Rev. 22:6 begins John’s addendum to close out the book, bringing us back to the present (from John’s perspective):
6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and 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.
It is not fully clear who is speaking to John. The NASB assumed that it is an angel who says, “These words are faithful and true,” and hence, it does not capitalize the word he at the beginning of the verse above. However, as we read earlier (Rev. 21:5), the same words were spoken by “He who sits on the throne.” Either the angel was bearing witness to the One sitting on the throne, or Christ was repeating Himself.
The NASB also ends the quotation after the word true, whereas it seems more natural to me that the quotation continues through the verse and also through the next verse. Christ spoke that entire passage. This is how the KJV renders it. The Emphatic Diaglott reads:
6 … “These words are faithful and true; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show 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.”
By extending the quotation, the statement, “I am coming quickly,” identifies the Speaker here as Jesus Christ. The “Red Letter” versions put this and the rest of the verse in red, but not the earlier words. It seems to me that the entire passage above ought to be in red letters. Yet this view is not crucial, because whether the words were spoken by an angel or by Jesus Christ, “these words are faithful and true.”
The angel mentioned in verse 6, who was “sent…to show His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place,” seems to be the angel who came forth earlier in Rev. 21:9. This was the Angel of the Approaching Fullness of God, who stepped forward to reveal the final revelations of the bride, the New Jerusalem, the tree of life, and the river flowing out of the city which reverse the curse and bring life to all. All of this revelation fits the name of the angel perfectly, for through him the truth of the Restoration of All Things is presented.
John Tries to Worship the Angel
Revelation 22:8, 9 says,
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.”
This was the second time that John was so overwhelmed that he fell down at the feet of an angel. The first time was in Rev. 19:10, after hearing the angel say, “These are the true words of God.” That particular statement carried great power, along with the later statement: “These words are faithful and true” that were spoken in Rev. 21:5 and 22:6. Full revelation truth, when comprehended, is overwhelming.
Most people, however, are not so overwhelmed when they hear these words. This is because when such truth is spoken, it is usually veiled by Old Covenant mindsets, which hide the light and glory from most of mankind (2 Cor. 3:13-17). To them, truth has little impact.
The angel identifies himself as a man “of your brethren the prophets” and also a brother “of those who heed the words of this book.” An angel is a messenger and can be either a man or a spiritual being. A messenger of God is often both a man and a spiritual being (angel). This is because everyone is assigned at least one angel in whom is the word of God, that is, a measure of the word.
When all are restored to the purpose for which they were created, they and their angels will become one, and each person will be a manifestation of the word which they have become by their unity with their angel. The spiritual messenger thus operates through the earthly messenger as the medium between heaven and earth. Such earthly messengers are, in effect, the first fruits of the great marriage between heaven and earth, the beginning of the two becoming “one flesh.”
Such men may be thought of as Jesus’ fellow Memra, the Hebrew equivalent of the Logos. No individual is a Memra in the full sense in which Christ is the living Word (total Word), but in the limited sense in which one becomes the manifestation of his or her own portion of the Word. Each one’s portion is defined and limited by the word that is in his or her angel(s).
So in the message to the seven churches, it is written, “to the angel of the church in Ephesus” (Rev. 2:1); or “to the angel of the church in Smyrna” (Rev. 2:8). The message was given to the sheliach tzibbor, the Hebrew name for the overseer of each church. The word of the Lord was written down by John and conveyed to each church overseer in order to give it to the people in the church. The overseer, who (presumably) had absorbed his angel and was thus able to hear the word of the Lord, was called an angel.
But who was this “angel” that gave the message to John on Patmos? We do not know if a prophet came to visit John on Patmos, or if the man was there already. If he was already there, it is likely that it was Prochorus, the disciple who, according to early church writings, gave up his freedom to accompany John and minister to him during his exile on the rugged island. Prochorus was one of the original deacons in Acts 6:5. Prochorus was to John what Joshua was to Moses.
Yet John does not seem to know this “prophet,” so it is probably not Prochorus. The man/angel appears to be a glorified man, either from the past or from the future, who has fully absorbed his angel/word, thereby making him the Angel of the Approaching Fullness of God.
Do Not Seal the Book
Letters were sent by messengers in those days and were sealed with wax and imprinted with a crest or signature from a signet ring. Such seals were to prevent people from reading the contents of the letter during the journey. When Daniel was given his revelation, God told him to “seal up the book until the end of time” (Dan. 12:4), when the journey of time was completed.
But John’s book was to remain unsealed, because Christ had come, who was worthy (authorized) to open the book (Rev. 5:5). When the book was opened, the immediate revelation was about the restoration of all things, the final end and fulfillment of God’s New Covenant vow, mediated by Jesus Christ.
This restoration was revealed throughout the Old Testament, including the law of Moses and in the prophets (especially Isaiah); however, it was not clearly understood until Jesus came and the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost.
Rev. 22:10 says,
10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”
We see that while John was on Patmos in the late first century, he was not to seal the book, “for the time is near.” Indeed, most of the early church had an understanding of the restoration of all things and the salvation of all mankind, at least for the first four centuries. After that, this “faithful and true” word began to be suppressed in the year 400, as I explained in my booklet, A Short History of Universal Reconciliation.
Because of this suppression and its replacement with the doctrine of eternal torment, championed by Augustine (354-430 A.D.), the church itself attempted to seal up the book, preventing the people from knowing the truly “good news” (gospel) of the New Covenant. For this and other reasons, Revelation has remained a sealed book to most Christians throughout the past. But from God’s point of view, it was never meant to be a sealed book.
Filthy and Clean Garments
The angel says in Rev. 22:11,
11 Let the one who does wrong still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy [rhuparos], still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.
The word picture behind being “filthy” is about being clothed in filthy garments. It is the same term used in the Septuagint (Greek) version of Zech. 3:4, which speaks of Joshua the high priest:
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 And he spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy [rhuparos] garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”
This shows the difference between the two garments that we wear. Paul tells us that the present garment of mortality is what we received through Adam, while the second is the garment of immortality that is currently being reserved for us in heaven (2 Cor. 5:1-4). Obviously, the “filthy garments” represent the natural (soulish) body, which, since Adam’s sin, is full of “iniquity.” So Joshua’s garments were replaced, and his iniquity was taken away.
When John heard these words in Rev. 22:11, he was speaking to the angel in his present time, when mankind was yet clothed in their filthy garments. Of course, in the legal sense, believers are imputed righteous, and so even though their heavenly garment is still reserved for them in the heavens, they are treated as if their filthy garments have been replaced by the robes of righteousness. They enjoy a positional righteousness through the feast of Passover, so that they need not be filled with guilt and fear over their iniquity, but rather can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb. 4:16).
In effect, John was told that prior to the final restoration of all things, life on earth would continue, and many would remain filthy, while some would be classed as “righteous” and “holy.”
This was a word that implied the need for patience. Even though Jesus said, “I am coming quickly,” His “quickly” is from a timeless perspective and ought not to be interpreted according to our short life spans. And so more than 1900 years have passed since John heard the words of this revelation.
Jesus Signs the Book
In Revelation 22:12, 13 Jesus interrupts the angel and joins the conversation directly, saying,
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.”
This is the second of three times when Jesus tells John, “I am coming quickly.” He said so earlier in verse 7 and will again say so in verse 20. Since the revelation is coming to an end, this also serves as a summation and a reminder that points back to the first chapter of the book. It is also a way of signing the book in order to identify the Author. Recall that in Rev. 1:7 we read, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds,” and the next verse says,
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Hence, “the Lord God” who spoke these words in Rev. 1:8 is the One who is “coming quickly” in Rev. 22:12. Jesus is the Coming One, and He is also “the Lord God” and “the Almighty.” Throughout the Old Testament, “the Lord God” normally translates either from the Hebrew Yahweh Elohim (Gen. 2:5) or Adonai Yahweh (Ezekiel 2:4).
Yahweh Elohim depicts the Creator and Covenanter in His relation to His creatures. Adonai Yahweh depicts the Creator as Owner (or “Lord”) of that which He has created. John 1:3 tells us that Christ the Word (the Logos, or Memra) created all things. Paul tells us in 1 Tim. 2:5 that Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant—hence, He is the Covenanter as well as the Creator. The name Yahweh Elohim is how we ought to view “the Lord God” in Rev. 1:8.
As for Adonai Yahweh, which is Ezekiel’s favorite term, God is depicted as having the right of ownership over that which He has created. The term not only establishes God’s sovereignty, but also His lawful right. By this title He claims the right to judge and to forgive at will, yet all is done in accordance with His character as the God of Love, Justice, and Mercy.
Therefore, He comes quickly with rewards in hand “to render to every man according to what he has done.” The righteous are rewarded with positions of authority and are given immortality sooner than those who are unrighteous. The unrighteous (during their life times on earth) are also rewarded, but not until they have been corrected and disciplined and have then proven themselves during the age of judgment.
The same “Lord God” in Rev. 1:8 who claimed the title, “Alpha and Omega,” is the Coming One in Rev. 22:13, Jesus Christ Himself. This title is, of course, a Greek way of expressing the Hebrew “Alef and Tav,” the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Alef is the First Cause, and the Tav is the sign or signature at the end.
Heb. 12:2 suggests also that He is “the author and perfecter of faith.” He is the Author of faith, because faith comes by hearing, and no one can hear unless God first speaks. He is the Perfecter of faith, because He develops our faith by testing it with “fire” (1 Peter 1:6, 7). The Greek word translated “Perfecter” is teleiotes, a consummator. Christ finishes what He starts, and when His work in us is done, we all come forth from the fire fully refined and perfected.
It is His right as the Creator and Owner of all to finish the work that He began at creation, and His success depends upon His ability to keep His New Covenant promise to make all mankind His people and to be their God (Deut. 29:12-15). Hence, when we come to the end of John’s revelation, we see Jesus laying claim not only to His rights, but also to His ability to complete that which He has authored.
The Blessed Ones
Revelation 22:14, 15 continues,
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.
This entire passage is written from the perspective of real time in John’s day. The prophecies of the future were completed in Revelation 20, and the description of the New Jerusalem (the goal of history) ended in Rev. 22:5. The final section (addendum) of the book returns to real time as John perceived it.
Hence, John tells his readers that some are “blessed” and “may enter by the gates into the city,” while others are restricted by the walls and gates of the city. Believers even now (says John) have access to the New Jerusalem, because they have washed their robes. For some reason, the KJV says incorrectly: “Blessed are they that do His commandments.” The Greek texts read, “who wash their robes,” and Panin’s Numeric New Testament confirms these Greek texts.
When God gave the Old Covenant to Israel, the people were first instructed to “wash their garments” (Exodus 19:10, 14) to prepare themselves to receive that covenant. The same requirement is found in receiving the New Covenant, except that the garments to be washed are no longer physical, but spiritual.
Washing garments was a requirement for cleansing, when a man touched an unclean animal (Lev. 11:25) or when a leper was being cleansed after his healing (Lev. 14:8). When priests were consecrated, they too had to “wash their clothes, and they shall be clean” (Num. 8:7). Though acceptable under the Old Covenant, all of these cleansing rituals did nothing to cleanse the heart. We are cleansed by the water of the word (John 15:3), which alone is sufficient to render us truly clean before God.
Such cleansing by the water of the word is a requirement to “enter by the gates into the city.” Those who are not cleansed must remain outside the city. Among them are those who despise the word (that is, the law). No doubt John recalled how those who were unclean had to stop outside the city of Jerusalem and cleanse themselves with ashes of a red heifer mixed with water before entering the city.
As John sees it, there is no such thing as a lawless believer, because all true believers actually believe the word, and the evidence of their belief (faith) is a change of behavior. True faith bears the fruit of righteousness.
Of course, as we have already shown, true believers are imputed righteous long before they are actually made righteous. The word brings continual cleansing, as we drink of the water from the river of life in our life time. Hence, the command to wash our garments has not been cast aside, but rather the form of the law has changed to suit the New Covenant. Physical water has been replaced by the water of the word.
The Root and Offspring of David
In Rev. 22:16 Jesus again interjects a statement in the conversation, saying,
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.”
Jesus might have been the revelator throughout the book, but He chose to reveal the future through various angels, culminating with a climactic revelation of the New Jerusalem through the Angel of the Approaching Fullness of God. These revelations were given to instruct the churches, not only the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, but all of the churches that would come later as well.
Jesus then identifies Himself by different terms. He is “the root and the offspring of David,” because He is the One prophesied in Isaiah 11:1, 2,
1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He is both the “root” and the “offspring” (i.e., the “shoot” or “branch”). This is another way of saying that He is the Alpha and Omega in relation to David. He was David’s son, but at the same time David called Him “lord.” Jesus questioned the Pharisees and Sadducees about this in Luke 20:41-44,
41 And He said to them, “How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to My Lord, “Sit at My right hand, 43 until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.”’ 44 David therefore calls Him ‘Lord,’ and how is He his son?”
Jesus was quoting Psalm 110:1, which, according to John Lightfoot, the Jews had commonly applied to Abraham and his submission to Melchizedek (i.e., Shem). It was believed that David wrote Psalm 110:1 with the story of Shem in mind. However, the verse also applied to David himself, who was of the Melchizedek Order (Psalm 110:4).
This was also a well-known messianic prophecy, so the question was how the messiah could be both the son of David and also his “lord.” Sons honor their fathers according to the fifth commandment, but fathers do not normally call their sons “lord.” The point is that David recognized that his descendant, the Messiah, would be greater than himself. Both would be Melchizedek priests, but Jesus would be the ultimate High Priest of that order. In fact, Jesus pre-existed all men at the beginning of creation, so He preceded David and was therefore also his “lord.”
This truth is bound up in the fact that Jesus is both “the root and the offspring of David.” By pre-existing David, He was David’s “root.” Yet when He was born in Bethlehem, He came as “the offspring of David.” For further comments on this, see chapter 15 of Dr. Luke: Healing the Breaches, Book 7.
The Bright Morning Star
In Rev. 22:16 Jesus identifies Himself also as “the bright morning star.” Peter also calls Jesus by this title. In 2 Peter 1:19 we read,
19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
No doubt Peter was speaking of the same event that Paul referred to in 2 Thess. 1:10-12,
10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed… 12 in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him…
Not only does He “come quickly” as a distinct individual, He also arises IN US in a great show of unity, so that we ourselves appear in glory. The presence of Christ will shine forth from us when the veil of flesh is lifted and we are transfigured. This is the manifestation of the sons of God. It is one of the rewards given to the overcomers, specifically to the overcomers of the church of Thyatira in Rev. 2:28.
The bright morning star was the herald of the dawn. The overcomers too are to shine forth the light of Christ during the dark night, for they too are heralds of the dawn of a new day after the beast systems have run their courses.
The Final Unveiling
Revelation 22:17 gives the final invitation,
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 wishes take the water of life without cost.
The invitation is given by three entities: the Spirit, the bride, and the one who hears. One might think that the invitation would be given to those who have ears to hear, but in this case the invitation is given BY the hearing ones TO those “thirsty” ones who have not yet heard. These are the repentant lawbreakers outside the city that are referenced in Rev. 22:15. The Spirit creates the thirst within men’s hearts, drawing them to the bride, which is the New Jerusalem. In other words, they are invited to be part of the bride-city, which is pictured as a marriage relationship with Christ.
This great invitation is a shortened version of Isaiah 55:1-3, which says,
1 Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. 3 Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.
In other words, John refers us to the invitation given by the prophet Isaiah, who invites us to “come to the waters.” John tells us that the “waters” are “the water of life” that flow “from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1). It also refers back to the “spiritual rock” (1 Cor. 10:4) in the wilderness, out of which flowed water to the people (Exodus 17:6; Num. 20:11).
Because “the rock was Christ” and it was struck, it portrayed Christ, who was to be struck down by His death on the cross in order to bring the water of life to the people. The water, then, was costly, but He paid the price so that it could be available to “you who have no money” (Isaiah 55:1). Hence also, John says the water is given “without cost” (to the invited ones).
Adding to the Word
Revelation 22:18, 19 continues,
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.
This injunction does not refer to the Bible as a whole, but to “the prophecy of this book,” that is, the book of Revelation. Even so, what is true for the book of Revelation is equally true for the entire word of God. It is an extension of the law in Deut. 19:14,
14 You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you shall inherit in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.
The word of God sets the boundaries of revelation in the Kingdom. Any personal revelation ought to support and to clarify the revelation that God has already given. This ought not to restrict personal revelation, for all are admonished in Scripture to hear His voice. But we should view the Scriptures as a boundary mark of truth, and all personal revelation should conform to the parameters of Scripture. Ultimately, the Spirit and the Word should agree as one.
In the beginning, we read in Genesis 2:16, 17,
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”
Later, when the serpent tempted Eve, he said to her in Genesis 3:1, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
Eve’s answer added to God’s injunction, for we read in Genesis 3:2, 3,
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die’.”
She added “or touch it” to God’s word, which the serpent was able to exploit. It is self-evident that she had to touch the tree before eating of its fruit. When she did, and found that nothing bad happened to her, she was easily convinced that God’s word was untrue, and this emboldened her to eat of its fruit.
This shows also how the traditions of men (adding to the word and thereby nullifying it) have turned many aside from following the genuine commands of God. Jesus thus quotes Isaiah in Matt. 15:8, 9 chiding the Pharisees and scribes for forbidding men to eat with unwashed hands (the issue in Matt. 15:2). There was no such law, and yet they criticized the disciples as if they were sinners for eating without first pouring water over their hands to cleanse them.
When men believe that their additions to the word of God are genuine truth from God, they stumble when someone disagrees or departs from those man-made precepts. When this becomes a sin to them, then they come under the natural consequences of violating the law. These natural consequences are called “plagues” in Rev. 22:18. In Deut. 28:15 they are called “curses,” that is, the curse or judgment for sin that is written in the law.
Signing the book
Revelation 22:20 says,
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.
Although the messengers (angels) were the agents by which the words of this prophecy were conveyed to John, the words were actually from “the Lord Jesus.” So He signs His name to the book at the end, and John, the notary, bears witness to His signature with his “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
The book of Revelation is given a title in the opening statement of the book in Rev. 1:1, which literally reads, “The Unveiling of Jesus Christ.” The word apokalupsis literally means to unveil, reveal, or manifest. It is about Christ’s coming, as He is unveiled slowly throughout history until the full unveiling at the end of time. By the revelation of the New Covenant, the veil is lifted from our eyes.
To a few He is unveiled very early, as men and women come to drink of the water of life in the early ages of earth history. As time passes, Christ is unveiled to more and more people. At the end of the Pentecostal Age, when the first resurrection raises all the overcomers from the dead, He begins to be unveiled to greater numbers of people, as the Kingdom of Light is established with Christ’s jurisdiction over specific portions of the earth itself. The Spirit is poured out, and much of the earth sees the light of Christ.
Then at the Great White Throne, all will see Him, as they are summoned for judgment. Yet even then, the newly-converted sinners who have bowed their knees and have sworn allegiance to Him will have only one or two veils removed from their eyes. It is as if they have entered the gate into the outer court (Passover) and have been filled with the Spirit (Pentecost). But they will have to grow to maturity during that final Age until they are set free in the great Jubilee. Only then will they be fully in the image of Christ and are qualified to see the unveiled Christ in His full glory.
The unveiling of Jesus Christ is a historical process, even as each individual sees Christ increasingly unveiled over his life time. In the end, it requires absolute perfection to see the unveiled Christ without fear and without separation.
Come, Lord Jesus.