But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. Revelation 22:15
In the previous verse, it referred to those who “have the right to the tree of life.” It further described them as those who “may enter through the gates into the city.” Now, the contrast is given, saying, “But outside are dogs.”
It should be noted that the first five categories are all preceded with the definite article in the Greek, and they should be translated that way to clearly define each category – “the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the sexually immoral, and the murderers, and the idolaters.” Also, several of these categories have already been explained in Revelation 21:8. Rather than skipping over them, they will be re-explained here.
Concerning “the dogs,” they are unclean animals according to Levitical law, but this is not what is being referred to. Dogs are also used in typology in Scripture when being equated to the wicked (Psalm 22:16), ignorance (Isaiah 56:10), destroyers (Jeremiah 15:3), and so on. Thus, they are given as a general category of that which is violent and without reasoning. But that is not what is being referred to here. Also, dogs are those things that eat up the dead, such as when they took care of wicked Jezebel in 2 Kings 9. But this also isn’t what is being referred to here. Rather, the symbolism goes back to Deuteronomy 23:18 –
“There shall be no ritual harlot of the daughters of Israel, or a perverted one of the sons of Israel. 18 You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of the Lord your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.”
These words are not speaking of an actual dog. Rather, it follows on with the thought of the previous clause which refers to the wages of a harlot. The word “price” is joined to that of a dog, meaning the male prostitute, the “perverted one” of verse 17. Moses was using parallelism –
ritual harlot (qedeshah) / wages of a harlot perverted one (qadesh) / price of a dog
The idea is then the doglike manner in which the perverted one presents himself. Thus, this is its own category of perversion. The man who presents himself as a dog for religious prostitution will remain outside the city. The irony of this is that such a person who supposedly practices this act for a religious rite will never come inside the place that is the ideal for all religious hope. The means of attempting to obtain heaven excludes such a person from what he had striven to attain.
Next are mentioned “the sorcerers.” HELPS Word Studies defines this as “properly, a sorcerer; used of people using drugs and ‘religious incantations’ to drug people into living by their illusions – like having magical (supernatural) powers to manipulate God into giving them more temporal possessions.”
Next are mentioned “the sexually immoral.” The word speaks of a male prostitute. However, in the New Testament, that is given as a type of any who engages in sexual immorality. Paul uses the term several times where it is translated as “fornicator,” “whoremonger,” and so on.
Next are “the murderers.” This refers to those who commit unjustified, intentional homicide. After them, are mentioned “the idolaters.” This speaks of a server or worshiper, either literally or figuratively, of idols. Being in a congregation where Christian images, such as crucifixes, statues of “saints,” and so on are served must be included in this. Without Christ’s atoning sacrifice to cover one’s sins, such actions merely heap up added guilt. They are no different than worshiping statues of Buddha. Such will be excluded from entry.
Finally, it says, “and whoever loves and practices a lie.” The verbs are present participles and should be rendered “and whoever is loving and practicing a lie.” It signifies those whose nature it is to do so. They have not come to Christ. As such, they are excluded from entry into New Jerusalem. The word “lie” is general in nature. It certainly includes liars, but it signifies false, deceitful, lying, and untruths, and even those practicing false religions.
Of those who fall into these various categories, it was said in verse 21:8 that they “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” Now, the contrast is given, they shall have no access through the gates into New Jerusalem. They shall remain outside of God’s favor and separated forever from His presence.
Life application: Although another set of warnings is given before the close of the book, this is the last direct mention of particular sins which will exclude entry into the New Jerusalem. This doesn’t mean that those who practice such things will be outside the city walls walking around on earth. Rather, it means that they will be taking an eternal swim in the Lake of Fire which burns with brimstone.
May we all continually evaluate ourselves and flee from the sins which separate us from our loving Creator. God has placed this final list of sins at the closing of His word to remind us of the severity of sin and the consequences which arise from practicing them.
Even if we have come to Christ, been cleansed by Him, and are no longer imputed sin (2 Corinthians 5:19), we need to remember that our actions will be judged at the Bema Seat of Christ. Let us strive to be pleasing to the God who has saved us from our sins by sending His beloved Son, our Lord JESUS.
Lord Jesus, throughout Your word we have been reminded many, many times of the importance of holy and right living. And even at the end of Your word, on its last page, You give stern warnings. Surely, You are just when You judge and especially when You have been so explicit in Your warnings. Help us to never diminish the severity of sin. Amen.