1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
In Revelation 20:11 the old heaven and earth fled away from before Christ. Here they are declared as passed away. There is also no more sea. Here there is a new heaven and a new earth presented. These symbols have been covered in great volume through my articles and should be familiar to the reader. 2 Peter 3:7-13 echoes this as does the book of Hebrews (which echoes this whole chapter, truly). The sea is the sea of separation between God and the Gentiles, the Islands are no longer Islands but are part of the New Earth.
2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
John now sees the woman from chapter 12 that was in Heaven descending (as spoken of in Revelation 3:12). This vision is in contrast to the reality of 1 Corinthians 15:24 where the kingdom is pictured as being delivered up to Heaven and back to God. This woman, the new Jerusalem, is as a bride adorned for her husband, not a betrothed bride awaiting marriage, but the newlywed made beautiful for her husband for the wedding feast. Hebrews 12:22-23 explicitly identifies this image as the church of Christ. The church is also called the city of God which will further be described below. This new Jerusalem is the Jerusalem above in contrast to old physical Jerusalem as found in Galatians 4.
3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Echoing John 14:23, God will come and dwell with His people who are the New Testament Temple of God. This is not the faithful going to dwell with Him in Heaven, but God coming to dwell in the faithful.
4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Echoing Isaiah 65:19 the end to tears and death and sorry and all of this is a reference to the end of persecution at the hands of the Jews. That persecution, which was the most intense recorded in scripture, has passed away with the passing of the Jewish system of things.
5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
The old has vanished away (Heb. 8:13) and Christ has made all things new just as promised (2 Cor 5:17), just as prophesied.
6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
God, who is the beginning and end of all things, He who began the Israelite nation for their specific purpose, has now ended them. Those who seek after righteousness will find the gospel. I firmly believe this is a declaration of Divine Providence that any in the world who would obey the gospel are given exposure to it. The major lesson of Revelation for Christians is that God ALWAYS keeps His promises.
7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
The last admonition to overcome to those who would receive John’s letter is that they would inherit this new system as the children of God, the new Israel. Specifically this verse limits the extent of the epilogue, Revelation 21-22, to the time period presented in the rest of the book.
8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Those who give in to seductions of the whore, those who fall prey to the earth beast’s false teachings, those wicked servants who bury their talent, all classes of people who persecuted the church will face the same fate, the end of their cause.
9And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
One of the messengers then calls John to see the bride of Christ, Christ’s wife. This is the church of Christ (Eph. 5:22-32).
10And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
In showing John the bride of Christ, John sees “the great city”. This is the final proof that the great city from before, the wicked whore called Babylon, is old Jerusalem. For now the new Jerusalem is the great city, the holy Jerusalem. John sees the holy, pure church in symbolic form.
11Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
Harkening back to the scene in Revelation 4, the woman is adorned with the symbols of the King.
12And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The wall of the new Jerusalem, the church, provides ultimate protection from those who would do it harm. The wall has twelve symbolic gates. There are twelve messengers representing the twelve tribes. This wall is symbolic of the protection afforded by the gospel. The gates or the entry into the city represent the Old Testament, the teacher or school master, by which we can understand the New. It was the 1500 years of Jewish history that led man to understand Christ and from these twelve tribes Christ arose.
The foundation for entry into the city, though, rests on the teachings of the apostles, the gospel message. No matter where one is in relation to the city, the only way to enter is according to the gospel.
In total, this is parallel to the 24 elders from chapter 4. It represents all of God’s faithful both Old and New Testament, who have remained obedient to God, bringing about the full establishment of the church through their preaching, through their example. Their lessons, recorded in scripture, serve as a beacon of light, of hope, and a protective barrier to those who would enter her, sealing them with the assurance these have already realized.
15And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
The golden reed is similar to that given to Ezekiel. It is a standard by which to measure the dimensions of the church, the gospel. In Ezekiel, the city was measured for destruction. Here, the city measures up to God’s standard and will stand in victory in spite of the enemies which now have been destroyed.
16And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
The city is the new earth taking up enough space to fill the whole promised land (Palestine) the “earth”. This is because the church, the people of God, ARE the new earth. This is in fulfillment of the promise that the Christians would inherit the earth (Isaiah 11:9; Matthew 5:5).
17And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
The 144 (12x12) cubits of thickness of the wall is a reiteration of the wall itself. The messenger that is a man is the work of Christians to preach the gospel to one another to keep the church sound (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; etc.).
18And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
The city is adorned as the woman is adorned because they are one in the same. The gold is the richness and purity of the gospel.
19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
These harken back to the priests vestments in Exodus 28. The foundations of the walls, which are the apostles, are pictured in the vestments of the priests for they are the ones who brought man closer to God through their preaching.
21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
The pearl is white representing purity and great value and is associated with the gospel (Matthew 7:6; Matthew 13:45-46). None can enter the city without first being purified by the gospel (James 1:21). The street of the city, the path Christians walk, is the path of light (1 John 1:7) and is the pure path of the gospel.
22And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
No more temple exists because the city/woman/body of Christ (the Lamb) are the Temple. No physical temple remains as it was destroyed, but the spiritual temple, the house not made with hands, now has God dwelling in it.
23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
The church has no earthly rulers as Israel did. The new heavens, the new ruling power, is Christ Himself, the King of Kings.
24And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
The Gentiles (nations) and (former) Jews (princes of the earth) who converted to Christianity bring their righteousness to it.
25And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
This last portion also indicates that this is the church here in the mortal realm rather than some “glorified” version of the church in Heaven. The gates are not shut allowing people to still enter the city/church (which won’t be true after the end of the kosmos). Only the pure, only those who have obeyed the gospel may enter having been written into the book of life upon their immersion into Christ.
In Truth and Love.