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This Section - Chapter 22

Presvious Section - Chapter 21

ch. 22:1-7       ch. 22:8-22 

The River Of Life  (ch. 22:1-7)


The first seven verses of chapter 22 could easily be placed in chapter 21.  As a matter of fact, many scholars feel it should have been place there because it addresses the New Jerusalem as seen in Revelation 21.  


In verse 1 John sees the water of the River of  Life that flows from the “throne of God and of the Lamb”.  There are a couple things to note here.  One is that this river is a river and not a sea.  Earlier we saw that there were no seas on the new earth.  Seas in Biblical terms have more of a negative connotation that a positive one.  While most nations didn't view seas in a negative light, for some reason, Old Testament Jews did.      


There is something else to consider when thinking about oceans.  In Genesis 2:5 and 6 we note that God had not sent rain to the earth.  Rain, in my opinion, did not take place until the flood of Noah's day.  Instead, of the Genesis account tells us that the ground was made wet for plants to grow by streams that came up from the earth.  Oceans don’t appear to be a part of God's original creation and therefore don't seem to be a part of God's new earth.  


We also note that the river flows from the “throne of God and the Lamb”.  The grammatical structure of this phrase tells us that we are seeing just one throne here, not two thrones.  I will comment on this later.


This river is like the sea of glass that we’ve seen earlier in that it is described as being like crystal.  Because of this portrayal of the river, and because some think the sea of glass spoken of earlier is a great multitude of the redeemed, so they think this river is not a real river but is symbolic of the saints.  If one understands the rest of this city is real and not symbolic, then to be consistent, as I do, you must understand the river to be a real river.  John would have seen many blood filled rivers in these revelations but in stark contrast this river is as pure as a river can be.              


Before I leave the idea of rivers and seas, allow me to suggest, and I say suggest since I'm speculating, that there are no seas because seas are most likely a result of God's judgment on the earth as seen in the flood of Noah's day.  There would not need to be any hint of any past judgment of God.  


water Jesus offers us.  In John 7:39 Jesus equates this living water with the Holy Spirit who would soon be given to the believers.  My point here is simple. The river of life seen here in Revelation 22 might well have no resemblance to the well water we drink today.  It may be of a whole new consistency, and, it might well have something to do with the Holy Spirit.  I'm not symbolizing the river of life.  I'm simply saying that on the new earth, all things are new and different from what we have and see today on the old earth.  A river as we know it today may not be this river as we see it on the new earth.  


In verse 2 we see that on each side of the river stood the tree of life.  This obviously doesn’t mean there is one tree on both sides of the river.  The picture is of many trees on both sides of the river, and just maybe these trees are scattered throughout the world.  We saw this tree in the Garden of Eden.  After man fell they were not permitted to eat from the Tree of Life so that they would not live forever in the sinful state in which they found themselves in, but now in the New Jerusalem we are permitted to eat from this tree 


We notice that this tree bares fruit every month of the year.  We also notice the mentioning of twelve months.  Many have thought that there is no such thing as time in the next life, but it appears that there might be a measurement of time, or at least a measurement of time is given in human terms for John’s sake.  The point to be taken here is that the Tree of Life is constantly bearing fruit.  Most fruit trees grow blossoms that have a nice fragrance, so it might just be possible that we’ll smell this beautiful fragrance all the time.


If there is fruit for us to eat, then it is clear that we will be eating in the next life.  My guess is that eating will be more pleasurable than a necessity, although this is the Tree of Life which might suggest that by eating we live forever.


I'm not sure just what all we will eat on the new earth, whether it's just from the tree of life or other trees and plants.  I suggest that we will be vegetarians when we live on the new earth.   


Verse 2 also says that the “leaves are for the healing of the nations”.  Again, as we saw in the last chapter, there will be nations on the new earth that are separate and distinct from the New Jerusalem.  There has been much debate over the centuries to who will live in these nations.  To be consistent with my train of thought throughout this commentary, I believe Jews will live in the New Jerusalem while Gentiles will live in these nations. 


The text states that the Tree of Life is meant to be for the healing of the nations.  I don't believe nations will have to be healed on the new earth.  The Greek word "therapeia" that is translated here as "healing" can easily be understood in terms of care and to give attention to.  This suggests to me that the Tree of Life is not to fix that which is broke but to maintain and care for that which is not broke.   


In verse 3 we see that there are no more curses.  The specific curses spoken of here is the curse of Genesis 3 that God placed on all of creation after Adam's disobedience.   


At this point I would like to insert an article entitled "Will We See God".  It will help explain verses 3 and 4.    


"I will see God in my flesh. I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him (Job 19:26 - 27)."  "I will see your face in righteousness; when I awake … (Psalm 17:15)."  Job and David said they would see God.  Just because Job and David claimed they would see God does that mean they actually will?   


God is invisible (Colossians 1:15) because He is a spirit (John 4:24).  No man, except for Jesus, has ever seen God (John 6:46).  No one can stand in God's presence and live (Exodus 33:20) because He is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29).  The heavens and earth will go up in flames on the Day of God (2 Peter 3:7 and 12).   


Did Adam and Eve see God?  Even thought Adam heard God's voice prior to the fall (Genesis 2:16 - 17) and Adam and Eve heard His voice after the fall (Genesis 3:8), the text is silent when it comes to them seeing God, and we can't base our thinking on silence. 


Will we see God in the future?  Revelation 22:3 and 4 may shed some light on this but that depends partly on how you view God's nature.  "The throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it (New Jerusalem) and His servants shall serve Him.  And they shall see His face … (NIV)." 


According to the grammatical structure of this verse the general consensus is that there is one throne that is shared by both God and the Lamb, who is Jesus.  This is a departure from the present reality where both God and Jesus have their own throne.  Jesus now rules from the right hand of God (Acts 2:13, Romans 8:64).  To put it another way, He shares the responsibility of ruling from a place of authority alongside of God.  I say it this way because the term "right hand" as it pertains to ruling in first century culture was a symbolic term that spoke of one ruling alongside another.   It didn't necessarily mean that one ruled at the literal right hand of another.  Right now, Jesus rules alongside of God. 


The word "throne" is translated from the Greek word "thronos", which can either mean a literal seat someone sits on or a place where rule emanates, whether it's a throne, a room, a building, or a city.  The throne spoken of in Revelation 22:3 might be the central location of rule in the New Jerusalem.  It might not be a literal chair that God and Jesus attempt to squeeze into.  Of course, how you understand this depends on if you believe God and Jesus are two separate and distinct personalities.  Not all Christians hold to that view.    


Revelation 22:3 states that the servants will serve "Him".  Verse 4 says that the servants will see "His face".  The words "Him" and "His" are singular pronouns, not plural pronouns.  We're talking about serving one person and seeing one face, even though there are two personalities mentioned ruling alongside each other.  Whose face are the servants seeing?   


We know that if we see Jesus we see God the Father (John 14:9) because Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30).  Jesus is the visible image of God (Colossians 1:15) and the exact representation of God's being (Hebrews 1:3).  Maybe Job, David, and you and I will see Jesus and seeing Jesus we see God.  On the other hand Jesus said that the pure in heart shall see God (Matthew 5:8).  He didn't say the pure in heart shall see Me or see God in Me.  The Greek word "horao" is translated into English as "see" in this verse.  This word doesn't necessarily have to mean seeing with one's physical eyes.  It can also suggest "perceiving", as in "I perceive God's face to be here."  Will we see God or simply perceive His presence? 


When you and I visit the New Jerusalem we will have the same physical form Jesus has, whatever that may be (1 John 3:2).  Maybe with this new physical form we will have the ability to see God as He is.


Will Job, David, you, and I ever see God?  I know we will see Jesus, but God, well, I'm still not sure. 


I now return to my commentary.

Verse 4 also states that we will all have new names in the next life.  In verse 4 the name of God will be on our foreheads.  Whether each of us will have a different name of God or the same name is not clearly stated.


Verse 5 tells us that we won’t need light bulbs or the sun any more.  God Himself will be the light.  There won’t be any such thing as night.  In Scripture night is seen as evil.  Night is dark and darkness is related to sin.  Jesus said that people couldn’t work in the night. He also said that people sin in the night.  There will be some kind of radiant light that emanates from the throne of God.  I suggest that this light will not be unbearable but will be gentle to our eyes that will cause a soft light to be seen around the new earth.  


Also in verse 5 we see the saints reigning with God for ever and ever.  So part of our job, or our service will be to reign with God.  Who we reign over or what is not totally understood.  It might be possible that this reigning is the reigning that was mandated by God to Adam.  Adam was supposed to rule over the creation as seen in Genesis 1:28.    


In verse 6 an angel told John that what he had seen in the great vision was true, And that “the Lord God of the spirit of the prophets” has proclaimed these things that “must soon take place”.  The question thus arises, “what does soon mean”?  It’s been about nineteen hundred years since John received this prophecy and it hasn’t taken place yet, that is, if you’re a Prophetic Futurist.  Those who hold to the Historic view point sees these things taking place for the last two thousand years so they don’t have any problem with the word “soon”.


Many Prophetic Futurists point to the verb tense of “soon take place” in the Greek and say that “soon” doesn’t mean “soon as in time”, but “soon as in when these things come, they will come soon, or quick, with little delay”.   When thinking of Jesus coming quickly instead of soon there are a couple of things we need to consider.  The Greek preposition "en" is translated as "soon" here.  Any preposition needs another word to make a thought complete. In this case "en" is linked to the word "come".  To translate "en" as soon, at least in my thinking, is a bit presumptuous.  I understand the reasoning for the translation.  "En" must be understood in relation to the word "come" and in the minds of many, "en" has to do with time.  That being said, if John wanted to suggest that Jesus' coming was soon to take place, he could have used the Greek work "tachos", or, any form of this word, to make the point that Jesus' coming is very soon.  He did not use that word here, albeit, he did use it in Revelation 22:6, 7, 12, and 20.  My point is simple.  At least in this verse, you can't build any case on when the events of Revelation take place based on our English word "soon".  I maintain that you're standing on shaky ground when you attempt to build any case on a simple preposition.                         


Jesus Is Coming (ch. 22:7-21)


Verse 7 takes us away from the chronology of the visions found in Revelation.  We're now back in the day in which John lives. 


In verse 7 we see Jesus Himself speaking to John. This must have been mind blowing for John.  I can't imagine how John must have felt.  He's seen all of these visions and now Jesus is talking to Him face to face. 


As I said in the last section, some scholars say because of
the Greek tense here that soon means, when He comes, it will be soon, quick, without delay. 


Verse 7 says, "I, John" was the one who saw these things.  The pronoun "I" before his name makes this emphatic.  Beyond any doubt, John says I saw these visions.   John is bearing witness to what he saw, and what he saw was real, not a figment of his imagination. 


In verses 8 through 10 we see that John is once again overwhelmed to the point he falls down to worship the angel who has been speaking to him.  John has done this before, and every time the angel tells him to get up and stop worshipping him for he is a fellow servant.  The point seems to be with John that all that he is seeing is just way too overwhelming and he simply loses his strength and sensibilities  and worships the messenger.  We’d probably do the same.


In verse 9 the angel tells John that he too is a servant of God, just like the prophets and all those who keep the words of this book.  The angel specifies the prophets.  I believe these are the Old Testament prophets.  The angels do not include the apostles.  I believe the reason for this is because the book of Revelation is specifically directed to those Jews who are living during the tribulation.  This does not mean that we today can't benefit from keeping this book because we can. 


In verse 10 the angel tells John not to seal up the prophecies of this book because the time is short. Even if one disagrees with the idea of the verb tenses concerning the word “soon” as seen in verse 7, we should realize that God and the spiritual world’s concept of time is probably quite different than ours.  Short to them may not be short to us, and probably isn’t. 


John clearly is told to broadcast what he has seen and proclaim to everyone, thus we see the importance of not avoiding this book of the Bible, even though it may be hard to understand.  Many lay Revelation aside because they feel they won’t understand it.  Others lay it aside because they feel it is too futuristic and we need to think about today and not the realities of the next life. But both of these ways of thinking are wrong.  The angel tells John to proclaim what he has just seen.


I would suggest that if John was told to proclaim the contents of the book of Revelation, we should as well, especially so as this age draws to an end.


If you recall in Daniel 12, Daniel was told to seal up the contents of this vision, but here, John is told to unseal the contents of the visions.  We are in the age in which we need to proclaim the unsealed truths found in the book of Revelation. 


The angel in verse 11 says something that may appear to be strange.  He tells John to let the vile and unrighteous continue to be vile and unrighteous.  Is this condoning sin?  Shouldn’t we be confronting the vile and the unrighteous to give their lives to Jesus?  There may be different ways of thinking about this verse, but I think what the angel is saying here is that the time is short.  Don’t waist your time on those who refuse over and over again to repent.  If they want to be vile, just let them be vile and move on to someone else to share Jesus with.


The angel further says that those who are holy and righteous should continue to be holy and righteous.  Don’t give up.  Keep the faith until the end because you’re almost there.


In verse 12 Jesus is seen speaking to John again.  Jesus says that He is bringing his reward with Him and He will reward everyone for the things they have done in their lifetime.  This verse might apply to the Great White Throne judgement where we see the books opened and people being punished according to what they did in their lives.  Yet on the other hand this might also be in reference to the saints.  These words might suggest that Christians will also be rewarded in a positive way for the good things they have done as well.  I believe there are sufficient Scriptures that show that we will be judged for our good works and we will be rewarded for what we do.  Some of our good works will be burned as with fire as wood and hay are burned in the fire.  The Apostle Paul speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 3:10 to 16.  If our works survive the fire, we will be rewarded for them.


Jesus speaks to His divinity in verse 13.  One of the basic doctrines of Christianity is the Deity of Christ.  This means that Jesus is in fact God in human flesh while on earth, and, in superhuman glorified flesh, as we see Him here.  If you don't believe that Jesus is God, then that undermines every other teaching of the Bible.   

In verse 14 we see that those “who have washed their robes” are blessed.  As I've said earlier, the words "washed their robes" is an Old Testament style phrase.  New Testament Christians don't wash their robes.  Jesus has washed our robes with the shedding of His blood on the cross.  The washing of robes might to the Jews living during the tribulation.  They have washed their robes by keeping the faith during the worst time in human history.  For many, if not most, this washing led them to their death by the anti-Christ.   On the other hand, all who will live on the new earth will have had their robes washed white and clean.     


Verse 15 speaks of those who are outside.  The text calls them dogs.  They are sinners.  A brief list of their sins are stated.  These sinners can't be just outside the gates of the New Jerusalem.  They can't be living in the nations on the new earth.  They are outside of all that is new.  They are in the Lake of Fire.  This is how we should understand the word "outside'.    You will remember that there was a garbage dump just outside the city of Jerusalem where garbage was continually being burned.  This raging fire of a dump has always been symbolized as the Lake of Fire .  What we see in this verse might well be an illusion to this dump that John would have understood.    


Once again in verse 16 Jesus speaks to John.  The text reads, "I Jesus…"  Again, the pronoun "I" before the name Jesus gives emphasis to the fact that it is Jesus who is speaking, not an angel.   As a matter of fact Jesus tells John that He has sent His angel to tell John this message so he can pass it along to the churches.  The book of Revelation is canonized into the Holy Bible and so this message has been passed down to the church throughout the age, and we should not close the book by avoiding it.  It is God’s will that we seriously study the pages of the book of Revelation. 


Notice the word "church" in this verse.  I commented on the word "church" back in chapters 2 and 3.  The word "church" is translated from the Greek word "ekklesia", which simply means a group of people called out of a larger group of people for a specific purpose.  The problem with translating "ekklesia" here as church is that in our modern times we get the wrong idea what of what is being meant.  Our concept of church today is not the concept the New Testament teaches.  I believe a good rendering of "ekklesia" would be "the community of God's people", not the church.  This makes all the difference in the world when understanding how "ekklesia" is meant to be understood in Revelation.       


Once translating "ekklesia" as the community of God's people here, we then need to know who God's people are.  I believe in this verse the word "ekklesia" refers to all of God's people, both Jews and Gentiles.  Even though I believe there still will be a distinction between Jew and Gentile on the new earth, there will only be one group that is called the ekklesia, or, the community of God.        


Also in verse 16 we see Jesus calls Himself the “Root and Offspring of David”.  This is Messianic and Jewish language. Here we are at the very end of the Bible and we still see references to Israel, and rightly so since this book is directed to Israel.  It is my position that Israel means something right up to the very end.  Of course salvation is for all people.  There’s no distinction between Jew and Gentile when it comes to salvation, yet when it comes to prophetic history, I believe there is a distinction.  The Jews have a place in prophetic history right up into the New Jerusalem. 


Verse 17 says, “The Spirit and the Bride say come”.  I believe the Spirit is the Holy Spirit.  He is in the lives of God's people, whoever they are and whatever age in which they live.  The Holy Spirit says "come Lord Jesus'. 


I believe, as I've said before, the bride is in reference to Jews, not Christians living in our present age.  In New Testament terms, Christians in the age of grace, otherwise known as the church age, is the Body of Christ, not the Bride of Christ. Israelis throughout the Old Testament were known to be God's wife.  This is especially clear in the book of Hosea where we learn that God divorced His wife Israel, but, we also learn the He will remarry her, and that He does, as seen earlier in Revelation.    


All that being said, there is nothing wrong with Christians right now saying, "Come Lord Jesus".  This should be the prayer of all God's people of all ages.        


Note that the text says that both the Spirit and the Bride say come.  If the Bride refers to Jews, then who are the Jews inviting to come.  Those invited would have to be Gentiles.  Exodus 19:6 states that Israel was meant to be God's priest to the Gentile nations.  With this in mind, the word "come" is quite appropriate.  Part of Israel's priestly job would be to call the nations to come to God.  


Verse 17 is also an invitation for anyone who is thirsty to
come and freely drink from the water of life.  In the specific context,
which I believe is Jesus talking to John in John's day; this invitation is
given to all of humanity.  In John 4 Jesus speaks to a Samaritan
woman and offers her living water that is found in the Holy Spirit.  The ultimate fulfillment of this water is found in the River of Life that flows through the New Jerusalem from the throne of God and the throne of the Lamb.


In verses 18 and 19 Jesus gives a very stern warning.  No one is to add or take away from this book of prophecy.  We should thus be extremely careful how we interpret this book.  I certainly don't claim to have all the answers to all of the questions that arise when we read Revelation.  I do not pretend to have the full truth, and, I certainly don't want to add or take away from God's word found in this book. 


We should know that this specific warning is for the book of Revelation, not the whole Bible.  That being said, we must not add or take away from the rest of the Bible as well.  It is one very sacred book.     


In verse 20 Jesus confirms the fact that He is coming soon.  John responds by saying, amen, come soon Lord Jesus”.


The Book of Revelation ends, as does the book of the whole Bible with these words, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with God’s people. Amen"We are God’s people, that is, those of us who have received the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If not for His grace we’d all end up in the Lake of Fire described in this prophecy. 


These words are specifically appropriate for the Jews living at the end of this age and into the tribulation.  As Zechariah predicted in Zechariah 12:10 and following, God will pour out a spirit of grace on His people Israel, and here we have an illusion to that right here at the close of the Bible.    


We note in this last sentence that Jesus is “our” Lord Jesus Christ.  He has given Himself to us and so He is ours.  We also note that Jesus’ title of Lord is first, then comes His name Jesus, and then comes His other title Christ.  Jesus is first Lord, and because He is Lord, He can become our Christ or Saviour.   We should also note that because Jesus is both Lord and Christ as Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, that He is both Lord and Christ to us.  We can’t have Jesus as our Christ without Him being our Lord.  The gospel message that some preach that says, “make Jesus your Saviour or Christ, and then at some future point make Him your Lord” is not New Testament thinking.  When you come to Jesus for the first time, you let Him into your life as both your Lord and your Saviour.


If you have read all that I've said in this commentary, I hope it has helped you in your search through Biblical prophecy.  May Jesus give you the understanding in all things.


Presvious Section - Chapter 21

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