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Many times we experience disappointment and regret when our new experiences revisit and remind us of past similar incidents.  The new reality fails to live up to the glories of days gone by.  Cf. the disappointment of the Jewish fathers at the rebuilding of the temple in the days of Ezra (3:10-12) –  “But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple [Solomon’s grand temple], wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid”.  But in the case of New Jerusalem, the situation is reversed.  Certainly Adam and Eve will rejoice at the transformation of their new enhanced Edenic paradise.  God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”  We do not even have the language or the ideas to describe in detail what awaits us in glory.

Warren Wiersbe: In Revelation 22:1–5, we move inside the city to discover that it is like a beautiful garden, reminiscent of the garden of Eden. There were four rivers in Eden (Gen. 2:10–14), but there is only one river in the heavenly city. Ezekiel saw a purifying river flowing from the temple, certainly a millennial scene (Ezek. 47), but this river will flow directly from God’s throne, the very source of all purity. Man was prohibited from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and prevented from eating of the tree of life (Gen. 2:15–17; 3:22–24). But in the eternal home, man will have access to the tree of life. The river and the tree symbolize abundant life in the glorious city.

Craig Koester: In the New Jerusalem, the barriers of sin and mortality are removed, and the redeemed find themselves again in the garden. Instead of hiding from God’s face, they turn towards God’s face, for just as the privilege of being God’s people is extended to the nations, the privilege of serving as high priest is extended to all worshipers, who bear God’s name on their foreheads (Rev. 22:4). The promise that the righteous might one day see the Lord comes to its fulfillment (Ps. 11:7; Matt. 5:8; 1 John 3:2). The night of sin and death is gone; the light of God’s salvation and light has come. Faith gives way to sight, uncertainty issues into understanding (1 Cor. 13:12). The story of God’s people reaches its culmination when they “rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end” (Augustine, The City of God 22.30).

Buist Fanning: The new Jerusalem will be like an enhanced Eden where God’s people will forever experience his full provision, enjoy his presence in face-to-face fellowship, and reign with him over a renewed creation as he intended for them from the beginning (vv. 1-9).  This book’s authoritative revelation from God about the imminent return of Jesus as King and Judge should cause all people to seek his free gift of life forever in his eternal city (vv. 10-21).

Grant Osborne: The purpose of God in the first Garden of Eden in Gen. 2–3 was to provide a “garden of delight” (the meaning of “Eden”) as part of his covenant with humankind. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden not only to enjoy it but to take care of it as their service to God (Gen. 2:15). In a sense tilling the garden was an act of worship. At the same time, their whole existence was oriented to God. This is why they could partake of the tree of life but not of the tree of knowledge (Gen. 2:17). To do so was to replace dependence on God with dependence on self and one’s own knowledge. When they partook of it, they lost their place in Paradise (the term used in the LXX for Eden) and were thrust out into this world of death (cf. Rom. 5:12–21). To the Jews this Edenic paradise was then taken up to heaven to await the faithful (T. Levi 18.10–11; T. Dan 5.12–13; 2 Bar. 4.3–7). Here in Revelation it has once more come down to join the renewed earth and is now part of the eternal city. Eden has not only been restored but has been elevated and expanded for the people of God in eternity. . .

The New Jerusalem will not only be the final Holy of Holies (21:9–27) but also the final Eden (22:1–5). It will be more than a restored or regained Eden—it will be a transformed Eden. All that the original garden could have been is expanded and intensified. The river that flowed from the garden in Gen. 2:10 and from the altar in the temple in Ezek. 47:1 now flows “from the throne” and proceeds “down the center of the street” of the city. This is a superhighway to beat all superhighways ever constructed. The central theme here is life, for the river is “a river of the water of life,” and on both banks of the river is a grove of the “trees of life.” This goes beyond the “tree of life” in Gen. 2:9 and 3:22–24, for these multiple trees also have “twelve kinds of fruit” that produce life “every month,” and the leaves “heal the nations.” This pictures the healing power of eternal life and the lavish provision of God for his people. In the old order, no one could look on the face of God and live (Exod. 33:20), but now the goal of worship throughout the Bible and the church age is finally realized when the saints “see his face” (22:4). The reason for this is that “the throne of God and of the Lamb” is in their midst, and they have total access to God and the Lamb. Moreover, they in some sense share the throne (3:21; cf. 20:4) and “reign forever” with Christ. Our great privilege is not only to serve him and look on his face but also to reign with him.


A.  (:1-2a) Flowing of the River of the Water of Life

  1. (:1a)  Nature of the River

And he showed me a river of the water of life,

  1. (:1b)  Appearance of the River

clear as crystal,

Richard Phillips: He says that its water is “bright as crystal,” depicting the purity of life that God gives and the cleansing effect of the grace that we receive by faith.

  1. (:1c)  Source of the River

coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,

in the middle of its street.

Buist Fanning: the clear symbolism here is that God and the Lamb are the ever-abundant source of life and health for their people.

John Walvoord: The picture is that the river flows through the middle of the city, and the tree is large enough to span the river, so that the river is in the midst of the street, and the tree is on both sides of the river. It would appear that the river is not a broad body of water, but a clear stream sufficiently narrow to allow for this arrangement.

G.K. Beale: That the river flows down the middle of its street shows that the imparting of eternal fellowship with God is at the heart of the city’s significance. . .  The living waters impart life because they come from God’s presence, drawing His people into intimate communion with Him.

B.  (:2b) Fruit of the Tree of Life

  1. Accessible Tree of Life

And on either side of the river was the tree of life,

G.K. Beale: The allusion to Ezek. 47:12 supports a picture of trees growing on either side of the river, so that the singular “tree” of v. 2 is likely a collective reference to trees. And in any event, how could one tree grow on either side of the river? The absence of the article “the” (which would underline that a singular particular tree was being referred to) may point further to a collective meaning. The one tree of life in the first garden has become many trees of life in the escalated paradisal state of the second garden. But since these trees are all of the same kind as the original tree, they can be referred to from the perspective of their corporate unity as “the tree of life” (so Rev. 2:7), just as we might refer to a grove full of oaks as an oak grove.

  1. Abundant and Varied Fruit

bearing twelve kinds of fruit,

yielding its fruit every month;

G.R. Beasley-Murray: The fruit of the tree of life, like the mana (2:17), symbolizes life in fullest measure and delight.  The river of living water even more powerfully expresses the idea of life in inexhaustible supply.

William Barclay: The tree gives many and varied fruits. Surely in that we may see the symbolism of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–3). In the different fruit for each month of the year, may we not see symbolized that in the life which God gives there is a special grace for each age from the cradle to the grave? The tree of life is no longer forbidden; it is there in the middle of the city for all to take. Nor are its fruits confined to the Jews; its leaves are for the healing of the nations. Only in the Spirit of God can the wounds and the rifts between the nations be healed.

Richard Phillips: The fact that “twelve kinds of fruit” are yielded “each month” indicates both the variety of blessings and their perpetual availability. There is an abundant provision of spiritual life and grace to meet every imaginable need. As Adam and Eve walked “in the garden in the cool of the day,” enjoying “the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8), so will the vast multitude of God’s redeemed people live in the blessing of the grove of the divine life forever.

  1. Adorned by Healing Leaves

and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Kendell Easley: As in chapter 21, so here we find the nations present. The picture is of a vast, glorious city making a worldwide impact. Disease or sickness will not be present in heaven, so no healing will be required. The meaning is that all will enjoy full, wholesome, robust health. Just as the death of Christ made possible the water of eternal life (spiritually), so his death also provides the leaves that completely remove all the consequences of sin forever (physically). Here is the final reference to the nations in Revelation.

James Hamilton: When the redeemed enjoy the new and better Eden, old hurts will be healed. The nationalism, the racism, the acrimony, the bitterness, and the long history of warfare will be healed. The nations will be healed by the leaves of the tree of life. The redeemed of every tribe will enjoy the crystal-clear water of life, the twelve fruits of “the tree of life,” and “healing.”

Robert Mounce: The healing leaves indicate the complete absence of physical and spiritual want. The life to come will be a life of abundance and perfection.

C.  (:3a) Freedom from Sin’s Curse

And there shall no longer be any curse;

John Walvoord: In the millennium there is a lifting of the curse upon the earth, but not a total deliverance from the world’s travail brought in by sin, for in the millennium it is still possible for a “sinner” to be “accursed” (Isa. 65:20) with resulting physical death. In the new heaven and the new earth, however, there will be no curse at all and no possibility or need of such divine punishment.


A.  (:3b) We Will Serve God

  1. Centrality of God’s Throne

and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,

  1. Commitment of God’s Servants

and His bond-servants shall serve Him;

Kendell Easley: Eternity will never be boring. We cannot imagine exactly what it will mean for us to serve and worship God throughout eternity or even that he would desire such. The implication, however, is of great activity, not passive lethargy. In this life, his servants truly served him, though sometimes halfheartedly and often with incomplete obedience. In eternity this will change to perfect service. The first blessing is faultless active usefulness.

B.  (:4) We Will See God

  1. Observation

and they shall see His face,

William Barclay: The sight of God produces two things.

  • It produces the perfect worship; where God is always seen, all life becomes an act of worship.
  • It produces the perfect consecration; the inhabitants of the city will have the mark of God upon their foreheads, showing that they belong absolutely to him.
  1. Ownership

and His name shall be on their foreheads.

G.R. Beasley-Murray: As the people of God were sealed on the forehead in time of tribulation as a sign that the belonged to God (7:3), so the whole populace of the New Jerusalem are marked as belonging to God and the Lamb.

Kendell Easley: The seal or name of God on someone authenticates that person as genuine, guarantees God’s protection, and is a token of his reward to the overcomers. The third blessing is eternally guaranteed reward.

James Hamilton: God is the best thing about this new and better Eden, and John teaches that reality even in the way that he organizes what he has to say about this Edenic temple-city. He has saved the best for last. The last thing that John describes in 22:4, 5 will be the best part of being there.

G.K. Beale: The assertion that His name shall be on their foreheads intensifies the notion of intimate fellowship with God. It is beyond coincidence that God’s name was written on the high priest’s forehead in the OT (“Holy to the Lord”: Exod. 28:36-38). The high priest represented Israel and was consecrated to God so that he could enter into God’s presence in the Holy of Holies to offer propitiatory sacrifices on Israel’s behalf, in order to make the people acceptable before God and so that they would not incur His wrath. As was the case with the high priest’s jewels in Exod. 28:17-21 (see on 21:18-20), so in v. 4 the privilege of being consecrated to be acceptable in the immediate presence of God, formerly reserved only for the high priest, is now granted to all of God’s people. This expresses further the priestly nature of God’s new people.

Richard Phillips: The name of God stands for his character, which is reflected in the holiness of the glorified saints. God’s mark indicates his ownership, his covenant union, and his acceptance of all who bear his name in eternity. None who bear his name will ever be forgotten or lost.

C.  (:5a) We Will Never Lack Light

  1. No Darkness

And there shall no longer be any night;

  1. No Need of Ordinary Light Sources

and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp

nor the light of the sun,

  1. Supernatural Light Source

because the Lord God shall illumine them;

D.  (:5b) We Will Reign with God Forever

and they shall reign forever and ever.

G.R. Beasley-Murray: Here is the ultimate reach of the bliss of God’s people in the city which descends from heaven: participation in the sovereignty of God and the Lamb, not alone for the duration of the kingdom of Christ on earth but in the eternal kingdom of the new creation.  It signifies the final fulfilment of the promise in 3:21, the status of joint sovereignty with Christ in God.  That is an extension of the grace of God in Christ beyond the human mind.  As such it brings to a fitting conclusion John’s vision of the city of God and the Lamb, leaving the reader dazzled, not to say dazed, with the glory of the prospect before him.

John Walvoord: Those who are His servants have the blessed privilege of reigning forever. The eternal character of their reign is another indication that this is the eternal state. The concept that the reign of Christ must cease at the millennium, based on 1 Corinthians 15:24-25, is a misunderstanding. It is the character of His reign that changes. Christ continues for all eternity as King of kings and Lord of lords, even though the scene of His mediatorial and millennial rule over the earth is changed to the new heaven and the new earth. There is no contradiction, therefore, in calling these believers servants and at the same time recognizing them as reigning with Christ.