Revelation 21-22: New Jerusalem

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, with the new holy city of Jerusalem descending from heaven.  The city had a radiance of a very rare jewel, with 12 gates and 12 foundations.  It was 1500 miles by 1500 miles in size, with walls 144 cubits high.  The wall was made of jasper; the city was pure gold; the foundations of the wall were adorned with every jewel.  Running across the city is a river, with many trees of life on either side.  Its gates are never shut, and there is no need for a sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light.  Here, God will live among his people, and there will be no death, no pain, and no mourning.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

An angel told me not to seal up this book of prophecy, for the time is near.  Then Jesus spoke to him, promising to repay everyone according to their work.  Those who do his commandments will have the right to live in the new Jerusalem, while outside the city gates are dogs, sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, and idolaters.  The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”  Come, Jesus!

Commentary:

  • This new Jerusalem is similar to the one described in Isaiah 65:17-19.  However, here, the inhabitants of this city are said to be immortal.  In Isaiah, they are clearly still mortal:

    “Never again will there be in it
    an infant who lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not live out his years;
    the one who dies at a hundred
    will be thought a mere child;
    the one who fails to reach a hundred
    will be considered accursed. (65:20)

  • The image of Jerusalem as a bride of the Lamb contrasts with the depiction of Rome as the whore in 17-18.  As the preceding chapters make clear, the author views Rome as a Satanic force of evil and emperor worship as blasphemous.  Contrast this with 1 Peter 2:13-17, where the author asks the church to submit to all human authority and “honor the emperor.”
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