1. Revelation 21:8 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What is meant with the word “cowardly”?

Revelation 21:8 (ESV)

8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

The word John uses here appears also in Jesus’ response to the disciples during the storm at sea. When they woke him with the cry, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing,” he responded, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). In the context of Revelation 21:1–27, we can respond to the storms of life (Revelation 12:17; Revelation 13:7, Revelation 13:16) with the same fear or cowardice the disciples displayed, and such cowardice might be understandable from our perspective. But given what God has done in Jesus Christ and is now doing in renewing his world, such faintheartedness is never justified. Cowardice among John’s readers over the centuries leads to failure to inherit the Promised Land (Numbers 14:1–25, Numbers 14:39–45).