Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

It may not be as explicit a reference to the deity of Christ as other verses, but it is worth asking, what being other than God can command the angels? Indeed, this question reminds me of the inquiry of the disciples asked in Matthew chapter 8:

Matthew 8:27, “And the [disciples] marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?’”

Though not referencing each other or being conterminous in an obvious way, Revelation 22:16 and Matthew 8:27 show us that Christ has the authority over creation and the rulership over the angels. Again, we ask, who else or what else could that be other than God Himself?

Even if we ascribe a god-like state to Christ, like some Christian denominations or sects do, then we need to admit some form of polytheism with roots in mythology (that is the deification of mere humans into godlike forms, a motif which is so prevalent in mythological tales).

It is a possibility that ‘angel’ simply refers to ‘messenger’ in Revelation 22:16 but I don’t think this is the case. In the heavenlies, it seems apparent that angels preside over churches or even locations, i.e., nations and towns. This is suggested in the book of Daniel:

Daniel 10:13, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.”

Daniel 12:1, “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who was in charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at the time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”

Regarding Revelation 22:16, a phrase worth focusing on is, “I am the Root and descendant of David.” The Greek word for root here is rhiza. Rhiza can have a couple definitions, a literal one, and a more figurative one. The literal meaning is, “a shoot; source; that which comes from the root; a descendant.” Figuratively, it means “source.” If we assign the literal meaning to root in this verse, the passage becomes somewhat tautologous. Repetitive verses or those that are tautologous in their content aren’t arbitrary, but rather repetition, at least in the context of biblical exegesis, impresses upon the reader an issue of utmost importance. Yet, here it would seem somewhat erroneous for Christ to state to John something like, “I am the descendant and descendant of David.”

Yet, if we use the figurative meaning, it reads, “I am the Source and descendant of David.” This latter rendering is pretty amazing, but what if we take the words at their face value? What is a root? Is it not that from which things, vegetation and fruit, for example, spring forth?

According to the English dictionary, the noun of root (Christ is using it in this noun context) means, “the part of the plant that attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches or fibers.” Also, a root is defined as the “basic cause, source, or origin of something.” Do not these definitions give us insight into the nature of our Lord? Let us consider them for a moment:

The Part of The Plant That Attaches It To The Ground or To a Support

While seeking an intimate relationship with God, we quickly discover this is an impossible task if we wish to approach God of our own accord. It becomes apparent that we need an advocate or some form of spiritual support to keep us firmly planted in God. This advocate for our faith is Jesus Christ and it is in Him we remain grounded that we might be reconciled unto the Creator of all things. Colossians, according to the NKJV states:

Colossians 1:21–23, “And you, that were once alienated and enemies [of God] in your mind by wicked works, yet now has He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight: If you continue in the faith founded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul am made a minister.”

Typically Underground

That which is underground is generally invisible to those above ground. Yet, evidence of that which lies beyond the surface may show signs of its presence and be perceivable to those above. Although the glory of our Lord, for a duration, spent time above ground, on the surface with His creation, He has risen and now rests at the right hand of the Father. God’s presence may be invisible, but evidence of His existence and His attributes surround us continually. The apostle Paul makes this clear:

Romans 1:18–20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

This shows that whatever we are grounded in will produce a harvest according to its kind. If we are grounded in unrighteousness and ungodliness then the truth will be suppressed in us and we will discourage and suppress it among others. However, if we are grounded in God, then godliness and righteousness shall be the result, which will produce the appropriate harvest within the self and among all man.

Conveying Water and Nourishment To The Rest of The Plant

Let us consider a plant to be representational of the church. Likening the church to a plant isn’t absurd given Jesus’ numerous parables emphasizing trees, plants, and vegetation, which was extremely relevant at the time with many of the Jews being well familiar with agriculture and agricultural practices. Even today, individual churches, when expanding, are said to branch off or plant other churches.

Jesus, in the book of John, says:

John 15:5, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Thus, Christ truly is the root of our salvation and faith, not to mention our very existence (John 1:3). It is in Him we are grounded. Whenever a branch is removed from the vine, or a plant is detached from its root, it withers and dies. So too does our hope in the gospel when we remove ourselves from the Lord. Christ Jesus provides the spiritual nourishment that we may be reconciled unto the Father and apart from Him, this is an impossibility. He nourishes us and provides to us the living water necessary for eternal life. The apostle John records:

John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Revelation 22:1, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as a crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

Via Numerous Branches or Fibers

In the conveyance of spiritual nourishment, the Lord uses several different means. The church itself expresses and shares this same nourishment, but it is Christ who is the source. If a church comes to lose focus or somehow parts from Christ, it is no longer of the river of life from which one drinks to quench their thirst, but rather a stagnant puddle.

Another fiber or branch used are those blessed individuals who have important gifts who serve this water to others. They are essentially the cup-bearers of the church, but again the source of this water is found in the Lord. The prophets of renown and those of today, for instance, are cup-bearers of the living water. The book of Hebrews mentions these cup-bearers:

Hebrews 1:1-2“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the world.”

Yet, this represents just one gift. In truth, we are all called to be the cup-bearers and branches of this living water, to not hoard it, but convey and transmit it unto others, both inside the church and outside it.

Christ encouraged His disciples:

Matthew 28:18–20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Yes, Christ is our basic cause. Our source. Our origin. One might be tempted to ask, ‘Being such, wouldn’t the word for seed work better?’ Seed might impart the idea of origin better, but when it comes to all the other attributes we have discussed, I believe that root is the best analogy given the whole scope of the metaphor. Regardless, the one who asks this question is somewhat justified and I would point them to the book of 1 Peter which says:

1 Peter 1:20–25, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory is like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

The Greek word used for seed here is spora, which according to Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament means, ‘a sowing; figuratively, origin.”

It is my contention that Christ is referring to Himself as the Root in Revelation 22:16 in a more figurative manner, indicating He is the source of David, for both his existence and faith. As the book of Hebrews states:

Hebrews 12:2a, “[Look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

It was Christ Himself that was the founder of David’s existence and faith, and Christ perfected this faith in Him. This can be difficult to grasp or wrap our minds around, but only because human thought is trained and often based upon a chronological framework, while Jesus Christ transcends our human understanding of time and chronology, for Christ is not bound to time, but rather is timeless, aka., eternal. Christ is the Root because He is the Creator and Savior. As the gospel of John records:

John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not made anything that was made.”

John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”

To get the most accurate understanding of the nature of Christ we need both the source figurative interpretation of root as well as the descendant element. Each one on its own will not suffice. The former gives us the nature of Christ which is shared with the Father, His eternal nature, and divine substance, and the latter emphasizes the incarnation of Jesus Christ as man. The two are congruently needed to provide the best representation of Jesus Christ.

To continue with Revelation 22:16, the phrase “the bright morning star” raises some questions due to what is recorded in Isaiah chapter 14:

Isaiah 14:12, “How you are fallen from heaven, O day star, son of the dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low.”

Some believe that the phrase, “the bright and morning star” or “day star, son of the dawn!” refers to Lucifer, which is a Latin transliteration of the phrase. Understandably, a few find it odd that Christ would take this name in Revelation 22:16. Yet, there are a couple things I would like to point out: The name Lucifer isn’t even in our most ancient manuscripts. However, concerning the renderings where the name is included, this translation becomes immediately suspect due to the Latin name being included within an otherwise Hebrew text. In these cases, it is apparent that the meaning of Isaiah 14:12 was already presupposed by translators, which supposedly, according to the proponents, references the devil being cast out of heaven, and the phrase was transliterated providing the name.

It is my belief that the context concerns the judgment of the nation or the king of Babylon, which is referred to as the “bright morning star” or “day star, son of the dawn.” It being a worldly kingdom, it is a possibility that Christ referred to Himself as such because He has overcome the world. As the book of John says:

John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Even if Isaiah chapter 14 refers to the casting down of the enemy, which I don’t believe it does, taking over the name, which in itself is not evil, given its meaning, in the same way, can be symbolic of the defeating or overtaking of the enemy.

However, Isaiah 14:12 is clearly about Babylon, for verse 4 says:

Isaiah 14:4, “[Y]ou will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: ‘How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased.’”

One might argue that there is the possibility that the passage in Isaiah is a kind of veil for both the prophecy and the spiritual truth concerning our shared enemy, but in the strictest of terms, Isaiah 14 refers to Babylon. In my opinion, the motive one might have for holding to this view is that they personally put a great emphasis on church doctrine, but we must be wary of even church doctrine, for this too can go astray. Sadly enough. Let us not be like those sects of Christianity, the names of which I will omit, that put a greater emphasis on their literature than on the Word of God. The cup-bearers of these sects threaten to poison their followers with stagnant water, rather than the ever-flowing water of life which pours from the throne room of our great Lord and Savior.

Thank you all for reading and God bless.

—Brandon

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