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V. 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.
Καὶ τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἁγίαν, ̔Ιερουσαλὴμ καινήν, εἶδον καταβαίνουσαν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἡτοιμασμένην ὡς νύμ. φην κεκοσμημένην τῷ ἀνδρὶ αὐτῆς·
§ 464. And I John,' &c.-The name John is not met with here in all editions of the Greek. The omission is not material, except that the formal introduction of the name appears to imply some peculiar discrimination not perhaps intended. Reading these two first verses in connection with the close of the last chapter, and in the Greek order, it will be perceived that all here described is supposed to take place contemporaneously; even the things seen are not so much different things as they are old things renovated, or made new-seen in a new light: "And if any one was not found in the book of life, he (or it) was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw heaven new and earth new, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, (second aorist,) and the sea is no longer (present.) And the city the holy, Jerusalem new, I saw descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride decorated for her husband," &c.
The holy city, new Jerusalem.'-This holy city, although not the same, may be said to occupy the same site as that once trodden under foot by the Gentiles, (Rev. xi. 2.) It must be also the beloved city mentioned in the preceding chapter as encompassed by the Gentiles or nations, (in jeopardy from the forces led on by the accuser ;)-" the city of my God," as it is called, Rev. iii. 12, and the city without the gates of which the winepress was trodden, (§ 343.) This city has been mentioned but once
The apostle uses this prediction as an argument to influence those to whom his epistle was then addressed, as well as all coming after them. It could hardly be considered an argument, to state to them that some one or two thousand years after they had passed from this state of existence, the earth, with its surrounding atmosphere, was to be literally destroyed; but, in the sense in which we construe it here, it was an argument, because, in this sense, it was as immediately interesting to every disciple of the apostle's time as it is to us of the present day, and as it must be to all that come after us.
At the time of writing the Epistle, too, there were supposed to be but four physical elements, fire, air, earth, and water; and to give his language the ordinary construction, would be to suppose the three last elements, air, earth, and water, melted by the first element. The elements alluded to by Peter, we apprehend to be the same as those spoken of by Paul, Gal. iv. 3: "Even so we, when we were children, [as to our understanding of revealed truth,] were in bondage under the elements of the world;" and ninth verse, "But now, after ye have known God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage?" As if it were said, How is it that ye look back to the elements of self-justification, peculiar to the old heavens and the old earth, instead of looking forward to the new position of justification, through the imputed righteousness to be found in the new heaven and the new earth?
before ($100) in connection with the appellation now given to it, the new Jerusalem; and, with this exception, the present is the first passage in which that appellation has occurred in the Apocalypse.
We have already thrown out the suggestion that this city is a figure or symbol of the economy of grace, (§§ 100, 238,) in a certain sense denominated the church, (Eph. v. 32,) but not immediately the aggregate multitude of believers. The name Jerusalem, signifying the vision of peace, very happily illustrates what we understand by this apocalyptic city, comprehending as it does, a view of the whole scheme of redemption, by which peace or reconciliation between the sinner and his offended God is established. Such an economy or vision, although it does not represent the body of disciples themselves, represents that which constitutes them a body in the sight of God—that which identifies the multitude of the redeemed with the Redeemer; the economy of grace being the instrument in this work, (§ 466,) and Jerusalem (the vision of peace) the representation of this instrument or
The economy of grace itself has been always the same, but the vision by which it has been represented has varied. Jerusalem was literally destroyed and trodden under foot when the Jews were carried to Babylon, but its site remained; and upon the restoration, when the city was rebuilt, although in one sense it was a new city, it was in another sense Jerusalem new, or the old city renovated-the site giving to both cities the attribute of identity. So this economy itself, which is nothing less than the divine purpose of grace-unchangeable as the mind of God-is like "Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth forever." The exhibition of this unchangeable purpose, however, as contemplated by man, like Jerusalem before and after the restoration, has a new and old appearance: the one as different from the other as a new city may be from an old one, although on
the same site.
$465. Coming down from God out of heaven.'-Comparing this description with Gal. iv. 22-27, we must be convinced that the new Jerusalem of John is the Jerusalem which is above,—ἡ ἄνω ̔Ιερουσαλὴμ of Paul: the latter speaking of the holy city as in heaven, not yet revealed, and the former as being revealed. We may safely, therefore, refer to Paul for an understanding of what is represented by this holy city; both apostles speaking by the inspiration of the same spirit.
"Tell me," says Paul, "ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free woman. But he (who was) of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory for these are the two covenants; the one from mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 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. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not; for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free," (the Jerusalem above.)
Here is something said to be allegorized, Ατινά ἐστιν ἀλληγορούμενα. The apostle evidently does not mean that this whole history is merely an instructive fable, according to the idea usually associated at the present day with the term allegory. His meaning very obviously is, that the facts here related have an allegorical purport-as we should say of the whole history of the Hebrew nation, including the present dispersed state of that people among all nations, that it is an allegory; and we might apply the same term to the history of mankind, as contained in the whole book of Genesis, without intending to imply a disbelief in the reality of the facts narrated.
The apostle further declares these two women to be (to represent) two covenants or testaments: αὗται εἰσι δύο διαθῆκαι. Not two assemblies of persons, but two testamentary arrangements, plans, or economies; as the Greek term diana properly signifies, (§ 264, note.) One of these women -the female slave Hagar-is put for the economy emanating from Mount Sinai, or the legal dispensation, the tendency of which is to create a position of bondage; the children of the female slave, according to the law of slavery, being slaves, whatever may have been the condition of their fathers. Corresponding with this figure, those who are of the law are in a state of slavery their only motive of action must be that of fear, as if driven by the whip of the task-master. On the principles of law, they can do nothing but what it is their duty to do, and punishment awaits the smallest act of disobedience; to offend in one point, is to be guilty of all. Analogous with this the principles of the legal economy may be also spoken of as the children or offspring of bondage.*
* Children, as already noticed, are typically figures of merits or righteousnesses, (means of justification.) Corresponding with this, we take Isaac-the fruit of promise, as well as of the marriage covenant-to represent that righteousness which is the offspring of grace, or of the covenant of grace; while Ishmael, whose hand was against every man, and every man's hand against him, represents pretensions to righteousness (works, the offspring of the law) interchangeably hostile to each other;
But the bond-maid Hagar, according to Paul, not only represents the mountain in Arabia, but both Sinai and Agar are put for the city Jerusalem, as it was in the time of the apostles, (7ñ võv Iegovoahu,) in bondage to the Romans calling herself free indeed, (John viii. 33,) but really in a state of abject servitude ; δουλεύει γὰρ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὑτῆς, for she labours as a slave with her children. Jerusalem thus in bondage corresponds with what might be termed a view of the economy of grace legalized, or misrepresented as a legal dispensation. There are here, therefore, three several typical figures of the legal economy, Hagar, Mount Sinai, and Jerusalem, under a foreign yoke. The opposites of these are not so distinctly set forth, but we have the means of identifying them from other portions of Scripture.
That Sarah is put for the economy of grace is very plainly implied from the manner in which her opposite Hagar is spoken of; and that Mount Zion, or Sion, in a spiritual sense, (the heavenly Sion,) is an opposite of Sinai in the wilderness, as well as that the heavenly Jerusalem (the city of my God) is an opposite of the earthly Jerusalem, we gather from Heb. xii. 18, 22: "For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched and that burned with fire," &c. . . . "But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem;" or, as the same apostle elsewhere expresses it, "Ye are not under the law but under grace,” (Rom. vi. 14, 16.) Sarah, Mount Sion, and the heavenly Jerusalem, are thus opposites of Agar, Mount Sinai, and Jerusalem in bondage; that is, these
as those to whom it was given, under the Rider of the red horse, "that they should kill one another."
The child of bondage was born according to the flesh; that is, according to the common course of nature; representing the offspring of man's position by nature, as under the law, and labouring to justify himself by works of the law. The child of promise was born out of the course of nature, by an immediate exercise of divine power; born because promised, and promised as a matter of gift; representing the offspring of man's position by grace, which offspring is the imputed righteousness or merits of his Saviour.
The two children thus represent primarily, disciples themselves as under the law, and as under grace; secondarily, or apocalyptically, the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith: pretended merits arising from a pretended fulfilment of the law by the disciple, and imputed merits arising from a vicarious fulfilment of the law by the Redeemer. The first sense is that attached to the ordinary interpretation of the Scriptures, and corresponds with what Paul terms the letter, and with what we suppose to be understood in the apocalypse by a mid-heaven revelation; the last or spiritual interpretation corresponds with what Paul denominates the Spirit, and the view presented by the third heaven, and with what the Apocalypse ascribes to the appearance of the new heaven and the new earth, (that is, the heaven and the earth in their third sense.)
The difference will be perceived by carrying out the analogy: "Cast out the bond-w man and her son," it is said; "for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman." Adopting the ordinary sense alone, not only
are series of figures of two opposite covenants or testaments. Our conclusion is, therefore, that the holy, or new Jerusalem, or holy city mentioned in this verse of the Apocalypse, represents the new covenant, or testament of grace, and not the community of believers themselves, as might otherwise be supposed. To see this holy city coming down out of the new heaven from God, is equivalent to perceiving in the written revelation of the divine will, spiritually understood, this dispensation of grace in its proper light, free from the shackles of a legal or literal interpretation, and appearing, as it is, immediately the gift of God. This also may be considered a result of the entire new views incident to the passing away of the old heaven and earth, and of the coming in of the new, one exhibition being necessarily involved in the other.
§ 466. Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.'—It is not yet stated expressly that this holy city is the bride; but we find it to be directly so implied in the ninth and tenth verses of the chapter. The truth is gradually developed. We first find, from a comparison of Scripture with Scripture, that the new Jerusalem is the mother of us all, (Gal. iv. 26,) and afterwards that she is identic with the bride; whence we draw the inference that the bride is the mother of us all. In other words, the covenant of grace, represented by the New Jerusalem, and by the bride, is the mother of us all; the redeemed of every sect and denomination, however they may nominally differ, becoming the children of God by virtue of this testamen
the covenant itself is cast out, but all who have been labouring, under a misapprehension of their true position, to work out a righteousness of their own, are cast out with it; which strictly construed, according to the views we have presented of the mixed, as well as of the legal system, would leave scarcely an individual not cast out, even of those most anxious upon the subject of their eternal interests; but if we adopt the third sense as the enduring sense-that afforded by the new heaven-it is then the pretensions to merit under the legal covenant, and not the mistaken disciple, that are cast out or rejected-the error and not the errorist, that is the object of denunciation: a discrimination comprehended, we think, in Paul's declaration, that the letter (the ordinary sense) killeth, while the spirit or spiritual sense giveth life.
On the other hand it will be said, in the same sense, it is the imputed righteousness of Christ, and not the disciple himself that is the heir represented by the child of promise. And so we say it is. The imputed righteousness of Christ possesses or carries with it the title to eternal life and happiness: and it is by virtue of this imputed righteousness, that the disciple participates in these eternal benefits. Christ is the heir, and it is only by adoption in Christ that the disciple also becomes an heir. The merits of Christ are the means of justification, and it is only by a participation in these merits, that the disciple shares in this justification: Christ is the promised seed-the child of promise-the inheritor of all things. The disciple's hope is to be found in Christ, not having on his own righteousness, which is of the law, (the offspring of the covenant of bondage,) but having on the righteousness of God. As if the apostle had said, So then, brethren, in Christ and not in ourselves, we are children, not of the bond-woman, but of the free.