Question: Jesus calls Himself “the root and the offspring of David” in Revelation 22: 16. What is meant by this expression?
Answer: The meaning of this expression is similar to Jesus’ being called David’s Lord and David’s son (Matthew 22: 41-45). As a human being, Jesus was, through His mother, the son, the branch, the offshoot or offspring of David (Acts 2: 30) (Romans 1: 3) (2 Timothy 2: 8). It was by the sacrifice of Jesus’ perfect human life and His resurrection that He became the “root” of David (Revelation 5: 5), as well as His Lord. However, the thought suggested by the word “root” differs somewhat from that of “Lord.” The word “root” signifies the origin, the source of life, and the source of its sustenance and development, whereas the word “Lord” conveys the thought of ruler, owner, master, controller.
When and how, then, does Jesus become David’s root, his father, his source of life? Jesus became the “root,” the source of life, sustenance and growth to David and all mankind, by the same means and at the same time that He became David’s Lord: the means was His death as a ransom-price, by the merit of which buys from Divine justice the forfeited right to life and the conjoined life-rights of Adam and his entire race, including David’s; and the time was when He was raised from the dead, Adam’s Redeemer, the race’s Redeemer and hence David’s Redeemer.
The first Adam was the original “root” out of which the whole human family has been produced. He was “of the earth, earthy.” But the Second Adam, the risen Jesus, is a spirit being – “a quickening [life-giving] spirit,” “the Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15: 45, 47). He comes, at His Second Advent, to lift up mankind by processes of restitution (Acts 3: 19-23), that is, to restore to the human race the privileges and blessings lost through the first Adam, to give eternal life to all who earnestly desire it and eventually prove worthy of it (John 3: 14-17) (Revelation 20: 7-9; 21: 6; 22: 17).
Thus by paying the first Adam’s debt, Jesus became the Second Adam, to regenerate mankind (Matthew 19: 28), and as their “everlasting Father” and everlasting Ruler, sitting “upon the throne of David” (Isaiah 9: 6, 7), to give them everlasting life. We thank God that Jesus is now the new Root, prepared to give new life, sustenance and growth to mankind. The reign of righteousness and peace of the One “whose name is The BRANCH,” who “shall be a priest upon his throne,” will indeed be prosperous and glorious in its blessings (Zechariah 6: 12, 13). May His name ever be praised!