Rev. 22:17 – Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift. (HCSB)
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
This verse is a final call to salvation to all who receive it in faith. The call to eternal life is a call to come to Jesus, for He has come to us throughout human history – revealing Himself in creation and conscience; appearing in the burning bush, the pillar of cloud and fire, the Shekinah glory in the tabernacle and temple; visiting as the Angel of Yahweh, and most importantly as Jesus of Nazareth – the Word becoming flesh and taking up residence among us (John 1:14).
The call to come echoes throughout Scripture as a unified pleading of the Godhead. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit take the initiative to come first to us, and then they bid us to respond in faith to their grace and mercy.
The Father says “come” – come out of the ark for judgment has passed (Gen. 8:16); come up to the mountain to receive the Law (Ex. 24:12); come to the tent of meeting (Num. 12:4); come and reason with the Lord so your sins, though scarlet, may be white as snow (Isa. 1:18).
The Son says “come” – come, all who are weary and burdened, and He will give you rest (Matt. 11:28); come, you who are blessed by the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matt. 24:34); come away and rest for a while (Mark 6:31); come and follow (Mark 9:21; Luke 18:22); come – those who are thirsty – and drink (John 3:37); come out of the grave (John 11:43).
And the Spirit says “come” (Rev. 22:17), wooing an unbelieving world to trust in the Savior. After Jesus returns to His Father in heaven, the Spirit comes to us and remains with us as we eagerly await Christ’s return. The Spirit regenerates us (John 3:6-7; Titus 3:5); seals us (Eph. 1:13-14); indwells us (1 Cor. 3:16); baptizes us into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13); sets us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2); sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:12; 1 Peter 1:2); counsels us (John 14:26); grants us spiritual gifts for service (1 Cor. 12:1-11); enables us to put to death the things of the flesh (Rom. 8:12-13); and reminds us that we belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9).
But the Creator and Sovereign of the universe does not force Himself upon us or into our hearts. He comes to us and beckons us to come to Christ. Thus, the gentle but urgent plea, “Come!”
Rev. 22:16 – “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.” (HCSB)
I, Jesus, have sent My angel
In verse 16 Jesus plainly identifies Himself by name, as if to place a final stamp of approval on everything that has been revealed. He also restates what was first revealed in Rev. 1:1 – that He has sent His angel to deliver the message. While the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit often are quoted as speaking directly throughout scripture, God often uses angels as the vehicles through which divine truths are communicated to people.
Here, Christ says, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches.” The “you” in Greek is plural, confirming that Christ’s revelation is not for John alone. Most likely it includes believers in the seven churches through whom the message of Christ is shared with Christians of all times and places.
Jesus then says, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.” Here He affirms both His divine and human natures, brought together through the miracle of the virgin birth and resulting in the sinless life of the God-Man. As God, He is the Root or Originator of King David. He fashions the king in his mother’s womb, makes him a man after God’s own heart, anoints Him for service, and exalts him to the throne. As man, He is descended from David, to whom His lineage may be traced (Matt. 1:1ff).
Rev. 22:14 – “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. (HCSB)
Outside are the dogs
In verses 14-15, Jesus speaks directly to readers with a blessing and a curse: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”
This is the seventh and last of the beatitudes in Revelation, the others being found at Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; and 22:7. The one who reads this book, hears the words of this prophecy, and keeps what is written is blessed (1:3). The one who perseveres in keeping God’s commands and faith in Jesus to the death is blessed (14:13). The one who is alert and remains faithful is blessed (16:15). Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are blessed (19:9). The one who shares in the first resurrection – the resurrection of the just – is blessed (20:6). And the one who keeps the prophetic words of this book is blessed (22:7).
In this final beatitude (22:14), the Lord assures believers – those who demonstrate their faith by keeping His commands – that they are welcome in the New Jerusalem, where they enjoy complete security and boundless provision. The basis of their entry is the shed blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14), which cleanses from sin and replaces the filthy rags of sinners’ self-righteousness with the white robes of Christ’s righteousness (see Rev. 3:4; 7:14; 19:7-8; Isa. 1:18).
Rev. 22:10 – He also said to me, “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let the unrighteous go on in unrighteousness; let the filthy go on being made filthy; let the righteous go on in righteousness; and let the holy go on being made holy.” (HCSB)
Don’t seal the prophetic words
The angel has another command for John in verse 10: “Don’t seal the prophetic words of this book, because the time is near.” Looking back to the Old Testament, we see that at least three times Daniel is prohibited from sharing what has been revealed to him because those things are for “many days in the future,” or “the time of the end” (see Dan. 8:26; 12:4, 9). In stark contrast, and in light of the return of Christ in the last days, John is instructed not to seal these prophetic words because the time of their fulfillment is at hand. Perhaps in Revelation we are witnessing the unsealing of the visions Daniel was instructed to hold fast.
But other commentators suggest that a better way to understand the angel’s command here is to compare it with the voice from heaven in Revelation 10, which booms, “Seal up what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down!” John has been faithfully recording what he sees and hears, but in the middle of his visions he is told that this particular message is to remain hidden.
We should not assume that the message from the seven thunders is finally unveiled at the end of the book, because we receive no indication of what that message might be. Perhaps there simply are some things God determines should not be shared.
The apostle Paul has a unique experience in 2 Corinthians 12 in which he is taken up into the third heaven – presumably where the throne of God resides – and hears “inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak” (v. 4). Is it possible that the words of the seven thunders are so awe-inspiring, so wonderful, so frightening that there is no earthly way to express them?
Rev. 22:8 – I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (HCSB)
Don’t do that!
In verse 8, John identifies himself one last time as the one to whom these visions are given. “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things,” he declares. This harks back to chapter 1, in which the apostle calls himself Christ’s “slave John, who testified to God’s word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ in all he saw” (1:1b-2). He begins verse 4 with, “John: To the seven churches in Asia.” Shortly thereafter he writes, “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God’s word and the testimony about Jesus” (1:9). As in his Gospel and letters, so in Revelation John is careful to emphasize the importance of eyewitness testimony concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.
He begins his first epistle with these words:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have observed and have touched with our hands,
concerning the Word of life –
that life was revealed,
and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you
the eternal life that was with the Father
and was revealed to us –
what we have seen and heard
we also declare to you,
so that you may have fellowship along with us;
and indeed our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3)