New Jerusalem

This entry is part 16 of 20 in the series Spiritual Realms

New Jerusalem

The terms

For purposes of this study, this name will be rendered “New Jerusalem,” but it is rendered that exact way only once.  There are, however, three renderings of “Jerusalem” in a spiritual and metaphorical useage.

The Texts

Galatians 4:24-26 (NIV)
24 These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

o   In this text, Paul speaks of Abraham’s first two sons:  Ishmael and Isaac

o   Of Ishmael it is said that he was born in the ordinary way (v23) while Isaac was born of a promise.

o   He then equates the “ordinary” to represent the “Jerusalem” of earth and the “promise” to represent the “Jerusalem that is above.”

§  Paul references a “spiritual” Jerusalem, which the author of Hebrews develops more fully

Hebrews 12:22-24 (NIV)
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

o   The author references the nature of the new covenant in Christ:  it is one where we come spiritually rather than physically into our place of worship.  He is building off of the idea he related earlier:

o    Hebrews 9:20-24 (NIV)
20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.

§  The teaching is that what happened in the earthly temple was a copy of that which was to later happen in the “true” temple in Heaven.

·         Animal sacrifices were offered in the earthly temple

·         Jesus himself was offered in the heavenly temple. 

§  Jerusalem is the city of the temple

·         Old Jerusalem is the city of the old earthly temple

·         The Jerusalem “above” is the city of the heavenly temple in “heaven itself…in God’s presence.”

Revelation 21:1-27 (NIV)
1 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. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 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. 4 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.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” 9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was 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, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

o   Prior to this text, John wrote:
Revelation 20:11 (NIV)

11 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.

o   “Earth and sky” fled from Christ’s presence

§  “sky” is ouranos, or “heaven”

·         Clearly the context is that the “sky” of “earth” is that which fled away: the second heaven.

o   Now, in chapter 21 he begins with “ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”

§  Some misinterpret this to mean that Heaven Proper is replaced at this time by “the New Jerusalem.”

·         This is not the case.  The heaven which passed away was the skies of the earth which passed away.

o   Also note that the New Jerusalem is “coming down out of heaven from God.”

§  This “heaven” must speak of the second heaven, or outer space, since the first heaven was destroyed just prior.


·         New Jerusalem is one and the same as “the Jerusalem that is above” in Galatians 4 and “the heavenly Jerusalem” of Hebrews 12.

·         New Jerusalem exists today.  It was “above” in Galatians 4 and “the heavenly Jerusalem” in Hebrews 12. 

·         New Jerusalem, therefore is not “new” in the sense of being newly created.  It is “new” in the sense of being uncorrupted and being the fulfillment of which the Jerusalem of earth is a copy.

·         New Jerusalem and the third heaven are one and the same.

·         As the “old” Jerusalem housed the temple of God (the copy), where his name resided, the New Jerusalem holds God’s literal presence

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Hebrews 10:1 (NIV)
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves….

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