And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Verse 1. - And I saw. The usual introduction to a new vision (cf. Revelation 20:11, etc.). Having described the origin and progress of evil in the world, the final overthrow of Satan and his adherents, and the judgment when every man is rewarded according to his works, the seer now completes the whole by portraying the eternal bliss of the redeemed in heaven (cf. on Revelation 20:10). The description is based upon Isaiah 60. and Ezekiel 40, et seq.; especially the latter, which follows the account of God and Magog, as does this. A new heaven and a new earth. The dispute as to whether a new creation is intended, or a revivified earth, seems to be founded on the false assumption that the dwellers in heaven must be localized in space (cf. Isaiah 65:17, "I create new heavens and a new earth;" also Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13). For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away. The Revisers follow B and others in reading ἀπῆλθον, and render it by the English perfect tense. In א, A, is read ἀπῆλθαν, while other manuscripts give ἀπῆλθεν and παρῆλθε. The first heaven and earth; that is, those now existing pass away as described in Revelation 20:11. And there was no more sea; and the sea no longer exists. The threefold division of heaven, earth, and sea represents the whole of this world (cf. Revelation 10:6). Some interpret the sea symbolically of the restless, unstable, wicked nations of the earth, which now exist no longer; others understand the absence of sea to typify the absence of instability and wickedness in the New Jerusalem.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Verse 2. - And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem. "John" must be omitted, according to all the best manuscripts. "The holy city" is the Church of God (see on Revelation 11:2), now glorified and prepared for perfect communion with her Redeemer (cf. the promise in Revelation 3:12, which is now fulfilled; cf. also Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10, 16). Contrast this figure of the holy city with that of Babylon (see on Revelation 18.). Coming down from God out of heaven. Connect "out of heaven" with "coming down." The same words occur in Revelation 3:12 (which see). Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Here is the contrast to the "harlot" (see on Revelation 17:1). Though many of those forming the bride are rewarded according to their works (see Revelation 20:13), yet their own works are insufficient to fit them for their future life; they are prepared by God. This appearance is anticipated in Revelation 19:7 (which see).
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Verse 3. - And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying. Out of the throne is read in א, A, and others; out of heaven is the reading of B, P, etc. As usual, the voice is described as a great voice (cf. Revelation 19:17, etc.). It is not stated from whom the voice proceeds, but comp. Revelation 20:11. Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them; literally, he shall tabernacle with them. Still the seer is influenced by the language of Ezekiel: "And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forevermore" (Ezekiel 37:28). Thus God makes his abode in his glorified Church - the New Jerusalem, among his spiritual Israel (cf. Revelation 7:15, where this vision has been already anticipated). And they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God; and they shall be his peoples, and himself shall be God with them, their God. The balance of authority is in favour of retaining the two last words, though they are omitted in א, B, and others. Evidently the same words as Ezekiel 37:27 (see above), "My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Cf. "God with them" with "Emmanuel" (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). Now, the promise is redeemed in all its fulness. The plural "peoples" seems to point to the catholic nature of the New Jerusalem, which embraces many nations (cf. ver. 24; also Revelation 7:9).
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Verse 4. - And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more (Revised Version). All tears; just as in Revelation 7:17 (cf. Isaiah 25:8, "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces;" cf. also Isaiah 65:19). There is "no more death" because sin is no mere (cf. Isaiah 51:11, "Sorrow and mourning shall flee away"), For the former things are passed away. Ὅτι, "for," should probably be omitted, as in A and P, and א as first written. The former state of things is the state now existing, which will then have passed away as described in ver. 1.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Verse 5 - And he that sat upon the throne said; that sitteth (cf. Revelation 20:11 and Matthew 25:31). Behold, I make all things new. As in ver. 1. So in Matthew 19:28, "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory," etc. And he said unto me, Write; and he saith, Write. Probably the angel (cf. Revelation 19:9; Revelation 14:13). The change from ε1FC0;πεν to λέγει, and the immediate return to εῖπεν, appear to indicate a change of speaker. For these words are true and faithful; faithful and true. So also in Revelation 19:9; Revelation 3:14, etc.
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Verse 6. - And he said unto me, It is done; and he said unto me, They are come to pass (Revised Version). It is uncertain what is the nominative intended. It may be the "words" just mentioned; or the incidents described in vers. 1-5; or the Divine promises and judgments in general. The analogy of Revelation 16:17 supports the last, but it is not conclusive. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End; the Alpha and the Omega. As the book opens, so it closes, with the solemn assurance of the certainty and unchangeableness of God's eternal promises (cf. Revelation 1:8; Revelation 22:13). The second clause interprets the first; a third form of expressing the same idea occurs in Revelation 22:13, "the First and the Last." I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. The same ideas are repeated in Revelation 22:13-17. Again the symbolism of the prophet (cf. ver. 3). There is also another reminiscence of Revelation 7:17 (cf. also ver. 4 of this chapter). In exactly the same sense the words, "living water," are used in John 4:10 (cf. also Matthew 5:6, "thirst after righteousness").
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Verse 7. - He that overcometh shall inherit all things. The correct reading makes the sense plain: He that overcometh shall inherit these things, i.e. the promises just enumerated. These words show the reason for the words of ver. 6; and may be called the text on which the Apocalypse is based (cf. Revelation 2.); for, though the words themselves do not often recur, yet the spirit of them is constantly appearing (cf. Revelation 12:11; see also John 16:33). And I will be his God, and he shall be my son (cf. Leviticus 26:12, "And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people"). Some have thought that these words prove the Speaker to be God the Father; but it is impossible to separate the Persons of the Blessed Trinity in these chapters. This promise, first made to David concerning Solomon (2 Samuel 7:14), received its mystical fulfilment in Christ (Hebrews 1:5), and is now fulfilled in the members of Christ (Alford).
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Verse 8. - But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death; but for the fearful, etc. The construction is changed in the middle of the verse. The fearful are those who, through cowardice, have not overcome (cf. ver. 7). Abominable; those defiled with abominations (cf. Revelation 17:4). And murderers, and fornicators (cf. Revelation 14:4; Revelation 17:1, 2). And sorcerers (cf. Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23); those who deceived the heathen. And idolaters; the heathen who were deceived by them. All liars; all who are false in any way. Their part is in the lake, etc. (see on Revelation 20:10). These took no part in the first, spiritual, resurrection (Revelation 20:6); they now, therefore, inherit "the second death."
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
Verse 9. - And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues. Omit "unto me." "Full of" must be connected with "angels." Just as these angels had carried out God's judgments upon the ungodly, and one of them had exhibited the judgment of the harlot (Revelation 17:1), so now one of them shows the picture of the bliss of the faithful - the bride of the Lamb. And talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife; hither (omitting "come"). The wording of this verse (except the last phrase) is almost identical with Revelation 17:1. The last phrase is the great contrast to the former chapter. In Revelation 17. I was seen a picture of a harlot, the unfaithful part of Christ's Church; here we have a description of those who have been "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10), and whose purity and faithfulness are symbolized under the figure of the "wife of the Lamb" (see on Revelation 17:1).
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
Verse 10. - And he carried me away in the Spirit (so also in Revelation 17:3; cf. Revelation 1:10) to a great and high mountain. From which a clear view of "the city" might be obtained (cf. Ezekiel 40:2). The preposition ἐπί implies "on to." And showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God; showed me the holy city Jerusalem; not great, which is the title of Babylon (cf. Revelation 16:19). Just as the harlot, signifying faithless Christians, was identified with Babylon, the world city (see on Revelation 18.), so the bride, the faithful portion of Christ's flock, is merged in Jerusalem, the heavenly city. Coming down, etc. (cf. ver. 2).
Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
Verse 11. - Having the glory of God. That is, the abiding presence of God, as the Shechinah (cf. Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:11. Cf. also ver. 3, supra). And her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; as it were a jasper stone (Revised Version). This light is again alluded to in ver. 23. The jasper probably represents the modern diamond (see on Revelation 4:3). The brilliant light which illumines the city is the characteristic of "him that sat on the throne" (Revelation 4:3).
And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
Verse 12. - And had a wall great and high; having a wall. Omit each introductory "and." The wall is a type of the absolute security of the heavenly city; not that any further assault is expected. In Ezekiel 38:11 Gog and Magog prey upon the unwalled villages. And had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (cf. the description in Ezekiel 48.). Twelve; as signifying completeness (cf. Revelation 4:9; Revelation 7:4-8), and as being the number of the tribes of Israel, which are the type of the spiritual Israel of God. Gates; rather, portals. The picture of the angels placed at the portals, still fulfilling their mission as guardians of men, shows the absolute security of the city. The names are written thereon: as on the stones of the ephod (Exodus 28:9) and breastplate (Exodus 39:14). Contrast the names of blasphemy (Revelation 18:3).
On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
Verse 13. - On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. The following are the dispositions of the tribes in the Old Testament: - Order in Numbers 2. East -
Zebulun. North -
Naphtali. South -
Gad. West -
Order in Ezekiel 49:30. East -
Dan. North -
Levi. South -
Zebulon. West -
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Verse 14. - And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; and on them twelve names, etc. (cf. Ephesians 2:20). The imagery is, of course, symbolical, and there can, therefore, be no question as to individual names of apostles, e.g. whether St. Matthias or St. Paul is the twelfth. Some writers have, without sufficient reason, brought forward this verse as indicating that the writer of the Apocalypse was not an apostle.
And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
Verse 15. - And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof; had for a measure a golden reed to measure, etc. "He that spake" is the angel of ver. 9 (cf. the action of Revelation 11:1; and Ezekiel 40:3, 5; Ezekiel 42:15, et seq.). Here the measuring is evidently to indicate the large extent of the city (see on Revelation 11:1). The reed is golden, as being the typical heavenly material.
And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
Verse 16. - And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth. The shape is doubtless typical of that which is complete and symmetrical, to which nothing is wanting to render the shape perfect. The word τετράγωνος, "foursquare," is thus used by Greek philosophic writers. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. That is, in each direction. (On στάδιον, "furlong," see Revelation 14:20.) The number twelve thousand, which is the number of the sealed in each tribe (Revelation 7.), is typical of
(1) a large number,
(2) a complete number (see on ver. 12).
There seems to be in this description a designed reference to the literal Babylon (see Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' art. "Babylon"). The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. The plain meaning seems to be that the city forms a vast cube, and this is typical of its perfect nature. The account given is that of a vision, and not of a reality, and therefore there is no need to attempt to reduce the enormous dimensions given here, as is done by some writers. The holy of holies was thus cubical in shape (1 Kings 6:20).
And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
Verse 17. - And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits. (For the signification of the number, see on Revelation 7:4.) The parallel between the shape of the city as just related and the holy of holies (vide supra) almost seems to have insensibly suggested the transition from stadia to cubits. The discrepancy between the height of the city, which is twelve thousand furlongs (ver. 16), and the height of the wall, which is a hundred and forty-four cubits, has led to the suggestion that in the height of the city is included the hill on which it stands (Alford). Others understand that the wall is purposely described as of small height, because the writer wishes to indicate that "the most inconsiderable wall is sufficient to exclude all that is impure" (Dusterdieck). According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel; of an angel. That is, the measure here used by the angel is that used by men (cf. "the number of a man," Revelation 13:18).
And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
Verse 18. - And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass; pure glass. The exceeding brightness and purity is the idea contained in both expressions - the light of ver. 11, which is there associated with jasper and crystal. (On "jasper," see on ver. 11 and Revelation 4:3.) The whole description is, of course, typical, not literal.
And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
Verse 19. - And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. Omit "and" (cf. Isaiah 54:12, "All thy borders of pleasant stones"). Foundations (cf. ver. 14). The first foundation was jasper. Probably the diamond (see on Revelation 4:3). The second, sapphire. Thought to be the modern lapis lazuli. It was of a clear blue colour (Exodus 24:10), and very precious (Job 28:16). The third, a chalcedony. Not the modern stone of that name, but a green carbonate of copper, found in the mines of Chalcedon. It was, therefore, a kind of inferior emerald. The fourth, an emerald. The same as the modern stone (cf. Revelation 4:3).
The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
Verse 20. - The fifth, sardonyx. A variety of agate - a kind of onyx, valued for its use in engraving into cameos. The name onyx appears to be owing to the resemblance in colour to the fingernails. The sixth, sardius. Probably the modern carnelian (see on Revelation 4:3). The seventh, chrysolyte. A variety of the gem of which that called topaz (the ninth stone) is another kind. This species contained a considerable amount of yellow colour, whence the name "golden stone." It has been suggested that it is identical with the modern jacinth or amber. The eighth, beryl. A variety of emerald, of less decided green shade than the pure emerald. The ninth, a topaz. Not the modern topaz, but a variety of chrysolite (see the seventh stone, supra), of a yellowish-green colour, the latter predominating. The tenth, a chrysoprasus. The name "golden leek green" appears to point to a species of beryl, and the modern aquamarine. It is thus probably a variety of emerald, being of a yellowish pale green hue. The eleventh, a jacinth. "A red variety of zircon, which is found in square prisms, of a white, grey, red, reddish brown, yellow, or pale green colour" (Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible'). "The sapphire of the moderns" (King). The twelfth, an amethyst. A purple stone, possibly the common amethyst.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
Verse 21. - And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl. The pearl was known to the ancients from the earliest times, and was always held in high honour by them (cf. Revelation 17:4). And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass (cf. ver. 18). The brilliancy was so far beyond ordinary gold as to make it apparently transparent like glass. "The street" is not merely one street, but the whole collective material of which the streets are composed.
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
Verse 22. - And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. No ναός, "inner shrine," or "sanctuary" (cf. Revelation 7:15). The whole city is now the ναός (cf. on vers. 16, 17, where the shape of the city is that of the holy of holies). The presence of God pervades all the city (cf. ver. 11); all the redeemed are within the sanctuary, all are now priests (cf. Revelation 20:6). There is, therefore, no ναός, or "temple," within the city, for the whole city itself is the temple. The Object of all worship and the great Sacrifice are there (Alford).
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Verse 23. - And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; hath no need. So Isaiah 60:19, 20, "The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting Light, and thy God thy Glory." For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof. The glory of God (cf. ver. 11). No distinction is to be made between God and the Lamb; both are the Light (cf. John 1:5).
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
Verse 24. - And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and the nations shall walk by means of her light. Omit "of them which are saved." The description, following that of Isaiah, makes use of earthly symbolism; but it is not, therefore, to be supposed (as Afford) that there will be hereafter a real earth with inhabitants. "The nations" are the redeemed, described in this way on account of their selection from every "kindred, and nation, and tribe, and tongue" (Revelation 7:9): not the wicked nations of Revelation 16:19. Though the Authorized Version is probably incorrect in inserting "of them which are saved," yet these words appear to give the correct sense of the passage. The description is evidently still founded on the prophetical writings, "And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Isaiah 60:3). And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. Omit "and honour," according to א, A, P, and others. Not that there are literal kings and earth. The language is intended to convey an idea of God's supreme glory and unquestioned authority. There are now no kings to dispute his sway. Instead, all join in promoting his glory.
And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
Verse 25. - And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. The Revised Version correctly places the last clause in parentheses. The meaning is: The gates shall never be shut, either by day or night; but it is superfluous to say, "by night," for there is no night there. Some commentators think the open gates are a sign of perfect security; others, that they are open to admit the nations, as described in the following verse. Both ideas may well be understood.
And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
Verse 26. - And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it; that is, the glory and the honour of the nations shall be brought into it. The verb is used impersonally, as in Revelation 10:11 and many other places. A repetition of ver. 24 (vide supra).
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Verse 27. - And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; anything unclean, or he that doeth an abomination, and a lie. It is thus evident that "the nations" of ver. 24 are among the redeemed (cf. Isaiah 52:1, "O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean"). The lot of such as are here described is the lake of fire (ver. 8); cf. the "abomination" of the harlot (Revelation 17:4, 5). (On "lie," cf. Revelation 2:2; Revelation 3:9. "Unclean, cf. Revelation 3:4; Revelation 14:4.) But they which are written in the Lamb's book of life; but only they, etc. (cf. Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12, 15).