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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

On the Multitude in Rev 7:9

"After these things I saw, and lo, a great multitude, which to number no one was able, OUT OF all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands..."
-Rev 7:9 (Young's Literal Translation)
This verse is often used to teach that God saves men "of" every nation and language etc. But is that accurate?

The context of Revelation 7 is clearly Israel. Verses 1-8 prophesy of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists called out of the 12 tribes of Israel. These go out and call Jews from the four corners of the earth. This is all yet future. We must "rightly divide" scripture (2 Tim 2:15) and not rip verses from their contexts.

Part of the problem is the translation in Rev 7:9 of the Greek word "ἐκ" by the word "of." The more accurate translation is "out of" (see: Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon). The 144,000 evangelists are calling the elect nation, Israel, OUT OF* all the other nations. We see this in the parables of Matthew (another Jewish book).

Note those in verse 9 are "arrayed in white robes." What does the context tell us about this multitude?

"Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple.
-Rev 7:13-15

1. They came out of (ἐκ) the Great Tribulation
2. They believed in the Lamb of God
3. They serve day and night in His temple

This is a multitude of Jews called out of all the nations.

Unfortunately, verse 9 is often used to rob Israel of her promises. Does the Lord save people of all ethnicity (nations)? Surely he does. We are Gentiles and our promises in this age are not found in the Revelation.


*I'd say "out from among" is even better. We see this in the "ἐκ" resurrection of Philippians 3:11. There, Paul hopes to attain a special resurrection. Most translations read "resurrection from the dead," but that's ALL resurrections. Paul wishes to attain a resurrection "out from among" the dead. Why would Paul simply hope for resurrection? That is secure in Christ (1 Cor 15). He hoped for a resurrection "out from among" the other dead. 1 Cor 15 speaks of resurrection according to rank and order. In service, we may attain a "better resurrection."

This rare usage of "ex-anástasis" is only used here. However, in Luke 24:46, it is said of Christ:
Thus it hath been written, and thus it was behoving the Christ to suffer, and to rise out of the dead [αναστηναι εκ νεκρων] the third day,
-Luke 24:26
Christ rose "out of" (out from among) the dead.