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Revelation 21

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Verses 1-4

Rev 21:1-4



Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:21



Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5


Revelation 21:1-4

(In this part brief quotations are made the basis for comments. For the complete text see the top of the pages.)

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more.--In this part of the book John presented to the seven churches, and through them to us, the strongest possible incentives to induce faithfulness to God regardless of any kind of opposition. The happiness of the saved is described in imagery beyond the power of human comprehension. In the vision of the judgment he saw the heaven and the earth flee away, because not suitable for the home of the redeemed; here he sees a new heaven and a new earth fitted for our bodies when "conformed to the body of his glory." (Philippians 3:21.) That new heaven and earth will be a state, place, or condition "wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Peter 3:13.) This we must take by faith till we see the realities represented by these glorious emblems.

2 The holy city, new Jerusalem.--The scene changes and John’s vision is limited to a city. That it should be called "holy" and named the "new Jerusalem" is most natural. That city had been the Jewish capital, spiritually the church had been described as the "city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22), and most naturally the final state would be called "the city which bath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). City carries the idea of place, but the symbols are so mingled that it is not always easy to distinguish between state and place. The false church is referred to as Babylon and a drunken harlot (Revelation 17:5-6); the true church, as a holy city--Jerusalem--and a pure woman. The glorified church, under the same figure, is called the new Jerusalem and the "wife of the Lamb."

The descending of the city in such glorious form (a part of the vision appearing to John) is likened to a beautiful bride adorned to meet her husband. Clearly this indicates that the church at last will meet the Lord because attired in fine linen bright and pure which is "the righteous acts of the saints." (Revelation 19:8.) The text does not say that the church will become the wife of Christ at that time, but only that her preparation for the Lord’s coming will be made with the same care that a bride prepares for her husband-to-be. Spiritually the church is now married to Christ. (Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5:22-32.) A holy city and a beautifully adorned bride figuratively represent the beauty and holiness of the redeemed church. That is the only use here made of the comparisons ; trying to get more out of the text is to misrepresent the record.

For other metaphysical uses of the word "marriage" see notes on Revelation 19:7.

3 Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men.--As usual this announcement of the new state is made from heaven. God’s dwelling with men is not a new idea, but doing so in his personal presence is. God’s glory filled the tabernacle at Mount Sinai (Exodus 40:34-38); Jesus in the flesh was Immanuel --God with us (Matthew 1:23) in the eternal city the divine presence will be a glorious reality. The statement "they shall be his peoples" does not mean that they will become such at that time, for their entrance into the city depends upon their already being his. (Revelation 22:14; Revelation 7:11.) It means that the relationship will become permanent with no chance for the saved to be lost. "Peoples" plural--probably signifies nothing more than that the glorified church will be composed of those from all nations.

4 Wipe away every tear.--In this verse are mentioned the most satisfying characteristics which make the heavenly state so appealing to people in the flesh. The most distressing and harrowing experiences known to human life are to disappear completely. The glorious body cannot be racked with pain; no incurable disease or death can make the heart cry out in anguish; all the innumerable and sad results attributable to sin will be banished forever, for the "first things are passed away." No appeal could be more tender or comforting than freedom from the ills and troubles of human existence.

Commentary on Revelation 21:1-4 by Foy E. Wallace

1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more seaRevelation 21:1.

The new conditions of the earth and of the sea did not signify abolition of the old order of governments, nor the formation of new secular and political powers. The earth throughout the apocalypse referred to the place of the nations, with particular reference to Palestine; and the placid or tossed sea referred to the state of society; and the word heaven denoted the existing authorities of government. The new heaven and earth, and the trouble sea, having passed away and represented as being no more, indicated the changed conditions within the existing governments and society to make them favorable for the prosperity of the cause of Christ and his church throughout the empire. The old system of Judaism had been removed and the opposition of heathenism had been overcome ; and the vision represented new conditions to surround the church in the changed world.

The word new has various connotations. It may refer to that which has never been used; or to a thing of late date and recent origin; or to something novel and strange; or simply to something else, another possession, relation or state. In this context the evident meaning of the new earth was that the surroundings were prepared and made favorable for the expansion of the kingdom of Christ, made possible by the removal of Judaism, the Jewish theocracy and the Jewish state. The literal Jerusalem was no more.

The armies of Nero and Vespasian had laid waste the old Jerusalem and Judea; and on the rocks of the Aegean sea John envisioned the forward march of the church, the expansion of the kingdom of Christ, and the spread of the gospel to “the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

This phrase, new heaven and new earth, was not new in scripture terminology. The Old Testament prophets referred to Israel’s return from Babylon and their restoration to their own land of Judea as to them a “new heaven and new earth.” (Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26-36). To the Corinthians the apostle Paul described the new state in Christ as the old things having passed away--referring to the new spiritual relation to Christ in the new covenant versus the old fleshly Israelism of the old covenant. (2 Corinthians 5:17) To the scattered Jerusalem church the apostle Peter adapted that phrase in his exhortation to look for the heavenly reward in the eternal world. (2 Peter 3:13) In the apocalypse the apostle John applied the same phrase to the emergence of the church from the tribulation period.

The figurative use of the sea has a natural connection. The creator has secured and fortified the natural world by the divisions of the earth, with the interposition of vast expanses of water as barriers to conquest. This barrier in society was figuratively removed for the conquest of Christ through the expansion of the gospel--there would no longer exist separating barriers between the people of the earth. Christianity without the restraint of heathen government would become universal, as the prophet declared: “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as waters cover the sea.” It is significant that this prophecy of Isaiah was uttered in the context of the eleventh chapter dealing with the prevalence of the gospel under the rule and reign of Christ; and it was quoted by Paul in his epistle to the Romans (Romans 15:12) as being fulfilled in that time.

The heavenly city, new Jerusalem, symbolic of the victorious church was visualized as having been withdrawn from the scene of the removal and destruction of the old Jerusalem; but now that the old order had passed away with the disappearance of its city and sanctuary; the church having survived annihilation, the new Jerusalem was seen as descending from heaven. The new earth represented the renovation of old conditions; and the vision that thereafter there should be no more sea meant no more such sea as that from which the beast had emerged. The vision meant that a new state had been wrought by the truth, by the word of the Conqueror whose name was The Word, by which sword all foes had been vanquished; and there was no more the tossed and troubled sea of tribulation.

2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband---Revelation 21:2.

The old Jerusalem, the harlot and the Babylon of Revelation had fallen--the Jerusalem of Judaism.

Here the Jerusalem of Galatians 4:26 and Hebrews 12:22 were envision by the Seer as the bride of Christ. It was a vision of the fall of the old and the triumph of the new. The fact that this new Jerusalem was seen coming down from God out of heaven is the proof that it was not in reference to or descriptive of the eternal home; but rather that God was envisioned as presenting to the new earth what he had preserved from the tribulation of the old, “for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.”

In the period of persecution the vision was of the militant church passing through tribulation; but that scene was completed and here the vision was of the triumphant church coming out of tribulation into the victory of the cause of her Christ, the Conqueror of her enemies. The new Jerusalem was described as the beautified Woman, who had once fled into the wilderness as a persecuted church, but was now seen coming from God her Preserver wondrously clothed, resplendently attired, richly adorned, gloriously displayed--triumphantly descending out of heaven. The persecuted Woman had fled to “the place prepared of God” for her refuge, protection and preservation, but was here envisioned as having returned and in the ultimate descriptive phrases of victory and triumph she was presented to “the new heaven and the new earth” as the glorious Bride of the Lamb--the picture of the Conquering Christ and his Victorious Church.

The new dwelling place for the new Jerusalem had been renovated and purged from all heathen domination. The old Jerusalem with its old system of worship had been typical of the city of God; but its sanctuary was cleansed and it was to be no longer earthly, but heavenly; no longer temporal but spiritual. (Hebrews 7:5; Hebrews 9:23; Hebrews 12:22) The new Jerusalem on a spiritually or figuratively renovated earth was seen as the heavenly community of the righteous for all nations of men. It was the vision of the pure church Bride descending from the high realm of holiness in contrast with the fallen harlot city.

3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God—Revelation 21:3.

This great voice was the voice of God and Christ in unison, united with the throng of chapter 19:1, and coming from one throne.

Here the fundamental truth that the Father and the Son are one found its expression. The kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of God are one kingdom (Ephesians 5:5); the throne of God and the throne of Christ are one throne (Hebrews 1:8); the church of God and the church of Christ are one church (Acts 20:28); and the great voice from the throne was the voice of God and the voice of Christ in one united sound.par

The great voice announced that the tabernacle of God is with men. The use of the word tabernacle here was not ecclesiastical as of old. The word meant presence. This tabernacle of God was in contrast with the Jewish tent in the wilderness which was “a shadow of heavenly things.” (Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 13:1-4) It was here used to signify God’s presence with men and that he would dwell in them through his church in the world. To take the church out of the world would be to take God out of it. The tent of the wilderness signified the presence of God with Israel and through it he dwelt in them. (Exodus 40:34-38) The church is the new tabernacle for his habitation (Ephesians 2:22), and through it God dwells in men and they shall be his people--in contrast with the heathen gods--through their conversion by the truth from the darkness of heathenism to the light of Christianity. (Acts 26:16-18) The words of the voice, he will dwell with them, used the third personal pronoun he in the reference to God, which indicates that another was the speaker, and it represented the entire heavenly throng as in (Revelation 19:1) joining in the proclamation--the voice “of much people in heaven,” envisioned as descending to their new inheritance of the new heaven and the new earth.

The old order of Judaism had disappeared; the way for the new Jerusalem had been cleared of the greatest obstacle in its path--Judaism; and the vision presented the new throng of citizens floating down from above with united voices bearing the testimony that the new heaven and the earth would be the dwelling place of God with men in the new Jerusalem, the church.

4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed awayRevelation 21:4.

This passage was the fulfillment of the promise in Revelation 7:14-17 which was vouchsafed by Christ himself that the faithful through tribulation would become recipients of the blessings signified in the symbolic phrases of these two texts. The same figures of speech are employed by Isaiah in the descriptions of the blessings that should come upon Israel when freed from exile and returned to their land. It could not reasonably be argued that the metaphors of no more weeping and crying in Isaiah 65:19 referred to heaven. Israel had been weeping with their harps hanging on the willows in Babylon; but upon return to their land the weeping and tears of exile would be wiped away. It was the same metaphorical representation in Revelation 7:17; Revelation 22:4 --no more death referred to the martyrdom of the saints as in Revelation 2:10; neither sorrow nor crying referred to the sorrows of persecution; and neither any more pain was just another phrase for no more tribulation. The rider of the red horse of death had been conquered by the Rider of the white horse of deliverance from the scenes of tribulation, and these descriptions were in the continuity of the vision.

The mourning of Israel in exile was pictured as having been ended in the return to their own land in several references in the prophecies of Isaiah, examples of which are in Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 51:11 and Isaiah 65:19. Here it was declared by the prophet that after the return from exile their sorrow and mourning should then flee away. The same application must be made of the death (martyrdom) and the sorrow, crying andpain (of the tribulation) in the continuing vision of Revelation which referred to the exclusion from their new heaven and new earth the experiences of the tribulation period. The threefold army and horsemen of the woes had been banished, defeated by the conquering Rider of the white horse; and in the same metaphors employed by the prophets to represent Israel’s deliverance from exile, the Seer of Revelation adapted that imagery to signify the deliverance of the spiritual Israel, the church, from the period of tribulation. It falls into the complete harmony with the Lord’s discourse in Matthew 24:1-51 and with all of the visions of Revelation as a whole.

Commentary on Revelation 21:1-4 by Walter Scott


Revelation 21:1. — The Seer relates a new vision: I saw a new Heaven and a new earth. Both are made new, and adapted to the vast moral and physical changes which the eternal state necessitates. The “new Heaven” is for the raised and changed saints; the “new earth” is to form the habitation of those who during the millennial reign were alive on the earth — those companies described in Revelation 7:1-17; Revelation 14:1, etc. Thus, even in eternity, the everlasting distinction is preserved between the heavenly and earthly peoples of God. However close the connection they will never be united or merged in one (see Ephesians 3:15, R.V.).

The “new Heaven” in our text must not be confounded with the Heaven of Heavens, the dwelling of God. This latter subsists in moral and physical perfection, and undergoes no change.

All is new. All is according to God in His nature. All is fixed. No economic changes now. We are introduced into God’s everlasting rest, into God‘s unchanging state, one of absolute perfection. We have not here the Lamb and the fulfilment of counsel and prophecy, nor the mediatorial kingdom and the reign of righteousness, but the kingdom given up, and God all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Time distinctions, geographical boundaries, and limitations as at present entirely disappear in the grand eternal state, which, whether in Heaven or earth, displays the energy of God Himself. The “new Heaven” and “new earth,” the respective spheres of all the saved, shall be brought into blessed harmony with what God is. This is the state referred to by Isaiah 66:22, and 2 Peter 3:13, a state in which righteousness shall dwell, not reign as in millennial times. Neither enemy nor evil shall invade either of the spheres where the redeemed will for ever dwell. Ever one and everything will re-echo the glad refrain, God is light and God is love.

Revelation 21:1“For the first Heaven and the first earth had passed away.” The undoubted reference is to the statement in the previous chapter. “From whose face the earth and the Heaven fled away” (v. 11). This dissolution, not annihilation, is effected by fire (2 Peter 3:10). Scripture is silent as to any future act of creating material in a literal sense, and is equally silent on what some foolishly contend for, namely, annihilation or total extinction of being. Scripture knows nothing of such a baseless theory. Not an atom of matter, not a blade of grass, and surely not a sentient being in the wide universe is doomed to extinction. Our planet will be put in the crucible, altered, changed, and made new, to abide forever. There being no sin, there can be no corruption. The new earth is eternal. The terms first Heaven” and first earth” are in contrast to the “new Heaven” and “new earth.”


Revelation 20:1And the sea is no more. The continuity of the earth, the same in substance after the deluge and after its destruction by fire, seems evident. It exists, but as remade. (The earth exists after the passing away of Heaven and earth (Revelation 20:11-13). It cannot therefore signify cessation of existence, but means that in its then present condition it passes away, not that the thing itself becomes extinct, but certain time conditions cease, to give place to others of a permanent kind. A distinguished geologist has written, “I confess myself unable to find any evidence for it (extinction of our planet) in Nature, Reason, or Scripture.”) “The sea is no more.” This great, restless, destructive, and separating element of nature shall cease to exist. The sea, now essential to animal and vegetable life on earth, is not needed in God’s eternity. He is not only the source of life as He ever was and is, but is then the direct sustainer of it. The sea exists in the millennial age. There we read of nations, and seas, and rivers, (Nations as such can have no place in the eternal state, for these were the fruit of governmental judgment (Genesis 11:1-9). The first nine verses of chapter 11 of Genesis historically precede chapter 10, and really account for the existence of the many nations mentioned in that important historical chapter. Then in the great change which Scripture refers to as “The Regeneration” (Matthew 19:28), commonly spoken of as the millennium, we read of the dead sea, or east sea (Ezekiel 47:1-23). The great sea, or the Mediterranean, is also referred to in that same interesting millennial chapter. (See Zechariah 14:8; Psalms 72:8; Joel 3:18, etc.).) but in the eternal state these no longer exist. It is God and men, and an earth without sea, all brought into ordered subjection. The conditions of life are so different in the everlasting state that time conditions of life and happiness are no longer needed. No sea in the new and eternal earth gives, of course, an immensely extended land surface, far exceeding that which presently exists. The countless hosts of saved Jews and Gentiles on earth during the millennial reign shall then people the new earth, but not, we apprehend, in any distinctive or national sense, but simply as men in direct relation to God.


Revelation 21:2. — And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of the Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The “new Heaven” and “new earth” beheld by the Seer are not described. Of their configuration, size, and appearance we can say nothing. Their adaptation for eternal use, without change, decay, or death can surely be predicated, but not more. Without doubt they will be regions of everlasting bloom and beauty.

But now a new sight greets the eye of the Seer. He not only beholds the physical platforms on which the glories of eternity are to be displayed, but “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem.” The term “holy city” occurs three times in the Apocalypse (see Revelation 11:2; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 22:19). The first of these references is to the literal Jerusalem in the coming crisis; the other two point to the holy character of the glorified Church. The “beloved city” (Revelation 20:9) is a descriptive epithet of millennial Jerusalem, the actual city of that name. The Church, the bride and wife of the Lamb, is holy in character and ways, whether during the reign (v. 10) or in the eternal state (v. 2).

But the Church is also termed “new Jerusalem” (see also Revelation 3:12). There are three Jerusalems — the heavenly (Hebrews 12:22), the earthly (Revelation 11:2), and the mystical (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:10). The epithet “new Jerusalem” is in contrast to the old and literal city which has played such an important part in the world’s history. The term new is used three times — new Heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem. If the Jewish people, as such, are in the eternal state merged in the simple appellation men, then the earthly city, Jerusalem, as a distinctive seat and center of government will have passed away. Cities and nations are connected with time, not with eternity, and as such have no place in God’s everlasting ages of unbroken rest and blessedness, in which the redeemed alone have part. The two descriptive terms “holy city” and “new Jerusalem” are both used to set forth the Church as she enters on her eternal state of blessedness, a state more deep and unchanging than even the millennial condition in which she shared in glory the rights and dignities of the Lamb. That which succeeds the public reign of the thousand years has a character peculiar to itself; in it God is all and in all.


Revelation 21:2Coming down out of the Heaven from God. This is verbally repeated in verse 10. Heaven is the proper home of the Church, and God the source of her being and happiness. It is not said the new Jerusalem “comes down from Heaven,” but out of it. She has been dwelling in it. She has not had a casual acquaintance with Heaven, but knows it well and intimately, and is perfectly at home in the very dwelling place of God. The Church comes “out” of it in the love and glory of the place where God dwells. It is a marvelous statement. The “coming down” in Revelation 21:2 is a thousand years after the “coming down” of Revelation 21:10. The former is in eternity; the latter is at the commencement of the millennial age. In the former the Church comes down to the eternal earth; in the latter she rests over the millennial earth.


Revelation 21:2 — “Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The bride is prepared in Heaven ere her public manifestation in the kingdom (v. 9), or in her descent to the earth (v. 3). The marriage was celebrated in Heaven a thousand years before the sight given us of her here. The fact is stated in Revelation 19:7-8, to which our text clearly refers. There she had been adorned in robes of spotless white; here she is witnessed still in her bridal attire. A thousand years of love, blessedness, and companionship with her Husband and Lover are but brief. She is eternally united to Him Who died for her, and is now about to enter on a yet deeper character of blessedness in the unchanging rest and joys of eternity. She is regarded as yet wearing her bridal robes. No soil or spot, nothing to mar their lustre, and no change in her bridal affections. The term husband tells of established relationship, of satisfied affection. “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom” (John 3:29). (“Where is the chronological place of the new Jerusalem? Before, or after, or contemporary with, and to continue after the thousand years? We may confidently answer that it is the last of these;. . . there can hardly be a doubt that the wife mentioned (Revelation 19:7) is the same as the bride, the wife mentioned in Revelation 21:9. The latter is distinctly identified with the holy city, new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).” — “The Critical English Testament,” vol. 3, p. 852.)(The marriage takes place in Heaven before the warrior king and his conquering armies issue forth (Revelation 19:7); then we have the binding and confinement of Satan, and the reign of Christ for a thousand years — contemporary events — at the close of the millennial era the last satanic outburst is witnessed, followed by the resurrection and judgment of the wicked; then the eternal state is entered upon after the thousand years, in which the bride is still seen in her bridal robes and beauty (Revelation 21:2). Then in verse 9 the description is retrogressive, and shows the bride, the glorified Church during the thousand years’ reign. Before the reign (Revelation 19:7), after the reign (Revelation 21:2), during the reign (Revelation 21:9).)


Revelation 21:2. — We beg the reader’s careful attention to the distinction between the new Jerusalem of the Apocalypse, which is the glorified Church, and the heavenly Jerusalem spoken of by Paul (Hebrews 12:22). This latter, unlike the former, does not refer to people, but is the city of the living God, an actual city, the location of all the heavenly saints. It is the same that is referred to in the previous chapter, for which saints and patriarchs looked (Hebrews 11:10-16), a material city, built and prepared by God Himself, grand and vast beyond all telling. The city of Paul is a material one; the city of John is a mystical one.


Revelation 21:3. — And I heard a loud voice out of the Heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God (is) with men, and He shall tabernacle with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, their God. The Revised Version reads “the throne,” so, too, W. Kelly, but other critical editors reject it, as Tregelles, Darby, Hengstenberg, and others. The latter says: “The external testimonies for the two readings are pretty nearly equal.” Were the “loud voice” heard out of the throne it would be the voice of God, as He, of course, sits thereon. But being heard out of the Heaven, as in previous announcements (Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:10; Revelation 14:2; Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:6), it maybe that of saints. The loud voice heard is an exulting one, and proclaims a fact in which is wrapped up the supreme blessing of eternity — God with men — Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23), not now with the Jewish people, but in a far more extended and comprehensive sense.

“Behold,” attention is called to the amazing fact, “the tabernacle of God (is) with men.” (See remarks on Revelation 7:15.) God walked in Eden and talked to Adam, He appeared to the patriarchs of Israel, He dwelt in darkness in the unseen and innermost part of the tabernacle of old, God was in Christ in the days of His flesh, He dwells in the Church by His Spirit, but the actual dwelling of God with His creatures redeemed and on earth awaits the fixed and holy eternal state. This unspeakable blessing surpasses far that of the millennial reign. In Revelation 7:15 we read: “He that sitteth on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them” (R.V.). But how different the preposition here, “He shall tabernacle with them” (R.V.). The tabernacle is the whole body of heavenly saints. The tabernacle comes down from “the Heaven,” the natural home of the saints, but God Himself descends with them, taking His place in their midst, and tabernacles with them. Why is the word tabernacle and not temple used in this connection? We would naturally have considered that the latter term would have been the fitting one, as the tabernacle of old was set up in the wilderness, and was associated with the journeys, trials, and testings of the people. The tabernacle was the expression of a temporary state of things, whereas the more solid structure of stone, the temple, was a permanent building set up in the land. The tabernacle was a movable structure; the temple was a fixed one. We gather, therefore, that the tabernacle of God with men intimates that the saints will not settle permanently on the new earth, but move to and fro, visiting other parts of God’s creation — His inheritance and ours (Ephesians 1:10-11).


Revelation 21:3. — He shall tabernacle with them. This emphatic statement is an advance on the previous one. There, we read, “The tabernacle of God is with men;” now, “He shall tabernacle with them.” In the one case it is the tabernacle; in the other it is Himself. What an amazing truth that God, the very God, the Maker and Sustainer of Heaven and earth, shall actually and really dwell with men on earth. This is no figure of speech, but a coming grand reality, the profound depth of which baffles human understanding.

Revelation 21:3They shall be His people,” that is, God shall appropriate the eternal dwellers on the new earth for Himself. Israel of old was Jehovah’s people. Now the appellation “His people” assumes a breadth and depth of blessing utterly unknown in Old Testament times.

Revelation 21:3And God Himself shall be with them, their God. In this marvellous declaration God, so to speak, comes out of His tabernacle and personally is with His people — God Himself. Here there is no mention of anything, tabernacle or aught else, intervening between God and His people. He is “with them,” apart from any covering or external medium of communication. Then is fulfilled the Word of the Lord, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). May we not, too, give an enlarged scope to the words of the apostle quoted from the Old Testament, “God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people?” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Revelation 21:3 — The topmost stone of blessing is reached in the closing words of this marvellous paragraph. Their God. Could anything be higher? Could any character of blessing be conceived morally superior to what is here stated! God in the greatness, glory, and moral excellence of His Being! God in His own infinitude is for His people then on earth! All is wrapped up in the grand creatorial Name beyond the keenest research of a finite mind to grasp or fathom. The source, absolute and independent, of everything craved for by heart and mind is treasured up in God. What He is and has is the assured and everlasting portion of men, of all men then on the earth. The Lamb is not once named, nor any economic or other change intimated. It is God, His tabernacle, and men. God all in all, and for ever more. His lifetime measures the duration of the “new Heaven” and “new earth;” the life of God Himself the measure of the life and joy of the inhabitants of these eternal regions. We sum up: (1) God’s tabernacle with men; (2) He tabernacles with them; (3) they are His people; (4) God Himself with them; (5) God, their God. In the eternal state all is fixed on a permanent basis, but measures and distinct characters of blessing there are, for even then all vessels are not of the same capacity, while all shall be filled. In these five statements we have gradation of blessing, rising up to God Himself.


Revelation 21:4. — And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall not exist any more, nor grief, nor cry, nor distress shall exist any more, for the former things have passed away,” It is only in the eternal state that the effects of sin, physical and moral, are completely removed. The millennial era is not, as we have seen, a perfect condition, and hence even under the beneficent sway of the Lord tears will be shed on earth. The words, “He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes,” is verbally repeated in Revelation 7:17. There, however, it is a millennial scene; here it is in the everlasting state. The wiping away of tears is not an action ascribed to the Lamb either here or in the earlier scene. God does this. If He wipes away every tear, then He removes every cause and occasion of sorrow. The tear-drop will never again glisten in the eye. The eye is said to be “the fountain of sorrow,” but God shall wipe it dry.

Death shall cease. The physical dead of the madly rebellious gathered under Satan covered the old earth, at least in the vicinity of Jerusalem, and the eternal inhabitants of the new earth had witnessed the awful sight (Revelation 20:7-9). But it exists no more.

“Nor grief,” the same word as in Revelation 18:15, “wailing,” or mourning, the outward expression of the heart’s deep sorrow.

“Nor cry,” the voice of hopeless misery (Isaiah 65:19).

“Nor distress,” or pain within, no internal trouble or weariness, no pain from without or from within. These things which together make up the volume of human misery exist no more, neither does that which caused them — sin. All have passed away. “The former things,” of which those mentioned are part, “have passed away.”

Commentary on Revelation 21:1-4 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 21:1. New heaven and a new earth. The heavens means the atmospheric region surrounding the earth and is a part of the same unit in creation. The home of the redeemed is ca Revelation 21:1 the phrase "heaven and earth" because that is the present kind of home man lives in. If we were birds instead of men the vision would have showed John a "new nest." This new heaven and earth is what Jesus means in Matthew 5:5 where He says, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." It is the one Peter is looking for when he says, "We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteouness" (2 Peter 3:13). No more sea. This is an instance of a kind referred to in the general remarks, where the application must be made upon the basis of the context. In some respects we can think of the sea in a favorable light, with its wondrous treasures and submarine plants, and the innumerable varieties of food to gratify our appetites. But we know the vision is to show something desirable on the basis of contrast, and that makes us think of the ceaseless unrest and destructive billows that engulf men and ships.

Revelation 21:2. Holy city new Jerusalem means the church that is to be united at the last day in the final marriage of Christ as the bridegroom. (See the comments at Revelation 19:7.) Paul speaks of the church as the "heavenly Jerusalem" in Hebrews 12:22, and he alsoHebrews 7:5 oHebrews 9:23 thHebrews 12:22 at is above and is free and "the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26). Prepared refers to the condition a bride brings to herself in view of her approaching marriage.

Revelation 21:3. Tabernacle is used figuratively to represent the place where a person resides. It is used Acts 26:16-18 mbol of the close association that will exist between God and his people in the eternal age. He will not merely honor the saved of men by making a call upon them but will come and dwell with them. That does not Revelation 19:1 at God will descend from his lofty condition so that man would think of having a guest that is his equal in rank. He will still be God and the redeemed of men will still compose a people, but notwithstanding this great difference He will be a gracious Friend to give the honor of divine "company" to the creatures made in His image.

Revelation 21:4. God shall wipe away all tears front their eyes. Upon hearing this read once a little girl was caused to exclaim, "God must have a large handkerchief." I report this because she was making the same erroneous interpretation of the passages that many older people make. That is because they forget that they are reading in a book that was written on the basis of symbols. The significance of the statement is that the tears will be wiped away bIsaiah 35:10 gIsaiah 51:11 nting Isaiah 65:19 that could cause tears; the next words of the verse agree with this explanation. There shall be no more death. The Saviour of men went down into the depths of death and came out again, bringing with Him the eternal victory over it, thus removing the possibility for the "grim monster" ever again to overcome those who are accounted worthy of the "better resurrection" with either physical or spiritual death. This will prevent sorrow, crying and pain, which explains how God will wipe away all tears. Former things are passed away will be true at that period beyond the resurrection of the righteous.

Commentary on Rev 21:1-4 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 21:1

The scene here moves to eternity, after the end of time, when all the enemies of God have been vanquished, following the final judgment of all men, and when the long drama of human struggles and temptations shall have been concluded.

Christ promised that his faithful servants should "enter into the joy" of their Lord at his coming (Matthew 25:23); Paul encouraged the Philippians with precious words of their "citizenship ... in heaven" (Philippians 3:20); Peter wrote that, "We look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13); James said that Christians "shall be heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him" (James 2:5); Jude extolled the glory of "Him who is able to present you before the throne of his glory ... in exceeding joy" (Judges 1:24); and the author of this prophecy promised that, "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). Thus, all of the sacred writers and all of their prophecies of an eternal state of joy find their culmination and fulfillment (prophetically) in these final two chapters of Revelation. The Bible would not be complete without them.

We must not be perplexed or confused by the remarkable language of these chapters. Language itself, as a vehicle for the conveyance of thought, is incapable of any adequate portrayal of the realities symbolized. It is impossible to describe heaven. No metaphor, regardless of how powerful, can really carry the full weight of what the holy apostle sought to reveal in this sparkling portrayal of the final home of the soul. Therefore, we shall not spoil the picture by belaboring the symbols, nor by literalizing the materials, dimensions, and conceptions which abound in it. The beauty, riches, joy, and glory of heaven are exceedingly beyond all that people may think or imagine; and the very best description of them can be nothing but a feeble suggestion of their fullness. Nevertheless, we humbly thank God for what is written, and we shall strive to catch a little glance of what it will be to be there when the Lord comes to claim his own.

Before taking up a verse by verse study of this chapter, it is appropriate to make a survey of the doctrine of heaven as it appears in the word of God. Such a background study is essential to a full appreciation of this and the final chapters.


The keystone of the sacred arch of Christian theology is the doctrine of HEAVEN. In the English New Testament, the word occurs 261 times in some 20 New Testament books. Matthew quoted the word "heaven" 70 times from the words of Jesus, and the writings of the apostle John record it 83 times. The conception dominates the New Testament. Besides the 261 direct references using the term "heaven," there are many other passages, including whole sections of the holy Scriptures, in which it appears under a somewhat different terminology.

Jesus, for example, said:

And make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles (Luke 16:9).

Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34).

Peter likewise spoke of the same blessed estate when he said of the Christian graces:

For thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:11).

Paul’s magnificent 1 Corinthians 15, with its references to putting on "incorruption" and "immortality," is actually a discussion of heaven; and the same subject was his topic again, when he said:

For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

Jesus also referred to heaven under the figure of a house from God, saying:

In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also (John 14:2-3).

Likewise the Old Testament reveals the same basic conception of heaven as a place of reward for the righteous who shall live eternally with God:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 25).

Daniel spoke of the book of life and of the time of the end, declaring that:

Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

There is no understanding whatever of Jesus Christ except in the light of his unique relationship to HEAVEN:

In heaven he was from the beginning.

From heaven he came.

Of heaven he spoke.

To heaven he pointed the way.

From heaven angels announced his birth.

From heaven angels ministered to him in Gethsemane and in the Wilderness.

From heaven angels came to announce his resurrection.

From heaven the voice of God declared him to be the Son of God.

From heaven angels came to escort him to Glory.

To heaven he ascended.

From heaven the angels announced his Second Coming.

In heaven he sits at the right hand of the Majesty on High.

In heaven he reigns until all enemies shall be put underfoot.

In heaven he intercedes for Christians.

From heaven he will come again to raise the dead and summon all who ever lived to the judgment of the Great White Throne.

Take heaven out of the Bible and you have nothing left!

I. Heaven will Fulfill Man’s Most Urgent Need

A. Our current dwelling place in the tabernacle of the flesh is ephemeral, uncertain, and inadequate.

The sacred writers made the most delicate reference to this, but the very tenderness of their words underscores the pitiful and overwhelming nature of that need.

As Paul put it, "If the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved!" What kind of an "if" is this? Can any man doubt that the dissolution of this frail tent of a body is otherwise than certain and impending? How pitiful are the efforts of people to deceive themselves in such a matter as this! Mrs. Winchester, widow of the man who introduced the Winchester rifle, left behind a monstrosity of a mansion in Santa Clara, California; because she supposed that as long as she kept adding on to her house she would not die. Hundreds of stained glass windows, inverted pillars, blind doors, and almost countless rooms augmented the estate until it covered several acres of floor space. She slept in a different room each night, so that if death entered the house it could not find her. But at last death came into the blue room where she slept, and all of her striving went for naught. Mrs. Mary Baker Patterson Glover Eddy pretended that death would not come. When she could no longer ride in the buggy through the streets, she had her nurse go in her place to keep up the pretense of good health; but even in the likeness of all others, her soul deserted the body which had nowhere to go but to the grave.

Our Lord put this need in focus when he said, "WHEN YE FAIL ... (KJV)." Not "if," but "when." It is in the light of this basic fact that the walls of jasper and the streets of gold rescue the soul from the blackness of despair. Heaven is the glory that plants the lilies of the resurrection upon the grave itself and arches the tomb with the rainbow of promise. Apart from this blessed hope, how tragic is all human life.

B. And what of them who reject this hope? To reject it is to commit spiritual suicide. To refuse to believe the promise of the Saviour in this sector is to accept for one’s self exactly the status of a worm or a dog. To renounce this promise of heaven is consciously to accept an evaluation of one’s own life that leaves it without any cosmic value whatever, and to claim the rottenness of the grave as one’s eternal destiny. No wonder that Jesus marveled at unbelief!

II. Where Is Heaven?

A. The only one who ever went to heaven and came back was the apostle Paul who was "caught up into the third heaven"; and he was specifically forbidden to speak of it:

He was caught up into the third heaven ... he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is unlawful for a man to utter (2 Corinthians 13:2-4).

This prohibition enforced upon the apostle Paul could account for the fact that Paul did not speak of heaven as often as Matthew or John; and yet the few things that he said are abundantly rich in significance.

1. "The third heaven ..." Here is the explanation of why "heavens" in the plural is so frequently used in the Old Testament, where one reads repeatedly of "the heaven of heavens," the same plural reference also appearing in the New Testament, as in "Christ is made higher than the heavens" (Hebrews 7:26). The Jews had developed a fantastic theory of seven heavens, but the word of the Lord knows nothing of any such thing.

Joe Barnett, minister of Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, to whom I am indebted for assistance in this sermon, identified the three heavens in Paul’s experience as: (1) the earth’s atmosphere as evident in such Scriptures as "The fowls of the heaven and the beasts of the field" (Jeremiah 15:3); (2) the starry firmament above as in Isaiah’s words: "the stars of heaven and the constellations" (Isaiah 13:10); and (3) the third heaven is the heaven where the throne of God is; "God’s throne is in heaven" (Psalms 11:4).

Two of these heavens are visible to us, although the visibility of the second heaven of the stars and constellation is only partial and limited. There is a third heaven beyond both of those which we, in a sense, can see; but the perverse and arrogant ignorance of man is reluctant to receive such a truth.

The ancient Christian cathedrals of the Kasan and St. Isaac’s in Leningrad have been plundered and raped by the godless atheistic Communists who have torn down the high altars and installed in the place of them the enlarged photographs of the vulgar Russian cosmonauts, Titov and Gegarin, with huge placards in four languages (Russian, German, French, and English) declaiming that, "We have searched the heavens, and there is no God!" Indeed, indeed! What an impudent arrogance is this! A worm has climbed to his perch on a cabbage leaf and affirms in the authority of his blindness that there are no stars or constellations. It is a measure of man’s rebellion against his Creator that, at a time when he has not explored one billionth part of the second heaven, he has the audacity to proclaim that there is no third! That God is not! That man is supreme! That there is nothing in the universe any higher than a man, who even as he boasts is brushed into the grave.

III. What Is in Heaven?

A. The throne of God is there.

Straightway I was in the Spirit, and behold there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting upon the throne ... he is the Lord God, the Almighty (Revelation 4:2; Revelation 4:8).

The universe is not directed by blind law, or some form of robot control but by the Person upon the throne.

B. The Lamb of God is likewise on the throne.

And I saw in the midst of the throne ... a Lamb standing as though it had been slain ... and the voice of ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, saying, Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and honor and glory, and blessing (Revelation 4:6; Revelation 4:11).

C. Our hope is there.

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast and which entereth into that which is within the veil (Hebrews 6:19).

D. Our treasure is there.

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust doth not corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal (Matthew 6:20).

Jesus promised the persecuted, "Great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12).

Peter spoke of the inheritance "reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4).

E. Our citizenship is there.

Our citizenship is in heaven, whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory (Philippians 3:20-21).

Illustration: After the battle of Actium (Sept. 2,31 B.C.), Augustus Caesar, at last enthroned with absolute power made Philippi a Roman colony and banished the soldiers of Anthony, his final rival, to live there. Thus, their true citizenship was in Rome, but they lived out their days as strangers in a foreign land. This illuminates Paul’s words here.

F. Our names are written in heaven.

Help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, whose names are written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3).

To the returning Seventy, Jesus said, "Nevertheless rejoice not in this that the spirits are subject unto you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).

G. Our loved ones are there.

It’s the people who will make up heaven. That’s what makes any city; and the host of the redeemed of all ages await us on the other shore. Barnett tells the story of an old man who said:

When I was young, I thought of heaven as a far away place of gold, domes and spires, with mansions and a world of light and angels tripping about, none of whom I knew. Then my little brother died, and I thought of heaven as a place of golden domes and spires, streets of gold and gates of pearl and one tiny little precious face that I knew. But the Great Reaper continued his harvest of the earth, and my father and mother, and my wife and children died; and my friends, one by one faded away, until like the last leaf on the tree I alone was left. And when I think of heaven now, I always think of the loved ones whom I have loved and lost awhile, but who shall welcome me into the eternal habitations. "Oh think of the home over there, by the side of the river of light, Where the saints all immortal and fair are robed in their garments of white."

IV. Heaven Viewed in Its Greater Dimensions

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Over and beyond those things which so intimately concern ourselves, the benefits and glories of heaven exceed the very limits of the imagination. As Paul expressed it:

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Read these two great chapters again; take a bird’s eye, general view of the whole vision; what do you see?

Note that John first described the city as it would appear from a distance:

It sits upon an immense platform of twelve foundations of precious stones: jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald right on through the list of twelve, the last being amethyst.

Above the grand foundation rise the solid jasper walls, perforated by twelve gates, each made of a single immense pearl.

It lies foursquare. Have you ever considered the dimensions indicated in this description: 12,000 stadia, or furlongs ... FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES wide and FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES LONG, an area 8.4 times the entire state of Texas and bigger than either Australia or Europe. But that’s not the half of it, IT IS FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES HIGH. Allowing a tenth of a mile to the level, that would be 15,000 levels, allowing a floor space of 33 3/4 billion square miles, many times the total area of the terraqueous globe.

Then John described the interior,

The gates ... each one a pearl. What can this mean? It means that heaven will be a place for those who have overcome. A pearl is produced by a little sea animal’s response to a tragedy, being the only gem that is made from suffering.

Heaven is a place where there will be no more tears, but what could this mean to one who had never cried?

Heaven is a place where there is no more sorrow, but who could appreciate this who was never brokenhearted?

Heaven is a place where there is no more death, but who can appreciate this like one who has buried out of sight his beloved dead?

Heaven is a place where there is no more pain, but what can that mean to one who has never suffered?

And the street of gold! What can that mean? It means that the yellow dust which people worship on earth shall at last have found its proper place under foot in the eternal city!

And the tree of life and the river of life! Here are the fountains of eternal joy, unending bliss, security, salvation, and glory!

The leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. Whatever affliction oppresses people on earth shall there be healed forevermore. The blind shall not be blind there. The cripple shall walk there. The helpless shall be strong there. The sad shall be happy there. The old shall be young there! The dead in Christ shall live there.

One of the great Restoration preachers lay dying in terrible suffering; and when a friend inquired "How are you doing?" he replied, "I am almost well"; and in a moment he was dead; but that is exactly what he was talking about. Think of grasping a hand and finding it to be the hand of the Lord, or of breathing new air and finding it to be celestial, of being transformed and finding it immortality! Think of waking up and finding it HOME! This, my beloved Christians, is the Christian’s HOMECOMING!

My beloved brothers and sisters, you see, we are all making a journey. We are passing through our allotted probation, but we have a destination that is neither in time nor space. Death marks the terminal here, but we cannot properly appreciate the significance of it. In that famous speech made by the infidel Ingersoll over the grave of a little child, he said:

We do not know which is the greatest blessing, life or death. We cannot say that death is not good. We do not know whether the grave is the end of life, or the door of another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else a dawn. Every cradle asks us, "Whence?" and every coffin, "Whither?" The poor barbarian weeping over his dead can answer the question as intelligently and satisfactorily as the robed priest of the most authentic creed. The tearful ignorance of the one is just as consoling as the learned and unmeaning words of the other.

Apart from the blessed word of God, Ingersoll was right. But you see, my beloved fellow Christians, Paul and Jesus and the blessed apostles viewed this question in the light of eternal truth, and not in the light of merely natural knowledge; and for us there is no doubt, or uncertainty. Down two millenniums of human history, the words ring out over the cemeteries of the sad earth, "We know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle be destroyed, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens." Our entry into THAT is the HOMECOMING to which we prayerfully direct your thoughts this day.

For many of us the journey is soon to be concluded. Like the river, the stream of life inevitably reaches the sea.

Where runs the river? Who can say Who hath not followed all the way By alders green and sedges gray And blossoms blue?

The meadows wide, and hill and wood Curve round to hem the eager flood. It cannot straightly as it would Its way pursue.

Whatever fields or wooded plains And waterfalls o’er which it strains, The stream at last the Vast attains. And I and you!

- Anonymous

May all Christians, therefore, think of the final HOMECOMING with joy and not with sorrow. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and may we refrain from facing the inevitable change with anything less than infinite trust in Him who loved us and gave himself for us.

The climax of that HOMECOMING, of course, will be the joy of seeing the Saviour face to face. One like unto ourselves is upon the throne of God himself, and he shall welcome us beyond the veil. "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is"; and in my Saviour’s face all the tribulations of life shall be swallowed up in joy. As Alfred Lord Tennyson expressed it:

Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea, But such a tide as moving seems asleep, too full for sound or foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep, turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell when I embark, For though from out our home of Time and Place, the flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face when I have crossed the bar.

We shall take the liberty of changing Tennyson’s verb in the last line: "I KNOW I’LL SEE MY PILOT FACE TO FACE; WHEN I HAVE CROSSED THE BAR."

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. (Revelation 21:1)

A new heaven and a new earth ... "What is promised here is the fulfillment of Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22, passages strongly ascribed by millennarians to the thousand years."[1] One of the unsolvable mysteries in this is just what is meant by "new." Paul wrote, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17) and yet the "new" man, in some sense, is the same as the old, the "newness" being in the vital change. From this, some have supposed that a similar thing could be meant by the "new" heaven and earth. Ladd wrote that, "Biblical thought always places man on a redeemed earth, not in a heavenly realm removed from earthly existence."[2] However, we are by no means sure that such a conclusion is correct. Zerr thought the new earth here "is the one Jesus meant,"[3] when he said, "The meek shall inherit the earth." Isaiah’s prophecy was understood by some among the Jews as a figure, and others understood it literally.[4] The same element of uncertainty prevails now. It is not really necessary for us to know exactly what may be meant by this promise.

The first heaven and the first earth are passed away ... This sheds no light on the problem noted above. Peter described the destruction of the heavens and the earth by fire (2 Peter 3:10) in language that seems to say they will utterly perish; but he compares it with the "destruction" of the earth by water in flood during the times of Noah (2 Peter 3:5). Throughout Revelation, the fleeing of the earth from God’s presence, and the removal of the islands, etc., suggest a literal destruction of the planet, as does Hebrews 12:27-28. We confess our inability to find any certainty on this question.

And the sea is no more ... The same problem persists here. "The three-fold division of heaven, earth, and sea represents the whole of this world";[5] but some very perceptive writers interpret "sea" here as did Cox, "The sea of unrest, the sea of anxiety is no more."[6] It has also been noted that "the sea" at the time of this writing separated John from his beloved Christians in Asia Minor, and that the absence of it in the vision would mean "there will be no more separation, from loved ones." The meaning is rich, however interpreted.

[1] Albertus Pieters, Studies in the Revelation of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p. 330.

[2] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), p. 275.

[3] E. M. Zerr, Bible Commentary, Vol. 6 (Marion, Indiana: Cogdill Foundation, 1954), p. 346.

[4] G. R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation (Greenwood, South Carolina: The Attic Press, 1974), p. 306.

[5] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 509.

[6] Frank L. Cox. Revelation in 26 Lessons (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1956), p. 119.

Verse 2

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

The holy city, new Jerusalem ... The writer of this prophecy gave no hint, whatever, of exactly when the appearance of this holy city would occur; and it is therefore a gratuitous amendment of the holy Scriptures for scholars to assert that, "The writers of the New Testament ... expected his second coming ... in their own day."[7] How could such a remark be true in the light of the "one thousand years" which John had just mentioned as leading up to the judgment day? See further comment on this particular misunderstanding of many scholars in my Commentary on 1Thessalonians, pp. 18-20.

The holy city ... "This is the church of God, now glorified and prepared for perfect communion with her Redeemer."[8] "The old Jerusalem became one with Babylon the great harlot; but the new Jerusalem is the city which Paul calls ’The Jerusalem that is above’ (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22)."[9] See more on this under verse 9, below. "The text does not say the church will become the Lamb’s bride at that time";[10] she is already the Lord’s wife (Ephesians 5:25 ff). See discussion, "Regarding the Marriage Metaphor," under Revelation 19:7.

Coming down out of heaven ... When humanity’s long and pitiful dream of some golden age, some fair Utopia, is finally realized, it will not come through man’s devices, but "down out of heaven from God"; and only the redeemed shall participate in it. "People may vainly imagine that by better education, better environment, disarmament conferences, share-the-wealth programs, etc., they can bring forth a new order";[11] but it is only a fool’s dream. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." See James 1:17 and my Commentary on James, p. 30. To the extent that people or nations may walk after God’s commandments now, some little likeness to the ultimate happiness may be achieved, but in no other way.

[7] Ray Summers. Worthy is the Lamb (Nashville: Broadman Press. 1961), p. 209.

[8] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 510.

[9] James William Russell. Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. 1964). p. 652.

[10] John T. Hinds. A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1962,. p. 297.

[11] William Hendriksen, More than Conquerors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1956), p. 241.

Verse 3

And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God:

This suggests Ezekiel 37:28. God will make his abode in the glorified Israel, the spiritual Israel, inclusive of all the redeemed of all ages. The great goal, or objective, of all salvation is that of "unmarred fellowship between God and his people."[12]

A great voice from the throne ... This is the voice of authority that again and again has echoed in this prophecy.

The tabernacle of God is with men ... Note the bypassing of the temple. More and more, right through the end of the New Testament, it is clear that the vaunted temple of the Jews was their idea, not God’s, and that, as in the monarchy, God accommodated with it, despite its not being his will from the first. See article on "The True Temple," in my Commentary on James, pp. 192-199.


[12] George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 277.

Verse 4

and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.

And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes ... The highly symbolical nature of this language is evident in the truth that if "literally" there is no more crying, then there would also be no tears. It is so easy to fall into literalism, like the little girl who heard this read and exclaimed, "God certainly must have a big handkerchief!" Of course, what is meant is that there will be no causes of tears. "Descriptions of eternal blessedness are often figurative or couched in negatives because the realities are inconceivable to us in our present state."[13] Compare this with Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 65:19. The long agony of mankind shall at last be resolved in the blissful joy of eternal life with God.

Death ... mourning ... pain ... How can we imagine a life which bears none of the marks so indelibly stamped upon it here? The "first things" are passed away indeed!


[13] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), p. 620.

Commentary on Revelation 21:1-4 by Manly Luscombe

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. John now turns his attention in a new direction. He sees a new heaven and earth. This is not, as some religions teach, a renewed, rebuilt earth. Some believe that the saved will be returned to the earth in a refurbished Garden of Eden. The term “new heaven and new earth” is not to be understood as two separate things. 2 Peter 3:13 describes the end of this world and all material things. Then we will “look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” This cannot be the earth because it has been burned up. The sea was the thing that separated John from the churches he wanted to visit and encourage. He was trapped on the island of Patmos. The sea represented the great separator, the divider. “To John on Patmos the sea was the thing which separated him from the things dearest to him, the churches of Asia.” (2, 212)

2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. It is clear that this is not a literal city. It is adorned ready for a wedding. The terms “holy city” and “New Jerusalem” describe the church. Hebrews 12:22-23 says that the church of the firstborn is the “city of the living God.” Romans 7:4 states that the church is the bride of Christ. It is important to note that heaven and the church are two separate things. The church is seen as “coming down out of heaven.” Heaven is larger than the church. Heaven includes the saved from all ages. Abraham and David will be in heaven, but were never in the church of our Lord.

3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. The tabernacle is another reference to the church that is, to faithful Christians. As the tabernacle under the old law represented the presence of God, so the church is the dwelling place of God in the Christian Age. (2 Corinthians 6:16)

4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Heaven is often described by what is NOT in heaven. God will remove the “former things”. The list includes:

1. Tears are wiped away

2. No more death

3. No sorrow

4. No crying

5. No more pain

We often use the term “passed away” to describe death. It is not the person who has died. All the former things have died. We are reminded that heaven will be heaven because of the things that are NOT there. For persecuted Christians, just to be in a place with no pain, suffering, persecution or the threat of death would be heaven.

Verses 5-8

Rev 21:5-8


Revelation 21:5-8

5 Write: for these words are faithful and true.---The one sitting on the throne gave John the command to write. Whether Christ or God is not absolutely certain. Verse 6 favors Christ, but verse 7 the other view. The question is really unimportant since Christ and the Father are one; whatever Christ does the Father does through him. The words "Alpha and the Omega" refer to Christ in Revelation 1:18, which is presumptive evidence that they have the same reference here; but these words just as appropriately describe characteristics of God. "All things new" probably include not only the new heaven and earth, but the new method and manner of serving God. In that state the reign will be turned back to the Father. (1 Corinthians 15:24.)

The command may be construed two ways: "Write these things, for they are faithful and true." That is, the speaker was assuring John that what he was to write was the exact truth. Or, write this sentence: "These words are faithful and true." That would be John’s guarantee to the readers that he was delivering a true revelation of facts.

6 They are come to pass.--This does not mean that all had happened when John wrote, but all will have come to pass at the time indicated by the symbol. In this vision John was standing before the new Jerusalem, and was speaking from that point of view. All previous symbols had to appear as fulfilled at that time. To those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matthew 5:6) there will be the privilege of drinking the "water of life freely."

7 He that overcometh shall inherit these things; --This is substantially the same promise made to the seven churches, with the same condition imposed--they must overcome. See chapters 2 and 3. "I will be his God" means I will continue to be.

8 In the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.--Here we have another brief reference to the abominable characters whose part shall be in the lake of fire. This statement contains another feature of encouragement to him that overcometh namely, he will never again be tormented by their ungodly conduct or brought under the spell of their temptations. He will never tremble in their presence nor be intimidated by their power. From the second death there is no relief.

Commentary on Revelation 21:5-8 by Foy E. Wallace

5. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are faithful and true.—Revelation 21:5.

He who sat on the throne gave this command which the angel communicated to John, and in a parenthetical phrase John referred to the original command given to him by Christ in Revelation 1:19. The Seer was ready to do what he had been commanded to do at the beginning; and they were here attested to be faithful and true words; it was in the character of swearing to the truthfulness of what John was about to write, a form of an oath in affirmation of veracity. It was before the visions were received that the voice of chapter 1 had prompted John to record the things which would be heard and seen.

It was the same voice which had first commanded him to write which now was heard to say: Behold, I make all things new. This same expression has been used to distinguish spiritual Israel from fleshly Israel (2 Corinthians 5:17); and that phrase was employed here in distinction of the new heaven and new earth from the old system of Judaism.

With the fall of the old Jerusalem, the destruction of its theocracy, the termination of the Jewish state, and the removal of the last vestige of Judaism, a new order would prevail under new surroundings.

6. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely—Revelation 21:6.

With the proclamation it is done the vision proper concerning the church in tribulation had ended, and the Revelation had ended, and the Revelation was ready to assume the new aspect of the church in the glory of victory rather than in the defeat of persecution. God and Christ are the Alpha and Omega because they are the beginning and the end in creation and in salvation, and here in the promises made to the churches, in faithfulness to finish what had begun. It meant that the vision was completed and the things envisioned would be fulfilled. When God said in the beginning, Let there be light--there was light; and of everything that God said in creation, it was done. The accomplishment of the things envisioned in the apocalypse rested upon the eternal being of God and Christ whose “word is true from the beginning and whose righteous judgments endureth forever” (Psalms 119:160); and the voice which John heard represented it all as having been done--God’s word was sure.

The inducement offered to all to drink from the fountain of the water of life freely was the gospel invitation, to all the thirsty people under the blight of heathenism in the land, to come to the fountain of the living waters Christianity-- there was unrestrained liberty to preach salvation and unhindered access to its blessings to all men. It was a restatement and a reproclamation of the Saviour’s precious invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me . . . for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) The word yoke signified government, and the Lord’s words were chosen for the comparison of his righteous rule in the hearts of men with the tyrannical rule of the Caesars; and of his power to save men from sin with the dark and despairing hopelessness of heathenism. This vision of the new Jerusalem in the new world of liberation from the evil powers was the offer of gospel blessings to the whole world.

7. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my Song of Solomon—Revelation 21:7.

The expression “he that overcometh” was employed here the first time since the repeated use of the phrase in the letters to the seven churches, which is a plain indication that the reference was to that period and to the events that belonged to it. The term inherit imports the thought of the privileges of citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem; and to inherit all things was inclusive of that which had been described in preceding verses and the implied in the following words:

And I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Here was an allusion to the promises of Samuel to David (2 Samuel 7:14), concerning the Davidic throne, which were quoted by Paul (Hebrews 1:5) as having been fulfilled in Christ. The old Davidic order of Judaism had ended, and this promise had a new significance; the old tabernacle of David that had fallen down (Acts 15:13-17) was rebuilt in the church which it had typified, and all of the spiritual blessings included in “the sure mercies of David” (Acts 13:33-34) were available in the new tabernacle. Therefore, all who had “overcome” the tribulations were entering anew into all of the promises of the New Jerusalem, theretofore hindered by the rival opposition of Judaism; but that hindrance having been removed, the full and free blessings flowing from “the fountain of the water of life” (verse 6) would be the unmingled spiritual inheritance of the overcomers.

(2) The characters cast into the brimstone lake—Revelation 21:8.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and the whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second deathRevelation 21:8.

Here was the pronouncement of doom on all classes of the persecutors and all parties and accomplices to the persecutions, implying also a warning to any among the overcomers against falling into any of this catalog of things condemned.

1. The fearful were those who shrank from the conflict who were put here in contrast with the overcomers.

2. The unbelievers were not those who were apostates from Christ, but the dwellers of the earth (Palestine) in the heathen world hostile to Christ; and who in their perverse refusal to accept Christianity remained under condemnation.

3. The abominable were the characters who practiced the defilements of the heathen world and the harlot woman (17:4).

4. The murderers were the ones who had killed the prophets and had slain the saints (Matthew 23:31-36; Acts 7:52); and who were guilty of the blood of the martyrs who were in this vision avenged.

5. The fornicators (whoremongers) were figurative of all who were affiliated with the practices of the harlot woman which had been described.

6. The sorcerers and idolaters were terms figurative of heathen practices and worship.

7. The phrase all liars included all of the deceivers and means of deception which influenced the people of the earth (Palestine) to worship the Caesar-image, or to yield to any form of heathen philosophy that would prevent the acceptance of Christ.

It is said that all of these classes of promoters of evil practices would be cast into the brimstone lake. This lake which burneth with fire and brimstone signified the complete destruction of the heathen powers that had persecuted Christ and his church. (See comments on Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10)

This would be the part, or the portion, of all the unbelievers. The explanations here and in Revelation 19:20 and Revelation 20:10 do not deny, destroy or modify the resurrection and judgment of the wicked at the second coming of Christ, nor of the eternal punishment of the wicked, which doctrines are clearly taught in numerous portions of the scriptures of both the old and the new testaments. The purpose of the comments here is merely to place these apocalyptic passages in proper contextual perspective and relation to the symbolism of the Book Of Revelation and its message. In this context the second death was a figurative description of the punishment of the persecutors in contrast with the deaths of the martyrs of the first resurrection. All these would have part in this second death in suffering the same destruction. The ones who had part in it came to the same end as the persecuting beast--a figurative description of complete destruction and annihilation of all persecuting powers opposed to the church whose opposition was crushed.

Commentary on Rev 21:5-8 by Walter Scott


Revelation 21:5-7. — And He that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He says (to me), Write, for these words are true and faithful. And He said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that thirsts of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be to him God, and he shall be to Me son. It is remarkable how often God by name or pronoun is referred to as the source of all blessing and action in the everlasting state. The Lamb is there as the husband and eternal companion of the Church, but as such He does not appear in the verses before us, save in one passing reference (Revelation 21:2). The kingdom has been delivered up to God, not that Christ ever ceases to reign, nor that He ever ceases to be man, but the reign of righteousness in putting down all opposing authority and rule having been accomplished we witness new triumphs of another character. God in the energy of His nature produces a scene according to what He is. It is not a question of subduing foes, but of God delighting Himself in forming a people and things according to Himself. God Himself is the actor in this scene of intense and thrilling interest.

Revelation 21:5 — The Sitter on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” God on the throne of omnipotence, of absolute sovereignty, declares His will — all things new. The old order of things is not improved, nor in anywise imported into the eternal state, for that condition demands a state of things in keeping with it; and God is the measure and source of the whole eternal state, whether of persons or things. Nothing short of what becomes God can appear in the unchanging state; hence, I make all things new.”

Then the Seer is called to write as in Revelation 19:9. Only the earlier command is given by an angel; here by God Himself. Special communications of deep import were directed to be written (Luke 10:20; John 20:31; Habakkuk 2:2; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 14:13, etc.). What are the words which the Seer was commanded to write? Those just uttered by God on His throne “Behold, I make all things new.”

In this sentence is fixed the character of the eternal state. Grand words surely, and worth recording! God, too, authenticates His own magnificent declaration by adding, “for these words are true and faithful.” He demands our attention, and claims our hearty and unqualified assent. “Behold, I make all things new.” “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” This is not promise, but the divine assertion of that which is fact when the moment comes for its realization.

Revelation 21:6. — “And He said to me, It is done.” Note the change of tense. In Revelation 21:5 and Revelation 21:6 the word said occurs three times, but in the second instance it reads saith or says (R.V.). The two emphatic declarations — all things new, and it is done — are just what one would expect. The first is God’s decree; the second its accomplishment.

“It is done” is verbally repeated in Revelation 16:17. The connection, however, is different. In the earlier reference the wrath of God is completed; in our text it is the permanent settlement of the eternal state that is in question; in the former, too, an angel is the speaker; here it is the voice of God that is heard.


Revelation 21:6. — I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. (In Revelation 1:8 Jehovah, the Almighty, is “The Alpha and the Omega,” in Revelation 21:6 it is God simply as such, no dispensational reference as in the earlier quotation, while in Revelation 22:13 it is Christ Who is “The Alpha and the Omega.” In each case the divine Being uses the title of Himself. In Revelation 1:11 the words should be deleted.) The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, followed by the explanatory phrase, “the beginning and the end,” intimates that all testimony on earth had its origin in God, as its end is His glory. Creation, providence, promise, history, prediction, prophecy, testimony, love, and grace have each their source in God and in Him their end. Nothing really on the divine side ends in failure. God is seen to triumph at the end. The administration of these things on earth shows, as was the divine intention, the weakness and imperfection of the creature; but that in no wise hinders or thwarts the ultimate purpose of God. The manifestation of Himself in moral glory is the end.


Revelation 21:6 — We greatly love the sentence which follows: I will give to him that thirsts of the fountain of the water of life freely. This is present; not future. Neither hunger nor thirst shall be felt in the “new Heaven” and “new earth.” The “splendid array of negatives” (Revelation 21:4) forbids the thought of thirsty ones in the eternal state, save in the lake of fire. The heart of God overflows in pity and tenderness towards the needy and unsatisfied sons and daughters of men. The “fountain,” the source of life itself, is promised to the thirsty. It is God’s gift, and freely given, as are all His gifts (Isaiah 55:1).


Revelation 21:7. — Then we have a word of wondrous cheer and strength to the tired and weary disciple, “faint yet pursuing.” The promises to the overcomer in the early part of the book (Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22) respect special circumstances, and are in view of special rewards. But here the encouragement to persevere to the end in the general battle of life is more ample, as the rewards are more full than those mentioned in the early portion. He that overcomes shall inherit these things,” those just named. But there is even yet a deeper and richer blessing in store for the overcomer, one of a personal kind, I will be to him God.” He gives Himself to the conqueror over life’s sorrows. In our judgment this truly remarkable statement even outstrips the triumphant words of Paul, “The Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Every statement of Scripture is perfect in its place, but there are some of profounder depth than others, and that in our text is such. But the tale of grace is not exhausted, for we read, He shall be to Me son.” Sonship, therefore, is an eternal relationship. The overcomer has God, and God has the overcomer as son. Press on, wearied disciple, the end is near! The promises are full enough to tide you over every trial and every difficulty.


Revelation 21:8. — “But the fearful (or cowardly), and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. God here, as in the previous utterances, is the Speaker. As another has said, “We ought to notice how much of these eight verses is made up of direct utterances of our God.” In the previous declarations God as love speaks, but in the final statement of eternity He speaks as light. God never foregoes His character as Judge of evil. The lake of fire is an actual and eternal place of punishment. In what part of the universe it is situated we know not. The current denial of eternal punishment finds no support, but absolute condemnation in the solemn passage before us. The eighth verse is as distinctly eternal as the first or second. We can introduce no measurements nor limitations within these eight verses. In them is embraced God’s eternity and man’s eternity, whether in Heaven, earth, or the lake of fire. There are eight classes specified:

(1) The fearful, or cowardly, refers to those who were afraid to confess Christ or identify themselves with the Gospel.

(2) Unbelievers, the most numerous class of any, and found amongst all classes and ranks of men.

(3) The abominable should be understood here in its widest sense as denoting all that is morally, religiously, and physically filthy (Revelation 17:4-5; Revelation 21:27; Titus 1:16).

(4) Murderers as a class are greatly on the increase. It is a solemn thing to meddle with that which peculiarly belongs to God — human life.

(5) Fornicators point to a sin which is awfully prevalent. The ruin of female virtue is regarded lightly, and fornicators are received into society in the knowledge of the fact, while the poor victims are outcasts from respectability. But God here reverses the judgment of man, and fornicators shall be consigned by the God of righteousness to the lake of fire.

(6) Sorcerers are those who profess involvement with spirits. Death was the appointed penalty under the law for those who practiced spiritualism in those days (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). The lake of fire is God’s appointed doom for all who practice witchcraft, spiritualism, devil worship, and other forms of sorcery.

(7) Idolaters. All worshippers of other gods. The countless millions of heathen in the past, in the present, and notably in the future are, where God has been given up and idols turned to, given over to eternal judgment.

(8) All liars of every degree, kind, and character have their avenging answer in that eternal abode of misery to which everything and every one contrary to the character of God is consigned.

The “lake” burneth. Its fire is never exhausted. “Fire and brimstone” symbolize torment and agony of a fearful character (Isaiah 30:33). The expression “the lake of fire” occurs five times in the Apocalypse. It is remarkable that when the devil and the awful sinners mentioned in our text are in question “fire and brimstone” are added. “Which is the second death.” The first death is the separation of soul and body, but not cessation of existence, nor unconsciousness, as many dream. Luke 16:19-31, which is not said to be a parable, and Revelation 6:9-11 shows consciousness and activity of spirit in the separate state. The lake of fire in its never-ending agony is the second death. There are three lists of sinners which it would be profitable to compare: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15. In the third list the last five named answer to the last five in the passage we have been considering.

The last notice of eternity is the never-ceasing wail of anguish in the lake of fire.

Commentary on Revelation 21:5-8 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 21:5. He that sat upon the throne is the same as was shown in Revelation 20:11. He is the one who created all things that exist, but all the items that were made in the first creation pertaining to the material universe will be replaced with a new order of things that will be eternal, and adapted to the needs and enjoyment of the glorified part of humanity. The pronoun he means the angel who has been John’s companion and exhibitor all through the vision of this book. Having taken a view of these wonderful objects the angel tells John to write the description in his book, and assures him that all that he has seen and heard is true and faithful, which means the vision and the words are a faithful report of the truth.

Revelation 21:6. It is done Is the same thing that was said as reported at Revelation 16:17. The expression signifies that everything planned by the Lord and predicted for the period up to the point at hand has been accomplished. Alpha Psalms 119:160 re the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and the phrase is used symbolically, signifying that Jesus has been connected with all things done by his Father throughout. The same truth is meant by the following phrase, the beginning and the end. I will give, etc. Having completed everthing necessary for the redemption and glorification of man, He is prepared to offer the benefit of the plan to humanity. It will be freely means not only that it is not something that can be purchased with silver and gold, but also that it will be supplied in abundance. Another condition that should be noticed is the offer is made to those who are athirst. The Lord’s favors have always been of a condition (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus said (Matthew 5:6), "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." He also specified in the great invitation to "come unto me" that He meant those who were "heavy laden." There is nothing selfish or arbitrary about this, for only those who sincerely desire the water of life would relish its taste if they even attempted to drink it.

Revelation 21:7. He that overcometh is another of the principles that distinguish the favor of God from what is generally offered by man. It is not to the youngest and successful ones (See Revelation 21:8), for then there would be many worthy people who would lose out, for few if any can be successful when that word is used in its ordinary sense. But the reward is to those who overcome, and 1 John 5:4 states that faith is the means by which we may overcome. That brings the blessings of God within reach of all men since all can have faith whether they are those of one or five talents. Inherit all things logically has to mean the things to which reference has just been made concerning the new creation. Be his God . . . be my son is the same close association that is mentioned and commented upon at Revelation 21:3.

Revelation 21:8. Fearful is from DEMOS, which Thayer defines, "timid, fearful," and he then explains it to denote "Christians who through cowardice give way under persecutions and apostatize [deny their Lord]. This definition or explanation is justified by the next word in the text, namely, believing (See Hebrews 9:27). Abominable is from BDELUSSO, and Thayer’s definition is "to render foul, to cause to be abhorred." It is a word that would have a general meaning, hence the apostle follows up with a number of specifications. Whoremongers areRevelation 21:8 do not merely commit adultery on some specific occasion ( which of itself would be wrong), but who are regular patrons of women whose business is to receive men either for lust or money. Sorcerers is from PHARMAKENS, and Thayer’s lexicon defines it, "one who prepares or uses magical remedies; a sorcerer." It could well be classed with the "dope" trade of our day. Idolaters is defined, "A worshipper of false gods." That is its literal meaning and makes it apply to any conduct where a man shows a perference for something over the true God. Hence Paul declares in Ephesians 5:5 that a covetous man is an idolater. All liars is rendered "liars of all kinds" by Moffatt. That rendering is evidently correct for it would be unnecessary to state that every liar is meant in the sense of not allowing some of them to escape; that would be taken for granted. But it means to include not only those who in the direct sense make Revelation 17:4 statements that are false, but also everyone who says or does anything for the purpose Matthew 23:31-36 faActs 7:52 ession. When Ananias and his wife deposited some money before Peter there is no evidence that they actually said anything about it until Peter forced them to speak. But yet he accused them of lying because they intended to make a false impression upon the apostle. Therefore we should understand that all deliberate attempts to deceive another will be regarded as lies. It can be done even by stating a part of the truth in such a way as to make a false impression. Paul doubtless was thinking of this when he declared he was not "handling the word of God deceitfully" (2 Corinthians 4:2). Have their part. They will not receive any part of the good things that have just been promised to the faithful. Their fate will be to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the place designated by the Greek word GEHENNA. Which is the second death (See Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10) because all mankind are bound to die physically (Hebrews 9:27) on account of the sin of Adam and the wicked will die (be separated) from God for ever and have to remain in this lake of fire away from God. This is the second death.

Commentary on Revelation 21:5-8 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 21:5

And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he saith: Write: for these words are faithful and true.

He that sitteth on the throne said ... God himself is the speaker here, somewhat of a rarity in Revelation.

Behold, I make all things new ... Only God can create anew. "This is a hard blow to proud, humanistic, naturalistic man who believes that he is capable of building a better tomorrow through research, applied technology, etc."[14] Leagues of Nations, United Nations, conferences on human rights, five-year plans, or hundred-year programs are all foredoomed to defeat and frustration. Only God can make new.

And he saith ... Apparently, God also said this.

Write, for the words are faithful and true ... The making of all things new is such a super-colossal conception that John seems to have been completely astounded by it, and needed to be prompted to keep on writing. "The words are faithful and true" seems to carry the thought that no matter how stupendous and impossible such things may appear to people, God will nevertheless certainly create all things new!


[14] James D. Strauss, The Seer, the Saviour, and the Saved (Jopkin, Missouri: College Press, 1972), p. 276.

Revelation 21:6

And he said unto me, They are come to pass I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

And he said unto me ... God continues to speak. Dummelow understood this as a reference to Revelation 21:5.[15] The creation of all things new is here referred to as a past event, by the prophetic tense, showing that it is as certain to happen as if it had already occurred.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, ... "As the book opens, so it closes, with the solemn assurance of the certainty and unchangeableness of God’s eternal promises (Revelation 1:8)."[16]

I will give ... of the water of life ... Roberson compiled a list of the promises in Revelation to those who overcome:[17]

To eat of the tree of life (Revelation 2:7).

Not to be hurt of the second death (Revelation 2:11).

To eat of the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17).

To receive a white stone with a new name (Revelation 2:17).

To have authority over the nations (Revelation 2:26).

To receive the morning star (Revelation 2:26).

To be arrayed in white garments (Revelation 3:5).

Not to have his name blotted out of the book of life (Revelation 3:5).

To have his name confessed before God and the angels (Revelation 3:5).

To be made a pillar in the temple of God (Revelation 3:12).

To have a new name written upon him (Revelation 3:12).

To sit down with God in his throne (Revelation 3:21).

To drink the water of life freely (Revelation 21:7).

To be God’s son and to have God for his God (Revelation 21:7).

[15] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 1090.

[16] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 510.

[17] Charles H. Roberson. Studies in Revelation (Tyler, Texas: P. D. Wilmeth, P.O. Box 3305,1957), p. 200.

Revelation 21:7

He that overcometh shall inherit these things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

He that overcometh shall inherit these things ... See under verse 6, above, for a list of the fourteen promises in Revelation to those who overcome, of which this is the last one. Collectively, they show how rich indeed are the wonderful promises of God for his children. "This amazing paragraph, through Revelation 21:8, is distinctive in that here alone in Revelation, God is represented as the speaker."[18] This is most appropriate, as it deals with a "new creation," something that only God can do.


[18] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 312.

Revelation 21:8

But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.

The fearful ... Who are the fearful, if not all men? "But it is not of natural fear and timidity that John speaks; it is that cowardice which in the last resort chooses self and safety before Christ."[19] "It is not fear which is condemned. The highest courage is to be desperately afraid and in spite of that to do the right thing and to hold fast to loyalty."[20]

And unbelieving ... Unbelief is a gross, unpardonable sin, unless repented of. Unbelief is never a consequence of knowledge, education, intelligence, or "honesty." It is always a child of wickedness. See John 3:19, also article on "The Marvel of Unbelief," my Commentary on John, pp. 176-177, also in my Commentary on Matthew, pp. 207-209.

And abominable ... This is probably a reference, primarily, to participants in the rites of paganism and the unmentionable perversions and debaucheries that attended them. By extension, it also includes all sensualists of all ages.

Murderers ... fornicators ... sorcerers ... These sins have often been commented upon in this series; the principal significance of their appearance here lies in the fact that "God is the speaker!" These are not merely the preacher-prejudices of current religion, but the eternal laws of God against such things.

Idolaters ... and liars ... Idolatry, whether the worship of pagan gods, as in the days of John, or the worship and adoration of self above the God of heaven, can never be pleasing to God. No lie, however small, is a light thing in the eyes of God; and those whose lives are founded upon deceit and falsehood are indeed proscribed.

Fire and brimstone ... the second death ... This refers to the place of consignment for all those things for which God cannot allow any place in heaven.

[19] Leon Morris, Tyndale Bible Commentaries. New Testament, Vol. 20, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), p. 246.

[20] William Barclay, The Revelation of John (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 206.

Commentary on Revelation 21:5-8 by Manly Luscombe

5Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. Some believe this is the Father. I believe the speaker here is the Jesus. Jesus is described in similar language in chapter 1. He is true and faithful. He is the alpha and omega. He is the giver of the water of life. He is God. We will be joint-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) Christians will “overcome.” We have overcome the world, sin, temptation and persecution. The things that are made new will replace the former things. Instead of pain, sorrow, and crying, there will be joy. Instead of death, there will be eternal life. Instead of tears of grief there will be tears of great joy.

8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Those who have not overcome are listed here. Like other lists of sins (Galatians 5:1-26 and Romans 1:1-32) this list is not an exhaustive one. The list is suggestive of the sins for which eternal punishment will be meted out.

This list is a “Who’s Who in Hell”.

1. Cowardly - Those afraid to act

2. Unbelieving - Atheists and others who rejected the gospel

3. Abominable - Sins which are abhorrent to God

4. Murderers - This group includes killers, haters, abortionists and all who take human life on purpose

5. Sexually immoral - All kinds of immoral sexual behavior

6. Sorcerers - Those who had their faith in potions, spells, drugs, psychic readers, taro cards, and superstitions invented by men

7. Idolaters - All who worship and serve things, people, positions, and powers more than they seek to serve Jehovah

8. All liars - All who love or make a lie (Revelation 22:15)

All of these will suffer the same fate as Satan. They will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. For these unbelievers, this will be the second death. They died physically. Now they will die spiritually.

Sermon on Revelation 21:1-8

New Heaven and New Earth

Brent Kercheville

Introducing the New Heaven, New Earth, and New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-2)

The previous chapter has concluded with the image of final judgment. Satan has been thrown into the lake of fire. All the dead are standing before the throne and the books were opened. Those whose names were not written in the book of life were also thrown into the lake of fire, where they along with Satan are tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10; Revelation 20:15). Our context is the end of time when Christ returns and final judgment has occurred. There is nothing in the context to suggest that we are changing the time frame as we read chapter 21.

John now sees a new heaven and new earth because the first heaven and first earth had passed away. We saw the first heaven and earth pass away in Revelation 20:11. The time of this physical earth is completed. It has been burned up (2 Peter 3:10). Now the new heaven and the new earth have been ushered in. John is going to be told what this new heaven and new earth looks like in Revelation 21:3-8. Before we look at the details of this new heaven and earth, it is important to know that this is not the first time this image is used in the scriptures. Isaiah prophesied of this same time of restoration in Isaiah 65:17 and Isaiah 66:22. His description of the new heavens and new earth mirrors what John is going to see in these upcoming verses. Peter also spoke of this coming age.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and theearth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10-13 ESV)

Notice Peter puts the same timeline together that we see in the book of Revelation. The physical heavens and earth are burned up and dissolved. All the works done on the earth are exposed which is the same as the books being opened as all stand before the throne in Revelation 20:12. Once these things are accomplished, Peter says there is a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells. Now the paradise of God has arrived. Now the kingdom of God has been fully consummated as all the enemies have now been put in subjection. The apostle Paul taught that the last enemy to be destroyed in Christ’s kingdom rule is death (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). Revelation 20 concluded with death and Hades being thrown into the lake of fire. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:24 that the end will come after Christ destroys every rule, every authority, and every power. Martin Pickup, in his lecture at the 2011 Florida College Lectureship, taught that imagery of the new heavens and new earth is “a return to the Edenic union of God and His people.”

Revelation 21:1 also reveals that the sea was no more. The sea has a reference to the realm of evil in the book of Revelation (see also Isaiah 57:20). We saw the dragon bring the beast up from the sea (Revelation 13:1), depicting its great evil. Included in this evil is a representation of the mass of humanity (cf. Revelation 20:13). The evil nations and the wickedness of the world have passed away along with the physical heaven and earth.

Notice that Revelation 21:2-8 confirms this understanding that the new heaven and new earth are about the full restoration of God to his people and Christ’s kingdom completing its subjugation of all authorities and powers. Revelation 21:2 shows the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. We saw this imagery of the bride back in Revelation 19:7-8 where we learned that the bride represented the holy people of God and the bright clothing representing the pure and righteous deeds of the saints (cf. Ephesians 5:25-27). More will be described about the bride of Christ in Revelation 21:9 through the rest of chapter 21.

The New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21:3-8)

The apostle Peter said that we are looking forward to the new heaven and new earth. The meaning of this new world shows why we are full of anticipation. Revelation 21:3 tells us that the dwelling place of God is now with humans. God is living with his people. This is what we are looking forward to obtaining. God is dwelling with his people again. Sin ripped man out of the paradise and presence of God for God cannot live with darkness, evil, and sin. Through the victory of Christ on the cross and rule of his kingdom we now can live with the Lord. The scriptures reveal that when we come to Christ we become the people of God and God blesses us. Ephesians 5:25-27 speaks of a current joining of Christ to the church, the people of God. However, we cannot reverse the timeframe of the book at this point. John is seeing what will happen at the conclusion of the final judgment. While the kingdom of Christ was established in Acts 2 and all who accept the invitation of the Lamb participate in that kingdom as John described himself as a fellow partaker in the kingdom (Revelation 1:9), Revelation 21 is picturing the ideal union between Christ and his people. Revelation 21 is picturing the church in its perfected state at the end of the reign of Christ. John is seeing the eternal reward being given to God’s people.

Revelation 21:4 validates our understanding that this is showing the people of God in their future, perfected state receiving the eternal reward at the end of time. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Do not foul up the beautiful imagery given here. Some read this and say that if God is wiping tears that means God’s people are still crying. This is not what this imagery means. The image is that while on the earth these Christians have been suffering. They are full of tears. They are full of pain. They have been persecuted. They have been killed. God wiping tears means that he is giving perfect comfort to his people. Isaiah shows this very point when he speaks of weeping for the destruction of the nation, but then prophesies a time of comfort as God wiping the tears.

Therefore I said: “Look away from me; let me weep bitter tears; do not labor to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people.” (Isaiah 22:4 ESV)

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8 ESV)

Revelation 21:4 continues to show that comfort from life’s sorrows and pains is in view. Death will no longer exist. There will not be mourning or crying. Notice that there will not be crying any longer. The tears that God is wiping are those tears shed during this present heaven and earth. In the new heaven and earth God will comfort his people. There will be no more death, no more mourning, and no more crying. Grief and pain will exist no longer because all of these things have passed away. Christ has been victorious. He has conquered all powers and authorities. Now the people of God are able to rest.

Revelation 21:5 is the language of prophetic certainty. To tell these first century Christians, “Behold, I am making all things new” is a message of encouragement Christ’s kingdom has been established and the process of restoration has begun. The fall of the Jewish nation and the Roman Empire have been necessary steps as the kingdoms of the world are placed in subjection to Christ’s kingdom. The rest of Revelation 21:5 continues this encouraging message. “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” God’s word is true and can be trusted. Christ is reigning on the throne. We are looking forward to this promise, guaranteed by God, that we will receive the eternal blessings and rewards for being faithful to him through grief, crying, pain, suffering, and death.

Christ then declares, “It is done!” The destruction of the enemies and salvation of the saints has been accomplished. This work of destroying the enemies and bringing salvation to the world began at the cross, where Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” Christ again identifies himself as the Alpha and Omega, which are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He also describes himself as the beginning and end. Jesus began the book of Revelation calling himself the Alpha and Omega in Revelation 1:8. Jesus is the first and the last of all things. This title provides assurance that he will give the promised blessings to his redeemed people. The promise is to give to the thirsty from the spring of living water as a gift. Jesus said these words while on the earth.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39 ESV)

The imagery comes from Isaiah 55:1-2. Now salvation and grace are fully received from Christ as the books are opened and the righteous are rewarded for their trust and faithfulness. The victorious will inherit these blessings and inheritance (Revelation 21:7). The inheritance is theirs. By contrast, the second death awaits those who renounce their faith, who are unbelievers, or who engage in the sins of the world. Those who are cowards likely refers to Christians who refused to serve Jesus even to the death. They loved their lives more than they loved the Lord. They feared the persecution and did not maintain their faith. These along with the sinful of the world will all be thrown into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. They will experience eternal separation from God. The faithful are longing for a home with the Lord. The faithful hold on to these promises and will not give them up for anything. The reward to come is worth the sacrifices and the suffering of today.

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:10-11 ESV) (HCSB)

Verses 9-27

Rev 21:9-27


Revelation 21:9-27

9 And he spake with me.--The speaker here was one of the seven angels that poured out the seven plagues. This final appearance of a plague angel indicates that the visions in 17:1 to 22:5 form a continuous revelation that comes under the period covered by the seven plagues. This, of course, puts the millennium before Christ’s personal coming, for the plagues bring us to the judgment. (Revelation 16:17-21.) In this paragraph we have a most graphic description of the final state under the emblem of a glorious city. The vision again mingles the figures--city and wife. See notes on verse 2 and Revelation 19:7. Different figures are sometimes used in close connection to present different features of the same subject. For example, shepherd and door both refer to Christ. (John 10:1-12.) The false church was called a harlot and Babylon (Revelation 17:5-6) ; the true church is then appropriate. represented as a holy city and a true wife.

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high.--In some kind of mental ecstasy John was transported to the mountain and saw the new Jerusalem appear to descend from heaven. This but repeats what is stated in verse 2. That may be a kind of brief introductory expression while verse 10 introduces a detailed description of that city.

11 Having the glory of God.----In the descending city which John saw in the vision there was God’s glory; its light was like a precious stone clear as crystal, dazzling bright. Truly an appropriate appearance for the dwelling place of God.

12 Having a wall great and high; having twelve gates.--A great wall indicates that the eternal city of our God will be securely protected--no enemy can ever touch the redeemed again. Angels at the gates carries the same idea of protection or being safely guarded.Possibly there is here an allusion to the Cherubim and flaming sword that protected the tree of life in Eden.(Genesis 3:24.) "Twelve tribes" taken literally and spiritually include God’s people in different ages.

13 On the east were three gates.--If there is any spiritual significance in placing three gates on each side, it probably indicates that entrance was open to those from all quarters.

14 Twelve foundations.--Expositors have offered different plans for the arrangement of the twelve foundations, but with nothing to support their views except supposition. It is not a question of enough importance to justify speculation. The simple statement is sufficient. The names of the apostles on the foundations agree with Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:20 regarding the church. Occupying a position of authority in the church, it follows that those in the glorified church would be there because of their dependence upon the apostles; or heaven will be peopled with those who have obeyed the apostles, if old enough to be responsible.

15 Had for a measure a golden reed.--He that talked with John was the angel. See verse 9. On the measuring reed see notes on Revelation 11:1. A golden reed corresponds with the grandeur and value of the city. The object of measuring the temple, worship, and worshippers (Revelation 11:1-2) was to enable those in the restoration work to reproduce congregations just as they existed in the apostolic days; here the measurement will show that the eternal city is according to divine plans and spacious enough for all the saved.

16 And the city lieth foursquare.--We should constantly remember that the description we are reading is what John saw in the vision; what it signifies is a different thing. The city which the apostle saw measured was not only foursquare, but was a cube--length, width, and height equal. Again we find commentators disagreed regarding the measurement. All agree that 12,000 furlongs equal 1,500 miles, but the difficulty comes in applying the figures. If the 12,000 furlongs applied to each side of the cube, then the city was 1,500 miles in every direction. But some view the 12,000 furlongs as the distance around the city. If that be correct, then each dimension was 375 miles. In either case, if the city be understood literally, it will be entirely too large to be in Palestine, for the whole country is not that large. That this number should be taken symbolically seems to be unquestionably demanded. Such an enormous city, all beyond human imagination, if taken literally, indicates the ample provisions our God had made for the final home of his obedient children.

17 And he measured the wall thereof.--A wall was necessary to make the vision correspond with cities of that age. It also carries the idea of protection. That would be the significance here unless it is just a part of the symbolic imagery and used only to make the picture harmonious. The whole measurement is in multiples of twelve, which would indicate not only symmetry but perfection. According to the measure of a man evidently means that the reed used was the same length that man would use. Since the vision was for men, the standard measuring lengths had to be used.

18 And the building of the wall thereof.--The wall above the foundations was of jasper--at least, so it appeared to John ; the edifices of the city appeared to be of pure gold, shining with the brilliancy of pure glass. Of course, this description need not be taken literally, but it does show that earth’s richest jewels and most precious metals are but symbols of the richness of God’s provisions for the saved in heaven. What more compelling inducement could be offered to earth’s weary and heavy-laden?

19, 20 The foundations of the wall of the city.--Even the foundations of the wall were adorned with twelve manner of precious stones.

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls.--Among ancients pearls were considered of the highest value among precious stone because their beauty was entirely natural and without effort of art. Each gate appeared to be of one pearl, possibly because so adorned with them that it had the appearance of being one. The street of the city was pure gold. That literal metals could be meant is true, of course, when we remember the infinite power of God. But as the picture that John saw is clearly symbolical, there is no logical need for saying that what he saw were the real metals and stones. It is enough to meet all the demands of emblematic figures to say that they had the appearance of such objects.

22 And I saw no temple therein.--Under the Jewish system the most holy place of the temple was where God met the high priest, as representative of the people; in the Church--the true tabernacle--all are kings and priests and worship God; it is the place where he meets them spiritually. In the heavenly Jerusalem he will meet the saved personally; there will be no special place for a tabernacle, for the whole city will be the temple; or, in another view, God and the Lamb will be the temple. In 7:15 it says that in the final state we will "serve him day and night in his temple." There is no conflict here, for the presence of God throughout the city makes a temple of it. The most holy place of the Jewish temple was a cube. The holy city being in the same form may suggest the idea that it is temple. The presence of God and the Lamb is further justification for saying that the whole city will be a temple.

23 And the city hath no need of the sun.--Ordinary cities known to men must have lights both natural and artificial. Not so will it be in the new Jerusalem. The glory of God and the presence of the Christ will be all the light needed.

24 And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof.--Evidently this means that the saved from all nations will be in that city. That is clear from the answer to the question as to who will be there. See Revelation 7:13-15. The prophet said that all nations would flow into the mountain of the Lord’s house. (Isaiah 2:2.) The redeemed will come from all nations, but in heaven will be spiritual beings with all national distinctions blotted out. To carry out the same figure kings--the rulers of nations--will bring their honor into it. They will not there be acting as kings, but rather will themselves become subjects to God and give him all the glory that once they received.

25 And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut.--Ancient cities shut their gates by night and opened them by day. In God’s eternal city there will be no night, for the glory of God and Christ will give it perpetual light. The open gate is another emblem of security. The closed gate with a guard indicates protection, but the gate open continually shows that nothing harmful will enter.

26 This verse is a repetition of the thought of verse 24.

27 And there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean. --This verse is substantially the same in thought as verse 8 with the additional statement that none can enter except those written in the "Lamb’s book of life." This is both inclusive and exclusive---encouraging the faithful by the fact that no wicked can enter. Those who desire to enter must be righteous ; in heaven they will be free from vexations due to the sins of men.

Commentary on Revelation 21:9-27 by Foy E. Wallace

(3) The description of the massive dimensions of the great city, the holy new Jerusalem—Revelation 21:9-17.

The original designation for Jerusalem was the name Salem, mentioned Psalms 76:2, and it meant the possession of peace, or the inheritance of peace. It was the most important city of biblical history, and the most sacred and the most desecrated of the whole world. The Psalmist of Israel sang its praises; but Christ the Saviour wept tears of sorrow over its apostasies, unfaithfulness and approaching desolation. (Matthew 23:37-38)

The Jerusalem of the time of Christ and the apostles and people of the New Testament lies buried beneath the ruins of the succeeding centuries; and the Jerusalem which was the city of David is buried far deeper below the surface of modern Jerusalem. In the fifteen centuries of its existence from its first appearance in Old Testament history until its destruction in A. D. 70 it had been besieged some fifteen or twenty times, was twice razed and burned, and twice its walls were crumbled by enemy attacks. There is not the slightest feature remaining today of its ancient glory.

Under Solomon the city of David attained its highest fame and greatest grandeur, as the result of the wise king’s accomplishments of the building of the magnificent temple and royal palace, and the extension and strengthening of its massive walls. With a vast army of skilled craftsmen the enormous workmanship that entered into its erection was completed, and the venerated temple with its splendorous sanctuary was dedicated within seven and one-half years. This was in wide contrast with the gradual work on Herod’s temple, standing in the time of Christ, which required “forty and six years” to complete. (John 2:20) It was in king Solomon’s reign, due to these accomplishments, that Jerusalem became the one central place of all the world for the true worship of God. It was the Mecca of the Jews, the holy city, and whether near or far, at home or in foreign land, the devoted Jew prayed with his face toward Jerusalem.

Captured by the Roman Pompey in B. C. 63, the land of the Jews was again subjugated and became a province of the Caesars. Approximately twenty years later, B. C. 40, the city fell to the Parthians, under Antigonus; but only one year later Herod the Great laid siege to the city, and supported by the Roman army the citadel and the temple were recaptured by storm; and Herod was afterward made king of Judea by the Romans. He at once improved and beautified the city, and initiated the enlargement and refurbishing of the temple without and within, requiring the period of forty-six years as mentioned in the gospel record of John. Under the rule of Herod the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple approximated their ancient magnificence.

The Jerusalem of the New Testament times stood with all the imposing grandeur and strength to which it had been brought by Herod through nearly a half-century of workmanship, with all of its multiple walls and structures. It was after the death of Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, that the province of Judea was again ruled by oppressive provincial Roman procurators, and Jerusalem became the ground for the scenes of discontent, violent insurrections and political rebellion. It is no wonder that her apostasies and abominations should become the object of the Patmos visions to signify the Harlot; and it is not strange that the once holy city should be the type of the New Jerusalem, the Bride and church of Christ the Lamb.

With this excursion we return to the apocalyptic description of the GreatCity, the Holy New Jerusalem, which begins with verse nine of chapter twenty-one.

This vision of the Holy City was in contrast with the vision of Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth of chapter seventeen. There one of the angels of judgment showed John the Harlot City (the old Jerusalem) which had become the mother of the abominations of the earth (Palestine) by her many apostasies; as lamented by Jesus Christ himself in the twenty-third and the twenty-fourth chapters of Matthew.

In the vision of chapter twenty-one, now under consideration, the same angels showed John the Holy City. They were hitherto the executioners of divine wrath and judgment; but here they were the administrators of divine love and reward. In comparison, the angels in the two chapters (17 and 21) used the same identification in the language describing their functions, but for a different mission. In chapters seventeen to nineteen these angels were on the mission of pronouncing judgment upon the Harlot Woman; but in chapter twenty-one the mission of the same angels was to exhibit the Holy City, the Bride.

It was appropriate that the angels pronouncing the doom on the old Jerusalem of Judaism should also announce the blessings of triumph awaiting the New Jerusalem Bride. The chapter is a continuation of the vial-angel visions, culminating in the glorious success of the church in the heathen world.

1. Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wifeRevelation 21:9. This beckoning of the angel is another proof, among the many others in the contexts of these chapters, that the descriptions of the holy city were not visions of heaven the home of the soul, but of the glorious church of Christ, designated the bride and the wife of the Lamb, redeemed from tribulation, but yet to fulfill her divine mission on the earth.

2. And he carried me away in the spirit unto a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God—Revelation 21:10.

The phrase in the spirit here is the same expression as that used in Revelation 1:10 and it did not refer to the Holy Spirit in either of the passages, but rather indicated the visional rapture in which John was shown these things. It was in the spirit--his own spirit--that he was carried away to the place where these things were unfolded to him in vision.

The visional point to which he was carried was a great and high mountain. This apocalyptic panorama was a part of the imagery of the exaltation of the Jerusalem Bride. The same metaphorical language was used by Isaiah in a prophetic description of the pre-eminence of the church in its spiritual elevation above the level of all institutions of men. “The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” (Isaiah 2:2) In the same figurative character and language, John was carried in spirit to the mountain. It was not a mere mountain upon which the church was to be established in Isaiah’s prophecy, but in the top of the mountains; and it is altogether fitting that John should be transported in spirit to a great and high mountain to be shown the grandeur and glory of the triumphant church.

From this eminent visional peak John saw the holy Jerusalem descending. It was designated the holy Jerusalem in contrast with the harlot Jerusalem. No greater or more impressive attributive title could have been ascribed to the Bride of Christ than that of the Holy City Jerusalem.

In this vision of elevation the entranced Seer saw that great city descending--it had not already descended, the events were yet in process, but the end was in sight. It was about to be the culmination of the entire apocalypse.

The Holy City was descending out of heaven from God-- that is, the visional emergence of the Woman from that place prepared of God mentioned in Revelation 12:6, and compared with Matthew 24:16 in the comments in chapter twelve on these two related passages. The holy city, the church, was seen descending from God--that is, from the place prepared of God where God had protected her and preserved her in that period of tribulation. Upon the lofty mountain height, from a position where the Seer could descry the distant descent of the marvellous City, as if to discover by the eye an object at far focus and observe its approach, this vision of the New Jerusalem was unfolded to the revelator.

3. Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystalRevelation 21:11.

The attribute of glory here ascribed to the holy church in descent was an allusion to the cloud of glory that covered and filled the tabernacle at its completion-- the Shekinah, that divine manifestation through which God’s presence was made known. The light of the City was like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. In Revelation 4:3 the One on the throne had this appearance of crystal jasper; so the vision here is that the Holy City represented the resplendent glory of God Himself, as Paul affirmed of the church in Ephesians 3:21 : “Unto him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end.”

The force of this descriptive attribute of the Holy City was the ultimate in glory and grandeur. The ancient crystal jasper was pellucid in its transparency and diaphonous in its translucency. As the sun is the luminary of the heavens, the glory of God Himself illumined this descending Holy City, the New Jerusalem church, with the divine effulgence of his presence.

4. And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. . . . And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb—Revelation 21:12-14.

The great wall of this vision was symbolic of security, and represented the protection from all the foes by which the church has been assailed; and which had assured them of the complete victory that was here envisioned. The massive walls with the huge gates were necessary to the ancient cities. Upon the outer wall of ancient Babylon three horse-drawn chariots could drive abreast; in the walls were twenty-five great brass gates; and upon the walls were two hundred fifty gigantic towers for the guard of watchmen.

Jerusalem had twelve gates in its wall, with the gateman at each station, and the watchmen in its towers. In this mountain-top vision the wall of the Great City had twelve gates; and at these gates twelve angels at guard. It was the symbol of the continued success of the cause of Christ, the security from all past hazards of persecution, and the freedom from the assaults from the dragon-beast as the personification of Satan in the imperial persecutors.

The word gates has been rendered portals, which in the singular means the door of a gate; or in the plural, the portal of a city. The numeral twelve as applied here, and in Matthew 19:28 to the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles, represented completeness, the whole church, joining the old and the new in type and antitype. The twelve gates and the twelve foundations, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb, were the emblems of God’s people as a whole in the old and new testaments. It symbolized the full and complete plan of God envisioned in the perfection of the church as the product of all divine revelation through the prophets of Israel and the apostles of Christ.

The vision further described the City as having three gates on each side--twelve gates. The eye-witness historian, Josephus, described the old Jerusalem as having three gates on four sides (B J 5, 4, 2). The vision taken together with the twelve foundations bearing the tribal and apostolic names represented, as previously explained, the two economies of the old and the new testaments having been completed in the church as the whole people of God, which fulfilled the purpose of God in the redemption of mankind, brought together in the figure of the one new man (Ephesians 2:14-16)--the church. The New Jerusalem with its twelve walls and twelve gates and twelve foundations was here envisioned as the embodiment of the divine unity of all revelation. The teaching of the twelve apostles uphold and support the church, which in the vision was so guarded by the twelve angels as to keep it aware of all error and that the forces of the hadean world could never prevail against it.

5. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof—Revelation 21:15.

The measuring rod in the hand of the angel was a reed of gold, which was symbolic of the divinity of that which was to be measured--the city was divine. The city had perfect quadrangular dimensions--it was foursquare.

The word “foursquare” was a Greek term used to denote perfection in any form. The immensity of the Holy City was signified by the mathematical figure of twelve thousand furlongs, or approximately fifteen hundred cubic miles, expressed in the words of the text: The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. It has been calculated that the measure of the twelve thousand furlongs in English miles computed 1378.97 exact English miles-- the figure having been reckoned by a biblical commentator of England. Whether exactly or approximately it was the symbolism, first of the spiritual perfection of the church and, second, of its universality--that it was destined to fill the whole earth. The prophet declared (Isaiah 11:9) that the knowledge of God would cover the earth; and Jesus said in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:5) that his disciples would inherit the earth--that is, fill the whole earth with his teaching. That has ever been and shall ever be the mission of his church, and that purpose was symbolized in the descriptions of the New Jerusalem.

The measurement of the wall of the Holy City was said, in Matthew 5:5, to be according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. The stadia of the angel was “after the manner of a man”--no different from that of a man and within human understanding, though it was of the angel. The angel had used man’s standard of measurement, but it was symbolically, not literally, applied. It meant that the stadia employed by the angel was on a scale of measurement that was not unknown to man. The literal view of these measurements as being descriptive of the exact plan and size of the New Jerusalem as a city would destroy the sublimity of the apocalyptic picture and pervert the symbolism of the vision. In the comparison of the dimensions of the city and the wall surrounding it, the vision represented that the eminences within the wall of the New Jerusalem were so lofty that its highest summits and pinnacles were as many furlongs above the base of the wall as the length of the wall itself. The vision was symbolical of great and grand magnificence. To the eye of John from the summit ranges, floating down from God, was a view of splendor the magnitude of which was indescribable. But the figurative description, “according to the measure of a man,” was not grotesque or disproportioned. God was the architect and builder of the Holy City (Psalms 12:1-8’7:1); which was the manifestation of his divine wisdom, as a building exhibits the skill of its designer (Ephesians 3:10-11; Ephesians 3:21); and in it his own glory will be exhibited through time and in eternity “world without end.” In the symbolism of the New Jerusalem’s dimensions was signified that it is the will of God that the church should include the whole multitude of the saved--its entire aggregation.

(4) The indescribable grandeur and magnificence of the new Jerusalem—Revelation 21:18-21.

It would be impractical, if not entirely futile and frustrating, to attempt a descriptive application of each precious stone which decorated the Holy City. There is no singular meaning or definition that can be imparted to these jewels of adornment, but altogether the enumeration of all existing precious stones presented a vision so exquisite in the extreme as to exceed all human imagination or contemplation.

The sublime apocalypse portrayed the New Jerusalem as being the church of the firstborn ones (Hebrews 12:22-23), the citizens of which have their names inscribed in the registry of heaven. Its citizenry consisted in a kind of firstfruits of all of God’s creatures (James 1:18)--they are his choice creation. Its structure was itself constructed of pure gold; its streetway, or passage system, was the same as of the city--of solid gold, and transparent. The expression pure gold means unalloyed, without the comparative carats in weight or measure or degree of content; but in purity no mixture or alloy. The eye of man has discovered and discerned pure gold, but no man has ever seen transparent gold, a description that adds visional resplendence to the delineations.

The portals of the City were composed of pure pearls, each gate consisting of one solid pearl; and its twelve foundations were garnished with twelve rare jewels of glistening beauty, which in the order from one to twelve were: jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, an emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth and an amethyst. With vast clusters of edifices within the high wall the super-structure of the City was embellished by whatever materials were known to man to be the most estimable and resplendent of earth’s treasures--and these all were adapted to enhance the glorious majesty of the New Jerusalem, the Lamb’s Bride--the church of Christ.

(5) The constituent spiritual characteristics of the glorious new Jerusalem—Revelation 21:22-27.

According to Webster the word constituent is indicative of elements that form, or compose, or make up an existing thing; and characteristic is defined as distinctive, or serving to constitute the character of anything. On the high mountain outlook the vision not only exhibited to John the outward glories of the Holy City but displayed also the inward spiritual peculiarities of the City of the Lamb. In it there was no temple (Revelation 21:22), for there was no veil between God and the Redeemed, as in the temple that had been taken away (Matthew 27:51); and because the church itself is the temple of God. (Ephesians 2:21; Revelation 7:15) The old temple had been a type of the new, and there was no place in the vision for a symbol of that which had passed away.

And there was no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it (Revelation 7:15), for God was the light and Christ was the lamp of the New Jerusalem, which had emerged from the darkness of tribulation into the light of deliverance and redemption. Here the same figure was utilized that was used by the prophet in a similar description of Israel’s return from the Babylonian exile: “The sun shall no more be thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. The sun shall no more go down; neither shall the moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended”-- Isaiah 60:19-20.

Even the casual reader, if not biased by a continuous-history theory, can discern the similarity between these passages and the Revelation descriptions. The prophet Isaiah foretold the deliverance of Israel from exile nearly two hundred years before its occurrence, and he adapted the same figures to describe their restoration to their land that the Seer of Revelation applied to the emergence of the church from the tribulation period.

As of restored Israel in their own land again, so of the New Jerusalem--the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. These are the figures for the source of all spiritual knowledge and illumination in the City of the Lamb; there can be no alternation of light and darkness; no mixture of truth and error; for God is the source of the light of truth reflected through Christ in the church. The apostle of the Hebrew epistle (Hebrews 1:3) affirmed this vital truth in the reference to this Father and Son relation: “Who being the brightness (effulgence) of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” It was this presence of God and of Christ in the New Jerusalem that would be its sun, its moon and its light.

In the order of both prophecy and apocalypse the old temple had been destroyed, and its furnishings were no longer recognized. The new temple, the church itself, had no such temporal structure and physical adornment as that which had featured the old; for the old rites were gone with the old city and its temple which had passed away-- and Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which represented the church of the Lamb, was spiritual only and was the new “habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).

This spiritual light of the Holy City would extend to the whole world of darkness: the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it—Revelation 21:24. This part of the vision represented the saved as having come from all nations, that the Jew and Gentile together should walk in the light of the gospel.

The language has its counterpart in the descriptions of Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2-5; and Isaiah 62:1-2) which were the prophecies of the new Jerusalem of the new covenant which would include all nations. The prophet said: “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This prophecy was made by Isaiah in connection with the establishment of the new institution on the top of the mountains, and the promulgation of the new law from Jerusalem. It is the same imagery in Revelation 21:4 of this vision: “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.” In the prophecy of Isaiah 62:1-4, the prophet declared that “the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory.” And in this vision the Seer said: “And the kings of the earth do bring glory and honor into it.” It was the vision of all nations yielding to the influence of the gospel, as if the kings of the nations had brought the glory of their crowns and scepters and treasures into the kingdom of God and of Christ by the conversion of the people of the whole world. The vision here is the extension of Revelation 11:15 : The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ. All of these verses and visions referred to the universal expansion of Christianity in the spread of the gospel over all the world.

In verses Revelation 21:25-26 the vision represented the gates of city as being always open: for there shall be no night there. The gates of the ancient cities were closed at night, and there was no admission to strangers without the city. But the gates of New Jerusalem should not be shut at all by day, therefore entrance to the city was always accessible. The vision was based on the destruction of the beasts of persecution which had been cast into the brimstone lake, and there were no enemies remaining to threaten the citizenry of the city. In the period of persecution the church had been hindered in the propagation and the proclamation of the gospel, but the night of tribulation had ended. The figure was related to the motion of the globe in orbit; its diurnal revolution causes the daily and annual changes in the sun which produce the alternation of light and darkness. But spiritually there would be no such rotation, for the night of the tribulation had come to end; there was no longer the hindering power of the heathen persecutors in the spreading of the light of the gospel--the darkness had been dispelled and the day had dawned for the church. It can be seen again that the literal application of these figures of speech would demolish the beauty of the vision as well as its truth in the spiritual application of the symbols.

In Revelation 21:26 the Seer saw the Gentile world entering into thechurch through its open gates under the world-wide commission: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations; and, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15) And the stipulated terms upon which men of all nations should enter into the spiritual refuge of the city of the Lamb are included in the commands of the commission itself: He that believeth (the gospel) and is baptized shall be saved; and, Baptizing them in (into) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Spirit).

The vision represented the inclusion of the nations among the blessed saved in the church. The glory and honor of the nations, of Revelation 21:26, as in Revelation 21:24, referred to the conversion and Christianization of the heathen world. The fact that the vision represented that these kings would still be kings is yet another indication that it was not a vision of heaven. It meant that the heathen would find their way out of the darkness of paganism into the light of Christianity under the sway of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The New Jerusalem would co-exist with the nations as “all nations flow unto it”; and accept Him who came to fulfill “the desire of all nations” (Haggai 2:7) for the glory of God. The kings of the earth contributed to His glory in the conversion of the people of their nations to the Christ of this apocalypse.

The pristine purity of the church of the Lamb was pictured in Revelation 21:27 : And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

These terms and phrases and words describe the whole category of the moral and spiritual corruption of heathendom. The first chapter of Romans is an inspired commentary on the depths of degradation into which the heathen world had sunken by these practices because, said Paul, “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” But these impurities of heathenism could gain no admission or entrance into the realm of the Lamb’s Bride. The defiled could not enter, because the gospel removed all moral defilement. The paganistic abominations could not enter, for the gospel separated from all heathen idolatry. The deceivers who by making a lie had seduced the inhabitants of the earth into emperor-worship could not enter, for the gospel destroyed the doctrines of antichrist. Wherefore, only they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life-- whose names were entered into the registry of the New Jerusalem by “doing his commandments” could “enter in through the gates into the city.”

Commentary on Revelation 21:9-27 by Walter Scott




The history of the race and of the ways of God with men is finally closed. The first eight verses of our chapter present some of the characteristics of the unchanging state, both in positive and negative statements, the latter more especially. The eternal blessing of the saved and the eternal doom of the wicked are set in sharp contrast. In the eternal state all is fixed. God Himself has irrevocably settled the condition of every human being. The volume of history is closed. In the scene just described the Lamb is not once named nor witnessed. God is all. God in the activity of His nature brings about an eternal calm and a deep profound sense of holy repose.

Righteousness dwells in the everlasting regions made new. But in the millennial kingdom Christ as Lamb of God and Son of Man arrests the gaze and captivates the heart. It is the shining forth of His glory. It is the sceptre in His hand. It is many diadems on His head. It is the overwhelming splendour of His reign. It is the munificent blessings He scatters in blest profusion throughout the earth. It is Christ thus and in a thousand other and varied ways and actions which makes the millennial state so magnificently grand. It is the Lord Jesus taking up the broken threads of history and weaving them all into a perfect whole. Neither Adam, Moses, Solomon, Israel, nor the Church has maintained the testimony committed to them. Every steward of grace, law, or government has proved unfaithful; every vessel of testimony has broken down. But it will be seen in the millennial kingdom that Christ, the vessel of God’s glory, is the only ONE Who has ever been faithful. He receives the kingdom from God (Luke 19:12), and after its administration for a thousand years He delivers it up to God (1 Corinthians 15:24), not only in the perfection in which it was received, but in enhanced glory.

The Church is the result of God’s counsel in eternity and of His creation in time. The Church is both millennial and eternal in destiny (Ephesians 3:21), and essentially heavenly in character. The Church, next to God and to the Lamb, is the most distinguished object both in the eternal and millennial states. The Church is the bride and wife of the Lamb, and is displayed as such when Christ takes His throne and reigns. She shares His glory and throne. Her relationship as wife is an eternal one (Revelation 21:2). But in the eternal state the relation of the Church and saints to God as His tabernacle is the prominent thought in the first eight verses of the chapter. In it He dwells. The eternal state is, of course, the more profound of the two.


Revelation 21:9-10And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke with me, saying, Come here, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in (the) Spirit, (and set me) on a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of the Heaven from God. After a passing allusion to the millennial reign of Christ and His heavenly saints (Revelation 20:4-6) we are brought back from the consideration of the eternal state to a lengthened description of the bride, the Lamb’s wife, in her millennial relation to Israel and to the world at large. In this, the last prophetic section of the book, we see the true union of Church and state. The turning back to fill in the details of the general statement contained in Revelation 20:4-6 is by no means an arbitrary arrangement. We have several examples of a similar character in previous parts of the book. Besides, let our readers trace the sequence of events from the fall of Babylon celebrated in Heaven (Revelation 19:1-21; see Revelation 19:1-3) on till the eternal state (Revelation 21:1-27; esp. Revelation 21:1-8), and further carefully examine those eight verses, comparing them with what is said of the millennial state of things, and we are satisfied that they will see the suitability and scriptural arrangement thus indicated.

The place of the Church in her millennial association with Christ is not only in accordance with the purpose of God (Ephesians 1:22-23), but is His answer to her reproach and contemptuous treatment on earth.

We have no angelic ministrations in the scene of eternity; here they are prominent. It is one of the Vial angels who shows the bride to John, as it was one of the same angels who showed him the harlot and her doom (compare Revelation 17:1-3 with Revelation 21:9-10). The bride and the harlot are also respectively spoken of as a city, the former as Jerusalem, the latter as Babylon. It must be borne in mind, however, that the term city in this connection is but a symbol. Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-27) and Babylon (Revelation 17:1-18) respectively represent a religious body of persons. The idea of city conveys the thought of an organised system of social life and activity of government, of united interests, of mutual goodwill; this and more characterize the church city of millennial and eternal days.

From Revelation 21:9 we gather that there are two indispensable conditions ere one is competent to view things or objects as God presents them. John was carried away in the Spirit and set on “a great and high mountain.” His natural powers were held in abeyance while dominated and controlled by the Spirit. Then the point of view must be in keeping with the grand sight. Similarly the Spirit, and not the natural mind, was the supernatural power and capacity by which he beheld the harlot according to the thoughts of God, and most fittingly in a wilderness, for while decked out in the world’s tinsel and glory it was all a desert to God, and, of course, to every spiritual mind (compare with Revelation 4:1-2).

What the Seer beheld was “the holy city, Jerusalem, (“Jerusalem” simply, the epithet new is added when the eternal state is in question (Revelation 21:2).) coming down out of the Heaven from God.” Twice she is said to come down. Her first descent (Revelation 21:9) is to tabernacle over the earth, her second to the new earth (Revelation 21:2-3), a thousand years subsequently. She comes from “the Heaven,” her home, and “from God,” the source of her being and happiness.


Revelation 21:11Having the glory of God. What in Romans 5:2 is presented as a matter of hope has here become a reality. What God can communicate of moral and external glory is beheld covering the city. She is not only the vessel of God’s glory, but is the reflector of it to the world. The city bride as a glorious canopy of light and unfading beauty and brightness over the millennial scene will be the grandest sight ever beheld, and will continue to elicit for a thousand years the admiration of the world. In a lesser degree Israel will reflect the glory of Jehovah to the surrounding nations and peoples (Isaiah 60:1-22). The Church will be a bright witness of God’s glory and moral likeness.


Revelation 21:11 — “Her light (Light shining, or luminary, is only elsewhere employed in the New Testament and that to set forth the Church as a light-bearer in this world (Philippians 2:15).) (was) like a most precious stone, as a crystal-like jasper stone. In the glory of God the city shines, that glory is her light. The harlot shone in the glory of man. The bride stands out in the glory of God. In herself she is destitute of beauty. She shines only in the glory of Another. Her shining, or light, is compared to “a crystal-like jasper stone.”

Amongst precious stones the jasper and sardius are remarkable for their brilliancy. These hard and indestructible gems are fit emblems of incorruption in the glorified state (1 Corinthians 15:50). The blue “wavy colors of the rainbow” in the one, and the red of the other, are flashed out in wondrous beauty. Both stones are employed to set forth the glory and majesty of God on His throne (Revelation 4:3). The jasper is solid, transparent, and brilliant as crystal, which is a native production. (See remarks on Revelation 4:2, and on Revelation 21:14 for further remarks on these precious stones; also on Revelation 4:6, on the distinction between glass and crystal symbolically employed.) There are three lists of precious stones which respectively set forth the communicable glory of God: In creation (Ezekiel 28:13), in which the jasper is named sixth in the list; in grace (Exodus 28:17-20), the jasper is last mentioned; in government (Revelation 21:19-20), the jasper is first named. The jasper is also mentioned three times in the detailed description of the heavenly city; first, as her light (Revelation 21:11); second, as her security (Revelation 21:18); third, as the first foundation of the wall (Revelation 21:19). Thus the glory of God is the light, the security, and the foundation of the glorified Church.


Revelation 21:12. — Having a great and high wall. The wall is a solid, massive, and brilliant structure. It is made of jasper (Revelation 21:18). It cannot, therefore, be broken down, nor can it be scaled, as its height forbids — 144 cubits, or 216 feet (Revelation 21:17). The wall round about the city, enclosing it on all sides, denotes the most ample security (Isaiah 26:1; Zechariah 2:5). It guards and separates God’s glory; guards the city and separates it from all outside. God Himself is the defense and safety of His Church. He stands between it and every hostile power, moral and physical.

The glorious wall which reflects the splendor of the city inside, telling of divine protection and absolute safety, reposes on twelve foundations (Revelation 21:19-20), each foundation being one stone, solid, immense, and precious. Each foundation stone is of rarest value, of priceless worth, of incomparable beauty, and of unfading lustre; the twelve together forming a magnificent combination of varied and brilliant hue and tint. No building on earth can be for a moment compared to this for weight, size, and splendor. “The Builder and Maker is God.” The great and high wall not only bespeaks the security of those within, but guards the city from the intrusion of those without (Revelation 21:27).


Revelation 21:12Having twelve gates. The administrative number twelve enters largely into this description. Thus there are twelve gates, twelve angels, twelve names of Israel, twelve names of the apostles, twelve foundations, twelve pearls, while the measurements of the wall and city are multiples of twelve. The millennial Jerusalem on earth has its twelve gates (Ezekiel 48:31-34). Twelve signifies the perfection of government on or towards the earth. No symbolic or other numbers are spoken of in any reference to the eternal state, because earthly government, as such, is then over. Righteousness dwells, not reigns. On the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes, and at the gates stand twelve angels (Revelation 21:12). The administration of Israel proceeds from the heavenly city, and this, we judge, will be in the hands of the Lord’s twelve apostles — the fulfilment of Matthew 19:28, “Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This they will do from their seat and place on high. The saints in general shall judge the world and angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3), but the judgment of Israel seems special and apostolic. The angels at the gates, but not inside, are servants in waiting. The perfection of angelic position is to serve. In the old economy the angels were the administrators; here it is the glorified saints (Hebrews 2:5). The angels are stationed at the gates so as to carry out the behests issued from the city. The gate was the place of public assembly. As to the location of the gates, east, north, south, and west (v. 13), the east is first named in the enumeration of the tribes surrounding the tabernacle; while in Ezekiel 48:1-35, in the millennial arrangement of the tribes, the north is first mentioned. Dan, from whom it is thought that the Antichrist will proceed, is omitted in the sealing of the tribes for millennial preservation (Revelation 7:1-17), is, however, first named of the tribes when the land is parceled out (Ezekiel 48:1-2); but while the idolatrous Dan is remembered in grace, yet he is farthest off from the millennial temple. The order in which the seed of Israel is restored is east, west, north, and south (Isaiah 43:5-6). The specification in our chapter does not agree with any of the foregoing. There are no doubt divine reasons for these variations of the geographical locations in the different passages.


Revelation 21:21The twelve gates (were) twelve pearls, every several gate was of one pearl. The pearl denotes unity, purity, beauty, and preciousness. Those gates of pearl remind us of the Lord’s thoughts of love and beauty towards the Church. The cost of the one beautiful pearl of great value (Matthew 13:45-46) is beyond all telling. The Lord sold all that He had and bought it. But the pearl must have a setting worthy of its value, and so the gates of pearl are enclosed in the jasper wall, emblematic of the divine glory. They are also set in the four sides of the wall, so that in all parts of the earth the beauty of the Church will attract the gaze and win the admiration of the world. Its “gates shall not be shut at all by day, for night shall not be there” (Revelation 21:25). The ever-opened gates speak of perfect freedom. (The gates always open and facing the four quarters of the earth would also intimate direct relations between the heavens and the earth, between the heavenly and the earthly Jerusalem. It is not said of any of the heavenly saints that they shall stand on the earth in millennial times, but that is not necessary; they may go to it without actually placing their feet upon its defiled surface.) It is usual to close the gates of a city at night lest an enemy steal a march unawares. But the gates of the heavenly city are never closed, for night’s shadows never rest upon it.


Revelation 21:14. — The wall of the city had twelve foundations. These are enumerated in verses 19 and 20. Each one of these stones is of vast size, of marvelous solidity, and of surpassing splendor. On the gates are the names of the tribes, while on the foundations are the names of the apostles. This latter fact recalls to mind the words of the apostle, “built upon the foundation of the apostles” (Ephesians 2:20). Both the gates and foundations have the administrative number twelve. In the structure of the city the apostles are named. Israel has no part in this. But in the power and governmental actions of the city going out through the gates Israel is prominent. “The roads leading from a city are not called after the city itself, but after the places (Thus in modern Jerusalem the west gate is the Jaffa gate, though Jaffa is forty miles away; the north gate the Damascus gate, though Damascus is one hundred miles away. No doubt these gates, through the attendant angels, did administrating with the tribes whose names they bear.) to which they lead, and often the gates are named in the same manner, so it is here. The city is in communication with Israel, as those who rule with Christ must be, but it is distinct from Israel, and built on a foundation which exclusively characterises the Church.” (“The Lord’s Coming, Israel, and the Church,” p. 289. — T. B. Baines.)

The foundations were garnished, or adorned, with precious stones (Revelation 21:19), the same words used to describe the bride made ready for her husband (Revelation 21:2). Bengel justly remarks: “Not only did each precious stone form an ornament in the foundation, but it constituted the foundation itself.” Each of the twelve foundation stones reflected some particular aspect of the divine glory. Combined they present God in the glory of His nature and Being, as constituting one foundation of incomparable strength and grandeur. One stands amazed at the moral truth conveyed: God Himself in the greatness and diversified glory of His Being, the foundation of the Church in the blessed day about to dawn. There is but one stone used in the building of the wall, jasper, probably the most valuable and brilliant of all. The jasper is the first foundation stone. “The color of the sapphire, which is the second foundation, is a pure blue or deep azure; the third, chalcedony, is a grey color, with purple, blue, and yellow; the fourth, the emerald, is green. This was the appearance of the rainbow which John saw around the throne of God. It is a fit emblem of the peace and benignity of the saving grace of God. The fifth is sardonyx, it is bluish white, or it is the onyx, with red veins, called the sardonyx, as if it were a mixture of the sardius and onyx. The sixth, sardius, is blood red; the seventh, chrysolite, blood green or golden color; the eighth, the beryl, transparent, bluish green; the ninth, the topaz, a pale green or golden color; the tenth, chrysoprasus, of bluish hue, a beautiful green mingled with yellow; the eleventh, a jacinth, violet or red with a mixture of yellow; twelfth, amethyst, of purple color, or a mixture of strong blue and deep red. (“The Cherubim and the Apocalypse,” p. 385. — Alexander Macleod.) These massive stones of divers colors sustain the wall. Thus are portrayed the varied glories of God throughout.


Revelation 21:15. — And he that spoke with me had a golden reed (as) a measure, that he might measure the city and its gates, and its wall. In Revelation 11:1-2 the temple, altar, and worshippers (all on earth) are measured, signifying that they are His, they belong to God. But here the measuring of the heavenly city is above. In the former the Seer measured; in our text the angel measures. The measuring reeds, too, are different. The millennial Jerusalem on earth with its temple, courts, etc., is measured with a line of flax (Ezekiel 40:3). The city of gold is fittingly measured with a golden reed.

The city, wall, and gates were to be measured, but the result as to the latter is not stated, only that of the city and wall. The gold signifies divine righteousness, as the jasper divine glory. What the gold is amongst metals, the most valuable, so is the jasper amongst stones the most precious. The city measured by the standard of divine righteousness answers to it. It is a cube showing its perfectness on all sides, four-square. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. In whichever way it is viewed it is perfect and complete. The unity, perfection, and divine symmetry of the Church in glory are assured. Every part is perfect, all is harmony. One has said, “It is described as being a cube, and thus presenting a square in every direction. And by this is signified that it is the ne plus ultra of perfection in the symmetry of its construction.” The measurement of the city, “twelve thousand furlongs” — 1500 miles — in length, breadth, and height, is of such vast dimensions that in size and peculiarity of structure it leaves every earthly city far, far behind. “It is alike vast and perfect, and all measured and owned of God.” The wall is measured separately, but its size is quite disproportionate to that of the city (Revelation 21:17); that we can understand: it is “a man’s measure.” The wall of jasper, signifying the divine glory as the defense of the city, does not need to be of gigantic size.


Revelation 21:18. — The city was pure gold like unto pure glass. The city itself is the display of divine righteousness. We have divine righteousness now in our complete justification; it is also wrought in us so that the new nature may practically express it in a scene of contrariety, but the city itself, from its center to its circumference and utmost bounds, is all “pure gold,” transparent, too, like “pure glass.” The Church, not angels, is the answer to the divine nature. All is according to Him in righteous character. In the eternal earth righteousness dwells, but the Church itself is that — is the living, glorified expression of divine righteousness. Oh, with what glory is the Church invested! the reflex of the nature of God. Marvellous truths are these! “The street (not streets) of the city pure gold, as transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). Not only will the Church itself reflect the glory of divine righteousness, but her walk and ways will agree therewith. Righteousness is now upon us (Romans 3:22), also wrought in us (Ephesians 4:24); we are in glory the display of it (Revelation 21:18), while it is that on which we walk (v. 21). The street, like the city of pure gold, signifies that in all our walk holiness and righteousness characterize it, ennoble it, beautify it. “As transparent glass” means that the righteous walk and ways of the Church will reflect the glory of what she is, not only in God’s sight, but actually in display and expression — the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).


Revelation 21:22. — And I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. A temple necessarily confines the presence of God and introduces the thought of near and more distant worshippers. “No temple” signifies that full and free access to God is equally granted to all. Immediate access to God without the intervention of priest or mediator is open to every one. Jehovah is the expression of moral relationship; God, El, the mighty One, the creatorial Name of power and sovereignty; the Almighty, omnipotent in all circumstances and over all opposing authority, and the Lamb added to these divine names and titles, form the temple. If God is in the city, and the Lamb Who has made good His glory, and in Whom the Godhead dwells (Colossians 1:19), and by Whom God is expressed (John 17:23), a Scripture which has its application at the time contemplated in our text: What need of a temple? God in the greatness of His Being, and as the One Who has acted and ruled of old, is now revealed in glory by the Lamb. The divine presence is equally diffused. God and the Lamb make themselves known throughout every part of the vast city of gold.


Revelation 21:23. — And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof (is) the Lamb. No independent yet created light as the sun, nor borrowed light as the moon, is required in the heavenly city. God is the source of her light, and the Lamb Who died for us is the lamp of the divine glory. It is He who diffuses the light throughout every part of the city. It is concentrated in God, it is made known by the Lamb, the remembrance of whose sacrifice is eternal.


Revelation 21:24. — And the nations shall walk by its light; and the kings of the earth bring their glory to it.” (The Authorised reads: “The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.” The words we have italicized should be deleted; also in Revelation 21:24; Revelation 21:26, “into it” should read “to it.”) It is the Lamb Who scatters the rays of light and reveals the glory of God in the midst of and to the glorified Church, but the Church is the medium of light to the world outside. By its light the nations walk. Then kings and nations pay court and homage to the heavenly city; they bring their glory and honor to it (Revelation 21:24-26). The rule of the heavens is acknowledged. The seat of government is in the midst of the city, and millennial kings and nations, then basking in the bright light and sunshine of the ever-glorious city, gladly bring the tribute of their grateful hearts to it. But enter it they never shall. The Church is the light and the dispenser of blessing to the world, the capital seat of all rule and government over the earth at large.


Revelation 21:25. — Night shall not be there. The city itself shall be one great body of light and glory, without and within, a light which shall never wane, and a glory which shall never fade. One perpetual high noon. No cloud shall ever cross its sky, no shadow ever rest upon it. No night with its darkness, its fears, its terrors. The long, dark night of the Church is past. She has now entered upon an eternal day which for her knows no setting sun.


Revelation 21:27. — And nothing common, nor that maketh an abomination and a lie, shall at all enter into it; but those only who (are) written in the book of life of the Lamb. Sin in every phase and form is excluded from the holy city. The least spot or taint of evil could not stand the glare of the divine glory. Those who enter in and share in the heavenly blessedness are those only who are written in the book of life of the Lamb. The Church is in view in all this intensely beautiful description, that is, the complement of saints from Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47) till the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:1-18). Is there not in these closing words an intimation that other heavenly saints shall enter into the city? The Church is formed and complete, and, in fact, measured by God as such, so that no addition to its numbers can be thought of. Its unity and perfection as a whole are amply secured before those named in verse 27 enter into it. We judge, therefore, that Old Testament saints and the martyrs of the coming crisis shall enter into the city, that is, while not forming part of it, shall yet enter into its blessedness and glory, and share with the Church association with Christ in His universal rule and government — all constituting God’s tabernacle (v. 3).

The Church has been viewed and described under the symbol of a city, but it is the bride, the Lamb’s wife, which has been pictured in vision. That magnificent chapter, Isaiah 60:1-22, the finest literary production ever penned, is the correlative in many respects of the heavenly city, Jerusalem. The description of Israel’s future in her land, in restored Jerusalem, and gathered on both sides of her millennial temple, etc., supplies much of the imagery employed in our chapter, and in the first few verses of the concluding one.

Commentary on Revelation 21:9-27 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 21:9. The original angel who came to John at the beginning of the vision has not left the isle, but occasionally there will be an extra conversation permitted for some one John 2:20 of the other persons introduced from time to time. For instance, one of the elders (Revelation 5:5), the beasts or living creatures (Revelation 6:1; Revelation 6:3; Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:7), the voice from heaven (Revelation 10:8), one of the seven angels (Revelation 17:1) and the one in our verse. John heard many other voices from time to time, but the ones to which reference is made talked to him. This angel of our verse invited John to see a vision of the bride, the Lamb’s wife

Revelation 21:10. He carried me away was not literal because John never actually left the isle any time through the scenes of this book. The sense in which it was done is signified by the words in the spirit. These extra visions injected into the over-all picture of this book, may be illustrated by certain special items called "insets" that are often seen within the scope of some large picture. They serve as explanations of some outstanding feature. In this special vision John saw a mountain from the top of which he could get a good view of what the angel wished him to see. The angel told John he would show him the bride, the Lamb’s wife, and when he looked he saw a city instead. That is because the bride is the church (Ephesians 5:25-33), and also the church is likened to a city (Hebrews 12:22-23). Having transferred the imagery from a woman to a city, the following passages will be a description of a beautiful city. , It is called holy Jerusalem because that title is attached to the church "which is the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26). Descending out of heaven from God. That was very appropriate because while the church is composed of men and women on the earth, the origin of it being from the dwelling place of God.

Revelation 21:11. Having the glory of God, because anything that comes from heaven would be adorned with the glory of God. The glory of the city was so great that John likens it to the rays of a precious stone. There is something most significant about using precious stones as symbols in describing the splendors of the celestial city. We have all beheld diamonds and other precious jewels and admired their glittering brilliance. However, we have observed also that the greatest degree of their beauty is caused by the light that is reflected upon them from some outside source. So with these precious stones, that bedeck the city of God; they obtain their glow from the light that radiates from the throne of God. The one named in this verse is only referred to for a comparison, but the actual use of the stones themselves will be described in a later place in this chapter. The jasper that is used to compare the brilliant light is described as being clear as crystal. That is a description of a diamond which is among the most attractive of stones.

Revelation 21:12. The dimensions of the wall will be noticed at Revelation 21:16-17, but here they are briefly stated to be great and high. In old times the most important cities were surrounded with walls, hence it is a desirable asset to say this city was walled. It is significant that it was great and high. That would indicate good protection from the enemies, since the wall was too high to be scaled and too great or strong to be penetrated or beaten down. Among the numerical symbols that have been very prominent in this book are four and its multiples, twelve and four and twenty. Four was the number of the living creatures that represented the redeemed from the four corners of the earth. Twelve was used if the organized systems that God has had are being considered from one dispensation alone, either the Mosaic or the Christian. That is because there were twelve tribes in the one and twelve apostles in the other. Hence it is appropriate that John should see the twelve gates to this city representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve apostles will be pointed out later, but it was in order to show the twelve tribes first because the Mosaic system was first given.

Revelation 21:13. The tabernacle of the Mosaic system had much beauty in its formation, and also in the garments of the priestly service. That was not as an encouragement to vanity or doing something for show. But God is the designer and maker of all things, and those that are seen in the universe that are beautiful are not so by accident. Among the items that contribute to the beauty of any structure is the symmetry of its arrangement. A city that is foursquare should not have a varying number of gates in its walls. There are twelve gates to this city and the equal distribution of them in sets of three is very appropriate. It might have seemed sufficiently clear to say that the gates were equally divided amidst the four sides of the city. However, this is supposed to be a somewhat poetical or picturesque description of a very superb spot, and it is fitting to go into these details.

Revelation 21:14. This completes the full representations corresponding to the four and twenty elders. The twelve gates stand for the tribes of Israel, and here are the twelve original apostles of Christ. There is nothing said about angels in connection with the twelve apostles as there was with the twelve gates. That is doubtless be-cause gates call for guards at the entrance of an important city, while a foundation is a more fixed part of a structure and all for super-vision. In literal architecture there would be actually only one foundation to a building. Yet it might be built of several stones as was this one, and each stone is spoken of as a foundation. In literal language it would be one foundation but composed of a number of stones. In truth that is the way Paul speaks of the church in Ephesians 2:20 where he says Christians are built upon the foundation (singular) of the apostles and prophets. It is common to see important names engraved on stones composing a building. It generally is of persons who have made valuable contributions to the structure. From that standpoint it is significant to have the names of the apostles on these stones.

Revelation 21:15. He that talked with me means the angel who had been sent to give John the vision. This angel had the measuring reed and he did the measuring. A reed in nature is produced on the banks or near the edge of bodies of water and the stems are used for various purposes. The one the angel had was an artificial one and was made of bright and precious metal. Such an instrument was proper for the important matter of measuring divine things. We are not told the capacity of this measuring rule as we might do in the case of a literal measuring stick, such as a yard or foot measure. We have only the computation after the angel did the measuring.

Revelation 21:16. The city was a cube, the length and breadth and height being equal. The measurement was twelve thousand furlongs, which is fifteen hundred miles. For an approximate estimate to help us visualize the size of that city, let us think that if a man were to start at the Gulf of Mexico and travel to the Great Lakes, he would have made the journey along one side only of the city. It is true that the eternal city will not be restricted to miles as we measure distances, but the figures are intended to give us some impression of the abundant provision that God has made for the saved of all ages.

Revelation 21:17. In the precedingverse (; Revelation 21:16) the angel measured the city which gave the length of it. In this verse he measured the wall which necessarily means the thickness of it. The measurement was a hundred and forty and four cubits, another multiple of one of our promises. Measure of a man, that is, of the angel. This unusual language only means that the angel used the same action in measuring the wall that a man would use in such a situation. The usual length of a cubit is eighteen inches, hence this wall was two hundred and sixteen feet thick. Such would be a proper thickness to be proportionate to such a height.

Revelation 21:18. The body of the wall was of jasper, which we realize in Revelation 21:11 is a substance that is "clear as crystal" thus describing a diamond. Let us try to see with our mind’s eye a diamond that is fifteen hundred miles in diameter and we will have a mental picture of one side of this city. City was pure gold means the street of it according to Revelation 21:21. Gold is a metal (not a stone), hence the likeness to clear glass is explained in Revelation 21:21 as of transparent glass. Literal gold is one of the most condensed of metals and hence would naturally be the opposite of transparent. So we should understand that the metal was so pure and the texture so fine that it would take on a very high polish. It was so much that way that in looking upon it one would really seem to see a substance that his eyes were penetrating (as if they were performing the action of an X-ray), when in reality he was beholding something with an incomprehensibly high gloss.

Revelation 21:19. The foundation stones of the wall were garnished (decorated) with all manner of precious stones, which means with stones of various descriptions. The first was jasper which we have previously learned h like a diamond. Sapphires are of several varieties and no special one is named, but the general description in the English dictionaries shows them to be brilliant gems inclined to be transparent. A chalcedony is a stone with a blue tint and a glossy surface. Emerald is a stone with rich coloring of green and very much prized as a precious stone.

Revelation 21:20. A sardonyx is described by Thayer as follows: "A precious stone marked by the red color of the carnelian (sard) and the white of the onyx." A sardius is a flesh-colored stone. Thayer says a chrysolyte is "a precious stone of a golden color," and he says a beryl is "a precious stone of a pale green color." A topaz is a stone of a greenish-yellow color as given by Thayer. Chrysoprasus. Thayer defines this as follows: "A precious stone in color like a leek, of a translucent [transparent] golden-green." A jacinth is also the name of a flower (commonly called a hyacinth). The color of it and the stone by the same name is dark-blue, almost black. Thayer says an amethyst is a precious stone of a violet and purple color.

Revelation 21:21. Every seveRevelation 21:18-21 of one pearl. There is nothing said nor intimated that the gates resembled pearls or were merely as beautiful as pearls. No, the first phrase is, the twelve gates were twelve pearls. And we should take for granted that the Lord would not use any but genuine pearl, but He would also Use the best of it for the construction of a city to be the eternal home of the redeemed, where they are to share the glory with Him and all the celestial beings that He has created. I will quote from Smith’s Bible Dictionary information about pearls: "The finest specimens of the pearl are yielded by the pearl oyster . . . the oysters grow in clusters on rock in deep water, and the pearl found inside the shell, and is the result of a diseased secretion caused by the introduction of foreign bodies, etc., between the mantle and the shell . . . The size of a good Oriental pearl varies from that of a pea to about three times that . . . Pearls have been valued as high as $200,000 apiece." Now let us do some calculating and try to form some idea of the beauty and value of just the gates to the celestial city. Everything thus far has been in the proportions that would be required for beauty, hence these gates would be of the width and height that would not be out of proportion. In a wall fifteen hundred miles high and two hundred and sixteen feet thick, any opening of ordinary dimensions would look like a tunnel more than an entrance to a city of residence. We are not given the actual dimensions of the gates, but in order to bring them near enough for us to do some kind of calculating, we know they would not have been less than a hundred feet wide and two hundred feet high. If a pearl three times the size of a pea is worth two hundred thousand dollars, then one pearl as large as I have suggested (and doubtless these gates were larger) would be worth many times more than all the wealth of the world, and besides this, there were twelve of these costly gems. I would be willing to give a year or more of the severest kind of service just to see one of those gates.

Revelation 21:22. I saw no temple. John was thinking of the temple that was in the literal city of Jerusalem, and was contrasting that situation with what he saw in the vision. Even that temple which was built for the service to God was not good enough nor big enough to contain Him (1 Kings 8:27; Acts 7:47-50), much less would He need a temple to confine him when He is already occupying the whole city.

Revelation 21:23. The moon and stars were necessary to give light upon the earth, but that planet will have passed away- The light that would be adapted to glorified residents of the eternal city would need to be more brilliant than a multitude of suns such as we now see. But the city will not be without light for the glory of God and the Son will lighten it- Think of a Being so bright and glorious that its rays would reach from wall to wall in a city 1,500 miles wide. No wonder Moses was not permitted to come within the rays of that glory.

Revelation 21:24. Nations and kings of the earth will come into the city literally, for those relationships are of a temporal nature. This verse is based on the practicein ancient times that required a captive city tribute to a city that had overcome it. Doubtless there will be men who had been kings, and others who were citizens of the nations ruled by these kings, who will have become servants of God and who will be amoRevelation 21:26 ny thousands who will throng that city.

Revelation 21:25. The gates shall not be shut at all by day (or day by day). This also is based upon the practice of ancient cities closing their gates at the approach of night (Joshua 2:5). John says there will not be any need for such a performance, for there shall be no night there. It is his way of emphasizing the absence of night, for there will be no enemy who could enter the city any way.

Revelation 21:26. This is the same as verse 24.

Revelation 21:27. There shall in no wise enter. That which is sinful or unclean shall not be allowed to enter, “neither whatever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Even those who die in their sins will not be allowed to enter, if they never repented and/or obeyed the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

Commentary on Revelation 21:8-27 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 21:9

And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last plagues; and he spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

Some have tried to separate this description of the new Jerusalem by an artificial division between Revelation 21:1-8, and the rest of the prophecy. However, Wilcock demonstrated that the balance of this prophecy is a close-up elaboration of exactly what is included in Revelation 1-8 :[21]

Revelation 21:2 = Revelation 21:10-12, the revelation of God’s city.

Revelation 21:3 = Revelation 21:22-27, the revelation of God’s dwelling.

Revelation 21:4-5 a = Revelation 21:1-5, the revelation of God’s world renewed.

Revelation 21:5 b = Revelation 22:6-10, the revelation of God’s word validated.

Revelation 21:6 a = Revelation 22:11-15, the revelation of God’s work completed.

Revelation 21:6 b,7 = Revelation 22:16-17, the revelation of God’s final blessing.

Revelation 21:8 = Revelation 22:18-19, the revelation of God’s final curse.

In the light of this very logical analysis, we must reject the view of Morris that, "John rounds off his book with a series of somewhat miscellaneous observations,"[22] as well as the interpretation which sees, "Two descents of the city, the first in relation to eternity, the second in relation to the millennium.[23] "It is therefore natural to assume with the vast majority of commentators that Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5 supplies an extended exposition of that paragraph (Revelation 21:1-8).[24]

One of the seven angels ... "We should not overlook the fact that this angel is exactly the one who showed John the judgment of the great whore (Revelation 17:11)."[25] It is probable that this truth, in some way, is important. "It may be that John wishes us to see that the servant of God does not choose his task, but must do whatever God sends him to do."[26]

I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife ... This word makes it mandatory to interpret the new Jerusalem as representing the glorified church of Christ.

[21] Michael Wilcock, I Saw Heaven Opened (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975), p. 199.

[22] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 257.

[23] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Revelation (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), p. 120.

[24] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 315.

[25] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 248.

[26] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 208.

Revelation 21:10

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,

A mountain, great and high ... John had needed no such vantage point as this for viewing the great whore (Revelation 17:3); but it was only from such a lofty pinnacle as this that he could behold the glory of the Lamb’s wife. "The heavenly city is to be described only from an exalted viewpoint, perhaps the high point of faith."[27]

Coming down out of heaven from God ... What an incredibly wonderful thought is this! That the church, which is made of ordinary mortals who came through the toils, struggles, temptations, and sorrows of life shall at last possess and exhibit the very glory of God himself - this indeed is the reward of the saints. "Till the dawn of eternity itself, this holy Jerusalem can never appear any other way than as ’coming down out of heaven from God’; for it owes its total existence to the condescension of God, and not to the works of men."[28]

[27] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 249.

[28] G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 271.

Revelation 21:11

having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal:

A jasper ... clear as crystal ... See more on this stone under Revelation 4:3, above. "The jasper, which probably represents the modern diamond, is the characteristic of him who sat on the throne (Revelation 4:3)."[29] Thus, the redeemed church will have the same appearance as that of the Lord himself.


[29] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 511.

Revelation 21:12

having a wall great and high; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

A wall ... gates ... These coincide with the description of any city at the time when John lived. Walls and gates were for safety and security. See under Revelation 21:17, below. "In Ezekiel 38:11, Gog and Magog preyed upon the unwalled cities."[30] Here, the vulnerability of those contrasts with the safety of this.

Having twelve gates ... Certainly not too many, as the size of the city would place even these at a distance of 500 miles apart! Of all the outlandish notions ever advocated from the basis of these twelve gates, the most bizarre is that which concludes that, "A man can come by many roads into the kingdom, for there are as many ways to the stars as there are men to climb them."[31] There are not many ways into the kingdom; Christ alone is the way (John 14:6); and it is the abuse of literalism to conclude otherwise on the basis of there being twelve gates mentioned here.

Twelve angels ... Apparently this is an inert element in the vision, the gates of all ancient cities being presided over by some powerful representative of the central government.

And names ... of the twelve tribes ... of Israel ... This shows "the continuity of the family of God in the New Covenant with that of the Old."[32]

[30] Ibid.

[31] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 210.

[32] Charles H. Roberson, op. cit., p. 179.

Revelation 21:13

on the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

East ... north ... south ... west ... The order of the mention of these is intriguing:

In Numbers 2:3 ff, the tribes are arranged in a square, the sides of which look ESWN, in Ezekiel NESW, in Revelation ENSW, a change that seems deliberate.[33]

"Both John and Ezekiel seem deliberately to have avoided having the gates in the order observed in the astrology of the day."[34]

[33] Ibid.

[34] J. W. Roberts, The Revelation of John (Austin, Texas: R. B. Sweet Company, 1974), p. 187.

Revelation 21:14

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Twelve foundations ... "This is an obvious allusion to the theology of the church, which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20)."[35]

On them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb ... "The apostles are mentioned here in their collective and official, not in their individual, character."[36] It is pointless to ask if Matthew or Paul is included or left out. Just as "Roman terms `decemviri’ and `centumviri’ came to be official terms without regard to the precise numbers,"[37] the term "apostles" came to be used in the same way.

Despite this, we still think it pertinent to ask if Peter’s name had 265 successors engraved after it.

[35] George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 281.

[36] Charles H. Roberson, op. cit., p. 180.

[37] Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1919), p. 759.

Revelation 21:15

And he that spake with me had for a measure a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

A golden reed to measure the city ... "The intent of the measuring would seem to be to heighten the enormity, the symmetry and beauty of the holy city."[38] It is interesting that although the gates are mentioned as going to be measured, their dimensions are never given. Only a "golden reed" was used here, whereas, a "reed like unto a rod" (Revelation 11:1) was used to measure the world city. That reed seems to have been an ordinary stick!


[38] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 188.

Revelation 21:16

And the city lieth foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs: the length and the breadth and the height thereof are equal.

Twelve thousand furlongs ... "This is roughly fifteen hundred miles!"[39] The astounding thing about this is that it is the height also, as well as the length and the breadth. See sermon on "Heaven" in chapter introduction.

And the city lieth foursquare ... When the measurements are considered, it appears that the external shape of the city is that of a perfect regular hexahedron. From the standpoint of the length and breadth it lay "foursquare." "Both Plato and Aristotle refer to the fact that in Greece the good man was called foursquare."[40] There might be the spiritual application that this is the city of the "good."

We believe, however, that it is the "bigness" of heaven that is symbolized by these dimensions; although, of course, they also show the symmetry, perfection, and completeness of God’s eternal designs as well. The view of scholars, generally, who follow this thought, usually resembles this from Hendriksen:

Twelve thousand is the product of three (for the trinity) times four (for the universe) times ten times ten times ten (for reduplicated, ultimate completeness and perfection). Hence this number expresses the complete and perfect result of the saving power of the Triune God operating in the universe.[41]

For this writer, such numerological exercises raise more questions than they answer. We might also arrive at the number 12,000 by dividing 26 by two, subtracting two from the remainder, adding one, and multiplying by (30 10:30 + 100)! This is not intended to deny the mystical use of numbers by the Jews and others of antiquity, a usage that does appear extensively in the sacred Scriptures.

Many have also pointed out that this cubical shape of the city was like that of the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 6:20).

[39] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 211.

[40] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 188.

[41] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 244.

Revelation 21:17

And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

One hundred and forty and four cubits ... The problem here is that a wall 266 feet high seems totally out of proportion for a city more than 30,000 times that high! Beckwith applied the dimension only to the thickness of the wall. "The height of it is included in the height of the city in Revelation 21:16."[42] This, however, helps very little, because a wall of such thickness could not sustain itself at a height of 30,000 times its thickness, except in the event of the wall being a shield affixed to and part of the city itself. Perhaps that is the way we should view it, the fact of its being made of jasper (the diamond, which is the hardest of all material substances) adding some logic to such an interpretation.

According to the measure of a man ... This just means that John was not referring here to any trick measurements.


[42] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 760.

Revelation 21:18

And the building of the wall thereof was jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto pure glass.

Jasper ... See under above verse. This is the appearance of the whole city (Revelation 21:11), again suggesting that the wall is a solid diamond 266 feet thick encompassing the entire city in all dimensions as a protective shield or armor-plate. At least, this interpretation of it gives effective imagery. In that case, it would not need to be any thicker than 266 feet.

Pure gold, like unto pure glass ... The exceeding preciousness, beauty, purity, holiness, and glory of the city are indicated by this.

Revelation 21:19

The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

These twelve precious stones making up the foundations of the wall are:

JASPER, usually thought to be the diamond.

SAPPHIRE, or "lapis lazula" (ASV margin).

CHALCEDONY, "a green silicate of copper found in mines near Chalcedon."[43]

EMERALD, the same as our modern gem.

SARDONYX, "an onyx in which white was broken by layers of red and brown."[44]

SARDIUS, The name of this was derived from Sardis; it was also called a carnelian. "It was blood red, and the commonest of all stones used for gems."[45]

CHRYSOLITE, "Its Hebrew name means the Stone of Tarshish, described by Pliny as shining with a golden radiance."[46]

BERYL, "a variety of emerald, though not as green."[47]

TOPAZ, This was a stone of a greenish gold color, highly valued by the Hebrews.

CHRYSOPRASE, "the equivalent of our aquamarine, another variety of emerald."[48]

JACINTH, the modern sapphire (ASV, margin).

AMETHYST, the same as the common amethyst today.

What can be the meaning of all these precious stones? Certainly, one of the legitimate meanings is that of the eternal beauty and value of the church of the living God; but there is another very curious and intriguing possibility. Charles pointed out that the twelve signs of the zodiac are represented by these same stones:[49]

The Ram -- Amethyst The Bull -- Hyacinth The Twins -- Chrysoprase The Crab -- Topaz The Lion -- Beryl The Virgin -- Chrysolite The Balances -- Sardius The Scorpion -- Sardonyx The Archer -- Emerald The Goat -- Chalcedon Water-carrier -- Sapphire The Fish -- Jasper

Now the original order of these, that given above, is the order in which the sun passes through the constellations indicated. The apostle John exactly reversed that order! "He is repudiating all heathen concepts; he is expressing the thought that in the end God reverses human judgments."[50] This says in tones of thunder that there is absolutely nothing to astrology, a lesson that currently needs emphasis.

[43] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 213.

[44] Ibid., p. 214.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 512.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Charles as quoted by Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 252.

[50] Ibid.

Revelation 21:21

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the several gates was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

Twelve gates were twelve pearls ... The gates of admittance are all one, as far as their character is concerned; one is not of lead, another of brass, etc. All who enter must meet the same requirements and enter by the gate of pearl, a symbol of the Christian’s "overcoming." See sermon on "Heaven" in chapter introduction.

And the street ... was pure gold ... It is said also that this was, as it were, "transparent glass." What kind of gold is that? Roberts thought that, "These symbols have no special significance";[51] but it seems important that the very thing people worship on earth should at last have found its place under foot instead of upon the throne. "The street," as used here, does not mean that there was only one street. "The street here is not one street, but all streets."[52]

[51] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 190.

[52] @@

Revelation 21:22

And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof.

No temple ... All devices for communicating with God will be unnecessary in the glorified state. In a sense, the entire eternal city will be the dwelling place of God (Revelation 21:3). A very interesting fact revealed from the Dead Sea Scrolls is that, "A prominent Jewish sect rejected the established temple,"[53] a position fully in harmony with the view we have taken of it throughout this series.

The Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb ... These are the temple thereof. Christ is the only true temple of God that this earth ever saw; and it includes also his spiritual body the church. This is the temple which God promised David that "his seed" would build (2 Samuel 7:12-13).


[53] George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 283.

Revelation 21:23

And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb.

No need of sun ... nor moon ... Note the powerful emphasis upon the Lamb throughout. "The lamp thereof is the Lamb." "The Lamb is at the center of things throughout this book."[54]


[54] Leon Morris. op. cit., p. 254

Revelation 21:24

And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it.

The nations shall walk amidst the light thereof ... "These words deal with the present order."[55] They are somewhat parenthetical in this vision of the eternal state. "The history of man has verified John’s prophecy, and its fulfillment continues till this day."[56] Of course, "Many feel that the time referred to here is the millennium";[57] but such views come of a failure to observe John’s method. In this great vision of the ultimate glory of the church, the apostle injected these words to show that some of the glories will also pertain to the church’s present existence. Upon the coronation of George VI of England, the magnificent folio published for the occasion praised the king and his dynasty as being "Among those kings who brought their glory into God’s kingdom." Their interpretation of this passage was correct, whether or not their application of it is allowed. At the post-resurrection time symbolized by this vision, "there are no literal kings remaining on earth,"[58] any more than there are "dogs and sorcerers" on the outside trying to get in, as in 22:15. The words of this verse are both retrospective and prophetic.

[55] Charles H. Roberson. op. cit., p. 184.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, op. cit., p. 122.

[58] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 513.

Revelation 21:25

And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there):

"The perpetually open gates symbolize perfect safety."[59] "And there shall be no night there ..." These precious words have been sung by the saints of all ages. Darkness is a time of danger, fear, and the works of darkness; but no such things shall any longer exist at the time foretold here.


[59] James William Russell, op. cit., p. 654.

Revelation 21:26

and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it:

See under Revelation 21:24 for comment on the same thought expressed again here.

Revelation 21:27

and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Ladd’s comment on this verse also illuminates Revelation 21:24; Revelation 21:26.

The flexibility of apocalyptic language allows John to use contemporary earthly idiom to describe future eschatological situations. Those who now are unclean and practice abominations or falsehood will have no access into the heavenly city.[60]

The abominations spoken of here are probably the unspeakable perversions and sensualities practiced in the rites of heathendom; but, of course, they are not limited to that.

The chapter division here is capricious, for the next chapter is a continuation of exactly the same line of thought as here. The glory of the eternal state is the subject.


[60] George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 285.

Commentary on Revelation 21:9-27 by Manly Luscombe

9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” We now meet one of the angels that poured out the bowls of the wrath of God. He now invites John to see the bride, the wife of the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God is Jesus. (John 1:36). The bride is the church. John is invited to see the church now. Not the church on earth with it hypocrites and pretenders. Not the church with flaws and imperfections. But the church with no spots, no wrinkles, no blemishes. This is the church pure, all dressed and prepared for the wedding feast.

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,… John was taken to a great and high mountain. The church is so widespread that you need a high vantage point to take it in. The phrase “in the Spirit” is inserted to show that this is still part of the vision. He is not literally taken off Patmos to some high mountain. He is given a spiritual view of the grand and glorious church. Repeated from verse 2, John sees the church coming down out of heaven. Heaven is bigger than the church. The church is a part of heaven.

11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. The church, the true and faithful church, has the glory of God. The church was planned and built by God. The church was designed to spread the light of the gospel. (Ephesians 2:10). We are not sure about the jasper stone, some believe it might be the diamond. It is bright, precious and clear as crystal.

12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west…The church is further described as having a high wall with 12 gates. There is a angel at each gate. The 12 gates have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel written on them. There are three gates on each side of the holy city. You can approach the city (church) from any direction and find access. The wall of a literal city was it primary defense against attack from the outside. If one is inside the wall, there is safety and protection. God has promised to protect those who are His. He offers security and safety to the church. NOTE: This is not heaven. This city came down out of heaven. John is describing the church, the bride of Christ.

14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The city has 12 foundations. The church was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. (Ephesians 2:19-20). The gates were labeled with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. The 12 foundations are also labeled with the names of the 12 apostles.

15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The angel who was serving as John’s guide asked him to measure the city, the gates and the wall. The measurements are made with a golden reed. The measurements are figurative and not to be taken as literal.

16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. The city is a cube. The three dimensions are equal. The length, width and depth are the same. The measurement is 12,000 furlongs. In modern measurements a furlong is about 220 yards. 12,000 furlongs would be about 1,500 miles. This would make the city 1,500 mile long and wide. It would also make the city have walls that are 1,500 miles high. I believe that the number, like most numbers in Revelation, should be taken in its figurative sense. The number 12 is the number that represents organized religion. The 12 tribes of Israel represent Judaism. The 12 apostles represent the New Testament church. If you take this number and multiply by 1,000, the number of completeness, you have the sum completeness, the grand total of all who have ever lived lives of faithful obedience to God. Thus, 12,000 represent the total of all who have been obedient to God. Remember this is the spiritual city, the New Jerusalem.

17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. Since the height of the wall is described in the previous verse, it is clear that this verse is measuring the thickness of the wall. The wall is 144 cubits thick. This would be about 72 yards in thickness. Again, I do not believe we should take this a literal. The number 144 is the total of 12 multiplied by 12 (12 X 12 = 144). Since 12 is the number for organized religion, we are looking at a multiple of Judaism times Christianity. This is the similar to the number 144,000 in Revelation 14:1. The measure of a man means that this was a measurement which man could understand.

18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The wall is of jasper (perhaps diamond) and the city is pure gold. The gold is so pure that it is clear like glass. In our understanding of the terms clear as glass and pure gold are not synonyms. How can it be both? I would remind you that John is attempting to describe that which is beyond our ability to describe. He is trying to paint a picture of what we can not even imagine.

19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The walls are decorated with all kinds of precious stones. The 12 foundations (labeled with the names of the 12 apostles) are made of precious stones. We are not sure of the meaning of some of these terms. Here is what we do know. These are precious stones. They are used to decorate, thus, are brilliant and beautiful.

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. The gates on which are the names of the 12 tribes of Israel are now described. The 12 gates are made of 12 pearls. Each gate was one pearl. The street (singular) of the city is of such pure gold that it is clear like glass.

22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. Under the Law of Moses the tabernacle, and later the temple, represented the presence of God. Now, the presence of God is in the hearts of his people. (2 Corinthians 6:16-17) God has promised to dwell with us, walk with us, and be our God. There is no need for a temple. We ARE the temple of God. (Ezekiel 37:27; 1 Corinthians 3:17) God is present in His people.

23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. The church in not dependant on external light sources. God is the light. The sun is not needed to shine. We do not need stars or the moon. God’s glory lights up or lives. Jesus is the light of our life. (John 8:12). The primary task of the church is to take this light into a world dark with sin.

24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. People from all nations shall flow into the church. (Isaiah 2:2). The church is the body of the saved. Kings cannot bring their glory and power into heaven for eternity. They can, when converted, bring their glory into the church.

25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). The church is a pure place. It is safe from sin. There is no darkness of sin allowed in the church. Those in the church have been forgiven and died to a life of sin. Walled cities always closed their gates at night. If you were outside the city when the gates were closed, you could not enter. However, in the church it is never night. There is never a time when the opportunity to obey the gospel and be immersed is closed. I have baptized people at all hours of the day and night. The invitation to obey the commands of God is never closed. You can enter the church at anytime.

26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. This opportunity to become a citizen in the holy city is open to people of all nations. It is not limited to one race, nation or language. Peter said that in every nation if one believes and obeys God is accepted into the city.

27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The church must remain pure. We must not allow sin or anything that defiles us to enter our lives. We must purge out the old leaven. We must separate from sin. “Come out from among them and be separate.”

Sermon on Revelation 21:9-27

The City of God

Brent Kercheville

The first eight verses of chapter 21 (Revelation 21:1-8) described the new heaven and the new earth. We noticed that the new heaven and new earth are symbolic images just like the rest of the book. The new heaven and new earth are not geographic concepts suggesting that we will still live on the earth after Christ returns. Revelation 21:1-8 teaches the new heaven and new earth are relational images. When Christ returns then we will be able to fully be with God. Then we will be able to receive all the eternal rewards and blessings promised to the faithful. Then we will find comfort in the arms of the Lord who wipes away our tears that we have from living in this present heaven and present earth. When Christ returns there will be no more mourning, no crying, no pain, and no grief. These former things have passed away with the present heaven and present earth. Passages like Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22, and 2 Peter 3:11-13 confirm our understanding of the new heaven and new earth as the time when righteousness rules. This world, with all its evil, pain, and difficulties, has passed away. Now we are at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

The Bride (Revelation 21:9-10)

Revelation 21:9 John sees one of the seven angels who had poured out one of the bowls of wrath. The angel tells John that he is going show him the bride, the wife of the Lamb. We already know from the scriptures what is going to be described to us. Revelation 19:7-8 told us that the marriage of the Lamb has come and the bride is ready. The bride is defined for us as the saints, God’s holy people, and the fine linen the bride is wearing represents the righteous deeds of the saints. Paul makes the same connection, describing how husbands love their wives as how Christ loves the church. Christ is the husband, the groom and the church, the people of God, are the wife, the bride. The description the angel gives is not a description of a literal new city to be built in Palestine. The city, new Jerusalem, represents the people of God. Notice the other New Testament authors who make the same connection. The apostle Paul described the Jerusalem that is from above as the children of promise, the people of God (Galatians 4:21-31). The writer of Hebrews spoke the same of new Jerusalem.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24 ESV)

The angel carries John away in the Spirit to show him the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. Being carried in the Spirit reminds us that John continues a visionary sequence (Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2). John has not been literally carried anywhere. He is seeing a vision from God. The holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven connects back to Revelation 21:2. We saw the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem introduced. Revelation 21:3-8 gave more details about the new heaven and new earth. The rest of the chapter gives more details about new Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem’s Walls and Gates (Revelation 21:11-14)

John sees the new Jerusalem having the glory of God, full of radiance like a rare jewel, clear as crystal. The picture is likely the gleam and shimmer of a beautiful diamond. The eople of God are symbolized as a great city coming down from heaven, shining with the glory of God.

Revelation 21:12-14 describes the walls and the gates of the city. The great, high wall represents how the unclean and wicked cannot enter into fellowship with God. Notice this point is clearly made in Revelation 21:27. “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” The walls show that no one can enter unless they are in fellowship with the Lord. The walls and gates also pictures the prophecy that Isaiah made.

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.” (Isaiah 26:1-2 ESV)

The other prophetic references come from Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple in Ezekiel 40-48. In Ezekiel’s context the physical temple has been destroyed and the people carried into captivity. Ezekiel in a vision is taken to a very high mountain like John was for this vision in Revelation. Ezekiel sees a great new temple. Revelation borrows many images and descriptions from Ezekiel’s vision showing the fulfillment of what Ezekiel prophesied. Ezekiel’s vision describes the actual presence of God within the temple of the new community. John sees twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. Inscribed on the gates were the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Ezekiel saw the same thing (Ezekiel 48:30-35). There are three gates on each side of the city, each inscribed with a name from sons of Israel. In addition to the twelve gates, there are twelve foundation stones. On the foundation stones were inscribed the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The apostles were the foundation of the city of God, the new Jerusalem. Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to the apostles who were guided into all truth (John 16:13). When we obey the teachings of the apostles recorded for us as these holy scriptures, then we will become part of the household of God and citizens in this great and glorious city of God. As the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians,

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…. (Ephesians 2:19-20 ESV)

The inclusion of the names of the twelve sons of Israel with the names of the twelve apostles shows the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan. The faithful people of God from both the covenants are part of God’s family and are in fellowship with the Lord.

New Jerusalem’s Measurements (Revelation 21:15-17)

John now sees the angel with a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates, and its walls. When Ezekiel saw this vision he also saw an angel with a measuring rod in his hand (Ezekiel 40:3). Ezekiel 40:5 shows this angel going around the outside of the temple area and measuring the various aspects of the temple. The measuring of the city (and the temple in Ezekiel’s vision) is to show the security found in this city. We saw this symbol in Revelation 11:1-2 where the measuring of the temple by John should the security of that temple while the courts outside the temple were not measured because they were to be trampled and destroyed. We noted that temple in Revelation 11 to refer to the holy people of God who were spiritually secure while the physical city was destroyed by the Gentiles. The same meaning exists here in Revelation 21:15-17. These vast measurements of the city are to show that the people of God are secure and safe.

The length, width, and height of the city measure to 12,000 stadia. Many translations convert this measurement for us to help us understand the size of the city. The NRSV and NASB read 1500 miles while the NET and NLT read 1400 miles. Notice the measurements of the city are also perfect in dimension. These measurements should immediately cause us to realize that we are not looking at a literal city that would 1400-1500 miles high. The perfection of the city is being emphasized with this power numbers. We have noticed in our study of Revelation that 12,000 is a powerful, perfect number. We saw that the number of the servants of God sealed from each tribe was 12,000, bringing the number to 144,000. The number 12,000 shows grand and perfect completeness. There was only one other thing that was in perfect dimension of God’s buildings. The Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple was perfectly square (1 Kings 6:20). The Holy of Holies was 20 cubits long, wide, and high and was overlaid with God. This room represented the presence of God. This city with its perfect dimensions in equal length, width, and height represents God’s presence with his people who have been made perfect (Hebrews 12:22-24). Thus, a human measurement is the same as an angelic measurement because God is dwelling with his perfect people.

New Jerusalem’s Building Materials (Revelation 21:18-21)

The description of the building materials for new Jerusalem are simply amazing. The walls are like diamonds, clear as glass, while the city was made of pure gold. Just as the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple was overlaid with gold and the whole temple was laid with gold (1 Kings 6:20-22) so also is new Jerusalem made of pure gold. The various precious stones continue to amplify the beauty and glory of God with this city. Many precious stones from the high priest’s breastplate are identified here, perhaps indicating the whole of Israel, God’s holy people, represented in this city. We may also be seeing another fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.” (Isaiah 54:11-13 NIV)

This is the city that reflects the glory of God. This is the dwelling place of God. The twelve gates were twelve pearls and the street was the city was made of pure gold, transparent as glass. Everything is perfect. Nothing is marred in this city. The holy people of God are with the Lord in perfect fellowship where there is nothing evil.

New Jerusalem’s Temple (Revelation 21:22-27)

Now John sees something very unusual about this holy city. There is no temple in the city. The reason is that the temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. There is no need for an intercessor between us and God. God is the temple. We have direct access and fellowship with the Lord. This is the reality of what the prophets promised.

And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, “The ark of the covenant of the LORD.” It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:16-17 ESV)

For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.’” (Haggai 2:6-9 ESV)

The New Testament has taught us the same imagery.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (Acts 4:11 ESV)

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…. (Ephesians 2:19-20 ESV)

Further, the city has no need for the sun or moon because the glory of God gives it light and the lamp is the Lamb. The glory of God is incomparable to any source of light. God’s glory is sufficient for us for living. Once again, the imagery of verse 23 shows the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. (Isaiah 60:19 ESV)

The chapter concludes revealing that this great glory, security, and fellowship are available for all people. The nations walk by its light and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. They will bring the glory and the honor of the nations (Revelation 21:26). Isaiah also prophesied of this moment.

3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

11 Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. 12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste. (Isaiah 60:3; Isaiah 60:5; Isaiah 60:11-12 ESV)

Those who do not submit to God will not be allowed to enter through the gates. Only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter into this glorious fellowship with God and receive the eternal blessings and rewards. These images portray the glory and blessings we will enjoy in full fellowship with God in the age to come after Christ returns.



Read Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5

1. What appeared after the final judgment? Ans. Revelation 21:1.

2. To what does John compare the new Jerusalem? Ans. Revelation 21:2.

3. What message was proclaimed by a great voice out of the throne? Ans. Revelation 21:3.

4. Name some things that shall pass away. Ans.Revelation 21:4.

5. What did the one on the throne order John to do? Ans. Revelation 21:5.

6. What is promised to those who thirst? to those who overcome? Ans. Revelation 21:6-7.

7. Who shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone? Ans. Revelation 21:8.

8. Who promised to show John the bride, the wife of the Lamb? Ans. Revelation 21:9.

9. Where then was John carried and what did he see? Ans. Revelation 21:10.

10. Describe the new Jerusalem. To what is her light compared? How many gates, where located. and what was written on them? How many foundations and what was written on them? Give the dimensions of the city. Tell of the walls of the city. Ans. Revelation 21:11-18.

11. Name the twelve kinds of stone that composed the wall. Ans. Revelation 21:19-20.

12. Describe the twelve gates and the street. Ans. Revelation 21:21.

13. How was the city lighted? Ans. Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:5.

14. Why will the gates of the city never be shut? Ans. Revelation 21:25.

15. What will not enter the city? What will enter? Ans. Revelation 21:27.

16. Give a full description of the river of the water of life. Ans. Revelation 22:1; Revelation 2:17. Whose throne will be in the new Jerusalem? Ans. Revelation 22:3-4.

E.M. Zerr

Questions on Revelation

Revelation Chapter Twenty-One

1. Tell what John saw next.

2. What had become of the first ones?

3. Name the city John saw.

4. From where was it coming?

5. How was it prepared?

6. From where did he hear a voice?

7. What had come to be with men?

8. Who will dwell with them?

9. State the relation to exist between them?

10. Tell the service God will do for them.

11. What will former things have done?

12. Among these will be what?

13. Tell what will be made new.

14. Who declared this to be so ?

15. Why was John told to write?

16. What was said next?

17. Tell the description of the speaker.

18. What will he give freely?

19. To whom will he give this?

20. Who shall inherit all things? .

21. What will God be to him?

22. Where will the liars have their part?

23. What death is this called?

24. Tell who will share this with the liars.

25. Who came to John now?

26. What did he promise to show him?

27. By what was he carried away?

28. What did he show him?

29. From where was it descending?

30. What glory did it have?

31. Describe her light.

32. And what kind of wall did it have?

33. How many gates?

34. Who stood at the gates?

35. What names were written?

36. How were the gates distributed?

37. State the number of foundations.

38. By what were they named?

39. What did the angel hold in his hand?

40. For what was it to be used?

41. What was the form of the city?

42. State its dimensions.

43. What was the size of the wall?

44. Of what was the wall made?

45. Of what was the city made?

46. How was the foundation adorned?

47. With how many stones?

48. Of what were the gates made?

49. With what were the streets paved?

50. What furnished the light?

51. Why was there no temple seen?

52. Who will walk in the light of the city?

53. What will the kings bring into it?

54. At what hour will the gates be closed?

55. Why will this he?

56. What shall not be allowed to enter?

57. State who will be permitted to enter.

Revelation Chapter Twenty-One

Ralph Starling

John saw a new heaven and a new earth described,

Adorned in splendid attire like that of a bride.

Places prepared for God’s people

Where there would be no death, sorrow, pain or weeping.

The former things are passed from view,

For God said "I’ll make all things new."

Only those who overcome will not be left,

But fro the unbelievin & ungodly the 2nd death.

Now John is shown "God’s Retirement Home,"

Prepared by Jesus for those who belong.

With brilliance and beauty to startle the eye

And identified to be the Lamb’s wife.

It was a city 1500 mile square & streets of gold,

With walls of jasper & gates of a single pearl,

The foundation of the walls were deep and strong,

And garnished with 12 different jewels of stone.

John said, "I saw no temple or church

For God and the Lamb were there to be worshipped."

With God always there’s no need for light,

For the glory of God kept it always bright.

The 12 gates of pearl were never shut day or night.

No one could enter but those named in the book of life.

For those taht defiled with ungodly ire,

Were banished forever in the lake of fire.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 21". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/revelation-21.html.
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