A Study of Revelation

21:1* ¶ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

The subjects of verse one and two are quite different. Verse one is referring to a new heaven, but verse two is speaking of the holy city of God which came down out of heaven. The holy city which came down from heaven is the church of our Lord. Heaven is the final dwelling place for those who have been faithful members of His church during their lives on this earth. Since the subjects of verse one and two are different, we are dealing with two different visions. Verse two is the beginning of the vision of the new Jerusalem or the church. Verse one is the concluding verse to the previous version (see notes on chapter twenty).

One of the proofs that this is the proper way to divide these two visions is understanding the meaning of the phrase “and there is no longer any sea.” Throughout the book of Revelation the “sea” is symbolic of the masses of people dwelling upon this earth who are not Christians (cf. Rev. 12:16). After judgment there will be no more sea. Only those people who have been faithful to Christ will be residents of the new heaven and new earth.

2* And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

Here we begin to look at the last section of the book of Revelation which describes the holy city of God. This is clearly a reference to the church of the Lord, it is NOT a reference to our eternal home in heaven.

Hebrews 12:22-23
22* But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriad’s of angels,
23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
24* and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

As we have throughout our study, we are going to allow the Bible to define terms which are used in the Book of Revelation. The Hebrew writer clearly defines the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, Mount Zion as the church.

Romans 7:4
4* Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Ephesians 5:31,32
31* FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
32* This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

The church is married to Christ today, she is the bride of Christ. We do no have to wait until the judgment to be the bride of Christ or to be married to Him. We are Christ’s bride today. The holy city John sees in this vision is the spiritual city of God, the church.

The holy city is seen coming down from God out of heaven. This should help us to see that the holy city and heaven are two different places. The bride of Christ (the church) has already descended from God out of heaven. This took place on the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection. This spiritual city, the new Jerusalem, replaced the physical city of Jerusalem as man’s place of worship to God. When this took place, God’s chosen people no longer dwelt in a physical earthly kingdom (Israel), but rather in a spiritual heavenly kingdom (the church).

As we study this chapter we will see that the holy city symbolizes a number of things. Consider the following:

In Rev. 21:9 John is told: “ “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” John is shown the bride of Christ. There is no doubt that the bride of Christ is the church of Christ.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

In Rev. 21:14 tells us: “And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” This indicates that the city is built upon the foundations laid by the twelve apostles. In Ephesians 2:20 Paul says that the church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.”


Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

In Rev. 21:24 we are told that “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” 1 John 1:5-7 says that if we “walk in the light,” the blood of Jesus will cleanse us of our sins. The saved today are in the church, walking in the light. We are also told that the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. It is hard to imagine how king of this earth could take their glory and honor into heaven. If kings of the earth are converted to Christianity, they bring their honor into the church (cf. Isaiah 60:11).

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Rev. 21:25 tells us that the gates are never closed. We know that a person may be added to the church by our Lord at any time. Man neither has the means nor the right to refuse any believer admittance to the church, the holy Jerusalem.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Rev. 21:27 tells us that “ nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it.” Before one enters the church he is cleansed of his sins (Acts 22:16). We are also told in verse 27 that only those whose names are written in the book of life enter the city. Philippians 4:3 indicates that as Christians today our names are written in the book of life, therefore, those whose names are written in the book of life are residents in the holy city of God, the church.

Rev. 22:1 tells us that the water of life is in the city, and in 22:17 we are bidden to partake of that water of life. This water represents the gospel in the book of Revelation. The gospel is located in the church. When we are obedient to that gospel, we partake of that water of life flowing in the city of God.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Rev. 22:2 describes the tree of life in the city, and it says that the leaves are for the healing of the nations. After judgment, when all people have received their final destiny, there will be no healing of the nations. Those who have received eternal punishment must remain there. The healing of the nations takes place today as people become obedient to God’s laws and are added to his church.

Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992.
To order prints visit:
“Revelation Illustrated”

Rev. 22:14 explains the requirement for entrance into the city. We must do his commandments. We are in Christ if we keep his commandments (1 Jn. 5:3; Jn. 15:10). The next verse shows that all types of sinners are outside the city. This is not speaking of being outside the gates of heaven, but rather all around the church in the world today.

Rev. 22:19 warns “if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” This is speaking of this present time. If man takes away from the Word of God today, God will erase his name out of the book of life and remove him from the holy city. He would no longer be a part of the church or the saved. This must refer to the church because once we reach heaven, there will be no danger of losing our eternal inheritance.

For these reasons, and for many more revealed to us in the book of Revelation, we must conclude that this section is dealing with the church on earth, NOT our eternal abode in heaven. This city, the church, is the spiritual city built by God. It is the place where those people who have their sins forgiven by the blood of Christ dwell. Christ DID NOT come to earth to establish an earthly kingdom. He came to establish a spiritual kingdom. He accomplished that with the establishment of the church, and if we desire to spend an eternity in heaven with him, we must be a part of that spiritual kingdom because that is where the tree of life is located. As long as we are in that beautiful city and partake of that tree of life we shall live spiritually forever.

Comments are closed.