New Heavens and New Earth | 21st Century Church of Christ

New Heavens and New Earth

The New Heavens and New Earth!

Theologian Dr. David Pawson writes about the pre-resurrection New Earth: "It is not some finite period of time, but an immense and infinite duration in which God will be everything to everyone." This appears to confirm that there are no limits on life in the New Earth. Pawson says it's a place where we can live forever and experience the glorious presence of God. 

After our resurrection, Jesus will return in glory to bring us back to the New Earth: "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes I am coming soon.' Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you." 1 John 2:28

As one commentator put it,

"We do not ascend to heaven and sit on a cloud, we descend with Jesus into the transformed New Earth in order to reign as kings and priests." –– Dr. J. Vernon McGee

Several Scriptures describe this coming world: "The righteous will inherit the land and dwell upon it forever" (Psalm 37:29).

The New Earth will be "as the garden of Eden" (Isaiah 51:3) and "a paradise like the Garden of Eden" (Ezekiel 36:35).

David Pawson, in his book 'Jesus Came Again – The Fullness Of The Agony And The Fourth Dimension In Scripture' writes:

"The New Earth, or Eternal State as it is called in the Bible, will be a place where nothing ever ends; where there are no seasons and therefore no seasons of dying… it seems to be a place where we can live forever and experience the glorious presence of God. 

He describes this coming world full of wonder and beauty:

"The New Earth itself will be a living organism, so that wherever you walk, the ground will live under your feet. The grass will grow there. Flowers and trees whose fruit never falls off will give abundant shade and produce delicious fruits for all who desire them, to eat whenever they want." (p.95)

Denise C. Corbellini in her book 'I Believe In A Coming New Earth' writes:

"No longer will we be able to use the excuse that things are not perfect and therefore, God does not exist or is unable to deliver! Because perfection will be present in every area of this new world. It will meet all our needs, and we will be able to leave all our cares behind. 

People only need to open their hearts and minds to accept this truth about the coming new earth… The world of perfection is soon going to appear before us. We must reach out and embrace it!" (p.31)

An author named Carey Aurs, in his book 'Our New Earth' writes:

"He's going to make a place for us that is so beautiful and delightful, we'll never want to leave it! The Bible calls this place a paradise. It will be like Eden was before Adam sinned…" (p.15)

Many other authors have said similar things about the New Earth, describing it as a paradise, or a living organism like Eden. But what do the Scriptures actually say about this place?

"Do not let your hearts be troubled… look! I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people… A new heaven and a new earth…" - Jesus Christ (The message of Jesus to His disciples, as recorded in the Bible)

The Greek word for "heaven" here is οὐρανός, which means an upper room or a palace. The word "earth" is γῆ meaning land (as opposed to sea). Therefore the phrase "New Heavens and New Earth" literally means a new upper room or palace and new land.

The Greek word καινός, used by Jesus here for "new" means 'not old, fresh, unused'. (see Strong's Concordance H4106) So this phrase has been translated in English Bibles as: 'a place that is fresh and unused'. Jesus is saying that the place He is preparing for us to live in will be like an upper room or palace, fresh and unused.

At this point we need to look at what the Scriptures say about heaven, earth and new heavens and new earth. The first mention of these things can be found in Genesis 1:1-2:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." (Genesis 1:1-2)

The Greek word for "heavens" here is οὐρανός, which is again the same word used by Jesus in Matthew 24:35. In Greek this word means an upper room or palace.

The Greek for "earth" here is γῆ meaning land (as opposed to sea). God created the heavens and earth in the beginning. This earth was without form and void, meaning it was a dead planet. It existed in darkness, covered by the deep waters of the sea which had not yet been separated from the land.

The first mention of new heavens and new earth is found in 2nd Peter 3:10-13:

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish , but everyone to come to repentance . But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare." (2nd Peter 3:8-10)

The Greek words here for "new" are καινός meaning ' not old, fresh, unused' (Strong's Concordance G2585) and κτισθῆναι meaning 'to build, prepare, construct'. So these verses are literally saying "the heavens that have passed away will be replaced by new ones, and the earth which has been destroyed will be built or prepared."

So we see in these verses that the new heavens and earth will be different from the old ones.

In Revelation 21:1-5 we read about the New Heavens and New Earth. The Apostle John recorded:

"Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." (Revelation 21:1-2)

(The Greek word for "new" here is ἐνιαυτός meaning 'in each year' Strong's Concordance G5256. So this passage literally means "a new heaven and earth in each (year)".

John continued saying:

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:3-4)

The Greek word translated as "dwelling" is οἶκος, which means ' a house'. God's "dwelling" with mankind will be a real physical place (a room or palace).

The Greek for "will live with them" is κατοικήσει and it means to dwell among. There is no doubt that the new heaven and earth is a real place were God will dwell among mankind.

The Greek for "be their God" is εἰμί meaning 'to be'. Jesus referred to Himself as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). So just like He was with us in the flesh on earth, He will be with us in the new heavens and earth.

Who are these people who God will live among?  The Greek word translated as "they will be His people" is δοῦλοι which means 'servants'. It is very clear that God will literally dwell among His servants. So the New Heavens and Earth will only be available to those who are in right relationship with God as His servants or slaves.

The Greek for "there will be no more death" is οὐκ ἔστι meaning 'is not'. The use of this negative here rather than a present tense verb, shows that death will no longer be a constant threat. Death is the last enemy to be destroyed (1st Corinthians 15:26) , so this passage is literally saying not only will there no longer be death but also there is no longer any destruction for the old order of things has passed away.

Due to Adam's sin, humanity entered into a fallen world where death was always present. Death has been the constant enemy that we have desperately tried to overcome or eliminate. So this passage literally means there will be no more effort required to try and eliminate death, it will simply no longer exist. This is in perfect harmony with Jesus' promise where He said that not even a blade of grass will ever die (John 11:25).

The Greek for "no mourning or crying or pain" is ἀπωλεία meaning 'destroyed' and λύπη meaning 'sorrow, distress, anxiety'. These are again all perfect tenses showing that this destruction is not continuous but a past event. So what was destroyed? 

This passage talks about the old order of things, which could be interpreted to mean the entire universe and all of mankind as we know it. However if we look at Revelation 21:1-3 again, it is clear from reading John's vision that the old order of things is not everything but only those things related to sin, suffering and death. So John is referring to a time in which God will destroy our existing physical universe as we know it (the old heavens and earth) so He can re-create an entirely new physical universe for Himself to dwell in among His people. This may sound strange to us, but God is not bound by time as we know it. He has already done this once when He destroyed the first created heavens and earth (Genesis 1:1) .

The Greek word translated as "old" here is παλαιός which means 'that which is old or aged'. If something is 'old' it must have once been young. The Bible says that the universe was originally created as a perfect and beautiful place, but now has become aged . So in a sense, God is simply destroying this old creation (the current heavens and earth) to make way for something much better, which we will look at in the next paragraph.

The Greek word translated as "order" is κύκλος meaning 'a circle, or an orbit'. For many years it was believed that the universe was circular with the earth at its centre . The Copernican revolution proved that the universe was actually spherical. This view of the universe was called into question by Einstein with his theory of relativity, but has since been proven correct . This 'circle' that John is talking about here, could be a perfect orbit around God's throne in heaven where Jesus will reign on His glorious throne for ever. 

The Greek word translated as "of things made" is υἱοθεσια meaning 'a bequest, inheritance' and κτίσις meaning 'creation'. So the old order of things here could literally mean the physical creation (the universe) itself. 

There are two Greek words for 'world' in this passage. The first is κόσμος meaning 'an orderly arrangement of things, a system'. This could refer to the ordered physical universe as we know it. The second word is οἰκουμένη meaning 'that which is inhabited or habitable'. This word more closely matches the idea of God's physical creation, but could also refer to all of mankind.

The Greek for "behold" here is ἰδού which means 'to behold, to see clearly' and is in the present tense meaning that this is something John is actually seeing in the vision.

The Greek word translated as "New" here is καινός which means 'new, fresh'. It is interesting that this same word for 'new' has been used in Revelation 21:5 and 14 to describe Jesus Christ.

We can see from this passage that the old heavens and earth will be utterly destroyed and replaced with the New Heavens and Earth, where there will be no more pain, sorrow or mourning. This could not possibly have already happened because all of these things exist today in the world around us.

To recap; we are told by John that he sees a new heaven coming down from heaven. This is the kingdom of God (verse 15). John then sees a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. This is the city of God, which will be inhabited by His people (verses 2, 10-27). It seems clear that John was not describing anything other than literal cities here in these visions. We are also told that the New Heavens and Earth will be inhabited by God's people. The new heavens and earth are also described as being "prepared" (verse 2), which could mean that Jesus has already created them, but they have been waiting for this time to arrive when He can set His people there. 

This is where we get into the tricky part of trying to interpret the Bible. We are told that the New Jerusalem has a wall which is 144 cubits thick (verse 2). This measurement is so huge relative to the size of a person, it could be symbolic for something else like maybe God's love or His protection. If we look at this from what we know of how God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible, we see that omnipresence (all-present) is used extensively as a symbol for God's immutability (unchangeable). So maybe this huge wall could represent something like a perimeter boundary surrounding this new city.

There are two Greek words that are translated as 'throne' in the Bible. The first is θρόνος which means 'a chair or seat for a magistrate, judge or ruler'. The second is βασιλεία meaning "royal power". John saw that God's people will be sitting with Him on His throne and judging the world before the end of this age (Revelation 20:4). So maybe this could be symbolic for a ruling seat or a judicial position. Could we also see here that God's people will literally be sitting on His throne?

John tells us that there will no longer be any night in this city, but instead it will be like the sun is always shining. Could this mean that there will be no need for a physical light source to illuminate the city? If we read on in verse 23, we see that there is no temple in this new heaven and earth because God and His people will be all over it. If He is omnipresent, doesn't this seem like a strange neediness to create an earthly temple?

We know that Jesus is coming back very soon, with His appointment being after the time of great tribulation (Revelation 1:1). So maybe all this could be symbolic for something else and we will see these things fulfilled in God's timing when He comes. 

If we look at the Bible as a whole for any other examples of this sort of language, we see that there is a pattern revealed in another book written by Peter. In 2Peter 3:8, he says "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day." Another example can be found in Hebrews 11:3 "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Given this type of language, could these visions in Revelation be a way for John to describe to us how long it will take for Christ's kingdom to come?

 Could it take a thousand years for all this to happen?

We are to understand that the Bible was written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, which are very different languages. Because of this there is sometimes confusion about what the author really meant when he said something. Another verse we can look at would be Isaiah 40:22 where God tells us that He is "firmly fixed" or immovable and "can't be kept from doing what he plans to do".

Of course, there is also the idea of imagery in the Bible. Could this all be symbolic for something else? The Bible is filled with stories which are beyond our comprehension and they are used to portray the glory of God. Moses saw a bush that was on fire, but it wasn't even burned up (Exodus 3:2-4). The apostle John also saw something significant beyond our understanding about Jesus which is best described as Him being lamb-like and lion-like (Revelation 5:6). Could all this be something that John saw in his mind, which is beyond our comprehension?

If you have any other thoughts about the interpretation of Revelation 21, please contact us.

Rev. 20:3-10 3 Now when the thousand years are ended , Satan will be let out of his prison 4 and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 5 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them . 6 And the devil, who deceived them , was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and false prophet had been thrown . They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 7 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence , and there was no place for them . 8 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened . Another book was opened, which is the book of life . The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 9 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them , and each person was judged according to what he had done . 10 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.