Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
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(8) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable . . .—Better, But for the cowardly and unfaithful (or, unbelieving) and defiled with abominations, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and for all the false, their part (is) in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which thing is the second death. The list here given points to those classes of character which cannot find a place in the Holy City. Nothing that defileth shall enter in. The less glaring faults stand first, the cowardly and unbelieving. There is a high and holy fear in which the Christian passes the time of his sojourn here (1Peter 1:17); but there is a base and selfish fear, a fear of man, which brings a snare; those who have faith enter boldly the strife, following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, and conquering by faith. The cowardly sink into companionship with the faithless and unbelieving, with the workers of iniquity. The abominations spoken of here have reference to those mentioned in Revelation 17:4. The characters, it has been thought, form four pairs. Fear and unbelief go hand in hand (Deuteronomy 20:1-8; Matthew 8:26); the workers of abomination and the murderers, the fornicators and the sorcerers are united as those who sin in secret; the idolaters and the false, as those who change God’s truth into a lie. (Comp. Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5; Philippians 3:19.) These who are thus shut out from the heavenly city stand in contrast to those who are admitted; yet among those admitted arc such who have sinned through fear, faithlessness, and fleshliness. Sin indeed excludes from the city, but it is sin loved sin unrepented of, which alone can close the gate of the city whose gates lie open day and night.

21:1-8 The new heaven and the new earth will not be separate from each other; the earth of the saints, their glorified, bodies, will be heavenly. The old world, with all its troubles and tumults, will have passed away. There will be no sea; this aptly represents freedom from conflicting passions, temptations, troubles, changes, and alarms; from whatever can divide or interrupt the communion of saints. This new Jerusalem is the church of God in its new and perfect state, the church triumphant. Its blessedness came wholly from God, and depends on him. The presence of God with his people in heaven, will not be interrupt as it is on earth, he will dwell with them continually. All effects of former trouble shall be done away. They have often been in tears, by reason of sin, of affliction, of the calamities of the church; but no signs, no remembrance of former sorrows shall remain. Christ makes all things new. If we are willing and desirous that the gracious Redeemer should make all things new in order hearts and nature, he will make all things new in respect of our situation, till he has brought us to enjoy complete happiness. See the certainty of the promise. God gives his titles, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, as a pledge for the full performance. Sensual and sinful pleasures are muddy and poisoned waters; and the best earthly comforts are like the scanty supplies of a cistern; when idolized, they become broken cisterns, and yield only vexation. But the joys which Christ imparts are like waters springing from a fountain, pure, refreshing, abundant, and eternal. The sanctifying consolations of the Holy Spirit prepare for heavenly happiness; they are streams which flow for us in the wilderness. The fearful durst not meet the difficulties of religion, their slavish fear came from their unbelief; but those who were so dastardly as not to dare to take up the cross of Christ, were yet so desperate as to run into abominable wickedness. The agonies and terrors of the first death will lead to the far greater terrors and agonies of eternal death.But the fearful - Having stated, in general terms, who they were who would be admitted into that blessed world, he now states explicitly who would not. The "fearful" denote those who had not firmness boldly to maintain their professed principles, or who were afraid to avow themselves as the friends of God in a wicked world. They stand in contrast with those who "overcome," Revelation 21:7.

And unbelieving - Those who have not true faith; avowed infidels; infidels at heart; and all who have not the sincere faith of the gospel. See the notes on Mark 16:16.

And the abominable - The verb from which this word is derived means to excite disgust; to feel disgust at; to abominate or abhor; and hence the participle - "the abominable" - refers to all who are detestable, to wit, on account of their sins; all whose conduct is offensive to God. Thus it would include those who live in open sin; who practice detestable vices; whose conduct is suited to excite disgust and abhorrence. These must all, of course, be excluded from a pure and holy world; and this description, alas! would embrace a lamentably large portion of the world as it has hitherto been. See the notes on Romans 1:26 ff.

And murderers - See the Romans 1:29 note; Galatians 5:21 note.

And whoremongers - See the notes on Galatians 5:19.

And sorcerers - See the word used here - φαρμακεῦσι pharmakeusi - explained in the notes on Galatians 5:19, under the word "witchcraft."

And idolaters - 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19.

And all liars - All who are false in their statements, their promises, their contracts. The word would embrace all who are false toward God Acts 5:1-3, and false toward human beings. See Romans 1:31.

Shall have their part in the lake which burneth, ... - notes on Revelation 20:14. That is, they will be excluded from heaven, and punished for ever. See the 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 notes; Galatians 5:19-21 notes.

8. the fearful—Greek, "the cowardly," who do not quit themselves like men so as to "overcome" in the good fight; who have the spirit of slavish "fear," not love, towards God; and who through fear of man are not bold for God, or "draw back." Compare Re 21:27; 22:15.

unbelieving—Greek, "faithless."

abominable—who have drank of the harlot's "cup of abominations."

sorcerers—one of the characteristics of Antichrist's time.

all liars—Greek, "all the liars": or else "all who are liars"; compare 1Ti 4:1, 2, where similarly lying and dealings with spirits and demons, are joined together as features of "the latter times."

second death—Re 20:14: "everlasting destruction," 2Th 1:9; Mr 9:44, 46, 48, "Where THEIR worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."

All those who are without the church invisible, whether protime persons, (such are murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, liars), or idolaters, or unbelievers and hypocrites, shall all be cast to hell.

The fearful, who, through fear of losing their reputation, estates, honours, or lives, deny me, or shall not dare to own me.

And unbelieving; such as will not agree to the proposition of my gospel; or will not come to me that they might have life.

The abominable; sodomites, and such as live in beastly lusts.

Murderers; such as, without any warrant from God, take away men’s lives wilfully,

Whoremongers; such as defile their neighbours’ wives.

Sorcerers; such as exercise witchcraft, consult the devil, and trade with familiar spirits.

Idolaters; whether they commit the idolatry of Ahab, giving Divine adoration to the creatures, as the term of their worship; or the idolatry of Jeroboam, worshipping the true God by images.

And all liars; and all such as are liars with their tongues, speaking what they know to be false; or liars in practice, that is, hypocrites, seeming to be what they are not.

Shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death: all these, and all such like, shall be eternally damned.

But the fearful,.... Not the timorous sheep and lambs of Christ, the dear children of God, who are sometimes of a fearful heart, on account of sin, temptation, and unbelief; but such who are of cowardly spirits, and are not valiant for the truth, but who, through fear of men, either make no profession of Christ and his Gospel, or having made it, drop it, lest they should be exposed to tribulation and persecution; these are they that are afraid of the beast, and live in servile bondage to him.

And unbelieving; meaning not merely atheists, who do not believe there is a God, or deists only, that do not believe in Christ; but such who profess his name, and are called by it, and yet do not truly believe in him, nor embrace his Gospel and the truths of it, but believe a lie; these are condemned already, and on them the wrath of God abides, and they will be damned at last; though it may have a regard to such also who are infidels as to the second coming of Christ to judgment, and who are scoffers and mockers at it:

and the abominable: every sinful man is so in the sight of God; but here it denotes such who are the worst of sinners, given up to sinning; who are abominable, and to every good work reprobate; who are addicted to the worst of crimes, as were the Sodomites and others; the Ethiopic version renders it, "who pollute themselves" with unnatural lusts. The Syriac and Arabic versions express it by two words, "sinners and polluted", filthy sinners; the character well agrees with Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, and to all that adhere to her, and join with her in her abominable idolatries.

And murderers; of the saints, and prophets, and martyrs of Jesus, with whose blood Babylon, or the whore of Rome, has made herself drunk, and in whom it will be found.

And whoremongers; all unclean persons, that indulge themselves in impure lusts, in fornication, adultery, and all lewdness; as the clergy of the church of Rome, who being forbidden to marry, and being under a vow of celibacy, and making great pretensions to chastity and singular holiness, give up themselves to all lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

And sorcerers; conjurers, dealers with familiar spirits, necromancers, and such as use the magic art, as many of the popes did to get into the chair, and poisoners of kings and princes; whoredoms and witchcrafts go together sometimes, as they did in Jezebel, an emblem of the Romish antichrist.

And idolaters; that worship devils, idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, representing God, and Christ, and the virgin Mary, and saints departed, Revelation 9:20.

And all liars; in common, and particularly such who speak lies in hypocrisy, as the followers of the man of sin, and who are given up to believe a lie, that they might be damned; all lies being of the devil, and abominable to God. All and each of these

shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. The Jews (a) speak of several distinct places in hell, for several sorts of sinners, as particularly for sabbath breakers, adulterers, and liars; and say of the wicked, that when he is condemned he shall take "his part" in hell (b); See Gill on Revelation 19:20.

which is the second death; See Gill on Revelation 2:11.

(a) Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 7. 2.((b) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 15. 1.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their {a} part in the lake which burneth with fire and

(a) Their lot, and inheritance as it were.

The reverse side of the picture (cf. Revelation 20:12-15 and below on Revelation 21:27): a black list of those who have not conquered. δειλοῖς = “cowards” or apostates, who deny Christ in the persecution and worship Caesar (Introd. § 6) through fear of suffering; “δειλία does not of course itself allow that it is timorous, but would shelter its timidity under the more honourable title of εὐλάβεια” (Trench, Synonyms, § x.). It embraces further all those who draw back under the general strain of ridicule and social pressure (Hebrews 6:4-8; 2 Timothy 4:16, etc.), like Bunyan’s Pliable, but unlike his Mr. Fearing (cf. 1Ma 3:16).—ἀπίστοις not = incredulous (so e.g., Dittenberger’s Sylloge, 80232, 3 cent. B.C.) but, as in Luke 12:46 (cf. Sir. ii. 12 f.), = “faithless,” untrustworthy, those who are not πιστός (Revelation 1:5, Revelation 2:10; Revelation 2:13, 2 Timothy 2:13). All δειλοί are ἄπιστοι (cf. Introd. § 6), but not all ἄπιστοι are δειλοί. There are more reasons for disloyalty to Christ than cowardice, and some of these are hinted at in the following words, which suggest that ἄπιστοι includes the further idea of immorality (as in Titus 1:15-16, where it is grouped with βδελυκτοί). Lack of faith is denounced also in Apoc. Bar. liv. 21, 4 Ezra 9:7, etc. ἐβδελυγμένοις for βδελυκτοῖς (as εὐλογημένος for εὐλογητός, etc., cf. Field on Galatians 2:11; Simcox, Lang. N.T. 128, 129), “detestable” because “defiled and fouled” by the impurities of the pagan cults (Revelation 17:4, Revelation 18:3, etc.; cf. Hosea 9:10; Slav. En. x. 4) including unnatural vice. Murder (and fornication, Jam 2:11) in the popular religions of the ancient world caused ritual impurity and disqualified for access to God, unless atoned for.—φαρμακοῖς = “poisoners” or “sorcerers” (Revelation 22:15), cf. Daniel 2:27 LXX, and above on Revelation 9:21, where (as here and in Galatians 5:21) witchcraft or magic is bracketed with idolatry. Idolaters, in Apoc. Pet. 18, have a special place πλείστου πυρὸς γέμων. ψευδέσιν = “liars,” primarily recreant Christians who deny their faith and Lord, or worship false gods (Romans 1:25); but also untruthful Christians who cheat (Acts 5:3) and lie to one another (Colossians 3:9, cf. Revelation 14:5); further perhaps to be taken in its general ethical sense (Slav. En. xlii. 13; cf. Did. Revelation 5:2) = Oriental duplicity.—τοῖς δὲ: as in LXX, the subject of the principal clause is thrown forward into the dative (Viteau, ii. 41, 42). The special standpoint of the Apoc. renders the terms of exclusion rather narrower than elsewhere (cf. Volz, 313). Thus there is no allusion to sins of omission, especially as regards justice and kindness between man and man (as Slav. En. x., xlii. 8–9, Matthew 25:41 f.—the former apocalypse finely excluding from heaven all guilty of “evil thoughts” and magic, all harsh or callous men, and finally all idolaters). The parallels with the rest of the Apocalypse, as well as the general style, indicate that Revelation 21:1-8 comes from the pen of the prophet himself; there is no evidence sufficient to support the conjecture that Revelation 21:5-8 is a Christian editor’s gloss in a Jewish original (Vischer, von Soden, S. Davidson, Rauch = Revelation 21:6-8, Spitta). The catalogue of vices, not unparalleled in ethnic literature (cf. Dieterich, pp. 163 f., 174 f., Heinrici on 2 Corinthians 6:4 f.), diverges from those of Revelation 9:20-21 and Revelation 22:15. The second agrees with Sap. 14:22–28 in making idolatry the fontal vice, and with Did. v in putting theft after πορνεία (cf. Hebrews 13:4-5, Ephesians 5:5, etc.). Paul, again, invariably starts with the blighting touch of πορνεία or ἀκαθαρσία (cf. Seeberg’s Catechismus d. Urc. 9–29, and von Dobschütz, pp. 406 f.) as in Revelation 22:15. No special significance attaches to the lists of the Apocalypse beyond the obviously appropriate selection of idolatry (Revelation 9:20) as the outstanding vice of paganism, with cowardice (Revelation 21:8) as the foil to victorious confession (Revelation 21:7, Revelation 2:13; Revelation 2:17, Revelation 15:2); note the division of Revelation 22:15 into the repulsive or filthy (first three) and the wicked (second three), corresponding to Revelation 22:11. The κύνες of Revelation 22:15 roughly answer to the “abominable” of Revelation 21:8. Revelation 21:1-8 are a summary of what follows: Revelation 21:1-2 = Revelation 21:9-21, Revelation 21:3-4 = Revelation 21:22 to Revelation 22:5, Revelation 21:5-8 = Revelation 22:16-21.

Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5 : the new Jerusalem (resuming the thought of Revelation 21:2, cf. Revelation 19:7), corresponding to the new universe (Revelation 21:1). The fall of Jerusalem accentuated the tendency to rise from the expectation of a new or renovated city on earth to the hope of a heavenly, transcendent city (cf. Apoc. Bar. iv. 2–6, etc.), though the passionate desire for a restoration of city and temple in the messianic age was still strong (cf. R. J. 226 f., Volz, 334 f.). John introduces the definitely Christian identification of the heavenly Jerusalem with the bride of the messiah, and combines the various features of a renovated, a heavenly, and a pre-existent city—features which occasionally reflect the mythological background of such earlier ideas in Judaism. The whole conception, if not the passage itself, is satirised by Lucian (Vera Hist. ii.) in his account of the golden city with its emerald wall, its river, and the absence of night, to say nothing of vines δωδεκαφόροι καὶ κατὰ μῆνα ἕκαστον καρποφοροῦσιν. Revelation 21:11-21 describe the exterior, Revelation 21:22-27 the interior.

8. But the fearful] The cowards would express the sense more accurately, at least in modern English. Those condemned are those who are afraid to do their duty, not those who do it, though timidly and in spite of the fears of nature: still less those who do it “with fear and trembling” in St Paul’s sense.

unbelieving] It is, as usual, questionable whether this word or “unfaithful” expresses the sense most accurately. He who believes God’s Word is “faithful” to God: the character here condemned is the exact opposite.

abominable] Lit. abominated; probably alluding to crimes yet fouler than those named.

sorcerers] Not the same word as that applied to Simon and Bar-jesus in the Acts, but cognate with that used above, Revelation 9:21, and rendered “witchcrafts” in Galatians 5:20. The natural meaning of the word would rather be “poisoners;” and in fact in St John’s days the two generally went together, and no line could be drawn between them. It is therefore no wonder that both the Apostles speak of it as a real crime connected with murder and other “works of the flesh,” as well as with idolatry. For of course professed sorcery involved devil-worship, the basest idolatry of all, even if the devil had no more direct communication with the sorcerers than he has with all liars and impostors.

liars] The word is a little more general, all the false.

shall have] Lit. But to the fearful, &c. their portion [shall be] in the lake &c.

Revelation 21:8.[227]Τοῖς[228]) The Dative expresses the Hebrew ל: that is, as far as relates to the fearful, etc. So the word αὐτῶν, their, shortly afterwards, coheres with this.—[229] φαρμακοῖς, sorcerers) φάρμακον is a word of middle signification; but it is often used, together with its derivatives, to signify injurious medicine, witchcraft, which often sets itself off as salutary to men and beasts, but it is most pestilential, whether taken by itself, or even when joined with an express compact or secret intercourse with devils. Hence it is joined with idolatry, Galatians 5:20.

[227] 6, 7. διψῶντιὁ νικῶν, that thirstethhe that overcometh) A twofold class of men; a twofold kind of gifts.—V. g.

[228] Supported by AB. But Rec. Text, without authority, omits τοῖς.—E.

[229] δὲ, but) There is the same antithesis, ver. 27, ch. Revelation 22:15.—V. g.

τῆς ζωῆς, of life) No death now remains, ver. 8.—V. g.

Verse 8. - But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death; but for the fearful, etc. The construction is changed in the middle of the verse. The fearful are those who, through cowardice, have not overcome (cf. ver. 7). Abominable; those defiled with abominations (cf. Revelation 17:4). And murderers, and fornicators (cf. Revelation 14:4; Revelation 17:1, 2). And sorcerers (cf. Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23); those who deceived the heathen. And idolaters; the heathen who were deceived by them. All liars; all who are false in any way. Their part is in the lake, etc. (see on Revelation 20:10). These took no part in the first, spiritual, resurrection (Revelation 20:6); they now, therefore, inherit "the second death." Revelation 21:8The fearful (δειλοῖς)

The dative case. Hence, as Rev., for the fearful. Only here, Matthew 8:26, and Mark 4:40.

Abominable (ἐβδελυγμένοις)

See on abomination, Matthew 24:15. Properly, defiled with abominations.

Whoremongers (πόρνοις)

Much better, as Rev., fornicators.


See on sorceries, Revelation 9:21.

Shall have their part (τὸ μέρος αὐτῶν)

Lit., the whole passage reads: to the fearful, etc., their part. Shall be is supplied.

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