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Keys to Revelation – chapter 21
AUTHOR: Capoccia, Tony
PUBLISHED ON: May 12, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN
PUBLISHED IN: Bible Studies

                          Keys to Revelation – Chapter 21

Taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York
International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

          BIBLE TEXT                                  COMMENTARY

REV 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven        [Then I saw] – This follows the Final
and a new earth, for the first            Judgment of the Wicked.  They were
heaven and the first earth had            all thrown into the Lake of Fire at
passed away, and there was no            the end of Chapter 20.
longer any sea. 
                                          [new heaven and a new earth] – The
                                          old heaven and earth were totally
                                          destroyed just prior to the Great
                                          White Throne Judgment (REV 20:12). 
                                          In 2PE 3:13  we had the promise of a
                                          new heaven and earth, “…in keeping
                                          with his promise we are looking
                                          forward to a new heaven and a new
                                          earth, the home of righteousness.”

                                          [first…had passed away] – This was
                                          prophesied in 2PE 3:10, “The heavens
                                          will disappear with a roar; the
                                          elements will be destroyed by fire,
                                          and the earth and everything in it
                                          will be laid bare.”  It is amazing
                                          that our original home is the earth
                                          and that we look forward to “going to
                                          heaven,” yet will someday return to
                                          the earth forever, but a new earth.

                                          [no longer any sea] – As John looked
                                          at the new earth, he was impressed
                                          with the fact that there was no
                                          longer any sea.  On the present earth
                                          the sea serves a number of purposes,
                                          one is to provide a source of food
                                          for mankind, another is to separate
                                          nations, thus hindering the process
                                          of a “one world and one language
                                          society” (GEN 11:1-9).  Lastly, the
                                          seas are critical to the evaporation
                                          process, providing clouds, rains,
                                          rivers, and springs. 

                                          On the new earth God provides all the
                                          nourishment the redeemed will need. 
                                          There will be no need for separation,
                                          in fact we will all live in the same
                                          city, billions of us!  Also, there
                                          will be no more cloudy, rainy days.

                                                     
REV 21:2  I saw the Holy City, the        [Holy City] – Jerusalem was God’s
new Jerusalem, coming down out of        Holy City, the place where He dwelt
heaven from God, prepared as a            in a special way, within the   
bride beautifully dressed for her        Tabernacle.  But because the Jews
husband.                                  rejected their Messiah, God then
                                          rejected their nation and the Holy 
                                          City.  Yet, God had prepared, up in 
                                          heaven, a new Jerusalem, the true   
                                          Holy City (GAL 4:26, HEB 12:22).   

                                          [coming down] – The glorious,
                                          dazzling city was slowly descending
                                          from the Third Heaven, much like a
                                          bride slowly coming down the aisle on
                                          her Wedding Day.  As we shall see in
                                          verse 10, the city is brilliant and
                                          transparent, like a large, jeweled
                                          diamond.

                                          [beautifully dressed] – The city’s
                                          dress is discussed in detail in REV
                                          21:18-21.

REV 21:3  And I heard a loud voice        [God is with men] – Although God has
from the throne saying, “Now the          visited the earth at various times in
dwelling of God is with men, and he      the O.T. and even, “lived for a while
will live with them. They will be        among us” (JOH 1:14), now we see that
his people, and God himself will be      He will live with man, in all of His
with them and be their God.              Glory and Splendor forever on the new
                                          earth.  For those who would advocate
                                          the existence of other intelligent
                                          beings from other parts of the
                                          universe, this verse says clearly,
                                          that there is only God and man,
                                          living on the Earth that was made
                                          exclusively for mankind. 

                                          God can and will dwell with man
                                          because we have been made pure and
                                          holy because of the shed blood of
                                          Jesus Christ.  He is ours and we are
                                          His for all of eternity with never a
                                          separation.  As Christians, we need
                                          to remember this truth.  When the
                                          trials and sufferings come, let us
                                          look forward to that sure day when
                                          Our Holy and Precious God will live
                                          visibly with us.

REV 21:4  He will wipe every tear        [wipe every tear] – the situations
from their eyes. There will be no        that caused these tears of sadness 
more death or mourning or crying or      have been eliminated, for there will
pain, for the old order of things        be no more death of man, woman, or
has passed away.”                        child.  There will be no more
                                          mourning the loss of loved ones, no
                                          more nights of crying, and no more
                                          suffering of pain.  These are
                                          promises to look forward to as we
                                          experience the trials and sufferings
                                          of this sin cursed earth.

REV 21:5  He who was seated on the        [He who was seated] – This is Our
throne said, “I am making                Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in all
everything new!” Then he said,            of His glory.  He identifies Himself
“Write this down, for these words        as the creator, “making everything
are trustworthy and true.”                new,” which agrees with COL 1:16-17.
                                          Further evidence of His identity
                                          comes in 21:6 when He says, “I am the
                                          Alpha and the Omega,”  for we see
                                          this same title proclaimed in REV
                                          22:13 by Jesus (REV 22:16).

                                          [everything new] – Think of the joy
                                          we experience with ‘new’ on this
                                          present earth.  It could be a new
                                          baby, a new job, a new house, a new
                                          car, a new discovery, etc.  But Jesus
                                          says, “everything on earth and in
                                          heaven will be made new.”  Jesus made
                                          each of us new at our rebirth in
                                          Christ and now literally does the
                                          same with the material universe.

                                          [Write this down] – John was given
                                          orders to write down what he sees in
                                          both REV 1:11 and 1:19, but here is
                                          reminded to write again in order to
                                          express the importance of these
                                          events.  These particular verses give
                                          the redeemed considerable hope in the
                                          future newness when they are facing
                                          the corruptness of this old sinful
                                          world.

REV 21:6  He said to me: “It is          [It is done] – Jesus spoke these same
done. I am the Alpha and the Omega,      words on the Cross of Calvary with
the Beginning and the End. To him        reference to salvation (JOH 19:30).
who is thirsty I will give to drink      Here, the words refer to the entire
without cost from the spring of the      redemptive plan for man to include
water of life.                            his environment.  Sin, death, and the
                                          curse are gone forever and now
                                          redeemed mankind is free to enjoy the
                                          glorious bliss of the presence of
                                          God.

                                          [Alpha and Omega] – The first and
                                          last letter of the Greek alphabet
                                          which reminds us that our Jesus is
                                          both the beginning and the end of all
                                          things.  He was in there when man’s
                                          history began (JOH 1:1) for he
                                          created man (COL 1:16).  There was
                                          never a time when Jesus did not exist
                                          for He always was.  Likewise, He will
                                          always be for He will continue to
                                          control all things forever in eterni
                                          ty.

                                          [drink without cost] – The reader of
                                          this Book of Revelation is again
                                          reminded of the offer of salvation. 
                                          While it is a free gift in that there
                                          is nothing we can pay to obtain it,
                                          there is a condition that we give all
                                          that we are to obtain it.  We must
                                          give up our sin and stubbornness
                                          against the things of God, by
                                          repenting of our sins and believing
                                          in Christ as we willing submit to His
                                          Lordship.

                                          [water of life] – A literal river
                                          that exists on the new earth (see REV
                                          22:1).

REV 21:7  He who overcomes will          [overcomes] – In order to become a
inherit all this, and I will be his      a Christian and have a home on the
God and he will be my son.                new earth one must overcome the world
                                          and the evil one (ROM 12:21, 1JO
                                          2:13; 5:4).  In our natural flesh we
                                          have no power to accomplish this, but
                                          the Holy Spirit tells us how, “Who is
                                          it that overcomes the world? Only he
                                          who believes that Jesus is the Son of
                                          God” (1JO 5:5).  This believing is
                                          not a mere intellectual assent of
                                          the truth about Jesus but a Holy
                                          Spirit led faith in Christ manifested
                                          by repentance and submission to the
                                          Lord of the Universe — Jesus Christ.

                                          [I will be His God] – A direct
                                          statement from Jesus that He is truly
                                          God.  Many false religions doubt the
                                          deity of Christ, but they can only do
                                          so by ignoring the clear teaching of
                                          the Word.

REV 21:8  But the cowardly, the          [But the…] – The overcomer is
unbelieving, the vile, the                contrasted against those who have not
murderers, the sexually immoral,          overcome the world and the evil one.
those who practice magic arts, the        Their condition and practices are
idolaters and all liars–their            listed and we should remember that
place will be in the fiery lake of        is what some of us were (1CO 6:11)
burning sulfur. This is the second        but we have been washed by the Blood
death.”                                  of Christ.

                                          [their place] – “They perish because
                                          they refused to love the truth and so
                                          be saved” (2CO 2:10).  This is what
                                          our end would have been except for
                                          the Grace of God through His elective
                                          choice.  They have been thrown into
                                          the fiery lake in REV 20:14-15.

                                          [second death] – See comments REV
                                          20:6.

REV 21:9  One of the seven angels        [One of the seven angels] – The seven
who had the seven bowls full of the      angels were introduced in REV 16 and
seven last plagues came and said to      as can be seen here minister God’s
me, “Come, I will show you the            judgment as well as His blessings.
bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 
                                          [bride] – The city of the New
                                          Jerusalem is referred to as the
                                          “bride” for it is occupied by people
                                          who are the bride of Christ.  In the
                                          N.T. the Church is referred to as the
                                          bride, likewise in the O.T. Israel is
                                          considered the wife of God.  Thus,
                                          the New Jerusalem consists of both
                                          Israel and the Church that are made
                                          one in Christ and collectively are
                                          the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.

REV 21:10  And he carried me away        [he carried] – The angel transported
in the Spirit to a mountain great        John to a vantage point where he
and high, and showed me the Holy          could get a good look at the city as
City, Jerusalem, coming down out of      it descended from the Third Heaven.
heaven from God.                          The city is still in a gradual
                                          descent that began in REV 21:2.  One
                                          might note that in REV 19:14 we the
                                          redeemed of God were visible on the
                                          pages of Scripture, riding on white
                                          horses.  Here in verse 10, we are
                                          also there in the scene, inside the
                                          city that is descending from Heaven.
                                          In fact, if John could look closely
                                          inside that lovely city he could see
                                          himself in there enjoying the joy of
                                          the Lord.

REV 21:11  It shone with the glory        [It shone] – Imagine a brilliant
of God, and its brilliance was like      crystal diamond flashing blazing
that of a very precious jewel, like      light everywhere.  I think of a
a jasper, clear as crystal.              very large chandelier that is
                                          ablaze with light, and imagine all
                                          colors that will be seen.

                                          [glory of God] – The light of the
                                          city comes from God (REV 21:23), for
                                          God is light (1JO 1:5).

REV 21:12  It had a great, high          [great, high wall] – The presence of
wall with twelve gates, and with          a wall is not to suggest that there
twelve angels at the gates. On the        is a need of security precautions in
gates were written the names of the      the eternal state.  In the minds of
twelve tribes of Israel.                  the peoples of John’s day, the ideal
                                          city would have the security of
                                          strong outer walls.  The wall will be
                                          a further reminder to God’s people
                                          that they are forever secure in
                                          Christ.

                                          [twelve gates] – There were three
                                          gates on each of the fours sides of
                                          the city (21:13), and each was named
                                          for one of the twelve tribes of
                                          Israel.  This gives evidence that we
                                          will maintain our present names as
                                          part of our future identification in
                                          heaven, for what would be the purpose
                                          of memorializing the names if the
                                          people no longer were identified with
                                          the designation.

                                          [twelve angels] – These are the gate-
                                          keepers.  Again there is no need of
                                          guards at the gates, but in the minds
                                          of the ancient peoples this added to
                                          the security of the city.  I like to
                                          think of these dear angels like the
                                          doorman at a very prestigious hotel
                                          that is there to greet and honor the
                                          residents.

REV 21:13  There were three gates        The city is laid out as a square and
on the east, three on the north,          we can come and go from any of the
three on the south and three on the      four sides.  The fact that there are
west.                                    gates would indicate that we will
                                          have the freedom to go out of the
                                          city to travel about the other parts
                                          of the new earth and the new heavens.

REV 21:14  The wall of the city had      [wall…had…twelve foundations] –
twelve foundations, and on them          There are twelve foundations, each
were the names of the twelve              layered upon the other.  On each
apostles of the Lamb.                    layer was inscribed the name of an
                                          Apostle.  Remember, that while God
                                          has chosen to honor these faithful
                                          servants, they were not greater than
                                          any other saint.  It was God who
                                          elected them for salvation and then
                                          called them for special service that
                                          He empowered them to do.

REV 21:15  The angel who talked          [rod of gold] – On the earth a ruler
with me had a measuring rod of gold      is made of wood, plastic, or a cheap
to measure the city, its gates and        metal, but in the new world a ruler
its walls.                                is made of gold.

REV 21:16  The city was laid out          [The city] – It is in the shape of a
like a square, as long as it was          cube whose length, width, and height
wide. He measured the city with the      are all equal.  This shape is similar
rod and found it to be 12,000            to the shape of the inner sanctuary
stadia in length, and as wide and        of the temple, the place of divine
high as it is long.                      presence (1KI 6:20).

                                          [12,000 stadia] – Roughly about 1,400
                                          miles.  Therefore, we are presented
                                          with the astounding fact that this
                                          city is 1,400 miles long, 1,400 miles
                                          wide, and an unbelievable 1,400 miles
                                          high!  Imagine this cube sitting on
                                          the Eastern part of the U.S., it
                                          would occupy a space from Kansas City
                                          to New York City, and from Chicago to
                                          Tampa.  And then jutting out into
                                          space for 1,400 miles.

REV 21:17  He measured its wall and      [144 cubits] – Approximately 200 feet
it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s        thick, which would again add to the
measurement, which the angel was          sense of security that the wall pro-
using.                                    vided.

REV 21:18  The wall was made of          [wall…of jasper] – This would be
jasper, and the city of pure gold,        of the same type of jasper found in
as pure as glass.                        21:11 that was as clear as crystal.

                                          [city of pure gold] – The city itself
                                          was made of a gold so pure that it
                                          was transparent as glass.  I picture
                                          a glass-like city that had a beauti
                                          ful golden hue.

REV 21:19  The foundations of the        [foundations decorated] – These were
city walls were decorated with            layered crystal clear jasper, that
every kind of precious stone. The        were overlaid with precious stones.
first foundation was jasper, the
second sapphire, the third                [first…jasper] – The first layer of
chalcedony, the fourth emerald,          foundation was simply covered with
                                          crystal clear diamond like gems.

                                          [second sapphire] – A deep blue
                                          transparent stone.

                                          [third chalcedony] – A sky-blue
                                          color.

                                          [fourth emerald] – This is a bright
                                          green stone.

REV 21:20  the fifth sardonyx, the        [fifth sardonyx] – A layered stone of
sixth carnelian, the seventh              red and white.
chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the
ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase,      [sixth carnelian] – This was a blood-
the eleventh jacinth, and the            red stone.
twelfth amethyst. 
                                          [seventh chrysolite] – A yellow
                                          stone.

                                          [eighth beryl] – This was a green
                                          stone ranging from transparent sea
                                          green to opaque blue.

                                          [ninth topaz] – A greenish yellow or
                                          gold stone.

                                          [tenth chrysoprase] – This is an
                                          apple green stone that is also highly
                                          translucent.

                                          [eleventh jacinth] – A bluish purple
                                          stone.

                                          [twelfth amethyst] – A stone that is
                                          a clear transparent purple or bluish
                                          violet.

REV 21:21  The twelve gates were          [twelve pearls] – Many have used the
twelve pearls, each gate made of a        term “Pearly Gate” and rightly so,
single pearl. The great street of        for each gate is made or covered with
the city was of pure gold, like          pearl.  Jesus,  who causes an oyster
transparent glass.                        to produce the tiny pearl could also
                                          create from nothing twelve pearls,
                                          each large enough to be formed into a
                                          gate.

                                          John MacArthur states, “Pearls are
                                          made by a little animal that has been
                                          wounded.  Without a wound, no pearl
                                          is formed…heaven is entered through
                                          the suffering and agony of the cross.
                                          The pearls we pass through are the
                                          pearls made by the wounded Christ. 
                                          No Calvary…no heaven!”

                                          [great street of the city] – This is
                                          the main street, as distinguished
                                          from all the many other streets of
                                          the city.

                                          [street…of pure gold] – On the
                                          earth today, our streets are made of
                                          base materials, such as, gravel,
                                          cement, tar, and asphalt.  In heaven
                                          the base materials used for walls and
                                          streets is a pure, transparent gold.

REV 21:22  I did not see a temple        [temple] – In the Old Testament the
in the city, because the Lord God        the temple was the place where the
Almighty and the Lamb are its            the people of God could draw near to
temple.                                  their God.  The word “temple” (Gr.
                                          naos) is the word used for the
                                          sanctuary, or God’s dwelling place,
                                          the Holies of Holies.  No longer is
                                          it necessary for a structure to exist
                                          for the Believers are now in the
                                          immediate presence of God.

REV 21:23  The city does not need        [does not need…sun or moon] – Every
the sun or the moon to shine on it,      indication is that there is no Sun or
for the glory of God gives it            Moon in the new heavens.  Their light
light, and the Lamb is its lamp.          would be overpowered by the glory of
                                          God.  God the Father and Jesus
                                          radiate a glorious light that will
                                          illuminate the transparent city of
                                          the New Jerusalem.  From the previous
                                          description of the construction of
                                          the city, it is truly designed to
                                          transmit light through the
                                          transparent walls and streets.

REV 21:24  The nations will walk by      [nations…kings] – This is a very
its light, and the kings of the          difficult statement to define. It
earth will bring their splendor          may be that the Saints will
into it.                                  actually reside in groups (nations)
                                          outside the New Jerusalem.  They
                                          could have some appointed over them
                                          as kings and this being part of the
                                          eternal reward.  All the residents of
                                          the new nations can and will go to
                                          the New Jerusalem to glory and honor
                                          God in His immediate presence and to
                                          enjoy the beauty and splendor of the
                                          city.

                                          I realize that this is only a guess
                                          at what might be meant in this verse.
                                          I do know that the God who put Adam
                                          and Eve in a garden also gave them
                                          purpose and function.  We can expect
                                          that God does have a plan for His
                                          redeemed for all of eternity.  We
                                          will not be sitting around the New
                                          Jerusalem forever with nothing to do.
                                          God will give us tasks and things to
                                          accomplish for His glory.

REV 21:25  On no day will its gates      [no night] – In the ancient days it
ever be shut, for there will be no        was necessary to close the gates of
night there.                              the city at night to keep the
                                          intruders out.  They like most
                                          sinners, do their evil deeds in the
                                          darkness of night.  But here in the
                                          New Jerusalem there is no need to
                                          ever shut the gate or to lock any
                                          doors for all the wicked are forever
                                          locked up in the Lake of Fire.

REV 21:26  The glory and honor of        See comments on REV 21:24
the nations will be brought into
it. 

REV 21:27  Nothing impure will ever      [only those] – Another statement of
enter it, nor will anyone who does        fact that only the redeemed saints
what is shameful or deceitful, but        are in the eternal state.  All of the
only those whose names are written        wicked have been forever sealed in
in the Lamb’s book of life.              the literal judgment of the Lake of
                                          Fire.

Tony Capoccia
BIBLE BULLETIN BOARD
Box 130
Shreveport, LA 71110
Modem (318) 949-1456
300/1200/2400/9600 Baud

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