The Concordant Version
6And he said to me, "These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, commissions His messenger to show to His slaves what must occur swiftly. 7And lo! I am coming swiftly! Happy is he who is keeping the sayings of the prophecy of this scroll."
8And I, John, am the one hearing and observing these things. And when I hear and observe, I fall to worship in front of the feet of the messenger who is showing me these things. 9And he is saying to me, "See! No! a fellow slave of yours am I, and of your brethren, the prophets and those keeping the sayings of this scroll. Worship God!" 10And he is saying to me, "You should not be sealing the sayings of the prophecy of this scroll, for the era is near. 11Let the injurer injure still; and let the filthy one be filthy still; and let the just one do righteousness still; and let the holy one be hallowed still."
12 "Lo! I am coming swiftly, and My wage is with Me, to pay each one as his work is. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Origin and the Consummation. 14Happy are those who are rinsing their robes, that it will be their license to the log of life, and they may be entering the portals into the city. 15Outside are curs, and enchanters, and paramours, and murderers, and idolaters, and everyone fabricating and fondling falsehood.
16"I, Jesus, send My messenger to testify these things to you in the ecclesias. I am the root and the race of David, the resplendent morning star. 17 And the spirit and the bride are saying, 'Come!' and let him who is hearing say, 'Come!' And let him who is thirsting come. Let him who will, take the water of life gratuitously.
18"I am testifying to everyone who is hearing the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If ever anyone may be appending to them, God shall be appending to him the calamities written in this scroll. 19And if ever anyone should be eliminating from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God shall be eliminating his part from the log of life, and out of the holy city, that is written in this scroll.
20"He Who is testifying these things is saying, 'Yea, I am coming swiftly.'"
"Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"
21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints! Amen!
COME, LORD JESUS
THE visions of the Unveiling vanish. The new earth and the holy city are no longer before us. With John we return to Patmos. The scenes which held our amazed gaze dissolve into the dim and distant future. The first word that John hears is an assurance that he has not been dreaming. There has been no illusion. "These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, commissions His messenger to show to His slaves what must occur swiftly. And lo! I am coming swiftly! Happy is he who is keeping the sayings of the prophecy of this scroll" (Rev.22:6,7).
The Unveiling is the crowning prophecy of holy Writ, though limited to God's counsels concerning the earth. It is the most richly predictive of them all. All previous prophecies were partial and fragmentary. Few discerned the distant glories of the new creation. Only dim intimations of God's purpose for the earth were divulged, because His plans demanded that men should be measurably ignorant of the future. God waited until Israel had crucified the greatest of all her prophets. He tarried until the nation as a whole had become apostate. The apostle John was kept alive and did not write until there was nothing more left for Israel but dire doom until the swift return of her Messiah. The present administration of God's grace is timeless. It could have ended when John wrote. It might have closed at any instant since that day. It may cease at any moment. Ignoring it, John wrote in the shadow of the imminent and swift fulfillment of this scroll.
The Unveiling could not be given while there was the least hope of Israel's national repentance. It was delayed until after the present economy of God's grace had been established by Paul's latest epistles. Its unfoldings might have modified Israel's course had they been made known much earlier. The Thessalonians were deluded into the idea that the period of this unveiling was already present in their day, even before John wrote. The future set before the saints ever since is imminent salvation at the presence of Christ to be followed by the destruction of those who do not love the truth (2 Thess.2:11), as recorded in this apocalypse.
There is a mistaken notion that the events of this unveiling were to take place soon after they were revealed. This is not the case. No prediction to that effect could be made. It is God's desire to keep the coming of Christ vividly and vitally before the hearts of His saints. Hence, so far as their knowledge could go, it has been imminent ever since this scroll was written. The next moment of our lives may be spent in His presence. Not death, but life, is our expectation. After we are removed out of the midst, the judgments detailed in this book will move swiftly to their close. Why emphasize their speed? Because they are God's strange work. He hastens through these horrors, for they are alien to His heart. Now that nearly two millenniums have passed since the giving of this prophecy, we can see, in the word speedily, a broad hint that the present era would be protracted, for it overflows with grace, which is in highest harmony with His heart.
Happiness is a relative reaction. It depends largely on contrasts. The assurance of future felicity helps much to soften the severities of our present plight. The faithful Israelite, for whom this scroll is primarily intended, finds in it the fulfillment of his dearest dreams. The saint of today contrasts his celestial splendors with these terrestrial glories and is happy in his higher honors.
He shudders at the judgment shocks, but is gladdened by their outcome. For all who study this stupendous unfolding of the future of the earth, there is solid and serene satisfaction.
It may not seem so at first thought, but there is a thousand times more actual joy on this earth involved in the visions of the Unveiling than in all the rest of the Scriptures put together. Without ignoring the terrible judgment eras, there still remains a far greater measure of human happiness than this earth has ever seen. The eons that precede it are all seamed with sorrow and dismal with the dread of death. Humanity's delights are all diluted with its depravities. The millennium and the many millenniums in the new creation are so much more populous, and the myriads of millions are so much more peaceful and brimming with life and good spirits, that the sum of their happiness will far exceed that of the evil eons which have gone before.
If our heart has gained but a glimpse of the glories of Christ and His terrestrial kingdom as unveiled in these visions, it will be bowed in adoration. Such was the effect on John. After hearing and observing the swiftly moving scenes in the closing acts of the drama of humanity, his heart is too full for words, and he falls down to worship (Rev.22:8-10). The messenger approves of the act, but directs it to its proper Object, God. We cannot love an unknown deity. It is Christ unveiled Who brings our hearts into a realization of God's unfailing affection for His creatures, and leads them to own and adore Him as their Father. This is the fruit of His eonian purpose.
It is evident that much in this scroll had been kept from mankind until this unveiling was given to John. In effect it was sealed. The reason is that the era for its fulfillment was not at hand. God's plans and man's actions are predicated largely on human ignorance. Had they known God's secrets, men would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor.2:8). So in minor matters.
God has doled out the details of His doings so that men may walk in the darkness of their own ignorance. This is only for the evil eons. The coming eons will be blessed with the full revelation now given as well as the actual presence of Christ, so that there will be little lack of knowledge. All seals will have been broken, all secrets revealed. The knowledge of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The eras of ignorance will be past.
From the time of John until the era of this prophecy things go on as heretofore. Those injuring still injure, the filthy are still filthy, the just are still righteous, and the holy are still hallowed (Rev.22:11). But when the next eon begins and the action of this unveiling commences, the injurious and the filthy will be judged. Once the kingdom has come, God's apparent neglect of human affairs comes to an end. There is no time thereafter when this passage can be applied. John has come back to Patmos. The messenger speaks of those who are, at that time, injuring and filthy and just and holy. It is a mixture of saints and sinners unknown after His advent, which cannot be tolerated once He puts His hand to the helm of human affairs.
THE FINAL MESSAGE TO THE ECCLESIAS
As in the previous messages to the ecclesias, our Lord Himself intervenes with a personal word to His saints (Rev.1:8, 18). The exhortation to works and faithfulness, which pervades the seven letters to the ecclesias (Rev.2:3), is here condensed into a single sentence, "My wage is with Me, to pay each one as his work is" (Rev.22:12). This is the spirit of the evangel of the Circumcision. The Uncircumcision also look forward to reward for service, but this is subordinated to the rich gratuities of grace. Here our Lord returns to His servants and settles with them for their labors in connection with His kingdom.
THE THREE TITLES
This apocalypse completes God's revelation to the earth. It records the closing scenes of the eonian times. It accomplishes the divine purpose within their limits. All three of these aspects are the work of Christ, and each supplies Him with an appropriate title. He is the first and last letters of the alphabet. The letters may well represent the substance of God's revelation, which is made known through them. He is the First and the Last in the time in which this revelation is staged. He is the Origin and Consummation in the deeper sense that all began in Him and will be headed up in Him at the close.
Our Lord may be called the Alpha and the Omega in Greek, the Aleph and the Tau in Hebrew, or the A and the Z in English, or its equivalent in any other language, without in the least altering the figure or its significance. Alphabetical languages usually have the letters arranged in a fixed order. The first is often used as a symbol of the beginning and the last for the ending. In God's revelation of Himself He has used many characters, but the first one was Christ and the last one will be Christ again. He commences and concludes in Him.
The First and the Last brings before us the time element. As the Scriptures deal with the eonian times rather than a mythical "eternity" (in which there can be neither first nor last), we find Christ active at the commencement of these times in the work of creation, and we also find Him engaged, in the last two eons, as set before us in this scroll, in work preliminary to the final reconciliation, which is beyond its scope. Christ did not have His beginning in Bethlehem or His end at Golgotha. The eons themselves were made in Him (Heb.1:2).
As the Origin and the Consummation Christ inaugurates and accomplishes the complete purpose of God. Through Him God is pleased to start and to finish the work of the eons. All of this must be kept within the scope of this scroll. The consummation here is the blessing of Israel and the nations in the new earth. He is the Consummation in a far wider and more glorious sense at a still later time, when the death state is abolished and He abdicates the throne, and God becomes All in all.
Again we are reminded of the two classes whose destiny is brought before us in this prophecy. Let us remember that, at this time, John is not transported to the new earth, but is back at Patmos. Our Lord is speaking to the ecclesias. Hitherto the promises have been to the conquerors or "overcomers." Now He assures all who rinse their robes of a share in the tree of life and entrance into the holy city. Let us not suppose that the craven criminals enumerated will encircle the sacred city of the future (Rev.22:15). That would be a most distressing sight. The point is that those who are lawless and abominable at the time when the saints rinse their robes, shall have no right to life or happiness in the last eon. They will be in the second death.
THE ROOT AND RACE OF DAVID
The name of David is the key to earthly sovereignty. He was God's anointed king. With him was the covenant of the kingdom made. It is as the Son of David that Messiah claims the throne of Israel. The fullest fulfillment of the Davidic promises is found in the final vision of the Unveiling. Place and power come to Israel through the throne of David. Hence our Lord relates Himself to the shepherd king in His final message to the ecclesias. As all was created in Him and is carried on through Him, He is not only David's descendant, but also the One from Whom he sprang. By creation He is David's Root. By generation He is of David's race. Both are a pledge to His people of His right to the throne and His ability to fill it to God's glory and their good.
THE MORNING STAR
Now it is night. The darkness is deepening toward the dawn. Just before He comes as the sun to shed His beneficent rays upon the millennial earth, His refulgence will be seen as the Morning Star, herald of the approaching day. As the weary watcher anxiously scans the eastern sky to catch the first gleam of the torch-like harbinger of the morning, so will Israel's weary saints watch for the coming of their Christ, in the darkest hour of their history. No wonder the spirit and the bride say "Come!" All should say "Come!" Mankind's universal thirst will never be slaked on earth until He comes. The fever of human futility is growing worse. There is no satisfying draught. He alone can supply the living water for the parched lips of mankind when He returns. O, that He would come!
THE FINAL WARNING
The transmission of God's revelation is a standing miracle. This is especially true of this concluding scroll, which crowns God's eonian, terrestrial purpose. It has been misunderstood, ridiculed, and opposed from the beginning. It was barely kept in the canon. One of the marks of its authenticity and inspiration is the warning with which it concludes (Rev.22:18,19). The Author was well aware that it would be an enigma to almost all who would read it. He foresaw the tendency to add the dreams and hallucinations of men. He knew the intense enmity it would engender in the forces of evil. The warning is itself prophetic of the fortunes of this apocalypse.
If there were no other passage to prove it than this warning, it would suffice to show that this scroll is entirely outside the scope of the present grace. In this economy, where sin abounds, grace superexceeds. We are not deterred from evil by threats as to our destiny. Our acts affect only our rewards. This warning applies exclusively to the kingdom economy. Nevertheless, the text of this scroll has been sufficiently safeguarded, so that all of its vital values have been retained, though its various manuscripts have come down to us with more variants and omissions than that of any other book. A glance at the Concordant Greek Text will show that the superlinear is more crowded in the Unveiling than elsewhere.
THE RESPONSE OF THE SAINTS
The sacred scrolls begin with God and close with the coming of Christ. After sin entered, Adam hid himself from the face of Yahweh. He wished to escape from His presence. That is characteristic of all sinners. The change wrought in mankind by the course of the eons may be summed up in the closing response of the saints: "Amen! Be coming, Lord Jesus" (Rev.22:20)! The dread of the Deity, and a desire to hide at a distance from Him has been replaced by a longing for our Lord, in Whom God is revealed. This is the fruition of God's purpose, the goal of all His activities, the satisfaction which He seeks. He wants all to seek Him, to desire Him, to long for Him. His delight is in those who love our Lord's appearing.
Now that we know our God, and acknowledge that He is love, we realize the yearning of His heart for the fellowship and affection of His creatures. That needs only to be revealed. Nothing is needed to make God love His own handiwork. The great end to which all the efforts of the eons must contribute is the realization of His love. The object of all things is to create a response in the hearts that He has made. All the toil and suffering and blood, the world cataclysms of water and of fire, all the evils which beset mankind on every side, these are but a means of drawing men into the arms of Him Who alone can save and satisfy.
Let us not close the Bible until we have derived deep satisfaction from the words which end it, except for the concluding salutation. They are arresting. Note that they are not the words of God, or of Christ. They are the words of the saints. They are the expression of inspired human hearts. Everyone who can utter these words from the depths of his being can claim a precious part in the penning of this inspired prophecy. "Amen! Be coming, Lord Jesus!" Even we, who look for Him before He comes to the Circumcision saints (to whom these words immediately apply), cannot restrain our spirits from joining this response. Indeed, we shall know the joy of their fulfillment while many of them are still sighing for His return.
I confess that I cannot conceive of a true believer in Christ who does not long to be with and like his Lord. Whatever we may be taught, our immanent love for the Saviour must instinctively covet His presence. It is only those who dislike us who shun us. Those who love us want us and we want them. I take it that a sincere yearning for Christ and His return is a surer proof that we are His than the confession of any creed, however correct it may claim to be. I feel sure that nothing so delights our God as heart hunger for Himself, as expressed in a craving for the coming of His Christ. I feel that He could not close His revelation with greater gratification to His love than He does when He hands the pen to His saints, and they finish the book for Him with the cry that discloses His conquest of their hearts "Amen! Be coming, Lord Jesus!"