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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 20 - Verse 15

Verse 15 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 that which 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 gay, 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 Barnes on "Re 3:5".

 

Was cast into the lake of fire. See Barnes on "Mt 25:41".

That is, they will be doomed to a punishment which will be well represented by their lingering in a sea of fire for ever. 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.

(d.)—Condition of things referred to in Re 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 all be 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 Mt 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 intimation 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 intimation 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 for ever. See Barnes on "Re 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 Barnes on "Mt 25:46"; See Barnes "2 Th 1:9".

 

(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.

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