Questions: Revelation

In exploring incarnational, Trinitarian theology, questions arise about specific passages of Scripture. This page addresses questions related to passages in the book of Revelation. For articles from GCI about the book of Revelation, click here. For a summary of Thomas F. Torrance's excellent commentary on the book of Revelation (in a series of sermons), click here.

Revelation 13:8; 17:8
13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-- all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
17:8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.

How is it that some names are missing from the "book of life" if all humanity is included in God’s reconciling love through Jesus?

We need to consider the literary context of these two statements in Revelation. John writes using a literary genre (style) known as apocalyptic. This genre, which was commonly used by Jewish writers in John’s day, is highly symbolic. There is not a literal “book of life.” The “book of life” is a figure of speech, a symbolic way of referring to those who are in allegiance with the Lamb. These verses in Revelation refer to people who reject the new life that Christ has already secured for them.