The time frame for this chapter is after judgment has been handed down and all the saints have been together with God and Christ. Contrary to the non-scriptural doctrines of millennialism (and it does not matter which ones), we have been told that the heavens and earth will have been destroyed and replaced with a new heaven and earth. John now has a vision of this new heaven and earth. That this has no relationship to the earth and sky is apparent in the note “also there was no more sea.”
The New Jerusalem is pictured coming down out of heaven from God, “…as a bride adorned for her husband.” The symbolism it is the same as that used earlier in the Scriptures to describe the Church, which Jesus told us is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 16:18-19). The saints are to inhabit this new city also called “the Lamb’s wife.”
Some teach the new city is the Church. Really? How can that be the case when the saints have already been judged and “…earth and the heaven fled away, and there was no place found for them” (c. 20:11). It is the fulfilled and finished product: The final constitution of The Kingdom of Heaven found in the Heavenly places. This is the making of all things new as in v.4. Note the honors and titles given to Christ are now stated of God the Father (compare chapter 1:11-20 with chapter 21:5-7).
One of the angels that carried one of the bowls of wrath now takes John to view the “Holy City” (v.9 and 21). There is a description between verses 11 and 27. We should again remember this is another figurative picture and sign, and like all the rest, it should not to be taken literally. It is a panorama of the glory of the new City of God. Its dimensions and accoutrements are neither to be hard measured nor is its glory to be held within the confines of the vision. It is a complete and symmetrical picture for the reader’s mind to sense and with their thoughts to behold. We should note the gates are named for the twelve tribes of Israel while the foundations bear the names of the twelve Apostles. This portion refers to the period following Judgment, which is made clear one final time in verses 24 – 27.