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INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION 21.
This chapter contains an account of the happy state of the church, consisting of all the elect, both Jews and Gentiles, which will take place upon the first resurrection, and will continue during the thousand years' reign mentioned in the preceding chapter. The seat of the church in these happy times will be the new heaven and the new earth, Revelation 21:1 the church that will dwell there is described by its names, the holy city, and new Jerusalem; by its descent, from heaven; and by its state and ornament, being prepared and adorned as a bride for her husband, Revelation 21:2 and her happiness is expressed by the presence of God with her, and communion with him enjoyed by her, and by a freedom from all evils endured in the present state of things,
Revelation 21:3 after which John hears the voice of him that sat on the throne, declaring himself to be the author of the new heaven and earth; ordering him to write, that what had been said was true and faithful; affirming that things were now done and finished; calling himself the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end: promising grace to the thirsty soul, the inheritance of all things to the overcomer, and also divine sonship; and threatening the second death to sinners, whose characters are given, Revelation 21:5 next John has a vision of the bride before spoken of; the preface to it is in Revelation 21:9 in which is signified that one of the seven angels that had the seven vials talked to him in a very free and familiar manner, and proposed to show him the Lamb's wife; and in order to it carried him to an exceeding high mountain, and showed him the city before mentioned, said to be great, holy, and heavenly; and which is described by the glory of God upon it, and the light that was in it, comparable to a crystal jasper stone, Revelation 21:11 by its wall, which is great and high; and by its, gates and foundations; its gates are in number twelve, twelve angels at them, and on them written the twelve names of the children of Israel, and these situated three at each point, east, west, north, and south; and its foundations are also twelve, having the names of the twelve apostles on them, Revelation 21:12 by the measure of it, which the angel took with his golden read; of the city, which was twelve thousand furlongs, it being four square, and its length, breadth, and height equal; and of the wall, which was a hundred forty and four cubits, Revelation 21:15 and next the city is described by the matter of which it was built; the wall of jasper the city of pure gold, like to clear glass; the foundations of precious stone, each foundation being of one stone; the gates of pearls, each gate being of one pearl; the street of the city of pure gold, like transparent glass,
Revelation 21:18 and then by the temple in it, which is no other than the Lord God and the Lamb; and by the light, which is the same, it having no need of sun or moon, Revelation 21:22 and next by its inhabitants, the nations of the saved ones, who walk in its light, and the kings of the earth, that bring their honour and glory to it; by its safety and security, and by the purity of it, none but undefiled persons, and such who are written in the Lamb's book of life, being admitted into it, Revelation 21:24.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,.... This vision relates to a glorious state of the church, not in the times of the apostles, or first dispensation of the Gospel; when the old Jewish church state, with its ordinances, rites, and ceremonies, passed away, and a new church state, a new dispensation, new ordinances, and a new people, took place; and when saints came not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; and when God tabernacled and dwelt with men in particular churches and congregations; and the curse of the law and the sting of death were taken away by Christ, and there was no condemnation to them that were in him; which is the sense of some: but death did not then cease, it has reigned over men in common ever since, in a natural way, and immediately upon that dispensation arose persecution unto death, both by Jews and Gentiles; and for the first three hundred years, instead death being no more, and sorrow and sighing fleeing away, there was scarce anything else: nor can it be said that there was no temple, or places of pubic worship, or that the church had no need of the sun and moon of the Gospel and Gospel ordinances then, since these have continued ever since, and will to the end of the world; nor did the kings of the earth bring their honour and glory into that church state in any sense, but set themselves against it, and endeavoured to destroy it; nor were the churches even of that age so pure as here described,
Revelation 21:27 many persons both of bad principles and bad practices crept into them; there were tares among the wheat, goats among the sheep, and foolish virgins with the wise: nor does this vision refer to the times of Constantine, when the old Pagan idolatry was removed out of the empire, and the Christian religion was revived, and came to be in a flourishing condition, and a new face of things appeared, and Christianity was embraced and honoured by the emperor, and the great men of the earth; there was not that purity as in this state; the Christian doctrine and worship were soon corrupted, being mixed with Judaism and Paganism; a flood of errors was brought in by Arius, Eutychius, Nestorius, Macedonius, and Pelagius, and others; yea, doctrines of devils, and which at length issued in a general apostasy, and in the revelation of the man of sin; nor was there that peace and comfort, and freedom from evils, as from death, pain, and sorrow; witness the Arian persecution, the incursions of the Goths and Vandals into the empire, and the inhuman butcheries and numerous massacres and murders of the Popish party since. Nor has this vision anything to do with the conversion and restoration of the Jews, when they will become a new people, quit their old principles and modes of worship, and there will be no more among them the sea of corrupt doctrine, respecting the Messiah, the works of the law, c. for this will be over before this vision takes place, as appears from the 19th chapter: nor does it belong to the spiritual reign of Christ, which will be in the present earth, whereas this glorious state of the church will be in the new heavens and new earth that will be at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and in the Philadelphian church state, this will not be till prophetic time and antichristian times will be no more, when the mystery of God will be finished, and after the Laodicean state is at an end; in that there will be public worship, the ministry of the word, and administration of ordinances, but not in this; and though there will be then great spirituality and holiness, yet not in perfection, nor will the churches be clear of hypocrites and nominal professors, and will at last sink into a Laodicean state. Nor is this vision to be interpreted of the church triumphant in heaven, or of the ultimate glory of the saints there; since the new Jerusalem here described descends from heaven, that is, to earth, where the saints will reign with Christ; and since the church is represented as a bride, prepared and adorned for her husband, but not as yet at the entrance of this state, delivered up to him; and since the tabernacle of God is said to be with men, that is, on earth; and this dwelling of God with them is as in a tabernacle, which is movable, and seems to be distinct from the fixed state of the saints in the ultimate glory; to which may be added, that in this state, Christ, as King of saints, will be peculiarly and distinctly glorified, whereas in the ultimate one, when the kingdom is delivered to the Father, God will be all in all: this therefore is to be understood of the glorious state of the church during the thousand years of Satan's binding, and the saints' living and reigning with Christ; the holy city, and new Jerusalem, is the same with the beloved city in Revelation 20:9 what is there briefly hinted, is here largely described and insisted on; this will be the time and state when the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, will first meet together, and be brought to Christ, and be presented by him to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, and Christ will reign gloriously among them: the seat of this church state will be the "new heaven" and "new earth" which John saw, and which are the same that Peter speaks of, in which dwelleth righteousness, or in which righteous persons only dwell, 2 Peter 3:13 for as the first heaven and earth both here and there are to be understood literally, so in like manner the new heaven and new earth; which will be new, not with respect to the substance, but their qualities; they will be renewed, or purged from everything that is disagreeable, and is the effect of the sin of man; the first heaven and earth were made chiefly for men, but, on account of the sin of man, the earth was cursed, and brought forth thorns and thistles, and both the earth and air, or the heaven, were attended with noxious vapours, c. and the whole creation was made subject to vanity and corruption from all which they will be cleared at the general conflagration, and a new earth and heaven will appear, fit for the habitation of the second Adam, and his posterity, for the space of a thousand years. So the Jews speak of new heavens, as מחודשים, "renewed" ones, which are the secrets of sublime wisdom o: and they say p, that the holy blessed God will renew his world a thousand years, and that in the seventh millennium there will be new heavens and a new earth q:
for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; not those in
Revelation 20:11 but the heaven and the earth which were first made, which passed away, as Peter also says, adding, with a great noise; meaning not as to their substance, but as to their form, fashion, and qualities:
and there was no more sea; which may be understood either as to the being of it; it was "exhausted", as the Ethiopic version renders it, being dried up by the conflagration; see Amos 7:4 and if Mr. Burnet's hypothesis can be supported, that the paradisiacal earth, or the earth fore the flood, was without a sea, that being made, with the mountains and hills, by the falling of the surface of the earth into the waters under it, there is a surprising agreement between that earth and this new one; but the Alexandrian copy reads, "and I saw the sea no more"; it might be in being, though John saw it not and since, at the end of the thousand years, the sea will give up the dead which are in it, it must be in being, unless it can be interpreted of the place where the sea was: wherefore it seems best to understand it with respect to its use and qualities; and that as the heaven and earth will pass away, not as to their substance, but quality, so in like manner the sea will be no more used for navigation, nor may it be a tumultuous and raging one, or have its flux and reflux, or its waters be salt, as now; the schoolmen say it will no more be a fluid, but will be consolidated into the globe as the sphere; and, in a mystical sense, there will be no more wicked men; tumultuous and turbulent men are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest, Isaiah 57:20 for in the new heavens and earth only righteous persons will dwell, 2 Peter 3:13.
o Zohar in Gen. fol. 5. 2. vid. Kimchi in lsa. lvi. 6. p T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 92. 2. & Gloss. in ib. Zohar in Gen. fol. 69. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 150. 2. q Zohar in Gen. fol. 35. 3.
And I John saw the holy city,.... The same with the beloved city in Revelation 20:9 the church of God: sometimes the church militant is called a city, of which the saints are now fellow citizens, governed by wholesome laws, and enjoying many privileges; but here the general assembly and church of the firstborn, or all the elect of God, are intended, the whole body and society of them, being as a city, compact together; called holy, not only because set apart to holiness by God the Father, and their sins expiated by the blood of Christ, or because he is made sanctification to them, or because internally sanctified by the Spirit of God, which now is but in part; but because they will be perfectly holy in themselves, without the being of sin in them, or any spot of it on them: and John, for the more strong ascertaining the truth of this vision, expresses his name, who saw it, to whom God sent his angel, and signified to him by these Apocalyptic visions what should be hereafter; though the name is left out in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions:
new Jerusalem; the church of God, both in the Old and New Testament, is often called Jerusalem, to which its name, which signifies the vision of peace, agrees; it was the city of the great King, whither the tribes went up to worship; it was a free city, and a fortified one: the Gospel church state in its imperfection is called the heavenly Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem above, which is free, and the mother of all; and here the church in its perfect state is called the new Jerusalem, where will be complete peace and prosperity; and which is called new, because it has its seat in the new heaven and new earth: the inhabitants of which will appear in their new and shining robes of immortality and glory; and to distinguish it from the old Jerusalem, and even from the former state of the church; for this will be תליתאה "the third time" that Jerusalem will be built, as say the Jews, namely, in the time of the King Messiah r:
coming down from God out of heaven; which designs not the spiritual and heavenly original of the saints, being born from above, on which account the church is called the heavenly Jerusalem; but a local descent of all the saints with Christ from the third heaven into the air, where they will be met by living saints; and their bodies being raised and united to their souls, they will reign with Christ in the new earth: and this is
"the building which the Jews say God will prepare for the Jerusalem which is above, לנחתא, "to descend into" s:''
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; Christ is the husband, or bridegroom, and the church is his spouse, and bride; and in these characters they will both appear at this time, when the marriage between them will be consummated: and the church may be said to be prepared as such, when all the elect of God are gathered in, the number of the saints is perfected; when the good work of grace is finished in them all, and they are all arrayed in the righteousness of Christ: and to be "adorned", when not only they are clothed with the robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation, and are beautified with the graces of the Spirit, but also with the bright robes of immortality and glory. The phrase is Jewish, and is to be read exactly as here in the book of Zohar t.
r Zohar in Gen. fol. 126. 4. s Ib. fol. 103. 4. t Zohar in Gen. fol. 53. 2.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven,.... Either of an angel, or rather of Christ, or God himself; since the Alexandrian copy and Vulgate Latin version read, "out of the throne",
saying, behold the tabernacle of God is with men; in allusion to the tabernacle being with the Israelites, and the "Shechinah", or divine Majesty, being in the midst of them, and as an accomplishment of the promise in Ezekiel 37:27 in the fullest sense of it; and designs something distinct from the spiritual presence of Christ in his church, as his tabernacle and temple, and in the hearts of his people; and from the heavenly glory, or ultimate state of happiness, in which they will be "with him", and that not as in a tabernacle, but as in a city, which has foundations: the phrase seems to denote the personal presence of Christ with his saints in human nature, like, though different from, that in the time of his humiliation; then he dwelt or tabernacled with men on earth, but it was in the form of a servant; but now he will appear in a glorious body, and indeed in all his personal glory, and reign among them as their King:
and he will dwell with them; in person and not by his Spirit, or by faith, as before, nor as a wayfaring man only for a night; but he will dwell with them for the space of a thousand years, and after that for ever: Christ and his church will now be come together as husband and wife:
and they shall be his people; that is, they shall appear to be his covenant people, that will be out of all doubt; this is made manifest in some measure in the effectual calling; but it does not yet appear neither to the saints themselves, nor to others, what they are, and shall be, but now it will be evident and unquestionable.
And God himself shall be with them; the "Immanuel", God with us; not by his Spirit, as he was after his ascension to heaven, and since is; but in person, he himself will descend from heaven, when his church, the new Jerusalem does; the Lord their God will come in person with all the saints, and will be King over all the earth.
[And be] their God, as Thomas styles him, my Lord, and my God,
John 20:28. The covenant of grace, with all its blessings and promises, are in him, and now will it have its full accomplishment, and the saints be in a state inexpressibly happy; see Psalms 144:15.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,.... Occasioned by sin, Satan, the hidings of God's face, and afflictive dispensations of Providence; for these will be no more:
and there shall be no more death; natural or violent; there will be no more putting of the saints to death, or persecution of them unto death, as in former times; nor will they die a natural death any more; these children of the resurrection, and inhabitants of the new heaven and earth, will be like the angels, who die not; there will be no more deadness as to spiritual things among the saints; and as for the second death, that will have no power over them. So the Jews say u, לבא
אין מיתה לעתיד, "there is no death in the world to come"; good is laid up for the righteous in the world to come, and with them is no death x; and after the resurrection the body is perfect, and shall never after taste the taste of death y.
Neither sorrow, nor crying; on account of sin, or because of oppression and persecution, or through the loss of near relations and friends; sorrow and sighing will flee away, all occasions thereof being gone: neither shall there be any more pain; either of body or mind; there will be nothing to afflict the mind, and make that uneasy, but all the reverse; nor will there be any sickness or diseases of body, for the body will be raised glorious, powerful, incorruptible, and spiritual.
For the former things are passed away; not only the first heaven and earth, the world, its fashion, and its lusts; but the former grievous times under Rome Pagan and Papal, and everything which in this present life gives uneasiness and distress.
u Echa Rabbati, fol. 48. 2. & Midrash Kohelet, fol. 61. 2. x Maimon. Teshuva, c. 8. sect. 1. y Midrash Hanneelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 70. 1.
And he that sat upon the throne said,.... By whom is meant, either God the Father, who is often represented in this book as sitting on the throne, and as distinguished from Christ the Lamb; see Revelation 4:2 Revelation 5:13 and who may seem the more to be intended, since he is by adopting grace the God and Father of his people, and they are his sons and daughters; or rather Christ, who not only is set down on the same throne with his Father, but has a throne of his own, called the throne of the Lamb, and was seen upon one by John in the preceding vision, Revelation 20:11 which though in order of time will be after this, yet in the order of the visions was seen before; and especially since the person on the throne speaking, calls himself the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, as Christ does in Revelation 1:8 and seeing he it is that gives to thirsty souls of the water of life, John 7:37 and makes promises to the overcomer so largely and frequently in Revelation 2:7. He addresses John, and delivers the following things to him,
behold, I make all things new; which is to be understood not of the renovation of persons at conversion, when a new heart and spirit are given, and men are made wholly new creatures; for this is the work of the Spirit, and which is done daily, and is not peculiar to any particular period of time; nor of the renewing of the church state at the beginning of the Gospel, when the Jewish church state and ordinances waxed old, and vanished away, and a new covenant took place, a new and living way was opened, and new ordinances appointed, since all this was before John had this vision; nor was there any need of it to represent it to him; but of the making of the new heaven, and the new earth, which Christ ascribes to himself and of his forming his church anew, making it a new Jerusalem, bestowing new glories upon his people, both in soul and body, and so presenting them to himself a glorious church; and of the new administration of his kingdom in a very singular and glorious manner; so that it respects a new people, a new habitation, and a new manner of ruling over them; all which is his own doing, and is marvellous; and because it is a matter of great importance, and is wonderful and certain, therefore a "behold" is prefixed to it; see Isaiah 43:19. The Jews say z, that the holy blessed God will make ten things new in the future state, or world to come; the first is, he will enlighten the world; (See Revelation 21:11) the second is, he will bring living water out of Jerusalem; (see Revelation 21:6) the third is, he will make trees to bring forth their fruit every month; (see Revelation 22:2) and the fourth is, all the waste places shall be built, even Sodom and Gomorrha; the fifth is, Jerusalem shall be built with sapphire stone; (see Revelation 21:19) the sixth is, the cow and the bear shall feed; the seventh is, a covenant shall be made between Israel, and the beasts, fowls, and creeping things; the eighth is, there shall be no more weeping and howling in the world; the ninth is, there shall be no more death in the world; the tenth is, there shall no more be sighing, and groaning, and sorrow in the world; see Revelation 21:4.
And he said unto me, write; what John had seen, and Christ had said, and was about to say; and particularly what concerned the renewing of all things, the whole being a matter of moment, and worth noting and taking down in writing, that it might be on record for saints to read, and receive comfort and advantage from; and to denote the certainty of it, as well as to show that it was a clear point, and to be known, whereas, when it was otherwise, he was bid not to write; see Revelation 1:11.
for these words are true and faithful; both what he had said, and was about to say; they were "true", because they came from God, who cannot lie, and "faithful", because they would be punctually and exactly fulfilled; see Revelation 19:9. The Syriac version adds, they are God's, and so the Arabic version.
z Shemot Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 101. 3.
And he said unto me, it is done,.... The end of all things is come; it is all over with the first heaven and earth; these are no more, and the new heaven and earth are finished: there seems to be an allusion to the old creation, he spake, and it was done, Psalms 33:9. The whole election of grace is completed; every individual vessel of mercy is called by grace; all the saints are brought with Christ, and their bodies raised, and living saints changed, and all together are as a bride prepared for her husband; and the nuptials are now solemnized; all the promises and prophecies relating to the glorious state of the church are now fulfilled; the mystery of God, spoken by his servants, is finished; the kingdom of Christ is complete, and all other kingdoms are destroyed; the day of redemption is come; the salvation of the saints is perfect; what was finished on the cross, by way of impetration, is now done as to application; all are saved with an everlasting salvation.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; which are expressive of the primacy, perfection, and eternity of Christ; of his being the sum and substance, the first cause and last end of all things, relating both to the old and new world, to things temporal and spiritual;
Psalms 33:9- :.
I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely; he that is athirst is one that is so not in a natural, much less in a sinful, but in a spiritual sense; who as he has thirsted after Christ, and salvation by him; after pardon of sin, and a justifying righteousness; after communion with Christ, and conformity to him, and a greater degree of knowledge of him; so after the glories of his kingdom, and the happiness of a future state: to such an one Christ promises to give such large measures of grace and glory, and in such abundance, as will continue to refresh and delight, and as may be compared to a fountain of living water, namely, for refreshment, abundance, and continuance; and all this he will give "freely", without money, and without price; for as pardon, and righteousness, and the whole of salvation, are all of free grace, so are all the enjoyments of the kingdom state, the riches, honours, and glories of it, and eternal life itself; also plentifully, and in great abundance, and answers to the Hebrew word חנם; see Numbers 11:5.
He that overcometh,.... All spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, and the world, the antichristian beast, his image, mark, and number of his name; who is more than a conqueror through Christ; one that perseveres to the end, notwithstanding all temptations, trials, and difficulties;
shall inherit all things; the kingdom of Christ in the new Jerusalem state, and all things in it; heaven, eternal glory and happiness, and everlasting salvation; yea, God himself, who is the portion, and exceeding great reward of his people, and will be all in all. The Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "these things": the new heaven, and new earth, the presence of God with men, freedom from all evils, and divine refreshments from the fountain of living water before mentioned:
and I will be his God, and he shall be my Son; Christ is not only concerned in predestination to the adoption of children, in making way by redemption for the enjoyment of this blessing, and in the actual donation of it; but he himself, who is the mighty God, is the everlasting Father, and his people are his spiritual seed and offspring, and in his kingdom he will see his seed, and prolong his days; he will long enjoy them, and present them to himself, and afterwards to his Father, saying as in Hebrews 2:13 and though they are now, in the present state of things, the sons of God, yet it does not appear so manifest that they are, or at least what they shall be; but in this new and glorious state of things, it will be abundantly manifest that they are the sons of God and seed of Christ; and it will be known how glorious they are, and shall be, when they shall see Christ in his glory, and be like him; who will now be πατηρ του
μελλοντος αιωνος, "the Father of the world to come", as the Septuagint render the phrase in Isaiah 9:6.
But the fearful,.... Not the timorous sheep and lambs of Christ, the dear children of God, who are sometimes of a fearful heart, on account of sin, temptation, and unbelief; but such who are of cowardly spirits, and are not valiant for the truth, but who, through fear of men, either make no profession of Christ and his Gospel, or having made it, drop it, lest they should be exposed to tribulation and persecution; these are they that are afraid of the beast, and live in servile bondage to him.
And unbelieving; meaning not merely atheists, who do not believe there is a God, or deists only, that do not believe in Christ; but such who profess his name, and are called by it, and yet do not truly believe in him, nor embrace his Gospel and the truths of it, but believe a lie; these are condemned already, and on them the wrath of God abides, and they will be damned at last; though it may have a regard to such also who are infidels as to the second coming of Christ to judgment, and who are scoffers and mockers at it:
and the abominable: every sinful man is so in the sight of God; but here it denotes such who are the worst of sinners, given up to sinning; who are abominable, and to every good work reprobate; who are addicted to the worst of crimes, as were the Sodomites and others; the Ethiopic version renders it, "who pollute themselves" with unnatural lusts. The Syriac and Arabic versions express it by two words, "sinners and polluted", filthy sinners; the character well agrees with Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, and to all that adhere to her, and join with her in her abominable idolatries.
And murderers; of the saints, and prophets, and martyrs of Jesus, with whose blood Babylon, or the whore of Rome, has made herself drunk, and in whom it will be found.
And whoremongers; all unclean persons, that indulge themselves in impure lusts, in fornication, adultery, and all lewdness; as the clergy of the church of Rome, who being forbidden to marry, and being under a vow of celibacy, and making great pretensions to chastity and singular holiness, give up themselves to all lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
And sorcerers; conjurers, dealers with familiar spirits, necromancers, and such as use the magic art, as many of the popes did to get into the chair, and poisoners of kings and princes; whoredoms and witchcrafts go together sometimes, as they did in Jezebel, an emblem of the Romish antichrist.
And idolaters; that worship devils, idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, representing God, and Christ, and the virgin Mary, and saints departed, Revelation 9:20.
And all liars; in common, and particularly such who speak lies in hypocrisy, as the followers of the man of sin, and who are given up to believe a lie, that they might be damned; all lies being of the devil, and abominable to God. All and each of these
shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. The Jews a speak of several distinct places in hell, for several sorts of sinners, as particularly for sabbath breakers, adulterers, and liars; and say of the wicked, that when he is condemned he shall take חלקו, "his part" in hell b; Revelation 9:20- :
which is the second death; Revelation 9:20- :.
a Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 7. 2. b T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 15. 1.
And there came unto me one of the seven angels,.... Either the first of them, as one of the four beasts is the first of them, Revelation 6:1 or it may be the last, and very likely the same as in Revelation 17:1
which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues; that is, the wrath of God poured out by them on the antichristian party; see
And talked with me, saying, come hither; see Revelation 17:1.
I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. The "Lamb" is Christ, who is often so called in this book; see Revelation 5:6
Revelation 19:7 and is the Son of God, the heir of all things, the Maker and Governor of the universe, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and who, as Mediator, has all accomplishments and qualifications to recommend him as a bridegroom, such as beauty, riches, and wisdom: the bride, his wife, is not any particular believer, nor any particular church; not the Gentile church, nor the Jewish church only, but all the elect of God, consisting of the raised and living saints at the coming of Christ; who will make up one body, one general assembly, and be as a bride, prepared and adorned for her husband: these were first betrothed to Christ in eternity, and were openly espoused by him, one by one, at conversion; and now being all gathered in by the effectual calling, the dead being raised, and the living changed, and all glorified, the marriage is consummated, and they are declared publicly to be the bride, the Lamb's wife; Revelation 19:7- :. And now, though John had had a sight of her before, Revelation 21:2 yet that was but a glimmering one, at a distance, he being in the wilderness, Revelation 17:3 wherefore the angel calls him to him, and proposes to give him a clear, distinct, and particular view of her, in all her glory; and a glorious sight this indeed! to see the bride brought to the King in raiment of needlework, and the queen stand at his right hand in gold of Ophir. This is a sight of a quite different nature from that of the filthy strumpet, which the same angel proposed to give to John in Revelation 17:1.
And he carried me away in the Spirit,.... John was in an ecstasy, as in Revelation 1:10 and in the thoughts and apprehensions of his mind and spirit, it seemed to him as if he was carried away from one place to another; for this was not a corporeal sight, nor were any of the visions he had, but what was represented to his mind or spirit; it being with him as it was with the Apostle Paul when he was caught up to the third heaven, who knew not whether he was in the body or out of the body. The Ethiopic version renders it, "the Spirit brought me"; not the evil spirit Satan, who took up our Lord corporeally, and carried him to an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of this world, and their glory, Matthew 4:8 but either a good angel, or the Spirit of God:
to a great and high mountain; to such an one was Ezekiel brought in the visions of God, when the frame of a city and temple was shown him, with their dimensions, Ezekiel 40:2 as here a city is shown to John, with its wall, gates, foundations, and their measures: and he was brought to such a place, partly that he might have the more plain and full view of it; and partly to suggest unto him, that now the church of Christ was established upon the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, and was a city on a hill, which could not be hid, Isaiah 2:2.
And showed me that great city; which is no other than the church, the bride, the Lamb's wife; just as the apostate church, all along in this book before, is called the great city, Revelation 11:8 but now that being demolished, there is no other great city in being but the church of Christ, called a city before; Revelation 21:2 here a "great one", not only because of its prodigious large dimensions,
Revelation 21:16 but because of the number of its inhabitants, being such as no man can number; and because it is the residence of the great King, the tabernacle of God will be in it; though this epithet is left out in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Vulgate Latin and all the Oriental versions: "the holy Jerusalem"; called "the new Jerusalem",
Revelation 21:2 here "holy", in allusion to the city of Jerusalem, which was called the holy city, Matthew 4:5 on account of the temple in it, the place of divine worship; but here this city is so called, because it is the residence of the holy God, Father, Son, and Spirit, inhabited only by holy men, made perfectly so, and encompassed by holy angels.
Descending out of heaven from God; Matthew 4:5- :.
Having the glory of God,.... Not only upon their souls, which will lie in the glorious robe of Christ's righteousness, the bride's wedding garment being on them, in the perfect holiness which will be in them, and in that complete knowledge of all spiritual and heavenly things they will be possessed of, they will have a glory revealed in them; but upon their bodies also, for this city, the church, the bride of Christ, will consist only of risen and changed saints, whose bodies will be freed from all dishonour; deformity, diseases, and imperfections, and will be made like unto Christ's glorious body, and will shine like the sun in the kingdom of God. Moreover, the presence of God may be intended by his glory, as the Shechinah, or the divine majesty of God in the tabernacle and temple was called, Exodus 40:35 1 Kings 8:11 for the glorious presence of God will now be in this church state, which will cast a lustre on all that are in it; for if the face of Moses, and of Stephen, shone so bright and glorious, through the presence of God with them; see 2 Corinthians 3:7 how much more gloriously will the saints shine in this state, when they shall enjoy the presence of God in a far more illustrious manner? to which may be added, that Jesus Christ, who is the brightness of his Father's glory, will now appear in that, and in his own, and in the glory of his angels; and all the saints will appear with him in glory; and to see them in all this glory is a glorious sight indeed!
And her light was like unto a stone most precious; by her "light" is not meant the light she will have in her, though that will be exceeding great, but the fountain of it from whence it comes; that which holds it forth to her, and supplies her with it: the word φωστηρ signifies an illuminator, and is used of the ministers of the Gospel, that hold forth the word of life and light to others, Philippians 2:15 but here it intends Christ, who is the sun of righteousness, the church's light or enlightener, Revelation 21:23 not with the light of nature, as he enlightens every man, nor with the light of grace, with which the saints are enlightened by him in the present state of things, by his Spirit, through the word and ordinances, but with the light of glory: and he is comparable to the most precious stone; he is more precious than rubies; he is so now to them that believe, in his person, offices, grace, and righteousness, and will be more so in his light and glory in the new Jerusalem state:
even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal: God the Father, who sits on the throne, is said to be to look upon like a "jasper";
Revelation 21:23- :; and here Christ, the illuminator of his church, is said to be like one, because of the exceeding brightness of this stone, and the durableness of it, expressive of the perpetuity of Christ, as the light of his church and people; he is the everlasting light of it, Isaiah 60:19 and he is compared to the crystallising "jasper". There is one sort which is called "Aerizusa", like to air c, and another "Crystallizusa" d, clear as crystal. So Pliny speaks e of a white "jasper" called "Astrios", and which, he says, is crystallo propinquans, "near to crystal", found in India, and on the shores of Pallene. To this Christ is like, because he is light itself, and in him is no darkness at all, and will cause an everlasting day; and such a clear and bright state of things, as that there will be no night, nor any more darkness, nothing but everlasting joy, peace, prosperity, and happiness; there seems to be some reference to Isaiah 60:1.
c Ruaeus de Gemmis, l. 2. c. 1. d Dioscorides, l. 5. c. 160. e Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 9.
And had a wall great and high,.... Not the Spirit of God, who separates, sanctifies, and preserves the saints, as Cocceius thinks, for this account respects not the church militant; nor the eternal decree of God, the unpassable gulf between heaven and hell, which everlastingly fixes the state of men; for this regards not the ultimate state of happiness: many interpreters understand it of the doctrine of the Gospel, which, as it secures the church now from heretics, and is like a wall very strong and well built, is durable and impregnable; and may be called "great", because of the great Author of it, and the great things contained in it; and "high", since it is not to be reached by carnal minds; so none but such who have embraced it shall enter into the new Jerusalem; for all liars, and forgers of doctrinal lies, and who embrace the antichristian lies, shall be without. Though rather the almighty power of God, which guards his church and people now, and will be their defence in this state, is meant; and which shows the state not to be that of the ultimate glory, which will need no wall, but this will; since an attempt will be made upon the saints in it, though it will be a foolish and fruitless one: and this wall of divine power is very great indeed, and is insuperable by men; God himself is a wall of fire about his people; though it may be best to interpret this of salvation itself, which is by Jesus Christ, if we compare with this text Isaiah 26:1 for those, and those only, who are interested in it, will dwell in the new Jerusalem; and salvation in this state will be enjoyed in its fulness; and this is very great in its author, objects, and matter, being wrought out by the great God, for great sinners, at a great expense, and including grace and glory, and not to be got over or enjoyed by those who have no interest in it.
And had twelve gates; though, strictly speaking, there is but one gate, and that a strait one, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, his person, blood, righteousness, regenerating and sanctifying grace; for as he is the only door into the sheepfold, the church, in its present state, or he only that has faith in him has a right to enter there, and is the only way to heaven and eternal happiness; so he is the only gate into the new Jerusalem, or such only will be admitted there, who are interested in him: but these gates are said to be twelve, in allusion to the twelve apostles, who pointed out to men the way of salvation by Christ; and to the twelve tribes of Israel, who represent all the elect of God, who enter in thereat; and to the twelve gates of Ezekiel's city, Ezekiel 48:31.
And at the gates twelve angels; meaning either the ministering spirits, in allusion to the cherubim in Genesis 3:24 who are watchers, and encamp about the saints now, and will, as it were, stand sentinels in this camp of the saints, as it is called, Revelation 20:8 and besides, will be made use of in gathering the saints from the several parts of the world, and introducing them into this state; or else the apostles and ministers of the word, often called angels in this book, who will shine with peculiar lustre now, and will appear at the head of the several companies they have been useful to, and bring them as their joy and crown of rejoicing into this glorious state: this clause is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Syriac version. The Jews speak of
שרים, "princes", being appointed over the gates of heaven, east, west, north, and south, with the keys in their hands, whose names they give us f.
And names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; not literal, but mystical Israel, whom God has chosen to salvation, Christ has redeemed by his blood, and the Spirit calls by his grace; denoting that all, and each of these, have a right to enter into the new Jerusalem, and will be admitted there, and none but they. In like manner the Jews g make mention of a court of the Lord,
"which has twelve gates, according to the computation of the tribes of Israel; on one gate is written Reuben, on another is written Simeon; and so all the tribes of Israel are written on those gates; in the time they go up to appear before the Lord of the world, whoever goes up to this gate, (on which the tribe of Reuben is written,) if he is of the tribe of Reuben they open to him, (and receive him,) if not they cast him without; and so of all whom they do not receive; they open to none but to him who is of that tribe, or whose name is written on the gate.''
f Raziel, fol. 35. 2. g Zohar in Numb. fol. 70. 4.
On the east three gates,.... On which were written the names of Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan:
on the north three gates; on which were written the names of Reuben, Judah, and Levi:
on the south three gates; on which were written the names of Simeon, Issachar, and Zabulon:
and on the west three gates; on which were written the names of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali; see Ezekiel 48:31. This denotes the collection of the saints from all parts of the world, who shall come from east, west, north, and south, and sit down in the kingdom of God; and therefore here are gates at every point to enter in at; see
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,.... Christ is the one and only foundation of his church and people, of the covenant of grace, and of salvation; and of faith, hope, peace, and joy, and of eternal happiness, and so of this glorious state of the church; he will be the light and temple of it, the glory and safety of it; he will be all in all in it; but because he has been ministerially laid as the foundation, by the twelve apostles, for men to build their present and future happiness upon, therefore the foundations of the wall of salvation are said to be twelve; see Ephesians 2:20. Moreover, this may denote the firm and immovable state of the church at this time, it being a city which has foundations, or is well founded,
Hebrews 11:10 with which compare Isaiah 14:32. Hence it follows,
and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The Alexandrian copy, Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Arabic versions, read, "the twelve names of the twelve apostles"; the allusion seems to be to the inscribing of the names of builders on stones laid in the foundation, in memory of them; and so these wise master builders will be had in everlasting remembrance.
And he that talked with me,.... One of the seven angels,
Revelation 21:9 for not a man is the measurer of this city, as in
Ezekiel 40:3 nor John, as of the temple, Revelation 11:1 but an angel, the same that showed to John this great sight:
had a golden reed; not a common measuring reed, or rod, as in
Ezekiel 40:4 but one covered with gold, denoting the present glorious state of the church, being without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing:
to measure the city; the new Jerusalem, its length and breadth; see Zechariah 2:1 to show how exactly conformable this church state will be to the rule of God's word, even to perfection: and the gates thereof; to signify who had a right to enter into it, and who not:
and the wall thereof; its height, it being exceeding high.
And the city lieth four square,.... To the four corners of the world, from whence its inhabitants come, and denotes the regularity, uniformity, perfection, and immovableness of it.
And the length is as large as the breadth; this church state will be all of a piece, perfect, entire, and wanting nothing.
And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs; or fifteen hundred miles; a monstrously large city indeed! such an one as never was upon earth; see Ezekiel 48:35 and which shows, that this is not to be understood literally, but mystically; and intends the capaciousness of it, here being room enough for all the twelve tribes of Israel; that is, for all the elect of God; for as in Christ's Father's house, so in this kingdom state of his, there will be many mansions, or dwelling places, enough for all his people. This city will hold them all. The Jews h say of Jerusalem, that in time to come it shall be so enlarged, as to reach to the gates of Damascus, yea, to the throne of glory.
The length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal. A perfectly uniform state! according to the Ethiopic version, it is in length twelve thousand furlongs, and every measure equal, so that it is so many furlongs in length, breadth, and height.
h Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 24. 1.
And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits,.... The root of which is twelve, for twelve times twelve is a hundred and forty four; which number is mystical and apostolical, and suited to the perfect state of this church: hence twelve gates, and twelve angels at them, and the names of the twelve tribes on them, and twelve foundations of the wall, and twelve thousand furlongs, the measure of the city.
According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel; who talked with John, and measured the city, gates, and wall, and who appeared in the form of a man; and his reed might be, as some have supposed, the length of a man, six cubits, or six feet, as in Ezekiel 40:5 and may denote that this business requires the utmost wisdom and understanding of a man, and even of an angel, to look into, and find out; see
Revelation 13:18 and also may signify the angelic state of the saints at this time, when the children of the resurrection will be like the angels of God, for immortality and glory.
And the building of the wall of it was of jasper,.... Which is expressive of the impregnableness, duration, brightness, and glory of salvation by Christ, the jasper being a very hard, durable, and bright stone; and salvation can never be made void, and of none effect; it will last for ever, and in this state will come forth as light, and as a lamp that burneth; it is represented by the same precious stone as God and Christ themselves are; see Revelation 4:2. And the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass; it was made or built of gold; its parts, buildings, houses, and palaces, were all of gold, and that the best; and it was like to transparent glass; that is, either the city, as most copies read, or the gold; for the Alexandrian copy reads,
ομοιον, and so the Vulgate Latin version; the gold of which it was is different from common gold; and as this city, the new Jerusalem, designs the saints, the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, the inhabitants of the new earth; this denotes the solidity, excellency, and preciousness of them, the rich and happy state they will be in, as well as their purity and freedom from all sin and corruption, and the clear knowledge of things they themselves will have, and others will have of them; their hearts and actions will be open to all; nor will this gold have any rust upon it any more, or ever be changed, and become dim.
And the foundations of the wall of the city,.... Which were twelve; see Revelation 21:14 were garnished with all manner of precious stones: see Isaiah 54:11 not that there were all manner of precious stones in every foundation, but in them all there were, and each foundation had its stone peculiar to it, as follows; and which are not applicable to the persons of the apostles, who were not the foundations, but on them their names only were written: and besides, the order of them, as given in the Evangelists and Acts of the Apostles, is not certain, and always the same, to which these several stories may be adjusted; though they are doubtless comparable to them for their preciousness in the sight of God, and Christ, and all the saints; and for the brightness and purity of their doctrine and lives; and for their zeal in the cause of Christ; and for their solidity, and invincible courage and constancy: much less are these precious stones applicable to a set of ministers in the latter day, who are to be useful in the conversion of the Jews in the several parts of the world, where these stones are found, as Brightman thinks, but to Jesus Christ, the one and only foundation: and without entering into the particular virtues and excellencies of these stones, in general, they set forth the worth and preciousness of Christ, who is the pearl of great price; the pleasure and delight had in viewing his excellencies and perfections; his brightness, purity, and glory, and his firmness and durableness, as a foundation. There may be some allusion to the twelve stones in the breastplate of the high priest, on which the names of the tribes of Israel were written i.
The first foundation was jasper; it was laid with a jasper stone, of which see Revelation 4:3. On this stone, in the breastplate, Benjamin's name was written.
The second, sapphire; its colour is azure, or sky blue; it is transparent, and exceeding hard. Schroder says there are very good ones found in the borders of Bohemia and Silesia; but those which are brought from Pegu are most valuable: on this stone Issachar's name was engraven.
The third, a chalcedony; it is of a misty grey colour, clouded with blue, yellow, or purple; the best is that which has a pale cast of blue; it is very much like the common agate; and the Hebrew word כדכד, "cadcod", is rendered agate in Isaiah 54:12 though it is thought to answer to the carbuncle in the breastplate, on which was written the name of Levi. And Pliny k speaks of carbuncles, called "charcedonies", which R. Leo Mutinensis says l had their name in memory of the city of Carthagena. There is a precious stone mentioned in the Targum of Jonathan, called כדכודין, "cadcodin", which answers to the diamond in the breastplate, on which Zabulon's name was written; and in the Jerusalem Targum it is called כדכדנא, "cadcedana", and answers to the emerald, which had Judah's name on it, and seems to be put for "chalcodin" and "chalcedana", which agrees with the name of this stone.
The fourth, an emerald; of which see Revelation 4:3. The best of this sort are the eastern ones. Schroder says m they are found in Cyprus, Britain, and other places, but not so good as the rest. On this stone Judah's name was written.
i Vid. Targum Jon. & Jerus. in Exod. xxviii. 17. Targum in Cant. v. 14. Shemot Rabba, sect. 38. fol. 138. 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 178. 3. k Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 7. l Shilte Hagibborim, fol. 45. 4. m Pharmacopoeia, l. 3. c. 5. p. 18.
The fifth, sardonyx,.... Which is partly of the sardian, and partly of the onyx stone, which resembles a man's nail, from whence it has its name; it is reddish, bordering on white; it may be thought to answer to the onyx in the breastplate, on which was written the name of Joseph.
The sixth, sardius; the same with the sardine stone, Revelation 4:3 of a blood colour, and what is commonly called a cornelian: it is found in Sardinia, from whence it has its name, and in Bohemia and Silesia, though those of Babylon are the best. This was Reuben's stone.
The seventh, chrysolite; a stone of a dusky green colour, with a cast of yellow; by its name it should have the colour of gold. Schroder says it is found in Bohemia, and that it is the same the moderns call the topaz. Some think it answers to "tarshish" in the breastplate, rendered "beryl", on which was the name of Asher.
The eighth, beryl; a stone of a pale green colour, thought to be the diamond of the ancients: it may answer to the "ligure" in the breastplate, which the Targum on Song of Solomon 5:14 calls "birla", and had the name of Dan on it.
The ninth, a topaz; a stone very hard and transparent, of a beautiful yellow, or gold colour: the topaz of Ethiopia was counted the best,
Job 28:19. Some say it is so called from the island "Topazus"; on this stone Simeon's name was engraven.
The tenth, a chrysoprasus; a stone of a green colour, inclining to that of gold, from whence it has its name; for this is the agate in the breastplate, which was Napthali's stone.
The eleventh, a jacinth; or "hyacinth": a stone of a purple, or violet colour, from whence it has its name; though what the moderns so call is of a deep reddish yellow, pretty near a flame colour. Zabulon's stone was the diamond.
The twelfth, an amethyst; a stone of a violet colour, bordering on purple: it has been thought a preservative from drunkenness, from whence it seems to have its name. On this stone was written the name of Gad. Agreeably to this account of John's, the Jews speak n of the tabernacle above being built on twelve precious stones; and sometimes they say o, that the holy blessed God will found Jerusalem with ten kind of precious stones, and which they mention, and several of which are the same with these.
n Zohar in Gen. fol. 17. 2. & in Exod. fol. 65. 4. o Abkath Rocel, p. 150. Vid. Zohar in Exod. fol. 96. 3.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls,.... Denoting the purity and preciousness of Christ, by whom the saints enter, and of the saints who enter in thereat, as well as of the place into which they enter.
Every several gate was of one pearl; the pearl of great price, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only gate, door, and way into this happy state: this shows that this account cannot be taken literally, but mystically, for no such pearl was ever known, large enough to make a gate of.
"A pearl is a hard, white, shining body, usually roundish, found in a shell fish resembling an oyster, but is three or four times the size of the common oyster; and which ordinarily yields ten or twelve pearls, and sometimes more. Those of the largest size that have been known are that of Cleopatra, valued by Pliny at centies H S, or at 80,000 pound sterling; and that brought in 1574 to Philip the Second, of the size of a pigeon's egg, worth 14,400 ducats; and that of the Emperor Rudolph, mentioned by Boetius, called "la peregrina", or the incomparable, of the size of a muscade pear, and weighing 30 carats; and that mentioned by Tavernier, in the hands of the emperor of Persia in 1633, bought of an Arab for 32,000 tomans, which, at three pounds nine shillings the toman, amounts to 110,400 pounds sterling p.''
But what is one of these pearls to make a gate of, for a wall which was an hundred and forty four cubits high? Revelation 21:17. The Jews say q, that the holy blessed God will bring precious stones and "pearls" of thirty cubits by thirty, c. and place them "in the gates of Jerusalem", as it is said, Isaiah 54:12 which must be understood also not in a literal but mystical sense: and L'Empereur r makes mention of an ancient commentary on Psalms 87:1 which says, that the holy blessed God will make a gate at the east (of the temple), and in it two doors, each of one pearl. So R. Joshua ben Levi says s, that there are in paradise two gates of agates or diamonds some render the word rubies.
And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass; denoting the preciousness and delightfulness of the saints' conversation one with another; and the purity and cleanness of it, there being no mire and filth of sin in these streets; and the sincerity and openness of it, each one walking in his uprightness; which will be seen and known of all, as clearly as anything can be beheld in a transparent glass. So the Jews say t of paradise, that the ground is paved with precious stones, the lustre of which may be compared to the light of burning torches.
p Chambers's Cyclopedia in the word "Pearl". q T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 100. 1. & Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 1. & Yalkut, par. 2. fol. 54. 1. r Misn. Middot, c. 4. sect. 2. Vid. Yalkut Simconi, par. 2. fol. 54. 1. s Yalkut Simeoni, par. 1. fol. 7. 1. t Sepher. Avodah Hakkodesh, fol. 46. 1.
And I saw no temple therein,.... No material temple, as was in the old Jerusalem, or such as is described in Ezekiel's vision; nor any place of public worship, as under the Gospel dispensation; for in this state there will be no such external form of worship as now, such as preaching the word and administering ordinances. The Jews expect a third temple, but in vain.
For the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple of it; God will be immediately present with his people, whose face they shall see, and whom they will serve in the most pure and spiritual manner; and Christ in his human nature, in the temple of his body, that tabernacle which God pitched, and not man, which is filled with the train of the divine perfections, and in which the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, will be the only medium of the divine Presence, and of the communications of glory to men, and of the saints' praise to God, which will be the service they will be employed in; and the Lamb being joined with the Lord God Almighty, shows his deity and his equality with his Father.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it,.... Which may be understood either literally of these two luminaries, which all earthly cities need; and which, though they may be in being in the new heavens, yet will not have the use with respect to this city they now have. The Jews say u, the orb of the sun is in this world; and the gloss adds, but not in the future state, for the lights shall be renewed: and they further say w, as here, that
"in the world to come, "Israel אין צריכין לאור החמה, will have no need of the light of the sun, nor of the light of the moon", neither by day nor by night,''
as they say x, the Israelites had not in the wilderness. So they represent the Lord speaking to Moses, and saying y,
"thy days shall cease, but thy light shall not cease; for thou shall have no need for ever of the light of the sun, nor of the light of the moon, and of the stars.''
Or else it may be understood mystically, but not of Christ, the sun of righteousness, whom the saints will always need and enjoy; but of the governors and discipline of the church in its present state; and of the written word, which is a light unto them now, and the ministration of it, and the ordinances of the Gospel, by which light and knowledge are conveyed; but in this state all will be immediately taught of God; nor shall everyone teach his neighbour, but all shall know the Lord perfectly; and also of political governors, who will be no more; see
1 Corinthians 15:24.
For the glory of God did lighten it; the Shekinah, or glorious presence of God, which filled the temple of Solomon, and shone round about the shepherds at the incarnation of Christ; with the presence of God, who is light itself, which will be enjoyed in a much more glorious manner, will the church now be enlightened; and this will be an everlasting light unto her: and the Lamb is the light thereof; in whose light they will see the face of God, and see God face to face; they will see Christ as he is, and behold his glory; and look upon the angels, those glorious forms of light, and all the glorified saints, and know and converse with each other; and they will look into, and clearly discern all the mysteries and doctrines of grace, and all the various scenes of Providence, which will all be opened and laid before them. And this light will be always without any change and variation; which is no small part of the commendation of this city, which is the inheritance of the saints in light. So the holy blessed God is said by the Jews z to be אורו של ירושלים, "the light of Jerusalem"; he is the light of the new Jerusalem; see Isaiah 60:19 and the light of, the world to come is, by a them, called "the great light".
u T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 101. 1. w Raziel, fol. 17. 2. x Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 57. 2. y Petirat Moseh, fol. 23. 2. z Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 57. 2. & 98. 1. a Ben Gorion apud Aben Ezram in Psal. xlix. 19.
And the nations of them which are saved,.... In distinction from them that will be deceived by Satan, Revelation 20:8. These are not all the nations of the world, which will be gathered before Christ, the Judge, for all will not be saved, there is a world that will be condemned; nor the Gentiles only, which shall come into the church state of the Jews when called, for that state is not here designed; and besides, all Israel shall be saved then; nor the living saints at Christ's coming, who shall have escaped, and are saved from the general conflagration; for these, with the raised ones, will be caught up together to Christ, and descend and dwell together on earth, and make one church state; but all the elect of God, both Jews and Gentiles, whom God has chosen, Christ has redeemed, and the Spirit has called out of all the nations of the earth: these are only saved ones; such are already saved, not only are determined to be saved, and for whom salvation is wrought out by Christ, and to whom it is applied at conversion, and who are representatively set down in heavenly places in Christ, and are already saved by hope and faith, and with respect to the certainty of salvation; all which may be said of saints in the present state; but these will be such, who will be actually and personally saved, will be in the full possession of salvation, enjoying all the blessings of it: they will be partakers of the first resurrection, and the glories of it: the tabernacle of God will be with them, they will be free from all sorrows and death, and will inherit all things: the Syriac version reads, "the nations that are saved"; who are redeemed and saved by Christ: this may teach us how to understand those phrases, which seem to favour general redemption, as all men, the world, the whole world; see Isaiah 45:20. These words, "of them which are saved", are left out in the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, but are in all the copies. These nations are the inhabitants of this city, and they
shall walk in the light of it, which is Christ; they shall enjoy it; they shall have the light of life, and be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light, and that continually: they shall not only come to it, but continue in it, and walk at it, and by the light of it: the walk of these will be different from the walk of saints now, who walk by faith, and not by sight; but these shall walk by sight, enjoying the beatific vision of God, and the Lamb. The Jews say b, that Jerusalem, in time to come, will be made a lamp to the nations of the world, והם מהלכים לאורה, "and they shall walk in its light", or by the light of it, which is the sense of Isaiah 60:3 "the Gentiles shall come to thy light"; see Isaiah 9:1
and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it; by whom may be meant either mystically all the saints, who will be kings as well as priests unto God, and will reign as such with Christ in this state, will cast their crowns at his feet, and give him all the honour and glory; or literally, the kings of the earth, who shall have relinquished antichrist, hated the whore, and burnt her with fire, and who will have been nursing fathers in the spiritual reign; or rather all good kings that ever have been in the earth: not that they will be kings of the earth at this time, for now all rule, authority, and power, will be put down; nor will any worldly riches, honour, and glory, be brought by them into this state, nor will they be needed in it; but it is to be understood of who have been kings on earth, though not of their having brought earthly riches and grandeur into the interest and churches of Christ; as David gave much towards the building of the temple, which was begun and finished by King Solomon his son, and as Constantine greatly enriched and aggrandized the church when he became emperor; but the sense seems to be this, that such who have been Christian kings on earth will prefer the happiness of this state to all their riches and greatness here; and that could all the glory of the kings of the earth be put together, it would not equal, but be greatly inferior to the glory of the new Jerusalem; Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of the inhabitants of this place; see Revelation 20:6 besides, these shall do all homage, and submit to Christ the King of kings in the midst of the church, which may be meant by "glory" and "honour".
b Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 56. 3.
And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day,.... Which does not design the free communication between the living saints on the new earth, and the raised ones in the new heaven, as some have thought, for these shall be together, and make up one body; but rather the universal collection, and free admission of all the saints from all parts into this city; though it seems best to interpret it of the safety of the inhabitants, see Jeremiah 49:31 who will have no enemy to fear, and therefore need never shut their gates; the beast and false prophet will have been taken, and cast into the lake of fire long ago; ungodly men will be destroyed in the general conflagration, and Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit during the thousand years:
for there shall be no night there; this is a reason given why it is before said the gates shall not be shut by day, since it is unusual to shut gates in the day, unless in time of war, because there will be no night in this city, and so no need of ever shutting the gates; the night time being the season for thieves and robbers, and for enemies to make their incursions, and to surprise: but here will be no night; either literally, times and seasons, as measured by the revolutions of the sun and moon, will be no more, they will not have the use they have; at least this city will stand in no need of them. The Jews say c, that the world to come will be כולו יום, "all day": or mystically and figuratively, there will be no night of spiritual darkness and desertion, of drowsiness, sleepiness, and inactivity, of error and heresy, or of calamity and distress of any kind; all which are sometimes signified by night in Scripture; see Song of Solomon 3:1
c Bereshit Rabba, sect. 91. fol. 79. 4.
And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. The glory of the nations are the people of God, who, though they are reckoned the filth of the world, are the excellent in the earth; these will be brought into this city, and be presented to the King of it, in a glorious manner, and that by the kings of the earth; either such who have been ecclesiastical rulers over them, who will introduce them as their joy and crown of rejoicing; or who have been political governors of them, their fathers and protectors; or the sense is as before, that whatever is great and glorious in the nations of the world, will be counted as nothing in comparison of the glory and magnificence of this state, and not to be mentioned with it: the Arabic version renders it, "the nations shall bring glory and honour to it"; in the sense before given.
And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth,.... As evil thoughts, words, and actions do; and therefore he that enters into this city must be free from all these: or "that is defiled", as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read; or "that is unclean", as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; alluding to the tabernacle and temple, into which no unclean person might come; see
Isaiah 52:1. No profane sinner, whose mind and conscience are defiled, and whose conversation is defiling, may enter here; nor any self-righteous person, whose righteousness is as filthy rags, and he himself is as an unclean thing, shall be admitted here; only such who are washed in the blood of Christ, and have on his righteousness, and so are without spot or wrinkle; which shows the pure and perfect state of this church and therefore cannot design any state of the church previous to the coming of Christ and the first resurrection:
neither whatsoever worketh abomination; commits sin, which is abominable in the sight of God, lives and dies in a course of wickedness; or particularly is guilty of idolatry, either makes idols, or serves them, or both, which are an abomination to the Lord; see
1 Kings 11:7
or maketh a lie; any lie in general; who is a common liar, loves and invents a lie, and speaks one; delivers that which is false with an intention to deceive; or in particular, who embraces and propagates antichristian lies, doctrinal ones, lies spoken in hypocrisy; such shall be damned; see 1 Timothy 4:1 but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life; who are predestinated to eternal life; and though they are naturally, and in themselves defiled and sinful creatures, yet they are justified by the righteousness of Christ, and sanctified by his Spirit, and so are made meet and fit to enter this city; 1 Timothy 4:1- :. It is by the Jews observed d, that
"the Jerusalem of the world to come is not as the Jerusalem of this world; the Jerusalem of this world, whoever would go up to it (or enter into it) might; but that of the world to come, אין עולין אלא המזומנין לה, "none may go up to it (or enter into it) but those who are prepared", or appointed for it.''
d T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 2.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany