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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 22

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1


Those who are faithful in the church will be rewarded with eternal life with God and with Jesus in Heaven. The preceding chapter describes the church, the holy city, the New Jerusalem. Now we move to view Heaven itself.

1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

A. The water of life is symbolic of the gospel. Jesus promised that all who drink of this water would never thirst. ( Joh_4:14 )

B. The gospel of Jesus Christ comes form the throne of God in Heaven.

Verse 2

2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

A. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life. ( Gen_2:9 ) Eating of this tree would allow them to live a physical life forever. Now, the Tree of Life offers spiritual life for eternity.

B. What does the Tree of Life represent? I make two observations.

1. Christ is our Tree of Life. Christ is represented by several different symbols in the book of Revelation. He is the Lion of Judah, the Lamb of God, the Alpha and Omega, the morning star, and the Tree of Life. Each of these symbols, and several others, are used to emphasize a different aspect of our Lord.

2. This tree is in the church. This Tree of Life is present now - in the church. Notice these points.

 The number 12 represents organized religion. This tree yields 12 fruits. As people obey the gospel the tree is producing fruit.

 The leaves were for the healing of the nations. If John is describing our eternal state in Heaven, how can it heal the nations? The nations will end when this world ends at the second coming. The healing of nations must take place while the nations still exist. The leaves of this tree represent the healing power of the gospel in individual lives and in the nations of the world.

 The Tree of Life is Christ. He is healing the nations. He is yielding fruit for God as people obey the gospel. This tree is described in Eze_47:12 .

C. Today, right now, we have access to the Tree of Life. We can drink of the water of life. We, the faithful Christians, are on this street (the narrow way that leads to life) and we have access to the water and tree.

Verse 3

3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.

A. It is clear to me that the curse was the curse of the Law of Moses. This law was one of sin and death. There was a curse on all under this law. Only by living a perfect life could one find righteousness. Christ came to earth, lived a perfect, sinless life, and removed the curse. ( Gal_3:23-26 )

B. The throne of Jesus is in the hearts of Christians. ( 2Co_6:16 ) God promised to dwell in us, walk in us, and be our God.

C. When the Lamb of God is on the throne of our heart, we will serve Him. ( Rev_7:15 )

Verse 4

4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

A. There are two general views on the idea of us being able to “see His face.”

 Some believe that this refers to when we are in Heaven and are with Jesus in a personal, face-to-face, able to see what is now invisible. ( 1Co_13:12 )

 I believe this is also to be understood in a symbolic way. When we sin we are separated from God. God hides his face from us. ( Isa_59:2 ) But when we obey the gospel and are forgiven, we are restored to a face-to-face relationship with our God. He knows us and hears our prayers. ( 1Pe_3:12 )

B. Those who see His face are those who wear His name. They have the seal of God. The seal of God identifies them as His.

Verse 5

5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

A. Jesus promised that those who walk in the light would never walk in darkness because we are in the light of Christ. ( 1Jn_1:7 ; Joh_8:12 )

B. We are also promised that we will reign forever. Certainly our presence with Christ will continue in eternity. But the reign is with Christ in His Kingdom. It is clear that at the second coming, Christ will turn over the kingdom to God. ( 1Co_15:24 )

C. This fits what is stated in Rev_20:4 about our living and reigning with Christ during the Christian Age.

Verse 6

6 Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.

A. The angel assures John that what he has seen is assured. It is true. It will happen. God keeps His promises. ( 2Co_1:20 )

B. As we near the end of Revelation we are reminded of the promise at the beginning, these are things that MUST shortly come to pass. ( Rev_1:1 )

C. It is clear that the vision of Revelation was to begin shortly. It does not mean that all would be completed in a year or two. It does mean that they would begin to happen.

Verse 7

7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

A. Some try to argue that the angel and not Jesus spoke these words. In my view, it does not matter, because angels were messengers who spoke what was given them by Jesus.

B. Many find a difficulty with the term “shortly” when it has been 2,000 years since this promise was given. I believe there are two issues that must be discussed.

1. Meaning of “shortly” - In our understanding of time, measured in days, months and years, 2,000 years is a long time. We must remember that God does not work on our clock and calendar. A day is like a thousand years. There fore, to God, it has been a couple of days. No time at all.

2. Meaning of “coming” - Is this the second coming in which the world ends? Is this a promise of Jesus to come again and end the world, as we know it? OR Could this coming be the coming in answer to prayers? Could it be that Jesus will come into the hearts of the obedient to give them protection and guide them providentially? The preceding verse promised that these were “things which must shortly take place.” I believe the “coming” here is the coming to work out the matters promised and predicted in this book.

Verses 8-9

8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

A. As the vision comes to an end, John assures us that he has recorded what he saw and heard. John was there. Revelation is not a figment of John’s imagination.

B. John began to worship the angel who delivered the message. He is immediately told to arise. Angels are not to be worshipped. They worship and serve the same God we do. Angels are fellow servants. (See also Rev_19:10 )

Verse 10

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.

A. It is clear to me that John is told not close and seal this book. It is not God’s intention to record this vision and them keep it hidden and closed. God intended that the book be read publicly. ( Rev_1:3 )

B. Things will be starting to happen soon. God is ready to begin fulfilling these things.

Verse 11

11 He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

A. There are several explanations of this verse. I think the key is to keep it in the context of the previous verse. Verse 10 told John not to seal the book. In the statement that follows God explains that there will be no change in those who read this book.

B. Woodruff states, “Those who are unjust will still be unjust; those who are filthy will continue to be filthy; those who are righteous will remain righteous, and those who are holy will still be holy.” (1, 414)

C. Woodruff also comments, “Those who were unjust before this revelation was given to John would still be unjust after is was given. The same would be true for those who were filthy, righteous, or holy. This revelation did nothing to change the way one renders obedience to God’s will.” (1, 414)

D. This book does not introduce a new plan of salvation. All who obey the gospel as taught in Acts and the epistles will be saved. God has not given a new message, a new method of salvation.

Verse 12

12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

A. Keep the faith. Remain faithful even in times of persecution. Here is the reason.

B. When Christ comes for the second time, he will bring the reward with him. You will be judged by the deeds done in your body, good or bad. ( 2Co_5:10 )

C. When Christ comes again, this world and the things done in this life will end.

Verse 13

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

A. Christ uses the same description at the beginning and the end of this book.

B. Alpha and Omega - are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet. With our alphabet we would say, “Everything from A to Z.”

C. Beginning and end - Christ was before the beginning of creation. He will continue when this planet melts with fervent heat and the elements are burned up. (See Rev_1:8 )

Verse 14

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

A. Again, similar statements were made at the beginning of the book. (1:3) The first of the “blessed” statements was to pronounce a blessing on all who read, heed and obey the commands of this book.

B. The obedient have the Tree of Life. The obedient are allowed to enter the city (the church). Heaven (the reward that Christ will bring) will be given to those who are in the holy city, the New Jerusalem.

Verse 15

15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

A. In the city are the obedient. Outside are all others.

B. John gives another short list similar to Rev_21:8 .

Verse 16

16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

A. Jesus explain that he sent his angel to reveal these things to the churches.

B. Jesus identifies himself as the Root and Offspring of David. Jesus was involved in the creation of man. Therefore, Jesus was the root, the origin, of David. In his earthly blood line, Jesus was of the offspring of David. Christ is both the origin and the descendent of David.

C. Jesus is also the bright and morning star. The morning star is the bright star that can still be seen as the day dawns. Even though the sky has become light, this star is still visible.

Verse 17

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

A. The door to the city is always open. The invitation to come to Christ is not closed here on earth.

B. Jesus stands at the door of our heart and knocks, waiting for us to open. ( Rev_3:20 ) Jesus invites all to accept the invitation for salvation. ( Mat_11:28-30 )

C. Are you thirsty? Jesus offers the water of life. Are you hungry? Jesus is the bread of life. Are you facing death? Jesus offers the Tree of Life. Are you weary? Jesus offers spiritual rest.

Verses 18-19

18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that 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 Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

A. NOTE: This warning is specific to the book of Revelation. However, similar statements are made elsewhere in the Scriptures. They are inspired of God. We, finite humans, do not have the knowledge or power to alter, revise, add to, take from, or substitute anything written here. ( Deu_4:2 ; Deu_12:32 ; Pro_30:6 )

B. With the warning comes a promise. If you add to the things written here, God will add the plagues that are recorded in this book.

Verse 20

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

A. Again Jesus promises to come quickly. He knows that Christians are suffering. He will respond with speed and in accordance with the plan of God.

B. Just as Jesus promises to begin fulfilling the prophesies of this book, the prayer of the first century Christians was, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

C. In 1Co_16:22 , Paul ends this letter to the church at Corinth with the word “Maranatha.” Maranatha is a transliteration of an idiomatic expression. This phrase means - Come now. Come quickly. I am ready, come and get me. This word was a common prayer of the persecuted church.

D. The implication of the prayer was to say -

 Lord, I am tired of the suffering and pain.

 Lord, I am ready for you to come and take me away from this evil world.

 Lord, come with vengeance on these wicked persecutors.

 Lord, come with love for your faithful servant.

 Lord, come with your arms open for me.

Verse 21

21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

A. God will bless us as we read publicly this book.

B. God’s grace will shine on us as we listen, study and understand this book.

C. Christ will be with you as you obey the commands of this book.

D. Amen and Amen.

Concluding Remarks

“The pageant is over, and the final curtain has been drawn. John has seen and has shown his audience the picture of God’s care over them in their conflict, the certainty of their triumph over the terrible conditions of the day, and the glory which is beyond the grave which is opening before them.” (2, 217)

We have reached the end of the Revelation of God. With the close of this book of prophecy, the pen of inspiration is laid down. We now have the will, the mind, and the plan of God. It has been revealed. Now the task is ours. We must read, study, listen, understand and then obey the teachings contained in this volume. We must review our notes and continually try to make the application of the principles taught.

“But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” ( Rev_10:7 ) The things that were a mystery, matters not clearly understood, are now unambiguous. We have been reminded that God knows about our pain and suffering. God is aware of the evil and wickedness in the world. God will not allow this human suffering to continue forever. There will come a time when the patience of God will end. There will come a point where longer delay would not help. When the world refuses to repent; when God warns about judgment; when man is made aware of the terror of an eternal Hell; AND he refuses to repent - God has no choice but to bring this world to an end.

I concur with the conclusion of Woodruff. “Revelation is written in beautiful symbolic language which is the culmination of symbolism used throughout the Scripture. I sincerely believe the book can be understood if we always remember to let the Bible be the final authority for interpretation.” (1, 436)

Ray Summers ends his commentary with these words. “Who can read this book which breathes the atmosphere of victorious faith and courageous trust in God, with the unfailing assurance in the fulfillment of his purpose and the victory of the Christ of the cross and the empty tomb, without shouting with the people of the book -

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,

And has redeemed us to God by his blood,

To receive power, and riches, and wisdom,

And might, and honor, and glory,

And blessing, and dominion,

Forever and ever,

Amen.” (2, 218)

NOTE: The praise of the Lamb of God is from 5:12.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Revelation 22". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/revelation-22.html. 2021.
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