Jerusalem, New

Jerusalem, New, the symbolic name of the Christian Church; also called "the Bride, the Lamb's wife" (Re 21:2-21; Re 3:12). The apostle, from the summit of a high mountain, beheld, in a pictorial symbol of scenic representation, a city resplendent with celestial brightness, which seemed to descend from the heavens to the earth. It was built upon terraces, one rising above another, each terrace having its distinct wall supporting or encircling it: and thus, although each wall was only 144 cubits = 252 feet high, the height of the whole city was equal to its diameter. This was stated to be a square of about 400 miles; or 12,000 stadia = about 1600 miles in circumference — of course a mystical number, denoting that the city was capable of holding almost countless myriads of inhabitants. In its general form, the symbolic city presents a striking resemblance to that of the new city in Ezekiel 40-48. The pictorial symbol must be regarded as the representation not of a place or state, but of the Church as a society, the "body of Christ" (Eph 5:23-30; Ga 4:26). As Jerusalem and Zion are often used for the inhabitants and faithful worshippers, so the new Jerusalem is emblematical of the Church of God, part on earth and part in heaven. To suppose the invisible world to be exclusively referred to would deprive the contrast between the Law and the Gospel economy, Sinai and Zion, of its appositeness and force. Moreover, the distinction between "the general assembly of the enrolled citizens," and "the spirits of the just made perfect" (Heb 12:22-24), can be explained only by interpreting the former of the Church militant, or the body of Christ on earth, and the latter of the Church triumphant in heaven. Thus we see why the New Jerusalem was beheld, like Jacob's ladder, extending from earth to heaven. SEE ZION.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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