Re 21:1-27. The New Heaven
and Earth: New Jerusalem Out of
The remaining two chapters describe the eternal and
consummated kingdom of God and the saints on the new earth. As the
world of nations is to be pervaded by divine influence in the
millennium, so the world of nature shall be, not annihilated, but
transfigured universally in the eternal state which follows it. The
earth was cursed for man's sake; but is redeemed by the second Adam.
Now is the Church; in the millennium shall be the kingdom; and
after that shall be the new world wherein God shall be all in all. The
"day of the Lord" and the conflagration of the earth are in 2Pe 3:10,
11 spoken of as if connected
together, from which many argue against a millennial interval between
His coming and the general conflagration of the old earth, preparatory
to the new; but "day" is used often of a whole period comprising events
intimately connected together, as are the Lord's second advent, the
millennium, and the general conflagration and judgment. Compare Ge 2:4 as to the wide use of "day." Man's
soul is redeemed by regeneration through the Holy Spirit now;
man's body shall be redeemed at the resurrection; man's
dwelling-place, His inheritance, the earth, shall be redeemed
perfectly at the creation of the new heaven and earth, which shall
exceed in glory the first Paradise, as much as the second Adam exceeds
in glory the first Adam before the fall, and as man regenerated in body
and soul shall exceed man as he was at creation.
1. the first—that is the former.
passed away—Greek, in A and B
is "were departed" (Greek, "apeelthon," not as in
English Version, "pareelthe").
was—Greek, "is," which
graphically sets the thing before our eyes as present.
no more sea—The sea is the type of
perpetual unrest. Hence our Lord rebukes it as an unruly hostile
troubler of His people. It symbolized the political tumults out of
which "the beast" arose, Re 13:1. As
the physical corresponds to the spiritual and moral world, so the
absence of sea, after the metamorphosis of the earth by
fire, answers to the unruffled state of solid peace which shall
then prevail. The sea, though severing lands from one another,
is now, by God's eliciting of good from evil, made the medium of
communication between countries through navigation. Then man shall
possess inherent powers which shall make the sea no longer necessary,
but an element which would detract from a perfect state. A "river" and
"water" are spoken of in Re 22:1, 2,
probably literal (that is, with such changes of the natural properties
of water, as correspond analogically to man's own transfigured body),
as well as symbolical. The sea was once the element of the world's
destruction, and is still the source of death to thousands, whence
after the millennium, at the general judgment, it is specially said,
"The sea gave up the dead … in it." Then it shall cease to
destroy, or disturb, being removed altogether on account of its past
2. And I John—"John" is omitted in A, B,
Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas; also the "I" in the Greek of these
authorities is not emphatic. The insertion of "I John" in the
Greek would somewhat interfere with the close connection which
subsists between "the new heaven and earth," Re 21:1, and the "new Jerusalem" in this
Jerusalem … out of heaven—(Re 3:12;
Ga 4:26, "Jerusalem which is
above"; Heb 11:10; 12:22; 13:14). The descent of the new
Jerusalem out of heaven is plainly distinct from the
earthly Jerusalem in which Israel in the flesh shall dwell
during the millennium, and follows on the creation of the new heaven
and earth. John in his Gospel always writes [Greek]
Hierosoluma of the old city; in the Apocalypse always
Hierousaleem of the heavenly city (Re 3:12). Hierousaleem is a Hebrew
name, the original and holy appellation. Hierosoluma is the
common Greek term, used in a political sense. Paul observes the
same distinction when refuting Judaism (Ga 4:26; compare Ga 1:17, 18; 2:1; Heb
12:22), though not so in the
Epistles to Romans and Corinthians [Bengel].
bride—made up of the blessed citizens
of "the holy city." There is no longer merely a Paradise as in Eden
(though there is that also, Re 2:7), no
longer a mere garden, but now the city of God on earth,
costlier, statelier, and more glorious, but at the same time the result
of labor and pains such as had not to be expended by man in dressing
the primitive garden of Eden. "The lively stones" were severally in
time laboriously chiselled into shape, after the pattern of "the Chief
corner-stone," to prepare them for the place which they shall
everlastingly fill in the heavenly Jerusalem.
3. out of heaven—so Andreas. But A and Vulgate read, "out of the
the tabernacle—alluding to the
tabernacle of God in the wilderness (wherein many signs of His presence
were given): of which this is the antitype, having previously been in
heaven: Re 11:19; 15:5, "the temple of the tabernacle of the
testimony in heaven"; also Re 13:6.
Compare the contrast in Heb 9:23, 14, between "the patterns" and "the
heavenly things themselves," between "the figures" and "the true." The
earnest of the true and heavenly tabernacle was afforded in the
Jerusalem temple described in Eze 40:1-42:20, as about to be, namely, during the
dwell with them—literally,
"tabernacle with them"; the same Greek word as is used of
the divine Son "tabernacling among us." Then He was in the
weakness of the flesh: but at the new creation of heaven and
earth He shall tabernacle among us in the glory of His manifested
they—in Greek emphatic,
"they" (in particular).
his people—Greek, "His
peoples": "the nations of the saved" being all peculiarly His,
as Israel was designed to be. So A reads. But B, Vulgate,
Syriac, and Coptic read, "His people": singular.
God himself … with
them—realizing fully His name Immanuel.
4. all tears—Greek, "every
no more death—Greek, "death
shall be no more." Therefore it is not the millennium, for in the
latter there is death (Isa 65:20; 1Co 15:26,
54, "the last enemy
… destroyed is death," Re 20:14, after the millennium).
passed away—Greek, "departed,"
as in Re
5. sat—Greek, "sitteth."
all things new—not recent, but
changed from the old (Greek, "kaina," not
"nea"). An earnest of this regeneration and transfiguration of
nature is given already in the regenerate soul.
unto me—so Coptic and Andreas. But A, B, Vulgate, and
true and faithful—so Andreas. But A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, and
Coptic transpose, "faithful and true" (literally,
6. It is done—the same Greek as
16:17. "It is come to pass."
So Vulgate reads with English Version. But A reads, "They
('these words,' Re 21:5) are
come to pass." All is as sure as if it actually had been fulfilled for
it rests on the word of the unchanging God. When the consummation shall
be, God shall rejoice over the work of His own hands, as at the
completion of the first creation God saw everything that He had
made, and behold it was very good (Ge 1:31).
Alpha … Omega—Greek in A
and B, "the Alpha … the Omega" (Re 1:18).
give unto … athirst … water of
life—(Re 22:17; Isa 12:3; 55:1; Joh
4:13, 14; 7:37, 38). This is
added lest any should despair of attaining to this exceeding weight of
glory. In our present state we may drink of the stream, then we shall
drink at the Fountain.
the same Greek as is translated, "(They hated Me) without a cause,"
15:25. As gratuitous
as was man's hatred of God, so gratuitous is God's love to man:
there was every cause in Christ why man should love Him, yet man hated
Him; there was every cause in man why (humanly speaking) God should
have hated man, yet God loved man: the very reverse of what might be
expected took place in both cases. Even in heaven our drinking at the
Fountain shall be God's gratuitous gift.
7. He that overcometh—another aspect of
the believer's life: a conflict with sin, Satan, and the world is
needed. Thirsting for salvation is the first beginning of, and
continues for ever (in the sense of an appetite and relish for divine
joys) a characteristic of the believer. In a different sense, the
believer "shall never thirst."
inherit all things—A, B,
Vulgate, and Cyprian read,
"these things," namely, the blessings described in this whole
passage. With "all things," compare 1Co 3:21-23.
I will be his God—Greek, "I
will be to him a God," that is, all that is implied of blessing in the
he shall be my son—"He" is emphatic:
He in particular and in a peculiar sense, above others:
Greek, "shall be to me a son," in fullest realization of
the promise made in type to Solomon, son of David, and antitypically to
the divine Son of David.
8. the fearful—Greek, "the
cowardly," who do not quit themselves like men so as to
"overcome" in the good fight; who have the spirit of slavish "fear,"
not love, towards God; and who through fear of man are not bold for
God, or "draw back." Compare Re 21:27; 22:15.
abominable—who have drank of the
harlot's "cup of abominations."
sorcerers—one of the characteristics
of Antichrist's time.
all liars—Greek, "all
the liars": or else "all who are liars"; compare 1Ti 4:1, 2, where similarly lying and
dealings with spirits and demons, are joined together as
features of "the latter times."
second death—Re 20:14: "everlasting destruction," 2Th
1:9; Mr 9:44, 46, 48, "Where
THEIR worm dieth not, and the fire is
9. The same angel who had shown John
Babylon the harlot, is appropriately employed to show him in
contrast new Jerusalem, the Bride (Re 17:1-5). The angel so employed is the one that
had the last seven plagues, to show that the ultimate blessedness of
the Church is one end of the divine judgments on her foes.
unto me—A, B, and Vulgate
the Lamb's wife—in contrast to her
who sat on many waters (Re 17:1), (that is, intrigued with many peoples
and nations of the world, instead of giving her undivided affections,
as the Bride does, to the Lamb.
10. The words correspond to Re 17:3, to heighten the contrast of the bride
mountain—Compare Eze 40:2, where a similar vision is given from a
that great—omitted in A, B,
Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Cyprian. Translate then, "the holy city
descending—Even in the millennium the
earth will not be a suitable abode for transfigured saints, who
therefore shall then reign in heaven over the earth. But after the
renewal of the earth at the close of the millennium and judgment, they
shall descend from heaven to dwell on an earth assimilated to
heaven itself. "From God" implies that "we (the city) are God's
11. Having the glory of God—not merely
the Shekinah-cloud, but God Himself as her glory dwelling in the midst
of her. Compare the type, the earthly Jerusalem in the millennium
2:5; compare Re 21:23, below).
her light—Greek, "light-giver":
properly applied to the heavenly luminaries which diffuse light.
Compare Note, see on Php 2:15, the only
other passage where it occurs. The "and" before "her light' is omitted
in A, B, and Vulgate.
even like—Greek, "as it
12. And—A and B omit. Eze 48:30-35, has a similar description, which
implies that the millennial Jerusalem shall have its exact antitype in
the heavenly Jerusalem which shall descend on the finally regenerated
wall great and high—setting forth the
security of the Church. Also, the exclusion of the ungodly.
twelve angels—guards of the twelve
gates: an additional emblem of perfect security, while the gates being
never shut (Re 21:25)
imply perfect liberty and peace. Also, angels shall be the brethren of
the heavenly citizens.
names of … twelve tribes—The
inscription of the names on the gates implies that none but the
spiritual Israel, God's elect, shall enter the heavenly city. As the
millennium wherein literal Israel in the flesh shall be
the mother Church, is the antitype to the Old Testament earthly
theocracy in the Holy Land, so the heavenly new Jerusalem
is the consummation antitypical to the spiritual Israel, the
elect Church of Jews and Gentiles being now gathered out: as the
spiritual Israel now is an advance upon the previous literal and carnal
Israel, so the heavenly Jerusalem shall be much in advance of the
13. On the north … on the south—A,
B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read, "And on the
north and on the south." In Ezekiel, Joseph, Benjamin,
Dan (for which Manasseh is substituted in Re 7:6), are on the east (Eze 48:32); Reuben, Judah, Levi, are on the
north (Eze 48:31);
Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, on the south (Eze 48:33); Gad, Asher, Naphtali, on the
west (Eze 48:34).
In Numbers, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun are on the east (Nu 2:3, 5, 7). Reuben, Simeon, Gad, on the
south (Nu 2:10, 12, 14). Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, on the
west (Nu 2:18, 20, 22). Dan, Asher, Naphtali, on the
north (Nu 2:25, 27, 29).
14. twelve foundations—Joshua, the type
of Jesus, chose twelve men out of the people, to carry twelve stones
over the Jordan with them, as Jesus chose twelve apostles to be the
twelve foundations of the heavenly city, of which He is Himself the
Chief corner-stone. Peter is not the only apostolic rock on whose
preaching Christ builds His Church. Christ Himself is the true
foundation: the twelve are foundations only in regard to their
apostolic testimony concerning Him. Though Paul was an apostle besides
the twelve, yet the mystical number is retained, twelve representing
the Church, namely thirty the divine number, multiplied by four, the
in them the names, &c.—As
architects often have their names inscribed on their great works, so
the names of the apostles shall be held in everlasting remembrance.
Vulgate reads, "in them." But A, B, Syriac,
Coptic, and Andreas read,
"upon them." These authorities also insert "twelve" before
15. had a golden reed—so Coptic.
But A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac read, "had (as) a
measure, a golden reed." In Re 11:2 the non-measuring of the outer courts of
the temple implied its being given up to secular and heathen
desecration. So here, on the contrary, the city being measured implies
the entire consecration of every part, all things being brought up to
the most exact standard of God's holy requirements, and also God's
accurate guardianship henceforth of even the most minute parts of His
holy city from all evil.
16. twelve thousand furlongs—literally,
"to twelve thousand stadii": one thousand furlongs being the
space between the several twelve gates. Bengel makes the length of each side of the
city to be twelve thousand stadii. The stupendous height, length, and
breadth being exactly alike, imply its faultless symmetry, transcending
in glory all our most glowing conceptions.
17. hundred … forty … four
cubits—twelve times twelve: the Church-number squared. The
wall is far beneath the height of the city.
measure of a man, that is, of the
angel—The ordinary measure used by men is the measure
here used by the angel, distinct from "the measure of the
sanctuary." Men shall then be equal to the angels.
18. the building—"the structure" [Tregelles], Greek,
gold, like … clear glass—Ideal
gold, transparent as no gold here is [Alford]. Excellencies will be combined in the
heavenly city which now seem incompatible.
19. And—so Syriac, Coptic, and
Andreas. But A, B, and Vulgate
omit. Compare Re 21:14
with this verse; also Isa 54:11.
all manner of precious stones—Contrast
18:12 as to the harlot,
Babylon. These precious stones constituted the "foundations."
chalcedony—agate from Chalcedon:
semi-opaque, sky-blue, with stripes of other colors [Alford].
20. sardonyx—a gem having the redness of
the cornelian, and the whiteness of the onyx.
sardius—(See on Re
chrysolite—described by Pliny as transparent and of a golden brightness,
like our topaz: different from our pale green crystallized
beryl—of a sea-green color.
topaz—Pliny [37.32], makes it green and
transparent, like our chrysolite.
chrysoprasus—somewhat pale, and having
the purple color of the amethyst [Pliny,
37, 20, 21].
jacinth—The flashing violet brightness
in the amethyst is diluted in the jacinth [Pliny, 37.41].
21. every several—Greek, "each
22. no temple … God … the
temple—As God now dwells in the spiritual Church, His
"temple" (Greek, "naos," "shrine"; 1Co 3:17;
6:19), so the Church when
perfected shall dwell in Him as her "temple" (naos: the same
Greek). As the Church was "His sanctuary," so He is to be their
sanctuary. Means of grace shall cease when the end of grace is come.
Church ordinances shall give place to the God of ordinances.
Uninterrupted, immediate, direct, communion with Him and the Lamb
(compare Joh 4:23),
shall supersede intervening ordinances.
23. in it—so Vulgate. But A, B,
and Andreas read, "(shine) on
it," or literally, "for her."
the light—Greek, "the lamp"
60:19, 20). The direct light
of God and the Lamb shall make the saints independent of God's
creatures, the sun and moon, for light.
24. of them which are saved …
in—A, B, Vulgate, Coptic, and Andreas read "(the nations shall walk) by
means of her light": omitting "of them which are saved." Her
brightness shall supply them with light.
the kings of the earth—who once had
regard only to their glory, having been converted, now in the new
Jerusalem do bring their glory into it, to lay it down at the feet of
their God and Lord.
and honour—so B, Vulgate, and
Syriac. But A omits the clause.
25. not be shut … by day—therefore
shall never be shut: for it shall always be day. Gates are
usually shut by night: but in it shall be no night. There shall be
continual free ingress into it, so as that all which is blessed and
glorious may continually be brought into it. So in the millennial
26. All that was truly glorious and excellent
in the earth and its converted nations shall be gathered into
it; and while all shall form one Bride, there shall be various
orders among the redeemed, analogous to the divisions of nations
on earth constituting the one great human family, and to the various
orders of angels.
27. anything that defileth—Greek,
"koinoun." A and B read [koinon,] "anything
in the Lamb's book of life—(See on Re 20:12; Re 20:15). As all
the filth of the old Jerusalem was carried outside the walls and burnt
there, so nothing defiled shall enter the heavenly city, but be burnt
outside (compare Re 22:15).
It is striking that the apostle of love, who shows us the glories of
the heavenly city, is he also who speaks most plainly of the terrors of
hell. On Re 21:26, 27, Alford
writes a Note, rash in speculation, about the heathen nations,
above what is written, and not at all required by the sacred text:
compare Note, see on Re 21:26.