Join us as we study through Revelation verse by verse. Our Bible study guides contain discussion questions, teaching points, and applications which can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Revelation 21:1-8 Bible Study Lesson With Questions And Commentary – The New Jerusalem
I. New Heaven and Earth (1-2)
II. God Dwelling With Man (3-4)
III. Everything Made New (5-8)
I. New Heaven and Earth (1-2)
- What do you think “heaven” includes in this verse?
- What will happen to the first heaven and the first earth?
- Why will there be no sea?
- Where will believers live?
- What is this city called? What does this show us about it?
- What can you learn about God’s heart toward believers in verse 2?
Luke 21:33 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Psalms 102:25-26 – Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
Hebrews 13:14-15 – For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
1. A new heaven and new earth – The thousand-year reign of Christ on earth will be our present-day earth. But this earth will not last forever. Peter also taught that the world we live in is temporary. One day it will be judged and destroyed by fire.
2 Peter 3:10-13 – But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
This heaven and earth will be destroyed. The heaven referred to here is the seen universe, not necessarily the throne room where God’s presence dwells. What it means is that the entire universe that we experience now will be destroyed. The earth, the planets, the sun, the stars, and the galaxies will be dissolved. God is going to create something entirely new.
It is fitting that in the last two chapters of the Bible we see God again creating heaven and earth.
Our story begins in Genesis 1:1.
Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
That divine act launched human history. All of our experiences are on this earth, the old earth. Those experiences include the fall, sin, death, and pain.
In Revelation 21-22, we see that chapter will be closed. God will flip the pages and bring His people into a new chapter. It will be a time of new beginnings. And the new beginnings will mean that the old is gone and the new has come.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth; in the end/new beginning, God will create a new heaven and a new earth. That is the eternal state and that will be our eternal home.
Application: We have something amazing to look forward to. That hope pushes is on in times of difficulty. And we are reminded that although we have received the promise, we haven’t experienced it yet. So we must diligently push forward in faith so that we can enter into that rest one day (Hebrews 4:11).
2. The holy city, the New Jerusalem – On the new earth, will be a new city. It will be called the “New Jerusalem.” In some ways, it will fulfill what the first Jerusalem was supposed to do. That city was supposed to be a light of the nations, a place where God’s glory resided, a place where people were reminded of God’s goodness and worshiped Him. But the nation of Israel did not live up to its end of the covenant. Jerusalem at times experienced the curse of God’s anger against them and their idolatry, rather than the blessing they could have had.
One day all will be made right. New Jerusalem will be a place where God’s people can meet Him and worship Him face to face.
3. Believers will live on the new earth –
Reflect: Where will we live? In heaven or on earth?
John saw the New Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven.” Believers will live in the holy city. It will be located on the new earth. Many people think that saints will live in heaven forever. Some depictions show people floating around in heaven with harps. Those ideas are not accurate.
God designed people to live on earth. He gave us two legs to walk on the earth, hands to pick things up off the earth, a nose to smell the fragrances on earth, ears to hear the sounds of wind rustling or birds tweeting, and eyes to see the beautiful colors He made for us to enjoy. Though the new earth will surely be quite different from what we have now, it will still be an earth. You will not have wings. You will not float around in outer space as some detached entity, vaguely aware of the infinite space around you.
God’s people will live on a new earth, specially prepared by our loving Father for us to enjoy.
Application: We should thank God for His awesome creative power. He has given us many, and will give many more, good things to enjoy. His loving care for us is ever-present.
4. Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband – God will prepare this city for us as a bride prepares for her husband.
So how does a bride prepare for her husband?
She prepares meticulously. Much time and effort are used to make sure she is ready on the wedding day. The best materials are used for her garments, which are thoughtfully sewed together to make the wedding dress. The bride will also ready herself. Perform, jewelry and make-up complete the picture. When she walks down the aisle (or the equivalent of this in the first century), she and the groom are beaming. The day of rejoicing has finally arrived. And a grand celebration commences.
Modern cities have city planners. But not all modern cities are attractive. Some are chaotic. Buildings are erected wherever, almost stacked upon each other. This causes some to be completely surrounded and get no sunlight. Alleyways are narrow and winding and it is hard to find your way. Transportation can be a mess because of poor planning. And the city itself may look dirty and unkempt.
But God is the city planner and the architect of the New Jerusalem. It is His gift for His children. Great thought and care are put into making the city just right. Much like Eve was made just for Adam, so this city will be made just for us. It will come from God’s own mind. Every aspect will reflect His perfect design. Each detail will be planned out to satisfy every need we will have. Functionally, it will be matchless. Aesthetically, it will be faultless. The transportation will be convenient. The gardens will be beautiful. It will be easy to get around in and have everything we need. Surely, we will react with unbridled joy.
There is no place like home. And that is where will be, finally. It will be our forever home sweet home.
If you have ever gone on a long and arduous trip, you have probably experienced the joy and comfort of returning home to your own bed. When we are presented with our own room (John 14:1-3) in this holy city, we will likely have the same feeling, but magnified many times over.
Application: The hope of what is to come should motivate us to live our life for our Lord now.
Colossians 3:2 – Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
When you feel overwhelmed by the storms and trials of life, remember what God has in store for you. The afflictions we have now cannot be compared with the eternal weight of glory He has in store for us. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
II. God Dwelling With Man (3-4)
- Whose voice was this?
- What will the new spiritual reality be like on the new earth?
- What will our relationship with God be like? How will it be different from now?
- Why can we not dwell with God now? What does the new reality show us about sin?
- Which of the promises in verse 4 are the most comforting to you and why?
- How do these promises give you hope and help you persevere now?
- How can you use these promises to comfort someone who is struggling?
1 John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Isaiah 53:4-5 – Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
1. The dwelling place of God will be with man –
Revelation 21:3 – And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Of all of the promises ever given, this is probably the best. God will dwell with man. We have never experienced anything like it. Adam and Eve had visits from God for a while. Then after the fall, those became less frequent.
Our sinfulness creates a barrier between us and God
Isaiah 59:2 – But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Since He is holy, He cannot tolerate sin dwelling in His midst. Sin prevents people from having a relationship with God. When they come to Jesus, sins are forgiven. A legal transaction is made and we are redeemed. Yet in practice, we still sin. Those sins create distance between us. It breaks our fellowship with Him. We can only see Him dimly as through a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12). Then, we will see Him face to face.
Our sins will be totally wiped out and forgotten. No more will even the thought of sinning enter our minds. It will be incomprehensible for us to dishonor our Father by sinning against Him, who has done so much for us.
We will have direct access to Him. This fact also teaches us about God’s character. He is willing to condescend to our level to dwell with us. Can you imagine an emperor moving out of his castle to a hut to live with a beggar? Can you imagine a genius like Albert Einstein wanting to hang out with high school dropouts?
God is so much higher than we are that we cannot even comprehend it. And yet He condescends to desire a relationship with us, even to the extent that one day He Himself will make His home with us.
Application: Are you inviting God to dwell with you even now? Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Are you living in such a way as to honor Him with your body? Are you welcoming Him into your life or trying to keep a distance?
2. Awesome promises –
Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Most of the description here is about what will NOT be on the new earth. There will not be:
Note that God will wipe away every tear. That could mean that at the beginning there might be some tears. Perhaps there will be tears for those who are lost and won’t be there. Or perhaps there will be tears of regret. However, God is going to wipe away those tears. There may be a moment in time when God makes everything right, and helps us to deal with those feelings, process them, and move forward in complete joy.
It is not clear how this will work out, but it is clear that God is the one who will bring about this change. He will kindly bring us into this new chapter and help us put all regrets and sadness behind us.
The former things will all pass away. All of the wounds from your life on old earth will be healed. Every abuse, depressing thought, worry, scar, and hurt will be fixed. Everything will be made new, including you.
Application: These promises should bring us comfort in times of sadness. Jesus said that “in the world you will have trouble.” We do experience all kinds of troubles now. But Jesus overcame the world. Memorize this verse and recite it to yourself when you are hurting. And use it to encourage others who struggle to see hope.
III. Everything Made New (5-8)
- What does it mean that He is making all things new? What are some of the things you look forward to Him making new?
- What does the name “Alpha and Omega” mean?
- What does this name teach you about God’s character?
- How does God being the “end” relate to you personally?
- What is the spring of the water of life?
- Why is no payment required for something so valuable?
- What do believers need to conquer (remember the seven churches each had to conquer something unique they faced)?
- Since all people have some of the sins listed in verse 8, how can we avoid this fate? Is there a difference between doing these sins and being this type of person?
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Romans 6:4 – We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
John 7:38 – Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’
Revelation 3:21 – The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
1. I am making all things new – God is not just going to upgrade what we have now. It is not so much Earth 2.0 as it is a totally new system. That doesn’t mean that everything is going to be unrecognizable. There will still be water, trees, gold, silver, jewels, fruit, food, people, and many other things we are familiar with. It won’t be totally different, but it will be better.
Included in the “all things new” is you. Just as the current you is designed for this world, so the future you will be designed for that world.
This world is flawed in so many ways. Family, government, religion, environment, and everything else has the stink of sin on it. What we experience now is a cursed, faded, and rotting version of what God made “very good” in Genesis 1. The things in this world are being used up. Even the laws of nature (entropy; second law of thermodynamics) tell us that this world is descending into chaos.
The laws that govern the new earth will be different. There will be no entropy. It will be a new system with new natural laws for a new you.
Application: Do not get too attached to this world! This world will fade away, but His words last forever.
2. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end –
He is the giver of life. And not just physical life, but our spiritual life is from Him. But He is also the end. He created the world, but after that, He didn’t just leave it to itself. He has the final say.
In the beginning, He was there, and started it. In the end, He will be there and end it (for the old earth and heaven). And He will still be there at this new beginning. He is the great “I AM.”
The fact that He is the end is not only true in a general sense, but also in a very personal sense. No one will be able to enter this new earth without His express permission. The one constant in the midst of this cataclysmic change, that sees a new universe formed, is God.
Application: The most important thing we can do is make sure we have a relationship with the Alpha and Omega! Every person will go through Him to eternity, either eternity in the lake of fire or eternity in this beautiful paradise He prepared for His children.
3. To the thirsty, I will give from the spring of the water of life –
The water of life (or living water) represents eternal life.
John 4:14 – But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat from the Tree of Life after their fall. It was an act of mercy to keep them from living eternally with the stench of sin.
But believers will be made new. We will be made holy. And God will offer the living water to us. We will have eternal life.
It is only given to those who are thirsty. Another way to say that, is that only people who ask for it can have it. There is a condition there. Someone must want the eternal life that God offers. And we must come to Him for it because He is its only source.
Those who thirsted for the world will receive what they thirsted for (both in the world and for eternity). But those who thirst for God will be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Reflect: What are you thirsting for? Can you tell by a person’s actions what he is thirsting for? What actions would reveal a heart that is thirsting for the world? What actions would reveal a heart that is thirsting for God?
4. The one who conquers will have this heritage –
One of the themes of the book of Revelation is that believers are to overcome. Every church had to overcome a specific obstacle or temptation.
A. Ephesus – Overcome apathy and robot-like Christianity (2:7)
B. Smyrna – Overcome persecution (2:11)
C. Pergamum – Overcome false teaching (2:17)
D. Thyatira – Overcome sexual immorality (2:26)
E. Sardis – Overcome apostasy and dead Christianity (3:5)
F. Philadelphia – Overcome complacency (3:12)
G. Laodicea – Overcome self-reliance (3:21)
God calls us to conquer these things. That is the message of Revelation that we are to keep. The one who conquers will be blessed. Each one of these churches was given a promise of blessing IF they overcame. The book of Revelation shows us what we are up against. And we are called to fight. We are called to conquer.
In Revelation 12, the angels fight a war against Satan and his demons and drive them out of heaven. Why God didn’t just say the word and banish the bad guys immediately? The answer we came to is that He wanted the angels to fight. It was good for them to participate in the war. And the same is true for us. God does not call us to be just spectators, watching these supernatural events unfold. Each of us is to actively fight against evil, both in the world and most importantly in our lives.
Those who are in Christ will overcome by His strength. And they will be His children and be with Him forever.
Application: Are you fighting in this battle? Or are you passively observing? Think about which of these seven things you need to overcome. Make it a matter of prayer. Actively seek the Lord’s help. Pick up the sword. And fight.
5. Those without Christ will be judged in the lake of fire – The fate of the wicked is contrasted with the fate of the saved.
While all people are sinners, those in Christ have been forgiven. Because they are in Christ, they have new life. Though they still sin, their life direction is not typified by these sinful lifestyles. A believer may do something cowardly, impure, or deceitful. But he will not go headlong into these things and never repent.
There once was a pastor named Pastor Wang. He was dragged before the governing authorities and told to denounce his faith in Christ or be thrown in prison. So he signed a document and denounced his faith. He was faithless. Yet he felt guilty about what he had done. And the next day he marched back to the police station and told them he changed his mind. After tearing up the document, he was then thrown in prison. Though he was faithless for a moment, the Holy Spirit would not let him remain in that state. And he repented and did the right thing at great cost to himself.
This passage reminds us there are two roads. We must beware of the broad road that leads to destruction. A life of unrepentant sin leads there. Those whose lives are typified by willful and unrepentant practice of sinning will find themselves in the lake of fire, even if they raised their hand to accept Christ in Sunday School decades before.
Application: Write down one thing you need to do based on what you have learned in this passage.
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