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Revelation 21

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-5

Temple Section-The Former Resurrection

4 Those who have suffered death for their loyalty during the great persecutions of the end time are especially included in the former resurrection. This is the time spoken of by ( Dan_7:22 ) when "the saints safeguard the kingdom". This is the resurrection of the just ( Luk_14:14 ) and the resurrection of life ( Joh_5:29 ), in contrast to the resurrection of judgment ( Rev_20:12 ). But those who suffer martyrdom or who endure to the end will have the added privilege of reigning with Him and will be His priests for the thousand years. Their trials have wrought an eonian weight of glory for them. They will be happy and holy indeed.

5 The statement that "the rest of the dead do not live until the thousand years may be finished" was omitted in the best manuscript. As the same codex also omits the tribes of Gad ( Rev_7:5 ) and Simeon ( Rev_7:7 ) from the hundred forty-four thousand, too much stress must not be laid on any such omission. These tribes must go in to make up the required number (144,000) in that manuscript. If we accept the insertion of the tribes we must also accept the insertion of this statement, for it rests on the same evidence. It could easily have been overlooked by a copyist, for the preceding sentence ends with the same words as this one does-"the thousand years" (see the Greek text). It is easy, in copying, to skip from the first "thousand years" to the next, and thus omit the intervening statement.

6 The thousand years limits their reign as priests. As kings they reign for the eons of the eons ( Rev_22:5 )-a much longer period.

7 The loosing of Satan finds mankind as a whole unregenerate after the thousand years of peace. They are ready as ever to follow the deceptions of Satan and oppose the Christ of God. But they are given short shrift, for fire descends from heaven and devours them. The fire eonian was prepared for the Adversary and his messengers ( cf page 49: 41, 46). Now he receives his doom.

11 The Great White Throne judgment has no place for those who are Christ's, for they have all been made alive and have been enjoying eonian life for more than a millennium.

Temple Section-Jerusalem

12 This is not a "general" judgment, though it approac hes nearer to it than any other. Only the dead appear before this throne. Those who are Christ's will have been made alive at His presence more than a thousand years before ( 1Co_15:23 ). Those who are His will not die during the thousand years, nor can they be hurt by the second death. Hence only those who have not believed in Christ appear in this judgment. They will all receive their just deserts, according to their acts, during the period between their resurrection and second death. Hence they are condemned, for all fall short of God's standard. They are not vivified, or made alive, as the saints are, by a better resurrection, hence they die again.

13 Thus all evil is segregated in the lake of fire, where Satan and the wild beast and the false prophet already are ( Rev_20:10 ). "This is the second death" defines the lake of fire. Those who have been raised from death return to the same state in the second death. The only immunity from condemnation lies in having a place in the scroll of life.


1 In this section we enter a new eon. Peter, in his second epistle ( 2Pe_3:7 ; 2Pe_3:10 ) tells us that the present heavens and earth are a storehouse of fire, and that they will pass away with a booming noise and the elements be dissolved by combustion. The earth and the works in it shall be burned up by reason of the coming of the day of God. ( Isa_65:17 ) has promised a new heaven and a new earth. Righteousness rules during the thousand years. It dwells in the new creation.

2 The new Jerusalem is heavenly as to character , but will be located on the earth. It comes down "out of heaven". The present heavens and earth are not the first , There was an earth before the present ( 2Pe_3:5 ). The world that then was perished by water ( Gen_1:2 ). The present is the second earth. The one in this vision is the third.

3 That these are not final scenes is indicated by the temporary nature of God 's habitation ( Heb_11:9 ). Though all are His peoples, and He comforts all, He does not as yet, dwell amongst His creatures.

Verses 6-23

Second Temple Section-The Holy City

6 This is written from the standpoint of the time when John wrote, at Patmos, hence all is put in the future tense. This is vital to a true understanding of this section.

6 "The Origin and the Consummation" gives Him His true place in creation and redemption. God begins with Him and He brings all God's purposes to fruition.

10 This is the city for which Abraham looked ( Heb_11:10 ). Since the capture of Zion by David (2Sa. 5), Jerusalem has been God's choice to rule over the nation and over the whole earth. The city descends out of heaven to the earth and seems to be shaped like an enormous mountain.Jerusalem and Zion are almost always described as a mountain. The contrast with Sinai ( Gal_4:24-26 ; Heb_12:18-22 ) implies as much, while Ezekiel's vision of a very high mountain ( Rev_40:2 , Rev_43:12 ) may refer first of all to the millennial city, yet it is suggestive of the shape of the new Jerusalem. No other shape could very well have its length and breadth and its height equal and be surrounded by a wall much lower than the city itself. The millennial city, as measured in Ezekiel, will be about twelve times as great as Jerusalem in the past, while the new Jerusalem of this vision will raise it to the seventh power. Ezekiel's city has twelve gates, named after the twelve tribes ( Rev_48:31-34 ). There is a river, flowing from Jehovah's house, descending about three and a half feet per mile. If the throne be at the summit of this glorious city, such a river could wind about it with no greater descent than that in the millennial scene.

11 The word here used for luminosity, or light bearer, is applied to the sun and the moon ( Gen_1:14 ; Gen_1:16 ). It is used figuratively of believers ( Php_2:15 ). But the sun and moon are not needed, for the glory of God illuminates the city ( Rev_21:23 , Rev_22:5 ) and its Lamp is the Lambkin ( Rev_21:23 ). Natural light was excluded from His habitations.

11 The jasper is probably the most valuable variety, called plasma, a translucent green stone. Like the gold of the city, its luminosity will be crystalline in its translucent radiance. The Enthroned One looks like a jasper gem ( Rev_4:3 ).

Second Temple Section-No Temple

18 Gold, if subjected to intense heat, may be made permanently transparent. When the city has passed through the fiery crucible which introduces the new earth ( 2Pe_3:10 ), the gold which now exists in considerable quantities in a diffused state, will be precipitated and refined and emerge with crystalline clarity.

17 A cubit was the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.

18 Josephus applies the term "in-building" to a mole or breakwater.

19 Lapis lazuli, anciently cailed sapphire, is a mixture of minerals, ultramarine in color, with specks of iron which look like gold. Pliny (Nat. Hist.xxxii,9) describes it as sky blue with golden spots.

19 Chalcedony is probably a waxy, translucent gem, from white to bluish grey in color (Plin.xxxvii,8).

20 Sardonyx (a variety of onyx, so-called from its resemblance to the substance of a finger nail or claw) consists of alternate layers of light-colored onyx between reddish layers of camelian or "sard".

20 Carnelian, or sardius, is used for the Hebrew ohdem , red ( Exo_28:17 ; Exo_39:10 ; Eze_28:13 ) and for the onyx ( Exo_25:7 ; Exo_35:9 ).

20 The gold stone, or chrysolite, of the ancient is our topaz, while their topaz is our peridot,

20 The best beryl is of a sea green color,

20 Chrysoprase is the palest of the green beryls of a golden cast.

20 Amethyst, the ancient hyacinth, resembles the flower of this name. It is a transparent gem of violet color ( cf. Rev_9:17 ), The amethyst of the ancients is now called garnet ( Rev_9:17 ).

22 Six temples "made with hands" are indwelt by Jehovah in the eons. The first was the Tabernacle in the wilderness ( Exo_25:8 ). The second was erected by Solomon ( 2Sa_7:13 ). It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar ( 2Ki_2:59 ). The third was built by Ezra at the command of Cyrus ( Ezr_6:3 ), Herod's temple is the fourth. The fifth is called "the temple of God" ( 2Th_2:4 ) and is measured in this scroll ( Rev_11:1 ). The sixth is described by Ezekiel (40-43). It is intensely interesting to note the development of the truth in the first, second and sixth. Here we have the true Temple, God Himself, with the true Sacrifice, the Lambkin.

Verses 24-27


24 The vision has ended. John now is back again in Patmos and tells what will be in the days of the vision. It is not that the common and abominable will be outside the city, unable to enter. Then all will be God's people and misery will be no more ( Rev_21:3-4 ). But those who are false before-these have no hope of entering into the city. In Israel, this is a reward.

1 The river of living water can be traced from the laver of the tabernacle ( Exo_30:18 ) through the ten lavers and the molten sea of Solomon's temple ( 2Ch_4:2-6 ) and the waters which flowed from the threshold of Ezekiel's house (Eze.47) to the crystal stream here described.

2 Ezekiel describes the trees which line the millennial river ( Eze_47:7 ; Eze_47:12 ).

2 The square, or common, or plaza, was a wide open space which had corners ( Mat_6:5 ) and a center. The streets of eastern cities could not be denoted by this word, which means wide , broad , for they have always been exceedingly narrow, and were called by a distinct name ( Mat_6:2 ; Luk_14:21 ; Act_9:11 ; Act_12:10 ).

3 At this point the seer changes his viewpoint back to Patmos. What was present to his gaze is now put in the future. His slaves will minister; they will reign. Hence their reign is for the eons of the eons. This would present a difficulty if John spoke from the standpoint of the last eon, for only one eon will then remain in which they can reign ( 1Co_15:24 ).

3 The "curse" is not yet gone or the leaves of the trees were useless. But there is no more anything devoted to God for destruction. His way with men has changed.

5 Though the temple and priesthood are gone, they continue to reign for the eons of the eons. This corresponds with the Hebrew scriptures, for the temple with its ritual lasts "for ever" (for the eon) but the kingdom continues "for ever and ever" (for the eons of the eons).


6 This section should not be referred to the far future which John has been describing. He reverts to the time when the prophecy was given to him. Hence the era is impending, the Lord is still to come, the sayings of the prophecy may still be kept.

10 It is God's will that this prophecy should be known by His slaves. Daniel was commanded to seal up his vision because much was to intervene before its fulfillment. As this era is impending-there is nothing between the present and this prophecy-it is time for it to be studied and understood. Nothing (except a knowledge of the special epistles written for the present) will help us more in estimating the true trend of present day movements than a clear conception of their outcome in the great judgment period just ahead. All of the factors of the end time are rapidly taking on the form which they will have in that day. Israel is going back to the land. The nations are forming the great confederacy. The religions of the earth are uniting. In it all God is given no place.

12 As in the first chapter ( Rev_1:8 ), the Lord Jesus suddenly intervenes and closes the prophecy with His own august declarations. The three-fold title, the A and the Z, the First and Last, and the Origin and the Consummation, are most appropriate after the revelation of the marvelous jeweled city and the glories of the new earth. At present He has only begun: then He will finish. The A and the Z suggests that He is the whole alphabet of God's revelation, the First and the Last, His place in the times in which it is accomplished, and the Origin and Consummation, His place in the purpose which underlies it.

16 The night is darkest just before the dawn. His earthly people will long for the Morning Star to herald the approach of day. Then He, from Whom David sprang and Who descended from David, will fulfill all the promises which God made to Him.

17 Come ! All who know Him and His will cannot but obey this last request. The hearts of all saints should well up into one grand shout to urge His speedy return. There is no other help, no other hope. Come! Lord Jesus!

Come, then, and, added to Thy many crowns,

Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth,

Thou Who alone art worthy! It was Thine

By ancient covenant, ere Nature's birth;

And Thou hast made it Thine by purchase since

And overpaid its value with Thy blood.

Thy saints proclaim Thee King; and in their hearts

Thy title is engraven with a pen

Dipped in the fountain of eternal love."

Cowper, in The Task

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 21". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/revelation-21.html. 1968.
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