“And there is no longer any sea” — from Revelation 21:1 / Thee Different Views

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In Revelation 21, John begins to describe the new eternal kingdom. In verse one we read,

And 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.

What do you suppose it means “and there is no longer any sea?” Here are three different ideas:

1. John MacArthur suggests this means that we will no longer have water, that we will no longer need water to exist, that our glorified bodies and all that grows on the earth will be based on a completely different life principle; we will live by the “water of life” (Rev. 22:1, 17), which he suggests is not H20, but is a heavenly water (Cited in the Article, Will Heaven Have Oceans?).

2. Others, like Steven Lawson, suggest that “the earth will be restored to its original splendor,” which is an earth without the oceans and seas; for Lawson says that, according to Christian scientists, the oceans and seas that we have now came as a result of the flood (Cited in the book Heaven, by Randy Alcorn).

3. Still others take “sea” not as literal water but as a biblical symbol of evil (Isa. 57:20; Ps. 74:13-14; 89:8-10), suggesting that the term “there is no longer any sea,” means that the new earth will no longer be plagued with evil.

Well, I have to reject the third view because I take Revelation 21:1 more literally. The other two views are both very interesting, and I can’t decide which I think is more correct—possibly a combination of the two.  What do you think?

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About Stephen Nielsen

I'm an author, a self publisher, and a painting contractor. I live in beautiful Minnesota, USA . Welcome to my blog site.
This entry was posted in Bible Passages on Prophecy, Kingdom of God, Prophecy Topics, Revelation 21;1 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “And there is no longer any sea” — from Revelation 21:1 / Thee Different Views

  1. Great question, Stephen! I disagree with 1 and 2, and partially with 3.

    (1) Although I highly respect John MacArthur, I would disagree that our glorified bodies will no longer have need for water. When God created man in perfection (“very good”) at the beginning, there was still need for water – the human body is around 60% water and dehydration can cause death very quickly. I believe our glorified bodies will be just like the bodies God created in the beginning. Furthermore, Revelation 22:1 describes a river flowing from the throne of God that waters the Tree of Life which is on both sides of the river, so water will not cease to exist. (More could be said on this, but I’ll stop for now.)

    (2) The notion of no oceans at the beginning fails to take into account Genesis 1:2, 7, 9-10, 20-23. These creation verses clearly teach that there were oceans and seas. Furthermore, Genesis 2 describes four rivers running through the Garden of Eden. To where would these rivers flow, if there were no reservoirs to collect the water?

    (3). While I agree that “seas” in Revelation are symbolic of “the masses” of people, I would not take this verse literally to mean there are no more oceans. I believe this verse is not speaking of a literal “sea,” but rather is in keeping with the symbolism of past uses of the word in Revelation. So the idea that this is speaking of “evil” (people) I think is correct. At the same time, this is no indication the oceans will be done away with. Beginning with the second verse, John goes into a description of the “New Jerusalem” which comes down from heaven to earth. In this city (which has dimensions), the conditions of which are not like the conditions on earth: there is no “need” of sun or moon, “for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). This description applies to the city itself, not necessarily to the rest of the earth on which the city exists. So, the rest of the re-made earth outside of the city will be, I think, like God’s original “very good” creation, which will include oceans.

    • Thank you so much Ernesto for these great comments. I appreciate the time you have given to it. This discussion along with the comments James made below are very valuable to me and will take them to heart.

  2. James J. S. Johnson says:

    Of the 3 views I decline #3 because it allegorizes a word, without clear warrant in the context for doing so, yet that word (THALASSA — used 91 times in the N.T., translated “sea”) is routinely used to denote a large body of ocean-contiguous saltwater, such as the Mediterranean Sea (e.g., Acts 27:38), yet it is also used of the Sea of Galilee (e.g., Matthew 4:18), which is a freshwater lake. It is relevant that the word THALASSA is used repeatedly by John, in the Book of Revelation, to denote oceanic waters in the earth (e.g., Revelation 7:2; 12:12; 14:7; 18:17-21; 20:8; etc.), quite literally referring to seawaters that oceanographers study and fishermen fish in. If I’m going to err, exegetically, I want to err on the side of being too literal — over time I have found that to be a safe approach. Likewise, I reject MacArthur’s notion that there is no more “water”, because MacArthur errs by adding to the Word (i.e., by stretching the word “sea” to effectively include all “water”). Moreover, the specific passage (Revelation 22:1) refers to the earth not having any “sea” , but that is not the same as if the future earth had no “water”. So that seems to leave only option #2, unless there is a contextually acceptable option #4, which there might be — because the wording of Revelation 21:1 does not say “there is no sea inside the new earth”, although it is easy to infer that conclusion. What Revelation 22:1 literally says is: (1) that John saw a new heaven and new earth; and (2) that gone (passed away) are the prior (first/former) heaven, the prior (first/former) earth, and “the sea”. So could that mean that only the “former” sea [notice that THALASSA here is a singular noun] is gone, — yet there might be a new set of smaller “seas” sprinkled within the new earth, that will be unlike the former “sea”? It will be an adventure to find out, when we get there!

    • Thank you so much James. My #3 I reject because usually when a term is not literal it sounds more descriptive and poetic. This is not true at all in Rev. 21:1. Also MacArthur’s view to me is just really way out there! I like my point 2 best but I am not 100% sure. I do appreciate your scholarship on this.

  3. Lee says:

    Great article, Stephen, and answers from James and Ernesto. Me? I don’t have anything to add other than I’ll have to wait until that time.

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