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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 21

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-27


The Holy City

The enemies of the Lamb have been conquered. The Judgment is over. The old condition of things has passed away: cp. Revelation 20:11. Now St. John sees in a vision the blissful glory of heaven, in which the Lamb's redeemed people will dwell for ever.

1-8. The eternal dwelling-place prepared for the redeemed is seen from a distance (Revelation 21:1.), and the voice of God declares what it means (Revelation 21:3-6), and for whom its glories are (Revelation 21:7.).

Three points come out in the description. (1) The Presence of God with the Jew, symbolised by the tabernacle in the wilderness, will now be perfected by His dwelling ('dwell,' lit. 'tabernacle,' Revelation 21:3 cp. John 1:14; RM) with the redeemed of all races ('men,' Revelation 21:3). The 'peoples,' i.e. Gentiles, have become 'His peoples' (Revelation 21:3 RV), and He their Emmanuel ('God.. with them,' Revelation 21:3): cp. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23. He will take from them, and keep from them, all sorrow, pain, and death (cp. Revelation 7:17; Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 65:16.), because these belonged to the first dispensation, while now, (2) all things are new. There is a new heaven, i.e. sky, and a new earth (cp. Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22), from which the sea, emblem of unrest and of separation, has departed (Revelation 21:1); there is a new society, 'new Jerusalem' (Revelation 21:2); and 'all things,' i.e. all ways and thoughts and circumstances of existence, are new: cp. 2 Corinthians 5:17; (Revelation 21:5). The word translated 'new' does not signify 'that which has never existed before,' but 'fresh,' 'that which has not been used or worn'; so it may be taken as meaning 'undimmed,' 'unspoilt.' The term 'new Jerusalem' is used figuratively for the divine society of the redeemed in glory, as 'Jerusalem' represents the society of the redeemed on earth: cp. Revelation 20:9; Galatians 4:26. It is a 'city' in the sense of being an organised community: cp. Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 11:16. The New Jerusalem is compared to a bride (Revelation 21:2-9 contrast Revelation 17:1-5), to denote that the happiness of the redeemed springs from their union with Christ: cp. Isaiah 61:10.; Isaiah 62:1. Matthew 22:3; Matthew 25:10; Luke 12:36; Ephesians 5:25. (3) Those for whom these blessed things are in store: those who thirst for, i.e. intensely desire, God, righteousness, and eternal life, cp. Isaiah 55:1; Matthew 5:6; John 7:37; Romans 2:7; (Revelation 21:6), and who 'overcome' (Revelation 21:7). Thus the chief purpose of the book, in encouraging the tempted and persecuted to overcome by resistance unto death, is maintained to the end. The 'city' is not for those who are too cowardly to endure, who fall from faith and join in heathen abominations (Revelation 21:8).

3. A great voice] i.e. God's. Heaven] RV 'the throne': cp. Revelation 19:5.

4. Former] RV 'first.'

5. He said] i.e. the herald angel. 6. He said] i.e. God. It is done] RV 'They are come to pass'; 'they' = 'these words' (Revelation 21:5).

7. All] RV 'these.'

8. Abominable] i.e. those who join in heathen debaucheries: cp. Revelation 17:4.

Sorcerers] lit. 'poisoners': cp. Revelation 18:23; Revelation 22:15. Galatians 5:20 RV. There was much magic in heathenism, and it dealt in philtres and poisons. The lake] see on Revelation 19:20. Second death] see on Revelation 20:6.

9-27. Further description of the city. St. John has seen the city descending in the distance. Now it is shown him in full view by one of the angels of the bowls (Revelation 21:9.), probably the herald angel: cp. Revelation 17:1, see on Revelation 1:10. The visible cloud of God's glory is in the city (op. Revelation 21:3, Revelation 21:23 Ezekiel 43:2. Hebrews 9:5), and causes her to shine with glory as she descends (Revelation 21:11). Her walls represent her beauty and security, and, with the gates and foundations (cp. Numbers 2; Ezekiel 4:8; Ephesians 2:20), signify also that she is the home of the Church of both OT. and NT. The twelve Apostles are mentioned as a body, so that we need not ask whether the twelfth was Matthias or Paul (Revelation 21:12-14). The city is measured, but as the city is figurative, so are the measurements. All the dimensions are compounded of 12, the number of the OT. and the NT. (cp. Revelation 7:4.), the number which signifies that God is in the midst of His people: see on Revelation 1:12, The city is a cube, which, taken literally, would be monstrous, hut in its symbolical meaning says that the whole city is a sanctuary like the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle (Revelation 21:15-17). The magnificence of the city is figured by the most beautiful and precious things (Revelation 21:18-21). Her spiritual perfection is such that no special sanctuary is needed: cp. John 4:21. There is no one in the city who is not at one with God. All her people are united in His service. Thus 'there is no temple, because the city is all temple' (C. A. Scott) (Revelation 21:22). Earthly light and knowledge, which are imperfect and partial, have vanished in the full light and knowledge of God: cp. Isaiah 60:19; John 8:12; 1 Corinthians 13:9.; (Revelation 21:23). The prophecies of the gathering in of the Gentiles (cp. Isaiah 60:3) are fulfilled (Revelation 21:24), and redeemed humanity worships God within the open gates of the city (cp. Isaiah 60:11) in perpetual light and security (Revelation 21:25.); those only being shut out who are unclean through their separation from God to the service of the devil's agents (Revelation 21:27).

9. Vials] RV 'bowls.' Full of] RV 'Who were laden with.'

10. Spirit] RV 'Spirit': cp. 173. Mountain] cp. Ezekiel 40:2.; Matthew 4:8.

11. Jasper] see on Revelation 4:3.

12. Twelve gates] 'Four is the number which is the symbol of the world, three that of God. Twelve, therefore, is the signature of the covenant people among whom God dwells. The enclosure of the Tabernacle was a square space, three tribes being over against each of the four sides. Thus we have a square with the Tabernacle in the midst, expressive of God in. the midst of His people' (Currey).

15. Cp. Ezekiel 40:3.

17. The wall] i.e. the thickness of the wall: cp. Jeremiah 51:58. The angel] RV 'an angel,' i.e. the angelic cubit was of the same length as a human cubit.

19f. The stones are, with exceptions, the same as those in the high priest's breastplate (cp. Exodus 28:17.; Exodus 39:10.), and those ascribed to the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:13). Flinders Petrie (HDB.) says that precious stones were not so exactly distinguished from one another in ancient days as they are now. 'Jasper' was, according to him, green jasper; the 'sapphire' was our lapis-lazuli; the 'chalcedony' was dioptase (silicate of copper); the 'emerald' should be rock-crystal, cp. Revelation 4:3 note; 'sardonyx' was the red and white onyx; the 'sardius' was red jasper; the 'chrysolite' in St. John's time was the present topaz; the 'beryl' was either beryl, i.e. an opaque emerald, or green felspar; the 'topaz' was peridot; the 'chrysoprasus' was, probably, the green chalcedony; the 'jacinth' was the sapphire; the 'amethyst', was the modern amethyst.

24. Of them which are saved] RV omits.

27. That defileth] RV 'unclean,' lit. 'common': cp. Revelation 21:8; Isaiah 52:1; Ezekiel 44:9. Worketh, etc.] RV 'maketh an abomination and a lie.'

Book of life] cp. Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 20:12.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Revelation 21:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/revelation-21.html. 1909.

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