2/12/18 Revelation 22:1-11 “The beginning of forever”
Revelation 22:1 – And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
shewed – deiknuo (show; expose to sight; give evidence of something; show by words; teach)
pure – katharos (clean; pure; purified by fire; ceremonially clean; free from corrupt desire, sin and guilt; blameless; innocent; sincere; genuine)
Catharsis and cathartic both trace to the Greek word kathairein, meaning “to cleanse, purge.” (Merriam-Webster)
clear – lampros (shining; brilliant; clear; transparent; splendid; magnificent) Like a gemstone with lustre.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 talks of a river that starts at the temple and gets deeper the further it runs; after 4,000 cubits it was too deep to cross other than by swimming. However, in Vs 1 above there is no more temple; the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple now (Revelation 21:22). Otherwise the 2 passages may have some consistency with each other. In Ezekiel the river appears to represent the Holy Spirit proceeding from the temple of God; here it represents the Holy Spirit proceeding from throne of the Father and the Son (who are now the temple).
Also note Genesis 2:10 – And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
This river is pure (symbolising the holy purity of God and of heaven) demonstrated by its extreme clarity. (Note the purity of Lake Baikal in southern Siberia.) It represents the eternal life that comes only from God – note John 4:14 – But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Psalm 1:1-6 – 1 Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight [is] in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly [are] not so: but [are] like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Cambridge commentary suggests that if new Jerusalem is in the form of a pyramid, with the throne at its pinnacle, then there could be 4 streams of living waters flowing, one down each of the 4 sides (Genesis 2:10 says the river breaks up into four heads). However, the wording does tend to suggest a single flow of water.
Revelation 22:2 – In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations (ethnos).
the street – plateia (broad way; street) We probably get “plateau” from this Greek word.
on either side – or “on both sides”
the healing – therapeia (service rendered by one to another; especially medical service: curing; healing; household service; domestic servants) Cf “therapy”
It will produce one kind of fruit each month, 12 kinds in all (note the number 12 repetition – 12 gates and 12 foundations of the city). Or, does it produce 12 fruit harvests each year, one per month, yet not necessarily different kinds of fruit? Rather than there being just the one tree of life, it is likely that there is one single type of tree but planted in rows probably alongside the river on both sides, bearing 12 different kinds of fruit – or 12 seasons of fruit, yet possibly the same fruit – on the same trees, according to the month. (Although if there is no real time any more, then how may months be counted? In any case, the fruit will always be in season and it will never run out, noting the consistency with Ezekiel 47:12 below.)
The leaves of the tree are for healing, although it must also be considered that no-one can get sick any more anyway. Note that Adam and Eve were prevented from approaching the tree of life in the garden (Genesis 3:24), so perhaps the nations need to use the leaves of this eternal tree of life for healing? Or does it merely symbolise the eternal well-being of those who will live for eternity in this place? These trees of life are abundant and ever-bearing, probably symbolising the eternally continuous harvest of life and healing.
Ezekiel 47:12 – And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
Note that “meat” (ma’akal) (Ezekiel 47:12) can mean food, fruit or meat.
Revelation 22:3 – And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants (doulos) shall serve him:
curse – katanathema (curse) Used only here in the NT.
From root word anathema (“accursed” as in Romans 9:3a – For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren,) which is translated “anathema” in 1 Corinthians 16:22 – If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha (Maranatha = “The Lord is at hand” or “The Lord is come” and there should be a disconnection between “Anathema” and “Maranatha”).
shall serve – latreuo (serve for hire; serve or minister to either gods or men, used alike of slaves and freeman; render religious service; worship)
God couldn’t be with the Hebrews while they had the accursed thing among them.
Joshua 7:11-13 – 11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put [it] even among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, [but] turned [their] backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, [There is] an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.
There shall be no more curse, or utter destruction as in the following (Vs 11):
Zechariah 14:8-11 – 8 And it shall be in that day, [that] living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9 And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. 10 All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and [from] the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. 11 And [men] shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
There shall be no more curse for all in this city have been redeemed from that curse.
Galatians 3:13-14 – 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The throne of God and the Lamb symbolises the holiness of this city; they would not be present if the curse remained in any form at all. And the servants of God (those who have by their own free will chosen to receive the gift of life that has redeemed them from the curse) will serve God. Note that to translate doulos as slaves would be totally inappropriate in this context, for it would imply that God has somehow forced them to be there (which is how the calvinists would have to see it, noting MacArthur’s heretical book Slave!).
Revelation 22:4 – And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads.
It is assumed that this is talking about new Jerusalem, although it isn’t clearly stated.
And all those in new Jerusalem will see God; no more will He be unapproachable (as dwelling in unapproachable light – 1 Timothy 6:16). No more will He be as Isaiah saw Him in his vision (Isaiah 6:5 – Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.)
No more will there be a need to hide from God because of our sin.
Genesis 3:9-10 – 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where [art] thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I [was] naked; and I hid myself.
Just as having the mark of the beast on forehead or right hand signified the worship of the beast, the name of God on the forehead signified the worship of God, and consequently God’s ownership of these people.
Revelation 14:1 – And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty [and] four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
Revelation 22:5 – And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
Revelation 21:25 also stated that there would be no more night in this city, and likewise again here. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be no more sun, nor moon (although that’s possible), but that there will be no more need of any light other than that of the Lord God.
they shall reign for ever and ever – they shall exercise kingly power for aeons and aeons. But, who or what will they reign over? For, who is excepted from this kingly power? If this includes all the redeemed, then do they reign over one another? Unlikely. Or do they rule over God’s creation as Adam and Eve were supposed to until they fell into sin?
Genesis 1:26 – And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
I believe that in this eternal place, man will be given the dominion once given to Adam, only this dominion will be free from the fall of sin.
Revelation 22:6 – And he said unto me, These sayings [are] faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
servants – doulos
faithful and true – trustworthy (able to be trusted) and sincere (certain).
Revelation 21:5 – And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Revelation 19:11 – And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
Revelation 3:14 – And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
That is, what has been said may be fully trusted to happen, and are not in any way a lie or falsehood; they are faithful and true, because the same God who spoke through His prophets (no doubt especially of these events) has sent his messenger (aggelos) to reveal the things which must be done (come to pass) soon (in a short while; shortly). God has spoken; just trust that it will happen exactly as God has spoken it. What has been prophesied will come to pass! And “shortly”!
2 Peter 1:20-21 – 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.
Also note 1 Corinthians 14:29-33 – 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If [any thing] be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Revelation 22:7 – Behold, I come quickly: blessed [is] he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Behold, I (Christ – see Revelation 22:12) come without delay. Blessed (how happy) is he who keeps the sayings (words – logos) of the prophecy of this book (biblion – small book; written document). This diminutive form of book seems to have been used to describe just this book that John has written out, that is, the Apocalypse (or Revelation). The one who keeps himself according to the words of this prophecy will indeed be blessed!
Theoretically this is to be applied to all people from the time of John writing this out; this is clearly indicated by the order to not seal these words of prophecy in Vs 10 below. When such sayings are sealed, they are to be held from the knowledge of people until the seal is broken, such as in Revelation 10:4 – And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. That is, what those voices uttered was not to be revealed until later, possibly when they were to actually happen perhaps. But here they are not to be sealed, so what is said may be applied to all people, in particular, those suffering trials and persecution. No doubt those who were suffering would be comforted by these words. Compare this with Romans 8:18 – For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Revelation 22:8 – And I John saw these things, and heard [them]. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
John affirms (testifies) that he has seen and heard these things of which he has written, that it is not just some carefully planned fable designed to deceive.
2 Peter 1:16 – For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
John is an “eye-witness” of what he has seen and heard in his vision, in the same way that he was an eye-witness of Christ the Saviour.
1 John 4:14 – And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son [to be] the Saviour of the world.
He fell down to worship the angel, not because he hadn’t realised that this was indeed an angel, but probably because of the glorious state of this mighty angel.
Revelation 22:9 – Then saith he unto me, See [thou do it] not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
fellowservant – syndoulos This term signifies that they are one in serving God. syn signifies one from many, a synthesis. That is, John should not bow down to the angel because when it comes to serving God, they are one with each other, effectively equals in serving God. Do not worship me says the angel because I also am a fellow-worshipper of God. I am also a fellow-servant together with your brethren the prophets, says the angel, and also with those who keep the sayings of this book (biblion – see next Vs plus Revelation 22:18-19), and all must worship God.
That this means God alone has to be assumed as true. God alone must be given glory –
Isaiah 42:8 – I [am] the Lord: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
Isaiah 43:11 – I, [even] I, [am] the Lord; and beside me [there is] no saviour.
Isaiah 44:6 – Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God.
Isaiah 45:5a – I [am] the Lord, and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me:
Note that they must keep the sayings of this book (diminutive of “book”) which strongly implies the Revelation. That is, there is no point in worshipping God unless you obey His commandments. John 14:15 – If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Revelation 22:10 – And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
And the angel said to John, “Do not seal the sayings (logos – words) of the prophecy (propheteia) of this book (biblion), for the time (the right time for this to happen; the time appointed for this to happen) is at hand (nigh; imminent).
Revelation was mostly meant (except for a passage where John is told to seal the utterings) to be read and understood by all Christians since John wrote this. Revelation was never meant to be put on a back shelf waiting for the time when it would be needed to be used as a guide to get people through the final stages of this earth as we know it.
Revelation 22:11 – He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
unjust – adikeo (act unjustly or wickedly; sin; be a criminal; violate laws in some way; do wrong; do hurt; to wrong someone)
filthy – rhupoo (make filthy; defile; soil; be filthy morally)
righteous – dikaios (righteous; observing divine laws; virtuous; keeping the commands of God; innocent; faultless; guiltless; approved of or accepted of God; in a narrower sense, rendering to each his due and that in a judicial sense, passing just judgment on others, whether expressed in words or shown by the manner of dealing with them)
holy – hagios (holy; characteristic of God; separated to God; worthy of veneration; Its highest application is to God himself, in his purity, majesty and glory; things and places sacred to God; persons employed by God [such as angels]; persons separated to God’s service; of Christ; of Christians; in a moral sense, sharing God’s purity; of pure, clean sacrifices and offerings)
The point here is that by this time, all people will have determined which side of the fence they would be on for the rest of eternity. If you’re condemned now, you will remain that way. If you’re living in in heaven (or new Jerusalem as this passage appears to refer to) then you’ll be there for eternity. Your die is cast, your eternal future is settled forever now. Now you may claim eternal security or eternal condemnation forever.
Addendum – Lake Baikal – 395 x 79 miles, 23% of world’s fresh surface water supplies, possibly the clearest and purest of fresh water lakes in the world, although, like everywhere else, modern pollution is taking its toll. At almost a mile deep it is the deepest lake in the world.