Monograph: Revelation 13:8 - The Lamb Slain
Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life,
the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
[NIV ©2011]
Figurative understanding

Christ pre-existed cosmic creation. Throughout Scripture He is referred to as the "Lamb of God". During His earthly manifestation as the 'Son of Man' and 'Son of God', Jesus was embarked on a mission to sacrifice His body as a lamb was sacrificed to provide propitiation for sins.

This 'lamb', pure and without blemish, was ordained for sacrifice before, or concurrent with, the establishment (creation) of Earth, and possibly the entire physical cosmos.

God foreknew the descent of His creation into sin, particularly the sin of unbelief, brought about through the persuasive lies of Satan who was already in the earth when our ancestors (Adam and Eve) were created.

God chose to provide redemption for His created Spirit beings, and chose His willing second person as the One who would carry out His plan when the time came.
Literal understanding

At, or before, the creation of the planet earth, there existed a lamb. No animals had been created yet, but the lamb was there. The lamb had a book and it could write, so it wrote in the pages of the book all the names of future people who would not worship the beast when it came.

The lamb is not identified as God Himself, so it must mean that its father was a ram and its mother a ewe. Otherwise, there would be no way for a lamb to exist according to what we know about nature. Possibly, God simply created such a lamb before He created the earth and its occupants.

This lamb was slain 'from the creation of the world', so it was already dead when humans came into being. Therefore, the 'lamb' can no longer write in the book. Lucky are they whose names go in it.

The verse is from an apocalyptic writing, accepted into the canon, as "The Revelation of JEsus Christ to Saint John the Divine", more commonly known as the Book of Revelation. The author is presumed to be the same John who was disciple of Jesus, attests that he had a vision.

10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,
11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.

15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.

18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

It could be argued that he writer's account of his vision is a product of his imagination. Yet, the early church elders and scholars included the book in the canonical New Testament, asserting that it IS the Word of God revealed to us through John. Make of it what you will.

If you belong to the school of Christians who say "You cannot pick and choose from Scripture ... believe it all or nothing", you are trapped in a mind set that prevents the Holy Spirit showing you further truth. This mind set is reinforced by the near to last verses in the book. Many Christians have become convinced that the warning applies to the entire sixty-six books of the Christian Bible. The book itself speaks only to the particular scroll which John said he wrote under the direction of the glorified Jesus Christ.

[Rev 22] 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

If you choose to believe Divine revelation ceased with John's scroll, then you logically believe that the early church fathers who chose the canonical books were not inspired by God, who was no longer giving direct revelation, but by their own notions of what would be a good collection allowing them to control the eventual formation of the organized church across the world. You can't have it both ways.

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