Gates of New Jerusalem

The gates

New Jerusalem has 12 gates that lead into the city(Rev. 21:12). They are most likely equidistant apart. There are 3 gates on the north, 3 on the east, 3 on the west and 3 on the south(Rev. 21:13). Though each gate has an angel guarding it(Rev. 21:12), they will never bet shut(Rev. 21:25). The city will never be under attack as all enemies of the Kingdom will be far away from it(Rev. 20:11-15).

Names of gates

The gates are named after the 12 tribes of Israel(Rev. 21:12). The book of Revelation doesn't specify which gates have which names. However the book of Ezekiel likely provides the answer as the city it describes also has 12 gates named after the tribes of Israel. Ezekiel is likely describing Jerusalem in the Millennium reign of Christ, and this could very well mirror New Jerusalem on a smaller scale. The north side's gates are Reuben, Judah and Levi(Eze. 48:31). The gates on the east side are Joseph, Benjamin and Dan(Eze. 48:32). The south side's gates are Simeon, Issachar and Zebulun(Eze. 48:33). The gates on the west side are Gad, Asher and Naphtali(Eze. 48:34).

Here's an illustration of where the gates are:

Significance of Pearls

Each gate is of a single pearl(Rev. 21:21), where the phrase "pearly gates" comes from. These are certainly no ordinary pearls as they are very large. The Bible doesn't say how large though they must be at least 8 feet in height so even the tallest people can enter in their resurrected bodies.

Pearls are hard but also shiny and beautiful. One unique aspect about them is their iridescence. This means their surface color changes based on the angle light is hitting them. The same effect is seen in soap bubbles. Pearls are so pretty they are used in necklaces and elaborate decorations. With this description, we can have a vivid idea of the beauty of New Jerusalem’s gates.

The fact they are pearls could be symbolic of the suffering Christ endured so people can live in New Jerusalem. Jesus compared the kingdom of Heaven to a pearl in a field that a merchant sells everything he has to get(Matt. 13:45-46).

Closing thoughts

Admission into the city is free. There will be no ID check at the gates to get in. Only those whose names are in the Lamb's Book of Life will enter(Rev. 21:27).

Last updated 2/21/2011