Revelation 21:8 says 'But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'
That's a quote from the New American Standard Version of the Bible. The King James Version, however, says this: 'But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.'
The commentary Bible I trust the most is the New Defender's Study Bible. It says that the better translation is 'fearful'.
Still it's hard for me to read the passage without thinking that it is describing me. Inside, I know that fear has held me back from achieving all I should in life, whether in marriage, working to advance the Kingdom of God, in my work or any other area. Am I a coward? Are you a coward? what does this passage mean? First of all, any man you name has been cowardly at one time or another. Think of Abraham, stating that his beautiful wife Sarah is his sister because he thinks he might be killed otherwise. He even exposed her to the possibility of rape because of his lack of faith in God. The Bible is full of examples of men who are cowardly at times. Gideon is another example. Their Father was patient with them, and took the time to build their confidence in Him, so that eventually they accomplished mighty deeds in His name. So I don't have to worry that I will burn in hell because of moments of cowardice. That isn't exactly what this scripture is talking about, however.
It is specifically referring to a scenario where we are afraid to proclaim our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Possibly in a situation where we are confronted by threats from unbelievers, but additionally in not sharing the Good News of salvation with others as we walk through life.
My Bible refers me to 2 Timothy 1:7 'For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.'
The fear that we as men feel from time to time, first of all, does not come from God. It may come from the lies of the enemy, but we are certainly capable of feeling fear on our own. In the verses prior to and after verse 7, you'll see that Paul is exhorting Timothy to remember the gifts God has given him for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God. He is exhorting him to not be ashamed of the testimony and teaching of Christ, but rather to pass the words of Christ along and take the consequences.
So Revelation 21:8 is telling you and I to speak out and share the Gospel of Christ, and state manfully that we beleive in Christ and have committed ourselves to follow Him, when asked, or even if confronted with punishment if we affirm our faith. This will happen in the end times, and I believe we are very close to that time.