Kenneth S. Wuest New Covenant Translation
4 But you have a few names in Sardis who did not defile their garments. And they shall walk [in fellowship] with me in white [garments] because they are worthy. 5 He who gains the victory shall in that manner be arrayed in white garments. And I will positively NOT ERASE his name from the scroll of the life. And I will openly confess his name before my Father and before His angels.
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Before starting to interpret verse five, we need to know that the seven assemblies mentioned in the first three chapters of Revelations are not addressed to individuals but to different assemblies (local assemblies) in different cities in Asia, which at the time were positioned geographically like a circle.
Many believers, when reading this verse (Revelations 3:5), have been confused about the possibility of losing salvation knowing that the book of life is associated to Christians. Those who are saved, their names are written in the book of life. In order to understand this verse clearly, we should not forget that our salvation is positional. We don't have to do anything to keep it. We can not lose it. To prove this, we have to read the context starting from chapter one of Revelations. Revelations 1:5B says, "To him who loves us and set us free from our sins by means of his blood." Notice that this powerful verse is not telling us to hang on to something, but to look at somebody outside of us who did the job for us at Calvary. The verse says we are FREE and we have no sins because of the cleansing agent of the blood of Christ. If you go further to chapter 1 verse 6, you will see that we are "made priests". "And who constituted us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him is the glory and the power forever and forever. Amen." If we understand these two verses well, these are the key verses to retain when reading chapters 1 to 3 of Revelations. How long are we going to remain free? The answer is "forever and forever".
Here are more verses that help clarify and set the context of Revelations 3:5.
Chapter 1 verse 13 says, "...and a gold belt around Him at the breasts (paps)." Thus, the Lord is there like a judge disciplining instead of feeding His children like a mother.
Revelations 2:23, "And all the assemblies shall come to know experientially that, as for myself, I am He who searches minds and hearts, I will give to each of you in accordance with your works."
Revelations 3:19, "As for myself, as many as many I am fond of, I reprove so as to bring out conviction and confession, and I discipline, correct, and guide. (The reason for all these is to) Be constantly zealous..."
All these verses are not directed to only one local assembly, but they are directed to the seven of them. Now that the Lord freed us, forgave our sins, and made us priests, God the Father wants us to serve. The Lord did not leave us, but sticks around and keeps looking for fruits like a gardener walking around his garden.
So what does Revelations chapter 3 verse 5 mean?
The sentence "...I will positively not erase his name from the scroll of the life" does not give us the right to interpret that we may lose salvation. The Lord is actually saying He will NOT. The sentence has two negatives "not" and "erase" which makes the meaning of the sentence positive. "NOT ERASE" means "keep, record, maintain, preserve, sustain, etc". In the English grammar, double negation or double negatives mean the opposite of what you are trying to say, so "I will not erase..." means "I will keep on record...". Double negatives are also useful when you want to place emphasis. It intensifies the strength of the words--NOT ERASE--that the speaker was actually pointing out. Mathematics has a similar rule: multiplying two negatives make a positive.
The Lord wants us to understand that He will not erase our names. He said that He will not erase the name of "He who gains the victory..." And who gains the victory? We, the believers, are victorious in Him who "has won the victory" (Revelations 5:5), the same "...who loves us and set us free from our sins by means of his blood" (Revelations 1:5B).