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Revelation 21:1-6 Notes

Revelation 21:1-6 - COMMENTARY:


Chapters 17-20 introduce a vision of God's triumph over evil. An angel tells John (the author of this book-the one who sees this vision):

"Come here. I will show you the judgment
of the great prostitute who sits on many waters,
with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality,
and those who dwell in the earth
were made drunken with the wine of her sexual immorality." (17:1b-2).

She was "sitting on a scarlet-colored animal, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns" (17:3)-symbolizing seven kings (17:9) and ten kings (17:12). The ten kings "will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings. They also will overcome who are with him, called and chosen and faithful" (17:14). This beast "was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction" (17:8).

On the woman's forehead was written, "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." (17:5). She "was drunken with the blood of the saints" (17:6). She was "the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth" (17:18)-a guarded reference that John's readers would have understood as Rome.

Another angel presented John with a vision of the destruction of Babylon (chapter 18)-and a vision of rejoicing in heaven over the end of that evil empire (19:1-10).

Then John saw a vision of a rider whose name is "the Word of God." He was mounted on a white horse (19:13) and was leading an army mounted on white horses to "strike down the nations" (19:15). He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (19:16).

An angel called to a host of birds, "Come! Be gathered together to the great supper of God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, and small and great" (19:17b-18). This, of course, foresaw the end of the battle, with the battleground strewn with the corpses of Babylon's army.

"The beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies" (19:19) assembled to make war against the rider of the white horse, but the beast was captured. The beast and the false prophet "were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword of him who sat on the horse, the sword which came forth out of his mouth. All the birds were filled with their flesh" (19:20b-21).

To complete the victory, an angel "seized the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished" (20:2-3a). This dragon was the master of the beast-and therefore the ultimate in evil authority.

Then the martyrs who died for their testimony to Jesus "lived, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead didn't live until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection" (20:4b-5).

Then John saw a vision of "a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne" (20:11-12). The books were opened, to include the book of life, and "the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works" (20:12). "Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire" (20:14-15).


1 I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. 2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

"I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (v. 1a). Centuries earlier, God (through the prophet Isaiah) assured the Jewish exiles, "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy" (Isaiah 65:17-18).

In that Isaian context, God was promising the Jewish exiles that he would restore their great city, Jerusalem, which had been destroyed much earlier. This was God's promise that the exiles would be able to return to their home-that they would be able to live once again in their great city. The former things-their exile in Babylonia-would fade into distant memory so that they might enjoy their new freedom.

Peter used similar language, when he said, "But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13).

Now John appropriates that language to speak of the heavenly city-the New Jerusalem-the new home for the faithful. John has seen it, and describes it to reassure faithful Christians who have endured adversity-people who need to hear that God will make things right.

John says of this new city, "There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life" (21:27). "There will be no curse any more. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads" (22:3-4).

"for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away" (v. 1b). Jesus alluded to the transient nature of our world when he said, "Heaven and earth will pass away" (Luke 21:33). Now John sees the fulfillment of those words.

Earlier, John reported: "I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them" (Revelation 20:11). The old earth and the old heaven, threatened by the presence of God, the righteous judge, attempted to flee from his presence. However, they found no place of refuge. Where could they go to find refuge from God's spirit-and where could they go to flee from God's presence (Psalm 139:7).

"the first heaven...passed away" (v. 1b). We might find it confusing that "the first heaven" would pass away. We tend to think of heaven as God's realm where everything is good-in contrast to our kosmos-world where everything is tainted with evil.

But the word "heaven" has more than one meaning in the Bible. When Genesis says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," (Genesis 1:1), the phrase "the heavens and the earth" constitute the totality of the created order-not "the heavens" as the dwelling place of God vs. "the earth" as the dwelling place of humans.

Both Old and New Testaments attest to the fact that the heavens and the earth as the created order will perish (Psalm 102:25-26; Isaiah 34:4; Hebrews 1:10-11; 12:26). However, the destruction of the old order is simply a prelude to the establishment of a new order-"new heavens and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17). The new creation will be characterized by purity-"There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie" (21:27)-and "There will be no curse any more" (22:3).

"and the sea is no more" (v. 1c). It is difficult to imagine a world without seas. Nearly three-quarters of the earth's surface is covered by oceans. If these oceans were to dry up, little, if any, life could survive on Earth. Evaporation from the seas brings the rain that plants require-and water that enables rivers to flow.

Today, we are able to examine the moon and planets for signs of life. In that search, scientists equate signs of water to signs of life, because water is necessary for life as we know it.

However, we also need to remember that, for ancient people, the sea was also the realm of "Leviathan the fleeing serpent" (Isaiah 27:1)-and the monster, Rahab (Job 26:12). People feared the sea, because a boat in the midst of the seas was vulnerable to wind and waves. Many were the fishermen who failed to return home-victims of treacherous seas.

God, however, remains the master of the seas:

• God parted the waters of the Red Sea so the Israelites might pass through unhindered-and then brought the waters back together to trap the Egyptian army that was pursuing the Israelites (Exodus 14).

• God held back the waters of the Jordan River so the Israelites could cross into the Promised Land (Joshua 3).

• God cut the monster, Rahab, in pieces (Isaiah 51:9)-and "broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters (and) broke the heads of Leviathan" (Psalm 74:13).

• Jesus walked on the waters of the Sea of Galilee to join his disciples in their boat (Matthew 14:25).

"I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband" (v. 2). The picture here is not the movement of the faithful from this world to the next, but rather the redemption of this world. "The not ascend to the new heaven; rather the new heaven descends to earth in the form of the New Jerusalem" (Wright, 767).

John is, indeed, talking about the end of life as we know it. But that doesn't really constitute the end, but is instead the beginning of the new order. The passing of the old heaven and the old earth is the prelude to the establishment of the New Jerusalem.

Our lectionary reading extends only through verse 6, but beginning with verse 10, John gives a detailed description of the New Jerusalem-its radiance-its high walls and great gates-its immense size-its foundations adorned with jewels-its gates of pearl and streets of gold. "I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb" (21:22-23).


3 I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, God's dwelling (Greek: skene) is with people(Greek: anthropon), and he will dwell (Greek: skenosei­­-from skenoo) with them, and they will be his peoples (laoi-the plural of laos), and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away."

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, God's dwelling(skene) is with people"(anthropon-men, humans) (v. 3a). This Greek word, skene, is the word used for the tabernacle in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) and the New Testament (Acts 7:44; Hebrews 9:2-3, 21; 13:10). The tabernacle was a tent that accompanied the Israelites wherever they went in their forty-year trek in the wilderness. It was the place where the Israelites made their daily offerings. They understood the tabernacle (specifically the Holy of Holies) to be the place where God dwelled. The temple was the successor to the tabernacle once the Israelites established themselves in the Promised Land.

The author of Hebrews assures us that Jesus is our high priest-and the true tent (skene) "which the Lord pitched, not man" (Hebrews 8:2). He further notes that the tent erected by Moses in the wilderness was but "a copy and shadow of the heavenly things" (Hebrews 8:5).

In the Gospel of John, we read that "the Word became flesh, and lived (eskenosen-from skenoo-tabernacled, erected his tent) among us" (John 1:14).

Now we hear God's voice assuring us that the skene-the tent or tabernacle or home of God-is among mortals" (anthropon-men, humans). The point is that God is near us-with us-not distant or unreachable.

"He will dwell(skenosei­­-from skenoo-tabernacle) with them" (v. 3b). Once again we see the "tabernacle" word-in this case, the verb, skenoo, instead of the noun, skene.

This reinforces the promise that God's dwelling place will be in the midst of his people, just as the tabernacle was in their midst as they wandered in the wilderness.

"they will be his peoples" (laoi-the plural of laos) (v. 3c). While some manuscripts have laos(people-singular), the better manuscripts have laoi (peoples-plural).

In the Old Testament, God promised Israel, "you will be my people" (singular) (Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 7:23; 30:22; Ezekiel 36:28). There was, indeed, a singularity about that relationship, because God had chosen Israel above all other nations-had established a covenant relationship with Israel, but not with other nations and peoples.

However, now the promise is that "God's dwelling (skene) is with people (anthropon-men, humans). He will dwell (skenoo) with them, and they will be his peoples" (plural). No longer is God's covenant relationship restricted to Israel. Now the faithful of every nation and race are God's peoples, and will enjoy God's presence among them.

"and God himself will be with them as their God" (v. 3d). The phrases, "God will be with you" and "I will be with you" appear frequently in the Old Testament (Genesis 26:3; 31:3; 48:21; Exodus 3:12; 10:10; Deuteronomy 31:8, 23; etc., etc., etc.).

That specific language is less common in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9)-but the promise of God's presence (or the presence of Christ or the Holy Spirit) is abundant in the New Testament nevertheless-beginning with the angel's promise, "they shall call his name Immanuel, which is, being interpreted, 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:23). Also, "The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14; see also Matthew 18:20; John 14:16-17, 25-26; 1 Peter 4:14; 1 John 3:24).

"He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes" (v. 4a). This is language taken from the prophet Isaiah-"He has swallowed up death forever! The Lord Yahweh will wipe away tears from off all faces. He will take the reproach of his people away from off all the earth, for Yahweh has spoken it" (Isaiah 25:8; see also Revelation 7:17).

Everyone sheds tears now and then. When we are young, we shed tears over a scraped knee or a cancelled trip to Disneyland. When we are older, we shed tears over love lost-or opportunities lost. At any age, we shed tears because the death of a loved one. Given the difficulties that Christians were having with Rome at the time this book was written, their tears were quite possibly the result of persecution-martyrdom.

To wipe away someone's tears is to comfort them-to help them through their distress. It is the kind of thing a mother might do for her children. It is comforting to know that God cares for us enough to do that.

"Death will be no more" (v. 4b). In the Bible, the word "death" is used in two ways. It is used to describe:

• The end of physical life on earth.

• Spiritual death-alienation from God-separation from God. When a person dies physically, he/she is separated from loved ones who are still alive. There is a great chasm fixed between the living and the dead so that the person who is dead cannot reach across the chasm relate to the living-and the living cannot bridge the chasm to relate to the dead. In like manner, a person who is dead spiritually is separated from God-and is therefore subject to "the course (Greek: aion-age) of this world" and "the prince of the power of the air"-a demonic power (Ephesians 2:2).

Paul says that "as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). He also says, "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

But Paul assures us that we have been "reconciled to God through the death of his Son, (and) much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life" (Romans 5:10). He says, "Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ's, at his coming. Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death" (1 Corinthians 15:20-26; see also Romans 5:10, 18).

"neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away" (v. 4c). In the redeemed world-the new heaven and the new earth-there will be no cause for "mourning and crying and pain." We mourn for those who die, but there will be no more death. We cry for many reasons (see comments on v. 4a), but the things that caused us pain under the old regime will be gone. There will be no more grief or tears or pain, because the causes of those things will no longer exist.


5 He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." He said, "Write, for these words of God are faithful and true." 6 He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life."

 "He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new'" (v. 5). Now we see "the one who was seated on the throne"-and hear God's voice promising, "Behold, I am making all things new." This is one of the few times in this book where God speaks directly.

In verse 1, John saw a vision of a new heaven and a new earth-and of the first heaven and the first earth passing away (see comments on v. 1 above).

"He said, 'Write, for these words of God are faithful and true'" (v. 5). Some scholars think that an angel gave this command, but there is nothing in the Greek text to suggest a transition from one speaker to another.

Whether the speaker is God or an angel makes no difference to the meaning. John, having seen this vision, is to record it so that others might know what he has seen. He is to do so, because "these words of God are faithful and true"-reliable-a sure guide.

"faithful and true" (v. 5b). Living in a fallen world, we know how difficult it is to discern truth from fiction. We are surrounded by people (individuals, merchants, companies, advertising) who promise all sorts of things-but often fail to live up to those promises. If we take actions that depend on their reliability, we can very well find ourselves severely disappointed.

However, if we base our actions on a trustworthy guide-on that which is true-we will not be disappointed. God (or the angel) promises that what John is seeing is, indeed, "faithful and true."

"He said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End'" (v. 6a). Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last letter. This phrase, then, describes that which is first and last-beginning and end-all encompassing.

"the Beginning and the End'" (v. 6b). God, being eternal, can't really be defined by time, but this is convenient language to help us to appreciate God's eternal nature.

The Old Testament describes God as the first and the last (Isaiah 44:6; 48:12). The book of Revelation describes God as "the Alpha and the Omega" (1:8; 21:6).

Later, Jesus will say "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (22:13). That is in keeping with the Prologue to the Gospel of John, which says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made" (John 1:1-3).

"I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life" (v. 6c). Water is the stuff of life. Without food, we can live for quite some time. Without water, we can live only a very few days. Water is useful not only for drinking, but also for washing, necessary for health-and for bathing, useful for health and comfort.

In an arid land such as Israel, water is especially precious-and help in finding water is especially welcome. The Old Testament describes God as a shepherd who "leads me beside still waters" (Psalm 23:2)-and as "the spring of living waters" (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13).

• Jesus told the woman at the well that he could offer her "living water" (John 4:10).

• He also said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38; see also Isaiah 12:3; 55:1; 58:11; Zechariah 14:8).

• Jesus also promised, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,

for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).

• Later, the Spirit and the bride will issue the invitation, "Come! He who is thirsty, let him come. He who desires, let him take the water of life freely" (22:17).

The Psalmist says, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after you, God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:1-2)-revealing a longing that many of us feel. We long for that which is trustworthy, and God is faithful. We long for grace, and God offers grace as a gift. We long to be loved, and the scriptures assure us that God loves us. We long for life that is fulfilling and meaningful, so God calls us to work that contributes to his plan for the salvation of the world. We long to continue life, so God offers us eternal life. God satisfies needs that cannot be satisfied anywhere else.




BIBLE.ORG - Krell- Rev. 21:1-6 Commentary

1. Prepare for your destination (21:1-8).2 John writes, "Then I saw3 a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away."4 The expression "heaven and earth" is a biblical designation for the entire universe (cf. Gen 1:1). So John sees a transformation of the entire universe.5 The first heaven and earth will "pass[ed] away"6 (cf. Matt 24:35). This does not mean extinction or annihilation, but transformation.7 It will be a dramatic change in quality from one level to a higher form.8 In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new (kainos) creature; the old things passed away (parerchomai); behold, new things have come." This doesn't mean that when we were converted to Christ, we ceased to be. I was not annihilated altogether, but transformed from the inside out. Likewise, the heavens and earth will be radically altered and gloriously reborn. This present universe will undergo a vast renovation-a rebirth or remaking (see Acts 3:21).9  The result of this renovation will be a "new earth" that will be our eternal home. What I am saying is: We are not going to live in heaven forever. No, this is not a misprint. The Bible teaches that we will be in heaven for an appointed time, we will then rule with Christ on earth, and finally we will experience the eighth-day of creation and live on a new earth (cf. 21:5). This teaching startles most people because many have wrongly assumed that believers will spend their lives in the sky. However, the Bible teaches that man's ultimate destiny is an earthly one. Yes, we will one day return to God's original plan as revealed in the garden of Eden.

Most Americans are familiar with ABC's hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It is remarkable how motivated people can remodel and restore a run-down house in seven days.10 It is also moving to see the sheer joy of the beneficiaries. Well, can you fathom what the God of this universe can do when He remodels and restores our eternal home? For the past 2,000 years, He has been preparing a place for you that will stagger your imagination (cf. 21:9-21). When you see the finished product you will shout and scream with joy inexpressible!

Another striking statement is made in 21:1b: "and there is no longer any sea."11 Remember, at the time of this writing, John is exiled on Patmos, separated from his church by the Aegean Sea. For John, the sea was a painful barrier and wall of isolation from fellowship with his beloved flock.12 To the ancient peoples, the sea was frightful and fearsome, an awesome monster, a watery grave.13

They had no compass to guide them in the open sea. On a cloudy day, their ships were absolutely lost without the stars or the sun to guide them. Their frail ships were at the mercy of the tempestuous ocean's fearsome, angry storms. The loss of human life was beyond calculation. So the sea represented a vast barrier for nations, continents, and people groups. The sea was a separator of mankind around the globe...a destroyer of human life.14 But no more! No more geographical barriers to separate us. No more violent sea storms to bury victims in watery graves.15 God will renovate the world, as we know it.16

In 21:2, John sees "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride17 adorned for her husband." "The holy city, New Jerusalem" is in contrast to the former Jerusalem.18 As the old Jerusalem was Jesus Christ's capital during the millennium, so the New Jerusalem will be His capital for eternity. This is the place that our Lord is preparing (John 14:1-3). The "New Jerusalem" describes both the saints (21:3-7, 24-27) and their eternal dwelling (21:2). The city is everything the bride is; the bride is everything the city is. In this simile, Christ is the husband (21:9-10; cf. 3:12). It is a glorious relationship.

The most glorious aspect of eternity is that God will be present. In 21:3, John writes, "And I heard a loud voice19 from the throne,20 saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people,21 and God Himself22 will be among them."' Two times in this verse, the Lord states that He will dwell among His people. The supreme blessing of the New Jerusalem is that God will dwell among His people, and they will experience intimate fellowship with Him (cf. Ezek 37:27; 48:35).23 Any previous intimacy with God will be blown away by what we experience in eternity.

In our technological age, we often do much of our communication via email. This can seem impersonal. An improvement to email can be a phone call. A phone call allows the receiver to hear tone of voice and even envision the person on the other end of the line. It seems more personal. However, due to the rise of cell phones, a phone call can lack value. A step up from email and a phone call is a hand-written note. These dinosaurs are a treasure in our day and age. Email, telephone, and written notes are wonderful mediums of expression and communication, but nothing compares with face-to-face fellowship to communicate love, sympathy and support, or encouragement.

This verse tells us that God is going to dwell with us. He's going to hang out with us! He's going to be ever-present. This is mind-boggling! Unfortunately, we are finite creatures. When we hear of this incredible blessing, we check our watch to see when church ends. Yet, what makes heaven heavenly is God's presence! He alone is the only One that can satisfy us. Therefore, we must pray that God helps us to realize our inner desire to know Him. Since He has placed this yearning within us, He will merely have to help us rediscover our neglected or untapped desire.

Another glorious aspect of eternity is that evil and suffering will be absent. In 21:4, John promises us that "He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away" (cf. 7:17; Isa 25:8). Verse 3 describes the benefits of the New Jerusalem positively, and verse 4 does so, negatively. This reference to wiping away tears highlights God's compassion for His people. Sorrow, death, and pain will all end along with the tears, mourning, and crying that result from them. This is a final reversal of the curse (Gen 3). All these former experiences will be gone forever then. However, note that the removal of tears will take place after the judgments, including the judgment seat of Christ, when some Christians will suffer the loss of reward (1 Cor 3:15; cf. 1 John 2:28). The "first" things are the former things, the things associated with the old creation.

In 21:5, John says, "Out with the old and in with the new." John records, "And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.'" John turned from describing the New Jerusalem briefly to describe some of God's utterances (cf. 1:8; 20:11). "Behold" introduces a special pronouncement, namely that God will bring a new creation into existence (cf. 21:1). He assures us that His words are "faithful and true." The Lord then said to John, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost" (21:6). The judgments of the tribulation (cf. 16:17) and of the whole, old creation stood accomplished (cf. 21:5). Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, suggests that the Lord God Almighty is the initiator of creation, the source and origin of all things. Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, points to the fact that He is the end of everything, that is, He is the goal or aim of all things (1:8; 22:13; cf. Isa 44:6).

His promise of abundant satisfaction for the thirsty is metaphorical, symbolizing His ability to meet the deepest needs of His people (7:17; cf. Isa 55:1; John 4:13-14; 7:37-39). This is an invitation to anyone, including believers, to come to God to receive freely from Him, what is truly satisfying. It is a beautiful Gospel invitation (cf. 22:17). Besides this promise being guaranteed by God's faithfulness (21:5), it is also guaranteed by His power (21:6).

Study Guide for Revelation 21 - A New Heavens, a New Earth, and a New Jerusalem

A. All things made new.

1. (Rev 21:1) The new heaven and the new earth.  1 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

a. Now I saw: We can say that Revelation chapter 21 begins a new section of the Book of Revelation:

- Jesus, the Lord of the Churches        (Revelation 1:1 to 3:22)

- Jesus, the Lion over the nations        (Revelation 4:1 to 20:15)

- Jesus, the Lamb among believer       (Revelation 21:1 to 22:21)

i. The new perspective of this last section is glorious. "From the smoke and pain and heat it is a relief to pass into the clear, clean atmosphere of the eternal morning where the breath of heaven is sweet and the vast city of God sparkles like a diamond in the radiance of his presence" (Moffatt)

b. A new heaven and a new earth: The idea of a new earth, with a new atmosphere and sky is a familiar theme in the Scriptures. Many of the prophets, both Old and New Testaments, spoke to this new heaven and new earth.

i. For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create a Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. (Isaiah 65:17-19)

ii. Of old, You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes all of them will grow old like a garment, like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end. (Psalm 102:25-27)

iii. Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat ... Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:12-13)

iv. It's worth remembering that the new heaven referred to doesn't mean the heaven where God is enthroned. The Bible uses the word heaven in three senses. The first heaven is the earth's atmosphere, the "blue sky." The second heaven is outer space, the "night sky." The third heaven is the place where God lives in glory. When the Scriptures speak of a new heaven, they mean a new "blue sky" and a new "night sky," not a new heaven where God dwells.

c. New heaven ... new earth: The ancient Greek word translated new here (kaine) means "new in character, 'fresh'." It doesn't mean "recent" or "new in time." This isn't just the next heaven and the next earth; this is the better heaven and better earth replacing the old (the first earth had passed away).

i. Though some disagree, such as Seiss, who argues passionately that this earth will never be destroyed - we should also understand that this is truly a new heaven and a new earth, not merely a "remade" heaven and earth. We know this because Jesus said that heaven and earth shall pass away, but His word would live forever (Luke 21:33). Also, in Isaiah 65:17 God says prophetically that He will create a new heaven and a new earth, and the ancient Hebrew word for "create" (bara) means to "create out of nothing," instead of re-fashioning existing material.

ii. Some take this "newness" as only a spiritual and moral change. But there seems to be a genuine physical transformation in mind: there was no more sea.

d. Is this new heaven and new earth the Millennial earth shown in Revelation 20, or is it something beyond? It definitely seems to be past the Millennial earth. This is what we think of as "heaven" and "eternity."

i. "In this chapter we see that the history of time is finished; the history of eternity is about to begin." (Barnhouse)

ii. "The eternal state is clearly indicated in the absence of sea, for frequent mention of bodies of water occur in millennial passages (cf. Psalm 72:8; Isaiah 11:9, 11; Ezekiel 47:10, 15, 17, 18, 20; 48:28; Zechariah 9:10; 14:8). The evidence of Revelation 21:1 is so specific that most commentators do not question that the eternal state is in view." (Walvoord)

e. No more sea: To the Jewish mind, the sea was a place of separation and evil. Already in the Book of Revelation it is shown to be the source of the Satanic beast (Revelation 13:1) and the place of the dead (Revelation 20:13).

i. In other passages of Scripture, the sea is associated with the heathen (Isaiah 57:20) and in a more general sense, with the opponents of the Lord that must be conquered (Psalm 89:9).

2. (Rev 21:2-4) The New Jerusalem descends from heaven.

2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 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, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

a. The holy city, New Jerusalem: This is the Jerusalem of hope (Hebrews 12:22), the Jerusalem above (Galatians 4:26), the place of our real citizenship (Philippians 3:20).

i. The terms holy and new distinguish the city. Because it is holy and new, it is different from any earthly city. The name Jerusalem gives it continuity with earth, especially with the place of our redemption.

ii. It is significant that this glorious dwelling place of God and His people is described as the holy city. Cities are places where there are many people, and people interact with each other. This isn't isolation, but a perfect community of the people of God.

iii. The Christian concept of heaven as a city - a place of life, activity, interest, and people - is very different from Hindu conception of a blank "Nirvana." "The consummation of the Christian hope is supremely social. It is no 'flight of the alone to the Alone' but life in the redeemed community of heaven." (Hunter)

iv. Man has never known a community unmarred by sin. Adam and Eve only knew a limited community, and community in a larger context only came long after the Fall. Here, in the New Jerusalem, we have something totally unique: a sinless, pure, community of righteousness, a holy city.

v. Problems arise when believers expect this kind of community now, or fail to realize that it only comes down out of heaven. This city is not, and never can be, the achievement of man, but only a gift from God.

b. Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband: John uses the most striking, beautiful image he can think of. The most beautiful thing a man will ever see is his bride coming down the aisle, ready to meet him. John says that this is how beautiful the New Jerusalem will be.

c. The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them: Moses' tabernacle represented the dwelling place of God on earth. This is past the representation of the dwelling place of God; this is the reality of His presence.

i. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people: This succinctly states essence of God's desire and man's purpose. Simply, God's desire is to live in close fellowship with man, and man's purpose is to be a people unto God.

ii. This is the greatest glory of heaven, and the ultimate restoration of what was lost in the Fall. "I do not think the glory of Eden lay in its grassy walks, or in the boughs bending with luscious fruit-but its glory lay in this, that the 'Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.' Here was Adam's highest privilege, that he had companionship with the Most High." (Spurgeon)

d. The former things have passed away: The New Jerusalem is distinguished by what it does not have - no tears, no sorrow, no death or pain. Later it will be shown that the New Jerusalem has no temple, no sacrifice, no sun, no moon, no darkness, no sin, and no abomination.

i. "Man comes into the world with a cry; and goes out of it with a groan, and all between is more or less intoned with helpless wailing ... But the Halleluias of the renewed world will drown out the voice of woe forever." (Seiss)

e. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes: "'Every tear,' for they be many; - tears of bereaved affection, such as Mary, and Martha, and the widow of Nain wept; - tears of sympathy and mercy, such as Jeremiah and Jesus wept over the sins and the calamities of Jerusalem; - tears of persecuted innocence, tears of contrition and penitence for faults and crimes against the goodness and majesty of heaven; - tears of disappointment and neglect; - tears of yearning for what cannot now be ours; - these, and whatever others ever course the cheeks of mortals, shall then be dried forever." (Seiss)

i. But the idea of "tears in heaven" should never be used as some kind of guilt-manipulation on this earth. "There is no just ground for imagining from this text that the saints will shed tears in heaven concerning the failures of their former life on earth. The emphasis here is on the comfort of God, not on the remorse of the saints." (Walvoord)

3. (Rev 21:5) All things new.

5 And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He *said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."

a. He who sat on the throne said: This is an authoritative announcement, coming from the throne of God itself. This is one of the few times in Revelation where we clearly see God speaking directly from His throne.

b. Behold, I make all things new: This statement is in the present tense, "I am making everything new." This is the consummation of God's work of renewal and redemption, having begun here and now in our present time.

i. Paul saw this transformation at work on this side of eternity: Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day ... Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 4:16, 5:17)

c. All things new: This is a brief glance at the thinking behind God's eternal plan - to allow sin and its destruction in order to do a greater work of making all things new. At this point in His plan of the ages, the plan is complete. All things are new.

i. Our instinct is to romantically consider innocence as man's perfect state, and wish Adam would have never done what he did. But we fail to realize that redeemed man is greater than innocent man; that we gain more in Jesus than we ever lost in Adam. God's perfect state is one of redemption, not innocence.

ii. When God finally completes this work of making all things new, they will stay new. "Presumably this means not only that everything will be made new, but also that everything will stay then new. The entropy law will be 'repealed.' Nothing will wear out or decay, and no one will age or atrophy anymore." (H. Morris)

d. Write, for these words are true and faithful: John is probably so astounded by these words that he forgot to write - and must be told to do so.

4. (Rev 21:6-8) The invitation and a warning.

6 Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.

a. It is done! God's eternal purpose in Jesus is now accomplished. Ephesians 1:10 has been fulfilled: that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; in Him. At this point, all things have been resolved or "summed up" in Jesus - it is done!

b. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts: Drinking and thirst are common pictures of God's supply and man's spiritual need. Drinking is an action, but an action of receiving - like faith, it is doing something, but it is not a merit-earning work in itself.

i. "What does a thirsty man do to get rid of his thirst? He drinks. Perhaps there is no better representation of faith in all the Word of God than that. To drink is to receive-to take in the refreshing draught-and that is all. A man's face may be unwashed, but yet he can drink; he may be a very unworthy character, but yet a draught of water will remove his thirst. Drinking is such a remarkably easy thing, it is even more simple than eating." (Spurgeon)