Jan Lambrecht, «Final Judgments and Ultimate Blessings: The Climactic Visions of Revelation 20,11-21,8», Vol. 81 (2000) 362-385
Rev 20,11-15 and 21,1-8 contain the last two vision reports. The first does not deal with a general resurrection followed by a general judgment with respectively reward and condemnation. Attention is negatively focused on the final judgments of Death and Hades, as well as of those whose names are not found written in the book of life. In the second vision John sees a new heaven and a new earth and, more specifically, the new Jerusalem, i.e., the church universal of the end-time. The voice from the throne and God himself climactically proclaim final blessings. The covenant formula announces God's dwelling among the peoples, the adoption formula even a divine filial relationship: these are the main content of the ultimate blessings. Hermeneutical reflection on annihilation or transformation, on theocentrism versus human responsibilty and on the expectation of Christ's imminent parousia conclude the study.
the believers? Their resurrection does not seem alluded to; their reward is not depicted. The negative punitive vision of 20,11-15 requires, as it were, a positive victorious counterpart. In 21,1, without any form of transition, the vision of the new heaven and the new earth is introduced, utterly positive. A judgment of the righteous which would result in a just reward is not described. One has to wait until v. 3 before men and peoples are mentioned, but even then they are not called by one of their known names, e.g., those written in the book of life, followers of the Lamb (cf. 14,4) or servants of God with a seal on their foreheads (cf. 7,3). Yet the holy city which comes down out of heaven from God in 21,2 is the new Jerusalem; she is the bride. It would seem, however, that in 21,3-4 John does not further reflect on the marital image (in contrast with 19,7-8; Isa 52,10; 62,3-5). Attention goes to Gods covenantal presence, not to the intimate marriage relationship. Jerusalem is the home of God; God dwells with men. These men are the inhabitants of that city. They are his peoples, the renewed Israel consisting of Jew and Gentile alike. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is a metaphor for the church universal. In the eschaton the saints will be the bride adorned for her husband, the Lamb. In a climactic way, the definitive future is announced. The message has divine authentication. First a voice from the throne proclaims the universalistic covenant of God with the redeemed humankind. This means Gods covenantal presence and, at the same time, the absence of mourning and pain, the immunity to first and second death.
Then, in 21,5-8, three times the Lord God himself validates the absolute victory that is announced. (a) He emphasizes that he is making all things new. (b) He stresses that his words are trustworthy and true. (c) He affirms that it is done!51 and refers to his sovereign, authoritative identity: he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (cf. 1,8). He confirms the free gift of living water and of the inheritance for the conqueror. And, at the very peak of this brief discourse, to the individual faithful servant God promises adoption, i.e., divine sonship: I will be his God and he will be my son. This is hardly only a metaphor which refers to Gods special protection and care. No, in Christ, Gods Son, his followers become sons and