This City, the “focus” of Revelation chapter 21, has an unusual “foundation!” Surely, “multi-layered” would be an apt description for this beautiful Thing. John the Disciple of Jesus, from the small Island of Patmos, was an eyewitness to the city’s descent from God out of Heaven. “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Revelation 21:14
I take these to be 12 foundations, one secured on the top of another. The Greek noun “foundations” is “themelios,” derived from the verb “tithemi.” Something “set in place.” Laid down, fixed, appointed. The idea of stability, permanence is found here.
And “12” is one of God’s perfect numbers of completion, often being associated with government, oversight, administration. The Greek number twelve is spelled as “dodeka,” blending the numbers “two” (“duo”) and “ten” (“deka” as in decade).
Apparently engraved into each of these subsections of foundation … is one of the names of the 12 Disciples or Apostles. Interesting! The name “disciple” merely means “learner,” a student of some rabbi in those times. The name “apostle” means one “sent, deputized, authorized” to give a message! Even “to correct some wrong” that’s been observed by the Master!
The names of these 12 Apostles are given (collectively) four different times in the New Testament. In Matthew 10:2-4 and Mark 3:13-19 and Luke 6:12-16 and in Acts 1:13-14. There are some name variations though, best explained at another time. (Were there 2 different men named Judas in that Group? Exactly who was Thaddeus?) But no contradictions appear, for sure!
As for the importance of the 12 Apostles, they are to be respected but not venerated, not worshipped! Certainly not used as mediators of prayer! And NO, Peter did not become a Pope, not ever!
Yet Paul does say this of the men. “Now therefore ye (born-again people) are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God (the Church); and are built upon the foundation of THE APOSTLES and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22
They are important as the first real Preachers in the Church!
Oh, I know someone is asking. “Who took Judas’ place, the betrayer?” This text today simply does not say, no hint at all. At least as far as I can see. Acts 1:26 says of the decision made in the Upper Room … “And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon MATTHIAS; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Seems clear enough.
Yet Paul called himself an Apostle, many a time. Even saying this about the Resurrected Jesus, “And last of all He was seen of ME ALSO, as of one born out of due time.” First Corinthians 15:8, quite a statement.
And we’ll know for sure, when we step inside New Jerusalem! Into this gloriously fresh, miraculous, God-created City, one that gets a whole chapter of Scripture, filled with descriptors. When we arrive, let’s just go read those foundation stones! After we’ve adored Jesus for a millennium or so!
Truly not Rome, “New Jerusalem” is the “Eternal City!”
And what a Corner Stone joins all these! “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” But really all of us who are saved … are equally, fundamentally, organically, connected to Jesus Christ, God the Son!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell