What does Revelation 21:13 mean?
ESV: on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.
NIV: There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.
NASB: There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
CSB: There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
NLT: There were three gates on each side — east, north, south, and west.
KJV: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
NKJV: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
Verse Commentary:
God is a God of order. If we look at creation we can see this truth. He did not create man until the rest of creation was finished and ready to accommodate human life. When He gave instructions for the building of the tabernacle, God left nothing to the Israelites' guesswork. From the placement of the furniture, to the coverings for the tabernacle, everything pictured Christ and the work of redemption (Hebrews 8:5; 9:11).

In the New Jerusalem God placed twelve gates in an orderly pattern. Three gates were located on the city's east side, three on the north side, three on the south side, and three on the west side. Verse 12 informs us that the names of Israel's twelve tribes are inscribed on the gates. Most likely the arrangement of the gates follows the arrangement of Israel's encampment in the desert: on the east, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; on the south, Reuben, Simeon, and Gad; on the west, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin; on the north, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali (Numbers 2). The inclusion of Dan, which seems to have been excluded in Revelation 7:5–8, follows the pattern of Ezekiel 48:31–34.
Verse Context:
Revelation 21:9–27 presents a description of the New Jerusalem. Interpreters disagree about whether this is a flashback to the millennial reign of Christ, or a description of the eternal state of the city. A flashback is not unprecedented in Revelation, occurring in chapters 11, 14, 15, and 17. However, some verses here clearly refer to eternal conditions, and most scholars take this as a depiction of the eternal, final heavenly city.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter focuses on the New Jerusalem. This is not the earthly, historic Jerusalem of the tribulation (Revelation 11:2, 8). Nor is it the surviving Jerusalem of the millennium that serves as Jesus' capital (Revelation 20:9). It is the heavenly city referred to in Hebrews 12:22, whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10, 16). John attempts to describe the indescribable using analogies to precious gems and metals.
Chapter Context:
Leading up to this chapter, all sin and evil have been entirely defeated. Satan is banished to hell, along with every person who rejected Christ, as seen in chapter 20. Here, John describes the nature of the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city which descends onto earth after the ultimate victory over evil. Chapter 22 is a further description of this perfect eternity, and last messages from Jesus to those who read John's words.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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