REVELATION CHAPTER 22
(v. 12) "[Jesus said] 'Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
(v. 13) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End
(v. 14) Blessed are those who wash their robes,
[***alt: blessed are they that do His commandments]
that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."
(v. 15) Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."
***The manuscripts that the King James Translators favored read 'poiountes tas entolas autou', rendered ..'that keep on doing His commandments', but other manuscripts read 'plunontes tas stolas auton', rendered 'that keep on washing their robes'.
[Bruce M Metzger, United Bible Societies, states, ('The Textual Commentary on The Greek New Testament' states, p. 767)]:
" 'poiountes tas entolas autou' =
[This] reading ['keep...commandments'] appears to be a scribal emendation [alteration for 'improvement'], for elsewhere the author uses the expression 'tapein tas entolas' [= also 'keep...commandments']. Moreover, the prepossessions [predispositions] of the scribes would have favored 'poiountes tas entolas' ['keep on doing His commandments'] rather than 'plunontes tas stolas' ['keep on washing their robes']".
[Bob Wilkin states, 'Who Are The Outsiders? Revelation 22:14-17']:
'''This article is a follow-up to my article in the last issue on Rev 21:8. Some pastors and theologians use Rev 21:8 and 22:15 to try and prove that all "true" Christians persevere in the faith. In my previous article I showed that Rev 21:8 does not support that view. In this article I will show the same things regarding Rev 22:15.
(v. 15) "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."
REWARDS FOR FAITHFUL BELIEVERS
In light of the context, it is obvious that believers are in view here. However, it is a mistake to conclude that all believers are meant. Not all believers can be described as "those who do His commandments." Jesus did not take it for granted that even the Apostles would obey Him! He said to them, "If you love Me, keep my commandments" John 14:15), and, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14). Similarly, in Revelation chapters 2-3 the Lord makes it clear that being a victorious overcoming believer is not guaranteed (see, for example, 2:2-7, 10, 25-28; 3:11-12).
Two things are promised to the one who obeys the Lord as a characteristic pattern of life (no one obeys perfectly, cf. 1 John 1:8, 10):
(1) the right to the tree of life and
(2) the right to enter into the New Jerusalem through its gates. At first reading these may seem to be things which are true of all believers. However, that is not the case.
WHAT IS THE "RIGHT TO THE TREE OF LIFE"?
It is the right to eat its fruits.
[Compare Rev 2:7]:
"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life."
Keep in mind that nothing is required for an eternally-secure person to remain saved. It is ridiculous to think that believers will need to eat fruit from the tree of life to retain their spiritual life.
What then is to be gained by eating this fruit? On the one hand, this fruit will be a wonderful delicacy which will be a delight to eat. On the other hand, the tree is called "the tree of life" for a reason. It will evidently grant to the believer who eats of it a special abundance of life. Today when we eat foods that are good for us we feel especially energized and encouraged. This will certainly be true of the food from the tree of life!
It is true, of course, that the tree of life was in the Garden of Eden as well. However, its fruit would not have had the same effect on fallen people with ungloried bodies as it will have in eternity on saints with glorified bodies. The tree of life will only grant abundant life to those with glorified bodies. According to Gen 3:22 the reason God removed Adam from the garden was "lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever." Had he eaten that fruit Adam would have lived forever in a state of separation from God (spiritual death). Of course, since the tree of life was never intended for that terrible purpose, God took it away from man until the eternal kingdom.
The second reward to the obedient believer is the right to enter the New Jerusalem by its gates. Several things must be born in mind here. For one thing, most likely all believers will be going in and out of the New Jerusalem from time to time. Some believers in eternity will have their primary dwelling in the New Jerusalem. Surely those people will sometimes venture outside its walls, visit the rest of the new earth, and return. And, many saints will not live in the New Jerusalem! According to Rev 21:24 the new earth will contain many nations and the kings of those nations will travel to the New Jerusalem to take tribute to the King of kings. It is likely that all who live in these nations will make trips to the New Jerusalem.
For another thing, the gates will not be the only way by which someone could enter the city. For example, people might travel by air, flying over the walls. Or, they might come in on a subway, going under the walls. It is even conceivable in light of John 20 that people might travel right through the walls!
Finally, we know from the OT that the gates of ancient cities were places of honor. The respected elders of the community were allowed to sit in the gates and it was from there that they rendered judgments in legal matters (cf. Gen 19:1; 22:17; Deut 22:15; 25:7; Ruth 4:1-12).
Thus being able to eat of the tree of life and to enter the New Jerusalem by its gates will be rewards reserved solely for believers who were victorious in their experience in this life.
[Rev 22:15 cont.]:
(v. 15) "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."
EXCLUSION FOR ALL UNBELIEVERS (v 15)
"Verse 15 says, 'But outside are the dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.'
While the word outside might sound like it refers to those outside the New Jerusalem but yet still on the new earth, that is clearly not the case. The Lord is speaking of those who are entirely outside the kingdom.
Three lines of evidence suggest this interpretation. First, there will be no sinners in the eternal kingdom. None. Verse 15 is describing the condition of people at that time, not their experience in this life. No believer with a glorified body could be described as being a dog, a sorcerer, a sexually immoral person, a murderer, an idolater, or a liar. While those things were true of giants of the faith like David (2 Samuel) and Solomon (1 Kings 11) in their experiences prior to death, they could never be true of saints with glorified bodies.
Second, Rev 21:27 says that only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will enter "it." The word it there most naturally refers to the kingdom since there will be no one anywhere on the New Earth whose name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life. All such people will be in the lake of fire (cf. Rev 20:15).
Third, Rev 21:8 refers to many of the same sins as mentioned in Rev 22:15 (i.e., murderers, sexually immoral, idolaters, and liars) and it clearly assigns the fate of people so designated as "the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Unbelievers will forever remain unjustified sinners who are forever excluded from God's kingdom.
"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.'"
INCLUSION FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE (V 17)
'''Verse 17 reads, "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who thirst come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."
Here once again is the free offer of eternal life. In the closing verses of the NT we find another free offer of the water of life. No strings are attached.
Not only is there no reason to interpret v. 15 as teaching that all "true" believers will persevere, but such an interpretation is directly contradicted by v. 17. Eternal life is free!
Revelation 22:15 in no way proves that all Christians live obedient, victorious lives. Neither does it prove that no Christian will be a murderer or a liar or an adulterer. It doesn't have anything to do with those issues at all. What it is saying is that the kingdom will contain no sinners. As John says, "When He is revealed, [then] we shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2). Amen! "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20).'''
[Rev 22:18 (NASB)]:
"I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;"
Evidently the canon of Scripture is closed for this age, it being the last book of the 66 books of the Bible.
[Rev. 22:19 (KJV)]:
"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."
[Rev 22:19 (NIV)]:
"19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. "
A) BOOK OF LIFE VS TREE OF LIFE
The Greek manuscript evidence for the reading "book of life" (biblou tes zoes) is hard to trace, for although it appears in the Textus Receptus, another reading, "tree of life" (tou xulou tes zoes), is in UBS-4 (without comment) and in the Majority Text in the NKJV Interlinear.
Tree of life" appears outside this passage a total of three times: 2:7, 22:2, and 22:14. The "tree" appears to be a symbol of reward, while the "book" is symbolic of a person's very salvation. Notice the difference between 2:7 and 3:5 --the former pictures a believer who has already entered the holy city and is receiving fruit from the tree as a reward, while the latter pictures one just getting to enter the city (putting on "white raiment," which is the preparation for entering into His joys; cf. Matt. 22:11) and being assured of his entrance in the words, "I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
For the book of Revelation Erasmus borrowed a copy from his friend Reuchlin, dating from the twelfth century, this lacked the final leaf, which had contained the last six verses of the book. For these verses Erasmus depended upon Jerome's Latin Vulgate, translating these verses into Greek. The corruption of "tree" into "book" had occured earlier in the translation of the Latin text when a scribe accidentally miscopied the correct word "lingo" ("tree") as "libro" ("book").
[William W. Combs, ERASMUS AND THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS *
"Because Codex 1r was missing its last page and thus the last six verses of Revelation (22:1621), Erasmus retranslated these verses from the Latin Vulgate, and he honestly admitted in the Annotationes that he had done so. But again, this produced, by my count, twenty errors in his Greek NT which are still in the TR today. They have no Greek manuscript support whatsoever."
The 'Tree of Life' rendering in Rev 22:19 does create a problem if it is the correct one because it infers that if you make a purposeful doctrinal error then you go to hell. Now how many doctrinal errors have you and I committed, purposefully - can you say you have a perfect record in understanding the bible? The rest of the bible teaches that the only way to not have a part in the Book of Life is to not believe in Christ as Savior. So I might expect to miss out on a full sharing in the Tree of Life. But Eph 1:13-14 says that I will not miss out in my share in the Book of Life. Funny term: share in the Book of Life rather than being written in or not written in. The context screams Tree not Book. There is no sharing in the Book of Life, you are either written in or not at the end of time, which determines your eternal destiny: heaven or hell, respectively.
Some say "Book of Life" is found in the Greek manuscripts noted by H. C. Hoskier as 57 and 141.
[H. C. Hoskier, Concerning The Text Of The Apocalypse, London: Quaritch, 1929; vol. 1, 474-477 and vol. 2, 454 and 634.) ]:
(info. received from Debbie Hunn, Dallas Theological Seminary Library, 3909 Swiss Ave Dallas TX 75204 phone: 214-841-3752 fax: 214-841-3745 firstname.lastname@example.org):
'''Hoskier's second volume, p. 634, does use "book of life" instead of "tree of life." '''
This is the (Greek) text of Stephen's third edition of 1550, the text with which all Hoskier's collations are made. However, Hoskier's lists manuscript evidence for "tree" and does not appear to list much evidence for "book."
The King James Version also says "book of life" because the Textus Receptus says it. So there is some manuscript evidence for it. It appears to be little enough, however, that the Nestle-Aland critical text (ed. xxvii) does not even mention it.
The New King James itself, which follows the old King James pretty closely, differs with it on this verse by using "tree" instead of "book."
Manuscript evidence must favor "tree" over "book." '''