Revelation 20:11-15 (NKJV)

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, c and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. d 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

In revelation 20 it would seem everyone not found in the book of life is thrown into the lake of fire but then in revelation 22

Revelation 22:11-16 (NKJV)

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, g that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But h outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

In revelation 22 it would seem there are some who are not saved, where do they come from since they were destroyed during the white throne judgment

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    There are people who say, that the new Jerusalem is a metaphor for the parish (church).
    – user27131
    Apr 23, 2019 at 17:56

2 Answers 2


No Contradiction

Rev 22:15 states there are a group of "not saved" (as you note) that exist "outside" the city.

Rev 20:11-15 does state (as you note) that "everyone not found in the book of life is thrown into the lake of fire." The indication is that this lake is a distinct "place." Further, it is...

  1. a place that persists through the remaking of the heaven and earth (after which point the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven) and
  2. a place that still has those cast into it having a part in that fire (Rev 21:8)

...per Rev 21:1-2, 8 (NKJV):

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. ... 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Those who are in the lake are the same that are later noted to not be able to enter the city in Rev 21:27—

But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Notice how the Revelation 21 passages directly address the "chronological issue" of the question, for it shows how the chronology fits between the lake of fire and the New Jerusalem. Based on what is stated, the indication is simply that the lake of fire is located outside the New Jerusalem, and those who are still in an eternally conscious torment (cf. Mt 18:6-9, 25:41, 46; Mk 9:42-48; Rev 14:10-11, 20:10) by having a part in that fire are not allowed to enter into the city.

So when Rev 22:15 makes its statement that relates those allowed inside to those remaining outside the city, it is summarizing what was just covered in Rev 20:11-22:5, giving the final state of affairs for those that do and do not have access into the city and the tree of life for the purposes of being an admonition to be one of those "who do His commandments" and have rights to city and tree access. Those people who "now doing" (present active participle, ποιοῦντες), "will have [of themselves]" (future middle indicative, ἔσται; referring grammatically back to the temporally future events just noted in Rev 21:1-22:5) "right to the tree of life" and "may enter" (aorist active subjunctive) "through the gates into the city" (implied, at that future time just described in Rev 21:24-27).

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    No offense but it seems like in your haste to use this to support eternal conscious torment you have missed the context of the Rev 22 statements. That they are not in the same chronological narrative flow as ch.20. In the full referenced section Rev 22:12 Jesus says "Behold, I am coming soon" which makes no sense if you are trying to say that ch22 supports a continuous chronology (upon which your claim it supports eternal conscious torment/ECT). This isn't a comment on the correctness of ECT, but on the context of Rev 22 and its relevance.
    – Joshua
    Dec 5, 2016 at 19:00
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    @Joshua: What I am pointing out is that Rev 21 (that was skipped by the OP) answers the chronology that is being summarized in Rev 22:12-15. The chronological events end in 22:5, but 22:15 is a part of that summary of the chronology about His second coming that was expounded upon throughout revelation. So while 22:15 is not itself part of the continuous chronology, it is referencing back to that chronology. I just edited the answer to make that point clearer.
    – ScottS
    Dec 5, 2016 at 20:07
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    Thanks for reply. I did get the sense that was what you were saying but you just didn't seem to directly answer the main question before moving on to the rest of your explanation. And I'm sure I missed it too :) not sure what was edited but seems clearer. Hope some good came from my criticism.
    – Joshua
    Dec 5, 2016 at 21:53

Authorial Intention

Great question. I think that sometimes we get tripped up in understanding Revelation because we don't fully consider the purpose or intention of the text. If the intention is only to describe this future state of the world, then perhaps there would be a contradiction here.

However, consider Revelation 22:16 as you've quoted it, which gives us a sense of the authorial intent - "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches." Revelation shows unfolding apocalyptic events being poured out upon the earth by God, and details the survival of the church in the midst of these circumstances. There's a sense in which these things are ahead of the church, but another in which they are present. The whole point of the narrative is for the present churches to take care in their ways, and to walk faithfully.

For the original recipients, Revelation wasn't a letter about the distant future, but rather a prophecy of things which were very near: the rise and fall of 'Babylon' (Rome), the outpouring of death and destruction upon the earth, and the survival and thrival of God's Kingdom in its midst. Just as when Jesus walked the earth, the Kingdom is seen in its forceful advance (Matthew 11:12) and glorious perseverance, as the saints are witnessed awaiting God's intervention in their persecutions (Revelation 5:8).

In this context, the narrative progresses. Yes in Revelation 20 we see the ultimate end-point of these trials and persecutions, when God finally brings his justice to the earth. But Chapter 22 sees something of a bridge between that future and this present age - it's a comment on how our actions today and here and now impact that final day.


Today, 'blessed are those who do his commandments...' because we have the right to the tree of life, and have entered (and will enter) through the gates of the city of the Kingdom. But for those who persevere in rebellion and unrighteousness, they will reap the other promises of Revelation. Those who are outside the Kingdom today will be those who are delivered to judgement in Revelation 20.

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