by Mike Ratliff
11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. (Revelation 3:11 ESV)
3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. (2 Peter 3:3-4 ESV)
It is one thing to say, “Come soon Lord Jesus!” and quite another thing to live as if you mean it. There are some today that teach we should live this life with our focus on the here and now rather than eternity. Why? This is to create a better world or make this world a better place. However, I also tire of those who treat eschatology much like the world handles conspiracy theories always looking for the right combination of “signs” that our Lord’s return is imminent. I used to do that myself, but I do not do that very much, if at all, anymore. Why? My focus is on living this life for the glory of God and that means I focus on my relationship with my Lord first and from that flows my relationships with everyone else. Yes, the sad shape of the visible Church grieves me and, to me, this is the most telling sign that our Lord’s return is imminent.
6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:6-7 ESV)
6 Καὶ εἶπέν μοι· οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι πιστοὶ καὶ ἀληθινοί, καὶ ὁ κύριος ὁ θεὸς τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν προφητῶν ἀπέστειλεν τὸν ἄγγελον αὐτοῦ δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει. 7 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ. μακάριος ὁ τηρῶν τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου. (Revelation 22:6-7 NA28)
6 And he said to me, these the words trustful and true, and the Master the God of the spirits of the spokesmen delegated His messenger to show His slaves what will take place quickly. 7 And look I come quickly. Fortunate is the one keeping the words of the prophecy of this book. (Revelation 22:6-7 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Our Lord and His messenger angels told us that He is returning to the world quickly. Or is it soon? Here is Revelation 1:1.
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, (Revelation 1:1 ESV)
1 Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἣν ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ὁ θεὸς δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει, καὶ ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας διὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ τῷ δούλῳ αὐτοῦ Ἰωάννῃ, (Revelation 1:1 NA28)
The word translated in v1 as “soon” is τάχει. This word’s best English synonym would probably be “quickness” or “quickly” or “shortly” or “soon.” The context should determine whether it refers to something happening soon relative to the time of the reader or quickly instead of slowly. Here is the note from The Reformation Study Bible for the word τάχει translated as “soon” in Revelation 1:1:
1:1 soon. See 22:6,7,10,12,20. Spiritual war takes place throughout the church age, and the seven churches will soon experience all dimensions of the conflict. Moreover, the “last days” spoken of by Old Testament prophecy have been inaugurated by Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:16, 17). The time of waiting is over, and God is conducting the final phase of His victorious warfare against evil. By such reckoning, today is “the last hour” (1 John 2:18).
I agree with this. Instead of being concerned about being narrowly focused on the time of the very end of this age, we are to live in such a way that we will be found in obedience when our Lord does return.
8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” 10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. (Revelation 22:8-11 ESV)
Let us focus on v11, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” Here it is in Greek, “ὁ ἀδικῶν ἀδικησάτω ἔτι καὶ ὁ ῥυπαρὸς ῥυπανθήτω ἔτι, καὶ ὁ δίκαιος δικαιοσύνην ποιησάτω ἔτι καὶ ὁ ἅγιος ἁγιασθήτω ἔτι.” The word translated as “evildoer” here is ἀδικῶν. This is “the one who is unjust or who does not do right.” This is referring to those whose sins are not covered by the blood of forgiveness. These are not Christians. All they do is ἀδικησάτω, which is the actual doing of evil. These would also be the ῥυπαρὸς or “dirty.” These have not been cleansed by the washing of regeneration. These are the unconverted. They are to continue to ῥυπανθήτω or “be dirty.” These are contrasted by those who are righteous (δίκαιος) who do right (δικαιοσύνην) and the holy (ἅγιος) who are still holy (ἁγιασθήτω). This speaks of the sovereignty of God but the difference between the two groups is that the first two are controlled by their unbelief while the last two are controlled by their faith. When the Lord comes, these things will be set for eternity. All who are righteous now will remain righteous from now until then and forever, but some of the evil and dirty will be converted by the grace of God in the Church age and once they are they remain forever, but those who are unconverted when our Lord returns will be so forever, which is illuminated for us in the following passage.
10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:12-17 ESV)
The call to “Come” is for the soon return of Christ so that those whom He has saved will be with Him forever. All truly in Christ want this. The longer I live the more I want it. The offer of the water of life is by God’s grace and is for those in Christ for spiritual refreshment. This enables us to persevere in this evil age.
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:18-21 ESV)
18 Μαρτυρῶ ἐγὼ παντὶ τῷ ἀκούοντι τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου· ἐάν τις ἐπιθῇ ἐπʼ αὐτά, ἐπιθήσει ὁ θεὸς ἐπʼ αὐτὸν τὰς πληγὰς τὰς γεγραμμένας ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ, 19 καὶ ἐάν τις ἀφέλῃ ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων τοῦ βιβλίου τῆς προφητείας ταύτης, ἀφελεῖ ὁ θεὸς τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως τῆς ἁγίας τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ. 20 Λέγει ὁ μαρτυρῶν ταῦτα· ναί, ἔρχομαι ταχύ. Ἀμήν, ἔρχου κύριε Ἰησοῦ. 21 Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ μετὰ πάντων. (Revelation 22:18-21 NA28)
At the end of this post I added the Greek version of v20. Here it is in English, “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Our Lord says, “Surely I am coming soon.” The Church then responds, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” I wonder when I hear Christians not wanting our Lord to come back soon. I suppose that has a lot to do with the fact that they are not really being obedient right now, but are living for self. However, I have heard preachers say they would prefer that our Lord’s Return be far into the future. I just do not get it. I say, Come Soon Lord Jesus!
Λέγει ὁ μαρτυρῶν ταῦτα· ναί, ἔρχομαι ταχύ. Ἀμήν, ἔρχου κύριε Ἰησοῦ
Soli Deo Gloria!