Revelation 21: Download the free study

Our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Revelation is nearly complete. For several years now, we’ve been focusing on four major views of the so-called Apocalypse of John.

You may read the commentary to date either by clicking on End Times or Revelation in the drop-down menu (Topics) to the right.

Whether you’re a preterist, who sees the events of Revelation as fulfilled in the first centuries of the Christian era; a historicist, who views the events of Revelation as unfolding throughout the course of history; a futurist, who sees most of Revelation as yet unfulfilled; or an idealist, who sees Revelation setting forth timeless truths concerning the battle between good and evil, there are important truths the Lord reveals to all of us in this book.

We would do well to approach Revelation with caution — and with great anticipation, knowing God will fulfill all His promises to us. We also should be comforted by the fact that Revelation is the only book in Scripture specifically promising a blessing to those who hear its prophecies and keep them.

Download the commentary on Revelation 21

Jude: A slave of Jesus Christ

last-apologist-thumbThis is the first in a series of excerpts from “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available in print and Kindle editions here.


My business card is standard fare. It identifies me and describes my role at the MBC. It also tells how to get in touch with me. That’s what most business cards do: serve as practical, brief, and efficient introductions.

Some people, however, use business cards more creatively. Take Guangbiao Chen, for example, a Chinese tycoon and philanthropist. His business card details illustrious titles and heroic accomplishments:

  • Most Influential Person of China
  • Most Prominent Philanthropist of China
  • China Earthquake Rescue Hero
  • Most Well-Loved and Beloved Chinese Role Model

We’re only halfway through Chen’s list, but you get the idea. This may be one of the cheekiest business cards ever produced.

But how would you respond if someone handed you a business card that simply read, “Jude, a slave”? That’s how the author of the Epistle of Jude opens his letter. With profound humility, he models the manner in which followers of Jesus should defend the Christian faith.
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I did not see a sanctuary – Revelation 21:22

Way to new world.Previously: Every kind of precious stone – Revelation 21:18-21

The scripture

Rev. 21:22 – I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary. (HCSB)

I did not see a sanctuary

John notes in verse 22 that he does not see a sanctuary in the heavenly city “because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary.” Historical Jerusalem is known as the city of God because His presence resides there in the temple (1 Kings 8:10-13).

The people of God approach Him indirectly through a mediator, a high priest who offers atoning sacrifices for the sins of the people in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. The atoning blood is carried through a thick veil and sprinkled on the mercy seat, above which the Shekinah glory resides. There, the wrath of God is satisfied and His grace and mercy are extended to His sinful creatures. Other sacrifices, offerings, and forms of worship take place on the temple grounds outside the inner sanctuary.

All that takes place in the sacrificial system has a forward-looking importance. The day is coming when God Himself provides a sacrifice – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. When Jesus dies on the cross, the veil of the temple is torn in two, from top to bottom, signifying that Jesus has fulfilled the types and shadows of the Old Covenant and through His shed blood has provided direct access to the Father without the need for a human mediator.

Now, in verse 22, we see the promised intimacy fulfilled as the redeemed enjoy face-to-face fellowship with the Father and the Lamb.

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Passing the point of no return

Red light on the automatic barrierDoes God draw a line in the sand when it comes to sin? That is, can unbelievers rebel against God so grievously, and reject His grace so persistently, that ultimately they pass a point beyond which they can never be saved?

It appears the answer is yes. Consider the following passages of Scripture.

Gen. 15:16 – “for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” The Lord tells Abraham that his descendants are to be enslaved and oppressed for 400 years (in Egypt), after which God delivers them from bondage and brings them into the Promised Land.

Why the delay in fulfilling His promise to Abraham? Because the Amorites’ measure of sin is not yet full. The Amorites are engaged in degrading sin. God has determined to destroy them and to give their land to His chosen people.

In a similar manner, Noah proclaims judgment upon the wicked for 120 years, but God determines the day in which He closes the door of the ark and opens the floodgates of heaven.
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Every kind of precious stone – Revelation 21:18-21

Multicolored Diamonds BackgroundPreviously: The number 12 – Revelation 21:12-14

The scripture

Rev. 21:18 – The building material of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone: the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 The 12 gates are 12 pearls; each individual gate was made of a single pearl. The broad street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. (HCSB)

Every kind of precious stone

John notes in verse 18 that the wall is made of jasper, and the city is pure gold like clear glass. This amplifies the information already given to us in verse 11, where the city is radiant “like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.” The city itself – the bride, the people of God – is so thoroughly purified as to become transparent. This is an image used in other scriptures to describe the refined character of God’s sanctified people:

Job 23:10 – “Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.”

Zech. 13:9 – “I will put this third through the fire; I will refine them as silver is refined and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say: They are My people, and they will say: Yahweh is our God.”

Mal. 3:3 – “He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.”

1 Peter 1:7 – “So that the genuineness of your faith – more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Rev. 3:18 – “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see.”

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