Revelation 21-22: The Earth Becomes a Celestial World

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 177–178

In these final two chapters of the book of Revelation we read what John saw concerning the future of the earth after the Millennium, when it will become a celestial world for those who live on it. He also left us his testimony that the things he saw are true. As you read what John wrote about the celestial kingdom and how wonderful it would be to dwell there, think about what is required to live there. Would obtaining such a glory be worth meeting those requirements?President Brigham Young gave us a way to think about what is written in Revelation 21–22 when he said, “We talk about our trials and troubles here in this life: but suppose that you could see yourselves thousands and millions of years after you have proved faithful to your religion during the few short years in this time, and have obtained eternal salvation and a crown of glory in the presence of God; then look back upon your lives here, and see the losses, crosses, and disappointments, the sorrows …, you would be constrained to exclaim, ‘But what of all that? Those things were but for a moment, and we are now here. We have been faithful during a few moments in our mortality, and now we enjoy eternal life and glory, with power to progress in all the boundless knowledge and through the countless stages of progression, enjoying the smiles and approbation [favor] of our Father and God, and of Jesus Christ’” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:275).

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 21

Adorned (v. 2)Made beautiful, dressed up 
Tabernacle (v. 3)Dwelling place 
Foursquare (v. 16)In the shape of a square 
Defileth (v. 27)To make unclean or unholy 

Revelation 21:2—New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem spoken of in Revelation 21 is not the same city that is to be built on the American continent as part of the last days and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Articles of Faith 1:10). It refers to the celestial kingdom.

Revelation 21:11–25—The Description of the City of God

If you took the time to figure out the measurements John gave of the city of God, you would understand that he was describing a city whose size was larger than anything man had ever created. Furthermore, the description of precious metals and stones communicates a beauty beyond description. But the most glorious part is the very presence of God, which eliminates the need for a temple or even for light (see vv. 22–23).

Revelation 22

Curse (v. 3)Refers to the effects of the Fall of Adam and Eve 
Without (v. 15)Outside 
Root and the offspring of David (v. 16)A descendant of David and rightful king of Israel; Jesus Christ 
Plagues (v. 18)Curses, calamities 

Revelation 22:2, 14—The Tree of Life

After the Fall of Adam and Eve, the way to the tree of life was closed so that they would have a time to repent, be tested, and in all ways prepare themselves to partake of this great blessing (see Alma 12:22–26; 42:2–5; Moses 4:31). John saw that the fruit of the tree of life was available to all in the celestial world. Having the tree of life available shows that all of the effects of the Fall have been overcome in this place.

Revelation 22:17—“Come”

As stated in the introduction to this book (see p. 164), the main purpose of the book of Revelation is to invite us to come unto Christ. The closing of the book—Revelation 22:17 in particular—again emphasizes that invitation.

Revelation 22:18–19—Do Not Add to or Take away from These Things

Some people have used Revelation 22:18–19 to defend the idea that there can be no more revelation or scripture after the Bible because that would be adding to the Bible. In this way they try to discredit the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

Moses, however, wrote the same about his books (see Deuteronomy 4:2). If those words of Moses were interpreted in the same way some have interpreted what John wrote, then there would be no Bible after the first five books. John, like Moses, was simply referring to what God had directed him to write—the book of Revelation.

Anyone can find out the truthfulness of modern revelation and these latter-day scriptures by asking God Himself if they are true (see Matthew 7:7–11; James 1:4–5).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–D) as you read Revelation 21–22.

Activity A iconDesign a Poster

Choose a verse from Revelation 21–22 that you think would make a good poster to display and remind you to stay true to the Lord and His teachings. Explain why that verse would inspire you, and make a small sketch of how you would want the poster to look.

Activity B iconWho Are These People?

  1. 1.

    Read and compare Revelation 7:9, 13–17 with Revelation 21:1–4 and tell who is a part of the holy city John saw. (You may also want to read Revelation 22:11–14.)

  2. 2.

    According to Revelation 21:8 and 22:15, who will not be in the Holy City? (Make sure you understand what all of the words in these verses mean.)

Activity C iconMost Impressive

Speaking of the book of Revelation, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Nowhere in any scripture now had among men are there such pointed and persuasive explanations as to why we must overcome the world, and the attendant blessings that flow therefrom. … Truly the teachings of this inspired work are some of the greatest incentives [motivations] to personal righteousness now found in holy writ” (“Understanding the Book of Revelation,” Ensign, Sept. 1975, 89).

In support of what Elder McConkie said, write about two or more of the most impressive things you learned from the book of Revelation that inspire and motivate you to live righteously.

gate to the Holy City

You May Enter if You have kept the covenants which you have entered into with the Lord and are made spotless and pure before the Lord.

Activity D icon“Come, Lord Jesus”

Read Revelation 22:20. Think of what you have learned during your study of the New Testament and write your testimony of Jesus. Include why you would join in John’s prayer for Jesus to come.