Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Revelation 7:9

Adam Clarke
Bible 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.

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.”

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 448

Verse 9

The sealing having been accomplished, John beholds a countless multitude worshiping God in rapture before his throne. This vast throng are undoubtedly the saved out of every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue, raised from the dead at the second coming of Christ, showing that the sealing is the last work accomplished for the people of God prior to translation.DAR 448.3

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The first fruits of Christ having led the way, the Gentiles converted later follow, and ascribe their salvation to God and the Redeemer, with triumph. In acts of religious worship we come nigh to God, and must come by Christ; the throne of God could not be approached by sinners, were it not for a Mediator. They were clothed with the robes of justification, holiness, and victory; and they had palms in their hands, as conquerors used to appear in their triumphs. Such a glorious appearance will the faithful servants of God make at last, when they have fought the good fight of faith, and finished their course. With a loud voice they gave to God and the Lamb the praise of the great salvation. Those who enjoy eternal happiness must and will bless both the Father and the Son; they will do it publicly, and with fervour. We see what is the work of heaven, and we ought to begin it now, to have our hearts much in it, and to long for that world where our praises, as well as our happiness, will be made perfect.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 259

All who are found worthy to be counted as the members of the family of God in heaven, will recognize one another as sons and daughters of God. They will realize that they all receive their strength and pardon from the same source, even from Jesus Christ who was crucified for their sins. They know that they are to wash their robes of character in His blood, to find acceptance with the Father in His name, if they would be in the bright assembly of the saints, clothed in the white robes of righteousness. 1SM 259.1

Then as the children of God are one in Christ, how does Jesus look upon caste, upon society distinctions, upon the division of man from his fellow man, because of color, race, position, wealth, birth, or attainments? The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ. The reason for all division, discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ. Christ is the center to which all should be attracted; for the nearer we approach the center, the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, in love, growing into the character and image of Jesus. With God there is no respect of persons. 1SM 259.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 355.4

We cannot say, “I am sinless,” till this vile body is changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body. But if we constantly seek to follow Jesus, the blessed hope is ours of standing before the throne of God without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; complete in Christ, robed in His righteousness and perfection.—The Signs of the Times, March 23, 1888. 3SM 355.4

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 621

Now these white-robed ones are gathered into the fold of the Great Shepherd. The faithful worker and the soul saved through his labor are greeted by the Lamb in the midst of the throne, and are led to the tree of life and to the fountain of living waters. With what joy does the servant of Christ behold these redeemed ones, who are made to share the glory of the Redeemer! How much more precious is heaven to those who have been faithful in the work of saving souls! “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.” 5T 621.1


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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 65.4

We must not shrink from the depths of humiliation to which the Son of God submitted in order to raise us from the degradation and bondage of sin to a seat at His right hand.... It is high time we devoted the few remaining precious hours of our probation to washing our robes of character and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, that we may be of that white-robed company who shall stand about the great white throne.36 TMK 65.4

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