Poole on Revelation 6:11: The Fifth Seal, Part 3

Verse 11:[1] And (Rev. 3:4, 5; 7:9, 14) white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, (Heb. 11:40; Rev. 14:13) that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.



[And were given to them (to the souls was given the title of a person through Synecdoche, concerning which we spoke on Luke 16:22 [Grotius]) gowns (a στολὴ was a garment descending to the ankles [Ribera]) white] A symbol of light, joy, victory, and triumph, as in Revelation 3:4; 7:9; 19:8, 14 (Cluverus), of purity or holiness (Piscator, Cluverus). Others: The white gown in one place is Christ, and His righteousness put on by faith; in another place glory in the heavens; but here it is the righteousness and innocence of the pious, which God will bring forth into the light, so that as lamps they might shine forth unto the conviction of their enemies, in whose presence the Church will finally be in the highest veneration (Forbes). Long had it been to defer the Martyrs unto the time of the general Resurrection. They were worthy of a certain prerogative, as the Ancients say. While consolations are given to other souls, to these is given honor, which is indicated by the gleaming gowns, as we see in Revelation 3:4, 5, 18; 4:4; but also Christ was going to give to them the Kingdom in His time; which time is called the first resurrection, Revelation 20:5, 6 (Grotius). Others: It denotes both victory won over persecutions, and the spiritual garment of righteousness (Gravius), and eternal and heavenly glory (Pareus, Gravius, Durham, Ribera), or blessedness (Gagnæus, Estius, Menochius), namely, of soul (Ribera, Gagnæus, Menochius, Estius, Durham), so that they might be Kings and Priests in the presence of God forever (Gravius): The sense is that they are admitted unto the order of the Blessed. A parable taken according to the custom of the Jews in approving and admitting Priests, whom, having been approved, they were dressing in white gowns, as Maimonides[2] testifies. It is brilliantly expressed in Revelation 7:13-15, where, clothed with these, they are before the throne of God, and worship Him, etc., as Priests (Mede’s Works 554). The white gown is that τελειότης/perfection with which we are clothed, when we, pure of all sin, shall be established by God (Cotterius).


And white robes were given unto every one of them; white robes of glory; for the white robes of Christ’s righteousness, and of a holy life, were by them put on before they were slain.



[And it was said to them (namely, by the One sitting on the throne, or, by the Lamb [Pareus]) that, etc., ἵνα ἀναπαύσωνται, etc.] That they should rest (that is, await [Ribera, Estius, Grotius, Pareus] vengeance or the judgment of God [Grotius, Pareus] patiently [Ribera]: Spoken in a human manner: For those that complain and are afflicted, with their desire delayed, are wont to be pacified so that they might rest, by some gift given to them: In other respects the souls of the saints cry out continuously through desire, and possess continually from the beginning gowns, and are continually at rest [Estius]) yet for a season little, or short (Montanus, Erasmus), that is, just about thirty years (Grotius): or, until the resurrection (Zegers, Menochius), or the day of judgment (Ribera). Which is called a short time with respect to eternity (Cluverus, thus Ribera), Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8 (Cluverus).


That they should rest yet for a little season; that they should be satisfied, and acquiesce in God’s dispensations.



[Until should be fulfilled their fellowservants, etc.] That is, by Metonymy (Grotius), until their number should be fulfilled (Grotius, thus Beza, Ribera, Estius, Menochius, Piscator). Fellowservants of the same Lord, Christ, Ephesians 4:5 (Cluverus), like James the brother of the Lord, and brothers, namely, other Christians of the common people in many places killed by the Jews. The more men shall be avenged, the more men shall perish. Thus Judges are often wont to reserve a great crowd of guilty men unto one time of punishment, as did the Jews unto the time before Passover (Grotius). It indicates that a punishment also corporal is to be inflicted upon tyrants, private in their tragic end, public by Constantine the Great, but that finally an eternal punishment follows in hell (Gravius). They are commanded to endure for a little while, until a number of their brethren, who, after Christianity has begun to reign, are added to the number of the slain under Licinius, Julian, and the Arians; and then, with the Trumpets sounding, the solemn vengeance exacted against the Empire, guilty of so much blood, is come (Mede’s Works 554). But these martyrs appear to speak, not only of their own, but of all the persecutors of the saints (Ribera).


Until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were; for God had yet more faithful witnesses to be martyred, (though not in such flocks as before,) who should die for the same faith and profession. Should be fulfilled; when the number of those his martyrs should be completed, he would avenge their blood upon their enemies.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἐδόθησαν ἑκάστοις στολαὶ λευκαί, καὶ ἐρρέθη αὐτοῖς ἵνα ἀναπαύσωνται ἔτι χρόνον μικρόν, ἕως οὗ πληρώσονται καὶ οἱ σύνδουλοι αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτῶν, οἱ μέλλοντες ἀποκτείνεσθαι ὡς καὶ αὐτοί. [2] Moses Maimonides, or Rambam (1135-1204), is reckoned by many to be the greatest Jewish scholar of his age. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Rabbinic tradition, natural science, and Aristotelian philosophy, Maimonides demonstrates great command and almost equal facility.

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