Revelation-Part 53

By: Dr. Robert Thomas; ©2003
Revelation contains a series of exchanges between one of the angels of the seven plagues and john, and between Jesus and John. This article concentrates on the testimony of the angel and the response of John.


Testimonies of a Last-Plague Angel and John

In this lesson we come to the Epilogue of the book of Revelation as found in 22:6-21. The Epilogue contains a series of exchanges between one of the angels of the seven last plagues and John and between Jesus and John. As we discuss these verses, please be alert for three repeated emphases: (1) a confirmation of the genuineness of the prophecy (vv. 6-7, 8-9, 16, 18-19), (2) a focus on the imminence of Jesus’ return (vv. 6-7, 10, 12, 20), and (3) a warning to the unfit and an invitation to the fit to enter the city (vv. 11-12, 15, 17-19).

The present lesson will concentrate on the testimony of the angel (22:6-7) and the re­sponse of John (22:8-11).

The Testimony of the Angel (22:6-7)

Revelation 22:6-9 functions as a conclusion not only to Intercalation #2 (21:9–22:5) but also to the whole book of Revelation. Verses 8-9 relate more closely to the intercalation, with vv. 6-7 bearing more on the whole book. The two foci are not mutually exclusive of each other in either part, however.

Verses 6-7 has much in common with Revelation 1. The prophecy comes from God Himself (22:6 with 1:1) and from Jesus (22:6, 7 with 1:1). It concerns things that must take place soon (22:6 with 1:1), using an angel (22:6, 16) as a means of communication with John (22:8 with 1:1), the book’s author (22:8 with 1:1, 4, 9). Its message is genuine proph­ecy (22:6, 7, 9, 10, 18-19 with 1:3) delivered through a genuinely commissioned prophet (22:8, 9, 10 with 1:1, 9-11). The addressees are God’s slaves (22:6 with 1:1) who will hear it read in their churches (22:16, 18 with 1:3, 11). It promises special blessing for those who obey its words (22:7, 12, 14 with 1:3) and warns of impending retribution to the unfaithful (22:11, 12, 18-19 with 1:7). Its message revolves around Christ (22:16, 18, 20 with 1:2, 5, 9), the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last (22:13 with 1:17), who is the central figure (22:12, 13, 16 with 1:5, 7) and is coming soon (22:7, 10, 12, 20 with 1:3, 7).

Identification of the speakers throughout the Epilogue of Revelation is difficult, 22:6 being no exception. Most likely, the speaker in v. 6 is one of the angels who had the seven bowls. He began speaking in 21:9-10 and continued in 21:15. His words, “these words are faithful and true,” resemble the words of 19:9, “these words are the true [ones] of God.” They are not just an endorsement of the second intercalation (21:9–22:5), but of the whole book, as the words “the things that must happen soon” later in verse 6 indicate. The all-inclusive scope of “these words” provides a smooth transition from the glorious vision of the new Jerusalem to the conclusion of the book. No book of the Bible has a more pointed attestation, a stronger safeguarding against tampering, or a more urgent recommendation for study and observance than the book of Revelation, especially in its Epilogue.

“The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His slaves the things that must happen soon” (22:6b) resemble the words written by John himself in Revelation 1:1, but here they are the words of the angel. By associating John with the whole body of Christian prophets, the angel pointedly certifies that John’s words as genu­ine, since they came from “the God of the spirits of the prophets.” “The things that must happen soon” refer directly to 1:1 and the purpose of the book as a whole. The same words at the beginning and end of the book wrap up the book’s content in a folder of cer­tainty because they came from a God who knows the future.

With these words, the contents of the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation 5 have now been exhausted. The seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl have con­cluded and “the mystery of God” (10:7) has reached its climax. The “soon” occurrence of the events described under such headings means that they are imminent, that is, they may begin to transpire at any moment.

As the angel continues in 22:7, he becomes the mouthpiece for Christ Himself: “Behold I will come soon.” These are undoubtedly the words of Christ, but they are reported by the angel in a way that the Old Testament prophets sometimes injected God’s words without the customary, “says the Lord” (for example, see Isa. 16:10 [end]; 61:8). The Lord Jesus personally affirms the imminence of His coming as elsewhere a number of times in the Epilogue (22:12, 20) and the rest of the book (2:5, 16; 3:11; 16:15). He pronounces a beatitude on the one who keeps “the words of the prophecy of this book.” Blessing belongs to the one who obeys as in 1:3.

The Response of John (22:8-11)

Revelation 22:8-11 has John’s response to the angel at the conclusion of his overpower­ing visional experience. He fell at the feet of the angel, an act of worship by which he au­thenticated the words spoken by the angel. Perhaps, John thought he was worshiping Christ since the angel uttered Christ’s promise of an imminent return in 22:7a. The angel was the same one who showed John these things (22:8b), the things pertaining to the new Jerusalem (see 21:9, 10; 22:1, 6).

The angel disallows John’s act of worship, identifying himself as “the fellow-slave of you and of your brethren the prophets and of those who keep the words of this book” (22:9). The angel exalts the prophetic office by putting John and the other New Testament proph­ets alongside himself. But he is also a fellow-slave of “those who keep the words of this book.” John had some brethren who were prophets and some who were not prophets. The angel classifies himself with the non-prophets who keep the words of the prophecy given to John. They are not prophets like John and the other prophets, but are nevertheless faithful slaves of God. In correcting John, the angel instructs him to “worship God.”

The angel continues in telling John, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (22:10). That command is the reverse of the one given to Daniel at the end of his prophecy (Dan. 12:4, 9-10), but the prophecy given to John was needed to meet the immediate crisis facing the churches of his day and the centuries following. The availability of the contents would enable the churches to read and hear the book’s contents and undertake actions appropriate in light of “the things that must happen soon.” “The time is near,” (22:10b) continues the angel. It is not somewhere off in the distant future. It could occur at any moment.

Because of the nearness of the time, “let the one who does wrong do wrong still, and let the filthy one be filthy still, and let the righteous one do righteousness still, and the holy one be holy still” (22:11). In other words, the time is short, so let people continue in their own way. Here is a strong warning against putting off a decision to become a faithful follower of the Lamb. Because of the imminence of Jesus’ return to initiate the series of events de­tailed in this book, the personal response to the message may well be decision that will carry each person into his eternal state.

The angel anticipates no widespread change during the time before the end. A persis­tence in either evil or good is all that he expects from the readers. The four parts of verse 11 indicate with a tone of irony the fixity of state in which the good and the evil find them­selves at a time when no further opportunity for repentance remains. His implied plea is, “Change while there is time.” Once a person makes his choice, he has sealed his eternal destiny for better or for worse. Both the state of evil and the state of good remain fixed after a person makes that all-important choice.

God’s messengers, including Jesus Himself, John the prophet, and the angel, are plead­ing with you, dear reader. Use your opportunity now. Soon it may be too late. Become a follower of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, through trusting Him and His sacrificial death on the cross for you. God raised Him from the dead, and He will raise you to enjoy the beauties of the new Jerusalem if will decide now for righteousness and holiness.

Note: For more details about the testimony of the angel and the response of John, see my discussion in Revelation 8–22 (Moody Press, 1995), pages 493-503. To order this volume, you may contact Grace Books International at (800) GRACE15 or

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