Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002. Location: Ellis BS 2825.53.O73 2002
“V. New Heaven and New Earth (21:1-22:5)” pp. 726-776.
“B. New Jerusalem as the Holy of Holies (21:9-27)” pp. 745-767
Osborne finds in Revelation 21:9-27 not only a conclusion of the idea of God’s presence in a holy city, magnificent in every detail, but also yet another call to the reader to desire God’s presence in that eternal place (Osborne 2002, 745). In 21:9-10 John is transported to see the vision. Osborne considers the wording to refer deliberately to the angels with the bowls, as the angel who shows this to John is one from chapter 16. We therefore return in thought to 17:1 where God said “it is over” (Osborne 2002, 747). The bride we are shown is “the wife of the Lamb.” Osborne sees this as a forceful statement that the Church is the fulfillment of Old Testament passages describing Israel as the wife of God (Osborne 2002, 748). John is immediately taken to a high mountain, an appropriate vantage point not only for physical sight, but often in Scripture for spiritual insight.
Revelation 21:11-21 describes the appearance of the city in detail. Osborne finds the first characteristic as most important to the city’s beauty, as it is filled with God’s glory (Osborne 2002, 749). The jewelled appearance shines, radiating God’s light and beauty. There is a great and high wall with twelve gates. Osborne observes these suggest the idea of safety, but that the gates never need to be closed as there are no enemies (Osborne 2002, 750). The twelve gates are reminiscent of the description in Ezekiel 48, but here all who are part of God’s kingdom can enter, they are not particular to different tribes of Israel. Osborne notes that the twelve foundations have the names of the apostles. It is unclear which twelve apostles, as Osborne notes Barnabas and Paul might be included (Osborne 2002, 751). He makes no mention of Matthias, but does recall that the Bible refers to “the twelve” at times when not all are accounted for, such as John 20:24 and 1 Corinthians 15:5. The city is measured by an angel in 21:15-17. Here, as elsewhere, a measurement indicates God’s claim of ownership (Osborne 2002, 752). The city, as measured, is approximately 1,500 miles across, and is a perfect cube (Osborne 2002, 753). In comparison, the wall is very small, but adds to the beauty of the city. The city’s building materials likewise are signs of God’s splendor (Osborne 2002, 755). The use of “pure gold like clear glass” is mystifying. Apparently it is not quite like the gold we know of. The twelve jewels used in the foundations have provoked a good deal of debate. Osborne reviews numerous arguments which try to draw parallels with the priestly breastplate from Exodus 28 and 39, as well as with associations to the signs of the zodiac (Osborne 2002, 756-757), but concludes that the idea of jewels used to show splendor is the more likely intent (Osborne 2002, 758).
Revelation 21:22-27 turns from describing the appearance of the city to the conditions in the city. The description is made in negative terms, telling what will not be present, rather than what will be there (Osborne 2002, 759). There will be no temple, because God will be present. Osborne gives numerous references to biblical passages which indicate that no temple is needed in the presence of God (Osborne 2002, 760). There will be no sun or moon in verses 23-24. God’s glory gives the city light. There is no darkness (Osborne 2002, 761). The symbolism of light also indicates that all nations can see their way to the holy city clearly. They also come, bringing the spoils of victory to the presence of the victorious God (Osborne 2002, 763). In verses 25-26 there is no need to close the gates because it is always day. Again, Osborne finds this as a depiction of the nations streaming into the city (Osborne 2002, 764). Finally, in verse 27, nothing sinful is in the city. All impurity has been excluded. Osborne is clear that the sins of God’s people have been wiped away. They are not engaged in sinful practices so they are able to enter the city. Their names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Osborne 2002, 765).