The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Revelation 21

Rev 21:1

In Rev 21; 22 the rewards promised in the Letters to the Churches are seen to be anticipations of the divine glories described in the climax of Revelation:

The letter to:
To him who overcomes...
The fulfillment: "He that overcomes shall inherit all things"
1. Ephesus
I will give to eat of the tree of life (Rev 2:7)
On either side of the river was there the tree of life (Rev 22:2)
2. Smyrna
Shall not be hurt of the second death (Rev 2:11)
The lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death
3. Pergamos
The hidden manna, a white stone, a new name which no man knoweth (Rev 2:17)
God's name in their foreheads (Rev 22:4)
4. Thyatira
Power over the nations, rule them with a rod of iron. I will give him the morning star (Rev 2:26,28)
They shall reign for ever and ever (Rev 22:5); I am the bright and morning star (Rev 22:16)
5. Sardis
Clothed in white raiment; I will not blot out his name out of the book of life (Rev 3:5)
A bride adorned in fine linen, clean and white (Rev 19:8). And the books were opened, and another book which is the book of life (Rev 20:12)
6. Philadelphia
I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is the new Jerusalem, even my new name (Rev 3:12)
The holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven (called THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS: Jer 33:16): (Rev 21:2,10)
7. Laodicea
To sit with my in my throne, even as I overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne (Rev 3:21)
No more curse: the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it? And his servants shall serve him (Rev 22:3)

Rev 21; 22: Allusions to the temple described in Ezek 40 48: (a) A great and high mountain: Rev 21:10 / Eze 40:2; (b) Measured by a man who is an angel: Rev 21:16 / Eze 40:3,5; (c) It is foursquare: Rev 21:16 / Eze 42:15-20; (d) There are twelve gates -- three on each side, and each with a name of a tribe of Israel: Rev 21:12 / Eze 48:31-34; (e) A river of water of life: Rev 22:1 / Eze 47:1; (f) Trees of life on its banks: Rev 22:2 / Eze 47:12; (g) The Glory of the Lord is there: Rev 21:11,23 / Eze 43 :4; 48:35; (h) God dwells with men: Rev 21:3 / Eze 43 :7-9.

NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH: Cp Isa 65:13--66:2; 2Pe 3:13.

NO LONGER ANY SEA: (1) "Since this holy city now described is, in effect, the coming amongst men of the heavenly sanctuary so often alluded to in Revelation, the 'sea' mentioned here could be the spiritual counterpart to the brazen sea, which was an essential feature of both Tabernacle and Temple of earlier days. The brazen sea was for priests on duty in the sanctuary to cleanse themselves from any defilement incidental to their activities there. Then if this city sanctuary has no 'sea', it must be because there is nothing in it to defile or hinder the fulness of service of those who are active there" (WRev).

(2) The firmament, or expanse, of heaven -- like a sea of glass -- is now removed. "The conclusion follows that 'no more sea' means the abolition of all space-time barriers and of all barriers of holiness between God and men: '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' " (WRev).

(3) Or, alternatively, sea sym nations (Rev 17:15). In Bible symbology the sea of nations is shown in various conditions: firstly, in a troubled, stormy state casting up mire and dirt (Isa 57:20); secondly, at peace having been purged by the fiery judgements of Armageddon (Rev 15:2); thirdly, purified and calm, with all dross removed, and represented as "clear as crystal" (Rev 4:6); fourthly, completely removed. This last will come to pass at the end of the millennium when independent national existence will cease, and all immortals will be incorporated into Israel which shall alone remain (Jer 30:11).

Rev 21:2

HOLY CITY: Cp Isa 60:14: "the city of... the Holy One".

Jerusalem as a bride: Isa 52:1; 62:4,5; 61:10. This section is parallel to Rev 19:7-9: context at beginning of millennium.

The redeemed (Rev 3:12; Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22; Psa 87:5). Jerusalem signifies "foundation (or vision) of peace," and indicates that true peace can only be established upon the basis of the hope of Israel (Acts 28:20).

The peace of Jerusalem is not merely cessation of war, but (as the Hebrew word suggests) a complete joining together in one, so as to form a complete unity of outlook and ideals.

The Holy Jerusalem relates to the political organization of the elect, and will be first revealed at the coming of Christ (Rev 3:12). Its final glory, however, awaits the close of that reign, when all the redeemed throughout the millennium will be gathered within its "walls."

"This new Jerusalem is a City and at the same time a Bride bedecked for her wedding (Rev 21:2,9,10). What John saw in the vision was evidently a glorious city, its ornament and splendour so rich as to suggest the exquisite adornment of a girl on her wedding day. But would the idea of such a double description have been used if it had not already been employed by the prophet Isaiah?: 'Put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city' (Isa 52:1). 'Thou (Zion) shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons (or, just possibly, thy Builder) marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee' (Isa 62:4,5)" (WRev).

COMING DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN: Why coming down from heaven? (1) Because their source of life is from thence: Col 3:1-4; Phi 3:20; Eph 1:3; 2:6; Mat 6:20; 1Pe 1:4.

The redeemed must be "born from above" (John 3:3, mg). They become so through the "incorruptible seed, even the word of God" (1Pe 1:23), which, like every good and perfect gift, has come "from above" (James 1:17; 3:15-17).

The purpose of the Word is to change us in character for the kingdom (John 17:17). When it takes possession of our mind and hearts, its influence will be seen in our lives, and we will build into our character those Divine ways that are seen revealed in that of the Lord Jesus.

These "ways" are from above, and such a character will form the foundation for the clothing upon of Divine nature "from above" at Christ's return.

Thus the New Jerusalem, which relates to the immortality of the saints, is said to come from God out of heaven (see 2Pe 1:4; 2Co 5:1-5; 1Co 15:47-49; Col 3:3; Rev 22:12; Luke 14:14).

(2) Or... coming down from the heavenly "Mt Zion" (Rev 14:1-3) to rule over all the earth below.

A BRIDE DRESSED FOR HER HUSBAND: The symbolism requires reference to "the marriage supper of the Lamb" at the time of his coming. The context of Rev 19:7-9 puts this conclusion beyond argument.

The New Jerusalem is not a material city, but a symbol of the elect (cp 2Co 11:2; Rev 21:9; 19:7; 22:17).

Rev 21:3

NOW THE DWELLING OF GOD IS WITH MEN: "The tabernacle... is with men" (AV). This is a very slightly modified quotation of Ezek 37:26b,27.

"The Tabernacle comprised God's dwelling place (Exo 25:8), and was a type of the elect in whom He chooses to dwell (2Co 6:16). With sin, death, and the grave destroyed (Rev 20:14,15), God shall be "all in all" (1Co 15:28). The Tabernacle in the wilderness was a parable of the New Jerusalem (Heb 9:9). It was beautiful by materials extracted from Egypt, and built according to Divine specification and plan (Exo 12:36; 25:1-7). This is typically true of the New Jerusalem.

"This spiritual Tabernacle of God will be beautified by God's special treasure extracted out of spiritual Egypt by the hope of Israel (Mal 3:17, mg; Acts 15:14), and made to conform to the Divine specifications and plans as set down in the Scriptures of Truth" (ApEp).

"It is scarcely possible to miss the significance of this. God's final encampment upon the earth is to be in a Tabernacle made of materials supplied by the human race -- living materials answerable to the precious things offered by Israel, gold, silver, precious stones, representing the good and honest-hearted among enlightened men. The Tabernacle was not let down from heaven ready made, though the pattern after which it was made was from that source: so the divine system of things to occupy the earth for ever, does not come down from heaven as a complete literal development, after the manner of some people's ideas of the New Jerusalem. The pattern comes from there. Christ, even in the days of his flesh, could say, 'I came down from heaven,' because the Spirit which caused his appearance emanated from thence. In how much fuller a sense, at his second appearing, will he be able to say the same thing? But the elements of the Tabernacle to be reared up upon earth, for the glory of God, will be supplied from the ranks of Adam's descendants in conformity with the divine specifications" (LM 96).

"What the dwelling of God with His immortal saints will mean in terms of personal experience is evidently past the powers of even a mighty angel or an inspired apostle to put into words. That which devout souls have craved and reached out for in the days of their weakness will become a normal everyday experience, a satisfying never-ceasing reality, like the warmth of sunshine on the wings of a butterfly newly-emerged from its chrysalis.

"And the new and higher faculties with which the redeemed will find themselves endowed will be such as cannot be described in terms of present experience. Even this divine Apocalypse has to be content with a description in terms of the negation of every present tribulation. All this -- death, sorrow, crying, pain -- will be anointed out by the balm of God's Holy Spirit, by the gift of personal immortality, and by the transcending experience of His own very Presence.

"Time and again in this Revelation the Holy Spirit gropes for ways of making known the marvels of blessings to come, which present limitations bar the reader from understanding. The new Jerusalem is pictured as a city in which the length and breadth and height are equal (Rev 21:16). This is no human metropolis. It has had another dimension added to it. The song which the redeemed sing is one which none can learn save those who share the fellowship of the Lamb on mount Zion (Rev 14:1,3). The new name received by 'him that overcometh' can be learned only by 'him that receiveth it' (Rev 2:17).

"It is not inconceivable that, added to the main comprehensible fact of immortality, there will be unlocked in the minds of the redeemed other faculties which have remained shut up and atrophied in the brain ever since a curse was put on the human race in Eden. Experts say that there are considerable areas of the human brain without any known function. And from time to time certain 'freak' individuals have been known to possess startling and altogether abnormal mental powers and perceptions. Can it be that these are hints of possibilities to be unlocked in a glorious day when servants of the Lord step out into a work of fuller endowment such as they have hardly suspected the existence of?

"A man who is color-blind lives almost completely without appreciation of much of the loveliness of Nature or the world of art. One who is tone-deaf is shut out of a realm which he knows exists for others but which, in this life, he can never enjoy. For him a Brahms symphony is just a long boring noise; and he would enjoy a Bach chorale just as well recited as sung. Such individuals know that there is something in life which they are missing and which no amount of effort and education can make good. But one day, by the grace of God, the first will stand in awe at the fiery splendor of a stormy sunrise or be charmed into speechlessness by the harmonies of color in a Scottish glen; and the other will revel in the timbre of horn and cello, and glory in his new-found ability to sing hymns by the hour to the God of his new creation. Then what of the man who comes from blindness to sight? And what must be the ecstatic shock to one who hears for the first time?

"Imagine, then, for those blessed with a call to the marriage supper of the Lamb a like transformation even less susceptible of translation into words, because as yet outside the experience of all except Christ. Is it possible to conceive the addition of some sixth sense, some extrasensory perception? What will it mean to move into a world of more than three dimensions? Even the Book of Revelation cannot describe these things in terms which present human limitation can grasp. All it can do is to say: All experience which you know now to be a disability will become only a painless memory, perhaps not even that. It can only tell of a city in which the height is fully equal to the length and breadth, of a song which no man can sing now, try as he will, and of a new name not to be disclosed until the day when Christ bestows it" (WRev 242-245).

Rev 21:4

HE WILL WIPE EVERY TEAR FROM THEIR EYES: The final victory at the end of the millennium will see a repetition of Isa 25:8; 35:10.

NO MORE DEATH: – Death is the final enemy that Christ must destroy (1Co 15:26; cp 1Co 15:54-57; Isa 25:8; Hos 13:14; Gen 3:15).

OR MOURNING: Cp Rev 21:4; Isa 35:10; 51:11; 60:20; 61:1-3; 65:19; ct Gen 3:16,17.

Rev 21:6

THE BEGINNING AND THE END: That is, of the creation of God (Rev 3:14; Heb 12:1,2).

Rev 21:8

COWARDLY: "Some wonder that [fear] should be included in such an enumeration of human vices. Yet it has its rightful place. Fear of contingencies or human adversaries is forbidden to the disciple of Christ. 'Fear ye not therefore,' said Jesus to the twelve (Mat 10:26,28,31). He was giving a commandment, not just well-meant advice. On reflection, how evident it is that fear is a sin; for it carries with it the assumption that there are powers of evil in the world, which God cannot cope with. It assumes that Jesus did not mean what he said when he exhorted: 'Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered' (Mat 10:29,30)" (WRev).

THE UNBELIEVING: "The special conjunction here with 'unbelief' shews, however, that the warning in Rev is primarily for those who are fearful of the duties and consequences of discipleship. This is the man who says: 'I couldn't live the life.' This is he who has at the back of his mind the uncomfortable query: 'What will my friends and colleagues think about me?' These spineless attitudes spell fear in large capitals. They signpost the way to a gehenna of fire, a second and very long-lasting death.

"The unbeliever who travels the road to a similar destiny is not the poor fool of an atheist or even the blinded patron of religious orthodoxy. He is the man who sees and knows the Truth in Christ, recognizing it for what it is, but who nevertheless prefers his life of worldly ambition to humble striving for the approval of Christ. Or maybe he would rather relax in selfish laziness or easy worldliness than bestir himself in the cause of the kingdom of God. The fearful and the unbelieving belong together" (WRev).

VILE: "Abominable" (AV). Gr "bdelussomai", from "bdeo" –- "to stink," causing one to turn from in disgust. A kindred word in Luke 16:15 is used to describe that highly esteemed among men in contrast to its real character in the sight of God.

THE MURDERERS, THE SEXUALLY IMMORAL, THOSE WHO PRACTICE MAGIC ARTS, THE IDOLATERS: "The next group -- the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters -- have to be understood against the background of the world, which John belonged to; for the Apocalypse was for the First Century, as well as the Twentieth. All of these were almost commonplace members of the society to which the apostles preached, and have already achieved respectability once again in these Last Days. But today the real scope of these words is in the kind of application such as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Hatred is murder, lust is adultery, eager wealth gathering is idolatry, Jesus said. Would he also have agreed that wire-pulling is sorcery?" (WRev).

ALL LIARS: "The mischief has been theirs from the first. And to this day 'speaking lies in hypocrisy' (1Ti 4:2), they still persuade that 'ye shall not surely die.' Not only with this greatest out-and-out falsehood, but in a score of ways they lie by insinuation: 'Yea, hath God said... ?' Did He really say this? 'Where is the promise of his coming?' Where, indeed? In the Bible! But who takes the Bible seriously today? If that is where his coming is promised, why take that seriously either? 'Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?' (1Jo 2:22).

"All such, who nurse atheism in their hearts, and foster it in the hearts of others, will also know the second death, the utter destruction that a lake of fire aptly symbolizes" (WRev).

Rev 21:9

I WILL SHOW YOU: The first "I will" of the Bible (Gen 2:18) -- "I will make a helper suitable for him" -- is answered here! The "helper" is the "bride, the wife of the Lamb"!

THE BRIDE, THE WIFE OF THE LAMB: The New Creation being finished, there will be a new "man and wife", after the pattern of Gen 2:18-25: cp Eph 5:22-33; Isa 61:10; 54:11-14; Rev 3:5.

Rev 21:10

Vv 10-14: "Master, behold what manner of stones... and buildings!" (Mar 13:2; Luk 21:5). Gates on all 4 sides, since they will come from all directions into kingdom (Luk 13:28,29).

Rev 21:11

THE GLORY OF GOD: Cp Rev 21:11; Num 21:14; Psa 72:18,19; Hab 2:14.

A JASPER, CLEAR AS CRYSTAL: A white stone: Rev 3:17. Cp Gen 2:12; Num 11:7; Exo 16:31.

Rev 21:12

TWELVE ANGELS: "When Christ rose from the dead, 'the angel of the Lord... rolled back the stone... and sat upon it' (Mat 28:2). In this way the tomb which men had sealed shut was now divinely sealed open. So also in the holy city, these angels secure that 'the gates shall not be shut at all by day (and there shall be no night there!)'; so the way of entry is permanently open. Then does this mean the possibility of exaltation to immortality at any time during the Millenium?... The Book of Rev has several references to seven angels (Rev 1:20; 8:2; 15:7), but rather remarkably no other mention of twelve angels. When Israel were protected from Passover destruction in Egypt, twelve legions of angels were on duty that night, exercising a divine guard over the homes of twelve tribes of faithful Israelites (Exo 12: 23). At another Passover all of these stood ready to come to the aid of the Son of God: 'Thinkest thou not that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels?' (Mat 26:53). In the age to come, the captains of these heavenly hosts are still 'ministering spirits... for them who shall be heirs of salvation' (Heb 1:14). Their work will not be ended with the resurrection" (WRev).

ON THESE GATES WERE WRITTEN THE NAMES OF THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL: "These names are there because their owners repented of what they did to the Saviour whom God raised up for them. The story of the sons of Jacob in Egypt shews up very clearly the change of heart, which came over Joseph's murderous brothers. They could have attempted to save themselves at Benjamin's expense (Gen 44:12), but they did not. They had got rid of one favourite. Then why should they hesitate about another? Instead, their immediate return to Egypt when Joseph's cup was discovered and the confession of their crime when they returned to Jacob (Gen 45:26) both shew a wholesome and repentant spirit. For this their names are written for all time on the gates of pearl. And all who are prepared to shew a like humility have opportunity of a like privilege" (WRev).

Rev 21:14

FOUNDATIONS: As in Eph 2:19-21.

Rev 21:16

LIKE A SQUARE: Like the breastplate (Exo 28:16), the altar, or Israel's encampment (Num 2). The Holy City comprises all three.

12,000: The foundations of the city are linked with the 12 Apostles of v 14, speaking of the vast number of the redeemed established on this common foundation.

A cube has 12 sides. Thus, 12 times 12,000 = 144,000! 100 times greater in each direction than ancient Babylon (WRev 249).

LENGTH... WIDE... HIGH: A cube. The final "holy of holies". The 3 dimensions of Christ's love (Eph 3:17-19).

Is Rev 21:16 a literal measurement of the New Jerusalem? First of all, a length and width of approximately 1,500 miles would be quite understandable. It would be a territory about 8 or 10 times longer and 20 or 25 times wider than the land of Israel today. Such a territory could, for example, span all the lands of the Bible -- from Iraq and Iran/Persia in the east to Libya and/or Greece or Rome in the west, and from Turkey in the north to the ends of the Arabian Peninsula or Cush/Ethiopia in the south. In short, every land mentioned in the Bible could be comprehended in the 1,500 by 1,500 miles. To the original Bible readers, that might sound very much like: "the glory of the LORD will cover the whole earth."

However, a height of 1,500 miles is a different matter. For one thing, Rev 21:17 says that the wall of this city is... ONLY... 144 cubits (approximately 220 to 280 feet, depending on which cubit is used). The problem is that a wall of even this great height (think of a 25-story building) would still be entirely out of proportion if the "city" was some 30,000 times taller -- ie, 1,500 miles. What would be the point of such a tiny wall alongside a city that rises to 1,500 miles -- well out into space?

On the other hand, I can think of one other possibility, by which some degree of literalness might be maintained: what if the height suggests no literal structure of wood or stone or metal, but the dwelling and overshadowing presence of Almighty God? "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light" (Rev 21:23). This would give us a huge "city" spanning a good part of Europe and Asia and Africa -- centered around the Holy Land and the site of the current and historical Jerusalem, and an utterly immense Shekinah Cloud and brilliant glory of Yahweh's presence, rising perhaps from the center of the "great city" -- old Jerusalem -- in a mushroom or palm-shaped cloud that covers and protects all the outlying regions of the "city" -- something like the camp of Israel in the wilderness on an tremendously larger scale.

Rev 21:18

"The tremendous emphasis in 1Ki 6:20-22,30 on a gold finish to everything in the sanctuary built by Solomon suggests at least a like splendour here. But 'like unto clear glass' perhaps implies solid gold, in contrast to overlaid gold (that is, gold leaf), and burnished so as to be as effective a mirror as the finest glass. Alternatively, this last phrase may be associated with the wall of jasper, and so describe the lustrous gold of the city as seen through the scintillating radiance of a diamond. Inevitably the imagination boggles at these concepts, as no doubt it is intended to do, for how can mortal man hope to fathom the transformed glories of new heavens and new earth?

"Like the cities of the Anakim, walled unto heaven, which over-awed faithless Israelites when they explored the Land of Promise (Deu 1:28), this city wall is great and high (Rev 21:12). The important difference is that this city is the Land of Promise, and the faithful are within its walls. Nothing can rob them of their inheritance" (WRev).

Rev 21:19

"The foundations of the tabernacle were silver sockets (Exo 26:25,32, etc), teaching all who came to the sanctuary that redemption was their great need and that here was the place where God provided it. There is no mention of the material of which these foundations were made, but it also may be safely presumed to be silver, 'for other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ' (1Co 3:11). And even though the people of the New Jerusalem have no further need of redemption, they will never cease to be glad of every reminder of the fact. For this reason they will eat of the New Passover when it is 'fulfilled in the kingdom of God' and they will 'drink of the fruit of the vine in the Father's kingdom' in lasting commemoration of salvation in Christ.

"These twelve foundations of the city will each have as its own ornamentation one of the precious stones, which were formerly set in the breastplate of the high priest. But now the entire community of the redeemed will be openly declared to be holy and precious before God: 'the city (of Jerusalem) shall be built to the Lord'; every part of it, including Gehenna and the place of the ashes, all that was formerly unclean will be made clean in the city of the New Covenant: 'it shall be holy unto the Lord', holy as the High Priest himself (Jer 31: 38-40, Exo 28:36-38). The Jeremiah passage (LXX) even adds mention of 'precious stones'. In this city 'there shall be upon the bells of the horses, Holy to the Lord; and the (earthenware) pots in the Lord's house shall be like the (golden) bowls before the altar' (Zec 14:20).

"Since the foundations of the wall are necessarily round the perimeter of the city it becomes almost a necessary inference that the same stones were set in the breastplate of the high priest round its perimeter and not in horizontal rows, as is more commonly represented. This, with the addition of the Divine Name in the central space, provides a small-scale replica of the camp of Israel with the tabernacle of witness at its centre" (WRev).

SAPPHIRE: A pure deep blue in color, speaking of God manifestation (Num 15:38). The pavement under the feet of the Elohim was of sapphire (Exo 24:10), as was also the throne of glory associated with the Cherubim (Ezek 1:26; 10:1). Both were visions of the glory of the coming Kingdom, the foundation and throne will be dedicated to the manifestation of Divine glory in the earth.

Rev 21:21

THE TWELVE GATES: "Besides a wall (of Salvation) great and high, there are twelve gates (of Praise: Isa 60:18). The tabernacle had its wall of holiness -- a linen curtain of dazzling whiteness contrasting with the drab black and brown goats' hair tents of sin-stricken Israelites. And it had a gate -- but only one, which was specially associated with the camp of Levi. By contrast, here is a wall, which proclaims immortality, and gates, which give access from north, south, east and west (Luke 13:28,29) for those who have taken on them the name of Israel and of one of its tribes" (WRev).

PEARLS: "Pearls remain in the hidden depths of the ocean until brought to view. How significant this is of those who will form the redeemed in the Age to come, for they are hidden deep in the stormy sea of nations (Isa 57:20). Pearls are formed by a grain of sand acting as an irritant and forming a nucleus. The oyster coats it with a substance which hardens to form the coating of the pearl. But the pearl must be brought to the light before its full beauty will be revealed. Thus a pearl is created out of trouble, through successfully coping with the irritants of life.

"How appropriate in relation to the Truth and those who embrace it (Mat 13:46, 7:6). Yet only when the Light of the world (John 8:12) is again manifested in the earth will the true beauty of these 'pearls' be appreciated" (ApEp).

THE GREAT STREET OF THE CITY WAS OF PURE GOLD, LIKE TRANSPARENT GLASS: "The word used here means 'a broad place'. The normal NT meaning is 'a street', but since this city which is being described is also a temple, the reference must be to the court of the temple. What in the tabernacle was bare earth or sand, and in Solomon's temple was probably paved stone, is now 'clear gold'. All the equipment of the outer court of the tabernacle was of brass, but the prophet had already declared that 'for brass I (the Lord thy Saviour) will bring gold' (Isa 60:17).

"But how can gold be transparent? Again this emphasis on two seemingly incompatible characteristics (as in v 18) must be a way of emphasizing that the gold is burnished so as to be like a mirror. And, since the city is illuminated by neither sun nor moon nor seven-branched candlestick but by the glory of God and of the Lamb, it follows that wherever the eye travels in this city-temple there is always the lustrous radiance of the Shekinah Glory, either seen directly or perfectly reflected from gold made 'clear' -- this gold is 'not like unto corruptible things as silver and gold', as men refine them.

"The same truth is enunciated again in yet more explicit fashion: 'And there shall in no wise enter into it anything "common" (that is, unsanctified) nor any person who practises abomination or falsehood' (v 27). There were times in Israel's history (eg Eze 8:10,11) when the temple was profaned with loathsome pagan practices. But that can never happen to this temple. Nor will there be any place for the lie of the serpent, for he belongs in a lake, which burns with fire and brimstone (v 8)" (WRev).

TRANSPARENT: In NIV the word "transparent" occurs one time (Rev 21:21), and it is "diaphano" (which also occurs only once), from which we get the (little-used, and old-fashioned) English word "diaphanous". It literally means "to shine through".

GLASS: "Hualos": that which is transparent. By NT times the Romans were developing transparent glass (WyE).

Rev 21:22

Cp other "temple" passages: 2Co 6:16; Eph 2:22; 1Co 3:16,17; 1Pe 2:1-10.

Rev 21:23

LIGHT: As God said in Gen 1:3. Cp Isa 60:1,19.

THE LAMB IS ITS LAMP: That is, the light of the redeemed (cf v 9; John 1:9; 8:12; Psa 36:9; Isa 60:3,12; Dan 7:11,12).

The Holy of Holies was without natural or artificial illumination. It was lit, only on the Day of Atonement, by the radiance of the Glory of God, declaring the putting away of sin through God's acceptance of one sin-offering for the transgressions of all the people. So this uninterrupted fulness of Glory in the New Jerusalem indicates the putting away of sin for all time, through the blood of the Lamb.

Rev 21:24

KINGS: Kings of earth when the war is concluded: Isa 60:3,5,11. Will there be "nations" and "kings of the earth" when Christ's reign has been concluded? Or is this when the wars are concluded, and when the kingdom is "accomplished" or "reached"?

SPLENDOR: "Doxa", glory, or "wealth" -- as in Isa 60,3,5,11,16.

Rev 21:25

ON NO DAY WILL ITS GATES EVER BE SHUT: There will also be access to the spiritual Jerusalem seen by John, for at the conclusion of the Millennium, those who have served God faithfully during that period, will be incorporated into the city. In Solomon's Temple, there were priests who attended the Divine service day and night (Psa 134), a token that access to God is always available.

THERE WILL BE NO NIGHT THERE: Figuratively, night is the time when the Sun of Righteousness is withdrawn (see John 8:12; 9:4-5; Mal 4:1-2). The Lord Jesus, as the Light of the world, will be always shining.

Rev 21:26

THE GLORY AND HONOR OF THE NATIONS WILL BE BROUGHT INTO IT: "Every sanctuary of God described in the Bible was constructed out of Gentile resources. In the wilderness the tabernacle was equipped out of the plunder brought from Egypt. The splendour of Solomon's temple came from David's military successes against all the nations round about, and Gentile craftsmen fashioned it. The temple built after the captivity in Babylon was equipped by the people of Babylon and the Persian king (Ezra 1:4,6; 6:4,8). The temple in the time of Jesus was built by Herod the Great, an Edomite. And in the age to come, the same principle will hold, both materially and spiritually" (WRev).

THE NATIONS: See v 24n.

"The desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory" (Hag 2:7).

Rev 21:27

NOTHING IMPURE WILL EVER ENTER IT: "In the time of Ezra certain were excluded from the priesthood because their title to office could not be produced. So their claim was set-aside 'till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim' to give a divine decision (Ezra 2:63). An ominous warning had been issued to the unfaithful in Sardis that they might find their names blotted out of the book of life by the One who had prevailed to take the book out of the hand of 'Him who sits upon the throne'. It was a grim reminder of the awesome possibility that a man may have his name written in the book of life, and yet may also have it expunged. But not so now, as the Greek phrase beautifully emphasizes. This blessing of citizenship in the New Jerusalem is for those whose names 'stand written' in the Lamb's book of life: 'thy people shall be all righteous' " (WRev).

SHAMEFUL OR DECEITFUL: The serpent, a liar from the beginning, and all his brood will be excluded from that beautiful "city" which is Eden restored. Who are "the seed of the serpent"? Those who "make lies"! Not just those who lie outright, but also those who make "lies" out of their lives. Those who profess love for Christ on Sunday, but show during the rest of the week that they are hypocrites, that their true love all along has been "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life". "Depart from me," he will say, "I never knew you."

THE LAMB'S BOOK OF LIFE: See Rev 3:5; 20:12. This symbolic book has been in existence from the beginning (Exo 32:32; Phi 4:3; Rev 13:8). It comprises the summing up of the characters of saints from the day to day records. Thus John declared that "the books were opened, and another book was opened which is the book of life" (Rev 20:12). These other books include the "book of Remembrance" (Mal 3:16) in which are recorded our successes and failures in the fight of Truth.

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