Summary: 1) The Appearance (Rev. 21:1), 2) The Capital (Rev. 21:2), 3) The Supreme Reality (Rev.21:3), 4) The Changes (Rev. 21:4-6a), 5) The Residents (Rev. 21:6b–7), and 6) The Outcasts from the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Rev.21:8)

On Monday evening at the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, Stephen Harper promised Israelis that “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.” The prime minister explained that his unprecedented and unmatched support for Israel is not about political calculation, but rather a “moral imperative” and “a matter of strategic importance,”. He talked about the future of Jerusalem as “a matter of [Canada’s] own, long-term interests.” (

Our relationship with the heavenly Jerusalem is a matter of our long-term interests. Desiring heaven exerts a powerful influence on believers’ lives here on earth. The John gave the practical effect this should have on believers’ lives: “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3; cf. 2 Pet. 3:14). A genuine and strong longing for heaven also produces the highest and noblest Christian character. Those who spend much time meditating on heavenly things cannot help but have their lives transformed. It brings joy and comfort in trials. Those who focus on heaven’s glories can endure anything in this life and not lose their joy. When they suffer, they can say with Paul, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor.4:17). It is also a preservative against sin. Those who set their minds on things above are less likely to become ensnared by earthly temptations. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:5–6). A genuine and strong longing for heaven will also maintain the vigor of believers’ spiritual service. Those who are negligent in the Lord’s work and make only a token, minimal effort to serve Him, demonstrate little regard for eternal things. They foolishly think that the reward for pursuing earthly things is greater than that for pursuing heavenly things. Finally, a genuine and strong longing for heaven honors God above everything else. Those who focus on heaven focus on the Supreme One in heaven. By setting their hearts on Him, they honor the One whose heart is set on them.

Revelation 21:1-8 unfolds six features of the final and eternal heaven, called the new heaven and the new earth: 1) The Appearance of the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Revelation 21:1), 2) The Capital of the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Revelation 21:2), 3) The Supreme Reality of the New Heaven and the New Earth(Revelation 21:3), 4) The Changes in the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Revelation 21:4-6a), 5) The Residents of the New Heaven and the New Earth. (Revelation 21:6b–7), and 6) The Outcasts from the New Heaven and the New Earth. Revelation 21:8).

1) The Appearance of the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21:1)

Revelation 21:1 [21:1]Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (ESV)

The phrase kai eidon (I saw) is used throughout Revelation to indicate chronological progression (cf. 6:1, 2, 5, 8, 12; 7:2; 8:2, 13; 9:1; 10:1; 13:1, 11; 14:1, 6, 14; 15:1; 16:13; 17:3; 19:11, 17, 19; 20:1, 4, 11). It has introduced each of the climactic events beginning with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ in 19:11.

Please turn to Isaiah 65 (p.624)

As chapter 21 opens, all the sinners of all the ages, as well as Satan and his demons, have been sentenced to the lake of fire, as we saw last week from Rev. 20:10–15. With all the ungodly people and fallen angels banished forever and the present universe will be destroyed (20:11), and God will create a new realm for the redeemed and the holy angels to dwell in forever.

The phrase a new heaven and a new earth derives from two passages in Isaiah. In Isaiah 65 God declared:

Isaiah 65:17-19 [17]"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. [18]But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. [19]I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. (ESV)

Kainos (new) does not mean new in a chronological sense, but new in a qualitative sense. The new heaven and the new earth will not merely succeed the present universe in chronological sequence; they will be something brand new, fresh, never before seen. God must create a new heaven and a new earth because the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. God originally created the earth to be suitable as mankind’s permanent home. The entrance of sin, however, corrupted the earth and the universe, and God will destroy them (cf. 20:11). What lies ahead for the earth is not a nuclear or an ecological holocaust, but a divine judgment.

The first hint of what the new heaven and new earth will be like comes in John’s observation that the sea was no more. The term sea may have a figurative connotation referring to afflictions God’s people endured in a sinful world. John himself appears to point to a symbolic interpretation by writing a parallel clause that reiterates the same wording: “the sea was no more” and “death, grief, crying, and pain will be no more. ((Simon J. Kistemaker. Revelation: Baker New Testament CommentaBaker Academic. Grand Rapids, MI. 2002).

Quote: From a metaphorical perspective, commentators have seen the absence of the sea as symbolic of the absence of evil. Robert L. Thomas summarizes: “Most justifiably see this void as representing an archetypical connotation in the sea (cf. 13:1; 20:13), a principle of disorder, violence, or unrest that marks the old creation (cf. Isa. 57:20; Ps. 107:25–28; Ezek. 28:8).… It is not that the sea is evil in itself, but that its aspect is one of hostility to mankind. For instance, the sea was what stood guard over John in his prison on Patmos and separated him from the churches of Asia.… The sea is the first of seven evils that John says will no longer exist, the other six being death, mourning, weeping, pain (21:4), the curse (22:3), and night (21:25; 22:5)”. (Robert L. Thomas . Revelation 8–22: An Exegetical Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1995], 440)

2) The Capital of the New Heaven and the New Earth(Revelation 21:2)

Revelation 21:2 [2]And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (ESV)

As the next stage in his vision unfolds, the apostle John moves from a description of the new heaven and the new earth in general to a description of the capital city of the eternal state. Since the text plainly identifies it as such, there is no reason to doubt that the holy city, new Jerusalem, is an actual city. The new Jerusalem is not heaven, but heaven’s capital. It is not synonymous with heaven, because its dimensions are given in 21:16. The historic Jerusalem, the City of David, which currently exists in Palestine. Scripture repeatedly calls it the holy city (11:2; Neh. 11:1; Isa. 52:1; Dan. 9:24; Matt. 4:5; 27:53) because it was set apart for God’s purposes.

But the new Jerusalem does not belong to the first creation, so it is not the historic city, it is the altogether new eternal city (cf. v. 10; 3:12; Heb. 11:10; 12:22–24; 13:14). The old Jerusalem, in ruins for twenty-five years when John received this vision, is too stained with sin, too much a part of the old creation to survive into the eternal state. The new Jerusalem is called the holy city because everyone in it is holy, since “blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection” (20:6). The concept of a city includes relationships, activity, responsibility, unity, socialization, communion, and cooperation. Unlike the evil cities of the present earth, the perfectly holy people in the new Jerusalem will live and work together in perfect harmony.

One of the ways we are to show the message of the Gospel as creditable is to function together as a congregation that give a foretaste of the heavenly Jerusalem. When we form positive interpersonal relationships, do things together, fulfill kingdom responsibilities, unify under the Lordship of Christ, commune properly at the Lord’s table and cooperate in spiritual endeavours, we show how the Gospel can transform. This encourages a thirst in ourselves and promotes a thirst in others for the heavenly reality.

Please turn to Hebrews 12 (p.1009)

In his vision, John saw the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, its “architect and builder” (Heb. 11:10). What is amazing is that through what Christ has accomplished in the New Covenant, in godly worship, Christian believers have access here and now, in the invisible, spiritual realm to what is happening in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:22-23 [22]But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, [23]and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, [24]and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (ESV)

All of heaven is currently contained in the new Jerusalem; it is separate from the present universe, which is tainted by sin. Believers who die before Christ returns go to the “heavenly Jerusalem,” where Jesus has gone before them to prepare a place for them (John 14:1–3). But when God creates the new heaven and the new earth, the new Jerusalem will descend into the midst of that holy new universe (21:10), and serve as the dwelling place of the redeemed for all eternity. Since the throne of God will be in the new Jerusalem, which will come down to the new earth, that city will be the bond between the new earth and the new heaven. Further describing heaven’s capital city, John notes that it is being prepared/made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Adorned is from the verb kosmeō (“to order,” or “to arrange”); the related noun kosmos (translated “adornment” in 1 Pet. 3:3) is the root of the English word “cosmetics.” The bride has become appropriately ordered in all her beauty. By this point in Revelation, the bride concept expands to include not only the church (as it has since Acts 2), but also all the rest of the redeemed from all the ages who live forever in that eternal city. For those who don’t see it as a literal city coming down, the city is the bride. It is the church triumphant in glory being presented here to her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, at the marriage supper of the Lamb. (cf. 20:9 God’s people were described as ‘the city he loves’, and the Old Testament pictures the church under the symbolism of the city as well (eg, Psalm 48:1–2, 12–13; Isaiah 26:1). (Richard Brooks: Revelation: The Lamb is All the Glory. EVANGELICAL PRESS. Faverdale North Industrial Estate, Darlington, DL3 0PH, England. 2002)

Sometimes people caricature this Christian teaching as ‘pie in the sky when you die’. Provided we understand that God is concerned about us and about how we live and behave today, and provided the future doesn’t become an excuse to opt out of the difficulties of today, then surely we should not be ashamed to proclaim clearly to our friends that indeed glory awaits us such as we have never experienced on this earth. The utopias of man’s wisdom through the centuries are just dreams that never come to fruition. The new heaven and the new earth are our inheritance as Christians. This is part of the gospel message. It is a message that is full of hope and joy and encouragement for us all. (Paul Gardner. Revelation: Focus on the Bible Commentary series. Christian Focus Publications, Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain. 2002.)

3) The Supreme Reality of the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21:3)

Revelation 21:3 [3]And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (ESV)

The supreme glory and joy of heaven is the Person of God (cf. Ps. 73:25). Here, as twenty times previously in Revelation, a loud voice heralds an announcement of great importance. The source of the voice is not revealed. It is not God (who speaks in v. 5), but is probably an angel (cf. 5:2; 7:2; 14:9,15, 18; 19:17). The portentous announcement he makes is “Behold, the dwelling place/tabernacle of God is with/among men.” God will pitch His tent dwell with/tabernacle (Skenē ) among His people; no longer will He be far off, distant, transcendent. No more will His presence be veiled in the human form of Jesus Christ, or in the cloud and pillar of fire, or inside the Holy of Holies. The amazing reality that “the pure in heart … shall see God” (Matt. 5:8) will come to pass. Christ’s prayer, recorded in John 17:24, will be answered: “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me” (cf. John 14:1–3; 1 Thess. 4:13–17). There will be “no temple in [heaven], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (21:22). Their presence will permeate heaven and will not be confined to one place of manifestation.

Living our lives with an everyday focus and perspective of heaven illustrate the transcendent presence of God. We shouldn’t expect unbelievers to come to corporate worship but live lives of continual worship showing through our priorities, words, and lifestyle how the presence of God is transformative.

So staggering is this truth of God’s presence, that the heavenly voice repeats it several ways. To the mind-boggling reality that the place/tabernacle of God is with/among men he adds the statement that God will dwell with/among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them (cf. 22:3–4). This will be a manifestation of God’s glorious presence to His people like no other in redemptive history and the culmination of all divine promise and human hope (Lev. 26:11–12; Jer. 24:7; 30:22; 31:1, 33; 32:38; Ezek. 37:27; 48:35; Zech. 2:10; 8:8; 2 Cor. 6:16).

Hymn: In her marvelous but seldom sung hymn, “My Savior First of All,” Fanny Crosby echoed Paul’s sentiments: “When my life work is ended and I cross the swelling tide, When the bright and glorious morning I shall see, I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side, And His smile will be the first to welcome me. Thru the gates to the city, in a robe of spotless white, He will lead me where no tears will ever fall, In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight— But I long to meet my Savior first of all”.

4) The Changes in the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21:4-6a)

Revelation 21:4-6a [4]He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." [5]And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." [6]And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. (To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment). (ESV)

Heaven will be so dramatically different from the present world that to describe it requires the use of negatives, as well as the previous positives. To describe what is totally beyond human understanding also requires pointing out how it differs from present human experience.

The first change from their earthly life believers in heaven will experience is that God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (cf. 7:17; Isa. 25:8). That does not mean that people who arrive in heaven will be crying and God will comfort them. They will not, as some imagine, be weeping as they face the record of their sins. There is no such record, because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), since Christ “bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). What it declares is the absence of anything to be sorry about—no sadness, no disappointment, no pain. There will be no tears of misfortune, tears over lost love, tears of remorse, tears of regret, tears over the death of loved ones, or tears for any other reason.

Another dramatic difference from the present world will be that in heaven death shall be no more /there will no longer be any death (cf. Isa. 25:8). The greatest curse of human existence will be no more. “Death,” as Paul promised, “is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54). Both Satan, who had the power of death (Heb. 2:14) and death itself will have been cast into the lake of fire (20:10, 14).

Please turn to Isaiah 53 (p.613)

Nor will there be any mourning, nor crying in heaven. The grief, sorrow, and distress that produce mourning and its outward manifestation, crying, will not exist in heaven. The perfect holiness and absence of sin that will characterize heaven will also mean that there will be no more pain. This glorious reality will be the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:3–4:

Isaiah 53:3-5 [3]He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. [4]Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. [5]But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (ESV)

When Christ bore believers’ sins on the cross, He also bore their sorrows, since sin is the cause of sorrow.

While the healing in view in Revelation 20:3 is primarily spiritual healing, it also includes physical healing. The healing ministry of Jesus was a preview of the well-being that will characterize the eternal state. The glorified sin free bodies believers will possess in heaven will not be subject to pain of any kind.

All those changes that will mark the new heaven and the new earth indicate that the former/first things have passed away. Old human experience related to the original, fallen creation is gone forever, and with it all the mourning, suffering, sorrow, disease, pain, and death that has characterized it since the Fall.

Summarizing those changes in a positive way, verse five declares that He who is seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” The One who is seated on the throne is the same One “from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them” (20:11). Since the present universe will be uncreated, the new heaven and the new earth will be truly a new creation, and not merely a refurbishing of the present heaven and earth. In that forever new creation, there will be no entropy, no atrophy, no decay, no decline, and no waste.

Overwhelmed by all that he had seen, John seems to have lost his concentration. Thus, God Himself, the glorious, majestic One on the throne said to him “Write, for these words are trustworthy/faithful and true” (cf. 1:19). The words John was commanded by God to write are as trustworthy/faithful and true (cf. 22:6) as the One revealing them to him (3:14; 19:11). They are not hollow sounds, nor words that in time lose their meaning, but they express unqualified and lasting trustworthiness. God, who in Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of this world, will honor his word in bringing about a new heaven and a new earth (Simon J. Kistemaker. Revelation: Baker New Testament CommentaBaker Academic. Grand Rapids, MI. 2002).

Though the present “heaven and earth will pass away,” still God’s “words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). There will be an end to the universe, but not to the truth God reveals to His people. Whether or not people understand and believe that truth, it will come to pass.

Also by way of summary, the majestic voice of the One sitting on heaven’s throne said to John, “It is done.” Those words are reminiscent of Jesus’ words on the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Jesus’ words marked the completion of the work of redemption; these words mark the end of redemptive history.

The One who was seated on the throne is qualified to declare the end of redemptive history, because He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (cf. Isa. 44:6; 48:12). Because alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, they connote the eternal nature of God (Isa. 44:6; 48:12; 1 Tim. 1:15; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Tit. 3:8). Revelation attributes the same designation to Christ, again affirming his divinity (1:8; 22:13). The phrase beginning and end indicates that God is the source (archē; John 1:1) and the goal (telos; Rom. 10:4; 1 Tim. 1:5) of creation. God does not merely bring the End. God is the End” (1989:215). It is interesting to note that these designations for God and Christ come at both the “beginning and the end” of Revelation (1:8, 17; 21:6; 22:13). (Yeatts, John R.. BELIEVERS CHURCH BIBLE COMMENTARY: REVELATION. Herald Press, Scottdale, Pa. 2003.)

Illustration: Walls and Domes and Spires

In his book on Heaven, evangelist D. L. Moody quoted a dear saint who said: “When I was a boy, I thought of heaven as a great, shining city, with vast walls and domes and spires, and with nobody in it except white-robed angels, who were strangers to me. By and by my little brother died, and I thought of a great city with walls and domes and spires, and one little fellow that I was acquainted with. He was the only one I knew at that time. Then another brother died, and there were two that I knew. Then my acquaintances began to die, and the flock continually grew. But it was not till I had sent one of my little children to his Heavenly Parent—God—that I began to think I had a little in myself. A second went; a third went; a fourth went, and by that time I had so many acquaintances in heaven, that I did not see any more walls and domes and spires. I began to think of the residents of the celestial city as my friends. And now so many of my acquaintances have gone there, that it sometimes seems to me that I know more people in heaven than I do on earth.” (D.L. Moody. Heaven. Moody Press. North Dakota. P. 32)

5) The Residents of the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21:6b–7)

Revelation 21:6b-7 [6](And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end). To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. [7]The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (ESV)

Two descriptive phrases reveal who will live in the glorious new heaven and new earth. First, a citizen of heaven is described as the thirsty/one who thirsts. That phrase signifies those who, recognizing their desperate spiritual need, “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6). They are the ones to whom Isaiah cries out, “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isa. 55:1). Those who will be redeemed and enter heaven are those who are dissatisfied with their hopeless, lost condition and crave God’s righteousness with every part of their being. The psalmist expressed that strong desire in Psalm 42:1–2: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?”

The promise to such earnest seekers is that their thirst will be satisfied. God will give from the spring of the water of life without payment/cost. To the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well Jesus promised, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13–14). It is the water of which He spoke in John 7:37–38: “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” ’ ” This same promise is also repeated in 22:17 (cf. 7:17): “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” The water in all those passages symbolizes eternal life. Those who thirst for and passionately seek salvation are the ones who will receive it and enjoy the eternal bliss of heaven.

Please turn to 1 John 5 (p.1023)

Second, heaven belongs to The one who overcomes(nikōn) . This is a PRESENT ACTIVE PARTICIPLE, which is a continuing reference to the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints amidst a time of terrible persecution. It connotes that conquering is a continuous and constant struggle. An overcomer, according to 1 John 5:4–5, is one who exercises saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The overcomer is the person who in faith drinks the water of salvation freely offered by God. (Bob Utley. Revelation: Study Guide Commentary Series. New Testament, Vol. 12. Bible Lessons International, Marshall, Texas. 2001)

1 John 5:4-5 [4]For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. [5]Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (ESV)

John uses this distinctive term for believers in the closing promise of each of the letters to the seven churches. The promise here to those who overcome is that they will have this heritage/inherit these things. They will “obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for [them]” (1 Pet. 1:4). They will enjoy perfection of soul (Heb. 12:23) and body (20:6; John 5:28–29; Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:35–44; 2 Cor. 5:2; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2) forever in the bliss of the new heaven and the new earth.

But the most wonderful promise to the one who overcomes, who thirsts for righteousness, is God’s promise I will be his God (cf. Gen. 17:7–8; Ex. 6:7; 29:45; Lev. 26:12; Deut. 29:13; 2 Sam. 7:24; Jer. 7:23; 11:4; 24:7; 30:22; Ezek. 11:20; 34:24; 36:28; 37:23, 27; Zech. 8:8). Equally amazing is God’s promise that the one who overcomes will be My son. Even in this life it is the believer’s privilege to be the adopted son of the God of the universe (John 1:12; Rom. 8:14–17; 2 Cor. 6:18; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5; Heb. 12:5–9; 1 John 3:1). But only in heaven, when believers come into their inheritance (1 Pet. 1:4), will that adoption be fully realized (Rom. 8:23).

Illustration: After the great Chicago fire of 1871, evangelist Dwight L. Moody went back to survey the ruins of his house. A friend came by and said to Moody, “I hear you lost everything.” “Well,” said Moody, “you understood wrong. I have a good deal more left than I lost.” “What do you mean?” the inquisitive friend asked. “I didn’t know you were that rich.” Moody then opened his Bible and read to him Revelation 21:7—“He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God.”(Warren W. Wiersbe. . The Bible Expository Commentary. VICTOR BOOKS. Wheaton, Illinois. 1996

6) The Outcasts from the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21:8)

Revelation 21:8 [8]But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (ESV)

John concludes his overview of the new heaven and the new earth with a serious and solemn warning. He delineates those who will be excluded from any participation in the blessings of heaven—all unforgiven and unredeemed sinners. There are similar lists of such sinners in 22:15; Romans 1:28–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Galatians 5:19–21; and 2 Timothy 3:2–5.

Please turn to Matthew 13 (p.818)

The first group excluded from heaven are the cowardly. These are the ones who lack endurance (cf. Matt. 24:13; Mark 8:35). They fell away when their faith was challenged or opposed, because their faith was not genuine. Jesus described such people in the parable of the soils:

Matthew 13:20-21 [20]As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, [21]yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (ESV)

These are the ones who “shrink back to destruction” (Heb. 10:39). In John 8:31 Jesus defined those whose faith is genuine as those who continue in His Word. (John MacArthur. The Gospel According to Jesus [rev. ed., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], and The Gospel According to the Apostles [Nashville: Word, 2000].)

Because they lack saving faith and are the faithless/unbelieving, their disloyalty excludes them from heaven. They are also detestable/abominable (vile, polluted, wholly caught up in wickedness and evil), murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers (from the Greek word pharmakos, from which the English words “pharmacy” and “pharmaceuticals” derive; that indicates the inclusion of those who use mind-altering drugs in occult religion), idolaters, and all liars. The list here is not, however, a general inventory of sins but instead a specific list that draws together the sins of the book. Its purpose is to sum up the depravity of the unbelievers, and each term reflects sins mentioned elsewhere in the book (Grant R. Osborne. Revelation: Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament Baker Academic. Grand Rapids, MI. 2004)

Those whose lives are characterized by such things give evidence that they are not saved and will never enter the heavenly city. On the contrary, their portion/part will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur/brimstone, which is the second death. In contrast to the eternal bliss of the righteous in heaven, the wicked will suffer eternal torment in hell.

The new heaven and the new earth await believers and the final hell awaits resurrected unbelievers. For believers, it will be a universe of eternal happiness as they dwell forever in the glorious presence of God. For unbelievers, it will be a terrifying place of unbearable torment and unrelieved misery away from God’s presence (2 Thess. 1:9). The choices men and women make in this life determine in which of those realms they will live forever.

(Format Note: Outline & some base commentary from. MacArthur, John F (2013-03-26). Revelation. MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Macarthur New Testament Commentary Series). Moody Publishers.)