New Defender's Study Bible Notes
22:1 pure river. The primeval river emerging from Eden (Genesis 2:10) seems to have been a type of this eternal river proceeding from the throne of the Lamb. Like the former river, this also will probably part into four directions, watering the whole city and on out into the whole earth. Since there will be no sea, there will be no rain. This wonderful river of water of life, however, will surely support an abundance of vegetation everywhere—with enough water for the whole world, and with none wasted. Presumably, the Lord will continue to create an unending supply of water from His throne for all these needs.
22:2 tree of life. The cherubim had once been directed by God to prevent sinful men from eating the fruit of the tree of life and living forever in their sins (Genesis 3:22-24). In the New Jerusalem, however, the tree of life will always be freely accessible to all; it will probably also grow alongside the river wherever its distributaries flow throughout the whole earth.
22:2 twelve manner of fruits. Herein is a marvelous thing! Instead of twelve different kinds of fruit trees, each bearing its fruit only in its particular season, God has programmed this tree to bear all of them, each in its proper time.
22:2 every month. There will still be a flow of time in the new earth, and some means (perhaps astronomical, as at present) of measuring time. Even though there will be no night in the city itself, since the glory of God perpetually illumines it, the sun and moon will still be in the sky, and may well continue the normal procession of days, months and years which God had originally established in His “very good” creation in the beginning (Genesis 1:14,31). It is not that time will cease, as some teach, but just that time will never end, “throughout all ages, world without end” (Ephesians 3:21).
22:3 no more curse. The primeval curse (Genesis 3:17-19) will be completely lifted from the new earth (see notes on Revelation 20:11; 21:1,4-5).
22:3 serve him. Life in the new earth will be far more than mere rest and fellowship. There will be ample time for these also, as well as for harps and singing, but there will also be work to do. This work will no doubt be referenced in some appropriate way to our service here in this life (note Revelation 22:12), but will surely be satisfying and fruitful work. In an infinite universe, with an eternity of time, we can never run out of something to do!
22:4 they shall see His face. This is the last reference in the Bible to the face of Jesus Christ. We shall finally see Him face to face! The gospel writers frequently mention His face, but they never give a description. After His arrest and trial, the Roman soldiers “struck Him on the face” (Luke 22:64), apparently so severely and repeatedly that “His visage was so marred more than any man” (Isaiah 52:14). But when He comes again, and we see Him, we shall rejoice forever in “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6).
22:4 their foreheads. Note Revelation 3:12; 7:3.
22:7 blessed. The promised blessing at the beginning of the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:3) is here repeated at its end, with an emphasis on the vital importance of keeping (that is, safeguarding against dilution or distortion or addition) the “sayings” (that is, the very words) of the book, right up to the always-imminent coming of the Lord.
22:11 filthy still. This startling pronouncement, apparently uttered by Christ Himself, indicates that the direction of one’s character, as developed in this present life, will continue the same trend in the future life. In fact, the word “still” could well be translated “more.” That is, those who refuse the righteousness of Christ in this life will not show regret or repentance when consigned to hell in the future life, but will increase in ungodliness and ugliness instead. That may even be a part of hell’s torment, existing forever in an environment of increasing corruption. Those with Christ in the new Jerusalem, on the other hand, will continue to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).
22:14 Blessed. This is the seventh and last of the “beatitudes” in Revelation. See also Revelation 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7.
22:14 do his commandments. Some manuscripts read “wash their robes” instead of “do His commandments,” and it is true that men are not saved by the law but by grace through faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus. There is a reference (Revelation 7:14) to the tribulation saints who have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” and the latter rendering would be consistent with that particular verse. However, there are at least a dozen other references in John’s writings to keeping the commandments of Christ (John 14:15,21; 15:10 (2); I John 2:3-4; 3:22, 24; 5:2-3; Revelation 12:17; 14:12). Although no one is saved by keeping commandments, it is surely true that any person who is genuinely saved will love His commandments and seek to keep them. Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and John would add: “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar” (I John 2:3-4). It seems that the strong weight of internal evidence, as well as textual evidence, favors the traditional King James rendering.
22:15 dogs. The inclusion of “dogs” along with whoremongers, murderers, and other gross sinners would indicate that the sin of being a “dog” is also a flagrant perversion of God’s moral law. The most likely connotation of the use of such a pejorative here would be in reference to the sin of sodomy, commonly practiced by the licentious Gentiles of John’s time, even in their pagan temple worship (Romans 1:26-27). This meaning is derived from God’s command in Deuteronomy 23:17-18: “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” The sin of homosexuality, as well as prostitution of any kind, is “abomination unto the LORD,” and whatsoever “worketh abomination” shall not enter the city (Revelation 21:27).
22:16 churches. This is the first reference to “churches” since the letters to the churches at the beginning of the book (e.g., Revelation 3:22). This is undoubtedly because there will be no true churches as such in the world during the events of the tribulation period, as recorded in Revelation 4–19. However, everything in the book is intended for the instruction of the churches in this present age—hence, this reminder.
22:16 David. The Lord Jesus Christ is both David’s Creator and his descendant (Matthew 22:41-46). That can only be true if He is both God and Man, the God/Man.
22:16 morning star. Satan had aspired to be “Lucifer, son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12), where “Lucifer” can also be translated “Day-Star” (Hebrew haylel), referring to Venus, the bright star of the dawning. Here, however, after Satan has been forever banished to the lake of fire, Christ proclaims that He alone is “the bright morning star,” where “morning” in this case is the Greek orthoinos, always referring only to Venus, the star of early dawn. At the end of his Revelation, the Lord is reminding all readers that He, not Satan, is the harbinger of eternal light and life. The great conflict of the ages between Satan and Christ, the old serpent and the promised Seed of the woman, will soon be over. Christ is the true Day-Star, Son of the morning.
22:17 whosoever will. This final invitation of the Bible urges “whosoever will” to come to Christ. The water of everlasting life is freely available to all who thirst for God and His righteousness. There is no need for anyone to go to hell, but salvation is given only to those who will to come. Then, those who have come in answer to the invitation, the Bride, through the indwelling Spirit, join in the invitation, but in addition will cry out for Christ to come. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
22:18 the words. Note the importance of the words! The conveyance of precise thoughts requires the use of precise words. Only the doctrine of verbal inerrancy adequately expresses the true nature of Biblical inspiration. This warning at the end of the book of Revelation (in fact, the end of the Bible) stresses the necessity of literal interpretation. Actually, a literal interpretation is not an interpretation at all, for it takes the words at face value, assuming that the Holy Spirit (using the thoughts and abilities of the human writer whose words He inspired) was able to say exactly what He meant to say. Any kind of allegorical or figurative interpretation of those words (unless directly indicated as required in the context) assumes that the interpreter knows better than the Holy Spirit what He should be saying, and such an attitude is presumptuous, if not blasphemous.
22:18 this book. The word “book” here is the Greek biblion (in Revelation 22:19 it is biblos). This, of course, is where the “Bible” got its name. Here John warns, first of all, against adding to the prophecies given in the book of Revelation. In a broader sense, however, he would warn against adding to the Bible itself, for he was the last of the apostles, and Jesus had in effect told His apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to bring all things to their remembrance, to guide them into all truth, and to reveal to them things to come (John 14:26; 15:26). Also, the Apostle Paul had written that the church would be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” and that the truths of the New Testament would be “revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5). That “foundation” of divine revelation has been laid in the apostolic era, and thus need not be laid again. Furthermore, Paul had said that the gift of prophecy would cease once “that which is perfect [or ‘complete’] is come” (I Corinthians 13:8, 10). There can be little doubt, therefore, that John’s warning in this vitally important verse at the end of the Bible, applies to any new revelation. Both Christ and the apostles repeatedly warned against false prophets, and here—and only here—is the criterion by which to recognize such.
22:19 take away from the words. Even more serious a crime than adding words to the Bible (as many cults have presumed to do) is that of taking away from its words (as numerous liberal theologians have done). Taking human reason with its evolutionary presuppositions as their guide instead of Biblical authority, the cultic and liberal approach has tried to undermine every book of the Bible, especially the foundational book of Genesis and the consummational book of Revelation. As the Apostle Peter had already warned, they deny or allegorize “the promise of His coming” by their willing ignorance of the supernatural creation of the world in the beginning and its later cataclysmic destruction by the great Flood (II Peter 3:3-6). These assumptions, they think, give them license to “wrest…the Scriptures” however they please, but it can only be “unto their own destruction” (II Peter 3:16). It is very dangerous for believers to be influenced by either cultists or liberals (note II Peter 3:17), but it is deadly for one to become a leader or teacher of such things.
22:20 come quickly. Here is Christ’s last, and greatest, promise. Although the promise was given over 1900 years ago, His coming has actually been imminent in every generation. In the scale of eternity, of course, even 1900 years is a very brief period of time. In any case, His coming is sure, and when He does come, all the events associated with it will indeed take place quickly, as described in this book. In the meantime, we must simply obey His command to “occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).
22:20 come, Lord Jesus. Here is the last, and most appropriate, prayer of the Bible. The Lord, indeed, taught us that our first request in praying should always be, in effect: “Thy kingdom come. They will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Our attitude always should be to “love His appearing” (II Timothy 4:8) and to “abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (I John 2:28).
22:21 grace. Paul always began and ended his epistles with reference to the grace of Christ, and so did John here in Revelation (note Revelation 1:4). It is all of grace—we live, are saved, live and die—all by the grace of God in Christ. And that isn’t all. “In the ages to come,” our God of all grace will “shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 2:7). In the words of John’s benediction, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will indeed be with us all throughout the eternal ages to come, and we can only whisper in awe and thanksgiving: “Amen!”