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.
but his son will build a house for his name, a temple. God will establish the throne of his kingdom forever (cf. 7,13). Then comes the adoption promise: I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me (7,14). One can hardly prove that John directly depends on this passage from 2 Samuel. The adoption formula is too familiar for that. The rewriting of a father to him (au)tw|= ei)j pate/ra) and a son to me (moi ei)j ui(o/n) into a nominative without ei)j does not yield much of a difference in sense. Instead of father in v. 7b John writes God. This may be under the influence of v. 3 where God is repeated in the covenant formula three times. Some authors, moreover, assume that John avoids father which noun he reserves for use by the unique son Jesus (cf. 1,6; 2,28; 3,5.21; 14,1)37.
3. Text in Context
Creation? In Rev 21,1-8 Gods initiative is very much emphasized. The language surely suggests a completely new beginning and no continuity with what existed in the past. The first things have passed away; the new reality comes from heaven, from God. Yet what appears is a new heaven, a new earth; what comes down is a new Jerusalem. The terms themselves seem to betray a persisting relation between old and new. The new is an identifiable counterpart of the old and a renewal of it38. According to 21,5b God is not replacing the old but making all things new. This points to transformation rather than to an outright new creation of a totally different reality39. It would seem that by the symbolic language of 21,1-2 John above all refers to the so-called preexistent salvation which he sees as coming down from heaven. By preexistence and heavenly origin he emphasizes the certainty of Gods eschatological salvation and thus encourages his endangered addressees40.
The New Jerusalem. The holy city comes down out of heaven from God (21,2ab; cf. 21,10 and already 3,12). The cube form of the city,