Attention! has pledged to build one church a year in Uganda. Help us double that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries

Keathley's Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 22

Verses 6-21

Revelation 22:6-66.22.21 (See the Book Comments for the Introductory chapters and Appendices)

Lesson 31: The Epilogue ( Rev 22:6-21 )

The Concluding Promises of the Prophecy ( Rev 22:6-16 )

6 And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place. 7 "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."

8 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. 9 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."

10 And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 "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." 12 "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. 16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."

The Promise of Faithfulness ( Rev 22:6 )

There are perhaps no more significant and awesome words in Scripture than those of this epilogue. In these verses we have the manifold testimony of the voices of the angel, Jesus, the Spirit, the bride, and John. These verses are full of encourage-ment, declaration, warning, and response to God. They are tremen-dously significant; may we read them with care and attentiveness. Listen to these words in terms of your entire life, your lifestyle, purposes, goals, priorities, and commitment to God, His faithful Word, and the soon coming Savior.

"And he said to me, These words are faithful and true" declares the certainty and reliability of God’s Word. Literally the Greek says, "these words (i.e., of this prophecy), faithful and true." This is a nominal sentence with no verb expressed. It is understood of course, but this is somewhat emphatic and stresses the ideas of faithful and true. "Faithful" is the Greek pistos and means, "reliable, trustworthy." "True" is ale„thinos and means, "real, genuine, versus spurious or false."

In contrast to the many human viewpoint foundations or cunning-ly devised fables upon which men try to build their lives stands the faithful and true Word from God. Man’s viewpoint without the Bible must be built upon speculation, human reason, and exper-ience, all of which are very unreliable due to man’s condition in sin, his short life span, his deductive thinking, his constant tendency to interpret facts with his presuppositions, his limited experience and the amount of knowledge he can retain and use, and of course, due to the unseen and demonic forces which deceive and warp his viewpoint. All of this makes man’s human viewpoint ideas about as reliable as a lily pad for a foundation, especially in spiritual matters.

The real issue here and throughout Scripture is that which makes the Bible, or any portion of it such as this prophecy, faithful and true. Behind Scripture or behind "these words" is "the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets." "Lord" is kurios and emphasizes God’s sovereignty, universal power, and authority. "God" is theos which brings out the aspect of God’s divine essence as God. So, in contrast to man and his weaknesses there is God who, in all His divine essence (sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, veracity, etc.), stands behind these words ensuring their accuracy, reliability, and truthfulness. This is made clear by the next clause, "of the spirits of the prophets." The preposition "of" represents in the Greek text what grammarians call a genitive of rule or control. God is the sovereign Lord in control of the spirits of the prophets (cf. 2Pe 1:20-21 ). "Spirits" refer to the human spirits within the prophets who were the human agents in the reception and transmission of Scripture.

The same God who inspired the Old Testament and the rest of the New Testament here authenticates the words of the book of Revelation as well. Two things are authenticated: (a) that these words (i.e., the prophecy) are faithful and true, but also (b) that it must all shortly take place.

"The things which must shortly take place" would be better translated as, "that which must quickly come to pass." What must come to pass quite clearly refers to the future events, the events of the Tribulation as described in this book (Rev. 4 - 19). As seen before, the primary sense of "quickly" is that once these events start, the events of this book and their judgments will occur rapidly. But there is also a note of imminency (cf.Revelation 1:3; Revelation 1:3 ; and Revelation 22:10 "the time is near"). The future is viewed, in God’s reckoning of time ( 2Pe 3:9 ), as imminent and without the necessity of any intervening time periods. After the church age, which is culminated by the rapture of the church, comes the Tribulation--and that could be just around the corner.

The Promise of His Coming (Revelation 22:7 a)

With the mention of these events that must come quickly and that are next in the program of God, our Lord immediately addresses John and says, "behold, I am coming quickly." Here is that event, not a time period, which must come to pass, i.e., Christ’s return for the church. Here again is the blessed hope, the coming of Christ for the church which keeps us out of the hour of trial ( Rev 3:10 ).

Note three things here about this blessed promise:

(1) It is introduced with "behold." In the Greek this is a demonstrative particle used to arouse attention and enliven the setting. Christ our Deliverer is coming for us; this will be the most momentous event of our lives.

(2) "I am coming" in the Greek is a present tense verb. It is what we call a futuristic or prophetic present. This is used of an event which is so certain that it is regarded as already in the process of coming to pass.

(3) "Quickly" is the adjective tachus which means "swift, quick, speedy." In the neuter singular, as here ( tachu ) it is used as an adverb to mean "quickly, at once, or suddenly (cf. 1:3; 3:3, 11; 16:15). The point is that our Lord is coming, and when He comes, He is coming suddenly, without warning, as a thief who comes without announcement. Then comes the Tribulation with all its horror. If one is not ready, that is one does not know Jesus Christ as his Savior, he will find himself in the Tribulation, in the events which must come to pass shortly or next.

The Promise of Blessing to Those Who Heed (Revelation 22:7 b)

Here is another of the beatitudes of Scripture, the pronouncement of blessing or happiness upon those who comply with certain imperatives and principles of the Word, not meritoriously, but out of faith in the truth of God. It describes a state of blessing which God promises for both now and the future life. It means the capacity for happiness now even in the midst of the trials. But it also describes the blessing or happiness which comes from facing life with the promises of the Word.

"Blessed" is the Greek makarios which means literally "happy." But it describes not the boisterous, fun and games happiness of the world, but the inner happiness and spiritual contentment which comes from knowing and trusting the Lord by keeping His Word and living by its truth.

With the words, "is he who heeds…" we are pointed to the recipients of this happiness. Literally we can translate the Greek, "happy (blessed) is the one who continues to keep the words (plural) of the prophecy…" The Greek describes one who is character-ized by the action of the verb, the action of keeping. This person is characterized by consistency in the realm of keeping these words. But what does it mean to keep?

The verb is te„reo„ , "guard, watch over, protect, keep in custody, observe, fulfill, and pay attention or give heed to." It is especially used of the teachings of the Word. Its equivalent in the Old Testament is the Hebrew shamar, "keep, guard." All of these ideas have application, though the main point is obedience, the personal application of the truth.

Now what are we to keep? We are to keep "the words of the prophecy of the book." "Words" is plural and it is the Greek term logos which, in the singular, is used of the Lord, the Word ( Joh 1:1 ) and of the Scripture, the Word of God ( Heb 4:12 ). The use here of logos in the plural may suggest three things to us: (a) It stresses the importance and need of knowing the details of this book, as well as the rest of the Bible. The more we know and apply, the greater our capacity for real happiness. (b) The plural looks at the individual words, stressing the concept of inspiration down to the very words themselves. The understanding of concepts is based on the understanding of the words. (c) The plural of logos was however, also used of specific sayings, or teachings (doctrines), or parts of a whole work (cf. LXX, Exodus 34:28 ; Deu 10:4 ). In this we see the necessity and blessing which comes from knowing the various doctrines or specific teachings of Revelation.

But how does one heed or guard the various doctrinal categories of Revelation and its teaching? (a) We keep it in custody, i.e., we learn it, store it, as a result of careful study. (b) We watch over it, protect what we have learned, i.e., we renew it, review it, keep it fresh and on our heart ( Rev 2:4-5 ). (c) We pay attention to it, obey it, i.e., we live in the light of it, we apply it to our lives.

For church age saints, finding happiness and spiritual joy through the words of this prophecy involves such things as: (a) Observing the warnings of Revelation 2:1-66.2.29 ; Rev 3:1-22 to the church, warnings against dead, cold orthodoxy, apostasy, immorality, materialism, etc. (b) Living constantly in light of the presence of Christ in our midst and of His imminent coming, knowing that our work in the Lord is never in vain. (c) Carrying on a vital witness, having an open door to the unbelieving world in view of the coming Tribulation and the lake of fire that we might see men snatched from hell ( Jud 1:23 ). (d) Living as sojourners who refuse to become bogged down with materialism and who live with a view to the eternal city. (e) Enduring the trials of this life during this age of darkness, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the glory which is to follow. (f) Remembering that God’s plan is being accomplished, that He is sovereign and still on the throne as we see this old world moving farther and farther away from the Lord and the absolutes of His Word.

These are just a few of the practical applications of this book and its various truths. There are many, many more. See how many you can think of.

The Promise and Declaration--God Alone is Worthy of Worship ( Rev 22:8-9 )

The Response to the Message ( Rev 22:8 )

First we read, "I ( kago„ , literally, "and I"), John, am the one who heard and saw these things," i.e., the glorious things of the eternal city. Why does John identify himself here at this point? Because of the tremendous en-couragement of these things and their overwhelming and awesome nature, he wanted his readers to be impressed with the fact that he really did see these things under divine inspiration.

Literally the Greek text has "the one hearing and seeing these things…" The Greek has the present tense. Though the visions were at that point a past historical fact, John used the vivid historical present tense in order to emphasize the vividness and reality of these revelations which he had received.

Again, as in 19:10, John is overawed by the things the angel had revealed to him. In the process, he again lost the biblical perspec-tive and fell down to worship at the feet of the angelic messenger. The repetition of this (see 19:10) brings out the impending and imminent threat of this problem for both the messenger and the messengeree. The message of God’s Word is designed to focus us on the Lord and to enhance our worship of Him, but, if we are not careful we can lose sight of this in our excitement and appreciation of the Word and get our eyes on the messenger. When this happens we can, if we are not careful, become guilty of the carnal divisiveness of the Corinthians (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:11 --13; 1 Corinthians 3:3-46.3.4; 1 Corinthians 3:3-46.3.41 Corinthians 3:3-46.3.4 ; 1 Corinthians 4:6-46.4.7; 1 Corinthians 4:6-46.4.71 Corinthians 4:6-46.4.7 ; 1Co 10:12 ).

The Rebuke of the Messenger ( Rev 22:9 )

Here we see the responsibility of the messenger to guard against such responses for his own spiritual equilibrium as well as that of those to whom he ministers the Word. The main emphasis is that God, who is the Creator of all that John had seen, is alone worthy of such worship.

The Promise that this Book is Not Sealed ( Rev 22:10-11 )

In this command that John is not to seal this book we actually have a promise that this book of apocalyptic revelation can be studied and understood by any who are positive to know God and His Word.

To seal up a book means to conceal, hide its message. "Seal up" is the Greek sphragizo„ which means "to put a seal on something," either to "mark it, identify it, certify it, or to close it, keep it secret." This book, unlike Daniel 12:4 , was never to be sealed and was meant to be understood and applied from the day John received it. Why? Because the time is near, imminent, and people need the truth of this book to under-stand what God is doing and to prepare for what is coming, i.e., to live with a view to these coming events through the perspective of eternity; the contents of this book were needed immediately by the churches and those living in the church age. In view of the imminent return of Christ, critical choices always need to be made.

Revelation 22:11 , which at first seems fatalistic, is closely related toRevelation 22:10; Revelation 22:10 , the unsealed character of this book and the imminent return of the Lord. Actually it is evangelistic. It is an appeal to men to respond to this book, for if one does not, there is no other message which can change him. Concerning this verse Walvoord writes:

If the warnings of the book are not sufficient, there is no more that God has to say. The wicked must con-tinue in their wicked way and be judged by the Lord when He comes. The same rule, however, applies to the righteous. Their reaction to the prophecy, of course, will be different, but the exhortation in their case is to continue in righteousness and holiness. It is an either/or proposition with no neutrality possible. There is a sense also in which present choices fix character; a time is coming when change will be im-possible. Present choices will become permanent in character. [Note: John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press: Chicago, 1966, p. 334 - 335.]

The Promise of Reward at the Lord’s Coming ( Rev 22:12 )

Throughout the New Testament one finds repeated references to the return of the Lord for His bride, the church. Each time there is either a reference to the rewards which will be given or there is some sort of admonishment to godly and purposeful living. This life is a preparation time for eternity and we are to live this life with a view to eternity--God’s glory and our rewards or positions of responsibility in the eternal state.

Our tendency is to forget why we are here and to live as earth dwellers. You know the slogan, "You only go around once in this life, and you need to get all the gusto you can." We are all going to be with Jesus Christ as believers with the possibility of special rewards and responsibilities, but the way we live while here on earth will determine just how we will reign with the Lord, our specific place of responsibility.

So again, as in Revelation 22:7 , the Lord declares the suddenness, the absolute surety and imminency of His return. But here He emphasizes to us His return will mean a dispensing of rewards according to a believer’s faithfulness, "according to what he has done," i.e., accord-ing to how a person has used his time and talents. Salvation is totally by grace, but rewards, though also by grace, are dependent on our works as we have responded to God’s grace.

This is then not only a promise of rewards, but an exhortation and an incentive to godly living and service. This, however, must not be disassociated from the emphasis of Revelation 22:7 b and Rev 22:10 which stress the need to know and under-stand the words of this prophecy, and ultimately Scripture in general. Why? Because the only way we can redeem the time is by living in the Word. The Word of God is both our motivation and correction.

The Promise and Statement of Christ’s Eternality ( Rev 22:13 )

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This, plus the other two titles given here of our Lord (cf. 1:8, 11, 17; 2:8; 21:6), all emphasize the concept that our Lord, who directly spoke to John, is both the beginning (source) as well as the goal and consummation of all things; He is the Eternal Word. This verse confirms and authenticates Christ’s capacity and ability to fulfill these promises (cf. Colossians 1:15 f; Colossians 2:3 ; John 1:1 ; Joh 8:58 ).

The Promise of Blessing to Those Who Wash Their Robes ( Rev 22:14-15 )

Here is the seventh and final beatitude in Revelation. Here the word "blessed" is plural, makarioi , which strongly brings out the multi-tude of blessings given to the robe - washers. The robe stands for one’s condition of righteousness. A dirty robe stands for being without righteousness, falling short of the glory of God. A washed robe is one which has been made white and clean by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It means the person stands in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. It stands for imputed righteousness or justification by faith in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 ; Php 3:9 ).

The tense of the verb is present, but it is what we call in Greek grammar, the perfective present; it describes the abiding results, "washed robes" (cf.Revelation 7:14; Revelation 7:14 ; Rev 3:5 ).

Some translations read "who do His commandments" instead of "who wash their robes," but the older manuscripts have the reading of the NASB and NIV. This is also the most accurate theologically. The reference here is to those who qualify for entrance into the city where they have the right to the tree of life. Though obedience to the commandments of the Lord should be a characteristic of believers, and may even give evidence of one’s faith, entrance into eternity is obtained by faith alone in the person and work of Christ, not by obedience or works (Ephesians 2:8-49.2.9 ; Titus 3:5 ; Joh 3:16 ).

The word "right" in the clause "that they may have the right" is the Greek exousia which means (a) the right or authority to do something, or (b) the power or capacity to do something. Believers, by virtue of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and their glorified and sinless bodies, will have both the right and capacity to dwell in the eternal city in righteousness.

By contrast, unbelievers, who are excluded, are described in Rev 22:15 in terms which bring out the habitual character that they are left with because, having failed to believe in the Savior, they must continue in their sin ( Joh 8:24 ). The unregen-erate remain in their unregenerate condition and character throughout eternity, and the promise is that our eternal home cannot be contaminated by the evil of those with such character as we see every day in our present world. Not only are they excluded from the eternal city and fellowship with God, but they remain in the misery and unhappiness of their fallen state, itself, a judgment of the greatest magnitude. One of the joys the true believer looks forward to is release from his sinful state, the loss of the sinful nature. Read and study carefully Rom 8:18-30 with 6:15 - 25.

The Certification of the Promises to the Churches ( Rev 22:16 )

16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."

First, we see that Jesus Himself sent His angel to bear witness of these things to John and for the churches as instruction, warning, and comfort. "I, Jesus" stresses the fact that Jesus, the man who walked the earth but who is now at God’s right hand, is the One who bears this solemn testimony to certify its reality.

Second, though much of this book will occur after the church is gone ( Rev 3:10 ), it is for us to know and understand. This information is im-portant to our spiritual equilibrium. It aids our understanding of the future and shows us where the present world is going. It gives greater perspective for what is really important today (cf.Hebrews 10:24-58.10.25; Hebrews 10:24-58.10.25 ; Titus 2:11 f). Should this not cause us all to be more involved in reaching the lost for Christ as our next verse, Revelation 22:17 , will show? Please note, this is the first occurrence of the term "church," the Greek ekkle„sia since chapter 3. This indicates that the church is not in the Tribulation. Remember that chapters 6 through 19, which deal with the Tribulation, also deals with Israel. It is the time of Jacob’s trouble and Daniel’s 70th week. For this reason the church is not present or mentioned.

Third, so how does our Lord certify and assure the facts of these things? By who and what He is in relation to Israel and the church, the root and offspring of David and the bright and morning star. The word "root" may refer to a root as the source of something or to a shoot, that which comes from a root. The latter is the meaning here (cf. Isa 11:1-16 ). Such an understanding here also fits with the idea of "an offspring of David." Like a stump, Israel as a nation was cut down and dispersed. But Christ as a shoot which will spring up from David, the legal heir to the throne through Joseph and physically from David through Mary, will fulfill all of God’s promises and covenants. It is He who will restore Israel to the place of blessing (cf. Rom 11:1-36 ).

"The bright and morning star." Literally the Greek has "the star, the bright one, the morning one." (CompareNumbers 24:17; Numbers 24:17 , Balaam’s prophecy;Matthew 2:2; Matthew 2:2 , the statement of the magi, and Revelation 2:28 .) What does a morning star do? It heralds and assures us of a new day and of the conclusion of the night (cf. Rom 13:11-14 ). So Jesus, as the morning star, heralds and assures us of the conclusion of this night season and the coming of a new day which will begin by His return for the church at the rapture to be followed by the glories of the millennium and then the eternal state at the end of the Tribulation. For Israel, Christ is seen as "the Sun of righteousness" ( Mal 4:2 ).

The Invitation and the Promise of Life without Cost ( Rev 22:17 )

17 And 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 wishes take the water of life without cost.

Following this assurance, we immediately read "and the Spirit and the bride say, ‘come.’" This refers to the Holy Spirit and the church, both of whom, along with the Word, are God’s agents of evangelism which is the focus of this verse.

"Come" is a present imperative, used perhaps like an aoristic present meaning, "come today." It is an invitation for men to come to Christ. It reminds us of the concept of Isaiah 55:6 "Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near," Psalms 32:6 "Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found," and 2 Cor-inthians 6:2b "… behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.’" This expresses the responsibility of believers to invite men to Christ and of the responsibility and need of those invited to respond.

Then we read, "let the one who hears." This refers to any person who really hears the message of this book. The effect of this hearing should be a desire to reach others for Christ. So they also say "come."

The final clauses of the verse refers to anyone who wants the life which our Lord seeks to offer. The invitation to come and take is an urgent com-mand for the day will arrive when it is too late. Now is a day of grace, but a day of judgment is imminent and impending. Though multitudes can and will come to Christ during the Tribulation, it will still be a day when receiving Jesus Christ and being a believer will be the most difficult in man’s history.

The Warning of the Prophecy ( Rev 22:18-19 )

18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

In these verses we have a solemn warning against tampering with the meaning and truth of this book. More on this in a moment, but for now, note these phrases which emphasize the Word of God--all of which occur in this final chapter of God’s Word.

· Revelation 22:7 --The words of the prophecy of this book.

· Revelation 22:9 --The words of this book.

· Revelation 22:10 --The words of the prophecy of this book.

· Revelation 22:18 --The words of the prophecy of this book.

· Revelation 22:19 --The words of the book of this prophecy

· Revelation 22:19 --Which are written in this book.

As William R. Newell said in his book on Revelation, "Beware lest the jealousy of God burn like fire--for He has exalted His Word above all His Name ( Psa 138:2 )."

Then notice the emphasis of these words, "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify" ( Rev 22:16 ), "I testify to every man that hears" ( Rev 22:18 ), and "He who testifies these things says" ( Rev 22:20 ).

Jesus Christ, the logos , the revelation of God, has born witness to man of the truth. He did this first in the Old Testament Scriptures, then by His incarnation and life among men which was culminated and authenticated by the testimony of His death, resurrection, resurrection appearances, and ascension. Then He sent the Holy Spirit and the canon of Scripture was gradually completed--being completed with this book of Revelation before A.D. 90. So here He not only guards the words of the book, but absolutely declares Himself as the witness and guarantee of these things.

Therefore, we have had the emphasis in this book, "He that hath ears let him hear." Are you positive to know the truth of God? My friends, God has revealed Himself to man and this revelation is found in the Scripture, and to a very limited degree in nature (Romans 1:18 f). Man, then, is without excuse. God can be known, but the details of this knowledge comes only through Scripture. Thus God says, "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isaiah 66:2 b).

It is the truth of Scripture which sets men free so God guards His Word carefully because it is the only means by which man really knows God (John 8:32 ; John 17:17 ; 2Pe 1:2-4 ).

So now in Rev 22:18 we have a solemn warning, but please note that the urgency and importance of this warning is supported by the solemn testimony of Jesus Christ Himself when He says, "I testify unto every man who hears…"

The First Offense with its Penalty ( Rev 22:18 )

The Offense

"If anyone adds to them," i.e., to the words of this prophecy. There are other solemn warnings in the Bible about tampering with God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4:2 ; Deuteronomy 12:32 ; Proverbs 30:5-20.30.6 ; Rev 1:3 ). Alan Johnson writes:

These verses should not be taken as a warning against adding anything to the Bible. Early interpreters understood them as a warning to false prophets not to alter the sense of John’s prophecy--i.e., Revelation (so Irenaeus Contra Haereses 30.2)… Rev 22:18-20 are a strong warning against any who would tamper with the contexts of "this book" (Rev), either textually or in its moral and theological teaching (cf. 1Co 16:22 ) [Note: Alan Johnson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, pp. 602-603.]

But what applies here, surely applies to the whole of Scripture because the book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible. Jude tells believers to "contend earnestly for the faith once and for all received." Jude was saying there was a completed body of truth, a body of truth which became preserved, a com-pleted canon of Scripture. Revelation is the final book of the Bible. All the major themes of Scripture find their end and culmination in this book. No other is needed. It wraps up the revelation of God and brings man into the glorious eternal state. Thus, to tamper with Revelation is in essence to tamper with the whole. Walvoord says:

No one can dare add to the Word of God except in blatant unbelief and denial that the Word is indeed God’s own message to man. Likewise, no one should dare take away from the words of the book, since to do so is to do despite to the inspired Word of God. What a solemn warning this is to critics who have tampered with this book and other portions of Scripture in arrogant self-confidence that they are equipped intellectually and spiritually to determine what is true and what is not true in the Word of God. Though not stated in detail, the point of these two verses is that a child of God who reveres Him will recognize at once that this is the Word of God. [Note: Walvoord, p. 338.]

So how does one add to the Bible or revelation? One way is by claiming new revelation, that the Bible and the book of Revelation are not enough (as with the Book of Mormon or any other religious writing that claims to be from God). Another way is by claiming advanced knowledge in spiritual matters and that the Bible is not the answer or simply wrong ( 2Jn 1:9 ). Liberal humanists are grossly guilty of this. Of course such action not only is adding but subtracting. The point is that this reveals a blatant unbelief in the Bible which denies that the Word of God is the revelation and testimony of God. Such action is a clear evidence of personal unbelief and rejection of Jesus Christ.

The Penalty

"God shall add to him the plagues…" In what sense will God add the plagues to the offender? First, the unbeliever, the person who does not believe the Word and so also rejects Jesus Christ, will go into the Tribulation. He will, therefore, face its plagues should he be living when the Tribulation comes. Second, should he die first without Jesus Christ, then he will still face the wrath of God from which the plagues proceed and spend eternity in the lake of fire.

The Second Offense with its Penalty ( Rev 22:19 )

The Offense: " And if any man shall take away… "

In other words, if he rejects any portion of Revelation, since Revelation is the culmination to the Word, this very well may have application to the whole canon of Scripture. So, if anyone denies the plain teaching of Scripture regarding the Lord Jesus Christ and the great testimonies of this book, he is doing despite to the inspired Word of God. This is a grave warning to the critics of higher criticism who, in blatant unbelief, have tampered with the books of the Bible in arrogant self-confidence thinking that they are spiritually and intellectually competent to judge the truthfulness of the Bible.

As Walvoord pointed out, the point of these two verses is that the true child of God who be-lieves the Lord, will recognize this as a portion of the Bible as well as the rest of Scripture.

The Penalty

"God shall take away his part from the tree of life…" What does this mean?

To use these verses, however, as a proof that a child of God once saved and born into the family of God can lose his Salvation is, of course, applying this passage out of context. This passage assumes that a child of God will not tamper with these scriptures. It is the contrast of unbelief with faith, the blinded, fallen intellect of man in contrast to the enlightened Spirit taught believer. Although the true child of God may not comprehend the meaning of the entire book of Revelation, he will recognize in it a declaration of his hope and that which has been assured to him in grace by his salvation in Christ. [Note: Walvoord.]

The Benediction ( Rev 22:20-21 )

20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

The announcement "I come quickly" is therefore buttressed before and after by words used to emphasize the certainty of it. With the word amen, how-ever, John begins his own prayer of response to this announcement: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Though the book of Revelation concerns itself with a broad expanse of divine dealing with men including the time of Tribulation, the millennium, and the eternal state, for John the important event is the coming of the Lord for him at the rapture of the church. For this his heart longs, not only because he is on the bleak Island of Patmos in suffering and exile but because of the glorious prospect which his eyes have beheld and his ears have heard. [Note: Walvoord, p. 338--339.]

The Tribulation has stressed the wrath of a holy God. But for the true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ there is only grace, grace, marvelous grace. My friends, do you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ? So John, as a representative of the Lord Jesus, closes with the benediction, "The Grace of the Lord Jesus be with all, Amen."

As you know, the Old Testament ends with the word "curse," for it is the warning given an earth whose future hangs upon that of Israel--upon the conversion of the remnant and upon the receiving of the preaching of Elijah,… just before Christ should return. The law could make no absolute promise, and so God’s Word by Malachi ends, "Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

Let us each draw near to our glorious Savior, who is revealed in such dramatic ways in this awesome book, that we may experience His power on our lives, represent Him faithfully as His servants. And all the while, may we be praying and anticipating with John, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Keathley, J. Hampton. "Commentary on Revelation 22". "Keathley's Commentary on Revelation".