Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/Revelation/Chapter 22

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The New Jerusalem (cont.)[edit]

Verses 1-2[edit]

1He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of its course, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve kinds of fruit and yielded its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Commentary: At the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden so that they might be denied access to the "tree of life" (symbolizing eternal life) in their corrupt state (Gen 3:22-24). Now, at the end of Revelation, the tree of life reappears.

The water that flows is a healing water because it comes from the Throne of God. The water is always providing, like the Tree of Life. The tree continues to bring fruit and never dies. This proves that our spiritual lives will be sustained in Heaven.

The fact that God and the Lamb share one throne again emphasizes their unity. There can be no doubt that John views Christ as untied with God. A pure, clear river symbolizes the pure life God gives forth to God’s people. The idea of a river flowing from God or the Temple is consistent with Old Testament imagery, including Zech. 14 and Ezek. 47. The text is unclear how many trees of life are being described. Tree is in the singular, suggesting one, which would also parallel with the Garden of Eden. However, can one tree be on both sides of a river? Perhaps it is a large tree that is somehow straddling the river. The idea that the tree bears fruit each month and that the leaves are good for healing again relates back to Ezek. 47. [1]

Verses 3-4[edit]

3There will be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will serve him, 4and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

Commentary: In Genesis, the earth is cursed because of Adam's sin (Gen 3:17). Here we are told that "there will be no more curse." In Genesis, the eternal paradise is lost; in Revelation, it is restored completely and man is satisfied both spiritually and physically.

Jesus remains God's physical presence. We will be able to feel God, but still be unable to see him. Since the Father is invisible, the sense of the Lord’s words refers to the presence of God. The angels are continually in the presence of God (revelationcommentary.org).

"...his name will be on their foreheads": See notes on 3:12 [1].

Verse 5[edit]

5There will be no night there, and they will need no candle, nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Commentary: Since God will conintuously be looking out for the people he will be the light of the world. Thus, night shall never fall upon the people. Night and day are used to measure time and there will be no time in Heaven for those there will be there for an eternity and need not measure the days. Therefore,night is taken away because it is associated with evil and harm. Jesus was betrayed in the night time,and night is when sin is committed. But the saints are the son of the light and God is light. Thus, light is a good omen and has good connotation.

Epilogue: Final Observations and Exhortations[edit]

Verse 6[edit]

6He said to me, “These sayings are faithful and true.” The Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show his servants the things which must shortly be done.

Commentary: John is validating his vision by saying that his vision is faithful and true. He is saying that his vision is authentic and divine. This is likely saying that God is te source of the prophet's inspiration. This verse begins the conclusion of his revelation.

Verse 7[edit]

7”Behold, I come quickly.” Blessed is the one who keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Commentary: The second coming of Christ Jesus is not coming quickly. But when he comes, it will be a quick return. Blessings are being wished upon by John to the readers of this vision.

Verses 8-9[edit]

8I, John, saw these things and heard them, and when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9He said to me, “See that you do not do that, for I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the sayings of this book. Worship God.”

Commentary: The first sentence of Verse 8 echoes Revelation 1 in that John reaffirms himself as the author of this work, as it was revealed to him from God via angelic beings. The second sentence echoes Revelation 19:10 in that again we see John falling to the ground so as to worship the angelic messenger. It is not clear whether this is indeed an additional attempt to worship the angel or if John is merely repeating his previous mistake for a rhetorical effect. In any event, perhaps John is attempting to identify with his audience's tendency to worship something less than God as God. Verse 9 indicates that God's people are essentially equal with angelic beings.

Verses 10-11[edit]

10He said to me, “Do not seal the sayings of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. 11The one who is unjust, let him be unjust still. The one who is filthy, let him be filthy still. The one who is righteous, let him be righteous still. And the one who is holy, let him be holy still.”

Commentary: Verse eleven here implies that beyond this point there will be no more repentance.

The command to not seal up the prophecy of revelation stands in direct contrast to Daniel 12:4 which says, “But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end." It is possible that John is directly referencing this verse here, emphasizing that in Daniel's vision, the time had not yet come and so the scroll should be sealed up, but it is possible that for John the events he witnessed are close at hand and thus the command to not seal up the prophecy of Revelation.

Verse 12[edit]

12“Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to everyone according to his work.”

Commentary: This verse is confusing as it leaves discussion on salvation being by works rather than faith. Certainly the verse John 3:16 and others refer to the God given reward of eternal life to be based on faith, but many other verses refer to salvation being dependent on good works. <----??? What if they are one in the same? Strive to live like Jesus did and your faith is your work.

Verse 13[edit]

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

Commentary: Once again brings significance to the power and soverignty of the Lord. As mentioned before in Chapter 1:8 and 21:6, He is the beginning and the end, and encompasses all in between. This is a significant attribute of God.

Verse 14-15[edit]

14Blessed are those who keep his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15Outside are dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers, idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie.

Commentary: This is the 7th blessing and the last in Revelation. The tree of life and the access to it is eternal life. It may tie into the cross of calvary in which Jesus shed His blood, so that people could have life. The people enter through the gate which is symbolic of Christ and the city is a representation of the New Jerusalem in the Heavenly realm. As stated in Chapter 7 v 14 the people must wash their robes in the Lamb's blood in order to gain access into this city where they will live eternally. Those who do not follow Christ and obey fully God will not be rewarded with the Heavenly realm because even though they may recognize God, they do not have faith in Christ. This is stating that there will be eternal life for all who believed, but the quality of that eternal life will be determined by the amount of faithfulness each individual achieved.

Verse 16[edit]

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

Commentary: Jesus is varifying that he sent the interpreting angel to John. He specifically states that this work is to be presented to churches plural, and not to be restrained as private property.

Verse 17[edit]

17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who thirsts come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Commentary: The bride is represented as the church, and so the Spirit and Church are participants in the invitation to spread the gospel (good news). The gift of salvation is given freely to those that are thirsty for God and looking to have a relationship with Christ. This water of life will quench and satisfy their thirst and those who accept this will be rewarded.

Verses 18-19[edit]

18I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book that if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. 19If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part in the book of life, and the holy city, and the things which are written in this book.

Commentary: There are three aspects to this verse: an integrity formula ("do not add, do not delete"), a conditional curse ("if you add things then plagues are added; if you remove things then you'll be removed from the book"), and a protection formula. The integrity formula was common to Mediterranean civilizations and was used in treaties, histories, and books. The conditional curse is another common agent seen first in the Code of Hammurabi ("eye for an eye") and frequently echoed in Judaic law. The protective aspect has been considered by modern interpreters to be a proof of canonical status of Revelation, although it is just as likely (if not more) that it was meant to protect the text in a world where texts were not printed by copied by hand and carried by messengers. There texts risked doctrinal adjustment as well as day-to-day worries of smudging or ripping.

Verse 20[edit]

20He who testifies of these things says, “Surely, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so: Come, Lord Jesus!

Commentary: There is no known time in which the Lord will have his second coming. His followers must be prepared and continuously awaiting his arrivel with their faith and actions.

Benediction[edit]

Verse 21[edit]

21The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Commentary: May this be our prayer.



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Chapter 21

  1. Witherington, Ben. Revelation. Cambridge University Press, 2003.