SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 21
Here John sees God’s creation totally renewed and the universe put back into its original state of glory. John also sees the Church in all Her future glory. God’s people will have glorified bodies and will dwell as the Church on a newly glorified earth.
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
This probably does not mean that the universe will be totally brought into non-existence and something completely new created all over again, but it will be turned into something better. Since man will be renewed and have glorified bodies, so will the place that man dwells be changed into glory. Man will no longer need a sea, he will have the river of the water of life flowing from God’s throne, which is the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the sea being gone will open up more land for the people of God to dwell upon.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; 3 and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
This holy city , the New Jerusalem, is the Church in glory. She comes down as a bride since she will be in Her fullness and fully prepared to be fully united to Christ with all Her members in a glorified state. Even though God dwells with man now in the Church, he will be more united with man because sin will no longer exist among the people of God. There will never be anymore sadness or pain of any kind. The fact that the text says that God will wipe away every tear could mean that God will need to supernaturally remove the sadness that people will feel after they see many people sent to the Lake of Fire.
5 And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. 7 He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
Alpha and Omega (see Rev. 1:8). The fountain is the Holy Spirit and the water of life is the grace of the Holy Spirit (see Rev. 7:17), and it is without payment because grace is a free gift from God (see Eph. 2:8). During this time of the future Church, the struggle for holiness in the face of sin will also be taken away.
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed; 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its breadth; and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man’s measure, that is, an angels. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. 22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates shall never be shut by day–and there shall be no night there; 26 they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
The angel takes John in the spirit, meaning his soul is out of his body (see Rev. 1:10), and he is going to show him the Church of the future in her glory. The high mountain that he takes him on is to be understood as spiritual imagery, not a literal mountain, similar to the mountain that the Devil took Jesus to in order to show him all the kingdoms on earth (see Matt. 4:8). All the details of this city in my opinion is simply John trying to use human language to explain something spiritual and incomprehensible that it could not be described any other way than by comparing it to the most valuable jewels and precious stones, even though some try to interpret what each stone, measurement and color means, I see no point in doing that because I believe that John is only trying to explain how amazing it was to behold. By saying that there will be kings on the earth during that time, it indicates that there will be a hierarchy among the saints in the future glory, Jesus said, “”Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away (Mark 4:24-25)” and “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:19).”
SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 22
Here John continues to see the future glorified Church in perfection and God dwelling with His people. Then he concludes this prophecy with some instruction, warning, and encouragement.
1 Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
The river of the water of life is the Holy Spirit and the graces which flow from Him, and He is seen preceding from the Father and the Son. Flowing through the middle of the street of the city means that the Spirit is in the midst of the Church. The Tree of Life is Jesus Christ, and the text says that He will be on either side of the river, which means He will be among the saints completely, no longer just in spirit or in mystery, but in His glorified body. The twelve kinds of fruit are the same fruit St. Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).” It yields its fruit each month, meaning that it is continuous. The leaves are said to be for the healing of the nations, or better yet, it is the cure, since the Greek word θεραπειαν can also be translated as curing. Mankind will be in a state of perfection during this time, and cured of everything that pertains to sin.
3 There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; 4 they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. 5 And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.
His name on their foreheads means that their minds are completely devoted to God.
6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. 7 And behold, I am coming soon.” Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. 8 I John am he who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
The most important thing that we need to recognize here is that John was not giving divine worship to this angel, but a lower kind that shows honor to those who are very holy, because John would not make that mistake and give divine worship to an angel, much less do it twice as we see he did in Rev. 19:10. The angel saw St. John as one of the foundations of the Church, the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 13:23), and one of the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17). And the angel probably felt a little awkward getting honored like that from such a bulwark of the Church, so he told John not to.
10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” 12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
He did not want the words of the prophecy hidden because it was to be written for the benefit of the Church throughout her history in order to instruct, comfort, and warn Christians that the end of time is coming.
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.
Washing their robes means to live holy lives and to remove the stain of sin. The tree of life in the book of Genesis 2:9 gave life preserving power and warded off corruption of the body. St. John uses symbolic language here and is referring to Jesus as the tree of life, as mentioned above in verse 2. Those outside are those who are not among the people of God.
16 “I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let him who hears say, “Come.” And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price. 18 I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
Root of the offspring of David (see Rev. 5:5). He is called the bright and morning star because he is the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2) who shines spiritual light into our hearts (see 2Peter 1:19). The water of life without price (see Rev. 21:6 of this commentary).
John warns about adding or taking away from this prophecy that he wrote, because that is a tactic by Satan and his minions that is very dangerous, and in the case of Scripture it is something that can have lasting effects throughout the Church Age. Christians can be led away from the Divine Truth by things being inserted in or omitted from the Scripture text.