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Bible Commentaries

Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Revelation 13

Verse 8


Revelation 13:8. Whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

THE persons here spoken of are the saints, who have withstood, and are still withstanding, the corruptions of Popery, even unto martyrdom itself. There can be no doubt but that the Papal power is that which is here portrayed as exercising the most relentless tyranny over the Christian world, during the space of twelve hundred and sixty years. The multitudes that have been slain by that blaspheming and persecuting power are innumerable. For hundreds of years, that idolatrous Church, aided by the secular arm of its advocates and dependants, compelled all to “worship her;” those only excepted, “whose names had been written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world.” Over these she could not prevail, because “they loved not their lives unto the death:” but over all others she exercised the most despotic sway; and reduced them to a state of vassalage, more cruel and debasing than could ever have been contemplated, or even credited, if the voice of inspiration had not declared it, and the history of ages borne witness to it.
It is not however of Popery that I am about to speak, nor of those who are delivered from it; but rather of that electing and redeeming love by which they have been delivered, “their names having been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Let us consider these remarkable expressions: and let us mark,


The designation here given to our blessed Lord—

He is called “a Lamb,” because he was destined to be a sacrifice for sin, like the lambs that were offered under the Mosaic law. And though he did not come into the world till the world had existed four thousand years, yet is he said to have been “slain from the foundation of the world.” And justly may he be spoken of under these terms: because, though not slain, in fact, till about thirty-four years after his incarnation, he was offered in sacrifice to God from the very beginning,


In purpose—

[From all eternity was he devoted to God; and set apart for an offering, just as the Paschal Lamb was four days before it was actually slain. In all the prophecies, this was clearly shewn. The very first promise that was given to man declared, that, in his conflicts with the powers of darkness, he himself should suffer, having “his heel bruised, whilst he bruised the serpent’s head;” and “dying himself, whilst he overcame him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” In the Psalms of David, all the circumstances of his death were predicted with a minuteness that bore the resemblance of historic record, rather than of a prophecy of what was afterwards to be accomplished. The Prophet Isaiah also, eight hundred years before the Saviour’s advent, was equally particular in his predictions respecting him; so that it is not possible to read his prophecies with candour, and retain a doubt of whom he spake, or whose sufferings he foretold. At last the forerunner of our Lord pointed him out, as the very person so characterized and so predicted; saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world!”

The types, also, bear the same testimony to Him from the beginning. There can be no doubt but that sacrifices were of divine appointment: for when Abel took of the firstlings of his flock to offer to the Lord, he did it “by faith.” “Now faith must, of necessity, have respect to a divine ordinance. If God had not previously ordained the offering of sacrifices, it would have been an act of presumption, and not of faith, in Abel so to approach the Deity. We are not, indeed, told when God instituted the use of sacrifices; but we conceive it to have been immediately after the fall, when he clothed our first parents with the skins of beasts, which, I think there can be no doubt, had been offered in sacrifice to him, by his own express appointment. In every successive age, the same sacrifices were offered by Noah and the Patriarchs, till the time of Moses, when they were made the constant means of shadowing forth the Saviour, and of making known unto men the only way in which a sinner could find acceptance with God. They all shadowed forth the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Sacrifice that was in due time to be offered for the sins of the whole world.]


In effect—

[As God had ordained from all eternity the sacrifice of his dear Son, so he regarded it as if it had been actually offered; and imputed the merit of it to all who approached him in humility and faith. Doubtless our first parents, and Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and the Patriarchs, and all the saints that were saved during the first four thousand years, were “accepted in the Beloved,”just as we are since his advent and crucifixion. “They all died in the faith” of Him who was to come, as we die in the faith of Him who is already come [Note: Hebrews 11:13.]. There has been but one way of salvation from the beginning. The Lord Jesus Christ ever was, and ever will be, “the way unto the Father; and no man ever did, or ever will, come unto the Father but by Him [Note: John 14:6.].” It is in consequence of the reflex efficacy of his sacrifice, so to speak, that God’s righteousness appears in the remission of sins before his advent, no less than in the forgiveness of them since his advent. “God having from the beginning set forth his Son to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, his righteousness in the remission of sins was, as St. Paul tells us, fully declared from the beginning, precisely as it is at this very hour [Note: Romans 3:25-26.].”]

Whilst we look thus to the death of Christ as the meritorious ground of our acceptance with God, we must trace altogether to the electing love of God,


The security of those who believe in him—

There is “a book,” in which the names of all God’s people are registered, and have been registered “from the foundation of the world [Note: The last clause of the text may, with equal propriety, be connected with “The Book Written,” or “The Lamb Slain.”].” This book is called “The Lamb’s book of life [Note: Revelation 21:27.]”—

[“There is, and ever has been, a remnant according to the election of grace [Note: Romans 11:5.].” These were given by the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ [Note: This is again, and again, and again mentioned in Christ’s intercessory prayer: John 17:0.], that they might be a peculiar people to him, and that in them “he might see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.” They were “chosen by the Father,” and “predestinated” unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, that they might be to the praise of the glory of his grace, who has made them accepted in the Beloved [Note: Ephesians 1:4-6.].” In due time “they are called by God with an holy calling; but still, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began [Note: 2 Timothy 1:9.].”]

All who are inscribed in this book shall surely attain eternal life—
[This is clearly intimated in my text, as the source of steadfastness to those who had not worshipped the beast: but in many other places it is directly affirmed; yea, and the veracity of God is pledged for the performance of the promise which such an inscription implies. Remarkable is that expression of St. Paul to Titus, when, speaking of himself, he says, “In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began [Note: Titus 1:2.].” Here he not only traces up the promise of life altogether to the sovereign grace of God, but represents the veracity of God as pledged for the accomplishment of it. In another place he sets forth the promise of God as “confirmed by an oath, in order to shew to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, and to give the stronger consolation to those who have fled for refuge to the hope set before them [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18.]. In fact, there is a golden chain of Divine purposes, reaching from eternity to eternity: “for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son: and whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified [Note: Romans 8:29-30.].” In fact, God upholds all his people in his arms, and “suffers none to pluck them out of his hands [Note: John 10:28-29.],” and “keeps them, by his own power, through faith unto salvation [Note: 1 Peter 1:5.].” “The same hand that has laid the foundation of grace in their souls, will also finish the structure [Note: Zechariah 4:9.];” and “He who has been the author of good to them, will also be the finisher [Note: Hebrews 12:2.].”]

Learn then, from hence,

How greatly we are indebted to our God—
[If we are saints indeed, “our names are written in the book of life [Note: Philippians 4:3.],” and have been “written in it from the foundation of the world [Note: Revelation 17:8.].” What ground, then, is there to any one for self-applause? We acknowledge that there is a difference between you and others; and you are not serving the world, and the flesh, and the devil, as millions of your fellow-creatures are. But who made you to differ? What had you done, to deserve the distinction of having your names written in the book of life? The change that has taken place in you was not the source, but the fruit and consequence of that mercy which God, of his own sovereign grace, conferred upon you. Rejoice, then, in that inestimable benefit, and in that God who so freely bestowed it on you. There is nothing under heaven that calls for so much gratitude at your hands [Note: Luke 10:20.]: and therefore I call upon you to bless and magnify your God with your whole hearts.]


What reason we all have for humiliation and contrition—

[I will not speak of any gross sin as committed by us: I will notice only our ingratitude to God for his electing and redeeming love. Think of the Saviour setting himself apart from all eternity to be slain for you. Think of God the Father setting his love upon you from all eternity, and writing your unworthy name in the book of life. And then think what provocation you have given him “to blot it out again [Note: Revelation 3:5.]:” and yet he has borne with you to the present moment, in order that you might not come short of the glory reserved for you. Say, whether, in the review of these things, you ought not to stand amazed; yea, and to blush and be confounded in the presence of your God? Verily, it is not possible for us ever to lie too low before our God: and to all eternity must we fall on our faces before the throne, whilst, with all the glorified saints and angels, we unite in singing praises to God and to the Lamb.]

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Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 13". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.