Revelation 22:14
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Blessed are they that do his commandments . . .—The reading of two of the best MSS. is, “Blessed are they that wash their robes.” If we adopt, as we probably ought, this reading, the line of thought suggested above is helped forward: there is in Him who is the First and the Last, refuge from the power of sin and law against which such solemn warning has been given. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin: the best who have striven and conquered were victors not by their own might, but by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11). If, however, we follow the Received text, we have a benediction which echoes the blessing promised to obedience in Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:9 : this echoing of promises from point to point is in harmony with the spirit of the whole epilogue. (Comp. Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:9; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12.) The special blessing held out to those who wash their robes (or do His commandments) is the right or authority over the tree of life. Blessed are they . . . that they may have (and continue to have) authority over the tree of life, and that they may enter in by the gates into the city. Admission into the city by the gate, which is of one pearl, and the continuous access to the tree of life, are the privileges of the faithful; and these privileges are free to all, for warnings do not forfeit privileges, but rather do they urge us to use them.

Revelation

EDEN LOST AND RESTORED

Genesis 3:24
. - Revelation 22:14.

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning.’ Eden was fair, but the heavenly city shall be fairer. The Paradise regained is an advance on the Paradise that was lost. These are the two ends of the history of man, separated by who knows how many millenniums. Heaven lay about him in his infancy, but as he journeyed westwards its morning blush faded into the light of common day-and only at eventide shall the sky glow again with glory and colour, and the western heaven at last outshine the eastern, with a light that shall never die. A fall, and a rise-a rise that reverses the fall, a rise that transcends the glory from which he fell,-that is the Bible’s notion of the history of the world, and I, for my part, believe it to be true, and feel it to be the one satisfactory explanation of what I see round about me and am conscious of within me.

1. Man had an Eden and lost it.

I take the Fall to be a historical fact. To all who accept the authority of Scripture, no words are needed beyond the simple statement before us, but we may just gather up the signs that there are on the wide field of the world’s history, and in the narrower experience of individuals, that such a fall has been.

Look at the condition of the world: its degradation, its savagery-all its pining myriads, all its untold millions who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. Will any man try to bring before him the actual state of the heathen world, and, retaining his belief in a God, profess that these men are what God meant men to be? It seems to me that the present condition of the world is not congruous with the idea that men are in their primitive state, and if this is what God meant men for, then I see not how the dark clouds which rest on His wisdom and His love are to be lifted off.

Then, again-if the world has not a Fall in its history, then we must take the lowest condition as the one from which all have come; and is that idea capable of defence? Do we see anywhere signs of an upward process going on now? Have we any experience of a tribe raising itself? Can you catch anywhere a race in the act of struggling up, outside of the pale of Christianity? Is not the history of all a history of decadence, except only where the Gospel has come in to reverse the process?

But passing from this: What mean the experiences of the individual-these longings; this hard toil; these sorrows?

How comes it that man alone on earth, manifestly meant to be leader, lord, etc., seems but cursed with a higher nature that he may know greater sorrows, and raised above the beasts in capacity that he may sink below them in woe, this capacity only leading to a more exquisite susceptibility, to a more various as well as more poignant misery?

Whence come the contrarieties and discordance in his nature?

It seems to me that all this is best explained as the Bible explains it by saying: {1} Sin has done it; {2} Sin is not part of God’s original design, but man has fallen; {3} Sin had a personal beginning. There have been men who were pure, able to stand but free to fall.

It seems to me that that explanation is more in harmony with the facts of the case, finds more response in the unsophisticated instinct of man, than any other. It seems to me that, though it leaves many dark and sorrowful mysteries all unsolved, yet that it alleviates the blackest of them, and flings some rays of hope on them all. It seems to me that it relieves the character and administration of God from the darkest dishonour; that it delivers man’s position and destiny from the most hopeless despair; that though it leaves the mystery of the origin of evil, it brings out into clearest relief the central truths that evil is evil, and sin and sorrow are not God’s will; that it vindicates as something better than fond imaginings the vague aspirations of the soul for a fair and holy state; that it establishes, as nothing else will, at once the love of God and the dignity of man; that it leaves open the possibility of the final overthrow of that Sin which it treats as an intrusion and stigmatises as a fall; that it therefore braces for more vigorous, hopeful conflict against it, and that while but for it the answer to the despairing question, Hast Thou made all men in vain? must be either the wailing echo ‘In vain,’ or the denial that He has made them at all, there is hope and there is power, and there is brightness thrown on the character of God and on the fate of man, by the old belief that God made man upright, and that man made himself a sinner.

2. Heaven restores the lost Eden.

‘God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared them a city.’

The highest conception we can form of heaven is the reversal of all the evil of earth, and the completion of its incomplete good: the sinless purity-the blessed presence of God-the fulfilment of all desires-the service which is blessed, not toil-the changelessness which is progress, not stagnation.

3. Heaven surpasses the lost Eden.

{1} Garden-City.

The perfection of association-the nations of the saved. Here ‘we mortal millions live alone,’ even when united with dearest. Like Egyptian monks of old, each dwelling in his own cave, though all were a community.

{2} The richer experience.

The memory of past sorrows which are understood at last.

Heaven’s bliss in contrast with earthly joys.

Sinlessness of those who have been sinners will be more intensely lustrous for its dark background in the past. Redeemed men will be brighter than angels.

The impossibility of a fall.

Death behind us.

The former things shall no more come to mind, being lost in blaze of present transcendent experience, but yet shall be remembered as having led to that perfect state.

Christ not only repairs the ‘tabernacle which was fallen,’ but builds a fairer temple. He brings ‘a statelier Eden,’ and makes us dwell for ever in a Garden City.

Revelation



THE LAST BEATITUDE OF THE ASCENDED CHRIST


Revelation 22:14The Revised Version reads: ‘Blessed are they that wash their robes that they may have the right to come to the Tree of Life.’

That may seem a very large change to make, from ‘keep His commandments,’ to ‘wash their robes,’ but in the Greek it is only a change of three letters in one word, one in the next, and two in the third. And the two phrases, written, look so like each other, that a scribe, hasty, or for the moment careless, might very easily mistake the one for the other. There can be no doubt whatever that the reading in the Revised Version is the correct one. Not only is it sustained by a great weight of authority, but also it is far more in accordance with the whole teaching of the New Testament than that which stands in our Authorized Version.

‘Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life,’ carries us back to the old law, and has no more hopeful a sound in it than the thunders of Sinai. If it were, indeed, amongst Christ’s last words to us, it would be a most sad instance of His ‘building again the things He had destroyed.’ It is relegating us to the dreary old round of trying to earn Heaven by doing good deeds; and I might almost say it is ‘making the Cross of Christ of none effect.’ The fact that that corrupt reading came so soon into the Church and has held its ground so long, is to me a very singular proof of the difficulty which men have always had in keeping themselves up to the level of the grand central Gospel truth: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His mercy. He saved us.’

‘Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have right to the Tree of Life,’ has the clear ring of the New Testament music about it, and is in full accord with the whole type of doctrine that runs through this book; and is not unworthy to be almost the last word that the lips of the Incarnate Wisdom spoke to men from Heaven. So then, taking that point of view, I wish to look with you at three things that come plainly out of these words: - First, that principle that if men are clean it is because they are cleansed; ‘Blessed are they that wash their robes.’ Secondly, It is the cleansed who have unrestrained access to the source of life. And lastly, It is the cleansed who pass into the society of the city. Now, let me deal with these three things: -

I. If we are clean it is because we have been made so. The first beatitude that Jesus Christ spoke from the mountain was, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ The last beatitude that He speaks from Heaven is, ‘Blessed are they that wash their robes.’ And the act commended in the last is but the outcome of the spirit extolled in the first. For they who are poor in spirit are such as know themselves to be sinful men; and those who know themselves to be sinful men are they who will cleanse their robes in the blood of Jesus Christ.

I need not remind you, I suppose, how continually this symbol of the robe is used in Scripture as an expression for moral character. This Book of the Apocalypse is saturated through and through with Jewish implications and allusions, and there can be no doubt whatever that in this metaphor of the cleansing of the robes there is an allusion to that vision that the Apocalyptic seer of the Old Covenant, the prophet Zechariah, had when he saw the high priest standing before the altar clad in foul raiment, and the word came forth, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ Nor need I do more than remind you how the same metaphor is often on the lips of our Lord Himself, notably in the story of the man that had not on the wedding garment, and in the touching and beautiful incident in the parable of the Prodigal Son, where the exuberance of the father’s love bids them cast the best robe round the rags and the leanness of his long-lost boy. Nor need I remind you how Paul catches up the metaphor, and is continually referring to an investing and a divesting - the putting on and the putting off of the new and the old man. In this same Book of the Apocalypse we see, gleaming all through it, the white robes of the purified soul: ‘They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.’ ‘I beheld a great multitude, whom no man could number, who had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

And so there are gathered up into these last words, all these allusions and memories, thick and clustering, when Christ speaks from Heaven and says, ‘Blessed are they that wash their robes.’

Well then, I suppose we may say roughly, in our more modern phraseology, that the robe thus so frequently spoken of in Scripture answers substantially to what we call character. It is not exactly the man - and yet it is the man. It is the self- and yet it is a kind of projection and making visible of the self, the vesture which is cast round ‘the hidden man of the heart.’

This mysterious robe, which answers nearly to what we mean by character, is made by the wearer.

That is a solemn thought. Every one of us carries about with him a mystical loom, and we are always weaving - weave, weave, weaving - this robe which we wear, every thought a thread of the warp, every action a thread of the weft. We weave it as the spider does its web, out of its own entrails, if I might so say. We weave it, and we dye it, and we cut it, and we stitch it, and then we put it on and wear it, and it sticks to us. Like a snail that crawls about your garden patches, and makes its shell by a process of secretion from out of its own substance, so you and I are making that mysterious, solemn thing that we call character, moment by moment. It is our own self, modified by our actions. Character is the precipitate from the stream of conduct which, like the Nile Delta, gradually rises solid and firm above the parent river and confines its flow.

The next step that I ask you to take is one that I know some of you do not like to take, and it is this: All the robes are foul. I do not say all are equally splashed, I do not say all are equally thickly spotted with the flesh. I do not wish to talk dogmas, I wish to talk experience; and I appeal to your own consciences, with this plain question, that every man and woman amongst us can answer if they like - Is it true or is it not, that the robe is all dashed with mud caught on the foul ways, with stains in some of us of rioting and banqueting and revelry and drunkenness; sins of the flesh that have left their mark upon the flesh; but with all of us grey and foul as compared with the whiteness of His robe who sits above us there?

Ah I would that I could bring to all hearts that are listening to me now, whether the hearts of professing Christians or no, that consciousness more deeply than we have ever had it, of how full of impurity and corruption our characters are. I do not charge you with crimes; I do not charge you with guilt in the world’s eyes, but, if we seriously ponder over our past, have we not lived, some of us habitually, all of us far too often, as if there were no God at all, or as if we had nothing to do with Him? and is not that godlessness practical Atheism, the fountain of all foulness from which black brooks flow into our lives, and stain our robes?

The next step is. The foul robe can be cleansed. My text does not go any further in a statement of the method, but it rests upon the great words of this Book of the Revelation, which I have already quoted for another purpose, in which we read ‘they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ And the same writer, in his Epistle, has the same paradox, which seems to have been, to him, a favorite way of putting the central Gospel truth: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.’ John saw the paradox, and saw that the paradox helped to illustrate the great truth that he was trying to proclaim, that the red blood whitened the black robe, and that in its full tide there was a limpid river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the Cross of Christ.

Guilt can be pardoned, character can be sanctified. Guilt can be pardoned! Men say: No! We live in a universe of inexorable laws; "What a man soweth that he must also reap." If he has done wrong he must inherit the consequences.’

But the question whether guilt can be pardoned or not has only to do very remotely with consequences. The question is not whether we live in a universe of inexorable laws, but whether there is anything in the universe but the laws; for forgiveness is a personal act, and has only to do secondarily and remotely with the consequences of a man’s doings. So that, if we believe in a personal God, and believe that He has got any kind of living relation to men at all, we can believe- blessed be His name! - in the doctrine of forgiveness; and leave the inexorable laws full scope to work, according as His wisdom and His mercy may provide. For the heart of the Christian doctrine of pardon does not touch those laws, but the heart of it is this: ‘O Lord! Thou wast angry with me, but Thine anger is turned away, Thou hast comforted me!’ So guilt may be pardoned.

Character may be sanctified and elevated. Why not, if you can bring a sufficiently strong new force to bear upon it? And you can bring such a force, in the blessed thought of Christ’s death for me, and in the gift of His love. There is such a force in the thought that He has given Himself for our sin. There is such a force in the Spirit of Christ given to us through His death to cleanse us by His presence in our hearts. And so I say, the blood of Jesus Christ, the power of His sacrifice and Cross, cleanses from all sin, both in the sense of taking away all my guilt, and in the sense of changing my character into something loftier and nobler and purer.

Men and women! Do you believe that? If you do not, why do you not? If you do, are you trusting to what you believe, and living the life that befits the confidence?

One word more. The washing of your robes has to be done by you. ‘Blessed are they that wash their robes.’ On one hand is all the fullness of cleansing, on the other is the heap of dirty rags that will not be cleansed by you sitting there and looking at them. You must bring the two into contact. How? By the magic band that unites strength and weakness, purity and foulness, the Saviour and the penitent; the magic band of simple affiance, and trust and submission of myself to the cleansing power of His death and of His life.

Only remember, ‘Blessed are they that are washing,’ as the Greek might read. Not once and for all, but a continuous process, a blessed process running on all through a man’s life.

These are the conditions as they come from Christ’s own lips, in almost the last words that human ears, either in fact or in vision, heard Him utter. These are the conditions under which noble life, and at last Heaven, are possible for men, namely, that their foul characters shall be cleansed, and that continuously, by daily recurrence and recourse to the Fountain opened in His sacrifice and death.

Friends, you may know much of the beauty and nobleness of Christianity, you may know much of the tenderness and purity of Christ, but if you have not apprehended Him in this character, there is an inner sanctuary yet to be trod, of which your feet know nothing, and the sweetest sweetness of all you have not yet tasted, for it is His forgiving love and cleansing power that most deeply manifest His Divine affection and bind us to Himself.

II. The second thought that I would suggest is that these cleansed ones, and by implication these only, have unrestrained access to the source of life: ‘Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have right “to the Tree of Life.” ‘That, of course, carries us back to the old mysterious narrative at the beginning of the Book of Genesis.

Although it does not bear very closely upon my present subject, I cannot help pausing to point out one thing, how remarkable and how beautiful it is that the last page of the Revelation should come bending round to touch the first page of Genesis. The history of man began with angels with frowning faces and flaming swords barring the way to the Tree of Life. It ends here with the guard of Cherubim withdrawn; or rather, perhaps, sheathing their swords and becoming guides to the no longer forbidden fruit, instead of being its guards. That is the Bible’s grand symbolical way of saying that all between - the sin, the misery, the death - is a parenthesis. God’s purpose is not going to be thwarted, and the end of His majestic march through human history is to be men’s access to the Tree of Life from which, for the dreary ages - that are but as a moment in the great eternities - they were barred out by their sin.

However, that is not the point that I meant to say a word about. The Tree of Life stands as the symbol here of an external source of life. I take ‘life’ to be used here in what I believe to be its predominant New Testament meaning, not bare continuance in existence, but a full, blessed perfection and activity of all the faculties and possibilities of the man, which this very Apostle himself identifies with the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ. And that life, says John, has an external source in Heaven as on earth.

There is an old Christian legend, absurd as a legend, beautiful as a parable, that the Cross on which Christ was crucified was made out of the wood of the Tree of Life. It is true in idea, for He and His work will be the source of all life, for earth and for Heaven, whether of body, soul, or spirit. They that wash their robes have the right of unrestrained access to Him in whose presence, in that loftier state, no impurity can live.

I need not dwell upon the thought that is involved here, of how, whilst on earth and in the beginnings of the Christian career, life is the basis of righteousness: in that higher world, in a very profound sense, righteousness is the condition of fuller life.

The Tree of Life, according to some of the old Rabbinical legends, lifted its branches, by an indwelling motion, high above impure hands that were stretched to touch them, and until our hands are cleansed through faith in Jesus Christ, its richest fruit hangs unreachable, golden, above our heads. Oh! brother, the fullness of the life of Heaven is only granted to them who, drawing near Jesus Christ by faith on earth, have thereby cleansed themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

III. Finally, those who are cleansed, and they only, have entrance into the society of the city.

There again we have a whole series of Old and New Testament metaphors gathered together. In the old world the whole power and splendor of great kingdoms were gathered in their capitals, Babylon and Nineveh in the past, Rome in the present. To John the forces of evil were all concentrated in that city on the Seven Hills. To him the antagonistic forces which were the hope of the world were all concentrated in the real ideal city which he expected to come down from Heaven - the New Jerusalem. And he and his brother who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews, whoever he was - trained substantially in the same school - have taught us the same lesson that our picture of the future is not to be of a solitary or self -regarding Heaven, but of ‘a city which hath foundations.’

Genesis began with a garden, man’s sin sent him out of the garden. God, out of evil, evolves good, and for the lost garden comes the better thing, the found city. ‘Then comes the statelier Eden back to man.’ For surely it is better that men should live in the activities of the city than in the sweetness and indolence of the garden; and manifold and miserable as are the sins and the sorrows of great cities, the opprobria of our modern so-called civilization, yet still the aggregation of great masses of men for worthy objects generates a form of character, and sets loose energies and activities which no other kind of life could have produced.

And so I believe a great step in progress is set forth when we read of the final condition of mankind as being their assembling in the city of God. And surely there, amidst the solemn troops and sweet societies, the long loved, long-lost will be found again. I cannot believe that, like the Virgin and Joseph, we shall have to go wandering up and down the streets of Jerusalem when we get there, looking for our dear ones. ‘Wist ye not that I should be in the Father’s house?’ We shall know where to find them.

‘We shall clasp them again,

And with God be the rest.’


The city is the emblem of security and of permanence. No more shall life be as a desert march, with changes which only bring sorrow, and yet a dreary monotony amidst them all. We shall dwell amid abiding realities, ourselves fixed in unchanging but ever-growing completeness and peace. The tents shall be done with, we shall inhabit the solid mansions of the city which hath foundations, and shall wonderingly exclaim, as our unaccustomed eyes gaze on their indestructible strength, ‘What manner of stones and what buildings are here!’ - and not one stone of these shall ever be thrown down.

Dear friends! the sum of all my poor words now is the earnest beseeching of every one of you to bring all your foulness to Christ, who alone can make you clean. ‘Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before

Me, saith the Lord.’ ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.’ Submit yourselves, I pray you, to its purifying power, by humble faith. Then you will have the true possession of the true life today, and will be citizens of the city of God, even while in this far-off dependency of that great metropolis. And when the moment comes for you to leave this prison-house, an angel ‘mighty and beauteous, though his face be hid,’ shall come to you, as once of old to the sleeping Apostle. His touch shall wake you, and lead you, scarce knowing where you are or what is happening, from the sleep of life, past the first and second ward, and through the iron gate that leadeth unto the city. Smoothly it will turn on its hinges, opening to you of its own accord, and then you will come to yourself and know of a surety that the Lord hath sent His angel, and that he has led you into the home of your heart, the city of God, which they enter as its fitting inhabitants who wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. 22:6-19 The Lord Jesus spake by the angel, solemnly confirming the contents of this book, particularly of this last vision. He is the Lord God faithful and true. Also by his messengers; the holy angels showed them to holy men of God. They are things that must shortly be done; Christ will come quickly, and put all things out of doubt. And by the integrity of that angel who had been the apostle's interpreter. He refused to accept religious worship from John, and reproved him for offering it. This presents another testimony against idolatrous worship of saints and angels. God calls every one to witness to the declarations here made. This book, thus kept open, will have effect upon men; the filthy and unjust will be more so, but it will confirm, strengthen, and further sanctify those who are upright with God. Never let us think that a dead or disobedient faith will save us, for the First and the Last has declared that those alone are blessed who do his commandments. It is a book that shuts out form heaven all wicked and unrighteous persons, particularly those who love and make lies, therefore cannot itself be a lie. There is no middle place or condition. Jesus, who is the Spirit of prophecy, has given his churches this morning-light of prophecy, to assure them of the light of the perfect day approaching. All is confirmed by an open and general invitation to mankind, to come and partake freely of the promises and of the privileges of the gospel. The Spirit, by the sacred word, and by convictions and influence in the sinner's conscience, says, Come to Christ for salvation; and the bride, or the whole church, on earth and in heaven, says, Come and share our happiness. Lest any should hesitate, it is added, Let whosoever will, or, is willing, come and take of the water of life freely. May every one who hears or reads these words, desire at once to accept the gracious invitation. All are condemned who should dare to corrupt or change the word of God, either by adding to it, or taking from it.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.

14. do his commandments—so B, Syriac, Coptic, and Cyprian. But A, Aleph, and Vulgate read, "(Blessed are they that) wash their robes," namely, in the blood of the Lamb (compare Re 7:14). This reading takes away the pretext for the notion of salvation by works. But even English Version reading is quite compatible with salvation by grace; for God's first and grand Gospel "commandment" is to believe on Jesus. Thus our "right" to (Greek, "privilege" or "lawful authority over") the tree of life is due not to our doings, but to what He has done for us. The right, or privilege, is founded, not on our merits, but on God's grace.

through—Greek, "by the gates."

See Poole on "Revelation 22:13" Blessed are they that do his commandments,.... Either the commandments of God, Revelation 12:17 the precepts of the moral law, which are the whole duty of man; which are done either legally in order to obtain life, and then they must be perfectly done, which no man can do; hence none live, and are justified by the deeds of it, and consequently are not blessed, but cursed; or evangelically, when they are done in the strength of Christ, from love to God, in the exercise of faith upon him, with a view to his glory, and without dependence on them, acknowledging the imperfection of them, and looking unto Jesus for righteousness and life, in whom such find both, and so are blessed persons: or else the commandments of Jesus are intended, who is speaking in the context, Revelation 22:12 and is speaking of himself, and his, as the angel does in Revelation 22:6 Christ's commandments are his new commandment of love, and the ordinances of baptism, and the Lord's supper; which are to be observed in the same evangelical manner as the commandments of God, and to be kept exactly as they are delivered, without any alteration, addition, or diminution; and they are to be attended to immediately, and without delay; and such as regard them in a right way and manner are blessed; they have much pleasure and delight in the observance of them; these commandments are not grievous, especially when they have the presence of Christ, the discoveries of his love, and are under the gracious influences of his Spirit: or it may be rather the commandments in this book are designed, for it may be rendered, "that do its commandments"; keep the sayings of this book, as in Revelation 22:7 such as relate to the worship of God, and forbid the worship of the beast, which caution against idolatry, and exhort to come out of Babylon, and direct to follow the Lamb, and charge not to add or take from anything written in this prophecy; and such persons as keep the words of it are pronounced blessed, Revelation 1:3. The Alexandrian copy reads, "that wash their garments"; and so the Ethiopic version, and also the Vulgate Latin, which adds, "in the blood of the Lamb", agreeably to Revelation 7:13 and such whose persons and garments are washed in the blood of Christ are blessed indeed; they are justified by it, pardoned through it, and both they and their services are accepted on account of it. The instances of their happiness follow,

that they may have right to the tree of life; or "power over the tree of life"; that is, Christ, not of government over him, but of enjoyment of him; a liberty of eating of the fruit of this tree, having interest in it, and so a right to partake of it; which right, or liberty, is not obtained by obedience to the commands of God, or Christ, or of this book, for this is what is due to God, and obligatory on men; and which, when done, is but their duty, and can merit nothing; though a cheerful and evangelical obedience to the divine will makes such appear to have a right to such a privilege, as the disciples of Christ are not made so, but appear to be such by bringing forth fruit, John 15:8 but to have interest in Christ, the tree of life, and a right, power, and liberty to eat thereof, is a free grace gift, Revelation 2:7 and happy are those who enjoy such a privilege! Proverbs 3:18.

And may enter in through the gates into the city: the Ethiopic version reads, "into this holy city": and which intends not entrance into a particular church of Christ, the way into which is faith in Christ, and a profession of it, and submission to the ordinance of baptism; nor entrance into heaven, which, as a Gospel church, is often called a city, and into which none shall enter, but such who are justified by the righteousness of Christ, and are regenerated by his Spirit, the gates of it are Christ and his grace; but the holy city, the new Jerusalem, is meant, and entrance into that, which is so largely described in the preceding chapter, and particularly its gates; and they must be happy persons, indeed, who enter there; and their right to it is from, and lies in Christ, his blood, righteousness, and grace, under a sense of which they yield a ready obedience to his will, which makes their right to appear. Frequent mention is made of the gates of this city in the book of Zohar; and, says R. Isaac (i),

"when the soul , "is fit" (or worthy, or has a right) "to enter through the gates of Jerusalem" that is above, Michael the great prince goes with it, who anticipates for it the peace of the ministering angels, wondering at him, and inquiring concerning it, saying, "who is this that comes out of the wilderness", &c. Sol 3:6.''

(i) Medrash Haneelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 77. 1.

Blessed are they that do his commandments, {7} that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

(7) The blessedness of the godly set down by their title and interest there: and their fruit in the same.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. that do his commandments] Read, that wash their robes: cf. Revelation 7:14. The change from one reading to the other is in the Greek only one of a few letters; it seems uncalled for to charge the copyists who introduced the received reading with a wish to substitute justification by works for justification by faith. There are plenty of Scriptural parallels for the sentence, read either way: but there seems to be no doubt which way St John in fact wrote it.

that they may have right] Lit. that the right (or power, or license) may be theirs. The right of approaching the Tree of Life is a definite privilege, granted to a certain class, viz. those who “wash their robes.”Revelation 22:14. Αὐτοῦ, of Him) of Him, who is coming: Revelation 22:12. He Himself speaks concerning Himself. There is a very similar phrase, ch. Revelation 5:10 : them, that is, us.—ἵνα ἔσται) ἵνα explains the blessedness here mentioned, as ch. Revelation 14:13; and ἔσται for makes the discourse exceedingly emphatic.—τὸ ξύλον τῆς ζωῆς, the tree of life) of which they who eat, live for ever: Genesis 3:22.Verse 14. - Blessed are they that do his commandments. The Revised Version adopts the reading, οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν, "they that wash their robes," which is found in א, A, 1, 33, Vulgate, AEthiopic, Armenian, Primasius, and which is probably correct. The reading of the Textus Receptus, ποιοῦντες τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ, "they that do his commandments," is found in B, Syriac, Coptic, etc. The Vulgate adds, "in the blood of the Lamb," as in Revelation 7:14, which is, of course, the full meaning. The free will of man is implied in the active form of the participle. That they may have right to the tree of life; in order that they may have authority over the tree of life; i.e. the right to partake of it. Ebrard makes this clause dependent (as a consequence) upon "do:" "They do them in order that they may have," etc. Others attach this clause to "blessed: They are blessed because they may have the right," etc. Both significations may well be implied. "The tree of life" is that described in ver. 2, and promised "to him that overcometh" in Revelation 2:7. And may enter in through the gates into the city; by the portals; that is, in the natural way of people who have a right to enter. That do His commandments (οἱ ποιοῦντες τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ)

Read οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν they that wash their robes. Compare Revelation 7:14.

That they may have right to the tree of life (ἵνα ἔσται ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον τῆς ζωῆς)

Lit., in order that theirs shall be authority over the tree of life. For ἐξουσία right, authority, see on John 1:12. Ἑπί may be the preposition of direction: "may have right to come to" (so Rev.) or may be rendered over.

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