Studies In The Book of Revelation
Chapter Twenty Two
By Jonathan Mitchell
1. And he showed (points out to) me a river of “water of life” (or: Life's water; or: water which is Life), bright (resplendent, glistening, clear, sparkling) as crystal (clear ice), continuously flowing (issuing) forth from out of God’s – even the little Lamb’s – throne!
2. Within the midst of her broad place (plaza; square; street), and on each side of the river, [is] a tree (a wood; timber; a log; same word used in Gen. 2:9, LXX; figure for “the cross” in the NT) of life continuously producing twelve fruits, continually yielding (or: giving away) according to each month, and the leaves of the tree (wood; timber) [are given] for (or: into) service (nurture, care; healing or medical service; a body of household attendants) of the multitudes (nations; Gentiles; non-Jews; ethnic groups).
3. And every curse will no longer exist. And God's throne – even the Little Lamb's – will be (or: exist) within Her [i.e., the City], and His slaves will render sacred service to Him,
4. and will see His face, and His Name [is; or: will be] upon their foreheads.
5. And night will no longer exist. And so they continuously have no need of the light of a lamp, or even the light of the sun, because [the] Lord [= Yahweh] God will give light upon (or: will illuminate) them, and they will reign (perform as kings) on into the ages of the ages (or: the indefinite time periods of the eons).
Vs. 1 picks up the description of the City from 21:25. God's throne (vs. 3) resides within the City (just as the Ark was within the Tabernacle, which was within the camp of Israel). Think of that! The throne of God is within His Bride, His people – within each of us! But why should we be surprised, since Jesus told us that His kingdom and reign are also within us. Yes, He dwells within the corporate body, the City, but also recall John 14:23,
"Jesus conclusively replies, and says to him, 'If anyone continues (or: may be habitually) loving Me, he will be constantly watching over so as to observe, guard, preserve and keep My word (My thought, idea and message), and My Father will love him, and, facing toward him, We will come to him and will be making (constructing; creating) a home (an abode; a dwelling place; a place to stay) with him (or: at his side and in his presence).'"
If the Spirit dwells within an individual, then God dwells within him. It is from the throne (the place where He rules and is Lord) that the river of "water of life" is continuously flowing (vs. 1). Recall this also from Jesus,
"The person continuously trusting and progressively believing into Me, just as the Scripture says, ‘Rivers (or: Floods; Torrents) of living water will flow (or: gush; flood) from out of the midst of his cavity (his innermost being or part; the hollow of his belly; [used of the womb]).'" (John 7:38)
His throne is within us; the River of the "water of life" is within us; the tree of life is within us – and thus, the garden of Eden is within us. Our return to the Garden brings the end of the curse (vs. 3) and of the death attached to it. The road (Way) of the tree of the life is continuously watched over (guarded) by the cherubim (the living ones) and by the flaming sword (the Word of His Fire) – Gen. 3:25. Walking the path where His Word pierces to the joints and the marrow, dividing our soul from our spirit, judging our thoughts and the intents of our heart (Heb. 4:12), is the Way to the Tree of the Life. As to the term "tree of the Life," Metzger notes, "Here the term 'tree,' though singular in number, bears a collective sense." He also mentions that "the psalmist spoke of a 'river whose streams make glad the city of God' (Ps. 46:4). Reminiscent of the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9), the tree of life is present here, standing on either side of the river..." Recall that the tree of life is said to be "in the midst of the paradise of God" (ch. 2:7), and eating of it is promised to the overcomer. So this City is also the Paradise of God: the garden of Eden.
The tree of life within us is continuously yielding fruit of life (i.e., fruit of the Spirit), according to the seasons in which we are living. The leaves of life are for service (or: nurture, care, healing) of the multitudes: the nations, the ethnic groups, those who are not yet the Israel of God. It bears 12 fruits: this tree is the true Israel, as seen in Ps. 1. This is a figure of the grace and provision which God supplies.
God's slaves have His Name upon their foreheads (see ch. 14:1). They serve Him and see His face (vs. 3-4). This calls to mind Matt. 5:8, "the pure in heart shall see God." To "see" also means to perceive, comprehend and understand. Metzger points out that "In antiquity, to see the face of the king... implied that one was granted an audience with the king, and an opportunity to present one's petition in direct personal conversation (Gen. 43:3, 5; Ex. 10:28, 29; and elsewhere).... also to enjoy a relationship of absolute trust and openness."
Paul spoke of when the goal (perfection; maturity) may come in 1 Cor. 13. In vs. 12 he said, "For you see, at the present moment we continue seeing and observing through means of a metal mirror, within the midst of an enigma (the result of something obscurely expressed and intimated, giving an indistinct image), but then [it will be] face to face. Right now I am progressively coming to intimately and experientially know from out of a part (gain insight from a piece; be acquainted with a portion of the whole), but then I shall fully and accurately know and recognize, from intimate experience and added insight, correspondingly as I am also fully and accurately known, by intimate experience."
John said that if it is made manifest, "we will be like Him, because we shall SEE HIM as He is" (1 John 3:2). Heb. 12:14 admonishes us, "With everyone you must be continuously pursuing peace and holiness (separation from the profane), without which no one will see the Lord."
The description of this scene ends with the promise that night will no longer exist: the endless "Day of the Lord" will have come. Knowledge (light) will be direct from God, for "God will illuminate them" (vs. 5). This is an echo of John 1:9 – begun with the first advent of Christ, which began the Day of the Lord. Vs. 5 ends with the promise that "they" – His servants of vs. 3 – will reign on into the ages of the ages. This is a paradox: slaves reigning as kings. But this was the message of Jesus: he who would be greatest (e.g., would reign) must be the servant of all. And 2 Tim. 2:12, "If we patiently remain under, giving enduring support, we shall also reign together..." Of course, this also ties in with the overcomers of ch. 3:21.
Looking again at vs. 3, that every curse will no longer exist, we can rejoice that this would apply to Heb. 6:8, the potential "curse" of the field overgrown with briars. The burning-off of the land would be ended. This also speaks of the new covenant, for "whoever are of works of law are under a curse" (Gal. 3:10). [note: This would then apply to those who want to continue observing the feasts of Israel, which were works of the Law]. Again, in Gal. 3:13, we are told that "Christ reclaims us from the curse of the Law, becoming a curse for our sakes..." So "every curse no longer existing" came into existence through His death and resurrection.
However, this goes back even farther, to the beginning, where the ground was cursed (Gen. 17-18), and also includes any so-called "generational curses" that we hear folks speak of. In Christ, and through His work, all curses have ceased to exist.
Wallace gives these thoughts on this section: "The New Jerusalem was envisioned as the home of the saints; but it was not in heaven – it descended out of heaven from God; it was descriptive of the new surroundings of the church with Judaism removed and heathenism overcome."
J. H. Patos, in an article published in "The World's Hope," March 15, 1907, says of the bride in this passage, "She is there symbolized as the New Jerusalem (as the false church is called Babylon) and her twelve gates stand open for the corrupt, unsaved nations, who are outside of the city, to hear the invitation [of ch. 22:17] to wash their robes, eat of the tree of life, drink of the waters of life freely, and enter through the gates into the city. The gates are the way through the walls, and the walls are salvation. 'We have a strong city; salvation will He appoint for walls and bulwarks.' Isa. 26:1. Hence to be outside is the condition of those who are still lost – unsaved, and to come in through the gates is to be saved." (reprinted by Savior of All Fellowship)
6. And he said to me “These words are faithful ones and true ones, and the Lord [= Yahweh], the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent (or: sends) His agent with a commission (as an envoy) to show (point out; exhibit) to His slaves things which of necessity must (it is binding to) come into being (be birthed; happen, occur) in speed (swiftness, quickness, – so the Lexicons; but Wuest, Williams, Barclay, Lattimore, Beck, Goodspeed, NEB translate this phrase: soon; others give: shortly).
Those who interpret the prophesies of the Book to our time, or to the future, see this vs. as saying that when these things happen they will happen quickly, in swiftness. The preterists, and others, see this statement as saying that the agent was telling John that these things were soon to happen, in the 1st century. We have seen that they did, or at least one application of them did.
As to the phrase "the God of the spirits of the prophets," Lee states that this "indicates that these prophecies are related to those in the OT and the NT, all of which were spoken by the prophets in their spirits.... Hence, to comprehend these prophecies, we too need to be in our spirit under God's anointing."
7. “And consider this! I am continuously (habitually; repeatedly) coming quickly (swiftly). Blessed (Happy) [is] the one continuously keeping (actively observing; watching over) the words (or: messages) of the prophecy of this scroll.”
Noting that the verb in the first sentence is in the present tense, which denotes continuous, habitual or repeated action, and since He (Jesus is the speaker here) follows this verb with the adverb form of the noun "speed," used in vs. 6, I suggest that His "continuously coming quickly" would apply to the period of the 1st century, as well as to other incidents connected with His habitual comings.
It would seem that Jesus has in mind the entire "prophecy of this scroll" of which He speaks a blessing for those continuously observing these "faithful and true" words. If you can see the prophecy of this scroll as applying to the historical events of "God's eschatological deed.... The salvation-occurrence" (Bultmann) which brought an end to the old covenant (the end of the "Jewish age") and inaugurated the new covenant (which also began the next age, which is composed of the "cultivated olive" with the "wild olive" grafted in [Rom. 11:16-24] – the Last Adam; the New Creation; the New Man; "the Israel of God" [Gal. 6:16] – the Kingdom Age), and to His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem, and that these things happened to them for us and to unveil Christ and His body in their present reality, then we will live as blessed and happy folks!
8. And I, John, [am] the person progressively hearing and seeing these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship in front of the feet of the agent [who] is progressively exhibiting (pointing out) these things to me.
This takes us back to the scene in ch. 1:17, where John was similarly overcome and fell down. John was blessed because he had an ear to hear; he was blessed because his eyes saw (Matt. 13:15). What he had heard and seen gave rise to an expression of reverence and value (the meaning of worship in ancient times).
9. And he is saying to me, “See! No! I am your fellow-slave, even of (belonging to; originating from) your brothers – of (or: belonging to) the prophets and of those continuously keeping and observing the words of this scroll. Worship God!”
Here and through vs. 11 it is the agent speaking. He points out that he is on the same level as John (folks only expressed reverence and worship to someone on a higher level), and actually was a fellow-slave from the prophets of old, and one of the people that both keep and observe the words of this scroll. In other words, he was a part of "the whole family in the heavens and on earth" (Eph. 3:15, Young). He was a part of John's brothers and belonged to the group called "the prophets." I see this as a glorious role (that of being an "agent") that awaits us when we pass from this life.
10. Then he is saying to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this scroll, for the season (fitting situation) is progressively near (or: continues existing close at hand).
Here Chilton comments, "Again the angel emphasizes the imminence of the prophecy's fulfillment. For this reason St. John is forbidden to seal up the words of the book." He compares this to the command to Daniel to "conceal the words and seal up the book until the time of the end" (Dan. 12:4). He says, "Because his prophecy spoke of the distant future, Daniel was ordered to seal it up; because St. John's prophecy refers to the imminent future, he is ordered to set it loose." And note that the Spirit had John write the last part of this vs. using the present tense: "for the season (or: fitting situation) is progressively NEAR (or: continues existing close at hand)."
We, in the centuries which have followed, have seen figurative "Babylons" rise and fall, in relation to God's servants. Many have seen their respective encounters with the organization of religion as encounters with the Mystery: Babylon (especially from Luther, on). And because this fitting SITUATION constantly exists, "God's wrath continuously abides..." (John 3:36).
11. “The one continuously acting unjustly (unfairly; inequitably; contrary to the Way pointed out) must yet (or: still) act unjustly (unfairly); and the filthy one must yet (still) be filthy; and the just one (fair and equitable one) must yet (still) do justice (behave fairly and deal equitably in rightwised relationships); and the set-apart (holy) person must yet (or: still) be set apart (or: made holy).”
Because situations similar to those of the 1st century repeatedly arise, and God's inherent fervor continues to live with them, we see that the conditions of those in this vs. must also continue – it is part of their judgment. We must understand vs. 11 in the light of Jude 4,
"For some men came in unobserved, from the side, those of old (or: folks from long ago), folks previously written into THIS judgment (or: the effects and result of this decision): [to exist being] impious ones, ones continuously changing the grace and favor of God into licentiousness and repeatedly denying our only Sovereign and Lord (or: Supreme Ruler and Owner), Jesus Christ."
From this we see that some folks are currently undergoing God's judgment: to exist as they now do (cf. Rom. 1:18-32; note there that the word "knowing" means to know by experience), while others are currently chosen to be saved out of this condition to be God's firstfruits of His new creation. But the harvest is now and ongoing: to have firstfruits is evidence that the entire crop is present. So we, "as many as are one having been SET INTO life pertaining to the ages" (Acts. 13:48), "must be continuously delivering [others] in fear, SNATCHING them OUT of the FIRE" (Jude 23) where they now exist – else how could we be constantly snatching them out now?
The following verses (and perhaps through vs. 19, or the first part of 20), appear to be the words of Jesus, as in ch. 1:8. We have been programmed by tradition to think of this (vs. 12ff) happening only at "the end of time," or at some "final" judgment. But He does not here say that this is the case. When He comes, He brings each one His pay. In the parable of the vineyard workers, their pay came at the end of the day.
12. “Consider this! I am continuously (habitually) coming quickly (swiftly), and My wage (reward for work; compensation; recompense) [is] with Me, to give back (give away; render; pay) to each one as his work is (= what he deserves).
Robertson says "He speaks now as the Rewarder of Heb. 11:6. Cf ch. 11:18; Isa. 40:10; 62:11."
13. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning (Origin) and the End (Goal; Finished Product).
This repeats ch. 1:11, where He begins His instructions to John to send what he sees to the 7 called-out communities. He adds here, "the Origin and the Goal." He is the destination toward which everyone and everything will be brought, because of God's "eschatological deed."
14. “Blessed (Happy) folks [are] the ones (folks; people) continually washing their garments (equipment) [other MSS: continually doing His inner goals], to the end that their authority (or: right) will be over (or: upon) the tree (pole) of The Life, and they may enter into the City by the gates.
15. “Outside [are] the dogs and the sorcerers (users of drugs) and the fornicators (male prostitutes) and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone continuously fond of (being friendly to) and constantly practicing (making; doing) falsehood (deception; a lie).
16. “I, Jesus, sent (or: send) My agent to bear witness to you people [concerning] these things [being imposed] upon the called-out communities (or: to testify these things to, by or in you, over the [situation of the] summoned-forth assemblies). I am (I continuously exist being) the Root and the Offspring (Race; Genus) of David, The Bright (Radiant) Morning Star.
17. “And now the Spirit (Breath-effect) and the Bride are continuously saying, ‘Be progressively coming!’ Then let the one continuing to listen and hear say, ‘Be continuously coming!’ And so let the person constantly thirsting continuously come; let the one habitually willing (or: intending; desiring) at once take (or: receive with the hand) Water of Life freely (or: as a free gift).”
Barclay points out that these things are given in no apparent order, and are repetitions of things said before. It is also difficult to be sure who is the actual speaker. There are three speakers: agents, Jesus Christ, and John.
In ch. 21:9 we see "one of the seven agents – the ones holding the shallow bowls" who comes and speaks to John and carries him away in spirit to show him the Bride, the Holy City, descending out of the atmosphere, from God. The rest of that chapter gives the description of the City and conditions on earth pertaining to her. Ch. 22 continues with further specifics which the agent points out to John (vs. 1-5). Vs. 6 would thus seem to pick up with this same agent telling John that "These words are faithful ones and true ones." Whether he is speaking of the particular passage just completed in vs. 5, or of the entire book of this Unveiling, is not clear. I would conclude from what he says in the rest of vs. 6 that he is referring to the whole Book. Robertson says, "... not merely the preceding vision (21:9-22:5), but the revelations of the entire book." Barclay says, "Once again he stresses the truth of all that John has seen and heard."
14. “Blessed (Happy) folks [are] the ones (folks; people) continually washing their garments (equipment) [other MSS: continually doing His inner goals], to the end that their authority (or: right) will be over (or: upon) the tree (pole) of The Life, and they may enter into the City by the gates.
This verse speaks of a way of life, "washing their garments," or, "doing His inner goals and implanted directives." Both readings speak of the same reality: a way of life that is involved with what is not "clean" when they go out to those outside the City (vs. 15), to serve them – which is the goal which He has implanted in the hearts of His sheep: to minister to the needs of others (Matt. 25:35-36). This involves getting spots on our garments (Jude 23). It also calls to mind what Jesus said about the need for having our feet (the part of us that walks the path of earth, Matt. 10:14) washed (John 13:10).
The goal stated in this vs. is to have authority (literally: right from out of being) over/upon the tree of The Life. Those who live as described in the first half of the vs. are those who (changing the metaphor) "abide/remain in the Vine" (John 15:5). This gives them access to the City, as well, i.e., to he body of Christ. John 10:9 tells us that His sheep "will go in and go out [of the fold, vs. 1, which corresponds to the city, here] and will find pasture." In this last metaphor, Jesus is the door, while here in the Unveiling He is described as a Pearl: it was His pain (and death) that was transformed into the pearl of resurrection life. We have access from having been placed within Him.
I would also suggest that the "pole" of The Life also represents the cross. That is the Key of the kingdom.
The environment outside the City (vs. 15) is a picture of the world, the dominated system, within which the called-out communities live their lives. These are some of the "things which continually exist" (ch. 1:19). But 1 John 1:7-9 applies to this ongoing situation, for His "blood continually and progressively cleanses us from all sin and failure." We are "continually washing [our] garments," as well as other folks, in His blood (ch. 1:5; 7:14) and by "cleansing (purging) [her] by the bath of the Water [that is] within a spoken word (a declaration; an utterance)" – Eph. 5:26. The folks in vs. 15 are awaiting the time of their "order; rank; class" (1 Cor. 15:23).
Christ equated dogs with the unclean nations, in Mark 7:26-28. Paul applied the term to the "false circumcision" that betrayed the covenant by rejecting Christ, in Phil. 3:2. The works describe in vs. 15 apply to those that are outside the kingdom, at this time. It is the place of the "outer darkness" into which the Jews were to be cast. See Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30. This first reference was to the Jews being cast out of the kingdom; the next was of a guest at a wedding who was not properly attired; the last was of a servant losing his job – all metaphors spoken about the scribes, Pharisees and priests: the leadership of their religion.
The remaining categories of vs. 15 are also listed in 21:8, 27, where we see that not only can they not, in that condition, enter the City, but "their portion [is] within the lake continuously burning with Fire and Deity, which is the Second Death." Now note the following:
1. Gehenna, the city dump where purification fires continually burned, and worms ate rotting organic matter that was not burning, was just OUTSIDE the city of Jerusalem which existed in the 1st century. As the old Jerusalem of the old covenant was a shadow of the new (heavenly; "above;" spiritual) Jerusalem, so the Gehenna into which men could have been literally cast – after being killed, of course – is a shadow of God's purifying Fire.
2. These (in the lake of Fire) are "constantly practicing falsehood;" are "continuously fond of deception." The list here in vs. 15 is similar to the list in Jude 4, 7, 8, 10-13, 15- 16. Note that these in Jude 12 are "dying twice" – the second death. Yet they are here, and active, even in the church (Jude 4). Yes, they are experiencing God's judgment (John 3:36), which is typified by the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jude 7) – whose fire came swiftly, yet did not burn for long, for it was eonian fire: fire pertaining to that age (time). Furthermore, we saw, above, that we are to be "snatching them OUT of the fire" (Jude 23). In fact, "The house of Jacob [God's chosen people] shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph [figure of the headship of the Christ] a flame, and the house of Esau [figure of the estranged flesh] for stubble, and they shall kindle them and devour them; and there shall not be [any] remaining of the house of Esau .... and saviors shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the Kingdom shall be Yahweh's" (Obad. 18, 21). Convenient of the Lord to have them so close to the City (figured by mount Zion).
"Now, as then, 'God's Wrath' pours out 'against all ungodliness and wickedness of men' (Rom. 1:18).... In reality 'wrath of God' means an occurrence, viz. 'the judgment of God.' God is He who 'inflicts wrath' (Rom. 3:5)' when the 'wrath of God' is said to be 'revealed' (Rom. 1:18), that does not refer to a didactic communication about it but to its becoming effective. When the 'wrath of God' is described (Rom. 1:18-32), it is shown to be identical with that which factually already takes place in the heathen world: abandonment to the 'lusts of their hearts' (vs. 24), to 'dishonorable passions' (vs. 26), to a 'base mind' (i.e., corrupted intent, vs. 28).... Rom. 1:18-32 means the judgment that is constantly taking place; so does Rom. 13:4f where governmental authority is called 'the servant of God to execute wrath (= punishment) on the wrong-doers'..." (Rudolf Boltzmann, Theology of the NT, p. 288, 289).
In vs. 16 Jesus makes His identity clear and personally confirms the validity of the visions (just as He personally verified the activities of the church to Saul on the road to Damascus) and give confirmation that "these things" are to be "witnessed upon the called-out communities," or, His agent was "to testify these things by you folks, over the churches." These visions begin and end with the called-out communities, and pertain to the "churches."
Jesus continually exist as being both the Root, as well as the Offspring of David. The "I AM" is the source and the fruition of all things. Israel, symbolized in "David," is a figure of the body of Christ; the Firstfruit unto God; His "Firstborn" (Ex. 4:22); the head and source of all humanity, and of all of the universe. Not only is He the root and the fruit, He is the whole Tree. This phrase is a fulfillment of Isa. 11:1, 10, which speaks of the Root and stump of Jesse.
The phrase "The Bright Morning Star" can symbolize His being the Promise of the New Day. It can also suggest that He is the Firstborn among many stars (Rom. 8:29; Job 38:7). He is the reward of the overcomer (ch. 2:28). Peter relates the incident on the mount of transfiguration, and the Voice having been brought out of the atmosphere (heaven) "to which you, doing well taking heed, as to a Lamp appearing in a dingy place until the Day should be breaking (dawning) and the Morning Star (The Light-Bearer) may shine through (dawn) WITHIN your HEARTS" (2 Pet. 1:18-19). This verse both locates the Kingdom and clarifies the location of Christ. In fact, this being a "star," it gives the location of the "heavens" – in our hearts! It also is an echo of Num. 24:17, "A star shall come forth out of Jacob."
In vs. 17 we see Jesus (the Bridegroom) speaking as "the Spirit," together with His Bride (the called-out). This also shows that it is Christ Who is speaking through the proclaiming of the good news by the Church. Boltzmann addresses this thought, "...the salvation-occurrence continues to take place in the proclamation of the word. The salvation-occurrence is eschatological occurrence just in this fact, that it does not become a fact of the past but constantly takes place anew in the present.... Paul expresses this by saying that at the same time that God instituted reconciliation He also instituted the 'ministry of reconciliation' which is the 'message (literally 'word,' KJV) of reconciliation' (2 Cor. 5:18f). Consequently, in the proclamation Christ himself, indeed God Himself, encounters the hearer, and the 'Now' in which the preached word sounds forth is the 'Now' of the eschatological occurrence itself (2 Cor. 6:2)." (Rudolf Boltzmann, p. 302).
We who hear are instructed to repeat the message, "You must continuously come!" The statement is in the present imperative. God says (and the Bride should be saying) "Come!!!" It is not a request, it is an order (thus I insert the word "must"). What God commands all must ultimately do, "for who has withstood His intention?" (Rom. 9:19). Who are those who are continuously thirsting? Once one drinks of Christ he does not thirst again (John 4:14) because he has a spring of water (river of life) within him. So who are the thirsty? How about those just outside the City; those in the Fire. Since the salvation-occurrence, the gulf (Lu. 16:24) is bridged by Christ; old things have passed away, and behold all has become new.
"And you will bail water with elation from the springs of salvation. And you will say, in that Day [the Day of the Lord], 'Acclaim Yahweh!'" (Isa. 12:3, 4, CVOT). This is the message, "Acclaim Yahweh (= Jesus: Yah Saves)," which we proclaim to them as we give to them the Water of Life (and thus, they live) freely (as a gift of His grace). Barclay points out that, "It must remind us of God's great invitation, 'Ho, every one who thirsts come to the waters, and he who has no money; come, buy and eat! come, buy wine and milk without money and without price' (Isa. 55:1); and also of the great word of Jesus himself. 'He who comes to me shall not hunger; and he who believes in me shall never thirst.' (John 6:35)."
18. I am continuously testifying (repeatedly witnessing) to (or: in) everyone [who is] habitually hearing the words (or: messages) of the prophecy of this scroll: If ever anyone should overlay (place upon; thus: add) upon them, God will overlay (impose; add) upon him those plagues having been written within this scroll.
19. And if anyone should take away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of the Life, and out of (or: forth from) the set-apart City – of (or: pertaining to) the things being written within this scroll. 20. The One continuously testifying these things is saying,
“Yes, I am continuously (or: habitually; repeatedly; or: presently) coming quickly (swiftly; promptly)!” Amen (So be it; It is so; Count on it). Be continuously (or: repeatedly) coming, Lord Jesus!
21. The Grace and favor of the Lord Jesus [is] with everyone. [other MSS read: ... with all of you; ... with the set-apart ones; ... with all the set-apart ones].
[Written circa A.D. 68-70 – Based on the critical analysis of John A.T. Robinson]
The warning of vs. 18 shows that the plagues written in this book were not jut happenings of the 1st century, else how could they be later applied to those who add to the words of this prophecy? Vs. 19 shows that one can be kicked out of the City, where they weep and gnash their teeth. This is a figure that applied to the Jews of the 1st century, as Jesus prophesied of their being cast into outer darkness and having regrets (weeping and gnashing teeth; Matt. 8:12, et al) – i.e., losing the kingdom (figured here by the City) to the ethnic multitudes. However, it can also apply to us, "Whoever of you are justifying yourselves by Law, are separated from Christ; you are fallen out of grace" (Gal. 5:4).
It was by partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (= the Law) that man lost his right to the tree of the life in the Garden (here: City). The letter kills; the Spirit gives life.
Vs. 20 presses the point of vs. 12: He told them that He was swiftly coming; that He repeatedly does so. John answers affirmatively in return, "Amen (So be it; It is so; Count on it). Be continuously (or: repeatedly) coming, Lord Jesus!" In all of our stresses and troubles, we usually – in our own words – say the same thing, meaning "come right now and help me!" And He does. I like the reading of the Greek text that makes the positive, universal and inclusive statement, "The GRACE of the Lord Jesus [is] with EVERYONE!!!!!"
Note that there is no copulative (verb of being) in the text, and I supplied the normal "[is]" for such a statement. Others make this a blessing, or a benediction, using the form "[be]" as the copulative. I prefer it as an affirmation – you may make your own choice – based upon John's response to all the glory that he has seen: the one thirsting and willing to drink may come and drink of this grace and receive life! God's grace is here, with everyone!
In closing this study, I want to note a few things pointed out by other scholars. J. Preston Eby noted that Peter (2 Pet. 3:5-6) said re: the time of Noah, "By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water PERISHED." Preston says, "The heavens and earth of old perished, but they were not obliterated out of existence! when righteous Noah stepped out of the ark that bright morning, he stepped onto the soil of the very same earth that existed before the flood, and at night he gazed into the star-spangled splendor of the same heavens above. Yet – all was changed! Was it not a 'new heaven' and a 'new earth' by being purged through the overflowing waters of the flood from the wickedness and corrupt order that previously pervaded it?" (The Kingdom of God: part 46). First the natural; after that (in the 1st century) the spiritual. Here, the world of the Jews was destroyed, and a new creation came into existence.
In an article titled "A Society of Redeemers," published in The Morningstar Journal, Francis Frangipane says, "The character of God is connected to the cross.... The cross is not just a place where wounded people get healed; it's where wounded people become an offering for those who wounded them. The cross represents the perfecting of love in your life.... God is perfecting love in us.... He can only do that in a realm where injustice forces you to have to climb to the nature of Christ..." I would say, "where injustice places you in a situation in which only Christ can lift you to His cross, to obtain His nature." End of quotation.
But I love where, in this same article, Francis says, "To become like Jesus is our destiny." That is what it means to become an "overcomer," in this book. It is the work of Christ within us.
In this book we saw the Lamb as having been slain, yet now alive. But I want to take us to another type. In Rom. 12:1 Paul says, "Consequently, brothers, I am repeatedly calling you folks alongside to exhort, implore and encourage you, through God's compassions to stand your bodies alongside (or: to set or place your bodies beside) [the] Well-pleasing, Set-apart (Holy), Living Sacrifice by God (or: in God; for God; to God; with God), [this being] your sacred service which pertains to thought, reason and communication (or: your rational service; your logical and Word-based service)."
Here I see us called to participate with the antitype of the scapegoat, on the Day of Atonement. In Ex. 16, when Yahweh was to "appear in the cloud, upon the Mercy Seat" (vs. 2), Aaron was to "take two KIDS of the goats for a sin offering..." (vs. 5), and "cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for Yahweh, and the other for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which Yahweh's lot fell, and offer Him as a sin offering. But the goat upon which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, SHALL BE PRESENTED ALIVE before Yahweh, to make an atonement with Him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness" (vs. 8-10). The scapegoat was "a living sacrifice," and Christ goes into the wilderness for us, bearing away the sins of the nation (figure of the whole of humanity). But we also participate in the goat that was slain and offered up, for Paul tells us about "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus" (2 Cor. 4:10).
And consider this: it was the little animal which killed the two witnesses in ch. 11:7. It was also the religion of killing little animals (the Law through the instrument of the Jews) which sacrificed "Christ, our Passover" (1 Cor. 5:7). Is it not the "beast" nature of man which requires atonement for sin? The lost sheep of the house of Israel are a type of mankind lost in Adam. God became a sheep as we saw in ch. 5:6, "a little Lamb, as slain..." He even became a Kid of the goats, "for a sin offering" (call to mind the kids of Matt. 25:31-46). And where the shepherds of Israel had not fed the flock, nor sought that which was lost (Ezk. 34:1-6), "... thus says Yahweh Elohim: behold, I, even I, will both search [for] My sheep, and seek them out. As a Shepherd... so will I seek out my sheep, and deliver them..." (vs. 11-12). "Yahweh is my Shepherd..." (Ps. 23:1). And then we have Jesus, identifying Himself as Yahweh by saying in John 10:11 & 14, "I AM the Good Shepherd..." The Good Shepherd continually gives His life for the sheep. But remember that the overcomer is called to "shepherd the nations (ethnic multitudes)." Thus are we called to "lay down [our lives] for [our] friends" (John 15:13). And, "... that [we] keep on loving one another – correspondingly as (to the same degree as; in the same sphere as) [He] loves [us]" (vs. 12).
We have come full circle to "standing our bodies alongside the Living Sacrifice." Just as we are branches, joined to the Vine, so all that He did we have been a part of; all the we do is really just Him being lived out in us. We produce His fruit. We work His works. We saw in the picture of Jerusalem descending from God, out of heaven, that God was within her (ch. 21:22), and that she has God's glory (ch. 21:11). This shows the answer to the prayer of Jesus, "That they all may be one; as You, Father [are] within Me, and I within You, that they also may be one in Us.... And the glory (manifestation which calls forth praise) which You gave to Me I have given to them.... I within them, and You within Me, that they may be perfected (brought to the goal) into One..." (John 17:21-23). This is the goal of the ages; this is why He is continually coming to us; this is why His grace is with everyone; this is why He is continually and progressively making all things new. All the events and processes that have been pictured for us in this Unveiling have one purpose in mind,
"In regard to an administration of the fullness of the appointed seasons, to re-unite all things under one Head and Source, within the Anointed One (Christ)" – Eph. 1:10. Amen. Make it so. Count on it!
"Only that shall happen which has happened, only that occur which has occurred..." (Eccl. 1:0, Tanakh). Selah.