Revelation 22:2
In the middle of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bore twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) In the midst of the street of it . . .—Or rather, In the midst of the street of it, and of the river, on one side and on the other (was) a tree of life, yielding twelve fruits, according to each month giving its fruit; and the leaves of the tree are for healing of the nations. The hunger as well as the thirst of the spirit is to be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). The tree of life, as well as the river of life, is to be found in the new and better Eden (Genesis 2:9; Genesis 3:22). The vision of Ezekiel is exactly parallel to the present: “On the border of the river there was wood very much, on both sides: every kind of tree; its leaf withers not, and its fruit ceases not; all months does it ripen; its fruit serves for food, and its leaf for healing” (Ezekiel 47:7-12). The twelve manner of fruit: The recurrence of the number—twelve—is to be noticed, for here, too, as well as in the foundations and gates of the city, we have variety allied with unity. Diverse and seasonable fruits, and yet one tree of life. Thus does the Almighty wisdom feed His people with food convenient for them (Proverbs 30:8), though, in one sense there is but one food for all (John 6:31); for true divine wisdom is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her (Proverbs 3:18). That wisdom is not the mere knowledge of things (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has no place in new Eden); but it is rather the knowledge of life which makes the knowledge of things available to the highest good. (Comp. 1Corinthians 1:22-24; 1Corinthians 1:30; James 3:17; Proverbs 8)

22:1-5 All streams of earthly comfort are muddy; but these are clear, and refreshing. They give life, and preserve life, to those who drink of them, and thus they will flow for evermore. These point to the quickening and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, as given to sinners through Christ. The Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, applies this salvation to our souls by his new-creating love and power. The trees of life are fed by the pure waters of the river that comes from the throne of God. The presence of God in heaven, is the health and happiness of the saints. This tree was an emblem of Christ, and of all the blessings of his salvation; and the leaves for the healing of the nations, mean that his favour and presence supply all good to the inhabitants of that blessed world. The devil has no power there; he cannot draw the saints from serving God, nor can he disturb them in the service of God. God and the Lamb are here spoken of as one. Service there shall be not only freedom, but honour and dominion. There will be no night; no affliction or dejection, no pause in service or enjoyment: no diversions or pleasures or man's inventing will there be wanted. How different all this from gross and merely human views of heavenly happiness, even those which refer to pleasures of the mind!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.

2. The harmonious unity of Scripture is herein exhibited. The Fathers compared it to a ring, an unbroken circle, returning into itself. Between the events of Genesis and those at the close of the Apocalypse, at least six thousand or seven thousand years intervene; and between Moses the first writer and John the last about one thousand five hundred years. How striking it is that, as in the beginning we found Adam and Eve, his bride, in innocence m Paradise, then tempted by the serpent, and driven from the tree of life, and from the pleasant waters of Eden, yet not without a promise of a Redeemer who should crush the serpent; so at the close, the old serpent cast out for ever by the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, who appears with His Bride, the Church, in a better Paradise, and amidst better waters (Re 22:1): the tree of life also is there with all its healing properties, not guarded with a flaming sword, but open to all who overcome (Re 2:7), and there is no more curse.

street of it—that is, of the city.

on either side of the river—Alford translates, "In the midst of the street of it (the city) and of the river, on one side and on the other" (for the second Greek, "enteuthen," A, B, and Syriac read, ekeithen: the sense is the same; compare Greek, Joh 19:18); thus the trees were on each side in the middle of the space between the street and the river. But from Eze 47:7, I prefer English Version. The antitype exceeds the type: in the first Paradise was only one tree of life; now there are "very many trees at the bank of the river, on the one side and on the other." To make good sense, supposing there to be but one tree, we should either, as Mede, suppose that the Greek for street is a plain washed on both sides by the river (as the first Paradise was washed on one side by the Tigris, on the other by the Euphrates), and that in the midst of the plain, which itself is in the midst of the river's branches, stood the tree: in which case we may translate, "In the midst of the street (plain) itself, and of the river (having two branches flowing) on this and on that side, was there the tree of life." Or else with Durham suppose, the tree was in the midst of the river, and extending its branches to both banks. But compare Eze 47:12, the millennial type of the final Paradise; which shows that there are several trees of the one kind, all termed "the tree of life." Death reigns now because of sin; even in the millennial earth sin, and therefore death, though much limited, shall not altogether cease. But in the final and heavenly city on earth, sin and death shall utterly cease.

yielded her fruit every month—Greek, "according to each month"; each month had its own proper fruit, just as different seasons are now marked by their own productions; only that then, unlike now, there shall be no season without its fruit, and there shall be an endless variety, answering to twelve, the number symbolical of the world-wide Church (compare Note, see on [2748]Re 12:1; [2749]Re 21:14). Archbishop Whatley thinks that the tree of life was among the trees of which Adam freely ate (Ge 2:9, 16, 17), and that his continuance in immortality was dependent on his continuing to eat of this tree; having forfeited it, he became liable to death; but still the effects of having eaten of it for a time showed themselves in the longevity of the patriarchs. God could undoubtedly endue a tree with special medicinal powers. But Ge 3:22 seems to imply, man had not yet taken of the tree, and that if he had, he would have lived for ever, which in his then fallen state would have been the greatest curse.

leaves … for … healing—(Eze 47:9, 12). The leaves shall be the health-giving preventive securing the redeemed against, not healing them of, sicknesses, while "the fruit shall be for meat." In the millennium described in Eze 47:1-23 and Re 20:1-15, the Church shall give the Gospel-tree to the nations outside Israel and the Church, and so shall heal their spiritual malady; but in the final and perfect new Jerusalem here described, the state of all is eternally fixed, and no saving process goes on any longer (compare Re 22:11). Alford utterly mistakes in speaking of "nations outside," and "dwelling on the renewed earth, organized under kings, and saved by the influences of the heavenly city" (!) Compare Re 21:2, 10-27; the "nations" mentioned (Re 21:24) are those which have long before, namely, in the millennium (Re 11:15), become the Lord's and His Christ's.

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life: trees, especially fruit trees, and those laden with fruit, and variety of fruit, and such as, instead of being prejudicial to life, are wholesome, and give life, are very beautiful, especially in or near a city. The city in Ezekiel’s vision, Ezekiel 47:7, is thus described. This expression further shows the infinite pleasure and soul satisfaction the saints shall have in heaven. But we are further told here, that the tree here was the tree of life; a manifest allusion to a tree so called in old Paradise, Genesis 2:9; and who can this agree to, but Christ?

Which bare twelve manner of fruits; in whom all fulness dwelt, the fulness of the Godhead, and who was anointed, and received the Spirit without measure.

And yielded her fruit every month; and is daily distributing of his fulness to his people.

And the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations; and in whom there is nothing useless, but what tends either to the life or healing of his people out of all nations. In the midst of the street of it,.... That is, of the city described in the preceding chapter, which shows that this vision belongs to that, and is a continuation of it, and which street was all of pure gold, Revelation 21:21

and on either side of the river was there the tree of life; not that it stood either in the midst of the street of the city, which being a pavement of gold, a tree could not well stand there; nor on both sides of the river, which is impossible, unless the tree of life is put for many trees of the same kind, as in Ezekiel's vision, to which the allusion is; and so some were on one side of the river, and some on the other, as there; see Ezekiel 47:7 or unless it can be thought that such a solution of the difficulty is sufficient, that the root of it was on one side, and the branches grew over to the other; though the words may be better rendered, and the difficulty will be removed, and the sense be clear, "between the street of it", the city, "and the river, on this side, and on that side"; that is, the street on one side, and the river on the other, was the tree of life; compare with this John 19:18. So the Jews say (e), that the tree of life is in the midst of paradise, and its body covers all the garden; and that there is in it five hundred thousand different tastes; and that there is no likeness and smell like it. By the tree of life is meant not the Gospel, nor godliness, nor eternal life, nor any other of the divine Persons, but Christ, who is the author of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal; See Gill on Revelation 2:7 and its situation between the street of the city, where the saints commune and converse together, and the river of God's everlasting love, which in this state will appear in its fulness and glory, shows that Christ will be seen and enjoyed by all in the most delightful and comfortable manner that can be wished for:

which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; not one sort of fruit one month, and another sort another month, and so on, but twelve sorts every month; which is expressive of the fruits and spiritual blessings of grace from Christ, enjoyed by saints in the present state, and of that variety of happiness and pleasures to be had in this glorious state, and of the continuance of them; they being always ever fresh and new, and will be always sufficient for the twelve tribes of the true Israel of God, and for all that have embraced the doctrine of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; whose drink in this state will be the everlasting love of God, and whose food will be the fruit of the tree of life; both which they shall enjoy in great abundance:

and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations; not for the curing of diseases, or repairing of health; which in the present state of things is done by the application of the blood of Christ for the pardon of sin, which is a healing of diseases, and by the discoveries of the love of God; through the ministration of the Gospel, and the doctrines of it, which might be thought to be signified by leaves; for there will be no disease either of body or mind in this state; besides, the nations that will walk in the light of this city will be saved perfectly and completely, Revelation 21:4 but these leaves will be for the preserving and continuing the health of the people of God in this state, as the tree of life in Eden's garden was for the preservation of the health and life of Adam, had he continued in a state of innocence; and it denotes that everything in Christ will contribute to the comfort, health, and happiness of the saints. The Jews interpret the passage in Ezekiel 47:12 to which this refers, of future time, or the world to come (f); and speak of various trees and herbs of great fragrancy and medicinal virtues, which grow quite round on the sides of a laver that stands in paradise (g).

(e) Yalkut Simeoni, par. 1. fol. 7. 1.((f) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 19. 1.((g) Sepher Avodah Hakkodesh, fol. 46. 1.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
πλατείας (“street,” or “boulevard”) collective and generic (cf. Jam 5:6) like ξύλον. Take ἐναὐτῆς with what precedes, and begin a fresh sentence with καὶ τοῦ ποταμοῦ (W. H.), ξύλον being governed by ἔδειξεν (from Revelation 22:1). The river, which is the all-pervading feature, is lined with the trees of life. The writer retains the traditional singular of Genesis 2:9, combining it with the representation of Ezekiel (yet note sing, in Ezekiel 47:12); he thus gains symbolic impressiveness at the expense of pictorial coherence. Ramsay (C. B. P. ii. 453) observes, however, that the waters of the Marsyas were “probably drawn off to flow through the streets of Apameia; this practice is still a favourite one in Asia Minor, e.g., at Denizli”.—κ. μῆνα, the poetic imagination soars over the prosaic objection that months are impossible without a moon (Revelation 21:22).—καρπὸν, κ.τ.λ. To eat of the tree of life was, in the popular religious phraseology of the age, to possess immortality. In En. 24., 25., where the prophet sees a wonderful, fragrant tree, Michael explains that it must stand untouched till the day of Judgment (καὶ οὐδεμία σὰρξ ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ἅψασθαι αὐτοῦ). “Then the righteous and the holy shall have it given them; it shall be as food for the elect unto life.” So in contemporary Judaism; e.g., 4 Esd. 7:53 and 8:52 (“For unto you is paradise set open, the tree of life is planted, the time to come is prepared, a city is builded and rest is established,”) as already in Test. Levi. 18, where the messianic high-priest is to “open the gates of paradise and remove the sword drawn against Adam, and permit the saints to eat of the tree of life”. For the association of God’s city and God’s garden, cf. Apoc. Bar. iv.: for the notion of healing, Apoc. Mos. vi., Jub. x. 12 f., and the Iranian idea that (Brandt, 434 f.) the tree of many seeds had curative properties. John is therefore using the realistic and archaic language of Jewish piety to delineate the bliss of Christians in a future state where all the original glories and privileges of God’s life with man are to be restored. The Christian heaven is to possess everything which Judaism claimed and craved for itself. Cf. the Christian addition to 4 Ezra 2:12; Ezra 2:34-35; Ezra 2:38 f.; also the famous hymn to Osiris (E. B. D., ch. 183: “I have come into the city of God—the region which existed in primaeval time—with my soul, to dwell in this land.… The God thereof is most holy. His land draweth unto itself every other land. And doth he not say, the happiness thereof is a care to me?”).2. In the midst … of the river] The picture is, almost certainly, that the river runs along the broad high-street or piazza (see on Revelation 11:8, Revelation 21:21, and note that, if the mountain be pyramidal, the “street” is cruciform), and rows or plantations, all of the one tree, stand along the banks on either side. But the exact construction and punctuation is not quite certain: that assumed in the A. V. is not very likely. Either we may punctuate as the Revised Version, connecting “in the midst of the street thereof” with the preceding sentence, or else we should probably translate, “Midway between the street of it and the river, on this side and on that:” i.e. there is a “street” or boulevard on each side of the river, and parted from the river by a sort of quay, in the midst of which is a row of the trees. It can hardly be meant that there is a single plant of the tree, as in the old Paradise (Genesis 2:9), for how could one tree grow “on this side and on that of the river?” and the words would hardly bear the sense “in the midst of the street thereof and of the river, with them running on this side and on that of it.” It would be awkward to represent the tree as growing in the midst of the river: and though there is a difference between this Paradise and the old in the multiplication of the tree, it is all, as it should be, in favour of the new.

the tree of life] Genesis 2:9, cp. chap. Revelation 2:7; where the likeness, not the difference, between the arrangement of this Paradise and the old is brought out.

every month] Yet there can hardly be months and years when there is no moon nor sun. It is not, however, certain that this is the case here: see on Revelation 21:23. But the real meaning is, that the fruit is always in season, and never cloys.

and the leaves … healing] Ezekiel 47:12.

the nations] Those outside the city: see on Revelation 21:24. This is perhaps the only passage in Scripture which suggests that, even after the Day of Judgement, there may be a process of purification for those whom that Day finds in a state of salvation, but imperfectly sanctified. But though it cannot be denied that this passage suggests this, it would be very rash to say that it proves it. It is quite possible that it is only at their first admission to the new earth that “the nations” have any need of “healing.” Surely no one can doubt, that this need will be felt by almost all, perhaps by all, who are saved at the last. Even if they were what we rightly account to be saints on earth they need a “healing” of their surviving sins before they are fit for heaven. They may receive this at the moment of death, as most Protestants suppose, or between death and judgement, as (in different forms) was supposed by some of the fathers and by the modern Roman Church. But apparently the oldest belief was that the work would be done at the moment of Judgement; see Comm. on 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 : and this passage is quite in harmony with that view.Revelation 22:2. Ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐντεῦθεν) ἔνθεν καὶ ἔνθεν, Ezekiel 47:7; Ezekiel 47:12, adverbially; but here ἐντεῦθεν, as in other places ἐνταῦθα, is a preposition.[239]—ἈΠΟΔΙΔΟῦΝ) for ἈΠΌΔΙΔΟΝ, as ΔΙΔΌΩ for ΔΊΔΩΜΙ.—ΕἸς ΘΕΡΑΠΕΊΑΝ) לִתְרוּפָה, Ezekiel 47:12, where the LXX. have ΕἸς ὙΓΙΕΊΑΝ. ΘΕΡΑΠΕΊΑ implies an inceptive signification: and yet there will be nothing of the character of disease. Comp. Ezekiel 47:9. Hence the difficulty of the question concerning the salvation of the nations may be explained.

[239] So Rec. Text. But the oldest authorities AB have ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐκεῖθεν.—E.Verse 2. - In the midst of the street of it. This sentence appears to belong to the preceding verse, as in the Revised Version. For

(1) the καί, "and," which follows, seems the beginning of the fresh feature of the description (cf. ver. 1); and

(2) the account here given is evidently derived from Ezekiel 47, where the river is connected with trees, but no such mention is made of streets. And on either side of the river, was there the tree of life; and on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life. The beginning of the new sentence (vide supra). The singular "tree" seems intended to be understood generically of the whole of that class of trees. For this reason probably the LXX. renders the Hebrew of Ezekiel 47:7 by the plural "trees." We may see in this bountiful supply of the trees of life an image of the abundance of grace and life in store for the redeemed (cf. the description in Ezekiel 47.). Which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; rather, twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; i.e. one crop m each month. The number twelve signifies completeness (see on Revelation 4:9; 7:4-9, etc.). This fruit is yielded twelve times as often as ordinary fruit. The signification, therefore, is that there is an ever present supply. The fruit is not of twelve different kinds; the tree of life bears but one kind (cf. 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"). And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (cf. Ezekiel 47:12, quoted above, "And the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine"). "The nations" are not the heathen, but the multitude of the redeemed, gathered out of every nation (see on Revelation 21:24). It is, of course, not implied that there is, in the new Jerusalem, any disease which needs healing, but the tree of life is put forward as the means by which the perpetual health and life and general well being of the inhabitants are sustained. In the midst of the street thereof

Some connect these words with the preceding. So Rev.

On either side (ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐντεῦθεν)

For the latter ἐντεῦθεν read ἐκεῖθεν, as render, as Rev., on this side and on that.

Tree (ξύλον)

See on Luke 23:31, and see on Revelation 2:7.

Twelve manner of fruits (καρποὺς δώδεκα)

Lit., twelve fruits. Some render crops or harvests of fruit. On these two verses compare Ezekiel 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 14:8.

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