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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 7 - Verse 14

Verse 14. And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. The word sir in this place—kurie, lord—is a form of respectful address, such as would be used when speaking to a superior, Ge 43:20; Mt 13:27 Mt 21:30; 27:63; Joh 4:11,15,19,49; 5:7; 12:21; 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 tribulationyliqiv—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 shed his blood merely as other men 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 heaven? The fact is, that if that were all, such language would be unmeaning. It is never used except in connexion 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 Barnes on "Heb 9:14"; See Barnes "1 Jo 1:7".

 

{b} "tribulation" Re 6:9; Joh 16:33

{c} "washed" 1 Co 6:11; Heb 9:14

{d} "blood" Re 1:5; 1 Jo 1:7

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