Question: "Who are those outside the gates in Revelation 22:15?"
Answer: After relating various visions, the book of Revelation offers a final call to action, including a statement about those who are outside of the gates in Revelation 22:15: “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
The angel who was speaking to John told him not to seal up the book because the time was near (Revelation 22:10). It seems the angel also adds the exhortation that those who do wrong and those who do right will continue in their paths (Revelation 22:11). John then records the words of Jesus, who asserts that He will come suddenly and judge all according to their deeds (Revelation 22:12). Some will be able to enter the gates of the city (the New Jerusalem), and some will be judged and remain outside of the gates (Revelation 22:15).
Jesus affirms His identity as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last (Revelation 22:13, referencing Isaiah 48:12). He adds that there is a blessing for those who wash their robes, for they will have access to the tree of life and be able to enter by the gates of the city (Revelation 22:14). But there will be others who are outside of the gates. He calls them the dogs, sorcerers, immoral persons, murderers, idolaters, and those who love and practice lying (Revelation 22:15). All these will be kept outside of the gates of the city.
The ones who wash their robes are the ones who take the water of life without cost (Revelation 22:17). They are the ones who believe in Jesus (John 4:14; Revelation 7:17; and 21:6). As for those who do not believe in Him, their names are not written in the book of life, and they will be judged according to their deeds (Revelation 20:12, 15). They will not be allowed to enter the city—the New Jerusalem that descends from heaven (Revelation 21:2, 8). Only those whose names are written in the book of life—who have believed in Jesus—will enter the city. Those who have not been cleansed by belief in Jesus and who continue in their sins will not enter (Revelation 21:27).
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus died outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem to pay for sins (Hebrews 13:12). He died as a substitute, and all who believe in Him are able to look forward to a lasting city that will come in the future (Hebrews 13:14). Because of what Jesus accomplished by His own righteousness, all who believe in Him are made righteous (Romans 4:20–25) and are able to be in the city where Jesus will rule in His kingdom on earth. Those who are outside the gates are those who have refused to acknowledge Jesus and who remain unrighteous. They will be judged based on their deeds, which, of course, are not good enough merit eternal life. All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All are in need of Christ’s righteousness, which can only be received by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). Those who refuse to receive His grace by faith will be outside the gates and will not dwell in the city where Jesus is.
Readers of the book of Revelation are encouraged to “come” and take the water of life without cost. The invitation is extended. All who believe may come into the gates and not remain tragically outside.