Rev 21:1–8

21:1–8 The voice of God announces the descent of the New Jerusalem against the backdrop of total renovation—a new heaven and a new earth. God is the Alpha (1:8 note), the Creator whose purposes were expressed from the beginning, and the Omega, the Consummator who brings His purposes to final realization. God’s glory, power, and beauty within the sphere of heaven (ch. 4) now extend to all His people (v. 3). Evil and pain are abolished in the new creation, in contrast to the pain, suffering, and struggles running through the earlier parts of Revelation. The promises made to overcomers are now fulfilled (2:7 note).

The final visions of Revelation weave into a beautiful unity a host of biblical themes. Note the themes of creation (v. 1), the holy city of Jerusalem, communion with God expressed through marriage imagery (v. 2), the dwelling of God, including the tabernacle and temple (4:1–5:14 note), saints as God’s own people (v. 3), the end of suffering and death (v. 4), new deeds of salvation, trustworthiness of God’s Word (v. 5), living water (v. 6), becoming a son of God (v. 7), warnings to the faithless, and judgment (v. 8).

These verses are usually grouped with 21:9–22:5. The two passages present two aspects of the final vision of the New Jerusalem. Many realities are introduced in vv. 1–8 that appear with greater elaboration and in more visionary description in 21:9–22:5. But vv. 1–8 also have close relations to 20:11–15. The final judgment of God, in fact, has two sides: the negative side (the judgment of the wicked) is expressed in 20:11–15, while the positive side (the reward for the righteous) is expressed here. Within the negative message of 20:11–15 there is a positive note, the Book of Life (20:15). Similarly, within the positive message of vv. 1–8 there is one negative note, the lake of fire (v. 8). These verses and 20:11–15 are symmetric scenes depicting judgment both negatively and positively.