Rev. 22:6-21 serves as the epilogue to the Book of Revelation. John concludes this great book by reminding his readers of the authoritative nature of this book. He tells us that its words are “trustworthy and true” and that the one who obeys its teaching shall be eternally blessed. He also reminds us of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Three times in this passage, Jesus says, “I am coming soon” (v. 7, 12, 20). For this reason, John says that those who are anxiously awaiting his return should remain steadfast in their pursuit of righteousness and holiness. Jesus promises to richly reward all those who faithfully persevere to the end. By the grace of God, all of the elect will attain entrance into the NewJerusalem where they will have free access to the Tree of Life for all eternity. Therefore, the church of every age joyously proclaims, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”
In Rev. 22:1-5, John completes his description of the New Jerusalem. This passage identifies three basic things necessary for life: water, food, and health. John tells us that in the New Jerusalem there will be an abundance of each of these three commodities. We will drink from the River of Life; we will eat from the Tree of Life; and we will be enjoy health and prosperity simply by touching the leaves of the Tree of Life. In the New Jerusalem, God will fully satisfy all the needs of his people.
These verses bring Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians to a close. They include a benediction, probably the most well-known benediction other than Aaron’s, found in Numbers 6. What is a benediction? It’s noteworthy that these final verses are dripping with optimism and joy. How could Paul write such things to a church that was so dysfunctional and had hurt him so deeply?
In Rev. 21:9-27, John presents a marvelous vision of the New Jerusalem. While we may be tempted to think of the New Jerusalem as a place, John makes it clear that he is talking about a people – the eschatalogical community of the redeemed. He describes the eternal church as a beautiful bride walking down the aisle to meet her groom, Jesus Christ. And she is not only radiant in her beauty, she is also strong, secure and perfect in her holiness. The Lord God dwells within her gates, and the light of his countenance provides abundant illumination for all who are privileged to live there.
One last time Paul applies the principal of strength in weakness as he pastors the church in Corinth. What does it mean for us to likewise “pastor” one another?
When we turn the page to Rev. 21, we are at threshold of eternity. The original creation has passed away, and God re-makes the heavens and the earth. And while the original creation is more amazing than humanity will ever be able to fully understand, the New Creation will be far more glorious. In the New Creation, the unveiled presence of God will permeate everything; and every vestige of pain, suffering, sin and death will vanish completely, and the perfected community of saints will glorify God and enjoy him forever and ever!
Having vividly expressed the theme of the letter in 12:1-10, Paul now applies that theme to the normal, everyday Christian life. What are the characteristics of a life upon which the power of Christ rests (12:9)? Here are some of the most beautiful (and attractive) expressions of humility and self-denial in all of Scripture. C.S. Lewis wrote that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. What does that practically look like, and why can only grace produce it?
Here is where Paul gives the clearest expression to the theme of the letter: strength in weakness. This text is not only the climax of 2 Corinthians, it is arguably the climax of 1 and 2 Corinthians. It reminds us of the very heart of Christianity. When Jesus said to Paul, "my grace is sufficient for you," how was he reminding him not only of the gospel, but of the core principle of the entire Christian life?
In Rev. 20:11-15, John records his vision of the Great White Throne Judgment. The Satantic Trinity has been destroyed. All that remains is for God to pronounce his final verdict on humanity. For those who do not know Christ, the Day of Judgment will be worse than their worst nightmare. But for those whose names are written in Lamb’s Book of Life, the Day of Judgment will be more glorious than the happiest day they ever experienced in this life. Therefore, all believers should look forward to that great day!
Who would put a catalog of weakness and frailty on a resume? This is exactly what Paul does as he is forced to defend himself against false teachers who were distorting the gospel and misleading the Corinthians. What can we learn from this surprising description of a servant of Christ? What can we learn about humility?