The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

My Notes On Revelation 21:1-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 25, 2010

I’ve appended some excerpts from the catechism at the end of this post.


Rev 21:1  I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone: and the sea is now no more.

See Isaiah 65:17~For behold I create new heavens, and a new earth: and the former things shall not be in remembrance, and they shall not come upon the heart.

New earth.  The former creation has passed away, effected as it was by sin (Gen 3:17), it can only flee from the presence of God (20:11).  Thus St Paul writes in Romans 8: 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (RSV).   In Revelation that day is depicted as having come.

For the first heaven and the first earth are passed away.  See Mark 13:31.  Revelation has depicted the heavens as the place where the dragon appeared to devour the woman’s child, and the earth was that upon which he was cast, and where he continued to harass the woman (Rev 12:3, 7-13).  Also, the second beast is said to have come out of the earth (13:11).

As we just saw, St Paul speaks of creation being set free from bondage to decay and of its obtaining the glorious liberty of the children of God.  And Matt 19:28 speaks of its rebirth or regeneration.  Is there a contradiction between Mark/Revelation and Romans/Matthew?  No.  Recall our Lord’s words in John 12:24~Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit.  The seed dies to come to a new life.  Again, consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44~  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

The sea is now no more.  The sea was often a symbol of chaos and hostility (Job 26:12-13; Ps 74: 13-14; Isa 27:1).  It was from the sea that the first beast came (Rev 13:1).

Rev 21:2  And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

The holy city, the new Jerusalem.  Coming down to the new earth prepared for it.  The holy city, coming down out of heaven, is of divine origin, (see James, 1:17).  It is the city designed and built by God (Heb 11:10).  It is holy, having been consecrated by God.  (see Gal 4:26; Phil 3:20; Heb 12:22).

Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  Reminds us that the adornment of Babylon “the great city” has come to nought (18:16).

Bridal image is found upon Isaiah 54, where the once forsaken bride, Zion, (i.e., Jerusalem) is received back, an image of reconciliation.  This was a prophetic image of the people’s return from Babylon after the exile.  Here the city is that of the eternally reconciled whose people had fled Babylon (chapter 18).  The husband is the Lamb (21:9).

See Catechism references # 756 and 2676 at the end of this post.

Rev 21:3  And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men: and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people: and God himself with them shall be their God.

Recalls Leviticus 26:11-12  I will set my tabernacle in the midst of you: and my soul shall not cast you off. I will walk among you, and will be your God: and you shall be my people.  The context here is what will follow upon the people’s obedience. Also recalls Ezek 37:26-27~And I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will establish them, and will multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for ever. And my tabernacle shall be with them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  The context here is also obedience, especially in relation to worship.  This promise pointed toward the reconciliation of the people after the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem and its aftermath, It was a prophecy of hope that the people could hold onto in exile, but it concerned the earthly temple and city.  Here it is something very different, obviously.

Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes:and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away. See Isa 25:6-8; Rev 7:17.

What had been the arrogant boast of Babylon is found in the heavenly city: “I sit a queen, and am no widow; and sorrow I shall not see” (18:7).  “And the kings of the earth who have committed fornication, and lived in delicacies with her, shall weep and bewail..” (18:9).

21:5a And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new.

This is the second and last time that God speaks in the book.  In 1:8 he had said “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty”.

God is the origin of creation and the recreation.  His words here imply “that all things in space and time are part of divine providence” (Adela Yarbro Collins).

Catechism References:

On 21:3

756 “Often, too, the Church is called the building of God. The Lord compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the comer-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his family dwells; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen by John as it comes down out of heaven from God when the world is made anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

6 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:
Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.[Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b]
Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. “Rejoice . . . O Daughter of Jerusalem . . . the Lord your God is in your midst.”[Zeph 3:14,17a] Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God . . . with men.”[Rev 21:3] Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed.”[Lk 1:41, 48] “Blessed is she who believed….”[Lk 1:45] Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.[Cf. Gen 12:3] Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”

On 21:4-5

1044 In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men.[Cf. Rev 21:5] “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”[Rev 21:4]

1186 Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To enter into the house of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are called. The visible church is a symbol of the Father’s house toward which the People of God is journeying and where the Father “will wipe every tear from their eyes.”[GIRM] Also for this reason, the Church is the house of all God’s children, open and welcoming.

Resources Used:

The Apocalypse, New Testament Message, vol. 22, by Adela Yarbro Collins.

The book Of Revelation, The New Collegeville Commentary, by Dennis Hamm.

The Book Of The Apocalypse, New Testament Reading Guide, vol. 14, by William G. Heidt, O.S.B.

Coming Soon by Micahel Barber.

The Jerome Biblical Commentary.

The New Catholic commentary On Holy Scripture.

Revelation, Sacra Pagina, vol 16, by Wilfred J. Harrington O.P.

2 Responses to “My Notes On Revelation 21:1-5”

  1. […] My Notes On Revelation 21:1-5a. […]

  2. […] These verses connect to last Sunday’s reading, Rev 21:1-5 (see 21:2, and my notes here). […]

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