In a previous study I contrasted the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 with the Great Whore of Revelation 17. In my studies of Revelation 17 I showed that the Great Whore was actually Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Roman armies in 70 AD. If one speaks of the New Jerusalem it is hardly possible not to remember that there was, in fact, an old Jerusalem, hence my pointing to Revelation 17. With this in mind, Paul does the very same thing in his epistle to the Galatians! Notice:
Tell me, you who want to be subject to law, will you not listen to what the law says? For the Scripture says that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave girl, the other by a free woman. But the child of the slave girl was born in the ordinary course of nature, while the child of the free woman was born to fulfill the promise. This is spoken as an allegory. For these women are two covenants, one coming from Mount Sinai, bearing children that are to be slaves; that is, Hagar (and Hagar means Mount Sinai, in Arabia) and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for Jerusalem is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. (Galatians 4:21-26 Williams)
First of all, we need to understand that both “the present Jerusalem” (from Paul’s perspective) and the Jerusalem “that is above” represents two covenants! First there was the Old Covenant, then came the New Covenant. This point alone places the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 in the first century AD. The New Jerusalem cannot be a future event, if the New Covenant is in force today. Secondly, these things: Abraham’s two sons, his wives Sarah and Hagar, and the present Jerusalem and the Jerusalem that is above, each pair represent an allegory of the two covenants: the old and the new. If this is logical and true, then by what method of logic must the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 be a literal, physical city and not an allegory pointing to the New Covenant being established at the appearance of the new heaven and the new earth?
The question, then, arises: when would the new heaven and the new earth (the New Covenant) be established? Paul tells us in Galatians 4:30 that that event would occur at the time of the judgment, or at the coming of the Lord, when Hagar and her son (the Old Covenant) were cast out, because the bond woman and her son would not inherit with the son of the free woman (the New Covenant)!
Jesus, also, clearly spells this out in his parables, which he spoke during the week before his crucifixion. First of all, in the Parable of the Householder (Matthew 21:33-39, Jesus spoke of a man who planted a vineyard and leased it out to tenants. At the time of the harvest, the householder sent out his servants to receive his payment. The tenants mistreated them and killed some. When the householder sent his son the tenants cast him out of the vineyard and slew him. Jesus then asked his listeners what the householder would do to those tenants, and they admitted that he would destroy them all (Matthew 21:40-41). Jesus then said that the Kingdom of God would be taken from those who were listening and give it to others who would render the fruits of the vineyard to the owner (Matthew 21:43), and the chief priests and the Pharisees understood that Jesus had spoken of them (Matthew 21:45)!
Apparently the Jewish authorities objected to Jesus’ analysis, so he answered them with another parable: The Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14). In this parable a king made a marriage for his son. He sent out his servants to those he had invited, but they made excuses and wouldn’t come. The king sent out other servants, saying the wedding is ready: “Come!” However, those men mistreated and slew the servants of the king. The king became angry and sent out his armies and slew those murders and burnt their city (Matthew 22:1-7), and, because the wedding was ready, he invited new guests to come and enjoy what the king prepared (Matthew 22:8-9).
The point is this. The Old Covenant ended in 70 AD when Jesus’ armies destroyed Jerusalem, the city which persecuted and killed his servants (Matthew 22:7). The wedding was ready and took place (Matthew 22:10-14; Revelation 21:1-2). The timing of this event cannot be removed from the first century AD. This is when the Old Covenant ended, and in 70 AD the New Covenant was established, and the authority over the Vineyard passed from the wicked tenants to those producing the fruit thereof (cp. Matthew 21:43). So, Paul’s allegory (Galatians 4:21-26) clearly shows that the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 is the very same as Paul’s “Jerusalem that is above” (Galatians 4:26), which Paul claims was the “mother” of believers in the first century AD! If, therefore, the New Jerusalem existed in the first century AD, how could it be yet future, as is concluded by so many modern Christian scholars?