PMW 2019-065 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In Revelation 21 we read of the glorious new creation:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:1–2).
Revelation presents God’s divorce of his old covenant wife Israel in AD 70 (Rev 5 presents the divorce decree). In Rev 6-19 (with interludes and asides) we witness his adulterous wife’s capital punishment. Now in the two closing chapters, we are witnesses to his marriage to his new bride, the new covenant church of Jesus Christ. The new creation is an image of the new covenant. This new Jerusalem-bride is the “Jerusalem above” (Gal 4:26), the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb 12:22) to which all believers in Christ belong.
The new creation/Jerusalem of Revelation 21–22 begins in the first century, although it unfolds throughout history and stretches out into eternity in its ultimate consummation. Note the following evidence for its coming in the first century.
First, the time frame strongly suggests it.
Especially in that it follows closely upon the vision of the new creation/Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is described in Revelation 21:2–22:5. Then immediately after it is presented we read the words: “And he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true’; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place” (Rev 22:6). This is confirmed just four verses later where John is commanded not to seal up the words of Revelation: “And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.’”
Second, Revelation’s flow clearly suggests it.
The new Jerusalem (Rev 20–22) immediately replaces the old Jerusalem (Rev 16–19) rather than waiting several thousand years. Jerusalem is destroyed in AD 70, it is only logical that it would be replaced by the spiritual Jerusalem immediately. In fact, the spiritual Jerusalem overlaps it, already being formed in the first century prior to AD 70.
The Climax of the Book of Revelation (Rev 19-22)
Six lectures on six DVDs that introduce Revelation as a whole, then focuses on its glorious conclusion. Provides an important, lengthy Introduction to Revelation also.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Third, earlier teaching on the new creation.
Elsewhere Scripture teaches that the new creation (salvation) enters history before the final consummation. For instance, in 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read language very similar to Revelation 21:1 and 5: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (cp. Eph 2:10; 4:24; Gal 6:15). John’s Old Testament backdrop is clearly Isaiah 65:17–25.
Note especially verses 17 and 20: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. . . . No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed.” Notice that the new creation on earth still experiences sin, aging, and death in the physical realm; thus, it cannot refer to heaven and eternity.
Fourth, the New Testament anticipates a change.
The NT expects the immediate change of the old era into the new. For instance, in John 4:21 Christ teaches the Samaritan woman: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” Hebrews teaches much about the approaching passing of the old covenant. One clear passage is Heb 8:13 reads: “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.”
Fifth, the New Testament speaks of the bride.
In the NT the church is Christ’s bride (Eph 5:25ff; 2Co 11:2ff; Jn 3:29). God does not have two wives; his new covenant bride replaces his old covenant wife, Israel, in AD 70.
When we read Revelation 21–22 we must recognize John’s strong use of dramatic, poetic imagery. The absence of the sea (Rev 21:1) pictures harmony and peace within. In Scripture the sea often symbolizes discord and sin (Rev 13:1,2; Isa 8:7ff; 23:10; 57:20; Jer 6:23; 46:7). Christianity offers the opposite (Rom 5:1; Eph 2:12ff; Phil 4:7, 9). The bride-church is the tabernacle-temple of God (Rev 21:3) because God dwells within her and no literal temple is needed (Rev 21:22; cf. Eph 2:19–22; 1Co 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; 1 Pet 2:5, 9). Salvation removes grief (Rev 21:4; 1 Thess 4:13; 1 Cor 15:55–58; Jms 1:2–4), introduces one into the family of God (Rev 21:7; cf. John 1:12–13; 1 John 3:1ff). and brings eternal life (Rev 21:6, 8).
John also presents the glory of the bride-church (Rev 21:9–22:5) in poetic imagery. She shines brilliantly like light (Rev 21:10, 11; cp. Matt 5:14–16; Acts 13:47; Rom 13:12; 2 Cor 6:14; Eph 5:8ff). Consequently, she is as precious to God as costly gold and jewels (Rev 21:11, 18ff; 1 Pet 1:7; 2:4–7; 1 Cor 3:12). This beautiful bride-church has a sure foundation and impregnable walls (Rev 21:12–21; Matt 16:18; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:19f; 1 Cor 3:10ff; Isa 26:1; 60:18).
Four Views on the Book of Revelation
(ed. by Marvin Pate)
Helpful presentation of four approaches to Revelation. Ken Gentry writes the chapter on the preterist approach to Revelation, which provides a 50 page survey of Revelation .
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Thus, she is destined to have a massive influence in the world (Rev 21:16; cp. Isa 2:2ff; Eze 17:22ff; 47:1–11; Dan 2:31–35; Mic 4:1; Matt 13:31–32; 28:18 –20; John 3:17; 1Co 15:20ff; 2 Cor 5:19). God cares for her by providing her with the water of life (John 4:14; 7:37–38; 6:32–35). Thus, she brings healing to the nations by her presence (Rev 21:22; 22:1–5; Rev 22:2, 3; Isa 53:5; Eze 47:1–12; Matt 13:33; Luke 4:18; John 4:14; Gal 3:10–13; 1 Pet 2:2, 24).
Tagged: new creation, new heavens
I’ve had many dispensationalists quote this to me from Revelation.
“Rev 22:2 The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
They then ask something like, “If it’s the new heavens and new Earth, and if it’s eternity, then why do the nations still need to be healed by the leaves?”
Doesn’t the preterist perspective have the best answer for that question?
We’re in the New Jerusalem now, and through the gospel we bring the healing to the nations.
HOLY POSTMILL BAT MAN!
Excellent! Very well explained!! Thanks!!!
Hi, dr. Kenenth.
If Revelation 21 is a symbolic description of the church, how should we understand verse 7 that says the “Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children”. ? This verse seems to refer to the reward after Christ’s return since Revelation 21:8 refers to eternal punishment that will take place after the second comming of Christ.
As Jesus says, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Christianity was established in the first century and will grow to dominance before the end of history. Rev 21 is a symbolic portryal of this, looking at things as if they are already accomplished.
Hello Dr Gentry,
Do the promises at the end of the letters that John sent to the seven churches (rev. 2.17; rev. 2.26-28; rev. 3.5; rev. 3.12; rev. 3.21) refer to the future consummated order or are they poetic descriptions of the new covenant that was opened in the first century?
Remember the Now/Not Yet principle of interpretation. The new creation has been initiated spiritually but has not been consummated physically. That is, we are spiritual resurrected now, but will be physically resurrected in the future. We spiritually have entered the new creation which has been inaugurated, but we will enter the consummate new creation at the end of history. John 5:24ff give a clear picture of this Now/Not Yet approach when it relates the spiritual resurrection with the future physical resurrection.
I noticed that the Isaiah passage talks about living to less than 100 being rare, yet the Revelation passage talks about death ending altogether.
How would you explain that?
This is not a “debate” coming from me or an antagonistic question.
I was just contemplating these two passages together today and wondering if they were describing the same thing when I noticed this important difference.
So I would LOVE to hear your thoughts (especially Kenneth Gentry, but anybody) on this.
If you have written about that question in another article feel free to point the way and I will read it. 🙂
The language of Revelation speaks figuratively of present realities (note Rev. 22:6, 10) but with a Now-Not Yet anticipation of the future reality at the end. This is like the present spiritual resurrection anticipating the future physical resurrection (John 5:24-28).
Hmmm… Thanks. Something for me to think upon.