Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The river of the water of life, Rev 22:1. The tree of life, Rev 22:2. There is no curse nor darkness in the city of God, Rev 22:3-5. The angel assures John of the truth of what he has heard, and states that the time of the fulfillment is at hand, Rev 22:6, Rev 22:7. He forbids John to worship him, Rev 22:8, Rev 22:9. Again he states that the time of the fulfillment of the prophecies of this book is at hand, Rev 22:10-12. Christ is Alpha and Omega, Rev 22:13. The blessedness of those who keep his commandments; they enter through the gates into the city, Rev 22:14. All the unholy are excluded, Rev 22:15. Christ sent his angel to testify of those things in the Churches, Rev 22:16. The invitation of the Spirit and the bride, Rev 22:17. A curse denounced against those who shall either add to or take away front the prophecies of this book, Rev 22:18, Rev 22:19. Christ cometh quickly, Rev 22:20. The apostolical benediction, Rev 22:21.
Pure river of water of life - This is evidently a reference to the garden of paradise, and the river by which it was watered; and there is also a reference to the account, Eze 47:7-12. Water of life, as we have seen before, generally signifies spring or running water; here it may signify incessant communications of happiness proceeding from God.
In the midst of the street of it - That is, of the city which was described in the preceding chapter.
The tree of life - An allusion to Gen 2:9. As this tree of life is stated to be in the streets of the city, and on each side of the river, tree must here be an enallage of the singular for the plural number, trees of life, or trees which yielded fruit by which life was preserved. The account in Ezekiel is this: "And by the river, upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade - it shall bring forth new fruit, according to his months - and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine;" Eze 47:12.
Twelve manner of fruits - Καρπους δωδεκα· Twelve fruits; that is, fruit twelve times in the year, as is immediately explained, yielded her fruit every month. As this was a great and spacious city, one fountain was not sufficient to provide water for it, therefore a river is mentioned; a great river, by which it was sufficiently watered. Some think that by this tree of life the Gospel is indicated; the twelve fruits are the twelve apostles; and the leaves are Gospel doctrines by which the nations - the Gentiles, are healed of the disease of sin. But this seems to be a fanciful interpretation.
No more curse - Instead of καταναθεμα, curse, the best MSS., versions, etc., read καταθεμα cursed person. As there shall be no more sinning against God, so there shall be no more curse of God upon the people; for they shall be all his servants, and serve him. Our first parents came under the curse by sinning against their Maker in paradise; these shall never apostatize, therefore neither they nor the earth shall be cursed.
See his face - Enjoy what is called the beatific vision; and they shall exhibit the fullest evidence that they belong entirely to him, for his name shall be written on their foreheads.
There shall be no night there - See the 23d (note) and 25th (note) verses of the preceding chapter (Rev 21:23 and Rev 21:25).
These sayings are faithful and true - See the preceding chapter, Rev 21:5. From this verse to the end of the chapter is reckoned the epilogue of this book.
1. The angel affirms the truth of all that had been spoken, Rev 22:6-11.
2. Jesus Christ confirms what has been affirmed, and pledges himself for the fulfillment of all the prophecies contained in it, Rev 22:12-17.
3. John cautions his readers against adding or diminishing, and concludes with the apostolical blessing, Rev 22:18-21.
The things which must shortly be done - There are many sayings in this book which, if taken literally, would intimate that the prophecies delivered in the whole of the Apocalypse were to be fulfilled in a short time after their delivery to John; and this is a strong support for the scheme of Wetstein, and those who maintain that the prophecies of this book all referred to those times in which the apostle lived, and to the disturbances which then took place, not only among the Jews, but in the Roman empire. What they all mean, and when and how they are to be fulfilled, God in heaven alone knows.
I fell down to worship - I prostrated myself before him as before a superior being, to express my gratitude, and give him thanks for the communications he had made. See on Rev 19:10 (note).
Seal not the sayings - Do not lay them up for future generations; they concern the present times; they must shortly come to pass, for the time is at hand. See above, Rev 22:6. What concerned the Jews was certainly at hand.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still - The time of fulfillment will come so suddenly that there will be but little space for repentance and amendment. What is done must be done instantly; and let him that is holy persevere, and hold fast what he has received.
Behold, I come quickly - I come to establish nay cause, comfort and support my followers, and punish the wicked.
I am Alpha and Omega - See on Rev 1:8 (note), Rev 1:18 (note).
Blessed are they that do his commandments - They are happy who are obedient.
That they may have right to the tree of life - The original is much more expressive, Ἱνα εσται ἡ εξουσια αυτων επι το ξυλον της ζωης· That they may have authority over the tree of life; an authority founded on right, this right founded on obedience to the commandments of God, and that obedience produced by the grace of God working in them. Without grace no obedience; without obedience no authority to the tree of life; without authority no right; without right no enjoyment: God's grace through Christ produces the good, and then rewards it as if all had been our own.
Without are dogs - All those who are uncircumcised in heart. The Jews call all the uncircumcised dogs. "Who is a dog? Ans. He who is not circumcised." Pirkey Elieser, chap. 29.
And sorcerers - See the note on Rev 21:8.
I Jesus - The Maker, the Redeemer, and Judge of all men.
Have sent mine angel - An especial messenger from heaven.
I am the root and the offspring of David - Christ is the root of David as to his Divine nature; for from that all the human race sprang, for he is the Creator of all things, and without him was nothing made which is made. And he is the offspring of David as to his human nature; for that he took of the stock of David, becoming thereby heir to the Jewish throne, and the only heir which then existed; and it is remarkable that the whole regal family terminated in Christ: and as He liveth for ever, he is the alone true David and everlasting King.
The bright and morning star - I am splendor and glory to my kingdom; as the morning star ushers in the sun, so shall I usher in the unclouded and eternal glories of the everlasting kingdom.
The Spirit and the bride - All the prophets and all the apostles; the Church of God under the Old Testament, and the Church of Christ under the New.
Say, Come - Invite men to Jesus, that by him they may be saved and prepared for this kingdom.
Let him that heareth - Let all who are privileged with reading and hearing the word of God, join in the general invitation to sinners.
Him that is athirst - He who feels his need of salvation, and is longing to drink of the living fountain.
And whosoever will - No soul is excluded: Jesus died for every man; every man may be saved; therefore let him who wills, who wishes for salvation, come and take the water of life freely - without money or price!
If any man shall add - Shall give any other meaning to these prophecies, or any other application of them than God intends, he, though not originally intended, shall have the plagues threatened in this book for his portion.
If any man shall take away - If any man shall lessen this meaning, curtail the sense, explain away the spirit and design, of these prophecies, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, etc. Thus Jesus Christ warns all those who consider this book to beware of indulging their own conjectures concerning it. I confess that this warning has its own powerful influence upon my mind, and has prevented me from indulging my own conjectures concerning its meaning, or of adopting the conjectures of others. These visions and threatenings are too delicate and awful a subject to trifle with, or even to treat in the most solemn manner, where the meaning is obscure. I must leave these things to time and event, the surest interpreters. No jot or tittle of Christ's word shall fall to the ground; all shall have its fulfillment in due time.
This is termed a revelation, but it is a revelation of symbols; an exhibition of enigmas, to which no particular solution is given, and to which God alone can give the solution.
Surely I come quickly - This may be truly said to every person in every age; Jesus the Judge is at the door!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus - The wish and desire of the suffering Church, and of all the followers of God, who are longing for the coming of his kingdom.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ - May the favor and powerful influence of Jesus Christ be with you all; you of the seven Churches, and the whole Church of Christ in every part of the earth, and through all the periods of time.
Instead of παντων ὑμων, you all, the most excellent MSS. and versions have παντων των ἁγιων, all the saints. This reading Griesbach has received into the text as indisputably genuine.
Amen - So be it! and so shall it be for ever and ever. The opinion of Dr. Priestley, concerning the authenticity of this book, and the manner in which it is written, should not be withheld from either the learned or pious reader. "I think it impossible for any intelligent and candid person to peruse this book without being struck in the most forcible manner with the peculiar dignity and sublimity of its composition, superior to that of any other writing whatever; so as to be convinced that, considering the age in which it appeared, none but a person divinely inspired could have written it. These prophecies are also written in such a manner as to satisfy us that the events announced to us were really foreseen, being described in such a manner as no person writing without that knowledge could have done. This requires such a mixture of clearness and obscurity as has never yet been imitated by any forgers of prophecy whatever. Forgeries, written of course after the events, have always been too plain. It is only in the Scriptures, and especially in the book of Daniel, and this of the Revelation, that we find this happy mixture of clearness and obscurity in the accounts of future events." - Notes on Revelation.
The Subscriptions to this book are both few and unimportant: -
The Codex Alexandrinus has simply - The Revelation of John.
The Syriac doubles the Amen.
The Ethiopic. - Here is ended the vision of John, the Apocalypse; Amen: this is, as one might say, the vision which he saw in his life; and it was written by the blessed John, the evangelist of God.
Vulgate and Coptic nothing.
Ancient Arabic. - By the assistance of our Lord Jesus Christ, the vision of John, the apostle and evangelist, the beloved of the Lord, is finished: this is the Apocalypse which the Lord revealed to him for the service of men. To Him be glory for ever and ever.
Having now brought my short notes on this very obscure book to a conclusion, it may be expected that, although I do not adopt any of the theories which have been delivered concerning it, yet I should give the most plausible scheme of the ancients or moderns which has come to my knowledge. This I would gladly do if I had any scheme to which I could give a decided preference. However, as I have given in the preface the scheme of Professor Wetstein, it is right that I should, at the conclusion, give the scheme of Mr. Lowman, which is nearly the same with that of Bishop Newton, and which, as far as I can learn, is considered by the most rational divines as being the most consistent and probable.
The scheme of the learned and pious Bengel may be found in the late Rev. John Wesley's notes on this book; that of Mr. Lowman, which now follows, may he found at the end of Dr. Dodd's notes.
Among other objections to this and all such schemes, I have this, which to me appears of vital consequence; its dates are too late. I think the book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, and not in 95 or 96, the date which I follow in the margin; which date I give, not as my own opinion, but the opinion of others.