Revelation 21:15
And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
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(15) And he that talked with me . . .—Or, better, And he who was talking with me had a golden reed . . . The allusion here is to the angel mentioned in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 15:3); the reed, or measuring rod, is of gold, that used in Revelation 11:1 was not said to be of gold; the measurement there was the symbol of preservation amid impending danger; the measuring here is more glorious—it is measuring which exhibits the beauty and proportion of the city which is now dwelling at peace. Gold is one of the features of the city; the street is gold (Revelation 21:18; Revelation 21:21); it may stand, as a token of the wealth (Psalm 72:15; 1Kings 10:14-21) of the royal city; but the wealth of that city is love. (Comp. Note on Revelation 3:18.)

Revelation 21:15-16. And he that talked with me had — Like the angel who appeared in vision to Ezekiel; a golden reed, &c. — A measuring-rod, with this circumstance of illustrious distinction, that it was golden; to measure the city, &c. — In the several parts thereof; by which measure was signified the greatness and extent of the city, with the exact order and just proportion of every part: to show figuratively that this city was prepared for a great number of inhabitants, how small soever the number of real Christians may sometimes appear to be; and that every thing relating to the happiness of this heavenly state was prepared with the greatest care and exactness. And the city lieth four-square — Upon measuring it appeared that the city was an exact square, of equal length and breadth, and of a very large extent. For it appeared on measure to be twelve thousand furlongs — Or one thousand five hundred miles, not, it seems, in circumference, but on each of the four sides. Jerusalem was thirty-three furlongs in circumference; Alexandria thirty in length, ten in breadth; Nineveh is reported to have been four hundred furlongs round, Babylon four hundred and eighty. The length, and the breadth, and the height of it — That is, says Bishop Newton, of its walls and buildings; are equal — Are everywhere of the same beauty, strength, and proportion. For this equality, as Grotius observes, seems to belong to the walls and buildings compared with each other, not with the length and breadth of the city. For to understand the height of the city, whether of its walls or buildings, to be equal to the length or breadth of it, would make its houses and walls to be out of all proportion. For how large soever men may conceive the extent of the city, and of the contiguous buildings, houses twelve thousand furlongs high are beyond all propriety in the boldest figures. Or, if the twelve thousand furlongs be understood of the whole circumference of the city, the length of each of its four sides (it being an exact square) would be three hundred and seventy-five miles; and houses even of such a height would be out of all due proportion. Some interpreters, to avoid this difficulty, have included the height of the mountain on which the city is supposed to stand; but it is not said that the city itself was situated on a mountain, but only that John was called up to a mountain to view the model of it. Nor is it easy to say what end could be answered by making the height of the buildings so enormous, unless to render the city a perfect cube, for which no reason can be assigned; a perfect square rendering the emblem full as perfect. The truth is, the numbers themselves are evidently typical, taken from twelve, the number of the apostles, multiplied by one thousand. For as before, the number of the members of the Christian Church was represented by one hundred and forty-four thousand, the square number of twelve multiplied by one thousand; so this manner of numbering will very properly signify a city, of which true Christians are to be the happy citizens and settled inhabitants; a city which shall have incomparably greater extent, and more strength and beauty, than ancient Babylon, Rome, or any other seat of empire ever known in this world.

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.And he that talked with me - The angel, Revelation 21:9.

Had a golden reed to measure the city - See the notes on Revelation 11:1. The reed, or measuring rod, here, is of gold, because all about the city is of the most rich and costly materials. The rod is thus suited to the personage who uses it, and to the occasion. Compare a similar description in Ezekiel 40:3-5; Ezekiel 43:16. The object of this measuring is to show that the city has proper architectural proportions.

And the gates thereof, ... - To measure every part of the city, and to ascertain its exact dimensions.

15. had a golden reed—so Coptic. But A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac read, "had (as) a measure, a golden reed." In Re 11:2 the non-measuring of the outer courts of the temple implied its being given up to secular and heathen desecration. So here, on the contrary, the city being measured implies the entire consecration of every part, all things being brought up to the most exact standard of God's holy requirements, and also God's accurate guardianship henceforth of even the most minute parts of His holy city from all evil. This seemeth to signify the transcendency of the state of the church now, to what it was before; it was then measured by a man, Revelation 11:1-19, now by an angel; then by an ordinary reed, now by a golden reed.

And he that talked with me,.... One of the seven angels, Revelation 21:9 for not a man is the measurer of this city, as in Ezekiel 40:3 nor John, as of the temple, Revelation 11:1 but an angel, the same that showed to John this great sight:

had a golden reed; not a common measuring reed, or rod, as in Ezekiel 40:4 but one covered with gold, denoting the present glorious state of the church, being without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing:

to measure the city; the new Jerusalem, its length and breadth; see Zechariah 2:1 to show how exactly conformable this church state will be to the rule of God's word, even to perfection: and the gates thereof; to signify who had a right to enter into it, and who not:

and the wall thereof; its height, it being exceeding high.

{13} And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

(13) A transition to a more exquisite description of the parts of the Church, by finding out its size, by the angel that measured them.

Revelation 21:15-17. The angel who shows John the city[4300] gives him a clear view of its dimensions by[4301] actually measuring them before the eyes of the seer.[4302]

ΜΈΤΡΟΝ ΚΆΛΑΜΟΝ ΧΡΥΣΟῦΝ. Cf. Revelation 11:1, where, however, the ΚΆΛΑΜΟς is not expressly designated as ΜΈΤΡΟΝ.[4303] The measuring-reed is “golden” because of the glory, not indeed of the measuring angel,[4304] but of the objects to be measured (Revelation 21:18). These are presented in the series designated in Revelation 21:15; viz., the city (Revelation 21:16), the walls (Revelation 21:17-20), the gates (Revelation 21:21). That the city lies (ΚΕῖΤΑΙ, cf. Revelation 4:2) four-cornered, and, indeed, with right angles and equal length and breadth, and, therefore, that its outline forms a perfect square,[4305] John recognizes already (Revelation 21:16 a) even before the angel begins to measure. But the angel also establishes the length of the particular sides: καὶ ἐμέτρησεν τὴν πόλιν, κ.τ.λ. (Revelation 21:16 b). The words by themselves might signify that the entire circuit of the city[4306] amounted to twelve thousand stadia (ἘΠῚ ΣΤΑΔΊΟΥς),[4307] so that each of the four equal sides would measure three thousand stadia; but as the equality of the length and the breadth has been designated from the very beginning, it is more probable that the twelve thousand stadia which were actually measured are meant as the mass lying at the foundation of the entire building, which, according to Revelation 21:16 c, applies also to the height of the city; for that by the closing words (καὶ τὸ μῆκος

ἰσα ἐστίν), dimensions actually identical are given for the length, breadth, and height of the city, is to be denied neither on account of Revelation 21:17, nor on account of Revelation 22:2,[4308] for the reason that the idea of the city thus resulting is a monstrosity.[4309] The city appears, therefore, as an enormous cube, which measures in length, breadth, and height, each, twelve thousand stadia.[4310] [See Note XCVI., p. 000.] The height “of the city” (Revelation 21:16 c) is not the height of the walls (Revelation 21:17), as Bengel also admits, who affirms, on this account, that the one hundred and forty-four cubits (Revelation 21:17) are equal to the twelve hundred stadia (Revelation 21:16); but the idea of the height of the city as a whole, i.e., of the mass of houses contained in it, is given, Revelation 21:16 c.[4311]

In Revelation 21:17 there follows the measuring of the walls, viz., of their height, since the length of the walls is identical with the length and breadth of the city[4312] (Revelation 21:16). The specification of one hundred and forty-four cubits[4313] is to be understood according to the common “measure of a man” (μέτρον ἀνθρώπου),[4314] “which is the measure of the angel.” The words ὅ ἔστιν ἀγγέλου cannot say that, in the present case, the angel has made use of the ordinary human measure,[4315] but the measurements of the angel and of man are made equal,[4316] without venturing, against the expression μέτρον ἀνθρώπου, to declare[4317] that the measure of glorified men is here regarded.[4318]

In comparison with the height of the city (Revelation 21:16), the wall appears very low, even though this is extraordinarily high when compared with earthly relations.[4319] The reason is not that the walls are to form only a bulwark put about the city like a temple,[4320] and, besides, that the light proceeding from the city is not to be obstructed by a high wall;[4321] but it may be indicated that for keeping off every thing relatively unclean (cf. Revelation 21:27) the relatively low walls are sufficient, because, indeed, a violent attack is perfectly inconceivable.

[4300] Cf. Revelation 21:9.

[4301] Cf. Ezekiel 40:5 sqq.

[4302] Bengel, Ewald, De Wette.

[4303] Ezekiel 42:16 sqq.

[4304] Hengstenb.

[4305] Cf. Ezekiel 48:16.

[4306] Vitr., Eichh., Ew. i., Volkm.

[4307] Cf. Winer, p. 381.

[4308] Where the streets are spoken of.

[4309] Against De Wette, who explains the ἰσα in reference to the height, viz., of the walls, according to his misconception of Revelation 21:16 c, as “uniform,” because the walls are everywhere 144, i.e., 12 × 12 cubits high.

[4310] i.e., 300 German miles [a German mile being equal to 4.611 English and American statute miles, the measure would be, according to our computation, nearly 1,400 miles]. Andr., Beng., Züll., Hengstenb., Rinck; also Ew. ii., who at the same time alludes to the fact that this uniformity was found in the ancient Mosaic sanctuary only in the holy of holies. Cf. also Luthardt.

[4311] Hengstenb.

[4312] If the thickness of the walls were meant (Luther, gloss), it would necessarily be expressed.

[4313] Not 144,000, Ew. ii., p. 349.

[4314] Cf. Revelation 13:18.

[4315] De Wette.

[4316] Hengstenb.

[4317] Ebrard.

[4318] Matthew 22:30.

[4319] Cf. Revelation 21:12.

[4320] Cf. Ezekiel 11:5.

[4321] Züll.

The splendor of the wall of the city itself (Revelation 21:18), of the twelve foundation stones (Revelation 21:19), and of the twelve gates (The measures of the city are now taken, as in Ezekiel 40:3; Ezekiel 40:48; Ezekiel 42:16 f., to elucidate the vision (otherwise in Revelation 11:1-2). It turns out to be an enormous quadrilateral cube, like Ezekiel’s ideal sanctuary, a cube being symbolical of perfection to a Jew, as a circle is to ourselves. Whether 1500 miles represent the total circumference or the length of each side, the hyperbole is obvious, but John is following the patriotic rabbinic traditions which asserted that Jerusalem would extend as far as Damascus in the latter days (Zechariah 9:1) if not to the high throne of God. In Sib. Or. 5:250 f. the heaven-born Jews who inhabit Jerusalem are to run a wall as far as Joppa. Further measurements in Baba-Bathra f. 75, 2 (cf. Gfrôrer, ii. 245 f.; Bacher, Agada d. Tann. i. 194 f., 392). As in the case of the tabernacle in Jerusalem of the Hexateuch, so here: the symmetry and harmony of the divine life are naïvely represented by Oriental fantasy in terms of mathematics and architecture. A wall of about 72 yards high seems oddly unsymmetrical in view of the gigantic proportions of the city, though it might refer to the breadth (Simcox) or to the height of the city above the plain. But the whole description is built on multiples of twelve, a sacred number of completeness. The wall is a purely poetical detail, required to fill out the picture of the ancient city; like the similar touches in 24, 26, Revelation 22:2, it has no allegorical significance whatever. cf. Slav. En. lxv. 10: “and there shall be to them” (i.e., to the just in eternity) “a great wall which cannot be broken down”.—μέτρον κ.τ.λ., another naive reminder (cf. Revelation 19:9-10, Revelation 22:8-9) that angels were not above men.

15. a golden reed] So Revelation 11:1; this is more closely parallel to Ezekiel 40:3; Ezekiel 40:5. See also Zechariah 2:1.

the gates] As it happens, we are not actually told of their measurement.

Verse 15. - And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof; had for a measure a golden reed to measure, etc. "He that spake" is the angel of ver. 9 (cf. the action of Revelation 11:1; and Ezekiel 40:3, 5; Ezekiel 42:15, et seq.). Here the measuring is evidently to indicate the large extent of the city (see on Revelation 11:1). The reed is golden, as being the typical heavenly material. Revelation 21:15A golden reed

Add μέτρον as a measure. See Revelation 11:1. Compare Ezekiel 40:5.

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