REVELATION 21- NEW JERUSALEM
Updated: May 31, 2022
Can you imagine a golden city which lies four square and over 500km long on each side? An architectural marvel designed by God, the capital city of the universe with streets of pure gold and plazas of precious stones. God not only longs for you to be there but He has prepared a place for you if you will accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour - John 14:1-3,6
The first two chapters of the Bible describe the first heaven and the first earth
They describe the garden of Eden that humanity lost.
The last two chapters of the Bible describe the new heavens and the new earth.
They describe the garden of Eden restored.
The third chapter of the Bible described the entrance of sin
It describes man being shut out from Eden.
The third to last chapter foretells the end of all sin.
It describes the gates of the New Jerusalem, open to the redeemed.
God has prepared a city for His people (Heb 11:16) which will ultimately rest upon the earth. The cityʼs name is New Jerusalem (Rev 3:12) and it is 2500km around, and high enough that it towers into space! Itʼs big enough to contain billions of people! This will be the capital city of the universe throughout eternity. And it is on this earth and not on one of the un-fallen worlds (the 99 sheep that were not lost according to the parable - Matthew 18:12-13)
1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
1* ¶ And I saw a new heaven In 2Cor 12:2 Paul speaks of “the third heaven.” The first heaven is where the birds fly, the second is where the stars are, the third is where God is. The heaven to be made new is the atmosphere which has been polluted by man's sin.
and a new earth [Gr. kainos, “new” in quality in contrast to the old & worn out. Both occurrences of “new” in this verse are translations from kainos. By using the word kainos John is probably emphasizing the fact that the NEW heavens and earth will be created from purified elements of the OLD earth, and thus be new in quality, different though the materials are the same. The new earth will be a re-forming of existing elements, and not a creation ex-nihilo.
Ecc 1:4 “...the earth abideth for ever.”
Ps 78:69 “...the earth which he hath established for ever. “
John did not use the Greek word ‘neos,’ which is also translated “new” in the NT (Matt 9:17; 1 Cor 5:7; Col 3:10; etc.) and refers to newness in point of time.
The fires which burn up the wicked will purify the elements from which a new earth will be created]:
for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
As the verse refers to the literal earth the sea here refers to the literal sea.
The new earth will be “very good” like the original world (Gen 1:31) as God restores that which was marred by sin. The fact that the new earth has no sea implies that the original world had no sea, though it clearly had great lakes in which the whales swam etc. Where then did todays seas come from? Much of todays oceans, which cover 70% of the earth, are the left over waters of Noahʼs Flood. Much of these waters had been in the “fountains of the great deep” (Gen 7:11), great under ground reservoirs, that were released to Flood the world. In the earth restored we can expect the waters to be returned to these underground fountains so there will be no more immense oceans but lakes of various size in which the water creatures will live.
“In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." Genesis 7:11
Here at the end of verse 1 would have been the best place for the chapter break (remember, the chapter breaks were not given by God but were added by men centuries later. Rev 21:1 really belongs to chapter 20. In Rev 21:2 John now takes us back to the time the New Jerusalem descends to the earth prior to the wicked surrounding it and being destoyed (Rev 20:9)
2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I John saw the holy city
Ancient Jerusalem was called “holy” Dan 9:24; Matt 27:53 but in course of time the spiritual degradation became such that Jesus called the temple a “den of thieves.” (Matt 21:13). The NEW Jerusalem will be “holy”.
new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared
suggests that the preparation had begun in the past and was now ready.
as a bride adorned
[Gr. Kosmeo, “to arrange,” “to furnish,” “to adorn.” The English word cosmetics is derived from kosmeo]
for her husband
NEW JERUSALEM - The city of the saints. Jerusalem means “set ye double peace” see Strongs Concordance. Throughout its history Jerusalem has been far from a city of peace, however, New Jerusalem will be the ultimate city of peace. See more on verse 10.
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.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying
The speaker is not identified but is presumably not God for He is spoken of in the third person.
Behold, the tabernacle
Gr. skene, “[tent,” “booth.” The verb skenoo, “to tent,” “to dwell,” appears in John 1:14, “The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”]
of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them
The earth will be the seat of God’s government.
and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them
God Himself will dwell with men on earth. Three times in this verse John uses the preposition, “with” stressing the amazing fact that God will keep company with men throughout eternity.
“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh...And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, [and there shall be] a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south ...and the LORD my God shall come, [and] all the saints with thee. Zech 14:1-5
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one...” Zech 14:9
4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes
Isaiah 25:6 "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it."
Isaiah 65:19 "And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying."
and there shall be no more death
The passage reads literally, “the death shall be no longer.” The definite article is of significance. This death, the one we know so well and fear so much, shall be no more. Compare Paul’s language, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1Cor 15:54. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death [literally “the death.” (1Cor 15:26)
grief such as accompanies bereavement. cf. Isa 35:10],
[Gr. krauge, “to outcry”
neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things [the things that now are] are passed away.
5. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
And he that sat upon the throne
probably the Father. Some see a reference to Jesus in Matt 25:31
calls attention to something important
I make all things new
[Gr. kainoi. cf. v 1].
And he said unto me, Write
at different places John is commanded to write. cf. 1:19; 2:1; 14:13; etc.]: for these words are true and faithful.
6. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Gratuitously. The gift may be purchased without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1
"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
7. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
He that overcometh
According to the Greek, continually conquers, or habitually conquers. Christ makes a promise "to him that overcometh" of the seven churches of Revelation 2&3 and here in Revelation 21:7 is the eight and final promise that the overcomer will inherit all things. To overcome what? Self and SIN.
shall inherit all things
“The meek shall inherit the earth” To those who keep the commandments of God, overcoming sin, is the promise that they will inherit all things.
and I will be his God, and he shall be my son
An intimate family connection. No beings will be closer to God & Christ than the redeemed sinner. What undeserved love! cf. The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
8. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
A strong contrast is here given. Verse 8 contrasts those who are not overcomers with those in verse 7. These in verse 8 will not inherit eternal life. They will end up in the lake of fire.
Gr. deiloi, “cowardly,” “fearful.” The word is always used in the evil sense of cowardice or unwarranted timidity. cf. Matt 8:26; Mark 4:40; the related verb in John 14:27; and the related abstract noun in 2Tim 1:7
Matthew 8:26 "And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm."
Mark 4:40 "And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?"
Fear is as a result of little or no faith. One who has great faith has nothing to fear. Fear and worry are for the gentiles and not the true Christian.
Those who lack faith
and the abominable
Greek. bdelyssō, to render foul, to cause to be abhorred, to turn one's self away from on account of the stench, abominable, metaph. to abhor, detest, the related verb bdeo, “to stink.” The noun bdelugma occurs in Luke 16:15; Rev 17:4, 5; 21:27
and murderers, and whoremongers
[Gr. porneo, “fornicators.” (See 1Cor 5:9, 10; etc.). The feminine form is translated “harlots” in Matt 21:31, 32; Luke 15:30. cf. Eph 5:3, 5
[Gr. pharmakoi, “practicers of magical arts.” Basically the root refers to magical enchantment, sorcery, and to the use of drugs to produce a stupefied condition. Spiritism is a modern form of sorcery
and idolaters, and all liars
includes those who teach false doctrines. Matthew 24:5,11,23,26
shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death
This is hell-fire. As it is a second death it is clear that it cannot occur until all the wicked have died a first death and been brought to life a second time in the resurection of damnation. As all the wicked have not died their first death, it is clear that hell fire is not yet burning.
Hell-fire is not burning now. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” 2Pet 2:9.
The wicked are presently reserved untill the day of punishment.
Punishment cannot take place until after the judgment, and Paul speaks of “judgment to come.” (Acts 24:25; Rom 2:16).
All men die the first death which is the result of Adamʼs sin, i.e. they inherit a mortal body. Those who do not accept Christʼs death in their place will die the second death which is a result of their own sin. The second death can only occur after a second life. This second but brief life the wicked will receive in the second resurrection at the end of the 1000 years (See on Rev 20:5). The Lake of fire - Hell fire, therefore occurs after the second resurrection at the end of the 1000 years. The wicked will be burned up in the end of the world. (Matt 13:40-42).
The fire which consumes the wicked will cleanse the world. As Noahʼs ark floated on the waters so the Holy city will float on the fire. When the fire has done its work God will create the new heavens and earth.
9. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
In Rev 17:1 one of the plague angels showed John the great whore who is called that great city, Babylon. Here in Rev 21, one of the plague angels shows John the holy city, New Jerusalem, which is said to be a bride. Clearly, then, the bride represents the Holy City, and the virgins that go out to meet the bridegroom are a symbol of the church. In the Revelation the people of God are said to be the guests at the marriage supper. Revelation 19:9. If guests, they cannot be represented also as the bride. cf Matthew 25:1
10. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
And he carried me away in the spirit
John is carried away in vision. cf. Rev 1:10; Eze 8:3; Dan 8:2
to a great and high mountain
Perhaps the Mount of Olives upon which Christ will decend with His saints, splitting it to form a great plain upon which the New Jerusalem will settle (Zech 14:4-5)
and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God Christ is preparing this place for us. A colossal space city of vast proportions that is to settle on the earth.
THE BIBLE IS A TALE OF TWO CITIES - JERUSALEM & BABYLON
Means Confusion - Gen 11:9
City of God
Golden city - Isaiah 14:4
Watered by the River of Life
Watered by the River Euphrates
River of Life flows out of the City
River Euphrates flows into & out of the city
Home of the Righteous
Home of the unrighteous
God’s Jerusalem and Satan’s Babylon are the two main cities of Scripture.
Life giving rivers ran out of both.
The river of New Jerusalem has its origin within the city
This river cannot be cut off.
Babylon's river Euphrates had its origin outside the city.
The river Euphrates was cut off.
God is the Life-Giver and His life cannot be cut off.
Satan is no life giver and his life will be cut off in the Lake of Fire
The river in Eden flowed out of her (Gen 2:10-14) and then parted into four rivers
The names of the rivers which the river of Eden divided into were:
Pison - ”Increase”
Gihon - “Bursting forth”
Hiddekel - “Rapid”
Euphrates - “Fruitfulness” from a root word meaning “break forth,” “rush"
Could it be that this will be a similar arrangement in the new earth.
11. Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
Having the glory of God: and her light
the radiance of God. cf. Rev 21:23 - "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
[was] like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal
Gr. krustallizo, “to flash forth light.” The English word “crystal” is derived from krustallizo
A city of gold and crystals. Imagine the light shining through the transparent architecture of precious stones, Rubies, Emeralds, Diamonds
12. And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
And had a wall great and high, [and] had twelve gates
cf. the city seen by Ezekiel. Eze 48:31-34 - "And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali."
and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel
Named after the 12 tribes of Israel. All who enter, including Christians, (cf James 1:1) will do so as members of the twelve tribes.
13. On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
14. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
NEW JERUSALEM - A CITY OF 12’s
12 Gates have the names of the 12 tribes
12 Foundations have the names of the 12 apostles.
Walls are 12 x 12 cubits, i.e. 144 cubits (See Rev 21:17)
Size of the city 12,000cubits (v 16)
12 angels at the gates
12 kinds of fruit
12 is consistently associated with church government:
The church was organized under 12 tribes in the Old Testament.
12 apostles in the New Testament
The church (Adam to Noah) led by 12 patriarchs, if Shem & Japheth included (Gen 5).
The church in the time of the judges was led by 12 judges.
The OT priesthood consisted of 24 shifts of priests (12 x 2) (1 Chron 24:1-18).
The elect just prior to Christ’s return will be organized into 12 groups of 12000
The 144,000 = 12x12000. Gen 49; Rev 21:12, 14; 7:4-8.
The leadership of the O.T. were the founders of the 12 tribes
The leadership of the early N.T. church were the 12 Apostles
The leadership of the end -time N.T. church will be the 144,000
The number of Christ’s kingdom throughout history has therefore been 12 - 12, 12, 12
The number of the beast kingdom throughout history has been 6 - 6,6,6
The most common number in Revelation is 7. The 12’s here mark a break with the 7, however the break is not complete. 7 is 3 + 4 and 12 is 3 x 4.
15. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
cf golden reed [Rev 11:1] to measure the city, and the gates thereof [No dimension is given of the gates], and the wall thereof.
16. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
And the city lieth foursquare
The priest breastplate which held twelve precious stones representing the twelve tribes was also “square” Exo 28:16
and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs
2220km meaning 555km per side
The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal
Gk. ‘isos’ possibly meaning in proportion. The most holy place of the sanctuary was of equal proportions, a cube (1Kings 6:20).
The most Holy place in the sanctuary was a perfect square cube containing the ark, the repository of the ten commandments. Above it was the throne of God and the shekinah glory of Godʼs presence. So the New Jerusalem appears to be a perfect square. Within is the ark holding the ten commandments, the foundation of Godʼs government and above the law will be Godʼ upon His throne. The dimensions indicate a city of approximately 555km on each side. If the height is the same as the sides it would reach hundreds of kilometers beyond the atmosphere into space.
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.
Whether this refers to the height or the thickness we are not told here. As the Bible specifies that the walls of Babylon were “broad,” or very thick, and as New Jerusalem and Babylon are clearly to be compared, we might think that the 144 cubits refers to the thickness of the walls. Jer 51:58 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The BROAD WALLS OF BABYLON shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire...”
144 reminds us of the 144,000 (Rev 7, 14) They play a part in the final eradication of Satan and evil. They are the strong man who led the scapegoat into the wilderness in the Sanctuary Day of Atonement service. Their strength was remaining loyal and obedient to Christ even through the final events of the old world.
A cubit is approximately the distance from the middle finger to the elbow or about 45cm, (18inches). As the measurements are according to measure of “the angel” they may be quite different in our terms.
The 12 foundations memorialise the 12 apostles.
So the wall of 144,000 cubits memorialise the 144,000 who stood firm in the final conflict.
Old Testament - 12 Tribes.
New Testament - 12 Apostles.
Last generation - 144,000.
18. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
19. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20. The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
Reminds us of the breastplate the High priest wore which was covered in precious stones representing Godʼs people. See Exo 28:15-21.
Jasper - a precious stone of various colours (for some are purple, others blue, others green, and others the colour of brass)
“There is one kind called the Aeizusa, like to air and another Crystallizusa, clear as crystal. So Pliny speaks of a white Jasper called Astrios, and which, he says is "crystallo propinquans", near to crystal, found in India, and on the shores of Pallene.” Gill
According to Strong’s Concordance the colours of the stones are as follows:
Jasper - Clear (cf. verse 11) or Purple, blue, green
Sapphire - Blue
Chalcedony - Misty grey colour, clouded with blue, yellow, or purple
Emerald - Green
Sardonyx - Red colours of the carnelian (sard) and the white of the onyx
Sardius - Flesh coloured
Chrysolite - Golden colour
Beryl - Pale green
Topaz - Greenish yellow
Chrysoprasus - Golden greenainbow
Jacinth - Dark blue verging on black
Amethist - Violet & purple colour
These are the colours of the rainbow which brings to mind God’s covenant, the foundation of salvation. Just as the rainbow appeared in the sky to those who passed from the old world to the new in Noah’s day, so a rainbow of colours will be seen by those who pass from the present world to the world to come.
As the rainbow in the sky was produced by water, the agent of destruction, so the rainbow gem stones in New Jerusalem are the product of the fires of the earth, the end time agent of destruction.
As Noah’s ark rode out the watery calamity, so New Jerusalem will ride out the firery catastrophy that destroys the wicked and cleanses the earth.
A CITY OF LIFE NOT DEATH
The city is made entirely of crystals, gems and precious metals. No wood, no animal skins or the like. Nothing died to give its skin or body for the construction of this city. The only death neccessary to make this place was that of the Lamb of God.
21. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls
SUFFERING - THE PRICE OF ADMISSION
Pearls are the product of an oysters sufferings. If an oyster is unable to expel a particle of irritating grit from within it’s shell it will slowly cover it with pearl. The ʻtearsʼ of the oyster. A
reminder of the sufferings of Christ which won for us all an entrance into the city. The eternal walls and gates will forever remind the redeemed of the fear and danger sin causes and the refuge God gives. The gates of the city will remind us that our entry permit to heaven cost the suffering of Christ. He is the Pearl of Great Price (Matt 13:46).
These gates will only be shut once in eternity when the wicked surround the city at the end of the millennium (cf v 25; Rev 20:9)
every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold
that which is highly esteemed among the world is trodden underfoot by those with Christ’s character. The saints will walk on streets of Gold. It will be seen that the most precious things in the universe are souls for whom Christ died. “I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” Isa 13:12
as it were transparent glass
either see through or so polished that the reflections in it make it look transparent.
22. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
And I saw no temple therein
There will be no temple in the city. The temple had been the centre of Jewish life but here in the New Jerusalem it is no more. It is no more needed for sin is ended.
for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it
Emmanuel, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
23. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Throughout this transparent city the source of all light, God Himself, will shine. The Sun and Moon symbolized the Scriptures, the revelations of God (See study on Revelation 12). In the New Jerusalem God will be present and we will see Him face to face. The city is illuminated by the Lord. It does not need the sun though the sun and moon (Isaiah 66:23) will still be there. Through its transparent crystal walls and gems the radiant light of God will flood the entire city.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
And the nations [Gr. ethnos - is normally translated “Gentiles”]
of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it
The ethnos are regarded by God as part of His Israel and enter through the gates named after the twelve tribes
25. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
The gates will not need to be shut. There will be no enemies or dangers there.
26. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
27. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
cf Revelation 13:8, 22:14,15. Nothing that defileth can enter in because sin and sinners are no more.
Rev 13:8 - "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Rev 22:14,15 - "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
Jesus invites you: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Rev 22:17