In this chapter we have,
I. A further description of the heavenly state of the church,
II. A confirmation of this and all the other visions of this book,
III. The conclusion,
The New Jerusalem.
A. D. 95.
1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as
crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the
river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner
of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves
of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and
of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle,
neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and
they shall reign for ever and ever.
The heavenly state which was before described as a city, and called the
new Jerusalem, is here described as a paradise, alluding to the earthly
paradise which was lost by the sin of the first Adam; here is another
paradise restored by the second Adam. A paradise in a city, or a whole
city in a paradise! In the first paradise there were only two persons
to behold the beauty and taste the pleasures of it; but in this second
paradise whole cities and nations shall find abundant delight and
satisfaction. And here observe,
I. The river of paradise. The earthly paradise was well watered: no
place can be pleasant or fruitful that is not so. This river is
1. By its fountain-head--the throne of God and the Lamb. All our
springs of grace, comfort, and glory, are in God; and all our streams
from him are through the mediation of the Lamb.
2. By its quality--pure and clear as crystal. All the streams of
earthly comfort are muddy; but these are clear, salutary, and
refreshing, giving life, and preserving life, to those who drink of
II. The tree of life, in this paradise. Such a tree there was in the
This far excels it. And now, as to this tree, observe,
1. The situation of it--in the midst of the street, and on either
side the river; or, as might have been better rendered, in the
midst between the terrace-walk and the river. This tree of life is
fed by the pure waters of the river that comes from the throne of God.
The presence and perfections of God furnish out all the glory and
blessedness of heaven.
2. The fruitfulness of this tree.
(1.) It brings forth many sorts of fruit--twelve sorts, suited
to the refined taste of all the saints.
(2.) It brings forth fruit at all times--yields its fruit every
month. This tree is never empty, never barren; there is always
fruit upon it. In heaven there is not only a variety of pure and
satisfying pleasures, but a continuance of them, and always fresh.
(3.) The fruit is not only pleasant, but wholesome. The presence of God
in heaven is the health and happiness of the saints; there they find in
him a remedy for all their former maladies, and are preserved by him in
the most healthful and vigorous state.
III. The perfect freedom of this paradise from every thing that is evil
There shall be no more curse; no accursed
one--katanathema, no serpent there, as there was in
the earthly paradise. Here is the great excellency of this paradise.
The devil has nothing to do there; he cannot draw the saints from
serving God to be subject to himself, as he did our first parents, nor
can he so much as disturb them in the service of God.
IV. The supreme felicity of this paradisiacal state.
1. There the saints shall see the face of God; there they shall enjoy
the beatific vision.
2. God will own them, as having his seal and name on their foreheads.
3. They shall reign with him for ever; their service shall be
not only freedom but honour and dominion.
4. All this shall be with perfect knowledge and joy. They shall be full
of wisdom and comfort, continually walking in the light of the Lord;
and this not for a time, but for ever and ever.
The New Jerusalem.
A. D. 95.
6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true:
and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto
his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the
sayings of the prophecy of this book.
8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had
heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the
angel which showed me these things.
9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy
fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them
which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy
of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is
filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let
him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to
give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first
and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may
have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the
gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and
murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these
things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David,
and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that
heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And
whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the
prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things,
God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of
this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of
life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are
written in this book.
We have here a solemn ratification of the contents of this book, and
particularly of this last vision (though some think it may not only
refer to the whole book, but to the whole New Testament, yea, to the
whole Bible, completing and confirming the can on of scripture); and
1. This is confirmed by the name and nature of that God who gave out
these discoveries: he is the Lord God, faithful and true, and so
are all his sayings.
2. By the messengers he chose, to reveal these things to the world; the
holy angels showed them to holy men of God; and God would not employ
his saints and angels in deceiving the world.
3. They will soon be confirmed by their accomplishment: they are things
that must shortly be done; Christ will make haste, he will come
quickly, and put all things out of doubt; and then those will prove
the wise and happy men who have believed and kept his words.
4. By the integrity of that angel who had been the apostle's guide and
interpreter in these visions; this integrity was such that he not only
refused to accept religious adoration from John, but once and again
reproved him for it. He who was so tender of the honour of God, and so
displeased with what was a wrong to God, would never come in his name
to lead the people of God into mere dreams and delusions; and it is a
still further confirmation of the sincerity of this apostle that he
confesses his own sin and folly, into which he had now again relapsed,
and he leaves this his failing on perpetual record: this shows he was a
faithful and an impartial writer.
5. By the order given to leave the book of the prophecy open, to be
perused by all, that they might labour to understand it, that they
might make their objections against it, and compare the prophecy with
the events. God here deals freely and openly with all; he does not
speak in secret, but calls every one to witness to the declarations
6. By the effect this book, thus kept open, will have upon men; those
that are filthy and unjust will take occasion thence to be more so, but
it will confirm, strengthen, and further sanctify those that are
upright with God; it will be a savour of life to some and of death to
others, and so will appear to be from God,
7. It will be Christ's rule of judgment at the great day; he will
dispense rewards and punishments to men according as their works agree
or disagree with the word of God; and therefore that word itself must
needs be faithful and true.
8. It is the word of him who is the author, finisher, and rewarder of
the faith and holiness of his people,
He is the first and the last, and the same from first to last,
and so is his word too; and he will by this word give to his people,
who conform themselves to it, a right to the tree of life, and
an entrance into heaven; and this will be a full confirmation of the
truth and authority of his word, since it contains the title and
evidence of that confirmed state of holiness and happiness that remains
for his people in heaven.
9. It is a book that condemns and excludes from heaven all wicked,
unrighteous persons, and particularly those that love and make
and therefore can never be itself a lie.
10. It is confirmed by the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit
of prophecy. And this Jesus, as God, is the root of David,
though, as man, his offspring--a person in whom all uncreated and
created excellencies meet, too great and too good to deceive his
churches and the world. He is the fountain of all light, the bright
and the morning star, and as such has given to his churches this
morning light of prophecy, to assure them of the light of that perfect
day which is approaching.
11. It is confirmed by an open and general invitation to all to come
and partake of the promises and privileges of the gospel, those streams
of the water of life; these are tendered to all who feel in their souls
a thirst which nothing in this world can quench.
12. It is confirmed by the joint testimony of the Spirit of God, and
that gracious Spirit that is in all the true members of the church of
God; the Spirit and the bride join in testifying the truth and
excellency of the gospel.
13. It is confirmed by a most solemn sanction, condemning and cursing
all who should dare to corrupt or change the word of God, either by
adding to it or taking from it,
He that adds to the word of God draws down upon himself all the
plagues written in this book; and he who takes any thing away from
it cuts himself off from all the promises and privileges of it. This
sanction is like a flaming sword, to guard the canon of the scripture
from profane hands. Such a fence as this God set about the law
and the whole Old Testament
and now in the most solemn manner about the whole Bible, assuring us
that it is a book of the most sacred nature, divine authority, and of
the last importance, and therefore the peculiar care of the great
A. D. 95.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come
quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
We have now come to the conclusion of the whole, and that in three
I. Christ's farewell to his church. He seems now, after he has been
discovering these things to his people on earth, to take leave of them,
and return to heaven; but he parts with them in great kindness, and
assures them it shall not be long before he comes again to them:
Behold, I come quickly. As when he ascended into heaven, after
his resurrection, he parted with a promise of his gracious presence, so
here he parts with a promise of a speedy return. If any say, "Where is
the promise of his coming, when so many ages have passed since this was
written?" let them know he is not slack to his people, but
long-suffering to his enemies: his coming will be sooner than they are
aware, sooner than they are prepared, sooner than they desire; and to
his people it will be seasonable. The vision is for an appointed time,
and will not tarry. He will come quickly; let this word be
always sounding in our ear, and let us give all diligence that we may
be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.
II. The church's hearty echo to Christ's promise,
1. Declaring her firm belief of it: Amen, so it is, so it shall
2. Expressing her earnest desire of it: Even so, come, Lord Jesus;
make hast, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or like a young hart on
the mountain of spices. Thus beats the pulse of the church, thus
breathes that gracious Spirit which actuates and informs the mystical
body of Christ; and we should never be satisfied till we find such a
spirit breathing in us, and causing us to look for the blessed hope,
and glorious appearance of the great God and our Saviour Jesus
Christ. This is the language of the church of the first-born, and
we should join with them, often putting ourselves in mind of his
promise. What comes from heaven in a promise should be sent back to
heaven in a prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus, put an end to this state
of sin, sorrow, and temptation; gather thy people out of this present
evil world, and take them up to heaven, that state of perfect purity,
peace, and joy, and so finish thy great design, and fulfil all that
word in which thou hast caused thy people to hope."
III. The apostolical benediction, which closes the whole: The grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen. Here observe,
1. The Bible ends with a clear proof of the Godhead of Christ, since
the Spirit of God teaches the apostle to bless his people in the name
of Christ, and to beg from Christ a blessing for them, which is a
proper act of adoration.
2. Nothing should be more desired by us than that the grace of Christ
may be with us in this world, to prepare us for the glory of Christ in
the other world. It is by his grace that we must be kept in a joyful
expectation of his glory, fitted for it, and preserved to it; and his
glorious appearance will be welcome and joyful to those that are
partakers of his grace and favour here; and therefore to this most
comprehensive prayer we should all add our hearty Amen, most
earnestly thirsting after greater measures of the gracious influences
of the blessed Jesus in our souls, and his gracious presence with us,
till glory has perfected all his grace towards us, for he is a sun and
a shield, he gives grace and glory, and no good thing will he
withhold from those that walk uprightly.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Revelation' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".