Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 22:17

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.
New American Standard Version
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Adam Clarke Commentary

The Spirit and the bride - All the prophets and all the apostles; the Church of God under the Old Testament, and the Church of Christ under the New.

Say, Come - Invite men to Jesus, that by him they may be saved and prepared for this kingdom.

Let him that heareth - Let all who are privileged with reading and hearing the word of God, join in the general invitation to sinners.

Him that is athirst - He who feels his need of salvation, and is longing to drink of the living fountain.

And whosoever will - No soul is excluded: Jesus died for every man; every man may be saved; therefore let him who wills, who wishes for salvation, come and take the water of life freely - without money or price!

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come - That is, come to the Saviour; come and partake of the blessings of the gospel; come and be saved. The construction demands this interpretation, as the latter part of the verse shows. The design of this whole verse is, evidently, to show the freeness of the offers of the gospel; to condense in a summary manner all the invitations of mercy to mankind; and to leave on the mind at the close of the book a deep impression of the ample provision which has been made for the salvation of a fallen race. Nothing, it is clear, could be more appropriate at the close of this book, and at the close of the whole volume of revealed truth, than to announce, in the most clear and attracting form, that salvation is free to all, and that whosoever will may be saved.

The Spirit - The Holy Spirit. He entreats all to come. This he does:

(a)in all the recorded invitations in the Bible - for it is by the inspiration of that Spirit that these invitations are recorded;

(b)by all his influences on the understandings, the consciences, and the hearts of people;

(c)by all the proclamations of mercy made by the preaching of the gospel, and by the appeal which friend makes to friend, and neighbor to neighbor, and stranger to stranger - for all these are methods in which the Spirit invites people to come to the Saviour.

And the bride - The church. See the notes at Revelation 21:2, Revelation 21:9. That is, the church invites all to come and be saved. This it does:

(a)by its ministers, whose main business it is to extend this invitation to mankind;

(b)by its ordinances - constantly setting forth the freeness of the gospel;

(c)by the lives of its consistent members - showing the excellency and the desirableness of true religion;

(d)by all its efforts to do good in the world;

(e)by the example of those who are brought into the church - showing that all, whatever may have been their former character, may be saved; and,

(f)by the direct appeals of its individual members.

Thus a Christian parent invites his children; a brother invites a sister, and a sister invites a brother; a neighbor invites his neighbor, and a stranger a stranger; the master invites his servant, and the servant his master. The church on earth and the church in heaven unite in the invitation, saying, Come. The living father, pastor, friend, invites - and the voice of the departed father, pastor, friend, now in heaven, is heard re-echoing the invitation. The once-loved mother that has gone to the skies still invites her children to come; and the sweet-smiling babe that has been taken up to the Saviour stretches out its arms from heaven, and says to its mother - “Come.”

Say, Come - That is, come to the Saviour; come into the church; come to heaven.

And let him that heareth say, Come - Whoever hears the gospel, let him go and invite others to come. Nothing could more strikingly set forth the freeness of the invitation of the gospel than this. The authority to make the invitation is not limited to the ministers of religion; it is not even confined to those who accept it themselves. All persons, even though they should not accept of it, are authorized to tell others that they may be saved. One impenitent sinner may go and tell another impenitent sinner that if he will he may find mercy and enter heaven. How could the offer of salvation be made more freely to mankind?

And let him that is athirst come - Whoever desires salvation, as the weary pilgrim desires a cooling fountain to allay his thirst, let him come as freely to the gospel as that thirsty man would stoop down at the fountain and drink. See the notes on Isaiah 55:1. Compare the Matthew 5:6 note; John 7:37 note; Revelation 21:6 note.

And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely - Revelation 21:6. Every one that is disposed to come, that has any sincere wish to be saved, is assured that he may live. No matter how unworthy he is; no matter what his past life has been; no matter how old or how young, how rich or how poor; no matter whether sick or well, a freeman or a slave; no matter whether educated or ignorant; no matter whether clothed in purple or in rags - riding in state or laid at the gate of a rich man full of sores, the invitation is freely made to all to come and be saved. With what more appropriate truth could a revelation from heaven be closed?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, Come.
And let him that heareth say, Come

Christ’s coming to the world, and men’s coming to Christ

The two halves of the verse do not refer to the same persons, or the same “coming.” The first portion is an invocation or a prayer; the second portion is an invitation or an offer. The one is addressed to Christ, the other to men. The commentary upon the former is the last words of the Book, where we find the seer answering the promise of his Master--“Behold! I come quickly!” with the sigh of longing: “Even so: Come! Lord Jesus.” And in precisely a similar fashion the bride here, longing for the presence of the bridegroom, answers His promise--“Behold I come quickly,” which occurs a verse or two before--with the petition which all who hear it are bidden to swell till it rolls in a great wave of supplication to His feet. And then with that coming, another “coming” is connected. The one is the coming of Christ to the world at last; the other is the coming of men to Christ now. The double office of the Church is represented here, the voice that rose in petition to heaven has to sound upon earth in proclamation. And the double relation of Christ to His Church is implied here. He is absent, therefore He is prayed to come; but He is in such a fashion present as that any who will can come to Him.

I. The invocation, or the coming of Christ to the world. Christ has come, Christ will come. These are the two great facts from which, as from two golden hooks, the whole chain of human history hangs in a mighty curve. Memory should feed upon the one, hope should leap up to grasp the other. Christ “comes,” though He is always present in human history, comes to our apprehensions in eras of rapid change, in revolutionary times when some ancient iniquity is smitten down, and some new fair form emerges from the chaos. The electricity is long in gathering during the fervid summer heat, in the slow-moving and changing clouds, but when it is gathered there comes the flash. The snow is long in collecting on the precipitous face of the Alp, but when the weight has become sufficient down it rushes, the white death of the avalanche. For fifty-nine (silent) minutes and fifty-nine (silent) seconds the hand moves round the dial, and at the sixtieth it strikes. So, at long intervals in the history of nations, a crash comes, and men say: “Behold the Lord! He cometh to judge the world.” Surely, surely it needs no words to enforce the thought that all who love Him, and all who love truth and righteousness, which are His, and all who desire that the world’s sorrows should be alleviated and the world’s evils should be chastised and smitten, must lift up the old, old cry: “Even so! Come! Lord Jesus.”

II. The invitation, or the coming of men to Christ. What is it to come? Listen to His own explanation: “He that cometh unto Me shall never hunger,” etc. Then “coming,” and “taking,” and “drinking,” are all but various forms of representing the one act of believing in Him. We come to Him when we trust Him. To come to Christ is faith. Who is it that are asked to come? “He that thirsteth” and “he that willeth.” The one phrase expresses the universal condition, the other only the limitation necessary in the very nature of things. “He that thirsteth.” Who does not? Your heart is parched for love; your mind, whether you know it or not, is restless and athirst for truth that you can cleave to in all circumstances. Your will longs for a loving authority that shall subdue and tame it. Your conscience is calling out for cleansing, for pacifying, for purity. Your whole being is one great want and emptiness. “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God,” it is only He that can slake the thirst, that can satisfy the hunger. “Whosoever will.” A wish is enough, but a wish is indispensable. How strange, and yet how common it is, that the thirsty man is not the willing man. Further, what is offered? “The water of life.” What is that? Not a thing, but a person--Christ Himself; even as He said: “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.” And what are the conditions?” “Let Him take the water of life for nothing;” as the word might have been tendered, “For nothing.” He says to us, “I will not sell it to you, I will give it to you.” And too many of us say to Him, “We had rather buy it, or at any rate pay something towards it.” No effort, no righteousness, no sacrifice, no anything is wanted. “Without money and without price.” You have only got to give up yourselves.

III. The connection between these two comings. There is a twofold connection that I would point out to you. Christ does not yet come in order that men may come to Him. He delays His drawing near, in His longsuffering mercy, in order that over all the earth the glad news may flash, and to every spirit the invitation may come. Christ tarries that you may hear, and repent, and come to Him. That is the first phase of the connection between these two things. The other is--because Christ will come to the world, therefore let us come to Him now. Joyful as the spring after the winter, and as the sunshine after the darkness, as that coming of His ought to be to all; and though it be the object or desire to all hearts that love Him and the healing for the miseries and sorrows of the world, do not forget it has a very solemn and a very terrible side. He comes, when He does come, to judge. He comes, not as of old, in lowliness, to heal and to succour and to save, but He comes to heal and to succour and to save all them that love His appearing, and them only, and He comes to judge all men whether they love His appearing or no. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The two “comes”

I. Our text begins with the heavenward cry of prayer. Surely the sense requires us to regard this cry of “come” as addressed to our Lord Jesus, who in a previous verse had been saying, “Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me.”

1. The matter of this cry--it is the coming of Christ. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” This is and always has been the universal cry of the Church of Jesus Christ.

2. Next observe the persons crying. The Spirit is first mentioned--“The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” And why does the Holy Ghost desire the coming of the Lord Jesus? At present the Spirit is, so to speak, the vicegerent of this dispensation upon earth. How much He is provoked all the world over it is not possible for us to know! The ungodly vex Him, they reject His testimony, and resist His operations. And, alas, the saints grieve Him too; and so He desireth the end of this evil estate, and saith to our Lord Jesus, “Come.” Beside, the Spirit’s great desire is to glorify Christ. Now, as the coming of Christ will be the full manifestation of the Redeemer’s glory, the Spirit therefore desireth that He may come and take to Himself His great power, and reign. Our text next tells us that, “the bride saith, Come.” Now, a bride is one whose marriage is near, either as having just happened or as close at hand. So is the Church very nearly arrived at the grand hour, when it shall be said “the marriage of the Lamb is come and His bride hath made herself ready”; and because of that she is full of joy at the prospect of hearing the cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.” Who marvelleth that it is so? The next clause of the text indicates that each separate believer should breathe the same desire, “Let him that heareth say, Come.” This will be the index of your belonging to the bride, the token of your sharing in the one Spirit, if you unite with the Spirit and the bride in saying, “Come.” For no ungodly man truly desireth Christ’s coming; but on the contrary he desireth to get away from Him, and forget His very existence. To delight in drawing near unto the Lord Jesus Christ; to long to see Him manifested in fulness of glory is the ensign of a true soldier of the Cross. Do you feel this?

3. Now a word upon the tense in which the cry is put. It is in the present tease. The Spirit and the bride are anxious that Christ should come at once, and he that knoweth Christ and loveth Him desireth also that He should not tarry. Is it not time as far as our poor judgments go that Jesus should come?

II. The earthward cry of invitation to men. I cannot quite tell you how it is that the sense in my text glides away from the coming of Christ to the earth into the coming of sinners to Christ, but it does. Like colours which blend, or strains of music which melt into each other, so the first sense slides into the second. This almost insensible transition seems to me to have been occasioned by the memory of the fact that the coming of Christ is not desirable to all mankind. He lets the prayer flow towards Himself, but yet directs its flow towards poor sinners also. He Himself seems to say, “Ye bid Me come, but I, as the Saviour of men, look at your brothers and your sisters who are yet in the far country, the other sheep which are not yet of the fold, whom also I must bring in, and in answer to your cry to Me to come I speak to those wandering ones, and say, ‘Let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’“ Is not that the way in which the sense glides from its first direction? Now,- from whom does this cry arise?

1. It first comes from Jesus. It is He who says, “Let Him that is athirst come.”

2. But next, it is the call of the Spirit of God. The Spirit says, “Come.” This Book which He has written, on every page says to men, “Come! Come to Jesus.” And those secret motions of power upon the conscience, those times when the heart grows calm even amid dissipation, and thought is forced upon the mind, those are the movements of the Spirit of God by which He is showing man His danger and revealing to him his refuge, and so is saying, “Come.”

3. And this is the speech of the Church too in conjunction with the Spirit, for the Spirit speaks with the bride and the bride speaks by the Spirit. The Church is always saying “Come.”

4. The next giver of the invitation is spoken of as “him that heareth.” If you have had an ear to hear, and have heard the gospel to your own salvation, the very next thing you have to do is to say to those around you, “Come.” Give your Master’s invitation, distribute the testimony of His loving will, and bid poor sinners come to Jesus.

III. The connection between these two comings.

1. There is this relation, first, they are both suggested in this passage by the closing of the scriptural canon. It is because the Book was about to receive its finis that the Spirit and the bride unitedly cried to the sinners to come at once. No fresh gospel is to be expected, therefore let them come at once

2. I think I perceive another connection, namely, that those people who in very truth love Christ enough to cry to Him continually to come are sure to love sinners also, and to say to them also, “Come.”

3. There is this connection also, that before Christ comes a certain number of His elect must be ingathered. Oh, then, it is ours to labour that the wanderers may come home, for so we are, as far as lieth in us, hastening the time when our Beloved Himself shall come.

4. Once more, there is a sort of coming of Christ which, though it be not the first meaning here, may be included in it, for it touches the centre of the sinner’s coming to Christ. Because when we cry, “Come, Lord Jesus,” if He shall answer us by giving us of His Spirit more fully, so that He comes to us spiritually, then penitent souls will assuredly be brought to His feet.

IV. Well, then, lastly, what are the responses? We sent up a cry to heaven, and said, “Come.” The response is, “Behold, I come quickly.” That is eminently satisfactory. Christ will descend to earth as surely as He ascended to heaven, and when He cometh there will be victory to the right and to the true, and His saints shall reign with Him. And now concerning this other cry of “Come.” We ask sinners to come. We have asked them in a fourfold voice: Jesus, the Spirit, the bride, and him that heareth, they have all said, “Come.” Will they come? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The double “come”

We have open before us the last page of the Word of God. How shall the book finish? Shall it close with a promise? It is well that it should, and there is the cheering word for the righteous, “Blessed are they that do His commandments,” etc. Shall it close with a threatening to the wicked? Here it is: “without are dogs,” etc. Shall the last sentence be full of tender invitation and earnest entreaty to the sinner, bidding him come to Christ and live? Yes, let it be so; and yet shall we forget the Lord Himself while we are thinking of the sinner? He has told us that He will come--should not the very last word of Scripture have a reference to Him and to His glorious advent? Should not the Spirit at the last, as well as at the first, bear witness to Jesus? Shall not the last word that shall linger in the reader’s ear speak of the approaching glory of the Lord? Yes, let it be so: but it would be best of all if we could have a word that would combine the four: a promise to the righteous, a threatening to the wicked, an invitation to the poor and needy, and a welcome to the coming one. Who could devise such a verse? The Holy Ghost is equal to the emergency. He can dictate such a verse: He has dictated it. Here it is in the words of our text.

I. First, then, let us consider, the twofold ministry.

1. There is in the text a cry for the coming of the Lord. Let every one that hears the prophecy of our Lord’s assured coming join in the prayer, “Thy kingdom come.”

2. But there is a second ministry of the Church, which is the cry for the coming of sinners to Christ. In this respect “the Spirit and the Bride say, Come.” The world should ring with “Come to Jesus!”

3. This, then, is the double ministry, and I want you to notice that the first call is not opposed to the second. The fact that Christ is coming ought never to make us any the less diligent in pressing sinners to come to Christ.

4. Again, take heed that the second call never obscures the first. Be taken up with evangelical work; let it fill your heart; but, at the same time, watch for that sudden appearing which, to many, will be as unwelcome as a thief in the night.

5. Let the two “comes” leap at the same moment from your heart, for they are linked together. Christ will not come until He hath gathered unto Himself an elect company; therefore, when you and I go forth and say to sinners, “Come,” and God blesses us to the bringing of them in, we are doing the best we can to hasten the advent of the Son of man.

II. This twofold ministry is secured. According to our text, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” They always do say it, and always will say it till Jesus comes.

1. The Spirit says it. What a cry must this be which comes up from the Spirit of God Himself! Given at Pentecost, He has never returned or left the Church, but He dwells in chosen hearts, as in a temple, even to this day. He is always moving men to pray that Christ may come, and moving men to come to Christ.

2. This also is certainly fulfilled by the Church wherever she is a true Church.

III. The way in which this twofold ministry is increased. “Let him that heareth say, Come.” The hearing man is to say, “Come,” but the unconverted man is not bidden so to do. No, he cannot say “Come” till he has first come for himself. You that are not saved cannot invite others. How can you? Yet all of you who have really heard the gospel with opened ear, and received the truth of God by faith into your souls, are called upon to cry, “Come.”

1. See how this perpetuates the cry. As in the old Greek games the athletes ran with torches, and one handed the light to another, and thus it passed along the line, so is it with us. Each man runneth his race, but he passeth the torch on to another that the light may never go out from generation to generation. Let the fathers teach the children, and the children their children, and so while the sun and the moon endure let the voice that crieth, “Come” to Christ, go up to heaven, and let the voice that crieth, “Come” to sinners, be heard in the chief places of concourse.

2. This precept secures the swelling of the volume of the cry; for if every man that hears the gospel is to cry, “Come,” then there will be more voices, and yet more. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

On the invitations of the gospel

I. What is implied in this invitation? And what is comprehended in coming to Him? Simply obeying His word! Even now the chief of sinners is invited to return to God, with the promise of free forgiveness, and the prospect of everlasting felicity held out to him.

II. Such is the invitation before us. Is it, in what it requires us to do, aught else than what our own consciences have often and again urged us to do? Has the still small voice within us never told us that while we are at a distance from God, we never can be happy? But we have also to remember that the calls to return to God, which have been addressed to us through the instrumentality of conscience, were in reality the dictates of that Spirit of all grace and goodness, who is represented in the text as inviting us to a Saviour. Though we cannot explain His operations, nor distinguish them usually from what we call those of our own minds, yet we know that the Spirit of God suggests and excites to all good, that it is He who restrains us from utter reprobation. But we have also to observe, that the invitations of the Spirit are addressed to us in the written word of God; and oh, how frequently are the entreaties, the warnings, and the calls of that word read, without the slightest remembrance that it actually is the Word of God to the reader! Surely it is not a question to be dismissed without concern, whether your Maker has called on you to return to His service and favour, and you are exposed to the fearful penalty of shutting your ears to His call, and despising His reproof. The Bride saith, “Come!” The Church of Christ is meant by this expression. That Church consists not only of those Christians who are now on earth, but of those also who have gone before us, on the path Which leads to God, and now live in His presence in heaven. We are not only, through the mercy of the Almighty, called on to consider the things which belong to our peace, through the instrumentality of Christian institutions around us, but we should also remember that they too call upon us, who now enjoy the reward of their toils and have entered on their rest, to follow in their footsteps and emulate their example. The affections of nature add their entreaty to the command of Divine authority; and every holy example of departed saints, in the record of your own memory, or in that of Scripture, as well as all the invitations addressed to you through the instituted means of grace, form but, as it were, the united voice of the Church in heaven and the Church on earth--“Come!” Come to participate in the privileges of those who were the truly honourable of the earth, and to an eternal reunion with the great and good, in unmingled happiness and perfection. One observation on the words, “Let him that heareth say, Come”--him who has already heard and obeyed the call. We are bound, as far as in us lies, to make known the gospel of our hopes to others, and endeavour to induce them to believe and obey; and, may we not add, that this should be felt by Christians as the impulse of affection, not merely as the obligation of duty. “Let him that heareth say, Come.” Opportunities, both public and private, are abundant, for this joint exercise of Christian love and Christian obedience. And are there not abundant motives to it? It is to be a fellow-worker with Christ. It is to be an honoured means in God’s hand of accomplishing greater good than lies within the attainment of earthly power or wisdom.

III. Who are they to whom the invitation is so especially addressed, under the descriptions, “Him that is athirst,” and “Whosoever will”? The metaphor employed in our text directs us intelligibly in pointing out the first of the classes referred to. Let him that is athirst take of the water of life freely. That is, him who thirsts for that water! Come to Christ, and take of the water of life freely; intrust yourself unreservedly into His hands, and to His disposal, as your Teacher, your Master, and your Saviour; and while you do this you will experience that the more your knowledge of Him increases, the more your peace and your hope will increase also. It is, in truth, the inquirer’s unwillingness to submit himself to Christ in all his offices, which usually stands in the way of his own peace. We believe there are exceptions, but not so numerous as to disprove the general assertion. A sense of sin leads us to distrust the Redeemer, or a love of some sin renders us indisposed to renounce it. To meet these obstacles the gospel is, on the one hand, abundant in its assurances that none ever did or shall trust in God in vain; and, on the other, most peremptory in its demands that all sin shall be renounced in coming unto Christ. “And whosoever will!” Whosoever is sincerely desirous to partake in the benefits of salvation, whether his feelings are characterized or not by the excitement of those just referred to, let him too come! The description is just made more general in these words for the purpose of displaying more forcibly and persuasively the Divine goodwill towards all; nor can we conceive a limitation to the comprehensiveness of this description, which would authorise us in refusing to any the hopes and invitations of the gospel. (John Park.)

God’s mercy towards a soul-thirsting world

I. In the provision He has made for it.

1. The provision is exquisitely suitable.

2. The provision is absolutely free.

II. In the pressing invitation to the provision.

1. The Divine Spirit says “Come.”

2. The Christian Church says “Come.”

3. The mere hearer, is commanded to say “Come.” (Homilist.)

Come, oh Saviour! Come, oh sinner!

I. The cry for Christ’s advent. It is this advent that is the great theme of the Apocalypse, and the central objects of its scenes. It opens with, “Behold, He cometh”; it goes on with, “Behold, I come as a thief”; and it ends with, “Behold, I come quickly.” All the predictions throughout the book bear upon this event, and carry forward the Church’s hopes to this great goal. But there are three parties here represented as uttering this prayer.

1. The Spirit. He cries, “Come.” What so interests the Spirit in the advent?

2. The Bride--the Lamb’s wife, the whole Church as a body, as a virgin betrothed, looking for the marriage day.

3. He that heareth. “Blessed is he that heareth.” Not as if the hearer was not part of the Bride; but the word thus singles out each one on whose ears the message is falling. The moment you hear it, you should cry, “Come, Come, Lord Jesus!” For then our sins and sorrows are ended; then our victory is won; then this vile body is changed; then we meet and unite forever with the loved and lost; then shall the ransomed of the Lord return, and come to Zion with songs.

II. The invitation to the sinner.

1. The inviter--Christ Himself; the same who said, “Come unto Me.” He invited once on earth: He now invites from heaven with the same urgency and love.

2. The persons invited. Do you want to be happy? Joy is here for you, whoever and whatever you are.

3. The blessings invited to--the water of life. “Water,” that which will thoroughly refresh you and quench your thirst; “water of life,” living and life-giving; a quickening well; a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. Not a shower, nor a stream, but a well--a fountain (Revelation 21:6).

4. The price--Freely! Free to each one as He is; though the chief of sinners, the emptiest, wickedest, thirstiest of the sons of men.

5. The time--the invitation comes forth at the close of that book which sums up all revelation. It contains Christ’s last words, meant specially for the last days of a weary, thirsty world; when men, having tried every pleasure, vanity, lust, folly, and found nothing, having exhausted every cup and broken every cistern, will be found more thoroughly weary and thirsty than before. (H. Bonar, D. D.)

The bride’s twofold cry

I. That when the Church cries most earnestly for the Master, she will strive most earnestly for the world. Her prayer to Christ, and her invitation to the perishing, will go forth from the self-same lips, and at the self-same time. Her advent song will have a good gospel refrain. There are times when it can hardly be said that the Church does long for the nearer and fuller manifestation of her Lord--when she has settled down into a state of apathy and indifference. And it is just at these times that she grows lax in her evangelistic work, and becomes careless about the world which lieth in wickedness. On the other hand, there are times when the Church is stirred to her deepest, inmost heart for a fuller and nearer manifestation of her Master’s presence. And it is just at these times that she pleads most earnestly and powerfully with sinners, and that her invitations to the world go forth most freely. Calling earnestly for the Lord, she calls most beseechingly to the world. She finds the banquet so rich and full that she cannot but invite the perishing to partake of it.

II. If the Church would hear the Lord’s voice and enjoy the Lord’s presence, she must make His voice heard by the unconverted. “Let him that heareth say, Come.” That is--let him that hearkeneth, that hath his ears open for the Master’s voice, and wishes to enjoy the Master’s presence, let him make known the Master’s promises and the Master’s invitations to the unbelieving world. Or to put it in one brief, simple sentence. The highest Christian life can only be enjoyed by those who are wrestling with the world, and calling the unbelieving to the Saviour’s feet. The higher Christian life is not possible to those who coddle and nurse their own souls, and spend all their strength in hunting for spiritual joy and securing their own salvation. Just in proportion to our anxiety about the salvation of others will complete salvation be attained by ourselves. Christ will speak most graciously to our souls when our mouths are open to declare His word. You have heard of the old mystics, the Christian mystics of the middle ages. They were men who thought that Christ would appear to them in some material form--or at least some visible form--if they watched and waited for Him long and patiently enough. And they shut themselves in their lonely cells, far away from the world, its cares, and sorrows. But the vision came not. The weird creations of their own mad dreams came to mock their endeavours--nothing more. No face of Christ appeared; there was no realisation of the Divine presence. These men were seeking to save their own souls, and only that, and Christ would not answer them. There is something akin to this old mysticism in the present day. Men who have no desire for evangelisation work, no concern for the sinning, dying world, are expecting to receive of Christ all the power and joy of faith. They are sitting down with open ear but closed lips at the Master’s feet; they would gain all for themselves and nothing for the world; and Christ withholds the vision now as He did in days of old. You shall not have the fulness of power, He says, unless you will use it in the work of conversion. I will not show you the glory of My face unless you will make known that glory to others. “Let him that heareth say, Come.”

III. Those who long for the Master’s presence have most faith in the Master’s power. It is this longing and expectant bride who is praying for the second advent--panting, groaning for her Lord’s presence. It is this bride who utters the closing invitations of our text. It is because she has felt His power--felt it throbbing through all her being--that she longs for more of it. It is because she has tasted the water of life, and knows its sweetness, and its gladness, and its healing virtues, that she prays for a fuller draught. Ah, she has great faith in her Master and in the provisions of His love. The first and last and always present sign of an apathetic and listless Church is a loss of faith in the power of the gospel. The Church which has enjoyed little of Christ is still generally audacious and unbelieving enough to think that it has enjoyed all. It thinks it has received all, or nearly all, that He can give, and proved the sum total of His power. But to a Church which rejoices in Christ, which has drunk largely of His Spirit, and is crying day and night for more of it, the gospel is all the power and sweetness of God to every one that it touches. (J. G. Greenhough, M. A.)

The gracious invitation of Christ to sinners

I. What is implied the thirsting here spoken of.

1. Do any make the things of this world the chief object of their thirst? Our Lord tells them how they should regulate their desires, and which way they ought to turn them (Psalms 4:6).

2. If any thirst after righteousness--either the righteousness of justification or sanctification--they must apply to Jesus Christ in order to obtain the necessary mercies (1 Corinthians 1:30).

3. If any thirst after Jesus Christ and His grace; such are called in the text. This thirst is a fruit of spiritual life: for how can a soul thirst after Jesus unless the soul knows Him, and, in some measure, the need it stands in of an interest in Him; and His suitableness to the wants of the soul?

4. If any thirst after happiness--though this thirsting may be found where there is nothing but common convictions, no desire after holiness, but only a desire to be saved from misery, not from sin--yet Jesus calls such to come to Him for that happiness which they desire. Would you be happy hereafter? Then you must begin with Christ now; He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

II. The Lord Jesus Christ invites every thirsty soul to come to Him.

1. What this coming is. It is believing in Jesus Christ (John 6:35). Not an act of the body, but of the soul. The consent of the will. Receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation. We first come to Christ by faith, and then to God by Him.

2. To whom convinced sinners should come for relief. To Jesus Christ. He is very God; and, as Mediator between God and man, He has an all-fulness in Him.

3. Who are the persons that Jesus calls to come to Him.

III. How are we to understand the expression “whosoever will.”

IV. The Lord Jesus Christ will abundantly satisfy every thirsty soul that comes to him. This is evident--

1. By the frequent repetition of His calls and invitations to sinners to return and come to Him for His benefits.

2. From the many instances of those that came to Jesus Christ, in the days of His ministry upon earth, for some bodily favour, either for themselves or friends or relations.

3. By the experience of every true believer.

V. What do needy souls find in Jesus Christ upon their coming to Him?

1. He that has natural thirst is willing to be at any reasonable cost for something to satisfy his thirst: for he knows that if he has not timely relief he is in danger of his life. So the soul that thirsts after Jesus Christ and His grace is willing to part with all for Him; for he knows that Christ has enough in Him to satisfy all his spiritual desires.

2. That which satisfies natural thirst will be highly esteemed (Job 23:12; Jeremiah 15:16; Psalms 119:97).

3. If the soul is truly athirst after Jesus Christ and His grace, nothing short of Christ will satisfy it.

4. A thirsty man will be glad of, and thankful for, seasonable relief.

5. The thirsty man’s desires are not satisfied once for all, but he must have new supplies (John 6:34; 1 Peter 2:3-4).

6. A thirsty man will be willing to take any pains to obtain his desires. Such will come to the fountain, and sit at the pool, and wait at the posts of wisdom’s gates; they will honour the ordinances of Jesus Christ by a careful attendance on them, or rather on God in them, in order to obtain the mercies that their souls want. To such as have experienced this thirsting after Jesus Christ and His benefits, and have been made willing to come to Him, and look for salvation from Him upon His own terms. Be very thankful to God for what He has discovered to you, and wrought in and for you. Give thanks to God for the fulness of Jesus Christ as Mediator, prepared for the supply of needy souls; and then for His showing you, by the gospel, the fulness of grace that is in Christ. Give thanks to God for drawing you. Take care to exert and lay out for the honour and glory of God and for the exaltation of Jesus Christ, for the service of His kingdom and the good of souls whatsoever you have received from Him. Oh let Him have the honour of His grace. (W. Notcutt.)

Come and welcome

The cry of the Christian religion is the simple word “come.” The Jewish law said, “Go, and take heed unto thy steps as to the path in which thou shalt walk. Go, and break the commandments, and thou shalt perish; go, and keep them, and thou shalt live.” The law repels; the gospel attracts.

I. There is a “water of life.” Man is utterly ruined and undone. He is lost in a wild waste wilderness. The skin bottle of his righteousness is all dried up, and there is not so much as a drop of water in it. Must he perish? He looks aloft, beneath, around, and he discovers no means of escape. Must thirst devour him? No; for the text declares there is a fountain of life. Ordained in old eternity by God in solemn covenant, this fountain, this Divine well, takes its spring from the deep foundations of God’s decrees. This sacred fountain, established according to God’s good will and pleasure in the covenant, opened by Christ when He died upon the Cross, floweth this day to give life and health and joy and peace to poor sinners dead in sin and ruined by the fall. There is a “water of life.” By this water of life is intended God’s free grace, God’s love for men, so that if you come and drink, you shall find this to be life indeed to your soul, for in drinking of God’s grace you inherit God’s love, you are reconciled to God, God stands in a fatherly relation to you, He loves you, and His great infinite heart yearns towards you. Again, it is living water not simply because it is love, and that is life, but it saves from impending death. Come hither then, ye sin-doomed; this water can wash away your sins, and when your sins are washed away, then shall ye live; for the innocent must not be punished. Here is water that can make you whiter than driven snow. “But,” saith the poor convicted soul, “this is not all I want, for if all the sins I have ever committed were blotted out, in one ten minutes I should commit many more. If I were now completely pardoned, it would not be many seconds before I should destroy my soul and sink helplessly again.” Ay! but see here, this is living water, it can quench thy thirst of sin; entering into thy soul it shall overcome and cover with its floods thy propensities to evil. This is life indeed, for here is favour, here is pardon, here is sanctity, the renewing of the soul by the washing of water through the Word. “But,” saith one, “I have a longing within me which I cannot satisfy. I feel sure that if I be pardoned yet there is something which I want--which nothing I have ever heard of, or have ever seen or handled, can satisfy. I have within me an aching void which the world can never fill.” But hearken! thou that art wretched and miserable, here is living water that can quench thy thirst. Come hither and drink, and thou shalt be satisfied; for he that is a believer in Christ finds enough for him in Christ now, and enough for ever. You shall never thirst again, except it be that you shall long for deeper draughts of this living fountain. And, moreover, he who drinketh of this living water shall never die. His body shall see corruption for a little while, but his soul, mounting aloft, shall dwell with Jesus. Yea! and his very body, when it has passed through the purifying process, shall rise again more glorious than when it was sown in weakness. It shall rise in glory, in honour, in power, in majesty, and united with the soul, it shall everlastingly inherit the joys which Christ has prepared for them that love Him.

II. The invitation is very wide--“whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’’ The one question I have to ask is, art thou willing? if so, Christ bids thee take the water of life. Art thou willing? if so, be pardoned, be sanctified, be made whole. For if thou art willing Christ is willing too, and thou art freely invited to come and welcome to the fountain of life and grace. Now mark, the question has to do with the will. “Oh,” says one, “I am so foolish I cannot understand the plan of salvation, therefore I may not come and drink.” But my question has nothing to do with your understanding, it has to do with your will. You may be as big a fool as you will, but if you are willing to come to Christ you are freely invited. “Oh,” says one, “I can understand the plan of salvation, but I cannot repent as I would. Sir, my heart is so hard I cannot bring the tear to my eye. I cannot feel my sins as I would desire.” Ay, but this text has nothing to do with your heart; it is with your will. Are you willing? Then be your heart hard as the nether millstone, if thou art willing to be saved I am bidden to invite thee. “Whosoever will,” not “whosoever feels,” but “whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely.” “Yes,” says one, “I can honestly say I am willing, but my heart will not soften. I wish that grace would change me. I can say I wish that Christ would soften my heart. I am willing.” Well, then, the text is for thee, “Whosoever will, let him come.” If thou art willing thou art freely invited to Christ. “No,” saith one, “but I am such a great sinner. I have been a drunkard; I have been a lascivious man; I have gone far astray from the paths of rectitude. I would not have all my sins known to my fellow creatures. How can God accept of such a wretch as I am, such a foul creature as I have been?” Mark thee, man! There is no reference made here to thy past life. It simply says, “whosoever will.” Art thou willing? “Ah!” saith one, “God knows I am willing, but still I do not think I am worthy.” No, I know you are not, but what is that to do with it? It is not, “whosoever is worthy,” but “whosoever will, let him come.” “Well,” says one, “I believe that whosoever will may come, but not me, for I am the vilest sinner out of hell.” But hark thee, sinner, it says, “whosoever.” What a big word that is! Whosoever! There is no standard-height here. It is of any height and any size.

III. How clear the path is, “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” That word “let” is a very curious word, because it signifies two opposite things. “Let” is an old-fashioned word which sometimes signifies “hinder.” “He that letteth shall be taken away”--that is, “He that hindereth.” But here, in our text, it means the removing of all hindrance. “Let him come”--methinks I hear Jehovah speaking this. Here is the fountain of love and mercy. But you are too unworthy, you are too vile. Hear Jehovah! He cries, “Let him come, he is willing. Stand back! doubts and fears; away with you, let him come; make a straight road; let him come if he be but willing.” Then the devil himself comes forward, and striding across the way, he says to the poor trembling soul, “I will spill thy blood; thou shalt never have mercy. I defy thee; thou shalt never believe in Christ, and never be saved.” But Christ says, “Let him come”; and Satan, strong though he be, quails beneath Jehovah’s voice, and Jesus drives him away, and the path stands clear, nor can sin, nor death, nor hell, block up the way when Jehovah Jesus says, “Let him come.” Standing one day in the court-house, some witness was required, I forget his name; it may have been Brown, for instance, in one moment the name was announced, “Brown, Samuel Brown”; by and by twenty others take up the cry, “Samuel Brown, Samuel Brown.” There was seen a man pushing his way through; “Make room,” said he, “make room, his honour calls me,” and though there were many in his path they gave way, because his being called was a sufficient command to them, not to hinder him, but to let him come. And now, soul, if thou be a willing sinner, though thy name is not mentioned--if thou be a willing sinner, thou art as truly called as though thou wert called by name, and therefore, push through thy fears. Make elbow room, and come; they that would stop thee are craven cowards. He has said, “Let him come,” and they cannot keep you back; Jehovah has said, “Let him come,” and it is yours now to say, “I will come.

IV. The condition which is the death of all conditions--let him take it freely. Methinks I see one here who is saying, “I would be saved and I will do what I can to be worthy of it.” The fountain is free, and he comes with his halfpenny in his hand, and that a bad one, and he says, “Here, sir, give me a cup of this living water to drink; I am well worthy of it, for see the price is in my hand.” Why, man, if thou could’st bring the wealth of Potosi, or all the diamonds of Galconda, and all the pearls of Ormuz, you could not buy this most costly thing. Put up your money, you could not have it for gold or silver. The man brings his merit: but heaven is not to be sold to meritmongers. Or perhaps you say, “I will go to church regularly, I will give to the poor, I will attend my meeting-house, I will take a sitting, I will be baptized, I will do this and the other, and then no doubt I shall have the water of life.” Back, miserable herd, bring not your rags and rubbish to God, He wants them not. Stand back, you insult the Almighty when you tender anything as payment. Back with ye; He invites not such as you to come. He says come freely. He wants nothing to recommend you. He needs no recommendation. You want no good works. Do not bring any. But you have no good feelings. Nevertheless you are willing, therefore come. He wants no good feelings of you. You have no belief and no repentance, yet nevertheless you are willing. Do not try to get them yourself--come to Him, and He will give them to you. Come just as you are; it is “freely,” “without money and without price.” “Whosoever will, let him come.” Let him bring nothing to recommend him. Let him not imagine he can give any payment to God, or any ransom for his soul; for the one condition that excludes all conditions is, “Let him come and take the water of life freely.” There is a man of God here who has drank of the river of the water of life many times; but he says, “ I want to know more of Christ, I want to have nearer fellowship with Him; I want to enter more closely into the mystery of His sacrifice; I want to understand more and more of the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be made conformable unto His death.” Well, believer, drink freely. You have filled your bowl of faith once, and you drank the draught off; fill it again, drink again, and keep on drinking. Put your mouth to the fountain if you will drink right on. As good Rutherford says in one of his letters, “I have been sinking my bucket down into the well full often, but now my thirst after Christ has become so insatiable that I long to put the well itself to my lips and drain it all, and drink right on.” Well, take it freely as much as ever you can. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let him that heareth say, Come.--

The great commission

It is midnight in the crowded city. A million of people, weary with the cares and burdens of the day, have sought relief in sleep. In thousands of houses the lights are extinguished, and nothing breaks the silence of healthy repose. From an upper window, unseen of any, came a puff of smoke and curled upward into the night air. The watchman passed the building, and, to his observation, all was safe. He turned the corner of his beat, but a steady column of smoke was rising in place of the single puff. Ere he returns to point of view a fiery wave is rolling up to heaven. The heated air has waked a current, and the fire-fiends are in glee as through the thin partitions of the blocks the greedy flames make their way. Who shall arouse the sleeping city? Who shall save the dwellers in yonder house, already lighted with the reflected beams a though the devils were dancing on its rafters in glee at its speedy destruction? Must we wait for the city’s appointment, the mayor’s seal, the official’s paper? Let him that seeth cry, “Fire!” Let him that heareth cry, “Fire!” and roll the cry in deafening thunders on till every soul is stirred, every family safe. The possession of a tongue is the evidence of heaven’s commission--the roaring flame is the voice of authority commanding to immediate alarm, to instant toil, and none may find excuse from blame who withhold their cries as they stand beside the charred, disfigured bodies of the unalarmed. Here is the ground for universal Christian labour. The dangerous exposure of man voices the Divine commission to each. Let us try again: The clouds refused their moisture, and the hot sun poured incessantly upon the dry and parching earth. The seed lost its power of reproduction; fruit juices dried in the vine and tree; grass withered in the field, and when the winds of autumn blew not a barn held any treasure, not a home had any provision. The days of famine came; children cried for food their parents could not give; infants died upon the famished breasts of their mothers; strong men crept about in the helplessness of infancy; the flocks were destroyed; weeping and wailing were on every side. The dreadful news was sent to distant lands, and the cry for bread burdened every breeze. The eager watchers sat upon the mountains and gazed upon the far-off sea. At length, slow rising on the distant edge, a sail appears; with beating hearts they watch; nearer it comes, sailing to their relief. The shore is reached; it is the relief-ship, crammed with bread and fruits of life. The busy hands roll the cargo out and spread it on the shore and welcome all. The starving are at home. The dying want only a crust of bread to bring them back to life again. And now in rich abundance plenty for all is heaped upon the land. The few upon the border satisfy their wants; the multitudes beyond the hill that skirts the beach are ignorant of any provision, and as the minutes pass their lives go out. Who shall proclaim that plenty waits their coming? Who shall carry the glad news over the hills into the inland cities that the suffering is at an end and there is enough for all? Let him that has a voice cry, “Bread upon the shore!” and him that heareth cry, “Bread upon the shore!” till the echo rings through the whole famished land and has fallen upon every ear and the multitudes are flocking to satisfy their wants. What shall be said of him who, knowing the destitution and made acquainted with the supply, coolly declares, “Let them find it out for themselves. I have eaten.” Or who is content to let only the appointed herald make proclamation once for all? What shall be said of him who sees a starving family, notes the faltering steps, the hollow cheeks, the tear-dimmed eye, the haggard look, and ventures no information that the food has come? Again, we have found a call for universal Christian toil emphasised by supply as well as need. Heaven cries to each through teeming bounty for all. “O that the Christian world would wake to faithfulness, and when the Spirit and the Bride has said, ‘Come,’ even he that heareth would say, ‘Come.’“ The great realities of the Christian faith demand individual effort for their promulgation.

I. The danger of the soul calls for the alarm cry of each. If the flames of a burning city call to each to give alarm, how much more the flames that throw their glare upon the living soul? We need not cross the borders of this world, nor travel out of the circle of personal acquaintance, to find consuming men, burning with a heat that stirs the pity which they treat with scorn. Think of the pitiful crowds of women out of whose being all trace of mother-love is burned, all tender affections gone--sweetness, kindness, virtue--the very ashes of all nobleness blown away, and the bestial fires still glowing in their souls; yet they were fair, favoured, honoured as any till the torch was applied, the conflagration started, and no soul sought to quench it. There is no soul in all the world to which the fiery torch of sin has not been placed. The peril of each is imminent. The watchman passes by but does not see the smouldering passion, the heated imagination. The inflamed soul is careless of others. But there are those who have been dashed with the waters of life and see and know the increasing danger; there are those who have themselves been plucked as brands from the burning. They note the first puff that indicates in their friend, in a passer-by, the kindled fire; they see the glare in the eye, on the cheek, in the spirit; that detects the glow that heralds the blazing city of the soul; honour, honesty, obedience to God, regard for human rights, child-love, wife-love, even self-love, are wrapped in smoke and flame, and yet the cry of alarm is withheld. Seize the child with blazing garments and wrap her in a rug, no matter who she is, no matter where she stands; it shall save a life. Raise the cry for instant help. Summon the ambulance. This is the voice of humanity. How much louder then should be the call, how much more vigorous the effort to relieve the endangered soul! Begin in your own home to-day where the danger is truly personal. Is it enough that you talk of all matters but the soul’s escape from sin? Is it enough that the preacher cries out in trumpet-tones, “Let him that heareth say, Come?” Assail each ear with the cry that God has put upon your lips.

II. The provision for saving the soul calls for individual proclamation. If the sea-side watchers, failing to inform the famine land of plenty, deserve the detestation of mankind, what is the righteous judgment on him who fails to inform of the spiritual supply for endangered and perishing souls? “Let him that heareth say, Come.” It is not the results of his own investigations that man is sent to proclaim. It is of the glorious provision of God. Not the subtleties of abstruse metaphysical reasoning, nor the teachings of learned scientists, but pardon for the guilty, a Saviour for the lost, he is to shout and whisper into every ear, that the dying may hear it and never die, that the living may catch its meaning and live for ever. ‘Tis not a call for the investigation of provision, but for its distribution. Its summons is not to the trained scholars of the land alone, to the skilful reasoners, to the eloquent lips, but to hearers of every class. The sacred privilege, the solemn duty, opens before every one who hears to proclaim the mercy and the grace of God toward men to give hope to the hopeless, courage to the faint, a Saviour to all. The commission bears no time limitation. Not once a week, when Sabbath bells ring, but every day and every time a needy soul is met may the word be spoken, “Come to the open fountain! Come to the bread of life!” I have read that during a heavy storm off the coast of Spain a dismantled merchantman was observed by a British frigate drifting before the gale. Every eye and glass were on her, and a canvas shelter on the deck almost level with the sea suggested the idea that there yet might be life on board. Instantly the order sounded to put the ship about, and a boat puts off with instructions to bear down upon the wreck and rescue life if aught remained. Away after that drifting hulk go the gallant men, risking their own lives on the mountain billows of the roaring sea. Reaching it they cry aloud, and from the canvas screen creeps out what proved to be the body of a man so shrivelled and wasted as to be easily lifted on board. In tender pity the rough men rub the chilled and wasted body. About to pull away, the saved man moves and moans and whispers, and as they listen they can catch the muttered words, “There is another man.” The saved would save his friend, though almost in the hands of death. It is the lesson for us all. While another man treads the globe unsaved by the blood of Christ, he, brethren to the rescue! Not in the feebleness of your own strength, but in obedience to Him who sends the thrilling message to all whose ears have been touched with the heavenly music, saying, “Let him that heareth say, Come.” (S. H. Virgin, D. D.)

Let him that heareth say, Come

1. Notice the party addressed: “Him that heareth.” There is no reference here to age, or position, or gifts, or learning.

2. Observe the terms in which this duty is prescribed. He that heareth is to “say, Come.” The terms here used are very general, and in many respects indefinite. If you cannot “say, Come,” in the church, you can say it in the shop, or at the fireside, or on the roads. The Sabbath, for example, is a most suitable time to say, “Come,” when the minds of men are less occupied with worldly cares and business; or a time of affliction, when the heart is likely to be somewhat softened.

I. Show how the truth of the text is confirmed and exemplified by other passages in the Word of God (Psalms 66:16; Isaiah 2:3; Zechariah 8:21; John 1:41; John 1:45-46; John 4:29, etc.). It is no new commandment, but one which has been from the beginning, that they who have accepted the invitation of the gospel should straightway invite others to the feast.

II. The motives that should stimulate us to carry out this exhortation.

1. For Christ’s sake we ought to say, Come. How then can we pretend to love Christ if we are habitually neglecting to say, Come? Does it not evince base ingratitude if we are not working for Him who did and suffered so much for us?

2. The condition of Christless souls may well excite our pity, and prompt us to active exertion on their behalf.

3. For our own sake we ought to say, Come. However difficult a duty is, it is never for our interest to neglect it. And think what a noble service this is! It makes us partakers with Christ in His work. Christian activity, like mercy, is twice blessed. In watering others our own souls are also watered. “A traveller was crossing mountain heights alone over almost untrodden snows. Warning had been given him that if slumber pressed down his weary eyelids they would inevitably be sealed in death. For a time he went bravely along his dreary path. But with the deepening shade and freezing blast of night there fell a weight upon his brain and eyes which seemed to be irresistible. In vain he tried to reason with himself; in vain he strained his utmost energies to shake off that fatal heaviness. At this crisis of his fate his foot struck against a heap that lay across his path. No stone was that, although no stone could be colder or more lifeless. He stooped to touch it, and found a human body half buried beneath a fresh drift of snow. The next moment the traveller had taken a brother in his arms, and was chafing his chest, and hands, and brow, breathing upon the stiff, cold lips the warm breath of his living soul, pressing the silent heart to the beating pulses of his own generous bosom. The effort to save another had brought back to himself life, warmth, and energy. He saved his brother and was saved himself. Go thou and do likewise.” Earnest efforts for the salvation of others will save us many a bitter regret.

III. Directions as to how you are “to say, Come.”

1. Humbly. Beware of cherishing high thoughts of yourselves, as if through any merit or efforts of your own you had attained your present position. Beware of despising any to whom you say Come, as if you had all your lives been immensely superior to them.

2. Earnestly. Such awful realities as the soul, sin, Christ, death, judgment, eternity, are not matters to be lightly or coldly spoken of.

3. Believingly and prayerfully. Have confidence in the power of God’s truth when it is accompanied with the demonstration of the Spirit. And, having this faith, let your prayer ascend to God on behalf of your unconverted friends, and on your own behalf, that you may be rightly guided in saying Come to them.

4. Perseveringly. Be not discouraged by even many rebuffs and refusals. Give none up in despair. Remember how long-suffering the Lord was to you, and be you as long-suffering towards others. (J. G. Dalgliesh.)

The duty of missionary enterprise

Let me give you one or two reasons why missions are especially incumbent upon this nation.

1. First, because we owe to them immeasurable benefits. I throw in without estimate all that missions have done for the cause of science, though there is scarcely one single science that does not owe to them an immense advance. I throw in without estimate all they have done to the cause of civilisation, though no less a witness than Charles Darwin said that the lesson of the missionary was the enchanter’s wand. I throw in without estimate all that they have done for the diminution of human misery, the suppression of war, the spread of commerce, the abolition of execrable cruelties. “It is Christ,” says Chunder Sen--and you could have no more unprejudiced witness--“it is Christ, and not the British Government, that rules India.” “Our hearts,” he says, speaking for his countrymen, “our hearts have been conquered, not by armies, not by your gleaming bayonets, and your fiery cannon, but by a higher and different power, and that power is Christ,” and “it is for Jesus,” he adds, “and for Jesus only, that we will give up the precious diadem of India.” Without missions the sagacity of Lawrence and the heroic courage of Havelock would have been in vain.

2. Because to us of this British race God has undoubtedly assigned the whole future of the world. Before a century is over the English-speaking people will be one-third of the whole human race. From this little island have sprung the millions of America, of Australasia, of colonies which are empires on which the sun never sets. Why is it that God has thus enlarged Japhet? Was it for the benefit of brewers and gin distillers? Was it that the coffers of our merchants might burst with their accumulated hoards?

3. Because, if our numbers have increased fivefold, our wealth at the same time has increased sevenfold. For what cause did God pour this river of gold into the coffers of our people? Was it that we should settle on our lees and live in ease on the earth? Or was it rather that we should send forth that great angel who has the everlasting gospel in his hands?

4. Because we have taken with us all over the world a ruinous and a clinging curse, the curse of drink. It is not the only wrong we have done by any means. The diseases we have inflicted have been bad enough, but our drink is worst of all; and as yet the conscience of this nation is as hard as the nether millstone to the fact of our guilt. Let the shameful truth be spoken, that mainly because of drink our footsteps amongst savage races have again and again been footsteps dyed in blood. We have cursed all India with our drink and our drunkenness; and at this moment, after so short an occupation, we are cursing Egypt with it too. We have poured upon these nations the vials of this plague of ours--are we not bound to give them the antidote?

5. I might dwell on many more reasons, above all the truly apostolical succession of heroic personalities inspired by the immediate Spirit of God whom missions have called forth, of men who, even in this nineteenth century, have won the purple crown of martyrdom, and shown us that there may be something higher and more heroic in religion than the quotidian arguing of our religious squabbles and our ceremonial routine. But this only I will add, whenever a cause is noble, and is necessary, and calls for self-denial, it always evokes a mushroom crop of stale epigrams expressing the wit of prudential selfishness and the excuse of closefisted greed. Do not, then, be misled by the plausible devil’s plea that we have too much heathenism at home to trouble ourselves with heathenism abroad. We have heathenism enough at home, God knows, but when long ago a member of the Massachusetts legislature said, “We have not religion enough at home, and cannot afford to send any abroad,” a wiser and sincerer man than he answered, “The religion of Christ is such that the more you send abroad the more you have at home.” (Dean Farrar.)

Babes in grace can say, “Come”

There is your qualification; you have proved the truth of God in your own soul, and so can speak experimentally; you have found Christ; you have drunk the living water, and you can say, “Come.” I wanted a drink one day in a thirsty place in Italy, and by the coachman’s help I asked at a house for water. The owner of the house was busy and did not come to show me where the water could be found; but he sent a girl with me; she was very little, but she was quite big enough, for she led the way to a well, and I was soon refreshed. She had not to make a well, but only to point it out, and therefore her youth was no disadvantage. We have not to invent salvation, but to tell of it; and therefore you who are but babes in grace can perform the work. You have heard the voice of Jesus say, “Stoop down, and drink, and live”: go forth and echo that voice till thousands quench their thirst. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Bring another brother

During the exhibition of 1867 in Paris, a minister met with an instance of direct labour for souls, which he states he can never forget. In conversation with an engineer employed on one of the pleasure-boats which ply on the Seine, the discovery was made that the man was a Christian, and on the inquiry being put, by what means he was converted, he replied: “My mate is a Christian, and continually he told me of the great love of Jesus Christ, and His readiness to save, and he never rested until I was a changed man. For it is a rule in our church that when a brother is converted, he must go and bring another brother; and when a sister is converted, she must go and bring another sister; and so more than a hundred of us have been recovered to the simplicity which is in Christ Jesus.” This is the way in which the gospel is to spread through the whole world. By the silent force of a consistent life, by the prevalence of importunate prayer, by the seasonable testimony of our lips in converse with our fellow-men, let us love to make Jesus known.

Spreading the tidings

An English Presbyterian missionary relates an interesting incident which occurred as he was halting for refreshments under a great tree on the boundaries of the Fukien province. He chanced to overhear a Chinaman speaking with an unusually pleasant and impressive voice, and giving to the bystanders an account of the Christian religion. He did this as if uttering the deepest convictions of his own heart. The missionary afterwards learned that this man had been a patient in one of the hospitals, and though not well he was travelling towards his home, and on his way was preaching the gospel which he had himself heard. How many such cases there may be we do not know, but it is interesting to find that at least some of those who are casually reached are becoming earnest promulgators of the truth they have heard.

Taking good news home

A New Zealand girl, who was brought over to England to be educated, in the course of time became a true Christian. When the time came for her to return to her own country, some of her playmates endeavoured to dissuade her. They said, “Why do you want to go back to New Zealand? You have become accustomed to England. You love its shady lanes and clover-fields. Besides, yon may be shipwrecked on the return voyage. And if you should get back safe your own people may kill you and eat you. Everybody there has forgotten you.” “What,” she said, “do you think that I could keep the Good News to myself? Do you think that I could be content with having got pardon, and peace, and eternal life for myself, and not go and tell my dear father and mother how they may get it too? I would go if I had to swim there!”

And let him that is athirst come.

Christ’s last invitation from the throne

I. Now, first let me suggest the question--to whom Christ from the throne thus calls? The persons addressed are designated by two descriptions: they that are “athirst,” and those that “will.” In one aspect of the former designation it is universal; in another aspect it is by no means so. There are many men that thirst; and, strange as it seems, will not to be satisfied. The first qualification is need, and the sense of need. These two things, alas! do not go together. There is s universal need stamped upon men, by the very make of their spirits, which declares that they must have something or some one external to themselves, on whom they can rest, and from whom they can be satisfied. The heart yearns for another’s love; the mind is restless till it grasps reality and truth. No man is at rest unless he is living in conscious amity with, and in possession of, the Father’s heart and the Father’s strength. But half of you do not know what ails you. You recognise the gnawing discontent. There is such a thing as misinterpreting the cry of the Spirit, and that misinterpretation is the crime and the misery of millions of men. That they shall stifle their true need under a pile of worldly things, that they shall direct their longings to what can never satisfy them, is indeed the state and the misery of many of us. Perverted tastes are by no means confined to certain forms of disease of the body. There is the same perversion of taste in regard of higher things. You and I are made to feed upon God, and we feed upon ourselves, and one another, and the world, and all the trash, in comparison to our immortal desires and capacities, which we find around us. Do you interpret aright the immortal thirst of your soul? Now, I daresay there are many of my hearers who are not aware of this thirst of the soul. No I you have crushed it out, and for a time you are quite satisfied with worldly success, or with the various objects on which you have set your hearts. It will not last! So far as the sense of need goes this text may not appeal to you. So far as the reality of the need goes it certainly does. Then, look at the other designation of the persons to whom Christ’s merciful summons comes: “Whosoever will let him take.” There is nothing sadder, there is nothing more certain, than that we poor little creatures can assert our will in the presence of the Divine lovingkindness, and can thwart, so far as we are concerned, the counsel of God against ourselves. “How often would I have gathered,” etc. I do not enter now upon the various reasons or excuses which men offer for this disinclination to accept the Divine mercy, but I do venture to say that unwillingness to be saved upon Christ’s conditions underlies a vast deal--not all, but a vast deal--of the supposed intellectual difficulties of men in regard to the gospel. The will bribes the understanding in a great many regions. But for the most of you who stand apart from Jesus Christ this is the truth, that your attitude is a merely negative one. It is not that you will not to have Him but that you do not will to have Him. You know the old proverb: One man can take a horse to the water, ten cannot make him drink. We can bring you to the water, or the water to you, but neither Christ nor His servants can put the refreshing, life-giving liquid into your mouth if you lock your lips so tight that a bristle could not go in between them. Wishing is one thing; willing is quite another. Wishing to be delivered from the gnawing restlessness of a hungry heart, and to be satisfied, is one thing; willing to accept the satisfaction which Christ gives on the terms which Christ lays down is, alas! quite another.

II. That brings me, secondly, to say a word about what Christ from heaven thus offers to us all. The water of life is not merely living water, in the sense that it flashes and sparkles and flows; but it is water which communicates life. “Life” here is to be taken in that deep, pregnant, comprehensive sense in which the Apostle John uses it in all his writings. The first thought that emerges from this “water of life,” considered as being the sum of all that Christ communicates to humanity is--then, where it does not run or is not received, there is death. Ah, the true death is separation from God, and the true separation from God is not brought about because He is in heaven, and we are upon earth; or because He is infinite and incomprehensible, and we are poor creatures of an hour, but because we depart from Him in heart and mind, and, as another apostle says, are dead in trespasses and sins. Death in life, a living death, is far more dreadful than when the poor body is laid quiet upon the bed, and the spirit has left the pale cheeks. And that death is upon us, unless it has been banished from us by a draught of the water of life. But, then, besides all these thoughts, there come others, on which I need not dwell, that in that great emblem of the water that gives life is included the satisfaction of all desires, meeting and over-answering all expectations, filling up every empty place in the heart, in the hopes, in the whole inward nature of man, and lavishing upon him all the blessings which go to make up true gladness, true nobleness, and dignity. Nor does the eternal life cease when physical death comes. The river--if I might somewhat modify the figure with which I am dealing, and regard the man himself in his Christian experience as the river--flows through a narrow, dark gorge, like one of the canons on American streams, and down to its profoundest depths no sunlight can travel.

III. Lastly, what Christ from heaven calls us to do. “He that is athirst let him come; and whosoever will let him take!” The two things, coming and taking, as it seems to me, cover substantially the same ground. So let us put away the metaphors of “coming” and “taking” and lay hold of the Christ-given interpretation of them, and say the one thing that Christ asks me to do is to trust my poor, sinful self wholly and confidently and constantly and obediently to Him. That is all. Ah! All! And that is just where the pinch comes. “My father! my father!” remonstrated Naaman’s servants, when he was in a towering passion because he was told to go wash in the Jordan; “if the prophet had bidden thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then when he saith to thee, wash and be clean.” I do believe that great multitudes of people would rather, like the Hindoos, stick hooks in the muscles of their backs, and swing at the end of a rope if that would get heaven for them, than simply be content to come in forma pauperis, and owe everything to Christ’s grace, and nothing to their own works. “Let him take.” Well, that being translated, too, is but the exercise of lowly trust in Him. Faith is the hand that, being put out, grasps this great gift. You must make the universal blessing your own. Are you athirst? I know you are. Do you know it? Are you willing to take Christ’s salvation on Christ’s terms, and to live by faith in Him, communion with, and obedience to Him? If you are, then earth may yield or deny you its waters, but you will not be dependent on them. When all the land is parched and baked, and every surface well run dry, you will have a spring that fails not, and the water that Christ “will give you will be in you a fountain of water leaping up into everlasting life.” (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.--

Whosoever will

The Bible invitation turns on the human will. It invites every man that chooses, but there it stops. The Bible rests on the assumption that every man, if he enters into life, must enter into it by his own free choice. Jesus Christ comes with invitations, but they are only invitations. He opens the door, but He allows men to come in or stay out, as they choose. He offers help, but He only offers it. If salvation were what a great many people even in our day seem to imagine it to be, God might give it to men whether they wanted it or not. If it were getting into a beautiful city, with domes and palaces and pearly gates and golden streets, God could take the man and put him there and lock the gates and shut him in. If it were getting into a certain outward circumstance, God could put a man there whether he chose or not. Virtue is the free choice of the will. There is, therefore, no way by which God Almighty can make a man virtuous against his will. Is not God omnipotent? What do you mean by omnipotence? Do you mean, Cannot God make a man virtuous whether he wills to be virtuous or not? No! because virtuous is willing to be virtuous. That is virtue. If God could make a man virtuous despite himself, he would not be virtuous when he was made. Virtue is the free choice of righteousness, and the free revolt from that which is unrighteous. God can confer a certain measure of happiness; God can surround a man with certain conditions that will help him to virtue; God can bring influences about him that will take him away from vice; but in the last analysis every man must choose for himself what shall be his life, because life is choice and choice is life. Have you a wish, a purpose to be a nobler, a truer man? Then there is help for you. If not, then there is nothing to do except to wait until you do have such a purpose. Let me take this simple proposition to classify men, measuring them by this one simple standard, First, then, in the moral scale, is the Pharisee. He may be in the Church, he may be outside the Church; for the Pharisee is a man who is contented with himself. He has no moral ideals; he has no dissatisfaction with the past; he has no aspiration for a nobler future; he lives from hand to mouth; he lives from day to day. If he has any question to ask of the Christian, the question is, “How will it help me? If I am a Christian man, will God help me in my business? If I am a Christian man, shall I get more honour, more pleasure, more satisfaction out of life?” Above this Pharisee is the man who has some dissatisfaction for the past and some aspiration for the future, and does want to be a better man. Perhaps some minister has touched some chord in his heart, and his soul has responded. Perhaps some sudden sin has shaken him out of his self-satisfaction. Perhaps he has broken down just where he thought he was strong, yielded to some sudden temptation, and found he was weak when he did not know that he was weak. In some such way he has come into a dissatisfaction with himself and a desire for something better and nobler. The man who has been in the gutter and is ashamed of the smell of the gutter, the man who has any desire toward a better life or any hate of the life that is past, goes into the kingdom of God before the man who is satisfied with himself. But aspiration is not enough; dreaming is not doing, dreaming is not even wishing. The man has dreamed something better, the man has had some dissatisfaction with his past; and now out of this dissatisfaction and out of this dream there comes a wish. He wishes to be a better man; perhaps he even prays to be a better man; perhaps he even goes to a minister or friend and says, “What can I do to be a better man?” The life that now is awakened in him is more than an aspiration; it is a definite desire. But desiring is not enough. “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.” Aye, if he will. If he is dissatisfied with the past, if he is desirous of something better in the future, and so desirous that he chooses it, and chooses it now, the doors are open to him. (L. Abbott, D. D.)

The last invitation in the Bible

I. The greatness of the blessing offered.

II. The simplicity of the terms on which the offer is made. We have but to come and take. We are at a distance naturally, and alienated by wicked works; therefore we must turn and “come.”

III. The character of those to whom the blessing is offered.

IV. The unanimity of those who offer the blessing. There are four voices; and none of them are discordant, or “without significance.” Four witnesses to the greatness and freeness of the gospel; four who call us away to the Water of Life. (Alex. Warrack.)

The gospel invitation

I. The blessings offered. These are represented to us under the image of “water.”

1. Water is an element absolutely necessary, in the present constitution of things, to the preservation and continuance of life.

2. Water is an element productive of purity.

3. Water is an element which refreshes the weary, and invigorates the weak.

II. The persons to whom these blessings are offered.

III. The terms upon which these blessings are offered. Why are they free?

1. One reason is, that they are above all price, and though they had been much less worth than they are, we had nothing to give. We must have them freely or not at all. The best of God’s temporal gifts are free, the air that we breathe is free, the light of heaven is free, the sun descends upon the just and the unjust.

2. But, again, these blessings are offered freely to us, because the price of them has already been paid by another. (James Clason.)

The last message of God to men

I. “The spirit saith come, and take the water of life freely.” To the Holy Spirit in an especial manner, are to be ascribed, from first to last, the conversion, the regeneration, the sanctification, and the ultimate salvation, of every sinner. But even if you do not belong to the number of those to whom the invitation of the text has been brought home with saving power, yet it is no less certain that the Spirit of God is in many different ways still addressing you with the invitation to come and take of the water of life freely. You cannot deny that, in the course of Divine Providence, you have had the Bible, which the Spirit dictated concerning Christ, put into your hands in a language which you could both read and understand; that you have been familiar, even from your youth up, with the great truths which it proclaims of your own lost condition by nature, and of the method of recovery through a Saviour; and that these truths have been pressed home upon your attention so often and in so many ways as to leave you without excuse, if still careless or unmindful of them. Nay, is it not possible for you to recollect certain seasons in your past history, when Divine things were more peculiarly brought home to your hearts; a season of affliction perhaps, when you were clearly taught the unsatisfactory nature of present enjoyments; a season of personal danger or family bereavement, when the thought of death and eternity overawed your soul; a season of conviction, when such views of your own character as sinners, and such impressions of your own danger as rebels before God, were awakened, as almost forced you to cry out in terror, What must I do to be saved? You must be constrained to admit that every such event was sent by Him for the purposes of your spiritual awakening and conversion. They were so many distinct demands upon you on His part to consider your ways, and to repent and be saved.

II. “the bride saith, come, and take the water of life freely.” If we view the Church generally, as a community of believers separated from the world around them by the possession of the peculiar faith and privileges and hopes of Christ, or if we view the Church more especially in reference to the office-bearers whom Christ has appointed, and the ordinances He has established in the midst of it; in either case it must be apparent that one of its grand purposes is to hold forth a witness in behalf of the gospel among men, and to make provision for the pressing of its invitations and its claims upon all. The very fact of the continued existence for eighteen hundred years of a visible community of saints, divided from the rest of mankind, and united together by the belief and practice of the gospel, notwithstanding of the enmity and persecution of a hostile world, is the strongest of all historical testimonies to the Divine and saving power of that faith which they profess. Every saint within that Church has been a witness on behalf of the truth to the men of the age and the place where he lived. His faith, his hope, his holy life, his triumphant death, have each been a testimony to others that was neither silent nor unseen. And when we consider the provision that has been made in the ordinance of a stated ministry, and of the administration of the sacraments, for the preservation and furtherance of the gospel in the world, we cannot fail to perceive the force and propriety of the statement of the text, that “the Bride,” or the Church, joins with the Spirit of God in the invitation to sinners to take of the water of life freely.

III. “let him that heareth say, come, and take of the water of life freely.” There is no man, of whatever character, that either lives or dies for himself alone (Romans 14:7); he must be the means of spreading either a salutary or a pernicious influence around him. If a man is still under the bondage of sin, and cherishes in his bosom a principle of ungodliness, he will become the centre, so far as his influence extends, whence moral evil is diffused about him. If, on the contrary, he has been himself converted, and regenerated, his life and character will bear testimony to the truths which he has believed; and he must, from the very nature of the thing, become a witness for God and the gospel in the sight of all with whom he associates. And how much more will this be the case, when the Christian sees in the common ruin in which all men are by nature involved, the equal necessity which all have for some method of recovery and salvation; and when he recognises in the gospel, which he himself has believed, a provision made for reaching the case and ministering to the wants of all. Having tasted of the waters of salvation himself, he will be anxious to unseal the living fountain to his fellowmen. And even did he bear no testimony to the Saviour, but that which his faith and holiness and heavenly peace and joy afforded, yet these alone would speak in a language which could not be misunderstood, and would proclaim to all the grace and blessedness of the gospel. It is thus that not only the Church in its collective character, but every individual believer that is gathered within its pale, becomes a missionary of the faith to press its claims and its importance upon the attention and the consciences of his fellowmen; and while the Spirit is striving with the hearts of sinners in secret, and the Bride is openly proclaiming the tidings of salvation to all, the man whose ears have been opened to hear and receive the truth, will find in that fact both the warrant and the will to join in the united invitation to others to “come, and take of the waters of life freely.”

IV. “let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The expression, “whosoever will,” is evidently applicable to the case of every human being without exception; and is plainly demonstrative of the freeness with which the gospel invitation is addressed to all, without reference to character, or circumstance, or condition. The expression, “he that is athirst,” is no less universally applicable to all mankind, inasmuch as it is descriptive of the condition of every human being who is not in possession of happiness up to the full measure of his desires, and who still longs after the experience of a peace and blessedness which may be permanent and satisfying. Every son of man who feels in his heart one unsatisfied desire, one disappointed hope, one bereaved affection, one yearning after happiness which he does not yet enjoy; in short, any human being that knows the existence of human feeling within his bosom, comes under the description of “he that is athirst.” The two expressions, then, are virtually the same; they embrace essentially the same description of persons; and they prove that the invitation of the text is not confined to any particular class or character of individuals, but is equally and unreservedly addressed to all. Have you never felt the hopelessness of those efforts by which you have sought to work out a justifying righteousness for yourselves, and earn, as it were your own acceptance with God? Then unto you is this salvation offered, freely and without price. (James Bannerman, D. D.)

The will

I. What is a will? It is that faculty of the soul which is governed by the understanding, but which is itself the governor of the actions.

II. What can the will of the natural man perform? Anything consistent with the strength of body and mind which the person may possess; for instance, a man may have a will to walk forty miles in a day, and yet his strength may only be sufficient for half that distance; he may have a will to be a great scholar, and his mind be incapable of containing what he desires to know--it may perform any external act, may cause him to take medicine, but cannot insure health; may make him a good husband, attend to all relative duties, and even external acts of religion, but nothing whatever of a spiritual nature.

III. How do any possess the will mentioned in my text? Not by compulsion--the will cannot be forced, for then it would cease to be a will; but by being changed by the supernatural power and agency of the Holy Ghost, as the terms conversion and regeneration used to mark this change plainly prove. (A. Hewlett, M. A.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Revelation 22:17". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the Spirit and the bride say, come,.... Hearing Christ say that he should come quickly, Revelation 22:7 the Spirit and the bride express an earnest wish, and a most affectionate desire after his coming: by "the Spirit" may be meant the Spirit of God in the hearts of his people, who not only convinces them of, and acquaints with the coming of Christ to judgment, and gives them reason to expect it, but fills their souls with the love of his appearance, so that they look and long for it, and hasten in the breathings of their souls after it: and this in like manner he may be said to wish for, and desire it in them, as he is said to cry "Abba", Father, in them, Galatians 4:6 and to make intercession for them, Romans 8:26. Hence, some interpreters, by the spirit, understand such as have the Spirit, and are spiritual men; either have spiritual gifts, the gift of prophecy, as John, who in Revelation 22:20 expresses an ardent desire that Christ would come quickly; or regenerate men in common, who are born of the Spirit, and bear his name, John 3:5 and so by an hendyadis, "the Spirit and the bride" signify one and the same; namely, the spiritual bride of Christ, who is sanctified by the Spirit of God; even all the elect of God, whom Christ loved from all eternity, and who are espoused to him as a chaste virgin; the new Jerusalem, who is as a bride adorned for her husband, and is the bride, the Lamb's wife: these wait for the bridegroom's coming, and most earnestly desire it, as there is good reason for them so to do, since his appearing in itself will be a glorious one, being in his own glory, and his Father's, and the holy angels; and seeing then will be the solemnization of the marriage day between Christ and his church; it will be the saints' redemption day; they will then possess full salvation in soul and body; complete grace will be given to them, and glory will be revealed in them, and they shall be for ever with the Lord.

And let him that heareth; what the Spirit and the bride say; or the words of this prophecy; or that has spiritual ears given him, and he hears so as to understand spiritual things, the kingdom of Christ, and the glories of it, let him join the Spirit and bride, and

say, come likewise; or express his wishes and desires in the same earnest and affectionate manner, that Christ would hasten his second coming:

and let him that is athirst come. These seem to be the words of Christ inviting such who thirst after him, his grace and righteousness, after more knowledge of him, and communion with him, to come unto him, by faith, and partake thereof, John 7:37 or who thirst after his second coming, and the glories and delights of the new Jerusalem state, to come into it, and eat of the tree of life, and drink of the river of water of life in it; for the character seems to design such, to speak in the language of the Jews, who use like phrases with this, who hunger, וצמאים לשתות מים חיים, "and thirst to drink living water"F13Raziel, fol. 31. 2. , as appears by what follows:

and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. The water of life designs the free favour and love of God, and the communications and displays of it in the new Jerusalem state, even the comfort, refreshment, and glories of that state: to "take" it is to enjoy it, to partake of it, being led unto it, and that being given to them by Christ the Lamb in the midst of the throne, Revelation 7:17 and which is had "freely", without money, and without price, as in Isaiah 55:1 which seems to be referred to; for the happiness of this state, as well as eternal life, is the free gift of God through Christ; and the persons encouraged to partake of it are "whosoever will"; that is, whoever has a will to divine and spiritual things, wrought in him by God, for no man has such a will of himself, Philippians 2:13 though this does not so much regard the character of the person that may take of the water of life, as the free manner in which he may take it: so the Jews are wont to express themselves, when they would signify the liberty that might be used, or the free way in which anything might be taken, particularly when speaking of the law, and the things of it, חרוצה ליטול יבא ויטול כל, "whosoever has a mind to take, let him come and take", as it is said, Isaiah 55:1 "ho, everyone that thirsteth", &c.F14Abot R. Nathan, c. 4l. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 79. 4. & 82. 4. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 54. 3. & 100. 2. that is, he is free to take, he is welcome to it; which passage referred to, is thus paraphrased by the Targumist, "ho, כל דצבי, "whosoever "will" learn, let him come and learn, &c.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Reply of the spiritual Church and John to Christ‘s words (Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:16).

the Spirit — in the churches and in the prophets.

the bride — not here called “wife,” as that title applies to her only when the full number constituting the Church shall have been completed. The invitation, “Come,” only holds good while the Church is still but an affianced Bride, and not the actually wedded wife. However, “Come” may rather be the prayer of the Spirit in the Church and in believers in reply to Christ‘s “I come quickly,” crying, Even so, “Come” (Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12); Revelation 22:20 confirms this view. The whole question of your salvation hinges on this, that you be able to hear with joy Christ‘s announcement, “I come,” and to reply, “Come” [Bengel]. Come to fully glorify Thy Bride.

let him that heareth — that is, let him that heareth the Spirit and Bride saying to the Lord Jesus, “Come,” join the Bride as a true believer, become part of her, and so say with her to Jesus, “Come.” On “heareth” means “obeyeth”; for until one has obeyed the Gospel call, he cannot pray to Jesus “Come”; so “hear” is used, Revelation 1:3; John 10:16. Let him that hears and obeys Jesus‘ voice (Revelation 22:16; Revelation 1:3) join in praying “Come.” Compare Revelation 6:1, Revelation 6:10; see on Revelation 6:1. In the other view, which makes “Come” an invitation to sinners, this clause urges those who themselves hear savingly the invitation to address the same to others, as did Andrew and Philip after they themselves had heard and obeyed Jesus‘ invitation, “Come.”

let him that is athirst come — As the Bride, the Church, prays to Jesus, “Come,” so she urges all whosoever thirst for participation in the full manifestation of redemption-glory at His coming to us, to COME in the meantime and drink of the living waters, which are the earnest of “the water of life pure as crystal  …  out of the throne of God of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1) in the regenerated heaven and earth.

And — so Syriac. But A, B, Vulgate, and Coptic omit “and.”

whosoever will — that is, is willing and desirous. There is a descending climax; Let him that heareth effectually and savingly Christ‘s voice, pray individually, as the Bride, the Church, does collectively, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Let him who, though not yet having actually heard unto salvation, and so not yet 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 positive thirsting, let him take the water of life freely, that is, gratuitously.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

The Spirit and the bride (το πνευμα και η νυμπηto pneuma kai hē numphē). The Holy Spirit, speaking through the prophets or the Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 16:4; Revelation 18:24), joins with the bride (Revelation 21:2), the people of God, in a response to the voice of Jesus just heard. After the picture of heaven in Revelation 22:1-5 there is intense longing (Revelation 19:7) of God‘s people for the consummation of the marriage of the Lamb and the Bride. So now “the prophets and the saints” (Swete) make a common plea to the Lord Jesus to “come” (ΕρχουErchou present middle imperative of ερχομαιerchomai Come on) as he has just said twice that he would do (Revelation 22:1, Revelation 22:12). The call for Christ is to be repeated by every hearer (ο ακουωνho akouōn) as in Revelation 1:3.

Let him come (ερχεστωerchesthō). Change of person and this verb applied not to Christ as just before, but to the one who wishes to greet Christ. The thirsty man is bidden to come himself before it is too late. See Revelation 5:6 for διπσαωdipsaō used for spiritual thirst, and in particular John 6:35; John 7:37 for one thirsting for the water of life (Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:1). Cf. Isaiah 55:1.

He that will (ο τελωνho thelōn). Even if not yet eagerly thirsting. This one is welcome also. For this use of τελωthelō see Philippians 2:13.

Let him take (λαβετωlabetō). Second ingressive aorist active imperative of λαμβανωlambanō In accordance with the free promise in Revelation 21:6, “freely” (δωρεανdōrean) here as there. This gracious and wide invitation is cheering after the gloomy picture of the doomed and the damned. The warnings against the dragon and the two beasts with all their dreadful consequences are meant to deter men from falling victims to all the devil‘s devices then and now. The door of mercy still stands wide open today, for the end has not yet come. The series of panoramas is over, with the consummation pictured as a reality. Now we drop back to the standpoint before we saw the visions through John‘s eyes. In Revelation 22:17 we hear the voice of the Spirit of God inviting all who hear and see to heed and to come and drink of the water of life freely offered by the Lamb of God.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

The Spirit

In the Church.

The Bride

The Church.


The voice of the Spirit and the Bride.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

The Spirit and the bride — The Spirit of adoption in the bride, in the heart of every true believer.

Say — With earnest desire and expectation.

Come — And accomplish all the words of this prophecy.

And let him that thirsteth, come — Here they also who are farther off are invited.

And whosoever will, let him take the water of life — He may partake of my spiritual and unspeakable blessings, as freely as he makes use of the most common refreshments; as freely as he drinks of the running stream.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

The bride; the church.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.’

Revelation 22:17

This is an invitation in the picturesque language of the writer of the Book of the Revelation to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

‘The Spirit and the Bride.’ The Spirit of God and the Church of God.

I. Why are these two mighty spiritual forces so closely joined together?—They are mutually dependent one on the other. The Spirit could not be manifested apart from the Church. The Church could not exist without the Spirit.

II. The Spirit speaks through the Church.—It is the living organism through which Christ manifests Himself to the world. And by the Church we do not mean the clergy only; we mean every faithful and consistent Christian. Each one is an evangelist inviting outsiders to come into the banqueting-house, when the banner over them will be love, to feast upon the blessings of salvation.

—Rev. C. Rhodes Hall.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 17. And the Spirit and the Bride] i.e. The Bride sanctified and set to work by the Spirit, Romans 8:26.

And let him that heareth say, Come] Abrupt sentences, full of holy affection; q.d. Let him pray daily, Thy kingdom come.

" Heu pietas ubi prisca! profana o tempera! mundi

Faex! vesper! prope nox! o mora! Christe veni."

Mr Burroughs’s last words were, I come, I come, I come! and so he gave up the ghost.

And let him that is athirst, come] q.d. If you think me long in coming, come to me in mine ordinances; there "I will stay you with apples, comfort you with flagons," Song of Solomon 2:5.

The water of life freely] {See Trapp on "Revelation 21:6"}

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 22:17

The Will.

I. We must believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. We see it in nature. With whom took He counsel in creation? It was at His sovereign will the Himalayas raised their heads; it was at His sovereign will the depths of the ocean were dug deep. We see it in providence. He gives or withholds the rain; causes one child to be born in a palace and another in a hovel. Nor has He abdicated His sovereignty in the sphere of grace. His purposes stand fast; His will must be done. But I believe also that man is a moral agent, endowed with the instinct of will, not a mere puppet in the hand of fate. We are not Mahometans, and we do not believe in a Kismet from which there is no escape. We acknowledge the harmony that must exist between the sovereignty of God and the will of man in nature, as, for example, in the case of the farmer. We know he may plough in vain and sow in vain unless God grants the rain and the sunshine, that the harvest is absolutely in God's hands; but we also know that if the farmer therefore folds his hands and neither ploughs nor sows, his barns will be empty in the harvest-time. These two things are quite compatible: the Divine sovereignty and the free agency of man; and herein consists the glory of God. He performs His purposes not by mere machines, but by living moral agents, who have this power of will. We all acknowledge that the power of the statesman, who moulds the will of the people, is of a higher order than the power of the blacksmith, who moulds a dead, resistless piece of iron to his purpose. So God carries out His own will, though liable to be crossed at every turn by the will of man.

II. (1) The will of man is conditioned by his creation. God's will as Creator is absolute. Man's individuality, the basis of his character and of his faculties, is given to him by his Creator; and no human being can attain a higher degree of perfection than has been planned for him in the possibilities of existence. (2) His will is conditioned, not only by creation, but by heredity. It was by this law of heredity that Adam's sin was transmitted to the generations yet unborn, and rendered it harder for every son of man to refuse the evil and choose the good. (3) The will of man is conditioned also by his surroundings.

III. Two things were put before man between which he was to choose: a life in God and a life in the world independent of God. And there were implanted within him two impulses: one towards the world, which sought only for happiness, to appropriate as much as possible to one's self; the other towards God, which sought rather for blessedness, and which found its centre not in self or in the world, but in God. Man chose the worldly impulse, which led to a life centred either in the world or in self, and now the things which should have been for our wealth have become to us an occasion of falling. It is the Spirit of God who strengthens the impulses towards holiness, towards God. Yield to them, and they will become stronger and stronger; resist them, and you will become stronger towards evil, until you become Gospel-hardened, and the grieved, rejected Spirit of God leaves you to the doom which your own will has chosen.

E. A. Stuart, Children of God, p. 159.

Man Unwilling to be Saved.

The free, unlimited offer of the Gospel necessarily involves a provision for all human wants, a removal of all external obstacles, a provision of unlimited value and unrestricted sufficiency, a provision within the reach of every one to whom it is presented, and who is charged with its acceptance upon the peril of eternal death. For ourselves, we cannot see how we can separate such an offer from man's responsibility as to the result. The two doctrines must stand or fall together. If it is true that whosoever will may take of the water of life freely, it must be true that if man partakes not, it is because he will not.

I. The difficulties of religion are not found in its obscurities; the insuperable obstacles to obedience are not found in any outward circumstances. A child has understood the Gospel so as to embrace it, and men have walked with God in the midst of abounding sensuality and crime. But those difficulties are found in the spirituality of the Gospel, in the holiness of its principles, and the self-denying nature of its duties; the child of sense will not govern himself by faith, the being of earthliness will not submit to spiritual influences, and the slave of appetite will not put a curb upon his passions. Did men but love the truth as they love error, love holiness as they love sin, regard the glory of God as they do their selfish gratifications, the obstacles to religion would vanish, and the path of life would be as plain and easy to travel as is now the path into which their desires lead them.

II. This doctrine of man's responsibility for his own salvation is not only uncontradicted by, but is in perfect keeping with, the entire strain of the inspired record. Men take refuge in God's election only that they may garnish and persevere in their own election, and every man ought to know better, and does know better, than to say, "If I am not elected, I cannot be saved."

E. Mason, A Pastor's Legacy, p. 294.

Two voices are distinguished by St. John in his trance as going forth into the world with invitation and appeal, not one, but two, an outward and an inward: those of the Spirit and the bride. There are two things, the within and the without; even when an idea is communicated from one to another, there are the idea of the communicator and the idea of the recipient.

I. So it is always that the Spirit becomes audible and impressive and receives power, namely, through a form. A bride has to be found for it to make it vocal and to enable it to speak movingly. One cannot help thinking at times of the amount of latent power that sleeps around us in sensations and emotions as well as in visions and ideas which are never expressed, of the possible effects if that which some silent or stuttering souls are seeing and feeling could be adequately articulated, of the untold life stories, of the untold heart experiences, as well as brain dreams, the true and perfect telling of which would thrill us deeply. We are constantly missing much that would rouse, or pierce, or melt, because, forsooth, the Spirit lacks the bride.

II. But consider again. Here are certain beautiful ideas, such as ideas of truth, fidelity, generosity, heroism, love, self-sacrifice and devotion. We can revolve and brood on these, but what is it that makes them flash and burn, and causes us to be penetrated with them? Is it not their embodiment in some witnessed or reported deed, in some human life and character? The cross, at all events, has been of great importance in lifting the transcendent Jesus into view, in aiding His transcendent spirit to attract and captivate. His tragic and pathetic end has been the bride through which the voice of His incomparable work and sweetness has been heard and has prevailed. What the Spirit wants always, in order that it may be present among us, is just a Man; the power of Christianity is the Man Jesus Christ.

S. A. Tipple, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii., p. 328.

What is required of those who come to the Lord's Supper?

When a man considers with himself whether he ought to present himself at the Lord's Table, frequently he is beset with a host of difficulties and questions as to what is required of him and as to his own fitness. Where shall he go for safe guidance? I reply that he need go no further than the catechism which he learnt as a child.

I. It is required of those who come to the Lord's Supper "to examine themselves whether they repent them truly of their former sins, steadfastly purposing to lead a new life." Beyond all doubt this must be required, and it is a most reasonable requirement, for, to take no higher view of the Sacrament than this, we may regard it as a mutual pledge given by Christians to each other that they will keep the commands of Christ. The requisites for coming to the Lord's Table are identically the same with the requisites for being a Christian in life and reality, and not only in name.

II. It is required that those who come to the Lord's Supper should "have a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of His death." This is clearly only that duty which is required of every one who desires to call himself without profanity and without hypocrisy by the holy name of Christ.

III. Those who come to the Lord's Supper must "be in charity with all men." Quite a reasonable requirement this, if we remember that the Lord's Supper was regarded from the earliest times as a feast of love or charity. In confessing that he is unfit for the Lord's Supper, a man is really confessing that he is unworthy to be called a Christian at all.

Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, vol. ii., p. 132.

The Drawings of the Spirit.

I. At the time when St. John wrote, the Church had just passed into the dispensation of the Spirit. The Old Testament was evidently the dispensation of the Father, looking on to the Son. Then came the revelation—I do not call it the dispensation—the revelation of the Son, short, eloquent, beautiful, preparing the way for the dispensation of the Spirit. That dispensation commenced at the ascension of Christ, when, according to His promise, He poured out the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. From that date it has been emphatically the era of the Spirit, the era of the dispensation under which we are now placed. How much longer it will last we do not know. But then will come in all its fulness the dispensation of Jesus Christ, that glorious and wonderful period to which all prophecy points its finger, and to which the dispensation of the Spirit now is preparatory. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." And you must remember that the dispensation of the Spirit is higher, more powerful, more responsible, than the dispensation of the Gospel during the life of Christ upon earth. Therefore Christ said to His disciples, "The works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works than these shall ye do, because I go unto My Father." Even so it came to pass; for whereas Christ did not certainly in His own person convert more than five hundred, the Spirit scarcely arrived but in one single day He converted three thousand. And for the same reason Christ also added those otherwise strange and almost incomprehensible words, "It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you," showing again that the dispensation of the Spirit was greater than Christ's own personal ministry in His humiliation. So once more, and still stronger, He said, "Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Therefore we may reverently say that up to this moment what the Spirit says and what the Spirit does, whatever it be, is the best of anything that has ever yet been upon the face of this earth. Hence it is matter of the deepest joy, and worthy to stand where it does, at the very close and summit of the revelation, that what the Holy Ghost says is "Come."

II. The Father sends many a gracious providence, some sad, some happy; but it is the Spirit who gives the providence its voice. The Son exhibits the marvellous spectacle of the cross, and Himself hanging thereon; but it is the Spirit which makes that cross to speak to the poor sinner's heart: "Come." For the Spirit is that which first makes an unseen thing a substance to the mind, and then changes the substance from a thing without to a reality which lives in a man's soul and mingles with his being. It is quite certain that very generally it is the bride which is the organ of the Spirit's voice. I suppose that there have been instances in which a man has been converted to God by the Bible and the Spirit within him without the operation of any human agency whatever. Doubtless God may do so, and I think I have read or heard of some such proofs of God's sovereignty and sufficiency; but they are to the last degree rare. It is the bride who is essentially the Spirit's organ, that gives effect to the Spirit's will: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come."

III. And who is "the bride"? A beautiful body, knit together in one holy fellowship, pure and spotless, spotless in God's eyes for His sake who loves her, "arrayed in the fine linen which is the righteousness of the saints," and decked with the ornaments of grace. She has accepted Christ for her Beloved, and is bound to Him in a perpetual covenant, never to be forgotten. In Him she has merged her name, her nature, her property, her being; while He pays all her debts, pledges Himself for all her wants, sustains her with His arm, satisfies her with His love. It is the Church, elected by grace, united by faith, sealed by baptism, kept by mercy, prepared for glory. And it is the Church, holding the Spirit, representing the Spirit, used by the Spirit, whose high part and privilege it is to be for ever crying, "Come, come." It is very difficult to determine whether when Christ said, as He stood on the margin of His glory, leaving it as His last injunction to His disciples, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," the command was limited to the ordained. The sequel, "baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," would lead us to say that it was confined to the ordained; but, on the other hand, the whole tone and spirit, as well as many express injunctions of the Gospel, make it certain that every one who is called is to be a caller, that we are all propagators of the truth, and that as "every man would receive the gift, so must he minister the same, as a good steward of the manifold grace of God." Therefore in some sense it is certain that the direction holds to the whole Church, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." Sad were it for that person, whoever he might be, who was excluded from that highest and holiest title that is ever worn upon this earth, a missionary. But there appears to me to be a great truth in this fact: that it is the whole Church which is represented as saying that word "Come," the Church in its collective capacity, not as broken up into individuals. It is not this or that person, but the whole bride, that says, "Come." See two consequences. (1) The Church is meant to act, and ought to act, in missionary work, as a Church in its integrity, as one complete body. Would that there were such union, the whole Church going forth as a Church to the work of missions, and doing it as a distinct part of her system! There is not; there is none. If ever there is a pure Church, and if missions are needed then, doubtless we shall then work together as one in our completeness. As the bride is one, so will the Spirit be one, and the machinery one, and the voice one. And it will be a sweet and heavenly concord of sound, like music upon water: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." (2) But there is another and pleasant thought in the words. Is not the act or the word, the prayer or the appeal, every effort to do good, of one member of the Church, the exponent and the representative, and therefore the embodiment, of the whole Church? Is it not the Church's way of putting itself forth to you? And therefore is not that action of one individual as if it were the action of the whole Church? Has not it in it the strength of the whole Church? It may be a comfort to some one who is labouring for God, in much-felt weakness and in barren solitude, to recollect, "I am part of the whole Church catholic; it is the Church that speaks and moves even in me, poor, miserable sinner that I am. There is all the power of the Church, the Head and the members, with me. It is not I, but it. The limb may well take strength from its union with the body, and the wave that breaks upon the shore has behind it the strength of the mighty ocean. And so it shall be the Church's voice by me: 'The Spirit and the bride say, Come.'"

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 9th series, p. 212.

References: Revelation 22:17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 279; vol. viii., No. 442; vol. xxiii., No. 1331; vol. xxvii., No. 1608; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 165; Talmage, Old Wells Dug Out, p. 332; Ibid., Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 270; Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 329. Revelation 22:20.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 79. Revelation 22:21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii., No. 1618.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. The persons mentioned, The Spirit and the bride; by the Spirit understand the Holy Ghost, and by the bride the whole Catholic church in general, both in heaven and earth, and every true believer in particular. Behold how the Spirit speaks in the bride, and how the bride speaks from and by the Spirit. Christ by his Spirit is present with her, by his influence he is assistant to her.

Observe, 2. The title here given to the church, she is called Christ's bride, and he elsewhere called her bridegroom; now this title of a bride given to her, is,

1. A title of eminency and excellency, and stands in opposition to adultery: she is a bride, not a whore; the false church is not a bride, but the whore, and so often called: she desires not Christ's coming, no more than an adulteress desires the return of her husband; but the bride, being a chaste virgin, longs for it.

2. As the word bride is a word of excellency, as it stands in a distinction from matrimony and complete marriage; it is the bride, not a married wife. The saints are contracted to Christ in this world; the marriage is near, and shall be consummated in the next. A bride is a spouse on the confines of marriage, near the approaches of the conjugal solemnity. Blessed be God! it will not be long before Christ and his church, Christ and every believer, who are now betrothed and espoused, shall be fully and completely married, and in the perfect enjoyment of each other.

Observe, 3. The affection which this bride expresses towards her bridegroom; she says, Come, she passionately and impatiently desires, and vehemently longs for his coming. Come, is a word of invitation; "I pray come, it is my earnest suit and request that thou wouldest come."

Learn hence, That the glorious coming and appearance of Jesus Christ to judgment, is vehemently desired and earnestly longed for by all believers. The Spirit in the bride, and the bride by the Spirit, say, Come.

Observe, 4. The invitation of access returned by Christ, the bride says, Come; says Christ, Let him that is athirst come; we must first come to Christ by faith and repentance, before we can ever desire Christ's coming to us by death and judgment.

Observe lastly, The intimation given by Christ of a gracious acceptance, and a grateful entertainment: Whoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.

Here note, 1. The benefit mentioned or the mercy offered, water of life, all grace here, and glory hereafter; grace, as it leads to glory, and glory as it follows upon grace: grace carries life in the bosom of it, even eternal life.

Note, 2. The persons to whom this benefit is offered and tendered, that is, to whosoever will; to show that salvation is not forced upon us against our wills, but bestowed us in the use of our faculties, and in the exercise of our own endeavours; we are the subjects of this willingness, but God is the author of it, Psalms 110:3. Certum est nos velle, cum volumus; sed Deus facit ut velimus; praebendo vires efficacissimas voluntati: says St. Austin.

Note, 3. The offer itself, let him take it freely: grace is the free gift of God, as well as eternal life. Such is God's munificence and royalty, that he will not sell his good things; if he did, such is our indigence and poverty that we could never buy them; therefore, says God, take freely. Yet must we understand it only of a freedom from merit, not a freedom from endeavour. God's offers in the gospel are conditional; he proffers his Son, and all good with him, but upon condition of our acceptance on his own terms. Let none then straiten the grace of God, where he has enlarged it. If a man has a mind to keep his sins, he shall have no mercy, be they never so small; but if he be willing to leave his sins, and to accept an offered Saviour, as offered, he shall not be excluded from mercy, be they never so great; for, says Christ, Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Revelation 22:17. 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.

RICH beyond expression are the blessings held forth to us in the word of life: and as free as light are the invitations given us to partake of them. Not only in the epistles to the seven Churches, and in the other parts of this prophetic book, but throughout the whole Scriptures, is every possible encouragement afforded to the sinners of mankind, to repent of sin, and to “lay hold upon the hope that is set before them” in the Gospel. And here, in the close of the inspired volume, are invitations to us reiterated from every quarter, that we may be prevailed upon to accept of mercy, ere the door of mercy be for ever closed.

Let us consider,

I. The blessings to which we are invited—

They are here designated by “the water of life.” We will notice them,

1. Generally—

[The source from whence this water flows, is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. In the very chapter before us, “the pure river of the water of life” is said to “proceed out of the throne of God and of the Lamb [Note: ver. 1.].” As in the wilderness, the water gushing from the rock that had been smitten supplied the necessities of all Israel; so the Lord Jesus Christ, when smitten with the rod of the law, poured forth the waters of salvation for the benefit of the whole world [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:4.]. He is “the fountain of living waters [Note: Jeremiah 2:13.];” and whosoever cometh to him, may drink and live for ever. In the chapter before our text, the Lord Jesus Christ declared this to the Apostle John: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely [Note: Revelation 21:6.].” In the days of his flesh, he spoke repeatedly to this effect. To the Samaritan woman, of whom he had asked a draught of water, he said, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water [Note: John 4:10.].” On another occasion, when the people had, according to custom, drawn water from the pool of Siloam, he stood in the place of public concourse, and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink: and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” This latter expression is then explained by the Evangelist, who adds, “This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive [Note: John 7:37-39.].” Now here we have, in a general view, the import of the expression in my text. The Holy Spirit is that water of life which Christ is empowered to bestow: and wherever that blessed Spirit is imparted, there is within the person’s own bosom a principle of life, seeking for vent in all suitable expressions of duty to God; or, as our Lord elsewhere expresses it, “there is within him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life [Note: John 4:14.];” to which the Holy Spirit, in all his tendencies and operations, leads us to aspire.]

2. More particularly—

[Three blessings in particular I will specify, as granted by our Lord Jesus Christ unto all who come unto him; namely, pardon, and holiness, and glory.

The Lord Jesus will in the first place bestow the pardon of our sins. He is said by the prophet to be “the Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness [Note: Zechariah 13:1.]:” and all who come to wash in that fountain are cleansed from all their sins. In it even “sins of a crimson dye” are made “white as snow [Note: Isaiah 1:18.]:” as it is said, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin [Note: 1 John 1:7.].”

For the purposes of sanctification also shall this gift be bestowed: for, by the Prophet Ezekiel, he says, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and to keep my judgments to do them [Note: Ezekiel 36:25-27.].”

Eternal glory also will he confer upon them: for, when they have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” he will “lead them unto living fountains of waters [Note: Revelation 7:14; Revelation 7:17.],” and will cause them to “drink of the rivers of pleasure” which are “at God’s right hand for evermore [Note: Psalms 36:8; Psalms 16:11.].”]

Let us now turn our attention to,

II. The invitation itself—

Here we cannot but notice the very peculiar urgency and freeness of it—

1. The urgency, to overcome reluctance—

[“The Spirit says, Come.” The Holy Spirit of God has undertaken the office of revealing Christ to men, and of bringing sinners to Christ for the remission of their sins [Note: John 16:8; John 16:14.]. He descended visibly on the day of Pentecost for these ends; and by the ministry of the Apostles, as also by his operation on the souls of men, wrought powerfully upon multitudes, whom he “made willing in the day of his power,” and effectually subdued to the obedience of faith. Thus at this time also is he carrying on the work that has been assigned him in the economy of redemption. In the written word, he speaks to us: by the ministry of his servants, he pleads with us: by the convictions which he fastens on our mind and conscience, he strives with us individually; if by any means he may constrain us to accept the blessings offered to us in the Gospel. His voice to us every day and hour is, “Come,” come to Christ as the Saviour of your soul.

“The Bride also says, Come.” The Bride is the Church, “the Lamb’s wife,” who has experienced in her own person all the blessedness of that salvation which she is so desirous of imparting to all around her. The Church of old addressed her Lord, saying, “Draw me, and we will run after thee [Note: Song of Solomon 1:4.]:” that is, ‘Draw me, and I will not come alone: I will surely labour to the utmost of my power to make known to others the wonders of thy love, that they also may be partakers of my felicity, and unite with me in honouring and adoring thee.’ Thus the Church does in every age. She is “the pillar and ground of the truth [Note: 1 Timothy 3:15.],” supporting it firmly in the world, and exhibiting, as by public inscriptions that are visible to all, the glory and excellency of the Gospel salvation. She then unites with the Spirit of God in saying to all around her, “Come:” Come to Jesus and see what a Saviour he is. See in me what he both can and will do for you also; however far off you may now be, you may draw nigh to him with a full assurance of acceptance with him; and though now “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, you may become fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God [Note: Ephesians 2:19.].”

“Let him also that heareth, say, Come.” Those to whom the foregoing invitations are announced, should unite their efforts to make them known, and to induce every creature under heaven to accept them. Think not, brethren, that you have performed your duty when you have heard these invitations from the lips of your minister; no, nor when you have yourselves complied with his advice. You are all to be preachers in your own circles; all to repeat to your friends and relatives, your families and dependents, the glad tidings which you hear of a free and full salvation; and, with one heart and one voice, should join in saying to all around you, “Come, come, come.” This was the conduct of Andrew and of Philip, when they had found the Saviour [Note: John 1:40-41; John 1:43; John 1:45.]; and this must be the conduct of us all, in our respective spheres.]

2. The freeness, to counteract despondency—

[We are all invited to “take of the water of life freely.” If we are “athirst,” we are the very persons whose names, if I may so speak, are especially written on the cards of invitation. Indeed, if our names had been expressly recorded in this passage, we should not have had a thousandth part of the assurance of God’s willingness to accept us that we now have; for there might be other persons of our name: but no mourning penitent in the universe can err in tracing his name in the designation that is here given.

It may be, however, that some may say, ‘I am not sufficiently athirst to be able to appropriate to myself this character. I should be glad indeed to obtain mercy of the Lord; but I do not pant after it as the hart after the water-brooks, and therefore I have not in myself the qualification that is here required.’ To counteract such desponding fears, the Saviour says, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” If you have not all the thirst that you can wish, have you the inclination? have you the desire? Then you are the person invited: and you must not dream of staying till you can bring certain qualifications along with you, but come and take these blessings “freely, without money and without price [Note: Isaiah 55:1.].”]

To impress this subject the more deeply on your minds, let me address a few words,

1. To the reluctant—

[Many are the excuses which you urge for your declining the invitation sent you in the Gospel: and to you they appear perhaps sufficient to justify your refusal. But your Lord and Saviour will not be deceived: he sees the radical indisposition of your mind to the blessings which he offers you; and will say of you, as he did in reference to those of old, “They shall never taste of my supper [Note: Luke 14:16-24.].” You may be offering a variety of pleas: but he will put the true construction on them all, “Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life [Note: John 5:40.].” O think, how bitterly you will regret your present conduct, when you shall see unnumbered myriads, who were once as far off from him as you now are, sitting down at the marriage-supper of the Lamb, and you yourselves be cast out into outer darkness! What weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth will you then experience to all eternity [Note: Matthew 8:11-12.]! How will those words sound in your ears at the last day, “Often would I have gathered thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not [Note: Matthew 23:37.]!” Do but reflect on this one moment,—“I would; and ye would not.” Verily, that reflection will constitute the very summit of your misery in hell. I pray you, hold not out any longer against the urgent invitations which are now sent you; but come unto the Saviour, and accept the rest which he has promised to all that are weary and heavy-laden.]

2. To the desponding—

[What can the Saviour add to convince you of his willingness to accept and bless you? Perhaps you will say, ‘I have tried to come to him, and I cannot: and I have tried so long, that I think it in vain to entertain a hope of final success.’ Is this the case? Then hear what the Saviour says to you by the Prophet Isaiah: When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them: I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water [Note: Isaiah 41:17-18.]. Now I cannot conceive a case more desperate than that which is here depicted: The person is in himself “poor and needy.” (There you will easily recognize your own character. He has “sought for water,” even for the waters of salvation. (That represents what you also profess to have done.) He has “found none.” (There is your unhappy lot painted with the utmost precision.) “His tongue faileth for thirst;” so that he is ready to sink in utter despair. (What can you add to that, to bring it home more fully to your own case?) Yet this is the very person for whom God has reserved his blessings, and to whom he engages to impart them. ‘But I am in such a state, that it is almost impossible to deliver me: you might as well expect a river to be running over the highest mountains, as for the waters of salvation to reach me.’ Is that the case? says the Saviour: then “I will open rivers in high places; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” See here, my brethren, what wonderful condescension there is in your Lord and Saviour, that he will so describe your case, that it should not be possible for you to fail in recognising your own character, or to doubt any longer his ability and willingness to save you. Take then this passage; and rely upon it; and plead it with him; and expect the accomplishment of it to your own soul. Then shall “your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noon-day [Note: Isaiah 58:10.].” You shall find that the Saviour is not “a fountain sealed [Note: Song of Solomon 4:12.],” but “a fountain opened [Note: Psalms 36:9. Joel 3:18.];” and “out of that well of salvation you shall drink water with joy” for evermore [Note: Isaiah 12:3.].]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 22:17. λέγουσα, saying) It may refer also to τὸ πνεῦμα, by a Hebraism, because רוח is of the feminine gender.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Revelation 22:13"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

прииди! Это ответ Духа и Церкви на обещание Его прихода.

пустьпусть Это предложение неограниченной милости и спасения всем, кто стремится удовлетворить жажду души. Ср. Ис. 55:1, 2. воду жизни См. пояснение к ст. 1.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

The bride; the church of Christ.

Come; come unto Christ, and receive freely the blessings of eternal life. Matthew 11:28-30; Isaiah 45:22. As the Holy Spirit, the church, and Jesus Christ invite sinners to come to him, all should accept and echo the invitation, and publish it, as far as possible, in every language of every people, that whosoever will may come to Christ, and receive of him the free, gracious gift of eternal life.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

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.

I do not wish to be considered as speaking decidedly upon the subject, but as it strikes me, this is God the Holy Ghost making a response to Christ, and the Church following the same, and the looker on, and him that heareth, catching the sound from the same words, as Jesus had so graciously uttered them; and echoing the invitation. When Jesus saith, Behold I come quickly, the Holy Ghost saith, Even so, COME, Lord Jesus, and the whole Church the Bride, being quickened and regenerated, are longing for his coming. And the hearer of the promise, is included in the same, he longeth for it. Yea, the thirsty, and whosoever will, whomsoever the Lord hath put a thirst for Christ in the heart, and a willingness in the soul to receive Jesus, all join in the fervent cry. The water of life is a river, open, free, full, and everlastingly running. All shall be welcome to take their fill from it, if Christ by his grace, be welcomed in their hearts to fill them.

I cannot allow myself to pass away from this most gracious verse, before that I have called upon the Reader to observe with me, a certain interesting point concerning it, which may not perhaps before have arrested his notice. But it is worthy our closest remark, that in the last public sermon the Lord Jesus ever preached, and which was at the Jewish passover, he closed all he had to say, in words similar to those with which the Holy Ghost hath closed the canon of scripture. I n the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, John 7:37. And here we find the Holy Ghost sealing up the last of his blessed scriptures, in words to the same effect. So that here is Christ at one time, and the Holy Ghost at another, both engaged in the same thing. So earnest is Christ, when on earth, and when in heaven, as well as the Spirit, that his Church shall hear his voice, and be on the lookout for his coming.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

The Spirit and the bride say, Come ... "The Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and the bride is the church (Revelation 21:2,9). It is the testimony of the church empowered by the Holy Spirit."[72] Note that there are four invitations in this verse, yet there is only one. "It is not as though the Spirit says, Come; and then also the bride says, Come; but the Spirit moves in her, and she is moved by him."[73]

Come ... This is what people have to do if they wish to be saved. This verb implies that unless men shall "come," they shall continue to be lost. This means that God in Christ has already done everything that even God can do to save people, and that the next move is up to them. This also inherently teaches that it is possible for people to do this. No enabling act on God's part is necessary; it is the human will that must respond to this call.

And he that heareth, let him say, Come ... Roberts tells us that, "There is evidence from early sources (Didache 10:6-7), that this was a liturgical prayer used in the ritual of the Lord's supper."[74] This is no doubt correct; and it is most important in determining the meaning of "come" in this passage and elsewhere in the New Testament. The word maranatha, transliterated from the Aramaic was commonly used in such rituals, and it may be written either marana tha, or as maran atha (The old manuscripts did not divide between words.). Note the discussion of these two ways of dividing this word in 1 Corinthians 16:2, and see the discussion in my Commentary on 1Corinthians, pp. 284,285. Remember that there is just as much authority for rendering "Come, Lord Jesus" as "The Lord has come,"[75] as there is for understanding it as a petition for him to come. In fact, there is a double meaning in it. It means, "Come Lord, and be with us in the communion, as thou hast promised"; but it also means, "Lord, come in the Second Advent." The Supper itself was observed with reference to that future event as well as a reference to the crucifixion. What better way could there have been to preserve this mystical implication than by using one word that gathered up multiple meanings in itself, maranatha? The late great Christian scholar, J. W. Roberts, left us this priceless comment:

At the table (of the Lord's Supper) they saw his presence with the eye of faith and took it as a pledge of his ultimate manifestation at the parousia ... (John) knows that the church will join in saying of Christ, Come.[76]

The double meaning here extends even further than this, for the saying of "Come" by the Spirit and by the church also refers to the invitation for men to accept the gospel, as already pointed out.

The key word in this passage should be rendered maranatha, as a single word with two meanings. It is a tragedy that the usual scholarly bias to the effect that all of the first century Christians believed the Second Advent to be scheduled for their immediate future has caused them to edit out of the word one of its legitimate meanings by writing it marana tha. We defy anyone to deny that there is just as much authority for writing it maran atha. To divide the word at all is to impose an interpretation upon it. The true meaning is that, "The Christians prayed for the Lord to come in whatever manner of visitation he should choose."[77]

And let him that heareth say, Come ... This is directed not to the Lord but to sinners to accept the gospel. "The personal responsibility of each Christian to bear testimony to the lordship of Christ is here asserted."[78] We also agree with Strauss that many Christians are not living up to this trust, because, "The contemporary church is snarled up in the clergy system."[79]

It will be noted here that we construe the first two "Comes" as directed to Christ, and the latter two as directed to sinners. Beasley-Murray also concurred: "It is more likely that John intends us to view the call in the first two sentences as directed to the Lord."[80] H. B. Swete also took this view.[81]

[72] Robert H. Mounce, op. cit., p. 395.

[73] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 670.

[74] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 201.

[75] F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973), p. 100.

[76] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 201.

[77] Ibid., p. 202.

[78] James D. Strauss, op. cit., p. 293.

[79] Ibid.

[80] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 344.

[81] H. B. Swete, as quoted by William Barclay, op. cit., p. 229.

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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

The Final Invitation.

‘And the Spirit and the Bride say “Come”. And he who hears let him say “Come”. And he who is thirsty let him come. And whoever will let him take of the water of life freely.’

The book ends with the final call to all to come. None who desire to come will be excluded. The invitation is there and all must either accept it or ignore it. The Spirit Who has spoken all these things invites them to respond to Christ. The Bride who has been so blessed invites them to be part of herself. The reader of and listener to the book, who is moved and stirred to response, will himself immediately issue the invitation to others. The water of life is freely available to all. Let them take it before it becomes unavailable. It is available to those who hear, and to those who are thirsty.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

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, p492.] 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 ..., p142. See also his brief history of belief in the imminent coming of Christ on pp142-47.]

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.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 22:17. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. He that will, let him take the water of life freely. It is not easy to determine exactly the bearing of the different clauses of this verse, and much diversity of opinion prevails upon the point. They are commonly regarded either as a continuation of the words of Jesus in Revelation 22:16, or as the answer of the Church and the believing soul. Neither view is consistent with them as a whole. On the one hand, there is something unnatural in putting into the mouth of the Lord Himself those two cries addressed to Him to ‘come’ which are contained in the first two clauses. No other instance of the kind occurs in the Apocalypse, frequently as His Coming is there spoken of. On the other hand, it is equally unnatural to look upon the last two clauses as a response of the Church to her Lord; while, if her mind is at the moment as full as we know it to be of the Coming of Jesus, it is not easy to comprehend how she could pass so rapidly to a meaning of the word ‘come’ different from that which occupied all her thoughts. In these circumstances we venture to suggest that we may have here an interchange of thought and feeling between Jesus and His Church. He is coming: the Church is waiting in joyful assurance that He is at hand. Both the Lord and His Church are at a moment of highest rapture. What more natural than that at such a moment they should exchange their sentiments in the blessed fellowship of a common joy? If this be allowed, the first two clauses will be the answer of the Church to Him who has just described Himself by the glorious titles of Revelation 22:16. The Spirit working in the Church, and teaching her to long and cry for that Coming with which all her hopes are associated, together with the Church herself, no sooner think of the testimony of Christ as ended than they can restrain themselves no longer, and by the voice of the Church they both cry ‘Come’ (comp. on John 15:26-27). The Seer adds, in words expressing substantially the same thought, ‘Let him that heareth,’—him that heareth in faith, and to whom the glorious prospects of this book are a reality,—let him cry ‘Come.’ Then Jesus Himself takes up the ‘Come,’ ‘Let him that is athirst come.’ We must understand these words in the same sense as that in which we have understood the similar words of chap. Revelation 21:6. The thirst referred to is not the first thirst of the sinner after salvation. It is the constant longing of one who has already been refreshed for deeper and fuller draughts; and to each one who so thirsts the Lord says ‘Come.’ So also with the last clause of the verse. The persons referred to are already believers, within the city, within reach of the water of life; and to them the Lord says, Let them take it ‘freely,’ without hesitation and without stint.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Revelation 22:17. And the Spirit — With which I inspire my servants; and the bride — The church, whom I have espoused, or the Spirit of adoption in the bride, says, with earnest desire and expectation, Come — And accomplish all the words of this prophecy. And let him that heareth say, Come — Let every one echo the invitation; and let my people, in all ages, consider it as their duty so to do; and let him that is athirst — That sincerely and earnestly desires the blessings of the gospel, whether the blessings of grace, or those of glory; come — And partake of those blessings. Let him apply to the Lord Jesus, in repentance and faith, to be pardoned and renewed; taken into God’s favour, and stamped with his image here, and put in possession of eternal life hereafter, and he shall not apply in vain; and whosoever will — Here they also, who are farther off, are invited; let him take of the water of life — He may partake of spiritual and eternal blessings; freely — Yea, as freely as he makes use of the most common refreshments, as freely as he drinks of the running stream. Such a declaration of free grace seems to have been wisely inserted just in the close of the sacred canon, to encourage the hope of every humble soul that is truly desirous of the blessings of the gospel; and to guard against those suspicions of divine goodness, which the dark mind of man is so ready to imbibe. The word λαμβανετο, which we render take, often signifies receive; and the word δωρεαιν, rendered freely, implies the same as gratis, namely, the perfect freedom of the gift, and may probably refer to the celebrated invitation, Isaiah 55:1-3.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

And the Spirit and the bride say: Come. This is, the Spirit of God, who moves us to love and praise him; and the bride, i.e. the Church, the spouse of Christ, which earnestly desires to be happy in the enjoyment of God: and every one that heareth these divine promises, let him with all the affections of his soul, with his whole heart, say: Come. He that thirsteth after justice, the Author and Fountain of all justice, let him come and be filled gratis by the bounty and liberality of our merciful God. (Witham)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

The Spirit would be the Holy Spirit who spoke through the prophets and to the churches. (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:29; Revelation 3:6; Revelation 3:13; Revelation 3:22) Now, he invites Jesus to come as he has promised. (verses 7 and 12) The church, or bride, of Christ also wants Jesus to come and implores him. (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9; 1 Corinthians 16:22) Of course, there is also an invitation extended by the Spirit through the gospel to sinners to obey. Those who are thirsty for righteousness can reveive the water of life that is free or open for all. (Matthew 5:6; Matthew 11:28-30)

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

This verse illustrates the Figure of speech Polysyndeton. App-6.

Spirit. App-101.

bride. Greek. numphe. See Revelation 21:9.

And. The texts omit.

whosoever will. Literally the one willing

will. App-102.

freely. See Revelation 21:6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come . . .—The cry of all creation is for its true Lord; the cry of the Spirit in prophecies and in the hearts of God’s people is for the coming Lord—the bride waiting for the bridegroom cries “Come.” The Apocalypse is the book of the coming One; it ends with the cry that the coming One would come (comp. Revelation 22:20); but let those who thirst for His coming come to Him. We may draw near to Him, who is drawing near to us: let him that thirsteth, come; let him that will take the water of life freely. (Comp. John 7:37.) “The power of the whole gospel,” says Bengel, “concentrates itself in this, that one should be able to respond to this Come, and repeat it from the heart.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation



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.

As heretofore mentioned, these concluding admonitory words were the sayings of John himself, not of Jesus, in which he sounded the note of an unlimited invitation, but not an unconditional one. This seventeenth verse of the last chapter of Revelation has had a first place in gospel preaching for centuries. It has been proclaimed the high note of redemption and has been compared to ringing the bells of heaven. It was the call to all men to come to the river and the tree of life within the wonderful city of verse fourteen. The city was the New Jerusalem, which has been specifically and repeatedly designated the Lamb's Bride--the church of Christ.

The Spirit which joined in this invitation was the One Spirit before the apocalyptic throne, from which the seven spirits of the vision had proceeded. Joined with the Spirit in this great invitation was the Bride, bidding all to come within her walls. And the Seer himself exhorted any one who heareth--who had heard the Spirit and the Bride say, Come--to ring the bell and join the refrain by saying, Come. And all who would thereafter hear this book of Revelation read in the churches (1:3) should join the glad chorus and say, Come. All who were athirst, without the water of salvation, were entreated to come, to the river which flowed the thirst--quenching water of life, to drink of which one would never thirst again. (John 4:14) And to make this gospel call all inclusive John said: whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Salvation full and free was offered to all, but within the sphere of salvation-- the church. And it was made conditional by in saying whosoever will, and in the accompanying word take. These words expressed conditions. They required that the will of man shall yield to the will of God in the doing of the commandments of verse fourteen. The phrase let him come implies that the gospel is persuasive, not coercive. No one can shoot the gospel into a sinner nor machine-gun Christianity into a heathen--but he that will, whosoever or wheresoever he may be, can come without hindrance or restraint.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". 1966.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
the Spirit
16; Isaiah 55:1-3; John 16:7-15
the bride
Isaiah 2:5
let him that heareth
Psalms 34:8; Isaiah 2:3,5; 48:16-18; Jeremiah 50:5; Micah 4:2; Zechariah 8:21-23; John 1:39-46; 4:29; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8
let him that is athirst
21:6; Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37
let him take
Isaiah 12:3; John 4:10,14
Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 2:12
Reciprocal: Exodus 17:6 - that the people;  Numbers 10:10 - in the day;  Numbers 10:29 - come;  Numbers 20:8 - speak;  Numbers 21:16 - Gather;  Deuteronomy 30:20 - thy life;  Ezra 7:13 - minded;  Psalm 23:2 - leadeth;  Psalm 30:5 - in his;  Psalm 36:9 - For;  Psalm 40:10 - not hid;  Psalm 78:15 - GeneralPsalm 81:10 - open;  Psalm 87:7 - all my;  Psalm 95:6 - O come;  Proverbs 1:22 - ye simple;  Proverbs 8:4 - GeneralProverbs 9:4 - GeneralProverbs 25:25 - cold;  Song of Solomon 2:10 - Rise;  Song of Solomon 5:1 - GeneralSong of Solomon 8:14 - Make haste;  Isaiah 35:6 - for;  Isaiah 41:17 - seek;  Isaiah 43:20 - to give;  Isaiah 44:3 - pour water;  Isaiah 45:24 - even;  Jeremiah 2:13 - the fountain;  Jeremiah 17:13 - forsaken;  Ezekiel 47:1 - waters issued;  Zechariah 10:8 - hiss;  Zechariah 14:8 - living;  Matthew 11:28 - Come;  Matthew 22:3 - sent;  Matthew 22:9 - GeneralLuke 14:16 - bade;  Luke 14:21 - Go;  John 1:37 - and they;  John 3:34 - for God;  John 5:26 - so hath;  John 5:40 - ye will not;  John 6:35 - he that cometh;  John 6:37 - I will;  John 11:25 - the life;  John 14:6 - the life;  John 15:25 - without;  Acts 3:15 - Prince;  Acts 11:12 - the Spirit;  1 Corinthians 10:4 - did;  1 Corinthians 15:45 - a quickening;  Philippians 2:16 - Holding;  1 Thessalonians 1:8 - from;  2 Timothy 1:10 - and hath;  Revelation 2:7 - let him

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The subject running through this verse is along the line of invitations. It has been stated more than once that as to the relative place of the items in the over-all vision of this book, the time of the Judgment has been reached. From that standpoint there would be no reason to give anyone an invitation to come for salvation-—-that opportunity has passed. Yet in reality, aside from the symbolized feature of the book, the basic purpose of the book of Revelation is to give the world a final document from Heaven as an incentive for preparing to meet the day of all days, the second coming of Christ and the judgment of the world. Otherwise there would be no point in inviting men to come and drink of the water of life. Nor would there be any call for the warning sounded in the two verses following this. Hence we shall consider the important phrases of this combined invitation. The bride is the (espoused) church ( 2 Corinthians 11:2) and the Spirit is in the church ( Ephesians 2:22). The church of Christ has a standing invitation to people of the world, wishing them to accept the salvation offered so freely. In truth, it is the only organization that has any right to make such an offer ( Ephesians 3:21 and 1 Timothy 3:15). But others as individuals have the right to repeat the invitation, hence the verse says for those who hear to repeat the call. That makes it the duty of every individual to be active in the salvation of souls. Let him that is athirst come. This is in line with the statement of Jesus in Matthew 5:6 that they who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled. That is logical, for unless a man is thirsty he will not be interested in the opportunity to drink. Whosoeuer will signifies the same as the preceding comment, that unless a man is willing it would do him no good to go through the formality of obeying the Gospel. Let it be observed also that the blessing is to those who come. Man must come to the fountain for it will not be moved towards him for his convenience. The water of life is the same that Jesus made known to the woman of Samaria ( John 4:10-14). This water is the word of God and it will be in man "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." It is offered freely which means abundantly and without the price such as silver and gold.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 22:17

Revelation 22:17 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.

By the


here, we are to understand the new Jerusalem, who shall come down from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband, Revelation 19:7-8; Revelation 21:2-10 the church of God, and the holy spirit of God, and all converted persons do invite all sorts of sinners, especially, thirsty sinners, without exception against any persons, that are willing, and without any price, to take Christ freely. { Isaiah 55:1-3}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation".

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 22:17. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And he that hears, let him say, Come! And he that is athirst let him come; he that wills, let him take the water of life freely. What the book contains of the coming of the Lord, etc. is certain, Revelation 22:16. And, therefore, the joyful echo of the Spirit responds here to the word of Christ: Come! And this, again, is immediately followed by the call of the Spirit to every one, who hears the come, to accord with it, and by the invitation to the thirsty to participate in the enjoyment of the promised salvation.

The Spirit is not the Spirit that dwells in all believers (Romans 8:26), but the Spirit of prophecy (ch. Revelation 19:10), the Spirit of the prophets (ch. Revelation 22:6), in which John was on the Lord's day (ch. Revelation 1:10, Revelation 4:2), which also speaks through John in ch. Revelation 14:13, and which utters the promises in the seven epistles. The bride, i.e. the church (comp. Revelation 19:7, Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9), stands related here to the church, as elsewhere the saints to the prophets—comp. at ch. Revelation 18:20, "The saints are the genus, the apostles and prophets, who are personally identical, are the most distinguished species of these," ch. Revelation 11:18, Revelation 16:6, Revelation 17:6, Revelation 18:24. There is no change of person here as to the Come uttered by the Spirit, and the Come uttered by the bride, but the Spirit himself, and John his organ, proclaims the Come as the bride's representative. This Come uttered by the organ of the church in her name is a fact—she speaks—and on it follows the call to all the members of the church, to accord with this Come.

He that hears—not generally the words of the prophecy of this book, by comparing Revelation 22:18 and Revelation 1:3, for had this been the thing to be heard, it would have required to be more specially described—but the Come of the Spirit and the bride. Bengel: "He that has so much joy as to be able to say, Come, let him say it. And he that still cannot, let him learn to do so. The power of the whole gospel concentrates itself in this, that one should be able to respond to this Come, and repeat it from the heart." On the words, "And he that is athirst let him come," comp. John 8:37, "If any one thirsts, let him come to me and drink," and the remarks made at ch. Revelation 21:6. If the contents of this book really belong to the true and faithful witness, the thirsty need but to come; such simply as have the will, may receive the water of life. For now all is ready.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

The promise of 12 a is caught up and answered by a deep “come” from the prophets in ecstasy ( personified, cf.Revelation 2:7, etc.) and the Christian congregation.— . Hitherto (Revelation 21:2, etc.) this term has been reserved for the church triumphant in the world to come. Now, with the memory of these oracles fresh in his mind, the prophet applies it to the church on earth, as Paul had already done.— . . ., a liturgical note, like Mark 13:14 (cf. Weinel, 84, 85).— . . ., addressed to strangers who sometimes attended the Christian worship (cf.1 Corinthians 14:23-24). For this fine turn of expression (the double use of come), cf. Did. x. 6, “may grace come and may this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David! If anyone is holy let him come [i.e., to the Lord’s table]; if anyone is not, let him repent. Mârăna thâ” (cf. below, Revelation 22:20). The less likely alternative is to take here as addressed not to Jesus but to the outside world.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

17. The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! The call is to everyone in the entire human race (John 6:44-45).Accept the water of life as a gift. Jesus has already paid for it with his act in history. [“Christianity is not the preacher standing on Mount Sinai, thundering “Do this, or you will be damned;” but the Lord of Glory, from His Cross and from His Throne, saying to everyone: “Here is the price of heaven, the key to the Holy City, the infinite riches, instant pardon – if you will reach out and take it.”]




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 22:17". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.