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Revelation 21 and 22 describe a New Heaven and New Earth. Some teach that these will be the present heaven and earth "cleansed" or "refreshed" and others say these are completely new.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. (Revelation 21:1)

Both heaven and earth are described with declensions of the Greek word καινὸs.

Which sense of "new" is being used to describe the New Heavens and New Earth in Revelation?

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  • A preacher I know once said, "God doesn't make all new things; God makes all things new." There was nothing wrong with the heavens and earth which God originally spoke into existence. Sin, however, messed them up. The good news is that God will restore them to their former, pre-sin, pristine state. What he will one day do to believers' mortal bodies in the blink of an eye (see Philippians 3:21--"who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself), he will also do Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 1:23
  • to his groaning creation which presently is suffering the pains of childbirth. The "slavery to corruption" will be turned into the freedom of all things made new (see Romans 8:18-25). Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 1:27
  • Before we went to the moon it meant "renewed", but after it meant "new". Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 9:12

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Though some make a case for a renewal of the Heavens and earth based on such references as “the everlasting hills” (Genesis 49:26; Habakkuk 3:6) and the earth being “established forever” (Psalms 78:69; 104:5; 125:1-2), when Peter refers to the New Heavens and New Earth in 2 Peter 3:13, he introduces them by stating:

3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. 3:11 Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, 3:12 while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! (2 Peter 3:10-12 NET)

The words he uses forcefully declare the present Earth and Heavens will be done away with:

  • Disappear (v. 10; Greek pareleusontai from pararcheomai) means “pass away,” “come to an end,” or “disappear” in Matthew 5:18; 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17; and 21:33. These all compare the words of Christ which will not pass to the earth which will pass. James 1:10 uses the word to compare life to fading flowers of grass.
  • Destroyed (v. 10, 11, and 12; Greek luthesatai from luo) Acts 27:41; Ephesians 2:14; 1 John 3:8. (It can also be used in such instances as “untie” Mark 1:7; Revelation 20:7)
  • Melt away (v. 12; Greek teketai). Though this is the only time it is used in Scripture, it is used from Homer and on for “to make liquid.”

Some continue to argue that fire is used biblically to purify, such as when melting ore so the dross can be removed (Ezekiel 22:18; Jeremiah 6:28-30; Proverbs 17:3; and others). While true, the numerous references in Peter to the New Heavens and New Earth being completely destroyed push the conclusion to the Heaven and Earth in Revelation 21 and 22 being completely new things. Likewise, John states in Revelation 20:11:

Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. (NET)

The present Heaven and Earth flee from Jesus before the New Heavens and Earth are seen. The New Jerusalem descends from Heaven (Revelation 21:2). Using the same Greek word (kainos) to describe the new city as used for the new heavens and earth, it is a brand new city, not the old Jerusalem purified.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah 51:6 prophesies “the heavens will vanish like smoke and the earth will wear out.” Psalm 102:25-26 says the earth and heavens “will perish, but [God will] remain; they will wear out like a garment. Like clothing, you will change them and they will be discarded.”

Taken together, the New Heavens and New Earth are new creations not the present Heavens and Earth refined and purified.

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Gr. "kainos" Strongs 2537 - "properly, new in quality (innovation), fresh in development or opportunity – because "not found exactly like this before."

Reference is from Old Testament. Isa. 65:17-18, discussing the return from the Babylonian captivity,

"17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy."

It was the renewing of the children of Israel's return unto God to live according to His commandments of the Mosaic covenant. It looked forward to the new heavens and new earth covenant, the new covenant under the gospel of Christ. (2 Pet. 3:13)

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Does “new” in New Heavens and New Earth means “renewed” or “new creation”?

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. (Revelation 21:1)

New Heavens and a New Earth

God promises to restore a repentant remnant after their return from exile in Babylon. Through Isaiah, God says:

Isaiah 65:17 NASB

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.

The above prophecy was initially fulfilled when the remnant Israelites returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon. What happened then? There was no literally "new heavens and a new earth" . The "new earth" was the cleansed new society made up of the restored Jewish remnant.

The "new heavens" at the time constituted the governorship of Zerubbabel supported by High Priest Joshua and centered at Jerusalem.

The earth was created to last forever.

The earth was created at God's pleasure and it was created to remain forever.God saw that everything He created was "very good," they were no flaws.(Gen. 1:31-2:2) and proceeded to rest from any further creative work on earth.

Psalm 104:5 NET " He established the earth on its foundations; it will never be moved."

Psalm 78:69 NASB "And He built His sanctuary like the heights Like the earth which He has established forever."

Ecclesiastes 1:4 NET "A generation comes and a generation goes, but the earth remains[c] the same through the ages.!

Peter echoed Isaiah’s prophecy and showed that it had a future fulfillment. (2 Peter 3:13) The prophetic vision of Revelation 21:1-4 also points to the time of “a new heaven” and “a new earth”.

2 Peter 3:13 NASB

13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Similarly, Revelation 21:1 says:

Revelation 21:1-4 NASB The New Heaven and Earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His [a]people and God Himself will be among them[b], 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

The "new earth", God promises to mankind and not to spirit creatures " that there will no longer be any death, nor any mourning, or pain, this gives assurance that a new earthly society< "New Earth, " of humankind living under the “new heaven”- (tabernacle of God or God's kingdom Mt 6:10, Daniel 2:44) will experience restoration of mind and body to fullness of health and everlasting life as earthly “children of God.”(1 John 3:1, John 1:12-13).

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Which sense of "new" is being used to describe the New Heavens and New Earth in Revelation?
With Humility, I'll take the position that New is being used with the sense of renewed or renovated, or otherwise turned into a new thing. The New Heaven and New Earth is the old creation made new.

The verse that really turned me on to this idea was Romans 8:

Romans 8:18-23 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Verse 19-21 especially indicate to me that the creation, heaven & earth, whether poetically or otherwise, are waiting - that the one who subjected them to futility provides this hope - that they too will be freed from corruption as we are. The parallel of our redemption with the redemption of creation is difficult for me to ignore.

The idea that the resurrection and the associated day of judgment is a good thing for the non-human creation is as old as the Old Testament -

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalms 96:11-13

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
9 before the Lord, for he comes
to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity. -Psalms 98:7-9

God promises the restoration of all things:

Acts 3:19-21 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

And God promises to make all things new:

Revelation 21:5 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

So with all these things in mind, when we encounter phrases like Heaven and Earth passing away, we can recognize that the same language is used to describe human passing away (James 1:10).

Indeed our own spiritual transformation is described in terms similar to that of the passing of the old heaven and Earth and the arrival of the new:

2 Corinthians 5:17 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

And so, just like how we may pass away, and the old man is replaced with the new - out of the fiery ashes of the Old Heaven and Old Earth will come the New Heaven and New Earth. Just like how the New Adam is the old humanity made new, so too will the New Creation be the old creation made new. And just as how our new bodies will be grander and more glorious than the old, we should also expect the New Heaven and New Earth to be gloriously transformed as they obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

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Does "new" in New Heavens and New Earth mean "renewed" or "new creation"? I think The reason the answer is relevant is because the asker wonders what value is their life if the outcome of their life of good deeds that flowed out of their new birth, out of their love and devotion to God, is that all of their life's energy, their good work, is annihilated.

Having crushed the curse, through Christ, God the Holy Spirit offers humans the opportunity to be the light of the world, to collaborate with him by spending the 86% of their days that He requires them to work unto Him.

In eternity, something of your love response to being saved by Christ, will remain. Some things you do in response are eternal, while physically alive on earth you make an eternal contribution. That contribution will liberate some person or some group of persons or something from the curse of oppressive evil suffering or pain. Eternity renewed paradise will bear the marks of your response to God. His followers burn sin and evil out of the spheres of influence that God increasingly rewards them with in exchange for acting out their faith through their daily work.

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