Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 7:14

I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ablution;   Afflictions and Adversities;   Angel (a Spirit);   Atonement;   Blood;   Colors;   Garment;   Heaven;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Lamb of God;   Persecution;   Reward;   Righteous;   Sanctification;   Throne;   Scofield Reference Index - Conversion;   Saints;   Summary;   Tribulation;   Thompson Chain Reference - Abundant Salvation;   Afflicted, Promises, Divine;   Afflictions;   Blessings-Afflictions;   Blood;   Christ;   Cleansing;   Defilement-Cleansing;   Future, the;   God's;   Preparation;   Promises, Divine;   Purification of Heart;   Readiness-Unreadiness;   Salvation;   Saved, the;   Trials;   Tribulation;   The Topic Concordance - Following;   Hunger;   Service;   Thirst;   Tribulation;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Affliction, Consolation under;   Afflictions;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Garments;   Mourning;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Blood;   Lamb;   Water;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Clean, Unclean;   Color, Symbolic Meaning of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Order;   Easton Bible Dictionary - White;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Feasts;   Frankincense;   Fuller;   Joseph;   Sardis;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Tribulation;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Hope;   Joy;   Revelation, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Atonement (2);   Baptism;   Blood;   Clothes;   Colours;   Comfort;   Death of Christ;   Evil;   Heaven;   Israel;   Lamb;   Palm Tree;   Parousia;   Propitiation (2);   Revelation, Book of;   Sacrifice;   Salvation Save Saviour;   Tribes ;   Tribulation;   Type;   Walk (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Lamb;   Tribulation;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Blood;   Washing;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Lamb;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Wash;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Affliction;   Color;   Immortal;   Revelation of John:;   Sanctification;   Sir;   Tribulation;   Wash;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for December 21;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Sir, thou knowest - That is, I do not know, but thou canst inform me.

Came out of great tribulation - Persecutions of every kind.

And have washed their robes - Have obtained their pardon and purity, through the blood of the Lamb.

Their white robes cannot mean the righteousness of Christ, for this cannot be washed and made white in his own blood. This white linen is said to be the righteousness of the saints, Revelation 19:8, and this is the righteousness in which they stand before the throne; therefore it is not Christ's righteousness, but it is a righteousness wrought in them by the merit of his blood, and the power of his Spirit.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-7.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest - The word “sir” in this place - κύριέ kurie“lord” - is a form of respectful address, such as would be used when speaking to a superior, Genesis 43:20; Matthew 13:27; Matthew 21:30; Matthew 27:63; John 4:11, John 4:15, John 4:19, John 4:49; John 5:7; John 12:21; John 20:15. The simple meaning of the phrase “thou knowest” is, that he who had asked the question must be better informed than he to whom he had proposed it. It is, on the part of John, a modest confession that he did not know, or could not be presumed to know, and at the same time the respectful utterance of an opinion that he who addressed this question to him must be in possession of this knowledge.

And he said unto me - Not offended with the reply, and ready, as he had evidently intended to do, to give him the information which he needed.

These are they which came out of great tribulation - The word rendered “tribulation” - θλίψις thlipsis- is a word of general character, meaning “affliction,” though perhaps there is here an allusion to persecution. The sense, however, would be better expressed by the phrase great trials. The object seems to have been to set before the mind of the apostle a view of those who had suffered much, and who by their sufferings had been sanctified and prepared for heaven, in order to encourage those who might be yet called to suffer.

And have washed their robes - To wit, in the blood of the Lamb.

And made them white in the blood of the Lamb - There is some incongruity in saying that they had made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and the meaning therefore must be, that they had cleansed or purified them in that blood. Under the ancient ritual, various things about the sanctuary were cleansed from ceremonial defilement by the sprinkling of blood on them - the blood of sacrifice. In accordance with that usage, the blood of the Lamb - of the Lord Jesus - is said to cleanse and purify. John sees a great company with white robes. The means by which it is said they became white or pure is the blood of the Lamb. It is not said that they were made white as the result of their sufferings or their afflictions but by the blood of the Lamb. The course of thought here is such that it would be natural to suppose that, if at any time the great deeds or the sufferings of the saints could contribute to the fact that they will wear white robes in heaven, this is an occasion on which there might be such a reference.

But there is no allusion to that. It is not by their own sufferings and trials, their persecutions and sorrows, that they are made holy, but by the blood of the Lamb that had been shed for sinners. This reference to the blood of the Lamb is one of the incidental proofs that occur so frequently in the Scriptures of the reality of the atonement. It could be only in allusion to that, and with an implied belief in that, that the blood of the Lamb could be referred to as cleansing the robes of the saints in heaven. If he sheds his blood merely as other people have done; if he died only as a martyr, what propriety would there have been in referring to his blood more than to the blood of any other martyr? And what influence could the blood of any martyr have in cleansing the robes of the saints in heaven? The fact is, that if that were all, such language would be unmeaning. It is never used except in connection with the blood of Christ; and the language of the Bible everywhere is such as would be employed on the supposition that he shed his blood to make expiation for sin, and on no other supposition. On the general meaning of the language used here, and the sentiment expressed, see the Hebrews 9:14 note and 1 John 1:7 note.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-7.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And I say unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said unto me, These are they that came out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Lord, thou knowest ... The very fact of the elder's asking John of their identity suggests that John probably understood who they were and whence they came; but, as being appropriate for one still under probation, the apostle refrained from saying so, his response, "Lord, thou knowest," being noncommittal. It is a gross misunderstanding to make John's respectful reply here the basis of denying that one of the Twelve is the author through whom this prophecy came.

These are they that came out of the great tribulation ... This verse is the principal proof-text for sponsors of the Great Tribulation theory; but the words "they that came are translated from the present middle participle, meaning they continue to come."[52] Bruce translated this, "These are the comers.[53] This positively identifies the "coming" of these white-robed saints w dispensation. "The whole history of the church is a time of tribulation.[54] "The Great Ordeal (tribulation) is a prolonged process, which from John's temporal standpoint was partly past and partly future."[55] Right here is the key to Revelation 1:19. Many of the scenes in Revelation mingle visions of things past, present, and future simultaneously. Any neat little scheme of making one section of Revelation past, another present, and yet another future, collapses in a careful understanding of the text. We agree with Beckwith that, "There is nothing here which points to any one particular distress."[56]

And they washed their robes ... The undeniable reference in this is to the conversion of the saints at the time of their residence upon the earth. Thompson stated that, "The understanding of this passage derives from such Scriptures as Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; and Titus 3:5,[57] all of which refer to primary obedience to the gospel, the unique manner by which anyone since Pentecost was ever able, in any sense, to "wash" his robes in the blood of Christ. This is a metaphor, but it surely stresses the part which sinners themselves have in their own salvation. They must obey the gospel. Note that it is said, "They washed," a reference to what one must do to be saved. Christ provides the means of our redemption, but he requires of people that they appropriate the blessings of it through obedience. All of the apostles taught this same truth. Peter, on Pentecost, commanded those who wished to be saved to "Repent and have yourselves baptized ... save yourselves from this crooked generation" (Acts 2:38,40). "Save yourselves ... wash your robes," etc., all such passages stress the human response in salvation.

Again, note the doxology of Revelation 7:12, which was being spoken by this white-robed throng. When they praised the Lord for salvation, they spoke not of what they had done (though they could not have been saved without it), but of the blood of the Lamb.

"The great tribulation of this passage is the persecution of the followers of Christ which broke in such intense malignity in John's day and continues until the ultimate triumph of Christ.[58] The following verses, designed to comfort and encourage the suffering church, must be understood with reference to the dark background of persecutions.

[52] James D. Strauss, op. cit., p. 126.

[53] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 646.

[54] James William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 631.

[55] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 102.

[56] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 545.

[57] W. S. Thompson, Comments on Revelation (Memphis, Tennessee: Southern Church Publications, 1957), p. 85.

[58] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 646.

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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 7:14". "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 I said unto him, sir, thou knowest,.... John replies in a very humble, modest, and respectful manner, to the elder, calling him "sir", according to the usage of the eastern people; and it is observable, that this word is much used in his Gospel, and more than in any other book; see John 4:11. Some copies, and the Complutensian edition, read, "my Lord"; and so do the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions. John confesses his ignorance, and ascribes knowledge to the elder, and desires information of him; for the sense is, that the elder knew who they were, and from whence they came, but he did not, and therefore desires that he would inform him; and so the Arabic version renders it, "and my Lord, thou art more learned"; that is, than I am, and therefore instruct me, as he accordingly did;

and he said to me, these are they which came out of great tribulation: seeing this company designs all the elect of God, that ever were, are, or shall be in the world; "the great tribulation", out of which they came, is not to be restrained to any particular time of trouble, but includes all that has been, is, or shall be; as all the afflictions of the saints under the Old Testament; from righteous Abel to Zechariah; and all the troubles of the people of God in the times of the Maccabees, Hebrews 11:35; all the persecutions of the Christians by the Jews, at the first publication of the Gospel; and the persecutions under the Roman emperors, both Pagan and Arian; and the cruelties and barbarities of the Romish antichrist, during the whole time of the apostasy; and particularly the last struggle of the beast, which will be the hour of temptation, that will come upon all the world; and in general all the afflictions, reproaches, persecutions, and many tribulations of all the saints, and every member of Christ in this world, who in the new Jerusalem church state will be come out of them; which supposes them to have been in them, and yet were not overwhelmed by them, and lost in them; but, by divine support and assistance, waded through them, and were now quite clear of them, and never more to be annoyed with them; see Revelation 21:4.

And have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; not in the blood of bulls and goats, which could not take away sin; nor in their own blood, their sufferings for Christ, on which they did not depend, knowing there is no comparison between them, and the glory revealed in them; nor in any works of righteousness done by them, which are imperfect and filthy, and need washing; but in the blood of Christ, which cleanseth from all sin. The "robes" which they washed in his blood may either design themselves, their consciences, which this blood purges from dead works; or their outward conversation garments, which have their spots, and need continual washing; or else the robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation, or their justification, which is by the blood of Christ, Romans 5:9. The act of washing from sin, by the blood of Christ, is sometimes ascribed to Christ himself, as in Revelation 1:5; but here to the saints, and designs the concern which faith has in the blood of Christ, which deals with it for justification, peace, and pardon, for the removing of sin from the conscience, and for cleansing from all impurity, both of flesh and Spirit: and the effect of this is, that their robes were "made white"; that is, that they were freed from all sin, were without fault before the throne, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. This shows that these persons had no trust in themselves, or dependence on their own merits, and works of righteousness, but wholly trusted to, and depended on the blood and righteousness of Christ; which is the only way to come out of tribulation, and enter the kingdom.

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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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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-7.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, 11 These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

(11) The explanation of the vision, in which the angel tells first the acts of the saints, that is, their sufferings and work of faith in Christ Jesus, in this verse. Secondly their glory: both present, which consists in two things, that they minister to God, and that God protects them (Revelation 7:15) and to come, in their perfect deliverance from all annoyances (Revelation 7:16) and in participation of all good things which the memory of past hurts shall never be able to diminish (Revelation 7:17). The cause efficient and which contains all these things is only one, the Lamb of God, the Lord, the Mediator, and the Saviour Christ Jesus.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-7.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

SirGreek, “Lord.” B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic versions, and Cyprian read, “My Lord.” A omits “My,” as English Version.

thou knowest — taken from Ezekiel 37:3. Comparatively ignorant ourselves of divine things, it is well for us to look upward for divinely communicated knowledge.

came — rather as Greek, “come”; implying that they are just come.

great tribulationGreek, “THE great tribulation”; “the tribulation, the great one,” namely, the tribulation to which the martyrs were exposed under the fifth seal, the same which Christ foretells as about to precede His coming (Matthew 24:21, great tribulation), and followed by the same signs as the sixth seal (Matthew 24:29, Matthew 24:30), compare Daniel 12:1; including also retrospectively all the tribulation which the saints of all ages have had to pass through. Thus this seventh chapter is a recapitulation of the vision of the six seals, Revelation 6:1-17, to fill up the outline there given in that part of it which affects the faithful of that day. There, however, their number was waiting to be completed, but here it is completed, and they are seen taken out of the earth before the judgments on the Antichristian apostasy; with their Lord, they, and all His faithful witnesses and disciples of past ages, wait for His coming and their coming to be glorified and reign together with Him. Meanwhile, in contrast with their previous sufferings, they are exempt from the hunger, thirst, and scorching heats of their life on earth (Revelation 7:16), and are fed and refreshed by the Lamb of God Himself (Revelation 7:17; Revelation 14:1-4, Revelation 14:13); an earnest of their future perfect blessedness in both body and soul united (Revelation 21:4-6; Revelation 22:1-5).

washed  …  robes  …  white in the blood of  …  Lamb — (Revelation 1:5; Isaiah 1:18; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; compare Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:3-5). Faith applies to the heart the purifying blood; once for all for justification, continually throughout the life for sanctification.

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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.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "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

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 Philippians 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.

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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 7:14". "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

I said ( εἴρηκα )

Lit., I have said. Rev., renders by the present, I say. See on cried, John 1:15.

Sir ( κύριε )

Add μου myand render, as Rev., my Lord. An address of reverence as to a heavenly being. See on Matthew 21:3.

Which came ( οἱ ἐρχόμενοι )

The present participle. Hence, as Rev., which come.

Out of great tribulation ( ἐκ τῆς θλίψεως τῆς μεγάλης )

Lit., out of the tribulation, the great (tribulation). Rev., properly, gives the force of the article, “the great.” See on Matthew 13:21.

Have washed ( ἔπλυναν )

The aorist tense. Rev., correctly, they washed. Only here and Luke 5:2, on which see note. For the New Testament words for washing, see on Acts 16:33.

Made them white

Compare Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:7; Mark 9:3. Milligan remarks that robes are the expression of character, and compares the word habit used of dress.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "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 I said unto him, Sir, 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.

My lord — Or, my master; a common term of respect. So Zechariah, likewise, bespeaks the angel, Zechariah 1:9; 4:4; 6:4.

Thou knowest — That is, I know not; but thou dost.

These are they — Not martyrs; for these are not such a multitude as no man can number. But as all the angels appear here, so do all the souls of the righteous who had lived from the beginning of the world.

Who come — He does not say, who did come; but, who come now also: to whom, likewise, pertain all who will come hereafter.

Out of great affliction — Of various kinds, wisely and graciously allotted by God to all his children.

And have washed their robes — From all guilt.

And made them white — In all holiness.

By the blood of the Lamb — Which not only cleanses, but adorns us also.

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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 7:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-7.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

tribulation

The great tribulation is the period of unexampled trouble predicted in the passages cited under that head from Psalms 2:5 to Revelation 7:14 and described in Revelation 11-18. Involving in a measure the whole earth Revelation 3:10 it is yet distinctly "the time of Jacob's trouble" Jeremiah 30:7 and its vortex Jerusalem and the Holy Land. It involves the people of God who will have returned to Palestine in unbelief. Its duration is three and a half years, or the last half of the seventieth week of Daniel. (See Scofield "Daniel 9:24"). Revelation 11:2; Revelation 11:3 The elements of the tribulation are:

(1) The cruel reign of the "beast out of the sea" Revelation 13:1 who at the beginning of the three and a half years, will break his covenant with the Jews (by virtue of which they will have re-established the temple worship, Daniel 9:27 and show himself in the temple, demanding that he be worshipped as God; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

(2) The active interposition of Satan "having great wrath" Revelation 12:12 who gives his power to the Beast Revelation 13:4; Revelation 13:5.

(3) The unprecedented activity of demons Revelation 9:2; Revelation 9:11 and

(4) the terrible "bowl" judgments of Revelation 16.

The great tribulation will be, however, a period of salvation. An election out of Israel is seen as sealed for God Revelation 7:4-8 and, with an innumerable multitude of Gentiles Revelation 7:9 are said to have come "out of the great tribulation" Revelation 7:14. They are not of the priesthood, the church, to which they seem to stand somewhat in the relation of the Levites to the priests under the Mosaic Covenant. The great tribulation is immediately followed by the return of Christ in glory, and the events associated therewith Matthew 24:29; Matthew 24:30.

See "Remnant" Isaiah 1:9.

(See Scofield "Romans 11:5"). "Beast" See Scofield "Daniel 9:24" See Scofield "Revelation 19:20" "Armageddon" Revelation 16:14. See Scofield "Revelation 19:17".

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Revelation 7:14". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/revelation-7.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

14 And I said unto him, Sir, 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.

Ver. 14. Which came out of great tribulation] It is but a delicacy that men dream of to divide Christ and his cross. The bishop of London, when he had degraded Richard Bayfield, martyr, kneeling upon the highest step of the altar, he smote him so hard on the breast with his crosier staff, that he threw him down backward, and brake his head so that he swooned; and when he came to himself again, he thanked God that he was delivered from the malignant Church of Antichrist, and that he was come into the true Church of Christ militant, and I hope shall be anon with him in the Church triumphant. (Acts and Mon.)

And made them white] Other blood stains what is washed in it; this blood of the spotless Lamb whitens and purifies.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-7.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 7:14

We owe very little debt to those who take this out of the grand signification, and say that it belongs to the "multitudes" of Constantine, or the "Constantine age." I would far rather keep to the simple ideas of my childhood, and see in it nothing but a beautiful description of the saints in heaven. Now of all these beautiful words perhaps the most important, certainly the most instructive, is the word "therefore." For this is what we want to know, not, Are they happy? or, What do they? All that we may leave. There is no doubt about that. But why are they there? How did they come there? This is the question which concerns us.

I. And so I ask, Where in the sentence does "therefore" come? I observe that it comes after two things: "tribulation" and "washing," but directly and strictly only after "washing." We might disconnect the latter part of the sentence from the "tribulation," but we could not separate it from the "washing." The order might be that the "tribulation" leads to the "washing," and the "washing" leads to the glory. But it could not be the "tribulation" without the "washing," though it might be the "washing" without the "tribulation." Never think that affliction takes anybody to heaven. It very often conducts further from it. Affliction may lead to the fountain, and the fountain is in the road to the throne. If you go to the fountain, you will at last find yourself before the throne. But "tribulation," whatever it be, saves no one. Only "the washing the robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb" ever does that.

II. It is very easy to misunderstand that word "tribulation." It sounds like something so very severe. But what I wish to point out is this: that the text does not say that the experience of saints must be very bitter, or the pain very intense. The word used is "friction," the rubbing which goes to make the fine polish or the exquisite edge. And it amounts to this: "These are they which came out of the refining processes of great friction." And what Christian has not friction?—the friction of his two natures clashing; the friction of his besetting sins; the friction of some character in the world with whom he has to do; the friction of some daily duty; the friction of a constant uneasiness; the friction of some weary trial, some continual sore. If there be no more, there is that. And that at least must be. It may not be of many sorts, or it may not be of great importance; but we have it twice—in St. Paul's exhortation to the Churches of Asia Minor and the elder's testimony to St. John—"We must through much friction"—it is the same word—"We must through much friction enter into the kingdom of God." It may be a comfort to some who have no overwhelming griefs, but who have abundance of wearing, harassing vexations, that even in that they may fulfil the condition.

III. But if the "tribulation" be the inevitable accompaniment, the cleansing is the essential and the primary cause of all saintship. For then has the "tribulation" done its work, when it has humbled and emptied the heart to such a sinking sense of sin as drives it to the fountain of the cross of Jesus. "They washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." In the great temple of nature and truth; in the holy places of His handiwork; in the holiest of holies, in His Church, by day, after our feeble power, and by night, when we glorify God by our resting; in the sunshine of the consciousness of saints and the shadows of pain and impotence, we serve God; and this service of ours goes up acceptably through the very same perfume and the same incense of Jesus which makes the service of angels acceptable. And He who is present there is present here; and they know that we have Him, and we know that they have Him. They are perfect reflectors; we are imperfect reflectors. And these, the service, and the presence, and the image, are to be for ever and for ever; and they make "the communion of the saints."

J. Vaughan, Sermons, 14th series, p. 101.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/revelation-7.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 7:14. They which came out of great tribulation, That is, faithful confessors, who had endured in the cause of true religion.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-7.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

John confessing his own ignorance, applies himself to this elder for instruction, who tells him: These were the souls of them that came out of great sufferings and persecution; but he addeth, that they were such as were washed in the blood of Christ. Suffering will not bring us to heaven without having our souls washed with the blood of Christ.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". 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

от великой скорби См. пояснения к 3:10; 6:1, 9, 12. Эти люди не принадлежали к Божьей Церкви, так как они не были еще спасены. В течение 7 лет они будут спасены через мучения и смерть и войдут на небеса. Хотя это будет время беспримерного суда, это также время беспримерной милости в спасении (ср. Мф. 24:12-14).

омыли одежды свои Ср. 19:8. Имеется в виду спасительное очищение (см. Тит. 2:11-14).

Кровию Агнца Это означает искупительную жертву Христа (ср. 1:5; 5:9; Рим. 3:24, 25; 5:9).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-7.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Great tribulation; distressing trials which they endured on account of their religion.

Made them white in the blood of the Lamb; cleansed from sin and made righteous, through faith in the atoning blood and perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-7.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“These are those who are coming out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

The elder answers his own questions. All through the present tribulation and the greater tribulations to come Christians will be dying, but now they know that they need not fear. For it is to this that they will come.

‘Those who are coming’, the present participle. We may be intended to read it as ‘the coming ones who have come’. It is quite probable that this scene occurs after the resurrection, and includes all God’s people, for they are now not ‘under the altar’ (Revelation 6:9) but active in Heaven. Thus it could include those who have been ‘raptured’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The present tenses need not militate against this, for the vision could be revealing the future situation of those who are at present ‘coming out of great tribulation’. But the primary lesson of the passage is to those who must face tribulation, (and we must remember that even today many Christians around the world do face great tribulation), assuring them of their final guaranteed place in Heaven.

‘The great tribulation’. As mentioned above this refers to the period that John is forecasting as soon to come for the people of his day, and the definite article (‘the’) refers back to the message to the church at Thyatira. This is not specifically the ‘great tribulation’ spoken of by Jesus, for that referred to events in Palestine. It is looking at what John will later describe in more detail, the great tribulation which would necessarily affect the church in the near future through both persecution and tumultuous events.

John wants God’s people to know that although such great tribulation is coming, and persecution is coming for them, they need not be afraid because of Whose they are. This ‘great tribulation’ is thus wider in scope than tribulation already experienced by the churches. Later in the book we will indeed see the great tribulation that the world must face, and would face constantly through the ages. Christians also must experience some of its effects. But we know from this chapter that they are under God’s protection.

We can compare how Jesus Himself spoke of the tribulation that would come on the Jews through the ages (Luke 21:24). Thus tribulation will come to the church, to the world and to the Jews. (It has nothing directly to do with a ‘Great Tribulation’ at the end of the age which as such is not specifically spoke of in Scripture. But tribulation is the lot of both the church and the world, especially in the Near and Middle East, and there will no doubt be tribulation towards the end. ‘To the end wars and desolations are determined’ (Daniel 9:26)).

‘They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ These are not the white robes given to overcomers. These are representative of their own inner and outward appearance. While these garments had been somewhat marred, they are now pure and clean. But how did they wash them? Not through baptism for baptism is never directly stated to be a washing. (To John the Baptiser and Jesus it is a picture of the lifegiving activity of the Spirit in operation like the rain in nature. To Paul it is a dying and rising again in Christ. Neither see it as washing). Rather the washing here is ‘the washing of water by the word’ which sanctifies and cleanses (Ephesians 5:26), and ‘the washing of regeneration’ (Titus 3:5). It is the new birth that cleanses the people of God, followed by their receiving and obeying the word of God. This is why the church as the bride of Christ will wear garments which represent ‘the righteous doings of the saints’ (Revelation 19:8), for true faith results in true action. It is this new birth that has made them fit to stand before God.

Furthermore they have used a special whitener, they have been ‘made white in the blood of the Lamb’. The blood is not seen as washing but as adding extra whiteness. In the words of Isaiah 1:18, ‘though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow’. It is ultimately through Christ’s death that they are fitted for the Father’s presence.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-7.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John did not know the identity of these individuals, so the elder told him who they were. They are "those who are coming out from the great tribulation." Jesus coined the term "the Great Tribulation" ( Matthew 24:15; Matthew 24:21) and identified it as the second half of Daniel"s seventieth week ( Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20; cf. Daniel 9:27). Positioned as this vision is just before the midpoint of the Tribulation, before the Great Tribulation begins, the elder must have meant that this multitude came out of the Great Tribulation before it began. The Greek preposition ek ("out of") permits such an interpretation. Another possibility is that the elder meant that these saints came out during the Great Tribulation, which the Greek preposition allows but the placement of this vision between the sixth and seventh seals does not favor. A third view is that they departed after the Great Tribulation was complete. [Note: Rosenthal, p185.] This is unacceptable for two reasons. First, the Greek verb erchomenoi ("are coming") is a present participle indicating an ongoing departure. Second, this view makes an unwarranted distinction between the Great Tribulation and the outpouring of God"s wrath. God promised to keep Christians completely out of the Tribulation ( Revelation 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; et al.), but these Tribulation saints come out of the first part of it while it is in progress. [Note: Smith, A Revelation . . ., p135.]

Washing their robes in the Lamb"s blood is a figure of speech for salvation ( Revelation 22:14; cf. Zechariah 3:4-5). Another interpretation is that "washed their robes" is a figurative expression picturing that they had purified their deeds ( Revelation 22:14; cf. Revelation 19:8). This would make the entire passage ( Revelation 7:14-17) a description of faithful Tribulation saints instead of all Tribulation saints. The issue hinges on whether "robe" represents the believer"s garment of salvation or his good works here. Scripture uses "robe" both ways elsewhere. Since all the redeemed will eventually go into God"s presence, it seems unwarranted to limit this innumerable multitude to faithful saints. The fact that they died during the first half of the Tribulation does not necessarily mean that they were all martyrs who died for their testimony as believers. An amillennial interpretation is that this as a picture of all Christians who suffer in various ways for their faith. [Note: Beale, p433. See Richard Shalom Yates, "Studies on the Tribulation Saints," Bibliotheca Sacra163:649 (January-March2006)79-93; 163:650 (April-June2006):215-33; 163:651 (July-September2006):322-34, for a thorough study of Tribulation saints.]

"In modern thought, making anything white by washing it in blood is paradoxical and even shocking, but it was not so with John and those with an OT background. To them such washing denoted spiritual purity. Not just any blood would accomplish the cleansing. The blood of martyrs shed for the Lamb"s sake would not even do it. It had to be the blood of the Lamb"s great sacrifice to produce the whiteness ( Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9; cf. Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 1:7) ..." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 1-7, p498.]

The en ("in") has instrumental force here; Christ"s blood is what made their robes white. Contrast Revelation 12:11 where dia ("because of") expresses the means of victory, namely, His blood and their faithfulness. Blood is a metaphor for violent death.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-7.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

White in the blood of the Lamb. That is, they have been cleansed and purified from sin, by the death, merits, and grace of Christ crucified. (Witham) --- The whole of this verse must be understood in a mystical sense, for we are said to make our garments white in the blood of the Lamb, when we enter into his Church by baptism, or wash away our sins by penance or martyrdom. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-7.html. 1859.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Instead of "they which came," this would be better rendered, "they which are coming." Notice again, the tribulation was already a reality when John wrote. (Revelation 1:9) We wash our robes in Jesus" blood when we put him on in baptism. (Acts 22:16) Hailey notes the word washed is active, which indicates there is something for them to do. (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-5) Yet, in verse 10 they gave praise to God for salvation.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-7.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Sir. Most texts read "My lord".

knowest. See App-132.

which came = who come.

out of. App-104.

great, &c. = the great, &c. Compare Matthew 24:21. See Jeremiah 30:5-7. Daniel 12:1. Nothing to do with Christ"s sufferings and death on the cross.

have. Omit.

washed. Greek. pluno. Only here. App-136. Septuagint uses in Psalms 51:2, Psalms 51:7 for Hebrew. kabas. These wash "their own robes" the standing of works, not of grace. For latter see 1 Corinthians 6:11.

in = by. i.e. by virtue of, the en being here the efficient cause. App-104. See Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9, and App-95, note 2, "washing in blood".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "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 I said unto him, Sir, 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.

Sir - `Lord.' 'Aleph (') B C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, Cyprian, read, 'My Lord.' A omits 'My.'

Thou knowest - from Ezekiel 37:3. Comparatively ignorant ourselves, we ought to look upwards for divine knowledge.

Came - `come:' implying, they are just come.

Great tribulation, [ tees (Greek #3588) thlipseoos (Greek #2347) tees (Greek #3588) megalees (Greek #3173)] - 'THE great tribulation:' 'the tribulation, the great one,' to which the martyrs were exposed under the fifth seal; which, Christ says, is to precede His coming (Matthew 24:21; Matthew 24:29-30, "great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world"), followed by the same signs as the sixth seal: cf. Daniel 12:1 : the climax including all the tribulation which saints of all ages have passed through. This Revelation 7:1-17 recapitulates the vision of the six seals, Revelation 6:1-17 filling up the outline there in what affects the faithful. There, however, their number was waiting to be completed; here it is completed; they are taken out of the earth before the judgments on the anti-Christian apostasy: with their Lord, they, and all His faithful witnesses of past ages, wait for His and their coming to be glorified and reign together. Meanwhile, in contrast with their previous sufferings, they are exempt from the hunger, thirst, and scorching heats of their earthly life (Revelation 7:16), and are refreshed by the Lamb of God Himself (Revelation 7:17; Revelation 14:1-4; Revelation 14:13): an earnest of the post-millennial final state (Revelation 21:4-6; Revelation 22:1-5).

Washed their robes ... white in the blood of the Lamb - (Isaiah 1:18; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5 : cf. Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:3-5.) Faith applies to the heart the purifying blood; once for all for justification, continually throughout life for sanctification.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "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

(14) And I said unto him . . .—The form in which the answer of the seer is given shows how completely the elder had anticipated his thoughts; for he describes his reply as instantaneous. And I have said, My Lord—the language is that of reverent regard, but not of worship (see Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8-9)—thou knowest—i.e., it is for thee to tell me: thy knowledge and thy view-point is higher than mine; thou knowest: it is thine to speak, and mine to hearken.

And he said to me . . .—Read, And he said to me, These are they who come (the present tense is used: these are those coming) out of the great tribulation. They are those who come, not all at once, but gradually. The saints of God are continually passing into the unseen world, and taking their place among the spirits of just men made perfect. They come out of the great tribulation. Are we to limit the expression to the special and peculiar afflictions of the last great trial? There is no doubt about the emphasis which the definite article (unfortunately, ignored in our English version) gives: it is the great tribulation; but while there may yet be in store for the Church of Christ trials so great that they may be called, in comparison with those which went before, the great tribulation, it yet seems out of harmony with the spirit of the Apocalypse and the complexion of this vision to limit the phrase to some special season of trial. Is not the great tribulation the tribulation which those must encounter who are on the side of Christ and righteousness, and refuse to receive the mark of worldliness and sin on their heart, conscience, and life? In all ages it is true that we must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God; and the vision here is surely not of those who will come safe out of some particular trials, but of the great multitude from every age and every race who waged war against sin, and who, in the midst of that protracted conflict, endured the great tribulation which is to continue until Christ’s return. And they washed (not “have washed,” for the washing was done during their earthly life) their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The imagery is to be found in the Gospel and in the Epistle (John 13:8-11; and 1 John 1:7); its use here and in Revelation 1:5 (if the reading washed is to be preferred to loosed) points to a common authorship: the emblem of the blood which washes white, or cleanses, is not used with such distinctness elsewhere in the New Testament. It is, in St. John’s lips, but a following out of the twice-repeated words which he quotes from John the Baptist at the opening of the Gospel, when he proclaimed Christ to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” In that Lamb of God those who came out of great tribulation found the forgiveness and the spiritual power which gave them confidence and hope in the midst of life’s war and life’s weariness; for the man who knows that he is forgiven and that he is being helped to holiness is the man who thinks no fiery trial strange, but rejoices in the knowledge that his salvation is of God.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-7.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I said unto him, Sir, 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.
thou
Exodus 37:3
came
2:9; 6:9-11; 15:2; 17:6; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4
and have
1:5; Isaiah 1:18; Zechariah 3:3-5; 13:1; John 13:8-14; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26,27; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7
the blood
5:9; 12:11; Hebrews 13:12; 1 Peter 1:19
Reciprocal: Genesis 22:8 - GeneralGenesis 49:11 - he washed;  Exodus 19:10 - wash;  Leviticus 8:6 - washed;  Leviticus 8:30 - the anointing;  Leviticus 11:25 - and be unclean;  Leviticus 14:8 - wash his;  Leviticus 15:5 - GeneralLeviticus 15:21 - GeneralLeviticus 17:15 - both wash;  Numbers 8:7 - wash their;  Numbers 19:12 - He shall purify;  1 Samuel 26:24 - let him deliver;  1 Kings 7:38 - ten lavers;  2 Kings 5:13 - Wash;  2 Chronicles 4:2 - a molten sea;  2 Chronicles 4:6 - but the sea;  Job 11:16 - Because;  Psalm 15:1 - Lord;  Psalm 30:11 - turned;  Psalm 34:6 - saved;  Psalm 34:19 - Many;  Psalm 51:2 - Wash;  Psalm 51:7 - whiter;  Psalm 57:1 - until;  Psalm 66:12 - but thou;  Psalm 71:20 - which;  Psalm 72:16 - of the city;  Psalm 84:6 - Who;  Psalm 90:15 - Make;  Psalm 140:13 - the upright;  Psalm 143:11 - bring;  Psalm 149:4 - beautify;  Proverbs 13:19 - The desire;  Ecclesiastes 9:8 - thy garments;  Isaiah 1:16 - Wash;  Ezekiel 36:25 - filthiness;  Daniel 7:16 - one;  Daniel 11:33 - yet;  Daniel 12:10 - shall be;  Zechariah 1:9 - what;  Zechariah 1:19 - What;  Zechariah 3:4 - Take;  Zechariah 4:4 - What;  Malachi 3:2 - like fullers';  Matthew 1:21 - for;  Matthew 5:4 - GeneralMatthew 6:13 - deliver;  Matthew 24:9 - shall they;  Matthew 26:28 - shed;  Mark 8:35 - will save;  Mark 9:3 - exceeding;  Luke 9:31 - spake;  Luke 15:22 - the best;  Luke 16:25 - likewise;  John 1:29 - Behold;  John 13:5 - to wash;  John 16:20 - your;  John 17:24 - I will;  John 19:34 - came;  John 20:12 - in;  Acts 1:10 - two;  Acts 7:10 - delivered;  Romans 3:24 - through;  Romans 4:25 - Who was;  Romans 5:15 - hath;  Romans 8:10 - but;  Romans 8:35 - shall tribulation;  2 Corinthians 5:8 - present;  Galatians 2:16 - we have;  Galatians 3:11 - that;  Philippians 1:23 - far;  1 Thessalonians 4:17 - and so;  2 Thessalonians 1:7 - who;  2 Timothy 3:12 - shall;  Hebrews 4:9 - remaineth;  Hebrews 12:23 - the spirits;  Hebrews 13:23 - is set;  1 Peter 5:9 - the same;  1 John 5:6 - blood;  Revelation 1:9 - companion;  Revelation 3:4 - which;  Revelation 4:4 - clothed;  Revelation 6:11 - white;  Revelation 7:9 - clothed;  Revelation 14:13 - Yea;  Revelation 19:8 - the fine

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-7.html.

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

THE GREAT TRIBULATION.

Revelation 7:14. — "These are they who come out of the great tribulation." Our venerable Authorised Version is at fault here. It reads: "These are they which came out of great tribulation." But the Revised Version and other versions give undoubtedly the Spirit's meaning, "come," not "came," and "the tribulation," not "tribulation" simply. It is not the record of a past act, but they "come out." It is regarded as a characteristically present action. "The tribulation" points to a definite prophetic period, and not simply to tribulation in general in which all saints share. "The great tribulation" {*"Out of the tribulation, the great one." — Alford.}cannot be the general troubles which afflict God's people in all ages. The insertion of the definite article marks its speciality. The Neronian {*"The Early Days of Christianity." p. 448. — Dean Farrar.} and other pagan and papal persecutions have been variously referred to as "the great tribulation" by the historical school of expositors. More frequently still the expression is thought to refer to the general troubles of life. But every interpretation of the Apocalypse which has history and not God's Word as its basis is necessarily confusing and uncertain. The force and import of the term must be sought for in Scripture and not in the records of human history. The interpretation of the Word, as also its application to the conscience, is the sole prerogative of the Holy Ghost Who inspired it.

"The great tribulation" is yet future. It pre-supposes the Jewish nation restored to Palestine in unbelief to serve Gentile political ends, and brought there by the active intervention of a great maritime power (Isaiah 18:1-7). The duration of the coming hour of trial, which in its intensity will exceed all past and subsequent sorrows endured on earth (Mark 13:19), is limited to the second half of Daniel's prophetic week of seven years (Daniel 9:27 with Matthew 24:15), or, speaking more correctly, to 1260 days, i.e., 42 months of 30 days each{*"The tribulation ends before the coming of Christ to reign (Matthew 24:29); and I believe it will virtually close by the pouring out of the vials (Revelation 16:1-21). Writhing under these inflictions, neither the beast nor his myrmidons will be in a condition to persecute any longer. So it seems to me.} (Revelation 11:3; Revelation 13:5). Satan cast out of Heaven into the earth is the instigator of this unparalleled outburst of fury and hatred against God's witnesses, Jewish and Gentile (Revelation 12:7-17). Satan's chief persecuting ministers will be "the beast," i.e., the revived imperial power of Rome in the person of its head, the "little horn" (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:1-18. l-8); the Anti-Christ, only so termed in John's epistles, the ally and confederate of the beast (Revelation 13:11-17); and the king of the north, or the Assyrian (Daniel 8:1-27; Daniel 11:1-45; Isaiah 10:24-34).{*See article "The Chief Actors in the Coming Crisis."} The two former will be the active agents in persecuting the saints; the latter will be politically hostile to the restored Jewish commonwealth, but Jewish saints will also have to suffer as part and parcel of the nation. "The great tribulation," then, embraces Gentiles as well as Jews. Apostate Christendom is the wide sphere which will come under the direct judgment of Christ in the coming day, nor will the sword be sheathed till the heathen, too, feel the stroke (1 Peter 4:17). But while the tribulation will embrace Jews and Gentiles, the former will suffer most severely (Jeremiah 30:7). The Gentile company of our text comes out of the great tribulation. They have been preserved while Christendom, and Judea especially, have been bathed in the blood of God's saints.{* The location of the saved Gentile company, when the testimony of God reached their consciences, must not be confined to the territorial limits of Christendom. The largeness of the scene in verse 9 intimates a breadth which probably covers the whole Gentile world. Rejecters of God's grace — grace now fully and freely preached — are in the time of the tribulation given up to judicial dealing (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12), and are punished with everlasting destruction at the Appearing of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). Hence these apostates are precluded from any share in the work of grace — widely and rapidly carried out (length of time uncertain) between the Translation and the Appearing.}

"The 1260 days of persecution (Revelation 11:3), or 42 months, counting 30 days to a month, will end before the three and a half years are concluded. They fall short of this last period by 17 days, or more exactly 17 days. Till the 42 months end the beast's power is unchallengeable (Revelation 13:5). The seventh trumpet sounds, and the mystery of God is then finished. He will henceforth deal directly with the apostates, as the vials describe. It will be mystery as to that no longer.

"The days will be shortened, as the duration of the beast's power will be curtailed by the above mentioned days that will remain of the three and a half years of the week (Daniel 9:27). Shortening or lengthening of days, not a day, refers to a period of time, and not to a natural day of twenty-four hours.

"The clue to me of a deal of all this is the difference between 1260 days and three and a half years. The former can by no possibility be made to equal the latter. At the end of the latter the Lord comes to reign. At the end of the former the trumpet sounds; and the balance of days between the 1260 days and the three and a half years leaves room for the outpouring of the vials." — "Truth for the Last Days," No. 4, p. 163, C.E.S. See also article, "The Celebrated Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks."

Their mystical robes derive their whiteness solely from the blood of Christ.

Next we have the standing or position of the Gentile throng. "Therefore are they before the throne of God." It is the shed blood of Christ which alone entitles anyone to stand before the throne. "This grace wherein we stand " (Romans 5:2) is ground common to all saints. The demonstrative pronoun points not to grace in general, but to that special grace of God witnessed in the death and resurrection of the Lord.

14. — "Have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God." Washing robes is one of those expressions peculiar to the Apocalypse. Whatever may have been the special testimony addressed to these Gentiles,{*We do not read of any testimony borne by them.} evidently the blood of the Lamb was its grand and distinguishing feature. Their mystic robes could alone be made white in the blood. The ground on which they stood before the throne of God is one common to all saints in time and eternity. The blood of the Lamb, shed in divine purpose from the foundation of the world, is the only but adequate basis of appearing before the throne of God. "Therefore," or on this account, "are they before the throne," i.e., because of the blood. The blood constituted these sinners saints; the tribulation made them sufferers.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "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

John understood that such was the purpose of the question, for he replied thou. knowestt. The elder then gave the answer which confirms the idea that they were the persecuted servants of God already referred to. Came out of on at tribulation denotes their triumph over their persecutors. Not that. they escaped death, for John had seen their souls outside of their bodies. But it‘ a servant of God is faithful even in the midst of persecution then death cannot rob him of victory. Washed their robes is a figurative reference to their being cleaned by the blood of Christ.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-7.html. 1952.

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

Revelation 7:14. And I said to him: My Lord, thou knowest it. And he said to me: these are they, who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made their robes bright in the blood of the Lamb. In the speech of John there is a discreet request for information. Thou knowest it, says he; thou hast been longer here than I have been; I do not know. If thou wouldst tell me, I shall receive it with thankfulness.

John addresses the elder as his lord. Bengel: "Before an elder, the title of Lord was not so common as it is now; and that John should have said to the elder, Lord, nay, my Lord, has much significance in it. John saw great and glorious things, and the elders were there in the midst of them. He found himself in a state of holy wonder, and said to the elder, My Lord. Still greater things were disclosed to him there, and in his transport he forgot himself so far as to attempt even twice to worship the angel. To say, My Lord, as John did, and to worship, is not far different; nay, it is a step to the other." John said, My Lord, in the presence of the glory of the Lord, which shines upon the blessed, so that the expression of veneration at last returns to the Lord himself. So Lot in Genesis 19:18 addressed the angels by the name Adonai, which properly belongs only to God; and in Isaiah 45:14, the Gentiles who desire salvation fall down before the church of the Lord, and supplicate to her, because God is only in her, and there is no God besides. To take the "My Lord" in a feebler sense, is the less suitable, as we have here before us a vision, and the territory of appearance and mere courtesy is far away. Elsewhere also in the New Testament this address always occurs as an expression of veneration and dependence. The Greeks, in John 12:21, address Philip thus, and certainly on no other account ("Lord, we would see Jesus"), because they transferred the glory of the master to the disciple. In John 20:15, Mary takes Jesus for the gardener, but she doubtless would not have styled him Lord, if she had sought only common things of him, if she had not believed herself to be dependent on him in regard to her beloved. The address here, therefore, in unison with the following: Thou knowest it, points to the vast distance between what is here and what shall be hereafter; so that the most advanced, who still dwell here in flesh and faith, can only look up to the perfectly righteous. There is a very striking agreement between the "thou knowest it," and Peter's reply to our Lord in John 21:15-16.

On the words, "These are they who come," Zllig remarks, "The present in the signification of the future renders it manifest that it is only a vision, when John says he already saw them above, at the time he wrote; for they were certainly then still below on the earth, and could only be translated to heaven a considerable time afterwards, when they had borne their share in the tribulation spoken of."

It may be asked what we are to understand by "the great tribulation." According to Bengel, it must indicate generally the troubles of human life." What else is this great tribulation than all men's pains and labour on the earth, which God has cursed, and the collected sorrows which have been brought on the human family by the fall of Adam? This is clear from the following contrast. The partakers of salvation shall hunger and thirst no more, be free henceforth from sweat and tears. The great tribulation, therefore, consists in hunger, thirst, heat, tears, &c. To this tribulation all men, not excepting the elect, have been subjected since the fall, in this vale of tears and sorrows. It is a plague, which one meets with every day; troubles may certainly be counted on. Respect is not had here to any particular tribulation, which some might have to suffer for the word of God; but it is this earthly sorrowful life itself, such as Adam doubtless experienced beyond any of his descendants. Before, he could walk up and down in Paradise, and eat of the fruit of its trees, one only excepted, without any toil on his part. But after the fall he had the burden of a laborious and troublesome cultivation laid on him. It was said, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread; words that briefly express hunger, thirst, heat, and tears." But this exposition seeks in vain for support from Revelation 7:16; the distresses mentioned there are not those generally of this life, but those of the wilderness. But what disproves it is, that by it the starting-point, the fainting of believers in prospect of the judgments which were going to be inflicted on the world, is overlooked, and so the connection is destroyed between Revelation 7:9-17 and Revelation 7:1-8. The same reason is also decisive against those who would understand by the great tribulation the persecution of Christians. The consolation for those Christians, who sighed under the persecutions of the world, has been given earlier, and finds its completion in ch. Revelation 8:1. It lies in the contents of the seventh seal. The definite article alone, which implies the distress to be known from the preceding context, leads to the conclusion, that by the great tribulation the plagues of the world are to be understood, which bring with them troubles also for the elect. To the same result we are also led by the original passage, Matthew 24:21,"For there shall then be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world till now, nor shall be." The subject of discourse there, too, is the judgments to be brought on the world, which necessarily involve the elect in sufferings along with others. Finally, this explanation is confirmed by comparing ch. Revelation 3:10, where the hour of temptation is spoken of which shall come upon the whole world, to tempt those who dwell upon the earth. The subject of discourse there cannot be persecution, for the temptation appears as a future one, while the persecution raged at that very time. But here we can the less think of persecution, as there is not a syllable found in regard to what in that case would have been of such vast moment—fidelity and stedfastness. Only the general marks of believers are given. The washing and making bright are to be carefully distinguished. The washing denotes the obtaining of pardon of sin through the blood of Christ; the making bright sanctification which springs out of reconciliation. In the symbolical rites of the law, and in the explanation of it in Ezekiel, Ezekiel 36:25, "and I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your impurities, and from all your filthiness will I purify you." the washing and sprinkling with water appears as an image of the forgiveness of sins (see Christol. there.) Filthy garments (the clothing being regarded as a symbol of the state[Note: Vitringa: "The stole (robe) is a symbol of the condition or state in which any one is. Among the Orientals, as well as the Romans and other people of the west, the custom was such that from the robe, tunic, or gown, the Mate and dignity of any one could be easily perceived."]) were, in the Old Testament, borne by sinners, clean ones by the justified, Isaiah 64:5, Zech. Zechariah 3:4, "and he answered and said to those who stood before him: Take away from him the filthy garments; and he said to Joshua, behold, I take away from thee thy sins, and they will clothe thee with festive garments." Here instead of the water the blood of Christ is put, to indicate that it is not simply forgiveness, but forgiveness as rooting itself in the atonement which is spoken of. We have a commentary in 1 John 1:7, "The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin;" 1 John 5:6, "This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water only (forgiveness without satisfaction), but by water and blood;'' John 19:34, "One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately there came out water and blood." The great importance which is laid upon this in John 19:35, is to be explained from the apostle seeing a symbolical meaning in the procedure, from his perceiving in the water and the blood the forgiveness that has its root in the atonement of Christ. The point of connection here between the Revelation and the other writings of John is a very delicate and deep one.

To the mating of the garments bright corresponds in the passage of Ezekiel referred to, Ezekiel 36:26, the "giving of a new heart and a new spirit" (after the purging away of their sins); and in John, the "walking in the light," 1 John 1:7, "not sinning," 1 John 2:1, 1 John 3:6, 1 John 3:9, "keeping one's self," 1 John 5:18, "doing the will of God," 1 John 2:17, "doing what is well-pleasing before him," 1 John 3:22, "keeping his commandments," 1 John 5:3. The courageous witness-bearing, which, according to ch. Revelation 12:11, springs from the sense of forgiveness as obtained through the blood of the Lamb, is only a particular manifestation of the sanctified life which is denoted by the bright garments. On the white or bright as the colour of clear splendour, the symbolical image of glory, comp. on ch. Revelation 3:4. Here the white is the colour of the righteous, which streams forth in the splendour of their virtues—comp. Revelation 3:18-19, Revelation 19:8. For, that the doing, and not the reward of holiness, is what is here spoken of (whence the white garment differs here from that in Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 6:11), appears first from the active, "they have made them white;" then, and more especially, from a reward on this account being announced in Rev. 5:15; and still farther from the white clothing which is said to have been given to believers (Revelation 6:11), never having like this been unclean. That there is an internal connection between white clothing in the one sense and in the other, or between sanctification and glory, it is scarcely necessary to remark.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-7.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14.Sir—The Greek is the original of our sir, and in modern Greek is used for that word. But Bengel, Hengstenberg, and Alford consider it here as a more reverent my Lord, approaching nigh to the attempt at worship in a future passage or two.

Thou knowest—The Greek thou, here expressly inserted, implies emphasis upon it. The knowledge to answer those questions is in thee, not in me. And the words imply a request for answer which the seer was too modest to make.

Out of great tribulation—The epithet great is emphatic, by being placed with its article after the noun, which our English idiom does not permit. Yet it is done with proper names, as Alexander the Great; and similarly this is tribulation the great. But what tribulation is here meant? Some say the “great tribulation” of Matthew 24:21, just preceding the judgment-day. But plainly, this company robed in white is that of Revelation 7:9, which embraces all the redeemed. The great tribulation is, therefore, the battle of probationary life under pressure of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Those fine lines of Wesley, therefore,

Who are these arrayed in white,

Brighter than the noonday sun,

Foremost of the sons of light,

Nearest the eternal throne?

so far as they represent these as martyrs or special sufferers for Christ seem to be a mistake. All Christians are these martyrs.

Washed their robes—Purified their characters. This is a very vivid image of sanctification through the atonement. It illustrates how deep the doctrine of the atonement maintained in the apocalypse. But we must look through the intense imagery at the literal fact, and not allow our imagination to be lost in the imagery. There is no literal robe, no literal washing the robe in blood. What is true is, that Christ died for our sins, and through the merit of his atonement the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon us, giving us power to resist temptation, to repress our disordered affections, and bring all into obedience to the law of Christ. And that is sanctification.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-7.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 7:14. (“Sir”) the respectful address of an inferior to his superior in age or station, the being conceived as angelic beings (as in Daniel 10:17; Daniel 10:19; Daniel 10:4Ezra 4:3, etc.)—“Thou knowest” (and I fain would know also). The great distress is plainly the period of persecution and martyrdom (Revelation 6:11) predicted (e.g., Matthew 24:21, from Daniel 12:1) to herald the final catastrophe. It is still expected by Hermas (Vis. ii. 2. 7, iv. 2. 5, 3. 6); but he less religiously attributes the white garments (i.e., purity of soul) to the virtues. As the crisis with its outcome ol faith and loyalty in all nations (Revelation 7:9) is to be world-wide, this passage seems to imply, altnougn in a characteristically vague and incidental fashion (cf.Revelation 5:9, Revelation 14:6, etc.), the idea of Mark 8:10. But the situation of the Apocalypse is so acute, that mission operations are at a standstill. Instead of the gospel invading and pervading the pagan world, the latter has closed in upon the churches with threatening power, and in the brief interval before the end practically nothing can be looked for except the preservation of the faithful. Those who come out of the great distress” are further described as having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; which portrays their character and conduct and at the same time explains the secret of their triumphant endurance. “Mehr gedacht als geschaut ist das Bild” (J. Weiss). The great thing is not to emerge from trial, but to emerge from it with unstained faith and conscience. And this is possible, not to man’s unaided efforts, but to the sacrificial power of Christ, the experience of which forms the last line of defence in the struggle. The confessors and martyrs owed their moral purity to what they obtained through the sacrifice of Jesus. But moral purity became in this case something more intense (as the context and the emphatic language of this verse imply) than the normal Christian experience of forgiveness and holiness. By a turn of thought which is developed later by Ignatius and Tertullian (Scorp. xii. sordes quidem baptismate abluuntur, maculae uero martyrio candidantur), it is suggested that in their martyrdom (cf.Daniel 12:10) these saints were able to make the redeeming power of Jesus peculiarly their own; the nature of their cruel sufferings identified them especially with their Lord. It is noticeable that the mystic union of the individual Christian with Christ mainly comes forward ward in the Apocalypse (cf.Revelation 14:13) when the martyrs and confessors are mentioned, as if the writer held that such an experience alone could yield the deepest consciousness of communion with One who was conceived essentially as a Lamb who had been slain, a faithful witness, etc. (cf. Titius, 216, 217). On the high respect for martyrs, of which this forms an early trace, see Weinel, 142–144. At the same time it is to the blood of the Lamb, not to their own blood, that they owe their bliss and triumph; redemption, not martyrdom, is the essential basis of their deliverance. People might be redeemed without becoming martyrs; as, for example, either recreant Christians or those who happened to die a natural death. But no one could be a martyr without having the strength of redemption behind him.

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-7.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

14. I don’t know, sir. You do. John’s answer shows that he is eager to know the answer.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 7:14". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-7.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.