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Bible Commentaries

Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Revelation 21

I. STUDY NOTES--Revelation 21:1-22
--THE NEW JERUSALEM

What a lovely part of our Bible this is! First read this whole passage to let John’s picture into our minds.

Like the quiet beauty of a sunset after a day of storm, this lovely scene of the new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem follows the long struggle depicted in the book of Revelation. This is the climax of the visions of victory.

This whole passage IS A MEDITATION FOR US.

1.

GOD’S NEW DWELLING PLACE

That John should see "a new heaven and a new earth" (verse 1) is no strange thought. This was anticipated in Isaiah 65:17 "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth"--and also Isaiah 66:22. Compare 2 Peter 3:13 "According to His promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."

Verse 1

Verse 1.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away; and the sea was no more." John was a prisoner on the island of Patmos. The sea separated him from his friends. John expressed the joy that there will be no barriers separating us from one another in heaven by saying "The sea was no more." But also, we recall that "the sea" has been used all through the book of Revelation as a symbol of the restless, turbulent worldliness of people and races that rolls its barriers between the dwellings of God’s people (chapter 17:15 specifically states "The sea is peoples, and multitudes and nations and tongues.") It was out of "the sea" that the wild beast arose in 13:1.

Verse 2

Verse 2.

John not only saw "a new heaven and a new earth," but he also saw A NEW CITY "THE NEW JERUSALEM" "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, COMING DOWN out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Notice that John carefully describes the holy city, the new Jerusalem as "COMING DOWN out of heaven from God" in verse 2. And in verse 10 John repeats that this city he sees as "COMING DOWN out of heaven from God." It is not a city which has grown up out of the earth by social evolution by man’s efforts and schemes. It is a city which comes down from heaven as God’s free gift to the redeemed.--So in verse 2 John sees the new order in terms of a new earth, a new city, a new bride. The most important word and lesson of life is that we must find beyond time the secrets of life. The city comes down from God into a man’s heart.

Verses 3-6

Verse 3.

makes plain the PURPOSE of this new order. The purpose is: "BEHOLD THE DWELLING OF GOD IS WITH MEN. HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, AND THEY SHALL BE HIS PEOPLE, AND GOD HIMSELF WILL BE WITH THEM." The real purpose of John’s vision of the holy city coming down from God is to stress the fact that the church is a group of people where God dwells with man. The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16 describes the same truth in the words "We are the temple of the living God, as God said, ’I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’."--The purpose of the new city is "that God may dwell with men." Here is the longed for renewal of the garden of Eden. As in God’s original fellowship with man God talked, planned and dwelt with man--(Genesis chapters 2 and 3). So here in Revelation 21:1-27 in the garden of Eden made new,God dwells with men. When Jesus cried on the Cross "It is finished" the plan of redemption was completed and the believer can now have fellowship with God within the church.--The city that came down from God on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2 so that God may dwell in our hearts by faith. This vision describes the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the true church wholly separated from the false church, coming down as God’s gift from heaven prepared as a bride. Her marriage has taken place--a marriage in which there is no unfaithfulness on one side and no reproaches on the other. Note these three wonderful realities in verses 3-6. (1) Here is GLORIOUS FELLOWSHIP verse 3, 10. The truth repeated several times--THAT GOD DWELLS WITH MEN. (2) Here is THE END OF WEEPING Verse 4. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." The last heartbreak has been experienced. The last tear has fallen. "Death shall be no more." Read this word of verse 4 alongside of those Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." In our earthly experience death is the end of many sentences. But in the city of God death ceases to be. Fellowship with God is endless. Eternal life is God’s gift to the believer at conversion and even the death of the body does not end that fellowship. The Christian who can cry out at the end of this life "I want my heavenly Father" is calling for this fellowship. Parting and PAIN shall cease their torturing work where spiritual expectation takes the place of gloom and despair, and so the word is heard in verse 5 "Behold, I make all things new." (3) In verse 6 the Lord says "I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, the beginning and the end." "I am the first and the last letter of life’s alphabet, and all that is in between." "I am the alphabet." The Lord gives meaning and expression to life. He is the beginning and ending--and all that is in between can only be understood in Him. Verses 7 and 8 remind us that evil doers have no place there but have their place in the lake of fire which is "the second death"--(separation from God who is the source and sustainer of all life).

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Bibliographical Information
Norris, Harold. "Commentary on Revelation 21". "Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/nor/revelation-21.html. 2021.