Discourse 62 - When will the names of the righteous be entered in the book of life?




When will the faithful be entered in the book of life? / Reply Christian Bollmeyer 00, 2003-12-30

When will the last righteous of the Last Days leave this world?


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(When will the faithful be entered in the book of life? / Reply ChB 00, 2003-12-30)

First of all I must thank you for setting up this outstanding website, which I regularly study with much profit. Till now I have not found any other source on the Internet that so consistently takes issue with biblical prophecy, basing its approach - quite rightly - on the exclusive evidence of Scripture. Your numerous quotations from the Bible support the ‘demonstrations’ you offer, as the reader can immediately check the argument presented, and the admirable stringency of this gives your writings an exceptional power of conviction. This is the case, of course, if a person chooses to believe in the Bible rather than in those various doctrines and other isolated theories which cannot stand up to examination in the light of Scripture. Incidentally, the clear style in which you write is also refreshing. In spite of the seriousness of the theme, this can be at times altogether amusing (and I mean that in a positive sense), as when you speak of transsubstantiation with reference to the possibility of taking communion on Friday (Discourse 32). I do not find it possible to add anything at this point to your comments on the Catholic Church’s conception of itself and its numerous unbiblical dogmas, though I feel myself prompted to warn readers against this fatal path of error with still greater urgency.

But the reason why I am writing this e-mail is actually quite different. I have a question about the book of life, to which so far I have not been able to find an answer. The fact is that - at least as far as I am able to determine on the basis of my knowledge of the Scriptures - it is nowhere stated in the Bible that a person’s name is entered in the book of life. The only thing we find is that a name can be deleted from it:

“May they be blotted out of the book of life And may they not be recorded with the righteous.” (Ps. 69, 28)

”He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Rev. 3, 5)


Now, it is certain that at the end of things some have their names in the book of life and others do not (Rev. 20, 15). If this is correct, so far as it goes, I think that certain interesting positions might be entailed:

A. All human beings have their names to begin with in the book of life, but the ungodly are later deleted from it.

B. Not all human beings, but only some - the ‘chosen’, so to speak - have their names in the book from the start; some of these, though, will be deleted later on.

C. To start with nobody’s name is entered in the book of life: you get your name entered in course of time (on conversion perhaps?), and may possibly later have your name removed from it again.


In the last resort, in view of Jn. 3,36 this makes no decisive difference for the majority of human beings. But it seems theoretically possible to imagine that there are human beings - if we think of an infant, for instance - who are not able to make conscious decisions or to be obedient in the sense of Jn. 3,36, and to whom the criteria of exclusion mentioned in Mt. 10,33 and Mk. 8,38 do not apply either. But then it is the book of life that would make the decisive difference. Perhaps, on the other hand, my knowledge of Scripture does not extend far enough, or there is something faulty in my interpretation. Could you possibly offer me clarification on this point?

Christian Bollmeyer, Hamburg / bollmeyer@debitel.net



Of course I am deeply gratified by the writer’s positive judgment of this website. At the same time I am extremely grateful for this enquiry, as the topic has frequently been hinted at in the past in Immanuel.at’s discussion forum, but has never been spelt out in specific terms - so that a discussion of the theme has always been put off. Moreover, the analysis which we have given above, with the scriptural passages quoted by Mr Bollmeyer, is an excellent point of departure if we wish to get to the bottom of this question.

Let us consider the first of the possibilities he suggests:

A. All human beings have their names to begin with in the book of life, but the ungodly are later deleted from it.

This seems plausible enough, but we find a quite unambiguous answer to it when we look at what is stated in Rev 13,8 and 17,8.

Everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life.

Rev 13,8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Rev 13, 8;

Those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

Rev 17,8 "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. Rev 17, 8;


According to these passages there are people whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world - in other words, from the absolute beginning. This leads us to conclude that the statement “All human beings have their names to begin with in the book of life” cannot be correct, as otherwise the names of these people would also be included in it. As for the second part of hypothesis A (“but the ungodly are later deleted from it”), we will have something to say about this later on.

Now if, in accordance with the scriptural passages just quoted, there are people who do not have their names in the book of life from the foundation of the world, we can turn the matter about and so reach the conclusion that there must also be people who actually do have their names in the book. And this means that we can rule out the third hypothesis, seeing that it states that

C. To start with nobody’s name is entered in the book of life: you get your name entered in course of time (on conversion perhaps?), and may possibly later have your name removed from it again.


Ex 32,32-33 also provides evidence against this theory. There it is written:

And if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written.

Ex 32,32 "But now, if You will, forgive their sin-and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!" 32,33 The LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. Ex 32,32-33;


So if God has written a book, then something must be written in it - it cannot just be empty. But this means that we can also rule out the first statement of the second part of hypothesis C (“you get your name entered in course of time - on conversion perhaps?”). As we have seen in the passages quoted earlier, these names have been entered in the book from the foundation of the world, and so can only be deleted subsequently.

This leaves us with the hypothesis which seems the most probable, in the light of the scriptural passages quoted:

B. Not all human beings, but only some - the ‘chosen’, so to speak - have their names in the book from the start; some of these, though, will be deleted later on.

As we will however see, when we pursue the argument further, those who are entered in the book of life are not ‘chosen’ a priori, thus amounting to a minority - rather, they comprise almost the whole of humanity. It is those who are not entered in the book who are the minority, and a comparatively small minority at that. The second statement contained in hypothesis B - “some of these, though, will be deleted later on” - is also, sadly, correct, so that in the final effect the situation may be reversed up to the Last Judgment. This too can be demonstrated on the basis of unambiguous scriptural utterances:

Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.

Ex 32, 31 Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, "Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32,32 "But now, if You will, forgive their sin-and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!" 32,33 The LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. Ex 32,31-33;

May they be blotted out of the book of life and may they not be recorded.

Ps 69,26 For they have persecuted him whom You Yourself have smitten, And they tell of the pain of those whom You have wounded. 69,27 Add iniquity to their iniquity, And may they not come into Your righteousness. 69,28 May they be blotted out of the book of life And may they not be recorded with the righteous. Ps 69,26-28;


Let us sum up, then, the conclusions we have come to so far:

o  According to Scripture, there are people whose names are not entered in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

o  Consequently there must be people as well whose names are entered in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

o  But these people who are entered in the book can be erased from the book of life again if they conduct themselves inappropriately.


This seems to supply an answer to the first - and probably the easier - part of this question. The second part, though, includes elements that are a great deal more explosive:

“In the last resort, in view of Jn. 3,36 this makes no decisive difference for the majority of human beings. But it seems theoretically possible to imagine that there are human beings - if we think of an infant, for instance - who are not able to make conscious decisions or to be obedient in the sense of Jn. 3,36, and to whom the criteria of exclusion mentioned in Mt. 10,33 and Mk. 8,38 do not apply either. But then it is the book of life that would make the decisive difference.”


Here the author quite correctly refers to Jn 3,36, Mt 10,33 and Mk 8,38:

He who believes in the Son has eternal life.

Jn 3,36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Jn 3,36;

But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Mt 10,33 "But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Mt 10,33;

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him.

Mk 8,38 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Mk 8,38;


We can see that in the second part of the commentary quoted above, the visitor to our website is looking for an answer to the question what happens to those human beings (like infants) who because they die too early or by reason of other unfavorable circumstances are unable to make a conscious choice to follow the Lord, and that through no fault of their own. And the conclusion he comes to - “But then it is the book of life that would make the decisive difference” - also seems to be perfectly correct.

As I see it, we can answer the question relating to these ignorant beings in general terms by saying that in the eyes of God they are to be “presumed innocent” - even if this term is no more than an aid that permits us to have an inkling of the universal wisdom of God, which knows the decision of every individual human being, even if this human being should have died before being able to make such a decision. This will be so either in the case of the infant who leaves this world prematurely or in that of a native in the deepest bush who dies without ever having heard of Jesus Christ. In so far as such a person has not consciously and deliberately denied God - the God who can be seen by all human beings and is everywhere visible in the creation (Rom 1,20-21) - his name remains entered in the book of life and will not be deleted from it.

(See also Discourse 55: “Why does God permit suffering?“)

But this just supplies us with an answer to the question as it relates to conscious or unconscious believers. The problem is considerably more complex if we cast light upon it from a different angle, by putting the question how it should be that according to Scripture there are people who are not entered in the book of life from the foundation of the world. And this question, in its turn, suggests further questions:

-  Does it follow that those whose names are written in the book do not need to make any kind of conscious decision?

-  Can God be absolutely just if there is a portion of humanity to whom he gives no chance at all?

-  Did Jesus Christ not die for all human beings?


This argument is fully grounded in Scripture, and so must be taken quite seriously. The first question has already been answered in our observations above. Of course it is the case that every individual human being needs to make a conscious and personal decision in order to be saved. Only those situations where such a decision is not possible, in view of intellectual deficiency (e.g. in an infant - though we might also think, in this context, of people who are mentally handicapped: cf. Mt 5:3) or for want of information (as with people who have never come into contact with civilization), constitute the exception: here it is the inner state of heart of these beings that will be decisive in the eyes of God. They have been entered in the book of life from the foundation of the world, and if they have not been erased from it through fault of their own, they will be saved accordingly.

The two other questions now focus quite specifically on the fact that in Rev 13,8 and 17,8 we find a mention of people whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. Seeing this from a scriptural point of view, we have to agree with the conclusion that these people are lost and cannot be saved. If we now want to reproach God for giving these people no chance of salvation, or to complain that then Christ would seem not to have died for all men, it is to be put down to a faulty line of reasoning, as we will demonstrate in what follows.

It is always assumed, in this connection, that these “non-entered” beings, like those whose names are entered, are human beings who have lived from the foundation of the world until the present day or who will live at some future time. But is this actually the case? Let us take another look at the relevant scriptural passages and the context i n which they appear:

Everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life.

Rev 13,4 They worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?" 13,5 There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. 13,6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 13,7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. 13,8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Rev 13, 4- 8;

Those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

Rev 17,7 And the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 17,8 "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. Rev 17, 7 - 8;


Both passages relate to the “beast”, that is to say, to the Antichrist. And the people who are mentioned in this connection, specifically, are those who worship the beast (Rev 13,8) or wonder at it (Rev 17,8). But the beast can only be worshiped or wondered at by those human beings who will be alive on earth at this time. The reference to “everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life” thus relates purely and solely to the “worshipers of the beast”, that is, to those human beings who in the Last Days, after the Rapture, will worship the demonic Antichrist as “God” (2Thess 2:4). These are the people who, in spite of the true God’s severe and wrathful judgment, continue to blaspheme against him and refuse to repent (Rev 9:20-21, 16:9-11).

According to the most recent understanding of Scripture, the Antichrist first comes on the scene in human form in Rev 6:1-2, as the conquering horseman on the white horse. He is then responsible for the Great Tribulation in Rev 6:7-8, and finally, in Rev 6:12-17, is killed by the Lord on the Lord’s Second Coming at the time of the Rapture (2Thess 2:8). After this Satan brings him back to life as a demonic being, the “beast coming up out of the sea” (Rev 13:1-3). In this form he becomes a “substitute Christ” (this sense also being implied by the Greek prefix ‘anti’), and he will perform signs and wonders to lead astray those who are alive at the time, and cause them to fall away from God the almighty.

(See also Table 14: “The Revelation - classified by events.“)

(See also Discourse 48: “An alternative view on the sequence of events in the Last Days.“)

These, then, are the people whom God, in his universal wisdom, has known right from the foundation of the world, whom he therefore has not included in the book of life. These are those, moreover, who could not be saved by the redeeming sacrifice of Christ, because they commit that sin which - uniquely - can never be forgiven, not by anyone or in any circumstances: the sin against the Holy Spirit. They curse the true Son of God and the Holy Spirit, and worship a demon created by Satan as their “Christ”, and Satan as their “God”.

Blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven either in this age or in the age to come.

Mt 12,31 "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 12,32 "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Mt 12,31-32;


As we can see, the hypothesis advanced by Mr Bollmeyer at the outset of this Discourse

B. Not all human beings, but only some - the ‘chosen’, so to speak - have their names in the book from the start; some of these, though, will be deleted later on


is correct as far as it goes, but it needs to be spelt out in more specific terms:

All human beings are written in the book of life with the exception of those whose names have been erased through their own fault, and likewise with the exception of all those who worship the beast in the Last Days, whose names have not been entered in the book of life from the very beginning.


When will the last righteous of the Last Days leave this world?

Finally, the question is often asked in this connection, particularly with reference to Rev 13,8:

Rev 13,8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Rev 13, 8;


whether indeed “all who dwell on earth” will worship the beast and so be finally lost, so that from this point on not a single true believer is any longer to be found on earth. To determine this we must look at other passages in Revelation which deal with the people living at this time. In Rev 17,8 we find a similar statement:

And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life.

Rev 17,8 "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. Rev 17, 8;


Here there is a reference to “those who dwell on the earth”, and again we might be inclined to think that we really have to do with the entire population of the earth. But then we find in the continuation “... whose name has not been written in the book of life”, and this might be regarded as a restricting clause, leading us to the conclusion that the first statement refers only to those whose names are not written in the book of life, and so after all does not include all people on earth.

Rev 9,13-21 is another passage that makes a definite contribution to our understanding of this issue. We are told here of the plagues of the sixth trumpet, of fire, smoke and brimstone. And in Rev 9,18 we are informed that a third of mankind was killed by these plagues. Thus two thirds of the human race is still alive; and we might well suppose that the reason why they have not been killed is that they have not worshiped the beast.

A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues of the sixth trumpet.

Rev 9,17 And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. 9,18 A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.

9,19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads, and with them they do harm. 9,20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; 9,21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts. Rev 9,17-21;


But Rev 9,20 then indicates that these remaining two thirds also refused to repent “of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk”. And this compels us to draw the fairly certain conclusion that the scriptural passages quoted above do indeed always relate to the entire human population, so that at this point there will not be a single believing human being left on earth.

If that is the case, the question naturally suggests itself (and it is a question that repeatedly confronts biblical commentators when they seek to interpret this book) - from what point on, in the course of the events of the Last Days as described in Revelation, is the earth populated only by blasphemers and worshipers of the beast? Or to put the question the other way about: when will the last righteous person be caught up and taken from the earth?

Here we must take it as read, in accordance with the point of view presented on this website, that the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture both take place in connection with the sixth seal, at the time of the great darkness.

(See also Discourse 05: “The parallel course of events of Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7.“)

This means that at the commencement of the Day of the Lord and the Wrath of God (Rev 8,1) - and so before the plagues of the trumpets - apparently all the faithful of this world are already in heaven. We might be tempted to try to pinpoint the Rapture as that point in time from which all the righteous are in heaven, and only ungodly are left alive on earth, but this would be confuted by the statements made in Rev 7,2-3 and 9,4:

Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.

Rev 7.2 And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 7,3 saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads." Rev 7, 2- 3;


Here we find ourselves in the midst of the events of the Last Days, after the Rapture; and the four angels to whom it has been granted to harm the earth and the sea are commanded to wait until the 144,000 bond-servants of God - 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel - have been sealed on their foreheads. If we follow the chronology of Revelation, this event occurs immediately after the Second Coming of the Lord and before the plagues of the trumpets. It follows that these Israelites are still on earth at this point - after the Rapture, that is.

If we now consider what is said about the plagues of the fifth trumpet, in the chronological sequence following, we again find an indirect reference to these 144,000 Israelites. Here we are told:

Hurt only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Rev 9,1 Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. 9,2 He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.

9,3 Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 9,4 They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Rev 9, 1- 4;


If, then, only those are to be hurt who do not have this seal of God on their foreheads, the reverse is also implied - that is to say, the 144,000 Israelites must still be on earth at this time. And it seems important to point out that this circumstance is expressly alluded to in this passage, even though in relation to the entire world population (which must still come to some few billion) 144,000 people would be a relatively small minority.

This makes it all the more interesting that when the next plagues follow - those of the seventh trumpet - this distinction is no longer observed. As we saw earlier, Rev 9,18 tells us that

“A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues”

and Rev 9,20 goes on:

“The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent.”


Seeing that the 144,000 who have been sealed have patently survived the first four plagues of the trumpets without hurt, and have moreover been explicitly excluded from the plagues of the fifth trumpet, it is highly improbable that they are to be counted among those who are killed by the three plagues of the sixth trumpet. Nor can we suppose - in reverse - that these bond-servants of God form part of those still alive who continue to worship demons. The obvious conclusion, therefore, is that they have left the earth between the fifth and the sixth trumpet, having likewise been caught up in a Rapture into heaven.

In Rev 11,1-13 we also find out about the two witnesses of God who will prophesy on the earth for 1260 days and after finishing their testimony, according to Rev 11,7 will be killed by the beast that comes up out of the abyss (2nd Antichrist) (see also Rev 13,7).

When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.

Rev 11,7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. Rev 11, 7;


And as it says further in Rev 11,10-12, “those who dwell on the earth” will rejoice at the death of the two witnesses of God and they will be taken up into heaven three and a half days after their death.

And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate.

Rev 11,10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. 11.11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 11,12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. Rev 11,10-12;


One could assume that these would be the last righteous ones who left the earth and ascended into heaven, if there were not still those martyrs in Rev 13,15 who refuse to worship the image of the beast and are killed by the image of the beast and whom we then find at the First Resurrection in Rev 20,4:

The image of the beast would cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Rev 13,15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. Rev 13,15;

Those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4;


Viewed temporally, the killing of the martyrs who refused to worship the image of the beast must occur after the death of the two witnesses, thus already during the dominion of the beast, since the two witnesses were killed, according to Rev 11,7, by the beast “that comes up out of the abyss” - thus obviously at the beginning of his work. We can therefore assume that Rev 14,12-13 also has to do precisely with these martyrs at the time of the Antichrist.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!

Rev 14,12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 14,13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." Rev 14,12-13;


These martyrs during the reign of the beast would thus have been the last righteous ones who were still on earth. And as of the first plague of the bowls in Rev 16:1-2 there are evidently worldwide merely demon and idol worshippers left, whose purpose in life is concentrated murder, sorcery, immorality and theft, as Rev 9:20-21 above states.