SPECIAL DOCTRINO-ETHICAL AND HOMILETICAL NOTES (ADDENDUM)
The New Heaven and the New Earth. The Kingdom of glory a. Heavenly World-picture of the Consummation. (Rev_20:11 to Rev_21:8)
General.—We here refer to our detailed treatment of the subject in the Exeget. Notes (p. 358 sqq.).
Special.—The end of the old world, the natal hour of the new world. This truth is (1) prefigured by life in nature (out of death, life); (2) grounded in the antithesis between the old and the new life of the Christian (the dying of the old man, the rising of the new man); (3) mediated, in its realization, by the verbal prophecies of Scripture and the real prophecies of the development of the Kingdom of God (every apparent down-going, the condition of a glorious resurrection).—The end of the world, a presentiment of all creature-life.—The new world, an object of the aspiration of all the pious.—[Rev_20:11-15.] Individual features of the end of the world: The Judge; the down-going [of the old world]; the resurrection; the judgment; the Book of Life; the lake of fire.—[ch. 20 sqq.] The new world: A consummate reality; anew Heaven and a new earth; the new Jerusalem; the new habitation of God (Rev_20:3); the new existence (Rev_20:4); the new creation (Rev_20:5).—The Word of God, the foundation of the first world (Joh_1:1[–3]);—in the explication (and world-historic operation) of His words, the foundation of the second world.—Certainty of the new world, (1) in respect of its Founder (Rev_20:6); (2) in respect of the heritage which it shall afford to the conquerors [Rev_20:7]; (3) in respect of the certainty of its antithesis [the lake of fire, Rev_20:8].—The second death? Infinitely mysterious in its nature. On the other hand, exceedingly clear as the final consequence, and hence the final punishment, of consistent sin. The second death, the last consistent result of the first beginnings of evil.—The contradiction immanent in the figure of the lake of fire, in perfect accordance with the essence of godlessness: 1. Extreme agitation and motion; 2. In perfect aimlessness; 3. Hence ethical self-consumption on the basis of physical indissolubleness.—Significant character-portrait of the lost under the superscription of the fearful. True heroic courage in the light of eternity; and its aim.
Starke: There are two lines of opinion as to the vision set forth in chs. 21 and 22. Some consider that whilst it presents, chiefly, the condition of the Church on earth during the thousand years, a picture of the glorious state of the Church in Heaven is commingled with the former view; others hold that the contents of these two chapters refer particularly to the glorious state of the Church Triumphant in Heaven.—Quesnel: (Comp. Rev_21:4 and Joh_16:20.) O precious tears of penitence and grief shed by the righteous and accounted worthy to be wiped away by the hand of God Himself. (Rev_21:6.) God will yet manifest Himself to His Church as Alpha and Omega, and prove that the promise which He gave in the beginning, He will emphatically fulfill in the end.—Quesnel [Rev_21:8]: There is a, fearfulness which can condemn us equally with any misdoings.
Claus Harms, Die Offenb. Joh. gepredigt (Kiel, 1844; p. 183): The New Jerusalem. I. It has its name and form from that Jerusalem in Israel. II. But the glory of the new is far greater than the glory of the old. III. Greater, even, than anything the Prophets have predicted in regard to it. IV. Yes, the new Jerusalem surpasses even Heaven and eternal blessedness. V. Christians, have we this glorious city before our eyes? VI. And in our hearts?
Haken, Kosmische Bilder, Riga, 1862 (p. 190): The new Heaven and the new Earth. Psa_102:25-26; Heb_1:10. In both passages the terms pass away [perish] and change are promiscuously employed; the Heavens pass away only so far as they are changed.
[From M. Henry: Rev_20:11-15. Observe, 1. The throne and tribunal of judgment, great and white, very glorious, and perfectly just and righteous. 2. The Judges 3. The persons to be judged. 4. The rule of judgment settled; the books were opened. The book of God’s omniscience, and the book of the sinner’s conscience; and another book shall be opened—the book of the scriptures, the statute-book of heaven, the rule of life. This book determines matters of right; the other books give evidence of matters of fact. 5. The cause to be tried; the works of men, what they have done, and whether it be good or evil. 6. The issue of the trial and judgment; and that will be according to the evidence of fact, and rule of judgment.—Rev_21:3. The presence of God with His people in heaven will not be interrupted as it is on earth, but He will dwell with them continually.—The covenant interest and relation that there are now between God and His people will be filled up and perfected in heaven. They shall be his people; their souls shall be assimilated to Him, filled with all the love, honor and delight in God that their relation requires; this shall be their perfect holiness, and He will be their God; His immediate presence with them, His love fully manifested to them, and His glory put upon them, will be their perfect happiness.
Rev_21:4. Note, 1. All the effects of former trouble shall be done away. God Himself, as their tender Father, with His kind hand, shall wipe away the tears of His children; and they would not have been without those tears when God shall come and wipe them away. 2. All the causes of future sorrow shall be forever removed; There shall be neither death nor pain; and therefore no sorrow nor crying; these are things incident to that state in which they were before, but now all former things are passed away.
Rev_21:5-6. We may and ought to take God’s promise as present payment; if He has said, He makes all things new, it is done.—Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. As it was His glory, that He gave the rise and beginning to the world, and to His Church, it will be His glory to finish the work begun, and not to leave it imperfect.—The desires of His people toward this blessed state [Rev_21:1-4] are another evidence of the truth and certainty of it; they thirst after a state of sinless perfection, and the uninterrupted enjoyment of God; and God has wrought in them these longing desires which cannot be satisfied with anything else, and therefore would be the torment of the soul if they were disappointed; but it would be inconsistent with God’s goodness and His love to His people to create in them holy and heavenly desires, and then deny them their proper satisfaction; and therefore they may be assured when they have overcome their present difficulties, He will give them of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Rev_21:6-8. The greatness of this future felicity is declared and illustrated, 1. By the freeness of it. 2. The fullness of it; inherit all things. 3. By the tenure and title by which God’s people enjoy this blessedness; by right of inheritance, as the sons of God. 4. By the vastly different state of the wicked.
Rev_21:8. Observe, 1. The sins of those who perish. The fearful lead the van in this black list; they durst not encounter the difficulties of religion, and their slavish fear proceeded from their unbelief. They, however, were yet so desperate as to run into all manner of abominable wickedness. 2. Their punishment. This misery will be their proper part and portion, and what they have prepared themselves for by their sins.—From The Comprehensive Commentary. Rev_21:8. There is then a fearfulness which alone is sufficient to cause our condemnation, as well as the other crimes here mentioned. It is not only that fear which causes us to deny and abandon the faith; but that also which causes us to be wanting to important and essential duties, through fear of hurting our fortunes, our ease, and even our temporal and spiritual interests, and of creating ourselves enemies. True courage is, to fear nothing but God and displeasing Him. Real cowardice is, not to have courage to overcome self, nor renounce the creature, through the hope of enjoying the Creator. (Quesnel.)—From Vaughan: Rev_21:3. To have God with us is to be perfectly safe: to have God for our God is to be perfectly happy.
Rev_21:8. The fearful. O terrible end! O fatal compromise carried on too long and too far with sinners and with sin ! O spirit of oversensitiveness, of dislike to trouble, of dread of isolation, of inability to judge decisively and to act courageously, which has brought you, by slow stages, by easy descents, to a level so vile, and a companionship so horrible !—From Bonar: Rev_20:12. Books are opened—books probably containing God’s history of the sinner’s life, His record of the sinner’s deeds. … The Divine version of human history how unlike all earthly annals ! Most of the leading facts the same, yet how differently told and interpreted. Alongside of these is another book, called the book of life—the register of those whose portion is life eternal.
Rev_21:13. Judged every man according to his works. God keeps His diary of every soul’s doings and sayings and thinkings.
Rev_21:14. Of the old prediction in Hosea (Rev_13:14): “O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction,” John here records the awful (and glorious) fulfillment.]