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Notes on the Book of Revelation

Chapter 21

New Heaven And A New Earth



John 14:1-3 says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” This chapter describes what Jesus was preparing for us, a holy city called New Jerusalem. 


1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” We can’t even imagine what God has in store for us in heaven.


Romans 8:18 says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Our sufferings now are not worthy to be compared to what God is going to give to us. Just the fact that we are going to live forever is enough to compensate us for our sufferings now. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus and what He went through and what we’re going through doesn’t even compare. Our sufferings will definitely not matter once we’re living for eternity in heaven.


This chapter lets us know that heaven is a real place by providing details of the city. Contrary to popular belief, heaven will not be a place where we float on clouds and play harps all day. It is a real place that God has prepared for us.1 


This chart is taken from Pastor Stephen Bohr's series called, "From the Close of Probation to the New Earth", which is a part of his Anchor School of Theology classes. The entire series can be found on the Secrets Unsealed app and YouTube channel.  

  • Revelation 21:1, And 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.


21V1: This verse is actually the last verse of chapter 20 because after the lake of fire God recreates the earth; then in chapter 21 John goes back and explains the New Jerusalem without going into details about the lake of fire since it was already covered.2 This is another example of repeat and enlarge. The holy city New Jerusalem was mentioned in Revelation 20:9 as ‘the camp’ and ‘the beloved city’. So chapter 21 goes back to explain the city and how it got to earth.   


21V1: New heaven = Atmosphere; There are three heavens in the Bible; First heaven = Atmosphere (Genesis 7:23; Acts 1:11; Isaiah 65:17), Second heaven = Sun, moon and stars (Genesis 22:17), and third heaven = Dwelling place of God (Matthew 5:16). God recreates the atmosphere around the new earth which He also recreates. 


21V1: No more sea = The exact meaning of this phrase is not known for sure, but it could mean no more oceans like we have now. Plus, the earth is around 70% covered in water because of the world-wide flood that occurred in Noah’s day. So a recreated earth would naturally not be filled with 70% water, so there may not be large bodies of water like oceans that we have now. After the new creation the earth will probably be more land than water. But if sea life was a part of God’s original plan for earth, then it will probably be a part of the new creation as well.

“The sea divides friends. It is a barrier between us and those whom we love. Our associations are broken up by the broad, fathomless ocean. In the new earth there will be no more sea, and there shall pass there "no galley with oars." In the past many who have loved and served God have been bound by chains to their seats in galleys, compelled to serve the purpose of cruel, hardhearted men. The Lord has looked upon their suffering in sympathy and compassion. Thank God, in the earth made new there will be no fierce torrents, no engulfing ocean, no restless, murmuring waves” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 33, page 1911)



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


21V2-8: This is the fourth of four cycles of the Millennium.

Cycle 1 - Revelation 20:1-3, Center of focus: Satan and the condition of the earth.

Cycle 2 - Revelation 20:4-10, Center of focus: The saints in heaven. 

Cycle 3 - Revelation 20:11-21:1, Center of focus: The judgment of the wicked.

Cycle 4 - Revelation 21:2-8, Center of focus: Future life in the Holy City. 

21V2: This is the beginning of the fourth cycle because the events in this verse actually occur before the events in verse 1, which should actually be the concluding verse of chapter 20. Verse two starts a new chapter and is the beginning of the new cycle. 

21V2: New Jerusalem coming down = This is the third coming of Christ, after the thousand years in chapter 20 (millennium). During the second coming Jesus’ feet never touches the ground, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. But, at the third coming, after the millennium, Jesus’ feet will touch the ground first before the Holy City lands, Zechariah 14:4.


21V2: Coming down = New Jerusalem is coming down from heaven (God’s throne). Remember that there are three heavens, see verse 1. The New Jerusalem is coming from the third heaven. God is moving His throne from the third heaven to the earth to be with us forever. We will have the privilege of having God’s throne on earth with us serving Him forever. God will rule the universe and all of creation from the earth. 


21V2: Bride adorned for her husband = Jesus is the groom (Revelation 21:2-3; John 3:29) and we are the bride (Jeremiah 33:11; Isaiah 62:5). There are two brides referred to in the Bible, one is God’s city, New Jerusalem and the other is His church, Revelation 21:2, 9-10. It’s not necessarily the city itself, but the people in it that makes it the bride (both combined). The saints are referred to as a bride in Jeremiah 33:11 which says, “The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.”, and Isaiah 62:5 which says, “For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.”3


“The heavenly city is Christ's Bride, not on account of what makes it a city, but on account of the sanctified and glorified ones who inhabit it. Without the saints, whose home and residence it is, it would not be the Lamb's Wife; and yet it is the Lamb's Wife in a sense which does not exclude the foundations, walls, gates, streets and constructions which contribute to make it a city. Mere edifices and avenues do not make a city; neither does a mere congregation or multitude of people make a city. You cannot have a living city without people to inhabit it; and you cannot have a city without the edifices and avenues arranged in some fixed shape for the accommodation of those who make up its population. It is the two together, and the order in which the parts are severally disposed, the animate with the inanimate, which constitute a city. And while this holy Jerusalem is the Bride and Wife of Christ with reference to its holy occupants, it is still those occupants as disposed and arranged in that city. So that the city as a city, as well as its people as a people, even the whole taken together, is embraced in what the angel calls ‘the Bride, the Lamb's Wife,’ as she finally appears in her eternal form and completeness.” (J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft)



  • Revelation 21:3, 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.


21V3: Tabernacle = Place of worship. It also refers to the tent or structure where worship takes place. In the early temple during the time of Moses and the Israelites while they wandered in the desert, the tabernacle was the actual tent structure where the presence of God dwelled in the Most Holy place, see Annex B (The Sanctuary). Therefore, the tabernacle can also refer to the dwelling place of God. 


21V3: The tabernacle of God is with men = God will move His throne to earth and dwell with us forever; what an honor and privilege! God places His capital of the universe in the one place in the universe where rebellion thrived and the war raged for thousands of years. This act alone shows the grace of God.4



  • Revelation 21:4, And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 


21V4: No more death = We are not immortal until we recieve our heavenly bodies at the second coming of Jesus Christ.


1 Corinthians 15:51-53, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”


1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”


Only God has immortality, 1 Timothy 6:16, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”


We seek after immortality, Romans 2:7, “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:” Once we are given our heavenly bodies and we are allowed to eat from the Tree of Life, then we will have immortality, Genesis 3:22-24, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” 


21V4: Nor crying = This points to a time after the events in chapter 20, specifically hellfire. There will probably still be some tears when we see loved ones and friends perish in fire and brimstone. We will know that the punishment is just because we will have inspected the books for a thousand years during the millennium, but there will still be sadness to see the final judgment executed on the wicked. Afterwards, God will wipe away our tears and over time (eternity) it will be less and less painful of an event. Even God does not want to burn the wicked in hellfire, but it must be done to eradicate sin and evil from the universe, Isaiah 28:21 (strange act); Ezekiel 33:11 (I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked). 


21V4: This verse pulls from Isaiah 25:8, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”



  • Revelation 21:5, 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.


21V5: God will rid the universe of sin and evil once and for all and will make all things new, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”



  • Revelation 21:6, And he said unto me, 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.


21V6: It is done = Similar to the phrase Jesus used on the cross when He said ‘It is finished’, John 19:30; Luke 23:46 (cried with a loud voice is when Jesus said it is finished). 


21V6: Alpha and Omega = This combines similar verses in Revelation 1:8 and verse 11 and Revelation 22:13. Refers to the eternal existence of the Godhead. See Revelation 1:8 for a fuller description. 


21V6: Water of life = This is referring to Jesus as our spiritual drink, 1 Corinthians 10:4 (spiritual drink); John 4:10 (given thee living water), 14 (shall never thirst and have everlasting life); 7:37-38 (come to Jesus and drink); Jeremiah 2:13 (fountain of living waters); Revelation 22:1 (river of water of life).  



  • Revelation 21:7, He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.


21V7: Overcometh = Those that remain faithful to God and to His doctrines while going through persecution, Revelation 2:7 (eat of the tree of life); Revelation 2:11 (not be hurt by the second death); Revelation 2:17 (eat of the hidden manna and a new name); Revelation 2:26-28 (power, rule with Jesus); Revelation 3:5 (clothed in white raiment and name in book of life); Revelation 3:12 (become a pillar with a new name); Revelation 3:21 (sit on the throne); Revelation 21:7 (inherit all things). These are all wonderful promises from God for His people if they remain faithful until the end, 1 John 5:4-5 (through faith believe that Jesus is the Son of God); 2 Timothy 3:12 (all shall suffer persecution); Philippians 1:29 (suffer for His sake); 1 Peter 3:14-15 (happy are ye to suffer); 1 Peter 4:12-17 (rejoice through trials); Matthew 5:10-12 (blessed are they which are persecuted); 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (affliction is but for a moment).



  • Revelation 21:8, But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.


21V8: Fearful = Also can be translated as cowardly.


21V8: Unbelieving = Also can be translated as faithless.


21V8: Abominable = Also can be translated as vile or detestable.


21V8: Whoremongers = Also can be translated as sexually immoral.


21V8: Sorcerers = Also can be translated as those that practice magic arts, Malachi 3:5 (swift judgment against sorcerers); Isaiah 47:9-15 (sorcery is wickedness); Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (witches, wizards, enchanters are an abomination to the Lord); Leviticus 19:26, 31 (seeking after wizards defiles you); Leviticus 20:6, 27 (wizards and those with familiar spirits are put to death); 1 Samuel 28:3, 7-9, 15 (the death penalty for wizards and those with a familiar spirit); 2 Kings 21:6 (wizards, familiar spirits and enchanters are wicked in the sight of the Lord); 2 Kings 23:24 (wizards and those with familiar spirits are an abomination); Exodus 22:18 (witches put to death). Christians should stay away from anything that contains any form of sorcery, magic arts, enchanting, wizardry, necromancy, astrology, divination and anything similar. Christians should avoid those things that glorify magic arts such as books, television and movies since these magic arts are an abomination to the Lord and are wicked in His eyes, Philippians 4:8 (only watch and think of good things); Psalm 101:3 (I will set no wicked thing before my eyes); Romans 1:32 (we are held accountable for wickedness if we take pleasure in watching others do wickedness like on television, movies and in books); 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 (those that take pleasure in unrighteousness are condemned); Isaiah 5:20 (woe unto them that call evil good and good evil); Isaiah 8:19-20 (to the law and to the testimony).   


21V8: Second death = Is the death that the wicked will experience in hellfire. Only the wicked will experience this death. 



  • Revelation 21:9, 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 show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.


21V9: Lamb’s wife = New Jerusalem, see verse 10; remember that one of the themes of Revelation is that it’s a love story. See verse 2 for a better understanding of the term wife and bride as used in Bible symbology. 


It’s not actually the city, but the people in the city which is the bride. 



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


21V10: That great city, the holy Jerusalem = The Lamb’s wife, see verse 9; although the city here is referred to Jesus’ bride, the people that are saved, the saints, are also referred to as His bride (because we are the ones that will be living in the city), Jeremiah 33:11; Isaiah 62:5.5


21V10: The great city is coming down to earth to settle in the place where Jerusalem sits today, Zechariah 14:4 (after this event the city descends and lands).



  • Revelation 21:11, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 



  • Revelation 21:12, And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:  


21V12: Twelve tribes = To represent all those saved during the Old Testament times (from Adam to the death of Jesus on the cross). 



  • Revelation 21:13, On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 


21V13: Names of the gates are in Ezekiel 48:30-35. East gates are Joseph, Benjamin and Dan. The North gates are Reuben, Judah and Levi. The South gates are Simeon, Issachar and Zebulun. The West gates are Gad, Asher and Naphtali. 


Another symbolic meaning: “The twelve gates in the walls of the New Jerusalem on the north, south, east, and west represent the complete number of the redeemed entering the Holy City from all corners of the earth when Jesus returns to take us home.” (Mark Finley, Understanding Daniel and Revelation, page 239)



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


21V14: Twelve apostles = To represent all those saved during the New Testament times (from the death of Jesus on the cross until probation is closed and the plagues begin to fall). 



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



  • Revelation 21:16, 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.


21V16: Furlong = About 660 feet; So 12,000 furlongs = About 1,500 miles (or 375 miles on each side). This is a very large city. 

“Thus, this city is a solid cube of golden constructions, 1,500 miles every way. The base of it would stretch from furthest Maine to furthest Florida, and from the shore of the Atlantic to Colorado. It would cover all Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Prussia, European Turkey, and half of European Russia, taken together! (J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft)



  • Revelation 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 angel.


21V17: Cubits = The distance between a man’s elbow and the tips of his fingers, so about 18 inches; so the walls are about 214 feet high (almost 20 stories).



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


21V18: Pure gold is almost like clear glass. All the gold on earth is imperfect and has the gold color. 



  • Revelation 21:19, And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 



  • Revelation 21:20, The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.



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


21V21: One pearl = Represents the pain, suffering and persecution the saints have to go through before getting to heaven; it’s painful for the clam to have a grain of sand inside, so it creates the smooth pearl around it.6



  • Revelation 21:22, And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.


21V22: God and the Lamb are the temple = This refers to one of the seven temples mentioned in the Bible.7 The seven temples are Moses’ temple in the wilderness, Exodus 25:8-9; Solomon’s temple, 1 Kings 6:1-38; the rebuilt temple, Ezra 6:13-22; our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; the church is the temple, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; the heavenly temple, Hebrews 8:2; and God and the Lamb as the temple. 


21V22: No temple therein = There is no temple in the New Jerusalem that comes down to earth after the thousand years (the millennium). Does this conflict with Revelation 7:15, “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.”


EGW commentary answers this question. 


“This temple was supported by seven pillars, all of transparent gold, set with pearls most glorious. The wonderful things I there saw I cannot describe. Oh, that I could talk in the language of Canaan, then could I tell a little of the glory of the better world. I saw there tables of stone in which the names of the 144,000 were engraved in letters of gold. After we beheld the glory of the temple, we went out, and Jesus left us and went to the city.” (Early Writings, page 19)


The temple is outside the city according to the commentary. This explains why the redeemed can worship in the temple and then go to the city where there is no temple. Both verses are not contradictory, they are both correct. 



  • Revelation 21:23, 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.


21V23: No need of the sun = This is only in the city, Isaiah 24:23, the brightness of God will put the sun to shame and will light the city; Isaiah 66:23, but there will still be a need for the sun and the moon because we will use it to measure the weekly Sabbath in the new earth and when we will eat from the tree of life on a monthly basis, Revelation 22:2.8 This verse specifically says that the city has no need of the sun, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a sun.    



  • Revelation 21:24, And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.



  • Revelation 21:25, And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.


21V25: During the war (the great controversy) that rages on, angels must show IDs at the gate to go in and out. Those angels going to and from the earth are commissioned by God and given a special ID to exit and enter the gates of heaven. 


“There is perfect order and harmony in the Holy City. All the angels that are commissioned to visit the earth hold a golden card, which they present to the angels at the gates of the city as they pass in and out. Heaven is a good place. I long to be there and behold my lovely Jesus, who gave His life for me, and be changed into His glorious image. Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come! I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God.” (Early Writings, page 39.2) 


Once the war is over and the wicked have been destroyed, there is no need for golden cards or IDs to be shown at the gates and they can remain open. 

21V25: God’s glory will light the city 24 hours a day, so there will be no night in the city. 



  • Revelation 21:26, And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.



  • Revelation 21:27, And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. 


21V27: Those listed in verse 8 will not enter the kingdom of heaven. There are other similar lists in the Bible as well, such as Galatians 5:19-21.




Chapter 21 Resources and Notes

1.  Pastor James Rafferty and Pastor Ivor Myers, Salvation in Symbols and Signs (Program on 3ABN’s Dare To Dream Network), video series can be accessed here:


2.  Ibid.


3.  Ibid.


4.  Ibid.


5.  Ibid.


6.  Ibid.


7.  Pastor Doug Batchelor of Amazing Facts Ministry, Where Is the Temple of the Lord? Part 2, video sermon can be accessed here:  


8.  Pastor James Rafferty and Pastor Ivor Myers, Salvation in Symbols and Signs (Program on 3ABN’s Dare To Dream Network), video series can be accessed here:



Ellen White references can be found here:

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