Lesson 160

Revelation 21–22

“Lesson 160: Revelation 21–22,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

John saw a new heaven and a new earth and the New Jerusalem come down from heaven. He also saw that God will dwell with and comfort His people and that the celestial city of God will be established on the earth. John saw that those whose names are written in the book of life will enter the city and live with God in glory. John concluded his vision with a plea for the Lord to return to the earth.

Suggestions for Teaching

Revelation 21

John sees a new heaven and a new earth and the celestial city of God

Invite students to think of times in their lives when they experienced great sorrow or pain.

  • What are some things in life that can cause us great sorrow or pain? (Write students’ answers on the board.)

Invite students to look for a truth as they study Revelation 21 that can bring them comfort during difficult times.

Explain to students that Revelation 21–22 is a continuation of John’s vision of events that will occur after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Invite a student to read Revelation 21:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what John saw will happen.

  • What did John see will happen?

Invite two students to read the following statements aloud:

Statement 1

When Jesus Christ comes again and the Millennium begins, the earth will be changed to the condition it was in prior to the Fall of Adam and Eve. Before the Fall, the earth existed in a terrestrial, or paradisiacal, state (a state of paradise). After the Millennium, the earth will change again to a celestial state prepared for the presence of God. These changes may have been what John saw taking place when he “saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:2).

Statement 2

The New Jerusalem that John saw coming down from heaven is the celestial city of God. This city will likely include the city of Enoch, which was translated and taken up to heaven. This “holy city” will descend and join the New Jerusalem, or Zion, that the Saints will have built on earth (see Moses 7:62–64).

  • How do you think John may have felt as he saw these things while he was exiled for his belief in Jesus Christ?

Ask a student to read Revelation 21:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what God will do for His people.

  • What will God do for His people? (Students may identify truths such as the following: God will dwell with and comfort His people, and they will no longer experience death, sorrow, or pain. Write this truth on the board.)

Refer to the list on the board of things that can bring us sorrow or pain.

  • How can knowing that God will comfort His people and remove their sorrows and pains help us when we experience challenges now?

You may want to share your testimony of God’s ability to comfort us.

Invite a student to read Revelation 21:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord promises those who faithfully overcome.

  • What does the Lord promise those who overcome?

  • Based on what you have learned about challenges that exist and will exist prior to the Second Coming, what kinds of things will these people have overcome?

Invite the same student to read Revelation 21:8 aloud. You may want to explain that a sorcerer is someone who participates in activities in order to invite the influence of evil spirits and a whoremonger is a person who commits fornication or adultery.

  • What will those described in verse 8 experience? (The second death.)

Explain that the second death is a spiritual death, or separation from God, that those who willfully rebel against light and truth will experience after the Final Judgment (see Helaman 14:16–19).

Summarize Revelation 21:9–21 by explaining that John described the celestial city of God. He saw that the city had a great wall that had 12 gates guarded by 12 angels.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Revelation 21:22–27. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what John learned about this celestial city.

  • What did John learn about this city?

  • According to verse 27, who will be permitted to enter? (Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.)

Revelation 22

John concludes his vision

Invite students as they study Revelation 22 to look for a truth that can help them know how to have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life and be permitted to enter this celestial city.

drawing, throne

Consider showing a picture of a throne or drawing one on the board.

Ask a student to come to the board and draw what else John saw in addition to a throne as another student reads Revelation 22:1–2 aloud.

  • What else did John see in the celestial city of God?

Invite the student to return to his or her seat.

  • According to verse 2, how did John describe the tree of life? (The tree produced an abundance of fruit at all times, and its leaves could heal the nations.)

Remind students that the Book of Mormon records that both Lehi and Nephi saw a vision of the tree of life. Nephi learned that both the tree and the fountain of living waters represent the love of God (see 1 Nephi 11:25). Write The love of God next to the tree and the river in the student’s drawing.

  • What is the greatest manifestation of the love of God? (The Atonement of Jesus Christ [see John 3:16; 1 John 4:9]. The fruit of the tree might also represent the blessings of the Atonement.)

Summarize Revelation 22:3–10 by explaining that in addition to seeing this celestial city, John also received a witness from the angel who spoke to him that the things revealed to him were true.

Invite a student to read Revelation 22:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord will do when He comes again.

  • What will the Lord do when He comes again?

Invite a student to read Revelation 22:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what we must do to be permitted to enter the celestial kingdom.

  • What must we do to enter the celestial kingdom?

Explain that to “have right to the tree of life” means to be worthy to receive all of the blessings of the Atonement, including eternal life.

  • What principle can we identify from verse 14? (Students may use different words but should identify a principle similar to the following: If we keep the Lord’s commandments, then we can receive all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and enter the celestial kingdom. Explain that keeping His commandments includes receiving all the ordinances necessary for entering the celestial kingdom.)

Explain that although some blessings of the Atonement—such as the gift of resurrection—are given freely to all of God’s children, other blessings—such as eternal life—are only available to those who diligently seek to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and follow His commandments.

Write the following questions on the board:

What commandments and teachings have you learned about in your study of the New Testament and tried to apply in your life?

How have your efforts to apply these commandments helped you receive the Lord’s blessings and prepared you to return to the presence of your Father in Heaven?

Invite students to consider how they would answer these two questions by reviewing what they have written in their scripture study journals, what they have noted or marked in their scriptures, and the scripture mastery verses they have studied this year. Ask them to write their answers to these two questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

After sufficient time, invite several students to share what they wrote with the class. (Remind students not to share anything that is too private or personal.)

Summarize Revelation 22:15–19 by explaining that those who do not keep the Lord’s commandments will not be able to enter the celestial city. Jesus Christ testified that He gave this revelation to John, and John invited all to come to the waters of life to drink freely. John warned his readers not to alter the message of the book he had written.

Invite a student to read Revelation 22:20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for John’s plea.

  • What was John’s plea?

  • Based on what you have learned in the book of Revelation, why do you think John was eager for the Lord to come?

Conclude by testifying of the truths students discovered in Revelation 21–22.

Commentary and Background Information

Revelation 20:4. “God shall wipe away all tears”

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that in the Lord’s own time, the sorrows of the faithful will be replaced with joy:

“The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude” (“Come What May, and Love It,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 28).

Revelation 22:18. “If any man shall add unto these things”

Some people reject the Book of Mormon and other scriptures because they believe that the Lord has finished revealing scripture to His children. Many mistakenly use Revelation 22:18 to declare that the Lord will never provide any additional scripture beyond the Bible and that any person who claims to have received more scripture will suffer the penalties warned of by John. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addressed this misinterpretation:

“There is now overwhelming consensus among virtually all biblical scholars that this verse applies only to the book of Revelation, not the whole Bible. Those scholars of our day acknowledge a number of New Testament ‘books’ that were almost certainly written after John’s revelation on the Isle of Patmos was received. Included in this category are at least the books of Jude, the three Epistles of John, and probably the entire Gospel of John itself. Perhaps there are even more than these.

“But there is a simpler answer as to why that passage in the final book of the current New Testament cannot apply to the whole Bible. That is because the whole Bible as we know it—one collection of texts bound in a single volume—did not exist when that verse was written. For centuries after John produced his writing, the individual books of the New Testament were in circulation singly or perhaps in combinations with a few other texts but almost never as a complete collection. Of the entire corpus of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000” (“My Words … Never Cease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 91–92).