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In religion, the New Jerusalem (also called the tabernacle of God, holy city, city of God, celestial city, and heavenly Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation, as well as Jerusalem above, Zion, and shining city on a hill elsewhere), is a city that is or will be the dwelling place of the Saints, interpreted as a physical reconstruction, spiritual restoration, or divine recreation of the city of Jerusalem. John of Patmos describes the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible, and so the New Jerusalem holds an important place in Christian eschatology and Christian mysticism, and has also influenced Christian philosophy and Christian theology. Such a renewal of Jerusalem, if a reconstruction, is an important theme in Judaism, Christianity, and the Bahá'í Faith.

Many traditions based on biblical scripture and other writings in the Jewish and Christian religions, such as Protestantism, Orthodox Christianity, and Orthodox Judaism, expect the literal renewal of Jerusalem to some day take place at the Temple Mountmarker in accordance with various prophecies. Dispensationalists believe in a literal New Jerusalem will come down from God out of Heaven, which will be an entirely new city of incredible dimensions. Still other sects, such as various Protestant denomination, Mormonism, modernist branches of Christianity, and reform Judaism, view the New Jerusalem as figurative, or believe that such a renewal may have already taken place, or that it will take place at some other location besides the Temple Mountmarker.

Origins and Judaism

The paradise gardens of the ancient Near East are the earliest precursors to the idea of the New Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis describes the layout of the Garden of Eden as similar to that of the paradise gardens. In both schema, a walled enclosure divided by spans of water protects and delights its inhabitants. Also, the synthesis of geometric and natural arrangements in paradise gardens has an echo in the New Jerusalem. Since Judaism views the renewed Jerusalem as a kind of paradise, the Garden of Eden presents itself as the Jewish prototype for the New Jerusalem. In these ways, the Garden of Eden, as a prominent feature of the creation stories of both Judaism and Christianity, is elemental to the idea of the New Jerusalem.

The city of Jerusalem holds immense importance to Judaism. The Jewish faith has long considered Jerusalem its most holy city, the center of the Promised Land, and a symbol of the Jewish people. Indeed, the modern Jewish state of Israelmarker holds Jerusalem as its capital, though this claim is controversial. This ancient and persistent religious significance of Jerusalem explains why Jews began to associate the renewal of Jerusalem with paradise.

The Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalemmarker were instrumental in the development of the idea of the New Jerusalem. The history of these places of worship tie into that of the New Jerusalem.

The concept of the New Jerusalem has its most immediate origins in Judaism with the destruction of Solomon's Templemarker and the Babylonian captivity, events that spurred the ancient Jewish hope for a restoration of Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon sacked Jerusalem, laid waste the Temple, and took the Jews into captivity in 586 BC, the Jewish prophet Ezekiel foretold of the restoration of Jerusalem to his people. The Jews held Ezekiel's promise of the restoration of Jerusalem close to their hearts during the captivity and afterwards. In the course of history, various other prophets came forth with messages of Jerusalem's renewal. There has long been a belief in Judaism that the Messiah will enter through the Golden Gatemarker, renew Jerusalem and Israel, and save the Jewish people. Zion is related to the New Jerusalem.

Certain elements of modern religious Zionism, especially Christian Zionism, harken back to this ancient Jewish yearning for a restoration of Jerusalem. The idea of The Third Temple has much in common with the concept of the New Jerusalem.


Since Christianity originated as a sect of Judaism, see Jewish Christianity, the history of Jewish places of worship and the currents of thought in ancient Judaism described above served in part as the basis for the development of the Christian conception of the New Jerusalem. In addition to Judaism's reverence for the city, Christians have always placed religious significance on Jerusalem as the site of The Crucifixion and other events central to the Christian faith, see also Jerusalem in Christianity. In particular, the destruction of the Second Temple that took place in the year 70, a few decades after Christianity began its split from Judaism, was seminal to the nascent Christian apocalypticism of that time. During the Olivet discourse of the Gospels, Jesus foretells of the destruction of Herod's Temple, and promises that it will precede the return of the Son of Man, the Second Coming. This prophecy of the renewal of Jerusalem by the messiah echoes those of the Jewish prophets. John of Patmos' vision of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation draws on the Olivet discourse and all the historical precursors mentioned above.

A diagram illustrating the End Time Events prophesied in the Bible
Based on the Book of Revelation, premillennialism holds that, following the end times and the second creation of heaven and earth, the New Jerusalem will be the earthly location where all true believers will spend eternity with God. The New Jerusalem is not limited to eschatology, however. Many Christians view the New Jerusalem as a current reality, that the New Jerusalem is the consummation of the Body of Christ, the Church and that Christians already take part in membership of both the heavenly Jerusalem and the earthly Church in a kind of "dual citizenship." In this way, the New Jerusalem represents to Christians the final and everlasting reconciliation of God and His chosen people, "the end of the Christian pilgrimage." As such, the New Jerusalem is a conception of heaven.

The Book of Revelation

The term New Jerusalem occurs twice in the New Testament, in verses 3:12 and 21:2 of the Book of Revelation. A large portion of the final two chapters of the Christian Bible deals with John of Patmos' vision of the New Jerusalem. He describes the New Jerusalem as "'the bride, the wife of the Lamb'".

After John witnesses the new heaven and a new earth "that no longer has any sea", an angel takes him "in the Spirit" to a vantage point on "a great and high mountain" to see the New Jerusalem's descent. The enormous city comes out of heaven from God, down to the new earth. John's elaborate description of the New Jerusalem retains many features of the Garden of Eden and the paradise garden, such as rivers, a square shape, a wall, and the Tree of Life.


According to John, the New Jerusalem is "pure gold, like clear glass" and its "brilliance [is] like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper." The street of the city is also made of "pure gold, like transparent glass". Biblical writers often used gold as a symbol for eternity, as it does not rust, and kingship, as it is very valuable. The base of the city is laid out in a square and surrounded by a wall made of jasper. It says in Revelations 21:16 that the height, length, and width are equal and they measure 12,000 stadia (2200 km). John writes that the wall is 144 cubits, which is assumed to be the width since the length is mentioned previously. 144 cubits are about equal to 65 meters, or 72 yards. It is important to note that 12 is the square root of 144. The number 12 was very important to early Jews and Christians, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and the number of months in a year. The four sides of the city represented the four cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West.) In this way, New Jerusalem was thought of as an inclusive place, with gates accepting all of the 12 tribes of Israel from all corners of the earth.

There is no temple building in the New Jerusalem: God and the Lamb are the city's temple, since they are worshiped everywhere. Revelation 22 goes on to describe a river of the water of life that flows down the middle of the great street of the city from the throne of God. The tree of life grows in the middle of this street and on either side, or in the middle of the street and on either side of the river. Each tree bears twelve fruits, or kinds of fruits, and yields its fruit every month. According to John, "The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." This inclusion of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem harkens back to the Garden of Eden. The fruit the tree bears may be the fruit of life.

John states that the New Jerusalem will be free of sin. The servants of God will have theosis, and "His name will be on their foreheads." Night will no longer fall, and the inhabitants of the city will "have need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light." John ends his account of the New Jerusalem by stressing its eternal nature: "And they shall reign forever and ever."

There are twelve gates in the wall oriented to the compass with three each on the east, north, south, and west sides. There is an angel at each gate, or gatehouse. These gates are each made of a single pearl, giving them the name of the "pearly gates". The names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written on these gates.

The new Jerusalem gates may bear some relation to the gates mentioned in Enoch, Chapters 33 - 35, where the prophet reports (at the extremities of the whole earth) "heavenly gates opening into heaven; three of them distinctly separated." [33, 3.] And so on for each of the four major compass directions.[ref. Laurence translation, Book of Enoch.]

Foundation Stones
The wall has twelve foundation stones, and on these are written the names of the Twelve Apostles. Revelation lacks a list of the names of the Twelve Apostles, and does not describe which name is inscribed on which foundation stone, or if all of the names are inscribed on all of the foundation stones, so that aspect of the arrangement is open to speculation. The layout of the precious stones is contested. All of the precious stones could adorn each foundation stone, either in layers or mixed together some other way, or just one unique type of stone could adorn each separate foundation stone.

This latter possibility is favored by tradition, as each gate presumably stands on one foundation stone, and each of the twelve tribes has long been associated with a certain type of precious stone. These historical connections go back to the time of Temple worship, when the same kinds of stones were set in the golden Breastplate of the Ephod worn by the Kohen Gadol, and on the Ephod the names of each of the twelve tribes of Israel were inscribed on a particular type of stone.

It is interesting to note that the translated meanings of the various sorts of foundation stones have varied through the centuries: those in King James Version are differently named in later translations.

"18: And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.19: And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;20: The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst."

with the more modern, New Jerusalem Bible version,

"18 The wall was built of diamond, and the city of pure gold, like clear glass.19 The foundations of the city wall were faced with all kinds of precious stone: the first with diamond, the second lapis lazuli, the third turquoise, the fourth crystal,20 the fifth agate, the sixth ruby, the seventh gold quartz, the eighth malachite, the ninth topaz, the tenth emerald, the eleventh sapphire and the twelfth amethyst."


The angel measures the New Jerusalem with the rod or reed.
Note the Lamb of God and the twelve sets of figures, gates, and stones.
In 21:16, the angel measures the city with a golden rod or reed, and records it as 12,000 stadia by 12,000 stadia at the base, aand 12,000 stadia high. A stadion is usually stated as 185.4 meters, or 600 feet, so the base has dimensions of about 2225 km by 2225 km, or 1500 miles by 1500 miles. In the ancient Greek system of measurement, the base of the New Jerusalem would have been equal to 144 million square stadia. If rested on the Earth, its ceiling would be inside the exosphere.

In keeping with the several indications within Revelation text that there is some encryption, the cube may not even represent a cube, but rather a sphere or spheroid, with a radius equivalent to approximately 6,000 stadia or 750 miles; alternatively the symbol might be taken as a "sacred dodecahedron" with the twelve's given as a clue to its actual, faceted shape. Then the spheroidal pearl "gates" could be viewed as twelve satellites of a main structure or even a planetary system.

Other Biblical writings

The term "heavenly Jerusalem" is used in Hebrews 12:22. Paul refers to the Jerusalem above in the Epistle to the Galatians 4:25, 26 and explains it as the mother of Christians.

Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church places the New Jerusalem in the eschatological role found in Revelation. Catholicism also holds that the New Jerusalem already exists as a spiritual community in heaven, the Church triumphant, with an outpost on earth, the Church militant. Together, the Church triumphant and Church militant form the Church universal. Augustine of Hippo, a Doctor of the Church and Church Father, draws inspiration from John's account of the New Jerusalem to outline this view in his monumental work The City of God.

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on "Heaven" states that Catholic
theologians deem more appropriate that there should be a special and glorious abode, in which the blessed have their peculiar home and where they usually abide, even though they be free to go about in this world.
For the surroundings in the midst of which the blessed have their dwelling must be in accordance with their happy state; and the internal union of charity which joins them in affection must find its outward expression in community of habitation.
At the end of the world, the earth together with the celestial bodies will be gloriously transformed into a part of the dwelling-place of the blessed (Revelation 21).
Hence there seems to be no sufficient reason for attributing a metaphorical sense to those numerous utterances of the Bible which suggest a definite dwelling-place of the blessed.
Theologians, therefore, generally hold that the heaven of the blessed is a special place with definite limits.
Naturally, this place is held to exist, not within the earth, but, in accordance with the expressions of Scripture, without and beyond its limits.
All further details regarding its locality are quite uncertain.
The Church has decided nothing on this subject.

Eastern Christianity

1) From the middle of the second century C.E. to the middle of the sixth century C.E., the ancient Christian church of Montanism, which spread all over the Roman Empire, expected the New Jerusalem to descend to earth at the neighboring Phrygian towns of Pepuza and Tymion. In late antiquity, both places attracted crowds of pilgrims from all over the Roman Empire. Pepuza was the headquarters of the Montanist church. The Montanist patriarch resided at Pepuza. Women played an emancipated role in Montanism, serving as priests and also bishops. In the sixth century C.E., this church became extinct.

Since 2001, Peter Lampe of the University of Heidelbergmarker has directed annual archaeological campaigns in Phrygia, Turkey. During these interdisciplinary campaigns, together with William Tabbernee of Tulsa, numerous unknown ancient settlements were discovered and archaeologically documented. Two of them are the best candidates so far in the search for the identification of the two holy centers of ancient Montanism, Pepuza and Tymion, the sites of the expected descent of the New Jerusalem. Scholars had searched for these lost sites since the 19th century.

The ancient settlement discovered and identified as Pepuza by William Tabbernee and Peter Lampe was settled continuously from Hellenistic times to Byzantine times. In Byzantine times, an important rock-cut monastery belonged to the town. The town is located in the Phrygian Karahallımarker area, near the village of Karayakuplu (Uşak Provincemarker, Aegean Region, Turkeymarker). The ancient site of Tymion identified by Peter Lampe is located not far away at the Turkish village of Şükranje. For the Montanists, the high plane between Pepuza and Tymion was an ideal landing place for the heavenly New Jerusalem.

2) Emperor Lalibela of Ethiopiamarker built the city of Lalibelamarker as a new reconstructed Jerusalem in response to the Muslim capture of Jerusalem by Saladin's forces in 1187. Also, the New Jerusalem Monastery in Russiamarker takes its name from the heavenly Jerusalem.

Protestant denominations

For the most part, Protestant views of the New Jerusalem fall in line with the Catholic understanding. However, there are exceptions.


Lutheran minister John Christopher Hartwick unsuccessfully attempted to establish the intentional community of New Jerusalem in Otsego County, New Yorkmarker and elsewhere.


The New Jerusalem was an important theme in the Puritan colonization of New Englandmarker in the 17th century. The Puritans were inspired by the passages in Revelations about the New Jerusalem, which they interpreted as being a symbol for the New World. The Puritans saw themselves as the builders of the New Jerusalem on earth. This idea was foundational to American nationalism.

Emerging Church, Liberation Theology, and Liberal Theology

The emerging church movement, liberation theology, and liberal or progressive Christianity may hold very different views on the exact nature of the concept of the New Jerusalem, although this is to be expected in the generally non-dogmatic formulations of these movements. However, in this context, it is more likely to refer to a future goal of a harmonious, peaceful world, outside of the traditional view of prophecy and eschatology.

Restorationist movements


Ecclesiastic Swedenborgians often refer to their organizations as part of or contributing to the New Jerusalem as explained by Emanuel Swedenborg in such books as New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine, Apocalypse Revealed, and Apocalypse Explained. According to Swedenborg, the New Jerusalem described in the Bible is a symbol for a new dispensation that was to replace/restore Christianity. Also according to these books, this New Jerusalem began to be established around 1757. This stems from their belief that Jerusalemmarker itself is a symbol of the Church, and so the New Jerusalem in the Bible is a prophetic description of a New Church.

Latter Day Saint

The Latter Day Saint movement (Mormonism) refers to the New Jerusalem as Zion. Joseph Smith, Jr., the man who restored The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, prophesied that God will establish the New Jerusalem at the site of the Temple Lot in the present-day city of Independence, Missourimarker. Smith drafted a detailed plat of Zion based on the biblical description of the New Jerusalem.

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that anointed Christians serving as Kings and Priests (144,000)

British Israelism

Richard Brothers, the originator of British Israelism, developed a viewpoint explained by Adrian Gilbert in his 2002 book The New Jerusalem. Gilbert proposes a secret tradition, that the British are descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel, an idea known as British Israelism, and that the capital city of Britain should therefore be re-modeled as a New Jerusalem for the coming Age of Enlightenment. Supposedly this idea was already present in 6th England, and that it reached its height of influence during and just after the First World War; certain buildings, such as St Paul's Cathedralmarker, supposedly contain elements of the plan in their design.


Bedwardism, a Jamaican religious movement active between 1889 and 1921, asserted that August Town (a suburb of Kingstonmarker) was the New Jerusalem for the western hemisphere, and that Union Camp, where Alexander Bedward's Free Baptist Church was located, was Zion. This movement fell apart when Bedward was arrested in 1921.


Kimbanguism, a Congolese sectarian church founded in 1921 by Simon Kimbangu, refers to Kimbangu's birthplace in Nkamba, Congo (a village near Mbanza-Ngungumarker), as New Jerusalem, where he reputedly performed miracles. Like Bedward, Kimbangu was imprisoned for life in the year 1921, however his movement continues with many followers to the present.

The Kimbanguist believe that people of the Nkamba village saw the New Jerusalem descending from heaven (a building) physically in 1935, by which time Prophet Simon Kimbangu was in prison. The Kimbanguist has constructed this same design of the building, calling it Nkamba New Jerusalem, in reference to Revelation 21; it has a river with supposed healing power.

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith views the New Jerusalem as the renewal of religion that takes place about every thousand years and which secures the prosperity of the human world. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, identified the New Jerusalem with his claimed revelation (the word of God), and more specifically with the Law of God.

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son, further explains that the New Jerusalem which descends from heaven is not an actual city which is renewed, but the law of God since it descends from heaven through a new revelation and it is renewed.Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, stated that specifically Bahá'u'lláh's book of laws, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, is the new Jerusalem. Bahá'u'lláh, in the Tablet of Carmel, also states that the new Jerusalem had appeared upon the new Mount Zion, Mount Carmelmarker.


Some Muslims claim that Kaabamarker, the Most Holy Place in Islam, has several similarities to the New Jerusalem. The Kaaba is a large cuboidal building located inside the mosque known as al-Masjid al-Harammarker in Meccamarker. Even though Kaaba is an asymmetrical and imperfect cube, Muslims believe it is comparable to Biblical explanation of perfect cube of 12,000 x 12,000 x 12,000 stadia. According to the Qur'an, the Kaaba was first started by Adam, with one stone, then built by Ibrahim and his son Ismail. Islamic traditions, contradicting the Qur'an, assert that the Kaaba "reflects" a house in heaven called al-Baytu l-Maˤmur ( ) and that it was first built by the first man, Adam. Ibrahim and Ismail rebuilt the Kaaba on the old foundations.

Jerusalem is the third most holy city in Islam, after Mecca and Medina, and it is the place of many of the holy Prophets of Islam such as Jesus son of Mary, David, Solomon etc.


The concept of the New Jerusalem as an ideal or mobile city has influenced utopianism, science fiction, urban planning, and architecture.

Margaret Wertheim suggests in The Pearly Gates of CyberSpace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet that cyberspace has replaced the New Jerusalem in transhumanism.

American pseudophilosopher Gene Ray has referred to the cubic interpretation of the New Jerusalem in an effort to express his Time Cube theory to religious believers who will only take seriously Biblical scriptures.


References to the New Jerusalem in (especially Christian) literature and music abound. Some notable examples follow.

The New Jerusalem is the subject of the Medieval allegorical poem Pearl. Pilgrim's Progress features a Celestial City based on the New Jerusalem.

"And did those feet in ancient time", a famous poem by William Blake, mentions the New Jerusalem as the ideal society that should be built on England's "green and pleasant land". In turn, Christian Socialists drew on this inspiration to envision an explicitly socialist society that could be built in the here and now through political work.

In Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the murderer and protagonist Raskolnikov argues to Porfiry, the detective investigating his murders, that great men such as himself, in the process of becoming great men, will have to cast off absolute morality and commit crimes until such time as humanity has established the perfect society, "the New Jerusalem." The inspector retorts, "So, you believe in the New Jerusalem. You must believe in God, then."


  • Bernet, Claus: The Heavenly Jerusalem as a Central Belief in Radical Pietism in the Eighteenth Century, in: The Covenant Quarterly, 63, 4, 2005, p. 3-19.
  • La Cité de Dieu, ed. by Martin Hengel, Tübingen 2000.
  • La Gerusalemme celeste, ed. by Maria Luisa Gatti Perer, Milano 1983.
  • Kühnel, Bianca: From the Earthly to the Heavenly Jerusalem. Representations of the Holy City in Christian Art of the First Millennium, Rom 1987.
  • W. Tabbernee/Peter Lampe, Pepouza and Tymion: The Discovery and Archaeological Exploration of a Lost Ancient City and an Imperial Estate (deGruyter: Berlin/New York, 2008) ISBN 978-3-11-019455-5 und ISBN 978-3-11-020859-7

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