|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:9-21 God has various employments for his holy angels. Sometimes they sound the trumpet of Divine Providence, and warn a careless world; sometimes they discover things of a heavenly nature of the heirs of salvation. Those who would have clear views of heaven, must get as near to heaven as they can, on the mount of meditation and faith. The subject of the vision is the church of God in a perfect, triumphant state, shining in its lustre; glorious in relation to Christ; which shows that the happiness of heaven consists in intercourse with God, and in conformity to him. The change of emblems from a bride to a city, shows that we are only to take general ideas from this description. The wall is for security. Heaven is a safe state; those who are there, are separated and secured from all evils and enemies. This city is vast; here is room for all the people of God. The foundation of the wall; the promise and power of God, and the purchase of Christ, are the strong foundations of the safety and happiness of the church. These foundations are set forth by twelve sorts of precious stones, denoting the variety and excellence of the doctrines of the gospel, or of the graces of the Holy Spirit, or the personal excellences of the Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven has gates; there is a free admission to all that are sanctified; they shall not find themselves shut out. These gates were all of pearls. Christ is the Pearl of great price, and he is our Way to God. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. The saints in heaven tread gold under foot. The saints are there at rest, yet it is not a state of sleep and idleness; they have communion, not only with God, but with one another. All these glories but faintly represent heaven.
Verse 14. - And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; and on them twelve names, etc. (cf. Ephesians 2:20). The imagery is, of course, symbolical, and there can, therefore, be no question as to individual names of apostles, e.g. whether St. Matthias or St. Paul is the twelfth. Some writers have, without sufficient reason, brought forward this verse as indicating that the writer of the Apocalypse was not an apostle.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,.... Christ is the one and only foundation of his church and people, of the covenant of grace, and of salvation; and of faith, hope, peace, and joy, and of eternal happiness, and so of this glorious state of the church; he will be the light and temple of it, the glory and safety of it; he will be all in all in it; but because he has been ministerially laid as the foundation, by the twelve apostles, for men to build their present and future happiness upon, therefore the foundations of the wall of salvation are said to be twelve; see Ephesians 2:20. Moreover, this may denote the firm and immovable state of the church at this time, it being a city which has foundations, or is well founded, Hebrews 11:10 with which compare Isaiah 14:32. Hence it follows,
and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The Alexandrian copy, Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Arabic versions, read, "the twelve names of the twelve apostles"; the allusion seems to be to the inscribing of the names of builders on stones laid in the foundation, in memory of them; and so these wise master builders will be had in everlasting remembrance.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. twelve foundations—Joshua, the type of Jesus, chose twelve men out of the people, to carry twelve stones over the Jordan with them, as Jesus chose twelve apostles to be the twelve foundations of the heavenly city, of which He is Himself the Chief corner-stone. Peter is not the only apostolic rock on whose preaching Christ builds His Church. Christ Himself is the true foundation: the twelve are foundations only in regard to their apostolic testimony concerning Him. Though Paul was an apostle besides the twelve, yet the mystical number is retained, twelve representing the Church, namely thirty the divine number, multiplied by four, the world number.
in them the names, &c.—As architects often have their names inscribed on their great works, so the names of the apostles shall be held in everlasting remembrance. Vulgate reads, "in them." But A, B, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas read, "upon them." These authorities also insert "twelve" before "names."
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