1. Revelation 22:4 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What do the words “they will see his face” mean?

Revelation 22:4 (ESV)

4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

Ever since humanity’s expulsion from Paradise, God had made clear that no one could see his face and survive (Exodus 33:20); his glory was too overwhelming. Saints expressed the wish to see God (Psalm 27:4), and confessed that one day they would (Job 19:26–27; Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:2). Only in the New Jerusalem will seeing God be possible. The point of seeing his face, of course, is not simply that these saints (= servants) stand there and gaze upon or stare at the Lord. The “seeing” speaks to a living relationship, one that gives fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11; John 17:24), and so expresses itself in joyful service. The eye of faith sees something of the glorious face of God already in this life as the Lord is shown to us in the preaching of the gospel.