Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 21:14

And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   House;   Jerusalem;   Jesus Continued;   Lamb of God;   Readings, Select;   Stones;   Walls, of the Cities;   Thompson Chain Reference - Apostles;   Christ;   Disciples;   Future, the;   Heaven;   Heavenly;   Home;   Leaders;   Religious;   The Topic Concordance - Disciples/apostles;   Foundation;   Jerusalem;   Newness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Cities;   Foundation;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jerusalem;   Peter;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Apostle;   Number;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Apostle;   Building;   Church, the;   Create, Creation;   Dead Sea Scrolls;   Elder;   Jesus Christ;   Ministry, Minister;   Mission;   New Jerusalem;   Touch;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Wall;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Apostle;   Noah;   Revelation of John, the;   Thousand Years;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Apostles;   Art and Aesthetics;   Foundation;   Heaven;   Heavenly City, the;   Number Systems and Number Symbolism;   Revelation, the Book of;   Rock;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Church Government;   Ephesians, Epistle to;   Foundation;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Abomination of Desolation ;   Apocalypse;   House;   Lamb;   New Jerusalem;   Numbers;   Revelation, Book of;   Wall;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Apostle;   Gate;   Lamb;   Numbers as Symbols;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Gareb;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Foundations;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Apostle;   Inspiration;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Apostle;   Ephesians, Epistle to the;   Jerusalem, New;   Revelation of John:;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Eschatology;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for February 8;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The wall - had twelve foundations - Probably twelve stones, one of which served for a foundation or threshold to each gate; and on these were inscribed the names of the twelve apostles, to intimate that it was by the doctrine of the apostles that souls enter into the Church, and thence into the New Jerusalem.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations - It is not said whether these foundations were twelve rows of stones placed one above another under the city, and extending round it, or whether they were twelve stones placed at intervals. The former would seem to be the most probable, as the latter would indicate comparative feebleness and liability to fall. Compare the notes on Revelation 21:19.

And in them - In the foundation of stones. That is, the names of the apostles were cut or carved in them so as to be conspicuous.

The names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb - Of the Lamb of God; the Messiah. For an illustration of this passage, see the notes on Ephesians 2:20.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-21.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Revelation 21:14

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

Names on the stones

The twelve apostles of the Lamb are for the most part obscure and hidden figures in the later gospel history. We have often wondered what became of them, and why the record of their toilsome, suffering lives was not preserved. We find them together on the day of Pentecost and a few subsequent days, and then persecution scatters them abroad, and their names, with one or two exceptions, appear no more. Paul, Peter, and John are the only members of the holy brotherhood whose services are honoured with historical recognition, and the rest ere passed over in silence. Tradition, indeed, partly fills up the blank, and imaginative works have elaborated romances to supply the place of history. But it is none the less true that of the labours of the great majority of the apostles there is no trustworthy record whatever. It may be that some of them suffered martyrdom at an early period of their ministry; some, perhaps, were prevented from achieving great success by imprisonment or banishment; while others, like Andrew, may have been men of unobtrusive and retiring nature, and withal of such inferior power, that the results of their labours were too insignificant to gain public notice. Be that as it may, at the very commencement of the Church’s history their names drop out. The names, which no human historian thought worth inscribing, are gathered together by God’s own hand, the dust swept from their obscurity, and stamped in jewelled letters on the foundations of the everlasting walls. The meanest and the humblest names are made equal to the greatest and most honoured.

I. Christ, the Master Builder, writes the name of His servants alongside His own. He takes care that those who have been willing to forget themselves for His sake shall be eternally remembered, and that if they have been in a very small degree companions in His patience, they shall be in a very large degree sharers in His kingdom. The jasper superstructure on which His name shines does not overshadow and obscure the meaner atones on which their names ere written. It rather illumines them by its more brilliant light, and makes the obscure names splendid. “Because He lives, they live also.” They have been co-labourers with Him in His humiliation, and they are joint-heirs with Him in His glory. Now the “Ideal Church” is in this respect quite unique. There is nothing like it in the works and fashion of this world. On the great buildings which men raise only one name is inscribed. The founder or architect is immortalised, the helpers sink into speedy oblivion. Christopher Wren, maya history, built St. Paul’s Cathedral; Michael Angelo, St. Peter’s; and with superb disdain it sweeps all their co-labourers into the dust of forgetfulness. In every battle of the warrior it is the general alone who carries off the palm. And even in great moral and religious works the same rule holds. On the basement of the Reformation building we find only the names of Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, and one or two others. The rest, if they were ever written, have been worn away by the slow abrasion of time. Now were this rule carried out in the building of the Church, we should find no name on the foundation walls but Christ’s. For He was the designer, His throughout was the directing and inspiring mind. It is a city, as John tells us, not earth-built, but coming down out of heaven from God, prepared and adorned throughout by the Divine hand of its builder. His name, therefore, is alone worthy to be inscribed on its walls. But the Master casts aside human rules, and honours His servants after a fashion of His own.

II. The obscure and unrecorded work abides in deathless character, and reappears in immortal glory. When the work of faithful souls is too insignificant to attract the attention of human scribes, God takes the part of historian, and writes the record, not on melting wax or fading paper, but on everlasting stones; or rather, He makes the work live and tell its own tale. Each one of these disciples, whether obscure or renowned, has added one precious stone to the eternal building. Their sorrows and tears and secret prayers, their pleadings of love and self-forgetfulness, their charity and faith and patience, have been thrown into God’s alembic, into God’s refining furnace; and there comes forth in each case a precious stone, with the name of the worker inscribed on it, and it remains for ever “a spectacle unto angels and unto men.” It has taken its place as one of the never-to-be-forgotten facts; and heaven and earth shall pass away sooner than one jot or tittle of its glory shall be diminished. It is well that Christian workers of every kind should lay to heart this joyful lesson, and especially those who are ever complaining that they are labouring in vain, and spending their strength for nought. Such a thing is not possible in the holy building of Christ. No statistics have chronicled our exploits, no human praise has flattered our vanity--that is often all. But God writes success where men write failure. Heaven sees triumphs in what the world calls blanks. The only true history is that which God writes, and His history is made up for the most part of unrecorded facts. Here are the stones on which you laboured, which seemed like clay there, but are now sapphire and chalcedony, all beautiful and complete, the human marks in them made Divine, the lines of mingled light and darkness transfigured into perfect glow; and if you look on them carefully you will find that where you wrote only Christ’s name He has written yours. Most men are trying to write their own names.

III. In the ideal church the lowly and obscure workers have equal recognition with the great and renowned. The most unknown of the apostles are placed in line with the best known. No one would be surprised to find the name of Paul in the foundation stones. We should look for that writ in largest characters of gold. For we know that with mighty signs and wonders he preached the gospel from Illyricum unto Jerusalem, won great trophies for the Master’s kingdom, and laid more stones upon the building than any other worker. But we should hardly look for the names of Andrew, and Thomas, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and the rest, or if we did we should expect to find them writ in letters so small and indistinct as to be scarcely legible. For the part which they took in the great building, if measured by visible results, was quite insignificant. James suffered martyrdom almost as soon as he had put his hand to the work. Andrew was too retiring to do great things. But our text shows that the Divine Master has a grand disdain of all these differences. The great and small, the known and unknown, are equally recognised. The world measures men by their visible triumphs. “All history,” says Carlyle, is at bottom the history of great men, and that means the history of men who have made most noise in the world, and achieved the greatest successes. “It is natural,” says Emerson, “to believe in great men. The knowledge that in the city is a great man raises the credit of all the citizens; but enormous populations, if they be all beggars or all obscure, are disgusting--the more the worse. Our religion,” says he, “is the love and cherishing of these great men.” And this is the best gospel that the world has for those of us who are obscure, who do our work in quiet places. But, thank God, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the gospel for common and obscure men. Its promises of honour are given to the humblest. All that Christ requires is that the one talent should be used as faithfully as the five; that being done, the honour at the end is equal. (J. G. Greenhough, M. A.)

Foundations of precious stones

By engraving upon the “foundations” the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, John emphasises that standpoint, from which we view these foundations as representing the life and power of the Christ as received and manifested by His redeemed people, of whom the twelve apostles are here representative. The Christ becomes the foundation of the city only as He enters in all the fulness of His power and glory into the lives of men. The Incarnation, the Atonement, and the Resurrection uphold and upraise a new world only as they are transformed into vital truth and living force in the waking heart of human life. These precious stones have a human setting, and the brightness of them should and can be found in the lives of men. In brief, they denote all those Diviner qualities and forces that enter into the life of man from the Christ of the Cross. Thus we are led, as we anticipated, to see that John views the “foundations” as an adequate cause for the production of the ideal city. It not only supports the city, but the city must spring forth from it. It already contains the Divine energies by which the New Jerusalem shall be erected. If these foundations are present there can be no difficulty in conceiving a time when the completed city shall stand--the joy of the earth.

1. The preciousness of the foundations is very emphatic. The most precious material things in the world are chosen to symbolise it. John is clear on the point that the ideal city cannot be raised except on foundations of the Divinest quality, on a base where man’s deepest life enters into fellowship with the glory of God. When we apply this principle to modem schemes for the construction of an ideal social life, we find that they disastrously fail to stand the test. For what are the foundations on which many would raise the temple of human glory? They would raise it on the foundations of intellectual advance, of scientific achievement and progress, of industrial invention, of the growth of moral science and art, of the increase of material resources, and of political changes. Alas! the foundations are brass, iron, wood, hay, stubble. No temple of true glory can ever be raised on such a base. The poverty of the foundations would be repeated in an intenser degree in the poverty of the city. The ideal city can stand only on a base of precious stones.

2. Another thought that forces itself upon us is the vastness and comprehensiveness of the foundations of the city. Not only does this city rise like a living growth out of a Divine root, where the most precious forces are encentred, but the preciousness of its base is equalled by its incomparable immensity. “I determined,” said Paul, “not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” There are some that would call this a narrow sphere of action, but that is because they are blind, and cannot see the wonder of God. In Jesus Christ the fulness of the infinite stretches around us, beneath us, and above us. He that would see and feel the power of the immeasurable, let him come hither. There are those that would explain away the incarnation of God by calling it a beautiful fiction. And, having done this they desire to have credit for breadth! They reduce the unspeakable wonder of the Atonement to a human exemplification of heroic fortitude. And then they desire to pose as men of expansive views! Poor fools! Their little horizon has narrowed around them until they can touch it with their outstretched hands. The length, and breadth, and height, and depth of the world has disappeared for them. Their little foundation will not bear the weight of a single human soul, much less the city of God’s coming ages of glory.

3. The manifoldness and variety of the city’s foundations are also set forth graphically in this picture. They are adorned with “all manner” of precious stones. Not only must there be room in the structure of the city of God for a host of variant types, but such variety must of necessity be present in order to give it perfection and fulness. One uniform monotony would be an eternal weariness. So on far-extending and diverse foundations a rich manifoldness of life is based, and tree lives of every mould shall be upreared on the city’s twelve foundations.

4. Our last thought is the homogeneity of the city’s foundations. They are far-extending and various, yet through it all they possess a common nature. They are all “precious stones.” They all pertain to that which is most precious--that is, to that which is Divinest in human life. John will have no admixture of the lower elements of life in the foundations of the city. The gospel of Jesus Christ will to orate no admixture of worldly wisdom or achievement. Such admixture would only destroy its power. Some very clever people have what they call an eclectic religion. They put together stray bits from different religions and call this a collection of treasures. Such a gathering of odds and ends can never be the foundation of the holy city. All that we need is found in Jesus Christ, and in the Jesus Christ whom the apostles proclaimed. (John Thomas, M. A.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Revelation 21:14". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/revelation-21.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,.... Christ is the one and only foundation of his church and people, of the covenant of grace, and of salvation; and of faith, hope, peace, and joy, and of eternal happiness, and so of this glorious state of the church; he will be the light and temple of it, the glory and safety of it; he will be all in all in it; but because he has been ministerially laid as the foundation, by the twelve apostles, for men to build their present and future happiness upon, therefore the foundations of the wall of salvation are said to be twelve; see Ephesians 2:20. Moreover, this may denote the firm and immovable state of the church at this time, it being a city which has foundations, or is well founded, Hebrews 11:10 with which compare Isaiah 14:32. Hence it follows,

and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The Alexandrian copy, Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Arabic versions, read, "the twelve names of the twelve apostles"; the allusion seems to be to the inscribing of the names of builders on stones laid in the foundation, in memory of them; and so these wise master builders will be had in everlasting remembrance.

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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the wall of the city had 12 twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

(12) That is, foundation stones, according to the number of the gates, as is shown in (Revelation 21:19).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-21.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

twelve foundations — Joshua, the type of Jesus, chose twelve men out of the people, to carry twelve stones over the Jordan with them, as Jesus chose twelve apostles to be the twelve foundations of the heavenly city, of which He is Himself the Chief corner-stone. Peter is not the only apostolic rock on whose preaching Christ builds His Church. Christ Himself is the true foundation: the twelve are foundations only in regard to their apostolic testimony concerning Him. Though Paul was an apostle besides the twelve, yet the mystical number is retained, twelve representing the Church, namely thirty the divine number, multiplied by four, the world number.

in them the names, etc. — As architects often have their names inscribed on their great works, so the names of the apostles shall be held in everlasting remembrance. Vulgate reads, “in them.” But A, B, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas read, “upon them.” These authorities also insert “twelve” before “names.”

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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 21:14". "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

Had (εχωνechōn). Masculine present active participle of εχωechō instead of εχονechon (neuter like to τειχοςteichos), and the participle occurs independently as if a principal verb (ειχενeichen) as often in this book.

Twelve foundations (τεμελιους δωδεκαthemelious dōdeka). Foundation stones, old adjective (from τεμαthema from τιτημιtithēmi), here as in 1 Corinthians 3:11.; 2 Timothy 2:19, with λιτουςlithous (stones understood), though often neuter substantive to τεμελιονthemelion (Luke 6:48.; Acts 16:26). See Isaiah 28:16; Hebrews 11:10. Twelve because of the twelve apostles as foundation stones (Ephesians 2:20).

On them (επ αυτωνep' autōn). On the twelve foundation stones.

Names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (ονοματα των δωδεκα αποστολων του αρνιουonomata tōn dōdeka apostolōn tou arniou). Jesus had spoken of twelve thrones for the apostles (Matthew 19:28); names of all twelve are here written, not just that of Peter, as some would argue from Matthew 16:18. As a matter of fact, Christ is the corner stone or ακρογωνιαιονakrogōniaion (1 Peter 2:6; 1 Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 2:20), though rejected by the Sanhedrin (Matthew 21:42.). One may wonder if the name of Judas is on that stone or that of Matthias.

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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 21:14". "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

Foundations ( θεμελίους )

See on the kindred verb θεμελιώσει shaltsettle, 1 Peter 5:10.

In them the names ( ἐν αὐτοῖς ὀνόματα )

The correct reading is ἐπ ' αὐτῶν δώδεκα ὀνόματα, onthem twelve names.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "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 the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb — Figuratively showing that the inhabitants of the city had built only on that faith which the apostles once delivered to the saints.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-21.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 14. And the wall] A wall the Church hath about it, and a well within it, Revelation 21:6; "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse a spring shut up, a fountain sealed," Song of Solomon 4:12. This wall of the Church hath twelve foundations, that is, Christ the only foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11, laid by the twelve apostles; in whose names also the sum of Christian faith is made up in those twelve articles of the creed. Discessuri ab invicem Apostoli normam praedicationis in commune constituunt, saith Cyprian. (De Symbol. Apostol.) The apostles being to be severed into various countries to preach the gospel, agreed upon this as the sum and substance of their sermons. It was called Symbolum, a sign or badge, to distinguish Christians from unbelievers.

Had twelve foundations] Foundation is taken either for Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:11; Matthew 16:16, or for the doctrine of the apostles teaching salvation only by Jesus Christ, as Ephesians 2:20, and here. The Papists have lately added twelve new articles raised out of the Council of Trent, to be believed by as many as shall be saved; as above hath been noted.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-21.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations; the ancient church of God was founded in twelve patriarchs, and twelve tribes; the gospel church in twelve apostles; Christ is the only foundation of both, 1 Corinthians 3:11, but he is the foundation upon which the church: is built. The twelve apostles are called the foundations per quoe or per quos, by which the gospel church had its beginning.

And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; as workmen sometimes set their names upon foundation stones, by which it is made known who were they that builded the wall.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-21.html. 1685.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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.

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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 21:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-21.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

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

The city is founded on the twelve apostles, as was the Temple which comprised the church (Ephesians 2:20). The conjunction of the twelve tribes of Israel with the twelve apostles demonstrates that we have here the true people of God of all ages. ‘The twelve apostles’ signifies the whole apostleship, it is not intended to discriminate who the twelfth apostle may be (whether Matthias or Paul).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-21.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Since there are foundations to the city (cf. Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:13-16), it will be a permanent abode for the righteous in contrast to temporary dwellings that lacked foundations. The foundations may be one on top of each other in layers, but probably each section of the wall, between the gate-towers, has its own foundation. [Note: Wilcock, p208.] As the walls and gates represent protection, so the foundations speak of permanence.

Evidently the church, represented by the apostles (cf. Ephesians 2:20), will be in the New Jerusalem, as will Israel ( Revelation 21:12). However assigning the name of each apostle to a particular foundation stone is as impossible as matching the names of Israel"s tribes with the gates. Even identifying exactly which of the apostles and tribes will receive this honor is impossible now. Note the distinction between Israel and the church even in the eternal state (cf. Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). God had a role for each group and an identity separate from the other in the past and as He does in the present. [Note: Scott, pp433-34; Walvoord, The Revelation . . ., pp322-23; Johnson, p596.] This distinction between the foundations and the walls harmonizes with belief that the church did not replace Israel in the plans of God.

"The combination of the twelve tribes in Revelation 21:12 and the twelve apostles is a way of saying that Israel of old and the Christian church are united in God"s final scheme of things." [Note: Morris, p250.]

Being a covenant theologian, Morris did not mean that Israel and the church will be distinct throughout eternity as different segments of the people of God. He meant that this passage presents Israel and the church as all the people of God united in God"s final scheme of things. However, as a dispensationalist I can accept his statement at face value.

That these are apostles "of the Lamb" again focuses glory on the Lamb in this city.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "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 21:14. From the gates we are next taken to the foundations. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations (comp. Hebrews 11:10). We are not to think of foundations buried in the earth, but of great and massive stones rising above the soil as a pediment sustaining the whole structure. At the same time we have not before us twelve great foundation-stones going round the city in one line, but twelve courses of stones, ‘each course encompassing the city, and constituting one foundation’ (see Revelation 21:19).

And on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. There was one name doubtless on each foundation, but the main point of the figure is that the city rested on the twelve Apostles of our Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:11 is presupposed. The twelve Apostles are ‘Apostles of the Lamb,’ placed by Him in their several positions, and fulfilling in Him their several functions. It ought to be unnecessary to say a single word in refutation of the idea that St. John would not thus have referred to himself as an Apostle had he really been the author of this book. He is not thinking of himself. He is lost in the magnitude and glory of the apostolic office. Nor is the idea in the least degree better founded that it is St. John’s intention, out of hatred to St. Paul, to exclude him from the apostolic office. The whole passage is symbolical; the Jewish imagery could not have admitted thirteen instead of twelve foundations, and St. Paul is no more excluded from the number of Apostles than are Gentile Christians from the happiness of the city.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-21.html. 1879-90.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

The names of the Old Testament faithful have already been set forth in the symbolism of the twelve tribes and we now see the New Testament faithful joined to them under the fiure of the twelve apostles. The foundation stones are listed in more detail in verses 19-20.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-21.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

foundations. Greek. themelios. See App-146.

in. The texts read App-104.

apostles. The twelfth will be Matthias, not Judas, See App-174 and App-189. Twelve is the basic number of the measurements of the city. See App-197 and App-10.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "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 the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Twelve foundations. Joshua, the type of Jesus, chose twelve of the people to carry stones over Jordan, as Jesus chose twelve apostles to be foundations of the heavenly city, Himself being the chief corner-stone. Peter is not the only apostolic rock on whose preaching Christ builds His Church. Christ is the true Foundation: the twelve are foundations only in their apostolic testimony concerning Him. Though Paul was an apostle, besides the twelve yet the mystical twelve representing the Church is retained-namely, three, the divine, multiplied by four, the world-number.

In them (so Vulgate) the names ... As architects inscribe their names on their great works, so the apostles shall be held in everlasting remembrance. 'Aleph (') A B, Syriac, Coptic, Andreas, read, 'upon them.' These also insert "twelve" before "names."

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-21.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) And the wall of the city had . . .—Or, rather, And the wall of the city having twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. There were twelve large stones forming the basement of the wall, the names of the Apostles were inscribed on these. The whole Old and New Testament Church is represented in the appearance of the city; but the work of the Apostles receives its special recognition; it is on their teaching and witness for Christ that the great spiritual Jerusalem is built. There is complete harmony of thought here between St. Paul and St. John. St. Paul described the Church as built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone (Ephesians 2:20). We may compare the same illustration used by our Lord (Matthew 16:18) and afterwards by St. Peter (1 Peter 2:4-6). The argument that St. John could not be the writer of the Apocalypse because he speaks of the Apostles (and so includes himself) as the foundation-stones of the celestial city, might be applied with equal wisdom against the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Ephesians; it is, moreover, a class of argument which betrays a tendency to confusion of thought, and to misapprehension of the meaning and value of symbols. Historically and doctrinally the Church of Christ is built upon the foundations here described; our creeds declare an acknowledgment of a catholic and apostolic Church. Note the recurrence of the name, the Lamb, to describe our Lord. He is still the Lamb; the writer lingers over the well and early known image. (Comp. John 1:29; John 1:36.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-21.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
foundations
19-21; Isaiah 54:11; Hebrews 11:10
and in
18:20; Matthew 10:2-4; 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:10,11; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; 4:11; Jude 1:17
Reciprocal: Genesis 35:22 - Now the sons;  Exodus 24:4 - according;  Numbers 7:84 - the dedication;  1 Kings 5:17 - costly stones;  2 Chronicles 4:4 - It stood;  Matthew 5:14 - a city;  Luke 6:13 - twelve;  Luke 9:48 - he that;  Luke 22:29 - GeneralJohn 1:29 - Behold;  John 17:22 - the glory;  Acts 1:2 - the apostles;  2 Timothy 2:19 - the foundation;  Revelation 12:1 - crown

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "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

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 because gates call for guards at the entrance of an important city, while a foundation is a more fixed part of a structure and does not call for supervision. 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.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". 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 21:14

Revelation 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

By the

twelve foundations

here, we are to understand the fundamental doctrines of Christ's apostles, upon which the true Church of God is built, Christ being the chief corner stone, { Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 6:1-4} And other foundation can no man lay, { 1 Corinthians 3:11} These

twelve foundations

therefore have in them

the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb

that Isaiah, of Christ crucified, among whom Matthias was numbered. { Acts 1:25-26}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-21.html.

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

Revelation 21:14. And the walls of the city had twelve foundations, and upon them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The relation of the foundations to the walls is made out in the most probable way with De Wette, thus: "Every twelfth part of the walls between the several gates had a foundation-stone stretching along the whole length, which was exposed to view."

The first point is, that the walls generally have foundations. This marks their immoveable stedfastness, according to Hebrews 11:10, "For, he looked for a city, which has foundations." The second is, that upon the foundations stand the names of the twelve apostles. This indicates, that the twelve apostles by their immoveable stedfastness hold the foremost place, that they are the noblest bulwark of the church, the main channel through which she derives the protecting grace of God. If still in the new Jerusalem they are the foundation, upon which the security of the church rests as to all conceivable dangers, they must also be through every age of the militant church the bulwark, by which all real assaults are driven back. Berleb. Bible, "This, then, should make the apostolic word acceptable to us." It lets us know, whither we should turn ourselves, if we have not yet come to know it. This passage, and Matthew 19:28, where the twelve apostles appear as the heads of the church in the regeneration, which is all one with the new Jerusalem, alone suffice against those, who maintain that the apostleship was to be a perpetual office, and who expect the deliverance of the church by her submission to the pretended new apostles. The Lord himself, and the disciple whom he loved, knew only of twelve apostles. The twelve apostles for ever, this is the solution with which we meet them on the basis of these passages. The fundamental passage here is Ephesians 2:20, "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.[Note: We can with the less reason deny a reference to the fundamental passages in Paul, since the figure of the foundation-stone is one of which he is particularly fond; θεμέ λιος occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in his writings; θεμέ λιον is found only in Luke and Paul.] In this passage the apostles themselves are distinctly called the foundation stones of the church, proving that their names here also stand on the foundations only because on them in a quite peculiar manner rests the security and stedfastness of the church. The prophets being named along with the apostles, is only an apparent deviation. For, that by the prophets are meant, not those of the Old, but those of the New Testament, that they are personally identical with the apostles, is evident from the parallel passages, ch. Revelation 3:5, Revelation 4:11, and from the considerations formerly advanced on ch. Revelation 1:1[Note: See also Stier's investigations in his Comm. on Ephesians 2:20.]. That the apostles in Ephesians 2:20 are no other than the twelve apostles, might have been established from the passage before us, if it had not been otherwise certain. The fundamental passage in Ephesians again points back to Matthew 16:18.

It has been thought, that as only twelve apostles are here spoken of, Paul must have been left out, and efforts have been made to account for this omission. But that the author of the Revelation reckoned Matthias, and not Paul among the apostles, can be imagined by no one, who has perceived the relation in which the Revelation stands to St Paul—comp. at ch. Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:5, Revelation 3:14, Revelation 17:14, and many other passages, and the remarks made in vol. i., p. 42. This passage, however, itself rests on a Pauline foundation. The appointment of Matthias was indeed made according to the will of God, but it was only a provisional one, as is clear alone from the way in which it took place, and likewise from the external qualifications, which, according to Acts 1:21-22, were alone taken into account, while the internal conditions were uniformly held to be indispensable toward an ultimate appointment. It is clear, too, from the object in view, as declared in Acts 1:22, The more John elevates the prophetical side of the apostolical calling, the farther must it have been from him to regard that appointment as a final one. It stood in force only till the Lord himself should be pleased, by his own immediate choice, to fill up the vacant ground. Matthias is never mentioned again in the history. That what is here attributed to the apostles, does not trench too closely on the honour of Christ, is plain from the simple consideration, that they are designated apostles, messengers, of the Lamb—so Christ is here called on account of the atonement by blood, through which he founded his church (ch. Revelation 19:7). In this way the honour, which is bestowed on them, reverts unconditionally to him; precisely as in Matthew 16:18 the word addressed to Peter as the representative of the apostles, "on this rock will I build my church," was said on the ground of his confession to Christ as the Son of the living God; and as Paul, in Ephesians 2:20, still expressly points to Christ as the proper corner-stone.

Ewald maintains, that every one who is not destitute of all sense of what is proper and becoming, must admit, that the contents of this verse do not consist with "apostolical discretion," and hence that the Apocalypse could not be written by the apostle John. But this objection is sufficiently disposed of by the reference alone to the fundamental passage in the epistle to the Ephesians, and it is not worth while to adduce any farther proof of the point, that the apostles everywhere discover themselves to have been deeply penetrated by a consciousness of the dignity of their office, and that in the Gospel of John also they appear as the spiritual foundation of the whole Christian community (John 17). Such adverse judgments could only be arrived at by men transferring their own doubts regarding the truly divine mission of the apostles to these apostles themselves.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-21.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14.Had twelve strata of foundations—As the gates bore the twelve tribal names, these basal strata bear the twelve apostolic names.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-21.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

, another rough asyndeton.— . . ., a symbolical and corporate expression for the historical origin of the church in the primitive circle of the disciples who adhered to Jesus (cf. on Revelation 22:19). It is not their names but their historical and apostolic position which is in the writer’s mind. The absence of Paul’s name is no more significant than the failure to emphasise that of Peter. For the objective and retrospective tone of the allusion, with its bearing on the question of the authorship, see Introd. § 8. Foundation-stones in an ancient building were invested with high, sacred significance. Here the twelve apostles correspond roughly to the twelve of the Mosaic period (Matthew 19:28, Clem. Rom. xlii.–xliii.).

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 21:14". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-21.html. 1897-1910.