[This is an excerpt from my book, Mankind’s Final 7 Years Before Christ Returns: A verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Revelation]
21 And 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.
Again, the heaven (sky) and the earth will never be completely destroyed (Psalm 104:5). But the wicked, and their works, will be destroyed.
In 2 Peter 3:6, we are told that the earth will be destroyed by fire in the same way it was destroyed by water in the days of Noah. Genesis 7:11 says that the rivers of the deep burst forth at the same time the flood-gates of heaven were opened. So basically, we will have a torrential firestorm raining down at the same time rivers of lava burst forth from underground. When this occurs, on a global scale, the earth will literally be destroyed, but it will still be here.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
In verse 9, the new Jerusalem is clearly identified as the bride of Christ.
3 And 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.
4 And 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.
5 And 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.
Notice that God did not say “I made all new things.” He will not destroy the earth and build a new one, He will destroy and rebuild the same one. The words “I make” indicate an ongoing process.
6 And 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.
There is much debate as to exactly what is finished.
“Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” symbolizes God’s absolute power and sovereignty. In Revelation 1:8, God calls Himself the Alpha and Omega. In Revelation 22:13, Jesus calls Himself the Alpha and Omega. This only makes sense if Jesus actually is God.
The water of life flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22:1). “I will give unto him…” is a call to salvation. Isaiah 12:3 says, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” Jesus said, in John 4:14 “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (See also- Revelation 7:13-17)
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
This verse is basically saying that we have been warned of the things to come, and must be steadfast in our faith. This verse mirrors the admonition to the churches in Revelation 2:11.
8 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.
This verse actually concludes the chronological events of Revelation. In the remaining verses, we will be given more details of the new Jerusalem, and given some final admonitions.
9 And 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.
In chapter 17, one of the seven angels having the bowls of wrath, offered further details in the judgment of the great harlot. Here, one of the seven offers further details of the new Jerusalem, which is the bride (now the wife) of Jesus Christ. The description of the new Jerusalem will appear much like the millennial temple described in Ezekiel 40-48. There are, however, many differences, and the descriptions of the new Jerusalem are largely symbolic of the church (see Ephesians 2:11-22).
10 And 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,
John is carried, in the spirit, to a high mountain, but in Revelation 16:20, at the seventh bowl of wrath, all mountains were removed. So, either John, being in the spirit, is not actually on a mountain, or this mountain has been created as God rebuilds the earth (verse 5). Another possibility is that the New Jerusalem is symbolic of the church, which came to earth with Jesus at His second coming, before the bowls of wrath.
11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
The new Jerusalem has the glory of God, in contrast to the old Jerusalem which had the glory of man (Revelation 18:16). John makes an attempt to describe God’s glory in human terms.
12 And 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:
13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
There are angels posted at the gates, but verse 25 tells us the gates are never shut. In verse 20 we will discuss the gates having the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Ephesians 2:20 says that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And 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.
This is 1,500 miles in each direction. The earth, as we know it, could not support a literal city like this. For one thing, most of the city would be in outer space. So, either the city is symbolic, or the new heavens and new earth will be capable of supporting a literal city like this.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
19 And 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;
20 The 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.
This seems to be a reference to the twelve stones on the breastplate of the Jewish high priest (Exodus 28:15-21). Though the stones listed are not identical, or in the same order, this symbolizes (as did the gates in verses 12-13) that Israel is the root of Christianity (Romans 11:11-20).
21 And 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.
22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23 And 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.
Some view this as there being literally no sun or moon (or sea in verse 1), while others view it as being symbolic. Also, note that this verse does not say that there is no longer a sun and moon. It says the city does not need the sun and moon to light it, because the glory of God will illuminate it. Revelation 22:5 adds that there will be no night there. Isaiah chapter 60 echoes this and following verses, yet Isaiah 60 is generally believed to be messianic prophecies.
24 And 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.
This seems like a contradiction, because the nations and kings were said to be destroyed in Revelation 20:8-9. The King James Version adds the words “of them which are saved”. If the New Jerusalem is literal, the earthly kingdom of Jesus will, apparently, be carried over into the eternal kingdom, with the exception that there will be absolutely no unbelievers. If the New Jerusalem is symbolic of the church, however, then this could be referring to the millennial reign of Jesus.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
27 And 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
Whether the New Jerusalem exists during the millennium, or after, there will be no unrighteous allowed to enter.