Revelation 22 Notes
The Life Of The City (vss. 1-5)
- Although these verses are a continuation of the previous chapter, the phrase “And he shewed me” indicates a break. The living water that Jesus offered the woman at Jacob’s well was from this river which followed from the eternal throne (John 4:10-11). It is water that sustains life in its fulness. Although the joint occupancy of the throne by God and the Lamb has never been revealed, it has been implied throughout the book.
- The phrase, “tree of life,” indicating fullness of life, occurs twice in Genesis (2:9; 3:22), referring to the tree placed in Eden that if man would eat of it he would be immortal. When man sinned, the tree was taken away. In John’s vision, that which was lost in Adam’s paradise is gained in Christ’s city of God. The abundance of life seems to be the theme of this section, and God is the source of all life.
- In vs. 3, we are again reminded of Eden, where the curse was pronounced first upon the serpent (Genesis 3:14), then upon the ground (Genesis 3:17) and indirectly upon Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:16-19). Later a curse was placed upon Cain because of his sin of murder (Genesis 4:11). In each instance the curse was the judicial pronouncement of an appointed penalty because of the violation of divine law. All that is subject to the curse in time will be abolished in the heavenly city; nothing accursed can abide in the presence of that throne and its occupants.
- To behold God face to face, something man has never done, will be the reward of faithful devotion to Him in this life. The yearning of Philip is now fulfilled as the redeemed behold His face (John 14:8).
- The thought has developed from walking in the middle of light (21:24), to serving in the light (22:3) and now to reigning in that light. The reign is now extended from the thousand years with Him during this age to a reign “for ever and ever.”
The Divine Witness (vss. 6-21)
- The God who had inspired the prophets had sent His angel to show His true servants what would “shortly be done.” The reference is to the conflict developed in the book; hence, in a brief time the events of that conflict would come to pass.
- This is the sixth beatitude in Revelation; and, like the first one (1:3), it is directed toward those who “keepeth” (i.e., “obey”) the words of the prophecy (cf. 22:18-19). One keeps his garments as he keeps the words of the prophecy. One must be both a diligent student and a devout observer of what God says.
- The “I John” is reminiscent of 1:4, 9. His confession that he “saw these things, and heard them” and the repetition of the prohibition (19:10) against John’s worshiping the angel serve a purpose. No Christian, not even John, is beyond the temptation to worship what is good itself in place of God, who alone is to be worshiped.
- A “sealed” book is one beyond the comprehension of uninitiated persons. John’s prophecy was not to be sealed up, “for the time is at hand;” the events of its revelation were not in the distant future but were for the immediate period. Its message was to be made known, its warnings were to be heeded and its hearers encouraged by the divine assurance of victory.
- Vs. 11 appears to be fatalistic. Yet on further reflection, the exhortation stresses the need for immediate choices. Far from being an encouragement to remain apathetic, it is evangelistic in spirit. For the unfaithful and wicked, this appeal would be a deep confirmation of their choice, whereas for the faithful, it would alert them to the necessity of guarding themselves against apostasy (cf. Jude 20-21). Repentance is always an option while a person is alive. After death, however, there remains only judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
- The immediacy and swiftness of the Lord’s coming is given special emphasis in this section. Since the book was not sealed, for the time was at hand, the passages do not refer to the Lord’s second or final coming, for that was not at hand (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). Rewards will be according to the promises of the Lord and according to the work — the whole life — of the individual. The present passage may refer to the reward rendered to good and bad men at any coming of the Lord and also to the reward rendered to each at His final coming.
- Although God the Father has claimed all three of the qualities in vs. 13 for Himself, it is evident that in this instance it is Jesus who speaks. Here is hereby identifying Himself with the Father in completeness of Godhood, in eternal being and in divine authority.
- Vs. 14 speaks of those who accept martyrdom or have the spirit and character of one willing to die for the Lord (12:11; 20:4). Such have “authority over” the tree of life; they have the right to partake of it and they possess the credentials which permit them to enter by the gates into the city. The filthy are doomed to the lake of fire.
- What the angel had claimed for the Lord in 5:5, Jesus, using His human name (Matthew 1:21), now claims for Himself. In one of the seven letters He claimed to have the “key of David,” the power to open and shut, the authority to rule over the promised realm of David (3:7). As the root and offspring of David He fulfills the ancient hope of Israel that a descendant of David would rule on the throne of David.
- Those who yearn for a higher life, a spiritual life fed from the fountain of eternal life, are now urged to come and drink freely of the water of life. The final call is now being made, the water is being offered free for the taking; the invitation is cordial, but each must come willingly.
- Although vss. 18-19 are speaking particularly of Revelation, a similar command is found in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6) and in the New Testament (Galatians 1:6-9). God’s truth must never be altered nor perverted. The words of the prophecy are the thoughts, principles, judgments and messages of the book. God condemns a presumptuous, careless and flippant attitude toward His word. So severe is the danger he is warning against that John says that those who teach contrary to the message of Revelation will not only forfeit any right to salvation, but will have visited on them the divine judgments or plagues inflicted on the beast worshipers.
- Jesus, not John, is the true author of this book. He now adds His final word of testimony which is in response to the call of the Spirit, the bride and the faithful and loyal saints, who say, “Come.” In answer to the cry of both suffering and joyous saints, He has responded with assurances that when the time is ripe for His final coming, He will come to gather His saints unto Himself and His Father.
- The benediction is fitting for the saints who were facing the hardships of persecution. “The grace of the Lord Jesus” involves His gracious favor and constant good will, which provides for every need in every hour.