A description of the heavenly state, under the figures of the water and the tree of life, and of the throne of God and the Lamb. (1-5) The truth and certain fulfilling of all the prophetic visions, The Holy Spirit, and the bride, the church, invite, and say, Come. (6-19) The closing blessing. (20,21)
Verses 1-5 All streams of earthly comfort are muddy; but these are clear, and refreshing. They give life, and preserve life, to those who drink of them, and thus they will flow for evermore. These point to the quickening and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, as given to sinners through Christ. The Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, applies this salvation to our souls by his new-creating love and power. The trees of life are fed by the pure waters of the river that comes from the throne of God. The presence of God in heaven, is the health and happiness of the saints. This tree was an emblem of Christ, and of all the blessings of his salvation; and the leaves for the healing of the nations, mean that his favour and presence supply all good to the inhabitants of that blessed world. The devil has no power there; he cannot draw the saints from serving God, nor can he disturb them in the service of God. God and the Lamb are here spoken of as one. Service there shall be not only freedom, but honour and dominion. There will be no night; no affliction or dejection, no pause in service or enjoyment: no diversions or pleasures or man's inventing will there be wanted. How different all this from gross and merely human views of heavenly happiness, even those which refer to pleasures of the mind!
Verses 6-19 The Lord Jesus spake by the angel, solemnly confirming the contents of this book, particularly of this last vision. He is the Lord God faithful and true. Also by his messengers; the holy angels showed them to holy men of God. They are things that must shortly be done; Christ will come quickly, and put all things out of doubt. And by the integrity of that angel who had been the apostle's interpreter. He refused to accept religious worship from John, and reproved him for offering it. This presents another testimony against idolatrous worship of saints and angels. God calls every one to witness to the declarations here made. This book, thus kept open, will have effect upon men; the filthy and unjust will be more so, but it will confirm, strengthen, and further sanctify those who are upright with God. Never let us think that a dead or disobedient faith will save us, for the First and the Last has declared that those alone are blessed who do his commandments. It is a book that shuts out form heaven all wicked and unrighteous persons, particularly those who love and make lies, therefore cannot itself be a lie. There is no middle place or condition. Jesus, who is the Spirit of prophecy, has given his churches this morning-light of prophecy, to assure them of the light of the perfect day approaching. All is confirmed by an open and general invitation to mankind, to come and partake freely of the promises and of the privileges of the gospel. The Spirit, by the sacred word, and by convictions and influence in the sinner's conscience, says, Come to Christ for salvation; and the bride, or the whole church, on earth and in heaven, says, Come and share our happiness. Lest any should hesitate, it is added, Let whosoever will, or, is willing, come and take of the water of life freely. May every one who hears or reads these words, desire at once to accept the gracious invitation. All are condemned who should dare to corrupt or change the word of God, either by adding to it, or taking from it.
Verses 20-21 After discovering these things to his people on earth, Christ seems to take leave of them, and return to heaven; but he assures them it shall not be long before he comes again. And while we are busy in the duties of our different stations of life; whatever labours may try us, whatever difficulties may surround us, whatever sorrows may press us down, let us with pleasure hear our Lord proclaiming, Behold, I come quickly; I come to put an end to the labour and suffering of my servants. I come, and my reward of grace is with me, to recompense, with royal bounty, every work of faith and labour of love. I come to receive my faithful, persevering people to myself, to dwell for ever in that blissful world. Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus. A blessing closes the whole. By the grace of Christ we must be kept in joyful expectation of his glory, fitted for it, and preserved to it; and his glorious appearance will be joyful to those who partake of his grace and favour here. Let all add, Amen. Let us earnestly thirst after greater measures of the gracious influences of the blessed Jesus in our souls, and his gracious presence with us, till glory has made perfect his grace toward us. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Revelation 22:1-21 . THE RIVER OF LIFE: THE TREE OF LIFE: THE OTHER BLESSEDNESSES OF THE REDEEMED. JOHN FORBIDDEN TO WORSHIP THE ANGEL. NEARNESS OF CHRIST'S COMING TO FIX MAN'S ETERNAL STATE. TESTIMONY OF JESUS, HIS SPIRIT, AND THE BRIDE, ANY ADDITION TO WHICH, OR SUBTRACTION FROM WHICH, SHALL BE ETERNALLY PUNISHED. CLOSING BENEDICTION.
1. pure--A, B, Vulgate, and HILARY 22, omit.
water of life--infinitely superior to the typical waters in the first Paradise ( Genesis 2:10-14 ); and even superior to those figurative ones in the millennial Jerusalem ( Ezekiel 47:1 Ezekiel 47:12 , Zechariah 14:8 ), as the matured fruit is superior to the flower. The millennial waters represent full Gospel grace; these waters of new Jerusalem represent Gospel glory perfected. Their continuous flow from God, the Fountain of life, symbolizes the uninterrupted continuance of life derived by the saints, ever fresh, from Him: life in fulness of joy, as well as perpetual vitality. Like pure crystal, it is free from every taint: compare Revelation 4:6 , "before the throne a sea of glass, like crystal."
2. The harmonious unity of Scripture is herein exhibited. The Fathers compared it to a ring, an unbroken circle, returning into itself. Between the events of Genesis and those at the close of the Apocalypse, at least six thousand or seven thousand years intervene; and between Moses the first writer and John the last about one thousand five hundred years. How striking it is that, as in the beginning we found Adam and Eve, his bride, in innocence m Paradise, then tempted by the serpent, and driven from the tree of life, and from the pleasant waters of Eden, yet not without a promise of a Redeemer who should crush the serpent; so at the close, the. old serpent cast out for ever by the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, who appears with His Bride, the Church, in a better Paradise, and amidst better waters ( Revelation 22:1 ): the tree of life also is there with all its healing properties, not guarded with a flaming sword, but open to all who overcome ( Revelation 2:7 ), and there is no more curse.
street of it--that is, of the city.
on either side of the river--ALFORD translates, "In the midst of the street of it (the city) and of the river, on one side and on the other" (for the second Greek, "enteuthen," A, B, and Syriac read, ekeithen: the sense is the same; compare Greek, John 19:18 ); thus the trees were on each side in the middle of the space between the street and the river. But from Ezekiel 47:7 , I prefer English Version. The antitype exceeds the type: in the first Paradise was only one tree of life; now there are "very many trees at the bank of the river, on the one side and on the other." To make good sense, supposing there to be but one tree, we should either, as MEDE, suppose that the Greek for street is a plain washed on both sides by the river (as the first Paradise was washed on one side by the Tigris, on the other by the Euphrates), and that in the midst of the plain, which itself is in the midst of the river's branches, stood the tree: in which case we may translate, "In the midst of the street (plain) itself, and of the river (having two branches flowing) on this and on that side, was there the tree of life." Or else with DURHAM suppose, the tree was in the midst of the river, and extending its branches to both banks. But compare Ezekiel 47:12 , the millennial type of the final Paradise; which shows that there are several trees of the one kind, all termed "the tree of life." Death reigns now because of sin; even in the millennial earth sin, and therefore death, though much limited, shall not altogether cease. But in the final and heavenly city on earth, sin and death shall utterly cease.
yielded her fruit every month--Greek, "according to each month"; each month had its own proper fruit, just as different seasons are now marked by their own productions; only that then, unlike now, there shall be no season without its fruit, and there shall be an endless variety, answering to twelve, the number symbolical of the world-wide Church (compare Note, ARCHBISHOP WHATLEY thinks that the tree of life was among the trees of which Adam freely ate ( Genesis 2:9 Genesis 2:16 Genesis 2:17 ), and that his continuance in immortality was dependent on his continuing to eat of this tree; having forfeited it, he became liable to death; but still the effects of having eaten of it for a time showed themselves in the longevity of the patriarchs. God could undoubtedly endue a tree with special medicinal powers. But Genesis 3:22 seems to imply, man had not yet taken of the tree, and that if he had, he would have lived for ever, which in his then fallen state would have been the greatest curse.
leaves . . . for . . . healing--( Ezekiel 47:9 Ezekiel 47:12 ). The leaves shall be the health-giving preventive securing the redeemed against, not healing them of, sicknesses, while "the fruit shall be for meat." In the millennium described in Ezekiel 47:1-23 and Revelation 20:1-15 , the Church shall give the Gospel-tree to the nations outside Israel and the Church, and so shall heal their spiritual malady; but in the final and perfect new Jerusalem here described, the state of all is eternally fixed, and no saving process goes on any longer (compare Revelation 22:11 ). ALFORD utterly mistakes in speaking of "nations outside," and "dwelling on the renewed earth, organized under kings, and saved by the influences of the heavenly city" (!) Compare Revelation 21:2 Revelation 21:10-27 ; the "nations" mentioned ( Revelation 21:24 ) are those which have long before, namely, in the millennium ( Revelation 11:15 ), become the Lord's and His Christ's.
3. no more curse--of which the earnest shall be given in the millennium ( Zechariah 14:11 ). God can only dwell where the curse and its cause, the cursed thing sin ( Joshua 7:12 ), are removed. So there follows rightly, "But the throne of God and of the Lamb (who redeemed us from the curse, Galatians 3:10 Galatians 3:13 ) shall be in it." Compare in the millennium, Ezekiel 48:35 .
serve him--with worship ( Revelation 7:15 ).
4. see his face--revealed in divine glory, in Christ Jesus. They shall see and know Him with intuitive knowledge of Him, even as they are known by Him ( 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 ), and face to face. Compare 1 Timothy 6:16 , with John 14:9 . God the Father can only be seen in Christ.
in--Greek, "on their foreheads." Not only shall they personally and in secret ( Revelation 3:17 ) know their sonship, but they shall be known as sons of God to all the citizens of the new Jerusalem, so that the free flow of mutual love among the members of Christ's family will not be checked by suspicion as here.
5. there--so ANDREAS. But A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac read, "(there shall be no night) any longer"; Greek, "eti," for "ekei."
they need--A, Vulgate, and Coptic read the future, "they shall not have need." B reads, "(and there shall be) no need."
candle--Greek, "lamp." A, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic insert "light (of a candle, or lamp)." B Omits it.
of the sun--so A. But B omits it.
giveth . . . light--"illumines." So Vulgate and Syriac. But A reads, "shall give light."
them--so B and ANDREAS. But A reads, "upon them."
reign--with a glory probably transcending that of their reign in heaven with Christ over the millennial nations in the flesh described in Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:6 ; that reign was but for a limited time, "a thousand years"; this final reign is "unto the ages of the ages."
6. These sayings are true--thrice repeated ( Revelation 19:9 , 21:5 ). For we are slow to believe that God is as good as He is. The news seems to us, habituated as we are to the misery of this fallen world, too good to be true [NANGLE]. They are no dreams of a visionary, but the realities of God's sure word.
holy--so ANDREAS. But A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read, "(the Lord God of the) spirits (of the prophets)." The Lord God who with His Spirit inspired their spirits so as to be able to prophesy. There is but one Spirit, but individual prophets, according to the measure given them ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ), had their own spirits [BENGEL] ( 1 Peter 1:11 , 2 Peter 1:21 ).
be done--Greek, "come to pass."
7. "And" is omitted in Coptic and ANDREAS with English Version, but is inserted by A, B, Vulgate and Syriac.
blessed--( Revelation 1:3 ).
8. Both here and in Revelation 19:9 Revelation 19:10 , the apostle's falling at the feet of the angel is preceded by a glorious promise to the Church, accompanied with the assurance, that "These are the true sayings of God," and that those are "blessed" who keep them. Rapturous emotion, gratitude, and adoration, at the prospect of the Church's future glory transport him out of himself, so as all but to fall into an unjustifiable act; contrast his opposite feeling at the prospect of the Church's deep fall [AUBERLEN],
saw . . . and heard--A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac transpose these verbs. Translate literally, "I John (was he) who heard and saw these things." It is observable that in Revelation 19:10 , the language is, "I fell before his feet to worship him"; but here, "I fell down to worship (God?) before the feet of the angel." It seems unlikely that John, when once reproved, would fall into the very same error again. BENGEL'S view, therefore, is probable; John had first intended to worship the angel ( Revelation 19:10 ), but now only at his feet intends to worship (God). The angel does not even permit this.
9. Literally, "See not"; the abruptness of the phrase marking the angel's abhorrence of the thought of his being worshipped however indirectly. Contrast the fallen angel's temptation to Jesus, "Fall down and worship me" ( Matthew 4:9 ).
for--A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, ANDREAS, and CYPRIAN omit "for"; which accords with the abrupt earnestness of the angel's prohibition of an act derogatory to God.
and of--"and (the fellow servant) of thy brethren."
10. Seal not--But in Daniel 12:4 Daniel 12:9 (compare Daniel 8:26 ), the command is, "Seal the book," for the vision shall be "for many days." The fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy was distant, that of John's prophecy is near. The New Testament is the time of the end and fulfilment. The Gentile Church, for which John wrote his Revelation, needs more to be impressed with the shortness of the period, as it is inclined, owing to its Gentile origin, to conform to the world and forget the coming of the Lord. The Revelation points, on the one hand, to Christ's coming as distant, for it shows the succession of the seven seals, trumpets, and vials; on the other hand, it proclaims, "Behold, I come quickly." So Christ marked many events as about to intervene before His coming, and yet He also says "Behold, I come quickly," because our right attitude is that of continual prayerful watching for His coming ( Matthew 25:6 Matthew 25:13 Matthew 25:19 , 13:32-37 [AUBERLEN]; compare Revelation 1:3 ).
11. unjust--"unrighteous"; in relation to one's fellow men; opposed to "righteous," or "just" (as the Greek may be translated) below. More literally, "he that doeth unjustly, let him do unjustly still."
filthy--in relation to one's own soul as unclean before God; opposed to holy," consecrated to God as pure. A omits the clause, "He which is filthy let him be filthy still." But B supports it. In the letter of the Vienne and Lyons Martyrs (in EUSEBIUS) in the second century, the reading is, "He that is lawless (Greek, 'anomos') let him be lawless; and he that is righteous let him be righteous (literally, 'be justified') still." No manuscript is so old. A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, ANDREAS, and CYPRIAN read, "let him do righteousness" ( 1 John 2:29 , 3:7 ). The punishment of sin is sin, the reward of holiness is holiness. Eternal punishment is not so much an arbitrary law, as a result necessarily following in the very nature of things, as the fruit results from the bud. No worse punishment can God lay on ungodly men than to give them up to themselves. The solemn lesson derivable from this verse is, Be converted now in the short time left ( Revelation 22:10 , end) before "I come" ( Revelation 22:7 Revelation 22:12 ), or else you must remain unconverted for ever; sin in the eternal world will be left to its own natural consequences; holiness in germ will there develop itself into perfect holiness, which is happiness.
12. And--in none of our manuscripts. But A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and CYPRIAN omit it.
behold, I come quickly--(Compare Revelation 22:7 ).
my reward is with me--( Isaiah 40:10 , 62:11 ).
to give--Greek, "to render."
every man--Greek, "to each."
shall be--so B in MAI. But B in TISCHENDORF, and A, Syriac, read, "is."
13. I am Alpha--Greek, ". . . the Alpha and the Omega." A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, ORIGEN, and CYPRIAN transpose thus, "the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." ANDREAS supports English Version. Compare with these divine titles assumed here by the Lord Jesus, Revelation 1:8 Revelation 1:17 , 21:6 . At the winding up of the whole scheme of revelation He announces Himself as the One before whom and after whom there is no God.
14. do his commandments--so B, Syriac, Coptic, and CYPRIAN. But A, Aleph, and Vulgate read, "(Blessed are they that) wash their robes," namely, in the blood of the Lamb (compare Revelation 7:14 ). This reading takes away the pretext for the notion of salvation by works. But even English Version reading is quite compatible with salvation by grace; for God's first and grand Gospel "commandment" is to believe on Jesus. Thus our "right" to (Greek, "privilege" or "lawful authority over") the tree of life is due not to our doings, but to what He has done for us. The right, or privilege, is founded, not on our merits, but on God's grace.
through--Greek, "by the gates."
15. But--so Coptic. But A, B, HIPPOLYTUS, ANDREAS, and CYPRIAN omit.
dogs--Greek, "the dogs"; the impure, filthy ( Revelation 22:11 ; compare Philippians 3:2 ).
maketh--including also "whosoever practiceth a lie" [W. KELLY].
16. mine angel--for Jesus is Lord of the angels.
unto you--ministers and people in the seven representative churches, and, through you, to testify to Christians of all times and places.
root . . . offspring of David--appropriate title here where assuring His Church of "the sure mercies of David," secured to Israel first, and through Israel to the Gentiles. Root of David, as being Jehovah; the offspring of David as man. David's Lord, yet David's son ( Matthew 22:42-45 ).
the morning star--that ushered in the day of grace in the beginning of this dispensation and that shall usher in the everlasting day of glory at its close.
17. Reply of the spiritual Church and John to Christ's words ( Revelation 22:7 Revelation 22:12 Revelation 22:16 ).
the Spirit--in the churches and in the prophets.
the bride--not here called "wife," as that title applies to her only when the full number constituting the Church shall have been completed. The invitation, "Come," only holds good while the Church is still but an affianced Bride, and not the actually wedded wife. However, "Come" may rather be the prayer of the Spirit in the Church and in believers in reply to Christ's "I come quickly," crying, Even so, "Come" ( Revelation 22:7 Revelation 22:12 ); Revelation 22:20 confirms this view. The whole question of your salvation hinges on this, that you be able to hear with joy Christ's announcement, "I come," and to reply, "Come" [BENGEL]. Come to fully glorify Thy Bride.
let him that heareth--that is, let him that heareth the Spirit and Bride saying to the Lord Jesus, "Come," join the Bride as a true believer, become part of her, and so say with her to Jesus, "Come." On "heareth" means "obeyeth"; for until one has obeyed the Gospel call, he cannot pray to Jesus "Come"; so "hear" is used, Revelation 1:3 , John 10:16 . Let him that hears and obeys Jesus' voice ( Revelation 22:16 , Revelation 1:3 ) join in praying "Come." Compare Revelation 6:1 Revelation 6:10 ; invitation to sinners, this clause urges those who themselves hear savingly the invitation to address the same to others, as did Andrew and Philip after they themselves had heard and obeyed Jesus' invitation, "Come."
let him that is athirst come--As the Bride, the Church, prays to Jesus, "Come," so she urges all whosoever thirst for participation in the full manifestation of redemption-glory at His coming to us, to COME in the meantime and drink of the living waters, which are the earnest of "the water of life pure as crystal . . . out of the throne of God of the Lamb" ( Revelation 22:1 ) in the regenerated heaven and earth.
And--so Syriac. But A, B, Vulgate, and Coptic omit "and."
whosoever will--that is, is willing and desirous. There is a descending climax; Let him that heareth effectually and savingly Christ's voice, pray individually, as the Bride, the Church, does collectively, "Come, Lord Jesus" ( Revelation 22:20 ). Let him who, though not yet having actually heard unto salvation, and so not yet able to join in the prayer, "Lord Jesus, come, "still thirsts for it, come to Christ. Whosoever is even willing, though his desires do not yet amount to positive thirsting, let him take the water of life freely, that is, gratuitously.
18. For I testify--None of our manuscripts have this. A, B, Vulgate, and ANDREAS read, "I" emphatic in the Greek. "I testify."
unto these things--A, B, and ANDREAS read, "unto them."
add . . . add--just retribution in kind.
19. book--None of our manuscripts read this. A, B, Aleph, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read, "(take away his part, that is, portion) from the tree of life," that is, shall deprive him of participation in the tree of life.
and from the things--so Vulgate. But A, B, Aleph, Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS omit "and"; then "which are written in this book" will refer to "the holy city and the tree of life." As in the beginning of this book ( Revelation 1:3 ) a blessing was promised to the devout, obedient student of it, so now at its close a curse is denounced against those who add to, or take from, it.
20. Amen. Even so, come--The Song of Solomon ( Solomon 8:14 ) closes with the same yearning prayer for Christ's coming. A, B, and Aleph omit "Even so," Greek, "nai": then translate for Amen, "So be it, come, Lord Jesus"; joining the "Amen," or "So be it," not with Christ's saying (for He calls Himself the "Amen" at the beginning of sentences, rather than puts it as a confirmation at the end), but with John's reply. Christ's "I come," and John's "Come," are almost coincident in time; so truly does the believer reflect the mind of his Lord.
21. our--so Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic. But A, B, and Aleph omit.
Christ--so B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS. But A and Aleph omit.
with you all--so none of our manuscripts. B has, "with all the saints." A and Vulgate have, "with all." Aleph has, "with the saints." This closing benediction, Paul's mark in his Epistles, was after Paul's death taken up by John. The Old Testament ended with a "curse" in connection with the law; the New Testament ends with a blessing in union with the Lord Jesus.
Amen--so B, Aleph, and ANDREAS. A and Vulgate Fuldensis omit it.
May the Blessed Lord who has caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, bless this humble effort to make Scripture expound itself, and make it an instrument towards the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints, to the glory of His great name and the hastening of His kingdom! Amen.