This is a further privilege. The New Jerusalem is to be the capital of the new earth (see GC 676).
Gr. exousia, “liberty,”“privilege,”“right.” It is to be the saints’ privilege and liberty to partake of the tree of life and to enjoy immortality with Jesus Christ (cf. on v. 2).
That do his commandments.
Important textual evidence may be cited (cf. p. 10) for the reading “that wash their robes.” A few manuscripts read “that washed their robes.” Of the early uncials (see Vol. V, pp. 114-116) only the Sinaiticus and the Alexandrinus contain this section of Revelation, and both of these read “that wash their robes.” Most of the minuscule manuscripts read “that do his commandments.” The ancient versions are divided in their readings, as are the patristic quotations. The two clauses are very similar in the Greek, and it is easy to see how a scribe may have mistaken the one clause for the other, although it is impossible to know certainly which was the original reading. The following transliteration will show the similarity: hoi poiountes tas entolas autou, “that keep his commandments.”hoi plunontes tas stolas autōn, “wash their robes.”
In actual fact both readings suit the context and are in harmony with John’s teaching elsewhere. On the subject of keeping the commandments see Rev. 12:17; 14:12; cf. John 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 John 2:3-6. On the subject of washing robes see Rev. 7:14, where a company of saints is described as having “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Our title to heaven is the righteousness of Christ imputed: our fitness for heaven, the righteousness of Christ imparted, represented by the washed robes. The outward evidence of the righteousness of Christ imparted is perfect compliance with the commandments of God. Hence the two ideas of washed robes and obedience to commandments are closely related.
In the light of the problems of translation here discussed, it would seem wise to build the foundations of the doctrine of obedidence to God’s commandments on those other passages of Scripture dealing with obedience on which no question of textual evidence has been raised. There are many such.
For a more complete study of this problem see Problems in Bible Translation, pp. 257-262.
The Greek word for “robes” is stolai, used of outer, flowing garments, marking a man of distinction. Compare the use of the word in Mark 12:38; 16:5; Luke 15:22; 20:46. The same Greek word is used in the LXX for the holy garments of Aaron and his descendants
(Ex. 28:2; 29:21). Our English word “stole” is derived from stole. “Stole” originally designated a long, loose garment reaching down to the feet; later, an ecclesiastical vestment of silk, worn around the neck and falling from the shoulders.