The final two chapters of Revelation are the fulfillment of Isaiah 65:17 “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.” This vision comprises the last major component of the Apocalypse. This chapter stresses the renewed fellowship between God and his people, and the vision encourages the reader to see in this final vision a modification of or, in some ways, a return to the garden of Eden.
Revelation 21:1 - 7
Vs 1 – 2: The vision begins by offering an all-encompassing view of the new heavens and new earth and a foretaste of the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven. The new heaven and earth are marked, by the absence of powers or evil that resists God and causes death. Some hold that the New Jerusalem is a physical city, some suggest it is a symbol of the church in its perfected and eternal state. Regardless, the point is that Jerusalem is the location of the temple where the presence of God dwells. In this vision New Jerusalem is adorned as a bride for her husband. Recall in chapter 19 the people of God are presented as a bride; but here the same figure is used of the place of their dwelling place, the heavenly Jerusalem.
Vs 3 – 4: The voice from heaven declares that God’s dwelling place is with the people. When John writes that God’s home or the tabernacle of God is with us, he is saying that God in his glory has come to dwell with us. This does not suggest a temporary dwelling, but from here on God will dwell with his people for all eternity. It is the presence of God, and the fellowship of ALL believers, that contains the basic distinctive of the coming age. The result is death, sadness, and pain become part of the “old way” and has passed away. In Revelation death is an adversary that must be defeated and abolished thus death is now eliminated altogether.
Vs 5 – 7: God’s silence in Heaven is broken when he declares, “I am making everything new!” The throne upon which God sits represents his sovereignty and majesty. It is from this position of power that he announces his intention of creating the new order. God proclaims, “It is finished!” All is done now that God has made all things new.
God is the beginning which means he is the foundation of all of time, the source, and the origin of all things. He the end in the sense that He directs all of time and history toward the overthrow of all evil and the source of the new creation. He calls those who are thirsty to drink from the spring of the water of life. Scripture often depicts thirst as the desire of the soul for God and eternal life.
The overcomers and victors will receive these blessings. In the letters to the seven churches, we learned that the overcomers would eat from the tree of life, not be hurt by the second death, be given hidden manna and a white stone, receive authority over the nations, their names will not be blotted from the book of life, be a pillar in the temple of God, and sit with Christ on his throne. All this is the inheritance of those who remain faithful during the period of final testing.
God declares the victors will be his children and he will be their God. Those who deny Christ and who were seduced by the solicitations of the prostitute Babylon have no inheritance in the family of God.
Revelation 21: 8 - 14
Vs 8: Those who live contrary to the ways of God… the cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars will receive their destiny… the second death which is the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the same fate as the Beast, False Prophet, and the Dragon.
Vs 10 – 14: John is taken in the Spirit to a great mountain to see the Holy City descending from heaven. As the holy city descends, it shines with a brightness that shows the presence and glory of God. This is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel that in restoration the glory or presence of the Lord will rise upon them and He will be their everlasting light.
The city is surrounded by a great wall with twelve gates, which are guarded by twelve angels. The wall is not needed for security reasons it is simply part of the description of an ideal city as understood by ancient peoples who viewed the security of a city by its strong outer walls. There are twelve gates, and they are named after the twelve tribes of Israel. It is believed that the twelve gates symbolize plentiful entrance.
Vs 14: The mention of the “Twelve apostles” is a reference to the disciples. Historically, the church rests upon the apostles and prophets, this means it’s foundation is built upon the faith and efforts of those who first proclaimed the gospel message. The combination of the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles shows the unity of ancient Israel and the NT church.
Revelation 21:19 - 27
Vs 19 – 20: The twelve stones parallel the twelve gems that are in the breastplate of the high priest, this suggests that the privileges once reserved for the high priest alone under the old covenant are now available to all the people of God. These precious stones were/are desirable for their beauty and scarcity. The stones mentioned in the Bible are hard to identify with any precision because of the many different types and colors as well as the lack of a standard terminology. But the idea behind the description of this city is that the city is magnificent beyond description.
Vs 22: John notes that there is no temple in this new city. There is no temple because it is the symbol of God’s dwelling place and now God dwells among his people.
Vs 23: The New Jerusalem does not have a sun or moon to shine because everything is illuminated by the glory of God.
Vs 24 – 26: John does not envision salvation for a small handful of people and the destruction or annihilation of most of the humanity. This hope for the nations differs from Jewish sources that expected the Gentile nations to be annihilated at the end of the age or to be defeated and to bring tribute to Jerusalem.
The gates of the New Jerusalem are open because with the destruction of evil there is no need for security. Day continues forever without interruption because darkness never comes. Thus, there is no need of closing gates.
Vs 27: Everyone who enters the city are those whose names are written in the book of life. Only those who dwell in the new city have access to it.
Revelation 22:1 - 5
Vs 1 - 2: The central point of this verse is that in the eternal state the faithful will live at the source of the life-giving stream that proceeds from the very presence of God. In the New Jerusalem the river in the street is pure and gives life. It is a sign of blessing. On each side of the river is a tree of life and in the early chapters of Genesis we read that if Adam had eaten of the tree of life, he would have lived forever. Thus, the tree of life was a regular feature in Jewish portrayals of Paradise. To eat of its fruit would give eternal life. The tree bore twelve kinds of fruit and there was both an abundance and a variety of fruit that are emphasized. This is seen as God’s provision is new and plentiful.
The tree also has leaves that bring about healing. This is intended to show that in the restored Eden everything has been reversed: originally eating of one tree brought the curse—now eating of this tree brings eternal life. The healing leaves signify the complete and total absence of physical and spiritual want. The life to come will be a life of abundance and perfection.
Vs 3 - 4: There will be no more curse that humanity brought upon itself in the Garden of Eden. This curse will be removed for all eternity. In return the greatest of all eternity’s blessings is reflected in the one phrase, “They will see his face.” Recall, Moses, the great lawgiver, was not permitted to see the face of God because God had declared, “No one may see me and live”. To see God’s face means direct communion with him.
On the foreheads of God’s servants will be stamped the name of God. His name stands for his character. The followers of the beast bore the mark of the beast upon their foreheads, contrarily the faithful will bear the name of God upon theirs. This metaphor emphasizes ownership and likeness.
Vs 5: In the New Jerusalem God’s presence, and his glory makes all sources of light unnecessary, thus there is no darkness or night. Revelation ends with the promise of the restoration of all things. In Romans Paul teaches creation is currently in bondage to deterioration, it groans as it eagerly awaits the time when it will be freed from its captivity of death and decay. This takes place when the children of God are brought into the eternal glory that God has prepared for them. The Revelation of John is the final chapter in God’s eternal plan for his people. It brings us full circle to the original intent of God in his creation of all that is.
Revelation 22:6 - 10
Verses 6–21 of chapter 22 form the Epilogue of the book of Revelation.
Vs 6: The angel verifies that this revelation is authentic throughout the whole vision. These words are trustworthy and true. The angel confirms that he was sent by God to show John all the things that must come to pass.
Vs 7: The speaker is now Jesus, and he informs the reader that he is coming soon. He announces a blessing to those who stand fast in the great persecution about to break upon the church. They are the ones who keep the prophetic commands of the book.
Vs 8 – 9: John attests to all that he has heard, seen, and recorded in the book. John once again falls to worship the angel but is prevented from carrying out his intention by the angel, who explains that he is a fellow servant with John, the other prophets, and those who keep the words of the book. The angel’s urging, “Worship God!” puts in the most concise form of the theme of the book of Revelation.
Vs 10: The angel now tells him that it is important that the visions should not be sealed up and all that John has seen is prophetic and should be shared, heard, and understood. Since “the time is near,” the message of judgment and hope is to be proclaimed among the churches.
Vs 11 – 22: Jesus announces again that he is coming soon and when he comes, he will bring rewards to repay the deeds of the people.
The chapter closes out with another blessing to those who remained faithful to God during this time of persecution as they will have access to the eternal city. Those who deny him will be left and thrown outside the gates with the dogs.
The revelation concludes with a stark warning against adding to or taking away from this message. This warning is not addressed to scribes who might be tempted to corrupt the text (but to “everyone who hears,” (the members of the seven churches of Asia) where the book was to be read aloud. The caution is against malicious alteration of the message.
The Apocalypse closes with Christ speaking again and informing everyone that he is coming soon to which John says, Yes Lord come soon.
The book of Revelation is complete. It is intended to inform the readers of that day (and for us) that God is sovereign, and his eternal plan will come to fruition. However, until that time there will be aggression and resistance, but this all must come to pass. People will be faced with the choice of pledging their allegiance to the beast or to the Lamb. Those who choose the mark of the beast will eventually share the same fate. The great city Babylon will fall. Those who choose to follow the Lamb, will be brought into eternal fellowship with God in the city of New Jerusalem. The end has been explained to the recipients of Revelation. Believers are encouraged to remain faithful and wait eagerly for the return of Christ, who will forever destroy evil and bring in the eternal state of blessedness.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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