Section: Chapter Twenty - The Beginning and End of the Millennium
TWENTY-ONE - NEW HEAVENS, NEW EARTH, NEW JERUSALEM
(1) Then I saw a new heaven
and a new earth; (2) for the first heaven and the first earth passed
away, and (3) there is no longer any sea.
1. Then I saw a new heaven
and a new earth = begins with the typical introductory vision formula
that signals a new vision description. This vision concerns a new
heaven and earth, which one would expect to follow the general judgment
of all the wicked of the ages. The sequence of this event is logical
in light of the overall structure of Revelation 19-21. This reinforces
the notion that Johns depiction of the earth fleeing away in
Revelation 20:11 is accurate. New (kainos) pertains "to
having been in existence for only a short time new, recent
(Louw-Nida, § 67.115)."
2. For the first heaven
and the first earth passed away = explains why John sees a new heaven
and earth at this point. The first heaven and earth passed away.
Louw-Nida indicates that the sense of the text is "to go out
of existence." This is a clear reference to the final destruction
of the present earth. One will notice the apparent absence of any
reference to a fiery destruction of the earth. There is explicit biblical
proof that God will destroy the wicked with fire (Zeph 1:18; 3:8;
There is no biblical basis
for the conclusion that God will destroy the physical earth with fire.
The closet possible biblical support for this conclusion might be
II Peter 3:5-7, 10. However, it is clear that Peter is contrasting
the destruction of the wicked in the days of Noah with that of the
wicked during the Day of the Lord. Clearly, the physical destruction
of the earth did not concern earth itself, but the people who dwell
upon it. Equally, the Day of the Lord will remove the wicked from
the earth and cause severe damage to the physical earth, but the earth
will not cease to exist during the Day of the Lord.
The strongest verse that
seems to support a fiery destruction of the physical earth is II Peter
3:10, which states,
"But the day of
the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass
away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense
heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up."
This verse has caused some
to argue that the Day of the Lord extends until the end of the millennial
reign of Christ. However, this conclusion is unwarranted.
The translation of 2 Peter
3:10 in the English Standard Version better reflects the intent of
the text. Notice, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly
bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works
that are done on it will be exposed."
Notice that instead of
"burned up," the better reading is "will be exposed."
The quality of the work is exposed by fire, but the physical earth
is not burned up. There is no biblical basis for the physical earth
being burned up.
3. There is no longer any
sea = argues strongly that the period described by John in Revelation
21:1 must follow the temporal kingdom. The absence of the sea, but
the presence of a new heaven and earth signals a difference between
this period and the kingdom period. The sea is present during the
(1) And I saw the holy city,
New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, (2) made ready as
a bride adorned for her husband.
1. And I saw the holy city,
New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God = will again be
repeated in Revelation 21:10 with a slight variation. This has lead
some to suggests that the New Jerusalem comes down twice. One cannot
be dogmatic either way.
2. Made ready as a bride
adorned for her husband = describes the New Jerusalem. This New Jerusalem
is in stark contrast to the "woman" of Revelation 17. This
New Jerusalem comes as bride for a new earth.
(1) And I heard a loud voice
from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among
men, and (2) He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people,
and (3) God Himself will be among them, and (4) He will wipe away every
tear from their eyes; and (5) there will no longer be any death; (6)
there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; (7) the first
things have passed away.
1. And I heard a loud voice
from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among
men = continues the unrecognized voice that declares from the throne.
In this case, the voice announces that "the tabernacle (dwelling)
of God is with men." Long promised, God is finally among his
people (Ezek 37:27).
2. He will dwell among
them, and they shall be His people = refers to God in the third person.
Someone is describing the new situation on the new earth. In a way
unparalleled in history, God will live among His people.
3. God Himself will be
among them = adds a note of emphasis. God the Father will live among
His people. Separated in the garden, men had lost the ability to commune
with God. However, God finally returns to live with man on earth.
4. He will wipe away every
tear from their eyes = is the fist listed benefit of this new earthly
relationship with the God of heaven. The cessation of weeping and
mourning is an eschatological promise (Is 35:10, 65:19) finally realized.
5. There will no longer
be any death = is the second item of relief the new creation will
experience when Gods eternal rule is established on earth. The
phrase is absolute. Death will cease. In the new heaven and earth
with a New Jerusalem, there will be no death.
6. There will no longer
be any mourning, or crying, or pain = indicates the absence of all
those human conditions which produce outcomes of mourning, crying,
7. The first things have
passed away = restates the reason why the human condition has improved.
This clause refers back to Revelation 21:1, which indicated that a
new heaven and earth had come. Those aspects of the creation that
produced hardship and suffering for mankind have been removed. This
is not restoration, but re-creation.
(1) And He who sits on the
throne said, (2) "Behold, I am making all things new." (3)
And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."
1. And He who sits on the
throne said = is a direct reference to God the Father. This is one
of the few direct references to the Father in the Revelation. The
2. Behold, I am making
all things new = is a bit strange at first glance. One would think
that given the context that this sentence would read, "I have
made all things new." However, as it stands, it appears that
God is still in the act of creating all things new.
3. He said, "Write,
for these words are faithful and true" = applies to the whole
book of Revelation and not just this section.
(1) And He said to me, "It
is done. (2) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
(3) I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water
of life without cost.
1. And He said to me, "It
" = indicates completion. Unfortunately, it is not
clear what is finished. In context, one would assume that Gods
new creation is finished, but this is guessing.
2. I am the Alpha and the
Omega, the beginning and the end = basically is two ways of saying
the same thing. The phrase focuses on the absolute power and sovereignty
3. I will give to the one
who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost = is
metaphorical way of referring to eternal life. What was promised for
thousands of years is now fulfilled. Progressive sanctification finally
results in absolute glorification.
(1) He who overcomes shall
inherit these things, and (2) I will be his God and he will be My son.
1. He who overcomes shall
inherit these things = reiterates the promise. The overcomer gets
"all these things." This refers to the list outlined in
verse four above.
2. I will be his God and
he will be My son = is singular, nevertheless it applies to all of
those who are overcomers. This is a great promise. Overcomers will
be adopted as "sons" of God. All the rights and privileges
of sonship come with this promise. This is beyond human comprehension.
The road from being the objects of ridicule and scorn to "sonship"
is the heart of this revelation. We are sons of God.
But for the cowardly and
unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers
and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns
with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
This verse actually concludes
the chronological development of the book of Revelation. From this
point on, the book deals with issues related to the consummation of
human history, as we know it. Having reached eternity, God restates
his promise to the righteous and his intent to punish the wicked.
The righteous become part of the family of God the Father, but the
wicked receive eternal punishment, which ultimately refers to the
absence of Gods presence.
(1) And one of the seven
angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came
and spoke with me, saying, (2) "Come here, I shall show you the
bride, the wife of the Lamb."
1. One of the seven angels
= implies that the final details of the book are about to be added.
This is not an advancement of the chronology of the book. That ended
at Revelation 21:8.
2. Come here, I shall show
you the bride, the wife of the Lamb = is clearly metaphorical language.
That said, I am not sure of the literal referent intended here. In
Revelation 19, the wife of the Lamb consists of believers. In Revelation
21, the wife of the Lamb is the New Jerusalem.
(1) And he carried me away
in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, (2) and showed me the holy
city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven form God having the glory
of God. (3) Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone
of crystal-clear jasper.
1. And he carried me away
in the Spirit to a great and high mountain = is interesting because
in Revelation 16:20 all mountains on the earth are removed. This simply
means that John is given the view of the New Jerusalem before the
actually events occur. John saw the New Jerusalem 2000 thousand years
ago before the events actually take place.
2. And showed me the holy
city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven form God having the glory
of God = indicates an obvious contrast with the city of Revelation
17, which had the glory of man.
3. Her brilliance was like
a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper = is an image
of Gods glory.
It had a great and high wall,
with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were
written on them, which are those of (1) the twelve tribes of
the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east
and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three
gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones,
and on them were the twelve names of (2) the twelve apostles of the
1. The twelve tribes of
the sons of Israel = will each represent a gate. Thus, each tribe
has access to the city. Israel will have her promised restoration.
2. The twelve apostles
of the Lamb = includes the apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus also promised
the Disciples that they would govern the twelve tribes of Israel during
the His temporal kingdom (Matt 19:27-30). Over the twelve apostles
will be King David (Ezek 34:23-24, 37:24-25).
The one who spoke with me
had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its
wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as
the width; and he measured the city with the rod, (1) fifteen hundred
miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its
wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which
are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall
was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.
1. Fifteen hundred miles
= is the dimension of this great city. Fifteen hundred miles is the
distance between New York City and Dallas. This city is a perfect
cube. If you make a box with Minneapolis, MN as the Northeast corner,
Seattle, WA as the Northwest corner, San Diego, CA as the Southwest
corner and Little Rock, AR as the Southeast corner you would have
a picture of this great city in terms of its breath. A fifteen hundred
mile high, wide and long city would equal three billion three hundred
seventy-five million cubic miles. Such a city could accommodate one
billion believers with each able to have a 14,000 square-foot apartment
with room left over.
The foundation stones of
the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first
foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony;
the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh,
chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase;
the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were
twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street
of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
(1) I saw no temple in it,
(2) for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (3) And
the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, (4) for
the glory of God has illumined it, and (5) its lamp is the Lamb.
(6) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will
bring their glory into it. (7) In the daytime (for there will be no
night there) its gates will never be closed; and (8) they will bring
the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and (9) nothing unclean,
and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into
it, (10) but only those whose names are written in the Lambs book
1. I saw no temple in it
= is a bit strange. So long a part of the Jewish economy, the absence
of a temple in the new heaven and earth is striking. This is evidence
that God has indeed created "all things new." The administration
of earth will be new and different.
2. For the Lord God the
Almighty and the Lamb are its temple = explains why there is no temple
in the New Jerusalem. Shadows have been replaced with reality. Instead
of God being housed in a building, the building is housed in God.
3. And the city has no
need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it = is a second absent
element in the New Jerusalem. The sun and moon are light sources.
The New Jerusalem will not need natural light sources. This could
mean either the sun and moon no longer exists or that the city has
4. For the glory of God
has illumined it = explains why the sun and moon will not be necessary
in the New Jerusalem. The glory of God illumines it.
5. Its lamp is the Lamb
= continues the explanation concerning why the city will be absent
of natural light.
6. The nations will walk
by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into
it = is seen by some as a contradiction. The nations (Gentiles) were
destroyed and the kings were as well. Therefore, where come these
kings? This is one of the reasons some see the New Jerusalem coming
down at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. The idea is that
once the eternal future begins ethnic differences fade away.
7. In the daytime (for
there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed = indicates
complete safety. Open gates is a sign of confidence in the personal
safety of the inhabitants. The absence of night would also mean no
need for sleep. This is certainly a characteristic of the eternal
8. They will bring the
glory and the honor of the nations into it = probably refers to the
kings. It is not apparently clear what "glory and honor"
refer to here.
9. Nothing unclean, and
no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it
= is a natural outcome given the nature of the New Jerusalem. However,
if the New Jerusalem comes down at the beginning of the eternal future,
where come the wicked? That is, the judgment of the damned occurs
at the end of the millennium. After the creation of the new heaven
and earth, there will be no more wickedness on the earth.
This verse has led some
to conclude that the New Jerusalem must come down at the beginning
of the millennial kingdom. Else why talk about a problem that does
not and cannot exist.
10. But only those whose
names are written in the Lambs book of life = clarifies who
will be able to enter the New Jerusalem. This again argues for the
conclusion that the New Jerusalem comes down at the beginning of the
millennial kingdom. It appears strange to list those who can enter
the city unless there are those who cannot enter it.
Section: Chapter Twenty-Two - Epilogue