Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 6:10

and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - God;   God Continued...;   Martyrdom;   Persecution;   Scofield Reference Index - Death;   Remnant;   The Topic Concordance - Day of the Lord;   Seals;   Vengeance;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Murder;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Blood;   Day of the lord;   Judgment;   Martyr;   Persecution;   Revelation, book of;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Death, Mortality;   Hades;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Abel;   Judah, Kingdom of;   Revelation of John, the;   Zacharias;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Vengeance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Beast;   Lord;   Prayer;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Abel;   Altar;   Blood;   Brotherly Love;   Elect, Election ;   Enoch Book of;   Eschatology;   Esdras, the Second Book of;   Holiness Purity;   Lord;   Master;   Peter Epistles of;   Retribution (2);   Sanctify, Sanctification;   Sin;   Wandering Stars;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Avenger, Avenger of Blood;   Dwellers on Earth;   Lord;   Revelation, the;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Abel (1);   Ascension;   Cry, Crying;   God, Names of;   Holiness;   Master;   Retribution;   Revelation of John:;   Truth;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And they cried with a loud voice - That is, their blood, like that of Abel, cried for vengeance; for we are not to suppose that there was any thing like a vindictive spirit in those happy and holy souls who had shed their blood for the testimony of Jesus. We sometimes say Blood cries for blood; that is, in the order of Divine justice, every murderer, and every murdering persecutor, shall be punished.

O Lord - Ὁ Δεσποτης· Sovereign Lord, supreme Ruler; one having and exercising unlimited and uncontrolled authority.

Holy - In thy own nature, hating iniquity;

And true - In all thy promises and threatenings;

Dost thou not judge - The persecutors;

And avenge our blood - Inflict signal punishment;

On them that dwell on the earth? - Probably meaning the persecuting Jews; they dwelt επι της γης, upon that land, a form of speech by which Judea is often signified in the New Testament.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-6.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

and they cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Master, the holy and true, does thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Moffatt found what he called something "inferior" in this cry for "blood-revenge."[38] Scott likewise said, "To a Christian such an invocation is impossible,"[39] from this concluding that the martyrs here were Old Testament Jews. Such views miss the mark. "This is not the language of private revenge but of public justice."[40] One grows a little weary of commentators who fancy that they are in possession of such a faith that a prayer of this kind must be repudiated as non-Christian; but let those who were martyred for their testimony speak; they are entitled to be heard. Furthermore, their invocation is in full harmony with what the Son of God himself said:

Will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you he will vindicate them speedily (Luke 18:7).

"The vindication of the righteous is a recurring note throughout the Scriptures."[41] Did not God say to Cain, "Thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground" (Genesis 4:10). Wrongs in the final analysis must be made right. The justice of the holy and righteous God can be accepted only in the light of the solemn fact that "vengeance belongs to him," and that it will be executed upon the wicked. It cannot be that the prayers of the martyred, for God to exercise that prerogative are in any sense whatever, either inconsistent with true faith in Christ, or reprehensible in any degree. For Christians, upon their own behalf, to engage in acts of vengeance is indeed sinful, but for them to pray for God's vengeance to fall upon their enemies is right, a proposition that is proved by the verse we are studying.

The fact that only martyrs are mentioned here should not obscure the fact that all of the righteous dead are with the Lord and that all receive the same blessings implied by the white robes in the next verse.

[38] James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 392

[39] Walter Scott, Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d.), p. 156.

[40] G. B. Caird. op. cit.. p. 85.

[41] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 13.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-6.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And they cried with a loud voice,.... With great ardour and fervency, being very pressing and importunate; and which shows that they were awake, and not asleep, and that the soul does not sleep with the body in the grave, or is after the death of that in a state of insensibility and inactivity, as some imagine:

saying, how long, O Lord, holy and true; the person they address is either the Lamb in the midst of the throne, with whom they were, and under the shelter of whom they were safe and happy; or God the Father, who sat upon the throne, whom they call "holy", because being so in his nature, and as appears in all his works, he could not but hate, and so revenge the evil that was done to them by their cruel persecutors; and whereas he is "true" to all his threatenings, as well as his promises, and faithful to every word of his, they doubted not but he would judge and avenge them of their enemies; but they seem desirous to know how long it would be first: saying,

dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? the men of the world, idolatrous persons, earthly princes, who had shed their blood; and which they desire not out of any sinful or malicious affection, but that the holiness and justice of God might appear, and also his truth and faithfulness in his promises to them, and threatenings to his enemies; and that God in all things might be glorified, and his church and people on earth might be supported and delivered; see Job 24:12.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-6.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

How longGreek, “Until when?” As in the parable the woman (symbol of the Church) cries day and night to the unjust judge for justice against her adversary who is always oppressing her (compare below, Revelation 12:10); so the elect (not only on earth, but under Christ‘s covering, and in His presence in Paradise) cry day and night to God, who will assuredly, in His own time, avenge His and their cause, “though He bear long with them.” These passages need not be restricted to some particular martyrdoms, but have been, and are receiving, and shall receive partial fulfillment's, until their last exhaustive fulfillment before Christ‘s coming. So as to the other events foretold here. The glory even of those in Paradise will only be complete when Christ‘s and the Church‘s foes are cast out, and the earth will become Christ‘s kingdom at His coming to raise the sleeping saints.

LordGreek, “Master”; implying that He has them and their foes and all His creatures as absolutely at His disposal, as a master has his slaves; hence, in Revelation 6:11, “fellow servants,” or fellow slaves follows.

holyGreek, “the Holy one.”

avenge — “exact vengeance for our blood.”

onGreek,from them.”

that dwell on the earth — the ungodly, of earth, earthly, as distinguished from the Church, whose home and heart are even now in heavenly places.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-6.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

How long (εως ποτεheōs pote). “Until when.” Cf. Matthew 7:17; John 10:24.

O Master (ο δεσποτηςho despotēs). Nominative articular form, but used as vocative (δεσποταdespota) as in Revelation 4:11 (John 20:28). On δεσποτηςdespotēs (correlative of δουλοςdoulos) see Luke 2:29. Here (alone in the Apocalypse) it is applied to God as in Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24, but to Christ in Judges 1:4; 2 Peter 2:1.

The holy and true (ο αγιος και αλητινοςho hagios kai alēthinos). See Revelation 3:7 for these attributes of God.

Avenge our blood on them that dwell upon the earth (εκδικεις το αιμα ημων εκ των κατοικουντων επι της γηςekdikeis to haima hēmōn ek tōn katoikountōn epi tēs gēs). This same idiom in Revelation 19:2 and see it also in Luke 18:7., “a passage which goes far to answer many questions in theodicy” (Swete). We find εκδικεωekdikeō late compound, used with εκek as here in Deuteronomy 18:19; 1 Samuel 24:13, but with αποapo in Luke 18:3. For επι της γηςepi tēs gēs (upon the earth) see Revelation 3:10.

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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 6:10". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-6.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

They cried ( ἔκραζον )

See on Mark 5:5.

How long ( ἕως πότε )

Lit., until when. Compare Zechariah 1:12.

O Lord ( ὁ δεσπότης )

See on 2 Peter 2:1. Only here in Revelation. Addressed to God rather than to Christ, and breathing, as Professor Milligan remarks, “the feeling of Old Testament rather than of New Testament relation.” Compare Acts 4:24; Judges 1:4.

True ( ἀληθινὸς )

See on John 1:9; see on Revelation 3:7.

Judge ( κρίνεις )

Originally the verb means to separate; thence the idea of selection: to pick out, and so to discriminate or judge.

Avenge ( ἐκδικεῖς )

Compare Luke 18:3; Romans 12:19.

On the earth ( ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς )

Earth, in Revelation, is generally to be understood of the ungodly earth.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-6.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

And they cried — This cry did not begin now, but under the first Roman persecution. The Romans themselves had already avenged the martyrs slain by the Jews on that whole nation.

How long — They knew their blood would be avenged; but not immediately, as is now shown them.

O Lord — The Greek word properly signifies the master of a family: it is therefore beautifully used by these, who are peculiarly of the household of God.

Thou Holy One and true — Both the holiness and truth of God require him to execute judgment and vengeance.

Dost thou not judge and avenge our blood? — There is no impure affection in heaven: therefore, this desire of theirs is pure and suitable to the will of God. The martyrs are concerned for the praise of their Master, of his holiness and truth: and the praise is given him, Revelation 19:2, where the prayer of the martyrs is changed into a thanksgiving: - Thou holy One and true: "True and right are thy judgments." How long dost thou not judge "He hath judged the great whore, and avenge our blood? and hath avenged the blood of his servants."

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-6.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

And they cried, &c. This voice, and also the earthquake mentioned as taking place upon the opening of the sixth seal, (Revelation 6:12,) and the silence in heaven which marked the opening of the seventh, (Revelation 8:1,) show that these visions were not representations delineated in the book, as its several portions were successively unfolded, but that they were visions exhibited to the mind of John, in action the opening of the seals being, as it were, only the signals for their appearance.--Dost thou not judge and avenge, &c. This is not to be understood as expressing their personal desire for the punishment of their enemies, but as the voice of their blood crying for vengeance, just as, in the case of Cain, the voice of his brother's blood was said to cry to God from the ground. The meaning of the whole plainly is, that, though the servants of Christ must suffer trial and persecution for a long period, they should not be forgotten, but that their blood should be avenged in due time.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-6.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Ver. 10. And they cried] When God intends deliverance to his people, he poureth out upon them "the spirit of grace and supplication," Zechariah 12:9-10.

How long, O Lord] Calvin had this speech always in his mouth, breathing out his holy desires in the behalf of the afflicted Churches, with whose sufferings he was more affected than with anything that befell himself. (Beza in Vita.)

Dost thou not judge and avenge] The glorified souls cannot be properly said to desire revenge; but the cry which they make must be understood to be the provocation of God to vengeance which their sufferings produce in the same sort as Abel’s blood is said to cry. (Thorndike.)

That dwell on the earth] In opposition to the inhabitants of heaven. As names written in heaven stand opposed to those that are written in the earth, Luke 10:20; Jeremiah 17:13.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-6.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And they cried with a loud voice; their blood cried, or their souls cried to God,

saying, How long, O Lord, holy; and therefore thou canst not abide iniquity, and of all iniquity canst least abide innocent blood, which is the blood of thy saints, whose blood is precious in thy sight.

And true; and who art true to thy word of threatenings against blood thirsty men, and to thy promises for the deliverance of thy people.

Dost thou net judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Dost thou not judge our cause, and avenge us, who have committed vengeance to thee, not daring to avenge ourselves upon wicked men, who dwelling upon the earth are seen, and their practices known to and by thee, and are under thy power, so as thou canst at pleasure do it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-6.html. 1685.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John saw these martyrs calling out to their heavenly Master (Gr. despotes) to punish their murderers. Contrast the prayers of Jesus ( Luke 23:34) and Stephen ( Acts 7:60) in which they asked God to be merciful to their murderers. The difference is that the time of God"s longsuffering has now ended and He has begun to pour out His wrath on sinners. "Master" implies divine might, majesty, power, and authority, and it stresses the absolute power of God. [Note: Moffatt, 5:391; Lange, 176; Robertson, 6:344; Alford, 4:619.] How much longer did they have to wait for God to avenge them (cf. Psalm 79:10; Psalm 94:3; Habakkuk 1:2)? "Holy and true" were attributes of Christ earlier ( Revelation 3:7), but here the Father is probably in view since He is the ultimate source of the judgments. "Those who dwell on the earth" is almost a technical expression in Revelation describing unbelievers who are hostile to God (cf. Revelation 3:10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 11:10; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 13:12; Revelation 17:2; Revelation 17:8).

"Their [the Tribulation martyrs"] prayers for revenge upon their enemies are viewed as the fifth judgment against the earth-dwellers." [Note: Robert Thomas, "The Imprecatory Prayers of the Apocalypse," Bibliotheca Sacra125:502 (April-June1969):127; idem, Revelation 1-7, pp517-24.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-6.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 6:10. And they cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? ‘They’ cried (yet not the martyrs themselves but the blood which represents them) as the blood of Abel cried (Genesis 4:10). The cause of holiness and truth suffering in them was at stake; and only as they identify themselves with this great cause do they ‘cry.’ They cried with a ‘great’ voice in the earnestness of their cry. The cry is addressed to Him who is spoken of as ‘Master,’ and by whom we are most probably to understand not Christ but God. There is much indeed that might lead us to think of the former, but the song of chap. Revelation 19:1 appears to determine in favour of the latter. Their confidence that God will deliver is confirmed by the thought of the attributes which distinguish Him. He is ‘the holy:’ therefore He will the more surely punish wickedness. He is the ‘true,’ that is, certainly not the truthful, which is never the meaning of the word here employed, but either the Being who alone has true and substantial existence, or the Master who completely corresponds with the idea of what a Master ought to be.—Their cry is, How long will it be before the Judge arises to claim the victory as His own, and to punish His adversaries as they deserve? Those who are thus to be judged are then described as ‘they that dwell upon the earth;’ and by the ‘earth’ here, as almost always in the Apocalypse, is to be understood the ungodly earth: those that dwell on it are the ungodly. It may be observed that all the ungodly are included. This is allowed by the best commentators, and it supplies a strong argument in favour of what was said with regard to the number of those underneath the altar,—there all the godly belonging to the time spoken of; here all the ungodly.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-6.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

loud = great.

voice. As Abel"s blood was said to cry (Genesis 4:10).

Lord. App-98.

holy = the Holy.

true = the True.

judge. App-122.

avenge. See Deuteronomy 32:43. Luke 18:3. A call consistent with the day of judgment, not with the present day of grace.

on. apo. App-104. but the texts read ek.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-6.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

How long? [ Heoos (Greek #2193) pote (Greek #4219)] - 'Until when?' As in the parable, the woman (the Church) cries day and night to the unjust judge for justice against her adversary always oppressing her (cf. Revelation 12:10); so the elect (not only on earth, but under Christ's covering, in His presence in Paradise) cry day and night to God, who will assuredly, in His own time, avenge His and their cause, "though He bear long with them" (Luke 18:1-8). This need not be restricted to particular martyrdoms, but receives partial fulfillments, until the last exhaustive fulfillment before Christ's coming. So as to the other events foretold here. The glory even of those in Paradise shall only be complete when Christ's and the Church's foes are cast out, and the earth become Christ's kingdom at His coming to raise the sleeping, and transfigure he living, saints.

Lord, [ ho (Greek #3588) Despotees (Greek #1203)] - "Master;" implying He has them, their foes, and all creatures, as absolutely at His disposal as a master has his slaves; hence, (Revelation 6:11) "fellow-servants," or fellow-slaves, follows. Holy - `the Holy One.'

Avenge - `exact vengeance for our blood.'

On - `from them.'

That dwell on the earth - the ungodly, of earth, earthy; distinguished from the Church, whose home and heart are even now in heaven.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-6.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(10) How long . . .?—Better. Until when. O Master (the word is the correlative of “servant,” see Revelation 6:10) the Holy and True, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood from (on) those who dwell on the earth? By a dramatic figure the persecuted and slain ones are represented as crying for retribution on their oppressors. It is not the Christians themselves (Luke 23:34; and Acts 7:60) who cry for vengeance, any more than it was Abel himself who cried from the ground to God: it was the blood of Abel (Genesis 4:10), the earth disclosed her blood, and refused to cover her slain. The forgotten or ignored wrongs of generations come forth from oblivion and cry for vengeance. It is a poetical description, but it is not fiction. The righteous blood shed does fall upon the world in retribution: the laws of God avenge themselves, though the victims do not live to behold the reward of the ungodly. On the epithets Holy and True, see Notes on Revelation 3:7.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-6.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
they cried
Genesis 4:10; Psalms 9:12; Luke 18:7,8; Hebrews 12:24
How
Psalms 13:1; 35:17; 74:9,10; 94:3,4; Daniel 8:13; 12:6; Zechariah 1:12
holy
3:7; 15:3,4
dost
11:18; 16:5-7; 18:20,24; 19:2; Deuteronomy 32:36-43; Judges 16:28; 1 Samuel 24:12; Psalms 58:10,11; Isaiah 61:2; 63:1-6; Luke 21:22; Romans 12:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8
avenge
Reciprocal: Numbers 31:2 - Avenge;  Deuteronomy 32:43 - avenge;  Joshua 10:13 - until;  Judges 5:31 - So let;  2 Samuel 4:8 - the Lord;  2 Kings 9:7 - I may avenge;  Esther 8:13 - avenge themselves;  Job 7:19 - How long;  Job 19:2 - How long;  Psalm 7:13 - persecutors;  Psalm 37:10 - yet;  Psalm 44:24 - forgettest;  Psalm 55:19 - hear;  Psalm 79:5 - How long;  Psalm 94:13 - until the pit;  Psalm 119:84 - when;  Isaiah 34:8 - GeneralIsaiah 40:2 - warfare;  Isaiah 47:3 - I will take;  Isaiah 62:6 - keep;  Isaiah 64:12 - GeneralJeremiah 11:20 - let;  Jeremiah 15:15 - remember;  Jeremiah 20:12 - let me;  Jeremiah 26:19 - Thus;  Jeremiah 51:24 - GeneralJeremiah 51:35 - The violence;  Lamentations 1:22 - all their;  Lamentations 3:64 - GeneralDaniel 7:25 - shall wear out;  Micah 7:9 - until;  Habakkuk 1:2 - how;  Habakkuk 2:8 - the violence;  Habakkuk 2:11 - the stone;  Mark 9:42 - it;  2 Thessalonians 1:8 - taking;  2 Timothy 4:14 - reward;  1 Peter 1:15 - is;  1 John 5:20 - him that;  Revelation 6:16 - and from;  Revelation 14:15 - crying;  Revelation 14:18 - came;  Revelation 16:6 - they have;  Revelation 17:6 - the martyrs

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-6.html.

Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation

How Long?

Revelation 6:10.

The words "How long?" occur frequently in Scripture, and are spoken in various ways—

(1) As from man to man;

(2) as from man to God;

(3) as from God to man.

I.The passages in which the words are between man and manmay be briefly noticed. They are such as, Job 8:2, "How long will you speak these words?" Job 19:2, "How long will you vex my soul?" Psalms 4:2, "How long will you turn my glory to shame?" Psalms 63:3, "How long will you imagine mischief against a man?" They are the complaint of the troubled against his troublers, and of the righteous against the wicked. Strange interchange of words between man and man! But we do not dwell on this. We come to the other two, in their order.

II.The words as from man to God.Looking up to God, man breathes the deep-drawn sigh, "How long?" Let me note the chief passages—Psalms 6:3, "My soul is sore vexed—but You, O Lord, how long?" Psalms 13:1, "How long will You forget me, and hide Your face? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, and sorrow in my heart? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" Psalms 35:17, "How long will you look on?" Psalms 64:10, "How long shall the adversary reproach?" Psalms 79:5, "How long will You be angry?" Psalms 89:46, "How long will You hide Yourself?" Psalms 90:13, "Return, O Lord, how long?" Psalms 94:3-4, "How long shall the wicked triumph?" Habakkuk 1:2, "How long shall I cry?" Revelation 6:10, "How long, O Lord, do You not judge and avenge our blood?" These are the chief passages in which the expression occurs. Instead of dwelling on each of these in succession, let me thus sum up and classify their different meanings. It is the language of—

(1) Complaint.It is not murmuring or fretting—yet it is what the Psalmist calls "complaining." The righteous man feels the burden and the sorrow and the evil that have so long prevailed in this present evil world, and he cries, "How long?" Have these not lasted long enough? Would that they were done! In this complaint there is weariness, and sometimes there is sadness—almost despair—when unbelief gets the upper hand. Creation groans. Iniquity overflows. Death reigns. The wicked triumph. God seems to forget the earth and to hide His face. The saint ""groans within himself, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body." "Woe is me," he says "that I dwell in Mesech!" Yes, we that yet are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened. We daily cry, "How long?" We are oppressed, and oftentimes cast down. We are not desponding—yet we cannot laugh with the world.

(2) Submission.While impatience sometimes rises, yet the cry does not mean this. It is really a cry of submission to a wise and sovereign God. It is the cry of one putting all events, as well as all times and seasons, into His hands, as Jesus did in Gethsemane. When we pray for deliverance, or plead for the Lord"s coming, we do not mean to be impatient—but simply to utter our weariness—to unbosom ourselves to a gracious God. While we say—How long? We say also—Not my will, but Yours be done. We utter our own conscious helplessness, and put all into the hands of God.

(3) Inquiry.In all the passages there is an implied question. It is not merely—Oh that the time would come! But—When shall it come? We may not "know the time how long," but we ask earnestly, with the prophet—How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? We are warranted in asking, for God has given the prophetic word, that our inquiries may be stimulated and directed. The disciples inquired, and Christ answered fully (Matthew 24:3-4).

(4) Expectation.It is the voice of faith, and hope, and longing desire. The present is dark, the future is bright. God"s word is sure concerning the coming glory; and so we, looking for and hastening to that glory, and depressed with the evil here, cry out day by day, "How long?" When will the day dawn? When will the kingdom come? When will the glory break forth? Faith hears the voice of the Beloved, and says, "Make haste;" it hears His "Behold, I come quickly!" and it says, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" We "look for and hasten (unto) the coming of the day of God" (2 Peter 3:12).

III.The words as from God to man.I note the following instances—Exodus 10:3, Exodus 16:28, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself?" Joshua 18:3, "How long will you be slack to go in the possess the land?" 1 Kings 18:21, "How long halt you between two opinions?" Psalms 82:2, "How long will you judge unjustly?" Proverbs 1:22, Proverbs 6:9, "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?" Jeremiah 4:14, "O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be heard—how long shall your vain thoughts lodge within you?"

Taking up these words of God as spoken to different classes, we would dwell on the following points—

1. Long-suffering.Jeremiah"s words to Jerusalem are the words of a patient God, "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." He is the infinitely patient God, as such most unwilling to smite. He speaks in pity to the sinner, "how long will you not be saved?"—like Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.

2. Admonition.How long halt you between two opinions? How long shall you be of deciding? How long of trusting me? How long will you treat me as a false God, and do injustice to my grace?

3. Entreaty.How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? God beseeches man. He entreats him to give up his sin—to come and be saved. How long will you refuse my love?

4. Earnestness.God"s words are all sincere. They are not the language of duplicity or pretense. He means what He says, and He says what He means. "You will not come to me!" "How often would I have gathered your children!" "O that you had known!"

5. Sorrow.It is not at random that God says, "How long?" His are not mere words of course. "It grieves Him at His heart." Every moment"s continuance in unbelief is vexing and grieving the Spirit.

6. Upbraiding.As He upbraided Israel with being slack to go in and possess the land, so He upbraids us. There is the land, the kingdom, why do you not go in? The door is open—the way is clear.

7. Warning.As He warned the judges and princes in Israel, so does He warn us. How long will you deal unjustly? He said to them. How long will you persist in your unrighteousness and unbelief? He says to us. The day of grace is ending. The day of wrath is coming. Be warned. Flee from the wrath to come!

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Bibliographical Information
Bonar, Horatius. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bch/revelation-6.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The witnesses whose souls John saw (he was able to see a soul because he himself was the Spirit--- Revelation 1:10) were calling for vengeance to be put on the ones who had caused their mistreatment.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-6.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 6:10

Revelation 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

The blessed martyrs did not cry, as being sensible of any suffering, in their bodies; for their bodies being killed, did rest from their labors, {as Revelation 14:13} and cry no more for their suffering in the body; that earthly tabernacle being dissolved, their souls were translated into eternal glory. { 2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 4:18} Where there is no sin, no sorrow, no tears, no fights, no groans, no crying for grief or pain. { Revelation 21:14} Nor was this cry

with a loud voice

raised by any desire of revenge, and vengeance against those particular persons, soldiers, or others, who killed their bodies: For a revengeful frame of mind doth not become saints on earth, { Romans 12:19-21} much less saints in glory. But as the voice of the blood of Abel cried unto God from the ground, { Genesis 4:10} so those blessed martyrs of Jesus

cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, Holy, and True, does thou not judge and avenge our blood,

as David did. { Psalm 35:23} Stir up thy self, and awake to judgement, even unto my cause, my God, and my Lord. And { Psalm 94:1; Psalm 94:7} upon them that dwell on the earth; that is upon the inhabitants of the earth. { Revelation 8:13} The men of the earth, { Psalm 10:18} even the wicked of the earth, { Psalm 75:8} particularly upon the Roman pagan powers, empires, and tyrannical Caesars as follows. { Revelation 6:14-17}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-6.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

10.How long—Of course there was no literal utterance by martyred souls of these words. It is a dramatic form of expressing the profound thought that murdered innocence has a claim on the divine justice for timely retribution. The words are an inspired assurance that Jehovah holds himself bound to be not only holy and true, but retributively just. And this is strikingly recognised by Jesus himself in the parable of the unjust judge, and his closing words, so wonderfully like the present passage: “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” Luke 18:7-8, where see our notes.

Judge—An appeal for either temporal retribution or for a speedy final judgment throne.

Them that dwell on the earth—The profane world; omitting all mention of the few saintly exceptions. So our Lord: “Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-6.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 6:10. Like Clem. Rom., John is fond of as implying the divine might and majesty (3 Maccabees 3:29; 3 Maccabees 5:28). This severe and awe-inspiring conception (cf. Philo, quis rer. div. haer. 6) means that God will vindicate his holiness, which had been outraged by the murder of the for whom he is responsible. In contemporary pagan religions throughout Asia Minor, the punishment of wrong-doing is often conceived in the same way, viz., as the answer to the sufferer’s appeal (cf. Introd. § 2), not simply as a spontaneous act of divine retribution. “How long wilt thou refrain from charging and avenging our blood upon ( as in 1 Samuel 24:13, Psalms 42:1) those who dwell on the earth” (i.e., pagans)? The bleeding heart of primitive Christendom stands up and cries, “I have suffered”. For cf. Dittenberger’s Sylloge Inscript. Graec. 816 (1 cent. A.D.) , etc.; for . (= ) of vengeance, cf.Luke 18:3-8 ( ), a close parallel in thought, though this pathetic, impatient thirst for blood-revenge, which has “the full drift of Psalms 94 below it” (Selwyn) is inferior not only to 1 Peter 2:23 but to the synoptic wail. The Jewish atmosphere is unmistakable (cf.2 Maccabees 7:36; also Deissmann’s Licht vom Osten, 312 f.), but this does not mean that the passage was necessarily written by a Jew. In that case we should have expected some allusion to the vicarious, atoning power of the martyrs’ death (R. J. 181). The prophet evidently anticipated further persecution, since he wrote on the verge of the end precipitated by the Domitianic policy (cf. on Revelation 2:13). Such persecution follows natural disturbances, as in the synoptic apocalypse (Matthew 24:6-7; Matthew 24:21 f.), but the outline of the fifth seal is taken from Enoch, where (xlvii.) the prayer and blood of the martyred saints “rise from the earth before the Lord of Spirits,” while the angels rejoice that such blood has not been shed in vain. In En. xcvii. 3–5 the prayer of the righteous for vengeance overtakes their persecutors on the day of judgment with woeful issues (xxix. 3, 16). “Persist in your cry for judgment, and it shall appear unto you; for all your tribulation will be visited on the rulers, and on all their helpers, and on those who plundered you” (civ. 3, cf. xxii. 6, 7, where Abel’s pirit complains of Cain).— . . . . always in Apocalypse opposed to the saints, almost as “the world” to “the pious” in modern phraseology. This usage is largely paralleled by that of the Noachic interpolations in Enoch (see Charles on xxxvii. 5), where the phrase has either unfavourable or neutral associations. here (as John 17:11 = Did. x. 3, Clem. Rom. xxxv. 3, lviii. 1) applied by a comparatively rare usage (1 Peter 1:15 and Revelation 4:8 being dependent on O.T.) to God, whose intense holiness must be in antagonism to the evil and contradictions of the world (Titius, 9–11).

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-6.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

10. How long? These souls shout in a loud voice, asking for vengeance! But did not Jesus ask God to forgive those who killed him? We answer, these souls do not ask for revenge, but they ask God’s vengeance for God’s sake. By slaughtering them, the world repudiates God! SeeJudges 1:14-15.

 

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 6:10". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-6.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.