The chronology of Chapter 21 is as follows:
The Ages to Come – Revelation 21:1
As we alluded to in chapter 20, during this time, the new heavens and the new earth will be brought about. They will not so much be new in scope, but they will be brought from one state to another. The Scripture is silent as to exactly how this will happen. Peter did tell us this, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which 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. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:10-13)
In verse 10, the words “…pass away…”really mean change. The Greek word is “parerchomai” which means to pass from one condition to another. It never means annihilation. It does not indicate the elimination of heaven and earth. The term “…day of God,…” in 2 Peter 3:12, refers to the time when God rules supremely over all his creation without one person rebelling against Him as it was before lucifer and Adam’s rebellion. What God has done with the human race in redemption and what He will do with the new Heaven and the new earth will be even better than what God originally created. “…But where sin abounded, Grace did much more abound:” (Romans 5:20) The words “…passed away;…” in Revelation 21:1 means the same thing as they do in 2 Peter. Large oceans now cover about ¾ of the earth. In the New Earth, they will be no more. However, there will be an abundance of rivers, lakes, and small seas on the earth forever (Psalm 72:8-17; Ezekiel 47; Zechariah 14:8; Jeremiah 5:22).
The New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:2-3
It is called holy because there shall never enter into anything that defileth, that worketh abomination, or maketh a lie (Revelation 21:27). It is called new because of its external freshness and newness, not because of its new existence. It is as old as Heaven and was promised to the earliest saints on earth (Hebrews 11:10-16; Psalms 93:2; 103:19). It is called the Tabernacle of God because it is the dwelling place of God. It is called the Bride, The Lamb’s wife because it will be the eternal home of the redeemed of all ages (John 14:1-3). It is called Heavenly Jerusalem because it is the Jerusalem in Heaven that will be brought down to earth. It is called the Father’s House because it is the abode of God and His heavenly family (John 14:1-3). It will come down from Heaven to be the capital of God on the new earth. The city will be adorned with jewels like a bride for her husband. God, in His capital city, will be among men forever. In other words, He will move His headquarters from planet heaven to planet earth.
Conditions on the Earth – Revelation 21:4-7
Twelve blessings are listed for the redeemed in the New Earth that is to come:
In verse 5, The Lord said He would make all things new. Actually, there are seven new things promised in Revelation. They are as follows:
In the 6th verse, the Lord said “…It is done…” what did He mean by that? What He meant is as follows:
The sinful career of the immediate heavens and earth ended– Revelation 21:3-7; Revelation 22:3
In verse 7 we are told that we must be overcomers. How are we to do that? “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;…” (Revelation 12:11). The word of our testimony is that Jesus Christ has become our substitute, and we identified with Him. It is the same idea of the lamb taken by the offender in the old testament times. The offender’s hand would be laid on the head of the lamb (Leviticus 4:33) before the lamb was killed. It was symbolic of the sinner’s sin being transferred to the sinless victim, the lamb. The sinner would then slit the throat of the lamb. He was the one who had sinned. He was the one who had to slit the throat. It was our sins that nailed Christ to the tree
. Then, the skin was stripped from the lamb typifying that Christ “…being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8) The lamb was then placed upon the Brazen Altar, which was a type of Calvary and the judgment of God. In other words, instead of the sinner dying, Christ died in our place. That is my testimony, and as I could not save myself, neither can I, through my own efforts, overcome the powers of darkness. So, not only do I accept Christ as my substitute in the resurrection, and I identify with the same, as Christ walked out of the grave in newness of life, I too, walked out of the tomb in newness of life. And now as John said, “As he is, so am I.” (1 John 4:17). And now, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” This is the word of my testimony.
Eternal Punishment – Revelation 21:8
There are 10 classes of people listed here by The Holy Spirit that will go into eternal hell. They are as follows:
We are told that these that are named will have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and then we are told that this is the second death. This second death is the lake of fire or the second separation from God in hell eternally.
The True Bride of Christ – Revelation 21:9-10
These angels mentioned in verse 9 are redeemed men. They are not angels as we think of angels because one of them tells John that he is a prophet according to Revelation 1:1, 19:10; 22:8-9. The church has been called the bride of Christ for so very long when the explanation is only partly right. The bride of Christ is that great city, the Holy Jerusalem. This is what the angel pointed out to John when he promised to show him the bride, the Lamb’s Wife, the Holy City, the Heavenly Jerusalem. All who go to live in this city, which will include all the redeemed from the very beginning of time, will make up the bride and will live in the city. All saints, including Old Testament Saints, New Testament Saints, everyone that is included in the first resurrection from Abel to the last one saved in the future tribulation, will go to live in the New Jerusalem. All will be members of the bride, which is the New Jerusalem. All the redeemed (every saint of God) is now married to Christ under the terms of the New Covenant. Consequently, we are citizens of Heaven. We will, one day, go to live in New Jerusalem. And because of this, we expect to be a part of the Bride of Christ or a part of the Heavenly City. However, no one is a part of the bride until he begins to live in this city which is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. As stated, for centuries, students of the Bible have called the church the bride of Christ. But this, in a limited way, is unscriptural. The church will become a part of the bride when its members begin to live in the New Jerusalem. And, as we have stated, all saints of God, Old Testament and New Testament alike, will be made up of the bride. The wife if Christ is the same as the bride, which is the redeemed of all ages who will have part in the resurrection and who will live in Jerusalem forever.
John said that the angel (man) took him to a high mountain and showed him that great city. It would seem from John’s brief description that the city will possibly be a series of mountains starting with the low foothills just inside the walls. We know the city is 1,500 miles wide, 1,500 miles long, and 1,500 miles high according to Revelation 21:16. The city can have one of two shapes. First, it could go inward for 750 miles reaching 1500 miles high and then descend 750 miles on the other side. Or secondly, it could start at the wall which is 300 feet high and build up to be 1500 miles in length and 1500 miles in height. In other words, it would be at the highest at the very back. Whether the peak of 1500 miles high will be located in the exact center (which seems most likely), or whether it gradually reaches to the height of 1500 miles at the back is not stated. However, at its very top will be located the Heavenly Tabernacle in which the scenes of Revelation chapter 4 and 5 will be seen by all who visit the capital building. Whichever way it is, it is a phenomenon so absolutely breathtaking that it defies description. In this city, descending out of Heaven, transferring God’s headquarters from Heaven to earth, will reside every child of God who has ever lived.
Outward Appearance of the New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:11
In this passage, we are told that the city has the glory of God. What a statement! The Bible says that the light in this city will be as a jasper stone, clear as a crystal. This is a strange statement. The jasper stone is sea green in color, so it seems there will be a greenish hue to it that will, no doubt, be so beautiful it beggars description.
The Walls, Gates, and Foundations – Revelation 21:12-15
Besides the beauty, the glory, and the grandeur of this city, there are several striking things that The Holy Spirit draws to our attention. At the twelve gates, there will be twelve angels who seem to serve as sentinels. This says they (the gates) will have names written on them which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Then, we are told of the twelve foundations of the city and the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb on them. Incidentally, the twelfth will be Matthias, who has numbered with the twelve apostles and took the place of Judas. Here’s what The Holy Spirit is pointing out to us, God has put the names of the twelve sons of Jacob on these twelve gates. The same is said of the apostles concerning the twelve foundations. Why would He do this? The sons of Jacob, which represented the great tribes of Israel that would come from their loins, could not, in any stretch of the imagination, be considered holy. However, there is evidence that in their latter years, they started to follow the God of their younger brother, Joseph. The great twelve tribes of Israel, which sprang from their loins, could hardly have been called holy. They are taken into dispersion (Babylon) because of their terrible sins. They were finally destroyed in AD 70 because of their rejection of Christ. When we think of the twelve apostles, we like to think of them at their holiest. However, when Jesus chose them, they were anything but holy. So, what is the answer?
It is said that the man who talked with John had a golden reed to measure the city. A measure is 12 ½ feet long. Most of the time when an area is measured, it is measured for judgement. But, this city will be measured for glory, hence the golden reed.
The Measurements of the New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:16-17
The city is 1,500 miles wide, 1,500 miles long, and 1,500 miles high. It is all out of proportion to anything that we can even begin to comprehend. Twelve thousand furlongs is 1,500 miles square. He said the wall was 140 and 4 cubits. Some call a cubit 18 inches, some say 25 inches. 25 inches would make the wall and the gate 300 feet high. More than likely, this is the correct measurement.
The Materials in the New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:18-21
The description just given is so striking that it boggles the mind. We are told that the wall of the city is made of jasper. As we have stated, jasper is a stone of sea green color. Think of a wall 300 feet high and 1,500 miles in each direction made of jasper. We are then told that the city is pure gold like unto clear glass, and we are told that pure gold is transparent. The foundations, on which the names of the twelve apostles are inscribed, are garnished with all manner of precious stones. It seems from the description that each foundation is of a different type of precious stone. The first foundation is “jasper”, which is a sea green color. The second foundation is “sapphire”, which is bluish in color and next to a diamond in hardness. The third foundation is a “chalcedony”, which is made up of several milky veins. Some are brownish black, some are yellowish red. They will probably have all of these colors incorporated. The fourth foundation is “emerald”, which is a greenish stone. The fifth is a “sardonyx”, which is a bluish white with some that are red. The sixth foundation is the “sardius”, which is a blood red stone, with the seventh foundation being the “chrysolite”, which is a stone with a yellowish caste and some with a dusky green. Some are also of a golden hue. The eighth foundation will be the “beryl”, which is a stone that is transparent, bluish green color. The ninth stone is the “topaz”, which will be yellow. The tenth foundation is a “chrysoprasus”, which has a yellowish green stone with a bluish hue. The eleventh is a “jacinth”, which is a stone of red color with a mixture of yellow. The twelfth is an “amethyst”, which is a stone of purple or violet color composed of strong blue and deep red. These stones are similar to the stones in the breastplate of the high priest (Exodus 28:17-21).
We are told that each gate is of “one pearl.” The gates being 300 feet high (as high as the walls). Of course, there is no such thing as a pearl that large, but naturally, God can make pearls as large as He desires. Hence, we have no doubt as to the literalness of these materials. Simply because we cannot explain them in a natural sense, what God has said He will do, He shall do.
Then, in verse 21, the street and the city is mentioned as being as “pure gold” and “transparent.” The type of gold on the street of this city is a type that is probably unknown to us on earth. The singular number here does not mean that there is only one street in the city. Actually, there are twelve great streets (broad ways) going out of the 12 gates of the city ascending to the Tabernacle of God at the very height of this city. No doubt, there will be thousands of minor streets that will interconnect all of these great broad ways throughout the length, the breadth, and the height of this city built foursquare.
The Temple – Revelation 21:22
Actually, there will be a literal temple in the new Jerusalem according to Revelation 3:12; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15,17; 15:1-8; 16:1,17. The meaning is simply that men will no longer go to a building as the only place to meet with God as it was in the earthly temple at Jerusalem under the Old Covenant. There will be a temple, but God and the Lamb will be visibly present among men to meet with them in all places. So, man will not have to go to some type of temple to worship God and to meet with God. The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (The Lord Jesus Christ) will be worshiped throughout the city, whereas the temple in the Old Testament was the only place God dwelt. Now, the Lord and the Lamb will be there in person to be worshiped.
The Light of the New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:23
The city only is referred to here. There will be light from the sun and planets on the earth outside the city forever according to Genesis 8:22; Psalm 89:2-3; Jeremiah 31:35-36; Isaiah 30:26.
The Traffic in the New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:24-27
The natural, earthly nations, who have lived from the Tribulation period through the Millennium (the sheep nations), will multiply and replenish the earth and carry out the original program of God on the earth as Adam and others would have done if man had not sinned. These are the sheep nations of Matthew 25:31-46. “Sheep nations” means those nations that helped Israel during the Great Tribulation period. In this passage, there is a hint of the natural people who will live eternally on the new earth forever. There will actually be four classes of beings in the new heavens and the new earth. First, there will be deity, which is God the Father, God the Son, and God The Holy Ghost. Secondly, there will be angels as well as cherubim and seraphim. Thirdly, there will be the glorified saints of God, which will consist of every child of God who has ever lived from the beginning. And last of all, there will be what we refer to as natural people who will come over into the Millennial Reign out of the Great Tribulation. They will accept The Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and thereby, be given eternal life. They will live in this natural, eternal state forever. They will bear children, who also will never die. They will make up the saved nations of the New Earth and will be ruled by the glorified saints of God. We are told that these nations will be saved and walk in the light of the Glory of God in this New Jerusalem. We are also told that the presidents (kings) who will be appointed by Jesus, will bring their gifts into the city forever. The gates will never be shut, so whenever one looks at the gates of the New Jerusalem, one must look at them open because they “shall not be shut at all by day for there shall be no night there.” When it refers to no night being there, it is speaking of the city itself. Actually, outside the city, there will be day and night eternally according to Genesis 1:14-18; Genesis 8:22; Psalm 89:2-3; Jeremiah 31:35-36.
We are told in verse 27 that all the evil things that brought the pain, suffering, and sorrow of sin in the earth of old will never be able to enter into the New Earth and the New Jerusalem. We are also told that all the people of the nations of the new earth will have their names written in the Book of Life and consequently be saved.
New Heaven and New Earth
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:
-“New” in the Greek is “kainos” and means freshness with respect to age. When it is finished, it will be new, as is obvious, but the idea is that it will remain new and fresh forever and forever because there is no more sin.
for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;
-refers to the original creation which was marred by sin. “Passed away” in the Greek is “parerchomai” and means “to pass from one condition to another.” It never means annihilation.
and there was no more sea.
-refers to the giant oceans such as the Pacific and the Atlantic. However, there will continue to be lakes, bodies of water, rivers, streams, etc.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
-presents a new city for this new earth
coming down from God out of heaven,
-In effect, God will change His headquarters from Heaven to earth.
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
-proclaims the eternal home of the redeemed as dwelling place
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,
-According to the best manuscripts, the Voice now heard was heard “out of the throne.”
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.
-finally proclaims that which God intended from the beginning
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
-actually says in the Greek “every teardrop” and refers to tears of sorrow
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:
-addresses sin and all its results
for the former things are passed away.
-refers to the entire effect of the fall
5 And he that sat upon the throne said,
-presents, for the second time in this book, God, Himself, as the speaker
Behold, I make all things new.
-refers to the fact of changing from one condition to another
And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
-all said is “true” and God will be “faithful” to bring it all to pass as well
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
-The mighty declaration “finished” heard at the morning of creation, at Calvary, and now repeated here for the last time closes all prophecy. What He began, He now finishes.
I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
-This statement does not pertain to the coming perfect age, for all then will have the water of life but rather to the present. This “…fountain of the water of life…” is tied directly to The Cross of Calvary in that it is free to all who will believe (John 3:16).
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things;
-The only way one can overcome is to place one’s faith exclusively in The Cross of Christ which gives The Holy Spirit latitude to work in one’s life bringing about the Fruit of the Spirit.
and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
-The overcomer is adopted into the family of God, and God treats Him as a son exactly as He does His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars,
-All of this corresponds with the “…works of the flesh…” as outlined in Galatians 5:19-21.
shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
-proclaims the eternal destiny of the Christ-rejecters
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.
-By use of the word “Lamb,” we are taken back to The Cross which has made all of this possible.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain,
-The “Spirit” referred to here is The Holy Spirit.
and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
-John saw it “descending” meaning that it is coming down to earth. This will be after The Lord has made the “…new heaven and a new earth:…”in fact, when God changes His headquarters from Heaven to earth.
11 Having the glory of God:
-This is what makes the city what it is.
and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
-presents the radiance of God’s glory
The Holy City
12 And had a wall great and high,
-This wall is 216 feet high counting 18 inches to the cubit. It is decorative only.
and had twelve gates,
-signifies three gates on the north, three on the south, three on the east, and three on the west. The gates on each side will be about 375 miles apart from each other.
and at the gates twelve angels,
-proclaims the glory of the city and as well the glory of God’s government
and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
-proclaims the fact that “the Lamb’s wife” is made up of every single believer whether on this side or the other side of The Cross. Every gate will have the name of one of the twelve tribes. As well, this tells us how precious Israel is to the heart of God.
13 On the east three gates;
-will probably have the names Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan
on the north three gates;
-will probably have the names Ruben, Judah, and Levi
on the south three gates;
-will probably have the names Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun
and on the west three gates.
-will probably have the names Gad, Asher, and Naphtali
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,
-The way of salvation was shown to the Jews, hence the gates and names of the twelve tribes inscribed on those gates. However, the foundation of salvation was not readily given until after The Cross because it could not be given until after The Cross.
and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
-On each foundation is the name of one of the twelve apostles. The foundation of the Salvation message is based 100% on Christ and The Cross. Hence the word “Lamb” being used.
15 And he that talked with me
-This is not the angel who talked with John in verse 9. The one now speaking identifies himself as a prophet (Revelation 22:9).
had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
-Measuring is done for a reason. It reveals the perfection, fulfillment, and completion of all God’s purposes for His redeemed people.
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.
-translates into about 1,500 miles per side
The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
-This presents astounding dimensions. It is about ½ the size of the United States regarding length and breadth. If that’s not enough to take one’s breath away, it will also be 1,500 miles high. The mind cannot comprehend this, but faith believes.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits,
-translates into about 216 feet. That is, if we are using 18 inches to the cubit. As we mentioned, the wall is strictly ornamental.
according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
-The designation of “angel” is sometimes given to men, God, and the creatures we refer to as angels. This man, as Revelation 22:9 proclaims, is a prophet, so we know angels can’t be prophets.
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper:
-presents a precious stone of several colors
and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
-takes us beyond the imagination, beyond comprehension, but yet, it is literal
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.
-describes beauty upon beauty
The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
-The flooding of color in that incomparable city is beyond imagination. All of these stones named here are exquisite in color.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls;
-probably means each gate, which is about 216 feet tall, is made of untold thousands of pearls
every several gate was of one pearl:
-seems to indicate that this particular gate, which is probably every third or fourth one, is made out of one gigantic pearl
and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
-refers to the fact that not only are all the buildings are of “pure gold” (Revelation 21:18), but even the streets are made of pure gold
22 And I saw no temple therein:
-refers to a temple such as in Old Testament times. There is actually a literal temple in the New Jerusalem, but it will not serve the same purpose as the temple on earth (Revelation 3:12; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15,17; 15:1-8; 16:1,17).
for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
-Before The Cross, the temple on earth was necessary because God could not dwell with men at that time, at least directly. Since The Cross, The Holy Spirit can dwell within man because the terrible sin debt has been paid. (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16)
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it:
-proclaims the fact that The Creator is not in need of His creation. God has need of nothing, but we all have need of God.
for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
-The word “Lamb” signifies that all of this is made possible for believers because of what Christ did at The Cross.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it:
-should have been translated “and the nations shall walk by means of its light.” The words “…of them which are saved…” are not actually in the best manuscripts. In fact, there will be no one in the world in that day who is not saved.
and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
-This refers to leaders of nations, whatever they might be called at that particular time. All will give glory to God, and all will honor The Lord and do so forever.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day:
-in fact, they will never be shut
for there shall be no night there.
-This speaks of the city only. For, outside the city, there will be day and night eternally (Genesis 1:14-18; 8:22; Psalms 89:2-3; Jeremiah 31:35-36)
26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
-proclaims a righteous commerce and in every capacity
27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie:
-This means that all sin is forever banished and will never return. Glory to God!
but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
-refers to the book of the redeemed. The word “Lamb” refers to the fact that all are saved by placing their faith and trust in Christ and what He did for us at The Cross.
Scripture is in BLACK FONT
Words of Jesus in RED FONT
Notes in BLUE FONT
The Book of Revelation