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Poole on Revelation 7:9: The Elect of All Nations

Verse 9:[1] After this I beheld, and, lo, (Rom. 11:25) a great multitude, which no man could number, (Rev. 5:9) of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, (Rev. 3:5, 18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:14) clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands…

[After this I saw] That is, In the time immediately following, after the end of the preceding calamity, and sealing of the elect (Durham). For he notes the order here, not only of the vision, but also of the events of the visions (Durham, thus Mede’s Works 726); μετὰ ταῦτα, after these things, is not used in any other way elsewhere. Thus Revelation 4:1; 7:1; 15:5; 18:1; 19:1 (Mede’s Works 726). Upon the more depressed and afflicted state of the Church, under the Type of the one hundred and forty-four thousand Sealed ones, immediately follows the fullest and happiest state of the same by far, under the image of the palm-bearing Multitude (Mede’s Works 535, 567). It is to be asked here, Unto what time, or unto what state, of the Church does this vision pertain (Durham)? Responses: 1. This vision, just as also the preceding vision of the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed ones, pertains to the seventh Trumpet; and indeed both those visions jointly pervade the entire interval of the seventh Seal or Trumpets, but separately the Assembly of the Sealed ones συγχρονίζει, is contemporaneous, with the first six Trumpets, the Multitude of Palm-bearers with the seventh Trumpet (Mede’s Works 567). Moreover, it is evident that this Assembly of the sealed, and the virginal Assembly of Revelation 14, are the same. For both are of the same number, and they are said to be sealed with the name of God, and that on the forehead. Both also begin with the seventh Seal (More’s Works 24, 703), which is the Seal of the Trumpets; so that from this it appears that after the effect of the sixth Seal, although it was to be advanced to the seventh, yet a suspension takes place, until they were sealed and thus fortified against the evils of the Trumpets; with which accomplished, the seventh Seal is opened, and the Trumpets appear (More’s Works 703). Moreover, the Assembly of the sealed, or the virginal, is contemporaneous with the Beast, as the principle ἀντιστοιχίας, of contrast, and opposition shows (Mede’s Works 525, similarly More’s Works 23). For the Virgins are opposed to the sealed ones of the Beast, Revelation 13. Therefore, as the Beast has his servants throughout his entire Kingdom, so also the Lamb is understood to have throughout the same Interval His own opposite to the former (More’s Works 23, similarly Mede’s Works 525, 699). It is contemporaneous, therefore, not only in the beginning, but also in the end; which is further proven from this, that the limit of each, as of the tyranny of the Beast, so also of the virginal Assembly, is the palm-bearing Assembly (Mede’s Works 699). I concede the final contemporaneousness, but not the initial; which likewise is to be conceded, if God should have no servants, with these excepted, that would oppose themselves to the Beast. But He has others, namely, the remnants of the seed of the woman, Revelation 12:17; 13:7. Now, the virgins rise afterwards and oppose themselves to the Beast, Revelation 14:1, 2, namely, in his decline, or after the end of his forty-two months, Revelation 13:5 (Anonymous 103). 2. This vision pertains to the entire period of the Vials, which denote the ruin of enemies and the victory of the Church. It shows, therefore, the great happiness of the people of God after the predicted calamities, begun on earth, perfected in the heavens; as the scope of this place shows, which is both to show the state of the Church in the earth, and to set forth to all soldiers the particular and common consolation (Durham).

[A great multitude which…no one, etc.] That is, of mortals (Pererius, similarly Piscator). He understands the Church of the Gentiles (Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 157), or composed of Jews and Gentiles (Hammond); and that far more numerous than it was under the Old Testament in one Kingdom and a few tribes, or under the reign of Antichrist (Durham). See Revelation 5:9. Now, the promise of God made to Abraham is in view. This in passing is referred to Jewish matters, so that it might be understood what great consolation those Christian exiles from Judea had, since the sharers of their faith from the Gentiles appear to be innumerable. For Syria was full of Christians (Grotius). Others: These words are to be referred to the preceding number, verse 4, for evidently those one hundred and forty-four thousand are true Christians converted from all nations unto Christ, persevering constantly in the true faith; whence it appears that posited there was a definite number for an indefinite (Gravius). However, these are different from those in verse 4 (Durham); not, as that number, were they sealed (Anonymous 56); as show, 1. the transition, after this (Durham); 2. that these were more than the sealed: John knew the number of the sealed, but not the number of these: 3. that the sealed were preserved from destruction, but these were martyrs, verse 14 (Anonymous). These came out of the great tribulation, under which they had been sealed. The combatants had been sealed, but these were the victors. The sealed were the same as those in Revelation 14:1, 2; but these are the same as those in Revelation 15:1, 2, who arise after the eternal Gospel is preached, Revelation 14:6, and the ruin of Babylon published, and therefore they pertain to the Prophecy of the vials (Durham). Others: The sealed live under the seven Trumpets, yet under them they are not going to endure [death], Revelation 7:4; 14:3, 4; but they obtain victory over the Beast, Revelation 14:2, 3 and 15:2, 3: but these are going to die for Christ before the beginning of the Trumpets and before the Beast; yet they are introduced here to show, not the time or causes of their death, but the felicity which they now have in the heavens, while those others are sealed in the earth (Anonymous). This is a type of the conquering Church. The former were few, sealed, separated, and hidden from the common calamity; but these are innumerable, with victory’s emblems, etc., and they arise after the vials began to be poured out, Revelation 15:1 (Forbes). The multitude of the sealed denotes the Church militant in the earth (Pareus); but this, triumphant and glorious in the heavens (Pareus, similarly Ambrose, Pererius out of Cotterius, Cluverus); as show, 1. their place, before the throne of God (Pareus); 2. that these were liberated from tribulations, verse 14, to which, while living, they were liable, and were stole-wearing and palm-adorned: 3. that these are said not to hunger, not to thirst, etc., verses 16 and 17 (Cluverus). Now, this multitude is composed of the martyrs crying under the altar, Revelation 6, and of those one hundred and forty-four thousand, Revelation 7:4, and all other faithful men from the Apostles unto the end (Pareus). The Elect living in the earth are comparatively few, and after the likeness of a flock of sheep in the midst of wolves, having need of enumeration and tally or sealing, inasmuch as they are mixed with others and divided into certain tribes and families. But the blessed are innumerable, needing no census or tally or fortifying; they are unmixed, distinguished neither by place nor clothing, etc. (Cluverus). When the Elect are sealed in the earth, Israelites come: but when the glorious are set in heaven, the Gentiles are produced; for evidently glorification, which is the summit and end of things, was more suitable in the Gentiles who were of the greatest number by far (Cotterius). Others: Here he denotes the liberty of the Church after the beginning of the ruin of Antichrist, or the felicity of the Church begun and increasing, not at any time, as previously, to be obscured by darkness, and finally to be perfected. Now, this he describes with words agreeing with the Church triumphant, both, according to the custom of the Prophets, Isaiah 25:8; 35:10; 49:10; 51:11, and of this book, in which the beauty and glory of the Church is described by that of heaven; and the temporal judgments of God against persecutors are denoted by the infernal and final judgment, Revelation 6; and, because one and continuous is the victory and felicity, here begun, perfected in the heavens (Durham).

[Out of all Nations, etc.] Now, from the fact that there are many nations either unknown to us, or known by rumor alone, to which the Gospel must be preached; it is gathered that the consummation of the world is not so near as it appears to some (Pererius). The order here differs from that in Revelation 5:9. Nations are placed together with tribes, peoples with tongues: nations go before tribes, peoples before tongues (Cotterius).

[Standing (like servants at the beck and call of their Lord, hanging upon Him, and acknowledging Him as the author of their liberty and victory [Durham]; or, most prompt in carrying out and executing the commandments of God [Pererius]) before the throne[2] (that is, having a mind, not reaching down to the earth, but raised to heaven: See Revelation 4:4: In a manuscript, it is ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου, upon/near the throne; ἐπὶ with the Genitive often signifies near [Grotius]: Before the throne, that is, either, in the Church, to which they were previously alien [Durham, similarly Forbes]; or, in the heavens [Pareus, Durham], enjoying God’s and the Lamb’s presence, according to Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 [Cluverus], in contemplation, John 17:24 [Cotterius], and perpetual vision [Pareus, similarly Pererius, Gravius]: Throne here, as in Revelation 4, denotes the place, either, of the Glory of God, or of His Gracious Presence in the Church [Durham]: Thus in the New Testament the Kingdom of the heavens is Heaven, and the Church, for those two differ not in substance: Thus Jerusalem which is above[3] is the same with the Church militant [Cotterius]) and in the sight of the Lamb] Admiring the majesty of the glorious Christ (Pareus): revived in the sight of the most blessed humanity of Christ (Pererius). The Lamb is positioned on the same throne with the Father (Cotterius).

[Clothed with white robes] Illustrious in deeds. See Revelation 3:4, 5, 18; 4:4; 6:11 (Grotius). In such dress the Angels appear, Matthew 28:3, and the glorified Christ, Matthew 17:2 (Cluverus). It denotes heavenly purity, light, and glory (Pareus). Others: As priests (Piscator, thus Cotterius), whose customary mantle this was (Cotterius). See Revelation 5:10: with white robes, that is, washed white in the blood of the Lamb, Revelation 7:14 (Piscator). This color is the cleanest, and therefore is a sign of sincerity (Cotterius), or of purity or holiness (Cotterius, Piscator), and of innocence, Revelation 14:4 (Durham), and of joy (Cotterius), and of glory, Revelation 3:4, and victory, Revelation 19:8 (Durham). Others: Clothed, etc., that is, given blessedness of soul (Ribera, Menochius).

[And Palms, etc.] A sign of victory (Grotius, thus Cotterius, Pareus, Forbes, Cluverus, Durham, Piscator, Zegers), among all nations (Forbes), Gellius’ Attic Nights[4] 3:6 (Grotius). Now, just as to Martyrs is given their honor, so now to Confessors: that is, those that prevailed to render a testimony to Christ, not indeed by death, but by torments, or prison, or poverty, or exiles, or reproaches, and other evils of this sort (Grotius). Now, those, mindful of what they had escaped, with good reason celebrate the feast of tabernacles, etc. (Forbes).

A great multitude, etc.: If we inquire who these were, we are told, verse 14, by the best Interpreter: These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, etc. So that they do not seem to be the one hundred and forty-four thousand mentioned for preservation in and from the evil, verse 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.

[1] Greek: Μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον, καὶ ἰδού, ὄχλος πολύς, ὃν ἀριθμῆσαι αὐτὸν οὐδεὶς ἠδύνατο, ἐκ παντὸς ἔθνους καὶ φυλῶν καὶ λαῶν καὶ γλωσσῶν, ἑστῶτες ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου καὶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ ἀρνίου, περιβεβλημένοι στολὰς λευκάς, καὶ φοίνικες ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτῶν. [2] Revelation 7:9b: “…stood before the throne (ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου), and before the Lamb (ἐνώπιον τοῦ ἀρνίου)…” [3] Galatians 4:26. [4] Aulus Gellius (c. 125-c. 180) was a Roman grammarian, rhetorician, and collector of curiosities, which he set down in the twenty books of his Noctes Atticæ.

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