Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets…
I. THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSONS HERE DECLARED TO BE BLESSED. They do the commandments of Christ. The commandments of Christ are the revelation of the will of God. This revelation consists partly of doctrines or truths to be believed, and partly of duties to be performed.
II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN DOING THE COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST AND HAVING A RIGHT TO EAT OF THE TREE OF LIFE. And here, at the very first, it is necessary to state that we must beware of imagining that by doing the commandments we procure for ourselves a title to eternal life. The work of our salvation is, in the Word of God, ascribed to Christ, from its commencement to its close. As He suffered in our stead, so He fulfilled for us all righteousness, and left us nothing to perform — nothing, I say, to perform in the way of recommending ourselves to the favour of God; although we have unquestionably much to perform on other grounds. The persons in the text have the right, because God has declared and promised in His Word, which can never be broken, that they who possess that character which manifests itself in aiming at a holy and constant obedience to His law, shall have the right, or more properly the privilege of eating of the tree of life, and of entering in hereafter through the gates into the city. To the fulfilment of this promise it is by no means necessary that obedience and right should be connected together as cause and effect. It is at the same time perfectly true, for it is asserted repeatedly in the Bible, that the good works of the saints are rewarded by God, but then this is entirely owing to their union with Christ by faith. God may also be said to confer rewards upon us for our holy and benevolent actions, inasmuch as these actions are signs and evidences of our union with Christ, and in so doing we may consider Him as promising the reward, not on account of signs or evidences themselves, but solely on account of the thing which they signify.
III. WHEREIN CONSISTS THE HAPPINESS OF THOSE WHO, BY DOING THE COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST, ASCERTAIN THEIR RIGHT TO EAT OF THE TREE OF LIFE, AND TO ENTER IN THROUGH THE GATES INTO THE CITY. The expression, "tree of life," is most probably figurative; but figurative though it be, it unquestionably intimates that the heavenly happiness shall be of perpetual duration, and it conveys to us this truth in a most significant and forcible manner.' We shall eat of the tree of life. Think only of how much alarm and misery death is the cause in this world, and then you will be enabled, in some measure, to conceive the felicity of that other and better world in which there shall be no more death. But further, they who do the commandments of Christ shall enter in through the gates into the city, they shall be openly received and welcomed into the city of the heavenly Jerusalem, through the regular and lawful entrance, as citizens of a place have the right and privilege of admission. A city conveys the idea of security, and comfort, and society. By its walls it protects from the assaults of enemies; by its gates it excludes whatever might hurt, or offend, or incommode; and by the number of those who live within it, united together by sameness of interests, laws, language, religion, and manners, it puts us in possession of all the gratifications which flow from society and friendly intercourse. As the happiness of the redeemed shall be endless in duration, so also shall it be uninterrupted and without diminution.
(A. Bullock, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.