The theme of this paragraph is—
entrance into the Kingdom of God is by the grace freely offered in Christ.
The invitation is in 22:17. It is broad now. If anyone “wishes to enter let him come.”
I. The blood of Christ makes us fit to enter the Kingdom. vs. 14
vs. 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
The verb “wash” is in the present tense—”keep on washing.” The word “right” is “authority.” John 1:12-13 says—
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right (the authority) to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Anyone can claim that they hope to enter the city, but only those who receive the God-given authority will actually enter. This comes by faith in Christ and His finished work.
II. Those excluded from the Kingdom refuse to be cleansed from sin by Christ. vs. 15
vs. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Refusal can be a Response to Christ’s Invitation
I had a teacher who spent much of his time as a younger man traveling with an evangelist who did the preaching while my teacher did the one-on-one work in the prayer room with people who responded to the message and wanted to pray to receive Christ. One young lady went to the prayer room and indicted she wanted to receive Christ. My teacher tried to lead her in the sinner’s prayer.
He asked her to repeat the words after him.
“Dear Lord Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner,
and I ask for Your forgiveness.
I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.
I turn to You from my sin… .”
She had repeated all the words as he said them, but she stopped short of repeating “I turn to You from my sin.” He asked what the difficulty was. She replied she could not give up her sin. He told her she had to turn from her sin to Christ in order to be saved.
She said, “I’ll take my sin, thank you.”
She rode back with friends to her hometown still in her sins instead of giving them up to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.
The description of salvation has not changed from Paul’s day to ours. Turning to God from sin is the pattern.
I Thessalonians 1:9-10—
9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. [ESV; emphasis mine.]
The hymn is old and not according to modern tastes. I like what A. W. Tozer said, “We don’t sing the good hymns anymore, just the other ones.”
This description is not of those who are excluded from the Kingdom in the present. The Scriptures say—
1 “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:1-2 NIV)
It is a catalog of those who hold onto their sins and do not receive Christ. Realize also that these persons described are not knocking at the doors to get in after Christ’s coming. They are consigned along with the Devil and his angels in hell at the end.
The word “outside” is exō—outside the city spoken of in chapter 21:1-22:5. Note the people who are excluded from entering into the New Heavens and Earth—
(1) “dogs”—kunes—large ravenous beasts of the streets, scavengers, and not the pets we are so fond of today. This is figurative of people of low moral character.
(2) “those who practice magic arts”—pharmakos—”sorcerers,” “those who manipulate people through the use of drugs and magic spells.
(3) “the sexually immoral”—pornos—this covers those who practice all forms of deviant sexual behavior—the most general word for immoral acts in the Bible.
(5) “idolaters”—eidolatres—ones who worship or serve idols—an idol is anything molten, mental or metal that takes God’s primary place in mankind’s heart and life.
(6) “everyone who loves falsehood”—phileō + pseudos—those who may not lie but who may delight in hearing them e.g. gossips. The tense of phileō—is present.
(7) “everyone who practices falsehood”—poieō + pseudos; again the tense is present—in this case the person is the one who “does” falsehood—a liar.
Luther’s Phrase simul justus et peccator
These people are not simply ones who may have been guilty of such offenses once or more in their lives. Luther described a Christian as simul justus et peccator. (photo left from https://history.info/on-this-day/1483-martin-luther-born-a-day-before-st-martins/)
“In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.” (See Sproul, below.)
Revelation 22:15 is a description of people who have the described character as a way of life. They will not repent; therefore, they are excluded from entrance into the New Jerusalem.
III. The one who enters the Kingdom is the one who receives the warnings and invitations given to John in his visions through angel. vs. 16
vs. 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.”
Vision of St. Peter Nolasco, 1629 wikiart.org
John uses the word martureō—”to bear witness to.” It is the present infinitive used to indicate purpose. “You’ is the 2nd person plural pronoun—humin. This definitely indicates that the book was and is intended to have an effect on the church of John’s day and every day from then to Christ’s second coming. Christ identifies himself as the Messiah of Israel. And also, Christ is the one who heralds the approach of the day—the morning star.
IV. The speaker invites all to enter the Kingdom now! vs. 17
vs. 17 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 desires take the water of life without price.
Shared from Logos Bible Software https://www.logos.com
This is an invitation for all who are at present interested to make preparation to enter the city. In light of the imminence of the events described in this book, men and women are urged to accept God’s invitation to salvation. The Spirit who inspired the prophets invites people to come. The Bride, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, hears the Spirit’s invitation and invites others to come. There is a further invitation solicited—from “the one who hears.” In other words, those who hear the invitation from the church are in turn commanded to invite others. Two further groups are invited to the city—(1) the thirsty (dipsaō) ; (2) the one who wishes (thelō). This makes the invitation universal. The offer is free, but it is also a command. All men and women have the responsibility to heed God’s invitation. Acts 17:30-31 corroborates this—
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Next time the final paragraph of our study in Revelation.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Athanasiou, K. (n.d.). Imperative. Accessed 8 September 2021 from https://www.greekgrammar.eu/pdffiles/imper.pdf
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
Carr, A. (1893). Matthew in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges series. Cambridge: UK, at the University Press. Accessed 30 August 2021 from https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/matthew-6.html
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Johnston, J. K. (1992). Why Christians Sin. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishing.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pray. (2021). Accessed 8 September 2021 from https://www.etymonline.com/word/pray
Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing.
Sproul, R. C. (2019). “What does simul justus et peccatur mean?” Accessed 19 September 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/posts/simul-justus-et-peccator
Stott, J.R.W. (1986). The Message of Galatians, part of The Bible Speaks Today series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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