Revelation 21:1
And 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXI.

THE FINAL REGENERATION.—ALL THINGS NEW: NEW HEAVENS; NEW EARTH; NEW JERUSALEM (Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5).

THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH.

(1) And I saw a new heaven . . .—The hope of the renewal and restitution of all things had been long cherished. Earlier prophets had sanctioned the hope: Isaiah had told of new heavens and new earth (Isaiah 65:17); Ezekiel had closed his prophecy with the splendid vision of a renewed land of promise (Ezekiel 40-48); Christ Himself had spoken of the era which He inaugurated as the regeneration (Matthew 19:28); His followers soon caught the truth that the outcome of the gospel age would be the realisation of all those marvellous visions with which prophets had sustained the fainting hopes of the people of God. The hope was not to be for ever receding as new height after height was surmounted. It will not always be said, “The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth” (Ezekiel 12:22). The fulfilment may seem to tarry; the unbelieving might doubt or scoff (Matthew 24:43; 1Thessalonians 5:2; 2Peter 3:4); but those who felt that the gospel was a power of spiritual regeneration, making all things new (2Corinthians 5:17), learned to look forward to the widest and fullest restoration, and to expect new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2Peter 3:13). The characteristic word which runs throughout the description is the word “new.” All things are to be made new: the heavens and earth are new; the Jerusalem is new. There are two words which are translated new in our English version: one of these (neos) relates to time; the other (kainos) relates to quality. The one would be applied to what had recently come into existence; the other to what showed fresh features. The tomb, for example, in which our Lord’s body was laid was new, not in the sense that it had been recently hewn out of the rock, but in the sense that it had never been used before; it may have been long made, but it was one wherein never man was yet laid. To describe it the second word (kainos) is used (Matthew 27:60 and John 19:41). In the same way, the wine-skins (called “bottles” in our English version) required for the new wine were not necessarily wine-skins only just prepared for service, but they were skins which had not grown withered, but retained their freshness and elasticity. Here, again, the second word (kainos) is employed to describe them. Now, it is this latter word which is used throughout this chapter, and, indeed, throughout the book of Revelation. The newness which is pictured is the newness of freshness: the old, decaying, enfeebling, and corrupting elements are swept away. The aspects and features which will surround the inhabitants of that new earth will be full of novelty to satisfy the progressive instincts of our nature; but the imagery no less conveys the assurance that the conservative instinct, which clings to what is old, and finds sanctity in the past, will not be disregarded. All things may be new, full of fresh and fair beauty; but all things will not be strange; there must be some correspondency between the old and the new, when the new things are called new heavens, new earth, new Jerusalem. The description is figurative, but the spirit of it implies that in the restitution age the sweetness of things loved and familiar will blend with the charm of all that is fresh and new.

And there was no more sea.—Or, better, And the sea is (exists) not any more. Among the more detailed features of the new earth, this obliteration of the sea stands first. It is strange that so many commentators should vacillate between literal and figurative interpretations of the chapter; the ornaments and decorations of the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10-21) are treated as symbolical; the annihilation of the sea is considered as literal. It is wiser to leave the literal meaning to the future, and to grasp the spiritual teachings, which are of infinite and present interest, The sea has played an important part in the symbolism of the book: out of the sea rose the wild beast (Revelation 13:1); the purple-clad Babylon sat enthroned upon many waters (Revelation 17:1); the restless, tumultuous ocean, now discordant with its clamorous waves, now flooding the earth in confederate force; the troubled sea of evil, which cannot rest, and casts up but mire and dirt (Isaiah 57:21), is no more to be found on the face of that earth, or near that city whose peace is as a river, and whose righteousness as the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:18), and whose inhabitants are delivered from “the waves of this troublesome world.”

Revelation



THE NEW JERUSALEM ON THE NEW EARTH


Revelation 21:1-7; Revelation 21:22-27The ‘new Jerusalem’ can be established only under a ‘new heaven’ and on a ‘new earth.’ The Seer naturally touches on these before he describes it. And the fact that they come into view here as supplying the field for it makes the literal interpretation of their meaning the more probable. If ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ means a renovated condition of humanity, what difference is there between it and the New Jerusalem planted in it? We have to remember the whole stream of Old and New Testament representation, according to which the whole material creation is ‘subject to vanity,’ and destined for a deliverance. Modern astronomy has seen worlds in flames in the sky, and passing by a fiery change into new forms; and the possibility of the heavens being dissolved, the elements melted with fervent heat, and a new heavens and new earth emerging, cannot be disputed. In what sense are they ‘new’? ‘New’ here, as the application of it to Jerusalem may show, does not mean just brought into existence, but renovated, made fresh, and implies, rather than denies, the fact of previous existence. So, throughout Scripture, the re-constitution of the material world, by which it passes from the bondage of corruption into ‘the liberty of the glory of the children of God’ is taught, and the final seat of the city of God is set forth as being, not some far-off, misty heaven in space, but ‘that new world which is the old.’

‘And the sea is no more’ probably is to be taken in a symbolic sense, as shadowing forth the absence of unruly power, of mysterious and hostile forces, of estranging gulfs of separation. Into this renovated world the renovated city floats down from God. It has been present with Him, before its manifestation on earth, as all things that are to be manifested in time dwell eternally in the Divine mind, and as it had been realized in the person of the ascended Christ. When He comes down from heaven again, the city comes with Him. It is the ‘new Jerusalem,’ inasmuch as the ideas which were partially embodied in the old Jerusalem find complete and ennobled expression in it. The perfect state of perfect humanity is represented by that society of God’s servants, of which the ancient Zion was a symbol. In it all the glowing stream of prophecy dealing with the ‘bridal of the earth and of the sky,’ the marriage of perfect manhood with the perfect King, is fulfilled.

II. The vision is supplemented by words explanatory to the Seer of what he beheld {vs. 3, 4}, and all turns on two great thoughts - the blessed closeness of union now perfected and made eternal between God and men, and the consequent dawning of a new, unsetting day in which all human ills shall be swept away.

The former promise is cast in Old Testament mould, as are almost all the symbols and prophecies of this Book of Revelation. In outward form the tabernacle had stood in the centre of the wilderness encampment, and in the symbol of the Shekinah, God had dwelt with Israel, and they had been, in name, and by outward separation and consecration, His people. In the militant state of the Church on the old earth, God had dwelt with His people in reality, but with, alas! many a break in the intercourse caused by His people defiling the temple. But in that future all that was symbol shall be spiritual reality, and there will be no separation between the God who tabernacles among men and the men in whom He dwells. The mutual relation of possession of each other shall be perfect and perpetual. That is the brightest hope for us, and from it all other blessedness flows. His presence drives away all evils, as the risen moon clears the sky of clouds. How can sorrow, or crying, or pain, or death, live where He is, as He will be in the perfected city? The undescribable future is best described by the negation of all that is sad and a foe to life. Reverse the miseries of earth, and you know something of the joys of heaven. But begin with God’s presence, or you will know nothing of their most joyful joy.

III. The great voice speaks again, proclaiming the guarantees of the vision, and the conditions of possessing its fruition {vs. 5-7}.

How can we be sure that these radiant hopes are better than delusions, lights thrown on the black curtain of the unknown future by the reflection of our own imaginations? Only because He that sitteth on the throne,’ and is therefore sovereign over all things, has declared that He will ‘make all things new.’ His power and faithful word are the sole guarantees. Therefore seers may write, and we may read, and be sure that when heaven and earth pass away His word shall not only not pass away, but bring the new heavens and the new earth. So sure is the fulfilment, that already, to the divine mind, these things ‘are come to pass.’ Faith may share in the divine prerogative of seeing things that are not as though they were, and make the future present. He who is Alpha, the beginning, from whom are all things, is Omega, the end, to whom are all things. There lies the security that the drift of the universe is towards God, its source, and that at last man, who came from God, will come back to God, and Eden be surpassed by the new Jerusalem.

The conditions of entering the city are gathered up in words which recall many strains of prophecy and promise. Thirst is the condition of drinking of the water of life - as John the Evangelist delights to tell that Jesus said by the well at Samaria and in the temple court. Conflict and victory make His children heirs of these things, as the Christ had spoken by the Spirit to the churches. The Christian victory perfects the paternal and filial relation between God and us. And all three promises are but variations of the answer to the question: How can I become a citizen of that city of God?

IV. A fuller description, highly symbolical in colouring, of the city, comes next {vs. 22-27}, on which space will only allow us to remark that we have, first, two representations, in each of which the city’s glory is expressed by the absence from it of a great good, occasioned by the presence of a greater, of which the lesser was but a shadowy similitude.

There is no temple, no outward shrine, no place of special communion, no dependence on externals, because the communion with God and the Lamb is perfect, continuous, spiritual. There is no sun, moon, nor artificial light, for far brighter than their feeble beams is the light in which the citizens see light. That light is perpetual, and no night ever darkens the sky. That light draws all men to it. Possibly the Seer thinks of kings and nations as still subsisting, but more probably he carries over the features of the old earth into the new, in order to express the great hope that all shall be drawn to the light, and royalties and nations be merged in citizenship. One solemn word limits the universality of the vision. Nothing excludes but uncleanness, but that does exclude. The roll of citizens is the Lamb’s book of life, and we may all have our names written there. Only we must be pure, thirsty for the water of life, and fight and conquer through Jesus.

Revelation

NO MORE SEA

Revelation 21:1‘I John,’ says the Apocalypse at its commencement, ‘was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the testimony of Jesus.’ In this, the one prophetic book of the New Testament, we find the same fact that meets us in the old prophecies, that the circumstances of the prophet colour, and become the medium for, the representation of the spiritual truths that he has to speak. All through the book we hear the dash of the waves. There was ‘a sea of fire mingled with glass before the throne.’ The star Wormwood fell ‘upon the sea.’ Out of the sea the beast rises. When the great angel would declare the destruction of Babylon, he casts a mighty stone into the ocean, and says, ‘Thus suddenly shall Babylon be destroyed.’ And when John hears the voice of praise of the redeemed, it is ‘like the voice of many waters,’ as well as like the voice of ‘harpers harping on their harps.’ And then, when there dawns at the close of the vision, the bright and the blessed time which has yet to come, the ‘new heavens and the new earth’ are revealed to him; and that sad and solitary and estranging ocean that raged around his little rock sanctuary has passed away for ever. I suppose I need not occupy your time in showing that this is a symbol; that it does not mean literal fact at all; that it is not telling us anything about the geography of a future world, but that it is the material embodiment of a great spiritual truth.

Now what is meant by this symbol is best ascertained by remembering how the sea appears in the Old Testament. The Jew was not a sailor. All the references in the Old Testament, and especially in the prophets, to the great ocean are such as a man would make who knew very little about it, except from having looked at it from the hills of Judea, and having often wondered what might be lying away out yonder at the point where sky and sea blended together. There are three main things which it shadows forth in the Old Testament. It is a symbol of mystery, of rebellious power, of perpetual unrest. And it is the promise of the cessation of these things which is set forth in that saying, There was no more sea.’ There shall be no more mystery and terror. There shall be no more ‘the floods lifting up their voice,’ and the waves dashing with impotent foam against the throne of God. There shall be no more the tossing and the tumult of changing circumstances, and no more the unrest and disquiet of a sinful heart. There shall be the ‘new heavens and the new earth.’ The old humanity will be left, and the relation to God will remain, deepened and glorified and made pure. But all that is sorrowful and all that is rebellious, all that is mysterious and all that is unquiet, shall have passed away for ever.

I. Let us then, by way of illustrating this great and blessed promise, consider it first as the revelation of a future in which there shall be no more painful mystery.

‘Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.’ ‘Thy judgments are a mighty deep.’ ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! ‘Such is the prevailing tone of expression when the figure appears either in the Old or in the New Testament.

Most natural is it. There are, too, sources of obscurity there. We look out upon the broad ocean, and far away it seems to blend with air and sky. Mists come up over its surface. Suddenly there rises on the verge of the horizon a white sail that was not there a moment ago; and we wonder, as we look out from our hills, what may be beyond these mysterious waters. And to these ancient peoples there were mysteries which we do not feel. Whither should they come, if they were to venture on its untried tides? And then, what lies in its sunless caves that no eyes have seen? It swallows up life and beauty and treasure of every sort, and engulfs them all in its obstinate silence. They go down in the mighty waters and vanish as they descend. What would it be if these were drained off? What revelations - wild sea-valleys and mountain-gorges; the dead that are in it, the power that lies there, all powerless now, the wealth that has been lost in it! What should we see if depth and distance were annihilated, and we beheld what there is out yonder and what there is down there?

And is not our life, brethren, ringed round in like manner with mystery? And, alas! wherever to a poor human heart there is mystery, there will be terror.

The unknown is ever the awful. Where there is not certain knowledge, imagination works to people the waste places with monsters. There is a double limitation of our knowledge. There are mysteries that come from the necessary limitation of our faculties; and there are mysteries that come from the incompleteness of the revelation which God has been pleased to make. The eye is weak and the light is dim. There is much that lies beyond the horizon which our eyes cannot reach. There is much that lies covered by the deeps, which our eyes could reach if the deeps were away. We live - the wisest of us live - having great questions wrestling with us like that angel that wrestled with the patriarch in the darkness till the morning broke. We learn so little but our own ignorance, and we know so little but that we know nothing. There are the hard and obstinate knots that will not be untied; we bend all our faculties to them, and think they are giving a little bit, and they never give; and we gnaw at them, like the viper at the file, and we make nothing of it, but blunt our teeth!

Oh! to some hearts here, surely this ought to come as not the least noble and precious of the thoughts of what that future life is - ‘there shall be no more sea’; and the mysteries that come from God’s merciful limitation of our vision, and some of the mysteries that come from God’s wise and providential interposition of obstacles to our sight, shall have passed away. It is no dream, my brethren I Why, think how the fact of dying will solve many a riddle! how much more we shall know by shifting our position! ‘There must be wisdom with great Death,’ and he ‘keeps the keys of all the creeds.’ Try to conceive how some dear one that was beside us but a moment ago, perhaps but little conscious of his own ignorance, and knowing but little of God’s ways, thinking as we did, and speaking as we did, and snared with errors as we were, has grown at a bound into full stature, and how a flood of new knowledge and Divine truth rushes into the heart the moment it passes the grave I If they were to speak to us, perhaps we should not understand their new speech, so wise have they become who have died.

What mysteries have passed into light for them? I know not. Who can tell what strange enlargement of faculty this soul of ours is capable of? Who can tell how much of our blindness comes from the flesh that clogs us, from the working of the animal nature that is so strong in us? Who can tell what unknown resources and what possibilities of new powers there lie all dormant and unsuspected in the beggar on the dunghill, and in the idiot in the asylum? This, at least, we are sure of: we shall ‘know, even as also we are known.’ God will not be fathomed, but God will be known. God will be incomprehensible, but there will be no mystery in God, except that most blessed mystery of feeling that the fullness of His nature still surpasses our comprehension. Questions that now fill the whole horizon of our minds will have shrunk away into a mere point, or been answered by the very change of position. How much of the knowledge’s of earth will have ceased to be applicable, when the first light-beam of heaven falls upon them! Those problems which we think so mysterious - why God is doing this or that with us and the world; what is the meaning of this and the other sorrow - what will have become of these? We shall look back and see that the bending line was leading straight as an arrow-flight, home to the centre, and that the end crowns and vindicates every step of the road. Something of the mystery of God will have been resolved, for man hath powers undreamed of yet, and ‘we shall see Him as He is.’ Much of the mystery of man, and of man’s relation to God, will have ceased; for then we shall understand all the way, when we have entered into the true sanctuary of God.

Men that love to know, let me ask you, where do you get the fulfilment, often dreamed of, of your desires, except here? Set this before you, as the highest truth for us: Christ is the beginning of all wisdom on earth. Starting thence I can hope to solve the remaining mysteries when I stand at last, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, in the presence of the great light of God.

Not that we shall know everything, for that were to cease to be finite. And if ever the blasphemous boast come true that tempted man once, ‘Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,’ there were nothing left for the soul that was filled with all knowledge but to lie down and pant its last. It needs, by our very nature, and for our blessedness, that there should be much unknown. It needs that we should ever be pressing forward. Only, the mysteries that are left will have no terror nor pain in them. ‘There shall be no more sea,’ but we shall climb ever higher and higher up the mountain of God, and as we climb see farther and farther into the blessed valleys beyond, and ‘shall know, even as we are known.’

II. Secondly, the text tells us of a state that is to come, when there shall be no more rebellious power.

In the Old Testament the floods are often compared with the rage of the peoples, and the rebellion of man against the Will of God. ‘The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters; yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.’ ‘Thou stillest the noise of the waves, and the tumult of the people.’ In like manner that symbolic reference surely supplies one chief meaning of Christ’s miracle of stilling the tempest; the Peace-bringer bringing to peace the tumults of men. Here, then, the sea stands as the emblem of untamed power. It is lashed into yeasty foam, and drives before it great ships and huge stones like bulrushes, and seems to have a savage pleasure in eating into the slow-corroding land, and covering the beach with its devastation.

‘There shall be no more sea.’ God lets people work against His kingdom in this world. It is not to be always so, says my text. The kingdom of God is in the earth, and the kingdom of God admits of opposition. Strange! But the opposition, even here on earth, all comes to nothing. ‘Thou art mightier than the noise of many waters’; the floods ‘have lifted up their voice’; but Thou ‘sittest upon the floods, yea, Thou sittest king for ever.’ Yes, it is an experience repeated over and over again, in the history of individuals and in the history of the world. Men, fancying themselves free, resolved to be rebellious, get together and say, mutteringly at first, and then boldly and loudly, ‘Let us break His bands asunder, and cast away His cords from us.’ And God sits in seeming silence in His heavens, and they work on, and the thing seems to be prospering, and some men’s hearts begin to fail them for fear. The great Armada comes in its pride across the waters - and the motto that our England struck upon its medal, when that proud fleet was baffled, serves for the epitaph over all antagonism to God’s kingdom, ‘The Lord blew upon them, and they were scattered.’ The tossing sea, that rages against the will and purpose of the Lord, what becomes of all its foaming fury? Why, this becomes of it - the ark of God ‘moves on the face of the waters,’ and though wild tempests howl to beat it from its course, yet beneath all the surface confusion and commotion there is, as in the great mid-ocean, a silent current that runs steady and strong, and it carries the keel that goes deep enough down to rest in it, safely to its port. Men may work against God’s kingdom, the waves may rave and rage; but beneath them there is a mighty tidal sweep, and God’s purposes are wrought out, and God’s ark comes to ‘its desired haven,’ and all opposition is nugatory at the last.

But there comes a time, too, when there shall be no more violence of rebellious wills lifting themselves against God. Our text is a blessed promise that, in that holy state to which the Apocalyptic vision carries our longing hopes, there shall be the cessation of all strife against our best Friend, of all reluctance to wear His yoke whose yoke brings rest to the soul. The opposition that lies in all our hearts shall one day be subdued. The whole consent of our whole being shall yield itself to the obedience of sons, to the service of love. The wild rebellious power shall be softened into peace, and won to joyful acceptance of His law. In all the regions of that heavenly state, there shall be no jarring will, no reluctant submission. Its ‘solemn troops and sweet societies’ shall move in harmonious consent of according hearts, and circle His throne in continuousness of willing fealty. There shall be One will in heaven. ‘There shall be no more sea’; for ‘His servants serve Him,’ and the noise of the waves has died away for ever.

Before I pass on, let me appeal to you, my friend, on this matter. Here is the revelation for us of the utter hopelessness and vanity of all opposition to God. Oh! what a thought that is, that every life that sets itself against the Lord is a futile life, that it comes to nothing at last, that none hardens himself against God and prospers! It is true on the widest scale. It is true on the narrowest. It is true about all those tempests that have risen up against God’s Church and Christ’s Gospel, like ‘waves of the sea foaming out their own shame,’ and never shaking the great rock that they break against. And it is true about all godless lives; about every man who carries on his work, except in loving obedience to his Father in heaven. There is one power in the world, and none else. When all is played out, and accounts are set right at the end, you will find that the power that seemed to be strong, if it stood against God, was weak as water and has done nothing, and is nothing! Do not waste your lives in a work that is self-condemned to be hopeless! Rather ally yourselves with the tendencies of God’s universe, and do the thing which will last for ever, and live the life that has hope of fruit that shall remain. Submit yourselves to God! Love Christ! Do His will! Put your faith in the Saviour to deliver you from your sins; and when the wild tossing of that great ocean of ungodly power and rebellious opposition is all hushed down into dead silence, you and your work will last and live hard by the stable throne of God.

III. Lastly, the text foretells a state of things in which there is no more disquiet and unrest.

The old, old figure which all the world, generation after generation in its turn, has spoken, is a Scriptural one as well, and enters into the fullness of the meaning of this passage before us. Life is a voyage over a turbulent sea; changing circumstances come rolling after each other, like the undistinguishable billows of the great ocean. Tempests and storms rise. There is wearisome sailing, no peace, but ‘ever climbing up the climbing wave.’ That is life! But for all that, friends, there is an end to it some day; and it is worth while for us to think about our island home, far, far beyond the sea.’ Surely some of us have learned the weariness of this changeful state, the weariness of the work and voyage of this world. Surely some of us are longing to find anchorage whilst the storm lasts, and a haven at the end. There is one, if only you will believe it, and set yourselves towards it. There is an end to all ‘the weary oar, the weary wandering fields of barren foam.’ On the shore stands the Christ; and there is rest there. There is no more sea, but unbroken rest, unchanging blessedness, perpetual stability of joy, and love in the Father’s house. Are we going there? Are we living for Christ? Are we putting our confidence in the Lord Jesus? Then, ‘He brings us to the desired haven.’

One thing more: not only does unrest come from the chaos of changing circumstances, but besides that, there is another source of disquiet, which this same symbol sets forth for us. ‘The wicked is like the troubled sea which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. That restless, profitless working of the great homeless, hungry, moaning ocean - what a picture it is of the heart of a man that has no Christ, that has no God, that has no peace by pardon! A soul all tossed with its own boiling passion, a soul across which there howl great gusts of temptation, a soul which works and brings forth nothing but foam and mire! Unrest, perpetual unrest is the lot of every man that is not God’s child.

Some of you know that. Well, then, think of one picture. A little barque pitching in the night, and one figure rises quietly up in the stern, and puts out a rebuking hand, and speaks one mighty word, ‘Peace be still.’ And the word was heard amid all the hurly-burly of the tempest, and the waves crouched at His feet like dogs to their master. It is no fancy, brethren, it is a truth. Let Christ speak to your hearts, and there is peace and quietness. And if He do that, then your experience will be like that described in the grand old Psalm, ‘Though the waters roar and be troubled, and though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, yet will we not fear,’ for the city stands fast, in spite of the waves that curl round its lowest foundations. Death, death itself, will be but the last burst of the expiring storm, the last blast of the blown-out tempest. And then, the quiet of the green inland valleys of our Father’s land, where no tempest comes any more, nor the loud winds are ever heard, nor the salt sea is ever seen; but perpetual calm and blessedness; all mystery gone, and all rebellion hushed and silenced, and all unrest at an end for ever! ‘No more sea,’ but, instead of that wild and yeasty chaos of turbulent waters, there shall be ‘the river that makes glad the city of God,’ the river of water of life, that ‘proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.’ Revelation 21:1-3. And I saw — So it runs, Revelation 19:11; Revelation 20:1; Revelation 20:4; Revelation 20:11, in a succession. All these several visions follow one another in order, and this vision reaches into eternity; a new heaven and a new earth — That is, after the foregoing visions, in which I beheld a representation of the state of the church and world to the consummation of all things, I had the final happiness of the true worshippers of God, to be enjoyed after the resurrection and the general judgment, represented to me in a new vision, in which I beheld a perfectly new state of things; the heaven and earth, in which we now live, being quite passed away, melted with fervent heat and dissolved in fire, there was a new heaven and a new earth, in which I perceived one thing very remarkable, that there was no more sea — A circumstance which, whether it be effected by the means which the theorists of the earth (see Burnet’s and Whiston’s theory) have prescribed, or by any other, time, or rather eternity, must show; for it is evident from hence that this new heaven and earth are not designed to take place till after the general judgment; for at that judgment, (Revelation 20:13,) the sea gives up the dead which were in it. Many, however, understand the expression figuratively, that there shall be no troubles or commotions in the world; but it seems much more probable that it is to be understood literally. And I saw the holy city — The new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem, are closely connected. This city is wholly new, belonging, not to this world, not to the millennium, but to eternity. This appears from the series of the vision, the magnificence of the description, and the opposition of this city to the second death, Revelation 20:11-12; Revelation 21:1-2; Revelation 21:5; Revelation 21:8-9; Revelation 22:5. Coming down — In the very act of descending; from God — Its maker and builder; out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband — Prepared to meet him, with all her charms set out to the greatest advantage, and full of glory and splendour. At the commencement of the millennium it was said, (Revelation 19:7,) the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. At the conclusion of the millennium, Gog and Magog went up against the beloved city; and here it is represented as the metropolis of the new heaven and the new earth. The new Jerusalem shall be the habitation of the saints of the first resurrection, and it shall also be the habitation of the saints of the general resurrection; the church of Christ shall endure through all times and changes of this world, and shall exist eternally in the world to come. It shall be glorious upon earth during the millennium, and it shall be more glorious still in the new earth after the millennium, to all eternity. Earth shall then become as heaven, or rather it shall be heaven on earth; God dwelling visibly among men, and sin and suffering being for ever done away. For the apostle adds, I heard a great voice out of heaven — A voice proceeding from the eternal Word and Son of the Father; saying, Behold the tabernacle of God with men! — So it is in the original, there being nothing for the verb is; and he will dwell with them — In token of his favour and great love to them; and they shall be his people — Protected and governed by him; and God himself shall be with them — Continually, as their Friend and Father; and he shall be their God — Their supreme good and final portion, their all in all.21:1-8 The new heaven and the new earth will not be separate from each other; the earth of the saints, their glorified, bodies, will be heavenly. The old world, with all its troubles and tumults, will have passed away. There will be no sea; this aptly represents freedom from conflicting passions, temptations, troubles, changes, and alarms; from whatever can divide or interrupt the communion of saints. This new Jerusalem is the church of God in its new and perfect state, the church triumphant. Its blessedness came wholly from God, and depends on him. The presence of God with his people in heaven, will not be interrupt as it is on earth, he will dwell with them continually. All effects of former trouble shall be done away. They have often been in tears, by reason of sin, of affliction, of the calamities of the church; but no signs, no remembrance of former sorrows shall remain. Christ makes all things new. If we are willing and desirous that the gracious Redeemer should make all things new in order hearts and nature, he will make all things new in respect of our situation, till he has brought us to enjoy complete happiness. See the certainty of the promise. God gives his titles, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, as a pledge for the full performance. Sensual and sinful pleasures are muddy and poisoned waters; and the best earthly comforts are like the scanty supplies of a cistern; when idolized, they become broken cisterns, and yield only vexation. But the joys which Christ imparts are like waters springing from a fountain, pure, refreshing, abundant, and eternal. The sanctifying consolations of the Holy Spirit prepare for heavenly happiness; they are streams which flow for us in the wilderness. The fearful durst not meet the difficulties of religion, their slavish fear came from their unbelief; but those who were so dastardly as not to dare to take up the cross of Christ, were yet so desperate as to run into abominable wickedness. The agonies and terrors of the first death will lead to the far greater terrors and agonies of eternal death.And I saw a new heaven and a new earth - Such a heaven and earth that they might properly be called new; such transformations, and such changes in their appearance, that they seemed to be just created. He does not say that they were created now, or anew; that the old heavens and earth were annihilated; but all that he says is, that there were such changes that they seemed to be new. If the earth is to be renovated by fire, such a renovation will give an appearance to the globe as if it were created anew, and might be attended with such an apparent change in the heavens that they might be said to be new. The description here Revelation 21:1 relates to scenes after the general resurrection and the judgment - for those events are detailed in the close of the previous chapter. In regard to the meaning of the language here, see the notes on 2 Peter 3:13. Compare, also, "The Religion of Geology and its Connected Sciences," by Edward Hitchcock, D. D., LL. D., pp. 370-408.

For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away - They had passed away by being changed, and a renovated universe had taken their place. See the notes on 2 Peter 3:10.

And there was no more sea - This change struck John more forcibly, it would appear, than anything else. Now, the seas and oceans occupy about three-fourths of the surface of the globe, and, of course, to that extent prevent the world from being occupied by people - except by the comparatively small number that are mariners. There, the idea of John seems to be, the whole world will be inhabitable, and no part will be given up to the wastes of oceans. In the present state of things, these vast oceans are necessary to render the world a fit abode for human beings, as well as to give life and happiness to the numberless tribes of animals that find their homes in the waters. In the future state, it would seem, the present arrangement will be unnecessary; and if man dwells upon the earth at all, or if he visits it as a temporary abode (see the notes on 2 Peter 3:13), these vast wastes of water will be needless. It should be remembered that the earth, in its changes, according to the teachings of geology, has undergone many revolutions quite as remarkable as it would be if all the lakes, and seas, and oceans of the earth should disappear. Still, it is not certain that it was intended that this language should be understood literally as applied to the material globe. The object is to describe the future blessedness of the righteous; and the idea is, that that will be a world where there will be no such wastes as those produced by oceans.

CHAPTER 21

Re 21:1-27. The New Heaven and Earth: New Jerusalem Out of Heaven.

The remaining two chapters describe the eternal and consummated kingdom of God and the saints on the new earth. As the world of nations is to be pervaded by divine influence in the millennium, so the world of nature shall be, not annihilated, but transfigured universally in the eternal state which follows it. The earth was cursed for man's sake; but is redeemed by the second Adam. Now is the Church; in the millennium shall be the kingdom; and after that shall be the new world wherein God shall be all in all. The "day of the Lord" and the conflagration of the earth are in 2Pe 3:10, 11 spoken of as if connected together, from which many argue against a millennial interval between His coming and the general conflagration of the old earth, preparatory to the new; but "day" is used often of a whole period comprising events intimately connected together, as are the Lord's second advent, the millennium, and the general conflagration and judgment. Compare Ge 2:4 as to the wide use of "day." Man's soul is redeemed by regeneration through the Holy Spirit now; man's body shall be redeemed at the resurrection; man's dwelling-place, His inheritance, the earth, shall be redeemed perfectly at the creation of the new heaven and earth, which shall exceed in glory the first Paradise, as much as the second Adam exceeds in glory the first Adam before the fall, and as man regenerated in body and soul shall exceed man as he was at creation.

1. the first—that is the former.

passed away—Greek, in A and B is "were departed" (Greek, "apeelthon," not as in English Version, "pareelthe").

was—Greek, "is," which graphically sets the thing before our eyes as present.

no more sea—The sea is the type of perpetual unrest. Hence our Lord rebukes it as an unruly hostile troubler of His people. It symbolized the political tumults out of which "the beast" arose, Re 13:1. As the physical corresponds to the spiritual and moral world, so the absence of sea, after the metamorphosis of the earth by fire, answers to the unruffled state of solid peace which shall then prevail. The sea, though severing lands from one another, is now, by God's eliciting of good from evil, made the medium of communication between countries through navigation. Then man shall possess inherent powers which shall make the sea no longer necessary, but an element which would detract from a perfect state. A "river" and "water" are spoken of in Re 22:1, 2, probably literal (that is, with such changes of the natural properties of water, as correspond analogically to man's own transfigured body), as well as symbolical. The sea was once the element of the world's destruction, and is still the source of death to thousands, whence after the millennium, at the general judgment, it is specially said, "The sea gave up the dead … in it." Then it shall cease to destroy, or disturb, being removed altogether on account of its past destructions.Revelation 21:1 A new heaven and a new earth.

Revelation 21:2 The new Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:3-7 The blessedness of God’s people.

Revelation 21:8 The judgment of the wicked.

Revelation 21:9-27 A description of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Chapter Introduction

This chapter begins with the vision of the new heaven and the new earth, by which all understand a new state of the church, but are divided in their opinions, whether what is spoken be to be understood of the church militant upon the earth, or of the church triumphant in heaven. Those who understand it of the church militant here upon earth, are divided in their opinions as to that period of the church which is here spoken of; some understanding it of the thousand years after the time of Constantine, for which I see no reason (nor, I believe, will any that wisely considers the state of the church in that time); others understanding it of the thousand years mentioned Revelation 20:1-3, in which (as was said) the church should enjoy great quiet and peace. I must confess I choose much rather to agree with them who judge it signifieth the church triumphant, being overcome with the reasons given by those reverend authors, a summary of which may be found in Mr. Pool’s Latin Synopsis.

1. That interpretation carrieth on the history in order; whereas, according to the other, we must say the history, Revelation 20:1-5, was interrupted by the battle with Gog and Magog, and the account of the day of judgment, Revelation 21:7,15.

2. In reason, as the close of the former chapter gave us an account of the issue of the day of judgment, as to wicked men, so this should give us some account how it should fare with the saints.

3. We shall find some things in the new Jerusalem here described, which will agree to no state of the church upon earth: see Revelation 21:22,23.

A new heaven and a new earth; a new and glorious state of things relating to the church.

For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea; for now there was an end to the world, and all the troubles that the people of God had met with in it, as well as the material earth, heaven, and sea, were passed away. This new heaven was prophesied of of old by Isaiah, and more lately by Peter, 2 Peter 3:13.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,.... This vision relates to a glorious state of the church, not in the times of the apostles, or first dispensation of the Gospel; when the old Jewish church state, with its ordinances, rites, and ceremonies, passed away, and a new church state, a new dispensation, new ordinances, and a new people, took place; and when saints came not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; and when God tabernacled and dwelt with men in particular churches and congregations; and the curse of the law and the sting of death were taken away by Christ, and there was no condemnation to them that were in him; which is the sense of some: but death did not then cease, it has reigned over men in common ever since, in a natural way, and immediately upon that dispensation arose persecution unto death, both by Jews and Gentiles; and for the first three hundred years, instead death being no more, and sorrow and sighing fleeing away, there was scarce anything else: nor can it be said that there was no temple, or places of pubic worship, or that the church had no need of the sun and moon of the Gospel and Gospel ordinances then, since these have continued ever since, and will to the end of the world; nor did the kings of the earth bring their honour and glory into that church state in any sense, but set themselves against it, and endeavoured to destroy it; nor were the churches even of that age so pure as here described, Revelation 21:27 many persons both of bad principles and bad practices crept into them; there were tares among the wheat, goats among the sheep, and foolish virgins with the wise: nor does this vision refer to the times of Constantine, when the old Pagan idolatry was removed out of the empire, and the Christian religion was revived, and came to be in a flourishing condition, and a new face of things appeared, and Christianity was embraced and honoured by the emperor, and the great men of the earth; there was not that purity as in this state; the Christian doctrine and worship were soon corrupted, being mixed with Judaism and Paganism; a flood of errors was brought in by Arius, Eutychius, Nestorius, Macedonius, and Pelagius, and others; yea, doctrines of devils, and which at length issued in a general apostasy, and in the revelation of the man of sin; nor was there that peace and comfort, and freedom from evils, as from death, pain, and sorrow; witness the Arian persecution, the incursions of the Goths and Vandals into the empire, and the inhuman butcheries and numerous massacres and murders of the Popish party since. Nor has this vision anything to do with the conversion and restoration of the Jews, when they will become a new people, quit their old principles and modes of worship, and there will be no more among them the sea of corrupt doctrine, respecting the Messiah, the works of the law, &c. for this will be over before this vision takes place, as appears from the 19th chapter: nor does it belong to the spiritual reign of Christ, which will be in the present earth, whereas this glorious state of the church will be in the new heavens and new earth; that will be at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and in the Philadelphian church state, this will not be till prophetic time and antichristian times will be no more, when the mystery of God will be finished, and after the Laodicean state is at an end; in that there will be public worship, the ministry of the word, and administration of ordinances, but not in this; and though there will be then great spirituality and holiness, yet not in perfection, nor will the churches be clear of hypocrites and nominal professors, and will at last sink into a Laodicean state. Nor is this vision to be interpreted of the church triumphant in heaven, or of the ultimate glory of the saints there; since the new Jerusalem here described descends from heaven, that is, to earth, where the saints will reign with Christ; and since the church is represented as a bride, prepared and adorned for her husband, but not as yet at the entrance of this state, delivered up to him; and since the tabernacle of God is said to be with men, that is, on earth; and this dwelling of God with them is as in a tabernacle, which is movable, and seems to be distinct from the fixed state of the saints in the ultimate glory; to which may be added, that in this state, Christ, as King of saints, will be peculiarly and distinctly glorified, whereas in the ultimate one, when the kingdom is delivered to the Father, God will be all in all: this therefore is to be understood of the glorious state of the church during the thousand years of Satan's binding, and the saints' living and reigning with Christ; the holy city, and new Jerusalem, is the same with the beloved city in Revelation 20:9 what is there briefly hinted, is here largely described and insisted on; this will be the time and state when the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, will first meet together, and be brought to Christ, and be presented by him to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, and Christ will reign gloriously among them: the seat of this church state will be the "new heaven" and "new earth" which John saw, and which are the same that Peter speaks of, in which dwelleth righteousness, or in which righteous persons only dwell, 2 Peter 3:13 for as the first heaven and earth both here and there are to be understood literally, so in like manner the new heaven and new earth; which will be new, not with respect to the substance, but their qualities; they will be renewed, or purged from everything that is disagreeable, and is the effect of the sin of man; the first heaven and earth were made chiefly for men, but, on account of the sin of man, the earth was cursed, and brought forth thorns and thistles, and both the earth and air, or the heaven, were attended with noxious vapours, &c. and the whole creation was made subject to vanity and corruption; from all which they will be cleared at the general conflagration, and a new earth and heaven will appear, fit for the habitation of the second Adam, and his posterity, for the space of a thousand years. So the Jews speak of new heavens, as "renewed" ones, which are the secrets of sublime wisdom (o): and they say (p), that the holy blessed God will renew his world a thousand years, and that in the seventh millennium there will be new heavens and a new earth (q):

for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; not those in Revelation 20:11 but the heaven and the earth which were first made, which passed away, as Peter also says, adding, with a great noise; meaning not as to their substance, but as to their form, fashion, and qualities:

and there was no more sea; which may be understood either as to the being of it; it was "exhausted", as the Ethiopic version renders it, being dried up by the conflagration; see Amos 7:4 and if Mr. Burnet's hypothesis can be supported, that the paradisiacal earth, or the earth fore the flood, was without a sea, that being made, with the mountains and hills, by the falling of the surface of the earth into the waters under it, there is a surprising agreement between that earth and this new one; but the Alexandrian copy reads, "and I saw the sea no more"; it might be in being, though John saw it not and since, at the end of the thousand years, the sea will give up the dead which are in it, it must be in being, unless it can be interpreted of the place where the sea was: wherefore it seems best to understand it with respect to its use and qualities; and that as the heaven and earth will pass away, not as to their substance, but quality, so in like manner the sea will be no more used for navigation, nor may it be a tumultuous and raging one, or have its flux and reflux, or its waters be salt, as now; the schoolmen say it will no more be a fluid, but will be consolidated into the globe as the sphere; and, in a mystical sense, there will be no more wicked men; tumultuous and turbulent men are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest, Isaiah 57:20 for in the new heavens and earth only righteous persons will dwell, 2 Peter 3:13.

(o) Zohar in Gen. fol. 5. 2. vid. Kimchi in lsa. lvi. 6. (p) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 92. 2. & Gloss. in ib. Zohar in Gen. fol. 69. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 150. 2.((q) Zohar in Gen. fol. 35. 3.

And {1} 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.

(1) Now follows the second part of the history prophetic of the future estate of the Church in heaven after the last judgment, to Re 21:2 - Re 22:5. In this are two things briefly declared. The station, seat, or place of it, Re 21:1. Then her state and condition, in the verses following. Before the state of the Church described, is set down the state of the whole world, that there shall b

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 21:1-8. John beholds a new heaven and a new earth, and the new Jerusalem when it descends from heaven. At this a mighty voice from heaven proclaims that this is the place where God will dwell with glorified men (Revelation 21:1-4). The enthroned God himself testifies to this, by declaring at the same time the eternal ruin awarded to the godless; and, meanwhile, an angel commissions John to write down the present words of Divine revelation (Revelation 21:5-8).

Οὐρανὸν καινὸν καὶ γὴν καινὴν, κ.τ.λ. Cf. Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22. The theological question as to whether the old world will pass away in such a manner, that from it, as a seed, the new will arise, or whether an absolutely new creation, after the entire annihilation of the old world, be referred to, is indeed to be decided least of all from the Apocalyptic description; yet this description[4255] is not opposed to the former view, which, according to Scripture,[4256] is more probable than the latter.[4257]

καὶ ἡ θάλασσα οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι. If the question be raised, why in the new world there will be no sea, such answers result—even though no allusion to the sea of nations be made here[4258]—as that by Andreas, that the cessation of earthly separations renders also navigation, together with the sea, unnecessary; by Beda, that by the conflagration of the world the sea may be dried up; by De Wette and Luthardt, that the new world will be formed by fire, as the old world issued from the water; by Ewald: “This opinion seems to have been derived peculiarly from the horror of the deep sea which the Israelites, Egyptians, and ancient Indians had derived from love of the land, confined within which they lived;” by Zull., that also in paradise there would be no sea, in connection with which Ew. ii. and Volkm. besides remark that the sea and the abyss of hell belong together, and that, therefore, in the new world, the one can no more have a place than the other. But every combination of sea and hell is incorrect,[4259] and according to Revelation 20:10; Revelation 20:15, the writer of the Apocalypse actually refers to an abyss of hell eternally existing with the new heaven and the new earth.

The form of these answers of itself shows that the question is only put improperly. The text has the words referring to the sea in the place where the passing away of the entire old world is recalled; here that is expressly said which, Revelation 20:11, was not expressly rendered prominent, that the sea also is no more, just as also the old earth and the old heaven. The tenor of the text, accordingly, does not forbid us thinking also of a new sea with the new earth.[4260] [See Note XCIV., p. 485.] Ἱερουσαλὴμ καινὴν. Also in Galatians 4:26, there is a statement concerning the ἄνω Ἱερουσ., but so that this idea, proceeding from the contrast to the νῦν Ἱερουσ., only gives concretely the ideal view of the heavenly, spiritual, and free character of the Church of believers. But in John the matter is different in a twofold respect; since, in the first place, he regards the new Jerusalem only after the history of the world, when the heaven and earth also are made new, and then regards the new Jerusalem as descending from heaven to earth.[4261]

καταβ. ἐκ τ. οὐρ. ἀπὸ τ. θ. The several prepositions, as Revelation 3:12, mark, first of all, what is purely local, then (ἀπὸ) the idea resulting to the personal τ. θ., that the holy city descends “from God,” as God has prepared it and sent it down. The variation is different, e. g., in John 11:1. In the expression Revelation 21:10, the local idea appears to prevail even in the ἐκ τ. θ.

ἡτοιμασμέν-g0- ην-g0-. “Prepared[4262] as a bride adorned for her husband.” Here already (cf. Revelation 21:9) the idea, according to which the new Jerusalem is regarded as the dwelling-place (cf. Revelation 21:3) of the Lamb’s bride, i.e., of the Church of glorified believers,[4263] passes over to that according to which the new Jerusalem itself—together with those dwelling therein—is regarded as the bride. While John sees the new Jerusalem descending from heaven, he hears a strong voice from heaven,[4264] which immediately interprets this introductory vision (cf. Revelation 21:9 sqq.) to the effect that this city descending from heaven is “the tabernacle of God with men,” in which God himself shall dwell with men, and refresh them after all the sorrow they have experienced on earth, as this is henceforth no longer possible.[4265] From the very beginning, therefore, the blessed mystery of the new Jerusalem is so interpreted that here the fulfilment is manifest (Revelation 10:7) of all that God had previously promised to his people through the prophets,[4266] as it is, in truth, the complete realization of the communion between God and his people existing already in time (cf. Revelation 21:7).

ὁ θάνατος, κ.τ.λ. Cf. Revelation 20:14.

πένθος. As in Revelation 18:8, the special particular of lamentation for the dead is here presented, in connection with ὁ θάνατος.

κραυγὴ. The vehement cry, possibly, at the experience of such acts of violence as are indicated at Revelation 13:10; Revelation 13:17, Revelation 2:10.[4267]

πόνος. As in the earthly life was endured with every form of θλιψις.

ὃτι πρῶτα ἀπῆλθαν. The reason conditioning all (cf. Revelation 21:1; Revelation 21:5).

What the heavenly voice interpreting the vision of John has announced, is now confirmed by the One himself who sits upon the throne,[4268] and that, too, in a double declaration (κ. εἷπεν, Revelation 21:5-6), since he proclaims as his work (Ἰδού, καινὰ ποιῶ πάντα, Revelation 21:5), what John beheld in Revelation 21:1,[4269] and had understood in Revelation 21:4 (ὅτι τ. πρῶτα ἀπῆλθαν) from the heavenly voice to be the presupposition of the blessedness of believers indicated in Revelation 21:3-4, but then—after the angel, meanwhile,[4270] had expressly commanded John (κ. λέγει, Revelation 21:5 b) to write down these trustworthy words of God himself, which contain the highest pledge of the future hope[4271]—the promise mentioned already in Revelation 21:3 sq. is expressed in the most definite manner (Ἐγὼ τῷ διψῶντι, κ.τ.λ., Revelation 21:6 sqq.) The latter, however, occurs in such a way that, in this declaration of God himself, there is found, besides the promise to the victor,[4272] also the corresponding threatening of the unbelieving (Revelation 21:8); and that this announcement, looking towards both sides, is introduced with an allusion to the majesty of the eternal God, because just upon this does the eternal end of all temporal development depend.[4273] The γέγοναν, however,[4274] which opens this entire declaration, puts it in immediate connection with the vision; for that which John had beheld, viz., the perishing of the old and the existence of the new world, is here proclaimed as having happened.

δειλοῖς. By this such Christians are meant as, in contrast with ὁ νικῶν, shun the sorrowful struggle with the world by denying the truth of the faith.[4275]

ἀπίστοις, κ.τ.λ. The unbelieving are not Christians who have fallen from faith,[4276] but the dwellers on earth hostilely disposed to the Christian faith,[4277] to whom also[4278] all the succeeding designations pertain.

ἐβδελυγμένοις, who have in themselves the βδελύγματα, Revelation 17:4 sq.

τ. ψευδέσι. Cf. Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15.

τὸ μέρος αὐτὼν, κ.τ.λ. With the dat., possibly ἡ λίμνη, κ.τ.λ., is to be expected; from this construction, however, there is a departure by the interposition[4279] of the formula τὸ μέρος (sc. ἕσται), which then brings with it the genitive αὐτῶν.[4280]

[4255] Cf. also 2 Peter 3:10 sqq.

[4256] 1 Corinthians 15:42the prelude to the last vision.The New Heaven and Earth. Chap. Revelation 21:11. a new heaven and a new earth] Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; referred to, as here, in 2 Peter 3:13. It is idle to ask, what amount of change in the physical constitution of the universe is implied: the destruction of the earth, as a seat of life, and its renewal, would imply a complete change of the visible heavens. But a world “wherein dwelleth righteousness” would be a new world, even without any physical change at all.

there was no more sea] More literally, the sea is no more. We cannot be sure that this is to be taken literally; we hear of a river in the next chapter, and a perennial stream implies an abundant reservoir of water somewhere. To us, the absence of sea seems, so to speak, a defect in the landscape, while to the ancients it seemed a pledge of security and of unfettered intercourse between all nations: see Isaiah 33:21. Hor. Od. I. iii. 22.Revelation 21:1. Οὐρανὸν καινὸν, κ.τ.λ.) The new heaven and the new earth preserve the name of heaven and earth because of the former ones: therefore the substantives precede in the former clause only; and there follows, for the first heaven and the first earth, etc. It is not a flourishing state of the Church in the last time which John here describes, but he speaks of all things entirely new and perfect for eternity. Augustine says: There are many obscure things in this book; but in these words, where he says, God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, that which is spoken concerning the future world and immortality, and the eternity of the saints (for it is only then and there that these things will cease to be), is spoken with such light, that we ought neither to seek nor to read anything plain in the sacred writings, if we shall think these things obscure: lib. xx. de Civ. Dei, c. 17.—παρῆλθε) But in Revelation 21:4, ἀπῆλθον, as ch. Revelation 9:12. To pass away is something more in sound than to pass by, [as the Greek ought to be translated in Revelation 21:1, not passed away, as Engl.]

[223] Death, sorrow, crying, and pain, altogether pass away; the former heaven and the former earth pass by, giving way to a new heaven and a new earth.

[223] A reads ἀπῆλθαν· B, ἀπῆλθον· so h Iren. and Vulg. “abiit.” Beng. read with Rec. Text, which has no very old authority on its side, παρῆλθε.—E.Verse 1. - And I saw. The usual introduction to a new vision (cf. Revelation 20:11, etc.). Having described the origin and progress of evil in the world, the final overthrow of Satan and his adherents, and the judgment when every man is rewarded according to his works, the seer now completes the whole by portraying the eternal bliss of the redeemed in heaven (cf. on Revelation 20:10). The description is based upon Isaiah 60. and Ezekiel 40, et seq.; especially the latter, which follows the account of God and Magog, as does this. A new heaven and a new earth. The dispute as to whether a new creation is intended, or a revivified earth, seems to be founded on the false assumption that the dwellers in heaven must be localized in space (cf. Isaiah 65:17, "I create new heavens and a new earth;" also Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13). For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away. The Revisers follow B and others in reading ἀπῆλθον, and render it by the English perfect tense. In א, A, is read ἀπῆλθαν, while other manuscripts give ἀπῆλθεν and παρῆλθε. The first heaven and earth; that is, those now existing pass away as described in Revelation 20:11. And there was no more sea; and the sea no longer exists. The threefold division of heaven, earth, and sea represents the whole of this world (cf. Revelation 10:6). Some interpret the sea symbolically of the restless, unstable, wicked nations of the earth, which now exist no longer; others understand the absence of sea to typify the absence of instability and wickedness in the New Jerusalem. New (καινὸν)

See on Matthew 26:29. Compare Isaiah 65:17.

There was no more sea (ἡ θάλασσα οὐκ ἔστιν ἔπι)

Lit., as Rev., the sea is no more. Here as in Revelation 20:13. Some explain the sea as the ungodly world. I cannot help thinking this interpretation forced. According to this explanation, the passage is in the highest degree tautological. The first earth was passed away, and the ungodly world was no more.

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