Verse 6: This verse begins with what some refer to as the epilogue. It is a concluding section in which John directs his attention to his readers telling us why we should believe this prophecy and reminding us of the urgent message it contains. To prove the validity of these prophecies, he presents testimony from three different witnesses: the angel who assisted him, direct statements from Jesus and John himself. Such confirmations are needed because the visions are amazing. They are unusually vivid and detailed. They use imagery drawn from many Old Testament prophets. They specify details concerning the last days which go beyond anything else in the Bible. So John is aware his visions might be met with doubt or even ridicule. He might be accused of inventing them in his own mind or of being deceived by a false spirit. To answer these charges, he provides us with the testimony of three witnesses.
Verse 6 (continued): Johns first witness is the angel who assisted him. This spiritual being was very real to John. He was not an ethereal figure wandering through dream-like thoughts but a true manifestation of an angel similar to the one who helped Daniel receive his revelations (Da 10:5-21). In verses eight and nine (Rev 22:8, 9), John will further confirm the angels validity. The angel assured him, These words are faithful and true. They are faithful meaning Gods words were accurately delivered to John who in turn carefully wrote down what he was shown. They are true meaning they accurately describe reality because God is ultimately their author. They are not the inventions of a human mind or a deceiving spirit.
Verse 6 (continued): By referring to things which must soon take place we realize these remarks are directed at Johns original audience: seven first century churches in Asia Minor. His visions concerning last days are over and he again returns to the type of prophetic warnings found in chapters one through three. If we understand this basic structure, the words soon and quickly make perfect sense without being reinterpreted. Jesus did not mean His physical return to earth was about to take place. He was warning living congregations facing specific historical situations. These first century churches would soon face persecution and, in some cases, the Lords discipline. Indeed, He was coming quickly, but it was in spirit as Lord of the church (Rev 2:5, 16, 21-23; 3:3, 11, 19) not in the clouds with the armies of heaven (Rev 19:11-16). But He didnt just leave these churches with a warning. He also provided encouragement to help them overcome the assaults they were facing. The way He did this was to give them a detailed description of the last days church and the great tribulation it will endure. This is provided by chapters four through 22. The message contained in these chapters is this: If the end time church, who will experience the worst persecution of any generation, can overcome and inherit the glories of eternal life, then so can you (Rev 12:11).
Revelation 22:7, 8
Verse 7: Johns second witness is Jesus Himself. Jesus speaks directly to the churches telling them He is coming quickly (Rev 1:3; 2:5, 16; 3:3, 11). Then He endorses these visions saying, Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book. He wanted them (and us) to understand and obey (literal: keep) the lessons contained in these prophecies. Verse 8: Johns third witness is himself. He testifies that he personally heard and saw these things. As the beloved apostle of the Lord, his life and writings speak for themselves. Who can challenge his integrity and willingness to be faithful unto death? He had boldly suffered persecution himself and was on a prison island named Patmos at the time he received these revelations (Rev 1:9). If his testimony cant be trusted, then whose can be? If John says he heard and saw these things, then most believers will simply take his word for it.
Revelation 22:8, 9
Verses 8, 9: To further emphasize the validity of these visions, John tells us of a moment of confusion he experienced. In effect, he said, The angel who showed these things to me was so glorious and real, at one point I became confused and tried to worship him. Earlier, he allowed us to observe the moment when that event took place (Rev 19:10). His point in bringing this up again is to convey how vividly real this encounter was to him and to show us the angels godly character. If the angel had been a deceiving spirit, he would have welcomed Johns worship. Instead his response was to correct John instantly saying, Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours. Worship God. This is the way we would expect a true angel to respond and he did. Johns moment of confusion tested the angels character and he humbly pointed John back to God.
Verse 10: John is told not to seal up the words of the prophecy of this book because the time is near. These instructions are exactly opposite those received by Daniel. Daniel was told, But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time (Da 12:4). When Daniel himself ought to understand their meaning asking, My Lord, what will be the outcome of these events? (Da 12:8), he was told, Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time (Da 12:9). Yet John must not seal his visions because his generation as well as all following generations needed them. Though his visions reveal the future, they contain lessons needed by believers in every generation. Whenever and wherever believers face violent persecution or demonic deception, they need these prophecies to show them what is at stake. It might appear to a persecuted believer there is much to lose by staying loyal to Christ, but the truth is there is much more to lose by denying Him. They need to see the eternal rewards of serving Christ and the terrible dangers awaiting those who abandon Him. So these words were to remain unsealed because they were needed immediately and would continue to be needed.
Verse 11: At first glance, this is a puzzling verse. It seems to imply that God doesnt care if wicked people repent. He says, Let the one who does wrong (acts unjustly) still do wrong; and the one who is filthy (morally indecent) still be filthy. Yet we need only look forward to verse 17 to see this isnt true. There all are invited to come. Statements such as these in verse 11 belong to a category of prophetic warnings telling us that the more people refuse to repent, the harder it will be to do so (Eze 3:27; Da 12:10; Mt 13:11-16). God will not step in and force a person to repent. They will be allowed to stubbornly continue in rebellion until they perish. Humans have been given a terrible freedom to reject God and though He pursues every person, in the end, He will honor our choices. And as persecution increases, repentance becomes harder, not easier, because the price one must pay gets higher. Many harden themselves further because they fear the persecution they will suffer if they turn to Christ. On the other hand, this verse also reveals that adversity will strengthen the faith of believers as they are forced to count the cost of following Jesus (Lk 14:25-35). We see this same testing of the human heart described in Daniels words. He was told that as the end draws near, Many will be purged, purified and refined but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand (Da 12:10). The message contained in such warnings is this: Repent now before you harden yourself further. If you continue to harden yourself, you will cross a threshold and be unable to repent or it will be too late.