An Examination of
Revelation 21:1-27 and 22:1-6
MAKE HASTE SLOWLY!
Experience has taught me that every time I hastily read an email or a passage of Scripture I often overlook some important word, words or even a whole sentence. Too often I have responded or drawn a conclusion based on my incomplete understanding. That is probably one of our greatest problems today. Too many ministers are trying to instruct others based on their misunderstanding of the truth. The scriptures teach the precept of “making haste slowly” in order to avoid such errors. Solomon said, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Pro. 18:13). Jesus said “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given” (Mark 4:24) and “Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have” (Luke 8:18). James tells us, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak " (1:19).
If we will notice in Rev. 21:1-2, BEFORE John SAW the New Jerusalem, he saw “a new heaven and a new earth," It does not say that he saw a “new heaven and earth” but “A new heaven and A new earth," If I am reading this correctly, John saw TWO things, i.e. “a new heaven and a new earth” before he saw the New Jerusalem. John SAW “A new heaven and A new earth” take the place of “the first heaven and the first earth”, as it says, “for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea," It seems to me that if one is going to try and study about the New Jerusalem, one ought to first try and determine what is meant by the words “a new heaven and a new earth," But before I attempt to do that, let me make a few comments about the date of origin of the Revelation itself.
It seems to me that, if possible, one ought to fix in his or her own mind when John SAW these things. As to WHEN somebody says something has a relevance of importance along with WHAT they have said. Historians and historical evidence has helped us fix the approximate date of origin to many (if not most) of the books of the Bible. For instance the most likely date of origin for the gospel books is: Matthew 60-65 AD, Mark 63 AD, Luke 60-63 AD, and John 90 AD. The Acts of the Apostles was written by Luke probably about 63-64 AD. All of Paul’s epistles were written between 52 and 68 AD. Historians tell us Paul was beheaded under the order of the Roman Emperor Nero in May or June in 68 AD. Afterward, Nero died in June of 68 AD. James wrote his epistle from Jerusalem to the “twelve tribes scattered abroad”, about 63-64 AD. It is believed that James was the pastor of the church which was at Jerusalem. Peter wrote his first epistle to the dispersed Jews (whom he called “strangers scattered”), probably from Jerusalem (which he called Babylon) about 64 AD. He wrote his second epistle to the Elect in general (them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ) about 65 AD. The date of origin for the epistles of John has been fixed at 90-100 AD, and the date of the Revelation is debated as being from 68-69 AD – OR – 96-98 AD.
Even if some of the dates of origin of the Gospels and Epistles are off by a few years it would not make a great deal of difference in our understanding of the Scriptures. BUT for many folks that is not true with The Revelation of Jesus Christ as given to John. MOST views as mentioned in part one will stand, fall or be altered depending on the date of origin of the Revelation. The Swiss cheese views held by the futurist Arminian and Sovereign Grace (Calvinist) Dispensationalist depend a great deal on the Revelation being written AFTER 70 AD. They teach that “the Temple” in Revelation 11 is the TEMPLE REBUILT by the Jews just before the literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth. The Full Preterist views depend on the Revelation being written BEFORE 70 AD. They claim ALL prophecy was fulfilled at that date, so if the Revelation was written after 70 AD – goodbye Full Preterist heretics.
According to the Scriptures we read, “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:9). The dispute among Scholars and Theologians is over WHEN John was banned to the Isle of Patmos. Unger’s Bible Dictionary says, “If the apostle John was banished to Patmos under the reign of Nero, as the internal evidence indicates, he wrote the Revelation about AD 68 or 69, which was after the death of that Emperor; but the gospel and epistles some years later. This view “is advocated or accepted by Neander, Lucke, Bleek, Ewald, DeWette, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Reuss, Dusterdieck, Weiss, Renan, Aube, Stuart, Davidson, Cowles, Bishop Lightfoot, Westcott, and Schaff. The great majority of older commentators, and among the later ones, Elliott, Alford, Heng Stenberg, Ebrard, Lange, Hofmann, Godet, Lee, etc.,” favor the traditional date, as the external evidence indicates, which is after Domitian’s death in AD 96. John is said to have died a natural death in the reign of Trajan, about AD 98.”
For those who are Futurist, Dispensationalist or Full Preterist, I must conclude that the date of origin of the Revelation may be the glue that holds together their views, and how they imagine what John saw. But for the Partial Preterist, like myself, or one who does not observe 70 AD as being the start of “the kingdom of Christ and of God”, it may be that the date of origin only tells us WHEN John saw WHAT he saw. IMO, since God did not give us a date of origin of the Revelation, it is far more important to understand WHAT John saw than WHEN he saw it.