Revelation 21:9-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 15, 2012


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved?

We are at the climax of history. After the seven year Tribulation where the antichrist rules and God’s wrath is poured out …

The Second Coming (Rev. 19)

Jesus comes back on His white horse, with us behind Him.

All the unbelievers alive on the earth will be put to death by Jesus.

The Millennium (Rev. 20)

Satan is bound up in prison while Jesus sets up His kingdom in Israel and will rule the world for a thousand years.

The Great White Throne (Rev. 20)

All the unbelievers that have ever lived through history will meet their maker face to face and find themselves condemned to the Lake of Fire.

Eternity (Rev. 21-22)

The Forever of the Bible starts. We will be with God forever.

The centerpiece of eternity is a city called “New Jerusalem”

21:9-21 New Jerusalem

:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

:9 one of the seven angels

One of the guys from way back in Revelation 16, who had been used to pour out one of the bowls of the wrath of God.  This fellow comes up to John and offers to show John the New Jerusalem, the Lamb’s bride.

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.

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

:10 he carried me awayapophero – to carry off or bring away

:10 in the Spirit

Much of this revelation recorded by John is done “in the Spirit”.

I think it means that John is not literally there, but that he’s still seeing it.

:10 highhupselos – high, lofty

:10 greatmegas – great

:10 holyhagios – holy

:10 descendingkatabaino – to go down, come down, descend

:10 Jerusalem, descending out of heaven

Some think it might be entering into an earth orbit since it never says that it actually touches the earth.

This object that John is seeing is the “New Jerusalem”.

:11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

:11 glorydoxa – in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honor, and glory; splendor, brightness; magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace

:11 lightphoster – that which gives light, an illuminator; light, brightness

:11 likehomoios – like, similar, resembling

:11 most precioustimios – as of great price, precious

This is in the “superlative”, meaning it is not just “precious”, or “more precious”, but “the most precious”

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

There is one kind called the Aeizusa, like to air and another Crystallizusa, clear as crystal. So Pliny speaks of a white Jasper called Astrios, and which, he says is "crystallo propinquans," near to crystal, found in India, and on the shores of Pallene. (Gill)

:11 clear as crystalkrustallizo – to be of crystalline brightness and transparency; to shine like crystal

:11 Her light was like …

Jasper stones can come in various colors.  We think the idea is that image that John is painting is that of a translucent, shining, glowing, multicolor object.  Most of the wall is described as being made of “jasper” (vs. 18).

:12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

:13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

:12 wallteichos – the wall around a city, town wall

In ancient days, the most important thing a city could have would be strong and high walls to protect from invaders.

:12 gatespulon – a large gate: of a palace

:12 at the gates

Literally “upon the gates”.  Perhaps each gate has an angel floating above it.

:12 names written

I think the gates have names on them, not the angels.  Each gate has a name of a tribe of Israel.

:13 eastanatole – a rising (of the sun and stars); the east (the direction of the sun’s rising)

:13 northborrhas – Boreas, the north-north-east wind; the north

:13 southnotos – the south wind; the south, the southern quarter

:13 westdusme (“plunging”) – the setting of the sun; the region of the sunset, the west

:12 twelve angels at the gates

As you’ll see when we get to verse 21, these are the “pearly gates”. 


A woman finds herself outside the Pearly Gates, where St. Peter greets her. Am I where I think I am?” she exclaims. “It’s so beautiful! Did I really make it to Heaven?” St. Peter replies, “Yes, my dear, these are the Gates to Heaven. But you must do one thing before you can enter.” Very excited, the woman asks what she must do to pass through the gates. “Spell a word,” St. Peter replies. “What word?” she asks. “Any word,” answers St. Peter. “It’s your choice.”  The woman promptly replies, “The word I will spell is love. L-o-v-e.” St. Peter congratulates her on her good fortune in making it into Heaven and asks her if she will take his place at the gates for a moment while he runs an errand. “I’d be honored,” she says, “but what should I do if someone comes while you are gone?” St. Peter instructs her to require any newcomers to spell a word, just as she had done. So the woman takes St. Peter’s chair and watches the beautiful angels soaring around her, when lo and behold, a man approaches the gates. It is her husband! “What happened?” she cries. “Why are you here?” Her husband explains, “I was so upset when I left your funeral that I got into an automobile accident. Now I am here, ready to join you in Heaven.” “Not just yet,” the woman replies. “First you must spell a word.” “What word?” he asks. “Czechoslovakia.”

I think every once in a while it’s a good idea to get our theology correct.

It is an angel at each gate, not St. Peter.
And no, getting into heaven is not about spelling, its about believing.
Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for you?

:12 twelve gates … twelve tribes

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

Ezekiel had a vision of the Millennial Kingdom along with it’s temple (Eze. 48), and it’s city of Jerusalem.  That Jerusalem will have twelve gates also named after each of the twelve tribes.
(Eze 48:31 NKJV) …the gates of the city shall be named after 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 kinds of fruit (22:2).  What does it all mean?  I could give you 12 reasons … or not …

:14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

:14 foundationsthemelios – laid down as a foundation, the foundation (of a building, wall, city); metaph. the foundations, beginnings, first principals

: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?  Probably not.  He is called the “son of perdition (John 17:12), the son of hell.
Is the twelfth Matthias or Paul (as some suggest)?
Matthias is the man the other apostles chose to replace Judas in Acts 1.
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.

:12-14 gates … foundations

The city has twelve gates named for the twelve tribes.

The city has twelve foundations named for the twelve apostles.

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). 
I think it’s most likely that the twenty-four elders consist of the twelve apostles and twelve of the elders of Israel.
The gates are tied to the tribes, to the Old Testament.
The foundations are tied to the apostles, the New Testament.
In Eternity, we will see no difference between the Old and New Testament in that they both belong.

Both have always been in God’s plan.  The New Testament doesn’t replace the Old Testament, it simply completes it and explains it.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that as “Christians” we only study and believe in the New Testament.

We believe in the WHOLE Bible.

:15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.

:15 reedkalamos – a reed; a measuring reed or rod

John was given a reed earlier to measure the Temple of the Tribulation period.

(Re 11:1 NKJV) —1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.
He was told to leave out the court of the Gentiles, but we were never given what the actual measurements of that temple were.

When Ezekiel had his vision of the Temple of the Millennium, there was an angelic being who appeared with a measuring rod:

(Eze 40:3 NKJV) —3 He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway.
Ezekiel goes on to give actual measurements of the Millennial Temple.

Is there something to the fact that some things are “measured and recorded” and others aren’t?

Is there something to the fact that this is the third thing “measured”, but it’s not exactly a Temple, unless you consider the entire city a Temple?

:15 measuremetreo – to measure, to measure out or off; any space or distance with a measurer’s reed or rule

:16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.

:16 squaretetragonos (“four” + “corner”) – quadrangular, square

:16 laid outkeimai – to lie

:16 lengthmekos – length

:16 breadthplatos – breadth; suggesting great extent

:16 twelve thousand furlongsstadion – a race course

In ancient days, they didn’t hold sporting events at Baseball stadiums or football stadiums.  In the Greek and Roman games, the games were held in the Hippodrome. Care to guess what kinds of animals raced in a Hippodrome?  (Horses).  There were also footraces held here as well. You saw a hippodrome in the chariot race in Ben Hur.

Play Ben Hur Chariot Race
They have a hippodrome in Caesarea, on the coast of Israel.  In a hippodrome, the typical race course was around 600 feet in length.
12,000 of these “stadia” would equal about 1350 (1363.636363636364) miles.
That makes the footprint of New Jerusalem the size of this (British Columbia to Fullerton to Texarkana)

:16 heighthupsos – height

:16 equalisos – equal, in quantity or quality

:16 Its length, breadth, and height are equal

The city is not only 1350 miles wide and long, but it’s also 1350 miles HIGH.

That gives the New Jerusalem a volume of about 2.5 billion cubic miles.
Why does a city need to be just a high as it is wide and long?
Because we will be able to FLY!  Tall things aren’t an issue for us!

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 around 20 (19.68) 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.
And 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 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

:17 cubitspechus – a cubit; a measure of length equal to distance from the joint of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger (i.e. about 18 inches, (.5 m)  but its precise length varied and is disputed)

:17 according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel

The idea is that John is saying that the angels use our human measurements.

It seems that John is saying that the measurements that man uses are the kinds of measurements that are used by angels.
(Re 21:17 NASB95) according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

:17 one hundred and forty-four cubits

A cubit is about a foot and a half.  144 cubits is 216 feet, or about 72 yards.

Since we already know the height of the wall, that would mean this measurement is the thickness of the wall.



The wall of a city was the measure of the security of the inhabitants.
We don’t think in these kinds of terms because for the last hundred years mankind has developed weapons that can shoot over walls.
But to the ancient mind of John’s day, a city was as secure as it’s walls.
One of the most secure cities of the ancient world was the city of Babylon.
Its walls were fourteen miles square, surrounded by walls that were 87 feet thick, and 350 feet high.
The walls were thick enough, that chariots four abreast were driven around the tops of the walls.
Babylon has nothing on the New Jerusalem.
We will be secure throughout eternity.

:18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

:18 constructionendomesis – that which is build in; the material built into a wall, i.e. of which the wall is composed

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

There is one kind called the Aeizusa, like to air and another Crystallizusa, clear as crystal. So Pliny speaks of a white Jasper called Astrios, and which, he says is "crystallo propinquans," near to crystal, found in India, and on the shores of Pallene. (Gill)

:18 purekatharos – clean, pure; purified by fire

:18 glasshualos – any stone transparent like glass; glass

:18 clearkatharos – clean, pure; purified by fire

:18 wall was of jasper

Jasper will be one of the stones used in the foundation, but most of the wall is made of this stone as well.  It actually comes in various colors.

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

:18 pure gold … clear glass

The Greek words for “pure” and “clear” are the same Greek word.

The word means “clean”, not “clear”, though “clean” glass is clear.

I think you could make the point that this is talking about “shiny”, not “clear”.

:19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,

:20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

:19 … jasper … sapphire …

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.

chrysoprase (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

:19 adornedkosmeo (“cosmetics”) – to put in order, make ready, prepare; to ornament

We didn’t stop to talk about it last week, but this word popped up last week.

(Re 21:2 NKJV) Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
In both verse 2 & verse 19, the words “adorned” are passive verbs. That means that the bride didn’t prepare herself, but somebody else did the preparing.



I’ve been to a few weddings, and I’ve never seen an ugly bride.  Brides always take a lot of time to get “prepared” or “adorned” for their wedding.
The Greek word translated “adorned” is where we get our word “cosmetics”.
Two parties involved in the makeup process – the groom and the bride.

His Work

Even though this is speaking about the city called “New Jerusalem”, there is a sense in which we are in this picture because we too are called the “bride of Christ”.  And God likes to make the brides beautiful:
(Eph 5:25–27 NKJV) —25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
When Jesus died on the cross, He was paying the price for us to go to heaven – He paid for our sins.

But He didn’t stop there.

He continues to work on us, “preparing” us for this grand presentation.

He washes us in His Word – as we are learning to read and pay attention to His Word, we may experience conviction over things we’re doing wrong (like pruning us).  We may experience a fresh reminder of His love for us.  Sometimes His Word simply cleanses our minds from filthy stuff.

Our work

It’s important that we not only allow ourselves to be “washed” in His Word, but that we actually respond to His Word and do what He is prompting us to do.
Often that involves changes in our heart.  Peter writes to women about their proper use of “cosmetics”:
(1 Pe 3:3–5 NKJV) —3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves…

Guys – this principle is not just for the gals…

I think that it works like this – I spend time in God’s Word and I have the opportunity to have God speak to me – directly to me.
And I am faced with a choice – do I pay attention to what God is saying to me and work with Him to make changes in my heart, or do I just blow it off?
Some of us would rather just work on the outward stuff – the things that other people see.  We sometimes just focus on the outward actions that other people see us do.

Yet God wants to work deeper.

He wants to work on the things that are going on in our heart, the things that actually lead to those outward actions.

For example:  I can stop saying mean things to other people because I’m told that Christians aren’t supposed to say mean things.  Or I can work with God to start actually loving those people I get upset with so I am not just stopping my mean words, but I actually care about these people.

Another example:  I can stop looking at pornography on the computer because I don’t want anyone to catch me doing it – I know it’s wrong.  Or I can go deeper, and allow God to help me crucify my lustful thoughts, to fill that emptiness inside me with His love, and learning purity from the inside, learning to long to please Him.

:21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

:21 pearlsmargarites – a pearl

:21 streetplateia – a broad way, a street

:21 purekatharos – clean, pure; purified by fire

:21 glasshualos – any stone transparent like glass; glass

:21 pearl

Each gate is made up of a single pearl.

Either the gates are really, really tiny, or there are some HUGE oysters out there working on these pearls!

Pearls were considered “unclean” things.  They come from oysters, which are not considered “clean”.

Yet God makes the gates of His city out of them.

Can you imagine the size of the oyster?

Pearls made from the annoying bits of sand that get inside an oyster.

:21 streets of gold

This may speak of just how fantastic and splendiferous heaven is.

We place a great deal of emphasis on wealth.

But the things we value here on earth are just used to pave the streets.
Perhaps in heaven the things we value on earth aren’t worth that much.

:21 transparentdiaphanes (“through” + “shine”) – transparent, translucent

I know that a lot of us teachers attempt to talk about how gold can theoretically be refined until it’s transparent.  I’m not a chemist, and I’m not sure about that.

I think the word here (there are some differences of the words in other manuscripts) could also just mean “really, really shiny like glass”.  Sometimes a prefix on a word simply intensifies the word (like, “really, really”).

:19 The foundations of the wall …

It appears that there are twelve different types of stone that make up the “foundation”.

It might be that there are three huge stones on each of the four walls.
It could be that there are twelve layers of stone that ring the entire wall.

It appears that there is some sort of translucence to these stones, and with God being inside the city and functioning as the source of light for the entire city, this thing will glow in the dark.

When you look at this list of stones, they sound extremely similar to the twelve stones found mounted on the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest.

(Ex 28:17–20 NKJV) —17 And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row; 18 the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings.

New Jerusalem

The Breastplate


























Turquoise, diamond, agate, onyx

When you take into account the fact that the stones listed in Revelation are translations of Greek words, and the stones in the breastplate are translations of Hebrew words, it’s very possible that all twelve stones are the same.


Carrying Heaven

Everyone around us needs hope.  The best hope is our hope in heaven – it’s what keeps us going.
(2 Co 4:16–18 NKJV) —16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Here is the Jewish High Priest wearing a bit of the eternal over his heart, reminding people that there is a future.

One of the roles of a priest is to represent God to the people.
The Bible tells us that as believers in Jesus, we are ALL priests.
I find it fascinating to think that the High Priest was wearing stones that are in the foundation of Eternity.
It’s almost as if the High Priest was to remind the people what heaven is like.
When you visit a country like Russia, you tend to stand out as Americans.

On our first trip to Russia, the difference between Russians and Americans was pretty dramatic. 

For example, Russian men tend to wear shoes with very pointy tips.  Americans don’t. (Well, maybe not that pointy …)

The more westernized Russia gets, the more they are starting to look and dress like Americans.

I remember one lady telling one of our translators while we were on a bus that it was obvious that we weren’t Russians because we smiled all the time.

I remember thinking at that time that our “smiles” weren’t because we were Americans, our “smiles” were because we were Christians.

Jesus gave us a pretty good way to wear that multi-colored breastplate that covers our hearts:

(Jn 13:34–35 NKJV) —34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Can people see what you have on your heart?

Can they see the right example of His love?