Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 7:13

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit);   Colors;   Elder;   Heaven;   Jesus Continued;   Persecution;   Righteous;   Robe;   Throne;   Thompson Chain Reference - Afflicted, Promises, Divine;   Afflictions;   Future, the;   God's;   Preparation;   Promises, Divine;   Readiness-Unreadiness;   Saved, the;   The Topic Concordance - Following;   Hunger;   Service;   Thirst;   Tribulation;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Garments;   Mourning;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Color, Symbolic Meaning of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Order;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dress;   Feasts;   Frankincense;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Hope;   Revelation, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Comfort;   Heaven;   Israel;   Tribes ;   Type;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Elders;   Lamb;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Array;   Color;   Immortal;   Revelation of John:;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for May 14;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

One of the elders answered - A Hebraism for spoke. The question is here asked, that the proposer may have the opportunity of answering it.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-7.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And one of the elders - See the notes on Revelation 4:4. That is, as there understood, one of the representatives of the church before the throne.

Answered - The word “answer,” with us, means “to reply to something which has been said.” In the Bible, however, the word is not infrequently used in the beginning of a speech, where nothing has been said - as if it were a reply to something that might be said on the subject; or to something that is passing through the mind of another; or to something in the case under consideration which suggests an inquiry. Compare Isaiah 65:24; Daniel 2:26; Acts 5:8. Thus it is used here. John was looking on the host, and reflecting on the state of things; and to the train of thought passing through his mind the angel answered by an inquiry as to a part of that host. Prof. Stuart renders it accosted me.

What are these which are arrayed in white robes? - Who are these? The object evidently is to bring the case of these persons more particularly into view. The vast host with branches of palm had attracted the attention of John, but it was the object of the speaker to turn his thoughts to a particular part of the host - the martyrs who stood among them. He would seem, therefore, to have turned to a particular portion of the immense multitude of the redeemed, and by an emphasis on the word these - “Who are these” - to have fixed the eye upon them. All those who are before the throne are represented as clothed in white robes Revelation 7:9, but the eye might be directed to a particular part of them as grouped together, and as having something special in their position or appearance. There was a propriety in thus directing the mind of John to the martyrs as triumphing in heaven in a time when the churches were suffering persecution, and in view of the vision which he had had of times of darkness and calamity coming upon the world at the opening of the sixth seal. Beyond all the scenes of sorrow and grief, he was permitted to see the martyrs triumphing in heaven.

Arrayed in white robes - See the notes on Revelation 7:9.

And whence came they? - The object is to fix the attention more distinctly on what is said of them, that they came up out of great tribulation.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-7.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and whence came they?

One of the elders ... This was one of the four and twenty elders mentioned in Revelation 4:4.

These in white robes ... With such an appearance, these could hardly have been unrecognized by John as the saved of earth; but he did not offer his own opinion on the question, as evidenced in the next verse.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-7.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me,.... This elder was not the Apostle Peter, as some Popish interpreters have thought; and still less Pope Silvester, who lived in the times of Constantine; be is much more likely, according to others, to be Constantine himself, the first of the elders, or the chief magistrate when the church sprung out of its troubles, and enjoyed rest and peace; though some have thought of the prophet Isaiah, since many things said by this elder are to be found in his prophecy; compare Revelation 7:14; with Isaiah 1:18; but it is needless to inquire who the particular person was; it is enough to say, that he was one of the four and twenty elders about the throne, one that belonged to the church, perhaps the same as in Revelation 5:5; who, in a visionary way, is represented as accosting John upon the above sight. The word "answered" is a common Hebraism of the New Testament, which is often used when nothing goes before, to which a return is made; and only signifies here, that the elder opened his month, began to speak, and called to John, and said as follows:

what are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? This he said, not as being ignorant of them, or of the reason of their being clothed in this manner, nor of the place and state from whence they came, as appears by the account afterwards given of them by him; but to stir up John to take more notice of them, as being a body of men that were worthy of observation and contemplation, and were worth his while to consider well who they were, and from whence they came; and also to try him whether he knew them or not, and to bring him to a confession of his ignorance; and that he might have an opportunity of giving him some hints about them, which might be useful to him, and to the churches, and for the explanation of this vision, and other parts of this prophecy.

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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.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-7.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

10 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

(10) A passage over to the explanation of the vision, which the angel enquires of John to stir him up in this verse and John in the form of speech, both acknowledges his own ignorance, attributing knowledge to the angel, and also in a humble manner requests the explanation of the vision.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-7.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

answered — namely, to my thoughts; spoke, asking the question which might have been expected to arise in John‘s mind from what has gone before. One of the twenty-four elders, representing the Old and New Testament ministry, appropriately acts as interpreter of this vision of the glorified Church.

What, etc.Greek order, “These which are arrayed in white robes, WHO are they?”

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-7.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

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.

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-7.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Answered

In the sense of taking up speech in connection with some given occasion, as Matthew 11:25. See also on John 2:18.

What are these, etc.

The Rev., properly, follows the Greek order, which places first “These which are arrayed in the white robes, who are they?” emphatic and indicating the natural order of the thought as it presents itself to the inquirer. For what, render who, as Rev.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-7.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

And one of the elders — What stands, verses13-17, Revelation 7:13-17 might have immediately followed the tenth verse; but that the praise of the angels, which was at the same time with that of the "great multitude," came in between.

Answered — He answered St. John's desire to know, not any words that he spoke.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-7.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

This dialogue is simply to be understood as a solemn and emphatic mode of introducing the great declaration made by the angel in his reply.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-7.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

Ver. 13. And one of the elders] {See Trapp on "Revelation 5:5"}

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-7.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 7:13

Heavenly Raiment.

I. Here, in the text, we are presented to a great, victorious company. These pure, victorious ones are as numerous as they are beautiful; from all nations they come; all languages have they spoken; yet have they all been beaten and bruised with the tribulations of the world, and they have come not only out of affliction, but out of great affliction. They were cleansed; their hearts were cleansed, and their garments too. Often in the world they were dressed in meanness, in shame, in sadness, in toil; but all is changed: instead of meanness there is splendour, instead of weakness strength, instead of a heavy heart garments of praise, instead of shame the robe of purity, instead of toil the dress and the palm that denote victory. But how came they to be dressed meanly in this world? Consider what dress is, and how, though it may represent you if you can attain it, you may be unable to attain the material of which to form dress corresponding to your true character. Our dress is made of that which the world around supplies to us. If it be a stupid world, we cannot be robed in such a dress of bright intelligence as we would fain put on; if it be an evil world, we cannot be robed in a joyful dress full of holy excellence. We cannot clothe ourselves as we could if the general sense of mankind were higher. The victorious ones had been clothed meanly (1) because the state of the world was evil, and (2) because their own state was imperfect.

II. He that cleanses his heart cleanses his raiment, and if your heart be refined by the fires of God, then all that is exterior to you will be washed by the waves of the world. Though all this beautiful apparel of saints in heaven is indeed the gift of God by the inward work of His Spirit, from within passing outwardly to the very body and the very raiment—I say, though it is the gift of God, in a certain true sense it is woven by ourselves. Man is but a worm, yet he spins material out of which God adorns heaven. "What are these?" said the reverend elder; "whence came they?" he cried with exulting tone. "Son of man, canst thou tell?" Let the youth of the world hear the voice of this elder. These are the choice ones of this earth, the chief in spiritual contests, the agonised, the disparaged, the killed, the flower of the Church's chivalry, who represent in their victorious love and beautiful apparel the whole company of the saved. In the flood and the fire they heard a voice say, "Onward!"; on the steep of the mountain they heard a voice say, "Upward!" And when a sad voice called, "All flesh is grass," the flesh of saint and of sinner, they could answer, "The grass that withereth is clothed in goodly raiment, finer its flowers than kings' robes; and are we not kings and priests unto our God? and, much more, will He not clothe us?"

T. T. Lynch, Three Months' Ministry, p. 70.


References: Revelation 7:13, Revelation 7:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii., No. 1040; A. Mackennal, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 300.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/revelation-7.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 7:13. What are these which are arrayed, &c.— "Who, think you, are these excellent persons that appear so gloriously apparelled with glittering spotless robes; and from what condition, and how is it that they attained to all this glory?"

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-7.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

As if John had said, One of the elders, not out of ignorance as to himself, but out of desire to inform me, asked me, Whether, I knew what these were that stood arrayed in white? And I told him I did not know, but desired him to imform me. He replied, They were such as had suffered great tribulation for Christ, and were now accepted of him, and dignified by him; not for their own worthiness, but for the sake of his sufferings.

Note here, 1. The present state and condition of the church of God, and members of Christ in this world, they are in tribulation, yea, in great tribulation here; as long as there is a devil in hell, and wicked men upon earth, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer tribulation.

Note here, 2. The future state which they shall be advanced to, they shall come out of great tribulation; the saints' sharp sufferings and persecutions shall have a joyful issue and glorious end.

Yet note, 3. That though the cross was the way to the crown, yet the cross did not merit the crown; their sufferings would not, could not, bring them to heaven, without having their souls washed in the blood of the Lamb, much less could their sufferings merit and purchase heaven; but it pleased God of his free grace thus to reward their sufferings. They were washed in the blood of the Lamb, whose blood paid the price of their salvation.

Note, 4. The description which is here given of heaven; it is called a temple, in allusion to the Jewish temple, in which God dwelt of old; as God by his gracious presence dwelt in his temple in heaven; and accordingly the glorified saints in heaven do temple-service, they worship God continually, and serve him day and night.

In allusion, this is probably spoken to the priests standing in the material temple, and serving in their courses night and day, Psalms 134:1.

Heaven is a place of employment and service, as well as of pleasure and joy; and the greatest joy results from the greatest service.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-7.html. 1700-1703.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Not that he did not know, but to try whether John knew, or rather to set John upon inquiring.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-7.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

белые одежды См. пояснение к 6:11.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-7.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

What; who.

These; the redeemed sinners whom John saw in heaven.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-7.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Occasionally in prophetic visions a dialogue takes place involving one of the characters in the vision and the person receiving it (cf. Jeremiah 1:11; Jeremiah 1:13; Amos 7:8; Amos 8:2; Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 4:5). Here one of the elders asked John a question anticipating the question that was in John"s mind. This led to a clarification of the identity of the multitude in this vision (cf. Revelation 5:5; Joshua 9:8; Jonah 1:8).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-7.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 7:13. These which are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and whence came they? The question is not asked by the Seer. It is Addressed to him in order that his attention may be drawn to it with greater force, and one of the elders is the speaker. In chap, vi the four living creatures spoke, because they represented creation, and were the instruments of vengeance. Now one of the elders speaks, because the elders represent the triumphant Church.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-7.html. 1879-90.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

The question here asked by one of the elders is apparently for John"s sake and to call attention to the means of their salvation.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-7.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

answered = masked. Figure of speech Idioma. App-6.

What = Who.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-7.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

Answered - to my thoughts: asked the question naturally arising in John's mind from what went before. One of the 24 elders, representing the Old and New Testament ministry, appropriately is interpreter of this vision of the glorified Church.

What ... 'These which are arrayed in white robes, WHO are they?'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-7.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me.—The seer had asked no question, but the elder answers the wondering thoughts and questionings which fill his mind. Perhaps this scene was in Dante’s mind when he described himself in Paradise:

“Silent was I, yet desire

Was painted in my looks; and thus I spake

My wish more earnestly than language could.”

—Paradiso, iv. 10-12.

The elder asks the question which he knows St. John would fain ask. These who are clothed in white robes, who are they, and whence came they? The question brings the white robes into prominence. Is it, as has been suggested, that the wonder of the seer is excited more by the emblem of holiness and innocence than anything else? He recognises the multitudes as men and women out of every nation and tribe of sinful humanity, and he sees them clothed in the garb of holiness. Who are these countless throngs of holy ones?

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-7.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
one
4:4,10; 5:5,11
arrayed
9
whence
Genesis 16:8; Judges 13:6; John 7:28
Reciprocal: Leviticus 6:10 - linen garment;  Psalm 51:7 - whiter;  Ecclesiastes 9:8 - thy garments;  Isaiah 64:6 - all our;  Daniel 7:16 - one;  Daniel 12:10 - shall be;  Zechariah 1:9 - what;  Zechariah 1:19 - What;  Zechariah 3:3 - GeneralZechariah 4:4 - What;  Zechariah 13:1 - a fountain;  Luke 15:22 - the best;  Romans 6:22 - become;  Revelation 3:4 - walk;  Revelation 3:18 - white;  Revelation 19:8 - the fine;  Revelation 22:11 - and he that

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-7.html.

Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation

The Earthly and the Heavenly.

Revelation 7:13.

1 John 3:2.

1 Corinthians 15:49.

"These in white robes—who are they?" They are sons of Adam. "Where did they come from?" From the horrible pit and the miry clay. "We shall be like Him." When? Not just yet, but when He shall appear; then He shall change our vile body, that it may be like His own glorious body.

"We shall be like Him." In whatIn all things in which it is possible for the created to be like Jesus. Even now are we the sons of God, but then shall we really be, in all respects, soul and body, what we are now only by title.

"We shall be like Him." WhoThose who are His! Those who have received this crucified and risen Christ as their Lord and God. He who believes on Him now, shall wear His likeness when He appears.

"We shall be like Him." How longForever! No losing of that likeness in the process of the ages. No feature nor line of a feature becoming effaced—but ever deepening and deepening—likeness to Jesus becoming greater—perfection becoming more perfect—throughout eternity.

"Resurrection" is presented to us as the consummation of our hope; and yet there is blessedness even before it comes. Not until then is the likeness complete; but there are white robes before. Resurrection perfects the transformation of the earthly into the heavenly—but we read of "the spirits of the just made perfect."

In a dying world like ours, it soothes and cheers to think of resurrection. Yes, resurrection! How bright the thought and dear the word! But what is that to be to us? For there are two resurrections. Is ours to be the resurrection of the just—the resurrection unto life? The two lasts of these three passages speak of the latter; for they refer to those who belong to the risen Head. They are the "we" to whom he refers—they whom the Son of man came to save, died to quicken, lives to glorify. The white robes are theirs, and likeness to their Lord is theirs.

I. We have borne the image of the earthly man.This image or likeness is something which we "bear" or carry about with us. It is not a casual or occasional thing, but something cleaving to us; inherent in us—evil, carnal, low, unholy. What then is this image of the earthly man? It is something pertaining to spirit, soul, and body—it is of the earth, earthly.

(1) It is human.We are flesh and blood as he was; born of the flesh; as thoroughly human as was our first father—for that which is born of the flesh is flesh.

(2) It is sinful.The image is not that of uprightness and perfection—but of his sinfulness. Sin pervades us, actuates, us, fills us.

(3) It is mortal.Death reigns in us, as well as over us. Mortality was Adam"s lot—it is ours. Dust we are, and unto dust we return. Corruption, disease, pain, decay, imperfection of every kind—make up the sad image.

This was our lot by birth; it is still in part our lot, though we have been born again. Sad lot! Sad image! Do we not shudder at it? Do we not shrink from ourselves? We are earthly, not heavenly! We are like him who is earthly—no, we are his sons! We bear his image on us, all over!

II. We shall bear the image of the Man from heaven.The "as" declares (1) the certainty, (2) the completeness of the resemblance. As certainly and as completely as we have borne the one image, we shall bear the other. The "Man from heaven" is of course the last Adam, the Lord from heaven, who was made a quickening Spirit for us. "We shall be like Him" hereafter. We begin to be like Him now, as soon as we are begotten again. The outline of His image is traced upon us at conversion; our life is to be the filling up of this; the consummation is when He comes again, to raise and glorify us.

Two processes go on—

1. The erasing all the lines of the first Adam"s portrait in us—the effacing of our former selves.

2. The becoming more and more unlike the earthly man—and more and more like the heavenly Man. Line by line, feature by feature, the latter takes its place. Intermixed they often are—the one contending for mastery with the other, like dissolving views—but in the end the heavenly predominates and prevails; the carnal and grosser elements are struck out or chiseled away, and nothing remains but what is spiritual and celestial. This image, after which we are modeled, is—

(1) Divine.We were created "in the image of God"—and the new creation restores this lost image—no, adds to it, intensifies it, establishes it forever. We are made partakers of the divine nature; and thus we take on the image of the heavenly Man. We are "born of the Spirit;" "born from above;" made sons of God; heirs of God; conformed to the image of His Son—we are in Christ, and He in us. All that can be communicated of the divine and the celestial, belongs to our regenerated nature. We are raised to a higher level; and while not less truly human, we are yet more identified with the divine.

(2) Holy.We take on unholiness at our first conception—"Behold, we were shaped in iniquity." We begin to part with this, and to take on the holiness, at our being begotten again; for "of His own will begat He us." We are "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible." Sin, like the troops of a conquered city, begins to evacuate our conquered being; and holiness, like the troops of the victorious army, enters in to fill up all the room. Sin, all sin, of every form and name, is cast out—holiness, all holiness, of every name and form, in word and deed, takes its place in us. It is after the image of the Holy One that we are modeled.

(3) Immortal.The heavenly Adam is immortal. He died once, but He dies no more—and His immortality is for us. By it we are made immortal—not, indeed, now or here—but in the ages to come, when death is swallowed up in victory. He shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like His glorious body. When we awake, we shall be satisfied with His likeness. Resurrection will complete the conformity to the image of the heavenly. Perfection of body as well as soul! No suffering and no sinning!

Is not this hope glorious? Does it not (1) stimulate, (2) sanctify, (3) comfort? Should it not quicken prayer and watchfulness? Such a prospect should not be idle or vain!

In connection with all this, let me notice the apostle"s words in another place—"When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1 Corinthians 13:10)—where we have the imperfect present, contrasted with the perfect future.

We love to contrast things. We cannot help doing it—the past and the present, the present and the future, yesterday and today, winter and summer, old-age and youth, last year and this. Sometimes the contrast is between evil and good, or of death and life. Sometimes it is between the perfect and imperfect, as when we speak of the increase of knowledge. Sometimes it is between the part and the whole, as when we compare the seed and the tree, infancy and old-age, the progress of a year, and the progress of a thousand years. These contrasts are profitable. They reprove, or they quicken, or they comfort.

The apostle"s object here is to quicken and to comfort. His comparison or contrast is between the present and the future, and this in one special aspect. The present is the imperfect—the future is the perfect; the present the fragmentary—the future the complete. It is not a comparison between the sin of the one and the holiness of the other; between the sorrow of the one and the joy of the other. It is the comparison between the part and the whole; between infancy and manhood; between the blossom and the fruit; between the small fountain and the mighty lake into which its waters expand.

It is of divine revelation, or of our knowledge of it, that the apostle is speaking; and he contrasts the imperfection of our knowledge here, with the perfection of our knowledge hereafter. "We know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be down away."

All that we have here are but fragments; perfect in their way and measure—but still fragments. The Bible is but a fragment—perfect in its different parts, perfect in truth and language, but still a fragment; and if the fragment be so glorious, what will the whole be? It is like photographs or pictures of the different parts of Palestine; each is faithful, but still it is only a part. You have Bethany, or Bethel, or Shiloh, or Nazareth; but these are not the land itself. It is like chips from the temple-wall; true pieces of the very temple; yet mere fragments; not the mighty temple itself.

John says that he gave but a few of the events of his Master"s life, telling us that the world could not contain the books that would be written, if the whole story were told. So is it with revelation in general. All we get here is but a drop; a little light, a little truth, a little knowledge; but we wait for more. And how excellent will that coming fullness be, if the fragments which we have at present be so divinely excellent! O how eagerly should we press forward to this glorious perfection!

I. There is perfection—Blessed thought! Perfection in—wisdom, light, holiness, love, and glory! Men speak of the ideal, as if perfection were only to be found there; but the perfection announced by the apostle is real. It is perfect reality, and it is real perfection. We only get glimpses of it now—but it exists. We see so much evil here, and this is such a broken world, that we sometimes ask—Is perfection possible? It is possible! It is; it shall be—as truly as there is perfection in and with God, so surely is there perfection for us—perfection for heaven and earth—perfection for the universe.

2. It will come in due time—God does not mean to keep it for Himself—nor to withhold it from us. He means to give it—fully, truly, everlastingly. That which is perfect shall come! It may not come immediately, or at once, but in due time it shall. This is God"s assurance. Each revolving sun brings it nearer. Nothing shall be able to hinder its arrival and revelation.

3. That which is "in part" shall be done away—The partial, the fractional, the fragmentary, is a necessary part of the present. But it shall cease, and all shall be complete, full-summed, and perfect—in the glorious future. Nothing of the imperfect shall be carried into the world to come. No vile body there, but the incorruptible, the immortal, the glorified. No dim eye, or dull ear, or falling hands, or feeble knees, or fainting limbs. No ignorance, nor unbelief, nor unteachableness, nor weariness of spirit, nor slowness of comprehension. No haltings, nor stumblings, nor uncertainties, nor doubtings. All that is "in part" shall be done away. No half-light, nor half-love, nor half-knowledge, nor half-faith, nor half-desires. All that is "in part" shall be done away.

All that we know here we know imperfectly; then shall we know as we are known. Truth we know but in part. Christ we know but in part. His person, His work, His blood, His kingdom, we know but in part. All the things of God, both the natural and the spiritual, we know but in part. But all this is to end. These parts shall become wholes. These beams shall become suns. These drops shall become seas. These fragments of scattered blue in our cloudy sky shall become a glorious sky. That which is in part shall be done away. No more dimness, or cloud, or vagueness, or guessing, or groping. All shall be fullness, and perfection, and glory forever!

What blessedness is in this prospect! How it cheers! How it makes us content with weakness and imperfection for a time! How it quickens us to press forward to the perfect and the glorious!

What misery to miss all this—to come short of such perfection; no, to lie down in darkness and sorrow! To have sin, and imperfection, and uncertainty, and weariness, and misery, for our eternal portion!

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Bonar, Horatius. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bch/revelation-7.html.

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

THE ELDER'S QUESTION AND ANSWER.

Revelation 7:13-17. — "And one of the elders answered, saying to me, These who are clothed with white robes, who are they, and whence came they? And I said to him, My Lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple, and He that sits upon the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. They shall not hunger any more, neither shall they thirst any more, nor shall the sun at all fall on them, nor any burning heat; because the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them, and shall lead them to fountains of waters of life, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes." The Seer stood in silent wonder. He heard the exulting cry of the redeemed host and beheld their joy, but he did not personally participate in either. "One of the elders answered," not the spoken, but the unspoken inquiry of the heart of the Seer. The elders are characterised by the most elevated character of worship and intelligence in the mind and ways of God. They themselves were redeemed from earth, and hence it was fitting that one of them, and not a sinless celestial being, should be the interpreter to John, and through him to us, of the origin and history of this remarkable company for the first time beheld by the Seer. John was not unacquainted with the heavenly service of the elders. In a previous vision (Revelation 5:4-5) one of them had comforted and instructed him. Hence the two questions put to John exactly expressed what he wanted to know: "These who are clothed with white robes, who are they? and whence came they?"

It is not without significance that attention is called three times to their "white robes" (vv. 9, 13, 14). Their public acceptance by God, their recognition by Him in perfect purity of character and ways, are witnessed in those robes of purest white.{*An old Scotch divine remarks on this passage: "The word translated robes properly signifies a marriage robe; and as both this word and the one translated white have the article prefixed it gives a peculiar force and beauty to the expression The allusion is to a marriage garment of the richest and most splendid appearance. To take in the full idiom of the expression it would require to be rendered thus: ‘Who are these clothed in the richest marriage robes, in robes of the purest white?'"}

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sor/revelation-7.html.

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

The elder put his statement in the form of a question to gain the attention of John. The ones ar- ru;/etl in zrltitc robes were those in Revelation 6:11 and those of the twelve tribes in this chapter.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-7.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 7:13

Revelation 7:13-14 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And I said unto him, Sirach, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

These two verses contain in inquiry and an answer unto it, made by one of the twenty four elders. He inquired, first, who they where, and secondly, whence they came; unto whom John replied,

Sirach, thou knowest:

As if he had said, Sirach, I know not but thou dost certainly know. The elder's reply, for John's information consists of two particulars. First, he told him whence they came,

These are they that came out of great tribulation;

that Isaiah, persecution, and all kind of sufferings for Christ and the gospel, under the Roman pagan anti-Christian emperors, that the Christians endured. Secondly, he testified their present state;

And have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Which they did, first, by faith, applying the precious blood of Jesus, in the promises of the new-covenant of grace: And secondly, by sufferings, wherein they overcame all their persecutors; viz. Satan and all his instruments, by the blood of Christ, and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death. { Revelation 12:11}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-7.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 7:13. And one of the elders answered and said to me: Who are these clothed with white robes? And whence came they? Expositors for the most part remark here superficially, that answer stands for, commenced to speak. Bengel, however, gave the correct view: "John had not indeed asked, but certainly desired to know, who the persons in white robes were. And this desire of his was met by the elder." A question can be asked otherwise than by a word. John's whole conduct betrayed that he burned with desire to get an exact account of the attractive appearance of the persons in white clothing. The answer to the silent question is thrown into the form of a verbal question, with the view simply of calling forth John's express request for information, and the confession of his own inability. Bengel: "It not only requires one who knows something to ask, but there must also be a fit opportunity for one who would communicate any thing to another, if he commences with a question, as was the case with our Lord in his wise procedure toward his disciples, the Samaritan woman, and others. In such a manner one can often get at the heart, and loose a man's tongue, who could not find his way to it before, so that he is glad at the circumstance." The who and whence art thou, was in ancient times the regular question to friends on their arrival.[Note: See, for example, Homer, Od. v. 104: ξεῖ νε τὸ μεν σε πρῶ τον ἐ γὼ ν εἰ ρή σομαι αὐ τὴ τί ς· πό θεν εἰ ς ἀ νδρῶ ν; πό θε τοι πό λις ἠ δὲ τοκῆ ες. Other passages may be seen in Wolf's Curse]. The questions are afterwards answered in the reverse order, first the whence, then the who.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-7.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

d. ELDER’S explanation, and glorious picture of their HEAVENLY STATE, Revelation 7:13-17.

13.One of the elders—It was fitting that one of the representatives of the Church should unfold the mysteries of the Church triumphant. Nor must we puzzle ourselves to know how one of the circle of elders, enveloped in the crowd of the great multitude, and that girt round with the circle of countless angels, could address an outsider, as John, who stands surveying the whole assemblage. Allow the freedom of a celestial vision. The inner circles within the outer circles can transparently be seen with the supernatural eye, for the outer circles are transparent, though visible to its glance. And in the spirit-land distance is no obstacle to utterance and hearing. Celestials (and John was now a pro tem. celestial) can converse without voice, by pure impartation of thought. See our note on 2 Corinthians 12:4.

Answered—He answered the unuttered questionings expressed in John’s eyes. So in Acts 3:12, Peter answered the “wondering” of the crowd in Solomon’s porch.

What—The angel answers by first stating John’s mental question. The Greek is more elegant than our English. These, the arrayed in robes white, who are they, and whence came they? “In this,” says Bede, “he interrogates that he may teach.” Often the most skilful interrogator is the wisest teacher. Wetstein remarks that these questions occur in both Homer and Virgil as the ordinary queries put by ancient hospitality to strangers. Such was the early habit in America, as foreign travellers often tauntingly reported. Yet one English traveller justly remarked, that such questions had a different sound in our Western wilds from similar ones in the streets of London.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-7.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 7:13. “And one of the elders addressed me, saying”; for similar openings of a dialogue, see Jeremiah 1:11, Zechariah 4:2. Perhaps, like Dante (Parad. iv. 10–12), John although silent showed desire painted on his face. The form of inquiry resembles Homer’s ; or Vergil’s qui genus? unde domo?, more closely still the similar sentences which recur in Hermas. See throughout, Zechariah 4:1; Zechariah 4:6, and Asc. Isa. ix. 25, 26 (and I said to the angel “For whom are these robes and thrones and crowns reserved?” And he said to me: “They shall be missed by many who believe the words of him of whom I told thee [i.e., Antichrist]”; also 11:40, uos autem uigilate in sancto spiritu ut recipiatis stolam uestram et thronos et coronas gloriae in caelo iacentes). It is the origin and character, not the number, of the company which interests the prophet.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-7.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

13. One of the elders asked me. He asks this to focus John’s attention on the great crowd of people.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 7:13". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-7.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.