"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Rev 22:7

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John worship

Revelation 22:6-15

Revelation 22 - Quick Links

  • Inside the Holy City
    Revelation 22:1-5

  • The Epilogue
    Revelation 2:6-9

  • Two Eternal Destinies
    Revelation 22:10-15

  • Invitation & Benediction
    Revelation 22:16-21

  • Revelation 22:6-9

    Revelation 22:6 - Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true." And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.

    The angel speaking to John tells him that everything the Spirit prompted him to write down to describe what he saw as "faithful and true." When something is "faithful and true" it is reliable and trustworthy. As discussed in Revelation 1:5, Jesus is "faithful and true" because there is no falsehood found in Him and it is impossible for Him to lie:

    Revelation 1:4-6 - John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
    Revelation 3:14 - "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God....'"
    Revelation 19:11 - Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.

    Thus, when Jesus declares a prophetic word to be faithful and true, He is sure to accomplish it along with the rest of His promises in Revelation:

    Revelation 21:5 - Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

    As discussed in Revelation 1:1, God the Father gave the Revelation of Jesus Christ through an angel to John for His servants, who are His followers (John 12:26). In other words, this prophetic book is not for the benefit of unbelievers. In fact, unbelievers cannot understand God's word without instruction from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11-16):

    Revelation 1:1-2 - The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants - things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

    The Greek word translated "shortly" can also mean "in swiftness" or "speedily." In other words, when these prophecies begin to occur, they will happen in rapid succession like "birth pangs" (Matthew 24:8, Mark 13:8).

    Throughout Scripture, God sent His servants the prophets to reveal prophetic events to the rest of His servants, or other believers:

    Amos 3:7 - Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

    God calls His prophets "holy":

    Luke 1:68-70 - "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began...."
    Acts 3:18 - But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
    2 Peter 3:1-2 - Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior....

    When God calls something "holy" it shows He has set it apart for Himself:

    Leviticus 20:26 - And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.

    Revelation 22:7 - "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

    Recall that Jesus told the church in Philadelphia that He was "coming quickly":

    Revelation 3:11 - Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.

    The Greek word translated "quickly" means swift, speedily, or without delay. This is the same Greek root word used in Revelation 1:1 and Revelation 22:6 in the last section, where it says that the prophecies in Revelation were to take place "shortly." The context here looks the same, in that when the prophecies begin to happen, they will occur rapidly.

    To understand Revelation, we need to study the rest of Scripture. This in turn gives a better understanding of the rest of God's word. Indeed, blessings will come to those who read and hear all of God's word:

    Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
    Luke 11:28 - ...blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!

    The Greek word translated "to keep" means to heed, to hold fast, continually hold on to, watch over, or guard. The Greek word translated as "blessing" also means "happy." Therefore, keeping, or heeding God's word makes one happy or blessed:

    Proverbs 16:20 - He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.

    Revelation 22:8-9 - Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."

    As discussed in Revelation 17:1, John apparently becomes overwhelmed by all he sees and hears, and falls a second time at the feet of the angel speaking to him to worship him, and again the angel rebukes him:

    Revelation 19:10 - And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

    As mentioned in Revelation 19:10, John interacts with other angels throughout Revelation, it begs the question what is different about this angel and why does he bow down and try to worship him twice? Perhaps John became caught up in the moment after the glorious things he saw and heard, but he does not explain why he tries to worship the angel. John's behavior though shows how easy the godliest of men, even a prophet can fall short in discernment in certain situations.

    The angel is quick to rebuke John for trying to worship him because worship belongs solely to God. While John was clearly a fallible servant of God who made mistakes, much of humankind has outright rejected God, and throughout history they have worshiped creation even though they inherently knew God. Therefore, they have no excuse:

    Romans 1:20-25 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man - and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    But Paul had to warn believers not to worship angels, or they could lose their reward (Revelation 19:10):

    Colossians 2:18 - Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

    God created angels along with the rest of the hosts of heaven - the sun, the moon, and the stars:

    Deuteronomy 4:15-19 - "Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth. And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage."

    God made all of creation, including the sun, moon, stars, and angels to give glory and praise to Him:

    Psalms 19:1-5 - The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
    Psalms 148:1-5 - Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.

    However, Satan, or Lucifer was at the highest of angelic ranks but fell, and pride made him think he could be like God:

    Isaiah 14:12-14 - "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'"

    Satan even tried to get Jesus to worship him, but the Lord reminded the devil that only God is to be worshipped:

    Matthew 4:8-10 - Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

    After Paul miraculously healed a man, the people of Lystra tried to worship Paul and Barnabas as mythical gods, which illustrates how easy it is for men to worship other created beings when they see something supernatural that overwhelms them:

    Acts 14:8-16 - And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped and walked. Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways."

    After a vision of an angel, the centurion Cornelius tried to bow down and worship Peter when he met him, but Peter rebuked him as the angel did to John:

    Acts 10:22, 25-26 - And they said, "Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you...." As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man."

    Peter told Cornelius that he should not worship him because he was only a man. The angel similarly tells John that he should not worship him because he is a fellow servant and of the brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Holy angels are minsters of the Lord who commissioned them to minister to Him and to the saints:

    Psalms 103:19-22 - The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. Bless the LORD, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure. Bless the LORD, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
    Hebrews 1:6-7, 14 - But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him." And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits and his minsters a flame of fire...." Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

    But angels are also brethren like the prophets and other servants of God who keep the word of God. They are also "sons of God" in the sense that they came directly from God like Adam and Jesus:

    Job 1:6 - Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
    Luke 3:23, 38 - Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.... the son of Adam, the son of God.
    Luke 1:31, 34-35 - And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.... Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

    Angels also are fellow servants to the Lord. As discussed in Revelation 6:11, the difference between "brethren" and "servants" is that brethren refer to kin, and servants are typically slaves or hired help. Being a brother or servant is not necessarily mutually exclusive. As in the case of Jacob, Esau was both a brother and servant to Jacob (Genesis 27:37). Being a fellow servant to the Lord demonstrates our having a shared goal of being faithful ministers of Christ:

    Colossians 1:3-8 - We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.
    Colossians 4:7 - Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me.

    Revelation 22:10-15

    Revelation 22:10 - And he said to me, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand."

    As discussed in Revelation 10:4, in the Greek to "seal" something means to close or make it secure. John tried to write what the seven thunders uttered, but a voice from Heaven told him to seal them up and not to write them:

    Revelation 10:4 - Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them."

    Daniel wrote down prophecies he heard, but had to seal them up:

    Daniel 8:26 - "And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future."
    Daniel 12:4 - "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."

    In Daniel's case, sealing the book meant that understanding would not come until the time of the end. In contrast, John is not to even write what he heard the seven thunders say, yet the voice from Heaven commanded him to seal them up. This means John could not share with anyone what he heard, so he sealed them in his mind.

    The reason here that the angel tells John to not seal the words he wrote down is because "the time is at hand," which means the events prophesied in Revelation are imminent. Because the time is "at hand," or near for these prophesies to occur, Revelation 1:3 instructs that we should strive to live holy lives because Jesus' return is "at hand" and "the Judge is standing at the door!"

    James 5:7-9 - Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

    Also, since the book is unsealed, we live in a time where we can understand it compared to the prophecies given to Daniel for a time far in the future (Daniel 8:26). Today during the Church Age, we can better understand Daniel's yet future prophecies because prophecies in Revelation and Jesus' "Olivet Discourse" complement each other by giving more detailed information. In addition, we are seeing some elements of the prophecies about the Tribulation converging today.

    While much of Revelation is still yet future, Revelation 2-3 are about things concerning the seven first-century churches in Asia shortly after John prophesied about them. These same prophesies also are relevant to the Church body at large today and will continue to be so until the rapture. Still, there are things God's servants can learn from the rest of the future prophecies, but like the prophecies in Daniel there are some that we might not understand until closer to their fulfillment because God reveals things to His servants in a progressive manner.

    As discussed in Revelation 1:1, while the prophecies in Revelation are given to God's servants to understand, unbelievers cannot have understanding of God's word without the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11-16). Thus, Revelation will be a sealed book to those who walk in spiritual darkness. But God's servants who have ears to hear what the Spirit says can understand it:

      "Since it is not a sealed book, it is then obvious that it is meant to be understood and not shrouded in undecipherable mystery and allusion: What a rebuke to the negligence, the neglect, the sneering, ignorant arrogance, shown by most of Christendom toward The Revelation! Our Lord Jesus may declare it an open, unsealed, understandable book; men say it is filled with "unintelligible language" and "mystic symbols." Christ says: "Blessed is he that readeth"; men say: "Let it alone, you cannot understand it.""

      Source: A Testimony of Jesus Christ: A Commentary on the Book of Revelation

    Revelation 22:11 - "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still."

    The verses below show us how certain terms such as unjust, filthy, righteous, and holy are used elsewhere in Scripture, helping us to understand their meaning. For instance, an unjust man does not take care to always do the right thing because he does not fear God, nor even has much regard for others except on rare occasions:

    Luke 18:2-6 - "...There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'" Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said."

    Someone who is filthy, or wears filthy garments figuratively is full of iniquity, or impure:

    Zechariah 3:3-4 - Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes."

    Someone who is righteous does just or right things:

    Zephaniah 3:5 - The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.
    Romans 5:18 - Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

    Someone who is holy is set apart for the Lord:

    Leviticus 20:26 - And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.

    Recall from the last section that Revelation is an unsealed book, but the Lord told Daniel to seal his prophetic words until the time of the end:

    Daniel 12:9-10 - And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."

    The Lord told Daniel that when it is time for the words to become unsealed at the time of the end, there will be a division between those who are wise who would be able to understand God's word and those that do wickedly who would not. This implies that the wise are servants of God who become righteous through justification in Christ and become holy through the sanctification process of refining (Revelation 19:7). But those who are wicked, who would continue to do wickedly, will continue to be unjust and filthy without justification and sanctification. Thus, like Pharaoh (Exodus 11:9-10), they will continue to have hardened hearts and will not be able to understand God's word:

    Isaiah 6:9-11 - And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' "Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed." Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered: "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate...."

    And because their hearts become hardened against God, He will turn them over to a "debased mind" and then judge them:

    Romans 1:28-32 - And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

    Without God in their knowledge, the unjust and filthy will continue to be unjust and filthy and the wicked will continue to do wickedly, but the wise who understand God's word and gain wisdom through the Holy Spirit will continue to be righteous and holy.

    The following verse is similar, where the spiritually discerned can hear and continue to hear, but those who are rebellious refuse to hear the Lord's warnings because they have hardened their hearts and thus are spiritually deaf:

    Ezekiel 3:27 - But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

    God's servants are a "fragrance of Christ" to God as they share His word, being an "aroma of death" leading to death for those perishing, but life leading to life for those saved. In other words, God's word generally hardens the heart of the unrepentant and they will continue to get worse save a miracle, while the truth prods the heart of the repentant that leads to salvation and eternal life:

    2 Corinthians 2:14-16 - Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
    2 Timothy 3:13-15 - But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    The following commentary adds more clarity to our verse of discussion:

      "For those who have been made righteous (are right and holy) in Christ ... the decree is, let them continue forever to be! On the other hand, for those who have been enlightened here by this book of Revelation but are still determined to reject Christ's love and salvation the decree is, let them continue forever to be! (unjust still ... filthy still). How sobering. When a heart grows hard towards the word of God and the Spirit of God who spoke it and applies it... there is no longer any hope. The time for tenderness and change of attitude towards God must take place before that point is reached... before the human heart has set itself like concrete against the things of God:"

      Hebrews 3:7-8 - Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness....'

      Source: Bible Book of Revelation

    Revelation 22:12 - "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."

    Jesus suddenly interjects with a sense of urgency in the dialogue between John and the angel who has been showing him the eternal city. He begins His declaration with "behold." Recall that "behold," means to "perceive" or "look," as discussed in Revelation 1:7. Jesus says that He is coming to "give to every one according to his work," but specifies that it is for His "reward" who is with Him. The Lord's own reward are His people whom He has redeemed:

    Isaiah 40:10-11 - Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.
    Isaiah 62:11-12 - Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world: "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Surely your salvation is coming; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.'" And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

    When Jesus comes next time, it will be to meet His Church in the air in the rapture before the Tribulation, and they will always be with the Lord after that:

    1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 - For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

    After the rapture, the Lord will judge the Church saints according to their works:

    1 Corinthians 3:8-15 - Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
    1 Corinthians 4:1-5 - Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.
    2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

    When Jesus returns to the earth after the Tribulation to establish His earthly kingdom, He will gather the Tribulation Saints and judge them and reward them according to their works:

    Matthew 16:27 - For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
    Revelation 11:17-18 - "...We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth."
    Revelation 20:4 - And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

    Likewise, the Lord will judge the saints of every dispensation, giving their reward according to each one's work:

    Job 34:11 - For He repays man according to his work, and makes man to find a reward according to his way.
    Psalms 62:12 - Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; for You render to each one according to his work.
    Proverbs 24:29 - Do not say, "I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work."
    Jeremiah 17:10 - I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.
    Jeremiah 32:19 - You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.
    Matthew 16:24-27 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works."
    Romans 2:4-11 - Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each on according to his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness - indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
    Hebrews 11:6 - But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    The Lord also will judge the wicked according to each one's work:

    Proverbs 11:18 - The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.
    Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 - Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
    Psalms 28:3-5 - Do not take me away with the wicked and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors; five them according to the work of their hands; render to them what they deserve. Because they do not regard the works of the LORD, nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy them and not build them up.
    Revelation 2:20-23 - Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
    Revelation 20:11-13 - Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

    But the context of the Lord's declaration to John is not about punishment of the wicked. The Lord says that He is with "My reward," which are His saints, and He is coming to give them their reward based on the works they did. Therefore, the rapture of the Church followed by the judgment seat of Christ is probably in view here, supported by the fact that in a few verses we see that it is the bride, or the Church who is with Him:

    Revelation 22:17 - And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

    When Jesus comes it will be "quickly." Recall from Revelation 22:7, the Greek word translated "quickly" means swift, speedily, or without delay. When Jesus returns He will come suddenly, so regardless of the dispensation, saints need to live with a sense of urgency and be about the Lord's business until He comes, and do as much work for the kingdom as possible in the time left before His return (Luke 19:11-26). This is true whether it is the Church saints living in the unknown time left before they are caught up to be with the Lord at the rapture, or the Tribulation Saints that become believers in the seven-year Tribulation before the Lord sets up His kingdom:

    2 Peter 3:11-14 - Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless....

    Revelation 22:13 - "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last."

    Recall that Jesus calls Himself both the "Alpha and Omega" and the "Beginning and the End" two other times in Revelation:

    Revelation 1:8 - "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
    Revelation 21:6 - And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts."

    As discussed in Revelation 1:8, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet are "alpha" and "omega." This is another way of saying "the beginning and the end," or the "first and the last" (Revelation 1:11). In Jewish tradition, "the alpha and omega" was a common expression used to depict the entirety of something. The title "The Beginning and the End" denotes the Lord's eternal existence and omnipresence; from eternity past to eternity future, as shown in the following passages:

    Isaiah 43:10-13 - "...Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, and there was no foreign god among you; therefore you are My witnesses," says the LORD, "that I am God. Indeed before the day was, I am He; and there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?"
    Isaiah 46:9-10 - Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.'

    The title "The Beginning and the End" also shows us that the Godhead accomplishes everything He begins through Jesus:

    John 1:1-3 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

    Revelation 22:14 - Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

    After the Lord's declaration about His return, the dialogue continues between John and the angel, where the angel tells John that those who do the Lord's commandments will be "blessed." Recall that the Greek word translated as "blessing" also means "happy." This is the last of seven blessings for the saints in Revelation, with two dedicated to those who keep God's prophetic word:

    Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
    Revelation 14:13 - Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them."
    Revelation 16:15 - "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."
    Revelation 19:9 - Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!' " And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."
    Revelation 20:6 - Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
    Revelation 22:7 - "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
    Revelation 22:14 - Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

    Those who keep the commandments are the saints:

    Revelation 14:12 - Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

    The commandments that the saints keep are 1) to believe that Jesus is Messiah and 2) to love one another:

    1 John 3:23-24 - And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
    1 John 4:19-21 - We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

    These are the commandments on which all other commandments are derived:

    Matthew 22:37-40 - Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

    So, those who do the Lord's commandments "overcome" and have the right to the blessings of the tree of life:

    Revelation 2:7 - "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."

    The "overcomer" is as follows:

    1 John 5:1-5 - Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    In other words, all who believe that Jesus is the son of God have the right to eat of the tree of life. The tree symbolizes eternal life without sin, having access to God through Christ (Romans 5:1-2), by obedience to God's commandments to believe that Jesus is His Son and to love one another:

      "The tree of life serves as a source from which sinless men obtain life. They do not attain eternal life in any sort of independent manner, but are completely and forever dependent upon God, the ultimate source of life. This dependence is reflected in their need to access the fruit from the tree for its life-giving qualities. The moment sin enters into the picture, as it did in the Garden and which it can never do again in eternity, independence of God results. When sin entered in the Garden of Eden and independence from God with it, God saw fit to remove access to the tree of life - the very channel by which He had chosen to dispense eternal life. The result was death. To summarize: sin brought independence from God which was manifest in being cut off from the tree of life resulting in death. In the eternal state, man will be sinless and have eternal life, but the creation and the creature will always and forever remain dependent upon the Creator as the source of life. The ongoing need to access the tree of life for eternity reflects the continued dependence of the creatures upon the Creator - a reality which God has chosen to manifest via the tree."

      Source: A Testimony of Jesus Christ - Volume 2: A Commentary on the Book of Revelation

    As discussed in Revelation 21:12-13, the gates of the eternal city provide access to the tree of life, where the gates represent Jesus (John 10:7-9), and the tree of life represents eternal life. Thus, believers in the "Lamb's Book of Life," those who do the commandments of God, also have a right to enter through the gates of the eternal city that give access to the tree of life, in contrast to unbelievers, which we will further discuss in the next section in Revelation 22:15:

    Revelation 21:24 - And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
    Revelation 22:15 - But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

    Incidentally, some other translations have "washed their robes" instead of "do His commandments" due to a difference in Greek texts:

      "Regarding the phrase those who do His commandments some translations have those who have washed their robes instead. The difference is between two ancient Greek words:"

      "HOIPLUNONTESTASSTOLAS (washed their robes) or..."

      "...HOIPOIOUNTESTASENTOLAS (do His commandments)"

      "This is a good example of how a copyist's error can cloud a text in rather minor ways, without affecting the essential meaning of the passage."

      Source: The Enduring Word Bible Commentary

    Here are two articles that explain the difference between the two Greek texts: "New Testament Manuscripts," and "Textual History of the Bible." Personally, I favor the Textus Receptus translations, and I believe the translation to "do His commandments" makes more sense over other texts that say all believers of all dispensations will wash their own robes to have access to the tree of life. This gives the impression that a person must work to gain eternal life, which is a contradiction to other Scriptures that make it clear that salvation is by grace alone.

    As discussed in Revelation 7:14, the washing of robes is ceremonial and not a work done to gain salvation. All saints will take part in the "first resurrection" and become priests of God, and will wear white garments (Revelation 3:5) made white by the blood of the Lamb. As priests, they go through the sanctification process and ceremonial cleansing in the washing of robes through the blood of the Lamb, but Christ Himself washes the robes of His Bride, who is in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit:

    1 Corinthians 6:8-11 - No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

    This understanding of the washing of robes as being ceremonial disputes the translation that all saints from all dispensations will wash their own robes to gain access to the tree of life which represents eternal life, but maintains the doctrine that salvation comes through the grace of Christ alone:

    Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

    Revelation 22:15 - But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

    As discussed in the last section, those who do the Lord's commandments are believers and they have access to the eternal city and the tree of life which represents eternal life made possible through Christ's work on the cross. In addition to the tree of life, believers, or overcomers, inherit all things in the eternal age, but those who reject Christ will become forever characterized and judged by the sin they practice, because they are not redeemed by the blood of the Lamb:

    Revelation 21:7-8 - "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

    The angel gives John a truncated list of the sinners whose inheritance is the lake of fire versus eternal life, drawing a comparison this time between those who have access to the eternal city and those who do not:

    A scavenging canine;
    a spiritual predator who feeds off others (figuratively)*
    Isaiah 56:10-11 - His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yes, they are greedy dogs which never have enough. And they are shepherds who cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, from his own territory.

    Philippians 3:2 - Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
    Poisoner, magician* Revelation 9:20-21 - But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
    Sexually Immoral
    Fornicator, prostitute, whoremonger* 1 Corinthians 5:11 - But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner - not even to eat with such a person.

    Hebrews 13:4 - Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
    Assassin, committing unjustified intentional homicide* Acts 7:52-53 - "Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it."
    Worship or serve false gods* 1 Corinthians 10:6-7 - Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play."
    Deceitful, give false witness* Acts 6:13-14 - They also set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us."

    Revelation 2:2 - "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars...."

    * Source of definitions: Biblehub

    Paul gives similar lists of the unrighteous, characterized by the sin they practice, but it is in the context of who will not enter the kingdom after the Tribulation. Note that the righteous are not sinless, but upon salvation they become righteous through Christ (Romans 5:12-21). God deals with sin in the believer's life as a Father chastising His son (Hebrews 12:1-11):

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
    Ephesians 5:3-5 - But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
    1 Timothy 1:8-11 - But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

    What it all boils down to is that only those whose names are written in the "Lamb's Book of Life," having eternal life through the Lamb, have access to the Lord and to the eternal city, but those who reject God are not redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and go to eternal judgment in the lake of fire, not having access to eternal life or the eternal city:

    Revelation 21:27 - But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
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