[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Revelation: Chapter 21)

21:1 {A new heaven and a new earth} (ouranon kainon kai gˆn kainˆn). This new vision (eidon) is the picture of the bliss of the saints.
{The first heaven and the first earth} (ho pr“tos ouranos kai hˆ pr“tˆ gˆ) {are passed away} (apˆlthan, went away, second aorist active indicative of aperchomai). "Fled away" (ephugen) in 20:11.
{And the sea is no more} (kai hˆ thalassa ouk estin eti). The sea had given up its dead (20:13). There were great risks on the sea (18:17ff.). The old physical world is gone in this vision. It is not a picture of renovation of this earth, but of the disappearance of this earth and sky (not heaven where God dwells). It is a glorious picture here in 21:1-8 in sharp contrast to the lake of fire in 20:11-15. The symbolism in neither case is to be pressed too literally, but a stern and a glorious reality exists behind it all.

21:2 {The holy city, new Jerusalem} (tˆn polin tˆn hagian Ierousalˆm kainˆn). "The New Earth must have a new metropolis, not another Babylon, but another and greater Jerusalem" (Swete), and not the old Jerusalem which was destroyed A.D. 70. It was called the Holy City in a conventional way (Mt 4:5; 27:53), but now in reality because it is new and fresh (kainˆn), this heavenly Jerusalem of hope (Heb 12:22), this Jerusalem above (Ga 4:26ff.) where our real citizenship is (Php 3:20). {Coming down out of heaven from God} (katabainousan ek tou ouranou apo tou theou). Glorious picture caught by John and repeated from 3:12 and again in 21:10. But Charles distinguishes this new city of God from that in 21:9-22:2 because there is no tree of life in this one. But one shrinks from too much manipulation of this symbolism. It is better to see the glorious picture with John and let it tell its own story. {Made ready} (hˆtoimasmenˆn). Perfect passive participle of hetoimaz“ as in 19:7. The Wife of the Lamb made herself ready in her bridal attire.
{As a bride adorned} (h“s numphˆn kekosmˆmenˆn). Perfect passive participle of kosme“, old verb (from kosmos ornament like our cosmetics), as in 21:19. Only here the figure of bride is not the people of God as in 19:7, but the abode of the people of God (the New Jerusalem).
{For her husband} (t“i andri autˆs). Dative case of personal interest.

21:3 {The tabernacle of God is with men} (hˆ skˆnˆ tou theou meta t“n anthr“p“n). It is one of the angels of the Presence (16:17; 19:5) speaking.
{And he shall dwell with them} (kai skˆn“sei met' aut“n). Future active of skˆno“, already in 7:15 from Eze 37:27; Zec 2:10; 8:8 and used of the Incarnate Christ on earth by John (Joh 1:14), now a blessed reality of the Father. The metaphor stands for the Shekinah Glory of God in the old tabernacle (7:15; 13:6; 15:5), the true tabernacle of which it was a picture (Heb 8:2; 9:11). God is now Immanuel in fact, as was true of Christ (Mt 1:23).

21:4 {Shall wipe away every tear from their eyes} (exaleipsei pƒn dakruon ek t“n ophthalm“n aut“n). More exactly, "shall wipe out every tear out of their eyes" (repetition of ex) like a tender mother as in 7:17 (Isa 25:8). There is no more that ought to cause a tear, for death (thanatos) is no more, mourning (penthos), associated with death and crying (kraugˆ, wailing), and pain (ponos as in 16:10) are all gone. There is peace and bliss.

21:5 {Behold, I make all things new} (Idou kaina poi“ panta). The first time since 1:8 that God has been represented as speaking directly, though voices have come out of the throne before (21:3) and out of the sanctuary (16:1,17), which may be from God himself, though more likely from one of the angels of the Presence. This message is not addressed to John (7:14; 17:7; 21:6; 22:6), but to the entire world of the blessed. See Isa 43:18f. for the words (Idou eg“ poi“ kaina). The idea of a new heaven and a new earth is in Isa 65:17; 66:22; Ps 102:25f. For the locative here with epi (epi t“i thron“i) see 7:10; 19:4 (genitive more usual, 4:9f.; 5:1,7,13, etc.). See 20:11 for the picture.
{And he saith} (kai legei). Probably this means a change of speakers, made plain by moi (to me) in many MSS. An angel apparently (as in 14:13; 19:9f.) assures John and urges him to write (grapson as in 1:11; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14; 14:3). The reason given (hoti, for) is precisely the saying in 22:6 and he uses the two adjectives (pistoi kai alˆthinoi) employed in 19:11 about God himself, and 3:14 about Christ. In 19:9 alˆthinoi occurs also about "the words of God" as here. They are reliable and genuine.

21:6 {They are come to pass} (Gegonan). Second perfect active indicative of ginomai with -an for -asi. See 16:17 for a like use of gegonen, "They have come to pass." Here again it is the voice of God because, as in 1:8, He says: {I am the Alpha and the Omega} (Eg“ to Alpha kai to O) with the addition "the beginning and the end" (hˆ archˆ kai to telos), the whole used in 22:13 of Christ. In Isa 44:6 there is something like the addition, and in Col 1:18; Re 3:14 hˆ archˆ is applied to Christ, while here God is the First Cause (archˆ) and the Finality (telos) as in Ro 11:36; Eph 4:6. But God works through Christ (Joh 1:3; Heb 1:2f.; Col 1:12-20). God is the bountiful Giver (Jas 1:5,17) of the Water of Life. See 7:17; 22:1,17 for this metaphor, which is based on Isa 55:1. It is God's own promise (Eg“ d“s“), "I will give."
{Of the fountain} (ek tˆs pˆgˆs). For this partitive use of ek see Mt 25:8, without ek Re 2:17.
{Freely} (d“rean). See Mt 10:8; Joh 4:10; Ro 3:24; Ac 8:20; Re 22:17.

21:7 {He that overcometh} (ho nik“n). Recalls the promises at the close of each of the Seven Letters in chapters 2 and 3. {Shall inherit} (klˆronomˆsei). Future active of klˆronome“, word with great history (Mr 10:17; 1Pe 1:4; Ga 4:7; Ro 8:17), here interpreted for the benefit of these who share in Christ's victory.
{I will be his God} (Esomai aut“i theos). Repeated Old Testament promise (first to Abraham, Ge 17:7f.). Cf. Re 21:3. {He shall be my son} (autos estai moi huios). Made first of Solomon (2Sa 7:14) and applied to David later in Ps 89:26f.

21:8 {Their part shall be} (to meros aut“n). In contrast to the state of the blessed (verses 3-7) the state of "those who have disfranchised themselves from the Kingdom of God" (Charles) is given. They are with Satan and the two beasts, and are the same with those not in the book of life (20:15) in the lake of fire and brimstone (19:20; 20:10,14f.), that is the second death (2:11; 20:6,14). See also 14:10. There are eight epithets here used which apply to various sections of this direful list of the doomed and the damned, all in the dative (case of personal interest).
{For the fearful} (tois deilois). Old word (from deid“, to fear) for the cowardly, who recanted under persecution, in N.T. only here, Mt 8:26; Mr 4:40.
{Unbelieving} (apistois). "Faithless," "untrustworthy," in contrast with Christ "\ho pistos" (1:5). Cf. 2:10,13; 3:14; 17:14. Disloyalty is close kin to cowardice.
{Abominable} (ebdelugmenois). Perfect passive participle of bdeluss“, old verb, in N.T. only here and Ro 2:22, common in LXX, to pollute (Ex 5:21). Those who have become defiled by the impurities of emperor-worship (7:4f.; 21:27; Ro 2:22; Tit 1:16).
{Murderers} (phoneusin). As a matter of course and all too common always (Mr 7:21; Ro 1:29; Re 9:21).
{Fornicators} (pornois). Again all too common always, then and now (1Co 5:10; 1Ti 1:9f.). These two crimes often go together.
{Sorcerers} (pharmakois). Old word, in N.T. only here and 22:15. Closely connected with idolatry and magic (9:21; 13:13f.).
{Idolaters} (eid“lolatrais). See 1Co 5:10f.; 10:7; Eph 5:5; Re 22:15. With a powerful grip on men's lives then and now.
{All liars} (pasi tois pseudesin). Repeated in 22:15 and stigmatized often (2:2; 3:9; 14:5; 21:8,27; 22:15). Not a "light" sin.

21:9 {One of the seven angels} (heis ek t“n hepta aggel“n). As in 17:1 with the same introduction when the angel made the announcement about the harlot city (Babylon), so here the description of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, is given by one of the same group of angels who had the seven bowls. Thus the numphˆ (Bride) is placed in sharp contrast with the pornˆ (Harlot). The New Jerusalem was briefly presented in verse 2, but now is pictured at length (21:9-22:5) in a nearer and clearer vision.
{The bride the wife of the Lamb} (tˆn numphˆn tˆn gunaika tou arniou). Twice already the metaphor of the Bride has been used (19:7; 21:2), here termed "wife" (gunaika), mentioned proleptically as in 19:7 if the marriage is not yet a reality. For the use of the same metaphor elsewhere in the N.T. see on 19:7.

21:10 {He carried me away in the Spirit} (apˆnegken me en pneumati). See same language in 17:7 when John received a vision of the Harlot City in a wilderness. Here it is "to a mountain great and high" (epi oros mega kai hupsˆlon). So it was with Ezekiel (Eze 40:2) and so the devil took Jesus (Mt 4:8). It was apparently not Mount Zion (14:1), for the New Jerusalem is seen from this mountain. "The Seer is carried thither 'in spirit' (cf. 1:10; 4:1); the Angel's deuro is a "sursum cor" to which his spirit under the influence of the 'Spirit of revelation' (Eph 1:17) at once responds" (Swete). {And he shewed me} (kai edeixen moi). First aorist active indicative of deiknumi, just as he had said he would do in verse 9 (deix“ soi, I will shew thee). Precisely the same words about Jerusalem as in verse 2, save the absence of kainˆn (New).

21:11 {Having the glory of God} (echousan tˆn doxan tou theou). Syntactically this clause goes with verse 10, the feminine accusative singular participle echousan agreeing with polin, the radiance of the dazzling splendour of God as seen in Isa 60:1; Eze 43:5. God's very presence is in the Holy City (the Bride).
{Light} (ph“stˆr). "Luminary," late word (in LXX, papyri), in N.T. only here and Php 2:15. Christ is the light (ph“s) of the world (Joh 8:12) and so are Christians (Mt 5:14) who have received the illumination (ph“tismos) of God in the face of Christ (2Co 4:6) and who radiate it to men (Php 2:15). See both words in Ge 1:3,14. "The 'luminary' of the Holy City is her witness to Christ" (Swete).
{Like unto a stone most precious} (homoios lith“i timi“tat“i). Associative instrumental case after homoios. Timi“tat“i is the elative superlative.
{As it were a jasper stone} (h“s lith“i iaspidi). As in 4:3, which see.
{Clear as crystal} (krustallizonti). Verb not found elsewhere from krustallos (old word, 4:6; 22:1), "of crystalline brightness and transparency" (Thayer), "transparent and gleaming as rock-crystal" (Moffatt).

21:12 {Having a wall great and high} (echousa teichos mega kai hupsˆlon). John returns, after the parenthesis in verse 11, to the structure in verse 10, only to use the accusative echousan as before to agree with polin, but the nominative echousa as again with "twelve gates" (pul“nas d“deka). Pul“n is an old word (from pulˆ gate) for a large gate as in Lu 16:20 and six times in Rev. for the gate tower of a city wall (Re 21:12,13,15,21,25; 22:14) as in 1Ki 17:10; Ac 14:13. See Eze 48:31ff. for these twelve gates, one for each tribe (cf. Re 7:1-8).
{At the gates} (epi tois pul“sin). "Upon the gate towers."
{Twelve angels} (aggelous d“deka). As pul“roi or phulakes according to Isa 62:6; 2Ch 8:14.
{Names written thereon} (onomata epigegrammena). Perfect passive participle of epigraph“.
{Which are the names} (ha estin). Just as in Ezekiel's vision (48:31ff.), so here the names of the twelve tribes of Israel appear, one on each gate.

21:13 {Three gates} (pul“nes treis) on each of the four sides as in Eze 42:16ff.; "on the east" (apo anatolˆs, as in 16:12, starting from the east), "on the north" (apo borrƒ, from the north, as in Lu 13:29), "on the south" (apo notou, from the south, as in Lu 13:29), "on the west" (apo dusm“n, from the west, as in Mt 8:11).

21:14 {Had} (ech“n). Masculine present active participle of ech“ instead of echon (neuter like to teichos), and the participle occurs independently as if a principal verb (eichen) as often in this book.
{Twelve foundations} (themelious d“deka). Foundation stones, old adjective (from thema, from tithˆmi), here as in 1Co 3:11ff.; 2Ti 2:19, with lithous (stones understood), though often neuter substantive to themelion (Lu 6:48f.; Ac 16:26). See Isa 28:16; Heb 11:10. Twelve because of the twelve apostles as foundation stones (Eph 2:20).
{On them} (ep' aut“n). On the twelve foundation stones. {Names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb} (onomata t“n d“deka apostol“n tou arniou). Jesus had spoken of twelve thrones for the apostles (Mt 19:28); names of all twelve are here written, not just that of Peter, as some would argue from Mt 16:18. As a matter of fact, Christ is the corner stone or akrog“niaion (1Pe 2:6; 1Co 3:10; Eph 2:20), though rejected by the Sanhedrin (Mt 21:42ff.). One may wonder if the name of Judas is on that stone or that of Matthias.

21:15 {Had} (eichen). Regular imperfect here, no longer ech“n.
{For a measure a golden reed} (metron kalamon chrusoun). See 11:1 for kalamos (reed). Metron is an old word, kin to mˆtˆr (mother, moulder, manager), an instrument for measuring (metre“) as in Mt 7:2, here in the predicate accusative.
{To measure} (hina metrˆsˆi). Purpose clause with hina and the first aorist active subjunctive of metre“. The rod of gold was in keeping with the dignity of the service of God (1:12; 5:8; 8:3; 9:13; 15:7).

21:16 {Lieth foursquare} (tetrag“nos keitai). Present middle indicative of keimai. The predicate adjective is from tetra (Aeolic for tessares four) and g“nos (g“nia corner, Mt 6:5) here only in N.T. As in Eze 48:16,20. It is a tetragon or quadrilateral quadrangle (21:12f.).
{The length thereof is as great as the breadth} (to mˆkos autˆs hoson to platos). It is rectangular, both walls and city within. Babylon, according to Herodotus, was a square, each side being 120 stadia. Diodorus Siculus says that Nineveh was also foursquare.
{With the reed} (t“i kalam“i). Instrumental case (cf. verse 15 for kalamos) and for metre“ (aorist active indicative here) {Twelve thousand furlongs} (epi stadi“n d“deka chiliad“n). This use of the genitive stadi“n with epi is probably correct (reading of Aleph P), though A Q have stadious (more usual, but confusing here with chiliad“n). Thucydides and Xenophon use epi with the genitive in a like idiom (in the matter of). It is not clear whether the 1500 miles (12,000 furlongs) is the measurement of each of the four sides or the sum total. Some of the rabbis argued that the walls of the New Jerusalem of Ezekiel would reach to Damascus and the height would be 1500 miles high.
{Equal} (isa). That is, it is a perfect cube like the Holy of Holies in Solomon's temple (1Ki 6:19f.). This same measurement (platos, mˆkos, hupsos) is applied to Christ's love in Eph 3:18, with bathos (depth) added. It is useless to try to reduce the measurements or to put literal interpretations upon this highly wrought symbolic language. Surely the meaning is that heaven will be large enough for all, as Jesus said (Joh 14:1ff.) without insisting on the materialistic measurement of a gorgeous apartment house full of inside rooms.

21:17 {A hundred and forty and four cubits} (hekaton tesserakonta tessar“n pˆch“n). Another multiple of 12 (12x12=144) as in 7:4; 14:1. It is not clear whether it is the height or the breadth of the wall that is meant, though hupsos (height) comes just before. That would be 216 feet high (cf. verse 12), not enormous in comparison with the 7,000,000 feet (1500 miles) height of the city.
{According to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel} (metron anthr“pou, ho estin aggelou). No preposition for "according to," just the accusative case of general reference in apposition with the verb emetrˆsen. Though measured by an angel, a human standard was employed, man's measure which is angel's (Bengel).

21:18 {The building of the wall} (hˆ end“mˆsis tou teichous). Or endomˆsis, elsewhere so far only in Josephus ("Ant". XV. 9. 6, a mole or breakwater) and in an inscription ("Syll". 583 31), apparently from endome“, to build in, and so the fact of building in. The wall had jasper (verse 11) built into it.
{Was pure gold} (chrusion katharon). No copula ˆn (was) expressed. The city shone like a mass of gold in contrast with the jasper lustre of the wall.
{Pure glass} (hual“i kathar“i). Associative instrumental case after homoion. Hualos (apparently from huei, it rains, and so raindrop) in N.T. only Re 21:18,21.

21:19 {Were adorned} (kekosmˆmenoi). Perfect passive participle of kosme“ as in verse 2, but without the copula ˆsan (were), followed by instrumental case lith“i (stone).
{With all manner of precious stones} (panti lith“i timi“i). "With every precious stone." The list of the twelve stones in verses 19,20 has no necessary mystical meaning. "The writer is simply trying to convey the impression of a radiant and superb structure" (Moffatt). The twelve gems do correspond closely (only eight in common) with the twelve stones on the high priest's breastplate (Ex 28:17-20; 39:10ff.; Eze 28:13; Isa 54:11f.). Charles identifies them with the signs of zodiac in reverse order, a needless performance here. See the stones in Re 4:3. These foundation stones are visible. For jasper (iaspis) see 4:3; 21:11,18; Isa 54:12; sapphire (sappheiros) see Ex 24:10;. Isa 54:11 (possibly the lapis lazuli of Turkestan); chalcedony (chalkˆd“n) we have no other reference in N.T. or LXX (described by Pliny, H.N. XXXIII.21), possibly a green silicate of copper from near Chalcedon; emerald (smaragdos) here only in N.T., see 4:3 smaragdinos, and like it a green stone.

21:20 Sardonyx (sardonux), here only in N.T., white with layers of red, from sardion (red carnelian) and onyx (white); for sardius (sardion) see 4:3; chrysolite (chrusolithos), here only in N.T. (Ex 28:20), stone of a golden colour like our topaz or amber or a yellow beryl or golden jasper; beryl (bˆrullos), again here only in N.T. (Ex 28:20), note the difficulty of identification, much like the emerald according to Pliny; for topaz (topazion), here only in N.T. (Ex 28:17), a golden-greenish stolle; chrysoprase (chrusoprasos), here only in N.T. (not in LXX), in colour like a teek, translucent golden-green; jacinth (huakinthos), of the colour of the hyacinth, a violet colour (Pliny), already in 9:17 like blue smoke, like achates in LXX; amethyst (amethustos), only here in N.T. (Ex 28:19), of a violet and purple colour, more brilliant than the huakinthos. Swete sums up the colours thus: blue (sapphire, jacinth, amethyst), green (jasper, chalcedony, emerald, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase), red (sardonyx, sardius), yellow (chrysolite). But even so there is great variety in hue and brilliancy and in the reaction on each other. Clement of Alexandria argues that this variety illustrates the variety of gifts and graces in the twelve apostles. Possibly so.

21:21 {Twelve pearls} (d“deka margaritai). These gate towers (pul“nes) were mentioned in verses 12f. Each of these (cf. Isa 54:12) is a pearl, one of the commonest of jewels (Mt 7:6; 13:46; 1Ti 2:9).
{Each one} (ana heis hekastos). Distributive use of ana, but with the nominative (used as adverb, not preposition) rather than the accusative (as a preposition) as appears also in Mr 14:19; Joh 8:9; with kata in Ro 12:5, "a barbaric construction" according to Charles.
{Street} (plateia). For which word (broad way, hodos understood) see Mt 6:5, here the singular, but includes all the streets. {Transparent} (diaugˆs). Old word (from dia, through, augˆ, ray, shining through), here alone in N.T.

21:22 {I saw no temple therein} (naon ouk eidon en autˆi). "Temple I did not see in it." The whole city is a temple in one sense (verse 16), but it is something more than a temple even with its sanctuary and Shekinah Glory in the Holy of Holies.
{For the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof} (ho gar Kurios ho theos ho pantokrat“r, naos autˆs estin kai to arnion). "For the Lord God, the Almighty, is the sanctuary of it and the Lamb." The Eternal Presence is the Shekinah Glory of God (verse 3). In 2Co 6:16 we are the sanctuary of God here, but now God is our Sanctuary, and so is the Lamb as in chapters Re 4; 5. See 1:8 and often for the description of God here.

21:23 {To shine upon it} (hina phain“sin autˆi). Purpose clause with hina and the present active subjunctive of phain“, to keep on shining. Light is always a problem in our cities. See Isa 60:19ff.
{Did lighten it} (eph“tisen autˆn). First aorist active indicative of ph“tiz“, to illumine, old verb from ph“s (Lu 11:36). If the sun and moon did shine, they would give no added light in the presence of the Shekinah Glory of God. See verse 11 for "the glory of God." Cf. 18:1; 21:3. "Their splendour is simply put to shame by the glory of God Himself" (Charles).
{And the lamp thereof is the Lamb} (kai ho luchnos autˆs to arnion). Charles takes ho luchnos as predicate, "and the Lamb is the lamp thereof." Bousset thinks that John means to compare Christ to the moon the lesser light (Ge 1:16), but that contrast is not necessary. Swete sees Christ as the one lamp for all in contrast with the many luchniai of the churches on earth (1:12,20). "No words could more clearly demonstrate the purely spiritual character of St. John's conception of the New Jerusalem" (Swete).

21:24 {Amidst the light thereof} (dia tou ph“tos autˆs). Rather "by the light thereof." From Isa 60:3,11,20. All the moral and spiritual progress of moderns is due to Christ, and the nations of earth will be represented, including "the kings" (hoi basileis), mentioned also in Isa 60:3, "do bring their glory into it" (pherousin tˆn doxan aut“n eis autˆn). Present active indicative of pher“. Swete is uncertain whether this is a picture of heaven itself or "some gracious purpose of God towards humanity which has not yet been revealed" and he cites 22:2 in illustration. The picture is beautiful and glorious even if not realized here, but only in heaven.

21:25 {Shall in no wise be shut} (ou mˆ kleisth“sin). Double negative with the first aorist passive subjunctive of klei“. {By day} (hˆmeras). Genitive of time. Mentioned alone without nuktos (by night), "for there shall be no night there" (nux gar ouk estai ekei). This looks like a continued picture of heaven.

21:26 {They shall bring} (oisousin). Future active indicative of pher“. Rome gathered the merchandise of the world (18:11ff.). The City of God will have the best of all the nations (Isa 60:5,11), an expansion of verse 24.

21:27 {There shall in no wise enter into it} (ou mˆ eiselthˆi eis autˆn). Double negative again with the second aorist active subjunctive of eiserchomai with eis repeated. Like Isa 52:1; Eze 44:9.
{Anything unclean} (pƒn koinon). Common use of pƒn with negative like ouden, and the use of koinos for defiled or profane as in Mr 7:2; Ac 10:14, not just what is common to all (Tit 1:4).
{Or he that} (kai ho). "And he that."
{Maketh an abomination and a lie} (poi“n bdelugma kai pseudos). Like Babylon (17:4 which see for bdelugma) and 21:8 for those in the lake of fire and brimstone, and 22:15 for "every one loving and doing a lie." These recurrent glimpses of pagan life on earth and of hell in contrast to heaven in this picture raise the question already mentioned whether John is just running parallel pictures of heaven and hell after the judgment or whether, as Charles says: "The unclean and the abominable and the liars are still on earth, but, though the gates are open day and night, they cannot enter." In apocalyptic writing literalism and chronology cannot be insisted on as in ordinary books. The series of panoramas continue to the end.
{But only they which are written} (ei mˆ hoi gegrammenoi). "Except those written." For "the book of life" see 3:5; 13:8; 20:15. Cf. Da 12:1.

[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Revelation: Chapter 21)

| About LW | Site Map | LW Publications | Search
Developed by © Levend Water All rights reserved