Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 7:9

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
New American Standard Version

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Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit);   Colors;   Heaven;   Jesus Continued;   Lamb of God;   Palm Tree;   Praise;   Righteous;   Robe;   Salvation;   Throne;   Tongue;   Thompson Chain Reference - Adorning;   Church;   Clothing;   Future, the;   Glorified, Saints;   Heaven;   Heavenly;   Home;   Host;   Joys, Family;   Lamb of God;   Lamb, Christ the;   Many Saved;   Multitude;   Raiment, White;   Redeemed, the;   Saints;   Saved, the;   Saviour, Christ Our;   Sin-Saviour;   Sufferings of Christ;   White;   The Topic Concordance - Following;   Hunger;   Service;   Thirst;   Tribulation;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Excellency and Glory of Christ, the;   Feast of Tabernacles, the;   Palm-Tree, the;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Garments;   Palm-Tree;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Nation;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Color, Symbolic Meaning of;   Hades;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Fellowship;   Order;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Fellowship;   Palm Tree;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dress;   Feasts;   Fuller;   Hosanna;   Ir-Ha-Heres;   Lamp;   Palmtree;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Gentiles;   Plants in the Bible;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Games;   Number;   Palm Tree;   Revelation, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apocalypse;   Arts;   Colours;   Heaven;   Hosanna ;   Israel;   Lamb;   Lazarus;   Palm ;   Palm Tree;   Parousia;   Persecution;   Tribes ;   Type;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Lamb;   Palm, Palm Tree,;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Flock;   Gold;   Palm tree;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Lamb;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Palm Tree;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Robe;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Palm Tree;   Triumphs;  
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Adam Clarke Commentary

A great multitude - This appears to mean the Church of Christ among the Gentiles, for it was different from that collected from the twelve tribes; and it is here said to be of all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues.

Clothed with white robes - As emblems of innocence and purity. With palms in their hands, in token of victory gained over the world, the devil, and the flesh.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

After this - Greek,” After these things” - Μετὰ ταῦτα Meta tautathat is, after I saw these things thus represented I had another vision. This would undoubtedly imply, not only that he saw these things after he had seen the sealing of the hundred and forty-four thousand, but that they would occur subsequently to that. But he does not state whether they would immediately occur, or whether other things might not intervene. As a matter of fact, the vision seems to be transferred from earth to heaven - for the multitudes which he saw appeared “before the throne” Revelation 7:9; that is, before the throne of God in heaven. The design seems to be to carry the mind forward quite beyond the storms and tempests of earth - the scenes of woe and sorrow - the clays of error, darkness, declension, and persecution - to that period when the church should be triumphant in heaven. Instead, therefore, of leaving the impression that the hundred and forty-four thousand would be all that would be saved, the eye is directed to an innumerable host, gathered from all ages, all climes, and all people, triumphant in glory. The multitude that John thus saw was not, therefore, I apprehend, the same as the hundred and forty-four thousand, but a far greater number the whole assembled host of the redeemed in heaven, gathered there as vistors, with palmbranches, the symbols of triumph, in their hands. The object of the vision is to cheer those who are desponding in times of religious declension and in seasons of persecution, and when the number of true Christians seems to be small, with the assurance that an immense host shall be redeemed from our world, and be gathered triumphant before the throne.

I beheld - That is, he saw them before the throne. The vision is transferred from earth to heaven; from the contemplation of the scene when desolation seemed to impend over the world, and when comparatively few in number were “sealed” as the servants of God, to the time when the redeemed would be triumphant, and when a host which no man can number would stand before God.

And, lo - Indicating surprise. A vast host burst upon the view. Instead of the comparatively few who were sealed, an innumerable company were presented to his vision, and surprise was the natural effect.

A great multitude - Instead of the comparatively small number on which the attention had been fixed.

Which no man could number - The number was so great that no one could count them, and John, therefore, did not attempt to do it. This is such a statement as one would make who should have a view of all the redeemed in heaven. It would appear to be a number beyond all power of computation. This representation is in strong contrast with a very common opinion that only a few will be saved. The representation in the Bible is, that immense hosts of the human race will be saved; and though vast numbers will be lost, and though at any particular period of the world hitherto it may seem that few have been in the path to life, yet we have every reason to believe that, taking the race at large, and estimating it as a whole, a vast majority of the whole will be brought to heaven. For the true religion is yet to spread all over the world, and perhaps for many, many thousands of years, piety is to be as prevalent as sin has been; and in that long and happy time of the world‘s history we may hope that the numbers of the saved may surpass all who have been lost in past periods, beyond any power of computation. See the notes on Revelation 20:3-6.

Of all nations - Not only of Jews; not only of the nations which, in the time of the sealing vision, had embraced the gospel, but of all the nations of the earth. This implies two things:

(a)that the gospel would be preached among all nations; and,

(b)that even when it was thus preached to them they would keep up their national characteristics.

There can be no hope of blending all the nations of the earth under one visible sovereignty. They may all be subjected to the spiritual reign of the Redeemer, but still there is no reason to suppose that they will not have their distinct organizations and laws.

And kindreds - φυλῶν phulōnThis word properly refers to those who are descended from a common ancestry, and hence denotes a race, lineage, kindred. It was applied to the tribes of Israel, as derived from the same ancestor, and for the same reason might be applied to a clan, and thence to any division in a nation, or to a nation itself - properly retaining the notion that it was descended from a common ancestor. Here it would seem to refer to a smaller class than a nation - the different clans of which a nation might be composed.

And people - λαῶν laōnThis word refers properly to a people or community as a mass, without reference to its origin or any of its divisions. The former word would be used by one who should look upon a nation as made up of portions of distinct languages, clans, or families; this word would be used by one who should look on such an assembled people as a mere mass of human beings, with no reference to their difference of clanship, origin, or language.

And tongues - Languages. This word would refer also to the inhabitants of the earth, considered with respect to the fact that they speak different languages. The use of particular languages does not designate the precise boundaries of nations - for often many people speaking different languages are united as one nation, and often those who speak the same language constitute distinct nations. The view, therefore, with which one would look upon the dwellers on the earth, in the use of the word “tongues” or “languages,” would be, not as divided into nations; not with reference to their lineage or clanship; and not as a mere mass without reference to any distinction, but as divided by speech. The meaning of the whole is, that persons from all parts of the earth, as contemplated in these points of view, would be among the redeemed. Compare the notes on Daniel 3:4; Daniel 4:1.

Stood before the throne - The throne of God. See the notes on Revelation 4:2. The throne is there represented as set up in heaven, and the vision here is a vision of what will occur in heaven. It is designed to carry the thoughts beyond all the scenes of conflict, strife, and persecution on earth, to the time when the church shall be triumphant in glory - when all storms shall have passed by; when all persecutions shall have ceased; when all revolutions shall have occurred; when all the elect - not only the hundred and forty-four thousand of the sealed, but of all nations and times - shall have been gathered in. There was a beautiful propriety in this vision. John saw the tempests stayed, as by the might of angels. He saw a new influence and power that would seal the true servants of God. But those tempests were stayed only for a time, and there were more awful visions in reserve than any which had been exhibited - visions of woe and sorrow, of persecution and of death. It was appropriate, therefore, just at this moment of calm suspense - of delayed judgments - to suffer the mind to rest on the triumphant close of the whole in heaven, when a countless host would be gathered there with palms in their hands, uniting with angels in the worship of God. The mind, by the contemplation of this beautiful vision, would be refreshed and strengthened for the disclosure of the awful scenes which were to occur on the sounding of the trumpets under the seventh seal. The simple idea is, that, amidst the storms and tempests of life - scenes of existing or impending trouble and wrath - it is well to let the eye rest on the scene of the final triumph, when innumerable hosts of the redeemed shall stand before God, and when sorrow shall be known no more.

And before the Lamb - In the midst of the throne - in heaven. See the notes on Revelation 5:6.

Clothed with white robes - The emblems of innocence or righteousness, uniformly represented as the raiment of the inhabitants of heaven. See the notes on Revelation 3:4; Revelation 6:11.

And palms in their hands - Emblems of victory. Branches of the palm-tree were carried by the victors in the athletic contests of Greece and Rome, and in triumphal processions. See the notes on Matthew 21:8. The palm-tree - straight, elevated, majestic - was an appropriate emblem of triumph. The portion of it which was borne in victory was the long leaf which shoots out from the top of the tree. Compare the notes on Isaiah 3:26. See Eschenberg, Manual of Class. Literally, p. 243, and Leviticus 23:40; “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees,” etc. So in the Saviour‘s triumphal entry into Jerusalem John 12:12-13 - “On the next day much people took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna.”

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands;

After these things ... See under Revelation 7:1. The logic of the first vision of this chapter (Revelation 7:1-8) coming first is inherent in the fact that two different states of Christians are in view: (1) their state on earth suffering persecutions and martyrdom, and (2) their state in heaven where they are eternally safe. The saints on earth are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a pledge of their ultimately receiving their inheritance; but the saints in heaven are not said to be sealed, for they have already received the great inheritance. The first vision (Revelation 7:1-8) symbolized by the old Israel's embattled condition during the wilderness wanderings suggests the similar condition of God's church throughout the ages; and the second vision (Revelation 7:9-17) shows them finally triumphant and redeemed. The imagery borrowed from the old Israel applies here to the new.

A great number which no man could number ... This is the same group as that of the 144,000 (Revelation 7:1-8). This is not contradicted by the number 144,000 being given there and the "innumerable" group here. The 144,000 is also an "innumerable" throng. "If they had been different groups, both would have been sealed,"[43] for both are servants of God. Those in heaven had already been sealed while upon earth. "This innumerable company are the whole church of God."[44] However, this vision of them is not a view of them at a time when they are suffering persecutions, but a view of them as they appear eternally after the Second Advent of Christ. "The interpretation of most of Revelation pivots upon the proper identification of these two groups as one and the same."[45] "This vision shows how the saints (the 144,000) are preserved, not delivered from death, but delivered by death."[46]

The premillennial proposition that the sealing in this chapter can not be "fulfilled before the rapture of the church,"[47] has no support from the New Testament. We take the view of Strauss to be correct: "This picture is the church triumphant in heaven; they have prevailed over persecution and death because of the blood of the Lamb."[48] The time of their sealing, not mentioned here, was that during their sojourn on earth after they obeyed the gospel.

Out of every nation ... tribes ... peoples ... tongues ... The worldwide, universal nature of the church is seen in this.

Standing before the throne and before the Lamb ... This is in heaven and justifies the view that here we have a glimpse of the Church Triumphant. What better comfort could be provided for those who were confronted with suffering and martyrdom?

Arrayed in white robes ... "Trench stated that no symbol of heathen origin is used in the Apocalypse."[49] Therefore, we do not need to look to Babylon, Greece, or Rome for the origin of the "palms" carried by these white-robed saints. The citizens of Jerusalem spread the branches of palms before the Saviour upon his triumphal entry (John 12:13), a fact recorded by the author of this Apocalypse.

[43] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentaries, Vol. 20, the Revelation of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969). p. 114.

[44] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 542.

[45] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 257.

[46] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 1079.

[47] Finis Jennings Dake, Revelation Expounded (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Finis Jennings Dake, 1950), p. 56.

[48] James D. Strauss, The Seer, the Saviour, and the Saved (Joplin, Missouri: College Press, 1972), p. 125.

[49] Trench as quoted by Plummer, op. cit., p. 209.

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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 7:9". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

After this I beheld,.... What follows is a distinct vision from the preceding one, and is not a continuation of that, as if the sealing of the Jewish believers was designed by the former, and the sealing of the Gentiles in this latter; whereas in this vision there is no mention made of sealing, nor was there, or will there be any need of it in the time it refers unto; and which is not the time of the Reformation; nor when the vials began to be poured out upon the seat of the beast; for though there were great numbers converted in many nations, kindreds, people, and tongues, yet not in all; nor do the characters of this great multitude, and the happiness they shall enjoy, seem to suit with persons in a state of mortality and imperfection, Revelation 7:14; wherefore many interpreters understand this vision of the saints in heaven: but it rather respects the millennium state, or thousand years' reign of Christ with his saints on earth, with which all that is here said agrees; compare Revelation 7:14 with Revelation 20:4; and Revelation 7:15 with Revelation 22:3; and Revelation 7:16 with Revelation 21:4. And the design of this vision is to show to John, and every diligent observer, that after the seventh seal is opened, the trumpets are blown, and the vials poured out; during which time there will be a number sealed that will profess Christ; and at the close and winding up of all things, in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, Christ will descend, and all the saints with him; their bodies will be raised, and the living saints changed, and make one general assembly, who are shown to John here, as in Revelation 21:9; to relieve his mind, and support his spirits, in a view of the calamities ushered in by the opening of the seventh seal.

And lo, a great multitude, which no man could number; which design all the elect of God in the new Jerusalem church state, the bride, the Lamb's wife, or the new Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven; these will appear to be a great multitude, not in comparison of the inhabitants that shall have dwelt upon earth, nor of the professors of religion in one shape or another; for, with respect to each of these, they are but a few, a seed, a remnant, a little flock; but as considered in themselves, and so they are many who are ordained to eternal life, whose sins Christ has bore, for whom his blood has been shed, and whom he justifies, and who are called by his grace, and are brought to glory; and who make up such a number as no man can number: God indeed can number them, but not man; for they are a set of particular persons chosen by God, and redeemed by Christ, and who are perfectly and distinctly known by them; their number and names are with them; their names are written in the Lamb's book of life; and God and Christ can, and do call them by their name; and when they were given to Christ, they passed under the rod of him that telleth them; and he will give an exact account of them, of every individual person, another day. But then they are not to be numbered by men; and they will be

of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, and therefore must consist both of Jews and Gentiles; these were not all nations, &c. but "of" all nations, some of all nations; and such God has chosen, Christ has redeemed, and the Spirit calls; God has not chosen all the Jews, but a remnant, according to the election of grace, nor all the Gentiles, but has taken out of them a people for his name; and so Christ has redeemed, by his blood, some out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, of Jew and Gentile: and hence the Gospel has been sent into all the world, and to all nations, for the gathering of these persons out of them; and when they are all gathered in, they will all meet together in the new Jerusalem church state, and make up the body here presented to view.

Stood before the throne and before the Lamb; the throne of God, and of the Lamb, will be in the midst of the new Jerusalem church; the tabernacle of God will be with men, and he will dwell, among them; and before the presence of his glory will all the saints be presented; and the Lamb will then present to himself his whole church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; and they will behold his glory, and see him as he is: and as they are described before by their number, and their descent, so here by their position and situation, and, as follows, by their habit and attire,

clothed with white robes; agreeably to their princely and priestly characters: it was usual for princes and noblemen to be arrayed in vestures of linen, as Joseph was in Pharaoh's court; and the Jewish priests wore garments of linen, in their daily ministry and service; and in the thousand years' reign the saints will appear to be kings and priests, Revelation 5:10; and accordingly will be clothed as such: and this may also be expressive of their entire freedom from sin by the blood of Christ, Revelation 7:14; and their complete justification by his righteousness, which is sometimes compared to white raiment, and is called fine linen, clean, and white; and likewise their spotless purity and holiness, sanctification in them being now perfect, which was before imperfect: and these robes may also design their shining robes of glory and immortality; for they will now be clothed upon with their house from heaven, and will have put off mortality and corruption, and have put on immortality and incorruption, and appear with Christ in glory; for such will be the then state of things:

and palms in their hands; or branches of palm trees, as in John 12:13 as an emblem of their uprightness and faithfulness, which they had shown in the cause of Christ, even unto death, the palm tree being a very upright tree, Jeremiah 10:5; or of their bearing up under a variety of pressures and afflictions, by which they were not cast down and destroyed, but bravely stood up under them, and were now come out of them; the palm tree being of such a nature, as is reported, that the more weight is hung upon it, the higher it rises, and the straighter it grows; see Psalm 92:12; and chiefly as an emblem of victory and triumph over their enemies, as sin, Satan, the world and death, which they had been struggling with, in a state of imperfection, but were now more than conquerors over them; the palm tree is well known to be a token of victory. So Philo the JewF6Allegor. l. 2. p. 74. says, the palm tree is συμβολον νικης, "a symbol of victory". Conquerors used to carry palm tree branches in their handsF7A. Gell. Noctes Attic. l. 3. c. 6. Sueton. in Caio, c. 32. : those who conquered in the combats and plays among the Greeks, used not only to have crowns of palm trees given them, but carried branches of it in their handsF8Pausan. Arcadica, l. 8. p. 532. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 5. c. 8. & l. 6. c. 19. ; as did also the Romans in their triumphs; yea, they sometimes wore "toga palmata", a garment with the figures of palm trees on it, which were interwoven in itF9Isidor. Hispalens. Origen. l. 19. c. 24. p. 168. : and hence here palms are mentioned along with white garments; and some have been tempted to render the words thus, "clothed with white robes", and "palms on their sides"; that is, on the sides of their robesF11Vid. Lydium de re Militare, l. 6. c. 3. p. 225. . The medal which was struck by Titus Vespasian, at the taking of Jerusalem, had on it a palm tree, and a captive woman sitting under it, with this inscription on it, "Judaea capta", Judea is taken. And when our Lord rode in triumph to Jerusalem, the people met him with branches of palm trees in their hands, and cried, Hosanna to him. So the Jews, at the feast of tabernacles, which they kept in commemoration of their having dwelt in tents in the wilderness, carried "Lulabs", or palm tree branches, in their hands, in token of joy, Leviticus 23:40; and in like manner, these being come out of the wilderness of the world, and the tabernacle of God being among them, express their joy in this way; See Gill on .

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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 7:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, 7 which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, 8 stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

(7) {See (Revelation 7:4) } {(8)} As priests, kings and glorious conquerors by martyrdom: which is noted by the signs in this verse.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

no manGreek, “no one.”

of all nationsGreek, “OUT OF every nation.” The human race is “one nation” by origin, but afterwards separated itself into tribes, peoples, and tongues; hence, the one singular stands first, followed by the three plurals.

kindredsGreek, “tribes.”

peopleGreek, “peoples.” The “first-fruits unto the Lamb,” the 144,000 (Revelation 14:1-4) of Israel, are followed by a copious harvest of all nations, an election out of the Gentiles, as the 144,000 are an election out of Israel (see on Revelation 7:3).

white robes — (See on Revelation 6:11; also Revelation 3:5, Revelation 3:18; Revelation 4:4).

palms in  …  hands — the antitype to Christ‘s entry into Jerusalem amidst the palm-bearing multitude. This shall be just when He is about to come visibly and take possession of His kingdom. The palm branch is the symbol of joy and triumph. It was used at the feast of tabernacles, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when they kept feast to God in thanksgiving for the ingathered fruits. The antitype shall be the completed gathering in of the harvest of the elect redeemed here described. Compare Zechariah 14:16, whence it appears that the earthly feast of tabernacles will be renewed, in commemoration of Israel‘s preservation in her long wilderness-like sojourn among the nations from which she shall now be delivered, just as the original typical feast was to commemorate her dwelling for forty years in booths or tabernacles in the literal wilderness.

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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 7:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Which no man could number (ον αριτμησαι αυτον ουδεις εδυνατοhon arithmēsai auton oudeis edunato). Redundant repetition of the pronoun αυτονauton after the relative ονhon as in Revelation 7:5; Revelation 3:8. ΕδυνατοEdunato imperfect indicative and αριτμησαιarithmēsai first aorist active infinitive of αριτμεωarithmeō old verb, in N.T. only here, Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7. See Revelation 5:9 (also Revelation 11:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 17:15) for the list of words after εκek (the spiritual Israel carried on all over the world), “a polyglott cosmopolitan crowd” (Swete).

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

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

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

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

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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 7:9". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

I saw

This vision belongs to heaven, while the sealing took place on earth.

Arrayed ( περιβεβλημένοι )

See on Revelation 3:5.


See on Revelation 6:11.

“The ancient scriptures and the new

The mark establish, and this shows it me,

Of all the souls whom God hath made His friends.

Isaiah saith that each one garmented

In His own land shall be with twofold garments,

And his own land is this delightful life.

Thy brother, too, far more explicitly,

There where he treateth of the robes of white,

This revelation manifests to us.”

Dante, “Paradiso,” xxv., 88-96.

Palms ( φοίνικες )

Properly, palm-trees, but used here of palm-branches. Not a heathen but a Jewish image drawn probably from the Feast of Tabernacles. See on John 7:2.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

A great multitude — Of those who had happily finished their course. Such multitudes are afterwards described, and still higher degrees of glory which they attain after a sharp fight and magnificent victory, Revelation 14:1; 15:2; 19:1; 20:4. There is an inconceivable variety in the degrees of reward in the other world. Let not any slothful one say, "If I get to heaven at all, I will be content:" such an one may let heaven go altogether. In worldly things, men are ambitious to get as high as they can. Christians have a far more noble ambition. The difference between the very highest and the lowest state in the world is nothing to the smallest difference between the degrees of glory. But who has time to think of this? Who is at all concerned about it? Standing before the throne - In the full vision of God.

And palms in their hands — Tokens of joy and victory.

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Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

While robes, and palms; the emblems of victory and honor.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.’

Revelation 7:9

These are the saints of God. They have been men and women like ourselves. They were diverse in character, they had come from all nations, they were equally diverse in experience, they had had helps, but they had had trials and difficulties. Many of them had their faults, but they are the saints of God. They are one in this, that their testimony is to the triumph of the Lamb.

There are two marks especially which are characteristic of the saints of God.

I. The purity of the saints.—The first is their purity. Their victory may be over the passions of their own nature, it may involve struggle itself, but it is clear enough that purity is the mark of God’s saints. Yet we do wrong if we fail to recognise that in the Holy Scriptures that great word means something more than we generally associate with it. It does mean singleness of aim, it does mean sincerity of purpose: ‘If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.’ It is stated of those who are standing round the throne of God that they have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb. I take that to mean that in the self-sacrifice of the Blessed Lord they have so learned to love Him, to become one with Him, and to be imbued with His spirit, that their own selfish and sinful aims have lost all power over them, they have been cleansed from them, they have been washed from them, and realising the love of Christ Who loved them and gave Himself for them, they have found their home, their forgiveness, and their peace with God. And to this may we not each of us attain?

II. The purposefulness of the saints.—The second mark of these saints of God is their purposefulness. No man can ever drift into sanctity. No man can go to sleep a sinner and wake up a saint. He may forget what is past, but he needs cleansing from it. No man can serve God without an effort. No man can do his duty without really meaning to. In all respects the best work in the world is done by men of purpose. Of course it involves self-discipline, it involves the restraint of foolish imaginations, it often means the curbing of many natural impulses; but is it not the case that too often we fritter away our best ideals and we never seem in any way to realise them? Our very energies fail us because we have not sufficiently concentrated our minds on any true end. But God’s saints have felt the constraining love of Christ.

Bishop G. W. Kennion.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

Ver. 9. A great multitude] All the faithful from the apostles to the end of the world. In all ages there were some that sought righteousness; neither was it ever so hard with the Church as the host at Nola (in the story) made it; who when he was commanded by the Roman censor to go and call the good men of the city to appear before him, went to the church yards, and there called at the graves of the dead, O ye good men of Nola, come away, for the Roman censor calls for your appearance; for he knew not where to call for a good man alive. In the very midst of Popery there were many faithful witnesses, and more of such as (like those two hundred that went out of Jerusalem after Absalom) went on in the simplicity of their hearts, and knew not anything, 2 Samuel 15:11. (Anton. di Guevara.)

Clothed with white robes] {See Trapp on "Revelation 3:4"}

And palms in their hands] In token of victory over all spiritual enemies. This was hinted at by those palms engraved in Solomon’s and Ezekiel’s temple.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 7:9

The Festival of All Saints.

The Festival of All Saints is related in conception to, yet distinct from, the Festival of All Angels. For while the latter speaks of angelic victory, the former speaks only of human victory over evil. It was considered to be the feast of the glorification of human nature by Christ. Now what is it which glorifies human nature? It is expressed in the name of this festival: it is saintliness.

I. There are many associations into which to enter is fame: companies of warriors, societies of science, bands of poets, circles of statesmen, orders of honour; but the most ancient, the most memorable, and the most continuous, continuous even for ever and ever, is the order of all the saints. For it is not only an earthly society; it does not belong to one nation alone; it does not seek its members only out of one age of history. It began with the beginning of the race. It has drawn its members out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue. It is existent in the world beyond the grave. The constant, ceaseless work of the society is the overthrow of evil.

II. The war against evil which the Head of the Church and all the army of the saints are waging now will end, not when the victims of evil are damned or destroyed, but when the evil itself in them is consumed. In every soul of man, by the giving of joy or the giving of suffering, by a thousand means, each fitted to a thousand characters, God will do His conquering work. Those who have already won the crown of saintliness are fellow-labourers with Him in the work of redemptive warfare. The power and the life of Christ are not only powerful and living upon earth: He is redeeming all in the other world. He continues to redeem.

III. Note some of the principles of the life of this great society, and apply them to the minor society of the English nation. (1) In the Church of Christ, each true member is an enthusiast in his work. His heart glows; his tongue cannot be basely silent, though often wisely silent. He feels inspired by the Spirit of God within him. He would rather die than be false to Christ. Ought not that to be the feeling of the citizen towards the nation, enthusiasm, not untaught and rude, but cultured by thought on great questions and tempered by the experience of the past? He who feels the enthusiasm of the Church of Christ ought above all men to be freed himself, and to free others, from political apathy. (2) Both the Church of Christ and the English nation have a glorious past. The Christian and the Englishman are both the children of heroes. The freedom of both in their several spheres has been that of slow and dignified growth, and is of that firm, rooted character which creates the reverence which makes love lasting. (3) In the vast society of which I speak, each man lives for his brother, not for himself; men are united by common love to Christ. We should recognise as Englishmen the same principle. (4) There is one last lesson which the Christian Church teaches us: it condemns, not only local, but also national, selfishness. The time has come in this age to carry out the same principle in the wide politics of the world; the time has come to regulate our relation with other nations by the words, "Do unto other nations as ye would that they should do unto you."

S. A. Brooke, Sermons, p. 290. Revelation vii., vers. 9, 10

The Blessed Saints.

I. The phrase "communion of saints," which is so often on our lips, reminds us that not only is there in heaven a society of just ones made perfect, but also on earth a band of servants of the Lord, who are pressing forward to the high mark of saintliness, who are living a saintly life by reason of their very endeavours to submit to the guidance of a loving Lord. We cannot have sympathy for the saints in heaven unless we have sympathy for the saints on earth, for all the good and noble souls who are working for the Lord in the Church on earth. If the phrase "communion of saints" is to be to us other than a fine-sounding one, emptied of all real meaning, if it is to be to us the centre of a realm of thought which we can never weary of exploring, we must first be assured that the transformation which the Lord has perfected in the saints has been commenced within ourselves. As He perfected that transformation in the saints in glory, so He is still carrying it on in the saints who walk yet on earth in the path of humiliation and duty, and so will He commence and carry it on if we will but trust in Him.

II. Holy men and women there have been in all branches of the Christian Church. Not all their names are inscribed on an earthly roll-call. The true calendar, from which not the name of the humblest saint is absent, is in the Lord's keeping. As we get to know more and more of those who have lived lives of holiness and usefulness, we feel that the limits of any one branch of the Church catholic are too narrow for the flow of our awakened sympathy; and we are fain to acknowledge that God's inspiring love acts upon the hearts not only of His children in our own Church, but also of His children in other Churches and in other lands, and that all Churches in which the life of Christ is manifested in the lives of His members form but one grand Holy Catholic Church.

H. N. Grimley, Tremadoc Sermons, p. 63.

The Communion of Saints.

I. This passage suggests (1) the universal character of the communion of God's people, and (2) the bond which cemented and still continues to cement it. All persons who are tempted to think that they and those who agree with them alone are in the right, all persons disposed to be exclusive in judging of the characters of others, may learn a lesson of wisdom and charity from the vision of St. John. If they could but look to the end, if they could see the battle of life with the eyes of God and of those whom His Spirit most inspires, they would see that as there are many mansions in our Father's house, so there are many roads that lead to them. Does not All Saints' Day witness for us, first, that all Christ's people are substantially one at heart; secondly, that many are Christ's people who are not thought so by others, and who hardly dare to think themselves so? If we can once believe that Christ, through His Spirit, is the sole Author of all good, we must believe this also. The belief in the communion of saints follows necessarily on the belief in the Holy Ghost.

II. Those whom St. John saw in this vision had all one distinguishing characteristic: suffering followed by purification—purification, not by their own unaided constancy, but by the blood of the Son of God. These are the marks which stamp Christ's servants, the passports which conduct through the gates of the holy city to the steps of the eternal throne. It is to the struggle, the terrible struggle, with temptation, the constant fall, the timid rising again; to the confession of weakness forced upon us by the consciousness of degradation; to the belief that Christ, in our utmost need, has come to us with a free and wholly undeserved pardon; it is to the wounds and scars which the battle has left on us, and which even the Physician of souls can never wholly efface on earth; it is to suffering, to what St. John truly calls "great tribulation," that we ascribe our admission into the kingdom of God. For the youngest, as for the oldest, life must be a process of purification; and that purification can only come from the Lord Jesus Christ.

H. M. Butler, Harrow Sermons, p. 188.

The Great Multitude.

I. The multitude. The sight of a multitude is, in its way, as attractive as a magnet; we run to see the object which has gathered it together, and this may very properly be done in the present instance. (1) The vastness of the multitude is most remarkable; (2) the variety of the multitude is no less remarkable than the vastness of it: "of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues."

II. Their position. Attaching to their position there is evidently (1) a transcendent honour; (2) a superlative happiness.

III. Their adornment. We notice—(1) the spotless purity of their adornment: "white robes"; (2) its triumphal character: "palms in their hands."

IV. Their worship. (1) The song of their worship is replete with interest, the subject of it is salvation, the object God Himself. (2) The service of their worship is full of interest; it is full of both fervour and harmony.

E. A. Thomson, Memorials of a Ministry, p. 319.

All Saints' Day.

I. Let us ask, What is the use of festivals at all? Why should we keep our saints' days and our Christmas Day, our Good Friday and our Ascension Day? One day is not better than another, and all the bishops in the world cannot make it better, nor make it a different day from what it is. But is it not meet and right that we should celebrate our birthdays, as men and women born into the world, and celebrate our benefactors' days, as scholars of this or that foundation, or celebrate our victories or escapes, as sharers in the nation's weal and the nation's glory? and is it not at least as meet and right that as Christians, bound together by a common faith in Christ our Lord, we should celebrate our festival days too, and, lest men should pass over too lightly this or that scene in the Saviour's life, this or that act of devotion, and zeal, and heroic self-sacrifice on the part of His followers in bygone ages, that we should be called upon periodically to refresh our memories on this point or on that? The world at large is so careful and troubled about many things that we may well excuse it if here and there a Mary seems to sit with too rapt a gaze at Jesus's feet while her more active kinsfolk are toiling at life's daily labours.

II. Why should there be a festival for the saints unnamed and unknown? This festival was founded for the very purpose to preserve us from forgetting that men are very poor judges of who God's saints are. It is to remind us that, however much the world may require of us intellect, or knowledge, or strength, or position before it will give us any honour or allow us to take rank among its great ones, yet there is a company before the throne of the Lamb into whose rank the meek and lowly are welcomed, a company whose example on earth we should do well to imitate, and whose song in heaven we should strive to echo, "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."

A. Jessopp, Norwich School Sermons, p. 129.

References: Revelation 7:9, Revelation 7:10.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 270. Revelation 7:9-11.—S. A. Brooke, Church of England Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 55; H. P. Liddon, Ibid., vol. vii., p. 31.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

St. John having had in the former verses a visionary view of the church militant, under the denomination of sealed ones, in these verses a prospect is given him of the church triumphant in heaven; a most magnificent description of which we have here before us.

Where note, 1. The triumphant church above is described by its multitude: A numberless number which no man can number; according to the promise made to Christ, of bringing many sons unto glory.

2. They are described by their variety; some out of every nation, tribe, people, and language, according to that of our Saviour, They shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 8:11.

3. They are described by their posture, they stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, as servants attending upon their Lord, a most happy station, and as such accounted by them; not that they stand perpetually gazing upon God, and doing nothing else, but they express their love unto him, by attending upon him, to execute his commands.

4. They are described by their habit: They are clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; white garments import their dignity, their purity, their joy.

The saints' dignity in heaven is great, they are kings and priests unto God; their purity great, being purified as he is pure; their joy great, being entered into the joy of their Lord, this joy being too great to enter into them.

Note farther, How these glorified saints do ascribe all their glory, happiness, and salvation, to Christ, and nothing to themselves, Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb. Sancti quasi sanguine tincti, say some; "Many of these saints were martyrs, that shed their blood for Christ."

But mark, Their garments were made white, not in their own blood, but in the blood of the Lamb.

Again, They are described with palms in their hands, as well as clothed in white. Now this denotes their victory, and the rewards of their victory. Palms were amongst the Roman ensigns of their victory. All the saints enter heaven with palms in their hands, having conquered sin, Satan, and the world, and the whole host of spiritual enemies.

Observe next, How the holy angels in heaven do join with these saints and martyrs in worshipping God, and adoring the Lamb, And all the angels stood round about the throne, and fell on their faces and worshipped God, Revelation 7:11, concurring with the church in their congratulations, adding their Amen to what the palm-bearers had said, and much more of their own, ascribing blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, unto him for ever and ever.

Where note, how the triumphant church is made up of an innumerable company of angels, as well as saints: Hebrews 12 besides the spirits of just men made perfect, makes mention of an innumerable company of angels, as part of the church of the first-born. (Angeli opadtn Sancti Anadiain debent Christo, Mediatori, says one.)

And St. Paul, That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him. Ephesians 1:10

Whence it appears, that though angels sinned not, yet Christ gathered them and us into one society, and is an head both to them and us.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 7:9. ΄ετὰ ταῦτα εἰδον, κ. τ. λ. The entire vision, Revelation 7:9-17, follows, of course, upon what precedes, but it is throughout, as to its significance, inseparable from what precedes; against De Wette, who calls the vision proleptical or ideal, because here John(2317) “looks forward from the developments which he beholds in the earthly world, to their blessed fulfilment,”—in connection with which nothing further is to be asked than how the saved enter heaven, whether through death, or otherwise. But even though the vision, as to its contents, be proleptical, nevertheless, wherever it occurs, its meaning and force must be determined by the connection of the entire Apoc.; and this corresponds to the parallelism in which the second vision of ch 7 stands to the first.(2318)

ὄχλον πολὺν, κ. τ. λ. In contrast with the multitude out of Israel represented by a definite number (Revelation 5:4 sqq.), the great concourse from every people, and all tribes and tongues, appears here as innumerable. The contrast required by the text cannot be explained away by the fact, that, if the one hundred and forty-four thousand be identified with this great multitude, the innumerability becomes relative, with which then it is regarded as harmonizing that John, Revelation 7:4, heard the number of the sealed, because they were innumerable by him:(2319) this expedient, however, is not allowed by the words, Revelation 7:9, ο͂ ν ἀριθ. αὐτ. οὐδεὶς ἠδ.; cf. with reference to the ὃν

αὐτον, Revelation 7:2. The remark of De Wette also, that Revelation 7:4, by its numerical statement, presents the idea of election with the antithesis of reprobation, while Revelation 7:9 refers only to the attaining of salvation without this antithesis, is inapplicable, because the idea of election lies alike in the text in both passages; since, just as the one hundred and forty-four thousand are out of Israel ( ἐκ πασ. φυλ. νἱ. ἰσρ., ἐκ φυλ. ἰσυδ, κ. τ. λ.), so the innumerable multitude are out of all nations ( ἐκ παντ. ἐθ ν.). The essential distinction is in the fact that the horizon, which in Revelation 7:4 comprised only Israel, now includes absolutely all nations and races, Gentiles and Jews, humanity in its totality. This is stated by the second formula with its four categories, which also comprises all sides in its enumeration.(2320) [See Note LIV., p. 258.] ἑστῶτες

περιβεβλη΄ένους, κ. τ. λ. There is no difficulty in the use of the plural with a collective;(2321) but also the irregularity of using the nom. εστῶτες, and thus throwing the clause ἑστ.

ἀρνίου out of the construction, while the next words, περιβεβλη΄ένους, κ. τ. λ., recur to the original structure of the sentence ( εἶδον ὄχλον πολύν), is not inadmissible in the idiom of the Apoc. The standing before the throne of God and of the Lamb(2322) points to the eternal communion with God and the Lamb,(2323) whose heavenly glory and blessed joy are also expressed by white robes,(2324) and palm-branches in the hands of those who have finished their course. There is no foundation for the inference from the φοίνικες of a heavenly feast of tabernacles as the festival of the eternal harvest-home;(2325) but when, also, in Revelation 7:15 ( σκηνώσει ἐπʼ αὐτούς), a reference is found to the dwelling in tabernacles, and, in connection with Revelation 7:17 ( ἐπὶ ζωῆς πηγὰς ὑδάτων), to the fact that(2326) during the feast of tabernacles, a priest daily drew water from the wells of Siloah in order to sprinkle it beside the altar, something entirely foreign is introduced.(2327) But on the other side, also, the reference to the palm-branches, which the victors in the Grecian games bore with their palm-garlands,(2328) is excessively specific.(2329) It is entirely sufficient, without any more special reference, to regard the palm-branches as a sign of festal joy.(2330)

κ. κράζουσι φωνῇ ΄εγαλῇ. The strength of the cry, besides being peculiar to the heavenly beings,(2331) corresponds to the impulse of their joy and gratitude.(2332)

σωτηρία, κ. τ. λ. They sing praises as those who have become complete participants of salvation; and this they ascribe to their God, who sits upon the throne, as the ultimate author, and the Lamb as the mediator. The σωτηρία is not victory in general,(2333) but the entire sum of the salvation which the blessed now perfectly possess, since they have been removed from all want, temptation, sin, and death, and have come into the presence of their God.(2334) Improperly, Grot, explains σωτηρία metonymically, viz., “thanks for the salvation received.” The thanksgiving, however, occurs from the fact that the σεσω΄ένοι ascribe the σωτηρία given them, to their God as σωτήρ.


LIV. Revelation 7:9. ὄχλος πολύς

“Where the mercy and love of God are praised, Christians are represented as an innumerable multitude” (De Wette, Gebhardt). Beck, however, urges the distinction from those mentioned in Revelation 7:3-8 : “This appearance forms manifestly a contrast with what precedes. For: 1. The definite one hundred and forty-four thousand is opposed by the innumerable multitude. 2. ἐκ παντὸς ἔθνους is contrasted with ἐκ πἁσῆς φυλῆς υἱῶν ἰσραήλ. 3. Revelation 7:14. The οἱ ερχόμενοι ἐκ τῆς θλίψεως τῆς μεγάλης must have passed through the great tribulation in contrast with the elect secured therefrom already before its beginning (Revelation 7:2 sqq.). 4. Finally, there is a contrast in the placing of the great multitude in heaven (Revelation 7:9, ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου), while the theatre in the preceding Revelation 7:3 is the earth. Here, then, those appear who have passed through the visitation of judgment, and suffered, although they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; i.e., they have availed themselves of the cleansing efficacy offered in Christ (Revelation 7:14), for participation in which they were not aroused until by persecution. Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. Of the death of martyrs, which has been conjectured, nothing is here said. By the side, therefore, of the sealed first-fruits, appear those who have not been purified until by the tribulation. From them proceeds an innumerable multitude of triumphing conquerors.… To the apostolic, Christian, germinal Church, to the elect from the Divine-covenant people, there is added the elect from all humanity. Since, however (Revelation 7:3 sqq.), the people of God itself is distinguished according to tribes, and, from these tribes, the sealed are taken only as a selection, and thus, also, among the tribes (Revelation 7:9) are comprised those who belong to the people of God, i.e., Jews and Christians, in like manner, the πᾶν ἔθνος includes the entire heathen world. Therefore, after the great period of tribulation (Matthew 24:21-29), and through it, a collection of the saved still continues, from all humanity, without distinction of religion, whether heathen, or Jewish, or Christian (cf. Romans 2:7-10), as well as without distinction of political relations ( λαῶν) and languages ( γλωσσῶν). For, since there is no section of the human world that does not furnish its contingent to those saved from the great tribulation, an innumerable multitude is formed, although relatively the elect are few (Matthew 20:16).”

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 7:9. ΄ετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ ὄχλος πολὺςἑστῶτεςπεριβεβλημένους, κ. τ. λ.) A Middle reading:(82) whence some reduce the whole paragraph to the nominative, others to the accusative. The mixture of cases displeases Wolf: which indeed is frequent in this hook. Li this passage is described ὄχλος, a host of the blessed, to which there is a Simultaneum(83) with the sealing previously described, and with the subsequent trumpets, under which the plague does not touch those that are sealed. Into this place this ὄχλος falls, in its own order, after their happy departure from the world. Afterwards more companies of this kind are mentioned: ch. Revelation 14:1, Revelation 15:2, etc. The degrees of happiness are various and very different; but the lowest of them, speaking by comparison, is now above all need of cleansing.— ἐκ παντὸς ἔθνους(84) καὶ φυλῶν καὶ λαῶν καὶ γλωσσῶν) In such an enumeration, the other passages either have the plural number four times, or the singular four times: see notes on ch. Revelation 5:9. In this passage alone the singular is put first, and then the plural three times, and not without reason. This multitude is led forth out of the whole human race. That race is one ἔθνος, all along from its origin: Acts 17:26. But in progress of time, while Adam himself was alive, it was multiplied, and separated itself both into tribes and peoples, and languages.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

If we inquire who these were, we are told, Revelation 7:14, by the best Interpreter: These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, & c. So that they do not seem to be the one hundred and forty-four thousand mentioned for preservation in and from the evil, Revelation 7:4, but such as had escaped, or were not in or going into tribulation, but come out. The number of the former was determined; it is said of these, it could not be numbered. These were glorified ones, not militant; they

stood before the throne, and the Lamb, clothed with white robes; clothed in the habits of such as amongst the Romans had fought, and conquered, and triumphed; and to this end they are said to have carried

palms, the ensigns of victory,

in their hands.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

великое множество Время испытаний – это время суда и одновременно время беспрецедентного искупления (ср. ст. 14; 6:9-11; 20:4; Ис. 11:10; Мф. 24:14).

всех племен и колен, и народов и языков Представители всех групп людей, населяющих землю.

в белых одеждах См. пояснение к 3:4.

пальмовыми ветвями В прежние времена они ассоциировались с праздниками, включая праздник кущей (Лев. 23:40; Неем. 8:17; Ин.12:13).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Stood before the throne; saved through the preaching of the gospel, not from among the Jews only, but from all nations; showing the spiritual progress of the gospel during the events that have been symbolically set forth.

Palms; in token of their victory over sin, sorrow, and death.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible


The People of God Coming Out of the Great Tribulation Which Is Coming on the Church (Revelation 7:9-17).

‘After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, out of every nation, and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands.’

‘After these things’ usually infers a new vision. This vision is clearly in the future as far as John is concerned, and later than the vision of the one hundred and forty four thousand, for these stand ‘before the throne’. They are in Heaven. The multitude consists of any (or all) of those who have been sealed who have died or otherwise been taken up.

The countless number is in deliberate contrast to the symbolic one hundred and forty four thousand. The 144,000 indicated the exactness with which God has numbered His own, and their relationship with the true Israel as sons of the Promise. The multitude which no man can number demonstrates the vast numbers who will have served Christ, even to death.

The description confirms Jesus’ words that the Gospel would be preached ‘to all nations’ (Mark 13:10), to ‘the whole world’ (Matthew 24:14). When Tacitus, the Roman historian, describes the deaths of Christian martyrs under Nero he speaks of ‘a great multitude’, under Domitian there was an even greater multitude, and since then certainly a multitude which no one could number. But the inference is that God has them numbered and yet they are innumerable.

‘Standing before the throne and before the Lamb’. They are there to receive the rewards due to them for faithful service prior to sharing Christ’s throne, and to be ‘confessed before the Father’. They stand before the throne of the Father, in contrast with the Lamb Who stands in the midst of the throne (Revelation 5:6), for He alone can share the Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21). Indeed they have received their white robes indicating their heavenly standing (Revelation 3:5). As the palms indicate it is a time of celebration, of victory, and of acclamation of the Messiah (John 12:13).

(Much is sometimes made of the difference between sitting and standing. But distinguishing between standing and sitting must be limited to the fact that we stand, for example, to work and celebrate, and we sit to reveal authority and to enjoy rest. It does not necessarily say anything about status. It is true that the twenty four elders sit on thrones in the presence of ‘the One Who sits on the throne’ because of their privileged position (Revelation 4:4), but they fall before the throne, both in submission, and when they carry out their priestly duties (Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:8).

Jesus Christ is seen as both sitting at God’s right hand (Mark 16:19; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:12) and as standing there (Acts 7:55-56). In Revelation He stands in the midst of the throne (Revelation 5:6). One day we will share His throne, but not the Father’s throne. Thus while we may one day sit in the Father’s presence on the throne of Christ, as the elders do on their thrones, we also stand before Him as Christ did ready for service. (Of course we must recognise that all this is symbolic and not press it too literally).

We are told later (Revelation 7:14) that these are ‘the coming ones out of the great tribulation’. This is in order to provide an incentive to the church in the face of the coming tribulation anticipated by John’s visions and his letters to the churches. They are not necessarily all martyrs, for some will suffer tribulation and die naturally, but they have all suffered tribulation.

The ‘great tribulation’ is that referred to in Revelation 2:22 (the definite article referring back to that previous reference - a pattern in Revelation), and is thus experienced to some extent by the churches. It is not the same as that in Matthew 24:21, for that great tribulation was on the Jews in Palestine where it was seen as God’s punishment for their failed response to Him. That one could be escaped by fleeing to the mountains. (These three references are the only references to the term ‘great tribulation’ in Scripture).

The tribulation here is not primarily for Christians. It has in mind the sufferings of the world in the chapters to come, and Christians are to some extent protected from it. That is why those in Thyatira were warned that they may lose that protection if they did not repent (Revelation 2:22). But Christians do have to face the wrath of the world, even though they escape the wrath of God, and the world was clearly giving them a hard time. John has this very much in mind. As Jesus said, ‘in the world you have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John next saw another vision (cf. Revelation 7:1; Revelation 4:1). This vision seems to reveal things happening in heaven at the same time as what John saw happening on earth in Revelation 7:1-8.

John saw an innumerable multitude of people in heaven before God"s throne. They came from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue on earth-Gentiles and Jews (cf. Revelation 5:9; Revelation 11:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:15; Genesis 17:4-6; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 48:19). They stood clothed in white robes (flowing stoles, cf. Revelation 6:11) symbolic of their righteousness and purity ( Revelation 7:14). This group appears to be the same as the one referred to earlier in Revelation 6:9-11 (cf. Revelation 7:14). These believers died either natural or violent deaths during the first half of the Tribulation. They have joined the angels in the heavenly throne-room that John saw previously (chs4-5; cf. Revelation 7:11). Now they hold palm branches symbolizing their victory and joy (cf. John 12:13). They are worshipping and serving God in heaven before the Millennium. Amillennialists typically view this group as including the whole church, including the last generation of Christians, in heaven. [Note: E.g, Charles, 1:202; Beale, pp426-30; and Beasley-Murray, p145.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 7:9. The vision now introduced is distinguished from the former by the fact that it belongs to heaven, while the sealing took place on earth. Those beheld stand before the throne and before the Lamb (comp. Revelation 4:5-6; Revelation 4:10, Revelation 5:8, etc.), and the other particulars correspond. They are clothed with white robes, emblematic of priestly purity. They have palms in their hands, not palms of victory at heathen games, but palms of festive joy, especially of the least of Tabernacles. The whole scene appears to be modelled upon that of John 12:12, etc., even the great multitude here reminding us of that mentioned there.

This great multitude is out of every nation, the word ‘nation’ being then enlarged and supplemented. The terms used are four, an indication of the universality of the host. But not Gentile Christians alone are included; Jewish Christians must also be referred to; a fact throwing a reflex light upon the vision of the sealing, and confirming the conclusion already reached, that the 144,000 are not to be confined to the latter class. Nor does the statement that this is a multitude which no man could number prove that it is a larger company than the 144,000, for these figures are to be understood not numerically, but symbolically and theologically.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Revelation 7:9. After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude — This first refers to the happy and prosperous state of the church at the end of so many grievous persecutions and sufferings: for an innumerable multitude of all nations and tongues embraced the gospel, and are here represented as clothed with white robes, in token of their acceptance with God, and their sanctification through his Holy Spirit. And, as Sulpicius Severus says, it is wonderful how much the Christian religion prevailed at that time. The historians who have written of this reign relate how even the most remote and barbarous nations were converted to the faith, Jews as well as Gentiles. One historian in particular affirms, that at the time when Constantine took possession of Rome, after the death of Maxentius, there were baptized more than twelve thousand Jews and heathen, besides women and children. These converts from the tribes of Israel and from the Gentile nations are here represented as having finished their course, and as standing before the throne in robes of glory, and with palms in their hands as tokens of joy and victory; because if they were sincere converts, brought to possess, as well as profess, the religion of Jesus, and should continue in the faith grounded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel, they would certainly be presented before the presence of the divine glory with exceeding joy, and obtain all the felicity here spoken of. Doddridge indeed supposes that only the sealing of these thousands expresses the progress of the gospel under Constantine; and that the innumerable multitude here spoken of were the spirits of good men departed out of this world, and then with God in glory: and especially those who had weathered the difficulties and persecutions with which the church had been tried during the first centuries of Christianity, when the civil power was generally active against it, and when probably many persecutions raged in various parts of the world, whose histories are not come down to us.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

John"s eyes are now lifted from the scene on earth to the one in heaven. Once again, the picture is of the redeemed, as we will see in verse 14, but this time God"s protective seal is not required because they are now around the throne. They wear white robes of purity and carry palm branches, which symbolize joy. Palms were used during the Feast of Tabernacles, which was a whole week of rejoicing. (Leviticus 23:33-44, esp. 40) Also, palms were used to line the path of the Lord"s triumphal entry. (John 12:12-19) The multitude cannot be numbered by man and comes from every nation under heaven.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

After this. As Revelation 1:19.

beheld. As Revelation 7:1 (saw).

lo. App-133.

multitude. These are converts during the great tribulation.

no man = no one. Greek. oudeis.

kindreds. As Revelation 7:4 (tribes).

people = peoples.

stood = were standing.

palms. Greek. phoinix. Only here and John 12:13. Compare the "great hosanna" of the Jews on the last day of "Tabernacles".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

No man - `no one.'

Of all nations - `OUT OF every nation.' The human race is one nation by origin, but afterward separated itself into tribes, peoples, and tongues; hence, the one singular stands first, followed by the three plurals.

Kindreds - `tribes.'

People - `peoples.' The 'first-fruits unto the Lamb,' the 144,000 (Revelation 14:1-4) of Israel, are followed by a copious harvest of all nations, an election out of the Gentiles, as the 144,000 are an election out of Israel (note, Revelation 7:3).

White robes - (note, Revelation 6:11; also Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 4:4.)

Palms in their hands - antitype to Christ's entry into Jerusalem amidst the palm-bearing multitude. This shall be just when He is about to come visibly and take possession of His kingdom. The palm branch is the symbol of joy and triumph: used at the Feast of Tabernacles, on the 15th day of the 7th month, when they kept feast to God in thanksgiving for the ingathered fruits. The antitype shall be the completed harvest of the elect here described. Compare Zechariah 14:16; the earthly Feast of Tabernacles will be renewed, in commemoration of Israel's preservation in her long wilderness-like sojourn among the nations from which she shall have been delivered, just as the original feast commemorated her dwelling for 40 years in tabernacles in the wilderness.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(9) After this I beheld . . .—Better, After these things I saw, and behold! a great multitude which no one was able to number, out of every nation, and (all) tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches in their hands. “A great multitude:” We have just had the picture of the sealing of a multitude which could be numbered: now we have the picture of a countless throng. Who are these? Are they the same as the one hundred and forty-four thousand, or are they others? Our answer must be that this vision gives the climax of the previous one. The sealing represented the Passover of the Church: this vision represents its Feast of Tabernacles. The sealing assured us that in the midst of the severe times of testing there would be those who, wearing God’s armour, would come forth unscathed: this vision shows us the fruition of their labour and their rest after conflict. The sealing assured us that God’s hidden ones would be safe in trouble: this tells us that they have come safe out of it—they are those who have come out of the great tribulation (Revelation 7:14). But how can the numbered of the one vision be the same as the numberless of the next? They are numbered in the first vision, as it is one of the assurances of their safety. In that vision the idea of their security in trial and danger is the main one. The servants or God are safe, for they are sealed and numbered; they are among those sheep of Christ whom He calls by name, whose very hairs are numbered; they are those whose reliance is not on self, but on their shepherd; and the sealing is the echo of Christ’s words, “they shall never perish;” they are the servants of God, known by Him and recognised by Him. But in the next vision, the expanding prospects of the Church and her final repose are shown to us. The idea of victory and peace, not so much safety in danger as freedom from it, is set forth; and then countless multitudes are seen; the numbered are found to be numberless; countless as the sand by the sea and as the stars in heaven, they are yet in the reckoning and knowledge of Him who “telleth the number of the stars and calleth them all by their names.” The numbering must not be understood to imply limitation. We have seen that it is a number which symbolises expansive energy and extensive success; it implies the real security and wide-spread growth of the Church of God; it has no limits; it gathers from every nation, and people; it welcomes all; where there is neither Jew, nor Greek, barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free; its gates are open all night and all day to every quarter of the world—

“From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,

Through gates of pearl stream in the countless host,

Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia.”

The multitude are clothed with white robes, and carry palm branches in their hands. It has been thought that these are the emblems of victory; they doubtless are tokens of a triumph: it is the sacred rejoicing of the Israel of God. The imagery is drawn from the Feast of Tabernacles: just as the sealing reminded us of the protecting sign on the lintels of the houses of Israel in Egypt, so do these palm branches and songs of joy recall the ceremonies of the later feast. No imagery would be more natural to the sacred seer, and none more appropriate to his subject. The Feast of Tabernacles commemorated God’s care over them in the wilderness, and their gratitude for the harvest. The people forsook the houses, and dwelt in booths; the streets were full of glad multitudes who carried branches of palm, and olive, and myrtle; everywhere the sounds of rejoicing and singing were heard; “there was very great gladness” (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:43; Nehemiah 8:14-17). The vision here shows us a far greater feast. “The troubles of the wilderness are ended, the harvest-home of the Church is come,” and God tabernacles (Revelation 7:15) among His servants.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
a great
Genesis 49:10; Psalms 2:8; 22:27; 72:7-11; 76:4; 77:2; 98:3; 110:2,3; 117:1,2; Isaiah 2:2,3; 49:6-8; 60:1-14; Jeremiah 3:17; 16:19; Zechariah 2:11; 8:20-23; Romans 15:9-12
no man
5:11; 11:15; Genesis 13:16; Hosea 1:10; Luke 12:1; Romans 11:25; Hebrews 11:12; 12:22
of all
5:9; Daniel 4:1; 6:25
Luke 21:36; Ephesians 6:13
13,14; 3:4,5,18; 4:4; 6:11
Leviticus 23:40; John 12:13
Reciprocal: Genesis 12:3 - in thee;  Genesis 28:14 - thy seed;  Exodus 12:3 - take to;  Numbers 29:35 - eighth day;  2 Samuel 22:1 - in;  1 Kings 6:29 - palm trees;  1 Chronicles 29:11 - is the greatness;  Nehemiah 8:15 - palm;  Psalm 72:16 - There;  Psalm 115:14 - Lord;  Psalm 145:10 - and thy saints;  Psalm 146:2 - While I live;  Ecclesiastes 9:8 - thy garments;  Song of Solomon 2:14 - for sweet;  Song of Solomon 6:8 - GeneralIsaiah 4:2 - them that are escaped;  Isaiah 35:10 - and sorrow;  Isaiah 42:12 - GeneralIsaiah 49:12 - these shall;  Isaiah 49:13 - O heavens;  Isaiah 51:11 - the redeemed;  Isaiah 53:11 - see;  Isaiah 54:1 - break;  Isaiah 60:6 - they shall show;  Isaiah 60:8 - fly;  Isaiah 60:22 - little;  Isaiah 61:3 - the garment;  Isaiah 61:10 - for;  Jeremiah 33:22 - the host;  Ezekiel 16:10 - I girded;  Ezekiel 40:16 - palm trees;  Ezekiel 40:22 - palm trees;  Ezekiel 41:18 - palm trees;  Ezekiel 47:5 - waters to swim in;  Ezekiel 47:22 - and to the strangers;  Daniel 11:32 - shall be;  Zechariah 8:23 - out;  Matthew 3:14 - I have;  Matthew 22:10 - and the;  Matthew 26:28 - shed;  Mark 9:3 - exceeding;  Mark 14:24 - which;  Luke 13:29 - GeneralLuke 15:22 - the best;  Luke 20:36 - they are;  John 1:17 - grace;  John 1:29 - Behold;  John 11:52 - not;  John 12:24 - if;  John 14:6 - no;  Acts 3:25 - all;  Acts 4:12 - is there;  Romans 5:15 - hath;  Romans 5:19 - so by;  Romans 8:37 - Nay;  Galatians 1:4 - from;  Galatians 2:16 - we have;  Ephesians 5:27 - glorious;  1 Timothy 3:16 - believed;  Hebrews 2:10 - many;  Hebrews 13:15 - the sacrifice;  James 1:9 - in;  Revelation 4:2 - and one;  Revelation 5:6 - a Lamb;  Revelation 5:13 - every;  Revelation 13:6 - and them;  Revelation 14:1 - a Lamb;  Revelation 19:14 - clothed;  Revelation 22:19 - and from

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 7:9. — "Clothed with white robes." They had maintained the rights and claims of God against a rebellious and apostate world amidst circumstances, too, of unparalleled sorrow and affliction (Mark 13:19). Now God remembers and rewards their faithfulness, they are "clothed with white robes," robes of righteousness (see Revelation 19:8). "Palm branches" express the joy of complete deliverance (Leviticus 23:40; John 12:13). God had brought them safely through their awful period of appointed affliction termed "the great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14, R.V.), and now they triumph in the triumph of their God. The palm is the only tree named in the construction of the millennial temple (Ezekiel 40; Ezekiel 41); is also named chiefly in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles, the last and closing joyous feast of Israel (Leviticus 23:40). The white-robed multitude is the only company in the Revelation said to have palms; the word occurs but once in the Apocalypse.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation".

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

This verse verifies the comments at. verse4, for here we have the same kind of persons referred to in other numerical terms. They also are said to be from all nations. etc, which would prevent us from restricting the "twelve tribes" to the Jews. White robes signified a life of righteousness and palms are medals betokenlng their victory over "great tribulation" (verse14).

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 7:9

Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

After John had seen the former part of the vision, he

beheld, and saw a great multitude, which no man could number.

Abraham's seed was like the stars, innumerable, { Genesis 15:5; Romans 4:18; Romans 9:8} his spiritual seed. { Galatians 3:28-29} sanctified believers, Christ redeemed ones, { Revelation 5:9-10} stand before the throne and before the Lamb; {see Revelation 4:2; Revelation 7:15}

Clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

White robes signify their innocency, sincerity, and purity, { Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:14} and by palms, we may understand first their victory over sin, Satan, the world; also their victory over the beast his image, his Mark, and the number of his name. { Revelation 15:2-4} Secondly, their joy and rejoicing. { Leviticus 23:40} And ye shall take branches of Palm-trees, and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. { John 12:13} The people took branches of palm-trees, and cried, Hosanna, Blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation".

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

Revelation 7:9. After these things l saw, and behold! a great multitude, which no one could number, of every nation, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands. The multitude that no one could number is a characteristic description of Israel, or the church—comp. Genesis 13:16, Genesis 15:5; Numbers 23:10. Such a description alone shows that it is not simply heathen Christians who are here spoken of, in contradistinction to the Jewish ones, of whom mention was made in Revelation 7:1-8. The note here that they could not be numbered is equivalent to the express designation as Israel there. It is to be observed that it is not the absolute, but only the relative innumerableness that is affirmed: a great multitude, which no one can number; as also in Revelation 7:4, the Seer hears the number of the sealed, because he himself could not number them. Bengel remarks that "the sealed were a great number, and the number of angels in ch. Revelation 5:11 was still greater, and of the horsemen in ch. Revelation 9:16, where there were hundreds of millions; still these companies were capable of being numbered; but the one before us could neither John nor any one number." This overlooking, however, of what has been stated above, and magnifying the numbers here to something beyond all bounds, proceeds on the error of departing from the scriptural mode of contemplating the conditions of blessedness, and adopting that of the world, which would have all to be blessed. Bengel refutes himself, when he remarks, "it is elsewhere stated in Scripture that those who pass through the wide gate into destruction are many, but few comparatively who find the strait gate and enter by the narrow way into life."

In respect to the words: out of every nation, &c., see on ch. Revelation 5:9.[Note: Bengel noticed as remarkable the singular ἔ θνους in connection with the following plurals, but was not fortunate in the explanation of it. In the use of ἔ θνος the plural was avoided, became both in the New Testament generally and in the Apocalypse (comp. 2:26, 11:2, 18) it is usually employed us a designation of the heathen. But here the nations generally must be meant. It differs so far from λαό ς that it is the lowest name, and designates the peoples merely as masses, corresponding to the Hebr. גוי, whereas λαό ς denotes them after the organism which unites them together. Because this organism in so far as it arises in a natural way, is of a very imperfect kind, so there is, till Christ's coming, strictly speaking, but one people—that of God; comp. Deuteronomy 32:21, where the heathen are marked as no people, לא עם, with 4:7, 8, "what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God?" &c.]

On the white robes as the symbol of glory, see on ch. Revelation 6:11. The angel also, in Mark 16:5, was arrayed in white clothing, and possibly the literal agreement of the expression was not accidental, and was intended to intimate, that believers when made perfect shall be "like the angels in heaven," Matthew 22:30. Their standing designation, the saints, that is, the exalted, the glorious, expresses the substance of what is symbolically indicated by the white clothing.[Note: In regard to the reading Bengel remarks: " ΄ετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ ὄχλος πολύςἑστῶτεςπεριβεβλημένους, a middle rending, whence some reduce the whole period to the nominative, others to the accusative. The mixture of cases displeases Wolf, as frequently, indeed, happens in this book." The accusative περιβεβλημένους is governed by εἶδον, which comes forth here from behind the ἰδοὺ, as also in ch. 4:4 the accusative depends on the omitted εἶδον.]The palms in the hands of the elect are, in the opinion of many, palms of victory. But when one reads in Ewald, "After having patiently endured they bear palms like conquerors in the Olympic games," we can scarcely fail to feel distrustful of such an exposition. A reference to the Olympic games is something quite out of place; nor is there in the whole of Revelation a single well certified example of such a transition to the territory of heathen symbols. But, besides, the palms as signs of victory accord ill at Revelation 7:10, where the subject of discourse is not of what the elect had done, nor generally, indeed, throughout the section, but only of what they had been. The discourse that follows speaks not of victory, but of salvation. The palms as symbolical of victory would ascribe to the redeemed an activity, which is out of place here, where all is designed to celebrate the surpassing grace of a redeeming God. Finally, if the palms were those of victory, the white robes would not alone be mentioned in Revelation 7:13. This shows that the palms have not, like the white garments, an objective meaning. The palms are beyond doubt those of the feast of tabernacles. According to Leviticus 23:40, the children of Israel at this festival were to bring green branches of palms, and take other trees, and rejoice before the Lord seven days. The latter words point to the import of the rite. It was an expression of joy, the feast of tabernacles being pre-eminently a feast of joy—comp. Deuteronomy 16:14-15. The immediate occasion of this joy was the prosperously concluded harvest; comp. Isaiah 9:2, where the joy of harvest is spoken of as joy of the highest kind. In Leviticus 23:39 it is said before, "when ye have gathered in the produce of the land." This object of the joy was represented through the fruits, which were to be used along with the green branches, and which are named before them. As these stood related in the Mosaic law to the green branches, so here the white robes; and in this we have an explanation of the circumstance, that the latter alone are mentioned in Revelation 7:13. The meaning of the green branches remains the same, whether we suppose with the Jewish tradition, that during the feast they were borne in the hand, or with Bähr (Symbolik II. p. 625), and others, that the Israelites adorned their tabernacles with them. This last is certainly what was done with them in the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:15—from which passage, however, it cannot be proved that the branches were not, at the same time, carried in the hand). The green twigs of trees, which have the freshest and thickest foliage, are always an expression of joy. Such we must maintain to be the case, unless we would tear asunder the passage before us from that of John 12:12-13, which is very closely connected with it; "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosanna! Blessed is the king of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord." If by the palms we understand the palms of joy, the symbolical acknowledgment of the salvation which is certified by the name Jesus, the two passages agree harmoniously together. As the people formerly expressed through this symbol their salvation-joy, when Jesus, the Saviour, rode into the earthly Jerusalem, so now do the elect, when they are in the heavenly Zion with Christ, comp. ch. Revelation 14:1.[Note: The word φοί νικες occurs no where else in the New Testament but in these two passages (Mark 11:8 uses στοιβά δας for τὰ βαῖ α τῶ ν φοινί κων.) But we can perceive here also the difference between the historical and the poetical style. In the Gospel John speaks of palm branches, here of palms.]The green branches cannot be regarded as means simply for the construction of the booths (the materials for which are left quite indefinite), because they are mentioned in the law of Moses without any respect to the booths, which only come to be noticed at a later period, and also because of the connection in which the feast stood with the people's rejoicing. But the truth is, that nothing precisely is determined in the Mosaic law as to the application of the green branches. The main thing was that they were there. They were merely ordered to be taken. But the order prescribed in the law rendered it very natural for the people not to satisfy themselves with a simple employment of the branches about the booths. Their independent signification would in that case have readily fallen into the shade. That the custom of bearing the palms in the hand had at any rate become common before the period at which the Apocalypse was written is certain from Macc. Revelation 10:7, where it is said of the celebration of the feast of tabernacles after the temple had been consecrated, "And they bare branches and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place," where, also, the bearing of the palm branches was an expression of joy for the deliverance that had been obtained. It is further evident from Jos. Ant. B. Revelation 13:13, § 5, and from the passage before us itself, as soon as it is admitted that the palms are the palms of the feast of tabernacles. And that they really were so we can the less doubt, as several of the traits also in what follows point to a heavenly celebration of the feast of tabernacles; comp. Revelation 7:15, where allusion is made to the booths; Revelation 7:16, where the notes given of the misery from which the redeemed had been taken, are derived from the leading features of the distressed condition that belonged to Israel in the literal wilderness; Revelation 7:17, where there seems to be a reference to the rite of pouring out water at the feast of tabernacles. The expression: and palms in their hands, cannot but remind one of the Jewish tradition, according to which every Israelite carried a bunch of green branches in his right hand and an apple in the left.

From the preceding remarks we have before us a celebration of the feast of tabernacles in heaven. There is the less reason for controverting such a view, as an ideal keeping of the feast of tabernacles occurs even in the Old Testament. Zechariah, in Zechariah 14:16, makes the converted heathen in Messiah's time repair to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of tabernacles in gratitude to God for his having graciously led them through the wilderness, and for the blessings of salvation conferred upon them (see Christology on the passage.) The feast of tabernacles, according to its double signification, the historical and the natural, was admirably fitted for serving as a type of this heavenly solemnity. As regards the first, the feast was, according to Leviticus 23:43, a feast of thanksgiving for the Lord's gracious preservation experienced by Israel during their wanderings in the wilderness, which alone prevented the people from being destroyed by the dangers that surrounded them, and purified them for the possession of the land of Canaan. The antitype of the festival in this respect is kept by those who, after having escaped the troubles and dangers of their pilgrimage through the wilderness of life, have reached the heavenly Canaan, the place of their rest, where they shall never hunger any more nor thirst any more, and the sun shall not light on them or any heat. In regard to the natural signification of the symbol, Bhr remarks, "With the feast of tabernacles all field-labour ceased, and winter, the period of rest, began. Every one saw himself recompensed for the labours of the year, his cares were gone, the whole fulness of the divine blessing was in the hands of all. No time of the year was so appropriate for joy and rejoicing." The application to the heavenly harvest-feast, when the elect rest from their labours and their works follow them, when they shallbe accredited for what they have here wrought in the sweat of their brow, and what God's blessing conferred on them, is clear as day. What Bhr also says, p. 658, on the connection between the two aspects of the feast, the natural and the historical, equally applies to the antitypical festival: "After having gathered in the whole produce of the field, the agricultural people found themselves at the end of their annual labours and occupations, were in possession of the promised and expected blessing, felt rewarded for all the trouble and the faith with which they had sown their seed in hope, and could now enjoy their rest. No time, certainly, could be more appropriate than that to remind them of the finished toil connected with their wanderings in the wilderness, of the time when their fidelity was proved, of the great act of divine beneficence in giving them possession of the promised land, where also they found rest from battle." The Israelite in his pains and labour on the earth, which the Lord has cursed, consoled himself by a glance toward the joyful day, when before the earthly sanctuary he should bear palms in his hands. May we find consolation during our time of pilgrimage upon earth, by casting our eye on the heavenly palms.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

b. The number of NEW TESTAMENT SAINTS too great to be numbered, with song, Revelation 7:9-10.

9.A great multitude—The question is debated, what do the above twelve tribes and this great multitude symbolize? Dusterdieck makes the former signify the natural Israel; Alford, the saints alive at Christ’s coming; Hengstenberg and Wordsworth identify both tribes and multitude as being, in fact, one body, and that the one Christian Church. Our view, as above stated, is, that they are the one universal Church, yet viewed under Old Testament and New Testament aspects. It is thus the twenty-four elders are representatives of the two-fold one Church, and these tribes and multitude are the constituency in mass of those twenty-four representatives. St. John thus is loyal to the old Church, from whom Christ sprang, yet expands the scope so as to take in the Church universal. And in this great multitude we are inclined to include, not only the redeemed since Christ, but all the redeemed before Christ without the pale of circumcision, even the patriarchal Church before Abraham, who was, in fact, a Gentile until he was circumcised. We find in the New Jerusalem a parallel to the twenty-four elders in the twelve apostolic names on its foundations, and its twelve tribal gates, Revelation 21:12; Revelation 21:14, where see notes.

No man could number—The twelve tribes could be definitely, though symbolically, numbered; but the universal Church is innumerable. Bengel finely remarks, “The sealed were a great number, and the number of angels in Revelation 5:11 was greater, and of the horsemen in Revelation 9:16, where there are hundreds of millions; still, these companies were capable of being numbered; but the one before us could neither John nor any one number.” The idea that few are saved is probably true of the present age of the world, but not of the millennial ages, or of the whole final number. Note on Revelation 20:4.

Nations’ tongues—The creational four.

Before the throne—The symbolic and temporary theophanic throne of this apocalypse, not the eternal throne of the eternal heavens. Yet this is symbolic of that, showing, in momentary exhibition, the eternal relations of things.

White robes—Emblems of spotless purity. Note on Revelation 3:4.

Palms—Usually held here as emblems of victory. To this Hengstenberg objects as a pagan symbolism, palms being the prize of victors in palestric games. He maintains that the allusion is to the palms of the feast of tabernacles, (Leviticus 23:40,) which were a token of harvest joy at the autumn ingathering. The yearly labour, at this feast, was done, the fruit was stored, and the ease and enjoyment of winter commenced. This feast also commemorated the taking possession of the Promised Land, after the journey through the wilderness. Hengstenberg’s finding the allusion to be drawn from the festal palms is right, and there is a double reference to the joy of the arrival in Canaan and to the yearly harvest. But this festal joy was also a joy of victory; victory over the foes and obstacles of the wilderness sojourn, and over the difficulties and dangers of agriculture. And so these palms betokened victory in the pilgrimage and battle of life. The Israelite use of festal palms was earlier than the pagan, and was doubtless appropriated by the latter from the Hebrews. The palm may still, therefore, be held in our Christian hymnology as symbol of heavenly triumph over foes.

I asked them whence their victory came;

They, with united breath,

Ascribed their conquest to the Lamb,

Their triumph to his death.Watts.




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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 7:9. . . . curious and irregular change from singular to plural. = erect, confident, triumphant. For the white robes, see on Revelation 6:2 (the number of the martyrs being now completed). Certain religious processions in Asia Minor consisted of boys robed in white and bearing crowns of leafy boughs (Deissm. 368 f.); and in some Asiatic inscriptions is associated with the palm branch, which in one case is placed alongside of the meta or goal (C. B. P. ii. 496). The carrying of palm-branches was a sign of festal joy in the Greek and Roman (= victory at the games Liv. x. 47, Verg. Aen. ver 109), as well as in the Jewish world (1 Maccabees 13:51; 2 Maccabees 10:7), accompanied by the wearing of wreaths of green leaves. For the robes, see Liv. xxiv. 10: “Hadriae aram in coelo, speciesque hominum circum earn cum candida ueste visas esse”. Here = “scilicet de antichristo triumphales” (Tertullian). For the numberless multitude, see Enoch xxxix. 6, where “the righteous and the elect shall be for ever and ever without number before” the messiah, in the mansions of bliss; white raiment and crowns of palm in Herm. Sim. viii. 2–4.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

9. And there was a great crowd. This time John sees the Church Triumphant [God’s people in Eternity] as they live forever in the presence of God and his Throne. Notice that the Redeemed in Eternity area Great Crowd, so many of them that they cannot be counted! THE WORK OF CHRIST IS NOT A FAILURE I They are from EVERY race, tribe, nation, and language (see Colossians 1:23). All those Jews who accepted Christ are included in this number (compare Acts 21:20). White robes. Symbolic of being free from guilt, of being holy, and of great happiness. Palm branches. Symbolic of happiness after a victory.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 7:9". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.