AN EVALUATION OF REVELATION
21:9 THROUGH 22:7
After considering all the
viable theories that have been suggested among Christian scholars,
makes some conclusions
that I see as correct.
From page 579, THINGS TO COME, 1958.
would thus be concluded that during the millennium the heavenly
city will be
a relation to the earth,
although not settled on the earth.
The resurrected saints of all ages in that
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
position is not eternal nor unchangeable, but rather
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
church in relation to
Christ and others as referring to Israel in her relation
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
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.
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
the millennia! age, writes:
. . . it is the manner of God in this book to take a retrospect.
this to shew that I am not at all arguing for something without precedent. . . . Take for instance,
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
. . . But long after this in the prophecy, when the Spirit of God
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
these prophecies rarely go.
There are only two passages-and both of them
give but a brief glance at what lies beyond the
Millennia! reign of Christ. . . .
This is the general character of Old Testament prophecy, which
contemplate 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
continuation, either 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
chapters 17 and
18. But in revealing the events at the close of chapter 20,
be associated if it refers to the millennium, eternity
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
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 healing. (5)
And Kelly adds,
“. . . in eternity nations will not exist as such;
will any need
healing then.(6) Scott notes
the parallelism between this
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
The nations that are in existence at the close of the thousand
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
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 chapter it
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,
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
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
have their connection with the new earth,
but distinct from the Church and Israel. (10)
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.
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 honor.
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,
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
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
It is interesting to note the
observation of Kelly, who, although holding strongly
to the millennial
position, 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 Lovett, Larkin, Newell, Ottman and others is the
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 Jerusalem 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
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
over 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
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
over David's 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
descriptions 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
It has no temple (v. 22), and it is clearly
predicted in Ezekiel
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;
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
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
Christ will assume the
"throne of His glory"
the second advent and will certainly occupy that throne
The absence of the temple is not a deciding argument for
temple is in the earthly Jerusalem and there would be no
need of a
temple in the heavenly Jerusalem for the Lamb
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
to give light. The curse could refer to the lifting of the curse
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
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,
might dwell on the earth during
millennium in its light.
Such a line of argument could be used to show
are not necessarily confined
The length of the reign.
It is stated in Revelation 22:5 that the saints are
"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
a thousand years." A thousand years is not forever. Since these
reign forever it must refer to eternity
and not the millennium.
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
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"
It is amazing to find discerning men apparently almost willfully
translating the 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,
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,
in Revelation 21:1. . . .
Now, Israel is God's elect nation-elect not for the past, or even
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 Zeph. 3]:
"At that time will I bring you (Israel)
in, and at that time
will I gather you; for I will make you a name
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 Lamb
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
is meant merely to go back and describe millennial conditions?
That would be incongruous. Furthermore, it is not in
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 new creation.(15)
this argument from the eternal existence of Israel as a nation
consequent continuance of other nations, Kelly writes:
. . In Isaiah lxv. a new heaven and a new earth were
but how differently!
There the language must be taken in a very
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 upon the
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
as long as the earth subsists, must necessarily be limited
by the earth's
The New Testament uses the phrase fully and absolutely,
an unending state; but in the Old Testament it is tied
to the earthly' relations of which the Holy Ghost was then
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
the saved Gentiles
are to inherit a kingdom prepared
for them from the
foundation of the world.
Since they are said
to inherit life (Matt.. 25:46),
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.
been observed that strong men have presented strong
arguments which, in turn
have been refuted by equally Strong men
who hold a different view.
light of this presentation of argument and rebuttal is there any solution to
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
Jerusalem of the Apocalypse, which is the glorified Church,
and the heavenly Jerusalem spoken of by Paul
unlike the former, does not refer to people,
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. Peters
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 there from, 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
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 significant a
manner, and in such contrast to the use made of it formerly in reference to
the earthly 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
humanity, unity to the divine. . . should dwell with men. . . . That
dwelling-place which 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. . .
The declaration (Rev. 21:22) that the city had no temple
(such as the earthly Jerusalem)
. . . 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 believers
continuing city," and of God ''having
prepared for them a city."
This corresponds with another class of
passages which describe
Jerusalem as putting on her beautiful garments. . .
a glorious city by reason of the
holiness and happiness of
her citizens, etc. . . . Isa.
54:11, 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
-are mentioned as distinct from
"the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem"; and this will not allow them
to be the same thing,
although, in another way,
the identification of 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 reliable.(20)
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,
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 resting place.
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
about this-that God shall eternally have His home
in this capital city of the new creation!
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
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. (22)
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 and blessedness
of the bride, that
angel reveals the dwelling place of the bride, with which the bride is
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
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,
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
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
[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
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"
In contrasting the earthly and heavenly Jerusalem in Galatians 4
states that whereas the Jew in
bondage longed for earthly Jerusalem, there is
held out through the promise a greater city
dwelling place 'in the words,
"But Jerusalem which is above
is free, which is the mother of us all"
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. . .
spirits of just men made perfect"
(Heb. 12: 22-23) . It would appear then that the author includes
not 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
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 to
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
permanent abode. Rapture and resurrection
enter this place prepared for her only by resurrection.
the resurrection of Israel takes
place at the second advent,
the saved of
Israel could not enter the city until after the rapture
the church and their own resurrection.
Living Israel and living Gentiles on
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
The city thus
becomes the abode of all the resurrected saints,
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
This dwelling place remains in the air, to cast its light,
the shining of the effulgence of the Son,
onto the earth so that "the nations
of them which are saved
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
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
the consideration of the eternal state to a lengthened
description of the
bride, the Lamb's wife in her millennial
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 show 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,
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 King (and
against what light they will sin!),
yet, as far as the church is concerned,
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.
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.
There are two descents of the city in chap. xxi,
one at the beginning of the
and the other at
the 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
for the millennium.
The reason, I think, is that at the end of the millennium
the old heaven and earth pass away; and naturally the city
would disappear from
the scene of the convulsion.
Then, when the new earth dawns on
the heavenly city again comes down,
and takes its place permanently in the new heavens and
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
which can only be entered by resurrection.
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
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
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 all ages in that
city will be
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
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
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
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
Yet their position is not eternal nor unchangeable,
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 Old Testament
at the time of their resurrection at the second advent.
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,
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
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
a slight glimpse of that life, of which our present experience,
"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
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
a far more exceeding and
[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
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
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;
cried with a loud voice, saying,
Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the
and unto the Lamb. . . " Blessing and glory, and wisdom,
and thanksgiving, and honour,
and might, be unto our God for ever and
Amen [Rev. 7:9-12].
redeemed individual could ever fully understand the glory of the
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
anticipation of his
own experience of glory that the supreme
the Godhead is lost. Our occupation in the
state will not be with our
position or glory but with God, Himself.
"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),
and honour, and glory,
and power, . . . and unto him that sitteth upon the
and unto the Lamb
forever and 'ever" (Rev. 5:13),
saying, "Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and
honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and
(Rev. 7: 12),
for "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and
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.