The Study of Last Things
by James T. Bartsch

Learning about the Future to Live Better Today

"When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained ...." (Rev. 6:9)

Martyrs of the Fifth Seal

First Example: Martyrs seen in the Fifth Seal (Rev. 6:9-11)

Introduction: The question was asked, "Will anyone get saved during the Tribulation period?" The answer to that question is a firm YES. Here is the first example. The Apostle John was given a vision in the Fifth Seal of martyrs up in heaven who had been killed for their allegiance to Christ. It is my belief that they are not part of the Church, which had been raptured to heaven before the Tribulation began. Rather, they are people who had become believers in Christ during the Tribulation, but had been martyred for their faith. We call them "Tribulation Saints."

(1) When the Lamb, Jesus, broke the Fifth Seal, the Apostle John saw underneath the altar up in heaven the souls or lives (psychḗ, 5590) of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and because of their testimony which they had proclaimed (Rev. 6:9). The term "souls" indicates the non-material existence of individuals. They apparently do not have resurrected bodies, so they cannot be part of the Church, which had been resurrected or had been given resurrection bodies prior to the Tribulation. (1 Cor. 15:50-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). (See also the discussion of Constable at Rev. 6:9.)

(2) They cried out loudly, pleading for vengeance upon the “Earth-Dwellers” who had killed them (Rev. 6:10). This shows that, after death, we still have a memory of what happened on earth, even painful events. Tears and sorrow and pain will be removed in connection with New Earth (Rev. 21:4).

(3) To each was given a white robe. They were told to rest awhile longer until the full number of their brothers who were yet to be murdered would be completed (Rev. 6:11).
Man is incapable of securing Biblical social justice. Only God can do that. And He will, on His terms (Rev. 19:20-21; 20:7-10, 11-15). The fact that these martyrs were given white robes indicates their righteous condition (Rev. 19:8, 14). It also reveals that these martyrs were not disembodied spirits or ghosts. They were given white robes. You cannot hang a robe on a ghost.

(4) These were people who had become believers in Christ during the Tribulation period and had been killed for their faith. They are to be identified as “Tribulation Saints” who are also to be martyrs.

(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB 1995.)

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Posted March 24, 2021