J. A. Trench.
Article 47 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
The real difficulty would be if the text as it stands in the A.V. could be maintained: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right, etc." But the true reading is that of the R.V., "Blessed are they who have washed their robes." There was a similarity in the sound of the words in the original that misled some of the copyists. But the best authorities for the text leave no uncertainty, as to "wash their robes." Revelation 7:14 completes the thought, referring to the blessed inhabitants of the millennial earth, at least as to the innumerable multitude of all nations that stand in presence of the throne: "These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Access to the Tree of Life and entrance into the city seem to belong to the heavenly side of the kingdom in which the righteous shall shine forth, as we see them doing in the displayed glory of Christ, in Revelation 21:9 into chapter 22. In the millennial earth — that is, during the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ — besides the company referred to above in chapter 7, of the Gentile nations, there will be as inhabitants of the earth the 144,000 of the beginning of the same chapter, the sealed remnant of the twelve tribes of Israel. These will, of course, be in their natural bodies. Those who have their part in the Tree of Life and in the heavenly city will be the glorified saints; that is, all who are Christ's at His coming, who when He appears will appear with Him in glory.
The fruit of the Tree of Life had been forfeited in Eden by man's sin, and he was shut out from it by the cherubim and the flaming sword placed "to keep the way of the Tree of Life." But now the great redemption work has been accomplished. The sinner's Saviour has borne the judgment brought in by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of which man had partaken, and by which his conscience was defiled. So that in the Paradise of God nothing remains but the Tree of Life — and all who are washed in the blood of the Lamb have access to it. No flaming sword now barring the way for the simplest believer in Jesus.
But, who will inhabit the new earth? This refers to the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21:1-8, which is the eternal state, fruit of a wholly new creation, after the kingdom of the thousand years' reign of Christ is over, and all enemies, even the last enemy — death — have been subjugated to Him, and the present heavens and earth have passed away. The answer is — all the redeemed. No more Jew or Gentile, but those who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, now all glorified, and with whom God will dwell; finding all their blessing summed up in His blessed presence for ever, God all in all.
The only distinction between the redeemed will be the Church, seen in its relation to Christ, as the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride for her husband; and in its relation to God as His Tabernacle, the centre of the brightest manifestation of His glory for ever.