About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 21
The New Jerusalem (ch. 21:1-27)
verse 1 John sees “a new heaven and a new earth”.
You might remember in the last chapter that the earth fled away from the
presence of God at the White Throne Judgement.
I believe at that time the old heaven and earth passed away, and new
heaven and earth came into existence.
need to think about what the word "new" means here. Jesus, in Matthew
24:35 said that heaven and earth would pass away but His Word would never pass
away. This is not a recreated earth
that existed during the thousand year rule of Christ.
This is a brand new earth, and, it looks very different from the earth we
This text also speaks of the new heaven. There is debate over what heaven is being talked about here. There are three heavens mentioned in the Bible. The first heaven is the sky around us. The second heaven is the universe. The third heaven, as the Apostle Paul put it, is where God's immediate presence is. It's the spiritual realm that exists in another dimension around us. The debate is over just what heaven is made new here. I'm not sure I can end this debate. We already know that satan and his demonic force have been kicked out of the third heaven. At the moment, I believe the heaven spoken of here is the place where God's immediate presence resides. That being said, I would not be surprised if the word "heaven" here refers to all three of the above named heavens.
The Greek word "ouranos" is translated as heaven here as it is in other places in the New Testament. This Greek word simply means "air". When applied to the third heaven, I guess that would mean "spiritual air". When applied to earth it obviously means the sky and beyond.
The Greek word "kainos" is translated as "new" in verse 1. This word stresses the idea of something being new in quality, not necessarily something totally brand new. For this reason, many Futurists believe the new earth is a new recreated earth. I understand their point, and they may be right. Still, if we believe this new earth is a recreated earth, we have to understand what is meant in the last chapter when it states that the old earth fled away.
Another thing you might want to consider is that there is a new heaven. As I've already stated, you can take this in two ways. Either there is a new universe or there is a new dwelling place of God we call heaven. One thing we need to consider is that the dwelling place of God will be in the New Jerusalem, not in heaven. Who will live in heaven might be debatable. Maybe it's the home of the angels. So, this is just another piece of the puzzle in attempting to try to figure things out.
in verse 1 we see that this new earth does not have any sea. It is said
that the Old Testament Jews did not view the sea as being some kind of thing of
beauty. Rather, they viewed the sea as a place of storms and death. The Jews were not a nation that loved or even made use of the sea.
Gentile nations built ships to sail the seas but not the Jews. They may
have fished in boats on lakes and rivers, but for the most part, they stayed
away from the sea. This began to
change as time went on. Obviously
the Apostle Paul sailed the
who love the sea might be disappointed to know that there will not be any sea.
I'd suggest that there will be no such disappointment for anyone who
exists on the new earth. Why there
won't be any sea is questionable. Maybe
it has something to do with the fact that water was used as a form of judgment
in Noah's days. It is quite possible
that there were no such things as seas prior to the flood.
The seas and oceans could have easily come about from the upward
explosion of water from beneath the earth's crust in the days of the flood.
verse 2 John saw the New Jerusalem come down out of heaven from God as a bride.
Whether this heaven is the place of God's existence or the sky above is
again debatable. In reality, I
believe it's both. John saw
the city in the sky and he realized it was from where God is.
says that he saw the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven, prepared as a bride
for her husband. Because of the word
bride many Prophetic Futurists believe that this city is not a real city but is
symbolic of the bride of Christ. I believe
it is a literal city.
date we’ve taken the thousand years, and many other things to be literal and
not symbolic in Revelation. So,to continue in this thinking and to be
consistent, I believe this is a real city.
NIV says that the city was prepared as a bride.
Other versions say things like the city was like a bride.
This verse could easily be understood that the city was prepared for the
bride. It's not that the city was
should then ask; "Who is the bride?"
believe the majority of Prophetic Futurists, and even non-Prophetic Futurists,
believe that the bride is the church, saved Christians, from the age of
grace, otherwise known as the church age. The
problem with this is that no where in the Bible does it state that the church is
the Bride of Christ. Some point to
Ephesians 5:22 and following to say that Paul called the church the Bride of
Christ, but that's not so. If you
study that text closely Paul calls the church the Body of Christ, not the Bride
At the moment I see the bride in this chapter to be
saved Jews. Hebrews 11:10 and 16
speaks of a heavenly city for the Old Testament Jewish saints to live in at some
future point. I believe this city
here in Revelation has been built for these Old Testament Jewish saints, and,
possibly the Jews that are saved at the end of the tribulation.
At the moment, I'm a bit fuzzy in my thinking concerning whether these
Jews are just Old Testament Jews, as some believe, or, they're Newt Testament
saved Jews. Whatever the case, I do
believe the New Jerusalem will house Jews.
will see that God provides much detail about the New Jerusalem.
Such detail in my opinion tells me that it is a literal city which I
believe replaced the present city of
4 tells us that “now the dwelling place of God is with men”.
The New Jerusalem is not only the place where God's people live but it is
the place where God Himself will live. His
desire has alwasy been to live among man and that He will some day do.
the word "men" here in verse 4. We're
talking all mankind who have been saved by the blood of Jesus.
We're not just talking about Jews here.
Although the New Jerusalem is where Jews will live, the rest of the new
earth is inhabited by Gentile saints, or so I believe at the4 moment.
think we should clarify at this point the distinction between God and Jesus.
On numerous occasions throughout the book of Revelation we see Jesus as
the Lamb of God. God mentioned here
isn't Jesus. It's not God in
the person of Jesus we're talking about here.
It's God Himself. It's the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God's
presence will no longer be in the heavenly spiritual realm.
His presence will be on earth.
question can be asked. Will we see
God at this time? 1 John 4:14
clearly states that no man has ever seen God at any time.
This is probably so because God is spirit and man is physical.
We cannot see into the spirit with our physical eyes.
Even in Old Testament times, no one saw God.
Moses met with God but he only saw God's glory, not God Himself.
I can't say if we will ever see God. Maybe
in the next life we will be able to see Him.
I do know that we will see Jesus and He is the express and exact image of
verse 4 we see that there will be no more death, no more crying or pain, because
the old order of things, or, first things, as the Greek seems to imply, has
passed away. Living on the new earth
will be like something we’ve never experienced before.
At this point I'd like to point out the difference between heaven
and the new earth. Upon death the
believer goes immediately to heaven. However,
the believer will not spend eternity in heaven.
The believer spends eternity on the new earth.
question is often asked about how can there be no crying on the new earth?
What if our loved-ones aren't there with us?
Won't that make us sad? Wouldn't
that make us cry? It would make me
exceedingly sad if my two boys weren't in this paradise but in the
passage that answers this question is found in Isaiah 65:17.
Isaiah states that in the era of the new heaven and new earth we will not
remember anything of this life. This
life will not come to our mind. We
may not have any recollection of any children, especially if they are in the
verse 5 John must have been so overwhelmed again that God Himself had to tell
him to keep writing what he saw. God
told John again, that He will make all things new.
Everything will be made new at this point of time.
Nothing of the past will remain onto the new earth.
tells John that He is making all things new.
All things mean all things, not some things.
He is making all things new. He
is not recreating, or fixing up, the old. The
new heaven and earth will be totally new. It
will probably be way beyond our present imagination.
It may have absolutely no resemblance of what we know of earth today.
I believe it is important to notice here that it is
God Himself who is speaking to John. It's
not an angel. I can't begin to
imagine just how John must have felt at this moment.
All that he had seen in these visions was way beyond his comprehension
and now he hears from God Himself.
In verse 6 God says that “it is done”. We’ve seen these words before. We’ve seen them on the cross and at the end of the Great Tribulation, and now we see these words in reference to God replacing the old with the new. God continues to say that for those who thirsty will drink from the water of life. I believe in context that this is not talking about the Holy Spirit's quenching our thirst now. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 about living water. In once sense of the word, the Holy Spirit is the answer for those who are spiritually thirsty, but in context here. The ultimate quenching of our spiritual thirst will be quenched in the era of the new earth. This water might well be from the river of life that flows from the New Jerusalem. If this is not the case, it is surely that spiritual water that comes from the presence of God. I believe this is the ultimate fulfillment of the living water that Jesus told the woman at the well she could have to drink.
verse 7 God says that he who overcomes, that is, those who don’t lay aside
their faith in times of trouble, will receive all that John sees.
The believer has ample opportunity to lay aside his faith in this life.
The Apostle Peter in his first letter speaks of our faith being tested.
If we pass the test, our trust in Jesus is strengthened.
That being said, a test is a test and one can fail the test.
If we overcome, there are rewards waiting for us.
I've said before, I believe the book of Revelation is specifically addressed to
and about Jews, especially Jews living during the time of the tribulation.
We've seen the word "overcome" in the seven letters of chapters
two and three. I therefore suggest
that the specific ones to overcome here might be Jews living during the tribulation
verse 8 we see a list of people who will not inherit all of this new life.
Those who are cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murders, sexually immoral,
liars, idolaters, those involved in witchcraft, and so on will not see these
things. One thing we need to note
here is the reason why these people will not see the new life.
The reason is not because they are liars, murders, and so on. They miss
out on the next life because they are unbelievers.
What really sends people to the
We need to note here that even though these people
are sent to eternal damnation because of their unbelief, at this point, at the
White Throne Judgment, they're judged according to their works, and in this
case, their bad works. My point is
simple. If you don't give yourself
to God's grace, you will be judged according to your works.
Judgment is either by faith or by works.
It's our choice. You really
don't want to be judged by your works.
verses 9 and 10 one of the seven angels that participated in the seven bowl
judgements took John to a high mountain and showed him the Bride of Christ,
which as we saw earlier is the New Jerusalem.
Once again, because of this analogy the city being a bride in this verse,
many believe the city is not a literal city.
Again, I believe it to be a literal city.
I also believe it to be the Bride because the Bride lives in the city.
the city in this verse is a literal city, then I suggest that
verse 11 we are told of the glory of this holy city.
It glittered like precious stones. I
won't go into detail concerning the stones mentioned in these verses.
Some commentators go into great length over these stones.
Suffice it to say, the picture Revelation gives of the city is that it is
verse 12 we see that this city had very high walls around it with twelve gates.
Why this city had to have a wall is a question to me that I’ve not
found an answer to. Also, why did
twelve angels have to stand at these gates as if they were keeping watch?
I suppose we could speculate. The
text doesn't explain the reason for what we see.
That being said, in heaven right now, God has angels
standing around Him and the throne, as we've seen throughout the book of
That being said, in heaven right now, God has angels
standing around Him and the throne, as we've seen throughout the book of
note that each side of this city had three gates each and on each gate was
written one of the twelve tribes of
people might suggest that since the twelve apostles' names are written on the
foundation of the New Jerusalem this suggests that Gentile Christian live in the
city. They would suggest this
because they believe the twelve apostles represent the church.
I can certainly understand that, but remember, the twelve apostles were
Jews, not Gentiles. Just because
their names are written on the foundation doesn't mean that Gentiles will reside
in the city.
question that is often asked is; “Who is the twelfth apostle”?
Is it Matthias who was chosen via a lottery, or might it be the Apostle
don’t believe Paul was the 12th apostle that took Judas' place.
I believe he was an apostle set apart from the rest.
In 1 Corinthians 15:8 Paul said that he was abnormally born, or so he NIV
puts it. The
KJV says that he was born out of season.
I believe he was born abnormally, as seen in Acts 9, because his calling
was different from the Twelve.
Paul, more than any other apostle, even more than Jesus Himself has
defined the gospel and the Christian teaching for us.
I always say, if Paul got it wrong, then Christians are in one big mess.
should also note the importance of these twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
I do believe there are apostles today.
I believe we can find other apostles in the New Testament, other than
these twelve, but these twelve and Paul are special.
They are on a higher level of authority than any other apostle that
followed them. Any apostles that came after these twelve must teach and preach
that which these original twelve taught and preached.
There are some that suggest that all apostles throughout history have
their own particular gospel to preach, but this is not New Testament thinking.
All other apostles are secondary apostles and must teach what is clearly
stated in the Bible. The proof that
they are special is that their names are written on the foundations of the New
15 through 21 describe this city. In
our terms today, the city is about 1400 to 1500 miles long, wide, and tall.
It's cube shape. This is
roughly the size of the
should note the Greek word "plateia" that is translated as
"street" in most English texts. The basic meaning of this Greek
word is broad. Therefore, the NIV translated it as street, or, broad street.
That being said, "plateia" can also be understood as a city square or
a market place where people come to gather. I choose to see this more as a
city square than a street. I don't think that New Jerusalem only has one
street as our English texts seems to imply.
of the way the New Jerusalem is described here some suggest that it is symbolic,
but I don't believe that to be the case. As
I've said before, we should understand that at this stage in the vision God has
created a brand new heaven and earth. There
is no text stating that the new earth should resemble the old earth.
The new earth could well have no resemblance to what we know today.
It's my thinking that there will be some things that are similar, but
there will also be many things that are totally unheard of or unseen today.
The mountain we saw a few verses back would be something that is the
same. The New Jerusalem would be
something that is now unheard of and unseen.
the thousand year rule of Christ on earth there is a temple in
verse 23 we note that there is no sun or moon in the New Jerusalem because the
glory of God and the glory of the Lamb shed light for the city’s residence. This
would be a radiance that we have never experienced before. This
would be one of those things that are presently unheard of and unseen today.
here that there is the glory of God and also the glory of the Lamb, that is,
Jesus. God the Father and Jesus,
although being eternally one but yet distinctively different in eternity past,
is now less distinctive as being one. That
is to say, since the incarnation of Jesus on earth, Jesus has totally changed
His existence just for us. He is not what He was prior to His incarnation.
Then, since the cross, one step farther has taken place in this change of
His existence. We will see the nail
prints in His hands and in His side. My
point to this is simple. Jesus is
still Jesus, but His existence now and into the future is not what it once was.
24 is very interesting and very hard to interpret.
It says that the nations of the world will walk by the light of the New
Jerusalem. Also, the kings of the
earth will bring their splendor into the New Jerusalem.
Remember, the New Jerusalem has come down from heaven and plopped itself
down on the new earth, and I believe right smack dab in what we now know as the
suggest that there are left over people from the thousand years, but this
can’t be so because nobody was left after the White Throne Judgment.
Only the redeemed will live on the new earth.
These nations have to consist of believers.
We do know that Christians will be rewarded for their works done by
faith. Paul speaks about this in 1
Corinthians 3. Maybe part of these
rewards is where we will live on the new earth.
suggest that because the word “nations” in the Old Testament often refers to
the Gentile nations that the nations and the kings that bring their splendor to
the New Jerusalem are Gentile Christians and that the New Jerusalem is inhabited
by Jewish Christians. This is my
position on this matter at the present. Gentiles
inhabit the nations and Jews inhabit the New Jerusalem.
verses 25 through 27 we note that the gates to this city will never be shut
because there won’t be any such thing as a night.
Gates are normally shut at night.
chapter ends with us knowing that nothing evil or wicked will enter the New
Jerusalem. The reason for this is because all evil has been cast into the
chapter ends with the statement that only those whose names