Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 21:17

And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Cubit;   Jerusalem;   Readings, Select;   Walls, of the Cities;   Thompson Chain Reference - Cubits;   Future, the;   Heaven;   Heavenly;   Home;   The Topic Concordance - Jerusalem;   Newness;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jerusalem;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Measurement;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Church, the;   Create, Creation;   Dead Sea Scrolls;   Jesus Christ;   New Jerusalem;   Touch;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Wall;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Noah;   Number;   Thousand Years;   Weights and Measures;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Art and Aesthetics;   Heaven;   Heavenly City, the;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Weights and Measures;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apocalypse;   New Jerusalem;   Wall;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Gate;   Lamb;   Numbers as Symbols;   Weights and Measures;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Gareb;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Measure;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Cubit;   Revelation of John:;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Eschatology;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The wall - a hundred and forty and four cubits - This is twelve, the number of the apostles, multiplied by itself: for twelve times twelve make one hundred and forty-four.

The measure of a man, that is, of the angel - The cubit, so called from cubitus, the elbow, is the measure from the tip of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, and is generally reckoned at one foot and a half, or eighteen inches; though it appears, from some measurements at the pyramids of Egypt, that the cubit was, at least in some cases, twenty-one inches.

By the cubit of a man we may here understand the ordinary cubit, and that this was the angel's cubit who appeared in the form of a man. Or suppose we understand the height of the man as being here intended, and that this was the length of the measuring rod. Now allowing this height and rod to be six feet, and that this was intended to have some kind of symbolical reference to the twelve tribes, mentioned Revelation 21:12, represented by the twelve gates; and to the twelve apostles, represented by the twelve thresholds or foundations; then twenty-four, the number of the tribes and apostles, multiplied by six, make precisely the number one hundred and forty-four.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And he measured the wall thereof - In respect to its “height.” Of course, its length corresponded with the extent of the city.

An hundred and forty and four cubits - This would be, reckoning the cubit at eighteen inches, two hundred and sixteen feet. This is less than the height of the walls of Babylon, which Herodotus says were three hundred and fifty feet high. See the introduction to chapter 13 of Isaiah. As the walls of a city are designed to protect it from external foes, the height mentioned here gives all proper ideas of security; and we are to conceive of the city itself as towering immensely above the walls. Its glory, therefore, would not be obscured by the wall that was thrown around it for defense.

According to the measure of a man - The measure usually employed by men. This seems to be added in order to prevent any mistake as to the size of the city. It is an “angel” who makes the measurement, and without this explanation it might perhaps be supposed that he used some measure not in common use among people, so that, after all, it would be impossible to form any definite idea of the size of the city.

That is, of the angel - That is, “which is the measure employed by the angel.” It was, indeed, an angel who measured the city, but the measure which he employed was that in common use among people.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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 he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits,.... The root of which is twelve, for twelve times twelve is a hundred and forty four; which number is mystical and apostolical, and suited to the perfect state of this church: hence twelve gates, and twelve angels at them, and the names of the twelve tribes on them, and twelve foundations of the wall, and twelve thousand furlongs, the measure of the city.

According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel; who talked with John, and measured the city, gates, and wall, and who appeared in the form of a man; and his reed might be, as some have supposed, the length of a man, six cubits, or six feet, as in Ezekiel 40:5 and may denote that this business requires the utmost wisdom and understanding of a man, and even of an angel, to look into, and find out; see Revelation 13:18 and also may signify the angelic state of the saints at this time, when the children of the resurrection will be like the angels of God, for immortality and glory.

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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 21:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(c) He adds this, because the angel had the shape of a man.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-21.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

hundred … forty … four cubits — twelve times twelve: the Church-number squared. The wall is far beneath the height of the city.

measure of a man, that is, of the angel — The ordinary measure used by men is the measure here used by the angel, distinct from “the measure of the sanctuary.” Men shall then be equal to the angels.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
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 21:17". "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

A hundred and forty and four cubits (εκατον τεσσερακοντα τεσσαρων πηχωνhekaton tesserakonta tessarōn pēchōn). Another multiple of 12 (12x12=144) as in Revelation 7:4; Revelation 14:1. It is not clear whether it is the height or the breadth of the wall that is meant, though υπσοςhupsos (height) comes just before. That would be 216 feet high (cf. Revelation 21:12), not enormous in comparison with the 7,000,000 feet (1500 miles) height of the city.

According to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (μετρον αντρωπου ο εστιν αγγελουmetron anthrōpouεμετρησενho estin aggelou). No preposition for “according to,” just the accusative case of general reference in apposition with the verb emetrēsen Though measured by an angel, a human standard was employed, man‘s measure which is angel‘s (Bengel).

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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 21:17". "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

Cubits ( πηχῶν )

The word originally means that part of the arm between the hand and the elbow-joint, the forearm. Hence a cubit or ell, a measure of the distance from the joint of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, i.e., about a foot and a half. The precise length, however, is disputed. Cubit is from the Latin cubitus the elbow, on which one reclines (cubat ). Some take the one hundred and forty-four cubits as representing the height of the wall; others the thickness. If the height, then they must be interpreted as equal to the twelve thousand furlongs, since the length and the breadth and the height of the city are equal (Revelation 21:16). It is to be noted, however, that there is a distinction between the measure of the city and the measure of the wall. “The most inconsiderable wall” remarks Düsterdieck, “is sufficient to exclude all that is impure.”

The measure of a man, that is, of the angel

“It is to be the dwelling-place of men; and even, therefore, when an angel measures it, he measures it according to the measure of a man” (Milligan).

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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.

Scofield's Reference Notes

angel

(See Scofield "Hebrews 1:4")

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Revelation 21:17". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/revelation-21.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 17. An hundred and twenty four cubits] A cubit is six handfuls.

That is, of the angel] That appeared as a man, but bigger and higher than ordinary; now because this holy city is thus measured, and that with the measure of a man, some think it to be of the Church militant. But some other passages in this and the following chapters cannot be otherwise taken according to the letter, than of the state of full perfection. They do best, in my opinion, that take in both.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". 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 21:17. καὶ ἐμέτρησε τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς, ἑκατὸν τεσσαράκοντα τεσσάρων μέτρον ἀνθρώπου ἐστιν ἀγγέλου) After ἑκατὸν τεσσαράκοντα τεσσάρων many have added πηχῶν:(233) but we have shown in the Apparatus, see Ed. ii. on this passage, that more than one ancient witness is without this word. It is certain that they are not walls, but the measures of one wall, which are noticed: and even reeds might be understood. The 12,000 stadia show the height also of the city; the 144 either reeds or cubits give the height of the wall, which is not much less than the height of the city, or rather equal to it. For height is especially regarded in walls, as the epithets even of the Greek and Latin poets prove. The 12,000 stadia, since they are mentioned absolutely, were those in use among men: the 144 either cubits or reeds were not those of men, but angelico-human, much greater than those of men. Whether there were 144 reeds or cubits, the comparison of the 12,000 stadia exhibits the same height of wall. But yet there is a strong argument which advises us rather to take them as reeds. For it is not shown how many cubits a reed contains: and it might contain four cubits, because four cubits measure the stature of a man; or six cubits, as in Ezekiel 40:5. Therefore, if the wall was of 144 cubits, it would not be known of how many reeds also it was: and therefore the golden reed, which is called the measure, would be an unknown, that is, no measure in reality. The height of the wall was ascertained, the angel applying his reed 144 times. The measure of the reed is frequently noticed in Ezekiel in a similar argument, and by ellipsis; and in one instance, ch. Ezekiel 42:17, just as here in the Apocalypse. The Greeks have inserted πήχεις. See Meyer de Ultimis Ezech. p. 26, etc. The Hebrews often construe the numeral adjective and the substantive in the plural and singular number; for instance, וארבעת אלפים מדה, Ezekiel 48:30; Ezekiel 48:33. And thus John, ἑκατὸν τεσσαράκοντα τεσσάρων ΄έτρον. John ἀνθρωποειδῶς ἐθεώρησε, saw in human appearance, as Andreas of Cæsarea says, the angel measurer: therefore “that measuring pole,” says Grotius, “was of the same size as the stature of the human form, in which the angel appeared, and therefore the cubits also were according to that measure.” Grotius might have spared the clause respecting the cubits.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". 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

This could not be the measure of the compass, (it was for that much too little), nor of the height or breadth, (for either of them it was much too great), from whence Dr. Potter concluded, it must be the square measure; so as the height and breadth of it was twelve cubits, for twelve times twelve make one hundred and forty-four.

According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel; as men use to measure, and as this angel measured, who appeared as a man in this action.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". 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

сто сорок четыре локтя 72 ярда, или 216 футов (примерно 65,84 м). Вероятно, это ширина стены.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-21.html.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

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

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

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

ENDNOTE:

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

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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 21:17". "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 wall was evidently144cubits (about216 feet or72yards) thick (cf. Ezekiel 40:5; Ezekiel 42:20). An American football field Isaiah 100 yards long. John explained that even though an angel was doing the measuring he was using human units of measurement. Thus these measurements meant the same to John as they would have meant if something else in his day were being measured.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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 21:17. The wall is next measured, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is of an angel. It is hardly possible to think that we have here the height of the wall. So insignificant would it be when compared with the height of the city that the combination would be unnatural and grotesque. St. John, too, could then hardly have called the wall ‘great and high’ (Revelation 21:12). The supposition, moreover, that the wall is kept low in order that the glorious light of the city may stream out over it, is inconsistent with the general imagery (comp. also on Revelation 21:18). The wall is a part of the city as strictly as the foundations are, and is itself, like them, radiant with the light which shines forth from the city as a whole. It seems better, therefore, to think here of the breadth of the wall. Its length and height had been measured, and its thickness is now added to complete the description of its strength. The last clause of the verse has occasioned considerable difficulty. The meaning seems to be, that a human standard of measurement was used; and it was well to note this. The New Jerusalem is not framed according to angelic ideas or for angelic purposes. It is to be the dwelling-place of men; and even, therefore, when an angel measures it, he measures it ‘according to the measure of a man.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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

===============================

[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Mensura hominis, quæ est Angeli; Greek: metron anthropou, o estin aggelou.

====================

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

hundred . . . cubits. About 300 feet. See Ezekiel 43:13 and App-88.

according to. Omit.

man. App-123. the = an.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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 he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

Hundred and forty and four cubits - twelve times twelve: the Church-number squared. The wall is far beneath the height of the city.

Measure of a man, that is, of the angel. The ordinary measure used by men is the measure here used by the angel, distinct from 'the measure of the sanctuary.' Men shall then be equal to the angels.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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

(17) And he measured the wall thereof . . .—Better. And he measured its wall by an hundred and forty-four cubits (i.e., in height), man’s measure, which is angel’s. The measurement is in man’s measure, but the reed was handled by an angel; the measure is true for men and true for angels; it may mean that the angel used the ordinary human measure, but may it not imply that the vision is true for all, for the earthly and for the heavenly? it is man’s measure, it is angel’s measure; the human will not find the picture untrue, though the city is not literal: it is figurative, but not mere figure. The recurrence of the number hundred and forty-four recalls us to the figurative character of the description. (Comp. Note on Revelation 7:4.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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 measurement of the wall of the Holy City was said, in verse 17, to be according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. The stadia of the angel was "after the manner of a man"--no different from that of a man and within human understanding, though it was of the angel. The angel had used man's standard of measurement, but it was symbolically, not literally, applied. It meant that the stadia employed by the angel was on a scale of measurement that was not unknown to man. The literal view of these measurements as being descriptive of the exact plan and size of the New Jerusalem as a city would destroy the sublimity of the apocalyptic picture and pervert the symbolism of the vision. In the comparison of the dimensions of the city and the wall surrounding it, the vision represented that the eminences within the wall of the New Jerusalem were so lofty that its highest summits and pinnacles were as many furlongs above the base of the wall as the length of the wall itself. The vision was symbolical of great and grand magnificence. To the eye of John from the summit ranges, floating down from God, was a view of splendor the magnitude of which was indescribable. But the figurative description, "according to the measure of a man," was not grotesque or disproportioned. God was the architect and builder of the Holy City (Psalms 12:1-8'7:1); which was the manifestation of his divine wisdom, as a building exhibits the skill of its designer (Ephesians 3:10-11; Ephesians 3:21); and in it his own glory will be exhibited through time and in eternity "world without end." In the symbolism of the New Jerusalem's dimensions was signified that it is the will of God that the church should include the whole multitude of the saved--its entire aggregation.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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 he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
an
7:4; 14:3
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 6:2 - threescore;  Isaiah 8:1 - a man's pen;  Revelation 13:18 - the number;  Revelation 21:12 - a wall

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "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

In the preceding verse the angel measured the city which gave the length of it. In this verse he measured the wall which necessarily means the thickness of it. The measurement was a hundred and forty and four cubits, another multiple of one of our prominent Numbers, twelve. Measure of a Prayer of Manasseh, that ts, of the angel. This unusual language only means that the angel used the same action in measuring the wall that a man would use in such a situation. The usual length of a cubit is eighteen inches, hence this wall was two hundred and sixteen feet thick. Such would be a proper thickness to be proportionate to such a height,

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". 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 21:17

Revelation 21:17-18 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a Prayer of Manasseh, that Isaiah, of the angel18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

The wall of a city is for safety and defence, { Isaiah 4:5-6; Isaiah 5:1-2} See KNOLLYS: Revelation 21:12 & See KNOLLYS: Revelation 21:15 & See KNOLLYS: Revelation 21:16; by exact measure.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-21.html.

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

Revelation 21:17. And he measured its walls an hundred and four and forty cubits, man's measure, which is angel's measure. Several conceive, that here the thickness of the wall is what is measured. But Bengel has justly remarked against that idea, "In all descriptions of cities we are wont to remark much more upon the height and length of the walls, which also strike the eye more readily, than upon their thickness, Deuteronomy 3:5, Deuteronomy 28:52. The height is often mentioned without the thickness, but the thickness never without the height." It also confirms this view, that in the words immediately preceding it was precisely the height of the city that was spoken of.

The expression, "man's measure, which is angel's measure," may be explained from what has already been remarked at ch. Revelation 13:8. When an angel measures, we might suppose that he would do so after some measurement unknown to us. The remark is intended to meet this idea. Because angels, when they measure, do it only for men, man's measure is at the same time angel's measure, and the 144 cubits are common cubits. We must not expound: according to man's measure, which is here, in this case, angel's measure.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-21.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.The foursquare city was lined by a low foursquare wall; low, that is, in comparison with the vast height of the city itself. One hundred and forty-four cubits are two hundred and sixteen feet.

Measure of a man— That is, a human, not some great celestial measure, although made by the angel.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 21:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-21.html. 1874-1909.