Source: The Savior and the Sea: The Theological Meaning Behind the Sea’s Absence in Revelation 21:1

By: Brian G. Chilton

I enjoy going to the beach. There is something soothing and therapeutic about the sound of the ocean’s waves crashing upon the shore. The ocean’s rhythmic sound patterns tend to alleviate the stress and strains of life. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the ocean’s horizon are something that no artist can duplicate.

For this reason, Revelation 21:1 has always seemed odd to me. The text reads, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more” (Rev. 21:1). Why are oceans and seas not found in the new creation? Heaven is greater than anything possibility imaginable in this creation. If something is good in this creation, then it will be great in the next one. If that is the case, then why would one of God’s most beautiful creations not be found there? Revelation makes it clear that the new creation would have water. Revelation 22:1 notes the existence of a “river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1). If there are rivers, would they not pour out into a larger body of water that would be comparable to modern oceans?

The absence of the sea in the new creation holds a deeper theological issue and is most likely not to be taken literally. The symbol speaks to a literal truth. But the concept of the sea is an image that resonates with the overall teaching of Scripture. I have always been taught that the best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture. With that in mind, what does the sea represent throughout the pages of Scripture?

The Sea as a Representation of Chaos

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