AN EVALUATION OF REVELATION
21:9 THROUGH 22:7
After considering all the
viable theories that have been suggested among Christian scholars, Pentecost
some conclusions that I see as correct.
From page 579,
would thus be concluded that during the millennium the heavenly city will be
brought into a relation to the earth, although not settled on the earth. The resurrected saints of an ages in that
city will be in their eternal state and possessed of their eternal blessings,
even though such is not true of things down on the earth itself."
And from page 580,
"A mediating view, that the eternal state of the resurrected during the
millennium is seen in the passage, is
suggested as a better view. When the occupants of the city are described
it must be seen that they are in
their eternal state, possessing their eternal inheritance, in eternal
relationship with God who has tabernacled
among them. There will be no change
in their position or relation whatsoever. When the occupants of the
earth are described they are seen in the millennial age. They have an established
relationship to the heavenly
|city which is above them, in whose light they
walk. Yet their position is not eternal nor unchangeable, but
THINGS TO COME by Dwight
THE HEAVENLY CITY NEW JERUSALEM
There are few passages of Scripture on which there is such a wide divergence
of opinion among dispensational premillennialists as Revelation 21:9 to 22:7.
Some see this as descriptive of the eternal state while others see it as
descriptive of the millennial age. Some interpret the city as referring to the
relation to Christ and others as referring to Israel in her relation
to Christ. Some take this as a literal city
and others as a symbolical
representation. Many and varied are the interpretations given to this passage
WHERE DOES REVELATION 21:9 TO 22:7 FIT INTO THE PROPHETIC PICTURE?
The main features of the major interpretations of this passage must be
examined in an effort to establish a position which harmony with the whole
revelation of the Word of God.
Revelation 21:9 to 22:7 describes the millennium.
The view held by Darby, Gaebelein, Grant, Ironside, Jennings, Kelly,
Pettingill, Seiss, Scott, and others
is the view that after describing the
eternal state in Revelation 21:1-8 John gives a recapitulation of the
millennial age, in order to describe more fully that period of time. There are
a number of arguments
presented by the advocates of this interpretation to
support their view.
principle of retrospection in the book of Revelation.
Kelly one of the foremost exponents of the view that this passage relates to
the millennia! age, writes:
. . . it is the manner of God in this book to take a retrospect. I say
this to shew that I am not at
all arguing for something without precedent. . . . Take for instance,
chapter xiv. There we had
seen a regular sevenfold series of events, in the course of which the
fall of Babylon occupies
the third place . . . Babylon there has got its place assigned very
clearly. . .
. . . But long after this in the prophecy, when the Spirit of God has
given us the seven vials of
God's wrath, we have Babylon again. . . . In this case the Holy Ghost has
carried us down in
chapter xiv. to events subsequent to Babylon's fall, and even to the
Lord's coming in
judgment; and then He returns to shew us details about Babylon and her
connection with the
beast, and the kings of the earth, in chapters
Now it appears to me that this exactly answers to the order of the events
in Chapter xxi.(l)
reply to, such a position, Ottman writes:
This expanded vision of the new Jerusalem does not, for its
interpretation, demand a return in
thought to the conditions existing during the Millennium. The Millennium
is the theme,
indeed, of the prophecies in the Old Testament, and beyond the Millennium
rarely go. There are only two passages-and both of them in Isaiah-that
give but a brief glance
at what lies beyond the Millennia! reign of Christ. . . .
This is the general character of Old Testament prophecy, which does not
anything beyond the earthly reign of the Messiah. Such a limitation,
however, is found
nowhere in the New Testament, and a return to the Millennial earth in
this vision of John
would be incongruous and perplexing.(2)
could be further argued that the two passages referred to by Kelly are not
parallel, for in the first
retrospection we have a return from time to an
event in time, but in the second it is a retrospection from
eternity back into
time. Thus the parallelism is destroyed.
The ministry of the vial angel.
Many writers agree, with Darby in identifying this passage as millennial
because of the speaker who introduces the scenes in Revelation 17:1 and 21:9.
In comparing verse 9 with chapter xvii.1, you will find this likeness,
that it is one of the seven
angels who have the seven vials that gives the description of Babylon,
and that it is one of
them also who describes the bride of the Lamb, the holy city, with the
whole of the prophecy
from verse 9. . . .
. . . What is found in chapters xxi.9-27 and xxii.1-5 does not form a
historical or prophetic, of what precedes. It is a description of the New
Jerusalem, and there
are many circumstances which precede what is in the beginning of the
chapter. The angel, in
the same manner, describes Babylon after having given her victory. (3)
(1) William Kelly, Lectures on The Revelation pp. 460-61.
(2) I Ford C. Ottman, The Unfolding of the Ages, p. 458.
(3) J. N. Darby, Notes on the Apocalypse, pp. 149-50.
this it could be replied that there is no real parallelism between the
revelation of the angel in these two
passages. Babylon is introduced in
Revelation 16: 19 and the retrospection follows immediately in
chapters 17 and
18. But in revealing the events at the close of chapter 20, with which
be associated if it refers to the millennium, eternity
intervenes between the statement and the retrospection
and explanation. Thus
the parallelism is destroyed.
The use of dispensational names.
Kelly seeks to further substantiate his interpretation by observing:
It will be observed also that in the portion relative to the millennium
(that is, from verse 9 of chap. xxi.)
we have dispensational names, such as the Lord God
Almighty and the Lamb; not so in chapter xxi.1-8,
which discloses eternity, where God shall be all in
In reply to this it could be stated that these names are not necessarily
dispensational in their connotation.
The title Lamb, as applied to Christ
antedates time, for it is so used in 1 Peter 1:19. It is used by John in
age of law in John 1:29. It is employed in the age of grace in Acts 8:32. It
is used in the tribulation
period in Revelation 7:14. The name Lamb is an
eternal name given to Christ in view of His completed
sacrifice and eternal
redemption and can not be confined to one age or people. The name Almighty is
used more than thirty times in the pre-patriarchal book of Job and thus can
not be confined to one people
or age. This name will take on new significance
in that it has been demonstrated through the destruction
of the last enemy
that God is the Almighty.
The healing of the nations.
It is argued that the necessity of healing, as taught in Revelation 22:2,
requires that this passage
(4) William Kelly, The Revelation, p. 460.
viewed as millennial. Jennings says, "Healing is applicable to the inevitable
consequences of that evil
principle, sin, still in 'us, as then in the
nations; compassion and grace can meet those consequences with
And Kelly adds, “. . . in eternity nations will not exist as such; neither
will any need
healing then.(6) Scott notes the parallelism between this
passage and Ezekiel 47:12, and says:
The millennial nations are dependent on the city above, for light, for
government, and for
healing. All this has its counterpart in that
remarkable chapter in Ezek. 47. "The fruit thereof
shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine"
Both the scene above (Rev. 22), and the scene below
(Ezek. 47) are millennial, and both exist
at the same time, but the blessing of the former
infinitely transcends that of the latter. The tree of life
sustains; the river of life gladdens. (7)
reply to this reasoning Ottman says:
But the two visions are not the same. The range of Ezekiel's prophecy
does not extend beyond the
Millennium, whereas John's is of Eternity. Ezekiel's,
nevertheless, is typical of the one in Revelation. . . .
We must remember that the Millennium represents Heaven
only typically, and even though their
descriptive terms seem to harmonize here, we are not to
confuse the two. The healing of the nations
here spoken of does not necessarily involve a return to
Millennial conditions. The nations that are in
existence at the close of the thousand years of
Christ's reign need healing for the full and final blessing
which is afterwards to be ushered in. (8)
could further be observed that often times in the prophets healing, is used in
a spiritual sense rather than a literal sense. Thus a reference to some
specific sin or infirmity which necessitates amillennial interpretation need
not be inferred.
could be noted further that a tree of life was in the garden to sustain life
for Adam in his unfallen state.
It did not there have reference to sin or disease and need not here.
(5) F.C. Jennings, Studies in Revelation, p. 588.
(6) Kelly, op. cit., p. 488.
(7) Walter Scott, Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, pp. 440-41
(8) Ottman, op. cit., p. 472.
The existence of nations.
Kelly argues at length that the mention of nations in this passage
necessitates its reference to the millennial age.
In the eternal state God has to do with men. AU time distinctions are at
an end. There is no such thing
then as kings and nations. . . . if we look at the
latter part of the chapter, we have again to do with nations
and earthly kings. . . . When eternity begins, God has
done dealing with things according to the order of
the world-kings and nations, and the like provisions of
a temporal nature. All this implies government, as
government supposes that there is evil which requires suppression. Consequently, in the latter part of our
is not the eternal condition which we have, but a previous state. . . . (9)
answer to this objection Ottman writes:
Although the earth be dissolved by fire, Israel does
not cease to be the object of God's love, but as a
nation survives this judgment. This is perfectly
evident from the passage in Isaiah that goes beyond the
Millennial reign, and declares the continuance of
Israel in connection with the new heavens and the new
earth. (Is. 66:22). That none of the other Millennial
nations should in like manner survive the dissolution
of the earth is almost inconceivable. . . . Thus they also
shall have their connection with the new earth, but
distinct from the Church and Israel. (l0)
Much of the argument seems to turn on the interpretation of the preposition
eis in Revelation 21:26.
Kelly, a careful Greek student, states, "Not into,
but unto, for which in Greek there is but one word, eis.”
(11) He thus, by
this translation, substantiates his view that this scene in Revelation 21:26
and the nations will approach unto the city. Ottman insists on
the translation into and says:
At the close of the Millennium, as during it, there shall be nations. In
this conception there is no difficulty,
nor is there any in the fact of their having access to
the holy city, unto which they shall bring their glory and
Dean Alford says: . . . "If the kings of the
earth, and the nations bring their glory and their treasures into
her, and if none shall ever enter into her that is not
written in the book of life, it follows, that these kings,
and these nations, are written in the book of life. . .
. There may be . . . those who have been saved by
Christ without ever forming a part of His visible
organized Church." (12)
(9) Kelly, op. cit., pp. 459-60
(10) Ottman, op. cit., p 470.
(11) Kelly, op. cit., p. 481, footnote
(12) Ottman, op. cit., p 469.
The ministry of angels.
Scott argues that this must be millennial because "We have had no angelic
ministrations in the scene of
eternity, here they are prominent." (13) Such a
ministry, he feels, necessitates a millennial interpretation.
Against this it may be stated that the description given to us of the eternal
state in Revelation 21:1-8 is
very brief. It is an argument from silence to
infer that there will be no angelic ministry in eternity.
In Hebrews 12:22
angels are said to inhabit the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.
It is not necessary to exclude them from eternity because of the silence in
Such are the main arguments of the protagonists of this position and the
refutations given by its antagonists.
It is interesting to note the
observation of Kelly, who, although holding strongly to the millennial
states, "But there are certain features in it which are true
Revelation 21:9 to 22:7 describes the eternal state.
The view held by Govett, Larkin, Newell, Ottman and others is the view that
Revelation 21:1 through 22:7
refers to the eternal state. They offer a number
of arguments to support their position.
The adjective ''new'' as used in Revelation 21:1-2.
There are three new things
mentioned in these verses: a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem.
is argued that the new Jeruselem of verse 2 and the holy Jerusalem of verse 10
must be the same and
since it is related to the new heaven and new earth,
which represents eternity in the first instance, it must
positions in the second also.
this argument it may be replied that the city of verse 10 is seen in the
process of descent, not to the
earth, but to be suspended over the earth. It is not until eternity (verse 2) that the final
descent to the earth
is described, at which time the new heaven, the new
earth, and the new Jerusalem will be in relationship
to each other.
The position of the city in Revelation 21:10.
It is generally agreed by
interpreters of both views that the city seen in Revelation 21:10 is suspended
the earth. On this basis it is argued that this could not be the
millennial scene, for in the millennium the Lord
returns to the earth and His feet stand on the mount of Olives (Zech.
14:4). The Lord, it is argued, will reign
from earthly Jerusalem, not heavenly Jerusalem. Since this city is
not on the earth it can not be millennial,
for it obviously is the center of
the habitation of the Lamb.
reply it may be argued that Christ will return to the earth at the second
advent and He will reign on
David's throne. The center of that authority is
recognized to be earthly Jerusalem. That does not necessitate
the presence of
Christ on that throne constantly. Christ may still reign on David's throne
Kingdom, but make the heavenly Jerusalem His place of residence
with His Bride.
The characteristics of the city are eternal, not millennial.
Advocates of the
position that this passage refers to the eternal state point out a number of
within it that are eternal in character. It has the "glory of
God" within it. Unsaved could not stand that glory, but would be struck down
as Paul was
(Acts 9:3). It has no temple (v. 22), and it is clearly predicted in
40-48 that there will be a temple in the millennia! earth. There is no night
there (v. 25), and there
will be day and night in the millennium (Isa. 30:26;
60:19-20). The throne of God is there (22:3).
There is no more curse there
(22:3), so the effects of the fall are removed. All who are there are saved
(21:27) so this must be eternity, since unsaved will be born during the
millennium. There is no more death
since individuals will die during the millennium (Isa. 65:20) it must refer
to the eternal state.
these observations it could be replied that Matthew 25:31 indicates that
Christ will assume the "throne of His glory" at
the second advent and will certainly occupy that throne throughout the
millennium. The absence of the temple is not a deciding argument for
Ezekiel's temple is in the earthly Jerusalem and there would be no need of a
temple in the heavenly Jerusalem for the Lamb Himself is there. In like
manner, the absence of night
is not decisive, for there will be night on the the millennial earth, but need not be in the heavenly city, since
the Lamb is
there to give light. The curse could refer to the lifting of the curse on the
earth because of sin,
so that productivity may return to original capacity and
the venom of animal creation and the enmity between man and the animals may be
removed (Isa.11) and it need not refer to the final removal of the curse
through the conflagration described in 2 Peter 3:10. Only saved could enter
this city to dwell there, but unsaved
might dwell on the earth during the
millennium in its light. Such a line of argument could be used to show
these references are not necessarily confined to eternity.
The length of the reign.
It is stated in Revelation 22:5 that the saints are
to reign "forever and ever." When the reign of the saints
who are in the
millennium is referred to in Revelation 20:4 they are said to reign "with
Christ for a thousand
years." A thousand years is not forever. Since these
reign forever it must refer to eternity and not the
reply to this argument it could be pointed out that Christ's, kingdom is not
limited to a thousand years.
He will reign forever. The millennia! kingdom
issues into the eternal kingdom so the saints may be said
to reign for a
thousand years although they will continue to reign on into eternity.
The existence of nations in eternity.
Newell, in defending the position that
this whole section describes eternity, writes at
length on the interpretation of "the nations" in Revelation 21:24-26. He states:
chapter 21:3, where we read that the tabernacle of God is at last with men,
we also read that "they shall be his peoples"
(Greek laoi). It is amazing to find discerning men apparently almost willfully
plural as if it were laos. . . . The Revised Version. . .
translates truly and plainly, ''They shall be his peoples."
and thus prepares
us to avoid the impossible assumption that 21:9 to 22:5 is a passage that reverts to millennial
know positively that at least one nation and one seed, ISRAEL, will belong
upon the new earth. . .
Isaiah 66: 22 . . . God says Israel's "seed and name"
shall remain in the heavens and earth, that is,
in that new order, beginning
in Revelation 21:1. . . .
Now, Israel is God's elect nation-elect not for the past, or even through the
millennial age, but forever.
Yet, if Israel be the elect nation, the existence
of other nations is presupposed!
But that national existence will not cease, is shown clearly by verse 20 [of
"At that time will I bring you (Israel)
in, and at that time will I gather you; for I will make you a name
praise among all the peoples (plural!) of the earth."
Finally, the language of the first 5 verses of chapter 22 of the Revelation,
and especially of verses 4 and 5
is just as eternal in its character as
anything at the beginning of chapter 21. "The throne of God and of the
shall be therein: and his servants shall serve him; and they shall see his
face; and his name shall be
on their foreheads. . . and they shall reign unto
the ages of the ages." Why should such statements be
connected with a passage
that is meant merely to go back and describe millennial conditions?
That would be incongruous. Furthermore, it is not in
keeping, we feel, for the Scripture to go back after
the last judgment has been held, and the new creation
has come in, to times before that last judgment and
this argument from the eternal existence of Israel as a nation and the
consequent continuance of other nations, Kelly writes:
. . In Isaiah lxv. a new heaven and a new earth were
announced: but how differently! There the language
must be taken in a very
qualified sense indeed. . . . it is said of the Lord, "He shall reign over the
Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." This is an
Old Testament hope, though said in
the New, and it means of course that He
shall reign over the house of Jacob as long as it exists as such
earth. When the earth disappears and Israel is no longer seen as a nation,
they will be blessed,
no doubt, in another and better way; but there will be
no reign of Christ over them as an earthly people
here below; so that this
kingdom, while it has no
end as long as the earth subsists, must necessarily be
limited by the earth's
continuance. . . . The New Testament uses the phrase fully and absolutely, as
unending state; but in the Old Testament it is tied
down to the earthly' relations of which the Holy Ghost
was then speaking.(16)
William B. Newell, The Book of the Revelation, pp. 343-45.
(16) Kelly, op. cit., pp. 463-64
Further support for Newell's position would be seen in Matthew 25:34 where
the saved Gentiles are to inherit a kingdom prepared for them from the
foundation of the world. Since they are said to inherit life
it must be eternal life. This would indicate that individuals will be saved
eternal life and yet will be distinct from Israel.
Such are the main arguments used by those who seek to support the view that
this passage represents eternal
ages rather than the millennial age. It has
been observed that strong men have presented strong arguments
which, in turn
have been refuted by equally Strong men who hold a different view. In the
light of this
presentation of argument and rebuttal is there any solution to
the problem? An examination of some of the
statements made concerning the
new Jerusalem may help us arrive at a solution.
Revelation 21:9 to 22:7 describes the eternal habitation of the resurrected
saints during the millennium.
1. The city is a literal city.
An important consideration at this point is whether the city described in Revelation 21 and 22
is a literal
or a mystical city. Scott is representative of those who hold the
city to be a mystical one when he writes:
beg the reader's careful attention to the distinction between the 'new
Jerusalem of the Apocalypse,
which is the glorified Church, and the heavenly Jerusalem spoken of by Paul
(Heb. 12:22). This latter,
unlike the former, does not refer to people, but is
the city of the living God, an actual city, the location of
all the heavenly
saints. It is the same that is referred to in the previous chapter, for which
patriarchs looked (Heb. 11:10-16), a material city, built and
prepared by God Himself, grand and vast
beyond all telling. The city of Paul
is a material one; the city of John is a
is to be observed that Scott offers no proof of his distinction, but merely
makes the affirmation. There is much evidence to show that this city of
Revelation 21 and 22 is a literal city, as well as that of Hebrews 12.
gives a summary of the arguments to prove that, this city is a literal city.
In the usage of the east when a king entered his capitol to rule therefrom, or
a prince ascended the
throne, it was represented under the figure of a
marriage, ie. he was wedded, intimately and permanently
united to the city,
or throne, or people. The use of the figure in the Scriptures shows that we
are not to
limit it unless specified to the church. . . . It designates the
permanent union of a people with the land, as in
Isa. 62 where the
Millennia! description the land is called "Beulah," that is ''married'' . . .
when the last
time does come. . . there is no impropriety but rather eminent
fitness that the union of the King of Kings
with His metropolitan city should
be designated under the same figure, implying the most intimate and
relationship. Thus the figure of marriage, which to many is the main objection
to the idea of a
literal city, serves rather to indicate it. 2. For, the
figure itself is explained in the description of the city in so
manner, and in such contrast to the use made of it formerly in reference to
Jerusalem, that it cannot possibly be applied to any other than a
literal city. It is expressly declared that
''the throne of God and the Lamb"
is in this city. This affirms its Theocratic position, as the capitol of the
Kingdom. . . . 3. The dwelling-place of God, the place where He tabernacled
among men always, in
former days (as in the tabernacle and temple) assumed a
material form. . . looking forward to the period
when a glorified
humanity, unity to the divine. . . should dwell with men. . . . That
was once a tent, then a temple, now is exhibited as a
city, but still designated ''the tabernacle of
God." . . .
4. In the portraiture of the city, the saints or inhabitants of it
and the righteous are represented as separate
and distinct from it. . . . 5.
The declaration (Rev. 21:22) that the city had no temple (such as the earthly
. . . can only be predicated of a material city. 6. The distinction between
the saints and the city
. . . is evidenced by a large class of passages
which speak of the ancient saints "looking for a city," of all
"seeking a continuing city," and of God ''having prepared for them a city." 7.
with another class of
passages which describe Jerusalem as putting on her beautiful garments. . .
herself a glorious city by reason of the number,
holiness and happiness of her citizens, etc. . . . Isa.
12 and Isa. 60:14-20 . . . 8. But that the saints are not denoted
and that the reference is to a :material
city, is found in the fact that the saints are
represented. . . when the marriage takes place as guests, the
called or invited. . . . They cannot be, in this case,
the guests and the Bride at the same time. . . . 9. Allow
this Theocratic ordering. . . in view of the
glorification, greatness, and majesty of this King,... a city
commensurate with the august Personage should be
Speaking of the literalness of this city, Grant writes:
Heb. xii. we have a still more definite testimony. For there the "Church of
the first-born ones which are
written in heaven," as well as "the spirits of
just men made perfect"-in other words, both Christians and
the saints of the
Old Testament-:-are mentioned as distinct from "the city of the living God,
Jerusalem"; and this will not allow them to be the same thing,
although, in another way, the identification
a city with. its inhabitants is easy. (19)
Newell adds the thought that it is literal
Because of the literalness of its description. If gold does not mean 'gold,
nor pearls-pearls, nor precious
stones-stones, nor exact measurements-real
dimensions, then the Bible gives nothing accurate or
Thus, there seems ample evidence to support the view that this
city is a literal city.
The inhabitants of the city.
Newell presents the thesis
that the new Jerusalem is "the eternal dwelling place, 'habitation,' of
God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit." (21) He writes:
Several considerations lead us toward the conclusion that the New Jerusalem
is God's one eternal
Immediately we see the new heaven and new earth and the New Jerusalem
descending to the new
earth (21:1, 2), we are told, "Behold, the tabernacle
of God is with men" . . . The object of the new
heaven and earth is to bring
about this-that God shall eternally have His home in this capital city of the
No other eternal habitation of God is seen than this of the New Creation's
capital. . . .
G. N. H. Peters, Theocratic Kingdom, m, 42-46.
(19) F. W. Grant, The Revelation
of Christ, p. 227.
(20) Newell, op. cit., p. 848.
This heavenly city has the glory of God (21:11, 23; 22:5).
4. It also has the throne of God, Slid that "service"
of 22: 3,
properly called priestly service,
or spiritual worship. . . .
5. They shall see his face. . . . This, therefore,
must be the
place of God's rest forever.
6. We need only to remember that the dwellers in the
Jerusalem "shall reign unto the ages of the
ages" (22:5). This could not be
written of others than the inhabitants of the capital of the new creation.
This city is not only the dwelling place of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
but is the dwelling place of the
bride, the Lamb's wife (Rev. 21:9) as well.
When the angel would reveal the glory aild blessedness of the
angel reveals the dwelling place of the bride, with which the bride is
identified. This heavenly city
is promised as the destiny of the church.
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem, and to an
innumerable company of angels, to the general
assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in
heaven, and to God
the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect [Heb. 12:22-23].
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he
shall go no more out: and I will
write upon him the name of my God, and the
name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which
cometh down out of
heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name [Rev. 3:12].
Without doubt this is the same place the Lord had in mind when he said:
In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were
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 [John 14:2-3].
For we have now no continuing city, but we seek one to
come [Heb. 13: 14].
The relation of the church to this city is further signified in that John
observes the name of the twelve Apostles
of the Lamb therein (Rev. 21: 14).
the inhabitants of the city are contemplated it is observed that Scripture
includes more than the church
among the inhabitants. A city is seen to be the
expectation of the Old Testament saints. Of Abraham it was
said: "He looked
for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:
In contrasting the earthly and heavenly Jerusalem in Galatians 4 Paul
states that whereas the Jew in bondage
longed for earthly Jerusalem, there is
held out through the promise a greater city or dwelling place 'in the
"But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all" (Gal. 4:
26). Old Testament
saints are pictured in the words, "Ye are come unto mount
Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. . . to the
spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12: 22-23) . It would appear then that
the author includes Dot only the church, but the redeemed of the Old Testament
as well as angels in the
company of the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem.
But since thus all saints of the olden time, be they prior to any distinction,
as Enoch; or Gentile, as Job;
or Jewish. as Abraham, may have their place in this
city, she must by no means be accounted as
characteristically Jewish. (23)
And although the term new Jerusalem is not strictly Jewish in concept, we find
that Israel has her part
in that city, for John (Rev. 21:12) sees the names of
the twelve tribes of Israel, indicating that the
redeemed of Israel have their
From this consideration, then, it may be stated that the city is to be inhabited by God, by the church, by the redeemed of Israel, and by the
redeemed of all ages, together with the unfallen angels. However, this city
seems to take her chief
characterization from the bride who dwells there.
(23) Jennings, op. cit., p. 566
Means of entrance into the city.
This whole question will be easier to solve
if it be noted that the church can enter into that place He has gone
prepare for us only by rapture and resurrection. After the judgment seat of
Christ and the marriage of the
Lamb the bride will be settled into her
permanent abode. Rapture and resurrection make entrance possible.
enter this place prepared for her only by resurrection. Since
the resurrection of Israel takes place
at the second advent, the saved of
Israel could not enter the city until after the rapture and resurrection of
the church and their own resurrection. Living Israel and living Gentiles on
the earth at the second advent do
not enter this city, but they enter the
millennia! reign of Christ. The saved Old Testament saints, who were
for this city with foundations, enter this city by resurrection. Thus all the
redeemed of the ages who
enter this city do so by resurrection. The city thus
becomes the abode of all the resurrected saints, who
enter it at the time of
The relation of this city to the millennial age.
When the church has been
joined in marriage to the Bridegroom and is installed in her prepared place
she will never be moved out of it again.
The church enters into her eternal
state at the rapture. When the Lord returns with His bride to reign,
dwelling place is not to be left unoccupied for a thousand years. Rather, the
place of occupancy is transferred from heaven to a position over the earth.
Thus John sees the "great city, the holy Jerusalem,
descending out of heaven
from God." This dwelling place remains in the air, to cast its light, which is
the shining of the effulgence of the Son, onto the earth so that "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 unto it" (Rev. 21:24).
At the second
advent, the time of the descent of the city into the air over the earth, the
church saints are
joined by the Old Testament saints, who are resurrected and
take up residence at that time.
Many writers see the city as the dwelling place of the church during the
millennial reign. Jennings says:
. . we go back a thousand years, even from the borders of eternity to consider
more carefully than we
have yet done the Bride, the Lamb's wife, and her
relation to the earth during the Millennium. (24)
Scott, in like vein, writes:
After a passing allusion to the millennial reign of
and His heavenly saints (chap. 20:.-8), we are
brought back from
the consideration of the eternal state to a lengthened description of the
Lamb's wife in her millennia! relation to Israel and to the world
at large. (25)
(24) Ibid., p. 565
(25) Scott, op. cit., p. 429
Thus, if we had the bride in relation to the Lamb in chapter xix. and as the
holy city, New Jerusalem, in
relation to the eternal state, verse 9 and the
following verses of this chapter shew us that, during, the
interval between the
marriage of the Lamb, and the new heaven and earth in the eternal state,
she has a
very blessed place in the eyes of God and man.. It is the church's
millennial display. (26)
All the account, from the 9th verse of ", chap. xxi. to verse 5, inclusively,
of chap. xxii., presents the
relation of the heavenly city to the earth during
the millennium. (27)
may thus be seen that even though the earth is not in its eternal state, and
though it is necessary for
the King to rule the earth with a rod of iron, and
though there will be a rebellion against the authority of the
against what light they will sin!), yet, as far as the church is concerned,
she, is in her eternal state,
enjoying her eternal fellowship, and the fruits
of her salvation. From that heavenly city she will reign with
Him, the one who
bears the title of King of kings and Lord of 1ords. It is not eternity, but
and the redeemed of the ages are in their eternal state. We believe
Kelly summarizes well:
Carefully bear this in mind, however, that if we look at the heavenly city itself, it is eternal. It will make
little difference to the
city whether seen in the millennium, or in the eternal state that succeeds.
two descents of the city in chap. xxi, one at the beginning of the
millennium, and the other at
commencement of the eternal state. The second verse of that chapter gives
us its descent when the eternal
state is come, and the tenth verse its descent
for the millennium. The reason, I think, is that at the end of
the old heaven and earth pass away; and naturally the city would disappear from
of the convulsion. Then, when the new earth dawns on
our view, the heavenly city again comes down,
and takes its place permanently in the new heavens and
earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. This is
necessary to remark; because, while at the end of
the thousand years all will be changed, still the
heavenly city will abide forever. [Italics mine.]
Kelly, op.cit., p. 462
(27) Ibid., p. 489
(28) Ibid., p. 488. Scott says, [the church is seen] "before the reign (chap.
after the reign (chap. 21:2), during the reign (chap 21:9)." op. cit., p. 420.
it be objected by some that resurrected Israel has no part with the church,
but is destined to be on the
earth and not in such an intimate relation to
Christ and the church, let us make several observations.
(1) The first
resurrection will include not only those in Christ (1 Thess. 4: 16), but
"those that are Christ's
(1 Cor. 15: 23). (2) The destiny of the saved
patriarchs, and the "just men made perfect" (Heb. 12: 23) is
said to be the
New Jerusalem, which can only be entered by resurrection. (3)
Old Testament saints are not
to be subjected to the discipline of the King.
(4) Old Testament saints are to reign in the millennium
(Rev. 20: 3) even as
the church (Rev. 3: 21) and they may reign from the heavenly city, inasmuch as
seen to be in relation to the earth and in the sphere of the earth, even
though not on the earth. There would
be no restriction on them to keep them
from coming and going at will
would thus be concluded that during the millennium the heavenly city will be
brought into a relation to the
earth, although not settled on the earth. The resurrected saints of an ages in that
city will be in their eternal
state and possessed of their eternal blessings,
even though such is not true of things down on the earth itself.
The relation of this city to eternity.
Note again the quotation from Kelly
above to the effect that as far as the city itself is concerned, or the status
of its occupants, there will be no change whatsoever when the Son surrenders
the kingdom to His Father
and eternity begins. The locale of the city may be
changed but the inhabitants will undergo no change whatsoever. The city may be
removed during the purgation of the earth (1 Pet. 3: 10) and will return and
take up its abode on the new earth (Rev. 21: 2) but there will be no change
within it whatsoever.
survey of the arguments on the question as to whether Revelation 21:9 to
22:5 belongs in the millennium
or in the
eternal state has revealed a wide divergence of opinion, supported by sound
arguments both for
and against both positions. The study has led to the
conclusion that the mistake lies in trying to establish an,
either-or proposition. A mediating view, that the eternal state of the resurrected
during the millennium is seen
in the passage, is suggested as a better view.
When the occupants of the city are described it must be seen
that they are in their eternal state, possessing their eternal inheritance, in eternal
relationship with God who
has tabernacled among them. There will be no change
in their position or relation whatsoever. When the
occupants of the earth are described they are seen in the millennial age. They have an established
relationship to the heavenly city which is above them, in whose light they
walk. Yet their position is not
eternal nor unchangeable, but rather
The Lord promised to prepare a place for His own. At the rapture arid
resurrection of the church the saints
of this age are, after judgment and
marriage, installed in that prepared place. They are joined by the saints of
the Qld Testament at the time of their resurrection at the second advent. This
dwelling place prepared for the
bride, in which the Old Testament saints find, their place as servant
(Rev. 22: 3), is moved down into the air
to remain over the land of Palestine during the millennium, during which
time the saints exercise their right to
reign. These saints are in their eternal state and the city enjoys its eternal glory. At the expiration of the
millennial age, during the renovation of the earth, the dwelling place is removed during the
to find its place after the recreation as the connecting link
between the new heavens and the new earth.
II. LIFE IN THE ETERNAL CITY
Nowhere does Scripture give details of the life in the eternal kingdom of God.
Occasionally the curtain is
drawn back to
give a slight glimpse of that life, of which our present experience, with Him
is only "a foretaste
of glory divine."
A life of fellowship with Him.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face
face [1 Cor. 13:12].
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall
be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall
see him as he is [1 John 3:2].
I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I
am, there ye may be also [John 14:3].
And they shall see his face [Rev. 22:4].
A life of rest.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead
which die in the Lord from
henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may
rest from their labours; and their works do follow them
[Rev. 14: 13].
A life of full knowledge.
. . . now I know in part: but then shall I know even as also I am
known [1 Cor. 13: 12].
A life of holiness.
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 [Rev. 21: 27].
A life of joy.
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 [Rev. 21:4].
A life of service.
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall
be in it; and his servants
shall serve him [Rev.22:3].
A life of abundance.
I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the
water of life freely [Rev. 21:6].
A life of glory.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us
a far more exceeding and eternal weight
of glory [2 Cor. 4:17].
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye
also appear with him in glory [Col. 3:4].
A life of worship.
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying
Alleluia; Salvation, and glory,
and honour, and power unto the Lord our God [Rev. 19:1].
After this I beheld, and, 10, a great multitude, which no man could number, of
all nations, and kindreds,
and people, and tongues, stood before the throne,
and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and
palms in their hands; And
cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the
throne, and unto the Lamb. . . " Blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power,
and might, be unto our God for ever and
ever. Amen [Rev. 7:9-12].
redeemed individual could ever fully understand the glory of the prospect set
John summarized the anticipated glory by saying, "we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him"
(1 John 3: 2). The glory of our
expectation is that we shall be transformed into His likeness, being sinless,
deathless, and experiencing the perfection of development.
He is the fountain -
The deep sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I've tasted,
More deep I'll drink above!
There, to an ocean fullness,
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.
There is the danger that the redeemed one will become so occupied with the
anticipation of his own
experience of glory that the supreme glorification of
the Godhead is lost. Our occupation in the eternal state
will not be with our
position or glory but with God, Himself. John writes: "We shall see Him as he
John 3:2). We shall be fully occupied with the One "that loved us, and washed
us from our sins in his own,
blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto
God and his Father" (Rev. 1: 5-6), ascribing "Blessing,
and honour, and glory,
and power, . . . and unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb
and 'ever" (Rev. 5:13), saying, "Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and
thanksgiving, and honour, and power,
and might, be unto our God for ever and
ever. Amen" (Rev. 7: 12),
for "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power, and riches, and
wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory and blessing" (Rev. 5: 12).
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom's face;
will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel's land.