Now we move into the final chapters. I do plan on doing a post or 3, as God leads, following these commentaries. I want to reiterate that my viewpoint is only one of many and I don’t hold any insistent claims that I’m 100% right. Hopefully, the follow up post(s) will clear up a little of my though process as I view the overall consistency and relevance of the passages.
There are a lot of concepts in this chapter, but considering the story line so far, they should be reasonably easy to understand.
This chapter seems to circle back to just after the events of judgment on Israel around the period of 70 AD as we see the same new Jerusalem in chapters 12 and 19 descending. As I’ve listed in other posts, Jesus and the apostles all taught an imminent return of Jesus in his Kingdom. We now see that Kingdom in verse 2, that is, the spiritual Kingdom is now manifest among us, but the physical realm of human free will still exists. It would seem throughout the Bible that the element of human free will was always allowed by God. He did, at times, harden those who were already unrepentant to further his plan, but it was always initially their choice.
Verse 1 describes the new “heaven and earth” as the old have passed away. As shown before, this is the same thing Jesus mentions in Matt 5:18 related to ancient Israel. This references back to how Yahweh spoke of Israel, through the prophets, in the Old testament (Isaiah 1:2; Deut 32:1; Jer 2:12, 22:29). Heaven and earth, the old spiritual Israel, had passed away when the earthly remnants of that covenant were destroyed (the temple etc…). The new “heavens and earth” were then established. That is, the Israelites that converted became the first Christians of the New Covenant and brought the outsiders into the new Kingdom. This is why we see the reference of there being no more sea in verse 1. As mentioned previously, the sea seemed to represent outsiders which the old nation considered outcasts. The new spiritual nation of Israel consists of everyone.
In verses 3-4, we see what can be considered the “now and not yet.” The Kingdom is already among us in the spiritual. It’s up to us to begin to live in it in a more realized way. So many seem to live under the worldly kingdom, not knowing they are free to live as fully as possible in the spiritual Kingdom. Jesus speaks often of the Kingdom being here and now. He even speaks of how the religious elite of the time were not entering and attempting to block others from entering (Matt 23:14). It would seem that from the time of Jesus’ ministry, the new Kingdom was being built (John 4:23-24, 14:3), it’s full inception at Jesus’ Parousia. Verse 4, as mentioned before, becomes fully evident when we take our last breath here and fully awaken spiritually in Jesus’ Kingdom, though we can live out elements of it in the here and now as we draw closer to Jesus in this life.
As throughout the rest of the prophecies, the spiritual elements are manifest in the physical world. We are citizens of a spiritual Kingdom and we manifest that Kingdom through our physical lives—or should I say: Are we manifesting Jesus’ Kingdom through out lives or looking forward to a return of vengeance on “those others” just like ancient Israel anticipated?
In verses 5-8, we see that Jesus is making all things new. He gives freely of the water of life and all are welcome to become children of the Kingdom. However, those who choose physical desires over the spiritual Kingdom will have their part in the lake of fire. We see here a mention of a more grand plan than we may be able to imagine. When we consider passages such as Col 1:20, we see a concept that may be appropriate to further expand on. In Phil 2:10-11, we see every knee bowing to Jesus and every tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, which we see is only possible by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). Additionally, we see that kampsē (a derivative of kamptó) is used here—which seems to represent a willing bowing as opposed to sugkuptó—a forced bowing. Could it be possible that God’s plan is to save everyone? Would we dare to hope for such? Note, this isn’t saving our physical selves, this is saving our spiritual selves, though many may have to pass through the second death/lake of fire to be cleansed.
The rest of this chapter, 21:9-27, explains the beauty and grandeur of the New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ. In verses 24-26, we see that the “glory of the nations” will be brought into the city by its residents. This sounds like we are to live our lives as such that we bring others into the Kingdom. This also states that in the spiritual realm, only those who have been purified will be able to enter into the Kingdom.
In the final verse, 27, we see that only when their name is written in the book of life, will those who are outside of the Kingdom be allowed in. This is beginning to get into Chapter 22, so I will pick up here in the final installment of my commentary of these chapters specifically. As stated before, I plan, God willing, to write some additional post(s) after I finish the individual chapter reviews. As stated before, these are my personal views as pertinent to my prayerful studies and the context of the rest of the Bible. Please research for the meaning of these as relevant to your personal walk with Jesus.
The rest of this series can be found here.