Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly
Cowardly is δειλοῖς [deilois] : “timid [ones],”1 “persons showing fear in a shameful way.”2 The word is used to describe lack of faith (Mtt. Mat. 8:26; Mark Mark 4:40). During the Tribulation, the Beast worshipers took his mark, partly out of fear of losing their lives (Rev. Rev. 13:15+). They were among those who, because of fear, saved their lives, but ultimately lost both their soul and body in hell (Mtt. Mat. 10:28). The wicked and lazy servant hid his talent in the ground out of fear rather than investing it for the Lord’s benefit. He was cast into outer darkness (Mtt. Mat. 25:25; Luke Luke 19:21). Those who deny Jesus before men, possibly out of fear, will not be confessed by the Son of Man before God and His angels (Luke Luke 12:8-9). Many of the religious rulers believed in Jesus, but for fear of being put out of the synagogue by the Pharisees, would not confess Him. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John John 12:43). This passage concerns those who are among the unredeemed, it is not a threat that believers who struggle with fear at times are in danger of the Lake of Fire. Those who are born-again have not been given a spirit of fear, “but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2Ti. 2Ti. 1:7).

Unbelieving is ἀπίστοις [apistois] : ones without faith. Those who did not believe the truth are condemned (2Th. 2Th. 2:12). Those who are unbelieving have a defiled mind and conscience. They often profess to know God, but by their works they deny Him (Tit. Tit. 1:15-16). Lack of faith in the Son results in eternal condemnation:

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John John 3:36)

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. (1Jn. 1Jn. 5:10)

There are no unbelieving among the overcomers: “And this is the victory which has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1Jn. 1Jn. 5:4-5).

Abominable is ἐβδελυγμένοις [ebdelygmenois] : “abhorrent, detestable [ones],”3 “loathsome [ones].”4 The passive participle indicates they have become abominable because they participated in activities which are considered abominable to God. They are considered unclean and, therefore, will never enter the holy city (Rev. Rev. 21:27+). The cup which the Harlot held was full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication (πορνείας [porneias] , see below) (Rev. Rev. 17:4+). Abominable activities under the Law of Moses include: partaking of unclean animals (Lev. Lev. 11:10-42); homosexual behavior (Lev. Lev. 18:22; Lev. 20:13); bestiality (Lev. Lev. 18:23-26); improper consumption of an offering (Lev. Lev. 19:7); idol worship (Deu. Deu. 7:25-26); child sacrifice (Deu. Deu. 12:31; Deu. Deu. 18:10); offering an imperfect sacrifice (Deu. Deu. 17:1); worshiping other gods, including astral bodies (Deu. Deu. 13:13-14; Deu. Deu. 17:3-4); sorcery, witchcraft, soothsaying, interpreting omens (Deu. Deu. 18:12); cross-dressing (Deu. Deu. 22:5); offering money gained through sinful practices in the house of the Lord (Deu. Deu. 23:18); taking a woman back after having divorced (Deu. Deu. 24:4); and many more. All of these activities have a common attribute: they are behaviors which arouses God’s anger because they contravene His law. In this sense, abomination and rebellion are related. See commentary on Revelation 17:4.

sexually immoral
Sexually immoral is πόρνοις [pornois] : fornicating ones5 , used of a man who has sexual intercourse with a prostitute (1Cor. 1Cor. 5:9). The same root word describes the Harlot: πόρνης [pornēs] . During the Tribulation, the earth dwellers refused to repent of their sexual immorality (Rev. Rev. 9:21+).

Sorcerers is φαρμάκοις [pharmakois] : “one who prepares and uses drugs for magical purposes or ritual witchcraft sorcerer, poisoner, magician.”6 During the Tribulation, the earth dwellers refused to repent of their sorceries (Rev. Rev. 9:21+). See commentary on Revelation 9:21.

Idolaters is εἰδωλολάτραις [eidōlolatrais] : those who take part in idol-worship or consult false prophets.7 Jezebel seduced God’s servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols (Rev. Rev. 2:20+ cf. 1Cor. 1Cor. 10:19-20). See commentary on Revelation 2:20.

Jesus told the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. . . . there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John John 8:44). The coming of the lawless one, the Antichrist, was with all power, signs and lying wonders (2Th. 2Th. 2:9). Those who continue to lie will ultimately fall prey themselves to lies: they will not come to the truth (2Th. 2Th. 2:11-12). Eventually, their own conscience becomes seared (1Ti. 1Ti. 4:2). All who reject salvation are ultimately liars: “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” (1Jn. 1Jn. 2:22). The truth of God has been made known to men through general revelation, but men actively suppress the truth (lie) in unrighteousness. Knowing the truth, they promote false ideas such as God doesn’t exist or that His existence cannot be known (Rom. Rom. 1:18). See commentary on Revelation 20:12.

shall have their part
Not having the Holy Spirit, these do not inherit the kingdom of God and, by nature, practice the works of the flesh (Rom. Rom. 8:1-5; Gal. Gal. 5:16):

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. Gal. 5:19-21)

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. (Eph. Eph. 5:5-7)

But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (1Ti. 1Ti. 1:8-10)

Those described by this list are ones who continued in these activities without repentance. In writing to the church at Corinth, Paul emphasizes the forgiveness which remains available for the godless in this age of grace, if they would but turn to God in faith and be cleansed of their sin:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1Cor. 1Cor. 6:9-11) [emphasis added]

the lake which burns with fire
Which burns is καιομένῃ [kaiomenē] , passive participle: the lake being presently burnt with fire. Emphasis is placed upon the ongoing reality of the fire. All the unsaved dead, who were not found written in the Book of Life , were cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. Rev. 20:15+). See commentary on Revelation 20:15.


1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 173.

2 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 105.

3 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 138.

4 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 89.

5 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 693.

6 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 397.

7 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 221.