If these people aren't inside the gates, shouldn't they be in hell instead of residing on the new earth?
ESV - 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
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This is a good question. There is something to consider about Revelation 22:15 that gives a new perspective. This verse indicates some will not enter through the gates into the city. At first glance it seems to repeat or reinforce Revelation 21:8, 21:27, but the context is different. There is a change in the setting. In Revelation 22:7-10, the Lord announces to believers His coming and assures blessings to those keeping the words of the prophecy of the book. In verses 8 and 9, John is directed to worship God by an angel who states he is a fellow servant among those keeping the words of this book. Then, the enigmatic statement of verse 10 is given. Because “the time is at hand,” it is too late for His people to change. The unjust might just as well stay unjust, etc. Continuing on this theme, Jesus then reminds He is coming with rewards according to the works believers have done, Revelation 22:12-14. Some versions have “do His commandments” instead of “wash their robes.” The obedient righteous ones will have access to the tree of life and permission to enter the gates into the city. Then the mysterious verse Revelation 22:15 appears. The context is still about believers. There is not a mention of unbelievers in this verse. If these were unbelievers, it is puzzling since it is already a given that they would not have the right to the tree of life or enter the city. They are not in the Lamb’s Book of Life but will be cast into the lake of fire and suffer the second death. So why mention it here? Why the restriction to unbelievers from entering the gate when it is not ever possible? Certainly, the verse is not misplaced. Obviously, it cannot mean that there will be sinners in the new creation. So, who are these people? Following the context, they are believers who are outside, restricted from entering the gates of the city as those defiled. Nothing in the word 'outside' suggests the Lake of Fire. By the way, the city is not heaven, but the holy city that God dwells in. These then are those who are saved but they had lived their lives indulging in a most carnal way. Instead of being victorious overcomers, they had been overtaken by sin, which is unfortunately possible for any believer. They lost the privilege to enter the gates of the holy city. This has nothing to do with salvation, but with rewards. I Corinthians 6:10-11, addressed to believers, warns to not live carnally if they want to inherit the kingdom. Notice it does not say ‘enter the kingdom,’ but ‘inherit the kingdom.’ Every believer is ‘in’ the kingdom but not every believer ‘inherits’ the kingdom. Those rescued from sin should not return to wallow in it. The believer has to watch that the flesh does not take over one’s life, Galatians 5:19-21, to not lose rewards. The passage is a cautionary one for believers.
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