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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Revelation 7



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Verse 1

After this (μετα τουτοmeta touto). 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 7:1-8 and the vision of the redeemed before the throne Revelation 7:9-17).

Standing (εστωταςhestōtas). Second perfect predicate participle of ιστημιhistēmi intransitive and followed by επιepi and the accusative case γωνιαςgōnias as already in Revelation 3:20 (επι τυριανepi thurian) and often again (Revelation 8:3 some MSS., others genitive; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 15:2), but note επιepi with genitive ταλασσηςthalassēs in the next clause, like επι κεπαληςepi kephalēs in Revelation 12:1; Revelation 7:3.

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

Holding (κρατουνταςkratountas). Present active participle of κρατεωkrateō 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 πνεηι ανεμοςhina mē pneēi anemos). Negative purpose clause with ινα μηhina mē and the present active subjunctive, “lest a wind keep on blowing.”

Upon any tree (επι παν δενδρονepi pan dendron). Accusative case here with επιepi rather than the preceding genitives (γησ ταλασσηςgēsthalassēs), “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 (αναβαινονταanabainonta). Present active participle of αναβαινωanabainō “ascending,” “going up,” picturing the process.

From the sun-rising (απο ανατολης ηλιουapo anatolēs hēliou). 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 ανατολωνapo anatolōn occurs in Matthew 2:1 without ηλιουhēliou (sun).

The seal of the living God (σπραγιδα τεου ζωντοςsphragida theou zōntos). Here the signet ring, like that used by an Oriental monarch, to give validity to the official documents. The use of ζωντοςzōntos with τεουtheou 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 εδοτη αυτοιςhois edothē autois). For εδοτηedothē see Revelation 6:2, Revelation 6:4, etc. The repetition of αυτοιςautois in addition to οιςhois (both dative) is a redundant Hebraism (in vernacular Koiné 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 (αδικησαιadikēsai). First aorist active infinitive of αδικεωadikeō subject of εδοτηedothē common use of αδικεωadikeō 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 αδικησητεmē adikēsēte). Prohibition with μηmē and the ingressive aorist active subjunctive of αδικεωadikeō not to begin to hurt.

Till we shall have sealed (αχρι σπραγισωμενachri sphragisōmen). Temporal clause of indefinite action for the future with αχριachri (sometimes αχρις ουachris hou or αχρις ου ανachris hou an) 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 μεχριmechri (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 (επι των μετωπωνepi tōn metōpōn). From Ezekiel 9:4. Old word (μετα ωπςmetaτους δουλους του τεουōps 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” (tous doulous tou theou) 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 αριτμον των εσπραγισμενωνton arithmon tōn esphragismenōn). Accusative case object of ηκουσαēkousa and genitive of the perfect passive articular participle of σπραγιζωsphragizō He did not see the sealing or count them himself, but only heard.

A hundred and forty and four thousand (εκατον τεσσερακοντα τεσσαρες χιλιαδεςhekaton tesserakonta tessares chiliades). 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 (χιλιαδεςchiliades Revelation 5:11). Nominative absolute, not agreeing in case either with αριτμονarithmon (accusative) or εσπραγισμενωνesphragismenōn (genitive). So as to the case of εσπραγισμενοιesphragismenoi of every tribe of the children of Israel (εκ πασης πυλης υιων Ισραηλek pāsēs phulēs huiōn Israēl). 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.; Gen 49; Exodus 1:1.; Numbers 1:2; Numbers 13:4; Numbers 26:34; Deuteronomy 27:11.; Deuteronomy 33:6.; Josh 13-22; Judges 5; 1 Chron 2-8; 1 Chronicles 12:24.; 1 Chronicles 27:16.; Ezek 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 αριτμησαι αυτον ουδεις εδυνατοhon arithmēsai auton oudeis edunato). Redundant repetition of the pronoun αυτονauton after the relative ονhon as in Revelation 7:5; Revelation 3:8. ΕδυνατοEdunato imperfect indicative and αριτμησαιarithmēsai first aorist active infinitive of αριτμεωarithmeō 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 εκek (the spiritual Israel carried on all over the world), “a polyglott cosmopolitan crowd” (Swete).

Standing (εστωτεςhestōtes). Same form in Revelation 7:1, only nominative masculine plural referring to οχλοςochlos (masculine singular), construction according to sense like the plural λεγοντωνlegontōn with οχλουochlou in Revelation 19:1.

Arrayed (περιβεβλημενουςperibeblēmenous). Perfect passive participle of περιβαλλωperiballō but in the accusative plural (not nominative like εστωτεςhestōtes), a common variation in this book when preceded by ειδονeidon and ιδουidou as in Revelation 4:4 (τρονοι πρεσβυτερουςthronoiπεριβεβλημενοιpresbuterous). Charles regards this as a mere slip which would have been changed to στολας λευκαςperibeblēmenoi if John had read the MS. over.

In white robes (ποινικεςstolas leukas). 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 (ιδουphoinikes). Nominative again, back to construction with ειδονidou not eidon 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 (κραζουσιkrazousi). Vivid dramatic present.

With a great voice (πωνηι μεγαληιphōnēi megalēi). As in Revelation 6:10; Revelation 7:2. “The polyglott multitude shouts its praises as with one voice” (Swete).

Salvation (η σωτηριαhē sōtēria). 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 (Revelation 7:14) and the praise for it is given to God (τωι τεωιtōi theōi dative case) and to the Lamb (τωι αρνιωιtōi arniōi dative also). Both God and Christ are thus called σωτηρsōtēr 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 σωτηριαhē sōtēria see John 4:22; Acts 4:12; Judges 1:3.

Verse 11

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

Round about (κυκλωιkuklōi). 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 (επι τα προσωπα αυτωνepi ta prosōpa autōn). 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 τωι τεωιtōi theōi (God) with προσκυνεωproskuneō (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 προσκυνεωproskuneō (Abbott, Joh. Vocab. pp. 138-142).

Verse 12

Note αμηνamēn 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 (απεκριτηapekrithē). First aorist passive (deponent) of αποκρινομαιapokrinomai with λεγωνlegōn (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 (ουτοιhoutoi). Prophetic predicate nominative put before τινες εισινtines eisin (who are they). Note article repeated with στολαςstolas pointing to Revelation 7:9, and accusative also retained after περιβεβλημενοιperibeblēmenoi as there. Both “who” and “whence” as in Joshua 9:8.

Verse 14

I say (ειρηκαeirēka). Perfect active indicative of ειπονeipon “I have said.” “To the Seer‘s mind the whole scene was still fresh and vivid” (Swete) like κεκραγενkekragen in John 1:15 and ειληπενeilēphen in Revelation 5:7, not the so-called “aoristic perfect” which even Moulton (Prol. p. 145) is disposed to admit.

My lord (Κυριε μουKurie mou). “An address of reverence to a heavenly being” (Vincent), not an act of worship on John‘s part.

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

They which come out of the great tribulation (οι ερχομενοι εκ της τλιπσεως της μεγαληςhoi erchomenoi ek tēs thlipseōs tēs megalēs). 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 (και επλυνανkai eplunan). First aorist active indicative of πλυνωplunō old verb, to wash, in N.T. only Luke 5:2; Revelation 7:14; Revelation 22:14. This change of construction after οι ερχομενοιhoi erchomenoi from οι πλυνησαντεςhoi plunēsantes to και επλυνανkai eplunan is common in the Apocalypse, one of Charles‘s Hebraisms, like και εποιησενkai epoiēsen in Revelation 1:6 and και πλαναιkai planāi in Revelation 2:20.

Made them white (ελευκανανeleukanan). First aorist active indicative of λευκαινωleukainō to whiten, old verb from λευκοςleukos (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: Ephesians 1:7; 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 Philemon 2:12. for both divine and human aspects of salvation.

In the blood of the Lamb (εν τωι αιματι του αρνιουen tōi haimati tou arniou). 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 τουτοdia touto). Because of the washing described in Revelation 7:14.

They serve him (λατρευουσιν αυτωιlatreuousin autōi). Dative case with λατρευωlatreuō (present active indicative, old verb, originally to serve for hire λατρονlatron 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; Philemon 3:3).

Day and night (ημερας και νυκτοςhēmeras kai nuktos). 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 (σκηνωσει επ αυτουςskēnōsei ep' autous). Future (change of tense from present in λατρευουσινlatreuousin) active of σκηνοωskēnoō old verb from σκηνοςskēnos (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 αυτουςep' autous) the redeemed in heaven, in Revelation 21:3 of God tabernacling “with” (μετ αυτωνmet' autōn) 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 (σκηναιskēnai) of the feast of tabernacles and to the tent of meeting where God met Moses (Exodus 33:7-11).

Verse 16

They shall hunger no more (ου πεινασουσιν ετιou peinasousin eti). Future tense of πειναωpeinaō old verb with late form instead of πεινησουσινpeinēsousin like Luke 6:25. It is a free translation of Isaiah 49:10 (not quotation from the lxx).

Neither thirst any more (ουδε διπσησουσιν ετιoude dipsēsousin eti). Future tense of διπσαωdipsaō 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 πεσηιoude mē pesēi). Strong double negative ουδε μηoude mē with second aorist active subjunctive of πιπτωpiptō to fall. They will no longer be under the rays of the sun as upon earth.

Nor any heat (ουδε παν καυμαoude pān kauma). Old word from καιωkaiō 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 πανpān (all) for “not any” is common in N.T. Cf. Psalm 121:6.

Verse 17

In the midst (ανα μεσονana meson). In Revelation 5:6 we have εν μεσωι του τρονουen mesōi tou thronou as the position of the Lamb, and so that is apparently the sense of ανα μεσονana meson here as in Matthew 13:25, though it can mean “between,” as clearly so in 1 Corinthians 6:5.

Shall be their shepherd (παιμανει αυτουςpaimanei autous). “Shall shepherd them,” future active of ποιμαινωpoimainō (from ποιμηνpoimēn 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. Psalm 23:1.

Shall guide them (οδη γησει αυτουςhodē gēsei autous). Future active of οδηγεωhodēgeō old word (from οδηγοςhodēgos guide, Matthew 15:14), used of God‘s guidance of Israel (Exodus 15:13), of God‘s guidance of individual lives (Psalm 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 (επι ζωης πηγας υδατωνepi zōēs pēgas hudatōn). 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 ζωηςzōēs (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 (και εχαλειπσει ο τεοςkai exaleipsei ho theos). Repeated in Revelation 21:4 from Isaiah 25:8. Future active of εχαλειπωexaleiphō old compound, to wipe out (εχex), 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 δακρυονpān dakruon). Old word, with other form, δακρυdakru in Luke 7:38, Luke 7:44. Note repetition of εκek with οπταλμωνophthalmōn (out of their eyes). “Words like these of Revelation 7:15-17 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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 7:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Monday, October 26th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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