If We Are Covered in the Blood of Jesus, Cleansed from Unrighteousness by Faith, How Does Revelation 21:8 Fit with the Overall Gospel?

If we are covered in the blood of Jesus, cleansed from unrighteousness by faith, how does Revelation 21:8 fit with the overall gospel?

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

This verse must be understood by taking into account the verses around it, and the book as a whole. Read the end of Revelation 19 to 21:8. Whole armies are killed and the beast and false prophet come to their doom.

Then comes the 1000 year reign of Christ with his faithful (chapter 20) to the resurrection of the living and the dead (20:5). Then there is the final defeat of Satan (20:10) and the great all encompassing judgment (20:11-15). A newly reconstructed universe takes place where Heaven and earth are now the same dwelling place for God and humans and there is the wiping away of all tears.

And finally the invitation Jesus thankfully gives in verse 21:6 (NLT) “To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.” This is the same invitation Jesus gave in the Gospel of John, chapter 4, to the woman at the well. He promises a familial relation with God as his children.

Then comes the contrast:

BUT the cowardly, the unbelieving, the murderers, etc. will go to hell. This intense statement is now directed to all who IN CONTRAST did not drink of the living water of Jesus and his salvation message. In other words, as hard as it is to understand, there will be those who see God directly work, who will get a taste of his kindness, and still reject the gracious salvation message.

All have lied, committed some level of immorality, etc. But if those who have done this (and their life is characterized by such constant on-going deeds, thoughts, and words) refuse to “take of the water of life,” then to these immoral people God will have to say “thy will be done.” And he will send them to the bottom of the bottomless pit.

Aside from just this verse, it is always a healthy spiritual exercise for a person to take inventory of what kind of life they do live, and what sort of relationship they have with Jesus; and most importantly, realign and readjust the incongruities between the claim of belief—and the actual thoughts, words, deeds, and life-style one knows oneself to be in. If they don’t line up, then go back to the invitation Jesus gives in the prior verse and “drink deeply from the water offered.”

James A. Swanson (ThB, MSM, MTh) is a biblical studies scholar with original language expertise. His works include A Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (OT)A Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (NT), and A Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Aramaic (OT).