What does Revelation 21:15 mean?
ESV: And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls.
NIV: The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.
NASB: The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.
CSB: The one who spoke with me had a golden measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.
NLT: The angel who talked to me held in his hand a gold measuring stick to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.
KJV: And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
NKJV: And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.
Verse Commentary:
The angel who spoke to the apostle John had a gold measuring rod with which to measure the city, its gates, and walls. In Revelation 11:1 we read that John received a measuring rod and the command to measure the temple, the altar, and the worshipers. God is a God of order, and the fact that the angel in chapter 21 had a measuring rod for measuring the city, its gates, and walls shows that New Jerusalem is a literal city, not a mystical city. If it were a purely symbolic idea, or a metaphor only, it would be impossible to measure it.

Apparently, God who designed and built the city (Hebrews 11:10) wanted John and us to realize the city is big enough to accommodate the saints of all periods of history. The angel's measuring rod is not simply a staff like the one mentioned in Revelation 11:1; it is a rod of gold. Everything about New Jerusalem is glorious, including the rod the angel used to measure the city.
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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