Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Revelation 21:21

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And the twelve gates - Revelation 21:12.

Were twelve pearls - See the Revelation 17:4 note; Matthew 13:46 note.

Every several gate was of one pearl - Each gate. Of course, this is not to be understood literally. The idea is that of ornament and beauty, and nothing could give a more striking view of the magnificence of the future abode of the saints.

And the street of the city was pure gold - Was paved with gold; that is, all the vacant space that was not occupied with buildings was of pure gold. See the notes on Revelation 21:18.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 713

Verse 21

The Gates of Pearl. — Whether we understand that these gates were of solid pearl, or whether composed of pearls thickly set in a framework of some other precious material, does not materially affect the testimony. If it should be objected that it would be contrary to the nature of things to have a pearl large enough for a gate, we reply that God is able to produce it; the objection simply limits the power of God. But in either case the gates would outwardly have the appearance of pearl, and in ordinary language would be described as gates of pearl.DAR 713.7

The Streets of Burnished Gold. — In this verse, as also in verse 18, the city is spoken of as built of gold, pure, like unto clear glass, or, as it were, transparent glass. It is not necessary to conclude from this language that the gold is of itself transparent. Take that, for instance, which composes the street. If it were really transparent, it would simply permit us to look through and behold whatever was beneath the city, — the substratum upon which it rested, — a view which cannot be anticipated as specially pleasing. But let us suppose the golden pavement of the street to be so highly polished as to possess perfect powers of reflection, like the truest mirror, and we can see at once that the effect would be grand and striking in the extreme. Think for a moment what the appearance of a street so paved would be. The gorgeous palaces on either side would be reflected beneath, and the boundless expanse of the heavens above would also appear below; so that to the person walking those golden streets it would appear that both himself and the city were suspended between the infinite hights above and the unfathomable depths below, while the mansions on either side of the street, having equal powers of reflection, would marvelously multiply both palaces and people, and conspire to render the whole scene novel, pleasing, beautiful, and grand beyond conception.DAR 713.8

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God has various employments for his holy angels. Sometimes they sound the trumpet of Divine Providence, and warn a careless world; sometimes they discover things of a heavenly nature of the heirs of salvation. Those who would have clear views of heaven, must get as near to heaven as they can, on the mount of meditation and faith. The subject of the vision is the church of God in a perfect, triumphant state, shining in its lustre; glorious in relation to Christ; which shows that the happiness of heaven consists in intercourse with God, and in conformity to him. The change of emblems from a bride to a city, shows that we are only to take general ideas from this description. The wall is for security. Heaven is a safe state; those who are there, are separated and secured from all evils and enemies. This city is vast; here is room for all the people of God. The foundation of the wall; the promise and power of God, and the purchase of Christ, are the strong foundations of the safety and happiness of the church. These foundations are set forth by twelve sorts of precious stones, denoting the variety and excellence of the doctrines of the gospel, or of the graces of the Holy Spirit, or the personal excellences of the Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven has gates; there is a free admission to all that are sanctified; they shall not find themselves shut out. These gates were all of pearls. Christ is the Pearl of great price, and he is our Way to God. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. The saints in heaven tread gold under foot. The saints are there at rest, yet it is not a state of sleep and idleness; they have communion, not only with God, but with one another. All these glories but faintly represent heaven.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The twelve gates were twelve pearls - This must be merely figurative, for it is out of all the order of nature to produce a pearl large enough to make a gate to such an immense city. But St. John may refer to some relations of this nature among his countrymen, who talk much of most prodigious pearls. I shall give an example: "When Rabbi Juchanan (John) once taught that God would provide jewels and pearls, thirty cubits every way, ten of which should exceed in height twenty cubits, and would place them in the gates of Jerusalem, according to what is said Isaiah 54:12, I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, one of his disciples ridiculed him, saying, Where can such be found, since at present there is none so large as a pigeon's egg? Afterwards, being at sea in a ship, he saw the ministering angels cutting gems and pearls; and he asked them for what purpose they were preparing those. They answered, to place them in the gates of Jerusalem. On his return he found Rabbi Juchanan teaching as usual; to whom he said, Explain, master, what I have seen. He answered, Thou knave, unless thou hadst seen, thou wouldst not have believed; wilt thou not receive the saying of the wise men? At that moment he fixed his eyes upon him, and he was reduced into a heap of bones." - Bava bathra, fol. 77, 1, and Sanhedrim, fol. 100, 1, page 393. Edit. Cocceii. See Schoettgen.

Ellen G. White
Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 67

Here we saw the tree of life and the throne of God. Out of the throne came a pure river of water, and on either side of the river was the tree of life. On one side of the river was a trunk of a tree, and a trunk on the other side of the river, both of pure, transparent gold. At first I thought I saw two trees. I looked again, and saw that they were united at the top in one tree. So it was the tree of life on either side of the river of life. Its branches bowed to the place where we stood, and the fruit was glorious; it looked like gold mixed with silver. LS 67.1

We all went under the tree, and sat down to look at the glory of the place, when Brethren Fitch and Stockman, who had preached the gospel of the kingdom, and whom God had laid in the grave to save them, came up to us and asked us what we had passed through while they were sleeping. We tried to call up our greatest trials, but they looked so small compared with the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory that surrounded us, that we could not speak them out, and we all cried out, “Alleluia! heaven is cheap enough!” and we touched our glorious harps and made heaven's arches ring. LS 67.2

After I came out of vision, everything seemed changed; a gloom was spread over all that I beheld. Oh, how dark this world looked to me! I wept when I found myself here, and felt homesick. I had seen a better world, and it had spoiled this for me. LS 67.3

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Ellen G. White
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 63

The Lord has precious promises in this life for those who keep His law. He says, “My son, forget not My law; but let thine heart keep My commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4. CT 63.1

But a better than earthly reward awaits those who, basing their work on the solid Rock, build up symmetrical characters, in accordance with the living word. For them is prepared “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:10. Its streets are paved with gold. In it is the Paradise of God, watered by the river of life, which proceeds from the throne. In the midst of the street, and on either side of the river, is the tree of life, which yields its fruit every month; “and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” CT 63.2

Parents, teachers, students, remember that you are building for eternity. See that your foundation is sure; then build firmly, and with persistent effort, but in gentleness, meekness, love. So shall your house stand unshaken, not only when the storms of temptation come, but when the overwhelming flood of God's wrath shall sweep over the world.—Special Testimonies On Education, 72-77. CT 63.3

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 646

Before the ransomed throng is the Holy City. Jesus opens wide the pearly gates, and the nations that have kept the truth enter in. There they behold the Paradise of God, the home of Adam in his innocency. Then that voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, is heard, saying: “Your conflict is ended.” “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” GC 646.1

Now is fulfilled the Saviour's prayer for His disciples: “I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” “Faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24), Christ presents to the Father the purchase of His blood, declaring: “Here am I, and the children whom Thou hast given Me.” “Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept.” Oh, the wonders of redeeming love! the rapture of that hour when the infinite Father, looking upon the ransomed, shall behold His image, sin's discord banished, its blight removed, and the human once more in harmony with the divine! GC 646.2

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Ellen G. White
Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 113

Brother Bates was holding the money for our fare in his hand, saying to the captain of the boat, “Here, take your pay.” As he saw the boat moving off, he sprang to get aboard, but his foot struck the edge of the boat, and he fell back into the water. He then began swimming to the boat, with his pocketbook in one hand, and a dollar bill in the other. His hat fell off, and in saving it he lost the bill, but held fast to his pocketbook. The packet halted for him to get aboard. His clothes were wet with the dirty water of the canal, and as we were near Centerport, we decided to call at the home of Brother Harris, that Brother Bates might put his clothes in order. LS 113.1

Our visit proved a benefit to this family. For years Sister Harris had suffered from catarrh. She had used snuff for the relief of this affliction, and said that she could not live without it. She suffered much pain in her head. We recommended her to go to the Lord, the great Physician, who would heal her affliction. She decided to do so, and we had a season of prayer for her. She discontinued the use of snuff entirely. Her difficulties were greatly relieved, and from that time her health was better than it had been for years. LS 113.2

While at Brother Harris's I had an interview with a sister who wore gold, and yet professed to be looking for Christ's coming. We spoke of the express declarations of Scripture against the wearing of gold. But she referred to where Solomon was commanded to beautify the temple, and to the statement that the streets of the city of God were pure gold. She said that if we could improve our appearance by wearing gold, so as to have influence in the world, it was right. I replied that we were poor fallen mortals, and instead of decorating these bodies because Solomon's temple was gloriously adorned, we should remember our fallen condition, and that it cost the suffering and death of the Son of God to redeem us. This thought should cause in us self-abasement. Jesus is our pattern. If He would lay aside His humiliation and sufferings, and cry, “If any man will come after Me, let him please himself, and enjoy the world, and he shall be My disciple,” the multitude would believe and follow Him. But Jesus will come to us in no other character than that of the meek, crucified One. If we would be with Him in Heaven, we must be like Him on earth. The world will claim its own; and whoever will overcome, must leave what belongs to it. LS 113.3

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