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Bible: What Does Revelation 21 Teach Us About the New Jerusalem?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Apostle John


The New Jerusalem


The New Heavens and New Earth: Renovated or Recreated?

Will God merely renovate the old Earth and heavens, or will He create them completely new?

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"Pearly" Gates

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The New Jerusalem or the Lake of Fire?


Revelation 21: The New Jerusalem Descends to the Earth

The Apostle Peter foretold that “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and the works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10).

Likewise, the Apostle John records that he “saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (v. 1a).

[Will God create this new Earth “from scratch,” or will He merely renovate the old Earth?

The language of Peter strongly suggests the former.]

John also notes that the new Earth had no sea (v. 1b).

[That the new creation is one large landmass intrigues the apostle enough for him to mention this fact.]

The Bride of Christ

At this point, the apostle observes the New Jerusalem descending from “heaven” (perhaps from outer space where it had been suspended as a satellite during the millennium); Christ has fulfilled His promise to prepare a beautiful place where His people would dwell eternally (v. 2; cf. Jn. 14:2).

Another voice from heaven announces that both the tabernacle of God (Jesus, or the New Jerusalem?) and God Himself will be with His people, and He will dwell with them in perfect conditions: no crying, no death, no sorrow, no pain.

The past is gone forever (vv. 3-4). The Father declares to John that he should write these true and faithful words: “Behold, I make all things new” (v. 5).

[Is this the first time that the Father speaks directly to John and not through an interpreting angel?]

Proclaiming Himself the eternal God, He promises to share His life (“the fountain of the water of life”) with everyone who thirsts; God will make co-heirs with His Son all those who overcome (commit themselves to Christ, cf. 1 Jn. 5:5), and will regard them as mature sons (vv. 6-7).

However, those who practice various evil ways will burn in the lake of fire and sulphur; they will experience the “second death” (v. 8).

One of the bowl judgment angels now approaches John to show him “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (v. 9).

One would expect a description of the Church to follow, since she is the bride of Christ (cf. Eph. 5:25-27, 32; Rev. 19:7); instead, the angel transports John to a high vantage point from which he shows the apostle the New Jerusalem descending from outer space (v. 10).

[Christ has so united the Church to her eternal abode that when one speaks of the bride, one may well mean both the city and its inhabitants.]

God’s glory illumines the city’s transparent substance (v. 11).

The New Jerusalem has a wall one hundred forty-four cubits high (@ 216 feet) with twelve “pearly gates”: each having its own personal angel standing there, each having the name of one of the children of Israel written on it, and each situated at one of the points of the compass (vv. 12-13, 17, 21a).

Constructed of a clear substance, the wall itself has twelve foundations, each one inscribed with the name of an apostle (vv. 14, 18a) and each one made of a different-colored precious stone (vv. 19-20).

John’s interpreting angel carries a goldenrod, an instrument with which he intended to measure the city, the gates, and the wall (v. 15; cf. Ezekiel 40).

Made of pure, transparent gold, the city itself stands one thousand three hundred eighty miles high; its length and width extend by the same dimensions (vv. 16, 18b).

Likewise, its streets are composed of gold (v. 21b).

Unlike the “heaven” from which the previous action in the book proceeded, the New Jerusalem has no temple; the omnipotent Father and the Lamb take its place (v. 22).

[People will worship within the “environment” of the Godhead.]

God’s glory, the Lamb’s light, illumines the city; the New Jerusalem will not need the lights of the new heavens (v. 23).

Regenerate kings and citizens living during the millennium will enter the city through the eternally opened gates, and bring their glory and honor with them (vv. 24-26).

Only those whose names God has written eternally in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter therein; the Lord will permit nothing unholy or unclean to come inside (v. 27).

© 2013 glynch1


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