The Holy City

Question: If heaven is the eternal abode of the Church saints, what is the explanation of Revelation 21:2, where “the holy city, the new Jerusalem” comes down from God out of heaven? Is this not the Bride of Christ taking her place on earth?

Answer: The “New Heaven” is the abiding place of the raised and changed believers (Le., the Church); the “New Earth” is to form the habitation of all saints in the pre-Church and post-Church times. In eternity the distinction between God’s earthly and heavenly people is maintained.

Any interpretation of the book of Revelation must rest upon the understanding that this book is a book of symbols. We read, “He (the Lord Jesus) sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant, John” (Revelation 1:1). By hyphenating the verb “sign-ified,” we find the key to the interpretation of this book of prophecy.

What an unveiling of our Lord we have in these symbols!

Throughout the New Testament, the pure and holy city is called: “Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26), “the city of the Living God” (Hebrews 12:22), “the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22), “the new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2), the “great city, the holy Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:10). Revelation 21:2, in J.N. Darby’s New Translation, reads: “I saw the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (see also v. 10). The language implies that the city had been in existence before the event now recorded. She comes forth out of heaven scintillating with the glory of God.

Some believe that during the millennial reign of Christ the bridal city will hover over the earth as a satellite. One fails to find Scripture to support such a speculation; nevertheless, it is possible.

In eternity there will be no problem with time and space. If the city is, as has been suggested by some, a thousand years old, she is still “new,” for there will never be any indication of age or deterioration.

Whether the adorned bridal city hovers over the earth, or rests upon it, is not so important. Her inhabitants sing: “Thou art worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God a kingdom of priests, and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10). As Eve, during the period of innocence, was co-ruler with Adam over the earth, even so, the Church will reign with Christ, the Second Adam (2 Timothy 2:12), in the kingdom in its future manifestation. This likewise will be her position in the everlasting aspect of the eternal kingdom. Then her eternal condition will be one of absolute perfection; her glory and authority under the Bridegroom will be immutable.

— James Gunn

A Question For Future Consideration

A reader has submitted the following question:

Please explain the meaning of Romans 2:6-11. Should this passage be accepted only as a proposed concrete interpretation of the absolute justice of God? Or does it, after all, present an alternative way of salvation—salvation by human perfection? Could this have been the way of salvation before Calvary, that is, before the death and resurrection of Christ?

Comments on this question, or on the above answer, and any other questions that may be puzzling any of our readers would be welcome for future issues of Focus. Please submit your questions or comments to the editor of this column: Dr. James T. Naismith, 1121 Hilltop St., Peterborough, Ontario K9J 5S6.