These admonitions were coupled with the urgent warnings of verse 10 that the “time is at hand.” Is this the message the church is supposed to have been preaching since the time John received the Revelation? Is this any kind of message we would preach in evangelism to people in the world today…if you sin and are filthy just keep on sinning? I think it is clear that this would be nonsense. This message would not make any sense if the angel envisioned a future period of two thousand years for the fulfillment.
However, this message would make total sense to the 1st century generation at the time John wrote (circa AD 62). Why? Because the tribulation had already started (John said he was in it: Rev. 1:9), and the even greater Neronic persecution was shortly to come (AD 64). And Paul had declared in numerous of his letters already that Christ’s command of Matthew 24:14 to preach the gospel into all of the world (Oikoumene = Roman Empire. Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28, 19:27, 24:5; Rev. 3:10) had been done: Rom. 1:5, 8, 10:18, 16:26; Col.1:6, 23; 1 Thess. 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 4:17; Tit. 2:11.
So, the statement in Rev. 22:11 for the “righteous to stay righteous” and the “filthy to remain filthy” would have had major impact and meaning to the 1st century saints and those churches to whom the Revelation was actually written –> the end of the “old heavens and earth” order and destruction of Jerusalem and the temple as Christ had promised in Matt. 24:2 was “at hand.”
This exhortation and warning were for the strengthening of those saints, to make them ready for this pending period of increasing calamity. Their earthy ministry was nearing its culmination and they were told to just hold on to their own righteousness until the soon coming Parousia and rescue/reward for them. They were nearing the end of the old and consummation of the new.
They are now in the heavenly Jerusalem (unseen realm) of the Eternal Kingdom. However, we are in the earthly (seen realm) of the “new heavens and earth” Eternal Kingdom –> the Rev. 22:11 command for them is over –> however, our message is to preach the “everlasting gospel” (Rev. 14:6) and live our lives as servants in His “everlasting Kingdom of which the increase there is no end” (Isa. 9:7; Eph. 3:21) until we take our last breath on this earth and then join them before God in the heavenly realm of the Kingdom.
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 10 Rev. Chapter 22”]