Throughout scripture there are passages regarding the names-of-the-redeemed being written in (or conversely “excluded from”) the book of life.

And in Psalm 69:28 David asks God, regarding his enemies, to...

“Erase their names from the Book of Life; don’t let them be counted among the righteous.”

And in Revelation 3:5 Jesus states that one of the rewards of a faithful person will be...

“I will never erase his name from the book of life”

My question is about being “erased” from the book of life. Are David and Jesus implying that a person’s name, having been predetermined and included into the eternal book of life, can later be erased?

And if a name cannot be erased from the book of life, why does Jesus allude to the concept of erasure? ...instead of exclusion?

  • That’s not what it says, it says if you conquers The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:5‬ Jul 4, 2019 at 20:44
  • @Autodidact. That's a fine point. My question then centers around the notion of "blot"
    – Neville
    Jul 4, 2019 at 20:48
  • @Constantthin Please don't use comments for "mini answers". Comments should be reserved for requesting clarification or suggesting improvements to posts.
    – Caleb
    Jul 5, 2019 at 8:09

5 Answers 5


All speak of God's elect is utterly in vain unless one speaks with Christian hope or in objective terms. No one knows if they are ultimately saved in particular, only God:

1 Corinthians 4:4 Indeed, I know of nothing on my conscience, but I am not by that fact justified: he that shall judge me is the Lord

Philippians 3:8b-14 ...that I might gain Christ, and may be found in him, not having a righteous of my own, from a keeping of the law, but that which is of God, found in the faith of Christ, which is had by faith: to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the communion with his sufferings, being conformed to his death: if by any means I should attain to the resurrection of the dead—not that I have already obtained, or am already perfect, but I press forward, so that perhaps I should also take hold on that by which also Christ took hold of me. Brothers, I do not as yet reckon that I have taken hold, yet one thing I do: forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forward to those that are ahead, I press forward to the finish, to the prize of God's calling above in Christ Jesus.

You can know if you have tasted the heavenly gift, been justified, etc. but no one knows their final state, and final relationship with God, whether they will seek repentance too late after becoming a prodigal son, or again turn to living like a heathen and find that they are visited by the Lord as in an untimely visit by a thief in the night as He promises to come, or find they have lost their zeal or love, and grown cold by virtue of the increasing wickedness of the world around them.

As such, when God speaks of writing in and blotting out someone's name from the already metaphorical book of life, it is a mere condescension to human frailty—to temporal beings; as we can only fathom time as a succession of moments (living righteously now, squandering mercy now; Israel the bride now, Israel the harlot the next moment), whereas God knows the end from the beginning, and He has chosen, is choosing, and will choose the chosen (eklektoi).

I will not blot his name out of the book of life is the rhetorical way of saying that the believer lives spiritually and will enjoy everlasting life. By contrast, I will blot his name out is the implied fate of those who do not persist and endure and overcome, but grow cold, by virtue of His promise to those who do, means that the person "is dead while he yet lives" (1 Timothy 5:6), and will not have everlasting life.


In regard to the word "predetermined" the only one who 'pre' knows anything, and thus who 'pre' determines who will enter heaven, is God, who alone knows the future. But for us, there is still time to be admitted, and later blotted out, and then readmitted, and so forth—but those who were written there and later blotted out, again, following the metaphor that is this book, were never considered God's elect: The names written in the book of life, are not synonymous with the list of the names of the elect. God alone knows the elect; the book of life is a book Christ will have, metaphorically, before Him at Judgement, and exists as a rhetorical device for us, inasmuch as it is possible we fall in and out of favor with God by good and bad will.

  • This an outstanding response! I’m going to upvote and mark it as answer. I only ask a few minor edits, the response feels hurried, please give it a once-over. Your final statement begins “God is not sure about the elect...” and is followed a sentence later by “God alone knows the elect” … I think I understand your point but prefer the seeming contradiction be re-worded, also in your final sentence you use “out” I think you mean “we”. You can provide these edits or I will edit if you prefer. Overall comprehensive and excellent - thank you!
    – Neville
    Jul 11, 2019 at 2:58
  • Where does it say ANYWHERE that God writes anyone’s name IN? It only says the name can be blotted out or that it was written before Creation. Please provide at least ONE verse that speaks of God writing names in after Creation. Thank you Mar 21, 2020 at 3:12

The problem here is with the unbiblical assertion that a person's name cannot be blotted out of the book of life. No such Scripture exists. In fact, the Bible does assert two facts documented below: (1) that God wants to save ALL people, and (2) If a person is saved, they can still be lost.

(1) God wants to save all people

  • John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
  • John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave …”
  • John 12:32, “I [Jesus] … will draw all people to myself.”
  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • Rom 3:23, 24, “… for all have sinned … and all are freely forgiven...”
  • Rom 5:8, 10, “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … if, while were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of His Son, …”
  • Rom 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s [Adam’s] offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to the many.” [Note the same word, “many” applies to all people.]
  • Rom 5:18, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all people, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all people, resulting in justification of life.”
  • Rom 11:32, “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
  • 2 Cor 5:14, “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
  • 2 Cor 5:18, 19, “…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ …”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • 1 John 2:2, “He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours [Christians to whom John writes] only but also for the whole world.”
  • Isa 53:6, “We all like sheep have gone astray … and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

(2) Unfortunately, this does NOT mean that all will be saved because many will and do reject God's salvation. Here are some examples of just that:

  • The “wilderness generation” of Israelites that God called out of Egypt perished in the desert because, despite being called, turned their backs on God and refused to trust in God by believing the majority spy report.
  • At the end of the wilderness wandering, Joshua begged the people to choose to serve God, Josh 24:15, 22. See also Deut 30:19, Judg 5:8, Job 34:4, 33, 21, Ps 119:173, Prov 1:29, 3:31, Isa 7:15, 16, 56:4, 65:12, 66:3, Jer 8:3.
  • King Saul who was a statesman and prophet called by God (1 Sam 10:11, 12, 19:24), yet was ultimately lost when he consulted demons for advice and then committed suicide.
  • Ps 69:28 contains a plea for David’s enemies to be blotted out of the book of life!
  • Eze 18:21-28 also teaches that the wicked can reform and be saved, and the righteous can apostatise and be lost. Both situations are incompatible with Calvinism’s view of salvation and humanity.
  • Rom 11:17-21 discusses the warning that people who had been grafted into the “olive tree” of the Christian community could be broken off if they were unfaithful.
  • 1 Cor 9:27 Paul says he disciplines his body to keep it under control so that after preaching to others he does not become a castaway/disqualified. That is, Paul believed that it was possible that he could lose his way and become lost.
  • 1 Tim 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
  • Similarly, Heb 6:4-6 also teaches that some “who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit…” can fall away.
  • Heb 10:19-35 contains an extended passage on enduring. It contains some real gems about the possibility of losing one’s faith and confidence such as:
  • o V26: If we(!) deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left
  • o V29: How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them and who has insulted the Spirit of grace. This verse clearly shows that it is possible to be sanctified and subsequently lost.
  • o V35: Therefore, do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward.
  • o V36: You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised.
  • Heb 13:9, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace …”
  • 2 Peter 1:10, “make your calling and election sure”. This clearly allows for the possibility of losing one’s election.
  • 2 Peter 2:21, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
  • 2 Peter 3:17 contains a very stern and sobering warning to be on guard that we do not fall from our secure position. Verse 14 contains a similar warning.
  • 1 Cor 10:12 also contains a stern warning from Paul, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
  • Gal 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
  • Jesus’ parable of the sower, or perhaps the parable of the soils (Matt 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15) contains several classes of people (soils) who start out well in the Christian life but lose their way. The conclusion is also significant: “by their constancy bear fruit”. (Luke 8:15)
  • Jesus’ parable of the banquet (Luke 14:16-24) contains a very good example of people rejecting the call (or “election”) of God as well as God having to ask some people more than once and begging them to the wedding banquet. Jesus’ conclusion is, again, significant, “not one of those men who have been invited shall taste of my banquet.”
  • Acts 7:51 - where Stephen accuses the Jews of resisting the Holy Spirit!
  • 1 Thess 5:19 - Paul tells us not to quench the Holy Spirit
  • Eph 4:30 - do not to grieve the Holy Spirit
  • Note Jesus’ exasperation with the Jews for rejecting salvation in Matt 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. … how often I longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you were unwilling.”

Note that in Rev 3:5, the promise not to erase their names from the book of life is given to the overcomers. The promise is not given to the unfaithful.

  • 1
    Thank you for your explanation. I'd like also to get a reformed perspective.
    – Neville
    Jul 5, 2019 at 2:21
  • You will need to define which reformed tradition - 5-point Calvinist, 4-point Calvinist or 3-point Calvinist, semi-Calvinist, etc. All start from a set of different assumptions.
    – user25930
    Jul 5, 2019 at 2:58
  • If you want a reformed view point ask in the Christianity stack. This is a Biblical stack so you’re going to get what the Bible says not what extraBiblical philosophical interpretations bring to the text. Jul 5, 2019 at 3:36
  • @Autodidact is correct, this question is better suited for Christianity stack. Is there a way to get it ported-over or do I need to re-post it there? Thanks.
    – Neville
    Jul 5, 2019 at 13:37
  • It is possible to "Migrate" a question from one place to another in Stack Exchange although I have never done it personally.
    – user25930
    Jul 5, 2019 at 19:44

And if a name cannot be erased from the book of life, why does Jesus allude to the concept of erasure? ...instead of exclusion?

I think context is clear that everyone's names appear in the book of life but names can be blotted out if God deems it necessary.


I believe the context of the specific Revelation passage will help more than anything. The author is writing to 7 churches (believers) and he's encouraging them to live a life of good deeds, love, and faithfulness. Eternal rewards are listed and this has ZERO bearing on if they are saved or not saved. It can be a little confusing but given that context that deeds are mentioned, we know for sure he's not talking about Heaven or Hell. Being in the book of life in this context is more of a privilege for being found worthy and we should all know that no one is worth of heaven.

He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 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. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

  • Thank you for your response, this would be a plausible answer if instead of the “book of life”, the title was something like “book of extra-credit” or some other such name. I’ve seen similar explanations stating multiple “life books” but I find it difficult to imagine the kingdom of God requires such bureaucracy
    – Neville
    Jul 7, 2019 at 0:49
  • It can be a little confusing. If you do a word study on Eternal Life, you will see this as a gift in some contexts and an inheritance in others. This may be similar. "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly". All believers have life, but do all believers have the abundance of life? In the context of this passage he' s pushing believers to have abundance. Interpretation of the word 'dead' in v 1 most likely means not spiritual death but useless as in the book of James.
    – Lionsden
    Jul 15, 2019 at 14:59

This question touches on so many Biblical subjects, I can’t possibly go into depth and provide in depth answers on all of them. Otherwise each point would be as long as this answer on its own. So if you’re a Calvinist reading this, try not to get offended. Keep believing what you want. And there will be subject like demons and sons of God that are controversial, please check out other questions about these subjects I’m trying to answer only the question asked

If you will let the Bible speak for itself then you will get an answer. But if you come to the Bible with an already preconceived interpretation and try to make it fit, it’s going to get very difficult to understand the passages.

You say

having been predetermined

That is out of context but based on your comments that you want a reformed view, you are talking about Calvinism.

First predestination means to set a destination in advance. The destination set in advance commences according to Scripture at the point of salvation and not before Creation.

This all happens, key words, IN HIM

“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:4

No human was predestined IN HIM, in Christ prior to Creation, only Christ was predestined prior to Creation. Upon entering Christ we too partake of everything due Him, if we remain IN HIM.

We were all IN ADAM

“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:49-50

And we were all predestined in Adam for life but Adam failed

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:22‬ ‭

Notice it’s a future tense with Christ. That’s what we are predestined once we get into Christ, imperishable bodies and life.

But fact is we are all in Adam

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:21‬ ‭

If we were not all in Adam then we would not all be subject to death, only Adam would have been. But since we are subject to death, it attests that we were in his loins.

Calvinism aside

No where in Scripture will you find names being added to the Book of Life after Creation

What you will find is that names are all added prior to Creation.

“and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭

In this passage we find earth dwellers who were never written in the book of life, ever. If you assume they are human you will have to then make something up about predetermined humans for hell or heaven.

These are those who came as a result of the sons of God (most will understand angels) in Genesis 6 taking human women as wives and the hybrid children having a nephesh (soul) that did not and could not have come from God. When these hybrid human/angels died their physical bodies disintegrated but they continued to roam the earth. They being spirits needed bodies to manifest. They are also known as demons. They are the earth dwellers and they will give their obedience to the beast.

Humans are all written in the book of life. It’s a registry of names.

It was always God’s intention that every human live. We were all written in that book. But we can opt out. That’s where the erasing comes into the picture.

Adam failed! As a result we were all condemned. But instead of erasing everyone out, God allowed every person on an individual level to chose to remain or be blotted out. That’s God’s grace and goodness. So in the first Adam we lost it all. In the second and final Adam we regain it all back and our names can stay in the book of life.

In Christ we have been predestined to glory, which is our glorified bodies. We haven’t got them yet but if we remain in him we will.


In order to remain in the book, you had to first have been in it.

It’s clear that the only time the Bible mentions names being written in, is before Creation

To stay in you must conquer by remaining IN HIM

But if you are outside of Him, He will erase you out of the book. And the only reason He erases anyone is because they reject Him. Because The first Adam failed.

The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭

  • This answer lacks a an accurate assessment of predestination and sovereignty
    – Neville
    Jul 7, 2019 at 0:45
  • No this answer is not confined to extra biblical philosophical teachings like Calvinism, Arminianism or Traditionalism. Jul 7, 2019 at 4:54
  • I just read your comment to Mac and it’s clear @Neville you’re a Calvinist who is seeking to impose your understanding of Romans 9 onto the Book of Life. You will not find anywhere names being added after Creation but you will find that names are erased. David says about his enemies Psa 69:28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous. Why were his enemies ever added in the first place by a sovereign Calvinist God? Didn’t He know He will remove them? It’s non sense. Jul 7, 2019 at 6:01
  • I apologize my intent is not to attack. The purpose of comments is to suggest improvements to answers, not to throw stones at any theological paradigm. I will upvote answers containing holistic explanations, I suggest there should be included some treatment of sovereignty, even if the final conclusion is simply to see conflicting contexts as a “mystery of the text”. ...in love,
    – Neville
    Jul 7, 2019 at 15:39
  • In the case of David, his plea is raw emotion, just as when he states in Psalm 39:13 Turn your angry gaze away from me, so I can be happy before I pass away. he is expressing emotion not a theological truth, as we recognize God does not abandon him.
    – Neville
    Jul 7, 2019 at 15:40

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