Jan Lambrecht, «Final Judgments and Ultimate Blessings: The Climactic Visions of Revelation 20,11-21,8», Vol. 81 (2000) 362-385
Rev 20,11-15 and 21,1-8 contain the last two vision reports. The first does not deal with a general resurrection followed by a general judgment with respectively reward and condemnation. Attention is negatively focused on the final judgments of Death and Hades, as well as of those whose names are not found written in the book of life. In the second vision John sees a new heaven and a new earth and, more specifically, the new Jerusalem, i.e., the church universal of the end-time. The voice from the throne and God himself climactically proclaim final blessings. The covenant formula announces God's dwelling among the peoples, the adoption formula even a divine filial relationship: these are the main content of the ultimate blessings. Hermeneutical reflection on annihilation or transformation, on theocentrism versus human responsibilty and on the expectation of Christ's imminent parousia conclude the study.
rewarding your servants ... both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth18.
II. The New Creation and New Jerusalem (21,1-8)
This is the NRSV translation of Rev 21,1-8:
1a Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; b for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, c and the sea was no more. 2a And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, b coming down out of heaven from God, c prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3a And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, b See, the home of God is among mortals. c He will dwell with them as their God, d they will be his peoples, e and God himself will be with them. 4a he will wipe every tear from their eyes. b Death will be no more; c mourning and crying and pain will be no more, d for the first things have passed away. 5a And the one who was seated on the throne said, b See, I am making all things new. c Also he said, d Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true. 6a Then he said to me, b It is done! c I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. d To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 7a Those who conquer will inherit these things, b and I will be their God c and they will be my children. 8a But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, b which is the second death.
1. The Narrative
In 21,1 John continues his report of visions by means of kai_ ei]don: see 20,11.12 (cf. also, e.g., 19,11.17.19; 20,1.4). In 21,2 this verbal form is repeated again, but no longer at the beginning of the sentence. The opposition between 20,11-15 and 21,1-8 is complete: definitive judgment on the one hand and new creation (or creations renewal) on the other. Yet literary connections can easily be shown: the throne (21,3) and the one who is seated on it (21,5) are still there in this new vision (cf. 20,11a for the previous vision). Moreover, the content of 21,1b (heaven and earth) reminds the reader of 20,11bc, and that of 21,8 (lake of fire, second death) refers back to 20,14 and 15b.