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 worlds 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, Plano, Texas. 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.

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!

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