Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living. Though in their conceit they wrote themselves among the people of God, and induced others to regard them under that character, they shall be unmasked and their names removed from the register. Enrolled with honour, they shall be erased with shame. Death shall obliterate all recollection of them; they shall be held no longer in esteem, even by those who paid them homage. Judas first, and Pilate, and Herod, and Caiaphas, all in due time, were speedily wiped out of existence; their names only remain as bywords, but among the honoured men who live after their departure they are not recorded.
And not be written with the righteous. This clause is parallel with the former, and shows that the inner meaning of being blotted out from the book of life is to have it made evident that the name was never written there at all. Man in his imperfect copy of God's book of life will have to make many emendations, both of insertion and erasure; but, as before the Lord, the record is for ever fixed and unalterable. Beware, O man, of despising Christ and his people, lest thy soul should never partake in the righteousness of God, without which men are condemned already.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 23-28. He denounces ten plagues, or effects of God's wrath, to come upon them for their wickedness. David Dickson.
Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living. All the Israelites who came up out of Egypt were put down in a muster roll of the living, called "the writing of the house of Israel" ( Ezekiel 13:9 ), and "the book of life." Those who had died were excluded when the names were written out afresh each year. They were, thereby, consigned to oblivion ( Proverbs 10:7 ). Hence, the book of life was used as an image for God's book of predestination to eternal life ( Psalms 139:16 Exodus 32:32 Psalms 87:6 Daniel 12:1 Philippians 4:3 Revelation 17:8 13:8 Revelation 21:27 ; Luke 10:20 ). The book of life, in the human point of view, has names written in it who have a name to live, but are dead, being in it only by external call, or in their own estimation, and in that of others. But, in the divine point of view, it contains only those who are elected finally to life. The former may be blotted out, as was Judas ( Revelation 3:5 Matthew 13:12 25:29 7:23 Exodus 32:33 ); but the latter never ( Revelation 20:12 Revelation 20:15 John 10:28-29 Acts 13:48 ). A. R. Fausset.
Verse 28. Let them be wiped out, etc. This verse alludes to the ancient Jewish practice of recording the names of the inhabitants of every division, or tribe, of the people, in a volume somewhat similar to the Dom-boc of the Saxons. See Luke 2:1 . The names of those who died were blotted out or wiped out, and appeared no longer on the list of the living. Such a book is attributed to God in Psalms 139:16 : and the blotting out of Moses from God's book, in Exodus 32:32 , is a figurative expression, for depriving him of life. Richard Warner.
Verse 28. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, etc. We come to the question, Whether to be written in heaven be an infallible assurance of salvation; or, whether any there registered may come to be blotted out? The truth is, that none written in heaven can ever be lost; yet they object against it this verse. Hence, they infer, that some names once there recorded are afterwards put out; but this opinion casteth a double aspersion on God himself. Either it makes him ignorant of future things, as if he foresaw not the end of elect and reprobate, and so were deceived in decreeing some to be saved that shall not be saved; or, that his decree is mutable, in excluding those upon their sins whom he hath formerly chosen. From both these weaknesses St. Paul vindicates him ( 2 Timothy 2:19 ): "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his." First, "The Lord knows them that are his;" this were not true if God's prescience could be deluded. Then, his "foundation stands sure;" but that were no sure foundation, if those he hath decreed to be his should afterwards fall out not to be his. The very conclusion of truth is this impossibilis est deletio; they which are "written in heaven" can never come into hell. To clear this from the opposed doubt, among many, I will cull out three proper distinctions: --
- One may be said to be written in heaven simpliciter, and secundum quid. He that is simply written there, in quantum praedestinatus ad vitam, because elected to life, can never be blotted out. He that is written after a sort may, for he is written non secundum Dei praescientiam, sed secundum praesentem justitiam -- not according to God's former decree, but according to his present righteousness. So they are said to be blotted out, not in respect of God's knowledge, for he knows they never were written there; but according to their present condition, apostatising from grace to sin. (Lyra.)
- Some are blotted out non secundum rei veritatem, sed hominum opinionem -- not according to the truth of the thing but according to men's opinion. It is usual in the Scriptures to say a thing is done quando innotescat fieri, when it is declared to be done. Hypocrites have a simulation of outward sanctity, so that men in charity judge them to be written in heaven. But when those glistening stars appear to be only ignes fatui, foolish meteors, and fall from the firmament of the church, then we say they are blotted out. The written ex existentia, by a perfect being, are never lost; but ex apparentia, by a dissembled appearance, may. Some God so writes, in se ut simpliciter habituri vitam -- that they have life simply in themselves, though not of themselves. Others he so writes, ut habeant non in se, sed in sua causa; from which falling they are said to be obliterated. (Aquinas.)
- Augustine says, we must not so take it, that God first writes and then dasheth out. For if a Pilate could say, Quod scripsi, scripsi -- "What I have written, I have written," and it shall stand; shall God say, Quod scripsi expungam -- What I have written, I will wipe out, and it shall not stand? They are written, then, secundum spem ipsorum, qui ibi se scriptos putabant -- according to their own hope that presumed their names there; and are blotted out quando ipsis constet illos non ibi fuisse -- when it is manifest to themselves that their names never had any such honour of inscription. This even that Psalm strengthens whence they fetch their opposition: Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. So that to be blotted out of that book, it is, indeed, never to be written there. To be wiped out in the end, is but a declaration that such were not written in the beginning. Thomas Adams.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS