Revelation 21: Heaven on Earth, Part 1

Posted on March 8, 2021

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By David Ettinger

What This Is
Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, I taught a Sunday school class verse by verse on the Book of Revelation. This series represents my notes for each class. (I have done some updating as some of my understandings have changed over the years.) I came across them recently and decided to post them. If you wish to use these notes as a study guide, the way to do it is as follows: Read the verse first in your Bible, then look at the corresponding notes here for commentary.

For some reason, I don’t have notes for Chapters 1-3, therefore this series begins with Chapters 4-5. Following the Chapter 4-5 study notes, each chapter will be presented individually.

Read Chapter 4-5 notes here.
Read Chapter 6 notes here.
Read Chapter 7 notes here.
Read Chapter 8 notes here.
Read Chapter 9 notes here.
Read Chapter 10 notes here.
Read Chapter 11 notes here.
Read Chapter 12 notes here.
Read Chapter 13 notes here.
Read Chapter 14 notes here.
Read Chapter 15 notes here.
Read Chapter 16 notes here.
Read Chapter 17 notes here.
Read Chapter 18 notes here.
Read Chapter 19 notes here.

Read Chapter 20 notes here.

Overview
* There is debate as to whether or not this chapter deals with the Millennial Kingdom or the eternal state, that is, Heaven.

* According to 2 Peter 3:1-13, eternity will not be “up” somewhere in the sky, but down here on Earth. However, it will be a new and refurbished Earth.

* The question still remains: Does Revelation Chapter 21 deal with the Millennial Kingdom or Heaven on Earth.

* The vast majority of commentators believe it is Heaven on Earth – the eternal state – and I agree.

* The next question is: Are they both ongoing at the same time? The inhabitants of the Millennial Kingdom would be those with human bodies who survived the 70th Week of Daniel. The inhabitants of Heaven – represented by the New Jerusalem – would be inhabited by all the believers throughout history who died but have received their new, immortal bodies (1 Corinthians Chapter 3).

* Regarding the Millennial Kingdom, would those with immortal bodies have access to it, to mix with those who still have human bodies? Apparently so.

* MY BELIEF: I believe the Millennial Kingdom – the 1,000-year Kingdom – will exist first and be inhabited by believers with immortal bodies, mortal bodies (awaiting their immortal bodies), and by unbelievers born during the Millennium. Following the 1,000 years, all unbelievers will be banished to the Lake of Fire, and the believers living in mortal bodies will receive their immortal bodies.

* And what of the New Jerusalem? Is there a new eternal Earth upon which the massive New Jerusalem will sit? Or is the New Jerusalem Heaven itself? I lean toward the first option based on verses 24 & 26, but there are certain verses which make it appear as if the New Jerusalem sits on a new and glorious Earth. Very difficult to determine with certainty!

* The bottom line is this: Chapters 21 & 22, originally written as one chapter, describe something amazing and unimaginable to our finite, mortal minds. Therefore, let’s just focus on the incredible place where all believers will spend eternity!

Verse 1
* A new Heaven and a new Earth: See 2 Peter 3:1-13

2 PETER 3:1-13

Verses 3-4: There will be scoffers in the Last Days who will question and ridicule the concept of the Lord’s coming.

Verse 6: This is a reference to the time of Noah. People at that time also scoffed at the thought of divine punishment.

Verse 7: Today’s Heaven and Earth are being reserved for the Day of the Lord when their destruction will come by fire.

Verse 13: The New Heaven and New Earth will, therefore, be cleansed by fire, as was Earth by the flood, and will be without wickedness. The entire idea behind the trumpet and bowl judgments will be to purify Earth.

Verse 2
* We are introduced to “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem.”

* The Lord adorns the New Jerusalem as if it were His bride.

* The setting of the New Jerusalem is upon the new Earth (I believe, though others differ). This will be the happy home for the saints of all ages.

* See Hebrews 12:22-24.

Verse 3
* God now shares the same residence as the human race on Earth, a renovated Earth.

* This is proclaimed with a loud voice form the throne – God’s throne.

* God has dwelt with humanity before: John 1:14.

* God will now directly shepherd His people.

Verse 4
* God Himself will wipe away all suffering and sadness (Isaiah 65:17). This likely includes not mourning over loved ones who rejected Christ.

* Death can no longer claim God’s people. Because of this, there will be no more mourning, crying, or pain.

* It is difficult for us to picture all of this because at that time the old order of things will pass away. Now, however, we are still in the “old order” of things.

Verse 5
* By making everything new, it is clear that the old things are gone.

* Eternity (and the Millennial Kingdom, for that matter) will be a time of rejoicing in the grace of God and in the opportunity to worship Him freely.

* To illustrate how important this is, God Himself tells John to write this all down.

Verse 6
* “I am the Alpha and Omega.” Christ is saying that He is the first and the last over all creation just as Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

* Christ is the eternal One and the truths He is speaking of here will endure forever.

* The invitation to those to drink who are spiritually thirsty refers back to Isaiah 55:1. (See also John 4:10, 13-14.)

Verse 7
* The theme of overcoming takes us back to the message to the 7 churches in Chapters 2 & 3 (2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:26; 3:5; 3:12; 3:21).

* That He is our God and we are His children speaks of the incredible inheritance that will be ours (1 Peter 1:3-4; 1 John 5:5; Ephesians 1:5, 10).

Verse 8
* This verse speaks clearly about the fate of those who reject God’s holy commands.

* Not only will they not enter the eternal state, but they will suffer for eternity in the lake of burning sulfur.

* It is clear: NOT everyone goes to Heaven; only those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

THE NEW JERUSALEM

Verse 9
* One of the 7 angels who poured out one of the 7 bowls is sent to direct John.

* Again, we have a reference to the bride. Though the city itself is not the bride of Christ, the people in it are. There is a relationship between God’s people and God’s city.

Verse 10
* John is carried of “in the spirit” to a vantage point where he could see the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven form God.”

* The New Jerusalem has its origin in Heaven and indeed is a heavenly city, though it will be located on Earth.

Verse 11
* Beginning with this verse, a number of precious jewels and stones are mentioned as part of the New Jerusalem.

* The city as a whole is like a precious jewel, like a jasper – which is clear crystal.

* In our present Earth, the jasper stone is not clear, but opaque.

* In the description that follows, we see the New Jerusalem as a gigantic jewel glowing with the glory of God.

Verse 12
* A great, high wall indicates incredible protection, though it is not needed. It would be impossible for outsiders – if there were any – to penetrate these gates.

* As further protection, there are angels at each gate serving, it seems, as gatekeepers.

* The 12 tribes of Israel: We see the redeemed Israel given special honor in the New Jerusalem as fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises (Ezekiel 28:24-26; Zephaniah 3:9-10),

Verse 13
* This is a very specific city, not figurative.

* Also, note the prominence of the number 12 from this point on: 12 gates, 12 angels, 12 tribes, 12 foundations, 12 apostles, 12 pearls, and 12 kinds of fruit (22:2).

Verse 14
* The names of the apostles indicate that just as redeemed Israel is part of eternity, so is the Church – two peoples united into one, HOWEVER, retaining their distinction.

* The New Jerusalem will be the home of all the saints of all the ages and the holy angels as well as God and Jesus.

V. 15
* Whenever something is measured in the Bible, often there is a sense of a spiritual measuring as well as physical.

* Regardless of the physical dimensions, the gold measuring rod indicates that the highest standard is being used to calculate the New Jerusalem both physically and spiritually – and it will measure up!

Verse 16
* That the city is laid out like a square speaks of perfection – both physically and spiritually – in the sight of God.

* The New Jerusalem will be 1,400 square miles in length, width, and, incredibly, height.

* It will spread out over much of the Middle East (if that’s where it will be).

* NOTE: The New Jerusalem is far too big to fit into current Israel, but consider 2 things:

1) There is a new Earth upon which the city sits.

2) Israel’s original, extended borders (Exodus 23:31).

Verse 17
* This incredible thickness of the walls ensures security, but is also symbolic of the difference between those inside and outside the city.

* Though the measurement is a literal one, there is also a spiritual implication involving the saved and the unsaved. There is a huge wall that separates the two.

Verse 18
* The city as described is spectacular, one glowing with the glory of God.

* Just the wall itself is made of Jasper – an opaque red, brown, or yellow variety of quartz used for vases and other articles.

* The city itself is made of gold – the purest gold imaginable.

Verse 19
* The foundations of the wall are decorated with precious stones:

1) Jasper: Apparently like jasper stone today, but clear as crystal. This is the bottom layer of the foundation.

2) Sapphire: A deep-blue gem.

3) Chalcedony: An agate stone from Chalcedon (in modern-day Turkey) and believed to have been sky blue with stripes of other colors.

4) Emerald. Bright green.

Verse 20
* Sardonyx: A red and white stone.

* Carnelian: Also identified as Sardius stone, usually honey-colored (Revelation 4:3).

* Chrysolite: Thought to have been gold in color; possibly different from modern Chrysolite, a pale green.

* Beryl: A deep-sea green.

* Topaz: A yellow-green transparent stone.

* Jacinth: Violet in color.

* Amethyst: Usually purple.

Verse 21
* Obviously, these pearls are far more beautiful than any pearl we now know of today.

* These must be enormous pearls because each gate is made of a single pearl.

* The street of gold is of pure gold like transparent glass.

* It is possible that all the materials of the city are translucent and the glory of God will go through them and light up the city in a blaze of color.

Verse 22
* John now mentions some things he did not see.

* For one thing, there will be no temple. (This is an argument for this not being the Millennial Kingdom as the temple of Ezekiel Chapters 40-43 will be there.)

Verse 23
* Don’t forget, besides the new Earth, there also a new Heaven (vs. 1), or sky.

* The sun and moon cannot even compare to the glory of God and is of no use.

* Jesus will serve as its lamp (Psalm 119:105).

Verse 24
* The nations of the world – those outside the city – will apparently be responsible for bringing tribute to God and Jesus (Isaiah 2:2-5).

* God’s glory will extend beyond the New Jerusalem and will illuminate the entire Earth.

Verse 25
* The gates will never be shut because there will be no night in which an enemy can attack under the cover of darkness.

* The glory of God will continuously illuminate the city.

Verse 26
* Again, the nations outside the city will bring glory and honor into the city just as conquered nations of the past were to bring tribute to the nation and king that conquered it.

Verse 27
* Only the redeemed of Christ may enter the city.

* Again, there is a possibility that the “nations” and “kings” will bring tribute to God just outside the city.

* Only those saved by the blood of Christ can enter the New Jerusalem.