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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 21

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Revelation 21:1 . Instead of παρὴλθε (Elz.), read ἀπῆλθαν (A, B, א , Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

Revelation 21:2 . The addition ἐγὼ Ἰωάννης to καὶ εὶδον (Elz.) is here incorrect.

Revelation 21:3 . The sing. λαὸς (Beng., Tisch.) is sufficiently supported by B, 2, 4, 7, al., Verss. The plur. λαοὶ (A, א , Elz., Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]), which does not belong in the O. T. tone of description, may, indeed, have been occasioned by the preceding αὐτοὶ .

Revelation 21:6 . Γέγοναν . So A, Iren., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. To this also leads the erroneous text-recension γέγονα ἐγὼ τὸ Α καὶ τ . Ω in B, א 1; while the γέγονε ἐγώ εἰμι , κ . τ . λ . (Rec.), originate in Revelation 16:17 .

Revelation 21:9 . Read, with A, א , Verss., Beng., Lach., Tisch., τὴν νύμφην , τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ αρνίου . The various transpositions (Rec.: τ . νύμφ . τ . ἀρν . τ . γυν .) depend upon the purpose of combining the τ . νύμφ . with τ . ἀρν .; cf. Revelation 19:7 .

Revelation 21:16 . Undoubtedly false is the effort at interpretation, τοσοῦτόν ἐστιν before ὅσον (Elz., rejected already by Beng.).

Revelation 21:23 . The ἐν before αὐτῂ (Rec.) is, according to A, B, א 1, al., to be deleted (Beng., d. N.).

Revelation 21:24 . The Rec. καὶ τὰ ἔθνη τὼν σωζομένων ἐν τῲ φωτὶ αὐτῆς περιπατήσουσι is an interpretation. Beng. already has the correct text.

Revelation 21:27 . Instead of κοινοὺν (Elz.), read κοινὸν (A, B, א , al., Beng., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]). The neuter ποιοὺν (B, Elz.) has been written because of the immediately preceding πᾶν κοιν . Before the correct ποιὼν (A, א 1, Beng., Lach., Tisch.), however, the article (7, 8, 13, al., Tisch.) is probably not justified (A, א 1, Beng., Lach.).

Now, finally, after all the enemies of the Lamb, and his believers, have been eternally removed, there appears (Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5 ) the final and supreme goal of all Apocalyptic prophecy, the eternal completion of the promised mystery of God, [4250] that wherein all the promises which the Lord had caused to be declared to his Church are fulfilled, and to which he had directed all the hopes of his people in the midst of the afflictions of the world, and towards which, accordingly, also the deepest longing of believers extends. [4251] Augustine already [4252] remarks correctly: “When the judgment is finished, whereby he announced beforehand that the wicked are to be judged, it remains for him to speak also concerning the good .” The result of Revelation 21:4 , with complete clearness to him, is that the subject of treatment here is the eternal blessedness of the godly. [4253]

Nevertheless, individual expositors have ruined also the description of ch. 21. by allegorizing. [4254]

[4250] Revelation 10:7 .

[4251] Cf. Revelation 22:17 ; Revelation 22:20 .

[4252] l. c., c. 17.

[4253] l. c., c. Revelation 14 : “Things are said with such clearness concerning the future world and immortality, and the eternity of the saints, that we ought to seek for nothing manifest in the Holy Scriptures, If we suppose these to be obscure.”

[4254] Cf., e.g., Grot., who again stops with the times after Constantine, when the first earth no longer existed, because the earth no longer drank the blood of the martyrs, etc. Even Vitr. understands “a state of the Church to be presented on earth at the last times,” which he expects even before the judgment of the world.

Verses 1-8

Revelation 21:1-8 . John beholds a new heaven and a new earth, and the new Jerusalem when it descends from heaven. At this a mighty voice from heaven proclaims that this is the place where God will dwell with glorified men (Revelation 21:1-4 ). The enthroned God himself testifies to this, by declaring at the same time the eternal ruin awarded to the godless; and, meanwhile, an angel commissions John to write down the present words of Divine revelation (Revelation 21:5-8 ).

Οὐρανὸν καινὸν καὶ γὴν καινὴν , κ . τ . λ . Cf. Isaiah 65:17 ; Isaiah 66:22 . The theological question as to whether the old world will pass away in such a manner, that from it, as a seed, the new will arise, or whether an absolutely new creation, after the entire annihilation of the old world, be referred to, is indeed to be decided least of all from the Apocalyptic description; yet this description [4255] is not opposed to the former view, which, according to Scripture, [4256] is more probable than the latter. [4257]

καὶ ἡ θάλασσα οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι . If the question be raised, why in the new world there will be no sea, such answers result even though no allusion to the sea of nations be made here [4258] as that by Andreas, that the cessation of earthly separations renders also navigation, together with the sea, unnecessary; by Beda, that by the conflagration of the world the sea may be dried up; by De Wette and Luthardt, that the new world will be formed by fire, as the old world issued from the water; by Ewald: “This opinion seems to have been derived peculiarly from the horror of the deep sea which the Israelites, Egyptians, and ancient Indians had derived from love of the land, confined within which they lived;” by Zull., that also in paradise there would be no sea, in connection with which Ew. ii. and Volkm. besides remark that the sea and the abyss of hell belong together, and that, therefore, in the new world, the one can no more have a place than the other. But every combination of sea and hell is incorrect, [4259] and according to Revelation 20:10 ; Revelation 20:15 , the writer of the Apocalypse actually refers to an abyss of hell eternally existing with the new heaven and the new earth.

The form of these answers of itself shows that the question is only put improperly. The text has the words referring to the sea in the place where the passing away of the entire old world is recalled; here that is expressly said which, Revelation 20:11 , was not expressly rendered prominent, that the sea also is no more, just as also the old earth and the old heaven. The tenor of the text, accordingly, does not forbid us thinking also of a new sea with the new earth. [4260] [See Note XCIV., p. 485.] Ἱερουσαλὴμ καινὴν . Also in Galatians 4:26 , there is a statement concerning the ἄνω Ἱερουσ ., but so that this idea, proceeding from the contrast to the νῦν Ἱερουσ ., only gives concretely the ideal view of the heavenly, spiritual, and free character of the Church of believers. But in John the matter is different in a twofold respect; since, in the first place, he regards the new Jerusalem only after the history of the world, when the heaven and earth also are made new, and then regards the new Jerusalem as descending from heaven to earth. [4261]

καταβ . ἐκ τ . οὐρ . ἀπὸ τ . θ . The several prepositions, as Revelation 3:12 , mark, first of all, what is purely local, then ( ἀπὸ ) the idea resulting to the personal τ . θ ., that the holy city descends “from God,” as God has prepared it and sent it down. The variation is different, e. g., in John 11:1 . In the expression Revelation 21:10 , the local idea appears to prevail even in the ἐκ τ . θ .

ἡτοιμασμέν -g0- ην -g0- . “Prepared [4262] as a bride adorned for her husband.” Here already (cf. Revelation 21:9 ) the idea, according to which the new Jerusalem is regarded as the dwelling-place (cf. Revelation 21:3 ) of the Lamb’s bride, i.e., of the Church of glorified believers, [4263] passes over to that according to which the new Jerusalem itself together with those dwelling therein is regarded as the bride. While John sees the new Jerusalem descending from heaven, he hears a strong voice from heaven, [4264] which immediately interprets this introductory vision (cf. Revelation 21:9 sqq.) to the effect that this city descending from heaven is “the tabernacle of God with men,” in which God himself shall dwell with men, and refresh them after all the sorrow they have experienced on earth, as this is henceforth no longer possible. [4265] From the very beginning, therefore, the blessed mystery of the new Jerusalem is so interpreted that here the fulfilment is manifest (Revelation 10:7 ) of all that God had previously promised to his people through the prophets, [4266] as it is, in truth, the complete realization of the communion between God and his people existing already in time (cf. Revelation 21:7 ).

ὁ θάνατος , κ . τ . λ . Cf. Revelation 20:14 .

πένθος . As in Revelation 18:8 , the special particular of lamentation for the dead is here presented, in connection with ὁ θάνατος .

κραυγὴ . The vehement cry, possibly, at the experience of such acts of violence as are indicated at Revelation 13:10 ; Revelation 13:17 , Revelation 2:10 . [4267]

πόνος . As in the earthly life was endured with every form of θλιψις .

ὃτι πρῶτα ἀπῆλθαν . The reason conditioning all (cf. Revelation 21:1 ; Revelation 21:5 ).

What the heavenly voice interpreting the vision of John has announced, is now confirmed by the One himself who sits upon the throne, [4268] and that, too, in a double declaration ( κ . εἷπεν , Revelation 21:5-6 ), since he proclaims as his work ( Ἰδού , καινὰ ποιῶ πάντα , Revelation 21:5 ), what John beheld in Revelation 21:1 , [4269] and had understood in Revelation 21:4 ( ὅτι τ . πρῶτα ἀπῆλθαν ) from the heavenly voice to be the presupposition of the blessedness of believers indicated in Revelation 21:3-4 , but then after the angel, meanwhile, [4270] had expressly commanded John ( κ . λέγει , Revelation 21:5 b ) to write down these trustworthy words of God himself, which contain the highest pledge of the future hope [4271] the promise mentioned already in Revelation 21:3 sq. is expressed in the most definite manner ( Ἐγὼ τῷ διψῶντι , κ . τ . λ ., Revelation 21:6 sqq.) The latter, however, occurs in such a way that, in this declaration of God himself, there is found, besides the promise to the victor, [4272] also the corresponding threatening of the unbelieving (Revelation 21:8 ); and that this announcement, looking towards both sides, is introduced with an allusion to the majesty of the eternal God, because just upon this does the eternal end of all temporal development depend. [4273] The γέγοναν , however, [4274] which opens this entire declaration, puts it in immediate connection with the vision; for that which John had beheld, viz., the perishing of the old and the existence of the new world, is here proclaimed as having happened.

δειλοῖς . By this such Christians are meant as, in contrast with ὁ νικῶν , shun the sorrowful struggle with the world by denying the truth of the faith. [4275]

ἀπίστοις , κ . τ . λ . The unbelieving are not Christians who have fallen from faith, [4276] but the dwellers on earth hostilely disposed to the Christian faith, [4277] to whom also [4278] all the succeeding designations pertain.

ἐβδελυγμένοις , who have in themselves the βδελύγματα , Revelation 17:4 sq.

τ . ψευδέσι . Cf. Revelation 21:27 ; Revelation 22:15 .

τὸ μέρος αὐτὼν , κ . τ . λ . With the dat., possibly ἡ λίμνη , κ . τ . λ ., is to be expected; from this construction, however, there is a departure by the interposition [4279] of the formula τὸ μέρος (sc. ἕσται ), which then brings with it the genitive αὐτῶν . [4280]

[4255] Cf. also 2 Peter 3:10 sqq.

[4256] 1 Corinthians 15:42 sqq.; Romans 8:21 ; Matthew 19:28 .

[4257] Cf. Andr.: κᾀνταῦθα οὐκ ἀνυπαρξιαν δηλοῖ τῆς κτίσεως , ἀλλʼ ἀνακαινιαμόν ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον [“And here he does not reveal a non-existence of the creation, but a renewal to what is better”].

[4258] Augustine, Hengstenb.

[4259] Cf. Revelation 13:1 with Revelation 13:11 , Revelation 11:7 with Revelation 9:2 .

[4260] Cf. also Beda.

[4261] Cf. Revelation 3:12 . Cf. Sohar, Gen. , p. 69: “God will renew his world, and build up Jerusalem, so as to make it descend into his midst, that It may never be destroyed.” See Wetst. on Gal., l. c.; Schöttgen, Diss. de Hieros. coelest.; Hor. Hebr. , I. 1205 sqq.

[4262] Cf. Revelation 19:7 .

[4263] Revelation 19:7 sq.

[4264] Cf. Revelation 14:13 .

[4265] Cf. Revelation 7:14-17 .

[4266] Cf. Ezekiel 37:27 ; Isaiah 25:8 ; Isaiah 45:19 .

[4267] Bleek, Ew. Cf. Exodus 3:7 ; Exodus 3:9 ; Esther 4:2 .

[4268] Cf. Revelation 20:11 .

[4269] Cf. Revelation 20:11 .

[4270] Revelation 19:9 , Revelation 22:6 . Beng., Züll., Hengstenb.

[4271] Cf. also Revelation 14:13 .

[4272] The expression in itself marks already the parenetic intention.

[4273] Cf. Revelation 1:8 .

[4274] Cf. Revelation 16:17 .

[4275] Beng., De Wette, Hengstenb.

[4276] Ewald; cf. also Beng.

[4277] Cf. Revelation 13:8 , Revelation 16:2 ; Revelation 16:21 .

[4278] Cf. Revelation 9:21 .

[4279] Cf. Revelation 20:6 .

[4280] Matthew 24:51 . De Wette.


XCIV. Revelation 21:1 . ἡ θύλασσα οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι

Carpenter: “The sea has played an important part in the symbolism of the book. Out of the sea, rose the wild beast (Revelation 13:1 ); the purple-clad Babylon sat enthroned upon many waters (Revelation 17:1 ); the restless, tumultuous ocean, now discordant with its clamorous waves, now flooding the earth in confederate force, the troubled sea of evil, which cannot rest, and which casts up but mire and dirt (Isaiah 57:21 ), is nevermore to be found on the face of that earth, or near that city, whose peace is as a river, and whose righteousness as the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:18 ), and whose inhabitants are delivered from ‘the waves of this troublesome world.’ ” Gebhardt: “Most probably, by leaving out the sea, he simply wishes to express the new in the fuller sense of the word, the ideal or the perfection of the new world; inasmuch as, on account of its dangers, and the many deaths in it (cf. Revelation 20:13 ), but chiefly because of its being repugnant to all the ancients, he regarded the sea an unpleasant feature, and a prominent imperfection of the present state.” Düsterdieck’s idea of a new sea with the new earth has been poetically expressed by Bonar:

“Only all of gloom and horror,

Idle wastes of endless brine,

Haunts of darkness, storm, and danger,

These shall be no longer thine.

Backward ebbing, wave and ripple,

Wondrous scenes shall then disclose;

And, like earth’s, the wastes of ocean

Then shall blossom as the rose.”

Verse 9

to Revelation 22:5

Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5 . One of the seven vial-angels, another of whom had shown John the judgment of the great harlot, [4281] now carries the seer to a high mountain, in order to afford him a close view of the new Jerusalem. Then there follows the special description which portrays in brightest colors the final goal of Christian hope, and thus puts the glorious end of what is to happen [4282] at the close of the peculiarly revealed visions.

[4281] Revelation 17:1 .

[4282] Cf. Revelation 4:1 .

Verses 9-10

Revelation 21:9-10 . Δεῦρο , κ . τ . λ . The uniformity of the description makes prominent the contrast with the judgment presented to view (Revelation 17:1 ). [4283]

τὴν νύμφην , τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀρνίου . It belongs to the contrast with the woman representing the worldly city, that here the holy city, wherein the holy Church of God dwells, appears as the bride, the wife belonging to the Lamb. [4284]

ἀπήνεγκέν -g0- με -g0- . Cf. Revelation 17:3 ; Ezekiel 40:2 .

μέγα -g0- καὶ -g0- ὑψηλὸν -g0- . “Great” in circumference must the mountain be in proportion to its height; but the height assures the seer of the complete view of the city spread out before him, which at all events does not lie upon the mountain. [4285]

καταβαίνουσαν , κ . τ . λ . Hengstenb. [4286] finds that described here for the first time in proper terms which previously designated, by way of introduction, Revelation 21:2 ; but Revelation 21:10 cannot have the same relation to Revelation 21:2 as, e.g., ch. 15 Revelation 21:5 has to Revelation 21:1 , for, in this connection, already at Revelation 21:2 reference was made to the descending Jerusalem. The scene is thus to be regarded in the way that the descending of the city (Revelation 21:2 ), which gives occasion for the speeches of Revelation 21:3-8 , has already begun, but Revelation 21:10 proceeds further, so that, while the city is sinking down from heaven to earth, and here finds its place, John is carried by the angel to the mountain, and thence gazes upon the city now found upon earth.

[4283] Cf. Ewald.

[4284] Cf. Revelation 21:2 ; Revelation 19:7 .

[4285] Against Hengstenb. and Luthardt.

[4286] On Revelation 21:1 .

Verse 11

begins the description itself [4287] which first of all states its gleaming appearance

[4287] Cf. Ezekiel 11:0 sqq.

Revelation 21:11 begins the description itself [4288] which first of all states its gleaming appearance.

ἔχουσαν τὴν δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ . What is most important, most peculiar, and what at the same time captivates the eye of the seer above all things, is the brilliancy which irradiates the whole city: “it has” in itself, it comprehends as dwelling and abiding within it, [4289] the present glory of God himself. [4290] The concrete character of this presentation is effaced by the reading of the א : ἀπὸ τ . θ .

τ . φωστὴρ , κ . τ . λ . The description now proceeds further independently of the ἕδειξεν ; only the first item of the description ( ἕχουσαν τ . δόξ . τ . θ .) had been given in the formal connection of the original construction. [4291] From Revelation 21:23 , [4292] it follows, that ὁ φωστὴρ αὐτῆς [4293] is not distinct from the δόξα τοῦ θεοῦ ; [4294] the source of light for the city is the ΔΌΞΑ of God himself present therein. [4295]

ὍΜΟΙΟς ΛΊΘῼ , Κ . Τ . Λ . The appearance of God was illustrated similarly.

ΚΡΥΣΤΑΛΛΊΞΟΝΤΙ . Cf. Psellus in Wetst.: ἡ ἰάσπις φύσει κρυσταλλοειδής . [4296]

[4288] Cf. Ezekiel 11:0 sqq.

[4289] Cf. Revelation 21:3 .

[4290] Revelation 21:23 ; Revelation 15:8 .

[4291] Cf. Winer, p. 499.

[4292] Cf. also Ezekiel 43:2 .

[4293] Cf. Genesis 1:14 .

[4294] Against Züll., according to whom the Messiah is irradiated in the φωστὴρ .

[4295] De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[4296] [“The jasper, in nature crystalline.”]

Verses 12-21

Revelation 21:12-21 . The wall and the gates of the city. The harmonious proportions are given, [4297] according to the holy number twelve of the O. T. people of God.

ἈΓΓΈΛΟΥς ΔΏΔΕΚΑ . Correctly, Bengel: “They keep watch, and serve as an ornament. More definite references dare not be sought; as soon as we reflect that the new Jerusalem is no longer threatened by enemies, and therefore needs no watchmen of its gates, explanations result like that of Hengstenb., viz., that these angels symbolize the Divine protection against enemies “which could be conceived of only by an imagination filled with terrors, proceeding from the Church militant.”

ὈΝΌΜΑΤΑ ἘΠΙΓΕΓΡΑΜΜΈΝΑ , Κ . Τ . Λ . It does not follow that John wanted this idea, based upon Ezekiel 48:31 sqq., to be understood as it occurs in Jewish theology, [4298] viz., that members of one tribe could make use of only one door.

As the walls on all four sides have each three gates (Revelation 21:13 ), it follows (Revelation 21:14 ) that there are twelve sections of the wall, each of which is supported by a ΘΕΜΈΛΙΟς ; four of these are to be regarded as massive corner-stones, since these support the corner-pieces which extend from the third gate of the one side to the first gate of the following side. The twelve corner-stones lie open to view, at least so far that their splendor can be perceived, [4299] and the inscriptions found thereon, viz., the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, can be read. In explanation of the latter idea, Calov., etc., have properly appealed to Ephesians 2:20 . [See Note XCV., p. 485.]

[4297] Cf. Ezekiel 48:30 sqq.

[4298] Cf. De Wette.

[4299] Cf. Revelation 21:19 sq.


XCV. Revelation 21:14 . ὀνόματα τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων

Calov.: “The apostles, who, by their living voice and literary records, founded the Church, and upon whose doctrine and writings it rests as on an immovable foundation.” Hengstenberg: “The twelve apostles are the most noble bulwark of the Church, the chief channel through which the preserving grace of God flows forth to it. If, even in the new Jerusalem, they are the foundation on which the security of the Church against all conceivable dangers depends, they must also be the bulwark through all periods of the Church militant. But this passage, and that of Matthew 19:28 , where the twelve apostles appear in the ‘regeneration,’ the new Jerusalem, as the heads of the Church, are a sufficient answer to those who maintain that the apostolate is a continuous institution, and expect salvation for the Church by subjection to pretended new apostles. The Lord himself, and the disciple whom he loved, knew only of twelve apostles. The twelve apostles are forever. That in the corner-stone, besides the apostles, there are also prophets, is only a seeming variation. For that the prophets are not those of the O. T., but of the N. T., and personally identical with the apostles, is clear from the parallel passages Revelation 3:5 , Revelation 4:11 .”

Verses 15-17

Revelation 21:15-17 . The angel who shows John the city [4300] gives him a clear view of its dimensions by [4301] actually measuring them before the eyes of the seer. [4302]

ΜΈΤΡΟΝ ΚΆΛΑΜΟΝ ΧΡΥΣΟῦΝ . Cf. Revelation 11:1 , where, however, the ΚΆΛΑΜΟς is not expressly designated as ΜΈΤΡΟΝ . [4303] The measuring-reed is “golden” because of the glory, not indeed of the measuring angel, [4304] but of the objects to be measured (Revelation 21:18 ). These are presented in the series designated in Revelation 21:15 ; viz., the city (Revelation 21:16 ), the walls (Revelation 21:17-20 ), the gates (Revelation 21:21 ). That the city lies ( ΚΕῖΤΑΙ , cf. Revelation 4:2 ) four-cornered, and, indeed, with right angles and equal length and breadth, and, therefore, that its outline forms a perfect square, [4305] John recognizes already (Revelation 21:16 a ) even before the angel begins to measure. But the angel also establishes the length of the particular sides: καὶ ἐμέτρησεν τὴν πόλιν , κ . τ . λ . (Revelation 21:16 b ). The words by themselves might signify that the entire circuit of the city [4306] amounted to twelve thousand stadia ( ἘΠῚ ΣΤΑΔΊΟΥς ), [4307] so that each of the four equal sides would measure three thousand stadia; but as the equality of the length and the breadth has been designated from the very beginning, it is more probable that the twelve thousand stadia which were actually measured are meant as the mass lying at the foundation of the entire building, which, according to Revelation 21:16 c , applies also to the height of the city; for that by the closing words ( καὶ τὸ μῆκος

ἰσα ἐστίν ), dimensions actually identical are given for the length, breadth, and height of the city, is to be denied neither on account of Revelation 21:17 , nor on account of Revelation 22:2 , [4308] for the reason that the idea of the city thus resulting is a monstrosity. [4309] The city appears, therefore, as an enormous cube, which measures in length, breadth, and height, each, twelve thousand stadia. [4310] [See Note XCVI., p. 000.] The height “of the city” (Revelation 21:16 c ) is not the height of the walls (Revelation 21:17 ), as Bengel also admits, who affirms, on this account, that the one hundred and forty-four cubits (Revelation 21:17 ) are equal to the twelve hundred stadia (Revelation 21:16 ); but the idea of the height of the city as a whole, i.e., of the mass of houses contained in it, is given, Revelation 21:16 c . [4311]

In Revelation 21:17 there follows the measuring of the walls, viz., of their height, since the length of the walls is identical with the length and breadth of the city [4312] (Revelation 21:16 ). The specification of one hundred and forty-four cubits [4313] is to be understood according to the common “measure of a man” ( μέτρον ἀνθρώπου ), [4314] “which is the measure of the angel.” The words ὅ ἔστιν ἀγγέλου cannot say that, in the present case, the angel has made use of the ordinary human measure, [4315] but the measurements of the angel and of man are made equal, [4316] without venturing, against the expression μέτρον ἀνθρώπου , to declare [4317] that the measure of glorified men is here regarded. [4318]

In comparison with the height of the city (Revelation 21:16 ), the wall appears very low, even though this is extraordinarily high when compared with earthly relations. [4319] The reason is not that the walls are to form only a bulwark put about the city like a temple, [4320] and, besides, that the light proceeding from the city is not to be obstructed by a high wall; [4321] but it may be indicated that for keeping off every thing relatively unclean (cf. Revelation 21:27 ) the relatively low walls are sufficient, because, indeed, a violent attack is perfectly inconceivable.

[4300] Cf. Revelation 21:9 .

[4301] Cf. Ezekiel 40:5 sqq.

[4302] Bengel, Ewald, De Wette.

[4303] Ezekiel 42:16 sqq.

[4304] Hengstenb.

[4305] Cf. Ezekiel 48:16 .

[4306] Vitr., Eichh., Ew. i., Volkm.

[4307] Cf. Winer, p. 381.

[4308] Where the streets are spoken of.

[4309] Against De Wette, who explains the ἰσα in reference to the height, viz., of the walls, according to his misconception of Revelation 21:16 c , as “uniform,” because the walls are everywhere 144, i.e., 12 × 12 cubits high.

[4310] i.e., 300 German miles [a German mile being equal to 4.611 English and American statute miles, the measure would be, according to our computation, nearly 1,400 miles]. Andr., Beng., Züll., Hengstenb., Rinck; also Ew. ii., who at the same time alludes to the fact that this uniformity was found in the ancient Mosaic sanctuary only in the holy of holies. Cf. also Luthardt.

[4311] Hengstenb.

[4312] If the thickness of the walls were meant (Luther, gloss), it would necessarily be expressed.

[4313] Not 144,000, Ew. ii., p. 349.

[4314] Cf. Revelation 13:18 .

[4315] De Wette.

[4316] Hengstenb.

[4317] Ebrard.

[4318] Matthew 22:30 .

[4319] Cf. Revelation 21:12 .

[4320] Cf. Ezekiel 11:5 .

[4321] Züll.

The splendor of the wall of the city itself (Revelation 21:18 ), of the twelve foundation stones (Revelation 21:19 ), and of the twelve gates (Revelation 21:21 ), is described with the greatest glory whereof human fantasy is capable.

ἡ ἐνδόμησις τ . τειχ . αὐτ . In Josephus, [4322] a stone mole built in the sea, which is intended to break the force of the waves, is thus named. [4323] Here the proper wall is designated, so far as it stands upon the foundation stones; [4324] but the technical expression compounded with ἘΝ [4325] has its justification here, because the higher masonry is rooted, as it were, in the ground.

Beside the wall, in Revelation 21:18 b , the city as a whole, i.e., the mass of houses, [4326] whose height was given, Revelation 21:16 c , is mentioned, because this enormous mass, projecting above the walls, must now first be described before the individual parts (Revelation 21:19-21 ) can come more accurately into consideration. The city consists of “pure gold, like unto clear glass.” Already Andreas has correctly remarked that the addition, ὅμοιον ὑάλῳ καθαρῷ ., [4327] represents the gold as “transparent,” which had been already sufficiently designated by καθαρόν as free from every mixture, so that in this respect it did not require any special comparison with the purity of glass, [4328] although Andreas makes a mistake in referring this to the διαυγὲς καὶ λαμπρὸν of the inhabitants of the city. [4329] But it is inconceivable that John, in order to illustrate the inexpressible glory of the city descending from heaven, transgresses the natural limits of the earthly, and therefore here, e.g., represents a transparent gold as the material whereof the houses of the new Jerusalem consist, as it is unjustifiable to pervert the beautiful pictures which spring from the sanctified fantasy of the seer into theological propositions, and, accordingly, to expect that gold now opaque shall actually, in the world to come, receive “the nature of a precious stone, transparency.” [4330]

The description, Revelation 21:19 , turns to particular details, and that, too, to the foundations of the walls. With all precious stones are they “adorned,” [4331] but not in such a way as possibly only to be set with precious stones, but [4332] every individual ΘΕΜΈΛΙΟς consists of an enormous precious stone. [4333]

As the twelve ΘΕΜΈΛΙΟΙ have nothing to do with the number of the Israelitish tribes, [4334] so that artificial expedient whereby the stones mentioned in Revelation 21:19 sq. are brought into an assumed relation [4335] to those which the high priest wore in his breastplate, is to be discarded as decidedly as the vain attempt to assign individual jewels to the individual apostles. [4336] De Wette and Hengstenb. also, with propriety, deny that an intentional order is to be sought in the precious stones here mentioned, which, according to Ebrard, will not become clear until in eternity.

ἼΑΣΠΙς . Like the entire ἘΝΔΌΜΗΣΙς of the walls. Cf. Revelation 4:3

ΣΆΠΦΕΙΡΟς , סַפִיר , Exodus 24:10 ; Exodus 28:18 . The descriptions of the ancients, [4337] especially of Pliny, [4338] apply not so much to our azure, transparent sapphire, as rather to our dark-blue opaque lazuli, lapis lazuli . [4339]

χαλκηδών . Possibly corresponding to the שְׁבו ̇ , Exodus 28:19 , where, however, the LXX., with whom the name ΧΑΛΚΗΔΏΝ does not occur, have ἈΧΆΤΗς . Even Pliny is not acquainted with the name chalcedony. On the agate occurring in various forms and compositions, cf. Pliny, H. N. , xxxvii. 54.

σμάραγδος . Cf. Revelation 4:3 . In the LXX., [4340] σμάρ . stands for the Hebr. בָרֶקֶת . Cf. Plin., l. c., c. xvi.: “The third rank is ascribed to emeralds for reason. The appearance of no color is more pleasing, since there is nothing whatever greener than they.” [4341]

σαρδόνυξ . יהֲלס , Exodus 39:11 ; Ezekiel 28:13 . Plin., l. c., c. 23: “Formerly by sardonyx, as appears from the name, was understood the brilliancy in the sard, i.e., that in the flesh beneath man’s finger-nail, and translucent on both sides.”

σάρδιον . Cf. Revelation 4:3 .

χρυσόλιθος . Exodus 28:20 , LXX., for תַרְשִׁישׁ . The chrys. of the ancients, which Plin., l. c., c. 42, describes as golden-yellow, [4342] is probably identical with our topaz.

βήρυλλος . LXX., Exodus 28:20 ; Ezekiel 28:13 ( βηρύλλιον ) for שֹׁהַס , which Genesis 2:12 renders by ὁ λίθος ὁ πράσινος . The stone is in color γλαυκίζων , [4343] or, as Pliny, l. c., c. 20, says, most appropriately: “They imitate the greenness of the pure sea.”

τοπάζιον . Exodus 28:17 ; Ezekiel 28:13 ; Job 28:19 , LXX., for כִּטְדָה . Our topaz is yellow and transparent, so as to correspond with the description of Strabo; [4344] while the declarations of Pliny, l. c., c. 32, refer to our chrysolite.

ΧΡΥΣΌΠΡΑΣΟς . This does not occur in the LXX. Pliny, l. c., c. 20, presents the chrysoprasus with the chrysoberyl, but ascribes to it a paler golden color than to the latter.

ὙΆΚΙΝΘΟς . In the LXX. the Cod. Alex. has this name, where Cod. Vat. gives ΛΙΓΎΡΙΟΝ [4345] for לֶשֶס . Pliny, l. c., c. 41, compares it with the amethyst, and remarks: “This is the difference, viz., that the violet shining in the amethyst is diluted in the jacinth.”

ἈΜΈΘΥΣΤΟς . Exodus 28:19 , LXX., for אַחְלָמָה . Pliny, l. c., c. 40, reckons the amethyst as a purple gem; he says especially of the Indian amethysts, the most distinguished: “They have the absolute color purpurae felicis; ” but, even to the inferior kinds, he ascribes a similar color and transparency. [4346]

The twelve gates consist each ( ἀνὰ εἰς ἕκαστος ) [4347] of one pearl. Cf. Bava Bathra , p. 75, Revelation 1 : “God will give gems and pearls thirty cubits long and just as broad, and will hollow them to the depth of twenty cubits and the breadth of ten, and place them in the gates of Jerusalem,” etc. [4348]

The streets of the city

ἡ πλατεῖα τ . πόλ . designates in general all the streets of the city, [4349] not the market-place, [4350] also not the chief street leading into the city, [4351] because, in the entire description of the city, nothing is said of what lies outside the walls consist, like the houses which rise from the streets (Revelation 21:18 ), of pure gold, which is as transparent “as transparent glass.”

[4322] Ant. , xv. 9.

[4323] ἠ δὲ ἐνδόμησις , ὄσην ἐνεβάλετο κατὰ τῆς θαλάσσης , κ . τ . λ . [“The building, as much as he cast into the sea”].

[4324] Wetst., De Wette, Hengstenb., Bleek.

[4325] Instead of this, another, possibly ἐπιδόμησις , is not afforded.

[4326] Hengstenb., Ebrard, Ew. ii.

[4327] Cf. also Revelation 21:21 .

[4328] Against Beng., Hengstenb.

[4329] Cf. also Vitr., etc.

[4330] Ebrard.

[4331] παντὶ . Cf. Revelation 18:12 .

[4332] Cf. Isaiah 54:11 sq.

[4333] Andr., Beng., De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[4334] Cf. Revelation 21:14 .

[4335] Cf. especially Züll., Excurs . II., p. 456 sqq.; also Ew. ii., Luthardt, Volkm.

[4336] Andr., Beng., etc.

[4337] Cf. Wetst.

[4338] H. N. , xxxvii. 39: “For in sapphires the gold shines with azure points. Of sapphires, white with purple, yet among the Medes the best are nowhere transparent.”

[4339] Cf., in general, Winer, Rwb. , ii. 350 sqq.

[4340] Exodus 28:17 ; Ezekiel 28:13 .

[4341] See also Wetst.

[4342] “Shining with golden brilliancy.”

[4343] Bluish-green, Epiphan. in Wetst.

[4344] διαφανὴς , χρυσοειδὲς ἁπολάμπων φέγγσς [“diaphanous, emitting a radiance like gold”].

[4345] Exodus 28:19 ; Ezekiel 28:13 .

[4346] “A violet color shines through all.”

[4347] Cf. Winer, p. 234.

[4348] See Wetst.

[4349] De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[4350] Beng.

[4351] Züll.


XCVI. Revelation 21:16 . ἴσα ἐστίν

Alford: “Düsterdieck’s idea that the houses were three thousand stadii in height, while the wall was only one hundred and forty-four cubits, is too absurd to come at all into question. The words are open, this last consideration being taken into account, to two interpretations: (1), That the city, including the hill or rock on which it was placed, and which may be imagined as descending with it, formed such a cube as seems here described; or (2), That there is some looseness of use in the word ἴσα , and that we must understand that the length and breadth were equal to each other, and the height equal all round. Of these two, I prefer the former, as doing no violence to the words, and, at the same time, recalling somewhat the form of the earthly Jerusalem on its escarpment above the valley of the Kedron.” On the other hand, Gebhardt: “According to Düsterdieck, the relative lowness of the wall is indicative of the security of the city (comp. Isaiah 62:6 ); and very justly do we see in the size of the city, and the height of the walls, so prominently expressed, a symbol of its safety from every danger.” Hengstenberg: “Manifestly the height, and the length, and the breadth are equal; and nothing is said concerning the relation of the houses to one another. For, according to this conception, the height of the city would be altogether undetermined.”

Verse 22

Revelation 21:22 sq. The proper glory of the city is further described. It has no temple, because there is no need of one; for its temple is God himself and the Lamb. Nor does God, together with the Lamb, have a special dwelling-place in the city, but it is filled with the δόξα of God, everywhere present in it, [4352] and the city itself is indeed the bride of the Lamb [4353] who is immediately present to all the inhabitants of the city. [4354]

They, therefore, need not the light of sun and moon; for [4355] the δόξα of God and the Lamb itself fill them with light. [4356] Here where, indeed, the description implies that the δόξα τοῦ θεοῦ corresponds to the sun, and that of the Lamb to the moon, [4357] it does not follow that the same distinction is made also in Revelation 21:11 , [4358] because there it is only a φωστήρ that is mentioned, viz., the δόξα τ . θ . appears as φωστήρ , because it φωτίζωι (Revelation 21:23 ).

[4352] Cf. Revelation 21:3 ; Revelation 21:11 .

[4353] Revelation 21:9 . Cf. Revelation 19:9 .

[4354] Cf. Revelation 22:3 sq., Revelation 3:20 .

[4355] Cf. Revelation 21:11 .

[4356] Cf. Isaiah 60:19 sq.

[4357] Grot., Ewald, De Wette.

[4358] Züll.

Verses 24-27

Revelation 21:24-27 . The men who enter into the city.

The description is based throughout upon O. T. prophecies, [4359] so that it definitely marks how the mystery of God, which He had long since promised through the prophets, finds then its fulfilment. [4360] Hereby the future expression, now employed by John, is explained, while the aor., written besides in Revelation 21:23 b , reports what has been beheld. [4361] In the tone and language of the ancient prophets, John describes the people who are to find entrance into the future city. In general, as has been said, Revelation 21:27 , in a decisive way, they are only such as are written in the book of life; [4362] but in Revelation 21:24-26 , the Gentiles are expressly designated as those who, according to the ancient prophecies, are to find admission into the city. Thus by this statement, derived from the ancient prophetical declarations, the ideas of those expositors are not justified who conceive of the “heathen” and “kings,” as dwelling outside of the city, [4363] or who even attempt to determine what had been the moral condition, during their earthly life, of the heathen admitted now into the new Jerusalem. [4364] The essentially parallel description, Revelation 7:9 sqq., leads to the fact that believers from the heathen are to be regarded as entitled to an abode in the new Jerusalem; but the peculiar character of the description is conditioned by the O. T. prototypes, upon which John depends, although in its perspective, that which occurs in the earthly period of the Messianic time as the conversion of the heathen, which is represented by the heathen coming to the earthly Jerusalem, and bringing presents does not appear definitely separated from that which, to N. T. prophecy, having the first appearance of the Lord back of it, lies only on the other side of the second coming of the Lord. Altogether inapplicable is the remark made in critical interests, [4365] that the writer of the Apocalypse announces his anti-Pauline-Judaizing view, by making the distinction between heathen and Jews continue, even at the completion of the kingdom of God, in opposition to Galatians 3:28 , 1 Corinthians 15:28 . It is, indeed, directly stated how the natural distinction is no longer applicable, since the heathen, just as the Jews, receive full citizenship in the new Jerusalem, and, in like manner, participate in the blessed glory of the holy city. Cf. Revelation 22:2 . Emphasis on works also in the Apoc. [4366] is not intensified to a bold opposition to Paul. [4367] Cf. Romans 2:9 sqq.; 2 Corinthians 5:10

διὰ τοῦ φωτὸς αὐτῆς . With correct meaning, Andr. explains ἐν τῷ φωτί ; but the expression gives rather the pictorial view as to how the heathen pursue their way through the light that radiates from the city shining in the δόξα of God (cf. Revelation 21:23 ). [4368]

τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν , viz., τῶν βασιλεών . [4369] Not until Revelation 21:26 is any thing said of the δόξα κ . τιμ . τῶν ἐθνων . [4370]

καὶ οί πυλῶνες , κ . τ . λ . The constant standing-open of the gates is admissible, for the reason that there is no night, and therefore the bringing-in of glorious gifts (Revelation 21:26 ) need not be interrupted. [4371] To οἴσουσι , [4372] an impersonal subject is to be supplied, [4373] and not οί βασιλεῖς . [4374]

πᾶν κοινὸν . Cf. Acts 10:14

ποιοῦν βδέλυγμα καὶ ψεῦδος . Cf. Revelation 17:4 sq., Revelation 21:8 , Revelation 22:15 . The more definitely the sins of the heathen are mentioned as the reason for their exclusion from the holy city, the more significant it is to reckon the heathen nations and kings of the earth designated, Revelation 21:24 sqq., among those who are written in the book of life. For they also enter into the city, bringing gifts, and that, too, as citizens who are to remain therein. Thus the innate universalism of the genuine ancient-prophetic Apocalyptics which lies at the foundation also of passages like Revelation 5:9 , Revelation 7:9 , is expressed the more pregnantly, because the heathen, received into the new Jerusalem, are designated in the same words ( τὰ ἔθνη , οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς ) as were employed by ch. 13 in the expression standing for the heathen world worshipping the beast.

[4359] Isaiah 60:3 ; Isaiah 60:11 ; Psalms 72:10 .

[4360] Cf. Revelation 10:7 .

[4361] Cf. Revelation 22:3 sqq. with Revelation 21:1 sq.; also Revelation 18:9 ; Revelation 18:15 , with Revelation 18:17 .

[4362] Cf. Revelation 20:15 .

[4363] Ewald, De Wette, Bleek, etc.

[4364] Storr., Diss . II. in Apoc. quaedam loca , p. 355: “Provided, according to the measure of their ability and knowledge, they were devoted to godliness, truth, and right.” See Comment. theolog. edit. a Velthus., Kuin. et Rup. , vol. v. Likewise Ebrard.

[4365] Hilgenfeld, Introduction, p. 449.

[4366] Revelation 20:12 , etc.

[4367] Hilgenfeld ut supra .

[4368] Hengstenb. Cf., on the other hand, De Wette: “By means of its light.”

[4369] De Wette, Bleek.

[4370] Cf. Isaiah 46:12 .

[4371] Cf. Isaiah 40:11 .

[4372] Cf. Revelation 12:6 , Revelation 10:11 .

[4373] Luther, Bengel, De Wette, Hengstenb., Ew. ii., etc.

[4374] Ew. i., Züll.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 21". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/revelation-21.html. 1832.
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