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The two cities in Revelation 11:2, 8

August 15, 2012

The prophecy in Revelation 11:1-14 refers to two cities, one being the holy city, which is Jerusalem, and another one which is not named specifically, but is referred to in a cryptic way.

These two cities are contrasted, as the labels “holy city” (verse 2) and “Sodom and Egypt” (verse 8) are as opposite as can be imagined. But, many expositors have tried to equate these two cities and find only one city in the chapter, which they identify with the earthly Jerusalem!

The book of Revelation clearly refutes this opinion, which is overly simplistic, and a “dumbing down” of the prophecy. In the table below, the characters of each of the two cities are laid out for comparison. Whole chapters in Revelation describe each of these two spiritual cities in detail. The earthly Jerusalem, which the apostle Paul identifies with Hagar the Egyptian bondwoman, who was expelled from Abraham’s house in Galatians 4:24-26, was cast aside when Jesus ascended to heaven, and Jerusalem became the heavenly city of the saints.

Jerusalem The great city
the saints are the light of the world, and the true Israel, the woman who is nourished in the wilderness for 1,260 days [Rev. 12:6] and a time, times and a half [Rev. 12:14] Gentiles who trample the holy city for 42 months [Rev. 11:2] until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled. The world is in darkness
the holy city [Rev. 11:2]; the city of the great King; a city on a hill; those who dwell in her are safe; her walls are salvation the great city is identified with Babylon [Rev. 18:2]
mount Zion and Jerusalem, the mountain of the Lord’s house which is raised up [Isa. 2:2] the world beyond the walls of Jerusalem is where our Lord was crucified [Rev. 11:8]
the saints are called out of Babylon: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” [Rev. 18:4] the great city is called Sodom and Egypt, places from which the people of God escaped [Rev. 11:8]
the temple of God [Rev. 11:1-2] the outer court of the temple is given to Gentiles [Rev. 11:2]
the two witnesses are killed by the beast from the bottomless pit [Rev. 11:7] the nations rejoice when the two witnesses are killed, and they send gifts to one another [Rev. 11:7]
there is warfare between angels, and the dragon is cast out of heaven to the earth [Rev. 12:9] Satan deceives the whole world [Rev. 12:9]
they do not worship the beast [Rev. 13:8] they worship the beast [Rev. 13:8]
they dwell in heaven [Rev. 12:12] they dwell in the earth [Rev. 12:12]
their names are written in the book of life [Rev. 13:8] their names are not written in the book of life [Rev. 13:8]
the woman’s firstborn son is caught up to God’s throne [Rev. 12:5] Christ rules all nations with a rod of iron [Rev. 12:5]
144,000 of the 12 tribes of Israel, who are the firstfruits redeemed from the earth, follow the Lamb wherever he goes [Rev. 14:4] their number is as the sand of the sea [Rev. 20:8]
they keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus [Rev. 14:4] all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication [Rev. 14:8]
the woman is clothed with the sun [Rev. 12:1] Babylon is clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, [Rev. 18:16]
John wrote of the holy city, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” [Rev. 21:27] John wrote of Babylon, “And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” [Rev. 18:24]

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