View Revelation 21 in the note window.
1: And I saw - So it runs, (Re 19:11,20:1,4,11), in a
succession. All these several representations follow one another in order:
so the vision reaches into eternity. A new heaven and a new earth - After
the resurrection and general judgment. St. John is not now describing a
flourishing state of the church, but a new and eternal state of all things.
For the first heaven and the first earth - Not only the lowest part of
heaven, not only the solar system, but the whole ethereal heaven, with all
its host, whether of planets or fixed stars, (Isa 34:4,Mt 24:29).
All the former things will be done away, that all may become new,
verses (Re 21:4,5,2Pe 3:10,12).
Are passed away - But in the fourth verse it is said, "are gone away."
There the stronger word is used; for death, mourning, and sorrow go away
all together: the former heaven and earth only pass away, giving place
to the new heaven and the new earth.
2: And I saw the holy city - The new heaven, the new earth,
and the new Jerusalem, are closely connected. This city is
wholly new, belonging not to this world, not to the millennium,
but to eternity. This appears from the series of the vision,
the magnificence of the description, and the opposition of this
city to the second death, (Re 20:11,12,21:1,2,5,8,9,22:5).
Coming down - In the very act of descending.
3: They shall be his people, and God himself shall be with
them, and be their God - So shall the covenant between God and his
people be executed in the most glorious manner.
4: And death shall be no more - This is a full proof that
this whole description belongs not to time, but eternity.
Neither shall sorrow, or crying, or pain, be any more: for the
former things are gone away - Under the former heaven, and upon
the former earth, there was death and sorrow, crying and pain;
all which occasioned many tears: but now pain and sorrow are
fled away, and the saints have everlasting life and joy.
5: And he that sat upon the throne said - Not to St. John
only. From the first mention of "him that sat upon the throne,"(Re 4:2), this is the first speech which is expressly ascribed
to him. And he - The angel. Saith to me Write - As follows.
These sayings are faithful and true - This includes all that went
before. The apostle seems again to have ceased writing, being
overcome with ecstasy at the voice of him that spake.
6: And he - That sat upon the throne. Said to me, It is
done - All that the prophets had spoken; all that was spoken,(Re 4:1). We read this expression twice in this prophecy:
first, (Re 16:17), at the fulfilling of the wrath of God;
and here, at the making all things new. I am the Alpha and the
Omega, the beginning and the end - The latter explains the former:
the Everlasting. I will give to him that thirsteth - The Lamb
saith the same, (Re 22:17).
7: He that overcometh - Which is more than, "he that
thirsteth." Shall inherit these things - Which I have made new.
I will be his God, and he shall be my son - Both in the Hebrew
and Greek language, in which the scriptures were written, what
we translate shall and will are one and the same word. The only
difference consists in an English translation, or in the want of
knowledge in him that interprets what he does not understand.
8: But the fearful and unbelieving - Who, through want of
courage and faith, do not overcome. And abominable - That is,
sodomites. And whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters - These
three sins generally went together; their part is in the lake.
9: And there came one of the seven angels that had the
seven phials - Whereby room had been made for the kingdom of God.
Saying, Come, I will show thee the bride - The same angel had
before showed him Babylon, (Re 17:1), which is directly
opposed to the new Jerusalem.
10: And he carried me away in the spirit - The same
expression as before, (Re 17:3).
And showed me the holy city Jerusalem - The old city is now
forgotten, so that this is no longer termed the new, but
absolutely Jerusalem. O how did St. John long to enter in! but
the time was not yet come. Ezekiel also describes "the holy
city," and what pertains thereto, in Eze 40:1 - Eze 48:35,
but a city quite different from the old Jerusalem, as it was
either before or after the Babylonish captivity. The descriptions
of the prophet and of the apostle agree in many particulars; but
in many more they differ. Ezekiel expressly describes the temple,
and the worship of God therein, closely alluding to the Levitical
service. But St. John saw no temple, and describes the city far
more large, glorious, and heavenly than the prophet. Yet that
which he describes is the same city; but as it subsisted soon
after the destruction of the beast. This being observed, both
the prophecies agree together and one may explain the other.
11: Having the glory of God - For her light, verse 23,(Re 21:23,Isa 40:1,2,Zec 2:5).
Her window - There was only one, which ran all round the city.
The light did not come in from without through this for the
glory of God is within the city. But it shines out from within
to a great distance, (Re 21:23,24)
12: Twelve angels - Still waiting upon the heirs of salvation.
14: And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on
them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb - Figuratively
showing that the inhabitants of the city had built only on that
faith which the apostles once delivered to the saints.
15: And he measured the city, twelve thousand furlongs - Not
in circumference, but on each of the four sides. Jerusalem was
thirtythree furlongs in circumference; Alexandria thirty in
length, ten in breadth. Nineveh is reported to have been four
hundred furlongs round; Babylon four hundred and eighty. But
what inconsiderable villages were all these compared to the new
Jerusalem! By this measure is understood the greatness of the
city, with the exact order and just proportion of every part
of it; to show, figuratively, that this city was prepared for
a great number of inhabitants, how small soever the number of
real Christians may sometimes appear to be; and that everything
relating to the happiness of that state was prepared with the
greatest order and exactness.
The city is twelve thousand furlongs high; the wall, an hundred
and forty - four reeds. This is exactly the same height, only
expressed in a different manner. The twelve thousand furlongs,
being spoken absolutely, without any explanation, are common,
human furlongs: the hundred forty - four reeds are not of common
human length, but of angelic, abundantly larger than human. It
is said, the measure of a man that is, of an angel because St.
John saw the measuring angel in an human shape. The reed
therefore was as great as was the stature of that human form
in which the angel appeared. In treating of all these things a
deep reverence is necessary; and so is a measure of spiritual
wisdom; that we may neither understand them too literally and
grossly, nor go too far from the natural force of the words.
The gold, the pearls, the precious stones, the walls,
foundations, gates, are undoubtedly figurative expressions;
seeing the city itself is in glory, and the inhabitants of it
have spiritual bodies: yet these spiritual bodies are also real
bodies, and the city is an abode distinct from its inhabitants,
and proportioned to them who take up a finite and a determinate
space. The measures, therefore, above mentioned are real and
18: And the building of the wall was jasper - That is, the
wall was built of jasper. And the city - The houses, was of pure
19: And the foundations were adorned with precious stones
- That is, beautifully made of them. The precious stones on the
high priest's breastplate of judgment were a proper emblem to
express the happiness of God's church in his presence with them,
and in the blessing of his protection. The like ornaments on the
foundations of the walls of this city may express the perfect
glory and happiness of all the inhabitants of it from the most
glorious presence and protection of God. Each precious stone was
not the ornament of the foundation, but the foundation itself.
The colours of these are remarkably mixed. A jasper is of the
colour of white marble, with a light shade of green and of red;
a sapphire is of a sky - blue, speckled with gold; a chalcedony,
or carbuncle, of the colour of red - hot iron; an emerald, of a
20: A sardonyx is red streaked with white; a sardius, of
a deep red; a chrysolite, of a deep yellow; a beryl, sea - green;
a topaz, pale yellow; a chrysoprase is greenish and transparent,
with gold specks; a jacinth, of a red purple; an amethyst,
22: The Lord God and the Lamb are the temple of it - He fills
the new heaven and the new earth. He surrounds the city and
sanctifies it, and all that are therein. He is "all in all."
23: The glory of God - Infinitely brighter than the shining
of the sun.
24: And the nations - The whole verse is taken from(Isa 60:3).
Shall walk by the light thereof - Which throws itself outward from
the city far and near. And the kings of the earth - Those of them
who have a part there. Bring their glory into it - Not their old
glory, which is now abolished; but such as becomes the new earth,
and receives an immense addition by their entrance into the city.
26: And they shall bring the glory of the nations into
it - It seems, a select part of each nation; that is, all which
can contribute to make this city honourable and glorious shall
be found in it; as if all that was rich and precious throughout
the world was brought into one city.
27: Common - That is. unholy. But those who are written in
the Lamb's book of life - True, holy, persevering believers. This
blessedness is enjoyed by those only; and, as such, they are
registered among them who are to inherit eternal life.