New Jerusalem is a Sign Full of Spiritual Significance

The book of Revelation begins, “The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him to show to His slaves the things that must quickly take place; and He made it known by signs, sending it by His angel to His slave John, who testified the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, even all that he saw” (1:1-2).

The phrase in bold is sometimes literally translated “He signified it.” The Greek verb here is equivalent to the noun translated “sign” in Revelation 12:1, 3. Hence the verb may be translated as above or “expressed by signs” or a similar phrase.

Revelation explicitly identifies only a few signs (e.g. 12:1). Some signs are identified as such by their explanations (e.g. the seven stars and seven lampstands in 1:20; the fine linen garments in 19:8). Some are understandable based on other parts of the Bible (e.g. the Lamb in 5:6 from John the Baptist’s declaration in John 1:29). Others, although not identified as signs, surely are not (or not solely) physical entities but rather are signs (e.g. the glassy sea in 15:2; the white horse in 19:11).

Because Revelation is a book of signs, New Jerusalem, the conclusion of Revelation, must also be a sign, even the most comprehensive and detailed sign. We need to view New Jerusalem with the many details in its description as a sign full of spiritual significance.

As a result of what was sent by Jesus Christ to John, he testified the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (1:1-2). We should give attention to New Jerusalem as a sign, not to study it in a lifeless way, but to receive life from God’s word and to see and then testify Jesus Christ.

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