Then saith he unto me, See [thou do it] not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
9. for ] should be omitted.
thy brethren the prophets ] It has been recognised in Rev 22:6-7, that St John is a prophet, and shares in the special blessedness given to prophets. But at the same time “they which keep the words of this book,” though not prophets, share that blessedness with them. St Mat 10:41 implies the same, though the form of statement is somewhat different.
Fuente: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not – See the notes on Rev 19:10.
For I am thy fellow-servant – notes on Rev 19:10.
And of thy brethren the prophets – In Rev 19:10, it is of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. Here the angel says that, in the capacity in which he appeared to John, he belonged to the general rank of the prophets, and was no more entitled to worship than any of the prophets had been. Like them, he had merely been employed to disclose important truths in regard to the future; but as the prophets, even the most eminent of them, were not regarded as entitled to worship on account of the communications which they had made, no more was he.
And of them which keep the sayings of this book – I am a mere creature of God. I, like human beings, am under law, and am bound to observe the law of God. The sayings of this book which he says he kept, must be understood to mean those great principles of religion which it enjoined, and which are of equal obligation on human beings and angels.
Worship God – Worship God only. See the notes on Rev 19:10.
Fuente: Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel.
How to bridge the epochs of change in our lives, how to pass from our visions to our tasks, from our apocalypses to the light of common days, for which they are to prepare us, carrying the best results of the one into the other, and bringing the former to true effect in the latter; this, surely, is something we need to know. These transitions are among the things to be counted upon, if our life have any sweep and movement at all. We ought to, but do not always, pass through them well. The heavenly gales which should have wafted us on to ports of power and usefulness leave us with strained masts and torn sails. How to pass through these epochs of transition without dimming the glory of the exalted mood is a question worthy of our most earnest consideration. The words we have made our text have bearing on this subject. They report the immediate sequel to the sublimest mood of spiritual exaltation. Yet that sequel was a sad blunder, involving both sacrilege and sin. Beginning the ethical application of this incident on the lowest plane, it shows us, first, that great men may make great mistakes and eminent saints fall into grievous sins. This should make us careful, humble, and charitable. We are apt to ask for a perfection in others which we know does not obtain in ourselves, and to deem our own virtue proof against the temptations to which others have succumbed. Perhaps the worst about this is that it militates against our reverence and appreciation of good men, and the influence and inspiration of their real worth, when we discover these defects. We ask for perfection in heroes, prophets, and saints; when we discover the fault, which mars the perfection but not the essential worth, the effect of the work, teaching, and life is impaired, and perhaps the hero, prophet, or saint, exists for us no more. The truth is, God has given us naught that is perfect save Himself, and what flows directly from Himself; and He has no perfect representative on earth save Him who came forth from the bosom of the Father and was one with Him. But one life in which God is partially revealed in any mode is supplemented, corrected, and completed by others may take many heroes to fitly exemplify the power of God working in humanity; it may take many prophets to adequately set forth the truth of God so as to constitute a full, saving revelation, and it may take many saints to worthily illustrate the principle of a Divine holiness in human life, and there is a completeness and adequacy, not to say perfection, in the aggregate not to be found in the individual or section. But, more specifically, the text underscores a point of special peril in moral life. That point is the vanishing point of some special privilege, exalted mood, rich and radiant experience, or larger and intenser flow of life in any mode. We should learn to translate vision and transport into purpose and power. We experience the spiritual, intellectual, or emotional effects of sermon or prayer. Then, awakening from our ecstasy, we straightway fall down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed us these things. We praise the sermon, the service, the song, and magnify those who have ministered therein. All the subtle idolatries of sermon and service, church and creed, so prevalent in this time, are repetitions of the apostles error in falling to worship before the feet of the revelation angel. Other heavens than those of faith are opened to us, and other apocalypses than those of spiritual vision are accorded us–heavens of domestic felicity and apocalypses of human beauty, tenderness, and worth. Angels walk by our side and show us these things, transfiguring earths dull and prosy scenes, revealing to us the heavens of love, opening seals of affection and fellowship. But these visions fade, for they are not the perfect day, that abides; they are but prophetic gleams of a coming dawn. The scene closes. The ministering spirit is summoned from our side. Our danger, then, is of falling into idolatry of the departing angel. The house must be kept just as they left it. The clothes, and everything the loved one cherished, must be preserved as sacred mementoes, and the scenes of loves vision become the shrine of loves memorial and glorifying devotion. (J. W. Earnshaw.)
The temptation to creature worship
This incident is very decisive against anything approaching to saint or angel worship, but it yields a still deeper lesson suited to our times, which is this, that the most devout, the holiest of men, may be betrayed into thus falling. When we consider the state of things in the modern Church of Rome, two things strike us with astonishment. The first of these is the length to which this Church goes in encouraging the invocation of angels and departed saints. This is an increasing evil. It is greater now than ever it has been before. In Romish countries the worship of the Virgin in the way of Invocation far exceeds the worship paid to any Person in the Ever-Blessed Trinity. Theologians, it is true, make a distinction between the worship paid to the Virgin and saints and that paid to the Persons in the Adorable Trinity, but the vast mass of worshippers know of no such distinction. This, then, is the first thing; but another matter which fills us with astonishment, and some even with misgiving, is this, that notwithstanding this idolatry, so many devout minds have been won to this corrupt Church, and have themselves gone very far in this direction. How can it be, we ask, that men who know Scripture, and who unquestionably have their souls alive to the things of God and of Christ, can yet pay this idolatrous worship? This is staggering to some, but not if we read aright this very place of Scripture. For here we have an apostle, full of the Holy Ghost, called and taught by Christ Himself, one of those who had drunk in His profoundest teaching, twice needing the reproof, See thou do it not; worship God. Now, how could this be? I suppose none of you have ever been tempted to do such a thing as worship an angel, or a saint, or the Blessed Virgin? It is the very last temptation you are likely to be troubled with. How, then, was it possible that this temptation should assail an apostle? Because, I answer, he had a revelation granted to him such as you or I are not likely to have, because we are utterly unworthy of it. It is not for us who have never been so favoured, who, perhaps, some of us, have never believed in an angel at all–who have never realised or tried to realise our companionship with angels, or how God works by them–it is not for us to judge this apostle; but it may be well for us to learn somewhat from ]aim. How grand, then, beyond expression, must these visions of the New Jerusalem and its inhabitants have been if they could so affect an apostle who had lain in the bosom of Jesus Himself! (M. F. Sadler, M. A.)
The theme contained in this one word worship is much larger and profounder than any of us assume. We, all of us are likely to take it for granted that we know what worship is. Our simplest idea of it identifies it with the public services of the Church and with family and private devotions. The word worship necessarily associates itself with these. But these do not by any means exhaust its meaning. Let us inquire, then, more in detail what worship is; then we may possibly be able to see how necessary it is to the lifting all our faculties into a receptive attitude towards that Divine life out of which our life continually comes.
1. Worship implies some sort of knowledge. Agnosticism cannot worship. It may not be intellectualised knowledge, and yet it must be of the nature of knowledge. Many an unschooled man is intuitively a more knowing man than is many a schooled man. His insight, judgment, wisdom, are more trustworthy. I believe, however, that every man, in being a man, constitutionally that is, has knowledge enough of God to create in him worshipful tendencies and aspirations. In order to a fulness of knowledge there must be a fulness of humanity, and there has never been but one in whom dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
2. Let us say, then, that worship is the effort of the soul to realise the Divine presence and to partake of the Divine life. When the soul is perpetually as conscious of the Divine presence as of the presence of an external world, and partakes of the Divine life as really and as consciously as we partake now of each others life, then worship becomes no longer an act to which we compel ourselves, but a state–the constant state of the soul before God–as real, as natural, as unforced, as genial, as sufficing, as gently reciprocal as that of two souls who, together in the same place and under the same conditions live one life. Beholding the glory of the Lord, ever doing it, constantly doing it, sitting with eyes fixed like an artist student before a great masterpiece, until the work becomes so real and living that it speaks quietly, silently, with unsyllabled speech to the soul of the man beholding, until his feeling is changed and his ideas are changed. The old ignorant self is no longer there–into the image of the great master he is changed, and the change keeps going on from state to state, each an advance upon the other, and all by the Spirit of the Great Master entering into him and subduing him.
3. There must also be, as has been suggested by the greatest of living English statesmen, a sufficient self-knowledge. This is the first indispensable condition for s right attitude towards the Eternal. Then, too, there must be a suitable frame of the affections–that humility and aspiration which self-knowledge ought to bring; and, again, sustained mental effort, in which each worshipper recognises that he is a priest unto God; to carry our whole selves, as it were, with our own hands into that nearer presence of God, putting aside every distraction of the outward sense, so that the feeling I am a living soul in the presence of the living God may be the controlling thought. Is it not Ruskin who says, There is only one place in the human soul that God can occupy–the first place? To offer Him the second place is to offer Him no place at all. How much of our public presentation of ourselves in Church services fails of being worship I need hardly suggest. Formal worship ceases to be worship. There is no worship when the heart is not in it, and yet worship is a Divine command, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.
4. There must be some imperious necessity in our nature why we should worship, or such a command would not be recorded. There are some faculties which have the telescopic power to draw the distant near: to make that visible which, in the non-exercise of them, remains invisible. On its upper side, the faith faculty has this use. Does not the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews speak of it in this wise: Now, faith is the giving substance to things hoped for–the proving of things not seen? Doubt refuses to act, but faith acts, and so gets its proofs of things not seen. The imagination, again, is the right royal faculty of the soul. Without it we should have no poets and no prophets–many painters we might have, mere copyists, but no artists; no great masters in any department of things. We say such men have genius–the Bible says vision. They see, while we reason as to whether we can see or not. Faith, imagination, vision, these are the wings of the soul–its faculties which help it to soar, to bring the distant near to worship. If we were doomed to a prosy, mathematical, legal, commercial life, there would be no need of them. When God gave them He said to man in the giving, Thou shalt worship. We are living in the midst of a spiritual world, whose presence, if we are living rightly, i.e., according to Gods laws for life, will be as real to us as is the presence of the material world. This spiritual world contains facts which we cannot deny, such as these–intellect, conscience, reason, imagination, affection, will–none of these are material facts. No chemist, however minute and thorough his analysis, can find them in matter. They do not belong to the material. They must inhere in some substance not material. Is it not reasonable to infer that we are here not to develop the material world, except as a secondary object, but to develop ourselves, these mental and spiritual powers in us? That if we fail in developing these our failure is complete? And in order to do it we must worship that which is above us. There is no other way. The highest response we are capable of giving to the spiritual world around us is the act we call worship. It is an attitude of soul, yet an act with an infinite variety in it. They who stand and wait before God in speechless expectancy, their face ever God-ward, even when making no verbal prayer, offering no syllabled request, yet hoping ever in God, are true worshippers. Wherever there is a soul delighting in God, rejoicing in God, there is worship. The perfected, glorified humanity will be one in which the worship of God is an instinct; a state of habit, an attitude of soul unforced and universal. (R. Thomas.)
The great invitation
This invitation is–
I. Very blessed–Worship God. Not man, nor angels, nor self.
1. By studying His book–Seal not the sayings, etc.
2. By believing His truth.
3. By proclaiming His gospel whether it be pleasant or unpleasant to the carnal mind (Rev 22:11). This invitation is–
II. Very urgent. For–
1. The time is short (Rev 22:10). Behold, I come quickly.
2. The reward is dependent upon conduct–blessings to the obedient, disgrace to those who continue without.
3. The promise is only limited. The invitation is–
III. Very dignified.
1. In consequence of its Author–Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, etc. Not a doctrine or an invitation but comes from Him in His own voice.
2. In consequence of its importance. God is the Highest Being in the universe, and to worship Him is the noblest employment.
3. In consequence of the Assistant. The Saviour speaks and all things re-echo His words. The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. (Homilist.)
Christ, the object of worship
There are two propositions-laid together in these words: the one negative–you must worship nothing that is not God; and the second positive–whatever is God, worship. Therefore at once, if Christ is God, He is to be worshipped. And it needs only to be quite sure of His Godhead, to be certain also that not only we may, but that we ought to pray to Him Worship God. Suffice it, then, just to remind you of one or two passages, which are the simplest upon that subject. In prophecy–His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God. In praise–Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. In teaching–Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh. In argument But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us–the whole force and sequency of the thought lying in Christ being God. In Christs own testimony–I and My Father are one–he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. But let us see more distinctly what actual Scriptural example and sanction there is for paying this adoration, and addressing our petitions to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is certain that when He was upon earth many did come and make supplication to Him with every external demonstration of worship–kneeling, bowing, falling to the ground. And Christ never, in a single instance, put away the worship, or reproved the worshipper, or denied the prayer. It is matter of fact, too, that Christ told us that all men were to honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. And a part, a great part of the Fathers honour, is the prayer and the praise which His creatures offer Him. And we have the same truth, stated often in the New Testament, upon a wider range. For it is a name several times given to Christians–those who call upon the name of Christ. And not to multiply more, it is beyond all question, that in that world, which is the copy of us all–not the angels only, but the saints, do all, with one accord, direct their loftiest strains and their devoutest worship to Jesus Christ. We do not wonder, then, that resting itself upon this authority of Scripture, it has been the habit of the Church always to pray to Christ. In the whole, both of the Eastern and Western Churches, the custom has been universal, and never questioned, to pray to Christ. Alas! for that man or that Church which would ever forbid us, in song or in supplication, to worship Him, the only wise God our Saviour, who, blending so comfortably the wonders of His majesty with the tenderness of His brotherhood and the humiliations of His sufferings, has said freely to the whole world, Come unto Me, all that travail and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still and he that is holy, let him be holy still–
The misery of the unjust and impure, and the happiness of the righteous and the holy
Our first remark on this passage is, how very palpably and how very nearly it connects time with eternity. The character wherewith we sink into the grave at death, is the very character with which we shall reappear on the day of resurrection. The moral lineaments which be graven on the tablet of the inner man, and which every day of an unconverted life makes deeper and more indelible than before, will retain the impress they have received unaltered by the transition to the future state of our existence. Our second remark suggested by this Scripture is, that there be many analogies of nature and experience which even death itself does not interrupt. There is nought more familiar to our daily observation than the power and inveteracy of habits, insomuch that any decided propensity is strengthened by every new act of indulgence; any virtuous principle is more firmly established than before by every new act of resolute obedience to its dictates. The law which connects our actings of boyhood or of youth with the character of manhood, is the identical Jaw which connects our actings in time with our character in eternity. Be he a saint or a sinner, he shall be followed with his own ways, so that when fixed in his own place of everlasting destiny, the one shall rejoice in eternity in the pure, elements of goodness which here he loved and aspired after; the other, the helpless and degraded victim o! those passions which lorded over him in life, shall be irrevocably doomed to the worst of all torments–the torments of his own accursed nature, the inexorable tyranny of evil. Our third remark suggested by this Scripture is, that it affords no very dubious prospective of the future hell and future heaven of the New Testament. It is indeed be true that the moral rather than the material be the main ingredient, whether of the coming torment or the coming ecstacy, then the hell of the wicked may be said to be already begun, and the heaven of the virtuous may be said to be already begun in the breast of the good man. The one, in the bitterness of an unhinged and dissatisfied spirit, has a foretaste of the wretchedness before him; the other, in the peace, and triumph, and complacency of an approving conscience, has a foretaste of the happiness before him. Each is ripening for his own everlasting doom, and, whether in the depravities of the one or in the graces of the other, we see materials enough either for a worm that dieth not, or for the pleasures that are for evermore. But, again, it may be asked, will spiritual elements alone suffice to make up either the intense and intolerable wretchedness of a hell, or the intense beatitudes of a heaven? In answer to this question, let us go in detail over the different clauses of the verse now submitted to your consideration, and let us first turn your attention to the former of these receptacles; and we ask you to think of the state of that heart, in respect of sensation, which is the seat of a concentrated and all-absorbing selfishness, which feels for no other interest than its own, and holds no fellowship of truth, or honesty, or confidence with the fellow-beings around it. The man of cunning and concealment, however dexterous or triumphant in his wretched policy, is not at his ease. The stoop, the downcast regard, the dark and sinister expression of him who cannot lift up his head among his fellow-men, or look his companions in the face, are the sensible proof that he who knows himself to be dishonest feels himself to be degraded; and the inward sense of dishonour which haunts and humbles him here, is but the commencement of that shame and everlasting contempt to which he shall awake hereafter. Now, this is purely a moral chastisement, and, apart altogether from the infliction of violence or pain on his sentient economy, is enough to overwhelm the spirit that is exercised by it. Let him, then, that is unjust now, be unjust still–and in stepping from time to eternity he carries in his own distempered bosom the materials of his coming vengeance along with him. Character itself will be the executioner of his own condemnation; and instead of each suffering apart, the unrighteous are congregated together as in the parable of the tares, where, instead of each plant being separately destroyed, the order is given to bind them up in bundles and burn them. But there is another moral ingredient in the future sufferings of the wicked, besides the one we have now spoken of, suggested by the second clause of our text, and from which we learn that not only will the unjust man carry his fraud and falsehood along with him to the place of condemnation, but that also the voluptuary will carry his unsanctified habits and unhallowed passions thitherward. And he who is filthy, let him be filthy still. The loathing, the remorse, the felt and conscious degradation, the dreariness of heart, each following in the train of guilty indulgence here–these form but the beginning of his sorrows, and are but the presages and precursors of that deeper wretchedness which, by an unrepealed law of our moral nature, the same character entails on its possessor in another state of existence. They are but the penalties of vice in embryo, and may give at least the conception of what these penalties are in full. It will add inconceivably to the darkness and disorder of that moral chaos in which the impenitent shall spend their eternity, when the uproar of the bacchanalian and licentious passion is thus superadded to the selfish and malignant passions of our nature, and when the frenzy of unsated desire, followed up by the languor and compunction of its worthless indulgence, shall make up the sad history of many an unhappy spirit. Before quitting this part of the subject, we have just one remark to offer. It may be felt as if we had overstated the force of mere character to beget a wretchedness at all approaching the wretchedness of hell, seeing that that character is often realised in this world, without bringing along with it intolerable discomfort or distress. Neither the unjust nor the licentious man is seen to be so unhappy here as to justify the imagination, that there these characteristics will have the power to effect such anguish and disorder of spirit as we have now been representing. But it is forgotten, first, that this world presents in its business, its amusements, and its various gratifications, a refuge from the mental agonies of reflection and remorse; and, secondly, that the governments of the world offer a restraint against those outbreakings of violence which would keep up a perpetual anarchy in the species. But we now change this appalling picture for a delightful contemplation. The next clause of the verse suggests to us the moral character of heaven. We learn from it, on the universal principle, that as they that are unjust shall be unjust still, so also the righteous now shall be righteous still. Just imagine, for a moment, that honour, and integrity, and benevolence, were perfect in the world; that each held the property, the rights, the reputation of his neighbour to be dear to him as his own; that the suspicions, and the jealousies, and the heart-burnings, whether of hostile violence or envious competition, were altogether banished from human society; that the emotions, at all times delightful, of good-will on one side were ever and anon calling the emotion, no less delightful, of gratitude back again; that truth and tenderness held their secure abode in every family; and, in stepping forth among the wider companionship of life, that each could confidently rejoice in every one he met with as a brother and a friend, we ask of you if, by this simple change–a change, you will observe, in nothing else than the morale of humanity–though winter should repeat its storms as heretofore, and every element of nature were to abide unaltered, yet, in virtue of a process and revolution altogether moral, would not our millennium be begun, and a heaven on earth be realised? Now, let this contemplation be borne aloft, as it were, to the upper sanctuary, where, we are told, there are the spirits of just men made perfect; where those who were once the righteous on earth are righteous still. Let it be remembered that nothing is admitted there which worketh wickedness or worketh a lie; and that, therefore, with every virulence of evil, detached and dissevered from the mass, there is nought in heaven but the pure, the transparent element of goodness. Think of its unbounded love, its tried and unalterable faithfulness, its confiding sincerity; think of the expressive designation given it in the Bible: The land of uprightness. Above all, think of the revealed and invisible glory of the righteous God, who loveth righteousness, there sitting upon His throne in the midst of a rejoicing family, Himself rejoicing over them, because formed in His own likeness; they love what He loves; they rejoice at what He rejoices in. The last clause of the verse is, Let him that is holy be holy still. The two clauses descriptive of the character and the place of celestial blessedness are counterparts of the two clauses descriptive of the character and the place of eternal woe. He that is righteous in the one stands compared with him that is unjust in the other; he that is holy in the one stands contrasted with him that is licentious in the other. But I would have you to attend to the full extent and significance of the term holy. It is not abstinence from outward deeds of profligacy alone; it is not a mere recoil from impurity in action. It is a recoil from impurity in thought; it is that quick and sensitive delicacy to which even the very conception of evil is offensive; it is a virtue which has its residence within, which takes guardianship of the heart, as of a citadel or inviolated sanctuary, in which no wrong or worthless imagination is permitted to dwell. It is not purity of action that is ell we contend for; it is exalted purity of heart–the ethereal purity of the third heaven; and
II. it is once settled in the heart, it brings the peace, and the triumph, and the untroubled serenity of heaven along with it. In the maintenance of this, there is a conscious elevation; there is the complacency, I had almost said the pride, of a great moral victory over the infirmities of an earthly and accursed nature; there is a health and a harmony in the soul, a beauty of holiness which, though it effloresces in the countenance and the manner and outward path, is itself so thoroughly internal as to make purity of heart the most distinctive evidence of a work of grace in time–the most distinctive evidence of a character that is ripening and expanding for the glories of eternity. (T. Chalmers, D. D.)
Only one probation
What is your life? A question of solemn import to every one of us. Viewed simply as to its brevity, the present life is a vapour, a dream, a tale told; but viewed in its relation to eternity and mans everlasting destiny, it assumes an awful amount of importance. The most solemn aspect of the present life is, that, brief and transitory as it is, it is the only period in which our depraved and guilty nature may experience a moral and spiritual renewal. Viewed in this light, it is impossible to overestimate the awful significance of the life that now is. Whatever be your character when you sink into the grave will be your character when you rise on the resurrection morn.
I. That there is but one probation. The whole Bible is written on this supposition. In admonitions, warnings, entreaties, threatenings, and promises all presuppose that there is only one probation. The vast agencies put into operation for reclaiming erring man imply that this is his only chance. The infinite pains and toils of the Holy Spirit and His agencies; the persistent efforts of Satan and his agents indicate that the final issue of the battle is to be decided here.
1. This truth is confirmed by the universal consciousness of men. Somehow or other man everywhere feels that if he fails here, he fails for ever. The idea, more or less, haunts him through life. Hence his dread of futurity. Wherever the notion of futurity obtains, the mind generally associates with it the idea of fixedness, changelessness. There are two perversions of this truth among men. In some heathen lands the doctrine of the transmigration of souls obtains. But this is a perversion wilfully adopted because more congenial to the depraved heart than an inexorable destiny. Popery has also perverted this truth, so deeply fixed in the human soul, by teaching its vassals to pray and pay for the souls of the departed, that, by the intercessions of the priesthood, they may be delivered from purgatory or have their sufferings mitigated. It cannot be denied that there is in the deepest heart of humanity an intuitive sense that the world to come is one of fixedness. This is true not only of Bible lands, but of heathen countries; of the barbarous as well as of the civilised. Pagan men, by their costly ceremonials, their pilgrimages and penance, are seeking to set themselves right with their gods; but is there not underlying all these cruel rites the conviction that this life is the only period in which such a reconciliation may be effected? Moreover, we think it a wise and gracious provision that there should be but one probation.
2. The prospect of a second probation would tend to counteract upon the mind of man the influences of the first. If you knew to a certainty that you were going to have a second probation, the inevitable tendency of a depraved heart would be to say, I may safely resist any good influences that come upon me during my earthly life, since I am certain of having them again, or similar ones, in another state of being.
3. The knowledge of a second probation would furnish an inducement to delay. The procrastinating principle would be strengthened. Even now, with the know]edge that there is but one probation, untold numbers delay until it is too late, and utter ruin overtakes them.
4. Man would enter upon his second probation with hardened sensibilities and confirmed habits. Frequent resistance of truth would render him less susceptible. The probability of conversion would be less.
5. And then, in case he passed the second without repentance, his condemnation would be so much greater. Surely it is hell enough for you to endure the penalties of resisting the moral agencies of one probation, without incurring the more awful condemnation resulting from resisting the additional agencies of a second probation.
II. When probation is over, character is unalterably fixed. Men wedded to their lusts, and unwilling to abandon the wretched connection, entertain the vague notion that there is some inherent power in death to change the moral character, as if the soul must necessarily-undergo some process of change for the better in its passage between this world and the next. This delusion holds many captive by its spell. There is not a syllable breathed in the inspired volume to suggest such a theory. Death is nowhere represented as a moral renovator. It is true it changes the aspect of the body. By severing it from the soul, death subjects the body to decay, corruption, and decomposition. But death touches not the soul. It affects not the character; it leads the soul through no purifying stream, nor bathes it in any cleansing fountain. Death is a disrobing, but it is a disrobing of the body and not of character. You cannot place your sins and habits in the grave with your body, there to moulder and decay. Your friends cannot do this for you. No. Every pollution uncleansed by atoning blood the soul must carry with it into the dread future. Christ alone is the Purifier. Besides, if your hope be well founded, if death must necessarily, by some mysterious process, change your character, why do you fear death? If it can and will remove evil from your nature, and fit you for a higher world, it will be your benefactor, your friend. Why therefore stand in awe of death? The agencies which regenerate are brought to bear upon man only in the present state of being. The only power that can change the human soul from a state of sin to a state of holiness is the power of the Holy Ghost. The world we now occupy is the only theatre of the Divine Spirits operations, the only land through which the streams of salvation flow. Probation is not so much a test of character as a test of the effects of Gods truth on character.
III. That character will constitute our weal or woe in the coming world. The text implies that your retribution, if wicked, will consist in your being wicked for ever; if filthy, in being filthy, morally polluted, for ever. Even on the supposition–a supposition which we do not admit that there will be in the future world no elements of retribution without us, yet it is certain that we shall find them within us, if unforgiven and unholy. These elements are stored up in every guilty mans bosom. They are not now in full play. In this world of mercy they are under restraint. They sometimes haunt and harass the transgressor here. In the world to come, these materials of vengeance will be let loose upon him without check or hindrance of any kind. It is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive fully the difference between your feelings when revelling in mirth and sin, and your feelings afterwards when you come to reflect upon your conduct. Presently, however, you are cast on a bed of sickness, where you lie languishing and miserable. Companions are gone. The light of enjoyment has fled. Memory is busy recounting the past, looking back on the scene so gladsome. Oh, what a different aspect does it wear in the retrospect! Reflection turns it into agony. Your body may be racked with pain, but there is a keener, deeper, intenser anguish–anguish of mind. So intolerable does this become in some men that refuge is sought in self-destruction. If, then, by the united action of memory and conscience all this anguish and agony may be produced here in a world where there are so many restraints and alleviations, where mercy lifts her banner to allure the guiltiest, and where the hope of salvation sheds its radiance upon the most depraved, how much more terrific will these engines of torture become in a world where there are no restraints, no alleviations! By every transgression you are treasuring up wrath. Your own guilty hand has already gathered an awful store, and yet you go on accumulating. God in His mercy holds it from falling. It is suspended by the gracious interposition of the Mediator. But when the border line is crossed, when probation is over and the reign of mercy closed, voices shall be heard ringing through the universe, the voice of violated law, the voice of abused mercy, the voice of despised love, In the name of the Holy Trinity cut all loose. Then the storehouse of memory and conscience will be thrown open. The pent-up vengeance, the accumulations of your guilty life, will fall upon you and overwhelm you. Then there is the idea of being associated with those who are actuated by the same passions, and that for ever. There are neighbourhoods known to be so notoriously bad, so infested with base and dangerous characters, that you would not dare to enter them alone even in the day-time. If there be so much dread of approaching such characters here, with all the vigilance of police and the restraints of law, what must it be in a world where all the wicked in the universe are gathered together, without any of the restraints of conscience, or of the Holy Spirit, or of law, where they shall know no law but their own guilty passions, and when these passions, finding no means of gratification, must prey upon themselves and upon each other? Guilty men will need no demon tormentors in the world of retribution. Man will there be his own tormentor. His own bosom will contain materials of wrath which eternity cannot exhaust. The gloomy atmosphere of the world of retribution will thus be thronged with the visible and awful forms of your sins. You will have to live with them. They will constitute the furies that shall hunt, harass, and torment you. Escape them you cannot. The same principle applies to the reward of the good. He that is righteous, let him be righteous still. It is confirmed by your own experience that your happiness depends not on what you possess, not on circumstances, not on locality, not on friendships, not on surroundings, not so much on what you have as on what you are. The elements of my happiness are not without me but within me. It is what I am that makes me miserable or happy. Make me holy, and you make me happy. Leave me in my guilt and sin, and you leave me miserable. The redeemed will rejoice in a holy character and in the certainty that it will never more be tainted. Here you are agitated with a thousand fears lest, in a moment of weakness and unwatchfulness, the enemy should gain the advantage over you, and you should forfeit your righteousness: but there you will be for ever redeemed from all such fears by the gracious declaration of your Lord, He that is righteous, let him be righteous still: he that is holy, let him be holy still. You have seen the dewdrop trembling on the blade of grass, and glittering with varied hues in the morning light. The sun rises and kisses it away. It seems lost and irrecoverable. Not so. That dewdrop has disappeared, but it is not destroyed. It is in safe keeping. It is held in trust by the faithful atmosphere, and will descend in dew again upon the earth when and where most needed. So God treasures up every good thing that you have done, or said, or felt, or thought for Him and His great Name. You have sown purity and you shall reap it. God will reward you according to what you have done in the body. Now, what more shall we say unto you? If it be true that you are at this moment occupying the only world where character may be changed and where regenerating forces are in operation, how important that you should come to a right decision at once, this very moment. (Richard Roberts.)
Moral character becoming unalterable
I. If it is not altered before death it is not likely to be altered at death. There is no opportunity afforded at death for such a work as this.
II. If it is not altered before death it is not likely to be altered by death. There is no tendency in bodily changes to effect spiritual reformation. Such changes in the body are constantly going on here. Wrong moral principles and habits do not pass away from us as the particles of our body depart day after day and year after year.
III. If it is not altered before death it is not likely to be altered after death.
1. A change in moral character can only be effected by the force of moral truth.
2. We cannot conceive of moral truth in a mightier form than we have it here.
3. The longer the force of truth is resisted the less likely is it to succeed. (Homilist.)
Permanence of character
These words are usually applied to the future state, and properly so. They also refer to this present life, as seen in the fact that character is permanent; that along the same lines we have hitherto progressed we shall in all human probability continue to go.
1. Notice, in confirmation of this statement, the small number of reformations from evil practices. Where one does return multitudes never leave the husks of sin and come to their Fathers house.
2. Notice how few enter an evil course late in life. Prison reports show the inmates to begin their crooked ways between ten and fifteen years of age. One criminal traced his career of sin back to childhood when he pilfered a few pennies.
3. The conservatism of age is another. The moral character which one has attained at thirty-five is a trustworthy index of what he will be to the end. Every year you delay becoming a Christian helps to fix you in indifference, and render conversion less and less probable.
4. Certain duties grow out of these facts.
(1) The duty of forming the character of those who are in a plastic state.
(2) The duty of forming our own characters.
(3) Do not shrink from these duties as being too heavy to perform.
You must meet them. If you shirk them they remain for ever neglected, and at your peril. To doubt is disloyal, to falter is to sin. (C. F. Thwing.)
The sunward side of habit
One of our quaint earlier English poets sings–
We are but farmers of ourselves, yet may
If we can stock ourselves and thrive, uplay
Much good treasure for the great rent-day.
It is a great thing to have mighty forces working for you instead of against you, so enabling you to aplay much good treasure for the great rent-day. Mr. Emerson puts the matter well: The water drowns ship and sailor like a grain of dust; but trim your bark, and the wave which drowned it will be cloven by it, and carry it like its own foam, a plume and a power. But there are certain vast moral forces at work within every one of us, which make life if they be working for us; which make death if they work against us. Habit is such a moral force. Think of the laws controlling habit.
1. Habit diminishes feeling and increases activity–e.g., the empire of a musician over an instrument. At first all sorts of feelings against–dislike of practice, inability to deftly use the fingers, etc.; and also only slow and laboured activity both of mind and body. But when the empire has been established, all these hindering feelings have been overcome, and activity has become so easy as to be almost spontaneous.
2. Habit tends to become permanent and to exclude the formation of other habits.
(1) See, then, what a boon it is if a man get this force of habit working in him and for him on the side of righteousness and nobleness! Habit of pure thinking and feeling. Habit of prayer. Habit of Bible-reading. Habit of church-going. Habit of a scrupulous integrity. Habit of steadily seeking to please and test things by the Lord Christ. Habit of testimony for Jesus.
(2) But if you are bound by evil habits and so have this great force working against you instead of for you, break at once their force by one grand volition for Christ, and He will impart power. The legend on the banner of John Hampdens regiment in the battle of Englishmens rights against a law-breaking Stuart dynasty, tells the way into the breaking of bad habits and into the possession of habits sunward side. On one side the banner was written, God with us; on the other side, Vestigia nulla retrorsum–no steps backward. (W. Hoyt, D. D.)
Truth and its results on character
The direct bearing of this statement is that of an argument for the writing and publishing of these revelations, and the holding of them up to the view of all men, over against the non-effect or ill-effect they may have upon the wicked and unbelieving, or upon the Antichrist and his adherents, who is emphatically the unjust and unclean one. Though wicked men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, and even wrest what is herein predicted of them as if it were a license for their wickedness or a fixing of it by an irresistible necessity, and so are only the more encouraged and urged on in their injustice and abominations; still, this is not to prevent the freest and fullest proclamation of the whole truth. Let the unjust one be the more confirmed in his unbelief and wickedness–let the filthy one go on in his idolatries and moral defilement with all the greater hardihood and blasphemy–that is not to restrain the making known of what shall come to pass. If it accelerates the antichristian development, and the wicked are only the more indurated in their wickedness, let it so be. Though the sun breed pestilence and death in the morasses, and only hasten putrefaction in what is lifeless and rotten, it must not therefore be blotted from the heavens, or hindered from shining into our world. There is another side to the question. If it is an ill thing to what is ill, the life of what is living requires it. Believers must be forewarned and forearmed, or they too will be deceived and perish. And if the wicked are made the wickeder, the righteous and holy will be the holier, and without it cannot be defended and kept as they need to be. Therefore, let not this holy book be sealed up, nor its grand prophecies shut off from the fullest record and the most unreserved proclamation. (J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
The stereotyping of human character
There comes a time–there will come a time to each one of us–when, whatever we are, that we shall be; when the seal of permanence will be set upon the spiritual condition; when the unjust man shall be unjust for ever, and the righteous man shall be for ever righteous. I know of nothing more serious, in itself more alarming, than this reflection. There is no one now living in sin who does not intend at some future time to turn from it and be saved. And we all have great reliance upon the power of the human will. We all think that what we are we are because we choose so to be; and, at all events, that what we wish to be in the future we can be and we shall be. And we know from Gods Word that we are to a great extent dealt with on this supposition (Psa 95:7-8; Eze 18:32). And we know that in early years there is a great susceptibility of impressions. A death in a family, a sin discovered and punished, nay, a single sermon, has often, in Gods hands, changed the course of a young life from evil to good. And it is so both ways. A particular companionship, casual in its origin, has led a young person into folly or worse than folly: the companionship is broken off as casually as it was formed; the snare is broken with it, and the young life delivered. And we observe a wonderful versatility and changeableness in that part of life. From year to year, almost from week to week, we have seen a vicissitude and an alteration. One week thoughtful, diligent, exemplary; the next week trifling, idle, troublesome. One month an attentive hearer, a reverent worshipper; the next month uninterested in the things of God; a listless and languid listener; a careless, indifferent, almost profane, member of the congregation. Thus the experience of one part of life seems almost to encourage the hope that the unjust man may not be unjust for ever; almost to suggest the fear that the righteous man may not be for ever righteous. And we cling to that hope, for others and for ourselves. I may spend, we say, forty or fifty years in sin and ungodliness, and yet have twenty or thirty years for faith and calling upon God. And the Christian minister, and the Christian man knows, indeed, no such thing as a limit or a terminus of Gods mercy and of Gods grace. But we feel that there is also a truth, and a very solemn and needful truth, on the side of the text which speaks of the permanence, of the unchangeableness, of human character. Yes, for one man who changes, a thousand change not. They pass on through life, and they end it even as they began. He who in childhood was a spoilt and wayward child, he who in boyhood was an idle and self-willed boy, he who in youth was a passionate and a dissolute young man, he who in manhood was a self-seeking and a worldly man, will probably be in old age an avaricious or an irreligious old man, and in the end one who has had his portion in this life, has received his good things here, and must look only for evil things hereafter. The experience of life as a whole does not encourage the hope of many sudden changes, of many reversals of character, of many bad beginnings and good endings. As a general rule, the unjust man will be unjust still, and the righteous and holy will be holy and righteous still. But, at all events, this will be true at a certain point, after a certain time. The connection of the words before us shows that it will be so as the end draws on; when Christs coming is instant there will be no change in human character. When the last conflict once sets in there will be no room and no time for changing sides. When the armies are once marshalled for their final encounter, there will be no fresh desertions and no new enlistments. (Dean Vaughan.)
What a man takes into the other world
If we look at it truly, his past life is just the one thing that a man does take with him when he dies. He takes himself. And that self is the product of all his past experience and action. As an oak bears in itself the results of every shower that through long years has freshened it, of every gale that has toughened it or stripped its boughs, of the sunshine that has fed it, and the drought that has parched it; so a man, when he stands at the end of life, is what he has been made by all his joys and sufferings and actions. That is what he takes into the other world his own character. (H. W. Beecher.)
Christian character not gained in sickness
One should think, said a friend to the celebrated Dr. Samuel Johnson, that sickness and the view of death would make men more religious. Sir, replied Johnson, they do not know how to go to work about it. A man who has never had religion before no more grows religious when he is sick than a man who has never learned figures can count when he has need of calculation.
Character and crises
Conduct is always reaching crises and entering upon its consequences. It may be cumulative in degree, and reach crises more and more marked; it may at last reach a special crisis which shall be the judgment when the soul shall turn to the right or left of eternal destiny. (T. T. Munger, D. D.)
Finality in character
When the future life begins every man will see Christ as He is, and the sight of Him may of itself bring a finality to his character and destiny, as it discovers each man fully to himself. (President Porter.)
Deeds and destiny
Sow an act and you will reap a habit; sow a habit and you will reap a character; sow a character and you will reap a destiny. (W. M. Thackeray.)
Death fixes character
The hour of death may be fitly likened to that celebrated picture in the National Gallery, of Perseus holding up the head of Medusa. That head turned all persons into stone who looked upon it. There is a warrior represented with a dart in his hand; he stands stiffened, turned into stone, with the javelin in his fist. There is another with a poignard beneath his robe, about to stab; he is now the statue of an assassin, motionless and cold. Another is creeping along stealthily, like a man in ambuscade, and there he stands a consolidated rock; he has looked only upon that head, and he is frozen into stone. Such is death. What I am when death is held before me, that I must be for ever. When my spirit departs, if God finds me hymning His praise, I shall hymn it in heaven; if He finds me breathing out oaths, I shall follow up those oaths in hell. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
I come quickly; and My reward is with Me.—
The coming of Christ
1. That the notices of our Lords coming are usually, in Scripture, ushered in with great solemnity, with a mark of attention and observation. Behold! (Jud 1:7).
2. That the special distribution of rewards and punishments is reserved till the second coming and appearance of Jesus Christ; My reward is with Me, to give to every man according to his work.
3. That it is our wisdom and duty to represent, by actual and solemn thoughts, the certain and speedy coming of Christ to the righteous judgment of the world. (W. Burkitt M. A.)
To give every man according as his work shall be.
Work appointed and rewarded by Christ
The modern majesty, says Carlyle, consists in work. What a man can do is his greatest ornament, and he always consults his dignity by doing it.
I. Christ appoints every Christians work.
1. Each has his own work to do for Christ.
2. Each must receive the appointment from Christ Himself.
3. Each one, therefore, is responsible to Christ alone.
II. Christ, returning, brings with Him every mans reward. Behold! A call to attention, energy, and eager expectation. The startling character of this announcement–Behold, I come quickly. When Christ comes He will bring every mans reward or recompense. His clear knowledge of the life and work of each of the vast multitude. The reward will be in proportion to the work done. (Samuel B. Stribling.)
Man meeting his actions again
In the province of Amherst, in Burmah, the foresters cut down the teak wood far up the country, then cast their logs into the river and let them float down the stream. In some instances they will float two hundred miles, when they are caught by a cable stretched across the river. They are then brought ashore and stored. When the foresters come down, every man knows his logs by his own private mark. Such are all our labours and actions. They are so many logs cast upon the stream of time and floated on to eternity. When we reach the judgment seat of Christ we shall find them each presenting the characteristic mark we have stamped upon it. (Chas. Graham.)
I am Alpha and Omega.—
Alpha and Omega
I. Bring certain truths to the text.
1. Our Lord may well be described as the Alpha and Omega in the sense of rank. He is Alpha, the first, the chief, the foremost, the first-born of every creature, the eternal God. But though our blessed Lord is thus Alpha–the first–He was once in His condescension made Omega, the last. Marshal the creatures of God in their order, in the dread day when Jesus hangs upon the Cross, and you must put Him for misery, for weakness, for shame as the last, the Omega.
2. Jesus Christ is Alpha and Omega in the book of Holy Scripture.
3. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the great law of God. The law of God finds not a single letter in human nature to meet its demands. You and I are neither Alpha nor Omega to the law, for we have broken it altogether. We have not even learned its first letter–Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and certain I am we know but very little of the next–thy neighbour as thyself. But if you would see the law fulfilled, look to the person of our blessed Lord and Master.
II. Now we will take the text itself, and show what are the truths which we assuredly believe to be in it.
1. Our Lord Jesus is Alpha and Omega in the great alphabet of being. Reckon existences in their order, and you begin–In the beginning was the Word. Proceed to the conclusion. What then? What is the Omega? Why assuredly Jesus Christ would still be God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.
2. Jesus Christ is Alpha and Omega in the alphabet of creating operations. Who was it that began to make? Not an angel, for the angel must first be made. Did matter create itself? Was there an effect without a cause? It is contrary to our experience and our reason to believe any such thing. The first cause stands first, and the first cause is God in the Divine Trinity, the Son being one Person of that Trinity. He is Alpha because His hand first of all winged angelic spirit, and made His ministers a flame of fire. As He alone began, so His power maintains the fabric of creation; all things consist by Him. If this world shall be rolled up like a worn-out vesture, He shall roll it up; if the stars shall wither, it shall be at Jesus bidding. He shall do it all, even until the end shall come, for He is Omega as well as Alpha.
3. Christ is Alpha and Omega in all covenant transactions. Everywhere the Lord Jesus is to be considered not as the friend of a day, or our Saviour only in His life on earth, but as the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, the anointed Mediator set up from everlasting days.
4. Jesus Christ is certainly Alpha and Omega in all salvation work as it becomes apparent in act and deed. If you have been led to know your own emptiness–if you have received from His Spirit a hungering and a thirsting after righteousness, go not to the law; look not within; but come to the Alpha, drink and be satisfied. If, on the other hand, life is near its close; if you have been preserved in holiness; if you have been kept in righteousness, remember still to trust in the Omega; for these words follow–He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.
III. A few things which flow out of the text.
1. Sinner, saint, let Jesus be Alpha and Omega to thee to-day in thy trust.
2. If you have trusted Him, let Him be Alpha and Omega in your love.
3. Surely He should be the Alpha and Omega of our lifes end and aim. What is there worth living for but Christ?
4. He should be the Alpha and Omega of all our preaching and teaching. If you leave out Christ, you have left the sun out of the day, and the moon out of the night; you have left the waters out of the sea, and the floods out of the river; you have left the harvest out of the year, the soul out of the body; you have left joy out of heaven, yea, you have robbed all of its all. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Christ the Alpha and Omega
This declaration is made of Jesus Christ. It is oft-repeated in this book to give it emphasis. It indicates the supremacy and absolute government of the Redeemer God. All creatures, all things, all relations and dispensations have their source in Him, and will find their end in Him.
I. Jesus Christ is the real, alpha and omega of the present order of things. He is over it all, and in it all, and the life of it all, and the genius of it all, and the substance and end of it all. By right of office the headship and kingship of it belong to Him. Before any creature or world existed, the eternal Alpha was. He is the Everlasting Father, as Isaiah styles Him–the Father of all the angels in heaven, as well as of all mankind. Creative power begins with and ends in Him. Providence is the executor of His will. Redemption underlies all the arrangements, counsels, and purposes of God. Here is our confidence. The Gospel promise cannot fail, for it is the word of Him who abideth for ever, the will of Him who is supreme over all, and the work of Him who made the earth and the stars.
II. Jesus Christ is the alpha and omega of all the Divine manifestations made to the creatures of God. We have in the material universe a most wonderful manifestation of God. All His natural attributes are thereby brought to light, and we are confronted with Deity. But the light of nature affords but an imperfect and uncertain idea of God. His moral perfections are His chief glory, and nature reveals nothing of these. It is the plan and work of human redemption which most clearly and signally makes God known to man, and even to angels. This work has Christs mediation for its basis, Christs atonement for its grand expression, and the Holy Spirit as its efficient agent. To accomplish it all power has been given to Christ, and all creatures, and all things in heaven and on earth are made subservient to Him. Not that Christ is a mere manifestation of God. He is as distinctly a person as the Father. But it is in Christ only that God speaks, shines forth, acts. The glory of the Godhead shines for us only in the face of Jesus Christ. We see in Him Gods moral perfections as well as His natural attributes. The goodness and mercy and holiness and justice of God find fearful expression in the person and work of the incarnated One.
III. Christ is the alpha and omega of the holy scriptures. He is the central character, the life, the essence, the burden, and the substance of them. To set forth Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life, is their chief end. He is the first promise of mercy made to man, and equally the last. His office, work, and history are blended and interwoven with the whole structure of revelation.
IV. Christ is the alpha and omega of mans salvation. Christ is the finisher of our salvation as well as its author. He completes whatsoever He begins. He never leaves or forsakes one who has felt His pardoning mercy, until he is safe in heaven. He will wash out the last stain of guilt from the soul, conquer the last enemy, and present us faultless before His Fathers throne with exceeding glory.
V. Christ is the alpha and omega of the life of God in the soul of the believer. By nature we are dead in sin, and no will or power of man can give us life. Christ is our life. He only has power to raise us up from the death of sin; to keep us alive; to cause us to grow in grace, and assimilate us to the character of God.
VI. Christ is the alpha and omega of the saints final glory. Heaven is the culmination of Christs power and of Gospel blessedness. Then will it be made manifest that Jesus Christ is indeed the Alpha and Omega of Gods eternal government; the head of all creatures; the end of all manifestations; the substance of all things; the glory of all economies; the fountain of all being.
1. We infer from this subject that Jesus Christ is an indispensable necessity to every one of us. For it is only in Him that we attain to the real end of our being.
2. How real and how fearful is the sin of living away life and probation aside from the service and glory of Jesus Christ. (J. M. Sherwood.)
Christ, the Alpha and Omega
That it is Christ who here speaks, no one can doubt. The words that immediately precede separate the speaker from every created angel: Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be. These words involve a claim to Deity. This is given in the Old Testament as a title of Jehovah, distinguishing Him from the idols of paganism (Isa 44:6)! Christ is the Alpha and Omega in relation to creation and providence. Christianity is at this day the great upholder of Theism in the world. It has unspeakably distanced Judaism. But Christianity is more than the witness of simple Theism. There is a trinity in its unity, and this gives it a richness, a grandeur, an adaptability to the fallen state of man of which mere Theism is incapable. Hence the Son shines in the Christian firmament as the true God, along with the Father and the Holy Ghost; and thus the Divine works of Creation and Providence are connected with His name. And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. There is a grandeur in the Scripture doctrine of Creation to which even science and philosophy, however reason also teach it, find it hard to rise. Much of the professed Theism of our day runs into Pantheism by lifting up the Creation to something like the Divine level, or losing itself in some ascending series without a true summit. But Scripture gives to God the glory of this truly Divine work, without either lifting the creature too far in the scale, or separating the divinity unduly from it. And thus, while it guards true Theism by the doctrine of Creation, it further guards it by making God create all things by Jesus Christ. But while we ever thus claim, and even reclaim Creation for Christ, not less Providence also; for the one involves the other. The system of things, though by law and order it makes a system, cannot be left without the special control of its Author; and thus we are told of the Saviour, that He upholdeth all things by the word of His power,–and that in Him all things consist. He who is the Creator and Upholder must also be the Last End of all things, the Omega as well as the Alpha, though nothing greater is said of our Lord in the whole Bible; and thus the whole from first to last hangs together.
II. I am thus led to speak of Christ as the Alpha and Omega in relation to redemption. We feel at first as if there were a contraction of horizon when we turn from the vast realm of Creation and Providence to that of Redemption. But this impression is soon corrected. Rather Creation and Providence are liker the stage on which the great events of sacred history, which is the centre of all histories, are to be transacted.
1. I remark then that Christ is the Alpha and Omega in regard to Redemption as a Divine saving plan. We cannot ascend to the origin of this plan; for it is from eternity. But as far as we can rise, Christ is seen to be its fountain-head, and with His purpose of devotement it is bound up. Lo, I come! In the volume of the book it is written of Me; I delight to do Thy will, O My God; Thy law is within my heart. This is a starting-point, where Christ comes forth as the Alpha in His Divine purpose. He was the author of the patriarchal dispensation. Its scattered promises, then few and far between, were presented like early stars by His hand. Its humble altars and simple sacrifices rose at His word, and He appeared in person to Enoch and to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Mosaic dispensation was also full of Him. Moses and all the prophets spoke as they were moved by His Spirit dwelling in them. All the types and shadows that foretold His saving work had Himself for their author. And as He was thus the Alpha of this Old Testament dispensation that stretched in successive forms through thousands of years, so was He bound to be its Omega. What would it all have signified without Him? Its prophecies would have remained fruitless divinations; its types a heap of riddles. But it became Him to fulfil it; and when the fulness of the time was come, He appeared as the Omega of the Old Testament economy; and at the same time the Alpha of the New. Let us look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Let us rejoice with joy unspeakable, that He who was the Alpha of our redemption became the Omega too. Now He is beyond, and we are beyond, that awful darkness. It is finished! Let us not lower His work and misunderstand it, while at the same time we unduly exalt our own by speaking as if Christs sacrifice belonged to the same category with ours. Then had He died not to end sacrifice, but to begin it, and stand at the head of a long line of sufferers taking away sin out of the world by essentially the same endurance with His. But He is alone! His blood shed, as ours never can be, for remission of sins unto many.
2. I remark that Christ is the Alpha and Omega of Redemption as a personal Christian experience. When is it that one of us becomes a Christian? Is it not when Christ Himself draws near, and talks with us, as with the disciples on the way? We have no experimental Christianity apart from Him. He is the Alpha of our personal religious history. We may seem to ourselves to have begun this work; but Christ has begun it before us. For this opening of hearts, what is it but the result of His unlocking of them? But with Christ all originates. If we are pardoned, it is because we have redemption through His blood–even the forgiveness of sins; if we are restored to Gods family, it is because that to as many as receive Him He gives the privilege of becoming the sons of God. If we are washed and sanctified as well as justified, it is in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. We can trace no part of it back to ourselves, or to any other benefactor; for we see and feel that, like bread of life, it comes from heaven. This is the deepest spirit of all Christian experience. Our theologies may be somewhat different, but our doxologies are one. Thus is it with the first grand experience of converting and saving grace; but not less does Christ blend and mingle with all the succeeding experiences of the Christians history. He gently smooths the steps of every pilgrim in the ways of holiness. He suffers not the smoking flax to be quenched, or the bruised reed to be broken. In temptation Christ is a defence to the Christian, in darkness a light. What is Christian experience but this secret history of the affections of the soul towards an ever-present Saviour? He outgrows his childhood and youth, forgetting many things as things behind. He forsakes the books which once he loved, the studies from which he was inseparable. But time itself cannot antiquate his attachment to his Saviour. We know the Alpha of our earthly friendships, but we do not know their Omega. We bless God for our good hope that they will stand and comfort us in the last extremity. But in regard to Christ we have more than probability; we have persuasion. I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, etc.
3. I remark that Christ is the Alpha and Omega of Redemption as a collective spiritual history. Christianity was never intended to be a solitary experience, or a multitude of single experiences. It was to be a society–a Church. Was it not a great thing in Christ to be the Alpha of such a society; to build it upon a foundation already laid, and yet to make it far more spiritual, energetic, and wide-embracing; to enlarge its statute-book by adding a New Testament to the Old. Christ stands forth as the Alpha of this new creation, such as had never been seen in the world before–visible in doctrine, discipline, worship, and government, and yet invisible, because having its deepest seat in the hidden man of the heart, with more of its members in heaven than on earth, and more in the future than now alive. He was the seed-corn, falling into the ground and dying, which brought forth all this fruit. As we read the Acts of the Apostles, the sequel to the Gospels is evident to all–the same Christ in a new sphere, His name working signs and wonders on the souls, and still also on the bodies, of men, living virtue going out of Him–the bread blessed and feeding thousands–the great multitude obedient to the faith. The earthly leaders visibly do not lead. They point to One above–and their dying charge renews the battle, Remember Jesus Christ. Thus will Christ be the Alpha of His Church till He becomes the Omega. It is a work never ending, still beginning. Christ has to cope with the multiplication of the human race, born in sin, and needing fresh grace. He has to cope with backsliding and apostasy;–with superstition, heresy, and infidelity; with all the devices and depths of Satan.
4. I remark in the last place, that Christ is the Alpha and Omega of Redemption, considered as an endless development. When we speak of eternity we feel that we are dealing with a quantity which, whether as applied to mans natural endowment or destiny in Christ, overtasks all our powers alike of conception and description. He is thus the Alpha of the everlasting ages, the morning star that leads in the endless day I Specially to the ransomed themselves is Christ the Alpha of the Christian heaven, lie has prepared the place; He has provided the company; He has measured out alike the rest and the activity; He has diffused the love. A blessedness like this, inaugurated by Christ, and quickened by His presence, can only begin, but never end. And thus Christ may be said to be the Omega of the heavenly world, as He is its Alpha. He has united its beginning and its ending as in a golden circle. He has so gloriously consummated the being of the redeemed, that it can endure for ever without exhaustion or decay, without change or reconstruction. He has so wondrously built the celestial system, that it can supply themes of endless interest and ever-increasing joy. And in Himself He has so concentrated all that makes heaven blissful and ennobling, that its riches must remain for ever riches that are unsearchable, and its glory, a glory to be revealed. Who is there that would resist the attraction of the person, work, and saving grace of that great Being, whose glories I have feebly endeavoured to shadow forth? Before you reject this Saviour think how you will face eternity without Him! Oh, rather embrace His favour while the day of mercy lasts! There Christ shall become the Alpha of your salvation; and the depths of your never-ending existence shall not witness the day that He shall withdraw His love. (J. Cairns, D. D.)
The place of Christ in Christianity
If our religion is to come from the New Testament, Christ must have a place in it which no other can share. Gods forgiveness does not come to us independent of Christ, past Him, over His head, so that we can count Him as one of those who best knew and most fully proclaimed an unimaginable mercy, which would have been all that it is even had He never lived; it comes only in Him, and through His death for our sins. That this is the distinctively Christian position is clearly seen by those who have been brought up in other religions. An interesting illustration of this was given some time ago in India. A Hindu Society was formed which had for its object to appropriate all that was good in Christianity without burdening itself with the rest. Among other things which it appropriated, with the omission of only two words, was the answer given in the Westminster Shorter Catechism to the question, What is repentance unto life? Here is the answer: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience. The words the Hindus left out were in Christ; instead of apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, they read simply apprehension of the mercy of God. But they knew that this was not compromising. They were acute enough to see that in the words they left out the whole Christianity of the definition lay; they felt that here was the barb of the hook, and as they had no intention of being caught, they broke it off. (J. Denny, D. D.)
Christ the Omega
Christ is the close and climax of history. Christ is, we believe, the innermost word that God will speak. Christianity must always claim finality for the revelation that comes through Him. (H. Scott-Holland, M. A.)
Blessed are they that do His commandments.–
The blessedness of keeping the commandments
The commandments of God are the laws of happiness. They are the rules of health both for soul and body. There can be no well-being on earth, and no heaven without them. We have too long been in the habit of thinking that goodness is only good because God has commanded it, and evil would be good, or at least very pleasant, if it had not been forbidden. We have not regarded goodness as the indispensable means of happiness, just as much as breath is to life, labour to success, or water to steam. The commandments are the laws of goodness. They are summed up by our Lord into two (Mat 22:36-40). Here are the essential laws of happiness. Society constituted upon them must be happy. Let love to God fill the heart, inspire the intellect, and pervade every thought, and we walk as the friends of the Lord. We exult in our heavenly Fathers goodness (Isa 48:18). The Lord is to the soul like the sun to the solar system. From Him come the warmth, the brightness, and the fertility which beautify and bless the soul. It is as vain to expect a bright or a happy mind where love to God is not, as to expect bright or a cheerful world without the sun. And hence, the Divine command is not an arbitrary decree. It is the condition of our well-being. Nothing can dispense with it (Deu 32:46-47). Let us consider a little in detail the commandments in relation to God. But first let us notice that they are addressed to those who have come out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. When the soul, wearied with the tyranny of sin, receives the help offered by its Saviour, He proclaims liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison-house to them that were bound. He strikes the fetters from the slave of his sins, and gives to His delivered servant the glorious liberty of the children of light. None but these can keep the commandments, or desire to do so. Hence, they are addressed to such. He is the First and the Last. He who comes to Him will find rest unto his soul. Ambition is a fearful idol. We watch its worshipper giving himself to its absorbing anxieties, to engross all his faculties, that he may achieve success. The merchant has become a millionaire, and is insane. Such is the result of worshipping the likeness of things on the earth. It is the same when we bow down to and serve an image or likeness of anything in the waters under the earth. Spiritual fish are those appetites for science which delight in the waters of knowledge. The world of thought is a wide sea. The thoughts of the worldly are as a vast troubled sea (Isa 57:20). Only where the glorious river and streams of Divine truth flow can the sanctified sciences, the true fish of the soul, really live. Not a small history would that be which detailed the sorrows of scientific men when their science has not been made sober and sacred by being subordinated to heavenly wisdom. One eminent man, after waiting in vain for a kings smile, in France, went and died of chagrin. Another committed suicide because the British Association had not awarded him sufficient honour for his chemical discoveries. And what a world of suffering does such a termination disclose! To make life a circle of blessing it must begin and end with God. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. To form this first indispensable element for happiness, the Lord, from His infinite love to us, is a jealous God. He requires our worship not for His sake, but ours. He needs nothing of ours, but we need Him. He watches, with unutterable tenderness, to preserve us from the hell of existence in the wild chaos of being in which He is not the supreme centre and the supreme law. He is jealous with an infinite and holy jealousy, to preserve each child from danger and from ruin. But He warns us, also, that ruin to one generation involves danger to the next. In His wisdom He has connected the race together like the links of a chain, so that the progress of one generation may transmit better qualities to another, and thus the race be ever advancing to a higher degree of talent, of order, and happiness. The wealth, mental as well as physical, is thus transmitted to the future generations of mankind. This law, however, when perverted, works in the opposite direction. The iniquity of the father is visited upon the son. It must be so. The order of nature is not suspended. It works inversely, because man will have it so, but it exists. He, therefore, who would know the extent of the wrong he does when he sins, should reflect, not only on its consequences to himself, but on the hereditary evil he transmits to his children. They are, it is true, not punished for it, but it gives them a proneness to actual evils for which they will be punished. The first three commandments are the head and essence of the whole. They fill the rest with spiritual life. Without them the rest are dead and unavailing. The first three relate to spiritual life, the next five to the conduct of man in civil society, and the remaining two to his moral life and motives. Here permit me to draw your attention to the interesting circumstances recorded in the Gospel, respecting the young man who came to inquire of the Lord what he must do to inherit eternal life. The Saviour supplied what the young man was lacking–the essence of the first three commandments, which he had in reality not done. Here, again, we see the blessedness of keeping the Divine laws. The young man, though rich, and in many respects estimable; though in the sight of the world worthy of admiration, and to some an object of envy, was unhappy. He felt there was a void within, which no outward possessions, or even the moral law alone, could fill. God must be enthroned there: He must be the tree of life in the centre of the garden, or there will be no paradise. No one can have that confidence which is essential to happiness who is not resting on the Rock of Ages; no one has a right to have it; no one has a right to enjoy himself in the universe who does not render homage to its Great Proprietor. But when a man devotes himself to the Lord, a peace inexpressible takes possession of his soul–a bright dawn, like that of a morning in spring, breaks in upon him, and all things laugh and sing. It is the kingdom of heaven come nigh unto him: it is heaven begun. We will now notice the commandments which relate to civil life, that is, in the letter, for in the spiritual sense we must ever bear in mind they all relate to operations in the soul, and to our supreme obedience to the Lord, and the rejection of internal evils as sins against Him; in this sense the commandments are exceedingly broad (Psa 119:96). We need scarcely remark how miserable are the homes where the parents are not respected; what insolences, what contempt, what slightings of parental counsel, what jealousies of the rest of the family, take away satisfaction from the children, and make a perpetual source of discomfort to the parents. But, on the contrary, how blessed is the home where father and mother are honoured! Confidence in their loving hearts is felt. Mutual kindness weaves continually garlands of spiritual roses. Let us take another commandment: Thou shalt not commit murder. Who could possibly be happy while violating this? Even in the lighter form, in which the act is not committed, but, as the Lord teaches in the gospel, a person hates another, there is no possibility of happiness. Hate takes away peace from the heart where it dwells; it forms a brood of viperous tempers, which not only strive to injure the person hated, but also prey upon one another. The same result will follow the consideration of every other commandment. No happiness can exist except in proportion as it is from the heart obeyed. Again and again we say, How could a heaven exist where these perfect laws do not exist, or how can a breach of them result in anything but sorrow? It is the same with bearing false witness against the neighbour. An atmosphere of lies must be fraught with curses. Even the last two commandments, though externally not appearing to relate to evils so formidable to society, in reality do so most completely. Where all are covetous must be misery indeed; to feel that you were surrounded by those who envied you every comfort, who greedily watched and waited for every opportunity to despoil you. The hell of the covetous must be a real chamber of horrors, overflowing with envy and gall. On the contrary, as this spirit is shunned or subdued, a delight in imparting takes its place, a rejoicing over anothers joy. A cheerful generous outpouring of blessed influences, an intense satisfaction in the well-being of others; a watchfulness in seizing every opportunity to promote the general joy; these principles and states unlock the very portals of bliss, and give us the reason for the Divine words (Isa 48:18). Let it not be said, that in the New Testament these Divine laws are repealed, for the very reverse is the case. The Lord came to give us new power to keep the essential laws of our happiness (Mat 5:17; Mat 5:19-20). Did the Lords coming, death, glorification, and resurrection, give no power to follow Him in the regeneration, and to keep His commandments? Is keeping the commandments such a difficult thing that the Holy Spirit cannot enable us to do it? The apostle said, I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me, and why cannot you? It is not the power you want, it is the will. Keeping the commandments does not make difficulties; it is not keeping them. Awake to righteousness, and sin not. Rouse yourself to the determination to vanquish evil, and with the Lord and His angels assisting you, the victory will be sure. (J. Bailey, Ph. D.)
I. Obedience must be sincere, flowing from a renewed heart, sprinkled from an evil conscience.
1. This obedience proceeds from faith: this is the main principle of the Christian life.
2. This obedience to the commands of God, flows also from love to Him (1Jn 5:3).
II. Right obedience to the commandments of God is impartial and without reserve.
III. The evangelical keeping the commandments of God, is habitual, constant, persevering.
IV. Doing the commandments of God according to the covenant of grace, is directed to his glory. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
The reward of debt and the reward of grace
I. The work: Blessed are they that do His commandments. The obedience intended is that which is the fruit and offspring of a renewed nature, the obedience of the penitent believer. Every man truly turned to God echoes the sentiment, Oh, how love I Thy law! I delight in the law of God, after the inward man. He aspires to and labours after entire conformity to that law, as being that which constitutes the perfection of His being.
II. The reward: Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life. (D. Kelly, M. A.)
The blessedness of the obedient
I. The character of the persons here declared to be blessed. They do the commandments of Christ. The commandments of Christ are the revelation of the will of God. This revelation consists partly of doctrines or truths to be believed, and partly of duties to be performed.
II. The connection between doing the commandments of Christ and having a right to eat of the tree of life. And here, at the very first, it is necessary to state that we must beware of imagining that by doing the commandments we procure for ourselves a title to eternal life. The work of our salvation is, in the Word of God, ascribed to Christ, from its commencement to its close. As He suffered in our stead, so He fulfilled for us all righteousness, and left us nothing to perform–nothing, I say, to perform in the way of recommending ourselves to the favour of God; although we have unquestionably much to perform on other grounds. The persons in the text have the right, because God has declared and promised in His Word, which can never be broken, that they who possess that character which manifests itself in aiming at a holy and constant obedience to His law, shall have the right, or more properly the privilege of eating of the tree of life, and of entering in hereafter through the gates into the city. To the fulfilment of this promise it is by no means necessary that obedience and right should be connected together as cause and effect. It is at the same time perfectly true, for it is asserted repeatedly in the Bible, that the good works of the saints are rewarded by God, but then this is entirely owing to their union with Christ by faith. God may also be said to confer rewards upon us for our holy and benevolent actions, inasmuch as these actions are signs and evidences of our union with Christ, and in so doing we may consider Him as promising the reward, not on account of signs or evidences themselves, but solely on account of the thing which they signify.
III. Wherein consists the happiness of those who, by doing the commandments of Christ, ascertain their right to eat of the tree of life, and to enter in through the gates into the city. The expression, tree of life, is most probably figurative; but figurative though it be, it unquestionably intimates that the heavenly happiness shall be of perpetual duration, and it conveys to us this truth in a most significant and forcible manner. We shall eat of the tree of life. Think only of how much alarm and misery death is the cause in this world, and then you will be enabled, in some measure, to conceive the felicity of that other and better world in which there shall be no more death. But further, they who do the commandments of Christ shall enter in through the gates into the city, they shall be openly received and welcomed into the city of the heavenly Jerusalem, through the regular and lawful entrance, as citizens of a place have the right and privilege of admission. A city conveys the idea of security, and comfort, and society. By its walls it protects from the assaults of enemies; by its gates it excludes whatever might hurt, or offend, or incommode; and by the number of those who live within it, united together by sameness of interests, laws, language, religion, and manners, it puts us in possession of all the gratifications which flow from society and friendly intercourse. As the happiness of the redeemed shall be endless in duration, so also shall it be uninterrupted and without diminution. (A. Bullock, M.A.)
That they may have right to the tree of life.—
The tree of life
(with Gen 3:24):–
I. The tree of life in the garden of innocence. This picture supplies us with two important facts. One is that primitive man was not at all handicapped in his first moral struggle by any circumstances arising out of the manner of his creation. There does not seem to be any reason in the nature of things, or in the nature of man as he was originally constituted, why he should of necessity have disaster and defeat as pre-conditions of ultimate victory. The tree of life was there in the garden within possible reach, and if man had conquered instead of being conquered, no cherubim could have prevented his tasting of this ambrosial fruit and so entering into life. It is true that conflict is necessary in passing from innocence to virtue, but conflict is not necessarily defeat. There is the nobler alternative of victory, which was exemplified by the second Adam, the Son of Man, who fought over again the battle of humanity, and won it from first to last. So we are led to another fact that mans first moral action constituted a real failure, that there occurred in the beginning of human history a veritable moral fall. The tree of life in the garden of innocence is no meaningless figure. It reveals what might have been if man had been victorious in Eden. The splendid prize here forfeited serves already to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
II. The tree of life in the garden of guilt. How, then, are we to translate the symbolic picture of the cherubim guarding with the sword of flame the tree of life from the approach of guilty man into every-day prose? It is simply the symbolic representation of the fulfilment of the law–The soul that sinneth it shall die. The fact of guilt has shut man off from the life that had lain before him in his state of innocence as a glorious possibility. This once more emphasises the fact that sin was a real, and in itself an unmitigated disaster. The symbolic picture of the tree surrounded by strong cherubim reveals mans impotence to regain unaided what he had lost. No sin-defiled soul can challenge the dread cherubim, or tempt the blazing stroke of the awful sword, and live. Yet already the promise was given of One who, on behalf of poor humanity, should cleave His way through the fiery guard of righteousness to the tree of life, and lead thither many of earths baffled children, who should be victors in His victory, and strong in His strength.
III. The tree of life in the city of redemption: Blessed are they that wash their robes. The kingdom of Life revealed in Johns Revelation is a kingdom of Redemption, of which a Lamb as it had been slain, that is, the fact and power of a great all-availing sacrifice, is the centre. So we find that the new way to the tree of life is through the sacrifice of Christ, it is trodden by those that have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. The operation here indicated is twofold. The washing of the robes indicates on the one hand, the forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of Christ. Here is one side of the curse removed; the guilty are forgiven for the sake of the Beloved. But there is also another side. The sacrifice of Christ was also a victory. This supreme sacrifice for sin involved the destruction of sin. He that died all the more gloriously lived, and became the fount of eternal life to those that trust in Him. Hence in this book we are told that the saints overcome the evil one by the blood of the Lamb. So their robes are made white, not only by the forgiving love of God which is made possible by the great Sacrifice, but also by the spiritual power that comes through the crucified Christ. So in very deed their sins are washed away, and at length they are able to stand in the eternal Light through the eternal Love. The tree of life meets us first in a garden, but at last in a glorious city. So God moves on in spite of sin, and leads the world through Christ to greater glory. It is not Eden regained that God gives us. Eden was but a garden, primitive, narrow, and circumscribed, suited for a life of simple innocence with little expansion or development of capacity and power. But redemption introduces us to a noble city with its complicated claims, its vast possibilities, and its myriad grandeurs. Leaving metaphor aside, God in Christ is calling us to a life full of large and noble and varied activity. Christian life should fill every sphere, be foremost in all true service for God and man, and reveal all the activities of life at their best. (John Thomas, M. A.)
Right to the tree of life
I. Now, it is hardly possible to study the Scripture accounts without leaning to the opinion that the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were strictly sacramental–in other words, that as symbolical trees they did what they could never do as material. The tree of life, whatever were its foliage and fruit, was clearly not one of those trees which the earth had been appointed naturally to produce. Placed in the centre of the brilliant scenery of Eden, it answered purposes peculiar to itself. It is not classed among the trees good for food; and if therefore all those trees, as affording nourish-meat by their fruit, were trees of life, it must have been in some far different sense that this single tree was emphatically styled the tree of life. Besides, it should be remembered that when man had sinned by eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, God gave as a reason for expelling him from Eden–Lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever. So that, in some way or other, immortality was to have been consequent on the eating of this tree. Indeed, there are various passages in which, as well as in our text, mention is made of the tree of life; and we suppose that what is intended by the figure in these later instances must have been typified by the tree in the midst of the garden. But when Solomon speaks of the eternal wisdom as a tree of life–when Christ declares to the Church of Ephesus, To him that over-cometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God–or when, as in our text, a blessing is pronounced on those who do Gods commandments, as having right to the tree of life, there can be nothing clearer than that by taking of the tree of life is meant a participation of that eternal life with God in heaven which Christ Jesus has merited for His followers. Therefore we seem justified in concluding that the tree of life in Paradise was nothing less than an instructive symbol of that Second Person in the Trinity, who in every age has been the life of the world.
II. And now, assuming, as we think we may, that Christ, as represented to us in Scripture, is the tree of life, we pass on to consider the blessing pronounced on those who do Gods commandments–that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Now, the persons whom the text pronounces blessed are those that do Gods commandments. The terms on which they partake of the tree of life are those of absolute right: that they may have right to the tree of life. Right presupposes debt, and a debt can never coexist with gift. We think, then, that we must carry with us your ready assent when we argue that forasmuch as the doing of Gods commandments which is mentioned in the text puts man into the position of having right to the tree of life, the supposed obedience must be something more than a mere creature obedience, even though that obedience were wrought up to an unspotted perfection. We are required, then, to search for a doing of the commandments which shall be productive of right; for if none such be discovered the pronounced blessing will have none on whom to descend. The moral law exists no longer as a covenant. It can hardly, therefore, be to obedience to the commandments of this law that the blessings are annexed. But there is a commandment peculiar to the gospel which we may obey, and obedience to which shall procure for us right. This is His commandment, saith St. John, that we believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ; and there is the most exact agreement between this statement and the answer of Jesus to the Jews. When they asked Him, What shall we do to work the works of God? Jesus said, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. So that the great commandment under the gospel dispensation–a commandment which distinguishes the dispensation from the legal–is simply the commandment to believe on the Saviour. This commandment, we, though weak and insufficient, may thoroughly do–not indeed in our own strength, for this is the work of God, but through the power of the quickening Spirit which stirs us from the lethargy of our nature, and enables us to put faith in the sacrifice and righteousness of Christ. But if a man thus strengthened by supernatural assistance do the commandment which belongs especially to the gospel, he will certainly have right to the tree of life. Yes, have right–for the commandment requires faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and what is it which faith effects for him who is enabled to exercise it, if it be not that it incorporates him into the mystical body of the Saviour, and so causes him to appear in the sight of God as having suffered and obeyed in Christ? And thus we vindicate, as we hope, the truth that a believer, though in himself he can deserve nothing but utter condemnation, yet in Christ may have right to all that is magnificent and glorious. He passes into the saints rest,, a conqueror, yea, more than a conqueror, through Him that loved him, angels chanting his welcome, and God Himself approving his credentials of victory. He enters, as you observe it stated in the last clause of our text, through the gates into the city. He is not admitted, as it were, by stealth, whilst the sentinels sleep; he is not admitted by bribery, the keepers consenting to overlook the deficiencies of his passport; he is not admitted surreptitiously, through some neglected breach, or by a secret subterranean passage; but amid the blazings of Deity, and with thousand times ten thousand spirits gazing on his march as a mighty one, going forward to his right, he enters in through the gates into the city. Who will not confess that Christ much. Oh, for a faith in Christ, that we may obtain the blessedness of those who do Gods commandments. This is the thing wanted, the thing to be prayed for with earnestness and sincerity. Then, when we feel that we have right, how glorious will the Saviour appear! (H. Melvill, B. D.)
Right to the tree of life
I. Moral obedience. Obedience is the moral perfection of an intelligent and responsible agent. Obedience to law was the condition of continuance in Paradise, and it is the condition of its being regained. But there are important differences in the cases. A redemptive law is essential. A redemptive provision has been made and introduced, and a propitiation made. God shows mercy in a way of righteousness; and the law of faith is related directly to that scheme and the Being who embodies it. Spiritually blessed are they who obey the law of Faith.
II. The rights of man. There are political, social, and legal rights. These are not in question here. The text refers to spiritual rights arising out of the Divine redemptive bestowments, or what is called grace. There are two great desires throbbing in the human breast–the desire for immortality, and that for a redeeming and renewing grave and love. The gospel meets both–it confers a right to the tree of life.
III. The celestial home of the obedient believer. The home-coming of the pilgrims, and the developed, matured, perfected society to which they are introduced; their stores of knowledge, modes of intercourse, and methods of beneficent and blessed combination. The perfect worship of the city whose temple is the Lord God and the Lamb. (John Stoughton, D. D.)
The tree of life and the entering into the city
The Christian life has many features and many characteristics. This is one of them–it is a perpetual washing of the robes. No spot or stain must be suffered to remain upon them. It is a most dangerous thing to fall into the habit of letting any committed sin pass sub silentio, as it were, between man and his soul. Scripture, indeed, counsels no morbid self-scrutiny. The man does not wash perhaps each separate spot and stain, but it is because he washes the whole robe and them with it. In one way the tablets of memory, and the tablets of conscience, and the tablets of the life, must be sponged clean every evening; and in only one way: by what Scripture calls the Blood of the Lamb, that is, the atonement made once for all, for all sin, and applied, in earnest faith, to the individual mans heart and soul in the sight of God. Carelessness about washing the robes for pardon runs on into carelessness about washing the robes for purity. It is easy to see, for every mans experience shows it, the connection between the washing of the robes and the access to the tree of life. Let a man recall a day on which he let his sins alone in the way of notice, and in the way of sorrow, and in the way of confession, and in the way of prayer for pardon, and in the way of supplication for grace–he will recall, also, a day on which he was a stranger to God as to all peaceful communion and as to all comforting hope. This explains for all practical purposes why it should be true also, as the net result of the life, that it is they who have habitually, in this world, washed their robes, who shall have the right, in that world, of access to the tree of life. There remains yet one clause of the text, and one remarkable feature of the saints rest and glory–And that they may enter in through the gates into the city. All are struck, I suppose, by this thought. Paradise Lost was a garden, Paradise Regained is a city. Paradise lost was symbolised by a garden, destitute of all the disciplinary influences of the life of contradicting wills and conflicting interests. God was there; but it was as the God of Nature and Providence, not as the God of Compassion, the God of Revelation, or the God of Grace. Paradise regained is a city, even though it still has its river and its foliage, its spacious expanse, and its beautiful scenery; it is the Great City, the Holy City. This last book of the Bible, and one other book–the Epistle to the Hebrews–have the privilege of so designating it; but the idea is in all the Epistles and in all the Gospels. Heaven is no place of luxurious repose–no state of delicious communing with a God who knows only the self-man, and the spirit that is within him. Heaven is a society, a community, and a polity. Its life is two-sided–it is a life Godward, and it is a life manward; it is a life of direct access, and it is a life of boundless love. Into that city they who have here constantly, and at last perfectly, washed their robes shall find themselves, entering by no narrow or secret postern, but, as it is here written, by the gates, through those wide and splendid portals, as the Greek expression has it, opening of their own accord to receive them, of which it is written in the earlier part of this record that at each one stands a ministering angel; and again, that the gates shall not be shut at all by day, and day only need be spoken of, for There shall be no night there. (Dean Vaughan.)
The last beatitude of the ascended Christ
The Revised Version reads: Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life. There can be no doubt whatever that this reading is the correct one. Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they might have right to the tree of life, carries us back to the old law, and has no more hopeful a sound in it than the thunders of Sinai. Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life, has the clear ring of the New Testament music about it, and is in full accord with the whole type of doctrine that runs through this book; and is not unworthy to be almost the last word that the lips of the Incarnate Wisdom spoke to men from heaven.
I. If we are clean it is because we have been made so. The first benediction that Jesus Christ spoke from the mountain was, Blessed are the poor in spirit. The last benediction that He speaks from heaven is, Blessed are they that wash their robes. And the act commended in the last is but the outcome of the spirit extolled in the first. For they who are poor in spirit are such as know themselves to be sinful men; and those who know themselves to be sinful men are they who will cleanse their robes in the blood of Jesus Christ.
II. These cleansed ones, and by implication these only, have unrestrained access to the source of life. The tree of life stands as the symbol here of an external source. I take life to be used here in what I believe to be its predominant New Testament meaning, not bare continuance in existence, but a full ideal perfection and activity of all the faculties and possibilities of the man, which this very apostle himself identifies with the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ. And that life, says Jn, has an external source in heaven as on earth. And the source is the tree of life. They that wash their robes have the right of unrestrained access to Him in whose presence, in that loftier state, no impurity can live. The tree of life, according to some of the old Rabbinical legends, the tree of life lifted its branches, by an indwelling motion, high above impure hands that were stretched to touch them, and until our hands are cleansed through faith in Jesus Christ, its richest fruit hangs unreachable, golden, above our heads. Oh, the fulness of the life of heaven is only granted to them who, drawing near Jesus Christ by faith on earth, have thereby cleansed themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
III. Those who are cleansed, and they only, have the entrance into the society of the city. The city is the emblem of security and of permanence. No more shall life be as a desert march, with changes which only bring sorrow, and yet a dreary monotony amidst them all. We shall dwell amid abiding realities, ourselves fixed in unchanging but ever-growing completeness and peace. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
And may enter in through the gates into the city.—
Heaven-gate; or, the passage to Paradise
I. The motion. Enter in. They are blessed that enter in. Perseverance only makes happy. Some came into the vineyard in the morning, some at noon, others later; none received the penny but they that stayed till night. Indeed, this grace perfects all graces. We believe in vain if our faith hold not out to the end. We love in vain if our charity grow cold at last. We pray in vain if our zeal grows faint. We strive in vain at the strait gate if not till we enter. Man is naturally like a horse that loveth short journeys; and there are few that hold out. Whence it comes that the last are often first, and the first last. But he that at every step looks at every stop, and numbers his perils with his paces, either turns aside faintly, or turns back cowardly. Thou walkest every day little or much. Continue this walk forward thy way, and a few days shall bring thee to Olympus. Every day every man takes some pains; let him bestow that measure of pains in travelling to heaven; and the further he goes the more heart he gets, till at last he enter through the gates into the city.
II. The manner. Through the gates. Not singularly a gate, but gates. For Rev 21:12 the city is said to have twelve gates. On the east three gates, etc. To declare that men shall come from all the corners of the world: from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. These gates are not literally to be understood, but mystically, for the manner of entrance. The gates are those passages whereby we must enter this city. Heaven is often said to have a gate (Mat 7:13; Psa 24:7; Gen 28:17). There must be gates to a city. Doing the commandments is the way to have right in the tree of life. Obedience and sanctification is the gate to this city of salutation. The temple had a gate called Beautiful (Act 3:1-26.). But of poor beauty in regard of this gate. Of the gates of the sanctuary spake David in diverse Psalms, with love and joy. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. These are holy gates; let every one pray with that royal prophet, Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. In brief, we may distinguish the gates leading to this city into two–Adoption and Sanctification. Both these meet in Christ, who is the only Gate or Door whereby we enter heaven.
III. The city.
1. The situation. It is placed above (Gal 4:26). Heaven is in excelsis (Psa 87:1).
2. The society. The King that rules there is one Almighty God in three distinct persons. He made this city for Himself (Psa 16:11). And we have three happy privileges of citizens.
(1) Freedom from the law. Not from obedience to it, but from the curse of it.
(2) The Kings protection (Psa 91:4; Psa 91:11). Our dangers are many in some places, and some in all places. We have Gods own guard royal to keep us (Heb 1:14).
(3) The defensive protection of the Law. Christ is our Advocate.
3. The glory. Heaven shall make them that enter it like itself–glorious. As the air by the suns brightness is transformed bright. How great is that blessedness, where shall be no evil present, no good absent! This is a blessed city. (T. Adams.)
The way to the city of God
What is the deepest thought in every bosom? Money? No. Rising in the world? No. Pleasure? No. Ease and comfort? No. Health? No. Long life? No. It is that they may at last enter in through the gates into the city.
I. The condition of entering the heavenly city. The doing His–Christs–commandments. Is salvation earned, then, by our works? Thank God, no. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, etc. Yet it is expressly said here that those who do His commandments have a right, etc. The key to this is found in St. James. A man is justified by works and not by faith only. Faith is another word for love. It means in Scripture as in common life–trust, confidence–and this trust and confidence are, in religion, the outcome of love. But what will not love do for its loved one? Love is the surrender of the whole man to its object–the will, heart, life. Works are the evidences of it; its necessary results. Works do not save us, but we cannot be saved without them.
II. The security of those who fulfil that condition. They have a right.
1. By the merit of their works? Nay, verily. Best men most conscious of shortcoming. As the morning star is black when it passes over the disk of the sun, so the holiness of the best of men is only darkness when seen in the splendour of the holiness of God.
2. But as a proof of their sincerity. That shown, the perfect merits of Christ are theirs. The right is that of Christ, transferred to them, as His. We are made the righteousness of God in Him.
III. Some reflections and cautions.
1. Twelve gates, facing all sides. Christianity is a religion for all mankind. The gates of heaven face us wherever we may be.
2. I must enter through the gate. No other name but the name of Christ.
3. Those who do so are blessed.
(1) They are blessed. In the formation of a heavenly character. The perfect peace of a heart raised above passing disturbance.
(2) They will be blessed in their destiny. Beloved, now are ye sons, etc. Heaven entering us, before we, it.
4. To enter, we must hold out to the end.
(1) Only safe when we have finished our course. The Eurydice sank within a few yards of shore.
(2) No reward till the work is done. Bunyan has a trap-door close to the gate of heaven. (J. Cunningham Geikie, D. D.)
The rightful entrance into the city of God
I. It is almost impossible to read this emphatic description of the passage of the saints through the gates of the New Jerusalem without going back to the same imagery as employed by Christ with regard to Himself (Joh 10:1-2). In both places the general idea is the same–that of an open and free entrance, as opposed to a stealing in unlawfully, unobserved, and unwarranted. In both cases there may be a reference to Christ as the Door, it being through Him that admission is gained into the ministry of God here, and through Him alone entrance is won into the city of God hereafter; the leading impression, however, conveyed by the words is that of an unopposed entrance, like that of citizens possessed of undoubted rights, into the high places of the town. False religions make man the anxious suppliant of a Supreme Being with whom he has no affinity; Christianity represents him as in covenant with and allied to the Hearer of his prayers, the Object of his worship. Through the gates into the city. There may be and will be the constant sense of duties left undone, of sins committed unworthy of a son of God, of feeble essays after holiness, falling short–ah, how short!–of what might be; but if only the conscience witness to an earnest desire to do Gods will, there will still be the high heart of one who, in covenant with God, sees already his own nature on Gods throne, and his own passage open, when his work is done, through the opened gates into the very citadel of the eternal city.
II. He who would enter heaven must enter in through the door. There is a certain fixed and definite means of access. By this and no other we look for admission. Now, here again we arrive at a special characteristic of Christianity. From the very beginning it manifested itself a thing of order, rule, system. Now there is in this both an argument and a lesson. In the quiet, unperturbed, self-restraining order in which it commenced, the gospel vindicates to itself a Divine origin. Herein it shows itself to be, not the offspring of mans enthusiasm, but of that same Divine mind which, in the silence of eternity, laid the foundations of the round world, and set the waters their bound which they should not pass. The visible universe and the faith of Christ are equal exemplifications of order and law. And there is a lesson also here. If we would be Christians indeed, if we would attain the holiness here and happiness hereafter which are the heritage of Christs followers, then must we be content to go on patiently, as they went of old, through the round of religious discipline and religious ordinances. (Bp. Woodford.)
Without are dogs.—
There are four kinds of dogs. There is first the cynic. The cynic, whose very name means dog, snarls out his sneer at the brave man who risks his life for another, and says he only wanted to be praised in the newspapers or get the Humane Societys medal. For he has no belief in generosity, or enthusiasm, or unselfishness, or truth, or honour, and only scoffs at the earnest souls that have. The second dog is the puppy. This is the dog that can neither talk nor think of anybody or anything but himself, who dresses flashily and curls his hair. He is called a puppy because he is blind, and because he pushes himself into places where he has no right to be. The puppy is more dangerous than you would expect, for he can snarl when he has a smaller dog to deal with, and even bite when no one is looking. The third is the jolly dog. The jolly dog is good-natured, with a loud, cheery voice, and offhand, pleasant manner. He is called good company, but he is somewhat low company. He is seen sometimes coming out of the public-house, and that grows more frequent. Then he loses his respectability and his good-nature together, and the true heart of him, which is hollow and hard, begins to appear. Beware of the jolly dog. The last dog is the sly dog. The jolly dog likes to be called a sly dog, now and then, but he is not the genuine article. He is too easy for that. The sly dog will put himself to any amount of inconvenience, and bide his time with the greatest patience, that he may overreach you and gain his end at the last. He is always plotting. He has his own ends to serve always. Untrustworthy himself, he is always mistrustful of others. He is a cynic without showing it, as heartless and much more clever and cruel. What do people mean when they say of a lad, that he has gone to the dogs? They mean that he has become the lawful prey of one or more of these. (Prof. Shuttleworth.)
Whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.—
There is no vice, writes Lord Bacon in his celebrated essay, Of Truth, that doth so cover a man with shame, as to be found false, and perfidious. And therefore Mountaigny saith prettily, when he inquired the reason, why the word of the lie should be such a disgrace and such an odious charge? Saith he, If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much as to say, that he is brave towards God, and a coward towards men. For a lie faces God, and shrinks from man. Lying is thus a kind of atheistical bravery; the practical acting up to the disbelief that God either hears, or will punish, the falsities of men on the earth. But there are other causes of lying besides spiritual cowardice and practical disbelief in God. There is, as Lord Bacon also says, the natural love of lies. These abandoned liars, who make lies because they love them, are the basest and most corrupt of their species. But there are many other species of liars, base enough indeed, yet not so base and lost as these. The liar who makes a lie because he loves it will lie without the incentive of temptation, whereas temptation is necessary to induce less corrupt persons to lie. Such temptations come, I imagine, at one time or another, in the course of every human life. Probably every human life when it reaches the stage of moral consciousness is, sooner or later, tempted to be false; false either in word or action.
1. Dread is a very common cause of untruthfulness. When children, e.g., tell a lie, either surprise or fear is frequently the cause. Parents are often responsible for the falsehoods of their children. Terror and subjugation are essentially hostile to truth. Slaves are nearly always liars; and children nursed in terror are like slaves in this respect–their minds grow shrewd, but they grow shifty also; and shiftiness is destructive of veracity. Terror of wrong-doing is healthy; but personal terror is poisonous. The dread, however, which is prolific of falsehood is not always a personal dread; it is equally often a dread of consequences. A lie rarely stands alone, singly, by itself. The first lie engenders fear, and as a result of fear, other lies are told; and as the process is repeated, the conscience grows accustomed to a deadening familiarity with falsehood; the power to resist temptation is enfeebled; dread is added to dread; and under the accumulations of dread the sense of truth at length entirely disappears. Dread, too, sometimes arises not from the commission of our own past transgressions, but from the danger of compromising others, or of incurring serious loss. You are (let us say) suddenly asked some question about another. If you answer truthfully it will be to the damage of the other. If you do not answer at all you know that suspicion (suspicion worse, perhaps, than the actual truth) will be inflamed in the mind of the inquirer. What are you to do? The case is a hard one. You have to make choice between evils. In this way, I believe, inquisitiveness is indirectly responsible for, and guilty of, s great deal of lying. The case is otherwise when the dread is, not of injuring others, but of incurring loss oneself. Falsehood in protecting others is at least generous falsehood but falsehood in protecting ourselves is cowardly. Whatever, therefore, be the inconvenience, or even the loss, arising from the habit of severe and precise truthfulness; yet out of regard for the god-like inviolability of truth, and through a righteous shrinking from the very appearance of falsehood, we ought to guard against any deviation, however slight, from the strictness of truth ourselves; and much more against imposing upon others any such deviations in our behalf.
2. We now pass to a second common cause of untruthfulness, viz., the vanity or the desire to appear well in the eyes of others. This desire often springs from a very pure and noble source. For that man is either callous or degraded who is indifferent to the opinions of his fellow-men. The desire to stand well in the sight of others is one of the strongest and highest incentives to do well ourselves; and on the other hand, the dread of the loss of the esteem of our fellow-men is a noble dread, which often keeps us from doing wrong; and when we have done wrong the penalty of the loss of human esteem is one among the keenest penalties which sensitive souls are called upon to endure. When, therefore, we speak of the desire to appear well in the eyes of others as a common cause of untruthfulness, we speak of the corruption of a desire which, in its original essence, is noble and inspiring. Yet how general and widespread this corruption is! So widespread and general, indeed, that it is very rare to hear any one give an account of a transaction in which themselves have been engaged with perfect fidelity to truth. If the transaction is unworthy, or has not succeeded, they minish, or pass lightly over, their own share in it. If the transaction has been successful, or merits praise, immediately their own share in it grows eminently conspicuous.
3. There remains a third common cause of untruthfulness, viz., the desire for advantage or gain. Of this sordid class are all trading and commercial untruths; all concealing of defects, all misrepresentations and misleadings, all false measures and false weights, all unjust prices and balances. Of this sordid class also are all political untruths; untruths told to injure a political antagonist or to advance a political cause. It is sometimes contended that tricks are necessary in trade; and that politics have no indissoluble connection with morals. Such a contention is the abnegation of all Christian ideals; of all practical belief in a God of superintending righteousness and truth. And every untruth, whether in word or act, is a nail in the coffin of life, eternal life. Let us now pass to the consideration of the remarkable circumstance that persons greatly differ in regard to truthfulness; some being very strong and others very weak in this respect. This difference appears to be mainly attributable to two principal causes:
(1) the moral nature of the person,
(2) the moral character of the persons environment.
In the interests of veracity, nothing can be more important than to make hard the way of the liar, and to make easy the way of the truth-teller. If you, e.g., have children, pass lightly over misfortunes and accidents, such as the breaking of cups and the tearing of clothes; but spare not the rod when a lie has been told; only make the punishment easier in proportion to the readiness with which the lie is confessed. For next to truthfulness, in the order of virtue, comes the confession of untruthfulness. The brave confession of a fault is the best of all safeguards against the repetition of the fault. (Canon Diggle.)
Fuente: Biblical Illustrator Edited by Joseph S. Exell
See thou do it not: See Poole on “Rev 19:10“.
For I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets; whose employment is the same with thine, to reveal the will of God;
and of them which keep the sayings of this book; yea, and a brother to all the servants of God. Thou mistakest the object of thine adoration, I am a created being, and can accept no such homage.
Fuente: English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole
9. Literally, “See not”;the abruptness of the phrase marking the angel’s abhorrence of thethought of his being worshipped however indirectly. Contrastthe fallen angel’s temptation to Jesus, “Fall down and worshipme” (Mt 4:9).
forA, B, Vulgate,Syriac, Coptic, ANDREAS,and CYPRIAN omit “for”;which accords with the abrupt earnestness of the angel’s prohibitionof an act derogatory to God.
and of“and (thefellow servant) of thy brethren.”
Fuente: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Then saith he unto me,…. The angel at whose feet John fell down to worship:
see thou do it not; this he said in great haste, and with much vehemence, to hinder him from doing it, as his short way of speaking shows:
for I am thy fellow servant: of God, and of Christ, and am no more the object of worship than thyself; and both of us are, and ought to be, the worshippers of God, whose servants we are:
and of thy brethren the prophets; the apostles and ministers of the word; for prophesying and preaching are the same thing; these were the brethren of John in a spiritual sense, and by reason of their function:
and of them which keep the sayings of this book; see Re 22:7 and this is said to encourage the observation of them, and is the character of private Christians, and shows the great condescension of the angel to put himself, not only upon a level with John, and the ministers of the word, but with common believers:
worship God; and him only, and that in a spiritual manner, with reverence and godly fear, in faith, and according to his revealed will;
[See comments on Re 19:10].
Fuente: John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
See thou do it not (H ). The angel promptly interposes (, dramatic present). See 19:10 for discussion of this same phrase when John had once before started to worship the angel in his excitement. Here we have added to the words in 19:10 “the prophets ( ) and also “them which keep the words of this book” ( ), the last a repetition from 22:7. In both places we have “Worship God” ( ). And not an angel.
Fuente: Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament
See thou do it not [ ] . Lit., see not.
Thy brethren the prophets. The spiritual brotherhood of John with the prophets is exhibited in Revelation.
Fuente: Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament
1) “Then saith he unto me,” (kai legei moi) “And he says to me,” or tells instructs me. It appears that since the rebellion and casting down of Satan and his demon angels, not one angel has since broken rank from God’s host of holy angels in service to him and his creation, Heb 1:14.
2) “See thou do it not, for I am thy fellowservant,” (hora me sundoulos sou eimi) “See that thou do it not (worship me not) a colleague-servant of thine I am,” an informing angel helper or ministering servant, just as angels ministered to our Lord in the Mount of temptation and in the Garden of Gethsemane, they as surely minister to his children today, Mat 4:11; Luk 22:43.
3) “And of thy brethren, the prophets,” (kai ton adelphon sou ton propheton) “And of thy brethren, the prophets; John simply asserts that he is not only an associate, colleague servant of John but also of the prophets of God who had before him been moved by the Holy Spirit to write inspired matters, which even the angels desired to look into, 2Pe 1:20-21; 1Pe 1:12.
4) “And of them which keep the sayings of this book,” (kai ton teerountoon tous logous tou bibliou toutou) “And of those keeping or sacredly guarding the words of this scroll,” the book of Revelation. The Angel declared himself to be a fellow or colleague- helper of those who keep, guard, respect, follow, or obey the things of this book, applicable to them, even to the end, Psa 34:7; Heb 1:14.
5) “Worship God,” (to theo proskuneson) “to or toward God, worship thou; Joh 4:24. It is he and he only that is to be worshipped Luk 4:8.
Fuente: Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary
(9) Then saith he unto me . . .Better, And he saith to me, See (or, Take heed) not. I am a fellow servant of thee and of thy brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book; worship God (or, to God give worship). This rebuke is similar to that given in Revelation 19. It is a wide affirmation of the truth that allwhether angels, or prophets, or simple faithful followers of Christare united in a grand bond of common devotion and common service to the same Lord.
Fuente: Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
9. Saith he This apocalypse was no mere angel apocalypse, for the angel himself referred it to God.
Fuente: Whedon’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
Ver. 9. See thou do it not ] See Trapp on “ Rev 19:10 “ This was a flat prohibition, not a merry repulse; as Lorinus and Veigas the Jesuits would have it.
For I am thy fellowservant ] Wycliffe disallowed the invocation of saints and angels, when he called servants, not gods. For the wore knave, which he used, signified in those days servant, not as it doth in our days a wicked varlet, as his enemies maliciously interpret it; Bellarmine for one, a man utterly ignorant of the English tongue.
Fuente: John Trapp’s Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)
The warning against any Christian is not, as in the parallel passage, an indirect exaltation of the prophetic order as equivalent to the angelic in religious function, but an assertion that even ordinary Christians who accept the Apocalypse are equal to the hierophant angel. Unlike Nebo, the angelic interpreter of Marduk’s will in Babylonian religion, he is not to be worshipped, for all his importance. Precautions against angel-worship could hardly be more stringent. “The repetition of the scene is enough to show that it does not represent a natural ebullition of feeling and its corretction, but that the narrative has a purpose and that those who observed the practice made use of” John’s name, or at any rate believed they could appeal to him as sanctioning their superstition (Weizcker, ii. 203 204).
Fuente: The Expositors Greek Testament by Robertson
Then = And.
See, &c. Compare Rev 19:10.
for. The texts omit.
fellowservant. As Rev 6:11; Rev 19:10. Compare App-190.
Fuente: Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics
Rev 22:9.  ) After , the more recent Latin editions and Erasmus inserted . But Wolf excellently observes, that the whole of this speech of the angel is concise and elliptical, such as the speech of those who greatly loathe anything is accustomed to be. There is a very similar example of the omission of , Act 14:15.
 , before his feet) John had first wished to worship the angel, ch. Rev 19:10 : now only at his feet he prepares to worship (GOD). But the angel does not even permit this.-V. g.
 AB Vulg. Cypr. reject ; Rec. Text with h supports it.-E.
Fuente: Gnomon of the New Testament
See: Rev 19:10, Deu 4:19, Col 2:18, Col 2:19, 1Jo 5:20
worship God: Rev 4:10, Rev 9:20, Rev 14:7, Rev 15:4, Exo 34:14, 2Ki 17:36, Psa 45:11, Mat 4:9, Luk 4:7, Joh 4:22, Joh 4:23
Reciprocal: Exo 20:3 – General Deu 26:10 – and worship Jos 5:14 – fell on his Psa 103:21 – ministers Pro 7:1 – keep Son 3:11 – in the day of his Mat 8:2 – worshipped Mat 23:8 – all Mar 7:25 – at Luk 4:8 – for Luk 5:8 – he Luk 20:36 – they are Act 10:25 – and fell Act 10:26 – Stand Act 14:15 – why Rom 1:1 – a servant Phi 1:1 – the servants 1Th 5:15 – See 2Th 1:7 – his mighty angels Heb 12:25 – See Rev 7:11 – and worshipped Rev 22:7 – blessed
Fuente: The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Rev 22:9. The angel forbids the worship that would have been paid him, and adds, I am a fellow-servant with thee, and with thy brethren the prophets, and with them which keep the words of this book: worship God. Before God alone must all His creatures bow. All are only His servants, and it is their duty to encourage one another in their mutual service. It is needless to say that distinctions of office are not here denied; but there is something deeper than office in which Christians are one.
Fuente: A Popular Commentary on the New Testament
This angel also rebuked John for worshipping him (cf. Rev 19:10). This may have been the same angel whom John tried to worship earlier (Rev 19:10). People should worship God, not His servants. The angel presented himself as a fellow servant of John’s; they both served God. He said he also served the other prophets besides John as well as all believers who pay attention to what God has revealed in this book. The specific mention of the prophets as a special group of believers here heightens respect for all prophecy and this prophecy in particular.
"The ultimate goal of the book’s revelation is that it would inspire worship of God." [Note: Beale, p. 1129.]