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CHAPTERS 20, 21, AND 22 OF THE REVELATION

(Notes Compiled by F. M. Perry)

A Part of Division II, The Underlying Conflict, The Deeper Spiritual Background (continued).

Section 7, Chapters 20 - 22, The Judgement Upon the Dragon Followed by the New Jerusalem.

A. Chapter 20, Verses 1-3, The Binding of Satan for a Thousand Years.

"(1) And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold of the Dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, (3) and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he could not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time." NASV.

Here is the first mention in the Bible of a thousand year period. No where else in the Bible except in this chapter is a thousand year period mentioned. The first thought that comes to mind is that the "thousand years" is a symbolic period as the other time periods mentioned in the Revelation, such periods as "42 months," "1,260 days," and "time, times, and half a time." What happens during this thousand year period? The devil, Satan, is "bound" for this thousand year period.

B. Chapter 20, Verses 4-6, Christian Souls Reign with Christ for a Thousand Years.

"(4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (5) The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years was completed. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." NASV.

In these verses a similar thousand year period is mentioned. According to these verses, what else happens during this period? The souls of God's people (identified as those who did not have the mark of the beast) "came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years."

In summary, two things happen during the thousand year period:

(1) Satan is bound in the abyss "so he could not deceive the nations" during that period.

(2) Souls of certain people came to life to reign with Christ during the period.

These people whose souls came to life during the period are "those who had been beheaded" because of their testimony concerning Jesus and the word of God; and also "those who had not worshiped the beast, or his image, and had not received the mark of the beast." From study of earlier chapters it is known that "those who had not received the mark of the beast" are simply those who, during their life on earth, obeyed and followed God's word. These people are Christians. So the souls of Christians came to life and reigned with Christ during the thousand year period while Satan is bound. That is all that the Bible mentions that happens during this thousand year period. With just that much information there are a lot of questions, aren't there?

Let us consider, first, the question of when this thousand year period occurs. There have been several symbolic periods mentioned in the Revelation. The seven sections of the Revelation (see the outline) refer over and over again to a period of time in mankind's history. Let's review briefly.

In the first section, chapters 1 -3, no specific time is mentioned except the lifetime of Christians, members of local churches. That makes the first section applicable to the whole Christian dispensation from the time when the book of Revelation was written to the time that Christians cease to live on earth at the time of the final judgement. So the first section encompasses the whole Christian dispensation.

In the second section, chapters 4 - 7, no specific period of time is mentioned. But the period of that section starts with the Lamb of God, who has just been slain and resurrected, appearing before the throne of God in heaven to begin breaking the seals of the book. We concluded that the visions which followed the breaking of the seven seals symbolized the things which must take place on earth all during the entire Christian dispensation.

In the third section, chapters 8 - 11, a time period is mentioned, 42 months, that the nations shall tread underfoot the holy city. Then the period 1,260 days is mentioned (the same time as 42 months) as the time that the Lord's two witnesses should prophesy on earth. We concluded that the 1,260 day, or 42 month, period was symbolic of the entire Christian dispensation.

In the fourth section, chapters 12 - 14, the symbolic period 1,260 days is again mentioned as the period the woman (the church) is nourished in the wilderness of the world. This same time is also referred to as "time, times, and half a time," and the period of 42 months is again mentioned, and we concluded each period was symbolic of the entire Christian dispensation.

In the fifth section, chapters 15 - 16, no specific symbolic time period is mentioned, but it is clear that the bowls of wrath are poured out during the time that the beast and his image are upon the earth waging war against God's church, and this is the entire Christian dispensation.

In the sixth section, chapters 17 - 19, no specific symbolic length of time is mentioned for the period of existence of the harlot or the great city, Mystery Babylon. But it is clear that these symbols exist at the same time as the sea beast which is the symbolic 42 months. Again, this section covers the period of the entire Christian dispensation until the final judgement.

Now in this seventh section of the Revelation, chapters 20 -22, right at the very start, a time period of 1,000 years is mentioned. One of the first possibilities concerning the meaning of this 1,000 year period, should certainly be that it is another symbolic number denoting the entire period of the Christian dispensation. That seems to be the pattern of each section so far. Well, we should say in answer to that suggestion, "that depends on what is said to happen during this symbolic 1,000 year period." Does it "match" what the scriptures give us elsewhere to expect during the Christian dispensation?

Some people around us in the world of religion seem to have concluded that the symbolism of the book of Revelation must cease right at this point in the book, and from here on everything is literal. The period of 1,000 years must be literal, they say. And I have asked some of them why it must be literal, and they have simply retorted, "Don't you think the Lord can count?" Well, truly, I think it is we humans who cannot count. The Lord can count in an infinite number of ways. It is we humans who are limited. The Lord is not limited. What period of history past, present, and/or future, does the 1,000 years represent?

Verse 4 says it is the period during which Christ reigns. During what period does the rest of the Bible describe Christ as reigning? He was enthroned in heaven as King of kings 40 days after His resurrection from the dead, at the time of His ascension into heaven. That's when He began His reign. A definitive benchmark in His reign will occur "when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and authority and power. For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet." (1st Cor. 15:24-25). That time will be at the final judgement. The conclusion is that the world is right now in the midst of the reign of Jesus Christ. And if the 1,000 years coincides with His reign, the world must right now be in the midst of the millennium, the symbolic 1,000 year period.

Well that's one point. What else does it say happens during this symbolic 1,000 year period?

Verse 2 says that, as the 1,000 years started, Satan was bound. And verse 3 says that Satan will be bound for the entire symbolic 1,000 year period. If the 1,000 year period is symbolic of the entire Christian dispensation, then Satan must be bound for the entire period of the Christian dispensation. Is Satan bound now?

Remember that the Revelation contains accounts of visions of symbols. The binding of Satan is a symbol. No one could believe that Satan, a spirit, "without flesh and bone," could be bound with a literal chain, or shut up literally in a deep hole. But God can limit his spiritual activities. The "binding of Satan" likely is symbolic of limitations which God has placed upon Satan in his activities here on earth.

One symbolic chain which has been placed on Satan is the word of God which has been available to all men during the entire Christian age. One little word from Christ is enough to bind Satan for a thousand years. When the Lord came to earth, took on flesh and allowed himself to be killed, and was raised from the dead, Satan became effectively bound. Christ is now being preached and people are now being converted on this earth by Christ's servants, the Christians. "How can one enter into the house of the strong man and spoil his goods, unless he first bind the strong man?" asked Jesus in Matt. 12:29. Christ first bound Satan. Now Christ is spoiling his goods in the converting of people from Satan to himself. Every saved person converted since Christ came is proof of Satan's being bound during the Christian dispensation.

One might ask, "If Satan is bound now, what will he be like when he is loosed a little while?" Christ knows Satan a lot better than any human does. We might dare to think that in a "loosed Satan" lies the means to bring the world to an end. James Burton Coffman says, "The world itself will probably not stand a month when Satan is finally loosed 'a little while.'"

I think it may be definitely concluded that Satan does not share control of the universe with God. Whatever Satan may do, he does only with God's permissive will, and all that he is allowed to do serves God's eternal purpose.

In this section, why did the Lord choose 1,000 years to represent the Christian dispensation? I do not know. Why did He choose 1,260 days to represent the Christian dispensation in other sections? I do not know.

(Should I dare venture a thought? It has occurred to me that in six sections of visions of the Revelation, Christians are visualized as fleshly beings on earth looking at heavenly things with John. Christians are represented as they are on earth, short lived in the flesh, and then ready for the final judgement when the flesh of each one dies. In these six sections, the symbolic period of. the Christian dispensation is a small number, 1,260 days or 42 months, shorter than a human life. But in this seventh section of the Revelation, Christians are referred to as "souls", whose lives are eternal. Here the symbolic number is not so short as only 42 months. Here it is 1,000 years! It seems suitable that the symbolic number be much larger than the normal human life on earth.)

But, before we go on, what about the "souls" in verse 4 who "came to life?" Someone may ask, "Isn't that at the time of the judgement and the resurrection of Christians when Christ comes again on the last great day?" Isn't that when "souls come to life?" And, if so, doesn't that destroy your theory that the 1,000 years started when Christ first started to reign? Doesn't the "souls that come to life" during the 1,000 years restrict the period from starting until after the time of Christ's second coming at the final judgement?

What is the error in thinking exhibited by that question? When are "souls" brought to life? First,. when do "souls" die? They do not die with the body of flesh. (Matt. 10:28). "Souls" die only when they sin. The "soul" of a Christian will not be in the grave with the body when the Lord comes again. The "soul" of a Christian "comes to life" when that person is converted and is raised from the water of baptism to walk in newness of life. And then that soul's life becomes eternal, never to die again, if the Christian remains faithful until death of the flesh.

So our understanding that the 1,000 year period is symbolic of the entire Christian dispensation is not destroyed by any misunderstanding about souls coming to life.

Indeed, verse 5 does say that when souls come to life, "this is the first resurrection." And verse 6 says, "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power." Let us take note that in this vision a fleshly death is not mentioned. This is a vision of spiritual beings and the death alluded to is the death of a soul because of sin. This death is a separation of that soul from God.. The resurrection of that soul comes with the raising of the fleshly body belonging to that soul from the watery grave of baptism. This is the "first resurrection" when the soul is reunited with God. This "first resurrection" occurs during the fleshly life of a person on earth!

The "first resurrection" mentioned in verse 5 does not refer to the resurrection of the fleshly body. Neither does the "second death" mentioned in verse 6 refer to a death of the fleshly body. Souls are in view in this vision, not bodies. The first death, inferred by the mention of the second death, occurs when the soul dies because of sin. We will see in verse 14 of chapter 20 that the second death comes with the casting of souls into the lake of fire with Satan.

One other question may be raised by someone who wants to see something literal in the symbols of the vision in these first six verses. That is, the statement that these Christian souls had been "beheaded". Verse 4 says John "saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God." If the bodies of these people had been literally beheaded, this would be a very special minority of Christians that John saw in this vision. Not a great majority of Christians have been killed by having their heads severed from their bodies. Someone may say that these Christian souls in this vision were only those few whose bodies died by being beheaded, and that destroys the entire reasoning that this is a vision of all Christians during the entire Christian dispensation.

But in the midst of so much symbolism in this vision, is it not likely that the term "beheaded" is also a symbol? Are not souls symbolically "beheaded" when they yield their volitions to their "new head", Jesus Christ?

One of the principle functions of one's soul is to make one's choices and to exercise one's volition, or one's will. Christ asks Christians to give up being their own head and to yield the headship of their souls to Him. To Christians, "Christ is the head of every man." (1st Cor. 11:3). "If you have died with Christ," says Paul, then you should hold fast to His headship. In speaking of dying with Christ, Paul is speaking of the yielding of one's will to the Christ who was crucified for everyone. Jesus Himself said, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matt. 16:24-25). Jesus went on to explain in the book of Matthew that He was speaking symbolically of the putting to death of the life of one's soul. He said, "For whoever wishes to save his soul (the life of his soul) shall lose it, but whoever loses his soul for my sake shall find it." (Matt:16:24-25). Paul was speaking symbolically of his soul when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal. 2:20).

When Christians of the first century read Revelation, some of them were literally being killed by having their heads severed from their bodies. These literal beheading of Christians were so fresh and so meaningful that perhaps Christ put them in the symbolic visions which He showed to John, and the Holy Spirit led John to record "And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the word of God." The actual beheading of actual Christians became symbolical of what must happen to the souls of all people if they are to reign with Christ.

The beheading is borne out as a symbol in that it is equated to another obvious symbol. "The souls of those who had been beheaded," whom John saw in the vision, were the same souls as "those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark of the beast." Both symbolical phrases refer to souls who gave up their own selfish wills to let Christ exercise His will through them. These are the souls who reign with Christ for the symbolical 1,000 years.

C. Chapter 20, Verses 7-10, Satan Released and Thrown into the Lake of Fire.

"(7) And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, (8) and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. (9) And they came out on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (10) And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." NASV.

When verse 7 speaks of the thousand years being finished, it is surely speaking of the end of the Christian dispensation when Christ will come again. What is the meaning of the statement, "Satan will be released," or, "Satan shall be loosed?" Verse 2 said that Satan was bound for a symbolical thousand year period. Satan is completely bound as far as the righteous people of God are concerned. The "release," or "loosing" of Satan is a symbol which obviously is the opposite of the symbolical "binding" of Satan.

Satan is "loose"with respect to the unrighteous. God allows Satan to try to deceive the unrighteous. He even uses Satan to test people. So in the sense that God uses Satan to carry out His own will, Satan appears "loose" at times. James Burton Coffman says, "God will permit many of the human race to find out through terminal experience just what serving the devil really means."

Verse 8 says Satan "shall come forth to deceive the nations." James Burton Coffman says, "Wherever and whenever men are willing to work the works of wickedness, Satan will promote and organize those activities. It was the word of God which broke Satan's strangle hold upon the ancient world before the time of Jesus. And when men turn away from the word of God, Satan can be enabled through them to seize the whole world. Something resembling that terrible eventuality seems to be indicated here."

The names "Gog and Magog" are taken from the Old Testament prophecy of Ezekiel. Gog was a prince of the heathen land of Magog. The people of Magog were enemies of God's people. Barclay said that the names "Gog and Magog", in Jewish thought, came to stand for everything that was against God. Therefore the names "Gog and Magog" here in Revelation are symbols of all the enemies of God's people, symbols of all who are allied with Satan.

Here in chapter 20, as in chapter 19, Satan gathered all the enemies of God together to make war against God. Here in chapter 20 it is simply a retelling of the same event, with different symbols. The enemies of God do not actually have opportunity to wage war against God. God long ago defeated Satan, and Satan has never since that time been allowed to do anything except what has suited God's purpose. When, in verse 9, the vision shows Satan with all his evil men coming up on the plain of the earth to surround the saints of God, God simply sent fire down from heaven to devour them. Satan and his army of deceived and subverted men have absolutely no chance against the power of God.

In verse 10 there is finally a vision of the end of Satan. He was cast into the lake of fire, which is the "hell" of which Jesus spoke, and which Jesus revealed was prepared for Satan and his angels. (Matt. 25:41). Christ died upon the cross and gave His blood in order to prevent any person from ever suffering the punishment reserved for Satan. But people who choose to ignore Christ's sacrifice must accept the consequences of their choice. They will be cast into the lake of fire with Satan.

D. Chapter 20, Verses 11-15, The Second Death of Those Who Are Judged According to Their Deeds.

"(11) And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. (12) And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, everyone of them according to their deeds. (14) And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (15) And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." NASV.

"Him who sat upon" the great white throne was either God the Father or it was Jesus Christ. Jesus said during His life on earth, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne." (Matt. 25:31). And Jesus said of the Father, "He has given all judgement to the Son." (John 5:32). Still Paul said, "God will judge." (Acts 17:31). The truth of the matter is that the unity of the Father and the Son is such that action by either one could be ascribed to the other.

The statement that the "earth and the heavens fled away" from the presence of the One on the throne probably signifies that the physical universe of the earth, and the heavens around it, will be removed or destroyed. Peter prophesied that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat and the earth and its works will be burned up." (2nd Peter 3:10).

In verse 12 John saw all the dead, standing before the throne. It seems likely that this vision is only showing the judgement of evil souls. The "dead standing before the throne" in verse 12 are very likely those mentioned in verse 5, "the rest of the dead" who "did not come to life until the thousand years were completed", or until the Lord comes on His great white throne to judge them. This writer does not deny the possibility that, in some sense, people shall all stand before the throne in the last great day, both the good and the bad, but it appears that this vision in verses 11 through 15 describes only the judgement of the bad.

Verse 11 says these dead were judged according to their deeds, or their works. The phrase "according to their works" is to be understood in contrast to the work of Christians who do not do their own works at all, but yield themselves as instruments to do the Lord's works. The dead before the throne here in verse 11 are to be contrasted with the souls of verse 4 who allowed themselves to be figuratively beheaded in order to do Christ's works, not their own works. Those whose souls came to life and reigned with Christ, in verse 4, will not taste the second death. The souls of verse 11 did not come to life to reign with Christ, so now in the resurrection they are forcibly brought before the throne to receive the sentence of the second death, the lake of fire.

In verse 13 the sea, and death, and Hades are all said to give up the dead in them so they can be among the dead standing before the throne at the judgement. (Incidentally, the nature of this "death" can be seen in the fact that these "dead" can "stand" before the throne.) This would seem to symbolize the fact that no dead soul can escape the judgement. The three words, sea, death, Hades, may be three ways of indicating the same thing: the dwelling place of dead souls until the judgement. The Greek word "Hades" simply means the unseen place where souls go after they depart the bodies of people whose bodies have died. The word "death" may have reference to the graves in the dust of the earth where dead bodies lie until the resurrection to judgement.

The lake of fire symbolizes a state that is not annihilation. Many people do not want to believe in such a place or state of being. But two facts indicate that there must be such a state. First, there must be such a state because people are imperishable. Their spiritual parts, soul and spirit, do not even experience the temporary decay of the grave as does the body. And people's bodies will be resurrected to become spiritual bodies. A place of punishment for imperishable spiritual beings is not an annihilation,. but a continuing, eternal punishment like the lake of fire. Second, there must be such a state because God has made it clear that He cannot accommodate to evil. Therefore, evil people must be eternally separated from God.

We must remember that people do not have to go to"hell," the lake of fire. Jesus suffered the agonies of the cross so that people could be saved from that evil place. The existence of the lake of fire, that is, the existence of the terrible place that the lake of fire symbolizes, does not deny the love and goodness of God.

Finally, as we get to the end of chapter 20, we notice that people must have their names inscribed in the"book of life" if they are to be saved. From the foundation of the world God has intended that everyone's name be in the "Book of Life." But everyone sinned and their names could not be written there without their being forgiven of their sins. Jesus promised that all sinners who confess Him will themselves be confessed by Jesus in heaven "before God and the angels." (Matt. 10:32). People have their names written in the Book of Life during their sojourn as Christians upon the earth. (Phil. 4:3). And the Christian's name will be written there eternally except in the case of his apostasy, in which event his name will be "blotted out," or "erased," according to Rev. 3:5.

The visions of chapter 20 seem to have set in context the theme of the Book of Revelation. That theme is the assurance to Christians that Christ and His church shall be victorious over Satan and his followers. The visions have carried the message that terrible things must take place during the Christian's life on earth. Christians may suffer superficial hurts during this time but Jesus says, "He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death." (Rev. 2:11).

To the Christian, this period of life is to last symbolically but a mere 1,260 days, 3 and years, a short time. But during that time God's people are raised to a new spiritual life and begin a reign with Christ that will last a symbolic 1,000 years, a very long time.

Now as we go into chapter 21, the vision involves "those who overcome," those with whom God dwells after the judgement.

E. Chapter 21, Verses 1-8, Vision of the Holy City, New Jerusalem, Where God Dwells Among Men.

"(1) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. (2) And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, (4) and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.' (5) And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.' (6) And He said to me, 'It is done, I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. (7) 'He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (8) 'But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'" NASV.

In verse 1 John saw "a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away." In the last chapter (20:11) when Christ appeared on His great white throne of judgement, the "earth and heaven fled away" from His presence. There seems to be something in or of the first heaven and the first earth that cannot come into the presence of God and Christ. Obviously, nothing evil can come into the presence of God and live. Perhaps it is that nothing made by man's hands or man's initiative can come into the presence of God.

Note in verse 2 that John saw "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God." The home with God which Christians inherit, and which is described in chapters 21 and 22, emanates entirely from God. It is God's creation and nothing made by man can enter into it, not even evil man himself until he is created anew by God. Paul said, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." (2nd Cor. 5:17). So for God's newly created spiritual people John saw "a new heaven and a new earth." Everything that had to do with the first earth and its environs is passed away. Verses 4 and 5 say, "the first things have passed away ... Behold, I am making all things new."

The life of Christians on earth is a time when they are to be disciples, learners, and are to grow closer and closer to God so that, when they come near to the great inheritance described here in Revelation 21 and 22, there will be less and less to change in the attitudes of their souls when departing the earth. Even while Christians live in the first heaven and the first earth, when Christians yield themselves to Christ and die to the world in baptism, God makes them new people with new lives much closer to the life they will have in the new heaven and the new earth. Christians should strive to embrace more and more of God's creation instead of more and more of their own human creation.

Insofar that Christians reject the principle that all things be made new by God, just that far Christians accept Satan's lie and become a part of Satan's false prophet.

In verse 6 God says, "They are come to pass." That is, God's making of all things new will have already come to pass when the "first heaven and the first earth" are passed away and when "the new Jerusalem" comes down out of heaven from God. In the sense of prophecy that is certain to happen. It is spoken of as if it had already happened.

You will remember in chapters 2 and 3 God gave many promises to those who overcome. Now in this chapter, verse 7, are additional promises to "he who overcomes." "He shall inherit these things", that is, he shall inherit all these new things in the new Jerusalem and the new life with God that goes with them. God says of the individual Christian, "I will be his God and he will be My son." It is significant that God Himself is speaking in verses 6 and 7, for these are promises that only God can fulfill.

In verse 8 God Himself is also the speaker. All of the categories of people in this verse are evil. The "cowardly" are called the "fearful" in another translation. It is not natural fear or timidity that is meant here, but a cowardly fear that in the last resort chooses personal safety instead of Christ. Also among the evil characteristics is listed the "unbelieving." James Burton Coffman says that unbelief is never a consequence of knowledge, education, intelligence, or honesty. It is just not true that people become too knowledgeable to believe in Christ. They willfully reject Christ in spite of true knowledge. Jesus said, "He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and man loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light." (John 3:18-21). To not believe is, therefore, utterly sinful, and unbelievers at the judgement will be cast into the lake of fire.

I will not comment on all the evil characteristics in the list of verse 8, but notice that "immoral persons" or "fornicators' are included in the list. of those who will be cast into the lake of fire. Yet many people in today's American culture seem to think it is not wrong to engage in fornication (sex acts outside of marriage). In spite of movies and TV soap operas, the fact is that fornication is a sin. God is the speaker in this verse and He says that fornicators will be subject to the "second death" if they do not repent during this life. The term "fornicator"is also applied in the Bible to acts in the spiritual realm. It is spiritual fornication to be joined to religious bodies which follow the harlot or the false prophet. Christians should keep themselves pure as part of the bride of Christ.

F. Chapter 21, Verses 9-15, Vision of the Holy City Coming Down Out of Heaven From God.

"(9) And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me, saying, 'Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' (10) And he carried me away in the spirit in a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, (11) having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. (12) It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. (13) There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. (14) And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (15) And the one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gate and its wall." NASV

Verse 9 speaks of one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues. This angel says, "Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." In chapter 17 verse 1, "one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls" showed John the great harlot. It appears that the same angel who came out to show John the harlot now comes out to show John the true bride of Christ. The bride is, of course, the church which belongs to Christ. This vision portrays a time after the final judgement. Thus Christians who make up the bride of Christ are full spiritual beings, and the bride of Christ is a symbol of the spiritual church.

In verse 10 the angel carried John away "in the spirit" indicating that these are things in the spiritual realm which John sees in this vision. The "holy city, Jerusalem" is another symbol of the spiritual church just as the "bride" is a symbol of the spiritual church. Again John sees it coming down out of heaven from God as he saw it before in verse 2. But this does not signify that it came down two times. This a recounting of the same thing but with a more detailed description the second time.

In verse 11 the church is said to appear as "a jasper stone, clear as crystal." Back in chapter 4, verse 3l, the Lord Himself sitting upon His throne appeared as a jasper stone. Thus, it seems that the redeemed church will have the same appearance as the Lord Himself. Verse 11 portrays the symbolic holy city, the redeemed church, as "having the glory of God."

In verse 12 the symbolic city of the vision has a wall and gates. Walls and gates were generally for security. In addition the twelve gates of the city were guarded by twelve angels. However, walls, gates, and guards were only important to the church during the Christian dispensation when the enemies of the church were rampant. So most likely, the gates are visible on the walls of the new Jerusalem only to show that after the judgement they will always be open. Later in verse 25 the gates are said to always be open. The names of the twelve tribes of Israel on the gates show the continuity of the family of God from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, and uses the Old Covenant family of God as a part of the symbol.

In verse 14 the twelve foundation stones of the city are said to have on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Although the symbolic city represents God's people of all ages, the foundations of the city are especially related to the apostles of Christ. The apostles, of course, are related to Christ Himself for they represented Him after He departed the earth. The point may be that Christ Himself is the foundation of all God's people even from the beginning of time and the apostles are simply honored by having their names on Him.

In verse 15 the angel had a "golden measuring rod", or a "golden reed", to measure the city. Back in a vision of chapter 11 John was given an ordinary reed or measuring rod to measure the church on earth in order to preserve the church from destruction and to keep it pure. The practical, ordinary rod to measure the church was the word of God printed on paper in the fleshly language of people. But now in chapter 21 it is a "golden measuring rod" for the redeemed church and it is only to illustrate that it is the same measured city but now made new and redeemed. It is not used to measure anymore but it illustrates that the city measures up in every respect. The bible printed on paper is no longer needed as a measuring rod for the inhabitants are changed from fleshly beings to spiritual beings and they have God and His Son, the Word, with them at all times. The "golden measuring rod"{ is suitable now to show that the inhabitants of the city belong to God..

G. Chapter 21, Verses 16-17, The Dimensions of the Holy City.

"(16) And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles, its length and width and height are equal. (17) And he measured its wall, seventy two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements." NASV.

In verse 16 many translations of the Book of Revelation speak of the measurement in terms of furlongs. Twelve thousand furlongs is roughly equivalent to fifteen hundred miles. This is the length, the width, and the height. This is a perfect cube with perfect symmetry and completeness and in our eyes it is shown to be very, very large, stretching far out of sight in all directions should we be able to view it with our fleshly eyes.

In verse 17 the measurement of the wall is only 72 yards, or 144 cubits. It doesn't say whether this is the width of the wall or the height. The wall measurement, 144 cubits, is very small compared with the city making it more reasonable to believe that 144 cubits was the width of the wall. There is some evidence later on to indicate that the wall was as high as the city. Incidentally, the wall does not have to keep anybody out of the redeemed city for the enemies of God have all been thrown into the lake of fire.

This city is a most unusual symbol. It covers an area 12,000 furlongs, or 1,500 miles, square. This is bigger than the European, or the Australian, continent and, naturally, someone compared it with the state of Texas. It is 8.4 times larger than Texas. But it is 1,500 miles high also. If it were divided up into levels or floors 1/10 of a mile apart, the city would have 15,000 levels and its floor space would be greater than the total land area of the earth's surface. It seems that the Lord wants this symbolic city to appear in our mind's eye as big.

H. Chapter 21, Verses 18-21, Vision of the Precious Materials of Which the Holy City is Composed.

"(18) And the material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold. like clear glass. (19) The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; (20) the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. (21) And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." NASV.

In verse 18 the wall is said to be of jasper. But back in verse 11 it was said that the whole city had an appearance as of crystal clear jasper. This makes us surmise that the small measurement of the wall, 144 cubits, referred to the width of the wall, not the height. In order to make the entire city appear as jasper the wall must have been 1,500 miles high, the same height as the city itself. That would give the whole city the appearance of jasper. However, the city behind the wall was of pure gold, transparent like glass. The description of the city suggests that the material terms in which it is presented are symbolic o0f something more precious than anyone might ever imagine.

In verses 19 and 20 twelve precious stones are named which were seen in the foundations of the city. I don't know what they mean unless it just indicates the eternal beauty and great value of the church of the living God. It has been pointed out even by a writer of an early century AD that the twelve stones mentioned are the same stones associated with astrology and the signs of the zodiac. In astrology the twelve stones are always placed in a certain order in which the rising sun passes through the constellations of the zodiac. But John refers to these precious stones in exactly the reverse order in which they are used in astrology. Astrology has been around since before the time of Christ. James Burton Coffman suggests that Revelation is pointing out that God reverses human judgement. In other words, the conclusion is that astrology is man-made and false, or there is no truth in it.

In verse 21, although there are twelve gates, each one is the same as the other, a pearl. James Burton Coffman points out that all who enter the church must meet the same requirements and enter by a gate of pearl. The pearl then illustrates a characteristic of the church as it exists now on earth.

The street of the city, like the rest of the city, is of purer gold, also transparent like glass. In this symbolic city of such tremendous size, "the street of the city" is mentioned as though there is but one street. I don't know what meaning or symbolism this might have.

I. Chapter 21, Verses 22-27, The Glory of God Illumines the Holy City, and Its Lamp is the Lamb.

"(22) And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. (23) And the city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. (24) And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it. (25) And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed, (26) and they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it; (27) and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it,. but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." NASV.

Inverse 22, the fact that there is "no temple" in the city indicates that God's people will not have a special facility to use to draw near to God. No special device will be necessary for them to communicate with God. The Lord God and the Lamb are the temple of the city, or one might say, they provide the sanctuary for all the inhabitants. The entire eternal city, made up of all God's people, will be the dwelling place of God.

James Burton Coffman reminds us that God never called for a permanent temple to be built for Him in the city of Jerusalem. That was man's idea which God allowed when He allowed the Jews to have a king and be a nation patterned after the other nations of earth. God Himself directed the building of the portable tabernacle and there is no indication in scripture that God directed the details of the building of the temple as He did the tabernacle. Jesus, in the flesh, was the only material temple that God ever had on earth. That temple, in a spiritual sense, is the spiritual body of Christ, the church. (1st Cor. 3:16). It was this spiritual temple of which God said, "I will raise up seed" after David "and he shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever." (2nd Samuel 7:12-13). Christ was that seed and the house He built was His spiritual body, the church. That house He built is now, in chapter 21, seen coming down out of heaven from God, called the new Jerusalem, the bride of Christ.

In verse 23 it is learned that God does not need to create anything like the sun or the moon to illumine the new Jerusalem. "The glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb."

In verse 24 nations and kings are mentioned with respect to the eternal city. This shows that some of the glories of the future eternal city will pertain to the church's present existence on earth. There is a reference to a temple not being needed. That pertained to God's people on earth and the earthly temple they had in the time of the Jews. Now this reference, after the judgement, to nations and kings, indicates that presently people on earth can and should like s0o as to glorify God. When they do, then that glory will be brought with them into the eternal city in the last great day. It is important that nations and kings glorify God in all they do now on earth, for when God is truly glorified, the glory lasts forever and accompanies the human vessel into heaven.

Verse 25 says that the gates of the city are never shut. Although the city has a wall, with twelve gates, and an angel guarding each gate, there is no danger, for all God's enemies have been thrown into the lake of fire. It is always daytime, a time of safety. There is no darkness or time of danger. The wall, the gates, and the guards serve remind all the inhabitants of the times of danger in the past and God's protection of them during their earthly lives. In this they will continually glorify God,

In verse 26 there is again a reference to the eternal glory of God brought into the city by God's people from the ages on earth. If there is any glorifying of God in the nations on earth today, it will last forever. It is of utmost importance that everyone of the world glorify God now as they live in the flesh.

In verse 27 those who practice abominations and lying are contrasted with those of verse 26 who bring glory and honor to God. The mention of these evil people does not mean that there will be such people remaining after the judgement. But it is a warning to people of our age on earth before the judgement not to practice abominations and lying for then they shall never enter into the eternal city. Live for God and take glory and honor for Him into the eternal city with you. Live in an unclean way and you shall never enter the eternal city at all.

As our study enters the 22nd and last chapter of the Revelation, note that the vision of the first five verses are directly continuous with the vision of chapter 21. The first 5 verses of chapter 22 might have been included with chapter 21, by those who divided the Bible into chapters and verses.

J. Chapter 22, Verses 1-5, The Vision of the River of Life and the Tree of Life.

"(1) And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and from the Lamb, (2) in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; (4) and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. (5) And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever." NASV.

The "river of the water of life" in verse 1 is a figure of speech similar to the one used by Jesus Himself in His conversation with the woman of Samaria at the well, when He told her, "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (John 4:10-14). Jesus said at another time, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scriptures said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" John went on to say, "This He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed on Him were to receive." (John 7:37-39). In other words, the symbol of living, flowing water represented the flow of eternal life from the Holy Spirit whom believers were to receive.

Now is seen in this vision a "river of the water of life" in the new Jerusalem. The reality of the symbol is in the spiritual realm. Jesus Himself placed it there when He spoke of the Holy Spirit being the source of the "flow", and the "innermost being" of a Christian (or the personal spirit of a Christian) as the place within a Christian where the "flow" is received and distributed to the whole Christian. If Christians can understand to some degree in this life, the "rivers of living water" flowing from the Holy Spirit within them to give eternal spiritual life, and the spiritual entity the church, the assembly of such spiritual Christians on earth, then to9 that degree perhaps, Christians can understand the changed eternal existence in the new Jerusalem when the Lord comes again to take them there where He is. The "river of the water of life" there flows directly to the inhabitants from the throne of God and the Lamb, for the inhabitants are there before the throne. The water of life does not have to be dispensed any longer by God's Spirit to people on earth. However, let Christians praise and thank God that His "living water" flows to us even as we live on earth, from His Holy Spirit into our "innermost being", and from thence into our entire being, to allow us to sample the joys of the new Jerusalem even while we still live on earth.

All this leads to the understanding that the new Jerusalem, described as a place, is really Christians themselves, the church of Christ made perfect, in the presence of God and Christ, and with God and Christ dwelling in the midst of all of them, as well as in each of them.

In verse 2 the "middle" or "midst" of the street is mentioned. In my NASV translation the first sentence is constructed to indicate that the "river" flows down the middle of the street, and that the throne of God and the Lamb may be in the middle of the street also, since the "river" flows from the throne. Then verse 2 says that the "tree of life" is on both sides of the river. I suggest we don't try to analyze the details. The vision is presented in such terms that there need not be any question about such details. The "street", the "river", the "throne", the "tree of life" are all obviously symbols, and when the symbols change, the picture changes. The ":tree of life" is surely a symbol to represent the same thing as the symbolic "river of life".

The words of verse 2 follow very closely the description given in Ezekiel 47:12 of a river w9ith all kinds of trees on each side such that some kind of fruit might be picked during every month of the year. This actual river in Ezekiel was to serve as a boundary among the inherited lands divided to the twelve tribes of Israel in Old Testament days. Now in Revelation 22 the vision is of symbols representing spiritual Israel's spiritual inheritance. Those who have access to the "river of life" and the "tree of life" will enjoy all the rights, blessings, and privileges of eternal life.

Note also the account in Genesis of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were deprived of their access in the garden to the "tree of life". Now, in the new Jerusalem of Revelation, the people of God will again have access to the "tree of life".

The "twelve manner of fruit" yielded "every month" seems to indicate that this spiritual food is always available to the people of God. It is never out of season, just as there was always literal fruit available to Israel twelve months of the year in the land divided among the tribes in the book of Ezekiel.

The "leaves of the tree" which "were for the healing of the nations" indicated that the "leaves" had been dispensed during the Christian age on earth, not that they were to be dispensed in heaven after the judgement. There is very likely a reference here to the fact that the gospel had been preached to these people while they were on earth. They accepted the "leaves", the gospel, and now in this vision of heaven they dwell in the very presence of "the tree" itself. If the nations of people on earth today could just realize that the gospel of Christ is in reality the "leaves of the tree of life", it would indeed cause a "healing of the nations."

In verse 3 "the curse" is an allusion to the curse p-ronounce4d upon the ground of the earth because of the sin of Adam (Genesis 3:17). Mankind has had to live ever since on that cursed ground during all the life on earth. Mankind has been freed from that curse only in his soul and spirit and that only through his faith in God as his Savior. Physical death of the body is still part of that curse. Death of the body happens to all, the saved and the unsaved on earth. But the spiritual parts, the soul and the spirit, of Christians, through Christ, have escaped the bitterest consequence of the curse. In the new Jerusalem, there shall no longer be any curse, physical or spiritual, but all shall serve God and the Lamb before the throne.

The Father and the Son are One. There is but one throne, then, the church has been delivered by the Son to the Father and now, in the vision, the church is gathered around the throne occupied by both the Father and the Son.

Christians are pictured here in heaven as "bond-servants" serving God. There is no time of idleness indicated for Christians, either in this life on earth or in the hereafter. During their lives on earth, Christians are called upon to offer themselves as bond-servants to Christ to be used to teach all nations. Christians are called upon to subject their personal soul's desires to Christ and to yield their bodies to carry out the individual actions Christ might lead them to do. Then, at death of the body, souls of Christians, being alive eternally, "reign" with Christ in a suitable place or state until the final judgement. The "reign" would seem to indicate some kind of service. Then, after the judgement, in the new Jerusalem, Christians still "serve Him."

There is a spiritual "rest" for Christians likened to the seventh day of rest of God after the creation (Hebrews 4:1-6), but even in the Christian's Sabbath rest there seems to be some service to God involved. In Rev. 6:11 the souls of Christians beneath the altar were told to "rest for a little while longer." There are several passages which indicate that Christians receive "rest" after their earthly lives are over. But it would seem not to be a rest of idleness. Spiritually, Christians "reign" with Christ for a symbolic thousand years (Rev. 20:4), and in heaven they serve God eternally.

Verse 4 says, "they shall see His face." This is a privilege mankind has never had on earth. Until Christ comes and changes the bodies of His brethren to incorruptible bodies, Christians cannot see the face of God. Nothing corruptible can enter into His presence. But when Christians are changed to be incorruptible, they shall not only be in His presence, they shall "see His face."

The name of God on the foreheads of Christians in heaven must indicate that they will bear a spiritual likeness to God. The full meaning of being created "in the image of God" may become more fully understood. The worshipers of the beast in chapter Rev. 13:16-17 had the mark of the beast on their foreheads, thus bearing the moral and spiritual image of their master, the beast. God's children, entering heaven, shall bear the spiritual and moral likeness of God and of the Lamb.

Verse 5 says "there shall no longer be any night." This refers to the dread and fear of darkness that has dogged the steps of humanity during all the ages on earth. It is right that all people, even Christians, should fear the night of darkness on earth for it is a symbol of a dreadful spiritual reality, the reality of Satan and his demons being confined here in the same realm in which mankind dwells. Satan's lie is powerfully enticing and the danger of spiritual death lies in that night of darkness. But in heaven the danger is removed. There is no night. The light of lamp or sun, perhaps symbolizing the light of God's word on earth during the night of darkness, is not needed because God Himself illumines them, and danger once posed by Satan is completely eliminated.

Since all spiritual danger is removed in the new Jerusalem where the gates stand open all the time, the inhabitants do have a spiritual rest. But even during this rest, they "reign forever and ever": says verse 5.

K. Chapter 22, Verses 6-7, The Lord Reaffirms the Truthfulness of the Things Shown in the Visions and Promises to Come Quickly.

"(6) And He said to me, 'These words are faithful and true;" ans the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place. (7) "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.'" NASV.

In verse 6 the statement "These words are faithful and true" is an affirmation of divine authority for this "Revelation of Jesus Christ," through an angel, to John. Just as God's Holy Spirit gave His message through the personal spirits of the prophets of the Old Testament, so the spirits of John and other of God's Christian prophets served to receive God's message also. Prophets of the New Testament do not speak their own minds but the mind of God, and John is one of God's prophets bringing the world this Revelation. God's "angel" in verse 6 is surely whatever angel acted at the time in bringing the visions to John. The angels spoke for God. These angels are God's spiritual beings and, it is assumed their communication was with and through John's personal spirit. John was said to be carried away "in the spirit" to see the holy city, new Jerusalem. This would seem to bear out the thought here in verse 6 that God communicated with His prophets through their personal spirits which were subjected to God by the prophets.

"The things which must shortly take place," mentioned in verse 6, must mean the things which will begin to be performed immediately upon the receiving of the Revelation by John. It does not mean that John expected all the things in the Revelation to appear immediately or even within a few years after he wrote it. The Christian dispensation is spoken of as a thousand years in chapter 20, which shows that the Revelation takes a long view of the dispensation. Yet many things described in the Revelation, such as the "breaking of the seals," the "sounding of the trumpets," and the "pouring out of the bowls of wrath" were actually beginning to happen at the time John wrote.

In verse 7 it is Christ who said, "Behold, I come quickly." It does not necessarily mean "I come soon." It can also mean "I come suddenly." There are probably some of both meanings here.

In judgement Christ comes both soon and suddenly. Revelation teaches that the Lord's coming with respect to any individual will be soon, that is, not far away in time. Remember that Hebrews 9:27 says, "It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgement." Physical death for the body of each person will come soon. Then, one's position in judgement is fixed. One's position in judgement is determined by decisions and actions taken in this life before one dies a physical death. After physical death there is no more time given to an individual during which God will await longer one's repentance. (1st Peter 3:20). When people die their eternal souls either go to rest and await the coming of Christ in "Abraham's bosom", or go to suffer the "flame" of the unseen place. (Luke 16:19-31). After physical death people are removed from the time scale of God's patience and of God's use for them on earth. After physical death people have shed their time limited bodies and them live in their spiritual soul and spirit unlimited by time. When the Lord says, "I am coming quickly," He is speaking in terms of time given to people's life on earth, and in that sense, all of God's purposes are executed quickly in the sense of soon.

And certainly the scriptures teach that Christ will come suddenly. "The day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction shall come upon them suddenly." (1st Thess. 5:2-3).When the Lord comes again in that last great day to raise the dead and to bring destruction on many, His coming will appear quickly, that is suddenly, without delay., with an element of surprise for many. So the Lord's coming will be both suddenly and soon.

Verse 7 gives us the beatitude, "Blessed is he who heeds (or keeps) the words of the prophecy of this book." It follows most logically that, since the Lord is coming quickly, that is, effectively for each person within his life span, he should heed the prophecy of this book and be grateful for it.

L. Chapter 22, Verses 8-9, John Admonished Not to Worship Angels But Worship God.

"(8) And I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. (9) And he said to me, 'Do not do that; I am a fellow-servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship God.'" NASV.

In verse 8 John falls down at the feet of the angel. One is tempted to question the fact that again John falls down at the feet of an angel to worship. Because back in chapter 19, verse 10, John was said to have fallen down at the feet of an angel to worship the angel. Didn't John learn during that vision not to do that? Giving John all the benefit of doubt, and reading the two accounts very carefully, we see that the two occasions are not the same. In chapter 19 the Revelation says John fell down to worship him, that is, to worship the angel. The angel, of course, told John not to do that. In chapter 22 here the Revelation just says John fell down at the feet of the angel to worship. It doesn't say John was going to worship the angel. In view of the fact that John had already been cautioned not to worship the angel, I think we might conclude that this time John was going to worship God. Perhaps he thought he should worship God by falling down at the feet of the angel.

James Burton Coffman is good at drawing lessons from passages like these. He points out that falling down at the feet of an angel is wrong, even if, in so doing, one intends to worship only God. It is likewise sinful to bow down before a man, or before an image in order to worship God. Most people who bow before images, or pictures, or other people, say that they are really trying to worship God, and that they really are not worshiping the idol before which they bow. This occasion with Jo9hn makes it clear that one should not bow down before anything when worshiping God, for it makes it appear that one is worshiping that thing.

M. Chapter 22, Verses 10-15, Final Warning to Readers of the Revelation.

"(10) And he said to me, 'Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. (11) 'Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.' (12) 'Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. (13) 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. the beginning and the end.' (14) Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. (15) Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying." NASV.

In verse 10 the angel told John to "seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time is near." This meant that times prophesied in the Revelation were starting already and the lessons and comforting aspects of the book of Revelation were immediately needed by the Christians of the world. The savage sea beast was about to turn upon the Christians of John's time and torture them in cruel arenas. The Christians needed courage to face persecutions, and the Revelation needed to be circulated to them to inform them that the final victory would be theirs. In the same sense the words of the Revelation are needed today for the time is also at hand now. The words of Revelation are not sealed up but are available to bless Christians this very day.

In verse 11 the angel said, "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong." And he said, "Let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness." The angel was not instructing some men to do wrong and some to do right. He was simply recognizing that this is now the end of God's Revelation. No more of God's word is to be revealed. Sufficient truth has now been revealed to cause all men who will, to turn to God. If people do not turn to God on the basis of God's word now already given, they will not turn to God at all. Jesus Himself said that one rising from the dead would not be more convincing than the scriptures. (Luke 16:31).

But verse 11 is primarily a call to any reader to put his life in order while there is still opportunity for a change. Perhaps there is a warning here, as well, that as one continues in wrong doing without yielding to the call to repentance, he becomes more and more hardened in heart.

In verse 12 Christ Himself speaks. "Behold, I am coming quickly." And in this soon and sudden coming,. The Lord's reward is also soon and sudden. "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:23).

In verse 13 Christ again affirms that He is complete, eternal, and has all authority. He is first and last just as Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He is the beginning and the end of all things.

Verse 14 is another beatitude of the Revelation, a promise of blessing by the Lord. There is an action here for the Christian to take during life. He is to symbolically "wash his robe." His "robe", which identifies him as belonging to Christ, is given to him free of charge. Bur he must figuratively "launder it." He must live so that he is continuously cleansed by the "blood of the Lamb."

In verse 15 the evil people who are "without" the Holy City are mentioned. They are not in the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, the church of Christ. Where are they? They are "without" the city. Where is that? There is but one place "without" the holy city. It is the "lake of fire." Everyone alive on earth today should take note. If you do not repent, there will come a time when the only place for you will be "without" the city.

N. Chapter 22, Verses 16-19, Final Testimony and Invitation.

"(16) 'I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.' (17) And 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 wi9shes take the water of life without cost. (18) I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book; if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; (19) and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy,. God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book." NASV.

Verse 16 reads like a legal document. "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches." Now, by two witnesses, God the Father and God the Son, the authenticity of the Revelation is attested. In verse 6 God approved the document. In verse 16 Christ approved it. "These things for the churches" refer us to the seven churches of Asia who were to be the recipients of the book as mentioned in the very beginning. The whole book of Revelation was meant for the seven churches of Asia, who in turn, are figurative of all God's congregations everywhere throughout the Christian age.

Then Jesus further identified Himself to give full weight to Hi9s testimony. He said, "I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star." This ties the end of the Revelation with the very first of the New Testament (Matthew 1:1) where Jesus is spoken of as the Son of David. The "bright morning star" recalls the star that led the wise men to the manger on Bethlehem (Matthew 2:10) and identifies the Christ of the Revelation with the Son of Man born in Bethlehem.

Christ is spoken of as a "root" in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. (Isaiah 11:10; 53:2; Rom. 15:12). He is also spoken of as a "star" in both testaments. (Numbers 24:17; Matt. 2:2; 2nd Peter 1:19). But only in verse 16 here is He spoken of in one breath as both a "root" and a "star."

In verse 17 there is a multiple invitation. The Holy Spirit and the Bride of Christ, the church, say "Come." One of these invitations is to Christ and His second coming. And one is to people if they wish to be saved. It implies that unless people "come", they shall be lost. God and Christ have already done all they can do to save people. It is, however, possible for people to "come" to Christ for salvation. "Let the one who is thirsty come." It is the human will that must reply to the invitation of the Spirit and the Bride.

In verses 18 and 19 there is a prohibition against either adding to or taking from the word of God. Although John utters these words in the context of this writing, the Revelation, they are the words of Jesus rather than just the words of John. The point is, the weight of the Godhead is behind this warning.

James Burton Coffman points out that John wrote the Revelation with knowledge that it was to be the final part of the New Testament of books. Notice that two different phrases are used: In verse 18 the phrase the "prophecy of this book" means the book of Revelation. In verse 19 the phrase the "book of this prophecy" probably means the entire New Testament. The prohibition against adding or taking away applies to both the book of Revelation and the entire New Testament. An identical warning is found in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy.4:2 and 12:32.

O. Chapter 22, Verses 20-21, The Grace of the Lord Jesus Promised.

"(20) He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (21) The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.'" NASV.

In verse 20, "He who testifies to these things" is Christ, and He now says, "I am coming quickly." The final words, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" must be those of John. Scholars of early Christian history say that the early church often used these words as they prepared to eat the Lord's Supper. "The Spirit and the Bride say, come." That is, "Come Lord, and be with us as we eat the Lord's Supper; and come, Lord, quickly in your final triumph and judgement.

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