REVELATION 21 – 22
Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
The New Jerusalem
God continues to show John a vision of the future and of things that lie beyond our human understanding. To do this, God yet again uses echoes of images drawn from throughout scripture, from Genesis forward. God has been revealing his plans for creation from the very beginning, moving it in His way and in His time toward this perfect culmination.
New Heaven, New Earth (21:1-5):
Dwelling = literally means tent; God’s presence dwelt in the tabernacle/tent and in the pillar of fire and cloud during Israel’s time in the desert, and in the tabernacle God’s presence dwelt in the Temple in Jerusalem. John’s gospel portrays Jesus’ incarnation as “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (Jn.1:14) In Jesus, heaven and earth came together; with the advent of the new heaven and the new earth it is fulfilled for all time.
o Read Rev. 13:1 and Daniel 7:3. What does the sea represent for John? What is the significance of there being no sea on the new earth?
o How does 21:3 represent a fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies? Read Leviticus 26:11-12, Ezekiel 37:27-28, Ezekiel 48:35. Why is this promise important?
o Why is it important that the promises of Isaiah 25:8 and I Corinthians 15:54 are also fulfilled?
New Jerusalem (21:6-21):
12,000 stadia, 144 cubits = 1400 miles, 200 feet. The New Jerusalem is a perfect cube, as was the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctuary at the heart of Jerusalem Temple’s (1 Kings 6:20).
o How does the “I AM” statement in verse 6, which was also used in 1:8, have new meaning at this point in the story?
o Read Isaiah 55:1-3, John 4:10-14 and 7:37-39. What does it mean, “To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the water of life” (vs.6)?
o Who will “inherit” the new heaven and new earth (v.7)?
o Is there a significance to “the cowardly” being first on the list of those in the fiery lake? What is the connection between “liars” and Satan with his beasts and false prophet (see 3:9, 13:14, 20:8,10)?
o What are the characteristics of the Holy City?
The picture we are gazing at in these chapters is certainly a vision of the ultimate future. Yet, as we have seen from the letters at the start of the book, there are signs that this reality keeps peeping through even in the present world of death and tears, of cowards and liars. Just as nothing we do in the present is merely relevant to the present, but can carry implications into God’s future, so nothing in the vision of the future is merely future. Because the central reality of God’s future is Jesus himself, and because Jesus is not merely a future reality but the one who lived and died and rose again and even now reigns in glory and holds the seven stars in his hand, the reality of the new city, though still a matter of hope, is something to be glimpsed in the present, especially in the ways sketched throughout this book: worship and witness. The new city is not just a dream, a comforting future fantasy. Those who follow the Lamb already belong in that city, and already have the right to walk its streets.”
God and the Lamb (21:22-22:6):
Temple = the Temple in Jerusalem was both the symbol and the reality of God’s presence for the Jewish people, which is why it was so important to them to rebuild the Temple after their exile. In 70 AD the Temple was once again destroyed, yet Christians came to understand that Jesus replaced the Temple as the presence of God in our midst.
o What is significant about John not seeing a temple in the new city (21:22)?
o What else do we learn about God and the Lamb in this new city (21:23, 22:1,3)? What is the significance of God and the Lamb being mentioned together in this passage?
o What activities are going on in this city? How is Psalm 72:10-11 fulfilled? What is the significance of gates that are never shut? Why would a city need to shut its gates?
o The light for the city is mentioned in 21:11, 23, 25 and 22:5. Why is this emphasized? Read Isaiah 60:1-5, 10-13, 18-22. How is this prophesy fulfilled? Are there connections to the creation story of Genesis 1?
o Water is liquid life. What is the source of the water of life? Where does it flow to? Read Ezekiel 47:1-12. How is this prophesy fulfilled? Are there connections to the creation story of Genesis 2?
o What is the significance of the promise in 22:4? Who did Jesus promise this to in Matthew 5:8?
C.S. Lewis draws from the final scene of Revelation as he ends his book The Last Battle:
The things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
Coming Soon (22:7-21):
o Compare Daniel 12:4 and Revelation 22:10. What has changed? What is emphasized in verses 7, 10, 12, and 20? Why would this have been important to the churches reading this letter? Why is it important for us today?
o The sixth blessing in Revelation is in 22:7. What does it mean to “keep the words of the prophesy in this book of Revelation”?
o The seventh and final blessing is in 22:14. Who are the ones that are blessed? What is promised to them?
o To whom do the Spirit and bride say, “Come!” in 22:17? How can we respond to this command? Is it a one-time thirst or an on-going thirst?
The letter – it always was a letter, as well as a prophesy and a revelation – ends as it should, with a closing greeting. ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all’ (verse 21). But, however conventional, this greeting now carries the freight of the entire book. It is dense with a thousand images of ‘grace’, pregnant with the power of the word ‘Lord’ when spoke under the nose of Caesar, sparkling in the still-open invitation to ‘you all’, and above all delicious with the name, the name that is now exalted high over all, the name of the slaughtered lamb, the name of the one we love and long to see. This book has been a revelation of Jesus, a testimony to Jesus, an act of homage to Jesus. This word.This book.This prophesy. Listen to the bells. Coming soon.This Jesus.
What are truths from Revelation that will stick with you …
about God the Father?
about Jesus Christ?
about the Holy Spirit?
about the promises to God’s people?
about what God’s people should be doing and how they should be responding?
What is the most important lesson you have learned from this study of Revelation?
Are there steps you will take, by God’s grace, to more fully apply it to your life?
Resources: Navpress, A life-changing encounter with God’s Word from the book of Revelation, 2011
N.T. Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 2011