Previously: Making everything new – Revelation 21:5-6
Rev. 21:7 – The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. 8 But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars – their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (HCSB)
The victor will inherit these things
The words of God complete this section as He speaks in verses 7-8: “The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars – their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
This expresses the intimate relationship that exists between the saints and God in the eternal state. We are joint-heirs with Jesus. We are God’s adopted sons and daughters. And the full expression of God’s work for us and in us will be realized when we are resurrected and glorified, and when we enjoy everlasting face-to-face intimacy with Him in the new heavens and earth.
The words “the victor” are translated “he who overcomes” or “the one who conquers” in other versions. This refers to the perseverance of the saints during a time of terrible persecution, and it links the promises of Jesus in the opening chapters of Revelation to their fulfillment in the return of the King.
Remember that in each of the seven letters to the churches of Asia Minor Jesus offers a word of encouragement to the overcomer:
To Ephesus: “I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise” (Rev. 2:7).
To Smyrna: “The victor will never be harmed by the second death” (Rev. 2:11)
To Pergamum: “I will give the victor some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).
To Thyatira: “The one who is victorious and keeps My words to the end: I will give him authority over the nations – and he will shepherd them with an iron scepter; he will shatter them like pottery – just as I have received this from My Father. I will also give him the morning star” (Rev. 2:24-26).
To Sardis: “In the same way, the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev. 3:5).
To Philadelphia: “The victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God – the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God – and My new name” (Rev. 3:12).
And to Laodicea: “The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21).
This is the first in a two-part series on the whereabouts of Jesus between His death and resurrection.
One of the more puzzling questions about the redemptive work of Christ is where His soul went between death and resurrection.
The Gospel writers confirm that Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb after His death, and remained there until His resurrection.
But what about the immaterial part of Jesus – namely His soul and / or spirit?
One view is stated in the Apostles’ Creed: “He [Jesus] descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead.”
The meaning of this phrase is much debated. The traditional interpretation is that Christ went to the abode of the dead to preach the gospel to Old Testament saints in order to set them free for the full experience of heaven.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church embraces this view, as do many Protestants.
However, theologian Wayne Grudem points out that the troublesome phrase, “He descended into Hell,” is a “late intruder into the Apostles’ Creed that never belonged there in the first place and that, on historical and Scriptural grounds, deserves to be removed.”
Rev. 20:14 – Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (HCSB)
The second death
Revelation uses the term “lake of fire” or “lake of burning sulfur” to describe the destiny of God’s enemies, who are:
- The beast and the false prophet (Rev. 19:20)
- The Devil (Rev. 20:10)
- Death and Hades (Rev. 20:14)
- Anyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:15)
- Cowards, unbelievers, the vile, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars (Rev. 21:8)
Jesus refers to this place as gehenna – a term derived from the Valley of Hinnom, traditionally considered by the Jews the place of the final punishment of the ungodly. Located just south of Jerusalem, this valley is the scene of human sacrifices to the god Molech and is declared “the valley of slaughter” by Jeremiah.“ Whatever its historical and geographic meaning, its usage in the New Testament is clearly a reference to the everlasting state of the wicked, and this seems to be the thought in every instance,” writes John Walvoord in Four Views on Hell (p. 20).
Previously: Fire came down from heaven – Revelation 20:9
Rev. 20:10 – The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (HCSB)
The lake of fire
At last we come to the end of the father of lies. John records, “The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (v. 10). The lake of fire and sulfur is, of course, hell, or gehenna in the Greek. The name is drawn from the Valley of the Son of Hinnom just outside Jerusalem, a place where apostate Israelites in Old Testament times sacrifice their children to the pagan god Moloch. Hell is a place of conscious existence where Satan, demons and the wicked spend eternity apart from Christ.
This passage should be seen in light of Rev. 14:9-11, which describes the destiny of the one who worships the beast: “he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name.”
Jesus calls hell “the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). People who reject God’s gracious offer of eternal life join Satan and his demons in the lake of fire. Jesus also calls hell “outer darkness” where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is place where the worm does not die and the fire is never quenched, meaning that the resurrected bodies of unbelievers do not die and are not annihilated.
Hell is a place to be avoided at all costs, yet a place where no person or demon goes beyond his or her will. As C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’”
Previously: The first resurrection – Revelation 20:4b-5
Rev. 20:5 – The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.
The rest of the dead
John writes, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed” (v.5). He then mentions that their fate is the “second death” (v.6). John tells us in verse 15 that the second death is “the lake of fire” into which death and hades are cast.
More will be said about this subject in our discussion of the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15), but it’s important to note that John sees a clear separation between the first and second resurrections and, as we’ll see shortly, different destinations for those who take part in the first and second resurrections.
It’s important to note that the second death has no power over the redeemed (v. 6). The finished work of Christ assures that all who come to Him by faith are released from the penalty of sin. Once they were dead spiritually but now they have everlasting life. They will die physically one day but will be raised and given glorified bodies similar to the resurrected body of Jesus. The lake of fire is not created for them, nor will they experience it.
In contrast, the lake of fire is created for Satan and his demons, and these evil creatures most assuredly spend eternity there. Joining them are those who reject Christ. They have chosen to spend eternity in a place not made for them.