A COMMENTARY ON REVELATION CHAPTER 21
INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION CHAPTER 21
HEAVEN AT LAST
“On the jasper threshold standing,
Like a pilgrim safely landing,
See the strange, bright scenes expanding,
Ah, ’tis Heaven at last!
“What a city, what a glory,
Far beyond the fairest story,
Of the ages, old and hoary,
Ah, ’tis Heaven at last!
Christ Himself the living splendor,
Christ, the Sunshine, mild and tender,
Praise to the Lamb we render,
Ah, ’tis Heaven at last!
This is not a description of a renovation or remodeling job. The Bible is explicit about the destruction of heaven and earth. John sees the New Jerusalem not the one located in the holy land but one descending from heaven. In the vision he sees God dwelling among us with no death, mourning, crying or pain. A special announcement is being given from the throne of God; “I AM MAKING EVERYTHING NEW!” God promises all this to the OVERCOMER. The second death is for all unbelieving, vile etc. An angel shows John the Lambs wife–the Holy City Jerusalem. It shined with brilliance like Jasper. It had 12 gates, 12 angels, and inscriptions on the gates of the 12 tribes. The walls had 12 foundations with an inscription of the 12 apostles. The city was 1400 miles square with walls 200 feet high all of which was made of precious stones. God and Christ were there and their brilliance lightened the city. The pearly gates are always open but only the saved can enter. The redeemed will walk on streets of Gold. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
EXPOSITION TO REVELATION CAHPTER 21
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” ISA 65:17
“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure.” ISA 66:22
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 2PE 3:13
He also says, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” HEB 1:10
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. Psalm 102:25-27
According to Foy E. Wallace in his commentary he says the evident meaning of the new earth was that the surroundings were prepared and made favorable for the expansion of the kingdom of Christ, made possible by the removal of Judaism, the Jewish theocracy and the Jewish state….It was the vision of the pure church Bride descending from the high realm of holiness in contrast with the fallen harlot city. According to F.I Stanley in his commentary he claims that the churches in chapter one are the new heaven and the new earth in chapter 21. How anyone in their wildest imagination could get the new heaven and the new earth to be the church is a mystery that baffles my imagination. Read the above verses of scriptures, think soundly for a few days and you will see that this verse has nothing to do with the beginning of the church on Pentecost as alleged by the new thinkers. Now lets get down to business. What we see transpiring here is happening after the First Resurrection, after the millennium, after the general Resurrection, after the wedding supper of the lamb. This old earth will be so polluted by mankind that it will be necessary for God to make a new one. The writer of this commentary firmly believes that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. As we have already quoted from the inspired book of 2Pet. 3:13 where he tells of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and then promises a new heaven and a new earth. This did not happen at Pentecost! Thirty some years after Pentecost the Apostle Peter wrote that the NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH would occur at the coming of Christ. Like Peter, brothers and sisters, I believe It will happen when the Lord comes.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
In ver 10 John describes the great city the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Remember when Jesus was with us he said,
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2
This heavenly city is the place that Jesus has prepared for us. It has a golden street, gates of pearls, walls of jasper etc. I believe the people of heaven will be immortal and that We shall see God and Christ and the Holy spirit, and angels and saints past and present. These fellows with a figurative city that they call the church will not have any place to go when this life is over. If this city isn’t real is anything else in this book real? Hurry and get ready! Join the throng that will be singing the song of Moses and the Lamb! Don’t miss out on eternity!
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
This hasn’t happened yet brethren. Since the resurrection hasn’t occurred this couldn’t have possibly occurred as alleged by the new wing thinkers.
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Now the new wing thinkers really have a problem, since they maintain this chapter was fulfilled at Pentecost. But the fact remains that John says there will be no more death. There was death when John wrote and we still have death. I just recently attended a funeral. What this verse teaches is that there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. If Stanley and Wallace are correct then we had better get a new hymn book. Foy E. Wallace explains this verse as follows:
“No more death referred to the martyrdom of the saints as in chapter 2:l0; neither sorrow nor crying referred to the sorrows of persecution; and neither any more pain was just another phrase for no more tribulation.”
According to F. I. Stanley the wiping away of all tears, no more death and no more crying has already been fulfilled when you become a Christian. Brethren, if these fellows are correct, we need to revise our hymn books and stop preaching funeral orations. Why are we singing “when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and death shall be no more?” Luther wrote this hymn in l535 and it has been sung for the last four hundred plus years. Listen to the words of it and you will see where the author of this book stands.
“Great God, what do I see and hear!
The end of things created!
The Judge of mankind doth appear
On clouds of glory seated!
The trumpet sounds; the graves restore
The dead which they contained before:
Prepare, my soul, to meet Him. Amen.
The author of this commentary is not ashamed to admit that he believes in the “Old Time Religion”.
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
I got the message! Did you? Everything new!! God is trustworthy and his word is true.
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.
It’s hard to wait for something as wonderful as the promises that are in this chapter, but God says, “I will give to drink without cost.” You will not need to check your pocket for money because it’s free!
7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
“Overcomes” is a favorite word of Jesus. When you feel crushed, defeated and downcast Jesus calls upon you to surmount, and subdue, and conquer, and overthrow your enemy. Dear reader if your soul has wandered into sin you may overcome the fetters that hold you. If you have been in the lowlands of strife and despair Jesus calls upon you today to overcome. If you are in Satan’s sway you can overcome today. If you are bruised and fainting, footsore and weary, Jesus calls upon you to overcome. If your days are dark and fears possess you then Jesus says overcome. The hymn writer R. Kelso Carter wrote:
Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
Standing on the promises of God.
Lets examine the verse together. What John says is that if we overcome we will inherit all this that is the new heaven and the new earth.
8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
There is always those who are afraid to do right or resist wrong, then there is the unbelieving (atheist) and the abominable, who practice detestable things, and murderers who take the life of people, and traffickers in sex, and dealers in magic, idol worshippers and those who knowingly utter falsehood. These people are surely not in heaven. They end up where they belong–in the lake of fire. It is interesting to note what G. K. Wallace says about the second death:
In this context the second death was a figurative description of the punishment of the persecutors in contrast with the deaths of the martyrs of the first resurrection.
It is clear from their books that they no longer believe that the wicked will suffer a second death in the lake of fire. They say it is all figurative and has already happened. Shades of heresy! This slick doctrine had permeated our churches. If Wallace is right about the second death, that is, it has already occurred when the persecutors of Christians were punished, then the dead have already been judged and punishment in the lake of fire is now in progress. But lets hear the word of the Lord on this matter:
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev. 19:14-15
You will not need to adjust your bifocals to see that the second death has not yet occurred but will take place when the Lord comes and sits on his great white throne and gathers all nations before him and judges them out of the books. He will then cast the unrighteous into the lake of fire, which is the second death.
9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
Read on friends and you will see that the bride is not the church as claimed by the new right-wingers. It is a city where the redeemed of God will eventually dwell. Remember that John saw all this after the resurrection of the dead! Wallace again says, “The descriptions of the holy city were not visions of heaven the home of the soul, but of the glorious church of Christ.” Brethren this doctrine didn’t spring from the Jehovah Witnesses or the Mormons it came from the lips of our own preachers. On resurrection day all these folks will need is a copy of the yellow pages of the telephone book so they can look up the local church!
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
Was this the church that John saw coming down at Pentecost? F. I. Stanley says, “We conclude, therefore, when John saw the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem, he saw the church and those who dwell therein.” Foy E. Wallace likewise says, “the new Jerusalem, the Lamb’s bride–the church of Christ.” Now this just doesn’t fit with the rest of the chapter. Where are the high walls in the church? Where are the twelve gates? Where is the golden street? There was no Temple therein! John says,
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 honor into it. Rev. 21:24
Notice that the saved are walking in it! [CH8]Finally John says that only those whose name is in the Lamb’s book of life will enter it. You can be assured that I believe that a real “prepared place” will descend from heaven from God for the righteous to dwell in. These fellows don’t have a prepared place to go to, all they have is a church. All they need on resurrection morning is a copy of the yellow pages of a telephone book so they can look up the local church.
11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
Jasper is a precious stone–quartz like, variegated with divers colors, some sea green and dazzling in brilliance. I get excited just thinking about a city with such splendor. Some of our fine cites have granite, and stone buildings but none can be described as being built of such precious stones.
12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The description of this wall is reserved for later in the chapter. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This shows that Israel was recognized among the saved.
13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.
14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
John would have found the following names on the walls of the city. Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon Zelotes, and Matthias.
15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.
In chapter eleven a reed was used to measure the true worship. Now a rod of gold was used to measure the eternal city. A rod is a length of measurement used by surveyors.
16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia [That is, about 1,400 miles (about 2,200 kilometers)] in length, and as wide and high as it is long.
The survey crew reported the measurements. As we calculate it the measurement would be three hundred and fifty miles on each side giving us fourteen hundred square miles.
17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits [That is, about 200 feet (about 65 meters)] thick, [Or high] by man’s measurement, which the angel was using.
The ancient city of Babylon had walls that were 15 miles square, 350′ high, 87 feet thick and l00 gates and towers. The walls of Ninevah were l00 feet high 50 feet thick and defended by 1500 towers each 200 feet high. The city was 60 miles in circuit. When Nehemiah received permission from king Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls of that city he found them lying in ruins. Jerusalem was in waste, the gates burned with fire and the wall torn down. They rebuilt the sheep gate, the fish gate, the valley gate, the dung gate, the gate of the fountain, the water gate, the horse gate, the east gate, and the gate Miphkad. As we can readily see ancient cities had gates with names and walls that were high. Here we have a picture of the city in which the redeemed will occupy having walls and gates that excel anything that mankind could imagine. The ancient city of Jerusalem was patterned after the heavenly city.
18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.
in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. [The precise identification of some of these precious stones is uncertain.] Mount them in gold filigree settings. EXO 28:20
19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,
First Jasper–Milky white and clear (diamond). Second Sapphire–Bright blue. Third Chalcedony–Milky peach color. Fourth Emerald–Rich green.
20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. [The precise identification of some of these precious stones is uncertain.]
Fifth Sardonyx–Flesh color, kind of onyx used in cameos. The Sixth Carnelian–Blood red, Sardis stone in K.G. The Seventh Chrysolite–Pale sea green. Eighth beryl–Blue green. Ninth Topaz–Bottle green. Tenth Chrysoprase–Apple green. Eleventh Jacinth–Light red with sparkle. Twelfth Amethyst–Violet purple.
21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
Only God could make a pearl this size. Fort Knox doesn’t have enough gold to pave these streets. King David donated 110 tons of Gold for the building of the temple, but that would not begin to pave the streets of the eternal city. Likewise the tribes of Israel contributed 865 tons of gold toward the building project. That too, would not complete the paving project.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
The ancient city of Jerusalem had Solomon’s temple in it, and the city of Babylon had the temple Belus in it. It was three miles in circumference and had two royal palaces one three and a half and the other eight miles in circumference. It was connected with a subterranean tunnel under the Euphrates river.
23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
There will be no need of street lights there.
24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
When the prophet Isaiah prophesied of the coming of the Gentiles into covenant relationship with God he used similar language in Isaiah chapter sixty.
25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
We will not need to lock the doors at night for there will be no criminals there. You will not need a security system with an automatic dialer.
26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
The saved of every nation are its glory and honor.
27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Cf. the following verses
“He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” Rev. 3:5
“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. [Or written from the creation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain]” Rev. 13:8
“The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.” Rev. 17:8
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” Rev. 20:12
“If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:15