Revelation 20-22
(A New Heaven and a New Earth)
December 31st

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,

and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book.

- Revelation 22:18-19 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

These last three chapters describe the conclusion of the final victory and the future creation of a new heaven and new earth. Chapter 20 begins with an angel coming down from heaven to lock up Satan and throw him into the Abyss for a 1,000 year sentence. After the 1,000 years has been completed Satan will be able to return to Earth to deceive for a little while longer, but then will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur with the beast and the false prophet. They will suffer there for all eternity.

Chapter 20 concludes with John describing a great white throne and a judging process based on the book of life. Those that were not in it were thrown into the lake of fire.

John begins chapter 21 with a quote from Isaiah 65:17, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1 - NIV).” John saw the Holy City and heard the good news that everyone had been anticipating for generation upon generation:

Then the voice (of Jesus) tells him to write down what he is hearing, and says, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life (Rev 21:6 - NIV).” Jesus says that those who are on his side will inherit this new kingdom and the rest will be thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

Next John saw the return of one of the angels who had held one of the seven bowls of plagues. The angel gave him a tour of the New Jerusalem. It had a high wall, with a gate for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. It also had twelve foundations, each representing one of the twelve apostles of Christ. The city had perfect measurements in multiples of twelve, according to the measures of that era. The width and length were 12,000 stadia (an ancient measure equal to about 8.5 miles) and the walls were 144 cubits thick (144 is 12 squared – each cubit is about .75 feet). The foundations were made of the most precious jewels. There was no temple, because Jesus was the temple, just as he had explained during his time on earth. There was no sun or moon because the glory of God provided light. Unlike the history of Jerusalem on earth, John could be assured that nothing impure would ever enter the New Jerusalem.

Eden is restored in the final chapter. The place from which man and woman were banished in Genesis became available for healing. The angel assures John that what he has seen is true and will happen “soon.”

Then Jesus has the last word spoken to John. He reminds John that he is the first and last and that each person will receive his reward. He warns that the prophecy must remain complete and curses anyone who adds or takes away from it, and assures John by saying, “Yes, I am coming soon (Rev 22:20a - NIV).”

John responds appropriately by concluding with the following statements:

Reflection and Application

What does soon mean? Does the phrase, “I’ll be right back” mean the same thing in a small town in North Carolina as it does in New York City? Does the New York minute consist of the same 60 seconds that is counted in other places in the world?

When we read that Jesus is coming soon, we must remember that it’s according to his schedule and measure of time. The Apostle Paul had told us that for God, 1,000 years is like a day – but that is not necessarily an exact conversion like 1 stadia = 8.5 miles. It’s meant to represent the scale of differences between what “soon” might mean for God versus what it means for us. However, we can be assured of this: He is coming back.

Note that John was told explicitly to write some things down, but in at least one case, he was told not to write down what he heard. God has revealed the prophecy of Revelation to us through John, but he is not telling us everything. The exact timetable and start date are among the mysteries that he has withheld. There is little to be gained by trying to guess what those dates are, but there is everything to be gained by believing the words in this Book.

Note also that on at least two occasions an angel told John not to kneel down before him and reminded him that they are both servants of God. Heaven is a flat organization structure. There is the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and then there is the rest of us: Angels, Saints, and Believers, all serving God and one another.

There is also a place in the new Heaven for sinners who have repented and subsequently have become believers in their heart. For example, look back at all of the characters in the Bible, from Abraham to Paul and many in between who sinned and failed but accepted God’s grace and were restored. John reminds us in his final verse that the Grace of God is available to all the people. We only have to accept the gift, unwrap it, and dress ourselves in it.

In verse 22:16, when John scribed Jesus saying “I have sent my angel to you," he used the Greek word for the plural of you. We don’t have an equivalent word in formal English, so the meaning may be slightly obscured in the NIV version of the Bible. In the translation known as The Message this phrase was translated as “sent my Angel to testify to these things for the churches.” I think that translation still could be misinterpreted, because the message from Jesus is for everyone, whether they are currently part of a church or not. The Spanish language translation in the Nueva Versión Internacional uses the word ustedes, which is a plural form of you: "Yo, Jesús, he enviado a mi ángel para darles a ustedes testimonio de estas cosas que conciernen a las Iglesias (Apocalipsis 22:6 - NVI)."

If we were to translate Revelations 22:16 into colloquial English, we might report it as “I have sent my guys to all you’se guys,” or “I have sent my blessed angel to y’all,” or “I have sent my angelic mate to you and all you mates,” depending on the region of the world. To those who have ears and listen, let him or her hear that he or she is invited to the table.

One way we show our gratitude is by serving God and man. One way to serve is by propagating the Word that we have read about in the Bible. The Angel told John not to seal this book, which is translated in The Message as “don’t put it on the shelf.” Don’t just tuck away this knowledge that you have gained. Tell people what you have been reading here. Refer them to this study or to some other Bible-based study. Keep talking about God, but be careful to represent him correctly. Jesus said in Revelation chapter 22 that he would put a plague on anyone who added or subtracted from his prophecy. This verse must have put the fear of God into the translators when they got to the end of the book!

Revelation was written in Greek and has been translated into many languages. The debates over what constitutes an accurate translation are endless and the documentation of these debates could fill a library. But I don’t think this is exactly what Jesus was warning about. It is important to try to understand the original intent, but if our translators worked with diligence, best intentions, and a heart for Jesus, then I imagine that they are forgiven for any minor errors. Likewise, if we study with diligence, have a heart for Jesus, and point people directly to one (or more) of the translations of the scripture, then we too should be forgiven for any minor errors.

John’s second to last statement was “Come, Lord Jesus.” According to Biblical expert Leon Morris, the Greek representation of this statement was very similar to the Aramaic phrase Maranatha that Paul used in his closing of 1 Corinthians (16:22) (1). These are the only two places that this phrase is used in the New Testament, but it may have been a common expression among the early Christians who longed for Christ’s return. It can also be a useful expression for us as we kneel down in prayer and ask Jesus to come forgive us and help us allow him into our hearts.

It is done.

We have finished the entire Bible in one year. We have learned a lot, but yet have only scratched the surface. The more we learned the more we realized what we have yet to learn. We encourage you to continue your studies by joining us again next year (beginning tomorrow) for a new version of Bible 365 or begin some other study.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is your favorite number?
    2. How would you summarize Revelation for a friend?
    3. What are you Bible Study goals for next year?

    Recommended Prayer
    Come Lord Jesus. We know you are coming. Help us to prepare by listening to your word, studying it with all our heart, mind, and soul.

    Prayer Concern
    Bible Translators and Biblical Experts


    (1) Morris, Leon, Revelation, an Introduction and Commentary, Intervarsity Press, Leicester England, 1987, p.255

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Overview of Genesis and Study of Genesis 1-4

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