Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 21:12

It 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.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Gates;   Israel;   Jerusalem;   Readings, Select;   Walls, of the Cities;   Thompson Chain Reference - Future, the;   Heaven;   Heavenly;   Home;   The Topic Concordance - Jerusalem;   Newness;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jerusalem;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Apostle;   Number;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Church, the;   Create, Creation;   Dead Sea Scrolls;   Elder;   Jesus Christ;   New Jerusalem;   Touch;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Wall;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - House;   Noah;   Revelation of John, the;   Shewbread;   Temple;   Thousand Years;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Art and Aesthetics;   Heaven;   Heavenly City, the;   Number Systems and Number Symbolism;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Gate;   Gate (2);   Israel;   New Jerusalem;   Numbers;   Wall;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Apostle;   Children;   Gate;   Lamb;   Numbers as Symbols;   Tribes, the Twelve;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Gareb;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Ate;   Twelve;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Apostle;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Jerusalem, New;   Revelation of John:;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Eschatology;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Had a wall great and high - An almighty defense.

Twelve gates - A gate for every tribe of Israel, in the vicinity of which gate that tribe dwelt; so that in coming in and going out they did not mix with each other. This description of the city is partly taken from Ezekiel 48:30-35.

In Synopsis Sohar, p. 115, n. 27, it is said: "In the palace of the world to come there are twelve gates, each of which is inscribed with one of the twelve tribes, as that of Reuben, of Simeon, etc.: he, therefore, who is of the tribe of Reuben is received into none of the twelve gates but his own; and so of the rest."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And had a wall great and high - Ancient cities were always surrounded with walls for protection, and John represents this as enclosed in the usual manner. The word “great” means that it was thick and strong. Its height also is particularly noticed, for it was unusual. See Revelation 21:16.

And had twelve gates - Three on each side. The number of the gates correspond to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and to the number of the apostles. The idea seems to be that there would be ample opportunity of access and egress.

And at the gates twelve angels - Stationed there as guards to the New Jerusalem. Their business seems to have been to watch the gates that nothing improper should enter; that the great enemy should not make an insidious approach to this city as he did to the earthly paradise.

And names written thereon - On the gates.

Which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel - So in the city which Ezekiel saw in vision, which John seems also to have had in his eye. See Ezekiel 48:31. The inscription in Ezekiel denoted that that was the residence of the people of God; and the same idea is denoted here. The New Jerusalem is the eternal residence of the children of God, and this is indicated at every gate. None can enter who do not belong to that people; all who are within are understood to be of their number.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-21.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And had a wall great and high,.... Not the Spirit of God, who separates, sanctifies, and preserves the saints, as Cocceius thinks, for this account respects not the church militant; nor the eternal decree of God, the unpassable gulf between heaven and hell, which everlastingly fixes the state of men; for this regards not the ultimate state of happiness: many interpreters understand it of the doctrine of the Gospel, which, as it secures the church now from heretics, and is like a wall very strong and well built, is durable and impregnable; and may be called "great", because of the great Author of it, and the great things contained in it; and "high", since it is not to be reached by carnal minds; so none but such who have embraced it shall enter into the new Jerusalem; for all liars, and forgers of doctrinal lies, and who embrace the antichristian lies, shall be without. Though rather the almighty power of God, which guards his church and people now, and will be their defence in this state, is meant; and which shows the state not to be that of the ultimate glory, which will need no wall, but this will; since an attempt will be made upon the saints in it, though it will be a foolish and fruitless one: and this wall of divine power is very great indeed, and is insuperable by men; God himself is a wall of fire about his people; though it may be best to interpret this of salvation itself, which is by Jesus Christ, if we compare with this text Isaiah 26:1 for those, and those only, who are interested in it, will dwell in the new Jerusalem; and salvation in this state will be enjoyed in its fulness; and this is very great in its author, objects, and matter, being wrought out by the great God, for great sinners, at a great expense, and including grace and glory, and not to be got over or enjoyed by those who have no interest in it.

And had twelve gates; though, strictly speaking, there is but one gate, and that a strait one, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, his person, blood, righteousness, regenerating and sanctifying grace; for as he is the only door into the sheepfold, the church, in its present state, or he only that has faith in him has a right to enter there, and is the only way to heaven and eternal happiness; so he is the only gate into the new Jerusalem, or such only will be admitted there, who are interested in him: but these gates are said to be twelve, in allusion to the twelve apostles, who pointed out to men the way of salvation by Christ; and to the twelve tribes of Israel, who represent all the elect of God, who enter in thereat; and to the twelve gates of Ezekiel's city, Ezekiel 48:31.

And at the gates twelve angels; meaning either the ministering spirits, in allusion to the cherubim in Genesis 3:24 who are watchers, and encamp about the saints now, and will, as it were, stand sentinels in this camp of the saints, as it is called, Revelation 20:8 and besides, will be made use of in gathering the saints from the several parts of the world, and introducing them into this state; or else the apostles and ministers of the word, often called angels in this book, who will shine with peculiar lustre now, and will appear at the head of the several companies they have been useful to, and bring them as their joy and crown of rejoicing into this glorious state: this clause is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Syriac version. The Jews speak of שרים, "princes", being appointed over the gates of heaven, east, west, north, and south, with the keys in their hands, whose names they give usF6Raziel, fol. 35. 2. .

And names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; not literal, but mystical Israel, whom God has chosen to salvation, Christ has redeemed by his blood, and the Spirit calls by his grace; denoting that all, and each of these, have a right to enter into the new Jerusalem, and will be admitted there, and none but they. In like manner the JewsF7Zohar in Numb. fol. 70. 4. make mention of a court of the Lord,

"which has twelve gates, according to the computation of the tribes of Israel; on one gate is written Reuben, on another is written Simeon; and so all the tribes of Israel are written on those gates; in the time they go up to appear before the Lord of the world, whoever goes up to this gate, (on which the tribe of Reuben is written,) if he is of the tribe of Reuben they open to him, (and receive him,) if not they cast him without; and so of all whom they do not receive; they open to none but to him who is of that tribe, or whose name is written on the gate.'

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

9 And had a wall great and high, [and] had 10 twelve gates, and at the gates 11 twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

(9) A particular description of the celestial Church, first, by its essential parts, compared to a city down to verse 22, (Revelation 21:12-22). Secondly, from the outside, to the end of the chapter (Revelation 21:23-27). Thirdly, by the effects, in the beginning of the next chapter, the essential parts are noted the matter and the form in the whole work: of these the superstructure and foundation of the wall are entire parts (as they use to be called) which parts are first described in figure, to the 14th verse afterwards more exactly.

(10) According to the number of the tribes. For here the outward part is attributed to the Old Testament, and the foundation of the New Testament.

(11) He means the prophets, who are the messengers of God, and watchmen of the Church.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-21.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

And — A and B omit. Ezekiel 48:30-35, has a similar description, which implies that the millennial Jerusalem shall have its exact antitype in the heavenly Jerusalem which shall descend on the finally regenerated earth.

wall great and high — setting forth the security of the Church. Also, the exclusion of the ungodly.

twelve angels — guards of the twelve gates: an additional emblem of perfect security, while the gates being never shut (Revelation 21:25) imply perfect liberty and peace. Also, angels shall be the brethren of the heavenly citizens.

names of  …  twelve tribes — The inscription of the names on the gates implies that none but the spiritual Israel, God‘s elect, shall enter the heavenly city. As the millennium wherein literal Israel in the flesh shall be the mother Church, is the antitype to the Old Testament earthly theocracy in the Holy Land, so the heavenly new Jerusalem is the consummation antitypical to the spiritual Israel, the elect Church of Jews and Gentiles being now gathered out: as the spiritual Israel now is an advance upon the previous literal and carnal Israel, so the heavenly Jerusalem shall be much in advance of the millennial Jerusalem.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-21.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Having a wall great and high (εχουσα τειχος μεγα και υπσηλονechousa teichos mega kai hupsēlon). John returns, after the parenthesis in Revelation 21:11, to the structure in Revelation 21:10, only to use the accusative εχουσανechousan as before to agree with πολινpolin but the nominative εχουσαechousa as again with “twelve gates” (πυλωνας δωδεκαpulōnas dōdeka). ΠυλωνPulōn is an old word (from πυληpulē gate) for a large gate as in Luke 16:20 and six times in Rev for the gate tower of a city wall (Revelation 21:12, Revelation 21:13, Revelation 21:15, Revelation 21:21, Revelation 21:25; Revelation 22:14) as in 1 Kings 17:10; Acts 14:13. See Ezekiel 48:31. for these twelve gates, one for each tribe (cf. Revelation 7:1-8).

At the gates (επι τοις πυλωσινepi tois pulōsin). “Upon the gate towers.”

Twelve angels (αγγελους δωδεκαaggelous dōdeka). As πυλωροιpulōroi or πυλακεςphulakes according to Isaiah 62:6; 2 Chronicles 8:14.

Names written thereon (ονοματα επιγεγραμμεναonomata epigegrammena). Perfect passive participle of επιγραπωepigraphō are the names (α εστινha estin). Just as in Ezekiel‘s vision (Ezekiel 48:31.), so here the names of the twelve tribes of Israel appear, one on each gate.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-21.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

And had ( ἔχουσάν τε )

Rev., more simply and literally, having.

Gates ( πυλῶνας )

Properly large gates. See on Luke 16:20; see on Acts 12:13. Compare Ezekiel 48:30sqq.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-21.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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 the children of Israel:

Twelve angels — Still waiting upon the heirs of salvation.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-21.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

angels

(See Scofield "Hebrews 1:4").

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Revelation 21:12". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/revelation-21.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

12 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 the children of Israel:

Ver. 12. And had a wall] Far better than that of Babylon. Indeed this celestial China needs no wall to divide it from the Tartars; this is Arabia Felix, the people whereof live in security, and fear no enemy. They are in a far happier condition than the people of Tombutum in Africa, which are said to spend their whole time in singing and dancing.

And had twelve gates] Thebes had a hundred gates, and was therefore called εκατομτυλος, but nothing so well set and so commodious for passengers as this city with twelve gates.

Twelve angels] As porters to let in, not as swordsmen to keep out, as the angel that stood sentinel at the porch of Paradise, Genesis 3:24.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-21.html. 1865-1868.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 21:12. ἔχουσα) Respecting the nominative case see Apparat. p. 778.(230)τεῖχος πυλῶνας, a wallgates) An inverted Chiasmus: comp. Revelation 21:12-13 with Revelation 21:14.— ἐπὶ) Here it is said ἐπὶ πυλῶσιν ὀνό΄ατα But Ezekiel 48:31, αἱ πύλαι ἐπʼ ὀνό΄ασι τῶν φυλῶν τοῦ ἰσραήλ. ἐπὶ ( עַל) has a variety of meaning; it does not mean a higher place only.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-21.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And had a wall, that is, this city, by which is meant the church of God,

had a wall great and high. Walls are for the protection and defence of a place; the higher and greater they are, the greater defence and protection they give. By this God is meant, who is often called his people’s Rock and Defence.

And had twelve gates: the use of the gates of a city, are to let persons in and out. The church is said to have twelve gates, because of the free liberty of access to the church while it was militant, and to signify that the church in heaven will be made up of persons come into it from all parts; or for the greater state and glory of it. Some think, because of the twelve apostles, who were the first ministers of the gospel who admitted men into this church.

And at the gates twelve angels; denoting the guard of angels about the church; unless by angels ministers be to be understood, proportioned to the several parts of the church.

And names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; because as, of old, only the twelve tribes of God’s chosen people Israel made up the church in that period; so only God’s elect and peculiar people, typified by that Israel, come in at the gates of this church. It is very observable, how God affects the number of twelve in the affairs of his church.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-21.html. 1685.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-21.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The city"s wall with12gate-towers was what caught John"s attention next. The city evidently looked square ( Revelation 21:16). Its high walls suggest its security and inviolability. Certainly its inhabitants will need no defense from attacking enemies there. The12gate-towers (Gr. pylon, cf. Luke 16:20) stood three on each side ( Revelation 21:13). The gate-towers provided access into the city. In the case of this city, the many gate-towers also suggest great freedom of access.

The angelic guards also present a picture of great security (cf. Genesis 3:24; Isaiah 62:6). The names were apparently on the gates, not on the angels stationed beside them (cf. Ezekiel 48:31-34). Ezekiel 48:31-34 describes Jerusalem in the Millennium, not in the new earth. The fact that each gate-tower bears a name of one of Israel"s tribes probably indicates that Israel will have a distinctive identity and role in this city, as it had through history (cf. Revelation 7:1-8). [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p463.] God will perpetuate the memory of Israel throughout eternity.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-21.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 21:12. Having a wall great and high, having twelve gates. The walls of ancient cities were for protection against enemies, and of such protection there was no need here. But so important in this respect were walls, that they were associated in the ancient mind with every-thing that in a city was brave or bold (comp. Psalms 48). Hence the New Jerusalem has not only a wall, but a wall ‘great and high.’—It has also twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels. The word translated ‘gate’ is not so much the gate itself as the porch or portal with which it was connected (comp. Matthew 26:71). It includes the gate - tower under which the traveller passes at this day into many an Eastern city. These gates were twelve in number, disposed like the gates of the encampment of Israel around the Tabernacle. The angel at each gate in all probability marks the heavenly protection which is extended by the Almighty to His people, of each of whom it may be said that God ‘gives His angels charge concerning’ him.

And names written thereon which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. These twelve tribes represent the whole people of God, Gentile as well as Jew: and, if so, we have an argument powerfully corroborative of what has been said of the 144,000 sealed ‘out of every tribe of the children of Israel’ in chap. 7. The figure itself is from Ezekiel 48:31.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-21.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

And. Omit.

had = having.

twelve gates. Compare Ezekiel 48:31-34. Both John and Ezekiel wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, and their specific descriptions refer to different cities. See Revelation 21:9.

at. Greek. epi. App-104.

children. App-108.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-21.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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 the children of Israel:

And. 'Aleph (') A B omit. Ezekiel 48:30-35, similarly, which implies that the millennial Jerusalem shall have its antitype in the heavenly Jerusalem descending on the finally-regenerated earth.

Wall great and high - the security of the Church. Also, the exclusion of the ungodly.

Twelve angels - guards of the twelve gates: an additional emblem of perfect security; while the gates being never shut (Revelation 21:5), imply perfect liberty and peace. Also, angels shall be brethren of the heavenly citizens.

Names of the twelve tribes. The inscription of the names on the gates implies that none but spiritual Israel, God's elect, shall enter. As the millennium, wherein literal Israel in the flesh shall be mother church, is antitype to the Old Testament earthly theocracy in Canaan, so the heavenly Jerusalem is the consummation antitypical to the spiritual Israel, the elect Jews and Gentiles being now gathered out: as spiritual Israel now is an advance upon the previous literal Israel, so the heavenly Jerusalem shall be much in advance of the millennial Jerusalem.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-21.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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 the children of Israel:
a wall
17-20; Ezra 9:9; Nehemiah 12:27; Psalms 51:18; 122:7
twelve gates
21,25; Isaiah 54:12; 60:18; Ezekiel 48:31-34
twelve angels
Matthew 18:10; Luke 15:10; 16:22; Hebrews 1:14
and names
7:4-8; Numbers 2:2-32; Acts 26:7
Reciprocal: Exodus 28:21 - according to the twelve;  Exodus 39:14 - General1 Kings 18:31 - twelve stones;  2 Chronicles 9:19 - twelve lions;  Ezra 6:17 - according to;  Song of Solomon 8:9 - a wall;  Isaiah 26:1 - salvation;  Ezekiel 40:5 - a wall;  Ezekiel 42:20 - five hundred;  Matthew 10:1 - called;  Matthew 19:28 - the twelve;  Ephesians 2:19 - but

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-21.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The dimensions of the wall will be noticed at verses16,17, 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.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-21.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 21:12

Revelation 21:12-13 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 the children of Israel: 13On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

A wall is principally for defence, and also for ornament; so the wall of the new Jerusalem was great and high, garnished with all manner of precious stones. { Revelation 14:11-18}

And had twelve gates

every several gate of one pearl. The wall was one hundred forty and four cubits { Revelation 21:17} in breadth, and twelve thousand furlongs in length, { Revelation 21:16} which signifies the greatness of the new Jerusalem.

And at the gates twelve angels

they are the holy watchers, who safe keep the city.

And names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel.

Read Isaiah 60:18-20 Thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-21.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 21:12. It had a wall great and high, it had twelve gates, and upon the gates twelve angels, and names written thereupon, which are the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. The chief object of walls around a city is every where to give security to the city. A wall is therefore often employed in the Old Testament as an image of protection and safety—comp., for example, 1 Samuel 25:16; Proverbs 18:11; Ezekiel 22:30; Zechariah 2:5, "I will be a wall of fire to her round about," Isaiah 26:1. This being the one grand object of city walls, no other view of them can be brought into notice here. If any other had been contemplated, it would certainly have been indicated as one, not naturally presenting itself. The predicates great and high strengthen this view; the former referring to the length, thickness, and height, and the latter, the height, being besides specially noticed, as a point that was peculiarly prominent in them. Viewed in respect to their protecting quality, walls are of importance chiefly on account of their greatness and height. So that by the walls here great and high is represented the security of the new Jerusalem, against all hostile assaults, with which the old Jerusalem, the militant church, was so sorely beset in the latter days (comp ch. Revelation 20:9); or the idea is exhibited of the divine protection, on which the church's security rests. The old Jerusalem had wanted walls great and high—comp. Ezekiel 38:11, where Gog and Magog come up against those "who dwell without walls, and have neither bars nor gates." The dangers, besides, against which the walls great and high protect, could be no real, but only conceivable and possible ones. For, no enemies any longer exist by whom the city could be assailed. These have all been cast for ever into the lake of fire.

According to Revelation 21:17, the height of the walls is immensely less than that of the city. But the height of the walls is to be viewed in respect to their design. A wall 144 cubits high is as high as a wall generally can be from its design: any further height would be altogether superfluous.

The walls around the temple of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 40:5, are not to be compared. These had another design, as we learn from Ezekiel 42:20, in conformity with which they were not, like these, great and high.

The walls great and high embody the promise given in Isaiah 54:14, "Thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee."

The signification of the gates is plain from ch. Revelation 22:14. They serve for an entrance to the citizens into the new Jerusalem. Bengel: "The number twelve occurs in this verse thrice, and frequently afterwards, Revelation 21:14; Revelation 21:16; Revelation 21:21, Revelation 22:2."

As the employment of the angels on the gates is not distinctly stated, they could only be brought into notice here with reference to their main business, the protection of the righteous (comp. Psalms 91:11; Matthew 18:10; Luke 16:22; Hebrews 1:14). This is strengthened by the manifest parallelism of the angels on the gates with the walls great and high. The gates stand constantly open, according to Revelation 21:25. Twelve points are given in them, where the protection of the walls great and high ceases, and where protection of another kind must enter, so that nothing of a hostile nature might pass into the city. The angels, accordingly, like the walls, are a symbol of the divine protection against all enemies, such namely as the fancy, filled with terrors originating in the militant state of the church, might figure to itself: for real enemies are no longer to be found in the new Jerusalem.

Isaiah 62:6 cannot be compared. For there the watchmen, whom the prophet represents as placed on the walls of Jerusalem, are not angels, but the ideal representatives of believers, with whom he associates himself in prayer for their salvation.

According to Ezekiel 48:31-34, the new Jerusalem has twelve gates, according to the names of the children of Israel, three on each side. The same object, which is served in Ezekiel by the correspondence between the gates and the tribes, is served here by the names of the twelve tribes on the gates of the city. It indicates, that the new Jerusalem is "a great unity having its root in God," the last form of the holy catholic church, the union of the head with all his true members; and therefore meets the narrow-mindedness which now in the militant church would single out some particular part and set it forth as the true church of Christ, reproves the envy of Ephraim against Judah, and the hatred of Judah against Ephraim (Isaiah 11:13). That this thought should be expressed here in the particular form it bears, that the church in all its parts should be denoted by the twelve tribes of the children of Israel, who are naturally spoken of, not in a Jewish, but in an Israelitish-Christian sense, points to the venerable continuity of the church, and is a decisive proof against the modern idea of the antagonism between Judaism and Christianity. Bengel: "The names of the twelve tribes were formerly engraven on the precious stones worn on the high-priests' breast; but here the names of the apostles are upon the precious stones or foundations of the city, and the names of the twelve tribes upon the gates themselves, Ezekiel 48:31." The names of the twelve apostles guard against the misapprehension of the twelve tribes of Israel, and shew that these are spoken of not in the Jewish, but in the Israelitish-Christian sense. For, the apostles were Christ's ambassadors to all nations, Matthew 28:19.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-21.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

12.Twelve gatesThree, four, and twelve are the predominant numbers; of the last, the twelve tribes are expressly said to be the basis. And the twelve tribes are symbolically the eternal Israel of this eternal city and land. They form the nations of its blessed territory.

Twelve angels—The porters of the twelve gates, which are, however, ever open. The angel warders, doubtless, see that the citizens of each tribe from the rural regions enter the gate over which its own tribal name is inscribed. There is a divine order, a well organized polity, in this new land and capital. Anarchy belongs to the other place.

 

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-21.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

. The constr. becomes still more irregular, the participles agreeing with an imaginary nominative, , sugg. by . The inscribed names denote the catholicity of the church and its continuity with the ancient people of God. A writer who could compose, or incorporate, or retain (as we choose to put it), passages like Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 14:4, is not to be suspected of particularism here. Even on the score of poetic congruity, the new Jerusalem implied such an archaic and traditional allusion to the twelve tribes. The angelic guardians of the gates are an Isaianic trait added to the Ezekiel picture.

 

 

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 21:12". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-21.html. 1897-1910.