The Hearing of Faith
In this two-part article, we will cover a great matter mentioned in the Bible, the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is profoundly rich in significance. In Part 1 we explore the Father’s house, His dwelling place, as one aspect of the New Jerusalem.
Paul tells us that the church is the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15) and that corporately the believers are the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16), and Peter says that the believers in Christ are living stones of this spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5). In John 14:2 the Lord said, “In My Father’s house are many abodes.” Abodes is the correct translation in John 14:2. The same word is used in the singular in verse 23 where the Lord said that He and the Father would make an abode with the one who loved Him. In the Father’s house, the Body of Christ, there are many abodes, many dwelling places. Each member of the Body of Christ is an abode, a dwelling place, of God. God dwells in each of us who have received Him in Christ.
The Lord Jesus went on to say, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way....I am the way....no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:2-6). What did the Lord mean when He said that He was going to prepare a place for the disciples, so that where He was, they also could be? The Lord was about to go to prepare a place in God the Father through His death and resurrection. He is the way to God the Father; He is in the Father (vv. 10-11); and His desire is that we would be in the Father also (17:21). Through His death and resurrection we have been brought into the Father God. For this reason, Paul addressed the church of the Thessalonians as being “in God the Father” (1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes. 1:1).
For more than nineteen centuries the Lord has been building up the church as the Body of Christ, which is God’s spiritual house. When this spiritual house is fully built up through the believers’ growth and transformation in the divine life, the built-up Body of Christ will become Christ’s bride. When the bride is prepared, Christ the Bridegroom will return. This bride will be the wife of the Lamb, the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:2 says that the New Jerusalem is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” and verse 9 says that this holy city is “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” The New Jerusalem is not a literal city, but a great figure, signifying the totality of all God’s chosen and redeemed people throughout the ages who have been transformed and built up in the divine life to be His wife for eternity.
From Issue No. 9, January 1999
The key to understanding the meaning of the New Jerusalem is in Revelation 1:1, which says that the book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ, and that this revelation was made known to John by signs. This word sign is critical. Signs are symbols with spiritual significance. All the major items of revelation in the book of Revelation are signs, symbols. They are not to be taken literally. For instance, the lampstands in Revelation 2 and 3 are symbols, not actual lampstands, signifying the seven churches in Asia. In Revelation 1:20, the seven stars are not seven literal stars, but symbols signifying the messengers of the churches, those who bear the spiritual responsibility in the churches. In Revelation 5:6 we see Christ is the Lamb of God, but He is not a literal lamb with four legs and a tail. His being the Lamb is a symbol with spiritual significance.
The ultimate sign in the book of Revelation is the New Jerusalem, a symbol with tremendous spiritual significance as the ultimate conclusion of the entire Bible. The New Jerusalem is not a material, lifeless city. The New Jerusalem signifies a great, wonderful person. Who is this person? Revelation 21:2 says, “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Verse 9 also refers to the New Jerusalem as the bride, the wife of the Lamb. Thus, the New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ. She is composed of all God’s redeemed people throughout the ages, who corporately become Christ’s wife, so that they can be in a marriage union with Him as their Husband for eternity. This is the ultimate consummation of the divine romance in the Bible. God always wanted to be a husband to His people, and He likened His people to His wife. The Bible opens in Genesis with a husband and a wife, Adam and Eve (typifying Christ and the church—Eph. 5:31-32), and it ends in Revelation with Christ the Husband, and the holy city as the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ.
We also see in Revelation that the New Jerusalem is the mutual dwelling place of God and His redeemed people. On the one hand, we, as God’s redeemed people, are the tabernacle for God to dwell in (Rev. 21:3). On the other hand, God is the temple for us to dwell in. When John looked at the New Jerusalem, he said, “I saw no temple in it, the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22). The New Jerusalem is a mutual abode where the Triune God dwells in us as the tabernacle, and we dwell in Him as the temple. The New Jerusalem as the wife of Christ is the tabernacle for God as the Husband to dwell in, and God as the Husband is the temple for the wife as the tabernacle to dwell in. Therefore, the New Jerusalem is a wonderful corporate person. This holy city is the Triune God dwelling in His redeemed people, and His redeemed people dwelling in Him in a marvelous marriage union, which will express the Triune God in all His riches for His glory forever and ever.
For further reading on this subject, please see God’s New Testament Economy; Life-study of Revelation; and The Application of the Interpretation of the New Jerusalem to the Seeking Believers, published by Living Stream Ministry.
From Issue No. 10, February 1999