New Defender's Study Bible Notes
21:1 new earth. The first two chapters of the Bible describe the first heaven and the first earth in their primeval “very good” created state. Now the last two chapters describe the new heaven and new earth, once again made “very good” by their Creator. Actually the word “new” here is not neos, meaning “novel” or “young,” but kainos, meaning “fresh” or “renewed.” That is, the new earth will be the old earth made new again by purging out all the age-long evidences of sin and the curse, decay, and death. The very “elements” will have been melted and dissolved in fervent heat (II Peter 3:10-12), then all brought together again by the Creator in a perfect world once again. Furthermore, the new heaven and the new earth will “remain before me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 66:22), “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:13), and “the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17).
21:1 passed away. Note that Christ’s prophecy, made long before (Matthew 24:35) will finally be fulfilled, the only entity surviving from that previous world being the eternal Word of God (Psalm 119:160).
21:1 no more sea. Evidently there will be no need in the eternal earth for “this great and wide sea” (Psalm 104:25), and all the world will be habitable by human beings. There will still be water, however, for the “pure river of water of life” will flow eternally from the throne of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1). There will also be waters “above the heavens” again (Psalm 148:4,6). The hydrology and meteorology of the new earth and its new atmospheric heaven will be, in many respects, like those of the Edenic world.
21:2 I John. This is the first time that John has identified himself by name since the very beginning (Revelation 1:1, 4, 9) of his message. The scene before his eyes was so magnificent that he must emphasize that he himself was really there observing it.
21:2 out of heaven. The new Jerusalem is not synonymous with heaven, as many think, for it will come “down from God out of heaven,” and then be established on the new earth, there to remain forever.
21:2 bride. The gloriously white city reminds John of a bride coming to her husband, and is even called “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9; see also Revelation 19:7-9; 22:17; Ephesians 5:25-27).
21:3 tabernacle. The ancient tabernacle in the wilderness, where God “dwelt,” and occasionally communicated with His earthly people Israel, was merely a type of the eternal tabernacle, the new Jerusalem, where God will personally dwell forever with all His people from every nation. Compare Leviticus 26:11; Zechariah 2:11. Also remember that when Jesus “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14) in the days of His flesh, He was “Emmanuel,” meaning “God with us,” this also being a type of His future continual dwelling among us (Matthew 1:23).
21:4 all tears. Note Isaiah 25:8-9 and Revelation 7:17. Our tears of sorrow will in that day be turned into tears of joy and thanksgiving.
21:5 true and faithful. Note Revelation 3:14; 19:11.
21:6 beginning and the end. The Lord Jesus Christ is both Creator (Colossians 1:16) and Consummator (Colossians 1:20) of all things (Romans 11:36). Note also Revelation 1:8,11; 2:8; 3:14; 22:13).
21:6 water of life. This is both literal water (Revelation 22:1, 17) and the spiritual water of everlasting life (John 4:14; 7:37-39).
21:7 He that overcometh. Seven wonderful promises were made to “him that overcometh” in the letters to the seven churches (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21), and these are all summed up here. We shall share in the very inheritance of Christ Himself (Hebrews 1:2; Psalm 2:8; Romans 8:17; I Peter 1:4,5; I Corinthians 3:21-23). As sons of God by adoption by God’s grace (Romans 8:15), we share in the infinite inheritance of the one who is Son of God from eternity.
21:8 fearful. This fear refers not so much to physical cowardice as to lack of true faith which faith must be evidenced by public commitment to Christ. Note Mark 4:40; II Timothy 1:7; Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10).
21:8 unbelieving. Final, unchanging, refusal to believe on Christ as Son of God and personal Savior is the only ultimately unforgivable sin (John 3:18).
21:8 whoremongers. The “abominable” are those who practice “abominations”—that is, the blasphemous and licentious practices associated with idolatry. “Murderers” are those guilty, not of manslaughter or of slayings in warfare of self-defense, but of willful criminal homicide. “Whoremongers,” in the meaning of the Greek pornos, refers not only to pimps but to any who practice or promote sexual activity outside of marriage.
21:8 sorcerers. The “sorcerer” (Greek pharmakeus) is one who uses drugs to induce pseudo-religious fantasies and occult experiences.
21:8 idolaters. “Idolaters” are those who are devoted to any object, spirit, person or practice which takes the place of God in their lives.
21:8 liars. “Liars” are those who practice deception and falsehood, especially false teachers (II Peter 2:1-3; Jude 4,13).
21:8 fire. This is the last reference to “fire” in the Bible. The first was in Genesis 19:24. Both also involve brimstone (see on Revelation 20:10) and both involve divine judgment on sin.
21:8 second death. See note on Revelation 20:14.
21:12 twelve gates. The description of the glorious holy city, the new Jerusalem, is too detailed to admit of anything but literal interpretation, though there have been many efforts to try to spiritualize it. There is every reason to believe that John is describing exactly what he saw, and that God means exactly what He says (note the warning in Revelation 22:18-19). In other words, the holy city is a literal city on a literal earth, with dimensions and descriptions exactly as recorded.
21:12 twelve tribes. The fact that both the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:14) are inscribed on the city’s foundational structures indicates that “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9) who will indwell and personify the city, is composed of believers from both old and new covenants, both before and after the first coming of Christ, Israel and the church. Compare also Ephesians 2:14, 19-21.
21:16 twelve thousand furlongs. The Greek word here is stadia, and the equivalent of 12,000 stadia is approximately 1380 miles, which is the length of each side of this gigantic cubical city (some writers have suggested that the city might be of pyramid shape, but pyramid-shaped towers—ever since Babel—have been associated with pagan idolatry, whereas the cube, beautifully suggesting the divine Trinity (see note on Romans 1:20) is the shape specified by God for the holy place in the temple (I Kings 6:20).
21:21 twelve pearls. The pearly gates, each consisting of 1380 miles of solid pearl, are never closed (Revelation 21:25), thus providing access to the city at every level throughout its great height.
21:21 street of the city. The “street of the city” must be an inter-connected complex of both horizontal streets and vertical streets (like elevator shafts), all of translucent gold. The glorified bodies of the saints will be like that of Christ (Philippians 3:21), capable of moving at great speed through space (note John 20:17; also Daniel 9:21-23), and therefore can easily move both horizontally and vertically about the city. How it is that the streets of pure gold can also be like transparent glass we do not yet understand. However, “the gold is mine, saith the LORD” (Haggai 2:8), and He can do with it as He will. The city will be of indescribable beauty in its total aspect (I Corinthians 2:9).
21:22 temple of it. All the purposes of a localized temple will have been served; God’s presence will henceforth be immediate and forever. “The Lord God Almighty” is His name of infinite majesty, “the Lamb” of His suffering yet spotless humanity. He is eternally the God-Man.
21:23 no need of the sun. Although the city will not need the light of the sun and moon, they will continue to exist forever (note Psalm 89:36; 148:3,6; Ecclesiastes 3:14), along with all the stars (e.g., Daniel 12:3).
21:24 kings of the earth. The identity of these “kings of the earth” and “the nations of them which are saved” is somewhat enigmatic at this time. There seem to be two possibilities. Assuming the new earth is the same size as the present earth, there will be extensive land areas outside the holy city (even the vast area occupied by the city would only cover about 1/75 of the earth’s surface, with none of the surface occupied by ocean waters). Consequently, in addition to their extensive “mansions” (John 14:2) in the holy city itself, each of the twenty billion or so inhabitants could have extensive “country estates” in the earth outside the city. It is noteworthy that there will still be a divine recognition of the “nations” that God had established. Even though there is only one race (i.e., the human race—Acts 17:26), there will always be nations. Another possibility is that all true believers among the earthly nations and kings will still be in their natural flesh, having been translated (like Enoch and Elijah) into the heavenly city before the holocaust and then returned to the new earth, finally to fill it and have godly dominion over it as God originally commanded Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26-28). This would help explain the occasional Biblical references to “perpetual generations” (e.g., Genesis 9:12) and similar expressions (Genesis 22:17; Isaiah 9:7; Ephesians 3:21). Once the earth was “filled,” then future generations could be sent out to colonize other planets, and so on, forever. At this time, we simply don’t know.
21:25 no night there. Although there will be no “night” in the city itself, there will continue to be day and night in the cosmos as a whole (e.g., Revelation 20:10), as well as “months” on the new earth (Revelation 22:2).