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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 21

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verses 1-2

The title: Revelation 21:1 a b = Revelation 20:11 c . Revelation 20:1 c = Revelation 20:13 a . The absence of the sea from John’s ideal universe is due not to any Semitic horror of the ocean, nor to its association with Rome (Revelation 13:1 ), nor to the ancient idea of its dividing effect (“mare dissociabile,” “the unplumbed, salt, estranging sea,”), but to its mythological connexion with the primitive dragon-opponent of God, the last trace of whom is now obliterated. cf. Sib. ver. 159, 160, 447 ( ἔσται δʼ ὑστατίῳ καιρῷ ξηρὸς πότε πόντος ), Ass. Mos. x. 6, 4 Esd. 6:24, Test. Leviticus 4:0 , etc., for this religious antipathy to the treacherous, turbulent element of water. “La mer est une annulation, une stérilization d’une partie de la terre, un reste du chaos primitif, souvent un chatiment de Dieu” (Renan, 449). Plutarch ( de Iside , 7 f., 32) preserves the Egyptian sacred tradition that the sea was no part of nature ( παρωρισμένην ) but an alien element ( ἀλλοῖον περίττωμα ), full of destruction and disease. The priests of Isis (32) shunned it as impure and unsocial for swallowing up the sacred Nile. One favourite tradition made the sea disappear in the final conflagration of the world ( R. J. 289), but John ignores this view. The world is to end as it began, with creation; only it is a new creation, with a perfect paradise, and no thwarting evil (Barn. vi. 13). His omission of the ocean is simply due to the bad associations of the abyss as the abode of Tehom or Tiâmat ( cf. Oesterley’s Evol. of Messianic Idea , 79 f., G. A. Smith’s Jerusalem , i. 71 f., and Hastings’ D. B. iv. 194, 195).

Verses 1-8

the prelude to the last vision.

Verse 2

ἐκ =origin, ἀπὸ = originator. This conception of the new Jerusalem as messiah’s bride in the latter days is an original touch, added by the prophet to the traditional Jewish material ( cf. Volz, 336 f.). In 4 Esd. 6:26 (Lat. Syr.) “the bride shall appear, even the city coming forth, and she shall be seen who is now hidden from the earth”; but this precedes the 400 years of bliss, at the close of which messiah dies. In En. xc. 28 f. a new and better house is substituted for the old, while in 4 Esd. 9 11. the mourning mother rather suddenly becomes “a city builded” with large foundations ( i.e. , Zion). These partial anticipations lend some colour to Dalman’s plea that the conception of a pre-existent heavenly Jerusalem was extremely limited in Judaism, and that John’s vision is to be isolated from the other N.T. hints (see reff.). For a fine application of the whole passage, see Ecce Homo , ch. 24. The vision conveys Christian hope and comfort in terms of a current and ancient religious tradition upon the new Jerusalem ( cf. Charles on Apoc. Bar. iv. 3). The primitive form of this conception, which lasted in various phases down to the opening of the second century, was that the earthly Jerusalem simply needed to be purified in order to become the fit and final centre of the messianic realm with its perfect communion between God and man ( cf. Isaiah 60:0 ; Isaiah 54:11 = Tob 13:16-17 , Ezekiel 40-48, En. x. 16 19, xxv. 1, Ps. Sol. 17:25, 33, Ap. Bar. xxix, xxxix. xl, lxxii, lxxiv, 4 Esd. 7:27 30, 12:32 34, etc.). But alongside of this, especially after the religious revival under the Maccabees, ran the feeling that the earthly Jerusalem was too stained and secular to be a sacred city; its heavenly counterpart, pure and pre-existent, must descend (so here, after En. xc. 28, 29, Ap. Bar. xxxii. 3, 4, Test. Daniel 5:0 , etc.). In rabbinic theology, the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem was taken from Adam after his lapse, but shown as a special favour to Abraham, Jacob and Moses ( cf. Ap. Bar. iv). The Christian prophet John not only sees it but sees it realised among Christian people a brave and significant word of prophecy, in view of his age and surroundings.

Verses 3-4

σκην . (chosen on account of its “assonance with the Hebrew to express the Shekinah ,” Dr. Taylor on Pirke Aboth iii. 3) is the real tabernacle (Hebrews 8:2 ; Hebrews 9:11 ). The whole meaning and value of the new Jerusalem lies in the presence of God (En. xlv. 6, lxii. 14, Test. Jude 1:25 , etc.) with men which it guarantees. The O.T. promises are realised (see reff.); God is accessible, and men are consoled with eternal comfort ( cf. Enoch 10:22, καὶ καθαρισθήσεται πᾶσα ἡ γῆ ἀπὸ παντὸς μιάμματος καὶ ἀπὸ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας καὶ ὀργῆς καὶ μάστιγος ). If we were to read the passage in the light of Isaiah 61:3-10 , the tears wiped away would signify that the penitents were newly espoused to the Lord; but the context here implies tears of grief and pain, not of repentance. “There shall be no more labour, nor sickness, nor sorrow, nor anxiety, nor need, nor night, nor darkness, but a great light” (Slav. En. lxv. 9).

Verse 5

The first and only time that God addresses the seer, or indeed (apart from Revelation 1:8 ) speaks at all. The almost unbroken silence assigned to God in the Apocalypse corresponds to the Egyptian idea of the divine Reason needing no tongue but noiselessly directing mortal things by righteousness (Plut. de Iside , 75; hence the deity is symbolised by the ciocodile, which was believed to be the only animal without a tongue).

Verse 6

“Tis done, all is over” (sc. οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι or πάντα ). The perfecting of God’s work is followed, as in Isaiah 54-56, by a liberal promise of satisfaction to all spiritual desire, and the three ideas of consolation, eternal refreshment, and Divine fellowship are thus conjoined as in Revelation 7:14-17 . Compare the fontal passage in Philo, de migrat Abr. § 6 πηγὴ δὲ , ἀφʼ ἧς ὀμβρεῖ τὸ ἀγαθά , ἡ τοῦ φιλοδώρου Θεοῦ σύνοδός ἐστιν . οὗ χάριν ἐπισφραγιζόμενος τὰ τῶν εὐεργεσιῶν φησιν , Εσομαι μετὰ σοῦ . The promise implies (like Isaiah 44:3 , not Isaiah 55:1 ) that thirst is accompanied by readiness and eagerness to accept the boon, which is free (6) and full ( πάντα ) and filial (Revelation 21:7 ). The thirst fox God is opposed to the unbelief and vice which quench it, just as the victorious life is contrasted with the craven spirit which shrinks from the hardships and demands of faith. Similarly the life of strenuous obedience now enters on its majority; it comes into an estate of filial confidence to the great God, bestowed on all who acquit themselves nobly in their probation. By a rare touch (since Revelation 3:22 ) in the Apocalypse, the individual Christian is singled out. Usually the writer is interested in the general body of Christians. Here, however, as in 2 3, religious individualism aptly follows the idea of personal promise and encouragement ( cf. Revelation 22:17 ), as afterwards of judgment (Revelation 22:11-12 ).

Verse 7

These boons (Revelation 21:3-7 ), however, are reserved for the loyal; the third (son of God) was a title applied to Augustus and the emperors generally throughout the Greek and Roman world. κληρονομήσει (here only in Apoc.) in general sense = “enter into possession of,” “partake of”. (“This place” of bliss “is prepared for the righteous who endure every kind of attack in their lives from those who afflict their souls … for them this place is prepared as an eternal inheritance,” Slav. En. ix.). This is the sole allusion, and a purely incidental one, to that central conception of the messianic bliss as a κληρονομία , which bulks so prominently in apocalypses like Fourth Esdras and is employed in a cosmic sense by Paul as lordship over the whole creation (see Bacon, Biblical and Semitic Studies , Yale Univ. 1902, pp. 240 f.). The solitary allusion to sonship expresses the close relation to God for which this writer elsewhere prefers to use the metaphor of priesthood. Partly owing to the bent of his mind, partly owing to the stern circumstances of his age, he (like Clem. Rom.) allows the majesty and mystery of God to overshadow that simple and close confidence which Jesus inculcated towards the Father (Titius, 13, 14), as also the direct love of God for his people (only in Revelation 3:9 ; Revelation 3:19 , Revelation 20:9 ).

Verse 8

The reverse side of the picture ( cf. Revelation 20:12-15 and below on Revelation 21:27 ): a black list of those who have not conquered. δειλοῖς = “cowards” or apostates, who deny Christ in the persecution and worship Caesar (Introd. § 6) through fear of suffering; “ δειλία does not of course itself allow that it is timorous, but would shelter its timidity under the more honourable title of εὐλάβεια ” (Trench, Synonyms , § x.). It embraces further all those who draw back under the general strain of ridicule and social pressure (Hebrews 6:4-8 ; 2 Timothy 4:16 , etc.), like Bunyan’s Pliable , but unlike his Mr. Fearing ( cf. 1MMalachi 3:16 ). ἀπίστοις not = incredulous (so e.g. , Dittenberger’s Sylloge , 802 32 , 3 cent. B.C.) but, as in Luke 12:46 ( cf. Sir. ii. 12 f.), = “faithless,” untrustworthy, those who are not πιστός (Revelation 1:5 , Revelation 2:10 ; Revelation 2:13 , 2 Timothy 2:13 ). All δειλοί are ἄπιστοι ( cf. Introd. § 6), but not all ἄπιστοι are δειλοί . There are more reasons for disloyalty to Christ than cowardice, and some of these are hinted at in the following words, which suggest that ἄπιστοι includes the further idea of immorality (as in Titus 1:15-16 , where it is grouped with βδελυκτοί ). Lack of faith is denounced also in Apoc. Bar. liv. 21, 4 Ezra 9:7 , etc. ἐβδελυγμένοις for βδελυκτοῖς (as εὐλογημένος for εὐλογητός , etc., cf. Field on Galatians 2:11 ; Simcox, Lang. N.T. 128, 129), “detestable” because “defiled and fouled” by the impurities of the pagan cults (Revelation 17:4 , Revelation 18:3 , etc.; cf. Hosea 9:10 ; Slav. En. x. 4) including unnatural vice. Murder (and fornication, James 2:11 ) in the popular religions of the ancient world caused ritual impurity and disqualified for access to God, unless atoned for. φαρμακοῖς = “poisoners” or “sorcerers” (Revelation 22:15 ), cf. Daniel 2:27 LXX, and above on Revelation 9:21 , where (as here and in Galatians 5:21 ) witchcraft or magic is bracketed with idolatry. Idolaters, in Apoc. Pet. 18, have a special place πλείστου πυρὸς γέμων . ψευδέσιν = “liars,” primarily recreant Christians who deny their faith and Lord, or worship false gods (Romans 1:25 ); but also untruthful Christians who cheat (Acts 5:3 ) and lie to one another (Colossians 3:9 , cf. Revelation 14:5 ); further perhaps to be taken in its general ethical sense (Slav. En. xlii. 13; cf. Did. Revelation 5:2 ) = Oriental duplicity. τοῖς δὲ : as in LXX, the subject of the principal clause is thrown forward into the dative (Viteau, ii. 41, 42). The special standpoint of the Apoc. renders the terms of exclusion rather narrower than elsewhere ( cf. Volz, 313). Thus there is no allusion to sins of omission, especially as regards justice and kindness between man and man (as Slav. En. x., xlii. 8 9, Matthew 25:41 f. the former apocalypse finely excluding from heaven all guilty of “evil thoughts” and magic, all harsh or callous men, and finally all idolaters). The parallels with the rest of the Apocalypse, as well as the general style, indicate that Revelation 21:1-8 comes from the pen of the prophet himself; there is no evidence sufficient to support the conjecture that Revelation 21:5-8 is a Christian editor’s gloss in a Jewish original (Vischer, von Soden, S. Davidson, Rauch = Revelation 21:6-8 , Spitta). The catalogue of vices, not unparalleled in ethnic literature ( cf. Dieterich, pp. 163 f., 174 f., Heinrici on 2 Corinthians 6:4 f.), diverges from those of Revelation 9:20-21 and Revelation 22:15 . The second agrees with Sap. 14:22 28 in making idolatry the fontal vice, and with Did. v in putting theft after πορνεία ( cf. Hebrews 13:4-5 , Ephesians 5:5 , etc.). Paul, again, invariably starts with the blighting touch of πορνεία or ἀκαθαρσία ( cf. Seeberg’s Catechismus d. Urc. 9 29, and von Dobschütz, pp. 406 f.) as in Revelation 22:15 . No special significance attaches to the lists of the Apocalypse beyond the obviously appropriate selection of idolatry (Revelation 9:20 ) as the outstanding vice of paganism, with cowardice (Revelation 21:8 ) as the foil to victorious confession (Revelation 21:7 , Revelation 2:13 ; Revelation 2:17 , Revelation 15:2 ); note the division of Revelation 22:15 into the repulsive or filthy (first three) and the wicked (second three), corresponding to Revelation 22:11 . The κύνες of Revelation 22:15 roughly answer to the “abominable” of Revelation 21:8 . Revelation 21:1-8 are a summary of what follows: Revelation 21:1-2 = Revelation 21:9-21 , Revelation 21:3-4 = Revelation 21:22 to Revelation 22:5 , Revelation 21:5-8 = Revelation 22:16-21 .

Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5 : the new Jerusalem (resuming the thought of Revelation 21:2 , cf. Revelation 19:7 ), corresponding to the new universe (Revelation 21:1 ). The fall of Jerusalem accentuated the tendency to rise from the expectation of a new or renovated city on earth to the hope of a heavenly, transcendent city ( cf. Apoc. Bar. iv. 2 6, etc.), though the passionate desire for a restoration of city and temple in the messianic age was still strong ( cf. R. J. 226 f., Volz, 334 f.). John introduces the definitely Christian identification of the heavenly Jerusalem with the bride of the messiah, and combines the various features of a renovated, a heavenly, and a pre-existent city features which occasionally reflect the mythological background of such earlier ideas in Judaism. The whole conception, if not the passage itself, is satirised by Lucian ( Vera Hist . ii.) in his account of the golden city with its emerald wall, its river, and the absence of night, to say nothing of vines δωδεκαφόροι καὶ κατὰ μῆνα ἕκαστον καρποφοροῦσιν . Revelation 21:11-21 describe the exterior, Revelation 21:22-27 the interior.

Verse 10

A fresh vision, marked by a new transport of ecstasy ( cf. Ezekiel 3:14 ; Ezekiel 11:1 , etc.). ὄρος , the vantage-ground of elevation from which the seer views the site and buildings. If the hill is the site of the city, it is a truncated cone like Cirta, or a terraced zikkurat . Ezra sees the vision of the descent of the new Jerusalem in a field of flowers ( cf. 4 Esd. 9:26 f., 13:35 f.), but John follows either the older tradition of Enoch (En. xxiv., xxv.) who visited a high mountain which, as his cicerone Michael explained, was the throne of God “where the great and holy One, the Lord of glory, the King of eternity, will sit when he shall descend to visit the earth with goodness,” or more probably the primitive association of paradise with a mountain ( cf. Oesterley’s Evol. of Mess. Idea , 129 f., Volz, 375).

Verse 11

“With the dazzling splendour of God,” cf. on Revelation 21:3 , Ezekiel 43:5 , Isaiah 60:1-2 . Uxor splendet radiis mariti ; δόξα , here, as usually in a apocalyptic literature, denotes the manifestation and realisation of the divine presence. A realistic turn is given to the expression by the “shimmering radiance” of ὁ φωστήρ κ . τ . λ . (asyndeton); “her brilliance is like a very precious stone, a jasper, crystal-clear” ( i.e. , transparent and gleaming as rock-crystal). The modern jasper is an opaque tinted quartz, only partially translucent at the edges. Perhaps, in reproducing Isaiah 54:11-12 ( καὶ θήσω τὰς ἐπάλξεις σου ἴασπιν καὶ τὰς πύλας σου λίθους κρυστάλλου ), the writer regarded both clauses as complementary (Cheyne); hence is ὡς λ . ἰ . κ . Otherwise ἴασπις might represent an opal, a diamond, or a topaz, any one of which answers better to the description of “transparent and valuable”. Flinders Petrie, however, suggests some variety of the dark green jasper.

Verse 12

ἔχουσα . The constr. becomes still more irregular, the participles agreeing with an imaginary nominative, ἡ πόλις , sugg. by ὁ φωστήρ . The inscribed names denote the catholicity of the church and its continuity with the ancient people of God. A writer who could compose, or incorporate, or retain (as we choose to put it), passages like Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 14:4 , is not to be suspected of particularism here. Even on the score of poetic congruity, the new Jerusalem implied such an archaic and traditional allusion to the twelve tribes. The angelic guardians of the gates are an Isaianic trait added to the Ezekiel picture.

Verse 13

Verse 14

ἔχων , another rough asyndeton. θεμελίους κ . τ . λ ., a symbolical and corporate expression for the historical origin of the church in the primitive circle of the disciples who adhered to Jesus ( cf. on Revelation 22:19 ). It is not their names but their historical and apostolic position which is in the writer’s mind. The absence of Paul’s name is no more significant than the failure to emphasise that of Peter. For the objective and retrospective tone of the allusion, with its bearing on the question of the authorship, see Introd. § 8. Foundation-stones in an ancient building were invested with high, sacred significance. Here the twelve apostles correspond roughly to the twelve φύλαρχοι of the Mosaic period (Matthew 19:28 , Clem. Rom. xlii. xliii.).

Verses 15-17

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.

Verses 18-21

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 .

Verse 22

Verse 23

Another fulfilment of the O.T. ideal (Isaiah 60:19-20 ). It is a Jewish-Christian symbol for Paul’s thought God shall be all and in all . So in 4 Ezra 7 :[42] at the last judgment there is neither sun nor moon nor any natural light, “but only the splendour of the glory of the Most High”. “As the sun of righteousness Christ has been able to vanquish the sol inuictus of the Roman Cæsar-cultus” (Usener, Gôtternamen , p. 184). A cruder form of the idea occurs in the pseudo-Philonic Biblic. Antiquit . where “non erat necessarium lumen (for the night-march), ita exsplendebat genuinum lapidum lumen” ( i.e. , of the jewels on the Amorite idols), jewels which were replaced by twelve precious stones each engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes.

Verses 24-26

Further traits borrowed from Isaiah 60:0 . (see reff.).

Verse 25

νὺξ κ . τ . λ . “for no night (when even in peace they would be shut, Nehemiah 13:19 ) shall be there”.

Verse 26

From the tradition of En. liii. 1 and Ps. Sol. 17:34 35 (where the Gentile nations seek Jerusalem φέροντες δῶρα … καὶ ἰδεῖν τὴν δόξαν κυρίου , ἣν ἐδόξασεν αὐτὴν ὁ θεός ); cf. Apoc. Bar. lxviii. 5. The idea of 24 and 26 is of course literally inconsistent with those of Revelation 19:17 f. and Revelation 20:12 f., since on the new earth there were no residents except the risen saints. Both ideas were current in rabbinic eschatology (Gfrörer, ii. 238 f.), but the Apocalypse is entirely free from any such complacent estimate of Gentile outsiders ( cf. En. xc. 30). The discrepancy here, as in Revelation 22:5 , is imaginary. These details are simply poetical and imaginative, inserted from the older symbolism, in which they were quite appropriate, in order by their archaic and pictorial fulness to fill out the sketch of the future city. They have no allegorical significance.

Verse 27

R. Jochanan (Baba-Bathra f. 76, 2,) said the coming Jerusalem would not be like the present one: in hanc ingreditur quicunque uult, in illam uero non nisi qui ad eam ordinati sunt. Citizenship similarly in John’s new city is a matter of moral character and of divine election, not of nationality. The Lord’s city is like the Lord’s table, as the Ep. to Diognetus finely puts it (5) κοινή ἀλλʼ οὐ κοινή , communis but not profanus , “common and open to all, yet in another sense no common thing.” The trait is adapted from Slav. En. ix., where the garden-paradise of the third heaven is only for those loyal to their faith, humble, just, charitable and benevolent, blameless and whole hearted, while the hell of torture (Revelation 10:4-6 ) is reserved for all addicted to sodomy, witchcraft, theft, lying, murder, and fornication, besides oppression and callousness to human suffering. But βδ . and ψ . may be simply “idolatry” (as in LXX); the keynote of the book being struck once more (as in En. xcix. 9). In the Egyptian litany of the nine gods ( E. B. D. 35) every petition ends with the words, “I have not spoken lies wittingly, nor have I done aught with deceit,” and in Apoc. Bar. xxxix. 6 the seer accuses the Roman Empire thus: “by it the truth will be hidden, and all those who are polluted with iniquity will flee to it, as evil beasts flee and creep into the forest”.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 21". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/revelation-21.html. 1897-1910.
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