Bible Lessons on the Book of Revelation: Victory Through Christ, Lesson XXIV – Part 1

Read More Than Conquerors, pp. 242–250


Try to see it as John saw it in the vision. There is, first of all, the city itself (Rev. 21:10, 16, 18). It is a perfect cube, stretching away as far as John is able to see. It measures the distance from Maine to Florida in height, width, and length (all three are the same). The apostle (in a vision, remember!) sees it coming down out of heaven. Its street’s, buildings, wall (mainly) are of pure. transparent, shining gold.

The city has a very sturdy wall. The wall is of gold but has panels of “jasper,” probably diamond. See Revelation 21:12, 17, 18.

Since in the vision the city is gradually descending, its outline is becoming clearer and clearer to the eyes of John. Standing to the side and below it (all in a vision, of course!) John can see its twelve foundation-stones (Rev. 21:14, 19, 20). What a gorgeous display of sparkling splendor! Here is the red sardius stone; there the white diamond; yonder the blue sapphire; the emerald of rich, green hue; etc. It is a grand color-mosaic, these twelve stones. As John’s eyes travel from stone to stone, taking in this wondrous scene in its composite beauty and variegated splendor, he notices that carved into each stone there are letters, forming names, names of the apostles…his own name among them.

Naturally, the city also has gates (Rev. 21:12, 13, 21, and 25). Each of the twelve gates is an outer gate. On the east there are three, at a certain distance from each other; on the north, three; on the south, three; and on the west, three. And every gate is one, huge pearl! And these gates are never shut. That is the finest part of all.

Each gate is, of course, an entrance to a street. Beginning with the three eastern gates there are three beautiful streets or avenues, running parallel to each other, with ever so much space between the streets, and all leading to the very heart and center of the city. And the same is true with respect to the streets coming from the other gates. If a person walks along any of these streets, having entered by the gate, he always reaches the city’s inner square, so that whatever it is that stands in that inner square is accessible from every direction. Moreover, singling out one street to represent them all, John writes, “The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Rev. 21:21).

Now what is that all-important object standing in the very heart and center of the city, the object to which every street leads, and—I may say in anticipation—from which all the streams issue? That central object is the throne at God and of the Lamb! See Revelation 22:1.

Out of that central throne—central also in chapter 4—issues water, which probably must he pictured as forming a kind of ring around the throne whence it issues, and then begins to divide. It divides in such a manner that a branch of the river runs alongside of each street of gold, still leaving plenty of room between street and river-branch. The water of this river and of its branches is clear as crystal. Between each street and river-branch there is a row of trees. See all this portrayed beautifully in Revelation 22:1, 2 which may be translated as follows:

“And he showed me a river of life, dear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. Between its street on this side and its river on that side was there the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

In dosing, a word about the city’s lighting-system and its inhabitants: “And the city has no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations walk by its light; and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it” (Rev. 21:23, 24; add 22:3-5).

Well, the picture makes sense. All the objects fit together into a pattern, so that one can really see it.


The central meaning is not at all difficult if one is willing to compare Scripture with Scripture. The key to the interpretation is given in Revelation 21:9 and 10. An angel promises to show John the bride, the wife of the Lamb. Then he shows him the city, that is, the holy city Jerusalem. Solution: the city is, of course, the bride. These two are identical. Both indicate the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Isaiah 26:1, 2; Psalm 48; Ephesians 5:31, 32. Psalm 46:4 mentions not only the city hut even the streams which make it glad. Here then in Revelation 21 and 22 we have a vivid portrayal of the glorious Church, the Church so very dear to God. That Church is pictured in its ideal character as it is, in principle, even today, and especially as it will be one day when by sovereign grace we shall “gather at the river, the beautiful, beautiful river, gather with the saints at the river that flows—not “by” but—from (‘out of’) the throne of God.”

As to the probable meaning of the elements that compose this city, these will be considered in the Questions.



1. Do you think that the following objects, in addition to their literal presence in the vision, also have a spiritual meaning: the city’s wall, gates, streets. If so, what meaning?

2. And the following: foundation, tree at life, river?

3. How is the idea of “the throne in the heart and center of the city” related to Calvinism?

4. Why should we stress the fact that, according to Scripture, the river issues out of (or, in singing it, change it to “from”) and does not merely flow “by” the throne of God?

5. Explain the “twelve thousand furlongs” in Revelation 21:16.

6. In how far does this vision pertain to the present, in how far to the future?

7. Why did John have to be carried away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, in order to see this city?

8. (for good measure) Explain Revelation 21:22: “no temple therein.”