Revelation 21:18
And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like to clear glass.
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(18) And the building of the wall . . .—Or, And the building-work (or, the masonry, so Alford) of the wall of it was jasper, and the city was pure gold, like pure glass. The general aspect of the city was jasperlike, because the material of the wall was of the jasper stone. On this stone, see Note on Revelation 4:3, and on Revelation 21:11 above. The city was gold. On the meaning of the gold see Note on Revelation 21:15 and on Revelation 3:18. To what has been said may be added the following:—“Gold has an inalienable reference to the sun itself, consequently, to the symbol of the face of God, or Christ, i.e., to the manifestation of God’s love” (Lange).

The wealth of heaven is love; love is the circulating medium of all holy activity and of all holy work: all who dwell within the heavenly city are encompassed by it; all who tread the streets of that city move along the ways of love; no dimness or obscuring motives of self-interest mar its lustre—the gold is clear as pure glass.

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 the building of the wall of it - The material of which the wall was composed. This means the wall above the foundation, for that was composed of twelve rows of precious stones, Revelation 21:14, Revelation 21:19-20. The height of the foundation is not stated, but the entire wall above was composed of jasper.

Was of jasper - See the notes on Revelation 4:3. Of course, this cannot be taken literally; and an attempt to explain all this literally would show that that method of interpreting the Apocalypse is impracticable.

And the city was pure gold - The material of which the edifices were composed.

Like unto clear glass - The word rendered "glass" in this place - ὕαλος hualos - occurs in the New Testament only here and in Revelation 21:21. It means, properly, "anything transparent like water"; as, for example, any transparent stone or gem, or as rock-salt, crystal, glass (Robinson, Lexicon). Here the meaning is, that the golden city would be so bright and burnished that it would seem to be glass reflecting the sunbeams. Would the appearance of a city, as the sun is setting, when the reflection of its beams from thousands of panes of glass gives it the appearance of burnished gold, represent the idea here? If we were to suppose a city made entirely of glass, and the setting sunbeams falling on it, it might convey the idea represented here. It is certain that, as nothing could be more magnificent, so nothing could more beautifully combine the two ideas referred to here - that of "gold and glass."

Perhaps the reflection of the sunbeams from the "Crystal Palace," erected for the late "industrial exhibition" in London, would convey a better idea of what is intended to be represented here than anything which our world has furnished. The following description from one who was an eyewitness, drawn up by him at the time, and without any reference to this passage, and furnished at my request, will supply a better illustration of the passage before us than any description which I could give: "Seen as the morning vapors rolled around its base - its far-stretching roofs rising one above another, and its great transept, majestically arched, soaring out of the envelope of clouds - its pillars, window-bars, and pinnacles, looked literally like a castle in the air; like some palace, such as one reads of in idle tales of Arabian enchantment, having about it all the ethereal softness of a dream. Looked at from a distance at noon, when the sunbeams came pouring upon the terraced and vaulted roof, it resembles a regal palace of silver, built for some Eastern prince; 'when the sun at eventide sheds on its sides his parting rays, the edifice is transformed into a temple of gold and rubies;' and in the calm hours of night, when the moon walketh in her brightness, the immense surface of glass which the building presents looks like a sea, or like throwing back, in flickering smile, the radiant glances of the queen of heaven."

18. the building—"the structure" [Tregelles], Greek, "endomeesis."

gold, like … clear glass—Ideal gold, transparent as no gold here is [Alford]. Excellencies will be combined in the heavenly city which now seem incompatible.

And the building of the wall of it was of jasper; strong and impregnable, not subject to impressions from enemies, as it is said of the jasper, that no hammer will break it.

And the city was pure gold; all that make up this city are perfect and noble.

Like unto clear glass; pure, without spots. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper,.... Which is expressive of the impregnableness, duration, brightness, and glory of salvation by Christ, the jasper being a very hard, durable, and bright stone; and salvation can never be made void, and of none effect; it will last for ever, and in this state will come forth as light, and as a lamp that burneth; it is represented by the same precious stone as God and Christ themselves are; see Revelation 4:2. And the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass; it was made or built of gold; its parts, buildings, houses, and palaces, were all of gold, and that the best; and it was like to transparent glass; that is, either the city, as most copies read, or the gold; for the Alexandrian copy reads, and so the Vulgate Latin version; the gold of which it was is different from common gold; and as this city, the new Jerusalem, designs the saints, the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, the inhabitants of the new earth; this denotes the solidity, excellency, and preciousness of them, the rich and happy state they will be in, as well as their purity and freedom from all sin and corruption, and the clear knowledge of things they themselves will have, and others will have of them; their hearts and actions will be open to all; nor will this gold have any rust upon it any more, or ever be changed, and become dim. {15} And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

(15) The matter most precious and glittering, which the presence of God makes most glorious.

The materials of the city. ἐνδώμησις, so an undated but pre-Christian inscription, τ. ἐνδώμησιν τοῦ τεμένους (Dittenberger’s Sylloge inscript. Graec. 583), where the orthography is pronounced “nova” (see reff.).

While the city itself (or its streets, Revelation 21:21) is supposed to be constructed of transparent gold like the house of Zeus πολύχρυσον (Hippol. 69), the wall appearing above the monoliths or foundation-stones is made entirely of jasper, which again is the special ornament assigned to the first foundation-stone (Revelation 21:19, see on Revelation 21:11). The Babylonian zikkurats were picked out with coloured bricks; but the exterior of this second city is to be what only the interior of a Babylonian sanctuary had been—brilliant as the sun—flashing with precious stones and gold and silver. In Yasht Revelation 13:3 the heavenly Zoroastrian palace of the sky also “shines in its body of ruby.” The general sketch is suggested by Isaiah 54:11-12, and even more directly by Tob 13:16-17 (“For Jerusalem shall be builded with sapphire and emerald, thy walls with precious stones, the towers and battlements with pure gold; and the streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with beryl and carbuncle and stones of Ophir”). The Egyptian mansion of Life is also composed of jasper, with four walls, facing the south, the north, the east, and the west (cf. Records of Past, 6:113). The twelve gems correspond upon the whole to those set in gold (cf. Ezekiel 28:13) upon the high priest’s breastplate in 2 Peter (Exodus 28:17-20; Exodus 39:10-13), which the writer loosely reproduces from memory. What the old covenant confined to the high priest is now a privilege extended to the whole people of God (cf. Revelation 21:22); for the astrological basis and the relation of the two O.T. and the present lists, cf. Flinders Petrie in Hastings’ D. B. 4:619–621; Myres in E. Bi. 4800 f.; St. Clair in Journ. Theol. Studies, 8:213 f.; and Jeremias, 68, 88 f. No occult or mystical significance attaches to these stones. The writer is simply trying to convey the impression of a radiant and superb structure.—σάπφειρος = lapis lazuli (sapphirus et aureis punctis collucet. Caeruleae et sapphiri, raroque cum purpura, Pliny, H. N. 37:39), a blue stone prized in Egypt and in Assyria, where it was often “used to overlay the highest parts of buildings” (E. Bi. 2710).—χαλκηδών = either a variety of dioptase or emerald gathered on a mountain in Chalcedon (Pliny), or more probably an agate (ḳarkedrâ Pesh. rendering of שׁבר = LXX ἀχάτης Exodus 28:19), i.e., a variegated stone, whose base is chalcedony. The modern chalcedony is merely a translucent (grey) quartz, with a milky tinge. χρυσόλιθος = a gem of some (sparkling?) golden hue (LXX = תּרשׁישׁ), perhaps some variety of our topaz or beryl, which ranges from emerald-green to pale blue and yellow. The modern chrysolite is merely a hard greenish mineral, of no particular value. χρυσόλιθος and χρυσόπρασος (a leek-coloured gem) are probably varieties of the ancient beryl, unless the latter is the green chalcedony, and the former the modern topaz. μαργαρῖται κ.τ.λ. (on their value in the ancient world, see Usener’s study in Theol. Abhand. 203–213): the conception is simplified from an old Jewish fancy of R. Jochanan preserved in Baba-Bathra, f. 75, 1, “Deus adducet gemmas et margaritas, triginta cubitos longas totidemque latas, easque excauabit in altitudinem xx cubitorum, et latitudinem x cubitorum, collocabitque in portis Hierosolymorum”. ἡ πλατεῖα, generic = “the streets” (like ξύλον, Revelation 22:2), unless it has the sense of “forum” or “market-place” (as 2 Chronicles 32:6, Job 29:7 LXX). But the singular may allude to the fact that “the typical Eastern city had … one street which led from the void place at the entering in of the gate to the court of the king’s palace” (Simcox). Philo (quis haer. § 44., leg. alleg. § 20.) had already made gold emblematic of the divine nature diffused through all the world, owing to the metal’s fusible qualities.

[923]P Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. Revelation 2:13-16.The building foundations and street, Revelation 21:18-2118. And the building] The word is a half-technical one, as it were “the superstructure,” as distinct from the foundations.

jasper] See on Revelation 4:3.

the city was pure gold] i.e. the houses included within the wall.

like … glass] This gold is transparent, not like the earthly: see note on Revelation 21:11. The epithet of the glass is the same as that of the gold: both should be rendered pure.Revelation 21:18. Ἡ ἐνδόμησις) Hesychius, δώμησις (for it is written with ω and ο) οἰκοδομή. Therefore the structure itself of the wall is here of jasper, as it is commonly of stone. Ἐν, in this particular compound word, has the sense of entirely.Verse 18. - And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass; pure glass. The exceeding brightness and purity is the idea contained in both expressions - the light of ver. 11, which is there associated with jasper and crystal. (On "jasper," see on ver. 11 and Revelation 4:3.) The whole description is, of course, typical, not literal. The building (ἐνδόμησις)

Only here in the New Testament. From ἐν in and δωμάω to build. Lit., that which is built in. Hence the building of the wall is the material built into the wall; of which the wall was composed.

Glass (ὑάλῳ)

Only here and Revelation 21:21. For the kindred adjective ὑάλινος of glass, see on Revelation 4:6.

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