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“What is the ‘Book of Life’ in Revelation?”
The meaning is not clearly spelled out in the Scripture. By definition, apocalyptic (“hidden”) language is not specific. This “secret code” made sense to its original readers but remains somewhat veiled to us. We are left to draw out its implications from a variety of references.
The Book of Life at the very least represents the list of those who have put their faith in God (Is. 4:3; Dan. 12:1; Lk. 10:20; Rev. 20:11-15.) For the biblical writer, this is a most serious matter: if your name is not in the Book, you face a dreadful destiny. If it is, you will enter into life (Rev. 21:27).
Some texts indicate that those in the Book have been there since before time (Ex. 32:32; Ps. 69:28; Rev. 13:8; 17:8). Other texts indicate that one’s name appears there based on deeds done in this life (Rev. 20:13; cf. Ezek. 13:9). A few of these texts imply that one’s name may be erased, due primarily to unfaithfulness (cf. Rev. 3:5).
The Book represents “final judgment” at the throne of God (Dan. 7:9-10; Jn. 5:25-29; Rom. 2:5-10; II Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11ff). Other texts, though not connected directly to the “Book of Life,” indicate every person will in some way be held accountable at the judgment for deeds done in this life (Rev. 20:12-13; see also Pr. 24:12; Mt. 12:36; 16:27; Rom. 14:12; I Cor. 3:11-15; Col. 3:25; Rev. 2:23; 22:12).
What do we do with this complex set of teachings? Take seriously the call to faith in God. Make your first “deeds” be those of belief and full commitment to Him. Live in such a way that your life reflects your allegiance to God. Do not walk in fear of “being erased.” Rather, hear carefully and humbly the warnings found in these Scriptures and remain faithful to the end.