Look carefully at both readings of Revelation 13.8. One describes a “book of life” containing names of people long before they existed. The other claims Jesus Christ was crucified before the creation of the earth. Both translations are permissible. The King James, New King James, and Amplified versions all point to “the foundation of the world” as the time when Christ the Lamb was slain. The New Living Translation provides an alternate reading in the footnote: “the Lamb... was slaughtered before the world was made”. The Living Bible offers a clarifying margin notes:
“That is, regarded as slain in the eternal plan and knowledge of God.” (italics mine)
The New International Version and the New American Standard Updated Bible suggest both renderings as valid translations of this verse. Which is correct? Was Jesus slain (or “regarded as slain” in the mind of God) at the beginning of the world? Or, was your name written in the Lamb’s “book of life” at the beginning of the world?
Perhaps both meanings are intended and both translations are correct.
The “creation of the world” is a term John, the writer of Revelation, used to describe the indescribable. God transcends the concept of time. He always existed and His plan of salvation for a world lost in sin also always existed. He had foreknowledge of John 3.16 long before the words were spoken by Jesus or penned by John. God’s “only begotten Son” did not die for the world in general, but for you and me in particular. He always knew who would respond in faith to Christ. Those of us who have received God’s gracious offer made a surprising discovery… our names have always existed on the pages of the Lamb’s eternal book.
The oil painting of the slain lamb "Agnus Dei" hangs in the San Diego Museum of Art and was created by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664). He is known primarily for his still-lifes and religious paintings depicting monks, nuns, and martyrs.