Episode 251: FTC Mailbag

On this latest Mailbag installment of the For the Church Podcast, Jared Wilson and Ross Ferguson answer your submitted questions and topics. This episode features discussion of: pastoral priorities, church first impressions, thoughts on church “vision,” planting vs. revitalization, tailoring worship songs for generational attraction, how to know if you’re called to ministry, and what “threat” Christian nationalism might pose to the church.

The Pornography Pandemic

Pornography is not often talked about in the church, but pornography is often on the minds of many church members. Pornography is a growing pandemic, and it is only getting worse. It is reported that 93% of pastors see it as a much bigger problem than it was in the past.[1] As the Church, we need to ask ourselves, “What are we going to do about it?” It isn’t an “out there” issue, it is an “in here” problem that needs to be confronted with truth and grace for both the addict and the fallout victims it leaves in its wake.

Roughly 200,000 Americans meet the classification of a pornography addict, which equates to roughly 40 million people visiting pornographic sites regularly.[2] With statistics like that, it is easy to see this as a cultural issue. But before we merely label it as a cultural problem, we need to acknowledge that this is also a problem that exists in the Church. It touches our church members. It even touches the leaders of our churches. Barna reports that 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors currently struggle with pornography—and those are just the ones admitting to it.[3] As a side note, it isn’t just a male problem, either. One in three pornography users are women.[4] Pornography doesn’t discriminate.

Pornography is unrelenting in its pursuit. Not only does it come for the addict, but the repercussions of this addiction also leave victims in its wake. As a pastor’s wife, I have had more than my fair share of conversations about pornography. My conversations have less to do with the addiction and more to do with the fallout on the other side of the addiction—the spouse of the addict. The spouse feels betrayed and broken by an addiction that isn’t her own, yet she deeply feels the repercussions of it.

Sexual desire and the act of sex was created by God for His glory and without shame within the marriage relationship. Pornography, in contrast, lives in the shadows surrounded by shame, guilt, doubt, and powerlessness. It feeds off anonymity provided by the internet and easy access, with the push of a button. It rewires the brain and short-circuits normal hormonal responses. With repeated exposure, the brain shrinks.[5] There is no drug to push, smoke, drink, or snort, but rather pornography exploits the normal natural functions of the body. The “Father of Lies” entices us to use what God calls good in a way that it was never intended to be used (John 8:44). The truth is that pornography is a lie, and it uses your own body against you.

Pornography is pervasive and as the Church, we must address it, discuss it, and speak truth to the addict and victims. How do we do this? No one article can answer this question, but I seek to suggest a starting point. There are three truths that must be a part of the conversation about pornography.

1. God is bigger than pornography.

If you are an addict, it is difficult to believe that God is bigger than this addiction. It surely doesn’t feel that way if you are a wife, who for the second or third time has caught her husband using pornography. The Bible tells us that we have truth on our side. In Christ, we have overcome this world. Because of our faith in Him, He gives us victory and the desire to do His commandments (1 John 5:1–5). We are more than conquerors, and nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37–39). God has also given us His perfect Holy Spirit who promises to help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26). This Spirit of Truth will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us completely (1 John 1:9). There is nothing in this world that God can’t overcome. God is bigger than pornography.

2. Pornography is a sinful addiction—treat it like one.

When it comes to pornography, we use words like “issue” or “problem” rather than calling pornography a sin, a highly addictive sin. In February 2023, Covenant Eyes wrote an article on how pornography impacts the brain. The author stated, “The cravings experienced by someone hooked on porn can be like the cravings of a drug addict. The chemical pathways of the brain designed for sexual pleasure are rewired to seek out porn instead of real sex.”[6] Pornography is a natural addiction, which means that although there is no drug to put into your body, the chemical responses of the brain change because of it. We have an enemy whose goal is to keep us addicted and in bondage. Acknowledging this enemy and his lies is the first step to freedom.

3. Community is necessary to overcome this addiction.

The community plays two roles in this addiction-redemption process. The first role is for the addict. Pornography causes shame and regret and causes you to feel powerless. The addiction grows in isolation and multiples when left alone. Your brain may be tattooed with pornography but there is no visual sign that you are a pornography addict. Barna reported that 55% of pastors who struggle with this addiction live in “constant fear of being discovered.”[7] The fear of being found out pushes you deeper into the addiction cycle. Shedding light comes as you invite a safe community into your struggles. If the power that drives pornography is secrecy, then the power that removes it is exposure. The secrets that shackle you are blown up in the light of the Gospel and a community focused on the Gospel! We need discipleship and accountability to move forward.

The second role community plays is support. I have observed the power of the community to embrace those impacted by pornography. Those who are connected to addicts may also feel shame. They need the light of a safe community to understand, embrace, and bear their burdens. It is important to remember, those you invite into the trenches need to be believers. You need people who will point you to Christ. This may include a Christian counselor who is trained in trauma and addiction recovery. When you are hurt and broken, you need people who will speak the truth in love and keep redirecting you.

These three truths are a starting point. There is so much more to say about this addiction. One article won’t solve the problem, but it can at least start the conversation. Sexual sin is not new to Christendom. It has been a part of the story since the Fall. The question that we must ask today is, “How are we going to confront it?” As a Church, we must meet the addict where they are and call them out with a compassionate desire for their repentance and redemption. For the fallout victims, we must see them, recognize their hurt, love them well, and bear their burdens. No one is immune and the only vaccine to this pandemic is the truth of the Gospel.

[1] https://www.barna.com/the-porn-phenomenon/, 2016.

[2] https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/process-addiction/porn-addiction/pornography-statistics/#:~:text=How%20many%20people%20are%20addicted,the%20classification%20of%20porn%20addiction., 2022.

[3] https://www.barna.com/the-porn-phenomenon/, 2016.

[4] http://www.techaddiction.ca/files/porn-addiction-statistics.jpg

[5] https://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/02/03/brain-chemicals-and-porn-addiction/

[6] https://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/02/03/brain-chemicals-and-porn-addiction/

[7] https://www.barna.com/the-porn-phenomenon/

Episode 2: Above Reproach

The evangelical landscape is littered with the corpses of fallen ministries, and Jared and Ronnie have had more than a few friends among them. Listen in as they discuss what it means to be “above reproach” (as well as “respectable” and having a “good reputation with outsiders”), what it takes to pursue personal holiness, and what it is for pastors to be known and loved by Jesus (and others).

Episode 250: Grab Bag!

It turns out the Grab Bag concept was a hit! Y’all liked the first episode with this concept so much, we’re going to make it a regular feature on the program. In the Grab Bag episodes, Jared Wilson and Ross Ferguson each bring 2 surprise topics or questions for the other to answer.

Episode 1: Preface

What happens when you put two veteran pastors and friends in a room and ask them to have a candid conversation about ministry? In this all-new podcast series, The Heart of Pastoring, Jared C. Wilson and Ronnie Martin reflect on the biblical qualifications for pastors in gracious, thoughtful, and — very often — humorous ways. In this prefatory episode to the first season, our two hosts introduce themselves, tell a bit of their stories and their deep ministry experience, and lay the groundwork for where they’re going with the rest of the series.

The Story of God’s Glory in Christ

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” (Gal. 4:4), and now we are living at “the end of the ages” (1 Cor. 10:11; cf. Rom. 13:11). Jesus opened his ministry by “proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’ ” (Mark 1:15). Isaiah anticipated the good news of God’s end-times reign through his royal servant and anointed conqueror (Isa. 40:9–11; 52:7–10; 61:1–3), and Jesus saw his own ministry realizing it. His kingdom message continued after his resurrection (Acts 1:3) and was shaped by the testimony that to faithfully “understand the Scriptures” means that we will see the Old Testament forecasting the Messiah’s death and resurrection and his mission to save the nations: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45–47; cf. Acts 1:3, 8; 3:18, 24; 10:43).[1]

Paul, too, believed the Old Testament announced God’s kingdom in Christ and the church he would build (Acts 26:22–23; cf. 20:25; 28:23).

The apostle proclaimed “the gospel of God . . . concerning his Son,” and he recognized that God “promised [it] beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:1–3; cf. Gal. 3:8). The Old Testament first anticipated, foreshadowed, and foretold the good news that we now enjoy—that the reigning God would eternally save and satisfy sinners who believe through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (cf. John 1:45; 5:39, 46; 8:56; Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 1:10–11). The progress from creation to the fall to redemption to consummation is in a very real sense his-story, and it is this kingdom program that provides the framework for exalting Christ in the Old Testament.

Christ Is Central to God’s Creative and Salvation-Historical Purposes

Salvation history is the progressive unfolding of God’s redemptive purposes disclosed from Genesis to Revelation, all of which grow out of and culminate in God’s commitment to glorify himself in Christ. Scripture progresses through five distinct but overlapping covenants and through various peoples, events, and institutions, all of which culminate in Jesus’s person and work. Indeed, all God’s purposes in space and time begin and end with Christ. We thus read,

By [the Son] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. . . . All things were created through and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Col. 1:16–18)

Furthermore, we learn that “the mystery of [God’s] will” is “according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:9–10). God’s creative and salvation-historical purposes climax in Christ.

The Old Testament’s laws, history, prophecy, and wisdom point to Jesus (Matt. 5:17–18; Mark 1:15; Acts 3:18; 1 Cor. 1:23–24), and the entire storyline pivots on him. He thus declared, “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached” (Luke 16:16). Paul, too, noted, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). “The law was our guardian until Christ came. . . . But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (Gal. 3:24–26; cf. Heb. 8:6, 13). “All the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20).

By disclosing Christ as the Old Testament’s goal, the Father also illuminates his intent for the earlier parts. And in turn, those earlier parts then clarify the meaning of Jesus’s person and work. In Christ, all the problems the Old Testament raises find their solution (Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20), and all that the Old Testament anticipates is fully and finally realized. In Christ, shadow gives rise to substance (Col. 2:16–17), types move to antitype (e.g., Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 10:6, 11), and what God promised he now fulfills (Luke 24:44; 2 Cor. 1:20). In Christ, light triumphs over darkness (Matt. 4:15–16; 2 Cor. 4:6). The new creation, new age, and new covenant overcome the old creation, old age, and old covenant.

The flow of God’s saving purposes in history demands that Christian Old Testament interpretation starts and ends with Christ. He is the hub around which all else turns and the measure upon which all else is weighed. As the means and focus of God’s self-revelation through his Scriptures, the divine Son must operate as the heart of all exegesis and theology. Because Jesus stands at the beginning and end of all God’s creative and redemptive purposes, we must interpret the Old Testament through Christ and for Christ.

Content taken from Delighting in the Old Testament by Jason S. DeRouchie, ©2024. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, crossway.org.

[1] On the central role of these verses for the theology of Luke-Acts, see Brian J. Tabb, After Emmaus: How the Church Fulfills the Mission of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021).

Episode 249: Leading with Brokenness

On this episode of the FTC Podcast, Jared Wilson and Ross Ferguson discuss the ins and outs of ministry brokenness. AW Tozer once said, “Before God blesses a man greatly, he must hurt him deeply.” Is that true? How does such thinking play out in terms of leading with transparency, honesty, and confession? What does it look like for ministers to lead with, from, and even *to* brokenness?

Conclusion: Tips for Delighting in the Old Testament

“Sweeter … Than Honey” (Ps 19:10)

This blog series has invited you to a feast of rich food and a treasure of incomparable value. The OT was Jesus’s only Bible, and in it you can discover a perfect law that revives the soul, right precepts that rejoice the heart, and true rules that are altogether righteous (Ps 19:7–9). “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and dripping of the honeycomb” (19:10).

Through his Son’s life, death, and resurrection, the reigning God saves and satisfies sinners who believe and enables them to celebrate his Son’s greatness through all of Scripture. And “beholding the glory of the Lord,” we are “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18). As a conclusion to this study, here are seven tips to those aspiring, as God intended, to delight in the OT through Christ and for Christ.

1. Remember That the Old Testament Is Christian Scripture

What we call the OT was the only Scripture Jesus had, and the apostles stressed that the prophets wrote God’s Word to instruct Christians. Paul says, for example, that God’s guidance of Israel through the wilderness was “written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor 10:11; cf. Rom 15:4). Similarly, Peter emphasized that “it was revealed to them [i.e., the OT prophets] that they were serving not themselves but you”—the church (1 Pet 1:12).

When Moses and the prophets wrote, they were writing for Christians (Deut 30:8; Isa 29:18; 30:8; Jer 30:1–2, 24; 31:33; Dan 12:5–10). In short, the OT is Christian Scripture that God wrote to instruct us. As Paul tells Timothy, these “sacred writings … are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” and it is this “Scripture” that is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Old in OT does not mean unimportant, and we should approach the text accordingly.

2. Interpret the Old Testament with the Same Care
You Would the New Testament

To give the same care to the OT as to the NT means that we treat it as the very Word of God (Mark 7:13; 12:36), which Jesus considered authoritative (Matt 4:3–4, 7, 10; 23:1–3), believed could not be broken (John 10:35), and called people to know so as to guard against doctrinal error and hell (Mark 12:24; Luke 16:28–31; 24:25; John 5:46–47). Methodologically, caring for the OT means that we establish the text, make careful observations, consider the context, determine the meaning, and make relevant applications. We consider genre, literary boundaries, grammar, translation, structure, argument flow, key words and concepts, historical and literary contexts, and biblical, systematic, and practical theology. We study each passage within its given book, within salvation history, and in relationship to Christ.

So many Christians will give years to understanding Mark and Romans and only weeks to Genesis, Psalms, and Isaiah, while rarely even touching the other books. When others take account of your life and ministry, may such realities not be said of you. We must consider how Scripture points to Christ (Luke 24:25–26, 45–47) and faithfully proclaim “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), ever doing so as those rightly handling “the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).

3. Treat Properly the Covenantal Nature of the Old Testament

The two parts of the Bible are called the Old and New Testaments because they each principally address the old and new covenants, respectively. We call Jesus’s Bible a testament because of its covenantal quality (testamentum is Latin for “covenant”). The OT addresses how God establishes and enforces his Mosaic covenant. And unlike the NT, which addresses a multinational church and was written in the common language of Greek, the OT was written to Hebrews in Hebrew.

The OT bears a historical particularity that requires us to observe, understand, and evaluate carefully before application. To engage the OT as a testament requires that we recognize the distinct covenantal elements in the text and then consider how Christ’s coming influences our understanding of every passage.

4. Remember Why the Old Testament Is Called Old

Building on the previous point, the OT details a covenant of which Christians are not a part and that has been superseded by the new. This fact requires that Christians carefully consider how Christ fulfills every OT story, promise, and law before establishing its relevance. While Moses’s instructions still have value for Christians, they do so only through Christ (Deut 30:8; Matt 5:17–19). Similarly, while every promise is yes for Christians, it is so only in Jesus (2 Cor 1:20).

As Christians, we must interpret the OT in light of Jesus’s coming. His person and work realize what the OT anticipates (Matt 5:17–18; Luke 24:44; Acts 3:18), he stands as the substance of all OT shadows (Col 2:16–17), and he embodies every ethical ideal found in both the law and wisdom (Rom 5:18–19). We need to recognize that one of the OT’s fundamental purposes is to help us celebrate Christ and all God would accomplish through him.

5. Read the Old Testament through the Light and Lens of Christ

Jesus supplies both the light and lens for reading the OT rightly. “Light” indicates that interpreting the OT properly is possible only for those who have seen “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor 3:4). “Lens” stresses that Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection disclose truths in the OT that were always there but not yet clear (Rom 16:25–26; 1 Cor 3:14). Christians must recognize that there are significant continuities between the Testaments, such that many righteous people saw Christ from a distance (Matt 13:17; Luke 10:24; John 8:56; 1 Pet 1:10–12). On the other hand, there are also significant discontinuities, in that the rebel population was not given a heart to understand (Deut 29:4; Isa 6:9–10), nor did God disclose the mystery of the kingdom until Christ came (Dan 12:8–10; Mark 4:11–12).

The NT provides both the answer key and the algorithm for reading the OT in its fullness. By elevating Christ’s person and work, the NT signals the substance of all previous shadows, realizes the hopes of all previous anticipations, and clarifies how the various OT patterns and trajectories find their resolve. Through Jesus, God enables and empowers us to read the OT as he intended. Jesus is both our light and lens.

6. Consider How Faithfully to See and Celebrate
Christ in the Old Testament

Christians must seek to analyze and synthesize how the whole Bible progresses, integrates, and climaxes in Christ. Following the lead of Scripture itself, we can see and celebrate Christ from the OT in numerous ways.

    1. Consider how Christ stands as the climax of the redemptive story.
    2. Identify how Christ fulfills messianic predictions.
    3. Recognize how Christ’s coming creates numerous similarities and contrasts between the old and new ages, creations, and covenants.
    4. Determine how Christ is the antitype to OT types.
    5. Reflect on how Yahweh’s person and work anticipates Christ.
    6. Contemplate how Christ embodies every ethical ideal from OT law and wisdom.
    7. Instruct from the OT through Christ’s mediation—both through the pardon he supplies, which secures both promises and power, and the pattern of godliness that he sets.

7. Assess How the New Testament Authors
Are Using the Old Testament

The early church devoted itself to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42), and the whole church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the cornerstone (Eph 2:20). Yet what Bible were the apostles using? They were using the OT, and they were making much of Christ from it. The NT is loaded with quotations of and allusions to the OT, and we should note the significance of these citations.

When Paul asserted to the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2), he did so as an OT preacher. And when he claimed that “all Scripture … is profitable” (2 Tim 3:16), the “Scripture” he principally had in mind was the OT. You will help yourself and your people to cherish the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and to appreciate the whole Bible when you take the time to wrestle with the NT’s citations of the Old.


The OT is Christian Scripture, and we can enjoy it best when we approach it through Christ and for Christ. The OT magnifies Jesus in numerous ways, and his person and work clarify how to rightly discern the continuities and discontinuities of salvation history. Through the light and lens that Christ supplies, Christians can enjoy in the same God and the same good news in both Testaments. We can also embrace all God’s promises and rightly apply Moses’s law as revelation, prophecy, and wisdom. Start delighting in the OT through Christ and for Christ!

¹For each of these steps, see Jason S. DeRouchie, How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2017).

This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

Episode 248: Thinking the Best of Each Other

On this episode of the FTC Podcast, Jared Wilson and Ross Ferguson talk about a “hermeneutic of suspicion” in our relationships and the impact of viewing others this way upon our lives and local churches. Why should we “believe all things” about others? And how can we do that?

Live Your Identity! The One Whose Name is Written in the Book of Life

In Rev 21:27 John describes the role God gives to his people by writing their names in his heavenly book. This is a received role. Nevertheless, this role grounds and compels activity as one embraces God’s initiative and call to identify with him and the Lamb. This received role includes all the benefits of kingdom life portrayed in Revelation, including forgiveness of sin, divine enablement, and providential care. And it demands that the one written by God in the Lamb’s book of life lives truthfully and purely in God’s presence. John’s inscription imagery at the conclusion of Revelation 21 must be considered in light of his broader matrix of inscription ideas that precede, especially those places where humans or personified individuals are in view.

Writing Names and Titles

Inscriptions figure prominently in Revelation. In Rev 2:17b, Jesus promises the church in Pergamum that he will give those who conquer a white stone with an inscription known only to the one who receives it. Jesus promises the conquerors in Philadelphia (Rev 3:12b) that he will make them pillars of God and write on them God’s name, the name of the new Jerusalem, and his new name.

John uses references to inscriptions as a cohesive feature binding units of thought in the narrative flow of Revelation 13–14 and 17–19. First, in John’s portrait of the evil triumvirate in Revelation 13, John notes that humanity worships the beast from the sea. Everyone, that is, whose name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8b). Those who worship the beast take his mark on their forehead or right hand (Rev 13:16). John counters that group with his vision of the 144,000, whom God sealed as his own in Revelation 7, standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. John notes that God’s sealed ones have the name of the Lamb and the Father’s name written on their foreheads (Rev 14:1). John’s use of inscription imagery coheres Revelation 13–14 as a composite section of the book.

Second, references to inscriptions hold Revelation 17–19 together. Here, John describes the fall of Babylon and the victory of Jesus over the beast and his false prophet. In John’s vision, Babylon is personified as a woman, a harlot filled with blasphemous names (Rev 17:3). And on her forehead, John notes in Rev 17:5, is written an epithet describing her as the mother of prostitutes and evil on earth. In Rev 13:8, John states that all those whose names are not written in the book of life worship the beast and his image. In Rev 17:8b, he notes that that group is yet astounded by the beast who rises in power at the time of Babylon’s destruction. Inscription imagery in Revelation 17 validates and verifies the evil status of Babylon, the beast, and those who associate with them. But, inscriptions are neutral and can be employed to validate and verify God and his people. Thus, when Jesus returns as the rider on the white horse in Revelation 19, readers should almost expect some reference to inscriptions. John does not disappoint, concluding his portrayal of Jesus by stating in Rev 19:16 that the epithet King of Kings and Lord of Lords is written on Jesus’s robe and thigh.

Writing People

When John uses inscription imagery in Revelation with respect to the content of writing, he usually refers to a message, name, or title/epithet. In the final two chapters of Revelation, John breaks that pattern. He is no longer concerned with the inscription of names that might designate people but directly with people. In the New Jerusalem, just as in the lake of fire, people and not names dwell. 

At the great white throne judgment, John does not state that the names of those not written in the book of life go to everlasting punishment. Rather, the person not written is assigned to eternal punishment (Rev 20:15). John uses the indefinite relative pronoun ‘anyone,’ where we expect him to use a form of the noun ‘name.’ Though a name might be implied, taking into account previous references in Rev 13:8 and 17:8, the absence of a name and the presence of ‘anyone’ emphasizes that in the end, God will judge persons.

In the final paragraph of John’s description of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:22–27), John first describes God’s presence there and then notes the demographics and quality of people beholding God there. In Rev 21:22–23, John notes that God and the Lamb are central in the New Jerusalem, replacing the sanctuary and the sun. God created the sun to mark times and seasons (Gen 1:14–19; Ps 136:1–9; et al.) and the sanctuary of the temple as the place where his gathered people might experience his presence—a tradition originating in the completion of the tabernacle (Exodus 40) and the temple (1 Kings 8–9). God’s personal presence among his people in the New Jerusalem, the eternal city (Rev 21:1–4, 25), removes the need for these structures that order the older age. 

In Rev 21:24–27, John describes those who will dwell in the New City with God. In view of the literary context, this is an ironic audience. John fuses inscription language in the Lamb’s book of life with nations and kings of the earth. Since Revelation 7, John has set forth what might be called the missionary theme of Revelation, as the nations are among God’s people praising him. But kings of the earth, portrayed most recently in the fall of Babylon, are notorious for rebelling against God—not bringing their glory into God’s presence. But in the flow of Rev 21:25–27, John notes that the nations and even the kings of the earth are among those written in the Lamb’s book of life. This is an exclusive group—opposite the wicked and defiled that have been cast into the lake of fire (Rev 21:8, 27); the group written in the Lamb’s book will now enjoy God forever.

¹ This is the seventh  entry in a series of FTC blog posts noting how John uses a particular grammatical form, the articular substantival participle, for specific words in Revelation that resemble a playwright’s roles in a script.

² γράφω in Rev 21:27.

³ Buist Fanning comments, “He (John) had spoken in the previous verses primarily of groups of people (‘the dead’ in vv. 12a, 12f, 13a, 13b), but here (as in v. 13c ‘each one’) he speaks of ‘anyone [τις] … not found written in the book of life’ (v. 15a). The fate of such an individual is to be ‘thrown’ (ἐβλήθη) into the fiery lake of condemnation just as the infernal trinity along with Death and Hades were ‘thrown’ into it previously (19:20; 20:10, 14)” (Revelation, ZECNT [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2020], 520).

i.e., ὄνομα.

G.K. Beale writes, “They were written in the book of the Lamb before the creation, which means that they were identified at that time as ones who would benefit from the Lamb’s redemptive death. Therefore, they have been given the protection of eternal life, which comes as a result of the Lamb’s death. This prehistorical identification with the Lamb has protected them from the deceptions of the world, which threaten to suppress their trust in the Lamb, and has enabled them to be ready to enter the gates of the city to enjoy the life for which they have been destined” (The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999], 1102).