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 all. William 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 nations. KJV
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 nations. KJV
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 receive. Phillips
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. MSG
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 away. NJB
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 east. ESV 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 evil. TLB
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.