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Bible Commentaries

J. Hampton Keathley's Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 22

 

 

Verses 1-5

Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-5
(See the Book Comments for the Introductory chapters and Appendices)

Lesson30:
The Eternal State
(
Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-5)

Throughout the book the words "and I saw" have been John's characteristic designation for new details of revelation given to him. In this chapter these words appear three times for three major elements of revelation which the Lord wants to call to our attention through the visions given to John.

(1) In John saw the new heaven and the new earth. This clearly indicates that what follows is of the eternal state and bliss of the redeemed.

(2) Then in John saw the descent of the New Jerusalem. This is followed by revelation of new conditions with a description of the new Jerusalem. This too is related to the eternal state, though it will also be in existence in the Millennium and the home of the church of Jesus Christ and of Old Testament saints like Abraham.

(3) Finally, in John again wrote, "I saw." What follows still deals with the new Jerusalem, only now the revelation deals with some special delights regarding the spiritual and physical conditions of the new Jerusalem.

Throughout Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-5 the discussion concerns the new Jerusalem and the eternal state. This seems quite clear from two main factors: (a) The close association apparent between Revelation 21:1-2, the new Jerusalem is seen following the vision of the new heaven and earth; and (b) the natural chronology of the book. Most consider this entire section as prophetic of the eternal state.

Some, however, think Revelation 21:9-27; Revelation 22:1-5 refers to the Millennium. They think this because the nature of some of the things mentioned seem to be out of character with the eternal state, such as: (a) the mention of the nations and kings of the earth ( Revelation 21:24), and (b) the mention of healing ( Revelation 22:2). These have explanations, however, and can be easily applied to the eternal state as we shall see in the exposition that follows.

Ryrie has an important comment on these verses and this problem. He says,

Perhaps the best way to understand this entire section is to regard the new Jerusalem as the abode of the redeemed of all ages. Conditions within the new Jerusalem are conditions of eternity. Of course the redeemed will be inhabiting the city during the Millennium as well as during eternity. Always the conditions within the city are eternal, even when the city is related to the Millennium. This is no different from the present, for loved ones in heaven are enjoying eternal conditions as is God even though these eternal conditions impinge on time (as, for instance, on the Mount of Transfiguration or this entire vision given to John in the revelation). In other words, the new Jerusalem is the abode of the redeemed during the Millennium and during eternity. [Note: Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation , Moody Press: Chicago, 1968 , p118-119.]

The Declaration of the New Heaven and Earth
(
Revelation 21:1)

1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

There is very little revealed about the character of the new heaven and earth in Scripture (cf. Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22). The main emphasis is its uniqueness; it is quite different from the old. The new heaven and earth is not simply the old renovated but an act of new creation (cf. Revelation 20:1 f with Revelation 20:11 and 2 Peter 3:10, which describes the dissolving of the old heaven and earth). The word "new" here is kainos which means fresh, new in quality and character. Further, in the Greek text the words "heaven" and "earth" are without the article stressing the aspect of quality rather than identity. Literally, it is "heaven, new, and an earth, new" not "the new heaven…" The use of the adjective kainos plus this anarthrous construction (absence of the article) serves to further emphasize the qualitative difference even though we aren't told a great deal about this difference.

One striking statement is made, "there was no longer any sea." "Sea" refers to a lake, sea, or body of water. Most of the earth is now covered with water which is vital to man's survival, but apparently in the new earth there will be no bodies of water except for the one river mentioned in. Man in the eternal state and in his glorified body evidently will not need water as he does today to sustain him physically. There will be water, but it will speak of power, purity, and eternal life in the eternal city which has its constant source of life in God.

Unfortunately it appears (or fortunately depending on your outlook) there will be no fishing. Man will be able to eat and drink, but it will not be necessary for survival as it is today, at least not in the same way. It also indicates a completely different type of climate. Only a few passages in the Word deal with the new heaven and new earth and these are often in a context dealing with both the Millennium and eternal state which causes some confusion due to our limited understanding (cf. Isaiah 65:17 f; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13).

This kind of thing is not uncommon in prophetic literature and should not cause confusion. A prophetic passage will often mention two events together which, chronologically in their fulfillment, are separated by a large interval of time. Some illustrations of this are: (a) Isaiah 61:1-2 a describes the ministry of Messiah at His first coming and Isaiah 61:2-3 (2b-3) describe His second coming. So in Luke 4:18-19 Christ quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 a and then said "today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" ( Luke 4:21). But He stopped in the middle of Isaiah 61:2 since, as Ryrie points out, "at His first coming He preached only ‘the favorable year of the Lord' ( Luke 4:19). The ‘day of vengeance of our God' ( Isaiah 61:2 b) was reserved for His second coming." [Note: Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, NASB, Moody Press: Chicago, 1995 , p1627.] (b) The resurrection of the just and the unjust are both spoken of in John 5:29 as though they are one event, yet Revelation 20:1-15 clearly reveals they are separated by an interval of a thousand years (cf. also Daniel 12:2). (c) 2 Peter 3:10-13 speaks of the Day of the Lord, the Tribulation, and of the destruction of the heavens and the earth as though they were one and the same or close together, yet Revelation shows they are separated by a thousand years. The mention of two prophetic events together does not mean that they are one and the same or that they occur together or should be confused. We must consider all of Scripture together and when all the passages dealing with certain events are considered, then the sequence and chronology become evident.

The Descent of the New Jerusalem
(
Revelation 21:2)

2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

Regarding this new city, the Greek literally says, "and the city, the holy one, new Jerusalem, I saw descending out of heaven from God." The emphasis by the word order is on the character of the city. It is the holy city, new Jerusalem and this is seen in striking contrast to the Jerusalem of the Tribulation which is called "Sodom and Egypt" ( Revelation 11:8). Revelation 21:2 b-22:5 will develop and describe the special holiness of this new Jerusalem.

The second point of emphasis according to the word order of the Greek is the word "prepared" which stands first in the attached descriptive clause. In John 14:2 our Lord said "… I go to prepare a place for you." The verb there and here is the same, it is the verb hetoimazo„, "to prepare, make ready." The indication in John 14:3 is that when Christ would come for His bride, the church, this place would at that time be prepared as her dwelling place. This teaches us that the new Jerusalem is prepared during the church age as a place for the bride and will be in existence at the rapture, during the Tribulation, and the Millennium. It will be the home of the church and our eternal abode there begins right after Christ comes for His bride. The author of Hebrews speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem as the abode and hope of the saints ( Hebrews 12:22-24).

Note that the city comes down out of heaven from God and is in some way related to the earth. But it is nevertheless a heavenly city, not an earthly city. Because of its heavenly nature it may be like a satellite city which will orbit or hover above the earth and will finally settle upon it during the Millennium (cf. Revelation 20:9). This idea of Jerusalem as a satellite during the Millennium is of course only by implication and not by definite statement. If this is Song of Solomon , then this heavenly city will be withdrawn at the end of the Millennium in connection with the destruction of the old heaven and earth.

"Made ready as a bride adorned for her husband" compares the city to a bride, but this does not limit the city to the church. All saints will ultimately live in this city (cf. Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16). The figure of the bride simply emphasizes the following: (a) as marriage is designed to be permanent, so this will be our permanent or eternal abode, (b) as a bride is beautifully adorned for her wedding, so this stresses the beauty of this city as it is adorned for the saints, and (c) as the bride is to be pure, it portrays the purity of the holy city.

The Conditions of the New Jerusalem
(
Revelation 21:3-8)

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, 4and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." 5 And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." 6 And He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost7 "He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My Song of Solomon 8:1-14 "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

The Personal Dwelling of God Among Men ( Revelation 21:3)

While John is beholding the descending city, his attention is diverted by a loud voice--the last time of21times that either a "great" or a "loud" voice is mentioned. This is always an indication of an important piece of revelation that is about to be unfolded. It is significant that the last loud voice announces the dwelling of God among men. Though God is the independent God of the universe, Hebrews , in His love, longs to dwell among us in order to have fellowship with us and to bless us with His personal care. This ought to touch our hearts and cause us to draw near to Him.

"The tabernacle of God is among men…" "Tabernacle" stands for "dwelling place, a place of abode," or of one's "personal presence." And where is that? "Among men." The word "among" used here and in the next clause is the Greek preposition meta, which is used of association or companionship or fellowship. Note that the verse goes on to emphasize "God Himself shall be among them," and "they shall be His people," a result of the other. This verse denotes the most intimate and close fellowship with God in a perfect and unbroken way and on a face-to-face basis. This will be far beyond the knowledge of His presence and indwelling which believers can know today. Today we speak to Him in prayer and He speaks to us in His Word, but then He will be openly and visibly in our midst, personally ministering to our needs. The full scope of this is far beyond our comprehension today. What follows is a result of this personal presence of God in the most personal way among men.

Old Experiences will be Excluded ( Revelation 21:4)

In this life certain sorrows and perplexities are always with us. And from the nature of this life we may wonder how they could ever be removed, that they must follow us into eternity. It's perhaps hard to imagine life without our sorrows and pain. Take for instance the sorrow and regret that one might have over sin and failures. What about the loved one who never trusted in Jesus Christ, say a father or sister or son or daughter? How can the pain of their eternal separation ever be removed? These verses give us God's assurance that our present perplexities and sorrows, and indeed even their remembrance, will be wiped away, which undoubtedly includes answers with understanding. Note that "tear" is singular, every single tear.

Revelation 21:4 promises us no more tears, mourning, crying, or pain. This means perfect, uninterrupted happiness and peace. It appears that with God visibly and personally in our midst, there will be absolutely no possibility of unhappiness. Today we all experience pain, sorrow, and misery to some degree. Even with believers who are walking intimately with the Lord and know the joy of His care there are still many times of pain and sorrow. That is life as we know it today. Of course, the more we walk with the Lord and rest in His goodness and care, the greater our peace and joy even in extreme pressure, but even then, there will still be pain.

The emphasis of these verses is that it is God's visible and personal presence that gives this perfect happiness and blessing and not simply the removal of the sources of our problems. Oh, how this should be a reminder and an exhortation to us now to put fellowship with the living Christ as our number one priority. We need to practice awareness of and faith in the personal presence and care of our Lord ( Hebrews 13:4-5; Matthew 28:20; Philippians 4:5-7; Joshua 1:51).

"The first things have passed away" refers to all the conditions of this present world--Satan, sin, a sinful nature, and death, etc. Everything associated with Satan and his rebellion and Prayer of Manasseh , his fall and rebellion, everything except believers themselves, will be removed, put away. In fact, "the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind" (see Isaiah 65:17 b).

New Things will be Experienced ( Revelation 21:5-7)

With the passing away of the old something new must take its place, so we are now presented with the new things which God will create for His people. Interestingly, however, these verses begin with the words "the One sitting on the throne." Why mention this? To stress God's permanent sovereignty, especially in a context dealing with creation. Creation has always been a mighty display of God's sovereign power, but man one way or another, under the delusions of the evil one, has sought to remove God from His throne and tried to enthrone himself as a god. In one system after another--mysticism, communism, atheism, scientism, and humanism, etc--man has sought to ignore and reject the God of creation.

The foundation to all of this is man's viewpoint of origins. Was man created by a personal God or did he just evolve? Is man the product of some impersonal force of which he is a part? The Word of God teaches us that God can be known by things which he has made; this gives God-consciousness ( Romans 1:18-20; Psalm 19:1-6), and that he can be intimately known through the Scriptures, God's personal revelation of Himself and of His Son ( 1 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 19:7-9). But mankind as a whole rejects the knowledge of God or the light of nature and Scripture because his deeds are evil ( John 3:19-21). Because of his ungodliness (negative volition) and unrighteousness (immoral twist) he suppresses the knowledge of God and in its place he inserts his own idea of origins; he deifies himself or sees himself as evolving and becoming god-like in the vanity of his own darkened imaginations and satanic delusions ( Genesis 3:3; Romans 1:18; Romans 1:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Through the moral twist by which man rejects the light, he looks at the created universe and comes up with such ideas as the doctrine of uniformitarianism (the theory that all geologic phenomena may be explained as the result of existing forces having operated uniformly from the origin of the earth to the present time), and based on that, evolution. This becomes man's escape (he thinks) from responsibility to a sovereign God. His claim is that evolution shows us there is no need of God or of the supernatural, i.e, of God who sits on the throne. This is one of man's ways to stifle (sear) his conscience and deny God His sovereign rights.

It is very important to note that the original exponents and writers of the various "isms" nearly always begin from evolutionary presuppositions. This was true with the militarism of Hitler, with Marx and Engels, and with the mystical religions of the East. Julian Huxley, one of the world's most famous evolutionary biologists, said, "Darwinism removed the whole idea of God as the creator of organisms from the sphere of rational discussion. Darwin pointed out that no supernatural designer was needed." [Note: Julian Huxley, Essays of the Humanist, p78.]

So what does all this have to do with this passage? Everything. This whole passage, Revelation 21:1 and following, is dealing with God's sovereignty in creation. Further, it is the belief of modern man and the new age movement that man can make all things new in his brave new world, a world of peace and prosperity.

But what does our passage promise? "Behold, I am making all things new." "Behold" is an aorist imperative of the verb horao„ used as a demonstrative particle to arrest the attention. Literally it connotes the ideas of "discern immediately, pay attention, note this carefully and now." The principle that should be noted Isaiah , only God, the One sitting on the throne, can make all things new.

Then we have "I am making." This is the present tense used as a future present of absolute certainty. This is so certain that it is viewed as even now in the process. And for God who is the eternal I Amos , the Alpha and Omega ( Revelation 21:6), this is so. "Making," the verb poieo„, "to do, make, execute," is used here in the sense of "create" (cf. Acts 4:24 where the same word is used). "New" is the Greek kainos which stresses new in quality.

So John is told "write, for these words are faithful and true." "Write" is an aorist imperative in the Greek which means "do it now," suggesting urgency and importance, i.e, "put it down," it is to become part of revelation and God's special promise for His people. As man can believe the words of Scripture regarding the original creation, so he can believe the words of Scripture regarding the new creation.

In Revelation 21:6 John was told "it is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end." "It is done" is the perfect tense (gegonen) of the verb ginomai, "to come into being, happen, become." Depending on the context, it may mean, "be made, done, performed, etc." The perfect may be used to emphasize the accomplishment of something from which a present state emerges (consummative perfect) or it may stress the results, the present state accomplished by the past action (resultative perfect). The question is to what does this refer? Does it refer to the new creation or, as Walvoord suggests, to "the work accomplished throughout the whole drama of human history prior to the eternal state." [Note: John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press: Chicago, 1966 , p316.] It would seem that the context better supports the new creation. This is the view of the NIV Bible Commentary which says, "Using the same word that declared the judgment of the world finished, God proclaims that He has completed His new creation: ‘It is done'" (cf. Revelation 16:17). [Note: NIV Bible Commentary, electronic version.] Though the new creation is still in the future, these words solidly affirm the creation of all things new as though already accomplished. And what's the basis of this? The sovereign independence and eternality of God as the Alpha and Omega, the first and last word on all things.

Now we see some of the new things enumerated ( Revelation 21:6 b-7).

First, there will be the water of life for all who thirst. Here is the offer of salvation that comes as a free gift, "without cost." "All who thirst" refers to all who recognize their need, the spiritually parched condition of their soul, and come to Christ as the source of the water of life" (cf. John 4:10; John 7:37-39; Isaiah 55:1). "Without cost" means of course, by grace, as God's gift to those who come to Christ by faith ( John 7:38). In this context, "the spring of the water of life" ultimately refers to the complete satisfaction of life that will come to the child of God in the eternal state (cf. Revelation 17:17).

Second, there is the promise of a full inheritance to the one who overcomes ( Revelation 21:7 a). Contextually, the overcomer promises of chapters2,3suggest added blessings and delights, like reigning with Christ for those who faithfully overcome the particular temptations and testings they face. Here the context is different ( Revelation 21:6 b, 7b) and views the overcomer as one who quenches his thirst by simple faith in Christ and, as a result, becomes God's son (cf. 1 John 5:4-5 and Galatians 3:26). All of God's people, Old and New Testament saints alike, will inherit the blessings of the eternal state, nothing will be lacking.

Finally, another special promise is made to the overcomer. He will have complete and unbroken fellowship with God ( Revelation 21:7 b), "and I will be his God and he will be My son."

The Exclusion of Certain Ones from the Eternal State ( Revelation 21:8)

This verse stands as a point of contrast. Heaven will be everything that this life cannot be because of the presence of sin, darkness, sinful behavior, and Satan's ever present activity. Today, one of the great sources of pain and misery is the very presence of those who are characterized by the things listed in Revelation 21:8. By contrast to the believer who inherits these new things, including a glorified resurrected body without the presence of a sinful nature, is the unbeliever who is permanently excluded by the second death, the eternal lake of fire. In contrast to those who will die in their sins and who must, therefore, continue in their evil character, are believers who, in their glorified state, can never be guilty of such sins. This is clearly the point of this passage where the blessed conditions of our eternal future are being described. Just as Satan will not be there to cause misery and pain, so neither will those who commit such sin. The point of this entire section is the perfect purity and absence of anything impure or evil, not even is there the absence of light (cf. Revelation 21:23-25). Nothing unclean can be there (cf. Revelation 21:27).

Revelation 21:8 is often presented as describing the kind of character that disqualifies one from the new Jerusalem and the eternal state. If anyone is characterized by any of the sins listed, then he can't be in the New Jerusalem, etc. But this suggests salvation by works and the immediate context has just emphasized receiving the water of life "without cost." To escape this works mentality, it is sometimes argued that Revelation 21:8 is viewed as giving a general picture of the type of things that characterize the unbeliever and demonstrate his lack of faith in Christ and so also his lack of new life. Because the unbeliever has rejected God and is operating on human viewpoint foundations, these things will often overcome him and characterize his life. Further, it is sometimes pointed out that the terms used here are adjectives and describe a habitual pattern versus an occasional sin. It is then argued that such people are not lost because they habitually do such things, but that they habitually act as they do because they are lost. This is the argument of those who promote the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.

But I personally think this approach misses the point of the passage. In the first place, many unbelievers are not characterized by most of the things listed here. Apart from being "unbelieving," many unbelievers are moral and characterized by integrity, yet they too will be excluded because of their unbelief. Revelation 21:8 is not describing what qualifies or disqualifies people from the standpoint of their behavior while here on earth, but showing what kind of people cannot be a part of the eternal kingdom in the future.

Bob Wilkin of Grace Evangelical Society has a perspective on this passage that better fits the context and thrust of Revelation 21:8. He writes:

It is a mistake to think that this verse is describing the way the unsaved behave here and now. The verse says nothing about the current behavior of believers or unbelievers. Rather, it concerns the eternal sinfulness of unbelievers.

A parallel passage is John 8:24 : "If you do not believe that I am Hebrews , you will die in your sins." Unbelievers die in a state of sinfulness. Forever they remain sinners. Believers, however, do not remain in a state of sinfulness because they are justified by faith: "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin" ( Romans 4:8; see also vv1-7 and Romans 8:33-34).

Revelation 21:8 says nothing about whether believers actually sin prior to death or not. Of course we know that they do. However, that is not in view in Revelation 21:8. What is actually in view is the continued unregenerate and unjustified state of the lost. Because unbelievers upon death are sealed permanently as those who are unjustified, they remain sinners in God's sight forever.

There will be no sinners and no sin in the new heavens and the new earth. According to 1 John 3:2, "when He is revealed, we shall be like Him."

It is interesting to note that this basic message is found three times in Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-21 ( Revelation 21:8; Revelation 21:27; and Revelation 22:15), the section of the book dealing with the eternal kingdom. A comparison of these three passages, and particularly the first and last, supports the conclusion that the sinful state of those in hell is what is in view…

Conclusion

If the kingdom contained those still in a sinful state, it would not be as glorious as God intends. That would put an eternal damper on the joy the Lord Himself and we, His subjects, could experience.

Revelation 21:8 should be a joyous verse for us. Those who interpret it to mean that we need to examine our behavior to see if we are saved (or if we are still saved) have robbed it of its joy and replaced it with works-salvation gloom.

The kingdom will be truly joyful because everyone in it will be holy and sinless. [Note: "Grace In Focus," September1993. This is from the newsletter published by Grace Evangelical Society. Check out their web site at www.faithalone.org.]

The Description of the New Jerusalem
(
Revelation 21:9-21)

9 And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper12It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel13There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west14And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb15 And the one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall16 And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements18 And the material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

John has given us a brief look at some of the glories of eternity in Revelation 21:1-8. One such glory is the new Jerusalem adorned like a bride. So now in21:9-22:5 more details are given about this glorious city, the eternal home of the redeemed. Revelation 21:9-21 will be a general description of the construction of the city. Then in21:22-22:5 we are given a look at some of the special spiritual and physical delights of our eternal home.

The General, Overall Description ( Revelation 21:9-11)

As a Bride, the Wife of the Lamb ( Revelation 21:9-10)

"And one of the seven angels…" ( Revelation 21:9). As this verse shows, this angel's ministry was one of severe judgment, a judgment which from our standpoint is still future, but here his ministry is one revealing doctrinal truth to John , a much more enjoyable task.

"The bride, the wife of the Lamb" is a description, as Revelation 21:10 shows us, of the new Jerusalem which is again seen coming down out of heaven from God. Why is the new Jerusalem called the bride, the wife of the Lamb? In Revelation 21:2 we are told the city was "made ready as a bride adorned for her husband," but here new Jerusalem is called the bride. There are at least two reasons for this: the first is seen, as suggested in Revelation 21:2, in the beautiful analogy of the figure of a bride. Though dealing with the church and her responsibility in witnessing Joseph Aldrich has nicely captured the picture. He says:

Ideally, a bride is the epitome of all that is right and beautiful. She is a symbol of purity, hope, purpose, trust, love, beauty, and wholeness in a world pock-marked with ugliness. The bride motif, found in both testaments, is used by God to illustrate His strategy for attracting mankind to the availability of his life changing grace. [Note: Joseph C. Aldrich, Life Style Evangelism, Multnomah Press: Portland, 1978 , p25.]

So God calls new Jerusalem the bride, the wife of the Lamb, because as (a) the Lord is making his bride, the church, spotless and pure ( Ephesians 5:26-27), so he will make beautiful the new Jerusalem, (b) as marriage is permanent, so will be the new city, and (c) as a bride is beautiful and gloriously adorned, so will be the new city.

Second, though the new Jerusalem will eventually be the home of all the redeemed, it will first be the home of the church, the bride of Christ, who will also be on display during the Millennium, the marriage feast. Remember, this is the home that He is preparing for us ( John 14:2-3).

"And he carried me away in the spirit" ( Revelation 21:10) refers to a special spiritual state, a trance-like condition into which John was often taken in order to receive special revelation from God for this book (cf. Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 17:3). This goes beyond the general filling or control of the Spirit.

Then again John sees the "holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven." Some think that because of the second mention of the city coming down out of heaven "this section describes the city's relation to the millennial state. In other words there seems to be two descents of the city, Revelation 21:1-8 being the one in relation to eternity, and Revelation 21:9-27; Revelation 22:1-5 the one in relation to the Millennium." [Note: Ryrie, Revelation , p120.] Walvoord on the other hand says, "A preferred interpretation, however, is that the passage continues to describe the new Jerusalem as it will be in the eternal state. Obviously the city would be much the same in either case…" [Note: John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, " Revelation ," Scripture Press: Wheaton, IL, 1983 , 1985 , p985.] As mentioned earlier, the city will exist in the Millennium and will probably hover over the earth, perhaps above the earthly Jerusalem rather than descending to settle upon the earth as suggested earlier.

As a Costly Stone…Gloriously Beautiful ( Revelation 21:11)

The glory which the new city displays is God's glory, it Isaiah , as with all creation, a derived beauty. The new city perfectly reflects and manifests the glory of God in all His holy perfection and essence.

"Having" is a present of a continual state or condition. This city will constantly have and manifest the perfection's of God's being. It can and will remain beautiful because (a) all the enemies of God will have been permanently removed, and (b) because all the saints, unlike Adam and Eve, will have perfect, absolute, eternal holiness and life.

"Her brilliance was like…" "Brilliance" is the Greek pho„ste„r, "a luminary, a light, that which shines." Here the word is used of a dazzling and brilliant light which is like the light and brilliance given off from an exquisite and costly stone.

"Jasper" is the Greek iaspis which was a light sky blue or green stone, primarily light green. "Crystal clear" is from a verb that means "to shine like crystal." There are two points of truth we might note here:

(1) This city, the eternal abode of the saints, will give out a dazzling display of the glory of God. It will be more beautiful and exquisite than words can describe. This teaches us that everything in eternity will redound to the glory of God and will demonstrate God's eternal love and care for His saints. Oh, what a Savior!

(2) Precious jewels are reflectors. By themselves they give off no light. When a jeweler wants to properly display the true brilliance of a precious gem he will often display it on a piece of black velvet cloth in order to more efficiently reflect the light shining upon the gem. The city, as it should be with believers today, will be but a reflection of the glory of God Himself who inhabits the city (cf. Revelation 21:23 with Ephesians 5:8 f; and Philippians 2:15).

The More Detailed Description ( Revelation 21:12-21)

The Wall and the Gates of the City ( Revelation 21:12-14)

Literally the Greek text has, "it had a wall, great and high." The fact of a wall with its emphatic description "great and high" emphasizes the city and that all those within will be absolutely secure. Here, unlike the Garden of Eden, there can be no invasion or temptation. The wall, great and high, would also bring out the total exclusion of all unbelievers (cf. Revelation 21:8).

Then we see that the city has12gates and at the gates12angels. The gates are named after the12tribes of Israel, with three gates at each side of the city, east, north, south, and west. The angels are perhaps honor guards which would again stress the security of the city as well as its glory. Ezekiel 48:31-34 may give the pattern for naming the gates. The Jerusalem described in Ezekiel 48:1-35 is the millennial Jerusalem and is probably different from this one. It will be the earthly Jerusalem into which any millennial resident can come, but into this Jerusalem, only glorified saints can come. The fact of the gates also indicates there will be free travel in and out of the city.

Notice that the number12is very predominant in this city; it has12gates named after the12tribes, 12angels, 12foundation stones inscribed with the names of the12apostles, 12pearls, 12kinds of fruit, a wall144cubits ( Revelation 12:1-17 x12), and the height, width, and length Isaiah 12 ,000 stadia, about15 ,000 miles.

The fact that the gates are named after the12tribes of Israel and that the foundation stones are inscribed with the names of the12apostles of the church should clearly show that both Israel (Old Testament saints), and the church will be a part of this city, yet note that they still remain distinct groups within the people of God.

The Dimensions of the City ( Revelation 21:15-17)

"A gold measuring rod…" Everything about the city is beautiful and valuable, even the rule with which it is measured. A measuring rod was normally ten feet long. But why is it measured and why these measurements? God is infinite and without limits or measurements, but Prayer of Manasseh , even with his glorified body, is still but a creature, absolutely not God, and therefore limited. As such, this demonstrates the glory and holiness of God (cf. Ezekiel 43:12).

The city is in the shape of a square and is either a cube or a pyramid. The description of Revelation 21:16 can fit either. Regardless, the balance of the shape implies perfection and reminds us of the vastness of God's love for us in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3:16 b-19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Regarding Revelation 21:17 Walvoord says, "The reference to man's measurement simply means that though an angel is using the rod, he is using human dimensions." [Note: Walvoord/Zuck, p986.]

When one compares the size of the city with its wall, the wall seems extremely small. Why? Probably because the wall is symbolic. There are really no enemies to keep out. It will never again be possible for a fall or rebellion to occur because every enemy will have been defeated.

No matter what the shape, a city of this size would be necessary to hold the redeemed of all ages. In fact some have said that even a city of this size could not hold that many people. But remember the city is as high as it is wide and long, and it is not necessary to hold that all will at all times be living in the city. Many will be perhaps in various parts of the new universe carrying out responsibilities for the Lord.

The Materials of the City ( Revelation 21:18-21)

"Jasper" usually refers to green quartz. "Pure gold like clear glass" is solid gold yet transparent like crystal with a gold cast to it ( Revelation 21:21). This constant reference to the transparency of the city shows us it is designed to transmit the glory of God to every nook and cranny.

Again compare Ephesians 3:16-18. As the believer grows in the fourfold knowledge of God's love in all categories of truth, Christ becomes more and more at home in our lives, filling every area.

"Every kind of precious stones" ( Revelation 21:19). This serves to stress the absolute and infinite beauty of this city. "Adorned" is a perfect participle of kosmeo„, "to adorn, be well arranged." "Jasper" is primarily green, "sapphire" blue, "chalcedony" green, "emerald" green, "sardonyx" brown and white, "sardius" red, "chrysolyte" yellow, "beryl" green, "togas" yellow, "chrysoprasus" (or chrysophrase) apple green, "jacinth" blue, "amethyst" purple, "pearls" white.

The emphasis of the passage is on the priceless value and beauty of our eternal home and on the immeasurable grace of God. Our inheritance is beyond our comprehension. Truly, with such a future inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled, and that will not fade away, reserved and kept by the power of God, certainly we should live now as sojourners with a view to our eternal home (cf. 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 Peter 1:7-18; 1 Peter 2:11).

Special Delights of the New City
(
Revelation 21:22-27; Revelation 22:1-5)

22And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple23And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb24And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it25 And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed; 26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations3And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; 4and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads5 And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.

The Temple of the City ( Revelation 21:22)

John now turns from the description of the city to life within the city. Johnson points out:

… in antiquity every notable city had at least one central temple. The New Jerusalem not only differs in this respect from ancient cities, but also from all Jewish speculation about the age to come. Illuminated by the overflowing radiance of the presence of the glory of God, the holy city no longer needs a temple (naos). Yet paradoxically, it has a temple, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple ( Revelation 21:22). [Note: NIV Bible Commentary, electronic version, quoting Alan Johnson, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol12 , Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1981 , p597.]

This verse stands in stark contrast to the rest of Scripture. In the Old Testament there was the need of the tabernacle and the temple and their shadows of things eternal--things which spoke not only of the Lamb as the access into God's presence, but of the eternal holy dwelling place of God. In the Old Testament the tabernacle and temple, that which spoke of the very dwelling place of God, was the Holy of Holies (the naos). In the church age the believer himself becomes the temple, the "naos" of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:19). But this indwelling of the Spirit is only an arrabo„n, a down payment, a partial experience of things to come ( Ephesians 1:14).

The word "temple" here in Revelation 21:1-27 is naos. In the eternal state there will be no need of some special temple, some special sanctuary, because believers, the saved of all ages, will be in the absolute, undiminished and intimate presence of the Almighty Sovereign God and the Lamb. The Father and Son themselves are the temple in that men will be living in the midst of the unveiled glory of God. "Lamb" is used of Jesus Christ to stress the fact that we are there because of his work as the Lamb of God. "Almighty" is used to stress that our being there is a result of His all powerful and sovereign plan of grace which has perfectly provided for our salvation.

The Light of the City ( Revelation 21:23-24)

Again we have a contrast. In fact everything about the eternal state can be nothing but a glorious contrast to what we know today on this earth. The contrast consists in part in the things which are missing. Walvoord points out that "there will be no temple, no sacrifice, no sun, no moon, no darkness, no gates to shut, no abomination." [Note: Walvoord, The Revelation p326.] We might also add that there will be nothing hidden (everything will be transparent), no shadows, no sin, no sorrows, no pain, no sickness, no disappointments.

Actually the passage does not say that there will be no sun or moon, only that there will be no need of the sun and moon because the glory of God will illuminate the city. The sun and moon in comparison with the light of the glory of God will be like turning on an outdoor light in the broad light of the sun in our world today.

The word "has" in the phrase "has no need" is a present tense of continual action. The implication is that our eternal state will never have need of either because it will be always illumined by the unveiled radiance of the glory of God's personal presence. God's manifested glory will be the source of light. That God Himself would be the Light of the city is entirely fitting with the rest of Scripture ( John 1:7-9; John 3:19; John 8:12; John 12:35; 1 John 1:5; Romans 13:12; Hebrews 1:3). This refers to both physical and spiritual light.

Remember that in the earthly tabernacle and temple there was artificial lighting in the holy place, the seven-branched lampstand which spoke of Christ as the Light of the world. Yet, even in the Holy of Holies, there was no such lighting because the Shekinah glory of God gave it its light, the light of God's own presence. In the eternal city, the entire city will be the temple, the dwelling place of God with the radiance of God's glory radiating throughout the city in all its transparent beauty.

Scripture repeatedly makes application of this contrast, and you know, it is important that we remember this. Today is a time of darkness, a time of night because of the presence of sin, Satan, sorrow, death and man's viewpoint. But all believers are positionally lights in the Lord, and by our new spiritual capacity and position we are of the day ( 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8; Philippians 2:15; Romans 13:12 with Ephesians 5:8 f, Romans 13:13-14). So we are exhorted and commanded to walk in the light, to manifest light now because of our glorious future in the city of light. Let us live now in a manner consistent with our future, that we might see others brought out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of God's beloved Son ( Colossians 1:12-13).

The great principle which should be determinative and dominating in our behavior, goals, priorities and values is that the quality of our future life in the eternal city is such that it makes even the best of this life seem as only darkness. What a motivation this should be to us to live as sojourners, to persevere through the many trials of this life, and to be totally committed to our Lord. Our life in the eternal state will be everything this life cannot be. It will be a life untouched by death, unstained by evil, and unimpaired by time.

1 Peter 1:4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

The Nations and the City ( Revelation 21:24)

First, "the nations will walk by its light." Light undoubtedly has both a physical and a spiritual meaning and application here. For the first time in history men will walk totally by the physical and spiritual light of God's direction. The light of God's divine essence, His Wisdom of Solomon , love, power, etc, will direct our every step, thought, deed and action. There will be no stumbling, only walking steadfastly in the righteousness and joy of God.

Second, Alan Johnson reminds us:

Elsewhere in Revelation , the nations (ethne„) are pagan, rebellious peoples of the world who trample the holy city…and who have become drunk with the wine of Babylon… . The same description applies to the kings of the earth. But there is another use of these terms in Revelation. They stand for the peoples of the earth who are the servants of Christ, the redeemed nations who follow the Lamb and have resisted the beast and Babylon ( Revelation 1:5; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 19:16; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 12:5). [Note: Alan Johnson, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol12 , Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1981 , p598.]

John is looking at the second group here. Ethnos, the word for nations, is the Greek word for non-Jewish races, the Gentiles. John could also simply be saying that believers of non-Jewish races will also be living in the new city. In the eternal city there will be saved Israelites, the church, the bride of Christ, and multitudes of Gentiles from Old Testament and Tribulation times.

Third, the kings of the earth will bring their glory into the city. This most likely means: (a) that there will be those among the eternally saved who will have special places of honor and responsibility, like kings, as a part of their reward for service on earth, and (b) that they will bring their glory into the city, that Isaiah , like the24elders who cast their crowns before the throne, they will recognize that their glory and honor came from the Lord. They will attach no glory to themselves, but bring it into the city in recognition of God and His glory as the source of theirs. Here is the perspective of grace. He must increase, I must decrease, and I am what I am by the grace of God.

Access to the City ( Revelation 21:25-27)

As a precaution to a surprise enemy attack, in ancient times all gates to the city were closed. But due to the permanent light, the fact there will be no night or darkness but only light, these gates will never be closed and movement in and out of the city never be stopped. Here is a picture of the social life of the city, bustling with activity. This also points to the fact of constant and unbroken fellowship with the Lord. No one will ever walk in darkness again. One final fact here about no night; in our glorified body we will need no rest, so our lives will be full of continuous activity in the service of God. No one will ever be bored and no one will ever become tired. Can you imagine?

Finally, the emphasis of Revelation 21:27 as it pertains to nothing unclean is simply a reiteration of the promise of21:8. It will be a place inhabited only by those who have been justified and transformed by the grace of God, sinless and in glorified bodies.

The Physical
Provisions of the New Jerusalem
(
Revelation 22:1-3)

1And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations3And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him;

The River of the Water of Life ( Revelation 22:1)

Here is paradise regained. What man lost in Genesis is regained by the Lamb. In the Garden of Eden there was a river which flowed through the garden and a tree of life. So here in paradise regained we see both a river of the waters of life and a tree of life. One thing is noticeably different however. Here there is no tree of the knowledge of good and evil for here there is no possibility of invasion and rebellion again. God alone will be man's life and his source of the knowledge of good. Man will never again try to become God.

Revelation 22:1 begins with "and he showed me." This is the Greek verb deiknumi which means "to show, exhibit, or make known." This word is used eight times in this book of the disclosure of truth to John or to the bondservants of the Lord ( Revelation 1:1; Revelation 4:1; Revelation 17:1; Revelation 21:9-10; Revelation 22:1; Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:8). As you can see the verb occurs three times in this concluding chapter. This again serves to remind us of how, as finite and sinful man we are totally in need of God's supernatural Revelation , the Bible, in order to know about the things of God, "things which eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of Prayer of Manasseh , all that God has prepared for those who love Him." ( 1 Corinthians 2:9). Please note that 1 Corinthians 2:9 indicates that the quality of life of our future as seen in Revelation 21:1-27 is only a small part of the picture, much more awaits us!

The words "the river of the water of life" are literally "a river of water, of life." This entire phrase is anarthrous, without any articles. As such it stresses the quality and character of this river above all other bodies of water. "Of life" points out what kind of river it Isaiah , a life-giving river. This symbolically portrays the abundance of life which God and the Lamb will provide in the eternal city.

Notice that the river is "clear as crystal." The word "clear" is the Greek lampros meaning "bright, shining" and stresses the beauty and purity of the river in keeping with the character of God and of the new Jerusalem. The water will literally sparkle like beautiful crystal glass. The present indwelling of the Holy Spirit whom our Lord likened to rivers of living water from within our beings anticipates the river of life and our then limitless experience of abundance of life ( John 8:37-39). Do you think you know joy, happiness and peace in the Lord now? Well, as the expression goes, "you ain't seen nothin' yet!"

"Coming down from the throne of God and of the Lamb" points us to the source of the river and the ever constant abundance of life which the river portrays. This portrays the doctrine of procession, which is an attempt to explain the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the other two persons of the trinity. The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to indwell our lives and to constantly provide God's special blessing of abundance of life (cf. John 14:16-17; John 15:26; John 16:7; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:9).

This picture of the river from the throne of God and the Lamb also teaches us the following: (a) the throne speaks of God's sovereignty and reminds us that our salvation stems from God's sovereign power, wisdom and grace ( Ephesians 1:3-11), and (b) by that the throne belongs to both God the Father and the Lamb. This shows the Lamb is still on the throne in the eternal state though in a different way than in the millennial kingdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

Perhaps we can illustrate it as follows. There is a partnership of three in a corporation. A problem develops and the three partners devise a plan to which all agree. One partner goes off and executes the plan (i.e, the Lord Jesus Christ). A second partner reveals the plan to the employees (i.e, the Holy Spirit). After the plan is resolved, the partner who executed the plan returns and turns everything back over to the partnership in which all three are equal partners so that the partners together might be all in all.

The Tree of Life ( Revelation 22:2)

We have had reference to a river of life and now to a tree of life which bears fruit and leaves for health. This poses a question. Does man have to drink and eat to live? Is it necessary for life? Jesus Christ ate and drank with His disciples after His resurrection in His glorified body. He could eat and did, but it wasn't necessary to sustain the life of His glorified body. At least there is no indication of that from Scripture. If Song of Solomon , He would have to eat to sustain His physical body or humanity at the right hand of the Father. This does not seem to fit with Scripture. Believers will have a glorified body just like His after the resurrection (cf. , Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:42-43; 1 Corinthians 15:52-54; 1 John 3:2). The impact of these Scriptures is that we will have an imperishable, glorified body that will not need food for sustenance after resurrection. However, the literal tree and river will be there as symbols of the abundant life that will exist in the eternal state. All men will drink of these waters and eat of this fruit evidently as an act of testimony and faith in the perpetuity or eternality of this abundant life. In Revelation 2:7 eating of the tree of life is a promise to those who overcome. In the context of all the overcomer passages of Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22, it may refer to some kind of superlative experience and blessing as a reward for faithfulness. Perhaps that promise is made as a reminder and a motivation to overcome the testings of this life because they simply cannot compare to the blessings to come.

In essence, the fact the tree of life is there means to be in eternity and to possess eternal life. In Genesis 3:22-24 access is forbidden because this would have perpetuated man's mortal body with an old sin nature. So in grace, Adam and his progeny were prevented from eating of the tree. But it was different for Adam because he had a mortal, perishable body. Perhaps for us it will be much like the Lord's Supper, a memorial of our eternal life in Christ.

When you first read the description of the tree of life in Revelation 22:2, it appears to say that the tree is in the middle of the street and on either side of the river. A better translation is "in between the broad street and the river, on each side a tree of life" (i.e, the river on one side and the street on the other). Tree singular could be collective for trees plural (cf. Ezekiel 47:12). Also "on either side" could possibly mean extending, or hanging over one side and then the other.

The point is that this tree is a special attraction and has very special meaning. Why? Because of its12kinds of fruit produced every month. It will stand as a special memorial and symbol of the continuousness of our eternal and abundant life and of the various aspects of our eternal life in all its wonderful blessings.

The word "tree" is xulon. It means a piece of wood or an object fashioned out of wood and was used of the cross ( Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; Acts 13:29; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). The tree, its fruit and leaves, may also be a perpetual reminder of the cost of our spiritual blessing and eternal health. The same thing is true with the Lord's Supper.

Finally we read "and the leaves for the healing of nations." "Healing" is the Greek therapeia from which we get our word therapeutic. It means literally "service, care." The idea here is health-giving. Again men will not need to use the leaves medicinally to stay healthy, as they have throughout history. Rather they will be used in some way as a memorial of the fact that the cross--Christ being cursed on the tree for us--is the means of our eternal health (physically and spiritually).

Note the words in Revelation 22:3, "no more curse. " The tree will stand for the removal of our spiritual sickness by the Lord Jesus Christ, being made a curse for us (cf. 1 Peter 2:24 for the scriptural picture).

The Throne of God and the Service of the Servants ( Revelation 22:3)

"No more curse" is literally "and all the curse shall no longer be." This is designed to stress again the absolute blessedness of this city and our eternal state in which there is absolutely no trace left of the curse of Adam's sin, Satan's rebellion, and our failures.

The throne with the servants serving points to an important principle. We stand in relation to God as sons, but we are also bondslaves who serve Him. The principle here is that eternity will not be a time of eternal idleness and uselessness, but a time when every person will be involved in a special vocation of service and activity for the Trinity. "Serve" is in a present tense and stresses the continuousness of our ministry. The Greek word here is latreuo„ which is used primarily of divine service and worship. This teaches us that we will be totally engaged in the service of the sovereign of the universe, never to be side-tracked by personal weaknesses or needs. As His bondslaves all our needs will be perfectly provided.

Thus, the word "Him" as the object of the word "serve" is a dative of advantage in the Greek. Contextually, it means we shall serve for Him and always for His glory. Today our service and activity for the Lord is often distracted and often not for His advantage. We fail and we foul up again and again. But then it will always be for the glory and advantage of God.

The Perfect Fellowship of the New City ( Revelation 22:4-5)

Perfect Sight Via Face-to-Face Fellowship ( Revelation 22:4 a)

Right after the mention of service to the Lord we read, "and they shall see His face." Isn't this often what we lack today in our service for the Savior? Even though our Lord promises us, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" ( Matthew 28:20 b), and "… He Himself said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you'" ( Hebrews 13:5 b), in the pressures of service and the everyday trials of this life, our problem is often precisely in this very area; we fail to see the face of our Lord or to count on His presence, comfort, and support. We become occupied with our problems and fail to see Jesus and look unto Him (cf. Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 12:1-2 with Psalm 16:7-11).

The face of our Lord in His ministry among men must have been a face which spoke volumes because of His character, control, love, sympathy, and understanding. Remember that the third time Peter denied the Lord during His trials, Luke tells us that "the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord…and he went out and wept bitterly" ( Luke 22:61-62). The Lord only looked at Peter, but His face and those eyes said it all. One of the most important elements of communication and fellowship is not only what we say, but the way we say them, our tone of voice, and especially facial expressions. The telephone and written notes or letters are wonderful mediums of expression and communication, but nothing compares with face-to-face fellowship to communicate love, sympathy and support, or encouragement.

The word "see" in this clause is a future indicative which in Greek grammar points to a real future experience for every believer, no ifs, buts, or maybes. Today in time, seeing the Lord through our fellowship with Him in His Word, staying occupied with His divine essence and work in our lives through the promises of the Word is full of ‘ifs' because of our own failures. Today, focusing our hearts and minds on the Lord is a wonderful potential through eyes of faith and confidence in the promises of the Word, but it is still full of the ‘ifs' of whether or not we will look unto Jesus, keep our eyes on Him. But not in eternity. With our service then, there will always be the smiling and loving face of the Savior.

The word "see" is the Greek horao„ which is used of both physical and spiritual (or mental) vision. Both are involved here. For the first time man in the eternal city and state will have an absolute and undiminished perspective of God both physically and spiritually.

So "seeing His face" stands first for being face to face with the Lord, in His very presence. It means having perfect fellowship and clear understanding and illumination by the light of His countenance. It stands for a fellowship and understanding which is unblemished by our ignorance, or sins, or prejudices, or preoccupations with personalities, or anything else that might dim the light or distort the truth to our eyes or minds.

Today in Scripture, God uses anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms so we can understand ideas about what God is like. But then we will be in the direct presence of God with no fog or blurs to dim our vision of God. Today we believe in and teach the doctrine of the trinity. We know it, teach it, illustrate it, and believe it, but who can truly say he understands it? But then we will.

A Perfect Name and Identification ( Revelation 22:4 b)

"And His name shall be on their foreheads" (cf. Revelation 7:3; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12). The name on the forehead stands as a seal and proof of ownership and belongingness. It will be our identification and guarantee that we are the Lord's and belong to the eternal city, qualified to be there by the work of the Lamb. To help grasp the significance of this, note the following four points:

(1) Those who took the mark of the beast on their foreheads ( Revelation 13:16) as a sign of their obedience and worship of the beast had their names removed from the Lamb's book of life ( Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 19:20).

(2) The mark of the beast was either his name, a counterfeit to God's name, or his number, 666 ( Revelation 13:17).

(3) In Revelation 13:18 men are warned to carefully calculate the number of the beast and its meaning for no matter how far you carry out the number666 it never becomes seven, the number of perfection, the number of God (cf. Romans 3:23).

(4) Those who have the mark of the beast fall short and are excluded from the eternal city, but those who have the name of God are accepted and belong to the eternal city because they are there through faith in the person and work of the Lamb.

Perfect Light and Illumination ( Revelation 22:5 a)

Again we have an emphasis on the light or illuminating character of the eternal city (cf. Revelation 21:11; Revelation 21:23; Revelation 21:25). All light in the city will come directly from God's presence which means: (a) the light in the new city will be perfect and complete (total). God who is absolute Light and in whom there is no darkness at all ( 1 John 1:5) can allow no darkness in the eternal city of His presence. (b) All the past sources of light, which were partial at best, will be rendered inoperative or superseded by the perfection and infinite light of the personal presence of God Himself; this includes both physical and spiritual light. So our passage says, "and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun." Why? "Because the Lord shall illumine them." As I sit at my desk writing this it is late morning, the sun is high, yet its light is dimmed because of fog and cloudy skies, but no such conditions can occur in the eternal city of God's glorious presence either physically or spiritually.

Perfect Exaltation ( Revelation 22:5 b)

"And they (the saints) shall reign forever and ever." Why is this inserted here? I believe there is an important connection. Man originally lost his capacity to reign over the creation of God because he listened to the one of darkness. Our reigning with the Lord in the eternal state proceeds from our fellowship and from the illuminating presence of God and from this there can and will be no break or interference.

In summary of this section of Revelation , what do we have in the eternal and blessed city of the New Jerusalem?

(1) Perfect restoration (no more curse, paradise regained),

(2) Perfect administration (the very throne of God and the Lamb shall be on it),

(3) Perfect subordination (His servants shall serve Him),

(4) Perfect transformation (the saints shall see His face and we shall be like Him [ 1 John 3:2]),

(5) Perfect identification (His Name on our foreheads),

(6) Perfect illumination (He Himself shall illumine us),

(7) Perfect exaltation (we shall reign forever and ever).

Here are seven perfect conditions pointing to one absolutely perfect state. Hallelujah, what a Savior! How great is our salvation in Christ!!!


Verses 6-21

Revelation 22:6-21
(See the Book Comments for the Introductory chapters and Appendices)

Lesson31:
The Epilogue
(
Revelation 22:6-21)

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

6 And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place7 "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."

8 And I, John , am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things9 And he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God."

10 And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near11 "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy." 12 "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done13 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." 14Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."

The Promise of Faithfulness ( Revelation 22:6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note three things here about this blessed promise:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For church age saints, finding happiness and spiritual joy through the words of this prophecy involves such things as: (a) Observing the warnings of Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22 to the church, warnings against dead, cold orthodoxy, apostasy, immorality, materialism, etc. (b) Living constantly in light of the presence of Christ in our midst and of His imminent coming, knowing that our work in the Lord is never in vain. (c) Carrying on a vital witness, having an open door to the unbelieving world in view of the coming Tribulation and the lake of fire that we might see men snatched from hell ( Jude 1:23). (d) Living as sojourners who refuse to become bogged down with materialism and who live with a view to the eternal city. (e) Enduring the trials of this life during this age of darkness, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the glory which is to follow. (f) Remembering that God's plan is being accomplished, that He is sovereign and still on the throne as we see this old world moving farther and farther away from the Lord and the absolutes of His Word.

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

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

The Response to the Message ( Revelation 22:8)

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

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

Again, as in , John is overawed by the things the angel had revealed to him. In the process, he again lost the biblical perspective and fell down to worship at the feet of the angelic messenger. The repetition of this (see19:10) brings out the impending and imminent threat of this problem for both the messenger and the messengeree. The message of God's Word is designed to focus us on the Lord and to enhance our worship of Him, but, if we are not careful we can lose sight of this in our excitement and appreciation of the Word and get our eyes on the messenger. When this happens we can, if we are not careful, become guilty of the carnal divisiveness of the Corinthians (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:11-13; 3:3-4; 4:6-7; 1 Corinthians 10:12).

The Rebuke of the Messenger ( Revelation 22:9)

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

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

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

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

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

If the warnings of the book are not sufficient, there is no more that God has to say. The wicked must continue in their wicked way and be judged by the Lord when He comes. The same rule, however, applies to the righteous. Their reaction to the prophecy, of course, will be different, but the exhortation in their case is to continue in righteousness and holiness. It is an either/or proposition with no neutrality possible. There is a sense also in which present choices fix character; a time is coming when change will be impossible. Present choices will become permanent in character. [Note: John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press: Chicago, 1966 , p334-335.]

The Promise of Reward at the Lord's Coming ( Revelation 22:12)

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

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

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

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

The Promise and Statement of Christ's Eternality ( Revelation 22:13)

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

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

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

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

Some translations read "who do His commandments" instead of "who wash their robes," but the older manuscripts have the reading of the NASB and NIV. This is also the most accurate theologically. The reference here is to those who qualify for entrance into the city where they have the right to the tree of life. Though obedience to the commandments of the Lord should be a characteristic of believers, and may even give evidence of one's faith, entrance into eternity is obtained by faith alone in the person and work of Christ, not by obedience or works ( Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; John 3:16).

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

By contrast, unbelievers, who are excluded, are described in Revelation 22:15 in terms which bring out the habitual character that they are left with because, having failed to believe in the Savior, they must continue in their sin ( John 8:24). The unregenerate remain in their unregenerate condition and character throughout eternity, and the promise is that our eternal home cannot be contaminated by the evil of those with such character as we see every day in our present world. Not only are they excluded from the eternal city and fellowship with God, but they remain in the misery and unhappiness of their fallen state, itself, a judgment of the greatest magnitude. One of the joys the true believer looks forward to is release from his sinful state, the loss of the sinful nature. Read and study carefully Romans 8:18-30 with6:15-25.

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

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

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

Second, though much of this book will occur after the church is gone ( Revelation 3:10), it is for us to know and understand. This information is important to our spiritual equilibrium. It aids our understanding of the future and shows us where the present world is going. It gives greater perspective for what is really important today (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25; Titus 2:11 f). Should this not cause us all to be more involved in reaching the lost for Christ as our next verse, Revelation 22:17, will show? Please note, this is the first occurrence of the term "church," the Greek ekkle„sia since chapter3. This indicates that the church is not in the Tribulation. Remember that chapters6 through19 , which deal with the Tribulation, also deals with Israel. It is the time of Jacob's trouble and Daniel's70th week. For this reason the church is not present or mentioned.

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

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

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

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

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

"Come" is a present imperative, used perhaps like an aoristic present meaning, "come today." It is an invitation for men to come to Christ. It reminds us of the concept of Isaiah 55:6 "Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near," Psalm 32:6 "Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found," and2Corinthians6:2b "… behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,' behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.'" This expresses the responsibility of believers to invite men to Christ and of the responsibility and need of those invited to respond.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Christ, the logos, the revelation of God, has born witness to man of the truth. He did this first in the Old Testament Scriptures, then by His incarnation and life among men which was culminated and authenticated by the testimony of His death, resurrection, resurrection appearances, and ascension. Then He sent the Holy Spirit and the canon of Scripture was gradually completed--being completed with this book of Revelation before A.D90. So here He not only guards the words of the book, but absolutely declares Himself as the witness and guarantee of these things.

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

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

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

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

The Offense

"If anyone adds to them," i.e, to the words of this prophecy. There are other solemn warnings in the Bible about tampering with God's Word ( Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 1:3). Alan Johnson writes:

These verses should not be taken as a warning against adding anything to the Bible. Early interpreters understood them as a warning to false prophets not to alter the sense of John's prophecy--i.e, Revelation (so Irenaeus Contra Haereses302)… Revelation 22:18-20 are a strong warning against any who would tamper with the contexts of "this book" (Rev), either textually or in its moral and theological teaching (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22) [Note: Alan Johnson, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol12 , Frank E. Gaebelein, general editor, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, pp602-603.]

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

No one can dare add to the Word of God except in blatant unbelief and denial that the Word is indeed God's own message to man. Likewise, no one should dare take away from the words of the book, since to do so is to do despite to the inspired Word of God. What a solemn warning this is to critics who have tampered with this book and other portions of Scripture in arrogant self-confidence that they are equipped intellectually and spiritually to determine what is true and what is not true in the Word of God. Though not stated in detail, the point of these two verses is that a child of God who reveres Him will recognize at once that this is the Word of God. [Note: Walvoord, p338.]

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

The Penalty

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

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

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

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

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

The Penalty

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

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

The Benediction
(
Revelation 22:20-21)

20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

These final words of testimony are yet another declaration of the promise of Christ's imminent return: "Surely I come quickly." With this announcement, in contrast to those in Revelation 22:7 and Revelation 22:12, this declaration adds the word "Yes," which is the Greek nai, "yea, verily," a particle noting an affirmation, agreement, or emphasis. To strengthen this even more, this declaration is followed by the word "Amen" (Greek, ame„n) often translated "verily, truly."

The announcement "I come quickly" is therefore buttressed before and after by words used to emphasize the certainty of it. With the word amen, however, John begins his own prayer of response to this announcement: "Even Song of Solomon , come, Lord Jesus." Though the book of Revelation concerns itself with a broad expanse of divine dealing with men including the time of Tribulation, the millennium, and the eternal state, for John the important event is the coming of the Lord for him at the rapture of the church. For this his heart longs, not only because he is on the bleak Island of Patmos in suffering and exile but because of the glorious prospect which his eyes have beheld and his ears have heard. [Note: Walvoord, p338-339.]

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

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

But now Christ has come and put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And, although the book of The Revelation has had to uncover the fearful rebellion of the earth, and the necessary and dire judgments of God; yet upon those who have believed, to His saints, the benediction of divine favor rests. Just as Christ lifted up His hands and blessed them over against Bethany, at His ascension, so all His saints are now--under his pierced, uplifted hands of blessing. Amen. [Note: William R. Newell, The Book of Revelation , Moody Press: Chicago, 1966 , p369.]

A conclusion such as this is wholly appropriate for this prophetic message addressed to the ancient church and, indeed, to the whole body of Christ. The benediction is reminiscent of Paul's usual practice (cf. the final verses in his letters). Nothing less than God's grace is required for us to be overcomers and triumphantly enter the Holy City of God, where we shall reign with him forever and ever. [Note: NIV Bible Commentary, electronic version.]

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

 


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Bibliography Information
Keathley, J. Hampton. "Commentary on Revelation 22:4". "J. Hampton Keathley's Commentary on Revelation". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hkr/revelation-22.html.

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