as well as the offspring of David (cf. Isaiah 11:1). Consequently He fulfills all the prophecies concerning David’s family. Jesus also called Himself the morning star prophesied to come the second time (cf. Revelation 2:28). The appearance of the morning star heralds the dawn of a new day. Similarly the Lord’s second coming will herald the dawn of a new day in history. He is the brightest of all personal stars, as the morning star is the brightest physical star in the sky. He is the star that would come forth from Jacob (Numbers 24:17).
"The ’root’ is buried in the ground where no one can see it, but the ’star’ is in the heavens where everyone can see it." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:625.]
Jesus continued speaking to John. The "Spirit" is God’s Holy Spirit, and the "bride" is probably the church, not the New Jerusalem, since this appeal is to the present bride of Christ. [Note: Moffatt, p. 492.] Jesus quoted both of these entities reiterating their appeal to Himself to come back to the earth (cf. Revelation 1:7). "The one who hears" is everyone who hears this book read in the churches, as was common in John’s day. This includes modern readers of it, of course. These individuals, as well as the bride gathered corporately, should likewise pray for the Lord’s return (cf. Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2).
"If the Holy Spirit, the church, and the Apostle John knew that Christ could not return at any moment because of other events or a time period that had to transpire first [i.e., Daniel’s seventieth week], why did they command Him in a way that implied that He could come at any moment?" [Note: Showers, Maranatha . . ., p. 142. See also his brief history of belief in the imminent coming of Christ on pp. 142-47.]
Now Jesus turned the invitation around. He invited the thirsty to come to Him and take the water of life freely (cf. Revelation 22:1; Revelation 7:16; Revelation 21:6; Isaiah 55:1; Matthew 5:6; John 6:35; John 7:37). Unbelievers obviously need to take their first drink of this living water, which represents Christ and eternal life, but believers also need to keep slaking their thirst by coming to Him again and again. The one who is thirsty is the person who senses his or her need (cf. Matthew 5:6; John 4:10). "The one who wishes" is broad enough to include every single individual. This is an unusually winsome invitation (cf. Revelation 21:6; Matthew 11:28). The water of life costs the one who comes for it nothing. It costs us nothing, but it cost Jesus Christ greatly to give Himself for us.
Jesus continued to speak. The high degree of authority of this statement, which continues in the next verse, supports this conclusion. This warning contrasts with the invitation that the Lord just extended (cf. Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 7:15; Deuteronomy 12:32; Deuteronomy 28:27; Deuteronomy 28:60; Proverbs 30:5-6; Jeremiah 26:2). "This book" refers to the Book of Revelation. The prophecy of it summarizes the contents of the book. Those who hear it are everyone in the seven churches and all subsequent hearers (cf. Revelation 1:3). This includes copyists, translators, and teachers of it.
"He is not concerned about possible mechanical errors in transmission or mistakes of judgment in interpreting his message, but in deliberate distortions and perversions of it." [Note: Ladd, p. 295. Cf. Swete, p. 313.]
Adding material to or deleting sections from the prophecies contained in this book will result in punishment from God. Specifically, God will visit the offender with the plagues written in this book. This seems to imply that anyone who does this will either lose his or her salvation or not be a believer in the first place. Another possibility is that Jesus was using hyperbole to stress the heinousness of this sin. The best solution seems to be that the plagues written in this book are severe judgments from God. What Jesus meant was that anyone who perverts the teaching of this book will experience judgment from God that is similar to the judgments that will come on the earth-dwellers during the Tribulation. Jesus warned of plagues, not loss of salvation. How important it is to understand and communicate God’s truth accurately, especially the truths God revealed in this book (cf. Galatians 1:6-7)! Thomas believed this verse announced the termination of the gift of prophecy and the cessation of revelation in the church. [Note: Robert Thomas, "The Spiritual Gift of Prophecy in Revelation 22:18," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 32:2 (June 1989):201-16.] However this seems to be going beyond what Jesus really said.
Taking away "his part" from the tree of life and the New Jerusalem does not mean he will lose his salvation either. If the person who corrupts Revelation is an unbeliever, he or she will have no part (share) in the blessings of the new creation. If he or she is a believer, the part (share) lost must be some special privilege in the eternal state. In other words, a believer who perverts the teaching of this book may lose part of his or her eternal reward. To say that a true child of God would never tamper with these Scriptures is simply naive. "Anyone" means anyone.
The Book of Revelation opened with a blessing on all who obey its instructions (Revelation 1:3), and it closes with a strong curse on all who disobey it.
Evidently John now quoted Jesus’ promise to come soon. Christ’s promise to come soon was His response to the prayers of the Spirit, the bride, and the faithful hearers (Revelation 22:17). "He who testifies to these things" is Jesus. The things in view are the words of Jesus in Revelation 22:12-19, but beyond that everything in this book (cf. Revelation 1:2). This is the third time in this pericope that we read that Jesus Christ promised to come quickly (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12). How can we doubt His word?
"Nor is it here alone, but throughout the New Testament in general, that such expressions are used. Everywhere is the promised Apocalypse of the Lord Jesus represented as close at hand, liable to occur at any time. The impression thus made upon the early Christians was, that Christ might come at any day or hour, even in their own lifetime. Exactly when he would come, was nowhere told them. . . .
"Ever, as the Church moves on through time, and above all in the days in which we live, the next thing for every Christian to be looking for in this world is the coming of Christ to fulfill what is written in this Book. The Bible tells of nothing between us and that day." [Note: Seiss, p. 523.]
John added his "amen" affirming his belief that Jesus would come soon, and he voiced his personal petition that He would do so as He promised. This verse and the next are the only ones in Revelation that refer to Jesus Christ as the "Lord Jesus," though this title is common in other New Testament books. It acknowledges Jesus’ deity and thus His right to judge.
D. The final benediction 22:21
This benediction wishes God’s enabling grace on all who read the book.
"As in revelation, so in history: grace shall have the last word!" [Note: Beasley-Murray, p. 350.]
God’s grace makes faith, for the unbelieving reader, and faithfulness, for the believing reader, possible (cf. Revelation 1:4). This benediction is a prayer that all its hearers and readers may respond to the revelation of this book appropriately. It is an unusual way to end an apocalypse, but it was a common way to close a first-century Christian letter (cf. Revelation 1:1).
"We are reminded here again, as in Revelation 1:1-4, that the Apocalypse is broadly conceived of as an epistle, the contents of which are apocalyptic and prophetic in genre (see on Revelation 1:1-3)." [Note: Beale, p. 1156.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 22". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent