Gospel Guidebook: Getting and Keeping It Right  




Revelation 3:5 and Eternal Security

Introduction

Perhaps the quickest way to determine what a person believes about salvation is to ask him or her about Revelation 3:5. For people who do not believe in eternal security, Revelation 3:5 is primarily regarded as a veiled threat and a warning about the possibility of losing one’s salvation and ultimately being cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). For people who do believe in eternal security, various explanations have been offered to harmonize this verse with the rest of Scripture. In this article, we will take a look at this verse in context and establish that it does not contradict the eternal security of the believer.

Jesus gave us a very simple promise in John 6:47 when He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” When a person believes in Jesus for everlasting life, he is assured that he “does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24 NASB). This means that it is impossible for a person with everlasting life to be judged and cast into the lake of fire (i.e., the second death), since he has already passed out of death and is not subject to judgment.

One simple rule of Bible study is that difficult passages should be interpreted by easy ones. The Gospel of John was written in straight-forward language for the purpose of evangelism (John 1:6-7 and 20:30-31), whereas the Book of Revelation was written in apocalyptic language (i.e. the dark sayings of a prophet, as explained in Numbers 12:6-8) for the purpose of signifying to Jesus’ servants (i.e., people who were already saved) the “things which must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1). With respect to salvation, it makes more sense to interpret Revelation 3:5 through a plain verse like John 6:47, than it does to interpret John 6:47 through an obscure verse like Revelation 3:5.

A long time ago, I got some advice from a preacher. He told me to never build a doctrine from anything I read in the Acts of the Apostles. He said that circumstances were changing too quickly during the Act’s period, and as a result, it wasn’t safe to build any doctrines from it. For example, in Acts 2:38 the believers apparently received the Holy Spirit after being baptized, but in Acts 8:15 the believers received the Holy Spirit after the Apostles prayed and laid hands on them. However, when we get to Acts 10:44, the believers received the Holy Spirit before being baptized entirely. I think the same thing could be said about the Book of Revelation. It just isn’t the type of book we should be relying on to build doctrines.

Seven Churches in Asia

The Book of Revelation was written to people who were already believers and who, by all appearances, were in no danger whatsoever of losing their salvation. John makes this clear in Revelation 1:4-6 where we read the following:

“4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Notice that this greeting was to the seven churches. The people in those churches were “loved, washed from their sins in His blood, and made kings and priests unto God and His Father.” Also, notice that this greeting wasn’t from John exclusively, but from God, the seven Spirits, and from Jesus Christ. Jesus loved these people dearly, despite his harsh words to some of them in chapters 2 and 3. In fact, Jesus tells us the exact same thing in Revelation 3:19 when He said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (compare with 1 Corinthians 11:30-32). Their names belonged to the “slain Lamb” and were written in the book of life “from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8, 17:8). Since this all happened by the decree of God before they were even born, this should give us a big hint that Jesus was not referring to a person losing his salvation and ultimately being cast into the lake of fire when He spoke about blotting a person’s name out of the book of life.

Continuing, in Revelation 1:9 we have the following:

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Notice how he addresses those in the churches as his brother and companion in the kingdom. John was writing to people who were saved. If he was uncertain about their ultimate salvation, or if he had thought that some of them were going to lose their salvation, it seems highly inappropriate to address them with the gracious words we find in Revelation 1:4-6 and 1:9. Rather, we would have expected a pep talk about their need to overcome and endure to the end.

Theme of the Book of Revelation and the Overcomers

One of the main themes in the Book of Revelation is the rewarding of the martyrs and overcomers (Revelation 2-3, 6:9-11, 20:4, 21:7, etc.). A martyr is a special type of believer. Not every believer becomes a martyr. Likewise, the overcomer mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3 is a special type of believer. Not every believer becomes an overcomer. Jesus gives us some very important information about three types of people, including the overcomer, in Revelation 21:6-8.

6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

The first type of person is the thirsty person to whom Jesus gives the water of life freely. This free offer of water reminds of John 4:10 where Jesus calls it the gift of God. Later, in John 6:35, we learn that drinking this water means believing in Jesus. This promise is reiterated in Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” This time around, we learn that being thirsty isn’t even a requirement of receiving the water of life. Since it is a gift, whoever wants it can take it freely. And this is really the heart of the good news of Jesus Christ. Receiving this water does not require a person to be an overcomer. Anyone who wants it, even non-overcomers, can take it freely.

The second type of person is the overcomer, i.e., the person who overcomes. The overcomer is a special type of believer who receives an abundance of inheritance and rewards. More than this, however, the overcomer receives the privilege of sonship. All believers are children of God, and in some sense, all believers are sons of God, but in the context of rewards and inheritance, sonship is joint-heirship with Christ for special believers, as described in Romans 8:17.

The third type of person is typified being cowardly, unbelieving, and a doer of all types of sin. It is significant that cowardice and unbelief are listed at the beginning of this list. Unbelief is the only sin that causes people to fall under judgment (John 3:18), but it seems that for some people, it takes courage to believe. As for the rest of the sins in Revelation 21:8, they mark the identity of unsaved people. Jesus warned the Jews about this when He said, “if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). A person who believes in Jesus is identified with Jesus, but a person who does not believe is simply identified by his sins.

In addition, it is important to notice how “inheriting” in verse 21:7 contrasts with “having a part” in verse 21:8. Both of these words mean basically the same thing, but the former is used of the overcomer and the latter of the unbeliever. “Part” can also be used in a good sense, such as in Revelation 20:6 where the martyrs have their “part” in the first resurrection. In other words, they “inherit” the first resurrection. It is their reward. In contrast, the unbelievers in Revelation 21:8 “inherit” the lake of fire. Now, I mention this because in Revelation 22:19, we find another important use of the word “part.” Let’s read that verse in context, starting from verse 17.

“17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

As mentioned above, the offer of the water of life is for everyone and it does not depend on whether a person overcomes or not. If it did, it would be impossible to offer it to “whoever wants it for free.” In other words, “whoever” includes everyone, including non-overcomers, and at the same time something “free” cannot be stipulated by overcoming and enduring to the end. Next, notice the warnings in verses 18 and 19. While these warnings could be applied generally to all people, both believers and unbelievers, they especially apply to believers. For starters, most unbelievers would have never even read the prophecies in the Book of Revelation, let alone thought about adding to them or taking away from them. Second, notice in verse 19 where there is a threat of having one’s part taken out of the book of life, out of the holy city, and from the things written in the book. This could only refer to believers because unbelievers do not have a part in the book of life, in the holy city, and in the things written in the book. Also notice how “name” (i.e., the identity of a person) would not work in this verse. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to say that someone has “a name in the things written in this book.” Therefore, we can say, with certainty, that “part” in Revelation 22:19 does not refer to the identity of a person (i.e., his actual name). The type of believer referred to in verses 18 and 19 is not merely a non-overcomer, but a person with an agenda to corrupt the word of God. Such a person may very well be a believer who has become an apostate or one who purposefully twists the Scripture in order to promote a doctrine. Such a person is not in danger of losing his salvation, but is in grave danger of falling under severe temporary chastisement, including the plagues that afflicted those who refused to repent throughout the Book of Revelation, and eternal loss of inheritance, including having his part taken out of the book of life, out of the holy city, and from the things written in the book. Such a person has sinned grievously and has lost his reputation among those whose names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Such a person will be among them, for he has taken of the water of life freely, but will have no part or inheritance with them. Now, while this information might not seem relevant to Revelation 3:5, I believe it is and will attempt to show shortly how it is.

The Potential Non-overcomers

Now, I would like to look at a couple instances in the seven letters themselves that particularly address individuals in the churches. Jesus has some harsh words for the churches themselves, but it is particularly important to see what He has to say to the individuals in the churches who are not living appropriately. In Revelation 2:14-16, He has some harsh words for those who hold the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans, and concludes by saying, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” These are words of chastisement and they remind me of Hebrews 4:12 where it says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It also reminds me of the servant in Luke 12:45-46 who would be cut asunder and have his portion among the unfaithful ones (or unbelievers) or as Matthew 24:51 says, “the hypocrites.” (It is quite possible for a servant of Christ to apostatize and become an unbeliever. These types of unbelievers are “saved unbelievers” because they had believed at one point previously, were sealed by the Spirit thereupon, and received eternal life in their inner man, but for some reason, later apostatized. The recipients of the Letter to the Hebrews were also in danger of this, it seems. In any case, Paul tells us that Christ remains faithful to them, regardless of their unbelief, in 2 Timothy 2:13. Therefore, they remain saved and received entrance into the kingdom upon death. It is all to the glory of the Lord to remain faithful to these types of people.) The people in Luke 12:45-46 are still in the kingdom because they are “servants,” but because they are unfaithful (or possibly unbelieving) servants, they will be subject to rebuke and chastisement in this life, such as premature death (1 Corinthians 11:30), and probably at the judgment seat of Christ, as well as loss of rewards and inheritance (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). These are the ones who exceedingly failed to “abide in the Vine” (John 15:1-6). As for those who held the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans in the church of Pergamos, they were in no danger of losing their salvation, granted, of course, that they had received salvation by believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life at least once in their lives. If they were in danger of losing their salvation, this would have been the perfect time for Jesus to warn them about it and the dire consequences of being cast into the lake of fire. But there is not a hint of it in this letter to Pergamos. Rather, they are about to suffer what Paul described as being “chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32).

Next, in Revelation 2:20-23, Jesus has harsh words for the woman who represents Jezebel and her followers. He says to these individuals, “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death;” I think the words kill with death are clear enough to indicate that Jesus is referring to temporal chastisement that results in premature physical death. This is confirmed by what He says next: “and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Notice the word “churches” is in the plural, indicating that these are not the one corporate body of Christ, but local assemblies located on physical earth then and there. If there was ever a good time to warn them of the lake of fire, this would have been it. The sins of Jezebel rival those of the beast and false prophet. For the sin of worshiping the beast and receiving its mark is grounded in idolatry. And Jezebel’s doctrine is idolatry and fornication, and is so severe that it is referred to as the “depths of Satan.” Now, I do grant that there very well could have been false brothers (2 Corinthians 11:26, Galatians 2:4) in these churches, for there were fake apostles and fake Jews among some of the churches (Revelation 2:2 and 2:9). But my point is that the churches themselves and those in the churches typify genuine believers, some of whom needed to repent. But the consequences of not repenting was never to the degree of losing their salvation and ultimately being cast into the lake of fire.

As another example, let’s consider the Laodiceans. Now, while Jesus’ rebuke was directed at the church in general, and not the individual, it is interesting that the solution He provides is directed at the individual. Jesus first explains the reason for speaking so harshly by saying, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). In this verse, we have a direct reference to Jesus’ love for the Laodiceans. So, His threat of spitting them out of His mouth must not be regarded as a threat of them losing their salvation. Rather, Jesus clarifies the problem and provides the solution in the very next verse: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Having a meal with someone represents fellowship. Consider for example, the chapters on fellowship in the Gospel of John, chapters 13 to 17. That fellowship centered around eating the Passover meal. In the case of the Laodiceans, they had broken fellowship through their lifestyle. But even now, Jesus was not far from them. He was standing at the door, ready to come in immediately so that they could renew their fellowship. And His invitation was to any individual in the church who would listen. What Jesus is saying and doing is so far from a threat. It is the exact opposite. His heart throbs for them and simply wants to renew fellowship.

Analysis of Revelation 3:5

In light of what I have written so far, it should be obvious that Revelation 3:5 cannot be referring to believers having their actual names (i.e., identities) blotted out of the book of life (i.e., losing their eternal salvation) and ultimately being cast into the lake of fire. However, at the same time, some believers can sin so badly that their part is taken out of the book of life, meaning that they lose their inheritance in heaven. So, with this background in place, I think we are now ready to consider Revelation 3:5.

While preparing for this article, I started to wonder if the word “name” in Revelation 3:5 was somehow related to the word “name” in Revelation 3:1. The church in Sardis “had a name that it lived, and yet was dead.” Certainly, “name” in this context doesn’t refer to the actual name (i.e., the identity) of the church, but to the “reputation” of the church. This got me thinking about the use of the word “name” in Revelation 3:5. Staying within the context of this short letter (verses 1 to 7), it seemed reasonable to me that “name” in verse 5 also probably meant “reputation.” In other words, “name” in verse 5 probably didn’t refer to the actual name of a person, but to the “reputation” of the person. In contrast to the church itself, the overcomer (i.e., the one who overcomes) in verse 5 will not have his name (i.e., reputation) blotted out of the book of life. As mentioned above, the book of life doesn’t include just a list of actual names, but also includes the “part” of each person written in it (Revelation 22:19). It may also include the good works (and perhaps bad works) of the people written in it (see Revelation 20:12-15 where it is contrasted with other books that contain works).

At first, I felt my interpretation was too underdeveloped to put into an article, but while researching this topic, I was pleasantly surprised to find a paper online by an author who also held to a similar view. In fact, his paper helped me further develop some of the ideas I mentioned above.

The paper is called “I Will Not Erase His Name From the Book of Life” and it was written by J. William Fuller in 1983 for The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. Here is the abstract of that paper:

In the minds of many Christians, the possible loss of one’s salvation lurks menacingly behind the enigmatic promise applied to the “overcomer” in Rev 3:5: “I will not erase his name from the book of life.” The implication of the verse seems to be that those believers who do not overcome will be blotted out of the book and hence lose their “salvation.” This article will seek to establish the intention of the perplexing statement of this verse, an intention that, we shall see, does not include the loss of what is normally meant by eternal salvation.

I strongly recommend that everyone read that paper. It can be found here.

Now, I don’ think there is much I can add to what Fuller said in his paper. However, assuming that everyone has read the paper, I would like to make a few comments on it.

To sum up Fuller’s view, he see Revelation 3:5 as primarily a promise and only secondarily as a veiled threat. More specifically, it is a promise to the overcomer that such a person will have a rich reward in heaven commensurate with such a person’s good name, in contrast with the church in general, which had a good name among men, but a bad one with the Lord Jesus (Revelation 3:1). At the same time, Revelation 3:5 can simultaneously be viewed as a veiled threat to the non-overcomer, not of losing one’s eternal salvation, but of losing one’s name (i.e., reputation), resulting in loss of inheritance and rewards in heaven.

In addition to what Fuller said, as I mentioned above, I think Revelation 22:19 also provides evidence that “name” means “reputation” in Revelation 3:5. Now, it seems that Fuller was not using a Textus Receptus based Bible for his study, so he might not have considered the connection between having a “name (i.e., reputation) in the book of life” and having a “part in the book of life.” Certainly, one’s name influences one’s part in life, so why should it be any different in heaven. For example, children with a good name often receive a larger inheritance from their parents than children with a bad name. In fact, children with a bad name may ultimately not receive any inheritance at all. Such a situation doesn’t exclude them from being children, and perhaps even beloved children, but because of their bad deeds or whatever, they essentially forfeit or lose their inheritance. We know this happens in the case of successful business people. Such people may deeply love their children, and yet at the same time, refuse to leave their companies and businesses to their incompetent and lazy children. In the Bible, we saw something similar with Esau when he sold his birthright to Jacob. In Hebrews 12:16-17 the following:

“16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”

Notice that Esau’s problem was in relation to inheriting a blessing. He was still Isaac’s son, and according to Genesis 25:28, Isaac actually loved him more than Jacob. However, it was because he carried the name of a “profane person” that he lost inheriting a blessing. He tried to regain it later through repentance and many tears, but was unsuccessful. Again, it is important to recognize that he did not lose his place in Isaac’s family. He was still his beloved son, but what he lost was his blessing.

Litotes

In addition to the interpretation I described above, there is another possibility for interpreting Revelation 3:5. It involves the use of the figure of speech called litotes. Litotes is a form of verbal irony where understatement is used to emphasize the certainty of something. That may sound complicated, but it is really simple and we use it everyday in our daily conversations. For example, when we say something like “You won’t regret it” or “It wasn’t bad,” we are using litotes. What we really mean by those statements is that “You’ll be happy” and “It was good.” As an example of litotes in the Bible, we can find it in Matthew 10:42, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Can you find the use of litotes in this verse? Jesus used it when He said, “he shall in no wise lose his reward.” By saying this, Jesus actually meant that “he shall certainly receive his reward.” If we apply litotes to Revelation 3:5, the phrase “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life” can be interpreted as “I will certainly accentuate his name in the book of life.”

Fuller, in his article, mentioned that he think litotes is an unlikely solution to Revelation 3:5. His reasoning seems to be that if litotes is a solution, then it effectively denies the special role of the “overcomer,” since litotes would mean that no one actually gets their name blotted out the book of life after all. In other words, it makes all believers overcomers, regardless of whether they are in practice or not. Fuller believes that, positionally speaking, all believers are overcomers just as it is written in 1 John 5:4. However, he doesn’t think all believers live as overcomers during their human experience. And it is this human experience of overcoming that is the focus of Revelation 3:5. As mentioned previously, Fuller sees Revelation 3:5 primarily as a promise to overcomers, but secondarily as a veiled threat to non-overcomers, not in regard to them losing their salvation in Christ, but in regard to losing their good name (in the same sense that “name” was used in Revelation 3:1), resulting in loss of inheritance and rewards in heaven.

Personally, I mostly agree with Fuller, but I also think litotes is being used in Revelation 3:5. In particular, I think that litotes complements his view. Contextually speaking, as Fuller already mentioned, Jesus is making a contrast with the deadness of the name of the church in Revelation 3:1. Therefore, when He says, “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life,” He is not simply saying that “I will leave your name in the book of life.” In verse 4 and 5a, He already mentioned that they were “worthy” and that they would be walking with Him in white. To walk with Jesus in white is an extraordinary reward. Such a person is within Jesus’ inner circle of companions. It is after mentioning this immense promise that Jesus says, “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.” So, by saying this, He really means, “Even though I have, practically speaking, blotted out the name of his church from the book of life, I will certainly accentuate his name in the book of life” and “I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (verse 5b). Certainly, when Jesus confesses the overcomer’s name before His Father and His angels, He is not simply just shouting out His actual name (i.e., his identity), but is making mention of his reputation and good works that go along with his actual name.

In regard to Fuller’s opinion that litotes would make all believers overcomers, I don’t think that is true. If Jesus was using litotes, His point was to emphasize the name, accentuating it and exalting it above other believers. In this case, even though all believers’ names remain written in the book of life (i.e., no one has his name blotted out of it), not all of them can, practically speaking, be called overcomers. Only the overcomer has his name exalted.

One problem with interpreted Revelation 3:5 as a veiled threat is that it commits the logical fallacy called “denying the antecedent.” It takes the true statement, “If he overcomes, I will not blot out his name out of the book of life,” and wrongly infers “If he doesn’t overcome, I will blot out his name out of the book of life.” The latter might not be true at all. It could be true, but it simply cannot be logically inferred. In the case of Revelation 3:5, however, the alleged threat is so big that this inference is often just assumed to be correct. So, while I do mostly agree with Fuller’s interpretation, and personally see a relationship between “name” in Revelation 3:5 and “part” in Revelation 22:19, I also have to face the fact that I am committing a logical fallacy. Again, this doesn’t mean that interpreting Revelation 3:5 as secondarily conveying a veiled threat to blot out the non-overcomer’s name (i.e., a person’s reputation or his part) is necessarily wrong. However, such an interpretation cannot be logically inferred by Jesus’ words. In other words, people who see a veiled threat in Revelation 3:5 might simply be reading too much into Jesus’ words.

In addition to the context, there are also some translation considerations that support the view of litotes in Revelation 3:5.

In the King James Version (KJV), we read, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

However, in the American Standard Version (ASV), we read, “He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

The ASV provides a more literal translation than the KJV. In particular, we should note that Jesus did not say, “I will not blot out,” but “I will in no wise blot out.” The Greek uses the double negative ou me before the verb “blot out” to emphasize that blotting out the name is really unthinkable. This use of the double negative means that Jesus did not simply mean that “I will leave his name in the book of life.” Instead, it means “I will accentuate his name in the book of life.” The use of the double negative in Revelation 3:5 diminishes the possibility that it is a veiled threat and enhances the possibility that it is a use of litotes. Even if it can be secondarily interpreted as a veiled threat, the double negative diminishes the degree of the threat, while enhancing the primary interpretation as a promise (and thus strengthening Fuller’s interpretation).

Another translation issue in Revelation 3:5 is the Greek conjunction kai (usually translated “and”) used in the last clause. Notice that the KJV translates it as “but,” whereas the ASV translates it as “and.” If a contrast were really being made between the last two clauses, we would have expected the Greek conjunction de (usually translated “but”). This is especially true because this is the second conjunctional use of kai in the sentence. The first use certainly means “and,” so it seems natural that the second use would also mean “and.” It would also be strange to have a veiled threat sandwiched right between two promises. Doing so would definitely diminish the effect of the promises. The Greek conjunction kai can sometimes be used to emphasize something surprising and unexpected such as in Revelation 3:1 where it says, “that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead,” but that usage doesn’t apply in Revelation 3:5. None of the lexicons, including BDAG, Thayer, and Louw-Nida, list the second conjunction kai in Revelation 3:5 as falling under such a category. More importantly, none of the lexicons have an entry for the conjunction kai that says it can be used as a synonym for the conjunction de to contrast two clauses. This is significant because it strengthens the argument that the clause “I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life” is not a threat, but a promise. This means that litotes is likely correct. At the same time, it could also be greatly emphasizing the promise over the threat (which would again support Fuller’s interpretation).

Conclusion

In light of the above discussion, “I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life” in Revelation 3:5 should be interpreted as Fuller does or as a use of litotes. Both interpretations have their strong points. Opponents of eternal security interpret the verse as a veiled threat about the danger of losing one’s eternal salvation and ultimately being cast into the lake of fire. In this article, I believe I have shown that such a view is untenable. When Revelation 3:5 is read in context and in light of other relevant passages in the Book of Revelation, it becomes clear that it is a promise, and if it is a threat at all, it is only a threat secondarily and conveys not loss of eternal salvation, but loss inheritance and rewards in heaven.