Revelation-Part 54

By: Dr. Robert Thomas; ©2003
This month Dr. Thomas begins his look at Revelation 22:12-14. This is important, not just because they are among the last utterances of Jesus in the New Testament, but also because of the message in these words.


The Closing Words of Jesus—Part 1

Our last discussion [See October, 1993] looked at the first part of the Epilogue of Revelation. We considered the testimony of the angel (22:6-7) and the testimony of John (22:8-11). This month we continue with the Epilogue by considering the last words of Jesus Himself. His words in 22:12-17 are among His last utterances in the New Testament, a factor that in itself makes them quite sobering, but the substance of what He says is also enough to stir the heart of any reasonable person. He speaks first about those inside the new Jerusalem (22:12-14), then about those outside the city (22:15). He closes with invitations for His own coming and for any­one who is thirsty (22:16-17).

Those Inside the City (22:12-14)

Verse 12 repeats Jesus’ promise to return to earth. The angel voiced His promise in 22:7, but here the Lord Himself speaks: “Behold, I will come soon.” Instead of promising a blessing as He did in verse 7, however, He promises accountability in verse 12. He promises to reward each one according to his/her work. Works are consistently the basis for future divine judgment. Every individual will bear responsibility for what he/she has done.

Jesus introduces Himself in three ways in 22:13—as “the Alpha and the Omega,” as “the first and the last,” and as “the beginning and the end.” “The Alpha and the Omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, is a title for God the Father in Revelation 1:17 and 21:6. Both the Father and Jesus are where everything began and where it will end. “The first and the last” always speaks of Jesus in this book (see 1:17; 2:8), but in Isaiah 44:6 and 48:12, it refers to the LORD, the personal name of God in the Old Testament. Both Persons of the Godhead are the primal cause and the final aim of all history. “The beginning and the end” refers to the Father in Revelation 21:6. Both the Father and the Son created the world and will eventually perfect it.

After introducing Himself in this way, Jesus pronounces the seventh and last beatitude in Revela­tion: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that their authority may be over the tree of life and they may enter the gates into the city.” See also 1:3; 14:18; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7. Other beatitudes come from a variety of sources such as Jesus, John, a heavenly voice, and from one of the angels who bore the seven bowls, but this one is from Jesus. It promises access to the tree of life (22:2) and entrance to the Holy City (21:25). It recalls the heavenly multitude who in 7:14 have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is the only means for cleansing spiritual apparel soiled by sin. Those thus cleansed are people who have entrusted their future existence to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice to cleanse them from sin.

As earlier lessons have made evident, presence in that city is the optimum of eternal well­being.

Those Outside the City (22:15)

Jesus next alludes to the accountability of those excluded from the bliss of the new Jerusa­lem. Verse 15 categorizes those whose robes are unwashed as “the dogs and the sorcerers and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and does a lie.” Readers of Revelation have learned earlier that an existence outside the Holy City means a final destiny in the lake of fire (20:15; 21:8).

“Dogs” represent moral impurity in the Bible. “Male prostitutes” (Deut. 23:18), Gentiles (Matt. 15:26), and Judaizers (Phil. 3:2-3) have such a description applied to them. “Sorcerers,” “forni­cators,” “murderers,” and “idolaters” appear in the list of 21:8 also. John repeatedly refers to those four vices throughout Revelation. “Everyone who loves and does a lie” elaborates on “all liars” of 21:8 and “everyone doing a lie” of 21:27. Elsewhere, John speaks of not “doing” the truth (1 John 1:6) and also of “doing the truth” (John 3:21). Loving a lie is even worse than “doing” a lie, of course. Everyone who loves falsehood has through that love demonstrated his kinship to falsehood and his affinity to Satan who is the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan’s eter­nal home is a congenial place for those who love and practice lying.

Invitations (22:16-17)

With the unique “I Jesus,” our Lord speaks of His role in producing this book through the angel who testifies to the churches (22:16a). Few who had known Jesus in His earthly ministry remained alive at the time He gave Revelation to the apostle John. John was one of the few. Nowhere else in the book does He call Himself by this personal name. Such a personal word from the Lord undoubtedly bolstered John’s case in the face of the strongly competitive atmo­spheres among prophets and professing prophets that prevailed in the churches of Asia during the last decade of the first century.

Jesus sent the angel to testify to “you” (plural, v. 16b), most probably a reference to the seven churches who received the words through the seven messengers who received them from John (see Rev. 1:20). The messages are ultimately intended “for the churches” (v. 16), most probably a reference to churches in general, not just the seven churches. This latter designation probably generalizes the destination of Revelation both geographically and chronologically.

Jesus’ claim to authority lies in His identity as “the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star” (22:16c). As the root of David, he will found the new Jerusalem as David founded the earthly Jerusalem. By fulfilling all the Messianic promises associated with David’s family, He is also the offspring of David.

Verse 17 could be a reply of John to the words of Jesus in v. 16, but the flow of vv. 16-19 in their emphasis on the authority of the book and their identification of Jesus as the speaker in v. 20a argue more persuasively for verse 17 being Christ’s words. The verse has three invitations. The first two are petitions addressed to Christ, inviting His return to earth. First, Christ quotes the Holy Spirit and the bride. As the revealer of things to come (John 16:13), the Spirit invokes His return to earth. As the bride of Christ, the church expresses her constant yearning for that same event. In addition, “the one who hears” Revelation read in the local assembly is to repeat the call for Christ’s second advent.

The third invitation is for the one who thirsts and also desires to take the water of life. It is a gracious and wide invitation to enjoy cheer following the picture of doom and despair given in v. 15. The door of mercy is still open. Jesus invites all in the seven churches to avail themselves of this free offer.

How can the offer be any clearer. The reader of these words has the same opportunity as did the seven churches addressed by John: “Come and take of the water of life freely.”

Note: For more details about the final words of Jesus, see my discussion in Revelation 8–22 (Moody Press, 1995), pages 504-513. To order this volume, you may contact Grace Books International at (800) GRACE15 or

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