Revelation 22 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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Verse 1

[1] And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

And he showed me a river of the water of life — The ever fresh and fruitful effluence of the Holy Ghost. See Ezekiel 47:1-12; where also the trees are mentioned which "bear fruit every month," that is, perpetually.

Proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb — "All that the Father hath," saith the Son of God, "is mine;" even the throne of his glory.

Verse 2

[2] 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.

In the midst of the street — Here is the paradise of God, mentioned, Revelation 2:7.

Is the tree of life — Not one tree only, but many.

Every month — That is, in inexpressible abundance. The variety, likewise, as well as the abundance of the fruits of the Spirit, may be intimated thereby.

And the leaves are for the healing of the nations — For the continuing their health, not the restoring it; for no sickness is there.

Verse 3

[3] And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

And there shall be no more curse — But pure life and blessing; every effect of the displeasure of God for sin being now totally removed.

But the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it — That is, the glorious presence and reign of God.

And his servants — The highest honour in the universe.

Shalt worship him — The noblest employment.

Verse 4

[4] And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

And shall see his face — Which was not granted to Moses. They shall have the nearest access to, and thence the highest resemblance of, him. This is the highest expression in the language of scripture to denote the most perfect happiness of the heavenly state, 1 John 3:2.

And his name shall be on their foreheads — Each of them shall be openly acknowledged as God's own property, and his glorious nature most visibly shine forth in them.

And they shall reign — But who are the subjects of these kings? The other inhabitants of the new earth. For there must needs be an everlasting difference between those who when on earth excelled in virtue, and those comparatively slothful and unprofitable servants, who were just saved as by fire. The kingdom of God is taken by force; but the prize is worth all the labour. Whatever of high, lovely, or excellent is in all the monarchies of the earth is all together not a grain of dust, compared to the glory of the children of God. God "is not ashamed to be called their God, for whom he hath prepared this city." But who shall come up into his holy place? "They who keep his commandments," verse 14. Revelation 22:14

Verse 5

[5] And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

And they shall reign for ever and ever — What encouragement is this to the patience and faithfulness of the saints, that, whatever their sufferings are, they will work out for them "an eternal weight of glory!" Thus ends the doctrine of this Revelation, in the everlasting happiness of all the faithful. The mysterious ways of Providence are cleared up, and all things issue in an eternal Sabbath, an everlasting state of perfect peace and happiness, reserved for all who endure to the end.

Verse 6

[6] And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

And he said to me — Here begins the conclusion of the book, exactly agreeing with the introduction, (particularly verses 6, 7, 10, Revelation 22:6,7,10 with chap. i. 1, 3,) Revelation 1:1,3 and giving light to the whole book, as this book does to the whole scripture.

These sayings are faithful and true — All the things which you have heard and seen shall be faithfully accomplished in their order, and are infallibly true.

The Lord, the God of the holy prophets — Who inspired and authorised them of old. Hath now sent me his angel, to show his servants - By thee.

The things which must be done shortly — Which will begin to be performed immediately.

Verse 7

[7] Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Behold, I come quickly — Saith our Lord himself, to accomplish these things.

Happy is he that keepeth — Without adding or diminishing, verses 18, 19, Revelation 22:18,19 the words of this book.

Verse 8

[8] And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel — The very same words which occur, Revelation 19:10. The reproof of the angel, likewise, See thou do it not|, for I am thy fellowservant, is expressed in the very same terms as before. May it not be the very same incident which is here related again? Is not this far more probable, than that the apostle would commit a fault again, of which he had been so solemnly warned before?

Verse 9

[9] 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.

See thou do it not|-The expression in the original is short and elliptical, as is usual in showing vehement aversion.

Verse 10

[10] And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

And he saith to me — After a little pause.

Seal not the sayings of this book — Conceal them not, like the things that are sealed up.

The time is nigh — Wherein they shall begin to take place.

Verse 11

[11] He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

He that is unrighteous — As if he had said, The final judgment is at hand; after which the condition of all mankind will admit of no change for ever.

Unrighteous — Unjustified.

Filthy — Unsanctified, unholy.

Verse 12

[12] And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

I — Jesus Christ.

Come quickly — To judge the world.

And my reward is with me — The rewards which I assign both to the righteous and the wicked are given at my coming.

To give to every man according as his work — His whole inward and outward behaviour shall be.

Verse 13

[13] I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last — Who exist from everlasting to everlasting. How clear, incontestable a proof, does our Lord here give of his divine glory!

Verse 14

[14] Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Happy are they that do his commandments — His, who saith, I come - He speaks of himself.

That they may have right — Through his gracious covenant.

To the tree of life — To all the blessings signified by it. When Adam broke his commandment, he was driven from the tree of life. They who keep his commandments" shall eat thereof.

Verse 15

[15] For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Without are dogs — The sentence in the original is abrupt, as expressing abhorrence. The gates are ever open; but not for dogs; fierce and rapacious men.

Verse 16

[16] I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

I Jesus have sent my angel to testify these things — Primarily.

To you — The seven angels of the churches; then to those churches - and afterwards to all other churches in succeeding ages.

I — as God.

Am the root — And source of David's family and kingdom; as man, an descended from his loins. "I am the star out of Jacob," Numbers 24:17; like the bright morning star, who put an end to the night of ignorance, sin, and sorrow, and usher in an eternal day of light, purity, and joy.

Verse 17

[17] And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The Spirit and the bride — The Spirit of adoption in the bride, in the heart of every true believer.

Say — With earnest desire and expectation.

Come — And accomplish all the words of this prophecy.

And let him that thirsteth, come — Here they also who are farther off are invited.

And whosoever will, let him take the water of life — He may partake of my spiritual and unspeakable blessings, as freely as he makes use of the most common refreshments; as freely as he drinks of the running stream.

Verses 18-19

[18] For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: [19] And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

I testify to every one, … — From the fulness of his heart, the apostle utters this testimony, this weighty admonition, not only to the churches of Asia, but to all who should ever hear this book. He that adds, all the plagues shall be added to him; he that takes from it, all the blessings shall be taken from him; and, doubtless, this guilt is incurred by all those who lay hinderances in the way of the faithful, which prevent them from hearing their Lord's "I come," and answering, "Come, Lord Jesus." This may likewise be considered as an awful sanction, given to the whole New Testament; in like manner as Moses guarded the law, Deuteronomy 4:2, and Deuteronomy 12:32; and as God himself did, Malachi 4:4, in closing the canon of the Old Testament.

Verse 20

[20] He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

He that testifieth these things — Even all that is contained in this book.

Saith — For the encouragement of the church in all her afflictions.

Yea — Answering the call of the Spirit and the bride.

I come quickly — To destroy all her enemies, and establish her in a state of perfect and everlasting happiness. The apostle expresses his earnest desire and hope of this, by answering, Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Verse 21

[21] The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

The grace — The free love.

Of the Lord Jesus — And all its fruits.

Be with all — Who thus long for his appearing!

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