Revelation 13:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Rev 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:8 is used to prooftext some sort of eternal sacrifice of Jesus. The prepositional phrase is used to modify “slain”:

The Divine decree is formed in eternity, but executed in time. There are sequences in the execution, but not in the formation of God’s eternal purpose. In his own mind and consciousness, God simultaneously because eternally decrees all that occurs in space and time; but the effects and results corresponding to the decree occur successively, not simultaneously. There were thirty-three years between the actual incarnation and the actual crucifixion, but not between the decree that the Logos should be incarnate and the decree that he should be crucified. In the Divine decree, Christ was simultaneously because eternally incarnate and crucified. “The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world,”

William G. T. Shedd. Dogmatic Theology (Kindle Locations 5417-5422). Monergism Books. Kindle Edition.

While it is hard to declare definitively which would any prepositional phrase modifies, there is good reason to believe that the phrase modifies “written” rather than “slain”.

There is a parallel verse:

Rev 17:8  The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 

In both verses there are names, which are not written, in some sort of “book of life”. The phrases are nearly identical except that 13:8 adds the prepositional phrase “of the Lamb slain” or “of the slain Lamb”. This prepositional phrase modifies the book. The books full title or the books full purpose has to do with Jesus’ death, which makes sense in context. The book is a list of all those who follow Jesus (the slain lamb).

It makes no sense then to take “from the foundation of the world” and apply it to “slain” rather than staying consistent and having it modify “written” in both verses. With this better reading the verse would mean: All who live on Earth, whose names have never been written in the book of life (the unbelievers) will worship the beast. Which book? The Book of Life of the Slain Lamb (Jesus’ book).

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