“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:11–15).
The massive judgments outlined in this book are imminent. A final appeal for repentance is given in the form of saying that there is no real time for repentance. The one who is unjust might as well stay that way. The one who is filthy . . . let him be filthy still (v. 11). The same thing goes for the righteous and holy. That all this is tied to the nearness of the disasters is seen in the next phrase—“behold, I come quickly” (v. 12). Telling the filthy and the unjust that there is no time might stir them up to act while there is still (almost) time.
The Lord is coming quickly, and He has every man’s paycheck in hand. Every man will have the response of God apportioned in accordance with his work. This theme comes up in Scripture again and again (Matt. 16:27; 25:31ff; Rom. 2:6; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:13). This is in no way conflicts with our salvation being all of grace, and entirely apart from works, as we can see in the arguments that Paul makes. The book of Romans is all about salvation by grace through faith, and yet one of the texts cited above is from early on in Romans. And we see how grace and works harmonize in his words elsewhere.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8–10).
We have been saved by grace through faith, and not of works. No man has any cause for boasting. We are not saved by good works, but we are in fact saved to good works. We are created in Christ Jesus to good works, works that were ordained beforehand for us to walk in. As foreordained works, this means that they necessarily follow salvation by grace. And, as such, there is no inconsistency when God uses them as an infallible indicator that salvation by grace has in fact occurred.
Another passage that highlights the consistency of grace and works is this one:
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13).
We are to work out our salvation, but this is only possible as we are working out what God is working in. And so it is that we are saved by works—the work of Christ on the cross, and the works of the Spirit within us, which works are, from our perspective, entirely and utterly gracious.
All the glory goes to Christ, who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, and the first and last (v. 13). All the reprobate are judged by their works, and their wages are nothing but justice. All the saints are judged by the white linen of their righteous deeds, and are received into glory, and together they join their voices to praise the one who gave them that white linen. All their robes were cut from one bolt of cloth, and that cloth is the entire possession of Jesus Christ, and those with whom He shares it.
The seventh and last benediction in this book is then given. Blessed are those who do His commandments (v. 14). Keeping the commandments of God is itself a gift and grace, and those who walk in God’s ways are permitted to walk up to the tree of life and partake of it. Those who walk in His ways are permitted to come through the gates of the glorious city. They have free access to the City of God, being full citizens of it.
Excluded from the City (in this last and glorified state) are the evil-doers. The first category mentioned is that of dogs. There are various possibilities here. One is that Jews used to use this term to describe the Gentiles, but this would be odd since we have just seen John describing the glory and honor of the nations (ethnoi, Gentiles) streaming into the City (Rev. 21:26). Another usage is where Paul turns the epithet around, and applies it to the Judaizers (Phil. 3:2). This is possible, but given the nature of the other sins listed, it seems out of place. The last possibility, and the most likely one, is that it is referring to homosexuals
“Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lordthy God” (Deut. 23:18).
This is referring to a male homosexual prostitute, and it is telling that the prohibition is banning the profits of such activity from being brought into the “house of God.” This is the same kind of context that John is talking about. So who is excluded? Who may not come in to defile the translucent city? Outside are the dogs, the witches, the pimps and johns, the abortionists and other murderers, those who bow down before senseless images, and whoever loves a lie, and loves to make them up.