An earth which no longer smarts and smokes under the curse of sin,—an earth which needs no more to be torn with hooks and irons to make it yield its fruits,—an earth where thorns and thistles no longer infest the ground, nor serpents hiss among the flowers, nor savage beasts lay in ambush to devour,—an earth whose sod is never cut with graves, whose soil is never moistened with tears or saturated with human blood, whose fields are never blasted with unpropitious seasons, whose atmosphere never gives wings to the seeds of plague and death, whose ways are never lined with funeral processions, or blocked up with armed men on their way to war,—an earth whose hills ever flow with salvation, and whose valleys know only the sweetness of Jehovah’s smiles,—an earth from end to end, and from centre to utmost verge, clothed with the eternal blessedness of Paradise Restored!4The restorative work prior to the Millennial Kingdom was a regeneration (Mat. 19:28), not an entirely new created order as here. This is demonstrated by the fact that after the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6+), the earth and sea still contained all the unsaved dead of history. Although the millennial earth was renovated in order to recover from the judgments of the Tribulation and to restore Eden-like conditions, sin and death remained and the earth, in one sense, remained unclean. In the conflagration of the first heaven and earth, sin and death are completely purged from the created order (Rev. 20:14+).It was revealed to the OT prophets that the first heavens and earth would perish (Ps. 102:25-26; Isa. 51:6) and be replaced by a new heavens and earth:
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. (Isa. 65:17-20)As we mentioned, the visions of the OT prophets often intermingled elements from both the Millennial Kingdom and the eternal state—the different elements sometimes being presented out of their chronological sequence. Isaiah saw the new heavens and earth, but went on to describe a blessed time which includes death and sin. These latter characteristics are incompatible with the eternal state:
Isaiah’s vision, while glimpsing the Kingdom age, the last ordered age in time, is projected into eternity. He saw the Millennium merging into the final state of bliss and having an everlasting feature to it, according to the Davidic Covenant (2S. 7:13, 16). So the prophecy employs language that although applicable to a degree to millennial conditions, will be fully realized on the regenerated earth, which will follow upon the postmillennial renovation by fire (2Pe. 3:10-13; Rev. 21:1+; cf. Heb. 12:26-28).5
The prophets sometimes saw future events not only together; but in expanding their description of these events, they seem occasionally to reverse the time sequence in their record of the vision. An example of this may be seen in Isa. 65:17-25 . . . It is apparent, therefore, that Isaiah saw together on the screen of prophecy both the Millennial Kingdom and the Eternal Kingdom; but he expands in detail the former because it is the “nearest coming” event and leaves the latter for fuller description in a later New Testament revelation [Rev. 21:1-8+].6Some interpreters, insisting upon a strict chronological order for Isaiah’s vision, mistake the creation described as the regeneration of the earth prior to the Millennial Kingdom:
Most interpreters understand the new heaven and new earth to be postmillennial, as this description succeeds the account of the last judgment. It is necessary, however, in interpreting prophecy to take into account all that the rest of the prophets have written. If this is done, it will be seen that the new heaven and new earth are distinctly revealed to be premillennial in the only other passages which contain the prediction (Isa. 65:17-19. 66:22. 2Pe. 3:13). Every student of prophecy knows that there are numerous instances of prophecies given out of their chronological sequence.7No matter whether the interpreter takes the creation described here to be before the Millennium or after, he is forced to accept a reversal in order between prophetic vision and historical chronology in some passage. Either Isaiah’s vision of the new heavens and earth preceding the Millennium is in chronological order or John’s vision of the new heaven and earth following the Millennium is chronological. They cannot both be true. Fortunately, God has not left us to guess at the answer. He has left us a key with which to solve this conundrum: the destruction of death. Since the destruction of the first earth results in all the dead being given up and Death itself cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14+), we can expect that death will be purged before the new earth is created. This is the chronological sequence of John’s vision: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death . . . for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4+). Since Isaiah’s vision included death (Isa. 65:20) after the new creation (Isa. 65:17), it cannot be in chronological order. Nor does it describe a renovation prior to the Millennial Kingdom:
But one objection may be made to the supposition, that the prophet is here depicting the state of things in the millennium; viz., that this description is preceded by an account of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. The prophet appears, therefore, to refer to that Jerusalem, which is represented in the Apocalypse as coming down from heaven to earth after the transformation of the globe. But to this it may be replied, that the Old Testament prophet was not yet able to distinguish from one another the things which the author of the Apocalypse separates into distinct periods. From the Old Testament point of view generally, nothing was known of a state of blessedness beyond the grave. Hades lay beyond this present life; and nothing was known of a heaven in which men were blessed. Around the throne of God in heaven there were angels and not men. And, indeed, until the risen Saviour ascended to heaven, heaven itself was not open to men, and therefore there was no heavenly Jerusalem whose descent to earth could be anticipated then. Consequently in the prophecies of the Old Testament the eschatological idea of the new Cosmos does unquestionably coincide with the millennium. It is only in the New Testament that the new creation intervenes as a party-wall between this life and the life beyond; whereas the Old Testament prophecy brings down the new creation itself into the present life, and knows nothing of any Jerusalem of the blessed life to come, as distinct from the new Jerusalem of the millennium.8We see the same mix of revelation concerning the Millennium and the eternal state in another passage in Isaiah which mentions the new heavens and earth:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the LORD, “So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD. “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isa. 66:22-24)There is nothing in this passage of Isaiah which states that the new heavens and earth must precede the Millennium. It merely states that as the new creation will endure before God, so shall the faithful of Israel continue.the first heaven and the first earth had passed away
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2Pe. 3:10-13) [emphasis added]Here is another evidence that Peter cannot be describing the renovation preceding the Millennial Kingdom. Peter informs us that the new heavens and new earth will be characterized by true righteousness. Unlike the millennial earth, there will be no sin or death.With the passing of the first heaven and earth, we find fulfillment of Jesus’ predictions concerning the permanence of God’s word:
For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Mat. 5:18 cf. Luke 16:17)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Mat. 24:35 cf. Mark 13:30; Luke 21:33)The purpose of God, as set forth by His written word, extends not just beyond this life, but beyond this entire created order. His words are more certain than the physical reality around us. The temporal nature of this present world is to be a powerful motivator for the Christian to invest in heavenly priorities:
But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. (1Cor. 7:29-31)
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. (2Pe. 3:11-14)no more sea
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Heb. 12:22-24)Again, we meet with the tendency of many interpreters to take the description of the city as being symbolic of some deep spiritual truth rather than the description of a literal city which God has prepared as the ultimate dwelling place for the faithful in their glorified existence beyond this life (John 14:2-3). One danger of taking the description of the New Jerusalem as symbolism is the flexibility it affords for molding its meaning in accord with the desire of the interpreter. Symbolic interpretation has often been a useful tool of cults:
A symbolical New Jerusalem is crucial to at least three major cults—Christian Science, Mormonism, and the Swedenborgians. Christian Science symbolizes almost every detail of the New Jerusalem in order to fit it into the cult’s teachings. . . . Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, attempted to establish the symbolized New Jerusalem (“Zion”) in the State of Missouri. . . . The Swedenborgians . . . call themselves the Church of the New Jerusalem. Founder Swedenborg wrote voluminously, and his commentary on the book of Revelation [states] . . . “By the twelve thousand furlongs [in Rev. 21:16+] are signified all the goods and truths of that church.”11In order to prevent interpreters from waxing allegorical in their approach to the New Jerusalem, John is given a tour of the city by an angel who carefully measures its physical dimensions. The scene is reminiscent of the passage in Ezekiel where an angel (“man”) shows Ezekiel the Millennial Temple and provides detailed measurements concerning its physical layout (Eze. 40:3 ff). In both Ezekiel and here, the prophets behold structures vastly different than anything in history. Because of this, many are reluctant to take the details in a literal fashion and reduce the passages to teaching general spiritual principles.
These dimensions [of the city] should not be interpreted as providing architectural information about the city. Rather, we should think of them as theologically symbolic of the fulfillment of all God’s promises.12One can wonder only how 12,000 stadia (Rev. 21:16+) and 144 cubits (Rev. 21:17+) could convey great “spiritual truths” or “theological insights!” If this were true, we should thank God that He chose not to give us truly important information, such as the requirements of salvation, in similar “theological symbolism” as these interpreters assume to be His mode of communication here! They are at a loss to explain the meaning of the details and why God would indicate that measurements be taken of immaterial objects. Those bold enough to hazard a guess at the symbolical meaning of the measurements have little agreement as to the insights of great magnitude and import which they purportedly represent. As is always the case with symbolic interpretation, the meaning of the text is rendered unknowable.
Unwilling to take the language of Scripture at face value, many seek for some hidden meaning behind John’s description. But if the words do not mean what they say, who has the authority to say what they do mean? Abandoning the literal meaning of the text leads only to baseless, groundless, futile speculation.13If God gave these two chapters in symbolic form, then we dare say that man should not be held responsible for understanding their contents, for they mean whatever an interpreter wants them to mean! Instead, we believe the measurements are literal and the act of measuring is intended to indicate the physical reality of what is presented in the vision. Thus, the description of the New Jerusalem concerns a real, physical city. Tan identifies numerous reasons for taking the city literally:
First, . . . all the elements of an actual city—dimensions, foundations, walls, gates, streets—are indicated. . . . Second, although the apostle John sees this prophecy in a vision, he certainly does not resort to imagination nor indulge in exaggeration. . . . The fact that John records non-earthly things such as gate-sized pearls proves that he does not altar the form of the prophecy for the sake of reader comprehension. Third, . . . In the account of the New Jerusalem . . . the same angel [who identified the Harlot of Rev. 17+ as a symbol ( Rev. 17:18+ )] offers not a word or clue regarding its possible symbolism. Fourth, in the account of the New Jerusalem, the inhabitants of the city are differentiated from the city itself. If the New Jerusalem symbolizes the church, and its inhabitants are church members, how could the church separate from itself. Fifth, the patriarch Abraham . . . “looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). Moreover, the early Hebrew Christians were assured of their positional rights “unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). And our Lord promises the disciples, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:3). This hope of a city promised to so many people down the ages surely cannot be a symbol. Sixth, an actual, material city in eternity is proper and logical because of the constitution of the redeemed who will be in resurrected bodies throughout eternity. A resurrected body without any material point of reference would be highly unsatisfactory. Seventh, . . . a literal, material New Jerusalem . . . comes naturally and logically to the thinking of most uncritical laymen.14We believe the approach which God intends is literal interpretation with spiritual application: every detail is to be taken literally, but also provides symbolism for spiritual learning, meditation, and application. See Interpreting Symbols.coming down
In My Father’s house are many mansions [dwelling places]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3) [emphasis added]
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Heb. 11:8-10) [emphasis added]Bride is νύμφην [nymphēn] , “a young woman engaged.”15 “It can also be the newly married woman.”16 In Revelation 19:7+, bride is γυνὴ [gynē] , meaning “woman.” There, her status as a bride was derived from the context. The two terms are made equivalent in Revelation 21:9+ where John is shown “the bride, the Lamb’s wife”: τὴν νύμφην τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀρνῖου [tēn nymphēn tēn gynaika tou arniou] , the bride, the woman of the Lamb.At the time of the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7+), the OT saints had not yet been raised (Dan. 12:2+; Isa. 26:19) and the earthly Jerusalem suffered under the trampling of the Gentiles (Rev. 11:2+). In the previous chapter, during the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6+), all the saints had been raised and the earthly Jerusalem restored in glory for one thousand years. Then the first heaven and earth passed away and a new order was created. The NT teaching of the Church Betrothed to Christ, the Lamb’s wife at the marriage (Rev. 19:7+), is now joined with the OT passages which indicate that Israel is married to Jehovah and Jerusalem is married to God. The New Jerusalem represents the ultimate consummation of the varied wedding motifs where all the people of God inhabit a city enjoying intimate communion with God face-to-face (Rev. 22:4+).
Without the saints, whose home and residence it is, it would not be the Lamb’s Wife; and yet it is the Lamb’s Wife in a sense which does not exclude the foundations, walls, gates, streets and constructions which contribute to make it a city. Mere edifices and avenues do not make a city; neither does a mere congregation or multitude of people make a city. You cannot have a living city without people to inhabit it and you cannot have a city without the edifices and avenues arranged in some fixed shape for the accommodation of those who make up its population. It is the two together, and the order in which the parts are severally disposed, the animate with the inanimate, which constitute a city.17adorned for her husband
Such an unveiled view of God is impossible for mortal men. No living person has ever seen God in the fullness of His glory (John 1:18; 6:46; 1Jn. 4:12); He is invisible (Col. 1:15; 1Ti. 1.17) and “dwells in unapproachable light” (1Ti. 6:16; cf. Ps. 104:2), exposure to which would mean instant death for any living person (Ex. 33:20). But in heaven, “the pure in heart . . . shall see God” (Mat. 5:8), since they will be perfectly holy.21He will dwell with them and they shall be His people.
For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart. (Jer. 24:6-7) [emphasis added]
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. (Jer. 31:33-34) [emphasis added]During that time, God’s sanctuary had been in the midst of Israel (Eze. 37:24) within the Millennial Temple. Now, in the New Jerusalem, God is the Temple—the entire city is as the holy of holies of all previous temples. In the past, both Israel (Hos. 1:10; Rom. 9:26) and the Gentiles (Zec. 2:10-11) were “not his people.” In the eternal state, all the redeemed are His.
Around our churches lie our graveyards, and all the highways are lined with cemeteries and depositories of the dead. We can scarcely open our eyes without seeing the gloomy hearse, the funeral procession, the undertaker’s warehouse, the shop full of mourning goods, or the stonecutter chiselling epitaphs. Every newspaper we pick up has its obituary lists, and every week brings forth its bills of mortality. On the right hand, on the left hand, before us, behind us, around us, beneath us, in all seasons, in all climes, everywhere is death. . . . The time will come with death itself shall die; not by the power of man, not by mortal skill or earthly medicines, but by the great redemption of God.24Now the curse which brought death is done away with in entirety and, with it, death (Rev. 22:3+ cf. Gen. 3:19). See commentary on Revelation 21:24.nor sorrow, nor crying
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isa. 35:10)former things have passed away
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1Jn. 2:15-17)
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Rom. 8:19-23)The redemption set forth in the book of Revelation is much broader than the individual redemption of sinful men. It extends to the redemption of the earth and even the entire creation. See commentary on Revelation 5:1.Like the new birth, the new creation is a work of God: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2Cor. 5:17).Write, for these words are true and faithful
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:10-14)Those coming out of the Great Tribulation were led by the Lamb to living fountains of waters (Rev. 7:14+). During the Millennial Kingdom, living water flowed from the Millennial Temple (Eze. 47:1, 8-9; Joel 3:18; Zec. 14:8). A pure river of water of life flows from the throne of God and the Lamb in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:1+). The final invitation given by the Spirit and the bride in the book of Revelation is to take the water of life freely (Rev. 22:17+).Because redemption is infinitely costly, only God could pay the price. The price was the death of God in the person of the Son of God (Rev. 1:18+). It was the Lamb who redeemed (ἀγοράζω [agorazō] , purchased) sinners from among men by His blood (Rev. 1:5+; 5:9+). Since the price has already been paid in full (John 19:30), no man can add to the finished work. To even suggest such a possibility is to devalue the life of the Son of God and declare His purchase inadequate. The joyous result of God’s work is that eternal life, which would otherwise be infinitely expensive, is now available simply for the asking:
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isa. 55:1)This is the essential difference between religion and relationship. Religion looks to find, in the puny self effort of man, something of value to present before God by which man may be justified. Relationship sees man’s utter incapability and throws itself upon the grace and mercy of God, accepting that which God has already provided as a remedy. Self-righteousness, which is no real righteousness, is the primary stumbling block leading to God for it recoils at the idea that restoration to God is completely without cost:
Independent, rebellious man says the opposite—“Something in my hand I bring.” This is the one thing common to all systems of religion. They quarrel and fight to the death over the question as to what that “Something” is to be: but they are all at one agreement that it must be something. and as the weary conflict has gone on, and will continue to the end.26If this gift is free, without cost, how can it be that so many refuse to accept it? The answer is found in their lack of thirst. It is free for him who thirsts! Do you know the Lamb as your redeemer? Are you thirsty for this water which will become a fountain in you springing up into everlasting life? It is available for the asking to all who come to Him in humility and need.
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. (Eph. 1:11-12)Not only is the inheritance bountiful beyond measure, it is also incorruptible. In this world we may lose our job, our savings, our home, our health, and our loved ones, but our inheritance in God is beyond the reach of disaster and loss:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. (1Pe. 1:3-4)The MT and NU texts have “these [things]” instead of “all things”.I will be his God and he shall be My son
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John. 1:12-13)Being born of the Spirit, the overcomer has the Spirit of adoption Who identifies him as a son and therefore an heir:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom. 8:14-17)
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Gal. 4:6-7)
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1Jn. 3:1-2)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. (Eph. 1:3-5)The relationship between the overcomer and God is to be one of intimacy, modeled after that of the Son and the Father (John 1:1; 17:5). See commentary on Revelation 20:3.
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)
He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. (1Jn. 5:10)There are no unbelieving among the overcomers: “And this is the victory which has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1Jn. 5:4b-5).abominable
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. (Eph. 5:5-7)
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (1Ti. 1:8-10)Those described by this list are ones who continued in these activities without repentance. In writing to the church at Corinth, Paul emphasizes the forgiveness which remains available for the godless in this age of grace, if they would but turn to God in faith and be cleansed of their sin:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1Cor. 6:9-11) [emphasis added]the lake which burns with fire
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (Eph. 5:25-27)
This wall doubtless was a memorial to God’s protection of His people throughout their long history. The New Testament saints would well remember how their lives were “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3;3). Now, the wall does not need to serve as a means of protection for God Himself dwells in the city. This is further proven by the fact that each of the four walls of the city has three gateways which never will be shut.38with twelve gates
It is significant that John brings together the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles here, and makes a distinction between them. Jesus did the same earlier (Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:30). This distinction shows the wrongness of identifying the twelve tribes in Rev. 7:4-8+ with the church.41Even though the twelve apostles were all Jewish, and therefore physical descendants of Jacob, their names are distinguished from the twelve tribes. This reflects the reality that the Church did not exist prior to the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit first began His baptizing work forming the body of Christ (Mat. 16:18; Acts 1:5). Although the apostles are all Jewish and will rule over the twelve tribes (Mat. 19:28), their greater affinity is as members of the Church.Once more we see the Scriptural declaration that all twelve tribes of Israel are known to God (Rev. 7:4+). None of the tribes are lost. See Ten Tribes Lost?
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Heb. 11:8-10)See Twelve: Jewish Tribes, Completeness.on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb
The city itself is gargantuan; it is a cube of 12,000 stadia (i.e., with sides of 1,380 miles each [depending upon the value taken for 1 stadia]). Now, the base of the city is staggering enough, for its area is 63% of that of the forty-eight contiguous states of the USA, yet it is 1,380 miles high as well. Now, as we are given no details, we cannot say what significance the height has, but by way of comparison, this city would only need 102 levels to equal the surface area of the earth, i.e., the combined areas of the oceans and the land masses (this last figure would require each level to be separated by 70,000 feet, considerably higher than commercial jet airplanes operate in 1998). These hypothetical 102 levels would have a combined area 340% larger than the total land area, deserts and vast frozen wastes included, of the present earth. The point of all this comparison is to emphasize that the city God describes is actually many times more commodious than the earth we know.46Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. (Isa. 54:11-12)There is some uncertainty as to the relationship between the names of the stones in the original languages (Greek and Hebrew) versus our modern equivalents. The interested reader is encouraged to refer to more extensive treatments concerning their identity in recommended reference works.50
On the outside of the breastplate and placed in gold settings were twelve precious stones in four rows of three stones each. On each of the stones was inscribed the name of one of the tribes of Israel, presumably in the order of their births, as was the case with the onyx stones on the shoulders (Ex. 28:10). The order and names of the stones are listed in Exodus 28:17-20.51A survey of various Bible translations(ASV,52 DBY,53 ESV,54 KJV,55 MKJV,56 NASB95,57 NET,58 NIV,59 NKJV,60 NRSV,61 TNK,62 YLT63 ) indicates some uncertainty surrounding the identification of several of the stones associated with the twelve tribes as found in the high priest’s breastplate.
|Birth Order||Tribe||Majority Stone64||Alternate Stones|
Eight of the stones are the same as in the breastplate, with the four remaining ones being words that are unused in the LXX: χαλκηδῶν [chalkēdōn] , χρυσόπρασος [chrysoprasos] , ὑάκινθος [huakinthos] , σαρδόνυξ [sardonyx] (Swete). The symbolism is rich in meaning. The old covenant confined the privilege of direct fellowship with God to the high priest, but in the new city the privilege will belong to all the people of God (cf. Rev. 21:22+) (Moffatt). A difference in the order of the stones’ listing in the two situations is not a serious problem for this view.65
There seems no way, however, of identifying the stone that corresponds to each apostle. Similarly, there is no apparent correlation with the order of the precious stones in the priestly breastplate (Exodus 28:17-20) or the stones in the heavenly garden (Ezekiel 28:13), although a number of the stones are the same in both instances. . . . No particular patterns or reasons for the particular sequence seem discernible at this time.66What we can be sure of is that God will have chosen the foundation stones to achieve a visually stunning result! It may well be that the stones are chosen more for visual effect than any relationship to the stones on the breastplate of the high priest:
A close study of the colors of these precious stones will bring to mind the colors of the rainbow, and how God used the rainbow as a promise to Noah that he would never again destroy the earth by water (Gen. 9:12-17).67
Each foundation will be composed of different precious stones with its own dominant color. They can be delineated as follows: 1. Jasper—green; 2. Sapphire—blue; 3. Chalcedony—greenish; 4. Emerald—green; 5. Sardonyx—red and white; 6. Sardius—fiery red; 7. Chrysolite—golden yellow; 8. Beryl—aqua green; 9. Topaz—greenish yellow; 10. Chrysoprase—golden green; 11. Jacinth—violet; 12. Amethyst—purple.68
The form of expression would not make impossible the existence of the sun and the moon, as this scripture merely says there is no need of them.70
Neither the sun nor the moon will ever really be destroyed, of course, since God has promised that they, as well as all the starry heavens, will endure forever (Psalm 148:3-6; Daniel 12:3+). It is just that their light is no longer needed to illumine the holy city, for the city itself radiates light to all the surrounding regions (Rev. 21:24+). However, the sun and moon will continue to serve their present functions with respect to the nether regions of the earth, serving there as lights by day and night, respectively.71It is difficult to be dogmatic as to whether the sun and moon will necessarily exist in the eternal state. It may be that there is no sun and moon, as in the early part of creation week.72 “The city will be bright enough to supply illumination for the whole new creation (Alford, Lee).”73 God created light on the first day (Gen. 1:3), but the sun and moon were not created until the fourth day (Gen. 1:14):
On the fourth day the luminaries were made; because God, who possesses foreknowledge, knew the follies of the vain philosophers, that they were going to say, that the things which grow on the earth are produced from the heavenly bodies, so as to exclude God. In order, therefore, that the truth might be obvious, the plants and seeds were produced prior to the heavenly bodies, for what is posterior cannot produce that which is prior.—Theophilus of Antioch74Here we see one of the primary characteristics of the eternal state: it stands as the restoration of many things from the early creation. See Genesis and Revelation as Bookends.Several passages use the sun and moon as witnesses of eternal promises:
Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): “If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD: “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD.” (Jer. 31:35-37) [emphasis added]
“Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, even [like] the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah. (Ps. 89:35-37) [emphasis added]These passages tie God’s faithfulness in promises regarding Israel and the Davidic throne to the continuance of the sun and moon: “It shall be established forever like the moon.” Whether these promises are meant to extend only to the end of the present order (Rev. 21:1+) or beyond into the eternal order is difficult to determine. The specifics of these promises may no longer pertain after the Millennial Kingdom, once Israel’s promises have been fulfilled and the Lamb’s Davidic throne is merged with the Father’s throne (Rev. 22:3+). The reliance of these promises on the sun and moon may infer their continued existence in the eternal state.Another piece of evidence which points to the continuance of the moon in the eternal state is the tree of life. The tree is said to yield its fruit every month (Rev. 22:2+). Month is μῆνα [mēna] : “using the moon’s cycle as a measure of time month (Luke 1:24); in reference to religious festivals held at the time of the new moon new moon (Gal. 4:10).”75 Mention of a monthly cycle implies that the moon may still be present and continue to serve for “signs and seasons” (Gen. 1:14). The existence of the moon for calendrical reasons would imply the continuance of the sun as well, since the moon reflects the light of the sun.the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. (Isa. 60:19-20)Similarly, the glory of the Lord illuminated the holy of holies within the original Tabernacle:
The dwelling-place of God’s glory in the Tabernacle and the Temple on earth had no light of sun or moon; for the Shechinah or glory of God was sufficient.76What has happened? Man has been brought fully into the holy of holies which is lit only by God’s glory! Again, we see the emphasis on the communion of man with a holy God. There is no longer any separation of any sort because sin has been completely done away with. This is why there was still a Millennial Temple during the thousand years, but not Temple building in the New Jerusalem. In the Millennium, sin still existed (Isa. 65:20; Rev. 20:7-10+).In our own day, the Lamb serves as the spiritual light bringing revelation to men (Luke 2:32; John 1:4-5; 8:12). “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1Jn. 1:5). God’s glory had been seen in the millennial Jerusalem, but the New Jerusalem will eclipse everything from the previous order:
Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isa. 60:1-3)
Those nations, during the Millennium, that walk in the Divine light of the earthly Jerusalem, are transferred to the new earth, to walk in the Heavenly light of the New Jerusalem.77
Is there any way, however, that these could be nations of people still in a natural state (say, like Adam and Eve before the fall) continuing over from the millennium? . . . Admittedly, however, the Scriptures do not deal with this particular subject directly . . . one must certainly be tentative on this point, that this particular group of saints, some from each millennial nation, may have been (like Enoch and Elijah long before) translated to the heavenly Jerusalem still in the flesh. In such a hypothetical situation, they would then be in that state in the city when it descended to the earth. . . . This interpretation of this text, doubtful and fraught with difficulties though it may be, would help in answering certain other questions.78
I . . . hold it to be a necessary and integral part of the Scriptural doctrine of human redemption, that our race, as a self-multiplying order of beings, will never cease either to exist or to possess the earth. . . . Ransomed nations in the flesh are therefore among the occupants of the new earth, and the blessed and happy dwellers in it, as Adam and Eve dwelt in Paradise.79
This is an issue on which the text of Revelation is silent, but there is one . . . theory which seems to satisfy the available criteria best. . . . This opinion holds that “the nations” are composed of saved people who survive the millennial kingdom without dying and without joining Satan’s rebellion and who undergo some sort of transformation that suits them for life in the eternal state. They will be like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall (cf. Govett, Seiss). They will be unresurrected human beings who will inhabit the new earth, Paradise restored (Rev. 22:1-5+), throughout eternity.80
Shall not God then during the “Renovation of the Earth by Fire,” in some manner, not as yet revealed, take off righteous representatives of the Millennial nations that he purposes to save, and when the earth is again fit to be the abode of men, place them back on the New Earth, that they may increase and multiply and replenish it, as Adam (Gen. 1:27-28), and Noah (Gen. 9:1), were told to multiply and replenish the present earth.81This surprising suggestion is not without complications. See commentary on Revelation 22:2.
The city itself will radiate light as bright as daylight, so night will ever come, even when the earth’s rotation carries the city away from the sun.83Of course, we are in speculative territory supposing that the new earth is much like today: a sphere which rotates subject to physics as we know it today. The text tells us the barest minimum concerning many aspects of the new heaven and earth. They may be radically different from that which we assume from our experience today.
1 See Millennial Passages where we discuss keys to identifying millennial passages from those which describe the eternal state.
2 There may also be that there is no more sun and moon (see commentary on Revelation 21:23).
3 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 394.
4 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 487-488.
5 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Isa. 65:17-25.
6 Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 138.
7 Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), Rev. 21:1.
8 Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 7:624-625.
9 “Water, for example, was used for cleansing—hence, the laver in the tabernacle and the sea in the temple. There is no more need for cleansing in the new earth, however.”—Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 15:3.
10 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 212.
11 Paul Lee Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy (Dallas, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1993), 288-289.
12 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 200.
13 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 21:12.
14 Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy, 289-292.
15 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 273.
16 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 545.
17 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 496.
18 W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, IL: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), G2885.
19 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 21:3.
20 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 754.
21 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 21:3.
22 “A noticeable change from the singular to the plural λαοί [laoi] , ‘peoples,’ makes an expansion beyond the boundaries of Israel, usually referred to by the singular λαός [laos] , ‘people.’ ”—Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 21:3.
23 Enoch, Elijah, translated saints at the Rapture.
24 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 489-490.
25 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 210.
26 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 22:5.
27 He is the eternal Son of God—even before the incarnation.
28 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 173.
29 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 105.
30 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 138.
31 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 89.
32 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 693.
33 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 397.
34 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 221.
35 [Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.)], [Arno C. Gaebelein, The Revelation (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1961)].
36 It is analogous to the way in which Genesis 2 expands upon the creation of man on day six of Genesis 1.
37 The devil took Christ up on an exceedingly high mountain to show Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (Mat. 4:8).
38 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), Rev. 21:12.
39 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 729.
40 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), Rev. 21:14.
41 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 21:14.
42 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 515.
43 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 213.
44 Trent C. Butler, Chad Brand, Charles Draper, and Archie England, eds., Broadman and Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2003), 1666.
45 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 21:16.
46 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 21:16.
47 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 312.
48 So [MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary], [Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John], [Morris, The Revelation Record].
49 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 388.
50 [Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979, 1915)], [Butler, Broadman and Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary], [Merrill Frederick Unger, R. K. Harrison, Frederic F Vos, and Cyril J. Barber, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1988)], [Ronald F. Youngblood and R. K. Harrison, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995)], and [David Noel Freeman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1996, c1992)].
51 William Varner, Jacob’s Dozen: A Prophetic Look at the Tribes of Israel (Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1987), s.v. “The Ephod and the Breastplate.”
52 American Standard Version.
53 Darby’s Translation.
54 English Standard Version.
55 King James Version.
56 Modern King James Version.
57 New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update.
58 New Electronic Translation : NET Bible, electronic edition (Dallas, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 1998).
59 New International Version.
60 New King James Version.
61 New Revised Standard Version.
62 Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1997, c1985).
63 Young’s Literal Translation.
64 Unless listed under the Alternate Stones column, each of the Bible translations listed above give the majority identification.
65 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 21:19.
66 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 21:18.
67 Barnhouse, Revelation, 407.
68 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 537.
69 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 269.
70 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), Rev. 21:23.
71 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 21:23.
72 “Sun and moon, the luminaries of the first creation (Gen. 1:14) have no place in the second; cf. Isa. 60:19.”—Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998, 1906), Rev. 21:23.
73 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 21:23.
74 Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. II (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), s.v. “ECF 184.108.40.206.2.13.”
75 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 262.
76 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 21:23.
77 Ibid., 668.
78 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 21:24.
79 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 483, 492.
80 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 21:24.
81 Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation (Glenside, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, 1919), Rev. 21:24.
82 “The existence of darkness was another result of the curse on the earth at Satan’s fall (Gen. 1:2). During the six days of creation, there was only a partial removal of the darkness (the sun by day) and the night (the moon and the stars provided limited light) that existed. But in the Eternal Order, since all the effects of sin are to be removed forever, there will be no night.”—Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 538.
83 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 21:25.