The Heirs & The Disinherited

THE HEIRSTo him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:6b-7)

Overcomers – The heirs of new earth are the overcomers of the old earth. This includes all those addressed at the end of each of the seven letters to the churches (Revelation Chapters 2 and 3) as well as the martyrs who overcome through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11).(1) As John pointed out in his first epistle, all true believers are overcomers (1 John 5:4–5). So, this promise is not just for the spiritually elite. Because we are the children of God, we shall inherit all things.(2)

Water of Life – People living in most developed countries do not think much about water. But it was a major concern in John’s day. No doubt John himself, working in the Roman mines, knew the meaning of thirst. Tortured saints throughout the ages would certainly identify with this wonderful promise from the Lord – free and abundant living water for all.(3) As is quite evident, this refers not to physical thirst but to a desire for spiritual blessings,(4) a thirst that will be quenched.

He Will Be My Son – This is the only place in John’s writings where son is used to refer to the relationship of man to God.(5) This expresses the intimate relationship between the saints and God in the eternal state.(6) An intimacy not known since the fall.

THE DISINHERITED“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

The Overcome –In contrast to those who were overcomers (heirs of the Kingdom), Revelation 21:8 describes the people who were overcome by sin and would not trust the Lord (the disinherited). The worldly consider Christians to be losers, when in reality it is the unbelievers who are the losers.(7)

How They Are Described – Eight epithets (not an exhaustive list) are used to describe the doomed and the damned: the fearful (cowardly); the unbelieving (faithless, untrustworthy); the vile (abominable, polluted); murderers; fornicators; sorcerers (those who practice magic arts, closely connected with idolatry and magic) and; idolaters.(8) This passage is not affirming salvation by works. Rather it refers to works as an indication of whether one is saved or not. Naturally there will be many in Heaven who were once guilty of these sins (as Paul said, as some of you were) before they were converted, but who turned from them when they trusted Christ as their Savior. Though works are the evidence of salvation (good works) or lack of it (evil works), they are not the basis or ground of it. Similar lists of sins are found elsewhere in Revelation (Revelation 21:27; 22:15).(9)

The fearful are the cowardly, people who did not have the courage to stand up for Christ (see Matthew 10:32–33). The word abominable means polluted, and refers to those who indulged in sin and were thus polluted in mind, spirit, and body (2 Corinthians 7:1). The other characteristics mentioned in Revelation 21:8 need no special explanation, except to note that all of them would be true of the beast’s followers (note Revelation 17:4, 6; 18:3, 9; 19:2).(10) Note also that God puts cowards at the head of the list. When people are afraid to take a stand for Christ, they are liable to commit any kind of sin as a result. They are the fearful, or the cowards who would not confess Christ, preferring and choosing to go along with the crowd who practiced sin.(11)

Eternal Thirst – They will be with Satan and the two beasts (the anti-Christ and the false prophet) in the lake of fire and brimstone for all eternity. This is the second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14). These are those whose names are not written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15).

Up Next – The Holy City.

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References

  1. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (pp. 1914–1916). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 564). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  6. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 21:8). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  9. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 985). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 856). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

All Things Made New

ALL THINGS MADE NEWHe will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4-5a)

Behold, I make all things new” is the first time since Revelation 1:8 that God is specifically referenced as speaking directly (who else would be sitting on His throne?), though voices have come from the throne (Revelation 21:3) and out of the sanctuary (Revelation 16:1, 17). While these too may be from God himself, they seem more likely to be coming from one of the angels in His Presence. The message here is not addressed to John (contrast Revelation 7:14; 17:7; 21:6; 22:6), but to the entire world of the blessed.(1)

The vision is so wonderful that the best way John found to describe it was by describing what it was not (i.e. “no more”). Ever since John first recorded this revelation, believers have rejoiced to know that, in Heaven, there will be no more pain, tears, sorrow, or death. This blessed hope of Heaven has encouraged God’s people in times of suffering.(2)

Little else is said here in Revelation about the future of mankind, aside from the implication that kings and nations still exist. Humans are still human (albeit with glorified bodies), not angels, and none who enjoy this new and endless existence are tainted by sin. To see more of what the future holds for us, we must look at other New Testament passages.

We Shall Be Like Him – We find that when we stand in God’s presence, we will be transformed into Jesus’ likeness. “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Paul said that God has predestined us “to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

Raised Imperishable – Paul told the Corinthians that the believer’s resurrection body will be imperishable in contrast to our present perishable body. It will be marked by power rather than weakness. It will be controlled by the spiritual, rather than subject to the physical. The dead “will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52, see also verses 35–54). When the mortal becomes immortal, then death itself will be swallowed up in our great victory. In these words of Scripture, we see a glorious promise. But the scene is so far removed from our present situation that it is difficult to fully comprehend. We can perhaps see a bit more in the Gospel’s description of Christ after His resurrection. He could eat with His disciples. He had flesh and bones (Luke 24; John 21). Yet He also could “appear” among them in a locked room (John 20:19). He was recognizable, the same individual, yet at the same time different. These post-resurrection capacities of Jesus will likely be ours as well in resurrection.

Free from Our Sin Nature – The greatest wonder of all is that we shall be like Him, freed from every stain of sin. To be perfected and yet retain our individual self—this is our glorious destiny. “He who overcomes,” God promises, “will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (Revelation 21:7).(3)

Up Next – It is Done.

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References

  1. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 21:5). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (pp. 1088–1089). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

The New Jerusalem

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BEHOLD I MAKE ALL THINGS NEWThen I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2)

The New Jerusalem –The New Jerusalem, “coming down out of Heaven from God,” is viewed by some as being separate and distinct from the earthly Jerusalem in which Israel in the flesh shall dwell during the Millennium, since it follows the creation of the new heaven and earth. When writing about the old Jerusalem, John uses a Greek term that is used in a political sense. John uses a different Hebrew term, that is used in a holy sense, when he refers to the heavenly city. Paul makes a similar distinction (common versus holy) when refuting Judaism (Galatians 4:26; Galatians 1:17, 18; 2:1; see also Hebrews 12:22). This Jerusalem from above is also referenced in Revelation 3:12 and Hebrews 11:10; 12:22; 13:14.(1)

Like any city, the old Jerusalem meant both the place and the people who lived there. In the same way, the New Jerusalem is a bride because its residents (people) are a bride (Revelation 19:7). Greco-Roman references to cities often described them as people. Jewish people were familiar with Old Testament personifications of Jerusalem and the Old Testament depiction of God’s people as his bride,(2) just as New Testament Saints are familiar with the references to the Church as the bride of Christ. Abraham “looked for a city … whose builder was God” (Hebrews 11:10). The New Jerusalem is that city.(3)

The fact that the New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven (it is not created) raises the question by some as to whether it will be in existence during the Millennium. The suggestion has been made that if the New Jerusalem is in existence during the Millennial reign of Christ, it may have been suspended in the heavens as a dwelling place for resurrected and translated saints, who nevertheless would have immediate access to the earth to carry on their functions of ruling with Christ. In the Millennium, it is unlikely that the New Jerusalem would rest on the earth, for there is an earthly Jerusalem and an earthly temple (Ezekiel 40–48). If such is the case, then the New Jerusalem would apparently be withdrawn from its proximity to the earth when the earth is destroyed at the end of the Millennium, and then return after the creation of the new earth. Though this possibility of a satellite city has been disregarded by most commentators, it would solve some questions surrounding the relationship between the resurrected and translated saints to those still in their natural bodies in the Millennium. Otherwise, these questions are left without an explanation.

Up Next – God dwells with man.(4)

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References

  1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 601). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  2. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 21:2). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 856). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 984). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

A New Heaven

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BEHOLD I MAKE ALL THINGS NEWThen I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2, NIV 1984)

The New Heaven – In ancient cosmology, there were believed to be seven levels of Heaven: the sky, the clouds, the sky above the clouds, the firmament (domed expanse separating celestial waters from terrestrial waters), and the celestial waters above the firmament, the heavens (the universe), and the heaven of heavens, where God dwells.(1) These have elsewhere been digested down to three: Continue reading “A New Heaven”

A.D. – After Death

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Destination of Departed Souls – And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3)

A variety of terms were used in the foregoing discussion which speaks of the afterlife and the destination of departed souls. Many terms are used interchangeably, yet they are not necessarily referring to the same thing. Following is a discussion of the main terms. Continue reading “A.D. – After Death”