Revelation 21 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Revelation 21)
21:1 And 1 I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

(1) Now follows the second part of the history prophetic of the future estate of the Church in heaven after the last judgment, to (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 22:5). In this are two things briefly declared. The station, seat, or place of it, (Revelation 21:1). Then her state and condition, in the verses following. Before the state of the Church described, is set down the state of the whole world, that there shall be a new heaven, and a new earth; (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13) and this is the seat or place of the Church, in which righteousness shall dwell.

21:2 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

(2) The state of this glorious Church is first described generally to (Revelation 21:3-8), and then specially and by parts, in the verses following. The general description consists in a vision shown afar off, (Revelation 21:2) and in speech spoken from heaven. In the general these things are common, that the Church is holy, new, the workmanship of God, heavenly, most glorious, the spouse of Christ, and partaker of his glory in this verse.

21:3 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.

(3) The Church is described by the speech, first of an angel, in two verses, then by God himself, in four verses. The angel's speech describes the glory of the Church, by the most intimate communion with God, by giving of all manner of good things according to the covenant, in this verse: and by removing or putting away of all evil things, in the verse following (Revelation 21:4).

21:5 4 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

(4) In the speech of God himself describing the Church, is first an introduction, or entrance. Then follows a magnificent description of the Church, by the present and future good things of the same, in three verses following (Revelation 21:6-8). In the introduction God challenges to himself the restoring of all the creatures, (Revelation 21:1) and witnesses the calling of John to the writing of these things, in this verse.

21:6 And he said unto me, 5 It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

(5) The description of the Church is in three parts, by the abolishing of old things, by the being of present things in God, that is, of things eternal: and by the giving of all good things with the godly. If so be they shall contend manfully; (Revelation 21:7). But the reprobate are excluded from there; (Revelation 21:8).

21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their a part in the lake which burneth with fire and

(a) Their lot, and inheritance as it were.

21:9 6 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

(6) A transition to the describing of the heavenly Church, by the express calling of John in this verse, and his enrapturing by the Spirit, in confirmation of the truth of God in the verse following.

21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and 7 high mountain, and shewed me 8 that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

(7) He means the place and stately seat of the Church, foreshadowed in a mountain. (8) A type of that Church which is one, ample, or catholic, holy celestial, built by God, in this verse: and glorious in the verse following (Revelation 21:11). This type propounded generally, is particularly declared; (Revelation 21:12).

21:12 9 And had a wall great and high, [and] had 10 twelve gates, and at the gates 11 twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

(9) A particular description of the celestial Church, first, by its essential parts, compared to a city down to verse 22, (Revelation 21:12-22). Secondly, from the outside, to the end of the chapter (Revelation 21:23-27). Thirdly, by the effects, in the beginning of the next chapter, the essential parts are noted the matter and the form in the whole work: of these the superstructure and foundation of the wall are entire parts (as they use to be called) which parts are first described in figure, to the 14th verse afterwards more exactly.
(10) According to the number of the tribes. For here the outward part is attributed to the Old Testament, and the foundation of the New Testament.
(11) He means the prophets, who are the messengers of God, and watchmen of the Church.

21:14 And the wall of the city had 12 twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

(12) That is, foundation stones, according to the number of the gates, as is shown in (Revelation 21:19).

21:15 13 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

(13) A transition to a more exquisite description of the parts of the Church, by finding out its size, by the angel that measured them.

21:16 14 And the city lieth b foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

(14) The measure and form most equal, in two verses.
(b) A foursquare figure has equal sides, and outright corners, and therefore the Greeks call by this name those things that are steady, and of continuance and perfect.

21:17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred [and] forty [and] four cubits, [according to] the measure of a man, that is, of the c angel.

(c) He adds this, because the angel had the shape of a man.

21:18 15 And the building of the wall of it was [of] jasper: and the city [was] pure gold, like unto clear glass.

(15) The matter most precious and glittering, which the presence of God makes most glorious.

21:21 And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the d street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

(d) By street, he means the broadest place of the city.

21:23 16 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.

(16) The second form of particular description (as I said) See Geneva from exterior and outward actions which are these, light from God himself, to this verse glory from men, (Revelation 21:24). Finally such truth and incorruption of glory (Revelation 21:26) as can bear and abide with it, nothing that is inglorious, (Revelation 21:27).