There are three paragraphs in chapter 21: The description of the eternal state, verses 1-5; The citizens of the eternal state, verses 6-8; The capital of the eternal state, verses 9-27 and 22:1-5.
In verse 1 we have noted the new heavens and new earth, the new universe. With this we understand that there are three universes in history.
1. The first one was the Angelic Universe, (Gen 1:1; 2 Peter 3:5), the one which included planet earth prior to its restoration and the creation of mankind. (Many of the things that have been dug up, called dinosaurs, etc., simply belong to the first universe, the angelic universe.)
2. Secondly, we have the Universe of Mankind, (Gen 1:3-31; 2 Peter 3:7), the universe of human history, which we are currently apart of and will continue through the Tribulation and Millennium.
3. Then there will be the third universe, the creation of new heavens and a new earth which will be the Universe of the Eternal State, (Rev 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13). This is the one we are studying which includes the New Jerusalem.
This is not the Jerusalem of the present time or of the Millennium, but is the satellite city which will be suspended above the earth. In the eternal state the New Jerusalem is suspended in the sky above the sight of the original Jerusalem but it is a much larger city.
In eternity the New Jerusalem fulfills several important functions. First of all it will be the capital of the new universe of the eternal state and the residence of our Lord Jesus Christ. It also fulfills the divine promise to Abraham which is given in Heb 11:8-10, 13-16.
Abraham lived in the future, knowing that he would have this great city. His testimony to the fact that this would be his city is the fact that he continued to live in a tent during his life.
Then in Heb 12:22 we once again have a reference to that city, “But you have come to Mount Zion, even the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the millions of angels.”
Difference between the Jerusalem of the Millennium and the New Jerusalem of the eternal state.
1. The Jerusalem of the Millennium is located around the present site; the New Jerusalem in the eternal state is a satellite above the earth.
2. In the Millennial Jerusalem there is natural light; in the eternal Jerusalem there is supernatural light, the Shekinah glory, Rev 21:23.
3. The Millennial Jerusalem has no walls, Zech 2:4-5, but the eternal Jerusalem has very high walls, Rev 21:17.
4. There is a temple in the Millennial Jerusalem; there is no temple in the eternal Jerusalem (Rev 21:22), the Shekinah Glory who now indwells the believer as the Lord Jesus Christ will function as the temple.
5. In the Millennial Jerusalem there are animal sacrifices mentioned, Ezek 40-48; there are no animal sacrifices in the eternal state.
6. Living water comes from the temple, according to Ezek 47:1; in the Eternal Jerusalem the Water of Life comes out from the throne of God in Rev 22:1.
7. Unbelievers live in the city of Jerusalem in the Millennium, Zech 12:6; 14:11; only believers live in the city in the Eternal State, Rev 21:4, 7; 22:14.
8. There are trees for food and healing in the Millennial city of Jerusalem, Ezek 47:7-12; there is the Tree of Life in the eternal Jerusalem, Rev 22:2.
Then in verse 2 we have an analogy of the New Jerusalem. When it says, “As a bride”, “as” is the Comparative Conjunction of Analogy, that is, the Particle of Comparison HOS, it simply means this is an illustration, nothing more, nothing less. This is not the literal bride of Christ. This carries through to verse 9 where is says, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” It is simply an analogy. Then when it says, “For her husband” this is a reference to its inspiring beauty; the sheer beauty of the holy city, the New Jerusalem.
In Verse 3 we see that that Lord Jesus Christ, “the tabernacle of God”, dwells among us for all of eternity, Rev 7:15; Ezek 37:27; Zech 2:10; 8:8.
Ezek 37:27, “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.”
This is the same Shekinah Glory that dwelled in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle of Israel during the Jewish Dispensation, Ex 40:8, who also during the Church Age permanently indwells the soul of every believer, 1 Cor 3:16; 2 Cor 6:16; John 14:20; 2 Cor 13:4-6; Rom 8:10; Col 1:27; Gal 2:20.
In verse 4, we see that there will be no more tears, death, or sorrow. All of these came into the world through sin, Gen 3, but now the curse is removed, Rev 22:3.
The Predictive Future of EXALEIPHO, (to wipe away or out, obliterate, remove, cancel, destroy, etc.), anticipates the eternal state. The Active Voice: Jesus Christ produces the action of the verb, which is the abolition of all human suffering. Suffering is obliterated. The Indicative Mood is declarative of the reality. There will be no suffering forever and ever and ever.
Tears are associated with sorrow, suffering, pain, disaster, discomfort, all of which does not exist in the eternal state for the believer in Christ. The believer will never suffer again in the eternal state. This phrase means that the past is blotted out.
Tears not only refer to actual pain but tears refer to regret. All types of suffering are going to be removed in the eternal state and there will be no remorse, no regrets, and no sadness.
Not only is suffering abolished in the eternal state but so is physical death. Physical death is a subject of fear and uncertainty, and often pain, in this life. For the average person, death is one of the most feared of all experiences in life, but for the believer death is simply a transfer from time to eternity, from planet earth to heaven. The eternal state abolishes physical death for all mankind, both the unbeliever in the Lake of Fire and the believer in heaven.
“No more death” refers to the believer in the eternal state. Remember, the unbeliever is under the punishment of the second death. For the winner believer death is one of the greatest blessings in life, it is not something to be feared.
The final three sorrows, (mourning, crying and pain), are different aspects of suffering and of anguish. It should be translated: “Neither mourning, (mental pain of sadness, grief, sorrow), nor crying, (the manifestation of pain in this case), nor pain (meaning physical pain).”
Rev 21:4, “And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; furthermore death shall no longer exist, neither shall there be any longer mental anguish, nor crying, nor physical pain: because the old order of things has passed away.”
See also Isa 65:17-19, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. 18But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. 19I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying.”
Then in verse 5, “I make all things new”, we see that in addition to the newness for people of a resurrection body, we have the newness of the universe, the new heavens and the new earth, the New Jerusalem, as well as a new way of life; living in complete and total happiness (+H) in the righteousness of God (+R), which we have noted,
Next in verse 6 we have a change of subject to the citizens of the eternal state. Who is the number one citizen? The Lord Jesus Christ – “the Alpha and the Omega”, (the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet).
The phrase “it is done” is the Perfect Tense of GINOMAI that means, “come into being, to happen, to become.” It is a reference to human history. Human history is completed at the end of the Millennium with the result that the eternal state begins. The process of the extension of the Angelic Conflict to human history has been completed. History has been completed; everything in God’s Divine decrees has run its course, with the result that the eternal state has begun. The creation of the New Heavens and New Earth and the New Jerusalem begins the eternal state.
“It is done!” parallels Christ’s “It is finished!” of John 19:30. This gives us an interesting comparison of the Cross. Just as salvation was completed on the Cross, TETELESTAI – the Dramatic Perfect Tense of TELEO that means “to bring to an end, complete, fulfill” – so human history is completed with the creation of the new universe by The Lord Jesus Christ, including new heavens, a new earth, and a New Jerusalem with the Dramatic Perfect Tense of GINOMAI, “It is done!”
a. The power of the first citizen is contemplated here in the principle that Jesus Christ not only controls history but Jesus Christ completes history.
b. Therefore, at the Cross our Lord said “It is brought to an end” regarding sin’s hold over mankind, and in Rev 21:6 He says, “it begins”, regarding the eternal state where only righteous dwells.
Then we have, “I am the ALPHA and OMEGA.” The term “Alpha”, (first), signifies our Lord’s deity, while “Omega”, (figuratively meaning the finality), signifies His humanity as the “last Adam”, 1 Cor 15:4, which literally means “the last man.” So we see our Lord in hypostatic union. As God He controls history, as man He completes history including the payment for the penalty of our sins upon the Cross. He also used this term at the beginning of the book of Revelation, chapter 1:8 and at the end of the book, chapter 22:13, cf. Isa 44:6.
Then we have the “beginning and the end”, which is a double emphasis here that speaks of our Lord as existing prior to the creation of mankind as well as bringing a close to the history of mankind. The same Lord who started creation, Rev 3:14, will also finish it; He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
Finally in verse 6 we have a salvation parenthesis, “I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of Water of Life without cost.”
This is the grace policy of the first citizen of the eternal state, the first citizen of the New Jerusalem. This salvation parenthesis or grace policy of our Lord Jesus Christ is noted in other passages, such as Isa 55:1; John 4:13-14; Rev 7:17; 21:6; 22:17. In each case being thirsty is the desire for eternal salvation. In each case of drinking the Water of Life we have an analogy in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. When the Water of Life is presented through the gospel the thirsty one drinks. This is analogous to faith in Christ. If you have positive volition toward Jesus Christ God will provide. Never is there an exception. This seems to be a paraphrase of Isa 55:1, (read Isa 55:1-13).
In verse 7 we have the eternal promise of the believer’s inheritance. For the overcomer, (here the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ), will inherent the eternal life mentioned in verse 6, (i.e., Water of Life).
In addition, Jesus Christ is said to be the heir of all things, Heb 1:1-2. Because He is appointed the heir of all things and we have personally believed in Him, and God the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation entered us into union with Christ, we are joint heirs to all things.
Heirship is based on personal faith in Christ not our works, Titus 3:2-7; 1 John 5:4-5. We are the heirs of eternal life right now; in the future we will enjoy the eternal state.
Heirship is based on sonship, we are heirs because we are the children of God, Rom 8:16-17. Eph 1:10-14.
Rom 8:16, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
In verse 8 we see that the eternal state excludes all unbelievers. Some people will not enter this new creation. They are the fearful, or the cowards who would not confess Christ; those who would not believe in Christ; those who “went along with the crowd” and practiced sin.
Note that God puts “cowards” at the head of the list! When people are afraid to take a stand for Christ, they are liable to commit any kind of sin as a result.
What we have listed in verse 8 is a list of sins that we as believers can also commit now. These sins are mentioned not because they are the only sins and not because these sins mean you are going to hell. They are mentioned because they represent categories of sins that are distracters to believing in Christ, distracters to the function of common grace. This categorical list emphasizes the fact that sin and evil are a distraction.
There are six categories in this list, which is also repeated in Rev 22:15. The point is, when people have the chance to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, they fail to believe in Christ because they are distracted at the point of common grace by these types of life style. In other words, the system of norms and standards that they represent are far more important to the unbeliever than is the Savior, Jesus Christ. The priorities assigned to these sins are far greater in the thinking of the unbeliever than the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, they are called “cowardly (DEILOS) even unbelieving (APISTOS)” which literally means they have lost touch with reality, (compare with Mat 8:26; Mark 4:40 and 2 Cor 4:4; Titus 1:15), and have been distracted at the point of common grace from accepting Christ as savior.
The list of distractions includes:
1. “Abominable” – (BDELUSSO [bdel-oos’-so]), it means, “to detest” or literally, “to throw up.” It does not actually mean to vomit; it means to see someone who makes you want to vomit mentally, that is, those who are “vile or corrupt”. Metaphorically it means, “to abhor or detest.” Therefore we call that “loathsome, abominable, detestable, unpleasant, and disagreeable.” Compare with Rom 2:22 – “abhor.”
What kind of an unbeliever would be detestable to a grace oriented born-again believer. The answer is a self-righteous, legalistic, arrogant individual, which is the motivation for many systems of evil as well as many systems of human good which are vile or corrupt compared to the grace plan of God. Self-righteous arrogance is a great distracter from the gospel when it is heard.
2. “Murderers” – (PHONEUS), also in Acts 7:52, that means homicide; this type has no respect for life from criminal arrogance.
3. “Immoral Persons” – (PORNOS), fornicators; they are so preoccupied with sex that they turn down the gospel, compare with 1 Cor 5:9-11; 6:9-10; Eph 5:5; Heb 12:16.
4. “Sorcerers” – (PHARMAKOS, only used here and 22:15. See also Rev 9:21, Gal 5:19-21. Compare with Malachi 3:5), drug addiction; those who have put drugs, which includes alcohol, as their number one priority. They are unable to comprehend the gospel and therefore the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in common grace. The convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit passes them right by.
5. “Idolaters” – (EIDOLOLATRES) 1 Cor 5:10-11; 6:9; 10:7; Eph 5:5. It means false religions, demonism, the phallic cult, etc. This is any form of false god religion or worship. Due to their saturation of false doctrines and false worship they reject the gospel when it is presented to them.
6. “Liars” – (PSEUDES), Rev 2:2, pathological liars; they are never associated in any way with reality and therefore cannot face the reality of the eternal state.
So this is a list of categories of sins that so preoccupy the unbeliever that they never come to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are in that lake that burns continually with fire and sulfur. They are unbelievers, they have rejected Christ as Savior, they were distracted by certain sins listed here. This is the Second Death and that means no chance in eternity.
That concludes the second paragraph of this passage which identifies who and who will not participate in the New Jerusalem. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the first citizen of the New Jerusalem; believers are also its citizens. Then we saw that unbelievers will not participate in the New Jerusalem or eternity with God, rather theirs is the lake that burns with fire and sulfur for all eternity, which is the second Death.
The third paragraph then focuses primarily on describing the New Jerusalem.
In verse 9 we begin the description of the New Jerusalem that runs all the way through chapter 22 verse 5.
The fact that the New Jerusalem is not said to be created at this time but, rather, “comes down out of heaven from God”, vs. 2, may imply that it was in existence in the previous period, that is, in the Millennial kingdom.
As millennial passages make clear, there will be no gigantic city such as the New Jerusalem on earth or above the earth in the millennial period, which speaks of the 1st heaven. Therefore, if it is in existence at that time, it must be either in the 2nd heaven, (the stellar universe beyond the atmosphere of planet earth), or the 3rd heaven, which is outside of the universe. Therefore it if be in existence prior to the creation of the New Heavens and the New Earth, the 3rd heaven is the most probable.
In addition, if created prior to the creation of the New Heavens and New Earth, though the Bible does not comment on this, it is possible that the New Jerusalem will be the abode of saints of all ages with resurrected bodies at that time, cf. Heb 12:23, as well as the holy angels.
In verses 9-11 we have already noted that the description of the city “as a bride” in vs. 3 is simply an analogy of its beauty. It is not the literal bride of Christ who is the church as noted in John 3:29; Eph 5:22-32; and Rev 19:7-8.
Three reasons why it is called the bride:
1. A bride is generally considered beautiful and therefore we have the emphasis on the beauty of the city.
2. It emphasizes the light of the city, and this is analogous to the animation of the bride.
3. It emphasizes the relationship of the city. The satellite city is headquarters of the eternal state and a bride always connotes the concept of relationship. Our Lord and this city will have a close and intimate relationship.
We should note one thing in these verses and that is that in the eternal state the only precious metal that seems to carry over is gold, and the precious gems mentioned are not the same as ones today. In analogy this is as close as you can come. All of the building materials in it are quite different from anything that we have today. The glory of the New Jerusalem must have been breathtaking as John contemplated it and realized that this was going to be his home throughout eternity.
In verse 12 the “twelve angels at the gates,” are an honor guard from the angelic order of battle. They are a memorial to our Lord’s victory in the Angelic Conflict.
Verse 13, there are three gates on each side. The directions of north, south, east, and west imply that the earth, as it is today, is round. Gates in the city imply that there is entrance into the city from without and from all directions.
Noting the order of all twelve tribes of Israel as God arrayed them around the Tabernacle in the wilderness in Numbers 2, and seeing them arraigned by their groupings of East, North, South and West as the Gates of the New Jerusalem in Rev 21:13, the order of the 12 Tribes is then:
1) “On the east side” Judah, Issachar, Zebulun.
2) “On the north side” Dan, Asher, Naphtali.
3) “On the south side,” Reuben, Simeon, Gad.
4) “On the west side,” Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin.
Comparing the order with the meaning of each name we have:
East Side Gates: Judah means, “Praise Yahweh”; Issachar means, “A man for hire/recompense, (i.e., worked to purchase our sins)”; Zebulun means, “Elevated/Exalted Dwelling.”
North Side Gates: Dan means, “A Judge”; Asher means, “Happy – one”; Naphtali means, “My Wrestler/ing”
South Side Gates: Reuben means, “Behold a Son”; Simeon means, “Heard, (as in our prayers)”; Gad means, “Good fortune, (as in blessings)”
West Side Gates: Ephraim means, “He shall be Doubly Fruitful”; Manasseh means, “Causing to forget”; Benjamin means, “Son of the right hand”
Arranging them as such the code or message on the Gates of the New Jerusalem will be:
East Side Gates: “Praise Yahweh (the Lord Jesus Christ), a man for hire (worked to purchase our sins), He is our exalted dwelling place.”
North Side Gates: “The Judge, who brings happiness, as a result of the wrestling (the righteousness and justice of God).
South Side Gates: “Behold a son, who hears (our advocate in prayers and petitions), and of good fortune (answers our prayers).”
West Side Gates: “He is of Double fruitfulness (the God / Man), causing to forget (our sins and pains, Rev 21:4), He is the Son of My right hand.”
Since the actual order is not given to us in Rev 21 the order may otherwise be that of the order given to the Jerusalem of the Millennium in Ezek 48:30-34.
1) The East gates of Joseph, (adding (another son, Gen 30:24.), Benjamin, and Dan.
2) The North gates of Reuben, Judah, and Levi, (A joining (Hypostatic Union).
3) The South gates of Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun.
4) The West gates of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali
East Side Gates: “Adding (a son – humanity), He is the Son of My right hand, the Judge.”
North Side Gates: “Behold My Son, Praise Yahweh, in a joining (in Hypostatic Union).”
South Side Gates: “I Heard, (as in our prayers), (and sent) a man for hire/recompense, (i.e., worked to purchase our sins), therefore He is the exalted dwelling place.”
West Side Gates: “Good fortune, (as in blessings), He is the happy one, My Wrestler (righteous one).”
In verse 14 the wall of the city has twelve foundation stones. On these stones would be the names of Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaeus, Simon and Paul. Paul is the twelfth apostle, according to 1 Cor 15:7-10. There is no order given here. See our study on the 12 Apostles for the various codes noted there based on the various listings of the apostles in the New Testament.
Vs. 15-16, “Fifteen hundred miles” is literally 12 thousand STADION. A “STADION” is equivalent to approximately 607 feet. 12,000 x 607 = 7,284,000ft. / 5,280ft. per mile = 1,380 miles.
Symbolically the wall indicates exclusion of those who are not worthy to enter the city, of which are noted in vs. 8, 27 and 22:15 as unbelievers.
We see that the number “twelve” is prominent in the New Jerusalem. It has twelve gates and twelve angels in keeping with the twelve tribes of Israel, vs. 12, twelve foundations, vs. 14, twelve apostles, vs. 14, twelve pearls, vs. 21, twelve crops of fruit, chapter 22:2, the length of the walls is 12 thousand STADION and the height of the walls is 144 PECHUS “cubits” or 12 x 12 cubits.
Twelve in scripture means, perfection of government, and the New Jerusalem is the headquarters of the eternal perfect government of our Lord.
Vs 17, God always stays with our concepts of measuring in communicating measurements. While the angel did the measuring he used a human standard of measure. This would imply that angels have a different measuring system from mankind. This passage is for mankind, therefore man’s standards and man’s measurements are used.
When it says, “according to human measurements,” this seems to be added in order to prevent any mistake as to the size of the city. It is an “angel” who makes the measurement, and without this explanation it might perhaps be supposed that he used some measure not in common use among people, so that, after all, it would be impossible to form any definite idea of the size of the city.
The Greek reads – METRON ANTHROPOU which means, “measure of man”, and – HO, (from HOS), ESTIN AGGELOU is “which is of the angel.”
The NIV says it better, “by man’s measurement, which the angel was using.” Though an angel is using the rod, he is using human dimensions.
When it says, “which are also angelic measurements,” Note that the words “also” and “measurements” are in italic, which means they are not in the original text. It should read, “which is of the angel,” that is, “which is the measure employed by the angel.” It was, indeed, an angel who measured the city, but the measure which he employed was that in common use among people.
Here the measurement is 144 cubits, or 12 x 12, maybe for the symbolism of the 12 tribes multiplied by the 12 apostles to note God’s perfect Government. As noted above the number 12 stands for the perfect government of our Lord in the New Jerusalem and for all of eternity.
A Cubit is between 16 and 18 inches or a foot and a half. Therefore, 144 cubits x 1.5ft = 216 feet divide by 3 ft per yard = 72 yards or about three quarters of the length of a football field. That’s how high the walls will be.
The walls are not too high compared to other great cities like Babylon which according to Herodotus was 340 feet high.
The height mentioned here gives the idea of the security all believers will have in eternity; and yet the walls are not so high as to hinder the view of the rest of the city, as the city towers 1,500 miles high. Its glory, therefore, would not be obscured by the wall that was thrown around it for defense.
In verses 18-21, we have the construction materials of the satellite city.
Vs 18, The Jasper is more like a diamond without flaws. The gold is not the gold of the universe today; it is the gold of the universe of the future. The gold of the future will be so pure that it will be translucent.
Vs. 19-20, The twelve foundations are described as being composed of various precious stones, each of which is a study in itself. Each stone is a unique gem and color, Rev 21:14, 19-20. This gives us correlation to the Ephod worn by the High Priest in the Age of Israel, Ex 28:17-20. The Ephod had twelve gems, each representing a tribe of Israel. In essence this is the Ephod Jesus adorns in the eternal state as our eternal Royal High Priest.
Interestingly, the names of apostles will be on these stones where the tribe names are on the gates, perphaps indicating the intertwining of the peoples of the new city, Jew and Gentile alike.
In addition, all of these inscriptions are permanent therefore they have spiritual connotation speaking to the permanency of our place and rewards in the eternal state.
The Apostles are the foundation stones, as Christ is the corner stone of the Church which we stand as today, Eph 2:20 with Psa 118:22, Mat 21:42, etc.
Eph 2:19, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
Notice also the correlation with 1 Cor 3:10-15.
1 Cor 3:10, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
As such many will be greatly rewarded in the eternal state.
Though in some cases we can not be sure concerning the exact color of the stones described; the general picture provided is one of brilliant color with every shade of the rainbow represented and all of it enhanced by the glory of God. All of these are merely approximations, for in the eternal state these materials are all translucent and they all reflect the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the only light in the city.
A comparison between the Ephod of the High Priest and the New Jerusalem:
The Ephod The New Jerusalem
12 precious stones 12 precious stones
Square arrangement Square arrangement
3 stones to a side x 4 sides 3 gates to side x 4 sides
Each stone represent a tribe Each gate represents a tribe
Worn by the High Priest Adorned by our Lord the eternal High Priest
Then in verse 21 we see the material of the gates identified as Pearls, MARGARITES in the Greek. Since pearls are spheres, the gates should be 216 feet high and long. Each gate will have the name of one of the twelve tribes on Israel imprinted on it, vs. 12-13. Therefore with 12 gates with three on a side there will be a gate every 345 miles.
In the New Testament, pearl serves as a simile for the kingdom of God, Mat 13:45-46, a metaphor for the truth of the Word of God, Mat 7:6, and a symbol of great wealth, Rev. 17:4; 18:16, which is not to be the basis of the Christian way of life, 1 Tim 2:9-10.
Mat 13:45, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Verse 22, The New Jerusalem, completes the purpose of the temporary Holy of Holies, (which too was square in shape), by serving as the permanent and unrestricted meeting place for all the saints and God.
In addition, we see a difference between the Millennium Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem of the New Heavens and New Earth, which is the presence of a temple during the Millennium, Ezek 40-48, and the absence of the same in the eternal state.
John was informed about the temple in the city of the Millennium and that of the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is not only characterized by the things that are different from all other places but also by what it does not have. It has no tabernacle or literal physical temple; no sacrificial rituals; no heavenly bodies such as sun, and moon; no darkness, no closed gates; and nothing that brings abomination. All of this, which is in sharp contrast to the Millennial situation, makes impossible the fulfillment of the Millennial promises in the New Jerusalem, therefore they are separate.
Also between Gal 4:26 “the heavenly Jerusalem” and Philip 3:20, “our citizenship is in heaven” (see also Eph 2:19; Heb 12:1-2), we believe that this New Jerusalem will hover above the earth in the 1st heaven. If the New Jerusalem were on the ground of the New Earth, our eternal abode would be “earthly.”
Verse 23, there is only one light company in the eternal state, and that is the magnificent glory of the Lord. There is not temple, there is no light; instead there is the Shekinah glory, He is the temple. The light of God will penetrate every corner of the city, the new earth and the new heavens.
The light of the city shining through the translucent foundation must have presented a most impressive picture to John. If people in our present world can create beautiful things, how much more can the infinite God create a beautiful city? Therefore, this city is an illustration of His infinite perfection as well as His loving grace extended to every child of God.
It is significant that the light of the city is God, implying once again that God is light, John 1:7-9; 3:19; 8:12; 12:35.
Inasmuch as believers will be walking in the light of God in eternity, they are exhorted to walk in the light of God’s Divine revelation in time, 1 John 1:5-7.
Verse 24, “The nations will walk by its light,” these are the nations on the new planet earth in the eternal state and they will get the light from the Shekinah Glory in the satellite city. The word for nations is ETHNOS that means, “a race, a nation, and stands for non Jews, i.e., Gentiles.” Therefore, we see that not only will the believing Jew bring glory to Christ here but also believing Gentiles.
“And the kings of the earth will bring their glory to it,” also in vs. 26. In other words, the light of nations made up of believers in the eternal state will not be the reflected light from the sun, not the light from the moon, but the light from the Shekinah glory from the satellite city. All blessings that man receives for the eternal state will be perpetually with them and as they come to the New Jerusalem those blessings, which are a memorial to the Lord Jesus Christ, will be brought with them. Compare with Dan 12:2-3.
Likewise, as Israel gave of its earthly blessings to adorn the Tabernacle in the wilderness, Exodus 25, so to will all that man has received from Christ as eternal rewards be brought into the New Jerusalem 1 Cor 3:12a, 14.
Verse 25, Night time will not exist (NUX OUK ESTAI) in the Eternal state. There will be no literal darkness, and nothing of which night is the symbol of: evil, calamity, sorrow, bereavement, and pain on account of the loss of family and friends, vs. 4.
“It gates shall never be closed,” The language is similar to Isa 60:11. Here it utilizes a double negative in the Greek, OUK ME, which means “absolutely never closed.” Open gates means a period of security and peace. All who are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter into it. The gates of cities were closed in time of war, and at night, to guard them from danger. But we will always have perpetual entrance to the eternal city, which also speaks to our eternal security. We will never be barred from entering, or be striped of our heavenly citizenship. In addition, the universe will be open to us. We will be permitted to go forth and visit every world, and survey the works of God in all parts of His dominion.
Verse 26, “And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.” Whatever glory and honor is, we note that the preservation of Divine institution number four is a memorial in the eternal state, a memorial to the grace of God who preserved the human race from self-destruction; and in so doing He invented Divine institution number four, nationalism, at the tower of Babel. This is also a memorial to all category 1 truth, the laws of Divine establishment.
Verse 27, “And nothing, (OUK ME again “absolutely nothing”), unclean, and no one who practices abomination (religion), and lying (lack of integrity) shall ever come into it (they are all in the Lake of Fire).” Here we have two of our six part list describing the unbeliever in verses 8 and 22:15. Therefore, the self righteous, immoral, and dishonest will be excluded from this city.
All the filth of the old Jerusalem was carried outside the walls and burned; nothing defiled shall enter the heavenly city, it must remain outside, (cf. 22:15). There is no garbage of any kind.
Verse 27 (continued), “But only those (believers) whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Note that the unbeliever is excluded from the satellite city, yet they will continue to live in the Lake of Fire. The unbeliever in the Lake of Fire is in that status quo forever. Only believers in Christ are permitted to enjoy the blessings of the eternal state.
Compare with Isaiah 66:22, “For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me, declares the Lord, so your offspring and your name will endure.” The name means you are in the Book of Life, just as those of your family and loved ones who were or are believers. They too are in the Book of Life and will be in the eternal state.
Doctrine of the Book of Life.
A. The Book of Life is one thing in time and something different in eternity.
1. Basically it is a registry containing the names of every member of the human race in time, Psa 139:16.
2. In eternity it is the registry of all believers.
3. When a person dies as an unbeliever, his name is removed, “blotted out”, from the Book of Life, Psa 69:28; Rev 3:5.
4. When a person dies as a believer, his name remains in the Book of Life. Therefore, in eternity only the names of believers are in the Book of Life, Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15, cf. Psa 9:5; 69:28; Dan 12:1; Heb 12:23.
5. Since the issue for salvation is receiving Jesus Christ by personal faith, John 1:12, the unbeliever’s name is blotted out at death because of rejection of Christ or negative volition to the grace of God, including the pre‑salvation work of the Spirit of God, (Common Grace), that attempts to lead him to Jesus Christ, Rom 2:4.
6. In eternity, this book also contains the new title of royalty for each believer. The Greek word for name is ONOMA it means simply a “name” or can mean “authority.” Royal titles are used in eternity, (compare Rev 2:17), which indicates that there is no equality in heaven. Luke 10:20, “Rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
B. It is called:
1. The “Book of Life” in Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15; (KJV), Rev 22:19.
2. The “Book of Life of the Lamb” in Rev 13:8; 21:27.
C. The Book of Life is related to the function of GAP in Phil 4:3. “Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women, (Euodia and Syntyche), who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”Note: The change to pitch (12) and font (1) must be converted manually.
D. The Book of Life is related to the last judgment, Rev 20:12. Unbeliever’s names are blotted out of the Book of Life. Another set of books, “the books of works,” is referred to, which contain every good deed the unbeliever has ever done. Rev 20:15 says that those not in the Book of Life are cast into the Lake of Fire. William Kelly states, “The Book of Life will confirm what is gathered from the books. If the books proclaim the evil works of the dead that stand before the throne, the Book of Life offers no defense on the score of God’s grace.” (William Kelly, The Revelation Expounded, pp. 243~44.)
E. Therefore, in eternity the unbeliever is not registered in the Book of Life, Rev 13:8. Failure to have one’s name in the Book of Life is just ground for being cast into the Lake of Fire, as the penalty of that person’s sins, although paid for at the Cross, has not been removed from their account due to their rejection of the savior, and he or she has not entered into God’s rest.
It is only human to try to find some escape from the rigidity of eternal punishment, but if one dies without salvation, there is no escape as the books of works and Book of Life of Rev 20:12 will show. The Bible clearly pictures eternal punishment as continuing forever, just as heaven will continue forever for those who are saved. As heaven will constitute an eternal reminder of the grace of God, so the Lake of Fire will constitute an eternal reminder of the righteousness of God.
F. The Book of Life is related to the historical power of the revived Roman Empire in the tribulation, Rev 17:8.
G. According to Rev 3:5, being in the Book of Life means:
1. You can’t lose your salvation.
2. The mature believer cannot lose his rewards. “I will never blot his name [royal title] out of the Book of Life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
3. It is a source of motivation and encouragement as the Lord personally reminds the overcomer not only of the safety of his heavenly citizenship, but of the special acknowledgment the Lord Himself will give him before the Father and before His angels.
H. In the Old Testament Moses pleaded on behalf of the people of Israel. He asked that His name be blotted out of the Book of Life rather than the unbelievers of Israel, Ex 32:32-33.
Ex 32:32, “But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” 33The LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.”
Note that sin. (CHATTATH in the Hebrew), is in the singular meaning the sin of unbelief, as they made their own god out of gold in the form of a calf, thereby rejecting the one and only true God.
I. In Rev 13:8 and 17:8 both passages use the words, “has not been written from the foundation of the world” and use the Perfect Tense which simply means completed past action. What does that mean? Is it contradictory to what we have already noted? Absolutely not! Simply, God is speaking from His omniscience and speaking from eternity. Just as Jesus was slain before the foundations of the world, (Heb 4:3: 1 Peter 1:20, with John 8:58), even though it literally did not occur until His First Advent on earth, so too are those who are and will remain unbelievers. They are known by the Father from eternity past. Therefore, in God’s omniscience they are not in the Book of Life from “the foundation of the world” even though they are literally in the book until their death, at which time they are blotted out.
Rev 22:1-5, an inside look at the New Jerusalem.
The inner life of the city will amount to Paradise restored, Rev 22:1-5; cf. Rev 2:7, a reversing of the conditions imposed at the human fall of Genesis 3. But the presence of the Lamb and the effect of His redemptive work promise an even richer fellowship with God than Adam and the woman enjoyed before the fall.
Up to this point we have had a description of the external New Jerusalem with its foundation stones, walls and gates, and the angels who stand guard at the gates. We have also seen the light which illuminates the New City that of our Lord Jesus Christ. In addition He is the only temple which is also made up of His body the Church Age believer, 1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19-20; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21; Rev 3:12. Today the reflected glory of the Lord is the key to the indwelling of Christ, the Shekinah glory. In the eternal state it will be the translucent glory of the Lord.
Previously, we noticed that the gates are the names of the twelve tribes, therefore the twelve patriarchs of Israel, and we noted that the twelve apostles are on the foundation stones. The point is a very simple one: the glory of our Lord was shown in the lives of these men at some time and now the New Jerusalem is an eternal reminder of that principle.
Verse 1, The presence of this river indicates the abundance of spiritual life that comes from God to those who have put their trust in him.
This is the continuation of the eternal state. This is not the same as the river coming from the Millennial temple in Ezek 47:1ff, nor is it the living waters which flow from the Jerusalem of the Millennial state in Zech 14:8. We are now discussing the eternal state which must be distinguished from the Millennium, the last dispensation in history. These Millennial streams anticipate, however, this future river which is in the New Jerusalem, which speaks of the power, purity, and eternal life manifest in the heavenly city.
Therefore, the river may symbolize the flow of Christ’s Spirit, out from God, to supply all of God’s people with life in the eternal state, compare with John 7:37-39.
In the East, fountains and running streams constituted an essential part of the image of enjoyment and prosperity. Here, the river is an emblem of peace, happiness, plenty; and the essential thought in its flowing from the throne is, that all the happiness of heaven proceeds from God.
We have passed from history into the eternal state, as of Rev 21:1. The “Water of Life” emphasizes that this is the eternal state in contrast to time and human history.
It emphasizes the fact that the believer in the eternal state is in a place where there are no changes. In other words you can not loose your eternal life. Eternal life is guaranteed by the Water of Life.
The believer has eternal life, he cannot lose eternal life, he cannot in any way diminish or delete eternal life. The eternal state is guaranteed by the Water of Life forever, and just as the rainbow was God’s guarantee that the earth would never again be destroyed by water, so the Water of Life is the eternal guarantee of the eternal state.
“Clear as crystal”, is symbolic of the holiness and purity of God and the city, cf. 21:8, 27; 22:14-15.
Then we have, “coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” The throne is indicated as that of both God and the Lamb; this confirms that Christ is still on the throne in the eternal state. They both have their throne in the new satellite city because it is the headquarters of the universe in the eternal state. It also speaks of Christ giving all His glory to the Father in the eternal state and they both have thrones in the New City. 1 Cor 15:24, states that Christ “hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power.” It does not mean that Christ’s reign on the throne will end but that it will change its character. Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords for all eternity, cf. Rev 17:14; 19:16.
Both the throne of God the Father and the throne of God the Son are located in this satellite city because they are the two members of the Godhead who are directly involved in the provision of our so great salvation. Therefore, this reflects the pattern of the Cross which involved two members of the Godhead. God the Father Judged our sins in His Son, and Jesus paid for those sins while on the Cross. By their actions we have eternal life and therefore their throne resides in the capital city of the eternal state.
Verse 2, the first part of this verse actually finishes the thought of verse 1, “in the middle of its street.” That is the location of the river. The street which begins at the throne of God the Father and the Son is divided by a median and the median is the river of life. This is the first monument of eternal life in the eternal city, which tells us of the guarantee of eternal life God has given to us in the eternal state. Just as our eternal life is from the source of God, so too are they the source of this river.
The second monument and guarantee of eternal life is then mentioned, “the Tree of Life.” Here too we have a distinction between the Millennial Jerusalem that has many trees on either side of its river, Ezek 47:7-12, and the New Jerusalem that seems to have one tree on both sides of its river.
This monument has much symbolism. In fact “Tree of Life” is only mentioned in three areas of the Word of God: first in Genesis, secondly in Proverbs, and thirdly in the book of Revelation.
It is first mentioned as the source of eternal life for Adam and the women in the Garden of Eden. Once they sinned they were blocked from reentering the Garden especially so that they could no longer partake of the Tree of Life and thereby have eternal life from it, Gen 2:9; 3:22-24. Therefore, the presence of the Tree of Life as the second symbol is a memorial and guarantee that all believers in the eternal state can not lose their eternal life, just as they could not lose it in time, they can not lose it in eternity.
The Tree of Life is also a symbol of God’s Word that gives man wisdom to produce righteousness (Divine good production), and happiness (+H of God):
In Prov 3:18, “ She, (God’s Word), is a Tree of Life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.”
In Prov 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a Tree of Life. And he who is wise wins souls.”
In Prov 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a Tree of Life.”
In Prov 15:4, “ A soothing tongue is a Tree of Life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.”
Notice they say “a” Tree of Life not “the” Tree of Life. Because in addition, “The Tree of Life” is a memorial to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby He took on our curse, Deut 21:23; Gal 3:13, by paying the penalty for our sins and thereby giving the believer eternal life.
Gal 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”
The Cross of Jesus Christ is the place of the true Tree of Life through which we receive eternal life, Rev 22:14, 19.
Also in Rev 2:7 it reads, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the Paradise of God.”
“Paradise” is the Greek word, PARADEISOS. It is only used three times in the New Testament in Luke 23:43, 2 Cor 12:4 and Rev 2:7. “Paradise” is not used in the Old Testament.
Joseph Thayer Defines it as: 1) Among the Persians a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting ground, park, shady and well watered, in which wild animals, were kept for the hunt; it was enclosed by walls and furnished with towers for the hunters. 2) A garden or pleasure ground. 3) The part of Hades which was thought by the later Jews to be the abode of the souls of pious until the resurrection. 4) The upper regions of the heavens. 5) Heaven itself.
These are all descriptive of what the New Jerusalem will be like and why our Lord chose this word.
In Luke 23:43, it is a reference to that portion of Hades where O.T. believers went prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was also known as Abraham’s Bosom. See Luke 16:19-31. Once Jesus was resurrected this compartment of Hades was removed from inside planet earth and brought to the third heaven, Eph 4:8-10.
It was not until after His resurrection that this compartment was taken to heaven. That is why, in the second mention of “paradise” in the New Testament, Jesus promised the repentant thief that he would be with Him in eternal life in “paradise” later that day, Luke 23:43.
Luke 23:43, “And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise”.”
Later Paul also used this term, and in his case to refer to the third heaven, God’s throne room, where “paradise” now resides, 2 Cor 12:2-4.
So back in Rev 2:7, this Tree of Life is found today in the heavenly abode called Paradise which will be a blessing to all believers of the eternal state and then after the Millennium will be a part of the New Jerusalem of the eternal state.
The “Tree of Life” is a memorial to the completed work of Jesus Christ on the Cross as we enjoy our eternal life in the New Jerusalem.
So all of these references are in view as a result of Jesus’ completed work upon the Cross, and the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem will be the eternal memorial reminding us of these things.
Note that there is no indication in the context that the believer must drink from the water of the river and eat from the tree to perpetuate eternal life. Not at all! These are monuments to be viewed but are not necessary for consumption in order to keep going in eternity.
When it says in Rev 2:7, “I will grant (the overcomer) to eat (ESTHIO) of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God”, this eating is a metaphor for living. In this life we need to eat to survive. Therefore, the analogy is that the overcomer (believer) will have eternal life memorialized by being able to see the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem forever. As we will see, the Tree of Life has twelve kinds of fruit and bears its fruit each of the 12 months of the year, so we may actually eat of it for enjoyment, just as Jesus ate in His resurrection body, Luke 24:41-43; John 21:12.
Nevertheless, those who believe in Christ have eternal life and everywhere they look in the New Jerusalem they will be reminded that they are the possessors of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, and nothing can change that status in the eternal state, just as nothing can change that status in time, John 10:28-30. It is impossible to lose your salvation.
So, the River of the Water of life in verse one is a memorial to the grace of God the Father who has given us the eternal water of life, while the Tree of Life in verse two is a memorial to the grace of God the Son who was judged on the tree, 1 Peter 2:24, so that we, as believers, might have eternal life.
1 Peter 2:24, “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
Both the River of the Water of life and the Tree of Life are:
1. Monuments to the so great salvation we possess as believers.
2. Two visual guarantees to all believers of the integrity of God: that God keeps His word.
3. Two daily reminders of our eternal life as visual monuments of the reality of eternal life for every person who has believed, or ever will, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Human history has now been terminated; the eternal state has begun. Nothing will destroy the status of the believer in the eternal state.
Next we have some description of what the Tree of Life will produce, “bearing 12 kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.” This description speaks of abundance and variety of blessings God will bring to us each and every month of the year in the eternal state.
A difficulty you might be having is that we are noting these things in the eternal state while here in the body of corruption, a body that still has an Old Sin Nature. We are discussing things that are perpetual and eternal and can never change. Sometimes people get a little bored with the idea of no change. So the “twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month” tells us that there will be different things going on all the time and no one will ever be bored.
Note also the number 12 is used once again, speaking of perfect government. E. W. Bullinger in his book “Number in Scripture”, states, “Twelve is a perfect number, signifying perfection of government or of governmental perfection. It is found as a multiple in all that has to do with rule… and organization.” Therefore, as 12 is stamped all over the external building of the New Jerusalem, we see it is just as prevalent on the inside as well.
Therefore, the 12 kinds of fruit born 12 months of the year speak of the inner workings of God’s government in the eternal state which includes His perfect provision of daily sustenance for everyone there, both man and angels. God will provide for us, for all of eternity. We will never again have to provide for ourselves. God will do all the work in providing for our daily needs.
Likewise we see this analogy with the fruit which God provided for the sustenance of man in creation and in the Garden of Eden, Gen 1:29; 3:2.
Gen 1:29, “Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.”
Gen 3:2, “The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat.”
Therefore God will provide for us for all of eternity.
The twelve kinds of fruit on the Tree of Life also illustrates for us that we will never be bored in heaven. To have eternal life is one thing, but to never be bored is something else. To have a perpetual state in which you will never be bored is another aspect of +H. There is never a dull moment in the eternal state. Every month brings something different for the capacity of the resurrection body. Again, there is no indication that we eat the fruit, but it represents a concept. Apparently, God will find plenty of things to make us happy every moment of the eternal state.
Then we have “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” This again draws comparison to the First book of the Bible and God’s creation. The first mention of “leaves” in the Bible is in Gen 3:7, where Adam and the woman sewed fig leaves together to cover their naked bodies, which is analogous to covering their sin.
Gen 3:7, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
So the leaves of the Tree of Life are a memorial to the Lord covering our sins and giving us eternal life.
This is also seen in the second mention of scripture where leaves are engraved on the temple that Solomon built in 1 Kings 6:34. Likewise in the Millennial Temple there will be engraved leaves, Ezek 41:24, (5th mention).
In the third mention of leaves in scripture, Jer 17:7-8, we once again see that leaves speak of our eternal provision and prosperity from God, just as in the fourth mention of Ezek 17:9 leaves speak of prosperity.
Jer 17:7-8, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. 8For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
In the sixth mention we have the parallel Jerusalem of the Millennium with its trees and leaves which too speak of provision and prosperity in Christ’s perfect rule of Millennium.
Next have John’s words for what the leaves are for in the New Jerusalem, “were for the healing.”
The word for “healing” is THERAPEIA, from which we get the English word “therapeutic”. Rather than specifically meaning “healing,” it should be understood as “health-giving,” as the word in its root meaning has the idea of serving or ministering. In other words, the leaves of the tree speak of the enjoyment of life in the New Jerusalem, and are not for correcting ills which do not exist. This, of course, is confirmed by the fact that there is no more curse as indicated in verse 3.
This again correlates with the “leaves” analogy since Jesus has removed the curse of sin from all believers, therefore they will live in perfect environment and government forever, with perfect provisions having perfect happiness.
The first mentions of “healing” in Scripture are found in the Proverbs, (3:7-8; 6:14-15; 12:18; 13:17; 16:24), they speak of the turning away from evil in order to have healing. God has removed all evil from mankind in the New Heavens and the New Earth, Rev 21:7, and that is signified in the New Jerusalem on the Tree of Life.
Next is, “of the nations.” The word “nations” is ETHNOS once again and should be translated “Gentiles” as in 21:24 and 21:26, or possibly “peoples,” more general. There will be nations in the eternal state, also noted in 21:24, but no conflict of nations. In the eternal state resurrected man will be divided into nations of believers in glorified bodies, but there will be no conflict, no antagonism but rather peace, harmony and bliss as indicated by the symbolism of the leaves of the Tree.
The nations are perfect, so do they need healing? They do not! Remember this is a memorial monument and the leaves are a memorial to the healing of the nations by God when he brings them into the eternal state and the enjoyment of life in that state.
The grace of God prevailed for the healing of nations in time, and the reason we have nations again is a memorial to the laws of divine establishment. Remember that nationalism is number 4 of the 4 Divine institutions. So this is a memorial to the laws of Divine establishment, which God put in place to protect mankind, so that he would have the opportunity for eternal life.
Verse 3, the removal of the curse. This follows up on the “Tree of Life” symbolisms regarding the Cross of Jesus as the place that took away our curse, which was sin within our souls.
During the Millennial reign of Christ the curse will be lifted from planet earth, (i.e., from nature), but not from people; and not a total deliverance from the world’s travail brought in by sin. People will still have their Old Sin Natures. Man will still be born with the Old Sin Nature at that time, the body of corruption, and the reality of total depravity. Therefore, in the Millennium, it is still possible for a “sinner” to be “accursed”, Isa 65:20, with resulting physical death, and for new generations who reject Christ as their savior to remain spiritually dead.
The demonstration of the Millennial reign of Christ is that man in total depravity cannot enjoy perfect environment.
The difference in the eternal state from the Millennium is perfect people, (being without an Old Sin Nature and sin), in perfect environment, so that perfect environment will be enjoyed by perfect people with perfect capacity.
The eternal state is the status of perpetual perfection on the part of believers, hence ultimate sanctification. There will be no such thing as a flawed personality or any “unfortunate” personalities or personality conflicts in the eternal stats. Therefore, in the New Heaven and the New Earth, there will be no curse at all and no possibility or need of such divine punishment.
Next we have, “and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it.” Here again we see the throne of the Father and the Son as they sit and reside over their perfect creation in perfect rulership. See the comments on verse one above for the reason of these two thrones being mentioned.
Then it says, “His bond-servants shall serve Him.” We will be wife, queen, sons and also servants of our Lord in the eternal state. We will serve God and Christ day and night for all of eternity. We will give ourselves to serve Him unceasingly. All that we do and are doing will be in service unto God, always, just as it should be in our daily lives today, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is a picture of blessedness in service rather than of arduous toil. Serving the Lord has a primary meaning of worshiping Him. Believers will be king-priests and ministers before Him, doing everything in a spirit of devotion to Him.
There is no greater privilege you can have as a believer than being a servant of the Lord in the eternal state. Besides, who would want to be perpetuated in eternal idleness and uselessness?
In this verse we see three aspects of perfection in the eternal state:
1. Perfect restoration, “no more curse.”
2. Perfect administration, “God and the Lamb shall be in it.”
3. Perfect subordination, “His servants shall serve him.”
Verse 4, A New Relationship with God. “They shall both see his face and his royal title shall be on their foreheads.” The believer will be face to face with the Shekinah glory, our Lord Jesus Christ, without any fear of death, and the believer will be identified forever by having the title of our Lord on his forehead. We belong to Christ forever. There is no greater happiness or blessing than to be among the pure in heart who shall see God, Exodus 33:20, 23; Isaiah 33:17; Matthew 5:8; John 14:9; 1 John 3:2.
Here we have two aspects of our perfection in the eternal state:
1. Perfect transformation, “they shall see his face.”
“Seeing His face” characterizes believers in the eternal state; we will have immediate access to the glory of God. The fact that we shall see His face demonstrates beyond question that this passage is speaking of glorified saints (1 John 3:2).
1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
2. Perfect identification, “His title shall be on their foreheads.”
His name being on our foreheads indicates for all of eternity that we belong to Him, see Rev 2:17; 3:12 and compare with Rev 7:3; 14:1.
Rev 3:12, “…and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”
Verse 5, The Eternal Relationship with God. “And there shall no longer be night; furthermore they do not have need of light of a lamp, or the light of the sun; because the Lord God, (Jesus Christ, the Shekinah glory), will give them light, (He will illuminate them)…”
Once again we see that the new universe is illuminated by our Lord Jesus Christ as the Shekinah glory. This is why there is no sacred building or temple in the eternal state.
“… and they shall reign forever and ever.” The eternal character of the reign of these who are described as servants is another definition of our eternal state.
In this verse we see two more aspects of our perfection:
1. Perfect illumination, “the Lord will give them light.”
2. Perfect exultation, “they shall reign forever.”
Summary: Verses 3-5 (A.T. Pierson)
1. Perfect restoration, “no more curse.”
2. Perfect administration, “God and the Lamb shall be in it.”
3. Perfect subordination, “His servants shall serve him.”
4. Perfect transformation, “they shall see his face.”
5. Perfect identification, “His title shall be on their foreheads.”
6. Perfect illumination, “the Lord will give them light.”
7. Perfect exultation, “they shall reign forever.”
Warren Wiersbe, Expository Outline of the New Testament, writes:
“In this new creation, God reverses all the tragedies that sin brought to the original creation. The old heaven and earth were plunged into judgment; this new heaven and earth glisten with perfection. Eden had an earthly river (Gen. 2:10-14); but here we have a wonderful heavenly river. The Tree of Life in Eden was guarded after man sinned (Gen. 3:24); but here the heavenly Tree of Life is available to God’s people. The curse was pronounced in Gen. 3:14-17; but now there is no more curse. Adam and Eve were forced to leave the original paradise and labor for their daily bread; but here men serve God and see His face in perfect fellowship. When the first man and woman sinned, they became slaves and lost their kingship; but v. 5 indicates that this kingship will be regained, and we shall reign with Christ forever!”
Wilbur Smith: Wycliffe Bible Commentary Series, writes:
“All the glorious purposes of God ordained from the foundation of the world have now been attained. The rebellion of angels and mankind is all and finally subdued as the King of kings assumes His rightful sovereignty. Absolute and unchangeable holiness characterizes all within the kingdom of God. The redeemed, made so by the blood of the Lamb, are in resurrection and eternal glory. Life is everywhere and death will never intrude again. The earth and the heavens both are renewed. Light, beauty, holiness, joy, the presence of God, the worship of God, the service to Christ, likeness to Christ, all are now abiding realities. The vocabulary of man made for life here is incapable of truly adequately depicting what God has prepared for those who love him.”
So this concludes our study of Eternal Life and the New Jerusalem in the New Heavens and New Earth.
There is the danger that the believer will become so occupied with the anticipation of his own experience of glory that the supreme glorification of the Godhead is lost.
But keep in mind that our occupation in the eternal state will not be with our position or glory but with God Himself.
As we have noted:
“We shall see Him as He is”, 1 John 3:2.
We shall be fully occupied with the One “that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father”, Rev 1:5-6.
We will say, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and blessing”, Rev 5:12.
“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever”, Rev 5:13.
“Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen”, Rev 7:12.
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace—
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand:—
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.
(J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come)
Our words can not describe and our minds can not comprehend what the true reality of the eternal state will be, yet our Lord has given us a glimpse into that eternal estate that He has prepared for us.
1 Cor 2:9, “But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him”.”