Then I heard a voice speaking from the sky,

“Write: Blessed are the dead, who from this moment on are dying in the Lord.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “In order that they may be given rest and refreshment from their labors, for their deeds accompany them.”  

Revelation 14:13
John commanded to write, By Unknown – illuminator – HQHJMNjBGGiwOg at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain,

The word μακάριος | makarios, usually translated “blessed,” also means “happy,” but supremely so, blissfully so. There is a sense of great good fortune, a prosperous quality. Those who die “in the Lord” from this point forward are to be considered incandescently glad, for they will be given the refreshment of heaven, and their deeds, their patient endurance, will accompany them.

Paul spoke of the rewards that come to the redeemed,

“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—the work of each builder will become visible, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.” 

Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 (NRSV, italics mine)


The blessing John hears does not mean those who have died before will not be as blessed as those who will now die. John already had been given a vision of the martyrs in heaven being given white robes and refreshment.

Instead, this blessing conveys how so much worse what is to come will be compared with what has already transpired. Those who die will be spared the horrors of what is held in store.

People dread dying. The fear of death runs through us all. But for the believer, death is the portal through which we enter into life that is more real than our three-dimensional experience of life right now.

“What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 

“Look, I will tell you a mystery!

“We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 

“For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

“’Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
“’Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?’

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters,

  • be steadfast,
  • immovable,
  • always excelling in the work of the Lord

“because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (NRSV, modifications mine)

There it is again, in Paul’s last phrase, “your labor is not in vain.”

“… rest and refreshment from their labors, for their deeds accompany them.”  The fruit of the Spirit in our lives as believers, our character that God has conformed to Christ, the good we have sown in the lives of others, that is all that will accompany us as we pass through the portal of earthly death into eternal life.

All the rest, the accomplishments and awards, wealth and assets, prestige and monuments, all that will not matter. “Wood, hay, straw,” and we will be glad to be rid of it, seeing it for what it is in the Kingdom of Heaven.

L0029270 Angel threatens the followers of the beast Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images The angel warns followers of the beast of the threatening wrath of God – Those who died believing in God are blessed Ink and Watercolour Circa 1420-30 MS 49 Apocalypse, (The), [etc.]. Apocalypsis S. Johannis cum glossis et Vita S. Johannis; Ars Moriendi, etc.; Anatomical, medical, texts, theological moral and allegorical ‘exempla’ and extracts, a few in verse. Published: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0


The first and second century audiences of John’s Apocalypse were facing the daily threat of death. Whether by circus in any number of violent and bloodthirsty ways for Roman amphitheaters, by execution of sword or cross, or being burned alive, the martyr’s fate was one of public humiliation, incarceration, torture, and grim termination.

Nevertheless, as in the words of Paul,

“For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain …. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better”

Paul, Philippians 1:21, 23 (NRSV, italics mine)

Possibly, the angel was noting the moment when the Old Covenant was made finally and completely obsolete by the work of Christ, and the New Covenant was now made active. Before, the faithful who died in the Lord did not yet have entry into the inmost place of the heavenly tabernacle,

“By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary has not yet been disclosed as long as the first tent is still standing.”

Hebrews 9:8 (NRSV, italics mine)

Now, Christ resurrected and the second temple utterly destroyed, “from this moment on,” those who die in the Lord are to be counted as blessed, for they will enter the Holy of Holies in heaven.

Those who were being kept in the “bosom of Abraham” were now released into the celestial city they had long put their hope in.

“All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.

“They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth,  for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better homeland, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

“Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not – apart from us – be made perfect.”

Hebrews 11:13-16, 39-40 (emphases mine)
Blessed are they who die in the Lord | Douce Apocalypse – Bodleian Ms180, By Anonymous – [1], Public Domain


Scholars note there are seven beatitudes in Revelation (a Johannine number if there ever was one!).

  1. Blessed is the one publicly reading this aloud, and the ones hearing the words of this prophecy and keeping the things having been written in it, for the time is at hand. (Revelation 1:3)
  2. Blessed are the dead, who from this moment on are dying in the Lord. (Revelation 14:13)
  3. Blessed is the one keeping watch and holding fast their clothing, in order that they will not go about naked and they seeing their humiliation. (Revelation 16:15)
  4. Blessed are they being summoned into the wedding feast of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9)
  5. Blessed and holy is the one having a part in the first resurrection: over these second death does not having jurisdiction, but rather they will be priests of God and Christ, and they will reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
  6. Blessed is the one giving heed to the words of the prophecy of this book. (Revelation 22:7)
  7. Blessed are they washing their clothes, in order that privilege in the matter of the tree of life will be theirs and to the gates they may enter into the city. (Revelation 22:14)

These blessings progress from earthly to heavenly, blessed are those who die from this moment on, for they will experience the promises of God.

Tapisserie de l’Apocalypse |By atelierPublic Domain


The voice speaking to John might be Jesus, for then the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, affirms the voice’s true saying. Whether “from this moment on” means from the point of the cross, or from the point of each believer’s death, the blessing is the same—believers will be in the Lord, receiving rest and refreshment from their earthly ordeal, and reward for their enduring faith.

The four perspectives taken from Revelation: Four Views A Parallel Commentary, edited by Steve Gregg

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