SESSION 4

Life Without Death

Revelation 21-22


For Openers:

  • What do you think heaven will be like?
  • When I get to heaven, one of the first persons I want to see again is...
  • When I get to heaven, one of the first things I want to know is...

For Your Information:

Whenever you read the book of Revelation, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Note that it is not a collection of revelations about the end times, but it is an accounting of the "revelation of Jesus Christ." (Rev. 1:1)
  • The initial level with which we must deal with Revelation is as a letter to the seven churches of Asia Minor. (chapters 1-3) While Revelation certainly has value for all Christians in all times, it is important to understand how it was meaningful to its first recipients.
  • Part of the power of the vision in Revelation comes through its use of symbolic numbers (7 and 12 signify wholeness), figures (tree of life and lake of fire; blood red and pure white), and forms (a cube is a perfect shape). Such symbols are not meant to be taken literally.
  • The strange and sometimes shocking images in Revelation are not unusual. Other documents from antiquity have similar images. Revelation is, in fact, filled with allusions to Scripture (the Old Testament) and to the liturgy of the early Christian church. Revelation seeks to remind its readers of what is familiar but helps them see the greater and enduring significance of their faith in Christ in the midst of discouraging and threatening situations.
  • Note that chapter 20 reports the final defeat of Satan (verses 7-10) and the resurrection and judgment of the dead (verses 11-20).
  • Read Revelation 21:1-2. The "sea" is a symbol of unrest and turbulence (13:1).
  • Read Revelation 21:3-4. Compare this to 7:15-17 where a similarly wonderful promise was given to the Christian martyrs.
  • Read Revelation 21:5-8. For more information on Jesus as the Alpha and Omega, see 1:8 and 22:13. Note the contrast between the "spring of the water of life" (verse 6) and the "lake of fire" (verse 8; also 19:20).
  • Read Revelation 21:9-21. On the "seven bowls," see chapter 16. Note that all the features of the city involve the number twelve, a symbol of wholeness. Its cubical shape is a symbol of perfection.
  • Read Revelation 21:22-27. The "book of life" is a metaphor for salvation and election. See 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15 ; Exod 32:32; Dan 12:1; :Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3.
  • Read Revelation 22:1-5. The "tree of life" points back to Genesis 2-3.
  • Read Revelation 22:6-7. Verse 7 is the voice of Christ. See 16:15.

Revelation 21-22 and Scripture

Revelation is imbued with the thought and language of Scripture. The following cross-references will guide you back into the Bible for further study and reflection.

  • 21:1 - Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Romans 8:19-21, 2 Peter 3:13
  • 21:2 - Galatians 4:26; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:10, 14-16
  • 21:3 - Ezekiel 37:26-27
  • 21:4 - Isaiah 25:8; 35:10
  • 21:5 - Isaiah 43:19
  • 21:6 - Isaiah 49:10; 55:1; John 4:13-14; 7:37-38
  • 21:10 - Ezekiel 40:2
  • 21:18-21 - Isaiah 54:11-12
  • 21:22-23 - Isaiah 24:23; 60:1, 19-20
  • 22:1-2 - Genesis 2:10; Psalm 46:4; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 14:8; John 4:10, 14
  • 22:4: - Exodus 33:20; Deuteronomy 4:12; Matthew 5:8; John 1:18; 6:46; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; 4:12

For Your Consideration:

  1. 21:1-2 - Why does it emphasize that there will be a new earth and a new Jerusalem and even a new heaven?
  2. 21:2 - Who is the bridegroom? See 21:9 and also Luke 5:34-35 and John 3:29.
  3. 21:3 says that the "home of God" will be among mortals. Where is the "home of God" now? Note that the word for "home" and "dwell" in this verse is actually the word used for the "tabernacle," the tent in which God was worshipped during the Exodus. Perhaps, then, a better question is, "Where is the tabernacle of God?" John 4:20-24 may be helpful at this point. Also consider the difference between a "tabernacle" and a "temple."
  4. 21:6 - What things can you list that really and truly and finally have an "end" and not just have endings?
  5. 21:25 - Why will the gates never be shut? Compare this to never locking your house or car.
  6. 22:1-4 - How is the description of heaven here like and unlike the first paradise in the Garden of Eden?
  7. What do you think will be the best thing about heaven? What does this passage in Revelation describe as the best thing about it?
  8. What is the point of this elaborate description of heaven?
  9. If you were to die tomorrow, how would you want to be remembered? What would be a good epitaph for your tombstone?

For Later:


What about Purgatory? 

Why do Roman Catholics believe there is such a place and Protestants do not? This issue goes back to the time of the Reformation when Luther was protesting the sale of indulgences for people who had died. The scriptural warrant for this practice, and the text which was regarded as establishing the existence of such a thing as purgatory, is 2 Maccabees 12:43-45. The Protestants came to categorize this book among the Apocryphal books. These are books that were found in the Greek version of the Old Testament but not in the Hebrew. Protestants regard such books as being useful but not canonical. Roman Catholics affirmed the canonicity of these books.

 
PLEASE NOTE: All materials in these studies that are not otherwise attributed are 1996-2007 by Mark Vitalis Hoffman. Expressed permission is hereby granted to download and print these materials for personal use only. If you wish to use any of these materials for a group or other purposes, please contact me (orders@crossmarks.com) for permissions. In all cases, include my copyright notice and email address with any versions of the material. Thank you.

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