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.
And he showed me a pure river of water of life - In the New Jerusalem; the happy abode of the redeemed. The phrase "water of life," means living or running water, like a spring or fountain, as contrasted with a stagnant pool. See the notes on John 4:14. The allusion here is doubtless to the first Eden, where a river watered the garden (Genesis 2:10, seq.), and as this is a description of Eden recovered, or Paradise regained, it was natural to introduce a river of water also, yet in such a way as to accord with the general description of that future abode of the redeemed. It does not spring up, therefore, from the ground, but flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. Perhaps, also, the writer had in his eye the description in Ezekiel 47:1-12, where a stream issues from under the temple, and is parted in different directions.
Clear as crystal - See the notes on Revelation 4:6.
Proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb - Flowing from the foot of the throne. Compare Revelation 4:6. This idea is strictly in accordance with Oriental imagery. In the East, fountains and running streams constituted an essential part of the image of enjoyment and prosperity (see the notes on Isaiah 35:6), and such fountains were common in the courts of Oriental houses. Here, the river is an emblem of peace, happiness, plenty; and the essential thought in its flowing from the throne is, that all the happiness of heaven proceeds from God.
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.
In the midst of the street of it - Prof. Stuart renders this, "between the street thereof and the river"; and says that "the writer conceives of the river as running through the whole city; then of streets parallel to it on either side; and then, on the banks of the river, between the water and the street, the whole stream is lined on either side with two rows of the tree of life." The more common interpretation, however, is doubtless admissible, and would give a more beautiful image; that in the street, or streets of the city, as well as on the banks of the river, the tree of life was planted. It abounded everywhere. The city had not only a river passing through it, but it was pervaded by streets, and all those streets were lined and shaded with this tree. The idea in the mind of the writer is that of Eden or Paradise; but it is not the Eden of the book of Genesis, or the Oriental or Persian Paradise: it is a picture where all is combined, that in the view of the writer would constitute beauty, or contribute to happiness.
And on either side of the river - As well as in all the streets. The writer undoubtedly conceives of a single river running through the city - probably as meandering along - and that river lined on both sides with the tree of life. This gives great beauty to the imagery.
Was there the tree of life - Not a single tree, but it abounded everywhere - on the banks of the river, and in all the streets. It was the common tree in this blessed Paradise - of which all might partake, and which was everywhere the emblem of immortality. In this respect, this new Paradise stands in strong contrast with that in which Adam was placed at his creation, where there seems to have been a single tree that was designated as the tree of life, Genesis 3:22-23. In the future state of the blessed, that tree will abound, and all may freely partake of it; the emblem, the pledge of immortal life, will be constantly before the eyes, whatever part of the future abode may be traversed, and the inhabitants of that blessed world may constantly partake of it.
Which bare twelve manner of fruits - "Producing twelve fruit-harvests; not (as our version) twelve manner of fruits" (Prof. Stuart). The idea is not that there are twelve kinds of fruit on the same tree, for that is not implied in the language used by John. The literal rendering is, "producing twelve fruits" - ποιοῦν καρποὺς δώδεκα poioun karpous dōdeka. The word "manner" has been introduced by the translators without authority. The idea is, that the tree bore every month in the year, so that there were twelve fruit-harvests. It was not like a tree that bears but once a year, or in one season only, but it constantly bore fruit - it bore every month. The idea is that of abundance, not variety. The supply never fails; the tree is never barren. As there is but a single class of trees referred to, it might have been supposed, perhaps, that, according to the common method in which fruit is produced, there would be sometimes plenty and sometimes want; but the writer says that, though there is but one kind, yet the supply is ample. The tree is everywhere; it is constantly producing fruit.
And yielded her fruit every month - The word "and" is also supplied by the translators, and introduces an idea which is not in the original, as if there was not only a succession of harvests, which is in the text, but that each one differed from the former, which is not in the text. The proper translation is, "producing twelve fruits, yielding or rendering its fruit in each month." Thus there is, indeed, a succession of fruit-crops, but it is the same kind of fruit. We are not to infer, however, that there will not be variety in the occupations and the joys of the heavenly state, for there can be no doubt that there will be ample diversity in the employments, and in the sources of happiness, in heaven; but the single thought expressed here is, that the means of life will be abundant: the trees of life will be everywhere, and they will be constantly yielding fruit.
And the leaves of the tree - Not only the fruit will contribute to give life, but even the leaves will be salutary. Everything about it will contribute to sustain life.
Were for the healing - That is, they contribute to impart life and health to those who had been diseased. We are not to suppose that there will be sickness, and a healing process in heaven, for that idea is expressly excluded in Revelation 21:4; but the meaning is, that the life and health of that blessed world will have been imparted by partaking of that tree; and the writer says that, in fact, it was owing to it that they who dwell there had been healed of their spiritual maladies, and had been made to live forever.
Of the nations - Of all the nations assembled there, Revelation 21:24. There is a close resemblance between the language used here by John and that used by Ezekiel EZechariah 47:12, and it is not improbable that both these writers refer to the same thing. Compare also in the Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 2:12; 8:52-54.
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
And there shall be no more curse - This is doubtless designed to be in strong contrast with our present abode; and it is affirmed that what now properly comes under the name of a curse, or whatever is part of the curse pronounced on man by the fall, will be there unknown. The earth will be no more cursed, and will produce no more thorns and thistles; man will be no more compelled to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; woman will be no more doomed to bear the sufferings which she does now; and the abodes of the blessed will be no more cursed by sickness, sorrow, tears, and death.
But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it - God will reign there forever; the principles of purity and love which the Lamb of God came to establish, will pervade that blessed abode to all eternity.
And his servants shall serve him - All his servants that are there; that is, all the inhabitants of that blessed world. For the meaning of this passage, see the notes on Revelation 7:15.
And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
And they shall see his face - See the notes on Matthew 18:10. They would be constantly in his presence, and be permitted continually to behold his glory.
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.
And there shall be no night there - notes on Revelation 21:25.
And they need no candle - No lamp; no artificial light, as in a world where there is night and darkness.
Neither light of the sun; for the Lord God, ... - See the notes on Revelation 21:23.
This portion of the Apocalypse contains the most full and complete continuous description of the state of the righteous, in the world of blessedness, that is to be found in the Bible. It seems to be proper, therefore, to pause on it for a moment, and to state in a summary manner what will be the principal features of that blessedness. All can see that, as a description, it occupies an appropriate place, not only in regard to this book, but to the volume of revealed truth. In reference to this particular book, it is the appropriate close of the account of the conflicts, the trials, and the persecutions of the church; in reference to the whole volume of revealed truth, it is appropriate because it occurs in the last of the inspired books that was written. It was proper that a volume of revealed truth given to mankind, and designed to describe a great work of redeeming mercy, should close with a description of the state of the righteous after death.
The principal features in the description are the following:
(1) There will be a new heaven and a new earth: a new order of things, and a world adapted to the condition of the righteous. There will be such changes produced in the earth, and such abodes suited up for the redeemed, that it will be proper to say that they are "new," Revelation 21:1.
(2) the locality of that abode is not determined. No particular place is revealed as constituting heaven; nor is it intimated that there would be such a place. For anything that appears, the universe at large will be heaven - the earth and all worlds; and we are left free to suppose that the redeemed will yet occupy any position of the universe, and be permitted to behold the special glories of the divine character that are manifested in each of the worlds that he has made. Compare the notes on 1 Peter 1:12. That there may be some one place in the universe that will be their permanent home, and that will be more properly called heaven, where the glory of their God and Saviour will be especially manifested, is not improbable; but still there is nothing to prevent the hope and the belief that in the infinite duration that awaits them they will be permitted to visit all the worlds that God has made, and to learn in each, and from each, all that he has especially manifested of his own character and glory there.
(3) that future state will be entirely and forever free from all the consequences of the apostasy as now seen on the earth. There will be neither tears, nor sorrow, nor death, nor crying, nor pain, nor curse, Revelation 21:4; Revelation 22:3. It will, therefore, be a perfectly happy abode.
(a) all real happiness has its foundation in holiness; and,
(b) the source of all the misery that the universe has experienced is sin. Let that be removed, and the earth would be happy; let it be extinguished from any world, and its happiness will be secure.
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.
And he said unto me - The angel-interpreter, who had showed John the vision of the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:9-10. As these visions are now at an end, the angel comes to John directly, and assures him that all these things are true - that there has been no deception of the senses in these visions, but that they were really divine disclosures of what would soon and certainly occur.
These sayings are faithful and true - These communications - all that has been disclosed to you by symbols, or in direct language. See the notes on Revelation 21:5.
And the Lord God of the holy prophets - The same God who inspired the ancient prophets.
Sent his angel - See the notes on Revelation 1:1.
To show unto his servants - To all his servants - that is, to all his people, by the instrumentality of John. The revelation was made to him, and he was to record it for the good of the whole church.
The things which must shortly be done - The beginning of which must soon occur - though the series of events extended into distant ages, and even into eternity. See the notes on Revelation 1:1-3.
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Behold, I come quickly - See the notes on Revelation 1:3. The words used here are undoubtedly the words of the Redeemer, although they are apparently repeated by the angel. The meaning is, that they were used by the angel as the words of the Redeemer. See Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20.
Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book - That receives them as a divine communication; that makes use of them to comfort himself in the days of darkness, persecution, and trial; and that is obedient to the precepts here enjoined. See the notes on Revelation 1:3.
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.
And I John saw these things, and heard them - That is, I saw the parts that were disclosed by pictures, visions, and symbols; I heard the parts that were communicated by direct revelation.
And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel, ... - As he had done on a former occasion. See the notes on Revelation 19:10. John appears to have been entirely overcome by the extraordinary nature of the revelations made to him, and not improbably entertained some suspicion that it was the Redeemer himself who had manifested himself to him in this remarkable manner.
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.
Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not - See the notes on Revelation 19:10.
For I am thy fellow-servant - notes on Revelation 19:10.
And of thy brethren the prophets - In Revelation 19:10, it is "of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus." Here the angel says that, in the capacity in which he appeared to John, he belonged to the general rank of the prophets, and was no more entitled to worship than any of the prophets had been. Like them, he had merely been employed to disclose important truths in regard to the future; but as the prophets, even the most eminent of them, were not regarded as entitled to worship on account of the communications which they had made, no more was he.
And of them which keep the sayings of this book - "I am a mere creature of God." I, like human beings, am under law, and am bound to observe the law of God. The "sayings of this book" which he says he kept, must be understood to mean those great principles of religion which it enjoined, and which are of equal obligation on human beings and angels.
Worship God - Worship God only. See the notes on Revelation 19:10.
And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
And he saith unto me - The angel.
Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book - That is, seal not the book itself, for it may be regarded altogether as a prophetic book. On the sealing of a book, see the notes on Revelation 5:1 . Isaiah (Isaiah 8:16; Isaiah 30:8) and Daniel (Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:4, Daniel 12:9) were commanded to seal up their prophecies. Their prophecies related to far-distant times, and the idea in their being commanded to seal them was, that they should make the record sure and unchangeable; that they should finish it, and lay it up for future ages; so that, in far-distant times, the events might be compared with the prophecy, and it might be seen that there was an exact correspondence between the prophecy and the fulfillment. Their prophecies would not be immediately demanded for the use of persecuted saints, but would pertain to future ages. On the other hand, the events which John had predicted, though in their ultimate development they were to extend to the end of the world, and even into eternity, were about to begin to be fulfilled, and were to be of immediate use in consoling a persecuted church. John, therefore, was directed not to seal up his predictions; not to lay them away, to be opened, as it were, in distant ages; but to leave them open, so that a persecuted church might have access to them, and might, in times of persecution and trial, have the assurance that the principles of their religion would finally triumph. See the notes on Revelation 10:2.
For the time is at hand - That is, they are soon to commence. It is not implied that they would be soon completed. The idea is, that as the scenes of persecution were soon to open upon the church, it was important that the church should have access to these prophecies of the final triumph of religion, to sustain it in its trials. Compare the notes on Revelation 1:1, Revelation 1:3.
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.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still - This must refer to the scenes beyond the judgment, and must be intended to affirm an important truth in regard to the condition of people in the future state. It cannot refer to the condition of human beings on this side the grave, for there is no fixed and unchangeable condition in this world. At the close of this book, and at the close of the whole volume of revealed truth, it was proper to declare, in the most solemn manner, that when these events were consummated, everything would be fixed and unchanging; that all who were then found to be righteous would remain so forever; and that none who were impenitent, impure, and wicked, would ever change their character or condition. That this is the meaning here seems to me to be plain; and this sentiment accords with all that is said in the Bible of the final condition of the righteous and the wicked.
See Matthew 25:46; Romans 2:6-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Daniel 12:2; Ecclesiastes 11:3. Every assurance is held out in the Bible that the righteous will be secure in holiness and happiness, and that there will be no danger - no possibility - that they will fall into sin, and sink to woe; and by the same kind of arguments by which it is proved that their condition will be unchanging, is it demonstrated that the condition of the wicked will be unchanging also. The argument for the eternal punishment of the wicked is as strong as that for the eternal happiness of the righteous; and if the one is open to doubt, there is no security for the permanence of the other. The word "unjust" here is a general term for an unrighteous or wicked man. The meaning is, that he to whom that character properly belongs, or of whom it is properly descriptive, will remain so forever. The design of this seems to be, to let the ungodly and the wicked know that there is no change beyond the grave, and by this solemn consideration to warn them now to flee from the wrath to come. And assuredly no more solemn consideration can ever be presented to the human mind than this.
And he which is filthy, let him be filthy still - The word "filthy" here is, of course, used with reference to moral defilement or pollution. It refers to the sensual, the corrupt, the profane; and the meaning is, that, their condition will be fixed, and that they will remain in this state of pollution forever. There is nothing more awful than the idea that a polluted soul will be always polluted; that a heart corrupt will be always corrupt; that the defiled will be put forever beyond the possibility of being cleansed from sin.
And he that is righteous, let him be righteous still - The just, the upright man - in contradistinction from the unjust mentioned in the first part of the verse.
And he that is holy, let him be holy still - He that is pure, in contradistinction from the filthy mentioned in the former part of the verse. The righteous and the holy will be confirmed in their character and condition, as well as the wicked. The affirmation that their condition will be fixed is as strong as that that of the wicked will be - and no stronger; the entire representation is, that all beyond the judgment will be unchanging forever. Could anymore solemn thought be brought before the mind of man?
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
And behold, I come quickly - See the notes on Revelation 1:1, Revelation 1:3. These are undoubtedly the words of the Redeemer; and the meaning is, that the period when the unchanging sentence would be passed on each individual - on the unjust, the filthy, the righteous, and the holy - would not be remote. The design of this seems to be to impress on the mind the solemnity of the truth that the condition hereafter will soon be fixed, and to lead people to prepare for it. In reference to each individual, the period is near when it is to be determined whether he will be holy or sinful to all eternity. What thought could there be more adapted to impress on the mind the importance of giving immediate attention to the concerns of the soul?
And my reward is with me - I bring it with me to give to every man: either life or death; heaven or hell; the crown or the curse. He will be prepared immediately to execute the sentence. Compare Matthew 25:31-46.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
I am Alpha and Omega ... - See the notes on Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:11. The idea here is, that he will thus show that he is the first and the last - the beginning and the end. He originated the whole plan of salvation, and he will determine its close; he formed the world, and he will wind up its affairs. In the beginning, the continuance, and the end, he will be recognized as the same being presiding over and controlling all.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Blessed are they that do his commandments - See the notes on Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:7.
That they may have right - That they may be entitled to approach the tree of life; that this privilege may be granted to them. It is not a right in the sense that they have merited it, but in the sense that the privilege is conferred on them as one of the rewards of God, and that, in virtue of the divine arrangements, they will be entitled to this honor. So the word used here - ἐξουσία exousia - means in John 1:12, rendered "power." The reason why this right or privilege is conferred is not implied in the use of the word. In this case it is by grace, and all the right which they have to the tree of life is founded on the fact that God has been pleased graciously to confer it on them.
To the tree of life - See the notes on Revelation 22:2. They would not be forbidden to approach that tree as Adam was, but would be permitted always to partake of it, and would live forever.
And may enter in through the gates into the city - The New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:2. They would have free access there; they would be permitted to abide there forever.
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
For without are dogs - The wicked, the depraved, the vile: for of such characters the dogs, an unclean animal among the Jews, was regarded as a symbol, Deuteronomy 23:18. On the meaning of the expression, see the notes on Philippians 3:2. The word "without" means that they would not be admitted into the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:8, Revelation 21:27.
And sorcerers, ... - All these characters are specified in Revelation 21:8, as excluded from heaven. See the notes on that verse. The only change is, that those who "love and make a lie" are added to the list; that is, who delight in lies, or what is false.
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
I Jesus - Here the Saviour appears expressly as the speaker - ratifying and confirming all that had been communicated by the instrumentality of the angel.
Have sent mine angel - See the notes on Revelation 1:1.
To testify unto you - That is, to be a witness for me in communicating these things to you.
I am the root - Not the root in the sense that David sprang from him, as a tree does from a root, but in the sense that he was the "root-shoot" of David, or that he himself sprang from him, as a sprout starts up from a decayed and fallen tree - as of the oak, the willow, the chestnut, etc. See this explained in the notes on Isaiah 11:1. The meaning then is, not that he was the ancestor of David, or that David sprang from him, but that he was the offspring of David, according to the promise in the Scripture, that the Messiah should be descended from him. No argument, then, can be derived from this passage in proof of the pre-existence, or the divinity of Christ.
And the offspring - The descendant; the progeny of David; "the seed of David according to the flesh." See the notes on Romans 1:3. It is not unusual to employ two words in close connection to express the same idea with some slight shade of difference.
And the bright and morning star - See the notes on Revelation 2:28. It is not uncommon to compare a prince, a leader, a teacher, with that bright and beautiful star which at some seasons of the year precedes the rising of the sun, and leads on the day. Compare the notes on Isaiah 14:12. The reference here is to that star as the harbinger of day; and the meaning of the Saviour is, that he sustains a relation to a dark world similar to this beautiful star. At one time he is indeed compared with the sun itself in giving light to the world; here he is compared with that morning star rather with reference to its beauty than its light. May it not also have been one object in this comparison to lead us, when we look on that star, to think of the Saviour? It is perhaps the most beautiful object in nature; it succeeds the darkness of the night; it brings on the day - and as it mingles with the first rays of the morning, it seems to be so joyous, cheerful, exulting, bright, that nothing can be better adapted to remind us of Him who came to lead on eternal day. Its place - the first thing that arrests the eye in the morning - might serve to remind us that the Saviour should be the first object that should draw the eye and the heart on the return of each day. In each trial - each scene of sorrow - let us think of the bright star of the morning as it rises on the darkness of the night - emblem of the Saviour rising on our sorrow and our gloom.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come - That is, come to the Saviour; come and partake of the blessings of the gospel; come and be saved. The construction demands this interpretation, as the latter part of the verse shows. The design of this whole verse is, evidently, to show the freeness of the offers of the gospel; to condense in a summary manner all the invitations of mercy to mankind; and to leave on the mind at the close of the book a deep impression of the ample provision which has been made for the salvation of a fallen race. Nothing, it is clear, could be more appropriate at the close of this book, and at the close of the whole volume of revealed truth, than to announce, in the most clear and attracting form, that salvation is free to all, and that whosoever will may be saved.
The Spirit - The Holy Spirit. He entreats all to come. This he does:
(a) in all the recorded invitations in the Bible - for it is by the inspiration of that Spirit that these invitations are recorded;
(b) by all his influences on the understandings, the consciences, and the hearts of people;
(c) by all the proclamations of mercy made by the preaching of the gospel, and by the appeal which friend makes to friend, and neighbor to neighbor, and stranger to stranger - for all these are methods in which the Spirit invites people to come to the Saviour.
(a) by its ministers, whose main business it is to extend this invitation to mankind;
(b) by its ordinances - constantly setting forth the freeness of the gospel;
(c) by the lives of its consistent members - showing the excellency and the desirableness of true religion;
(d) by all its efforts to do good in the world;
(e) by the example of those who are brought into the church - showing that all, whatever may have been their former character, may be saved; and,
(f) by the direct appeals of its individual members.
Thus a Christian parent invites his children; a brother invites a sister, and a sister invites a brother; a neighbor invites his neighbor, and a stranger a stranger; the master invites his servant, and the servant his master. The church on earth and the church in heaven unite in the invitation, saying, Come. The living father, pastor, friend, invites - and the voice of the departed father, pastor, friend, now in heaven, is heard re-echoing the invitation. The once-loved mother that has gone to the skies still invites her children to come; and the sweet-smiling babe that has been taken up to the Saviour stretches out its arms from heaven, and says to its mother - "Come."
Say, Come - That is, come to the Saviour; come into the church; come to heaven.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
For I testify - The writer does not specify who is meant by the word "I" in this place. The most natural construction is to refer it to the writer himself, and not to the angel, or the Saviour. The meaning is, "I bear this solemn witness, or make this solemn affirmation, in conclusion." The object is to guard his book against being corrupted by any interpolation or change. It would seem not improbable, from this, that as early as the time of John, books were liable to be corrupted by additions or omissions, or that at least there was felt to be great danger that mistakes might be made by the carelessness of transcribers. Against this danger, John would guard this book in the most solemn manner. Perhaps he felt, too, that as this book would be necessarily regarded as obscure from the fact that symbols were so much used, there was great danger that changes would be made by well-meaning persons with a view to make it appear more plain.
Unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book - The word "heareth" seems here to be used in a very general sense. Perhaps in most cases persons would be made acquainted with the contents of the book by hearing it read in the churches; but still the spirit of the declaration must include all methods of becoming acquainted with it.
If any man shall add unto these things - With a view to furnish a more full and complete revelation; or with a profession that new truth had been communicated by inspiration. The reference here is to the book of Revelation only - for at that time the books that now constitute what we call the Bible were not collected into a single volume. This passage, therefore, should not be adduced as referring to the whole of the sacred Scriptures. Still, the principle is one that is thus applicable; for it is obvious that no one has a right to change any part of a revelation which God makes to man; to presume to add to it, or to take from it, or in any way to modify it. Compare the notes at 2 Timothy 3:16.
God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book - These "plagues" refer to the numerous methods described in this book as those in which God would bring severe judgment upon the persecutors of the church and the corrupters of religion. The meaning is, that such a person would be regarded as an enemy of his religion, and would share the fearful doom of all such enemies.
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy - If he shall reject the book altogether; if he shall, in transcribing it, designedly strike any part of it out. It is conceivable that, from the remarkable nature of the communications made in this book, and the fact that they seemed to be unintelligible, John supposed there might be those who would be inclined to omit some portions as improbable, or that he apprehended that when the portions which describe antichrist were fulfilled in distant ages, those to whom those portions applied would be disposed to strike them from the sacred volume, or to corrupt them. He thought proper to guard against this by this solemn declaration of the consequence which would follow such an act. The whole book was to be received - with all its fearful truths - as a revelation from God; and however obscure it might seem, in due time it would be made plain; however faithfully it might depict a fearful apostasy, it was important, both to show the truth of divine inspiration and to save the church, that these disclosures should be in their native purity in the possession of the people of God.
God shall take away his part out of the book of life - Perhaps there is here an intimation that this would be most likely to be done by those who professed to be Christians, and who supposed that their names were in the book of life. In fact, most of the corruptions of the sacred Scriptures have been attempted by those who have professed some form of Christianity. Infidels have but little interest in attempting such changes, and but little influence to make them received by the church. It is most convenient for them, as it is most agreeable to their feelings, to reject the Bible altogether. When it said here that "God would take away his part out of the book of life," the meaning is not that his name had been written in that book, but that he would take away the part which he might have had, or which he professed to have in that book. Such corruption of the divine oracles would show that they had no true religion, and would be excluded from heaven. On the phrase "book of life," see the notes on Revelation 3:5.
And out of the holy city - Described in Revelation 21. He would not be permitted to enter that city; he would have no part among the redeemed.
And from the things which are written in this book - The promises that are made; the glories that are described.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
He which testifieth these things - The Lord Jesus; for he it was that had, through the instrumentality of the angel, borne this solemn witness to the truth of these things, and this book was to be regarded as his revelation to mankind. See the notes on Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:16. He here speaks of himself, and vouches for the truth and reality of these things by saying that he "testifies" of them, or bears witness to them. Compare John 18:37. The fact that Jesus himself vouches for the truth of what is here revealed, shows the propriety of what John had said in the previous verses about adding to it, or taking from it.
Saith, Surely I come quickly - That is, the development of these events will soon begin - though their consummation may extend into far distant ages, or into eternity. See the notes on Revelation 1:1, Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:10.
Amen - A word of solemn affirmation or assent. See the notes on Matthew 6:13. Here it is to be regarded as the expression of John, signifying his solemn and cheerful assent to what the Saviour had said, that he would come quickly. It is the utterance of a strong desire that it might be so. He longed for his appearing.
Even so - These, too, are the words of John, and are a response to what the Saviour had just said. In the original, it is a response in the same language which the Saviour had used, and the beauty of the passage is marred by the translation "Even so." The original is, "He which testifieth to these things saith, Yea - ναὶ nai - I come quickly. Amen. Yea - ναὶ nai - come, Lord Jesus." It is the utterance of desire in the precise language which the Saviour had used - heart responding to heart.
Come, Lord Jesus - That is, as here intended, "Come in the manner and for the objects referred to in this book." The language, however, is expressive of the feeling of piety in a more extended sense, and may be used to denote a desire that the Lord Jesus would come in any and every manner; that he would come to impart to us the tokens of his presence; that he would come to bless his truth and to revive his work in the churches; that he would come to convert sinners, and to build up his people in holiness; that he would come to sustain us in affliction, and to defend us in temptation; that he would come to put a period to idolatry, superstition, and error, and to extend the knowledge of his truth in the world; that he would come to set up his kingdom on the earth, and to rule in the hearts of people; that he would come to receive us to his presence, and to gather his redeemed people into his everlasting kingdom. It was appropriate to the aged John, suffering exile in a lonely island, to pray that the Lord Jesus would speedily come to take him to himself; and there could have been no more suitable close of this marvelous book than the utterance of such a desire. And it is appropriate for us as we finish its contemplation, disclosing so much of the glories of the heavenly world, and the blessedness of the redeemed in their final state, when we think of the earth, with its sorrows, trials, and cares, to respond to the prayer, and to say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly." For that glorious coming of the Son of God, when he shall gather his redeemed people to himself, may all who read these notes be finally prepared. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen - The usual benediction of the sacred writers. See the notes on Romans 16:20.