And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven - See the Analysis of the chapter. On the phrase "new Jerusalem," see the Galatians 4:26 note, and Hebrews 12:22 note. Here it refers to the residence of the redeemed, the heavenly world, of which Jerusalem was the type and symbol. It is here represented as "coming down from God out of heaven." This, of course, does not mean that this great city was "literally" to descend upon the earth, and to occupy any one part of the renovated world; but it is a symbolical or figurative representation, designed to show that the abode of the righteous will be splendid and glorious. The idea of a city literally descending from heaven, and being set upon the earth with such proportions - three hundred and seventy miles high Revelation 21:16, made of gold, and with single pearls for gates, and single gems for the foundations - is absurd. No man can suppose that this is literally true, and hence this must be regarded as a figurative or emblematic description. It is a representation of the heavenly state under the image of a beautiful city, of which Jerusalem was, in many respects, a natural and striking emblem.
Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband - See the notes on Isaiah 49:18; Isaiah 61:10. The purpose here is, to represent it as exceedingly beautiful. The comparison of the church with a bride, or a wife, is common in the Scriptures. See the Revelation 19:7-8 notes, and Isaiah 1:21 note. It is also common in the Scriptures to compare a city with a beautiful woman, and these images here seem to be combined. It is a beautiful city that seems to descend, and this city is itself compared with a richly-attired bride prepared for her husband,
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Revelation 21:2:
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