What does Revelation 21:17 mean?
ESV: He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel 's measurement.
NIV: The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick.
NASB: And he measured its wall, 144 cubits, by human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.
CSB: Then he measured its wall, 144 cubits according to human measurement, which the angel used.
NLT: Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick (according to the human standard used by the angel).
KJV: And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
NKJV: Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.
Verse Commentary:
The angel also measured the wall that surrounds New Jerusalem. Although an angel measured the wall, he used human measurements. The city's wall is 144 cubits thick, which is about 216 feet or almost 66 meters. Generally, a wall is constructed to provide security and/or privacy. But most walls are only a foot (30 cm) or less thick. The massive size of these walls not only implies strength, it suggests the enormous scale of the rest of the city.

When Nehemiah heard that Jerusalem's walls were broken down, he became distraught and undertook the task of restoring them (Nehemiah 1:1–4). Even the threat of enemy aggression failed to deter him from the rebuilding effort (Nehemiah 4:15–16). He wanted Jerusalem to be secure. It was common for watchmen to be posted on city walls in order to detect an approaching enemy and sound an alarm. New Jerusalem's extremely thick wall emphasizes the city's security, and the absence of watchmen on the wall emphasizes the fact that God is its protector.
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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