“Blessed are those doing His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter into the gates of the city.” Revelation 22:14
Doing His Commandments – We have a problem. You see, there is an alternative reading for this verse in the Greek text. Instead of “washing their robes,” this version reads, “doing His commandments.” This alternative version stands behind the Greek text used as the basis of the translations of the King James and other earlier Bibles. It is found in about half of the existing Greek fragments, although not as early as the fragments reading “wash their clothes.” The latest Greek New Testament remarks that there is some degree of doubt about either reading.
Read the text in your Bible to see which version is used. Then ask yourself why you were not made aware of both possibilities.
It’s impossible to say why there seems to be such a discrepancy in these versions. Usually the textual issues are fairly small, just a word or the spelling of a word. But here we have a fairly significant shift in meaning, unless, of course, we are thinking in Hebrew. “Wash their clothes” is an idiom for carefully attending to the commands of God regarding sin. That is precisely the same idea behind “doing His commandments.” Since both versions point to the same set of instructions, we can confidently conclude at least this much – those who are blessed are very careful about the torah.
Don’t get confused. This is not about your rescue and deliverance. The Lamb accomplishes that quite independently of anything you can do. Grace is a gift. But blessing (the word is important) is the result of actions that you initiate and carry through. The word is makarioi. It is not a verb. It is an adjective. It describes the inner state of bliss that accompanies an action taken by the person. In other words, by doing your laundry (ritual purity) or keeping His instructions, you discover an inner sense of joy and peace. This inner sense arrives as a by-product of your actions. You find yourself blessed. It’s exactly the same use of the word in the Beatitudes.
Those who know the inner bliss of obedience are free to partake of the tree of life and enter the gates. That might come about because they have taken the steps to cleanse themselves from sin (wash) or because they simply keep God’s instructions. Either way, something must be done! You are not going to be invited to join the feast of the Lamb unless you have done the hard work of purification. Work it out with fear and trembling (because God is working it out in you).
Maybe we need both readings here, just to make the point unavoidably clear. You are delivered in order that you may obey. Obedience is not optional once you are grafted into the family. The only question is this: Are you doing what God said to do? Are you blessed?
Believe me, if you are, you will know it!
Topical Index: Obedience