Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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APOCALYPSE - Chapter 22

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Apocalypse 22

Supplemental Commentary:

VII.  THE CONSUMMATION  19, 11 -- 22, 5 (continued)

22, 1-2:  The River and Tree of Life.  These verses continue the description of the new heaven and new earth.  They reflect the story of the first Paradise from Genesis (2): the river, the tree of life, the willing subjection to God.  Yet the sense is more profound and spiritual.  The river here proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  All the older commentaries apply this living water either to the person of Christ or to the heavenly beatitude which flows from Baptism.  Others think of Baptism in this life, and of the Holy Spirit in the new Jerusalem; and this appears more exact.  The work of the Holy Spirit is the work of sanctification which begins with Baptism.  Again, the fruit of the tree of life is more abundant and the leaves more useful.  The tree is related to the Word and the fruits are the symbol of the Eucharist.  The leaves which heal the nations represent the sacrament of Penance.  This pertains to the present life.

22, 3-5:  The Throne of God and of the Lamb.  This concludes the description of the new heaven and earth.  The scene reaches beyond the resurrection.  God will give to the elect the light of His glory with which they will be able to contemplate His face.  The curse is lifted from man; he regains Paradise, sees God face to face and reigns with Him.  Here ends the last prophetic vision of the Bible.

Epilogue  22, 6-21

22, 6-9:  Confirmation.  He said: i.e., the angel of 21, 9.  These words: all that we have read in the book.  The God . . . of the prophets: the gift of prophecy has its source in God.    7.  I come quickly: the speaker now is Christ, and His words confirm the declaration of the angel.  The prophecies of the book will occur shortly, but in the eyes of God "one day is as a thousand years" (2 Pet. 3, 8).    8 f.  These verses repeat 19, 10.

22, 10-15:  Words of Christ.  The time is at hand: the events foretold by John began to be accomplished in the first days of the Church.  Daniel (12, 9-13) had been told to seal up his prophecies because the time was far distant when they would be realized.  He who does wrong, etc.: this is a warning: the conduct of men will not change the divine plan; Christ will come quickly and reward each one according to his works.  I am the Alpha, etc.: indicating that He has the power to reward or punish.  Who wash their robes: freedom from sin gives the right to enter the City.  Dogs: the pagans, or the baptized who return to their sins (2 Pet. 2, 22).

22, 16-21:  Final Attestation.  Jesus once again affirms that He is the author of the revelation transmitted by the angel to the seven churches.  I am the root, etc.: i.e., the true Messias, the only source of hope.  "Come": the Church and her children, moved by the Holy Spirit, thus call to the Messias.  I testify to everyone: the speaker may be Christ, though John could so speak in his authority as prophet.  John then adds a solemn warning against tampering with the words of the book.  I come quickly: this is the final witness of the Savior, and the seventh time the expression occurs.  This evokes from John the prayer, Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace, etc.: the Apocalypse, being a letter, closes with a salutation.

Joseph S. Considine, O.P.

Confraternity Bible:

The River and Tree of Life  1 And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming forth from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  2 In the midst of the city street, on both sides of the river, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit according to each month, and the leaves for the healing of the nations.

The Throne of God and of the Lamb  3 And there shall be no more any accursed thing; 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 on their foreheads.  5 And night shall be no more, and they shall have no need of light of lamp, or light of sun, for the Lord God will shed light upon them; and they shall reign forever and ever.

Confirmation  6 And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show to his servants what must shortly come to pass.  7* And behold, I come quickly!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."  8 And I, John, am he who heard and saw these things.  And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.  9 And he said to me, "Thou must not do that.  I am a fellow-servant of thine and of thy brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book.  Worship God!"

Words of Christ  10 And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand.  11* He who does wrong, let him do wrong still; and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he who is just, let him be just still; and he who is holy, let him be hallowed still.  12* Behold, I come quickly!  And my reward is with me, to render to each one according to his works.  13 I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end!"  14 Blessed are they who wash their robes that they may enter into the city.  15 Outside are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises falsehood.

Final Attestation  16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things concerning the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star."  17* And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"  And let him who hears say, "Come!"  And let him who thirsts come; and he who wishes, let him receive the water of life freely.  18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book.  If anyone shall add to them, God will add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.  19 And if anyone shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his portion from the tree of life, and from the holy city, and from the things that are written in this book.  20 He who testifies to these things says, "It is true, I come quickly!"  Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!  21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all.  Amen.


7: I come quickly: these are the words of Christ and confirm the declaration of the last verse.  He will come quickly but the precise time is not determined.  "One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day!" (2 Pet. 3, 8).

11-12: No permission is given to continue in evil.  The meaning is that we reap what we sow.

17: The Spirit: the Holy Spirit.  The bride: the Church of Christ.