Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 21:3

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
New American Standard Version

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Adam Clarke Commentary

The tabernacle of God is with men - God, in the most especial manner, dwells among his followers, diffusing his light and life everywhere.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And I heard a great voice out of heaven - As if uttered by God himself or the voice, of angels.

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men - The tabernacle, as that word is commonly used in the Scriptures, referring to the sacred “tent” erected in the wilderness, was regarded as the unique dwelling-place of God among his people - as the temple was afterward, which was also called a “tabernacle.” See the notes on Hebrews 9:2. The meaning here is, that God would now dwell with the redeemed, as if in a tabernacle, or in a house specially prepared for his residence among them. It is not said that this would be “on the earth,” although that may be; for it is possible that the earth, as well as other worlds, may yet become the abode of the redeemed. See the notes on 2 Peter 3:13.

And he will dwell with them - As in a tent, or tabernacle - σκηνώσει skēnōseiThis is a common idea in the Scriptures.

And they shall be his people - He will acknowledge them in this public way as his own, and will dwell with them as such.

And God himself shall be with them - Shall be permanently with them; shall never leave them.

And be their God - Shall manifest himself as such, in such a manner that there shall be no doubt.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Revelation 21:3

The tabernacle of God is with men

The elimination of the law of antagonism

(with Isaiah 28:21):--

The law of antagonism is unnatural. Some great thinkers maintain that nature is altogether good and glorious. A distinguished scientist reminds us of “that gracious Nature to whom man yearns with filial instinct, knowing her, in spite of fables, to be his dear mother (Ray Lankester, “Degeneration;” p. 67). On the other hand, equally able men teach that nature is malefic and abominable. J.S. Mill in a famous passage paints nature as teeming with amazing cruelty and terror. In the opinion of the Gold Coast people a large spider made the world, and the philosopher would have readily agreed that it bore many marks of such creation. So widely different is the interpretation of the world given by these thinkers, that it is hardly possible to believe that they are speaking of the same object. Which view, then, is correct? We say both, and taken together they express the view of the world given in the Christian revelation; the conclusions of philosophy agree with the theology of the Church. Revelation declares that the world as it existed in the thought of God, as it came from the hand of God, was “very good.” The constitution of things was altogether gracious; the original order was full of harmony, loveliness, and blessing. It was just like God to make a world like that which arises with music and splendour upon our delighted senses in the beginning of revelation. A world so garnished and ordered agrees with our conceptions of the Divine wisdom and goodness. Over such an orb well might the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy. Our first text reminds us that God sometimes executes what must be described as “strange work”; that is, work which seems altogether at variance with His glorious character, and with the acknowledged principles of His government. Now we affirm that the whole present government of this world partakes largely of this character; it is a “strange work” to meet an extraordinary crisis. The sweating, the groaning, the bleeding, the dying, all the tragic aspects of life, do not belong to the Divine eternal order; they are the consequences, not of the laws of God, but of the violation of those laws, and they exist only locally and temporally for ends of discipline, lesser evils permitted and overruled for the prevention of greater. If, entering a house, we find a father speaking angrily to his child, taking away his toys, limiting his liberty, chastising him with the rod, we know that all this is contrary to parental feeling, an interruption of the common beautiful order--that it is a “strange work” directed to specific, pressing, necessary ends; so we believe it to be with this present epoch of world-suffering--it is God’s strange act necessitated by our disobedience, still over-ruled by His love.

II. It is the purpose of God in Jesus Christ to abolish the law of antagonism. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them.” The Deity is revealed to us in the Man Christ Jesus, who brings us into loving relationship with God, and into loving relationship with one another, thus banishing the world’s disorder and distress. In His life and death we have the supreme illustration of unselfishness. The grand burden of His gospel is love, mercy, pity; it is the most eloquent plea for charity, sympathy, humanity. And by the power of His Spirit He breaks down in men that tyranny of selfishness which is the secret of all our woes, and enthrones within our soul the power of love. He utterly destroys in the heart of man the egotism, pride, greed, envy, wrath, which render the emulations of society so bitter and destructive. But the question may be urged, What is to guarantee our safety and progress when the fiery law is abolished? The prevalence of the spirit of Jesus Christ. Universal love shall take the place of antagonism in the discipline of the race. In the individual life we find a ready and apposite illustration of the passage from the lower law of action to a higher. In the days of youth we were kept to duty by the austerity of our masters; a whole system of minute and coercive discipline was necessary to overcome our laziness, our love of indulgence, our waywardness. The law of antagonism, as we encountered it in the schoolroom, was very bitter indeed to some of us; yet we now know it was essential to our progress that we should have been subjected to such coercion. But, growing into men, we conceived a passion for knowledge, art, business, duty; larger views opened to us; nobler motives began to make themselves felt, a sense of dignity and responsibility was created in us; the spur within took the place of the spur without, and the whole work of life is now done in a far freer, happier spirit. In Christ we receive the adoption of sons, the inheritance of brothers, and as the spirit of Christ prevails, the race will be controlled by the milder yet stronger principle. The energy of love will replace the energy of hate; the energy of hope, the energy of fear; the energy of disinterestedness, the energy of selfishness; the energy of joy, the energy of suffering: the energy of conscience and righteousness, the energy of lawless passion.

III. The law of antagonism is being eliminated. One of the most remarkable features of modern thought is its deep discontent with the law of antagonism. We are greatly and increasingly pained by the spectacle of universal strife and suffering. We are told that for various reasons the agony of the world is not so great as it seems, that nature knows no morality, that the splendid results justify the bloody battle; these and other excuses are urged in extenuation and defence of the principle of antagonism. But we refuse to be comforted; we will not reconcile ourselves to such ghastly state of things; we decline to believe that such infinite sorrows are normal and inevitable. We may well believe with Emerson, “This great discontent is the elegy of our loss, and the prediction of our recovery.” We see signs of change to a happier state of things in our relation to nature. We are beginning to understand much better the laws and forces of the physical universe; we are rapidly learning how gloriously the elements and creatures may serve us: nay, in the fields of nature we discover how more and more to gather grapes from thorns and riga from thistles. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock”; “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fig tree; and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree.” A celebrated traveller concludes a famous book with these pregnant words: “The superiority of the bleak north to tropical regions is only in their social aspect; for I hold to the opinion that, although humanity can reach an advanced state of culture only by battling with the inclemencies of nature in high latitudes, it is under the equator alone that the perfect race of the future will attain to complete fruition of man’s beautiful heritage, the earth.” Only by battling with the inclemencies of nature can man reach an advance state of culture, but having reached that intellectual and moral perfection, he will under the equator enter into complete fruition of his beautiful heritage. How much all this sounds like the teaching of the Bible! The bleak north makes us, and, being made, the perfect race enters into the paradises reserved for it beneath the sun. And there is much in modern life to indicate how easily all this may come to pass. We see signs of change to a happier state of things within society itself. A process of amelioration is going on everywhere. There is an attempt to get more justice, fairness, and even mercy, into commercial rivalries; to substitute some plan of co-operation for the existing competition, if that is possible. Signs of change to a happier state of things are visible also in international life. There is growing up with wonderful rapidity a sense of the brotherhood of man; a larger and purer patriotism. Salvator Rosa long ago painted his picture, “Peace burning the Instruments of War.” This generation may not witness that glorious bonfire, but many signs signify that ere long it shall be kindled, lighting the footsteps of the race into the vaster glory that is to be. (W. L. Watkinson.)

The tabernacle of God

I. The tabernacle of God is with men.

1. Throughout this whole book we find continual reference to the temple service of the Jews. This furnishes some of its most striking symbols. Thus we have an altar, incense, priests clothed in white, cherubim, and the sacred presence of God.

2. This symbol of the tabernacle denotes the personal approach of the saints to God.

3. This allusion to the tabernacle also instructs us that part of the felicity of heaven will consist in the worship of God.

II. They shall be His people, and He shall be their God.

1. His people. There shall be a public and infallible acknowledgment of all who are His, by their admission into the tabernacle of God.

2. He will be their God. This implies, as in the case of the ancient Jewish Church, the engagement of all His perfections on their behalf.

III. Their exemption from the sufferings and sorrows of mortality. (J. D. Carey.)

Change and the unchangeable

“The tabernacle of God is with men.” That is our great vision of victory, so glorious, so touching. These beautiful words never fail to stir. Let us think a little over the picture. “The tabernacle with men.” First, it tells us that God’s presence among men is now in a house, in an abode, in a home, so that we may know where He is to be found. He is no longer here upon earth merely as a flying cry in the wilderness, as an invisible wind that bloweth where it listeth. But God has done more than send out a cry to the world; He has made Himself a tabernacle, a chosen spot, selected, appointed, where He is always, for every one who will come there, in a permanent, secure place; He has taken up His abode, and He has set His name there in the midst of men, so that among their houses you may know God’s house, and in the thick of their affairs you will see God’s affairs going forward. Look at this vast Cathedral of ours, with its dome and golden cross lifted above, always to be seen, and within the hush of the silent spaces, and souls that are there being steeped in calm. There is just a little something here to show that God has made His tabernacle with men. And yet that is not all or half the picture conveyed to us by these words of St. John. The tabernacle it is, not the temple, we remember. The old word carries us back far beyond the Temple of Zion and the rock. It bids us think of the days of the pilgrimage, of the longtrailing masses moving across the desert sands, always moving, ever onward, drawn forward. In the morning the tent is struck: then there is the long, weary march, and, at the fall of night, the camp again. The changing scene, the unchanging home, that is the stamp and the brand that should be on the Church. First, the moving tent, the tabernacle, that follows as they move. Men are moving still, moving to-day fast, on and on, no rest and no pause, that long, unflagging pilgrimage still proceeding, multitudes and multitudes, and all in motion, quick, eager motion. And the tabernacle of the Church must move with them--“with men” it is to be. That is its first necessity. Wherever they go, beyond all these tumbling seas they have crossed, it must go, through all hazards, at their side, moving with this moving host, they must never miss it. There must be no scruples and dallyings, and fears and anxieties, and suspicions and sloth, which keep the tabernacle behind on the march, lagging, belated, timid, shrinking, left behind in some old deserted camp through which they have gone. There it is to be; not somewhere else, but just there; touching all these novel adventures, welcoming all these new sights, tasting all this new experience, bearing all these new burdens, sharing all these new burdens, sharing all these new anxieties--“with men.” Oh! it must go amid incessant change, and yet still the same tabernacle of our fathers, the same abode where God always can be found, the one gospel, the one pardon, the one benediction, and the one full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice. (Canon Scott Holland.)

God tabernacling with men

Here we have first the announcement of a fact, the fact that God has entered into associations of some kind with man, of an especial and intimate character, more intimate apparently than any which exists between Him and the other creatures of His hand. And secondly we have here as expression of wonder--“the tabernacle of God is with men.”

I. What the “tabernacle of God” implies. Certainly when we transfer an expression like this from the associations of our finite life to the life of the Divine and illimitable Being we must do so with serious reservations. To the Arab of the desert his tent is his covering, his shelter, his home. When a tabernacle is said to be God’s, something more must be meant which corresponds in some way with our human associations with the expression, but something also widely different. To the Omnipresent a tabernacle cannot be a covering, it cannot be a shelter to Him who fills all in all. The expression is of itself startling and parodoxical, and yet it does contain a truth which is not the less worth attention. Reflect, then, on the power which we men have of making our presence emphatic and felt. We know from experience how a man may sit among his fellows, giving little or no token of intelligence and sympathy, watching what passes, hearing what is said, yet making no sign, no intimation even of recognition. And we know how possible is the very reverse of all this, how thought, and feeling, and resolve may flash forth in countenance and in speech, and may profoundly impress, win, subdue all who come within the limits of a striking human personality. This means that we have the power of accentuating our presence among our fellow-men at will. We do not cease to be present in our limited way when we do not thus accentuate it, when we find ourselves in company which throws us back upon our own thoughts as distinct from company which provokes an expression of what we are thinking and feeling. Still, we are made in God’s image, and therefore it is not irreverent, making all due allowance for the interval which separates the finite from the infinite, to presume something analogous in Him. He is the Omnipresent. But He may surely, if He wills, emphasise His presence by connecting either its manifestations or its blessings with particular spots, or actions, or persons, or incidents, or edifices, or ordinances. He is the Almighty, and who shall say Him nay? For us His creatures the only reasonable question can be whether there are grounds for thinking that He has done so: and we do not forget the essential conditions of His illimitable being because we attribute to Him the exercise of a power which He has not denied to ourselves. “The tabernacle of God,” then, is an expression which implies not that the presence of the Omnipotent can be limited, but that it can be for certain purposes determined or emphasised in a particular direction. What is the deepest desire in human nature? what is the secret of that unappeasable restlessness of the human heart which no created object can permanently allay? It is the implanted longing for God. “Like as a hart desireth the water brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God”--not merely a desire to know God; knowledge of the unattainable may be only torture, not merely a desire to be purified for the sight of God, but a desire to be really united to Him, a hope that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us. When the soul which the Infinite Being has created for Himself finds itself one with Him, its deepest instinct is perfectly satisfied, and then, and then only, it is at peace. Now the realisation of this implanted hope of the soul of man was first shadowed out, and then it was provided for. God tabernacled among men first intermittently and distantly, and then by actual union with mankind in the incarnation, and lastly in the society which sprang from this union, the holy Church of Christ.

II. The first Jewish tabernacle. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men.” This might have been said of the sacred tent of which we read so much in the books of Moses, and which was the centre of the worship of Israel until the building of the Temple. It is “the tabernacle of the congregation,” as our version renders the original words; more accurately it is “the tabernacle of meeting.” This solemn phrase implied not a house in which men would meet together to talk or to hear about God, but where God would meet with His people. God would hold His court in it or at it. There He would instruct His chosen servants; there He would meet His people. And the history of Israel abundantly illustrates what was practically meant. With the tabernacle was closely associated a cloud, or pillar of cloud, as the visible symbol of the Divine presence. From it proceeded the guidance, the warning, the judgment which might be needed for Israel. Nor was this cloud by any means the only association of the tabernacle with the sacred Presence. Within the tabernacle was the breastplate of the High Priest, the Urim and Thummim, through which the Divine will was communicated to devout inquirers; and in the holiest recess of the tabernacle was the sacred ark containing the two tables of the law, and covered by the mercy-seat, that symbol of the Divine compassion covering human transgressions of the eternal law; while above were the winged cherubim, representatives these of created life in its highest form, bending to adore the moral revelation of the Self-Existent which the contents of the ark enshrined. We cannot exaggerate the importance of the position of the two tables of the law. It marked off in the eyes of Israel, as sharply as was possible, God’s revelation of Himself as righteousness, from the Egyptian and other Eastern conceptions of Him as some form of cosmic force or nature-power, whether productive or otherwise. And this was the central scene of the Presence vouchsafed in the tabernacle, which made it as the Psalmist calls it, “the tent which He had pitched among men.” And above this ark was the Shekinah, Divine glory, the centre point of the adoration of primitive Israel. The Presence in the tabernacle was undoubtedly a localised presence, a particular determination of the presence of God, whose Being knows no bounds. But the tabernacle had no necessary or inseparable relations to the Presence which it for a while enshrined. Its relation to the Presence was provisional. It did its work for the people of revelation, and then it passed away.

III. A deeper meaning. The sacred manhood of our Lord Jesus Christ, His body and His human soul, became by the incarnation the tabernacle of God. The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, very and eternal God, took man’s nature upon Him in the womb of the Blessed Virgin of her substance; so that two whole and perfect natures were joined together in one person, never to be divided. The Son had existed from eternity; and then He wrapped around His eternal person, and indissolubly, a human body and a human soul. His human body and soul were the tabernacle in which He, the Eternal Word and Son, deigned to dwell, not for thirty-three years only, but for ever. And thus whilst men looked on a human form and heard human language, and noted the circumstances of a human life, and asked, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? and is not His mother called Mary? as if nothing in the world could possibly be plainer, He on the other hand could say without a trace of exaggeration, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father”; “The Son of Man which is in heaven”; “Before Abraham was (become) I am”; “I and the Father are one.” It is this which makes the Gospels unlike any other books, even any other inspired books. They describe a life radically unlike any other life that ever was lived on earth. It is the life of the Divine Being making human nature His tabernacle, dwelling on earth in human form. True, the first three Gospels lay stress chiefly on the human form, and the fourth lays stress chiefly on the Divine nature which it veiled and yet manifested. But they all of them describe One who, living among men, was infinitely more than man, since His manhood was the tabernacle of God.

IV. The Christian Church. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men.” This is true in a somewhat different sense of the Church of Christ, in which Christ has dwelt throughout the Christian ages. He has kept, He is still keeping, His promise, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” He has been with us for more than eighteen centuries. His Church is an outflow of His incarnate life. For this Church of His is an aggregate of Christian lives, and each living Christian is a product and an extension of the life of the Redeemer. “As He is, so are we in this world,” “Christ in you the hope of glory.” There is more in a Christian’s life, as there was more in that of the Lord Jesus Christ, than meets the eye. The Christian’s thought is supplied, enriched, controlled by a Book in which human words veil the mind of the Eternal. His intellect is illuminated, his affections are expanded, his will is invigorated, his whole nature is first renewed, and then sustained and developed by a force which Christendom calls grace, and which flows forth from the sinless manhood of the incarnate Christ at the bidding of His Spirit. Still, although Christ is thus with His Church, and she is the tabernacle which He has pitched in the wide field of humanity, she is composed of weak and sinful men, and so far she is out of correspondence with the perfect manhood in which His God-head tabernacled on earth, and in which He still dwells within her. The Bride of the Lamb is not yet prepared for the Bridegroom’s welcome. The tabernacle of the Church in which Christ dwells on earth is soiled and torn. It could not be translated in its present condition to the courts above. He who dwells in it must prepare, must glorify, must embellish it. (Canon Liddon.)

God’s tabernacle on earth

The voice that uttered these words is said to have been a “great” one, indicating their importance, and God’s desire that we should listen to the announcement. We are not told who uttered it. It “came out of heaven”; this is all we know. It was the inhabitants of heaven looking down from the upper glory, and rejoicing in what had at length, after so many ages and so many hindrances, been accomplished upon earth.

I. The desirableness of this state of things. Many things show us this.

1. The interest which the inhabitants of heaven take in it, as seen in the words before us.

2. The pains and costs which God has been at to bring about this issue.

3. The work of Christ, through which it has been brought about.

4. The desire with which prophets and righteous men have desired this issue.

5. The change which it will produce on earth.

II. The declared purpose of God as to this glorious issue--God having His tabernacle with men. One of the earliest statements is an intimation of God’s purpose respecting this. Paradise was meant not merely as man’s abode, but as God’s abode with man; so that when man sinned, God is represented as coming down to the garden in the cool of the day. Man’s sin then frustrated, if we may so speak, God’s purpose in the meantime, yet it did not hinder that purpose from being made known. This great original purpose of God to have His dwelling with men continued to be presented to man in type and prophecy from that day forward, to show that it had only been postponed, not abandoned--postponed in order to be carried out more fully and more gloriously than it could have been before. Especially was this the case in Israel’s history, from the time that the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness to the day when the temple and city were laid in ruins by the hand of the aliens. The statement in the Gospel of John regarding the Son of God is another declaration of this same purpose: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”; literally, tabernacled or pitched His tent among us. And, in our Lord’s words, we have more than once the intimation of the same thing. “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). And it is this which is the complete fulfilment of Christ’s name Immanuel, “God with us.” Nor have there been any intimations of God’s design ultimately to abandon earth, after He has accomplished certain ends. On the contrary, all that He has said and done hitherto indicate His intention to restore it, to glorify it, and to fit it for being His abode.

III. The means, or process, by which God is bringing all this about.

1. The first actual step was the incarnation. By taking a body made out of the substance of earth, He joined Himself in perpetual affinity with man and his world; and that which God has thus joined together, who shall put asunder?

2. His life on earth was the second step towards the end in view. His living here for thirty-three years was the declaration of His desire and purpose to make earth the seat of His tabernacle. But in this life we see more than this. We see Him taking possession of creation; we see Him doing battle with its oppressors: we see Him casting out Satan, healing diseases, overcoming death. He who did these things in the day of His humiliation and weakness, and before His great work upon the Cross was accomplished, will surely do exceeding abundantly more than all these, in the day of glory and power, now that He has finished His work, and put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

3. His death was the next step. He was earth’s Sin-bearer as well as man’s. He took upon Him the curse of earth as well as man; and the thorns which formed His crown showed how truly He was bearing the curse upon creation which Adam’s sin had caused. As the bearer of man’s guilt, He was nailed to the cross; as the bearer of earth’s curse, He was crowned with thorns. Earth has now been sprinkled with His blood; and that blood cleanseth from all sin.

4. His burial was the next step. By death the Prince of life overcame death; and in His burial He was pursuing the routed foe, and compelling him to deliver up his prey. Thus did He commence the expulsion from death of that mortality and corruption which had defaced it so sadly.

5. His resurrection was the next step. Wresting His own body from the dominion of death, He showed how ere long He is to wrest, not only the bodies of His saints, but the whole creation, from the bondage of corruption. Christ’s resurrection not only proclaimed Him to be the Son of God with power, but also the Prince of the kings of the earth.

6. His ascension into heaven was the next step. When He ascended, He not only led captivity captive, but He carried up into heaven His own body as the representative of earth. That portion of earth which, in His body, He has carried up into heaven, proclaims to the inhabitants of heaven His interest in earth, and to the inhabitants of earth the certainty of His purpose respecting earth’s final restitution. And for what is this ascended Saviour interceding? Not only for His Church, but for earth itself. “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost ends of the earth for Thy possession.”

Nor shall these intercessions be long in vain. Soon shall they be all answered, and the cry be heard, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men!”

1. Saint, are you making ready for that day? Are you walking worthy of an heir of that glory? Are you remembering that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? Are you at one with Father and with Son in your desire for that restitution of all things?

2. Sinner, what are your thoughts of that day? What hopes have you of sharing its blessedness? From that world all sin is swept away; and can you hope to dwell in it? Nothing that defileth shall enter; and do you expect to enter it? (H. Bonar, D. D.)

The descent of heaven to earth

I. The sentiments of which this proclamation is expressive.

1. The exultation of joyous discovery.

2. The rapture of sacred astonishment.

3. The eagerness of solemn expectation.

4. A benevolent interest in all that pertains to the welfare and destiny of man.

5. The satisfaction of devout intelligence, beholding in the events which it contemplates fresh attestations of the stability and fulness of their own eternal welfare, as dependent on the Divine counsels and character.

6. Preparation for instant and cheerful concurrence in the effectuation of God’s purposes, and the advancement of His glory.

II. The events by which this proclamation is called forth.

1. It is impossible not to be directed, in the first place, to the wonders of providence, as exhibiting, in all their succession and variety, the immediacy of God’s concern for human welfare, and the individuality, as well as constancy, of His regard.

2. But we turn to a still more elevated subject, and notice the sublimer wonders of redemption, as adapted pre-eminently to arouse the emotions and corroborate the sentiments which our text embodies.

3. We would briefly advert to the mysteries of sanctifying influence, as signalising the residence of the Spirit of God even in the hearts of His people.

4. The final revelations of the Divine power and greatness, both at the close of time, and through the ages of eternity.

III. For the direct improvement of this inquiry, let us now examine the manner wherein it teaches us to reflect both on our privileges and our duty.

1. We should meditate upon this subject with mingled gratitude and wonder, as on a theme majestic even beyond our highest contemplation, and yet not too elevated for our hopes.

2. We should reflect on the subject before us with united watchfulness, diligence, and trust, by which alone we can practically realise the enjoyment of so great a blessing.

3. Let us connect our meditations, in relation to the truth thus certified, with a correspondent appreciation of every ordinance which confirms it, and every symbol whereby it is made known.

4. The consideration of this blessing should inspire us with sacred ambition and a generous ardour to diffuse both its knowledge and its participation among those who are yet destitute of its enjoyment.

5. Let us, finally, contemplate the declaration of the text with holy and unquenchable desire directed habitually towards that happy period, wherein it shall attain the perfect disclosure of its import and the perpetuity of its unlimited fulfilment. (R. S. McAll, LL. D.)

The tabernacle of God with men

The Feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled by the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. His body--tent-like--was set up in the manger.

1. The tabernacle in the desert was in the first instance the pledge of God’s constant presence with His people. Christ said, “I am with you alway.” But in the tabernacle of the Jews there was a special token of the Divine presence in the Shechinah. So the presence of Christ is at times made more manifest by the Holy Ghost.

2. The tabernacle was also a witness. It was a witness to God’s faithfulness, love, and care. What a witness was the Incarnation.

3. The tabernacle was the appointed place and means for all intercourse with God. By Jesus we have communion with God. He is God brought near.

4. The tabernacle was for sacrifice. No sacrifice could be offered in any other place. The incarnate Christ is the sacrifice for the sins of the world. He is our burnt offering--He is also the altar of incense, and it is only through Him that any of our offerings, praise, money, service, bodies, can rise acceptable to God.

5. This tabernacle, altar, sacrifice, incense are always at hand--“with men” we can obtain forgiveness at any moment. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The highest good

I. The highest companionship.

1. Close.

2. Permanent.

3. Wonderful.

4. Transcendental.

II. The highest relationship.

1. Subjects of My kingdom.

2. Students in My school.

3. Children in My family.

III. The highest proprietorship.

1. No one can have higher possession.

2. No soul can be satisfied without this possession. (U. R. Thomas.)

Heaven on earth

The text tells you that the tabernacle of God can come down from heaven and be a dwelling-place to man. You are living in a world of sin, which is continually pressing upon you on every side with all its weight. Your souls made for higher things cannot breathe freely in it. Its elements are hostile to your well-being. And the only way in which you can protect yourselves effectually from the evil that is in the world is to bring down the air of heaven into it, and surround yourselves with its crystal purity. It you take that vital air with you wherever you go, it will be a wall of defence round about you, which will keep out all evil influences. There is no protection like this tabernacle of God within which you dwell, this element of godliness in which you live, and move, and have your being. And what blessedness do they enjoy who are hid in this tabernacle of God! Whatever may be the things that yield you most happiness here, nothing can give you solid satisfaction even in these, but the enjoying of them in the Lord, in union with Him whose blessing maketh truly rich and addeth no sorrow. Nothing can give such a zest to earthly joys and pursuits as the assurance that you are naturalised in the heavenly world. What wonderful properties does the air of heaven impart to the things of earth! We forget that our common earth is already among the stars, is itself a star; that we are truly at present celestial inhabitants. Would that it were true of us that we are made to sit together in the heavily places in Christ Jesus here and now; that the spiritual world is over our natural world as the sky is over the earth, and influences everything in it! Would that we were not merely preparing for a future heaven, but living in heaven now! And in order to make the tabernacle of God to be indeed with men, you must each of you do your share. If God is your own tabernacle, and you show by your character and conduct that you are living a life of faith in Christ, you will help to make the whole world one tabernacle of God. The kingdom of heaven within you, will help to make a kingdom of heaven without you. (H. Macmillan, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Revelation 21:3". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I heard a great voice out of heaven,.... Either of an angel, or rather of Christ, or God himself; since the Alexandrian copy and Vulgate Latin version read, "out of the throne",

saying, behold the tabernacle of God is with men; in allusion to the tabernacle being with the Israelites, and the "Shechinah", or divine Majesty, being in the midst of them, and as an accomplishment of the promise in Ezekiel 37:27 in the fullest sense of it; and designs something distinct from the spiritual presence of Christ in his church, as his tabernacle and temple, and in the hearts of his people; and from the heavenly glory, or ultimate state of happiness, in which they will be "with him", and that not as in a tabernacle, but as in a city, which has foundations: the phrase seems to denote the personal presence of Christ with his saints in human nature, like, though different from, that in the time of his humiliation; then he dwelt or tabernacled with men on earth, but it was in the form of a servant; but now he will appear in a glorious body, and indeed in all his personal glory, and reign among them as their King:

and he will dwell with them; in person and not by his Spirit, or by faith, as before, nor as a wayfaring man only for a night; but he will dwell with them for the space of a thousand years, and after that for ever: Christ and his church will now be come together as husband and wife:

and they shall be his people; that is, they shall appear to be his covenant people, that will be out of all doubt; this is made manifest in some measure in the effectual calling; but it does not yet appear neither to the saints themselves, nor to others, what they are, and shall be, but now it will be evident and unquestionable.

And God himself shall be with them; the "Immanuel", God with us; not by his Spirit, as he was after his ascension to heaven, and since is; but in person, he himself will descend from heaven, when his church, the new Jerusalem does; the Lord their God will come in person with all the saints, and will be King over all the earth.

And be their God, as Thomas styles him, my Lord, and my God, John 20:28. The covenant of grace, with all its blessings and promises, are in him, and now will it have its full accomplishment, and the saints be in a state inexpressibly happy; see Psalm 144:15.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.

(3) The Church is described by the speech, first of an angel, in two verses, then by God himself, in four verses. The angel's speech describes the glory of the Church, by the most intimate communion with God, by giving of all manner of good things according to the covenant, in this verse: and by removing or putting away of all evil things, in the verse following (Revelation 21:4).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

out of heaven — so Andreas. But A and Vulgate read, “out of the throne.”

the tabernacle — alluding to the tabernacle of God in the wilderness (wherein many signs of His presence were given): of which this is the antitype, having previously been in heaven: Revelation 11:19; Revelation 15:5, “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven”; also Revelation 13:6. Compare the contrast in Hebrews 9:23, Hebrews 9:14, between “the patterns” and “the heavenly things themselves,” between “the figures” and “the true.” The earnest of the true and heavenly tabernacle was afforded in the Jerusalem temple described in Ezekiel 40:1-42:20, as about to be, namely, during the millennium.

dwell with them — literally, “tabernacle with them”; the same Greek word as is used of the divine Son “tabernacling among us.” Then He was in the weakness of the flesh: but at the new creation of heaven and earth He shall tabernacle among us in the glory of His manifested Godhead (Revelation 22:4).

they — in Greek emphatic, “they” (in particular).

his peopleGreek, “His peoples”: “the nations of the saved” being all peculiarly His, as Israel was designed to be. So A reads. But B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read, “His people”: singular.

God himself  …  with them — realizing fully His name Immanuel.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

The tabernacle of God is with men (η σκηνη του τεου μετα των αντρωπωνhē skēnē tou theou meta tōn anthrōpōn). It is one of the angels of the Presence (Revelation 16:17; Revelation 19:5) speaking.

And he shall dwell with them (και σκηνωσει μετ αυτωνkai skēnōsei met' autōn). Future active of σκηνοωskēnoō already in Revelation 7:15 from Ezekiel 37:27; Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 8:8 and used of the Incarnate Christ on earth by John (John 1:14), now a blessed reality of the Father. The metaphor stands for the Shekinah Glory of God in the old tabernacle (Revelation 7:15; Revelation 13:6; Revelation 15:5), the true tabernacle of which it was a picture (Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 9:11). God is now Immanuel in fact, as was true of Christ (Matthew 1:23).

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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 21:3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

With men

Men at large. No longer with an isolated people like Israel.

He shall dwell ( σκηνώσει )

Lit., tabernacle. Only in Revelation and John 1:14. The word “denotes much more than the mere general notion of dwelling. There lies in it one of the particulars of that identification of Christ and His people which is fundamental to the seer.” See on John 1:14. Compare Ezekiel 37:27, Ezekiel 37:28.

People ( λαοὶ )

Notice the plural, peoples (so Rev.), because many nations shall partake of the fulfillment of the promise. Compare Revelation 21:24.

And God Himself shall be with them and be their God

And be is inserted. The Greek is shall be with them their God.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

They shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God — So shall the covenant between God and his people be executed in the most glorious manner.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Ver. 3. And I heard a great voice] To confirm the vision, lest it should be thought a delusion.

Behold, the tabernacle] His special presence both of grace and glory is with his elect. See Ezekiel 37:7; Ezekiel 37:28.

He will dwell with them] He will indwell in them, 2 Corinthians 6:16. {See Trapp on "2 Corinthians 6:16"} The enjoyment of God is heaven itself, therefore God is called heaven; "I have sinned against heaven."

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observable is that variety of expressions which the Holy Ghost here makes use of, to set forth the excellency of the church triumphant by,

1. She is blessed with God's immediate presence and abode, of which the tabernacle was a sign; the Lord manifesting himself in heaven unto his saints in a more immediate way than ever he did unto them here on earth, the Tabernacle of God is with men; and to show the permanency of this privilege, it is added, He shall dwell with them; after an inhabitation here by grace, shall follow a cohabitation hereafter in glory.

Next it is said, They shall be his people and he will be their God; which must not be so understood as if that relation did now begin between them, but the comfort of that relation is now perfectly understood, and they reap the complete advantage of that covenant-promise, whose sweetness they did only taste before.

2. Having described the positive good which the triumphant church shall eternally rest in; St. John next sets forth the primitive evils which they shall everlastingly be freed from.

All sorrow, and all the causes of sorrow, shall be removed; they shall have no outward occasion, nor inward disposition to weep: there shall be no more death, but immortality and eternal life; nor any more pain or sickness, but pleasure for evermore.

Lord! what a sovereign cordial is this against all our present sorrows and sufferings! to consider the time is at hand when all tears shall be wiped from our eyes, all sorrows, and the causes of sorrow, banished from our hearts, and everlasting joys shall possess our souls, and we shall be with our Lord for ever, to obey him with vigour, to praise him with cheerfulness, to love him above measure, to fear him without torment, to serve him without interruption or distraction, and be perfectly like unto him, as well in holiness as in happiness, as well in purity as in immortality!

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 21:3. ἰδοὺ) It is unnecessary to understand the verb ἐστί, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men: for ἰδοὺ even by itself points out the fact, as for instance ch. Revelation 19:11, and repeatedly.—(225) μετʼ αὐτῶν) Vigilius of Thapsus, under the name of Idacius Clarus, has, with them, on the earth. John saw the city coming down out of heaven from God, but he does not add, to the earth.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

What is said here, is applicable to the church of God in this life, yea, to every true believer, whose body is said to be the temple of the Lord, and in whom the Lord dwells, according to the phrase of the Holy Ghost in many places of the New Testament; of whom it is also true, that God is

with them, and will be their God; but more especially applicable to the church triumphant, as dwelling signifies a constancy of abode, and more full manifestation of a person. The state of the saints in glory is thus described by a being ever with the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

скиния Бога Слово «скиния» в переводе означает «место для жилья», «обитель», «жилище». Это Божий Дом, место, где Он живет (ср. Лев. 26:11, 12; Втор. 12:5).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God:

This suggests Ezekiel 37:28. God will make his abode in the glorified Israel, the spiritual Israel, inclusive of all the redeemed of all ages. The great goal, or objective, of all salvation is that of "unmarred fellowship between God and his people."[12]

A great voice from the throne ... This is the voice of authority that again and again has echoed in this prophecy.

The tabernacle of God is with men ... Note the bypassing of the temple. More and more, right through the end of the New Testament, it is clear that the vaunted temple of the Jews was their idea, not God's, and that, as in the monarchy, God accommodated with it, despite its not being his will from the first. See article on "The True Temple," in my Commentary on James, pp. 192-199.


[12] George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 277.

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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold the tabernacle of God (place where God tabernacles Himself) is with men and he will tabernacle with them and they will be his peoples and God Himself will be with them and be their God”.’

This closeness is further emphasised. The new Jerusalem replaces the tabernacle of God. Just as the people of God had been His sanctuary and had replaced the Temple, and as God once dwelt in the tabernacle in the pillar of fire, and revealed Himself in the Shekinah glory (an inter-testamental concept, but rooted in the Old Testament revelations of God revealing His glory), so will He now ‘dwell in glory’ (the same root as shekinah) with His people in a way not known before. The glorious city of God, His people, will have dwelling within and among them for ever, the fullness of the glory of God. This is the final and complete fulfilment of John 14:23.

Men will also now dwell with Him in this ‘place where God tabernacles Himself’ of which they are a part, and will be always in His presence, and He will be with them and be their God (see Ezekiel 37:26-27 also Zechariah 8:8). We can compare with this idea the promise to overcomers that they will be pillars in the Temple of God (Revelation 3:12). So just as the Word dwelt among us and we beheld His glory (John 1:14) now God in His fullness will dwell among us in the full revelation of His glory.

Note the plural of ‘peoples’ (while some authorities have ‘people’ it is clearly the easier reading, while there would be no tendency to change the other way). The stress is on the fact that His people are made up of many peoples, compare Revelation 21:24 where they are ‘the nations’.

‘A great voice from the throne.’ The living creatures are still active in drawing attention to the activities of God (see Revelation 16:17; Revelation 19:5).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

For the last of20 times in his vision John heard a loud voice signifying the importance of the proclamation that followed. "Behold" further stressed its importance. This probably angelic voice (cf. Revelation 19:5) announced that God"s tabernacle, evidently the entire New Jerusalem, was now among men. Finally the relationship between God and humankind that God has always desired people to enjoy will be a reality (cf. Revelation 7:15; Genesis 3:8; Genesis 17:7; Exodus 6:7; Exodus 29:45; Leviticus 26:11-12; Numbers 15:41; Deuteronomy 29:13; 2 Samuel 7:24; Jeremiah 7:23; Jeremiah 11:4; Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 30:22; Jeremiah 31:1; Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 36:28; Ezekiel 37:23; Ezekiel 37:27; Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 8:8; 2 Corinthians 6:16). God will dwell among his cleansed people, and they will experience intimate fellowship with Him. This is the supreme blessing of the New Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 37:27; Ezekiel 48:35). This fellowship existed to some extent when God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and when He dwelt among the Israelites in the tabernacle and then in the temple, hence the reference to the tabernacle (cf. Revelation 13:6; Revelation 15:5). It also existed partially when Jesus Christ "tabernacled" among people ( John 1:14). It exists today as God inhabits the bodies of Christians individually ( 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and the church corporately ( Ephesians 2:21-22).

"The essence of Revelation 21:3 is the focal point of John"s whole description of the new Jerusalem: God"s immediate presence with men. The prominence of the theme is evident in Revelation 21:3 itself by virtue of a fivefold repetition of the same essential truth in that one verse. It is the principal focus again in Revelation 21:7 where the promise to the overcomer is that God would be his God and He would be God"s son. The glory of God in the city in Revelation 21:11 is another indication of God"s immediate presence, a presence that is also the direct emphasis of Revelation 22:3-4 which speaks of the presence of the throne of God and the Lamb in the city and immediate access to Him for His slaves, enabling them to see His face." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, p443. Cf. Erdman, p167.]

The plural "peoples" hints at other groups beside Israel in the New Jerusalem. A usual designation for Israel is the "people" (singular, Gr. laos) of God. God promised Abraham that He would bless many peoples through the patriarch ( Genesis 12:3; cf. Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:16; Galatians 3:26-29). This is the ultimate fulfillment of that promise.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 21:3. The Seer next hears a great voice out of the throne. The voice may not be actually that of God Himself, but it certainly expresses the Divine thoughts and purposes.

Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall tabernacle with them, and they shall be hit peoples, and he himself, even God with them, shall be their God. The allusion is to the Tabernacle in the wilderness (not the temple), that sacred tent which was the dwelling-place of God in the midst of Israel. That Tabernacle is now ‘with men,’ no longer with a people separated from the rest of the world but with men at large, for all sin is banished, and they who are alive upon the earth are without exception members of the Divine family. In the next words, especially when viewed in the light of what seems to be the correct translation, it is impossible to mistake the reference to John 1:14, ‘The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us,’ for it is in Christ Jesus that God dwells with man: in the Son only do we know the Father, the ‘only God’ (John 5:44). Hence it is said that ‘He Himself,’ even ‘God with the’ (‘Immanuel, God with us’), shall be their God. He shall no longer be at a distance from them, nor they from Him. No boundary shall be placed around the mount: no cloud shall conceal His glory. As brother dwells with brother, so God incarnate shall dwell with His brethren in one blessed home of holiness and love. From all eternity the Word had been with God (John 1:1); now He is to be to all eternity with men; and men shall be a new Israel for the new Jerusalem (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 and Leviticus 26:12; Zechariah 8:8).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Behold the tabernacle of God with men, inasmuch as God's elect shall there dwell with him for ever and ever. (Witham)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

heaven. The texts read "the throne".

Behold. App-133.

dwell = tabernacle. Greek. skenoo. See John 1:14.

with them. Compare Exodus 29:46, &c, for God"s promise to dwell among His People in the Land. For the promise to dwell among His People, restored Israel, in the millennial Land, see Zechariah 2:10, Zechariah 2:11; Zechariah 8:3, &c. Here we have the final and glorious fulfillment of the promise in Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23 IMMANUEL, God with us.

people = peoples. Greek. laos. Whereas it was people, Israel, it is now peoples, called "the nations" in Revelation 21:24.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Out of heaven. So B, Coptic, Andreas; but 'Aleph (') A, Vulgate, 'out of the throne.'

The tabernacle - alluding to that in the wilderness (wherein many signs of His presence were given): of which this is the antitype, having previously been in heaven (Revelation 11:19; also 13:6; 15:5). Compare the contrast in Hebrews 9:23-24, between "the patterns" and "the heavenly things themselves;" "the figures" and "the true." The earnest of the heavenly tabernacle is afforded in the Jerusalem temple of the millennium, (Ezekiel 40:1-49, etc.)

Dwell (tabernacle) with them. The same Greek as is used of the divine Son 'tabernacling among us' (John 1:14). Then He was in the weakness of the flesh: at the new creation He shall tabernacle among us in the glory of His manifested Godhead (Revelation 22:4).

They - in particular, emphatic.

His people. 'Aleph (') A, 'His peoples:' 'the nations of the saved' peculiarly His, as Israel was designed to be; B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, "His people."

God himself ... with them - realizing fully His name Immanuel.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

THE FIRST VOICE.—The voice out of the throne (Revelation 21:3-4.)

(3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven. . . .—According to the best MSS. the voice now heard was heard “out of the throne,” saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them. Here, as in Revelation 7:15, the translation, “shall dwell,” weakens the force of the allusion. The tent, or tabernacle, is in the seer’s mind. There is a difference in the prepositions used here and in Revelation 7 : in the latter, God was spoken of as tabernacling over them; here He tabernacles with them. He not only stretches His cloud-shelter over them, but He is with them. They shall be His people, and He shall be God with them, their God. The introduction of the words in italics (“and be”) in our version is a weakness; the force of the thought is spoiled. They are God’s people, and He is their Emmanuel—God with them, their God. The prophet Ezekiel supplies parallel thoughts (Ezekiel 37:27-28; comp. also Leviticus 26:11-12).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

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

3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God--21:3.

This great voice was the voice of God and Christ in unison, united with the throng of chapter 19:1, and coming from one throne.

Here the fundamental truth that the Father and the Son are one found its expression. The kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of God are one kingdom (Ephesians 5:5); the throne of God and the throne of Christ are one throne (Hebrews 1:8); the church of God and the church of Christ are one church (Acts 20:28); and the great voice from the throne was the voice of God and the voice of Christ in one united sound.

The great voice announced that the tabernacle of God is with men. The use of the word tabernacle here was not ecclesiastical as of old. The word meant presence. This tabernacle of God was in contrast with the Jewish tent in the wilderness which was "a shadow of heavenly things." (Hebrews 8:1-13 :1-4) It was here used to signify God's presence with men and that he would dwell in them through his church in the world. To take the church out of the world would be to take God out of it. The tent of the wilderness signified the presence of God with Israel and through it he dwelt in them. (Exodus 40:34-38) The church is the new tabernacle for his habitation (Ephesians 2:22), and through it God dwells in men and they shall be his people--in contrast with the heathen gods--through their conversion by the truth from the darkness of heathenism to the light of Christianity. (Acts 26:16-18) The words of the voice, he will dwell with them, used the third personal pronoun he in the reference to God, which indicates that another was the speaker, and it represented the entire heavenly throng as in (chapter 19:1) joining in the proclamation--the voice "of much people in heaven," envisioned as descending to their new inheritance of the new heaven and the new earth.

The old order of Judaism had disappeared; the way for the new Jerusalem had been cleared of the greatest obstacle in its path--Judaism; and the vision presented the new throng of citizens floating down from above with united voices bearing the testimony that the new heaven and the earth would be the dwelling place of God with men in the new Jerusalem, the church.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". 1966.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
a great
10:4,8; 12:10
7:15; Leviticus 26:11,12; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 6:18; Isaiah 12:6; Ezekiel 37:27; 43:7; John 1:14; 14:23; 2 Corinthians 6:16
they shall
7; Genesis 17:7,8; Jeremiah 31:33; 32:38; Zechariah 13:9; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 8:10; 11:16
God himself
Zechariah 8:8
Reciprocal: Genesis 15:1 - and thy;  Exodus 6:7 - I will be;  Exodus 25:8 - I may dwell;  Exodus 26:1 - the tabernacle with ten curtains;  Exodus 29:45 - GeneralExodus 38:21 - tabernacle of testimony;  Exodus 40:18 - reared;  Exodus 40:34 - a cloud;  Numbers 5:3 - in the midst;  Numbers 9:16 - GeneralNumbers 18:20 - I am thy part;  Numbers 35:34 - I dwell;  1 Kings 6:13 - I will dwell;  1 Chronicles 17:24 - a God;  2 Chronicles 6:2 - I have built;  Psalm 15:1 - Lord;  Psalm 17:15 - I shall;  Psalm 37:29 - GeneralPsalm 46:4 - city;  Psalm 65:4 - we shall be;  Psalm 68:16 - the hill;  Psalm 68:18 - that;  Psalm 73:25 - Whom;  Psalm 73:26 - portion;  Psalm 84:1 - How;  Psalm 101:6 - that they;  Psalm 114:2 - GeneralSong of Solomon 2:16 - beloved;  Isaiah 65:11 - my holy;  Jeremiah 14:9 - art;  Jeremiah 30:22 - GeneralEzekiel 34:24 - I the Lord will;  Ezekiel 36:28 - be people;  Ezekiel 37:23 - they be;  Ezekiel 41:1 - to the temple;  Ezekiel 48:8 - the sanctuary;  Ezekiel 48:35 - The Lord;  Daniel 2:11 - whose;  Hosea 2:23 - Thou art my God;  Joel 2:27 - I am;  Joel 3:21 - for the Lord;  Zephaniah 3:15 - is in;  Zechariah 2:10 - and I;  Zechariah 8:3 - dwell;  Zechariah 14:7 - at;  Matthew 13:43 - shall;  Matthew 18:20 - there;  Luke 6:21 - ye that weep;  John 20:17 - your God;  Romans 5:2 - the glory;  1 Thessalonians 4:17 - and so;  1 Timothy 6:16 - dwelling;  Revelation 13:6 - and his

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation


Revelation 21:3. — "And I heard a loud voice out of the Heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God (is) with men, and He shall tabernacle with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, their God." The Revised Version reads "the throne," so, too, W. Kelly, but other critical editors reject it, as Tregelles, Darby, Hengstenberg, and others. The latter says: "The external testimonies for the two readings are pretty nearly equal." Were the "loud voice" heard out of the throne it would be the voice of God, as He, of course, sits thereon. But being heard out of the Heaven, as in previous announcements (Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:10; Revelation 14:2; Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:6), it maybe that of saints. The loud voice heard is an exulting one, and proclaims a fact in which is wrapped up the supreme blessing of eternity — God with men — Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23), not now with the Jewish people, but in a far more extended and comprehensive sense.

"Behold," attention is called to the amazing fact, "the tabernacle of God (is) with men."{*See remarks on Revelation 7:15.} God walked in Eden and talked to Adam, He appeared to the patriarchs of Israel, He dwelt in darkness in the unseen and innermost part of the tabernacle of old, God was in Christ in the days of His flesh, He dwells in the Church by His Spirit, but the actual dwelling of God with His creatures redeemed and on earth awaits the fixed and holy eternal state. This unspeakable blessing surpasses far that of the millennial reign. In Revelation 7:15 we read: "He that sitteth on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them" (R.V.). But how different the preposition here, "He shall tabernacle with them" (R.V.). The tabernacle is the whole body of heavenly saints. The tabernacle comes down from "the Heaven," the natural home of the saints, but God Himself descends with them, taking His place in their midst, and tabernacles with them. Why is the word tabernacle and not temple used in this connection? We would naturally have considered that the latter term would have been the fitting one, as the tabernacle of old was set up in the wilderness, and was associated with the journeys, trials, and testings of the people. The tabernacle was the expression of a temporary state of things, whereas the more solid structure of stone, the temple, was a permanent building set up in the land. The tabernacle was a movable structure; the temple was a fixed one. We gather, therefore, that the tabernacle of God with men intimates that the saints will not settle permanently on the new earth, but move to and fro, visiting other parts of God's creation — His inheritance and ours (Ephesians 1:10-11).


3. — "He shall tabernacle with them." This emphatic statement is an advance on the previous one. There, we read, "The tabernacle of God is with men;" now, "He shall tabernacle with them." In the one case it is the tabernacle; in the other it is Himself. What an amazing truth that God, the very God, the Maker and Sustainer of Heaven and earth, shall actually and really dwell with men on earth. This is no figure of speech, but a coming grand reality, the profound depth of which baffles human understanding.

3. — "They shall be His people," that is, God shall appropriate the eternal dwellers on the new earth for Himself. Israel of old was Jehovah's people. Now the appellation "His people" assumes a breadth and depth of blessing utterly unknown in Old Testament times.

3. — "And God Himself shall be with them, their God." In this marvellous declaration God, so to speak, comes out of His tabernacle and personally is with His people — God Himself. Here there is no mention of anything, tabernacle or aught else, intervening between God and His people. He is "with them," apart from any covering or external medium of communication. Then is fulfilled the Word of the Lord, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). May we not, too, give an enlarged scope to the words of the apostle quoted from the Old Testament, "God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people?" (2 Corinthians 6:16).

3. — The topmost stone of blessing is reached in the closing words of this marvellous paragraph. "Their God." Could anything be higher? Could any character of blessing be conceived morally superior to what is here stated! God in the greatness, glory, and moral excellence of His Being! God in His own infinitude is for His people then on earth! All is wrapped up in the grand creatorial Name beyond the keenest research of a finite mind to grasp or fathom. The source, absolute and independent, of everything craved for by heart and mind is treasured up in God. What He is and has is the assured and everlasting portion of men, of all men then on the earth. The Lamb is not once named, nor any economic or other change intimated. It is God, His tabernacle, and men. God all in all, and for ever more. His lifetime measures the duration of the "new Heaven" and "new earth;" the life of God Himself the measure of the life and joy of the inhabitants of these eternal regions. We sum up: (1) God's tabernacle with men; (2) He tabernacles with them; (3) they are His people; (4) God Himself with them; (5) God, their God. In the eternal state all is fixed on a permanent basis, but measures and distinct characters of blessing there are, for even then all vessels are not of the same capacity, while all shall be filled. In these five statements we have gradation of blessing, rising up to God Himself.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation".

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

Tabernacle is used figuratively to represent the place where a person resides. It is used here as a symbol of the close association that will exist between God and his people in the eternal age. He will not merely honor the saved of men by making a call upon them but will come and dwell with them. That does not mean that God will descend from his lofty condition so that man would think of having a guest that is his equal in rank. He will still be God and the redeemed of men will still compose a people, but notwithstanding this great difference He will be a gracious Friend to give the honor of divine "company" to the creatures made in His image.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 21:3

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God


that Isaiah, observe, ponder and consider what God speaketh by his voice from heaven.

The tabernacle of God is with men;

that Isaiah, God is come down with his church from heaven, unto the new earth, which he hath created: And in this respect Christ is said to rejoice in the habitable parts of his earth; and his delights are with the sons of men, { Proverbs 8:31}

And he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

These words are the substance and tenor of the new and everlasting Covenant of grace, both with converted Jews and gentiles. { Isaiah 55:1-3; Jeremiah 31:32-40; Hebrews 8:6-10; Romans 11:24-26} Isaiah 19:23-25 In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt, and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation".

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

Revelation 21:3. And I heard a great voice from heaven, which said: Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them as their God. Instead of: from heaven, Luther has: from the throne. The external testimonies for the two readings are pretty nearly equal. But this reading ought to be rejected on internal grounds. The voice from the throne could only be the voice of God. But God is spoken of in the third person, otherwise than in Revelation 21:5 and Leviticus 26:11-12. Since the voice from heaven cannot be an indefinite one, the more exact determination of it is to be derived from Revelation 21:2. It must proceed from amongst the citizens of the new Jerusalem, who are coming down from heaven: "And I heard a great voice from heaven." We might, then, think of some particular one of the perfectly righteous, or more specially of one of the elders (comp. on ch. Revelation 14:13, Revelation 7:13-14). But it is best to derive the precise limitation from ch. Revelation 19:1, where the great voice is described to be that of a multitudinous host in heaven. That the great voice belongs to the entire multitude of the just made perfect, is also confirmed by the analogy of ch. Revelation 11:15, Revelation 12:10, Revelation 14:2, Revelation 15:2-4, Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:6.

Instead of, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, Luther has improperly a tabernacle. We are not to explain: Behold this new Jerusalem is the tabernacle; for a city cannot properly be called a tabernacle; but the tabernacle is the kernel and centre of the city (comp. the expression in Revelation 21:11, "which had the glory of God"). Therefore: behold, here it is. Instead of the whole, here only the most excellent part is taken into account. The gracious presence of God among his people had in ancient times manifested itself in the symbolical form of a tabernacle, or of a tent, in which he dwelt in the midst of his people. What is there used as a symbol occurs here as an image (Mark: Dei mansio gratiosa et gloriosa, qualis olim erat tabernaculum). For, that an external sanctuary cannot here be spoken of is evident from Revelation 21:22. Revelation 21:11 corresponds as to substance, where it is noted as the most distinguished feature of the new Jerusalem, that it has the glory of God, that God is present there in the fulness of his glory.

There is nothing absolutely new that is promised here: if it had no foundation in the past, it could have no reality. But even in Exodus 29:45 it is said, "And I dwell in the midst of the children of Israel, and shall be their God;" and in Leviticus 26:11-12, "And I give my dwelling in your midst, and my soul shall not reject you. And I walk in your midst, and shall be your God, and ye shall be my people." And when Ezekiel, in Isaiah 37:27-28, promises, "And my dwelling shall be over you, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and the heathen shall know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary in your midst is perpetual," he certainly did not mean thereby the new Jerusalem merely of the Revelation; a prelude of the fulfilment is to be sought in the manifestations of divine grace, which were given at the return from the captivity, and still more in the personal appearance of Christ (comp. John 1:14). The word: Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, according to ch. Revelation 7:15, has been already verified for believers in the heavenly glory; nay, according to ch. Revelation 12:12, Revelation 13:6, believers even now dwell with God in his heavenly tent, though they are still in the militant church. How could it well be otherwise, since he who has the fulness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in him, has promised to be with them always to the end of the world. But in the new Jerusalem the presence of God among his people shews itself in so glorious a manner, that all earlier manifestations shall thereby be thrown into the shade. Bengel: "God had formerly a dwelling with the people of Israel, when Moses erected the tabernacle, and afterwards when Solomon built the temple. But as if neither the one nor the other had existed, it is said here as of a matter altogether new. Behold the tabernacle of God is with men; because God will there manifest himself in a much more intimate, gracious, and peculiar manner."

There is a reference in the expression of God's dwelling among them to John 1:14, where it is said of the Word, "he dwelt among us." This latter is the sure foundation of the former.

On the following part of the verse Bengel remarks: "It was anciently the sum of God's covenant with his people: I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and that covenant will attain to its highest fulfilment." In place of: God himself—no other than he, the supreme Jehovah—will be your God, as we might expect from the fundamental passages of the books of Moses, it is said: he will be with them, or among them as their God, introducing a slight allusion to the name Immanuel in Isaiah 7:14, comp. Matthew 1:23. Berleb. Bible: "Then, after so many things Christ's name Immanuel will find its full realization."

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

3.And—The description of the region is dramatically given by a voice out of heaven, (Revelation 21:3-4,) and by repeated utterances of the divine occupant of the throne, 5-9. Of this heavenly land the utterances declare that God himself is a present inhabitant; that no deaths or sorrows burden its divinely salubrious air. Its inhabitants shall be gifted with the water of immortality, while all transgressors shall be excluded from its pure society.

Great voice—An utterance from an unknown utterer, but from a heavenly source.

Tabernacle—Or, tent. The allusion is to the Mosaic tabernacle in the wilderness, where Jehovah dwelt by symbol. On this new earth he will dwell in person.

Shall be his people—His new, glorified, eternal Israel.

For this is the heavenly Canaan, where all are Israel and all are Gentile. The “hundred and forty-four thousand,” and the “multitude which no man could number” of chap. 7, are now united. The tribes and the nations are one; and all may, according to a divine order, enter into the twelve gates, yet each tribal nation, perhaps, into its own gate.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

3. Now God’s home is with men. This is true now (Ephesians 2:22). God lives in his church through the Holy Spirit. But the Church Triumphant will receive a greater fulfillment in Eternity! (Compare Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Ezekiel 11:20; Zechariah 13:9; Matthew 13:17; 2 Corinthians 6:16.)




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 21:3". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.