Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Revelation 7:14

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

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

Came out of great tribulation - Persecutions of every kind.

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

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

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Faithful Christians deserve our notice and respect; we should mark the upright. Those who would gain knowledge, must not be ashamed to seek instruction from any who can give it. The way to heaven is through many tribulations; but tribulation, how great soever, shall not separate us from the love of God. Tribulation makes heaven more welcome and more glorious. It is not the blood of the martyrs, but the blood of the Lamb, that can wash away sin, and make the soul pure and clean in the sight of God; other blood stains, this is the only blood that makes the robes of the saints white and clean. They are happy in their employment; heaven is a state of service, though not of suffering; it is a state of rest, but not of sloth; it isa praising, delightful rest. They have had sorrows, and shed many tears on account of sin and affliction; but God himself, with his own gracious hand, will wipe those tears away. He deals with them as a tender father. This should support the Christian under all his troubles. As all the redeemed owe their happiness wholly to sovereign mercy; so the work and worship of God their Saviour is their element; his presence and favour complete their happiness, nor can they conceive of any other joy. To Him may all his people come; from him they receive every needed grace; and to him let them offer all praise and glory.
Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 333.2

In this morning's meeting [a conference held in Battle Creek, Michigan], we were listening to the testimonies borne here, and as the last hymn was sung—“When shall we meet again, meet ne'er to sever?”—I almost forgot myself. My mind reached over to the other shore, to the time when there will be a grand meeting in the city of God around the great white throne, and the redeemed will be singing there of triumph, and of victory, and of praise to God and to the Lamb. Well now, it brought such a solemn, sweet feeling upon me; it softened my heart, and I could not prevent the tears from flowing. Oh, what happiness we shall enjoy, gathered round about the throne, clothed in the white robes of the righteousness of Christ. No more sorrow, no more separation, but to dwell in peace, to dwell in happiness, to dwell in glory through the ceaseless ages of eternity. What a happy, happy company we may be! TDG 333.2

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Ellen G. White
Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 270

“On Sunday morning I spoke to about seventy-five of the workers connected with the Office of the Review and Herald. One week before, August 12, I had stood before a similar company at the Pacific Press, and urged upon them the importance of acting from principle. Now I presented the same subject, admonishing all to allow nothing to sway them from the right. I warned them that they would have opposing influences to meet, and would be pressed by temptations, and every one who was not rooted and grounded in the truth would be moved from the sure foundation.... LS 270.1

“Sunday evening, August 19, I spoke by invitation at the Sanitarium.... I addressed the crowded congregation from the words: ‘He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.’ 1 Peter 3:10-12.... LS 270.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 429

A voice said, “Jesus, who is seated upon the throne, has so loved man that He gave His life a sacrifice to redeem him from the power of Satan, and to exalt him to His throne. He who is above all powers, He who has the greatest influence in heaven and in earth, He to whom every soul is indebted for every favor he has received, was meek and lowly in disposition, holy, harmless, and undefiled in life. 3SM 429.1

“He was obedient to all his Father's commandments. Wickedness has filled the earth; it is defiled under the inhabitants thereof. The high places of the powers of earth have been polluted with corruption and base idolatries, but the time has come when righteousness shall receive the palm of victory and triumph. Those who were accounted by the world as weak and unworthy, those who were defenseless against the cruelty of men, shall be crowned conquerors and more than conquerors.” [Revelation 7:9-17 quoted.] 3SM 429.2

They are before the throne enjoying the sunless splendors of eternal day, not as a scattered, feeble company, to suffer by the satanic passions of a rebellious world, expressing the sentiments, the doctrines, and the counsels of demons. 3SM 429.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 970

Passport to the Holy City—Only those who receive the seal of the living God will have the passport through the gates of the Holy City. But there are many who take upon themselves responsibilities in connection with the work of God who are not wholehearted believers, and while they remain thus cannot receive the seal of the living God. They trust in their own righteousness, which the Lord accounts as foolishness (Letter 164, 1909). 7BC 970.1

The Mark of Distinction—Those who would have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. This is what distinguishes them from the disloyal, who have accepted a man-made institution in the place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God's rest day is the mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not (Manuscript 27, 1899). 7BC 970.2

Like Christ in Character—The seal of the living God will be placed upon those only who bear a likeness to Christ in character (The Review and Herald, May 21, 1895). 7BC 970.3

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