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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Revelation 7

Verse 1

After this (μετα τουτο). Instead of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1) being opened, two other episodes or preliminary visions occupy chapter 7 (the sealing of the servants of God Revelation 7:1-66.7.8 and the vision of the redeemed before the throne Revelation 7:9-66.7.17).

Standing (εστωτας). Second perfect predicate participle of ιστημ, intransitive and followed by επ and the accusative case γωνιας as already in Revelation 3:20 (επ θυριαν) and often again (Revelation 8:3 some MSS., others genitive; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 12:18; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 15:2), but note επ with genitive θαλασσης in the next clause, like επ κεφαλης in Revelation 12:1; Revelation 7:3.

Corners (γωνιας). Old word for angle (Matthew 6:5), also in Revelation 20:8.

Holding (κρατουντας). Present active participle of κρατεω, to hold fast (Mark 7:3; John 20:23). The four winds (cf. Matthew 24:31) are held prisoner by angels at each of the four corners. Some Jews held the winds from due north, south, east, west to be favourable, while those from the angles (see Acts 27:14) were unfavourable (Charles). There is an angel of the fire (Revelation 14:18) and an angel of the waters (Revelation 16:5).

That no wind should blow (ινα μη πνεη ανεμος). Negative purpose clause with ινα μη and the present active subjunctive, "lest a wind keep on blowing."

Upon any tree (επ παν δενδρον). Accusative case here with επ rather than the preceding genitives (γησ, θαλασσης), "upon the land or upon the sea," but "against any tree" (picture of attack on the tree like a tornado's path).

Verse 2

Ascend (αναβαινοντα). Present active participle of αναβαινω, "ascending," "going up," picturing the process.

From the sun-rising (απο ανατολης ηλιου). Same phrase in Revelation 16:12. From the east, though why is not told. Swete suggests it is because Palestine is east of Patmos. The plural απο ανατολων occurs in Matthew 2:1 without ηλιου (sun).

The seal of the living God (σφραγιδα θεου ζωντος). Here the signet ring, like that used by an Oriental monarch, to give validity to the official documents. The use of ζωντος with θεου accents the eternal life of God (Revelation 1:18; Revelation 10:6; Revelation 15:7) as opposed to the ephemeral pagan gods.

To whom it was given (οις εδοθη αυτοις). For εδοθη see on Revelation 6:2; Revelation 6:4, etc. The repetition of αυτοις in addition to οις (both dative) is a redundant Hebraism (in vernacular Koine to some extent) often in the Apocalypse (Revelation 3:8). The angels are here identified with the winds as the angels of the churches with the churches (Revelation 1:20).

To hurt (αδικησα). First aorist active infinitive of αδικεω, subject of εδοθη, common use of αδικεω in this sense of to hurt in the Apocalypse (Revelation 2:11; Revelation 6:6 already), in Luke 10:19 also. The injury is to come by letting loose the winds, not by withholding them.

Verse 3

Hurt not (μη αδικησητε). Prohibition with μη and the ingressive aorist active subjunctive of αδικεω, not to begin to hurt.

Till we shall have sealed (αχρ σφραγισωμεν). Temporal clause of indefinite action for the future with αχρ (sometimes αχρις ου or αχρις ου αν) and the aorist subjunctive as in Revelation 15:8; Revelation 20:3; Revelation 20:5 or the future indicative (Revelation 17:7), usually with the notion of ascent (up to) rather than extent like μεχρ.

An (modal) sometimes occurs, but it is not necessary. But there is no futurum exactum idea in the aorist subjunctive, simply "till we seal," not "till we shall have sealed."

Upon their foreheads (επ των μετωπων). From Ezekiel 9:4. Old word (μετα, ωπς, after the eye, above the eye, the space above or between the eyes), in N.T. only in the Apocalypse (Revelation 7:3; Revelation 9:4; Revelation 13:16; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 14:9; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 20:4; Revelation 22:4). For "the servants of God" (τους δουλους του θεου) who are to be thus marked linked with angels in the service of God see Revelation 1:1; Revelation 2:20; Revelation 19:2; Revelation 19:5; Revelation 22:3; Revelation 22:6.

Verse 4

The number of the sealed (τον αριθμον των εσφραγισμενων). Accusative case object of ηκουσα and genitive of the perfect passive articular participle of σφραγιζω. He did not see the sealing or count them himself, but only heard.

A hundred and forty and four thousand (εκατον τεσσερακοντα τεσσαρες χιλιαδες). Symbolical, of course, and not meant to be a complete number of the sealed (or saved) even in that generation, let alone for all time. The number connotes perfection (Alford), 12x12x1000 = a hundred and forty-four thousands (χιλιαδες, Revelation 5:11). Nominative absolute, not agreeing in case either with αριθμον (accusative) or εσφραγισμενων (genitive). So as to the case of εσφραγισμενο.

Out of every tribe of the children of Israel (εκ πασης φυλης υιων Ισραηλ). There are two opposite views here, one taking the sealed as referring only to Jews (either actual Jews as a remnant or just Jewish Christians), the other including Gentiles as well as Jewish Christians, that is the true Israel as in Revelation 2:9; Revelation 3:9 and like Paul in Galatians and Romans. This is the more probable view and it takes the twelve tribes in a spiritual sense. But in either view there remains the difficulty about names of the tribes. The list is not geographical, since Levi is included, but Dan is omitted and Manasseh put in his place, though he as the son of Joseph is included in Joseph. Irenaeus suggested that Antichrist was expected to come from the tribe of Dan and hence the omission here. There are various lists of the tribes in the O.T. (Genesis 35:22; Genesis 46:8; Genesis 46:49; Exodus 1:1; Numbers 1:2; Numbers 13:4; Numbers 26:34; Deuteronomy 27:11; Deuteronomy 33:6; Deuteronomy 33:13-5.33.22; Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:1; Deuteronomy 12:24; Deuteronomy 27:16; Deuteronomy 27:48) and given in various orders. In 1 Chronicles 7:12 both Dan and Zebulon are omitted. Joseph is given here in place of Ephraim. The distribution is equal (12,000) to each tribe.

Verse 9

Which no man could number (ον αριθμησα αυτον ουδεις εδυνατο). Redundant repetition of the pronoun αυτον after the relative ον as in Revelation 7:5; Revelation 3:8. Εδυνατο imperfect indicative and αριθμησα first aorist active infinitive of αριθμεω, old verb, in N.T. only here, Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7. See Revelation 5:9 (also Revelation 11:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 17:15) for the list of words after εκ (the spiritual Israel carried on all over the world), "a polyglott cosmopolitan crowd" (Swete).

Standing (εστωτες). Same form in Revelation 7:1, only nominative masculine plural referring to οχλος (masculine singular), construction according to sense like the plural λεγοντων with οχλου in Revelation 19:1.

Arrayed (περιβεβλημενους). Perfect passive participle of περιβαλλω, but in the accusative plural (not nominative like εστωτες), a common variation in this book when preceded by ειδον and ιδου as in Revelation 4:4 (θρονοι, πρεσβυτερους). Charles regards this as a mere slip which would have been changed to περιβεβλημενο if John had read the MS. over.

In white robes (στολας λευκας). Predicate accusative retained with this passive verb of clothing as in Revelation 7:13; Revelation 10:1; Revelation 11:3; Revelation 12:1; Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:16; Revelation 19:13.

Palms (φοινικες). Nominative again, back to construction with ιδου, not ειδον. Old word, in N.T. only here for palm branches and John 12:13 for palm trees. Both these and the white robes are signs of victory and joy.

Verse 10

They cry (κραζουσ). Vivid dramatic present.

With a great voice (φωνη μεγαλη). As in Revelation 6:10; Revelation 7:2. "The polyglott multitude shouts its praises as with one voice" (Swete).

Salvation (η σωτηρια). As in Revelation 12:10; Revelation 19:1. Nominative absolute. Salvation here is regarded as an accomplished act on the part of those coming out of the great tribulation (verse Revelation 7:14) and the praise for it is given to God (τω θεω, dative case) and to the Lamb (τω αρνιω, dative also). Both God and Christ are thus called σωτηρ as in the Pastoral Epistles, as to God (1 Timothy 1:1; 1 Timothy 2:3; Titus 1:3; Titus 3:4) and to Christ (Titus 1:4; Titus 2:13; Titus 3:6). For η σωτηρια see John 4:22; Acts 4:12; Judges 1:3.

Verse 11

Were standing (ιστηκεισαν). Past perfect active of ιστημ intransitive and used like an imperfect as in John 19:25.

Round about (κυκλω). Preposition (in a circle) with genitive as in Revelation 4:6; Revelation 5:11. The angels here rejoice in the salvation of men (Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10; 1 Peter 1:12).

Upon their faces (επ τα προσωπα αυτων). In reverential worship of God as in Revelation 11:16. For this worship (fell and worshipped) see also Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 11:16; Revelation 19:4; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8. The dative τω θεω (God) with προσκυνεω (to worship) is the usual construction for that meaning. When it means merely to do homage the accusative case is usual in this book (Charles). But in the Fourth Gospel the reverse order is true as to the cases with προσκυνεω (Abbott, Joh. Vocab. pp. 138-142).

Verse 12

Note αμην at the beginning and the close of the doxology. Note also separate feminine article with each of the seven attributes given God, as in Revelation 4:11; Revelation 5:12; Revelation 5:13.

Verse 13

Answered (απεκριθη). First aorist passive (deponent) of αποκρινομα with λεγων (saying), a common (only here in the Apocalypse) Hebrew redundancy in the Gospels (Mark 9:5). An elder intervenes, though no question has been asked to interpret the vision (Swete).

These (ουτο). Prophetic predicate nominative put before τινες εισιν (who are they). Note article repeated with στολας pointing to verse Revelation 7:9, and accusative also retained after περιβεβλημενο as there. Both "who" and "whence" as in Joshua 9:8.

Verse 14

I say (ειρηκα). Perfect active indicative of ειπον, "I have said." "To the Seer's mind the whole scene was still fresh and vivid" (Swete) like κεκραγεν in John 1:15 and ειληφεν in Revelation 5:7, not the so-called "aoristic perfect" which even Moulton (Prol. p. 145) is disposed to admit.

My lord (Κυριε μου). "An address of reverence to a heavenly being" (Vincent), not an act of worship on John's part.

Thou knowest (συ οιδας). "At once a confession of ignorance, and an appeal for information" (Swete), not of full confidence like συ οιδας in John 21:15.

They which come out of the great tribulation (ο ερχομενο εκ της θλιψεως της μεγαλης). Present middle participle with the idea of continued repetition. "The martyrs are still arriving from the scene of the great tribulation" (Charles). Apparently some great crisis is contemplated (Matthew 13:19; Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:10), though the whole series may be in mind and so may anticipate final judgment.

And they washed (κα επλυναν). First aorist active indicative of πλυνω, old verb, to wash, in N.T. only Luke 5:2; Revelation 7:14; Revelation 22:14. This change of construction after ο ερχομενο from ο πλυνησαντες to κα επλυναν is common in the Apocalypse, one of Charles's Hebraisms, like κα εποιησεν in Revelation 1:6 and κα πλανα in Revelation 2:20.

Made them white (ελευκαναν). First aorist active indicative of λευκαινω, to whiten, old verb from λευκος (verse Revelation 7:13), in N.T. only here and Mark 9:3. "Milligan remarks that robes are the expression of character and compares the word habit used of dress" (Vincent). The language here comes partly from Genesis 49:11 and partly from Exodus 19:10; Exodus 19:14. For the cleansing power of Christ's blood see also Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9; Colossians 1:20; 1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 22:14. "The aorists look back to the life on earth when the cleansing was effected" (Swete). See Philippians 2:12 for both divine and human aspects of salvation.

In the blood of the Lamb (εν τω αιματ του αρνιου). There is power alone in the blood of Christ to cleanse from sin (1 John 1:7), not in the blood of the martyrs themselves. The result is "white," not "red," as one might imagine.

Verse 15

Therefore (δια τουτο). Because of the washing described in verse Revelation 7:14.

They serve him (λατρευουσιν αυτω). Dative case with λατρευω (present active indicative, old verb, originally to serve for hire λατρον, then service in general, then religious service to God, Matthew 4:10, then in particular ritual worship of the priests, Hebrews 8:5). All the redeemed are priests (Revelation 16:5; Revelation 16:10) in the heavenly temple (Revelation 6:9) as here. But this service is that of spiritual worship, not of external rites (Romans 12:1; Philippians 3:3).

Day and night (ημερας κα νυκτος). Genitive of time, "by day and night," as in Revelation 4:8 of the praise of the four living creatures.

Shall spread his tabernacle over them (σκηνωσε επ' αυτους). Future (change of tense from present in λατρευουσιν) active of σκηνοω, old verb from σκηνος (tent, tabernacle), used in John 1:14 of the earthly life of Christ, elsewhere in N.T. only in Rev. (Revelation 7:14; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 13:6; Revelation 21:3). In Revelation 12:12; Revelation 13:6 of those who dwell in tents, here of God spreading his tent "over" (επ' αυτους) the redeemed in heaven, in Revelation 21:3 of God tabernacling "with" (μετ' αυτων) the redeemed, in both instances a picture of sacred fellowship, and "the further idea of God's Presence as a protection from all fear of evil" (Swete) like the overshadowing of Israel by the Shekinah and a possible allusion also to the tents (σκηνα) of the feast of tabernacles and to the tent of meeting where God met Moses (Exodus 33:7-2.33.11).

Verse 16

They shall hunger no more (ου πεινασουσιν ετ). Future tense of πειναω, old verb with late form instead of πεινησουσιν like Luke 6:25. It is a free translation of Isaiah 49:10 (not quotation from the LXX).

Neither thirst any more (ουδε διψησουσιν ετ). Future tense of διψαω, the two strong human appetites will be gone, a clear refutation of a gross materialistic or sensual conception of the future life. Cf. John 6:35.

Neither shall strike (ουδε μη πεση). Strong double negative ουδε μη with second aorist active subjunctive of πιπτω, to fall. They will no longer be under the rays of the sun as upon earth.

Nor any heat (ουδε παν καυμα). Old word from καιω, to burn, painful and burning heat, in N.T. only here and Revelation 16:9 (picture of the opposite condition). The use of the negative with παν (all) for "not any" is common in N.T. Cf. Psalms 121:6.

Verse 17

In the midst (ανα μεσον). In Revelation 5:6 we have εν μεσω του θρονου as the position of the Lamb, and so that is apparently the sense of ανα μεσον here as in Matthew 13:25, though it can mean "between," as clearly so in 1 Corinthians 6:5.

Shall be their shepherd (παιμανε αυτους). "Shall shepherd them," future active of ποιμαινω (from ποιμην, shepherd), in John 21:16; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2; Revelation 2:27; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15. Jesus is still the Good Shepherd of his sheep (John 10:11; John 10:14). Cf. Psalms 23:1.

Shall guide them (οδη γησε αυτους). Future active of οδηγεω, old word (from οδηγος, guide, Matthew 15:14), used of God's guidance of Israel (Exodus 15:13), of God's guidance of individual lives (Psalms 5:9), of the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), of Christ's own guidance here (cf. John 14:4; Revelation 14:4).

Unto fountains of waters of life (επ ζωης πηγας υδατων). The language is like that in Isaiah 49:10; Jeremiah 2:13. Note the order, "to life's water springs" (Swete) like the Vulgate ad vitae fontes aquarum, with emphasis on ζωης (life's). For this idea see also John 4:12; John 4:14; John 7:38; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:1; Revelation 22:17. No special emphasis on the plural here or in Revelation 8:10; Revelation 14:7; Revelation 16:4.

And God shall wipe away (κα εξαλειψε ο θεος). Repeated in Revelation 21:4 from Isaiah 25:8. Future active of εξαλειφω, old compound, to wipe out (εξ), off, away, already in Revelation 3:5 for erasing a name and in Acts 3:19 for removing the stain (guilt) of sin.

Every tear (παν δακρυον). Old word, with other form, δακρυ, in Luke 7:38; Luke 7:44. Note repetition of εκ with οφθαλμων (out of their eyes). "Words like these of vv. Revelation 7:15-66.7.17 must sound as a divine music in the ears of the persecuted. God will comfort as a mother comforts" (Baljon).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 7". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/revelation-7.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.