Join us as we study through Revelation verse by verse. Our Bible study guides contain discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications which can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Revelation 22:8-21 Inductive Bible Study And Commentary – The Great Invitation
Revelation 22:8-21 Bible Study Video
Revelation 22:8-21 Bible Study Podcast
I. The angel converses with John (8-9)
II. Important reminders from Jesus (10-16)
III. Final invitation, warning, and promise (17-21)
I. The angel converses with John (8-9)
- Why does John emphasize that he heard and saw these things?
- Why would John fall down and worship at the feet of an angel?
- What does the angel’s response show you about him and God?
Matthew 14:33 -And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. I, John, am the one who saw and heard these things –
Throughout John’s writings in Scripture, we see that it is very important to him to show that he was an eye-witness to the things recorded. John lived the longest of any of the disciples. He saw many false teachers enter the church, people proclaiming strange doctrines and heresies.
Therefore, he seeks to establish his credibility and by extension the credibility of his writings. He was not just making stuff up according to his own opinion. Neither was he relaying hearsay he had heard from others. As an eye-witness, he was recording exactly what he had seen and heard.
John 21:24 – This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
1 John 1:1-2 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.
Statements like these remind us that the Bible is trustworthy.
2. I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel – John’s actions are a bit surprising here. He certainly should have known better than to worship an angel.
However, lest we be too hard on John, we should remember that we do many things when we “should have known better.”
It is a reminder that the saints in the Bible were human beings. Like you and me, they were sinners. Sometimes they made wrong decisions. Sometimes they acted irrationally. We often do the same.
The fact that John records his folly here (and many other Bible writers record theirs as well), is strong evidence of the truth of the account. Writers would be naturally dispositioned to put themselves in the best light. The fact that Bible writers did not do that shows us that their accounts are objective and accurate.
Application: Be careful not to be too quick to judge others. We often do the same things we look down on others for. Instead, let God’s grace toward sinners who should know better motivate you to show the same grace toward others.
3. The angel refuses the worship – The angels’ response is in contrast with Jesus’ response to the disciples (Matthew 14:33) when he accepted their worship.
Angels are powerful beings. To people, they would appear terrifying and supernatural. However, the angel says that he is merely a “fellow servant.” It gives us an insight into the minds of angels. They don’t consider they are superior, but instead are working together with us as servants of the Most High.
Application: Worship God only. Many things, even good things, can distract us from focusing on God. What are some things that could become a believer’s object of focus instead of Jesus?
• The Bible
• Christian Friends or Fellowship
All of these things are good, but we must not elevate them above Christ (or focus on them to the exclusion of Christ).
II. Important reminders from Jesus (10-16)
- In this passage, who says what? Identify the speakers and what each said (keep in mind that quotation marks and punctuation were not in the original Greek).
- What command is given to John in verse 10?
- Why does the angel say, “Let the evildoer still be evil and the filthy still be filthy?”
- Who is the “I” in verse 12?
- What is Jesus bringing with Him? What does this teach us about Him?
- How is Jesus being the Alpha and Omega have special significance within the context of the book of Revelation?
- How should you react to the fact that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega?
- How can you wash your robes?
- Where are these people who are outside the gates? Are they on the new earth? What is the main point of saying that they are “outside?”
- What do you learn about Jesus from verse 16? Why is this important for you?
- What should you obey in light of Jesus’ warnings in this passage?
Daniel 12:4 – But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
John 5:22 – The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.
Acts 17:31 – Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
Revelation 7:9 – After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.
Matthew 3:12 – His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
Matthew 25:32-33 – Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Who said what? – This section of Scripture is a bit confusing to decipher who is speaking. In verses 12, 13, 16, and 20 the speaker is Jesus. But in verses 8-9 the speaker is an angel who doesn’t accept worship. At some point the speaker changes.
It is important to note that quotation marks (and other forms of punctuation) are added in English. They represent the editor’s best guess as to where quotes start and end. Different English translations put the quotes in different places throughout this whole section. Some put quotes around verses 14-15 and others do not, ascribing those verses to John as the narrator.
The speaker could change from the angel to Jesus in verse 10 or verse 12.
One other theory is that the angel gave the entire message. The meaning of the word “angel” is “messenger.” As the messenger, he refused to accept worship. But he relayed direct quotes from Jesus to John.
One important rule of Biblical interpretation is to use the clear to interpret the unclear. In Matthew 14:33, Jesus accepts worship. So we can know for sure that it was not him speaking in verse 9. Beyond this, we cannot be dogmatic.
Application: Remember that punctuation marks and quotations are not used in the original language and were added by the translators. Dig into the Scriptures and use more versions to develop your own broader understanding of the text.
2. Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book – Daniel, on the other hand, was commanded to seal up the words of the prophecy (Daniel 12:4). The reason given that John should not seal it up is that the “time is near.”
God wanted the world to know the next steps of His plan. By knowing what is coming, people can make a wise course of action.
Reflect: If John was not supposed to “seal up” these words, what about us? What about the gospel?
3. Let the evildoer still do evil (12) – Some take verse 12 as a reference to the period after the final judgment. If so, it should be taken as a warning to the wicked and a promise to the righteous. After the final judgment, one’s eternal state is fixed. There would be no more opportunity for repentance. The wicked will continue to add to their sins for all of eternity. Believers should see this as a promise. They will continue in their holiness forever.
It is also possible that this verse is about now and not after the final judgment. If that is the case, it means that the coming judgment is certain. Nothing can change it. Those who are evil can ignore all of the warnings in the book and continue to do evil. It won’t change God’s plan. But they should know that Jesus will come soon and they will be judged for this as we see in the next verse. And how should the righteous respond? Continue to obey God!
We should not take this verse to mean that God does not care if people repent. Other Scriptures are clear this is not the case.
Reflect: Which interpretation do you believe is correct and why?
Application: In some ways, the application is the same. At some point, there will be no second chances, no turning back. For some, that might occur when they harden their heart to the point of no return. For others, it might occur at death or Jesus’ second coming. Either way, we should be quick to repent and throw ourselves upon the mercy of God, asking Him to give us a new heart. Now is the day of salvation. Don’t wait!
4. I am coming soon and bringing my recompense with me – In the first sentence of this book, John says it is the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” The book reveals Jesus as a judge. After millennia of showing patience toward sinners, Jesus will return as a judge. His wrath will be poured out upon the rebellious. He will also return as Savior, to rescue, heal, and vindicate His followers.
The wicked will not escape justice forever. And neither will the righteous have to suffer forever. Jesus will return and make everything right.
5. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End – The title “Alpha and Omega” is used by God the Father once (Revelation 1:8) and Jesus two times (Revelation 21:6, 22:13) in the book of Revelation. And this title is not used anywhere else in the Bible.
The title is significant in the context of the book of Revelation. It reminds us that the world is from God and to God. He has a plan for the world He created. The world as a whole and every individual in it will come face to face with the Creator. There are many paths one may seek to take in this life. But all of those paths lead to a meeting with the Judge. And He will decide which one of two final destinations each one is sent to.
Application: Do you have a good relationship with the Judge? Are you ready for that final exam? Compared to that exam, all others fade in significance.
6. Blessed are those who wash their robes –
He washes us.
1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
We cannot find cleansing anywhere else besides Him. Only the blood of Christ can wash away our sins and make us clean.
At the same time, this verse highlights the fact that we have a role to play in this. We are to “wash [our] robes.” Believers are not passive spectators in this process. Instead, we are to be active participants. We have to come to Him for that washing, and take initiative to ask for it.
Take for example a man who lives next to a crystal-clear mountain brook. He is wearing filthy clothes. The water is fully capable of cleaning the dirt off his clothes. But the man still has to take initiative to approach the water and apply it to his clothes. If he doesn’t do so, he can’t blame anyone and say, “I didn’t have a choice” or “I didn’t have a chance.” Cleansing was right there, freely accessible.
Similarly, Jesus’ blood was shed for the world. It is freely accessible to anyone who will take initiative and come to Him for washing.
John 3:18 – Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Application: If you continue to carry your burden of sin and shame around, that is on you. Jesus sacrificed Himself already to pay for it. Forgiveness is freely available, if you will only come to Him and confess. Is there any sin that you have been carrying around? Confess it today.
7. Outside are the wicked – Those whose robes are washed can enter the city. But the wicked of all shapes and sizes are outside. This doesn’t mean that the wicked are also on the new earth, just outside the walls, looking at it longingly. Revelation 21:8 shows us that they will be in the lake of fire.
Rather, it is another way to highlight the fact that God’s people and His enemies will be separated. His followers will be in. The unregenerate will be out. You are either in Christ or not in Christ. There is no middle. There is no third choice. The narrow road leads to salvation. The broad road leads to destruction.
Application: Those who love sin more than God will find themselves in an eternity without God. Never will they be able to enter those blessed gates. Let that thought sink in next time we face the temptation to chase the pleasures of the moment.
III. Final invitation, warning, and promise (17-21)
- What invitation is given? Practically, how can you respond to that invitation this week?
- What warning is given? Practically, how should you respond to that warning?
- What does it mean to add or take away from the prophecy?
- How should this warning shape our attitude toward God’s Word?
- What is the consequence of ignoring this warning?
- Do you believe that Jesus is coming soon? If so, how should you live your life in light of that?
2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Peter 1:20 – Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. I am the root and the descendant of David – The statement seems impossible to understand, unless the speaker is divine. A root is something that comes before the tree. You cannot have a tree trunk and leaves without a root. When Jesus says that He is the root of David, it means that He came before and established David. He is the ancestor of David. At the same time, He is the descendant of David.
As God, Jesus pre-existed David. And as the Messiah, Jesus descended from David.
2. The bright morning star –
Jesus uses the same description in Revelation 2:28.
Revelation 2:28 – And I will give him the morning star.
A morning star is the brightest “star” at dawn. It is the planet Venus and is the brightest object in the sky aside from the sun and moon. It symbolizes hope and guidance. The morning star can be seen as a promise of a new day, something better to come. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection give us the hope and promise of all the eternal blessings He has in store for those who are His.
3. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come” – The Spirit is making the invitation known. And He is making His plea through the church (the bride). He calls believers to spread the gospel, empowering, emboldening, and strengthening us for this mission. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), we see that He has entrusted this task to us. It is not given primarily to angels, but to the church.
Here is the final invitation in Scripture. After so many warnings and so many prophecies, God still seeks to win over the lost to Himself. The book of Revelation reveals the fight for souls taking place behind the scenes between God and Satan. God doesn’t coerce. He doesn’t force anyone to accept His message. Instead, He invites them. Again and again, His gracious invitation to “Come” is sounded far and wide. It goes out to all nations, tribes, and tongues.
Jesus gave the same invitation during His earthly ministry.
Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
It is a gentle invitation from a gentle Savior. But it is also extremely urgent, and it gets more urgent day by day.
Note also that all who hear this invitation are supposed to repeat it.
Revelation 22:17 – And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
Every believer who hears the call is to echo it forward so that all can hear. Those who respond to the call are given the “waters of life without price.” You cannot earn the living water. However, God does set a condition. “Come.”
Application: Have you accepted Jesus’ invitation? And if yes, who can you extend that invitation to? Consider if there is someone in your life you need to pass on this news to. What a blessed opportunity it is that we can come to Jesus. Let us invite others to join us with Him!
4. Words of warning – Jesus warns those who will add or take away from the prophecies of this book. In the immediate context, “this book” seems to refer to the book of Revelation (the prophecies that John received). But we can infer that if this warning is true for this portion of Scripture, it is also true for the rest of Scripture.
God’s Word should be taken seriously and treated with respect. It is not to be trifled with. False teachers often add to and take away from Scripture. And even sincere believers may use the Bible to prooftext their points. All of us are guilty of sometimes reading our own thoughts and opinions into the text rather than simply taking out of the text what is there.
Those who ignore the warning and misuse these prophecies will be dealt with very harshly. They will have no part in the blessings described in the book, but will instead receive the judgments.
Reflect: What does it mean to add or take away from it? Does this include an honest mistake of misinterpretation?
Application: Be a good student of God’s Word. Don’t use it haphazardly. Don’t seek to use it just to prove yourself right or put others in a bad light. Be respectful of it. That includes being respectful of the process of studying and exegesis. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know the answer to something. And do avoid speculating on (adding to), things which Scripture is silent on. Let us go back to a simple process of studying and obeying what is in the Word as it is written.
5. Jesus is coming soon – One of the most important points in the entire book for us to remember is that Jesus is coming again. He promises it. He says He is going to come soon.
Like in the time of Habakkuk, sometimes for us earth-dwellers God’s prophecies seem to take ages to come about. This is what He told Habakkuk when He felt that way.
Habakkuk 2:3 – For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Application: Are you ready for Jesus’ to come again? If not, what do you need to do to get ready?
Book Application: What is one important lesson you should never forget from your study in the book of Revelation?
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