Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 21:16

The 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.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Furlong;   Jerusalem;   Readings, Select;   Reed;   Thompson Chain Reference - Future, the;   Heaven;   Heavenly;   Home;   The Topic Concordance - Jerusalem;   Newness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Cities;   Measures;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jerusalem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Church, the;   Create, Creation;   Dead Sea Scrolls;   Jesus Christ;   New Jerusalem;   Touch;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Furlong;   Wall;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Encampment;   Noah;   Number;   Revelation of John, the;   Temple;   Thousand Years;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Art and Aesthetics;   Heaven;   Heavenly City, the;   Measuring Reed;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Tabernacle;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - New Jerusalem;   Reed ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Gate;   Lamb;   Numbers as Symbols;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Gareb;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Weights and Measures;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Four;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Tabernacle, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Breadth;   Foursquare;   Furlong;   Height;   Measuring Reed;   Reed;   Reed, Measuring;   Revelation of John:;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Eschatology;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The city lieth foursquare - Each side was equal, consequently the length and breadth were equal; and its height is here said to be equal to its length. It is hard to say how this should be understood. It cannot mean the height of the buildings, nor of the walls, for neither houses nor walls could be twelve thousand furlongs in height; some think this means the distance from the plain country to the place where the city stood. But what need is there of attempting to determine such measures in such a visionary representation? The quadrangular form intimates its perfection and stability, for the square figure was a figure of perfection among the Greeks; αντρ τετραγωνος, the square or cubical man, was, with them, a man of unsullied integrity, perfect in all things.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the city lieth four-square - It was an exact square. That is, there was nothing irregular about it; there were no crooked walls; there was no jutting out, and no indentation in the walls, as if the city had been built at different times without a plan, and had been accommodated to circumstances. Most cities have been determined in their outline by the character of the ground - by hills, streams, or ravines; or have grown up by accretions, where one part has been joined to another, so that there is no regularity, and so that the original plan, if there was any, has been lost sight of. The New Jerusalem, on the contrary, had been built according to a plan of the utmost regularity, which had not been modified by the circumstances, or varied as the city grew. The idea here may be, that the church, as it will appear in its state of glory, will be in accordance with an eternal plan, and that the great original design will have been fully carried out.

And the length is as large as the breadth - The height also of the city was the same - so that it was an exact square.

And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs - As eight furlongs make a mile, the extent of the walls, therefore, must have been three hundred and seventy-five miles. Of course, this must preclude all idea of there being such a city literally in Palestine. This is clearly a figurative or symbolical representation; and the idea is, that the city was on the most magnificent scale, and with the largest proportions, and the description here is adopted merely to indicate this vastness, without any idea that it would be understood “literally.”

The length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal - According to this representation, the height of the city, not of the walls (compare Revelation 21:17), would be three hundred and seventy-five miles. Of course, this cannot be understood literally, and the very idea of a literal fulfillment of this shows the absurdity of that method of interpretation. The idea intended to be conveyed by this immense height would seem to be that it would contain countless numbers of inhabitants. It is true that such a structure has not existed, and that a city of such a height may seem to be out of all proportion; but we are to remember:

(a)that this is a “symbol”; and,

(b)that, considered as one mass or pile of buildings, it may not seem to be out of proportion. It is no uncommon thing that a house should be as high as it is long or broad.

The idea of vastness and of capacity is the main idea designed to be represented. The image before the mind is, that the numbers of the redeemed will be immense.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "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 the city lieth four square,.... To the four corners of the world, from whence its inhabitants come, and denotes the regularity, uniformity, perfection, and immovableness of it.

And the length is as large as the breadth; this church state will be all of a piece, perfect, entire, and wanting nothing.

And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs; or fifteen hundred miles; a monstrously large city indeed! such an one as never was upon earth; see Ezekiel 48:35 and which shows, that this is not to be understood literally, but mystically; and intends the capaciousness of it, here being room enough for all the twelve tribes of Israel; that is, for all the elect of God; for as in Christ's Father's house, so in this kingdom state of his, there will be many mansions, or dwelling places, enough for all his people. This city will hold them all. The JewsF8Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 24. 1. say of Jerusalem, that in time to come it shall be so enlarged, as to reach to the gates of Damascus, yea, to the throne of glory.

The length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal. A perfectly uniform state! according to the Ethiopic version, it is in length twelve thousand furlongs, and every measure equal, so that it is so many furlongs in length, breadth, and height.

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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 21:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

14 And the city lieth b foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

(14) The measure and form most equal, in two verses.

(b) A foursquare figure has equal sides, and outright corners, and therefore the Greeks call by this name those things that are steady, and of continuance and perfect.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "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 thousand furlongs — literally, “to twelve thousand stadii”: one thousand furlongs being the space between the several twelve gates. Bengel makes the length of each side of the city to be twelve thousand stadii. The stupendous height, length, and breadth being exactly alike, imply its faultless symmetry, transcending in glory all our most glowing conceptions.

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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 21:16". "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

Lieth foursquare (τετραγωνος κειταιtetragōnos keitai). Present middle indicative of κειμαιkeimai The predicate adjective is from τετραtetra (Aeolic for τεσσαρεςtessares four) and γωνοςgōnos (γωνιαgōnia corner, Matthew 6:5) here only in N.T. As in Ezekiel 48:16, Ezekiel 48:20. It is a tetragon or quadrilateral quadrangle (Revelation 21:12.).

The length thereof is as great as the breadth (το μηκος αυτης οσον το πλατοςto mēkos autēs hoson to platos). It is rectangular, both walls and city within. Babylon, according to Herodotus, was a square, each side being 120 stadia. Diodorus Siculus says that Nineveh was also foursquare.

With the reed (τωι καλαμωιtōi kalamōi). Instrumental case (cf. Revelation 21:15 for καλαμοςkalamos) and for μετρεωmetreō (aorist active indicative here)

Twelve thousand furlongs (επι σταδιων δωδεκα χιλιαδωνepi stadiōn dōdeka chiliadōn). This use of the genitive σταδιωνstadiōn with επιepi is probably correct (reading of Aleph P), though A Q have σταδιουςstadious (more usual, but confusing here with χιλιαδωνchiliadōn). Thucydides and Xenophon use επιepi with the genitive in a like idiom (in the matter of). It is not clear whether the 1500 miles (12,000 furlongs) is the measurement of each of the four sides or the sum total. Some of the rabbis argued that the walls of the New Jerusalem of Ezekiel would reach to Damascus and the height would be 1500 miles high.

Equal (ισαisa). That is, it is a perfect cube like the Holy of Holies in Solomon‘s temple (1 Kings 6:19.). This same measurement (πλατοσ μηκοσ υπσοςplatosβατοςmēkoshupsos) is applied to Christ‘s love in Ephesians 3:18, with bathos (depth) added. It is useless to try to reduce the measurements or to put literal interpretations upon this highly wrought symbolic language. Surely the meaning is that heaven will be large enough for all, as Jesus said (John 14:1.) without insisting on the materialistic measurement of a gorgeous apartment house full of inside rooms.

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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 21:16". "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

Four square ( τετράγωνος )

From τέτρα fourand γωνία anangle. Only here in the New Testament. Compare Ezekiel 48:16, Ezekiel 48:20. Twelve-thousand furlongs ( ἐπὶ σταδίων δώδεκα χιλιάδων ). Strictly, to the length of ( ἐπί ) twelve, etc. For the collective term χιλιάδες thousandssee on Revelation 5:11. For furlongs see on Revelation 14:20. The twelve-thousand furlongs would be 1378.97 English miles. Interpretations vary hopelessly. The description seems to be that of a vast cube, which may have been suggested by the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, which was of that shape. But opinions differ as to whether the twelve thousand furlongs are the measure of the four sides of the city taken together, in which case each side will measure three thousand furlongs; or whether the twelve-thousand furlongs are intended to represent the length of each side. The former explanation is prompted by the desire to reduce the vast dimensions of the city. Another difficulty is raised about the height. Düsterdieck, for example, maintains that the houses were three-thousand stadia in height. The question arises whether the vertical surface of the cube includes the hill or rock on which the city was placed, a view to which Alford inclines. These are enough to show how utterly futile are attempts to reduce these symbolic visions to mathematical statement. Professor Milligan aptly remarks: “Nor is it of the smallest moment to reduce the enormous dimensions spoken of. No reduction brings them within the bounds of verisimilitude; and no effort in that direction is required. The idea is alone to be thought of.”

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "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.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Are equal; that is, of equally magnificent dimensions the height in proportion. The absolute height of the walls is mentioned in the Revelation 21:17.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-21.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

Ver. 16. And the city lieth four square] So was Babylon of old (as Herodotus describeth it), which yet was taken by Cyrus, Alexander, and various other enemies. Heaven also is taken, but by another kind of violence than by force of arms. The solid square whereby it is here set forth commends it to us: 1. For stable and unshaken, Hebrews 12:28. Immota manet, as it is said of Venice, which yet stands in the sea, and hath but one street that is not daily overflowed (the Venetian motto is, Nec fluctu nec flatu movetur). 2. For such as looketh every way to the four corners of the earth, as Constantinople did; which is therefore said to be a city fatally founded to command.

Twelve thousand furlongs] About 300 Dutch miles. Nineveh was nothing to this city for its large size; no more is Alcair, Scanderoon or Cambalu, which yet is said to be 28 miles in circuit, being the imperial seat of the great Cham of Tartary. Quinsay, in the same kingdom, is said to be of all cities in the world the greatest; in circuit a hundred miles about, as Paulus Venetus writeth, who himself dwelt therein about the year 1260. But our New Jerusalem is far larger; 12,000 furlongs (according to some) make 1500 miles; and yet he that shall imagine heaven to be no larger than so, shall be more worthy to be blamed than the workmen were that built Westminster Hall; which King William II, the founder, found great fault with, for being too little; saying it was fitter for a chamber than for a hall of a king of England; and therefore took a plot for one far more spacious to be added unto it. (Dan. Chron.)

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-21.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 21:16

"The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal." There are then three directions or dimensions of human life to which we may fitly give these three names: length, and breadth, and height. The length of a life, in this meaning of it, is, of course, not its duration. It is rather the reaching on and out of a man in the line of activity, and thought, and self-development, which is indicated and prophesied by the character which is natural to him, by the special ambitions which spring up out of his special powers. It is the push of a life forward to its own personal ends and ambitions. The breadth of a life, on the other hand, is its outreach laterally, if we may say so. It is the constantly diffusive tendency which is always drawing a man outward into sympathy with other men. And the height of a life is its reach upward towards God; its sense of childhood; its consciousness of the Divine life over it, with which it tries to live in love, communion, and obedience. These are the three dimensions of a life,—its length, and breadth, and height,—without the due development of all of which no life becomes complete.

I. Consider the length of life in this understanding of the word. Here is a man who, as he comes to self-consciousness, recognises in himself a certain nature. He cannot be mistaken. Other men have their special powers and dispositions. As this young man studies himself he finds that he has his. That nature which he has discovered in himself decides for him his career. He says to himself, "Whatever I am to do in the world must be done in this direction." It is a fascinating discovery. It is an ever-memorable time for a man when he first makes it. It is almost as if a star woke to some subtle knowledge of itself, and felt within its shining frame the forces which decided what its orbit was to be. Because it is the star it is, that track through space must be its track. Out on that track it looks; along that line which sweeps through the great host of stars it sends out all its hopes; and all the rest of space is merely the field through which that track is flung: all the great host of stars is but the audience which waits to hear it as it goes singing on its way. So starts the young life which has come to self-discovery and found out what it has to do by finding out what it is. It starts to do that destined thing, to run out that appointed course. Nay, the man when he arrives at this self-discovery finds that his nature has not waited for him to recognise himself. What he is, even before he knows it, has decided what he does. It may be late in life before he learns to say of himself, "This is what I am." But then he looks back and discerns that, even without his knowing himself enough to have found it out, his life has run out in a line which had the promise and potency of its direction in the nature which his birth and education gave him. But if he does know it, the course is yet more definite and clear. Every act that he does is a new section of that line which runs between his nature and his appointed work. Just in proportion to the definiteness with which he has measured and understood himself is the sharpness of that line, which every thought, and act, and word is projecting a little further, through the host of human lives, towards the purpose of his living, towards the thing which he believes that he is sent into the world to do.

II. Look at the second dimension of life, which we call breadth. I have ventured to call this quality of breadth in a man's life its outreach laterally. When that tendency of which I have just been talking, the tendency of a man's career, the more loftily it is pursued, to bring him into sympathy and relationship with other men—when that tendency, I say, is consciously and deliberately acknowledged, and a man comes to value his own personal career because of the way in which it relates him to his brethren and the help which it permits him to offer them, then his life has distinctly begun to open in this new direction, and to its length it has added breadth. When a man has length and breadth together, we feel at once how the two help each other. Length without breadth is narrow and hard; breadth without length, sympathy with others in a man who has no intense and clear direction for himself, is soft and weak. The man whom the work! delights to find is the man who has evidently conceived some strong and distinct purpose for himself, from which he will allow nothing to turn his feet aside, who means to be something with all his soul, and yet who finds in his own earnest effort to fill out his own career the interpretation of the careers of other men, and also finds in sympathy with other men the transfiguration and sustainment of his own appointed struggle.

III. The height of life is its reach upward towards something distinctly greater than humanity. The height of life, its reach toward God, must be coextensive with, must be part of the one same symmetrical whole with, the length of life, or its reach towards its personal ambition, and the breadth of life, or its reach towards the sympathy of brother-lives. It is when a man begins to know the ambition of his life not simply as the choice of his own will, but as the wise assignment of God's love, and to know his relations to his brethren not simply as the result of his own impulsive affections, but as the seeking of his soul for their souls because they all belong to the great Father-soul—it is then that life for that man begins to lift itself all over, and to grow towards completion upward, through all its length and breadth. That is a noble time, a bewildering and exalting time, in any of our lives, when into everything that we are doing enters the Spirit of God; and thenceforth moving ever up towards the God to whom it belongs, that Spirit, dwelling in our life, carries our life up with it, not separating our life from the earth, but making every part of it while it still keeps its hold on earth soar up and have to do with heaven, so completing life in its height by making it Divine.

Phillips Brooks, The Candle of the Lord, p. 110.


References: Revelation 21:16.—J. B. Heard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 22; R. Collyer, Ibid., vol. xxiv., p. 184; Homiletic Magazine, vol. vi., p. 138, Revelation 21:21.—Talmage, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 280; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 79. Revelation 21:22.—H. Wonnacott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 129; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 401.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/revelation-21.html.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 21:16. (231) ἐπὶ σταδίων δώδεκα χιλιάδων) Thus the Latin Translator reads; for he has, per stadia duodecim millia: but if he had read, ἐπὶ σταδίους δώδεκα χιλιάδας, he would have had to translate, per stadia, duodecim millium.(232) Stupendous magnitude! Alexandria is said by Josephus to have had a length of XXX. stadia, a breadth of not less than X. stadia. According to the same, the circuit of Jerusalem is defined by XXXIII. stadia; that of Thebes, according to Dicæarchus, by XLIII. stadia; that of Nineveh, according to Diodorus Siculus, by CCCC. stadia. Herodotus, in his first Book, says that Babylon had CXX. stadia in each side, and CCCCLXXX. stadia in its circuit, and that its wall was L. cubits thick and CC. cubits high. All the cities in the world are mere villages in comparison with the new Jerusalem. ἐπὶ has here a distributive force, as in tactics, ἐφʼ ἑνὸς, ἐπὶ τεττάρων, ἐπʼ ὀκτὼ, singly, in parties of four [by fours], in parties of eight [by eights]. See Budœus Comm. Linguæ Gr. col. 881. And thus ἐπὶ is used in this verse, but not in the following, and signifies that 12,000 stadia [that is, more than 250 German miles at the least.—V. g.] is the extent of each side of the city, not of the whole circuit.

ἀποστόλων, apostles) They, to wit, belonged to these, who had practised the craft of fishermen at the Lake of Gennesareth.—V. g.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". 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

The church militant, measured by the reed of the word, is unequal in its parts; some parts of it are purer than others; but in the new Jerusalem all parts shall be equal in perfection and purity, as all the sides of a thing four square are equal.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-21.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

двенадцать тысяч стадий Это около 140 кубических миль (примерно 679 км3) или около двух миллионов квадратных миль (примерно 518 млн га), т.е. огромное помещение для жизни всех прославленных святых.

длина и широта и высота Город имеет симметричные размеры правильного куба и напоминает свой земной двойник – внутреннее святилище в скинии и храме (ср. 3Цар. 6:20).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-21.html.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "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

John described the shape and then the size of the city. Its base was square, the same shape as ancient Babylon and Nineveh. [Note: Robertson, 6:473.] The dimensions of this city were12,000 stadia (approximately1,500 miles) on each of its four sides and1,500 miles high. The distance from Dallas, Texas, to Philadelphia or Los Angeles is about1,500 miles.

Beasley-Murray wrote that the reader should not translate this measurement into miles because "it represents the ordinary unit of distance (the furlong) multiplied by the number of God"s people (twelve) and extended indefinitely." [Note: Beasley-Murray, p322.] Beale observed that the size of the city is the approximate size of the Hellenistic world in John"s day and so suggests the inclusion of all the redeemed. He held that the city"s measurements are not literal but symbolic of the inclusion of Gentiles in the true temple and city (the church). [Note: Beale, p1074.] Swete said, "Such dimensions defy imagination, and are permissible only in the language of symbolism." [Note: Swete, p289.] Such interpretations are very subjective and amount to guessing.

This description, understood literally, could allow for either a cube [Note: Mounce, p380; Beasley-Murray, p322; Seiss, p498; McGee, 5:1070-71; Ladd, p282; Swete, p288.] or a pyramid shape, the shape of a Babylonian ziggurat. [Note: Lilje, p267; William Hoste, The Visions of John the Divine, p178; Ironside, p357.] The fact that the holy of holies was a cube tempts one to conclude that the New Jerusalem will also be a cube in shape, but this is speculation.

Probably we should interpret these dimensions literally. Some interpreters believe they only symbolize what the holy of holies in Israel anticipated, namely, a perfect environment in which God dwells. Others hold that they symbolize the fulfillment of all God"s promises. [Note: E.g, Johnson, p596.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "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 21:16. The city itself is first measured. It lieth four square ... the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. It was thus a perfect cube; and, remembering the general imagery of this book, there can be no doubt that the Seer has the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle in his eye. That part of the Tabernacle was a cube.

The symbolism which marks the general shape marks also the details, each dimension measuring 12,000 furlongs, 12 the number of the people of God multiplied by 1000 the heavenly number. It is indeed often supposed that the 12,000 furlongs spoken of are the measure of the four sides of the city taken together, in which case each side will measure only 3000 furlongs. But were this view correct, it would be difficult to account for the insertion of the next clause, And the length thereof is as great as the breadth. That clause would then anticipate the last clause of the verse, whereas it seems to assign a reason why the breadth alone was actually measured. Nor is it of the smallest moment to reduce the enormous dimensions spoken of. No reduction brings them within the bounds of verisimilitude, and no effort in that direction is required. The idea is alone to be thought of.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-21.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

In quadro, Greek: tetragonos, quadrangularis.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

furlongs. Greek. stadion. See Revelation 14:20 and App-51.

length . . . equal. The "holy city" is presented to us as a perfect cube of 12,000 furlongs. In Solomon"s Temple "the Holy of Holies" was a perfect cube of twenty cubits.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "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 city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

Twelve thousand furlongs - `to 12,000 stadia:' 1,000 furlongs being the space between the several twelve gates. Bengel makes the length of each side of the city 12,000 stadia. The stupendous height, length, and breadth being exactly alike, imply its faultless symmetry, transcending in glory all our most glowing conceptions.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "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

(16) And the city lieth foursquare . . .—The city is foursquare, because the length and breadth are equal; but it is added that the height also is equal to the length and breadth, the city thus presents the symbol of perfect symmetry; this is all that is needed. Many interpreters are nervously anxious about the monstrous appearance of a city whose walls measured three thousand stadii (the word rendered “furlongs” is properly stadii); but there is no need to be nervous about the symbols; the city is not designed, any more than the vision of Revelation 4, or the vision of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1) to be represented by painting to the eye: the attempt to do so only ends in the production of grotesque and profane pictures. It is not needful, however, in this case to suppose the actual wall to have been 3,000 stadii in height; the city is placed on a hill, the foundations are upon the holy hill, and the deep strong mountain foundations may be included in the measurement. The main thought, however, is to realise the harmony and proportion of that community, in which broad and low and high will meet, and in which no truth will be exaggerated or distorted; in which no disproportioned adjustments will mar its social order; in which all those who are inbuilt as living stones will be measured, not by the false estimates of worldly thoughts (comp. James 2:4), but by the golden reed of the sanctuary.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-21.html. 1905.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

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

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/foy/revelation-21.html. 1966.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
four square
Ezekiel 48:17,18,20,35
twelve
Ezekiel 48:8-19
Reciprocal: Exodus 38:1 - General1 Kings 6:2 - threescore;  Ezra 6:3 - the height;  Ezekiel 41:4 - twenty cubits;  Ezekiel 41:8 - a full;  Ezekiel 48:30 - the goings;  John 6:19 - furlongs;  John 11:18 - fifteen furlongs

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

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". 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 21:16

Revelation 21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

This holy city, the new Jerusalem, is square,

the length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal

Resembled by Solomon's Temple, { 1 Kings 6:20} God's most holy house, { 2 Chronicles 3:8} the holy Temple in Jerusalem, { Ezekiel 41:1-4} which were figures of the true Jerusalem, and holy City of God. { Hebrews 9:24}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-21.html.

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

Revelation 21:16. And the city lies foursquare, and its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand stadia. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. The purpose to measure the city forms the kernel of this verse, according to the connection with the preceding verse: there, that he might measure; here, he measured. But it is first announced, that the city is foursquare, and that its length is as great as its breadth. Bengel: "This is not mentioned in vain, for it might have been foursquare (four-cornered), and yet have been more in length than in breadth." Being a complete square, the whole circuit was ascertained, whenever one side was measured. But because the height also was of importance, it is added, that the dimensions here were equal to those already given concerning the length and breadth.

A square of a similar kind is formed also by the new city of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 48:16, Ezekiel 48:20. The square was regarded among the ancients as the symbol of the complete, the perfect.[Note: Comp. Heyne, Opuso. I. p. 161: Pythagoraei divinam naturam omninoque omnem perfectionem et absolutionem quadrate adumbant. Simonides, with Plato in the Patagoras, calls the perfect man χερσί τε καὶ ποσὶ καὶ νό ῳ τετρά γωνον, and explains this by ἅ νεν ψύ γου τετυγμέ νον; comp. besides Arist. Eth. I. 10; Rhet. III. 11.] It has respect also to the oecumenical character of the new Jerusalem, indicating that an equal right to it was presented to all the four quarters of the earth.

The length of each side was 12,000 stadia: the twelve, the signature of the church, here multiplied by a thousand, in Revelation 21:17 by itself (see at ch. Revelation 7:4). As the immense extent of the new Jerusalem—300 geographical miles—points to the vast multitude of members belonging to the triumphant church, rendering "many mansions" absolutely necessary, so does the enormous height point to its glory.

People have often been at a loss to comprehend the reason for such vast dimensions—12,000 stadia in length, breadth, and height—and hence have gone about to lessen the measurements. Thus it has been supposed, that the 12,000 stadia announced belong to the circumference of the whole city, and that each side is only to be regarded as extending to 3000 stadia. But it is against this view, that in Ezekiel 48:16, the sides of the city were each measured. Some, again, would understand the height, not of the houses, but of the mountain—of which, however, no mention is made in this connection. Others, still again, would refer what is said of the height to the circumstance, that all the buildings were equally high. But the height is manifestly made equal to the length and the breadth, and the relation of the houses one to another is not the subject of discourse. Then, according to this view, the height of the city would be left indeterminate. Yet we naturally expect a determination respecting this point, as the height of the walls is announced in the next verse. That with the height of the walls that of the city also is announced, is a groundless supposition. Nor can we understand, how in a description, which everywhere rises above the common, any one should think of constraining the particular parts into ordinary bounds.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-21.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16.Twelve thousand furlongs measured the four sides, eight furlongs to the mile, so that its base was 375 miles square. And as breadth and height were equal, it was a cube. It was, therefore, about as truly a house as a city. That this double significance is intended is indicated, not only by its being a tabernacle, but by the fact, suggested by Wordsworth, that the Greek word for gate, , as properly signifies the door of a house.

Nor can we doubt that the structure is an intentional exemplification of the words given by this same St. John, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Alford makes an unnecessary attempt to relieve the city of its cubical shape by assuming that its height is increased by its position being on a height, (like old Jerusalem,) and the measurement being made to the ground. But the exactitude of the statement of the equality of the three dimensions, shows that the cubical form is intended. This house-city is a temple, although it has no temple in it. And so it is (beginning with the idea of a tabernacle) at once a city, a capital, a capitol, a temple, and a royal residence, a palace.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 21:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-21.html. 1874-1909.