Gill’s Exposition of Revelation 21:13 to 19


VERSES: 13 – 19

Revelation 21:13

v.13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

On the east three gates,…. On which were written the names of Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan:

on the north three gates; on which were written the names of Reuben, Judah, and Levi:

on the south three gates; on which were written the names of Simeon, Issachar, and Zabulon:

and on the west three gates; on which were written the names of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali; see Ezekiel 48:31. This denotes the collection of the saints from all parts of the world, who shall come from east, west, north, and south, and sit down in the kingdom of God; and therefore here are gates at every point to enter in at; see Isaiah 43:5.

Revelation 21:14

v.14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,…. Christ is the one and only foundation of his church and people, of the covenant of grace, and of salvation; and of faith, hope, peace, and joy, and of eternal happiness, and so of this glorious state of the church; he will be the light and temple of it, the glory and safety of it; he will be all in all in it; but because he has been ministerially laid as the foundation, by the twelve apostles, for men to build their present and future happiness upon, therefore the foundations of the wall of salvation are said to be twelve; see Ephesians 2:20. Moreover, this may denote the firm and immovable state of the church at this time, it being a city which has foundations, or is well founded, Hebrews 11:10 with which compare Isaiah 14:32. Hence it follows,

and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The Alexandrian copy, Vulgate Latin, Syriac and Arabic versions, read, “the twelve names of the twelve apostles”; the allusion seems to be to the inscribing of the names of builders on stones laid in the foundation, in memory of them; and so these wise master builders will be had in everlasting remembrance.

Revelation 21:15

v.15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

And he that talked with me,…. One of the seven angels, Revelation 21:9 for not a man is the measurer of this city, as in Ezekiel 40:3 nor John, as of the temple, Revelation 11:1 but an angel, the same that showed to John this great sight:

had a golden reed; not a common measuring reed, or rod, as in Ezekiel 40:4 but one covered with gold, denoting the present glorious state of the church, being without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing:

to measure the city; the new Jerusalem, its length and breadth; see Zechariah 2:1 to show how exactly conformable this church state will be to the rule of God’s word, even to perfection:

and the gates thereof; to signify who had a right to enter into it, and who not: and the wall thereof; its height, it being exceeding high.

Revelation 21:16

v.16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

And the city lieth foursquare,…. To the four corners of the world, from whence its inhabitants come, and denotes the regularity, uniformity, perfection, and immovable-ness of it.

And the length is as large as the breadth; this church state will be all of a piece, perfect, entire, and wanting nothing.

And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs; or fifteen hundred miles; a monstrously large city indeed! such an one as never was upon earth;see Ezekiel 48:35 and which shows, that this is not to be understood literally, but mystically; and intends the capaciousness of it, here being room enough for all the twelve tribes of Israel; that is, for all the elect of God; for as in Christ’s Father’s house, so in this kingdom state of his, there will be many mansions, or dwelling places, enough for all his people. This city will hold them all. The Jews[1][h] Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 24. 1. say of Jerusalem, that in time to come it shall be so enlarged, as to reach to the gates of Damascus, yea, to the throne of glory.

The length, and the breadth, and the height of it are equal. A perfectly uniform state! according to the Ethiopic version, it is in length twelve thousand furlongs, and every measure equal, so that it is so many furlongs in length, breadth, and height.

Revelation 21:17

v.17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits,…. The root of which is twelve, for twelve times twelve is a hundred and forty four; which number is mystical and apostolical, and suited to the perfect state of this church: hence twelve gates, and twelve angels at them, and the names of the twelve tribes on them, and twelve foundations of the wall, and twelve thousand furlongs, the measure of the city.

According to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel; who talked with John, and measured the city, gates, and wall, and who appeared in the form of a man; and his reed might be, as some have supposed, the length of a man, six cubits, or six feet, as in Ezekiel 40:5 and may denote that this business requires the utmost wisdom and understanding of a man, and even of an angel, to look into, and find out;see Revelation 13:18 and also may signify the angelic state of the saints at this time, when the children of the resurrection will be like the angels of God, for immortality and glory.

Revelation 21:18

v.18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

And the building of the wall of it was of jasper,…. Which is expressive of the impregnable-ness, 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.

Revelation 21:19

v.19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

And the foundations of the wall of the city,…. Which were twelve; see Revelation 21:14 were garnished with all manner of precious stones: see Isaiah 54:11 not that there were all manner of precious stones in every foundation, but in them all there were, and each foundation had its stone peculiar to it, as follows; and which are not applicable to the persons of the apostles, who were not the foundations, but on them their names only were written: and besides, the order of them, as given in the Evangelists and Acts of the Apostles, is not certain, and always the same, to which these several stories may be adjusted; though they are doubtless comparable to them for their preciousness in the sight of God, and Christ, and all the saints; and for the brightness and purity of their doctrine and lives; and for their zeal in the cause of Christ; and for their solidity, and invincible courage and constancy: much less are these precious stones applicable to a set of ministers in the latter day, who are to be useful in the conversion of the Jews in the several parts of the world, where these stones are found, as Brightman thinks, but to Jesus Christ, the one and only foundation: and without entering into the particular virtues and excellencies of these stones, in general, they set forth the worth and preciousness of Christ, who is the pearl of great price; the pleasure and delight had in viewing his excellencies and perfections; his brightness, purity, and glory, and his firmness and durableness, as a foundation. There may be some allusion to the twelve stones in the breastplate of the high priest, on which the names of the tribes of Israel were written[2](i) Vid. Targum Jon. & Jerus. in Exodus 28.17. Targum in Cant. v. 14. Shemot Rabba, sect. 38. fol. 138. 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 178. 3..

The first foundation was jasper; it was laid with a jasper stone, of which see Revelation 4:3. On this stone, in the breastplate, Benjamin’s name was written.

The second, sapphire; its colour is azure, or sky blue; it is transparent, and exceeding hard. Schroder says there are very good ones found in the borders of Bohemia and Silesia; but those which are brought from Pegu are most valuable: on this stone Issachar’s name was engraven.

The third, a chalcedony; it is of a misty grey colour, clouded with blue, yellow, or purple; the best is that which has a pale cast of blue; it is very much like the common agate; and the Hebrew word “cadcod”, is rendered agate in Isaiah 54:12 though it is thought to answer to the carbuncle in the breastplate, on which was written the name of Levi. And Pliny[3](k) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 7. speaks of carbuncles, called “charcedonies”, which R. Leo Mutinensis says[4](l) Shilte Hagibborim, fol. 45. 4. had their name in memory of the city of Carthagena. There is a precious stone mentioned in the Targum of Jonathan, called “cadcodin”, which answers to the diamond in the breastplate, on which Zabulon’s name was written; and in the Jerusalem Targum it is called “cadcedana”, and answers to the emerald, which had Judah’s name on it, and seems to be put for “chalcodin” and “chalcedana”, which agrees with the name of this stone.

The fourth, an emerald; of which see Revelation 4:3. The best of this sort are the eastern ones. Schroder says[5](m) Pharmacopoeia, l. 3. c. 5. p. 18. they are found in Cyprus, Britain, and other places, but not so good as the rest. On this stone Judah’s name was written.

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Original Source: 
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible


1 [h] Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 24. 1.
2 (i) Vid. Targum Jon. & Jerus. in Exodus 28.17. Targum in Cant. v. 14. Shemot Rabba, sect. 38. fol. 138. 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 178. 3.
3 (k) Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 7.
4 (l) Shilte Hagibborim, fol. 45. 4.
5 (m) Pharmacopoeia, l. 3. c. 5. p. 18.

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