Revelation 20:15
And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
20:11-15 After the events just foretold, the end will speedily come; and there is no mention of any thing else, before the appearing of Christ to judge the world. This will be the great day: the Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, will then put on majesty and terror. The persons to be judged are the dead, small and great; young and old, low and high, poor and rich. None are so mean, but they have some talents to account for; and none so great, as to avoid having to account for them. Not only those alive at the coming of Christ, but all the dead. There is a book of remembrance both for good and bad: and the book of the sinner's conscience, though formerly secret, will then be opened. Every man will recollect all his past actions, though he had long forgotten many of them. Another book shall be opened, the book of the Scriptures, the rule of life; it represents the Lord's knowledge of his people, and his declaring their repentance, faith, and good works; showing the blessings of the new covenant. By their works men shall be justified or condemned; he will try their principles by their practices. Those justified and acquitted by the gospel, shall be justified and acquitted by the Judge, and shall enter into eternal life, having nothing more to fear from death, or hell, or wicked men; for these are all destroyed together. This is the second death; it is the final separation of sinners from God. Let it be our great concern to see whether our Bibles justify or condemn us now; for Christ will judge the secrets of all men according to the gospel. Who shall dwell with devouring flames?And whosoever - All persons, of all ranks, ages, and conditions. No word could be more comprehensive than this. The single condition here stated, as being what would save any from being cast into the lake of fire, is, that they are "found written in the book of life." All besides these, princes, kings, nobles, philosophers, statesmen, conquerors; rich men and poor men; the bond and the free; the young and the aged; the frivolous, the vain, the proud, and the sober; the modest and the humble, will be doomed to the lake of fire. Unlike in all other things, they will be alike in the only thing on which their eternal destiny will depend - that they have not so lived that their names have become recorded in the book of life. As they will also be destitute of true religion, there will be a propriety that they shall share the same doom in the future world.

Written in the book of life - See the notes on Revelation 3:5.

Was cast into the lake of fire - See the notes on Matthew 25:41. That is, they will be doomed to a punishment which will be well represented by their lingering in a sea of fire forever. This is the termination of the judgment - the winding up of the affairs of men. The vision of John here rests for a moment on the doom of the wicked, and then turns to a more full contemplation of the happy lot of the righteous, as detailed in the two closing chapters of the book.

Section e. - Condition of things referred to in Revelation 20:11-15;

(1) There will be a general resurrection of the dead - of the righteous and the wicked. This is implied by the statement that the "dead, small and great," were seen to stand before God; that "the sea gave up the dead which were in it"; that "Death and Hades gave up their dead." All were there whose names were or were not written in the book of life.

(2) there will be a solemn and impartial judgment. How long a time this will occupy is not said, and is not necessary to be known - for time is of no consequence where there is an eternity of devotion - but it is said that they will be all judged "according to their works" - that is, strictly according to their character. They will receive no arbitrary doom; they will have no sentence which will not be just. See Matthew 25:31-46.

(3) this will be the "final" judgment. After this, the affairs of the race will be put on a different footing. This will be the end of the present arrangements; the end of the present dispensations; the end of human probation. The great question to be determined in regard to our world will have been settled; what the plan of redemption was intended to accomplish on the earth will have been accomplished; the agency of the Divine Spirit in converting sinners will have come to an end; and the means of grace, as such, will be employed no more. There is not here or elsewhere an intheation that beyond this period any of these things will exist, or that the work of redemption, as such, will extend into the world beyond the judgment. As there is no intheation that the condition of the righteous will be changed, so there is none that the condition of the wicked will be; as there is no hint that the righteous will ever be exposed to temptation, or to the danger of falling into sin, so there is none that the offers of salvation will ever again be made to the wicked. On the contrary, the whole representation is, that all beyond this will be fixed and unchangeable forever. See the notes on Revelation 22:11.

(4) the wicked will be destroyed, in what may be properly called the "second" death. As remarked in the notes, this does not mean that this death will in all respects resemble the first death, but there will be so many points of resemblance that it will be proper to call it "death." It does not mean that they will be "annihilated," for "death" never implies that. The meaning is, that this will be a cutting off from what is properly called "life," from hope, from happiness, and from peace, and a subjection to pain and agony, which it will be proper to call "death" - death in the most fearful form; death that will continue for ever. No statements in the Bible are more clear than those which are made on this point; no affirmation of the eternal punishment of the wicked "could be" more explicit than those which occur in the sacred Scriptures. See the Matthew 25:46 note, and 2 Thessalonians 1:9 note.

(5) this will be the end of the woes and calamities produced in the kingdom of God by sin. The reign of Satan and of Death, so far as the Redeemer's kingdom is concerned, will be at an end and henceforward the church will be safe from all the arts and efforts of its foes. Religion will be triumphant, and the affairs of the universe be reduced to permanent order.

(6) the preparation is thus made for the final triumph of the righteous - the state to which all things tend. The writer of this book has conducted the prospective history through all the times of persecution which awaited the church, and stated the principal forms of error which would prevail, and foretold the conflicts through which the church would pass, and described its eventful history to the millennial period, and to the final triumph of truth and righteousness; and now nothing remains to complete the plan of the work but to give a rapid sketch of the final condition of the redeemed. This is done in the two following chapters, and with this the work is ended.

15. The blissful lot of the righteous is not here specially mentioned as their bliss had commenced before the final judgment. Compare, however, Mt 25:34, 41, 46. The book of life: See Poole on "Revelation 20:12". And whosoever was not found written in the book of life,.... Upon the opening of it, Revelation 20:12 as all that worship the beast, and wonder after him, Revelation 13:8 and all wicked men, everyone of them:

was cast into the lake of fire; where are the devil, beast, and false prophet, Revelation 19:20. It is a saying of R. Isaac (m),

"woe to the wicked, who are not written "in the book", for they shall perish in hell for ever and ever:''

and in the Targum on Ezekiel 13:9 it is said of the false prophets,

"that , "in the writing of eternal life" (or in the book of eternal life), which is written for the righteous of the house of Israel, they shall not be written.''

There seems to be some allusion in the phrase used here, and in the preceding verse, and elsewhere in this book, to the lake Asphaltites, a sulphurous lake, where Sodom and Gomorrah stood, which the Jews call the salt sea, or the bituminous lake; and whatsoever was useless, or rejected, or abominable, or accursed, they used to say, to show their rejection and detestation of it, let it be cast into the sea of salt, or the bituminous lake; thus, for instance,

"any vessels that had on them the image of the sun, or of the moon, or of a dragon, , "let them cast them into the salt sea", or bituminous lake (n).''

(m) Tosaphta in Zohar in Gen. fol. 78. 2.((n) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 42. 2. Vid. ib. fol. 49. 1. &. 53. 1. & 71. 2. & Nazir, fol. 24. 2. & 26. 1, 2. Bava Metzia, fol. 52. 2. Temura, fol. 22. 2. & Meila, fol. 9. 2. & 10. 1.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
In Enoch (xxxviii. 5, xlviii. 9) the wicked are handed over by God to the saints, before whom they burn like straw in fire and sink like lead in water. The milder spirit of the Christian prophet abstains from making the saints thus punish or witness the punishment of the doomed (cf. on Revelation 14:10). In Apoc. Pet. 25 the souls of the murdered gaze on the torture of their former persecutors, crying ὁ θεὸς, δικαία σου ἡ κρίσις. These features, together with those of torturing angels (Dieterich, 60 f.) and Dantesque gradations of punishment (Dieterich, 206 f.), are conspicuous by their absence from John’s Apocalypse. There is a stern simplicity about the whole description, and just enough pictorial detail is given to make the passage morally suggestive. As gehenna, like paradise (4 Ezra 3:4), was created before the world, according to rabbinic belief (Gfrörer, ii. 42–46), it naturally survived the collapse of the latter (Revelation 20:11). Contrast with this passage the relentless spirit of 4. Esd. 7:49 f. (“I will not mourn over the multitude of the perishing … they are set on fire and burn hotly and are quenched”). If John betrays no pity for the doomed, he exhibits no callous scorn for their fate. The order of Revelation 20:13-15 and Revelation 21:1 f. is the same as in the haggadic pseudo-Philonic De Biblic. Anti-quitatibus (after 70 A.D.) where the judgment (“reddet infernus debitum suum et perditio restituet paratecen suam, ut reddam unicuique secundum opera sua”) is followed by the renewal of all things (“et exstinguetur mors et infernus claudet os suum … et erit terra alia et caelum aliud habitaculum sempiternum”).

So much for the doomed. The bliss of saints occupies the closing vision (Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5). From the smoke and pain and heat it is a relief to pass into the clear, clean atmosphere of the eternal morning where the breath of heaven is sweet and the vast city of God sparkles like a diamond in the radiance of his presence. The dominant idea of the passage is that surroundings must be in keeping with character and prospects; consequently, as the old universe has been hopelessly sullied by sin, a new order of things must be formed, once the old scene of trial and failure is swept aside. This hope of the post-exilic Judaism (cf. Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22) was originally derived from the Persian religion, in which the renovation of the universe was a cardinal tenet; it is strongly developed in Enoch (xci. 16, civ. 2, new heaven only) and 4 Esd. 4:27 f. (“if the place where the evil is sown pass not away, there cannot come the field where the good is sown”). The expectation (cf on Romans 8:28 f.) that the loss sustained at the fall of Adam would now be made good, is handly the same as this eschatological transformation; the latter prevailed whenever the stern exigencies of the age seemed to demand a clean sweep of the universe, and the apocalyptic attitude towards nature seldom had anything of the tenderness and pathos, e.g., of 4 Esd. 8:42–48 (cf. 7:31). The sequence of Revelation 20:11 f. and Revelation 21:1 f. therefore follows the general eschatological programme, as e.g. in Apoc. Bar. xxi. 23 f., where, after death is ended (very mildly), the new world promised by God appears as the dwelling-place of the saints (cf. also 32:1 f.). The earthly Jerusalem is good enough for the millennium but not for the final bliss; the new order (Revelation 21:5) of latter (cf. above) coincides, as in Oriental religion (Jeremiah , 45 f.), with the new year (i.e., spring) festival of the god’s final victory.—The literary problem is more intricate. With Revelation 21:1-8, which is evidently the prophet’s own composition, the Apocalypse really closes. The rest of the vision, down to Revelation 22:5, is little more than a poetical repetition and elaboration ol Revelation 21:1-8, to which Revelation 22:6 f. forms the appropriate conclusion, just as the doublet Revelation 19:9 b, 10 (in its present position) does to Revelation 19:1-8. When Revelation 19:9 b, 10 is transferred to the end of 17 (see above), the parallelism becomes even closer. Both 17 (the vision of the harlot-Babylon, with her evil influence on the world, and her transient empire) and Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5 (the vision of the Lamb’s pure bride, with her endless empire) are introduced alike (cf. Revelation 17:1, Revelation 21:9) and ended alike, though Revelation 22:6-8 has been slightly expanded in view of its special position as a climax to the entire Apocalypse. As 17. represents John’s revision of an earlier source, this suggests, but does not prove, a similar origin for Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5. He might have sketched the latter as an antithesis to the former; certainly the “editorial” brushwork in Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5 is not nearly so obvious and abrupt as, e.g., in 18. Upon the other hand there are touches and traits which have been held to imply the revision of a source or sources, especially of a. Jewish character (so variously Vischer, Weyland, Ménégoz, Spitta, Sabatier, Briggs, Schmidt, S. Davidson, von Soden, de Faye, Kohler, Baljon, J. Weiss, and Forbes), delineating the new Jerusalem (cf. Revelation 21:1-2). In this event the Christian editor’s hand would be visible, not necessarily in Revelation 21:22 (see note), but in the ἀρνίον-allusions, in Revelation 21:14 b, 23 (cf. Revelation 22:5), 25 b (= Revelation 22:5 a), and 27 (= Revelation 20:15, Revelation 21:8, Revelation 22:3 a). Another set of features (Revelation 21:12; Revelation 21:16; Revelation 21:24-27 a, Revelation 22:2 c, 3 a, 5) is explicable apart from the hypothesis of a Jewish source, or indeed of any source at all. Literally taken, they are incongruous. But since Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5 may be equivalent not so much to a Jewish ideal conceived sub specie Christiana as to a Christian ideal expressed in the imaginative terms of a Jewish tradition which originally depicted an earthly Jerusalem surrounded by the respectful nations of the world, a number of traits in the latter sketch would obviously be inapplicable in the new setting to which they were transferred. These are retained, however, not only for the sake of their archaic associations but in order to lend pictorial completeness to the description of the eternal city. The author, in short, is a religious poet, not a theologian or a historian. But while these archaic details need not involve the use of a Jewish source (so rightly Schön and Wellhausen), much less a reference of the whole vision to the millennial Jerusalem (Zahn), or the ascription of it to Cerinthus (Völter) or a chiliastic Jewish Christian editor (Bruston), may not the repetitions and parallelisms, especially in view of Revelation 22:6 f., indicate a composite Christian origin, as is suggested, e.g., by Erbes (A = Revelation 21:1-4, Revelation 22:3-17; Revelation 22:20-21, [920] = Revelation 21:5-27, Revelation 22:1-2; Revelation 22:18-19) and Selwyn (Revelation 22:16-21, the conclusion of [921] = Revelation 21:2, Revelation 22:3-5, Revelation 21:3-6 a, Revelation 22:7, Revelation 21:6 b–8, or of [922] = Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:2, Revelation 22:6; Revelation 22:8-15)? Some dislocation of the original autograph or scribal additions may be conjectured with reason in Revelation 22:6-21 (see below), at least. But the reiterations are intelligible enough as the work of a single writer, whose aim is to impress an audience rather than to produce a piece of literature. The likelihood is that John composed Revelation 21:9 f. as an antithesis to the description of the evil city which he had reproduced from a source in 17, and that he repeated the incident of Revelation 22:8-9 (as Revelation 19:9-10 at the end of 17), adapting it to its position at the close of the whole book as well as of the immediately preceding oracle.

[920] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[921] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[922] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.15. And whosoever &c.] “By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.” Any who are not in the number of those saved by God’s free grace, are sure to have sins recorded against them, sufficient for a judgement “out of those things which were written in the books” to end in this terrible sentence. Cf. St Matthew 25:41.Verse 15. - And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was east into the lake of fire; and if any was not, etc. This is practically a reiteration of what has been twice before solemnly asserted (see vers. 12, 13).



And whosoever (εἴ τις)

Lit., if any. So Rev.

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