“Here is the patience of the Saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ Say the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them'” (Revelation 14:12-13).
The book of Revelation contains seven beatitudes (Revelation 1:3; 14:12-13; 16:15; 19:6-9; 20:6; 22:7, 12; 22:14). These seven passages tell us how to find true, lasting happiness with God.
The context of this beatitude concerns a vision of the hereafter. The wicked are in torment, without rest day or night (Revelation 14:9-11). The faithful are blessed, and have rest from their labors (Revelation 14:12-13 cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7). Ray Summers comments, “The Christian Martyr was burned at the stake; but that was over in a few minutes, and he found himself possessed of eternal life in fellowship with God. Those who worshipped the emperor fell before God’s judgment and found a life of eternal burning in the sulphurous fumes” (Summers, Worthy is the Lamb, p. 181). The message is: be faithful. It is worth the cost.
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. The words “in the Lord” refers to being in spiritual union with the Lord (Coffman, Commentary on Revelation, p. 340). One gets into Christ by baptism (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27). However one needs to continue to abide in Him (1 John 2:6; 2:10; 2:24; 2:28; 3:24; 2 John 9; Jude 24 cf. John 14:23; 15:10). Dying in the Lord is the equivalent to being faithful unto death (Revelation 14:13 cf. 2:10). This is speaking of those who do not “love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11). This is speaking of those who are willing to die rather than to turn from following Him. The words “from now on” are difficult. James Burton Coffman comments, “The oldest MSS were not divided into words. If this is two words, it means henceforth, but if one, it means assuredly. The original Greek may be read either way with equal authority’ (Coffman, Commentary on Revelation, p. 341). It is possible that the words go with “they may rest…,” and means from the moment they die and onwards they continue to have rest. Phillip Mauro comments, “from henceforth…i.e. from the very moment of death” (Mauro, Things Which Soon Must Come To Pass, p. 449). It is important to observe that the blessing is not for all who die. It is for those who die in the Lord.
They may rest from all their labors. Foy Wallace Jr. comments, “That is, from the travail of persecution” (Wallace, The Book of Revelation, p. 313, cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7). Wayne Jackson comments, “The term ‘rest’ does not suggest that the saints will be inactive in the final order of things, for they ‘serve’ God (22:3). Rather, ‘rest’ denotes a cessation from earthly labor. The word ‘labor’ reflects a state of exhaustion and probably hints of the persecution experienced by the faithful. All will be over when the saints are freed from the rigors of earth’s difficulties” (Jackson, Revelation: Jesus Christ’s Final Message of Hope, pp. 198-199).
Their works follow them. Foy Wallace Jr. comments, “The works referred to their righteous acts in the midst of the period of torture and trial” (Wallace, p. 314). Our Lord knows what we do (Revelation 2:1-2; 2:9; 2:13; 2:19; 3:1; 3:8; 3:15). John Kachelman Jr.comments, “Note here the works on earth follow the saints in death and into eternity (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10; etc.). It is absurd to claim that one’s works have no bearing on salvation” (Kachelman, Studies in the Book of Revelation, p. 79 cf. Philippians 2:12).
“O! for a home with God, a place in His courts to rest, Sure in a safe abode with Jesus and the blest; Rest for a weary soul once redeemed by the Savior’s love, Where I’ll be pure and whole and live with My God above” (Song: Walking Alone at Eve by Thomas Sweatmon).