Revelation 21 - Outline of Revelation (MENU page)
21:1 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.
In ch. 21, some interpreters see the Millennial Kingdom, others see the Eternal Heavenly State.
Both events blend together in other prophetic passages: Isa 65:17-25; 66:22
[eg., In the new heaven and new earth, there will be no more death (v.4). Yet, both are mentioned together in the Isaiah 65 passage, above.]
new...passed away...- The normal reading of this chapter, and the chronologic flow from ch. 20
(which closes after the Millennial Kingdom) direct our gaze from earth to the Heavenly city.
cp. 2Pet 3:10-13
no more sea- Note that the sea will still exist during Messiah's earthly millennial kingdom.
Psa 72:8; Isa 11:9,11; Eze 47:8,20; 48:28; Zech 9:10; 14:8
21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down from God out of heaven,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
This city has been the hope & goal of saints from all ages.
Joh 14:2,3; 2Cor 5:1; Heb 11:10,13-16; Rev 3:12
as a bride- The city is not the Bride (see 19:7-9) but is "adorned as a bride."
The Bride, and all others who dwell in this city, live to honor her Husband (the Lord).
adorned- GK= kosmeo, prepared, arranged.
GK root word= kosmos. The order of this city will be universally centered in Him.
21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold,
the tabernacle of God [is] with men,
and he will dwell
{ie., tabernacle} with them, and they shall be his people,
and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.
Behold...- See for yourself...
the tabernacle of God... dwell with... be with- cp. Mat 1:23; Joh 1:14
(In John 1:14, the word 'dwelt' is literally 'tabernacled' or 'tented.')
his people...their God- This is the final fulfilment of the New Covenant:
Jer 31:33; Eze 11:19,20; 37:26-27; 2Cor 6:16; Heb 8:10
God Himself shall be with them...-
The implication is that the final consummation of all things has taken place. cp. 1Cor 15:24-28
21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears {lit., every tear} 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.
God shall...- in 7:17, Christ comforted the tribulation saints.
Here, God wipes away the tears of all saints.
the former things are passed away- ie., the condition (sin) from which their sorrows flowed.
The curse (Gen 3:16-19) is fully cured. (cp. Rev 22:3)
The Giver, of every good and perfect gift, dwells among His people (Jam 1:15-18).
21:5 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.
He that sat- lit., the One sitting, ie., God. cp 3:21; 4:2,3; 5:13
I make all things new- The word 'make' {GK= poieo} means to 'bring forth, to do, to form something out of something.'
  • Today, all is marred by sin. Nothing we do is fully satisfying, complete, or lasting.
    We wait for Him to do what we cannot. Psa 90:15-17
  • Today, His people are already new creations.
    But then, He will complete the new thing that He has begun in us. 2Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; 1Joh 3:2
  • Today, the whole creation groans under the effects of sin.
    But then, He will transform it into the perfect place for His perfected people. Rom 8:20-25; 1Cor 2:9
21:6 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.
it is done- The totality of God's revelation to man is fulfilled / accomplished / completed.
(cp. regarding the completion of His judgments upon the earth: 16:17; 17:17)
Alpha & Omega- the Lord Jesus Christ (1:8,11) brackets & sums up human history.
As Creator, He began man's story at a definite point in time. (Joh 1:1-3)
. . . As Judge, He brings it to a close at a definite point in time. (Rev. ch. 19 & 20)
As Savior, He brought each of His own to new birth. (Eph 2:1)
. . . As Lord, He matures and sustains them continually in His life. (Heb 12:2)
water of life- It is reserved for those who thirst for Him. Mat 5:6; Joh 4:14
Those, who thirst for Him, will be continually and eternally satisfied in Him.
21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things;
Who is he that overcomes?
1Joh 5:4,5
inherit- cp. Rom 8:16,17; 1Cor 3:21-23
-all things- Nothing can be added to the next line:
and I will be his God {lit., be God to him}, and he shall be my son {lit., be to me the son}.
his God- Christ's mediatorial role has ended.
Edenic fellowship with the Triune God has been completely restored. [JOYoder]
my son- GK= uios.
In John's writings, this word expresses the uniqueness of the father/son relationship (sometimes in the human realm) but most often regarding the only Son of God (eg., Joh 1:18; 3:35).
     John often refers to believers as 'little children' {GK= teknon, born ones (translated as 'sons' in Joh 1:12 and 1Joh 3:2)}. 'Sons' {GK= uios} implies a dignity and depth of relationship, between the Father and His adult Son (1Joh 1:3). Such a relationship is beyond the reach of an immature child. But now, through the Son, many sons have been fully brought to glory (Heb 2:9,10).
21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving,
and the abominable
{ie., those defiled with abominations},
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.
The status of the lost (20:15) is not changed, when all things are made new.
They are eternally separated from God, and from His new order.
They can neither enter into the Lord's presence, nor corrupt His people.
This description of the lost should remind us of the greatness of God's grace towards those who are saved (cp. 1Cor 6:9-11).
21:9 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,
angel- perhaps the same angel who showed John the mystery & destruction of
the great Harlot (17:1). The contrast could not be greater:
Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
the bride- The glimpse of New Jerusalem (in v.2) is about to be expanded.
This city is not to be thought of as a beautiful shell or structure.
- - This is the eternal abode of the Lamb and His Bride.
- - The city glows with the glory of its inhabitants.
In Millennial Jerusalem, righteousness reigns (with a rod of iron).
- - In New Jerusalem, righteousness dwells (at rest).
21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain,
Contrast the vantage points from which the Harlot and the Bride are viewed-
-- a wilderness (speaking of the barren waste of Babel's confusion, 17:3)
-- a great & high mountain (speaking of the strength & order of the Lord's kingdom, Dan 2:35,44,45)
and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
that great city...holy...- cf. the unholy state of earthly Jerusalem (11:8) and Babylon (17:18; 18:10)
New Jerusalem is great-
  1. in size (v.16),
  2. in number of dwelling places (Joh 14:2),
  3. But mostly- because of the presence of God (Rev 21:11,22,23).
out of heaven, from God-
This city has foundations (v.19), but it is not founded on the earth (2Cor 5:1).
This city has a Builder, but it is not touched by man's self-determination. Heb 11:10; cf. Gen 11:3,4
21:11 Having the glory of God:
Here is the realization of "the hope of the glory of God." (Rom 5:2)
The presence of God is the source of this glory.
The presence of the saints will neither hinder nor diminish His glory. [McGee]
and her light [was] like unto a stone most precious,
even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
light- GK= phoster, light giver, light bearer.
The source of light is God & the Lamb (v.23).
jasper- probably a diamond.
clear- GK= krustallizo, crystalline, transparent, bright, shining (in the glory of the Lord).
21:12 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:
a walled city- secure and unified.
twelve gates- (There are 7 groups of 12 in this passage. See v.12, v.14, v.16, 21 and 22:2)
The names of Israel's tribes, on the entrances to the city of the Lamb's Bride, will eternally remind us that "salvation is of the Jews" (Joh 4:22; Rom 1:16).
21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates;
on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
This design was foreshadowed by the pattern of Israel's encampment, with three tribes on each side of the Tabernacle in the wilderness (as described in Numbers ch. 2).
The assigned order of names to gates, during the Millennial Kingdom, is given in Eze 48:31-34.
(Presumably, this order applies to the heavenly Jerusalem also.)
21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,
and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
twelve tribes + twelve apostles- shows the unity of believers in Christ:
Rom 3:29,30; Eph 2:14
foundations- The household of God is "built upon...the apostles and prophets..."
Eph 2:19,20; 3:5; Acts 1:1,2
21:15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed
to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
he- ie., the angel of v.9.
measure- Speaks of the certainty of the things measured. (See note at 11:1)
21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth:
and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.
The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
foursquare- The city is a cube,
as was the Holy of Holies in the OT Tabernacle & Temple.
furlong- GK= stadia (approx. 600 feet) x 12,000 = about 1,400 miles on a side.
cf. The Millennial Jerusalem is 4,500 reeds (approx. 10 ft/reed) or about 9 miles square (Eze 48:30).
Dr. McGee suggests that the city may actually be a cube inside a sphere
(slightly larger than the moon) suspended above the earth.
Its inhabitants dwell inside the city, rather than on the surface of the sphere.
21:17 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.
144 cubits (note the multiple of 12)-
-about 216 feet high (cp. v.12), if the human measure applies (approx. 1 cubit= 18 inches),
or, perhaps the measure is of the wall's thickness? (cp. the wall of the Millennial Temple in Eze 41:9,12)
It is hard to imagine a wall around a city suspended in space.
But it suggests that the city's occupants live in security and peace.
21:18 And the building of the wall of it was [of] jasper:
and the city [was] pure gold, like unto clear glass.
building- GK= endomesis, structure, construction, composition.
pure...clear...- GK= katharos, pure, clean, clear.
glass- GK= hualos, transparent material. The wealth of this city is not in the precious gems & metals,
but in the Light which flows freely through everything.
21:19 And the foundations of the wall of the city [were] garnished
with all manner of precious stones.
garnished- GK= kosmeo, adorned. See note at v.2, above.
The foundations reflect / refract the glories of the Light Giver.
Apart from Him they would have no beauty or color.
Compare the colors below with the rainbow in 4:3, which 'like an emerald' also seems tinted toward green.
The first foundation [was] jasper;clear
the second, sapphire;blue (cp. Ex 24:10)
the third, a chalcedony;greenish
the fourth, an emerald;green
21:20 The fifth, sardonyx;reddish
the sixth, sardius;firey red
the seventh, chrysolite;golden yellow
the eighth, beryl;sea green
the ninth, a topaz;greenish yellow
the tenth, a chrysoprasus; golden green
the eleventh, a jacinth; violet
the twelfth, an amethyst. purple
21:21 And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls;
every several gate was of one pearl:
pearls- bear testimony to the grace of God by which men enter this city.
Natural pearls are formed as a clam or oyster deals with an irritant (a foreign object or parasite) by covering it with layer upon layer of something beautiful. Likewise, the Lord was longsuffering toward sinful men, as He bore the cost of changing their character into that which reflects His glory. Mat 13:45,46; Eph 2:7; Mal 3:17
and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
street- GK= platein, broad way (cp. word use in Rev 11:8; 22:2).
The word is singular, not that this is a one street town, but that there is one great transparent commons which interconnects the many places prepared (Joh 14:2). All residents are in unbroken direct fellowship with the Lord and with one another (cp. 1Joh 1:3).
gold...- The streets are not so much paved with gold as with the Light.
transparent...- No shadow hides the Light Giver's glory shining from within the city.
21:22 And I saw no temple therein:
for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
no temple- Millennial Jerusalem has a Temple (described in great detail in Ezekiel ch. 40 - 47).
temple- GK= naos, holy place. There is no designated holy place, for where God dwells, all is holy.
cp. Eph 2:19-22, which uses the same word for temple, preceded by "holy", ie., "a holy, holy place in the Lord."
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
{ie., lamp, light source} thereof.
The glory of God, which illuminates the city, also illuminates the new earth over which it is suspended. Isa 60:19,20
21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in {by} the light of it:
and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
nations- GK= ethnos, gentiles, heathen, race, nation.
Since the city is over the nations, some interpreters apply ch. 21 to the Millennium.
However, these nations "are saved." It is not a question of Jew/gentile or saved/unsaved.
These may be the families of the redeemed, on the new earth, in the eternal state.
kings- Again, some see the Millennial Kingdom here.
However, the Church saints will reign 'on' (lit., "over," 5:10) the earth, forever (22:5).
21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day:
for there shall be no night there.
21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
In the Millennial Kingdom, the gates "shall not be shut day nor night" (Isa 60:11,12).
But here, there is no night. Neither is there any enemy to shut out. All citizens of this kingdom are new creatures in Christ, now fully perfected, and enjoying complete freedom in glad service to their Lord.
Dr. McGee sees Israel & the redeemed nations dwelling on the new earth and commuting for worship to the New Jerusalem, where the Church dwells.
21:27 And there shall in no wise {way} 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.
makes a lie- One can lie without saying a word, by the thought and intent of the heart,
and by actions which contradict one's words. cp. Rev 22:15
there shall in no {way} enter...-
  • Some say this implies that there are still unsaved people on earth, but they cannot enter the city, though the gates of the Millennial Kingdom are continually open. [JBS]
  • Others see here an emphasis on the absolute purity of the citizens of the eternal city. Only those, who have been made pure by the blood of the Lamb, will enter the new earth, new heaven, and new Jerusalem (cp. Joh 3:3; 14:3; 1Joh 3:1,2).
    All who were not found written in the Lamb's book of life (ie., all unredeemed sinners) will be excluded from the city, because they were previously consigned to the Lake of Fire (v.8). The term "without," in 22:14,15, refers to this permanent exclusion from the city of God.

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