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Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Revelation 21

 

 

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Verse 1

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

The remaining two chapters describe the eternal and consummated kingdom of God on the new earth. As the world of nations is pervaded by divine influence in the millennium, so that of nature shall be, not annihilated, but transfigured, in the subsequent eternal state. The earth was cursed for man, but is redeemed by the second Adam. Now is the Church; in the millennium shall be the kingdom; after that shall be the new world, wherein God shall be all in all. The "day of the Lord" and conflagration of the earth are, in 2 Peter 3:1-18 spoken of together, from which many argue against a millennial interval between His coming and the general conflagration, preparatory to the new earth; but "day" is used often of a period comprising events closely connected, as are the Lord's second advent, the millennium, and the general conflagration and judgment. Compare Genesis 2:4, "day." Man's soul is redeemed by spiritual regeneration now; man's body shall be so at the resurrection; man's dwelling-place, his inheritance, the earth, shall be so at the creation of the new heaven and earth, which shall exceed the first paradise, as much as the second Adam exceeds in glory the first Adam before the fall, and as man regenerated in body and soul shall exceed man at creation. Isaiah (Isaiah 65:17) mentions the "new heaven and new earth" in the beginning of the millennium; John, at its close: because Isaiah takes the beginning to be a pledge of the completion. God's works are progressive. The millennium, in which sin and death are much restricted, is the transition state from the old to the new earth. The millennium is the age of regeneration. The final age shall be wholly free from sin and death. The millennial earth will not be the dwelling, but the kingdom, of the transfigured saints: they shall be "the new Jerusalem" on the new earth subsequently.

The first - the former.

Passed away. In 'Aleph (') A B, 'were departed' [ apeelthon (Greek #565), not pareelthe].

Was - `is:' graphically setting it before our eyes.

No more sea - the type of perpetual unrest (Isaiah 57:20; Mark 4:39). Hence, our Lord 'rebukes' it as an unruly hostile troubler of His people. It symbolized the political tumults out of which "the beast" arose (Revelation 13:1). As the physical corresponds to the spiritual world, so the absence of sea, after the earth's metamorphosis by fire, answers to the unruffled peace which shall prevail. The sea, though severing lands, is now, by God's eliciting good from evil, made the medium of their communication, through navigation. Then man shall possess powers which shall make the sea no longer necessary, but a hindrance: a perfect state. A "river" and "water" are mentioned, Revelation 22:1-2, probably literal (i:e., with such changes of the natural properties as correspond analogically to man's own transfigured body), as well as symbolical. The sea was once the element of the world's destruction, and is still death to thousands; whence, at the general judgment, it is specially said, "the sea gave up her dead." Then it shall cease to destroy or disturb: removed on account of its past destruction.


Verse 2

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I John. "John" is omitted in 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Andreas; also "I" is not emphatic. The insertion of "I John" would interfere with the close connection between "the new heaven and earth," Revelation 21:1, and the "new Jerusalem."

Jerusalem ... out of heaven - (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 3:12.) The descent of the new Jerusalem out of heaven is distinct from the earthly Jerusalem, in which Israel in the flesh shall dwell during the millennium, and follows on the "new heaven and earth." [John in his gospel always writes Hierosoluma (Greek #2414) of the old city; in the apocalypse, always Hierousaleem (Greek #2419) of the heavenly city (Revelation 3:12). Hierousaleem (Hebrew #2419) is Hebrew, the original, holy appellation. Hierosoluma (Greek #2414) is the common Greek, in a political sense.] Paul observes the same distinction when refuting Judaism (Galatians 4:26 : cf. Revelation 1:17-18; Revelation 2:1; Hebrews 12:22); not so in the letters to Romans and Corinthians (Bengel).

Bride - made up of the citizens of "the holy city." There is no longer merely a paradise, as in Eden (there is that also, Revelation 2:7), a mere garden, but now the city of God on earth, costlier and statelier, at the same time the result of labour such as had not to be expended by man in dressing the garden of Eden. "The lively stones" were in time laboriously chiselled into shape, after the pattern of "the chief corner stone," to prepare them for the place which they shall everlastingly fill in the heavenly Jerusalem.


Verse 3

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, 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.

Out of heaven. So B, Coptic, Andreas; but 'Aleph (') A, Vulgate, 'out of the throne.'

The tabernacle - alluding to that in the wilderness (wherein many signs of His presence were given): of which this is the antitype, having previously been in heaven (Revelation 11:19; also 13:6; 15:5). Compare the contrast in Hebrews 9:23-24, between "the patterns" and "the heavenly things themselves;" "the figures" and "the true." The earnest of the heavenly tabernacle is afforded in the Jerusalem temple of the millennium, (Ezekiel 40:1-49, etc.)

Dwell (tabernacle) with them. The same Greek as is used of the divine Son 'tabernacling among us' (John 1:14). Then He was in the weakness of the flesh: at the new creation He shall tabernacle among us in the glory of His manifested Godhead (Revelation 22:4).

They - in particular, emphatic.

His people. 'Aleph (') A, 'His peoples:' 'the nations of the saved' peculiarly His, as Israel was designed to be; B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, "His people."

God himself ... with them - realizing fully His name Immanuel.


Verse 4

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

All tears - `every tear.'

No more death - `death shall be no more:' not the millennium, for in this there is death (Isaiah 65:20; 1 Corinthians 15:26; 1 Corinthians 15:54, "the last enemy ... destroyed is death," Revelation 20:14, after the millennium).

Sorrow - `mourning.'

Passed away - `departed,' as Revelation 21:1.


Verse 5

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Sat - `sitteth.'

All things new - not recent, but changed from the old [ kaina (Greek #2537), not nea]. An earnest of this regeneration of nature is given already in the regenerate soul.

Unto me. So 'Aleph ('), Coptic, Andreas; but A B, Vulgate, Syriac, omit.

True and faithful. So Andreas; but 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, transpose, 'faithful and true' (genuine).


Verse 6

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

It is done - come to pass. The same Greek as Revelation 16:17. So Vulgate; but A, 'they (these words, Revelation 21:5) are come to pass.' All is as sure as if actually fulfilled; for it rests on God's unchanging word. When the consummation shall be, God shall rejoice over His work, as at the first creation God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good. Alpha and Omega. In A B, 'the Alpha ... the Omega' (Revelation 1:8).

Give unto ... athirst ... water of life - (Isaiah 12:3; Isaiah 55:1; John 4:13-14; John 7:37-38; Revelation 22:17): added lest any should despair of attaining this exceeding weight of glory. Now we may drink of the stream, then we shall drink at the Fountain.

Freely - `gratuitously;' the same [ doorean (Greek #1432)] as is translated, "(They hated me) without a cause" (John 15:25). As gratuitous as was man's hatred of God, so gratuitous is God's love to man: there was every cause in Christ why man should love, yet man hated Him; there was every cause in man why (humanly speaking) God should hate, yet God loved man. Even in heaven, our drinking at the Fountain shall be God's gratuitous gift.


Verse 7

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

He that overcometh. Another aspect of the believer's life: conflict with sin, Satan, and the world. Thirsting for salvation is the beginning of faith, and continues forever (as a relish for divine joys) characteristic of the believer. In a different sense, the believer 'shall never thirst.'

Inherit all things - (1 Corinthians 3:21-23.) 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Cyprian, read, 'these things:' the blessings described.

I will be his God - `to him a God;' i:e., all that is implied of blessing in "God."

He shall be my son - emphatic: He, in a special sense, above others: 'shall be to me a son,' fully realizing the promise made to Solomon, son of David, and antitypically to the Divine Son, of David.


Verse 8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

The fearful , [ deilois (Greek #1169)] - 'the cowardly,' who do not quit themselves like men, so as to "overcome" in the good fight (1 Corinthians 16:13); who have the spirit of slavish 'fear,' not love, toward God; and through fear of man, are not bold for God, or 'draw back' (cf. Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15).

Unbelieving `faithless ' Unbelieving - `faithless.'

Abominable - having drunk the harlot's 'cup of abominations.'

Sorcerers - one characteristic of Antichrist's time. As Bar-jesus withstood Paul, so 'the false prophet,' Antichrist, the minister of the world-power, shall oppose the witnesses in the last days (Acts 13:6-8).

All liars - `all the liars:' cf. 1 Timothy 4:1-2, where lying, and dealings with spirits and demons, are made features of 'the latter times.'

Second death - Revelation 20:14 : "everlasting destruction," 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Mark 9:44; Mark 9:46; Mark 9:48.


Verse 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.

The angel who showed John Babylon, the harlot, appropriately shows him, in contrast, new Jerusalem, the Bride (Revelation 17:1-5). The angel is the one that had the seven last plagues, to show that the ultimate blessedness of the Church is one end of the divine judgments on her foes.

Unto me. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, omit.

The Lamb's wife - in contrast to her who sat on many waters (Revelation 17:1); i:e., intrigued with many peoples of the world, instead of giving her undivided affections, as the Bride, to the Lamb.


Verse 10

And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

The words correspond to Revelation 17:3, to heighten the contrast of the Bride and the harlot.

Mountain - (cf. Ezekiel 40:2.) that great. Omitted in 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, 'The holy city Jerusalem.' A perfect cube: the complete elect Church.

Descending. Even in the millennium the earth will not be a suitable abode for transfigured saints, who therefore shall reign in heaven over the earth. But after the millennium and judgment, they shall descend from heaven to dwell on an earth renewed, and assimilated to heaven itself. "From God" implies, 'we (the from heaven to dwell on an earth renewed, and assimilated to heaven itself. "From God" implies, 'we (the city) are God's building' (1 Corinthians 3:9).


Verse 11

Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

Having the glory of God - not merely the Shechinah, but God Himself, as her glory, dwelling in the midst of her. Compare the type, earthly Jerusalem in the millennium (Zechariah 2:5 : cf. Revelation 21:23, below).

Her light , [ foosteer (Greek #5458)] - 'light-giver:' properly applied to the sky's light-giving luminaries (note, Philippians 2:15, its only other occurrence). "And," before "her light," is omitted in 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate.

Even like - `as it were.'

Jasper - representing watery crystalline brightness.


Verse 12

And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

And. 'Aleph (') A B omit. Ezekiel 48:30-35, similarly, which implies that the millennial Jerusalem shall have its antitype in the heavenly Jerusalem descending on the finally-regenerated earth.

Wall great and high - the security of the Church. Also, the exclusion of the ungodly.

Twelve angels - guards of the twelve gates: an additional emblem of perfect security; while the gates being never shut (Revelation 21:5), imply perfect liberty and peace. Also, angels shall be brethren of the heavenly citizens.

Names of the twelve tribes. The inscription of the names on the gates implies that none but spiritual Israel, God's elect, shall enter. As the millennium, wherein literal Israel in the flesh shall be mother church, is antitype to the Old Testament earthly theocracy in Canaan, so the heavenly Jerusalem is the consummation antitypical to the spiritual Israel, the elect Jews and Gentiles being now gathered out: as spiritual Israel now is an advance upon the previous literal Israel, so the heavenly Jerusalem shall be much in advance of the millennial Jerusalem.


Verse 13

On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

On the north ... on the south. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, read, 'and on the north and on the south.' In Ezekiel 48:32, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan (for which Manasseh is substituted in Revelation 7:6), are on the east; Reuben, Judah, Levi, on the north; Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, on the south; Gad, Asher, Naphtali, on the west. In Numbers 2:1-34, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, are on the east; Reuben, Simeon, Gad, on the south; Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, on the west: Dan, Asher, Naphtali, on the north.


Verse 14

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Twelve foundations. Joshua, the type of Jesus, chose twelve of the people to carry stones over Jordan, as Jesus chose twelve apostles to be foundations of the heavenly city, Himself being the chief corner-stone. Peter is not the only apostolic rock on whose preaching Christ builds His Church. Christ is the true Foundation: the twelve are foundations only in their apostolic testimony concerning Him. Though Paul was an apostle, besides the twelve yet the mystical twelve representing the Church is retained-namely, three, the divine, multiplied by four, the world-number.

In them (so Vulgate) the names ... As architects inscribe their names on their great works, so the apostles shall be held in everlasting remembrance. 'Aleph (') A B, Syriac, Coptic, Andreas, read, 'upon them.' These also insert "twelve" before "names."


Verse 15

And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

Had a golden reed. So Coptic; but 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Syriac, read, 'had (as) a measure a golden reed.' In Revelation 11:2, the non-measuring of the outer courts of the temple implied its being given up to secular desecration. Here, the city being measured implies the entire consecration of every part, brought up to the exact standard of God's requirements; also God's guardianship henceforth of even the most minute parts of His Holy City from evil.


Verse 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. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

Twelve thousand furlongs - `to 12,000 stadia:' 1,000 furlongs being the space between the several twelve gates. Bengel makes the length of each side of the city 12,000 stadia. The stupendous height, length, and breadth being exactly alike, imply its faultless symmetry, transcending in glory all our most glowing conceptions.


Verse 17

And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

Hundred and forty and four cubits - twelve times twelve: the Church-number squared. The wall is far beneath the height of the city.

Measure of a man, that is, of the angel. The ordinary measure used by men is the measure here used by the angel, distinct from 'the measure of the sanctuary.' Men shall then be equal to the angels.


Verse 18

And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

The building - `the structure' (Tregelles) [ endoomeesis (G1746a)].

Gold, like unto clear glass - ideal gold, transparent as no gold is (Alford). Excellencies will be combined, now incompatible.


Verse 19

And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

And. So Syriac, Coptic, Andreas; but A B, Vulgate, omit. Compare Revelation 21:14; also Isaiah 54:11.

All manner of precious stones. Contrast Revelation 18:12, as to Babylon. These constituted the "foundations."

Chalcedony - agate from Chalcedon: semi-opaque, sky-blue, with stripes of other colours (Alford).


Verse 20

The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

Sardonyx - having the redness of cornelian, and the whiteness of onyx.

Sardius - (note, Revelation 4:3.)

Chrysolite - described by Pliny as transparent, and of a golden brightness, like topaz; different from our pale green crystallized chrysolite.

Beryl - sea-green.

Topaz. Pliny (37: 32) makes it green and transparent, like our chrysolite.

Chrysoprasus - somewhat pale, having the purple of the amethyst (Pliny, 37: 20, 21).

Jacinth. The violet brightness in the amethyst is diluted in the jacinth (Pliny, 37: 41).


Verse 21

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

Every several - `each one severally.'


Verse 22

And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

No temple ... God ... the temple. As God now dwells in the spiritual Church, His "temple" [ naos (Greek #3485), shrine] (1 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19), so the Church perfected shall dwell in Him as her "temple" [ naos (Greek #3485)]. As the Church was "His sanctuary" (Psalms 114:2), so He is to be theirs. Means of grace cease when the end of grace is come. Church ordinances give place to the God of ordinances. Uninterrupted, immediate communion with Him and the Lamb (cf. John 4:23) supersedes intervening ordinances.


Verse 23

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

In it. So, Vulgate; but 'Aleph (') A B, Andreas, '(shine) on it,' or, 'for her.'

The light - `the lamp' (Isaiah 60:19-20). The direct light of God and the Lamb shall make the saints independent of God's creatures, the sun and moon.


Verse 24

And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

Of them ... saved ... in. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, Coptic, Andreas, '(the nations shall walk) by means of [ dia (Greek #1223) footos (Greek #5457) autees (Greek #846)] her light;' omitting "of them which are saved." Her brightness supplies them with light.

The kings of the earth - who once sought only their own glory, being converted, in the new Jerusalem bring their glory to lay it down at the feet of their God and Lord.

And honour. So B, Vulgate, Syriac; but 'Aleph (') A omit.


Verse 25

And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

Not be shut ... by day - therefore never; for it shall always be day. Gates are usually shut by night; but in it shall be no night. There shall be continual free ingress; so that all which is blessed may be brought into it. So in the millennial type.


Verse 26

And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

All that was truly glorious in the earth and its converted nations is gathered into it. While all are one, there are various orders among the redeemed, analogous to the nations on earth constituting one great human family, and to the various orders of angels, Still, the Bride, the transfigured Church, that reigned above during the millennium, and descended after it on the new earth, as its "holy Jerusalem," is probably the prominent center, and the nations (saved in the millennium?) partake of her blessedness (Revelation 21:24, note), 'walking in her light,' and 'healed' by 'the leaves of the tree of life.' Dwelt in by Yahweh, she will be the medium of blessings to the new earth (cf. Luke 19:17; Luke 19:19).


Verse 27

And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Anything that defileth , [koinoun]. 'Aleph (') A B read [ koinon (Greek #2839)], 'anything unclean.'

In the Lamb's book of life - (note, Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15.) As the filth of old Jerusalem was carried outside the walls and burnt, so nothing defiled shall enter the heavenly city, but be burnt outside (cf. Revelation 22:15). The apostle of love, who shows us the glories of the heavenly city, is he also who speaks plainly of the terrors of hell.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 21:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-21.html. 1871-8.

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