Let the Word Speak!


Revelation 22:6-21

In the closing of the book, John will revisit the opening of the book, emphasizing how John received this vision and the purpose for the vision. John will also emphasize key themes that he wants to make certain his audience carry with them.

6 … and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

The angel that has been John’s guide here reinforces the purpose for the entire book, repeating Revelation 1:1. The phrase “God of the spirits of the prophets” sounds like the phrase in Revelation 19:10 about the testimony of Jesus being the spirit of prophesy. This passage means that this is the God who inspired the spirits of the prophets.

7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Christ speaks here directly, promising as elsewhere in the book that we should watch for him. He also gives the sixth of seven beatitudes in Revelation, this one reinforcing the eternal joy to be given to the faithful.

8 And I John saw these things, and heard them.

Here John repeats his identity, as he did in the beginning, so that he lets everyone know that the stands behind his words.

… And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

John has two purposes in repeating the earlier scene of angel worship with the angel from Revelation 1:1 who was his guide. The first is to emphasize the proper worship of God, and the second to acknowledge the amazing message of God’s care for his people. See the earlier episode of angel worship in Revelation 19:10, but this time, this angel (the second witness to this truth) includes the prophets and those who keep the words of this book as fellow servants of the angels.

10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

Unlike the command to seal up the words in Daniel 8:26 and Daniel 12:4, or the voices of the seven thunders in Vision Three that were not to be written down, the angel tells John to make these words known, and quickly at that.

The discussion of how the world will continue is similar to Daniel 12:10. This meaning is not to condemn the wicked, but to recognize that the wicked are allowed to choose to be wicked, that every person controls their own destiny. I want to read into this passage that the faithful are responsible for doing God’s will without getting frustrated at the lack of visible change.

12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Christ now speaks again that he is coming to reward the faithful, similar to the promise of the Lord in Isaiah 40:10, he that in the following verse will feed his flock like a shepherd. Isaiah repeats the promise to daughter Zion in Isaiah 62:11. The phrase the Alpha and Omega was applied to God in Revelation 1:8 and 21:6, and here to Christ, emphasizing his deity.

14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

This is the last beatitude, using the metaphor of washing robes clean. In this metaphor is the frequent image that Jesus has shed his blood so that we can be cleansed from our sin, but we must take that gift of cleansing. Those that do gain entrance and privileges of the New Jerusalem. Of those that do not gain entrance are the dogs, not twentieth century’s “man’s best friend,” but the ancient world’s four-legged equivalent to vultures, as in Jeremiah 15:3. Psalm 22:16 describes the evildoers around the Psalmist as dogs. Those that do not wash their robes are cut off from God’s presence, here with the image of being outside the city, in Revelation 21:8 with the image of the lake of fire, but both meaning the same concept.

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

Jesus speaks to all the churches, both then and now, to remind them of his heritage and his authority. The offspring of David refers to the messianic prophesy in Isaiah 11:1. The morning star here was described in a prophesy recorded in Numbers 24:17 to one who would rule Israel. This metaphor was echoed in Zechariah’s praise of God in Luke 1:78, foretelling the coming of the Messiah. In Revelation 2:28, Jesus promises the morning star, himself, to the overcomers in the church of Thyatira.

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely [”without price”].

There are two ways to read this passage. According to Robertson and others, the first two calls of “come” are God’s people asking for Jesus’ return, with the third phrase turning on the word “come” to a call to find Christ.

Barclay reads this ambiguous passage that all the calls to “come” are calls to redemption. The Holy Spirit, along with the redeemed Bride of Christ, calls those to come accept the salvation of Jesus. All those who receive this message from God are to extend the call to the lost to come accept salvation. The third phrase amplifies the call to clarify that the gift of redemption, the water of life, is a free gift.

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

These two verses stick out incongruously from the rest of the text. This may be a reference back to Deuteronomy 4:2, where Moses calls the people to obey all the law without adding to or taking away from it. This kind of warning was not uncommon in writings of that era. Other commentators, most notably R. H. Charles, have dismissed this threatening passage as a false injection into the scripture. I tend to agree with that idea, because the threat of banishment from heaven is different that what Jesus teaches about the responsibility of teachers in Matthew 5:19. The warning is intended just for Revelation, not for the rest of the Bible, so it also may be a recognition of how distorted interpretations of apocalyptic literature can be.

20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Jesus again reassures that he is coming soon, to which John adds an affirmation and encouragement.

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

John adds a benediction to this book, just as was done at the end of letters in the first century. Many scholars believe this benediction was added by someone after the book of Revelation began circulating. Whether or not it was original, its presence does emphasize the circulation and spread of this book to believers.

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