Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Revelation 21:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

A new heaven and a new earth - See the notes on 2 Peter 3:13; : The ancient Jews believed that God would renew the heavens and the earth at the end of seven thousand years. The general supposition they founded on Isaiah 65:17.

There was no more sea - The sea no more appeared than did the first heaven and earth. All was made new; and probably the new sea occupied a different position and was differently distributed, from that of the old sea.

However, with respect to these subjects as they stand in this most figurative book, I must express myself in the words of Calmet: Vouloir dire quels seront ce nouveau ciel, et cette nouvelle terre, quels seront leurs ornamens et leur qualite, c'est a mon avis la plus grande de toutes les presomptions. En general, ces manieres de parler marquent de tres grands changemens dans l'univers. "To pretend to say what is meant by this new heaven and new earth, and what are their ornaments and qualities, is in my opinion the greatest of all presumptions. In general these figures of speech point out great alternations in the universe."

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth - Such a heaven and earth that they might properly be called new; such transformations, and such changes in their appearance, that they seemed to be just created. He does not say that they were created now, or anew; that the old heavens and earth were annihilated; but all that he says is, that there were such changes that they seemed to be new. If the earth is to be renovated by fire, such a renovation will give an appearance to the globe as if it were created anew, and might be attended with such an apparent change in the heavens that they might be said to be new. The description here Revelation 21:1 relates to scenes after the general resurrection and the judgment - for those events are detailed in the close of the previous chapter. In regard to the meaning of the language here, see the notes on 2 Peter 3:13. Compare, also, “The Religion of Geology and its Connected Sciences,” by Edward Hitchcock, D. D., LL. D., pp. 370-408.

For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away - They had passed away by being changed, and a renovated universe had taken their place. See the notes on 2 Peter 3:10.

And there was no more sea - This change struck John more forcibly, it would appear, than anything else. Now, the seas and oceans occupy about three-fourths of the surface of the globe, and, of course, to that extent prevent the world from being occupied by people - except by the comparatively small number that are mariners. There, the idea of John seems to be, the whole world will be inhabitable, and no part will be given up to the wastes of oceans. In the present state of things, these vast oceans are necessary to render the world a fit abode for human beings, as well as to give life and happiness to the numberless tribes of animals that find their homes in the waters. In the future state, it would seem, the present arrangement will be unnecessary; and if man dwells upon the earth at all, or if he visits it as a temporary abode (see the notes on 2 Peter 3:13), these vast wastes of water will be needless. It should be remembered that the earth, in its changes, according to the teachings of geology, has undergone many revolutions quite as remarkable as it would be if all the lakes, and seas, and oceans of the earth should disappear. Still, it is not certain that it was intended that this language should be understood literally as applied to the material globe. The object is to describe the future blessedness of the righteous; and the idea is, that that will be a world where there will be no such wastes as those produced by oceans.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 702

Verse 1

New Heaven and New Earth. — By the first heaven and first earth, John unquestionably means the present heaven and earth, “the heavens and the earth which are now.” 2 Peter 3:7. Some have supposed that when the Bible speaks of the third heaven, in which are paradise and the tree of life (2 Corinthians 12:2; Revelation 2:7), it refers to the heaven which is yet future, and does not prove that there is a paradise and tree of life literally in existence in heaven at the present time. They base their view on the fact that Peter speaks of three heavens and earths, — (1) those before the flood, (2) the ones which now are, and (3) the ones which are to come. But that theory is completely overturned by the first verse of Revelation 21; for John here reckons but two heavens and earths. The ones which now are he calls the first, so that the future new heavens would, according to this count, be the second, and not the third, as Peter reckons. Hence it is certain that Peter did not design to establish a numerical order, in accordance with which we should speak of the one as the first, the other as the second, and the last as the third. The object of his reasoning was simply to show that as a literal heaven and earth succeeded to the destruction of the earth by the flood, so a literal heaven and earth would result from the renovation of the present system by fire. There is no proof, therefore, that the Bible, when it speaks of the third heaven, refers simply to the third state of the present heavens and earth, for then all the Bible writers would uniformly have so reckoned it. Thus the arguments of those who would endeavor to disprove the idea of a literal paradise and tree of life in existence at the present time, fall to the ground. The Bible certainly recognizes three heavens in the present constitution of things; namely, the first, or atmospheric heaven, which the fowls of the air inhabit; the second, the planetary heaven, the region of the sun, moon, and stars; and the third, high above the others, where paradise and the tree of life are found (Revelation 2:7); where God has his residence and his throne (Revelation 22:1, 2); to which Paul was caught up in heavenly vision (2 Corinthians 12:2); to which Christ ascended when he left the earth (Revelation 12:5); where he now, as priest-king, sits upon the throne with his Father (Zechariah 6:13); and where the glorious city stands, awaiting the saints when they enter into life. Revelation 21:2. Blessed be God that from that bright land intelligence has been brought to this far-off world of ours! and thanks be to his holy name that a way has been opened from the dark places of earth, which leads like a straight and shining path of light up to those blest abodes!DAR 702.3

The Sea No More. — Because John says, “And there was no more sea,” the question is sometimes asked, “Is there, then, to be no sea in the new earth?” It does not certainly follow from this text that there will be none; for John is speaking only of the present heaven and earth and sea. It might be translated thus: “For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and the sea [??? ????? ???] was no more;” that is, the old sea no longer appeared, any more than the old heaven and old earth; and yet there may be a new sea as there is a new earth.DAR 703.1

Dr. Clarke says on this passage: “The sea no more appeared than did the first heaven and earth. All was made new; and probably the new sea occupied a different position, and was differently distributed, from that of the old sea.”DAR 703.2

The river of life, of which we read in the following chapter, proceeding from the throne of God, and flowing through the broad street of the city, must find some place into which to discharge its waters; and what can that be but the new-earth sea? That there will be a sea, or seas, in the new earth, may be inferred from the prophecy which speaks of Christ's future reign as follows: “And his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” Zechariah 9:10. Rut that three quarters of the globe will then, as now, be abandoned to a waste of waters, cannot be expected. The new world will have everything which will contribute to its utility and beauty.DAR 704.1

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The new heaven and the new earth will not be separate from each other; the earth of the saints, their glorified, bodies, will be heavenly. The old world, with all its troubles and tumults, will have passed away. There will be no sea; this aptly represents freedom from conflicting passions, temptations, troubles, changes, and alarms; from whatever can divide or interrupt the communion of saints. This new Jerusalem is the church of God in its new and perfect state, the church triumphant. Its blessedness came wholly from God, and depends on him. The presence of God with his people in heaven, will not be interrupt as it is on earth, he will dwell with them continually. All effects of former trouble shall be done away. They have often been in tears, by reason of sin, of affliction, of the calamities of the church; but no signs, no remembrance of former sorrows shall remain. Christ makes all things new. If we are willing and desirous that the gracious Redeemer should make all things new in order hearts and nature, he will make all things new in respect of our situation, till he has brought us to enjoy complete happiness. See the certainty of the promise. God gives his titles, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, as a pledge for the full performance. Sensual and sinful pleasures are muddy and poisoned waters; and the best earthly comforts are like the scanty supplies of a cistern; when idolized, they become broken cisterns, and yield only vexation. But the joys which Christ imparts are like waters springing from a fountain, pure, refreshing, abundant, and eternal. The sanctifying consolations of the Holy Spirit prepare for heavenly happiness; they are streams which flow for us in the wilderness. The fearful durst not meet the difficulties of religion, their slavish fear came from their unbelief; but those who were so dastardly as not to dare to take up the cross of Christ, were yet so desperate as to run into abominable wickedness. The agonies and terrors of the first death will lead to the far greater terrors and agonies of eternal death.
Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 54

Then the wicked saw what they had lost; and fire was breathed from God upon them and consumed them. This was the execution of the judgment. The wicked then received according as the saints, in unison with Jesus, had meted out to them during the one thousand years. The same fire from God that consumed the wicked purified the whole earth. The broken, ragged mountains melted with fervent heat, the atmosphere also, and all the stubble was consumed. Then our inheritance opened before us, glorious and beautiful, and we inherited the whole earth made new. We all shouted with a loud voice, “Glory; Alleluia!” EW 54.1

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Ellen G. White
The Faith I Live By, 360.1

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. Revelation 21:1. FLB 360.1

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 674

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” Revelation 21:1. The fire that consumes the wicked purifies the earth. Every trace of the curse is swept away. No eternally burning hell will keep before the ransomed the fearful consequences of sin. GC 674.1

One reminder alone remains: Our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His crucifixion. Upon His wounded head, upon His side, His hands and feet, are the only traces of the cruel work that sin has wrought. Says the prophet, beholding Christ in His glory: “He had bright beams coming out of His side: and there was the hiding of His power.” Habakkuk 3:4, margin. That pierced side whence flowed the crimson stream that reconciled man to God—there is the Saviour's glory, there “the hiding of His power.” “Mighty to save,” through the sacrifice of redemption, He was therefore strong to execute justice upon them that despised God's mercy. And the tokens of His humiliation are His highest honor; through the eternal ages the wounds of Calvary will show forth His praise and declare His power. GC 674.2

“O Tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto Thee shall it come, even the first dominion.” Micah 4:8. The time has come to which holy men have looked with longing since the flaming sword barred the first pair from Eden, the time for “the redemption of the purchased possession.” Ephesians 1:14. The earth originally given to man as his kingdom, betrayed by him into the hands of Satan, and so long held by the mighty foe, has been brought back by the great plan of redemption. All that was lost by sin has been restored. “Thus saith the Lord ... that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.” Isaiah 45:18. God's original purpose in the creation of the earth is fulfilled as it is made the eternal abode of the redeemed. “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.” Psalm 37:29. GC 674.3

A fear of making the future inheritance seem too material has led many to spiritualize away the very truths which lead us to look upon it as our home. Christ assured His disciples that He went to prepare mansions for them in the Father's house. Those who accept the teachings of God's word will not be wholly ignorant concerning the heavenly abode. And yet, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. Human language is inadequate to describe the reward of the righteous. It will be known only to those who behold it. No finite mind can comprehend the glory of the Paradise of God. GC 674.4

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