An Examination of Revelation 21:1-27 and 22:1-6
The New Heaven and New Earth and The New Jerusalem Part 6 of a study
– by Elder Bob Allgood
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.
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.
Before we begin to consider any particular details about “the holy city, new Jerusalem” which John saw, let’s try to gather into one basket some things to help us identify “the holy city, new Jerusalem”. We are told in verses 2-3: (1) It is “the holy city," (2) It is NEW as in new Jerusalem, (3) It is coming down from God out if heaven, (4) It is prepared AS a bride adorned for her husband, (5) It is said to be “the tabernacle of God” that is with men. Then in verse 4 we are told that in this “holy city, new Jerusalem” or “tabernacle of God” – that God (1) shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, (2) and there shall be no more death, (3) neither sorrow, (4) nor crying, and (5) neither shall there be any more pain, (6) for the former things are passed away.
IF verses 2-4 were all that we had to try and “spiritually discern” perhaps our task would be fairly easy. But as we look forward in the FULL TEXT of the Revelation about “the holy city, new Jerusalem” we read in verse 9 where the angel said to John, “Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife”. In verse 10 we read, “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”. From this we can conclude that “the holy city, new Jerusalem” of verse 2 is the SAME as “the bride, the Lamb's wife” in verse 9 and the SAME as “that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” in verse 10. After this in Rev. 21:11- 22:6 we are told many more things about “the holy city, new Jerusalem," which is “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
Since these things are many, and since many of them are given to us in metaphorical language, I will not try to list them ALL here, but suggest that the reader, if they have an interest to do so, read and re-read this passage. Among the things that I will mention here are found in verses 23-25 where it says, “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. 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. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there”. Another thing that I must mention here is found in verse 27 were we read, “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”.
Last I will mention here the things that are written in Rev. 22:1-6 “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. n the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. nd there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever”.
Now I will ask some questions. Can the descriptions of “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” be speaking of the “true” local New Testament gospel church, or speaking of all of God’s elect people “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”? Can the descriptions of “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” be speaking of the local New Testament gospel church in which there may be deceivers, false professors, hypocrites and pretenders, or speaking of all of God’s elect people, referred to as “the church” which Christ will “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”?
Can the descriptions of “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” be speaking of the kingdom of heaven in time in which there are both “wheat and tares," or do they speak of all of God’s elect people which “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” after the tares are separated from the field. Jesus said, “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear”.
Before trying to answer these questions we should look back to some other scripture references that might influence our understanding of “The Holy City, New Jerusalem.”
In Revelation 3 our Lord had directed a letter to the “church in Philadelphia”. This was the sixth letter of the seven to the seven churches in Asia that John was told to write. In this particular letter Jesus said, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”. Since this letter was written to a local New Testament church already in existence in Asia – and since all the seven letters end, as did this one, with these words “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” -- it seems obvious that “the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God” must be speaking of something other than the local New Testament gospel churches which were already in existence. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
This is not to say that the local New Testament Church is not a foretaste of the “heavenly Jerusalem”. I certainly believe that the local New Testament church is to be a representative in time of that which will be eternal. Those things which are eternal await the saints of God when this “earthly tabernacle” is dissolved. Paul told the Hebrew saints prior to the resurrection, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Heb. 12:22-24). If I understand the words “But ye are come” correctly, they mean NOW “ye are come” – in the present tense, but in a spiritual way. The children of God are blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” and have been made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. But these blessings and these sittings are experienced in a spiritual way in this time world.
So, it seems to me that as we consider “the holy city, new Jerusalem” we ought to keep in mind that there may be an abundance of applications that apply to the gospel New Testament church in time – but there may is an abundance of evidence that shows the “new heaven and new earth and the holy city, new Jerusalem” is eternal.