Revisited with Commentary

In my original exploration of New Jerusalem and the New Earth, I was looking for an understanding of what it may be like. In the ensuing period my mind probed what I had discovered. Numerous questions arose. In this monograph I raise the questions and speculate on possible answers.

The Book of Revelation, sometimes titled The Revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John the Divine, was authored, according to the text itself, by John of Patmos, the Disciple of Jesus. John had reached an advanced age when he received the vision.

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams."
[Peter quoting the prophet Joel during his sermon on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon men.] Acts 2:17 NKJV

John's vision in the Spirit is lengthy and complicated. It involves things he saw and heard. These include The Lord, angels, elders and saints in heaven. An angel was assigned to guide John through the symbolism. The first twenty chapters address these events.

Key subjects include seven seals, trumpets, plagues, bowls of wrath, judgment, and other apocalyptic matters related to the end of this age and world. It is not until chapter twenty-one that the topic at hand arises. I intend to review each verse in verse order.

Citations are from the NASB [New American Standard Bible] except where otherwise noted.

Revelation 21:1

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

John does not tell us the vantage point from which he saw this. Bearing in mind that he was 'in the Spirit', the scene may have appeared in space or in heaven. During his vision he saw heaven as it was, or is, until he says he saw a new heaven. My question about this verse is did he mean a 'new heaven' as heaven is normally understood, or does he mean a new cosmic celestial sphere?

In Genesis 1:8 God made the firmament which He called Heaven. We have two understandings of Biblical Heaven. One is the abode of God and angels in a spirit realm outside our physical universe. The other is the physical universe in which earth exists as we know it.

In the vision he saw of the new earth, he notes there is no sea. Does this mean that the new earth will not have marine life? The new earth is all land. There is no mention of non-human life on the land. If there are no other life forms, it implies that we who are saved and inhabit the new earth will no longer eat animal flesh. Whether or not we will need to eat at all is not disclosed.

Revelation 21:2

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
It seems he was looking upward from a seat or bed because he uses the phrase 'coming down'. The holy city came down 'from God' to where John was, or to where he could see it. He compares the appearance of the city to a bride.

There are numerous Biblical verses which use the analogy of a wedding to indicate the relationship between Christ and His Church as His bride.

Revelation 21:3

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,"
The throne was identified as God's throne in earlier chapters. His vision includes a description of Christ but not of God the Father on the throne. He knew from his time with Jesus on earth that God is not visible, notwithstanding the fact that the Supreme Creator is unquestionably able to manifest visually in any way He chooses.

The voice he heard emanated from the throne of God. 'God Himself will be among them' must mean that God will dwell in the holy city. This is not clear from the verse cited but it will be made clear as we progress.

Revelation 21:4

"and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
The 'He' in verse four refers to God. That there will no longer be any death complies with the promises of Jesus that the believers will have eternal life. Additionally, eternal life will be without any reason to suffer. Yet, elsewhere in the gospels we are assured that those who do not believe will suffer eternal torment in a place, or situation, known as hell.

Clearly, the saved inhabiting God's dwelling place among us will have no concern or fears about the disposition of those consigned to hell. Perhaps we will be unaware of them. In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus told a parable about a poor man and a rich who passed through the door of death. In the parable, the rich man in hell speaks to Abraham in heaven with the poor man. He begs for relief but Abraham tells him there is a chasm between them and no one can cross from one existence to the other in either direction.

Verse four ends with the words, "the first things have passed away." It is my inclination to believe that 'first things' refers to all of creation from the beginning. This includes the entire cosmos and along with it all that God deems to be evil. Satan, his angels and demons, will either no longer exist or exist in eternal punishment somewhere beyond our awareness.

Revelation 21:5

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
At this juncture John can see He who sits on the throne. It is Jesus the Christ in His new form, described earlier in Rev 1:12-16. It is this being who instructs John to write what he sees. Christ tells John He is making all things new. In John's gospel he opens with a testimony as to who Jesus is. He calls Christ "the word" through whom all things were made. Therefore, the new earth and holy city are, or will be, made by Him.

Revelation 21:6

Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost."
We know from gospel texts that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus Christ by the Father. Verse six confirms His power to grant what He offers those who thirst. He says He is the beginning and the end. In the transliterated Greek He says He is the 'original' and the 'finish'. I believe this refers to the created cosmos which had a beginning and will have a finish. It is all through Him.

The spring of the water of life is likely metaphorical but may be literal. We will later see there is a river in New Jerusalem but in the gospels there are references to 'living water' which are usually interpreted to mean a flow of life from God's Spirit into a created human. He affirms that this water is free. It came at the cost of His earthly life and sacrificial death. It is given to those who thirst for it. Unless one believes He was, is, and is coming again, a person can not 'thirst' for the living water from God.

All creatures living on the land know when they are thirsty for physical water for their bodies. Only those who have God's Holy Spirit, given with salvation, understand what it is to thirst for Him and His water.

Revelation 21:7

Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

[NASB] He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
The NASB says 'overcomes' and 'son'. The NIV says 'victorious' and 'children'. In the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer, the Greek is transliterated 'The one conquering shall be tenanting all and I shall be to him God and he shall be to me the son.'

The fundamental meaning is the same but different translations into American English, if read as the sole source, can convey different understandings to readers.

Victorious, overcoming, and conquering all connote the same idea ... that of succeeding. St. Paul compared living out his salvation to a foot race which he expected to win by endurance. Not speed but persistence would enable him to finish the race and leave the devil in the dust. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, and Mark 13:13 that whoever endures until the end will be saved.

This is comprehensible only if you understand why He said endures. If you have studied all the gospels with attention to the words attributed to Jesus, you can not help but recognize He was talking about keeping the faith. In other words, believing no matter what happens in the world or your life.

So, the victory, the conquest, the overcoming, all relate to keeping faith with Christ Who is the One speaking to John in verse seven.

The use of 'son' at verse end does not denote human male gender as such. Angels are reported in scripture as 'sons of God'. The angels whose names we know are male; Michael and Gabriel. God the Father and God the Son are nominally male.

I do not believe this a gender designation nor that spirit beings have genitals. There is no record of angels reproducing. There are very strong hints that fallen angels, or something like them, bred with human women. I included the NIV version of verse seven specifically because it reads 'children'.

The saved believers are characterized repeatedly as the 'bride of Christ'. Simultaneously, believers are called Jesus's brethren by Him and Paul. Furthermore, when questioned by Pharisees trying to trip Him up, Jesus explained that there is no in marriage in heaven. Somehow or other, those who are saved will inhabit New Jerusalem in some form which we do not yet know.

Revelation 21:8

"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

The Greek to English in the Authorized Version, equal to King James, calls them "dreaders" (fearful) "or ones unbelieving".
The key word in verse eight is unbelieving. The verse, a direct quotation attributed to Christ King of Kings, names many who will not enter the new holy city but be consigned to fire. But what of those who DO believe yet act cowardly, or commit murder, do immoral acts, etc.?

I am bold to declare that those descriptions apply to persons who are not saved and not forgiven. Saved believers are not exempt from sinning which is WHY we need our SAVIOR Jesus Christ who paid for mankind's (and womankind's) sins. Repentance and forgiveness are ongoing in the earthly life of believers. Ask anyone you know who is a follower of Jesus if they are without sin. The answer is no.

The Lord specifically states in Matthew 12:31 that any sin except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven. (He does not say so but I believe He means after confession to God.)

The 'second death' is permanent.
There is no resurrection for those who experience it.

Revelation 21:9

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."
Now he hears from an angel rather than the Lord Jesus Christ who is portrayed as a lamb, the 'Lamb of God' who was sacrificed for us. There will be incredibly horrifying plagues in end times ... seven of them. They are contained in bowls which will be poured out on the earth.

The angel says he will show John the bride, the wife of the Lamb. We will see who it is. Wife is no doubt metaphoric in this application. In human terms it connotes "one flesh" and reproduction. I feel certain that as used in John's vision it defines a relationship between the Lord and His church, meaning the saved believers.

In a book I am currently reading, Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman, the author exposes the ancient Hebrew word translated as "know" in Genesis where Adam "knew" his wife Eve and begot Cain. Idleman wrote that the word is "yada" which has a meaning somewhat akin to "a mingling of souls". This describes the relationship between Christ and His bride the church. To know and be known with the deepest intimacy unrelated to physical reproduction.

Revelation 21:10

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, [verse number breaks but statement continues in 11 ... ]
John says he was "in the spirit" meaning his own spirit being. The high mountain is figurative ... a vantage point ... but appeared real enough to him in the vision. Very early in the Book of Revelation John is told he will see what must come to pass. It has not yet happened. What he sees is future. It may already exist in the spirit realm of God but is not yet manifest physically while our present universe continues to exist.

The holy city of Jerusalem is not the one which now exists on earth. This is why we refer to it as New Jerusalem. God is making all things new, hence He is sending a new holy city from heaven to someplace where John can see it.

Revelation 21:11

having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.
Note that as he looks at the city he describes it as 'Her'. Obviously this does not mean the city is a literal female being but rather a 'her' in the role of wife of the Lamb. The three persons of God are always referred to as male, "He".

Jasper in modern gemology is an opaque speckled stone. It is a form of chalcedony and not regarded as particularly precious or valuable. The Greek word "iaspidi" is the word translated as jasper.

[citation] jasper; a precious stone of divers colors (for some are purple, others blue, others green, and others of the color of brass; Pliny, h. n. 37, 37 (8)): Revelation 4:3; Revelation 21:11, 18f. (But many think (questionably) the diamond to be meant here; others the precious opal; see Riehm, HWB, under the word Edelsteine, 8 and 10; B. D. under the word ; cf. 'Bible Educator' 2:352.) STRONGS NT 2393: [THAYER'S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. a]

We do not know why jasper was used. If there is, or was, a crystalline form of the stone it would indeed be rare and precious. When reading scripture, be conscious of the fact that the writers can only relate things in terms of their own knowledge and environs.

Noah's ark was made from wood. There was no other practical material. In World War II the Japanese made ships of concrete. Ships today are usually made of steel. John was a fisherman. His knowledge of gemology was presumably limited. The important point is that the city is crystal clear. The entire city is like brilliant leaded glass, clear enough to see through.

Most important is that the city came down "having the glory of God".

Revelation 21:12

It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.
John will tell us the dimensions when we come to that. All we know so far is there is a great high wall, gates, and angels at the gates. The function of the angels is not mentioned. Guards?

It may be confusing the way it is written using the pronoun 'them'. The names are written on the gates, not on the angels. Each gate is named for a son of Israel (Jacob). Jacob's son Levi was set aside by God for priestly duties and Joseph's share was divided between Jacob's grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh. We can speculate whether the names are of the original twelve sons as stated or whether they are of the twelve tribes as established.

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, (Manasseh, Ephraim), and Benjamin.

Revelation 21:13

There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.
A simple description of the placement of gates. If the fact that gates were placed three on each compass face is meaningful here it escapes me.

Revelation 21:14

And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Depictions of the wall by artists tend to show layers of these stones one above another with the actual wall rising from the topmost layer. This may be inferred but is not what the text says.

Firstly, a foundation stone is usually below ground to support a structure which is built on the ground. If that is the case here, the stones are not visible in the ordinary sense.

Secondly, John does not say anything about the arrangement of the stones he saw.

I wonder if the twelve apostles whose names are on the foundation stones include Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. If not, who is the twelfth? In any case, we can see that the twelve apostles are depicted in the vision as the foundation stones of the wall. This could be taken to mean that their faith and work ultimately produced the church, the bride of Christ, symbolized by the holy city. The 'wall' undoubtedly is to keep others out of the city.

The table below is at

Revelation 21:15

The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.

The Greek word kalamon is translated as 'reed' in the Authorized Version; not 'rod'. Irrelevant but interesting. I can't think of a reason for the angel to measure the city other than for John's information (and ultimately, ours).

Revelation 21:16

The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.
A lot of nitty gritty in verse 16. The city is a square, or four-square plan. It measures 1,500 miles in every direction, suggesting a cube shape which is what is most often portrayed by artists. A cube would form its own walls yet John saw a great wall. May we assume the city is inside the wall? Why not.

The Greek word 'stadion' is used in the text. The quantity is stated as twelve thousand stadia. The AV translation converts this to twelve thousand furlongs. tells us "The stadion, Latinized as stadium and anglicized as stade, is an ancient Greek unit of length. According to Herodotus, one stade is equal to 600 feet. However, there were several different lengths of “feet”, depending on the country of origin."

A furlong is equal to one-eighth of a mile. 12,000 eighths equals 1,500 miles. The dimensions of the city square fit the description. Yet I doubt that you or I or anyone else can visualize such a city.

1,500 miles is the distance from Boston, MA to Miami, FL. The area of the 1,500 mile square is equal to 2,250.000 square miles. That is larger than the nation of Mexico and nearly as large as the land area of India. The height of 1,500 miles means more than 95% of the city is beyond the cutoff for human life. Not enough air to sustain life as we know it.

From this we can speculate that the inhabitants of the holy city do not have bodies like ours. The apostle John wrote, "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." [1 John 3:2] John most likely wrote this before he had the vision in Revelation, because in the book he describes Jesus as clothed in brilliant white, with feet like molten bronze, and a face shining like the sun.

Revelation 21:17

And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

This must refer to the height of the wall. It's interesting that he remarks about humans and angels using the same measurement system. The Greek text reads "144 cubits". A cubit is generally considered to be eighteen inches or a half yard.

This wall is as tall as a twenty story office building allowing ten feet per floor. It is a very serious wall indeed. The perimeter, which is 1,500 miles on each of four sides equals 6,000 miles of 20 story wall.

Revelation 21:18

The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

We accept jasper as the material of the two hundred sixteen foot high wall. Now we learn the city is pure gold but transparent as glass. Not possible in our current world. Even gold leaf, thinner than human hair, is opaque.

In New Jerusalem we see an entirely new set of 'natural' laws at work. "First things are passed away." The first things may include gravity for all we know. John saw the holy city 'coming down' but that is merely the way it appeared to him in the vision. Down, up, sideways, are all relative terms.

When we consider the fifteen hundred mile height of the city, or at least one tower therein, the question of gravity arises. We saved beings in our new bodies will somehow be able to move about in this enormous holy city.

At left is an example of many artists' renderings. This one is copyright shown below. Note that the earth sphere is covered in blue water. John says there is no sea on new Earth. If you use a search engine for images of New Jerusalem you will get more than a quarter million hits.

March, 2000 - October, 2011 - was conceived in 1999 and launched a few months later. It was one of the first big online digital art galleries and at its peak held legendary status. Five hundred or so Art of the Weeks later, it was past its prime and ready for retirement.

Thank you to all the artists and art lovers who supported over the past 11 years.

Steven "Gliebster" Gliebe @stevengliebe
To get in touch, contact DreamDolphin Media, LLC

Revelation 21:19+20

The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

Below are the twelve stones in the order listed by John.

Jasper - Sapphire - Chalcedony - Emerald

Sardonyx - Sardius - Chrysolite - Beryl [Chrysolite also known as Peridot]

Topaz - Chrysoprase - Jacinth - Amethyst
Now John describes the foundation stones with some precision. He does not tell us whether they are layer upon layer, side by side, etc., but they are visible to him. Artists represent them as layers. Verses 19 and 20 are split in modern Bibles but the text is continuous.

What John actually says is the foundation stones were "adorned" with twelve precious stones, not made of the stones. But then he gives a list saying the "first foundation stone was jasper." The foundation stones bear the names of the twelve apostles and are adorned with precious stones. From his description, or perhaps the translator's work, we can not be certain what it looked like . In any case, we can be sure it is beautiful beyond our imagination.

The image at left was found in a Google® search. The source URL could not be found. The fourth layer down from top is green = emerald. The second layer up from bottom is blue = sapphire. The order of colored layers does not agree with John's description.

Citation from:
"As an example of the confusion of the translation of the stone names, the fourth stone is called "emerald" in the King James version, "carbuncle" in the Greek translation (Septuagint), "turquoise" in the New American Standard version, and "garnet" in Strong's dictionary. Note that the colors of those modern stones are all different (green, red, blue, blackish red), so we end up confused both on colors and stones.

To add to the confusion, many stones come in a variety of colors: Sapphires are not just blue, they are also colorless, pink, orange, yellow, green purple and black. And another problem is that some of the ancient names which we recognize, used to refer to different stones. For example, before medieval times, "sapphire" referred to the blue stone lapis lazuli for at least many centuries. So it has appeared to be a hopeless tangle of yarn that no one has been able to unravel."

Revelation 21:21

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Each of the twelve gates is a single pearl. (Greek = margaitou.) I assume they are gigantic but who knows? Maybe they are just little pearls and we will be able to pass through them. The function of a gate is to open and close. How the mechanics of a single pearl gate will operate is a bit of a mystery and subject to various speculations.

Do the pearl gates roll away from the opening? Float up and down ? Have a pass through opening in them ? Could each pearl be a slice that pivots ?

We must bear in mind that John described what he saw. Though Jews were prohibited by Mosaic law from eating shellfish which produce pearls, he nevertheless knew what a pearl is. Jesus used an illustration of a 'pearl of great price' in one of His teachings about the kingdom of God. He would not have used the word if His listeners did not know what a pearl is.

Less simple when we consider "the street of the city". It sounds like a single street, avenue, or boulevard, but the word translated "street" is plateia which typically means broad or square. Square is more fitting to the general description of the city. It is a square.

The mental picture of a street is one long narrow pathway ... 1,500 miles long. The use of broad or square, or plateau, gives a different picture. The city rests on transparent gold within the walls.

Revelation 21:22

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

No temple in the holy city. All the artistic depictions showing spires and church like towers are mere fancy. We don't know what structure in the city is 1,500 miles high. If you can suspend your beliefs about time and space as you know them, you can realize that God's new earth and new holy city may have little in common with what exists in our cosmos.

The Lord decided to create our cosmos to manifest as it does now. What He will do when He replaces it with a whole new heavens and earth is yet to be perceived by humans.

There is a strong hint here, or perhaps a declaration, that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb will be "seen" by inhabitants in a manner in which we can not now see. There will be no need for a building in which we worship God for He will be there among us.

Revelation 21:23

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

We know from Genesis that the first thing God did was cause light to exist, "Let there be light". In the ancient Hebrew to English what God actually said is, "I am becoming light". This is not the ordinary light we see with our eyes in our natural cosmos. This light is beyond our present comprehension but we do know it is spiritual, not physical, because Jesus was, and is, the "Light of the World."

Revelation 21:24

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

Verse 24 struck me as very cryptic until I went to the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer and saw that the Greek transliterated reads, "And the nation of the ones-being-saved in the light of her (the city) shall be walking". This tells me that the saved continue to be of their tribes and nations but will comprehend the true light and live by it and in it forever.

As to the kings of the earth bringing their glory into it I can make no intelligible remarks. I don't know what glory the kings have that they can bring into New Jerusalem. If the Holy Spirit explains this to me I will amend this document accordingly.

Revelation 21:25

In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;

The ever present glory of God and the light emanating from Him and the Son (Lamb) preclude darkness. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John .

I wonder why there are gates if they never close, and what function the pearls serve as gates. Biblical text is often figurative, metaphoric, or analagous in meaning. An excellent example is when Jesus told the disciples, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Without me you can do nothing."

All the people in His day were familiar with flocks, herds, fields and vines. Vineyards often appear in scripture. The disciples readily understood that no branch can bear fruit if severed from the vine; the source of its life. A severed branch withers and dies.

Revelation 21:26

and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;

Same challenge to my thinking about the kings in verse 24. Who are "they"? What glory? Where and how did they get glory? Back to the ISA Greek-English: "and they-shall-be-carrying the esteem and the value of-the nations into her."

Because the 'nations' are the saved, not the current nations of the earth, we can understand that they hold the Lord in the highest possible esteem. Scripture does talk about us receiving glory from the Lord in the end.

Revelation 21:27

and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

The use of 'unclean' may be a reference to the extensive descriptions of ritual uncleanliness found in Leviticus and numbers, or it may be plainly, simply, whatever is spiritually unclean. Nothing like that will be present in the holy city.

Greek-English transliterated says "one-being-common" which is rendered idiomatically as "contaminating". Nothing can get into the city to contaminate it or the saints living there.

The phrase "abomination and lying" needs amplification. Abomination occurs five times in the NASB; three times in Daniel, once in Matthew, and once in Mark. It apparently has to do with the anti-Christ who takes over the world. Jesus talked about the 'abomination of desolation' but did not define it for us.

Lying is from 'one doing falsehood'. In God's kingdom of New Jerusalem there will be only truth. Nothing false can exist in His presence for He is truth. The subject lying could stand some investigation. Since the fall of Adam, it is human nature to lie for reasons of defense or for gain. This verse does not conclude that anyone who ever told a lie cannot enter the kingdom. Best example from scripture is Simon Peter who outright lied about knowing or being associated with Jesus. Yet, the keys of the kingdom were entrusted to the church through Peter. Can there be any doubt that Peter was saved ? I think not.

The 'Lamb's Book of Life' is the list God makes of those who believe. Unbelievers can not get into the holy city and the presence of God.

Revelation 22:1+

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street.

The 'he' continues to be the angel guide. The river is not likely H2O as here on earth. In Genesis, the Spirit of God moved (or hovered) over the waters, before the earth was created. Whatever these waters are, they are not the oceans and rivers on earth. The New Earth john saw has no sea.

Yet there is a river flowing in the center of New Jerusalem. This crystal clear river is the water of life flowing from the throne. Where it goes, we do not know. It is symbolic of something we can not yet understand.

The water is crystal clear and the street is transparent as glass, but John does not mention what can be seen through them.

Revelation 22:2

On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

These remarkable trees sound much like the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden from which Adam and Eve were expelled precisely to prevent their eating of it. John says on either side of the river which I take to mean both sides, therefore two trees.

The trees bear twelve different kinds of fruit, each in its season, but we have no inkling what kinds of fruit they are. The Greek agrees with the time span of a month. We also don't know why fruiting trees are present in the holy city except for the mention of its leaves bing used for healing of the nations (of those saved).

The trees are far from what we might expect them to be. There is no sun and no rain. Yet, there are "seasons" of fruit bearing.

Revelation 22:3+4

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

No longer any curse refers to the curse God levied on earth after Adam and Eve's sin. New Jerusalem appears to be situated on the New Earth where no sinners will live. The pronoun 'it' must mean the holy city, repeating what he said previously.

The "bond-servants" are the saved, or specifically some chosen to serve God directly. Saint Paul often wrote in his letters that he was a bond-servant of Christ. The Greek word used is "douloi" which literally translated, as it is in the AV, means "slaves". It has a pejorative meaning in our culture but can not possibly have the same meaning in God's new earth.

The 'they' he refers to is, or are, the nations and the 'His' is the name of the Lord whom we will see. As Paul wrote, "Now we see dimly as in a mirror but then we shall see face to face". Pretty exciting to contemplate actually seeing the Lord !

Revelation 22:5

And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

John repeats what he told us before about no night or need for light other than from God Himself. I am puzzled by, "they will reign forever and ever." 'They' must still be referring to the nations of the saved, but reign over what? Over whom?

Revelation 22:6+7

And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."

The 'he' is the angel guide delivering the message to his bond-servant John. 'Soon take place' is very relative because to God a thousand years is like a day and vice-versa. A blessing is promised to those who believe and pay attention to the revelation.

Revelation 22:8+9

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, "Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God."

John identifies himself and the angel who tells him what Jesus said to others, "Worship God."

Revelation 22:10-21

10 And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy."

12 "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star." 17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

The angel gives John instructions to leave the scroll open for others to see.

Descriptions of the holy city concluded in verse 22:5. The remainder of the Book of Revelation concerns end times and the book itself.

Summing Up
John saw a new heaven and a new a earth, with no sea. He saw the holy city coming down from God. God himself will dwell among His people in the holy city. God will illuminate the city and the nations will walk by His light. There is no sun and no moon. It is always daytime.

The description is a paradigm shift beyond understanding. We can't tell if the new earth is anything like our earth is now. We can't even assume it is ovoid or in an orbit in space. It presently revolves around our sun star but there will be no sun.

Further, without a sea there will be no marine life, and no evaporative cycles so familiar to our carbon based life forms and ecosystem. No photosynthesis.

The city is a square 1,500 miles per side and as high. A wall of precious stones surrounds it. The base or land of the city is transparent gold. "I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple." Nothing unclean will be allowed into the city.

Whatever the city and wall are made of may be something that does not exist on earth now. The wall, the gates and the guarding angels suggest there is something from which the city requires protection. With God present and all His power available, it makes me wonder what could be outside the city wanting in.

We have no inkling as to the shape of the city's structures which rise so high. We can calculate that the area of the city is two and one quarter million (2,250,000) square miles. A human of our time would need a jet plane and four to five hours merely to go from one side to the other. Inhabitants will have some method of transport. We can only imagine the appearance of the wall and city. Nothing like it could be built on our earth by humans.

In the city will be no tears, no crying, no death ... every tear wiped away. He (God) is making all things new. He is the Alpha and Omega. The curse on the present earth will no longer be in force. The water of life flows from God's throne and is given freely. On each side of the river of life are the Tree(s) of Life. The victorious will inherit it all and be God's reborn children. The second death awaits those He classified as evil.

When the Lord God makes all things new, I understand it to mean all things. New in a way beyond our ability to conceive much less imagine. When God makes all things new He includes us who are saved to inhabit the city. We will be new in whatever form and manifestation God has in mind. I like these verses from Ecclesiastes and 1 Corinthians as descriptors ...

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecce 3:11 NIV

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 1:29 NKJV.

And so it is with the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem. Even with John's vision we have but a glimpse of some kind into our future. The Book of Revelation is as it were an "appetizer" preceding the Lord's feast. It exceeds our ability to imagine. Life eternal with the Lord is to be desired above all earth and earthly life have to offer.

John 14:2 New International Version - Jesus speaking:
"My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?"

Come Lord Jesus !

Written by © Wayne Hepburn, November 2012

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