The short answer is that these are three distinct places. The new earth will be the eternal dwelling place of believers in Jesus the Christ. The new earth and the new heavens are sometimes referred to as the “eternal state.” Scripture gives us a few details of the new heavens and new earth.
The current heavens and earth have long been subject to God’s curse because of mankind’s sin. All creation “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22) as it awaits the fulfillment of God’s plan and “the children of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). Heaven and earth will pass away (Mark 13:31), and they will be replaced by the new heavens and the new earth. At that time, the Lord, seated on His throne, says, “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5. In the new creation, sin will be totally eradicated, and “there shall be no more curse” (Revelation 22:3)
The new heaven and new earth are also mentioned in Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22, and 2 Peter 3:13. Peter states that the new heaven and new earth will be “where righteousness dwells.” Isaiah states that “the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” Things will be completely new, and the old order of things, with the accompanying sorrow and tragedy, will be gone.
The new earth will be free from sin, evil, sickness, suffering, and death. It will be similar to our current earth, but without the curse of sin. It will be earth as God originally intended it to be. It will be Eden restored.
A major feature of the New Earth will be the New Jerusalem, which will be a distinct city in a location on the New Earth. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Revelation 21:2.
This city itself will have streets of gold and pearly gates (Revelation 22:2). This city represents the final state of redeemed mankind, forever in direct fellowship with God:
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Revelation 21:3
“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.” Revelation 22:3–4
In the new earth, there are seven things notable for their absence—seven things that are “no more”: • no more sea (Revelation 21:1) • no more death (Revelation 21:4) • no more mourning (Revelation 21:4) • no more weeping (Revelation 21:4) • no more pain (Revelation 21:4) • no more curse (Revelation 22:3) • no more night (Revelation 22:5)
The New Heaven is a place where mankind will never go, it will be a place for God and the Angels alone. This in part, is due to man having been in Heaven prior to being perfected. This is to say that the majority of mankind, even after having been in Heaven, will still make the decision to side with Satan after the 1000 year reign when he is released and goes out to deceive the nations. These nations are made up of only Christians (Revelation 20:7–9). The creation of the new heavens and new earth brings the promise that God “will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). This event comes after the tribulation, after the Lord’s second coming, after the millennial kingdom, after the final rebellion, after the final judgment of Satan, and after the Great White Throne Judgment. The brief description of the new heavens and new earth is the last glimpse into eternity that the Bible gives.
The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally Gods physical dwelling on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22–24; and 13:14), but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.
The New Jerusalem will be massive, John records that the city is nearly 1,500 miles long, and it is as wide and as high as it is long—a perfect cube (Revelation 21:15–17). The city will be dazzling in every way. It is lighted by the glory of God (Rev. 21:23). It’s twelve foundations, bear the names of the twelve apostles. “And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones.” (Rev.21:19). It has twelve gates, each made of a single pearl, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (verses 12 and 21). The street will be made of pure translucent gold (verse 21).
The New Jerusalem will be a place of unimagined blessing. The curse of the old earth will be gone (Revelation 22:3). In the city are the tree of life “for the healing of the nations” and the river of life (verses 1–2). “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7. The New Jerusalem is the ultimate fulfillment of all God’s promises. The New Jerusalem is God’s goodness made fully manifest.
In Revelation 21, the recorded history of man is at its end. Christ has gathered His church in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17). The Tribulation has passed (Revelation 6—18). The battle of Armageddon has been fought and won by Christ (Revelation 19:17–21). Satan has been chained for the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1–3). A new, temple has been established in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40—48). The final rebellion against God has been quashed, and Satan has received his punishment, an eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7–10.) The Great White Throne Judgment has taken place, and mankind has been judged (Revelation 20:11–15).
The city will be filled with God’s redeemed children. The New Jerusalem is the righteous counter to Babylon (Revelation 17), destroyed by God’s judgment (Revelation 18).