Revelation 22:17 (ESV) … “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.”
As we come to close of God’s written word to man in this letter called Revelation, we find that it ends with an invitation. It is an invitation to those who are the redeemed to participate in the bountiful blessing of God’s new creation. It is also an invitation to those who are not redeemed to come by faith and join the family of God.
This verse is a reminder that the heart of God is evangelistic, that is filled with the “good news” of his love and grace. Without question this single verse is the most the most evangelistic text in the entire book.
However, another truth is revealed in this book, one that is filled with sorrow. For the book of Revelation reveals that many wicked people will refuse to repent. In the end unrepentant sinners will be banished outside the city (v. 15). So, the urgency of the “NOW” is felt all the way through the letter.
Now opportunity still remains for the world’s people to come to Christ. The four invitations are addressed to the world, not the churches.
The Spirit and the bride are those who together make evangelism possible. The bride is the church, corporately and individually, witnessing about her Bridegroom through lifestyle and lips. The Spirit is certainly the Holy Spirit, who is responsible to “convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Without the bride’s witness the Spirit is voiceless; without the Spirit’s witness, the bride is powerless. Thus, together these two join in urging the world to come to salvation in Christ.
Only the one who hears the gospel and has responded in faith can summon others to share in that salvation. Thus, the second come stands to remind all who have heard the good news that they are responsible to invite others to Christ. The only person who can respond to the gospel is one who is thirsty—aware of a need for eternal life. Some have well noted that part of the task of evangelism is to make people spiritually thirsty. By God’s grace whoever becomes aware of a need is welcome: let him come. During his earthly ministry Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37–38).
This leads directly to the fourth invitation to whoever desires. Although the language is of the River of Life to be found in New Jerusalem (5:1), one may now, at any time during earthly life, take the free gift of the water of life (Isa. 55:1). The glories of heaven will not be fully enjoyed until the consummation, yet every person who hears and comes to Jesus will begin enjoying heavenly benefits immediately.