9 And one of1 the seven angels, the ones who have the seven bowls which are filled2 with the last seven plagues, came and spoke with me saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the spirit3 onto a huge4 and high mountain5. And he showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God6. 11 She7 held8 the glory of God. Her brilliance9 was similar to a precious stone like a jasper stone, clear as crystal10 . 12 She had a huge11 and high wall, having twelve gates and at the gates were twelve angels12. And there were names written on13 them which are [the names] 14of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had15 twelve foundations16 and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the lamb17.
15 And the one speaking with me had a golden measuring rod so that he may measure the city, her gates, and her wall. 16 Now the city is laid out in a square and her length is as long as18 the width. And he measured the city with the rod and it was over twelve thousand stadia19; her length, and the width, and the height the same20. 17 And he measured the wall and it was one hundred forty-four cubits21 (a measurement used by humans, which is also used by angels)22. 18 And the construction material of her wall was jasper and the city was pure23 gold similar to clear24 glass. 19 The foundations of the city’s wall were adorned25 with every precious stone. The first foundation jasper, the second one sapphire, the third one agate, the fourth one emerald, 20 the fifth one sardonyx, the sixth one carnelian, the seventh one chrysolite, the eighth one beryl, the ninth one topaz, the tenth one chrysoprase, the eleventh one jacinth, and the twelfth one amethyst26. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each one of the gates was from one pearl27 . And the main street of the city was pure gold like transparent glass.
22 And I didn’t see a temple in her, for the Lord God, the Almighty and the lamb are her temple28. 23 And the city has no need of the sun, nor the moon, that they may shine on her, for the glory of God gave light to her, and the lamb is her lamp29. 24 And the nations will walk in30 her light31, and the kings of the earth will carry their glory into her. 25 And her gates will never be shut in the daytime, for there will be no night there32. 26 And they will carry the glory and the honor of the nations into her33. 27 And every unclean34 thing and the ones who do detestable things and lie may never go into her. Only35 the ones written in the lamb’s book of life will go in.36
1 ἐκ (of)
2 τῶν γεμόντων (filled with)
Greek: “full of”.
3 The passage parallels 17:1-3. There, an angel introduces the great prostitute riding a beast. The city there was Babylon/Rome. The vision here stands in contrast to Babylon as it describes the New Jerusalem. Therefore, the words of this passage are set forth to remind readers and hearers of Babylon in Chapter 17. Instead of a prostitute (Babylon) we see Jesus’ wife (New Jerusalem). Beale* (Pgs. 1063-1064).
4 μέγα (huge)
Greek: “great”. 5 Parallels with Exodus 19 and Ezekiel 40:1-2.
6 John was told that he would be shone the bride of the lamb, but he is shone the New Jerusalem! The language is figurative as it depicts the bride of Christ as a beautiful city.
The bride of the lamb is also the wife of the lamb. The church has been joined to Christ. The New Jerusalem, purified and transformed reflecting the new creation that began and built with each believer.
7 Both “city” and “Jerusalem” are feminine words in Greek. So, the pronouns are also feminine. I decided to translate the pronouns in the feminine which is not unusual in English.
8 ἔχουσαν (she held)
Greek: “holding” or “having”. 9 or “radiance” or “ brightness”. In other words, the city was shining.
10 The first part of the verse echoes Ezekiel 43:2. It is the glory of God that is making the City to shine. In 4:3-4, it is God whose appearance is like a Jasper stone. It is difficult to see how jasper can be transparent while being an opaque stone. It may be meant that the stone was shining. Osborne*** (Pg. 749). Mounce** says that the stone may actually be a diamond and that it is transparent. (Pg. 378).
The brilliance can signify the light of God that fills that city. It is clear as crystal for there is no impurity or imperfection in this place.
11 μέγα (huge)
12 Twelve gates are an allusion to Ezekiel 48:30-37. There, the gates are on the temple. Where as in Ezekiel the gates opened for tribes of Israel, here they are open to all. The angels may represent the watchmen in Isaiah 62:6, but not as guards since there is no more evil. They may be linked to the angels of the seven churches in Chapters 2-3. Osborne*** (Pg. 750).
13 ἐπιγεγραμμένα (written on)
Greek: “having been written on”.
14 “Names” may not be original to the text, thus it is shown is brackets.
15 ἔχων (had)
16 The foundations would have been large stones that would have been chosen for their beauty and strength. Osborne*** (Pg. 751).
17 It is interesting that the twelve apostles stand as the foundation of the City’s walls and not the tribes of Israel. Walls were necessary in the ancient world because they provided protection for the city and the city’s people. Maybe the meaning here is that the New Covenant which is based on Jesus’ teaching as well as the Apostles’ teaching provides the foundation for the protection for believers. With that said, there is no longer any need of protection as all of the evil is not destroyed. In Ephesians 2:20, the foundation of the church (God’s household) is the apostles and the prophets.
Osborne*** says it signifies that both the church and Israel are the entry point into the city. (Pgs. 751-752).
There seems to be a mixture of symbols that refer to the wall between the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles. The gates have the tribe names, but each gate was a single pearl echoing the kingdom of heaven as a pearl of great price, a New Testament symbol. The twelve foundations of that wall have the name of an apostle, just each gate has a name of one of the tribes.
Each stone on the breastplate of the high priest represented a tribe of Israel and served as a "signet", associated with each name, of that tribe. These stone appear in this wall. These jewels adorned the foundations of the wall.
We see the number 144 here, The last time we saw this number was in reference to the 144,000 sealed from the tribes of Israel earlier in this book.
Beale* points out that the names of the sons of Israel and the names of the apostles add up to 24 which has already been used with the 24 elders who are around God’s throne who are introduced in Chapter 4. (Pg. 1069). He goes on to say that the apostles are the foundation as in Christ, all of Israel’s promises have been fulfilled. The apostles are the foundation of the new Israel which is the Church. (Pg. 1070).
18 ὅσον (as long as)
Greek: “as great as”.
We see here the final measurement for the actual city done with a rod of gold. The rod of iron is no longer needed. This rod is used to measure the city of perfection.
19 As found in 14:20, a stadia was around 600 feet. That would make the city 1364 miles long, 1364 miles wide, and 1364 miles high. The number is figurative as we have a “super complete” or a “super perfection” measurement of the city: 12x10x10x10 to the third power (3)!
20 The City is laid out in a cube. Osborne*** points out that he Holy of Holies was also laid out in a cube. (Pg. 753).
21 Whether the wall is 144 cubits (216 feet) thick or 144 cubits (216 feet) high makes no difference as the wall is eclipsed by the size of the city. The 144 is also figurative for “complete” or “perfect” (12x12).
22 The actual Greek is crude: μέτρον ἀνθρώπου, ὅ ἐστιν ἀγγέλου (a measure of man, which is of an angel). It basically means that the measurement was based on a standard measuring unit used by humans. In this case, the angels use the same measuring unit as well. It can also be seen as a reminder that what John sees here is figurative in nature.
23 καθαρὸν (pure)
or “clean”. In this case, the gold had no impurities.
24 καθαρῷ (clear)
or “clean”. This is the same Greek word that was used in describing the “pure gold”.
25 κεκοσμημένοι (were adorned)
Greek: “having been adorned”.
26 There is debate over what the jewels stand for. Are they signs of the Zodiac or the jewels on the priest garment (So Beale* Pgs. 1080-1081). Perhaps the best way to see this is as Isaiah 54:11-13 portrays the restored Jerusalem; as a city built in splendor.
27 In other words, the pearls were so large that one gate could be made or carved from one pearl.
28 Osborne*** states that the city is the Holy of Holies itself. (Pg. 760). Also, see John 2:19.
This is supported by the idea of no temple being present. The Holy of Holies is where God dwells.
29 An allusion to Isaiah 60:19.
30 διὰ (in)
Those that walk in the light are of the the light. The light of the world is fully revealed.
31 The TR adds τῶν σωζομένων (the ones who are saved) after “the nations”.
32 In ancient times, city gates were shut at night.
33 These two verses are allusions to Isaiah 60:3, 5, 11. The Kings of the earth will not bring riches into the city, they will bring themselves into the city to praise and worship God. Beale* (Pg. 1095). There is basically a dual picture here as the bride is the city as well as the people (being represented here as the nations). It is meant to be taken figuratively.
It is also possible that the New Jerusalem is alive and well today and that the bride has made herself ready for the bride-groom through out the church age. Since the New Jerusalem is Jesus’ bride, it is the light of the witness of the of believers (the church) who light the way for all of those who don’t believe, for it is the light of the city in which the nations walk by. In Chapter one, we see the image of lambstands and we see in 2:1-7 that Ephesus’ lampstand (witness) would be removed from its place if they didn’t fix their compromising attitude.
The new creation is underway. God will dwell in the New Jerusalem. Today, He dwells in the heart of each believer prior to the revealing that is to come. It is the light of the Holy Spirit that binds us into the body of Christ. It is this light which shines in our hearts and lights the way. Jesus walked among the lampstands and supplied the light they gave forth. No other light is necessary, nor will be.
We are new creatures in Christ, born from above, made spiritually alive. We await in Spirit for the One Who was raised in a perfected body. We will see Him and we will be like Him. Heaven and earth are combined. This is the promise of life and where we place our faith. It is His Spirit that confirms this and He will do it.
34 κοινὸν (unclean)
or “common”. The represents a shift in John’s vocabulary. Up unto now, John has used ἀκάθαρτος to portray unclean things.
35 εἰ μὴ (only)
36 The final verse of this passage is a reminder to those who this book was written to as well as us that unbelievers can not enter the Holy City of God, nor can they be the Lamb’s bride.
NT = New Testament
OT = Old Testament
ESV = English Standard Version
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV)
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)