Section: Chapter Twenty-One - New Heavens,
New Earth, New Jerusalem
TWENTY-TWO - EPILOGUE
(1) And he showed me a river
of the water of life, clear as crystal, (2) coming from the throne of
God and of the Lamb, (3) in the middle of its street. (4) And on either
side of the river was the tree of life, (5) bearing twelve kinds
of fruit; (6) yielding its fruit every month; and (7) the leaves of
the tree were for the healing of the nations.
1. And he showed me a river
of the water of life = echoes the promise of Christ to the woman at
the well of John 4. Living water has benefits for those that
drink it. It quenches thirst.
2. Coming from the throne
of God and the Lamb = is the source of the living water. This water
supply is supernaturally supplied, which ensures the eternal or continuing
nature of not only the supply of water, but the quality as well. The
mutual nature of the throne of the Father and the Son should not lead
to confusion about the trinity. They both share equally the same essence.
However, Christ is the only member of the trinity that localizes with
human physicality. God the Father never takes on human form. He can
and will make His presence known. We will be very much aware of His
presence, but not because He manifests Himself in physical form. That
prerogative is uniquely Jesus Christs. The throne belongs to
the Father, but He shares it with His Son. This is beyond human comprehension,
but reality no less.
3. In the middle of its
street = at first glance might appear contradictory to the previous
idea that the city is a cube. Street is singular, giving the impression
that the city has only one street. However, while John does give some
information about the city, we certainly must entertain the notion
that there is much to the city that he did not communicate. The text
does not say "in the middle of its only street." Given the
size of the city, there must be many streets. However, whether its
the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Fifth
Avenue in Manhattan, all great cities are known for having one great
4. And on either side of
the river was the tree of life = indicates more than one "tree
of life." Since Jesus Christs death on the cross is the
only means of salvation from sin, "the tree of life" does
not grant to those who eat from it eternal life.
Since the only people allowed
in the New Jerusalem are those who already have eternal life (Rev
21:27), "the water of life" and "the tree of life"
are not sources of eternal life for "those who are written in
the Lambs book of life." Water and fruit contribute to
the quality of life. The river and the tree will contribute to the
quality one existence in the eternal city.
5. Bearing twelve kinds
of fruit = indicates miraculous production.
6. Yielding its fruit every
month = continues the miraculous production of the trees of life.
Thought may be that the trees bear a different fruit for each month
of the year. Since time will not be indicted by the sun (Rev 22:5)
during the eternal kingdom of God, perhaps the trees will indicate
the months of the year.
7. The leaves of the tree
were for the healing of the nations = echoes Adams attempt to
cover himself, but failed to remove the curse.
(1) And there shall no longer
be any curse; and (2) the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in
it, and (3) His bond-servants shall serve Him; and (4) they shall see
His face, and (5) His name shall be on their foreheads.
1. And there shall no longer
be any curse = continues the descriptive benefits of the New Jerusalem.
Since "the nations" have the benefit of the healing leaves
from "the tree of life," the curse of Adam is finally taken
away forever. The curse of Genesis three is removed both from nature
and mankind. Nature has returned to full productivity and man is both
spiritually and physically satisfied.
2. The throne of God and
of the Lamb shall be in it = signals another benefit of the New Jerusalem.
Notice that John indicates that this is a future reality. At issue
here is whether or not the Lamb is seated on a separate throne. Revelation
3:21 states, "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down
with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father
on His throne." The Lords throne relates to the millennial
reign on earth. The Fathers throne relates to eternity. Since
God the Father does not manifest Himself in human form, Jesus Christ
will be the eternal physical manifestation of God to man. We will
be aware of the Fathers presence, but His presence will not
3. His bond-servants shall
serve Him = actually focuses on worship. The Greek verb refers to
religious conduct. What else the righteous will do during eternity
is not indicated, but worship will be primary.
4. They shall see His face
= that is the face of the Lord Jesus. His bond-servants shall see
His face. The Lord Jesus states in Matthew 18:10, "See that you
do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their
angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in
heaven." Since the Father is invisible, the sense of the Lords
words refers to the presence of God. The angels are continually in
the presence of God.
5. His name shall be
on their foreheads = is the last descriptive benefit of the citizens
of the New Jerusalem. Like the 144,000 who have the seal of the God
the Father on their foreheads, the bond-servants of Jesus Christ will
be so marked.
(1) And there shall no longer
be any night; and (2) 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 (3) they shall reign forever and ever.
1. And there shall no longer
be any night = indicates a significant change in the course
of human history. The loss of night as a segment of the human timeframe
means a change in humanity.
2. They shall not have
need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the
Lord God shall illumine them = explains why there will be no night.
There will be no electricity in the New Jerusalem. God will be the
light source for the New Jerusalem.
3. They shall reign forever
and ever = refers to the bond-servants. That the saints will reign
with Christ during His temporal kingdom on earth for a thousand years
is clear. However, that they will reign with God for all eternity
is less clear. Daniel 7:18 and 27 states that the saints will receive
an eternal kingdom. What they will do however is not clear.
And he said to me, "These
words are faithful and true"; and (2) the Lord, the God of the
spirits of the prophets, (3) sent His angel to show to His bond-servants
the things which must shortly take place. And (4) Behold, I am coming
quickly. (5) Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this
1. And he said to me, "These
words are faithful and true" = refers to the complete Revelation.
This sentence begins an important conclusion to the book with witnesses
to the process.
2. The Lord, the God of
the spirits of the prophets = adds support to the claims that Scripture
can be trusted, particularly this Revelation.
3. Sent His angel to show
to His bond-servants
place = restates the claims of the angel
at the beginning of the Revelation that what is written was sent directly
4. Behold, I am coming
quickly = cannot be taken in a temporal sense because it has been
2,000 years since these words were given. Jesus will not return quickly,
but His return will be quick.
5. Blessed is he who heeds
the words of the prophecy of this book = a call to faithfulness regardless
of what might happen to the reader. Again, John asserts that this
Revelation is prophecy in the same tradition as all other Old and
New Testament prophecy.
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 things. 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."
Restates the claim of John
that the Revelation is his writings. Johns reaction to the Revelation
is the same as Daniel. Both attempt to worship, but were prevented.
And he said to me, (1) "Do
not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, (2) for the time
1. Do not seal up the words
of the prophecy of this book = contrasts the message of Daniel (Dan
12:4, 9). Daniel sealed his book, but the Revelation is to be unsealed.
2. For the time is near
= cannot refer to time, since 2000 years has transpired.
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.
This is a very difficult
verse to understand. Two exhortations are given to the wicked and
two exhortations are given to the righteous. Now it is at once clear
that the wicked do not read the Bible for direction or encouragement
to sin. Therefore, this text is written for the believer. However,
one of the difficulties with this verse is the exhortation to sinners
to keep on sinning. This is clearly contradictory to the nature of
Scripture and the Lord.
Some attempt solve the
problem by placing the timing of this exhortation in the context of
the days immediately preceding the return of Jesus Christ in which
it will be too late to change once the Lord is seen coming on the
clouds. However, it has been two thousand years since these words
were spoken. Sinners certainly have had time to repent. Scripture
would never counsel a sinner to keep on sinningnever! Therefore,
we must look closer at what is stated.
Unlike Daniel 12:9-10,
which states what is true about the unbeliever, Revelation
22:11 exhorts the unbeliever to persist in his lifestyle. It
is clear that Revelation 22:11 is echoing Daniel 12:10. What Daniel
declared would happen is exactly what John encourages to happen. Scripture
is not indicating what sinners might do, but what they will do. Not
because they are not free to do otherwise, but because once set upon
their course even the wrath of God will not change them (Rev 9:20-21;
"Behold, I am coming
quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according
to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the
last, the beginning and the end."
Some use passages such
as this to support a claim that the return of Christ to rapture the
church to heaven is imminent (could happen at any moment). A position
rendered nonsensical by 2000 years of human history. In what sense
can the Lords return be termed "a quick coming?" Unless
the term quick has changed, it cannot refer to time. It has
been 2000 years since the Lord returned to Glory. Quick can
refer to the manner of the Lords return. In other words, the
Lords return will happen very quickly. The Lord emphasizes the
quickness of His return because the level of suffering the believers
will be experiencing during the persecution of Satan/Antichrist against
the saints will be unparalleled. Once the Lord sets out to rescue
the elect, it will happen very quickly in the twinkling of
(1) Blessed are those who
wash their robes, (2) that they may have the right to the tree of life,
and may enter by the gates into the city. (3) Outside are the dogs and
the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters,
and everyone who loves and practices lying.
1. Blessed are those who
wash their robes = is the last of seven blessings that occur in the
Revelation. The reward for "washing their robes" is the
same as the reward for "the one who conquers." This categorically
proves that "the tree of life" does not grant one eternal
life. Rather, the quality of eternal life is the issue. There is the
opinion among some that as long as a person is saved thats all
that matters. I beg to differ. There is going to be a qualitative
difference between those who were faithful and those who were faithful,
but not as faithful as they could have been.
"Those who washed
their robes" are those who work at moral conformity to the will
of God. The Old Testament is replete with examples of those who need
to wash their garments in order to be cleansed before entering before
God. Since the person must wash his own garments, this has nothing
to do with gaining salvation. Rather, the issue concerns what one
does after he has attained salvation. We are not working to gain or
keep salvation, but to enjoy it.
2. That they might have
the right to the tree of life = is the first of two purpose clauses
that explain the purpose of washing ones robe. The Greek of
this clause literally says, "in order that they will have the
authority over the tree of life." The second purpose of "washing
ones robes" is to enter the city through the gates.
3. Outside are the dogs
= obviously refers to the city. Dogs here refer to male prostitutes
"I, Jesus, have sent
my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am
the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
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 desires take the
water of life without price.
I warn everyone who hears
the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God
will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes
away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away
his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described
in this book.
He who testifies to these
things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen