And I saw a new heaven and a new earth - Such a heaven and earth that they might properly be called new; such transformations, and such changes in their appearance, that they seemed to be just created. He does not say that they were created now, or anew; that the old heavens and earth were annihilated; but all that he says is, that there were such changes that they seemed to be new. If the earth is to be renovated by fire, such a renovation will give an appearance to the globe as if it were created anew, and might be attended with such an apparent change in the heavens that they might be said to be new. The description here Revelation 21:1 relates to scenes after the general resurrection and the judgment - for those events are detailed in the close of the previous chapter. In regard to the meaning of the language here, see the notes on II Peter 3:13. Compare, also, "The Religion of Geology and its Connected Sciences," by Edward Hitchcock, D. D., LL. D., pp. 370-408.
For the first heaven and the first earth were passed away - They had passed away by being changed, and a renovated universe had taken their place. See the notes on II Peter 3:10.
And there was no more sea - This change struck John more forcibly, it would appear, than anything else. Now, the seas and oceans occupy about three-fourths of the surface of the globe, and, of course, to that extent prevent the world from being occupied by people - except by the comparatively small number that are mariners. There, the idea of John seems to be, the whole world will be inhabitable, and no part will be given up to the wastes of oceans. In the present state of things, these vast oceans are necessary to render the world a fit abode for human beings, as well as to give life and happiness to the numberless tribes of animals that find their homes in the waters. In the future state, it would seem, the present arrangement will be unnecessary; and if man dwells upon the earth at all, or if he visits it as a temporary abode (see the notes on II Peter 3:13), these vast wastes of water will be needless. It should be remembered that the earth, in its changes, according to the teachings of geology, has undergone many revolutions quite as remarkable as it would be if all the lakes, and seas, and oceans of the earth should disappear. Still, it is not certain that it was intended that this language should be understood literally as applied to the material globe. The object is to describe the future blessedness of the righteous; and the idea is, that that will be a world where there will be no such wastes as those produced by oceans.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Revelation 21:1:
2 Peter 3:13
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