Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 22:14–17

Revelation 22:14–17
Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can have access to the tree of life and can enter into the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the sexually immoral, and the murderers, and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood!
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant 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 wants it take the water of life free of charge.
(NET Bible)

Washing your robe

We rose after a night of much-needed rest at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The famous rock spires called hoodoos made the view from the rim one like a forest of stone towers and spears. We learned that you could hike down there, but it was dangerous and hot — a stone maze.

That afternoon, when we discovered the man and his wife lying in the highway, it was a shock. They had wandered for hours among the hoodoos without water, and their heat exhaustion was plain. Cold water and a fast trip to the ranger station set these German tourists right, but what if relief had not come?

As we enter this section, we do well to hear Grant Osborne’s words: “’We are saved by grace and judged by works.’ The teaching here deals not with salvation by works (though it does deal with salvation in the broad sense) but with our eternal reward.”[1] With that caveat, we will press on.

In 22:14 we find that washing your robe is vital to having access to the tree of life by entering the city gates. The key to such washing, which grammar suggests has an ongoing quality, is the washing based on Christ’s redemptive death: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:14). That is the basis for all Christian living.

Those with authority to enter the city and eat of the tree (22:14) are contrasted with those outside (22:15) — a word which, unusually, stands first in word order — people who are unfit for God’s presence or blessings. Indeed, the word translated outside is quite ominous when used in this way; see Luke 13:22-28, where Jesus warns those rejecting his message that they will end outside where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:28). See also 3:12 where the overcomers are told, “All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it [literally: ‘go away outside’]” (Rev. 3:12, NLT).

Without apology to our family dogs, the Bible uses the term dog (22:15) in a negative sense that was common in the ancient world. Greg Beale[2] says that the reprobates listed in 21:15 have no place in the new creation; further, he says that outside means the lake of fire and that city is another word for the new creation. Those conclusions are likely to be correct.

When 22:16 says “testify to you,” the personal pronoun in italics is plural in the original language. This is probably a reference to the members of the seven churches and to all who have an ear to hear what Jesus reveals through John.[3] Jesus reiterates his role as the Davidic Messiah and perhaps as the savior of the gentiles as well; the bright morning star uses a title applied to the Roman Emperor.[4]

Verse 22:17 presents a puzzle as to who is invited to come. Some say Jesus, but Beale[5] correctly notes that the threefold come of 22:17 mimics the same phenomenon in Isa. 55:1. The appeal is to people who need to come to Jesus for the water of life and the food that heals forever.

Only the thirsty will come.

Many of us had to memorize this stanza from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, whose sailing ship was becalmed and without fresh water: “Water, water, everywhere/ And all the boards did shrink/ Water, water, everywhere/ Nor any drop to drink.”

This is the desperate plight of people in our time who are surrounded by many candidates for god, including the currently fashionable atheism. Just as sea water will kill rather than nurture the thirsty sailor, these false gods cannot touch the spiritual thirst of our time. Only Jesus can truly offer the water of life.

In offering the water of life, Jesus says, “Whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). Come, and drink freely!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 788.

[2] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1142.

[3] Beale, Revelation, 1143, citing Beasley-Murray.

[4] Witherington, Revelation, 282, citing the Roman poet Martial’s appeal for Caesar to soon appear.

[5] Beale, , Revelation, 1144.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 22:6–9

Revelation 22:6–9
Then the angel said to me, “These words are reliable and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.”
7 (Look! I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book.)
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them, I threw myself down to worship at the feet of the angel who was showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do this! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets, and with those who obey the words of this book. Worship God!”
(NET Bible)

Spoiler alert

One of the big principles in American law is giving notice. The idea is that you are given adequate knowledge in advance of a needed response or decision you must make. Generally, this advance knowledge and your required actions must be put into writing.

Through John and the angels, God is putting us on notice that obedience and perseverance are required in response to the disclosures God is making to us through his agents. What will you do with the holy summons?

If you analyze this biblical text for frequency, “words” occurs three times, and the combination prophets-prophecy-prophets also grabs attention. When you combine that knowledge with the statement from Jesus in 22:7 — “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book” — you have to realize that obedience to the challenge to overcome is a crucial theme in Revelation.

Greg Beale[1] says that the purpose of Revelation is to induce obedience among God’s people and supports his statement by pointing out that eight of the final fifteen verses exhort or warn toward that goal. This general theme is stated a little differently by Grant Osborne[2], who says that perseverance is the primary theme of the book.

When Jesus says that the one who obeys is blessed (22:7), the previous context describing the splendor of the New Jerusalem fills that word with substance that had not previously been revealed.

John again puts considerable emphasis on his own eyewitness testimony (22:8). These visions and words are not idle thoughts or a creation of John’s own mind, and he makes that very clear to his readers.

Understandably, John is once again overcome by what he has seen and heard, and he falls down to worship the angel (22:8). The angel rebukes John in a manner virtually identical to 19:10. Explaining John’s lapse, Osborne[3] says that the two almost identical incidents serve as bookends for the material from 19:11 to 22:5, which includes the end of the former age and the creation of the new heaven and earth. The angel again stresses to John the equality of angels with the saints and prophets who all serve God. Note the particular emphasis on “those who obey the words of this book” (22:9).

The angel’s words “Worship God!” (22:9) do not in this context mean to sing praise songs or any of the other activities normally associated with corporate worship. Instead they mean to worship God by persevering and staying in readiness for the any-moment return of Christ.

To be or not to be?

Osborne[4] makes the telling point that every passage in the NT on the imminent return of Jesus ends with a demand to walk worthily of the Lord because he is coming soon.

The thing is, in an hour from this moment your decisive interview with Jesus may be over!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1122.

[2] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 782-783.

[3] Osborne, Revelation, 784.

[4] Osborne, Revelation, 783.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 21:22–27

Revelation 21:22–27
Now I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God– the All-Powerful– and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God lights it up, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their grandeur into it. 25 Its gates will never be closed during the day (and there will be no night there). 26 They will bring the grandeur and the wealth of the nations into it, 27 but nothing ritually unclean will ever enter into it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or practices falsehood, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
(NET Bible)

Keep your eye on the ball!

Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). We have often understood this statement to refer to the gospel by having it mean light of salvation. But could Jesus have been telling us about the life we will live with him in eternity?

Grant Osborne[1] notes that most Jewish literature on the New Jerusalem puts the temple at its center, as in Ezekiel 40–48. But the flaw in that thinking is that the rationale for the temple was as a place for the people to encounter God. But in Revelation 21 we find that God “physically resides among his people (Rev. 21:3), and the entire city has been made into a Holy of Holies (21:6).”[2]

As John continues to contrast the holy city with the present age, he says the city needs no sun and moon due to the illumination provided by the radiance of God in Jesus, the Lamb (21:23).

Rev. 21:24–26 is very challenging for all commentators. Craig Keener explains: “The image of the conversion of the nations (21:24) is a problematic one if pressed on a literal level against other images in Revelation. One possibility is that God creates new peoples for his saints to rule, but because this is not stated, commentators have rarely proposed it.”[3] This rarely proposed idea is exactly the solution that I advocate to resolve this mystery.

The key problem is that the phrase “kings of the earth” (21:24) has uniformly served as a reference to those who will persecute the saints, gather with the beast, oppose the second coming of Christ, and then probably rise in rebellion when Satan leads the nations against the camp of the saints at the end of Christ’s earthly rule (see 16:14; 17:2; 17:18; 18:3; 18:9; 19:19; 20:8). So, it is sufficiently difficult to see these wicked kings coming to the New Jerusalem to worship — in the new heaven and new earth — that a few interpreters have said they were brought back from the lake of fire and converted! That idea is so contrary to the theology of both Revelation and the entire New Testament that it has gained no support.

The alternative is to take God more seriously: “For look, I am ready to create new heavens and a new earth! The former ones will not be remembered; no one will think about them anymore” (Isa. 65:17 ). I suggest that in this new creation there is no fall into sin and the result is the worship of God in Jerusalem by the leaders from nations around the newly created world.

This potential solution is far more complex than the usual fuzzy view of eternal life that most Christians hold. It may not express the actual course of events, but no viable alternative to the mystery of the “kings of the earth” in 21:24–26 has been proposed.[4]

No matter what God will show to be the solution to these questions, the nations will flock to the light of the Lamb, and those whose names are in the book of life (21:17) will see it all!

Jesus Christ is the focal point of the new world!

It is so difficult for us to imagine the new heaven and earth. As I write, the sun is shining and an electric light illumines my work area, but in the New Jerusalem the light from the Lamb’s presence will bathe every activity. Perhaps the biggest difference in the world-to-come is that it will focus far more attention and activity on Jesus than our fallen world does.

Jesus said to his enemies: “I am going away, and you will look for me but will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” (John 8:21). Rejoice that every Christian can come where Jesus is going!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 759.

[2] Osborne, Revelation, 759.

[3] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 505.

[4] John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966) 327, and Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Rev. Ed., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997) 397, adopt certain parts of the literal view I have expressed, but they back away in different ways. G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1098, retreats into symbolism, as usual. Osborne, Revelation, 762-763, discusses the issue but presents no credible resolution.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 21:15–19a

Revelation 21:15–19a
The angel who spoke to me had a golden measuring rod with which to measure the city and its foundation stones and wall. 16 Now the city is laid out as a square, its length and width the same. He measured the city with the measuring rod at fourteen hundred miles (its length and width and height are equal). 17 He also measured its wall, one hundred forty-four cubits according to human measurement, which is also the angel’s. 18 The city’s wall is made of jasper and the city is pure gold, like transparent glass. 19 The foundations of the city’s wall are decorated with every kind of precious stone.
(NET Bible)

A city like no other

Suppose I told you that you could have anything you want. What would you put on the list? Now —  would you trade those things for the things God is going to provide you freely in his eternal city?

The information given about the New Jerusalem is not comprehensive, but it suffices to demonstrate that the city of God is a real place that we will call home. No clouds, no harps, no fuzzy, out-of-focus scenes to make it seem like a storage bin for cotton balls.

The first thing John emphasizes about the specifics is the cubic shape of the city (21:16). Grant Osborne explains the significance when he says, “The cube shape matches the shape of the Holy of Holies (20 cubits each direction, 1 Kings 6:20; 2 Chron. 3:8–9).”[1] No barrier exists between sacred and secular. NT scholar Ben Witherington says, “The whole city is a holy temple, for God is with his people throughout the city and they are his temple.”[2]

The city is immense by any current measure, but our calculation of its size depends on the measure assumed for the Greek word stadion, which the standard lexicon defines as: “a measure of distance of about 192 meters.”[3] Using that value, I calculate a cube with dimensions of 1432 miles. The use of different values for this measure — the ancient world was not big on universal standardization — explains how NET says “fourteen hundred miles” (21:16) while the New American Standard Bible says “fifteen hundred miles.” Your mileage may vary.  :)

As you can imagine, a city whose dimensions are approximately the distance from Dallas to San Francisco can hold a vast number of redeemed people in an environment that defies description. But commentators are not comfortable with such a size, and most suggest the numbers are symbolic. Perhaps they are, but no one seems to think the number of gates or foundations is symbolic, so there has to be some subjectivity involved in these pronouncements of what is symbolic. I see no reason to discount the vast size of the holy city.

That the wall is so tiny compared to the city (21:17) demonstrates that it is merely decorative, not functional. The city in which the All-Powerful dwells does not even bother to shut its gates (21:25).

Who needs Camelot?

God’s promises are never empty! Abraham received promises from God and yet he remained a wandering sojourner, living in a tent all his life. The author of Hebrews says of Abraham: “For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). Since Abraham will also live in the New Jerusalem, will not his expectation be more than satisfied?

We find it so easy to have cynical, earth-bound thoughts. But Jesus said, “This is impossible for mere humans, but not for God; all things are possible for God” (Mark 10:27). When God is creating our reward, there is no limit to what it may be!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 753.

[2] Ben Witherington III, Revelation, The New Cambridge Bible Commentary (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003) 268.

[3] BDAG-3, stadion, (a measure of distance of about 192 meters), q.v.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 21:9–14

Revelation 21:9–14
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven final plagues came and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb!” 10 So he took me away in the Spirit to a huge, majestic mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. 11 The city possesses the glory of God; its brilliance is like a precious jewel, like a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It has a massive, high wall with twelve gates, with twelve angels at the gates, and the names of the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel are written on the gates. 13 There are three gates on the east side, three gates on the north side, three gates on the south side and three gates on the west side. 14 The wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
(NET Bible)

New Jerusalem as the Holy of Holies: Introduction

I challenge you to examine what the world considers glorious. Just walk through a large bookstore and glance at the covers of a hundred magazines. If that is the pinnacle of human achievement, then I say we must search for true glory somewhere else. What do you think?

Grant Osborne[1] points out the significant fact that Revelation 21:9–22:5 can be divided into three sections: the first describes the prostitute of Babylon (17:1–19:5); the second describes the end of history and final judgment (19:6–21:8); the third describes the wife of the Lamb (21:9–22:5).

Verses 17:1-3 strongly contrast with 21:9–10. The personal choice between the prostitute of Babylon and the wife of the Lamb is a real-time conflict of allegiance for the seven churches in John’s day and it extends to us today.

To continue the comparison, John describes the adornment of the prostitute (17:4; 18:16–17a) and contrasts it with the beauty of the bride (21:11). The adornment of the prostitute was stripped away in a single hour but the beauty of the bride will endure for eternity. The beauty of the New Jerusalem flows from the “glory of God” (21:11), where glory should probably be translated as radiance or splendor.[2] The beauty of the holy city is the beauty of God, and that has no limit!

The presence of a massive city wall is slightly surprising since all enemies have been vanquished. But if the wall does not represent safety, it does again delineate the basic difference between outside and inside. Consider that 22:15 says, “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the sexually immoral, and the murderers, and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood!” Angels stand at each gate (21:12) — reminding us of the angels who guarded the way into Eden (Gen. 3:24) — and the gates and foundation bear the names of the twelve tribes and twelve apostles to remind us that both believing Israel and the church belong within.

I expect that this more nuanced view of the new heaven and new earth will sound odd to you. Craig Keener[3] explains that “Western Christendom has inherited an allegorical view of heaven” [think of clouds with winged angels playing harps] from the philosophical views of some early interpreters. Instead, we should consider what the Bible says the scene will actually be, both inside and outside:

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth I am about to make will remain standing before me,” says the Lord, “so your descendants and your name will remain. From one month to the next and from one Sabbath to the next, all people will come to worship me,” says the Lord. “They will go out and observe the corpses of those who rebelled against me, for the maggots that eat them will not die, and the fire that consumes them will not die out. All people will find the sight abhorrent.”
(Isa. 66:22–24).

Live inside the New Jerusalem!

As you can tell, living inside the New Jerusalem is our aspiration. The one who makes it possible is the Lamb, a name for Jesus that occurs seven times from 21:9–22:3. It is the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf that makes our life in New Jerusalem possible. There is no other way!

The author of the book of Hebrews encourages us to think like the heroes of faith who lived before us: “They aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:16). You have a treat in store — true glory!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 745.

[2] BDAG-3, doxa, radiance, splendor, q.v.

[3] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 502.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 21:1–4

Revelation 21:1–4
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. 2 And I saw the holy city — the new Jerusalem —  descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more — or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”
(NET Bible)

The new heaven and the new earth

Some ideas die hard. In the early 20th century, many people believed an idea from Émile Coué, a French psychologist, who said, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Many thought the world was on the same track. But after World War I killed 16 million people and the influenza pandemic of 1918 killed at least 50 million people, such opinions soured.

Yet in 2007 a serious book was published with the title The Improving State of the World, again advancing the world-is-getting-better-and-better idea. Will humanity create heaven on earth?

Revelation 21:1-6 offers a summary of everything that will follow, and then verses 7-8 tell us how we must live in light of these things. The summary will “then be expanded in two directions, first viewing the Holy City as an eternal Holy of Holies (21:9–27) and then as a new Eden (22:1–5).”[1]

Here is a fact that some people do not accept easily: the new heaven and new earth are brought to us by God (21:2), not by humanity! The idea that humanity will save itself and transform the world into paradise is a lie! The beast took over the concept and presented his rule as the key.

The next development is a dramatic announcement from the throne of God (21:3–4) — “Look!” (21:3). The news deserving of such fanfare is that God will once again dwell among his people, but with some major differences compared to his past sojourns: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (21:4, ESV). Recall that the first time God lived among his people (Exodus & Numbers) an entire, unbelieving, rebellious generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness without seeing the Promised Land. Yet, even in the midst of national sin during the later years of the Israelite kingdom, God promised a new heaven and new earth: “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isa. 65:17, NIV 2011).

The second time God lived among his people was when Jesus came to live among us. John 1:14 uses the same verb for “took up residence among us” that we find in Rev. 21:3 “will live among them”; this verb is only found in John’s Gospel and Revelation. Jesus and his disciples experienced great opposition, suffering and even death.

Of course, it is not accurate to say that God did not continue to dwell with his people after Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). Jesus revealed to his disciples that after leaving them he would send the Holy Spirit to reside with them and live within them forever (John 14:15–17). The presence of the Spirit was unseen yet absolutely real.

But the dwelling of God with his people in the New Jerusalem will be personal, lasting and free from the suffering and opposition that characterized the first heaven and earth. The quality of life will be so far beyond our experience as to be quite beyond our conception. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9, ESV).

Your forever-home!

Lots of people attempt to prepare for retirement, but it is costly. The only retirement worth having requires you to give your life to Jesus in return for eternity in splendor with God.

Jesus made promises to those who love him. One of the greatest is this one: “There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too.” (John 14:2-3). Nothing beats that!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 727.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 21:5–8

Revelation 21:5–8
And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” Then he said to me, “Write it down, because these words are reliable and true.” 6 He also said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the one who is thirsty I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life. 7 The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But to the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. That is the second death.”
(NET Bible)

All things new!

Shakespeare[1] has a beautifully crafted passage about lasting commitments:

His promises were as he then was, mighty.
But his performance, as he is now, nothing.

Are you truly thirsty for Christ and his living water? God is asking!

For a second time we have the dramatic summons “Look!” (21:5) as God himself speaks from his throne. When God says, “I am making all things new!” there is no question of his determination or ability. Those holding out against persecution need to feel the certainty of their salvation and reward. He further commands John to write down his reliable statement (21:5b).

While English translations generally say “It is done!” (21:6), there is no question the verb is plural and means: “They are done!”[2] Whether this completion refers to all the events of history (Grant Osborne) or all the prophecies of the book (Greg Beale) or the creation of all the new things that comprise the new creation (also Beale) is hard to say. I prefer to think that the plural means that God has brought all the judgments — seals, trumpets, and bowls — to a close and has created everything necessary for the new heaven and new earth.

The one who declares the end of the old order and the beginning of the new order can say such astounding things because he is “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (21:6). Beale[3] explains this title by saying that God transcends time, guides the entire course of history, and is sovereign over its beginning and its end.

Osborne[4] suggests that the “one who is thirsty” refers to those who have persevered and stayed faithful to Christ; he also compares them to the people who came to Jesus for “living water” (John 7:38). But Craig Keener[5] says that suffering alone in not sufficient; the believer must conquer (21:7) by not compromising with the world’s values in the face of persecution. The one who does so will inherit “the spring of the water of life” (21:6), which is a life of eternal fellowship with God.

But the water of life is not the only figurative liquid in question; there is also the lake of fire (21:8). The contrast to the conqueror (21:7) is the coward (21:8), whose final destination is the lake of fire. Naturally, this appeal to overcome is addressed to the people of the seven churches and to us who live before the time when the new heaven and earth emerge.

Obey the right thirst!

Only a corpse could fail to be attracted by the numerous advertising messages that appear nightly on television. It is unfortunate that the one thing that actually deserves such favorable attention, a thirst for God, is missing. Be very careful what thirst you quench!

At one of the great feasts in Jerusalem, Jesus said: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37–38). John 7:39 explains that the living water is the Holy Spirit. If you have believed in Jesus, that living water flows within you at this very moment!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Henry VIII, act 4, scene 2, lines 41-2; Mark Antony to Octavia.

[2] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1054; Osborne has “They are over,” which he expands to “These events are over,” Revelation, 737 and 729, respectively.

[3] Beale, Revelation, 1055.

[4] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 738.

[5] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 488.