REVELATIO 22 COMME TARY
EDITED BY GLE PEASE
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life,
as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and
of the Lamb
BAR ES, “ And he showed me a pure river of water of life - In the New Jerusalem; the happy
abode of the redeemed. The phrase “water of life,” means living or running water, like a spring or
fountain, as contrasted with a stagnant pool. See the notes onJoh_4:14. The allusion here is doubtless
to the first Eden, where a river watered the garden (Gen_2:10, seq.), and as this is a description of
Eden recovered, or Paradise regained, it was natural to introduce a river of water also, yet in such a
way as to accord with the general description of that future abode of the redeemed. It does not spring
up, therefore, from the ground, but flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. Perhaps, also, the
writer had in his eye the description in Eze_47:1-12, where a stream issues from under the temple, and
is parted in different directions.
Clear as crystal - See the notes on Rev_4:6.
Proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb - Flowing from the foot of the throne.
Compare Rev_4:6. This idea is strictly in accordance with Oriental imagery. In the East, fountains and
running streams constituted an essential part of the image of enjoyment and prosperity (see the notes
on Isa_35:6), and such fountains were common in the courts of Oriental houses. Here, the river is an
emblem of peace, happiness, plenty; and the essential thought in its flowing from the throne is, that all
the happiness of heaven proceeds from God.
CLARKE, “Pure river of water of life - This is evidently a reference to the garden of paradise, and
the river by which it was watered; and there is also a reference to the account, Eze_47:7-12. Water of
life, as we have seen before, generally signifies spring or running water; here it may signify incessant
communications of happiness proceeding from God.
GILL, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life,.... Not baptism, which used to be
administered in rivers and pools of water; and which engaged to purity of life; and, the power and
authority of administering which was from God and Christ; but in this Jerusalem state there will be no
use nor need of ordinances; for Rev_22:1 belongs to the preceding chapter, and is a continuation of the
same account, this being not a new vision, but a part of the former, which the same angel, as in
Rev_21:9 proceeds to show to John: nor is the Holy Ghost intended by this river, whose gifts and
graces are sometimes, for their plenty, purity, and quickening virtue, compared to rivers of living
water; and who is a pure and holy Spirit, and proceeds from the Father and the Son: nor the doctrine
of the Gospel, which comes from the blessed God, and is the Gospel of Christ; and, when purely and
faithfully preached, is clear as crystal; and is the means of conveying spiritual life to men, and of
supporting it in them: nor the ultimate joys of heaven, which may be called a river of pleasure, for the
fulness and variety of delight; pure, and clear as crystal, for the holiness and perfect knowledge of that
state; and be said to proceed from the throne of God and the Lamb, being the free gift of God through
Christ; but this state is not designed here: rather, therefore, by this river is meant the everlasting love
of God, which may be compared to a river for its largeness and abundance, its height and depth, its
length and breadth; and for the large displays of it in this state, when its waters will increase, and be a
broad river to swim in, and be unpassable; and for the streams of it in election, redemption, calling,
justification, pardon, adoption, and eternal life, which make glad the city of God; and for the pleasure
it yields, and the fruitfulness it gives to those who drink of it: it may be called a river "of water of life",
because in the present state of things it quickens such who are dead in trespasses and sins; revives the
saints when dead and lifeless, supports their spirits, and is a cordial that preserves from fainting; it
keeps and secures from dying the second death and is the spring and source of eternal life; and that
itself will last and flow for ever, it is ever running water, it is everlasting love: and it may be said to be
clear as crystal, it being free from all hypocrisy and dissimulation, being real, hearty, and sincere,
both in the Father and in Christ, of which the fullest proofs and demonstrations are given; and being
clear of all motives and conditions in the creature, by which it might be influenced; and it engaging to
purity and holiness of life and conversation; for the doctrine, which brings the account of it, and the
inward principle of grace, which is the fruit of it, and every discovery of it, have a tendency hereunto:
proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb; not taking its rise from man's
obedience, nor from his love to God, nor from his faith in Christ; for the love of God is prior to all
these, and is the spring and cause of them, and therefore cannot be moved and influenced by them; but
it has its origin from the sovereignty of God and of Christ, signified by the throne of both, who will be
gracious to whom they will be gracious; nor can any reason be given why they love any of the sons of
men, but their own sovereign will and pleasure; this is the sole motive, spring, and cause of their love;
and God and the Lamb being mentioned together, shows both the equal dignity of their persons, being
on the same throne, and the equality of their love to the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem: and thus, as
a river adds to the pleasure, use, convenience, and wholesomeness of a city, this glorious city is
commended by such a river running by it, or in the midst of it: there may be an allusion to the river
which ran out of the garden of Eden, for this will be a paradisiacal state,Gen_2:9 or rather to the
waters in Eze_47:1 which came from under the threshold of the Sanctuary; though this river proceeds
not from the temple, there being no temple in this state, but from the throne of God and the Lamb,
which is instead of it.
HE RY, “The heavenly state which was before described as a city, and called the new Jerusalem, is
here described as a paradise, alluding to the earthly paradise which was lost by the sin of the first
Adam; here is another paradise restored by the second Adam. A paradise in a city, or a whole city in a
paradise! In the first paradise there were only two persons to behold the beauty and taste the pleasures
of it; but in this second paradise whole cities and nations shall find abundant delight and satisfaction.
And here observe,
I. The river of paradise. The earthly paradise was well watered: no place can be pleasant or fruitful
that is not so. This river is described, 1. By its fountain-head -the throne of God and the Lamb. All our
springs of grace, comfort, and glory, are in God; and all our streams from him are through the
mediation of the Lamb. 2. By its quality - pure and clear as crystal. All the streams of earthly comfort
are muddy; but these are clear, salutary, and refreshing, giving life, and preserving life, to those who
drink of them.
JAMISO , “Rev_22:1-21. The river of life: The tree of life: The other blessednesses of the redeemed.
John forbidden to worship the angel. Nearness of Christ’s coming to fix man’s eternal state.
Testimony of Jesus, His Spirit, and the Bride, any addition to which, or subtraction from which,
shall be eternally punished. Closing benediction.
pure — A, B, Vulgate, and Hilary 22, omit.
water of life — infinitely superior to the typical waters in the first Paradise (Gen_2:10-14); and
even superior to those figurative ones in the millennial Jerusalem (Eze_47:1, Eze_47:12; Zec_14:8), as
the matured fruit is superior to the flower. The millennial waters represent full Gospel grace; these
waters of new Jerusalem represent Gospel glory perfected. Their continuous flow from God, the
Fountain of life, symbolizes the uninterrupted continuance of life derived by the saints, ever fresh,
from Him: life in fullness of joy, as well as perpetual vitality. Like pure crystal, it is free from every
taint: compare Rev_4:6, “before the throne a sea of glass, like crystal.”
clear — Greek, “bright.”
HAWKER, “God the Holy Ghost in this Chapter finisheth the Subject of all the Prophecies; and with it,
the whole Canon of Scripture. The Lord gives the Church a further Account of the Holy City. Here is
spoken of, the River of Life, and the Tree of Life; and the Lord’s Promise, of coming quickly. A gracious
Invitation at the End, to all the People of God. A solemn Caution, not to add to, or take from, the
Things written herein.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God
and of the Lamb.
With what a blessed fulness this Chapter opens! A river of water of life. Not a stream, not a pool, which
might be subject to dry; but a river. And not only a river, but of water of life; giving life wheresoever it
shall come. And what can this prefigure, but the everlasting, ever-living, and ever-flowing love of
Jehovah, in his three-fold character of Persons; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? And what, a thought it
is, to refresh the soul of a child of God this river hath been running in love to the Church in Christ from
all eternity. Yea, there never was a moment in the eternal world, call that moment in the language of
eternity by whatever name you may, in which it can be said that God began to love the Church, For this
Would imply a change in God. A thing impossible. Hence, if it be asked, when God’s love to the Church
began; it must be said, from the same time God began to be; even from all eternity. Reader pause, and
ponder well this love of God; and then look at this river so running from out of the throne of God and
But though running from all eternity, and to all eternity; yet you and I could trace nothing of it, until
by the washing from it, in regeneration, we were quickened into spiritual life to behold its pure and
living streams. It ran, hidden from all view, in the secret purposes of God, until by rising above ground
in the time-state of the Church, it ran down from the first opening of creation, through redemption in
Christ’s blood; and the water of regeneration by the Holy Ghost, and all the streams, made glad the
city of God, Eph_1:7; Tit_3:3-5; Psa_46:4.
The properties of this river are most blessed. It is said to be pure. And, as it flows from God, how shall
it be otherwise than pure; and how sure to make clean all hearts wheresoever it comes. It is said to be
clear as crystal. Yes! everything is clear in divine truths, when God is the Teacher. God the Father gives
clear revelations of his Son, Eph 1. God the Son maketh himself known to his people otherwise than he
doth to the world, Joh 14. And God the Spirit taketh of the things of Christ, and showeth to the people,
when giving testimony in the heart of the child of God to the Father’s revelation of Jesus. Reader! do
not fail to observe that this river was seen by John proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb.
This proves the existence of Three Persons in the Godhead. For when Christ spake of the Holy Ghost,
as being, given to the Church, he described him as rivers of living Water,Joh_7:37-39. Here then we
see it. This river proceeded from God and the Lamb. And let not the Reader overlook the blessed
qualities of this river. It is a River, full, pure, clear, yea, the water of life; giving life wheresoever it
comes. Blessed be God for opening to the Church’s view, through John, a sight of this river. And,
Reader! if a sight of it be blessed; what must an enjoyment of it be! the blessedness to drink of it, to
wash in it, and to have everlasting life from it, in the united mercies of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
“THE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE”
The first five verses of this chapter obviously belong to the preceding one, from which they should not
be severed. The ever-flowing river of life proves that the whole life of the blessed depends on the life of
God, resident in the enthroned Lamb and communicated through the Holy Spirit. In Eden there was
one tree of life; in the New Jerusalem there is a grove with perennial fruit, not protected by a flaming
sword, but standing freely in the main thoroughfare, that all who will may take. Observe the threefold
description of the saints-they serve, they behold, and they resemble Rev_22:3-4. No night with its
shadow; no rest is needed in the delightful service; no artificial, but un-derived and original light; no
cessation of regnant power, for they shall reign forever and ever.
When the visions end, John is assured of the reality and truth of all that he has heard and seen. It
appears that the Master Himself broke in with the assurance of His speedy advent; and who shall say
that that assurance has failed, when we measure the flight of time with the years of the right hand of
the Most High? We should remember also that the fall of Jerusalem and the sack of Jerusalem marked
stages in the Advent.
SB. “Contents: The New Paradise and its river of the water of life. The last exhortation of Christ—to
be ready for His second coming.
Conclusion: The Paradise lost by the first Adam shall be restored by the Second Adam, and in this
Paradise there shall be multitudes saved through the Lamb, to behold its beauties and to taste its
pleasures forever. Let all men labor to understand the prophecies of these things shortly coming to
pass that they might be prepared to meet the Lord Jesus, having embraced His salvation, yea, and
earnestly longing and praying for the hour of His appearance. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Key Word: Imminent return, Rev_22:7, Rev_22:12, Rev_22:20.
Strong Verses: Rev_22:3, Rev_22:7, Rev_22:17, Rev_22:18, Rev_22:19, Rev_22:20, Rev_22:21.
Promises: Rev_22:4, Rev_22:5, Rev_22:12, Rev_22:14.
Striking Facts: The Bible closes with emphasis on the fidelity of the Scriptures (Rev_22:6) on
salvation by grace the free gift of the Lord Jesus (Rev_22:17) and on the doctrine of the pre-millennial
return of Christ (Rev_22:7, Rev_22:12, Rev_22:20). The great “peace prayer” of the Bible, and the last
prayer of the Bible, is “Come, Lord Jesus,” and Jesus’ last recorded words are, “Surely, I come quickly.
Amen.” This is the thought He would leave with us. May God open the eyes of every reader to the
“blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”—
Genesis begins with creation. Revelation ends with the New Creation.
In Genesis we have the first Sabbath. Revelation closes with the holy rest in the new creation.
Genesis gives us the first Adam, head of the old humanity. Revelation leaves us with the second
Adam, head of the new humanity.
Genesis gives us Eve, the wife of the first Adam, sinning, condemned and sorrowing. Revelation
leaves us with the second Eve, the Bride of Christ, exalted, holy and glorious.
In Genesis we have exclusion from the tree of life. Revelation leaves us with access to it and
authority over it.
In Genesis we have an earth cursed. In Revelation we have the earth fully delivered from the curse.
Genesis gives us Satan tempting and bruising. In Revelation we leave him bruised and in the lake of
In Genesis we have the first sob and tear. In Revelation all tears and sighing are forever gone.
PULPIT, “And he showed me a pure river. Omit "pure." "And" CONNECTS this part of the vision with what
precedes (Revelation 21:9-27). It would have been better, perhaps, if the twenty-first chapter had included the first
five verses of the twenty-second, so as to take in the whole of the description of the heavenly Jerusalem. But there
is a break at this point, as is indicated by the repetition of "And he showed me," which points to a new phase or
section of the vision. In the previous section (Revelation 21:9-27) the angel had showed St. John the city and its
wails with their gates and foundations; in this section he shows him the river of the water of life, and the tree of life.
The latter part of each section is occupied with the evangelist's own observations (Revelation 21:22-27; Revelation
22:3-5), for we cannot suppose that the phrase, "these words," in verse 6, is intended to APPLY specially to
anything in these particular sections. He is the angel mentioned in verse 9, and again referred to in verses 10, 15,
16, 17. Most probably the pronoun "he" in verse 6 does not refer to the same angel as this one. River. The source
of this stream, its course or channel, and its fertile BANKS , are mentioned or implied in what follows; but there is
no reference to any estuary or mouth: eternity is the ocean in which this river is lost. Of water of life. ὕδωρ
ζωῆς is perhaps identical in meaning with "living water,"ὕδωρ ζῶν, but is properly distinguished from it in
translation. The two expressions are peculiar to St. John's writings in the New Testament; the genitival form, which
is the more Hebraizing, only occurs in this book inRevelation 7:17; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:1, Revelation
22:17; whereas the participial and more classical form is confined to the Gospel ( John 4:10;John 7:38). "Living
water," in its simplest literalness, means such water as is pure, flowing, clear, fresh, and wholesome; not stagnant,
or turbid, or salt. Hence it is a proper term for the water of a beautiful and fertilizing river. Here, however, the
genitival form reminds us of the familiar expression, similarly moulded, "the tree of life," which inclines us to think
that" water of life" signifies water possessing life giving powers, water which restores, REFRESHES , supports
life, and is therefore to be compared with "living water" taken in its spiritual sense. Of this whosoever drinketh shall
never thirst again; when it has been once received within the soul, it becomes a well of water springing up into
everlasting life (John 4:14). Clear as crystal, PROCEEDING out of the throne of God and of the
Lamb; clear, ortransparent. We seldom use the rendering of the Revised Version, bright, as an epithet of
water. As crystal (see note on Revelation 4:6, the only other place in the New Testament where the word occurs).
The source of the river was in the Divine throne, the seat of the Triune God and the crucified Saviour. All eternal
life is derived from our heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit for the sake of the Redeemer.
BARCLAY, “THE RIVER OF LIFE
And he showed me the river of the water of life, shining like crystal, coming out from the throne of God and of the Lamb,
in the midst of the city street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, which produced twelve kinds of fruit,
rendering its fruit according to each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
So far the description has been of the exterior of the holy city; now the scene moves inside.
First, there is the river of the water of life. This picture has many sources in the Old Testament. At its back is the river
which watered the Garden of Eden and made it fruitful (Gen.2:8-16). Still closer is Ezekiel's picture of the river which
issued from the Temple (Eze.47:1-7). The Psalmist sings of the river whose streams make glad the city of God (Ps.46:4).
"A fountain," says Joel, "shall come forth from the house of the Lord" (Jl.3:18). "Living waters," says Zechariah, "shall
flow out from Jerusalem" (Zech.14:8). In Second Enoch there is the picture of a river in Paradise, which issues in the third
heaven, which flows from beneath the tree of life, and which divides into four streams of honey, milk, wine, and oil (2
Enoch 8: 5).
Closely allied with this is the picture so common in Scripture of the fountain of life; we have it in Rev. 7:17; Rev. 21:6 in
the Revelation. It is Jeremiah's complaint that the people have forsaken God who is the fountain of living waters to hew
themselves out broken cisterns which can hold no water (Jer.2:13). The warning in Enoch is:
Woe to you who drink water from every fountain, For suddenly shall ye be consumed and wither away, Because ye have
forsaken the fountain of life (Enoch 96: 6).
The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life (Prov.10:11). The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life (Prov.13:14). The
fear of the Lord is a fountain of life (Prov.14:27). Wisdom is a fountain of life to him who has it (Prov.16:22). With God,
says the Psalmist, is the fountain of life (Ps.36:9). "God," said the rabbis in their dreams of the golden age, "will produce a
river from the Holy of Holies, beside which every kind of delicate fruits will grow."
H. B. Swete identifies the river of life with the Spirit. In the Fourth Gospel Jesus says: "He who believes in me, out of his
heart shall flow rivers of living water." John goes on to explain: "This he said about the Spirit which those who believed in
him were to receive" (Jn.7:38-39).
But it may well be that there is something simpler here. Those who live in a civilization in which the turn of a tap will
bring cold, clear water in any quantity can scarcely understand how precious water was in the East. In the hot lands water
was, and is, literally life. And the river of life may well stand for the abundant life God provides for his people which is
there for the taking.
THE TREE OF LIFE
Rev. 22:1-2 (continued)
In this passage there is an ambiguity of punctuation. In the midst of the city street may be taken, not as the end of the first
sentence, but as the beginning of the second. It will then be not the river which is in the midst of the street but the tree of
life. Taking the phrase with the first sentence seems to give the better picture.
John takes his picture of the tree of life from two sources--from the tree in the Garden of Eden (Gen.3:6); and even more
from Ezekiel. "And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will
not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for
healing" (Eze.47:12). Here again the rabbinic dreams of the future are very close. One runs: "In the age to come God will
create trees which will produce fruit in any month; and the man who eats from them will be healed."
The tree gives many and varied fruits. Surely in that we may see the symbolism of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23). In
the different fruit for each month of the year may we not see symbolized that in the life which God gives there is a special
grace for each age from the cradle to the grave? The tree of life is no longer forbidden; it is there in the midst of the city
for all to take. Nor are its fruits confined to the Jews; its leaves are for the healing of the nations. Only in the Spirit of God
can the wounds and the breaches of the nations be healed.
COFFMAN, “"The vision in this last chapter of Revelation is directly CONTINUOUS with what has
preceded." There are many things in this glorious vision which lie beyond our total comprehension; but so it was
with the ancient prophecies of the Old Testament. What could have been more incomprehensible than the
prophecies that a holy virgin would conceive and bear a son, that a man should die and not see corruption in the
grave, or that one despised and rejected by man should be established forever upon the throne of David? "Yet the
pious Jew preserved his faith amidst all these wonderful, and in appearance, contradictory intimations."  Just so,
Christians should receive the great prophecies of the New Testament in the fullest confidence that, despite having
no accurate knowledge of how these things shall all be fulfilled, they shall nevertheless come to pass exactly as
God has said. The ultimate triumph of Christianity over all the corruptions of earth is the will of God; and nothing
can stand in the way of that.
In this chapter, for the first time, "The imagery of the paradise of Eden, linking the end of HISTORY with its
beginning, appears." John took the motif of the Fall in Genesis 3 and described the COMPLETE reversal of it
to convey the ultimate glory of man in Christ Jesus."
Those scholars are wrong who connect the imagery of these glorious chapters with pagan myths, folklore,
apocryphal writings, and the literature of classical paganism. The apostles of Christ knew nothing of such things. It
is likely true that certain vestiges of ancient truth handed down through Adam's posterity in a garbled, distorted,
and perverted condition might indeed have been preserved and referred to in pagan myths of folklore; "But our
apocalyptist and the Old Testament writers from whom his imagery is taken are without doubt unconscious of such
primitive connections, if they exist." Even the Old Testament prophecies which seem to be reflected in much of
the terminology of Revelation must not be thought of as determining John's meaning here. Those interpreters who
take the obvious reference of certain Old Testament prophecies to the literal Jerusalem as proof that the visions in
Revelation must also be APPLIED to literal Jerusalem have missed the point altogether. These final chapters
do not refer to a return of Jews to Jerusalem (literally). "That interpretation is far-fetched and is not borne out in the
scriptures." Many have simply overlooked the truth that John did not receive this vision from a study of the Old
Testament, nor from pagan or secular literature. The vision came from God through Jesus Christ to the apostle
John. "He (the apostle), not the Old Testament prophets, determined what the content and meaning of his words
 George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company, 1972), p. 286.
 Floyd Myers, Difficult Passages in Revelation Examined (Pekin, Indiana: Floyd Myers, 1960), p. 170.
 G. R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation (Greenwood, South Carolina: The Attic Press, 1974), p. 330.
 Douglas Ezell, Revelations on Revelation (Waco: Word Books, 1977), p. 109.
 Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1919), p. 764.
 Joseph M. Gettys, How to STUDY Revelation (Philadelphia: John Knox Press, 1955), p. 111.
 Ibid., p. 112.
And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, PROCEEDING out of the throne of God and
of the Lamb, (Revelation 22:1)
River ... water of life ... This metaphor was used by Jesus himself in his CONVERSATION with the woman of
Samaria (John 4:10), and in his reference to "living water" (John 7:37,38). This is in no sense a literal river. Ponce
de Leon's search for "the fountain of youth" was a wild goose chase; he did not find it, nor will it be in heaven,
literally. However, the reality symbolized by it will be there. Therefore, all of the arguments about where, precisely,
this river is located in the city of God are unnecessary. The point is that eternal life will belong to those who ENTER
Proceeding out of the throne ... This is the throne of God and of the Lamb, so Beasley-Murray is right in saying,
"The river flows from Christ." However, he is wrong in the view that "Christ took the place of the temple."  Just
the opposite is true: secular Israel had permitted the temple to take the place of Christ who is the true temple.
The throne of God and of the Lamb ... In the fact of the eternal throne of God being here identified also as the
throne of the Lamb is also the inherent truth that, "The kingdom in which Christ NOW reigns may be called also
the kingdom of God." There are not two kingdoms any more than there are two thrones.
 G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 331
 John T. Hinds, A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), p.
BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR, “The life river
It is a river of heaven. They that drink of it must drink immortality and love. “It is the river of God.”
II. It is a river of grace. It flows from the throne of the Lamb; and everything that has connection with
the Lamb is necessarily of grace.
III. It is a river of power. It comes from the throne—the throne of God; and therefore possessing the
properties of that throne. It communicates power into the soul of every one that drinks, or even that
walks along its banks. The power and authority of God are in it; for it issues from the fountainhead of
IV. A river of purity. “A pure river of water of life!” Like the Lamb from whose throne it comes, who is
without blemish, and without spot! Like the city through which it flows, into which nothing that
defileth shall enter! As it pours its heavenly waters on us now, it purifies.
V. A river of life. Wheresoever the river cometh it quickeneth (Eze_47:9). Each drop is life-giving; it
contains everlasting life, for the Spirit of life is in that river.
VI. A river of brightness. The words “clear as crystal” should be “bright as crystal”—the same word as
in Rev_22:16, “the bright and morning star.” It is river of splendour, Divine and heavenly splendour.
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
The river of life: or the spiritual enjoyments of the heavenly life
I. The spiritual enjoyments of the heavenly life are abundant in their measure. “And He showed me a
pure river.” Great cities are generally built on the banks of rivers to ensure health, commerce, and
pleasure. The spread of the Gospel is sometimes set forth under the emblem of a river (Eze_17:1;
Hab_2:14; Psa_16:4). Here, however, we have the spiritual enjoyment of redeemed and glorified
humanity imaged forth. St. John did not see a brook, or a well, but a river flowing from the great
Throne. The spiritual enjoyments of heaven are not scanty. On this river the richest products will be
borne to glorified humanity.
II. The spiritual enjoyments of the heavenly life are pure in their nature. “Pure”—“Clear as crystal.”
Are we to judge of the purity of water by its cleansing properties? Then none so pure as this which
flows from the Throne of God, as it can purify the unclean soul. It can wash out sins of the deepest dye
from the garments of the moral nature, and make them white as no fuller on earth can whiten them;
hence, the faultless multitude before the throne.
III. The spiritual enjoyments of the heavenly life are invigorating in their energy. “Water of life.” This
great river of heaven is not sluggish in its flow, but quick and rapid. It gives life and verdure wherever
it comes. The things of earth are dead and barren, but when touched by the influence and grace of the
Divine Spirit they teem with vitality. But the life of the soul now is nothing in intensity as compared
with what it will be when it attains the enjoyment of heaven. Then it will become possessed of an
immortal vitality which shall know from decay or decline.
IV. The spiritual enjoyments of the heavenly life eternally meet the needs of the human soul. The
thirsty there have a river at which they can drink, and which will never be exhausted. The Divine gifts
in heaven will be adapted to the requirements of our renewed and glorified natures. Thus the soul will
be made glad.
V. The spiritual enjoyments of the heavenly life are the outcome of the sovereign mercy of God. “Out
Of the Throne of God and of the Lamb.” And so all the spiritual enjoyments of heaven, in abundance,
in purity, in life, in satisfaction, and in perpetuity will be the outcome of the Sovereign Grace of God as
exercised through and manifested in the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ. Lessons:
1. That we should prize the ordinances through which the water of life is conveyed to men.
2. Contemplate the active spiritual enjoyment of the good. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Divine love river
I. Exhaustless. It rises from the infinitude of the Divine nature—a source unfathomable.
II. Universal. This river rolls everywhere. It rolls under the universe: and all things float on its waves.
It refreshes and beautifies all.
III. Ever flowing. The inexhaustible fountain is always active, outpouring itself. Creation is a work
never finished, for the river of Divine love is overflowing.
IV. Restorative. It at once resuscitates and cleanses: it quenches thirst and removes defilement. Christ
is the channel through which flows this soul-restorative love. (Homilist.)
Christianity a transcendental system
I. It is transcendental in its Value. What on earth is of such worth as water? But what is the character
of this water?
1. It is a “river”—not a stagnant pool, a sleeping lake, or a purling brook; but a river, profound in
depth, majestic in volume, resistless in movement.
2. It is a “pure” river. How pure is Christianity! How holy its morals, how morally perfect its
3. It is a pure river of life.
4. It is a pure river of life that is transparent. “Clear as crystal.”
II. It is transcendental in its Origin.
1. It proceeds from “the throne”—the centre of universal authority. Christianity is a code rather
than a creed, more regulative than speculative.
2. It proceeds from the “throne of God.” Christianity is a Divine system; its congruity with all
collateral history, with our moral intuitions, with all oura priori notions of a God, proves its
3. It proceeds from the “throne of God and of the Lamb.” Christ has to do with it. Conclusion: Such
is the gospel. Value river. Kind Heaven, speed the course of this river! May it penetrate every
region of the world, and roll its waves of life through every heart! (Homilist.)
I. Wherein the glorified life in heaven will be similar to, and wherein it will differ from, spiritual life on
1. The first truth that meets us in this passage is, that the influences which will sustain the future
life in heaven are described in precisely the same figurative language as that used by our Lord and
the inspired writers in relation to the spiritual life on earth. That which John saw flowing in the
midst of the street from its perennial source in the throne of God and the Lamb was a river of
“water” of life. This is exactly the language used in Scripture to indicate the powers and influences
which sustain the spiritual man in this world. Isaiah invites men to partake of spiritual blessings in
the words: “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” Jeremiah thus laments over the
unfaithfulness of the Jews: “‘For my people have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and
have hewn out to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” “If thou knewest
the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of
Him, and He would have given thee living water.” We are clearly taught, therefore, by this vision of
the apostle, that while the outward condition of the life in heaven will be vastly changed, the weak
and sinful body giving place to one like the glorified body of Christ—yet the life itself will be the
same. We shall then continue to be what we begin to be now. Heavenly life, in its deepest and
inmost reality, is begun on earth. As, in the unopened bud, there are in microscopic form all that
will afterwards expand into the flower; as, in the child, there are all the incipient faculties that will
afterwards develop into the full power and maturity of manhood; so with man as a spiritual being.
Grace is the infancy of glory, and glory is the manhood of grace. Natural death, which, when seen
from the human side, appears an overwhelming catastrophe, can have no power over that life—it
only separates the germ from the material husk in which it has been enclosed.
2. As then the future life will be a continuation under changed conditions of the life we possess
now, it follows not only that present experience must in its measure be the only true interpretation
of the future, but, further, the glory of that future life reflects light back upon the present. It
becomes us not only to fix our hopes upon the blessings yet in reserve, but to prize highly those we
have already received. While we think of heaven as the one hope of the present life, let us learn to
set more value on and use more diligently the grace which sovereign mercy has already bestowed.
II. Wherein the glorified life in heaven will differ from spiritual life on earth.
1. Observe, as the first special characteristic of this water of life, that it flows in a river, at once
suggesting the idea of unfailing abundance. Our great rivers never become dry. Generations of men
are born and perform their part in life and then die, while the rivers of which they drank, and
beside which they built their cities, remain the same. Some, like the Nile, have been flowing from
long before historic times. “Men may come, and men may go, but they flow on for ever.” And the
blessings that will be given in the future to sustain the spiritual life of the believer are here
symbolised by a river of water of life, denoting certainly, among other things, that in heaven there
will be an unfailing abundance of whatever is necessary to sustain the life and growth of the
spiritual nature. No pressing need will ever darken the brightness of that Divine home, or promote
the decay of spiritual vigour. The river flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. Its source is
perennial. Sooner shall all the powers of the universe fail; sooner shall God Himself cease to be
God, than the fountains from which spiritual blessings flow become dry or empty.
2. Observe, as a second point, that John saw the river of water of life flowing in the midst of the
street. To understand the symbolism here, we must remember that the street is the place where
men meet together, where they pursue their varied occupations. And the golden undefiled street of
the New Jerusalem represents the scene of the common activities of the life there. And the position
of the river flowing in the midst of the street teaches the truth that whatever the occupations may
be, there will be nothing in them antagonistic to the highest interests of the spiritual life. Now the
street is the scene of ears and toil. Here on earth it is the place where temptations have to be met,
where sin assaults and wickedness displays itself. No river of water of life flows in the midst of our
streets, but rather the waters of ungodliness and iniquity. The man who longs for communion with
God does not go into the open highways of human traffic to find strength and peace: he goes,
rather, into his closet. He must put the world outside in order to pray for the lessening of the power
of the world within. But in heaven fellowship with God will need neither abstraction nor privacy.
Every occupation will harmonise with the highest aspirations of man’s renewed nature. All
outward things will perfectly accord with and promote the well-being of his spirit.
3. Observe, further, John speaks in the most emphatic manner of the purity of that river. “A pure
river of water of life clear as crystal.” Spiritual influences, the truth that enlightens, the Divine
grace that quickens and sustains the spirit, are in themselves always pure. But how continually on
earth they become dimmed and weakened by mixing with what is human and worldly! How
strangely truth becomes mixed with error, and Divine influences marred and weakened by human
passions and prejudices! What man can maintain that he has received and holds only the truth?
that he has made no mistakes? that in him the grace of God is unmarred by any human weaknesses
or by any contrary affections? But in heaven the river of water of life is “pure, clear as crystal”; it
has no admixture of error or imperfection; it has never become adulterated by inferior elements.
4. Then observe, as a last point, this vision of John teaches that in heaven faith will give place to
sight. John “saw the river of water of life proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb.” How
much of unbelief and misbelief mingles with the strongest faith on earth! How insidiously doubts
creep into our minds and rob them of their joyful confidence! There are times when our fear
suggests that the ground of our faith is slipping away from beneath our feet. But those who will
drink of that pure stream will behold the source whence it comes; they will have no need of faith,
and they will have no temptation to doubt. Every joy will be permeated and intensified by a sense
of blessed certainty that it is the true gift of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. (W. H. King.)
The river of life
I. Its source.
II. Its progress.
III. Its properties.
1. Living. “Water of life” (Joh_4:10).
2. Pure (Eze_36:25; Eph_4:30).
3. Bright. “Clear as crystal.” Radiant with light. Illuminating.
IV. Its effects.
1. Quickening (Eze_47:9; Joh_4:14; Joh_7:37-39).
2. Beautifying (Isa_35:1; Isa_35:6-7; Isa_58:11).
3. Fructifying (Rev_22:12; Jer_17:8; Psa_1:3; Isa_55:1; Rev_22:17). (E. H. Hopkins.)
Gleaming as crystal
If we are to understand the New Jerusalem properly, we almost need to have been citizens of the old.
Observe, then, that the ancient Jerusalem was not situated, as most cities, on the banks of some river,
or the shore of some sea. It stood in a peculiar position, at some distance from either: it was badly
watered; we read of a pool or two, of a little brook, of an aqueduct and some other artificial water-
structures. Bearing this fact in mind, you will understand how forcible an appeal to the imagination
would be contained in the verse of the 46th Psalm, which tells of a river that should “make glad the city
of God.” In evidence of the foregoing you may notice the following remark of Philo on the verse
quoted: “The holy city, which exists at present, in which also the holy temple is established, is at a
great distance from any sea or river, so that it is clear that the writer here means figuratively to speak
of some other city than the visible city of God.” It is evident, therefore, that the mention of a pure,
fresh stream flowing through the midst of Jerusalem was a figure of a very striking nature; and we say
that the basis of this magnificent description in the Apocalypse lies in the insufficiency of the water
supply of the ancient city. The life of the future, and by that we mean heaven on earth as well as
heaven, shall be as different from that which you are now realising as the water supply of Jerusalem
would be if a river flowed in the midst, from what it is now with merely Kidron and Bethesda and
Siloam and Solomon’s Pools.
1. It is not a standstill life: no one can stand still who lives with God. There must be fresh
discoveries of truth and duty every day; and fresh inquisition made into the heights and depths of
Redeeming Love. Abandonment to God must mean advancement in God.
2. Neither in earth nor in heaven is the life to be an intermittent one. There should be no such
word as “revival” in the dictionary of the Christian Church: we want “life,” not “revival.” You hear
people saying of certain religious movings—“They are having quite a revival”; alas! and were they
dead before? Indeed, I am sure this intermittent fountain expresses only too accurately the lives of
many of us. The best that God can do with us is to make us an occasional blessing—a sorrowful
thing to confess when there are suffering ones around waiting and watching the surface of our
hearts to see whether there is any moving of the water.
3. It is not a life for which the world is too strong, and which cannot therefore be kept pure. It is
not figured by a little brook, as Kidron, defiled with all the impurities of a city, and that an Oriental
city. And yet how many lives there are of which we have to say, “The world is too strong for them”;
well-intentioned people, but feeble in grace, and who have received but little of the Life of God.
4. It is not a humanly-devised life, as Solomon’s aqueducts. Our faith stands not in the wisdom of
men, but in the power of God. The Divine Life is not sect, and it is not system. The channel of a
sect! it is a pipe that bursts when the tide of life rises beyond a certain point. The channel of a
system I it is an aqueduct through which, if one stone be taken out, the water ceases to reach you.
If one travels on the continent, one can see (I think it is at Avignon) the ruins of the ancient Roman
aqueduct; but the Rhine and the rest of the rivers of God flow on still, full of water.
5. Finally, we may say, that the Life is one of absolute dependence, and is conditioned on the
sovereignty of God and of the Lamb. Grace and the Holy Ghost are the portions of the dependent
soul: they only flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (J. Rendel Harris.)
The throne of God and of the Lamb.—
The coronation of the Lamb
Regarding here the mere grammar of the words, we have a partnership Deity presented. But the
matter I have now in hand is not the plurality encountered, but the name; to trace the ascending
progress, issued in the final coronation, of the Lamb. The ascending stages of this progress we shall
best discover if we glance at the Scripture record of the story. The word “lamb” begins of course at the
creature, and the creature required, first of all, to be created, having just the qualities of innocence,
inoffensiveness, incapacity of resentment and ill-nature, ready submissiveness to wrong, necessary to
the intended meaning, and the finally sacred uses, of the word. Lambs of nature were first-stage
symbols, for the due unfolding of the Lamb of religion. Then follows, we may see, a process in which
artificial meanings are woven into and about the words and images provided, by the religious uses of
sacrifice; for God is now to be displayed in the dear passivities of sacrifice. Abel. Sacrifice of Isaac.
Passover (Isa_3:1-26; Isa_53:1-12.). At last the fulness of time is come; when a strange new prophet
appears, announcing the kingdom of God now at hand. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the
sin of the world.” Now at last the advances and preparations of so many ages are ended, the Lamb of
God is come. And then what does He Himself do, three years after, when He encounters the two
disciples going back, heavy-hearted, into the country, but open to them all the ancient scripture,
showing out of it how certainly Christ ought to suffer, and so to be the Lamb of prophecy. And what
does He give them to see, in this manner, but that all sacrifice and passover are now fulfilled forever in
His Divine passion? Then, passing on a stage farther, we are completely certified in our impressions,
by the discovery that, at this same Lamb and passover blood, all apostolic preaching begins. God’s new
gospel of life is the revelation of the Lamb. For this, says Philip to the eunuch, is the prophet’s “lamb
that was dumb before His shearers.” And this, says Peter, is “the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb
without blemish and without spot.”
1. What does it signify, that God has now the Lamb throned with Him, but that He is now to be
more and more distinctly conceived as a susceptible being; to be great, not as being absolute, or an
infinite force, not as being impassive—a rock, a sea, a storm, a fire—but as having great sentiments,
sympathies and sensibilities. Nothing has been so difficult for men as to think of God in this
manner. The human soul is overborne, at first and for long ages, by the satutral dimensions of
God; filling up this idea with mere quantities; putting omnipotence in the foreground, and making
Him a grand positivity of force; adding omniscience, or absolutely intuitive knowledge, adding also
will, purpose, arbitrary predestination, decrees: exalting justice, not as right or rectitude, but as the
fearful attribute of redress, that backs up laws regarded mainly as rescripts of will in God, and not
as principles. He has always been at work to mend this defect in us; protesting by His prophets, in
the matter of His sensibilities, that He is “hurt,” “offended,” “weary,” “was grieved forty years,” that
“in the affliction of His people He was afflicted, and bare and carried them all the days of old.” All
this in words to little or no effect; but now He shows us in the Lamb, as the crowning fact of
revelation, that He is a God in moral sensibility—able to suffer wrong, bear enemies, gentle Himself
to violence, reigning thus in what is none the less a kingdom, that it is the kingdom and patience of
Jesus. Physical suffering is of course excluded by the fact of His infinite sufficiency, but that is a
matter quite insignificant for Him, compared with His moral suffering. Under such conceptions of
God we of course approach the great matter of atonement, in a wholly different predisposition. We
shall look for something that belongs to the Lamb, something in the nature of suffering patience,
and sorrow. What we call grace, forgiveness, mercy, is not something elaborated after God is God,
by transactional work before Him, but it is what belongs to His inmost nature set forth and
revealed to us by the Lamb, in joint supremacy.
2. God’s nature itself is relational to both sin and redemption. Sometimes we begin to imagine that
the sense of sin is likely, as things are just now going, to quite die out. No, the Lamb is in the
throne, and it is impossible henceforth, that a God unrelational to sin, or a fate unbeneficently
relational, should ever be accepted by the settled faith of the world. Simply to think the supreme
eminence there of the Lamb is to look on Him we have pierced, and see Him rising higher and yet
higher, age upon age, and feel the arrows that were hid in His sorrows growing even more
pungently sharp in our guilty sensibility. All the more resistless too will be the stabs of bad
conviction, that they are meant to be salutary, and are in fact the surgery of a faithful healing
power. We are also shown by this revelation of the Lamb in the throne, and shall more and more
distinctly see, that the nature of God is, in like manner, relational to redemption. The two points, in
fact, go together and are verified by the same evidence. It is not for one moment to be imagined
that Christ the Lamb has somehow softened God and made Him better. He came down from God
as the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world, and the gospel He gave us is called
the everlasting gospel, because it has been everlastingly in God, and will everlastingly be. God’s
nature is so far relational to redemption, that His glorious possibilities are bleeding always into the
bosom of evil. There is a fixed necessity of blood, and He has the everlasting fountain of it in His
Lambhood. So that condemnation for evil, or sin, is not a whir more sure to follow than
forgiveness, sweetened by self-propitiation.
3. Having the Lamb now in the throne, it will be more and mere clear to men’s thoughts that God’s
most difficult and really most potent acts of administration are from the tenderly enduring
capacity of His goodness, represented by the Lamb. The richness and patience of His feeling
nature, in one word His dispositions, are the all-dominating powers of His reign. What He is in the
Lamb—determines what He is and does universally. (H. Bushnell, D. D.)
The throne of God and of the Lamb
I. “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Look at Him in the dawn of His
ministry, when first He comes within the range of mortal vision—a man, a lowly man, one chosen out
of the people. He lived and He died in the presence of many witnesses: what further evidence could be
desired that Jesus was a man and not a myth, a lamb-like man, and none of your pretenders to
greatness? His character, too, is so purely natural that the example of excellence He sets needs no
explanation. How lamb-like He is I Thus you see the Lamb of God among men: will you track His
footsteps still farther on till He becomes the Lamb of sacrifice, and actually takes the sin of man upon
Himself, that He may bear its penalty?
II. Behold the throne. Let us see it first from the Lamb’s side of it. Of course there is only one throne:
God and the Lamb are not divided. The Lamb is God, and the interests of God and the Lamb are one.
Acknowledging the oneness of the throne, we proceed to inspect it from the point of view in which the
Lamb chiefly challenges our notice. You will remember that He is portrayed to us as “the Lamb in the
midst of the throne.” The midst of the throne means the front of the throne, according to the Greek.
The Lamb was not on the throne in that vision, but standing immediately before it. That is a position
in which our Lord Jesus Christ would have us see Him. To the awful throne of God there could be no
access except through a mediator. The throne of heaven is the throne of God and of the Lamb. His
dominion over nature always appears to me a delightful contemplation. Lord of all the realms of life
and death, His providence runs without knot or break through all the tangled skeins of time. All
events, obvious or obscure, great or small, are subject to His influence, and fostered or frustrated by
His supremacy. The Lord reigneth, and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no
end. Well, that is the aspect of the throne from the side of the Lamb. Let us now take another look and
behold the throne of God. The throne of God is the throne of the Lamb. The throne of God, if we view
it as sinners, with a sense of guilt upon our conscience, is an object of terror, a place to fly from.
Henceforth eternal praises to His name, the throne of God is the throne of the Lamb. It is a throne of
righteousness, but no less a throne of grace. There, on the throne of the Almighty, mercy reigns.
According to the merit of the sacrifice and the virtue of the atonement all the statutes and decrees of
the kingdom of heaven are issued. The altar and the throne have become identical. One fact remains to
be noticed—it is this: the throne of God and of the Lamb is in heaven. We must pass beyond this
earthly region, and join the company of those who people the celestial realm before we can see the
throne of God, so as to obtain a complete view of it. Is not this among the chief joys of heaven? What
hallowed communion with Him we shall there enjoy. In His Church below He has given us some
pleasant foretaste of His sweet converse; but there the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall
always feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of water. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
EBC. THE NEW JERUSALEM. REV.
THE first part of the final triumph of the Lamb has been accomplished, but the second has still to be
unfolded. We are introduced to it by one of those preparatory or transition passages which have
already frequently met us in the Apocalypse, and which connect themselves both with what precedes
and with what follows: -
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and
the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His
peoples, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God: and He shall wipe away every tear
from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any
more: the first things are passed away. And He that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all
things new. And He saith, Write: for these words are faithful and true. And He said unto me, They are
come to pass. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is
athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit these things; and I
will be his God, and he shall be My son. But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and
murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake
that burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Rev_21:1-8)."
These words, like many others that have already met us, throw light upon the principles on which the
Apocalypse is composed. They show in the clearest possible manner that down to the very end of the
book chronological considerations must be put out of view. Chronology cannot be thought of when we
find, on the one hand, allusions to the new Jerusalem which are only amplified and extended in the
next vision of the chapter, or when we find, on the other hand, a description of the exclusion from the
new Jerusalem of certain classes that have already been consigned to "the second death." By the first-
mentioned allusions the passage connects itself with what is yet to come, by the second with what has
gone before. For the same reason it is unnecessary to dwell upon the passage at any length. It contains
either nothing new, or nothing that will not again meet us in greater fullness of detail One or two brief
remarks alone seem called for.
The Seer beholds a new heaven and a new earth. Two words in the New Testament are translated
"new," but there is a difference between them. The one contemplates the object spoken of under the
aspect of something that has been recently brought into existence, the other under a fresh aspect given
to what had previously existed, but been outworn.*
The latter word is employed here, as it is also
employed in the phrases a "new garment," that is, a garment not threadbare, like an old one; "new
wine-skins," that is, skins not shriveled and dried; a "new tomb," that is, not one recently hewn out of
the rock, but one which had never been used as the last resting-place of the dead. The fact, therefore,
that the heavens and the earth here spoken of are "new," does not imply that they are now first
brought into being. They may be the old heavens and the old earth; but they have a new aspect, a new
character, adapted to a new end. Of the sense in which the word "sea" is to be understood we have
already spoken. Another expression in the passage deserves notice. In saying that the time is come
when the tabernacle of the Lord is with men, and He shall dwell with them, it is added, and they shall
be His peoples. We are familiar with the Scripture use of the word "people" to denote the true Israel of
God, and not less with the use of the word "peoples" to denote the nations of the earth alienated from
Him. But here the word "peoples" is used instead of "people" for God’s children; and the usage can
only spring from this: that the Seer has entirely abandoned the idea that Israel according to the flesh
can have the word "people" applied to it, and that all believers, to whatever race they belong, occupy
the same ground in Christ, and are possessed of the same privileges. The "peoples" are the counterpart
of the "many diadems" of Rev_19:12. (*
Trench, Synonyms, second series, p. 39)
"And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last
plagues; and he spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: her light was like unto a
stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal, having a wall great and high, having
twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the
twelve tribes of the children of Israel On the east went three gates, and on the north three gates, and
on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,
and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that spake with me had for a
measure a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city
lieth foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the
reed, twelve thousand furlongs: the length and the breadth and the height thereof are equal. And he
measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man,
that is, of an angel. And the building of the wall thereof was jasper: and the city was pure gold, like
unto pure glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious
stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth,
emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth,
topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were
twelve pearls; each one of the several gates was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as
it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, is the temple
thereof, and the Lamb. And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for
the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk amidst the
light thereof: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it. And the gates thereof shall in no
wise be shut by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and the honour of
the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an
abomination and a lie: but only they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. And he showed me a
river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the
midst of the street thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve
manner of fruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the
nations. And there shall be no curse any more: and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein;
and His servants shall do Him service: and they shall see His face; and His name shall be on their
foreheads. And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for
the Lord God shall give them light: and they shall reign forever and ever (Rev_21:9-27; Rev_22:1-5)."
The vision contained in these verses is shown the Seer by the angel forming the third of the second
group associated with Him who had been described atRev_19:11 as the Rider upon the white horse,
and who at that time rode forth to His final triumph. The first of this group of three had appeared at
Rev_19:17, and the second at Rev_20:1. We have now the third; and it is not unimportant to observe
this, for it helps to throw light upon the artificial structure of these chapters, while, at the same time, it
connects the vision with Christ’s victory upon earth rather than with any scene of splendor and glory
in a region beyond the place of man’s present abode. Thus it contributes something at least to the
belief that there where the believer wars he also wears the crown of triumph.
The substance of the vision is a description of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the true Church of God
wholly separated from the false Church, as she comes down from God, out of heaven, prepared as a
bride adorned for her husband. Her marriage with the Lamb has taken place, - a marriage in which
there shall be no unfaithfulness on the one side and no reproaches on the other, but in which, as the
bridegroom rejoices over the bride, the Lord shall forever rejoice in His people, and His people in Him.
Then follows, to enhance the picture, a detailed account of the true Church under the figure of the city
which had been already spoken of in the first vision of the chapter. The treasures of the Seer’s
imagination and language are exhausted in order that the thought of her beauty and her splendor may
be suitably impressed upon our minds. Herlight - that is, the light which she spreads abroad, for the
word used in the original indicates that she is herself the luminary - is like that of the sun, only that it
is of crystalline clearness and purity, as it were a jasper stone, the light of Him who sat upon the
She is "the light of the world."2
The city is also surrounded by a wall great and high. She is "a
strong city." "Salvation has God appointed her for walls and bulwarks."3
Her walls have twelve gates,
and at the gates twelve angels, those to whom God gives charge over His people, to keep them in all
; while, as was the case with the new Jerusalem beheld by the prophet Ezekiel, names were
written on the gates, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.5
are also harmoniously distributed, three on each side of the square which the city forms. The
foundations of the city, a term under which we are not to think of foundations buried in the earth, but
rather of courses of stones going round the city and rising one above another, are also twelve; and on
them are twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (1
The Seer, however, is not satisfied with this general picture of the greatness of the new Jerusalem. Like
that in Ezekiel, the city must be measured.*
When this is done, her proportions are found, in spite of
the absence of all verisimilitude, to be those of a perfect cube. As in the Holy of holies of the
Tabernacle, the thought of which lies at the bottom of the description,the length and the breadth and
the height thereof are equal. Twelve thousand furlongs, or fifteen hundred miles, the city stretches
along and across the plain, and rises into the sky, twelve, - the number of the people of God, multiplied
by thousands, the heavenly number. The wall is also measured - it is difficult to say whether in height
or in thickness, but most probably the latter - a hundred and forty and four cubits, or twelve
multiplied by twelve. (*
The measuring is completed, and next follows an account of the material of which the city was
composed. This was gold, the most precious metal, in its purest state,like unto pure glass. Precious
stones formed, rather than ornamented, its twelve foundations. Its gates were of pearl:each one of the
several gates was of one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
In all these respects it is evident that the city is thought of as ideally perfect, and not according to the
realities or possibilities of things.
Nor is this all. The glory of the city is still further illustrated by figures bearing more immediately upon
its spiritual rather than its material aspect. The out ward helps needed by men in leading the life of
God in their present state of imperfection are dispensed with. There isno temple therein: for the Lord,
God, the Almighty, is the temple thereof, and the Lamb. The city hath no need of the sun, neither of
the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God lightens it by day, and the lamp thereof by night is
the Lamb. There is in it no sin, and every positive element of happiness is provided in abundance for
the blest inhabitants. A river of water of life, bright as crystal, flows there; and on this side of the
river and on that side is the tree of life, not bearing fruit only once a year, but every month, not
yielding one only, but twelve manner of fruits, so that all tastes may be gratified, having nothing about
it useless or liable to decay. The very leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations, and it is
evidently implied that they are always green. Finally, there shall be no curse any more. The throne of
God and of the Lamb is therein. His servants do Hint service. They see His face. His name is in their
foreheads. They are priests unto God in the service of the heavenly sanctuary. They reign forever and
One important question still remains: What aspect of the Church does the holy city Jerusalem, thus
come down out of heaven from God, represent? Is it the Church as she shall be after the Judgment,
when her three great enemies, together with all who have listened to them, have been forever cast out?
Or have we before us an ideal representation of the true Church of Christ as she exists now, and before
a final separation has been made between the righteous and the wicked? Unquestionably the first
aspect of the passage leads to the former view; and, if there be anything like a chronological statement
of events in the Apocalypse, no other may be possible. But we have already seen that the thought of
chronology must be banished from this book. The Apocalypse contains simply a series of visions
intended to exhibit, with all the force of that inspiration under which the Seer wrote, certain great
truths connected with the revelation in humanity of the Eternal Son. It is intended, too, to exhibit
these in their ideal, and not merely in their historical, form. They are indeed to appear in history; but,
inasmuch as they do not appear there in their ultimate and completed form, we are taken beyond the
limited field of historical manifestation. We see them in their real and essential nature, and as they
are, in themselves, whether we think of evil on the one hand, or of good on the other. In this treatment
of them, however, chronology disappears. Such being the case, we are prepared to ask whether the
vision of the new Jerusalem belongs to the end, or whether it expresses what, under the Christian
dispensation, is always ideally true.
1. It must be borne in mind that the new Jerusalem, though described as a city, is really a figure, not of
a place, but of a people. It is not the final home of the redeemed. It is the redeemed themselves. It is
"the bride, the wife of the Lamb."*
Whatever is said of it is said of the true followers of Jesus; and the
great question, therefore, that has to be considered is, whether St. John’s description is applicable to
them in their present Christian condition, or whether it is suitable to them only when they have
entered upon their state of glorification beyond the grave. (*
2. The vision is really an echo of Old Testament prophecy. We have already seen this in many
particulars, and the correspondence might easily have been traced in many more. "It is all," says Isaac
Williams, as he begins his comment upon the particular points of the description - "It is all from
Ezekiel: ‘The hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me in the visions of God, and set me upon a
very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city;’1
‘And the glory of the Lord came into the
house by the gate toward the east;’2
The Lord entered by the eastern gate; therefore shall it be shut,
and opened for none but for the Prince.3
Such was the coming of Christ’s glory from the east into His
Church, as so often alluded to before."4
Other prophets, no doubt, who prophesied of the grace that
should come unto us, who testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should
follow, are to be added to Ezekiel, but, whoever they were, it is undeniable that their highest and most
glowing representations of that future for which they longed, and the advent of which they were
commissioned to proclaim, are reproduced in St. John s description of the new Jerusalem. Of what
was it, then, that they spoke? Surely it was of the times of the Messiah upon earth, of that kingdom of
God which He was to establish with the beginning, and not with the end, of the Christian dispensation.
That they may have looked forward to the world beyond the grave is possible; but any distinction
between the first and second coming of our Lord had not yet risen upon their minds. In the simple
coming of the Hope of Israel into the world they beheld the accomplishment of every aspiration and
longing of the heart of man. And they were right. The distinction which experience taught the New
Testament writers to draw was not so much between a first and a second coming of the King as
between a kingdom then hidden, but afterwards to be manifested in all its glory. (1
The Apocalypse, p. 438)
3. This ideal view of the Messianic age is also constantly brought before us in the New Testament. The
character, the privileges, and the blessings of those who are partakers of the spirit of that time are
always presented to us as irradiated with a heavenly and perfect glory. St. Paul addresses the various
churches to which he wrote as, notwithstanding all their imperfections, "beloved of God," "sanctified in
Christ Jesus," "saints and faithful brethren in Christ."1
Christ is "in them," and they are "in Christ."2
"Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for it; that He might present the Church to Himself a
glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without
- the description evidently applying to the present world, where also the Church is seated,
not in earthly, but in "the heavenly, places" with her Lord.4
Our "citizenship" is declared to be "in
and we are even now "come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem, to innumerable hosts of angels, and to the general assembly and Church of the
first-born, who are enrolled in heaven."6
Our Lord Himself and St. John, following in His steps, are
even more specific as to the present kingdom and the present glory. "In that day," says Jesus to His
disciples, "ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you,"7
and again, "And the glory
which Thou hast given Me, I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as We are one;"8
it is unnecessary to quote the passages meeting us everywhere in the writings of the beloved disciple in
which he speaks of eternal life, and that, too, in the full greatness both of its privileges and of its
results, as a possession enjoyed by the believer in this present world. The whole witness of the New
Testament, in short, is to an ideal, to a perfect, kingdom of God even now established among men, in
which sin is conquered, temptation overcome, strength substituted for weakness, death so deprived of
its sting that it is no more death, and the Christian, though for a little put to grief in manifold
temptations, made "to rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and glorified."9
From all this the
representation of the new Jerusalem in the Apocalypse differs in no essential respect It enters more
into particulars. It illustrates the general thought by a greater variety of detail. But it contains nothing
which is not found in principle in the other sacred writers, and which is not connected by them with
the heavenly aspect of the Christian’s pilgrimage to his eternal home. (1
Rom_1:7; 1Co_1:2; Col_1:2;
Col_1:27; 1Co_1:30; Php_3:9; 3
4. There are distinct indications in the apocalyptic vision which leave no interpretation possible except
one, - that the new Jerusalem has come, that it has been in the midst of us for more than eighteen
hundred years, that it is now in the midst of us, and that it shall continue to be so wherever its King
has those who love and serve Him, walk in His light, and share His peace and joy.
(1) Let us look at Rev_20:9, where we read of "the camp of the saints and the beloved city." That city is
none other than the new Jerusalem, about to be described in the following chapter. It is Jerusalem
after the elements of the harlot character have been wholly expelled, and the call of Rev_18:4 has been
heard and obeyed, "Come forth, My people, out of her." She is inhabited now by none but "saints,"
who, though they have still to war with the world, are themselves the "called, and chosen, and faithful."
But this "beloved city" is spoken of as in the world, and as the object of attack by Satan and his hosts
before the Judgment.*
Comp. Foxley, Hulsean Lectures, Lect. 1)
(2) Let us look at Rev_21:24 and Rev_22:2: "And the nations shall walk by the light thereof; and the
kings of the earth do bring their glory into it;" "And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the
nations." Who are these "nations" and these "kings of the earth"? The constant use of the same
expressions in other parts of this book, where there can be no doubt as to their meaning, compels us to
understand them of nations and kings beyond the pale of the covenant. But if so, the difficulty of
realizing the situation at a point of time beyond the Judgment appears to be insuperable, and may be
well illustrated by the effort of Hengstenberg to overcome it "Nations," says that commentator, "in the
usage of the Revelation, are not nations generally, but always heathen nations in their natural or
Christianized state; compare at Rev_20:3. That we are to think here only of converted heathen is as
clear as day. No room for conversion can be found on the further side of Rev_20:15, for everyone who
had not been found written in the book of life has already been cast into the lake of fire."*
words "or Christianized" in this comment have no countenance from any other passage in the
Apocalypse, and in Hengstenberg’s note at Rev_20:3 we are referred to nothing but the texts before us.
On every other occasion, too, where the word "nations" meets us, it means unconverted, not
converted, nations; and here it can mean nothing else. Were the nations spoken of converted, they
would be a part of that new Jerusalem which is not the residence of God’s people, but His people
themselves. They would be the light, and not such as walk "by the light" of others. They would be the
healed, and not those who stand in need of "healing." These "nations" must be the unconverted, these
"kings of the earth" such as have not yet acknowledged Jesus to be their King; and nothing of this can
be found beyond Rev_20:15. (*
Commentary in Clark’s Foreign Theological Library, in loc.)
(3) Let us look at Rev_21:27, where we read, "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean,
or he that doeth an abomination and a lie." These words distinctly intimate that the time for final
separation had not yet come. Persons of the wicked character described must be supposed to be alive
upon the earth after the new Jerusalem has appeared.
5. Another consideration on the point under discussion may be noticed, which will have weight with
those who admit the existence of that principle of structure in St. John’s writings upon which it rests.
Alike in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse the Apostle is marked by a tendency to return at the close of
a section to what he had said at the beginning, and to shut up, as it were, between the two statements
all he had to say. So here. In Rev_1:3 he introduces his Apocalypse with the words, "For the time is at
hand." In Rev_22:10, immediately after closing it, he returns to the thought, "Seal not up the words of
the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand; "that is, the whole intervening revelation is enclosed
between these two statements. All of it precedes the "time" spoken of. The new Jerusalem comes
before the end.
In the new Jerusalem, therefore, we have essentially a picture, not of the future, but of the present; of
the ideal condition of Christ s true people, of His "little flock" on earth, in every age. The picture may
not yet be realized in fullness; but every blessing lined in upon its canvas is in principle the believer’s
now, and will be more and more his in actual experience as he opens his eyes to see and his heart to
receive. We have been wrong in transferring the picture of the new Jerusalem to the future alone. It
belongs also to the past and to the present. It is the heritage of the children of God at the very time
when they are struggling with the world; and the thought of it ought to stimulate them to exertion and
to console them under suffering.
The first paradise had its river in a country setting, but history ends in a city setting, and the
progress of man will be preserved forever. There is no sea for this river to flow into, and so some
feel it may go in circles like the rainbow. In Bible lands a river was precious as the source of life.
Many people could not survive without the river. All rivers are rivers of life. They meant more
than than to us, for we seldom to never get water from a river directly. Cities are built by rivers
for this reason, for the water of life.
The city of heaven has an abundance of water. If it is really needed, it means our resurrected
bodies still need water forever, which is the view of some. Here is that fountain of youth that
Ponce De Leon searched for in Florida. As in time, all life depends on water, so it will be
forever. There is no sea, so all limits and dangers of water are gone, but all the blessings and
pleasures of it are forever. Only hell is waterless and barren of waters values. In eternity we will
all have the equivalent of lake front property. Loss of water means death. orth Africa, once
the bread basket of the Roman Empire is losing 30 miles a year to the desert for lack of water.
In the Sahara it has gotten to 136.4 degrees in the shade. 14% of earth is desert. That is 4 and
one half times the area of all 50 states. 70% of the earth is water, and so from space it looks like
a big ball of water. Elsewhere in the universe it is too cold or too hot for water to be in liquid
state as it is here.
As clear as crystal means there are no polutants in this city. Everyone will be on city water
and it will be perfectly pure. The Greek word for clear is lampros which means bright and
shining. It is the same word used in 22:16 for the bright and morning star. In two places it is
translated white-Rev. 15:6 and 19:8. Once it is gorgeous-Luke 23:11. The river is bright and
shiny like a river of light. It is a sparkling jewel that flows through the shiny city adding more
brilliance. Everything in heaven is shineing for it is a city of light.
That city with the jeweled crest
Like some new-lighted sun;
A blaze of burning amethyst,
Ten thousand orbs in one.
It flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. There is equality of the Father and the
Son. Because the Holy Spirit is not mentioned some feel the river of life represents Him.
Life is a common theme in the book. You have the book of life in 21:27, 22:19. You have the
water of life in 22:1, 17. And you have the tree of life in 22:2, 14.
"Yes, life is like a book, and we are the writers. Sometimes the lines come easy. Sometimes
we struggle over them, sweat over them, stain the paper with dirt and tears, dog-ear the corners.
Each day we turn a new leaf, each year conclude another chapter. Who knows when the volume
Ah, here's the book!
Today's unfinished page,
And e'er the night shall fall
The author may be fool or sage.
I turn the leaves ahead,
All snowy white, unwrit-the future-hope and fear and pain,
Laughter and tears-and what we make of it.
Author of all, He gave us page and pen
And will to dip in flowers or in sin.
He gave the torch, and we must hold it high
Or grope in darkness and in darkness die.
Hold high the Light and keep an upward look
And write it down in heaven-
The Book! The Book! The Book!
There is a parallel to this is Ezek. 47:1-12. Out of Jerusalem flows the river of God that gives life
to all who partake, and this is Christ who said that whosoever believes in Him "out of him shall
flow rivers of living waters." He is the source of the river of life and He can turn the desert in a
renewed Eden. It was a river that produced supernatural fertility. ature was made man's
friend and not foe, for it provided water in abundance to those who struggle for enough. o
more wasteland for all is well watered. Where the Gospel goes their is new and abundant life
and healing streams go with it. The Gospel is holy water of the Bible. Parker calls this a glimpse
of heaven in the Old Testament. Here is the mother of all rivers. It starts small and shallow, but
soon is so deep it is impassible. So it is with the Gospel. In the middle of the muddle while man
piddles in a puddle, God sends a mighty river to make the desert bloom. In this place of
barrenness as the Dead Sea there will be great abundance of fish so that fishers of men will be
able to make marvelous catches as the Gospel spreads like a net.
The River of Life (v.1)
1. In ancient times as well as modern, people would build their cities
next to rivers. With people and industry come pollution. There will be no
polluted stream in heaven. Water is a the source of life on this planet.
Water has often been used as a symbol of life in the scripture. Jesus
described the ultimate source of life, the Holy Spirit, as a river of
life, welling up, or springing up within the heart.
2. John Phillips writes: "A river is used in Scripture to symbolize both
pleasure (Ps.36:8) and prosperity (Ps.1:31). These two great magnets are
used by Satan at present to draw men away from God and into many foolish
and hurtful lusts. . ." Phillips goes on and describes an illustration
from C.S. Lewis' classic book The Screwtape Letters. He relates a portion
where Wormwood discusses hell's philosophy of pleasure. "He says that
wwhile many souls have been snared through pleasure, all the same it is
God's invention, and the powers of darkness have been incapable of
producing even one such pleasure. The best they can do, says Screwtape, is
to encourage humans to take the pleasures God has produced at times and in
ways or in degree's which are forbidden. The formula he suggests for
Wormwood is "an ever increasing craving for an ever decreasing pleasure."
He says that the ultimate aim of hell is to get a man's soul and give him
nothing in return"
How different is the city of God--which is described as pure, pleasing and
3. Psalm 46:4 "There is a river whose streams make glad
1. No sea, but a river to supply all that water is needed for. Some
feel this river of life is actually the sourcd of eternal life, and
that by drinking it we live forever. It is the fountain of youth
found at last.
2. The song says yes we'll gather at the river that flows by the
throne of God, but here it actually comes out of the throne of God.
Rivers were in the first paradise and one is only needed here to meet
3. A boat had a sign on it the said Instant Fun, Just Add Water.
Water will be a part of life and the fun of life forever. It is added
4. Horatius Bonar
Bathed in unfallen sunlight,
Itself a sun-born gem,
Fair gleems the glorious city
The new Jerusalem!
Let me gaze on thee!
Calm in her queenly glory,
She sits all joy and light;
Pure in her bridal beauty,
Her raimant festal white!
Home of gladness,
Free from saddness
Let me dwell in thee!
Shading her golden pavement
The tree of life is seen,
It's fruit-rich branches waving
Tree of wonder,
Let me under
Thee forever rest!
Fresh from the throne of Godhead
Bright in its crystal gleam,
Bursts out the living fountain,
Swells on the living stream,
Let me ever
Feast my eye on thee!
Streams of true life and gladness,
Springs of all health and peace;
No harps by thee hang silent,
Nor happy voices cease.
Let me ever
Sit and sing by thee!
River of God, I greet thee,
Not now afar, but near;
My soul to thy still waters
Hastes in its thirstings here.
Let me ever
Drink of only thee!
The first paradise had its river in a country setting, but
history ends in a city setting with a river flowing through it.
There is no sea for it to flow into and so some feel it may go in
cirlces like the rainbow. Cities have always been built by rivers
for all rivers have been the source of life.
The city of heaven has an abudance of water, and some like DeHan
feel our resurrected bodies will still need water forever. Here is
that fountain of youth men have always looked for. Hell is
waterless and baren, but in heaven we will all have the equilvant of
lake front property.
THE LIFE THEME.
Book of life--21:27, 22:19.
Water of life--22:1, 17.
Tree of life--22:2, 14.
Book of life:
Ah, here's the book!
Todays unfinished page,
And e'er the night shall fall
The author may be fool or sage.
I turn the leaves ahead,
All snowy white, unwrit--
The Future--hope and fear and pain,
Laughter and tears--and what we make of it.
Author of all, He gave us page and pen
And will to dip in flowers or in sin.
He gave the touch, and we must hold it high
Or grop in darkness and in darkness die.
Hold high the Light and keep an upward look
And write it down in heaven--
The Book ! The Book! The Book!
AS CLEAR AS CRYSTAL
There are no polutants in this city and nothing to contaminate the water. Everyone will be on
city water then. The Greek word for clear is lampros, which means bright and shining. It is the
same word used in 22:16 for the bright and morning star. In two places it is translated white--
15:6, 19:8. Once it is gorgeous in Luke 23:11. Twice it is goodly in James 2:2 and Rev. 18:14.
And gay in James 2:3. This water is bright and shiny like a river of light. It is like a sparkling
jewel, this sparkling water, which flows through the city of shining brillance. Everything in
heaven is bright and shining, for it is the home of LIGHT.
That city with the jeweled crest
Like some new--lighted sun;
A blaze of burning amethyst,
Ten thousand orbs in one.
Flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Trapp says this river is Christ--John 4:14. The song says, "Yes we'll gather at the river that
flows by the throne of God." But it flows out of that throne, not just by it. Some feel that
because the Holy Spirit is not mentioned here, he is the water of life flowing from the two
down the middle of the great street of the city. On each
side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve
crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the
leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
BAR ES, “ In the midst of the street of it - Prof. Stuart renders this, “between the street thereof
and the river”; and says that “the writer conceives of the river as running through the whole city; then
of streets parallel to it on either side; and then, on the banks of the river, between the water and the
street, the whole stream is lined on either side with two rows of the tree of life.” The more common
interpretation, however, is doubtless admissible, and would give a more beautiful image; that in the
street, or streets of the city, as well as on the banks of the river, the tree of life was planted. It
abounded everywhere. The city had not only a river passing through it, but it was pervaded by streets,
and all those streets were lined and shaded with this tree. The idea in the mind of the writer is that of
Eden or Paradise; but it is not the Eden of the book of Genesis, or the Oriental or Persian Paradise: it is
a picture where all is combined, that in the view of the writer would constitute beauty, or contribute to
And on either side of the river - As well as in all the streets. The writer undoubtedly conceives
of a single river running through the city - probably as meandering along - and that river lined on both
sides with the tree of life. This gives great beauty to the imagery.
Was there the tree of life - Not a single tree, but it abounded everywhere - on the banks of the
river, and in all the streets. It was the common tree in this blessed Paradise - of which all might
partake, and which was everywhere the emblem of immortality. In this respect, this new Paradise
stands in strong contrast with that in which Adam was placed at his creation, where there seems to
have been a single tree that was designated as the tree of life,Gen_3:22-23. In the future state of the
blessed, that tree will abound, and all may freely partake of it; the emblem, the pledge of immortal life,
will be constantly before the eyes, whatever part of the future abode may be traversed, and the
inhabitants of that blessed world may constantly partake of it.
Which bare twelve manner of fruits - “Producing twelve fruit-harvests; not (as our version)
twelve manner of fruits” (Prof. Stuart). The idea is not that there are twelve kinds of fruit on the same
tree, for that is not implied in the language used by John. The literal rendering is, “producing twelve
fruits” - ποιοሞν καρποᆷς δώδεκα poioun karpous dōdeka. The word “manner” has been introduced by the
translators without authority. The idea is, that the tree bore every month in the year, so that there
were twelve fruit-harvests. It was not like a tree that bears but once a year, or in one season only, but it
constantly bore fruit - it bore every month. The idea is that of abundance, not variety. The supply never
fails; the tree is never barren. As there is but a single class of trees referred to, it might have been
supposed, perhaps, that, according to the common method in which fruit is produced, there would be
sometimes plenty and sometimes want; but the writer says that, though there is but one kind, yet the
supply is ample. The tree is everywhere; it is constantly producing fruit.
And yielded her fruit every month - The word “and” is also supplied by the translators, and
introduces an idea which is not in the original, as if there was not only a succession of harvests, which
is in the text, but that each one differed from the former, which is not in the text. The proper
translation is, “producing twelve fruits, yielding or rendering its fruit in each month.” Thus there is,
indeed, a succession of fruit-crops, but it is the same kind of fruit. We are not to infer, however, that
there will not be variety in the occupations and the joys of the heavenly state, for there can be no doubt
that there will be ample diversity in the employments, and in the sources of happiness, in heaven; but
the single thought expressed here is, that the means of life will be abundant: the trees of life will be
everywhere, and they will be constantly yielding fruit.
And the leaves of the tree - Not only the fruit will contribute to give life, but even the leaves will
be salutary. Everything about it will contribute to sustain life.
Were for the healing - That is, they contribute to impart life and health to those who had been
diseased. We are not to suppose that there will be sickness, and a healing process in heaven, for that
idea is expressly excluded in Rev_21:4; but the meaning is, that the life and health of that blessed
world will have been imparted by partaking of that tree; and the writer says that, in fact, it was owing
to it that they who dwell there had been healed of their spiritual maladies, and had been made to live
Of the nations - Of all the nations assembled there, Rev_21:24. There is a close resemblance
between the language used here by John and that used by Ezekiel Eze_47:12, and it is not improbable
that both these writers refer to the same thing. Compare also in the Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 2:12; 8:52-
CLARKE, “In the midst of the street of it - That is, of the city which was described in the
The tree of life - An allusion to Gen_2:9. As this tree of life is stated to be in the streets of the city,
and on each side of the river, tree must here be an enallage of the singular for the plural number, trees
of life, or trees which yielded fruit by which life was preserved. The account in Ezekiel is this: “And by
the river, upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf
shall not fade - it shall bring forth new fruit, according to his months - and the fruit thereof shall be for
meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine;” Eze_47:12.
Twelve manner of fruits - Καρπους δωδεκα· Twelve fruits; that is, fruit twelve times in the year,
as is immediately explained, yielded her fruit every month. As this was a great and spacious city, one
fountain was not sufficient to provide water for it, therefore a river is mentioned; a great river, by
which it was sufficiently watered. Some think that by this tree of life the Gospel is indicated; the twelve
fruits are the twelve apostles; and the leaves are Gospel doctrines by which the nations - the Gentiles,
are healed of the disease of sin. But this seems to be a fanciful interpretation.