Revelation: How will evil and sin be present outside the New Jerusalem if all they are condemned?


Now, I’m aware that Revelation is a prophetic apocalyptic book, and by its very nature is bound to contain symbolism, imagery, and to employ other literary devices. All quotes from Scripture will be using a Holy See-approved Bible (here).

In Revelation 21:8, the one who sits on the throne, God Himself (cf. Rev. 4:1-11) says:

But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death… (21:8)

So this is pretty obvious: all of the listed groups will burn in the second death. (See also: 20:10; 20:14-15) Then the New Jerusalem is introduced in detailed (the full thing is 21:10-27):

He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. (21:10-11)

However, Revelation 22:15 (and 21:27) imply that there is still sin (outside of the lake of fire, the second death) and that there are still those who sin:

Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the unchaste, the murderers, the idol-worshipers, and all who love and practice deceit. (22:15)

So, even after the unjust dead were resurrected, there is apparently still impurity, or the potential for impurity and sin. But isn’t all of the impurity in the second death, the lake of fire?


Good question. Waiting to see the responses.



After Revelations 22:8, John is no longer describing the vision. He is giving the epilogue/benediction. He is speaking about the living, in this world.

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”


Doesnt he also go on to say all the seas will be gone when the new city descends?

I have a feeling what really happens when this time comes, may not look like anything described in the bible.


:shrug: … That sounds very un-Catholic of you.


Given that there’s going to be a large river flowing out of the New Jerusalem and it’s lined with trees, it has to flow somewhere. Also, the Temple included the “bronze sea” as part of its model of the cosmos, and Heaven includes the “glassy sea.” Therefore, one concludes that the new earth will probably have seas. (And as Kipling points out, it wouldn’t be fair if there were never any seas anymore.)

OTOH, the Bible’s symbolic meaning of the ocean – which is chaos and danger – will no longer apply. It will be an unfallen, newly created sea.

Moving along… “outside” is a typical Biblical way of talking about the eternal doom of unrepentant sinners. Jesus says that they will be in the “outer darkness” (or “darkness outside,” depending on your translation) wailing and gnashing their teeth. He also talks about how the foolish virgins are shut “outside” the bridegroom’s house and the wedding feast.

The “outer darkness”, “outside,” “lake of fire,” “Gehenna,” and “lake of sulfur” are all Biblical expressions for the same eternal punishment. If something’s so bad that Jesus and His Apostles can use multiple ways of talking about it, you should probably take warning.

So no, there’s no contradiction. Anyplace “outside” the new Heaven and the new earth and the New Jerusalem is Hell. Since the New Jerusalem is symbolically written up as containing the entire cosmos, it’s not surprising that “outside” the new cosmos is someplace you don’t want to be.

It’s Hell. Don’t go there.


In Rev. 22:15 I think those “outside” are already in the Lake of Fire.


In this verse, the angel is referring to the living, who have not yet been judged but have not entered into the grace of Jesus. These are living “outside” and will be separated by the Lamb. Their time is coming, for Jesus says just before this:

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”


But the “Heavens and the earth” refers to the entire universe (as in Genesis 1:1). Doesn’t that mean that they will also be part of the new cosmos or new universe, just in the lake of fire? Our current universe isn’t meant to last, anyhow – it’s physically unstable.

Probably some good advice… :thumbsup:


Isnt there a verse that talks about the time after the ‘new Jerusalem’ is established, those who go on living ‘outside’ the city (wherever this actually may be), are still required to come to the new city once a year for some specific celebration or honoring, Seems like I recall it said if they chose not to come, they would not get any rainfall the entire year. I cant think of where this verse is, I want to say Isaiah, but not sure?


Bishop NT Wright, Church of England, has a scripture based discussion of these matters in a book he titled Surprised by Hope.

This was recommended by EWTN Radio Apologist Dr. David Anders on his program, Called to Communion, a few weeks ago.

The book is non-Catholic and anti-Catholic but the better parts deal with “heaven” the general resurrection and such. I just finished a once-through read. It is worth reading despite the protestant parts. Contains a good discussion of the importance and significance of Baptism, the Resurrection of Christ, etc. 1 Co 15 is, in his opinion, the best chapter describing the Resurrection.


I’ve read that whenever “the sea” is used symbolically in the Bible, it means “the Gentiles”.
The gentiles were, at that time, non-believers in God. So in other words, saying that there will be no seas, is saying that there will be no non-believers there.

As just an off-handed discussion—most people believe that the Anti-Christ will be a Gentile, because he is said to “Arise from the Sea”. Revelation 13:1 13:1 “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.”


The “new heavens and the new earth” would logically involve a recreation of the entire universe, seeing as all of Creation the first time included the rest of the universe too. Part of the point of the new Creation is that the original Creation, which was “groaning” because of the Fall, is eventually going to get it. We get resurrection bodies; rocks get made new.

“Heavens” and “heaven” (in Hebrew) include the sky as seen from Earth (including Earth’s atmosphere and outer space where the stars and the sun are, and any parts of space that can’t be seen from Earth too) as well as the immaterial “place” where God dwells.

Romans 8:19-23:

"For the expectation of Creation waits for the revelation of the children of God; for Creation was made subject to vainness – not willingly [ie, didn’t agree with Adam and Eve], but by reason of Him Who made it subject [ie, God, specifically Jesus the New Adam] – in hope.

"Because Creation itself also shall be freed from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

“For we know that all Creation groans and labors in childbirth pains even now. And not only it, but ourselves also… waiting for the adoption of the children of God, the redemption of our body.”


Yes, the whole point is to divide the world into heaven and hell. Someone standing right next to you could be in hell.



The wheat and the tares will grow together in the same field, until the time comes for harvest and the tares get burned. The tares are not already burning.

So although there is no way of knowing if someone standing next to you has given his allegiance to Hell or Heaven, that person is not already in Hell or already in bliss. Experiencing foretastes of it, maybe, if they are very wicked or very good, but no more than that.

But the really important thing is that, as long as one is not dead yet, even somebody who has done his best to sell his soul to the Devil, and who has done every evil thing he can, is someone who can turn to the Lord and be saved. A tare can become wheat.

Nobody in Hell can be saved. That’s a big difference between here and there!


As an apocalyptic work, the visions within are not meant to be viewed as a playbill of events in order of their unfolding in history, as if Revelation were giving you a list of musical numbers in a play on a program, telling which songs will play next. Some of the events described run concurrent with realities that occur in history with others that are predestined for eternity, but it is not telling the readers that here in their hands is a schedule of future events in the exact order in which they must play out.

With that in mind, the text you mention is discussing the Kingdom of God and the realities involved with it today and for eternity. Those who stubbornly persist in sin cannot enter the Kingdom of God, either today or eternally. The text is not saying that there are going to be sinners existing “outside” anymore than there are going to be literal walls and gates made of giant pearls and gems welcoming those who go to Heaven or that God is going call Heaven by the name “New Jerusalem.” In fact, Heaven is outside the space-time continuum, outside of the mundane plane and in the eternal. There is no “outside” or “walls” or even literal locations in which to make demarcations between a group of sinners and the holy.

Some of what you are reading in Revelation is merely catechesis, encouraging the Church to remain holy as to enter New Jerusalem. It plays out in a drama, demonstrating the sinners as not having access. It is talking about the future, no doubt, but in an apocalypse the author “plays the part” of the audience walking through the visions which are merely tableaux. They are not schedules of events.


Harvest is now ! (30 AD - 2016 AD)

Matthew 9:37 “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”

Matthew 3:12 “His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire”

Luke 12:49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”

John 15:6 “Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

Heaven is now ! (30 AD - 2016 AD)

Matthew 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.”


There’s more than one harvest…


Jesus spoke about the immediate future ! The kingdom, the rule of God (heaven) is here and now, and so is hell, right outside of God’s domain.


The evangelical harvest is carried out by human preachers and teachers, the ordinary workers in the fields and the vineyards.

The eschatological harvest is carried out by the angels with the scythes and the angels with the grapecutters, not to mention the angels with the winnowing fans and chaff burning tools.

I think you’re right to say there is some overlap, because yes, every human who dies is either gathered into the barn or dealt with as chaff. But when the eschatological harvest happens, it will happen to everybody at once. Big difference.

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