Verse 21: Each of the twelve gates into the city is made from a single pearl. The particular form of the Greek word used for gate here refers to the entire passage way, rather than just the door. This means that each gate is a large pearl set into the wall of jasper with an entryway cut through it. In fact, as well soon learn, there is no purpose for a door which would swing shut because these twelve gates are never closed (v 25). Why a pearl is used to form each gate is not stated but it will make a beautiful entry and will be vastly larger than any pearl we have ever seen on this earth. It may be that the Lord chose to use such pearls to remind all who enter that this city is the pearl of great price (Mt 13:45, 46) they sold their worldly treasures to possess. We also learn the streets of this city will be made from the same transparent gold used to construct the city itself (v 18). Such transparency will allow light to penetrate to every corner of what will be an enormous cube measuring 1,400 miles on each side (vs 15, 16).
Verse 22: As John closes his book of revelations, he is shown images which bring two great biblical themes to completion. The first is the theme of the tabernacle or temple. The second which we will see later (Rev 22:2) is the Garden of Eden. We might have expected there to be a magnificent, heavenly temple at the center of the New Jerusalem, but instead John saw no temple at all. The absence of a temple means there is no part of the city which is more holy than another. The idea of a temple is that there is a building in which God dwells more intensely than He does outside that structure. But in the New Jerusalem the notion of sacred space will cease to exist, or actually its more correct to say, the entire city becomes sacred space. Its as though the city itself becomes the Holy of holies and the presence of God will abide everywhere with the same intensity. Every citizen will have full, unlimited access to God (Heb 10:19-22).
Verse 22 (continued): This verse expresses another profound truth. It declares God the Father and God the Son to be equally divine. The presence of God which transforms the entire city into a temple is attributed not only to God the Father (the Lord God the Almighty), but also to the Son (the Lamb). The two are paired side-by-side. The Father and Son are the temple of the city, just as they both provide its light (v 23) and sit on its throne (Rev 22:1, 3). These statements provide an insurmountable obstacle to anyone who would try to diminish the divinity of Jesus Christ by implying that He is merely a man who has been adopted into sonship rather than a son begotten by the Father and thus fully sharing His divine nature. Nor is it possible to imply that these two titles are meant to refer to the same person, because we have already seen the Lamb approach the One sitting on the throne and take a scroll from His hand (Rev 4:2-8; 5:1-7), a vision clearly based on Daniels vision of the heavenly Son of Man before the Ancient of Days (Dn 7:9, 10, 13, 14).
Verse 23: During some seasons of Israels history the innermost chamber of the tabernacle/temple (Holy of holies) was lighted by the glory of God (Ex 40:34-38; 1Ki 8:10, 11; 2Ch 7:1-3). Now in the New Jerusalem John sees this glory lighting the entire city with such intensity there is no need for the sun or the moon. He doesnt say the sun and moon will not exist, only that they are not needed to provide light. Isaiah made the same statement about Jerusalem during the Millennium (Isa 60:19, 20). Apparently, the entire atmosphere will glow brilliantly with Gods presence.
Verses 24-26: These three verses are drawn directly from Isaiah chapter 60. In that chapter Isaiah describes the glories of Jerusalem during the Millennium. John takes some of those descriptions and shows us how Isaiahs promises will come to perfect expression in the New Jerusalem. During the Millennium Jesus will rule the earth. For a thousand years all who survived the tribulation, along with the generations born to them, will come to Jerusalem to worship and bring tribute (gifts) (Isa 60:3-17; 66:18-21, 23; Zech 14:16-18). Isaiah says of these years, Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising (Isa 60:3) and, Your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of nations, with the kings led in procession (Isa 60:11). And Isaiah also saw the Millennium as a time of unprecedented evangelism. Multitudes from every people group on earth will come to worship Jesus in Jerusalem. While some will make only an outward show of worship (Rev 20:7-9), many will not. A great spiritual harvest will take place with large numbers being saved from every nation, tongue and tribe. By quoting from this chapter John is telling us the New Jerusalem will also be filled with multitudes of Gentile believers. The nations, from the poorest and most powerless to kings, will be there worshipping God. The glory they bring into this city will be themselves, not riches.
Verse 27: When applied to people the biblical terms cleanness and uncleanness indicate a persons suitability to approach God (Lev 7:19-27; 10:8-11; Ps 24:3, 4). By telling us nothing unclean shall ever come into it (New Jerusalem) John warns that there will be people considered unclean and therefore forbidden to enter the city, just as in the Old Covenant the unclean were forbidden to approach the tabernacle/temple. However the uncleanness to which he refers is not ritual contamination, but the spiritual contamination of those who have not washed their robes so they may enter by the gates into the city (Rev 22:14). In other words, those who have not become clean by placing their faith in Christ. Verse 27 (continued): Earlier in this chapter (v 8) we heard God the Father list those whose eternity will be spent in the lake of fire. His list included the abominable and liars. While many types of misbehavior can be categorized as abominable and many people labeled as liars I believe these words are directed to those facing the tribulations of the Antichrists empire. That empire will be full of abominations (Rev 17:4) and spiritual deception (Rev 13:14) causing huge numbers of people to worship the Antichrist and become proponents of his lies. It is to these and believers in other generations who also suffer great persecution that these words are especially directed. There will be times when believers will be tempted to abandon their faith and worship a false god to save their lives, but to enter Gods eternal city they must be overcomers (Rev 3:5; 12:11; 22:15).
Revelation 22:1, 2
Verse 1: Here John sees one last feature concerning the tabernacle/temple. The symbol he sees is drawn from Ezekiels vision of Jerusalem as it will be during the Millennium (Eze 40-48). Ezekiel describes a river flowing from the temple on Mt. Moriah eastward until it reaches the Dead Sea (Eze 47:1-12). Along its banks grow fruit trees which bear fruit every month and whose leaves bring healing. John sees a similar river flowing through the middle of the New Jerusalem. But instead of it arising from under a temple (Eze 47:1) it comes from the throne of God. Since the Father and Son have become the citys temple, it arises from their throne, only this is not a freshwater river, it is a spiritual river providing endless and unlimited refreshment to the citys inhabitants. It too has fruit trees lining its shoreline, but these are multiple expressions of the tree of life. Verse 2: Having shown us the culmination of the era of the temple (Rev 21:22-22:1), John now shows us the culmination of the era of the Garden of Eden. In the middle of the garden grew a single tree of life. It was this tree which Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat after they sinned. God drove them out of the garden and placed cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life because He said Adam might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever (Ge 3:22-24). In the vision John now sees that garden is gone and the tree of life is abundantly available to all.