Revelation 21 : 10 - 14, 22 - 23 ( NRSV )

In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven.(10) It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel or crystal-clear diamond.(11) The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel;(12) on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates and on the west three gates.(13) The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones,1 each one of which bore the name of the one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.(14) . . ,
I saw that there was no temple in the city since God and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.(23)

Comment

     The first generation of Christian disciples lived in expectation of the Parousia or return of Jesus and the ending of the old world. The destruction of holy Jerusalem and the temple (AD.70) confirmed for them the imminent ending of the old world. The Seer in the Book of Revelation uses imagery derived from the old prophetic tradition, to speak of the new world in terms of the restoration of the holy City.
     The new reality is not only the completion of the restoration in terms of the prophetic tradition (Ezk.chs.40-48) but something greater and deeper! The description of the beauty and splendour of the new Jerusalem repeats point-by-point the promises of "the conqueror" found in the letters to the churches earlier (Rv.chs.2-3). The promises referred to the whole of the history of salvation that extends back to the origins of humanity. The Seer's vision of the new Jerusalem represents the holy city is the symbol of the reconciliation established between humanity and God. It is a sign of the eternal and definitive covenant of the new people of God. For the Seer, the new it is the continuation of the old Hebrew community (cf Rv.1:20). On the other hand it is a new community, that draws into itself and saves all people (Rv.21:22-26).
     In the prophet Ezekiel, the main emphasis had been on the restoration of the holy city's temple. For the author of Revelation, Jesus Christ is the new Temple - the perfect place of God's dwelling. Since Christ is present throughout the new community and not restricted to any particular part of it, it makes no sense to speak of a temple within the new Jerusalem. The temple is co-extensive with the new restored community which is the new Jerusalem in which the "glory of God" and the "Lamp which is the Lamb" supply light! This is the author's vision of the community arrived at in the fullness of Christ!
     The centre of this vision is the completion of the divine plan of salvation - in the coming of Jesus. With the coming of Christ the situation of humanity in its relationship with God is radically changed. Before Christ's coming the relationship is broken. Humankind does not have access to God's power-for-life. After Christ's coming the relationship has been re-established and humankind can participate in the new life! "God-with-them" characterises the new situation of the new people of God. The reigning of God is present in the community of Jesus' disciples who have a task of not obscuring or distorting God's reigning; but rather of making it more visible through their practice.
 
footnotes:
Revelation 21:1-22:5 A description of God's eternal kingdom in heaven under the symbols of a new heaven and a new earth; cf Is.65:17-25; 66:22; Mt.19:28.
1. [ v.14 ] Stood on twelve foundation stones . . . apostles: Literally, "twelve foundations;" cf Ep.2:19-20.
2. [ v.22 ] Christ is present throughout the church; hence, no temple is needed as an earthly dwelling for God; cf Mt.18:20; 28:20; Jn.4:21.
3. [ v.23 ] Lamb . . . torch: cf Jn.8:12.


 

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