The Bible’s answer

“New Jerusalem,” an expression that appears twice in the Bible, is a symbolic city that represents the group of Jesus’ followers who go to heaven to rule with him in God’s Kingdom. (Revelation 3:​12; 21:2) The Bible shows that this group can also be called the bride of Christ.

Keys to identifying New Jerusalem

  1. New Jerusalem is in heaven. Each time the Bible mentions New Jerusalem, it is said to come down from heaven, where angels guard the city’s gates. (Revelation 3:​12; 21:​2, 10, 12) Also, the city’s great size proves that it could not be on earth. It is a cube measuring “12,000 stadia,” or “furlongs,” around. * (Revelation 21:16; King James Version) Its sides would thus be almost 560 kilometers (350 mi) high, extending into space.

  2. New Jerusalem is made up of a group of Jesus’ followers, the bride of Christ. New Jerusalem is called “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” (Revelation 21:​9, 10) In this symbolic description, the Lamb refers to Jesus Christ. (John 1:​29; Revelation 5:​12) “The Lamb’s wife,” Christ’s bride, represents Christians who will be united with Jesus in heaven. The Bible likens the relationship between Jesus and these Christians to that of a husband and wife. (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:​23-​25) In addition, the foundation stones of New Jerusalem are inscribed with “the 12 names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14) This detail helps to confirm the identity of New Jerusalem, since Christians who are called to life in heaven are “built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.”​—Ephesians 2:​20.

  3. New Jerusalem is part of a government. Ancient Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, the place where King David, his son Solomon, and their descendants ruled “on Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chronicles 29:23) Jerusalem, called “the holy city,” thus represented God’s rulership in the family line of David. (Nehemiah 11:1) New Jerusalem, also called “the holy city,” is made up of those who join Jesus in heaven “to rule as kings over the earth.”​—Revelation 5:​9, 10; 21:2.

  4. New Jerusalem brings blessings to people on earth. New Jerusalem is depicted as “coming down out of heaven from God,” showing that God uses it to affect matters outside of heaven. (Revelation 21:2) This expression links New Jerusalem with God’s Kingdom, which God uses to accomplish his will “as in heaven, also on earth.” (Matthew 6:​10) God’s purpose for people on earth includes these blessings:

    • Removal of sin. “A river of water of life” flows from New Jerusalem and supports “trees of life” that are “for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:​1, 2) This physical and spiritual healing will remove sin and enable people to gain perfect life, as God originally intended.​—Romans 8:​21.

    • Good relations between God and humankind. Sin has alienated humans from God. (Isaiah 59:2) The removal of sin will allow for the complete fulfillment of this prophecy: “The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them.”​—Revelation 21:3.

    • The end of suffering and death. By means of his Kingdom, God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”​—Revelation 21:4.

^ par. 5 A stadium was a measure of length used by the Romans that equaled 185 meters (607 ft).