Having seen the judgment of the evil (Rev. 20:11 – 15), we now see the beauty of the Lord’s church which as ushered into eternal VICTORY, receiving the eternal PROMISE, complete with the reality of HOPE, and eternal GLORY! As noted from 20:11 – 15, this is JUDGMENT – the eternal sentencing of the WICKED and the eternal welcome into heaven for the RIGHTEOUS. THERE ARE NOT TWO RESURRECTIONS INDICATED, but two actions to the same resurrection. Understanding this reality, we examine in this chapter, the glorious eternity for the redeemed; specifically, those who are in the church of Christ.
“New heaven and new earth” has a direct reference to 20:11 where we read, “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.” Peter uses this same understanding at 2 Peter 3: 1- 11. “There was no more sea,” has reference to mortality – all TEMPORAL life is gone, and for these RIGHTEOUS ones, has become IMMORTAL (1 Corinthians 15:39 – 58). This passage also helps us recall the decision Moses placed before Israel at Deuteronomy 30: 11- 20.
John sees the HOLY CITY, NEW JERUSALEM, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. We have consistently said, “In the book of Revelation, ‘heaven’ usually is symbolic for ‘the church.’” Yet, if we held that understanding here, we would have the church coming from the church. Obviously, that will not work. “Heaven” also has the understanding of “in the presence of God,” within this work of apocryphal literature. Therefore, John sees the church “holy city, NEW Jerusalem” coming from God out of His presence, i.e., before His sight. It is adorned as a bride for her husband and thus this corresponds to Paul’s charge to Corinth at 2 Corinthians 11:2.
Notice the HOLY city – pure, sacred, consecrated
Notice NEW – Not merely due the old passing away, but because this is the ETERNAL home – never before inhabited by the souls of the redeemed!
JERUSALEM – God’s home. In the Old Testament, God placed His name in Jerusalem.
Refer to Revelation 19:7 – 8 where we first noticed this planned occasion: Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Thus, this is a “prepared place for a prepared people.” Notice this presentation at 1 Corinthians 15:24 – 28.
The voice comes from THE PRESENCE OF GOD (“heaven”) and speaks of the “tabernacle of God.” We must recall the “tabernacle” was the temporary, potable building for the wonderers of Israel in the wilderness. Notice the voice says the tabernacle is with men, and God dwells with them: they are His people, and He is with them and their God. What we are about to see is the CHURCH IN ALL ITS GLORY – THE REDEEMED OF ALL THE AGES!
Consider again the passage discussed at Revelation 7:13 – 17. In that passage, we saw the promise of relief from suffering by their obedience to the gospel. That suffering was from their sins (“great tribulation). Here, the end of their suffering is due the conclusion of all that oppresses them! PHYSICALLY they suffered (as do we), while SPIRITUALLY they rejoiced to be “counted worthy of suffering shame for His name’s sake.” Here, all that oppresses is gone: the GLORY OF THE CHURCH, THE FULFILLED PROMISE, THE VICTORY, AND THE REALITY OF THE HOPE takes the suffering away!
From the throne (thus God), John hears the voice, “Behold, I make all things new.” And the voice commanded John to write, “These words are true and faithful.” God cannot lie, thus what we shall see in this description is the truth – and just as faithful in that truth as God is faithful.
Remember this book is PROPHETIC: it has taken us from Pentecost to Judgment three times. Now, we are examining the FINAL JUDGMENT – THE SEPARATION OF GOOD AND EVIL, AND THE ETERNAL DESTINY OF EACH. The voice declares, “It is done.” Inasmuch as we note His next admission, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” we recognize it is Jesus. It is the same as He said when He died. Therefore, what Jesus brings to conclusion here is the PROPHETICALLY admitted:
The end of all time.
The end of all suffering (physical) of the righteous.
The continuation of fighting against the evil forces of this world.
Also notice the CONDITION of receiving this reward: “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” In that the statement is PROPHETIC, it is mentioned in FUTURE TENSE. Yet, the scene witnessed by John is occurring. The language is NOT confusing if we understand these events are yet future, but that John is seeing via vision THE CONCLUSION of the whole.
“He that overcometh …” is in the same sense of “futuristic presence” as described above. This reward is for only the FAITHFUL. Yet, this is the scene where those who HAVE overcome are rewarded. Thus, the text continues giving hope to the reader, rather than a “too late, it’s already been done” sensation to the reader! The Spirit and the church are still saying the world, “Come, obey Christ!” The “overcoming” has been a decree throughout this book (see the letters to the seven churches, and 12:11) and is shown to the power of victory at 1 John 5:4.
Still speaking, Jesus says, “But 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.” First, recognize the listing is NOT COMPLETE – it lists a “characteristic” of sins, as Paul did to Corinth.We noticed in chapter 20 the eternal destruction of the beast of the earth and the beast of the sea: both cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, which is defined “the second death.” Here we find all followers of such wickedness (identified by the listing of various ungodly practices – each shown to have existed in the evil city of Babylon, i.e., capital of all evil things) are cast into the same eternal fate. Again, while spoken in “future tense” the scene already showed this consequence. The reason is to emphasize the eternal destruction of the wicked and the eternal reward of the faithful!
We need to be very clear in our explanation of this chapter and that of the next: even as we have endeavored throughout this written commentary. NO ONE HAS A LITERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE DESCRIPTION OF HEAVEN (1 Cor. 2:9). However, using that same passage of scripture, we read, “But God hath revealed them (the joys awaiting those that love Him) unto us BY His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” Noting the revealing of these joys is through the Spirit, continue reading through verse 16, noting carefully verse 14: “But the natural man receiveth not eh things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know the, BECAUSE THEY ARE SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED.” Therefore, what we read in Revelation 20 (or any passage, but especially those describing things of SPIRITUAL nature instead of TEMPORAL). It is my personal conviction this chapter describes the CHURCH (the Lamb’s wife) and NOT heaven! It does, however, describe this GLORIOUS BODY as the PROMISED REDEEMED and as such, “the church eternal” or “the church in heaven,” are appropriate terms. The CHURCH (vs. 2,9) is what the messenger promised to show John, and there is no reason to believe something else was revealed to John. It is agreed, the CHURCH (the Lamb’s wife) is heaven bound and is so in its pristine state because Paul spoke of our espousal to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2). What we shall see in this glorious description of the church the greatness of its beauty, (albeit using TEMPORAL things to cause our finite minds to grasp the best of the promised eternity, which is SPIRITUALLY discerned), we see several passages reminding us this is the CHURCH and not heaven! We will show these as we examine the explanation of the remaining verses.
This messenger is one that bore the seven last vials containing the one of the seven last plagues. It is interesting one of these messengers showed John the destruction of the wicked (Revelation 17:1) and now shows him the glorious state of the redeemed! (Revelation 19:7 – 8) He says plainly to John, “Come hither, I will show thee the BRIDE, THE LAMB’S WIFE.” Read and study Ephesians 5:22 – 33 for verification of the “wife” being the CHURCH.
John is carried to great and high mountain (elevated site for observing this glory) and showed John THAT GREAT CITY, THE HOLY JERUSALEM – both names associated with THE CHURCH, “descending our of heaven” (coming from His presence).
The CHURCH glistens before John “having the glory of God.” Notice from Ephesians 5, “that He might present it to Himself a GLORIOUS church …” The brilliance of this glory has only the best of description as stone “most precious, a jasper stone, clear as crystal.”
Its wall was great (strong) and high (protective – as one might image the great and high wall reconstructed to preserve the HOLY city of Jerusalem.) Twelve gates must NOT be misconstrued as thinking “twelve entrances into the church.” Rather, twelve gates show “relationship between God and man via OBEDIENCE TO GOD. Note throughout Scripture such cases: twelve tribes of Israel, twelve angels, twelve apostles, etc.) It is a PERFECT NUMBER so that entrance to the city is governed by God and not by mankind. At each gate is a messenger, and the engraving of the twelve names of the twelve tribes of Israel show God’s continuance of FAMILY in this city – not “all encompassing of all mankind.”
Each of the four sides contains three gates. Thus, there is equal opportunity for all men to enter: but they must comply to God’s manner of entrance!
Again, the number twelve (complete number) stated in relationship to the foundation. “Twelve foundations” contained the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. We know fourteen men in all held the office of apostle of Christ (Barnabas being an apostle of the church.) Judas surrendered that office. The number 14 indicates not the “names of each apostle” but rather the completeness of that office served for the purpose of establishment of the church!
John sees now a “golden reed” used to measure the city, the gates, and the wall. It is not to see “how large” but rather to note the ACCURACY of this perfect, holy city of God!
“Foursquare” means “four cornered; square.” It grants the impression of being a “cube” – “square at all four corners and from any direction observed; equal in every perspective!” Thus, the church is PERFECTLY FORMED, and described just as we suggested: “the length is as large as the breadth.” “Twelve thousand furlongs” shows the bounds of a complete and stable religious relationship with God.
Twelve times twelve = 144. The size of the protective wall of this holy city is thus the prefect of perfection! Nothing will enter the city that fails compliance with the Ruler of the city. Further, nothing will leave the city without the express order of the Ruler: sin would be the only element by which expulsion would be the order. However, with this type of protection, and God as its Ruler, sin cannot enter this HOLY PLACE. Likewise, the Christian would need to “leave the order of God” to sin … and in fact does so! When the Christian desires return to the safety and protection of Christ and His church, THE RULES OF ENTRANCE are non-negotiable! Thus, the gates of the city (protected entrance) serve also as protection against LEAVING the city!
The wall was jasper (precious stone) and the city itself of pure gold … like unto clear glass! The purity of this precious is COMPLETELY without dross! When recalling Peter’s description of the church we cannot ignore SOULS comprise this city/bride/house/kingdom/church. This being so, it is SOULS who comprise this wall. Its preciousness is that of highly valued stone (jasper … some suggestion diamond) and the pricelessness is that of purest gold! WE DARE NOT FORGET ALL OF THIS WAS PURCHASED BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST (ACTS 20:28). NO GREATER VALUE EXISTS!
– 21. The foundation stones each cause our minds to ponder the PRICELESS VALUE of this HOLY CITY – THIS BEAUTIFUL BRIDE OF THE LAMB! Notice again the TWELVE foundations (examine again verse 14) and the preciousness of these twelve foundations (religious relationship to God, the blood of Christ and the allegiance of the apostles in this work.)
John now sees the GATES – each one a PEARL. The greatness of such a pearl (not to mention TWELVE TIMES THE VALUE OF ONE ALONE) is beyond comprehension. Thus, “eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither has entered the imagination of man” the immense beauty and value of what God has prepared for those that love him – even the value of the church itself! Peering through the gates, John sees a street of pure gold, transparent as glass. Thus, the purity of the church is beyond the concept of mortal mind – IT IS SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED!
This concludes the EXTERIOR view of the church … John will now describe the INTERNAL view.
John sees no temple within the city … nothing of “man-made” origin but rather the most precious and eternal “TEMPLE”! He says plainly, “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” The meaning is all within this city live in God and Christ. This is the criteria of the city: obey Him and enter, disobey, and never enter.
This holy city (the church) had no need of sun or moon for light: THE GLORY OF GOD and THE LAMB are its light. Multiple passages related God as light and Jesus as the light of the world. When combined, this light is the ONLY illumination within the church!
Note here the restriction of who shall walk within this city: THE NATIONS OF THEM WHICH ARE SAVED. It is not limited to the lowly of those who obey the gospel, but even kings bring their glory and honor. While such honor dims greatly in the presence of the Almighty, the fact their lofty position is an example to man, what greater example can they give than obedience to God?
Since there is no night there (constant light), there is no need to close the gates. THE OPPORTUNITY FOR ENTRANCE TO THE CHURCH IS CONTINUAL AS LONG AS TIME ENDURES!
– 27. As long as souls are obeying the gospel, those souls bring with them GLORY and HONOR … it is the GLORY AND HONOR of Christ’s blood that saves them and therefore, the means of entrance to this holy city! Nothing of uncleanness, defiling nature, abominable nature or lies enter this holy city! ONLY THOSE WHO ARE WRITTEN IN THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE enter this city! THIS IS WHAT KEEPS IT HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH.
 John 5:28 – 29; Romans 2:1 - 11
 1 Kings 9:3; 11:36
 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 18
 Acts 5:41
 Hebrews 10:23
 Revelation 1:8, 11
 John 19:30
 Revelation 22:17
 1 John 5:4 – For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
 1 Corinthians 6: 9 - 11
 Matthew 25:31 - 46
 See Acts 10:34 - 35
 Ephesians 2:20
 1 Peter 2: 1- 10
 2 John 9
 1 John 1: 5 - 10