REVELATION 21

NOTES ON REVELATION 21 

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Survey of the chapter
By telling us of the great white throne judgement at the end of chapter 20, John has taken us to the end of time as we know it. He now introduces us to eternal conditions, as he tells us he saw a new heaven and a new earth. Ever the evangelist, John is making the point that those who are banished in chapter 20 could have had a part in this blissful scene if they had repented.

It must be admitted that there is a difference of view as to whether the whole of chapter 21, (and the first five verses of chapter 22), is a description of certain aspects of the new heaven and earth, or whether John reverts back to the millenial reign of Christ after 21:8. It will be assumed in these notes that the latter is the case, for the reasons given in the survey of verse 9 onwards.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 21, VERSES 1 TO 8:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

 

Verses 1-8 The eternal state

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.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth- John is a true Seer, able to perceive what shall be in the future as it is brought before his eyes. John is going to briefly describe what he sees, as if looking at it from outside. No-one, not even Adam, could say, before the moment of original creation, “I saw the first heaven and the first earth”. He who created them could, however, for just as an architect has an impression in his mind of what the building will be like before it is built, or even before the plans are drawn up, so Christ, the one who made the worlds, Hebrews 1:2, conceived the plan and then put it into effect. John is privileged to see the new creation, without being the architect. As he languished on Patmos this would be a great encouragement to him, and through him, a great encouragement to believers as they read his account. No wonder there is a blessing for those who read the book, 1:3.
The reason God is able to righteously bring in this new creation is because His Son has given Him the moral right to do so. In theory, sovereign will alone could have determined it and brought it to pass, but God acts on principle. Unless there had been an answer given to the sin of the inhabitants of the first creation, (men and angels), God would have no moral right to sweep away an old creation and bring in a new one. But the propitiatory work of Christ has established that right, having given to God the answer to the demand His own throne made against sin. He must deal with sin, every sin, and clear Himself of any charge that He was not competent to do so.
The work of Christ at Calvary has also ensured that there will not be an eternal cycle of “creation- fall- new creation”. Every question has been settled at Calvary, and God can justly bring in a creation that cannot be spoiled. This is why the apostle Peter described the new heavens and the new earth as being where righteousness dwells, 2 Peter 3:13, for it will be a place where righteousness is completely comfortable, with no iniquity rising up to disturb it.
There is a sense in which the millenial earth and heavens, having been reconciled to God on the basis of the work of Christ, can be described by God as “new heavens and a new earth”, Isaiah 65:17. The apostle Paul wrote, “and, having made peace by the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven”, Colossians 1:20. Note the three-fold use of the word “things”, and the distinction made in the next verse, where the apostle speaks of believers. It is all things that are reconciled, and all believers, but not all men. God had to distance Himself from His creation when its head, Adam, sinned, and He willed to impose the bondage of corruption upon it. That distance has already been bridged as far as believers are concerned, and will soon be bridged as far as inanimate creation is concerned.
The reference to the millenial earth as being the new heavens and new earth is, however, anticipatory, for what is described in the rest of Isaiah 65 is a scene where there are sinners, verse 20, and there will be no sinners in the final heaven and earth.
It is important to remember that the reign of Christ has two aspects, the temporal and the eternal. At first He will reign for a period of one thousand years to deal with all God’s enemies, as detailed in 1 Corinthians 15:23-28. At the end of this period He will deliver up the kingdom to His Father, with all that He was entrusted to do having been done. Then will begin the eternal reign of God the All-in-all. So it was that when the angel announced that Mary was to conceive and bare a son, she was told that “of His kingdom there shall be no end”, Luke 1:33. The reason for that being that He would appropriately be called the Son of God, verse 35. Being one of the persons of the Godhead, He would reign eternally as the Father and the Spirit will do. The reason He is able to continue is given us in Hebrews 1:12, for having spoken of the heavens and the earth being changed, we read of the Son of God, “But Thou art the Same, and Thy years shall not fail”. But God has no years, yet the Son of God, because He is come into manhood, does. He will continue in that manhood for ever.
The apostle Paul wrote of the great change which comes about when men repent and believe the gospel. His words are, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”, 2 Corinthians 5:17. The basis upon which this happens is the same basis on which the new heaven and new earth shall be brought in, namely, that God made Christ to be sin, and He effectively dealt with the sin-question. At this point it will be fully realised what was announced on the banks of the Jordan centuries ago, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”, John 1:29. The Messiah shall “bring in everlasting righteousness”, Daniel 9:24.
The one who believes is made fit to enter into the new heaven and earth when it comes about. All that will need to be changed is the body which links him to the first creation. This change is described in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.
For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away- John had seen them flee away from the face of His that sat on the throne, 20:11. The apostle Peter tells us that “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up”, 2 Peter 3:10. He adds in verse 11 that “the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved”.
Men devise their theories about the origin of the universe, and suggest, in unbelief, that it all started with a big bang. The fact is, as the patriarch Job tells us, the creation of the universe was done by God speaking in a whisper, for when He made all things “how little a portion is heard of Him”, Job 26:14. It is the end of all things that will be with a “great noise”.
And there was no more sea- why should this feature be singled out? Consider the following points:
1. Isaiah uses the restless sea as a figure of the wicked. He wrote, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked”, Isaiah 57:20,21. In the new heaven and new earth there will be no wickedness, restlessness, or vileness.
2. The sea is also a reminder of judgement, for it was waters from beneath the sea, combined with waters above the firmament, that flooded the earth in Noah’s day. And then the waters ran back into the sea. So as we look at the sea today we see waters that drowned men.
3. There is also the fact that currently the sea is the seal of the abyss, the prison-house of fallen angels. All such associations will be absent from the new creation. The fallen angels will have been consigned to the place prepared for them and their leader the Devil, even the lake of fire, Matthew 25:41.
4. The fact that the sea will be no more also tells us that the new things shall be radically different, for the sea plays a vital part in the climate of the earth, but will not be needed in the new and eternal conditions spoken of here. This assures us that John is not being shown the millenial earth, for that will have sea.

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.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem- in his gospel John remains anonymous, for he is writing of the Son of God who must not be obscured. Here, however, he is informing us of coming things, and so assures us that he personally saw the things he relates in the book.

During the Great Tribulation, the city of Jerusalem will be called Sodom and Egypt, for it will be a centre for vice and idolatry, and the very opposite of holy, Revelation 11:8. In fact, the Antichrist will set up his image in this place. Here, however, is a city into which no evil may come.

It is called new Jerusalem because of the great difference between it and the old city. Primarily the current city of Jerusalem is noted for its rejection of God’s Son. That is why there needs to be a new Jerusalem, for the old things, including the associations, must pass away. It is also called new because it is the administrative centre of the new earth.

Coming down from God out of heaven- we read in both Old and New Testament the words, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen”, Isaiah 21:9; Revelation 14:8. Thus Satan’s city, the place from which he has masterminded his rebellion against God from the days of Nimrod onwards, will fall, and come to an end, and God’s city will come to the fore, coming down from heaven and never being destroyed.
We are told that Abraham, and the rest of the men of faith of old time, “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”, Hebrews 11:10. The contrast is no doubt with the fact that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob dwelt in tents, moving about on a pilgrimage. Abraham had left Ur, a city with foundations, and for the rest of his life lived in a place which had no solid base. The fact that this city comes down from God emphasises that He is the builder of it, and indeed the maker, or architect.
Down through the years, cities have been centres of rebellion against God, for the sins practised in villages are many, but when men gather in cities their sins multiply. This is why it was not until the time of the kings of Israel that the nation had a capital city, for the rule of the king was needed to subdue the sin. In eternity, however, it will be safe for men to dwell in a city, especially because the presence of God will be there.
Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband- a bride adorns herself on her wedding day not only to show her beauty, but also to be a credit to the one to whom she is about to be married. This city is in festal array, thus harmonising with the character of those who dwell within it. In verse 9 an angel offers to shew John the bride, the Lamb’s wife. It seems that in this verse John makes a brief mention of the city as it will be in eternity, and from verse 10 onwards he goes into more detail, as guided by the angel, as to how it will be during the reign of Christ. So it is probably the same city, but at different times.

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.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying- so the new heaven and new earth are not a substitute for heaven, for after the city has come down there is still a heaven from which a voice can issue.
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them- somewhat of the sense of wonder at this is expressed by the word “Behold”. King Solomon asked the question, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Him; how much less this house that I have builded” 1 Kings 8:27. The answer to Solomon’s question is found in John 1:14, “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”. The coming of the Lord Jesus was the clearest possible signal that God had deep interest in men, and in the Person of His Son was dwelling among them. Christ did not attempt to build a rival temple. He did not need to, for His body was the temple, John 2:21. This coming of the new Jerusalem is but a consequence of Christ’s coming in flesh, for what He did in the body has made it possible for God to dwell among men without compromising His nature or character. That He is said to dwell among men and not angels is testimony to the bond that was forged by His Son becoming man. A leading idea of a tabernacle is that it was a moveable structure. Those who camped around it from time to time made progress. So in eternity, God will dwell with His people and lead them on into an eternal journey, exploring His greatness and glory, and unfolding to them in increasing depth the wonders of the work of His Son.
And they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God- we should remember that at this point Christ will have subjected Himself afresh to His Father, so that God may be all in all, 1 Corinthians 15:28. But this does not mean that the relationships established on the basis of the work of Christ at Calvary shall be cancelled. Israel will still be Israel, for God promised that they would be His special people for ever, (see Jeremiah 31:35-37), and the church will still be the church, for there will be glory for God in the church, by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Ephesians 3:21. So “they shall be His people” does not cancel former relationships, but is a general statement assuring us that all who dwell in either heaven or earth shall in some way be the people of God. This guarantees their blessedness and their security, for through all eternity He shall be their God. He will always be there for them.

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.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes- it goes without saying that this will happen before eternity begins for us. Nothing subsequently can cause a tear to fall. What a testimony to the closeness to God that the work of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit has brought us, for God Himself shall stoop to wipe our tears, as a father would. The causes of tears are now listed.
And there shall be no more death- how many tears have been shed by mourners at the graveside, as believers have seen their loved ones lowered into the earth. They did not sorrow as those who have no hope, 1 Thessalonians 4:12, but they did still sorrow, and fellow-believers wept with them, Romans 12:15. Death shall never intrude into the abiding-place of God, just as death could not stand in the presence of Christ when He was here. For the believer He has abolished death, and brought life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:11.
How solemn to remember, however, that multitudes shall be in the lake of fire for all eternity, which is defined twice over as the second death, Revelation 20:14; 21:8. So “there shall be no more death” means in relation to believers.
Neither sorrow- how many tears of regret have been shed over what might have been. Lost opportunities, lost time, wasted energies- all these can cause us sorrow in this life. We should remember that God is able to “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten”, Joel 2:25. It is never too late on earth to take stock and resolve to be better for God now. Brooding over the past is unproductive and depressing, but “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of”, 2 Corinthians 7:10. The salvation in question being salvation from loss of reward at the judgement seat of Christ.
Nor crying- are there not many tears shed out of heart-ache, perhaps over self’s failures, or the lack of spiritual progress of fellow-believers, or the failure of loved-ones to repent and believe? Such an experience will not be possible in eternity, for God will graciously blot out their memory.
Neither shall there be any more pain- ever since the fall of man, pain has been the experience of believers, for their bodies link them still with Adam, even though their souls are saved. There is a sense in which some pain is beneficial, for it alerts us to a problem, or warns us that a particular part of our body should be treated especially gently, perhaps because of bruising. Generally, however, pain is distressing. Whether it be mental pain over circumstances, or physical pain because of persecution for the faith, all such feelings will be gone for the believer, for in the presence of God there is “fulness of joy”, Psalm 16:11.
For the former things are passed away- all those things that caused tears are now classed as former things. They are not relevant in eternity, and their causes have been fully dealt with. Nothing like the sad experiences of earth shall be carried over into eternity; they will be completely banished. There will be no dark side to heaven.

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.

And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new- God had spoken at the beginning of the book to announce that He was “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending”, so it is appopriate for Him, having made an end of the first heaven and earth, and made a beginning of the new, to speak again. He spoke the old earth and heaven into being, and now He speaks again to make new heavens and earth. It is a statement of character, as if to say, “I am the Maker-of-all-things-new”. Everything that is worthy of the description “new” has its origin in God. It is not just the stuff of the new heaven and earth that is made new, but new situations, experiences, feelings, joys, will all be so different to anything we may experience here, that they may rightly be called new, for they will come from God, the great Originator.
And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful- was there some hesitancy on the part of John to write, because he was so overwhelmed by what he was seeing? But what he saw others must see also, that they may be encouraged as they press on in their earthly pilgrimage, so he is spurred to write.
The natural mind would dismiss the things described in this chapter as fantasy, the sentimental dreaming of the old man John. We are assured that this is not so, for far from being imaginings, they describe that which is real and true. And far from being the thoughts of men, they are God’s faithful and reliable account of what shall be. As such they are worth recording and preserving. God said through Isaiah, “Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: For I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'”, Isaiah 46:8-10.

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.

And He said unto me, It is done- as far as God is concerned, these things, far off in the future as they are for us, are as good as done. He has purposed, and He will perform. Having declared in the previous verse that He makes all things new, God now can state that it is, as far as He is concerned, done.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end- having commanded John to write, He now assures him that as he does so he will not need to go outside of Himself, for Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Nothing can be written without using these, and all the letters they encompass. All that John had written, and would write in this book was within the Divine limits imposed by who God is, and what He intends to do. He is not just the beginner of everything, but is the beginning. He is not just the concluder of everything, but is the conclusion and the goal. If only as Christians we lived our lives with due regard to these matters, making our God the start and the goal. This would transform our attitudes and therefore our lives.
I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely- we now have a word for each of three classes of people. It is a solemn word, given the fact that the passage is about what shall be in eternity. Here, there is a word for the seeking sinner, one who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. On God’s side there is a promise, “I will give”. On man’s side there is thirst. And the two come together at the fountain of the water of life, at the very source. It is noticeable that when the Lord Jesus met with the woman of Samaria by the well-side, she used a word for well which means a cistern or pit with water in it. This is all she thought Jacob’s well to be, a shaft with water at the bottom; water, moreover, which might become polluted or stagnant. When the Lord Jesus spoke He used a word meaning fountain, for Jacob had dug down until he found a spring of water coming out of the rock. The contrast is clear, for He offered the woman water from the source, the spring or fountain, unpolluted, running water. But that water was not in Jacob’s well. Its source was in Himself. In old time God described Himself as the fountain of living waters, Jeremiah 2:18, so the source is in the Godhead. But the means of dispensing this water is through Christ, for the Father has given Him to have life in Himself, John 5:26. He always had life as the Son of God, but He is also the vessel from which this life is dispensed to others. And this is what God is indicating here, that He will give the seeking soul water from the very source, Christ Himself. Since the water is a figure for the Holy Spirit, we have here the whole of the Godhead expressing their desire for the blessing of men. God invites, the Son dispenses, the Spirit indwells.

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

He that overcometh shall inherit all things- we now have a word of promise for the believer. We have seen from Revelation 2:11 that “overcomer” must be a description of a true believer, or else if it is true that some believers do not overcome, they shall be hurt of the second death. This cannot be true, for believers shall never perish, John 10:28. Christ has made all believers “more than conquerors”, Romans 8:37. By the indwelling Spirit they are enabled to rise above adversity and stumblingblocks.
It is to such people that the promise comes that they will inherit all things. This can only be because of their association with God’s Son, for the Father has already given all things to Him; how can He give them to us independently? It must be through Christ that we inherit. Christ is not only God’s Only begotten Son, but Firstborn Son also. We read that “the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand”, John 3:35. As Only begotten Son all things are His anyway, but as Firstborn all things are His to give to others. The apostle Paul described the children of God as “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together”, Romans 8:17. So the overcomer inherits all things because of association with God’s Firstborn. Isaiah 53:12 said He would divide the spoil with the strong, and this is one way He will do it.
And I will be his God, and he shall be My son- it is God’s will to surround His Son with those that have been made like Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren”, Romans 8:29. The way in which this is brought about is found in the next verse, “Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified”. Having foreknown His people in eternity, and planned to conform them to the image of His Son, God calls, justifies and glorifies them, so that at the end of that process they are fully conformed them to the image of His Son. Image tells of representation, and God’s sons will be fitted to represent His Son. This is a glorious inheritance.

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.

But the fearful- the third word is to the unbeliever, and instead of being a promise, as to the other two classes of men, the seeker and the saint, there is a solemn warning to the unrepentant and uninterested sinner. The saint has a blessed inheritance with Christ, these have their part too, it is their portion in the lake of fire.
The fearful are not those of a nervous disposition naturally, but those who were afraid of the consequences of believing the gospel. They did not understand that when a person believes they are given, amongst many other things, the strength to endure the opposition that will inevitable come because of their faith. These, however, did not accept that, and hence were afraid of what friends, family, or colleagues might think and say and do. Truly “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe”, Proverbs 29:25.
And unbelieving- since all who shall be in the lake of fire are unbelievers, this must be a special class, those who glory in their unbelief, and promote it. A special punishment awaits those who lead others astray in this important matter. Many a religious leader shall perish because he has peddled lies to the ruin of the souls of those who looked to him for guidance. As the Lord Jesus said, “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”, Matthew 15:14.
And the abominable- there are certain practices that even unsaved people find distasteful, and turn away from in disgust. If this is the reaction of sinners, what must be the reaction of a thrice-holy God? All such must be banished from His presence and punished for their perverted lives. Nevertheless, these persons are listed here so they that may be warned. There are no depths of degradation into which a man may sink, from which the grace of God cannot lift Him. As Hannah said, “He lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory”, 1 Samuel 2:8. The previous verse in our chapter has told us about the princes; God’s sons, made like His own dear Son.
And murderers- God is the Living God, and “He giveth to all life, and breath and all things”, Acts 17:25. When He made man He made him “in His own image”, Genesis 1:27. An image is that which represents something else. The penny that the Lord used to illustrate a point had the image of Caesar on it, and therefore it represented Caesar and his rule over Palestine, Matthew 22:18-21. Man was created to represent God, the one who ruleth over all. He was fitted to do this because, like God, man had personality, (he was conscious of himself and his abilities); spirituality, (he was more than a collection of atoms, and appreciated God); morality, (he had a sense of what was good); and rationality, (he could think, reason, purpose, decide, and understand). Not only had man a duty to represent God in these ways, but he also had distinctiveness as he did so. He could do things that animals cannot. He could believe God, have a sense of duty, had a desire to know, could enjoy beauty and harmony. He exists for ever, has a will to act, and can translate thoughts into words.
Since man is such a special creature, with features no animal shares, his life is precious to God. (We should remember that man is still made in the similitude of God, James 3:9, even though man’s sinfulness makes that likeness very faint. In principle it is still there). To cause that life to cease is to cause the man’s vocation to cease. And since that vocation is to represent God, this is a very serious matter.
This is why after the flood, God pronounced the death penalty on murder. His words were, “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man”, Genesis 9:5,6. The time before the flood had been marked by violence, and now a restraint is put upon that violence.
Note the reason for the command, expressed in the last phrase just quoted, the fact that man is made in the image of God. All who effectively erase that image have forfeited their right to continue to live, for they clearly do not represent the Living God, and that is the purpose of their life.
All who murder are to be executed. This is God’s command, which has never been revoked. God will hold to account those in authority who defy this command, and sanction a lesser penalty for murder. It is a strange thing, that if a dog or other animal turns into a killer, it is put down by common consent, (unwittingly obeying part of God’s command quoted above, “at the hand of every beast will I require it”), but if a man kills, he is not executed. This is an indication of man’s warped sense of justice, and his failure to clearly distinguish between right and wrong.
It should be noted that abortion is murder. Notice the distinction made between life and breath in the quotation just made from Acts 17:25. Life begins at the moment of conception; breathing begins later. Mothers who have an abortion, (except perhaps in very exceptional circumstances), doctors who perform it, and those who legalise it, are complicit in the crime of murder, and shall pay the ultimate and eternal penalty, unless they genuinely repent and believe the gospel. There is forgiveness for the most wicked of sins through the sacrifice of Christ, for the blood of Christ is available to cleanse from all sin, and all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:7,9. But the opportunity to claim that forgiveness is limited to our lifetime. Once eternity is entered, that opportunity will be gone.
And whoremongers- these are they who promote, condone, or engage in immorality of whatever sort. God has made it clear from the beginning “Therefore shall leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife: and they should be one flesh”, Genesis 2:24. The “therefore” at the beginning of the sentence tells us that this is the result of other things. Those other things being, first, that God made them male and female in the beginning, hence it is God’s will that man should marry woman. For a man to “marry” a man, or a woman to “marry” a woman is a perversion of the Divine order, and will be judged. Second, because woman was made from man, there is an in-built attraction the one for the other, and when they marry there begins a life-long process of becoming one flesh. This is a different idea from being joined in body, although it usually includes it. Because Adam was able to say “this is now…flesh of my flesh”, Genesis 2:23, he recognised that the woman was very different to the animals he had named before she was made. She, unlike them, shared his nature, being of the same flesh.
The Lord Jesus used the words of Genesis 1:27, “male and female created He them”, and 2:23,24, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh”, to teach the sanctity and permanency of marriage, and the wickedness of undermining it, Matthew 19:3-12.
And sorcerers- these are those who are taken up with occult practices, and who are consequently in league with the Devil. God has made it clear that He will judge those of this sort. He said through Isaiah, “And when they shall say unto you, ‘Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter:’ Should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead? If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”, Isaiah 8:19,20. And the New Testament reinforces this, for the apostle Paul listed witchcraft amongst the works of the flesh, and added, “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”, Galatians 5:21.
And idolaters- if sorcerers are in league with the Devil and his agents wilfully, then idolaters are those who are on the fringe of the evil, unless they become initiated into the mysteries of false religions. Little does the idol-worshipper realise that behind his idol lurks an evil spirit, for the apostle Paul wrote, “the things that the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God”, 1 Corinthians 10:20. All idolaters shall be in the Lake of Fire, not just those who have worshipped the image of the Beast as described in this book.
And all liars- all who do not believe the gospel are governed by the one whom the Lord Jesus described as “a liar, and the father of it”, John 8:44, even the Devil himself. Adam and Eve listened to his lies in the garden of Eden, and they thereby allied themselves to the one who is the enemy of the truth. When they sinned their nature changed, and Adam passed this sin-nature on to the rest of men, for “by one man sin entered into the world”, Romans 5:12. This is why the psalmist said that “The wicked are estranged from the womb: They go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies”, Psalm 58:5. Children do not have to be taught to lie, for they have an in-built capacity to do it. All shall be damned that believe not the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:12.
Shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone- in verse 7 the inheritance of those who believe is described, for “He that overcometh shall inherit all things”. Here the dreadful inheritance of the unsaved is spoken of, not in any spiteful way, but in an evangelistic way, so that men may heed the warning and flee from the wrath to come. The saved shall have an inheritance they do not deserve, but the unsaved deserve their lot, for they had the daring to disobey God’s Son, and continue in their sin, John 3:36.
The lake of fire is the place of endless torment for the unsaved. The Lord Jesus spoke of it using the word Gehenna, and described it as “the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”, Mark 9:43,44. Three times over He speaks those solemn words, that men may be warned. Let not any think they can over-ride His words, and teach that after death there is oblivion. Scripture says, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement”, Hebrews 9:27. But lest it be thought that God takes any pleasure in “the death of him that dieth”, the passage says, “so also Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many”. In other words, men die and are judged afterwards with a constant judgement, but there is a way of escape in Him who bore the sins of many in the darkness of Calvary. He bore judgement so that men might not do so if they rest in Him and His work.
The Lord Jesus spoke of the resurrection of damnation, when they that have done evil shall come forth from their graves, John 5:29. So death is not the end, for there will be a resurrection even for unbelievers. They shall stand before God in the bodies they used to sin against Him, and then those bodies shall be “salted with fire”, Mark 9:49, so that just as salt preserves from change, so the fire shall preserve for more fire, for all eternity. Truly “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God”, Hebrews 10:31.
Which is the second death- this is the second time we have been told this, see 20:14, such is the gravity of the truth, and such is the concern of God that we be warned. It is important to remember the difference between life and existence. All created things have existence, but not all have life. Life and death are states of existence. When a person dies they move from one state of existence to another, namely from life to death. That person does not cease to exist, for the soul continues. So when an unsaved person dies, he moves from one state to another, but still exists. He moves from natural life on earth, to a state where his body is in the grave and his soul is in hell. At the resurrection of damnation he will move from a state of death to a state where he has been raised from the dead to stand before God at the great white throne judgement. After having heard God’s condemning verdict, (for all who stand before God’s throne at the end of time shall be condemned), he will then change his state again, and will be cast, body and soul, into the lake of fire. It is this latter state of things that is called the second death. The first death meant the separation of his body from his soul and spirit, the second death means eternal separation from God in the place of torment. As the wise man Job said of this situation, “But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn”, Job 14:22.

Survey of 21:9-22:5
We have looked at the description of the eternal state in the first part of the chapter, and now we consider the millenial age that precedes it.

The following are reasons for adopting the view that these verses do indeed refer to the millenial age:

1. A link is established with the end of the Tribulation Period in verse 9 by the fact that it one of the angels of judgement that speaks with John. One of the results of those judgements was that “great Babylon came into remembrance before God”, 16:19. That city was thought of as a harlot, so it is fitting that John should be shown the city of Jerusalem as “the bride, the Lamb’s wife”, 21:9.

2. In chapter 1 John had projected his mind to the Lord’s Day, when He would reign. But he was brought back from that to consider things nearer in time. So it is in chapters 21 and 22. Having briefly considered the new heaven and earth in verses 1-8, the angel brings John back to consider Christ’s millenial reign. Having done this, John is again brought back, for the Lord Jesus Himself says to him, “Behold I come quickly”, 22:7, a reference to His coming at the rapture. So John is brought right back to his current point in time, as he waited for the coming of the Lord.

3. There are references to the sun and the moon not being needed in the city, implying that the sun and moon would be needed outside of the city.

4. There is the mention of nations, and the kings of the earth in verse 24. Now the nation-state is first mentioned in Genesis 10:5,20, 31,32, where we learn how men were divided after the rebellion of the tower of Babel. Nationhood is God’s safeguard against the whole world rebelling against Himself. One of the achievements of the Antichrist will be to unite the world against God, and this is hindered by there being different nations. This will still be needed in the millenium, because there will be unbelievers at that time, and at the end of the reign of Christ many of them will rise up against Him. The only nation in eternity with be Israel, for God shall give Christ the throne of His father David, “and He shall rule over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end”, Luke 1:33.

5. There is the mention of a month in 22:2, which is a measurement of time, and this is not relevant in eternity.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 21, VERSES 9 TO 27:

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 shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

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

21:11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

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:

21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

21:15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

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.

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.

21:18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

21:19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

21:20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

21:21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

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.

21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Structure of the section

(a) Verses 9-11 Holy Jerusalem and its glo
(b) Verses 12-21 Holy Jerusalem and its wall
(c) Verses 22-27 Holy Jerusalem and its light
(d) 22:1-2 Holy Jerusalem and its river
(e) 22:3-5 Holy Jerusalem and its conditions

Survey of the section

As already indicated, we shall look at these verses as being the description of the state of things during the millenial reign of Christ, just as the following section, (from 22:6 to the end of the book), has to do with matters in the light of the coming of Christ for the church, which brings to an end this current age.

(a) Verses 9-11 Holy Jerusalem and its glory

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 shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues- it would be strange to mention the plagues of the tribulation in connection with the eternal state, for there shall be no remembrance of former judgements then. Here a link is being established between God’s judgements and the result of them, for the prophet said, “For when Thy judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness”, Isaiah 26:9. Interestingly, that chapter begins with the words, “We have a strong city: salvation will God appoint with bulwarks”, verse 1. Then in verse 5 the prophet speaks of the lofty city being laid low, a reference no doubt to the fall of Babylon. One of the angels involved in the seven last plagues showed John the destruction of that city, so perhaps this is the angel mentioned here, see 16:17,19; 17:1. He had showed John the judgement of the great whore, the unholy city, and now he shows him the blessedness of the holy city, the bride of the Lamb.
And talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife- we know from Ephesians 3:10 that angels take a great interest in the church, for they learn the manifold wisdom of God from it. Just as Babylon was called the whore, indicative of the immorality, both literal and metaphorical, she represented, so, in contrast, this city is called the bride, the Lamb’s wife. The prophets often likened the idolatry of the nation of Israel to adultery, for it was love of another rather than the love of God her husband. Here the church is seen as a pure bride, with love only for her Saviour, the Lamb. He is described as being without blemish and without spot, 1 Peter 1:19, and she has been made suitable to Him, for she is “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing”, and is “holy and without blemish”, Ephesians 5:27. She is like this solely because of the cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb.

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

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain- when John was shown the harlot-city, he was carried away in the spirit into the wilderness, for evil always brings in barrenness and dearth, 17:3. Here John is taken to that which represents a kingdom, for this city is no doubt the administrative centre of a great kingdom, and one that is more elevated than any other.
And shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem- the word “that” suggests that John has referred to this city before, as indeed he has, in verse 2. Here he is about to be given more details about it. In 17:18 Babylon was described as “that great city”, but her greatness consisted of the enormity of her wickedness. Here holy Jerusalem is called great because of the glory that shines in her. The Harlot-city was the centre of great unholiness, but this city has the holiness of God about it.
Descending out of heaven from God- in verse 2 this city had come down from God to be positioned over the new earth after earth and heaven had fled away at the end of time. John now sees the original descent of the city at the start of the millenial reign of Christ.

21:11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

Having the glory of God- we read in verse 23 that the glory of God lightened the city, but it is also true that this city’s inhabitants are all glorified saints, and manifest the glory of Christ, being conformed to His image, Romans 8:29.
And her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal- in 4:3 John likened God to a jasper and a sardine stone. Since the light of the city was like a jasper stone, and because this particular jasper stone is clear as crystal, we learn that the very glory of God shone forth, radiating its light from the city. The apostle Paul wrote, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”, 2 Corinthians 4:6. We learn from this that when God said at the beginning, “Let there be light”, the light shone out from within the darkness. This is an illustration of what should happen with the believer. At the moment of conversion the light of the glory of God seen in Christ shone into our hearts. There is a purpose in this, for we are to radiate the light of the glory that is in our hearts so as to give it to others. The light is not from ourselves, so in that sense is out of the darkness, but it should shine out of ourselves to God’s glory and the blessing of men. Now if this is true now, it is no surprise that the heavenly city radiates with the glory of God, for its inhabitants all have bodies of glory, and are able to do fully what they did partially on earth. The light is clear and crystal, for there are no impurities of earth to cloud the glory.

(b)   Verses 12-21   Holy Jerusalem and its wall

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:

And had a wall great and high- we can understand the city having a great and high wall, for in the millenial reign of Christ there will still be unbelievers, and at the end of the thousand years we know they will compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, 20:9. This wall therefore gives to the inhabitants a sense of security, and also serves as a barrier, for no unbelievers shall be allowed to enter. Perhaps the wall will be dispensed with in eternity, for no mention is made of it in verse 2.
And had twelve gates- this is the number that tells of administration in Scripture, and reminds us that the city is a centre of government.
And at the gates twelve angels- access to this city is carefully monitored. Only those written in the Lamb’s book of life will gain access, and no doubt the angel at the gate will ensure that this is the case. In any case, only those with glorified bodies will be able to rise to this city.
And names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel- one of the gates of Jerusalem in Bible times was the Damascus Gate, for that was where the road to Damascus began. So here, the twelve gates each lead to their respective tribes’ territory. In this way all of the tribes have an interest in the city. Whilst the church has higher blessings than Israel, the nation has not been obliterated. This mention of the twelve tribes must be a great difficulty to those who do not believe in the millenial reign of Christ, and transfer all of Israel’s blessings to the church.
Notice that the twelve tribes are mentioned, for the division of the nation has come to an end, and the old rivalries are gone. Hosea wrote of this time, “Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head”, Hosea 1:11. And Ezekiel wrote, “Thus saith the Lord God, ‘Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all…so shall they be My people, and I will be their God'”, Ezekiel 37:22,23.

21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

On the east three gates- when Israel were encamped round the tabernacle in the wilderness they were arranged in groups of three tribes on each of the four sides. But for them there was only one gate, at the east. There was only one way to God, by means of the altar of sacrifice, but there will be an individual way from God when each tribe-member has visited the city. He will take away his own personal experience of God. Because the name of his tribe is inscribed on the gate, he will not lose his way.
On the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates- John does not go round in order, but from east to north to south to west. In the millenium the territories of the tribes will be in the order, from the north to south, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Mannasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Judah, Benjamin, Simeon, Issacher, Zebulon, Gad, Ezekiel 48:1-7; 23-29.

Special note
It might well be asked, if this city is suspended above the earth, how any from earth can reach it? The answer to this is simple, and may be answered by asking another question. How will church saints get from earth to heaven? And how will they come subsequently with Christ to earth when they are manifested with Him? The fact is that the resurrection body will not be limited as our present body is. It will be a body that is incorrupt, glorious, powerful and spiritual, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. As such it will be able to soar to heaven, and earthly saints, like the Old Testament saints and tribulation saints, will be able to rise at will to the holy city. Only those who are believers shall be able to do this, so the holy city will be kept holy in this way.
And if it be asked how those who are alive when Christ comes to reign shall be able to do this, not having died, the answer is that they will be changed in the same way as saints will be when Christ comes for the church. This is a matter addressed by the apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. There the apostle unfolds the mystery as to how living saints can have resurrection bodies. The answer is, that “we shall not all sleep”, (that is, not all believers will die), “but we shall all be changed”. And what we are changed to is the likeness to Christ in His resurrection body, so it will be as if we have died, even though we have in fact not died.

21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations- again the number twelve occurs, this time reminding us of the solid basis of the administration of the city.
And in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb- the Lord Jesus said to His apostles, “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”, Matthew 19:28. By regeneration is meant the new state of things brought about when Christ reigns on the earth. So the apostles shall administer the twelve tribes. This explains why it was so necessary to replace Judas after he had fallen, not only so that the apostles could present a united front on the day of Pentecost, (“Peter, standing up with the eleven”, Acts 2:14), but also to bring the number of the future judges of Israel up to the right number.
The church itself is built upon the doctrinal foundation of the apostles and prophets, Ephesians 2:20, without specifying any number, but the administrative government of the earth is by the twelve apostles that followed Him on earth.

21:15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city- it is an angel who talks with John, but he refers to him as if on a level in one sense, for he will describe himself later as “thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets”, 22:9. This might suggest that we shall converse with the angels in eternity, as well as with the Lord and one another of course. A reed is an earthly measure, using an earthly plant, but it is made of gold, which is appropriate, since it is the city of God that is being measured.
And the gates thereof, and the wall thereof- we are told the measurements of the city and the walls, but not of the gates. Perhaps the measured city and walls tell us that they are Divinely limited, and form a secure place for the inhabitants, but there is free access through the gates for those who are not defiled.

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.

And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth- the city is of fixed and stable proportions, and is not like the sprawling cities of earth, which tend to extend until they merge.
And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs- this is equivalent to 1500 English miles, which makes an area of one billion and four hundred and forty million acres. Of course we do not know how many shall live in this city, but clearly it will be a pleasant garden-city, worthy of the one who in the beginning Himself planted a garden, Genesis 2:8.
The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal- notice that when the angel measures the city John only tells us the length and the breadth. Now he tells us the height of it. Now bear in mind that this city descends from heaven, but is not said to come to earth; it is stationed over the earth, for the nations shall walk in the light of it, as if it is a light in the sky. But now John mentions the height of it as being equal to the length and breadth. It is suggested therefore that by height is meant the altitude of the city above the earth. After all, is it a pleasing prospect to dwell in the middle of a city in the shape of a cube, with 750 miles to the outside?
Earth’s moon is 2158 miles in diameter, and the holy city is 1500 miles across, so it is 70% smaller than the moon. But the moon is 235,000 miles away, whereas the city is 1500 miles above the earth. So the city is 156 times nearer than the moon. So if it were the same size as the moon it would look 156 times as big; but since it is only 70% of the size of the moon it would look 109 times as big. The full moon occupies a surprisingly small area of the sky, for it is only 1 degree across. This means that the holy city would appear to be two hand-spans plus three middle fingers across, when an observer’s arms are stretched out fully. This would make it large enough to be conspicuous, but not so large as to be ominous.

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.

And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits- again we have a multiple of twelve, and if a cubit is approximately 18″ long, then the wall is 72 yards high. If the city is a cube of 1500 miles, and its sides that high, this would be out of proportion. But if the city is two-dimensional and not three-dimensional, this height of wall is entirely appropriate.
According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel- does this tell us that angels are the same height as men? An earthly being is here likened to a heavenly one.

21:18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

And the building of the wall of it was of jasper- the building means the structure, so the wall is composed of the jasper stone, which verse 11 tells us shone with the glory of God, being like crystal. The wall in no way hinders the outshining of the glory from the city itself.
And the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass- the prophet described Babylon as “the golden city”, because of the riches and earthly glory that were concentrated there. This city, on the other hand, is of pure gold, for there is no defilement or unholiness in this city of God. The gold is clearly not of the earthly sort, for it is like glass, able to allow the glory of God to shine forth.

21:19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

21:20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones- normally, foundations are not visible, being embedded in the earth for stability. There is no need for this here, for the wall does not depend on physical forces to support it. So the foundations of the wall can be seen, and are embellished with precious stones of many sorts.
The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst- the wall has twelve foundations, so each jewel decorates one of the foundations.
On the high priest’s breastplate were twelve stones, and on those jewels were inscribed the names of the tribes of Israel “according to their tribes”. This is usually thought to mean “according to the way in which they were arranged around the tabernacle”, since Balaam saw the children of Israel around the tabernacle “according to their tribes”, Numbers 24:2. Now when Joshua was investigating why Israel had been defeated at Ai, he ordered them to be brought before him “according to your tribes”, Joshua 7:14, and he began with Judah.
Instead of the names of the tribes, however, (they were on the gates), it was the names of the twelve apostles that were inscribed on the foundations. No doubt Christ’s choice of these men had this in mind, and they will be uniquely fitted to administer their allotted tribe.

21:21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls- whereas natural precious stones come from beneath the earth, pearls come from the depths of the sea. Such will have been the experience of the nation of Israel, for God’s intention was that Israel should be special to Him, as He said to them in the day when He made a covenant with them, “if ye will obey My voice indeed and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine”, Exodus 19:5. God could have chosen any nation, for all were His, (“all the earth is Mine”), but He chose Israel. And the word used for “peculiar treasure” is translated “jewels” in Malachi 3:17. Sadly, however, Israel failed to keep the covenant and were carried away into captivity amongst the Gentile nations. They were hidden in the “sea” of the Gentiles, but one day they shall be brought back into favour, and every time a believing Israelite enters through the gates of the city he will be reminded of God’s recovering grace.
Every several gate was of one pearl- this means that each gate was a separate entity, so the experience of each tribe under the hand of God was preserved in memory.
And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass- as soon as the visitor enters within the gates, he will find that all is of God, and he treads, not the streets of the Gentile cities any longer, but God’s street, for it is of pure gold, yet not the gold of earth, for it lets through the glory of God.

(c)   Verses 22-27   Holy Jerusalem and its light

21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

And I saw no temple therein- it is as if John is entering into the gates to explore, and being a spiritual man, he will immediately seek out the presence of God. He does not find a specific location however, for the reason next given. The temple to Marduk in Babylon was very conspicuous. Here, all is different.
For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it- the presence of God and the Lamb so pervades the scene that no part can be said to be more the presence of God than another.
As we noticed in connection with 11:17, God as the Almighty is first mentioned in the word to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God, walk before Me and be thou perfect”, Genesis 17:1. And He said to Moses, “I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name Jehovah I was not known to them. And I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan”, Exodus 6:2,3,4. So at a critical point in the history of His dealings with the seed of Abraham, just as He was about to deliver Israel from the bondage of Egypt, He established that He is Lord, as well as being God Almighty. Lord will be the title Israel will give Him, whereas God Almighty had been the title the patriarchs had used. As God He has power, as Lord He has authority, as Almighty He has sufficiency.
The title Lamb, however, will be especially precious to the remnant of Israel, for it is through His blood that they will have been redeemed. The same is true of the saints of this age, for as the apostle Peter writes, “”Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”, 1 Peter 1:18,19. Not only so, but John the Baptist looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said “Behold the Lamb of God”, John 1:31. So not only does the title “Lamb” remind us of His death, it also reminds us of His life and pathway here. So when we are told that “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it”, we realise that God’s presence is marked by the full range of His attributes, and the full range of their manifestation by Christ on earth. We should not forget that the city is metaphorically the Lamb’s wife, verse 9.

21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it- this is not to say that the sun and moon do not exist at this point; rather, it is that they are not needed in the heavenly city. No created object shall contribute to the glorious light of this city.
For the glory of God did lighten it- that which the titles just mentioned bring to our minds is the glory of God.
And the Lamb is the light thereof- here is testimony to the equality of the persons of the Godhead, for there are not competing lights here; they shine with the same glory. So the light that illumines the city is Divine glory, and the lamp, the vessel that holds the light, is the Lamb. As ever, He is the brightness of the glory of God, Hebrews 1:3, for it is expressed in and through Him. It is as if the lamp in the Holy Place and the Shekinah glory in the Holiest of all of the tabernacle are now seen to be one light.

21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it- the Lord Jesus said that when He, as the Son of man, comes in glory to set up His kingdom, “before Him shall be gathered all nations”, Matthew 25:32. He shall then proceed to divide them up into believers and unbelievers. The distinguishing feature about the believers being that they had helped Christ’s brethren, the Jewish remnant at the time, and also those who had preached the gospel of the kingdom. John tells us that “he that doeth righteousness is righteous”, 1 John 3:7. In other words, righteous deeds can only be done by those who have had Divine righteousness imputed to them, and who are therefore righteous by faith. These believers from the nations will enter Christ’s kingdom, whereas the unbelievers will not. But these believers will keep their national identity, and are described in our chapter as “the nations of them that are saved”. Because they are saved, they will be comfortable as they walk in the light of the glory of God that shines from this heavenly city. It is only those who hate the light that do not come to the light, John 3:20. This is why those who rebel against Christ at the end of His kingdom come from the four quarters of the earth, for they had removed themselves as far as possible from the light of the city, and contented themselves with the light of the sun and the moon.
And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it- not only shall there be nations consisting of saved persons, but there shall also be saved kings over them. They shall bring their glory, not in the sense they will come to parade themselves, but will bring that which will glorify God and the Lamb, just as the wise men worshipped the infant Christ and presented unto Him their gifts, Matthew 2:11. So the nations shall live their lives by its light, but the kings, no doubt as representatives of those nations, will actually come into the city to present their gifts. This shows they must be saved persons, or else they would not be able to rise to the city, not having glorified bodies.

21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day- there will still be day and night on earth, and during the day time the worshippers will have free access to the city.
For there shall be no night there- there will be a constant stream of worshippers, for those on one side of the earth shall come when it is day for them, and then those from the other side of the earth. So the gates shall not be shut at all, for it will always be daytime on earth for someone who wants to come. And as for the city itself, it will be as the hymn-writer said, “the land of fadeless day”.

21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it- this seems to revert back to the kings of verse 24, who shall bring, not just their personal offerings to the King, but also the gifts of the nations they rule over. Perhaps glory is their response to the Being of God, honour their response to the doings of God.

21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth- there will be no way that an unbeliever will gain entry into this holy city. They will never find any way, (“no wise”), to overcome their lack of a spiritual body. The unbeliever is not only defiled but defiling, like the leper of old. The apostle Paul listed ten sorts of people that shall not enter into the kingdom of God, 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, but he could say of those in the assembly at Corinth, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God”, verse 11. They had realised that they could not associate with the name of Christ unless they had been washed from their defilement, and this is what had happened. These mentioned here, however, were barred as unwashed sinners. Remember that there will be sinners during the millenial reign of Christ, as Isaiah 65:20 makes clear.
Neither whatsoever worketh abomination- any who practise that which is in any way abhorrent to God shall be excluded.
Or maketh a lie- notice that in these three particular conditions it is something that is done by the one seeking to enter, either “defileth”, or “worketh”, or “maketh”. There is active sinning in view in each case. These people are practising a lie, for “worketh” and “maketh” are covered by one word. As such, their activity is totally unsuited to the city of the God of truth. They have not learnt the lesson from those who perished because they believed the Antichrist’s lie, 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12.
But they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life- this is the deciding factor. Only those who believe have their names written there. Paul could write of those who laboured with him in the making known of the gospel, that their names were in the book of life, Philippians 4:3. It would be well to challenge our hearts about this matter, and ask whether we practise a lie, or believe the truth of the gospel, and seek to further it.

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