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Revelation 21 Study Notes

21:1 While like the present creation in some ways, the new heaven and a new earth will be much different. For example, there will be no sea. However, some believe that “sea” is symbolic for the wickedness of the current created order.

21:2 The bride of the Lamb, introduced in 19:7-9, is now pictured as the holy city, the new Jerusalem (see note at vv. 9-11a). The expression coming down out of heaven is used in all three references to the new Jerusalem (see note at 3:12). Prepared . . . adorned may mean that the bride will be just as beautiful—and will be for eternity—as she was during the wedding festivities (19:7-8).

21:3-4 God’s presence (dwelling is with humanity) will do away with all death . . . grief, crying, and pain.

21:5-8 In the present creation, a Christian is a “new creation” spiritually (2Co 5:17), but in the new heaven and new earth, the Lord will make everything new. The written Word of God is faithful and true (2Tm 3:16), and the living Word of God is also faithful and true (Rv 19:11). On the Alpha and the Omega, see note at 1:8. Living water (22:17) will always be freely available, and this pictures the word of grace, received through saving faith, that offers eternal life even in the present. But those who remain unrepentant in their sin will experience eternal judgment, the second death.

21:9-11a The angel’s offer to show John the bride, the wife of the Lamb, parallels the angel’s offer to show him the judgment of Babylon in 17:1. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, he was taken up on a high mountain and shown the splendor of the world’s kingdoms (Mt 4:8), but it was nothing in comparison to John’s view of the new Jerusalem. On in the Spirit, see note at 1:10. On coming down out of heaven, see note at v. 2.

21:11b-14,21 On a jasper stone, see note at 4:3-4. The twelve gates (each made of a massive single pearl) in the great wall of the new Jerusalem have written on them the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve foundations of the city wall have the twelve names of the apostles of Christ. This strongly implies that the unified people of God will in some sense maintain the distinct covenant promises to Israel and the church eternally.

alpha

Greek pronunciation [AL fah]
CSB translation Alpha
Uses in Revelation 3
Uses in the NT 3
Focus passage Revelation 21:6

Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and omega is the last. In the NT, these two letters occur together three times in the phrase “the Alpha and the Omega,” twice of God the Father (Rv 1:8; 21:6) and once of God the Son (22:13), indicating the close unity between the Father and Son (cp. Jn 10:38; 14:10-11). “The Alpha and the Omega” appears in juxtaposition to “the one who is, who was, and who is to come” (Rv 1:8; cp. 1:4), as well as to “the beginning and the end” (21:6) and “the first and the last” (22:13). The phrase sums up the entirety of God’s sovereign power over all things, specifically his control over all human history. “The Alpha and the Omega” has the power to begin and end all things in accordance with his decree, and the phrase provides strong affirmation of Jesus’s deity and messianic lordship.

21:15-20 The mention of the measuring rod is an allusion to Ezk 40-41 (see note at Rv 11:1-2). For a city to be 1,400 miles square (12,000 stadia) with walls over two hundred feet thick (144 cubits) is mind-boggling, as are the materials of the wall—jasper stone and gold. Human language is stretched to its limits in these descriptions.

21:22-27 No temple is needed in the new Jerusalem. God the Father (the Almighty) and the Lamb (Christ) are its temple. Also, as there was light from the Lord before the creation of the physical light sources of the universe (Gn 1:3,14-15), there is no need for light (sun or the moon) in the new Jerusalem because the glory of God illuminates it. There apparently will be national distinctions (the nations) and human rulers (the kings of the earth) in the eternal state, but since all who will be there are included in the Lamb’s book of life (excluding the unclean . . . de-testable . . . false; see note at 3:4-5), there is no need for security, and there can be no sin.

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