ii] The testimony of JesusSynopsis
John now concludes his apocalyptic letter with a series of testimonies that call for perseverance in faith.
The Kingdom of God is at hand; Jesus is coming soon so keep watch to your faith.
i] Context: See 22:6-11.
ii] Background: See 1:1-8.
iii] Structure: General testimonies to Christ:
When Christ comes he will reward his people, v12;
The one who comes is the beginning of all things and the end of all things, v13;
Blessings and warnings, v14-15;
Jesus is the source of this revelation, v16;
A call to come to Christ, v17;
A warning against interfering with John's prophecy, v18-19;
Jesus testifies that he will come soon, v20;
Concluding benediction, v21.
John concludes his book with an epilogue, 22:6-21. It consists of loose sayings, prophecies and observations which sum up the character of the book. There is also a warning not to change or disregard the book and an assurance to the reader of Christ's return. The passage before us covers the central part of the epilogue.
Beale takes the view that the epilogue consists of five exhortations to holiness, v6-7, 8-10, 11-12, 13-17, 18-20. Certainly exhortations to faithfulness, blessings for faithfulness and warnings, all with reference to Christ's coming, are central to the passage. As with the prologue, there are different speakers giving testimony, but here the identity of those speaking is not as clear. Still, it is possible to identify three testimonies: The testimony of the angel, v6-7; the testimony of John v8-11; and the testimony of Jesus (along with John's response) v12-20. Some commentators (eg. Vanni 1991) treat the passage as an antiphonal liturgical dialogue consisting of three units, v6-11, 12-16, 17-21, although there is little agreement as to the speakers (God, John, an Angel, the Spirit and Jesus). It is probably best to treat the passage as a collection of loose independent sayings, prophecies and observations, which recapitulate the themes of the prologue: "the hand of God and Christ who reveal this prophecy, the nearness of the end of all things, and the importance of faithful endurance for Christ", Osborne. So, it seems best to approach v12-20 as a collection of seven independent sayings of Christ loosely tied together thematically, with v21 serving as a closing benediction.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 22:12
Christ is coming soon, v12-20: i] When Christ comes he will reward his people, v12. Jesus announces his coming return, a return which he will complete quickly. When he comes in glory he will reward people on the basis of what they have done. This reward is either a blessing or a curse. John probably has in mind members of the Christian community / the redeemed, and the "what they have done" is most likely perseverance in faith / endurance ("to conquer").
ercomai pres. "I am coming" - [behold] I am coming. The "coming" of Christ is by no means easy to understand. We often see his coming as a return to earth, although from the perspective of Ezekiel, his coming is a coming to heaven with his saints, and there to take up his throne at the right hand of the Ancient of Days. This "coming" entails the day of judgment, a judgment / coming which has been enacted on days like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the destruction of Jerusalem, and will be enacted again at Armageddon, on the last day - all types of Christ's "coming". Fitting modern human history between Christ's ascension and his enthronement in heaven is not very easy for a people locked into linear time, but of course, time is a construct of the creation, not of heaven. Like the thief on the cross, all believers, having cast off this mortal coil, will meet in paradise this evening.
tacu adv. "soon" - swiftly, quickly, soon. Temporal adverb. The message from Jesus is that he will not delay his parousia for very long, rather he will come soon. Given that we have waited nearly 2000 years, it is difficult to understand what Jesus means by "soon". As noted above, the problem is one of perspective - a thousand years is but a moment in the sight of God.
oJ misqoV (oV) "[my] reward" - [and] the wages, reward, recompense [of me]. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. Jesus comes to give what is due. Given that his coming entails both blessing and cursing, "reward" misses the mark due to its positive spin - "recompense" is better; "I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me", ESV.
meta + gen. "is with [me]" - Association; "in company with."
apodounai (apodidwmi) aor. inf. "and I will give" - to give. The infinitive introduces a final clause expressing purpose; "in order to give ...."
ekastw/ dat. adj. "to each person" - Dative of indirect object.
wJV "according to" - as, like. Here the comparative serves to introduce a concrete example; "to repay each for (according to) what they have done."
to ergon "what [he has / they have] done" - the work [of him is]. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. When Jesus returns, he will judge us on the basis of our works. Judgment on the basis of deeds done seems to strike at the heart of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. The problem caused by texts that imply a reward for works is best resolved by arguing that the essential "work" demanded by God is faith / belief in Christ - perseverance in faith. Works, such as love, are a fruit of faith, and as James points out, a genuine faith issues in good works. Yet, as Paul points out, our works play no part in the issue of divine grace for such rests on Christ's work appropriated through faith.
ii] The one who comes is the beginning of all things and the end of all things, v13. John is here repeating a concept he has already developed, cf. 1:8, 17, 2:8, 21:6. William Lee does a nice job paraphrasing these three titles: "I am He from whom all being has proceeded and to whom it will return. I am the primal cause and the final aim of all history. I am the one who has created the world and who will perfect it."
to alfa kai to w\ "the Alpha and the Omega" - [i am] the alpha and the omega [the first and the last and the beginning and the end]. Predicate nominative of the assumed verb to-be. Both "first and last" and "beginning and end" stand in apposition to "the Alpha and Omega." We have here the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, with the last letter not spelled out. Omega was not normally spelled out until the 7th. century. The letters express "the totality of polarity", Beale, of Christ's sovereign standing over the beginning and end of creation.
iii] Blessings and warnings, v14-15. Blessed are those who "wash" for they will be rewarded by Christ - justified by grace through faith, cf., 7:14. The washing image refers to washing in the blood of Christ, being covered by Christ's sacrificial death through repentance and faith. Those who wash have the right to feed on the tree of life, cf., 22:2. For the unwashed, cursed are those who reside outside the city of God for they will be judged in the Great Day of the Lord Almighty.
oiJ plunonteV (plunw) pres. part. "those who wash" - the ones washing [the robes of them are blessed]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of an assumed verb to be. The washing image is used in the Bible to describe being immersed in the sacrificial death of Christ by means of which Jesus takes our punishment on himself and thus secures our acquittal, cf.7:14. So the phrase means, "blessed are those who repent." It is not just repentance at the time of our conversion, for the washing is a present continuous action, (durative present tense). The washing entails an ongoing act of repentance, an ongoing recognition of lostness apart from Christ, an ongoing desire for completeness in Christ = turning to Christ. Note the alternate reading found in some manuscripts and used in the AV, "do his commandments" - the Judaizers live on!
iJna + fut., subj. "that" - This clause my be read as introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order to" or better a consecutive clause expressing consequence / result, "with the result that", NRSV, NEB. Zerwick suggests that it may be causal, "because"; Such a use is rare in the NT. Note the interesting use of iJna + future of the verb to-be followed by the usual form of a verb in the subjunctive mood; "that will be their right ..... and that they may enter ...." There are a number of examples of iJna + fut. in Revelation, which, as here, are best treated as standing in for a subjunctive.
epi + acc. "[the right] to" - [the authority, power of them] over [the tree of life]. John's favorite spacial preposition; "over", the right/authority "over" means the right / authority to feed on the fruit of the tree of life, or possibly "opens the way to the tree of life", Junkins. The image of feeding from the tree of life comes from the book of Ezekiel and harks back to the "tree of life" in the garden of Eden. It is an image of "eternal life", of eternal sustenance in union with Christ. For the genitive "[tree] of life", see v2.
toiV pulwsin (wn wnoV) dat. "the gates" - [and] by the gates. The dative is instrumental, expressing means.
eiV "into [the city]" - [they may enter] into [the city]. Spacial. It is those who wash who have the right to go through the gates and enter the city, not those who eat from the tree of life, given that the tree is in the city. Here again we have the use of a vivid Old Testament image. It pictures our coming into the kingdom of God, our coming into the presence of the living God, and our being blessed and ruled by him. cf., Zechariah.
exw adv. "outside" - Outside the city gate - those not allowed to enter.
oi kuneV (wn unoV) "dogs" - the dogs [the sorcerers and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolators are outside]. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. The term was used by Jews to describe unclean Gentiles, those without God. This may be the sense here = "unbelievers". John takes time to describe these unwashed. Note the full list in 21:8. They are: i) "cowardly" - they run from the battle and do not stand with Christ; ii) "Unbelieving" - unfaithful; iii) "Vile" - nasty; iv) "Murders" - haters; v) "Sexually immoral"; vi) "Practice magic arts" - into power games; vii) "Idolaters" - worship the creation rather than the Creator; viii) "Love to lie" - full of deceit. These unwashed may also be pseudo-Christians, "dogs" as in Philippians 3:2, ie., those who bear the outward marks of religion.
filwn (filew) pres. part. "[everyone] who loves" - loving [and practicing falsehood]. This, and the following participle "practicing", are adjectival, limiting "everyone". It is interesting that the sin of lying is identified in a list of serious sinful living.
iv] In two conjoined sayings Jesus is identified as the source of this revelation to John, sayings which further define his person, v16. Jesus announces that the revelation to John through the angel, and thus to "you" (the church), is a direct revelation from himself; it is his word. This revelation comes from the anointed one of God: the root of Jesse, of the Davidic line, the Davidic King; the "star" of Jacob, Num.24:17, Isa.11:1, 10, 53:2.
uJmin pl. dat. "you" - [i jesus sent the angel of me] to you all. Dative of indirect object. Note the "you" is plural, so the revelation is not so much for John, but for the church.
marturhsai (marturew) inf. "to give [you] this testimony" - to bear witness, testify [to you]. The infinitive introduces a final clause expressing purpose, "in order to testify". "To bear witness" here has the sense of declaring or announcing the revelation.
epi + dat. "for [the churches]" - Here expressing purpose / goal, end-view, as NIV.
hJ rJiza kai to genoV "The Root and the Offspring [of David]" - [i am] the root and the offspring [of david]. Predicate nominative. A messianic title, The Warrior Messiah of the seed of David.
oJ asthr oJ lamproV oJ prwinoV "The bright Morning Star" - Standing in apposition to "the root and offspring of David." Also a messianic title referring to the star that will come out of Jacob, Num.24:17.
v] A call to come to Christ, v17. Both the Holy Spirit and the "bride" (the church) call on humanity to "come" into God's presence and unite with him for eternity. The call to come and drink of the water of life is obviously the gospel invitation to enter the kingdom of God, ie., believe in Jesus and so find in him life eternal.
ercou ... ercou .... ercesqw (ercomai) imp. "come .... come .... let him come" - [and the spirit and the bride say] come [and the one hearing let him say] come [and the one thirsting] let him come. The invitation to come is rather confusing. It is possible that the first two invitations to come are a call for the return of Christ, so Beasley-Murray, although it is more likely that they are all a call to come to Christ, so Mounce, Beale, Osborne. Presumably Christ makes the first call to come, the second is from the church and the third a general call to come to Christ penned by John. There is some debate as to the identity of "the thirsty" and "whoever wishes". Most commentators argue that the invitation is for unbelievers to accept Christ, so Beasley-Murray, Mounce. Some think the invitation is to believers and is a call to faithfulness, for a closer walk with Jesus, so Beale. Possibly it is a call to both believers and unbelievers, a call to commitment and a call to a deeper commitment, so Osborne. If it is a call to commitment such that the one who is "thirsty", who "wishes", is an unbeliever, then we are again reminded that the gospel may only be for "seekers" rather than the whole of humanity, ie., the gospel functions as the key to unlock the mysteries of the universe, but functions as such only for those who seek the key. So for us today, this would mean that accurate communication is more important than a presentation reliant on motivational techniques. This is of course a rather contentious issue, but worthy of debate. (Note, the enigmatic saying of Jesus "do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs", Matt.7:6. These words are often used to support the "seeker" argument, but most likely have nothing do with presenting the gospel. The saying is found within the context of judging others and is most likely an example of pharisaic judgmentalism. Jesus is not saying "do this", rather he's saying "don't do it.")
oJ akouwn (akouw) pres. part. "the one who hears" - the one hearing [let him say, come]. The participle serves as a substantive. As noted above, this probably serves as the call of the church to come to Christ.
oJ diywn (diyaw) pres. part. "[let] the one who is thirsty [come]" - The participle serves as a substantive, as does "the one desiring, wishing." Probably serving as a general call by John.
qwhV (h) gen. "[the water] of life" - [the one desiring let him take water] of life [freely]. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, "life-giving water / water which gives life", or better appositional / epexegetic, "let the one who is thirsty come .... and take the free gift of the living water that Jesus provides, namely, eternal life" - new life in the kingdom, eschatological life.
vi] A warning against interfering with John's prophecy, v18-19. John now gives a warning not interfere with this prophecy on pain of judgment. The warning could be to copyists, but also applies to all who teach the truths found in the revelation.
marturw (marturew) "I warn" - i bear witness / testify. The sense is obviously "warn", but a word like "declare" would be closer to the Greek.
tw/ akouonti (akouw) dat. pres. part. "[to everyone] who hears" - [to everyone] hearing. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive dative of indirect object pronoun panti, "everyone", dative in agreement with "everyone". "I declare .......... to everyone who hears the prophecies of this book."
thV profhteiaV (a) gen. "[the words] of the prophecy" - The genitive may be treated as adjectival, possessive, "this prophecy's words", or epexegetical, Mathewson, or ablative, source/origin, "the words communicated by/in/from this prophecy" = "the revelatory words", Beale.
tou bibliou (on) gen. "of [this] scroll" - The genitive may be classified ablative, source/origin; "from this scroll", or adjectival, idiomatic, "which are contained in this book."
ean + subj. "if" - Introducing a conditional clause 3rd class where the condition has the possibility of coming true, "if, as may be the case, ..... then ...."
epiqh/ (epitiqhmi) aor. subj. "adds" - [anyone] lay [upon them]. Certainly "adds" properly represents the Greek, although in a general sense "alters" is acceptable. "Adds" is chosen to parallel the adding of the plagues upon those who add to the text, or better, the meaning of the text. For the plagues see chapters 15 and 16.
taV gegrammenaV (grafw) perf. pas. part. "described" - [god will lay / add to him the plagues] having been written [in this book]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the plagues"; "God will add to him the plagues which are recorded in this book."
ean + subj. "if" - Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause, as above.
afelh/ (afeirew) aor. subj. "[anyone] takes [words] away" - [and if anyone] takes away, removes, subtracts, deletes, omits, ...... Remove the truth of the prophecy, not just the words.
apo + gen. "from" - Expressing separation, "away from." See above for "of the book of this prophecy."
tou bibliou thV profhteiaV gen. "[this] scroll of prophecy" - [the words] of the book of [this] prophecy. Both genitives are adjectival, probably attributive / idiomatic; "anyone who takes away from the words which are contained in the book which reveals this prophecy."
to meroV (oV ouV) "[his] share / [any] share" - [god will take away] the part [of him]. The noun "part" means that which a person possesses by right, their lot, their share of the inheritance. A person who fiddles with the truths in this revelation will lose their right to enter the city and eat the fruit of the tree of life = their right to eternal life. This statement seems to extend the requirement for salvation beyond that of faith in Christ - we are justified by grace through faith apart from works of the law. It seems likely that the warning carries its own power such that those who have "come" will not even want to tamper with the revelation. Those who do willfully tamper, show by their actions that they have not come and that their share / portion of the tree of life and the holy city was only apparent, and not real.
apo + gen. "in [the tree of life]" - from [the tree of life and from the holy city]. As with the following ek + gen., rather than expressing separation, both prepositions serve as partitive genitives; "God will take away his (their) portion of the tree of life and of the Holy City." For the genitive "[tree] of life", see v2.
twn gegrammenwn (grafw) perf. pas. part. "which are described" - of the things having been written. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "tree of life" and "holy city", as NIV; "of which a description has been given in this book", Cassirer.
en + dat. "in [this book]" - Expressing space / sphere.
vii] Jesus testifies that he will come soon, v20. Jesus again gives witness and affirms that he is coming soon. The response to this truth is "Amen" - we agree and affirm this truth. This response is then followed by a prayer - Maranatha, which is Aramaic for "Come, O Lord", 1Cor.16:22. Our burning desire should be for the coming of Christ and thus, for our union with him.
oJ marturwn (marturew) pres. part. "he who testifies" - [says] the one testifying [these things, yes I am coming quickly]. The participle serves as a substantive.
ercou kurie Ihsou "come Lord Jesus" - [amen] come Lord Jesus. The imperative here is followed by a vocative of address. This imperatival phrase in Greek is equivalent to the Aramaic Marana tha, "our Lord, come."
Concluding benediction, v21. The fact that this document ends with a benediction indicates that it is an epistle/letter. The benediction serves as a call (prayer request) for God's grace to flow to his people, a request which is supported by propositional promises in the scriptures and therefore a prayer request that will be answered. See Metzger for the many variants for this verse, eg.: CristoV "Christ" is added in some texts; amhn "Amen" is found in some texts; and there are seven variant objects, meta pantwn, eg. "with you all", "all the saints", "with all of us", ...
tou kuriou Ihsou gen. "[the grace] of the Lord Jesus" - [the grace] of the lord jesus [be with all]. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possessive, a grace that is possessed by Christ, but probably better as ablative, source / origin, a grace that flows from Christ.
meta + gen. "with [God's people]" - Expressing association, as NIV.