Rev. 21:1 I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth where passed away
After the Millennium and the short season, the heaven and the earth will pass away. The earth must die and be resurrected; the heavens will change as the earth takes its place in a new position in space. Just like the souls of the righteous, the resurrected earth is brought back to life with a celestial glory. Never again, does it need to be cleansed, renewed, or sanctified.
Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;
For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified. (D&C 88:18-20)
Parley P. Pratt
A new heaven and a new earth are promised by the sacred writers. Or, in other words, the planetary systems are to be changed, purified, refined, exalted, and glorified, in the similitude of the resurrection, by which all physical evil or imperfections will be done away. (Key to the Science of Theology, 1943, p. 60.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
This has reference to the third, and final change yet future, which shall come to the earth, after it is cleansed and purified by fire. For the earth shall die by fire and thus be purified; through this death and disintegration and purification which will follow, the earth will be raised to its celestial, and final state, that of glory. (The Progress of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 504 - 505.)
Rev. 21:1 there was no more sea
"What strikes John about the new world is that 'there [is] no more sea' (v. 1, KJV). The abode of chaos, the home of the satanic beast, the old seat over which the whore held sway, has vanished. Under the force of the Lamb's radiance, the source of Babylon's sea-borne luxuries and what helped feed and sustain her corruption has boiled into oblivion. But the sea and the abyss are one and the same. Therefore, the destruction of the sea represents the annihilation of the primeval deep, the home of malevolence and evil. Up to this point, it has dominated the world. As the stronghold of Satan's supporters, its existence mocked the hope of a complete victory and a complete sovereignty of the Lord. It has no place in the transformed world where all things spontaneously obey their Lord and their God." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 228.)
Rev. 21:2 I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven
The Lord has revealed the exact location of the New Jerusalem, 'Missouri...is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place of the city of Zion...Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place' (DC 57:1-3). 'Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place' (DC 84:4).
The above scriptures speak of a New Jerusalem to be built 'by the gathering of the saints.' But John is describing a New Jerusalem which should come down out of heaven. We should understand this to mean that the earthly Zion and the heavenly Zion will have to combine to become one great city. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained, "This New Jerusalem on the American continent will have a dual origin. It will be built by the saints on earth and it will also come down from heaven, and the cities so originating will be united into one holy city." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 532)
Elder James E. Talmage said, "The Church in this day teaches that the New Jerusalem seen by John and by the prophet Ether, as descending from the heavens in glory, is the return of exalted Enoch and his righteous people; and that the people or Zion of Enoch, and the modern Zion, or the gathered saints on the western continent, will become one people." (Articles of Faith, p. 318 as taken from Jerusalem: The Eternal City, by Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner p. 547)
The Lord describes the reunion of the earthly and heavenly Zions saying,
'I shall prepare, an Holy City (the earthly New Jerusalem), that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.
And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;
And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest' (Moses 7:62-64).
From the last verse, we learn that this great event occurs at the beginning of the Millenium. The time for the building of this city and its temple has not yet come (DC 58:44), but both will be built rather quickly when the time comes, behold, I, the Lord, will hasten the city in its time, and will crown the faithful with joy and rejoicing (DC 52:43).
When Zion descends from above, Zion will also ascend from beneath and be prepared to associate with those from above. The people will be so perfected and purified, ennobled, exalted, and dignified in their feelings and so truly humble and most worthy, virtuous and intelligent that they will be fit, when caught up, to associate with that Zion that shall come down from God out of heaven. (Journal of Discourses, 10:147 as taken from Jerusalem: The Eternal City, by Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner p. 547)
We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God. It must be done according to the will and law of God, after that pattern and order by which Enoch built up and perfected the former-day Zion, which was taken away to heaven, hence the saying went abroad that Zion had fled. By and by it will come back again, and as Enoch prepared his people to be worthy of translation, so we through our faithfulness must prepare ourselves to meet Zion from above when it shall return to earth, and to abide the brightness and glory of its coming. (Journal of Discourses, 18:356.)
Franklin D. Richards
I expect that in the city of Enoch there are temples; and when Enoch and his people come back, they will come back with their city, their temples, blessings and powers. (Journal of Discourses, 25:236-37)
Rev. 21:3 God is with men, and he will dwell with them
During the Millennium, Christ will dwell with the righteous. After the earth is celestialized, God the Father and Christ will dwell with the righteous (v. 22).
Here, then, we find man's final dwelling place is the earth; and for this purpose it was first created, and it never will fulfil the measure of its creation until this shall take place. Nor will man ever attain to the end for which he was created, till his spirit and his body are purified, and he takes his proper position on the earth.
The prophets of God, in every age, have looked forward to this time; and while many considered them to be fools, they were laying for themselves an eternal foundation: they looked with scorn upon the gaudy baubles that fascinated foolish and corrupt man: they could not yield to his chicanery and deception; but with the fear of God before their eyes, and a knowledge of the future, they stood proudly erect in a consciousness of their innocence and integrity; despised alike the praise and powers of men, endured afflictions, privations, and death; wandered in sheep skins and goat skins, destitute, tormented, and afflicted, for "they looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:10) (The Government of God [Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1852], 42 - 45.)
When I was a boy, nineteen years old, I first saw Joseph Smith; I attended a conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the 2nd of January, 1831. At that conference the people desired him to inquire of the Lord for them-they were anxious to know his mind and will. They were at that time comparatively few in number, not being more than two hundred. Joseph Smith sat down at a table, and received a great revelation, which is now contained in this Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Part of it, in relation to a land of promise, reads as follows:
And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts:
And this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children for ever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away. (D&C 38:19-20)
When I sat and heard that revelation,-it was uttered by the Prophet Joseph, and written by his scribe,-I thought to myself, that is a very curious doctrine, for I had not then learned that this earth was to become our future home and heaven, and I did not think Joseph Smith knew it. But it seemed so curious to me to bring myself to believe that the Lord was going to give us part of this earth, to possess it, and our children after us, while time should last, and to retain it through all eternity, never more to pass away. This was so different from anything I had been taught-I was utterly confounded-to think that my Father in heaven would come and live here on this earth! But when I came to read the Bible on this subject and found how numerous the passages were promising that the Saints should inherit the earth forever, I was perfectly astonished that I had never thought of it before. (B. H. Roberts, The Mormon Doctrine of Deity [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1903], 282 - 283.)
Rev. 21:4 God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes
James E. Faust
We find solace in Christ through the agency of the Comforter, and he extends this invitation to us: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28.) The Apostle Peter speaks of "casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Pet. 5:7.) As we do this, healing takes place, just as the Lord promised through the prophet Jeremiah when he said, "I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. ... I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul." (Jer. 31:13, 25.)
In the celestial glory, we are told, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." (Rev. 21:4.) Then faith and hope will replace heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair, and the Lord will give us strength, as Alma says, that we "should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ." (Alma 31:38.) Of this I have a testimony, and I so declare it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. ("Spiritual Healing," Ensign, May 1992, 8)
Rev. 21:6 I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely
"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." (John 4:10) These were the words of the Master to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. With her mortal eyes, she could see only the well before her. The Master, however, could see what would come of this earth. He could see the holy city Jerusalem with its throne. He could see living water, "a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." (Rev. 22:1) He had the power to give her a drink of this water, declaring, "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:14) He was not speaking figuratively. This was no expression of poetic language. It was a promise He was capable of fulfilling. Those who reside in the celestial sphere will drink of this water. They will literally drink living water and eat the fruit of the tree of life (Rev. 22:2).
Rev. 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things
David O. McKay
I then fell asleep, and beheld in vision something infinitely sublime. In the distance I beheld a beautiful white city. Though far away, yet I seemed to realize that trees with luscious fruit, shrubbery with gorgeously-tinted leaves, and flowers in perfect bloom abounded everywhere. The clear sky above seemed to reflect these beautiful shades of color. I then saw a great concourse of people approaching the city. Each one wore a white flowing robe, and a white headdress. Instantly my attention seemed centered upon their Leader, and though I could see only the profile of his features and his body, I recognized him at once as my Savior! The tint and radiance of his countenance were glorious to behold! There was a peace about him which seemed sublime - it was divine!
The city, I understood, was his. It was the City Eternal; and the people following him were to abide there in peace and eternal happiness.
But who were they?
As if the Savior read my thoughts, he answered by pointing to a semicircle that then appeared above them, and on which were written in gold the words:
"These Are They Who Have Overcome The World - Who Have Truly Been Born Again!"
When I awoke, it was breaking day. (Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, rev. and enl., compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955], 102.)
Neal A. Maxwell
Happily, while the Lord has promised us a tutoring mortality, He has also promised us glorious things as well!
"And all they who ... endure in faith ... shall ... partake of all this glory." (D&C 101:35.)
Eternal life brings to us, brothers and sisters, the full bestowal of all the specific promises made in connection with all the temple's holy ordinances. John declared that the "called, and chosen, and faithful" shall "inherit all things." (Rev. 21:7; see also Rev. 17:14.) Modern scriptures confirm that these special souls will eventually receive "all that [the] Father hath." (D&C 84:38.) "All"! You and I cannot even imagine such bounteous blessings. ("Endure It Well," Ensign, May 1990, 35)
Rev. 21:10 he...shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God
An important distinction should be made between the New Jerusalem spoken of in Rev. 21:2-7 and 'that great city, the holy Jerusalem' spoken of in verse 10. Joseph Smith explained the difference:
"Now many will feel disposed to say, that this New Jerusalem spoken of, is the Jerusalem that was built by the Jews on the eastern continent. But you will see, from Revelation 21:2, there was a New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband; that after this, the Revelator was caught away in the Spirit, to a great and high mountain, and saw the great and holy city descending out of heaven from God. Now there are two cities spoken of here." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 86, italics added)
Some elaboration on the Prophets remarks is in order. The Prophet quotes Revelation chapter 21 to show the differences between the two cities, saying "there are two cities spoken of here." This subject is of particular interest because both the New Jerusalem and the Old Jerusalem are to be met by a city coming out of heaven. However, the circumstances and timing are different.
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them' (Rev 21:2-3).
The prophet taught that this description of the New Jerusalem should not be confused with the other holy city which John saw coming out of heaven:
'And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.' (Rev 21:10)
This passage speaks of a heavenly Jerusalem which will come out of heaven just as the Enoch's Zion will come out of heaven to the New Jerusalem. The key to understanding this is that this heavenly Jerusalem spoken of in Rev 21:10 does not come until after the Millenium. The two cities are compared in the following table:
Heavenly New Jerusalem
Heavenly Old Jerusalem
Description: a city which is to come from heaven and be joined with the New Jerusalem
Description: a city which is to come from heaven and be joined with the Old Jerusalem
Timing: beginning of Millenium
Timing: after the Millenium
Location: Jackson Co., Missouri
Location: site of ancient Jerusalem
Temple: large temple in the city will be the site of extensive temple work during the Millenium
Temple: no temple is necessary because the work has already been done, hence John saw no temple therein (Rev 21:22)
Inhabitants: the people of Enoch (Moses 7:62-64)
Inhabitants: an innumerable company of angels...the general assembly and the church of the firstborn (Heb 12:22-23)
Glory: the earth will be renewed and enjoy a terrestrial (paradisiacal) glory during the Millenium
Glory: after heaven and earth pass away, the earth becomes a celestialized sphere
Leadership: The Son of God will dwell with men for a thousand years
Leadership: Both the Father and the Son will reign, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it (Rev 21:22)
Other scriptures which speak of this heavenly city of Jerusalem are Rev. 22:1-5, Heb 11:9-16; 12:22-23.
Joseph Fielding Smith
After the close of the millennial reign we are informed that Satan, who was bound during the millennium, shall be loosed and go forth to deceive the nations. Then will come the end. The earth will die and be purified and receive its resurrection. During this cleansing period the City Zion, or New Jerusalem, will be taken from the earth; and when the earth is prepared for the celestial glory, the city will come down according to the prediction in the Book of Revelation. (Answers to Gospel Questions 2:105 as taken from Jerusalem: The Eternal City, by Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner p. 550)
Rev. 21:11-27 the description of the Eternal City, the Holy Jerusalem
Parley P. Pratt
From this beautiful description we learn-First that the new earth is not to be separated by any sea; consequently, what is now called the Eastern and Western Continents will then be on one land. Secondly, we learn that the Lord will make not only the heavens and earth but all things new, (including, of course, the cities of Jerusalem and Zion where his tabernacle will have been for more than a thousand years). Thirdly we learn that the city will lie four-square, and have twelve gates, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inserted, one on each gate; three gates on the north, three on the south, three on the east, and three on the west; precisely after the same manner in which it will exist temporarily during the thousand years, as described by Ezekiel. Fourthly, we learn that it will be composed of precious stones and gold, as the temporal city also will be, as described by Isaiah. Fifthly, a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, will flow through this renewed city, proceeding from the throne of God, just as living waters will flow from the sanctuary in the temporal city, as described by Ezekiel...
Now, of the things which we have spoken, that is the sum: Ezekiel and the other prophets have presented us with a view of the cities of Zion and Jerusalem as they will exist during the one thousand years of rest called the Millennium; and John has given us a view of the same cities, after their final change, when they came down from God out of heaven, and rest upon the new earth. (A Voice of Warning [New York City: Eastern States Mission [189-?], 108 - 109.)
Rev. 21:16 the city lieth foursquare... twelve thousand furlongs
If a furlong is 607 feet long, that means the dimensions of this city are almost beyond comprehension. The city must be 1379 miles (2222 km) long on each side. A city this large would cover the entire western United States from the northern tip of Washington to the southernmost tip of California. It would include all of the Dakotas and all of Texas.
If the gates are evenly distributed on its sides, then there would be a gate every 345 miles (555 km). Even more remarkable is that the height of the city is described as the same as the width. The city has the dimensions of a perfect cube. We might guess that a perfect city would have a perfect shape. But can we imagine a city whose tallest point is 1379 miles high? The top of Mount Everest is only 5.5 miles from sea level. The atmosphere is so thin as to be negligible beyond 60 miles. Such a city could never exist on this planet under current conditions. It would indeed require a new heaven, or atmosphere, and a new earth to accommodate such a huge city.
Bruce R. McConkie
Hre is a city, in size and dimensions, in splendor and glory, which is so far beyond human experience or comprehension that there is no way to convey to the finite mind what the eternal reality is. Hence, expressions relative to precious stones, to streets of gold, and to pearly gates. It is noteworthy that the city is cubic in shape. Calculated on the basis of 606 feet, 9 inches to the furlong, its outer limits will stretch nearly 1400 miles in length and breadth and height. This means there will be approaching 2,744,000,000 cubic miles of dwelling space within its sacred portals. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 589.)
Rev. 21:17 he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits
"Third, John's city sat on twelve foundation stones named after the apostles of the Lord, while no mention is made of the foundation in Ezekiel. Note that Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:20; 4:11 stresses that God's kingdom rests upon the quorum of Apostles. The repetition of number twelve in the stones and gates stands as a constant reminder of the priestly power that guards and envelops all aspects and operations of the holy city. This is seen especially in the measurement of the walls. John notes they are 144 cubits, after the measure of an angel. The size of an angelic cubit is unknown. What is important is the number-twelve squared-signifying the fullness of priesthood authority. This is what surrounds and stands as a great bulwark to the city." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 235.)
Rev. 21:21 the twelve gates were twelve pearls... and the street of the city was pure gold
When the riches of eternity are considered-with gates made of pearls and the streets themselves paved in gold, the petty riches of this life pale into obscurity. What a waste to spend your life in search of a nugget of gold when God has in mind to pave your street with it!
The true use of gold is for paving streets, covering houses, making culinary dishes; and when the Saints shall have preached the gospel, raised grain, and built up cities enough, the Lord will open up the way for a supply of gold to the perfect satisfaction of his people; until then, let them not be over-anxious for the treasures of the earth. (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930], 3: 347.)
The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth. (Preston Nibley, Brigham Young: The Man and His Work, 4th ed.[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1960], 127 - 128.)
Rev. 21:22 I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it
There are those who do not understand why there should be no temple in this "holy Jerusalem." The fact is that when the thousand years are ended, the temple work will all have been done, and therefore we will have no more use for a temple, just as we learn from verse 23 (Rev 21) that we will have no further need of the moon by night or the sun by day, "for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 327)
Rev. 21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it
"The future residence of the Saints, we perceive, is not an ideal thing without reality. They will need houses for their persons, and for their families as much in their resurrected condition as in their present state; they will be as sensible of the works of art, taste, beauty and grandeur, there as now, and far more so.
"In this identical world, where they have been robbed of houses and lands, and wife and children, they shall have an hundred fold. The nations of the earth shall bring their glory into the city of their immortal residence. And the diversified wisdom of Solomon, displayed above all earthly kings, shall be but a miniature picture of the visible and tangible glories that will be exhibited to the eyes and ears of resurrected Saints on the very earth where they once suffered. If ever an earthly sovereign sat upon a throne, and swayed a royal sceptre, and wore a glittering crown of surpassing richness and beauty, then shall men and women who have suffered loss and shame for the gospel's sake, be seated upon thrones in the city of the New Jerusalem, and their mandates shall be heard and obeyed to the ends of the earth; and the riches, and dominion, and power, and blessing, and glory, that shall encircle them, no tongue can describe. Oh! wonderful transition, from darkness to light, and from the degrading bondage of Satan into the liberty of the sons and daughters of God! Glorious emancipation! Who can contemplate the recompense of reward without ample satisfaction for all the withering scorn, and piercing sarcasm, and bloody hatred, that have been endured?" (Orson Spencer, Letters Exhibiting the Most Prominent Doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1891], 148 - 149.)