Revelation 21:21
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) And the twelve gates . . .—Or, gate-towers. Each gate was of one pearl—i.e., made out of one pearl. The foundations are diverse; the gates are alike. There is one way, though there are many roads; one mode of entrance, through twelve gates. All find entrance through one new and living Way (John 14:6; Acts 4:11-12; 1Corinthians 3:11; Hebrews 10:20). The pearl was esteemed of the greatest value among the ancients; it is an appropriate emblem of the highest truth, and so of Him who is the Truth as well as the Way of Life. Lord Bacon compared truth to a pearl “that showeth best by day.” Another feature may be added. It is the only precious stone which the art and skill of man cannot improve. The tools of the artificer may give fresh lustre to the emerald and the sapphire; but he must lift no tool upon the pearl. So is it with the truth, which sets men free (1Corinthians 3:10). Through truth, and Him who is Truth, we enter the city; and the street of the city was gold, pure as transparent glass. (See Note on Revelation 21:18.)

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 twelve gates - Revelation 21:12.

Were twelve pearls - See the Revelation 17:4 note; Matthew 13:46 note.

Every several gate was of one pearl - Each gate. Of course, this is not to be understood literally. The idea is that of ornament and beauty, and nothing could give a more striking view of the magnificence of the future abode of the saints.

And the street of the city was pure gold - Was paved with gold; that is, all the vacant space that was not occupied with buildings was of pure gold. See the notes on Revelation 21:18.

21. every several—Greek, "each one severally." I am not willing to descant further in particulars, conjecturing (for it is no more) what each metaphorical term signifies in this unusual description of a city. I do think the scope of the whole is no more, than to let us know that the mansions of heaven will be most glorious places, giving the souls of those to whom God shall give to enter into them, an infinite satisfaction, beyond what the most rich and glorious things in the world can give our outward senses.

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls,.... Denoting the purity and preciousness of Christ, by whom the saints enter, and of the saints who enter in thereat, as well as of the place into which they enter.

Every several gate was of one pearl; the pearl of great price, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only gate, door, and way into this happy state: this shows that this account cannot be taken literally, but mystically, for no such pearl was ever known, large enough to make a gate of.

"A pearl is a hard, white, shining body, usually roundish, found in a shell fish resembling an oyster, but is three or four times the size of the common oyster; and which ordinarily yields ten or twelve pearls, and sometimes more. Those of the largest size that have been known are that of Cleopatra, valued by Pliny at centies H S, or at 80,000 pound sterling; and that brought in 1574 to Philip the Second, of the size of a pigeon's egg, worth 14,400 ducats; and that of the Emperor Rudolph, mentioned by Boetius, called "la peregrina", or the incomparable, of the size of a muscade pear, and weighing 30 carats; and that mentioned by Tavernier, in the hands of the emperor of Persia in 1633, bought of an Arab for 32,000 tomans, which, at three pounds nine shillings the toman, amounts to 110,400 pounds sterling (p).''

But what is one of these pearls to make a gate of, for a wall which was an hundred and forty four cubits high? Revelation 21:17. The Jews say (q), that the holy blessed God will bring precious stones and "pearls" of thirty cubits by thirty, &c. and place them "in the gates of Jerusalem", as it is said, Isaiah 54:12 which must be understood also not in a literal but mystical sense: and L'Empereur (r) makes mention of an ancient commentary on Psalm 87:1 which says, that the holy blessed God will make a gate at the east (of the temple), and in it two doors, each of one pearl. So R. Joshua ben Levi says (s), that there are in paradise two gates of agates or diamonds; some render the word rubies.

And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass; denoting the preciousness and delightfulness of the saints' conversation one with another; and the purity and cleanness of it, there being no mire and filth of sin in these streets; and the sincerity and openness of it, each one walking in his uprightness; which will be seen and known of all, as clearly as anything can be beheld in a transparent glass. So the Jews say (t) of paradise, that the ground is paved with precious stones, the lustre of which may be compared to the light of burning torches.

(p) Chambers's Cyclopedia in the word "Pearl". (q) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 100. 1. & Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 1. & Yalkut, par. 2. fol. 54. 1.((r) Misn. Middot, c. 4. sect. 2. Vid. Yalkut Simconi, par. 2. fol. 54. 1.((s) Yalkut Simeoni, par. 1. fol. 7. 1.((t) Sepher. Avodah Hakkodesh, fol. 46. 1.

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the {d} street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

(d) By street, he means the broadest place of the city.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. pearls] Contrast Isaiah 54:12, where they are carbuncles.

the street] Or “square:” see on Revelation 11:8. The City has one great space in the midst of it, like an Agora or Forum: but the word Agora would have associations, commercial or political, that would be incongruous with the repose of this city. It is probably the pavement of the street which, like the walls of the houses, is of transparent gold.

Verse 21. - And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl. The pearl was known to the ancients from the earliest times, and was always held in high honour by them (cf. Revelation 17:4). And the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass (cf. ver. 18). The brilliancy was so far beyond ordinary gold as to make it apparently transparent like glass. "The street" is not merely one street, but the whole collective material of which the streets are composed. Revelation 21:21Pearls (μαργαρίται)

The pearl seems to have been known from the earliest times to the Asiatic Greeks, in consequence of their intercourse with the Persians. Among the motives which impelled Caesar to attempt the conquest of Britain, was the fame of its pearl-fisheries. Pearls held the highest rank among precious stones. The Latin term unio (unity) was applied to the pearl because no two were found exactly alike; but the word became in time restricted to the fine, spherical pearls, while the generic name was margarita. Shakespeare uses union for pearl in Hamlet, Act v., Sc. 2.

"The king shall drink to Hamlet's better health:

And in the cup an union shall he throw

Richer than that which four successive kings

In Denmark's crown have worn."

And again:

"Drink of this potion: is thy union here?"

Every several gate (ἀνὰ εἷς ἕκαστος τῶν πυλώνων)

Rev., each one of the several gates, thus bringing out the force of the genitive πυλώνων of gates. The idea several is conveyed by ἀνά, as Luke 9:3, ἀνὰ δύο χιτῶνας "two coats apiece:" John 2:6, ἀνὰ μετρητὰξ δύο ἣ τρεῖς "two or three firkins apiece."

Street (πλατεῖα)

See on Luke 14:21. From πλατύς broad. Hence the broadway.

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