2 Corinthians 12:2-4 reads, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.”
Paradise is in heaven. Actually, the heavenly Jerusalem is paradise, and it is the most amazing garden city. It is more beautiful than the garden of Eden. In heavenly Jerusalem, Paul said that “he heard things that cannot be told.” If the new Jerusalem were only a symbolic expression, it would be very strange for Paul to be caught up to someplace that didn’t actually exist. Paradise is a real place. Believers who passed away are already with the Lord in paradise, which is the new Jerusalem.
It wouldn’t make sense to think of the new Jerusalem as the church either. Galatians 4:26 reads, “But the Jerusalem above is free and she is our mother.” The Jerusalem above is the heavenly Jerusalem. I would find it strange if it referred to the church. The verse that says “She is our mother” means that the heavenly Jerusalem is our mother. It would be impossible for the church to be its own mother. Hebrews chapter 12 says that we have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God. If the city was the church, it would not make sense to say that we, as the church, have come to the church. We have come before God, not before a symbol or a sign.
What Revelation chapter 21 tells us is true. Let’s take a look at verse 5: “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
Revelation 21:1-2 reads, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
All of us believe that the new heaven and new earth are real. Verse 2 reads, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Here it says “prepared.” Given that the new heaven and new earth are real, you cannot say that the new Jerusalem is something symbolic or immaterial. The city will come down out of heaven from God to the new earth. If New Jerusalem was the church instead of a city, then the saints would have no place to live. They would have to roam around on the new earth, while the people of the coming generations would have their own homes. On the contrary, the church is the most glorious and prestigious group of people in the whole universe. It would not make sense that believers with resurrected bodies would have no place to stay, but angels and other humans would have their own dwellings. If heaven was empty and there was no dwelling place for the saints, then I cannot imagine what would happen to those who have already fallen asleep in Christ.
This city is extremely beautiful, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The bride will surely make herself very beautiful on her wedding day. Here it uses a simile to compare the city to a bride. But we cannot say that the bride, which is the church, is the city itself. It Would be ridiculous to think that the new Jerusalem was a symbolic expression. How could a symbol prepare itself as a bride and come down out of heaven? I don’t understand this interpretation. It makes it difficult for us to understand the rest of the biblical truths.
When the Bible defines something as holy, it is often referring to something real, either a person or a thing. Since the new Jerusalem is called the holy city, it must be a real city. Therefore, this city is as real as the tabernacle and the temple, which were real structures in the Old Testament time. The tabernacle and the objects inside had special meanings. Likewise, the temple was real, and the objects inside also had their own meanings. Therefore, the new Jerusalem is a real city that carries even more extraordinary meanings.
Revelation 21 Verse 5 is clearly written, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” This makes it very clear to us that all the things to come are true, even though they seem too incredible to us. These words would be unnecessary if it was talking about something that wasn’t real.
Revelation chapter 22 gives us an account of the city and what can be found in the city. What did the angel say? Revelation 22:6 says, “And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true.’” These words were spoken previously by the One seated on the throne; now the angel was repeating these same words. These words were spoken when the new Jerusalem was first mentioned, and they were now being repeated here. It is very dangerous for us to say that the new Jerusalem is a symbol instead of a real city. A symbolic expression can be interpreted in many different ways. But the words spoken by the angel are trustworthy and true. We are truly so blessed! New Jerusalem is so beautiful and real!