WILL THERE BE UNBELIEVERS ON THE NEW EARTH?
I am reasonably certain that anyone reading the question posed in the title of this paper will say, “absolutely not!, there will be no unbelievers on the new earth”. But I believe that as the reader continues, he/she will see that the question requires more consideration than one would think.
We will discuss the following:
WHO WILL LIVE IN THE NEW JERUSALEM?
WHO WILL LIVE OUTSIDE THE NEW JERUSALEM?
REV. 22:15, “FOR WITHOUT”
REV. 21:8, WILL THE LAKE OF FIRE BE ON THE NEW EARTH?
FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT THERE WILL BE, FOR A TIME, UNBELIEVERS ON THE NEW EARTH
THE MILLENNIAL PRECEDENCE
A CONSIDERATION OF SCRIPTURES THAT SEEM TO SAY THAT THERE WILL NOT BE ANY UNBELIEVERS ON THE NEW EARTH
APPENDIX: A STUDY OF OTHER SCRIPTURES THAT SPEAK OF THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH
WHO WILL LIVE IN THE NEW JERUSALEM?
We read in Rev. 21:2, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”. And verse 10, “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God”.
The bride of God in this context is limited to the believers of Israel. How do we know that? The new Jerusalem is described in Rev. 21:11-27. We read that it had twelve gates, “and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” In keeping with the dispensational setting of Revelation, we should not be the least bit surprised to discover the Israel centeredness of the new Jerusalem which will come down to the new earth.
Heb. 11:10 also speaks of the new Jerusalem but does not name it. “For he (Abraham) looked for a city which hath foundation, whose builder and maker is God“. And verse 16, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city”. Who are “they” for whom God “hath prepared…..a city”? The entire chapter is about the faithful. Because Heb. 11 speaks of the faithful who lived before Abraham, I believe that in this context the bride is all the faithful of the period from the Old Testament through the Acts period
We must conclude therefore that the new Jerusalem was prepared for Israel and for all the faithful except those of the church which is His body which has been promised a heavenly calling (please see the paper on the calling of the church for the Scriptural evidence of the calling of the church to heaven).
Let us, for the sake of thoroughness consider the other scriptures that speak of the new Jerusalem. Gal. 4:25-26, “for this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all”. It should be remembered that Galatians is an Acts period epistle and when Paul wrote “mother of us all”, he was, of course not including a church which did not exist during the Acts period, and about which he knew nothing at the time.
Heb. 12:22, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…..”.
In my opinion, the Scriptures are clear as to who will live in the new Jerusalem, i.e. the faithful of Israel which includes, of course, all those Gentiles of the Old Testament period who were circumcised which made them Israelites, and believing Gentiles of the Acts period who were grafted into Israel. It also includes all the faithful who lived before Abraham.
WHO WILL LIVE OUTSIDE THE NEW JERUSALEM?
We read in the KJV the following translation of Rev. 21:24, “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it (i.e. the new Jerusalem), and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it”. We learn from this verse that those of the nations, i.e. Gentiles, will bring their glory and honour unto the new Jerusalem.
But let us turn our attention to the phrase “of them which are saved”. The note in the Companion Bible tells us that that phrase is not in the manuscripts. The phrase does not appear in the NASB or in the NIV translations. Therefore, this verse should read, ” the nations shall walk in the light of it”. I do not mean to suggest that this proves that unbelievers of the nations will live outside the new Jerusalem, but what it does not say is that all those outside the city are saved.
REV. 22:15 “FOR WITHOUT…..”
“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers. and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie”. Some understand the English word “without” to mean that dogs, sorcerers, etc. do not exist on the new earth. In order to understand this verse correctly we must understand the meaning of the Greek word translated “without”. That Greek word is “exo”. It is used many times by the Holy Spirit which gives us the opportunity to derive its meaning by how it is used.
Let us look at a few verses where “exo” is translated “without”, as it is in Rev. 22:15.
Matt. 12:46, “…..His mother and His brethren stood without desiring to speak with Him”. Obviously, His mother and brethren stood outside.
Mark 1:45, “…..Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places….”. Obviously, Jesus was outside the city.
Mark 4:11, “And He said unto them, ‘Unto you (the disciples) it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables”. Here the word means outside the circle of disciples.
Mark 11:4, “And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without……”. Obviously, the colt was outside.
Skipping now to the epistles, we read in I Cor.5:12, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?”. The context will show that it is unbelievers that are outside the company of believers.
Heb. 13:11, “For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought unto the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp”. Here too it is clear that the bodies are burned outside the camp.
The Greek word “exo” is never used in the sense of not existing. In point of fact, the English word “without” meant “outside” at the time that the KJV was first published. It is also worth noting that both the NASB and the NIV translate “exo” as “outside” in Rev. 22:15.
Therefore, I believe that we may conclude with certainty that Rev. 22:15 should read, “For outside are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers” etc.. The preceding verse speaks of the new Jerusalem and reads, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city“. It is clear from the context that the dogs, sorcerers and whoremongers etc. are outside the new Jerusalem. If they are outside the new Jerusalem then obviously, they are on the new earth.
Let us consider the phrase “whosoever loveth and maketh a lie”. Note that both verbs are in the present tense. That is to say, these who love and make lies are alive or they could not be said to love and make lies in the present tense.
The question posed in the title of this paper is, will unbelievers live on the new earth? Unless one is willing to say that those described as “dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers, idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” are believers, then the obvious answer to our question is yes, there will be unbelievers on the new earth. As we will see as we continue in this study, I believe that there will be unbelievers on the new earth for just the time of preparation, and they will eventually be cast into the lake of fire which will be on the new earth, outside the new Jerusalem.
WILL THE LAKE OF FIRE BE ON THE NEW EARTH?
We read in Rev. 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death”. Most believe that the lake of fire will be done away with at the time when the present earth will be destroyed. (The section below, i.e. “At What Point Will Death Be Cast Into The Lake Of Fire?” will show that death will be cast into the lake of fire after the establishment of the new heaven and new earth.) I believe that the lake of fire will be on the new earth. The Appendix of this paper discusses Is. 66 which also proves that the lake of fire will be on the new earth.
Let us set the time frame of Rev. 21:8 from the context. In verse 1 we read that John “saw the new heaven and the new earth”. We read in verse 5 of “He That sat upon the throne”, and what He that sat on the throne told John to write. In other words, He Who was on the throne that was on the new earth told John to write among other things, that “He that overcometh shall inherit all things”. That means, of course that the overcomers shall inherit all things which are described in the new Jerusalem which was on the new earth. Then in verse 8 we read that the abominable and murderers etc. “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone”.
What we learn from this passage is that 1) the throne was on the new earth, 2) the overcomer will inherit all things in the new Jerusalem which was on the new earth, 3) the others (murderers etc. ) will have their part in the lake of fire. The context will not allow us any other conclusion but that because the throne was on the new earth, the inheritance of the overcomers was on the new earth that the lake of fire was also on the new earth.
Not only is the context clear that the lake of fire is on the new earth but the verbs also tell us the same thing. Note that we read in Rev. 21:8 that some “shall have their part in the lake”. May I remind the reader that this is part of what John was commanded to write by the One on the throne. So the One on the throne, which was on the new earth told John to write of something that shall come to pass, i.e. that at some future point from the start of the new heaven and new earth some will have their part in the lake of fire. Obviously, if some outside the new Jerusalem (which is, of course, on the new earth) shall have their part in the lake of fire, the lake of fire must be on the new earth.
The reader will note that many of the characteristics named in Rev. 22:15 which are attributed to those “outside” the city are the same characteristics of those who “shall have their part” in the lake of fire. Rev. 22:15 names the following characteristic, (the characteristics that are common to both passages are in bold type) “dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers. and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie“. In other words, those who will be outside the new Jerusalem “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire”. They were alive outside the new Jerusalem, but shall have their part in the lake of fire, i.e. they will, at a time yet future from the beginning of the new earth, be cast into the lake of fire.
It has been suggested that this tells us that those outside the city are not living outside the city but are outside in the lake of fire. I disagree with that suggestion because the ones outside the city include those who “loveth and maketh a lie”. Note the present tense in the words “loveth” and “maketh”. That means that they will be alive outside the city, otherwise they could not have been loving (present tense) nor could they have been lying (present tense). But those of 21:8 “shall have (future tense) their part in the lake which burneth with fire”. They are not in the lake of fire when John saw them, but they shall be in the lake of fire some time in the future. In other words, the sorcerers and whoremongers etc. were not in the lake of fire, they were alive outside the city, but they will be cast into the lake of fire at some future point.
It has been argued that the future tense has no relation to the events in the vision but are being spoken to those to whom the whole prophecy was very much future. But what one must bear in mind is that John saw the events recorded in Revelation, not as future events, but as events of the present. Let me explain. We read in Rev. 1:10, “I was in the spirit on the Lords day…..”. That tells us that John was transported from the time in which he lived to the time of the Lord’s day. Therefore, he saw things as they were happening in his present, which was the Lord’s day.
Therefore, the tenses in Revelation must be understood in light of the fact that what was present for John is still future for us, and even for those who lived in John’s day. But that does not mean that we can just overlook the use of the tenses, past, present or future.
FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT THERE WILL BE, FOR A TIME, UNBELIEVERS ON THE NEW EARTH
SOME NOT ALLOWED INTO THE NEW JERUSALEM
Rev. 21:27, “and there shall in no wise enter into it (the new Jerusalem) any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie….”. Let us focus on the liars, murderers etc. on the new earth and we will see that they are the unbelievers of the nations, i.e. unbelieving Gentiles.
We have read of liars in Rev. 22:15 where we are told that they lived outside the new Jerusalem (“outside are dogs, whoremongers, murderers etc”). In Rev. 21:8 we have read of liars having their part in the lake of fire (but the fearful and unbelieving …..and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone…). In Rev. 21:27 we read of them once again. Here in Rev. 21:27 we learn that they will not be allowed into the new Jerusalem to defile the city, “and there shall in no wise enter into it (the new Jerusalem) any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie….”.
Why would we be told that defilers would not be allowed into the city if there were no defilers on the new earth? In my opinion the reason we are told that defilers will not be allowed entrance into the new Jerusalem is to assure us that even though there will be defilers on the new earth for a time, they will not be allowed to defile the new Jerusalem because they will not even be allowed entrance into it.
It has been suggested that this verse is drawing a contrast between the new Jerusalem and all the cities of the present earth. That is to say, some have suggested that the verse means that unlike all other cities of the present earth that had been defiled, the new Jerusalem will not be defiled. But again, what is the point if there are no defilers on the new earth? Also, the fact that we know from 22:15 that there will indeed be unbelievers on the new earth, I believe it makes much better sense to take 21:27 at face value, i.e. nothing that defiles will be allowed into the new Jerusalem.
THE LAKE OF FIRE ON THE NEW EARTH
Let us consider one more further proof that unbelievers will live on the new earth (at least for a time). As we learned above, some of those who will live outside the new Jerusalem will be unbelievers who will eventually be cast into the lake of fire. The very fact that the lake of fire is on the new earth and that some will eventually be cast into it, tells us that unbelievers will be on the new earth, at least for a time. (Again, Is. 66, which is discussed in the Appendix of this paper, will prove that the lake of fire will be on the new earth.)
THE MILLENNIAL PRECEDENCE
Precedence by itself does not prove a truth, but it can support truths that have Scriptural evidence. For that reason, I believe it might be helpful to explore the millennial reign of Christ, as it will prove to be a precedence for many characteristics of the new earth.
A TIME OF PREPARATION
It is assumed that once Christ returns the kingdom of Heaven will be immediately set up. But Scriptures show that there will be a time of preparation required before all the characteristics we associate with the millennium will be in evidence. For example, we read in Ezek. 39:12 of the millennium, “And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land“. Months of burial is not how we envision the millennium. But it is part of the preparation process in establishing millennial blessings.
The millennial temple will be built by Christ after He returns. We read in Zech. 6:12, “And speak unto him, saying, ‘…….Behold the Man Whose name is The Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne…….”. This is an obvious reference to the millennial temple as Christ has not built any other temple. This passage says that the millennial temple will be built by the Lord. We read in Dan. 8:14 that it will be 2,400 days for the temple to be “cleansed”, which in this case must include being built because the antichrist will destroy the temple (see Dan. 9:26). My point is that the building of the millennial temple is part of the time of preparation. So too, in my view, there will be a time of preparation before establishing the characteristics of the new Jerusalem throughout the entire new earth.
Another way in which the millennium sets a precedence for the new earth is that the millennial earth will also have unbelievers living on it. We read in Ezek. 20:38 that some of Israel will not be allowed in the Land for the millennial reign because of their rebelliousness. We are not told that they will be killed, only that they will not enter the Land. That means that these unbelievers will live outside the Land for the millennial reign.
And we read in many of the parables of Jesus Christ that some will be cast into “outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. The paper on this web-site The Kingdom Of Heaven will prove from Scripture that the outer darkness is the area wherein unbelievers will live outside the Land of Israel. That is to say, that those in the Land are believers and will enjoy all the millennial blessings with which we are all quite familiar including immortality. But outside the Land there will be unbelievers who will not enjoy those blessings and will, of course, not be immortal because they are unbelievers. Let me present just a few verses that prove that those outside the land of Israel will not receive the blessings enjoyed by those inside the Land.
Is. 60:2, “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you”.
Is. 33:24, “No one living in Zion will say, ‘I am ill’; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven”.
Is. 32:18-20, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your oxen and donkeys range free”. Note some catastrophes will occur, but not in Israel.
Is. 60:11-12,”Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations- For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined”.
I am suggesting that just as in the millennium, there will be believers in the land of Israel and unbelievers outside it, so too on the new earth there will be believers in the new Jerusalem and unbelievers outside the city (but only temporarily).
Yet another way that the millennium sets a precedence for the new earth is that some will not be allowed entrance into the millennial Jerusalem just as some will not be allowed entrance into the new Jerusalem. We read in Is. 52:1, “Awake, awake; put on thy strengthen, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall be no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean“. This is the same thought expressed in Rev. 21:27 in regard to the new Jerusalem, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life”.
AT WHAT POINT WILL DEATH BE CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE?
Rev. 20:11-15 speaks of the great white throne judgment. Verse 14 tells us that “death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, this is the second death”. If death was cast into the lake of fire before the new earth was created then the unbelievers who lived outside the new Jerusalem could not be cast into it. And yet, we have read in Rev. 22:15 that there will be unbelievers on the new earth and in Rev. 21:8 that they will be cast into the lake of fire. Because these are unbelievers, they do not have immortality and will therefore, die in the lake of fire.
For the sake of clarity I am going to list the events described in Rev. 20:11-15 in the order in which they are given.
John saw the great white throne
the earth fled away
John saw the dead stand before God
books were opened, including the book of life
the sea and the grave gave up the dead
the dead were judged
death and hell and those whose names were not in the book of life were cast into the lake of fire.
As we look at the events described above, it is clear that they are not given in chronological order. For example, we are told in verse 12 that John saw the dead stand before God, but we are told in the following verse, i.e. verse 13 that the sea and the grave gave up the dead. The dead could not stand before God before the sea and the grave gave them up, they must have done so afterward. In other words, the event of verse 13 (the sea and the grave gave up the dead) must have happened before the event of verse 12 (the dead stood before God). The point is that the events listed in these verse are not given in chronological order.
Along that same line of thought consider that the earth is said to have fled away in verse 11, but the sea gave up the dead in verse 13. Also combine that with 21:1 which tells us that there will be no more sea on the new earth. If the earth had fled away, and we know that it will be destroyed, then there would be no sea. If there will be no sea, then it could not give up the dead. Again, the point is only that the events of Rev. 20:11-15 are not given in chronological order.
In my opinion, the best way to understand this passage is to use our common sense and Scriptural context in determining the chronological order of the events listed in the passage.
1) John saw the great white throne.
2) The sea and the grave gave up the dead.
3) The dead stood before God.
4) The books were opened.
5) The dead were judged.
6) The earth fled away, and then
7) Death and hell, and all whose names were not written in the book of life were cast into the lake of fire.
The reader will note that I have listed the earth fleeing away before death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. Why? Because of the context. Rev. 21:8 comes in the context of the newly established new heaven and new earth (see 21:1). We read in 21:8 of those who “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone”. Note the future tense in the phrase “shall have”. In other words, while John was by the spirit on the new earth, he saw some having their part in the lake of fire as a yet future event. May I remind the reader that John is, through the spirit, in the Lord’s day, so the future tense is not used here because the Lord’s day is yet future. It is used here to say that at some point after the new earth is established some will be cast into the lake of fire. Therefore, because John writes of some having their part in the lake of fire as a future event while he is, through the spirit, on the new earth, death and hell cannot be cast into the lake of fire until some time after the new earth is established.
And this fits perfectly with the fact that some unbelievers who will live outside the new Jerusalem on the new earth will be cast into the lake of fire. That is to say, the earth will flee away and after an unrevealed length of time, the unbelievers who live outside the new Jerusalem and remain unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire along with death and hell.
A CONSIDERATION OF SCRIPTURES THAT SEEM TO SAY THAT THERE WILL NOT BE ANY UNBELIEVERS ON THE NEW EARTH
“NO MORE DEATH”
We read in Rev. 21:4, “And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away”.
We know that there are no contradictions in the Word of God. And yet we do read in Rev. 21:8 that some who will live on the new earth shall be cast into the lake of fire after the new earth is established. How can there be no more death and at the same time some will be cast into the lake of fire?
The answer to that question is found in the fact that Rev. 21:4 concerns the city of the new Jerusalem, not the entire new earth. We read in verses 2-4, “I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven…..and I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and there shall be no more death…..'”.
Let us also consider the phrase, “the tabernacle of God is with men”. We do know that there will be murderers etc. outside the city of the new Jerusalem. Is God going to “tabernacle” with those men? Of course not, but He will tabernacle with those in the new Jerusalem. In point of fact, the texts of that the phrase reads literally, “the tabernacle of God is with the men”. The definite article “the” limits the noun “men” to those of the context,i.e. ,men in the new Jerusalem.
GOD WILL BE ALL IN ALL
We read in I Cor. 15:28 that “God may be all in all”. Because there are unbelievers on the new earth, obviously God will not be all in all when the new earth is first established. The difficulty however, vanishes when one sees that the unbelievers will at some point either become believers or they will be cast into the lake of fire. In other words, just as we read in the section on the millennial precedence that the millennial reign went through a short preparation period, so too will the new earth go through a short preparation period. We might think of this as a period of grace, i.e. that period of time that will allow the unbelievers to accept God or be cast into the lake of fire.
After this “period of grace” the new earth will be occupied by believers only and then God will be all in all.
The same can be said for the fact that Christ has conquered death. That is to say, when the preparation period is completed on the new earth, there will be no more death on the entire earth, because it has been conquered by the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
“I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW”
One might object that we read in Rev. 21:5, “And He That sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new'”. Many take this to mean that God will make all things different. But the Greek word translated “new” is “kainos”. The Companion Bible defines the word as, “freshly made; young”. To be sure anything freshly made may be different from that before it, but the point is that the Holy Spirit does not use the word to denote “different” primarily, He uses the word to denote “young”, “freshly made”.
The usage will bear out the definition given in the Companion Bible. For example we read in Matt. 27:59-60, “And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb….”. This was not a different tomb, it was his own new, freshly made tomb.
The point is that the inspired word used to describe the newness of “all things” does not tell us that everything will be different, i.e. there will be no death, it tells us only that all things will be “freshly made”.
THE WATER OF LIFE
We read in Rev. 21:6. “And He said unto me, ‘It is done, I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely”. Many take this to say that all who are on the new earth will receive from the fountain of the water of life. If that were true then obviously there would not be any unbelievers on the new earth because they would certainly not be given the water of life so that they might live forever.
If, however we consider the context, I believe it will be clear that this passage does not say that everyone on the new earth will receive the water of life.
We read in verse 7, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall My son”. This tells us that the overcomer will inherit all these things, including the water of life. Unbelievers are certainly not overcomers and are not included in those who will be given the water of life.
Verse 8 tells us who will not be allowed the water of life, “But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone….”. Note that this verse begins with the word “but”. In other words there is a contrast between the overcomers who will be given the water of life freely, and those of verse 8 who will not be given the water of life.
1) Rev. 22:15 tells us that there will be unbelievers outside the new Jerusalem.
2) Because they are outside the new Jerusalem, they must be on the new earth
3) These unbelievers outside the new Jerusalem will eventually either accept God or be cast into the lake of fire which will issue in the time when there will be no more death and God will be all in all.
4) There is precedence for a preparation time on the new earth in that there will be a precedence for the millennium.
DOES REV. 22:15 REFER TO THE MILLENNIAL JERUSALEM OR TO THE NEW JERUSALEM?
Much has been written in this paper about the fact that Rev. 21:15 tells us quite specifically that there will be whoremongers etc. outside the new Jerusalem on the new earth. But that verse comes in the closing of the book and some have suggested that it may therefore be in reference to the millennial Jerusalem. That is to say, some suggest that because this verse comes in the closing portion of the book, that this portion is written from the viewpoint of John being in his own time (the Acts period) rather than being in the Lord’s day. If that were so then Rev. 22:15 would refer to those outside the millennial Jerusalem.
Let us begin by once again considering Rev. 22:15, “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosever loveth and maketh a lie”. As discussed in the main portion of this paper, this verse speaks of those outside the new Jerusalem. The question now is; “Can this refer to those outside the millennial Jerusalem”? One very compelling reason for my belief that the millennial Jerusalem is not the subject in this passage is that, as the paper on the millennium will prove from Scripture, there will be only believers allowed into the Land of Israel during the millennial reign of Christ. That is to say, Rev. 22:14 speaks of some not being allowed into “the city”. Those mentioned in verse 15 will be unbelievers outside “the city”, i.e. not outside the Land of Israel. There is nothing in the Word of God that suggests that there will be dogs, sorcerers, etc. outside Jerusalem in the millennial Israel.
Let us continue with a consideration of Rev. 22:10, where we read, “…..Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand”. (The phrase “the time is at hand” will be discussed below). If John was told that the sayings of “this book”, i.e. the book of Revelation, were not to be sealed, it is obvious that the book had already been written. If this verse had been recorded in the Acts period the book would not yet have been written, and the command to not seal it, would have made no sense at all
The same argument could be made about verse 19 which reads, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy….”. The prophecy must have been already written or this would make no sense.
But how are we to understand the phrase in verse 10, “for the time is at hand”, and a similar phrase in verse 12, “Behold I come quickly”, and in verse 20 we read, “Surely, I come quickly”? Were these statements recorded in the Acts period or were they recorded while John was in the Lord’s day? I believe the paragraphs above prove that they were recorded while John was in the Lord’s day. That being the case, we might ask, “If John wrote those things while in the Lord’s day, to what time period was he referring in saying that these things would happen quickly? For the answer to that question let us consider the early chapters of Revelation which have to do with the letters to the seven churches.
Let us first establish that the seven letters to the seven churches were written while John was in the Lord’s day. We read in Rev. 1:10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and there behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet”. Verses 11 to the end of the chapter records what John heard and saw while he was in the Lord’s day. Then chapters two and three record the letters that were sent to the seven churches.
The seven letters were, in essence, a warning of the impending great tribulation. Consider, for example verse 5, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent”. Consider also that at the end of every one of the seven letters is a promise made to “he that overcometh” (see 2:7, 11,17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21).
Obviously, these letters were written as a warning concerning the great tribulation. I suggest that the reason that Christ said on several occasions that these things that were prophesied would happen shortly was to give these churches the opportunity to prepare for that tribulation in accordance with the warning they had received. In short, there will be a short time between the churches receiving their letters and the beginning of the prophecies recorded in Revelation.
APPENDIX: A STUDY OF OTHER SCRIPTURES THAT SPEAK OF THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH
We read in Is. 65:17-20, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her People a joy: and I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My People; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not fulfilled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed”.
Because this passage speaks of death on the new earth most have applied the phrase “new heaven and new earth” to the millennium. For example, in the note in the Companion Bible on the word translated “new” in the passage quoted above we read in part, “new in respect to the old”. In other words, the Hebrew word translated “new” should be understood to mean “different from something that preceded it”, rather than “new”. After considering how the Holy Spirit uses that Hebrew word, I agree with Dr. Bullinger’s suggestion. But we must also consider the Hebrew word translated “create”.
The Hebrew word translated “create” in Is. 65:17-18 is “bara”. It is used of the creation of the heaven and earth eleven times. It is used of the creation of man fifteen times. It is used of the creation of Israel two times and the creation of the Jerusalem of Is. 65 two times, and of Lucifer two times. It is also used one time each of “clouds and smoke“, of waters and trees of the millennium, of the situation of a woman encompassing a man (Israel encompassing Her Husband), of “great whales“, of darkness, of evil, of fruit of life, of wind, of the covenant, of secret things, and of a generation to come.
It is clear that none of those things which were created (bara) were merely different than what preceded it. For example when we read in Gen. 1:1 that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, God did not create something that was different than what preceded it because there was nothing that preceded it. When God created man, God did not make something that was different than what preceded it, God created man as something entirely new, i.e. a being created in the image of God. Israel was an entirely new creation, not a nation made different from a preceding nation. Lucifer was created as a unique being, not merely different from a being that preceded him.
I am not suggesting that what was created may not have been different, but the Hebrew word “bara” does not mean “different”, it means “create”, which implies something that is brand new, not something that is just different than what preceded it. In fact let us consider Dr. Bullinger’s note in the Companion Bible on the word “bara” as it occurs in Ps. 51:10. That verse reads, “Create in my a clean heart, O God…….”. The note in the Companion Bible reads, “Create. Heb. ‘bara’, as in Gen. 1:1. The new heart is not the old one changed, but newly created; i.e. begotten by God, as in John 3:6-8″.
It is clear that “bara” is not used in the sense of something that had been made different than something that preceded it. The millennial heaven will not be a new creation. In fact the millennial earth will not be a new creation, it was different than what preceded it, but it was not a new creation. And the same is true of the millennial Jerusalem. That is to say, the millennial Jerusalem will not be a new creation, it will be only different from the Jerusalem that preceded it. Therefore, because we cannot use the word “bara” in reference to the millennial Jerusalem or to the millennial heaven or the millennial earth, Is. 65:17-29 cannot refer to the millennial heaven and earth. Therefore, it must refer to the new heavens and earth of Rev. 21.
We read in Is. 65:20 that “the sinner, being an hundred years old shall be accursed“. But we read in Rev. 22:3, “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it….”. To what does the “it” refer? Verses 1-2 answers that question. We read in verse 2, “In the midst of the street of it“. The street is in the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is the subject of this passage from 21:10-22:5. Is there a contradiction between Is. 65:20 and Rev. 22:3? Of course not. Rev. 22:3 tells us that there will be no curse in the new Jerusalem. Is. 65: 20 speaks of a sinner who is accursed. Obviously, the sinner is accursed by being cast out of the new Jerusalem. Let us look more carefully at Is. 65:20 for the evidence of that statement.
“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed”. The important word here is the word “but” in the phrase, “but the sinner” which is put in contrast by the word “but” to the child who dies at one hundred. In other words, the child who dies at a hundred must be living outside the new Jerusalem. How do we know that? We know that because only believers will be living in the new Jerusalem and believers will have put on immortality when they are resurrected or raptured. The sinner of one hundred years who lived in the new Jerusalem will not die, but he will be accursed. How will he be accursed? He will not die, but I believe he will be cast out of the new Jerusalem.
The point is that one who is living in the new Jerusalem and sins, may be “accursed” by being cast out of the new Jerusalem. This can very well explain Rev. 3:12, which Mr. Charles Welch translates as, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out, and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God”. We see in this verse that the overcomer of the tribulation shall not be in any danger of being cast out of the new Jerusalem. Surely that is meant as a blessing. Why is that a blessing? Obviously, some will be in danger of being cast out of the new Jerusalem. So one who is not an overcomer, but who sins, may be cast out of the new Jerusalem as punishment of that sin.
In other words, while the “child” living outside the new Jerusalem may die at a hundred years of age, the sinner who had lived in the city and therefore must have been a believer, may be cast out of the new Jerusalem, but will not die.
Most tend to focus on the fact that some will die at one hundred years because it is so surprising to read of death on the new earth. But the real point of this passage in Is. 65 is that the one who sins in the new Jerusalem will not die, but only be accursed. Let us back up to verse two in order to establish that point. “And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My People; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed”.
In the sections above we compared the preparation period of the millennium to that of the new earth and saw that there were many things in common. So too, we read in Ps. 101:8 of the millennium, “I will early destroy all the wicked of the land: that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord”. The note in the Companion Bible on the word “early” reads, “morning by morning: i.e. the judgments of a day dealt with within the day….”. In other words, in the millennium, evil doers will be cast out of the holy city, i.e. the millennial Jerusalem. And so too will those who sin be cast out of the new Jerusalem on the new earth.
Coming back to Isaiah 65; that is a rather complex chapter and it would therefore behoove us to consider it more fully. For example, we read in verse 25, “…and dust shall be the serpent’s meat”. Given all that the serpent represents, I do not believe that the serpent will be in the new Jerusalem. Let us consider Is. 65 from verses 9 to the end of the chapter.
We read in verses 9-10, “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of My mountains: and Mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for My People that have sought Me”. Note that Jacob and Judah will be the inheritors of “My holy mountain”. This, in my opinion, is clearly a millennial prophecy.
The next several verses (i.e. 11 through 16) are promises to the faithful for millennial blessings but a rebuke to the unfaithful. Note verse 11 which reads, “But ye are they that forsake the Lord…”. Note the contrasting word “but” that opens this passage. Note also verse 13, “My servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty…”. And verse 14 reads, “My servants shall sing, but ye shall cry for sorrow…”.
Then we have in verses 17-20 the prophecy concerning the new Jerusalem. However, I believe that verses 21-25 speak of the millennium. The reason for that belief is based on a few key phrases that point to the millennium rather than the new Jerusalem. Note for example verse 21 which reads, “they shall plant vineyards”. Rev. 21:21 tells us that the streets of the new Jerusalem will be gold and would therefore make planting vineyards improbable, to say the least. Note also verse 22 where we read that they will “enjoy the work of their hands”. We read in Gen. 3:19, “….by the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread….”. This verse is part of the punishment that God put on Adam for his disobedience. Therefore, I believe that there will be no such toil in the new Jerusalem. Note also verse 23, “they shall not labour in vain”. Again, labor was part of Adam’s punishment and I do not believe that punishment will continue through the new Jerusalem.
In short, we have in Is. 65:9-10 a millennial prophecy, and in verses 11-16 we have the millennial blessings of the faithful contrasted with the rebuke of the unfaithful, verses 17-20 speak of the new Jerusalem and verses 21-25 are millennial.
It is true that there are only the phrases themselves that indicate a change of prophecy, but while that is not something that is often done in Scripture, it is not without precedence. Consider for example, Ezek. Chapters 38-39. We read in 38:8, “…in the later years thou (Gog, the nations) shall come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people…and they shall dwell safely all of them. Thou shall ascend and come like a storm, thou shall be like a cloud to cover the land…”. This is an obvious reference to the nations coming against Israel after the end of the millennium when Satan is loosed for a short time (see Rev. 20:7-9). How do we know that? Note for example the phrase “in the later years”. One must ask, “In the later years of what? Given that this passage speaks of Israel as already “gathered” I believe this verse refers to the latter years of the millennium for which they will be gathered. But we read in 39:12, “And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land”. This verse cannot be in reference to the battle after the millennium because we read of the in Jer. 25:33, “And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried: they shall be dung upon the earth”. There would be no need to bury the ones of which Jeremiah wrote because the earth will “pass away” and be replaced by the new earth after the millennium. That tells us that Jeremiah wrote of the battle at the end of the millennium and will not bury the dead and that Ezekiel wrote of the battle at the beginning of the millennium because those dead will be buried for seven months. But verses 25-29 are about the millennium. How do we know that? We read in verse 27, “When I have brought them again from the people (plural “nations”), and gathered them out of their enemies lands….then shall they know that I am the Lord their God….”. This verse speaks of Israel being brought out from the nations which will happen before the millennium (see Ezek. 20:33-44).
In short we have in the space of two chapters prophecy concerning a time after the millennium, followed by prophecy concerning a time before the millennium, followed by a prophecy concerning the millennium itself.
Matt. 24 is a New Testament prophecy that is also not given in strict chronological order. Verses 30-31 speak of the coming of Christ in the clouds, verse 30, “….they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds”. But verses 40-46 speak of watching for His return which is, of course, before He appears in the clouds.
Also, as discussed above, the passages concerning the lake of fire are not given in chronological order.
As to why the Holy Spirit would write prophecy this way I cannot say. But He has done so and in my opinion, we need to be aware that He has so that we are not led into assuming that He is in any way obligated to write prophecy in one particular way.
We read in Is. 66:22, “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain”. The Hebrew word translated “make” in the phrase “which I will make” is not “bara” so this could refer to the millennium as many believe it does. But let us consider the point of this verse.
The point is that just as the new heavens and new earth shall remain before God, so too will Israel’s seed remain. But the millennial heaven and earth will last only 1,000 years, while the new heavens and new earth of Rev. 21 has no end. It seems to me therefore, more logical to conclude that the new heavens and new earth of Rev. 21 are in view here, as that would make the point much better than if the millennial heavens and earth were in view.
Let us also note verse 23, “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord”. Many interpret this also to be millennial because of Rev. 22:5 which reads, “And there shall be no night there; and they will need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light….”. Does this tell us that there will be no sun or moon in the new heavens? No, it tells us only that there will be no need for them. In fact verse 2 tells us that fruit was yielded “every month“. The fact that there will be months on the new earth implies that there will indeed be a moon, even if there was no need of it’s light.
Now let us consider Is. 66:24, “and they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh”. The part of this verse that is in bold type is quoted in Mark 9:44, 46 and 48. Let us look at Mark 9:43-44 which reads, “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
The Greek word translated “not quenched” is also used in Matt. 3:12 where we read, “Whose (Christ’s) fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner: but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire”. Obviously, the point here is that this fire will never die, it is “unquenchable”.
Mark 9 43 speaks of going into “hell”. The Greek word translated “hell” in this verse is “Gehenna”. E.W. Bullinger writes the following paragraphs about Gehenna in his Companion Bible, Appendix number 131. “This is the transliteration of the Heb. Gai Hinnom, i.e. the Valley of Hinnom or ‘the Valley ‘ of [the sons of] Hinom, where were the fires through which children were passed in the worship of Moloch. In the Old Testament ‘Tophet’ was the Hebrew word used, because it was a place in this valley. In our Lord’s day the idolatry had ceased, but the fires were still continually burning there for the destruction of the refuse of Jerusalem. Hence, “gehenna” was used for the fire of destruction associated with the judgment of God”. An Old Testament study of Gehenna will show that Dr. Bullinger is quite correct, but we will not digress at this point.
The question before us in this study is: at what point is this judgment to be meted out? That is to say, if the judgment of which our Lord spoke in Mark 9 refers to the judgment before the millennial reign then the fire that is not quenched is not the lake of fire. On the other hand, if the judgment of which our Lord spoke in Mark 9 is not the judgment before the millennium, this unquenchable fire is the lake of fire on the new earth. Let us search the Scripture for the answer to this question.
As we learned above from Dr. Bullinger’s quote from the Companion Bible, Gehenna was a place where the refuse of Jerusalem was burnt. But the fires of Gehenna, because they are no longer burning today, were indeed quenchable. For that reason alone, we can not conclude that it was the literal Gehenna of which our Lord spoke in Mark nine. If it wasn’t the literal Gehenna, what was it?
I believe that “Gehenna” is used as a type and the lake of fire is the antitype. That is to say, when Christ spoke to those about being cast into Gehenna, they would know exactly what was intended as they were all too aware of Gehenna as a type.
So in Is. 66:22 we have mention of the new heavens and the new earth which, for the reasons given above cannot refer to the millennial reign and therefore must be understood as the new heavens and new earth of the Rev. 21. And we have in the very context, i.e. verse 24, the mention of a fire that cannot be quenched, i.e. the lake of fire. Surely that tells us that the lake of fire will be on the new earth.
II Peter 3:13
There is one verse that should, in the interest of truth, be addressed. That verse is II Peter 3:13, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”. This seems to contradict Is. 65 which tells us that the sinner will be cast out of the new Jerusalem, telling us that there will be sin on the new earth. There is, of course, no contradiction between Is. 65 and II Peter 3, but we must search the Scriptures in order to reconcile these two passages
I believe the answer to our seeming contradiction is found in the Greek word translated “dwelleth” in the phrase “wherein dwelleth righteousness”. The NIV has “the home of righteousness”. And the note in the Companion Bible directs us to Acts 2:5 where the note on the word “dwelling” (same word in the Greek as in II Peter 3) reads, “Not sojourners….but Jews of the dispersion who had taken their abode at Jerusalem….”. In other words, the Greek word implies a permanent home, which supports the NIV translation. It is also interesting to note that there are other Greek words that are translated “home” but they are more often translated “house” or “present”. My point again, is that the NIV translation does have merit.
So what does that tell us in terms of the new earth? Again, Isaiah does tell us that the sinner will be cast out of the new Jerusalem on to the new earth. But because the sinners, who are believers or they could not be in the new Jerusalem to begin with, will not die and therefore will be on the new earth, I believe the answer to our seeming contradiction is that while the new earth will be the home of righteousness, it does not exclude the fact that sinners will exist on it. That is to say, the new earth will be the home of righteousness which implies that righteousness will be prevalent, but that verse does not exclude sinners from living on the new earth. One might consider this in terms of Abraham who, we are told in Heb. 11:13 were “strangers and pilgrims on the earth”. In other words, they lived on the earth, but earth was not their home. So too the new earth will be the home of righteousness, but unrighteousness will exist there.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail be at: firstname.lastname@example.org