Revelation 21:18

Saturday, 21 August 2021

The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. Revelation 21:18

John continues describing New Jerusalem, saying, “The construction of its wall.” The word translated as “construction” is found only here in Scripture, endomésis. It refers to the material itself. One might say, “It is constructed of wood,” or “It is constructed of concrete.” In the case of the wall of New Jerusalem, it is constructed “of jasper.”

This is the same material noted in verse 11. As noted then, jasper (Greek: iaspis) is believed to be the same as the last stone mentioned in the breastplate of the high priest in Exodus 28:20. In the Hebrew there, the name is yashepheh. That comes from an unused root meaning “to polish.” It is believed to be jasper because of the same general-sounding name – yashepheh/iaspis/jasper.

Some commentators believe this refers to a blue-white diamond. Jasper was mentioned in verse 4:3 when describing the glory of God in Christ –

“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.” Revelation 4:2, 3

The connection between the two, Christ and the wall, would then give its own symbolism. Believers are said to be “in Christ” numerous times in the epistles. As the wall is that which surrounds the city, it forms an obvious picture of the eternality of the salvation of the saints, and the absolute security of that salvation. This hard, impenetrable, and beautiful construction speaks out a timeless truth that the saints of the ages can hold fast to, knowing that –

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2, 3

Next, John says, “and the city was pure gold.” Gold is the royal metal. It is a symbol of wealth and purchasing power. In the Bible, it is used as a symbol of royalty and divinity. The city is thus reflective of the One who rules the city. Christ is the King, the divine Son of God.

Elsewhere, Peter says (1 Peter 2:5) that believers are “as living stones” and are being built up as a spiritual house. Thus, the construction of the city speaks of the connection between Christ and His people. We shall be “like” Him, and we shall be – as Paul says – “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). This then speaks of the sharing of believers in the glory and riches of Christ. Finally, John says the gold is “like clear glass.”

The same adjective is used to describe both the gold and the glass, and it should be rendered the same in both uses, “pure gold, like pure glass.” The word translated as “glass” is only found here and then again in verse 21. It “refers to any transparent substance (like crystal), i.e. ‘see-through stones.’ On both of its occasions in the NT, 5194 (‘pure, transparent glass’) refers to the New Jerusalem – ‘apparently a metaphor (personification) of all the glorified saints, serving as the eternal dwelling place of God’ (G. Archer).” (HELPS Word Studies).

The idea is not necessarily that the gold is see-through. It is that just as glass is bright and reflective, so is the gold. It will be so smooth and polished that it will appear like a mirror. This was anticipated in the temple that Solomon built –

“And he prepared the inner sanctuary inside the temple, to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. 20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high. He overlaid it with pure gold, and overlaid the altar of cedar. 21 So Solomon overlaid the inside of the temple with pure gold.” 1 Kings 6:19-21

In New Jerusalem, everything will reflect the glory of God. John Gill’s analysis of the symbolism is flowery and beautiful, saying, “the rich and happy state they will be in, as well as their purity and freedom from all sin and corruption, and the clear knowledge of things they themselves will have, and others will have of them; their hearts and actions will be open to all; nor will this gold have any rust upon it anymore, or ever be changed, and become dim.”

The symbolism is given to relay spiritual truths of the glory that lies ahead for all who have come to God through His Christ.

Life application: The earthly tabernacle and temple were representations of Christ and of heavenly things related to Him. Each article, material, dimension, and so on were given to teach us spiritual truths about Him. They also anticipate the place where we will dwell with Him for all eternity.

If you have not read and studied the details of those earthly edifices, take time to do so. The description in Revelation gives a broad brushstroke of the glory to come, but the descriptions of the tabernacle and tent give the finer details. In them, we can see many wonderful truths concerning God’s redemptive process as it is worked out in the stream of human existence through His Messiah, our Lord JESUS.

How wonderful it will be to walk in the New Jerusalem and see what You have created! O God, we have hints of what is coming in Your word, but we can only speculate on much of the marvelous perfection of what lies ahead. Thank You for the beautiful taste of the glory to come as it is revealed in Your word! Hallelujah and Amen.