Bible Revelation

The New Heavens and New Earth (Rev 21:1-8)


A. Story of Joe Rantz

Joe Rantz was a man born in 1914 which means he lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s. However, hard economic times were not the only hardship that Joe had to endure. When Joe was five years old his mother suddenly died and as a result Joe was sent via train (by himself) to live with his aunt, Alma. Joe had to live with Alma because his dad had went to Canada to figure life out after the death of his wife. After Joe’s dad had time to morn and collect himself, he came back to the United States, found a job, and quickly remarried. Joe was sent back via train to live with his father and his new stepmother which he had never met. Growing up Joe’s parents had three additional children; three step siblings for Joe. When Joe was ten his step-mother was fed up with him and told Joe’s dad that Joe must move out of the house. So, Joe lived at the school house where he did miscellaneous chores as a way to pay his rent and food allowance. When hard economic times hit Joe’s family they decided to move, but Joe’s stepmother gave Joe’s father an ultimatum: Either Joe stays or she will stay with the kids. Joe’s stepmother was fed up with Joe and would not tolerate him any longer. In her mind, the family was moving for a fresh start and they were not going to take Joe with them. So, the family left for a new area to start over and left Joe in their home. Joe stayed there for a while. He continued to go to school and find food to eat. One way that he provided for himself was going down to the local water canal to fish. Him and his friend would go to the canal together. One boy would stand up stream with a wooden spear in his hand ready to throw it at a fish while the other boy went down stream, jumped in the water, and tried to rush the fish up stream. The boy with the spear would through it into a salmon, then the two boys would take the salmon to town and sell it for cash as if they had caught it with bait and tackle (despite the big hole through the fish). Over time, things started to get better for Joe. Joe’s older brother learned about Joe being left by his family and had Joe come live him and his wife during high school. When it came time for college Joe was accepted to the University of Washington. Just before college he met a woman who would eventually be his wife. Joe had worked hard to save up enough money to pay for school, but he would need to find part-time work while in school. In fact, the one way to guarantee that you would get part-time work while in college was to play a sport. If you were a student-athlete the school would put you to work. So, Joe tried out for the rowing team. It was work that Joe loved because it was difficult, painful, and masculine. So many of his life experiences caused him to develop grit and determination and rowing was a way for him to use that experience. Joe’s rowing team eventually competed in the 1936 summer Olympics which the United States took the gold medal! While his life started out very difficult, later in life he was able to taste some of the sweet things of life. He got a college education, married a lovely woman, and won the gold medal for his country!

B. Text of Rev 21:1-8

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth were gone and the sea was also gone. 2Then I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—coming out of heaven from God dressed like a bride prepared up for her husband.
3Then I heard a loud voice from the throne saying:
“Look! The home of God is with mankind. He will live with them and they themselves will be his people and God himself will be with them. 4God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. Those prior things are gone forever.”
5Then the one sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, because these words are trustworthy and true.” 6Then he said to me: “It is finished! I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the one who thirsts I will give from the spring of the water of life for free. 7The one who is victorious will acquire these things. I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But, the cowardly, unfaithful, abominable, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars will burn in the lake of fire and sulfur. This is the second death.” (Rev 21:1-8)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek text.[/ref]

The New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation 21.1 to 21.8

C. General Remarks about Rev 21:1-8

Like most of the book of Revelation, this passage is a little controversial and difficult to interpret for two reasons:

  • First, the rest of the Bible does not say a lot about the new heaven, earth, and Jerusalem.
  • Second, when the rest of the Bible (both OT and NT) mentions the new heaven, earth, and Jerusalem it appears to describe this future state in the same time period as the Millennium.

Meaning, when OT prophets or NT writers described the end time they seemed to describe all of the events happening together. Instead of a sequential or chronological way. Examples are Isa 61:1-2; 65:17; 66:22; Dan 12:2; Luke 4:17-19; 2 Peter 3:10-13. However, the book of Revelation provides a clear description of events that happen in a sequential and mostly chronological way.

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A. The New Heaven and New Earth (v. 1)

Καὶ εἶδον οὐρανὸν καινὸν καὶ γῆν καινήν. ὁ γὰρ πρῶτος οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ πρώτη γῆ ἀπῆλθαν καὶ ἡ θάλασσα οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth were gone and the sea was also gone. (Rev 21:1)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek text.[/ref]

1. New or New?

The Greek word used here for “new” is the adjective, καινος, which describes something that is recent in contrast to something old. Often it is translated as new. According to one lexicon it describes new “in the sense that what is old has become obsolete, and should be replaced by what is new. In such a case the new is, as a rule, superior in kind to the old” (BDAG, 497). Walvoord describes the word meaning both “new in character and in the sense of recently made” (Walvoord, Revelation, 329). Metzger says it is a “new kind of heaven and earth” (Metzger, Breaking the Code, 98).

2. No Sea

Eschatology Soteriology Theology

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Gospel and Hell

This is my final post in the summary doctrine series. Today we look at what it means for people to respond to the Gospel and what happens to those who do or don’t accept the Gospel message. Like my other posts, I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith as a guide.

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Gospel and Hell
Gustave Dore’s “New Jerusalem”

Response and Eternal Destiny. Article #10. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.


A. The Gospel Message