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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 21

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Introduction

REVELATION 21-22

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4NKJVNRSVTEVNJB
The New Heaven and the New EarthAll Things Made NewVision of the New JerusalemThe New Heaven and the New EarthThe Heavenly Jerusalem
(Revelation 21:1-5)
Revelation 21:1-4Revelation 21:1-8Revelation 21:1-4Revelation 21:1-4Revelation 21:1-4
Revelation 21:5-8Revelation 21:5-8Revelation 21:5-8Revelation 21:5-8
The New JerusalemThe New JerusalemThe Measuring of the CityThe New JerusalemThe Messianic Jerusalem
Revelation 21:9-14Revelation 21:9-21Revelation 21:9-14Revelation 21:9-21Revelation 21:9-14
Revelation 21:15-21The Glory of the New JerusalemRevelation 21:15-21Revelation 21:15-2
The River and the Tree of Life
Revelation 21:22-5Revelation 21:22Revelation 21:22-5Revelation 21:22-3a
The River of Life
Revelation 22:1-5
Revelation 22:3-5Revelation 22:3-5
The Coming of ChristThe Time is NearEpilogueThe Coming of Jesus
Revelation 22:6-7Revelation 22:6-11Revelation 22:6Revelation 22:6Revelation 22:6-7
Revelation 22:7Revelation 22:7
Revelation 22:8-11Jesus Testifies to the ChurchesRevelation 22:8-9Revelation 22:8-11Revelation 22:8-9
Revelation 22:10-11Revelation 22:10-15
Revelation 22:12-13Revelation 22:12-17Revelation 22:12-13Revelation 22:12-13
Revelation 22:14-15Revelation 22:14-15Revelation 22:14-15Epilogue
Revelation 22:16-17Revelation 22:16-17Revelation 22:16Revelation 22:16
Revelation 22:17aRevelation 22:17
Revelation 22:17b
Revelation 22:17c
A WarningConclusion
Revelation 22:18-19Revelation 22:18-19Revelation 22:18-19Revelation 22:18-19Revelation 22:18-19
I Am Coming Quickly
Revelation 22:20Revelation 22:20-21Revelation 22:20Revelation 22:20Revelation 22:20
Revelation 22:20bRevelation 22:20bRevelation 22:20b
Revelation 22:21Revelation 22:21Revelation 22:21Revelation 22:21

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Revelation 20-22 form the seventh literary unit. Revelation 21-22 conclude the actions of God in human history and initiate the eternal kingdom (cf. Daniel 7:13-14, Daniel 7:27; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28). Revelation 22:6-21 is the conclusion to the entire book.

B. Almost every element in these two chapters is an allusion to (1) Genesis 1-3; (2) Psalms 110:0; or (3) intertestamental Jewish apocalyptic literature.

C. There has been much discussion about the unusual elements in this last section.

1. mention of "the nations" Revelation 21:14; Revelation 22:2

2. mention of "The kings of the earth" Revelation 21:24, Revelation 21:26

3. mention of the "unclean outside the city" Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15

There seem to be several possible reasons for including these elements:

1. John is alluding to OT prophecies. Like the parables in the Gospels, interpreters are not meant to literally interpret the details, but identify the major emphases.

2. John's purpose is to show the ultimate distinctions between the saved and the lost.

3. The "nations" mentioned in this section are used in a general ethnic sense like "the people of God" in Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 21:4 and 22:5.

4. Because of these elements some have seen the saved Jews inside the city and the saved Gentiles outside the city. But, because of Galatians 3:29 and Ephesians 2:11-13, this simply cannot be a viable theological option.

5. I think there is a recapitulation between Rev. 17-19 and Rev. 20-22. This explains the recurrent themes throughout this section.

D. There is one more series of the "seven" found in these two chapters. These are the things that are no more

1. The sea Revelation 21:1

2. Death Revelation 21:4

3. Mourning Revelation 21:4

4. Weeping Revelation 21:4

5. Pain Revelation 21:4

6. Night Revelation 21:25

7. The curse Revelation 22:3

E. As the judgments associated with the Second Coming of Christ are depicted in dramatic fashion in three visions (seals, trumpets, and bowls), possibly heaven is depicted in dramatic fashion in three OT metaphors:

1. The Tabernacle, Revelation 21:1-8

2. New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:9-26

3. The Garden of Eden, Revelation 22:1-5

This may also be true of the Prologue (Revelation 1:1-8), which emphasizes

1. The immediacy of Christ's return

2. The faithfulness of God's words

3. The needed holiness of God's people

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Are believers going to heaven or is heaven returning to a cleansed earth?

2. How is Revelation 21:3 related to the term "Emmanuel"?

3. Why is there no temple in the new Jerusalem (cf. Revelation 21:22)?

4. Who are the people mentioned in Revelation 21:24?

5. How do believers "keep/heed" the words of this prophecy (cf. Revelation 22:7)?

6. If this is heaven who are the evil ones outside the city in Revelation 22:15?

7. Why is Revelation 22:17 so important?

8. Is Revelation 22:18-19 to be taken literally? Could a believer who misinterprets Revelation lose his/her salvation?

9. Three times in Revelation 22:0 it says "I am coming quickly (cf. Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20). Why has it been over 2,000 years?

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 21:1-4 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 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. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

Revelation 21:1 "Then I saw" There is a span of some period of time, how much time depends on your interpretation of "the thousand years" of chapter 20.

"a new heaven and a new earth" This Greek term for "new," kainos, emphasizes quality, not chronological time (cf. Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 21:1, Revelation 21:2, Revelation 21:5). This was an OT theme, a recreated earth (cf. Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; see also Romans 8:18-25; 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12). All believers are citizens of this new Kingdom (cf. Philippians 3:20; Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 12:23) and share this new creation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:24). A parallel theological concept would be the "city of God not made with human hands" of Hebrews 11:10, Hebrews 11:16; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14.

The new creation will be like the initial creation. Heaven may be a restored Garden of Eden. God, mankind, the animals, and all natural creation will fellowship and rejoice again! The Bible begins with God, mankind, and the animals in perfect fellowship in a garden (cf. Genesis 1-2). The Bible ends with God and mankind in a garden setting (cf. Revelation 21-22) and by prophetic implication, the animals (cf. Isaiah 11:6-8; Isaiah 65:25). Believers are not going to heaven; the new Jerusalem is coming down out of heaven (cf. Revelation 21:2) and coming to a recreated and cleansed earth. God and mankind are together again (cf. Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8, Isaiah 8:10; Revelation 21:3).

"for the first heaven and the first earth passed away" There will be a restored creation (cf. Acts 3:21; Romans 8:21; Colossians 1:20), no longer affected by sin (cf. II Baruch 37:6; 2 Peter 3:10-12; Revelation 20:11).

"and there is no longer any sea" There have been several interpretations of this phrase (see note at Revelation 4:6):

1. because the sea is mentioned in Revelation 4:6 as a way of speaking of the holiness of God which separates Him from sinful mankind, some have seen its exclusion here as the restoration of perfect fellowship between God and humanity

2. because in Revelation 20:13 the sea seemed to be one of the three holding places of the dead, it is a way of saying that all of the dead have been assigned to one of two eternal destinies

3. because the first beast in Revelation 13:1 comes out of the sea and there is an allusion to the sea as referring to evil people in Isaiah 57:20, it is possibly the wicked that are no more

4. because Revelation 17:15 is a quote from Isaiah 17:12-13 where the waters stand for people, many assert that it refers to the wicked nations, like Psalms 2:0. I like #1 best.

Revelation 21:2 "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem" Jerusalem in Palestine is called "the holy city" in Isaiah 52:1 (cf. Isaiah 48:2; Isaiah 64:10; Daniel 9:24; Nehemiah 11:1). This new Jerusalem is first mentioned in Revelation 3:12 and alluded to in Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 12:22; and Revelation 13:14. This shows how John took OT prophecies, terms, titles, and promises and applied them to the new people of God. This city is not the old covenant Jerusalem in Palestine as some millennialists have assumed, but the new covenant heavenly Jerusalem.

"coming down out of heaven" There are not two descendings, one in Revelation 21:2 and another in Revelation 21:10. Apocalyptic language is very fluid and should not be structured chronologically, logically, or literally.

"made ready as a bride adorned for her husband" This is an allusion to Isaiah 61:10 (cf. Revelation 19:7). In these last chapters several metaphors are used to describe the people of God: (1) a bride (cf. Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:2); (2) a wedding guest (cf. Revelation 19:9); and (3) a city (cf. Revelation 21:22, Revelation 21:9; Revelation 22:2).

The OT metaphor of YHWH (cf. especially Hosea 1-3) as husband and Israel as bride is the background of the image of the Church as the bride of Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:21-31).

Revelation 21:3 "'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men'" This Greek phrase repeats the OT promises of God dwelling with men in three different ways:

1. it is an allusion to the tabernacle, a symbol of YHWH's presence

2. "He shall dwell among them" is what the term "Immanuel" of Isaiah 7:14 (cf. John 1:14) meant

3. "they shall be His people" is covenant terminology; now all believing people (cf. John 10:16) are God's chosen people (cf. Leviticus 26:11-12; Ezekiel 37:23, Ezekiel 37:27).

Revelation 21:4 "and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes" This is an allusion to Isaiah 25:8 (cf. Matthew 5:4; Matthew 7:17). The new age will be a time of joy, peace, wholeness, and praise!

"and there will no longer be any death" This last enemy (cf. Revelation 20:14) will be destroyed (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:26). Believers will have their new bodies like Christ's resurrected body (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16; 1 John 3:2).

"there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain" This is an allusion to Isaiah 65:19 and also reflects Isaiah 35:10.

"the first things have passed away" The first created order was affected by the Fall (cf. Genesis 3:0; Genesis 6:5, Genesis 6:1-12, Genesis 6:13), but a new order will be unaffected by sin (cf. Hebrews 12:27-28).

Verses 5-8

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 21:5-8 5And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." 6Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Revelation 21:5 "And He who sits on the throne said" God speaks several times in Revelation (cf. Revelation 1:8 and probably Revelation 16:1, Revelation 16:17). There seems to be a purposeful ambiguity as to who sits on the throne, YHWH or Messiah (cf. Revelation 22:3). See fuller note at Revelation 20:11. As the first creation was brought into being by God's (i.e., Father through the Son) spoken word (cf. Genesis 1:3, Genesis 1:6, Genesis 1:9, Genesis 1:14, Genesis 1:20, Genesis 1:24; Psalms 33:6, Psalms 33:9), so also will His new creation.

"I am making all things new" This is the promise of Isaiah 60-66. This refers to the new age of the Spirit, the age of the Messiah, the age of righteousness, which Jesus inaugurated at His first coming and will consummate at His second coming. This is a metaphor for the certainty of God's will becoming a reality (cf. Revelation 1:19; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 17:17; Revelation 19:9).

"these words are faithful and true" This phrase was used to describe (1) Jesus, cf. Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:7, Revelation 3:14; Revelation 19:11; (2) Jesus' followers, cf. Revelation 17:14; and (3) God's word cf. Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:5; Revelation 22:6. Often God is described as "righteous and true" (cf. Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 19:2). The Hebrew thought behind this Greek phrase would imply trustworthiness.

Revelation 21:6 "It is done" This is a perfect active indicative. This could relate to the certainty of God's promises regarding both wrath for unbelievers and deliverance for believers (cf. Revelation 6:11; Revelation 10:7; Revelation 16:17), or the immanence of God's promises (cf. Revelation 1:1, Revelation 1:3; Revelation 3:11; Revelation 10:6; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:10).

"I am the Alpha and the Omega" This is used of God in Isaiah 44:6 and Revelation 1:8; however, it is extremely significant that this phrase, although a title for the Father, is also used for the Messiah in Revelation 1:17 and Revelation 22:13. It is another example of the NT authors applying titles for God to the Son.

There are several inclusive types of phrases which describe God's eternal, unique existence:

1. "the first and the last," cf. Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 22:13

2. "beginning and the end," cf. Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:13; and KJV Revelation 1:8

3. "who is and who was and who is to come," cf. Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8

All of these are related to God's covenant name, YHWH, which is the causative form of the Hebrew verb "to be" (cf. Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 43:13; 46:41; Psalms 90:2; Psalms 93:2).

"I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost" The OT allusion is to Isaiah 55:0. The invitation is for everyone and it is absolutely free (cf. Romans 3:24; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8)! What a tremendous invitation from God Himself of the availability of forgiveness. Mankind's redemption has always been central in the heart and mind of God (cf. Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 14:6-7; Revelation 16:9, Revelation 16:11; Revelation 22:17).

In the OT springs of water are often associated with God providing for the spiritual needs of mankind (cf. Psalms 36:9; Isaiah 12:3; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 49:10; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13; also John 4:10).

Revelation 21:7 "He who overcomes" This is a present active participle, which is a continuing reference to the doctrine of perseverance amidst a time of terrible persecution. This phrase occurs throughout the letters to the seven churches (cf. Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:3, Revelation 3:5, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 3:21), which link the opening chapters of the Revelation to the conclusion. See Special Topic on Perseverance at Revelation 2:2.

"will inherit these things" The reward of inheritance in Revelation 21:7 (cf. 1 Peter 1:4, 1 Peter 1:5; Romans 8:17) and the warnings in Revelation 21:8 are against the backdrop of potential apostasy in an age of persecution. The series of wicked apostates (cf. Revelation 21:8) is somewhat similar to the one found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

"and I will be his God and he will be My son" These are covenant phrases (cf. Revelation 21:3) which are so common in the OT (cf. Exodus 6:7; Exodus 29:45, Exodus 29:46; Leviticus 26:11-12; 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalms 89:26-27; Jeremiah 7:23; Jeremiah 11:4; Jeremiah 30:22; 33:38; Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 14:11; Ezekiel 34:30; Ezekiel 36:28; Hosea 2:23; Zechariah 8:8; Zechariah 13:9) and are also used in the NT (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:16, 2 Corinthians 6:18).

The concept of covenant is probably the unifying theme of the Bible. Mankind has been alienated from God (cf. Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:9-18, Romans 3:23). Mankind cannot find God. God reaches out for us; God is pursuing us! His offer of reunion is one of covenant. He initiates (cf. Jeremiah 31:3; John 6:44, John 6:65); He sets the agenda, but mankind must respond in specified ways. These ways have varied in content (Adam/Eve, forbidden tree; Noah, a boat; Abraham, a land, a son; Moses, a law code), but the form of acceptance, faith in the faithfulness of God, remains the same (cf. Romans 4:0). The Old Covenant had requirements; so does the New (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16, Acts 3:19; Acts 20:21). Mankind must respond both initially and continually in faith, repentance, obedience, service, worship, and perseverance.

See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SON OF GOD at Revelation 2:18.

Revelation 21:8 It is unusual to find this series of sins when judgment has already occurred and the wicked have supposedly been removed (by the victory of Jesus at the Second Coming, cf. Revelation 19:5-21 and the White Throne, cf. Revelation 20:11-15). This is not to say that some believers have not committed these sins but that their lives are not characterized by these sins (cf. 1 John 3:6, 1 John 3:9). This seems to be a literary technique to show the eternal difference between the saved and the lost or an aspect of apocalyptic drama (repeated for emphasis).

"the lake that burns with fire. . .the second death" Obviously the lake of fire is synonymous with the second death or our concept of Hell, which Jesus called Gehenna (a Greek term which does not appear in Revelation). See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Revelation 1:18.

Verses 9-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 21:9-14 9Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Revelation 21:9 "one of the seven angels" This is the exact description of the angel in Revelation 15:1, Revelation 15:6-8; Revelation 16:1; and Revelation 17:1 who poured out the seven bowls. There is a tradition in rabbinical Judaism that there are seven Angels of the Presence who serve God. Here, there is one angel for each plague.

Revelation 21:10 "And he carried me away in the Spirit" This is a literary technique to show the different visions (cf. Revelation 1:10; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 17:3; Revelation 21:10).

"to a great and high mountain" Many believe that this is in direct antithesis to the great whore who was on the plain. However, John alludes to many OT passages, so here he may be referring to the mysterious northern mountain where God lives (cf. Ezekiel 40:2; Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 14:13; Micah 4:1; I Enoch 18:8; 25:3). It is even possible that it alludes to Satan's temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:8.

"and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven" This is heavenly Jerusalem, a metaphor of God's presence (cf. Revelation 21:2). The earthly sinful Jerusalem was discussed in Revelation 11:1-13. The capital city of David has become universalized into the end-time abode of all of God's people (cf. John 14:2-3).

Revelation 21:11 "Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper" The city (cf. Revelation 21:11-27) is described in very beautiful, physical, and moral terms. Like all of the book of Revelation, this chapter is symbolic. Humans' sinful, finite minds simply cannot comprehend the ultimate joy and glory of the presence of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9). Literal jewels and a fantastic ancient city may be good metaphors, but they are not ultimate reality! Heaven is really both a person (Jesus), and a place (for fellowship with the Triune God).

Revelation 21:12 "with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels" This is an allusion to Ezekiel 48:31-34. The number "twelve" occurs again and again in the remainder of this chapter and the first few verses of chapter 22. It is the biblical numerical symbol of organization (twelve months, twelve tribes, or twelve apostles) or of God's people. See Special Topic: the Number Twelve at Revelation 7:4.

"and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel" The list of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7:5-8 is slightly altered to show their symbolic nature. Here, it is very important to note that the OT people of God, described as gates in Revelation 21:12, are united with the NT people of God, described as foundation stones, in Revelation 21:14. There has always been only one people of God, but this mystery was not clearly revealed until the gospel (cf. Ephesians 2:11-13).

Revelation 21:14 "the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" All of these metaphors allude to Ezekiel's end-time temple (cf. Ezekiel 40-48).

Many commentators have asserted that this verse shows that the author cannot have been John the Apostle. However, Paul uses a similar phrase in Ephesians 2:20.

Verses 15-21

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 21:15-21 15The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 16The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 17And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 18The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Revelation 21:15 "The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city" Measuring was used earlier to show God's protection and care (cf. Revelation 11:1-2; Jeremiah 31:38-40; Zechariah 2:1-5). The end-time prophecy of Ezekiel 40:0 also involves measuring.

Revelation 21:16 "The city is laid out as a square" This may be an allusion to the Holy of Holies (cf. 1 Kings 6:19-20), which was also a perfect cube.

The reason that there is no temple (cf. Revelation 21:22) is because God Himself will be the temple. This may be John's way of showing that OT prophecies like Ezekiel 40-48 are symbolic or have been fulfilled in a different way.

"fifteen hundred miles" Literally this is "twelve thousand stadiaone hundred and forty-four cubits." These are multiples of twelve; they do not refer to a literal city, but perfect measurements showing that God is providing the unique atmosphere for permanent joy and fellowship between Himself and His people (cf. John 14:2-3) in a perfect cube symbol like the OT "Holy of Holies."

Revelation 21:18-20 "The material of the wall was" This series of stones may be identified with

1. the stones on the ephod of the High Priest (cf. Exodus 28:17-20), however, the order and names are different. This was not unusual because the names of ancient stones changed from country to country and century to century.

2. the jeweled city of Isaiah 54:11-17

3. the splendor of the king of Tyre (or Satan) conveyed in royal (or heavenly) jewels in Ezekiel 28:12-13

4. the Zodiac, but presented in reverse order (Philo and Josephus)

Revelation 21:21 "And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl" This is symbolic. It goes back to the rabbinical traditions of the Talmud, "the Sanhedrin" 100a, which states that the end-time city gates would be made out of a single stone 45 feet tall.

"And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass" This is symbolic. We must realize that God's city is not simply human opulence, but symbolizes the inestimable value and purity of God's presence.

Verses 22-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 21:22-27 22I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; 26and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Revelation 21:22 "I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple" This is highly unusual when compared with the numerous passages in Revelation where a heavenly temple is depicted (cf. Revelation 3:12; Revelation 7:15; Revelation 11:1, Revelation 11:2, Revelation 11:9, Revelation 11:19; Revelation 14:15, Revelation 14:17; Revelation 15:5, Revelation 15:6, Revelation 15:8; Revelation 16:1, Revelation 16:17). This same concept of a temple in heaven is revealed in the book of Hebrews (cf. Revelation 8:2-5; Revelation 9:11,23-24.)

"the Lord God the Almighty" Here again are the three most used OT titles for God (YHWH, Elohim and El Shaddai) used in combination (cf. Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7; see Special Topic: Names for Deity at Revelation 1:8) to show the majesty of Him who sits on the throne. Notice His close connection with the Lamb of Revelation 5:0. They reign together and there is only one throne (cf. Revelation 22:1, Revelation 22:3).

Revelation 21:23 "the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb" The glory of the Father and Son is all the illumination that is needed (cf. Psalms 36:9; Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 60:19-20; Zechariah 14:6-7 and also Revelation 22:5). This is possibly a way of emphatically rejecting astral worship.

Revelation 21:24 "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it" It is very difficult to understand why "the nations" are still mentioned in this post-White Throne section of Revelation. It may simply be an OT allusion to Psalms 72:10-11; Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 60:15, Isaiah 60:16. It is not literal, but literary! It represents all the peoples from all the tribes and nations who make up the people of God.

Revelation 21:25 "In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed" This is an allusion to Isaiah 60:11 or Zechariah 14:6-7. The concept of darkness in the Bible is often a metaphor for evil (cf. Matthew 6:23; Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30). Light and dark were especially important symbolic theological contrasts for John (cf. John 1:4-5, John 1:7-9; John 3:19-21; John 8:12; John 11:9-10; John 12:35-36, John 12:46; 1 John 1:5-7; 1 John 2:8-11). The gates never close symbolizing openness, availability, no fear of attack.

Revelation 21:27 "nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying" This is an allusion to Isaiah 52:1; Ezekiel 44:9; Zechariah 14:21 which seems to be a literary technique showing the ultimate difference between God's people and those of the evil one (cf. Revelation 21:24). The new age is characterized in the lighter, open city, a city of complete righteousness. There is no evil present!

"written in the Lamb's book of life" This metaphorical phrase "the book of life" is also found in Revelation 20:12-15, where two books are mentioned:

1. the book of life, which is made up of the names of God's people (cf. Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28; Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27)

2. the book of deeds or remembrances which records both wicked and righteous deeds (cf. Psalms 56:8, Psalms 139:16; Isaiah 65:6; Malachi 3:16)

These are metaphorical of God's perfect memory.

Revelation 22:0

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Revelation 21". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/revelation-21.html. 2021.
 
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