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Chapter Twenty-One

Commentary by Tom Brown


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

new heaven and a new earth. John now comes to the final culmination of all prophecy: the glorious new age.

2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

Holy City. Unlike the whore that was a “great” City; the church is a “holy” City. One can be great but not holy. Holiness is better than greatness.

the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. The Great City of Babylon came from the earth, which makes that city carnal, but this city comes from heaven and comes into existence through the new birth from heaven.

prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. The City is not literal in the sense that when we die we walk the streets of gold, but rather the City is the bride of Christ. Remember the whore was also a City. (17:18)

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

Now the dwelling of God is with men. Although the final part of the prophecy is speaking of the coming age, John uses the description of the coming age to make the coming age practical “now”. Paul said we have a deposit of our inheritance (Eph 1:14); so this means we get a little taste of heaven now.

4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Even now we find the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

no more death. It is interesting to notice that the New Testament does not speak of “death” for the Christian but “sleep” or “depart and be with Christ.” So we do not need to fear death any more. Jesus said, “He that believes in me shall never die.” (Jn 11:26). 

old order of things has passed away. We become new creations in Christ (1 Cor 5:17).

5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

"I am making everything new!" Even now the Lord is making things new for us. We have a new beginning with the Lord.

6 He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Letters of the Greek alphabet. This proves that Jesus is God.

To him who is thirsty I will give to drink. The Lord never stops evangelizing.

without cost. Two kinds of religion: those who teach that you work for your salvation or Christianity that says that Christ worked for you to provide, free of charge, eternal life.

7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

He who overcomes will inherit all this. It is imperative for the believers to overcome the world and all its teachings and stay true to the Lord.

8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

A short list of deeds that are deserving of judgment. The list is much longer in reality.

second death. See notes 20:14

9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. Just as the angel as told John to come and see the whore, now he shows John the faithful bride.

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

See notes v 2.

11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

very precious jewel. It is normal for brides to wear jewelry. He uses this norm to paint a picture of what the church is really like.

Jasper. See notes 4:3.

12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

great, high wall. The church is impenetrable.

On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. A person enters the gates by believing of the Old Testament scriptures that predicted the coming of Christ.

13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.


14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The church is built on the teachings of the apostles which are found in the New Testament. Some skeptics say they believe only in Christ teachings, not Paul’s or Peter’s, supposing they teach the doctrine of men; however, Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude gave us the doctrines of Christ in scriptures. To deny their teachings is to lose footing on the great foundations. 

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.


   16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia a in length, and as wide and high as it is long.

square. A square has four equal sides, unlike a rectangle. This shows that in the church all are equal. The Old Testament tabernacle was a rectangle.

12,000 stadia. See notes 7:4. Numbers have symbolic meaning.

17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits b thick, c by man's measurement, which the angel was using.

144 cubits. See notes 7:4. Putting the complete numbers together, John is seeing the complete church which includes all Old and New Testament saints.

18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.

Jasper. See notes 4:3

pure gold. Most expensive product of their time. This means the church was purchased by the most costly price of all: the blood of Christ.

19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,

Jasper. See notes 4:4

emerald. One of the strongest stones of all which shows the church is very strong. Even if you feel weak you are stronger than you think.

20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. d   

chrysolite. One of the most common minerals, which shows that the church is made up of common people. Very few important and rich people come into salvation. (1 Cor 1:26)

21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

single pearl. Shows there is only a single way to be saved. Jesus is the pearl of great price. There are not multiple ways to be saved.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.


23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

glory of God gives it light. Jesus declared that we have God’s glory (Jn 17:22).

Lamb is its lamp. Not only are we the lamps to give light to a dark world, Jesus is the great “Light of the world.”

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

kings of the earth will bring their splendor. Their splendor is their wealth. God often told Israel to kill all the people but to use their wealth. Wealth can be redeemed.

25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

no day will its gates ever be shut. Salvation is 24/7. Anyone, at any time, at any place can be saved.

26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.

See notes v 24.

27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Nothing impure will ever enter it. To show we have a better covenant than Israel, every sinner may come into the church because they have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus. In the Old, the Israelites could not accept the sinners as citizens of Israel.

Previous  Chapter Twenty-Two

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