4.3.3. Beast Worshipers Blotted Out

Another proposed solution is to understand Revelation Rev. 17:8+ as merely indicating that the Book of Life has existed from the foundation of the world and that the names of the beast worshipers “are not written” in the book at the time of their worship of the beast. Their names were previously recorded, but they had already been blotted out. Therefore, the names blotted out are the beast worshipers not the redeemed. This view recognizes the unlimited atonement of Christ (John John 1:29; John 3:16; John 6:51; Rom. Rom. 5:18; 1Ti. 1Ti. 2:6; 1Ti. 4:10; Heb. Heb. 2:9; 1Jn. 1Jn. 2:2) and holds that Christ’s atoning work established the potential that all men might be saved. Thus, the Book of Life initially contained the names of every individual who would ever be born.1

If the book of life contains the names of all those for whom Christ died (Caird), Christ must in some sense have died for all men because at the beginning the names of all men were in the book. In the words of Johannine theology outside the Apocalypse, He died for “the world,” no one excluded (cf. John John 1:29; John 3:16; John 4:42; 1 John 1Jn. 2:2; 1Jn. 4:14). This provision for eternal life for everyone is only potential, however. It becomes actual only when appropriated by each person. If a person experiences physical death, never having trusted Christ for forgiveness, his name is erased from the book of life.2

Those who are the elect, by definition, are never blotted out. Only the non-elect, as in the church at Sardis (Rev. Rev. 3:5+) are blotted out. A difficulty with this view is that the names of the beast worshipers which “are not written” is more accurately translated as names “not having been written” (γέγραπται [gegraptai] , perfect tense) which implies that the names never were written to be subsequently blotted out. Moreover, another passage indicates the names of the beast worshipers were never written:

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. (Rev. Rev. 13:8+)

We are closer to a solution here, but we still haven’t explained how all of mankind could be recorded in the book with the unredeemed being blotted out at their death when two passages (Rev. Rev. 13:8+; Rev. 17:8+) explain that one category of the unredeemed, the beast worshipers, were never written in the book.

Notes

1 “The book of life, as its very name implies, probably contains the names of all those for whom Christ died—in other words, all who have ever been conceived in the womb.”—Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 3:5.

2 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 263.