Adapted from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible
This and the eight following chapters contain a vision of a city and temple herein described, and are thought to be the most difficult part of the whole Bible. Gill is fully persuaded that the church is intended by the city and temple, not a literal temple because it’s size precludes building! The circumference of the city is said to be about eighteen thousand measures, Ezekiel 48:35; but what they are is not certain. Luther makes them to be thirty six thousand German miles; and a German mile being three of ours, the circuit of this city must be above a hundred thousand English miles; Premillennial dispensationalists and Jews dream of a third temple to be built, by their vainly expected Messiah; but nothing is more clear than that the true Messiah was to come into the second temple, and by that give it a greater glory than the former ever had; as is evident from Haggai 2:6 and, according to Malachi, he was to come suddenly into his temple, which could be no other than the then present one, Malachi 3:1, and into which Jesus came, and where he often appeared and taught, as well as entered into it with power and authority, as the Lord and proprietor of it; by which he appeared to be the true Messiah, as by many other characters; see Luke 2:22. From neither Solomon’s temple nor Zerubbabel’s flowed waters, which rose up to a river, on the bank of which were many trees for food and medicine, and whose waters were healing, and quickened wherever they came, and both of these were destroyed; whereas with this one God will dwell in it forever. Nor is this city here the same as the New Jerusalem John had a vision of; for though he borrows some of his expressions to describe it from hence; and in some things there is an appearance of agreement, as of the river of water of life, and the tree of life on both sides of the river, Revelation 22:1, yet the descriptions don’t agree. It remains that this must be understood mystically and figuratively of the Gospel church, which is often spoken of as a city and temple, Hebrews 12:22 and which began to have its accomplishment in the first times of the Gospel, immediately after the death and resurrection of Christ; when his disciples had a commission to preach the Gospel to all nations; and who accordingly did, even before the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the material temple, so that Gospel churches were planted in all parts of the world; the kingdom of Christ, signified by the great mountain in Daniel 2:35, and by this large city here, will fill the whole earth (the new one!) Christ builds it to his exact specifications (Matt.16:18, Heb.11:10) and is the foundation stone (Acts 4:11) and the apostles built on him including Paul who was a master builder (I Cir.3:10-11, Eph.2:21-22) in it’s earliest formation.
In the five and twentieth year of our captivity,…. That is, from Jeconiah’s captivity, from whence this prophet begins his dates: he calls it our captivity, because he himself was then carried captive; and this was twenty years after his first vision; Ussher places this at 574B.C.,in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten; taken, broken up, and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar; its walls demolished; its houses burnt, and inhabitants put to the sword, or carried captive. This was in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, to which add the fourteen years from hence and they make twenty five, as reckoned from Jeconiah’s captivity: