d. Its river and tree of life—Close of Apocalypse, Revelation 22:1-5.
1.And—The entire passage, Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5, should be read as one unbroken description. He—The angel interpreter of Revelation 21:9; Revelation 21:17.
Clear—Rather, bright, radiant.
Throne—The royal seat of the eternal KING. We may suppose its position central, the most illustrious point in the luminous capital.
2.On either (each)
side of the river—The river cleaves the street lengthwise into two long strips; so that there is a breadth of street on each side of the stream. On both the banks of the river, the tree of life grows in rows, extending in line between street and river.
Twelve manner of fruits—Rather, twelve fruitages, or (as Stuart) fruit-harvests. The idea is not that there were different species of fruits, but successive crops.
The twelve tribal nations of the celestial earth have a salubrious clime and a lofty, luminous capital, with a gate for each tribe into it, labeled with the tribal name. On what immortal fruit do these immortals live? The tree of life furnishes twelve fruit-harvests a year, a harvest for each tribe. Here is a beautiful coincidence between the natural and symbolic twelve.
But are the river and the tree confined to the capital? And must the nations, each one, pay an annual visit to the capital to obtain its harvest, just as the old Jews paid their annual visit to old Jerusalem at the Passover? And is it at these visits that the kings and nations (Revelation 21:24; Revelation 21:26) bring their glory and honour into it? Or does the river flow into all parts of the earth, refreshing the nations with renewed immortality? The former seems to be the view indicated by most of the statements. At the same time, this presents a pleasing idea of movement, and of perpetual reverence to the resident King. And, as the fruit of the tree is the ambrosia, and the river furnishes the nectar, so the very leaves of the tree are a medicine, warding off every decay, disease, or lesion. So the tree of life in the original Eden was the source of Adam’s immortality, exclusion from which was exposure to certainty of decay, disease, and death.
Genesis 3:22-24. Here, then, is paradise restored. The resurrectional immortality—the immortality of body with soul—seems conditioned on the tree and river of life, the source of which is God’s own throne.
3.No more curse—The primal curse of death upon man is removed by the river and tree of immortality.
4.By JESUS, reaffirming his coming, denouncing the corrupters of the record, 16-19.
5.The seer reiterates the pleasing thought, no night there, Revelation 21:25. No repose is needed by these immortal frames; no debility weighs down the limbs, no stupor closes the eyes.
For ever and ever—The length of the reign of the saved is measured by the same terms as the length of the doom of the lost, Revelation 20:10. And the Greek word for reign is the verb for the Greek word for king, they shall be kings for ever. Hence, in one sense at least, all the inhabitants of heaven are kings of the heavenly earth.
The book of this Revelation is here properly closed. But its genuineness and transcendent value and dignity are now to be attested by the principal personages through whom it is delivered to the Church and world.
EPILOGUE—FOUR ATTESTATIONS TO THE TRUTH OF THIS DIVINE APOCALYPSE, Revelation 22:6-19.
1. By the ANGEL briefly reiterating the divine endorsement, Revelation 22:6.
6.He—The interpreting angel of Revelation 22:1, reaffirming the words of God, Revelation 21:5.
These sayings—The utterances and revelations of this book. He who was commissioned agent pronounces that the apocalypse by him delivered is both a genuine revelation and a truthful doctrine. As a mere instrument his testimony is brief, modest, and subordinate to God’s.
2. By JOHN, recapitulating the fact of God’s sending his revealing angel, and his own over-reverence to the angel, Revelation 22:6-9.
6.And—That John’s own words commence here is evident from the fact that he really repeats at this close the words by him uttered at the commencement of the Apocalypse, Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:3. John’s words are introduced with the Hebraistically repeated and, as in Revelation 22:10; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:17.
The usual method of commentators is to make this whole verse (Revelation 22:6) the words of the angel; to make John here re-perform in literal act his over-reverence in Revelation 19:10, and to make the angel resume at Revelation 22:10 and continue to Revelation 22:15. This is in many ways objectionable. It makes John mechanically and stolidly re-commit an already corrected blunder. It makes the angel speak at full length the words of God in his own person, as if he himself were God; an inadmissible assumption, inaccurately supported by Dusterdieck by the precedent of Revelation 11:3, where he incorrectly assumes that “my” is uttered by the angel in the name of God.
We make John’s words begin in Revelation 22:6, adding an implied saying, in italics, at the close of that verse. John thus narrates in Revelation 22:6-7 God’s sending the revealing angel to him and the promise of quickly coming; and in 8 and 9 he reiterates how over-gratefully he received this angelic communication. Ahus saw and heard in Revelation 22:8 is antithetical to sent to show in Revelation 22:6, so that the thought of the sending by God is transmitted down to Revelation 22:10, where he refers to God of Revelation 22:6. The entire of Revelation 22:10-15 is then spoken by God.
Holy prophets—Preferable reading, of the spirits of the holy prophets; that is, of their spirits as instruments of his revealing work. By this solemn phrase John places his apocalypse on the same high level with the Old Testament, as conscious that it takes equal rank in the sacred canon. He is aware that he is making New Testament. Note, Revelation 22:19.
7.Behold—A part of God’s sent prophetic message.
Blessed—See note on Revelation 1:3.
8.Saw’ and heard—What God sent his angel to show.
These things—The apocalyptic showings and sayings.
I fell down—Re-narrating here the fact of Revelation 19:10, to show that so truly divine seemed this apocalypse that he came near to worshipping the mere messenger that brought it.
9.Saith he—This apocalypse was no mere angel apocalypse, for the angel himself referred it to God.
3. By GOD, bringing before us and realizing the judgment as immediate, Revelation 22:10-15.
10.And he saith—Who saith? The connexion, as well as the entire tenor of the words said, show that it is none other than the Lord God of Revelation 22:6 who sent the angel so over-honoured by John. God sent the angel; John saw, heard, and almost worshipped; and then God saith as follows.
God testifies to this apocalypse most strongly, by forbidding it to be sealed up, and by furnishing a vivid realization of its immediate fulfilment.
In the words of God which follow, the seer is in spirit transferred to the last hours and minutes before the impending judgment-advent. Rather, we may say, that the advent is conceptually brought to the immediate future. See note, Revelation 1:7. That the judgment-advent is not taught to be literally at hand, is certain from the very fact that the millennium (xx) is made to intervene. It is in God’s own view that the divine coming is just at hand. See 2 Peter 3:8.
Seal not’ at hand—The book was to be kept unsealed and ready for the reading of all, as the event is virtually at hand to every human reader.
11.As the words Revelation 1:7 conceive the advent as really present, so the words of this verse conceive it so near that probation is closed, and moral change impossible. As there is a moment at every closing life when character and destiny are fixed, so there is a moment of the closing world-history when the fixedness of eternity has already arrived. Repent? It is too late!
Unjust—Referring to offences against equity.
Filthy— Referring to shameful iniquities, offences against chastity, decency, and honour.
Holy—Implying spiritual consecration, including moral rectitude.
Let him—There is no space for the reformation of the evil, or the apostasy of the good.
13.I am Alpha—Assuredly words spoken by no angel.
14.Have right—All these expressions point to the tree of life as the final reward of a successful probation; and show that not the millennium is meant, but the final heaven beyond the universal resurrection.
May enter’ gates—May be allowed a life in the new earth, of which entrance to the capital is a right.
15.Without are the dogs, with the article. Not meaning that the dogs are admitted into the new earth, while excluded from the city. The Greek word for without is used for moral separateness in l Corinthians Revelation 5:12-13; Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:12. In Acts 26:11, it means out of the country, even to foreign cities. The foreign and distant place assigned for characters represented by the dogs is specified in Revelation 21:8, with which passage compare this verse.
16.I Jesus—Giving now in his own person his attestation to this book as really from his commissioned angel.
In the churches—Greek, , literally, upon; but upon as an audience on whom the utterances are expended as to them addressed, Revelation 2:7. So in Revelation 10:11, the same preposition (rendered in our translation before) does not signify that the peoples named would be the subject of the prophecies, (as Dusterdieck insists,) but would be the object of their direct address.
The churches—First the seven Churches of Asia, and through them to the churches of all lands and ages.
Root and the offspring—Note on Revelation 5:5.
The bright and morning star—A beautiful image of the Saviour, presented by St. John here on the threshold of the celestial world. This new world is the morning of our endless existence; in its gray dawn happy is the man upon whose faith beams this bright and morning star, the promise and harbinger of an eternal day.
17.Come—To the promise of the morning star that he will come quickly, a welcoming response is now by the star, Jesus, heard. It sounds like the plaudit of a happy audience to a most welcome speaker, interposed without unwelcomely interrupting his speech. It is the united response of the Spirit in the heart of the bride, (the Church, Revelation 21:9,) and of the bride herself to the bridegroom, Come! And every one that heareth that divine promise has privilege to re-echo to him that same Come! The blessed final result will be that, when He, the morning star, has come, every redeemed soul that is athirst, and whosoever will, will be permitted to enter the golden city and stand on the banks of the river, (Revelation 22:1,) and take the water of life freely. See our note on Revelation 22:20.
18.For—This word is pronounced spurious by the best authorities.
I testify—Who, here, testifies? The testifieth of Revelation 22:20 shows that it is Jesus.
Add unto these things—With purpose to corrupt the apostolic truth. The words refer not so much to additions to the text of the manuscript, as to the adding unholy falsehood to holy truth.
God shall add unto him—Remaining unrepentant.
19.Take away—Seeking to destroy the truth, or undermine its authority.
His part—Either in possession, or the part he would have had had he been true. As the Apocalypse is rich with all the truths of the New Testament, so no one can impugn its doctrines without impugning the Gospel; and to impugn the Gospel is to impugn his own salvation. John, as before said, is conscious that he is making New Testament; he is doubtless conscious that he is closing the canon. But we cannot quite say that he includes the whole canon under the safe-guard of these maledictions otherwise than by the scope of analogy. Note, Revelation 5:14.
5. John’s final welcome to the Coming—BENEDICTION, Revelation 22:20-21.
20.Testifieth these things—Jesus, who attests his sending the revelation, and the deep danger of corrupting or undermining his truth.
Come, Lord Jesus—Come with that coming which brings the final glory. Note Revelation 22:17.
21.Be with you all—The true reading more comprehensively is, with all the saints. And so our seer, whose unspeakable honour it was to close the sacred canon, dismisses the whole Church of all the then coming ages with the apostolic benediction. To which, at this, the solemn close of his own labour, the humble commentator adds his own deep AMEN.