A Study of Revelation

15* The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.

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

The one who spoke with John was the angel in verse 9 who showed John this vision. This angel had a golden measuring rod which he was to use to measure the city of God. This rod is a figurative representation of the gospel.

In Rev. 11:1 we saw the same symbol. This measuring indicates the ability to determine who is in the temple and who is outside of it. This determination is made by the gospel. Those who are obedient to it are inside the temple and those who are not are outside. You will notice in Rev. 11:1 that the temple is also referred to as the holy city in 11;2.

The dimensions which are given in the next verse are figurative. These measurements are going to describe some feature of this city, the church, and are not to be taken literally. Also notice that the dimension of the gates are never give, although they were to be measured.

16* The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.

We need the KJV here to see something important:

Revelation 21:16-17 (KJV)
16* And the city lieth 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.

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 angel.

Our modern translators have obscured some of the significance of the numbers here, found in the original, in an effort to explain to modern man the size of this city.

The NAS95 says the city was 1,500 miles in length, width and height. As you can see the KJV says that it was 12,000 furlongs in length, width and height. The original language says that the city was 12,000 “stadion” (lit. Greek) in length, width and height. The important thing to remember here is the number 12,000. The number “12” is descriptive of organized religion which has been set up by God. This number consistently has reference to the church in the book of Revelation. If we take the number “1000” the number of ultimate completeness and multiply it by “12”, the product is “12,000” which represents the complete religious city of God. It represents the church of all ages. All who have ever lived and have been obedient to God’s commands are inside the wall of this city. This is a descriptive measurement of a spiritual city.

According to historians, “stadion” was a length of measurement used in the first century equal to about 600 feet. It is the word from which we derived our word “Stadium” today. If you take 600 and multiply it by 12,000 you get 7,200,000. If you multiply 7,200,000 by “2” (for the two laws of God) you get 14,400,000. Then multiply 14,400,000 by the number “10” (the number for completeness) you get 144,000,000. These exercises should convince us that God is telling us that all who have been obedient to him though the Christian age and the Mosaic age will be represented in the 144,000 (Rev. 14:1) who will live with him in eternity.

Here are some additional calculations to consider:

One final look at the description given:

17* And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

Again, the KJV is helpful here:

Revelation 21:17 (KJV)
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 angel.

The wall of this city is 144 cubits (72 yards) thick. “144” is the key to understanding this verse. If you take the number “12” (which refers to the laws given by God) and multiply “12” by “12” for two laws, we get “144.”

This is the same way we arrive at the meaning of the 144,000 in Revelation 14:1. The number “144” represents the giving of the two laws, or the wall of the city, and the 144,000 represents all who have obeyed these laws and have entered in thorough the gates into the city. Those who “come into it” (vs. 27, i.e. the holy city) simply means that one has rendered obedience to the law set up by God. Those inside this wall are the redeemed of all ages, the 144,000. The “according to human measurements” simply establishes the measurements as being those which man would understand.

What we need to see here is a massive wall over 200 feet thick and 1,500 miles high. In Old Testament times the wall of the city provided protection for the city. The bigger, stronger, wider the wall the better the protection. To have a wall over 1,500 miles high and over 200 feet thick represents a wall that is completely impenetrable. This image is used to convey total protection from the enemy. There is no way any enemy can break down or climb over this wall. All who live in this city live in total safety. This is a wall of salvation.

In the book of Revelation 144,000 represent all of God’s redeemed. These are those who pass through the 144 cubit wall of salvation and become part of God’s people in the holy city (the church). They live in the city He built with total measurements of 144,000 cubits.

18* The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

Although we do not know for certain what the “jasper” stone was (most believe it to be a diamond) we can see the lesson here very clearly. This enormous wall was built entirely of jasper, and the city itself was made of gold so pure that you could see through it. This picture points to the value of the city. Nothing is more valuable or precious in the sight of God than his church. This is one of the most important lessons we can learn from the book of Revelation.

The church is precious in the sight of God. Every member of the church should understand just how precious it is and live according to that understanding. Understanding these verses properly would put an end to many of the problems churches have when people begin to lose sight of the significance and value of the church in our world today.

19* The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;
20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.

Remember that verse 14 tells us that the foundation of this wall had the names of the apostles inscribed in them. The wall, which represents the law God has set up for man to obey, was given by the twelve apostles. These two verses list twelve precious stones which garnish the twelve foundations of the wall. The significance here is not to try to determine what each stone represents, the significance is seen
in the beauty and value of these stones. The giving of the law of Christ was the most valuable gift man has ever received because it gave him salvation from his sins.

21* And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

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

Each of the gates to this city is one enormous pearl. This illustrates that obedience to God’s commandments and entrance into this city are priceless. This is comparable to the parable of the pearl of great price in Matt. 13:45,46. In Jesus’ parable a man finds one pearl of great price and proceeds to sell all that he owns in order to buy it. This is how we should consider the church. It is priceless.

We should be willing to give up all earthly goods in order to enter into God’s kingdom.

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

The street of this city is pictured as pure transparent gold. This illustrates the enormous value of the city. It is far beyond comparison to any physical city which might exist. Notice that this city has only one street. It is the street of righteousness. It is the way that leads to eternal life. It is the only street in the city because there is only one way we can get to heaven, and that is by following Christ.

Isaiah 35:8,9
8 A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.
9 No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there,

The redeemed walk in that city today, the church of Christ. The street of gold, the way of holiness, is located in the church today, and only the redeemed may walk there.

22* I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Today the church collectively is the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17) and each individual Christ is the “most holy place” of the temple (1 Cor. 6:19,20). There is no need of a priest to make atonement for us today because Christ is our high priest (Heb. 4:14). Christians are priests today (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). We have direct access to the throne of God through prayer in order to receive forgiveness of sins (Heb. 4:14, 15). The church today does not consist of a physical temple because Christ and God dwell in the people who make up His temple.

23* And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

The Lord’s church does not need light because it contains the glory of God. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12) and Christians are “children of the light” (1 Thess 5:4-9). The church consists of people “walking in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7).

24* The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

This verse teaches the truth that all of the New Testament helps us to see: the responsibility of the church is to share the light of God’s Word with the whole world. When one becomes obedient to the Word of God glory comes to God. Kings of the earth do not bring their glory and honor into heaven, they bring it into the church when they become obedient to God’s laws and enter in through the gates of the holy city.

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

25* In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;
26* and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it;

“There will be no night there” is a reference to the darkness of sin. There is no sin in the church. Those who are in the church have had their sins forgiven. They are in the light. The gates to the church are never closed. This means that a person may obey the gospel and enter in through the gates into the spiritual city of God at any time, day, or night. In ancient times, the gates to the cities were closed at night for the protection from their enemies. Because of this, no one could enter into the city at night. This is not so with God’s city because there is no night there. Therefore, the gates are never closed. Entrance into the church is possible at any time. Again, Isaiah, speaking of the coming kingdom of the Messiah said:

Isaiah 60:11
11 “Your gates will be open continually; They will not be closed day or night, So that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, With their kings led in procession.

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

Today all nations may come into the city of God and can be a part of God’s chosen people, not just one nation as was the case under the law of Moses.

27* and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

The church, God’s spiritual city, is a place where no sin can enter. When we become obedient to God’s law and pass through the gates into the city, our sins are forgiven. Today, all types of sins surround the church. Those who commit such sins are outside his city. They have refused to turn from these acts and receive forgiveness by obeying the commandments of God. The only people who can enter into the city are those who have had their sins forgiven and have had their names added to the Lamb’s book of life.

Rev. 22:19 explains that it is possible for a person’s name to be removed from the book of life, therefore, we are taking about entrance to the church, not heaven, because once we enter heaven, there will be no danger of losing that inheritance. Verse 19 also refers to the possibility of losing our part in the holy city. When we enter into the holy city, we must remain faithful in order to keep ourselves inside the walls of this spiritual city of God, his church.

Isaiah said of the coming kingdom:

Isaiah 35:8
8 A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.

This is a reference to Christ’s kingdom, the church, which Isaiah prophesied would come into existence when the Messiah came. Only those who have had their sins forgiven will be allowed entrance into his spiritual city. They are the only ones who will be able to walk down the street of gold.

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