We have reached the end of the Church Year. The introit for this Sunday begins with these words: "We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness."
The gradual begins with these words: "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation."
And the collect begins with these words: "Lord God, Heavenly Father, send forth your Son, we pray, that He may lead home His bride, the Church, that we with all the redeemed may enter into your eternal kingdom."
With special emphasis on this day we think of our eternal home. Our attention is directed to the final words from the Revelation of John.
Compare this verse with 1:1. Both have "to show to His servants the things which much happen to you." The whole Book of Revelation contains much warning and comfort. There are many passages of beautiful Gospel. The Lord is constantly comforting us with reference to the second coming. He says: "I am coming soon." He comes often in judgments. He comes constantly in His Word. And the end of all things is constantly imminent. His words are trustworthy and true. Look at 19:9 and 21:5 where similar things are said.
AAT translates: "You can trust these words. They are true." These words refer immediately to all the words of the Book of Revelation. People sometimes have a tendency to think that Revelation contains dreams and mere fantasies. But God says: "You can trust these words. They are true."
Furthermore, these words pertain to the entire Bible. About the whole Bible God says: "You can trust these words. They are true."
Franzmann: As Christ Himself is trustworthy and true, 3:14; 9:11.
Mounce: They are worthy of belief because they correspond to reality.
Kretzmann: Who spoke these words? These words may have been spoken by an angel who was the guide of John in his vision of the Holy City above, but their content seems to make it more plausible that they were spoken by the Lord Himself.
Mounce: The difficulty of identifying speakers is only superficial because ultimately we hear the voice of Christ, whether echoed by the angel or recorded by the prophet.
Lenski: By being commissioned by God, the angel's testimony is really God's own.
KJV and NKJV do not translate the words "the spirits" as does our text. They translate: "and the Lord God of the holy prophets, etc." TEV takes this of the Holy Spirit: "And the Lord God, who gives his Spirit to the prophets, etc." The other versions do not take it this way. They understand it of the spirits of the individual prophets.
Mounce:The plural 'spirits' would indicate that the reference is not to the Holy Spirit. The spirits of the prophets are the 'natural faculties of the prophets, raised and quickened by the Holy Spirit. It is unnecessary to decide between Old Testament or New Testament prophets because in either case the same prophetic function is being carried out. All true prophecy originates with God and comes through men moved by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21.
Lenski: The Lord is the God who uses the spirits of the prophets when communicating prophecy to his people . . . . God used John's spirit as he had used the spirits of all the prophets . . . . The apostles were prophets in the same sense as the Old Testament prophets.
All Christians must take the words of the Book of Revelation seriously. There is a necessity in the verse. Here the necessity of God's plan in history. No person can change what God has ordained. And the time is "soon."
The word "behold" always arrests attention. It means something like "Note this!"
"I am coming soon" occurs five times in Revelation at 2:16; 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20.
Franzmann: The closing words of the first voice 'I am coming soon' make it clear that it is the voice of the returning Lord Himself.
Mounce: Matthew 24:42-44 counsels every generation to be on the alert for the return of the Son of man.
Lenski: Jesus' coming is attested by thousands of judgments which occurred during all these centuries, and its impending final judgment will prove the consummation.
Now follows a beatitude. There are seven in the Book of Revelation: 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; and 22:14.
"Blessing" in its cognates in the New Testament always denote the blessedness of the redeemed child of God.
"Keeps" in the sense of constantly serving. This is present tense of habitual action.
"The words of the prophecy of this book" refer, of course, in the first instance, to the Book of Revelation. But we agree with Kretzmann.
Kretzmann: Blessed, eternally happy therefore, would be every person that would hear, heed and keep these words, just as they were given to John to write. It is true of this book of prophecy, as well as of all the other words of the Lord.
Lenski: 'To keep' as one keeps a priceless treasure, letting no one take it from him. That means to believe 'the words of this book' as words that are faithful and genuine and, believing them, to live accordingly.
There is a paragraph here because we have a change of subject. Note the emphatic "I." Of all the version perhaps NEB brings this out the best: "It is I, John," etc.
The following words mean "the one who was hearing and seeing these things." John is stressing the fact that he was truly a witness.
"These things" is all the things mentioned in verses 6 and 7. Note the similarity between 19:10 and verses 8 and 9 here.
Franzmann: Again, look at 19:10, the prophet is so overwhelmed by what he hears and sees that he falls at the feet of the angel who mediated the word and the vision in order to pay him divine honors.
Kretzmann: John was overcome by the wonder of all the things that he had seen and heard in the various visions that had been presented to him; he felt the utter insignificance of man in the face of such mighty revelations.
Lenski: He twice mistook an angel for Christ himself . . . . John had just heard this glorious being say, 'And lo, I am coming quickly!' This together with all else that he had heard and seen, this as the climax of all else, made him feel sure that Jesus was now, indeed, before him. Mistaken in 19:10, John felt that he was now not mistaken.
The angel speaks again. We have "do not do it" again as in 19:10. "Not" with the present imperative means to cease doing what is already being done. The translations are interesting: "See that you do not do that." "You must not do that!" "Be careful! Don't do that!"
The angel calls himself a fellow-subordinate of two groups: of the prophets and of all Christians. The angel is part of the fellowship of those in the Una Sancta. His final word to John is: "Worship the well-known God!"
When we recognize the many judgments of God in history for what they really are, when we have the proper attitude toward the Word of God, then we are worshipping God.
Franzmann: Again the angel checks the prophet's impulse to worship him, puts himself on a level with the speakers and hearers of the prophetic word, and bids the prophet worship Him to whom alone all worship is due.
Though the speaker is likely the same as that of verse 9, we have a change in subject matter. There, we would insert a new paragraph here.
Another prohibition. This time it is "no" with the aorist subjunctive, indicating a prohibition of something not yet begun. Not to seal here means to keep from revealing or publishing.
Lenski: Not a seal is a litotes, expressing negatively what is intended positively: 'Publish the words of the prophecy of this book!'
Franzmann: He forbids the prophet to do what the prophet Daniel in his day had been bidden to do, to seal up the words of prophecy and so reserve his word for some far-off future day, Daniel 8:26; 12:4. John's day is not the same as Daniel's day, and John's word in his day is to be heard at once while there is yet time.
Kretzmann: In the case of Daniel the opposite command was given, namely, to seal up his prophecy. But the revelations that had been made to John were to be fulfilled very soon, and the believers would be able to recognize their fulfillment within a short time, look at 1:3.
Mounce: The speaker in verses 10 and 11 is probably the angel, but it matter little because behind all the instruction and admonition of the Epilogue, verses 6-21, lies the will of the risen Christ . . . . The crisis is imminent and John is NOT to seal up the prophecy of the book. Since 'the time is at hand,' the message of judgment and hope is to be proclaimed among the churches.
On the thought of this verse look at Ezekiel 3:27 and Daniel 12:10. Note the construction of the sentence: First we have two items indicating all unbelievers and then two items indicating all believers. All four are indicated by the article, each indicating a group. All four are followed by the adverb "who." The first and third are contrasted: the unjust and the just. Then second and fourth are contrasted: the filthy and the holy. For the first and third we have aorist active imperatives. For the second and fourth we have aorist passive imperatives. We offer a literal translation:
Let the unjust one continue to practice injustice and let the filthy one continue to be made filthy. Let the just man continue to do righteousness and let the holy one continue to be sanctified.
In all four cases we have classes whose life has become a habitual way of living.
Mounce: From the perspective of the Seer the end is so close that there is no longer time to alter the character and habits of men . . . The time arrives when change is impossible because character has already been determined by a lifetime of habitual action.
Lenski: The thought is similar to Matthew 13:30 'let both grow until the harvest!' If the unrighteous and the filthy will not be warned by the words of the prophecy of this book, the final revelation of God, there is nothing more to be done; let him go on, his judgment is at hand. But the righteous and the holy, with the last words of God in this book ringing in his ears -- let him go on, his judgment is also sure and rapidly coming. Look at 2 Timothy 3:13,14; Ezekiel 3:27.
Franzmann: Now all men, the evildoer, the righteous, the holy, are to hear and know whither they are moving, whether in their filthiness or in their holiness; the times of ignorance are past.
Kretzmann: There has been warning enough given to the unbelievers, to all the enemies of Christ, to all the wicked and filthy.
For the second time, see verse 7, we have the words "I am coming soon." These are plainly the words of the Lord Jesus. Here He plainly means His coming for final judgment. On this verse look at Matthew 25:31-46.
Kretzmann:It is the last hour of this world, and the return of the Lord to judgment may be expected at any time . . . These works indicate a state of faith or a state of unbelief. . . He is a source of unfailing comfort to the believers, but one of terror to all those that have rejected His salvation.
Franzmann: All men are moving, not toward a distant, dimly apprehended future but toward Him who draws near soon, to judge and to reward. . . This language is reminiscent of the language of the Lord God in Isaiah 40:10.
Mounce: The distribution of rewards on the basis of works is taught throughout Scripture. Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 2:6; 1 Peter 1:17 . . . . It is the quality of a man's life which provides the ultimate indication of what he really believes.
The Apology, Tappert 163.370-374: Our opponents urge that good works properly merit eternal life, since Paul says, Romans 2:6, 'He will render to every man according to his works', and verse 10, 'Glory and honor and peace for every one who does good.' John 5:29, 'Those who have done good will come forth to the resurrection of life'; Matthew 25:35, 'I was hungry and you gave me food,' etc. These passages and all others like them where works are praised in the scriptures must be taken to mean not only outward works but also the faith of the heart, since the Scriptures do not speak of hypocrisy but of righteousness in the heart and of its fruits. Whenever law and works are mentioned, we must know that Christ, the mediator, should not be excluded. He is the end of the law, Romans 10:4, and he himself says, 'Apart from me you can do nothing', John 15:5. By this rule, as we have said earlier, all passages on works can be interpreted. Therefore, when eternal life is granted to works, it is granted to the justified. None can do good works except the justified, who are led by the Spirit of Christ; nor can good works please God without the mediator Christ and faith, according to Hebrews 11:6, 'Without faith it is impossible to please God.' When Paul says, 'He will render to every man according to his works' we must understand not merely outward works but the entire righteousness or unrighteousness. That is to say, 'Gory for him who does good,' namely for the righteous man. 'You gave me food' is cited as fruit and evidence of the righteousness of the heart and of faith, and for this reason eternal life is granted to righteousness. In this way the Scriptures lump together the righteousness of the heart and its fruit. They often mention the fruit to make it clearer to the inexperienced and to show that a new life and new birth are required, not hypocrisy. Such a new birth comes by faith amid penitence.
Mounce: in 1:8 and 21:6 it was God who identified himself as the Alpha and Omega. The risen Christ now applies the title to himself. Its meaning is essentially the same as that of the two following designations -- 'the first and the last, the beginning and the end' -- the first of which Christ has already applied to himself in 1:17 and 2:8. The names set him apart from the entire created order. He is unlimited in any temporal sense, and in that all things are found both in the Father and in the Son the attributes of the former belong to the latter as well.
Lenski: This signed by the Lord's own threefold signature: the Alpha and the Omega means God's REVELATION from the first to the last; the First and the Law means all HISTORY from start to finish; The Beginning and the End means all of God's saving WORK from inception to consummation. See 1:8, 17; 2:6; 21:6.