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The Revelation of John: Chapter 21

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1I SAW a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had vanished, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. 3I heard a loud voice proclaiming from the throne: ‘Now God has his dwelling with mankind! He will dwell among them and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be an end to death, and to mourning and crying and pain, for the old order has passed away!’

5The One who sat on the throne said, ‘I am making all things new!’ (‘Write this down,’ he said, ‘for these words are trustworthy and true.’) 6Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water from the spring of life as a gift. 7This is the victors’ heritage; and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, and the obscene, the murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars of every kind, the lake that burns with sulphurous flames will be their portion, and that is the second death.’

9 ONE of the seven angels who held the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke to me. ‘Come,’ he said, ‘and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ 10So in the spirit he carried me away to a great and lofty mountain, and showed me Jerusalem, the Holy City, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God; it had the radiance of some priceless jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great and lofty wall with twelve gates, at which were stationed twelve angels; on the gates were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates to the east, three to the north, three to the south, and three to the west. 14The city wall had twelve foundation-stones, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15The angel who spoke with me carried a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16The city had four sides, and it was as wide as it was long. Measured by his rod, it was twelve thousand furlongs, its length and breadth and height being equal. 17Its wall was one hundred and forty-four cubits high, by human measurements, which the angel used. 18The wall was built of jasper, while the city itself was of pure gold, bright as clear glass. 19The foundations of the city wall were adorned with precious stones of every kind, the first of the foundation-stones being jasper, the second lapis lazuli, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth sardonyx, the sixth cornelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh turquoise, and the twelfth amethyst. 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate fashioned from a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like translucent glass.

22I saw no temple in the city, for its temple was the sovereign Lord God and the Lamb. 23The city did not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb. 24By its light shall the nations walk, and to it the kings of the earth shall bring their splendour. 25The gates of the city shall never be shut by day, nor will there be any night there. 26The splendour and wealth of the nations shall be brought into it, 27but nothing unclean shall enter, nor anyone whose ways are foul or false; only those shall enter whose names are inscribed in the Lamb's book of life.

Text Commentary view alone

21.1–21 : The new heaven and earth and the new Jerusalem.

1 :

The future holds promise of a transformation so complete that there will be a new heaven and … earth; see Isa. 65.17; 66.22; Rom. 8.19–21 . No longer any sea: perhaps, as in Babylonian legend, the sea is regarded as hostile.

2 :

The new Jerusalem is not in heaven but comes down from it (see v. 10; 3.12 ). Bride: see 19.7–8 n.

3 :

God … dwelling with humanity: compare Ezek. 37.27 .

4 :

Wipe every tear: see 7.17; Isa. 25.8; 35.10 .

5 :

Only here and in 1.8 does God (the One) speak. All things new: Isa. 43.19 .

6 :

Alpha and Omega: see 1.8 n. To the thirsty … water: see 7.17 n.; 22.1; Isa. 55.1 .

7 :

Their God … my children: Pss. 2.7; 89.27–28 .

10 :

Showed me … the Holy City: compare Ezek. 40.2 .

12–14 :

The juxtaposition of twelve tribes (v. 12 ) and twelve apostles (v. 14 ) points to old and new covenant peoples; see 4.4 n.

15 :

A gold measuring rod: see Ezek. 40.5 .

16 :

The dimensions correspond to the temple's Holy of Holies, but there is no longer to be a temple (see 21.22 ) and all (as priests; see 1.6 n.; Isa. 61.6 ), not only the high priest, have access to God.

18–20 :

Exod. 28.15–21; Isa. 54.11–12 .

21.22–22.5 : A city of light and life.

23 :

Did not need the sun: see Isa. 60.19 .

24 :

Isa. 60.3, 5 .

25 :

Isa. 60.11 .

26 :

Isa. 60.3–9 .

27 :

Nothing unclean: see Isa. 52.1 .

22.1 :

The river of the water of life: compare Ezek. 47.1–12 , where it flows from the temple; here it flows from the throne (see Zech. 14.7–8 ).

2 :

A tree of life: see 2.7 n.; Ezek. 47.7 . Healing of the nations: compare Ezek. 47.12 , Sept.; also Isa. 49.6 .

3 :

Every accursed thing shall disappear: in Gen. 3.17–18 it is humanity that is accursed; now humankind is redeemed in a new paradise with access to the tree of life.

4 :

See … face to face: Ps. 17.15; 1 Cor. 13.12 . Name on their foreheads: see 3.12 n. ; in Exod. 28.36–38 the high priest has “Holy to the Lord” on his forehead, but now all are priests and bear God's name.

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