Revelation Explained

This site contains my personal views on Revelation. I will be teaching through the book verse by verse. My teachings will be from a conservative evangelical background.

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Location: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Jerusalem Described

"Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:11-14 - King James Version)

This city radiates the glory of God. John tries to describe it. Notice carefully the word: "like." John uses it many times in this passage. The light coming from the city was like that from a precious gem. John goes on to say that it was like jasper, clear as crystal.

This confronts us with a difficult problem. The names used for gems and stones in ancient times do not correspond with the names we now use. We cannot be certain that what we call a type of stone now was what they called it in New Testament times. So we cannot be dogmatic about many aspects of John's description when he compares it to a type of gem.

What we call jasper today is not clear as crystal. Some commentators believe that John is referring to a diamond. Unger's Bible Dictionary suggests that it refers to "several kinds of delicately colored translucent varieties of quartz." (Moody Press, 1957, pg 740)

The light of God's glory shining out of the city, was most likely a mixture of colors. Possibly the colors were slowing changing adding to the beauty of the sight.

John describes the wall in more detail later. At this point, he tells us only that it was great and high.

There are twelve gates in the wall of the city, three on each side. On each gate is the name of one of the tribes of Israel. Forever, we will be reminded that the nation of Israel is God's chosen people. It was through this nation that God brought the Messiah into the world. Jesus was born of a Jewish woman.

Notice carefully what John says next. He says that the wall of the city had twelve foundations. Most commentaries refer to the foundations of the city. John only mentions the foundations of the wall. Maybe these are also foundations for the city, but John does not say that.

A wall around a city with twelve gates would have twelve sections between the gates. For the New Jerusalem, each of these sections has a separate foundation. On each foundation is written the name of the one of the Apostles. Forever, we will be reminded of the great work that these men did in the early days of the Christian Era in taking the Gospel message out to Jew and Gentile. We are still building today upon what they began.


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