Must Shortly Take Place (Revelation 22:6-7)

REVELATION 22:6-7 – The vision of the Revelation to John is now completed.


Some futurists and partial Preterists try to mitigate the imminence of the Greek term entaxei (Rev. 1:1; 22:6) and same Greek word in its other form, taxus (as in Rev. 2:5,16; 3:11; 22:7,12,20), and try to change the meaning of “shortly,” or “quickly,” to try and mean “suddenly,” “Thus meaning that there will be rapidity of fulfillment whenever the proper time may come, but that may be thousands of years later than John’s time” (Gregg, Revelation, 53).

The following study of the Greek term entaxei, which appears only 7 times in scripture, will show that it never emphasizes rapidity over imminence:

1.) Luke 18:8 – “He will avenge them speedily” – The martyrs of God cried for vengeance.  God promised to avenge them speedily.  In Revelation 6:9-11, the martyrs cried for vengeance, and were told it would be only a “little while,” until the number of martyrs was filled.  In Matthew 23:29-36, Jesus said all the blood of all the martyrs would be vindicated in “this generation.”  The “little while,” therefore, was not relative, it referred to Jesus’ generation.  In order to avoid the imminence, one must distort the meaning of “this generation,” “quickly,” and “little while.”  Can God not communicate any better than to use these words that in any other context mean nearness, but when He uses them in Revelation we are not to think time at all?

2.) Acts 12:7 – Peter was in prison when the angel loosed the chains and told him “rise up quickly.”  Did the angel mean to say, “Do not worry about when you get up.  Today, tomorrow, next year, anytime will do, but when you finally get around to it, move with rapidity of actions”?  Is that really what the angel meant?

3.) Acts 22:18 – When Paul was in the temple praying, the Lord appeared to him and said, “Get out of Jerusalem quickly.”  Did Jesus mean that Paul could delay his departure for as long as he desired, but when he finally got around to leaving he was to take the fastest chariot out of town?

4.) Acts 25:4 – Festus kept Paul at Caesarea because, “He himself was going there shortly.”  Was Festus leaving soon, shortly, or was Festus going to hang around Jerusalem for a long time, and then take the fastest horse out of town?  Rapidity of action is not the focus.  Imminence of departure is.

5.) Romans 16:20 – “God will bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”  The imminence of Romans cannot be ignored.  In Romans 9:27-28, Paul said God was going to finish His work of saving the Remnant in a short time.  In Romans 13:11-12, Paul says, “The day is at hand.”

Look at that text.  Paul said, “The night is far spent.”  Now, what does that mean?  If imminence is relative, what does “far spent” mean?

6.) Revelation 1:1 – “Things which must shortly come to pass.”  That “shortly” does not mean rapidly is confirmed in the context.  John was told, “The time is at hand.”  What a foolish thing to say if this is not true imminence.  Time is always present.  But some special time à the “designated time” (kairos, Strongs #2540) was at hand.  The time of fulfillment had come.

Let us grant for argument sake that “shortly” means “rapidly.”  Coupled with eggus in Revelation 1:3, this would mean that the time for the “rapid fulfillment” of John’s prophecy was “at hand.”  

If the fulfillment was to be “rapid” it can hardly be argued that the vision encompasses a long period of time because all of the “woes,” contained in the sounding of the Trumpets for instance, were to follow one another “quickly” (Revelation 11:14).

To argue for “rapidly,” therefore, exacerbates the problem of imminence for this futurist or partial Preterist view, rather than escape it.

7.) Revelation 22:6 – “Things which must shortly take place.”  Notice that it says the things predicted “must” take place shortly.  The word “must” is from dei (Strong’s #1163) and means a divine necessity.  See Kittel’s Theological Dictionary, Balz and Schnieder, etc…

In Revelation 22:6, we find the Greek term entaxei.  In verse 7 Jesus said, “Behold I come quickly,” and this is from taxus.  These are two different forms of the same word.  Both indicate imminence.

The arguments about rapidity versus imminence are not supported by any other context where the distinctive Greek term entaxei is used.  While we do not rule out rapidity as an element of entaxei, it is not the dominant idea, and in no case does entaxei emphasize rapidity to the exclusion of imminence.  This is a question of “when,” not “how fast.”

The vision that John had seen is true; it came by the angel of “the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets” (Rev. 22:6) and is to be delivered to His bondservants of all of these things which must “shortly” take place.  God was being faithful and true to His character before He would soon carry out this Revelation, as He had promised of old, “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

The vision carries a warning that Christ is soon to arrive and judgment will fall.  John recalls Jesus’ statement: 

“Even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.  Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt. 24:33-34).

The generation which heard Jesus speak these words is coming to an end.  John is assured that the words are “faithful and true.”  Those who listen and pay attention to them will be blessed.   As David wrote, “By [the words of the Lord] Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psa. 19:11).


Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):

Mello (About To)

Time is at Hand (Revelation 22:10)


Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):

[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 10 Rev. Chapter 22”]