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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Revelation 22

 

 

Verse 1

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

Pure. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Hilary, 22, omit.

Water of life - infinitely superior to the typical waters in Paradise (Genesis 2:10-14), and even to those figurative ones in millennial Jerusalem (Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 14:8), as matured fruit is superior to the flower. The millennial waters represent full Gospel grace; these of new Jerusalem represent Gospel glory. Their continuous flow from God, the Fountain of life, symbolizes the uninterrupted life derived by the saints, ever fresh, from Him: fullness of joy, as well as perpetual vitality. Like pure crystal, free from every taint (cf. Revelation 4:6).

Clear - `bright.'


Verse 2

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

The unity of Scripture is, say the Fathers, a ring, an unbroken circle, returning into itself. Between the events of Genesis and those of the Apocalypse, at least 6,000 or 7,000 years intervene; and between Moses, the first writer, and John, the last, about 1,500 years. As at the beginning, man and his wife are presented in innocence in Eden, so at the close, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, appears with His Bride, the Church, in a better paradise, amidst better waters (Revelation 22:1).

Street of it - of the city.

On either side of the river. [For the second enteuthen (Greek #1782), A B, Coptic, Syriac, read, ekeithen (Greek #1564).] The sense is the same: cf. Greek, John 19:18. The tress were on each side, in the middle of the space between the street and the river. The antitype exceeds the type: in the first paradise was only one tree; now there are 'very many trees at the bank of the river, on one side and the other.' Supposing but one tree, we should either, as Mede, suppose that [ plateia (Greek #4113)] street is a plain washed on both sides by the river (as the first paradise was washed on one side by the Tigris, on the other by the Euphrates), and that in the midst of the plain, which itself is in the midst of the river's branches, stood the tree. 'In the midst of the street (plain) itself, and of the river (having two branches, flowing on this and on that side), was there the tree of life.' Or else (Durham), the tree was in the midst of the river, and extending its branches to both banks. But cf. Ezekiel 47:12, the millennial type, which shows several trees of one kind, all termed "the tree of life." Death reigns now because of sin: even in the millennial earth, sin, and therefore death, though limited, shall not altogether cease. But in the final heavenly city on earth, sin and death utterly cease.

Yielded her fruit every month - `according to each mouth:' each month had its proper fruit; as different seasons now marked have their own productions: only then, unlike now, there shall be no season without its fruit-an endless variety, answering to twelve, symbolical of the worldwide Church (notes, Revelation 12:1; Revelation 21:14). Dr. Whately thought the tree of life was among those of which Adam freely ate (Genesis 2:9; Genesis 2:16-17), and that his continuance in immortality was dependent on his continuing to eat of it: having forfeited it, he became liable to death; still, the effects of having eaten of it for a time appeared in the longevity of the patriarchs. God could undoubtedly endue a tree with medicinal powers. But Genesis 3:22 implies, man had not yet taken of the tree, and that if he had, be would have lived forever, which, in his fallen state, would have been the greatest curse.

Leaves ... for the healing - (Ezekiel 47:9; Ezekiel 47:12.) The leaves shall be health-giving, not healing, but securing them against sicknesses; while 'the fruit shall be for meat.' In the millennium (Ezekiel 47:1-23, and Revelation 20:1-15), the Church shall give the Gospel-tree to the nations outside Israel and the Church: so shall heal their spiritual malady; but in the final, perfect new Jerusalem here, the state of all is eternally fixed: no saving process goes on any longer (cf. Revelation 22:11; Revelation 22:15). The "nations" (Revelation 21:24) are those which long before-namely, in the millennium (Revelation 11:15) - became the Lord's.


Verse 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:

No more curse - of which the earnest shall be given in the millennium (Zechariah 14:11). God can only dwell where the curse and its cause-the cursed thing, sin (Joshua 7:12) - are removed. So there follows, 'but the throne of God and of the Lamb (who redeemed us from the curse, Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:13) shall be in it.' Compare in the millennium (Ezekiel 48:35).

Serve him - with worship (Revelation 7:15) and active ministrations, as the angels whom they resemble (Psalms 103:20-21; Luke 20:35-36; Revelation 22:9). The sabbatism of heaven, as that of earth, is kept as much by working mercy and holiness as by direct worship (John 5:17; Romans 12:1). No separation shall be there between things secular and divine (Revelation 21:22).


Verse 4

And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

See his face - revealed in divine glory in Christ Jesus. They shall know Him with intuitive knowledge, even as they are known by Him (1 Corinthians 13:9-12): face to face. Compare 1 Timothy 6:16, with John 14:9. God the Father can nobly be seen in Christ.

In - `on their foreheads.' Not only shall they personally, in secret (Revelation 3:17), know their sonship, but shall be known as sons of God to all citizens of new Jerusalem; so that the free flow of mutual love among Christ's family members will not be checked by suspicion, as here.


Verse 5

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

There. So Andreas; but 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate Syriac, 'there shall be no night any longer' [ eti (Greek #2089) for ekei (Greek #1563)]. Moses tells of paradise lost; John, paradise regained. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth:" so 'Jesus, a new heaven and a new earth.' Satan, the old serpent, victorious at the beginning; Satan cast into the lake fire at the close. Then the curse (Genesis 3:17): now "no more curse" (Revelation 22:3). Then death: now "no more death" (Revelation 21:4). Then exclusion from the tree of life: now its restoration (Revelation 2:7). Night appointed, Genesis 1:5 : "no night there" twice repeated (Revelation 21:5; Revelation 22:5): neither literal nor figurative toil, ignorance, sorrow.

They need. So 'Aleph ('); but A, Vulgate, Coptic, future, 'they shall not have need;' B, '(there shall be) no need.'

Candle - `lamp.' 'Aleph (') A, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, insert, 'light (of a candle, or lamp);' B omits.

Of the sun. So 'Aleph ('); but A B omits.

Giveth ... light - `illumines.' So Vulgate, Syriac; but 'Aleph (') B A, 'shall give light.'

Them. So B, Andreas; but 'Aleph (') A, 'upon them.'

Reign - with a glory transcending that of their reign in heaven with Christ over the millennial nations (Revelation 20:4; Revelation 20:6): that reign was but for a time - "a thousand years:" this is 'unto the ages of the ages.'


Verse 6

And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

These sayings are ... true - thrice, Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:5. For we are slow to believe God is as good as He is. The news seems to us, habituated to this fallen world, too good to be true (Nangle). No dreams of a visionary, but realities of God's sure Word.

Holy. So Andreas; but 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, '(the Lord God of the) spirits (of the prophets):' who with His Spirit inspired their spirits to prophesy. There is one Spirit; but individual prophets, according to the measure given them (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), had their own spirits, of which God is the Lord (Bengel (1 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 1:21). Be done - `come to pass.'


Verse 7

Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

'And' omitted in Coptic, Andreas: inserted by A B, Vulgate, Syriac.

Blessed - (Revelation 1:3.)


Verse 8

And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

Both here and in Revelation 19:9-10, the apostle's falling at the angel's feet is preceded by a glorious promise to the Church, and the assurance, 'These are the true sayings of God,' and that those are "blessed" who keep them. Rapturous gratitude and adoration, at the prospect of the Church's glory, transport him out of himself, to fall into an unjustifiable act. Contrast his opposite feeling at the Church's deep fall (Auberlen) (Revelation 17:6, note; Revelation 19:9-10).

Saw ... and heard. So 'Aleph ('); but A B, Vulgate, Syriac, transpose, 'I John (was he) who heard and saw these things.' In Revelation 19:10, it is, "I fell before his feet to worship him;" here, "I fell down to worship (God?) before the feet of the angel." It seems unlikely that John, once reproved, would fall into the same error again. Probably John intended to worship [ proskuneesai (Greek #4352), a lower worship than latreia (Greek #2999)] the angel (Revelation 19:10), but now only at his feet intends to worship (God). The angel does not even permit this.


Verse 9

Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

Literally, 'See not:' the abrupt phrase marking the angel's abhorrence of being worshipped, however indirectly. Contrast the fallen angel's temptation to Jesus, "Fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:9). For. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Andreas, Cyprian, omit "for," suiting the abrupt earnestness of the angel's prohibition of an act derogatory to God.

And of - "and (the fellow-servant) of thy brethren."


Verse 10

And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

Seal not. But in Daniel 12:4; Daniel 12:9 (cf. Daniel 8:26), "seal the book," for the vision shall be 'for many days.' The fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy was distant, that of John's is near. The New Testament is the time of the fulfillment. The Gentile church, for which John wrote, needs more to be impressed with the shortness of the period, as it is inclined to conform to the world, and forget the Lord's coming. The Revelation pointed to Christ's coming as distant, for it foretold the succession of seven seals, trumpets, and vials; on the other hand, it proclaims, "Behold, I come quickly." So Christ marked many events to intervene before His coming, yet saith, "Behold, I come quickly," because our right attitude is continual prayerful watching for His coming (Matthew 25:6; Matthew 25:13; Matthew 25:19; Mark 13:32-37 (Auberlen): cf. Revelation 1:3).


Verse 11

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

Unjust - `unrighteous:' toward one's fellow-men: opposed to "righteous," below. [Ho adikoon adikeesatpo, 'he that doeth unjustly, let him do unjustly still.']

Filthy - in one's own soul before God: opposed to "holy," consecrated to God as pure. A omits "he which is filthy, let him be filthy still;" but 'Aleph (') B support it. In the letter of the Vienne and Lyons Martyrs (in Eusebius), in the second century, it is, 'he that is lawless [ anomos (Greek #459)], let him be lawless; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous [ dikaiootheetoo (Greek #1344), "be justified"] still.' No manuscript is so old. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Andreas, Cyprian, read, 'let him do righteousness' (1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:7). The punishment of sin is sin, the reward of holiness is holiness. Eternal punishment is not an arbitrary law, a necessary result from the very nature of things, as the fruit from the bud. No worse punishment can God lay on ungodly men than to give them up to themselves. The solemn lesson is, Be converted new in your short time (Revelation 22:10, end), before "I come" (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12), else you must remain unconverted forever. Sin in the eternal world will be left to its own consequences: holiness in germ will develop itself into perfect holiness, which is happiness.


Verse 12

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

And. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Cyprian, omit.

Behold, I come quickly - (cf. Revelation 22:7.)

My reward is with me - (Isaiah 40:10; Isaiah 62:11.)

To give - `to award.'

Every man - `to each.'

Shall be. So B in Mai; but B in Tischendorf, and A 'Aleph ('), Syriac, 'is.'


Verse 13

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

I am Alpha - `the Alpha and the Omega.' 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Origen, Cyprian, transpose, 'the fist and the last, the beginning and the end.' Compare Revelation 1:8; Revelation 1:17; Revelation 21:6. At the winding up of the whole Revelation, the Lord Jesus announces Himself the One before and after whom there is no God.


Verse 14

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Do his commandments. So B, Syriac, Coptic, Cyprian; but A 'Aleph ('), Vulgate, read, '(blessed are they that) wash their robes'-namely, in the blood of the lamb (cf. Revelation 7:14). This takes away pretext for the notion of salvation by works. But the English reading is compatible with salvation by grace: for God's first grand Gospel "commandment" is to believe on Jesus (John 6:28-29; 1 John 3:23). Our "right" to [ exousia (Greek #1849), privilege over] the tree of life is due to, not our doings, but what He has done for us. The privilege is founded on, not merits, but God's grace. Through - `by the gates.'


Verse 15

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

For. So Coptic; but 'Aleph (') A B, Hippolytus, Andreas, Cyprian, omit.

Dogs - `the dogs:' the impure, filthy (Revelation 22:11 : cf. Philippians 3:2).

Maketh - including 'whosoever practiceth a lie' (W. Kelly).


Verse 16

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Mine angel - Jesus is Lord of the angels.

Unto you - ministers and people in the seven representative churches, and, through you, to Christians of all times and places.

Root ... offspring of David. Appropriate here where assuring His Church of "the sure mercies of David," to Israel first, and through Israel to the Gentiles. Root of David, as Yahweh: offspring of David as man. David's Lord, yet David's son (Matthew 22:42-45).

The ... morning star - ushering in the day of grace in the beginning of this dispensation, and the everlasting day of glory at its close.


Verse 17

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Reply of the spiritual Church to Christ (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:16).

The Spirit - in the churches and the prophets.

The bride. Not here "wife," as that title applies to her only when the elect shall have been completed. The invitation, "Let him that is athirst come," only holds good while the Church is but an affianced Bride, not the actually wedded wife. "Come" is the prayer of the Spirit in the Church and in believers, in reply Christ's "I come quickly," crying. Even so, "Come" (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12); Revelation 22:20 confirms this. The whole question of your salvation hinges on your being able to hear with joy Christ's "I come," and to reply, "Come" (Bengel). Come to glorify the Bride.

Let him that heareth - i:e., let him that heareth the Spirit and Bride saying to the Lord Jesus, "Come," become part of the Bride by faith, and to say with her Jesus, "Come." Or "heareth" means 'obeyeth:' for until one has obeyed the Gospel call, he cannot pray to Jesus, "Come;" so "hear," John 10:16; Revelation 1:3. Let him that obeys Jesus' voice (Revelation 22:16) join in praying, "Come." Compare Revelation 6:1, note; Revelation 6:10. In the view which makes "Come" an invitation to sinners, this clause urges those who hear savingly the invitation to address it to others, as did, Andrew and Philip after they had obeyed Jesus' invitation, "Come" (John 1:41; John 1:45).

Let him that is athirst come. As the Bride prays to Jesus, "Come," so she urges all, whosoever thirst for participation in the redemption-glory at His coming to us, to COME to Him in the meantime, and drink of the living waters, the earnest of "the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Revelation 22:1), in the regenerated heaven and earth.

And. So Syriac; but 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Coptic, omit "And."

Whosoever will - i:e., is desirous. A descending climax: Let him that heareth savingly Christ's voice pray individually, as the Bride does collectively, "Come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20). Let him who, though not yet having heard unto salvation, nor able to join in the prayer, 'Lord Jesus, come,' still thirsts for it. come to Christ. Whosoever is even willing, though his desires do not yet amount to thirsting, let him take the water of life freely - i:e., gratuitously.


Verse 18

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

For. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Andreas, read, "I," emphatic. "I testify."

Unto these things. A B, Andreas, read [ ep' (Greek #1909) auta (Greek #846) for pros (Greek #4314) tauta (Greek #5023)], 'unto them.'

Add ... add - retribution in kind.


Verse 19

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Book. A B 'Aleph ('), Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, read, 'take away his part (i:e., portion) from the tree of life;'

i.e., exclude him from the tree of life.

And from the things. So Vulgate; but A B 'Aleph ('), Syriac, Coptic, Andreas, omit "and:" then, "which are written in this book" refers to 'the holy city and the tree of life.' As in the beginning (Revelation 1:3), a blessing was promised to the obedient student, so now, at the close, a curse is denounced against those who add to or take from the book.


Verse 20

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Amen. Even so, come. The Song of Solomon (Song of Solomon 8:14) closes with the same yearning prayer. A B 'Aleph (') omit "Even so" [ nai (Greek #3483)]. Translate, 'So be it (but 'Aleph (') omits Amen also), come, Lord Jesus:' joining "Amen," or 'So be it,' not with Christ's saying (for He calls Himself the "Amen" at the beginning of sentences, rather than make it a confirmation at the end), but with John's reply. Christ's "I come," and John's "Come," are almost coincident: so truly does the believer reflect the mind of his Lord.


Verse 21

Our. So Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic; but A B 'Aleph (') omit.

Christ. So B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Andreas; but A 'Aleph (') omit.

With you all. B has 'with all the saints.' A, Vulgate, has 'with all.' 'Aleph (') has 'with the saints.' This closing benediction-Paul's mark in his letters-was, after Paul's death, taken up by John. The Old Testament ended with a "curse" from the law; the New Testament ends with a blessing from the Lord Jesus.

Amen. So B 'Aleph ('), Andreas. A, Vulgate Fuldensis, omit.

May the blessed Lord, who has caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, bless this humble effort to make Scripture expound itself, sanctifying it as an instrument toward the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints, to the glory of His great name and the hastening of His kingdom. Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 22:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-22.html. 1871-8.

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Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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