There is no sea from which waters are raised by the sun, as in the present hydrologic cycle (Rev. 21:1+) and thus no rainfall to supply the river with its flow. Rather, it proceeds “out of the throne of God and of the Lamb,” high at the central pinnacle of the holy city. Evidently the mighty Creator is continually creating the waters, then sending them forth to give perpetual life and cleansing and beauty to the city and its inhabitants, and then on out into the uttermost parts of the new earth.1The throne is of God and of the Lamb. In the eternal state, there is no more distinction between the throne of the Father in heaven and that of the Son on earth (Mat. 25:31; Rev. 3:21+). Jesus rules from the Davidic throne during the Millennial Kingdom until the last enemy, death, is destroyed (Rev. 20:14+). Then, He delivers the kingdom to God the Father (1Cor. 15:24-26) and the throne of David merges with the heavenly throne of the Father (Rev. 22:3+) and both the Father and the Son continue to rule forever.See commentary on Revelation 3:21 and Revelation 20:14.On Jesus as the Lamb, see commentary on Revelation 5:6.
Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine. (Eze. 47:12)Medicine (Eze. 47:12) is תְרוּפָה [ṯerûp̄â] : either from the root רוּף [rûp̄] , to make small as in medical powder, or from רָפָא [rāp̄āʾ] , to heal.3 Translated by ὑβίεια [hybieia] in the LXX: health, soundness of body. During the Millennium, the leaves of the trees near the river will provide for the physical healing of the peoples, but it is important to recognize that these trees cannot be the tree of life. Those who consume the leaves live to an advanced age, but do not avoid death (Isa. 65:20).4 Jesus said to the church at Ephesus that He would give the overcomer “to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7+). He alluded to the original placement of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9) and indicated that the redeemed would once more have access to the tree in a future paradise—the eternal state which John now sees. Those who do His commandments (or wash their robes, MT and NU texts) will have authority to access the tree of life (Rev. 22:14+). Those who take away from the words of the book of this prophecy will have their part taken away from the tree of life (Rev. 22:19+, MT and NU texts). Evidently, access to the tree of life is one and the same as salvation and indicates that all who inhabit the eternal state will have access to the tree on an equal basis.When man rebelled in the Garden of Eden, he was cut off from the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24). Since then, death has reigned over all peoples, even the people of God—with few exceptions. We rejoice in the fact that in the redemptive counsels of God, history is to be brought full circle to affect a full return to a Paradise without death which was previously lost:
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 in 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 (Rev. 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 (Rev. 2:7+), and there is no more curse.5
All worlds move in circles; and the grand march of God’s providence with man moves in one immense round. It starts with Paradise, and thence moves out through strange and untried paths, until it has fulfilled its grand revolution by coming back to the point from which it started; not indeed to repeat itself, but thenceforward to rest forever in the results of that wonderful experiment. Genesis is the Book of beginnings; the Revelation is the Book of the endings of what was then begun; and the last laps back upon the first, and welds the two ends of the history into a golden ring of eternity.6See Genesis and Revelation as Bookends.During this present age, where physical death has not yet been abolished, those who follow after God are likened to a fruitful tree typified by the tree of life near the river of living water which John sees in the eternal state:7
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. (Ps. 1:1-3)Between the Fall in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22-24) and the creation of the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1+), the cross of Jesus Christ is the tree of life for all who trust in His redeeming work (Acts 5:30; Gal. 3:13; 1Pe. 2:24).which bore twelve fruits
And whether they need it for the support of their undecaying immortality or not, [partaking of the Tree of Life] is everywhere presented as one of the most precious privileges of God’s glorified saints. We cannot suppose that they ever hunger or thirst in that high realm, or that there is ever any waste in their immortal energies needing recuperation from physical digestion; but still the participation of these Life-fruits bespeaks a communion with Life, the joy of which exceeds all present comprehension.9The mention of months may imply that the sun and moon, although not needed for light in the vicinity of the New Jerusalem, continue to exist within the eternal state.10
The fact that months are identified as such in [the] New Jerusalem indicates that the orbital and rotational motions of the earth will go on as God established in the very beginning and that the moon likewise will continue orbiting around the earth.11See commentary on Revelation 21:23.The productivity of the tree in eternity is a model of what the Christian life is to be now. Believers are to be continuously yielding spiritual fruit, much of which is also for the healing of the nations. God expects productivity from all who would serve Him (cf. Mat. 21:19; Mark 11:13).12 In the same way the tree of life yields fruit because of its position next to the river of life, so must the productive Christian abide in Christ:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations
Why would healing be necessary in eternity? What is the meaning of the healing leaves? What is their purpose? Admittedly these questions are puzzling. However, the concept of healing leaves need not imply sickness. The tree of life existed in the Garden of Eden before sin and sickness (Gen. 2:9; 3:22), and it can also exist in the New Jerusalem without illness. After all, there will be no curse there (Rev. 22:3+).15
Healing, however, does not necessarily indicate the presence of disease any more than the wiping away of tears (Rev. 21:4+) implies that sorrow still exists in the new Jerusalem. The tears were those caused by the troubles of this creation, tears that will no longer exist in the new creation. Likewise, the disease for which this healing provides is that of the former creation which no longer exists in the new Jerusalem.16With such an understanding, we can suggest a relationship between the tree of life, sin, and death. The tree of life serves as a source from which sinless men obtain life. They do not attain eternal life in any sort of independent manner, but are completely and forever dependent upon God, the ultimate source of life. This dependence is reflected in their need to access the fruit from the tree for its life-giving qualities. The moment sin enters into the picture, as it did in the Garden and which it can never do again in eternity, independence of God results.17 When sin entered in the Garden of Eden and independence from God with it, God saw fit to remove access to the tree of life—the very channel by which He had chosen to dispense eternal life. The result was death. To summarize: sin brought independence from God which was manifest in being cut off from the tree of life resulting in death. In the eternal state, man will be sinless and have eternal life, but the creation and the creature will always and forever remain dependent upon the Creator as the source of life. The ongoing need to access the tree of life for eternity reflects the continued dependence of the creatures upon the Creator—a reality which God has chosen to manifest via the tree.Some attempt to avoid these questions by taking the tree of life as symbolic of salvation and spiritual life, and not as a real tree in a real eternal city. However, there are numerous reasons why the tree in the New Jerusalem should be taken as a literal tree:
Some interpreters view the tree as only symbolic. But a literal view of the tree is proper for two reasons. First, since there was a literal tree of life in the historical Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9; 3:22, 24), it is possible for this tree also to be literal. Second, if the city, walls, gates, street, river, and light are literal (and the most reasonable evidence shows that they are), then the tree of life is most likely literal also. However, viewing the tree as literal does not exclude its also having symbolic significance for those who see it and eat of it. Just as the literal walls and foundations of the New Jerusalem will be memorials to Israel and to the apostles (Rev. 21:12+, 14+), so the tree of life can have a memorial function also.18Even those who take the tree literally struggle with the idea that healing should be found in the tree. Some propose that the healing relates to the maintenance of a population among the faithful who still reside in natural bodies in eternity. The “healing problem,” along with the possible differences between the nations and kings of the earth which reside outside the city versus the glorified saints within the city, have caused some to suggest that the nations in the eternal state may be made up of humans in their natural bodies living in conditions much like that of the original creation. This might answer some of the puzzles which are before us: why God created a new heaven and earth, why there are gates to the city which infers some are primarily occupied outside and others inside, and why the tree of life remains if only glorified saints remain? Several expositors suggest such a solution, as we discussed in our commentary on Revelation 21:24. For example:
There are two classes of people who will live eternally upon the earth: (1) the saints, who as co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17) are given glorified bodies (1Cor. 15:52), who possess the kingdom (Dan. 7:18+) and rule over the kingdom (Rev. 20:4+, 6+) as its inheritors (Mat. 25:34); (2) natural people, described here [1Cor. 15:52] as “flesh and blood” who are the eternal subjects of the kingdom, who eternally perpetuate the natural race of earthly men in the flesh (Ps. 72:5; Isa. 59:21; Eze. 37:25; Luke 1:32-33. 2Pe. 3:13).19
Two classes of people are thus distinctly recognized in the new heaven and earth;—a class in glory who get the fruits of the Tree of Life, and a class in the estate of “nations” who get the leaves; but, whether fruits or leaves, a great and glorious blessing. . . . The meaning is not that the nations are full of sicknesses and ailments; for these remains of the curse are gone then, though it may be from the virtue of these leaves. The meaning rather is the preservation of health and comfort, and not that maladies then exist to be removed. The Life-leaves are for the conservation and augmentation of the Life-blessedness of men on earth, as the Life-fruits are for the joy of the saints in heaven.20One objection to such a view is found in Paul’s statement: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (1Cor. 15:50). Although Jesus referred to his resurrected body as “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), it was clearly a different body than that which Adam and Eve had in their natural state. Jesus’ resurrected body is the sort of incorruptible body which the saints will inherit when glorified. There is no corruption in the eternal state, for sin shall be no more. And so it was in the Garden of Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve. But the prohibition against flesh and blood in the ultimate kingdom of God—beyond the millennium—would seem to be at odds with a restoration of the conditions in the Garden of Eden. Some try to get around the plain meaning of Paul’s statement by postulating two classes of peoples in the eternal state: those with glorified bodies who rule and reign and those in natural bodies who are their subjects.21 But such a proposition seems without support in Scripture which knows of only one class among the redeemed in eternity: those who inherit the kingdom, obtain eternal life, are granted the right to enter the city, and partake of the tree of life. The promise to the overcomer at the church of Ephesus and the last blessing of all of Scripture, at the close of the book, imply that all the faithful are of a single class in regard to their access to the tree of life:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7+)
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (Rev. 21:14+)These are the redeemed, those who obtain eternal life by faith in Christ. The promises they obtain are described in terms which match that of the nations and kings of the earth in the eternal state who bring their glory and honor through the gates into the city (Rev. 21:24-26+) and partake of the tree of life (Rev. 22:2+). Dividing up access to the tree of life into two classes, some in glorified bodies who partake of the fruit and others in unglorified bodies which partake of the leaves is without Scriptural support.
The suggestion that partaking of the Tree of Life pertains to the citizens within the city and entrance through the city’s gates relates to the nations, is also faulty. Both are relevant to all believers: authority over the Tree of Life and access to the way that leads to it.22A better solution is to understand the mention of nations and kings of the earth, which come in through the gate to the New Jerusalem, as merely a description of the identity of the redeemed from among the nations and as emphasizing their right to access the holy city which has been their ultimate hope and destiny all along (John 14:2-3; Gal. 4:25-26; Heb. 11:10, 16; 12:22; 13:14; Rev. 3:12+).The proposal that human beings, in natural bodies, continue to populate the eternal state as separate peoples from the glorified saints seems to raise as many issues as it attempts to solve.23 Nor does it account for the ultimate unity among the redeemed of eternity in its proposal that flesh and blood can inherit the eternal kingdom of God. Neither does it provide additional insight into the purpose of the tree of life in the eternal state because it proposes conditions no different than those in the Garden of Eden for which the mystery of the need for a tree of life during conditions of sinless perfection remains. As intriguing as the view may be to some, it seems to go beyond Scripture and fails to provide significant benefit in an understanding of eternity.Probably all that we can safely conclude is that the healing provided by the leaves of the tree provides some sort of service to the inhabitants of the eternal state. Exactly what that service is, we are not in a position to ascertain. Since the tree provides both fruit and leaves, the leaves may have a purpose unrelated to eating from the tree:
The third and preferred explanation is that the healing leaves may represent spiritual service or care. The Greek word for healing is θεραπεία [therapeia] , “serving, service, care,” from the verb θεραπεύω [therapeuō] , “to serve, be a servant.” Liddell, Scott, and Jones list many examples where this term refers to serving and has no connection with illness or the need for healing. Only in the sense of care, treatment, or serving the sick did it come to be applied to “healing” or “curing,” as in “therapy” and “therapeutic.” True, the word is used in Revelation 13:3+, 12+ of a wound healed; but in Luke 12:42 it is used of “service” of a faithful and wise steward, and in Acts 17:25 for serving God. The leaves, then, are there to minister to or serve the redeemed as they serve God (Rev. 22:3+).24
The chemical ingredients of the rich foliage of the trees might be available for innumerable uses in the economy of the nations which is to be kept healthy by the leaves of the tree.25
None will ever age, nothing will ever be lost, all work will be productive and enduring. The entropy law, the so-called second law of thermodynamics, will be repealed. Information will nevermore become confused, ordered systems will not deteriorate into disorder, and no longer will energy have to be expended merely to overcome friction and dissipation into nonrecoverable heat. Entropy will from now on be conserved along with energy and mass and momentum. Though “time” will continue on forever, “time’s arrow” will no longer be directed downward.27It is difficult for us to even consider what such an existence would be like. Our only experience and means of existence is the current order of things, which includes the curse, entropy, friction, and so on. When we begin to consider what removal of the curse in all its fulness might entail, we run into the near impossibility for our finite minds—so limited by our own experience—to even conceive of the ramifications of this pregnant phrase: there shall be no more curse!
Eternity is before us, and infinity surrounds us. We shall have an eternity of time to explore and discover the secrets of an infinitely varied and limitless cosmos.28but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it
As we pass from chapter 20 into chapter 21 of the Apocalypse, therefore, we stand at the junction point between two worlds and between two kingdoms. It is the end of the “first” or “natural” order of things, and the beginning of the final order of things. Here also the Mediatorial Kingdom of our Lord ends, not by abolition, but by its mergence into the Universal Kingdom of God. Thus it is perpetuated forever, no longer as a separate entity, but in indissoluble union with the original Kingdom of God from which it sprang. . . . This does not mean the end of our Lord’s regal activity, but rather that from here onward in the unity of the Godhead He reigns with the Father as the eternal Son. There are no longer two thrones: one His Messianic throne and the other the Father’s throne, as our Lord indicated in Revelation 3:21+. In the final Kingdom there is but one throne, and it is “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:3+).29During the Millennial Kingdom, God had been in the midst of the earthly Jerusalem in the person of the Son Who ruled from the Davidic throne. During that time, Jerusalem was called “THE LORD IS THERE” (Eze. 48:35). Now, both Father and Son are permanently in the midst of the New Jerusalem. This is the fulfillment of the proclamation of the previous chapter, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them” (Rev. 21:3+). See commentary on Revelation 21:3.Concerning Jesus as the Lamb, see commentary on Revelation 5:6.His servants shall serve Him.
It shows us most clearly that the heaven of the glorified saints is not one of idleness. They have something more to do than to sing, and worship, and enjoy. Indeed the perfection of worship is service, activity for God, the doing of the will of God. And this is to be one of the highest characteristics of the heaven of the saints. They are to do work, heavenly work, the highest kind of work.32This service will not be toilsome because they shall behold the Lord and be in His presence:
One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. (Ps. 27:4)
Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple. (Ps. 65:4)Those whom John saw coming out of the Great Tribulation were honored by serving before the throne of God day and night (Rev. 7:15+). Jesus promised that if any servant truly followed Him, then “where I am, there My servant will be also” (John 12:26). This is the role of a bond-servant who willingly forgoes the freedom to leave and chooses to remain in the master’s household to serve forever (Ex. 21:3-6). The ultimate goal of the saints is to attain God’s presence and serve Him (Rev. 21:3+).
Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. (Ex. 3:6)When Moses asked to see the glory of the Lord, God only permitted him a passing glimpse in order that he might not be consumed:
But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” (Ex. 33:20-23)Many times, God was represented in the first person by the Angel of the Lord, the preincarnate Jesus Christ (John 1:18). Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and called the place Peniel (face of God) because he had seen God face to face, but lived (Gen. 32:30). But this was not God’s unveiled glory. When Elijah fled from Jezebel to Mount Horeb, when he sensed God’s presence, he took care to wrap his face in his mantle lest he see God’s glory directly (1K. 19:13). When Isaiah saw God in the heavenly Temple, he realized he would be consumed because of his sinful state. But a seraph flew to him with a coal and cleansed his sin (Isa. 6:5-7).As early as the book of Job, it has been the hope and dream of the redeemed to see God firsthand:
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)The psalmist also understood that one day, in a righteous state, he would see God’s face:
As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. (Ps. 17:15)In the scene before John, the many promises of Jesus that the righteous would have intimacy with God, now find their fulfillment:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Mat. 5:8)
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3)
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)Paul and John also looked forward to this day:
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1Cor. 13:12)
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1Jn. 3:2-3)See Hide and Seek. See The Abiding Presence of God.His name shall be on their foreheads.
The angel’s words reinforce an important truth: Everything John has seen in Revelation will come to pass. What the inspired apostle has written is not mystical; the Apocalypse is not a record of his bizarre dreams or the result of an overactive imagination. It is not an allegory from which readers can extract hidden meanings of their own concoction. It is an accurate description of events and persons yet to come.33the Lord God of the holy prophets
The exactness, detail, and precision with which earlier prophecies already fulfilled came to pass forms the pattern for those yet to be fulfilled. God’s prophetic record is perfect. He predicted Israel would go into captivity, and the nation did (Lev. 26:33-39). He predicted the destruction of Babylon (Isa. 13:1-14:27; Jer. 50-51) and Tyre (Isa. 23:1 ff.), and those cities were destroyed. He predicted that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), to a virgin (Isa. 7:14), and be killed by sinners (Isa. 53:7-10) and He was. Thus, when God predicts future events, such as the rapture of the church, the rise of Antichrist, the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments, the Battle of Armageddon, the return of Jesus Christ, and His thousand-year earthly kingdom, those events will just as certainly come to pass [Isa. 46:9-11].34
This creates a contradiction within [moderate] preterism. Since Rev. 22:6+ is a statement referring to the whole book of Revelation, it would be impossible to take tachos as a reference to A.D. 70 . . . and at the same time hold that Rev. 20:7-9+ teaches the Second Coming. [Moderate preterists] must either adopt a view similar to futurism, or shift to the extreme preterist view that understands the entire book of Revelation as past history, thus eliminating any future Second Coming and resurrection.35Thus, the only safe (orthodox) preterism is inconsistent in its assertion that passages which teach “soon” or “quickly” must be fulfilled within the lifetime of the original recipients of the book—the Seven Churches of Asia. As soon as they consistently take this stance, they deny the future, literal Second Coming of Christ and leave orthodoxy for heresy. As we discuss in our commentary on Revelation 1:3, the solution is found in understanding “soon” as an indication from God’s perspective that no more preconditions remain before Christ could return. Thus, it is an indication of eschatological Imminency which reflects God’s perspective of time (2Pe. 3:8).Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.
God does not command believers to read Revelation merely to satisfy their curiosity about the future. He did not inspire it to provide material for detailed chronological charts of end-time events. There is a seemingly endless stream of books on prophecy being churned out, with speculative prophetic schemes proliferating ad infinitum, ad nauseam. But it was not God’s purpose to give Christians a detailed analysis of the prophetic significance (if any) of contemporary cultural, political, military, and social events or trends. God inspired Revelation for one purpose: to reveal the glory of His Son and call believers to live godly, obedient lives in light of His soon return. The purpose of Revelation is not to provide entertainment, but to provide motivation for godly living.37In order to keep the words of the prophecy of this book, believers must:
In this final message, the Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, pays great honor to the written Word of God. This fact we should mark very carefully, for we are living in a day when men are attempting to downgrade the written Word in favor of the living Word. Our Lord Jesus Christ in every phase of His ministry was careful to honor the written Word and to submit Himself to it. There can be no doubt of the fact that our Lord joined Himself with God the Father by magnifying the written Word. Thus the psalmist bears witness: “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for the lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Ps. 138:2). We also remember how the Lord Jesus made it abundantly clear that by His coming He did not intend to destroy, nor even loosen up, the Word of God, but to fulfill it in every jot and tittle [Mat. 5:18].41How often Christians today emphasize their devotion and zeal for the Lord, while holding a faulty view of the Scriptures. This is an age-old recipe for disaster, demonstrated by religious but unbelieving Israel at Jesus’ First Coming. Paul called it zeal without knowledge (Rom. 10:2). It seems that many believe God can be worshiped emotionally, but without truth (John 4:23-24).42 This is dangerous and deceptive ground: believing themselves to be exhibiting great devotion and offering true worship, they are in reality worshiping a God of their own creation and holding His word in relatively low esteem. May we study the importance our Lord placed upon the Scriptures and their reliability and then make it our own!
In the context, the search for knowledge seems to be the main idea. . . . John Calvin translated it, “Many shall investigate, and knowledge shall increase.” Leupold interprets the verse to mean, “Many shall diligently peruse it, and knowledge shall be increased.” In the Hebrew, the word for “knowledge” is haddaʿat, literally, “the knowledge,” that is, understanding of this long prophecy. Some consider the sentence as referring to the eyes of a reader running “to and fro” in reading the Word of God (cf. 2Chr. 16:9). . . . As Young goes on to explain, what the angel is saying to Daniel is that for the immediate future, attempts to understand these prophecies will be in vain, but in the time of the end, when these prophecies will become especially pertinent, additional understanding will be given.44Unlike Daniel, John is told not to seal the words. What is the primary difference between that which Daniel recorded and the revelation now given to John? In a word, timing! When Daniel was given his vision, he was told to “seal up the vision for it refers to many days in the future” (Dan. 8:26+). Much of what was revealed to Daniel could not possibly take place for at least 500 years, for it concerned the time of the end and could not transpire until after the First Coming of Jesus when He died on the cross to accomplish redemption. John’s vision is given after the cross, when no more preconditions remain for the fulfillment of what he is shown. The Second Coming of Christ was not imminent in Daniel’s day, now it is. There is also the matter of progressive revelation. As we have seen, the book of Revelation is very heavily dependent upon the book of Daniel. In a very real sense, the book of Revelation completes the revelation which was originally given to Daniel:
The revelation given to Daniel covered so much territory and expanded over such a long period of time that he was unable to understand much of what he wrote. Daniel was told to seal his book [Dan. 12:4+, 8-9+] until the time when many of the prophecies would be explained and clarified by later revelation. With the book of Revelation, much of the Book of Daniel has been clarified, expanded, detailed, and explained. So John, in contrast to Daniel, was told not to seal up his book, for all prophecy can now be understood and its fulfillment could begin at any time.45Since it is not a sealed book, it is then obvious that it is meant to be understood and not shrouded in undecipherable mystery and allusion:
What a rebuke to the negligence, the neglect, the sneering, ignorant arrogance, shown by most of Christendom toward The Revelation! Our Lord Jesus may declare it an open, unsealed, understandable book; men say it is filled with “unintelligible language” and “mystic symbols.” Christ says: “Blessed is he that readeth”; men say: “Let it alone, you cannot understand it.”46
Dare we suppose that the merciful Jesus would hang his benedictions so high as to be beyond the reach of those to whom they are so graciously proposed? Would he mock us by suspending his offered blessings on terms beyond our power? Yet this is the charge men bring against their Redeemer when they think to plead the incomprehensibility of this Book for their neglect and practical rejection of it. The very propounding of these blessings and rewards is God’s own seal to the possibility of understanding this Book equally with any other part of Scripture. Would he, the God of truth. lie to us? Would he, the God of mercy, mock us? Would he who gave his life for us, and ever lives and ministers in heaven and earth for our enlightenment and salvation, give us a Book to tell us of the outcome of all his gracious operations, command us to note its words, to believe and treasure its contents, and promise us a special blessedness in so doing, if what he has thus put into our hands is not at all within the limits of our comprehension and successful mastery? . . . Therefore these very benedictions pronounce against the common notion that this Book is too difficult for ordinary Christians, and rebuke all who despise and avoid it.47for the time is at hand.
A natural reading of the New Testament yields the truth that to the early church Jesus’ coming was imminent; that is, that it could happen at any time. They believed that He could come back for them in their lifetime. For the early church, imminence contained elements both of certainty and uncertainty. They were certain that Jesus would one day return, but (unlike numerous modern date setters) were uncertain when. Not knowing when He might return, they wisely lived prepared for and hoping for Jesus to return at any moment.48According to Scripture, Christ could return for the Church before we finish writing the commentary for this chapter! The contents of the book of Revelation concern themes which are vital for the Church to understand. They serve as a motivator for godly living, for evangelization, and guard us from deceiving ourselves into thinking that the world will, by and large, convert to Christ. The exact opposite is shown to be true here. As Paul said, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2Th. 2:3).
God is saying that men choose to sin because they want to, not because they know no better; and the inference is that even this book, which reveals the ultimate, stark, destiny of sin, will not deter sinners from pursuing their fancy.51In view of this reality, the marching orders of the Church are similar to those of the prophet Ezekiel:
But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD.” He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house. (Eze. 3:27) [emphasis added]It was not Ezekiel’s responsibility to make the rebellious turn. His responsibility was to accurately preserve and convey the message of God. Those who would respond did so. Those who would not did not. He did not own the results!
Preaching Revelation draws the line. Its truths will melt the hearts of the repentant and harden the hearts of the unrepentant. Those same truths thus become either an instrument of salvation, or an instrument of damnation (cf. 1Cor. 1:18; 2Cor. 2:15-16).52Paul gave similar instructions to Timothy:
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them. (2Ti. 3:12-14) [emphasis added]he who is righteous, let him be righteous still
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1Cor. 3:16-17)
The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward [δοῦναι τὸˊ μισθὸν [dounai to misthon] ] Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth. (Rev. 11:18+)The servants of God are judged to receive rewards (Isa. 40:10-11; 62:11; Luke 14:12-14; 1Cor. 3:13-15; 2Cor. 5:10; Col. 3:22-25; 1Jn. 2:28), but the God-rejecters are judged for punishment (1Pe. 4:18; Rev. 2:23+; 20:11-15+):
The purpose of the return of Jesus is to render to each man according to his works. His coming at the Rapture is to reward the saints for the works done in their bodies since salvation. The purpose of the Second Coming is to render judgment for the works of unrighteousness.55
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Mat. 16:27)
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. ”As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right; it will leave him in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool.” (Jer. 17:7-11)
But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom. 2:5-10)See commentary on Revelation 19:8 and Revelation 20:12.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Mat. 7:21-23) [emphasis added]Our blessing does not derive from merely knowing the things of God, but from doing them (John 13:15 cf. Rev. 12:17+; 14:12+). Jesus said that if we love Him, then we will keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21-23). When we neglect to keep His commandments, we demonstrate our lack of love for Him. Our motivation to keep His commandments is also found in our desire to purify ourselves in preparation for His appearing (1Jn. 3:2-3). The power to keep His commandments is derived from the indwelling Holy Spirit (1Jn. 3:24). If we call him “Lord,” but do not keep His commandments, we are schizophrenic. How can He be Lord when we will not obey Him (Luke 6:46)? Worse than that, we are found to be liars concerning our relationship with Him:
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1Jn. 2:3-4)
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (Jas. 1:21-24)This is one of seven blessings given within the book of Revelation. See commentary on Revelation 1:3.that they may have the right to the tree of life
“The dogs” . . . is a metaphor for the morally impure as it is throughout Scripture. They represent male prostitutes (Deu. 23:18), Gentiles (Mat. 15:26), and Judaizers (Php. 3:2-3), among other things (cf. 2K. 8:13; Ps. 22:16, 20; Isa. 56:10; Mat. 7:6; Mark 7:27). In the Orient dogs are scavengers and are objects of great contempt.58sorcerers . . . sexually immoral . . . murderers . . . idolaters . . . whoever loves and practices a lie
The verse does not intend to teach that in the eternal state all manner of wicked men will be living just outside the heavenly city. It simply describes the future with the imagery of the present. The contrast is between the blessedness of the faithful and the fate of the wicked.59
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. (Mat. 22:41-46)The solution to the riddle is found in the eternality and incarnation of Jesus. In His deity, Jesus is the God of David, hence David’s Lord. In His humanity, Jesus is in the line of descent from David—the son of David. Thus, Jesus is both David’s master and his son.
Jesus . . . in His humanity is the root and offspring of David, but as to His deity, He is the Shechinah Glory, as seen in the brightness and visibility of the light of the morning star.60the Bright and Morning Star
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:76-79)Dayspring is ἀνατολὴ [anatolē] : the place of rising, the dawn.62 Jesus is the bright and morning star because He is “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). He is the “Sun of Righteousness” who “shall arise with healing in His wings” (Mal. 4:2). Jesus promised to give the overcomer in the church at Thyatira “the morning star” (Rev. 2:28+).
His coming in power and glory is the sun-rise for Israel and the Gentiles, the breaking of the millennial day. But for His Church He comes first as the morning-star, as the morning-star in the eastern sky precedes the rising of the sun in all His glory. The Lord will come as the morning-star some time in the interval between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel and as the Sun of Righteousness after that week has come to an end.63See commentary on Revelation 2:28.Until Jesus returns, we have the prophetic word, such as this very book, to serve as a beacon of hope while we continue in this dark world:
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2Pe. 1:19-21)The morning star rises in the hearts of men who trust Him by faith even before He arrives to herald the dawn of a new day and the beginning of His Millennial Kingdom on earth. Only those who are motivated arise before the dawn to look for the morning star which heralds the approaching day:
Yes, the day is not here—but lo, the harbinger of the day, the Morning Star! It shines in the night, but it prophesies the coming sunrise. “The assembly (ecclesia—the Church) sees Him in the now far spent night as the Morning Star, recognizes Him, while watching for Him, according to His own Word, in His bright heavenly character—a character which does not wake a sleeping world, but is the delight and joy of those who watch. When the sun arises, He will not be thus known: the earth will never so know Him, bright as the (coming) day will be” (Darby).64
Throughout the centuries, God’s people have waited for, prayed for, hoped for, and watched for Christ’s return. They are weary of the battle against sin and long to see Jesus Christ exalted, glorified, and honored. They long for Him to return and take them to heaven to live with Him forever (John 14:3; 1Th. 4:17). They long for the day when their perishable, mortal bodies will be transformed into their imperishable, immortal resurrection bodies (1Cor. 15:53-54). They know that in that glorious day there will be no more sorrow, no more tears, no more crying, no more pain, and no more death. Rebellion will be swiftly dealt with; God and the Lamb will be glorified and will reign forever over the new heaven and the new earth.65And let him who hears say, “Come!”
Though this invitation could address the stranger who sometimes attended Christian worship (cf. 1Cor. 14:23-24) (Moffatt), plenty of regular attenders had not yet attained the category of an overcomer, as the seven messages of chapters 2-3 make very plain.66
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isa. 55:1)The only requirement is thirst. Without thirst, the free water of life will not be attained (Rev. 21:6+).
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Ps. 42:1-2)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Mat. 5:6)Those who thirst for God in the present age, and trust in faith, are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, the Church (1Cor. 12:13):
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) [emphasis added]This tremendous promise of true freedom has an important precondition: If you abide in My word . . . And where is His word to be found in our day? In the midst of emotional worship? In “goose bumps” we get in our devotional time? In the Scriptures! The Scriptures alone are the objective measure of God’s will and person. Without knowledge of the Scriptures, maturity is impossible and deception is the certain result. See commentary on Revelation 13:13.If anyone adds to these things
That the specific words of Revelation are not to be sealed up stresses again that there is no hidden, secret meaning apart from the normal sense of the text. If the truth is not clear in those words then this command is nonsense. If the plain, normal understanding of the words of Revelation does not convey the meaning God intended its readers to grasp, then those words are sealed.69
God is surely capable of speaking plain words, through His angel and through John, to us, and we had better let Him say what He says. This is a book of revelation, not mystification, of apocalypse, not apocrypha.70Although the warning against adding or removing apply specifically to this book, by both implication and experience, the canon of Scripture is complete with the book of Revelation:
Chafer well concludes: “The formal closing of the New Testament canon is at least intimated in Revelation 22:18+. The dissimilarity in the manner in which the two Testaments end is significant. All the unfulfilled expectation of the Old Testament is articulate as that testament closes and the last verse gives assurance of the coming of another prophet. But no continued revelation is impending as the New Testament is terminated: rather the announcement is made that the Lord Himself will soon return and the natural conclusion is that there would be no further voice speaking from heaven before the trumpet heralds the second advent of Christ. Of no small moment is the fact that since the canon of the Bible was divinely closed no attempts have been made to add to it.”71
These two warnings against additions and subtractions in their context are concerned specifically with the book of Revelation, and the primary emphasis is not on the Bible as a whole. However, since the book of Revelation is the final revelation of God’s Word, the principle behind the warning can be extended to the Bible as a whole, for the Bible as a whole is complete only with the book of Revelation.72The main examples in our own day of those who add to the inspired text are numerous cults which append extra-Biblical writings to the text by elevating them on a par with the inspired Scriptures:
Examples of those who add are the numerous cults that accept other writings as inspired and authoritative and place them on equal grounds with the Bible (i.e., the Mormons with The Book of Mormon and Christian Science with their Key to the Scriptures).73
Some, such as Mohammed, have led whole nations away from the truth, and the total effect of all of them has been incalculably tragic.74God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book
Examples of those who subtract are those who refuse to accept the entire body of Scripture as God’s inspired Word and hold to concepts of partial inspiration or no inspiration.75
The cults add to the words of the book of this prophecy, the liberals take away from them, and both are regarded by the Lord as blasphemies deserving of the most serious punishment.76As we saw in our discussion of various Systems of Interpretation, it is also possible to seriously distort the message of the book, without changing the individual words, by means of incorrect interpretation. If the place of the book within the canon is unassailable, then the next means of attacking the message of the book is often by distorting the interpretation of the text in order to remove aspects deemed objectionable.For example, if unfulfilled passages or prophecies are interpreted in such a way as to effectively relegate them to the past, then the import of what the words teach is lost on present and future generations. This is the travesty of the Preterist Interpretation which removes whole prophecies of benefit for the church and misapplies them to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in A.D. 70. In a similar way, the Idealist Interpretation undermines the effectiveness of many passages in this book. Instead of describing future events in history, the passages are interpreted as teaching general spiritual principles with no specific application within real history.It is not sufficient for the Church of God to merely protect the written words—as important as that may be. She must also protect and maintain sound principles of interpretation so that the meaning of the words is the intended one originally given by the Holy Spirit through John. This has been a primary concern of our treatment of the book: a belief that the value of what was written is being undermined from within by Christians whose theology is incompatible with its plain meaning and who desire to “reinterpret” the book to suit their own notions and agenda for the Church.
This constitutes a most serious indictment and sober warning to any who would tamper with the Holy Scriptures. Lest anyone still object that it applies only to the Book of Revelation, it may be noted, historically, that the various atheists and humanists, as well as the motley array of modernists, liberals, higher critics, and other pseudointellectuals in Christendom who have rejected or questioned, ridiculed or allegorized away the books of Daniel, Isaiah, Jonah, Acts, Peter, or any other books of the Bible have also, invariably, done the same to the Book of Revelation, to the Book of Genesis, and the other books of the Pentateuch. The first and last books of the Bible have constituted a touchstone, as it were, so that the attitude of men and women toward those books always seems to determine their real attitude toward all the Scriptures. Therefore, the Lord had Moses stress the divine integrity of his writings (Deuteronomy 4:2) and John stress the inviolability of Revelation.77God shall take away his part from the Book of Life
Deficiencies other than typographical are not all Erasmus’ fault, or only partly so. He had the use of less than twenty manuscripts and used mainly only two or three. His only manuscript of Revelation lacked its last page; so Erasmus himself translated the Latin Vulgate back into Greek for the last six verses.78
Instead of ἀπὸ τοῦ ζύλου [apo tou zylou] (from the tree), the Textus Receptus (followed by the King James Version) reads ἀπὸ βίβλου [apo biblou] (from the book), a reading that occurs in no Greek manuscript. The error arose when Erasmus, in order to provide copy for the last six verses of Revelation (which were lacking in the only Greek manuscript of Revelation available to him), translated the verses from the Latin Vulgate into Greek. . . . The corruption of “tree” into “book” had occurred earlier in the transmission of the Latin text when a scribe accidentally miscopied the correct word ligno (“tree”) as libro (“book”).79Whether his part is taken from the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5+; 13:18+) or the tree of life (Rev. 2:7+; 22:2+, 14+), either way the one who takes away from God’s words will be excluded from among the saved.from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2Pe. 3:1-9) [emphasis added]Peter’s words are a source of great encouragement for those who await the return of Christ—Whose promises are better than gold and more sure than the ground we walk upon. The reason for the 1900 years and counting, between this promise and our day, are explained by Peter:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Php. 3:20-21)The promise of His return is a powerful motivator for the saints to deny the world and to live lives in preparation of His imminent return:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Tit. 2:11-14)History is strewn with the foolish who have attempted to establish dates, even general ones, at which Christ will finally come in fulfillment of this promise. Such attempts are dangerous and ill-advised:
Well has Archer Butler said, “To seek to penetrate more closely into these awful secrets is vain. A sacred obscurity envelops them. The cloud that shrouded the actual presence of God on the mercy-seat, shrouds still his expected presence on the throne of judgment. It is a purposed obscurity, and most salutary and useful obscurity, a wise and merciful denial of knowledge. In this matter it is his gracious will to be the perpetual subject of watchfulness, expectation, conjecture, fear, desire,—but no more. To cherish anticipation, he has permitted gleams of light to cross the darkness; to baffle presumption, he has made them only gleams. He has harmonized with consummate skill, every part of his revelation to produce this general result;—now speaking as if a few seasons more were to herald the new heaven and new earth, now as if his days were thousands of years; at one moment whispering into the ear of his disciple, as if ready to be revealed, at another retreating into the depth of infinite ages. It is his purpose thus to live in our faith and hope, remote yet near, pledged to no moment, possible at any; worshipped not with consternation of a near, or indifference of a distant certainty, but with the anxious vigilance that awaits a contingency ever at hand.”83Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Heb. 9:28)The closing words of the Song of Solomon illustrate this desire:
[The King to the Shulamite:] You who dwell in the gardens, the companions listen for your voice—Let me hear it! (Sos. 8:13)
[The Shulamite in response:] Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices. (Sos. 8:14)
The Shulamite desires the king’s speedy return. . . . Christ is to make haste to return at His second advent and is portrayed figuratively as a fleet gazelle or stag bounding over the mountains of spices, overcoming all impediments (Ps. 2:1-12) to manifest His fragrance in Kingdom rule . . . which will be a sweet aroma to Israel and the nations of the millennial earth.84Unlike the Adam and Eve who hid in shame, the redeemed long for God to come looking for them:
The first word we hear man address to the Lord in the Bible is the solemn word “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid” (Gen. 3:10). The last word addressed to the Lord by redeemed man is “even so, Come, Lord Jesus.” And between these two utterances in Genesis and Revelation is the story of redemption.85
A benediction of this type is quite unusual at the conclusion of an apocalyptic writing, but it is quite fitting for this one which incorporates epistolary features for the churches and is to be read in them (Rev. 1:3-4+).87
It has been a weary time, a waiting time, a suffering time, but His Coming or presence shall turn the gloom of night into gladness and everlasting joy. The shadows of time are passing away, and the first faint streaks of an eternal day, which knows neither evening nor tears are almost discernible. Hold on, ye wearied pilgrim host! Joy cometh in the morning. We wait for Him, not for the fulfilment of prophecy. Is His Coming a reality in our souls? Does it influence the life, and shape the conduct, and impart vigour, as we press on?88For the faithless, the book pushes him further in his hardened rejection of God:
I doubt not, that this Apocalypse has been and will be the rock on which many a one’s salvation is wrecked by reason of the offense taken at its presentations. To the savants and scientists of this world, there is no part of all the Scriptures which seem so absurd and impossible. They can get on with everything else a thousandfold better than with the outlines of the future which this Book gives. To their philosophy it is the very consummation of nonsense. And if this is the scheme and outcome of the Gospel system, they will have none of it. They know better. They have got beyond all such puerilities. They would not swallow such things for their lives, and scorn to take for divine what embraces them as the consummation of this world. Their sneers, contempt, and blasphemy nowhere rise to such a pitch as when they are asked to accept and believe that this Book is of God, and means what it says.89The question, dear reader, is which are you? Will you reach out to take the promises which Christ gives the overcomer throughout the pages of this book and become one who believes in Him? Will you respond in faith to the open invitation to partake of the living waters, freely given? Will you be among those who are kept from the hour of trial which is to come upon the whole world (Rev. 3:10+)? Will you love the appearing of the Lord Jesus and say, with the rest of the saints: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”Or will you remain among the skeptics, the sophisticated, the independent and self-sufficient, who have no need of God and would just as soon He did not exist? Have you already hardened your heart beyond the point of return such that you will be one of those destined to stand before the Great White Throne, whose name is missing from the Book of Life (Rev. 20:15+)?
Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts . . . Now is the day of salvation! (Heb 3:15; 2Cor. 6:2)
1 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 22:1.
2 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 505.
3 Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2003, 1810-1812), 874.
4 “The trees in both cases line the river; but in the earthly order they are outside the city; and though bread trees, they are not the Tree of Life. The heavenly River issues not from the sanctuary but from the throne. It does not flow into the sea, but through the avenues and streets of the city.”—Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 506.
5 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 22:2.
6 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 503.
7 “The tree of life is mentioned four times in Proverbs (Pr. 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4), metaphorically depicting wisdom, fruitful works, hope, and the benefits of the wise use of the tongue.”—Daniel K. Wong, “The Tree of Life in Revelation 2:7,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 155 no. 618 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, April-June 1998), 211.
8 “The Saviour after his glorious resurrection did eat, even of the course food of mortals. The angels did eat of Sarah’s cakes and of Abraham’s dressed calf (Gen. 18:6-8).”—Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 506.
9 Ibid., 507.
10 Fruchtenbaum believes a monthly calendar will continue, but without the benefit of the moon: “It should be noted that the word month is used, so some kind of dating system will be present in the Eternal Order. Since there will be no sun, moon, or night, it will be a radically different dating system than the one in which we presently live.”—Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 539.
11 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 22:2.
12 We speak here of productivity as measured by God, not the constant activity which so often characterizes Christian work, which has more in common with Martha than Mary (Luke 10:38-42).
13 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 358.
14 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 196.
15 Wong, The Tree of Life in Revelation 2:7, 219.
16 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 22:2.
17 A viable definition of sin is simply independence from God.
18 Wong, The Tree of Life in Revelation 2:7, 213.
19 Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 1Cor. 15:50.
20 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 507.
21 “Those who argue that ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom’ (1Cor. 15:50) forget that these natural generations are subjects of the kingdom, not inheritors, for only the resurrected saints in glorified bodies are co-heirs with Christ in His eternal kingdom (Rom. 8:17).”—Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, 2Pe. 3:13.
22 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 22:14.
23 “There is no indication whatever in Scripture that resurrected and translated beings have the quality of human sex, much less the capacity to produce offspring.”—John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), Rev. 21:24.
24 Wong, The Tree of Life in Revelation 2:7, 220-221.
25 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 22:2.
26 Jay P. Green, The Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, Inc., 2001), Rev. 22:3.
27 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 22:3.
29 Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 513.
30 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 244.
31 With the curse came less productive working conditions (Gen. 3:18-19).
32 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 510.
33 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 22:6.
35 Kenneth L. Gentry and Thomas Ice, The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 112.
36 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 814.
37 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 22:7.
38 Perhaps the most significant threat to the text in our day is to be found in the plethora of devotional paraphrases of the text which generally serve to obscure its true meaning. Instead of being nourished and having their minds renewed by the meat of God’s word, believers are turning to the pablum of these paraphrases which feed their emotion at the cost of true understanding.
39 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 22:7.
40 “To fail to preach Revelation is not only foolish (cf. Rev. 1:3+), but sinful. Any Christian who fails to learn its truths is forfeiting blessing; any preacher who fails to proclaim its truths is sinfully unfaithful to his mandate. . . . More than just a failure to teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), it is outright disobedience to the command not to seal up the words of the Apocalypse.”—Ibid., Rev. 22:10.
41 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 410.
42 Often, emotionalism is mistaken for worship in the Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. It is impossible to worship “in the Spirit” while remaining ignorant of God’s word.
43 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 205.
44 John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), Dan. 12:4.
45 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 544.
46 William R. Newell, Revelation: Chapter by Chapter (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1994,c1935), 362.
47 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 514.
48 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 22:6.
49 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 34.
50 Ibid., 343.
51 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 22:11.
52 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 22:10.
53 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 523.
54 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 66.
55 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 545.
56 “The [TR] reading appears to be a scribal emendation, for elsewhere the author uses the expression τηρεῖν τὰς ἐντολάς [tērein tas entolas] (Rev. 12:17+; 14:12+).”—Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), Rev. 22:14.
57 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 461.
58 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 22:15.
59 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), Rev. 22:15.
60 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 546.
61 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 725.
62 Ibid., 62.
63 Arno C. Gaebelein, The Revelation (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1961), Rev. 22:16.
64 Newell, Revelation: Chapter by Chapter, 365.
65 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 22:17.
66 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 22:17.
67 “Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of the apostles, attested thus: ‘The Jews would die ten thousand times rather than to permit one single word to be altered of their Scriptures.’ ”—Rene Pache, The Inspiration & Authority of Scripture (Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1969), 164.
68 NT occurrences of the phrase, it is written: Mat. 2:5; 4:4, 6-7, 10; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24, 31; Mark 1:2; 7:6; 9:13; 14:21, 27; Luke 2:23; 3:4; 4:4, 8, 10; 7:27; 19:46; 24:46; John 6:31, 45; 12:14; Acts 1:20; 7:42; 15:15; 23:5; Rom. 1:17; 2:24; 3:4, 10; 4:17; 8:36; 9:13, 33; 10:15; 11:8, 26; 12:19; 14:11; 15:3, 9, 21; 1Cor. 1:19, 31; 2:9; 3:19; 9:9; 10:7; 14:21; 15:45; 2Cor. 8:15; 9:9; Gal. 3:10, 13; 4:22, 27; Heb. 10:7; 1Pe. 1:16.
69 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 22:10.
70 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 22:10.
71 Mal Couch, “Soteriology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 170.
72 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 547.
74 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 22:18.
75 Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 547.
76 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 22:19.
78 Gordon H. Clark, Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1990), 38.
79 Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Rev. 22:19.
80 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 533.
81 Newell, Revelation: Chapter by Chapter, 359.
82 Barnhouse, Revelation, 412.
83 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 523.
84 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Sos. 8:14.
85 Gaebelein, The Revelation, Rev. 22:20.
86 Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Rev. 22:21.
87 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 22:21.
88 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), Rev. 22:20.
89 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 518.