New Jerusalem Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible vs. 1 – 8


New Jerusalem Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible Revelation 21

VERSES: 1 – 8

Revelation 21:1-81 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

A new heaven and a new earth – See the notes on 2 Peter 3:13 : The ancient Jews believed that God would renew the heavens and the earth at the end of seven thousand years. The general supposition they founded on Isaiah 65:17.

There was no more sea – The sea no more appeared than did the first heaven and earth. All was made new; and probably the new sea occupied a different position and was differently distributed, from that of the old sea.

However, with respect to these subjects as they stand in this most figurative book, I must express myself in the words of Calmet: Vouloir dire quels seront ce nouveau ciel, et cette nouvelle terre, quels seront leurs ornamens et leur qualite, c’est a mon avis la plus grande de toutes les presomptions. En general, ces manieres de parler marquent de tres grands changemens dans l’univers. “To pretend to say what is meant by this new heaven and new earth, and what are their ornaments and qualities, is in my opinion the greatest of all presumptions. In general these figures of speech point out great alternations in the universe.”

2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I John – The writer of this book; whether the evangelist and apostle, or John the Ephesian presbyter, has been long doubted in the Church.

New Jerusalem – See the notes on Galatians 4:24-27 (note). This doubtless means the Christian Church in a state of great prosperity and purity; but some think eternal blessedness is intended.

Coming down from God – It is a maxim of the ancient Jews that both the tabernacle, and the temple, and Jerusalem itself, came down from heaven. And in Midrash Hanaalem, Sohar Gen. fol. 69, col. 271, Rab. Jeremias said, “The holy blessed God shall renew the world, and build Jerusalem, and shall cause it to descend from heaven.” Their opinion is, that there is a spiritual temple, a spiritual tabernacle, and a spiritual Jerusalem; and that none of these can be destroyed, because they subsist in their spiritual representatives. See Schoettgen.

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

The tabernacle of God is with men – God, in the most especial manner, dwells among his followers, diffusing his light and life everywhere.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

There shall be no more death – Because there shall be a general resurrection. And this is the inference which St Paul makes from his doctrine of a general resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:26, where he says, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” But death cannot be destroyed by there being simply no farther death; death can only be destroyed and annihilated by a general resurrection; if there be no general resurrection, it is most evident that death will still retain his empire. Therefore, the fact that there shall be no more death assures the fact that there shall be a general resurrection; and this also is a proof that, after the resurrection, there shall be no more death. See the whole of the note on 1 Corinthians 15:27.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Behold, I make all things new – As the creation of the world at the beginning was the work of God alone, so this new creation.

These words are true and faithful – Truth refers to the promise of these changes; faithfulness, to the fulfillment of these promises.

6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

It is done – All is determined, and shall be fulfilled in due time. The great drama is finished, and what was intended is now completed; referring to the period alluded to by the angel.

I am Alpha and Omega – See on Revelation 1:8 (note).

The fountain of the water of life – See on John 4:10 (note), John 4:14 (note); John 7:37 (note), etc.

The rabbins consider the fountain of the world to come as one of the particular blessings of a future state. In Sanhedrim, Aboth R. Nathan, c. 31, it is said, “He will show them the excellency of the fountain of the future world, that they may accurately see and consider, and say, Wo to us! what good have we lost! and our race is cut off from the face of the earth.”

7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Inherit all things – Here he had no inheritance; there he shall inherit the kingdom of heaven, and be with God and Christ, and have every possible degree of blessedness.

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

But the fearful – Δειλοις· Those who, for fear of losing life or their property, either refused to receive the Christian religion, though convinced of its truth and importance; or, having received it, in times of persecution fell away, not being willing to risk their lives.

And unbelieving – Those who resist against full evidence. And sinners, και ἁμαρτωλοις, is added here by about thirty excellent MSS., and is found in the Syrian, Arabic, some of the Slavonic, and in Andreas and Arethas. On this evidence Griesbach has admitted it into the text.

The abominable – Εβδελυγμενοις· Those who are polluted with unnatural lust.

And murderers – Φονευσι· Those who take away the life of man for any cause but the murder of another, and those who hate a brother in their heart.

And whoremongers – Πορνοις· Adulterers, fornicators, whores, prostitutes, and rakes of every description.

Sorcerers – Φαρμακοις· Persons who, by drugs, philtres, fumigations, etc., pretend to produce supernatural effects, chiefly by spiritual agency.

Idolaters – Ειδωλολατραις· Those who offer any kind of worship or religious reverence to any thing but God. All image worshippers are idolaters in every sense of the word.

And all liars – Και πασι τοις ψευδεσι· Every one who speaks contrary to the truth when he knows the truth, and even he who speaks the truth with the intention to deceive; i.e., to persuade a person that a thing is different from what it really is, by telling only a part of the truth, or suppressing some circumstance which would have led the hearer to a different end to the true conclusion. All these shall have their portion, το μερος, their share, what belongs to them, their right, in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. This is the second death, from which there is no recovery.

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