Happy Are Those Who Wash Their Robes


Acts 16:16-34

Revelation 22:12-21

John 17:20-26

Psalm 97

Verses 12 through 15 are the last words of the Revelation; the remaining verses consists of seals of authentication. Verse 16 comes from Jesus and 17 from the Holy Spirit, followed by the threat/promise of John not to—in the words of the 1950’s and 60’s computer cards—fold, spindle, or mutilate.

Remember as we began chapter 22, an angel was the tour guide, but in verse 12, we clearly have the words of Jesus.  “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me.” NIV That is in line with what the angel said in verse 10, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near.” NIV By contrast, Daniel was told to seal his work for the future. With the Revelation of John, we do not need to wait any longer. I am coming.

We need to be careful in reading the rest of verse 12; I will give to each person according to what they have doneNIV Some suppose Jesus means that we will receive our merit badges for all the good and wonderful things we have done in our lives. No. The reward will be given for one thing only; choosing to live with God or choosing to live outside the New Jerusalem with the Twelve open gates that allow a view of life with God but will not allow entry into that life. Those who choose Jesus can come and go as they please.

I was lucky to have two great mentors in my college years, one of whom told me that he had come to believe—he was about 65—that sinners would spend eternity watching what they gave up. I believe verse 12-14 supports that notion.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the endESV This is the final form of the Title found 7 times in Revelation. In the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries on Revelation by Ian Paul, he prints it in this format:

God     1:8       I am the Alpha and the Omega

Jesus    1:17     I am the First and the Last

God     21:6     I am the Alpha and the Omega

The Beginning and the End

Jesus    22:13   I am the Alpha and the Omega

The First and the Last

The Beginning and the End.

There is no difference between the seven statements.

Verse 14, Happy are those who wash their robes, for they have the right to the tree of life and the freedom of the gates of the cityPhillips Wash their robes can only refer to being baptized in the blood of Jesus. Only his sacrifice has made it possible for you and I to be stripped clean of sin and hung on the line to dry. As the old hymn has it, Jesus’ blood alone can make us white as snow.

The Greek in verse 15 begins with dogs. Several translations change that to a different term to avoid confusion. Jesus was not telling us that dogs would not be allowed into the New Jerusalem. He was using the Middle Eastern concept of dogs as representing wild, untamed, aggressive, and unclean beings. Dogs were common in the culture but were seldom pets. They were considered a necessary evil because they helped control the rodent populations in an age when cats were much more recently domesticated—in Asia and Africa—and somewhat rare in Israel.

The rest of the list is the usual litany. The last one should make all of us nervous, everyone who loves and practices falsehoodCJB We lie so easily and so often that we generally don’t even recognize it in ourselves. When my doctor says, “Your blood sugar is high. What have you been eating lately?” I tend to stress the meat and forget to mention bread, pasta, cake, ice cream, candy. When the boss asks, “Do you know what happened to the copy machine?” The answer is not, “I’m not sure. I was in the room but didn’t get a good look at what happened when it blew.”

We cover, we hide, we transfer blame or at least try to share it. We criticize our least favorite politicians when they refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes, but we do the same.

The last words of Revelation: He, who is witness to all this, says, “Yes, I am coming very quickly!” “Amen, come Lord Jesus!” The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all his peoplePhillips

Amen and Amen.


Read my earlier comments on this theme here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Living Water


Acts 16:9-15

Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

John 5:1-9

Psalm 67

And he shewed me a pure ryver of water of lyfe clere as cristall: procedynge oute of the seate of God and of the lambe. In the myddes of the strete of it and of ether syde of ye ryver was there wode of lyfe: which bare xii maner of frutes: and gave frute every moneth: and the leves of the wodde served to heale the people with allWilliam Tyndale, c.1525

These first two verses of chapter 22 show the progress we’ve made in both the English language and our understanding of the Greek of the New Testament. Until Tyndale, the Bible could only be read in Hebrew, Greek, or Latin. His was the first translation into a modern language, and his reward was being burned at the stake.

Compare Tyndale’s work with the 1611 King James version.

And he shewed mee a pure riuer of water of life, cleere as Chrystall, proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lambe. In the middest of the street of it, and of either side of the riuer, was there the tree of life, which bare twelue manner of fruits, and yeelded her fruit euery moneth: and the leaues of the tree were for the healing of the nationsKJV

And compare both to a modern rendition of King James.

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nationsKJV

The only change you see here is modern spelling. More importantly, perhaps, the other ten translations I regularly check for this blog read much the same. There is one small point regarding the “he” of KJ. Only Phillips and TLB use “he,” with all the others using “angel.” Who is correct? In this case, the minority. The Greek has “he,” but when we read the preceding verses, clearly the pronoun refers to the angel in 21:9 who shows John the New Jerusalem descending to the renewed earth.

What is the river? Look at John 4:10. He replied, “If you only knew what a wonderful gift God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me for some living water!” TLB And again John 7:37-39a. Then, on the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If any man is thirsty, he can come to me and drink! The man who believes in me, as the scripture says, will have rivers of living water flowing from his inmost heart.” (Here he was speaking about the Spirit which those who believe in him would receivePhillips

Combining these verses, we get a clear picture of the River of Life. Now we can see the Holy Spirit at work in its perfect condition (the clear crystal). Notice that the Spirit comes directly from the Throne of God. God is now and always will be the source of life.

To double up on the Life theme, we see the Tree of Life growing in or along the River. This is the same Tree in the Garden of Edan, only now we will be allowed to eat of its fruit.

Looking back at Isaiah 33:20-22, we read, Just take a look at Zion, will you? Centering our worship in festival feasts! Feast your eyes on Jerusalem, a quiet and permanent place to live.
No more pulling up stakes and moving on, no more patched-together lean-tos. Instead, God! God majestic, God himself the place in a country of broad rivers and streams, But rivers blocked to invading ships, off-limits to predatory pirates. For God makes all the decisions here. God is our king. God runs this place and he’ll keep us safe

Also look at Zechariah 13:1. When that day comes, a fountain will be opened for the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to wash sin and impurity awayNJB

And Ezekiel 47:1-12. Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the eastESV He goes on to describe a mighty river that empties into the Dead Sea, making the water fresh and filled with fish.

These and others are ancient descriptions of the New Jerusalem with its River of Life.

In verse 3, John switches to the future tense to tell us directly what we can expect. There shall be nothing in the city that is evilTLB

Is there any part of this message we cannot love? The Good News? Jesus is handing out free passes to enter the city. I don’t have to do anything to live forever in the New Jerusalem, except accepting Jesus’ offer—his blood for my freedom. No other religion offers such a sweet deal.


Read my earlier comments on this theme here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence