Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The remaining two chapters describe the eternal and consummated kingdom
of God and the saints on the new earth. As the world of nations is to
be pervaded by divine influence in the millennium, so the world of
nature shall be, not annihilated, but transfigured universally in the
eternal state which follows it. The earth was cursed for man's sake;
but is redeemed by the second Adam. Now is the Church; in the
millennium shall be the kingdom; and after that shall be the new world
wherein God shall be all in all. The "day of the Lord" and the
conflagration of the earth are in
2Pe 3:10, 11
spoken of as if connected together, from which many argue against a
millennial interval between His coming and the general conflagration of
the old earth, preparatory to the new; but "day" is used often of a
whole period comprising events intimately connected together, as are
the Lord's second advent, the millennium, and the general conflagration
and judgment. Compare
as to the wide use of "day." Man's soul is redeemed by
regeneration through the Holy Spirit now; man's body shall be
redeemed at the resurrection; man's dwelling-place, His
inheritance, the earth, shall be redeemed perfectly at the creation of
the new heaven and earth, which shall exceed in glory the first
Paradise, as much as the second Adam exceeds in glory the first Adam
before the fall, and as man regenerated in body and soul shall exceed
man as he was at creation.
1. the first--that is the former.
passed away--Greek, in A and B is "were departed"
(Greek, "apeelthon," not as in English Version,
was--Greek, "is," which graphically sets the thing before
our eyes as present.
no more sea--The sea is the type of perpetual unrest. Hence our
Lord rebukes it as an unruly hostile troubler of His people. It
symbolized the political tumults out of which "the beast" arose,
As the physical corresponds to the spiritual and moral world, so the
absence of sea, after the metamorphosis of the earth by
fire, answers to the unruffled state of solid peace which shall
then prevail. The sea, though severing lands from one another,
is now, by God's eliciting of good from evil, made the medium of
communication between countries through navigation. Then man shall
possess inherent powers which shall make the sea no longer necessary,
but an element which would detract from a perfect state. A "river" and
"water" are spoken of in
Re 22:1, 2,
probably literal (that is, with such changes of the natural properties
of water, as correspond analogically to man's own transfigured body),
as well as symbolical. The sea was once the element of the world's
destruction, and is still the source of death to thousands, whence
after the millennium, at the general judgment, it is specially said,
"The sea gave up the dead . . . in it." Then it shall
cease to destroy, or disturb, being removed altogether on account of
its past destructions.
2. And I John--"John" is omitted in A, B, Vulgate, Syriac,
Coptic, and ANDREAS; also the "I" in the
Greek of these authorities is not emphatic. The insertion of "I
John" in the Greek would somewhat interfere with the close
connection which subsists between "the new heaven and earth,"
and the "new Jerusalem" in this verse.
Jerusalem . . . out of heaven--
"Jerusalem which is above";
Heb 11:10; 12:22; 13:14).
The descent of the new Jerusalem out of heaven is plainly
distinct from the earthly Jerusalem in which Israel in the flesh
shall dwell during the millennium, and follows on the creation of the
new heaven and earth. John in his Gospel always writes [Greek]
Hierosoluma of the old city; in the Apocalypse always
Hierousaleem of the heavenly city
Hierousaleem is a Hebrew name, the original and holy
appellation. Hierosoluma is the common Greek term, used
in a political sense. Paul observes the same distinction when refuting
Ga 1:17, 18; 2:1;
though not so in the Epistles to Romans and Corinthians
bride--made up of the blessed citizens of "the holy city." There
is no longer merely a Paradise as in Eden (though there is that also,
no longer a mere garden, but now the city of God on earth,
costlier, statelier, and more glorious, but at the same time the result
of labor and pains such as had not to be expended by man in dressing
the primitive garden of Eden. "The lively stones" were severally in
time laboriously chiselled into shape, after the pattern of "the Chief
corner-stone," to prepare them for the place which they shall
everlastingly fill in the heavenly Jerusalem.
3. out of heaven--so ANDREAS. But A and
Vulgate read, "out of the throne."
the tabernacle--alluding to the tabernacle of God in the
wilderness (wherein many signs of His presence were given): of which
this is the antitype, having previously been in heaven:
Re 11:19; 15:5,
"the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven"; also
Compare the contrast in
Heb 9:23, 14,
between "the patterns" and "the heavenly things themselves," between
"the figures" and "the true." The earnest of the true and heavenly
tabernacle was afforded in the Jerusalem temple described in
as about to be, namely, during the millennium.
dwell with them--literally, "tabernacle with them"; the
same Greek word as is used of the divine Son
"tabernacling among us." Then He was in the weakness of the
flesh: but at the new creation of heaven and earth He shall
tabernacle among us in the glory of His manifested Godhead
they--in Greek emphatic, "they" (in particular).
his people--Greek, "His peoples": "the nations of
the saved" being all peculiarly His, as Israel was designed to be. So A
reads. But B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read, "His
God himself . . . with them--realizing fully His name
4. all tears--Greek, "every tear."
no more death--Greek, "death shall be no more." Therefore
it is not the millennium, for in the latter there is death
1Co 15:26, 54,
"the last enemy . . . destroyed is death,"
after the millennium).
passed away--Greek, "departed," as in
5. sat--Greek, "sitteth."
all things new--not recent, but changed from the old
(Greek, "kaina," not "nea"). An earnest of this
regeneration and transfiguration of nature is given already in the
unto me--so Coptic and ANDREAS. But
A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac omit.
true and faithful--so ANDREAS. But A, B,
Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic transpose, "faithful and
true" (literally, "genuine").
6. It is done--the same Greek as in
"It is come to pass." So Vulgate reads with English
Version. But A reads, "They ('these words,'
are come to pass." All is as sure as if it actually had been fulfilled
for it rests on the word of the unchanging God. When the consummation
shall be, God shall rejoice over the work of His own hands, as at the
completion of the first creation God saw everything that He had
made, and behold it was very good
Alpha . . . Omega--Greek in A and B,
"the Alpha . . . the Omega"
give unto . . . athirst . . . water of
Isa 12:3; 55:1;
Joh 4:13, 14; 7:37, 38).
This is added lest any should despair of attaining to this exceeding
weight of glory. In our present state we may drink of the stream, then
we shall drink at the Fountain.
freely--Greek, "gratuitously": the same Greek as is
translated, "(They hated Me) without a cause,"
As gratuitous as was man's hatred of God, so gratuitous
is God's love to man: there was every cause in Christ why man should
love Him, yet man hated Him; there was every cause in man why (humanly
speaking) God should have hated man, yet God loved man: the very
reverse of what might be expected took place in both cases. Even in
heaven our drinking at the Fountain shall be God's gratuitous
7. He that overcometh--another aspect of the believer's life: a
conflict with sin, Satan, and the world is needed. Thirsting for
salvation is the first beginning of, and continues for ever (in the
sense of an appetite and relish for divine joys) a characteristic of
the believer. In a different sense, the believer "shall never thirst."
inherit all things--A, B, Vulgate, and
CYPRIAN read, "these things," namely, the
blessings described in this whole passage. With "all things," compare
I will be his God--Greek, "I will be to him a God," that
is, all that is implied of blessing in the name "God."
he shall be my son--"He" is emphatic: He in particular
and in a peculiar sense, above others: Greek, "shall be to
me a son," in fullest realization of the promise made in type to
Solomon, son of David, and antitypically to the divine Son of
8. the fearful--Greek, "the cowardly," who do not quit
themselves like men so as to "overcome" in the good fight; who have
the spirit of slavish "fear," not love, towards God; and who through
fear of man are not bold for God, or "draw back." Compare
Re 21:27; 22:15.
abominable--who have drank of the harlot's "cup of
sorcerers--one of the characteristics of Antichrist's time.
all liars--Greek, "all the liars": or else "all
who are liars"; compare
1Ti 4:1, 2,
where similarly lying and dealings with spirits and
demons, are joined together as features of "the latter times."
Mr 9:44, 46, 48,
"Where THEIR worm dieth not, and the fire is not
9. The same angel who had shown John Babylon the harlot,
is appropriately employed to show him in contrast new Jerusalem, the
The angel so employed is the one that had the last seven plagues, to
show that the ultimate blessedness of the Church is one end of the
divine judgments on her foes.
unto me--A, B, and Vulgate omit.
the Lamb's wife--in contrast to her who sat on many
(that is, intrigued with many peoples and nations of the world, instead
of giving her undivided affections, as the Bride does, to the Lamb.
10. The words correspond to
to heighten the contrast of the bride and harlot.
where a similar vision is given from a high mountain.
that great--omitted in A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and
CYPRIAN. Translate then, "the holy city
descending--Even in the millennium the earth will not be a
suitable abode for transfigured saints, who therefore shall then reign
in heaven over the earth. But after the renewal of the earth at the
close of the millennium and judgment, they shall descend from
heaven to dwell on an earth assimilated to heaven itself. "From God"
implies that "we (the city) are God's workmanship."
11. Having the glory of God--not merely the Shekinah-cloud, but
God Himself as her glory dwelling in the midst of her. Compare the
type, the earthly Jerusalem in the millennium
her light--Greek, "light-giver": properly applied to the
heavenly luminaries which diffuse light. Compare Note,
the only other passage where it occurs. The "and" before "her light' is
omitted in A, B, and Vulgate.
even like--Greek, "as it were."
jasper--representing watery crystalline brightness.
12. And--A and B omit.
has a similar description, which implies that the millennial Jerusalem
shall have its exact antitype in the heavenly Jerusalem which shall
descend on the finally regenerated earth.
wall great and high--setting forth the security of the Church.
Also, the exclusion of the ungodly.
twelve angels--guards of the twelve gates: an additional emblem
of perfect security, while the gates being never shut
imply perfect liberty and peace. Also, angels shall be the brethren of
the heavenly citizens.
names of . . . twelve tribes--The inscription of the
names on the gates implies that none but the spiritual Israel, God's
elect, shall enter the heavenly city. As the millennium wherein
literal Israel in the flesh shall be the mother Church,
is the antitype to the Old Testament earthly theocracy in the
Holy Land, so the heavenly new Jerusalem is the
consummation antitypical to the spiritual Israel, the elect
Church of Jews and Gentiles being now gathered out: as the spiritual
Israel now is an advance upon the previous literal and carnal Israel,
so the heavenly Jerusalem shall be much in advance of the millennial
13. On the north . . . on the south--A, B, Vulgate,
Syriac, and Coptic read, "And on the north and
on the south." In Ezekiel, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan (for which
Manasseh is substituted in
are on the east
Reuben, Judah, Levi, are on the north
Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, on the south
Gad, Asher, Naphtali, on the west
In Numbers, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun are on the east
(Nu 2:3, 5, 7).
Reuben, Simeon, Gad, on the south
(Nu 2:10, 12, 14).
Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, on the west
(Nu 2:18, 20, 22).
Dan, Asher, Naphtali, on the north
(Nu 2:25, 27, 29).
14. twelve foundations--Joshua, the type of Jesus, chose twelve
men out of the people, to carry twelve stones over the Jordan with
them, as Jesus chose twelve apostles to be the twelve foundations of
the heavenly city, of which He is Himself the Chief corner-stone. Peter
is not the only apostolic rock on whose preaching Christ builds His
Church. Christ Himself is the true foundation: the twelve are
foundations only in regard to their apostolic testimony concerning Him.
Though Paul was an apostle besides the twelve, yet the mystical number
is retained, twelve representing the Church, namely thirty the divine
number, multiplied by four, the world number.
in them the names, &c.--As architects often have their names
inscribed on their great works, so the names of the apostles shall be
held in everlasting remembrance. Vulgate reads, "in
them." But A, B, Syriac, Coptic, and
ANDREAS read, "upon them." These
authorities also insert "twelve" before "names."
15. had a golden reed--so Coptic. But A, B,
Vulgate, and Syriac read, "had (as) a measure, a
golden reed." In
the non-measuring of the outer courts of the temple implied its being
given up to secular and heathen desecration. So here, on the contrary,
the city being measured implies the entire consecration of every part,
all things being brought up to the most exact standard of God's holy
requirements, and also God's accurate guardianship henceforth of even
the most minute parts of His holy city from all evil.
16. twelve thousand furlongs--literally, "to twelve thousand
stadii": one thousand furlongs being the space between the several
twelve gates. BENGEL makes the length of each
side of the city to be twelve thousand stadii. The stupendous
height, length, and breadth being exactly alike, imply its faultless
symmetry, transcending in glory all our most glowing conceptions.
17. hundred . . . forty . . . four
cubits--twelve times twelve: the Church-number squared. The wall is
far beneath the height of the city.
measure of a man, that is, of the angel--The ordinary measure
used by men is the measure here used by the angel,
distinct from "the measure of the sanctuary." Men shall then be
equal to the angels.
18. the building--"the structure"
[TREGELLES], Greek, "endomeesis."
gold, like . . . clear glass--Ideal gold, transparent
as no gold here is [ALFORD]. Excellencies will be
combined in the heavenly city which now seem incompatible.
19. And--so Syriac, Coptic, and
ANDREAS. But A, B, and Vulgate omit.
with this verse; also
all manner of precious stones--Contrast
as to the harlot, Babylon. These precious stones constituted the
chalcedony--agate from Chalcedon: semi-opaque, sky-blue, with
stripes of other colors [ALFORD].
20. sardonyx--a gem having the redness of the cornelian, and the
whiteness of the onyx.
chrysolite--described by PLINY as
transparent and of a golden brightness, like our topaz: different from
our pale green crystallized chrysolite.
beryl--of a sea-green color.
topaz--PLINY [37.32], makes it green
and transparent, like our chrysolite.
chrysoprasus--somewhat pale, and having the purple color of the
amethyst [PLINY, 37, 20, 21].
jacinth--The flashing violet brightness in the amethyst is
diluted in the jacinth [PLINY, 37.41].
21. every several--Greek, "each one severally."
22. no temple . . . God . . . the temple--As
God now dwells in the spiritual Church, His "temple" (Greek,
1Co 3:17; 6:19),
so the Church when perfected shall dwell in Him as her "temple"
(naos: the same Greek). As the Church was "His
sanctuary," so He is to be their sanctuary. Means of grace shall cease
when the end of grace is come. Church ordinances shall give place to
the God of ordinances. Uninterrupted, immediate, direct, communion with
Him and the Lamb (compare
shall supersede intervening ordinances.
23. in it--so Vulgate. But A, B, and
ANDREAS read, "(shine) on it," or
literally, "for her."
the light--Greek, "the lamp"
(Isa 60:19, 20).
The direct light of God and the Lamb shall make the saints independent
of God's creatures, the sun and moon, for light.
24. of them which are saved . . . in--A, B,
Vulgate, Coptic, and ANDREAS read "(the
nations shall walk) by means of her light": omitting "of them
which are saved." Her brightness shall supply them with light.
the kings of the earth--who once had regard only to their glory,
having been converted, now in the new Jerusalem do bring their glory
into it, to lay it down at the feet of their God and Lord.
and honour--so B, Vulgate, and Syriac. But A omits
25. not be shut . . . by day--therefore shall never be
shut: for it shall always be day. Gates are usually shut by
night: but in it shall be no night. There shall be continual free
ingress into it, so as that all which is blessed and glorious may
continually be brought into it. So in the millennial type.
26. All that was truly glorious and excellent in the earth and
its converted nations shall be gathered into it; and while all
shall form one Bride, there shall be various orders among the
redeemed, analogous to the divisions of nations on earth
constituting the one great human family, and to the various orders of
27. anything that defileth--Greek, "koinoun." A
and B read [koinon,] "anything unclean."
in the Lamb's book of life--(See on
As all the filth of the old Jerusalem was carried outside the walls and
burnt there, so nothing defiled shall enter the heavenly city, but be
burnt outside (compare
It is striking that the apostle of love, who shows us the glories of the
heavenly city, is he also who speaks most plainly of the terrors of
Re 21:26, 27,
ALFORD writes a Note, rash in speculation, about
the heathen nations, above what is written, and not at all
required by the sacred text: compare Note, see on