Revelation 21:9-21

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

November 19, 1997


We’ve moved into eternity, and are now going to look at our main dwelling place, the New Jerusalem.

:9 one of the seven angels

We saw these seven angels specifically mentioned starting in Rev.15, when they were preparing to pour out their bowls of wrath. Then in chapter 16 they poured out their bowls.

In Rev.17:1 one of the seven angels showed took John into the wilderness to show him the judgment of Babylon the great, the mother of harlots.

Now in contrast, one of them takes him to a great mountain to show him the bride of the Lamb.

:9 the bride, the Lamb's wife

We are the Bride of Christ (Eph.5:22-33).

Since we're in the city, John will be shown the city.


Love your wives to beauty.

(Eph 5:25-27 KJV) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; {26} That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, {27} That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

When we look at the incredible New Jerusalem, we should probably be thinking of what an incredible job Jesus, as our husband is doing in loving us and beautifying us with His Word.

Is your wife made more beautiful through your words?

:10 he carried me away in the spirit

It seems that much of what John does is "in the spirit", starting back in chapter 1.

It also reminds us of chapter 17, when John sees another city, the wicked Babylon:

Re 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

:10 to a great and high mountain,

The language is very similar to a vision that Ezekiel had:

Eze 40:2 In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which [was] as the frame of a city on the south.

:10 Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God

We saw this last week (21:3). Some think it might be entering into an earth orbit since it never says that it actually touches the earth.

:11 her light

lightphoster – that which gives light, an illuminator

:11 like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

jasperiaspis – jasper, a precious stone of various colours (for some are purple, others blue, others green, and others the colour of brass)

I think the idea is a kind of translucence about it, a kind of glow.

:12 at the gates twelve angels

An angel standing guard at each gate (not "Saint Peter")

:12 names written thereon

Each gate has the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel on it.

Ezekiel’s vision of Jerusalem and the temple during the millenium also has twelve gates, with the names of the twelve tribes written on them.

Eze 48:31 And the gates of the city [shall be] after the names of the tribes of Israel …

It's interesting to point out here, at verse TWELVE, that the number 12 is very prominent in the New Jerusalem.

12 gates (vs.12) 12 angels (vs.12) 12 tribes of Israel (vs.12) 12 foundation stones (vs.14) 12 apostles (vs.14) 12 thousand furlongs is length (vs.16) 12 times 12 cubits is walls width (vs.17) 12 gates (vs.21) 12 kinds of fruit (22:2)

:13 On the east three gates;

This layout has at least two different Old Testament parallels.

1. Ezekiel’s vision of the millenium (Ezekiel 48)

2. The layout of Israel’s wilderness camp. (Num. 2)

In the center was the tabernacle, with the twelve tribes in four groups, at the points of the compass. Almost a picture of the New Jerusalem, with the throne of God being surrounded by the His people.

:14 twelve foundations,

Some translations read "twelve foundation stones", but it’s actually "twelve foundations".

1Co 3:10-11 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

:14 the names of the twelve apostles

Each of the foundation stones had a name of an apostle.

Some have raised questions as to just which twelve they are.

Is Judas one of them? I don’t think so. He is called the "son of perdition (John 17:12), the son of hell.

Is the twelfth Matthias or Paul (as some suggest)?

Even though I greatly admire Paul, I tend to lean on the twelfth being Matthias, since Luke records the twelve being complete after Matthias’ selection, and before Paul’s conversion. (Acts 6:2)

We'll find out when we get there.

Note: Back in Rev.4:4 we saw a group of twenty-four "elders" sitting on thrones around God's throne. We've also seen them many times since then (Rev.4:4,10; 5:8,14; 11:16; 19:4).

Again, we think they might have to do with the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes, since we see both sets of twelve displayed very prominently for all eternity. They most likely are the twelve apostles and twelve of the elders from the tribes of Israel.

:16 And the city lieth foursquare,

The city is laid out as a square.

:16 twelve thousand furlongs.

furlongsstadion – a space or distance of about 600 feet (185 m); based on a race course found at the original Olympics, in their "stadium", a course which can actually be measured as 606 feet.

Some translations say "fifteen hundred miles", but that’s not quite correct, since it’s based erroneously on "Roman miles" which are shorter than our miles.

Literally, "twelve thousand stadia".

So, this is 12,000 x 606 = 7,272,000 feet long

Or, (/5280) 1,377.27272727 miles long (almost halfway across the United States, roughly from here to Dallas)

:16 The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal

Since the length and width are the same, the surface area is 1.896,880.16528925 square miles.

But remember, we'll have those new, updated, jazzy resurrection bodies that can go through walls, travel at the speed of light, and FLY.

So, it's important to also calculate the volume (cubic miles) since we'll be able to fly around inside. The volume is 2,612,521,318.5523 cubic miles.

Will the New Jerusalem be big enough to hold everybody?

If you planned on leaving 1/4 mile cubed for each person, that make room for over 20 billion people. There haven't even been that many people ever alive let alone being believers. Even if you got extravagant and gave each person 1 cubic mile, you'd have enough room for over 2 1/2 billion people.

Keep in mind, this is just one city that comes down onto a new heaven and new earth. There will be plenty of space.

:17 the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits

NAS says "seventy two yards", but it’s literally, "144 cubits".

A cubit was the length of the forearm, from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. Actually it varied in size, since it was usually the length of the forearm of the current king, which might change in size. It has been found to be anywhere from 15 inches to 22 inches.

We usually just make it to be about 18 inches (a half a yard).

144 x 1/2 = 72 yards.

This measurement probably refers to the thickness of the wall. Some think it might be the height.

:17 the measure of a man, that is, of the angel

NAS - which are also angelic measurements

I find it interesting that angels use our measurements.

The purpose John has for stating this is so that we can actually try to comprehend in human terms what's up ahead. You can't cop out and say that it was just all symbolic, or just a figure of speech, these were real measurements, even in human standards.

:18 the building of the wall of it was of jasper:

The foundations of the wall are going to have different colors in them, but the majority of the wall is this "jasper", which we’ve seen back in verse 11.

jasperiaspis – jasper, a precious stone of various colours (for some are purple, others blue, others green, and others the colour of brass)

We also saw this word used earlier to describe God Himself (Rev. 4:3)

:18 the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

The city itself (apparently apart from the wall) is made of "pure gold".

Pure … clear – the Greek word is the same for both of these (katharos), a word usually translated "clean".

How can gold be clear like glass?

The word "like" (homoios) means "like", "similar", "resembling". It could be that the gold is very, very shiny, resembling shiny, clean glass.

Some have suggested that it might be possible to refine gold to the point that it would be transparent. I haven’t seen any actual documentation on this though, and we don’t have that ability yet, humanly speaking.

:19 the foundations of the wall …

Remember in verse 14 that there are twelve foundation stones, and each has the name of one of the twelve apostles.

This is pretty difficult stuff to interpret. We are looking at ancient Greek words, and are as yet unclear as to exactly what some of these stones are. There are also mentions of certain stones in the Old Testament, and it’s not altogether clear which Greek names of stones match up with the Hebrew names of stones.

jasper (iaspis) – clear? Greenish?

We’ve already seen this mentioned twice (21:11,18).

Some think it could be a clear stone, maybe even a diamond. Some think it is also known as "bloodstone", opaque, and dark green in color.

sapphire (sappheiros) – clear dark blue?

There was an incident where God allowed Moses to bring Aaron, his two sons, and the seventy elders of Israel up on Mount Sinai, and they all saw God. They saw something like a pavement under God's feet that looked like it was made of sapphire. (Ex.24:10)

When Ezekiel saw his visions of God's throne, there was an expanse above God's throne that looked like sapphire (Eze.1:26; 10:1)

chalcedony – (chalkedon) – opaque white

A white, opaque stone ("chalk"), with almost a marble-like look to it. This is the only Bible reference to it.

emerald (smaragdos) – clear green

The wizard of Oz...a clear green gem, very precious.

We saw the emerald color back in Rev.4:3, it is the color of the "rainbow" or halo that surrounds God's throne.

sardonyx – (sardonux) – opaque red and white layers

An opaque stone with alternating layers of red and white. This is the only Bible reference to it.

sardius (sardios) – opaque red stone

This was also one of the descriptive words used to picture God on his throne in Rev.4:3, along with jasper (green).

chrysolite (chrusolithos) – clear yellow; Greek literally means "gold stone".

Only found here.

beryl (berullos) – clear darker yellow; some say pale green.

In Ezekiel's vision of God's throne, he saw the cherubim around God's throne riding on top of "wheels". These "wheels" were the color of beryl (Eze.1:16; 10:9).

Once, when Daniel had been fasting and praying for three weeks, he saw a vision of Jesus Christ, similar to John's in Rev.1. Daniel saw Jesus and His body was like "beryl" (Dan.10:6).

topaz (topazion) – clear pink; some say greenish yellow.

A clear gem with a slight pinkish, peachish tint to it.

chrysoprasus (chrusoprasos) – opaque light green

(chrysoprasus) - an opaque, light green (almost lime green) stone. Occurs only here.

jacinth (huakinthos) – hyacinth, the name of a flower, also of a precious stone of the same colour, a dark blue verging on black.

Also called "blue zircon", this is a clear gem with a blue tint to it.

A closely related word is found in Rev.9:17 to describe the color of the breastplates of the 200 million horsemen.

amethyst (amethustos) – clear purple

Think about it …

As you get to think what these foundation stones are made of, what they look like, remember the size of the place.

If there are twelve stones and four walls, then it makes sense that there are three stones to a wall.

If there are three stones to a wall, then each stone would probably be about 460 miles long, and 72 yards thick. Imagine some of these stones that big!!!

Another possibility is that each stone extends around the entire city, one on top of another. Each stone would be 1377 miles long, wrapping around the city.

Also, think of the sight this city will make, being lit up by the glory of God, with these huge stones, many of them translucent, with all their colors. Imagine!!!

An interesting study to do is to compare our passage here (Rev.21:19-20) with two other passages that have similar lists of precious stones. They are the description of Aaron's breastplate (Ex.28:15-21) and the description of the nine stones in Lucifer's covering in Eden, before he fell (Eze.28:13). Chuck Missler has also suggested that according to some ancient writers (Josephus, Ant.. iii.7.7, Philo (De Monarchia, ii.5; cf. Vit. Mos.iii.14) there may be a connection with the Hebrew Mazzeroth, which we know as the Zodiac.

New Jerusalem

The Breastplate


Tribal Names



























































Carbuncle, diamond, ligure, agate, onyx

Diamond, onyx, carbuncle


The "unmatched" stones from Exodus and Ezekiel could very well match some of the foundation stones, but because of the uncertainties between the Hebrew, Greek, and English, we can’t be sure.

Also of note:

Both the Breastplate and Lucifer were surrounded in gold, just like New Jerusalem.

Also, on the twelve stones of the breastplate were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, similar to the apostles' names being on the foundation stones.


If indeed these are the same stones as the High Priest’s Breastplate, perhaps the idea is to remind the people where they’re going. A little reminder of heaven while on earth.

:21 every several gate was of one pearl

NAS - each one of the gates was a single pearl

This is where we get the phrase, "the pearly gates".

A pearl is not a "kosher" thing. It comes from an oyster, which was considered an "unclean" animal.

What we see is a little something for the Gentiles. It’s not just going to be Jews in heaven.

It's pretty amazing to think that there would be a pearl big enough to be a city gate, especially for a city this huge. But what I'd really like to see is size of the oyster that made the pearl!

:21 the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass

pure … transparent – This time John uses a different word to describe the "glass" (in verse 18, he used katharos both places).

transparentdiaphanes – transparent, translucent

Apparently, somehow, this gold is kind of "see-through", so pure, you'll be able to see through it.


Heaven is beyond value.

Let's put things in perspective.

Some people think, "Wow, heaven is going to be a place of great riches!" That's true, but I don't think that we're all going to want to chip off pieces of the street and jam them into our pockets.

What do we make streets out of today? Asphalt. Do you see people hoarding asphalt? Do you see people sneaking out in the middle of the night and chipping off pieces of asphalt? No.

The point is this - Heaven is going to be such an incredible place that something which we value so much, like gold, is only going to be good enough to pave the streets and build the city with.


Just a little longer …

Last week we read how God said to John:

(Rev 21:7 KJV) He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

These wonderful things are for us. They are our inheritance.

2 Cor 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; {18} While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

There are times where I must confess, I look forward to my vacations. Especially when its been a hard year, and a long one in between vacations. But when we get to sitting down and planning out what we're going to do and where we're going to go, it seems to make things a little more bearable. It's easier to handle problems when you can think, "Only a few more weeks until vacation..."

Keep your eyes on heaven. Only a little while longer...


This 85 year old couple, having been married almost 60 years, had died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years mainly due to her interest in health food, and exercise. When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi. As they "oohed and aahed" the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "It's free, " Peter replied, "this is heaven." Next they went out back to survey the championship golf course that the home backed up to. They would have golfing privileges everyday and each week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth. The old man asked, "what are the green fees?". Peter's reply, "This is heaven, you play for free." Next they went to the club house and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the cuisine's of the world laid out. "How much to eat?" asked the old man. "Don't you understand yet? This is heaven, it is free!" Peter replied with some exasperation. "Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?" the old man asked timidly. Peter lectured, "That's the best can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is heaven." With that the old man went into a fit of anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, and shrieking wildly. Peter and his wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong. The old man looked at his wife and said, "This is all your fault. If it weren't for your blasted bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!"