“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14 NKJV).
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14 NASB).
The book of Revelation contains seven beatitudes (Revelation 1:3; 14:12-13; 16:15; 19:6-9; 20:6; 22:7, 12-13; 22:14). These seven passages tell us how to find true, lasting happiness with God.
This passage contains a textual variant. We will not deal with the merits of each reading in this writing. Instead, we will deal with the truth found in each reading. This book speaks of obedience to the commandments (Revelation 1:3; 12:17; 14:12-13; 22:7). This book speaks of washing robes (Revelation 7:13-14). The basic point is the same with either reading. John Kachelman Jr. comments, “There is not really any difference because the two refer to the same thing – obedience” (Kachelman, Studies in the Book of Revelation, p. 123).
Blessed are those who do His commandments. Faithful obedience is necessary to enter into eternal blessedness. Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord,’ have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Blessed are those who wash their robes. Faithfulness and the cleansing blood of the Lamb are necessary to entering into eternal blessedness. John wrote, “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:13-14). Wayne Jackson comments on Revelation 22:14, “First, the mode of cleansing is by the Lamb’s blood (7:14). Second, ‘wash’ is a present tense form, which reveals that one must continually access the cleansing blood of Jesus (cf. 1 John 1:7). Third, by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, the faithful have a ‘right’ to the tree of life. We deserve nothing on our own merit; we can claim everything because of what he did” (Jackson, Revelation: Jesus Christ’s Final Message of Hope, p. 225).
They have a right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. The city is the New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21-22). It is that city for which Abraham waited (Hebrews 11:10, 15-16). Inside the gates of this city are the water of life (Revelation 22:1) and the tree of life (Revelation 2:7; 22:3; 22:14; cf. Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24). Paradise is restored (Revelation 2:7 cf. Genesis 3:8 Douay).
Not all will be allowed into this city. Access is for those counted faithful through the blood of Christ (Revelation 22:14 cf. 7:13-14; 2:7; 2:10-11; 2:17; 2:26-29; 3:5; 3:12; 3:21). Specifically mentioned – in Revelation 21:8, 27 and 22:15 – as not entering are: (1) the cowardly (those who will not confess Him, or practice their faith due to persecution); (2) unbelieving (those who do not put their trust in Him); (3) abominable (those who practice things disgusting to God); (4) murderers (those who take human life without divine authority; perhaps, persecutors are especially under consideration ); (5) sexually immoral (those who engage in sexual intercourse without divine authority, unauthorized sexual intercourse; such behavior was often connected with pagan temples); (6) sorcerers (those who use magic arts or drugs to spiritually deceive others); (7) idolaters (those who worship false gods); (8) liars (those who speak falsehoods, intending to deceive; perhaps, especially in view is religious deceivers); (9) those who love and practice a lie (this may refer to those who believe and follow false teaching cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12); (10) dogs (those who are unclean; or, those who do not appreciate that which is holy cf. Matthew 7:6; or, this may refer to male prostitutes in pagan temples who were so-called). These are mentioned, no doubt, for emphasis sake (one should not want to be a part of this company). However no one except the saints will be allowed into this city.
Let us consider the words of Jesus. He said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24).