The Revelation: Chapter 22:16-21 (Come, Lord Jesus!)


(Rev. 22:16 ESV) 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

The message is urgent. Wright picks up well on the spirit of the passage —

The song mingles with the bells, the voice of Jesus clearly audible through the echoing repetitions, the urgings, the warnings. Warnings there are indeed: it’s too late to change now; wash your clothes in the lamb’s blood, so that you can eat from the tree of life, because those who don’t, those who love inventing lies of every kind, will be outside (verse 15).

John isn’t worried about ‘consistency’ here; that’s not how bells and choirs work. Yes, those people were in the lake of fire before, and now they’re outside the city. It’s the same picture with another twist of the kaleidoscope, as usual. Stop worrying about that; listen to the music. The words of this book. Coming soon. This prophecy. Yes, I am coming soon.

Tom Wright, Revelation for Everyone, For Everyone Bible Study Guides, (London; Louisville, KY: SPCK; Westminster John Knox, 2011), 205.

The reference to Jesus as the Morning Star is not easy —

The morning star is Venus, herald of the dawn (cf. Rev 2:28), which in this case probably alludes to Numbers 24:17, the star descended from Jacob (Israel) and destined to reign and crush the enemies of God’s people. (The Dead Sea Scrolls also applied Num 24:17 to a conquering messiah.)

Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 820-821.

(Rev. 22:17 ESV)  17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. 

Why does the Spirit show up here? Up to this point, the focus has been almost entirely on God the Father and Jesus the Son. The Spirit, of course, is the author of all prophecy, and so the author of the Apocalypse.

The Spirit reveals himself directly — no longer content to work through a vision or a pen. The Spirit himself urges the unbeliever or the wavering believer to approach the throne of grace and receive the water of the river of the life from the throne of God himself.

The Bride is, of course, the New Jerusalem, and the future home of those who come to Jesus and drink of the river of life.

(Rev. 22:18-19 ESV)  18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,  19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Now, the passage is speaking particularly of the Revelation, not the NT or Bible.

It was, however, customary for ancient writers to protect their works against mutilation and interpolation by adding such an anathema. John’s concern was to prevent his message from being perverted through addition or removal. The same concern is seen in Dt. 4:2.

George R. Beasley-Murray, Revelation (New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition; ed. D. A Carson et al.; Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 1454.

While I would agree that we should not add nor take away from any of the Bible, this does not justify our citing this passage for something it does not say, just because it happens to be near the end of the NT.

(Rev. 22:20-21 ESV)  20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!  21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. 

Maranatha! The ancient church often prayed for the return of Jesus, and the sooner Jesus returns, the less time there will be for the dreadful persecutions and sufferings the visions of the Revelation describe. The prayer remains a good one.

Finally, as previously commented, despite the many overt threats of damnation for those who disobey, the author hasn’t forgotten that all are saved by God’s grace, and it’s only by grace that the church will be able to remain faithful in these dreadful times.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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