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Revelation 21 Commentary ll

Revelation 21 - Commentary II

Verses 21:1-2: Chapters 21 and 22 are a description of the eternal state (following the Millennium and the final judgment), centering in the "new Jerusalem" as the eternal habitation of the saved (cf. Heb. 11:10; 12:22-24).

"The first heaven and the first earth" are replaced by the New Heaven and the New Earth, predicted by Isaiah (compare Isa. 65:17; 66:22). The present universe will thus be cleansed from all the effects of sin (compare 2 Peter 3-7, 10-13). Since there will be "no more sea", the increased land space will be fully capable of handling large numbers of redeemed people from all ages. The New Jerusalem is fully described (in 21:10 - 22:5). It is a holy city, totally separate from sin. (compare verses 8, 27; 22:15). It is being "prepared" (Greek hetoimazo; compare John 14:3), as the habitation of the bride of Christ (compare verse 9). "From God" shows its divine purpose, and "out of heaven" its divine origin.

Revelation 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."

As the chapter opens, all the sinners of all the ages, both demons and men, including Satan, the beast and false prophet, are in the lake of fire forever. The whole universe has been destroyed, and God creates a new universe to be the eternal dwelling place of the redeemed.

"A new heaven and a new earth": The entire universe as we now know it will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10-13), and be replaced by a new creation that will last forever. This is a Old Testament reality (Psalm 105:25-26; Isa. 65:17; 66:22), as well as a New Testament one (Luke 21:33; Heb. 1:10-12; see note on 20:11-15).

"There was no more sea": Currently three-fourths of the earth's surface is water, but the new environment will no longer be water based and will have completely different climatic conditions (see notes on 22:1-2).

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up (2 Pet. 3:10).

"A new heaven and a new earth": The "new heaven" is the atmospheric heaven around and above the earth.

This area has been the domain of Satan (see Eph. 2:2), and must be purified before the heaven of God can come down to the new earth. This new earth will be a perfect environment similar to that of the Garden of Eden. A unique distinction of this new earth will be that the vast oceans of water that now cover three fourths of the world's surface will not be included, leaving much more habitable land for the population of the redeemed.

This "new heaven and new earth" are actually a heavenly pattern of what the Garden of Eden was a miniature of on earth. We will see the Tree of Life restored with water that flows from the throne of God. It didn't rain in the Garden of Eden. Plants were watered from beneath the earth. The water in the Garden of Eden flowed out in four rivers (symbolic of enough for the whole world). This river that flows from the throne of God is the same water that Jesus told the woman at the well, if she drank it, she would never thirst again.

Verses 21:2 - 22:5: By this point in the chronology of Revelation, Old Testament saints, tribulation saints, and all those converted during the millennial kingdom will be incorporated into the ultimate redeemed bride and will dwell in the New Jerusalem. John described the consummation of all things in Christ and the New Jerusalem descending into the eternal state (compare 19:7; 20:6; 1 Cor. 15:28; Heb. 12:22-24).

Revelation 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."

"New Jerusalem" (compare 3:12; Heb. 11:10; 12:22-24; 13:14). This is the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness. It is seen "coming down out of heaven" indicating it already existed; but it descends into the new heavens and new earth from its place on high. This is the city where the saints will live (compare John 14:1-3).

This city is the bride of Christ as well; just in the same way that Babylon was an evil city and was the apostate church, all at the same time.

"Bride": An important New Testament metaphor for the church (compare Matt. 25:1-13; Eph. 5:25-27). John's imagery here extends from the third part of the Jewish wedding, the ceremony. Believers (the bride), in the New Jerusalem come to meet Christ (the bridegroom), in the final ceremony of redemptive history (see note on 19:7). The whole city, occupied by all the saints, is called the bride, so that all saints must be finally included in the bride imagery and bridal blessing. God has brought home a bride for His beloved Son. All the saints live with Christ in the Father's house (a promise made before the church began (John 14:2).

Now John sees the new holy city which is not heaven, but is called that since everyone who will be in it is holy. This is Christ's Kingdom. "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection" (20:6).

New Jerusalem will be coming down to the new heaven and new earth mentioned (in verse 1). The old heaven and earth which was (in 20:11), fled away and was no more.

The city is illustrated as a bride because it contains the bride and takes on her character. John saw the bride adorned for her husband because the time for the consummation had arrived. The concept of the bride includes not only the church, but all the rest of the redeemed from all the ages who will live forever in that eternal city.

1 Cor. 15:28 "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all".

 Verses 3-5: "Tabernacle of God": The presence of God will be with His "people", and He will forever "dwell with them". A primary purpose of redemption will be accomplished: the complete fellowship of God with His redeemed people. In the eternal state, there will be no "tears, death, sorrow, crying," or "pain". Everything will become "new". God's promises are "true", and He is always "faithful" to His Word (compare 19:11).

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."

"The tabernacle of God is with men": The tabernacle was the original symbol of God dwelling with His people. In eternity, mankind will dwell with God. In that eternal state, we will not only enjoy fellowship with our redeemed loved ones but will also have actual fellowship with God Himself.

"Tabernacle" here means dwelling place of God. No longer will he be far off. No longer will he be "veiled" in the human form of Jesus Christ, in a cloud, a pillar of fire or in a Holy of Holies (compare Lev. 26:11-12; Deut. 12:5).

Heaven to me, is where ever Jesus is. Just like God walked with Adam in the garden of Eden, He will be in heaven with us continually. The Bible says, if we are not ashamed of Jesus here on this earth, He will not be ashamed of us in heaven. He will claim us as His very own. He will fellowship with us all the time.

Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.".

Revelation 21:4 "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."

"Wipe away all tears": Since there will never be a tear in heaven, nothing will be sad, disappointing, deficient, or wrong (compare Isa. 53:4-5; 1 Cor. 15:54-57).

All tears, pain, sorrow, and death will be removed in that heavenly New Jerusalem where Christians will live. This is the exact opposite of the curse that resulted from Adam's sin (see Gen. 3:16-19). The effects of the curse are removed, and all things are made new. God does not merely repair the creation, He re-creates it for His children to enjoy for all eternity.

Just as the disciples knew security when Jesus was there to take care of all their needs, we will know perfect peace and joy in heaven. Jesus is the king of peace. Jesus defeated death on the cross. The biggest fear of mankind is death. We just read where the Christians will not taste the second death. This fear is gone away. Death will no longer hang over the Christian. The Christian has eternal life (not death).

There won't be any reason to cry for in heaven. The devil and all his problems he brought upon the Christians have been thrown into the lake of fire. Every negative thing has been done away with.

Revelation 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."

"The One who sits on the throne said", is the same One "from whose presence earth and heaven fled away (Rev. 20:11).

Here we see God sitting on the throne saying that He "makes all things new". When we are saved we become a new creature. We know this saying is true for the believer. Just as He did not throw us away and get a new person: He says here "I make all things new".

He did not say He made new things. He just takes the old things and transforms them into new. Here we see that Jesus commanded John to write, because all the things he has been shown are true. Jesus is the truth.

"True and faithful" (compare 3:14; 9:11). God always speaks truth (John 17:17).

Verses 6-8: "It is done": The eternal purpose of God to gather a holy, devoted people for Himself has now been accomplished. "Alpha and Omega" (see 1:8; 22:13).

"Beginning": God is the origin and source of all things (compare Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).

"End": He is also the goal or aim of all things (compare Rom. 10:4).

"The water of life" represents eternal sustenance and provision (compare 22:1; Psalm 36:9; Isa. 55:1; Jer. 2:13; John 4:14), available "freely" by faith (22:17).

"He that overcometh" is the one who has genuine, saving, persevering faith (compare 2:11; 3:5; 1 John 5:4-5). He will "inherit" all that belongs to him as a "son" of God (compare John 1:12; Rom. 8:16-17; Gal. 3:29; 4:7). But sinners, who have shown their rebellion against God by their life-style of sin, have already been cast into the "lake" of "fire" (20:12-15; compare 22:15).

The "second death" is eternal death (compare 20:14).

Revelation 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."

"Alpha and Omega" (see note on 1:8).

It is done. These words mark the end of redemptive history. This is a statement (Gr. gegonan) of divine finality. It represents God's promise that this new state will be forever. Alpha and Omega is the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Hence, this phrase represents the sum of all things. In (Rev. 1:11; 22:12-13), it is used of Christ. Here it is used of God the Father ("He that sat on the throne"), indicating the deity of both the Father and the Son.

Just as Jesus said on the cross "It is finished". You see, Jesus is the way to get to the water of life. In fact, He is the water. He is life (see article "Tree of Life - River of Water of Life"). He who hungers and thirst after righteousness shall be filled. There is nothing before Him and nothing after Him.

"Him that is athirst": Heaven belongs to those who, knowing their souls are parched by sin, have earnestly sought the satisfaction of salvation and eternal life (compare Psalm 42:1-2; Isa. 55:1-2; John 7:37-38).

A citizen of heaven is described as one who "thirsts", signifying those who recognize their desperate spiritual need, "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matt. 5:6).

"Water of life" (compare 7:17; 22:1, 17). The lasting spiritual water of which Jesus spoke (John 4:13-14; 7:37-38; compare Isa. 55:1-2).

Revelation 21:7 "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."

"He that overcometh" (compare 1 John 5:4-5). Anyone who exercises saving faith in Jesus Christ (see note on 2:7).

An overcomer is one who exercises saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A person who in faith drinks the water of salvation freely offered by God. Each of the seven letters to the churches (in Rev. chapters 2 and 3), end in the promise of he that overcomes will inherit these things.

Just as a bride is an equal inheritor of all that is her husband's, so the Church, the Bride of Christ, will inherit all that is His. He even promises that He will be our God and we shall be His son. These terms of endearment are experiences we as Christians shall enjoy forever.

"Inherit": The spiritual inheritance all believers will receive (1 Peter 1:4; compare Matt. 25:23), is the fullness of the new creation (compare Rom. 8:16-17).

From this scripture, we see there is something we must overcome. If we are faithful to Him in the face of all odds, we will inherit eternal life. The New Testament is actually an inheritance to the believers. If we believe, we can collect on that inheritance. Whoever we are faithful to, is our God. If he is our God, He will claim us as His son.

Revelation 21:8 "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 solemn, serious warning about the kinds of people who will be outcasts from the new heaven and the new earth in the lake of fire. The New Testament often goes beyond just citing unbelief in listing character and lifestyle traits of the outcast, so that believers can identify such people (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19; compare John 8:31).

The contrasts between (verses 7-8), are graphic. They represent the age-old concept that there are only two kinds of people with God, believers and unbelievers. They experience two different lifestyles on earth and go to two different eternal destinies. Believers go to "eternal life" while unbelievers experience "the second death," which is the lake of fire.

Fear is not of God. Fear is the opposite of faith. In fact, it is mentioned twice here by saying "fearful and unbelieving". Jesus cannot be someone's Savior, unless they believe that He is their Savior.

The Bible speaks of sins such as homosexuality as being an abomination. Here, we see those who do abominable things taking part in the second death. Abomination, meaning vile, polluted, detestable, wholly caught up in wickedness and evil. Here, we see those who do abominable things taking part in the second death.

Notice here this says "murderers", not accidental killing or killing in war. This is premeditated murder, or those who hate their neighbors.

We see here "whoremongers". This is a person who has dealings with prostitutes, especially a sexually promiscuous man (this means not only in the physical but also in the spiritual).

"Sorcerers" has to do with the occult and also drugs (see note on 9:27).

"Idolaters" has to do with anything or anyone you put ahead of God.

"Liars" can do more harm than you can imagine. Many have a tendency to tell little white lies, but any untruth is a lie.

Those whose lives are characterized by such things give evidence that they are not saved and will not enter into the heavenly city.

"Lake which burneth with fire (see note on 19:20). "Brimstone" (see note on 9:17). "Second death" (see

note on 20:6).

After we are forgiven of our sins and born again, we must practice salvation. We must not have the habit of

sinning. We may slip and sin, but if we do, we have an advocate with the Father. Repent and ask forgiveness, and then as Jesus told the woman who the Pharisees had caught in the art of adultery, "Go and sin no more". Do not practice sin. The horror of it all if you do not change from these evils, is that you will be thrown into the lake of fire.

 Verses 9-21: These verses describe the beauty and glory of the "holy Jerusalem". It is called Christ's "bride" (compare verse 2), a reference perhaps to the church as the city's principal inhabitant. It is an expression of the "glory of God". The "wall" shows its security and protection. Its "gates" show accessibility. Saved "Israel" is also present. It has dimensions of approximately 1500 miles cubed. The "gold" and "precious stones" may be earthly materials glorified (compare 1 Cor. 15:50-54). They depict the glory, beauty, and eternal quality of the city. "Jasper" is green, "sapphire" is blue, "chalcedony" is green, "emerald" is green, "sardonyx" is red and white, "sardius" is blood red, "chrysolite" is yellow or gold, "beryl" is green, "topaz" is greenish gold or yellow, "chrysoprasus" is green, "Jacinth" is bluish purple, and "amethyst" is purple quartz. The effect is a magnificent city of brilliant gold adorned with gems of every color. There appears to be only on "street" (compare 22:2), also made of "pure", radiant "gold".

Verses 9-10: "The Lamb's wife": The New Jerusalem takes on the character of its inhabitants, the redeemed (see notes on verse 2; 19:7-9).

Revelation 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, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife."

From the past, at the beginning of the millennium, one of the seven angels who poured out a bowl or vial appeared to John.

"Seven vials" (see note on 15:7). "Seven last plagues" (see note on 15:1-8).

Now the angel was to show John the Lamb's bride, the Lamb's wife. New Jerusalem is likened to a bride because the redeemed are forever united to God and the Lamb.

At this point, the marriage has already taken place (in 19:7), and now is referred to as "The Lamb's Wife.

Revelation 21:10 "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,"

That great city, the holy Jerusalem. The Lamb's wife is described as the new city of Jerusalem. This magnificent city is where the bride of Christ (the Church), will live forever. The most dominant characteristic of the holy city is the presence of God's Glory, which personifies God's presence with His people. The Glory that departed from the Old Jerusalem (see Ezek. Chapters 8 to 11), is restored to the New Jerusalem of the future.

John's incredible vision began when the angel carried him away in the Spirit (in Rev. 1), where he received the visions that make up the book of Revelation. John's visions were not dreams, but spiritual realities, like the one's Paul saw when he was also caught up to the third heaven (see note on 1:10).

From John's vantage point atop a great and high mountain, he repeats his observation (of verse 2), that New Jerusalem came down out of heaven from God, emphasizing its divine origin.

Note what is described here is not the creation of heaven, but the descent of what already existed from eternity past. Now it's being situated in the center of the new heaven and the new earth.

Rev. 21 Commentary Cont'd

I.  New Jerusalem On The New Earth (Rev 21:1-11)

John now turns our attention to a description of the renovated heavens and earth.  John tells us this heaven and earth is "new" which tells us that it is different, changed from the heaven and earth with which we are familiar.  This new world no longer has "seas".  The sea in the Bible represents unrest and chaos of lost mankind.  This new world will no longer feel the presence of the lost, nor will it experience the unrest and upheaval of sin upon it.

John sees a heavenly city descend to this New Earth.  This city is the dwelling place of God come down to the earth.  It symbolizes God's presence being given to the saints to enjoy Him eternally.   This city is said to be very beautiful, like a bride that is prepared for marriage.

John describes God's relationship with His people in this wondrous city.   God will be with them, they will learn of Him, worship Him, and serve Him.  John also tells us that the results of sin will be done away.  There will be no more crying, sorrow, or pain.

God promises to make an entirely new type of existence for His people.  It will be like nothing we have experienced on earth.  This is a promise that we can rely upon.  We can know with certainty that this wonderful eternal existence awaits the people of God.

The Lord then extends an invitation for all of mankind to come to Him and enjoy these blessings that await His people.  Those who come to Him will be victorious overcomers in this sinful world, they will inherit these eternal blessings and will enter into a family relationship with Him as the children of God.  However, those who reject this invitation and choose to remain in their sinfulness will face a horrible eternity of separation from God and torment in the Lake of Fire.

John is invited to come and see the bride that has prepared to join her husband in marriage and live eternally with Him.  This bride is the wondrous city that now awaits His presence and the presence of His people.   John is taken to a high mountain that overlooks this glorious city.   He sees God's glory enlightening the city as a clear Jasper stone which is symbolic of the Lord holiness and sinlessness.

This entire vision emphasizes the changed eternal world and the many eternal joys that await the people of God as they dwell in this city.

  II.  The Walls And Gates Of New Jerusalem (Rev 21:12-21)

After John's look at the basics appearance of New Jerusalem, he then turns our attention to the city's gates and walls.  John sees the believer's security and deliverance from sin symbolized by high walls that surround the city.  There walls are used to keep out sin, its effects, and those who commit them.

John sees 12 gates, the entryways to the city, which are equally divided on the four sides of the walls (N,S,E,W) showing us that the redeemed will come from all corners of the globe (every nation, language, family).     They will included believers from both the OT and NT (12 Tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles).  The 12 angels standing at the gates, symbolize the messengers of God who proclaim the gospel message, the key to finding entrance into the gates.  Each gate was made of a pearl which is representative of God's wisdom, the truths of His Word, the good news of Christ.

John sees the 12 foundations of the walls having the names of the 12 apostles, whose proclamation of the truths about the Christ laid the foundation for this place of security and peace for God's people.  These foundations are decorated with many precious stones which give forth light similar to that of a rainbow.  This speaks of the Lord's faithfulness to his promises in making and giving access to this city for His people.

An angel sent from the Lord is seen measuring the city, which symbolizes the Lord's ownership and control over this eternal city.   The city is a 12,000 furlong cube showing us it is perfect, separated for the use of God and His people, and sinless.

The wall itself is made of jasper which is symbolic of preciousness and purity, while the city is of gold which speaks of God's kingly rule.  The gold was of transparent, pure gold symbolic of holiness.

 III.  New Jerusalem: The Presence Of God and The Glory of Eden Restored (Rev 21:22-22:5) 

John's vision of the city continues with John centering on the presence of God Himself within the city.  He could not see a temple because none was needed.  Christ's presence will be the center of worship as well as a living display of His person and works.   Christ's glory, which exists due to His presence, lightens the entire city which eliminates the need for the sun and moon.  The Lord will be present with His people.

The inhabitants of the city, those who are saved by God's grace, will be given 24 / 7 access to the city.  There is no need for the gates to be shut because the lost will not be found on the New Earth, they will be consigned to the Lake of Fire for an eternity.  Sin, and the doers of it, will be totally excluded from the city.

John attention is then drawn to "the river of water of life" that he sees flowing from the throne of God.  This speaks of the work of Christ which gives to men eternal life.   This river finds it origin IN the counsels and workings of the Lord and brings men TO eternal life and an intimate relationship with the Lord.

John sees the tree of life in the midst of the city, reminding us of a restored, sinless, Garden of Eden.  God's people are given eternal access to this tree, symbolizing the eternal life that is possessed by the saints.  It bears 12 types of fruit which symbolize the completeness of eternal life that God has brought to man.  Nothing more is needed for the saints to dwell eternally with their Lord.  The leaves of the tree supply that which is needed to "heal" the nations.  This speaks of the total eradication of sin and its effects upon mankind.  Once again this symbolizes a Garden of Eden type of existence that has been restored to mankind.  Instead of a curse and separation from God (the condition of mankind in the old garden), the saints in this New Garden will be blessed with no curse, and enjoy the presence of God eternally.

The glory of God will enlighten this new Garden and the saints of God will exercise perfect dominion over it, just as in the old garden before the fall of mankind.
 IV.  Conclusion to The Book Of Revelation (Rev 22:6-21)

The conclusion to the book of Revelation is also the conclusion to the entire Bible.  Please keep in mind, it is believed by most that the book of Revelation is the last book inspired by God and is also placed as the last book in the Biblical text.  Because of this, the conclusion found in the book of Revelation concludes not only the book itself, but also the entire body of inspired writings that God gave to mankind.

A part of God's conclusion is to remind John of the faithfulness and truthfulness of His inspired writings.  He also reminds John of His soon coming and the need to keep the cling to and protect His Word, following its dictates.   This is the basic way in which we are to prepare for His soon coming.  Christ is the beginning and ending of all things.  We should not be surprised He is the One that will bring an end to this sinful world and create a New World in which we will live.

John, being overwhelmed by this experience, begins to worship the angel that has delivered this message to him.  The angel responds by reminding him that worship belongs to God alone.  The angel is simply a servant of God doing His will, much like John and other saints who have come before him.  The angel then emphasizes John's need to share this message with others.  It was not meant to be kept private, but was to be distributed to all who are willing to hear these words.

The Angel delivers sobering words to John.  Those who choose to ignore these words, and continue to live a life of sin, let them be.  John has done all he can for their welfare, they now are responsible to choose to follow Christ.

Likewise with those who are saved, if he chooses righteousness based upon the completed Word, let him continue on in righteousness with righteous living.  Why?  Nothing new will be revealed from God.  He can fully commit to Christ's righteousness and righteous living because he now knows that Revelation brings all of God's Word to completion nothing more will be said that would change his mind or reveal he has made a mistake in choosing Christ.

John is told of the distinct difference between the end of the lost and the saved.  The lost will be kept from the glories of the city and the presence of God.  The saved will enjoy eternal bliss in the presence of God,  Jesus, Himself, has said these things, He will bring them to pass.

Christ then offers and invitation for men to come to Him.  It is an invitation that is to be delivered by the saints and applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit of God.  It is an invitation that is issued to anyone who hears the invitation and is willing to follow it.  they are to freely partake of the work of Christ which will bring to them salvation from sins and a wonderful, eternal inheritance from Him.

In closing, the Lord issues a warning to all who would change the inspired Word of God.  If they add or take from it, they have proven they are lost and destined to face God's plagues.    By willfully changing God's Word, they are clearly shown as being lost, in a state of rebellion against Christ, and under the bondage of sin.   No one who is truly saved would ever willfully choose to change the Word of God that has wrought salvation in his soul.


The final two verses of the book of Revelation (and the Bible) are a fitting conclusion to our study of the book of Revelation....

"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen