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Bailey Sadler Class
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – 2015
Theme: Standing Strong On God’s Promises
What This Study Is About:
focus of this final session in our studies about standing strong on
God’s promises, we just will get a glimpse of that new home Jesus has
prepared for us.
God’s Promise of
God’s Promise of Eternal Life
God’s Promise of Provision
God’s Promise of Answered Prayer
God’s Promise of Victory
God’s Promise of a New Home
life in Christ means a life with Christ forever.
Our New Home Will Be In God’s Presence (Rev.
New Home Will Be Perfect (Rev. 21:4-5)
Is Based On Our Relationship With Christ (Rev. 21:6-8)
The Book of Revelation
details the consummation of world history, in which God judges all those
who reject His offer of salvation in Jesus Christ and oppose Him. Chapter
21 describes the time immediately after the Great White Throne Judgment,
after Satan and all of God’s enemies have been condemned to the lake of
fire (20:7-15). It details the coming of the new heaven and new earth, the
time of the fullness of God’s rule and reign.
The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; Nashville, TN.
of us has an idyllic life. We’re
pulled down by health issues, disappointing relationships, and problems in
a world full of sin and insecurity. Thankfully, this world is not all
there is. The closing chapters of the Book of Revelation show us God
provides a permanent home where He will dwell with those in His family. It
is a home with no health issues, insecurities, or sin. In Christ, we are
promised the perfect home with Him.
SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs
Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern
Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.
Our New Home Will Be
In God’s Presence (Rev. 21:1-3)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth,
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no
longer existed. 2 I also saw the Holy City, new
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride
adorned for her husband. 3 Then I heard a loud voice
from the throne: “Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will
live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.
What’s the most homesick you’ve ever been?
What is the significance of the creation of a
new heaven and a new earth and that the
first earth was passed away (v. 1)?
What was the thing John said would not be part of the
new order (v. 1)?
According to verse 1, why do you think a re-creation
is necessary (v. 1)?
What did John see coming down from God out of heaven (v. 2)?
Why a new Jerusalem?
Who will occupy the new Jerusalem?
What do you think John was telling us by referring to
the holy city as new
Jerusalem (v. 2)?
What does Isaiah 65:17-24 tell us about the this new
According to verse 3, what did the voice have to say?
does the voice saying that “God’s dwelling is with humanity” mean to you?
What does it say about God that He wants to live
do you think it will mean for believer’s relationship with God?
What’s your response to the promise of this
earth passing away?
What truths in these
verses strengthen you today?
Of all we can
understand or speculate about heaven, what is the most significant aspect of it
Our New Home Will Be
Perfect (Rev. 21:4-5)
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things have passed away.” 5 Then
the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.”
He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
does the word “perfect” mean to
you? (See Perfect/Perfection in Digging Deeper.)
other things did John identify that would not plague the inhabitants of the
heavenly city (v. 4)?
will those things not be there?
does verse 4 mean to you, personally?
does it mean that the Lord was seated on the throne (v. 5)?
declaration did the One seated on the throne make (v. 5)?
Do you think this declaration of everything new
can help us cope with the realities of aging?
If so, how?
to verse 5b, what mandate was given to John?
did the Lord give John the mandate to write these words (v. 5b)?
does the last part of verse 5 mean to you?
How can you encourage
someone who finds these promises “too good to be true?
What might make this
passage something beyond belief?
Do you think this
knowledge of heaven should have a major impact on a believer’s daily life?
Why, or why not?
Do you think the
biblical concept of perfection is hard for the average believer to grasp?
Why, or why not?
Lessons in Rev. 21:4-5:
will dry up the tears of His children in their new home.
tears will not return because God will also do away with the sources of
anguish that result in tears.
wants us to know what we can expect in our new home—so He has told us
It Is Based On Our
Relationship With Christ (Rev. 21:6-8)
6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha
and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to
the thirsty from the spring of life. 7 The victor will
inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. 8
But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral,
sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that
burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
said “It is done!” and what was
meant by it (v. 6)?
does the Lord identify Himself in verse 6?
is the significance of God’s being the Alpha
and the Omega (v. 6)?
does this phrase say about Him?
do you think this phrase should mean to us believers?
does the Lord promise as the blessing of the redeemed in verse 6?
a believer, what does this promised gift mean to you (v. 6)?
would you explain the significance of this “gift” to a non-believer (v. 6)?
is the “victor” mentioned in verse
What “things” are in store for this “victor”
as his/her inheritance (v. 7)?
What will be
the relationship between the “victor”
and God (v. 7)?
Based on verse
8, who will not receive the same inheritance as the “victor”?
What will be
the inheritance of those mentioned in verse 8?
Do you think it is important for us to believe &
share both verse 7 and verse 8 in our witness?
Why, or why not?
If the lake that burns with fire and sulfur is the second
death, what does the second death mean? (See Digging Deeper.)
Lessons in Rev. 21:4-5:
we do not yet see our final destination or state, we can know that “It
who choose against God face a real and unenviable second death.
John sought to describe the
indescribable, using the limitations of human language.
We do well to remember that the reality of heaven will be far
greater than what is described. For
example, we may be fascinated at the prospects of a heavenly city with
streets paved with gold and gates made of pearl.
Even so, the reality will be superior.
What will make heaven—well, “heavenly”—will be to dwell in
the presence of the Lord for all eternity, free from all those things that
threatened us in this life. We
will live eternally in the victory of faith in the Christ who Himself was
the Victor over sin, Satan, death, and the grave.
So, where do you stand when it comes to the “New heaven and the New
Earth”? Will you be spending
your future with the Lord, Jesus Christ in this new home?
Or will you be spending your future with Satan in Hell?
are the implications of this truth for your life?
THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!
You better choose wisely! Your
future depends on it!!!
REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the
center of God’s will.
Lesson Outline, Introduction,
Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.
Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:
King James Version:
1And 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. 2And I John saw the holy
city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride
adorned for her husband. 3And 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. 4And 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. 5And 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. 6And 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. 7He
that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be
my son. 8But 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.
New International Version:
1Then I saw a new heaven and
a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there
was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for
her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be
his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He
will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or
crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He
who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he
said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6He
said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the
End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of
the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and
I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the
unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice
magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake
of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (NIV)
New Living Translation:
1Then I saw a new heaven and
a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea
was also gone. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem,
coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her
husband. 3I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the
home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be
his people. God himself will be with them. 4He will remove all
of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.
For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” 5And the one
sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making all things new!” And then he
said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6And
he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning
and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life
without charge! 7All who are victorious will inherit all these
blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. 8But
cowards who turn away from me, and unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers,
and the immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all
liars—their doom is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the
Lesson Outline — “God’s Promise
of a New Home” — Revelation
Our New Home Will Be
In God’s Presence (Rev. 21:1-3)
Our New Home Will Be Perfect (Rev. 21:4-5)
It Is Based On Our Relationship With Christ
Commentary for the focal passage comes from three sources: “The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Old
“Believer's Bible Commentary,” and “The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament: Revelation 21:1-8
Vision of the New Heaven and the New Earth and the New
The New Jerusalem (21:1-27)
The seventh last thing is the vision of the new heavens, the
new earth, and the New Jerusalem. Moffatt’s striking remark, which captures
something of the freshness of this moment in the book, is worth remembering at
the outset of the exposition of this incredibly beautiful finale:
From the smoke and pain and heat [of the
preceding scenes] it is a relief to pass into the clear, clean atmosphere of the
eternal morning where the breath of heaven is sweet and the vast city of God
sparkles like a diamond in the radiance of his presence” (J.B. Moffatt, EGT, 5:477).
In NT passages, the vision of the heavenly city is described
as having the character of eschatological promise. The kingdom reality of the
age to come has already appeared in history in the life of Jesus and also in the
presence of the Holy Spirit in the church. But the reality is now present only
in a promissory way, not in actual fulfillment. Therefore, while the Jerusalem
that is from above has present implications for believers (Gal 4:25-31), they are nevertheless, like
Abraham, “looking forward to the city with foundations” (Heb 11:10; 13:14).
In this sense, the medieval synthesis that made the church on earth and the
kingdom synonymous and built its cathedrals to depict that notion was
misdirected. John’s vision in chapters 21-22
is one of eschatological promise, future in its realization, totally dependent
on God’s power to create it, yet having present implications for the life of
the church in this age.
Outlines of the chapters are necessarily arbitrary because of
the familiar Semitic style of doubling back and elaborating on previous
subjects. Perhaps 21:1-8 may be seen as a
preface or introduction to the vision of the New Jerusalem (21:9-22:6),
and this in turn may be seen as followed by the conclusion in 22:7-21.
new heavens and earth were foreseen by Isaiah (65:17) as a part of his
vision of the renewed Jerusalem. It is remarkable that John’s picture of the
final age to come focuses not on a platonic ideal heaven or distant paradise but
on the reality of a new earth and heaven. God originally created the earth and
heaven to be man’s permanent home. But sin and death entered the world and
transformed the earth into a place of rebellion and alienation; it became
enemy-occupied territory. But God has been working in salvation history to
effect a total reversal of this evil consequence and to liberate earth and
heaven from bondage to sin and corruption (Rom 8:21).
The first heaven and earth refers to the whole order of life in the world—an
order tainted by sin, death, suffering, and idolatry (cf. v. 4:
“the old order of things death, mourning, crying, pain—has passed away”).
John’s emphasis on heaven and earth is not primarily cosmological but moral
and spiritual. So Peter also speaks of the new heaven and earth, “the home of
righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
The Greek word for “new” (kaine) means new in
quality, fresh, rather than recent or new in time (neos) (TDNT, 3:447).
That it is a kaine heaven and earth and not a second heaven and
earth suggests something of an endless succession of new heavens and earth. It
is the newness of the endless eschatological ages (2:17; 3:12; 5:9;
cf. Eph 2:7). What makes the new heaven
and earth “new” is above all else the reality that now “the dwelling of
God is with men, ... They will be his people, and God himself will be with them
and be their God” (v. 3). The heaven and
earth are new because of the presence of a new community of people who are loyal
to God and the Lamb in contrast to the former earth in which a community of
The sea—the source of the satanic beast (13:1) and the place of the dead (20:13)
will be gone. Again, the emphasis is not geographic but moral and spiritual. The
sea serves as an archetype with connotations of evil (cf. comments at 13:1).
Therefore, no trace of evil in any form will be present in the new creation.
Holy City, the New Jerusalem, occupies John’s vision for the remainder of the
book. How different is this concept of heaven from that of Hinduism, for
example? Here heaven is depicted as a city, with life, activity, interest, and
people, as opposed to the Hindu ideal of heaven as a sea into which human life
returns like a raindrop to the ocean. First, John sees the city “coming down
out of heaven from God”-a phrase he uses three times (3:12; 21:2, 10)
in an apparent spatial reference. But the city never seems to come down; it is
always seen as a “descending—from-heaven kind of city.” Therefore, the
expression stresses the idea that the city is a gift of God, forever bearing the
marks of his creation.
Second, John calls the city a
“bride” (nymphe) (cf. 21:9; 22:17).
Earlier he referred to the bride of the Lamb (19:7-8)
by a different word (gyne), though the reality is the same. The multiple
imagery is needed to portray the tremendous reality of the city. A bride-city
captures something of God’s personal relationship to his people (the bride) as
well as something of their life in communion with him and one another (a city,
with its social connotations). The purity and devotedness of the bride are
reflected in her attire.
The subtitle of the Holy City, “the new Jerusalem,”
raises a question. The “old” Jerusalem was also called the “holy city”
and a “bride” (Isa 52:1; 61:10).
Since the Jerusalem from above is the “new” (kaine) Jerusalem, we may
suppose that it is connected in some manner with the old one so that the new is
the old one renewed. The old Jerusalem was marred by sin and disobedience. In it
was the blood of prophets and apostles. Still worse, it became a manifestation
of Babylon the Great when it crucified the Lord of glory (11:8).
The old city always involved more than the
mere inhabitants and their daily lives. Jerusalem represented the covenant
community of God’s people, the hope for the kingdom of God on earth. Thus the
OT looked forward to a renewed Jerusalem, rebuilt and transformed into a
glorious habitation of God and his people. But the prophets also saw something
else. They saw a new heaven and new earth and a Jerusalem connected with this
reality. Thus it is not altogether clear precisely what the relationship is
between the old and the new, the earthly, restored Jerusalem of the prophets and
the Jerusalem associated with the new heaven and earth, the Jerusalem called a
heavenly Jerusalem in later Jewish thought (cf. Gal
4:25-31; Heb 11:10; 12:22; 13:14).
The key to the puzzle must be understood with due respect for
the old city. Any exegesis, therefore, that completely rejects any connection
with the old city cannot take seriously the name “new” (kaine)
Jerusalem, which presupposes the old. To speak of the heavenly Jerusalem does
not deny an earthly city, as some suggest, but stresses its superiority to the
older Jewish hope and affirms the eschatological nature of that hope (TDNT,
5:540-41)—a hope that could not be fulfilled by the earthly Jerusalem, a hope
John now sees realized in the Holy City of the future. This city is the church
in its future glorified existence. It is the final realization of the kingdom of
God’s dwelling (skene) among his people (v. 3) is a fulfillment of Leviticus
26:11-13, a promise given to the old Jerusalem but
forfeited because of apostasy. As a backdrop for the scene, consider Genesis
3, when man lost his fellowship with God (cf. Exod
25:8; Ezek 37:26-27).
Thus the Holy Jerusalem is not only mankind’s eternal home but the city where
God will place his own name forever. God’s presence will blot out the things
of the former creation. In a touching metaphor of motherly love, John says that
God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (cf. 7:17;
cf. Isa 25:8). These tears have come from
sin’s distortion of God’s purposes for man. They are produced by death or
mourning for the dead, by crying or pain. An enemy has done this to the old
order. Now God has defeated the enemy and liberated his people and his creation.
for the second time in the book, God himself is the speaker (cf. 1:8). From his throne
comes the assurance that the one who created the first heaven and earth will
indeed make all things new (panta kaina). This is a strong confirmation
that God’s power will be revealed and his redemptive purposes fulfilled. Since
these words are in truth God’s words (cf. 19:9; 22:6),
it is of utmost importance that this vision of the new heaven and the New
Jerusalem be proclaimed to the churches.
the same word that declared the judgment of the world finished, God proclaims
that he has completed his new creation: “It is done” (gegonan; cf. 16:17). The names of God,
“the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” emphasize his absolute
control over the world as well as his creatorship of everything.
To those who thirst for him, God offers the water of life
without cost (cf. 7:17; 22:1, 17; John
7:37-39; Rom 3:24).
Here salvation is beautifully depicted by the image of drinking at the spring of
life. Twice in these last two chapters of Revelation, God offers an invitation
to those who sense their need and are drawn toward him. John knows that the
visions of God’s glory among his people, which he is proclaiming as the Word
of God, will create a thirst to participate in the reality of this glory.
Nothing is required except to come and drink.
Those who come and drink and remain
loyal to Christ as overcomers will
inherit all the new things of the city of God. They will be God’s children,
and he will be their Father. This is the essence of salvation—intimate,
personal relationship with God himself, age upon age unending (cf. John 17:3). For John this
is really what the heavenly city is all about.
Before John shows us the city, however, he must first
confront us with a choice. This choice must be made because there are two
cities: the city of God and the city of Babylon. Each has its inhabitants and
its destiny. Those who drink from salvation’s springs supplied by God himself
are true followers of Christ. The “cowardly” (deilos, “fearful”)
are those who fear persecution arising from faith in Christ. Not having
steadfast endurance, they are devoid of faith (Matt 8:26; Mark
4:40; cf. Matt 13:20-21).
Thus they are linked by John to the “unbelieving” and “vile” (a
participial form of the verb bdelyssomai, “detest,” “abhor,”
which is used of idolatry [Rom 2:22]). They are
called “murderers” because they are guilty of the death of the saints (17:6; 18:24).
The “sexually immoral” (fornicators), practitioners of “magic arts, the
idolaters and all liars” are those associated with idolatrous practices (cf. 9:21; 18:23; 21:27; 22:15;
contrast 14:5). By their own choice,
Babylon, not the New Jerusalem, is their eternal home (Caird). Thus this passage
is not a picture of universal salvation in spite of man’s recalcitrance,
though it contains a universal invitation for all who thirst to drink the water
In this section (21:9-22:5), the vision of the New Jerusalem
introduced in vv. 1-8 is fully described.
(For reasons why this section does not describe the millennial kingdom of ch. 20,
see comments at introduction to ch. 20.)
Verses 9-14 focus on the description of
the gates and the walls of the city. This is followed by the action of the angel
who measures the city and John’s precise mention of the precious stones in the
twelve foundations (vv. 15-21). Finally,
he describes various aspects of the life of the city (21:22-22:5).
SOURCE: The Expositor’s
Bible Commentary New Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General
Editor; Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers
Bible Commentary: Revelation 21:1-8
The New Heaven and the New Earth (21:1-22:5)
21:1. There is a question whether chapters 21 and 22
deal with the Eternal State alone or whether they alternate between the
Millennium and the Eternal State. Since the Millennium and eternity are similar
in many ways, it is not surprising if they seem to merge at times in the
writings of the Apostle John.
Here the Eternal State is called a new heaven
and a new earth. These are not to be confused with the new heaven and earth
described in Isaiah 65:17-25. There the Millennium is in view, because sin and
death are still present. These will be completely excluded from the Eternal
21:2 . John sees the holy
city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for
her husband. The fact that it is never said to land on the earth leads some
to see it as hovering over the new earth. The fact that the names of the tribes
of Israel are on the gates indicates that redeemed Israel will have access to
the city, even if they are not part of the church itself. The distinction
between the church (the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, v. 9), Israel (v. 12), and the
Gentile nations (v. 24) is maintained throughout.
hears an announcement from heaven that the tabernacle of God is with
men and that He will dwell with them. As His people they will
enjoy communion with Him closer than ever dreamed of. God Himself will be
with them and be their God in a nearer and dearer relationship.
21:4, 5. The
expression "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" does
not mean that there will be tears in heaven. It is a poetic way of saying that
there will not be! Neither will there be death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
For God's people, these will be forever ended.
The One who sits on the throne will make
all things new. His words are true and faithful, and will surely come
21:6. The ushering in of the Eternal State marks the
conclusion of God's purposes for the earth on which we live. As Alpha and
Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, so He is the
Beginning and the End, the Creator and the Object of creation, the One who
began and the One who finishes, the Eternal One. It is He who gives the water
of life (salvation) freely to whoever thirsts for it.
is He who blesses the over comer with total inheritance and a new intimacy as
between Father and son. As mentioned previously, an overcomer is one who
believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 Jn. 5:5). By faith he overcomes the
world (1 Jn. 5:4).
21:8. But not all are overcomers. Some are cowardly,
afraid to confess Christ; unbelieving, unwilling to trust the sinner's
Savior; sinners (NKJV marginal reading found in most mss.), all those who
remain in their sins, whether guilty of the gross iniquities listed here or not;
abominable, given over to disgusting immorality; murderers,
malicious and savage killers; sexually immoral, practicing fornication
and other forms of sexual sins; sorcerers, those who traffic with evil
spirits; idolaters, insulting God by worshiping images; and all liars,
compulsive deceivers. These will be assigned to the lake of fire as their
Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990,
1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.
Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Revelation 21:1-8
21:1. In this
vision John saw both a new heaven and a new earth, the first heaven and the
first earth having passed away (come to an end, disappeared). The word
"new" usually means brand-new, meaning marvelous and unheard of.
However, many take this as a mere renovation of the surface of the present
earth. Some even place it at the beginning of the Millennium as a regeneration
(referring to Matthew 19:28). The word "regeneration" is indeed used
both of spiritual rebirth (Titus 3:5) and also of the restitution or restoration
(Acts 3:21) which brings in the millennial kingdom. But what is described here
is clearly after the Millennium and after the Great White Throne Judgment.
Some point to passages such as Ecclesiastes 1:4 which speak of the earth
abiding forever. But this probably means there will always be an earth even
though the present earth may be replaced by a new one. The Psalmist declared
that the present creation will perish (be destroyed, vanish). It will grow old
like a garment, and God will change it the way we change clothes, that is, by
putting on a new, different set of clothes (Psalm 102:25, 26). God also
explained the same to Isaiah. God will make a new heaven and a new earth, and it
is this new heaven and earth that will remain (Isaiah 51:6; 66:22). Jesus also
said the present heaven and earth will pass away (Mark 13:31). So did Peter (2
Peter 3:10-12). Some believe the word "melt" (2 Peter 3:10) means
"be untied, loosed, broken up" and say this is merely a renovation of
the surface of the present earth. But 2 Peter 3:12 uses a different word for
"melt" which in this context must mean to be melted away. The
implication is that the total matter in the universe might be transformed into
heat energy—something science shows to be perfectly possible.
The new earth will be completely different. That is seen by the fact that
there will be no more sea. The ancients looked on the sea as being restless,
unstable, full of danger (Isaiah 57:20; James 1:6). But the Bible does not
always look on the sea as bad (Isaiah 11:9; 48:18; Habakkuk 2:14). Actually, the
oceans are necessary for the replacing of oxygen in the atmosphere of the
present earth (through multitudes of microscopic plant forms in the seas). The
lack of the seas thus suggests that the whole economy of the new earth will be
21:2. The New
Jerusalem is truly holy, set apart for God in a special sense. It already exists
in heaven (Galatians 4:26). It is the city that Abraham and all God's people
look for, and God himself is its architect and builder (Galatians 4:26;
Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:10, 13, 16). It is a prepared place for a prepared
tabernacle, the dwelling, of God from this point forward will be with men. In a
sense, heaven and earth will merge. That is, the New Jerusalem at the new earth
will become God's headquarters. No longer will believers be on earth with God's
throne and special manifestation of His presence in heaven. He will be with His
people forever (compare Leviticus 26:11, 12; Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 37:27;
Zechariah 14:9; Hebrews 8:2; 9:11).
heard the great voice from heaven continue with wonderful comfort and assurance.
God will wipe away all tears, every single tear from the believers' eyes. These
include the tears shed on earth while they were enduring suffering for the sake
of Christ and the gospel. The effects of sin will be forever removed. It will be
the final and ultimate consummation of all that was purchased by Christ's death
on the cross and guaranteed by His resurrection.
This means there will be no more death, for death is the wages of sin
(Romans 6:23). This victory is a great triumph, for the last enemy to be
destroyed is death (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:54). Since death involves separation,
there will be no more separation from God or from the other members of the body
of Christ. There will be no more sorrow (mourning) or crying, nor any pain
(distress, affliction, hardship, fruitless toil, suffering), for never again
will there be anything to cause sorrow, pain, grief, or guilt. In the New
Jerusalem there will be no sin, and nothing will ever again mar the joy and
fellowship believers will share with the Lord, for God will not allow it.
(Compare Isaiah 35:10 which seems to show a partial fulfillment of this in the
Millennium where "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion
with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and
gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away"; also 65:19.) Possibly
even the memory of those things will be gone, though undoubtedly the good things
God has done will be remembered (Isaiah 65:17).
The fact that the "former things are passed away" means that
all the evils which have beset mankind that have caused pain, heartache, sorrow,
and death will have been eliminated. No wonder heaven will be a place of supreme
believe the One sitting on the throne is the Lamb who is said to be in the midst
of the throne (5:6). Others believe it is the Father, who is described as
sitting on the throne in 4:2, 5:1, and quite clearly in 5:7. Both work together
in perfect harmony, of course. The Father is the Creator, but in the former
creation He made all things through Christ as the Living Word (John 1:3). Both
will work together in this new creation.
The speaker emphasizes how new the new heavens and the new earth are. He
makes all things new. The word "make" is a word used often of God's
creative acts (cf. Matthew 19:4). It speaks here of a new, recent creation.
This, of course, does not include the outer darkness of the lake of fire
prepared for the devil and his angels. That will continue on forever outside the
whole new creation. But within the new creation all things will undoubtedly
continue to be "new," for there will be no more death or decay
(compare Romans 8:21, 22; Isaiah 25:8; see also 1 Corinthians 15:54 which states
that death is swallowed up in victory).
The One on the throne commanded John again to write. These things are not
the product of human reason or human imagination. They are divine revelation.
God himself bears witness that they are "true and faithful," and
therefore all He says will be brought to pass. The promises of the new creation
are not to be spiritualized away. The new heavens and the new earth as well as
the New Jerusalem will be real.
said on the cross, "It is finished." Now God says, "It is
done." All that was revealed to John is as good as done because God has
said it. God will be present to accomplish all these things because He is
eternal. He declares himself to be the Alpha and Omega, the first and last
letters of the Greek alphabet. They are combined here to indicate completeness.
The phrase "Alpha and Omega" also indicates that God (the
entire Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is without beginning and without
end. Christ was before all things, and by Him all things consist or hold
together (Colossians 1:17).
Yet He is the beginning and the end. He was before all things and is the
One who began all things. He is the source of all that is good. He is also the
end in the sense of the goal and as the One who brings about the consummation of
all things prophesied.
who overcome will inherit everything. In the letters to the seven churches Jesus
promised the overcomers' inheritance will include eating of the tree of life in
the paradise of God; not being hurt by the second death; eating of hidden manna;
a white stone with a new name written on it; power over the nations; white
raiment; one's name confessed before God the Father and His angels; being made a
pillar in the temple of God with the name of God and the city and Christ's new
name written on him; and the privilege of sitting with Jesus on His throne.
This is assured to believers because they are
children of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16, 17).
Since Christ is the heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2; Psalm 2:8), believers as
joint-heirs will also inherit all things. (See also 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10.)
The promise "I will be his God, and he shall be my son" will be
the final climax and fulfillment of the promise that was first given to Israel,
to the line of David, and then to the Church. (See Genesis 17:7; Exodus 19:5, 6;
2 Samuel 7:14; 2 Corinthians 6:16, 18; Galatians 3:29; 1 Peter 2:9, 10.)
contrast to the overcomers who will share the blessings of life in the eternal
state, a list is given of those who will have their part in the lake of fire,
that is, the second death. First on the list is the "fearful," the
cowardly, those who are timid because of lack of faith. This will include those
who have let the disapproval or threats of any person or of society cause them
to turn away from Christ and the hope of glory. They have been more concerned
about personal safety than loyalty to Christ. They have been quick to compromise
with the truth. They are not overcomers. They are losers, not winners. (See Mark
8:35; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:12, 13.)
Second are the "unbelieving" who treat the
gospel and the promises as something incredible. These will include the ones who
have never believed, those who have rejected the truth of the gospel, and former
believers who have fallen back into the practice of the lusts of the flesh, for
those who make such things part of their lifestyle cannot inherit the kingdom of
God (Galatians 5:19-21).
Third are the "abominable," those who are detestable to God and
arouse His wrath. Both the Old and New Testaments show that to profess a faith
in God and continue to practice evil or anything idolatrous is an abomination in
the sight of the Lord. (In the Old Testament this word is often used of
idolatry, but here it is more general.)
Fourth are "murderers" who have deliberately, willfully taken
human life. Fifth are "whoremongers," including those who practice any
kind of sexual impurity or sexual immorality. Sixth are "sorcerers"
who use poisons, drugs, and magic potions. Seventh are "idolaters" who
put something else in the place of God. Eighth are "all liars,"
especially including all false persons, such as false prophets, false apostles,
and false teachers (2 Peter 2:1).
All of these eight classes of people will have their part outside the
eternal kingdom of God. Some religions, cults, churches, or denominations say a
person can be immoral, adulterous, homosexual, or practice any of the lusts of
the flesh and still be a true child of God. They suppose a loving God would not
send anyone to hell. They are going against the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 6:9,
10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5-7).
Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Revelation. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World
Library Press, Inc.
The Alpha and the Omega (v. 6)—The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Symbolically they refer
to God (and Jesus) being the beginning and the end, a description of His eternal
nature and sovereignty, as well as His total and complete preeminence.
The lake that burns with fire and sulfur (v. 8)—This phrase refers to
hell, God’s final place of punishment for the unsaved and the fallen angels.
The second death (v. 8)—This term is synonymous with an eternity in
hell after judgment. It is a “death” in that it is a separation from God,
and is called the “second” death because it follows physical death.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
DEATH, SECOND: Final separation from God;
spiritual death following physical death. Revelation describes the second death
with the images of the lake of fire (20:14) and a lake burning with fire and
sulphur (21:8). The second death has no power over those who remain faithful in
persecution (2:11), who are martyred (20:6), or for those whose names are
written in the book of life (20:15). Some stress everlasting punishment in
literal fire. Others stress the spiritual state of separation from God. Still
others interpret the second death in terms of anihilation on the basis of
comparison with Matthew 10:28. The alternative is eternal life with God.
SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General
Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville,
and Omega: Alpha and Omega
are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and are used in Revelation
to describe God or Christ (Rev. 1:8,17; 21:6; 22:13.) “Alpha and omega”
refers to God’s sovereignty and eternal nature. God and Christ are “the
beginning and the end, the first and last.” (Rev. 22:13). Thus they control
all history and all humans of all generations.
SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General
Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville,
OF FIRE (λίμνη τοῦ πυρός,
límnē toú purós):
Found in Rev. 19:20; Rev. 20:10, 14(bis); Rev. 20:15. Rev. 21:8 has "the
lake that burneth with fire and brimstone." The brimstone in connection
with "the lake of fire" occurs also in Rev. 19:20 and 10, the latter
being a backward reference to the former passage. In Rev. 20:14 the words,
"This is the second death, even the lake of fire" are either a gloss
originally intended to elucidate Rev. 20:15 through a reference to Rev. 20:6,
or, if part of the text, formed originally the close of Rev. 20:15, whence they
became displaced on account of the identity of the words once immediately
preceding them in Rev. 20:15 with the words now preceding them in Rev. 20:14.
The "lake of fire" can be called "the second death" only
with reference to the lost among men (Rev. 20:15), not with reference to death
and Hades (Rev. 20:14). In all the above references "the lake of fire"
appears as a place of punishment, of perpetual torment, not of annihilation
(Rev. 20:10). The beast (Rev. 19:20); the pseudo-prophet (Rev. 19:20; Rev.
20:10); the devil (Rev. 20:10); the wicked of varying description (Rev. 20:15;
Rev. 21:8), are cast into it. When the same is affirmed of death and Hades (Rev.
20:14), it is doubtful whether this is meant as a mere figure for the cessation
of these two evils personified, or has a more realistic background in the
existence of two demon-powers so named (compare Isaiah 25:8; 1 Cor. 15:26, 54ff;
2 Esdras 7:31). The Scriptural source for the conception of "the lake of
fire" lies in Genesis 19:24, where already the fire and the brimstone occur
together, while the locality of the catastrophe described is the neighborhood of
the Dead Sea. The association of the Dead Sea with this fearful judgment of God,
together with the desolate appearance of the place, rendered it a striking
figure for the scene of eschatological retribution. The two other Old Testament
passages which have "fire and brimstone" (Psalm 11:6; Ezekiel 38:22)
are dependent on the Genesis passage, with which they have the figure of
"raining" in common. In Rev. 21:8, "their part" seems to
allude to Psalm 11:6, "the portion of their cup." In Enoch 67:4ff the
Dead Sea appears as the place of punishment for evil spirits. Of late it has
been proposed to derive "the lake of fire" from "the stream of
fire" which destroys the enemies of Ahura in the Zoroastrian eschatology;
so Bousset, Die Offenbarung Johannis, 1906, 433, 434. But the figures of a
stream and a lake are different; compare 2 Esdras 13:9-11, where a stream of
fire proceeds from the mouth of the Messiah for the destruction of His enemies.
Besides, the Persian fire is, in part, a fire of purification, and not of
destruction only (Bousset, 442), and even in the apocalyptic Book of Enoch, the
fires of purification and of punishment are not confounded (compare Enoch 67:4
with 90:20). The Old Testament fully explains the entire conception.
Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor; Parsons
Technology, Inc.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Reaching an ideal state of
spiritual wholeness or completeness. It is not a quality which is achieved by
human effort alone, nor is it an end in itself. Christian perfection consists
essentially in exercising the divine gift of love (Col. 3:14 NIV), for God, and
for other people (Matt. 22:37-39). The basis of perfection lies in God Himself,
whose law (Jas. 1:25), works (Deut. 32:4), and way (Ps. 18:30) are perfect. God
is free from incompleteness; He can, therefore, demand from believers, and
enable them to receive, completeness (Matt. 5:48).
a covenant relationship with His people, and by grace, God thus offers to His
people the possibility of perfection. In the Old Testament being
“perfect” is ascribed to individuals, such as Noah (Gen. 6:9) and Job (1:1),
in response to their wholehearted obedience. In other contexts, corporate
perfection and being “upright” belong together (Ps. 37:37; Prov. 2:21). In
the New Testament, God’s relationship with His people is itself fulfilled, as
the old covenant is replaced, and through Christ believers can be perfected for
ever (Heb. 10:14). Christians are, however, to grow from spiritual infancy to
maturity so as to share the full stature of Christ, in whose image they may
become renewed and perfected (Col. 3:10).
tension exists here. Because on earth sin remains a possibility for all,
believers (1 John 1:8), need to become perfect even while attaining a relative
perfection (Mic. 6:6-8; Phil. 3:16,12-14). For that reason, perfection is not
equated in the Bible with sinlessness (but see 1 John 3:6,9 NIV). The New
Testament also stops short of deification (becoming God) as an option for
believers, even if it allows for their perfect relationship with God (2 Pet.
1:4). The divine gift of perfection will be fully realized only in eternity
(Phil. 3:10-14; 1 John 3:2). It is a goal to be sought (2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 6:1)
which, like the complete vision of God, cannot be found this side of heaven
(Eph. 4:13; Jas. 3:2).
then, may even this limited perfection be achieved? The New Testament locates
the means of perfection in Christ. Through His suffering and exaltation, God
made Jesus perfect (Heb. 2:10) and fitted Him to win for the church and the
individual believer a completeness which echoes His own (Col. 1:28; Heb. 5:9).
So we and all the saints of God can be saved, and through the Spirit be given
access to God and the daily help we need (Heb. 7:25; 4:14-16).
SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General
Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville,
HEAVEN: The part
of God’s creation above the earth and the waters including “air” and
“space” and serving as home for God and His heavenly creatures. The Hebrew
word shamayim is plural in form and was easily related by the common
people to the word mayim, “waters.” Biblical writers joined their
contemporaries in describing the universe as it appeared to the human eye:
heavens above, earth beneath, and waters around and beneath the earth. Heaven
could be described as a partition God made to separate the rain-producing
heavenly waters from the rivers, seas, and oceans below (Gen. 1:6-8). The
heavenly lights—sun, moon, and stars—were installed into this partition
(Gen. 1:14-18). This partition has windows or sluice gates with which God sends
rain to irrigate or water the earth (Gen. 7:11). This heavenly partition God
“stretched out” (Isa. 42:5; 44:24; Ps. 136:6; compare Ezek. 1:22-26; 10:1).
The clouds serve a similar rain-producing function, so that KJV often translates
the Hebrew word for “clouds” as “sky” (Deut. 33:26; Ps. 57:10; Isa.
45:8; Jer. 51:9; compare Ps. 36:6; 108:4).
Only God has the wisdom to “stretch out” the heaven” (Jer. 51:15).
“Heaven” thus becomes the curtain of God’s tent, separating His dwelling
place from that of humanity on earth (Ps. 104:2; Isa. 40:22). Like a human
dwelling, heaven can be described as resting on supporting pillars (Job 26:11)
or on building foundations (2 Sam. 22:8; though the parallel in Ps. 18:7 applies
the foundations to mountains). Just as He built the partition, so God can
“rend” it or tear it apart (Isa. 64:1). Thus it does not seal God off from
His creation and His people. English translations use “firmament” (KJV),
“expanse” (NAS, NIV), “dome” (TEV, NRSV), or “vault” (REB) to
translate the special Hebrew word describing what God created and named
“Heaven” (Gen. 1:8).
Hebrew does not employ a term for “air” or “space” between heaven
and earth. This is all part of heaven. Thus the Bible speaks of “birds of the
heavens,” though English translations often use “air” or “sky” (Deut.
4:17; Jer. 8:7; Lam. 4:19). Even Absalom hanging by his hair from a tree limb
was “between heaven and earth” (2 Sam. 18:9; compare 1 Chron. 21:16; Ezek.
8:3). The heaven is the source for rain (Deut. 11:11; Ps. 148:4), dew (Gen.
27:28), frost (Job 38:29), snow (Isa. 55:10), fiery lightning (Gen. 19:24), dust
(Deut. 28:24), and hail (Josh. 10:11). This is the language of human observation
and description, but it is more. It is the language of faith describing God in
action in and for His world (Jer. 14:22). Heaven is God’s treasure chest,
storing treasures such as the rain (Deut. 28:12), wind and lightning (Jer.
10:13), and snow and hail (Job 38:22). The miraculous manna came from God’s
heavenly storehouses for Israel in the wilderness (Ex. 16:11-15).
Heaven and earth thus comprehend the entire universe
and all its constituents (Jer. 23:24), but God fills all these and more so that
no one can hide from Him (compare 1 Kings 8:27-30; Isa. 66:1). Yet this One also
lives in the humble, contrite heart (Isa. 57:15).
As God’s dwelling place, heaven is not a divine haven where God can
isolate Himself from earth. It is the divine workplace, where He sends blessings
to His people (Deut. 26:15; Isa. 63:15) and punishment on His enemies (Ps. 2:4;
11:4-7). Heaven is a channel of communication between God and humans (Gen.
28:12; 2 Sam. 22:10; Neh. 9:13; Ps. 144:5).
As God’s creation, the heavens praise Him and display His glory and His
creativity (Ps. 19:1; 69:34) and righteousness (Ps. 50:6). Still, heaven remains
a part of the created order. Unlike neighboring nations, Israel knew that heaven
and the heavenly bodies were not gods and did not deserve worship (Ex. 20:4). It
belonged to God (Deut. 10:14). Heaven stands as a symbol of power and
unchanging, enduring existence (Ps. 89:29), but heaven is not eternal. The days
come when heaven is no more (Job 14:12; Isa. 51:6). As God once spread out the
heavenly tent, so He will wrap up the heavens like a scroll (Isa. 34:4). A new
heaven and new earth will appear (Isa. 65:17; 66:22).
The Old Testament speaks of heaven to show the sovereignty of the Creator
God and yet of the divine desire to communicate with and provide for the human
creature. It holds out the tantalizing examples of men who left earth and were
taken up to heaven (Gen. 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11).
New Testament: In the
New Testament, the primary Greek word translated “heaven” describes heaven
as being above the earth, although no New Testament passage gives complete
instructions regarding the location or geography of heaven. Other than Paul’s
reference to the three heavens (2 Cor. 12:2-4), the New Testament writers spoke
of only one heaven.
The New Testament affirms that God created heaven (Acts 4:24), that
heaven and earth stand under God’s lordship (Matt. 11:25), and that heaven is
the dwelling place of God (Matt. 6:9).
Jesus preached that the kingdom of heaven/God had dawned through His
presence and ministry (Mark 1:15). By using the image of a messianic banquet,
Jesus spoke of heavenly life as a time of joy, celebration, and fellowship with
God (Matt. 26:29). Jesus taught that there would be no marrying or giving in
marriage in heaven (Luke 20:34-36).
Christians should rejoice because their names are written in heaven (Luke
10:20). Jesus promised a heavenly home for His followers (John 14:2-3).
According to Paul, Christ is seated in heaven at the right hand of God
(Eph. 1:20). Paul believed heaven is the future home of believers (2 Cor.
5:1-2). Paul referred to the hope of heaven as the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
The Holy Spirit is the pledge of the believer’s participation in heaven (2 Cor.
5:5). Peter affirmed that heaven is the place where the believer’s inheritance
is kept with care until the revelation of the Messiah (1 Pet. 1:4).
The word “heaven” occurs more frequently in Revelation than in any
other New Testament book. The Revelation addresses heaven from the standpoints
of the struggle between good and evil and of God’s rule from heaven. The most
popular passage dealing with heaven is Revelation 21:1 to 22:5. In this passage,
heaven is portrayed in three different images: (1) the tabernacle (21:1-8), (2)
the city (21:9-27), and (3) the garden (22:1-5). The image of the tabernacle
portrays heavenly life as perfect fellowship with God. The symbolism of the city
portrays heavenly life as perfect protection. The image of the garden shows
heavenly life as perfect provision.
OF HEAVENS: KJV
designation rendered “highest heaven” by most modern translations (1 Kings
8:27; 2 Chron. 2:6; 6:18). According to an ancient understanding of the
universe, above the canopy of the sky was a further canopy above which God
dwelt. TEV understands “heavens of heavens” as “all (the vastness) of
CITY, THE: The
fulfillment of the hopes of God’s people for final salvation. To the ancient
world cities represented ordered life, security from enemies, and material
prosperity. Hebrews says the city
“has foundations;” its “architect and builder is God” (11:10 NAS); God
has prepared it (11:16); and it is “the city of the living God, the heavenly
Jerusalem” (12:22). This city is the home to “an innumerable company of
angels” (12:22), to the assembly of the firstborn (12:23; an image of
believers redeemed by the death of Christ; compare Ex. 13:13-15), and to the
righteous made perfect by God (12:23; perhaps the Old Testament saints). Some
interpreters take these descriptions literally. The Christian goal is, however,
not something that can be touched and sensed like Israel’s Sinai experience
(12:18). Indeed, believers have already come (12:22) to the heavenly Jerusalem,
at least in part. Some interpreters thus take the Heavenly City as an image of
the redeemed people of God whose “foundation” is the apostles and prophets
(Eph. 2:20). The experience of the patriarchs whose hope lay beyond their
earthly lives (Heb 11:13-16) points to a final fulfillment of salvation in
Heavenly City of Revelation 21:9-22:7 has also been interpreted both literally
and figuratively. One interpretation sees the Heavenly City suspended above the
earth like a space platform. Others see an earthly city. Still others a city
suspended in the air that later descends to earth. Others, pointing to the
equation of the city as the bride of Christ (21:2,9), take the city as a symbol
of the church. Whether understood as a literal city or as representing God’s
redeemed people experiencing their final salvation, the city is a place of
fellowship with God (21:3,22), of God-ensured safety (21:4,25), and of God-given
technical, eschatological term referring to the final perfected state of the
created universe. It often is connected with the concept of a new earth.
promise of a re-creation of the heavens and earth arose because of human sin and
God’s subsequent curse (Gen. 3:17). The biblical hope for mankind is tied to
the conviction that persons cannot be completely set free from the power of sin
apart from the redemption of the created order—earth as well as the heavens.
The idea of a renewed universe is found in many passages of the Bible (Isa.
51:16; Matt. 19:28; 24:29-31; 26:29; Mark 13:24-27,31; Acts 3:20-21; Rom.
8:19-23; 2 Cor. 5:17; Heb. 12:26-28; 2 Pet. 3:10-13). However, the phrase “new
heavens” is found in only four passages (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev.
nature of the “new heavens and earth” is variously described in the Bible.
First, God is the cause of this new creation (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 21:22). In
Hebrews 12:28 the new heaven and earth are described as a “kingdom which
cannot be moved.” This new heaven and earth will last forever (Isa. 66:22). In
2 Peter 3:13 the new world is described as one “in which righteousness
Revelation, the nature of the new heaven and earth stands in marked contrast to
the old heaven and earth. The Greek word translated “new” designates
something which already exists, but now appears in a new way. The new world is
the old world gloriously transformed. Purity (Rev. 21:27) and freedom from the
wrath of God (Rev. 22:3) are marks of the new heaven and earth. Further, the new
world is marked by perfect fellowship of the saints with one another and with
God. God and His people dwell together in the new age (21:1,3).
God will bring the new order into existence at the end of history. But, scholars
disagree as to when this will occur within the events associated with the end
times. Two main views are held. First, the new heavens and earth are created
immediately after the second coming of Christ. Even among those within this camp
there is disagreement. Some believe that the creation of the new heavens and
earth will occur immediately after the “great white throne” judgment.
Amillennialists generally hold to this theory. Some premillennialists associate
the creation of the new heavens and earth with the beginning of the thousand
year millennial reign of Christ. A second viewpoint commonly held by many
premillennialists is that the new heaven and new earth are created at the end of
the millennial reign of Christ.
Hierousalém kainé): This name occurs in Rev. 21:2 (Rev.
21:10, "holy city"). The conception is based on prophecies which
predict a glorious future to Jerusalem after the judgment (Isaiah 52:1). In
Revelation, however, it is not descriptive of any actual locality on earth, but
allegorically depicts the final state of the church ("the bride,"
"the wife of the Lamb," Rev. 21:2, 9), when the new heaven and the new
earth shall have come into being. The picture is drawn from a twofold point of
view: the new Jerusalem is a restoration of Paradise (Rev. 21:6; Rev. 22:1-2,
14); it is also the ideal of theocracy realized (Rev. 21:3, 12, 14, 22). The
latter viewpoint explains the peculiar representation that the city descends
"out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:2, 10), which characterizes it as,
on the one hand, a product of God's supernatural workmanship, and as, on the
other hand, the culmination of the historic process of redemption. In other New
Testament passages, where theocratic point of view is less prominent, the
antitypical Jerusalem appears as having its seat in heaven instead of, as here,
coming down from heaven to earth (compare Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James
Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor; Parsons Technology, Inc.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
New Heaven And A New Earth
Lynn O. Traylor
O. Traylor is pastor, Buckner Baptist Church, LaGrange, Kentucky.
THE SCRIPTURES, God is proclaimed
as praised as the One who creates (Gen. 1:1) and gives purpose to all creation
(Rev. 4:11). The creative character and purposes of God find ultimate biblical
expression in John’s vision recorded in Revelation 21, where he sees “a new
heaven and a new earth: (v. 1).1 How would John’s readers have
understood his words? What would
they have thought about a new heaven and a new earth?
What significance does John’s vision of a new heaven and a new earth
have for us today?
the meaning of John’s vision has been and continues to be intensely debated
and discussed among believers, giving rise to various approaches to reading and
interpreting John’s final book. Named
“Revelation” because the book presents an “unveiling” (Greek, apokalupsis,
from which the word “apocalyptic” is derived) “of Jesus Christ” (1:1),
Revelation is among other apocalyptic writings in Scripture (such as Ezekiel,
Zechariah, and Daniel), characterized by a cryptic writing style and prophetic
tone.2 Ironically, often forgotten in the debate over how to read
Revelation is the fact that John wrote “to show the servants of Christ things
which must soon come to pass” (Rev. 1:1, writer’s translation).
Clearly, John believed his readers would understand the images in his
vision.3 This makes sense only if John and his readers shared a
common understanding of those images. Thus
a key question is what connections did John make with his readers when speaking
of a new heaven and a new earth.
new heaven and new earth phrase was not original with John.
The phrase first appears in Isaiah 65:17, as the prophet received a
divine word of encouragement to share with Israel following their release from
Babylonian captivity. Whatever
struggles they faced, either in captivity or in their return to Judah, Isaiah
proclaimed a future hope rooted in what God was doing: “For the former
troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my sight.
For I will create a new heaven and a new earth; the past events will not
be remembered or come to mind. Then
be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I will create Jerusalem
to be a joy, and its people to be a delight” (Isa. 65:16b-18).
A similar note is in Isaiah 66 where, following God’s judgment on His
“enemies” (v. 14), those who worship the Lord will gather from “all
nations and languages” (v. 18) at the “holy mountain Jerusalem” as “a
gift to the Lord” (v. 20). God
then promised: “’For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will
make, will endure before Me’—the Lord’s declaration—‘so will your
offspring and your name endure’” (66:22).
The people of God, gathered from all nations, are themselves a “gift”
presented to God at Jerusalem. Both
passages link a proclamation of God’s glory and majesty to a creative work of
God (“new earth”), with Jerusalem serving as the centerpiece of a restored
relationship between God and humanity. The
wording of Isaiah 65:17-18 supports this link as God’s creative work (a new
heaven and a new earth) and finds tangible expression in God’s intention to
“create Jerusalem to be a joy, and its people to be a delight” (v.18b).4
In short, the phrase new heaven(s) and a new earth portrays a time when God’s
people, delivered from bondage, enjoy a renewed, intimate relationship with God
as was intended in the exodus from Egypt.5 For John’s readers, no
doubt familiar with the exodus and Isaiah’s writings, references to the new
heaven(s) and new earth would bring to mind a redemption scene rich in
fulfillment of such themes as the covenant and the return from exile.6
The only other time the new heaven(s) and new earth phrase
occurs in Scripture is in 2 Peter, where the apostle encouraged continued
faithfulness to Christ: “But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and
a new earth” (2 Pet. 3:13). Like
the passage in Isaiah, Peter anticipated a time when “righteousness will
dwell” (v. 13) following God’s judgment of the “immoral” (v. 17).
Although Peter did not claim to “see” the new heaven(s) and new earth
as did John, he was familiar enough with the idea to claim the promise as
motivation for his readers to continue living “in holy conduct and
godliness” (v. 11). This emphasis
on righteousness and judgment is very much in line with Isaiah’s prophetic
character as God “show(s) His wrath against His enemies” (Isa. 66:14) and
reflects an emphasis shared by Jewish and Christian apocalyptic writings on a
might it be like to experience the new heaven and new earth?
John told his readers that when he saw a new heaven and earth, “the
first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no
longer” (Rev. 21:1). Does this
mean God is removing or destroying the earth and making a totally new creation,
including heaven? A literal reading
of this verse, along with the words of 2 Peter 3:10, seems to support this view.
However, in keeping with the context of Isaiah 65:17, the emphasis is not
on God creating again, but the restoration of God’s righteousness and glory
throughout creation, with all that opposes God having been defeated.8
Rather than making “all new things” and announcing a “second heaven and
earth,” God declared: “Look! I am making everything new” (Rev. 21:5).9
Instead of a destruction of the earth, a divine “renewal” of creation calls
for God’s people to exercise more than just a consumer mentality when using
the earth’s resources, since we are stewards of a world that joins us as
believers in an eagerly anticipated deliverance.10 As Paul wrote:
“For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be
revealed. For the creation was
subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in
the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of
corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Rom. 8:19-21).
In reminding believers of God’s ultimate triumph over sin, John’s
vision continues to encourage believers, while challenging the people of God to
exercise faithful stewardship as we await His redemption.
otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in this article are from the Holman
Christian Standard Bible.
T. Robertson, The General Epistles and the Revelation of John, vol. 6 in Word
Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933), 270.
J. Malina, The New Jerusalem in the Revelation of John: The City as Symbol of
Life with God (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2000), 23.
Lee, The New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation: A Study of Revelation 21-22
in the Light of its Background in Jewish Tradition (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck,
Mathewson, A New Heaven and a New Earth: The Meaning and Function of the Old
Testament in Revelation 21.1-22.5 (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003),
Z. Heide, “What Is New About the New Heaven and the New Earth? A Theology of
Creation from Revelation 21 and 2 Peter 3,” Journal of the Evangelical
Theological Society 40.1 (March, 1997): 49 (fn. 35).
Eugene Boring, “Revelation 19-21: End Without Closure,” The Princeton
Seminary Bulletin, Supplementary Issue 3 (1994): 74-75.
is the Ruth Dickinson professor of Bible at Oklahoma Baptist University,
REVELATION, John reported God’s self-declaration:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8),1
This assertion appears again in Revelation 21:6 and 22:13.
The declaration’s strategic placement at the beginning and end of
Revelation reflects the majesty of the God who is the beginning, end, and
everything in between.
Alpha and omega are the first and last
letters of the Greek alphabet. God,
speaking in the first person, helped define what He meant by adding “the
Beginning and the End” (21:6). In
the final use of the phrase, Jesus added of Himself: “I am the Alpha and the
Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (22:13).
Old Testament provides critical insight for understanding what the Lord meant
with the self-identification “the Alpha and the Omega.”
All three instances in Revelation begin with the Lord’s words of
self-identification from Exodus 3:14: “I
AM.” This is the language God used
to identify Himself to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM.
This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to
At the burning bush, God instructed Moses to declare to the Israelites
that He would bring them out of Egyptian bondage.
Moses, anticipating the people would inquire about the name of the name
of the God who sent him, asked how he should respond.
The response “I AM” indicated something of God’s absolute
existence. This emphasized both that
God exists and that He is the liberator God who is present with His people.
For the apostle John, the connection was clear; this God who brought
Pharaoh to his knees and set His people free in the days of Moses was the same
God who would not fail His people in their oppression under the Roman Empire.
the prophet Isaiah reported the words of Yahweh: “Who has performed and done
this, calling the generations from the beginning?
I, Yahweh, am the first, and with the last—I am He” (Isa. 41:4).
In Isaiah 43:10, the Lord declared: “No god was formed before Me, and
there will be none after Me.” And
again in Isaiah 44:6: “This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its
Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, says: ‘I am the first and I am the last.
There is on God but Me.’”3
Isaiah’s words provide an intertextual link that gives further insight
into the phrase’s meaning in Revelation. The
Isaiah passages declare that God alone created all that exists and He alone
stands as the sovereign Lord of time and history.
Babylon had its gods fashioned by human hands—but Yahweh alone is the
absolute, incomparable God over all the nations.
The declaration that the Lord is Alpha and
Omega appears three times in Revelation. The
first is in part of the book’s introduction that identifies the God who was
giving the revelation: “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God,
‘the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty’” (1:8).
Here the phrase occurs as the Father’s self-declaration that He is the
absolute ground of being, the first cause and initiator of all creation (“the
One who was”), the sustainer of the universe (“the One who is”), and the
goal toward which all creation is moving (“the One who is coming”).
God also designated Himself “the Almighty,” or in Greek, pantokrator.
Occurring nine times in Revelation (see also 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14;
19:6,15; 21:22), pantokrator indicates
that God is ruler of all. This was
in stark contrast to the Roman emperor who was autokrator (from which comes the English term autocrat), that is, absolute ruler of the Empire.4
While Caesar (autokrator) might claim power and sovereignty over the Empire,
including the right to persecute believers, Jesus (pantokrator), has eternal power and abiding sovereignty over all
creation. Thus, Caesar’s power is
limited and temporary. This
comparison would have comforted John’s readers.
second usage of “Alpha and Omega” occurs in Revelation 21:6 at the beginning
of the book’s last major section, which focuses on the new creation: “And He
said to me, . . . ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega” title confirmed that God
has the power to make all things new, including heaven and earth—where crying,
pain, and death will be no more. Only
the One who existed before time and will exist after creation to its appointed
final “Alpha and Omega” saying is in the book’s epilogue.
Unlike the first two instances in which the Father made the
pronouncement, here the risen Christ declared: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (22:13).
Thus, fittingly, the “Alpha and Omega” sayings appear at the
beginning (alpha) and the end (omega)
of Revelation. The fact that Jesus
is the one making the third self-declaration reveals the book’s high
Christology. John’s using the term
“Alpha and Omega” of both God and Christ reveals the same divine majesty and
power for both. The saying
identified Christ with the creation of all things as well as the completion of
God’s purposes for the creation. Christ
shared the eternal life of God before creation, and the fullness of deity
belongs to Him forever. What is true
of the First Person of the Trinity is true of the Second as well.
John’s readers could have confidence that this One would keep His
promise to come again and that He would repay all people according to their
deeds (v. 12). Caesar might claim
lordship over his empire, but he pales in comparison to Christ, who is sovereign
over the beginning, the end, and everything in between.
The use of “I AM” in Exodus 3:14 and
the Isaiah 40—44 assertions of God as first and last provide the proper
context for understanding the meaning of God as the Alpha and Omega in
Revelation. He is the incomparable,
eternal God, first and last, who is, who was, and who is to come.
The God who was present at the beginning as Creator will likewise be
present at the conclusion as creation’s Redeemer.
the God who is “Alpha and Omega” exercises sovereign control over all time
and history. Consequently, people
cannot view history as a meaningless cycle of events going nowhere.
Instead, events are part of God’s plan for guiding history to its
proper conclusion. Confidence in
God’s sovereign rule of history past and present would offer hope for Jews
suffering during the Babylonian exile, Christians suffering under Roman
oppression, or twenty-first century Christians suffering trials and even
All Bible quotations are from the Holman
Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
Some scholars make the connection
between the “I AM” of the three Alpha and Omega declarations and the divine
self-identification “I AM” to Moses. See
Beale, The Book of Revelation (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 188; Bauckham, The
Theology of the Book of Revelation (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993),
For the connection between the Alpha and
Omega sayings in Revelation and Isaiah 40—45, see Lincicum, “The Origin of
‘Alpha and Omega’ (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13): A Suggestion” in Journal
of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 6 (2009): 128; and Keener, Revelation,
The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 73.
Keener, Revelation, 73-74.
as Symbols of Authority
Reeves is professor of biblical studies and dean of Redford School of Theology,
Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Missouri.
IS AN ACT OF WAR in the Book of
Revelation. Every vision of the end
of the world begins with a heavenly scene. Sometimes
John saw the heavenly temple of God (Rev. 8:3-5; 11:19; 15:5-8).
Other times John saw the throne of God and His heavenly council
(4:1—5:17; 14:1-5; 15:1-4; 19:1-10). Whether
what John experienced was in the temple or around the throne, each of his
visions begins with a festal gathering of worshipers.
Then God executes judgment on the earth, launching His invasion with
armies of heavenly beings—from horsemen to angels—so that “the kingdom of
the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah” (11:15, HCSB).
The message is plain. The
saints declare war on the world every time they gather to worship the One who
sits on the throne. The kingdom
comes when the God of Israel is praised.
earlier Romans would have scoffed at such a preposterous idea.
They saw the antiquated notions of kingdoms and kings in the East, along
with all the trappings of royal pageantry, as irrelevant to the designs of the
ever-expanding Roman Republic: a rule of law for all people.1 The
glory of Roman rule was to be preserved by the Senate, not by a succession of
kings of royal pedigree.2 Power should be claimed, not inherited.
When the republic evolved into an empire and senators accused the emperor
of trying to establish a “monarchy,” Caesar refused the title “king.”
Even though complaint eastern kings ruled as clients of the empire and
imperial provinces welcomed Caesar as their king, the emperor avoided the
vestiges of a monarchy. Imperial
rulers never wore jeweled crowns. Roman
governors sat on backless chairs, not thrones (chairs with curved backs were for
women).3 Indeed, by the first century the glamour of eastern kings in
many provinces was replaced by the drab businesslike duties of Roman
procurators.4 These Roman officials reminded imperial subjects of the
undeniable power of Roman justice every time they rendered a verdict based on
Roman law. John had firsthand
knowledge of the power of Roman law, for he was serving his sentence as an
exiled criminal of Rome when he saw God and His Lamb enthroned on the day of
Christian worship (1:9-10).
were once the quintessential symbol of power in the Mediterranean world.
A king’s throne was his earthly claim to a heavenly power.
The earliest statues and stelae (upright inscribed stone slabs) of the
Egyptians, Assyrians, and Mesopotamians picture both gods and kings seated on
thrones very similar in style and construction.5 Throne rooms were
often located adjacent to temples. Indeed,
in the ancient Near East, different cultures seen to make a direct correlation
between kingdom and cult, monarchy and deity.
Rulers were deified. Gods
were enthroned as kings. Therefore,
when a subject came to pay homage to his king, he traveled to the temple of his
god. Upon entering the throne room,
the visitor would see the king’s throne situated on a platform of several
description of Solomon’s throne is somewhat typical of the time and region,
with six steps leading to the throne and statues of animals—in this case,
lions—guarding the end of each step (1 Kings 10:18-20).
Thrones were lavishly decorated versions of the chairs found in the homes
of the wealthy.
all chairs, whether regal or residential, were made of local or imported wood:
boxwood, juniper, walnut, maple, poplar, oak, cedar, ash, cypress, elm, fir, and
ebony. The seat, back and armrests
of chairs crafted for the wealthy would be decorated with ivory, gold, silver,
copper, or bronze inlay. The ends of
the armrests were often shaped like heads of lions and bulls.
Carved into the backs of the chairs would be depictions of the royal
family, their gods, or favorite object and designs decorated with gems,
semiprecious stones, colored glass, and a type of glazed ceramic pieces called
“faience.” Throughout the
ancient Near East, chair legs were carved to look like animal legs (bulls,
lions, gazelles) and sometimes were made of hippopotamus ivory, accented with
gold and silver leaf.6 Bronze legs cast in cylindrical shapes resting
on lion’s paws were common among the thrones of Persian rulers during the
Roman period.7 The Romans, however, tended to favor a less
ostentatious look. They preferred
simpler chair legs that were either turned on a lathe or were rectangular in
have recovered only a few actual thrones of the ancient Near East (one being
King Tutankhamen’s). Most of
what we know about the design and construction of the thrones of eastern kings
comes from relief pictures found in tombs, from statues and stelae, or from
literary descriptions. Of course,
kings’ thrones were much larger versions of the chairs owned by the wealthy.
Thrones were decorated with more detailed goal and ivory inlays,
elaborate carvings, painted scenes, and were often draped or upholstered with
rich tapestries (silk, cushions, fine linens—especially in Persia).
For example, King Tutankhamen’s throne was covered with gold foil,
inlaid with over a thousand square pieces of
gold, calcite, and faience, carefully cut and polished blue-glass claws to
accent the paws of the lion-legged chair.8 Bronze, silver, gold, and
carved decorations—often in the shapes of national symbols (winged griffins,
lions, sphinxes, flowers, rosettes)—covered the king’s throne.
Sometimes human figurines (royal attendants and subjected peoples) carved
out of wood and ivory supported the armrests or legs of the throne.
Many kings also used footstools, designed and decorated in styles similar
to the thrones, with miniature human figures carved into the sides.
The symbolism was obvious: here is a sovereign who rules over all the
creatures, subjects, and lands of his kingdom, where his enemies are his
footstool.9 Many kings traveled with portable thrones, extending the
image of their divine rule.10
View from Patmos
though John never gave a description of God’s throne, what he was surrounding
the throne matches the features of the thrones we have just described: jewels,
precious stones, and colored glass, likenesses of bulls, lions, winged
creatures, and royal attendants (4:1—5:14).
To a Roman prisoner exiled on Patmos, seeing God seated on a throne like
one of the great kings of old must have appeared to John as contrary to all that
may have claimed sovereign control over the world at that time, but John’s
vision reassured those who worshiped the King of kings and the Emperor of
emperors that the will of God would be effected on earth as it is in heaven.
The Lamb opens the scroll and judgment follows (6:1—8:1).
The books are opened before the great white throne of God and judgment
follows (20:11-15). Bowing in humble
adoration on the Lord’s Day, John worshiped his King, hearing the royal
attendants and the heavenly chorus chanting: “Our Lord and God, You are worthy
to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and
because of Your will they exist and were created” (4:11, HCSB).
Recalling the imagery of Genesis 1 where God is like a king on his throne
issuing royal decrees—“Let there be . . . And it was so”—these
worshipers testify God is worthy of praise because He is the beginning and end
of all things. For the faithful know
that, despite what Rome may claim, one day the heavenly throne of God and His
Lamb will come to earth, and from that throne will flow a river of living water
that brings eternal life (Rev. 22:1; John 4:13-14).
Syme, The Roman Revolution (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1952), 449, 473-74.
Killebrew, “Furniture and Furnishings: Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine
Periods” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East
(OEANE), ed. in chief Eric M. Meyers (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997),
G. Starr, Civilization and the Caesars: The Intellectual Revolution in the
Roman Empire (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1965), 58-61.
Roman emperors preferred monuments, statues, and arches as symbols of
relief from the reign of Tiglath-pileser III (744-427 BC) pictures deities
sitting on straight-backed chairs with carved legs that resemble the throne of
Sennacherib; see Elizabeth Simpson, “Furniture in Ancient Western Asia,”
in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East (CANE), ed. in chief Jack M.
Sasson (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), 1657-58.
1655, 1666; Harold A Liebowitz, “Furniture and Furnishings” in OEANE, 2:353.
OEANE, 2:257-58. “Only a few
pieces of furniture survive in Egypt from the Greco-Roman period, and their
quality suggests that much of the furniture manufactured then was poorly
executed and roughly decorated.” Geoffrey
Killen, “Furniture,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, ed.
in chief Donald B. Redford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 1:586.
Baines, “Palaces and Temples of Ancient Egypt,” CANE, 305.
Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 34, No. 4; Summer 2008.
What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia
Question Found? (10/11/15) When Moses blesses
the tribes before his death, to what animal did he compare God?
Answer Next Week.
The answer to last
week’s question: (10/04/15)
“Hope deferred” makes what sick?
Answer. The heart; Prov. 13:12.