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Who are the "Nations", Greek ethnos, who walk by the light of "new Jerusalem" referred to in Revelation 21:24?

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The operative word here ἔθνος which appears in Rev 21:24 in the plural neuter form, ἔθνη. The word has a few distinct meanings:

  • a people group different/foreign to some specific group, eg, Matt 10:18, Acts 14:5, 21:21, etc
  • "gentiles", ie, non-Jews, eg, Rom 16:4, Gal 2:12, Eph 3:1, etc.
  • all the people-groups of the world collectively, eg: Matt 24:14, 30, Acts 2:5, 3:25, 17:26, Luke 4:5, 21:25, etc.

It is when this word appears in the plural, that it most often means (especially as used in the book of Revelation) nations generally and collectively, particularly when preceded by "all" as in "all nations". The occurrence in Revelation is frequent. Here is a sample:

  • Rev 5:9 - persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. And they sang a new song
  • Rev 7:9 - After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe, people and language ...
  • Rev 10:11 - You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.
  • Rev 11:9 - some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies ...
  • Rev 19:15 - And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter.
  • Rev 11:18 - The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging ...
  • Rev 12:5 - male child, who "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter."
  • Rev 14:6 - to those who live on the earth- to every nation, tribe, language and people.
  • Rev 15:4 - For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you,
  • Rev 13:7 - authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. And the beast was allowed to wage war
  • Rev 16:19 - and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great
  • Rev 17:15 - the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.
  • Rev 18:3 - For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.
  • Rev 20:3 - to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended
  • Rev 20:8 - and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth- Gog and Magog
  • Rev 21:26 - And they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
  • Rev 22:2 - leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations

Note that on occasions the "nations" are clearly wicked and at other times, the "nations" are clearly saved people from all the nations. The fact that "nations" in Rev 21:24 are in the New Jerusalem and walk by the light of the glory of God (V23) shows that these people from all the nations are the saved from all over the earth.

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  • The word often corresponds quite well to the modern English word "ethnic" or "ethnicity". Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 2:40
  • @RayButterworth - indeed - our English word has its origin in the Greek ethnos so it is no surprise that they have similar meanings
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 5:40
  • Thank You Dottard, very good explanation
    – ACME
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 18:18

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