Most people’s last words are of special interest. The “epilogue” of any story is a closing section added to the narrative. It is designed to provide further comment, interpretation, and information. God’s last words in the Holy Bible must be of great significance.
The last book of the Bible is the book of Revelation, and with that book the message of God regarding salvation and eternal life comes to a close. God’s Word is complete and we are not to add to it. The New Testament Scriptures would have been incomplete if the book of Revelation had not been written. Revelation is the last inspired recorded message from God. To add to the Scriptures would be a useless attempt to complete what is already completed, and would bring endless confusion and contradiction as well as the judgment of God (Revelation 22:18-19).
The purpose of the last book of the Bible is to unveil Jesus Christ as He brings human history to a close. In the Revelation, Jesus Christ is presented as the victorious Lord—active, alive, and in full control over all that is happening on earth. He will ultimately defeat every enemy, and will bring peace and order to this troubled planet. Besides that, there is the promise of a new heaven and a new earth (see Revelation 21:1-2).
Genesis, the first book of the Bible, tells about the commencement of the heavens and the earth; Revelation tells about their consummation. Genesis tells about the entrance of sin and the curse; Revelation tells about the end of sin and the curse. In Genesis, sorrow begins; in Revelation, sorrow ends. There are a number of other parallels between the first and the last books in the Bible.
The Revelation depicts the end of the present age and the coming of God’s future kingdom through symbols and various visions. The book was written near the end of the first century, at a time of great suffering and persecution for Christians.
The book of Revelation consists of a vision of Christ in His glorified state, and a series of letters written to seven churches on the west coast of Asia Minor, followed by a complex series of visions that deal mostly with the end of the age. The book closes with a beautiful description of our heavenly home.
As we approach the end of the book of Revelation, the destructive judgments of the Great Tribulation Period are all brought to a conclusion. The Battle of Armageddon is over. The Antichrist has finished his crafty deeds. The Lord Jesus by this time will have returned in power and great glory, and He will be reigning as King of kings along with God the Father.
The epilogue to the book of Revelation, which this article will discuss (Revelation 22:6-21), stresses three major thoughts. It speaks of the faithful Word of God, the finished work of Christ, and the final witness of the Spirit. In Revelation 22, verses 7,12,13,16, and part of verse 20 are the last words of Jesus.
1. The Faithful Word of God (Revelation 22:6-10)
In this section the angel assures John that what he has seen and experienced in these visions is indeed trustworthy. The words of verse 6 reinforce the very important truth that everything which John had seen and recorded in this prophetic book will indeed come to pass. The message of Revelation did not grow out of John’s distorted imagination, and neither is it something bizarre that John merely dreamed.
The accuracy of the Word of God is declared in verse 6, where John writes, “These sayings are faithful and true.” The immediate reference here is to the book of Revelation, but the statement really can be made of the entire Bible. Men and women may scoff at it and deny it, but God declares that His sayings are faithful and true.
The authority of the Word of God is implied in verse 7. The blessing is pronounced on those who keep “the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” This is not only true for the book of Revelation, but for the entire Bible. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28).
In verses 8-9 John was reminded that God alone is to be worshiped. The angel reminded the Apostle that he, too, was a created being, and that nothing in the entire creation is to be placed above the Creator. The admonition is meant not only for John, but for all of God’s people. We are to worship God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and not created beings.
The accessibility of the Word of God is stated in verse 10. Some 600 years earlier, the prophet Daniel was told to seal up one of his visions because another dispensation was to intervene before the vision would be fulfilled (Daniel 12:4-9); but this was not the case with the truths revealed in the book of Revelation. These words are written openly for all to read. The angel said to John, “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” (verse 10).
2. The Finished Work of Christ (Revelation 22:11-16)
Throughout the New Testament epistles, the return of Christ is expected to take place at any moment. Paul says that the “day of the Lord” will come “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). It is not wise to wait until some ideal time to turn one’s life over to Christ, for all too soon, at an unexpected time, the opportunity for salvation will be gone. Those who have missed out will be lost forever.
The words (in verse 11) “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still” follow the phrase at the end of verse 10: “for the time is at hand.” The angel was not recommending careless and evil living. The time of the end may be so near at hand that there will be no time for people to change their lifestyles. The point is this: our choices lead to consequences, and when the Lord returns, the opportunity for repentance will have passed forever. What each person is then, he will be on into eternity.
Accepting or rejecting the sacrifice of Christ will determine our future destiny (verses 12-15). When the Lord comes, our destinies will have been fixed. Those who have accepted Christ and lived for Him have the provision of the cross to support them (verse 14).
An unknown writer has penned the following lines:
The light of Heaven is the face of Jesus.
The joy of Heaven is the presence of Jesus.
The melody of Heaven is the Name of Jesus.
The employment of Heaven is the service of Jesus.
The harmony of Heaven is the praise of Jesus.
The theme of Heaven will be the work of Jesus.
Those “that do His commandments” (verse 14)—who do not just do them, but do them because they have had their robes washed in the blood of Christ—will have a right to the tree of life and will spend eternity in the heavenly City.
Those who follow Christ and grow in their relationship with Him long for Christ’s return. As they journey through this life, their desire for a home in Heaven increases. Many dedicated Christian believers through the centuries have longed for the home in Heaven. Dozens of hymns have been written on the theme of Heaven. We are to longingly expect to see Jesus Christ as the final Victor.
By way of contrast, those who are vile and unclean will be among those who suffer the torments of Hell. They will be cut off from all that is holy and noble and beautiful. The filthy and the unrighteous will go out into the next world to continue in the same filthiness (verse 11). Those who hear the truth but continue to reject Christ fix their destiny in the place of damnation.
In verse 16 Jesus describes Himself as “the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Jesus is both the source of David (in the sense of creation) and also a descendant of David. Jesus is also like a bright star in the early morning which heralds the end of the night, and the dawn of a new day. His Second Coming will herald the arrival of the eternal home in Heaven.
3. The Final Witness of the Spirit (Revelation 22:17-21)
It is fitting that the Bible should close with a reference to the Holy Spirit. He is the Author of the book. He had part in the original creation. He has been active down through the ages of human history. He continues to call and plead with men and women and boys and girls to come to Jesus, and find salvation through Him who will be the Victor over the forces of evil.
There are three things the Spirit has to say before the inspired Scripture is brought to a close.
a. The last invitation (22:17)
The word “come” is the grandest word in the gospel. It rang out in the days of Noah when God was about to pour out His wrath against the world (Genesis 7:1). Once again the Spirit calls for men and women (all persons) to come and believe the message of the gospel. The choice is entirely up to the individual. The invitation is for “whoever desires.” We have the awesome power of opening the door of our hearts to Jesus; or we can shut the door, and lock Him out forever. When we take sides with Jesus, we are on the winning side!
b. The last warning (22:18-19)
The primary scope of the warning has to do with the book of Revelation. The Lord guards this book which so many have scorned. The Revelation opens with a blessing pronounced upon those who read it and keep it, and closes by announcing a curse upon those who tamper with it. Similar warnings are found in other parts of the Bible:
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2).
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).
There are two extremes to avoid when studying the Revelation: First, to set dates and to make dogmatic predictions is tampering with God’s truth. Second, to shun the book of Revelation altogether and to say that it is not profitable to read implies a denial of its importance and its divine authorship.
c. The last promise (22:20-21)
The last promise of the Bible is related to our Lord’s return. Jesus never designated a time, but He spoke often of the certainty of His coming. The last prayer of the Bible is “Come, Lord Jesus!” Surely this is the desire of each person who loves Him. We often echo these same words. We are anxious to see an end to sin and sorrow and suffering. We want to see Jesus and to be like Him and to live with Him in eternity. The final invitation of the Bible is a call for men and women to come and believe the message of the gospel.
Three times in this passage, Jesus said, “I come quickly” (verses 7, 12, and 20). Christ’s coming will occur suddenly. No one should delay their response to the invitation, for none of us knows just when Jesus will return. And until that day, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”
Through the ages sincere Christian believers have believed that Heaven is a real place—the home of those made righteous in the blood of Jesus. J. H. Moore (editor of the Gospel Messenger for many years), in his 1914 book entitled New Testament Doctrines, says: “‘Mother, home, and heaven’ are said to be the sweetest words in the English language, with ‘heaven’ . . . standing at the head of the list. No finer picture was ever shown than that seen by John, and described in Revelation 21. He saw ‘the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride for her husband’ . . . A home in heaven, and life eternal; this is the reward of the righteous” (pages 189-191).
The message of the Revelation is an appeal to cling to Jesus Christ. Be faithful to Him even if it means death. Those who do that will receive a crown of life. It often seems like Satan is winning the battle, but Jesus Christ is in control, and at His coming, He will defeat every enemy and become Victor over all evil.
The end of the age may very well soon be upon us. It is risky for any one of us to delay preparation for the trip to the eternal world. It is our prayer that this study in the final section of the book of Revelation will have instructed the mind, alerted the heart, and warmed the spirit of each reader. The time of Christ’s appearing to conquer the forces of evil may not be very far away.
May each brother and sister in Christ who reads this message persevere in the faith until the day dawns and the Bright and Morning Star appears!